Summary:He loved her more than words could say, so he wrote her a letter instead. (Written for eterna romantica03 for winning The Maple Bookshelf's March carrot).
*All characters belong to JK Rowling and I make no money from the writing or publishing of this story
It's About Time (Story for Eterna Romantica03 for the Maple Bookshelf's carrot – March 2013) By
(Story for Eterna Romantica03 for the Maple Bookshelf's carrot – March 2013)
Harry Potter felt like the unluckiest man on earth. Standing outside the room where Hermione Granger was getting ready for her wedding, he thought of how much he loved her, and how she would never know. No one would ever know how he lived and breathed for this woman. No one would know… especially her, and it was his own fault. He'd hid his feelings well. Never once, in the twenty years that he'd known her, had he revealed the depths of his emotions and feelings toward her.
But last night he'd written it all down in a letter to her. The letter was in his pocket, and he was standing outside her door right now debating on whether or not he should give it to her.
Because it was the day of her wedding to another, and if he didn't tell her how he felt now, it would be too late. Perhaps it was already too late. He should just paint a smile on his face, stand beside the man she was about to marry (his best friend even) and in utter silence be brave as his heart shattered into a million pieces.
Yes… he loved her.
He loved her more than words could express. He loved her higher than the tallest mountain, deeper than the widest sea. His love for her was more important to his survival, more important than the air he breathed. His love for her was the only thing that made his youth bearable. His love for her was the only thing that made him want to continue to live. His love for her was what helped him pull through tragedy after tragedy. It wasn't mere words to say that he would probably be dead by now if he didn't have deep and undying love for this woman.
His entire purpose in living, breathing, surviving, fighting, and enduring was the love he felt for her… yet she didn't even know. If unrequited love was enough to save his life, time and time again, what might he accomplish if she would love him in return?
He would never know.
Without knocking, he walked into the back room of the chapel, looking to his left, and then his right, to make sure no one else was around. They were alone. He closed the door, locked it, and then walked up to where she sat, staring into a mirror.
She was so utterly beautiful that it took his breath away. She was dressed all in white, with a veil, and flowers in her hair, and it was for another man – it was for Ron Weasley – not for him.
That thought almost caused him to stagger, but he forged head. Unclasping the letter and then removing his hand from his pocket, he reached out and put his hand upon her shoulder as she sat staring in the mirror. Looking into the reflection of her eyes as he looked into the mirror he saw that was smiling at him.
"Harry," she said, anxiously.
Squeezing her shoulder he said, "You look so beautiful." She always looked beautiful to him, but today she was more beautiful than he could ever imagine.
"Thank you." She turned on the small bench and stared up at him.
He swallowed what he really wanted to say… things like, 'Don't marry him, marry me instead', and 'I've loved you all of my life', and he said, "Are you ready?"
"Is it time?" she asked.
He nodded. "Almost."
She continued to smile up at him. His heart skipped a beat. "Hermione, may I ask you something?"
"Of course." She stood as well, grasped his hand in hers, and pulled him over toward the stain glass window. "What is it?"
"Do you love him?" He had to know. It had to be asked.
"Of course," she repeated.
"And that's why you're getting married," he continued.
"What's going on, Harry?" she asked.
Shaking his head, he linked his fingers with hers. "Just tell me you're happy. Promise me that you'll always be happy."
"It's my wedding day, Harry," she said. "Of course I'm happy."
He looked down at the floor. "I'm not sure I understand weddings and things," he murmured lowly. Moving his gaze back to hers, he said, "I guess what I'm trying to say is, if for any reason you decide you don't want to marry him, or if you find yourself unhappy after you marry him, then tell me, and I'll make everything right."
"You're confusing me, Harry," she replied, although she smiled at that. "You know I'll be happy with him. I can't remember a time when I didn't love Ron, and I think he's always felt the same toward me. We have to be happy, because it's meant to be. Don't you see that, Harry?"
He reached out and cupped her cheek. Rubbing his thumb back and forth against her silky, soft skin, he said, "Sure." He turned his head to stare at the multi-coloured panes of glass in the window beside him. He knew it wasn't proper to be touching her like this, or to feel the things that he felt, but he couldn't help himself.
