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The Child Chapter Thirteen:

Letting Go

Hermione watched half asleep as Annie and her wedding planner, Giselle, as they spoke in fast French working out any last minute wedding plans. Hermione could hardly understand a word they were saying, as they spoke so fast, and Giselle’s French was even harder through the thick Spanish accent she had. She was a dark-skinned woman, with long dark brunette hair that was held in a tight bun at the back of her head. She had a sharp look about her, but she was very kind and every brilliant at wedding plans and keeping the stress levels of bride-to-be’s down.

The thought of brides and wedding’s reminded her of her own wedding that hadn’t even started to be planned out. She had told Viktor she wanted a long engagement, and the only planning they had done was the date (a year from now), where it will be (at Viktor’s estate), and the guest list. Hermione was a little glad that those were the only plans she had made for the wedding, as it looked like it would be a wedding that would never happen. She had promised herself to Ron, and she knew that the lie she was living in would soon be broken. Her only fear was that Viktor would fight, and win. He was a competitive man. But again, so was Ron.

There was a knock at the door of the dining room, and Harry and Ron entered. They both looked sweaty, and gross – they had just played Quidditch with a bunch of friends from work. Annie squeaked as Harry came over to her, and slammed the book shut she was holding. Hermione smiled lightly, as she knew it contained pictures of Annie’s wedding dress- something that was not meant to be seen by the groom until the wedding day.

“You should ‘ave knocked” Annie exclaimed, angrily.

“We did,” Harry protested looking to Hermione and Giselle. “You heard us.”

Annie looked to Hermione, and she nodded. “They did.” Hermione told her; Annie scowled.

“Well, I do not care. Leave, before you see any more.” Annie told him, shooing Harry out of the dining room.

“It’s my wedding too!” Harry argued, as Ron laughed behind him.

“You picked your tux, and zee main colours – you don’t need to know anyzing else!” Annie argued giving him another push.

“Best to just let her have it her way, mate.” Ron said, putting his hand on Harry’s shoulder and pulling him out of the room with him.

Laughing, Hermione decided it would be best to take a break from the wedding plans – it was reminding her too much of the coming events in her own life, and she wasn’t really helping anyway. Standing, she looked at Annie. “If you don’t mind, I think I may go lie down for a while.”

Annie nodded, smiling. “That’s fine, I understand.”

Hermione nodded, and left the dining room and went to the kitchen where she found Harry and Ron raiding the fridge for something to eat.

“How was the game?” Hermione asked, taking a seat at the kitchen table

Harry looked at her, and shrugged, a bottle of milk in his hands. “It was okay – we won, of course.” He said cockily.

Ron turned around, holding a sandwich in his hand, and his mouth full. He quickly swallowed before saying, “They were no match for us, two old pros like us.”

Hermione laughed. It was so nice to be able to talk to Ron again like he was her best friend – which he was. It was nice as well to be surrounded by Harry and Ron at the same time – it was like old times. To feel such radiant smiles on her was such a nice thing. Though they hadn’t said anything to Harry, Hermione got the feeling he already knew what was coming, that she and Ron would soon be a couple again. But he said nothing, and didn’t show any inclination that he was against the idea.

“Well, I need to have a shower.” Harry said, and still holding the bottle of milk in his hand he left the kitchen.

Smiling, Hermione looked at Ron who was now chugging a glass of water, having finished eating his sandwich. She waited for him to finish before she spoke.

“All these plans for a wedding are making me feel a little guilty.” Hermione admitted, and Ron came and sat across from her. He reached out for her hands, and she placed them in his without hesitation.

“I know,” he spoke softly, and squeezed her hands.

They sat there in silence, and Hermione tried to sort the thoughts that were running through her head. The day before she had received a letter from Viktor saying he would be in Paris in three days, and checked if they would be staying at Harry’s. Of course, he would, Harry had told Hermione. Annie’s parents lived in town, and owned a large house where much of her family was staying. As for Harry, his was the only residence, and soon would be invaded with Weasley’s – not that that bothered him.

“I need to go have a nap,” Hermione said, looking at Ron.

He smiled, kissed her hand, and let her go. She stood up, passing him as she went to the door. She let her hand slide across his shoulders, feeling his muscles that were tense slowly softened. She left the kitchen and went to her room on the second floor.

