Category: Harry Potter
Warning(s): Language, Violence, Scenes of a Sexual Nature, Contains Spoilers
Summary: A carefree man who knows little about a life outside of pranks and laughter. A compassionate woman who must distance herself from her own wants and dreams for the greater good. When the two spend a summer together, a wonderful love blossoms. Unfortunately, even the greatest of loves is tested...
Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me and I am making no profit in the writing of this story.
AN: A massive thank you to my beta for this tale, TenthWeasleyWriter, for making sense when I don't!
Chapter Thirteen: Fix Me
It felt like every dark thought she had ever had in her life was coming to the surface of her mind, as if her anger wasn't just her own any longer. Like it was the entire world's rage with only her body as an outlet. She felt overwhelmed, ready to burst from the more sinister nature of her thoughts. Hermione was drowning in them.
How dare others look down upon her for her parentage! Why did she have to face a possible life without her parents because a psychopath with a cause thought she didn't fit into his plan for an ideal world of magical people? The nerve of them all — those select few purebloods and their master, who was a bloody wannabe — to take away her rights, plant her picture in the Daily Prophet as an Undesirable, and force her to live in a state of near constant paranoia and fear.
How dare George Weasley not write to her after everything they had been through together!
Hermione felt like her brain would surely implode if she had to further think through the unclear circumstances leading up to her now-nonexistent relationship with her boyfriend, or whatever you could call him (was he once again just her best friend's older brother?). The break-up, or lack thereof, had already occupied a pathetic amount of her days. The crucial brainstorms of hers that were supposed to be solely dedicated to the hunt for the pieces of Voldemort's soul were being compromised.
To Hermione, thinking about the Horcruxes may have been the only subject more troubling than George. It was a rather hopeless feeling to know that the one Horcrux that she, Ron, and Harry had managed to acquire in the nearly four months since they'd left was impossible to destroy with all the methods that they'd been able to think up so far. What was the point of all this sadness and loneliness if nothing they did worked — if at the end of all this, she had no one to stand by her?
What if she really did die during this godforsaken war, just like she assumed she would?
No. She refused to be a casualty of this fight without seeing George again. She would not die without first giving him a piece of her mind. She wouldn't give him the pleasure of getting away with this.
"I want to strangle him!" she yelled wildly, picking up a nearby rock before hurling it against the nearest tree with all the force she could summon. "How dare he!"
The rock ricocheted off the tree trunk before landing further into the woods, off to the side of where she'd sat guarding the tent while the others slept. The whole ordeal seemed rather anticlimactic, and she promptly reached down for another rock in hopes of a more satisfying display to represent the rage she felt gnawing at her bones. Her very soul felt black as she thought about the hurt she wanted to cause the man that her heart still screamed she loved completely.
She was just raising her arm to give it another go, face tight in concentrated anger, when she felt a hand on her shoulder. Hermione jumped, spinning away in surprise while reaching for her wand without a moment's hesitation. The stone fell to the ground insignificantly.
"Give it over, 'Mione."
Ron held out a hand, giving her a look that said everything that he refused to actually voice. He knew what she was feeling, more so than even Harry most likely did. Harry had the weight of the world on his shoulders, but Ron and Hermione were there for him because they were his best friends — not because it was an obligation. Harry's connection to Voldemort was foretold. It was thrust upon him. For Ron and Hermione, it had been a choice. And, as with most difficult choices, whether it had been a good move or a bad move on their part was questioned at times of great weakness.
The Horcrux dangling from around Hermione's neck was a great cause of weakness.
Every time Ron put on the necklace, he was irritable, and wanted out. Thoughts of leaving plagued him, thoughts that made him question if he wanted to be at Harry's side after all those years of being dragged through hell for the other man. It was everything that Hermione felt, but increased tenfold with him because Hermione didn't also have the jealousy that she guessed Ron had burning in his veins.
Yes, Ron knew more so than Harry that the necklace was tearing her apart inside, turning her into a person she didn't want to be, a person filled with the same hate that those on the side of darkness must feel for people of her kind. She wanted no part in that. It shamed her to know it brewed beneath the surface of her own consciousness. It was the cause of too many shades of grey to acknowledge that even good people could feel such loathing in their hearts.
