Disclaimer: anything JK Rowling related is not mine but merely something that I toy with.
Summary: Without him I feel dead and lifeless, but with him I don't know how long I'll survive.
author's note: this is an alternate variation of my pervious piece Buried in which I plan on extending the fic and approaching it from a more Harmony angle due to many requests from readers to give it a go for some hearty HHr-ness.
Hope you like it.
Part I: Buried
sit at the table wringing my napkin nervously and soon find the cloth withering under the pressure of my vise like grip… I let it drop from my hand and find distraction in unraveling the cloth. I look at the wrinkles that had formed, the twists and turns in the napkin, almost as if begging for some sort of sign… for something—anything—that'll tell me what I'm supposed to do… if I'm doing the right thing.
It wasn't supposed to be like this… I wasn't supposed to be on this side and he… he wasn't supposed to be the enemy… the opposing force, whatever the hell I'm supposed to call it… it's all just so wrong… so fucked. So much so that it can even compel me to curse, I note with a sardonic smile as I keep my gaze trained on the entrance of the restaurant… willing him not to show up… not to make me do this… to let me down and, in turn, let me move on…
I fell my fingers twitching and my right leg jumping up and down nervously but I'm so out of control, so worried that I can even seem to control the spasms, as much as I may try, will myself, to stop it I can't…
How did we get here anyway?… It wasn't supposed to be like this… it just wasn't, I silently cry out to myself, drawing blood as I bite down harder on my lip in my fit of frustration. I gasp a breath, staring so intensely at the unmoving door across the restaurant, so much so that I'm surprised I haven't burned a hole through wooden entrance.
I don't know how but, somehow, even with all of this, he still manages to slip past my gaze that was so intently focused on him, wherever he may be, and suddenly surprises me by appearing in the seat across me.
"Harry," I gasp, begging myself to remain in control, show some strength—if I can't feel it, why can't I at least fake it, right?
He smiles at me warmly, so much so that I have to ask myself how this man—this lovely, dear person—could have been the one to kill Molly and Ginny. How could this kind man somehow hold Voldemort's soul? There's no evil in those sweet eyes that look at me so tenderly, there's only ardor and the mere idea that there can be something malevolent behind those eyes baffles me.
"Hi, love," he whispers in that voice that I'd grown to love all those years ago. It's this beautiful one that's so hesitant, almost as if he's willing himself to believe that I'm actually there… so amorous. It makes me feel loved, as if I'm not only the brainy girl next door… that maybe there's more beneath the cover constantly covering my face.
"You came," I note, stupidly.
He smiles. "Yeah."
"You probably shouldn't have," and for more reasons than he knew.
He nods his head. "No… probably not… but I couldn't help myself when you left the call sign… I—I was surprised to see it, actually," he admits, slowly extending his hand under the small table to reach mine, encasing it in his tight embrace. "I'm glad you remember it though…"
I shrug, trying to keep the tears that seem so adamant on making their presence known at bay, begging myself to retain some sense of composure. "It'd be hard to forget given how often we used it during the war."
"You killed Molly and Ginny," I state and I don't even really know why, but I need to. I suppose I need that confirmation that I'm doing the right thing, that I'm not making a mistake by betraying him like this. It's all really just gone to hell if I'm trying to rationalize something like this, I note wryly, unable to stop the bitterness form fully enveloping me.
"You have his—his soul, don't you…? No one's sure, but—but that's the theory…" I ramble on, praying that maybe those fears I had will be quelled by a rebuff from him. I simply can't help but foolishly hold onto that hope that maybe he'll say he's just a murderer, not one that also led an ethnic cleansing. I love him… I just want it all to be untrue… ignorance is bliss, yeah?
But he breaks my heart when he nods again.
I can't help but nod in response, so numb that even my verbose self can't bring herself to speak… oh how the mighty have fallen.
"I'm dating Ron," I blurt out. I don't know why… I think it might be for revenge though, he broke my heart so much by killing them… by running… by leaving me… by not even saying good bye…
I don't know why I need revenge when five years have passed but I feel as if it's justified for some reason… that's also why I feel a distinct amount of twisted pleasure when he winces…
He nods. "I know," he whispers, clenching his jaw as he lightly squeezes my hand, as if telling me that it's okay that I've moved on and I hate—I hate that I feel relieved to hear that I have his pardon. What the hell do I need clemency from him for anyway?