Lying down in her bed, she faced her window that overlooked the back yard and the neighboring ones as well. It was peaceful, and the open window allowed the aroma’s of French cuisine float into her room. Ever since she was a teen, and had first stepped on French soil she had adored the rich country. In her travels when she was younger she had picked up some French, and when she had the time in the last week she had dragged Ron out for a walk.

It had been too perfect, the last week. Ron was her best friend again, and they were inseparable. He had decided to take a break from work, and took his holidays that week until after the weekend. Hermione enjoyed having Ron around more, and she knew that Harry didn’t mind it either, as Ron had become a lot more pleasant to be with, he had said to Hermione one morning when they were alone.

But the fairy tale would be coming to an end soon, and eventually Hermione would have to face Viktor and tell him everything. She knew it was going to kill him, to tell him that the child was Ron’s, and that she had had an affair. It was going to kill him that she turned her back on him after he had been the one to pick up the pieces when she left Ron. She had been like a knight in shining armor to her, and she was about to break him.

The only thing Hermione feared most was that Viktor would fight for her. He was competitive, and Ron never gives up. And she feared that any lasting friendship she could have with him might be destroyed if that were to happen. Rolling on her side, Hermione sighed heavily and let her as eyes fall closed. There was no point worrying, she wouldn’t know until she looked Viktor in the eye and told him the truth.

Ron’s heart was racing as he watched the taxi cab pull up to the house, and he could feel Hermione’s heart race next to him as well, and possibly Harry’s as well. The only person who didn’t seem worried or anxious was Annie, who ran down the steps to greet Viktor as he got out of the cab.

“Viktor, it iz zo good to see you again!” she exclaimed wrapping her arms around him.

A little surprised, and looking a little haggard he hugged Annie back, and the pulled away searching for someone. Ron knew he was looking for Hermione, and he couldn’t stop the summersaults his stomach was doing. Hermione stepped forward, and he clenched his hands a little as Viktor hugged her and kissed her on lips. It wasn’t a lasting kiss, as Viktor was more excited by the size her stomach was. Ron looked in Hermione eyes, and he could see that she was fighting to keep from crying, whether Viktor noticed this or not, Ron didn’t know.

After he muttered something to Hermione, he turned to Harry and Ron, and shook both their hands. He didn’t seem to notice how tense Ron was, giving a faint smile as they shook hands.

“I have not seen you in a long time,” he said to Ron.

Ron nodded, not saying anything. He wasn’t sure if he could say anything. “You know how it is,” Ron was saying before he knew it, and Viktor gave a light chuckle and looked to Harry who was speaking now, inviting that they all go inside, asking if Viktor was hungry or thirsty after his long flight. Ron fell into the back with Annie as they went inside. He would give anything to get out of the situation.

Viktor had wrapped his arm around Hermione’s waist, and as they walked to the kitchen, and Harry told Viktor about the house, Ron resisted the urge to snatch her away from him. It was hard for him, but he knew Hermione was having a harder time. He knew that she was probably feeling like the worst person in the world for pretending that she was happy to see him – not that he wasn’t her friend, she told him earlier – and pretending that everything was all right, when it was the complete opposite.

Leaning against the counter while Viktor and Hermione sat at the table, next to each other, Annie and Harry jabbered on trying to hide the strained silence that threatened the whole event. Viktor didn’t seem to notice it, but Hermione’s eyes, if anyone were to look, they would see it.

Ron clung to the counter, staying silent, not risking the idea of saying the wrong thing, and ruining all of Hermione’s plans to talk to Viktor. They talked about what was going on with Quidditch, and still Ron was silent; they talked about things back in England, how the family was, and still Ron was silent. It wouldn’t’ be long before Viktor noticed it, Ron thought to himself.

“Vell,” Viktor said as he put down his empty cup of tea – something that had passed by without Ron’s notice. “Should I put my things in the room?” he asked particularly no one, and Ron assumed he was trying to get Hermione alone.

“If you would like,” Harry said and looked to Hermione.

She gave a forced smile, and stood up. “I’ll show you,” she said to Viktor and he stood.

“Thank you Hermy,” he said using his pet name for her that Ron hated.

He went for the door, taking Hermione’s hand, when nobody was looking she looked to Ron and frowned. Ron gave her an encouraging smile before she disappeared behind the swinging door.

