Chapter 17 : The Thief.
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"That could have been me." Ron thought as he watched the interaction between Draco and Hermione. He had to look away because it pained him to see his past fiancée look at another man with so much love filling her eyes. He also noted that Draco looked down at Hermione the same way that she was looking up at him. When Draco had asked her to marry him she said yes instantly and they were married within the year. "She was never that way with me, always more held off. She always wanted to push our impending marriage back farther and farther. Though if I hadn't been as stupid as I was I know she would have married me. And I would have been able to make her happy. " He thought to himself.
The cold January air bit at his skin as it wafted through the familiar train station. On that same wind the scent of her perfume was carried, the one she had always used. Subtle, but he knew it well. The scent was practically tangible, tasting it in every breath he took.
He watched as the tall blonde man wrapped a loving arm around the shorter brunette's back. Guiding her out of the station and no doubt back to their home, the manor. He had often wondered how Hermione had ever fallen for him. Draco Malfoy was everything they had spent so many years fighting against. It was clear something had changed because watching the two interact, there was no question of their love. Somewhere in the middle of everything that had happened, Hermione fell in love with someone else. And now it was too late for Ron to do anything about it.
"If only I hadn't gotten mixed up with the wrong crowd." A thought that went through his head every time he thought of Hermione. Of course there were other factors that were wrong with their previous relationship, but he wouldn't allow himself to think that. No, in his mind it was all because of the one mistake. The one mistake that turned into a lifetime of them. The dark wizards that plagued the world today were everywhere, and very convincing. Once you owed them something you may as well have owed them your life. "A year before the downward spiral of my relationship with Hermione I did something stupid. I needed money. I had placed some bad bets on quidditch and bet against Chet, a ring leader of a group of dark wizards." They no longer had Voldemort, but they still acted out. To this group randomly destroying the lives of others was a game, a game they often played. They had been on the run from the Ministry for a long time. Even with Harry as the lead auror, they still couldn't capture these horrendous people.
It was starting to seem like no one could stop them.
He replayed the memory in his head.
I was sitting at a local pub, trying to drown my sorrows. I had lost, again. I knew what losing like this meant.
"Hey there freckles, boss wants to see you." A gruff looking man came over and stood behind me.
"I'll be there in a second," I responded before downing my drink. Of course I shouldn't have been surprised. They would always find me, no matter where I went. I figured I might as well go sign my life away now, waiting around won't help any. I was already late getting home, it was becoming a habit now. I knew Hermione hated it, she feared for the worst whenever I was out so late. There wasn't anything I could tell her. In this business you kept you trap shut.
I went to the back of the bar and flooed my way to Chet's office. I hadn't ever been a big fan of apparating since the war when I had a chunk of me splinched off, only doing it when I couldn't floo.
That word was the true start of the failure of his impending marriage began. He stopped focusing on anything except what Chet was telling him to think about. Chet completely controlled his life, right down to the time he ate, slept, or went home for the night. The excuses Ron was giving Hermione kept getting weaker and weaker. He knew she didn't believe him, he could see it in those big brown eyes that he had fallen in love with. She no longer trusted him. And with valid reasoning, though she didn't know it yet.
Fighting was always just what Hermione and Ron did, it was their thing. It didn't necessarily mean that they were bad for each other. At least not at first. At first it was playful, the same way they always did it as teenagers growing up. They started getting more violent, Ron found it was harder and harder to keep his already quick temper in check. He never tried to be violent with her, instead just taking it out on anything else in the room. She was smart enough to walk away from him when he was like that.
Another pointless fight was occurring. It had started out about Quidditch, something she for some unknown reason hated, and turned into a huge argument about work. Hermione had found me a job so many times, and I was grateful for that…really I was. But it was embarrassing, having your soon to be wife be at this big job at the Ministry while I could barely hold down a small one. I knew it was my own fault but my temper would never let me accept that.
"What the hell is wrong with you tonight?" I glared at her in anger.
"I just don't want to talk to you right now! You're being unbearable." She pushed herself out of her chair and away from the table, clearly annoyed. She was always annoyed with me lately.
She didn't want to talk to me?! HAH! "You're the one acting like some big shot, like you're so much better than me. I don't want to talk to you either!" I yelled back in anger as I watched my fist crunch into the hard table top.
Her brown eyes narrowed at me. "Have you seen the way you're acting, right now I am better than you." She stormed away and out of the kitchen.*
Mass chaos erupted in front of my own hands. I didn't know what I was doing, but before long I stood in the middle of debris that was once our kitchen. I needed to leave, needed to be away. I had a job that was due in a few days time, I had a hotel on hand that I could crash at.
