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I trace the bulging purple vein as it winds its way across my breasts. The skin around it is tense and pale, ranging from pink to red. The closest word I can relate to it is snake-like, but even that is lacking; for where a snake has elegant curves, this thing on my chest is jagged. I remember well the moment when I received it all those years ago. Harry and I were trapped in the Department of Mysteries fighting for our lives.
I had cast a silencio on the Death Eater, but he had managed to cast an unspoken curse my way. It landed on my chest and from there the memories just melt away.
I woke up in the Hogwarts hospital wing with Madam Pompfrey hovering over me with a gracious smile. “Glad you woke-up, dear.” She had said in a pleasant tone. I, too, had been relieved to still be alive. How many teenagers can say they went up against twelve Death Eaters and managed to live?
My relief was short lived when she removed the bandage from my chest.
I remember crying a lot and weakly holding the remains of my breasts. I was not that well-endowed to begin with, but what I had was deflated and flabby looking, more like an old maid’s than a teenager’s.
She held me for a long time as I sobbed on her shoulder. She made shushing noises and calmly stroked my hair. The one thing I am grateful for is that she did not say it was going to be alright. She knew I was smart enough to realize that it was not going to be. She gave me my two choices. Tell my friends the extent of the damage, or keep it to myself.
If I told them I knew they would understand and would be sympathetic, but I did not want their sympathy. I told her I wanted it kept secret. I did not think I could face my friends if they knew the terrible cost that trip had on me. I knew enough about my best friend Harry to know he would have felt personally responsible for what had happened to me. He really did not need anything else on his mind; I am sure Voldemort was enough for him back then.
My hand slowly trails then stalls on the gruesome vein as it tapers off into my left arm. For a long time I was not able to look myself in the mirror like this. I would always where a bra to push up what remained of my breasts, and I always wore a nightshirt around my bunkmates. Eventually, the stigma of being scarred faded from my mind. I think this happened sometime after Voldemort finally died, after we had spent all that time searching for Horcruxes.
Having gone through all that, it felt silly for me to worry about the ugly thing. I had a brave new world to help mold and wonderful friends at my side. True, many died in the Battle of Hogwarts, but the ones that were left made the sacrifices worth it. Of course, that feeling of euphoria faded as reality once again returned. Yeah, we defeated the worst Dark Lord in centuries, but there was still life to get back to, and for me that was very hard.
The nightmares and Bellatrix were the worst. I would wake-up at odd times screaming for her to stop, my body twitching as it recalled the cruciatus curse she had cast on me. They thankfully faded in time, but I still get a twitch whenever someone mentions that Unforgivable. I learned later that Harry had cast it on one of the Carrow siblings. I paled and ranted at him for doing such a horrible thing to someone.
“They deserved it for spitting on Professor McGonagal!” He defended himself hotly.
“Harry! Do you know what it does to someone? No one deserves that! No one!”
We ended the argument by giving each other the cold shoulder for a few days. I apologized later for losing my composure, and he apologized for getting angry. We have not discussed the topic since.
I hear a knock at my door followed by: “Honey, you ready, yet?” There is a hint of impatience in his tone.
My loving and darling husband Ronald Weasley. My eyes again trail the purple, grotesque thing. “Not yet, I’m still deciding what to wear.”
“Yeesh, women.” I hear him mutter as he stomps away.
I shake my head and smirk. Ron is not the smartest man on the planet. Anyone else would have wondered why I suddenly could not decide what to wear, when in the past I am always decisive. It is clothing, nothing special. Instead, he swallows my little white lie and chalks it up to me being a woman. How typical, but I still smile.
Until I recall that first anxious night I took off my shirt for him.
“Oi! What the bloody hell is that!?” Had been his immediate response.
For a stricken moment I waited for him to recover and apologize for what he had said; he had been getting very good at watching his outbursts. Instead, he just sat there against the couch with a sickened look on his face. I could see in his eyes the perverse feeling he got staring at it, wanting to look away but not being able to.
Tears came to my eyes as he slowly reached out, wanting to touch it. Not touch me, but to touch the revolting thing residing on my breasts.