“’e iz such a charmer,” Annie said putting the tea cups in the sink, and rinsing them out. Ron snorted, and Harry let out a little chuckle. Annie turned on them, “You two are just jealous.”

“That’s exactly what we are, Annie,” Ron grumbled, now in a mood, and left the kitchen before he said anything else. Harry followed him without a word to Annie.

“You need to calm down Ron.” Harry said, turning Ron to face him in the hallway.

Ron frowned, and motioned for harry to follow him into the study. The lamps flickered on as they entered, and Harry shut the door, turning to look at Ron confused and bewildered. It was strange, that once again they were locking themselves in this room, and about to discuss the same person.

“Hermione’s telling him, Harry. Tonight, or tomorrow, I’m not sure. She wants to do it alone, but I’m afraid he’s going to convince her to stay with him. She says that she’ll stay with me – she is going to marry me. But if anything screws up, I know it won’t happen.” Ron expressed in a forceful manner. He didn’t like to think about those things – the possibilities he would once again see Hermione drive away with him.

“Then don’t let any of those things happen,” Harry said simply, and Ron looked up at his friend and gave a short laugh. Harry grinned. “I’m happy for you two.” He said, lamely.

“Yeah, well, don’t say anything yet, there are still the-” Ron started, but was cut off by Harry’s hand.

“Just stop talking like that Ron, and everything will go as smoothly as possible” Harry chastised, and then turned on his heel and left him alone in study.

Groaning to himself, Ron sat down on the old desk, and breathed evenly, staring at the ground. If he just didn’t overreact, followed Hermione’s actions everything would be all right. If he got stressed out, she would get stressed out and that wasn’t good. There was a baby to think of.

A baby to think of – Ron liked the sound of that. It made his hairs stick on end, and his brain to fill with the memories of his childhood. In his head he saw himself pushing a little girl with bright ginger hair on an old wooden swing, hearing her laugh just like her mother. Smiling to himself, Ron stood and left the study, deciding it would probably be best if he got out for a little while. Choosing to go to work to see how things were going with the Delamb case, he hoped it would give Hermione time to calm down herself and set things in motion.

A chill went down Hermione’s spine as her thin night gown seemed to float over her soft skin when the wind blew. Viktor was sitting on the end of the best they were about to share, pulling off his socks and shirt. She ignored him, finding the night sky out her window much more interesting. It had been so long since she had seen the stars in Paris, and found them the most dazzling thing she had seen during her time France – besides seeing Ron go down on one knee. Another chill went up her spine, and she shut the window.

“It’s getting cold out there,” she murmured more to herself than Viktor.

He looked up at her and smiled. “Our child vill love the cold then.”

Hermione didn’t even try to smile that time, as she sat down on the opposite side of the bed, and slipped her slippers off. She knew it was bad, that she wasn’t responding to him anymore, but she didn’t have the energy. Pulling the covers back, she snuggled under them, and looked to Viktor who was staring at her oddly.

“Vhat is bothering you?” he asked blankly.

Hermione shook her head. “I’m just tired,” she mumbled.

He didn’t believe her, but he dropped it and got under the covers, and moved close to Hermione. Pulling her into the nook of his neck, he wrapped one arm around her, and the other on her stomach. She said nothing, just closed her eyes. She didn’t even snuggle closer to him, and Viktor pulled his arm away, rolled on to his back, and turned the lamp off.

“I love you,” he whispered in the door.

“I love you too,” as a friend, Hermione thought in her head. Closing her eyes, she rolled on to her side, her back facing Viktor and fell asleep. She felt horrible, and it was as if some was tearing her soul into pieces. She heard Viktor sigh as he rolled on to his side away from her and she knew he was afraid; afraid of the coming storm.

Ron paced back and forth, ignoring the worried glances he was receiving from his few co-workers that were working late as well. Claudette’s was possibly the hardest to ignore however, and every now and then Ron would look over at her to glare, and then return to his pacing.

Never in his life, had Ron felt so worried before. Well, at least not since the days of the war, when every second of his life had been filled with worried thoughts. It was nearing two o’clock in the morning, and he didn’t have the nerve to go home. He was afraid that when he would get there what he would find was not something good. But Harry hadn’t owled him or Flooed, so that was a good sign, he guessed.

