It's Just One of Those Things
Disclaimer: All obvious characters belong to their creators, Joss Whedon and J.K Rowling
Time line: After Season Two Buffyverse. Book Seven Harryverse.
Spoilers: Obviously. Its inevitable isn't?
Note: I'd just like to start off by saying this was a dream I had, and had the sudden urge to share. So if you could just go with the flow, it would be appreciated. I mean, dreams aren't always perfect right?
Warning: Very angsty.
The large half-giant was out of place as he stomped through the snow. His huge body making the small children feel even smaller. But if he cared he made no indication of it. He had only one thing on his mind. Or one person exactly.
He arrived at the door in no time flat. Magic would've been easier but he was afraid of what he might find if he had just popped in there. No, this was better. He knocked on the door three times. There was no answer for four minutes. So he knocked again. Then, finally, the dingy wood was slowly pried open and what he found was the unrecognizable face of someone who seemed like a stranger now. And he wondered if maybe it was too late.
Nine months ago.
That's when the first tear in Harry's world had started.
The war was over. They had won.
She came into his life almost two months before the tear had appeared. A letter in hand by an old man that was dead, but had left in her, one last surprise.
Her name was Buffy. A slayer. And they were shocked in finding out how good of a slayer she was.
She saved his life. On more than occasion actually. But there was a particular one that stood out in his mind.
They had been attacked by vampires. He had been cornered by three of them. His wand feet away from him. He was trapped. The largest of the three had its fangs on his neck. He could feel the prickle on his skin. And then the vampire was gone. Then the next one. And the next one. All that was left was a cloud of dust. And then he saw her. Standing there with her stake in hand, poised for action. That was the first day he had met her. That was when the domino first fell.
Ron and Hermione liked her immediately. She was funny, brave and warm. They had no qualms when Harry had asked her to join them on their little escapade for the hunt. All she did was shrug and say that she had nothing better to do. Might as well.
Through the weeks together they became close. She was a little hesitant at first. Confessing she had just lost someone close to her. And he told her he had lost so many he lost count. They would both patrol the streets at night when she would become restless. He, using the excuse that none of them should be out and alone right now. At one point, one night, he couldn't remember how it happened, but he had held her hand. It was soft and delicate and he was afraid he would break it, slayer or not. He slept smiling that night.
And then another starry filled night, sometime in April, he kissed her. It was quick and soft. A random kiss that was fueled by curiosity. She pulled back and apologized. Stuttering that she wasn't ready yet. He smiled, tucked a hair behind her ear, nodded and held her hand again as they walked back to camp.
A few days after the incident she kissed him. They were outside again. She stopped in the middle of a street. A look of realization on her face. He was sure she had felt someone close by with her 'spidey sense' as she liked to call it, and with her hand in his he waited. But she didn't say a word. Instead she turned to him, slowly and hesitantly, she leaned in. He stopped breathing and watched as her addictive lips leaned into him. His mind stopping completely as he felt them on his own. Her one free hand cupped his face. His free one buried in her hair. It was better than the first one. He was sure of that. And once again he fell asleep smiling that night.
There were many kisses after that.
They were heading back to Hogwarts. They had a job to finish. But the night before was all theirs. Maybe it was the fear of what tomorrow might bring. Maybe it was the impulsiveness of something new. Maybe it was just the need to feel close to someone. Maybe it was just right.
Harry and Buffy gave into each other that night. All past forgotten and future uncertain. It was slow and sweet. It wasn't fireworks but it wasn't supposed to be. It was just . . . right.
The next morning he awoke to find her looking at him. Her hair slightly rumpled, the bed sheet covering only half her body as she looked at him curiously. He asked her what was the matter, and she asked him if he was evil. He would've laughed if it hadn't been for the vulnerable tone in her voice. He took her hand and firmly said no. Relief filled her face and she lay next to him. Her head on his chest as he stroked her hair. It was just right.
He never asked why she had asked him a question like that. He never actually cared. All he knew was that when he woke up she was there. And that was all he cared about.
They argued constantly. They were both too hot headed for their own good. She had to be right, and so did he. Sometimes Ron and Hermione wondered if that's what they looked like to other people. And if they did, Harry must've had the patience of a saint.
They may have had a lot in common, but they were not alike. She was calm and understanding. He was overprotective and temperamental. It was like a tornado on water. The liquid would swirl and swirl, but after it was done, it would end just where it had started. Calm and ready for the next one to arrive. It was unpredictable, but it was in some way comforting. It was what they were used to. And besides, the kisses always made everything better.
The Battle of Hogwarts was hard. People were lost. Remus, Tonks, and Fred were gone. It was unfair and painful.
Harry had died. Sacrificed himself.
Of course he came back. And when he told the others of what had happened after it was all over, Buffy reacted like it was an everyday thing. That's when she told them she had died, sacrificed herself, and came back. It was a weird day.
Then came the part where it all came crashing down.
The battle was over, but there were still Death Eaters that needed to be captured. Buffy, Harry, Ron, Hermione and a few others set out again. For weeks at a time. It was hard work, but somebody had to do it.
They were ambushed. A group of Death Eaters had formed and attacked. Neville had been injured. So had Ginny and George. Buffy had disappeared.
The Death Eaters were turned over by the others. Harry, Ron and Hermione looked for her. They had been attacked in a field. Tall un-mowed grass had grown wild and thick, making it even more difficult to find her. Then Hermione spotted a barn house several feet away. Looming in the distance.
Harry had run faster than he could've ever remembered running. He was out of breath by the time he arrived. Ron and Hermione not faring much better when they stopped as well.
There seemed to be a large amount of people there. Most of them not much older then themselves, and also familiar. They were Hogwarts students, well most of them. The three of them asked if they had seen a small blond girl. Then there were immediate nods. Relief shot through him. They had found her, and soon after the relief was gone.
A small group of the recently met strangers walked them to the back of the barn house. Laying on a bed of hay was Buffy. Her face so bloody and bruised that half of it was red. Her clothing torn in places and the palm of her hands looked like they had been dipped in red paint.
He rushed to her. His scared eyes looking over every inch of her wounded body. He raised his hand slowly ready to touch her, but jerked it back. Afraid the slightest touch from him might cause her more pain.