I had quickly pushed him away and gathered my shirt. My action had finally knocked some sense into him, but it was too little too late. I was out the door and apparating away before he managed to say sorry.
It was weeks later that he could look me in the eyes again. Years afterwards he still felt ashamed for how he had acted that night. It took me about that long to forgive him, too. He had reawakened the buried thoughts of ugliness in me. I had thought I was over that nonsense, but I guess every woman wants to look appealing for their husband.
It is hard to feel appealing when your husband insists you wear a shirt when you have sex.
I understand perfectly why. I’m sure nothing can kill his mood quicker than staring at my gruesome scar. That does not mean I have to like it.
I sometimes wonder how Ron escaped those dark times unscathed. I can see the echoes of that war in my eyes and on my chest. I understand clearly why Luna every year packs her things after a few months visiting and goes out to see the world. Personally, I think she is running away and cannot face what had happened here. A coward to leave the rest of us to pick up the pieces and make sure something like that never happens again.
Neville also bears what happened on his shoulders. He shied away from the problems and lost himself in his plants.
“I’m just trying to make my Mastery.” Is his excuse to the others, but he knows he is not fooling me. “Look at my parents, Hermione, and tell me I have to be there. I don’t care if they were there or not, I don’t want to face them!” He was referring to the trial of the Lestrange brothers. I went there to face the husband of the woman who tortured me. I left feeling sick. Ron had been there, too, cheering with the rest of the crowd when they got sentenced. How can anyone applaud at a trial?
I know they are horrible people and deserve what they got. I hate them both for all the terrible things they did, but to cheer at another’s misfortune? To revel in your hatred of them…that much is going too far. It is taking the path that Voldemort and his followers took. Ron could never see that, no matter how many times I tried to tell him. Eventually, I just stopped going to the trials altogether. The only saving grace was that Harry also refused to cheer.
I concentrated more on the laws of the Wizarding World, pushing for legislation that would give equal rights to other intelligent beings. The hardest was for the House-elves, something that just passed this year. The original law, passed a year after Voldemort died, allowed house-elves the right to break their bondage and demand pay. Few did this. Finally, after years of debating and pushing all house-elves must be freed and paid.
They are not taking it very well and are going on strike. Their version of a strike is to continue working and refuse pay. I am sure in a few generations they will be more grateful for what I have done for them.
“Hun!” I hear my husband’s whine clearly through the door.
I sigh, a smirk no longer on my face. “Another moment Ronald.” I reply back testily.
I hear a grunt and his footsteps fade away.
I will not be shepherded to this silly function. Honestly, it will be Harry everyone is going to be looking at.
My mouth compresses into a thin line. This is one aspect of my husband’s personality I do not like and can barely stand. It is his need to be in Harry’s shadow, reminding everyone that he helped, too. My lips become a scowl as I recall what my wonderful husband was doing earlier this day. He was again expanding our home here for ‘future little Weasleys.’ Every year around the summer he starts in on me about having children.
And each year I tell him that I will have them when I am ready. It makes him angry and we usually have a nasty row about it. Me holding on to what I want to do while he feels pressure from that woman he calls a mother. She knows she is no longer wanted over here if he is not around; I will not tolerate her inane comments.
“Oh, this place would feel so much more livelier with children.”
“Have you and Ron discussed how many you want to have?”
“Ron always said he wanted to be a father.”
I do not care if he wants to be a father or not. Right now children are the one thing I do not want in my life, not until I can give them the right amount of time.
“Just quit the Ministry and you’ll have plenty of time,” had been Ron’s wonderfully logical response. My own had been cursing his dick off for a week. I will not give up what I have earned at the Ministry, nor will I stop trying to make this society a better place for my children. Maybe when I feel the discrimination is finally going down will I be ready to have children. Until then I will keep fighting.
I hear his footsteps again haunting the door. He is gathering his courage to confront me, knowing if he is too insensitive I will not like it. I do not enjoy being mean to him, but there are times his words just cause too much hurt. He knows he can be a jerk, but that still does not stop him.
I soften up for a moment and think maybe I am being too hard. I still love the man for all his faults.