Bloody hell, the things I do to the woman's movement… Emmeline Pankhurst must be rolling in her grave right now…
"Why—why'd you do it, Harry? How could you just kill them…? I mean, I know that they weren't the best about us, but that was hardly worthy of a death sentence."
He shrugs and I resent him for it. "After all of the shite they put us through they deserved it, as far as I'm concerned… you always were too forgiving anyway," he mutters darkly, a flash crossing his eyes, one that I'm scared shitless of when I bear witness to it as it cements everything that was ever hypothesized… everything that was ever said… he may not be that person when with me, but the danger is always there, the evil is still there, he can still… he can still commit…
I nod dully.
"I—I've missed you, Hermione-"
"You were the one that left, not me," I dryly note.
"I did it to protect you… from me…" he admits, letting his entire persona become downcast and it takes all my strength not to pull him into my arms and promise that I'll always be there because I'm finally starting to realize that maybe… maybe regardless of how much I may wish it, it's just not possible. Maybe there isn't a salvation for everyone after all…
I shrug, my gaze plastered on the glass of water in front of me as I slowly count all of the beads of water forming on the outside of the cold glass… seventy-nine and counting.
He sighs. "I… I never told you enough, and I'm sorry for that, that's probably my biggest regret… I love you, always have and always will… and—and I don't want you to ever feel guilty."
My head snaps up at that last word, and as I scrutinize him I realize he knows. "You knew?"
He nods. "I'm wanted for murder… and justly, I'll admit… I doubt you'd call me if not under someone's force…" he trails off.
I tiredly raise my unoccupied hand to rub my temple. "Why'd you come then, Harry? Why couldn't you just stay away, leave me alone and save me from all this grief?"
He shrugs. "I couldn't lie to you… pretend I didn't want to see you… I love you, and it's worth it. It—it's all worth it if I just get to see you again," he promises me, leaning over the table and bringing his other hand to my face, slowly brushing away a stray tear that I can't help but curse when it shows my Achilles' heel as far as he's concerned. I really wish I was stronger.
"I loved you…" I breathe out somehow… how is beyond me, as all words and air seem to escape me whenever so close to him.
He smiles sadly. "I love you."
"You sound like an idiot, constantly repeating 'I love you' like that, almost makes the words sound meaningless," I deprecatingly note.
He shakes his head at me, almost sympathetically so. Bastard. "Don't lie, you and I both know they're not, not with us."
I close my eyes and let out a deep breath, he always did know just the words to ensnare me. "It's not fair, Harry."
"Life usually isn't."
"We… were supposed to be-"
He gives me a sad nod. "I know," he whispers slowly.
I bite my lip before letting out yet another unsteady breath, trying to maintain some control of all of my conflicting emotions, begging myself to retain any strength I can muster. "How—how are you?" I ask him, not quite sure if I even really want to know the answer to that question, but I ask anyway—my curiosity always did get the best of me, damn "curiosity killed the cat" adage be damned as far as I'm concerned.
A small smile tugs at his lips as he eyes me softly, literally giving my heart palpitations as he looks at me like that. "Not too good, honestly."
I roll my eyes in aggravation with myself, wishing I was stronger for the umpteenth time, but it's futile and I know it. "Go," I, suddenly, hoarsely order him. It's hopeless, all of this, I realize, I never was strong enough when it came to him. "Go and—and don't come back, Harry, stay away. Move on… and—and, please, try not to make me regret this… let mefinally move on," I tell him, the tears coming on full force by now.
"Hermione, think about what your superiors-"
"They can go to hell… just go… just go…" I cry erratically, I never stood a chance anyway, they should have realized that. not my fault they're idiots, right?
He shakes his head.
"They'll kill you," I tell him roughly, the implication tugging at my heart strings as I realize that I still love him… even if I can't have him or be with him I can't live with his death, much less being the reason behind it.
I shake my head, already resolute and, finally, clear on my stance. "Just leave!"
He nods, not for the first time that evening I wryly note, and slowly gets up off his seat, much to my surprise actually. "Just one thing first… I'll never forgive myself if I don't," he rambles a bit nervously as he brings one hand to cup my face as the other pulls me out of my seat and to him.
"Harry," I sigh weakly, pleading for him to let me go… just let me be already. I may not want to ever leave him, but I need to.