Then he came.
His name was Thomas. Harry didn't recognize him, and soon he found out Thomas had gone to Durmstrang. He was tall with dark blonde hair and brown eyes. His accent was Scottish. And for some reason Harry didn't trust him. He should've listened to his instincts.
The Scottish man in his early twenties, explained the little commune they had going on. The barn was used as a refuge for those who had been left parentless. They took care of each other. Thomas was one of four 'adults' who were old enough to take of the younger ones. It was a haven where they could heal the battle wounds Voldemort had left behind. It was nice. Even Hermione had approved.
Slowly, Buffy stirred awake. She groaned and murmured nonsense. But there was definitely an 'ow' in there.
Worried, Harry asked if she was all right, and she gave him a look. He chuckled and apologized. Being covered in wounds definitely meant she wasn't all right.
He wanted to take her home. But as soon as he went to pick her up in his arms, she moaned in pain.
Thomas suggested she stay behind. At least until she got better. He said they had become good at healing wounds. Unfortunately having had the practice.
Harry was unsure. He didn't know these people, and Buffy was too injured to protect herself. She needed immediate medical attention. Good medical attention. But it was becoming clear she was in no state to move.
She agreed with the not moving part, and tried to convince Harry to let her stay behind. Had even rallied Ron and Hermione to her side. He didn't like it. He knew it was a bad idea. But eventually he gave in.
Harry told her he'd come back to check on her every day. He told her he loved her and kissed her on the one non-bloody spot on her forehead. She smiled and said she would miss him. And that he better bring candy the next time he came by.
And then he did the stupidest thing he'd ever done.
He handed her over to Thomas. And he walked away.
She was getting better. The days he'd stop by he could see the wounds healing. Even with her slayer advantage, those injuries had been caused by magic and tended to take a little more time to disappear.
She was glowing. He hadn't seen her for a few days. The Death Eater hunt and the clean up of the Ministry taking up more of his time. She was happy. Her eyes sparkling again, and he smiled every time he thought about it. She was getting better.
He should've seen it coming, but was too relieved to see her healed again to notice much of anything else. She had integrated herself into the little family. She was fully healed and when he saw her, neither one of them mentioned anything about her leaving. He thought about it, but was too busy to give his full attention to it, and just as quickly the thought was gone. He should've never let that happen.
He was gone for two months straight. A dangerous group of wizards had been reeking havoc in Brazil. He didn't even tell her he was leaving. He figured it would only last a week at the most.
He should've never gone.
She was glowing. Happy. Healthy. It should've been a warning.
He went to see her the moment he had returned. To apologize profusely. He was positive she would've been angry. But she wasn't. Another bad sign.
They were standing underneath the shade of a tree. Her hair flowing with the breeze. Her dress following the lead. She was glowing. And she stuttered. And he definitely knew something was wrong.
She was engaged.
The air left his lungs and a weight settled on his chest.
She said that he made her happy. They had gotten to know each other as he took care of her. He was a good man. He cured her. Helped her to recover. Was there when she needed someone the most. And when Thomas told her that he loved her. And asked if she would marry him she said yes.
He still couldn't breathe. It was a miracle he hadn't passed out. He was angry. So angry. He felt betrayed. Hurt. How was it possible that he was still standing.
She apologized. Said that she never meant for it to happen. That it was just one of those things.
He never knew he could hate her. He probably didn't, but it was damn well close.
There was no ring on her finger. He didn't ask why. He didn't care.
They stood quiet beneath the shade of the tree. She was nervous. He could tell by the way she fiddled with her hands. He was angry. She could tell by the way he refused to speak, refused to look at her.
Finally, after he regained oxygen. And swallowed the boulder in his throat, he looked at her. And even in his rage she looked beautiful. Then he spoke. It burned his throat and came out like sandpaper. But he felt it with all his heart.
You don't love him. He said.
And then he was gone.
He didn't go back after that.
He was a mess. A recluse in his godfather's home. Where it was dark and he could be alone
They all noticed it. And they understood why. He needed time. That's what they would say. It heals with time.
Hermione found him in his bedroom. Sitting on his bed with that damn bottle in his hand. She shouldn't be here. But she had asked her to do it. Unfair as it was. So she braved it with the envelope in hand.
It had been over three weeks since he had been reduced to what he had become. All because of her.
Hermione should've hated her. But she couldn't. Not after everything they've been through. Not after hearing her side of the story. Harry was her best friend and she wanted to protect him. But Buffy had reasons and Hermione understood them. That's why she was here.
She's getting married next week. She said.
He took a swig.
It's at the Barn House.
It's on Saturday in case . . . it's all on the invitation.
He took another drink.
She hated seeing him like this. But nothing she or Ron did helped. Nothing anybody did helped.
She left the white envelope on his dresser. Propped up against a book end. And with a sad resigning look she left him to his misery.
He looked at the white envelope with disdain. Stared so hard that he was sure it would catch flames.
With the bottle in his hand he walked over to it. Picked it up as he eyed it hatefully. Then he noticed there was another envelope attached to it. But he didn't care. It was useless. Most likely more words of apology and a pleading for him to understand.
He thought about throwing it away. Burning it until her words turned to ash.
He took another drink and shoved into a drawer. Past the socks. All the way to the back. He'd throw it away later.
He worked. Went home. Drank. Ate . . . rarely. And slept.
That was his life. It was pathetic. And yet, he didn't care.
Every day after work he hoped to find her waiting. It didn't matter where. The living room, the kitchen, the bedroom. She would be waiting for him. Ready to beg his forgiveness with tears in her eyes. Then he would hold her. And kiss her. And carry her up to his bed and make up for all their lost time.
He never found her waiting.
The wedding came and went. He spent the entire day drinking in bed. No one came to see him. It was better that way.
That was three months ago.
They were wrong. Nothing healed with time.
Now he stood at his recently opened doorway. Bitter at whoever interrupted his dark time.
"Hello Harry," Hagrid cheerily boomed.
Was the sun always so bright? Must be the hangover.
Squinting up to the half-giants face Harry greeted him with a humph. And turned back inside. Leaving the door wide open. He didn't welcome people into his house verbally anymore. Buffy had taught him that.