Nodding in understanding at Ron as the red haze that had clung to the corners of her vision finally ebbed away, Hermione tugged the Horcrux over her head and placed it after a moment of hesitation in Ron's waiting palm. She met his empathetic eyes with an apology reflected in the depths of her own. This wasn't the first time Ron had taken this burden off her shoulders, and she loved him for his help despite the embarrassment she felt for needing the offer. Her wounded heart was a weakness she couldn't afford to let rule her, especially around the dark fragments of Voldemort's soul.
"Harry's still sleeping. Why don't you go in and rest for a little longer before we have to set off again?" Ron tilted his head to the side, observing her closely as he spoke.
Hermione shifted on her feet, instantly exhausted now that her mind had returned to her full control. "I probably should."
"I'll wake you when we're heading out," he assured, lifting the necklace over his head and settling the chain around his neck. Hermione wondered if it was her imagination or if his face really had darkened the instant the metal met his collarbone.
She let his words hang in silence, choosing to take a moment and look into his eyes to make sure her best friend was still himself. His baby-blue eyes seemed navy, but she reasoned with herself that it was probably the dark of the night in the thickness of woods that gave them that effect. Hermione frowned at the falsity of the thought, the lie settling in her gut like a brick.
The darkness in his expression had nothing to do with the time of day.
Hermione reached forward and wrapped her arms around Ron's shoulders, pulling him against her in a firm hug. He took in a sharp breath of surprise, his throat bobbing as he swallowed. She rested her face in the curve of his neck and squeezed him until she felt his hands slowly move from his sides to settle on her hips. Only then did she relax her tense hold.
"Thank you," she whispered against his skin before pulling her face slightly back, dropping her hands to rest on his arms.
In that moment, as they met each other's gaze with only a sliver of air separating them, Hermione saw his eyes morph back to normal, despite the dangerous power hanging from his neck.
It has been months now, and I have received no word. Making up excuses like "you would write if you could" has become a harder task than the one I have gone away to complete. Your silence has made me feel rather desperate. Pathetic questions run through my mind, which is silly, because you've no way of answering them if you refuse to write. For example, did you try to write in the journal using invisible ink? If you did, it didn't work. I've tried the revealing spell without a hitch and you already know that the journals are protected enough without extra precautions. Which leaves me to think you're not writing because you simply don't want to. You wouldn't have misplaced the journal or something idiotic of the sort. You're not like that. So you must have just decided not to. Which means... Well, are we over? Your lack of reply will be interpreted as a yes.
As she set her quill off to the side with a shaking hand, Hermione wished she was less affected by the situation. She was proud of the tone of her letter. She wanted him to read it and know she was saddened by his lack of communication; however, she wanted him to also know it would take more than the loss of a silly summer romance to break her spirit. The last thing she wanted was to convey that she felt like she was going to pass out from heartbreak at the very thought of their love being nothing more than a summer fling, no matter how true it was.
"You look like someone just stole your favorite book."
Hermione glanced up at Harry while wiping a tear off her splotchy cheek. "No, just my favorite boyfriend."
"Only boyfriend," he corrected. "The only reason he's your favorite is because he's had no competition."
She glanced down at the table as he plopped onto the seat next to her, feeling berated despite the truth of his statement. It felt like she had gotten the most obvious, commonsensical question wrong on a high stakes test. Hermione wished she understood what the question truly was, though. She hated feeling dense.
"I don't like seeing you so down," Harry sighed.
"I'm sorry," was her immediate response, though she had no clue why she was apologizing. For making him feel bad? For making him watch her obvious sadness? That was ridiculous. Emotions weren't something predictable that could be controlled. They were like the wind: Felt, but untamed.
Harry seemed to be thinking along the same lines. He rolled his eyes before wrapping an arm around her shoulders, rubbing the shoulder furthest from him in reassurance. "Don't be silly, you can't help how you feel. It's just..."
Hermione looked at him expectantly.
