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A/N: Okay guys. Second last chapter. I'm expecting mixed reactions from you after you read this, but remember, the story is not over. There is still something major waiting to occur...

I hope you enjoy this and I apologise for the crapulentness. I have written this rather quickly, it hasn't been to my beta, and I have a feeling it's not very good. But, I could be wrong. In any case, I hope you enjoy it.

It's Time for the Truth

Hermione was woken by Draco gently shaking her. Sunlight streamed through the window of the bedroom and she blinked, rolling over to rest her cheek against Draco’s warm chest. He kissed her head, sliding his hands down her arms and onto her waist, pulling her close.

“I have to go and see Pansy,” he said softly.

Hermione groaned. “I’ll have to try and talk to Ron. He won’t return my owls and he hasn’t signed the papers yet.” It had been two weeks since Hermione’s birthday party at Harry and Ginny’s, and in that time, Draco had been living in her house. Harry and Ginny were aware of what was going on, and both of them had urged Hermione and Draco to hurry up and make it totally official before any one else got hurt.

Ron, on the other hand, was not speaking to any body. Not even Harry, who had tried to contact him. No one even knew where he was. Draco suspected he was with Pansy, but could not be sure. Ron was never at the house when he went around to collect the children.

“Do you suppose Ron has told her about us?” Hermione asked, lying back and watching Draco dress. The blonde shrugged, pulling a shirt over his head.

“I’d say not. She’d have torn this place apart if she knew. Not because she loves me or anything, but because she’s Pansy and because she could. She’ll play the wronged wife card for all it’s worth, Hermione,” Draco replied, sinking down onto the end of the bed. Hermione frowned.

“She’s entitled too,” she said softly, sitting up and scooting to the end of the bed. She lay her head in Draco’s lap, his fingers sliding automatically into the tangled mane of her hair. “We need to tell her.”


“It would be better, don’t you think, if we do it together?” Hermione whispered, catching one of Draco’s hands and kissing the tips of his fingers.

“As far as we know, she doesn’t know I’m with you,” Draco said. “She knows I’m with someone, though. Honestly, Hermione, I don’t see why she’s going to care. She’s been shagging Weasley. She’s stabbed you in the back as much as you’ve ...”

“Stabbed her in the back,” Hermione finished with a sigh. “I don’t want to dwell on all that stuff, Draco. I just want the truth out there. Harry and Ginny are right. If we let this go on, more people will get hurt.”

“You’re referring to Pansy?”

Hermione shook her head, sitting up and reaching out to run her fingers down her lover’s face. “I’m talking about your children.”

“Oh,” Draco whispered, taking a deep breath. “Hermione ...”

“I know we’ve not talked about it but I’ve thought about it and, well, basically, we’ll need a bigger house. This place is not suitable for children, not really,” she murmured. Draco slid a finger under her chin, tilting her head up so he could look into her eyes.

“Thank you,” he said softly, kissing her tenderly on the mouth. “I have to go. We’ll talk more about that tonight. And, I’ll arrange a time for us to both speak to Pansy, okay?”

Hermione nodded. After Draco had gone, Hermione showered and had a quick breakfast of coffee and toast. She was part way through penning another message to Ron when a loud and indignant hoot echoed down the hallway. Rushing outside, Hermione saw a large grey owl perched on the back veranda railing, a letter in its beak. She took it with a trembling hand, paid the owl, and went back inside.

I’m coming over. If the slimy git is there, get rid of him.

“Charming, Ron,” Hermione snapped, tearing the letter up and tossing it in the bin. Seconds later, the loud crack of her estranged husband’s apparition tore through the house and a scowling Ron was leaning against the doorway of the kitchen.

“He here?”

Hermione sighed. “No, Ron. And I can see you’re going to be totally mature about this. Just give me the divorce papers and go away.”

Ron shook his head. “I’m not signing them. Hermione, look. I’m willing to forgive you if you’re willing to forgive me. I love you. I always have. That woman was a mistake, Pansy was a mistake. Treating you badly was a mistake. I admit all that. I can change and you can change and we can be together and be happy again,” he said softly, coming into the room. “Can’t we?”

Hermione felt her face crumble at the pleading in his voice and in his eyes. “I’m sorry, Ron. It’s too late for all of that. It really is. It’s better for everyone involved if we just ... I’m sorry.”

Ron took a deep breath, and slowly, he nodded. Relief flooded through Hermione, hot and strong, and she watched as her husband reached into his jacket pocket, withdrawing a bundle of papers, followed by his wand.

“I’ll get you a pen,” Hermione said, turning to hunt around on the kitchen bench. When she turned back around, Ron’s wand was pointed at her face. Her stomach dropped at the expression painted across his face. She had never seen him look more determined.