"How are yeh?" Hagrid asked closing the door behind him and following Harry to the sitting room.
"Fine," he muttered, going to a small round table and pouring himself a glass. "Would you like one?" he asked, not really caring but did so out of custom.
"No, thank yeh. I'm all right," he said worriedly.
Harry shrugged and moved over to a well-worn armchair that hadn't been so well worn before.
"Yeh needs to snap yerself out o' this Harry," he said, as he stood before him. "It's not good for yeh."
Harry took a drink, and kept quiet. It's not like he hasn't heard this before.
"Everyone's worried abou' yeh."
"Tell Hermione that I'm fine," he said as he fiddled with his glass. "Tell her to stop sending people over."
"She's worried abou' yeh. We all are."
He took a drink again. And then swirled the liquid against the tumbler.
"We care abou' yeh. We worry. Yeh need to . . . " Part of him was afraid to say it. But it needed to be said. "Yeh needs to move on."
Harry's eyes had been focused on the amber in his glass. But when he heard those last words he snapped his attention to Hagrid. His green eyes hardening.
And Hagrid was a little afraid. But Harry was more important than his fear.
"Yeh need to confront everythin' an' move on. Yeh need to let it go."
The glass still held a substantial amount and with one gulp Harry finished it all.
He cleared his throat.
"Tell Hermione that I don't want any more people coming to my house. I'm done listening to lectures and concerns."
He got up and walked to the table again. Pouring another glass.
Hagrid sighed and shook his head. It didn't work. Hermione had even warned him it wouldn't but he at least had to try.
"It's over Harry. Yeh need to see tha'," Hagrid told him sadly as he walked over to the door. "Yeh need to move on."
The door closed with a thud. And Harry was alone again.
The glass was touching his lips. But he couldn't drink. He smacked it back down and some of the liquid splashed out.
He ran a hand through his disheveled hair and over his stubbled face.
'Yeh need to confront everythin' an' move on.'
The need came out of nowhere. It popped into him like a sneeze, and he had to know.
He was up the stairway and in his room before he even realized what he was doing.
He pulled the drawer open with such force that it nearly tumbled out of its holding.
Pushing socks and underwear aside, he found it. Crisp and clean. And unwanted.
With the letter in his hands he went to his bed and sat down. He didn't bother with the invitation so he tossed it aside. What he really wanted was the curious envelope stuck to it. The smaller one that lay blank without a label.
Rubbing his face one more time he cleared his throat and tore the envelope open.
Her small bubbly writing filling only half the page.
There's nothing I could say except I'm sorry. I never meant to hurt you. I hope you can forgive me.
Thomas really is a good man, and he makes me happy. He's always there when I need him. He's compassionate and understanding. And that's what I need. Someone I can rely on.
He loves me. And I know he'll take care of me. He'll make sure that I have everything I need. He treats me so well. Better than I would've expected.
I care for him deeply. And I'm happier around him.
It's not complicated. It is what it is. It's easy. It's what I need.
I hope one day you can understand. And maybe you'll forgive me.
I'll understand if you don't come to the wedding. I guess, I wouldn't really expect you to.
Be safe. Take care.
He should've burned it.
He crumpled the paper in his hand as he replayed her words.
She was happy while he was miserable.
He definitely should've burned it.
Something nagged at him. A tiny little flag waving in his brain. Something in that letter wasn't right.
He smoothed the sheet out again. Read over her words once, twice, three times.
Then it came to him. He knew it all along.
There wasn't time to change his clothes or take a shower. He had to do it before he changed his mind. Before he decided wether it was a mistake or not.
The Barn House. It had been a while.
The field of flowers and smell of fresh air made his stomach turn.
He walked up to the white door. Grabbing all the courage the remaining alcohol in his system had left him.
He knocked three times. Waited.
He knocked again. Waited.
The door pried open. Behind it a girl he didn't recognize from the time he had spent here visiting Buffy, while she healed, while she spent time with him.
"Can I help you?" her young voice asked.
"I'm looking for Buffy."
Her blue eyes traveled over him. Unsure of the new stranger. She opened the door wider as a form of entrance. He must've passed the test. But by her nonverbal invitation it seems that Buffy had taught them well. And he wondered if they knew the truth about her.
"You can wait in there," she said, pointing to an open room on his left. "I'll go get her."
And she left in a flash of pigtails.
The room was large. Two full sofas and three armchairs. The living room he guessed. There were a stack of books in a corner. Toys and drawing items in another. And on top of the chimney a row of pictures. He knew he shouldn't, but did so nonetheless.
Standing amidst the smiling faces of children young and old, was Buffy and Thomas. Their arms wrapped around each other. Her in a white dress, him in dress robes. It tore at him.
Three months. Three weeks. Four days.
It was surreal hearing her voice again. It was soft and low. He remembered how it sounded after she woke up next to him. He loved the scratchy way it came out. He told her it was sexy once. She made a point to say something to him every morning after that.
He turned to face her. She was glowing. And it burned. Her eyes were sparkling. Her skin tanner from sunny days on a field. Her hair long and flowing naturally in the way he loved. In the way it looked right after she took a shower and before she did whatever she did to it.
His hands were tingling and his insides felt like melted chocolate. It was unfair how she still made him feel.
"I can't believe you're here," she smiled.
Her heart felt like it would burst. Tingles running over every inch of her insides. It had been too long since she laid eyes on him. He was still perfect.
Which made everything that much more harder. The truth more difficult.
"You don't love him."
The smile fell from her face. And she began to fiddle with the golden band around her ring finger.
She was nervous. That meant something.
"Harry . . . "
He couldn't do this to her. Not now. Not ever. She made her decision. That was that.
"You don't love him."
He wasn't going to stop. She knew that.
Someone would hear them. She couldn't do that to Thomas.
"Follow me," she said lowly.
And he did.
She led him to a room in the back. Away from eyes and ears.
"I'm happy," she told him. Both of them alone in room stacked with books. "I'm happy here okay. My life's actually good. I have a routine where my breakfast is ready at eight and my dinner at six. I'm happy here."
"You don't love him."
"Stop saying that," she nearly screamed. "Can't you just–stop!"
Her face was flushed and she was breathing heavy from restraining herself. She looked beautiful.