"Well, it's just that... If you were to step back and think about this the way Hermione Granger would if she weren't emotionally involved, you'd probably agree that, logically speaking, your relationship with George was short and sweet, but started at an inconvenient time," Harry explained, looking straight ahead to avoid her piercing gaze. "There wasn't much room for the relationship to go anywhere with the war going on, no matter how spectacular it may have felt in the moment. Basically, what I'm trying to say is that — I get why you're upset, but I also want you to grow from this and move on as much as you can to focus on what's in front of you instead of what's in your past.
"George is an all right, but obviously immature, bloke, considering what he's put you through," he continued, absentmindedly scratching at the wood of the table where they sat with the hand not holding her to him. "So he's not worth the tears right now, especially if he's not willing to put his all into making your relationship work despite the distance."
Hermione pursed her lips and blinked rapidly to avoid crying. His words were true, so she shouldn't feel like her heart was being wrenched from her chest and stomped on in front of her. As Harry said, she was usually logical,and, logically speaking, all relationships ended eventually. Some just ended differently than others. If she weren't emotionally involved, she'd have already seen that and spared herself the trouble.
"I'm sorry if I came off too harsh," Harry added, turning to her. His emerald eyes were bright, and easy to get lost in as she met them. He frowned, reaching a hand up to brush tears from her cheeks before his thumb fell to stroke her chin softly. "I just want you to stop hurting and see what's in front of you. It's selfish, but I need you here with me — not off in your head thinking about the person who broke your heart."
"I understand," she whispered hoarsely, giving him a watery half-smile before leaning forward to press a kiss to his cheek. "Sometimes the people who love us tell us things we don't want to hear because we need to hear them."
Harry grinned warmly. "You really are the brightest witch of the age, Hermione."
She blushed, dropping her head to his shoulder. "Thank you, but when did you become the brightest wizard?"
He merely laughed and pressed his lips to her forehead in response.
Hermione let herself gaze off, basking in the warmth provided by Harry as she snuggled into him further. They had placed several charms around the large tent to ward off the winter chill, but to not much avail. There was really no hiding from the cold of the November air. And regardless of her chat with the good-intending man to her side, she couldn't stop her thoughts from drifting to what George was doing at that moment. Was he cold? Was he warm in his bed? She understood everything Harry had said, and fully intended to move on. It was the right thing to do, especially given the obviously one-sided nature of the love she felt. However, it would take time to let go.
She leaned up again to kiss Harry's cheek, grateful for his obvious love for her. He may have just given her the push she needed to move on.
That was when Ron walked in.
George had never been a pessimist. On the contrary, he was known as being optimistic to the point where it grated on others' nerves. It was something that both he and Fred and he had lived by for as long as he could remember: When life hits you with a Stinging Hex to your arse, keep on moving so you won't have to bear the pain of sitting down. He couldn't remember a time when he had doubted that before Hermione Granger had weaseled her way into his heart. Now that she had, though, he was not feeling particularly hopeful for his future. At least, not for his future with her.
He looked down at what he had written, tightening his hold on his quill as he did.
I know we never really made sense together. Not to the outside world, anyway. They thought we were too different, that my personality was too loud for you and that yours was too sensible for me. Yet I thought we were the most rational idea to ever be thought up. Where I was an idiot, you were a genius. Where I was chaotic, you were orderly. When we got together, it felt like we were two pieces of a well-balanced puzzle finally being put together. Being with you felt perfect, like every question I ever had in life was answered by your presence. It was like that yin and yang thing you once lectured me about. I actually paid attention to you as you went on and on about something that probably was never even covered in Muggle Studies. That was how much I loved you. So what happened?
It's been forever since we saw each other — since we've talked or written or communicated in any bloody way at all. It'll be Christmas in two days, and you left at the beginning of August. Sometimes I feel like our summer together was a dream, since there's nothing left but a journal with one line of your writing and over a hundred pages of mine. Am I writing to a ghost, or did you really love me at some point? If Fred wasn't here to remind me of reality and cheer me up about you, I'd check myself into St. Mungo's for being bonkers enough to think you had ever seen something more in me than a prankster. Yet, you did. I know you did. But now you don't, and it's confusing as hell. So this is the last letter I'm going to write you. I know I'm a prankster and put on a good show at being unbreakable, yet you should know better than anyone that it's all an act. You broke me, Hermione, and continuing to write to you won't fix me. I know that now.
