A Clandestine Reality: 05. Will You Hate Me?

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Would he hate her? He'd certainly have every reason to after the truth became known. She didn't want it to come down to a choice between the two of them, Harry deserved better than that. But when it came down to the nitty gritty, she didn't know if he would hate her simply for what she had done, or give her the chance to explain herself. Harry was temperamental, always jumping to conclusions before finding out the facts. Would he hate her after all was said and done? Would he even give her a chance to explain? She really didn't know the answer to either question. Ron's hatred she could bear simply because she deserved it, but Harry's? His hatred was the one thing she could not bear.
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Some people might think her priorities were skewed if she worried more about her friend's reaction than her husband's. The truth was, she already knew that things with Ron were slowly becoming irreconcilable. Hell, the man had switched her contraceptive potions with fertility ones! She was having a hard time trusting him lately, especially whenever he offered to make her a cup of coffee, or get her a glass of water. Things between them had been going down hill for a long time now, but this would be the breaking point. She didn't think he noticed that anything was wrong, and that was why this would be such a kick in the guts for him. He would hate her by the end of the night, of that she was certain.
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First she needed some reassurance and that was why she was here. Ron had gone over to the Burrow for the morning to help de-gnome the garden, and Luna was off at the Quibbler fixing some last minute printing errors. It was just Harry and her – or at least it was until the two children decided they wanted something. Rose and Lily were not too far off in the distance, dangling their legs through the bars bordering one of the park's slides. Hermione had always lectured Rose about Lily being younger than she was. She explained that Lily was unable to take care of herself, or voice her opinions like she could. Her daughter seemed to take it to heart and saw herself as Lily's personal protector, something Harry found highly amusing. Rose may have been young and unable to understand certain concepts, but she knew vulnerability when she saw it. Lily was like her little sister, so the four year-old protected her as such.
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"You're awfully quiet this morning," Harry commented, reaching into his backpack to retrieve an apple.
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He was always prepared. The backpack had seen better days but it served its purpose. There was never a time when Harry was without it, claiming that it was an essential for any father to survive parenthood. It was filled to the brim with everything you could possibly imagine. There were books, dolls, changes of clothing, food; you name it and it was in there. Much like her old beaded bag, it could store an endless amount of items.
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"I've just got a lot on my mind," she replied quietly, looking over to where Rose and Lily were running around on the grass.
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"Need an ear?" he asked, taking a large bite of his apple. His eyes were trained on the two children, barely blinking in their watchful state.
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"I've got two already, thanks," she laughed, elbowing him in the side playfully. Even she could tell her heart wasn't in it.
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"You know what I mean," Harry turned, pinning her with a stare, his striking green eyes surprisingly insightful.
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Hermione was here to get reassurance, to find out in a roundabout way if he would stand by her. She hadn't had the guts to tell Ron the truth last night or the night before that, or the one before that. The internal debate she'd had with herself lasting into the early hours of the morning. Today was the day; she'd convinced herself of that much. But before she became the lamb all those clichés talked about, she needed to know she'd at least have someone on her side.
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"If something happened between me and Ron," she started, licking her lips nervously. "If something happened, would you stand by me?" the words were painful but necessary. She had to know.
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Harry frowned. "Of course I would. Hermione, you're my best friend," his eyes were sparked with curiosity. "You are both my best friends,"
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"I would never make you choose," the words came out in a rush as she turned to look at him imploringly. "You have to understand tha –"
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"I already understand, Hermione, because I would never make you choose if something happened between me and Luna," he cut in, smiling sadly but reassuringly down at her.
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"What did I ever do to deserve you as a friend?" Hermione laughed sadly, biting her lower lip to keep from tearing up.
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She'd worked herself up over the past few hours, trying to reign in that famous Gryffindor courage. Rose wasn't far off in the distance and she couldn't afford to let her little girl see her upset. There'd been too many questions asked when Rose had accidentally let it slip that she'd visited her in the middle of the day. Ron had been curious, especially when Rose mentioned that her eyes had been 'leaking'. It would have been the perfect opportunity to tell him the truth, but she just couldn't do it. She'd lied and said that a colleague was working on a child abuse case and that she'd gotten upset. The lie had come easily – almost too easily. Her hands were shaking in anticipation because she knew that when she told Harry the truth, everything would change.
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"I think I should be the one asking you that," Harry laughed, taking another bite of his apple. "How you put up with me and Ron, I'll never know,"
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"I'm not as good a person as you make me out to be, Harry," she could feel the tears building up but she refused to let them fall.
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Everyone put her up on a pedestal. She was the perfect wife, the perfect friend. Her boss was no different, publicly praising her whenever he could. They all had this idea that she was the perfect person, flawless and without sin. She was only human and to try and live up to that ideal everyday was exhausting. Alyson was the only person who didn't have any expectations of her, the only person who let her be her without complaint. It was hard to try and live up to everyone's expectations, even if they didn't realise they were setting them to begin with. Rose accepted and loved her unconditionally simply because she was her mother. But everyone else saw someone who wasn't there. She wasn't perfect, far from it actually.
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Her friend frowned, a curious expression on his face. "Is this about Rose?" he asked her suddenly, eyes solemn with understanding.
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"W-what?!" she asked in surprise, eyes wide from fear.
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"I'm not blind, Hermione," he sighed, voice laced with irritation and unease. "And I'm definitely not stupid either," throwing his half eaten apple in the trashcan, Harry looked over to where his daughter sat happily on a nearby log, Rose playing with her hair.
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"Harry I –" her heart was beating erratically, the knowledge in his piercing green eyes making her cringe.
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"Let me finish, Hermione. I need to get this off my chest and I promise that I'll give you the chance to explain after, but I need to say this," he snapped, abruptly cutting her off. "When Ron came over to see me the other day, I just thought the two of you'd had another one of your tiffs. He seemed genuinely upset so Luna went over to the Burrow with Lily to give us some privacy. Imagine my surprise when he tells me that the two of you went to the healers earlier that day. I'll admit that I was right pissed when he told me about the fertility potions, but when he said that the healer told him he was sterile… " Harry paused, running a hand through his hair in agitation. "He always wanted a big family, you know? For this to happen to him – it's cruel, too cruel," his eyes were riddled with sadness, pain for his friend. But there was also a dark accusation in their green depths.
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"Everything just clicked. It was like something went off in my head when he told me. I didn't want to believe it. I didn't want to believe that you would do something like that, but all the evidence was there just staring me in the face," his voice was pained, cutting at her like a thousand knives. "I was so mad, Hermione. If it hadn't of been for Luna I probably would have done something I'd regret. But she calmed me down enough to understand that there may be more to this. There is more, isn't there?" he asked, eyes pleading for an explanation, angered but hopeful.
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