Harry felt his fingers tingling again.
"I'm sorry that I hurt you. I never meant for any of this to happen. It just sorta did," she said calmly. "But I'm happy now."
"I read your letter."
She knew it was a bad idea from the start. She remembered staring at the worded page, and knew she would regret it in the future. But it was done. Handed over to Hermione and off to Harry.
"I read it four times," he continued when she hadn't spoken.
"Good," she nodded. "Now it means that you understand."
"No, I don't."
He was skinnier. His hair more disheveled than normal.
His skin was sallow. A layer of stubble on his once clean shaven face. And his green eyes were bloodshot.
Hermione had lied. He wasn't doing well.
"What do you want Harry?" she asked, and he noticed the tired note in her voice.
"Tell me that you love him."
The air escaped her for a second. Her throat clogging thickly. And she was angry.
"Get out," she told him.
She refused to look at him. It was a good sign.
He didn't move. He just looked at her. The glow had left her. And her shoulders slumped. She looked unhappy.
He looked at her and then he left.
She heard the door closing, and she lowered herself down the wall. Her head resting on her propped up knees.
It made everything that much harder. And she realized that she had said she was happy a total of four times in less than half an hour.
It wasn't going to stop.
He worked. Went home. Drank. Slept. That was it.
He sometimes imagined to find her there waiting when he came home. Pleading for his forgiveness with tears in her eyes.
Three days after he saw her. He did. But she wasn't remorseful. She was angry.
He walked into the sitting room and froze.
She was dressed in a deep green sun dress. Her hair flowing down in the way he loved. She was sitting in the well-worn armchair that hadn't been so well worn before.
"You had no right," she said.
He snapped out of his admiration. His surprised widened eyes drooping to normal. And quietly he walked over to the round table and poured himself a drink.
"You don't love him."
He swallowed a heavy amount.
"It's not always about love," she said.
He snorted at her confession.
"It's easier. It's comforting," she continued.
"It's not enough," he argued.
She rose up from the chair and wrapped her arms around herself. Forcing her hands to keep to themselves.
"I had complicated once, and I couldn't do it again. I care about him and he loves me. I need that right now."
"What about later?" he asked. His tone tight with barely restrained anger from her weak words. "Will easier be enough later?"
"Maybe," she said defiantly. "But I know him. I don't worry around him."
"What's that supposed to mean?" he clipped.
"It means that I don't have to watch myself," she told him, and finally let it out. "Watch what I say. What I do. Worry if a certain tone in my voice will be taken the wrong way and I'll have to be the one to apologize over and over again."
"That's not how it was."
He remained quiet as he breezed through past memories. Past arguments.
"I couldn't do it anymore. I couldn't keep walking on a ledge around you. I couldn't . . . " she fiddled with her hands again. "I couldn't keep coming in second best."
He was blind sighted. Was that how she felt?
"It's selfish I know," she went on. "But with him I come in first. And I like how that feels."
"You were never second," his thick voice said.
"It's not your fault. You just never saw it. You're a hero. You always will be, and I know what that's like. You don't even realize when you put other people before your own needs. And that's one of the things I admire about you," she confessed. "But it wasn't only your needs that were being passed over. And I couldn't be the only one putting us first."
He felt his eyes burning. Her voice wrapping around him and choking his insides.
She watched him. The heaviness of her confession settling on his face. It wasn't fair, but he needed to know. Maybe then she could move on.
They didn't speak. The room was filled with their confusion and regrets. Heavy ghosts that still held them.
She pried her eyes from him. It was hard but she had to. She walked over to the doorway and was ready to let it go.
"Tell me you don't love me," he said.
He was still facing the dirty floor but he saw her small form leaving the room. He couldn't just let it go.
Her chest felt like it caved in. The air was difficult to breathe. She was frozen at the doorway with her back to him.
"Tell me you don't love me," he repeated. Challenging her opposition.
She forced her reactions to remain still, and she turned to him. His beautiful blood shot eyes meeting hers.
"What do you want from me Harry?" she pleaded, her eyes nearing tears.
"I want you to tell me that you don't love me," he brokenly said. "I want you to tell me that marrying Thomas wasn't a mistake. That every night you lay awake in bed you don't look over to him and wish it were me. That every time he touches you, you don't feel guilty. That you don't dream about me at night. That you don't wish it was my face you saw every morning when you first open your eyes. I want you to tell me he's the one you love and not me."
He waited. The glass he once held in his hand now abandoned on the table. His heart on its very edge. His desire driving him mad.
He couldn't do this to her. It was cruel. It wasn't fair.
"Please Harry . . . " she begged. Slow tears running down her face.
She didn't need to say it. He already knew.
Harry rushed to her. Both of his hands buried in her hair as he kissed her. Her sweet delicious mouth once again pressed against his own. It had been too long since he felt her warm lips and he groaned in satisfaction.
It didn't matter that his breath still held the slight taste of alcohol. It didn't matter that his stubbled face was scratching her delicate skin. It didn't matter that she was married now and that it was wrong. All she could think about was how good he felt. How his demanding mouth was pooling her insides. How if she didn't get to feel all of him she would burst.
It was a blur. Her legs wrapping around his waist. Their bodies going up the stairs to his bedroom. Their last chance of stopping slipping away.
He slipped the dress off of her. Kissing every new piece of skin that was revealed to him. His insides quivering with every sigh that escaped her lips.
She removed his sweater and peeled of his shirt. Her hands traveling over inch of him. Her passion growing when she heard him groan in pleasure as she lay hot kisses on his neck.
There wasn't a piece of skin he hadn't touched. Not a square inch his lips hadn't traveled over. Not a single part of him where he hadn't felt her.
She needed to feel him. Every curve. Every hidden space. With her hands. Her mouth. With every part of her body that was able to. And in one glorious second, when it was really too late to turn back, they were no longer separated. And they both gasped in fulfillment.
It lasted from evening to morning. A new touch starting as soon as the last sigh had finished. And it still wasn't enough.
She lay her head on his bare chest as he stroked her back with the arm that was wrapped around her. His other hand stroking the back of hers as it rested on his stomach. Her soft scent all he could smell.
It was perfect. But it wouldn't last.
