Author's Note: To my beloved readers and reviewers of "Knife's Edge", I promise I am not abandoning that epic. More chapters to come soon. This was just a strange little one shot inspiration I had. It's not a song fic, but it was inspired by Damien Jurado's "Sheets" and Bon Iver's "Skinny Love". It's a little dark but hopefully something a bit different from what we've all gotten used to. Part I is told from the POV of Hermione's boyfriend, Lewis Cane. Part II shifts to Harry's POV. It's a weird narrative style, let me know what you think!
"Is he still coming around like an injured bird needing a nest?
A place to rest his head in a song you'll regret
Lord knows I don't want to compete
But I still sleep in the very sheets he's been in"
Lewis Cane was a practical man, an educated man, and, he liked to think, a compassionate man. Yet, when he thought of Harry James Potter it was with barely restrained thoughts of hatred. Lewis, in his infinite practicality, knew that this hatred was just an irrational emotion born of that which was the most petty of human emotions; jealousy.
After all, Harry Potter was a war hero; he had saved them all from the villainous Lord Voldemort ten years ago. And in those ten years, Harry had been subject to many rumors about the nature of his character. He had become a reclusive auror and some said he was as insane as the late Mad Eye Moody, while others said he was a hero shrouded in mystery. Regardless of the interpretation of Harry's quiet postwar lifestyle, all agreed upon one thing; he was a great wizard and a selfless hero.
Nobody believed this to be truer than Lewis Cane's girlfriend, Hermione Granger.
Of course, Hermione rarely spoke about Harry to Lewis, which was one of the things that most concerned Lewis. When he had started dating Hermione he had naturally been curious to hear about Harry Potter. He had refrained from asking her about her close friend on the first few dates, but then his curiosity got the best of him. There had been a curious expression on her face when Harry's name was mentioned out loud; a mixture of anxiety and adoration. Nevertheless, she politely obliged him in answering whatever questions he had. Later, he would lament not having asked the right questions about Harry Potter.
Lewis was eight years Hermione's senior and had been thrilled when she had accepted his proposal to join him for dinner. Just after the war he had gotten the opportunity to fill a position in Ancient Runes at Hogwarts and when he wasn't busy grading stacks of parchment or telling students off for running in the hallways, he had worked tirelessly on his research. He had finally published the research, and while its reception was not great (really, not many people had an appreciation for Ancient Runes), Hermione Granger had been one of the few people to appear at his lecture at Flourish and Blotts.
He had recognized her immediately as the gorgeous, exceedingly brilliant young lady who had helped defeat He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named. It was also common knowledge that she was rising through the ranks of the Department of Magical Law at a meteoric rate. He was flattered she had taken time out of what must be a busy schedule to attend his lecture, and even more flattered when she had come up to speak with him afterwards. He had tried not to appear anxious; after all, he was older and fairly esteemed in his field. Furthermore, he wasn't an unattractive man by any means; well groomed with short brown hair and a beard, and he kept fit with morning jogs. Overall, he had a scholarly sort of handsome appeal. But her intellect was so damned impressive, and there was also the fact that she was gorgeous, which made him feel very out of his depths.
Despite the fact that his palms were sweating and his heart was racing, their conversation had carried on to a cup of coffee and a day afterwards he had owled her an invitation to dinner which she had accepted, and the rest was, as they say, history. It had all been somewhat magical; their long conversations about all sorts of intellectual topics, their shared passion for fine dining and good wine, the Saturdays spent side-by-side in front of a warm fire, her reviewing legal briefs, him working on his next publication. He was falling madly in love and as he wasn't getting any younger he frequently pondered marriage to her.
And then he met Harry Potter for the first time.
They were roughly six months into their relationship when Lewis decided he would surprise Hermione by dropping by her flat in Diagon Alley with a spot of Saturday morning breakfast. The night before he had been assigned hall monitor duties and had sorely missed waking up with her beside him. Thus, he had gotten an early start (in spite of his late night) and had picked up her favorite chocolate croissants and a couple steaming hot cups of coffee. Knocking on her door he waited patiently, whistling happily to himself and looking forward to seeing her face.
