Chapter 8 : Chapter Eight
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"It's the wrong time
For somebody new.
It's a small crime,
And I've got no excuse."
Damien Rice - 9 Crimes
"Go after him, Albus!", Lily cries from the ground. She and Hugo are watching as Rose, Albus, and James play a makeshift game of Quidditch. They are all urging Albus to charge after James before he scores another goal. Albus eventually flies towards James, only to be cut off by Rose.
"Don't be too rough," I warn out of concern. Harry laughs and plops down in the patio chair next to mine.
"Let them have some fun, Hermione", he teases as I smile and swat my arm at him. Harry catches my hand with his. My heart skips a beat, but I quickly regain my cool. We let our arms swing together between the two chairs. I let out a peaceful sigh, and watch the children play. We are all at ease, and, for the first time in years, I truly feel at home.
The rest of the day is spent with games, laughter, and relaxation. Teddy even uses the floo network to inform Harry, the children, and me that we are all invited to join him at the shops for a day out. Harry and I decline, but happily send the kids along, with the assurance that they would all stick together.
Eventually, I let my tense feelings about Ginny melt away. Perhaps she simply wants some time to herself. That's certainly understandable - children will do that to a person. I let out a small sigh as I bend over to pick up toys and clothing that have been strewn about the house. Oddly enough, cleaning up my kids' mess is comforting. It lets me know that they are growing up normally, despite the troubles between Ron and me. It lets me know that they are going to be okay. As I begin to fold some of the rogue clothing, I hear a familiar voice.
"You know, Hermione, I brought you here so you could relax," Harry says playfully. I turn around, one of Hugo's sweaters in my hand.
"I am relaxing! I just want your home to remain spotless while I do so," I laugh back. Harry rolls his eyes and smiles as I fold the sweater and place it on the couch. He walks towards me, his hands in his pockets. Suddenly, the air grows strangely serious.
"I really am glad that you're here, you know," he says gently. I feel my breathing grow slower while my heart beats faster.
"I'm glad I'm here, too," I manage to whisper. There is a moment without words when all I can manage to do is stare into Harry's eyes. He opens his mouth, but before he can utter a word, we hear the front door slam. Suddenly, Ron's screaming pierces the broken silence.
"Where is he? Where is that bastard? I'm going to kill him, I swear, I'm going to kill him!", Ron yells as he stumbles into the den. He eyes me carefully - I can tell that he's drunk. Ron turns his attention to Harry and lets out a gurgled scream.
"How could you? You knew I loved her, you bastard! She was my wife - my wife ! And you stole her from me, just like you took everything else! You lied to me, Harry, you said she was like your bloody sister! You lied and you stole her from me! Damn you!", Ron yells.
"Ron, please, calm down!", I say shakily. Ron doesn't even spare me a glance before drawing his wand and pointing it in my Harry's direction. I gasp, run to Ron, and forcibly lower his hand. Harry remains silent.
"Stop, please, just stop!", I whisper forcefully. He looks at me, and I can tell that he's been crying. His eyes are puffy and red, and tear stains coat his cheeks.
"How could you do this to me, Hermione? I thought we...I thought you loved me," Ron whimpers. I feel tears spill onto my cheeks.
"Ron, I...I am so sorry, but we talked about this...you even said that you weren't happy!", I cry. Ron begins to shake his head vigorously.
"No no no no! That's not what I'm talking about, and you know it!", Ron yells. I start to take deeper breaths while I look between Ron and Harry, feeling the tugs of them both.
"Ron, what are you talking about?", Harry says, trying to remain calm. Ron shoots Harry one of the darkest looks I've ever seen.
"You have no right to even speak to me! Neither of you! Hermione, you cheated on me with him! We were married - did that mean nothing to you?", Ron says, obviously feeling defeated. I look at Ron with complete disbelief.
"Ron, how could you even think that? I never - never - cheated on you! Not with Harry or anybody!", I say loudly. Ron rolls his eyes and almost stumbles over.