Without a word she untangled herself from him, and slowly moved off the bed.
He didn't say a word as he watched her. His green eyes looking her over as she slipped her clothes back on. Placed her shoes on her feet. Ran her fingers through her hair to smooth it out.
She didn't turn back to look at him. They both knew why.
Walking over to the door they had left open, she paused.
"This can't happen again," she said. And then she was gone.
But it did.
Once every other week. Then once a week. Then three/four times a week.
He would come home and find her in bed. Her shoes off as she flipped through the TV he bought once but never used.
Without a word he would take the remote from her hands, shut off the TV and toss it aside. Then he would kiss her, and she would melt under his arms. She would let him do whatever he wanted. And he would let her fulfill any desires she had in mind.
She would sometimes leave things behind. Unconsciously as she left the next morning. A pair of socks he had placed in with his. A hat that hung on the back of the bedroom door. A black scarf he placed next to his shirts.
Whenever he came home, he went straight to the bedroom. Disappointed when she wasn't there, but got by knowing she would be the next day.
He hadn't been sleeping well. If it wasn't because she spent the night, it was because she hadn't. But he didn't mind it.
He never knew how long she waited. To be honest he never cared as long as she still did.
He noticed the little things though.
Dirty clothes no longer decorating the bedroom floor. Dust cleared away. The bed however always remained unmade.
Dishes in the sink washed and stored. The food, whatever he had, nibbled on. He began to stock up his kitchen when he noticed that.
He wasn't drinking as much. Only on the nights when she wasn't there.
They didn't talk much either. If at all.
He noticed that she never had a ring on her finger. If she took it off before she came here he didn't know. Didn't ask. Didn't care.
It was unhealthy. They both knew it. It was an addiction. One they were in too deep to go without. One they refused to go without.
Then it stopped.
He didn't see her for a week.
He started drinking again. The food spoiled. And his bedroom was a mess.
He thought about going to the Barn House. Maybe something was wrong. Or maybe she decided she couldn't do it anymore.
He began to hate her again.
He took the items that were hers, ones he held onto, and threw them in a box. Locked them in a closet, and refused to see them.
She had betrayed him again.
He hated going home. More so than ever. She wouldn't be there waiting for him. And he could still smell her on the bed sheets.
It was cruel.
He closed the door behind him. Tired and ready to drink himself into oblivion. When he moved into the living room, he knew she was there but didn't make an indication of it. He moved to the bottles and grabbed his drink.
"She's married," Hermione said, as she stood in the near dankness.
"I know," he answered roughly.
"You shouldn't 've let it get as far as it did."
"I didn't force her to come here."
He was right. But he didn't turn her away either.
"You need to move on. You both do."
He laughed. A humorless sound that she felt sympathy for.
"You make it sound like it's easy," he said.
"You have to try."
"She did, and look where that ended up."
"She never tried. We both know that." She took a deep breath and grabbed her courage. "She would ask about you when you were apart. Every time I saw her. And I knew she hadn't moved on."
She knew. She knew he still had a chance and she didn't say anything.
Then it dawned on him. And he felt his eyes begin to burn.
"You told her to stop coming here," he nearly growled.
Again Hermione took a deep breath and gathered her strength. "Yes."
The glass in his hand cracked slightly.
His green eyes narrowed heatedly, and his face hardened. But she wouldn't be deterred.
"Get out," he ordered.
"I'm serious Hermione."
"So am I."
He slammed the glass down on the table, and ran a hand over his face. Trying hold onto his anger before he did something he would later regret.
She had never been afraid of Harry before. But she was at the receiving end of his anger now, and for the first time she feared for her life.
"You don't understand," he said.
"No. I don't. But what I do know is that what you were doing wasn't fair to either of you. Buffy made her choice. You both have to live with that."
"You mean suffer through it," he corrected. "She's not happy."
Hermione pursed her lips. Buffy wasn't happy. She pretended to be. And was rather good at it. And if it hadn't been for the fact that whenever Hermione said Harry's name, Buffy would stiffen and her eyes would turn gray, she would've believed it.
"She'll learn to be."
Harry hated that.
Hermione saw things as black and white. She didn't see that sometimes not everything was so clear cut.
And when she said those last four words he almost hated her.
"It's not that simple," he told her.
"Moving on never is."
"How would you know?" he snapped. "You've been in love with one person your whole life and you married him. You don't know what it's like to be in love with someone who you know for a fact loves you, but you can't be with them because they're married to someone else. You don't know how much it kills you to not have them in your life. And to have it kill you even more when you have them in your arms for a night and then have to watch them leave time and time again . . . tell me Hermione. How do you move on from that?"
Her heart broke a little. She hated seeing him like this. It wasn't fair.
Buffy was just as bad, but then again she was good at hiding it.
It was she who had told Hermione about the affair. And as much as Harry and Buffy loved each other, it was still an affair. A break of her martial vow.
Buffy was in tears when she appeared on her doorstep. And sobbed roughly onto her shoulder as they sat on the couch.
And after she had confessed everything, Hermione had told her to leave him alone. It was the right thing to do. It was unfair to both of them to continue their meetings. She was married now, and she had a commitment to follow.
Tired, wounded, and confused Buffy agreed. She left that same day. And Hermione knew she had to be the bad guy.
Later on that same night Hermione shed a few tears of her own. It was hard to be around Buffy and Harry's pain and not have it seep into you just a little.
"I don't know," she sadly replied. "But you have to. What you both want, you can't have. And it's unfair to keep pretending that everything's okay."
He felt his eyes moisten and he sniffled. Pushing them back.
"It was never enough," he said. "We'd forget while we were together. It was easier to. But the next morning . . . we wanted more. I wanted more. And we tricked ourselves into believing it was enough. That something was better than nothing."
He dragged himself to the armchair and sagged into it. Burying his head in his hands.
"I'm sorry," she said, walking over to him and squatting down to meet his covered face. "I can't begin to imagine what it's like. If Ron had married someone else . . . " Just the thought of it hurt, and Hermione realized that what Harry must be feeling was a million times worse. "But you can't keep living like this. You have to accept things as they are, and move on. It's not doing you any good to hold on to the past."
He lowered his hands and rested them on his knees. His eyes red from restrained tears.