But when the door opened it was not Hermione on the other side, but a very familiar set of green eyes that were matched with tousled black hair and a telltale lightning bolt scar. In his surprise Damon dropped the box of croissants he'd been holding, but with impossibly fast reflexes Harry caught them before they hit the floor and then gestured for the professor to come inside.
Lewis was going through a vast range of emotions as he entered Hermione's very neat flat. First there was the rush of excitement at meeting THE Harry Potter. Next there was the flood of embarrassment at the fact that he had been so clumsy and tongue-tied. Finally, there was the inescapable feeling of concern about the fact that he had discovered another bloke in his girl's flat.
"She's just finished showering up" Harry explained as Lewis laid the breakfast down on the island counter in her kitchen.
Harry moved to walk out of the room, but Lewis finally found his tongue. "It's nice to meet you Mr. Potter."
Harry turned for a moment and gave him an unreadable expression. "No it's not" Harry surmised and before Lewis could determine if it was a joke or not, Harry was gone. This left Lewis to his thoughts, which were very uncomfortable. What did Harry mean by that? What is he doing here at this hour? Why is she in the shower? He started inventing all sorts of torrid scenarios in his imagination. Harry Potter was no longer the scrawny teen he had been when his image was constantly pasted across the cover of the Daily Prophet. Even under the black tee he'd been wearing Lewis could see that Harry was rather muscular, his posture that of a man with confidence and his gait similar to an athlete's. Harry's physique was coupled with dark stubble that lined a square jaw and piercing eyes… Lewis fancied women but even he could see the appeal.
There was something else about those eyes Lewis mused. They looked haunted, terribly haunted.
"Lewis!" Hermione half squeaked, entering the kitchen fully clothed but her hair clearly dripping wet. "I had no idea you'd be stopping by!"
"I brought breakfast" he explained, gesturing lamely to the food in front of him.
"That was very sweet of you. Did you meet…"
"Harry Potter? Yes, I believe I recall something about The Boy Who Lived letting me in."
"Where did he go?" she asked, suddenly looking concerned.
"I don't know, he sort of just wandered over there" he gestured to the parlor and she briskly walked in that direction. This time Lewis followed, only to find an empty room.
"That bloody bastard!" she exclaimed, and Lewis jumped a bit. He had never heard her use such language. "He took off without so much as a goodbye!"
"What was he… what was he doing here?" Lewis asked, trying his hardest to phrase the question in a gentle way and avoid sounding like he was making an accusation.
"He comes around here every once in a while" she said, sinking into the sofa with a look of despair. "I rarely see him anymore-- he's always off on missions."
Lewis felt caught between a desire to console her and a desire to pry for more answers. He tentatively sat next to her on the couch and she didn't seem to notice, gazing into nothingness as she became lost in thought. When he couldn't take it any longer, he cleared his throat and she seemed to jump, as though she had forgotten he was there. "Why does he come here?"
"He's my best friend" she answered as though it were the most obvious thing in the world.
"Yes, yes of course. But Ronald Weasley is also his best friend correct? Does he also visit Ron and Luna?"
"No" she said promptly. "I mean, occasionally. But when he's back here, he stays with me."
Lewis felt a dropping sensation in his stomach. "Why?"
She looked at him now with those beautiful brown eyes he so loved. "It's the only home he has."
"You mean YOU are the only home he has."
"Same difference" she said and her tone was almost disinterested as she stood and stretched. "Shall we have breakfast?"
"Yes, but just a few more questions first if you don't mind" he gestured for her to sit back down and she did as he bid, maintaining eye contact as he proceeded to find out what he needed to know. "Are the two of you… what I mean to say is, have you ever… has there ever been anything romantic between you?"
"No" she said promptly and to his relief he could tell by the look in her eyes that she was telling the truth.
"Him staying over here, is it something I should be worried about?"
