A/N: I went to type the next chapter of 'Pierced' and discovered that I couldn't focus with this plot bunny assaulting me! So here's a sad one-shot (my first attempt at depressing sadness).
This story was inspired by the song 'My Immortal' by Evanescence. Don't worry, though; I assure you this isn't a songfic.
"It is a curious sensation: the sort of pain that goes mercifully beyond our powers of feeling. When your heart is broken, your boats are burned: nothing matters any more. It is the end of happiness and the beginning of peace."
- George Bernard Shaw
A Day in the Life
She was running through the forbidden forest, Harry right behind her. He could hear Voldemort cackling maniacally as he continually apparated to keep up with them, shooting spells all the while. The fire that had engulfed Hogwarts illuminated the forest with an eerie light, casting long, flickering shadows.
Harry fought the burning in his lungs and soldiered on, only worrying about his girlfriend of a year as she ran a few feet in front of him. He could see the end of the trees, where he and Voldemort could fight with no obstructions and most importantly: no Hermione.
Then it happened.
Harry's foot hit a tree root and he went down hard, hitting his head on a fallen tree. He wasn't all too surprised to feel warm blood make its way down his face as he tried to recover from the spots dancing in his vision.
"Harry!" she called, coming to a stop.
"Go!" he yelled desperately.
With a loud crack Voldemort appeared between the two, wand pointed at Hermione.
"No!" Harry yelled right as Voldemort yelled "Avada Kedavra!"
"Hermione!" Harry yelled as he shot bolt upright in his bed, his shirt soaked with sweat.
None of his dorm mates woke up—Harry had put a silencing ward around his bed after waking them up every night for a week straight following the final battle.
He was hyperventilating, the stale air filling the room proving not enough to fill his aching lungs. He swallowed hard and reached out a shaking hand to grab his glasses as he slipped out of bed. He staggered down the stairs to the common room, clutching his chest in an attempt to stop the pain in his heart.
He heard the soft patter of rain on the windows as he put on his glasses only for them to immediately slide down his sweaty nose. He sighed as he calmed down a little, his heart returning to its normal rhythm in his chest, very much testament to the fact that he was alive despite how much he wished he wasn't.
He spun an armchair away from the warm, cozy fire so it faced the windows. As he sat down he saw that it was 4:30 in the morning, four hours before lessons were going to start.
Not that it really mattered.
It had been a month. A month since Voldemort had attacked the school. A month since he had killed the bastard once and for all. A month since he had seen the light, the keen spark of intelligence, the warm love…a month since he had seen all of it leave her eyes.
A month since he had died along with her.
Three weeks since he had spoken at her funeral, describing through a near-closed throat how much she meant to him. Two weeks since he had returned to school, only because he knew she would've wanted him to. One week since he had finally broken down for the first time since that night and just cried the whole day.
A bolt of lightning streaked through the night sky, connecting the heavens and earth for a fraction of a second. The resulting boom of thunder was so loud it rattled the windows. At least somebody was still lamenting with him. Everybody else seemed to have moved on already—how, he did not know.
He sat there sympathizing with Mother Nature and receiving her sympathy in response until he heard movement upstairs, signifying the near-arrival of the beginning of lessons.
He sighed and stood up, not bothering to grab his school bag. As he stepped out of the common room he heard an angelic voice say, "Hello," and looked up to see Hermione holding a piece of toast for him, a look of slight concern on her face. He smiled and reached out a hand to grab the toast only for his hand to go right through the apparition his mind had projected, the disturbance causing the vision to disappear, leaving him to stare at the spot that the 15-year-old Hermione had just been standing.
He slowly closed his hand into a tight fist and lowered it to his side before taking a deep, calming breath. "You alright, mate?" asked a concerned voice behind him. Harry didn't even open his mouth to respond to the question—they both knew what the answer was. Ron cleared his throat. "Let's go get some breakfast, yeah?" he asked a bit hesitantly.
Harry hated it. Everybody treating him like he might just fly off the handle at any moment and lose it or something. He was depressed, not crazy.
Nevertheless, he gave Ron a small nod without turning around and began walking in the direction of the Great Hall. He still didn't know if he was going to eat or not but decided that doing something, anything, was better than standing in the same spot the whole day.