“Ronald Weasley, would you stop pacing and sit down?” Claudette asked from her desk, sounding worried.

“No, I’m fine, I’m thinking.” Ron said absently, not even looking at her.

“Well maybe if you sat down you would be able to zink a little more clearly.” Claudette suggested, standing up and going over to where Ron was now standing still, and looking at her. She glanced at the other two guys in the room, and without a word they got up and left. Putting her hand on Ron’s shoulder, she looked at him sorrowfully. “What is wrong wit you?”

Ron’s shoulder sunk, and before he knew it he was sitting at his desk with Claudette, and he was telling her everything beginning to end of the never-ending story between he and Hermione. She listened intently, responding when need be, and saying the right things in the right places. Ron felt a little relieved when he finished, and Claudette looked at him with a hopeful smile.

“Do you want to know what I zink, Ron?” she asked.

Ron nodded, not able to say anymore words.

Claudette leaned towards him; “You’re wasting your time walking back and forth in zis office. Go ‘ome, sleep, and in zee morning you will see what is going to ‘appen next. Worrying will get you no where.”

Ron looked her in the eye, and then nodded. “I know.”

“Zen go,” Claudette told him, and pushed him to the fireplace.

The water was steaming hot, and seemed to scold Hermione’s back, but she took no notice of it. Sweat dripped down her brow as the steam filled the loo around her, but she did not care. She had slept horribly and when she woke up the next morning she had found a quickly written note from Viktor about how he had gone for a morning jog. She was a little relieved at not having to worry about putting a brave face on as soon as she woke up, so she took her time getting out of bed and getting into the shower.

Her hands wrapped around her stomach, and Hermione stepped out of the shower, hearing the water magically shut off by itself. Wrapping a warm white towel around hr body, Hermione walked slowly across the cool tile floor to the mirror. Wiping the fuzzy film of steam a way she looked at her reflection. The natural glow to her skin had certain rawness to it, as the hot shower had made it slightly pink. But she didn’t care that much, as it had made her feel better. Her body had been so tense and knotted, that the hot shower had managed to loosen it all up.

Taking her brush in her hand, she started brushing out the knots in her hair, giving up when fifty-five percent of it had been taken care of, than she magically dried her hair and put it up into a loose bun. When she left the loo, and went directly into her room she found Viktor in her room. He smiled at her, and before she said anything he kissed her lightly on the lips and passed her.

“I’m going to take a shower,” he said to her as he left, closing the door.

For a few minutes Hermione stood still in the middle of the room, water dripping from her body and on the to the hardwood floors. She listened as the loo door shut and the shower came on magically. Then her door opened.

“You haven’t talked to him yet, have you?” his voice said behind her.

Hermione turned to face Ron, who was standing in the hall way with just his pajama bottoms and an old under shirt on. There were dark circles under his eyes, and she knew he hadn’t slept at all the night before.

“I haven’t found the time to.” She admitted.

Ron just nodded, and without saying another word or showing that he cared he turned around and left, just like he had a few minutes before. It was strange, Hermione had never felt unsure in her life before, and there was no one there in the back of her mind pushing her on. It was her own decision, and the two of them were waiting for her to make it.

Closing the door, Hermione dried herself off, and changed into some simple robes that she didn’t have to worry too much about, and then went down to the kitchen where she found Annie reading over Witch Weekly, and Harry reading the Daily Prohpet.

“I’ll never understand why you still read that.” Hermione disapproved, as she poured herself a glass of water.

“It’s nice to read how good old Kingsley is doing as minster, and how everyone else it. They still try to create some kind of controversy about me even though I don’t live in England.” Harry laughed, flipping through the pages.

Annie looked up. “Zey like to use zat against you all zee ruddy time – say zat you are running away from zee past and coming ‘ere. What fools,” Annie declared.

Hermione gave a snort of laughter, and then turned around when the kitchen door pushed open and Ron entered, now dressed in clean robes.

“Good Morning,” he greeted everyone, and as he came over to Hermione he smiled as if everything was normal. Hermione stared.

“What is wrong with you?” she whispered feverishly, as Ron made himself some coffee.

“Nothing, just trying to act normal.” Ron whispered back, making lots of noise with his routine.

“Well, stop,” Hermione dictated.

