Chapter 1 : Live and Let Live
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Disclaimer: I do not own anything Harry Potter related; as had I Harry would most definitely be with Hermione.
Live and Let Live
Summary: In reply to Lord Vador’s “humble request” of fluff for the disappointment of the 6th HP film (I pray it doesn’t disappoint)! “All our lives we search for someone who makes us complete. We choose partners and change partners. We dance the song of heartbreak and hope all the while, wondering if somewhere, somehow there is someone searching for us” (Anonymous)
“All our lives we search for someone who makes us complete. We choose partners and change partners. We dance the song of heartbreak and hope all the while, wondering if somewhere, somehow there is someone searching for us”
The entire affair is a terribly frightening replica of the most gaudy and pastel smeared Easter egg ever created. I swear to god, it is as if a five year old just picked up a brush and randomly splattered pastels all over the place. I hate it. I resent it. I almost puke at the sight of it… and if that doesn’t do me in then Ginny kissing Goyle most certainly does.
I wrinkle my brow as I look away with a petrified little scowl marring my face, I could almost feel the burgeoning upchuck reflex setting in.
“Not a pretty sight, is it?” a voice suddenly interrupts my rather caustic thoughts and I feel my entire body stiffen with an entirely unpleasurable surprise.
I grit my teeth together as I turn to face him, my back so rigid that I am sure it looks like someone had impaled a rod up my ass or something… but, thankfully, they just do that to pigs so I didn’t have to actually experience that immeasurable pain, those godless swine.
“Harry,” I curtly greet him, trying to ignore how dazzling his smile was as he leaned towards me with a mischievous little smirk. I want to cry out for help when he closes whatever distance there was between us when he moves to rest his arms on his legs so he can bend forward even more.
Damn, it'd be all the more difficult to ignore him when he is practically breathing in my ear and I also can’t very well move back because then that’d show I’m affected… which would give him the upper hand… which is entirely unacceptable, he’s had enough of those.
“Hello, Hermione… you’re looking rather ravishing this fine evening,” I feel his wink against my cheek as he huskily whispers the words into my ear.
I curse my knees for going the slightest bit weak at that sound. Bad, Hermione, bad!
“What are you doing here, Harry? No one thought you’d actually make an appearance,” I coolly note, applauding myself for being able to maintain composure as I speak. I would have hated having to explain why my breath hitched or voice cracked or something equally humiliating.
He smiles, almost wistfully, as he takes a finger and slowly drags it down my exposed arm—which has me begging my body to hold back the Goosebumps from showing themselves. Slowly he answers: “I was curious when I got the invitation…”
“So you do receive post?”
“Mhm,” he mumbles, eyes still riveted by my arm where he is making intricate designs with the aid of his pointer finger.
“So then, when you left, you had means of contacting me, but just didn’t,” I note.
His posture became stiff and I mentally congratulate myself on it. Serves him right, that prat. He left me… he left me just when he gave me hope.
“It… it was complicated,” is his piss poor excuse.
But that is true—it was complicated, I guess. Last year that had been the only way to describe it all. It was a difficult time, after the war he and Ginny had picked up right where they left off just as expected and Ron and I… well we broke Molly’s heart—and wrought on a ton of spiteful, backhanded comments from her—when we decided that we liked being best friends above all else. Three months after that Harry ended it with Ginny, citing that “[they were] just too different from anything to work, it was more expected than ever real.” If that wasn’t a bastardly way to end things I don’t know what was. Yet it was honest… and she has always been a bitch towards me, I suppose, so I shouldn’t feel obligated to empathize too much.
Throughout the next seven months Ginny tried every desperate ploy to get him back, even beginning a relationship with one of Harry’s childhood adversaries—Gregory Goyle, the fat tub of lard who is still a bastard to this day. Needless to say, the jealousy shtick didn’t go too well for her.
As for the two of us, well we were still the best of friends, getting closer in that year than the war could ever even bring us, surprisingly enough. And it all built up to one climactic moment when I had forced him to sit down and watch “Chocolat” with me… suddenly, just as we learned that Guillaume Blerot had brought his dog Charlie with him to confessional, Harry suddenly turned to me and did the unthinkable. He grasped my face with both hands and so slowly, with a torturous languidness, he brought my face to his.
That night… so many confessions were made; ones that I think shocked the both of us. Never before had I been cognizant that something so… perfect was possible not for me, but I was so thrilled to accept that maybe things were finally changing for the better as I was lulled into a deep sleep in his arms that night. Our bodies entwined and still sweaty, and I couldn't wipe the smile off my face if I even tried.
