Ido not own any of the characters in this story. The wonderful world of HP belongs to the fabulous JK Rowling.
This is my first fanfic and will focus on the slow-burning feelings between Draco and Hermione post war.
Chapter One: Coming Undone
Usually Hermione would not venture out alone at night, she was far too recognisable and hated the attention she attracted. Plus, though the war had ended six months ago, there were still snatchers and the odd death eater that hadn't been rounded up. She need not have worried, as anyone who spied the formidable witch this evening would know instantly that she was not in the mood to be trifled with. She stormed through the streets in a rage, wondering when she had become the kind of woman to have let a man treat her this way. What had he turned her into? She had made every excuse for Ron since Fred's death and tonight had been the last straw. She couldn't, wouldn't, be that person anymore. She blinked away the tears of fury as her mind replayed the events of the evening.
Once again, she had gotten home from a hard day's work interning with Kingsley to find a lonely, empty house. She did not have to guess where Ron was, he had spent almost every night drinking himself into a daze after the final battle. Initially she had tried to look after him, understanding his grief, but it wasn't long before she became the outlet for his drunken cruelty. True he had never raised a hand to her, but she knew only too well how much more painful words could be. His alcohol fuelled tirades had only intensified when he had been kicked out of auror training for turning up for a mission inebriated. Since then he had spent his days in some wizarding pub or another, regaling any patron that would listen about how he was a hero, and only returning home when the landlords got sick of him.
The little voice in her head that clung desperately to their friendship reminded her that he had been through too much, and that he had never handled his emotions well. Except now the voice that echoed her own interests, the one that said she would not bear the brunt of his temper anymore was getting stronger. He would no doubt return soon and berate her for not having dinner ready for him like a "proper girlfriend", if she could even call herself that. It wasn't as if the two of them had a functioning relationship, he had moved into her flat after the battle and she hadn't objected; but if she was honest with herself they had been living like estranged housemates. There was no intimacy or togetherness about their situation and it was taking a mental toll on her, even in the small moments of sobriety she managed to steal out of him, he just wasn't himself.
She was brought back down to earth by the distinctive "crack" of someone apparating and she braced herself as the man she had admired so much not long ago, stumbled through the door, looking a wreck. To her surprise Ginny followed him and the initial delight of seeing her friend was ruined by the look of sheer fury on the Weasley sisters face.
"RUINED EVERYTHING…MOST SPECIAL NIGHT OF OUR LIVES" she could hear Ginny screaming at him before she blasted the door open and shoved him through it.
"Ginny, what on earth?" asked Hermione breathlessly. Her friend gave her a tearful look.
"Harry proposed!" she said tearfully, and Hermione caught her breath in delight. She had anticipated this since the final battle, Harry was not one to wait around with those he loved and she knew he and Ginny had been having increasing talks about him being in danger again now that he had completed his training. She had had a gut feeling he would want to make it official before he went into the field. He was a fully-fledged auror now and would be going up against the remaining death eaters, as well as any future dark threats.
"But then why is everyone upset? I don't understand." she asked asked confused at her friend's tears.
"Oh, I'll tell you why" Ginny answered hotly. "He planned the most beautiful evening Mione and it was magical, he took me back to Hogwarts and we had the most beautiful dinner by the black lake, he even got the mer-people to sing for us…."
Hermione smiled, it was so incredibly Harry, he would choose the first home they had known together, the place they met and the place they were reunited. It was simple but beautiful. "I'm still not understanding the problem..." Hermione began
"The problem is that after all of that, I disappeared before I could answer him because my stupid brother ruined everything! And now Harry's on his first mission and I won't be able to contact him for who knows how long" she looked at Hermione pleadingly, "I don't know where he is or if he'll come back and I didn't even get to answer him. Because of YOU" she screamed at the drunken state that was Ron who was now almost passed out on the sofa.
"Oh Ginny, Ginny I'm so sorry" Hermione said, shooting a thoroughly disappointed look at Ron as she began putting the pieces together. She had been with Harry and Ron on the Horcrux hunt and the other members of the Order couldn't be contacted reliably. As Ginny was safe at Hogwarts she had been magically registered as Ron's emergency contact. If anything happened and ministry officials were called to the scene then she would be summoned to wherever he was in case medical permission was needed. She felt her anger flare up again and knew what was going through her best friend's mind. Harry, being the self-depreciating man he was, would probably think Ginny dissaperated on him because she panicked and didn't want to marry him, and It was all Ron's fault.
