Hermione breathed out a long sigh of content. This was just so . . . perfect. She almost wanted to cry with happiness. She loved Ryan so much, she wasn’t sure how to completely express it, in words or actions, to make him know just how she felt. It was like love was trying to burst out of her heart - it swallowed her whole, and she didn’t know how to show it. Looking across now into his eyes, her fingers stroking across the smooth surface of his chest, she knew that he felt it to. There was a heat between them, something so strong it linked them together and oh, how she loved him.
“So, what do I taste like?” She quizzed him good-naturedly.
“You?” He pretended to think for a while and rolled on top of her. “Well, you my dear, taste like fresh, fruity wine - I think I could become an alcoholic.”
She giggled and snuggled her head into his neck, nibbling at it thoughtfully. “Ryan, I feel . . . weird. I feel drunk with . . . well, love. It’s sounds pathetic and clichéd, I know, but, well - it’s true.”
She blushed under his steady stare and hid herself closer into his neck. She could feel the strength of his pulse beating there, and was still incredulous as to how she had won him. He stroked tender hands through her hair and kissed her brow.
“I know what you mean. I’ve never felt like this and - oh my god, Hermione - I wrote you that song. D’you wanna hear it? We recorded it last week. It’s for you - it’s about you.”
“Oh, I don’t know. I mean, I might find myself blushing a bit.”
“You’re gorgeous. Why would you need to be ashamed of blushing? It won’t disfigure your beauty.”
“And you,” she touched his nose with her middle finger. “Are my angel. And I want to hear it.”
He got up, and for a moment she regretted leaving his warmth, but soon he was back again, having pressed play on the cd and snuggled up again with her. The tuneful thread of a melody threaded towards them, and Hermione found herself closing her eyes to the blissfulness of it. The drums began heavily to drown out that subtlety, then the guitars speeded up and Ryan’s luxurious rich, angelic voice came flooding through.
She listened as the words washed over her, dreamy and pleasant, to the perfect tuning of Ryan’s voice as it rose and fell in harmony, sweet and clear and then rich and creamy and . . . She turned to face him and planted a passionate, long hungry kiss upon his slightly pouted lips, sucking at the bottom one greedily.
“I l-love you,” she murmured into his ear as she felt his breath hot against her face. She kissed that fresh neck again, showering him in a thousand kisses before rolling away to doze peacefully beside him, planting two kisses on his closed eyelids.
They spent the next morning shopping, hoping that they wouldn’t get caught on camera. Ryan drove them both to a sea-food restaurant by the Thames afterwards where they satisfied their stomachs and then just climbed back into the car all over again .
“Ryan?” Hermione pestered him as they were driving through the busy city with Bring Me The Horizon pumping in the background.
“Yeeeessss,” he replied in the same whining tone, but without failing to grin.
“I have to - have to tell you something.”
He glanced at her through the overly large sunglasses he was deliberately wearing to look good, as there was no sign of sunshine in the cloudy sky. “What is it? Whatever it is, it doesn’t sound good, judging by your tone.”
She swallowed hard. “Well, firstly, the photoshoot I was at yesterday - they asked me a few things, about our relationship, and I answered a few, but then they got too demanding, I just wanted to warn you that things might come out a little exaggerated, and if they do then they’re not true, any of them.”
“What did they ask you?” She could tell he was amused by the way his words came out half-strangled.
“Oh, er, if the sex is good . . .” She felt herself turn red.
“I hope you told them yes,” he laughed, to which she poked him hard in the ribs and responded, “I offered no comment.”
They drove on. The Portkey would be at Platform Nine and Three Quarters at four 0’ clock, and so Ryan was taking her there now. Somehow she had to tell him before she went that she was a witch; she knew she wouldn’t be able to live with herself otherwise. She couldn’t simply go back to Hogwarts without explaining herself; it wasn’t fair on Ryan, not fair at all, and by not telling him, she was betraying him.
“Are you flying back to America tonight?”
He shrugged. “Nah, I think I’m gonna hang around for a bit. I like London, it’s a pretty inspiring place, especially for song writing. What d’you think?”