Still, he wouldn't ruin her wedding. He loved her too much to cause her any unhappiness, even at the sake of his own. He would rather cut off his right hand than cause her even one iota of pain.
What on earth had he been thinking, coming in here like this? The letter he had written to her last night was burning a hole in his pocket. Dropping his hand from her cheek, he reached inside his jacket pocket and fingered the envelope. He wanted to give it to her. He needed to give it to her. But he wouldn't, not now. She was going to marry the man that she loved, and who was he to stop that?
He turned to go.
She reached out and grabbed his arm. He turned back to face her. Staring into her lovely brown eyes, he longed to tell her the truth.
"Harry," she said breathlessly, bringing her fingers up to his hair. She brushed his unruly hair away from his forehead and asked, "What's wrong? You can tell me anything. I know something's bothering you."
Deciding it was now or never, he told himself to be brave. He had never once suffered cowardliness and he wouldn't suffer it now. He pulled the letter out of his pocket and said, "Just grant me a favour. I know I have no right to ask anything of you, and I know you've done more for me than I've ever deserved, but if you feel anything for me at all, grant me one, small favour."
"How could I not?" she said, dropping her hand.
Bringing the letter he'd written out of his pocket, he said, "Read this. Now. Don't wait until after you're married. Read it, and if you decide this letter means anything to you at all, come to me. I'll be waiting outside. If the letter means nothing to you, walk into the chapel and marry Ron. If you come outside, I'll be there and if you don't, I'll understand."
He handed her the letter. She looked confused, but accepted it without comment. He walked out of the small anteroom, through the entry of the chapel, to the bright sunshine outside. He went to stand beside an old oak tree, at the side of the chapel, just out of sight.
Then, he waited.
While he waited, he thought of the letter he struggled to write last night. He had read it so many times he now had it memorized. He recited it in his head as he waited.
The letter said:
My Dearest Hermione, There's a storm raging inside my heart tonight, and it's caused by a single truth. It's a truth that's been hidden away for most of my life, but it will never go away, and it's time I let you know. I love you. I love you more than as a friend. I love you with every molecule of my being. I love you more than I've ever loved anything or anyone. My soul would die if it wasn't for the love I feel for you. My heart would wither away, if it wasn't full of love for you. The jaws of death could claim me at any time, and I would die a happy man, because I've been privileged to have known you, and loved you. There's a deep hole in this heart of mine, however. It's because I know that even as much as I love you, that love isn't returned. Sometimes that thought it a hard one to bear. But I feel as if there's a ticking clock sitting on my shoulder, telling me it's almost too late, and I can't fight it anymore. I have to tell you how I feel, even if it cost us our friendship. Even if you tell me you will never feel the same. I know it's difficult to read these things – believe me, it's difficult to feel them, too. But when the days of my life are through, at least I'll know that I finally told you… I love you. I knew the instant when I fell in love with you, but that's a secret I'll take to my grave. Just know this, every time you speak, and every time you look at me, or smile at me, or say my name, I'm a prisoner to my unrequited love. I'll be in love with you forever, and if you love me in return, then tell me before its too late. If you find you don't feel the same, then set me free. Walk down that aisle, marry Ron Weasley, and then I'll know it will never be. I just had to tell you, don't you see. Please forgive me. All I want is your happiness. I love you, Harry
There's a storm raging inside my heart tonight, and it's caused by a single truth. It's a truth that's been hidden away for most of my life, but it will never go away, and it's time I let you know.
I love you.
I love you more than as a friend. I love you with every molecule of my being. I love you more than I've ever loved anything or anyone. My soul would die if it wasn't for the love I feel for you. My heart would wither away, if it wasn't full of love for you. The jaws of death could claim me at any time, and I would die a happy man, because I've been privileged to have known you, and loved you.
There's a deep hole in this heart of mine, however. It's because I know that even as much as I love you, that love isn't returned. Sometimes that thought it a hard one to bear. But I feel as if there's a ticking clock sitting on my shoulder, telling me it's almost too late, and I can't fight it anymore. I have to tell you how I feel, even if it cost us our friendship. Even if you tell me you will never feel the same. I know it's difficult to read these things – believe me, it's difficult to feel them, too. But when the days of my life are through, at least I'll know that I finally told you… I love you.
