Bittersweet

I own nothing except this really cool rhyme, and even that I stole partly from LotR:

One fan fiction to rule them all,
One Author to write them,
One reader to review them all,
And on their webpage site them!

The room was bare of even the hint that Hermione had once existed. Her trunks were long packed; all she needed was to pick an apparation point.. Hermione stood in the middle of bedroom she had shared with him for two long years, contemplating the note in her hand. Soon it would all be a memory, for her and for him. He would replace her easily, she knew. Everyone wanted a piece of the hero who had defeated Voldemort.

She forced her hands to release the small, pristine paper and watched it flutter onto the bed. It read simply:

Goodbye.

-Love, Hermione

He would find it when he came back. After their fights he would always wait until it was very late and then sneak in while she was asleep. He would slip into bed so quietly that no matter how she tried, she could never catch him at it. When she woke up, it would be in his arms. A sharp ache reminded her fiercely of how much she would miss that, miss him. She couldn't stay of course, not when he did not want her. It would be more than pathetic to cling to him like some kind of despoiled teenager on the arm of a high school soccer player. His words replayed in her mind.

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"Love is a fantasy, Hermione. What we have, had, is not love, it is convenience. I suspect that now you wish to move on with your life, rejoin the human race as it were." A sneer, the likes of which he had not delivered upon her since her school days. "Allow me to do the same."

Her face frozen, eyes numb, she nodded. He swept out and she waited only moments before collapsing. It was at least an hour before she stopped shaking. Her tears had long since dried. There was no Voldemort to hold them together any longer, their… relationship was no longer convenient. She would go and maybe someday she would allow herself to hope that he'd regret giving her up.

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Hermione turned, her robes a cloud of bright green. He loved it when she wore green. A muttered charm and the dress was now a soft blue color. Her hand stretched out to grasp the doorknob and paused to take one last look back. The window was open and it was beginning to rain. She latched it, grateful for an excuse to prolong her leaving a few moments longer and hating herself for being so pathetic. She had thought these years had made her hard. Cold and strong enough to take any blow that Voldemort threw her way. She did not count on being struck from the inside. She told herself it was the betrayal that hurt her and not the rejection. A comforting lie.

She should have known better, she knew. She locked the door to the flat and drew her wand. A swish and she was outside, ignoring as the icy rain pounded into her body like hammers. She should have known by the way he acted. After all their liaisons, hours, sometimes days, of sex, in hotels, in carriages, on trains, in alleyways, and once in an abandoned greenhouse, never had he kissed her. Never had he said 'I love you' except in the throes of passion. Never had he voluntarily told anyone that they were together.

She knew now that this was because they had never been together.

Soon his kisses would be given to a woman he could really love. Hermione wondered if that woman would appreciate how special, how rare, those kisses were.

Her apartment was three blocks from here, the place that had become a sanctuary for them in dark times. She knew what she would find when she arrived home. The boxes of things she had left at their flat and had sent back to her place, dirty dishes in the sink, and a cold, empty bed. Somehow apparating immediately back to that seemed too painful a blow to take. She marched out into the rain instead, not looking back at the darkened windows. A single tear slipped from her, but that was all she had left for him. It melted into the rain without prejudice. She kept walking, hoping it would get easier. She was on her block, her street, and finally her building loomed into view. The stairs were interminable, nearly defeating her, but she persevered. Her soaked clothes fell to the floor and she sank into bed naked and shivering. Sleep came with difficulty, bringing only fitful dreams. She did not get out of bed again for three days.

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It was dark when she awoke. She checked the clock, twenty three minutes past midnight. She felt strange, unsettled, then laughed bitterly at the idea. Of course she was unsettled, she had been turned out by the man she was in love with. A wince, because she hadn't meant to admit that. Still the feeling persisted, until she was driven to dress and step out into the dark hall of her building. A flick of her wand and the stairs were behind her. She opened the door and stepped out into the rain once more. It was that time of year in London.

He stood before her, a dark, blurred outline in the shadows. His hair was soaked, but still managed to frame his face. His black robes could not billow, so waterlogged were they. He said nothing, only stared with a peculiar, lost look on his face. She felt her stomach twist dangerously as she looked up at him.

"What are you doing here?" she asked.

"I don't know." His voice was harsh, pained. The velvet was gone.

"Leave," she begged.

He seemed honestly baffled. "I can't," he whispered.

There was a long pause, and finally her own whisper asked, "Why are you doing this to me?"

"It's in my nature to hurt the ones I love."

"You don't love me."

"Then why does it hurt so much?"

She lowered her eyes. "I don't know. I've never understood you. I just wanted you."

Another long pause. "How can I fix this?"

She found herself moving closer, like a moth to a flame. She had always felt that that particular analogy fit her and Severus remarkably well. "I don't know if it can be fixed."

He was moving too. Their lips were saying one thing, but she could feel him calling to her. It was so much more powerful than any words could possibly be. She was drawn against him, her mind at once totally at peace and utterly chaotic. She was truck by his eyes, no longer dazed and lost, but bright and sharp. He had to bend down to reach her lips. She refused to stand on tip toe. After what he had put her through, she made him work for this kiss. His lips were warm, shockingly so with the cold rain soaking them both. There was an intense feeling of sharing, of two becoming one.

"This isn't good bye…?" he asked when he had pulled back.

"I don't know what this is," Hermione replied. His arms were around her, the rain streaked down her face, and his taste on her tongue was bittersweet.