This is my first challenge at The Maple Bookshelf. I wrote a pairing I've never written before and decided to keep it PG as well. I also used a banner that I 'gifted' to someone, but they decided not to use it, so I decided, 'why waste a good banner' so I changed it up a bit and decided to use it myself.
I hope everyone enjoys!
All characters belong to JK Rowling and I make no money from the writing or publishing of this or any other story!
A Whisper of Light
Written for The Maple Bookshelf's 'Off with a Bang' Challenge 2012 using the prompt, "…and then it exploded" and the pairing of Bill Weasley and Hermione Granger.
Hermione Granger stood across the street from a dark deserted looking house in the pouring rain, watching it closely in the whispering, pale light, as day turned into night. Though the house was dark, she knew it as well as she knew the back of her hand. Likewise, even though it appeared empty, she knew in the back of her mind that he was in there.
She also knew that even though she wanted to turn around and leave that she wouldn't. She wouldn't change her mind now. Once she made a decision, it was final. There was no turning back now. Besides, who was she to mess with fate, for fate was a fickle thing? Lives left unbalance soon faltered one way or another, often on their own accord. No, she had made this decision, and right or wrong, she would stick by it.
There was no turning back now.
The sun was setting over the horizon as she arrived upon the front porch of the man's house. The usual sounds of a neighborhood… dogs barking, cars moving along a street, people milling about, were a comfort to her right now. They were a constant reminder that she was still a part of the human race, that she was still alive, that she still mattered.
She knew that he needed reminded of the very same things.
The war had been over for more than two years, but the emotional and physical scars were still present. They would fade eventually, just as surely as the sun was fading in the now evening sky. She looked around her one more time before she lifted the knocker on the door. She knocked three times and waited for a response. No one answered – not that she thought they would – but still she hesitated on the threshold wondering what to do next.
Why did she always have to decide these things on her own?
Taking a deep breath in, she wondered if she would always be cursed with being by herself. She had friends and her parents, but she would never have anyone with whom she could depend on and that was a very sobering thought. She hated that every single decision was always hers to make and hers alone. Biting the inside of her cheek, she decided not to worry about these things, not when there were more important things at hand, such as a man's very life and existence. If she was alone forever than she was alone, which was as it should be. She felt as if she was always better off alone.
Who was she to complain when her loneliness was a mere shield placed there by her own hand? The man she sought had loneliness thrust upon him and it was a curse placed there by evil forces during the war. He never complained, so why should she?
While her mind was pondering these and other things, the door opened – as if by magic – and she almost laughed at the thought. Walking over the threshold and into the dimly lit foyer, she tried to make out the furnishings to ascertain if there were any signs of life, but all she could see was dust floating in front of her eyes, and a dim light coming from a room on her left.
"Is anyone home?"
She stepped into the open doorway to her left, entering what was once a very grand sitting room. The last time she was here this room had so much vitality, so much life, and now it was nothing but an empty, barren, ugly shell of its former glory. There was now only a fireplace (unlit), a sofa (rumpled and old), and a bare floor (except for the newspapers littering it like a carpet). Cocking her head to the side, she tried to remember how it used to look. She could almost picture the books that the man used to have stuffed on the built-in bookcases, which flanked the fireplace. He had all the classics: Moby Dick, A Tale of Two Cities, War and Peace. The only thing on the bookcases now where a few tins of food, a single candle, and what looked like a battered copy of an old text book.
Just as the shelves were empty, all the walls were empty, too, although she could see the spaces on the walls where pictures used to hang. Over the fireplace, there used to be a large picture of the man's family. If she closed her eyes, she could remember the faces and the positions of each one of them. She could even make out a space by the hearth where a hook-rug used to lay. Walking to the corner of the room, she remembered an old leather chair, brown and weathered with age sitting here, but like everything else, it was gone.
It was all gone.
This room was as empty and abandoned as her heart felt.
Feeling a bit melancholy, but pushing that feeling to the side, she walked out of the front room and back into the foyer, pulling her wand out of her pocket as she did. Someone was here, she knew it. HE was here.
She walked onward toward the back of the house, through the empty dining room into the kitchen. This was once her favourite room. The blue and white checkered floor and the blue painted cabinets had layers upon layers of dirt and grime upon them. She wanted to cry when she saw how dirty everything had become. She helped him paint these cabinets. He let her pick out the colour. He wanted to paint them white, but she insisted on blue, and he said he didn't care one way or the other, so blue it was.
She felt as blue as the cabinets.
Leaning against the countertop, she placed a hand over her heart, closed her eyes to the pressure and burn of tears in her eyes, and closed her mouth so that a sob wouldn't escape. How had it come to this?
