Balancing Debts - A Debt Repaid
A/N: Meant to do some writing on my other unfinished pieces, but this falls' Deathly Hallows film started to depress me. A plot bunny got stuck in my head and forced me to write this story. Ostensibly, this takes place in the 7th book, right after Harry and Hermione leave Godric's Hollow, the scene where they get ambushed by Nagini. In reality, I can't remember all the details from the book and don't want to look for a copy so just assume Hermione saved Harry's life sometime during the last book. Shouldn't be too hard to imagine.
"Thanks, Hermione. You really saved my life." The exhaustion and relief was evident as Harry leaned back on the large oak. Hermione held him in a loose, half-embrace to his side.
Her concerned jaw slackened and her eyes shot wide as her pupils dilated. "Saved your..." she said in a whisper.
"Hermione, what's wro..." but Harry wasn't able to finish his question as she quickly leaned forward; her lips firmly crushing his own. It was the most passionate kiss he had ever experienced bar none. When her tongue started probing for entry, he gladly obliged and as one they met on the field of battle - and it was good.
Finally, after one of the most perfect snogs in history came to an end, both gasping for breath, chests heaving, and fiery desire in both their gazes, Hermione spoke.
"Harry James Potter, I've loved you since you were eleven. Will you marry me?"
Harry sat frozen on the ground. Hermione had come to straddle his waist sometime during mid-snog and his arms were wrapped possessively around the small of her back. His brain had seized up and it took Hermione untangling an arm from around his neck and lightly brushing a thumb across his forehead while calling his name to bring him back to himself. "Marry? Bu-b-but... I thought... best friends, you- me, what about Ron?" Panic was on face.
She began to laugh. Not just a chuckle, but a hearty, throw your head back, eyes tearing laugh. Harry had no idea what was going on but could only let his neck bend as Hermione pulled his head forward, pushing it into her bosom and wrapping her arms around his head. She nuzzled the top of his coal black hair and muttered, "You dear, sweet, clueless male."
Her embrace was warm and despite their being constantly on the run, she smelled amazing. "Huh!?" was all Harry could think to say.
Hermione pulled back slightly so she could look Harry in the face. "Do you know how close I came to being saddled with that backstabbing toe-rag, how much it hurt to not only have to watch that red-headed hussy sink her claws into you have but to have to cheer her on as well?"
Her eyes were so serious and her lower lip quivered as she struggled to explain. "I've been through hell for the past three years and Ipromised myself if I ever got the chance, I would ask you to marry me. I've been waiting a long time Harry." She wrapped him in a hug, one that would put all previous hugs she'd ever given to shame.
His arms tightened around her and she spoke softly into his ear. "Please don't make me wait any longer for an answer."
He held her tighter still and rested his chin on her shoulder. He breathed deeply. Her scent filled him with hope and courage and asmoldering desire in the middle of his chest flared up and began to ache at the thought of NOT being with her. To never hold her like this, to never kiss her again... "My God, Hermione" he gasped. Horror was in his voice as he nuzzled her cheek with his own.
"One word, Harry. One little word and we can be together forever." She said with hope in her voice.
Mustering all his courage, Harry answered. "I can't. I can't marry you, not like this."
As the word "can't" passed his lips, it was Hermione's turn to freeze. Tears that she'd been trying to hold back while waiting for his answer suddenly loosed themselves from her eyes. She released her hug and began to sob.
"Not fair. Not FAIR. NOT - BLOODY - FAIR!" She began to warm up to a screaming fit in between crying jags. "Just because the entire fucking world seems to believe Ron would be perfect for me and that you and Ginny are the second coming of Lily and James doesn't mean it has to be that way. Hell, Iknow you love me and you damn well better know that I love you" to punctuate that statement she reached out and grabbed the bulge between his legs. "You hear me Harry? THIS is MINE!"
He nodded his head rapidly.
"So what the HELL, Harry? I mean, honestly, what the Hell?What changed, Harry? I've been stuck under a life debt for 7 bloody long years and I finally, FINALLY am able to ask you to be mine, which should have happened fourth year or even after we saved Sirius, but NO. You just had to feel sorry for that walking garbage disposal and you forced me act interested in him. You hear me, Potter? I have been a prisoner in my own head for years because YOU believed the delusional idiocy of Mrs. Weasley and her brood.
"Wah... Hermione. I never, I mean I didn't know. I never thought..."
"And that's just it! You never thought to ask. Did you think to ask me my feelings before you just up and decided that Ron should have me?Did it ever occur to you that maybe, just maybe I was actually interested in someone with green eyes that wasn't inbred up the arse?"
"Hermione... I had no idea. I didn't know you were under alife debt. Who did it? Was it Ron?" Harry was getting frantic now. In an emphatic and serious tone he asked, "Did Ron hurt you?" and he stared into her tear stained eyes as he watched her reaction."
