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The Smile that Struggled Through Tears

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It was early February when she saw Minerva again. Hermione had been for a job interview at a law firm in Muggle London and she almost bumped into Minerva in the street. She was wearing a beautiful bottle-green jumper and black jeans, of all things. Hermione tried her best not to stare.

"Hermione!"

Mac's voice was loud in her head as she forced a smile.

"Hi," she said politely.

Minerva unhooked her arm from Mac's and stepped forward to give her a hug. Hermione blinked in shock. It was only at the last moment that she remembered that hugs should probably be reciprocated.

"You look well," Hermione said, kicking herself for sounding so formal.

"I am," Minerva smiled. "It is good to be at peace, finally. Even the students are behaving," she chuckled.

Hermione wasn't so sure she agreed. She'd not received any Muggle university placements and so far had no job either. She refused to bend and join the Ministry so she'd gone looking in the Muggle world. She also steadfastly refused to think about why Minerva looked so jovial on Mac's arm.

"Do you have a day off today?" Minerva asked.

"Um, yeah," she lied. "Thought I'd go for a wander."

"Where are you staying?"

"Oh, my," she blanked. "I'm staying at home. My parents are," her heart crumbled. "Away."

"You should stay down here for a few days," Mac said happily. "I can show you all the best clubs."

Hermione frowned in confusion.

"I," she shook herself. "I'm not, I don't go to clubs, but thank you for the offer."

"Why don't you go back, darling, and I'll walk with Hermione for a while."

That wouldn't do.

"Oh, please don't trouble yourself," Hermione said quickly. "I'm actually off to an appointment. Thank you. It was great to see you both. Take care."

She knew Minerva had looked at her shrewdly but she waved absently and set off past them, down the street. She could feel their eyes on her the whole way before she turned the corner into the alley she'd used when she arrived and Apparated home.

Harry was sitting in her living room.

"What the hell?" she screeched as she opened the door.

"Hiya," he grinned. "How are you?"

"I'm," she shrugged. "Fine? Are you? Did I give you a key?"

"There's this handy little spell," he grinned.

"Oh," she groaned. "Well shit."

"I'm good," he continued. He'd clearly missed the look on her face that indicated that she was not, in fact, fine. "So, I have news," he said. He stood up and held a grin on his face that threatened to light up the whole house. She guessed what he was going to say and braced for the reveal. "Ginny's pregnant!"

Hermione hugged him tightly. She took the moment while he laughed over her shoulder to blink a tear from her eye. How unfair life was, at times. 

"I'm so happy," she smiled, lying through her teeth. "You're going to be the most amazing dad." That was less of a lie. She was pretty sure he really would be an amazing father. 

"Wanna be Godmother?"

"Of course." He hugged her again and stepped back.

"We're doing a party thing, next month. But I wanted to tell you first. Everyone's invited. Even Charley's coming, apparently."

"Good." She wished she could just say what she wanted to. "I'll be there."

"Awesome. Maybe you and Ron could -"

"What? No," she frowned. "Harry, that's over."

"But -"

"I'm really happy for you and Ginny, Harry. But I'm not getting back with Ron. That's ludicrous. He doesn't want it any more than I do."

"But he does!"

"No, Harry," she shook her head. "He really doesn't."

Harry frowned at her and looked carefully. 

"Why can't you let him."

"Let him?" Hermione squeaked. She stared at him in shock. "Let him what? Ruin my life? Treat me like an afterthought? Stand me up on Christmas Eve?"

"Christmas -" Harry frowned. "He and I went to the Quidditch."

"I know he fucking did," Hermione hissed. "Even though I made sure to tell him, a month prior, that he'd already agreed to plans with me before he made plans with you. He insisted that he just forgot and he'd catch the next game with you. And then he left me sitting at a restaurant, Harry. A nice restaurant. On Christmas Eve. By myself."

"Hermione, it was -"

"Oh, just get out," she said. She'd had enough. "Just," she shrugged. "Why do I have to bend, Harry? Why do I have to be the one to excuse him. I tried dating him. He got drunk at the Leaky Cauldron every time. In fact, the last time we tried to go for a drink, he only spoke two words to me that went something like wanna fuck and if you think that's appropriate then you can fucking date him."

Harry stared at her like he'd never seen her and she felt even angrier when she realised that even he didn't know her.

"Just go," she sighed. "Forget about it."

"No," Harry said quietly. "This is important."

"It's been important for months, Harry. Another one isn't going to make it less so. Go, enjoy your day. I genuinely am extremely happy for you."

When he didn't leave, she decided she would. She didn't want to talk about it anymore so she shrugged and went to her room; up the stairs in her parent's house, void of the only people on the entire planet who actually knew her properly. She shut the door and locked it then fell onto her bed, crying into her pillow and wondering where the hell it had all gone wrong.