"Harry!" she called, rushing to catch up with him. Luckily, she knew him well enough to know exactly where he was headed. And she was right, as there he was, sitting under their tree (dubbed such when they all first moved in together as a family). It was a place where the two of them would spend a lot of time, either together or alone. It was a peaceful place right next to the small pond in the backyard; the tree providing just the right amount of shade.
Harry's knees were pulled up to his chest and his head was resting on them. His shoulders were shaking, a sure sign that he was crying silently. She said nothing as she sat next to him, wrapping her arms around him.
"How could she? How could she do this?" he asked, his voice broken with sadness.
"I don't know, Harry. I don't think we'll ever know," she answered as she ran her fingers through his hair to try to calm him.
"I love Daphne, Hermione. I love her."
"I… I know you do, Harry," she said, confused as to why he was making that statement.
"What? 'Why' what?"
"Why do I love Daphne? Why do I love you or Sirius or Remus? How is it possible I can love any of you?"
"I never really believed that the love potion that Voldemort's mother used on his father made him unable to love. Love potions are way too prevalent in the Wizarding World. Hell, they are easy enough to make that they teach them to school children! I think we would have many more unloving Dark Lords running around if being conceived while one party was under the influence of a love potion rendered them unable to love. It just doesn't make any sense. I think that, if he had wanted to, Voldemort was capable of love. He just chose to see it as a weakness instead of a strength. After all, it is our choices that define who we are, Harry."
Harry lifted his head from her shoulder and looked into her eyes as if trying to see if she was sincere. Like she would ever lie to him – about this anyway.
"You always know what to say to make me feel better, Hermione. Thank you."
"You're welcome. I think you should talk to you father, Harry. I'm sure he didn't want you to find out by him shouting it out."
"I don't like the way he treats you, Hermione. It's not right."
"No, it's not. But it is understandable. Think about how you would feel if all this happened to you in a very short period of time. He's your father, Harry. You know I would never make you pick between us."
"He should count his lucky stars that he has a soulmate such as you. But you are right, he is my father and I have missed him my whole life. I'll talk to him. Later."
"Thank you. Do you want me to call for Daphne?"
"Yeah, if you don't mind. Just send her out here when she comes."
"I will. Love you, Harry."
"Love you too."
With one last glance to make sure he was going to be okay, she went back to the house to Floo call Daphne. As much as she knew Harry appreciated her comfort, she knew that Daphne could do a better job, especially in this instance. As she walked, she had only one thought in her head: Lily was lucky she was unable to call anyone else back from the dead because if she could, she would bring her back just to kill her again.
The two wizards stood awkwardly, feet shuffling and eyes not meeting. Both pairs of eyes instead were looking at the spot where Harry and Hermione had run from. Regulus sighed, unsure of what to do. He did not want to follow Hermione, knowing neither her nor Harry would appreciate his interference. There was a part of him that ached to reach out to James, to offer him some comfort.
To take him in his arms once again.
But as his eyes shifted to James' face, he knew that James would not welcome anything from him. After all, he did see the way James reacted when Hermione dared take a step towards him. He wondered if they would ever be able to bridge this gaping hole between them.
"James, I… "
James' eyes snapped to his, and he was not surprised at the swirling emotions he saw in them. Hurt, sadness, anger… all emotions he had seen there before.
"I'm sorry Lily did that to you," he said, starting again.
"Thank you," James choked out. Regulus nodded once and left his once lover alone in the kitchen. He could not lie to himself: he missed James, even if he was being a right prat. With a long-suffering sigh, he went in search of Hermione.
James watched as Regulus turned and left. He was surprised at his words, that Regulus would even make an attempt to provide him any kind of comfort. He shouldn't have been, however, as that was just the type of person Regulus was. Or had been. Before he decided to throw everything between them away and take the Dark Mark.
His musings were interrupted when a slight, very attractive blonde woman walked into the kitchen. He was slightly startled by her presence, knowing that Sirius and Remus wouldn't just let anyone have access to their home.
"Oh, hello. You must be Mr. Potter. Such a pleasure to finally get to meet you. I'm Daphne Greengrass – "
"My son's fiancée," James said, cutting her off, extending his hand to take hers and brought it up to his lips. He may have just returned from the death and was having a hard time controlling his emotions, but regardless of what his behavior suggested, he had not forgotten his Pureblood manners.
"Yes. Hermione told me that Harry required my assistance. Do you happen to know where I might be able to find him?"
"Ah… no, sorry. I think he might be outside though."
"Thank you. If that's the case, I know where I can find him. It was lovely finally getting to meet you," she said as she started to leave the room.
