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Zephyr by Equilibrium
Chapter 1 : Zephyr
 
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Zephyr
Like a warm summer breeze, he was gone.
&&&

She kissed him.

There was, as always, the one moment of weightlessness that comes with the action of kissing someone you know you feel for. Her heart throbbed against her chest pleasantly. She could feel that he had felt it too. The pressure of his lips against her own was so real and undeniable that all she could think of at that moment was how close he was to and how happy she was.

Then came the endless regret. She knew he was pulling away as soon and she slipped and smiled against his mouth. She could feel his cheeks tighten under her palms and she fought to hold on for one more second, just as her fingers went limp and fell away. He pulled away just like she knew, deep down, he would. It was just too wrong to kiss your friend like that. He was never the sort to allow such things.

When she allowed herself to look him in the eyes the effect was immediate. Her soaring emotions crashed into the sea. It was dark and thick and she couldn't breathe, and her face was wet already with the salty tears. His eyes were wide and glinting with curiosity and what could have been anger, but she couldn't let herself think that. She cared for him too deeply.

They had been best friends since their first Halloween at Hogwarts. He had been the hero saving the damsel from the troll in the girl's bathroom. It couldn't have been less romantic at the time though. Between the snot, the toilets, and Ron being there, there had been no chance at all for it. In fact, every time he had saved her (which had been quite a lot, in hindsight), something had always stopped her from feeling anything remotly romantic for him.

It had started, instead, when Ron had left them, running off and leaving them both to face Voldemort themselves. He knew how she felt before she could even accept it herself, she supposed. "You choose him." That's what he had said to her last, before he disappeared with a 'pop' and left her with nothing but herself and her best friend.

She was sure it had been those words that struck her more than anything. When he had said it, all she could think was "No, no, you're wrong!" over and over again. She wanted to love Ron then, perhaps because her stomach was empty and she was delusional, or perhaps because she wanted to love something and he was the most convinient and admittably the most dramatic thing around. But as her crazed sobbing settled, she found she had never wanted to cry at all.

Ron had left and she cried because she had been under the impression that he had carried off with her heart as well. The only problem with that theory, however, was that her heart was perfectly whole and in place. She didn't feel any anche in her chest. She didn't even particularly want him back. She just wanted to carry on for Harry.

Though she had been half-blind with tears for what her mind claimed was an eternity but her heart told her was a ridicuously long two days, she had seen how her emotions had jostled Harry and thrown him deeper into the ever-present depression he wallowed it. She felt guilty for it, even a tad surprised. She felt horrible for making it seem like her heart was in a bloody pulp on the ground when in fact she was perfectly whole.

When she settled, she resigned herself to think. And that... led to the next thing.

His eyes still stared into hers as she slipped off into her explanation for how the hell she let herself fall and kiss him - despite the overwhelming logic that told her it was a Bad Idea. Focusing in on his emerald eyes that had been there all along made her shiver under his glare. She quaked and sweated there as he stared. Why wouldn't he move? Was she so ugly to him that he turned to stone? Her hair, in her opinion, was a decent match for Medusa. She stared back as she abused herself. Why wouldn't he move?

"Er... sorry," she mumbled, twisting her head so that she was stifling her words with her jumper and coat. She heard a rustle and allowed her eyes to snap back to him. He still hadn't moved - it had only been the leaves, or an animal. She was almost happy that it hadn't been him walking away, though if he had she would have been able to breathe again. She shallowed. He had to move. "Harry?"

"Hermione."

"Please say something more than that."

"What do you want me to say?"

She didn't know what to say to that, and for her that was a very bad thing. "Please..."

"Why?"

Shrugging seemed vaguely inappropriate when they were standing out in the cold, alone, chest to chest, and talking stiffly to each other as if they had just met. She resigned herself to shaking her head, thinking of no words for her irrationality. She should not have kissed him, never.

"Did you mean that?" he whispered to her. Finally, he had broken that horribly formal, stiff tone he had been relying on.

What could she say? "Yes... I meant it." Her voice was defeated, and she hung her head so he couldn't see how the tears had started to well again. He would hate her for this, she was sure. How, she didn't know, but she couldn't imagine any other outcome but that. That is, until she felt the rough pads of his fingers tuck a tendril of frizzy curls behind her ear.

She looked up in astonishment. He was softly smiling at her. She felt the warmth spread trough her hands and feet, her arms and legs, her chest and her cheeks. "Harry..."

"'Mione."

She blinked and her eyes met an unfamiliar brightness. Squinting into the light, she dizzily realized that there were no glasses, no rumpled black hair, and no green eyes smiling down at her. All she saw was red hair, brown eyes, and old dress robes. She looked down at herself. A wedding gown and a wedding band resting on her milky-white finger. There were pink rose petals beneath her feet. In a flash, her skin turned hot and clammy. Like a comforting, warm summer breeze, he was gone from her vision.

She looked out into the mass of the people she loved, watching her with smiles. Harry was grinning the widest, happy for his friend's marriage. Ginny sat, hand folded in his, winking at Hermione as her heart shattered.

This had never been the reality she had chosen.

&&&

Author's Note: Just a sad little one shot I wrote when I was feeling particularly moody. I hope you liked it.




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