The yoga instructor
Warning: M-rating for language and some Ron-bashing in this chapter
Disclaimer: Unfortunately, I own nothing, though I wish.
Chapter 2, Her
Hermione had a very good day, she had solved a complicated case regarding the centaurs in a southern forest of England and both the centaur's leader and her boss were happy with the solution she had come up with. She always took on the departments most complicated cases, wishing to better the lives of the creatures she worked with. It required concentration, skill, diplomacy and knowledge of ministry rules and decrees along with the creatures' pride, talents, wishes and demands. In short, she utterly loved her job. However, her job was not much of a help with regards to outside interests. She immersed herself so completely in every case that she sometimes didn't even look at her watch until seven or eight in the evening. She had one indulgence, one thing she would leave her all important work for, as the schedule was regular every week, her yoga classes.
After the war she had needed some distance, some perspective from everything. It had all been so overwhelming. Ron had expected a relationship, which she had wanted of course, but it hadn't seemed right somehow. They were just too different. They had tried, certainly but after some time the glamour of being the Golden Couple, their mutual love and affection had dwindled back into friendship even though they still lived together. She loved him very much, just as she loved her parents, Harry, Ginny, the Weasleys and all of those other important people in her life. But she wasn't in love with Ron anymore. He was bored with her love of work and reading, saying she should be home more or come out with him more. She was annoyed with his lack of enthusiasm for staying in at night and all kinds of house work, he hated doing dishes and cleaning even though they cleaned by magic. He kept complaining that they should get a house elf to do the cleaning. Usually Hermione had regarded this as a joke, he knew perfectly well that she would never agree to such a thing but one day in March they both exploded.
"We need a house elf Hermione. I can't clean one more piece of cutlery, it's bloody awful!"
She looked at him, incredulous. She had heard him complaining about this since they moved in together in August almost two years ago and had dismissed it every time but she could tell that this time he was perfectly serious. She tried a gentle approach, knowing how he felt about things like this.
"Ron, this is not much work, we're not cleaning the dishes by hand. We'll be done in five minutes."
"But I have to go! I have to meet up with Harry, the Quidditch game will start in an hour and we need good seats!"
"I'm sure you can do that five minutes from now, Ron."
"This is ridiculous", he sulked, "We're celebrities, we're the bleeding Golden Couple, we shouldn't have to clean our own dishes or our house. Hermione, we have to get a house elf!"
At this, her temper rose very quickly. "Do you hear how full of yourself you are?! Do you really think you are that important?! Do you honestly believe that you have better rights than another being, just because you don't like to do dishes?! Do you think I would ever agree to us getting a house elf?!" She had completely abandoned the dishes now and was howling at him, red faced and brown bushy hair flying.
He stepped back, astonishment and anger on his face. "Well, obviously you don't understand all of the claims on my time! You always work and think of nothing else but your all important work! When I'm home, I want to relax! Not clean the bloody house!"
He threw down the plate he was holding and stomped out the door. Hermione was left staring dumbfounded at the door and then waved her wand automatically, repairing the plate. It was by no means their first fight but it was the first time he'd ever left in anger. It wouldn't be the last though. Through the following months their rows became more and more frequent and he left their flat after most fights in anger.
Everything changed one day in September, they seemed to both be trying hard to make their relationship work and she thought they were on the right path. He was at a Quidditch game that Saturday and she wanted to surprise him with a romantic dinner at home afterwards, so they could put all of the fights behind them and move forward. She readied the food and got into a long shower and put on her new bought-for-the-occasion dress. She was ready. She applied a minimum of makeup and jewellery and she was happy with her look. She hoped Ron would be too.
She was ready at five, he was supposed to be home at five thirty but at seven he still hadn't showed. She started to worry about him but he was with Harry so they would be fine… Plus she knew how to spend her time, so she ate some dinner and sat on the couch in the lounge in front of the floo with a good book and waited.
At ten thirty, just as she started thinking about going to bed, he finally showed up, completely drunk and incoherent. She helped him to their bed and they both stumbled through the flat. He kept saying random words, such as "Good game… More drinks… Come here… Fun… No more fights… Lav…Come here Lav." He smiled and she froze at the last sentence. That could only mean one thing: Lavender Brown. She knew she wouldn't get anything coherent out of him in the state he was in, so she plopped him onto their bed and grabbed her pillow and duvet and went to sleep on the sofa. It was a bit uncomfortable, so she enlarged it with an easy spell, tried to empty her mind of her livid thoughts and went into a fitful sleep.
