Warning: HP/SS slash HG/HP mention of RW/HG
AN: I really wasn't planning on continuing this, but I received so many emails begging me not to leave things as they were. So thanks for all your kind words, and here's my attempt to display the contrasting feelings, which currently exist inside the troubled mind of everyone's favorite Gryffindor.
Chapter 3: Broken Lions
Harry and Hermione Potter apparated back to Number 12 Grimmauld Place that evening. They were to christen their newly decorated bedroom that night before heading for the beautiful Greek island of Santorini, the following morning.
The couple marched hesitantly up the stairs, each lost in their own thoughts. Upon entering the lavish bedroom, decorated in warm tones of cream and navy blue, Hermione excused herself and slipped into the bathroom.
Harry breathed in relief as he plopped himself on the large canopy bed in the center of the room. He leaned back so that he was lying on the bed, horizontally, staring at the beautiful mural painted on the ceiling above. The mural portrayed a large boa constrictor resting triumphantly on the back of a lion brought to submission. The brooding wizard sighed painfully as he realized how deeply he identified with the broken lion in the painting. The mural was charmed to allow its subjects to move, but in the two years Harry'd spent living in this house he'd never seen the animals change their positions much. Occasionally the serpent would wiggle around lazily, ensconcing the lion's mane under its cold scales, but not once had Harry witnessed the lion rise from his place.
Harry's daydream was cut short by the soft creak of the bathroom door. He pushed himself up to lean on his elbows and looked up at a bashful Hermione, dressed in a translucent white teddy that did not leave much to the imagination.
The normally confident, assertive witch was twirling a light brown curl nervously as her shy gaze rested on her new husband. Had the circumstances been different, this might have been a seductive sight, as the young woman's tanned shapely form was displayed almost in full. In this case, however, her choice of intimate apparel merely served to further the couples' feelings of discomfort and confusion.
Several excruciatingly long and uneasy minutes passed with Hermione fidgeting uncomfortably in front of Harry who was still sprawled on the bed, trying to force himself to behave as was expected of a blissful groom. Finally, he stretched his arm out towards his bride and invited her to join him. Hermione took a few unsteady steps towards the large bed and sat down stiffly. Harry had pushed himself up and joined her on the edge of their bed. Gingerly, he took one of her hands in his and brought it to his lips. Kissing her hand chastely, he watched Harmione squirm at his side.
Both Potters realized this was going to be an awkward experience.
Harry kept his wife's hand clasped in his, as he tilted his face sideways to face her. He then closed the distance between them and kissed her lips. The soft sweet mouth seemed unsure of the intrusion, but warmed up to the kiss quickly. Hermione parted her lips gently to allow Harry's tongue to dart in, licking and nipping at her lip and tongue. Though they'd shared kisses before, this one was quite different. Perhaps it was because of their new status as husband and wife, or perhaps it was the fact that this time the kiss held a silent promise of activities yet to come; activities they had yet to perform together until this night.
As the kiss deepened they wrapped their arms around one another and leaned back to lie on the bed. Then seasoned fingers undid clasps, removed clothing, and uncovered territories that had previously been irrelevant to their relationship. The flushed young couple may have been the best of friends for the past nine years, but tonight they were crossing a line they had never crossed before. Tonight they would become lovers and thus seal the vows they'd made to one another earlier in the day.
Later that night Harry was lying in bed, Hermione's limp form curled against his naked body, trying to force away the myriad of thoughts racing through his mind. His lovemaking with Hermione, though pleasant enough, had been somewhat mechanical and reserved for his liking. The distressed man held back a strained sigh as he indulged in a wistful recollection of his passion-filled nights with Severus. The intense lust and attraction between the men had remained electrifying throughout their two years together. In fact, the deeper their intimacy grew, the more gratifying and sizzling the sex had been. Harry's body practically hungered for the older man's touch and it had a peculiar way of responding to Severus' every word, gaze or touch in such wild manners that it had sometimes frightened the young wizard. Harry thought back to the bouts of panic he had experienced occasionally, whenever he'd find himself questioning his former lovers' ability to accept his all-consuming emotions without feeling suffocated. But Severus had continuously reassured him that not only were these emotions welcome, but that they were, in fact, met equally, by him.
Harry gently plied away from his sleeping wife and turned onto his side. He felt unshed tears brimming in his weary eyes upon the realization that Severus was now lost to him for good. He, Harry, had chosen to let the man he needed and loved more than anything go for the sake of good comeraderie.
I must be the world's biggest fool he thought bitterly before closing his eyes and escaping into a troubled night's sleep.
The following morning found Harry and Hermione packed up and ready to embark on their honeymoon in Santorini. The bungalow had been booked in advance and their cases packed before the wedding, so all that was left to do was to arrive at their destination.