"Hermione, I'm sorry but I've reached my limit and you should have as well. It's been almost a year of this day in and day out, he's not my brother anymore he's just…just toxic. I need to face facts, the day Fred died, I lost two brothers" Ginny was now crying openly, not seeming to care that Ron could hear every word "I've tried, I've tried so hard….and the worst part is that", she paused and hiccupped, "is that Fred would be so ashamed of him, DO YOU EVEN HEAR ME YOU DRUNKEN OAF, FRED WOULD BE DISGUSTED WITH YOU FOR WHAT YOU'VE DONE TO THIS FAMILY" she yelled at her barely conscious brother. The mention of Fred seemed to have registered however as it had him jerking upright unsteadily and before Hermione could stop him he had sent a curse flying at Ginny. She watched in horror as the red head was lifted into the air and slammed into the wall behind them with a sickening crack. Ron's pupils swelled in size briefly as If a tiny part of him realised what he'd done and to whom, but it was too late, in that moment, all Hermione saw before her was an aggressive, drunken animal and her resentment of the last few months bubbled over.
"RONALD WEASLEY! HOW DARE YOU TURN YOUR WAND ON HER?" she yelled whipping out her own and leaning forward into an instinctive battle crouch. Ron stood up unsteadily and snarled, he snarled at me her inner voice registered in disbelief. "Protego! She yelled, deflecting his pathetic attempt at a hex. "Petrificus Totalus!" the body bind curse hit him square in the chest and he dropped his wand as he went rigid and toppled to the floor with a loud thump. As she watched him fall, Hermione felt as though he took her heart with him. It was hardly a fair fight in his condition and it was a miracle he hadn't got himself captured by snatchers in this state. She had debated stunning him but decided she wanted him to hear what she had to say.
"You dare turn your wand on me, and on your own sister?" she hissed, her livid face bending over his. "I am done, Ronald, I have put up with you abusing my kindness long enough. I loved you for years, do you hear me? I LOVED YOU! I waited and waited, I gave you every chance to love me back but now, now I don't even like you anymore" she swallowed a sob and Ron could only stare rigidly at the ceiling as she gingerly picked up the unconscious Ginny and headed towards the fireplace, "St Mungos" she cried.
The worst part by far had been telling the Weasley's and Harry. The latter had been pulled back from his mission and rushed straight to St Mungos, after all head injuries were no joke. The entire Weasley clan followed close behind him.
"I'm sorry, I'm so, so, sorry" she cried as she watched comprehension dawn on Mrs Weasley's face.
"not my Ronnie, he would never turn his wand on a woman", Molly trembled as she stared at Ginny's delicate form and cried. "His own sister, oh my little girl" she wailed into her husband's shoulder, Arthur stood there mechanically rubbing his wife's shoulder with a stone faced and slightly shell-shocked expression.
"Clearly e is not een 'is right mind Molly" Fleur pursed her lips grimly and tried to comfort her mother-in-law.
"You, you're sure Hermione?" Harry begged her and she could see the desperation in his eyes. She knew he was begging her not to confirm what he already knew, he was waiting for someone to tell him that it wasn't what it looked like, that his best friend couldn't be the culprit who had attacked the love of his life. Harry had not been completely blind to Ron's problem, but he hadn't wanted to accept the extent of it either. He had done his best to convince himself that it was just a phase and that the grief would pass but ever since Ron had been dishonourably discharged from the Auror Programme things between the two men had been tense. Harry had managed to use his influence at the Ministry to keep the story from The Prophet, for which Hermione was especially grateful, but there was nothing he could do to ease the seriousness of Ron's infraction.
"I'm sorry Harry" she whimpered, and she could swear she heard his heart breaking as he could no longer deny how far gone Ron was. "I asked her to marry me tonight" he announced to no one in particular as he tenderly pressed a hand up against the window to her hospital room where the healers were still casting spells to try and determine the extent of the damage to her skull. "I was going to give her this" he pulled out a stunning yellow diamond and ruby ring on a gold band, Gryffindor colours Hermione smiled. She recognised it immediately as Lily Potter's ring. Harry had come across it in Sirius's belongings after he passed, and there had been a lot of emotion when Dumbledore had identified its origins. The trio assumed that Sirius had taken it from Godric's hollow and had been saving it to pass on to Harry himself, but he never got the chance. "She didn't answer me" he added forlornly, and Hermione couldn't help but think that Sirius would know exactly what to say if he were here. Hermione wanted desperately to open her mouth and tell him that Ginny loved him as much as he loved her, that her answer was a yes! That Godric it was a HELL YES! But she knew it wasn't her place to take that moment away from them.
"Hermione Granger?" her attention was snapped away from Harry as an older gentleman strolled towards her, she recognised the black Auror's uniform, her and Ron had fought beside them so many times. "We need to take a statement" he told her gently. Suddenly, she felt an overwhelming urge to run, it was just too much, she couldn't figure out how things had gone so wrong. Never in her wildest nightmares did she think she would be sending the Aurors after Ron.
Author Note: I know some people will be angry with me here for bashing Ron but I feel that Hermione is too determined a character to give up on their relationship unless she reached a breaking point. Keep reading and you will see that it is far from over for Ron.
Please Review as I really appreciate your feedback.