Walking home along the deserted London street, Hermione’s head was spinning questioning what she had done the previous night. It was so out of character for the woman’s actions to be so primal.
She was so entranced by whatever, or rather whoever, possessed her to do it. Of course, she couldn’t help but regret the moral circumstances of it all. She had always prided herself on putting others first.
The rain was falling heavy. It had been raining since it happened. It was fitting really.
The water cascaded down saturating through Hermione’s coat and chilling the flesh below. Fighting with her umbrella, she gave up on the fragile thing. Pulling her coat, a little tighter, Hermione folded it into her bag. Seeing bruises around her wrist images flooded into her head. She would have to remember to cast a glamour charm later.
The wind and rain were excruciating against her sensitive, exposed skin which was reddening in contrast. Trying to shake the thoughts from her head, she tries to suppress the memories. It was too painful to think about right now. She picked up her pace, almost on autopilot, focusing on the familiar path she took each day from the flat to the ministry entrance.
Feeling jaded she takes a deep breath, and mentally prepares herself for what she’s about to do. A huge smile spreads across her face, big and bright, to try and cover last nights events and the turmoil currently taking place inside her.
Unlocking the front door, Hermione felt her heart cramping as she heard her children´s happy voices, sounding from the kitchen. Closing the front door, she hangs up her wet coat on the bannister and tries to summon the courage to enter the next room. She knows this is where she will be confronted with everything she has put on the line.
Hugo and Rose slide down from their chairs as soon as they see her. Hermione opens her arms wide, pressing them against her chest. She buries her face in their unruly hair inhaling the scent of their childish innocence. It brings the tears back to her eyes. She tries to suppress it again but it’s a truth she can’t run from. She has risked their happiness as well as her own and of course his.
Hermione looks up, his eyes meeting hers and she tries to smile but fails dismally. She needs to get out of this room now. It feels so suffocating.
Her voice breaks but Ron is still smiling, his own voice tender and she instantly realises that he thinks she is merely exhausted from having worked through the night at the ministry.
“I've saved you some coffee- Must've been a long night.”
He sounds concerned rather than anything else and Hermione is grateful for his trust.
“You really should've sent Pig, you know?”
Releasing her children from her embrace, they climb back onto their chairs, glowing with happiness to have both their parents there at the same time. It dawned on her how rarely this actually happens, and she wonders when did they start avoiding being alone together?
“I need to go and freshen up.”
She doesn't wait for a reply but hurries out to climb the stairs and escape to their bedroom. Closing the door behind her the pain washes over her, she has done wrong. If only she still had her time turner, Hermione wished she could have made different choices.
She lays down on the bed, her children´s laughter still could be heard downstairs. She stares at Ron’s side and wonders just how far back she’d go. Would she erase it entirely? Choose a different path and defy everyone’s expectations and pressures?
They’d grown up and shared so much together. It was expected of them, after the war. Harry and Ginny, Ron and Hermione, they came as a set. It made them family.
She loves him, of course, just as she loves them. Sometimes if she’s honest though, it feels as though it's all too much. She needs to get away from all - It’s been threatening to push her over the edge.
She knows she shouldn't think that way, it makes her a bad wife and a bad mother and perhaps even a bad human being but that's all she is, human. She’s magical but she can't do it all at once and keep everybody happy. No matter how much she wants. ‘You can’t have your cake and eat it too’ as her Grandmother use to always say.
Ron is happy as it is, happy with making breakfast and cooking dinner and in the meantime helping their children with their homework and praising them for their small and great achievements. He’s a great father she won’t deny him that.
It's her who is missing all of it, her who has all the responsibility, her who is strained, tense and unfulfilled far too often.
She tries to remember when it started to be this way. Was it when they decided that she would return to work and Ron would stay at home or was even earlier, back in Hogwarts where she couldn't stop trying to be the best?
Hermione couldn´t let go of it, she’d never know how to be happy with a limited life- she still didn't know and she had been trying to figure how for years.
Ron of course is all too oblivious, he is doing all he can but it's not enough- he doesn't understand her. They aren’t the same type of people.
Last night, Hermione felt understood- she felt supported in a different way, in the way she needed. There is someone who really knows her, because she’s the same.
Hermione has been enjoying the competition ever since they met. It been heated debates and divine inspiration on every project they'd worked on together. She had been secretly admiring her for what feels like years – less secretly recently. Bella makes her feel so alive. They challenge each other. She was possibly the only other person who could hold her own against Hermione in discussing magical theory. That alone made Hermione want to rip her clothes off. Then there was her beauty. Hermione would never get bored of looking at that. She was captivating.
The knowledge that Bellatrix had seen the same in her had been intoxicating. It has meant more to Hermione than what her parents, professors or anyone she’s tried to impress so far- it all felt meaningless compared to her.
The admiration in her eyes every time they would catch each other across a room or a table, and the smirks that would would produce. It wasn't meant to turn out this way, it was meant to be a different kind of passion, being passionate about what she was trying to achieve had always been what she is best at.
It was meant to stop there - and when it didn’t… Hermione was beyond saving, too overwhelmed to keep the fire from burning out of control.
Forcing herself into the shower, Hermione wonders what is terrifying her most, her serious lack of judgment or the fact that she doesn't know how she can restrain herself from making the same mistake again.
Deep in her heart she knows that she had her reasons to act that way, she's not as strong and independent as she makes out after all. She’s too weak to go through it all alone and that boy downstairs in the kitchen is no help.
Justifying her reasons to herself for what she has done, breaking her promises, she realises that subconsciously she is already searching for an excuse to continue doing what she knows she should feel ashamed and terrified of.
The hot water is a shock to her freezing body but after some time she begins to relax, letting go of the tension she didn’t realise she was holding. Suddenly she can't stop the tears from finally starting to flow freely, they had been threatening to start falling from the moment she started to walking home.
She muffles her sobs, leaning back against the wall, flinching when the cold tile makes contact with her hot skin. She is a mess, hopelessly lost somewhere between right and wrong, between good and bad and if she is honest with herself, she must admit she would be fighting a battle already lost.
She will step out of this shower, dry her hair and then she will get dressed and go downstairs and summon that bright smile back onto her face. That is what she owes those two small children who enjoy it so much when she paints faces onto their pancakes with chocolate sauce.
She will kiss that faithful husband who has given up on everything he wanted to do so she could become what she so desperately wanted and who in return never asks for anything but for her to love and care for him.
She has failed him, just she has failed her children and now it is too late. She’s falling from grace rapidly, gathering speed and there is nothing to stop her. All She knows is that Bellatrix Black will be there to save her.