Author's Note: The primary hope of this piece is to tide 'Her and Me' fans over until the next installment. I'm almost ready to start posting; I promise!
This was going to be K until that one line snuck in at the end. Then it amused me, and I had to keep it.
The Full Set
She raised her fingers to the slick silver of the thing, and when she drew her hand away, a perfect thumbprint had smudged its way into being on the glass.
Determined things they were, fingerprints. And telling, if you knew who to ask.
That was, either a fortune teller or a forensics expert.
"Draco?" she prompted. The man in question, the trademark shock of disheveled lightning-blond hair sliding playfully into his eyes, looked up from the socks at which he had been tugging with the utmost of care and precision.
"Hermione?" he replied, and it was the unguarded openness, the automatic acceptance, bright on his face and refracted even stronger in the glass before her, that instilled in her the bravery to continue.
"Have you ever looked in a mirror…" she began, tentatively at best.
"Have I?" he cut in pleasantly, bouncing to his feet and scampering up behind her. "My dear, you behold the master of mirrors. Undisputed and unchallenged, scout's honor. The only person in history more adept at self-involvement was one Narcissus, sketchy Greek myth character—who, if you'll recall, bequeathed his gift for vanity, as well as his gift for bearing a name with far too many consonants, to my very mother."
"All right, Mirror Master," she conceded. "Have you ever looked into a mirror and wondered who you're seeing?"
He paused, and then he moved up behind her and wrapped both arms slowly, lingeringly, and intently around her waist like a safety harness. "You, Hermione Granger," he told her, "are the last person I know who ought to be looking in a mirror and worrying about reality and morality and identity and other words with that noun ending. You are a pillar of truth and the pinnacle of right, and you are so ideal as to encourage idolatry."
In the crystalline honesty of the glass, she saw a blush climb her face. "Sycophant," she said.
"You also," he noted, "have a greater quantity of big words at your disposal than does the average English teacher."
"You must have had some truly abysmal English teachers."
He brushed his lips along the curve of her neck, and goosebumps raced down both her arms. She lost track of which side won. "You're so self-deprecating," he murmured. "Why? You're important." His reflection raised its hands to her shoulders, sliding deft fingertips over her skin.
"To whom?" she inquired.
A flash of ivory teeth glinted in the mirror. "There you go again, you hopeless pedant," he remarked. She opened her mouth to protest, and he covered it with a warm hand. "You are important to me. Dreadfully important. Drastically important."
"You're overdramatic," she decided.
"You're gorgeous," he replied.
"Not in a million years, darling, let alone a good eighty-or-so."
"Really, though," she insisted. "I've never been anything but an encyclopedia. No one's ever asked me to be more than that."
"To me," he said, the pads of his fingertips whispering over her ear, "you are instead the Book of Marvels, every arbitrarily divided chapter, every engrossing moment, every exquisite word giving way to another just as dazzlingly coruscating as the last. If that, my darling, is an encyclopedia, I would like to purchase the full set." He grinned. "In hardcover."
"Cute," she informed him, distracted still by his soft, white hands.
"As are you," he responded.
A moment slipped away, as moments always do, caught on the sticky tongue of the second hand of the clock. They both watched in the mirror as his fingers brushed a few wispy hairs off of her forehead, and they kept watching as those hairs drifted back to the position they'd occupied before.
"You know what I see?" he asked, his voice low and quiet, still a gentle whisper in her ear, deep and subtle currents rumbling against her skin. "I should start with the beginning. Iused to see a very lost, very scared, very cowardly little boy, pulled in two directions, moving in another, one step above drawn and quartered, one step below valuable. Wrought and worthless. At the eye of a hurricane that was just beginning to shift." There was a pause—a long pause—during which he slid his fingers through her hair, engrossed with and enthralled by it, tangles snaring his fingers until he gently coaxed them loose. "Nowadays," he went on, more softly still, "I see something different."
He gave her a moment to prompt him, and she accepted it obligingly. "Now what do you see?" she inquired.
This time, his smile was small, sweet, cautious, and vulnerable. "I see," he answered, "a young man who is valuable because he belongs to a woman as wonderful as this one. Because she wants him. Because she cares. And that, I think, is enough to validate an existence."
She turned the idea over for a few seconds, watching the light play off of its facets.
"Are you sure?" she asked.
"No," he said calmly. "Not entirely. Relatively sure, I suppose. And I think that's enough."
"It's enough," she summarized, slightly bewilderedly, "to be loved?"
"Quite," he concluded. He considered. "Which is not to say," came the revision, "that I don't still want the whole collection of encyclopedias. I could do with ten or twelve more of you."
"I think one of you is plenty," she noted contentedly.
"But think," he insisted, "of all the kinky sex—"
"—I mean, um, intellectual panel discussions… that we could have."
"Think of it this way," she bid him. "There would be a dozen of me to disagree with you."
His smile disappeared instantaneously, faster even than chocolate in the hands of one Remus J. Lupin. "Oh, good God," he said. "Never mind."
She grinned. "Looks like I'll have to do."
"You," he decided, wrapping his arms around her tightly again and meeting her eyes in the mirror, "will do wonderfully."