Chapter 1 : Smile Like You Mean It
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Anyway, this story developed after I randomly wrote the first three paragraphs. Then I continued writing, listened to the song "Smile Like You Mean It," and this story was born. Those of you who are fond of my The List and I'm Not Neurotic! versions of Ginny should take note that she is most definitely not characterized as such in this fic. While I don't portray her to the evil lengths that I do in What's Expected of Me, she's still pretty nasty (but then again, she is in a "lover's spat").
Please read, enjoy, and review!
Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley were fighting. Again. The name “Hermione” was coming up every five seconds. Again. Hermione Granger was squirming uncomfortably in her chair as Mrs Weasley eyed her suspiciously.
Needless to say, it wasn’t the first time that Harry and Ginny had broken up on account of Hermione. In fact, she seemed to be the only reason why the pair seemed unable to stay together (all seven times). Mrs Weasley was convinced that Harry and Ginny deserved to live together, happily ever after. So it wasn’t surprising that she was less than pleased that Hermione, who had, after five years, officially ended things with her youngest son (and not just in an off-and-on, Harry-and-Ginny sort of way), was now “destroying” the life of her only daughter.
“Oh, mum, give the evil eye a rest,” Ron groaned, sitting next to Hermione. Ron, despite his famous temper (one of the few traits he shared with his sister), had quickly accepted the termination of his relationship with Hermione, recognizing that life was easier (and contained a lot less yelling) when they were just friends. “It’s not Hermione’s fault Gin’s a spoiled brat and can’t stand that Harry doesn’t spend every waking moment of his life worshipping her.”
Mrs Weasley sniffed as she made her way around the table, providing every one with second servings of lunch (Ron and Hermione’s were significantly smaller than every one else’s).
“It can’t possibly be Hermione’s fault that they’re constantly arguing,” Mr Weasley reasoned through bites of potato.
“Really, Molly. Sit down and ignore— ”
“THEN WHY DON’T YOU GO OFF AND MARRY HERMIONE, THEN, SINCE SHE SEEMS TO BE THE ONLY PERSON WHO CAN BLOODY UNDERSTAND YOU!” screamed a female voice from upstairs.
Hermione cringed and readied herself for another round of angry glares from Mrs Weasley. She wasn’t disappointed.
“Come on, Hermione,” Ron said, dragging his ex-girlfriend away from the table. “This is getting ridiculous. She gets enough of it from Ginny, mum,” he snapped at his mother. “She doesn’t need it from somebody supposedly as sensible as you.”
As Ron led Hermione to the garden, George proudly watched his younger brother leave.
“About time someone did something about that,” he said happily, before digging into the rest of his lunch.
“Why do you let her attack you like that?” Ron groaned as he and Hermione sat down on a bench. “It’s not as if you need to win her affection. We’re not dating anymore or anything.”
“Molly was like a second mother during our Hogwarts years,” Hermione sighed, tracing a pattern in the dirt with the toe of her shoe. “And even today I can talk to her about some things that my parents simply couldn’t understand. Anyway, she’s right. Harry and Ginny are constantly arguing, and all thanks to me.”
Ron rolled his eyes. “Please. Ginny just can’t accept the fact that she’ll never be the most precious person in his life.”
“Oh come on, Ron.”
“Well it’s true. We’re his best friends. And at the very least you’ll always be the most important female in his life. I mean, think about it: whenever something’s on his mind, he goes to you. Not me, you. He trusts you, and only you, and that’s never going to change.” Ron gave a small shrug as Hermione bit her lip.
“Ginny’s ready to bite my head off,” Hermione said, picking up her feet and tucking them underneath her. “Make sure she never hears you say that.”
“Stop worrying about Ginny. Start worrying about what you are going to do with your love life.”
Hermione blinked. “What do you mean?”
“I mean that you broke up with me for a reason,” Ron said. “And yeah, I get that it was because our relationship consisted of arguing, arguing, and some more arguing.” Ron paused as Ginny’s voice rose, calling, “What do you mean you can’t talk to me? I’M YOUR GIRLFRIEND, YOU PLONKER!” Ron gave a small cough and continued, “But, and you have to admit, there was more behind that than just wanting us to be able to talk like normal people.”
“Oh not you, too,” Hermione snapped. “If you start up with the ‘you’re in love with Harry’ rubbish, I’m going to end things with you all over again.”
“I’m just saying.”
“Well don’t.” Hermione shifted uncomfortably in her seat. “Because I do not have any sort of feelings for Harry.”
“You sure?” Ron gave her a sideways glance.
