Something Unexpected

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For lorraineblue and moreteadk who inspired this fic

Originally Published: April 19, 2006

If this is what love felt like, Hermione wanted no part of it.

She felt horrible. It was worse than the flu, worse than most curses she’d ever experienced, and she really hated it. She was twenty-six years old, but she’d never been in love before so she had no idea it felt this bad. There had been an infatuation, with Viktor, and a platonic love that drifted into something more intimate briefly when she was younger, with Ron, but she’d never met anyone who made her want to take the risk with her heart.

And then she met Adrian Pucey at a friend’s birthday party. He had intrigued her from the first time they met, but she’d dismissed her interest because he really just wasn’t her type. Adrian was handsome, charming, artistic, and intelligent, but he was also a huge flirt who didn’t seem to take anything too seriously. It had been years since Hermione and Ron had broken up, and she had focused on work and her friends, not on a physical relationship or dating. She was attracted to Adrian, flustered when he flirted so easily with her, and she blamed a lack of intimacy in the past for the reaction she had when he smiled at her and asked her to dance.

She had known as they danced, somehow, that he was dangerous to her. After their dance, she’d avoided him for the rest of the night because she didn’t need or want complications in her life. The day after the party, she’d received an owl from him candidly saying that he’d enjoyed talking with her, that he hadn’t been able to stop thinking about her, and that he wanted to see her again. Instead of ignoring the owl or sending him a polite refusal, she’d read it several times during the day before she’d taken a chance and owled him back with an acceptance.

In the days that followed, an unexpected friendship developed, which had been a pleasant surprise. The attraction between them was palpable, and each date just made the desire build until they couldn’t ignore it anymore. They became intimate on their sixth date, barely three weeks after they met, and she hadn’t had any regrets the morning after. Of course, regrets would have been difficult with Adrian washing her back and then helping cook breakfast before having her for dessert.

Hermione had tried to keep it casual. She’d tried to be a woman of the world who could indulge in a sexual relationship without strings. She’d tried to keep herself from becoming emotionally attached because she didn’t want to be hurt. Despite her best efforts, she’d failed. She just wasn’t that type of woman: the kind who could become intimate with a man and keep emotion out of it.

It had been more than just great sex for her. Adrian was different than anyone she knew, and she liked that about him. They had enough in common to have plenty to talk about and enough differences to make things interesting. Some of his habits drove her insane, like his tendency to procrastinate until the last minute and the fact that he never hung up wet towels. He was also a huge flirt and probably too good-looking for his own good, but he lacked the conceit that his looks would cause in most men. He was a romantic, unlike herself, and a sensualist, who helped her learn how to be comfortable with her sexuality, her body, and her desires.

She’d realized that she had somehow fallen in love, despite her intentions to keep it casual, after they’d been involved for nearly three months. She had suspected it sooner, but hadn’t known for certain until then. It had been a normal day and she’d been listening to him talk about a recent assignment that had him photographing historical Muggle inns, and she’d just known she loved him. To be completely honest, she thought that she was probably already half in love with him by the time they became intimate or she’d have not been able to share herself with him that way.

After her realization, she had kept her true feelings to herself for weeks because she’d known he didn’t want something serious. They’d never talked about it, but she knew his past and was aware that he wasn’t a long-term sort of guy. He had been seeing her for five months now, which was the longest he’d ever been with just one person according to his own admission, and she’d expected him to end things any day once he got bored and wanted to move on.

It had been nine days since she’d slipped up and told him how she felt. She couldn’t even use sex as an excuse because she’d not whispered it after a shag or as she snuggled against his warm body. No, she’d stupidly said it when she’d come home from a long day at work after a stressful deadline to find him in the kitchen making dinner. He’d grinned and shown off his ‘Kiss the Cook’ apron, which had gone well with the faded blue jeans that rode low on his hips, and told her he thought she deserved to be spoiled.

I love you had slipped out before she could stop the words. He’d looked shocked, staring at her as if she were crazy, and turned away without saying anything. It had all gone downhill from there. The food was good but she’d been unable to taste anything or enjoy it because he looked like all he wanted to do was leave. He spent the meal shifting in his seat and staring at her and being silent for the first time since she’d met him. It hadn’t been a surprise when he’d given her a quick kiss and left after dinner with a lie about having an assignment due that he’d forgotten to develop.

She hadn’t seen him since. The days had drifted into each other and Hermione tried to get her old routine back. She went to work and came home and read and slept and went to work and repeated the cycle as if she were sleepwalking. She wanted to hate him for hurting her like this, but knew that he’d never made any promises. He’d been honest all along about not wanting anything serious in a long-term relationship way. She was the one who had changed, not him.