"So," said Ron, finding the silence awkward. Harry found the silence comfortable. "D-Did you understand Lupin's homework?" Harry, having not done his homework, decided not to respond. Ron, his face growing a light shade of red from the effort of trying to come up with something to say to get Harry to respond, finally said, "You know you're wearing muggle clothes, right?"
Honestly, Harry didn't care about what he was wearing but looked down to find that Ron was right, he was indeed wearing the jeans and t-shirt he had fallen asleep in the night previous. He remained silent, leaving Ron to sigh in defeat. Harry was thankful for the blissful silence. He didn't flinch as another peal of thunder rent the newly-born silence.
They arrived at the Great Hall and Ron entered immediately, eager to escape the depressing aura around his best friend. Harry stopped, however, as he heard Parvati say in awe, "She's beautiful."
"Yeah," he said, turning around to watch Hermione descend the stairs gracefully, her periwinkle blue dress and her done-up hair and her radiant smile making a small, unconscious smile make its way onto Harry's face.
"Are you quite alright, Mr. Potter?" asked a voice from his left, shattering his vision.
Harry sighed and entered the Great Hall, Professor McGonagall following him looking worried. He sat down at the far end of the bench all by himself, grateful that he could be alone. It didn't last for long, however, as Neville sat directly across from him without a word. Surprisingly, he didn't say anything and they both just sat there, Neville eating as Harry rested his chin on his arms and stared unseeingly at the tabletop.
They stayed silent for all of breakfast until the bell signifying ten minutes until the beginning of class rang, causing a lot of commotion and noise as all of the students got up and increased the volume of their chatter. Neville slowly stood up and hoisted his bag up onto his shoulder. He stood there looking at the forlorn figure of the Boy-Who-Won for a few seconds before opening his mouth to say something comforting. But he stopped himself, instead just reaching out and giving his friend a pat on the shoulder before walking away for class.
Harry sat there as the minutes dragged on and the Great Hall completely emptied but for himself and Hagrid. Finally, the half-giant stood up and approached Harry, the usual smile and twinkle in his eyes absent as he looked at his favorite student. "C'mon, Harry. Up ya get."
Harry didn't move, having not heard Hagrid. The big man picked Harry up as easily as Harry would've picked up a doll and set him on his feet before giving him a small push on his back. "Get ter class," he said with little authority or conviction. He didn't blame Harry for not wanting to move.
Harry, who had still been looking down, looked up as he took a step in the direction of the giant doors. Hermione was running at him, a big smile on her face and her hair streaming behind her. "You solved it!" she cried, her 13-year-old eyes alight with joy. "You solved it!"
As she hit him with her hug she disappeared, though the memory of the hug warmed his heart. He took a confident step in the direction of the doors and continued to focus on putting one foot in front of the other, using her hug as the source of his strength. Hagrid branched off to head down to his cabin with a smile on his face.
Harry was ten minutes late to potions, but all that happened was a slight thinning of Snape's lips. The potions master actually empathized with his least-favorite student for once and even he couldn't find it in himself to take any points off of him. "Now, what exact function does the powdered bicorn horn provide in Polyjuice Potion?"
And Hermione was in the empty seat next to Harry, practically standing in her seat as she tried to get her hand as high as possible. Harry turned his head the other way to find Ron looking at him with a worried expression on his face. Harry sighed and Ron looked back up at the board to take notes, a habit he had picked up after the realization that he wouldn't have Hermione there to do his homework.
After potions came charms, which Harry decided he wasn't in the mood for. He headed to the library, where he sat on one of the comfortable sofas available for students to relax on as they read. Madam Pince didn't say a word as she saw the grieving young man come in.
Harry took out Hermione's favorite book, Pride and Prejuidice by Jane Austen, and resumed where he had left off. And she snuggled up to him as he did so, her head resting on his shoulder. A small smile made its way on his face and he continued to read, albeit with a little less focus.
Before he knew it lunch had arrived, meaning he had also missed Herbology, not that he minded much. He stood up, breaking the apparition, and headed down to the Great Hall. He only ever missed a maximum of two classes in one day, knowing that Hermione would've already been mad enough about the two.
"Where were you, mate?" Ron asked through a mouthful of food as Harry sat across from him and grabbed a leg of chicken.