"No" she said, and once more he saw the truth.
"Are you in love with him?"
"No" she responded. But this time, he saw that she was lying.
What was there to do or say about the matter? He couldn't call her out for being a liar, and clearly she had told the truth about the fact that there was nothing happening between the two of them. Yet it stung to know that she was in love with another man, even if the other man didn't reciprocate her feelings. Nevertheless, Lewis knew he'd never want to compete with Harry Potter, the hero, the martyr, the cherished best friend. Lewis Cane was a smart man, and it only took him a few moments to assess that he had only one option if he wanted to stay with Hermione Granger. Accept that he would come second to Harry Potter.
"Let's get that breakfast now" he said, holding out his hand and offering a weak smile.
"Swallow him whole like a pill that makes you choke and stills your soul
You have the nerve to look me in the eyes and lie
Send him back
I'll share the trap that you have me in"
Lewis Cane hated Harry Potter, but what made it so very difficult was the fact that Harry Potter did not hate him back.
Several months passed after having his encounter with Harry, and Lewis was almost entirely able to forget his concerns. It wasn't until one pleasant afternoon when he was walking in the park with Hermione that the topic arose in an unexpected manner.
"I got word from Harry that he will be in town tonight. I wanted to let you know. I feel bad about how things happened last time."
"You did nothing wrong" Lewis shrugged, trying to sound calm as his heart pounded in his chest.
"I've never really explained my relationship with him to you and now that we've been together it seems only fair. First, I want you to know that the reason for the secrecy isn't because I don't trust you. It's because when it comes to my relationship with Harry, it's difficult to explain. After the war everyone had so many scars to deal with and tears to cry but Harry never dealt with any of it. He had lost nearly everything and everyone and yet he was so stoic; everyone else's shoulder to cry on. Only I saw through it, through this shield he had hidden behind. We'd always been close, but after the war… I was the only person he could be the least bit vulnerable around. We stayed at the Burrow for a few months after the war, and at midnight every night we would meet up and just sit there together. I tried to talk to him, but he never had much to say. It's like he simply wanted the comfort of being near someone who knew- who truly knew- what he was feeling inside."
"You became his home" Lewis deduced, remembering what she had told him months before.
"In a way yes… I helped him through something and one day he sort of disappeared and I guess he started running these missions all over the globe for Kingsley. When he came back though, it was me he'd come see. I know it's unorthodox and I wouldn't blame you for wanting out of this relationship, but I can't… I won't ever stop giving him what he needs."
And I'll still want whatever is left over Lewis realized, feeling half a fool. "I don't want to end things, I want to understand."
"We're going to dinner at Ron and Luna's place tonight, and I thought maybe if you wanted to come, it might be good to sort of smooth things over… I don't know." She seemed so tentative and uncharacteristically unsure of herself that he almost laughed. He agreed to go with her, and that was how he wound up standing at the door to the quaint Weasley cottage holding a platter of hors d'oeuvres.
He had met Ron and Luna several times at that point, and while they were both very kind to him he had sensed an undertone of reservation in welcoming him into their group of friends. Unlike Hermione and Harry, Ron Weasley had wasted no time in building a family and already had two young children with a third on it's way. It was Ron himself who answered the door and with a polite smile he thanked Lewis for his contribution and took the platter of hors d'oeuvres off his hands to add to the smorgasbord that Luna had already laid out in the dining room.
"So um… how's work?" Ron asked in an obvious attempt to make small talk.
"Oh you know, same old, same old. How's the joke shop?"
"Good thanks" Ron responded, looking clearly relieved when Hermione entered the room, greeting her boyfriend with a quick hug and peck on the cheek. Ron rapidly excused himself, muttering something about a turkey in the oven.
"Harry was waiting for you, he's out back" Hermione told Lewis, guiding him towards the small porch on the back of the cottage. Lewis suddenly felt very anxious, as though he was somehow being lead to the slaughter, but he walked along easily, trying not to let his nerves show.