She supposed it was better to end things now before she got even more involved. It felt horrible right now, but it would have been even worse if they’d been together longer. The knowledge that it would eventually get better wasn’t much comfort right now. She was good at putting on a public face so no one had any idea how miserable she felt or how difficult things were at the moment. Though she had deliberately avoided seeing Harry or Ron this week because they’d know her well enough to realize something was wrong and she just wasn’t ready to talk about it. They hadn’t really understood her and Adrian being together anyway, as they seemed to be such an odd match, and had mostly accepted it because she was happy.

She had been getting over it, reasonably well, until today. It was Saturday, and she was alone. The flat was ridiculously quiet and even Crookshanks was sad. She couldn’t find anything to distract her from the loneliness and missing Adrian, not even work or a good book. She’d finally just gone to lie down and wallow in feeling miserable before she forced herself to get over it. She wasn’t sure what had triggered the tears, but she’d been lying on the bed trying to plan the upcoming week and the next thing she knew, she was crying and holding the pillow he usually used when he’d stayed over.

Now she had one of those annoying headaches she got when she cried and her face was damp and spotty. Her stomach was growling and she felt foolish for acting like this. It wasn’t like she was the first person who had ever loved someone who didn’t love them back. She should just be strong and move on because feeling miserable wasn’t doing anything except making it worse.

She felt the bed shift and looked down to see Crookshanks staring at her. “I know, I know,” she muttered as she wiped her hand over her face. “I look like shite.”

Crookshanks butted his head against her feet, which she wasn’t sure meant he agreed or he wanted food. Hermione sat up and pushed her hair away from her face before she got out of bed. She found her slippers and slid them on before she dared to look in the mirror. Her fear was confirmed as she saw the mess of hair surrounding her splotchy face and noticed how red her eyes looked. Crookshanks walked to the door, his tail swishing smugly, which meant he’d wanted food, and gave her a look that said she’d better get him fed or else.

“Fine. I’ll feed you,” she said as she sighed and followed him out of the bedroom. They walked down the hall towards the kitchen before Crookshanks stopped suddenly and sat down. She nearly tripped over him and cursed as she barely caught herself before she sprawled out on the floor face first.

He was staring at the sitting room and she turned to look to see what caught his attention. Her eyes widened as she saw the man seated on the sofa, immediately wrapping her arms around herself protectively as if that would keep her heart safe from breaking again.

“I’ve missed you, Kitten,” Adrian said softly.

“I don’t remember inviting you here so I think you should go,” she told him as firmly as possible.

“I brought you these.” He motioned to a vase that was filled with a dozen, if not two, roses in a beautiful shade of red. Adrian stood up and ran a hand through his hair as he looked at her.

“Adrian, please just go.” She hated that her voice trembled and sounded so weak, that he was seeing her so vulnerable and knew he’d hurt her.

“I can’t,” he whispered. “I can’t leave, Kitten. I need---I have to see you.”

“You’ve seen me. Now go and take your flowers with you. I don’t want you here.”

“Damn it, Hermione! Would you just listen?”

“Don’t take that tone with me, Adrian Pucey! This is my flat and you’re here uninvited!”

“I’m trying to tell you that I miss you and that---“

“I don’t care. I can’t do this anymore, Adrian. I’m tired and I just can’t.”

“You---you’ve been crying, haven’t you?”

“It’s just allergies. It’s a bad time of year for them, you know?”

“I never meant to make you cry, Kitten. I need to tell you…”

“You did, though. Whether it was intentional or not, you hurt me.” Hermione sighed and shook her head. “I can’t go back, Adrian. I can’t do a casual relationship and just have great sex without anything else.”

“I’ve never---I don’t know---I want---“ Adrian groaned and ran his hand over his face. “I’m fucking up, again.”

Had it been any other circumstance, she would have smiled at seeing Adrian so flustered. He was normally a great communicator and very charming. However, she couldn’t muster a smile as she tried to be strong. “I think you should go, Ade,” she said softly.

“No,” he said as he looked at her and squared his shoulders. “No, I won’t go. Not until you listen to me.”

Hermione felt her control slipping and was ready to snap at him to leave before she finally looked at him. There were dark circles beneath his eyes and his hair was a mess, sticking out in various directions. He looked tired, worn out, and utterly defeated, which concerned her because he was always such a dynamic force and so alive that it drew her to him. She was going to ask if he was okay when she noticed that he was wearing a faded Chudley Cannons shirt that she recognized. “That’s my shirt.”

“What?” Adrian blinked at her and then glanced down. His face flushed and he stuck his hands in the pocket of his faded jeans as he gave her a sheepish look. “I, uh, found it at my flat. It was always too big for you, you know? And it still smelled like you. I’ve charmed it so the scent doesn’t fade because I missed you.”

