A/N: One-shot plot bunnies need to stop assaulting me! Must. Fend. Off!
More Than Anything
Hermione Granger staggered to the front door of the apartment she and Harry had purchased on their first anniversary, bags of work she needed to make more headway on weighing her down. Luckily, she had planned ahead, so she had her keys in her hand already. They had a security system that had a lock that could only be opened by key.
She managed to push the key in but couldn't turn it with only two fingers. She tried in vain to do it anyway, only to come up short time and time again. Just as she was about to swear in frustration, the door swung open, Harry standing to greet her. Without saying a word, he took the bags from her and took them up to her desk. She sighed in relief and went upstairs after taking her shoes off, noticing as she passed Harry that he was dressed in an immaculate muggle suit.
She frowned, trying to figure out why he had dressed like that. Did he have some sort of meeting with Fred and George? As she sat in front of work she shrugged the question off, deciding that if it had been important Harry would've told her.
She immersed herself in her work, trying her best to burn through the pile, barely even noticing when Harry brought her up her favorite dish: Creamy chicken pasta with Alfredo sauce. It was delicious.
Then, when the time for bed came, Hermione changed into her pajamas and got under the blankets with Harry, who didn't react to her at all. He just stared at the ceiling.
"Harry?" Hermione said, rubbing his chest. "What are you thinking about?"
Harry shook his head and looked down at her, though there was a hint of sadness in his eyes. She decided to change the subject. "What was up with the fancy suit today? Something important?"
Harry sighed, making Hermione realize that he hadn't talked to her all night. "Harry, what's wrong?" she asked, concerned.
His mouth pressed into a line and he rolled so he was facing away from her, dislodging her from him and his warmth. Maybe he had a bad day, Hermione thought, rolling the other way to give him the space he obviously wanted. Her eyes fell on the calendar and a strange feeling immediately triggered in her mind. She rolled on to her back, pressing the heels of her hands against her eyes as she tried to remember what it was.
"Think, Hermione, think," she whispered quietly. She knew it had something to do with Harry being dressed nicely, too.
She looked over at Harry, who was now also lying on his back, only he was staring at the ceiling. There was complete silence for a few minutes, then Harry said, "It's January fifteenth."
Hermione looked over at him. "I know," she whispered. "I just wish I could remember…something important…"
Harry turned his head to meet her eyes and sighed. "It's our anniversary, Hermione."
Hermione froze at that, her heart thumping loudly in her ribcage. He was right; it was indeed their anniversary. "Crap," she said. "I'm so sorry, Harry. Work was totally hectic, and…and…" she could see that he really didn't care for her excuses, so she petered out. "I'm sorry," she whispered, tears beginning to collect in her eyes. How could she have forgotten?
Harry brought a hand up to tenderly brush her cheek, a sad look on his face. "Look, Hermione," he began, making Hermione apprehensive. "I know you love your job, I know your job requires a lot of work, and I know your intentions are all good and I'm very proud of everything you've accomplished," he said. "But…I just…I feel that with every day that passes, I'm losing more and more of you. Tonight was our third date in a row you missed, Hermione," he said, disappointed, making Hermione's heart wilt. "I just want to ask a couple things of you. If you can, I just want you to try to stop taking on extra work so you can have weekends off, and I just want to see you more. Lastly, I want you to make up for the date we missed tonight by going out with me next Wednesday, in exactly one week," He paused and gave her a small smile. "I love you, Hermione, and…and…I miss you."
Hermione gave him a watery smile and said, "I'll do my best, Harry, and I'll definitely make it on Wednesday. I love you too."
"All right then, 'Mione," he said before giving her a peck on the lips. "Good night."
"'Night," she said, rolling over and shifting subtly.
Harry responded just as she wanted as he wrapped an arm around her stomach, pulling her back against his chest. She smiled and snuggled into him, lightly intertwining his fingers with her own. Sleep claimed her quickly.
Hermione was glad that everything was back to normal between her and Harry, the days flying by. Soon enough it was Wednesday again.
Hermione was at work, proofreading a law that helped protect centaurs while she chewed the end of her quill. Everything looked good.
She sighed and stood up, stretching, glancing at the clock. It was 8:30.
She smiled and grabbed her stuff, done with work for the day. She apparated home directly from the office and unlocked and opened the front door, surprised to find it dark.
"Harry?" she called. Where could he be? "Harry, are you here?"
After getting no response, she flicked on the lights and went upstairs, thinking Harry might have gone to bed. The bed was unoccupied, though, except for a single piece of parchment.
Her heart pounding her ribcage in apprehension, Hermione reluctantly picked up the letter and began reading.
I kind of had a feeling this would happen. Do you remember yet, our date that was supposed to happen at 7?
"Shit," Hermione swore, sitting on the bed to prepare herself for the worst.