"Just one final good bye… I didn't have the chance to last time," he tells me before bringing his mouth down unto mine. It's soft and gentle like a proper goodbye, if there ever even was one, as he gently rubs light circles into my cheek and the small of my back as he holds me to him. When he finally pulls away he eyes me sadly before a small, forced, smile is displayed across his lips and he says "regardless of what happened or happens it'll always be you for me, you were always my saving grace… not sure how much that's worth given what I still did with a supposed saving grace, but it's the truth—I'm trying this whole honesty shtick…"
"Leaving things out is still lying by omission," I comment.
He shrugs. "Never claimed to be a saint…" he tells me, leaning his forehead on mine. "Thank you… for telling me… I didn't think you would admit to it…"
"You don't deserve it; I hope you realize that…"
He winces. "Trust me, this fate… wherever the hell it leads, is worse anyway…"
"Really?" I disbelieving ask, the doubt in my tone ubiquitous.
"You don't have to believe me… I love you though," he repeats. "I'll miss you… I'll always miss us… be happy, yeah?"
"You don't have say in that one anymore," I coldly note, feeling the stirrings of a too long suppressed anger rising, a fury over a beautiful future lost. "I hate you… I just hope you realize that… I hate you for everything you've done. Everything you've ruined, everything you made me believe in only to break it down right before my eyes… I hate you."
He nods slowly. "Probably better that way anyway."
I shake my head, scoffing lightly as the tears start to stream down my face despite myself, despite how hard I try to remain in control of my emotions. "You want to know the ironic part?"
"What?" he softly asks me and I can't help but wonder, for the thousandth time or so, how someone who can look at me so gently can hold so much evil within him.
"There—there's this old adage, superstition really, and it says that certain days of the week are better than others for a wedding: Monday for health, Tuesday for wealth, Wednesday best of all, Thursday for losses, Friday for crosses, Saturday for no luck at all. I never believed in that shite, you know, but when you didn't show up… left me standing there like an idiot at that blasted alter, all I could think about was the fact that it couldn't be more true… Thursday really was for losses, wasn't it?"
A sharp look of pain crosses his face and I can't help but revel in it. "I—I—it's like I told you, I only ever wanted to protect you… I know you may not see it now, but it was for the best."
"Oh, don't worry, I know that now, I've moved on, found someone else," I bitterly retort, scowling, I've always had a knack for ruining the mood.
He winces. "I—I will always love you, please believe that, at least."
I wrench myself away from him, sharply turning my head to avoid the hand that's slowly making its way to my face, well aware of the fact that with just one touch I'll fall. Again. "You have two minutes—go, Harry," I gruffly tell him.
He nods. "Maybe… maybe we'll see one another again."
I scoff. "I think you've done enough damage, Harry, don't you?"
He nods slowly, smiling at me sadly. "I love you," he whispers and before I know it the entire world just turns into a blur for me.
Suddenly, I hear the sound off the Auror team barreling in, it's practically a stampede, pathetic, I have to admit, how unorganized the entire thing is, but there is power in numbers and that's certainly something they have on their side, that much I can say.
Suddenly, though, Harry isn't in front of me anymore, I know he didn't dissaparate, they put wards on the restaurant and he'd probably guess that they'd do that anyway. I don't bother myself with the question, though, I know it's better not to, after so much time spent racking my mind in an effort to understand him I finally get that this new Harry Potter… I don't want to understand him… I think it may very well kill me to as it is.
"I'll be seeing you," I hear a sudden, invisible whisper, his voice indubitably behind it and I don't try to work it out. Some mysteries are better left unsolved; some heartbreaks are better left in the past.
"Hermione," Ron suddenly comes to me, throwing his arms around me. "I'm—I'm sorry, we lost him."
I nod slowly, shrugging. "We knew there were no possibilities, not with the scope of his powers…"
"I know, but—I just I guess I held onto the hope… for Ginny and mum…" he sighs, running a hand through his hair in aggravation and regret. "Ready to go home?" he tiredly asks me and I nod in response, taking his proffered hand in my own and letting him pull me outside.
I can't help but look back as we cross the street and head towards the car and I think I catch a glimpse of the grey shirt he'd worn, the shimmer of the thin silver stripes that had run down it, but I tell myself that it's just my imagination… something's are just better off left buried I suppose and despite how much I wish that it was him holding my hand now, I'm logical enough to rationalize that it's just not possible. Not anymore.