It was in this very room that she realized that she loved him. It was right after the war. Ron and she had decided that they were better as friends than boyfriend/girlfriend, and he and his wife had just separated. He had invited Hermione to come to his house for dinner and a Muggle movie. He even told her he would try to 'cook' for her, although he had never really cooked anything before.
She had just arrived, after having taken great care with her clothes and hair that night… new dress, new shoes, hair curled and left down. He smiled so brightly when she walked in the door that she felt suddenly shy around him even though she had known him most of her life.
As soon as she arrived, she took a sniff in the air and said, "What's that smell?" If it was dinner, they might be in trouble.
He took her hand, laughed, and ushered her toward the kitchen. Opening the door with his shoulder, he spread his free hand out wide and said, "I was trying to make us something special for dessert, it was called a lava cake, and it burnt, and it also, well, sort of... fine, it exploded."
Hermione laughed and so did Bill. Telling her that the lava cake exploded was an understatement. The bright blue cabinets, (which they had just painted the weekend before) was spotted with chocolate everywhere, as was the floor, the ceiling, and the stove.
"You do realize that you were supposed to put the cake in the oven, right?" she asked, swiping at a dollop of chocolate that was on the edge of a chair and putting it in her mouth.
"Yes, I did, Miss Smarter than Everyone," Bill Weasley said in a mocking tone. "But then, it didn't look as if it was done, because one side of it was smashed in, and so I used a bit of magic to finish baking it, AFTER I placed it on top of the table, and then I went to get dressed. While I was upstairs, I heard this loud explosion, came down, and this was the result. I walked into the kitchen and the cake, it just exploded!"
He was smiling wider than Hermione had seen him smile in a long time. She was so happy to see him smiling that day. He had known real heartache since the war ended. His wife, unable to put up with the burden of his 'affliction' of being a werewolf once a month, went back to France, and she took their daughter with her. Since then, he had been mostly morose and sad, at least until Hermione started hanging around him.
After she started her tentative friendship with the eldest Weasley sibling, he seemed a bit happier. He moved out of Shell Cottage (too many bad memories) and bought this little house in a Muggle neighborhood. He got a new job. His family was encouraged by his new demeanor and encouraged his and Hermione's budding relationship.
A relationship that she thought was merely friendship until the night of the lava cake explosion. That night was different. Everything changed that night.
After they cleaned up his kitchen and ordered pizza, they decided to eat in the little glass enclosed porch that was off his kitchen, as it was late summer and it was a nice, warm evening. They ate and talked for hours. Sometime during the evening, it had begun to rain, and the rain continued until it turned into a downpour. The downpour became a deluge. Soon, it was raining the proverbial 'cats & dogs'. The little enclosed porch became humid and the glass windows fogged up with condensation.
When he excused himself once during their evening, she stood from the small table where they had eaten and walked over to the foggy windows to stare out at the dark, rain filled night. Rubbing her hands over the midst-soaked window, she drew little circles and swirls on the glass, but stopped when he returned, turning instantly as he appeared, even though neither spoke a word. He didn't have to make a declaration to tell her he had returned because all the little hairs on her arms stood up on end to announce it for him.
She stared right into his eyes. She felt it was rude to do so without saying anything, but she couldn't think of a word to say to him, even though conversation wasn't lacking earlier in the evening.
She wanted him. The thought of him set a fire to her soul. She wanted this man with a passion she was afraid to admit existed. She loved him with a blinding love and believed in him with the same blinding faith. He approached her slowly, as a predator does a prey, and she bowed her head for only a moment, but then lifted her head again, so that the back of her head hit the glass with a small thud. He placed a hand behind her head, even as he smiled at her.
The fingers of his other hand reached out and ran down the side of her face, slowly, hesitantly, almost as if he thought he might hurt her. Taking a step closer to her, he placed his head on her shoulder, so that his hair was touching the glass behind her head. Grasping one of her hands in his, he raised their joined hands so that they were on the smooth glass beside Hermione's head.
His other hand went from the back of her head, to her jaw, down her neck, to the open collar of her dress. From there it went slowly, with agonizing assurance, down her waist, her hip, then he grasped that hand and placed it beside her head as well.
His cheek was touching her cheek, and his mouth began to move, although she wasn't aware of it at first, because she was concentrating on his hands on her hands. Yet, his mouth was moving across her cheek, over the plains of her face, her nose, her eyelids, softly and reverently, until it rested against her mouth.
He pressed his lips against hers and kissed her.
It was a graceful kiss, a kiss that she would remember all her life. It didn't last for a long time, but it was seared forever in her brain. His lips played against the soft fullness of her upper lips, bit the silky tenderness of her bottom lip, his tongue swept the sweet contours inside her mouth. The entire time he kissed her, his body remained away from hers; the only things touching were their hands clasps against her head upon the smooth glass of the window.
