hellowonderland: (harry hermione // evil crack whore)
[personal profile] hellowonderland
Title: The Darkling World (This is what Happened)
Author: Trixen
Summary: After Deathly Hallows, Harry learns the truth about… what really happened. Hint: things are quite different than he initially thought.
Pairing: A Harry/Hermione show



Oh, how it is in her mind, in her dreams, the rivers rushing like night. Hermione dreams in snow, pale as the sky was pale, white as the ground was white, cold as the air was cold.

Her dreams smell of a dark wood.

Her dreams, oh.

+

He puts her food down and Hermione nods her thanks. The wine is a thick, dark red, the hummus drizzled with sesame oil, the plate of goat cheese and tomatoes studded with salt.

“Free,” the barman says, handing her a slim glass, frosted at the top, clear. Aniseed, she smells. Ouzo. He nods at her, smiles, gap-toothed. He can barely speak English but seems to want to communicate.

She cannot smile back. But she drinks it in one go to show her appreciation.

She eats the hummus first, attacks it really, straight from the spoon. Her belly rumbles even as she does it, eats this glorious Muggle food. If she ate pumpkin pasties or butterbeer, she’s sure she’d vomit.

How easy this has all been. The thought comes, unbidden. It hadn’t been difficult to leave – strange now, almost otherworldly, how simple it had been, now that she could imagine endings as violent or as harsh or as barren as the desert. A few months after the graduation, she’d said, I’m going to leave for a bit. Travel. No one had answered, or even lifted their heads from greasy pillows. So she did. She packed up, and she left.

Who could complain, after all. Not her parents, still swimming in a silver Pacific. It has no memory, she’d whispered to Ron. That ocean. Apparently it’s an amnesiac. Not Ron, for that matter, who had to sleep next to Molly’s bed so she wouldn’t climb from it, break the window, jump.

Not Harry, too busy fucking Ginny to sleep so she wouldn’t slit her wrists again. Like little red throats, until Hermione had performed the spell, stitched her up. What else could she have done? Left her to bleed. And what could she say, after all? Love me. Not her. And she could see the appeal of it, coltish legs and sunburnt hair, big saucers for eyes, rimmed with tears and black thick liner. She could see it – she was the brightest witch of her age, she wasn’t stupid but she couldn’t stick around to actually see it.

Of course, she’d stayed for the cleanup—the initial cleanup of Hogwarts, for Fred’s funeral – oh God, she felt her throat close at the thought of it, that cold day, with frost on the ground and the burning heads of the Weasleys, like suns against the frozen sky. She remembers most the feeling of entrapment, like a wolf in a cage.

A tug on her hair and Hermione realizes she’s been drifting again, in her mind, and she feels startled back, her skin as tender as if she’d been boiled down to a syrup. She looks to the side and Draco’s there and she’s actually not that surprised – she knew he was traveling too – but oh, dammit.

“What are you doing here?”

“Same as you, I expect,” he drawls and sits down, orders a vodka, straight.

She considers killing him, but she’s been choking on Avada Kedavra for months, thoughts of Harry’s still, broken body in Hagrid’s arms. She can see it, very clearly, and she can recall the taste of blood in her mouth. She had bitten the inside of her cheek. Later, Ron said she tasted of salt.

“I don’t remember inviting you to sit down,” she says crisply.

“Last I checked, Granger, I didn’t care,” he responds, and sips his vodka.

She stares at him out of the corner of her eye, at the way he is tanned and blonder, devastating in a way she can admire as a casual observer. He’s wearing a thin white t-shirt, jeans, sweat on his collarbones and under his arms.

“Why are you in Greece?” he asks her.

“To escape,” Hermione says, weary of dishonesty and puerile hatred of someone she doesn’t even know, not really.

“I understand.”

She supposes he does. She continues to eat and offers some to him. “Hummus?”

He looks amused. “No thank you, Granger. Vodka?”

“I will actually.”

He orders another and they toast.

+

Outside, against the stars, he takes her into his arms. They dance, and just like that, she is back, smelling the tent, smelling herself, making promises of forever. They are drunk and Hermione feels loose, free to say things she would not normally ever admit.

“Didn’t he see?”, she says, “didn’t he see I was sad because of Ron. But not in the way he thought. I knew, you see.”

Draco says, “Yes I do. You were angry that Ron would eventually return.”

A hot blush in her cheek. Hermione sways to the imaginary music, to the sound of the stars. “Yes. Because when he did—it would start. Everything would start.”

“How long have you been gone?” he asks against her ear.

She can smell his breath. “Eight months.”

“You have to go home.”

“I know.”