“I’m sorry, Hermione, but we’re not getting divorced today. We’re not getting divorced any day.”

“Have you lost your mind?” Hermione hissed, fighting to keep her voice strong despite the growing sense of fear she could feel creeping through her body. A sudden thought struck her and she gasped. “Pansy knows, doesn’t she?”

Ron nodded. “I don’t think Malfoy got a very nice reception when he went home.”

She swallowed her fear. Draco was not a fool. He was perfectly capable of defending himself. “This was all a set-up?”

Ron laughed. “You don’t think you and Malfoy are the only one’s capable of deceit, do you?”

Hermione sniffed. “Apparently not. Fine, Ron. What now? Are you going to kill me? Curse me? Make me forget I don’t love you anymore? It would have to be an incredibly strong spell.”

Ron was silent, and Hermione shook her head to see a blush slowly spreading across his face.

“Pansy’s pulling the strings,” Hermione said softly. “I understand. Alright. Shall we go?”

“Weasley, still the puppet I see.” Draco’s drawl floated across the room and Hermione sighed in relief to see he was unhurt. Ron had taken her to Pansy’s house, and now the four of them were closed up in what used to be Draco’s study. Bookshelves lined the walls, and the room was dark, the curtains drawn and, Hermione guessed, recently spelled to stay that way. The window too, she assumed, would not be opening today.

Ron guided her into the room, his hand on her lower back, and Hermione shrugged away from his touch, wanting to make it extremely clear she did not welcome it. The redhead smiled indifferently, pushing her gently into a seat on the opposite side of the room from Draco. Hermione glanced across at her lover, and he winked and gave her a smile, mouthing to her he was okay.

Pansy was sitting behind the grand mahogany desk that was the centrepiece of the room. She lifted her wand and Hermione cringed automatically, not missing the smirk on Pansy’s lips at her reaction. The door swung shut, the lock clicking into place.

“Ron, be a dear,” Pansy said, motioning with her wand. Hermione folded her arms as her husband patted his hands down the sides of her body, eventually pulling her wand from her pocket. She assumed Draco had already been disarmed, her thought proven correct when she noticed a second wand lying at Pansy’s right elbow. Her wand soon joined it.

“What are you doing, Pansy?” Draco sighed. “This is all rather dramatic. I’m sure the four of us could sit and discuss this calmly and rationally.”

“No, I don’t think so,” Pansy replied after a pause. “You tend to enjoy drama, Draco. I’m just giving you an appropriate ending to your little show.”

Draco folded his arms, scowling deeply at his ex-wife. “Has she bothered to give you a script, Weasley, or are you just expected to wing it?”

“Shut up, Malfoy,” Ron snapped, his voice coming from behind them. Hermione heard his footsteps come closer, and she closed her eyes, until they passed her and moved towards Pansy. When she looked, Ron was standing behind the other woman, his wand drawn and his expression stony.

“Now,” Pansy began, twirling her wand around between her slim fingers. Her lips, Hermione noticed, were painted her characteristic blood red, her fingernails too, and her hair was as perfect as always, piled glamorously on top of her head. She was wearing an expensive looking black blouse and as usual, Hermione found herself feeling drab. She snickered at herself. It was an absurd thing to be thinking in their present situation.

“Is something amusing you, Hermione?” Pansy asked, syrup dripping from every syllable. She sounded no different to the last time Hermione had spoken to her. Her eyes, however, were deadly.

“What do you see in Ron?” Hermione blurted, unable to stop herself. Pansy was so polished and sophisticated and Ron was ... Ron. She couldn’t picture it, the two of them, having dinner, being together as a couple. It didn’t seem right.

“I’ve wondered the same thing,” Draco muttered from across the room. Ron scowled dangerously.

“Something you obviously never saw,” he snapped at Hermione, who sighed and looked away.

“Yes, obviously,” she said softly. “I never knew you could be so cruel.”

“Cruel?” Ron shouted, making her jump. “Let’s talk about that, shall we?”

“Calm down,” Pansy cooed, reaching around to grasp Ron’s hand in hers. She squeezed gently, watching Ron until he’d taken a deep breath. Draco gagged in the background, and Pansy turned on him venomously. “No one asked you to comment, Draco. I really don’t care if you’re unimpressed with Ron and myself; you have no right to be. Tell me, how long exactly have you and Hermione been seeing each other behind our backs?”

“None of your darn business,” Draco growled. Pansy’s face hardened.

“Eight months,” Hermione said softly, not looking at anyone.

