Hermione slowly opened her eyes to stare at her bedroom ceiling, remaining still until everything came in to focus. She glanced to her left, knowing what she wanted to see, but also knowing that she wasn't going to see it. Sighing heavily, she climbed out of bed and pulled a robe over her pajamas, dragging her feet on the floor as she crossed the room.
The floorboards creaked as the thirty-year-old witch made her way to the kitchen—he had been promising her he would fix those for about three years now, but nothing had ever been done. Like most of his promises, this one was empty, holding absolutely no meaning in his heart. Her hand shook only slightly as she prepared her morning cup of tea in the unusual silence granted her by her sister offering to take care of her three-year-old daughter and two-year-old son for a couple of days, hoping that Hermione and her husband would find an enjoyable and peaceful way to spend their anniversary, which was the next day.
As she lifted her drink to her lips, she heard the guest bedroom door open and close very loudly, but in such a manner that she knew the intent had been for the door to make no noise. She didn't turn when she heard him enter the room, and he went about his business, taking some cereal from the pantry and some milk from the fridge and placing both containers on the table as he searched for a clean bowl. She knew he was having the last of their Weetabix and finishing off the last milk carton, but still did nothing but silently sip her tea.
"Morning," he said cheerfully as she heard the cereal falling in to the bowl he had finally found in the back of the cupboard. "Did you sleep well?"
"Not particularly," Hermione replied, setting down her finished cup lightly before crossing her arms. She heard him stop his activities and felt his eyes on the back of her head, but still didn't turn.
"What's wrong, Love?" he asked gingerly, as if stabbing her with a dagger.
Trembling, she finally found the courage to turn and face the man she had almost been married to for five years. Looking at him and into his eyes, everything seemed to be the same, and yet now everything was different. It was hard to believe that the man she was looking at could break her heart, but the evidence was absolutely overwhelming.
"Where were you last night?" she whispered, holding back tears.
"I had to work late," he responded, no emotion whatsoever in his voice.
She took a deep breath of air. "How late?"
He shrugged and sat at the table with his now poured bowl of cereal, sending the milk carton and empty cereal box into the trash with a flick of his wand. "About midnight."
Hermione let out a small sound that resembled a hiccup before covering her mouth and turning away again. With the hand that wasn't covering her mouth, she clutched her stomach, suddenly feeling very nauseated. Behind her, she heard a spoon being set down on a table before it had even been used, and a chair pushed across the floor. She waited, but she didn't hear any footsteps.
"I was up until three," she confronted, slowly bringing herself to face the man that had promised to be true to her forever. His eyes were blank and unfeeling, while hers were glossed over with tears. He watched silently as she struggled to keep her composure, struggled not to lash out at him both verbally and physically.
"I don't care who she is, Ron," Hermione finally squeaked out, talking through the hands that were covering her face, hiding her shame. "It really doesn't matter to me what she has that I don't or why you did this, but please—please, think about the children—don't do this to them."
"I think about them every day," her husband said after a moment's silence. "And I don't want them to be hurt in any way."
"Then can you at least pretend to love me?" the young woman sobbed, her heart breaking with every beat. "Can we pretend we're happy?"
She leaned against the countertop, knocking over the empty tea cup as she sank to the floor. The volume of her sobs was loud enough that she didn't hear her husband approach her and kneel on the ground next to her. She shivered when she felt his hand in her hair, his fingers softly playing with the golden brown curls.
"I do love you, Hermione," he choked, and she was surprised to hear that he, too, had been crying. "And I want you to be happy more than anything in the world. Just tell me what you want, and you'll have it."
"I want you to stop lying to me," she peeped in high enough tones that she was sure the neighbor's dog heard. "I want you to be honest about where you are, what you're doing, and who you're with, and not sneak into the house in the middle of the night, and be a part of this family, be here for your children—"
He reached for her hand, but she snatched it away as she stood. She felt all of the anger she had been repressing for the past year come to the surface and let out a small scream of frustration before dashing to their bedroom. She grabbed the folded picture of the beautiful, attractive, young girl off of the nightstand and glanced at the number that she had memorized by now, resolving to call her. If she couldn't get the facts from her husband, she was going to get them somehow, even if it meant confronting the woman who had taken him away from her.
As soon as she had gathered her emotions, she took out the cell phone her parents had bought her so they could keep in touch and dialed the dreaded number. It seemed to ring for hours before anyone picked up, and Hermione was surprised to hear a man's voice on the other end of the line.
"Who is it?" he asked in a very deep and gravelly tone.
"I'm calling for Patricia," Hermione said uncertainly.
There was a moment of silence as her statement was registered on the other line. "Patricia Eastwood?"
Another moment of silence. "I'm sorry, Miss, to have to inform you of this, but Miss Eastwood was murdered about four hours ago."
Hermione numbly lowered the phone from her ear, hanging up without another word to the mysterious man on the line. She stared in horror at the picture in her hand, the beautiful face that seemed so alive, that had so much life left to live. It was slightly ironic that she was feeling all of this pity for the woman who had taken her husband, but truth be told her body was frozen in fear.
Her husband had practically confirmed her suspicions that he was with her the night before with his silence, and if that was the case, it was very possible that he had witnessed a murder.
Or worse, taken part in one.
A/N: What did you think? I hope I've built up enough mystery and suspense to keep you reading. Don't worry, everything will be explained, so if it doesn't make sense now just trust that it will in future chapters.
Let me know what you think! Review, please!