Title: Atonement

Author: Amethyst

Author E-mail: AmethystJackson@hotmail.com

Category: Angst/Romance

Rating: PG

Keywords: Harry Hermione Cho apology atonement

Spoilers: None

Summary: Harry apologizes to Hermione.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Author's Note: It's short and random and too dramatic, but it's the best I could manage this week. I wish it was more of a story, but at least it isn't fluff, eh?

~

Witch Weekly

Volume 473, Issue No. 1

Week of May 18, 2003

Another week, another fic. To the accusations by Amethyst that the editor of Witch Weekly have been implying insults toward her, that is completely untrue. We are merely stating the facts - she is insane, demented, and could probably use medical help. As concerned editors, we are merely forewarning the readers, since she never stops coming in when we fire her.

~

"I'm sorry," Harry whispered, his breath shaking as he did so. It was the most sincere apology he had ever given, and yet he knew it would never be enough. He had hurt her too deeply. There was no way he could win her heart back; it was too bruised. He had given up, but there was one thing left to say, one thing she had to understand before she threw him out of her life. "I love you."

"You can't just tell me you love me and expect it all to be okay. You said you were over her…and then you kissed her. How can you possibly be in love with me when you still want her?"

"I don't want her. She asked me to kiss her for old times sake…I felt sorry for her. I shouldn't have, I know. There's no excuse. It meant nothing to me, Hermione. When it happened, I only wished I was kissing you instead."

The tears on her cheeks were painful evidence of just what he had done. It had been such a foolish mistake. Old times sake…he knew Cho, how she was, what she did to get her way. Hermione had never seen that side of her, but it seemed to run rampant when he was alone with her. Cho despised him now. No one understood Cho like he did; she would hold a grudge until death and act upon it. Of course she was only trying to seduce him and ruin him. Had she planned for Hermione to show up and spot them? Had she merely lured him into a hopeless trap? Knowing her, yes, she had. And now Hermione wore a broken heart all over her face which took the jagged shards of his own heart and crushed them further. If only he could turn back time, undo it all. If only he could let her read his heart so that she would know she was the only woman he would ever love. But she would never forgive him. He couldn't forgive himself; she certainly couldn't.

"It really meant nothing to you?" she asked softly. Her voice was high-pitched and choked with tears. If only he could make them disappear.

"No, of course it didn't. You're everything that matters, Hermione," he said with all the force of his soul. It was the absolute truth. Trying to go on without her would be unbearable. Perhaps that was why he stayed and desperately attempted to get her to pardon him, even while he knew she shouldn't.

Her face softened. He hesitated. Was she about to offer her unfathomable forgiveness to him, the undeserving?

"I…I believe you, then. And I'll forgive you. But it…it hurt, Harry," she said. His heart constricted. She was an angel…a broken angel. How could he have let this happen?

"I don't deserve your forgiveness," he told her, unable to look into those dark, tormented eyes anymore. "You should hate me for what I did to you. There's no reason…you never did anything to deserve this."

She reached across the table to take his hand. When it closed around his, it warmed him as if she had embraced him. Though he did not deserve it, he would take her forgiveness; he needed it to begin to rebuild the paradise that he had destroyed.

"It doesn't matter what we deserve. Love isn't all candy and flowers; it hurts sometimes, and we all make mistakes. I can't say I trust you quite like I used to, but somehow I still know you wouldn't lie to me…and I love you too much to let go of you. We'll move past this."

They offered each other small, tainted smiles, hands still joined across the table. Her pain had completed his punishment, and the only thing left to do was wait for their wounds to heal.

~ Fin