On my way to the hotel he managed to get in contact with my partner, letting them know I was staying the night at the hotel.
She was there before I even was. She was always so eager.
"You look pissed," she stated in an innocent voice, though nothing in this field was innocent.
She sighed shallowly, half hearted. "Here," she withdrew a white colored bottle out of her bag. The label had been ripped off, not that it mattered, the bottle was just for storage.
"I'm starting to think these are doing more harm than good." I had noticed my violence was on the incline since I started taking whatever she was giving me. I had asked her a few times as to what they were, but she gave me an answer I often gave to Hermione,"Don't worry about it".
"They'll help, I promise."
I huffed out a breath as I sat down on the edge of the bed in the room. The hotel was nothing special, just barely a step up from a motel we had stayed at in the past.I barely noticed anything in the room anyway, it didn't matter. I took two of the pills dry, I still wasn't sure what they were but I did know they were illegal and always made me make even worst decisions.
I felt the bed shift as Carla sat down behind me, wrapping her legs around my torso and pressing her front to my back. "Sweetheart, don't worry about it." She spoke softly against the skin of my neck. Carla was someone who had worked with me on a few cases that Chet had sent me on. This resulting in us spending too much time together. Too much for an engaged man. It didn't start as a sexual relationship, just coworkers at this messed up job. It never had been intended that way. It was her that had made the first move that night. She wasn't anything special honestly. She was a short chubby woman, who had black hair and a so-so personality. But she was there when I needed someone to talk to. I couldn't talk to the one person I really wanted to, so she would do. "You'll work off that owed money in no time." I felt her lips form into a smile against my skin.
"You're probably right," I said tilting my head to give her more room. I knew this was wrong, I knew it.
"Even though this is wrong," I sighed as her delicate fingers went to work on the buttons of my shirt.
"Sometimes what seems wrong is so right," her breath danced across my ear.
I was angry at Hermione, wishing I didn't wind up with some crazy bat as a fiancee, someone who flipped out on me over everything and always thought she was better than me.
Though of course I didn't mean that, I loved her. I was thrilled she had agreed to marry me. But my anger got the better of me. And that's why I agreed to what I did.
An hour later as I sat staring up at the dark ceiling, feeling her body rise and fall as she took in sleep drenched breathes, I regretted it. Deep and painful regret that seemed to tear my very soul from my body. I pulled myself from bed and got dressed quickly.
"Come back to bed," her voice cooed.
"I'm engaged, Carla. This isn't okay." My voice wavered.
She sighed, "obviously not happily."
"Very happily. I'm just stupid." And I was. I had let my anger get the better of me again, just like I always did.
"Fine, fine..but if you ever want to let that anger…or stupidity out again, you know where I am," she giggled. Not the slighted ashamed or hurt that I was going back to my wife directly after sleeping with her.
"Doubtful," I was walking out the door of the hotel that I had planned to stay the night in.
I barely heard her reply, "We'll see".
I rushed home, back to my fiancee, the love of my life.
The entire way home I worried. What had possibly made me do that? Lately my choices keep getting worse and worse.
I let myself in quietly, it was too late yet. She would still be up. It wasn't hard to find her, I knew where she would probably be.
I stood still in the doorway, watching her as she sat on the couch and read. That was her escape from anything. A book could solve all her problems. I sighed before walking over to her. “Hey.” She didn't respond. Time to grovel. "'Mione...I'm sorry, okay? I don't know exactly what I did, but I know I made you upset. I hate that, I hate when you're angry with me but I hate when you're hurting even more. I'm sorry...really." I knew I had just done something way worse than she would ever know. “Please just look at me, please. I'm sorry.”
She finally graced me with a look and a half smile."I know Ron...I know." Oh but she didn't, she didn't know. I felt like my stomach was being squeezed and my heart was beating dangerously fast.
Taking her tea away from her, I set it on the table. I watched as the liquid splashed over the side in my shaking hands. I sat down beside her needing forgiveness that she would never know to give. Or did she know? Did she suspect already? Maybe that's what this argument was really about. I had to ask. I tried to act calm, but I'm certain it failed. "Now Hermione, I know this wasn't just about my job..or work habits. What's going on?"
"I just wished that you would care about something in your life, for once." Ouch.
I cradled her to my body. "I guess I don't care about much. But I do care about you."
"I care about you too," she smiled, but not the brilliancy of her normal smile. Not the one the could light up this dim room or relieve the fog that was clouding my mind.
Softly I kissed her, nothing too deep. I was sure I would still taste like Carla and I couldn't have her find out about that. "I love you 'Mione."
