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Missed Opportunities

Miss [mis]

Verb (used with a subject)

1. To fail to take advantage of (to miss chance)

Noun

2. A failure to hit something.

Verb phrases

3. Miss out on, to fail to take advantage of, experience, etc.: You missed out on a great opportunity.

Opportunity [op-er-too-ni-tee, plural—tees]

Noun, plural—ties

1. A favorable, appropriate, or advantageous combination of circumstances

2. A chance or prospect

Missed opportunities—they're everywhere. We face them every day.

"I should have taken the train, and I wouldn't have been in this traffic jam and late for work."

"I should have volunteered for that project—now I can't show that I'm ready for a promotion."

"I should have rented that movie before work when I knew it was in because now they don't have any copies left!"

Shoulds. Should have done this; should have done that. A lot of times, it's pointless and you stop thinking about the opportunity you missed almost instantaneously—stupid, trivial missed opportunities. Afterthought "Oh well's" ensue, barely worth a second thought.

Then sometimes, it's big. Sometime it's life-altering. Sometimes, it eats at you every day—reminding you what could have been.

But other times, it's even worse than that because when you mull it over in your brain, you don't see one missed opportunity or even two…no, you see every chance you've ever been given, you see how many times you've missed this same opportunity. Hundreds of missed chances for this one opportunity—the biggest opportunity of your life.

And it's too late.


How long has it been since my last missed opportunity? I dunno, I've stopped counting the days. Except it's been nine hundred fourteen days, eleven hours, and fifty-four minutes.

I guess I thought I stopped counting the days.

Nine hundred fourteen days, eleven hours, and fifty-four minutes since I last saw her, really saw her. Nine hundred fourteen days, eleven hours, and fifty-four minutes since I said good-bye, really said good-bye. Nine hundred fourteen days, eleven hours, and fifty-four minutes since I've started counting the days of my last missed opportunity.

Hermione left for Bulgaria two and a half years ago. Krum—I refuse to use his first name—took her from us with the lures of dream jobs and clout to influence those who wouldn't listen to her otherwise. His stipulation was short and simple: leave her past behind. Or perhaps not so much as her past as me.

He never told her that, of course. But I can remember the talk we'd had before they left. He told me of all the things he could offer her. Didn't I want my best friend to be happy because that's what she was with him, happy. I've caused so much despair for her…couldn't I just let her be happy?

Something in the back of my mind told me he was being manipulative. Something in the back of my mind told me Hermione would never give me up like that. Something in the back of my mind told me she couldn't be happy like this.

Something in the back of my mind told me he was right.

So I withdraw my claim—what claim?—on her. I wanted my best friend to be happy because she deserved that more than anyone I knew. If she didn't want to go, she didn't have to. But if she did want to go…it was her choice.

She went. She promised she'd write.

She wrote. I wrote back a few times, slowly phasing myself out of her future—my letters getting shorter and shorter despite having more to say to her each time.

Then I stopped. She continued to write…then she stopped too.

Life got in the way. She had too much on her plate. When she visited, I always arranged some sort of previous commitment and only saw her long enough to keep up appearances. I contacted her only when social protocol dictated I had to: a generic gift and card for Christmas and her birthday.

I was certainly never alone with her. The conversation stayed light—the type of conversation you might have with an acquaintance when thrown together with one.

And so I tried to move on. I tried not to think about her every day. I tried not to muse bitterly over ever missed opportunity I had with her.

When we were eleven and she gave me my first real hug I've ever gotten, I shouldn't have let go.

When we rescued Sirius in our Third Year, how many hours did we sit in the Forbidden Forest, just waiting? Hours? Hours of conversation I missed. I didn't know how I felt about her then—hell, I was only thirteen. But I knew she was important in my life, even then. Why couldn't I have told her how important she was to me? How much I valued her friendship? Her courage? How impressed I was with her loyalty to me?

In our Fourth Year, we sat in the Library for hours and days on end, just the two of us. I could have told her then. I should have asked her to the ball. I should have been the one rescuing her at the bottom of the lake, not that fool. She has always been the most important thing to me…why didn't I ever tell her?

Even when we sneaked around under Umbridge's nose our Fifth Year, she was by my side—breaking the rules right alongside me like she always had. It was different when she did it than when Ron did. She didn't do that type of thing so when she broke the rules; she put herself out on the line and went against everything she believed in—for me, for the greater good.

Cho had been jealous of her, and at the time I couldn't see why. Now, how could I have missed it? Like any other girl ever had a chance. Time has changed the way I see things, even big things. The battle at the Ministry of Magic is a blur in my mind these days and I can only remember bits and pieces of it. The parts I can recall are of her—of me trying to protect her, above anyone else. Even when my brain didn't register how I felt for her, my heart did. My instincts told me to keep Hermione alive at all costs—at any cost.

