AN: I know I probably should have left this as it was, but whateverrr.
I thought the first chapter of this was hard, but this was even harder. For one, I’m used to writing Harry and secondly, in my eyes, Hermione isn’t as emotional as the boys are. She thinks, unlike most Wizards, in a very logic manner – which in an emotional piece, was very, very difficult to get right. In fact, I don’t think I got it right.
This is for Juls, a very late Happy Birthday to you, my fanmum. You are a much better mother than Hermione is in this story and also the only person I know that can write sweet, lovely Harmony. <3
Also am at work atm, so this is un-betaed, but it’s in the process, so please don’t bite me for any typos and the like for now. :o) As always, I love you all and especially the SAYSers for pestering me to write again. And to all those who reviewed - I promise to respond soon!
I never looked into the mirror. I thought it was daft and when the boys told me about it, all I could think to do was rebuke them for wasting their time. For wasting our time. In my logical daytime mind, I didn’t understand their fascination with it. Surely you didn’t need a mirror to reveal the intricacies of your heart? But, I was twelve years old. I was twelve years old and I knew exactly wanted.
Today, I’m not so sure.
As the years passed, I longed for that mirror in my twilight fantasies. Memories of my school years flood back to me: the night after the ball…the night he first kissed her…a thousand and one recollections merge in my mind. Argument after argument, each just as filled with passionate longing as the next, arose, but back then I didn’t realise that the object of my desire was always clear, leaving just the journey to obtain it hazy. It mirrored the rest of my life, for Merlin’s sake, the role the wicked Fates had thrown me into! I desired peace, knew the end of the war was in my hands, without understanding, for the most part, what I had to do. My two most wanted desires shone, clear as daylight, for me and still I craved confirmation. I wanted fact; I needed the cold, hard, metallic truth of an image.
I haven’t left my bedroom for three days now. My beautiful boy is up and running already, but his pathetic crone of a mother can’t cope. I’ve told them that I have a Muggle bug, but really I just need to think. If I was in my logical mind I would be able to sort myself out, to put on a brave face. But right now, I need to rot. Evaporating from the face of the Earth seems like the easy option and so today I let it plague me. It’s my heart’s desire; I need to hide. And so I do, squashing to silence that tiny voice that reminds me that what leaves the Earth, always comes back as rain. I wonder if the rain would wash my life away.
Ron comes in again and I freeze beneath the duvet until he leaves. When I resurface I see he’s replaced my cup of tea. I want to throw it after him, scald him for being such a sweetheart. My fingers quiver as I reach for the mug and tears threaten to fall as I feel my throat tighten. I know exactly what medicine I need, who will make me feel better, but I’ve sworn off it. Sworn off him. Nothing good can come, not any more. Seeing my son, a brand new adult, sleeping, so small, like that in a St Mungo’s bed, is proof enough. Harry, valuable enough to save him, can’t be wasted on me. I don’t deserve him. He deserves better than me. And Ron deserves more than either of us can give him, he deserves better than what we are. Like I said, I want to scald him for being a sweetheart. And then myself; for not desiring him.
I don’t remember when I stopped, when my fantasies changed, though I suspect it was not too long after he stopped being forbidden. After he stopped infuriating me so much. When he started being nice to me. After all, it must be true what they say: you never want what you already have. Back then; in a world of constant fighting, I craved his arms around me. I craved stability, a rock. And he was the one pillar of continuity in my life. I could rely on his invariability. His arguments would always be there, but his hugs always would too. And unlike Harry or the others, his scorn concerned me. We fought over petty issues and then we made up. He was unwavering, loyal, and I needed that.
Things are different now. And at forty three years old, I still long for the mirror. Only the journey is clear this time; I could have either of the men I want. And deep down I know the object is clear too. I know I am in love with the man I dream about, but he is not the man I want to love. So is he my heart’s desire? Or is my truest desire to desire something else, to desire someone else? They say life’s too short for pretences and Hugo’s accident stopped my heart, showed me how true this is. The mirror in my mind fades as the logic I resent so much takes over. There’s more to it, I know that. For me, there always is. Life, my life, is far too complicated to abandon pretences. I have an obligation, a bloody responsibility that stretches far beyond my own son, my own children and to the rest of the damned world. The press that flocked around the accident shows this too, that the truth must be hidden. Ron saved us by getting rid of them, but he thinks he saved his son.
I wish he had
saved his son.
I wish Hugo was his son.
I imagine a life without obligation and again, my desires change.
And not for the first time, I pray that the mirror might lie…
Hermione uncharacteristically swore under her breath as a dazed looking nurse entered the room. Her son, her beautiful baby boy, was fighting for his life in there and this was the help they sent? How did he stand a chance? She couldn’t help her own son, that was heart wrenching enough, but why weren’t all the specialists working hard to find another solution. Marching forward, she opened her mouth to complain, but stopped herself as she realised the nurse was grinning widely at her.
‘I have wonderful news, Mrs Weasey,’ she smiled, clearly awestruck to be in the presence of a such a celebrity, ‘your husband’s a magic match! Everything’s going to be okay!’
Hermione’s jaw dropped and her mug fell, shattering on the cold ward floor.