“I never expected this of you, Hermione,” Pansy replied equally as softly. “My ex-husband, yes, because it’s not the first time, as you are aware. There have been others before you, dozens, I don’t know exactly.”

Hermione bit her lip. “Pansy, I am so sorry.”

“No, you’re not. Once is a mistake, twice could maybe be called stupid, but eight months, Hermione? You are well and truly past the sorry stage. Now, what was I saying? Oh yes. You,” she continued, standing up and walking around the room slowly, her eyes floating between Hermione and Draco. Ron leant against the desk, his arms folded over his chest. Hermione met his gaze, shuddering under the look of intense revulsion he gave her.

“You who are always so right and so moral and so smart,” Pansy said, stopping in front of Hermione to look into her face. “This could possibly have been the stupidest thing you’ve ever done.”

Hermione took a deep breath, forcing herself to look into the other woman’s eyes. “What about you and Ron? How long has that been going on?”

“Not long,” Pansy replied indifferently, turning to look at Ron over her shoulder. “A few months, would you say? Since I tossed my good-for-nothing husband out in the cold ... oh wait. My mistake. He went straight to your bed, didn’t he? He’s always needed someone to keep him warm.”

Draco muttered something indecipherable from his chair, but Hermione kept her attention on Pansy. “So you’ve been with Ron and yet, you’ve been trying to get me and him back together. Why?”

Pansy laughed and Hermione snuck a look at Ron. He was frowning. “Because if you were back with your husband you’d leave mine alone.”

“I’m confused,” Hermione admitted after a moment. “You don’t love him.”

Pansy stared at her for a long moment. Silence dropped through the room, deep and deadly, until Pansy shook her head, her expression sad. “He’s the father of my children, Hermione. I will always love him, in a way, and even if I didn’t, do you think I’d want him to leave me? To leave his children?” Her eyes left Hermione’s face and travelled to Draco’s.

“I was talking about Ron,” Hermione whispered, but no one seemed to hear her.

“I’d never leave them, Pansy,” Draco said softly. “You’ve made it darn hard for me to see them at times.”

“I was trying to teach you a lesson,” Pansy snapped harshly. Ron moved from behind the desk and to Pansy’s side.

Draco rolled his eyes. “Right. Well, whatever. I’ve had enough of this. Are we done?” He headed towards the door, motioning to Hermione as he passed her. Ron stepped in front of him, expression deadly. His wand was in his hand and Hermione gasped, reaching for the back of Draco’s shirt. Her fingers closed around the material as Ron lifted his wand.

“Step back, Malfoy,” he said in a low voice. Draco laughed.

“Are you seriously going to make me, Weasley?”

Ron’s face hardened. “Try me. I dare you, Malfoy. Just try me. You’ve ruined my life. I won’t hesitate.”

“Shut up, Ron,” Hermione snapped, tugging on Draco’s shirt. The blonde did not budge. He took a step closer to Ron, until the redhead’s wand was pointed directly at his heart. Hermione stumbled, falling against Draco’s broad back. One of his arms automatically slid behind his body to steady her.

“I’ve ruined nothing of yours,” Draco taunted Ron. “You did a fine job of that yourself.”

Ron swore harshly under his breath and Hermione saw his knuckles turn white. She let her hand drop to her pocket, feeling the empty space where her wand should be.

“I don’t want to hurt you, Hermione,” Pansy said softly, and Hermione twisted her neck to see the other woman standing to her left, her wand pointed at Hermione’s back. She nodded.

“Ron, please,” Hermione said gently, turning to her husband. “Please, lower your wand.”

“I’ve waited weeks for this, Hermione,” Ron said savagely. “Since I saw him with his hands ... You hold no sway over me anymore, you realise that. Nothing. You don’t own me, you can’t convince me, and you can’t cajole me into doing what you want. I don’t belong to you anymore. I can safely say I stuck a wand in Draco Malfoy’s face by my own choice. I acted for myself,” he added in a hiss.

Draco chuckled. “You’re so dense, Weasley. What a nice moment to choose to celebrate your freedom.”

“Fitting, don’t you agree?” Ron said pleasantly. Hermione scowled, pushing Draco aside and moving to stand before Ron. She ignored his wand, noticing his hand tremble a little as she moved closer.

“Lower the wand, Ron,” she said firmly. He shook his head, the faintest trace of a smirk playing on his lips. “Don’t be an idiot.”

“Right,” he snarled, “an idiot. Because I couldn’t possibly be anything else.”

“In this moment, no,” Hermione replied swiftly. She could hear Pansy telling Draco not to move in the background, and knew the other woman still had her wand out and ready. “I don’t know what you hope to achieve,” she said, loud enough for Pansy to hear as well. “This is utterly ridiculous. Draco’s right. We should be able to talk about this.”