+

The boys live on Cherry Tree Lane, and sometimes that reminds her of a Muggle film she watched as a child, and her mind swims with two realities that crash together, refusing to coexist.

They find a room for her in the attic. It is all very civilized. They go to work, eat together when they can and at times, Ron lands a kiss somewhere near her ear, his lips dry and disappointed. She finds them a house owl and they name it Cyril, a name very serious for such a tiny, sprightly little creature. Its eyes are bright with faraway skies.

Hermione receives a job offer to work in the Ministry library, and she goes gladly, wishing only to disappear into the darkness of the books, the caverns, the halls, the history. Surrounded by words, she feels safest. She feels she can say nothing.

It has all been said.

+

The manager has set aside a large table for them, and they sit around it, drinking butterbeer and firewhiskey, eating sausages and steaming treacle tarts. Hermione eats sparingly, her head growing swimmy on too much wine. Harry stands – it seems sudden because they weren’t expecting it, but in a way she was – and he raises his glass.

“I’d like to propose a toast.”

“Here, here,” Cho calls out.

“To Dobby-“he breathes out. “To Dumbledore, to Snape. To Cedric, to Fred, to Lupin and Tonks… my Hedwig,” and as he speaks, as he names the dead, they all begin to whisper the names with him. He closes his eyes.

Later, Mr. Weasley is doing shots at the bar and George is drunk and maudlin, constantly looking to his left, something he does often now. Ron is laughing at Cho. Hermione suspects Cho is hitting on him. Neville is reading out loud from the Quibbler to Luna. She turns and looks out of the window and sees Harry pass. How foolish of him to go outside, she thinks, and then answers herself witheringly – yes, Mum – but it IS winter, and so she follows, and finds him there, beneath the frozen sky. He is leaning against the wall of the pub, booted feet in the snow, sipping a firewhiskey. She is wearing a thin, red dress, and her body is thin beneath it, and she wonders – it’s stupid really, but has he noticed? Did he see her nipples under the fabric, did he look at her legs or the bones of her shoulders?

He nods at her and gives her his coat. It slips around her like flesh. He’s wearing a navy sweater, open a bit at the throat. She can see the beginnings of the hair on his chest and her body tightens, with sudden, sharp, unbearable desire. Her mouth waters, hot salt between her teeth.

“What’s been happening with you, Hermione?” he asks. “I haven’t seen you much since you arrived back from the great adventure.”

“It wasn’t a great adventure,” she says flatly. “I’ve been busy.”

She can tell that he knows she is lying. But how do they broach the subject? He worries his bottom lip with his teeth. How could he possibly know how to broach the subject, when he doesn’t truly know what’s changed?

“Drink?” he offers.

She sips. The firewhiskey travels down her throat, a burnt path. Her tongue licks out to feel the spot where both of their mouths have been.

“How’s things with Ron?”

She is startled back into herself, and she takes a longer, deeper drink, the liquor rushing through her. “How do you mean?”

“Are they getting on? They really should be.” His voice is almost teasing.

“Why is that, Harry?”

“Because it was meant to be, I think. It’s… right. You and Ron.”

She laughs hoarsely, hands him back the whiskey. “Remember when we considered staying in that forest forever? Growing old?”

He looks at her for one quick moment and then drinks the rest of the whiskey. “That was war. That wasn’t real. You and Ron are real.”

She swallows. “I didn’t mean—“

He shrugs. “I know. I just meant… it had to end sometime, Hermione.”

He goes inside, and she looks up at the stars, hanging in the sky, and smells him on the coat, smells herself. Wonders why … it had to end. Wonders why she has such a problem with the ending, the period on the sentence, slicing it neatly, like a dismemberment.

+

Draco takes a long, deep drink. The scotch burns the air between them. The pub is dark. Named something ridiculous. The Witches Tit perhaps, or The Queen’s Legs.

“It’s so difficult – we can’t capture that brilliant clarity of the first kiss.”

She thinks of Ron, knowing without knowing that it’s all wrong, that it was simply a secondary school crush, but how could it have been simple, faced as they were with death and damnation? She can’t even look at the Weasleys lately, knowing she will break their hearts somehow, someday. Molly Weasley has their china picked out. And Ron—the tent will always be there, between them – when she chose Harry, and after, when she chose Harry too—Harry and death.

“Saying… I’ll go with you, it was the truth,” she says. “It was finally the truth. Telling him that I would go with him --- it was the only way to say it. I love you, Harry. And he didn’t get it—he didn’t even hear it. Neither of them did.”

Draco smirks. “They’re both utter gits. Tell me another secret.”