She woke up in the morning and didn't understand where she was. Oh right, the dinner, Ron's late arrival, his words and her decision to sleep in their lounge. She went to the kitchen to make tea and peaked into their bedroom, Ron was fast asleep snoring like an elephant. She thought about waking him up but it was only seven forty-five in the morning. She should eat something before they started that conversation she knew was inevitable but as she recalled his smile when he'd said Lavender's name yesterday, her fury resumed with a vengeance. She filled a large jug of water, went into their bedroom and emptied the jug at Ron's head. His eyes flew open, he sat up and started spluttering. She crossed her arms and just glared at him. He looked up, and he knew, just by her expression, that she was furious.
"Hermione…" He couldn't think of anything to say. She just glared and waited. "I… There was this after party with the team… I couldn't say no… They invited me specifically…"
She was pissed and couldn't hold her hurt feelings back, so she started yelling at him. "Ron! I was waiting to surprise you with dinner, all dressed up and looking forward to spending time with you! But no! You came home late, drunk and muttering about Lavender!"
He turned beet root red and didn't look at her. There was silence for a long time. He slumped on the bed looking horrified. "I'm so sorry 'Mione! I thought we were breaking up, things have been horrible the last couple of months. I didn't know and I was drunk and she was there and kept flirting and throwing herself at me…"
All colour drained from her face. "Did you cheat on me with her?" Her voice was deadly quiet.
He clapped a hand over his mouth and looked absolutely horrified at his own words. "No.. I mean, 'Mione come on, I wouldn't... I... Well... Maybe..."
He trailed off as she waved her wand aggressively, his clothes and other things around the flat started packing themselves instantly. She was completely consumed by anger, never had she imagined that he would do this to her! She waved her wand again and he was forcibly lifted from the bed in his boxers and showed towards the floo, along with his things that were still packing up. She was in a rage, eyes livid, brown bushy hair flying but she didn't say a word to him.
As she had packed every item of his and forced him to the floo, he kept trying to reason with her. "Hermione, no, we can be so good together, don't do this to us."
"No Ron. YOU did this to us! You betrayed my trust! You betrayed us! We were not broken up and you cheated on me with her! Leave now!"
She threw in the floo powder and as the fire turned green, she pointed into the fireplace, looking almost mad. He sighed, stepping in and called for Grimauld Place. As the green flames swallowed him, she sunk to the floor and started crying. She was devastated that he would ever do something like this. He'd always been jealous at every man she'd ever had a conversation with, even Krum in her fourth year but that was exactly the reason she'd never thought he would cheat on her. She wasn't the jealous type but she expected faithfulness in her relationship from him, just as he did from her.
Maybe minutes or hours later, she didn't know, her fireplace lit up again with green flames and Ginny stepped out, red faced and angry. Looking at Hermione, her anger at Ron faded instantly and she stooped to pick her up from the floor. They sat on the sofa, Ginny holding Hermione tight in her arms, cooing at her. "Don't worry 'Mione. It's gonna be okay. It's gonna be okay. And don't worry, he won't be leaving our house for some time now." She'd said the last part in a tight voice laced with anger.
Finally, sniffling and with red rimmed eyes, Hermione looked up at Ginny. "What do you mean?"
Ginny started to explain. "He came through our floo about an hour ago with all of his stuff, asking Harry for a place to crash. Harry wanted to know why and you know he cares so much about you." She smiled at Hermione. Ginny had always accepted Harry and Hermione's brother and sister bond much more easily than Ron. "So he explained that things between you had been, well… tight… the past couple of months and that he had been to a party after the game yesterday. He tried to brush off Harry's attempt at getting a better explanation until I stepped in. I know you just as well as Harry. You would never kick Ron out of your flat at eight in the morning just because he was out yesterday. After twenty minutes of yelling at him, he confessed to what happened. I still can't believe he did that. So I started hexing him." Hermione looked up, and Ginny was giving her a deeply satisfied smile. "He now mostly resembles a giant leopard-spotted slug with yellow antlers and red hair. I love him, he's my brother but he can be a complete jackass sometimes." She shrugged and looked evenly at Hermione, with that smile still on her lips.
Hermione looked completely thunderstruck at that explanation. And then she started laughing, somewhat hysterically. She didn't know where it came from, she just knew, deep down, that she needed to laugh. She hadn't had a good laugh in so long and the image Ginny had put in her mind was absolutely hilarious.
Ginny then proceeded to make them both a strong cup of tea and sandwiches. They ate and they talked. Ginny listened patiently while she poured out her heart. She told her about the fights, the silence, the dwindling love, their non-satisfying and almost-non-existing sex life. They talked for hours and Ginny didn't even flinch once, Hermione loved her friend for that.