It's alright that you forgot; I didn't really expect you to remember. What I asked may have been too much. I know that you love me, but it seems that it wasn't enough to compete with your job. I love you so much that it hurts, Hermione. It also hurts to be doing this. But what hurts the most is investing every ounce of my love into you and not receiving the same. You and I both know that if you had wanted to, you could've changed. You of all people can do whatever you want when you put your mind to it. It kills me knowing I wasn't worth it.
"But you are," Hermione choked out through her quiet sobs, wishing Harry could hear her.
I know it's horrible for me to be breaking up with you through a letter, but I'm afraid that if I had tried to do it when you were standing right in front of me I wouldn't have been able to do it.
Always know that I love you, Hermione. I wanted this to work more than anyone, but it's just not possible when only one of us is invested in making this work.
I love you and I'm so sorry,
Hermione stared at the letter for a few seconds before slowly letting her hand drop. The letter fell to the floor slowly as she stared at his side of the bed. Then she started hyperventilating and ran to the closet, wrenching the door open.
"No," she whispered disbelievingly, seeing that Harry's clothes were gone.
She ran into the bathroom next, looking for any sign that he might be joking even though she knew he'd never joke about something as serious as this. There was nothing. "Please no," she cried, feeling her throat start to burn.
She staggered back into the bedroom and fell on the bed, clutching her pillow as she began to let out body-wracking sobs. "No," she moaned thickly.
Why couldn't she have just remembered the damn dinner? And why would he leave her just because she missed a couple damn dinners? She was busy! He didn't understand! Her job was too demanding; there just wasn't enough time to fit him in around work!
"Dammit," Hermione choked out, clutching the pillow even tighter as she continued to cry her heart out even though it was breaking into microscopic pieces.
It was that type of thinking that had made him leave her in the first place! If she had just paid more attention to him and spent more time with him…if she could remember to meet him for a date…none of this would've happened. She didn't realize how poorly she had treated him. She was just taking him for granted since she had known he would always be there. Looking back on how things had been made her sick and ashamed of herself. He really was a trooper for staying with her for so long.
After a good amount of crying, Hermione began to settle down. All that was in her mind was that she needed to get Harry back. Nothing else mattered.
She groped for the phone, unable to see well through her tear-blurred vision, and speed-dialed her mother, who picked up on the second ring. "Hello?" she said.
Hermione opened her mouth to speak, but admitting it out loud to someone else brought a fresh wave of tears. "Hi mum…" she said shakily.
"Hermione, why are you crying?"
Hermione knocked on the Burrow's door, a beautiful white backdrop of snow behind her. She had cried herself to sleep last night after talking with her mum for a while. She had been scolded for a few minutes, of course, but then her mum had been nothing but sympathetic. She had cried a little again this morning, so her eyes were a little puffy and red, but she honestly didn't care.
The door was opened by Ron, who just stood in the doorway and didn't invite her in. She tried to tiptoe to see over his shoulder, but he was too tall.
"I-Is Harry here?" she asked nervously.
"I want to say no," said Ron, scratching his chin. "But Harry told me to tell you that yes, he is staying here. He wants to be left alone at the moment and wishes you luck with your law tomorrow." Then he licked his lips and in a quitter tone of voice, said, "But something's weird with him, y'know? Like he really did have his hopes up. I think he's depressed."
"Will you let me see him?" Hermione asked, her heart somewhere near her feet. Like he really did have his hopes up.
"No can do," he said apologetically.
"Please, Ron," she pleaded. "I just want to make this better. I promise it'll get better."
Ron took a deep breath, then said, "I really don't think that's a good idea. Might make him more depressed." Hermione opened her mouth to object, but Ron cut her off. "Plus he's got his big speech in front of the European Warlock Federation on Monday. I think it's best he's got no potential distractions. Seeing you right now is just going to mess with his head."
Hermione swallowed, taking in what he said. Then she asked, "His speech at what?"
"The European Warlock Federation," Ron said slowly, looking at her suspiciously. "Remember, that whole spiel about your department, equality for all wizards, modernizing the magical world, and all that jazz? We had a dinner party three months ago to celebrate the fact that they allowed him to speak, remember? You…you couldn't come, that's right," Ron said, now remembering.
"Ron, will you please let me see him?" she asked desperately. "Please?"
But now Ron was getting angry, a hint of disgust apparent on his face. "The fact that the only thing he's talked about for the past three months was how proud you'd be when he told you is something I can't shake from my head. Every time I saw him, I'd ask him why he hadn't told you yet and he always said you were either too busy or stressed to sit down and just enjoy a quiet, mini-celebratory dinner with him. All he wanted was to cook you a lousy meal and tell you, and I come to find out he got not even one chance over the past three months to do it? You were too busy for him?" He said, his anger mounting to the point that he was clutching the door so hard his knuckles were white. "Well, sometimes it's mutual Hermione. Harry's too busy for you right now. So leave, and you wait for Harry to make time in his busy schedule to come see you."