“You mean, you plan to be staying in London more than America?”
“Yeah, probably. I mean, I will go back and forth of course, to see my friends, but my band will come over here, they like it here a lot. And of course there’s always the small benefit of seeing you whenever the hell I want to.”
Smiling brightly, she leaned back into the chair. “Well, there’s the slight annoyance of school preventing that.”
“Oh, Herm - can’t you go to a different school?” He begged, taking off the shades and turning on the puppy-eyes again. “I mean, this one you’re at, I don’t know what’s so special about it, but you never seem to be available. Why does education have to be so restricting? I mean, you’ve got your life here, haven’t you? You’re famous, you’ve got the opportunity of money pouring in if you pursue your career, and if all else fails, you’ve always got me.” He cleared his throat a little awkwardly and concentrated on the road when announcing his next words. “I mean, I’d sure as hell look after you if your career fails. I’ve got enough money as it is from the band, and potentially a lot more coming - and I’d er, love it if you came and, er, lived with me. That is, if you want to. I know it might be a bit quick but -” He paused to run a hand through his hair, frustrated that he could not get the words out. She was staring at him lovingly. “Fuck Hermione, I love you so badly it hurts and every moment I’m away from you, well - lets just say everything I wrote in the letters was true.”
A long silence save for the pulsating of the music fell between them. Hermione stared out of the window for a long time but caught a glance in the mirror of the way Ryan kept flicking his eyes towards her, wondering if she’d bother with a reply, looking slightly hurt that she had to think about it. Finally she swallowed the lump of dread in her throat and began.
“The thing is, Ryan - can we, can we pull over?”
He nodded but didn’t look at her, and at the next opportunity pulled in a slot on the side of the road, switching off the engine and releasing a long sigh. His head fell back in his seat and he closed his eyes, waiting for the words to come.
“I’m - I’m not who you think I am,” she began hesitantly.
“You’re an angel - what could there possibly be that defied that?”
Hermione frowned. This was going to be harder than expected. “Ryan, I’m a - I’m a witch.” He stared at her and began to laugh. “No, seriously. Ryan - stop it and listen will you!” Her voice had risen to a shout with her frustration and without intending to, and now he looked slightly startled and unprepared. “Since I was eleven, I’ve always known. I received a letter through the post as a child, inviting me to a school - Hogwarts School Of Witchcraft and Wizardry.”
“Hermione - if you’re having a laugh -”
“No,” she responded angrily, “no, I’m not, and will you just listen to me?” He stared. “Thank you. Well, anyway, I wrote back saying yes, excited but without a clue what was going on, and then I found out about this place - Diagon Alley, where you shop for all your magical school equipment and stuff. There’s a station at Kings Cross that you can’t see - a barrier that you go through and - oh, whatever!” she threw her arms up helplessly. “What I mean is that I’m a witch, I can perform magic, that at school we study things like Potions and Transfiguration, Herbology and Arithmancy and - well, I wouldn’t expect you to understand. It always comes as a shock but, well, I can prove it to you.” She turned in her seat whilst he stared across at her as if she was mad and watched as she pulled her wand out of a bag. “I’m not allowed to do magic outside of Hogwarts, but my Headteacher granted me special permission because he said you can be trusted and - well, everyone needs proof. Give me your sunglasses.”
“Wha - ?”
“Oh, never mind. Accio sunglassess.”
To which, of course, the glasses hovered in the air and floated steadily towards her. Ryan’s face blanched and he looked as if he might choke on his disbelief. “How did you -?”
“I told you, I’m magic - and if you really love me, then you’ll know I’m telling the truth.”
He leaned forwards and rested his head against the hardened steering wheel. “I don’t believe this. Herm, you’re not on drugs, are you?”
How could he do this? How could he not believe her? Her hand leapt to the door and she opened it wide, ready to spring out as she unfastened her seatbelt and reached into the back to gather all her stuff. “Forget it. I’ll walk to the station.”