Hermione half shoved him out the back door and when he asked why she wasn't joining them she also muttered something about a turkey in the oven. Thus Lewis was left standing under the dim light of a lantern, his eyes slowly adjusting to the darkness of night. Eventually he made out Harry's shape, casually slumped against the porch's bannister. After a moment of awkward silence Harry turned towards Lewis, stepping under the light with a faint smile on his chiseled features. He extended his hand and Lewis accepted the firm handshake.
"Lewis right?" Harry asked, sipping from a whiskey glass.
"Yes, that's right."
"I'm sorry if I was rude last time I met you. I had just gotten back from traveling and I was a bit knackered. Not that it's much of an excuse, Hermione speaks so highly of you and I should have been more welcoming." Hearing that Hermione spoke highly of him made Lewis perk up a bit. "Anyways, can I offer you a drink of whiskey as way of apology?"
"No, that's quite alright, thank-you though."
"Not a whiskey drinker eh?" Harry replied with a playful grin that made his boyish charm even more apparent. "Let me guess, you're more of a wine guy."
"How'd you know?" Lewis laughed.
"You're dating Hermione and she loves wine so I used my powers of deduction to surmise you might have that in common. I don't know if anyone has ever told you, but I'm something of a detective."
Lewis laughed and started to feel more at ease with this international man of mystery. Nevertheless, he couldn't help but hear that nagging voice in the back of his mind that kept reminding him that his girlfriend was in love with this man. It was that nagging voice that kept Lewis from liking Harry in spite of his charisma. It was that voice that made Lewis desperately want to find some flaw in Harry Potter. It was easier when I still thought he was rude Lewis realized.
"Are you a fan of wine Mr. Potter?"
"Just call me Harry. And not really. Although, I have been known to accept a healthy pour or two of Frederic Magnien Bourgogne Pinot Noir. But that's probably just Hermione's taste rubbing off on me."
"I've noticed she has a taste for French pinot noirs" Lewis replied, trying not to reveal how impressed he was by Harry's immaculate French pronunciation. He also didn't want to reveal that it was only at this very moment that he realized Hermione had an affinity for that particular vital.
Harry suddenly became very interested in the bottom of his glass, the cheerful front he had been displaying replaced by a pensive intensity. When he looked up again that lost, haunted look that Lewis had seen that morning at the flat was once more in his green eyes. "Listen Lewis, the thing is, I'm glad that Hermione has someone. You seem like a bloke who really has it all together and she deserves that. She deserves… well, anyways, what I'm trying to say is I'm sorry if we got off on a bad foot. I want to say that I'm glad she met you and wish you both the best together."
Lewis would have thought that such words would make him feel happier and more confident in his relationship with Hermione. Yet somehow they seemed to hit him in the gut like he had been sucker punched and there was strange sinking feeling inside of him as though he had just swallowed a stone. Nevertheless he found a way to smile and the words "thank-you" formed on his lips.
Just in that moment Luna came to the door, calling them to dinner, one child on her hip, one by her leg and another in her belly. Dinner was a jovial affair and it was clear that Ron's eldest, a four year old named Kiera was quite thrilled to have Uncle Harry and Aunt Hermione present for dinner. Despite the laughter, good food and abundant wine, Lewis could not untwist the knot that had formed itself in his stomach. Ron, Luna, Hermione and Harry talked with the ease of old friends but did not digress into stories of the "old days", instead trying to find ways to keep Lewis in on the conversation. Despite this kindness, Lewis couldn't help but notice how in tune they all were with each other, Luna handing Harry the gravy before he even asked for it, or Ron wordlessly taking the wine bottle from Hermione to uncork it for her. Lewis suddenly had the feeling that he was a stranger standing outside a glass pane and observing the private on goings of a happy family.
All of this would have been discomforting enough, but the worst of it all was when Harry and Hermione's gaze would meet. It was rare, which made him eventually realizing that they were avoiding looking at each other. Yet when their gaze did meet something fiery seemed to ignite there, like 1,000 unsaid things colliding with each other and threatening to explode.