Ron gave her a look, and turned away from the counter, holding his coffee in one hand, and with the other he grabbed his own copy of the Daily Prophet. “I’ll be in the study,” he said to everyone and left the room, leaving Hermione stunned.

“He is in an odd mood this morning,” Harry commented dryly, glancing up at Hermione for a fleeting moment.

Not really sure what to think herself, Hermione exited the kitchen without a word and went back upstairs. Viktor was in there room, changing. From their bed, Hermione watched him, feeling a little sad, as he pulled on his dress robes, and quickly checked his reflection in the vanity mirror set up.

When he turned to look at her, he frowned back. “Vhat is vrong?”

“Nothing,” Hermione replied solemnly, and looked down at her empty glass.

He came over to her, and kissed her forehead. “I am getting a coffee – vhen I come back, I ‘ope to see a smile.” He said, leaving.

But Viktor didn’t see a smile when he came back, and he was nervous. She hadn’t been herself the whole time he had been in France. She was moping around like it was the end of the world, and he was starting to get nervous. He had seen the looks she and Ron had been giving each other when they thought no one was looking. He feared the worse, and for good reason.

Later that day, after Ron had disappeared for work, something Viktor noticed he did a lot, Harry suggested that the four of them go to work. Saying that she was tired, Hermione decided it would be better she got some rest, and practically begged for Viktor to go without her. It made him nervous, but feeling that maybe some sleep would do Hermione good, he allowed it and went for the tour of Paris with Harry and Annie.

When he returned two hours later, Annie and Harry went into the back yard, and Viktor decided it best to check Hermione up in her room. But when he lightly knocked on the door and entered he found her bed empty; the sheets not even touched. Getting nervous, Viktor froze to think. Then he heard it; two voices coming from above.

As quiet as he could possibly go, Viktor walked up those ten steps, and stepped on the third landing. Their voices were louder here, but he still could not understand them. Walking to the almost closed door, Viktor held his breath and caught what Hermione was saying.

“….it’s hard. I can’t do it anymore, Ron. I can’t look him in the eye, speak to him, and pretend that nothing has changed. You have to understand, we have been together for almost five years – he was the one who picked up all the pieces after I left you. I was broken, and without him I wouldn’t be as put together as I am today.” Hermione paused, and Viktor knew Ron was touching her face because he heard the shaky breath she drew every time he touched her face.

“I just can’t tell him,” Hermione started again, “I can’t tell him that the baby isn’t his, that I love you, that I’m going to marry you and that the past few months have been nothing but a rouse. I can’t do that Ron, I can’t-”

Viktor didn’t listen to the rest. His head had gone fuzzy, and he could hear nothing but his racing heartbeat. She had said the baby wasn’t. She said she loved Ron, not him. She wanted to marry him. She had been lying to him since – since when? It was suddenly all making sense. This was why she wouldn’t kiss him back or sleep in his arms. She didn’t want to pretend anymore, not that that really mattered now.

Something had happened since he had last seen Hermione. She had seemed so sure before that getting married to him was the best thing she had ever done. But now, she wasn’t so sure, and in fact she was so sure that she didn’t want to she was going to marry him!

Not caring if they heard him, he turned around and went down the stairs all the way to the main hall way, where he grabbed his cloak, checked that his wand was in his pocket and left without another word.

The grandfather clock in the hall struck midnight, and Hermione squeaked nervously. Harry, Annie, Ron, and Hermione all sat in the parlour, barely able to keep their heads up as they waited for Viktor to return. Hermione doubted he would the second she realized he was missing, and the tears had just managed to stop. She sat next to Ron, his arm around her and keeping her comfort.

He had heard everything, Hermione was sure of it. She had heard someone on the steps, and was sure someone had been there when Ron said she was being paranoid. But she had been right, and it was the last person she wanted to over hear. It had been stupid to talk so loudly about everything, but Hermione was getting tired, and Ron was the only one she knew would understand. But now, it seemed like a waste.

“You should get some sleep,” Ron whispered, and then looked to his friends. “Go to bed guys, Viktor won’t be coming back tonight. I’ll take Hermione to her bed, and I will wait up just in case.” Ron ordered gently.