It took Hermione months to get her self-esteem back to a good place. But one day, doing her Christmas shopping with Harry in Diagon Alley, she saw Ron and Lavender together looking very happy, it was like a knife though her. All of the Weasleys had taken her side in the aftermath of their relationship. Harry and Ginny had allowed Ron to stay for a week after he transformed back from the slug, to find another place to stay because Mrs. Weasley wouldn't have him in her house, if he was still seeing that woman. So he'd moved in with Lavender. Hermione knew this since their breakup and his moving in with 'the other woman' had been headlines for weeks in both The Daily Prophet and Witch Weekly.
Just like the Weasleys, the public had been in her favor. She knew from Harry that Ron had received many howlers as well as a couple of attempts at letter-hexes. But she hated the pitying looks she got everywhere she went. She was going to spend Christmas with her mum and dad and then New Years at the Weasleys. And then she needed to get away. She had seen in muggle magazines that she could book a retreat, so she had. For six months. She had taken leave from her job and was leaving London for a small Thai island on January 2nd.
She wanted some exercise that kept both her body and mind busy as well as clearing her mind of her work and any other frustrations. So she had booked a long stay at a yoga retreat on a small island in Thailand. She would be learning meditation, inner relaxation, yoga and if she wished, she could also become a yoga instructor.
In early July, she was ready to face the wizarding world in London again. She'd had a fantastic stay in Thailand, she'd learned so much about herself and how people saw her, it was liberating. She'd had a few casual flings with tourists and in general she was just happy. She was more content and in tune with herself than she'd been in years. Because the resort was a muggle one, she had flown to Thailand the muggle way and in general she had lived as a muggle for her stay. There had been a few occasions where her wand had come to good use but she had tried to live as muggle as possible. This also meant that is was hard for her friends to reach her since this would have to be done by either muggle postal service, or email and because none of her wizarding friends had internet, all correspondence had to go through muggle postal service. Harry and Ginny had sent her letters twice a month and so had Mrs. Weasley, though Harry did have to help her stamp and mail the letters every time. Luna had sent to two letters during her entire stay in Thailand, mostly recounting the odd Thai animals that Hermione should be on the lookout for. She'd missed them all and couldn't wait to get back. Crookshanks had stayed with Harry and Ginny and she missed him badly too.
The reunion dinner at Grimauld Place was festive and after a couple of days at home to settle back into her flat, she started back at work. She started teaching yoga a month later at a studio in muggle London and Ginny was a faithful participant in her class. She taught only once a week and went to another instructor's class once a week as well. Her class became quite popular, even in the magical community. Ginny spread the word far and wide to all the witches she knew, that yoga could really help you balance you out, even if it sounded like a weird muggle-thing. This meant that quite a few witches, many she knew from Hogwarts, started coming to her class, some regularly and some sporadically and even Pansy Parkinson tried her class. Hermione had expected her to have a sour attitude towards the whole thing but it turned out that she loved it and after that, she became just as faithful as Ginny and even started to go to some of the other instructors classes as well. The three witches even went out for something to eat after the class every now and then. It wasn't exactly a friendship but it had become a nice amicable acquaintance.
Today Pansy came by her office to greet Hermione as she was eating her lunch, they spoke briefly and she told Pansy that she would be teaching the yoga class today, as the instructor was sick. Pansy had given her a wide smirk and calculating eyes at this information but since Pansy usually had these kinds of moments, she didn't think anything of it and continued on with her day.
She ended her day on a note from her boss regarding the case concerning illegal dragon egg trade, packed as many of the documents she coul and left in a great mood. Apparating to the alley beside the old studio, she got changed, set up her gear in front of the mirror facing the class and went outside for a bit of air before class begun. She usually did this, a technique she'd learned at the retreat and it was always good before a class. Change your scenery, relax, let go of your daily life, feel, listen and be at one with your core. Just before six she climbed the stairs to the first floor, and went inside. Everyone started getting to their feet, ending the conversations that had been bouncing around the room.
"Welcome everyone. To the newcomers of this class, thank you for coming and I hope you'll enjoy it and to the repeats, welcome back." She had started using her version of Dumbledore's greeting at the welcoming feasts from Hogwarts, she loved how it set such a friendly tone to her class.
She looked smiling around her class, her eyes fell on him and she froze. There was no way she had imagined that that tall man with a shock of blond hair and those steel gray eyes she now looked directly into would ever come to her class. Pansy! That explained her expression earlier! She scowled at Pansy and took a very deep breath. She was going to need all of those centering techniques she had learned at the retreat to make it through the next hour.
I hope you're enjoying the story, please R&R!