Chapter 10 : finding the path
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Chapter X: finding the path
“I know nothing about platonic love except that it is not to be found in the works of Plato”
“Okay, tell me about the fuck bunnies,” she eagerly ordered as she sat across from him in the secluded corner at the Three Broomsticks, where they had agreed upon having their “tell all, hide nothing” sharing fest, as she’d so aptly named it.
Harry, who had been taking a sip form his fire whiskey at the moment, choked slightly at her words. “I didn’t know Hermione Granger even knew how to curse.”
“Well I had to pick up something after being mates with you and Ron, not to mention I dated him.”
“I’ll give you that much at least,” he nodded in understanding. “But, honestly, why do you call it that? It doesn’t seem very… you.”
She shifted uncomfortably at his words, the tone of the conversation quickly sobering. “Well what do you expect me to call them, Harry? I’m just trying to make light of a situation that I don’t approve of at all. I mean, seriously, what am I supposed to say to this? After all, you already know I disapprove of it whether I say anything or not—you know me, and that’s enough.”
Harry shrugged pathetically, merely muttering “you never made any comments about it.”
“Honestly? I wasn’t sure if it was my place anymore… I mean I did leave,” she admitted with a small, sheepish smile.
He chuckled lightly. “It’s always your place, whether I want to admit it or not, you always have the right to meddle in my life,” he assured her.
She grinned. “Thanks, Harry; that means a lot to hear. I guess… I mean there I was in Africa and you two were here and I just didn’t know where my place was in your lives—whether I even had one anymore… whether I really had the right to comment anymore, and I was scared to—I just didn’t want to ruin whatever we had left…”
They both sat in an awkward silence for a minute, each letting the words seep in, hitting them full force. He finally interrupted the hush, taking her by surprise, by letting out a deep sigh. “What is it?”
“Pardon?” she asked him innocently, slightly wide eyed by how intuitive he’d become.
“What is it that you want to ask me? I can tell that there’s something bothering you, I know you well enough that I can at least see that much.”
She smiled slightly at his words, biting her lip nervously as she got up the courage to ask the question that had been plaguing her mind for so long. “What happened to you?—I mean, you weren’t like this when I first left. There was Ginny, Alison, and Victoria-”
He snorted slightly, interrupting to correct her. “Try Alice and Vicky.”
“I thought those were nicknames or something,” she sheepishly admitted with a giggle, as she took a drink from her butter beer, primarily to hide her blush.
Harry nodded understandingly. “Yeah… well, they weren’t.”
Hermione glared at him slightly for pointing out the obvious. “Whatever, back onto a matter of importance… why do you do it?”
“What do you mean?”
“Well come on Harry, you weren’t always this… well, randy!” she said, barely containing the blush that was slowly creeping up her neck. “There was a time when you were perfectly capable of controlling the little guy by actually committing yourself to a relationship—in fact, I remember that time well. So tell me, why’s that so impossible now?”
Harry merely shrugged, letting out a grunt as he mumbled “I don’t know.”
“Nice, Harry, really eloquent response you gave there,” she sarcastically quipped, rolling her eyes.
“I just—I don’t really want to talk about it.”
She flinched slightly at that admission, but, for once, she didn’t say anything, she merely tightly muttered “okay, fine, I understand… I’ll just let it go.”
“No,” she firmly stopped him. “I understand… I do.”
Despite the fact that he may have tried to broach the subject again, try to make up for being such an arse, she wouldn’t hear of it, never giving him the opportunity to actually try and explain himself. With a defeated sigh he finally let the subject be dropped. “So… tell me about Africa.”
A smile quickly took over her face as she began gushing over her experience in the country. “Oh God, it was amazing, Harry. I mean there wasn’t much time, or a place, for partying or anything, so my wardrobe now just consists of jeans and t-shirts… but aside from the fact that I really need to go shopping, it was fantastic!—Bloody hell, I’m rambling, aren’t I?”
He smiled at her, nodding. “You are, but you do it so well.”
She scoffed. “Sure I do, but, anyway, the point it is: Africa was amazing.”
