Around the World in a Year
Summary: They had experienced things that most could never even dream of and others would write about, but, ultimately, they found themselves floundering at the end, grasping to ties those loose strings and find rationale in what should have been so simple: the happy ending.
UNKNOWABLE Fic X-Change Request:
Rating(s) of the fic you want: Any
For: currently, unknown
Ships: Ron/Luna, Harry/Hermione, Helga/Salazar, James/Lily, Remus/Sirius, Dumbledore/Doge or Dumbledore/Grindelwald.
Genres: Adventure, Romance, Humour, Drama, Angst or drabbles.
Plot: For Harry/Hermione and Ron/Luna, as close to (pre-epilogue) canon as possible and post-end, in the aftermath year of the war, trying to get back to normal and find some happiness. The epilogue doesn't happen, basically.
"Hey," she morosely greeted him, falling into the chair with a pout, even going so far as to slump in her seat—a far cry from the good manners that she always berated Harry and Ron about in a futile attempt to instill some proper manners into them.
Harry furrowed his eyebrows as he eyed her curiously, putting down the menu he'd been reading to give her his full attention. "What's wrong?" he asked, albeit a bit hesitantly as he wasn't too sure if he really even wanted to know given that if it had anything to do with Ron a long and odious tirade would surely begin.
"Nothing," she vaguely waved him off, letting out a deep sigh before collecting herself, straitening out both her posture and the expression that had been marring her face. "Just a bit tired, I suppose," she told him with a weak smile, one so fake that it killed him to have to witness it—and even more so later when, in retrospect, he noted how he didn't say anything in regards to it.
"Okay," he nodded, shrugging off her mood with an embarrassing ease. "Any clue what you're going to eat?"
She sighed. "Lasagna, maybe..."
He hummed lightly. "That sounds good."
And that was that, those were the last words spoken throughout the entire meal.
"You don't talk to me anymore," he suddenly announced, and though he had no idea where the compulsion to make the proclamation came from he couldn't quite say that he regretted saying it.
She choked on her coffee, gasping and hacking slightly in a way that really made her wish that life was like a movie where she'd never embarrass herself by doing something absolutely ridiculous like hacking. But, alas, her life wasn't as perfect as the realm of cinematography, a thought that made her scowl.
"We don't talk anymore," he reiterated.
"Well that's a two way street, Harry," she warned him, her voice laced with an underlying edge to it that gave him chills. She was blood scary, no doubt about that.
"I know, but…" he trailed off.
"Well… I just—I miss you."
She smiled softly upon hearing that, and brought a hand to his cheek, caressing it softly. "I've missed you, too," she admitted after a rather drawn out pause. "I've really missed you."
He grinned at her, shyly and bashfully. "Yeah?"
She nodded vigorously. "Yeah."
"Well… well, good."
She laughed, she didn't know why, but she did and she was thankful for it… it felt good to laugh again after having gone so long without it, the relief was overwhelming even.
"You—you said you wanted me to talk to you… to be more open about how I'm feeling and… and stuff…"she stumbled awkwardly, her level of coherency on a caliber so far lower than her usual standard that she couldn't help but feel anger towards herself for it.
He couldn't deny that he was surprised by that sudden announcement; she'd been avoiding mentioning that conversation for so long that he'd begun to think it was a lost cause, but having her come and say that… well, he didn't known what to make of the feelings that that brought on, so he chose to do what was only natural. He sent her a crooked grin, dragging a hand through his hair before he kicked he chair across from him out, motioning her to take a seat in the proffered stop.
She smiled shyly; blushing a bit as she quickly plopped down onto the chair. "I have to warn you, Harry… it—it's not all pretty, Harry… and… well, given your relationship with Ron as well-"
"I don't care," he stopped her immediately, shaking his head adamantly. "I—I don't care… you…" he sighed, suddenly frustrated with himself and how he was grappling with words, this awkwardness just shouldn't exist, not with them. "You—you have to know that, at the end of the day, you're my best mate, and, despite my being a prat and not showing it nearly enough, it is always you first in my mind."
She bit her lip, the corners of her lips raising lightly as a flush crept up her face. "It's ugly…"
"And I don't care," he simply told her.
She smiled, fully, nodding slowly. "I—I'm not happy anymore."