"Don't lie to me, Hermione! Ginny told me everything!", he shouts. Suddenly, Harry and I look across the hall only to find Ginny leaning against the doorway, her arms crossed. Her eyes are fearful, yet her mouth is curved into a victorious smirk. Harry breaks the silence.
"Ginny, what did you tell him?", he yells roughly.
"Only the truth!", Ginny retorts, "It's been obvious this whole week that you and Hermione have been having an affair!"
I look at Ginny as if I've never seen her before. I've always known that she jumps to conclusions without thinking them through, but this is beyond what I would expect from her. What's worse is that I think that she actually believes her lies.
"Ginny, why are you saying this? You know we would never...could never-," I start before she cuts me off.
"Oh don't play that game, Her-my-oh-nee! No one buys your clueless act. After all, you are too smart for that, aren't you?", Ginny says viciously.
"Don't talk to me that way, Ginevra," I reply. I surprise myself with the coarseness of my tone. Ginny looks taken aback, if only for a moment.
"Look at you! You come into my home after having an affair with my husband and you just expect everyone to fall to their knees for you! You've no idea what kind of pain you've caused! You could never know!", she screams. Suddenly, I feel a rush of anger. A huge amount of anger. Every ounce of pain that I've held back in my entire life seems to rush forward, begging me to release it. Ron has gone silent, and Harry opens his mouth to respond to Ginny. I beat him to it.
"Pain? You're actually suggesting that I don't know pain? How dare you even think something like that! I'll tell you about pain. The pain of finally finding your place in the world with two wonderful friends, only to learn right off the bat that one of them has a psychopathic monster who wants to kill him! The pain of watching him grow up with that stress and worry while he only has a small amount of people who actually care about him. How about going through your entire teenage years fighting a dark force that wants you and everyone like you dead? Or, if that doesn't suit you, how about not being able to even discuss it with your parents in fear that they won't let you help your two friends - you're only friends - defend themselves when you fear they won't be able to do it alone! Or, how about having to move your parents completely across the earth and blocking their memories of you! Or, and here's the best part, little Ginny, watching the boy you love grow into a wonderful person who doesn't ever recognize that you've loved him for years. Instead, he goes for someone as van, obnoxious, and vapid as you! And finally, in the end, imagine yourself settling for a lifestyle you'd never thought you would have, knowing all the while that you can't make the man who loves you happy and that you can't be happy with the man you love.I have never cheated with Harry, but I've know pain, Ginny. The kind that only Harry, Ron, and I share. So don't you dare presume to tell me that I don't know pain!", I shout, no longer caring about my secrets, no longer feeling the need to harbour them. For the first time in years, I feel relieved and charged. I feel vindicated. I feel free. I am Hermione Granger, and I am free.
There is a long pause where nobody says anything. Ron seems more hurt now than before, if that's possible. Harry looks stunned beyond all reason, and Ginny is clearly fuming. But all I can do is take one deep breath after another. After a moment of looking between Harry and myself, Ginny speaks.
"Harry, aren't you going to say anything? Aren't you going to defend me?", she yells. Harry turns to look at me.
"Ginny, I think you've done enough," he replies.
"Me? I've done enough? Harry, I'm your wife!", she says roughly.
When she gets no response, Ginny turns to Ron. When he can't meet her gaze, she turns a deep shade of red.
"Fine. You want my husband?", Ginny says, turning her attention back to me, "You want Harry? You've got him!"
Suddenly, there is a loud pop, and Ginny is gone. I turn to look at my two best friends, the only ones that I've ever had. Ron is holding his head between his hands. I feel my face fall. I wish that I could help him, but I have a feeling that I'm the last person he wants to talk to. Harry, on the other hand, catches my attention. He's staring at me, his expression unreadable. All I can do is stare back and hope with everything that I have that he doesn't hate me.