PART TWO: The Wedding, Chapter 5
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or worlds used in this story, including that of Harry Potter, which was created by JK Rowling. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.+++++PREVIOUSLY: At the wedding reception, Dean and Hermione dance, and then they have it out over Hermione returning to her old life. Professor McGonagall shows up and gives Hermione a talking-to. After the wedding, the ladies (Hermione, Ginny, Padma, and Luna) have a few drinks and chat about their feelings on the wedding.+++++PART TWO: THE WEDDING, Chapter 5
Hermione had kept her word, and there had been tearful goodbyes as she'd stood in the hotel lobby, hugging Ginny and Luna and Padma, promising them that she would visit, and that they could visit her. The only person she'd regretted not seeing was Dean, but then, he hadn't spoken to her after leaving her in the hall by the loo.
"Mark and I are coming to see you when you next have a weekend," Ginny promised, her hand in her husband's. "And no lying to me."
"I promise," she said.
Two weeks later, Mark and Ginny joined Hermione for dinner in Covent Garden. Luna invited Hermione to the opening of a play, and they had a lovely evening together. But soon enough she was swallowed again by Jane, by Jane's life and Jane's job: late nights, long shifts, too little sleep, too much frustration.
It was at the end of one of those long nights -- Boxing Day, the tail of a two-day stretch separated only by six hours sleep in the on-call room -- when she was called in by one of the nurses to see a "29-year-old male exhibiting signs of disorientation, possibly from a blow to the head. Tox-screen is negative for drugs and alcohol."
"All right," Jane said. "Got him on monitors?"
Jane was too tired to favor the young woman with anything more than a tight, strained smile. She took the chart and stepped around the curtain. "Good evening, Mr..." She looked at him. "Oh, God. Dean?"
Dean's dark eyes were wide and unfocused. "Her... H..."
Jane shooed the nurse out and drew the curtain the rest of the way. "What happened, Dean?"
"Wand," he managed to say. Then: "head hurts."
"I imagine it does." She slipped out her flashlight to check his pupils, but he grabbed her wrist. "Dean, let go. I'm a doctor." She tried to ignore how warm his hand was on her skin. "Dean!"
He blinked hard, his hand loosening, falling to the bed. Jane flashed his eyes, then put the light away. She felt her lips compress into a thin line; there was only one way to guarantee she wouldn't hurt him. "I don't have mine," she whispered. "Which pocket?"
Jane glanced around furtively, listening out, but the only thing she heard was the soft peep of the monitor on Dean's finger and the quiet sound of a slow day in the emergency ward. She reached into his right side pocket and took out the piece of slender, pale wood. It felt somehow familiar; she realized with a start that it was Neville's old wand. But it worked just fine when she cast a diagnostic spell learned during those long months on the run with Harry and Ron.
Then she cursed and cast a quick curative. Dean's eyes cleared and he smiled up at her, taking the wand when she offered it. "Thank you, Hermione."
"Don't thank me," Jane snapped. "And that's not my name here."
"Fine, then." Dean folded his hands in his lap. "Thank you, Jane." He stressed the last.
"I told you not to thank me." She made some notes on his chart. "Get the hell out of my ward."
"H-- Jane, what's going on?"
"I'll tell you what," she hissed. "You purposefully did this to yourself, knowing you'd stumble in here, knowing that a head injury would get you right in to see me. And you knew it would be me, too, didn't you?"
"Well, I hoped," he admitted, graceful enough to look guilty. "Could have always done it again, couldn't I, if you weren't here?"
"Funny," Jane said, her voice frosty, "I never took you to be that bloody stupid!" She threw the curtain back and stalked away, handing the chart to a nurse. "You can discharge him. He's fine."
"Jane!" Dean called.
Jane ignored him.
Jane had been blessedly asleep for nine hours when Ginny woke her by levitating her three feet above her bed and then dropping her onto the mattress. "What the hell, Ginny?" Jane gasped. "What are you doing?"
"Trying to beat some sense into you!" She levitated Jane again, dropped her again; this time Jane was ready, catching herself on her hands as she fell.
"Ginny!" It was a scream, defiant and angry.
"Don't you Ginny me, Hermione Granger--"
"Jane!" she shouted, climbing out of the bed before Ginny could throw her again. "Jane Belette, damn you!"
"Hermione Jane Granger!" Ginny shouted back. "My best friend is Hermione Jane Granger!" And on the last, she smacked Jane's face hard enough that Jane was pushed to the side, crashing into her bureau. "Oh, shit!"
Jane dropped to the floor, reaching for her bottom drawer. "Damn it, Ginny!"
"Hermione, I'm sorry!"
"Now she's sorry." Jane tasted blood. "Damn." She pulled the drawer open and shook the wand out of its box.
Ginny stayed Jane's hand. "I'll do it," she said, kneeling in front of Jane. "I'll do it."
Jane stared at her wand a moment, then tossed it aside. It clattered against the nightstand and rolled under the bed. Ginny cast a few quick spells and the pain in Jane's face and side receded quickly. She probed the inside of her mouth with the tip of her tongue; there was a small bump, but nothing more.
Ginny put her wand away and sat on the floor beside Jane, back to the bureau. "I'm so sorry," she said. "H--" She swallowed. "Jane, I'm sorry."
"Just... just tell me why, Ginny!"
"Because of Dean!"
Well, that was unexpected. "What do you mean, 'because of Dean'?"