“Herm, please -” He scrambled out of the car and rushed round to stand in front of her. She glared wrathfully with her eyes narrowed to pulsating flamed slits. “Listen, I believe you, ok? It’s just kinda hard to digest. I - I’m sorry. Look, get back in the car and we’ll discuss it.”
She eyed him apprehensively. “You don’t think I’m mad?”
“Of course not. I love you. Come on, I’ll hear you out.”
Reluctantly, she agreed, and slid back into the car, watching as his face relaxed and he climbed back in the other side. This time he turned out the music and his brow creased in concentration, watching her carefully.
“All I need from you right now is your belief. Please,” she consoled him.
He sighed and chewed his lip. “It’s a little harder than you might think to just accept what you’ve just said, that you’re a, er,” he blushed as if embarrassed by talking about such things, “a witch.”
“Well, I am.”
“What, so you’re evil? You perform some kind of Hocus pocus tricks?” He grinned awkwardly.
“This isn’t a joke Ryan, so don’t treat me like one. I’m serious. If you’re going to be immature about this -”
“Oh, so I’m immature? I’m not the one pretending to some magical witch!”
That was it, she had had enough. This time when her hand reached for the door her didn’t try to stop her. She was so angry, how could he react like this? She’d trusted him enough, respected him enough to inform him of the truth, and he was just laughing at her, without bothering to hide it. She stormed wrathfully up the length of the road, heading towards the station. When she reached it, she felt her stomach sinking - he hadn’t bothered to follow her. What did that mean? That it was over, they had broken up? She didn’t know. All she knew was that she couldn’t stand another couple of months apart from him, dreading his next letter, clinging onto hope that he still wanted her.
Suddenly someone caught her hand as she reached the entrance of the station, and she found herself spun around to meet Ryan’s dark pleading eyes.
“Please, Herm - I didn’t mean to be such a bastard. Will you just give me another chance? I’ll let you talk this time, I promise I’ll listen.”
Her eyes narrowed to honey-comb slits. “You said that last time.”
His eyes were so expressive, so full of delightful apology, that she couldn’t possibly refuse. In the end she took his hand and allowed him to pull her into a coffee shop. They sat down, ordered drinks and pondered thoughtfully for a while. Hermione checked her watch. They had well over an hour until they had to part, but she knew Ryan would want to get back to knuckle down on some lyrics. Instead, he was spending more time with her. Her heart swelled with pride and love every time a girl glanced over at her boyfriend to eye him enviously. Luckily no one came over for an autograph, which coursed relief through her. She knew she would lose her temper if anyone wasted their last hour together.
“Well, shoot,” he demanded, taking a sip of his bailey-coloured latte and staring at her intently. He had rested his sunglasses on the table, so that she could watch the expression on his face carefully.
“What do you want me to tell you?”
“Everything,” he insisted.
She drew a breath and a gulp of coffee to endure and scramble together her thoughts in an effort of decision upon what to say. It was hard to put each thought into context. What had she said already? What was most relevant? This was going to be a long hour. She rose her eyes to fix him with a steady stare.
“Magic isn’t a game. It’s serious. To begin with, there’s seven years of study included, and schools range throughout the country, England and Europe alike. I’ve never heard of an American school though, so I doubt one exists. But we take magic seriously, and a profession can be found in it.” She swallowed some more coffee and added as an after-thought, “There’s also a Ministry of Magic.” She expected him to look surprised at this, but his face remained carefully restrained of emotion. It was all the encouragement she needed; he wasn’t judging her yet. Drawing a breath, she released it out in a sigh before continuing.
“I’ve attended a place called Hogwarts for seven years. Like I told you, I received a letter once and that was it - I finished my shopping for magical artefacts and text books, got on the train that leaves at Platform Nine and Three Quarters - there’s an invisible barrier which all magical folk can get through to reach it - and then I’m away, studying hard at school save for Christmas and summer time. It’s not easy, there’s a lot of practical techniques involved, but so far I’ve managed to achieve to the highest standard. When I leave Hogwarts, I’ll likely pick my career and continue from there. I need you to know that I’m not going to be your famous model girl forever. I’m going to be employed into something more interesting perhaps than the media world, something that takes more brains.”