I knew the instant when I fell in love with you, but that's a secret I'll take to my grave. Just know this, every time you speak, and every time you look at me, or smile at me, or say my name, I'm a prisoner to my unrequited love. I'll be in love with you forever, and if you love me in return, then tell me before its too late. If you find you don't feel the same, then set me free. Walk down that aisle, marry Ron Weasley, and then I'll know it will never be.
I just had to tell you, don't you see.
Please forgive me. All I want is your happiness.
I love you,
He waited twenty minutes. Twenty minutes exactly. She wasn't coming. She was probably walking down the aisle right now. She was probably smiling through her veil, looking right at Ron, who was undoubtedly smiling back at her. He sunk down to the ground, placed his arms around his legs, ducked his head onto his arms, and closed his eyes.
After at least another ten minutes, he felt a brush of a hand against the top of his head. He lifted his face from his knees and saw her kneeling on the ground beside him.
"Is it over?" he asked, choking back tears. "Are you married?"
She smiled, and then sat beside him, even as she pulled the veil from her head. "Sorry it took so long," she said.
"Well, it was a wedding," he said with a shrug. The pain he felt was palpable. He felt his heart breaking in two, and he wanted to die. "Please, don't hate me," he replied. "I'm sorry. I hope it didn't ruin your wedding, but I had to tell you."
She took his hand in hers. "Well, it did sort of ruin the wedding, the fact being that no wedding took place."
He gasped. "But – " he began, only to have her cut him off when she said, "I told Ron I couldn't marry him."
"You what?" he asked in disbelief.
She said, "That's what took so long. I read your letter, twice, and by the way, it was perhaps the most endearing letter I've ever read. Then I asked Ron to join me in the dressing room. I handed him your letter. He read it, then handed it back to me and he said, 'It's about time he told you.' He kissed my cheek and said, 'I guess it's off then, isn't it?' and I told him it was. He looked relieved. He said he would go out and tell all our family and friends, and he'd have them all Disapparated away, or for the ones that couldn't, he'd have them leave by the back door."
Harry was still in major shock, trying to understand the words she was saying to him. He repeated, "What?"
She laughed. "For a man who wrote such an articulate letter, you certainly seem at a loss for words right now. What I'm trying to say, Harry Potter, is that I didn't marry Ron. I love him, always have, always will, and he'll always love me, but we aren't in love. I'm in love with you. I suspect I always have been, but I never once, in all these years, suspected that you felt the same. Why didn't you tell me before?"
He took her hand in his and brought it to his lips. "Because I'm a stupid man."
"No, you're not stupid," she smiled. "You just needed a nudge to point you in the right direction. You always have, and I guess you always will. What am I to do with you, Harry?"
He pulled her closer and said, "Just love me."
"That's easy, because I do. I love you. So much."
He pulled her closer, so close that she was almost on his lap. Then he brushed his lips against her. Kissing her was something he'd dreamt about so many times, yet nothing could ever compare to the real thing. Moving his lips against hers, everything else felt as if it were a blur. After a moment, he lifted his lips from hers and said, "Is this a dream?"
She leaned forward and kissed him swiftly and answered, "If it is, let's make a pact that we'll never wake up. Let's stay in this dream forever."
"I think I'd rather it be reality," he replied, cupping her face again, pulling her toward him. Brushing his lips against hers lightly, he was suddenly aware of a light filling his heart and soul. Was this what it was like to know that she loved him in return? Was this warmth, this light, this sense of well being… was this requited love? It was a power so strong he was almost knocked over by it.
He continued to kiss her slowly, nibbling at her lips, savoring every precious moment of it. This kiss was a mutual declaration of their feelings, and it felt like the most 'right' thing he'd ever done in his entire life.
When he finally lifted his head from hers, she smiled slowly at him. "What now, Harry?"
"Now, we spend the rest of our lives loving each other. I feel like the happiest man on earth. I can't believe my good fortune." He pulled her back to him and held her tightly in his embrace.
"That makes two of us, Harry, because as much as you love me," she whispered in his ear, "is as much as I love you."
And she did, finally, and he suddenly felt like the luckiest man on earth.