Author: atruwriter PM
AU: She appeared in his sanctuary with no name, no direction, and the suggestion of time-travel and soulmates warming the air. He couldn't wait to solve the puzzle before him. :James/Hermione:Rated: Fiction M - English - Romance/Humor - Hermione G. & James P. - Chapters: 2 - Words: 8,078 - Reviews: 157 - Favs: 228 - Follows: 295 - Updated: 01-29-09 - Published: 01-07-09 - id: 4776802
|A+ A- Full 3/4 1/2 Expand Tighten|
Title: Hourglass Hearts
Music: Vision of Love - Mariah Carey
Warning(s): Sexual Content, Strong Language, MWPP Era, Time-Turner, non-Canon-compliant
Summary: (AU) She appeared in his sanctuary with no name, no direction, and the suggestion of time-travel and soulmates warming the air. He couldn't wait to solve the puzzle before him.
Two months and he swore he still wasn't anywhere near breaking through the enigma that was the stranger who lived in his house and commanded all of his attention. Each morning, he woke up at the crack of dawn to find her already sitting in the armchair, a cup of tea steaming next to her and a large book from his family library in her lap. How the girl could read that much, he had no idea. But he was fairly certain he might be making a stop at a bookstore soon as he was running out. He was being strangely accommodating to her every need and while he had some inkling as to why, he was fairly sure he was just blinded by her entirely.
So her hair hadn't been upset by the strange change of weather at all but actually was a rather large mess of bushy brown hair. And oddly, he actually really liked it. It suit her; she was passionate and outspoken and it seemed her hair followed those traits well. Sometimes, he rather enjoyed picking a senseless argument with her just for the sake of seeing her bristle.
"James, where's the cream? There was a full one just yesterday..."
"I had the guys over; we were thirsty," he replied, grinning to himself.
"Next time you get thirsty, you ought to try buying a new one so those of us who have to suffer through men's night don't have to go through dehydration the next day!" she declared, annoyed.
Actually, he had bought a new carton; it was in the bag next to his foot. But he loved it when she began ranting; muttering to herself and slamming cupboards. It brought an eerie sense of hominess to the house.
"And another thing..." she called out in that frustrated tone of hers.
He'd bring the carton of cream out in an hour or so, after he went for a walk in the woods and gathered up some wildflowers, half of which would probably be weeds. And then he'd bring them back to her and the frown would disappear, replaced with a soft smile. She'd peck his cheek, put the flowers in a vase and make them both a cuppa; all would be forgiven. Until, of course, he drove her nutters again.
While they'd grown quite close, she still remained quiet about what might've brought her to him. The first week had been a little like walking on egg shells. He couldn't ask too many questions or she might suggest leaving and he didn't want to ask too little, or she might get suspicious or possibly begin feeling unwelcome. So he treated her like a long-lost houseguest that he enjoyed flirting with on a regular basis and doing his best to woo in every sense of the word. She continued to roll her eyes at his antics but he was fairly sure he was beginning to rub off on her.
She'd been wearing her dress for three days straight when he decided it was time he stepped in. "You ever been to Muggle London?" he asked her, interrupting her glued focus on the book before her.
She closed it partly, thumb between the pages to keep her place as she looked up at him curiously. "Yes..."
"Great. So you won't be completely out of place then," he said cheerfully.
"Out of place?" Her brow furrowed skeptically.
"Come on, I want you to meet someone." Taking her hand, he drew her up from her seat quickly. She had to toss her book back to the armchair before following him to the fireplace.
"I thought the Floo was blocked..."
"Er, yeah, but... Sometimes it lets you travel small distances." He grinned crookedly. "I hope that's the case today otherwise we'll be trekking through snow until we're outside my apparating wards."
She didn't look entirely convinced, but she waited none-the-less. He stepped inside, drawing her along with him and then tossed the powder down heavily. "Black Boarding House."
Her brows furrowed but she made no comment and in a whirl that had them tilting and twirling, they arrived inside his best friend's fireplace.
"James, my love, I've told you before you should only come by when the missus is out!" Sirius exclaimed, smirking.