"I love you."
Over time I watched Hermione fall out of love with me. And it killed me on the inside. She distanced herself and in a month's time it seemed like she was looking for a way out. She refused to talk about our upcoming wedding. Ginny was on my arse about Hermione never wanting to talk about it. She stayed out late, working late. I didn't know how often it was because I was gone a lot as well, but I knew it was more than what her job required. I didn't know if she was actually staying at the Ministry or if she was with someone. New years had left me with an unnerving thought. I knew she worked with that loathsome Malfoy. What I didn't know was how chummy they were. They seemed closer than they should be. I had watched her laugh at a joke he made, easily recognizing the way her eyes danced with happiness. I hadn't made her light up like that in a long time.
And then she dropped the bombshell…or rather an over bubbly nurse did.
She was pregnant. I couldn't bear the thought of it. I didn't want to bring a child into the world that was eroded by the scum that I was working for. I freaked out at first, obviously. I yelled at anyone who crossed my path before locking myself in a our bedroom. When Hermione came to get me I tried so hard to fake it, so hard to fake being excited. I convinced her too. Though once she fell asleep my mind went wandering that night. It wandered to all the dark and terrifying places I had seen in the past few months. And that was just what I had seen, there was so much more out there than that. The world was such a bad place to bring a baby into.
I took her to visit my parents. Telling them was horrendous. They were all excited, but their excitement just made me feel worse. I didn't want the baby.
And then I got a visit in the middle of the night, a visit from someone I had hated all my life. Malfoy.
I had been drinking too much trying to drink my mind into forgetting about how my life was turning out. When I heard a knock on the door it terrified me as to who it could be. I had learned to be cautious of doors, you never knew what was behind them.
When I opened it to see Malfoy standing on my doorstep, looking like a rejected dog I knew what he wanted.
“What are you doing here?” I yelled at him. What nerve to come to our house, the disgusting snake.
“I'm here to talk to Hermione. ” He paused. ”It's urgent. Can you get her for me?”
Are you kidding me? Sorry pretty boy, she's not going to talk to you. “She's sleeping...I think.” She had been sleeping for a while, a while before I started drinking. She said her nerves were fried and she couldn't deal with me right then. I couldn't deal with her either, so I took to drinking.
“Oh...okay. “ Again with the rejected look. What happened to the overly pompous Draco Malfoy?
He wanted her, but she had clearly rejected him. What I had seen on New Years must have been one sided. Why would she ever stoop that low. She had me. “I knew you wanted her. I could tell by the way you looked at her. But trust me, she doesn't want you. She has me and I'm all she could ever want. “
He rolled his eyes at me. “Yeah, I'm sure. You know what I'll just come back another time....or I can just talk to her at work.”He turned around to leave.
I would't let him have the last word. I bet she never told him of our "happy" news. “Did she tell you she was pregnant?” He turned back around to face me. I smiled at him, knowing I had him. “I bet you don't want her now!” I laughed before walking toward him. “I mean, I barely want her!”
And that is precisely when I lost consciousness.
When I came to my blood boiled, well the blood that was still in my body and not covering my shirt. I burst into the bedroom where Hermione was just waking up.“That bloody bastard just broke into our house and punched me in the nose!” Sort of a lie, but maybe this would help her realize how bad of a person he was.
“Malfoy! He came over here looking for you!”
She looked at me with disbelief. “So you're telling me...that Draco came into our apartment and- “
“BROKE in. He broke in. I didn't let him in here.” More lies.
“Alright, so he broke in and punched you in the face?”
“Yeah that's what I just said.”
“That seems...unlikely," she said with the same air of distrust.
“Well he did it! Why do you always take his side?” This was getting annoying.
“I'm not taking his side Ron. I'm just saying it sounds unlike him to do something like that. Tell me what exactly happened. What exactly happened?”
“Malfoy came over, looking for you. He went off about how he wanted you.” I watched her eyes go large, this wasn't news to her. She knew he wanted her. “ He was drunk I think.” I was actually the drunk one, Malfoy had seemed completely sober. “ Then when I asked him politely to leave because you were sleeping he punched me.”
After that night Hermione got worse. She turned into a complete introvert, never wanting to leave the bedroom. I didn't try to bring her from her shell. Chet was being more and more demanding. And I was slipping up with Carla more and more. She had been right, I kept coming back to her whenever I needed to release pent up anger. I was always angry. I watched Hermione completely implode in on herself. I watched her deteriorate. Instead of helping the lost cause that she was, I left more often. Sometimes even when I didn't have to work I would stay out someplace, anyplace. Watching the person I loved so much disappear was too hard.
