She's found that she can do nothing by halves. postHBP oneshot, R/Hr.
I do not own Harry Potter or anything associated with it. I wish I owned Ron, though. I would take very good care of him. Also, the quote belongs to Aristotle, though at least I know he won't sue me for using it.
She's found that she can do nothing by halves. She lost the ability to feel, do, be halfway anything long ago. She's not sure exactly when or how or even why, but it is true.
Perhaps it was the warmth that filled her so completely in the aftermath of that Halloween night when she realized that for the first time she was a part of something. Perhaps it was the split-second ice that filled her body before the darkness of Petrification overcame her. Maybe it was the complete terror of the Shrieking Shack, the triumph of setting Sirius free, the warm femininity and then the bursting of the spell on Yule Ball night, the moment of pure nothingness that engulfed her as she realized what the Tri-Wizard Cup had cost, the fury that swept over her every time she laid eyes on Umbridge, the horror of the Dark Mark blazing green over Hogwarts, or the hopelessness of a limp body that had once been full to the brim of life carried in Hagrid's massive arms.
Maybe it was exasperation at Ron's pleading to copy her essays, anxiety over a summer of owls from Harry demanding news, the uselessness of trying to help her parents catch a glimpse of a life they could never understand, the lazy contentment of a night spent before a blazing fire in the Common Room, sitting in silence with her two best friends—her boys—her world—saying nothing, but with the air so full of unvoiced understanding that she seemed about to burst from the total rightness of it.
She doesn't know. All she knows is that somewhere between then and now, all her capacity to feel bits of emotions—almost happy, mildly melancholy, vaguely irritated, fairly hopeful—has been seared out of her by emotions too big and full for her small body and infinite soul.
And so she sits here and she's filled to the brim with weariness. So tired that she doesn't feel uneven packed dirt beneath her, splintery wood behind her, damp, frigid air around her.
So…tired…so tired she almost cannot focus her mind on this. The math keeps getting mixed up.
A container cannot hold more than one hundred percent of its capacity. Perhaps a measuring cup can be filled overflowing with flour, but not with water, and if it does, the flour is outside of the cup anyways, and besides—two hundred percent of a space? It is not possible.
It doesn't make much sense even in her mind, but she must work it out.
Because, though math was never her strong suit—her weapons, her tools, her shield, her passion is words—this is wrong, this arithmetic of emotions—wrong in her bones, for she can feel it in her fingertips and up her spine in the same way as when she writes an answer on her test and knows with this bone-deep certainty that it is wrong, even if she cannot think of the correct answer.
It is always the only question she misses, and she makes up for it with extra credit, and her grades do not suffer, and she is still at the head of her class, of the school. But she cannot get the question out of her head, and it eats away at her until she can get at the answer, tearing through the pages of whatever book to find it. She knows where it is, the page and the column, the paragraph, the sentence. She can picture it, but she can't remember what it is. And when she finds it, yes, she feels stupid for forgetting, and she berates herself more than she ought to—if Ron knew how much, he would be furious—but overwhelming all of that is a sense of relief so profound that she can't explain it.
Perhaps this answer is right there in front of her eyes, and all she has to do is remember where to find it.
The door creaks open, and she hears his footsteps, the tread she would recognize anywhere, heavier than hers or Harry's, so slightly arrhythmic that only she would ever notice. For some reason, she feels like crying when she hears it.
He slides down the wall beside her, splinters sticking into the thick wool of his coat, and she does not look up, but feels quite another kind of relief knowing he is there. His shoulder bumps hers, and he sighs.
It's the saddest sound in the world, melancholy blowing through her heart. He was never meant to sigh. He was meant to laugh and tease and blow up with temper and stutter with embarrassment and be steely determined. The tears slip out.
Here is her impossible problem again: she is totally and completely filled with sorrow at the sound of him sighing: one hundred percent. And she is also full to the brim with the relief that comes from knowing, if only for the moment, that he is here, beside her, whole. One hundred percent.
How can that be? How can she contain two hundred percent of her capacity? One plus one cannot equal one (her). It is impossible, and she's never done well with impossible. She remembers a quote from the once-upon-a-time land of Before the Hunt: That which is impossible and probable is better than that which is possible and improbable. It is little comfort now.
She hadn't noticed the tears until a big hand, warm—how is it warm? He was just outside—and rough and strong and very, very gentle cups her cheek, brushing them away. She sighs now, though it comes out closer to a sob, and leans into his hand. His other hand finds one of her tiny cold ones and entangles their fingers till she cannot tell where his end and hers begin.
He's here, and she's here, where they're meant to be, maybe, and all she can think about is, what if she loses him? Fear, a constant companion lurking in the background these days, springs forward, sinking claws into her and claiming her again. But he's here, and how can she help but feel this overwhelming security and rightness again?
It's her arithmetic, never leaving her alone. She is completely scared and completely secure, and how can she be both?
She hates not knowing the answers, hates not being right, not knowing. She remembers that once, before he died, Dumbledore—she feels a lance of grief at his memory—called her a "seeker after truth," and called it her very beautiful gift.
Of course, like all gifts, it feels like a curse now in her darkest hour. Because her mind can't let her emotions alone, demanding that they explain themselves, be held accountable. Her tears are falling faster now, and he shifts closer to her. How can he fill her with warmth when she's so very cold and has been since spring?
"Hermione," he breathes suddenly. "I'm here."
Sobs wrack her body now, and his arms are around her, enfolding her, swallowing her up as they were made to do, till she is so close she wonders if they have just one heart between them, pounding the same lifeblood. She buries herself in him and listens to the sound.
And it's then that her heart—emotions—soul—answers her brain's urgent demands.
There is no solution to her problem, despite what mathematicians say about there being an answer to every equation. There is none for this one, and if there is, it is simply too big for her finite mind to understand.
But her soul is infinite, she's always known that, and, her heart insists, if she just gets her mind out of the way—not throw it out, but let it take a different role this time—her soul will show her the truth.
The truth that the man she loves, the one holding her, perhaps cannot drive the fear, the cold, the sorrow away, but he can fill her up with security, warmth, relief, joy (love) as well, even if that is impossible. And that the other man, her best friend, curled up asleep in the corner, and her parents back at home, and her adopted family in the Burrow, her teachers and friends at school, can give her so much, as much as Voldemort's darkness forces upon her—one hundred percent—total—complete—whole—life.
And in the light of that truth, that she knew all along under the burdens of the world around her, the problem falls away, and she forgets all about arithmetic.
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