I'm imagining things Lewis kept telling himself, and before long dinner and dessert were cleared and Ron was tucking the children into bed with the help of Harry while Lewis tried to help Hermione and Luna with clean up. Once he realized the two girls had it quite under control he excused himself to go use the loo. As he passed the steps leading to the upstairs bedrooms, he heard hurried whispers coming from upstairs. Lewis paused, unable to stop himself from eavesdropping.
"I'm not saying he's a bad bloke. He seems like a nice guy, but Harry, he's not you."
"You need to get over thinking Hermione and I have something romantic between us. You've been going on about this since the bloody horcrux hunt."
"Yes, because I was right then and I'm right now! Listen mate, I'm long over Hermione if that's what you're worried about."
Laughter followed these words. "Listen Ron, I know that now that you're married and have kids you want me to find a ball and chain but it isn't going to be Hermione. She's happy, don't you want that for her?"
"Of course I do, but it's not the sort of happy she is when she's with you."
"She's never happy when she's with me. All I am is a weight around her neck dragging her down. If I was really a good friend I would have disappeared years ago and let her get on with her life. I depend on her too much."
"That's not true! You think I don't know about your midnight meet ups at the Burrow? I came down one night and found her fast asleep on your shoulder. It was clear you had tucked her in and you didn't see me but you were wide-awake, just letting her sleep there against you. At first I was jealous, but then I realized you were in love with her in a way I couldn't even contemplate yet. She depends on you too, and if you would stop running off on these suicide missions…"
"Enough." The final word was a firm one carrying a tone that rang with an unspoken threat. A moment later footsteps were coming down the stairs and Lewis quickly ducked into the loo.
As Lewis Cane looked at his reflection in the mirror he realized he hated Harry Potter for yet another reason; Hermione Granger needed him. There was a part of her that only Harry could touch, and it would always be that way.
When he came out of the loo the leftovers had been neatly packed away and he gathered his things to head out, thanking Ron and Luna for a lovely time. Luna indicated that Harry and Hermione had just stepped outside, so he headed that way. When he opened the door it was with a feeling of trepidation regarding what he might find on the other side. Slowly he cracked the door, listening to the stillness of the night on the other side. Hesitantly he paused, and a moment later two voices could be heard conversing. Once more he was eavesdropping.
"It was wonderful seeing you tonight. It's been so long since we've all been able to do dinner together."
"I'm afraid that's my fault. Work has been busy."
"And here I thought you were avoiding me. I have a bottle of Frederic Magnien Bourgogne Pinot Noir back at the house if you'd like to come uncork it."
"Ah, thank-you but I need to get to bed early. I promised Kiera I would take her and Teddy to the zoo tomorrow."
"So, you're not staying then?"
"No, I wouldn't want to impose."
"You know you're always welcome."
"I know, and I appreciate that. I'm going to crash on Ron and Luna's sofa for tonight though."
"You don't have to be like this."
"Like what? What are you talking about?"
"You're just… oh, nevermind! I guess I'll see you the next time you feel like coming by."
"Are you still having the nightmares?"
"Really? They just stopped?"
"I find that unlikely after so many years, but I'm glad to hear it. Unless it mean that you've been…"
"I need to go. I'm going to see if Lewis is ready."
Taking that as his cue Lewis stepped outside, trying to act casual. Harry and Hermione were barely illuminated by the silver moonlight, and standing there they looked more like ghosts to him than actual people. Lewis only slept at Hermione's flat a couple nights out of the month as he spent most nights in his quarters at Hogwarts correcting papers or working on his latest research or performing other professor responsibilities. Nevertheless, he had never witnessed any of these nightmares that Harry referred to. Of course she would have nightmares. While I was off studying runes in Egypt she was a teenaged girl facing an army of darkness alone.