Snorting, the ever-beautiful Lily Black stepped forward. "As if I hadn't noticed your little love affair. It's only been going on since first year." She rolled her eyes with amusement.
"Yeah well, looks like he traded me in for someone a little more feminine."
"I'm hoping she's more than a little feminine compared to you," James replied, grinning. As he stepped out, he kept hold of her hand and immediately walked toward Lily. "Up for some shopping, Lils? This one's been wearing the same dress for so long it's a second skin."
"I beg your pardon?" both Lily and his mysterious soulmate remarked, frowning.
Looking back and forth between the two, he chuckled. "You'll get along famously," he declared. Pulling out a brown sac from his pocket, he lifted the woman's hand and dropped it inside. "Here. Buy whatever you want. Complain until my ears bleed but in the end, you're getting something new to wear."
Slack-jawed, she stared at him with wide-eyes. "I can't just go out and spend all your money. You barely know me." She shook her head. "That's it. We're skipping shopping and going right to St. Mungo's. It's clear now that I really did knock the sense right out of you!"
"That'd be true if he had any sense to begin with," Lily interjected.
"See, you're practically best mates already. So let's forget all this hospital business and get on with the frilly girly shopping thing. I'd go and Merlin knows I wouldn't complain in seeing you try on every little slip of clothing you found," he winked charmingly, "But I figured introducing you to my friends had to happen sometimes. And Lily here's a woman, or so Sirius tells me..."
Sirius' barking laughter reached over the couch. "Only the best woman out there."
"Flattery will not help any of you," Lily said, crossing her arms. "For heaven's sake, James, you haven't even really introduced us."
"I did, too. She knows your name, she has the money, so off you go..." He waved toward the fireplace.
"Yes, but... Oh, nevermind." Turning, Lily smiled at the young woman. "Nice to meet you, I'm Lily Black, which is unfortunate on a regular basis. You'll grow to understand my meaning."
James shook his head. "I've spent three days with her and I never got a name out of her, so what makes you think-"
"Hermione..." the woman interrupted, glancing at James for a just a moment. "And judging by the three days I've spent with James and hearing about all of you, I have a feeling I know what you mean by unfortunate. I'm sure that given time, if this one got to know me better, he wouldn't hesitate to prank me as well."
"You wound me with your lies," James muttered dramatically.
Both Lily and Hermione rolled their eyes.
"Right, so off you go now. Names were given, introductions made, money in your pockets. Spend, spend, spend!"
"How very rude of you, James," Lily sighed before circling him and hooking her arm with Hermione's. "I think it'd be in our best interest to leave anyway. Before they start acting like rowdy little boys with no manners. And before you interrupt to tell him you won't spend his money, think logically. From what I've heard you're a long way from home and you're staying with him... So take hospitality when it's handed to you. There'll always be time to repay it later." She nodded, smiling.
Hermione grinned. "All right... You've made a sound argument. Let's go."
"Wait, that's all it took? I was waiting for shouting and chest poking and that frown of yours..." He imitated it for her, happy when she showed him its exact structure with one of her own. "Yes, that one!"
"We'll be back later," Lily told him. "Try to keep the house in order."
"Oh, that reminds me. This is a boarding house?" Hermione asked curiously.
"Oh yes, for young witches and wizards to stay when they have nowhere else and no money to keep them stable."
Hermione cast a look over at James. "Well then why am I-"
"Off we go," Lily interrupted, throwing down the powder.
"That was close, mate," Sirius said, stretching his arms above his head. "Bit of a nutter move to bring her here, don't you think?"
Shrugging, James sat down. "Guess I was thinking of taking care of her rather than keeping her to myself..."
Sirius lifted a brow. "You might just be setting yourself up for some serious heartbreak, mate."
Sighing, he slumped into a chair. "Trust me, I know..."
Hours later, the girls returned with the air of true best mates hanging all around them as their laughter rang all around. Stepping out of the fireplace, both of them had their arms full of bags and they walked right past the two men without so much as a nod before they hurried upstairs to continue whatever it was girls did after shopping.