“I was able to gather as much, but was there anything else? You can’t tell me it was classic Hermione, all work and no play.” His eyes suddenly widened, practically bugging out of his head as the daunting realization hit him. “Bloody hell, please tell me it wasn’t.”
“No, I have changed Harry!” she said, rolling her eyes at the cliché he used to describe her.
He eyed her silently after those words left her mouth, slowly nodding his head. “I know you have, I’ve noticed. It may not be in the big ways, but you look content… finally comfortable in your own skin, and it’s great to see.”
She bit her lip as she shyly smiled at him. “Thanks, it’s nice to hear that you think so.”
Immediately sensing the fatal danger of the situation, at least on his part, Harry cleared his throat. “So what did you do in your free time?”
“Well… there were these four guys,” she admitted a bit timidly, blushing as she made the admission.
“Doesn’t that saying usually go ‘well there was this one guy?’” he teased her with a raised eyebrow.
“Well yes, but it isn’t really true if I say it was one bloke, now is it?”
“True, true; you always could easily out smart me, there’s really no point in me bothering with ever doubting you.”
“Too true, and don’t you forget it,” she winked at him.
“So tell me about these blokes that actually managed to do the impossible and get your attention?”
She blushed. “I’m not a prude, Harry!”
“I know you’re not, love, don’t worry, but it’s still fun to tease you regardless,” he told her with a grin as he called for Rosmerta to refill they’re recently downed drinks. “So, I remember one was named Hugo, kind of drawing a blank with the rest.”
She let out a snort at his confession. “Figures.”
“Oh don’t be like that, you were with that bloke for a year and a half, the other three were just passing fancies.”
“Actually, that’s not totally true, I did fancy myself in love with this one bloke, the Russian one, Marko, only realized after he had to go back that it wasn’t so much love as an insatiable lust,” she admitted with a sheepish smile, covering her face with her hands as she felt it getting redder by the second.
He let out a deep chortle. “Never knew you were that kind of a girl, Hermione.”
“Well things change, Harry; you know that as well as I do.”
He nodded slowly as he quietly agreed, playing with his glass of fire whiskey, watching the drink swirl in the cup with rapt attention.
“This feels weird, doesn’t it?”
Harry’s head quickly shot up at the words, eyebrows furrowing in puzzlement, forcing her to elaborate.
“Talking to you about this—I mean… we never really talked about my relationships before… well unless it was about Ron, and even that was sort of kept at a minimum, wasn’t it?”
“That’s the problem though, it was always about me, never about you; I just—I was hoping to change that, be a better mate to you… like—like you deserve,” he admitted slowly with a small, typical on his part, shrug.
She let out a sigh, rubbing her temples as his words hit her full force. “Harry, don’t ever think that again. What I said—what I said back then, before I left… I shouldn’t have, it was so wrong of me, not to mention horribly inconsiderate and bitchy-”
“No, don’t say that… I mean… it may not have been fun to hear, but you had a point, I can’t deny that-”
She smiled at him sweetly, raising a hand to his face as she rubbed his cheek lovingly. “You’re just too kind sometimes, far too forgiving. But you’re wrong…” she let out a deep breath, pausing as she grasped for the words that constantly seemed to evade her.
“When I was in Africa that was the one thing that almost ruined the experience, I was just… I felt so guilty over what I had said. It wasn’t true, I let my emotions get the best of me, but the fact is that a friendship isn’t about loving someone for the good, but the bad—loving them for their faults. I never did that before, not really… but I mean—I’m learning how to now. I didn’t deserve your forgiveness for that one, Harry; you just don't say things like that to friends—much less best friends. I’m so sorry, I’m so sorry for everything that I said… if anything it was my fault for never having confronted you, I shouldn’t have gone off as I did, it was terribly timed and horribly cruel.”
He sat there silently for a minute, unsure as to what to say in response to that, before he finally spoke. “I guess we both made our fair share of mistakes.”
She scoffed. “That’s an understatement.”
“But we’ll make it regardless, won’t we?”
She smiled at him, nodding slowly. “I think we’re already well on our way there.”
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