Five months later...
The fear that seized her gut upon stepping off the plane in the States had only lasted a day or two. It was overwhelming at first, to be surrounded by so many unfamiliar things at once. The city, her apartment, her place of work; all of it took some getting used to, but the more exposure she got to each one, the better she felt. By the end of her first week, she felt less ready to change her mind and go home and more amped to wait for things to settle.
It took nearly a month for everything to really come together, the longest bit being her adjustment to the new time zone. She credited a lot of it to Harry for keeping her sane. She had been right in her assumption that he wasn't going to come with her. He had even told her the night of her going away party after bringing her home from her parents' house. Just as she knew he would, he promised to remain friends and she told him she would hold him to that.
From the late night or early morning calls, texts, Skypes; he was always there for her. Aside from her parents, he was the only one she seemed to keep in contact with in the months that followed, though as time wore on, even those became less frequent as well. She didn't mind; he had a life to live as well. He was there when she really needed him and vice versa, but she didn't want to overstep their new boundaries of friendship. She was, however, glad that the transition from lovers to friends seemed to be the easiest part of the whole ordeal.
They were both relieved that there was no flares of jealousy or awkwardness when he broke the news that he had started seeing someone two months later. She could tell from the shyness of his tone that he really liked her. At the end of that conversation, she had assured him that she was truly happy for him and not only did hope she was the one, but wanted to meet her via Skype one of these days. And when that happened, Hermione found herself just as taken with Ginny as Harry was. Especially when the fiery red-head had been bold enough to flat out ask her about their history and if any feelings lingered. Her attitude was refreshing and that initial chat seemed to solidify their friendship even further.
So even though they didn't talk often, she still looked forward to when they did and lit up like a kid on Christmas morning every time his name flashed across her phone. Which was exactly how she felt one Saturday morning while trying to wrangle the door of her car open and balance her phone, coffee, and shopping bags.
"Oh good, you're up."
"Of course I'm up. You're the one who sleeps until noon," she teased, trying to set her coffee on top the car without dropping anything.
"True," he said and she could practically hear the grin as he added, "And how many books have you purchased already?"
She narrowed her eyes as she brought the bag in her hand up; one that was nearly bursting at the seams. "One of these days, you're going to ask and I won't have just cleaned out the fantasy section."
He chuckled and she rolled her eyes as she opened the door and set the bag and her purse on the passenger seat. Hands mostly free, she grabbed her coffee and went around to get in behind the wheel. They continued their teasing before moving on to the catch up portion of their chat. Their talks always ran long, so she wasn't surprised that she had even gone home and sat on the couch with her bag of books on the cushion next to her before they even started wrapping up their conversation.
"You and Ginny doing anything fun tonight?"
There was a strange hesitation on his end that made Hermione's heart skip a beat. "I think we're going out with her friends from college tonight."
"Sounds like fun," she replied, not willing to let it go. "And what about the thing you decided you'd rather not tell me just now?"
His chuckle brought a smile to her lips as she waited for him to say something. "Ginny asked me to move in with her."
Hermione went still with shock, her jaw dropping at the emptiness of her living room. She was happy for him, sure, but even after all they had been through together, they hadn't even made it to that step. For the first time, she felt the slightest twinge of jealousy. She was quick to wave it away though and shook her head. "That was fast."
"I know, I know," he said, releasing a deep breath. "We've been seeing each other just over three months."
"Well," she said. "What did you tell her?"
"I haven't answered her yet."
"Do you want to move in together?"
Another pause followed by a sigh. "I do, I just feel like we're moving too fast."
"Then tell her that, Harry. Be honest with her and soon. You know how important that is." Hermione saw the irony in her advice, a fresh wave of guilt gnawing at her stomach. Something that the long bout of silence that followed didn't help ease.
"Can I ask you something?"
"Of course," she breathed, her heart hammering against her chest.
"If your promotion hadn't moved you to the States, do you think we'd still be together?"
Hermione pulled her legs up to her chest, sinking as far as she could into the corner of the couch. She closed her eyes and rested her head in one hand as the other pressed the phone tighter to her ear. Images of her going away party flashing through her mind. "I don't know," she said, her voice light. She wanted to answer yes, that she would have never left his side. But deep down, she knew that was a lie.
