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Later that night, Hermione lay awake in bed, tossing and turning. She couldn’t say that Victor and his threats scared her, exactly. She was admittedly extremely surprised at his determination. Yes, the scene when she had left him was unpleasant, but for the most part he hadn’t fought it. Then again, how could he have done? Hermione was set on leaving and he knew just as well as she did that she would eventually find a way. Hermione’s stomach twisted as she thought back to the night she had left their Bulgarian mansion.

FLASHBACK

“Hermione?” Hermione froze at the sound of her name coming from the adjacent foyer. “Hermione I’m home.” Victor’s voice came again, the door shutting behind him.

Hermione’s hand shook, she had not expected him to come home this early. She looked at the envelope that was posed in her hand above Victor’s desk. Should she hide it? Pretend she never wrote it?

“Hermione why are there suitcases crowding the foyer?” Victor asked in a bored voice, Hermione heard him then grumble something to the maid. No, it was too late. She would leave the letter. Hermione took a deep breath and left the study, going into the foyer.

“Victor.” She said coolly, trying to hide her nerves.

“Hermione why are you wearing your coat? Are we going out?” Victor looked bewildered, a look that did not suit him.

“No Victor, ‘we’ are not going anywhere.” Hermione replied, looking straight at him.

“I do not understand. Stop being ridiculous. Tell me what you are doing.” His short temper was already loosing it.

“Victor, I’m leaving.” Hermione said, taking a deep breath.

“Well that much is obvious you stupid woman. My question is WHERE?” Victor snapped, still not understanding.

“No, Victor. I mean I’m leaving. Leaving, as in leaving this marriage. This house. And this Godforsaken country.” Hermione replied, voice still calm as if discussing the day’s weather.

“What?” He asked, dumbfounded.

“You heard me.”

“But why?” he asked, still as dumbfounded as before.

“I think you know why. There’s as letter on your desk with a list of specific reasons sitting on your desk actually. But even you, Victor, surely aren’t thick enough to need that.” Hermione answered him, still looking him in the eye.

“You are not leaving.” Victor said, his voice getting calm again.

“Oh yes, I am.”

“No, you’re not!” He raised his voice, reaching out to grab her arm, but she was too quick for him. In a flash Hermione had flipped out her wand and sent him flying across the marble flooring of the foyer.

“Don’t touch me, don’t say anything. Just stop. I’m going.” Surprisingly her voice was still calm, as she edged closer to the door. Unfortunately Victor seemed to have other ideas. He too, flipped out his wand and shouted “Stupefy!” aiming carelessly at her. She dodged it easily, yelling, “expelliarmis!” sending his wand flying into the air. “Accio wand!” and Victor’s wand went flying in to her other hand.

Hermione closed her eyes for a moment before opening them again to look at him while she spoke. “Is this really what it had to come to Victor?” She bit her lip, willing the tears forming in her eyes not to fall. “Me having to use my wand just to be able to leave this house?”

Victor did not answer her. She nodded her head. “Well, obviously it has. I have a train to catch. Goodbye Victor.”

Victor finally seemed to regain the art of speech as this point, for he stood up, his face turning red. “FINE! GET OUT! YOU LOUSY GOOD FOR NOTHING BITCH! YOU SLUT! YOU’RE PROBABLY GOING OFF TO BE WITH ANOTHER MAN YOU SLUT! GET OUT OF MY HOUSE! GET OUT! I’VE WANTED YOU GONE FOR AGES ANYWAYS. THANK GOODNESS I DIDN’T HAVE TO KICK YOU OUT. GET OUT!!! GO!!!!”

Hermione picked up her luggage and walked out the door, while he remained screaming after her.

END FLASHBACK

Hermione stared at the ceiling, lying flat on her back. What scared her wasn’t the fact of Victor’s odd change of heart about their divorce, it was his promise that he had made before disapparating earlier that day. “You will be very sorry for doing this.” But how would she be sorry? What could he possibly do?

Finally admitting that sleep wasn’t going to come, Hermione hopped out of bed and went into the kitchen. As she put the teakettle on the stove, her thoughts lead to Ron. Hermione remained deep in thought until Ginny stumbled into the kitchen in a dressing gown, rubbing her eyes.

“I thought I heard someone out here. What are you doing up?” Ginny asked, plopping down at the table.

“Couldn’t sleep, Sorry for waking you.” Hermione said guiltily.

“Eh you didn’t. I haven’t been sleeping well either. Wedding angst. You know.” Ginny said, now piling her flaming red hair on top of her head.

“I remember that all too well.” Said Hermione, smiling weakly.

“This can’t be easy for you ‘Mione, and I’m sorry for that.” Ginny said, now getting mugs for the tea from the cabinet.

“You know, the whole wedding thing, while you’re going through this divorce. The irony would be killing me if I were you.” Ginny answered, putting teabags in the cups.

“Yes, well, I’m a big girl. I can handle it. Besides, it’s a good distraction for lawyers and prenuptials and contracts.” Hermione said over the boiling kettle, turning it off and pouring water into both mugs.