“Of course I’m sure!” Hermione exclaimed, but her face was red, and Ron knew, from experience of course, that it wasn’t because she was angry.
“All right then.” Ron shrugged. “If you insist.”
“Well all right then.”
Silence ensued. Well, if one ignored the constant outcries coming from Ginny’s old bedroom, which, of course, Ron and Hermione could not.
“If you want to keep a girlfriend, Harry, maybe you should consider spending more time with her and less time with your bookish, know-it-all, wand up her arse, clearly in love with you, bloody best friend!”
“That little bitch,” Ron muttered under his breath.
“Nobody gets to call you a bookish, know-it-all. Save me and Harry, ‘course.”
“Ginny, you know fully well that no one, and I mean no one, save for me and Ron, can call Hermione bookish or a know-it-all, or any of those other terms that you deem ‘insults,’ because no one else gets that the reason why we love her so much is because of all those things, not in spite of them!” came Harry’s voice, which was sounding angrier by the second.
“Told you,” Ron smirked at Hermione, who rolled her eyes.
“Yes, I just love it when you two call me that,” she mumbled.
“Ha! A ha!” Ginny’s voice was shrill, and she was clearly hysterical. “You love her, huh? You love her? I knew it! I knew it!”
“Not this again. For Merlin’s sake, Ginny! Yes, I love Hermione. Because she’s my best friend. And if you can’t get that through your incredibly thick head, then I’m going to—”
“What, run to your little ‘Mione?” Ginny sneered. “Cry about how awful I am to you?”
“I can’t sit here and listen to this,” Hermione said, throwing up her arms in exasperation. “All it’s going to do is lower my self esteem, because apparently I’m the root of all of Harry and Ginny’s problems, and Ginny’s going to make sure that I never hear the end of it. And I hear you loud and clear!” Hermione yelled upwards, standing up as she did so. The “couple,” of course, couldn’t hear her over their own yells.
“Harry’s doing a damn good job of defending your honour,” Ron noted.
Hermione looked disgusted. “I don’t need someone to defend my honour, Ronald,” she sniffed. “That’s such a sexist idea.”
“Ah, but admit it, you’re thrilled that Harry’s standing up for you.”
Hermione’s cheeks flashed red again, but all she said was, “Goodbye, Ronald,” and then disapparated.
At that very moment, Ron heard Harry explode, “You know what, Ginny? I’m not dealing with this anymore. I’m through with your immaturity and inability to accept the fact that Hermione is my friend.”
“You’re breaking up with me?” Ginny cried.
“Again?” Ron moaned. “Please let this time be for good.” Years ago he would’ve attacked Harry for breaking his sister’s heart (in fact, he had the first three times), but now Ron doubted whether Ginny was even capable of loving someone else.
“And you’re going to go off and talk to Hermione, then, are you?” Ginny’s voice was rising again.
“Yes. Right now, in fact.”
“I knew it!”
“Ginny, shut up.” And a few seconds later Ron heard a crack. Ginny screamed, a blood curdling scream that was going to attract the attention of the muggle police from the other village, and Ron heard the crash of plates as his mother ran upstairs to comfort her poor, poor daughter.
“Well, Hermione’s going to be in for a nice surprise,” Ron commented to himself brightly, and headed back inside. He hadn’t had any seconds, after all, and he was dying for some dessert.
Hermione heard a crack behind her. Sighing, she held her hot mug closer to her body. Footsteps drew closer.
“Hullo, Harry,” she said, taking a sip from her tea, and then stared straight ahead.
“Hey,” he replied, taking a seat next to her on the couch. “I broke up with Ginny.”
“So I heard,” Hermione answered in a monotone. “How long is it going to last this time?”
“I think it’s for good.” There was a tinge of bitterness to Harry’s tone, but if he was upset, he certainly didn’t show it.
“Well, this is certainly going to put a strain on any future gatherings at the Weasleys,” Hermione attempted to joke.
“This isn’t funny, Hermione.”
Hermione let out a small breath of frustration. “I know, Harry, but can you blame me for wanting to make light of all of this? Ginny’s never going to speak to me again, not that she did much of it in the first place, and Mrs Weasley is going to have my head. She’ll serve it as dessert!”
“I think you’d make a better entrée.”
Hermione scowled. “Quit taking pages out of Ron’s book. If you didn’t notice, he fails to amuse me.”
Harry frowned. “What’s wrong with you? I thought I was the one who just had a break up.”
“Yes, but I’ll be the one who gets all the blame.”
“Oh come on.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow. “You must be joking.”