“I don’t bargain with whores,” Ron hissed, his eyes narrowing. Hermione sucked in a breath in shock, her hand snaking out before she realised what she was doing. Ron’s head swung sideways as she slapped him across the cheek; his wand hand dropped. Hermione’s other hand reached out and snapped the wand from his fingers. She took a step back as Ron’s eyes turned to her face. His cheek was crimson and his expression murderous.

In the background, Draco was laughing. Pansy shouted at him to shut up, and Hermione felt a thrill of fear. Pansy still had a wand. Hermione raised Ron’s wand, pointing it first at him, and then swinging it around to Pansy. The brunette looked at her, blinked once, and began laughing, before moving away from Draco towards the door. Without pause, Hermione pointed the wand at the door, satisfied when she heard the hiss and click that indicated the spell holding the lock in place had broken.

Draco chuckled. “I’m glad security around this house was left in my hands.”

“Shut up,” his ex-wife hissed, flicking her wand. The door relocked and Hermione sighed. She looked at Ron quickly. He had not moved. She held his gaze and he sighed, lowering his eyes in defeat. Hermione turned her attention back to Pansy.

“Pansy, we can do this all day, or ...”

“Just say whatever you have to say, Pansy, and get out of my way,” Draco interrupted with a snarl, stepping closer to her. She lifted her wand, digging the tip into his cheek and Hermione felt her heart jump. Draco raised his hands, backing away. He came back to Hermione’s side, his hand sliding down her arm, his fingers slipping through hers. He squeezed her hand, but she did not squeeze back. All her attention was on Pansy. She was terribly afraid was what Pansy was going to do. There was a desperation in the other woman’s eyes that had Hermione on full alert.

“This is what I was afraid of,” Pansy said softly. “Hermione, you’re nothing like the others. Vapid little witches who wouldn’t know one end of a wand from another. You’re smart. You’re beautiful. You’re charming, strong and independent. You had the power to do what none of the others could manage, however much they may have wanted it. You made him fall in love with you, and now, you’ve made him leave me,” Pansy said sadly, shaking her head.

“For Merlin’s sake woman, Hermione did not make me do anything. I left you because I don’t love you anymore, and you don’t love me. What sort of life is that, Pansy? I’ve stayed with you for the last five years because of the children. I don’t really see why you care, to tell you the truth. You hate me and you kicked me out,” Draco said evenly, staring at his wife. “So what is this really about?”

“It’s about right and wrong, Draco. It’s about honesty, truth and consequence,” Pansy hissed viperously, pointing her wand, her body leaning forward with all the precision of a striking snake. Her chest rose and fell steadily, a slight blush creeping up her porcelain cheeks. She took a deep shuddering breath. “It’s about power and greed. You have always wanted more than you were entitled too, Draco. I knew that when I married you, but I thought, like so many other silly weak women, that I could change you from the man you were to the man I wanted you to be.”

She laughed shrilly, tapping her wand on the surface of the door. “That was my mistake,” Pansy said matter-of-factly. “In the end, it did not matter, because you always came home. You always came back to me. This time, though …”

“Pansy, you are the one who served me with divorce papers!” Draco reminded her sharply. The brunette’s face fell abruptly.

“I never expected you to sign them,” she whispered. “I never ...”

“You’re joking, right,” Draco interjected, his voice low and wavering. “How could you think I’d do otherwise? You didn’t want me here.”

“I thought,” Pansy began, her wand arm dropping as she moved away from the door. “I thought you’d choose your children over her. I didn’t know who she was then,” she added with a bitter, defeated laugh. “Had I had known ... perhaps I’d have not been surprised.”

“Pansy...” Hermione whispered.

“Just get out, the both of you,” she whispered back. She flicked her wand and the door to the study swung free, light spilling in from the hall beyond.

Hermione nodded, taking a deep, shaky breath, moving towards the door, Ron’s wand still in her hand. She flicked it once, and hers and Draco's wands flew to her spare hand. She gently laid Ron's wand on the ground. "Draco."

Draco did not move. He was looking at Pansy.

“My children,” he said pointedly. She sighed, her shoulders dropping. Ron was standing with his back to the room, looking at the curtains covering the window.

“You can pick them up from your mother’s,” Pansy said, turning away and moving towards Ron. “Take them for the night. Bring them back tomorrow. We’ll work something out.”

Draco nodded. “Thank you.”

“Hermione,” Pansy called, and Hermione watched as the other woman began to smile sadly. “You win.”

“It was never a competition,” Hermione whispered, feeling terribly close to tears. Pansy nodded, and the door swung shut once more.

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