"Library," said Harry dully as he took a bite of the leg to avoid any further conversation.
Ron just nodded, catching onto Harry's mood for once. Lunch passed by very similarly to breakfast, though Harry didn't see Hermione at all. He actually stood up when the bell rang this time and headed to Transfiguration with Ron. The class passed by in a blur, Harry not really focusing on anything but the vision of Hermione on his left dutifully taking notes. She was biting her lip and constantly pushing a stray strand of hair out of her face.
The last class of the day was Defense Against the Dark Arts, where Harry reluctantly participated in trying to cast a patronus. He had no motivation and couldn't focus hard enough on a happy memory, all of them involving Hermione. He was the only one who couldn't cast one—even Neville did—and he was met with a disappointed look from his favorite Professor, Remus Lupin.
When class ended Remus asked that he stay behind, and he waited until every student had exited before speaking to Harry. "You can't go on like this, Harry," he said gravely.
"I can go on however I want," he said bitterly.
Remus took in a deep breath and let it out slowly, trying to think of the correct words to bring Harry out of his depression. "Would Hermione want you to go on like this?"
Harry knew the answer was no, but he couldn't find it in himself to say it out loud. Thinking about her made it feel like he was being stabbed in the heart. "She died because of me," he said softly, his heart rising up to his throat.
"She died for you, Harry," Remus said with conviction. Harry looked up at him, a cold fury in his eyes as Remus continued. "Do you think it's right to throw away everything she gave her life for?"
"What exactly did she give her life for?" Harry asked coldly.
"She gave her life so you could have one, Harry," said Remus. "That was all she ever wanted. I can't believe you of all people would turn your back on her."
Harry jumped to his feet, his anger rising. "What do you know of it?" he asked angrily. "What do you know about anything?"
Remus's only response was to solemnly look down at the ring on his finger. The counterpart was buried with his wife on the same day as Hermione. "I know everything about it," he said softly.
Harry faltered for a moment, then said, "Yeah, but at least you have tangible evidence of your love. She left you something," he said, hurt and loneliness now lacing his voice.
Remus glanced at his son's crib, which was in the corner of the room. Then he looked back at Harry. "You think she didn't leave you anything?" he asked. Harry remained stubbornly silent and Remus shook his head and said, "Look around you, Harry. Dora may have given me life, but Hermione gave you life."
Harry remained silent for a few seconds. "I don't understand," he finally admitted.
"Everything she did, starting in first year, was for you, Harry," he said. "Always by your side trying to make sure you had the chance to live as a normal person. She was trying to make sure you would be able to live after defeating Voldemort. You think you would've made it this far without her?" Harry shook his head even though he knew it was a rhetorical question. "Every breath you take, everything you see, even the pain you feel, was all her gift to you. She ensured you would live. I don't think it's right for you to squander that by living in the past."
Despite how much he wished to deny what his professor had just said, Harry knew that Remus was right. He swallowed his pride and said, "But it's just so hard."
"I know, Harry. I know," said Remus sadly. "But you have to do it, if not for yourself than for Hermione."
Harry nodded slowly before saying, "You're right."
Remus gave Harry a small smile and gestured to the door. "Now go out there and don't waste what Hermione gave you."
Harry nodded and left the room, eager to tell Hermione what Remus had just taught him. He ran down to Hogsmeade despite the pouring rain, not caring if any teachers saw him. When he arrived he apparated to a cemetery just outside of London, where Hermione was buried next to her parents. He conjured some flowers and went to her grave before kneeling in front of it and gently placing the flowers on it. He gently pressed his hand against the grass, imagining that Hermione was down there trying to reach him.
He told her about how his day went and how much he missed her before telling her about what Remus had taught her and how grateful he was for her gift, ending with the promise that he would do his best to enjoy the gift he had given her. He spoke for over an hour, telling her everything he was going to do for the both of them, a lot of the things on his list stuff she had wanted to do.
By the time he was done he was soaked to the bone and his teeth were chattering, but he felt oddly warm. The rain had died down, and as he was leaving he thought he heard a very faint 'I love you' come from behind him. He turned around and smiled even though there was nobody there. He softly said, "I love you too," before turning around and exiting the cemetery.
Oddly enough, the sun had poked through the clouds.