Possibly if she wasn't pregnant she would get better. I had thought about our option from the first time I heard the word pregnant. Bringing one option up to her is what brought on the break of our relationship.
"We're not ready for a baby.”
“Maybe you're not, maybe we're not, but we have to be. We can't just pretend it's not there.”
“No we don't. I was thinking we should put it up for adoption.” I dropped the bombshell that I had been thinking about lately.
She started screaming. “What!? No! Never! That's not happening!”
I knew she would react that way…but this seemed like the only logical thing. “It's not like you even want the baby. Everyone can tell. My mother even said so, you're not ready for a baby. You can't handle it. You're not mother material, you don't want to be one either.”
“I do want it...”
“No you don't. Stop being stubborn Hermione, just sign the papers.” I opened the folder to reveal a thick stack of paper work.
“I'm not signing that. I want the baby.”
“I'm not signing this piece of trash.” She pulled her wand out, lighting the papers on fire.
I thought an ultimatum would work. “Hermione. I don't want a baby. I just don't. And I won't have one. So it's sadly come to this. Me or the baby. You have a choice. You either keep the baby or you keep me, not both. One of us has to go.”
“You can't be serious!” She looked at me in disbelief. “This is your baby too!”
“I don't want it to be, it won't be. You have a choice. Pick.”
I could see the battle that was happening in her head, her eyes acting as the windows. She couldn't believe what was happening. And I couldn't believe what she said next. “Then I pick the baby.”
She'd change her mind, she had to. But I would play this game if she wanted to. “So be it. I'll have my stuff packed and be gone by tonight. ”
Later that night when packing I tried again. “So this...” I held my hands out. “This is over between us?”
“ The marriage?”
She sighed. “It's over. We're not going through with it.”
I nodded. She would change her mind. “Are you sure this is what you want?”
“This is what I need.” And it was.
I stuck around for a while, but soon realized my mistake. She wasn't coming back. From the few times I saw her after that I saw that she had blossomed. She wasn't herself again, but she was so much better than she was. She looked like she was going to be okay. She didn't know that I wouldn't. That I had messed everything up and hated myself for it.
Eventually I decided that the only way to really be free of Hermione and Chet was to flee. America was my choice of venue. There were magical communities spread out all through the country. My family thought it was because of my rather violent breakup with Hermione that I decided to leave. That was part of it but I needed to get away from everything that had destroyed my life. The industry, the drugs, the the alcohol, Carla, and Chet himself. My debt to him had been paid back, ten times over. But once you were part of his force, you were stuck there.
My family all figured I would be back within a few short months…but I wasn't. I couldn't come back.
I had spent my days pretty quietly. I made a group of wizard friends, friends who knew nothing of who Harry, Hermione, or I. The war hadn't touched them in devastating ways, so they knew very little of it. I taught anyone who would listen about the tale. A friend even said she wanted to write a book…or seven.
I had visited home on occasion. I knew my nephews and niece…though not as well as I wish I had. I kept up on the family matters as best I could. My father even once traveling to the States, staying with me for a week. He, of course, loved it. There were so many new things for him to discover of the muggle world. I knew of the child Hermione had. Sophia. She grew into a beautiful girl, looking so much like her mother. But when I saw her I knew the secret that Hermione had been keeping from me. Sophia wasn't my daughter, the colorings of her features gave that away instantly. I wish I could say I was angry, but I wasn't. Hermione had done the best she could, she had found someone who obviously loved her more than I could wrap my head around. She had found that and still tried to make our relationship work. I do believe she thought the baby was mine, a miscalculation on her part. She must have been so relieved that it wasn't, so relieved she had no more ties to me. The woman who I had planned to spend my life with was now a mother, a respected ministry worker, and the loving wife of a Malfoy. Seeing her name paired with his still struck me as strange, but it obviously worked for them. I wish I could say I was angry at her, but I was only angry at myself. I was happy that she was doing so well. My last encounters with her had made her a shell of a person, now she was so full of life and love. She was bursting at the seams with it.
Being back now killed me, every time I was home I saw what I was missing. What could have been. There was so much that I left behind here, things that I will never get back. Everything had been stolen from me, but the worst part was… it was my own fault, I was The Thief.
*Scenes were taken from The Thief, my story before this one.
Since the past two chapter haven't been my favorite I made what was going to be a few chapters into one long one! This took more time to write than I want to admit because I changed it so many times, plus having to go back and make sure the scenes go together and all that jazz. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it! Love you all ( and reviews too *hint hint*)
ps- Did you catch the "a book…or seven. "?
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