The Hogwarts Express stood at Platform 9 and ¾, gleaming scarlet and emitting steady plumes of fluffy white steam that covered the platform. It was easy to tell those who were travelling to the school for the very first time; they were all small, with over-large school robes and identical expressions of fear and excitement. Like them, the train represented a journey to a new chapter of life for Hermione Granger. She stood on the edge of the platform; black robes, sensible brown shoes and her hair tied back in a simple black band. She carried no trunk, no cage that housed a friendly familiar. No one was there to say 'goodbye' to her, but she certainly hoped that she would find someone to say 'hello'.
Some of the parents had begun to give her funny looks. Is that Hermione Granger, celebrated war hero, standing there looking so forlorn? What was she doing there, just staring at the train like that? Should she even be there at all? Their whisperings and ruminations were growing too much for her, and the time had evidently come – the time to make her choice. With a nimble jump, she leapt on to the train not a moment too soon, as the large red engine began to leave the station. More billowing steam, the loud sound that announced that the train was going – she had most certainly made her decision then and, like the others in her carriage, she was leaving behind an old life to start anew. Where, how long it would last and whether it would work, she did not yet know. But she would find out soon enough.
With her forehead pressed against the glass, she watched the countryside pass rapidly by, the rhythmic chugging of the train providing some kind of comfort. The sun was shining so beautifully, and the sky was terribly blue; there was no cloud to blemish it, and not even the birds dared to fly in case they spoiled the view. Hermione hoped it was an omen, a promise of things to come. She hoped the rest of her days would be like that; if not literally, then at the very least in a metaphorical sense.
"Anything from the trolley, dear?"
Anything? How about certainty or a guarantee of happiness? Perhaps a promise that everything would go as planned, or an assurance that this was something she would not grow to regret? Oh, how Hermione wished you could buy that from a trolley – it would no doubt have sold out in seconds.
"No thank you" was her simple response.
When they arrived, Hermione ignored the carriages and set off on foot. She watched as they rolled away in front of her, as she stumbled almost blindly through the village and up the hill. It was colder in Scotland, but by no means less beautiful. She tried to imagine what those first years would be experiencing now – the mystical and unforgettable first journey across the lake. She could remember quite clearly, the stunning view as the turrets of the castle arose from behind the hill; those thousands of glittering lights, which signalled a welcome. Would she be welcome? She didn't like to linger on the thought.
The gate opened at her touch, and she was in the grounds of her beloved school. There she had spent lazy days by the lake, there she had shared her first kiss, and there she had witnessed Harry defeat Lord Voldemort. There were many other things she had experienced there but, once more, she could not bring herself to think of them. As she approached the main doors, she veered off to her left to locate an alternative entrance; a small, hidden door that would take her where she wanted to be. Where she needed to be.
He was there, just as she had known he would be.
She could see him as she entered the small ante-chamber that led off to the Great Hall. He was stood silently, dressed as always in his thick black robes with his constant expression of distaste, as he waited for his new charges. Standing there, so close to him, she wanted to run. She longed to take back the decision she had made, to unwind those twisted tracks that the train had made and return to the safety of Kings Cross. Her heart would not be broken in London, would it? Nonsense, it would be broken wherever she went; she had tried to escape it, and failed. One final deep breath, before the first years came, and she stepped out of the shadows.
"Hermione?" His surprise was etched in his careworn face; one eyebrow shot upwards, as ever, and his lips twisted into a grimace-come-smile. "What on earth are you doing here?"
"I tried." She said, lifting her arms helplessly. "I tried like you asked me to, tried to forget. But it's impossible, Severus. It's impossible to forget when I miss you every second of every single bloody day."
"This is not the time to discuss such matters, Hermione. The first years shall be here at any minute, and I have duties to complete. I shall write to you, if –"
"No, because the letter will never come!" Hermione demanded angrily, only barely stopping herself from stamping her foot. "You and I are going to discuss this right now, and you will not run away from me again! Even if you think you are doing it for my own good!"
"Hermione!" He growled, striding forwards and grasping her shoulders. The physical contact seemed to shake both of them as, for a moment, they both fell into stunned silence. Severus closed his eyes, before taking a deep breath. "This is impossible, as I explained to you before. I shall hurt you irrevocably, Hermione, and you will regret it all. Your friends and your family will desert you for aligning yourself with me, and you will grow to hate me because of it. You are better off without me; it may take some time for you to realise, but when you do...you shall be grateful."
"Why can't you understand me, you pig-headed fool?" She cried. "I want you, Severus...bloody hell, I would even go so far as to say I need you. I don't care if my friends don't like it – I know them, they'll come around eventually, and my parents love me enough to let me do as I choose. And as for hurting me...God, I don't think it's possible for you to hurt me more than you're hurting me now."
He studied her for a moment. His dark eyes stared at her so ardently that it seemed they could bore into her skin. She had missed him, yes, but it was nothing compared to how much she longed for him now that he was so close. His smell was so familiar that it made her heart ache, and the weight of his hands on her skin made it seem as if he had never been gone. After what seemed like a lifetime, he spoke. His voice was soft and quiet; the tone she had never heard in his classroom, but had been privileged to hear so many times in the safety of his bedroom.
"I have been so terribly miserable without you." Hermione chuckled quietly, allowing a single tear of frustration, longing and relief to tumble down her cheek.
"I know. Minerva wrote to me, and she happened to mention an incident in the library. Is it true that you threw a book at the poor boy?"
"Perhaps...thankfully I regained my senses and stopped the book mid-flight. Do you truly mean it? That it matters not what your ridiculous friends think...that you want me?"
"Yes." Hermione whispered, removing her arms from his grip and wrapping them around his neck. She pressed her body against the length of his, and sighed contentedly at the familiar fit. "I wish you'd believed me the first time I said it."
"I had to be sure...that you came to me of your own choice...I didn't want to let you go, but I felt I had to. I'm sorry."
"I know, and I forgive you a reason that is entirely selfish."
"And what might that reason be?" He asked; smirking with one eyebrow raised. Hermione smiled mischievously. It was going the way she had hoped it would, the way she had dreamed of in those weeks since he had sent her away that afternoon in his office. Suddenly, the future was full of bright blue skies and void of misery. She licked her lips, before giving another contented sigh.
"Well...now you have to kiss me."
And he did.
Author's note: I'm not exactly sure what this is. I have no idea how they got together, no idea what happens to them in the future, and I have no desire to think about it! This very fluffy and, occasionally, melodramatic one-shot was inspired by I Really Want You by James Blunt, but it really isn't a songfic. The title of it is taken from a Rufus Wainrwight album, despite the fact that this has nothing to do with it.I had intended to end it with a funny moment when the first years witness the feared Professor Snape kissing Hermione, but i decided that it didn't fit the tone of the fic. Please leave a review, I'd love to know what you think. Thanks.