"Wait! I… um… would you like a cup of tea?" James asked, wanting to talk to someone who was not irritated with him or hating his guts.
"That would be lovely. We should get to know each other. After all, you are going to be my father-in-law."
James rustled around the kitchen, hoping he could find the makings for tea. He hit the jackpot in a cabinet that was filled to brim with about twenty different types of teas. As the tea brewed, he motioned for Daphne to join him at the table.
"I understand this whole returning from the dead thing must be difficult for you. Everyone was quite shocked that Hermione was able to achieve such astonishing results. Still, everyone was quite happy that she did. Sirius, particularly, must be happy. Not only did he get one of his best friends back, but his brother as well. I know he always felt guilty with the way things ended between them, especially after he found out what Regulus did during the war."
James had no idea what she was talking about but wasn't willing to tell her that. Plus, he wanted to know what she meant so he played along.
"Oh, he didn't do all that much."
"Oh sure. If you consider turning against Voldemort and stealing one of his horcruxes not doing much."
Regulus did what? James could not wrap his head around what he just learned. Regulus… turned against Voldemort? And what in the hell was a horcrux? Whatever it was, if it involved Voldemort, it could not be a good thing. He was so lost in his thoughts that it took him a few minutes to realize that Daphne was gone, probably having made her way to wherever his son was hiding. James stood quickly and practically ran to the room Remus had showed him that would be his. He threw himself down on the bed and held his head in his hands as memories long forgotten assaulted him.
"What are you doing here, Regulus? I told you we were done and that I never wanted to see you again."
"James, please. I know you are angry with me, but please –"
"Please nothing! You betrayed me! You turned your back on us the moment you let yourself be branded as if you were some sort of brainless cattle," he spat.
"You don't understand."
"I think I understand just fine. I loved you, Regulus. I would have died for you, but you threw that back in my face to run off and join someone who goes against everything I believe in."
"Loved? James, you don't… love me anymore?"
He looked his ex-lover in the eyes and lied to him for the first time.
James had a brief moment where he thought he would be sick at the look of devastation on Regulus' face. He thought about taking back his ugly words but before he could, Regulus turned and fled.
That had been the last time James had spoken to Regulus before being brought back to life. James had heard rumors of Regulus' disappearance months after that conversation. But by that point, Lily had had him under the influence of the love potion. He didn't even get to grieve over the death of his first love.
It was all his fault Regulus had died. If only he had listened to Regulus when he came to see him. He should have known that Regulus wouldn't have betrayed him like that. Regulus didn't betray him; it was him who betrayed Regulus. He let Regulus walk to his death thinking that he no longer loved him, that he no longer had anyone left in the world.
Why didn't he just listen?
Completely overwhelmed by everything, he started sobbing, unsure if he would ever be able to stop.
Dinner that night was a raucous affair. If anyone noticed the fact that James didn't say a word or that his eyes were bloodshot from crying, they did not say. Sirius was telling some stories from their school days, causing Hermione, Regulus, Harry, and Daphne to break down into loud laughter. Remus sat and listened, a small smile on his face, but James noticed the small concerned glances he would send his way.
James watched as Regulus took Hermione's hand at one point, noticing that Regulus was looking at her the same way he used to look at him. Regulus looked happy and from the look on her face, Hermione returned that feeling. It hit him suddenly, the thought that Regulus was better off without him. He was a horrible person, turning his back on someone who he loved. With a loud scrape as his chair dragged across the floor, he quickly stood up, all eyes in the room suddenly on him.
"James? Are you okay?" Hermione asked.
He looked at her then, this small witch who accomplished the impossible, and saw how she looked back at him. She was worried about him. About him. The person who has been nothing but horrid to her from day one. It wasn't only Regulus he didn't deserve.
He didn't deserve her either.
Maybe it would be best if he just left her and Regulus to each other, soulmates or not. They didn't need someone who seemed completely unable to remove his head from his arse.
"Fine. I'm fine. I… uh… just need some air. I'm going for a walk," he answered her and left the house.
He cursed himself as he left, for being so unwilling to listen to Regulus. For lying to him. He cursed Lily for giving him love potions (although he could never regret Harry). There was even a small part of him that cursed Hermione for bringing him into this hell.
He didn't know where to go from here.
Big thanks to everyone who reviewed, favorited, and followed. You all are the best readers ever.
Thanks to Raybe for the beta duties, and Liza for the help.
I apologize for yet another late chapter. Things are crazy here and it's really killed my muse.
In other news, I can't believe it, but this story is coming up on 600 reviews! I'm super excited about that. If there is something you would like to see in the fic, let me know!
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