Take care of yourself,
It was painful to read the finality of the letter. It was emotional and thoughtful, nothing at all like something that someone who didn't really know George would expect from him. That thought alone made him feel resentment rise up within him. Was that the reason for Hermione cutting all ties to him? Was it because she finally jumped on the bandwagon and started thinking of him as being as one-dimensional as everyone else seemed to think him? He had once thought it would never feel right to be mad at her, but in that moment he knew he had been wrong. The only right thing to feel about what had happened to their relationship was anger.
He saw red then, not realizing that he'd stood from his chair, grabbed the ink bottle from the desk, and chucked it as hard as he could across the room. The smash of the glass as it hit a picture on Fred's and his wall was enough to get him to blink a few times and take in what he had done. There was ink dripping down the wall across from where he stood, and shattered glass littered the floor beneath it. The picture sat in a puddle of the broken pieces and shiny streaks of ink.
The door flew open just as George ran both hands through his hair in frustration, still feeling the pain in his chest that had fueled his outburst to begin with.
"What the bloody hell are you doing up here?" Fred demanded, his arms outstretched in disbelief as he stood in the middle of the room, taking in the results of George's anger.
"Painting," George answered with a scowl.
Their oldest brother, Bill, walked in a step behind Fred. His hair was out of its usual leather strap and hung freely around his shoulders, in a manner which George was sure would cause some muttered choice language beneath the breath of their mother. Bill scratched at the back of his head, looking much less affected than Fred before giving George a tired grin. "Everything all right here, brother?"
George gave him a long glare.
"You've got to stop being such a bloody dunce!" Fred exclaimed, ignoring Bill completely as he paced back and forth in front of his twin. "Now you're throwing things? What are you, a troll? Me mad, me throw. Roar — no! You will not throw things in our room unless it involves the creation of a prank!"
"Are you done?" George asked tiredly, falling back into the seat he had vacated during his "troll-like" tantrum. "When'd you get here, Bill?"
"Not long a-"
"No, I'm not done, because you're acting like the world has ended just because you had a break-up with a girl you dated for like an hour," Fred yelled over Bill's response, pointing a finger over at the inked wall. "This is exactly why you've been driving me crazy for the last few months. I've done all I can to help you feel better, but you've done nothing but act like you're in mourning. Stop sulking like a ruddy child and get over her, mate. Hermione isn't worth it if she's going to drop you like you're nothing but a book she's finished reading. Let her go. For Merlin's sake and mine, let her go."
The room turned awkwardly silent once Fred's rant ended. George huffed, refusing to break the stare he had on the wall to his right and grace his twin with his attention. The last thing he wanted right now was to acknowledge Fred in any way after his lecture. George couldn't remember ever feeling lectured by him before. Neither of them was known for being impatient or prone to rows with each other, so the entire thing was bizarre, and by the looks of Fred from George's peripheral vision, he was just as lost on how to deal with the fallout as George was.
Bill didn't quite have that problem.
"Not to break up this loving display or anything like that, but I came for a visit because of Ron," Bill explained, sitting down on Fred's bed before leaning forward to rest his elbows on his knees. "It may not be a good time to hear this, George, but I thought you'd like to, because it relates to Hermione and Harry."
As he had done when Fred mentioned her name before, George flinched. He didn't want to know anything about how she was doing. It hurt to think that her world hadn't shattered the way his had when she'd broken contact. Her life was still continuing despite his having ended when she broke his heart. The only time he felt alive anymore was when he was doing something for the Order of the Phoenix, such as Potterwatch. It felt good to feel like he was helping the cause. A small part of him was dying to hear news of her, though, regardless of his validation for not wanting to. He felt an ache begin at his temples as the warring thoughts banged around in his head.
"Is Ron all right?" George asked finally.
"Yeah. Well, no. You see, he left them," Bill said, scrunching up his eyebrows in a way that showed his confusion over the idea. "I couldn't believe it when I saw him, but he did. Said he had a row with Harry after catching him with Hermione. Said he'd gotten jealous because he was a — and I quote — 'complete and utter dullard.' Hermione must've taught him a new vocabulary or something. Anyway, he didn't want anyone else to know, but I figured it wouldn't be fair for you not to hear about it."
