Title: When He Says It
Disclaimer: JKR still owns them. I'm making no profit off this, blah, blah, blah…
A/N: I really wasn't going to write a sequel to When She Realizes. It was a one-shot. The definition of a one-shot? No sequel. But after being begged to write something where Harry says "it," the plot bunnies wouldn't leave me alone. I didn't want to do the typical, Harry Goes Off to Fight Voldemort With the Strength of Hermione's Love and Returns Victorious to Tell her of his Feelings fic, so I tried something a little bit different. Thank you to everyone who gave me feedback on the first one, I was pleasantly surprised by the large response I got to it. Oh, yeah, and this is really it. I won't be writing a sequel to this. I've told everything I want to tell as it pertains to these two fics.
A/N 2: I have a livejournal! So for far more than anyone would ever want to know about me, check out my ramblings at:
She's fallen asleep again. She's been doing that lately, falling asleep in the middle of studying. She's lying in the Gryffindor common room, a heavy book spread across her chest. She remembers how the words blurred on the page, in her head, and the heat of the fire had been so warm…
She's warm now as she begins to surface. There's a hand caressing her face, a finger sloping over the curve of her nose and sliding down to trace her lips. She smiles, feeling a pleasant warmth shoot through her.
"Oh, Seamus… you musn't. What if Harry saw?"
"Haha. I do love your lovely jokes."
Her eyes flutter open and the first thing she sees is his face, staring down at her. She gazes at him for a moment, feeling warm and light. "Hey," she says softly.
His grin is lazy as he gazes back at her. "Hey yourself."
"I fell asleep."
Gently he removes the book from her chest, placing it on the ground before turning back to her. His eyes are serious as they focus on her face. "Did notice that, yeah."
Yawning widely, she gives him a sheepish smile. "Have I mentioned how much I like having you wake me up?"
"Didn't want to…" he whispers, his palm cupping her cheek. "You don't get nearly enough rest…"
Something in his voice worries her and she meets his eyes, surprised at what she sees.
His gaze is intense, burning straight through her, and she knows, suddenly, that something is wrong. Something is terribly, terribly wrong…
Her heart drops, right down through her stomach. They look at each other for a very long time and she feels the hair on the back of her neck stand on end. No… no… not now…
"Harry…" she says, her voice quaking. "What's… what's going on?"
She sits up now and he crouches before her, avoiding her gaze. "I'm leaving," he says quietly.
She sucks in a breath, though she'd known that had been coming. "What do you mean?"
"Tonight," he continues, knowing that he doesn't have to explain. "I'm leaving… tonight."
She shakes her head, the denial coming quickly. She's not ready, she'll never be ready, but especially not now. N.E.W.T.'s are coming up and he must take those. The final Quidditch match of the season is next week, Gryffindor vs. Slytherin and he can't possibly miss that.
"When?" she croaks, tears pricking her eyes, though she knows that's the very last thing he needs.
"Well…" he looks a little embarrassed. "I was just going to… go. But I found you down here and I couldn't…"
"What?" she shrieks. "You were just going to go? You weren't even going to say good-bye? To me? To Ron?"
"I wanted to," he says, still refusing to look at her. "But… I thought it'd be best if I just went. Less… painful…"
"Less painful?" she repeats loudly. She knows she's yelling, she can't help it. She's recoiling, she's lashing out at him. He doesn't deserve it, not really. But she can't help it, she's lost and he's leaving and she's so afraid. "How can you even say that? You want to talk painful? Waking up tomorrow morning to find you were missing would be painful!"
He swallows. "I'm sorry."
She closes her eyes for a moment, willing her tumultuous emotions to calm, to stop for just one second so she can think properly. "Don't go…" she pleads, not quite able to stop herself. "You're not ready yet…"
A small sob escapes her before she can stop it. "Please, Harry…"
"Don't," he says quietly. "It's time. I won't just sit here and wait for Voldemort to come and find me. I won't let him endanger anymore people I love. I won't."
He's right, he knows that she knows he's right. She can't possible say anything to that because it's so very true and so very Harry-like, so very much part of why she loves him and why she'd follow him to the bitter end if he asked her to.
He meets her eyes, his gaze softening as he looks upon her. "I need you to know." His hand is cupping her cheek and his jaw is set. "Before I go… I need you to know…"
She reaches up and places her hand over his. "I do know."
He shakes his head. "I need to say it."
Her heart flutters and she wants him to say it. She wants him to say it, so very badly and she's been waiting for him to say it and it's not fair that she's the only one that's allowed to say it. But he made her a promise and he's trying to break it and she won't let him because he promised.
"No, Harry," she says, her voice surprisingly firm despite the way her entire body is shaking. "You promised."
"Hermione, I lo—"
"Don't you dare!" she interrupts, covering his mouth with her hand. "Don't you dare. You will say it. I'll wait."
He nods, looking miserable and broken and she feels her heart shattering because this may be her last chance to ever hear him say it. She can't think like that, she knows she can't think like that. He will win because the alternative… it's not possible.
She removes her hand from his mouth, relieved when he doesn't press the issue farther. "I should go," he mumbles.
