Thank you, everyone, for such an overwhelming response to this fic. I was expecting, like, 3 reviews, and 2 of them to be yelling at me for this pairing. Well, okay, some of you did yell, but you did it out of happiness, which was awesome. Thank you so much for giving this fic a chance.
When Teddy awoke to a slice of sunlight from the window falling right on his face—sweet Merlin, who the bloody hell positions a bed this way?—he winced. His head was pounding from overdoing things last night, and he was pretty sure he probably made a complete arse out of himself in front of Hermione, moaning on like that about his sorry excuse for a love life.
Come to think of it . . . .
Shielding his eyes with his hand to block that evil ray of illumination, he forced his head up. Last he recalled was her directing his attention to his hair looking all blond and boring. So how did he get up here?
He wanted to grab a lock of his hair in his free hand and pull it down to check that it was its usual vibrant blue. But that was when he realized he couldn't move his other hand. There was the sensation of fingers in a loose grip around his.
Oh, no. Tell me I didn't do something stupid.
Teddy cringed as he turned his head to look beside him. Just as fast, his fearful expression died away. Curled up against the headboard was Hermione, sound asleep while she held his hand.
The peaceful look on her face caused his heart to thump hard in his chest a moment. Of course, she must've helped him up here and then, fool that he was, he'd begged her to stay. He wouldn't pat himself on the back about it, but she never did seem able to tell him no.
Shifting carefully on the bed so he wouldn't wake her, he pushed himself back. Though he had no idea how he'd done it, he managed to ignore the pain screaming in his skull as he leaned against the headboard beside her.
She looked so peaceful right now. So young—he knew she'd give him grief if he said that aloud, convinced he was only saying that to butter her up for something, but it was true. Other than some lines around her eyes and a few strands of grey mixed in her wild hair, she certainly didn't look eighteen years his senior.
Probably didn't help on that count that he never felt like that much separated them, either.
With a wistful grin, he reached out, his gaze on her slumbering face as he delicately tucked a tumble of her wayward hair behind her ear. God, she'd probably murder him herself if she had any idea how he felt about her.
"I wish I could tell you," he said, his voice barely audible in the early morning quiet of the room. "I feel like it's killing me to have to keep it inside."
She shifted a little in her sleep, then. Muttering something in a soft tumble of sound as she moved, Hermione pressed her shoulder lightly against his.
Teddy bit his lip, holding in a warm chuckle. She was constantly doing things like that, as though she was always aware of his presence, somehow.
All right, now he was sure his imagination was running away with him. "This calls for some strong coffee, I think," he whispered with a smile.
After propping a pillow in his place so she wouldn't fall sideways, he extracted his hand from hers in a delicate gesture. For a few heartbeats, though, it seemed he couldn't move. No, not that he couldn't he simply didn't want to. God, he was just being a stupid little boy in this moment, wasn't he? Not wanting to go anywhere because of how simple and perfect this was.
Not wanting to go because Lord knew when he'd feel this content, again. He thought he could probably sit like this forever simply watching her.
Giving his head a shake—that he instantly regretted, as it reminded him of the splitting pain behind his eyes—he practically yanked himself from the bed and left the room. Though, he could not help but pause in the entryway, listening to her soft little almost-snores before silently closing the door behind him.
He missed the way she muttered in her sleep, once more. A slight whimpering sound that surely would've had him running back to her in a blink, had he heard it.
She'd been dreaming of some peaceful scene. A gorgeous quiet night filled with stars and a fat, full moon hanging in the sky. The brush of cool grass beneath her bare feet and crisp evening air filling her lungs. She felt like she'd been running for the sheer joy of it . . . .
Running with someone beside her.
Then, there'd been an exhausted tumble of limbs against the grass. The pair gracefully accepted their exhaustion, catching their breath as they watched the sky together.
But then the one beside her was gone. And she couldn't help but press her nose to the ground to muffle a cry.
"Look who dragged himself out of his pitcher?"
Chuckling despite the way Horatio's booming voice sent a sharp spike through his head, Teddy pressed his fingertips against his temples. He let out a hissing breath. "G'morning, H'."
"Let me." The proprietor withdrew his wand, muttering something under his breath before tapping the implement against the center of Teddy's forehead.
Hangover remedy charm, of course, Teddy thought with an inward smile. "Much better," he said with a sigh of relief. "Thank you. Now, if you would, two coffees, strong, and whatever your kitchen can pull together for breakfast."
"Two?" Horatio paused, mid-step in his turn toward the kitchen. "I thought I didn't see Hermione come back down those stairs last night."
The other man did not take kindly to the suggestive tone. "Perfectly innocent, I assure."
With a smirk, Horatio nodded. "Just teasin' mate. I know that lady's far too good to get mixed up with the likes of you like that."
Teddy offered a casual chuckle, nodding as he watched Horatio head off to put the order together. The moment he was alone, however, the mirthful expression slid right off his face.
"Tell me something I don't already know," he whispered with a frown.
Hermione awoke to the delightful smell of coffee somewhere close by. She blinked open her eyes slow, looking about before she moved. She knew she'd drifted off last night after Teddy had fallen asleep. She hadn't meant to, honestly, but she'd been so very tired with everything recently. Rose moving out, Hugo not applying himself to his studies at Hogwarts, and friendly parting or not, the divorce from Ron had required paperwork and reserves of patience even she wasn't sure she had. Then, of course, there was playing impromptu marriage counselor to Harry and Ginny. Fun life she was leading as of late.