“Not until you tell me one,” Hermione replies, thinking that she’s a bit drunk, a bit wobbly.

He considers that. “I’m in love with Ginny.”

Hermione laughs. “Right. Pull the other one, Draco.”

He just looks at her. “I’m deadly serious, you insensitive twat.”

“Hmmm—“ Hermione stops short with her giggling. “Oh. I see. Why?”

“Mad thing for redheads.”

“Ah—“

“Never mind. Don’t say anything. Another secret from you.”

“A lot of people think I’m intelligent. At least somewhat. And I’m not.”

Draco blinks. “This is all rather sickening, Granger. I gather I’m expected to protest?”

She shakes her head. “No, I’m serious – people think I’m smart. They think I know everything. I don’t – I don’t even know my own heart. I can’t answer those questions.”

“Yes you can.”

“I don’t follow my heart. If I did, I wouldn’t be here.”

He huffs out his breath noisily. “Granger, what the fuck do you think you were doing at Hogwarts if not following your heart? Don’t expect sympathy. It’s your own stupidity that led you here, just as much as your supposed intelligence.”

“How do you figure that?” she asks, annoyed with him.

“You were smart to follow who—what you loved. You were stupid—unutterably stupid – to let it go.”


+

In early February, she works late one evening. The library is reassuring, quiet and the work is mindless. Up on a step ladder, stacking books, cleaning the shelves, wiping dust away without a wand. Just a cloth and a little polish and she finds it quite satisfying, really, quite lovely to clean out the cupboards, empty her mind. She doesn’t want to go home, to face Ron’s expectancy and the knowledge that hangs between them of—shouldn’t there be more? Lately, they both have the reek of disillusionment.

Someone is staring at her. A shiver between her shoulder blades. Hermione looks around but there is no one in the room. Her gaze travels to the Common Area, a huge indoor parkland that the Ministry built – after – with ponds, trees, benches, and a sky enchanted to appear exactly like the sky outside. It’s dotted with stars, and Hermione is reminded sharply of the dining hall at Hogwarts, and oh the pain in her womb. She birthed it, she feels sometimes, and she knows every inch, every secret, like a Mother would know a child. Every slip and hollow, every bitter salty secret place.

There is a still figure on the path, alone, wearing a suit, a cloak slung over his arm. It shocks her for a moment, because her mind accepts that it is Harry – and he’s grown up, and he’s so tall and strong – but she can’t fathom it. Can’t fathom he isn’t a little boy anymore, or an awkward teenager wearing Quidditch robes and a shy smile.

Wave, she thinks. Wave, you idiot. But her arm won’t work, and she turns, facing the books again, thinking the library must be like a fish bowl from the path. He must have stopped when he saw me. Hermione keeps stacking, but she cannot see anything but her own desire. A few moments, and then footsteps, quiet and sure.

“Good day?” his voice is mild, low.

She almost chokes. “Yes—good… very good. A lot of books. Which, I suppose comes with the territory.”

“Hermione… turn around.”

“I can’t,” she whispers and jerks when she feels his hand on her back, just brushing the ends of her curls.

“It’s long.”

“It’s been long since I got back,” she says. “I let it grow.”

“Turn around.”

Hermione does. He steps closer. “You’re going to fall if you’re not more careful.”

“I know,” she says and he does not question her tear-bright eyes. He comes closer, until he’s a mere breath away. She can almost taste it in the air, his mouth, his breath. Hurting with expectation, with possibilities, she leans forward.

Harry pulls away. “I’m sorry.”

“I know,” she says, and he leaves.

+

Something wakes her. A shriek of a bird, crying to its mate against the hot sky. She gets up, feels her forehead. A book falls off her chest and she remembers sharply, falling asleep in Ron’s room, a cup of tea by her side, reading Yeats. Her throat sticks, she needs a glass of water. Although she is only wearing a white cotton t-shirt and underwear, there is sweat under her arms and between her legs. Disgusting, she murmurs to herself, and stands, shaking her hair out with one hand. Padding down past her bedroom, she descends the stairs and stops short, almost skidding a bit on the tiled floor.

Harry is sitting on the couch, an open bottle of wine beside him, a glass in his hand, half-drunk. He just stares at her for a moment. The darkness is inky black but she can make out the shadows of his body, see his eyes burning.

“What is this?” he finally says, gesturing.

Hermione looks to his right and nearly vomits. The Penesieve. Her Penesieve. “Did you—“ she breaks off, shuddering. Her voice is shrill, panicked, but she can’t stop. “Did you see?”

“Yes, I saw,” he says flatly. “Did you want to have a look?”

Hermione closes her eyes. “I don’t need to. I remember it all.”

