Not Like This by ficexchange
A gift for cosmopolitan;
Quote in italics by Mae West.
"No. I can't. We can't." His words sound hollow even to himself.
Her laugh is mirthless, tinkling in the heavy air like silverware against a crystal glass, not unlike the one she twirls in her pale hand in time to the crackling jazz floating throughout the house. The dark red liquid swishes this way, then that, dangerously close to spilling over, but it never does. He thinks the wine epitomizes his current stream of thought quite well- just go for it, screw it all, but always at the last moment his rational side reins these traitorous ideas in.
She lets out a frustrated sigh and then the wine is gone, leaving the glass cold and her body warm. A few moments pass, and then she looks up at him with sudden intensity. "Oh, Harry." Even his name sounds sarcastic.
They shouldn't be here, not like this. Voices drift through the rooms of the house, but they can't make out a sound, save for their own harsh breathing. Something is off. "What, Hermione?" His fist is clenched under the table, and she knows though she cannot see through the grainy wood.
"Shh. No need to be so callous..." she murmurs, sliding her chair closer to him and lifting a hand to gently move his too-long hair from his eyes. His skin tingles where her fingers brush it, and his eyes close involuntarily. And that's it, right there, isn't it? That's the exhilaration he shouldn't be feeling, of the thoughts he shouldn't be thinking. He opens his eyes and there she is, looking like chocolate personified and smelling like cherries and library books and sin. Her face hovers in front of his gaze, and he catches her left hand in his, feels the empty space where the ring had been. But he can't. They can't.
Hermione stands up, a little shakily but with purpose. "It's not backstabbing, you know."
"It is when it's your best mate's girl," Harry shoots back.
Hermione draws herself up to full height, her usually gentle brown gaze glinting like cold steel. "I'm not his girl anymore, he knows it, I know it, for Merlin�s sake, the whole wizarding world knows it. Why can't you just accept-"
"Because its wrong!" Harry shoves his chair back with a little more force than he intended, and it tips over gracefully. It collides with the hardwood floor seemingly in slow motion, and they watch as it shatters and little splinters arc out in all directions. They do not notice as the entire room quiets, or the meaningful glances being exchanged. Without another word he is out the front door, slamming it so hard behind him that the ornaments tremble on their branches.
Hermione remains still for a moment more, and then begins to mumble incantations to repair the chair, unwilling to look anyone in the eye. The tense silence is broken suddenly by Molly. "Fleur! You're looking so wonderful! How far along is the baby?"
Surprised, but quick on the uptake, Fleur hurriedly jumps into conversation. "Six months now, Victoire is excited to have someone to play with!" Around them, the children begin to resume their normal volume, and chatter erupts once more, though with a certain cautious edge. Taking a deep breath, Hermione walks into the cramped kitchen in a slight haze. Here she is, surrounded by the people she has come to call her family, the blood relatives of the man she broke an engagement with. It never fails to amaze her that they still accept her. She rests her forehead against the wall, angry tears finally spilling over. "What the fuck am I doing�"
"Following your heart," comes a voice from her left. She knows it well. Turning around, she locks her gaze with the familiar blue, the eyes which, until recently, were the ones she wanted to wake up to for the rest of her life. How things have changed�
Her voice cracks a little when she replies. "I'm sorry Ron."
"I'll get over it," he says with a small smile. "Now go. My best friends shouldn't be this unhappy on Christmas of all days."
When she doesn't do anything but stare, he rolls his eyes and summons her cloak. Gently draping it over her shoulders, he whispers, "Go after him. He loves you. He's just too thick to admit it."
Hermione nods once, twice, and then before she can change her mind she is all but flying out the kitchen door. She runs through the backyard, past the hedges, not paying any heed to her burning lungs, her swimming vision. The cold air stings her eyes and makes them water, makes her world blurred and clearer at the same time. Her heels are sinking into the snow as she runs, kicking fresh powder into the air, and she feels like a character from those fairy tales her mother read to her so long ago, except she is the one doing the rescuing.
At some point she regains enough sense to apparate. She closes her eyes, imagines the battered looking door with its chipped, peeling paint; the rusting doorknob that looks as though it might break any moment, and then with a soft pop she is there. She pauses for a moment, grateful for not splinching herself in her slightly drunken state, and then her anger consumes her once more.
She raises a fist, ice white from the cold, and knocks on the door, once, twice. Wiping the tears from her eyes, she counts to ten. When there is no response, she lets out a breath, trying to reel in her emotions. Knock, knock. "Harry, I know you're in there..."