Harry didn’t need to be told twice, and he stood up, taking Annie with him, and together they left the parlour. Hermione was still next to Ron, and he knew she was falling asleep, not that she had wanted to. Taking his arm away from her shoulders, he stood up. She looked dead, and her eyes rolled a little in their sockets as he bent down to pick her up. She wrapped her arms around his neck, and Ron struggled for a moment, not realizing how heavy Hermione was now that she was carrying a child. But he managed, and he carried her to her room.

Laying her gently in her bed, he pulled the covers over her, kissed her on the forehead, and then he returned back to his post in the parlour, waiting for the sound of an opening door. He himself was exhausted from the little hours he had slept in the last few days, felt his eyes drop and he was asleep.

“I should kill you, you know.” Viktor’s harsh vowels filtered into Ron’s sleep and without much more provocation Ron woke up. Blinking up at Viktor, it took him a second to realize who he was. When he did, Ron sat up straight and without saying anything Viktor took a seat across from him. “I always figured this vould happen.”

“What?” Ron asked dumbly, a little apprehensive.

Viktor gave a sharp laugh. “You know vhat I’m talking about.” He paused for Ron to reply, but when he didn’t Viktor continued, a little gentler this time. “I always knew I could never match up to you in her eyes.” Viktor paused.

Ron understood, awake now. “I didn’t expect it either, mate.” Ron said, testing the waters by throwing the word ‘mate’ in the mix. “Hermione, she always seemed like the kind of girl who was practical, but one day she came bouncing back into my life, and we fell into our old pattern.” Ron admitted, and checked Viktor’s face before continuing. “We were both a bit confused, I think, when it first started. Then she got pregnant – I didn’t know – and ended things with me. I didn’t ever expect to see her again.”

Viktor looked up. “I knew something vas going on, I just did not know vhat. Then she told me she vas pregnant, and I guessed that vas it.”

Ron looked Viktor in the eye. “It’s not her fault, all of this. I was messed up, and I brought her down with me. I’m better now though, and I want so bad to make things right, even though I don’t deserve it.” Ron looked away again, feeling ashamed.

“You deserver her, Ron.” Viktor spoke, and stood up. “The first day I met her, she talked about you and Harry a lot, but mostly you. And vhen I saw you at Bill’s vedding all those years ago, I knew it then. She always loved you more then me.”

Ron stood up. “Now what?”

Viktor shrugged, and stuck his hand out for Ron to take. “It’s over. I am going to a hotel, so I can still go to the vedding, and she is yours.”

Ron shook Viktor’s hand, but did not let go. “Just like that?” he asked unsure.

Viktor nodded, and pulled his hand away. “Good luck,” he said, and turned and left.

Hermione rolled over, and she knew it was him. He was moving in the shadows, packing his bags it looked like. Sitting up, she ignored the ache in her body and looked at him. “What are you doing?” she asked breathlessly.

Viktor froze, and turned to look at her. She was frozen, the moonlight hitting her face, and there was a worried and frightened look in her eye. Moving over to her, Viktor kneeled by her bed. He took her face in his hands, and to his delight and heart-break, she rested her head in his hands.

“I’m leaving, for a hotel room.” He told her.

“Why?” Hermione asked, confused and drowsy.

Viktor smiled sadly, tears in his eyes. “You deserve your happiness, Hermy. And your happiness lies with him.”

Tears welled in Hermione’s eyes as he kissed her forehead, zipped up the last of his bags, and left the dark room. She didn’t know what to think or say, and she could hardly believe it was over. Rolling on her side, she looked to the door and he was there. He didn’t say a word as he closed the door behind him, went around the bed, and got under the covers behind her. Curling up close to her, he wrapped his arm around her waist and put his head as close to hers as possibly and breathed in the scent of her hair.

“I love you Hermione,” he whispered in her ear, his breath causing a shiver to go down her spine.

“I love you too Ron,” she whispered back, finally being able to close her eyes without fear of what the morning will bring.

A/N: So I know this is probably not at all how you pictured the end. That this five thousand and half chapter would lead to this moment. But it’s how I’ve pictured it in my head from the beginning. But I am fully prepared to get some nasty reviews from angry and dissatisfied readers. That’s fine, I expect it. For those who aren’t angry, and care to read the rest of this, there is still one chapter left, it will be a nice little epilogue for all of you. Thanks for reading!

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