Sunlight streamed through the windows tickling Hermione’s skin with its warm touch. Awareness crept back into her body and Hermione opened her eyes to unfamiliar surroundings. It took her a moment to register exactly where she was, but then the memories of the previous day and night came flooding back. Sorrow gripped at Hermione once again, but she did not cry. Tears would get her no where.
She was still in the clothes from the previous night and her bag sat beside the bed. Hermione reached in and located a fresh set of clothes and her hair brush. One look in the mirror told her she was a dreadful sight. Her eyes were still puffy from crying and dark circles hung beneath them. Her hair was in its usual state of chaos and she looked so pale in the sunlight. But what really got to her was the dead look in her eyes, the light had gone. It hadn’t been shining very brightly for a while, but now it had been totally extinguished.
Hermione ran a quick brush through her hair and tied it up into a messy bun. After changing, she ventured out of the room and found Oliver sitting on the sofa reading the Daily Prophet.
“Good morn….afternoon,” he greeted her, his eyes appraising her cautiously. “How are you feeling?”
“What time is is?” Hermione asked, purposely avoiding the question.
“It’s just gone midday. Are you hungry? I can whip us up some lunch, or breakfast if you prefer,” Oliver offered. “Scrambled eggs on toast?”
Hermione nodded, not having the energy to refuse, and Oliver seemed only too happy to help her out. She followed him to the kitchen, leaning against the kitchen bench and watched as he busied himself with the meal. She wasn’t that surprised with his behaviour. She must look terrible and naturally, she had put him in a slightly awkward situation. Hermione smiled as his nervous eyes flicked to her every so often and she thought it best to answer his second questions and put him at ease.
“I’m okay,” Hermione said. “I’m just feeling conflicted. I’m relieved that it’s finally over, but I feel really guilty at the same time. Ron didn't see this coming at all and while he's proposing, I'm breaking it off. There comes a time though when you ultimately have to think about yourself and you're own happiness.”
“Are you having any second thoughts?” Oliver asked as he served up their lunch.
Hermione shook her head. “Surprisingly no, but this has been a long time in coming. It just took me ages from deciding it was over to actually ending it.”
Oliver placed carried to two plates over to the dinning table and they each took a seat. Hermione was ravenous after hardly eating anything the previous day and her stomach rumbled audibly in protest. They ate in a comfortable silence and Hermione purposely ovoided Oliver's eyes afraid that they might look on her with disapproval. She needn't have warried. Once finished, Oliver took her finished plate and set the dishes to wash them selves in the sink and then beckoned her to following him to the sofa.
“So what happens now?”
It was a rather opened ended question and one that Hermione had no real answer to. If this was a test, she would fail miserably. For once in her life, she didn’t have a plan. It had always been Ron and working in the field of magical law. She was always the smart one with a clear direction and focus. She had spent the years since the war getting where she thought she wanted to be; happily together with Ron and successfully rising up the ranks within the wizarding law community. But now she found herself single and in a job which was starting to boarder on tedious. She could go far in her chosen field, but was that really where she wanted to be?
“I really think I’m just going to go out and live a little. Get use to being on my own again, find myself. I need to visit Harry and Ginny and tell them everything. I’m guessing they’ve already heard but they need my side of the story too. Then I might see if I can get some time off work and just go explore the world for a while,” Hermione answered.
“Why did you kiss me?” Oliver asked, his brown eyes searching, trying to read the reason behind the kiss.
Hermione sighed. She knew he would ask the question eventually. The kiss had probably been playing over in his mind as much as it had been in hers. “Because I had to know what if felt like to kiss someone else.”
“And…” Oliver probed.
“It made me feel something that I haven’t felt in a very long time.” It was a terrible truth to tell, but he deserved to know. It was his kiss that had ensured her that she had made the right decision. It wasn’t just because he was new and different, it was because she felt something for him. She was attracted to him, felt herself drawn to him in a way she had never anticipated. He had made her question everything she thought she knew about romance and relationships and realise everything that was missing. He had opened her eyes to the truth.
Oliver’s eyes softened and his lips curled up into a small smile. It would be so easy to just fall into his arms, but Hermione knew she couldn’t do that, he meant far too much to her for him to become the substitute for Ron. Needing air and needing space, Hermione hurriedly stood up before her heart took control of her brain.
“Thank you so much for being here for me Oliver, but I better go see Ginny and then I need to find myself a place to stay,” Hermione explained, hoping Oliver would buy her lies.
“You can stay her if you wish” Oliver politely offered, hope echoing through his voice.
“I couldn’t impose on you like that,” Hermione declined politely, while her heart screamed for her to accept. “You’ve been so kind all ready.”
“It wouldn’t be a problem, really,” Oliver assured her.
“If I get into any trouble, you’ll be the first person I come to,” Hermione assured him with a sweet smile. She left to retrieve her belongings and returned a few minutes later. Oliver was half sitting upon the back of the sofa, his shoulders were slumped and his face held a sadness she hadn’t seen before.
“Will I see you at the park for soccer?” Oliver asked.
“Maybe, if I'm still here, I'll come,” Hermione confirmed with a small nod. She had grown quite fond of the game over the past few months. Not to mention the coffee she always shared with Oliver afterwards. “Thanks again, for everything,” Hermione said as she and Oliver slowly walked towards the door. They looked at each other for the briefest of seconds and Hermione had the distinct impression he wanted to say something, but then the flicker was lost and he instead wrapped his arms around her in a comforting hug.
“Hopefully I'll see you at the park, take care of yourself,” Oliver said, letting her go.
“I will,” Hermione replied as he opened the door for her. She stepped outside into the corridor and gave him a small smile in farewell. As she walked away, a part of her was aching to run back to him, or at least to turn around. She hadn’t heard the door close and she felt like he was watching her. Then she heard him call her name and she turned to see him leaning against the door frame, a smile on his face.
“I felt something too Hermione, I thought you might like to know.”
A/N I know, this chapter is really short, but the next one is longer and will be up quite soon.
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