"I should have listened to you," he breathed. "It was a terrible idea and-"
"Harry, stop. Don't do this. Not now; not ever. Please, just…" A faint smile tipped the corners of her lips. "Just maybe don't make that same offer to Ginny or any future girlfriend you might bring home."
There was a brief pause before Harry's laughter broke the tension. "I miss you."
"I miss you too, Harry," she replied. "Is that what's holding you back from saying yes?"
"I think so."
"You know, you were the one that said you didn't want any what ifs to get in the way of our relationship. I think you should apply that type of thinking to Ginny. If you want to move in with her, do it. Screw what society says about it being too soon. I'll always love you and be here for you as your friend. If she makes you happy, then I'm happy for you."
"Well fuck, Mione. Tell me how you really feel," he said with a laugh. "I'll tell her tonight."
"Can I ask you something else?"
She laughed and placed a hand on her stomach when it growled, reminding her once again that coffee was not breakfast. "Sure."
"Are you happy?"
Never before had that question felt so loaded. Her lips parted to give an immediate response that she was, but no words came to back that claim. Overall, she was happy. She liked her job, her coworker, and her apartment, but yet, her life still felt incomplete. The problem was that she knew what was missing, but knew better than to think that was ever a possibility.
She snapped out of her thoughts and took a deep breath. "I'm happy."
He sighed. "You know I can tell when you're lying, right? Even over international waters and through the phone."
"I am," she reiterated. "Just lonely."
"You won't be forever," he said, the certainty in his tone making her pause.
"Is that you're way of telling me I need to get out more?" she teased. "For your information, I'm going out with some coworkers tonight."
He snorted. "Somehow I doubt that more than your ability to not clear out an entire section of books from the store."
She rolled her eyes. "I'm hanging up now."
"Get something to eat, will you? Coffee isn't breakfast."
She laughed; he knew her far too well. "Call me tomorrow, I wanna know how Ginny reacts to your news."
"And I want to hear all about the book you read tonight instead of how loud your coworkers are at the bar."
After she ended the call, she sat there, staring at the phone weighing down her hand. Deciding against calling the other person on her mind, she set the device down on the arm of the couch and dove into her bag to pick her first in a long lineup of distractions. And after propping her feet up on the ottoman, she cursed Harry for knowing her too well. She definitely wasn't going anywhere that night except whatever world the book in her hands took her to.
Hermione had felt only slightly guilty by giving more than one excuse as to why she was cancelling last minute with her coworkers. She knew they would go out without her and she was more than fine with that. She was content with spending the rest of the night on her couch lost in her books. They had accepted begrudgingly, so when a knock sounded at her door at an hour far too late for them to still be trying to convince her to go out, it took her a moment to get up.
Too short for the peephole in the door, she opened it with extreme caution only to be completely thrown off by the person on the other side of the threshold. She forgot how to breathe for a moment as she stared at him. Upon her first inhale, she blinked rapidly and shook her head to make sure she wasn't hallucinating.
He took that as his invitation and reached for her, pulling her into an embrace so tight it forced the air from her lungs. She felt herself being lifted and wrapped her legs around his waist, grunting as he maneuvered them into the house and pressed her up against the nearest wall. The door slammed shut from having been pushed or kicked with too much enthusiasm. She cupped his face in her hands as his dug into her waist. Caught up in the moment, she leaned in for the kiss she had spent too many nights dreaming about. When their lips touched, they both sighed as if the reunion was soothing a mutual ache in their hearts and souls.
"Getting here took longer than I expected," he murmured against her lips. "Sorry to keep you waiting."
"I think I missed the part where I knew you were coming," she said, lifting her head so she could see him. "I haven't seen or heard from you in months." Not since he had fucked her in her childhood bedroom and left her party without so much as a goodbye.
"You're the one that rejects my calls, love."
"So you just fly to another country and show up at my door in the middle of the night?"
"How else was I supposed to get you to talk to me?"