“Hun!” He whines. “Just throw something-on, it’s not going to matter what you wear, they’re not…” He immediately stops when he realizes what he was going to say.
I clench my jaws. “You mean it won’t matter because no one is going to be looking at me? Does that mean you, too? Do I get to stand around and talk to idiots all afternoon while you smile stupidity next to Harry?” I call back to him heatedly.
I hear an indignant squawk. “I-I didn’t say that!” He hollers back.
“You didn’t have to! You were going to say it!”
“Look, you were the one that said as long as I didn’t say it you wouldn’t hold it against me!”
That moment of intelligence surprises me; they are rare coming from my husband. “Fine, then tell me I won’t spend the afternoon talking to idiots and you won’t spend it smiling stupidity while everyone talks to Harry.”
I hear him growl in frustration. He knows I am right and he knows that is what will happen, but he will not concede to me that is what he wants. He wants to be around Harry’s fame. And he wants me there to show the world that Ronald Weasley did get the babe. I’m not vain, but I do know when I put into the effort I can look pretty good. Yet, he is too ashamed to tell the world he makes his wife where a shirt while having sex.
Okay, I will admit that I am bitter about that. I wait a moment more, knowing he will resort to pleading next.
“C’mon honey, you know I’m really sorry.”
I wait longer, knowing he will barter.
“Okay, fine! We’ll just be there for a few hours.”
I notice he did not say ‘I promise.’ When he says that I know he means to keep to his word. When he does not say it, it means he will not stand by his word and try to make it up to me later. I wonder briefly why I forgive him as much as I do.
“I’ll be out in a minute.” I call back harsh enough to let him know to leave me alone and not cross this final line.
“Fine!” He calls and stomps away.
I glance once more at the thing emblazoned on my chest and I think of another scar. One festooned on my best friend’s forehead. It is what both defines and separates him from everyone else. His entire life has been surrounded by it, and I cannot help but envy him. How does one bear such a dark mark and still come out feeling hopeful? I can see it in the way he walks and talks to people, that light in his eye. People flock to him because of his serenity and others look-up to him because he is so calm.
Do I wonder what it would be like married to him? Sometimes.
Unlike other well-wishers I have a source that could tell me what it is like being married to him. Ginny Potter.
“I swear to you nothing fazes the man. I tried to shake him last week by saying I was pregnant. He just looked up from his papers and smiled at me. I told him I was kidding, hoping to see him disappointed, but I all I got was another smile and he went back to work.”
She does not know the reason behind it. He has only told Ron and me. I guess that is why I envy him so much, because in his shoes I do not think I could have done the same thing.
He faced his death, scared yes, but he still walked to it. He sacrificed himself for us all and died. He returned later a changed man. The shadows in eyes had disappeared, vanishing along with his doubts and fears. Standing instead of the scared boy was man of confidence and self-assurance. I guess when someone learns what happens after death they look at the world with new eyes.
It is a shame that the knowledge has done little for me. I know what he went through because we discussed it at length, but I do not feel the way he does.
“It’s just something you have to experience. Like there are somethings you can’t get from a book.” The last was said as a private joke to ease my frustration at the time. It had worked. Harry was the only one in the world who could put me at ease like that.
I chuckle to myself realize that once again I am thinking of Harry as a saint. A modern-day Jesus Christ. He has his own faults like the rest of us, and he can get angry. It is just very rare these days.
Before he and Ginny had gotten married he was off into every dark corner of island sniffing out even a hint of something dark. It was a crusade that my husband, then boyfriend, joined him in. The year after the Dark Lord’s fall is when they were the most active. And while they were off gallivanting around the country I finished my seventh year at Hogwarts.
“Hermione! This is getting stupid! You don’t take this long normally! Are you in there staring at that sc…”
My eyes narrow dangerously before he finishes that last statement. I think he can feel my anger because he cuts off. “Am I staring at what Ronald?” I ask in a severe tone.
He knows he is in deep trouble now. “Uh…uh…,” the ever handy stutter to buy himself some thinking time.
