Pairing: Harry/Hermione (implied H/G, R/Hr)
Word Count: 1,105
Summary: It only takes three days for everything between them to change.
A/N: Title and lyrics at the end taken from "Calculation Theme" by Metric (thank you to anythingbutgrey for the prompts :))
Shell cottage is crowded. Bill and Fleur host the annual Weasley Summer weekend get-together. There is no way to get from room to room without stumbling into children running amok or people laughing. This weekend, as is the case every year, is all about family.
Harry Potter stands at one end of the kitchen, a bottle of butterbeer in one hand, his wife’s fingers twined in his other. His conversation with Charlie is about Quidditch – the Cannons versus the Harpies and who will win the cup this year – but his eyes are distracted, cast across the room, and all for someone else.
And Hermione Weasley stares right back at him.
Things have been like this for some time now – looks exchanged across a crowded room, secret smiles and glances exchanged when no one else is watching, subtle brushing of hands against arm or thigh or side.
Harry remembers hearing somewhere that the only way two can keep a secret is if one of them is dead. He wonders how much longer the two of them can keep their emotions bottled up and hidden in the dark before one them will drag their feelings, kicking and screaming, into the light.
“I need to talk to you. Come take a walk with me.”
The words are simple. Innocent. Harry looks over across the table at Hermione, who glances at him out of the corner of her eye. Ginny tries to get his attention at the same time James and Molly run barefoot and screaming through the backyard.
Harry nods, easing out of his seat and following her to the cliffs. The sound of the waves crashing against the rocks is soothing.
Hermione looks like she has something to say, but is not sure how to say it. Her mouth opens then closes three times before she sighs and turns her back, looking out at the ocean.
“I’m not quite sure how to say this.” Hermione’s voice is soft and unsure. Harry can’t recall a time he’s ever heard her sound so hesitant and confused. “I don’t know how to tell you this other than to just come out and say it.”
“Tell me what?” Harry can’t judge if what she has to say is good or bad – her back is still turned.
Hermione takes a deep breath, then says, so quietly he is almost sure he mishears her, “I love you.”
“Hermione,” Harry’s voice is strangled. “What-“
“I love you,” her voice is stronger now, and when she turns to face him, Harry sees that she has tears in her eyes. “I didn’t want to say anything. I thought if I didn’t say the words out loud that the feelings would just go away. But every time I see you and I look at you or you look at me… or you just touch me… those feelings just come back.”
Harry is stunned. This was not what he had expected when Hermione said she’d needed to talk.
“I know it’s wrong. But I love you and I don’t know how to stop.”
“Don’t,” Hermione cuts him off abruptly, her voice harsh, hand clenching into a fist. “Please, don’t.” Her voice is much softer now, pleading, and Harry can only watch helplessly as she turns walks away.
The rest of the afternoon passes by in a blur. Harry forces himself to engage in conversation with the rest of his family, to try to act normal, but is sure he does not succeed in keeping up the charade. By the end of the night, Ginny looks like she wants to ask him what is wrong.
“I love you and I don’t know how to stop.”
He goes to bed with the weight of those words on his mind. Ginny falls asleep as soon as her head hits the pillow. He doesn’t sleep at all.
“Take a walk with me?”
The words are phrased as a question now, and a loaded one at that, whispered under her breath beneath promises neither of them can keep. Harry glances up at her for a moment before nodding, quietly easing himself out of bed and down the stairs. The two of them keep a careful distance between them as they walk. As if one wrong move might push them both over the edge they are both clinging to so precariously.
The cliffs behind the cottage are beautiful during the day, but at night, they are a sight to behold. The sky is clear and alight with stars. There is no moon.
Hermione wrings her hands together in front of her and stares down at the ground or at the water below – Harry isn’t sure – as she begins to speak. “I didn’t plan for this to happen.” She swallows hard. “One day I woke up and realized what had been there all along. I hadn’t seen it. And by then… it was too late. We keep walking this fine line, pretending we don’t feel anything other than friendship for one another when we both know better.” She looks up at him, as if daring him to disagree with her. He knows he can’t. He won’t. “I just thought you should know the truth.”
“I love you too, Hermione,” Harry says, finally finishing what he’d been wanting to say to her since that afternoon. “And it’s never too late,” he murmurs, wanting desperately to reach out and touch her. He resists.
Hermione shuts her eyes tight. “I wish that were true.”
Harry stares out at the stars on the horizon. When he finally glances back at Hermione, her head is bowed, arms crossed tightly across her chest.
“We’re both fools, aren’t we?” she asks, voice broken.
Harry chooses not to answer. Instead, he pulls Hermione to him and presses his lips gently to her hair, wrapping his arms around her and molding his body to hers. She sighs, wrapping her arms around his waist. Harry can feel her tears against his neck.
They hold each other silently; the only sound is the waves crashing against the cliffs.
The next day, Hermione announces that she is pregnant. Congratulations fill the air until the the voices all blend together. Fleur pours champagne and passes out glasses to each of the guests.
Harry watches everything unfold silently from across the kitchen, his eyes never leaving Hermione, glass of champagne left untouched.
Hermione holds tightly onto Ron's hand, making her way through the joyful throng. She doesn’t look back at him this time.
‘Who put these bodies between us?’