She wants to grab him, tie him to the chair, do anything to stop him, stop him from leaving. "Okay," she says hoarsely, knowing he'll never understand what that simple word cost her. "Kiss me and go."
Some of his humor leaps back to his face. "Are you sure about that?" he asks, flashing her a trademark Harry smirk. "I think I saw Seamus around here somewhere…"
She kisses him because she can't wait another second and his joke isn't very funny, not very funny at all. She knows it could very well be their last and she curses herself (yet again) for not seeing things earlier, for not realizing earlier. It's hardly fair, they've had so little time.
When he pulls away, she reads the naked emotion on his face like its her own. He pulls her to him, holding her close and she can feel his heartbeat echoing against her ear. Millions of memories flash before her eyes. Stumbling into a train car after a lost toad, hiding in a bathroom stall as a troll tried to kill her, watching as a scared little boy bravely drink the potion she had picked out for him… ready to go face Voldemort… always ready to go face Voldemort…
"I love you," she says, understanding that he needs to hear it.
He presses his lips to her forehead before pulling away. Their eyes meet one last time. "I, you know you, too…" he says back, clearly proud at having managed to find a way to slip it in there somewhere.
She wishes she could be angry with him, but it melts her heart to hear him say it with such conviction. She watches as he turns, she watches as he goes to the Portrait Hole, she watches until the Fat Lady swings shut behind him, and she continues to watch, feeling the stillness and the emptiness of the common room echo around her.
She rubs her arms, feeling cold and chilly. Numb shock is settling on her brain as she begins to realize that she now must wait. He's left her waiting. For news of his death, Voldemort's death… both their deaths…
She feels the hopelessness well inside her. She's afraid she might burst. She can't possibly be expected to wait. He hasn't been gone for five minutes and already she's a mess. She has to know.
She stares blankly around the common room, searching for something, anything, to give her an answer. She hates not knowing what to do. She hates not knowing the right answer.
A whimper escapes her mouth before she can stop it. Turning on her heel, she runs all the way up to the seventh-year boy's dormitory, barely aware of what she's doing. She sprints into the room, the sounds of loud, peaceful snoring meeting her ears.
It's not fair. It's not fair that the rest of the castle sleeps so peacefully while Harry's out there risking his life for them. What right do they have to just lie there?
She heads for Ron's bed, shaking her friend's shoulders. "Ron…" she says, tears clouding her vision. "Ron… wake up… please wake up, Ron…"
He snorts, rolling over and opening his eyes. "Ergh… whazz that?"
She continues shaking his shoulders, feeling a sense of desperation clinging to her. "Ron, it's Harry…" she pleads, realizing that she's beginning to sob all over him. "Harry… he's gone… he just left… he's gone, Ron…"
Ron's wide awake now, his face losing its colour. "Great Merlin's ghost," he breathes. "Why didn't he tell me?"
She shakes her head soundlessly, not able to come up with the words. Ron merely opens his arms, and she sinks against him, beginning to cry in earnest. "What do we do, Ron?" she says, practically wailing. "What do we do?"
It's never her that asks that question. Never. She can feel Ron begin to shake and she feels badly for scaring him. She can't imagine what it would have felt like if someone had awoken her in the middle of the night with the news that Harry was gone.
"It's okay," he says gruffly, disentangling himself from her arms and rising. He's clad only his boxer shorts, but she barely notices, choosing instead to sit on his bed and stare blankly off into space as he changes.
"C'mon," he says, pulling her to her feet. "The last thing we want to do is wake up the whole of Hogwarts with the news that the Boy Who Lived is missing."
She nods mutely, following him back down to the common room. She's surprised at how calm he is because Ron isn't calm. Ron is emotional and loud and all too often speaks without thinking. But he's calm now, now when Harry needs it most, and she's falling completely to pieces.
"Now," he says, sinking into the couch. "Why don't you tell me what happened?"
She does, pacing while she haltingly goes through the story. She leaves out big chunks, worried about how much to tell him. She knows that Ron had fancied her and she and Harry hadn't yet spoken to him about their new relationship. It had only been a week, after all, since she went crashing to the floor in a heap. They'd been planning on telling him together, but now…
She feels another tear slice up her heart. Now that job is left to her because they may never have the chance to tell him together.
"Ron…" she says carefully, after telling him the edited version of the story. "There's something else… something you should know…"
Ron looks a little dazed. "Something else?"
"It's about me and Harry. It's…" she trails off, eyes dropping to the floor. "We're, well… we're in love."
She isn't sure exactly what she's expecting, but his reaction astounds her. "Of course you are. Anything else?"
Startled, she tears her eyes from the floor, landing on his vaguely amused face. "No," she says firmly. "I mean… I love him. I love Harry."
Ron looks even more amused. "Finally figured that out, did you?" He shakes his head in amusement. "You know, Hermione, you're horribly slow sometimes."
She flushes, remembering when Harry had said practically the exact same thing to her only a week before. "You… know?" she manages.
Ron rolls his eyes. "Hermione, everyone knows. In fact, I think you were the last to know. Snape knows, McGonagall has had a running bet going for years, hell, even Malfoy realized before you did."