Harry gasped as his eyes shot open, tears stinging his face and throat. He stepped out of bed only for his shaky legs to give out from under him, his knees making a thudding sound as they connected with the floor.
He reached over and grabbed his glasses and jammed them onto his face. He couldn't stop the tears as he shakily stood up and staggered to the door, which he wrenched open before running down the stairs. He took deep gulps of breath as he ran through the castle to the Head Girl's dorm, tears blurring his vision. He gave the password to the portrait of Morgana, whose lips thinned as she let him in. He didn't blame her—it was 3:30 in the morning.
Harry ran through the Head Girl's common room and pounded on the door of her room, desperate to see her. After a few minutes of pounding the door finally opened to show a very confused Hermione, who asked, "What's wrong, Harry?"
He grabbed her in a tight hug, surprising her. He had never really been one to initiate hugs. She felt that he was shaking as he sobbed into her hair, and she hugged him back just as tightly as she wondered what he had dreamt about. Despite defeating Voldemort a little over a month ago he still had frequent nightmares.
She led him to her bed and tried to sit him down on it, but he wouldn't let go of her. He was still too relieved that she was alive and well to let her go—that had been the most vivid dream he had ever had.
Hermione gave up trying to sit him down and just held him and softly asked, "Was I dead?"
Harry nodded against her hair and squeezed her a little tighter as the last of his tears slid down his face. He was taking deep breaths now and relishing the feel of her, the smell of her, the signs that this was reality. He finally sighed and lifted his head to look down at her, tilting her head up with a soft touch to her chin.
The intensity of his gaze sent shivers down her spine and she knew that there was no way he didn't see how red her cheeks were. "My dream," he said before swallowing convulsively. "It made me realize something."
"What is it?" she asked with a little apprehension.
Harry licked his lips, drawing Hermione's attention to them. She did the same to hers without realizing it. He tilted his head down and Hermione's eyes fluttered closed as Harry's lips met hers in a kiss that was full of love. Her arms made their way up his body before coming to a rest around his neck, pulling him even closer to her as his arms did the same around her waist.
Kissing Harry was everything she had dreamed of and more. He pulled back after a while, the taste of her still on his lips. Their arms were still around each other, their foreheads lightly touching. "I love you," he said simply and with complete sincerity.
"That must have been a very intense dream," she said in response with a cocked eyebrow.
Harry nodded seriously and said, "You've been by my side this whole time. I should've realized it sooner, because I think I've known all along now. But you are the single most intelligent, loyal, beautiful witch I know. There's nobody else I'd rather entrust my heart to."
Hermione smiled and kissed him again, relishing in the feeling of his lips against hers. "I love you too," she said.
"Y-you do?" he asked, flustered. "I mean, we only just had our first kiss. You don't have to say it just because I did."
"Of course I love you, you idiot," she replied lovingly. "Why else would I have put up with all of that craziness?"
Harry grinned at her and said, "Thanks for that, by the way. I couldn't have done it without you."
"My pleasure," she replied before kissing him again. "Now go to bed. We have to get up in a few hours for class."
Harry gently unwrapped his arms from around her and made his way to the door. "Good night," he said.
Hermione sighed dramatically. "I have a queen bed, you know," she said. "It's too big for just one person."
Harry's hand froze on the doorknob and he turned back around. He grinned at her and said, "Well then, I guess it's up to me to fix that then."
"Well, you are my boyfriend," she said with a mischievous smile. "It's your duty."
Harry liked the sound of the word boyfriend. He walked up to his girlfriend and picked her up bridal style, causing her to gasp in surprise and wrap her arms around his neck reflexively. He gently set her down on the bed and climbed in with her, wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her back against his chest.
They were silent for a few moments as they got used to this new, comfortable position before Harry said, "G'night, 'Mione. I love you."
She grinned into the darkness. "Good night, Harry. I love you too."
Harry closed his eyes and quickly fell asleep with Hermione in his arms.
His dreams were devoid of nightmares for the first time in a month.
A/N: Okay, I know I said it was going to be depressing, but that was just to lead you all on. I can't write anything but 'Happily-Ever-After' fics no matter how hard I try to do otherwise. I just don't have it in me.
Anyway, thanks for reading and I hope you review!