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Chapter 7 : What could have been
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I opened my eyes as soon as I felt solid ground under my feet and was stunned to see I was in my old garden, the one of the house I lived in before I was married. But why here? Why had Kingsley and Ron chosen here?
"I thought Draco sold this place years ago." I murmered, half to myself.
"Well he didn't." Ron answered shortly.
Walking up the path to the front door I felt safe, like I was coming home. The door creaked lightly as Ron unlocked it and everything looked as it had in those days, the days before I was married, before Draco, the days I was with Ron.
Looking over at Ron, I could tell he was feeling the same, especially as his eyes came to rest on the picture of us at my Hogwarts graduation party, arm in arm and smiling. Ron cleared his throat and made hiw way to the lounge, lighting the candles with a lazy flick of his wand.
"We should travel to your house and get your belongings." Ron said awkwardly.
"Ok." I agreed, taking a pinch of floo powder from the jar on the mantle and tossing it into the flames. I was about to step into the fire when Ron stopped me.
"Wait. I should go first. In case someone is waiting for you at your house." Ron decided, determinedly. "Where do I need to go?" he asked.
"Willow Hall. The study has a cream rug, dark wood furniture and a chess set and chairs across from the fireplace." I explained.
Ron merely nodded and with a whoosh was off in a few moments. I decided to give him a minutes head start. I stared around my old home, and it felt like I hadn't ever really left. All the same furniture was here, all the same ornaments. I took a lit candle and headed to the study. Here at last was proof that I had not travelled in time. Most of the shelves were bare, my books having been taken to our home when we moved.
Decideing that Ron had long enough, I followed him through the flames and within two minutes I was standing in the study. As my eyes came to rest on the chess set, it brought to mind all the games Draco and I had played. Draco had inisisted in us playing a game once a week and trying to teach me how to get better. But we had not played in a long time.
"Hermione?" Ron called.
"Here." I answered.
Ron entered the study cautiously. "I've checked the whole house, there's no-one here. We'd best be quick. Have you got a bag?" Ron questioned.
"I do." I replied, gesturing to my handbag. "I'll start here and then I'll get my clothes."
"Be quick, Hermione. They could be watching." Ron cautioned.
I did not reply, but instead I started grabbing some books off the shelves. I was almost done when I realised my favourite book wasn't there. I scanned the shelves and noticed many other titles were missing. Sighing to myself I figured I must have left it by my bed and hesitating for a moment, I grabbed the chess set and placed it in my bag.
Hurrying upstairs to my room, I started grabbing the clothes out of my wardrobe and stuffing them into my bag. Looking around the room, I was pained by so many memories and recollections. On my bedside table was a picture of Scorpius, tenderly craddled in my arms. I took the picture with me as well as the jewellry box it rested on.
I was about to leave the room when I saw a picture of Draco lying on teh grass of our backyard, smiling and laughing. There were so few pictures of Draco because he normally held the camera. My hand drew towards the frame to take it when at the last second I pulled myself away.
I don't even know if he still loves me or wants to be with me. Do I want to get myself hoping for him when he may not even want me?
I headed downstairs to Ron and the study. I sighed to myself as I cast an eye over my home.
Who knows when I will see you again?
"Have you got everything?" Ron enquired
"I think so. No wait." I called as I dashed off to the kitchen.
I quickly went through the cupboards and fridge, grabbing food to take with me. I had remembered how miserable Ron was without a good dinner and there was sure to be no food at my cottage. Satisfied at last there was nothing else I wanted, I returned to the study where Ron was waiting.
Striding over to the fireplace I took a deep breath. Grabbing a pinch of floo powder, I tossed in into the fire and was about to step into the flames when Ron grabbed my arm.
"Are you sure you have everything? You can't go back once you leave." Ron asked.
"I know. I have everything I need." But not everyhting I want. My mind silently added.
I whispered my destination and returned to my old house. Stepping out onto the hearth, I grabbed the mantle to steady myself. Opening my bag, I waved my wand and watched as the various items flew to the correct places in the house.