Ginny turned her head to look at Jane. "Whose bright idea do you think it was to put him in your capable hands?"
"You mean at the hospital?" Ginny nodded, and Jane had to laugh at the absurdity of it. "Oh, that's a Weasley plan if I ever heard one, Gin."
"So what's the Page part?" she asked.
"I hope it wasn't that slap, because if it was--"
"Oh, Merlin, no!" Ginny clutched her right hand in her left. "That was just stupidity. Hotheadedness."
"Very Weasley of you."
Ginny smiled. But the smile faded. "What are you going to do about Dean?"
"What I should have done in the first place."
By the time primary school started up again for Amelia, Jane and Hermione had become intermingled and torn apart so many times that when the day finally came she woke with a full sigh of relief. At work, she'd been Dr. Jane Belette, calm and collected no matter what the situation. At home, though, she'd vacillated between the two, a pendulum with the doctor on one side and the witch on the other. Some days she found herself using her wand to do the simplest tasks -- making tea or doing the washing-up -- and others she locked the damn thing in her desk drawer and tried to forget it even existed.
But she needed it to Apparate to the Leaky Cauldron, and on January 5 -- a Tuesday -- she slid it into her sleeve holster, wrapped up in a long blue woolen scarf and a heavy coat, and cast the spell.
Diagon Alley was just as cold as Muggle London, but here snow was falling gently on her face and hair. She walked past the few midmorning shoppers to Ollivander's.
The door jingled as she opened it. "Just a moment, please," Dean called from the back.
She sat in the same chair from two months prior -- had it really only been two months? -- and unwound her scarf. She had one leather glove off when Dean stepped into the shop proper. He was too dark to blanch, but his eyes did go quite wide and he put his hand on the counter. "H..." He swallowed. "Sorry. Jane."
He recovered his composure quickly enough. "What are you doing here, Jane?"
She shook her head. Snowmelt trickled down her scalp and was cool when it reached the back of her neck. "On this side of the Cauldron, you might as well call me Hermione."
"All right. Hermione." He took a slow breath. "What are you doing here, Hermione?"
"We have to talk."
Now it was Dean's turn to shake his head. "We don't have anything to discuss. You made that clear."
Hermione put her hand to her face, remembering what had happened the day after Boxing Day. "It was enough for Ginny to bounce me out of bed. And hit me."
"She did what?"
"She slapped me, Dean."
"No, I mean: bounce you out of bed?"
Hermione felt her face flush. "Never mind." She shrugged off her coat and levitated it across the room to the hooks by the door. "Dean, be honest with me, please."
"All right." He conjured a chair in front of Hermione and sat in it, leaning forward to take her hands. "Hermione, I've had feelings for you for a very long time. Just because I never acted on them doesn't mean they weren't there." He squeezed her hands gently, his own warm and surprisingly soft. His thumb stroked the knuckles of her left hand. "I never acted in school -- should have, but didn't -- and then, after, you were gone."
"No," he said quietly. "Let me."
She nodded. There was a familiar tightness in her chest, anticipation and dread and ten other things all at once, but she did as he asked.
"When you came back for the wedding, I thought maybe I'd have a chance to tell you I cared about you, that I wanted to try dating, like real people." He let go of one hand to touch the corner of one eye; was he crying? Had she hurt him so very much? But he continued: "I would've stayed with you. With you, and with the baby, and with Amelia, and we could've been a family, Hermione. Instead I had to wait until the night before Ron's wedding, and instead of being able to tell you what I felt, you took me to bed."
"You could have said no."
"I could have," he admitted, which stung. Just the memory of sex with Dean was still enough to get her partway there. Or was it the memory of sex with someone who really, truly cared for her? And did it matter so much? "I could have stopped it, talked to you, and then where would we have been? Maybe together, maybe not." He held her right hand in both of his, fingertips on the soft flesh of her inner wrist. "Being with you was a guarantee."
She yanked her hand away and he went instantly contrite. "Hell, I'm sorry, that's not what I meant."
Hermione nodded, cooling her temper as quickly as it had flared. "I know. I just..."
"Stupid thing to say. What I meant was: being with you like that was something to be cherished. Being with the woman I've wanted for so long. If you said no afterward, that you wouldn't stay, that you wouldn't be with me... well, even if that happened, I'd still have had that night with you, and I wouldn't trade that for all the world."
She felt her heart crack, a physical sensation, a hammer blow to her chest, and she started to cry. Dean pulled her into his arms, onto his lap, and held her to him, warm and comforting and smelling like wood and magic. She buried her face into the crook of his neck and sobbed.
And then they were kissing, right there in the middle of the shop, her hands on his face, him unsure where to touch her at first, settling for her lower back. Between kisses: "I'm so sorry, Dean. I wish I'd known."
Hermione felt his smile under her lips. She separated from him enough to wipe her tears on her sleeve, then kissed his cheek. "Can you close up? I really don't want to leave."
She realized what she'd said. It took a moment to sink in, but once it did, the glowing feeling inside her was enough to convince her of the rightness of the decision. "I don't." She kissed him once more. "I want to stay."+++++Your continued readership, support, and reviews are, as always, greatly appreciated.
My next posting will be the final two chapters, in which we discover what happens with Dean and Hermione, and then we revisit the Epilogue, albeit with a few (okay, more than a few) minor (okay, more than minor) changes.