"So… you're not… angry, then?"
Ron shakes his head. "Hermione, I may be stupid, but I'm not blind. I came to terms about what the two of you shared a long time ago."
She feels relief, but his acceptance reminds her that she's facing more pressing problems. "Ron…" she whispers. "I can't just wait here. I can't bear… not knowing."
Ron nods. "Me neither. I can't believe that he just left."
She shakes her head. "Nothing was going to stop him. He was determined."
Ron takes that in. She watches him as he struggles with himself, face changing as he thinks. "Hermione…" he says slowly. "You know what we have to do, don't you?"
"What?" she says, beginning to hope.
"Go after him!" Ron says, standing. "This is so stupid! We've been with him through everything else! He shouldn't be doing this alone… we should be there… he can't do this without us…"
She feels the hope spread through her, mentally cursing herself for not simply realizing that earlier. It makes sense. Harry, Ron, and Hermione. They're a trio. It may be Harry's name on the prophecy, but she still has a choice.
"Brilliant, Ron!" she cries, feeling relief and determination swamp her. "Let's go!"
"Wait a minute—right now?" Ron frowns, beginning to look worried. "I'm not sure if—"
"Of course right now!" she says shrilly. "He has a good head start on us! We have to find him!"
"Merlin…" Ron mutters, standing. He takes a deep breath. "Okay. Okay… let's do this. Hermione, how are we ever going to find him?"
"I don't know," she mutters.
"You don't know?" Ron repeats, sounding hysterical. "What d'you mean, you don't know? You're the one with the brains!"
"I wasn't really prepared for this…" she snaps, heading to the Portrait Hole. "I'll think of something…"
Ron follows her, grumbling. "Something," he says. "Good. Smashing. Excellent. Something… yeah, that's helpful…"
The Portrait Hole swings open and they find themselves face to face with—
"Harry?" she says, dumbfounded.
"Well, that was easy…" Ron says, slightly shocked.
Harry stares back at them, shuffling his feet. "Err… hi…" he says nervously. "Forgot my Invisibility cloak… thought it might be helpful…"
She can do nothing but squeak, relief at seeing him catching hold of her. She throws her arms around his neck, planting desperate kisses all over his face. He stumbles back a little under her weight, but manages to stand upright.
"I… Oh, Harry…" she gasps out in between kisses. She wants to tell him that she's going with him, that they both are, that he can't just walk away and leave her. But she can't get the words out, choosing instead to keep kissing his face, his cheeks, his nose, that stupid scar on his forehead.
"We're coming with you," Ron says firmly, saving her the trouble. "It's mental for you to try and attempt something like this by yourself."
Harry stiffens, and he gently pushes her away from him. "What d'you mean, you're coming with me?"
Her relief at finding him is so intense that she feels like she might burst. She can't believe that he doesn't understand. How can she just… let him go? She won't let him go until she has to. She's always been with him, right up until she'd been forced away.
"We're coming with you," she repeats, her knees shaking. "Oh, Harry… we have to come with you…"
Ron nods, placing a hand on Harry's shoulder. "It's not just your fight, mate."
Harry's already shaking his head. "It is my fight," he says quietly. "I'm going to get my cloak and then I'm leaving. Alone."
"And we'll follow you," Hermione says immediately. "You can't ask us not to go with you. You can't."
He meets her eyes, and she can see the pain clouding in his vision. "If I lost either of you," he whispers with difficulty. "I don't think that I'd ever be able to forgive myself."
"Don't you see?" she screeches. "Us, too! How do you think we'd feel if we lost you, Harry? How would I go on with my life?"
He brushes by her. "You're not coming," he repeats stubbornly. "Cloaks not big enough for the three of us, anyway."
In desperation, she grasps his arm. "That's a lousy excuse and you know it," she says quietly. "I'm not leaving you, Harry. I refuse."
He bites his lip and stares very hard at the ground. "Please, Hermione…" he begs softly.
"And Ron," Ron adds. "'Cause I'm, uh, coming, too. You'll have to keep the snogging to a minimum, though. Sorry."
Harry cracks a tiny smile. "This isn't like the other stuff… it's not all adventures and Forbidden Forest stuff. Dumbledore won't be there to save us this time. We're going straight up against Voldemort. That's it… it'd be just us against him and death and…"
"We know, Harry," she says softly. "We know."
The three of them stare at each other for a very long time. Harry finally sighs softly and reaches for her hand. "Alright—we'll do this."
"Brilliant!" Ron exclaims. "I'll go get the cloak, Harry. Can't take the chance that you'll try and sneak out with it."
Ron hurries off and they're alone. Harry rubs his thumb idly over the top of her hand, staring pensively off into space.
"I wasn't sure if I'd ever see you again," he says.
She swallows. "Me, too."
"Hermione," he begins with difficulty. "If Voldemort were to…"
"Shhh…" she cuts in gently. "I understand."
He nods giving her hand a quick squeeze. "Can I say it?"
"Goodness gracious," she says with a smile. "If you don't, I think I might have to beat it out of you."
His smile is quick and his eyes light up when they meet hers. "Hermione?"
"I love you."
"Yes, you do."