Title: Wednesday Afternoons
Summary: Wednesday afternoons are for Harry and Hermione. This particular Wednesday they discuss weddings, Weasleys and waiting.
Word Count: 1518
Disclaimer:I make no money from this, unless reviews are exchangeable for goods and services. I do not own Harry Potter as I am not J.K. Rowling. If I was, I'd be laughing all the way to the bank. As it is the bank laughs at me. Rated for suggestive themes.
In public they called it "Wednesday afternoon tea and reminiscing". And to be fair, there was tea and there was reminiscing. But it was the reminiscing of the what ifs and maybes between two people who felt they'd missed their chance.
Wednesday afternoon had only one rule. One Step Forward, Two Steps Back. Flirting, banter and even soft kisses were exchanged but that invisible but oh so real line between best friends and ex-lovers remained uncrossed and unyielding. And if a toe happened to smudge that line on occasion then both players in this complicated game of regrets and secrets would, by unspoken mutual agreement take those two steps back and fall back into the easy camaraderie they had once shared in school, before the what ifs and maybes of their relationship had caught up with them, much too late.
After the heartbreak of the war the two young heroes couldn't go back on their implied promises to the Weasley family, their sense of fair play wouldn't allow it. And there was also an overwhelming sense of guilt. They didn't feel what had happened in the tent was exactly wrong, after all they were two hormonal teenagers alone and scared their next day would be their last on earth. For them it was natural and the dynamic of their relationship hadn't changed like they thought it would. It made it stronger definitely but not different. It only changed when the Deluminator returned Ronald Weasley back to the new lovers.
Harry and Hermione had a long discussion during their stay at Shell Cottage. They were in love with each other. They accepted that. But for reasons even they didn't fully understand they killed their relationship stone dead before it had a chance to bloom. That was when they started to play their first game in life. This one was called Pretend.
Now they were twenty-two years old and it was another Wednesday afternoon in the height of summer. It was a 'two steps back' Wednesday, the previous week they had come too close to the line. So they sat at a kitchen table trying to keep their tea from spilling over whenever the wonky table leg shifted, tilting the table and counted the minutes until next Wednesday afternoon.
Harry was grateful the chair Hermione was sitting in was angled just right so the sun cast her face in shadow. While Hermione wasn't what many people would call beautiful (idiots one and all, Harry thought) he could stare at her face all day if she'd let him. Or if he'd let himself.
The sun did present Harry with a problem though. It was hiding her face but highlighting her hair and in the bright sunlight her halo of wild curls glowed. Bronze and red highlights were now visible and Harry clutched his mug until his knuckles turned white to stop himself from reaching that infinitesimal distance and tucking a stray curl behind her delicate ear. Ginny's hair glowed in the sun; the effect was similar to an out of control forest fire. But it was a regular occurrence, not a treat like it was in Hermione's case. The intensity and angle of the sunlight had to be just right to bring out Hermione's highlights and when that happened it was like his birthday and Christmas presents rolled into one. Is it next Wednesday yet? Harry sighed.
'How is Ginny?' Hermione asked cautiously, startling Harry out of his contemplation. They rarely asked after Ron or Ginny, why would they? They saw them often enough.
'Ginny is busy with work.' Harry answered curtly. Hermione nodded as her lip curled slightly. God knows she loves Ginny like a sister but every letter she received from her, where they were once signed simply Ginny, were now elaborately signed 'Ginevra Potter.' It made her want to smash something.
Harry seemed to think that a five word answer put the conversation to rest and Hermione wasn't particularly eager to discuss Ginevra Potter anyway. She changed the topic to something that had been weighing heavily on her mind.
'Ron isn't pleased with me.' She said out of the blue, wiggling her finger so the light caught her small engagement ring. It wasn't anything ostentatious and Hermione was glad for that. Harry raised a curious eyebrow in response to her statement. Out of the corner of his eye he watched the sparkle of her engagement ring, biting back his bitterness at the sight.
'I told him I'm keeping my name when we get married.' She honestly hadn't thought he'd make such a big deal about it. She wasn't the first woman to do this and she wouldn't be the last. But Ron's old insecurities had risen to the surface and he accused her of being ashamed of him. It wasn't that she was ashamed. But…
'Why?' Hermione rolled her eyes.
'Hermione Weasley.' She pronounced slowly and clearly. He repeated her, rolling the sounds on his tongue like a sherbet lemon. And like their former Headmaster's beloved candies, it tasted sour. He made an appropriate face and nodded.
'I understand. It hardly rolls off the tongue.' He took a sip of his now cold tea trying to remove the aftertaste of Hermione Weasley from his mouth. He repeated the phrase in his head. Hermione flowed freely and beautifully, like always. A symphony, more joyful than phoenix song…Stop it Potter, he scolded himself. He turned his thoughts back to Weasley. Hermione Weasley? God, no! He turned back to Hermione and was shocked to see tears running down her face.
'Hermione Weasley isn't me.' She muttered. Hermione Weasley was playing in her thoughts, over and over like the broken record of a one hit wonder. Her mind was suddenly reeling and the words fell out of her mouth before she could stop them. 'Hermione Granger-Weasley, I don't like that either. Ginny Potter sounds so much better, doesn't it?' She sniffed. She still hadn't noticed she was crying, sobbing really.
'Hermione!' Harry yelled, moving past shocked and right onto scared. He reached out and grabbed her hand where it sat limply on the table. She looked up and Harry was struck dumb by the intensity in her brown eyes.
'Harry? I don't want to pretend anymore.' She whispered. Then she grabbed a fistful of his shirt and pulled him towards her. Both would later swear that time stood still for a moment. And then they were kissing and any rules they had, unspoken or otherwise, were blown out of the water. This kiss far surpassed anything they'd felt at seventeen or with their respective Weasley partners. Feelings that had never faded had instead, with one kiss, doubled in intensity. They were in love, had always been in love, and would always be in love, with each other.
Wednesday afternoons had a new rule after that day. Anything less than three earth shattering orgasms was a waste of an afternoon. Luckily, that rule was never broken.
For twenty-seven months, two weeks and five days Harry and Hermione continued their Wednesday afternoon tea and reminiscing.
They were lying in Harry's bed (actually Harry and Ginny's bed but they wouldn't allow themselves to think about that) when Hermione finally broke.
'Ron is pushing for a wedding date. I can only tell him I want a career first for so long before he gets suspicious, if he isn't already.' Harry, more susceptible to guilt than his lover, said something stupid.
'Maybe you should just choose a date. Is Hermione Weasley all that bad?' Hermione's answer was to untangle herself from Harry's embrace and get dressed. At the bedroom door she turned back to Harry, who was still in bed mentally berating himself. He didn't want her to become Hermione Weasley anymore than she did.
'What if I want to be Hermione Potter?' she asked softly. With those parting words she left and the silence she left behind in her wake was deafening.
That night, Hermione returned Ronald Weasley's ring, apologised and moved into her own London apartment. It was larger and much nicer than Harry's. She felt quite smug about this fact. The windows let in more light. The rooms were more open. The floorboards were a beautiful stained wood. Perfect for sock skating. And the bed was much bigger.
Hermione waited patiently. She knew Harry would do the right thing.
Ginny Potter nee Weasley was not stupid. For years she felt she was losing her husband's affection and love. His behaviour in the last week just cemented her belief. The break up was mutual, the divorce amicable. The absence of any children made things that much easier.
A year later, Hermione now signs all her correspondences Hermione Granger-Potter. When she says it out loud it leaves a sweet taste on her lips.
A/N: If you think sock skating is OOC for Hermione then just remember, at some point in their life everyone has done it.