It’s so easy to toss the envelope, unopened, into the rubbish and be done with it. There’s really nothing he’s likely to say that will make her change her mind, after all. Percy isn’t the type to write a letter of apology, to use flowery words to convince her to give them another chance, or to admit he might have been wrong.
Their last meeting is still fresh in her mind. When she told him she needed more, he’d not said a word. It had been eighteen months of dating, of attending Ministry functions together, of making love, of basically living together the last few months, but it isn’t enough. She knows he’s holding back, that she’s not getting all of him, and months of pretending that she’s fine with a sexual friendship, as they were friends before things became complicated and lines got blurred, finally got to be too much.
The word love was mentioned before she left and his reaction was all it took for her to know her decision, no matter how painful, was the right one. He acted as if the word love was a curse, an unforgivable that should never be uttered around him, and Hermione knew she had to carry through with her plans to end things before they became an even bigger mess.
It’s now been nearly four weeks and she’s not spoken to him since she left. Their paths cross at the Ministry sometimes, but a polite nod is sufficient for public appearances. She loves him, faults and all, so she does her best not to look at him for fear she’ll break and fall back into a relationship that is unfulfilling in many ways. He looks at her, she knows, because she’s caught him staring at her. There’s no way to read what he feels or thinks, though, as he’s perfected the art of keeping his thoughts to himself so all she sees is an impassive expression that is distant and cool. It’s not what she wants to see, not what she needs, so she tries not to look at him. While Hermione isn’t a romantic by any stretch of the imagination and she isn’t one for huge emotional displays, she wants to be loved.
She sits on her sofa and stares at the envelope. It’s been a rough few weeks. There are circles beneath her eyes from her inability to sleep. She’s throwing herself into work to avoid an empty flat and lonely life. There are many nights when she can’t recall when she’s last eaten. She cries at the silliest things, like finding one of his shirts amidst her own and having too many covers because he’s not pulling on them. She’s finally reached a point when she can go an entire night without reaching for him or expecting to find him there when she wakes.
This is the first attempt at contact he’s made, however, and she’s curious. For all she knows, it’s a request for his shirt and the few books from his collection that got mixed in with hers. That would hurt, to know he didn’t care about anything except his things, and she’s not sure if that would be give her the final push she needs to get over him or if she’d just sit and cry like some pathetic creature. She hates being so emotional and wants to heal, to recover from a failed love affair and move on.
Hermione finally reaches for the envelope and opens it. Her eyes widen when she pulls out an X-ray, of all things. Maybe she’s wrong and it’s not from him, since she can’t imagine why he’d have sent her a Muggle medical chart. She looks in the envelope but doesn’t see anything else. It’s just an X-ray with no markings or words.
“They can’t find anything wrong.”
She stiffens when she hears his soft voice, looking up from the mysterious X-ray to see him standing by her bookcase. “Percy,” she says coolly, trying her best not to react in any way that will prove embarrassing. Her hands shake as she lowers the X-ray. “What are you doing here?”
He stares at her a moment before he nervously runs his fingers through his curly hair. It’s a gesture that she rarely sees, usually only when he’s particularly worried about something and allows his nerves to break his composure. “I needed to see you,” he admits finally as he pushes his spectacles up his nose and looks at her again. “No one can help, you see, and I realized that I was possibly asking the wrong people. I do hate to make mistakes, as you know, so I had to rectify the matter.”
“Help with what?” she asks carefully, unable to figure out what the bloody hell was talking about.
“I even went to a Muggle hospital,” he tells her softly. “I thought that they could possibly find something wrong, and they took that exray picture after I paid quite a steep fee. I do believe they thought I was crazy. I’m beginning to agree with them, I must admit.”
“Percy, it’s late and I don’t have time for this,” she snaps as she decides he’s deliberately trying to annoy her. Percy never rambles on like this and he certainly doesn’t visit Muggle hospitals.
“I asked them to look at my heart,” he says quietly but firmly. His fingers are curled up into his palm and he’s tapping his left foot as he always does when he’s forced to speak about something he doesn’t want to discuss. She’s seen this behavior when he’s giving reports at Ministry meetings or facing his mum’s questioning about his life.
“Your heart?” she repeats slowly, hoping that it is just some sort of misguided prank and not something actually wrong with him.
“You see, it began to feel odd twenty-five days ago,” he continues, ignoring her question. “Well, twenty-five days, five hours, and thirty-two minutes is more exact, of course. It was quite startling, as I’m sure you can imagine, and I had no idea what could be wrong.”
She stares at him as she remembers what day she left, what time, and she licks her lips as she leans back and whispers, “Odd, huh?”
“I had other symptoms, too,” he says as he tugs on his tie and shifts in place. His face is so red that she can barely make out the freckles on his usually pale skin and she can tell he’s struggling to find the words he wants. “I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t eat, and I felt restless all the time. I consulted a Mediwitch who didn’t hesitate in telling me exactly what she thought I suffered from, though her theory about my being born with a stick up my, uh, well, it was very unfounded as you well know. She obviously had no worries that I’d tell Mum.”
“I don’t think Ginny would care,” she points out with a faint smile.
“Very true,” he agrees with a slight smile before he catches her gaze. “I went to the Muggle place to see if she was right. They took that picture, that exray, and said that my heart is fine. It’s not broken at all, but I know they’re wrong. It’s been incomplete since I…since I lost you.”
“Percy,” she starts to interrupt but he raises his hand and takes a deep breath before he continues.
“You’re the only thing that can fix me, Hermione,” he tells her matter-of-factly. “I need you. I love you.”
He stammers when he says he loves her, but he doesn’t look away and she knows how difficult this is for him. She isn’t aware that she’s crying until she sniffles and realizes her cheeks are damp. “I love you, too,” she whispers as she wipes her face.
“You---you still do?” he asks quietly.
“Yes, Percy, I still do.”
“I’m sorry that I---that I didn’t try to stop you and that it’s taken me so long to get my head out of my arse, which is another diagnosis from that bratty Mediwitch,” he says with a sheepish smile as he nervously pushes his spectacles up again and looks at her.
“I’d say that someone needs to teach that Mediwitch about getting a better bedside manner,” she replies as she smiles shyly, feeling a bit awkward and uncertain. Percy has told her more, in his own way, than he’s shared during the entire course of their relationship. It’s there in between the shifting and stammers, the blushes and nervous gestures, and she knows him well enough to understand everything he wants to say but doesn’t have the words for. She looks at the X-ray and then back at him. “Is this real?”
“Yes, it’s real. I couldn’t very well make a fool out of myself without appropriate support, could I?” he asks with just a hint of the prissiness that always makes her torn between rolling her eyes and smiling. “Well, I think I managed quite well when I let you go but that’s a mistake that I won’t be repeating.”
Before she can reply, he sits beside her and kisses her gently, brushing her hair away from her face before he cups her cheek and deepens the kiss. When they part, she sighs and traces his lips with her finger. “I can’t believe you went to so much trouble.”
“I missed you,” he says softly. “It wasn’t a lot of trouble, well, beyond convincing the Muggles that I wasn’t actually crazy. One of them finally decided that I was crazy, but just crazy in love, which isn’t something they can treat. You’re the only one who can do anything about that.”
“I missed you, too,” she admits, smiling at how corny and romantic he sounds with his talk of being crazy in love. “I guess I should start doing my best to cure you.”
“I don’t want to be cured,” he whispers before he lowers his head and kisses her again, pulling her closer as they lie on the sofa.
Hermione feels happier than she has in awhile and wonders if maybe there is something to the idea of being crazy in love after all.