She gave a small sigh and pushed at him until he let her down. He did after a moment of internal debate. She slipped away from him and put a little distance between them before she swept her arm out in invitation. "I'm listening."
"I want you."
Her lips twitched with the urge to smile as she tipped her head to the side and crossed her arms over her chest. "I gathered that," she muttered.
He grinned as he raked a hand through his disheveled hair, only to make it look worse. "Not just for that, Hermione. I want you. All of you." He took a step forward and gauged her reaction before taking another. "I knew from the moment I saw you reading that damn book in a bar that there would be no one else like you. And then you came over without us even needing to ask." Another step. "For two years, I hoped that I would see you again and I told myself that when I did, I wouldn't let you go.
"And like a fucking dream come true, you were there. In my friend's house of all places. But in a nightmarish twist, you weren't there for me. You were there for Harry." He swallowed hard, taking a moment to pause. "I tried. I really fucking did, Hermione. The two of you were so annoyingly fucking good together that I didn't want to come between you, and then, in another bizarre twist of fate, I got to be with you again. I knew it was only for the night, but when that night was over, it was impossible to put up that false pretense of indifference.
"I know I messed up. That I pushed too hard the night of your party, but you were leaving. You were moving to another country and you were breaking things off with Harry. I thought that would be the last time I was going to see you. And instead of properly telling you how I felt, I listened to the wrong part of my body and did what I promised both of us I wouldn't."
Hermione took a deep breath, trying to wrap her mind around his confessions. "Even if I wanted a long distance relationship; which I still don't, by the way, I couldn't do that to Harry."
"I'm not really sure what I ever did to be so lucky as to have Harry be my son," he said, taking another step forward, watching as her brow furrowed at his words. "I wouldn't be here if it weren't for him. He gave us his blessing and everything."
He gave a nod and closed the distance enough to be able to reach for her hands and bring them up to his chest. "He said I was more depressed than I was about Lily and he was tired of Sirius calling to complain about it. He was smart enough to connect the dots and asked me about it. About you." He paused to smile at her. "About us."
Hermione swallowed hard and felt her knees lock in order to keep herself upright. "You told him?"
"He had already assumed so I just confirmed it when he asked me," he said with a shrug. "I told him the truth, Hermione. Just like I'm doing now with you."
Suddenly her randomly deep conversation with Harry earlier that day made more sense. At that point, James must have already been on the plane and Harry had known all along. He was trying to gauge how she felt to tell James before he came over. She truly didn't deserve him. "Even if we have Harry's…" she paused, the word stuck on her tongue, "you live in England. I don't."
"Actually," he started, the single word making her heart skip more than just a beat as it leapt up her throat. "As of Friday, I'm officially an employee of our New York division. My first day is not this Monday, but the one after that." He laid her hands on his chest and cupped her face, his thumb stroking her cheek. "That's why it took me so long. I talked to Harry weeks ago, but I wanted to make sure all of my affairs were in order before I came here. That way, it was-"
She launched herself at him, the collision nearly swaying them both off their feet. "Okay, fuck, you've made your point," she muttered against his lips as her fingers made quick work of his belt.
"Thank god. I thought you-"
She kissed him again and pushed unfastened his trousers before tugging at the hem of his shirt. "Less talking, more stripping," she demanded, reaching to take hers off. When all of their clothes were strewn about her living floor, she grabbed his hand and led him down the short hall to her bedroom where they wasted no time in making up for lost time.
The sun was just starting to poke through the curtains about the same time she felt his cock poking at her back. She squirmed and the arm he had banded around her waist tightened. "Keep that up and we won't be leaving this bed today."
"Were you planning on getting out of it?" she asked, wiggling again, but on purpose.
He snorted against her neck as he pulled her leg over his hip and checked to see if she was ready. With a groan, he pushed up and filled her. "Fuck no."
Words were lost on her as she reached behind her to grab whatever part of him she could reach. "Did you come straight from the airport?"
"Hotel first," he said, suckling at her skin. "I didn't want the sight of my bags of come off presumptuous."
"So you decided to literally sweep me off my feet and snog me senseless instead?"