With that, she is back, there, in Godric’s Hollow. The softly falling snow. Each frozen breath. She spun the holly in the air, the wreath, and they put it against their names – James and Lily – and stepped back.

She rested her head against his shoulder. “Oh, Harry…” she whispered.

His fingers touched her chin and he tipped it up and she knew what was about to happen. He kissed her, just like that, lip to lip. With Ron gone, it was always so close, and she could feel it then, a door inside of herself being kicked open – oh God, oh no, how she wanted him – how shameful that was. In this place, of all places on earth.

Harry gasped a bit against her mouth, rested his forehead against hers. “Oh—of course.”

“Of course what, Harry?”

“Of course it’s you.” He almost laughed. “I wondered why—it’s never felt quite right with any girl. I just—haven’t – I mean, it’s always been lovely and I suppose I thought that’s all there was.” He touched her cheek with the backs of his fingers. She shuddered. “I see now.”

Minutes later, and they were in the tent, and he was pushing her back against the table, his kisses slow and deep and his hands hooked beneath her top. Hermione knew she had to stop it—she had to and then he said, “I love you—“ against her neck, and hot branches spread from her nipples to between her legs, and she felt it all, like burning.

“We can’t, Harry…” she forced out, and he laughed a bit again.

“Why not? I’ll talk to Ron – I’ll talk to Ginny, I’ll make this right.” He continued to kiss her and each one was a revelation. But she was panicking now. She knew, what he didn’t know, what men could never imagine. A betrayal like this would be catastrophic. Ron would never forgive him, Ron would leave for good. Ginny—she could see Ginny slapping her, leaving a hot stripe across her cheek. The Weasleys were his family and he would never see them again. Their little world, that they had so gratefully and carefully sown and tended, would be ripped asunder.

“Oh Harry…” she whispered.

“Oh—“ he pulled back a bit. “Oh… don’t you, don’t you love me then?”

“Harry—“ she breathed out and touched his forehead, pushing back his dark hair. Even as she held up her wand and recited the memory charm perfectly – the brightest witch of her age – even then, and just as she could see it taking effect, she said, “I love you. I love you so much I could die with it.”

Her eyes were dark, dry riverbeds. He remembered nothing, and so they went on. And on. And Hermione left for Greece.

Now, as she stares at him, she is certain she is going to be sick. Running from the room, she collapses in front of the bathtub, the only light the moon showing through the glass of the window. He comes in behind her.

“Why?”

It is a simple question, and she feels it all the way through her. “I thought they would never forgive us.”

“That’s clear. Did you wonder if I would ever forgive you?”

“You weren’t supposed to know,” she whispers. “We couldn’t hurt everyone. We couldn’t. It would have destroyed everything.”

“How did you--” he bites his lip. His hair curls damply at his neck, and she can smell his sweat. It smells clean, good. “How did you keep the memories?”

“It wasn’t difficult,” she says, remembers doing it. “It should have been – but I suppose I was … driven.” She pauses. “I was -- I’m not proud. But I as frightened. I thought Ron and Ginny might never--”

His mouth twists. “I knew something... I knew I did. You must have left pieces of this with me.”

“No,” she says. “I didn’t—I don’t know what you mean-“

He flushes suddenly, hot. “I do. I’ve—I’ve thought about you. I would be stupid not to.” He turns away and talks to the wall. “Once, you came out of your bedroom at night, wearing something similar to what you have on now. Underwear, a tank top.” His fingers curl inward, she watches them. “I could see-- I could see shadows -- your nipples-- between your legs,” his voice is almost unrecognisable, and she stands, touching his back.

“Stop - don’t.”

She ignores him, continuing up underneath, to the damp skin of his lower back. He turns, pushing her back against the wall with one hand, bending his mouth to the hollow between her collarbones, tasting the sweat there. He tastes of wine. She almost faints, thinks she is going to, has dreamed about this for so long, lying cold next to Ron, lonely, angry, ardent.

There is no time to be polite. He rips her underwear in his haste to get them off and she pushes down his jeans – he wears nothing under them – and like that, like a breath, a pleasurepain surging oh please please god please he is inside of her and Hermione falls back against the wall, her head cracking the flimsy tile.

Harry makes a sound like a groan but she has never heard that sound before in her life, deep from his throat and then from her own, and he is holding her legs as far apart as he can get them, his thumbs hooked behind her knees.

There is a streak of ink across his cheek, and she realizes with a feeling not unlike pain that it came from her fingers, sweating against the book as she slept. The words are smeared, the meaning has been lost but oh

her dreams are on his face.

Finis.
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