“You’re wearing my shirt,” she said slowly, wondering if he had any idea how sexy he could make a blush look. She pushed those thoughts away and focused on broken hearts and unhappiness.

“I know it’s weird,” he admitted before he sighed. “I just needed to be close to you, as much as I could. God, Kitten, I miss you so much.”

“I’m not the one who left,” she pointed out as she tried to reconcile him wearing her old T-shirt and missing her with him leaving and not looking back.

“I was scared. I mean, this is the first time I’ve even been with the same person for more than a couple of dates and then you went and completely changed everything,” he told her. “I was freaked out and didn’t have any idea what to do or say so I just…I left. I thought if I left, that it would go away. That everything would be back to normal in my life again and things would make sense.”

“Do you really think I wasn’t scared?” she asked as she rubbed her palm over her arm.

Adrian looked at her and said, “I didn’t think about anything except how scared your words made me. I’m a selfish immature bastard, I know, but I didn’t know what to do. I just wanted to not feel so confused but, see, nothing makes sense without you. I need you, Hermione. I think I may have felt it for awhile and that’s why I was so scared, because I didn’t know how to but knew I probably did and didn’t want to fuck it up because I have this tendency to fuck up when things get complicated and you deserve better than that. Running didn’t help, though, because I still feel it only now it’s even worse because you’re not there and it’s just empty and I even miss your bloody cat and the way you scowl when I forget to put the seat down on the toilet and your nagging about my taking photos of you while you’re reading and everything, really.”

“I don’t nag,” she denied, wondering how he had possibly managed to say all of that at one time. He had just managed to confuse her with his rambling run on thoughts, which was frustrating.

“You do nag, Kitten,” he said with a hint of a smile before he licked his lips and shifted again. “I thought you might like the flowers and hoped you’d listen to me, that you’d given me another chance even if I fucked up before and don’t really deserve one. I never meant to hurt you, but I can’t promise that I won’t again because all of this is new to me. I don’t really know how to do it and figure I’ll mess up a lot but I want to try, if you’ll have me. Thinking about a future without you scares me far more than loving you does.”

He was making her headache worse, she decided as he continued rambling and asking for another chance, which she couldn’t give him. She wanted more than just sex and friendship, more than a casual relationship with the man she loved. It would hurt to lose him, again, but she couldn’t risk her heart again. “Adrian, I told you that I can’t,” she reminded softly, wishing he wasn’t so stubborn and would listen. “You should go---wait, what did you say?”

“Which part?” he asked with a wry smile. “I don’t want to hurt you, Hermione. I’ll go if that’s your decision. I know I hurt you and I wish I could go back and handle it differently, I really do, but I can’t.”

“The part about loving me,” she interrupted as she just stared at him, wondering if she’d heard wrong.

“Oh, didn’t I tell you---“ Adrian closed his eyes and cursed at himself before he opened them and met her gaze. “I thought I told you already. I love you, Kitten. At least, I’m pretty sure it’s love, even if it’s made me feel miserable since I left here last week.”

“You love me?”

“I thought we just established that. Do I need to say it again? I practiced before coming here, you know? Couldn’t quite get past the ‘lo’ part until this morning. Sounded like a stammering firstie most of the time, but now it’s easier. I love you. See? Much better than it sounded before. I love you.”

“God, you prattle on worse than most women I know,” she muttered as he nervously rambled again. This time, however, she smiled slightly as she looked at him.

“I always talk when I’m nervous, which isn’t a good trait to have in Slytherin,” he confessed. “This is just, well, the most important, and probably bravest, thing I’ve ever done and I don’t want to do something to mess it up. Though I guess I already did since I sort of skipped the most important part, which is the I love you part.”

“It’s really not fair,” she told him as she relaxed her defensive position. “Only you could make rambling attractive. Though, if you keep on, I might need a headache potion.”

“Sorry,” he said with a hopeful smile as he took a step closer. “So am I too late?” He reached her and took her hands in his, brushing his fingers against her palms as he lowered his head so that their foreheads were pressed together. “I love you, Hermione. I’m sorry I hurt you and that I wasn’t ready when you were.”

She thought about it, honestly considering whether she wanted to risk being hurt or miserable again, of not knowing how to act or what to do and having to learn it all together, of fighting and making up, of loving and being vulnerable. He waited, giving her time, respecting that it wasn’t a decision she could make lightly.

“You’re not too late, Adrian,” she finally whispered before she tilted her head back and brushed a kiss against his lips. “I love you, too.”

He kissed her then, a tender kiss unlike any they’d shared previously. She was probably being foolish, but it felt like the kiss of two people in love who now had a possible future together. The kiss deepened and he pulled her closer, his arms going around her as he held her against him. Perhaps this being in love thing wasn’t so bad, after all.

The End