"Hah! You haven't figured it out yet? You want to know who Iowed the life debt to. Who was the one who was forcing me into a horrible, loveless life of stay-at-home motherhood, to mediocrity, to shitty sex and verbal abuse?" The closest thing to a sneer Harry had ever seen on her angry but beautiful face graced it now and he could feel the pressure buffet him from her angry magic. "You have the nerve to ask me that, Harry James Potter?" Her brown eyes were flashing with anger.
The way she said his full name now was a world apart from the way she had said it earlier. He bit his lower lip in unconscious imitation of how Hermione usually looked when she was solving a problem.
"It was me, wasn't it?" You owed the life debt to me. Earlier, you said seven years you'd been under the life debt. That would correspond to the time in the girls' lavatory with the troll. Seven years, Hermione? Oh God."
"Yes, you prat" she said huffily. After you saved me, Inaively swore to pay you back for saving me. I had no idea that anything like awizard's debt even existed. And of course, with my luck, I phrased it in the worse possible way. Basically, I swore to protect you like you protected me, to put your wishes ahead of my own, and to look out for your best interests. I didn't even realize it was a magically binding promise until forth year. That's one of the reasons I was in the library so much during the tournament. I was researching what I'd gotten myself into. For the most part, it wasn't bad; Iwould have helped you anyway. You needed a friend who would never betray you, you got her; you want someone to follow you into a certain death trap at the DoM, here she is; you subconsciously feel sorry for that Red-headed wanker and need a girl for him, that was when my life in Hell began.
"Did he - I mean, did he ever?"
"No! No, though not from his lack of trying. I had to use extraordinary measures to keep him away from me. All I can say is that I'm glad you never explicitly said I had to be with him. That, and the fact that I could rationalize that you needed me more than anyone else and that plus I was able to use my feelings for you to override any compulsions from my Wizard's debt. But it's been tough going, Harry. Three very long and hellish years and I have been so close to giving up; to letting myself go, only to find out that you don't love me... I wish I were dead."
"Don't EVER say that!" Harry had grabbed her by the shoulders and lifted her to a sitting position so he could look her in the face. Her eyes, when she said those awful words, had seemed dull like a woman with nothing left to live for, but now as he carefully held her hands between his own, those same eyes began to flicker with a faint glimmer of hope.
"Before today, I couldn't imagine not having you in my life. Now, I refuse to even consider not sharing the rest of my life with you. You've been my best and most faithful friend since I was eleven and I have been incredibly blind and a monumental idiot with relationships up till now."
With each word, her spirits seemed to lift; the light in her eyes seemed to intensify. "Because of me, you've had to suffer horribly these past three years and for my sake you've risked your life again and again..."
"And nearly gotten expelled..." added Hermione with a wry little smile.
"AND nearly gotten expelled," he agreed. "The point I'm trying to make is that I DO know you love me and I... I'm not sure I really know what love is, but I do know that I care for you. I mean I really, really care about what happens to you..." His eyes lost focus as he struggled with the words."When you were petrified by the basilisk, I nearly went crazy with worry. The same with the dementors and in the Department of Mysteries, if something had happened to you... I don't know what I would have done. Hermione, the way I care about you, the way I feel for you is different than the way I care or feel for anyone else. I want to keep you safe, help you succeed, and make you happy. Iknow I love you and I think... I think I might be in love with you as well. Is that alright?"
There was a sad smile on her face. "Quite all right, Harry. But you still won't marry me, will you?"
At that, Harry went on one knee. "Hermione Jane Granger, there is no one who I would rather spend the rest of eternity with. Would you do me the honor of becoming Mrs. Hermione Potter?"
A "No, I don't think so" and a wan smile was her only reply.
"B-bu-but why?" Harry was understandably confused.
"Three reasons. One, it hurt when you turned down my proposal and I wanted you to know how it felt; two, I want to have a ring on my finger the day I get engaged and I'm positive you're not prepared; three, I'm aliberated woman I don't need a man to propose to me when I'm capable of proposing myself; four..."
"You said there were only three reasons."
"No, I said I had three reasons. The fourth one just came to me, so hush. " Her finger buttoned his lips.
"Reason four, I still love you above everyone else, I have my grandparents' rings right here, and I asked first. Won't you reconsider?"
Harry started to chuckle.
Hermione went in for the kill. "Please?"
"Yes, Miss Granger. I will marry you if you'll have me." He said with great solemnity.
The smile on Hermione's face was the most beautiful thing Harry had ever seen.
She leaned in close to slip the ring on his finger and throatily whispered. "Don't worry. I intend to have you again and again and again until you pass out." She licked his ear and he very nearly did right then and there.
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