She wasn't certain when the last time was that she'd fallen asleep so deeply. She never felt safe enough to, as though every time she'd let herself snooze too soundly, some bit of unpleasant news would await her upon waking.
For all her intellect, however, she failed spectacularly at pretending she had no idea why she felt safe here last night, especially when her gaze fell on Teddy lingering by the window. She always did feel comfortable—and somehow comforted—just being around him, she supposed.
His hair back to an eye-catching hue, he leaned against the window frame. The wizard looked down on Diagon Alley while he sipped his coffee. She nearly snickered as she recalled him last night so determined to prove to her he had muscles.
She did manage to ignore the feel of warmth in her cheeks, just then—probably only over how ridiculous that moment had been, because she couldn't be blushing at the thought of him trying to bare himself for her benefit. When she cleared her throat to banish her own fleeting sensation of giddy awkwardness, Teddy jumped a bit.
"Did I sleep that long?" the witch asked as he turned to face her.
He smiled at the adorable display of her rubbing her heels of her palms against her eyes. "Not really, but I figured I probably put you through the ringer last night, least I could do was get you coffee."
Laughing softly, she nodded as she looked toward the night table. A tray set with a covered dish and a cup awaited her attention. "Look at that, you can be a gentleman," she said, taking the coffee and sipping before meeting his gaze.
With a nod, he took a seat on the edge of the bed as a half-grin curved one corner of his mouth upward. "Shh, don't tell anyone."
Hermione giggled into her cup, taking another sip. But then she remembered what he'd told her last night. She didn't want to mention it, she couldn't even know if he recalled that he'd shared that secret with her. But it scared her as much now as it had when the words had first tumbled from his lips.
She had no idea if she should bring it up or not. He had said he'd probably put her through the ringer, which meant he likely hadn't the foggiest idea what he'd said to her right before he'd fallen asleep.
Still waking up, she didn't realize she wasn't guarding her features. Her brows pinched together and bottom lip pulled into a thoughtful pout. The way she held the cup didn't hide her expression at all, either.
His shoulders drooping, he scooted closer to her. Setting his cup on the tray, he rested his hand over hers. "What's wrong?"
Hermione blinked a few times as she offered a shake of her head. "It . . . it's nothing, really," she said, dropping her gaze into her cup as she took a sip.
"Oh, c'mon, tell me." He grinned fully when his imploring tone drew a laugh out of her. He pouted and forced his brows upward as he tacked on, "Please?"
Again a laugh bubbled out of her. She set down her coffee beside his as she narrowed her eyes at him. "You're a little wretch, you know that?"
"Tough talk coming from a woman I could fit in my pocket."
"Oh!" Shaking her head, she snickered. She laughed so much when she talked to him. "No, no, nothing's wrong, really. I promise. But . . . ."
His expression sobered immediately, the grip of his hand tightening around hers a completely unconscious action. "But?"
Lifting her gaze to his, she only stared at him for a few moments. She chewed at the inside of her lip as she considered what to say. Not coming up with much, she decided to give him the floor as best she could.
"We're friends, aren't we, Teddy?"
He looked puzzled as he gave her a once-over. "Of course we are."
"And you know as your friend . . . you can tell me anything, don't you?"
His blue eyes narrowed in suspicion. "Yeah?"
"I mean anything, anything at all."
He started to drift back slowly from her as he watched her. "Hermione? Where's this coming from? What's this all about?"
Swallowing hard, her own eyes shot wide as she shook her head. "Oh, nowhere. You know how I just . . . overthink, sometimes. And, so, here I go, overthinking, again. Really, it's nothing. I just wanted you to know that if you need me, I'm here—"
"Oh my God," he practically shouted as he snatched his hand from hers and jumped up from the bed. Teddy was already pacing frantically—his long strides eating up the floor at such a quick pace it made the small room seem even smaller—before he continued. "I told you last night, didn't I?"
Oh, he was so stupid! He was so drunk and . . . she was probably sitting here pitying him!
Holding her hands palms-up, she climbed out of the bed, as well, facing him as he stomped about. "Look, Teddy, it's okay. Honestly! I think maybe if you talk about your feelings, it could really help—"
"I think I've done quite enough babbling on about my stupid bloody feelings, Hermione!"
"You don't have to shout!"
"I'm not shouting, you are!"
Never before had they raised their voices to each other. She thought she could feel tears clogging her throat as she said, "We have to talk about what you told me last night. I was going to leave it alone, but it's too important."
"You want to talk about what I said while I was drunk out of my mind? Okay, then. Let's."
They started talking over each other in their rush to be heard. "Last night you told me you wanted to be a werewolf!" tumbling from her lips mingled with, "I'm sorry I can't help that I'm in love with you!" falling from his.
The pair stared at each other in silence for several strained heartbeats. Hermione thought she could feel the weight of the very air pressing against her skin as his words sank in. Teddy's gaze flicked over her again and again as though he could not comprehend her statement, or even his own.
"I told you I—"
"You're in love with me?"
Teddy snapped his mouth shut as he held her gaze. The delicate skin beneath his eyes pinched and she could see a sudden sheen of unshed tears swimming in his them.
"Yes," he said, his voice spilling out in a low tumble of sound. "I've sincerely tried not to be, but . . . ." He forced a gulp down his throat and shook his head. "My heart just keeps coming back to you. I should probably go, now."
"Teddy, wait . . . ."
But those long strides of his managed to carry him out of the room before she could even think on what she wanted to say.
Sitting back down on the bed, she tried to process what had just happened. She tried to process how his revelation made her feel.
Yet, all she could think about just then was how watching him storm out like that made her heart ache.