Sirius gave him a look and then grinned. "'Nother game'a chess then?"
James sighed. He knew he'd probably lose, but if Hermione was having a good time, he wasn't going to interrupt.
She was much less cautious around him after that. She seemed to lighten up a bit and didn't bring up the fact that there was a perfectly suitable place for her at Black Boarding House rather than taking up room in his place. She did make regular trips and floo calls to Lily, but she stayed with him for reasons he still couldn't understand. However, her knowledge of Black Boarding had him on edge. He was worried now that any poking and prodding he might do for the truth would end with her leaving him. And while his curiosity was known for getting him into trouble, he wasn't sure he was willing to lose her for it. Sirius called him ridiculous; he seemed to be hooves over antlers for the girl already and really, what did he know about her. So, to solve that, he decided a couple questions a night might solve the problem.
"What's your favorite color?" he asked as she read a book across him, thoroughly absorbed with Potions and Products for the Purposeful.
"I rather prefer red," she replied absently before turning the page, never lifting her eyes. "And yours?
He grinned. "Brown."
Her brow lifted and she looked up at him. "Brown? I'd have never thought..."
"It encompasses all my favorite things. My broom, your hair and your eyes."
She rolled those beautiful brown eyes of hers and tried to frown, but he swore he saw a smile at the edge of her lips before she lifted her book to cover her face. He felt triumph well in his chest just a little.
"Hogw-" She cleared her throat. "I don't have one... I suppose I love too many books to choose just one."
His eyes narrowed. What had she just been about to say? "Right... Well mine's Quirky Quidditch for the Quick..."
Her book lowered to her lap as she stared at him, confused. "What is quirky about Quidditch?"
He smirked. "You should see some of the moves the book shows you... They're ridiculously fun!"
Her lips pursed. "I'd rather not watch you fly around in absurd movements that could very well lead to injury or death."
With a laugh, he shook his head. "Is that your way of telling me you love me dearly and wish no harm to come to my handsome form?" He batted his eyes at her playfully.
She snorted before returning her book to its upturned state, covering her face from his view.
"Deny it all you want, love. But I know eventually I'll win you over."
"Mm, good luck," she muttered.
He didn't need luck, he thought. Because he had just the right wizard to get advice from.
James arrived in front of his best mate's flat early the next morning. Too early, in fact. He had work, however, and so he had to make it quick so he wasn't late, again. Hermione was always rushing him out of the house so he wouldn't get another dressing down from Head Auror Moody when he arrived at Headquarters. But he often got too absorbed in whatever she was doing, often running around the kitchen in her soft red robe as she tried to make him a lunch, because he forgot to make his own again. He never forgot though, not really. He rather liked how she made his sandwiches. With just the right amount of condiments and she always sliced it sideways rather than in half. It was like heaven in sandwich form.
It helped too that she always got so frustrated with him when he was ready to go and had no lunch in hand. Her hair seemed to frizz an extra bit and her mouth pursed sweetly while her brow furrowed. Her body was taut beneath the billowing blood-red robe she wore as she hurried from the fridge back to the counter where all the food was laid out. Two sandwiches, a piece of fruit, water and a thermos of tea. She packed cookies when she wasn't too upset with him; always three of his favorite kind. And then she'd rush him out the door to the apparition wards. He really should admit that the floo was in fine working order already...
In any case, he now stood knocking loudly and hopping back and forth on his feet impatiently.
The door swung open and a bedraggled Remus Lupin stared blearily back at him. "Do you have any idea how early it is?"
"Course I do," James replied, pushing past his friend to get inside the flat. "I have work soon, so I hafta make this quick."
"Why couldn't you come after work?" Remus asked, closing the door with a thump before he walked over to slump into an armchair, eyes shut tiredly.
James frowned, eyes turned upward. Why couldn't he...? Oh! "Because 'Mione's making dinner early. She has plans tonight with Lily and it's Tuesday which means she's making-"
Remus waved at him to stop, his mouth upturned in a slight smile. "All right, what d'you need?"