"It worked didn't it?"
She whimpered as he shifted and hit deeper. "W-what about living arrangements? Do you have a place in mind?"
He nipped at her shoulder as he drew all the way out only to take his time diving back in again. "If you're asking if I'm hoping you'll ask me to stay here, the answer is no. I'm not looking to rush things with you, Hermione."
"Clearly," she muttered as she pushed her hips back in search of more friction.
She yelped as he went from torturously slow to insanely fast. He even reached over her and rubbed her clit. "If you want it harder, love, speak up."
"H-harder!" she moaned, twisting to bite into her pillow as he obliged. It only took a few more strokes before she was screaming into the same pillow as her release slammed into her like a freight train. He followed her lead and stayed lodged inside of her until he slipped out naturally.
"Besides, I have a place lined up. I sign the papers Monday. Until then, I have a hotel room."
She turned to face him, ignoring the slick that coated her thighs in the process. "What if you did stay here?"
"Hear me out," she pleaded. "We don't really know each other that well, I get that, but it feels right. We can still take it slow. I have a second room if-"
"I'm in my forties, love. If I move in it won't be as a roommate."
She rolled her eyes. "Good, I don't want a roommate," she said, kissing his lips. "I want you. I want you around me all the time. I know it's a big step, but I'm ready to jump in feet first." She thought of her conversation with Harry earlier that afternoon. Maybe she should follow her own advice for a change.
He studied her as his hand rested on her hip. "You're really sure, aren't you?"
"Okay. I'll make the call first thing tomorrow."
She kissed him wildly in her excitement and moved to straddle his waist. After a moment, she sat back and smiled down at him. "What about all your stuff? I assume you just brought clothes with you."
"Sirius is shipping out what I couldn't pack right away."
Her brow quirked at that. "Is he coming out for a visit anytime soon?"
"Why?" he asked, his eyes alight with amusement. "Miss him too, do you?"
She smacked his chest playfully and slid back to his side. "What is it with the two of you?"
"Does it matter? You seemed to like having us together just fine."
"I did," she admitted. "And as fun as it was, I don't want to do that again. Twice was enough for me," she said, averting her gaze as guilt formed a knot in her stomach.
His brow furrowed slightly. "I knew it had something to do with that," he muttered.
"Not really. I would have taken the job either way."
He studied her a moment before his expression softened. "It's just you and me, love."
She kissed him again before sliding off the bed in desperate need to use the bathroom. She grabbed her phone from the nightstand and ducked into her adjoining bath after promising a quick return. While relieving herself, she opened her texts to Harry and began to type.
I'm sorry that I didn't tell you. I wish you would have talked to me when you found out. I hope we can still be friends, but judging from what James told me and our conversation last night, I think we'll be just fine.
She sent it and placed the device on the counter as she cleaned up and washed her hands. Before she returned to the bedroom, she felt it go off and checked his response.
I wish you had told me too, but it seems like we're all in a good place now. I hope this cures your loneliness. I'll call you later. Love you.
She smiled at her phone, refusing to spill the tears that gathered in her eyes. Though they spilled anyway as the follow up text made her burst into laughter.
Tell my father I said hello.
She chose not to reply to that, knowing they could laugh about it when they spoke on the phone later. "Harry says hi," she murmured as she set her phone back on the nightstand and slid back into bed at his side again.
"Well that's not awkward at all," he said, his tone playful as he rolled on top of her, cradling himself between her thighs.
"I told you; a real family affair."
He shuddered and turned her laugh into a moan as he slipped his hardened member into her still wet core.
It was how they spent the rest of the day; playing, talking, or fucking, only leaving it to relieve themselves and to eat. They took a short break to go get his things from the hotel only to come back and pick up where they left off. It was happiest she had felt in ages and she was bound and determined keep it that way. And she had all the time in the world to make sure it did.
A/N: Thank you all for the reads/reviews/favorites/follows! Each email makes me smile and keeps me motivated to do what I do :) I hope you loved this fic as much as I did! I'm constantly cranking out new stuff so if you did like this, feel free to follow me here for new material or over at my FB group: madrose_writing