"Go away," comes the muffled response.
Hermione scowls. This is just so typical of him. "Open the door, or I swear I will hex you into the next millennium!"
She can almost see his eyebrows knit with concentration upon a decision, teeth biting his lower lip. After another moment, the door swings open with a soft creak, and there he is, standing in front of her with his jaw set and arms crossed, trying very hard to not look like he has been downing a bottle of firewhiskey.
And then she has all but launched herself at him, and he is kicking the door shut and pushing her against the wall and his mouth against hers, thinking through a drunken haze that this is wrong, so wrong... His shirt is gone and Hermione is fumbling with the zipper of his trousers and he wants her, all of her... "Hermione� we shouldn't-"
"Shut up," she argues against his mouth, and for a moment his mind goes completely blank and all he can think about is how her tongue tastes like wine and promises of happiness and he can feel her skin, cold from the night, warming up beneath his fingers.
When he regains cognitive powers once more, he pulls his head away forcefully. "Hermione, your reputation as a lady in this society, your status as a role model...this won't look good..."
Hermione scoffs. "I'm no model lady. A model's just an imitation of the real thing. "
And with that she laces her hands through his and they stumble towards his bed, and when they fall onto the soft sheets in the near-darkness Harry isn't sure that it's the firewhiskey that is leaving him so dizzy.
"Do you love me?"
The question catches him off-guard. He tries to comprehend what she is saying.
"Harry, do you love me?" Even in the dark, he can see the way her eyes burn intently, with something that looks nothing short of intense desire, and he feels warm and giddy because they both know the answer and this is just a preliminary question.
"Screw it all," he mumbles, and pulls her on top of him, lips colliding. Their breathing is heavy and his hands are everywhere, he wants to touch her, all of her, all at once. He yanks her blouse off and revels in the gasp that escapes her candy flavored lips when his mouth finds the tops of her breasts. He fumbles for the clasp of her bra, and after a moment she lets out a frustrated moan and pulls it off herself.
Harry flips her onto her back and sets his mouth to the base of her neck, pressing hot open-mouthed kisses against the sensitive skin there, smiling and growing even more aroused at the way she lets out little groans. Slowly he moves downwards, trailing his tongue over her nipples. Suddenly he takes one in between his teeth, and Hermione inhales sharply. Now impatient, she begins to tug his trousers and boxers down, pushing him firmly down against the pillows and trailing little kisses down his neck, chest, stomach... "I've waited long enough for this," she murmurs, and Harry can't help but agree wholeheartedly as her mouth finds what it's looking for.
And then he is like a wave crashing onto the rocks, and supernovas and warm chocolate and free-falling...but he can't go over the edge, not yet... "Why did I keep saying no again?" he manages to ask, pulling Hermione back up and turning her over, and she kisses him in reply and he can taste himself.
"Something about how you didn't want to ruin my reputation, and your friendship with my ex-fiance, or something...oh. You really are very sneaky�" Because Harry has disposed of the rest of her clothing and his fingers are doing something quite wonderful to her and her eyes flutter shut and her back arches when his tongue joins in and then she can't take it anymore, they can't take it anymore, and he hovers over her for a moment, the question in his eyes, and she nods breathlessly.
Their bodies collide and maybe they will get coal in their stockings next year for this, but it doesn't matter, because Hermione doesn't care one bit what anyone thinks anymore...she has waited long enough, did what everyone else wanted her to, and for once she's being true to herself, not just a mannequin someone has modeled in her shape. This, right now, right here, is so real, and with every movement she can hear Harry whisper "I love you..."
...And it feels so good how could they have waited for this long...
...Firewhiskey and wine can't make him this happy...
"Oh God... Hermione, you're killing me..."
...and she loves it...
The world is a blur of sheets and shadows of headlights coming in through the fourth floor window; hands clenched in his hair, toes curling into the light blue bedding; soft skin and the smell of strawberry shampoo and alcohol and her hair hanging like a curtain over his head; now suddenly it flies backwards and her back his arched and her head is thrown back and she is screaming his name and it's enough, more than enough to make fireworks explode behind his eyes as his body lets go.
It takes a while for their breathing to return to a semblance of normal. Hermione places a soft kiss on his lips. Her eyes are falling shut, and he mumbles "Merry Christmas" into her hair before drifting off.
They can talk tomorrow.