“And here I thought the ‘come on’ signified that I thought you were joking.”
“I’m serious! Ginny is convinced that I’m the reason for your constant break ups, and Mrs Weasley would rather blame me than you any day.” Hermione sighed and sunk into her seat, closing her eyes. “Why did you break it off, anyway?”
Harry shrugged noncommittally. “I guess I just grew tired of having to fake a smile everyday. She was constantly treating me as if I were some…some idol or something. I just suddenly realized how fake it all was.”
“Well make sure Mrs Weasley knows that.” Hermione shook her head and added, “It’s so stupid, really. How on earth could those two possibly think that you broke up with her because of me?”
There was silence.
“Harry, this is when you reply, ‘Clearly they’re mental,’ or something in that vein.”
More silence, and then…
“What if I did?” came Harry’s shaky voice.
Hermione’s eyes shot wide open. Sitting up straight she said, “I beg your pardon.”
“What if I did?”
“You did not say what I just think you said,” Hermione said, threading her fingers through her bushy lock. “It’s inconceivable. It goes against all the laws in the universe of…of logic! It’s— ”
“What if I— ”
“Oh for Merlin’s sake, Harry, stop it already! I heard you the first time.”
“Well you said— ”
“Harry!” Hermione took in a deep breath, and Harry closed his mouth. Her mug shook as her fingers trembled, and she grasped the cup firmly to bid it stay still.
A few moments later Harry spoke once more. “I meant what I said. I ended it because…well, because of you.”
“What on earth are you talking about?” Hermione demanded nervously as Ron’s taunting voice played inside of her head. “You just said that it was because you realized it was fake— ”
“Well, yes, that,” Harry said. “But it was more that she was always talking about you in the most insulting ways, insisting that I stop seeing you.” Harry stood up, as he always did in the middle of his rants. “All that bloody nonsense. Basically she wanted me to choose her over you.” Harry gave out a short laugh. “Why she tested those waters is beyond me. She should’ve known she was going to lose.”
Hermione’s breathing grew shallow. “Wh-what do you mean?”
Harry threw her a confused look. “Well, you’re obviously more important to me than some girl I’m dating. If they can’t accept you, then there’s really no point in my seeing her, is there? Even if I have known her almost as long as you. You were always there. It’s not like now that my life is slightly easier I’m going to cast you aside.”
“I’m just your friend, Harry,” Hermione sighed. “No need to be so histrionic.”
“You’re not just my friend,” Harry said sternly.
“What am I then?” Hermione could already hear Harry’s cheesy voice replying, “You’re my best friend.”
Harry’s eyes clouded with confusion. “I…I don’t know,” he admitted, looking anywhere but at the woman in front of him. Hermione’s shallow breathing returned. “I don’t know what you are.” Harry threaded his fingers through his hair (Hermione knew she had picked up that annoying habit somewhere). He looked at her again. “I just…don’t.”
Hermione began playing with the handle of her mug. “Please don’t tell me you’re saying what Ron and everyone else has been saying.”
“That…that you have…feelings for me.” Hermione swallowed hard and glanced up, biting her lip.
“No, of course not!” Harry cried, waving his hands in front of him. “I don’t think so.” The hands slowed down. “I mean…” The hands were at his sides again. “I don’t know.” Harry sighed and sat down again. “It’s so confusing, Hermione. Here you are, my best friend for thirteen years now…. Isn’t it a rule, or something, that all guys have to feel something for their female friends at least once in their life?”
“Brilliant, now I’m a possible one night stand,” Hermione muttered, and then finished the contents of her mug. “Splendid, really.”
“That’s not what I meant,” Harry said quickly. “I just mean…well…we’ve been together for so long. How do I know if I have feelings for you, or if I’m just confused by the fact that we’re so close?”
“Now you see, these are the sort of enquiries you make when we’re teenagers,” Hermione replied, hoping to avoid answering the question. In truth, she had no clue how to reply, seeing as these were questions that plagued her many nights before she drifted off to sleep.
“Well we didn’t exactly have a normal adolescence, did we? Just think of it as making up for time.” Harry cracked a nervous grin, and Hermione knew he was trying to break the ice that was slowly forming between them. There was a pause, and then, “But how do I know? I don’t want to see a million girls just to end things with them because I’m convinced I’m in—have feelings for you.”
“Well,” Hermione said slowly, “there is…one way.” She looked up at Harry once more, her lips incredibly dry. “I mean…well…”
Before Harry could respond, there was a loud crack, and both he and Hermione fell off the couch in shock.
“Hey!” called a voice, followed by the appearance of a tall redhead.