Except she wasn't alone he realized after a beat. She'd had Ron and Harry. Hermione had said that she was the only home Harry had left, but it was only now that Lewis realized that Harry was her home as well. Hermione had never spoken of the war and Lewis had never pushed it. It was much easier to talk about ancient philosophy or the perfect food and wine pairing than it was to broach a topic so deep and difficult. Truth was, he was afraid to hear what horrors she might share and that he might realize that his perfect girlfriend, this goddess of an individual, might be deeply scarred. Truth was, Lewis Cane was a coward.
Once they apparated back to her flat she announced that she was going to head to bed, and he nearly let her go without another word. It's best to sleep on it he told himself, wishing for nothing more than to crawl into her bed and sleep with the warm comfort of her by his side. But he had heard and witnessed so much that night that he knew sleep would not come so he decided to stop being a coward and start asking the hard questions. He waited for her as she cleaned up in the bathroom, perched anxiously on the edge of her bed like a bird caught between rest and flight. When she finally came out she was dressed in nothing but a soft faded tee-shirt, her hair falling around her shoulders in soft waves. She looked so lovely that once more he nearly changed his mind and backed out of transmitting the words that rested on his now dry lips. It would be so much easier to forget about it all and to just kiss her goodnight. Tomorrow they could go for a walk in the park and chat about work and he could go forward with the plan he had made days before; the plan to ask her to be his wife.
All this seemed tempting in his mind, but the logical, rational part of him that made Lewis Cane Lewis Cane knew that it would not be so simple. He would always remember that one lie she had told him when he'd asked if she was in love with Harry Potter. He'd always live with the knowledge that she would need another man more than she needed him and that deep down she had buried secrets so terrible that just hearing about them might put a cold fear into his soul. It would be impossible to live that way he realized, and so he asked her the question that for nearly a year he had been too scared to ask.
"Why don't you ever talk about the war?"
This question seemed to catch her off guard and her cinnamon brown eyes widened for a moment in surprise before she tore her gaze away from him, suddenly interested in rearranging a stack of books at her bedside. "It's hardly a pleasant subject. As you know we won, but the cost was far too high."
"You can talk to me about it you know."
She looked at him once more, tilting her head to the side in a pensive expression that he usually adored. Right now her expression did not carry the same adorable charisma it usually did. It felt like he was being studied under a lens. "I don't want you to know about it. That's one of the things I like about you; you don't know about that part of my life. Our relationship is like having a fresh start. I can be normal. We can have a normal relationship."
Her words were meant to be honest and perhaps even kind, but his mind had a whole different interpretation of what was being said to him. In his mind, all he heard was, you will never fully know me, a large part of who I am will forever be a secret to you and what we have is comfortable, but unexceptional. Normal. "But, it can't be healthy to keep all that pent inside" he wagered, trying not to reveal his inner franticness.
"That's what I have Harry for. And Ron and Luna." She added the last two names as an afterthought and Lewis somehow doubted she ever talked to Ron and Luna about the war. That's the real reason she needs Harry Lewis surmised. They're only open with each other. They only really trust each other.
"Can there really be trust in a relationship if you keep so much of yourself hidden?" Lewis asked, the words pouring unconsciously from his mouth. Lewis was normally a careful man, one who put thought into each word and deliberation into each action. Yet now he felt that he was floating, and that caution was no longer something he could afford.
She looked stricken but responded anyways, her tone terse. "Lewis, trust me when I say you don't want to know about these things."
"You don't think I can handle it?"
"I wouldn't want to put that burden on you!" Tears were welling up in her eyes now and he felt sorry that he made her cry, but he too was tearing up and it was too late to take it all back. "Sure, you know what you read about when it comes to the war and my actions in it. But you don't know that I erased my parents memory of me and they're never quite forgiven me for it. You don't know that I had to hurt people and that I was hurt in turn. You don't know that I spent sleepless nights wondering if it was my last, or who would die next, or how much longer we had until Harry would decide to sacrifice himself. You don't know what it was like seeing Hagrid carry Harry's limp body and have every ounce of hope go out of me. You don't know how I felt as I saw the dead bodies of people who were my friends; Fred Weasley, Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks… And I can tell you all of this, but until you hear the bloody, gory details you'll never really KNOW. And I don't want you to know. I don't want you to live with the same nightmares I have."
