Hermione took a drink of her water, listening to the solicitor read a bunch of legal words that meant very little to her at the moment. She was trying not to look across the table at the man she knew was glaring at her. His eyes had been on her since they'd entered the office for the interview, raking over her, reminding her that it had been nearly a month since she'd seen him.
Her hand shook as she put the glass down, brown eyes watching the ice slowly melt. How odd that something so simple caught her attention. It was much like her relationship with Charlie, she decided. They'd both started out like those cubes of ice: independent, strong, and resistant to outside force.
She'd been twenty-four, settled into a career at a small company where she got to research and investigate to her heart's content. Single and not looking for a relationship at all, she'd run into Charlie in Diagon Alley and sparks had flown. Even now, six years later, she couldn't remember how it had happened. There had been a look, a casual touch, and desire had flared. They'd ended up shagging in an alley near the store where they'd met, desperate and frantic.
That had started things. With every meeting thereafter, they'd begun to melt, to merge together, gradually becoming an 'us' instead of separate individuals. She'd fallen in love, the sex had been beyond amazing, and he was really one of the most wonderful people she'd ever met. Three months. That's all it had taken before they were getting married, planning a life together, talking about things she'd never even thought about.
Over five years of marriage, of happiness unlike any she'd expected to experience, and she still loved him, would always love him. But she'd started to lose to herself somewhere along the way. There was suddenly taking care of a house, sharing every aspect of her life with someone else, losing bits of herself along the way without even realizing it. She loved him so much that it scared her, that she feared losing all of the person she was if she continued along the path they'd set for themselves. After five years, she had woken up one day and not recognized the woman she had become.
It was a month, well, three weeks and two days, since she'd told him she had to leave, had to get away, had to be on her own again, had to think. To say he'd not understood was an understatement. There had been yelling, only the third time she'd ever seen Charlie lose his temper, and he'd looked so angry, so desperate for her to stay, so sad when she walked away. He'd tried finding her, had shown up at her job every day for the first week, owled her several times a day, but she refused to read the letters, refused to see him. She had to find herself again, to try to understand how she'd changed, to figure out how to make marriage work without becoming someone she didn't understand at all.
Then the letters had stopped. And, instead of being glad for the privacy, she'd felt her heart begin to break a little bit more with each passing day. Her constant for the past six years had been Charlie. He was stubborn, tenacious, never gave up when he wanted something. She'd been shocked when she received the formal parchment from a solicitor. He was requesting a divorce, hadn't even talked to her about it, hadn't given her a bloody chance to try to make things right. She'd been so stupid.
Leaving him hadn't done anything except break her heart. It had taken only two weeks for her to realize that she wasn't Hermione without him in her life. She hadn't had to go away to find herself, she'd just needed to stop living in past thoughts of a single and independent woman and realize she was different, yes, but it wasn't a bad thing.
The woman she had become was smart, had a great job, had a future with a man who practically worshipped her, had a chance to be happy with someone who loved her unconditionally. Now, it was gone. She sighed sadly as the ice in her glass finished melting, blinking back tears as she wished she had a time turner now so she could go back and never leave, never lose the thing that meant the most to her: Charlie.
"Enough," Charlie said softly. "Go, just go."
Looking up, she saw that he was talking to the solicitors and not her. He looked bloody awful. His hair was sticking up, his jaw unshaven, his eyes tired, and he looked older than his thirty-eight years.
"Is this what you want?" he asked quietly, his fingers running through his hair as the door shut behind the solicitors. "I've tried, Hermione. God, I've tried everything. I don't want to lose you but I don't have any fucking idea what went wrong, why you left, and I thought you wanted this, but I can't…I can't let you go without a bloody fight. If you want a divorce, you're going to have to fight me for it because you're mine, damn it. You're my wife, my lover, my best friend. I thought I could be mature, that I could hold my tongue and just be the gentleman about this but, God, I miss you so much."
"I never wanted this," she whispered as she took his hand, squeezing it, gasping at the pleasure of feeling his skin against hers again. "I just needed…I don't even know what I needed. I was scared, scared to death of losing myself because I love you so much, love being your wife, and I'd stopped being Hermione Granger and become Hermione Weasley and I had to run. I had to get away because it felt like I was suffocating, and I couldn't understand…I should never have left you, Charlie."
"Being with me was suffocating you?" he asked with a pained look. "I didn't…Hermione, I never thought…I thought you were happy, that i we /i were happy. And then you were packing and leaving and I felt like someone had ripped my bloody heart out of my chest."
"I was stupid," she sighed. "I thought I'd find the girl I used to be by leaving you but I finally realized that I'm not her anymore. I'm someone even better. I'm your wife, but I'm also still Hermione, just an improved version because you make everything better. I don't want a divorce, damn it. I want to come home."
"Are you…are you sure?" He tightened his grip on her hand. "I'm not letting you go if you come back, Hermione. I can't…I can't do this again."
Getting up from her seat, she walked around the table, sitting in his lap and kissing him slowly, letting him know all of her worries, fears, admiration, and love with just a touch of lips and tongue. Pulling back, she leaned her forehead against his, her hand caressing his cheek. "I've never letting you go again, Charlie. I'm sure. I love you."
"Love you, too, Hermione. So bloody much," he growled before kissing her again, passion flaring, happiness replacing the tears. "Never letting you go, love. Let's go home?"
Nodding, she took his hand, loving the way her hand fit perfectly with his, as if they were made for each other. "Let's go home."