The lady at the counter was confused when Hermione told her she had no luggage to check, but sold her the tickets anyway. They travelled through security easily and the children were still asleep when they boarded the plane. Hermione purchased the required child restraint seats and fastened her children in them, not paying attention to the pitiful stares onlookers gave the apparently single mother.
"Running away, Deary?" an old woman asked kindly as she passed. Hermione pretended to not hear her, though her eyes became even more misty than before.
"There's no shame in it," the woman continued. She took the seat directly behind Hermione and leaned forward. "What did he do to you? Beat you?"
Hermione again ignored her and sat down, having finished securing her two children in their seats. She tried to relax and forget everything around her, but there was too much for her to think about, from Brad to the picture that still remained in her pocket to what she'd seen going on in her own bedroom, on her own bed—
"Infidelity, then?" the obnoxious woman persisted. "Well then, I wouldn't be running if I were you. I'd kick him out straightway, tell him to go live with her."
She couldn't help the hiccupping noise that escaped her throat. Behind her she heard the woman 'tsk.'
"Now, that's no good, Dear. You must get a hold of yourself. Go back to your house—put your kids to bed. He's the one who needs to get lost."
Hermione took a deep breath. As obnoxious as the woman was, sticking her nose in others' business, she had a point. Why should she be running? She hadn't done anything wrong. Rose and Hugo didn't deserve this, didn't deserve to be torn away from their home. It was enough that their father was leaving them.
Wiping her eyes, Hermione stood and fumbled with the belts keeping her children in their seats. She thought she saw the woman smile, but thankfully she didn't say anything. Once the children were free, Hermione retrieved the stroller from the overhead compartment and placed Rose and Hugo in it. She summoned the nearest flight attendant and returned the child seats before rushing off the plane just before it took off.
Once back in the airport, Hermione stepped into the nearest restroom. The minute it was empty, she disapparated, appearing in the children's bedroom. Gingerly, she lifted each of them out of the stroller and into their cribs.
She heard frantic running down the hall. He must have heard her apparate. She didn't turn as he opened the door and ran in, his breath heavy.
"Hermione, you don't understand—"
"I understand perfectly."
"Just listento me—"
"Oh, shut up!"
He was quiet for a number of minutes while she tucked the children into bed. She took a deep breath and turned to face him. Looking into his eyes, she could almost convince herself this was all a big misunderstanding.
"I went to Jane's house," he said softly. "I—I thought I was never going to see you again."
Hermione didn't respond. She walked out of the nursery into the living room, and he followed. Even though the children were asleep, they shouldn't be having this conversation in their room.
Ron sighed. "Will you please give me a chance to explain?"
"Explain what?" she spat as she turned around. "I saw you. In our room, on our bed—"
The words caught in her throat. Ron took a few steps towards her, and she took a few steps back.
"Look, what you think you saw—"
"No more lies!" she yelled. "No more excuses! Just stop, Ron! You don't love me anymore—I accepted that months ago—"
"—but what I don't understand is why Patricia Eastwood is dead!"
The words came out of her mouth without her really thinking. Ron stared at her, eyebrows raised in surprise.
He tried to compose himself. "How do you know—?"
Hermione took the photograph out of her pocket and tossed it at him.
Suddenly, Ron's expression changed. He was no longer confused or surprised—he was angry. Hermione nervously tightened her hold on her wand.
"Where did you get this?"
"Why were you in my briefcase?"
"I was suspicious. With good reason."
Ron grit his teeth and took two steps towards her. "You have no idea what this is. You have no idea what you've gotten yourself—"
"Did you kill her?"
Hermione watched his reaction carefully. She'd been in the Department of Magical Law Enforcement long enough to know a murderer when she saw one.
And her husband was definitely a murderer.
He set his jaw and crumpled Patricia's picture in his hand.
"You did!" Hermione said, a certain level of disbelief in her voice. "You had an affair with her, then you killed her."
"I didn't even meet her until last night!"
"So she was a prostitute? What, did she threaten to blackmail you?"
"She wasn't—Hermione, I didn't have sex with her!"
"But you killed her."
Hermione felt something tight in her chest. Her husband turned away from her and covered his face with his left hand. Slowly, Hermione raised her wand. She held back tears as she spoke.
"Ronald Weasley, you are under arrest for the murder of Patricia Eastwood."
She flicked her wrist. Ron's hands were pulled behind his back, and handcuffs appeared around his wrists. He let out a sound that was a cross between a laugh and a sob.
"You don't know what you're doing."
She grabbed his shoulder and led him to the fireplace, holding her wand against his neck. She kept her hand as steady as possible, but it was visibly shaking. Of all the things she thought she'd face on this job, this never even crossed her mind.
"Brad was right," she muttered. "I should have left you months ago."
Ron turned just before the reached the fireplace. "I know that's what he thought. But he knows the truth now. Talk to him—"
"He's dead," she snapped. "Did you kill him too? Because he was trying to help me get away from you?"
Ron stared at her. The shock on his face was genuine—he didn't have anything to do with Brad's death. But that didn't change the fact that he'd murdered Patricia.
Hermione waited for him to say something, but her husband remained silent. Disgusted, she pushed him into the fireplace. He didn't resist when they arrived at the Ministry, didn't resist as she led him through the corridors to the holding cells. They received plenty of stares and even a couple comments, but Hermione ignored them.
As they passed the auror offices, a familiar voice called out. Hermione didn't stop as Harry ran toward them, confusion plastered on his face.
"Hermione, Ron—what's going on?"
"Out of the way, Harry," Hermione said, her voice dry.
Harry glanced down at Ron's bound wrists before staring at Hermione in shock. "You can't seriously be arresting him!"
"I said out of the way."
Harry didn't move. Hermione flicked her wand and forced him to step to the side. Harry tried to step in her path again, but his partner, Bradshaw, held him back. When they reached the elevator, Hermione closed her eyes tightly, Harry's yells that she must have made a mistake still echoing across the walls.
Finally, they reached the holding cells. Hermione found an empty one and pushed Ron inside. She turned to go.
"How did Brad die?"
Hermione hesitated before answering. "Aneurism in the neck."
Ron's eyes widened and he pressed himself against the bars. "Listen to me, Hermione. Brad's death wasn't an accident."
She eyed him suspiciously. "What do you know about it?"
"I—that's all I can tell you," he said, strain in his voice. "Believe me, if I could tell you more—"
"Save it for the interrogation," she snapped before turning away.
Ron called after her, but Hermione left as quickly as she could. She received plenty of stairs on the walk back as well, but again ignored them. Once she'd reached the fireplaces, she returned home.
She poked her head in the nursery—the children were still sleeping. She crossed the hall into her own room, but stopped before she'd walked all the way in. She stared at where she'd seen Ron with that woman on her bed, and her tears resurfaced. Quickly she turned her back on the room and went into the guest room instead. She closed the door behind her, collapsed on the bed, and sobbed.
A/N: Please review!
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