"Advice." He began pacing, his hands wringing in front of him. "See... I've never met anybody like her and I'm pretty sure that she's here for a reason..." His eyes narrowed. "Thing is, she doesn't take me too seriously most of the time."
"With good reason."
"True," he admitted. "But this time... Well I am being serious..."
Remus cracked an eye open to look at him and sighed lightly. "I know..."
"So? What do I do?" he pleaded.
Sitting up, Remus shook his head. "Why're you asking me? I haven't had a date since Hogwarts and I don't exactly fancy myself a ladies man..."
"I don't need advice from a ladies man... and if you'll remember you had more than your fair share of attention in Hogwarts... And you're not lacking in it now, you just prefer to ignore it." Stuffing his hands in his pockets, he shrugged. "I just wanna know how to get her to really look at me... Not as James the funny boy who likes to flirt with her, but as James... the guy who thinks she might just be his real-life soulmate..."
Remus stared at him thoughtfully. "If you want her to take you seriously, you can't treat the whole situation as a joke all the time. I know it's part of your charm," he waved his hands, "But if you make it into a joke, how is she supposed to know you're being real?"
James frowned, nodding slowly. "What if I am serious and she doesn't, well... want me to be?"
"Then you might just have to admit defeat... She's a long way from wherever it is she came from and while she may be making nice, she might not belong here. You know what she does when you're there, but when you're off at work, she could be working at getting home..."
He felt his stomach sink dreadfully but nodded anyway. Suddenly, he didn't want to talk about it anymore. "I should get to work," he murmured.
Remus sighed. "James..."
He nodded but kept walking toward the door.
"Mate, if it's meant to be... let it be..."
James chose not to answer and instead exited the door and apparated to work. He didn't hear a word Moody shouted at him that morning over his late arrival.
That night, he was so involved in his thoughts he hadn't asked her his usual questions.
"Are you feeling okay?" Hermione wondered, her expression pinched with concern.
"Hm?" He looked up at her and then nodded. "Yeah, just... Just thinking."
"Don't hurt yourself," she teased.
He managed a small smile.
Standing up from her seat, she placed her book to the side and walked over to him, reaching out to press the back of her hand against his forehead and then each of his cheeks. "You don't feel warm..."
"I'm not sick."
She didn't look convinced. "How's your stomach?"
Looking up at her, he stared into her warm, worried eyes. "Filled with butterflies... As usual."
She smiled slightly but then replaced it with her concentrated frown. "You didn't take a lunch today... You were gone before I could even ask you..."
"I had to stop at Remus'..."
Her brows lifted. "He's the one I haven't met, isn't he?"
"Yeah..." He nodded. "But he knows all about you."
She slid down to her knees, tugging her robe up slightly for comfort. "Are you sure you're okay?"
He looked down at her, head tipped slightly. "You look beautiful, you know? The firelight does something to your hair... You always look pretty... But you're stunning right now." He said it all without his usual charming smile, a look of utter adoration and seriousness on his face.
She stared up at him with wide eyes, her mouth slack. "Y-You should get some sleep," she told him, her eyes darting away before she rose from her position. "It's late and... and you have work tomorrow."
He nodded to himself before standing up. Instead of walking right to the stairway, he stepped up behind her, surprised when she didn't immediately step away from his close stance. He wrapped a hand around her thick hair and lifted it off one shoulder, placing it all over the other. "I'm not playing, you know..." he whispered against her ear. "It's not a game for me..."
He could hear her swallow tightly.
"I really, truly believe that for whatever reason fate brought you here... I'm meant to keep you."
Her eyes fell slightly, her lashes brushing her cheek. "And if you can't... If I'm not meant to be kept?"
"I'll try my hardest..." He breathed in the sweet scent of her. "I won't let you go without a fight..."
"What's the point in fighting when loss is inevitable?" she whispered almost sadly.
Slipping a hand beneath her chin, he touched her face delicately. "If I do lose you, I'll at least have you for as long as I can." Leaning forward, he kissed her cheek lingeringly and then fled from the living room without waiting for a response.