"I love her Hermione," he brokenly said.
"I know." She felt her heartbreaking again. "But it's over Harry."
She swallowed harshly when she saw him bury his face into his hands again.
She stayed with him for the reminder of the night. Close by in case he needed her. He didn't pick up a single drink. He just sat in the darkness with his face in his hands.
She left before the sun rose. On Harry's insistence. He said he would be all right. And that Ron was mostly likely worried by now.
He needed time alone.
Hermione told him that she loved him, and would be here in a flash if he needed anything. And then she was gone.
He rose up from the seat that held his imprint and slowly walked upstairs. The house a little brighter now from the morning sun.
He stopped two steps into the bedroom. The bed was unmade, unwashed. He could see her mirage sitting there flipping through the TV.
His throat ached and his eyes watered.
Blinking, the image was gone.
With heavy footsteps he went into the bathroom. He faced his reflection. His eyes no longer passing over the mirror, but taking a hard look.
He was a mess.
His skin was pale. His eyes bloodshot. Stubble that seemed to be permanent on his face. His hair more disheveled than normal.
He took off his glasses. Turned the cold tap on. Let the water flow out for a minute as he continued to stare at himself.
Cupping his hands beneath the run he lowered himself to the sink and splashed the cool water on his face.
He looked up at himself. Droplets of water running down his face.
"It's over," he told himself.
He swallowed harshly and felt his eyes burning again. The pain squeezing his heart.
Leaning down he splashed water on his face one more time.
He was getting better.
His face was once again clean shaven. His hair back to the normal dishevelment that it was. His skin gaining back some color. He stopped drinking . . . mostly.
He went over to Hermione and Ron's for dinner. Went to the Weasley house on occasion. His work was improving.
He cleaned up the house. Swept the floors, dusted the shelves. Washed his clothes and opened the windows. The hardest part was washing the sheets. The sheets that still smelled of her. He put it off for as long as he could. Then one Sunday afternoon, he took a deep breath and slowly removed the white cotton sheets, pillowcases, blanket and blue comforter from his bed. And he washed them.
They smell of fabric softener now.
Every last trace of vanilla was gone.
He made himself a drink after that. But only one.
They told him to start dating again
He tried it once. It didn't go so well. He had forgotten her name the next day.
He wasn't ready. Not yet. Maybe one day.
He was balancing the paper bag with one arm as he tried to open the door with the other. Finally, he slipped the key in, turned it and walked inside the house. Kicking the door behind him as he made his way to the kitchen.
He placed the bag on the table as he opened the refrigerator door, and soon began to place the items inside the cool white box. When he finished, he folded the bag and placed it with the others underneath the sink.
He had just stepped onto the ground floor landing when he heard a knock on his door.
Must be Hermione checking on him again.
She really needed to stop doing that.
Steeling himself for her mothering, he took a deep breath as he grasped the doorknob. And letting it out, he pulled the door open.
It definitely wasn't Hermione.
Forty three days.
He hadn't seen her. Hadn't heard from her. Had to force himself not to ask about her every time he saw Hermione.
Forty three days since Hermione had told him to that it was over. Since he tried to move on.
She was now standing on his doorstep and everything came crashing down. Again.
He looked different. Better. Healthier. His hair was back to messy normal. His eyes were clear and bright. He looked like a new man.
She was a mess.
Her skin was pale. Her hair stringy and flat. Dark circles underneath her eyes. She was thinner. Her blue dress slightly hanging off her body.
She had never felt so self-conscious in her life.
"Hi," she greeted shyly.
His hand was still on the doorknob. Shock evident on his face. His mind still trying to catch up with his eyes.
"Hi," he replied dazedly.
She wrapped her arms around herself and shifted from one foot to another.
"Can I come in?"
Snapping out of his stupor, he opened the door wider and let her through. And as he closed the door after her, he swallowed the lump in his throat and steeled his wild insides.
It was cleaner. Sure she was only in the hallway, but it was noticeable. The floor was almost shining. The heavy layer of dust gone. Items disposed of. He did a good job.
"What are you doing here?" he asked.
It was like a bolt to her chest. And her guilty mind immediately took the question the hurtful way.
"I wanted to see how you were doing," she replied. "It's been a while."
He stuffed his hands into his pockets. Disappointed.
"So . . . h-how 've you been?"
He scratched the back of his head.
"Good. I've been doing good."
"That's good," she smiled weakly.
She fiddled with her hands. Her emotions coming faster, but she forced them back.
"I've been good."
"Good," he nodded.
It was awkward and oppressed. Quiet had never been so uncomfortable to them before.
"I like what you've done," she told him, glancing around the room. "It looks nice."
"Thanks," he smiled sheepishly. "I've been keeping myself busy."
She nodded and looked down at her hands.
"I miss you," she softly confessed.
He felt the air choking him. His heart beating against his rib cage so hard it might shatter the bone.
"I know I have no right . . . and I'm sorry for everything . . . but I just," she looked up at him with glistening eyes. "I miss you."
Her throat felt so thick. Like syrup was running through. Her lungs feeling as though they were fighting against an invisible hold.
She had no right. She knew that. After everything she had put him through. It was selfish. And that's how she's been all along. She should've stayed away. But she couldn't. Not anymore.
"I can't do it again Buffy."
His voice sounded strange to his own ears. Hoarse and pleading.
He felt constrained. Like something was trying to squeeze the life out of him. Trying to squeeze the breath from his body, and the water from his eyes.
"You're married," he continued before she had the chance to speak. "What we had . . . it's over. I just . . . I can't do it anymore. I'm sorry but . . . I need to move on."
It hurt. Burned through the heart. It was unbearable. But he needed to say it. No matter how much he wished he hadn't.
Two lone tears rolled down her cheek. Dripping to the floor. It was past painful. Past excruciating. It was numbing. It was cold and hollow.
He forced his hands to remain still. His feet to stay. He forced himself to not embrace her and kiss her tears away. It was torture.
She didn't say anything. There was nothing to say. She just nodded her head slowly in understanding. Wrapping her arms around herself and keeping her eyes to the ground, she walked to the door and left. The sound of a door closing all that was left of her.
He couldn't breathe. His vision was blurred. It was like acid on his insides.
