"You knew that I knew?" he asked her.
"No, I knew nothing," she laughed.
"But you?" she asked him. "Tell me."
"I knew you struck my heart early on," he told her softly.
"You lie," she was surprised at his sentimentality.
"I do not."
"I was rather stroppy at times," she admitted. "How could you see through that?"
"Hermione," Legolas said gently. "I could spend the rest of the day and night telling how lovely you are, and every detail I think on you. But, there is more."
"Aragorn and Gimli are waiting for me," He said. "they have granted me some time, but I have held them out longer than they expected."
"What? Legolas," Hermione shook her head in confusion, "I don't understand."
"I want you to come with me."
Rather than say 'What?' for the ten thousandth time, Hermione waited for him to explain.
"Our time here is so brief," he said. "With our mission complete, Sauron and Voldemort destroyed, we must return to our lives. Aragorn, his kingdom and queen await. Gimli is anxious at the promise I made to him, to take him to Galadriel. But before he can do that, he must find his dwarf kin and…"
"Return to your lives," Hermione repeated.
"Yes," Legolas stilled.
"You'll be going."
"But," he spoke when he realized the silence had taken her, "I wish, long for you to come.
"I understand," he continued when her silence grew out of control, "If you do not wish to leave your life. I shouldn't presume to…I mean…"
Hermione's mouth snapped open to explain her hesitation, but the doors to the house opened and poured forth people to further complicate the matter.
With the influx of people coming and going, the commotion of it all, Hermione did not see Legolas for the rest of the day, though she tried. She thought all the matters were tied up, but she should have known better. The next few days offered little help. A veritable mountain of paperwork awaited her, ranging from immediate to bloody-well-handle-now, to due last week. Ginny and she could only put off so much. And then there were the meeting the had to attend. The funerals. But before all that could be seen to, plans needed to be arranged.
"I don't know how long he will wait." Hermione sighed.
"He will wait as along as he needs," Ginny said. "As long as you need."
"But what about his friends? Gimli and Aragorn have lives to return to as well."
"Why do they all need to return at the same time?"
"I don't know." Hermione shrugged. "I only see him and speak so little the past few days. I don't know, Gin."
"Well I do."
"What?" Hermione dropped her pen.
"You will go to my wedding."
"Yes," Ginny explained. "The marriage ceremony between two people, committing their lives together."
"Yes, I know that." Hermione threw a bertie bott at her. "I meant you and Harry so soon."
"Yes Harry and I. Who else? Cleaver Witherschnitzel?"
"You're going to make me work for this aren't you?" Hermione asked.
"Yes." Ginny nodded. "Nah. Yes, Harry and I are having our ceremony soon. There is no question about it, us that is. I know that the dangers and threats are gone. But there is only so much time two people have together in this world."
"True. Aurors do have hard lives as well."
"Yes. I," Ginny hesitated. "I am thinking of retiring."
"I know Aurors are always needed, despite Vee being gone now. But I do want a normal life with Harry. Now he can have one."
Hermione always suspected that the only reason Ginny ever became an Auror was to watch after Harry and help out as she could. Now neither felt needed.
"Harry has the money to do whatever he wants. And I think he wants to do some good now," Ginny said.
"He would be an excellent professor." Hermione agreed.
"I have always thought so. Remember DA?"
"Yeah," Hermione laughed.
"And," Ginny added after a few quiet moments. "I don't want another partner."
"I know what your decision is, Mi."
"Love is where you need to go. Legolas will give it to you. He'll give you the world. Albeit another one, but follow your heart, Luv.
"Besides," Ginny continued. "I have to have you here for our wedding, Harry agrees. So we will have a party to end all parties. Then we will find our new lives."
Hermione felt like crying.
"Deal?" Ginny stuck out her hand.
Hermione eyed it for but a second but grabbed it fiercely, the two women falling into tears, hugs and laughter.
Hermione eyed her dress in the mirror, and her hair. Her hair had grown much since she had last scrutinized it. Perhaps….just maybe… she smiled, she would let Tonks and Ginny hack it off again. She preferred the wild look.