‘H-how?’ she managed, her voice quivering. A new fear spread through her veins now. Though, as a mother, it was far less daunting, Hermione found herself shaking more obviously now. Had she got the father wrong so many years ago? After years of hardship and jealousy, on Harry’s part, could Hugo belong to Ron after all?
‘Well, it usually is one of the parents, Mrs. Weasley,’ the nurse explained, though her comforting tone only infuriated Hermione more.
‘I know that!’ she cried, ‘I’m not stupid! I mean-’
‘Your husband is waiting to see you and Hugo now,’ interrupted nurse, smiling despite Hermione’s outburst, before making a hasty exit from the room.
Hermione followed her to the doorway and her heart relaxed as she saw Harry standing beside Ron, both with wide, relieved smiles on their faces. The dazed appearance could easily have been due to a memory modification charm, she hoped, looking from one man to the other.
‘It’s okay, Hermione,’ cried Ron happily, though only Harry heard the spite that laced his words. ‘I’m a match love, he’s going to be just fine!’
As Hermione rushed to throw her arms around him, completely missing the lack of sparkle that so often accompanied Ron’s laughter, she looked pleadingly over his shoulder. Never in a million years had she expected this to happen. To be found out like this.
Harry nodded and gestured to the crook of his arm.
Hermione felt the tears flood down her cheeks, blurring her vision as she found herself unable to take her eyes from his, the man she truly loved. Years and years of this secret life had passed now and yet she still found herself in the arms of someone who couldn’t help her. She felt her heart yelling at her legs to carry her to him, to her Harry, but behind her she heard the flashes of photograph after photograph. Tomorrow’s headline: Weasley Parents Embrace: Hugo is Safe. She couldn’t go to him, not now. Perhaps not ever again. Just the thought made her hairs stand on end and teamed with his piercing look, never wavering, she felt her stomach turn. He would be there, after all, he had smoothed everything over today so that not even Ron had realised the switch of blood, but could she take his help again?
Hermione thought of the worry that had plagued her over the last few hours and wondered how she had possible carried it. Never again. The words kept spinning through her mind. Was it time to come clean? Now, in front of the cameras? Later at home? Her little boy’s safety, or the rest of the world’s morals? It was a weighty question, how could she tell them all, her children included, how horrible she was? She couldn’t answer it. Not now. Perhaps, not ever. Now, she wanted to hide.
‘Thank you,’ she mouthed, passing every emotion that ran through her to him in one last look, before, finally, closing her eyes.
The door creaks open and immediately I still my body. Something’s different though and with a heavy breath, I realise that it’s Harry’s scent that fills my nose. Despite myself, my better intentions, I feel dimples form, the corners of my mouth reaching for my eyes as I turn over to face him.
‘Ron said I could come and see you.’
He sounds surprised and I wonder why. No doubt, Ron was being overprotective. He must have said I needed rest, or that Harry shouldn’t risk catching anything. The thought of this makes me feel awful. Ron cares so much. Only, all it takes is a look into the discomfort magnified by Harry’s glasses for me to realise this isn’t true. I wonder what they fought about. There was definitely a fight.
‘Why wouldn’t he?’ I ask, blithely, hoping that my voice sounds croaky.
‘Oh, he’s been a bit overprotective for the last couple of days.’ His voice is uncertain. Harry has always been an awful liar.
‘Oh?’ I raise my eyebrows.
‘Yeah, he – Hermione!’ He cuts himself off, exclaiming as he looks at me properly. ‘You’re faking!’
All worries of any alleged fight vanish from my mind at the sweetness of the shock in his voice. I grin, unsurely flirting, before throwing a pillow at him. He ducks before looking directly at me and my breath catches. My heart hammers faster and I hate him for holding such power over me.
‘I was worried, you know,’ he murmurs, sitting dejectedly on the end of the bed. Immediately, my heart melts and I sit up beside him.
‘I’m sorry,’ I whisper.
‘I love you, for Merlin’s sake, Hermione! It’s unfair of you to do that to me.’
‘I was worried about Hugo and then I felt awful about-’ I gesture helplessly to the pair of us, ‘-about this.’
‘And you think I wasn’t? That I didn’t? Hermione, when I heard I was bloody terrified. He’s my son too, or have you conveniently forgotten that again? And then they said you weren’t a match and Ron was being tested and-’ He breaks off, his voice shaking.
‘Thank you for sorting everything out.’ It is all I can think to say. I look up at him, snuggling my arms around his waist and leaning into him. It feels wonderful.
Harry smiles slightly, seemingly placated, but I can tell he’s worried about something more. He glances, not for the first time, at the door, making it clear that Ron must be in the house. This time, I don’t know why he’s worrying; we’ve done it before. We’re used to being quiet. We’re used to hiding.
‘I’m sorry, Harry, I love you,’ I murmur, feeling safe for the first time since the accident. I brush my lips against his, allowing a blissful sigh to escape. I’ve missed this. But he doesn’t reciprocate and instead, takes my face into his hands and moves it back to look at him. I freeze, concerned. I can tell he is deciding whether or not to tell me something. He opens his mouth to speak, but at the last minute shakes his head. I see the desire, the love in his eyes, knowing it must mirror my own. Before I know, he is kissing me hurriedly and I am smiling against his face, whole again.
I open my mouth eagerly - whatever he wanted to say can wait. That is if it was even important at all.
Right now, life’s too short.