George felt anger swell up inside him that was completely unjustifiable, given that he had been feeling anything but protective of Hermione moments prior. His hands clenched into fists as he imagined how good it would feel to punch his brother or the Chosen One in that moment.
All of the jealousy he had felt because of Ron since he'd started dating Hermione had boiled over when she'd cut ties to him. On various occasions, he'd wondered if this was her way of choosing Ron over him. How could the dimwit leave her? And what the hell was going on with Harry? His imagination conjured up a picture of Hermione and Ron from when they'd dueled together and then had come into the kitchen laughing. The image morphed into an image of Hermione with her arms around Harry while the bespectacled man rested his head on her shoulder before the wedding. George wanted to kill both men with his bare hands.
Fred must've read the look on his face, because he smiled cheekily, obviously over his earlier annoyance. "Well, it's a good thing you've already thrown the ink, yeah?"
The sky glimmered with stars, the light of the moon reflecting off the freshly fallen snow in a beautiful array of dark blues to match the shade of the night surrounding Godric's Hollow. Christmas lights and decorations were strewn about the various cottages lining the street where Harry and Hermione strolled hand in hand, glancing about nervously while trying to contain their excitement over what questions the village could possibly shed light on.
"Happy Christmas, Hermione," Harry whispered, keeping his voice down, since Hermione had already scolded him for his volume three times in the last five minutes of their explorations of the small town square in what had been the village the Potters had disappeared to in order to protect their prophesied son years ago.
Hermione smiled in return, squeezing his hand. "Happy Christmas, Harry."
It had been over a month since their trio had become a duo. Ron had come in from his turn at guarding the tent, caught one look at Harry and Hermione snuggled up together on that night she'd written her final letter to George, and lost it. What followed was the worst fight Hermione had ever seen two people who cared for each other have. Both men had said horrible things, and she knew it was because of the stress of their circumstances and the terribly destructive nature of the Horcrux Ron had been wearing until he'd ripped it off and disappeared. Hermione had cried harder that night than she had ever cried in her life.
That night, Harry officially became the one person who she loved and cherished most, because he hadn't left her like everyone else had.
There were times over the past month where her thoughts drifted back to the night Ron left, and she remembered how guilty she had felt for allowing him to take the burden of the Horcrux from her so many times while he bottled his own feelings up for her sake. She could have been able to prevent his blow-up by being stronger and allowing her heart to stop beating for the love of George Weasley. Yet she didn't, and now here they were, just her and Harry. She had lost her parents, her best friend, and her first love, all in the last five months.
"I love you, Harry," she murmured softly, drawing to a stop and tugging him around to meet her eyes seriously. His bright eyes gazed back at her softly through the flurries that drifted to the earth around them. With George or Ron, the setting may have been romantic. With Harry, though, it was perfect.
"I love you too, Hermione," he smiled, leaning down to kiss the corner of her mouth sweetly before tugging her forward. "Now let's go find that church."
AN: This marks the second to last chapter until the fateful moment when Hermione and George come face to face again! I'm excited about it, so I hope you are too. I hope you enjoyed my twist on the reason Ron left, as well as Hermione and George giving up. I hope it was believable — especially George's part. I figured heartbreak would be a good enough reason for him to get a little more poetic!
The poll for my next story is officially CLOSED! The winner is ... George! I'm not surprised, since I have some very loyal George/Hermione-shipping readers. :) Fred, Blaise, Charlie, and Harry came in just short of each other. So, I've decided to give you peaks of each by way of one-shots. My Blaise/Hermione story, Travel Bug, is up already — check it out and let me know what you think. I'm currently writing my Fred/Hermione, plus I plan on including Fred a bit in my next multi-chapter story in a creative way, so look out for that in the future (there may be a prequel coming soon). As for Charlie/Hermione and Harry/Hermione, I'm going to brainstorm them for you all. It will happen! I promise!
Thank you for keeping tuned into this story! I love your excitement for each update, and look forward to hearing from you! Happy Reading/Writing folks!