As for her bridesmaid dress, Hermione was not willing to comment either way on its style. She did not want to offend Ginny by saying it was ugly, nor encourage her by saying she liked it. As far as attendant dresses went, it could have been worse. It was not truly so bad, but rather fun.
Ginny came out from the bathroom. "Ready?"
"You mean am I ready to squeeze you into that white dress?"
"Yes, and no white dress jokes."
"I'd never dream of it." Hermione craned her head. "So let's see it."
"You should've been there. Mobs of people everywhere. They're lucky I didn't whip out my wand and start cursing."
"Ah, yes, the infamous bogey curse. You were always good at that. As for the sales, you know I would not have survived."
"Ha." Ginny was not convinced.
She pulled the dress out of the garment bag. It was long, with a sheer train. The strapless top had sheer lace sleeves in a quasi-traditional way. it was modern, and not. Some of every time. Molly would have been proud.
"Wow," Hermione said.
"And no enchantments needed." Ginny herself was fairly proud.
Harry stood at the front of the hall, seven kinds of anxious. Though Ron stood by his side, it didn't lessen the jitters. A crowd of people sat in the pews, but Harry didn't see them, but knew.
Hermione could see his fears in his face as she came down the aisle before Ginny. She could see fear, far from anything she had seen when he face big V, but she also saw anticipation. He wasn't afraid of getting married, he was afraid she might change her mind. No one likes rejection. Hermione smirked, there was no way Ginny would change her mind. The girl had had this image in her head since she was eleven!
When Ginny came down the aisle, Hermione heard the audible intake of breath that was Harry's stunned gasp. He was bedazzled by his bride.
Hermione thought of her conversation with Ginny. The redhead knew her answer before she did. Hermione was going with Legolas. She hadn't even seen him today. she hoped he was still here, but she knew he was. But like Harry, part of her worried at that possibility of rejection. If she could have, she would have turned around right during the ceremony to see where he sat, but she couldn't disrespect her friends that way. Instead, she turned her full attention to the ceremony.
Legolas was absolutely striking in a mortal tux. His long fair mane hung loosely around him, some pulled back. His features were so comely, Hermione had to remind herself to breathe. He smiled when he saw her.
"You do that suit justice," Hermione said.
"It feels strange, but customs are customs." He never looked upset Hermione noticed.
"Well," She smiled back at him. "We can't all run around in riding clothes or silks." Gimli had told her what the elves were like, of course in stereotypes, but amusing nonetheless.
"I think you would bring beauty to Elvish clothes." He appraised her with his cool eyes. "But then, you are simply radiant to begin with. You need no finery to enhance you."
Hermione was flattered but alarmed at the romance novel talk. She could feel her face in its unbelieving fix, and shook herself from her state. "Thank you, but really, you needn't compliment me so."
"I apologize if it displeases you."
"No, no." now she was embarrassed. "I just mean. I, uh. I am just not used to such blatant affection."
"I could stop, but it does not change the matter."
"No, don't stop. just ignore me. heh, heh." She laughed at herself, feeling incredibly stupid. "Legolas, I'm sorry, I just mean, thank you."
To shut both of them up, she reached forward and kissed him. She still had no words to describe his touch, his kiss, or their connection, just the starry-eyed dreamy sensation she felt. She could feel her smile as they kissed. When she pulled away, she looked up at him, their eyes locked. It was understood that she would be going with him and it would be after the wedding. No words exchanged.
As she dance with various guests, Hermione wondered if she could sneak off without really saying goodbye to people. But it wasn't her way she decided. She would make her transition free and clear. But confronted like that, with her old life and possible new life, could she do it? she wondered…
She looked up at her new dance partner, unaware of who it was until she looked.
"I wasn't sure if you owned a dress." George told Hermione as they danced. "Glad to see you're over me."
"It was Fred."
"Fred, George, we're one and the same." He grinned wickedly at her.
"Eh, can I cut it?"
Hermione was spun around by her dancing partner to be met by Ron. He held his hand out, grinning sideways at her. She took his hand as George dumped her off in a friendly manner. She and Ron picked up the song again and rejoined the other dancing fools.
"I hear you're going."