He slammed the door in her face, leaving her to clench her fists as she looked down at the ground. She wanted to be angry at Ron but couldn't find it in herself. She knew every word he said was true, even if they did cut deeply.
She apparated home and cried again, guilt and heartbreak tearing at her chest.
"All my notes, future projects, and reference books," Hermione said, showing Luna, her former second-in-command, around her new office. "It's all yours, provided you just let the boss know I'm quitting."
Luna stared at her for a long moment, scrutinizing her, then said, "Hmmm...okay." Then, as Hermione was walking at the door, Luna said, "You'll get him back, Hermione. He loves you."
Hermione barely hesitated, her head now held a little higher. Every fiber in her body wished Luna was correct.
It was Monday night, the evening of Harry's speech, and Hermione was sitting on a bench in a park. She had sent an owl to Harry a couple days ago asking him to come to their favorite park when he was done with the speech, no matter how late it was. It was just about ten at night and her heart was racing, nervousness eating at her stomach. It was snowing again, white flakes falling on her coat as her breath curled into mist in front of her. She really hoped Harry had gotten the letter. Hopefully Ron hadn't done anything with it.
A loud crack made her sit straight up, looking around for Harry. That had definitely been the sound of apparation.
She found him on her left, looking around for her. She took a few minutes to drink in his features before standing up and walking over to him, her heart slamming against her ribcage so hard it hurt.
They stood staring at each other for a few minutes, then Harry quietly said, "Hey."
"Hi," Hermione said, unable to think of anything else.
"Look," said Harry sadly. "You don't have to apologize or anything. I get it."
Oh Merlin, how she loved this man. She ignored him though, staring deeply into his eyes as she simply said, "I love you."
Harry sighed, dropping her gaze. "I know," he replied. "And I love you too. I just…I can't go on like this."
Hermione took a deep breath and tried to remember what she had been planning to say, only to come up blank. So she spoke anyway. "Harry…" she said. "When you l-left me, it really put things in perspective. Nothing has any meaning if you're not in my life, including my job." She paused and waited for him to meet her eyes. "So I quit. I was being an idiot. No job's worth the love and time I get to spend with you. I took you for granted. I thought…I thought you'd always be there," she admitted quietly. "But I crossed a line, and I realize that, and I just wanted you to know that I really am sorry for the way I treated you."
Harry chuckled a little thickly, his eyes a little wet. "Hermione, I love that you love your job. I didn't want you to quit; I just wanted you to love me more than it."
"I did, though, and I do," she said sincerely.
"You may really have loved me more than your job," Harry replied, "but it doesn't matter what you feel on the inside if it doesn't show on the outside. Coming home at nine every night and going straight to bed, working just as long on weekends, and not showing up to our dates doesn't show that to me. How am I supposed to know that you love me more when all I see is you putting your job first?"
"What about my actions now?" Hermione said defensively, unable to take the pain she felt with every one of his words. "I quit. I'd rather not have that job than not have you."
"I realize that," said Harry, giving her a small smile. "I was just letting you know what I felt going through that. I'm trying to help you learn from your mistakes."
Everything was silent for the span of a few seconds, then Hermione began laughing. "This world's gone topsy-turvy," she said. "I'm learning from you? It was always the other way around." Then, when she calmed down, she quietly said, "You don't know how proud I am of you for making that speech today. You really are an amazing person."
Harry was smiling sadly at her. "Hermione…" he said, making her heart sink. That wasn't a good tone of voice. "I know what you want. I…I just don't know if I can give it to you right now." Her face fell, her gaze settling somewhere near his chest. "I think we need to spend a little more time apart."
"No," Hermione blurted before she could stop herself. Then, realizing she had nothing to lose anyway, trudged on. "I think we spent enough time apart. One day apart made me realize what I'd done wrong, the next four were excruciating. I learned, Harry. I learned from my mistakes. I understand a second chance is a lot to ask for, but I'm begging you. I don't think I could go another day without you. So please, Harry, please come home," she said pleadingly. "I love you," she added quietly.
Hermione's heart pounded a tattoo in her ribcage as Harry debated with himself mentally. Then, finally, he said, "On one condition." Hermione nodded quickly, still holding her breath. "Get your job back."
Hermione had to wipe the tears off her face as she gave him a watery smile. "The office is closed right now. That'll have to wait until tomorrow."
Harry smiled at her and closed the gap between them, hugging her close. She hugged him back and tilted her head up, melting into him as his lips met hers.
"I love you," he mumbled against her mouth.
"I love you too," she breathed, incredibly warm in his arms.
The snow stopped falling around them as they continued to hold and kiss each other, neither of them wanting to ever let go. Because as long as they had each other, nothing else mattered.