"Hey," he greeted her, walking into his library at Grimmauld Place only to see her sitting on the chesterfield and starting out the window, her book lying forgotten on her lap.
"Hi," she muttered distractedly.
He smiled as he watched her, quietly moving across the large room towards her, moving her legs up off the chesterfield once there before sitting down and placing them across his lap instead. He rubbed her legs softly before asking: "what's wrong?"
"Nothing… just tired."
He shook his head. "That's not it and you know it."
She smiled weakly, but couldn't help wish that he didn't know her so well, that he could let her live in a world of deliria, no matter how wrong it was. "I… I just want to be happy…"
"Then be happy."
She shook her head, frowning. "It's not that easy."
"Of course it is," he retorted with a scoff.
She scowled, raising an eyebrow and sending him a sharp look. "Really?"
"You heard me, Harry. Bull shit," she repeated, putting extra emphasis on the last phrase. "You can go off on how easy it is all you want, but, in truth, you're just as unhappy as I am. You and Ginny are just as fake and Ron and I are, but you're just more adamant about not admitting it, about maintaining the façade, and you know it… deep down, you know I'm right, and you're in just as much pain over how terrible fake it all is," she told him, slamming her book and disapparating in the blink of an eye, before he could even move to retort after she sent him into a stunned silence.
"We broke up," she announced as she dropped into a seat across from him at his usual table, the booth by the windows where he could do some people watching if ever at a loss as what to do while eating.
He immediately looked away from the streets, turning to her. "What?"
"Well… I suppose you can't say we, since I did the breaking up and he tried to fight me on it every step of the way," she rationalized, awkwardly rambling as she so often did. She truly was far too verbose, something that often came to bit her in the arse when she went off on tangents like that.
"Wow… so it's over?"
She shrugged helplessly. "It was time, he knew it as well as I did… we've both just been so desperate to hold onto what seemed like the only good thing in our lives that we ignored the pain. I think this is good for us, though… we ended on good terms, and—and he means the world to me, I'd hate to lose him just because he isn't the one."
Harry nodded understandingly. "Yeah, I get it."
"So I take it that it was ugly then…" Hermione ventured.
Ron guffawed from the chesterfield, rolling his eyes at her—an action that she quickly returned his way. "Do you not see the black eye, Mione?"
"I told you not to call me that… and how did you get the black eye anyway, Harry?"
Harry shook his head tiredly, throwing himself onto the chesterfield, next to Ron, as Hermione took a seat in the chair across from them. "She threw a book at me… it was Hogwarts: a History, come to think of it."
She eyed him warily. "And why did she throw a book at you…?"
Harry shrugged, throwing his head back as he let out a groan. "I may have admitted that you and Ron knew I was going to dump her… and that you two may have known it for a while now…"
Hermione's eyes widened and Ron choked on the biscuit he'd just stuffed into his mouth. "What?!" Hermione screeched.
"I wanted to be honest," Harry defended.
"By screwing the two of us over? Do you know my sister's temper and the extent of her vengefulness?"
"I think I've sort of been experiencing it for the last four hours or so," Harry dryly pointed out.
"Oh you think you got off hard?!" Ron scoffed. "She went easy on you because she thinks you'll come back; try being the one to truly receive the brunt of her anger. You've just black listed your two best mates, you prat!"
"I—I'll talk to her then…"
Hermione scoffed, shaking her head angrily. "I don't know what the hell was going through your mind when you told her this, but it was just downright selfish that you felt this compulsion to shift part of the blame onto someone else… cowardly and pathetic," she spat at him, walking away angrily and ignoring any of his calls to return.
"You really just bollixed everything up, mate… especially with Hermione just now… even I've never disappointed her that much," he shook his head, stuffing another biscuit into his mouth before hopping off the couch and going after Hermione to try and calm her down. He did, after all, have much practice in that over the yeas—it's just that usually it was him she was angry at, never Harry. "I—I'll try to get her to see your side, realize you're just an idiot, not the prat she thinks you are, yeah?"
Harry smiled weakly. "Thanks, Ron."
"Wh—what are you doing here?" Harry yawned as he walked into the kitchen, glad that he'd at least put on a shirt before leaving his room, albeit haphazardly, but at least he had enough decency to be a proper host by covering up when hearing the odd clanking sound coming from his kitchen.