"I've never seen you have a nightmares" Lewis said, shaking from all she had just told him. She didn't respond to this, simply looking away as a lone tear trickled down her cheek, leaving a glistening path in its descent. He took in a long breath and wiped his eyes. "Thank-you."
"For not telling me about the war. You're right- it would give me nightmares. I love you Hermione but… I don't think I can do this. There's the woman I love, and then there's this other side of you. That side of you is strong, courageous and noble but also dark and secretive. I can't just love one part of you and ignore the other. It wouldn't be fair to either of us… it would be half life."
"Lewis, don't" she plead, moving closer to him now but not so close that she touched him. He stood up and reached into his pocket, retracting a small square box he had been concealing there. He placed it on her bedside table and gave her one final kiss on the cheek. When he left she didn't say anything. She simply stood there, shaking slightly as she cried, looking down at the small box on her bedside table.
"Is he still coming around like an injured bird needing a nest?
A place to rest his head in a song you'll regret
Lord knows I don't want to compete
But I still sleep in the very sheets he's been in"
"Come on skinny love just last the year
Pour a little salt, we were never here
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Staring at the sink of blood and crushed veneer"
Harry had been quite surprised when Ron had found him standing on the back porch nursing a nightcap and musing over all his mistakes and flaws. He had thought Ron had gone to bed, and so when he found his best mate standing there in his pajamas, his hair a mess, he wasn't sure what was going on. All Ron said was, "you need to go to Hermione's flat."
"Why, what's wrong?" Harry asked, instantly feeling his heart seize with panic. What if she's hurt? What if someone decided to go after her? What if…
"Lewis just got a hold of me through the floo. I guess he broke things off with her and he thought she could use a friend. He was worried that she might be too stubborn to reach out to us…"
"Why doesn't Luna go?" Harry asked, hiding his reaction in a slurp of whiskey. Truth be told, he wasn't sure what to feel, it was a mixture of concern for Hermione, empathetic sadness and slight relief. Selfish prick he scolded himself.
"Listen mate, you can go on pretending you don't know what this is about but it's getting really quite idiotic. He didn't have to tell me. He broke it off because of how she feels about you and how you feel about her. Why do the two of you have to keep running around it? You've been denying it since we were kids and I just don't get it. Usually, when a bloke likes a girl and she likes him back they go on a date and maybe have a snog and start shagging and then get married and have babies. Why is it that with you two it's all this mystery and angst?"
Harry groaned and drained the remnants of his glass. "She doesn't feel that way about me. Earlier you mentioned how her and I used to meet up at midnight right? Well, it wasn't because I was doing her some service, it was because she saw through the wall I built up. She knew that inside I was a bloody mess and so she sought me out and broke that wall down in the privacy of the night. She let me pour all my pain out on her, and she's a saint for doing that, but it's never been fair to her. That's more than any friend should have to do for another."
To Harry's great surprise, Ron laughed out loud. "That's because she doesn't just see you as a friend! Are you really that daft? Since she was twelve been putting herself on the line for you in ways that even I couldn't. Do you really think that someone who was just a friend would do that?"
Harry swallowed hard. It wasn't that he was daft. At least, he wasn't entirely daft. He had wondered in the past if his best female friend might care about him beyond the confines of normal friendship. He simply didn't want to accept it. Everyone close to him died, and after the war he had made a promise to himself to put as much distance as he could between him and those friends he had left standing. Of course, that had been easier said than done. "I can't be her shoulder to cry on" Harry insisted. "Send Luna or see if Ginny is around."
Harry tried to walk past Ron back into the house, but Ron stepped in his way, blocking the door. Harry sized Ron up with a look that said "do you really want to do this?" but Ron had a resolute, stubborn expression on his face that Harry recognized all too well. "If you don't go over there now you will spend the rest of your life regretting it."