Entering the kitchen I started to prepare chicken and potatoes with a side salad for dinner. It was something I remembered Ron enjoying. The oven door had just shut as I heard Ron arrive in the lounge room.
"Hermione?" he called cautiously.
"In the kitchen." I sang out.
"Something smells good." He said smiling as he entered the room.
"Roast chicken and potatoes, salad and a rosemary gravy." I answered.
"Sounds delicious. I'll just be upstairs getting changed." Ron announced, heading out of the kitchen.
As I heard him climb the stairs, I couldn't help but supress a smile. We sounded like a happily married couple from the 1950s.
We almost were. And it has been a long time since Draco and I were like that. I thought sadly.
The food was soon ready and Ron and I shared it in silence. I felt awkward. This exact same situation could have been real if things had turned out differently all those years ago. After dinner I cleared the dishes and kitchen while Ron sat in the lounge. As soon as I had finished I called to Ron.
"I'm going to turn in. It's been a very big day for me."
"Of course. I'll try to be quiet. Sleep well." Ron said, gently.
As soon as I was in my room I sat dow on my bed and cried. I cried for my son, I cried for the disappointment and fear these strangers had put into my life and I cried for Draco. And somewhere in the middle of it all, I fell asleep.
The next day I spent in my study, working on reports and drafts of bills and laws, owling my work at the end of the day. Ron meanwhile slept late and went shopping in town for food under the guise of Polyjuice potion. At night I cooked dinner and Ron and I would stay up talking and playing chess. And in my bed by myself I would cry myself to sleep, sick with worry about my parents, my son and my husband.
The days soon fell into that pattern and time slipped away. Not being able to hear from them was hard. The only communication I had with the outside world was the newspapers and magazines Ron would bring back from shopping. The word for each of us being absent was plausible. Draco was on business overseas, Ron on holiday and I was sick and confined to my home while I recovered. And I gradually opened up to Ron more and more about my life with Draco, or more accurately the problems we had been having:
My sensitivity over people thinking I married Draco for money or influence, people judging me on my new last name and not my work, Draco objecting to my promotion, Astoria working for his company, Draco not telling me and having to find out from his mother, Narcissa interfering in our relationship, Rita Skeeters continued and unwavering public attacks on our relationship, The stress and tiredness of being a new mother, The long hours we each worked and not seeing much of each other and when we did spend time together all we did was argue. It had been so long since we had spent time as a couple or even said "I love you" to each other and now the pain of speration from all those I loved had made things a thousand times worse.
"And the worst part is I don't know if he still loves me. He and I haven't been happy for awhile." I sobbed.
"Hermione, I'm sure Malfoy cares for you." Ron comforted me in a hollow voice.
"If he loved me, then why did he leave me alone? Why didn't he leave me a note or anything?"
I started crying and Ron hugged me close, stroking my back.
"Why did he leave me?" I choked out.
"I don't know, Hermione. If you were mine I wouldn't ever leave you. And you'd never doubt for a second that you are loved. I still love you, Hermione." Ron confessed.
I pulled back and he looked me in the eyes, wiping away my tears. He leant forward to kiss me and at the last second I turned away.
"Ron.... I.." I started.
"I understand, Hermione. You're Malfoys wife now. I shouldn't have, it was wrong and foolish of me." Ron said as he rose from the couch.
"But what if I wanted to?" I asked.
"It would still be wrong of me. I'd be taking advantage of you. Even if you and Malfoy aren't in love you are still married and I won't interfer with that. Goodnight Hermione." Ron whispered as he headed upstairs to his room.
I remained seated on the couch and I cried. Now I was unsure of myself, of my heart. Part if me had never given up on Ron and still loved him, another part was still in love with Draco, but it was finding it harder to hold on to that love. It had been two months since I had last seen him and the worry and extra distance was wearing my love away.
Living like this made me see what life with Ron would have been like and how almost all of my relationship issues wouldn't exist. If only I had married Ron back then or was with Draco right now, this would all be so much simpler.
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