"I decided to make you breakfast," she announced.
She shrugged. "It's what mates do, right?—I mean, you come over and do it for me all the time, I figured I'd return the favor."
He yawned again, throwing himself into a chair as he watched her prepare an omelet. "I do it because I hate having breakfast alone."
"Okay, here we go," she announced proudly as she brought the pan, two forks, and toast to the table, sitting it between the two of them.
He grinned, immediately moving to take a large bite of her veggie omelet, an act that he sincerely regretted as soon as it was in his mouth. "Bloody hell," he gasped, mouth full as he spoke, "what is that?"
She sent him a sheepish smile as she took a tiny morsel of it herself. "That bad?"
His eyes widened. "How can you eat this?" he asked as soon as he managed to swallow the blasted food.
She shrugged. "Got used to it, I suppose… forgot how bad others find it, really."
He stared at her, stunned, absolutely dumbstruck. "Please tell me you're joking!"
"Is there anything you can properly prepare?"
She pointed to the toast which she'd even buttered for them.
"You know, I still remember the first time I realized you were a girl," Harry announced as the two lay on a beautiful sandy beach in Sardinia, sunning after having just left the water.
"Gee… thanks," she sarcastically quipped.
Harry laughed. "No, I'm just bringing it up because it was a time like this… back in school, just after finishing fourth year, we were at the Weasleys and we all went swimming-"
"Wait a minute," she stopped him, honestly angered. "It took you over four blasted years to realize I was a girl?!"
"No," Harry rolled his eyes at her audacity and stupidity—always so quick to jump to conclusions, that one. "Watching you in this sexy little bikini with cherries on it—one that really did much to enhance your… your," he coughed, suddenly nervous.
"Yes?" she goaded with a teasing smile.
"Your eyes," he covered. "and… well, it was then that I realized that you were not only a girl, but one that a bloke could have a very fulfilling wet dream over… it was pretty hot, actually."
She cocked her head to the side slightly, rather baffled as to how to respond to that. "Thanks…" she slowly said.
He smiled widely, pulling off his Andy Warhol glasses to look her straight in the eyes. "No problem."
She laughed, clueless as to how he could make something so pervy somehow so… well, charming.
"It's beautiful, isn't it?" she asked, sighing as she looked at all the colors, a blissful look overtaking her face.
He shrugged, not too fond of just sitting there and doing nothing but staring at some blasted changing leaves. It happened every year; he didn't quite understand why she was so fascinated by the rather regular occurrence. "I guess," he grumbled, his leg bobbing up and down from impatience, he really wasn't good at the whole just sitting and watching thing. Not like her, but he'd do it for her, that much he knew.
"Don't automatically classify it as boring, Harry," she told him, immediately realizing his discomfort and boredom. "it may happen every year, but this moment… this perfect moment where the world is orange, red, purple… it's beautiful, it's natural… it's amazing," she bit her lip lightly, the smile gracing her lips widening as she grabbed his arm and hugged it tightly. "It's so amazing."
He laughed, throwing an arm around her shoulders and pulling her closely to his side. "It is rather nice, that much I'll admit," he begrudgingly said, more so to appease her than from any outstanding emotion that the sight brought him.
She smiled, leaning her head on his chest. "Thank you," she whispered. "You didn't have to say that, but thank you."
He shrugged, looking down at her and admiring the wistful look on her face as she watched yet another leaf fall. "You're welcome."
"Peter Pan in girl form?" he cocked an eyebrow at her unorthodox choice in costume.
"Hey! It's better than Ron over there who suddenly decided that he needed to pay the cannons ever more homage by dressing up in their uniform for Halloween. And it's far more creative than yours, that's for sure."
Harry shrugged. "I figured if everyone else is going as me then I may as well too."
She rolled her eyes, clearly trying to ignore the urge to berate him.
"Come on, you're my date for the evening, don't get mad at me just because I was too busy with work to come up with a decent costume, please," he pleaded, even throwing in a pout for extra measure.
She groaned, rolling her yes. "I hate that I can never stay mad at you… you really are far too charming for my good. Ugh, let's go meet up with Ron, I want him to finally introduce me to this new girl of his as it is."
"So what do you want for Christmas?" she asked as they walked around the Christmas market, which always started just before December rolled in, Hermione stopping to admire every inane trinket she came across.