Harry took a step back and with a sigh of exasperation he apparated away with a loud pop, leaving Ron alone to ponder the miraculous melodrama that was his best mate's life.
"Tell my love to wreck it all
Cut out all the ropes and let me fall
My, my, my, my, my, my, my, my
Right in this moment this order's tall"
When Harry entered Hermione's flat it was entirely dark except for a small sliver of light emanating from the crack beneath the bathroom door. It was upon this door that he knocked tentatively. There was no response. "Hermione?" There was a small shuffle inside and then the unmistakable click of a lock on the other side. "You know I can just use alohomora that open."
"Go away Harry" she said, her voice sounding terribly tired.
He slid down the wall until he was sitting on the other side, his forehead pressed against the frame. "I'm not leaving."
"Don't you have some fires to put out or some evil to vanquish?"
He knew this was her way of accusing him of not being around for her. It hurt, but it was fair. He had purposely buried himself in his work as a way to avoid her. He had run off to every corner of the world to escape the truth of the matter; he loved her, desperately and entirely. He wasn't even sure how to exist without her, but he had been so determined to try. "I'm sorry about what happened with Lewis."
"Yes. I hope that you realize despite all my flaws I do want you to be happy. It seemed like he made you happy."
There was a long pause. "Yes, a part of me was happy. The part of me that just wanted to be a normal witch with a career and plans to get married and start a family and do that whole domestic thing."
"What about the other part of you?"
"That part of me still has too many nightmares."
He stood up quickly and had the door unlocked with a quick flick of his wand. He was inside the bathroom before she could even move from her seated position on the floor and he opened her medicine cabinet, quickly finding what he was looking for. He grabbed the small potions bottle and held it out in front of her. "I knew you were full of it when you said the nightmares had just stopped. I can't believe you'd use this stuff, knowing what it nearly did to me."
She stood and tried to grab it from his hand but he was quicker and he moved it away from her grasp so that she stumbled into him. He caught her and for a moment everything just stopped as he held her and she buried her face in this chest. "The dreamless sleep potion isn't dangerous if you only use it occasionally" she said after a while, not moving away from him.
He could feel the damp warmth of her tears seeping through his shirt and his momentary anger vanished. "Yes, but it's addictive. I know the nightmares are terrible, but not having them can make you lose your mind. I nearly lost mine after the war when I became addicted to it. You were the one who saved me, and I don't want the same thing to happen to you. Your mind is too brilliant to be lost."
It was in this moment that she kissed him. It wasn't a hesitant, tender kiss like he'd imagined in his dreams. It was hungry and aggressive. It spoke of urgency and a burning need. It spoke of repressed passion.
It took him a moment to properly reciprocate but he quickly matched her passion, lifting her easily onto the sink and in the process realizing that she was only wearing a worn tee-shirt and her underwear. He pulled back for a moment as though to ask for her permission to continue a game that she had invented, and in that moment realized that the shirt she was wearing was an old practice jersey of his from Hogwarts. This only increased his ardor and he kissed her once more, one hand on her hip and the other woven in her hair as she wrapped her legs around him.
There was no awkwardness as he carried his best friend into the adjoining bedroom and half threw her onto the bed. In truth, this moment had always just been a heartbeat away and both of them were quite conscious of that fact. As he removed his shirt and she undid his buckle he knew that the only thing that had kept them from this moment for so long was a denial of truth. The truth was simply that they would never be normal. They would always need each other.
As Harry slid beneath the sheets he was overwhelmed with the warmth of her body, the softness of her touch and the inescapable reality of the moment. As he looked into her eyes and saw the love that burned there he had no regrets; only one admittance.
Harry Potter was a brave man, a man who had faced down every manner of danger, and, he liked to think, a selfless man. Yet, when he thought of Lewis Cane it was with a deep sense of gratitude. Harry, despite his infinite stupidity, had to admit that it took a total stranger for him to realize that which was the most powerful of all human emotions; love.Document created with wvWare/wvWare version 1.2.7