Chapter 1 : If I Had Only Known
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Summary: Hermione Granger’s last night with James Potter before going back to her own time is not without tears, despair, and love. But it is definitely without regret. One-shot. Song fiction to Jana Stanfield and Craig Morris’ “If I Had Only Known”.
If I had only known
It was our last walk in the rain
I’d keep you out for hours in the storm.
Thunder rumbled in the overcast sky as Hermione Granger wrapped her arms more tightly around James Potter to keep from falling off his broom.
“Whose crazy idea was it to fly in this weather anyway?” Hermione asked loudly as James swerved to avoid hitting one of the towers of the castle. She screamed as she hung upside down for a split second and drew a sharp breath when she was upright again. “James!”
He laughed, taking enough time to look at her, his messy black hair flying wildly behind him. “Sorry. I’ll try not to do that again.” Hermione looked into his eyes, and although she knew that he was only half serious, her heart melted. Her lips relaxed into a dreamy smile.
Like a lifeline to your heart
Underneath the thunder we’d be warm.
Before she could say anything, however, Hermione felt the cold air disappearing. She was wondering whether that was the effect of James’s large hand covering hers when her toes hit soft, wet ground. James helped her get off the broom and righted himself afterwards, not letting go of her hand. She shivered in spite of herself.
“I’m sorry I got you drenched, and if I scared you,” James said quietly, rain spattering over his black-rimmed glasses. When he looked at her like that, and when he stroked her hand as gently as he was doing right now, Hermione knew she could forgive him anything. “When I fly, I feel as though I’m on top of the world. I wanted to share that with you.”
It was our last walk in the rain.
Hermione blushed, the same peaceful smile still on her face. “And if I’m going to be scared, I’d like to be scared with you.”
James bent his head a little, and for a moment, Hermione thought he was going to kiss her. Instead, he simply gazed into her eyes. The intensity in those hazel irises always fascinated her. She had often wondered whether he loved as passionately as he spoke, or even as he looked. But then the moment of intimacy passed as he gripped his broom firmly in one hand and her hand in the other and started to walk back towards the castle. Hermione breathed in deeply, faintly disappointed, but not so much so, as she reveled in the security James’s large hand was giving her. James began chattering about Sirius’ latest excursion to Hogsmeade, about the botched prank Peter had pulled on the Slytherins the day before. Hermione wasn’t listening very much to what was being said though, as hearing the distinctive timbre of his voice was enough to put her in a swoon.
I’d never hear your voice again
I’d memorize each thing you ever said.
This must be heaven, being so close to him, having her wildest fantasies fulfilled. Hermione never even imagined that they would come true in her lifetime, that she was doomed to love James Potter only from a distance. But like she’d proven so many times in the past, there was always a way, as long as she wanted it badly enough. And she did. She would never regret making and drinking that potion that allowed her to challenge the situation time had destined for her. Not now, not ever.
James caught her around the waist as she stumbled clumsily over a rock, as though an omen that somewhere along the way, things would go wrong. Hermione knew there would be consequences. There always were, for good or for bad, but she was willing to take all of them. She pressed her palms on his hard, strong chest and flushed with the sudden wave of desire that coursed through her. It took all of James’s self-control not to press his advantage, even when all he had to do to keep her forever was to sweep her completely into his arms and hold her tight.
He did not take her into his embrace, but he did not push her away either. Hermione rested her cheek on his shoulder, giving in to the deepest craving of her heart. In her mind’s eye she recalled sitting with him by the lake the day before, supposedly studying. While absently picking on the grass, James had remarked how he wanted to become an Auror so badly, what with Voldemort’s reign of terror. James had always hated the Dark Arts. “You should go into the same field, with brains like yours,” he added.
Pain squeezed her heart and held it so tightly so that she could hardly speak. “We shall see.” Hermione could not bear to talk about his future, when it was her past, and remember that whatever she did, time could not bring them together.
His smile was full of hope, oblivious to the internal turmoil she was experiencing. “Yes, we shall. I can see it now, the two of us standing side by side. Together.” He cocked his head to one side and said thoughtfully, “With Sirius and Remus and Peter too, of course. No one will dare stand in front of us.”
Hermione smiled in spite of herself. “You think big, don’t you know that? Almost as big as your head,” she teased him, and then grew serious again. “James, aren’t you scared?”
“What tomorrow might bring, with the war looming. In a few months we’ll be leaving school and who knows what will happen?” Hermione shuddered. She did know. “Like bad things.”
He lifted his hand and stroked her face gently, then breathed a laugh. “How can the future be terrible if you’re going to be there?”
Hermione let him touch her, and then answered, “James, I might not always be there. One day we might have to take our separate paths.”
I could think of them once more
Keep your words inside my head.
She knew was going to have to leave, even if she did not know how. Even when she never wanted to, the way things with him were going. The thought tormented her, but she did not have enough heart to tell him. She was eternally grateful for having been given a chance to make him fall in love with her, and she would never forget. But would James remember, even after she was gone? Would he be able to forgive her? Or was this whole experience, the happiest months of her life, part of another dimension so that it would be as though it had never happened?
James shrugged. “We’ve finished with our separate paths. Now that they’ve crossed, I cannot think of any reason why they would diverge once more.”
I’d never hear your voice again.
Hermione became conscious of James’s fingers sifting through the damp ringlets of her hair. “We’d better go inside,” he murmured into the brown curls. “The storm’s getting worse.”