"Your adulation for handmade crafts is borderline ridiculous right about now," he muttered as she was distracted by carved, wooden frog prince figurine that immediately brought a smile to her face.
She laughed lightly. "Don't be an arse, get into the Christmas spirit, Harry!" she chastised him with a playful smack on the arm.
He laughed, plucking the frog from her hands, ignoring her angry cries as he did so, before moving towards the vendor and buying the piece.
"I could have bought it for myself," she huffed.
Harry shrugged. "I was just getting into the Christmas spirit, like you told me to."
She rolled her eyes at his cheeky answer before taking the frog out of the bag he handed it to her in, moving to admire it yet again. "So, once again, what do you want for Christmas?"
"Yeah," she nodded.
"I… all I want is to have the honor of spending Christmas morning with you… just you."
She turned to him, confused. "No Weasleys?"
He shook his head, grimacing despite himself. "I have to admit that I'm not too fond of the meddling ways of one Molly Weasley as it is, rather not have that mar my holidays, you know?"
She laughed, nodding her head. "Okay then, I'd like that… it'd be a special little tradition, just ours."
He nodded, swinging an arm around her shoulders and pulling her to his side. "Just ours."
"Harry," she gasped when she opened the door to see him freezing his arse off at the doorway of her townhouse, blowing into his hands in a futile attempt to warm them. "Harry, I thought you left… and why are you just standing there?! Get your bloody arse in here this instant, it's freezing outside, you dolt!"
"No," he shook his head adamantly. "I—I need to this... I need to this here or I think I'll lose my nerve if I get inside."
She squinted bit at him, looking at him as if he was the world's greatest idiot, and maybe he was. "What are you on about?"
"Well, it... it's Christmas, you know? And I figure if... if there's ever a time for honesty... for giving true happiness a go, then it's now, isn't it?" he nervously stumbled, running a hand through his hair as he awkwardly shifted his weight from one foot to the other. "Or, well if it isn't, then that's what I'm going to tell myself, that's what I need to tell myself to get through this…"
"Through what, Harry?" Hermione asked, utterly befuddled.
"I—I want to be honest… and happy, if it's a possibility," he told her, well aware of the fact that she didn't seem to be able to make anything of his nonsensical rambling, but he was just thankful to finally be talking—to finally start being honest. "And... and I just think that you—you should know that... well, I love you... I always have, and that won't be changing any time soon, never I imagine, actually."
"Harry," she gasped, wide eyed.
"No," he stopped her. "Just let me do this, let me say this... I need... I need you to—to know that I love you, I'm in love with you... you're the one for me, Hermione, you're—you're the one for me and the only thing that's missing in my life, this Christmas, is the sight of you under my Christmas tree in nothing but a bow and a smile. I—I don't care about anything else, it's just you… just you…"
She stared at him, mouth slightly agape, clearly stunned, but he couldn't help but notice the way the corners of her lips were slightly quirked upwards, and he couldn't help but hope that it was because she reciprocated his feelings, that she wasn't silently mocking him for making a bleeding fool of himself.
She swallowed the growing lump in her throat, trying to catch her breath. "I—I… why don't you come in, Harry."
He nodded slowly. "Okay."
She smiled, biting her lip lightly as he entered her townhouse. "I'll make you a cup of cocoa for us and we can talk about who gets which side of the bed, yeah?"
He spun around to face her, not caring that one shoe, which he'd been in the process of taking off, flew across the hallway from the abrupt motion. "W—what?" he croaked.
Her smile widened. "Let's just say that you're not the only one who owes Christmas the respect of some honesty this year."
He stood there, silenced by her statement, eyes wide and jaw practically dropping to the floor. He stood like that for what felt like ages before he finally let out a loud laugh, immediately drawing her into his arms and kissing the crown of her head, holding her to him tightly. "Thank Merlin," he whispered.
"No, Harry," she chastised him, voice muffled by his chest. "Thank, Nick."
Oh the weather outside is frightful,
But the fire is so delightful,
And since we've no place to go,
Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!
author's note: so this took me ages to write for some reason, I've been struggling with this terrible bout of writers block and have gone through about ten different plot lines for this one shot, but hopefully whoever is supposed to receive this "fic gift" will enjoy it.
Merry Christmas and please review!