Harry shrunk their bags and pocketed them swiftly, wondering if the undesirable tension that had formed between them as soon as they awoke that morning would dissipate shortly. He sincerely hoped so, for the last thing he wanted was to spend the next month feeling as if he were in the presence of a complete stranger. Come to think of it, they were married now, so it wouldn't end at a single month. They'd be returning home at the end of the honeymoon to start their new life as a married couple. This thought caused the green-eyed wizard to wince inwardly. Married to Hermione he thought. That's not the way my life was supposed to end up…
A moment later Harry heard Hermione cough before addressing him.
"We should probably get going now." She said neutrally, avoiding making eye contact.
Harry nodded and marched downstairs, sensing Hermione follow. Once they were certain they hadn't forgotten anything, they apparated to the magical wing of Gatwick Airport, where they'd booked an international floo. This was Hermione's first magical trip abroad, whereas Harry had been to Tuscany with Severus during the previous year to celebrate their first anniversary. So Harry led the way in the erratic maze that made up the magical wing of the modest airport.
Once the Potters breezed through the passport checkpoint and the various disarming charms and security checks for use of dark magic performed on their shrunken luggage, they found themselves standing in front of a rather typical looking fireplace. A witch in formal airport attendant robes (which were surprisingly similar to stewardess uniforms, as Hermione noted) waved her wand over the pair of them to discern the destination of their trip, as well as to ascertain that they had, in fact, made reservations for the floo. She then produced a jug that contained sparkling golden dust, explaining it was long-distance floo powder, which would enable them to travel far greater distances than that which the local floo network enables.
Hermione's eyes were bright and inquisitive and it was easy to see how pleased she was to learn so many new customs and habits of the magical world. She even graced Harry with a warm smile, before grabbing a handful of the golden dust, entering the hearth and enunciating the name of their Greek resort perfectly.
Harry followed his wife's lead and not a moment later found himself tumbling ungracefully out of the resort fireplace. He dusted off the soot from his robes and looked around the room for Hermione. He located her at the front desk, already probing the concierge for information on the activities and sites in and around the resort. The Potters were led to their private bungalow, which was a three-minute walk from the main resort building, but secluded enough so as to provide complete privacy. The bungalow held a spacious bedroom, a cozy-looking living room, a luxurious bathroom with a decadently appealing tub that could easily fit two, and a kitchenette. The living room opened to a romantic deck with two lounge chairs, which could be connected to one another, forming a comfortable looking 'lounge couch'. The stairs from the deck led to a private beach the couple could enjoy, though they were also shown the public beach where they might go when they wanted company.
Once the concierge had left them alone in their bungalow the tension seemed to reappear. They stood in front of one another, awkwardly, not knowing how to proceed. Then Hermione swung out her wand, returned their bags to their normal size, and began unpacking diligently. Harry sighed in frustration as the exasperating witch ignored him again.
The brown haired witch turned slowly and faced her husband, a questioning expression on her face.
Encouraged by Hermione's quick response, Harry stepped towards her, took her hand in his, and moved them both to sit on the bed. Hermione did not resist, but she lowered her head so that he couldn't see her face. Harry placed his hand under her chin and tilted her head up so that they were gazing at one another.
"What's wrong, 'Mione?" he asked in a concerned tone.
"You've been avoiding me since you woke up this morning."
Hermione's expressive eyes conveyed that she was having difficulty answering his question. She appeared to be thinking out an explanation in her mind before voicing it.
Harry remained silent, wishing to offer her the patience and support she needed to open up to him.
"It's just strange is all, Harry. Don't get me wrong, last night was wonderful, but it triggered a lot of memories I'd buried." The young witch lowered her gaze to the ground again before mumbling: "Memories of Ron."
Harry wrapped his arm around his wife's shoulders and kissed her soft brown curls.
"It must have been very difficult for you. I apologize if I was in some way insensitive or hurt you in any way."
Hermione's head jerked up immediately and she looked directly into Harry's forlorn eyes. "No, Harry. You were sweet and caring. I'm just being an emotional basket case. I'm so sorry, Harry."
The young wizard shook his head fiercely. "You've nothing to apologize for. I should have been more perceptive and in tune with your feelings."
Holding his emotional wife in his strong arms, Harry couldn't help but think to himself:
I'm a right prat for doing this to you, 'Mione. To think that you have been suffering such pain for the loss of your love, while I sit around feeling sorry for myself, being petty, and dreaming of Severus. You deserve so much more than this, Hermione. You deserve a better husband, not to mention a better friend.
I'd love you forever if you were to send me a review! :)