“Hey, Ron,” Harry called from the ground, rubbing his head. Hermione, on the other hand, muttered something that sounded very akin to a curse.
“Lovely afternoon to you, too, Hermione. Then again, after the lunch we had, I’d think anything would be lovely in comparison.” Ron stared down at the two and furrowed his eyebrows. “What are you two doing on the floor?”
“We thought it’d be more comfortable than the couch,” Hermione shot at him as she and Harry picked themselves up and sat back down.
“Really,” Hermione said sarcastically.
“You surprised us and we fell off,” Harry explained to the very confused Ron.
“Now that makes sense.” Ron sat himself between the two of them. “Well it’s safe to say that neither of you will be welcome at The Burrow for sometime. Especially Hermione. Ginny swears that if she sees you she’ll use you as mince meat for her next dinner.”
“Brilliant,” Hermione sighed. “What’d Molly say?”
“Mum said we should leave your body for the gnomes. George asked if he could use it for experiments, instead.”
“Wonderful family you’ve got there,” Harry commented dryly
“Yes, well, what’s that saying? ‘You can’t choose your friends, but you can choose your blood.’”
“Other way around, Ron,” Hermione groaned.
“Well, you get my point.” Ron leaned back into the couch. “So, what were you two up to?”
“Nothing!” their shrill voices rang, and Ron smirked to himself. Oh how he loved being right. But he’d think on that later. Time to push another button.
“So, Harry, why’d you break things off with my sister? This time, I mean.”
“I, er, I just couldn’t smile around her anymore,” Harry said as Hermione answered, “Everything just felt so fake.” Ron looked at her strangely. “So he said,” Hermione added quickly.
“Well you’ve gotta be able to smile…and mean it,” Ron grinned at Harry. “Speaking of which, I’m off to meet up with Alex. He said he’s going to set me up on a date.”
“That sentence made no sense,” Hermione said in a huff. “You absolutely abused ‘Speaking of which,’ and— ”
“Goodbye, Hermione,” Ron said, and disapparated into the kitchen, hoping to spy for a minute or two before he really left for the evening.
Harry glanced at Hermione nervously. “Er, about earlier, maybe it would just be wise to, you know…”
“Forget about it?” Hermione offered, playing with the hem of her shirt.
Harry nodded. “Yeah. That…that sounds about right.”
“All right then.” Hermione cleared her throat. “So, would you like to help me make a batch of cookies to send to Ginny?”
“Why would I want to do that?”
“Because you don’t want her killing your best friend. And if I make them on my own, I’ll most likely poison her or something just as ghastly.”
“Hmm, right… There isn’t any chance that your cookies could kill her if I didn’t help, is there?”
“Harry James Potter!” Hermione reprimanded him severely, hitting him lightly with the back of her hand.
“I’m just kidding!” Harry exclaimed, throwing his hands up in defence. When Hermione stopped her scolding, the two looked at one another and then burst into laughter.
Ron crept away from the door and chuckled softly to himself. It was about time those two were happy.
Yes, I know that Harry and Hermione don't get together in this one-shot, but it didn't feel right. I just couldn't get them together. It was too soon. But I hope that it's fairly obvious that they will, at one point or another, end up together.
Anyway, I hope you enjoyed this one-shot! I hope to have another entitled Insomnia up sometime soon.
Thanks for reading!!
Extra: Excerpt from Insomnia -
“If you want to talk to me, I’ll listen. I’m here.” It’s what he always says, and it's how the post-break-up session always ends. Hermione will smile and murmur, “Don’t be silly, Harry. I don’t want to bore you.” Then she’ll thank him for the tea, wash out her mug, and, with one last smile and a good night, go off to bed.
Only this time she doesn’t smile, and when she speaks, words that Harry never thought he’d hear come tumbling out of her mouth. “He said that I don’t love him.” Hermione stares deeply into the contents of her mug, as if scrutinizing the existence of tea.
Harry does a double take. “What?” he manages to spit out.
“He said that I don’t love him,” Hermione repeats monotonously. “That I never loved him. That there was only one person I loved, and he most certainly wasn’t him.” Hermione lets out a small, bitter laugh. Another laugh Harry isn’t used to.
“How could he say that?”
“Because it’s true,” Hermione whispers, staring at her bare ring finger. “It’s absolutely true. I never loved him. I never loved any of them. I cared for all of them, of course, but I could never make myself love them. Not in the way that I…” She breaks off, sighing.
“That what?” Harry asks.
Hermione gives Harry a soft smile. “Just not in the way that I should.”