Because Hermione had to live. Hermione had to grow old.

Staring at her in the Hospital Wing with that unfamiliar protective feeling in my chest…another missed opportunity. If I had told her then how I was feeling, even if I didn't understand it, I know she would have been able to tell me what it was. I can almost picture her sitting there in the hospital bed, hair frazzled around her face, listening to my embarrassing revelation of these odd instincts swimming in my veins. She'd tilt her head to the side, give me that famous Hermione-Granger-eye-roll and say in patient but slightly stuck up voice, "Oh honestly, Harry. It's almost too simple. You're in love with me."

I smile at the fabricated memory. There isn't a doubt in my mind that I would have believed her.

Another missed opportunity.

Our Sixth Year had been a mess. Our friendship wasn't what it should have been. I had been scared of what she meant to me and I didn't know what it was that I felt for her. She was too precious for me to ruin.

And I kissed the wrong girl. I kissed the girl I thought I was supposed to. I kissed the girl that didn't terrify the hell out of me because as selfish as it sounded, if something happened to Ginny…I could go on. Don't get me wrong, I'd feel terrible and it would hurt, but it wouldn't completely incapacitate me like it would if something happened to my Hermione.

What I felt for Ginny was…fake. It was nothing. It was a distraction that lasted less than a month. I could leave Ginny behind easily. Hermione wouldn't be left behind, and I'm grateful for that more than she will ever know.

I tally it up as another missed opportunity.

Out on the run, alone in the tent with Ron's departure from our little trio…I don't even like to think about how many times I missed chances to tell her how I felt. Day upon day, night upon night—just the two of us.

And not once did I tell her I loved her. Not once did I tell her what she meant to me. I never told her thank you.

Before I went to meet Voldemort in the Forbidden Forest, I thought about telling her. I wanted to tell her. How could I burden her with this though? I thought that would be my last opportunity, and I didn't take it. In retrospect, it may have seemed like a stupid thing to say right before I died—how important was that really when so many lives hung in the balance?

At the same time, it was the most important thing in the world.

And I ignored it.

But we all survived. We lived to tell the tale of the Battle of Hogwarts.

And we lived for me to tell her how I felt. How I couldn't have done any of this without her, my best friend.

Why was I thinking about all this right now? It should be the last thing on my mind. I look down at my glass of Firewhiskey—a small glass not even a quarter full.

I drain it and enjoy the fire burn down my throat.

Of course, such vivid memories can't be suppressed just because I will them too—especially ones I don't really want to forget.

"So you're really going, huh?" I said, looking at Hermione's packed things.

She smiles ruefully. "I know it seems like the stupidest thing in the world to do right now, but…"

"You need to get away for awhile." I finish, understanding completely. I had imagined the same sort of thing after all this was over too except we'd always gone away together.

Hermione nodded. "I knew you of all people would understand. And it won't be long. It's a good opportunity. Viktor said he would help me."

I nod and try to hide my true feelings. "Of course."

"Don't worry, I'll visit, and write. Promise me you'll write back?" She demanded.

I look at her, a thousand words on my tongue. I want to tell her to stay. I want to tell her I love her. I need her. I'm sorry for everything I've done. I'm sorry for the sort of life she had to go through because of me. I'm sorry she feels like she has to go away.

I'm sorry she won't go away with me.

"Of course I'll write." I reply with a small smile, my hands shoved deeply in my pockets.

She pulls me in for a hug and suddenly those thousand words double. I want to tell her how good she smells. How she feels. How she is home to me.

But I'm silent. That what I do best at every opportunity given to me. Instead, I hug her closer, trying to find the words to say good-bye when my world was coming to an end.

I step out of the shower and dress quickly. Dark blue jeans and a black button down.

I shouldn't be thinking about her right now. I have a date tonight.

I'm not enthused. But I told Ron I'd go. Who knows, she might be perfect for me.

I laugh out loud at that thought.

I grabbed my keys, and just as I walk out of my building and towards my car, my phone rings. The number causes me to slow my pace and I come to a stop.

RIINNGGG! RIINNGGG!

My finger hovers over the ACCEPT button before finally, I press it. "Hello?" My voice is rough.

"Hey."

"How are you?" I say automatically, and despite all my practice, I can't keep the smile out of my voice just from hearing the sound of her voice.

"I'm great. I…can we have coffee?"

I laugh, feeling lighter than air. I don't know why. I know I'm building myself up to just get hurt. I'm going against my rules, but I'm not strong enough right now to do otherwise. "You hate coffee. And it's almost eight o'clock at night."

"You're right. So we'll make it hot chocolate with loads of whip cream." She teases back.

Tell her no! You have a date! "That sounds great. Where do you want to meet? Should I get a ticket to fly to Bulgaria?" I joke.

"No. I'm back in England…for good."

My eyes widen.

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