He leaned against the wall. Sniffling as he looked up. Tears running down his face. And his knees wouldn't hold him anymore. He sank to the ground and rested his head on propped up legs. His shoulders shaking.
It was over.
He found him in the dark. He hadn't seen him in two days.
"Hey," he said as he grabbed a chair and taking a seat closer to him.
"Hey," he responded, his voice coarse.
"How are you?"
He looked up and Ron could see it clear on his face.
"I'll be fine," Harry replied.
He nodded and continued to watch him. Worried that he would fall back to what he worked so hard to recover from.
"Hermione sent you over?"
"No," he shook his head. "I was worried."
Harry nodded once and rose from his seat. He walked over to the bar and fiddled with the glasses. But didn't pour anything.
"I don't know if I made a mistake," he began dejectedly. "I don't know if it was the right thing to do. What she did to me . . . after everything. I miss her. I never stopped. Not even when she would come at night. She would be next to me, and I would miss her. What if letting her walk out was a huge mistake."
He leaned forward on his arms. His hands gripping the table so tightly it might splinter.
"She hurt you. More than once. You have every right to not trust her again," Ron reasoned.
"I know, but I just . . . I miss her so much."
His head was pounding. His throat scratchy. It was more painful this time. Because now, it was he who was the one to let her go.
He didn't know what to do. Ron was at a crossroads. He hated seeing him like this. To watch his best friend suffer. But he hadn't forgiven Buffy. She was the one to turn her back. To break Harry's heart. To torture him night after night with what they couldn't have. She was the one who was selfish. She didn't deserve another chance.
But Harry loved her. And he wasn't going to stop. No matter how many times his heart got broken. He knew that for a fact.
"She's left him," he confessed. Resentfully but rightly so.
"What?" His heart skipped a beat as he snapped around.
"She's been living in London for the past two weeks."
The room was spinning again.
"How do you know?"
"She knew," he spat angrily. When was Hermione ever going to mind her business and stop trying to protect him.
"No," he said immediately. Hoping to extinguish his anger. "She saw her yesterday. Coming out of the tube. She said she looked awful. Depressed."
A flash image of her passed his mind. The blue dress hanging off her. Her eyes gray and tired.
"What . . . " He cleared his throat. "What did she say?"
"She said that she left him, and that she wasn't going back. And that she's been living alone in a small rented flat for two weeks."
"Did she say why?"
"Just that she wasn't being fair to Thomas. And that she couldn't do it anymore."
He could really use a drink. But he forced himself not to give into the temptation.
She was alone.
"She said she was sorry. To Hermione for putting her in the middle. Even said to apologize to me for what she did. That she never meant to hurt anybody. And that it was unfair for getting both of us involved."
It sounded like Buffy. Apologizing down to the wire for her mistakes.
His heart felt sluggish. He didn't know if he could take anymore. His every nerve on a tight rope. And he steeled himself again.
"She's leaving. Tomorrow. Heading back to the States," Ron told him. "To stay."
The walls seemed to be closing in. His head foggy. Fear gripping his heart.
"Why?" he hoarsely asked.
Ron cleared his throat and clasped his hands together. Avoiding Harry's eyes. A little afraid of how he would react to the following words.
"She said she had nothing left for her here."
He looked up and could see the confusion and pain on his friend's face. Shock outlining his eyes.
She was leaving. Maybe for good. Was that why she came to see him? To say goodbye?
Then it him like a brick and guilt drowned him.
Maybe she wanted him to give her a reason to stay.
"What are you gonna do?"
Harry didn't say anything as he refocused his eyes.
It was a loaded question.
It was easier. Not having her around.
Painful. But easier.
He didn't have to stress over wether she would change her mind. Wonder if he was going to say the wrong thing. Worry if he was enough.
Worry if she was going to break his heart again.
He hated himself to admit it. But maybe it would be better if she left.
Maybe he really should just let her go.
She walked around the small room. Grabbing the very few things she left around the studio apartment. Her hairbrush. Lotion. Makeup she didn't use. Placing them in her one suitcase she moved over to the dresser and began to pull out the little clothes she had.
Folding up her shirt she placed it in the suitcase, and uninterrupted she picked up the next one.
"It's open Hermione," she called out to the knock on the door.
She heard the hinges squeak, and the door close. Footsteps moving behind her before stopping.
"Were you going to say goodbye?"
Her breath hitched, and her heart stopped beating for second.
Everything seemed to freeze, and then, slowly, time resumed again.
"I thought you covered that the other day," she said thickly.
Slowly she finished her folding and placed the item in with the others.
Steeling her nerve and braving her heart, she turned around, crossing her arms protectively over her chest.
"What are you doing here?" she softly asked.
He was so beautiful. It killed her.
He felt angry. Betrayed once more. And what angered him even more, was that he felt guilty about it. As though it were his fault.
"Why are you leaving?" he asked. Wanting to hear the reasons coming from her own lips.
"I don't have a reason to stay," she told him. Something Harry was already aware of no doubt.
"What about Thomas?" The name almost choking him.
She gave a heavy sigh and lowered herself to the bed.
"He deserves better than me," she confessed as she looked down at her hands. "He deserves someone who can love him in the way he deserves to be loved. Not just as a selfish need to a mess like me."
She paused as she remembered the day she left. Her suitcase packed while she explained everything. And it dawned on her that everything she had said, Thomas had already known.
"I wasn't lying when I said he made me happy. Some part of me loved him," she continued. Harry feeling his heart in his throat at her words. "A tiny part. But it wasn't enough. I guess . . . I guess he always knew, you know. But like me, he figured something was better than nothing. He figured he loved me enough for the both of us. But it didn't work that way. It was a mistake from the start. We both knew. We just didn't care. It was easier to pretend."
He didn't move. Stayed frozen as he listened to her broken explanation.
He had never imagined her to be so vulnerable. She was always this strong force that would knock you over and would make you fall in love with her immediately. Ron had even admitted to him once that he used to have a tiny crush on her in the beginning.
Now, she was a shell. Broken and hollow.
But as he lay witness to her vulnerability he found it to be beautiful. He realized that she wasn't this perfect person who had it all figured out. Strong and unafraid. Something he once believed and had scared him into thinking he would never be enough for her.