Each one lost in their own thoughts, they walked their way back towards the castle and entered the Gryffindor common room, both of them still slightly wet from their excursion on the stormy grounds.
“I’ll just change, and then I’ll meet you back here, okay?” James asked softly. “You should go change too, or you’ll get sick.”
Hermione nodded dumbly and then lifted her head to look at him. Their eyes met, and his were infused once more with the same fire she had seen earlier tonight. Slipping an arm around her waist, James touched her lips with his. Softly, innocently. Then he drew back and smiled, his expression triumphant, as though he had just captured the Snitch. She was his, he knew it. The look of wonder and realisation in her eyes were more eloquent than any word she could have said.
“I’ll see you in five minutes, maybe even less,” he said, sprinting towards the staircase to the boys’ dormitory. At the foot of the staircase, he looked back and waved roguishly. Hermione could not help but smile at his loony antics.
You were the one who always stood beside me
So unaware I foolishly believed
That you would always be there.
She lifted her left hand to put her fingertips to her lips to recall the sensations he had stirred in her, but then she gasped. Two of her fingers were already missing. She stared harder at her wrist. Was it her imagination or was she becoming more translucent with every second?
Hermione choked back a cry. Not now, please, not now. Not yet. Tears filled her eyes, and she rushed to the table where she had left her books, trying to look for a parchment. If she was going to leave, and she was quite sure the time she dreaded had finally arrived, she had to tell James. She had to explain, had to make him understand. She had to tell him she loved him. Oh, James, please hurry up.
A warm hand touched her shoulder. She looked up and saw Remus Lupin’s blue eyes instead of James’s hazel ones. “Oh. Remus.”
The blue eyes were filled with concern. “Are you okay?” He gave her a one-over and his forehead creased with worry. “You look pale.”
She swallowed, knowing the situation she was in was worsening. “No, I’m not okay. And there is nothing you can do to help,” she said as Remus opened his mouth to ask. Hermione closed her eyes tightly and came to a decision. “Actually, there is. Tell James I have to go.” Remus’s eyebrows jumped. “Somewhere. Home.”
Remus started to interrupt once more but was placated when Hermione laid her hand gently on his arm. “There is no time, Remus.” At least for me, there never was. “I cannot delay any longer.” She smiled a sad, wistful smile that Remus knew, had James seen it, would haunt him to the grave. “And tell him I love him, even though I know he already knows.” Remus saw the unshed tears in her eyes. “I’m sorry I couldn’t tell him myself. I wanted to stay here with him, forever, but I cannot.” Her voice broke. “Please, believe me.”
And before Remus could say anything, Hermione rushed through the Fat Lady’s portrait and ran as fast as she could, as though she could leave all the pain and the memories behind by racing with time. Blindly, she made her way through the maze leading to Moaning Myrtle’s bathroom, a sanctuary she shared with the ghost.
It was my last night by your side
I’d pray a miracle would stop the dawn.
Hermione watched helplessly as both her arms vanished, and then both her legs, so that she became weightless. A whirlwind of colors engulfed her, and she felt her body being lifted up and seemingly being compressed into a funnel carved out of thin air. Something cold, hard, and slightly wet hit her knees, and she waved her hands wildly as though to regain some balance. She was able to steady herself only when her palms encountered the same coldness, the same hardness. She stayed that way for a few moments, crouched as though in defeat, and then slowly looked up and blinked as her eyes adjusted to the brightness of her surroundings. She coughed as the smell of smoke reached her nostrils and recognised it coming from the lit cauldron.
She was back.
She slowly got up and walked towards the door, feeling the burden in her heart and the chill to her bones. Hermione opened it and walked straight ahead, starting when she bumped into somebody. She gaped, wondering if she had walked into a dream. There’s still hope. James was right in front of her, his hair as untidy as usual and his smile as sweet and mischievous as ever. As always, all thoughts flew from her mind and all she could hear was the frantic fluttering of her heart. There’s still hope.
I would look into your eyes
And make sure you know my love
For you goes on and on and on.
Hermione smiled back, half-expecting him to berate her jokingly for not waiting for him. “I haven’t changed yet. I’m sorry.” She wanted to put her arms around him and tell him how scared she was that he was lost to her forever, that she was terrified they could never be together. She opened her mouth to say so, but he beat her to the words.
“I’m glad you haven’t,” he said amusedly. “Ron and I have been looking for you all this time. What are you doing down here?”
A cold numbing spread all over Hermione as the light collected in his eyes, and she realized, for the first time, that they were a vivid emerald shade of green. They were the exact same colour of the curse that claimed his life, and she felt as though she had been hit by the same Killing Curse. So this is what dying feels like.
Hermione lowered her own eyes and bit her lip to tamp down the emotions threatening to overwhelm her. “Nothing,” she mumbled disconsolately, feeling life drain out of her. “Just remembering the past.”
If I had only known
The love I would’ve shown
If I had only known.
Author’s Notes: While I have another James/Hermione fic, this is actually of a different plot than that story and doesn’t have bearing on that other story, just to make things clear. I wrote this first before the novel-length one, come to think of it, just to bounce ideas off the wall. That was when I decided that this story did not completely make sense with James dying, so I had him live in Never All Together. Haha. Don’t forget to review, as it’s just a click away! :)