I scowl and walk forward to grab the robes I had intended to wear all along.
“Hun, listen…” He gives another pause as I arrange my robes. There, done.
I walk briskly to the door and fling it open. Ron is standing wide-eyed with worry in front of me, his hand going to the back of his head, where it nervously scratches his neck. His mouth is opening and closing like a fish’s.
“Stow it, Ron.” I declare, not caring to cushion my tone in the least. He knows better than to say something like that!
His arms fall limply. “You look nice.” He tries lamely.
I sneer briefly and shake my head at him. He is going to be in the doghouse for a week, and he knows it. “Two hours, Ron. I won’t stay any longer at that ridiculous function.” I hold up two fingers so he can count them. “One. Two. No longer.”
I shuffle pass him and ignore whatever he was going to say. I pass the room he just added to the house and glance into it. That is the second room he has added. He decided to paint this one blue, too, with little brooms flying around drawn on the walls. I think he is trying to drop a not-so-subtle-hint that he wants a boy. I pull my wand out and mutter a quick spell. The brooms are now flying around on fire.
I continue on my way and enter the living room. He passes the room and I hear him utter a squawk. Apparently he does not like my change of décor.
He stumbles into the living room blind with anger and indignation. “I spent half the morning on those things.” He says in a raised tone.
“And I spent a few seconds fixing it.” My own tone is cold. He sees my change as an attack on his dreams of having a future. He runs a hand through his hair, wanting to argue with me, but realizing in the end it will not do him any good. I always win and he knows it. “Don’t have anything to say, hun?” I do not like being malicious, but he had no right to say something about me staring at my scar. He does not have to live with a constant reminder of the war.
I see him grit his teeth and his are eyes heated. “How long are you going to hold that against me, huh?”
I meet his glare with one of my own. “When you stop bringing it up like it’s my fault I have it!”
“I didn’t mean it that way! You only took it that way!” He raises his hands in the air in frustration.
I scoff at him. “No, you said it so I would have to hurry up and join you at this stupid luncheon.”
“I did not! I just thought…” he pauses for a moment, struggling for words. “I just wonder when you’re going to stop obsessing over it?” His voice is more in control now, and his question takes me off guard.
Do I obsess over it? “I don’t obsess over it.” I say somewhat meekly.
His eyes light up as he sees an advantage in the fight. “Yes you do!” He is eager to exploit this. “I know you think about it a lot.”
“Of course I do! It’s hard not to with something like this on my chest!” I yell at him, gripping the front of my robes for emphasis.
He scowls realizing he lost the advantage. “Let-let’s just go to the bloody luncheon.” He makes to move around me, but I step into his face.
Suddenly I feel angry and hurt, resentful and bitter. Everything he has ever said wrong to me is floating to the forefront of my mind. And in this moment, I absolutely hate him for how he escaped unscathed from the war. “Do you even care what’s it like?”
Startled by the vehemence of my voice he takes a step back. “W-what?”
“You heard me! Do you know what’s it like to know the man you love won’t have sex with you if you don’t wear a shirt?”
Red suffuses his face. “We’ve talked about this before! I can’t…concentrate if I see it!”
I hate him for his lapse in speech, knowing he was going to say something worse about the thing. “You mean this?” I lift my shirt up and show him. He recoils in disgust; it appears it has been a while since he saw it last. “Tell me, hun, how hard would it be for you not to obsess about it?”
His mouth his gawking as he tries to force his stare away from it. Again I see the perverse interest in his eyes.
I pause and he finally looks away, but he is still mad. Angry at me for again throwing it in his face. “You see Ron, it’s there and it always will be. It can’t heal and it’ll never go away. That’s something you don’t have to live with; something you didn’t get out of the war!” My voice is loud and harsh at the end and I am breathing heavily. Sometime during those last few statements I stopped talking about my physical scar and started referring to something else. The shock of it startles me from my mood.
Ron is looking at me peculiarly.
I cannot meet his gaze and I slowly cover the scar back up.
A long silence stretches between us as I realize that maybe it is not envy I feel towards Harry and Ron, but jealousy. Jealous they can go on with life like nothing awful happened, while here I am trapped by what transpired.