"What? Who told you that? I mean," Hermione flustered.
"Hermione, it's written all over you. I know."
Unsure of what to say she hesitated before throwing a lame joke. "Heh, so I'm not the center of gossip then?"
"Hardly." His tone grew softer. "I always thought you and I might find a way together. Maybe."
She and Ron had a strained relationship, full of love, but many difficulties. It would never have, could never have been romantic. Platonic was the only choice for her. "Ron-"
"But," he continued. "Our lives have gone different ways."
Ron shrugged to the side, a little sheepish grin. "Sorry, Mi, just thinking about old times."
"I can't live in the past, Ron."
"I know. You never could. You were always of the Now."
She fought to hold back her tears. She hadn't realized leaving was going to be like this. Perhaps, a tiny part of whispered, perhaps she shouldn't, couldn't go. She sniffed, unaware of her company. How could she leave?
"Hey, hey." Ron stopped dancing, looking down at her concerned. "I didn't mean to make you cry."
"I don't know what to do, Ron."
They walked off the dance floor and out of the hall, finding a quiet corridor to talk. She sat down and he next to her. She thought of Legolas, what he had said earlier, the way he made her feel, everything about him. but then she thought of all her friends that she would be leaving. Who knew when she'd see them again? If ever? What would happen, what would it be like?
"Hermione, listen." Ron cleared his throat, never one for speeches or advice, he took this exception. "All your life you have thought with your head. I know you. you and your 'Hogwarts; A history.' You were—are the brightest witch of the age, any really. And it has gotten you very far. You have a great job, great friends, you helped defeat one of the worst villains the world, or worlds, have ever known. Any way you look at it, you've got a bright future ahead of you. You can do anything you want, you are that good, brilliant, talented, etc. You've got the world in your palm. But having said that, don't you wish for just once, at least, you would follow your heart? Being more inclined to the latter myself, let me tell you, one can't always follow either the head or heart. Look at Harry, he has learned to use both. It's time for us to do the same."
That stopped Hermione's tears. All this time she had never seen herself as simply the brains or Ron as the Heart. Harry had always been the middle ground?
"Thank you." she whispered in his ear before she left. He could have made it difficult, dragged it out. She didn't know what else to say, but kissed him on the cheek. He let her go.
Hermione stood facing her friends. She held back the tears, but felt them bubbling in her heart. Ginny was just as stoic-faced as any, but she had her beautiful smile on her face. "You look smashing, chicken."
Hermione looked down at her dress. She wasn't sure how Legolas had acquired an Elvish dress for her, but he had. A long one armed dress, soft and smooth, fitted but flowy. She felt exuberant, vivacious, alive, stunning, everything possible in the beautiful gown. She smoothed the bodice and looked back at her friend.
"And you've seen your family?" Harry asked.
"Yes." She smiled up at him like he were her father or an older brother looking after her.
She was so excited to leave and begin her journey, her newest life she couldn't make room for the sadness. She knew she was and the others were as well, but they saw the joy on her face.
"And you'll take care of her?" Harry glanced to the tall platinum elf, who inclined his head.
"Well, if you get tired of her, you can always send her back, yeh?" Ron asked, though he smiled.
Legolas looked at Hermione and she tried not to blush. When she looked into his eyes, it was as if a secret message passed between them, each time they looked at each other. She could hear people saying things to her, but all she could see was Legolas. Soon, their time was spent.
Aragorn and Gimli patiently waited to the side. Once home, Aragorn would take them to his home, where they would spend a few days recuperating from the travel. And then Legolas, his mortal bride, and Gimli would make their way to the halls of the dwarves, and eventually on to the West and to the port of the Grey Havens. Then home. Legolas presented his two friends an enormous honor by bringing not one but two mortals to the land of the Elves. The honor had only been extend few other times.