Then something changed. The softness in him changed. The sweetness turned to agony and bitterness. She would forever blame herself. She wanted more… so she leaned closer, pulled her hands from his, and placed one hand in his hair and placed the other around his back, pulling him flush against her.
That was his undoing.
For it was close to a full moon. She knew that, but then again, so did he. They should have taken better precautions. But instead, they continued kissing, and at first, he started to push her away, and she moaned slightly, and he growled, closed his eyes, said something about her 'pink, delicate lips' and then he almost devoured her.
She was somewhat surprised and shocked by his ardor. It was almost too much. He was breathing so hard, vigorously, with excitement and desire. He pressed her against the window, even as he continued to press kisses upon her lips and face. She held onto him tight, a bit unsure, a bit apprehensive, wondering what to do.
Then everything around them exploded - literally.
As he pressed her against the glass wall of the little eating-porch, he pressed too hard, with too much zeal, too much 'animal passion', perhaps because it was too close to the full moon, or perhaps it was because he hadn't 'felt' for so long. No matter the reason, but he pushed too hard and they both started to fall through the glass structure to the concrete patio down below.
It was such a shock. The sound was the worse thing – the most shocking thing – more so than the sensation of falling, more so than the pain. And there was plenty of pain. Shards of glass, splinters of wood, went everywhere. Hermione fell backwards, and Bill was able to catch himself right before he tumbled out after her.
She screamed, cried out, "OH, GOD, HELP ME!"
He looked at her, helplessly, as she landed only a few feet below, but with glass shattered all around her.
He disappeared that night. He called Ron and Harry immediately, the Muggle ambulance and police, and stayed by her side only until they all arrived and then he left.
She got one kiss for her trouble, a few dozen stitches, scars (internal and external) and a empty feeling deep inside, knowing that it was really HER fault that he was gone.
That was four months ago. How could the house look so abandon in only four months? Slowly, she opened the door from the kitchen that would lead to the little eat-in, glass enclosed porch. It wouldn't budge. Taking her wand, she tapped the doorknob lightly and said the spell to unlock the door. It remained closed. Perhaps it was just as well.
She wasn't even sure why she was here. Why was she mourning something that wasn't even real? For goodness sakes, she had one date with the man, and one disastrous kiss. So what?
She had to leave this place. She had to leave and never return - to hell with decisions made. Even if she had found him here, she didn't know what she would have said to him. She might have said she was sorry, or she might have said she loved him. She would never know now.
Stepping through the foyer, she took a long last look in the living room, and then started to the door when she heard footsteps on the stairs. Gasping, she turned around and that was when she saw him. He was there, on the stairs.
Was it really him?
His hair was shorter. His earring was gone. Besides that, he looked the same.
"Bill?" Her voice sounded strange, even to her.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
"I heard you might return soon," she responded. "You're selling this place, right?"
"It's sold. Just sold this morning." He walked the rest of the way down the stairs. "I wanted to take a last look around, make sure I didn't have anything left inside."
She nodded. "Where have you been?"
"I went to see my daughter a while, in France." He walked to the front door and closed it, from where she had kept it open. "You look really wonderful, Hermione."
She had no response to that. Instead, she exhaled a shaky breath and stepped closer to him. "You were a right bastard to leave."
"I hurt you," he relayed, pain flashing across his eyes.
"I don't care about that," she said, shaking her head to clarify, "Well, I mean, of course I care that I was hurt, but that wasn't your fault."
"I was too rough," he said tersely. "That's why I can't be with you. I can't be with anyone. Even though I'm not a full werewolf, I still have the power to hurt the ones I love."
"Good thing you don't love me, then," she said flippantly. She thought she saw him flinch. "And for your information, the window gave out because a support beam on the joint had water damage from the roof, due to the heavy rain, not because you kissed me too hard, you idiot."
Again, he frowned and said, "How would you know?"
"That's what my home inspector told me, when I had the house inspected, right before I bought the place." She walked across to the stairs, gave the banister a pat and said, "This whole place is falling down around my ears. Good thing I got it so cheap. If the kitchen wasn't already painted the colour I wanted, I wouldn't have even entertained buying it."
"Wait a minute," he said, walking toward her. "Seriously? It wasn't because I was too hard? Too rough? Or too passionate?"
"You wish," she said, cocking one eyebrow in the air. She placed a hand on his cheek, and he moved his face closer to her hand, and then turned his head to brush a kiss on the inside of her palm.
"There's still a bed upstairs," he said softly.
"And it's not a full moon tonight," she offered.
"Nor is it raining," he supplied.
"And it's dark, there's not even a whisper of light, so no one will see." She took his hand in hers and started up the stairs.
He stopped, forcing her to stop as well. "Hermione?"
"I hope the floor's stable enough to support us," he said with a hint of a smile.
She smiled in return and said, "If not, it can just let it explode around us!"