Jess. 21. Texan.
Stumbling through adulthood and willing to talk to anyone about anything. I do a lot of shipping and a lot of writing.
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Because you know, deep down, you deserve to be punished. Don’t you, Mr. Potter?
His chest tightened at the realization. He did deserve to be punished, death followed him everywhere. Maybe he was death. Dumbledore had abandoned him. Perhaps he’d seen that Harry was a lost cause and left while his heart still beat.
He’d killed his parents, really. If he had been anyone else, James and Lily Potter would be alive and well. His own hands had killed Quirrel. Burned the flesh from his face and he’d listened as his screams of terror and pain filled his ears. Cederic had died because of him. He suggested that they grab the cup together. The flash of bright green light still burned behind Harry’s lids, the soundless scream of Cederic’s face, and the light going out of his eyes.
Seamus and Dean and parts of the Gryffindor house had abandoned him. The school and its inhabitants whispering and pointing and sneering behind his back (and sometimes to his face). He travelled the corridors alone because no one wanted to get close to him—not while he was cursed. Not while everyone near him died or left him.
So he nodded, face hot with shame, “Yes, Professor.” He dragged the quill against the parchment, the pain radiating from the center of his hand outwards, scratching and digging into his skin.
He deserved this. He deserved this. He deserved this.
The walk back to the dorm room is a haze of pain and he can’t quite see the point of struggling anymore.
It’s Hermione, of course it’s Hermione, who greets him at the portrait hole, eyes concerned and brow furrowed. “Harry? What’s wrong with your hand?”
He shakes and pushes past her, thinks better of it, turns around and heads back to the Great Hall. He can’t deal with anyone, especially not Hermione. But of course Hermione doesn’t let him get away with anything and her hurried footsteps are following behind him, her voice frantic and calling his name.
He turns the corner quickly, picking up the pace, the tightening in his chest getting more severe, his breath coming out in short bursts and he feels like he can’t breathe.
I killed them. I deserve to be punished. I did this. I deserve the pain, I did this.
He can’t breathe and his vision is blacking at the edges and he needs to sit down because he’s going to pass out and he thinks he might be having a panic or anxiety attack. He stops and leans against the nearest wall, gasping for breath, still seeing Cederic, his parents, Quirrel, and the nameless, faceless people Voldemort is no doubt murdering at this moment because Harry was weak and let his blood be taken. He’s weak and a curse and then, like an angel, Hermione is there, a cool hand on his forehead and a soothing voice in his ear.
"Harry? Harry, you need to breathe. C’mon, just breathe with me. Shhh."
But it’s not working, he’s struggling and pulling and pushing because she needs to go, needs to leave him.
"Hermione, you need to go. Just leave me alone, okay? Want you safe." He’s heaving and gasping and he just needs fucking air and for Hermione to leave him be before he hurts her. "Don’t wanna hurt you, ‘Mione. Need you safe. If you stay with me, you’ll be hurt. I’m bad, I’m bad."
He’s babbling and gasping and Hermione is there, pulling his head to her chest, hands running through his hair and rubbing soothing circles on his back. His ear is pressed to her chest and her skin is warm and she’s alive and well in front of him.
"Listen to my heart, breathe in time with me, Harry. Breathe."
It takes a moment but Hermione’s heartbeat and breathing is breaking through the panicked haze of pain and memories. His lungs burn with the sudden intake of cool oxygen and his vision is clearing. His skin tingles and burns as Hermione pulls away and cradles his injured hand to her body, running a gentle finger over the raised and red flesh.
He shakes his head. “Deserved it.”
She pulls his chin up and forces his eyes to meet hers, bringing a hand up to brush the fringe out of his eyes.
"You don’t deserve this, Harry Potter."
She leans down and presses a chaste kiss to his forehead, letting her head lean against his for a moment. Her voice is low, “And you aren’t cursed, so good luck trying to get me to leave.” She lets her lips drag down the side of his face, her lips pressing quickly to the corner of his mouth, nose nuzzling into his cheek. “I’m never leaving you.”
He lets out a choked sob and she’s here and holding him and she’s never going to leave him. He’s going to protect her and she’s going to protect him and they are staying together because she doesn’t think he’s cursed. He nods against her and wraps his arms around her body, molding his body to hers, shuddering because she’s solid and real and warm and he can have this.
He can have her and he won’t let anyone take her away from him.
He takes a deep breath, inhaling the pure smell of Hermione and sighs. She’ll keep him fighting.
They stay like that, wrapped up in each other, rocking back and forth, murmuring reassurances into each other’s skin in the cold stone hallway of Hogwarts. He might deserve pain and punishment, but he also deserves the chance at happiness. He deserves Hermione.