Aragorn watched his friend, the love in his eyes reminded Aragorn of his own love, whom he ached to see. But he had known Legolas a very long time, and had never seen him in such a way. He had known something was different in his companion only days after arriving at the strange Order house. But then again, Aragorn also knew what it was like from both sides. To love an immortal was easy, they were beautiful and exotic, true and loyal, honest, pure, indescribable. But to love a mortal was passionate, they were so bright and fiery, so brilliant, so spirited, everything that immortals were not. Aragorn himself walked the line in between. He lived so much longer than many of his companions, but also loved someone who would live well beyond his years. He and Arwen had had the talk many times. But Legolas would not have their problem, he was taking his love with him, where as Aragorn's love was relinquishing what Legolas could offer Hermione for what Aragorn could offer her. and yet it was exactly the same. Love. Forever and for now, it made no difference. Love was love.
When every goodbye was given, every tear held back no longer, and kisses and hugs were exchanged until painful longing interceded, Hermione left with her new life. They walked away, to make the travel and transfer in private peace. They walked and walked and Hermione did not want to ask when they would leave, she was full of emotions and excitement, laughter and tears, love and apprehension. Finally she looked over at her partner.
"When do we stop? How do we jump between the worlds?" she asked.
"My dear," Aragorn laughed before Legolas could speak. "You were to much in your own world to notice that we already have. our magic is of the most subtle kind. Magic like the heart."
Hermione looked around and it looked just the same. Yet different. Her heart jumped and felt a difference but felt just as home at it ever had in England. "Truly? It is beautiful. Different yet the same, splendidly perfect."
Legolas laughed, walking on. "Soon, you will see just how much."
After another half hour or so of walking, the group was met with horses and company to escort them to Gondor. The few new people made Hermione draw deep breathes, thinking how she would meet so many more people. They looked surprised to see an extra person with the group and looked about to see who could be removed from his horse. Legolas waved them off and lifted her to his horse before vaulting gracefully on. His arms slid around her as she took the reins.
Hermione wasn't sure she could handle the affair, so marvelous so extravagant, so soon from her departure from her home. The arrival was a whirlwind of events, the approach to the huge white and the welcome received. Hermione was introduced to many people she could not remember but quickly enough taken to a room to change. Her head spun with excitement and nervousness. She felt like she were watching a movie and as if none of it were happening to her, but she got to watch and enjoy it.
The city had blown her away, the people called, the palace was huge. Dumbfounded, she found she could barely speak. She needed a moment to catch her breath. To be by herself….was there a bathroom nearby?
Someone showed her to a room. A marvelous room, huge and open, a balcony, a closet gull of clothes, shoes, and more. The attendant showed her briefly about the room, the wardrobe, the privacy closet, which was definitely a room—a bathroom. It was bigger than her old Hogwarts common room. Like her apartment had mated and had twenty babies! How had she ever lived in that closet of a flat? Once alone inside her bedchamber, she sat on the fluffy bed for a moment to get her bearings, to think. The next thing she knew she was waking up with Legolas sitting next to her.
"I'm so sorry," she yawned. "I didn't realize I had fallen asleep, or that I would for that matter."
"Do not worry, I felt certain you would. The experience must have been overwhelming."
"Yes." Hermione grew quite for a moment as it all sunk in. She felt heavy Elvish eyes on her. "Oh, very much worth it though."
He smiled when she said that. "I am pleased you still think so.
"Hermione. I know you gave up much to come with me, I hope you know that I know. Or rather that I acknowledge what you have abdicated. I would not be as arrogant to say you will not regret it, but offer that I will make it my position to make assured you do not regret. The burden, if it would called such, is mine. But,"
"Shh." Hermione lifted a hand to quiet him. "I have learned from my previous life that we are given choices, one must pick a path and not look back. Time is precious and I may have all the time in the world now, given lovingly by you, but I do not have time for regrets. I make choices, and I stick by them. And I will love this one and I will love you. Well, I already do."
"I love you Hermione." He smiled that soft sweet Legolas smile that melted her. "We have no regrets and only each other."
Chicken is used as an endearment here, don't be all take it the wrong way, k? I could have ended it a bit further up, before they went to Middle Earth, but I wanted to experience a little of what Hermione would think in a new place. I believe this is the end. I suppose one day I might get a wild feather to write more about the actual journey to the sea through the dwarf halls, etc, the adventure there, b/c I am sure there is one. But I think this is it.