That perfection, though, the one that I’d doubted before, but been so ready to embrace that night… it reared it’s ugly head in the following morning as it showed it’s true face, breaking my heart. I woke to an empty bed and a letter… a letter that although a page long could be summed up in one sentence: he supposedly loved me, but I wasn’t enough for him to stay.
And he left, without a word to anyone, apparently having been planning it for a month already when he had given his notice to Moody. It’s been a year since then and I don’t know if my heart ever fully recovered from both the heartbreak of a lover and a best friend leaving.
Suddenly, I am pulled out of my reverie as he lightly tugs on my arm and I turn to look him in the eyes. “Can… can we go talk about this… outside, on the balcony?” he nervously asks me, nodding his heads towards he direction of the exit.
I relish the knowledge that he seems to be quaking in his very expensive looking dress shoes and pause for a second to amplify that fear a bit. Finally though, I nod my head in acquiescence and let him help me up out of my chair and push it in behind me.
When we finally walk out onto the veranda I instinctively hug myself in an almost defensive stance, as if that will actually do anything to save my heart. We stand there in silence and I can tell that he picks up on my move as he winces a bit with recognition and hurt over the fact that I am scared of him, of what he can do to me.
“I’m sorry, you know…”
I scoff. “For what—the screwing me or the screwing me over?” I ask bitterly, scowling.
He winces a bit at my choice of wording and it serves him right after doing what he did. “I… I made a mistake, I know, but—but I just never expected any of that to happen and when it did…”
“What? You regretted it?” I goad, tone mocking even if my heart is racing a thousand beats per second at the possibility of maybe finally being able to receive some closure and understanding as to why he did what he did. I listen with bate breath as he speaks, even if he doesn’t know it.
“No,” he immediately cuts in, shaking his head adamantly and resolutely. “Never that,” he whispers with a small smile that almost has me leaning forward towards him.
“Then what?” I push. I am Hermione Granger after all, I have to know… I have the right to know.
“It… I was supposed to leave, and that was supposed to be the end of it.”
My breath does hitch that time, but with hurt and heartbreak, all over again. I swallow thickly and I can see that he’s about to take what he said back, but before he can I stop him, saying: “well, guess what, Harry, it is.”
I practically run away then, ignoring the fact that some would call it the weak thing to do. I don’t give a flying fuck, as Ron would say, some things are just more important than propriety. I ignore his calls as I run out the doors, ignoring all of the looks I get and the twittering gossips that erupt as I storm past the wedding party. Ginny will get over it… well… no, she won’t, but I’ve learned to ignore her screeching by now anyway.
As soon as I am outside I let out the deepest breath imaginable, closing my eyes as I collapse against the door of a car sitting outside the entrance. My hand clasps my chest as I throw back my head, letting the tears flow.
I hear the crunch of approaching steps and curse myself for not having the strength to focus enough on a destination for apparating.
In a tone as calm as I can muster in this discombobulation I whisper: “just… give me a minute… please.”
I take his silence as his acceptance and continue to try to recollect myself—operative word being “try”.
Finally, I muster up enough energy to open my mouth, my voice hoarse and raw with emotion I say: “you broke my heart; you know that, don’t you?”
He ducks his head in… I don’t know what. He’s always been rather good at hiding his emotions when it suits his needs. I hate that about him—that he actually tries to block me at times when I never do… not with him. I guess it never was as reciprocal of a relationship as I had wanted to believe.
“it wasn’t supposed to happen…” he says and I question what the hell is wrong with me, why I’m masochistic enough to sit through this. “it wasn’t supposed to happen like that,” he repeats.”
“then how was it supposed to happen?”
“I don’t know,” he admits with a pathetic shrug as he runs a hand through his hair, tugging on the strands. “I just… all I know is that I wasn’t supposed to tell you. That night… Hermione, it… it meant the world to me.”
My head snaps up at that admission, most definitely not having been what I had expected to hear. “what?” I ask, unable to help but wonder if maybe he is mocking me…
“that night… Hermione,” he pushes forward, past all of my defenses, as he takes a step closer to me, almost touching my body with how close he is. “I’ve wanted to tell you how much I love you for a long time before that.”
“then why take it back?”
“leaving the morning after counts as taking it back,” I informatively cut him off.
He sighs and I want to slap him for it, he hasn’t earned the right to feel drained, not like I have. “I needed to leave, Hermione.”
“yeah, well… Harry, you also really hurt me when you did.”
“no,” I shook my head. “no you don’t because you didn’t have to deal with the fact that the bloke you had been in love with left you the morning after you admitted to your feelings. You didn’t have your heart crushed by the realization hat he just left without saying goodbye and had been planning it for over a month.”