I want a better society to raise my children in because I do not want them to go through a war. I do not want them to be mocked and humiliated because of their birth. I do not want them battling for their lives in a dark and scary part of the Department of Mysteries as terrifying men try to kill them.
I do not want their lives to be ruled by fear as my own has been.
The revelation shakes me to my core. In this humbled state I see how horrible I had been acting to the one man I say I love. He did not deserve my spiteful words or actions. We should not fight like this because I know we need to communicate more, but I always held back, bitter for the fear I lived in while he was so free.
Tears crowd my eyes and I wipe them away. I cannot look my husband in the eye for the shame I feel for having treated him badly. A moment later I balk at my weakened state thinking my husband still likes Harry’s shadow and he still needs me to wear a shirt to have sex. He will still pressure me for children and he will still listen to that woman he calls a mother!
Yet it all means nothing because I cannot justify my own actions based off how he acts.
I heave a sigh and look up to a very baffled expression on my dense husband’s face. That expression tells me everything I need to know about my husband. He loves me enough to put up with my snide remarks, but he is not smart enough to understand what is going-on between us. He is not as introspective as me so does not understand the effect his words have. He just understands that sometimes he says stupid things.
I walk forward and give him a strong embrace. We part and he stares at me confused. It makes him look extraordinarily goofy; I laugh at him and he cracks a smile. I forgot how I liked his smile. “Ron…we need to talk.”
He scratches his head, but nods. He anxiously looks to the clock and I tense when I realize he is reminded of the luncheon.
The celebration of Voldemort’s defeat and the one time of the year he can partake in Harry’s fame.
He relaxes and sighs heavily. “Okay, we can talk.” He sounds depressed when he says it, but it makes me feel relieved. He is willing to put aside his selfish desires for me. I feel a warmth in my gut as he directs me towards the kitchen where we can sit and talk. It is nice to know my husband can think of someone other than himself for once; I guess the same could be said of me as well.
For a long time we talk about what has been bothering me. I tell him that his actions hurt me, too, not just his words. The hardest part for me to confess is how bitter I have become because he and Harry can just go about life without even remembering the war.
This is where my husband surprises me; as he sometimes does.
“How can I forget about the war?” He shouts angry. “Hell, my brother died in it! I think about him every day and wish he here with me! Do you know how many times my mother called me over because she couldn’t stop crying?” There is now hurt in his tone and confusion in mine.
“How do you do it?” I ask in a whisper.
He shrugs unsure, but I am beginning to understand.
Understand the difference between wounds and scars. This horrible thing on my chest is a scar; its damage had been healed long ago. The scars I thought I had possessed from the war were not scars at all, but wounds that had yet to heal.
I look to my husband and see now the darkness in his eyes my bitterness blinded me to. He knows the price we paid for this and he has accepted what has happened and put it behind him. For all his faults, he was able to pick up the pieces of his life and move on. Something I myself have not been able to do.
I sigh and look down at my chest and remember the scar adorned there. “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean to say that earlier. I just…never could understand how you got over everything.”
He gives me a blank look before answering. “I dunno…I just kind of kept going. I knew Fred would rather had me laughing at his funeral than crying.”
He said it simply, but it carried more weight than he knew. It conveyed the simplest of meanings in a just a few words.
Just keep going and don’t stop. Live.
“Ron…I love you.”
“I love you, too.”
I smile but don’t feel it. I am tired and drained, and we still need to talk things out; our relationship is far from perfect. Hopefully, as we work out our differences my wounds can start to heal and become a scar, like the one emblazoned on my chest.
A/N:: Something a little different than what I'm used to writing, considering my other fic is so AU...this being as Canon as it is surprised me as I wrote it. I tried to instill in each off them how they could have turned out and what Hermione would think being married to Ron. She is somewhat arrogant and Ron isn't all that bright; though, he does have some moments. Like using the basilisk in the CoS to destroy the horcrux. I hope I was able to instill in you that what they had was a true relationship...in the end that was my ultimate goal. To make their whole interaction as relationship as real as possible.