He frowned. “Are you calling my band brainless?”
“No, no, no,” she shook her head furiously. “Never that. You’re the most intelligent person I’ve ever met. Your lyrics are just . . . astounding, and your looks compliment your abilities as well.” She giggled as his eyebrows raised. “Well, it’s true. But anyway, have you understood anything I’ve been saying?”
He bit his lip. “Sort of. Not entirely, but, well . . . enough that my brain can take.”
“And you believe me?”
“It’s difficult, I’m trying but, well yeah - I believe you.”
She had never loved him more than that moment in time in all the time they had been together. His adorable face was lit with concentration and confusion, but a layer of belief in her covered that up and ignited his eyes. She took his hand across the table and squeezed it tightly.
He nodded and glared back down at his coffee, massaging his temples as he thought. “The world’s so big, we’re so insignificant, and we’re sat here discussing something that’s ridiculous but for some strange reason, believable. Is there anything dangerous about magic?”
She hesitated, then finally nodded. “Well yes, now that you mention it, there is.” She set off in the direction of explaining about the Dark Lord, his intentions, and her involvement in his affairs. Ryan’s face grew more and more troubled as she hastened on, and when she had finished, he was looking frantic.
“Funny that you slipped that in at the last minute,” he scowled, glancing at his watch.
“Well it took long enough for you to believe in the concept of magic without explaining this incipience inconvenience as well.”
“Incipience inconvenience?” He repeated shrilly. “Don’t be so stupid! This is dangerous - you could get hurt! Hermione, it would kill me if anything bad ever happened to you!”
“I appreciate your concern,” she replied stonily, leaving a lingering kiss on his lips as they stood and left their empty coffees. “But I’ll be fine.”
He looked like he wanted to say something then, but folded his lips and glanced away.
“What?” She encouraged him.
“No, go on - what were you going to say?”
He shrugged and sighed out his words in a long breath. “Just that if it’s so dangerous, maybe you should give it up.”
“Give what up?”
“Hogwarts - this school place that you go to. Maybe it’s not worth the risk. Maybe,” he drew her towards him with firm arms and spoke into her hair, “ you should quit and come and join me in London. I’d protect you - career or not, and you need’t worry about your weird destiny-ridden friend and the ginger mutt who you say doesn’t like me. Come live with me, we’ll get married and have a family and -”
She broke him off with a fierce shake of her head. “What? Ryan, I’m seventeen! I’m not thinking about marriage and family yet!”
“No, and what’s more is that I wouldn’t give up my school, not for the world.”
He grimaced. “You know I’d give up anything for you. Even my career. Why won’t you do the same for me?”
She pulled away from him and glared. “It’s a little different.”
“How is it different?”
Her voice was growing louder with increasing anger and she could feel it sparking through her veins. “It’s different because we’re a different age! You’re nineteen, you’ve finished school, and you decided not to continue in education. Don’t blame me if I can’t make the same decision. You can’t just expect me to drop everything for a promise I don’t even know you can keep!”
He was silent for a while, just staring at her. “You mean you don’t trust me.”
“I didn’t say that -” She protested weakly against his disappointed, hurt explanation, but he cut her off by running his hands through his hair and cringing.
“You don’t need to say anything to make me realise your meaning.”
“Get off me,” he scowled as she took a step towards him. “Haven’t you got a train to catch or something? You know, Hermione - I’d have thought better than this of you. I thought you were different from other girls. Do you actually mean you love me when you say it, or is it all pretence?”
“Ryan, how could you?” She gasped, her heart stinging with his accusations.
“You know what, forget it.” He turned away from her, sunglasses in hand, leaving her abandoned as she walked away.
“I’ll be in touch,” he threw the words angrily over his departing shoulder. “I dunno when. Soon.”
Hermione stood hopelessly for a while, then shook her head and made her way towards Platform Nine and Three Quarters, feeling as if her soul had been ripped in two.
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