“Still.” Was all Ginny said, shaking her head as she pulled out the milk and sugar from the icebox.

“Gin, can I ask you a question?” Hermione began casually, now stirring milk into her tea at the table.

“Of course.” Ginny replied.

“What was Ron like after I left for Bulgaria with Victor?” Ginny looked up at the question.

“Honestly?” Ginny asked slowly.

“Honestly.” Hermione had been curious about the answer for quite some time.

“He was a train wreck.” Ginny answered, still looking at Hermione. “I don’t think he left his apartment for a week. When Mum finally convinced him to come to dinner he smelled so strongly of fire whiskey you could have gotten drunk with just a whiff of him.”

“Really?”

Ginny nodded in response. “I never truly believed that a heart could break until I saw Ron after you left. He just wasn’t the same after. I thought he was going to try to convince you to not marry Victor, to finally tell you that he loved you, but, I guess he never did.”

Hermione stared into her tea. “He did.”

“What?” Ginny asked, thinking she had not heard properly.

“He did. Say something, I mean. An hour before the wedding. He came to me and told me that he loved me and wanted to be with me and Victor wasn’t good enough for me. He said it all. And I turned him down,” Hermione kept looking into her mug. Hermione only looked up when Ginny did not say anything. At the look on Ginny’s face Hermione got defensive.

“Oh don’t look at me like that Ginny. What would you have done? I was young. And scared. I was getting married in a bloody hour, and I was confused. I had spent so many years; loving him, Desperately wishing he would notice me, love me back. I thought I had wasted my time. I thought I was finally, finally, over him, and then it came back smacking me in the face. I had been through so much pain Ginny. I didn’t want to have to go through that pain again. Is that so wrong?” A tear fell down Hermione’s cheek before she brushed it away hastily.

Ginny was silent for a few moments. “I guess not.” She was quiet for another few minutes, deep in thought. “ But Hermione, why didn’t you say anything?”

Hermione shrugged. “What was there to say? I had made my decision and it was too late to turn back on it. Or, I thought so at least.” Ginny nodded.

“I think I went through a bride’s worst fear.” Hermione said thoughtfully.

“What’s that?” Ginny asked, looking up.

“Second thoughts.”

“So what made you ignore the second thoughts?” Ginny asked, looking at her friend.

“Fear.” Hermione replied, looking up and meeting Ginny’s eye.

~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~~~~~~~~~~*~~~~

The next few weeks were a blur of wedding preparations. Hermione and Ron skillfully avoided having any lengthy conversations, and their topics almost always had something to do with various wedding preparations.

If the rest of the Weasley friends and family noticed the curt nature of the two, they said nothing.

Ron did his best to distract himself from the awkwardness with Hermione. This unfortunately proved an extremely difficult thing to do, given she was the maid of honor while he was best man.

Two weeks before the wedding, everyone was sitting at the Weasley’s kitchen table, tying ribbons for decoration.

“Oh fiddlesticks! We’re running out of ribbon and we still have tons of bows to do!” Mrs. Weasley exclaimed, noticing that their supply of ribbon was indeed running low.

“I’ll go pick up some more.” Harry offered, jumping up from his place.

“I’ll go with him.” Ginny joined, standing up as well.

“No you can’t. You two have a meeting with the florist in half an hour. I’m going too. Ron, Hermione, why don’t you go?”

“Really Mum, I can do it. We’ll be really fast.” Ginny jumped in, covering Hermione’s trapped face.

“No. No, don’t be silly. Ron and Hermione can go.” Mrs. Weasley insisted.

“Right, no problem.” Hermione said quickly, trying to keep a sweet look on her face, despite the fact she had the sudden urge to curse Mrs. Weasley.

“Err…yeah…we can do it. Ron added, not wishing to deal with his mother’s interrogations.

So Hermione and Ron disapparated with a ‘POP’ to Diagon Alley.

“I reckon we’ll find ribbon at Knelvin’s Knitting.” Hermione said quickly, beginning to walk ahead. Ron mumbled a ‘right’ in response and shuffled behind her.

It did not take them long to find what they needed once inside the neatly packed shop. Heavily laden with packages, Ron and Hermione exited the shop slowly. After they were a few meters down the street, Hermione tripped and fell, sending her parcels flying everywhere. Ron at once dropped to his knees to help her scurry on the ground, collecting they fallen items.

Both still crouching, Ron handed Hermione the items he had collected, and their hands brushed for a fraction a second. Hermione felt as if an electric shock had gone through her, and when she looked up, Ron was looking at her. They stayed like that for a moment before Hermione had the sense to say something.

“Ron…listen…” She began, taking a deep breath, preparing to apologize. But to her surprise instead of waiting for her to finish speaking Ron jumped up and said, “oops, look at the time! Mum will be expecting us back. We best be getting on.” Then he turned and began to walk away, as quickly as he could. Hermione did not bother to try and catch up with him. She had had enough.

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