Seeing her so fragile now was like a shock to his system. And he realized that there were still some parts of her he didn't know.
"I hurt you. And I have no right to ask for an apology. I know that," she said then finally looked up at him. "What I did to you is unforgivable. But I was just so scared."
"Scared?" he asked completely surprised and confused.
"That you would leave me," her small voice said. "I don't think I could've handled it if one day you decided that maybe I just wasn't the person for you. Or if you got killed, given the kind of job you have. I didn't want to live through that again. The person I lost, the one I told you about when we first met. He was . . . he was everything to me. All I could think about. Then one day he turned evil. Literally. He was there but . . . not. And when I lost him it almost killed me . . . I didn't want to go through that again."
"So you just gave up," he interrupted harshly.
The tone in his voice made her insides jump. Her eyes physically flinch away.
"You wanted to hurt me before I hurt you," he accused.
"No, that's not . . . it's not what I . . . " Her voice cracked as she tried to find the words to explain. "I never wanted to hurt you."
"I know," she rasped.
"That's why you wanted Thomas," he sadly deduced. "He was safe."
She hesitated. "Yes."
She stared at her hands again.
He looked out the small window across from him. Watching as the leaves of a nearby tree extended in the wind.
"You almost killed me Buffy," he confessed.
She snapped her eyes up and focused on his face.
"When you chose him," he went on. "I didn't care about anything. And then when you came to me at night. It killed me again having to watch you leave the next day."
"I know. It killed me too," she admitted. "I never should've . . . it was unfair to you."
"Yes it was," he told her. And she flinched again. "After everything you've done . . . I don't know if I can move past that. I don't know if I can forgive you."
She felt her chest burning. Her throat squeezing. She should've known better.
"I understand," she pushed out, her eyes letting a few tears fall.
He stuffed his hands into his pockets. His jaw clenched tightly forcing his emotions to remain still.
Wiping her eyes, she rose from the bed. Sniffling everything back.
"I guess this is goodbye then." Her voice trying to noticeably remain calm. "After today you won't see me again . . . which is good I guess . . . I mean, I won't be around to mess things up anymore . . . I'll be out of your life for good and you can finally move on . . . just like you wanted."
She nodded slowly in acceptance, trying to be brave, and then turned around to pack her things again. Anything to not see him. Trying to keep herself busy and her mind focused until he was gone. Then she could cry until her body exhausted itself to sleep.
He watched her. The way her hands were shaking as she messily stuffed things into her suitcase. Listened as she sniffled every few seconds.
She could feel his eyes on the back of her head but she refused to turn around. It was over now. Nothing left to say.
Without a thought. It was unexplainable. He walked up to her. His shaking hand noticeable as he grasped her shoulder.
She felt her heart stopping and her breathing forgotten. Her hands mid-motion. Even on the smallest parts, the tiniest of touches, he sent her body out of control.
She knew what he was trying to do. But she didn't want his pity.
"Harry please . . . " she begged, the tears coming up faster. "Just . . . just go . . . I-I can't . . . I don't want . . . "
It was too much. And she didn't know if she could handle him feeling sorry for her.
It was unexplainable. But he couldn't stop.
He spun her around. One hand on her arm the other beneath her chin.
Gently and slowly. He kissed her.
It melted her insides. And it warmed his.
She pulled back from her him. Her lips on fire.
His green eyes looked at her heatedly. And his hands were tingling.
"I don't . . . " she stuttered.
"I don't know if I can forgive you," he repeated, brushing a hair to the back of her ear. "But I can't do it any more." His voice sounding thick with unshed tears. "I can't keep pretending that I'm not waiting for you. That it doesn't hurt when I open my eyes in the morning and you're not there. That I don't hate the fact that when I come home from work I won't find you waiting for me. I don't know if I can move past everything . . . but I can't be without you anymore. Not having you is . . . it's unbearable."
He felt his cheeks dampen. His vision becoming blurry.
"Please don't leave," he whispered pleadingly.
Everything came at once. All those tearless lonely nights. Longing she pushed aside. Things she tried to forget.
She couldn't control it. She collapsed into him. Sobbing onto his shirt.
"I'm sorry Harry . . . I'm so sorry . . . " She repeated over and over.
She bunched her hands into the sides of his jacket. Crying even harder when he wrapped his arms around her and whispered into her hair that it was going to be all right.
He let his own silent tears fall. A sense of relief filling him.
She didn't know how long she had been crying, but finally, she hiccuped her last tear. And she loosened her grip on his jacket, resting her hands calmly at his sides.
She looked up at him as he placed both of his hands on either side of her face.
"I promise I'll make it up to you," she swore still sniffling. "No matter what it takes."
Her tear stained face was slightly blotchy. And to Harry she stilled looked perfect.
"I know, just promise me you'll never do something like this again," he half-jokingly said.
She smiled, her first real one in what felt like so long.
"I promise," she replied, giving a single nod.
"Good, because I honestly don't think I could handle it."
She placed a hand onto the side of his face lovingly. "You won't have to."
He brushed his thumbs back and forth against her soft cheeks. Staring into her eyes that were returning to their happier green color.
Tilting her head up she hesitantly searched his lips. Afraid he would pull back.
He noticed her hesitation and realized he wasn't going to be the only one to be reassured that everything really was going to be okay.
He was calm and understanding, while she was fragile and temperamental.
Leaning down he met her halfway. His lips covering hers in a kiss that felt very much like the first one she had given him. What felt like to be so very long ago.
He didn't know why he forgave her. She didn't understand it either. But as they stood there, arms wrapped around one another and future uncertain. They realized that it didn't matter. Because as they kissed, it felt as though they had been rewarded for something they had struggled so hard to get. It wasn't just right. It wasn't even enough. It was complicated and that felt just fine.
And maybe, it was just one of those things.
I'd just like to remind everyone, that once again this was a dream I had. And like dreams tend to be, not everything is going to be perfect. There are questions that I don't have answers for, plot holes and what not. I just thought I'd share this because I honestly enjoyed dreaming it. Which proves I've been reading and writing to much fanfiction. :) Hopefully this will cure my writers block though. Anyway, I hope you enjoyed it and I would really love some reviews. Thanks.