So anyway, hello all *waves sheepishly* I'm a relative newcomer to writing fanfiction so being part of the team here is rendering me totally incapable of logical thought (see run-on sentence above). Thought I'd kick things off with something short and simple. Enjoy!
Title: The Six Times Harry Potter Didn't Say "I Love You"
Pairing: H/Hr (with some hints of H/G)
Notes: Spoilers from 1-7 but EWE. Unbeta'd because I misplaced mine...
The first time, he is all of 11 years old, brave and naïve and out of his depth. He sits in front of a mirror gazing at people he has never known and could never know. As he stares at the two people in the foreground, at the young, blameless faces of his parents, it takes him a while to recognize the words they are mouthing at him. We love you, they say, as his mother strokes his face. We love you, as his father grins and drapes an arm around his shoulder.
The spell of the mirror haunts him, for he desires, he longs, he yearns as never before. Words that had never held any meaning for him, had never heard except when accompanied by “Diddykins".
For the first time in his life, he wants to say the words. Wants to tell them that he loves them, misses them, wishes for them every bleeding moment of his life. He closes his eyes and with a childish, foolish hope that magic can do anything, he counts to ten before opening them again.
The words freeze on his tongue as all that looks back at him are two reflections in a stilted, repetitive dance, not the flesh and bone he so desperately wished for. He places his palm against the cold glass and wonders if he’ll ever get the chance to say the words for real.
The second time, he is a little older but not so much wiser, as evidenced by the fact that he has just run headlong into a situation once again with little more than determination and a few Hermione’d clues. And Ron.
They have just escaped a den of carnivorous spiders that wanted to go carnivorous on their arses by the grace of a lone, charmed Ford Anglia. Relief, sweet and swift, courses through him as they clear the edge of the Forbidden Forest. Looking at his companion, the ginger-haired dynamo himself, he is pale and trembling but with a beatific smile on his face.
So he is more than a little bemused when Ron clutches him tight and mutters in a choked whisper, I love you, man. He can do little else than pat his best friend’s back in awkward wonder. Fleetingly, he debates over what the etiquette is for these types of situations.
Because somehow, in all of his dreams, the first time someone said that to him, it would be little more meaningful. And with a lot less testosterone.
The third time, he is too late.
By the time he realizes his error, the chance and the choice have been taken away from him. With one quick gesture, the man with the laughing eyes and the dark shaggy hair was gone, leaving no evidence of his existence except for a few yellowed flyers still bearing his face, a grim old house and one angry young man.
The stifling heat of Surrey in the summer and the suburban confines of his cage press deeply into his consciousness. He doesn't want to remember, does not want to think of his godfather at all. But his subconscious does not have the same qualms.
He longs for blessed sleep but knows that once he closes his eyes, he will be haunted by those last few minutes in the bowels of the Ministry on continuous replay. Worse, sometimes he dreams of what could have been - a small house in the country, rough but affectionate ruffles of his hair, a rowdy cheer at Quidditch matches…and a family of two. It hurts ten thousand times over when he wakes up and realizes that once again, it never happened. How he wishes he could say the same about everything else.
He curls his fists in impotence and welcomes the pain of nails cutting into flesh. And still he cannot stop hearing the damning voice in his head.
Shouldn't have listened to Kreacher. Should have used the mirror. Should have been more careful. Should have been faster. Should have been stronger. Should have told him.
The fourth time, he is all of 21, young, fancy-free, blessedly alive. And he cannot say the words because for once, he cannot lie.
He knows she longs to hear it from him. It has been close to a year and she is getting impatient. Three little words -- it is something to hold on to, as she struggles to understand him, coddle him, keep him.
She knows that even if he hasn't stepped out of the door, he has already left her. So she tries to mark him, with the clutch of her desperate fingers around him and her cloyingly sweet words. Sweetheart. Love. Dearest. Honey. He does not even know if the words she lets trip from her tongue so blithely are true.
People would say he's just leading her along but he honestly wants to feel something more for this woman; he just wonders if maybe all the years of blood, tears and darkness have sucked the ability right out of him. So he holds on and pretends that they aren't just using each other - one to fulfill her girlhood dreams of getting the Hero, the other to forget his nightmares in soft arms and pale skin.
Whenever he kisses her, he very carefully takes off his glasses beforehand. The blurring of her face and the blunting of the sunset glow of her hair make it easier.
Easier to ignore his conscience. Easier to forget he does not love her.
The fifth time comes courtesy of a small boy with blue hair.
It is a weekend in spring and by chance or folly, he has his godson for three whole days. By the 3rd hour, he is more winded running after one mischievous imp of a Metamorphmagus than he has ever been playing Quidditch.
After the tenth - possibly eleventh – go as a human Tilt-a-Whirl, he finally collapses on the backyard lawn. Arms full of rollicking, squirming boy, stomach as makeshift trampoline and, he is quite certain, spine becoming one with the ground. This is the happiest he has ever been.
Cries of Again! Again! mingled with giggles echo in his ears. He is still struggling to catch his breath when two fat, sticky hands reach up to pat his cheeks. Closing his eyes, he breathes in the mingled scents of green grass, bubblegum, soil and little boy. That’s when he hears it.
Love you, Unca Harry.
And he is stunned speechless. He gazes into laughing grey eyes whose owner grins toothily before throwing both arms around his godfather’s neck and nuzzling his snotty face into it. Before anything else can be said, blue-haired boy has run off and is now yelling something about mud pies in the kitchen.
The sun is shining. His charge is hell-bent on making sure he regrets putting in that state-of-the-art magical stove. He is dog-tired, smelly and has just been used as a handkerchief.
Scratch what he said before. Apparently, he didn’t know how happy he could be.
The sixth time happens something like this…
He feels the tickle of a strand of unruly hair against his cheek and in the dappled sunlight of midmorning, he smiles. The silence in the room is deafening. He props himself on his elbow to watch the bed’s other occupant snore in blissful slumber.
It is an unfamiliar but not unwelcome sight - her lying naked on her belly, left arm under the pillow, right hand bunched up alongside her cheek. As he watches, she frowns minutely and said hand stretches out across the expanse of white rumpled cotton, as if searching for something. He curls his fingers around her questing ones and watches as her features soften once more. Then she goes right back to snoring.
He stifles a chuckle and in that brief moment, he knows that this is it for him. That this small woman, with her bushy hair, her sharp mind and her keyless eyes, will be the last and only love of his life.
The realization hits him like the proverbial thunderbolt. He longs to wake her as soon as humanely possible and tell her that hey, he isn't incapable of love after all. Then as soon as he recovers from the almighty whack to the head that he was sure to be getting after waking her up with that announcement, he would say the words. Finally.
He is saved from an early morning beating by the rustle of sheets and a sleep drunk Morning, Harry.
As he looks at her, all the words...too many words he had to tell her, to span the years they had known each other, bled, wept, laughed beside each other...they bottlenecked somewhere in his throat in their rush to get away and he is left staring. In love. In awe.
And like so many other times before, she saves him. Her eyes soften and with an elegant finger on his lips, she smiles. I know. I do too.
The sixth time, the last time Harry Potter didn't say I love you...was because he didn’t have to.