He, thankfully, has the decency to flush with embarrassment at that moment; at least he isn’t proving to be a total disappointment. “Hermione… please, don’t think that—that night meant nothing to me, please.”
I scoff for the nth time that evening. “then what am I supposed to think, Harry?”
“I…” he stops, cutting himself off to take a noticeable swallow. “I wanted you for a long time, too long… but then… at that time, I really wasn’t in the right frame of mind.”
I roll my eyes. “you seemed plenty sane to me.”
“it’s… it’s not like that. You—you’re so special, Hermione, honestly! Then, though, I don’t know,” he sighs, shoulders sagging the slightest bit, but I, surprisingly, don’t say anything, choosing to wait, to listen, instead. “I just… after the war everything seemed to go wrong… the partying ended and then I was back to doing exactly what everyone else expected of me. I was working in the Auror Department, I was pushed back into a relationship with Ginny… it was—I just wasn’t happy.”
“then why not say anything? Why not change it?”
“I did… eleven months later I gave in my notice and planned to just… disappear for a while, be myself… be free. I just never counted on not wanting to leave when I had to.”
“you could have stayed,” I murmur defensively, hating that it was becoming increasingly harder to stay angry at him when his argument was semi-rational. “you could have contacted me… anything…” I offer, hating that undertone of desperation, but unable to hold it back. He always was beyond control for me… when it comes to him there simply is no limit, I suppose.
“no,” he shakes his head, tone almost remorseful. “you don’t get it, do you, love?”
“what is there to get, Harry? You left,” I bitterly point out.
He takes another step forward, I assume he’s decided that he’s bided his time long enough and is ready to take a chance, again. For some reason, I find myself ready to accept this chance.
He slowly brings up a hand and touched my face, so softly I barely feel it. He pushes a stray strand aside as he speaks, “you made me want to stay, Hermione… you made me want to forget it all, you had the power to make me forget it all.”
“and why is that so bad?” I cry out, feeling an all too familiar prickling in my eyes.
“because I couldn’t, Hermione… sooner or later I’d be restless again. I wanted… I’d always thought that… I don’t know, maybe it’s irrational, but I guess I figured that if or when you and I got together, that’d be it. I didn’t want to just muck it up.”
“but you did!” I scream, pushing him back. “you did, Harry!… you broke my heart… and my trust.”
He recoils the slightest bit at hearing that last admission there, but quickly composes himself. “Hermione… I love you and—and I can’t just give up. let me prove myself to you, please!”
I sigh, slouching against the car. “how? After everything how can we possibly move on as if it never happened?”
“I don’t want to though… I want to be better. I want us to be better than whatever we could have been then with this experience.”
“some things are just easier said than done though, don’t you think? I mean, Harry, I don’t know how I can go on to not resent you for this.”
“Hermione, I’m done with letting others dictate how I live my life. I want you, only you. We’re right, I know it,” he persists, moving towards me, again. This time, however, he surprises me by grasping my hand as soon as he’s near enough o clasp it within his own. He immediately pulls me against him, bringing both of our hands to his chest, just above his heart.
My breath hitches and I find myself practically gasping for air at the near proximity. One year later and he can still make my knees weak with the slightest stroke.
“you’re it for me, granger,” he grins wickedly and I hate how it gives my heart palpitations. “I know I’ve fucked up before, and I do regret my approach to it all, but I’m willing to do whatever I can to make up for it.”
“even if I don’t know when I can forgive you—how long it will take?”
He smiles. “even if I have to stay by your side begging for the rest of my life.”
I can’t help the small laugh that escapes me then. “don’t mock.”
“I’m not; I’m being perfectly honest here… at least I’d be with you.”
“now you just sound like a prat,” I dryly note as I let my head fall into the crook between his shoulder and neck, deeply inhaling his musky scent—reveling in it and, most importantly, our proximity. “I hate you fro the pain you put me through, I hope you realize.”
“I do,” he tightens his hold on my waist.
“and you are going to have to do some serious bitch work to make it up to me,” I inform him, letting a rare curse escape my lips for effect and just because… well, he’s Harry, he goes past and defenses I have, breaking them all down and making me forget everything.
“so long as I get a chance,” he whispers in my ear, and this time I let the shudder take over my body, enjoying it even.
Finally, I move back the slightest bit, just so I can look up and see his face. “just… don’t hurt me again, please.”
He nods slowly. “I promise,” he hoarsely whispers, watching me intently as I raise myself higher on my toes, just before I bring my lips to his.