They continued on as if that moment hadn't happened. As if he hadn't vowed to have her, to at least try and have something real with her. He woke up to find her already making his lunch, muttering under her breath about how incapable he was at the little tasks. She shooed him out the door as usual, with an amused frown on her lips. When he returned home, she was making dinner in the kitchen with Lily at her side, as they laughed over something private. Sirius was napping on his couch but James was sure to wake him, abruptly, so the two of them could create mischief. After the Black's left, that night as they sat across from each other he asked her what her favorite flower was and grinned when she told him it depended on whatever weed he picked for her that day. And all was back to normal, with his constant flirting and her usual roll of the eyes. But he could see now that while she might make an effort to pretend it wasn't real, she knew what he really meant and her smile was softer with that revelation.
After two months, his curiosity couldn't be abated. "Tell me the truth..." he asked her, instead of his usual nightly question.
She looked up at him, surprised, and then just as quickly she avoided his eyes as she replied, "What makes you think I haven't been?"
His eyes narrowed. "You've been here awhile... You don't tell me anything unless I point-black ask you. Some things I've figured out on my own, but other things... Other things I'd like you to tell me..."
She raised her eyes to his, darker now, suspicious and unsettled. "And just what do you think you've figured out?"
He smiled somewhat, not surprised by her defensive tone. "You think as an Auror I don't pick up on things?" He stared at her, searching her eyes for some sense of her. "You think after all the attention I pay you I haven't noticed something was off?"
She turned away, her shoulders stiff. "I only stayed because you promised you'd let me be, James... My business is my own and eventually... I'll just be a distant, curious memory."
"No... No you think you will, but I know you won't..." He rose from his chair and walked toward her. "One day... you'll tell me all of it. And you'll be surprised when I'm not shocked or appalled or angry with you. Because I understand that some things need to be kept secret. But eventually, you'll know that you don't have to keep anything from me; that I'll always be here for you." He stroked her hair from her face, fingers trailing down her cheek. "And on that day, I'm going to ask you to marry me... And I hope you'll say yes."
She stared up at him with large brown eyes, her mouth opening but no reply exiting.
He smiled slightly before he leant forward and kissed her. He expected her to push him away, even just a little before she eventually gave in. But she stayed still, didn't lift her hands to stop him or discourage him in any way. His mouth slanted across hers once, twice, three times before he slid his tongue lightly across her lower lip and smiled slightly as she gave a little gasp and her lips parted for him. He cupped her cheek with his palm, thumb stroking back and forth just as his tongue met hers.
He kissed his fair share of beautiful woman in his life, but nothing compared to the way she felt and tasted. It was like warm sun beating down on his face as he lay in a freezing pile of snow; every part of him was numb except for his mouth. She tasted of warmth and home and love in its more pure and deep form. She felt like hot silk that wound its way along his tongue and down his throat to embrace his pounding heart. His free hand buried in her hair, his fingers tangled in thick brown curls that seemed to trap him there, unwilling to let him free. Not that he had any desire to leave right then; he couldn't imagine walking away or parting for even a slight intake of air.
Their kisses became frenzied and he barely heard her book fall from her lap to the floor with a clunk. He fell to his knees, partly because the angle wasn't helping and partly because his legs felt like jelly and rather gave out beneath him. She followed the sharp movement, her hands wrapped around the back of his neck. She leaned out of her chair and against him. He could feel her soft body against him, her breasts flattened against his chest. He knelt between her legs, her knees on either side of him as she sat on the edge of her seat, meeting his mouth over and over.
When they parted, their eyes were closed, their heavy, panting breaths meeting between their mouths. He opened his eyes first, staring at her thoroughly stunned expression before her eyes opened and met his. She licked her puffy pink lips and then stuttered out a, "Well, that- that was... We really shouldn't have-"
He kissed her again, just a quick peck to stop her rambling and then he lifted up from his knees, pressing his lips to her forehead lingeringly and unthreading his hand from her hair. "I'll see you in the morning."
She nodded numbly.
He smiled to himself before making his way to the stairs. He glanced back at her just once to find her sitting back in the chair, a hand pressed to her lips. He hoped she felt even half as much as he did and then she'd know for sure that what they had was meant to last forever.