Give Me Time
I sat stunned.
My plan had worked. I'd found out for certain if she loved me or not, and she did. My heart was burning in a way it never had before... I felt lighter than air... The whole world was full of flowers and sunshine...
Snap out of it man she just ran off!
Oh, right, Hermione's gone. I slapped my forehead, trying to reply events. Lots of people being tested. Answers ranging from strange to far too much information. A few cases of people almost poisoning themselves. Then she walked in... Then every ounce of cunning and tact I had flew out the window...
Reflecting, I had no idea how I had really expected that to play out. I had, at best, hoped for some hint of how best to win her... A sure fire thing. Then, perhaps an off-handed question of if she'd mind of we saw more of each other after school ended. Perhaps if things went exceptionally well, wondering if she'd want to go out. Explore finding our romantic sides together. Then she said the Amortentia smelled like me and my mind took a vacation.
I could already hear Mrs. Weasley and Harry yelling at me.
All right. Damage done. Let's access the situation. First instinct would be to run after her and figure this out, and I already know it's a bad idea. She's already sprinted out of the test room, likely white as a sheet. If the testing instructor runs out after her, then everyone will be suspicious as opposed to assuming she'd just embarrassed about her test results. Which leaves me no choice but to wait.
I looked at my docket. Only three students left. The test was quick. Roughly fifteen to twenty minutes needed to clean up and submit the results.
I would complete everything in ten.
I put my wand to my throat. "Michael Gibson."
I stood outside the castle, breathing hard. It had taken ten minutes exactly from my conscious choice to wait until this moment I stood looking for her. The elation I'd felt earlier had melted away to fear and panic, resembling something of the numb emptiness that still felt all too familiar. Through all this, my eyes searched for anything resembling her. My mind raced.
She's got to be outside somewhere... She wouldn't stay in the castle... The castle for her is the Library, and the answer to this problem is not in any book... Desperate I sent my thoughts out, probing everything. I closed my eyes, letting my inner sight see for me. My mental form looked over grass and stone, as my physical being gripped my wand tight and prepared to run. I hit the lake, and something shimmered. There.
I opened my eyes, gasping, and ran as fast as I could without alerting anyone. I wasn't pacing myself for running this far like I should, but I didn't care. It wasn't the first time I'd found new ends to my limits, and wouldn't be the last. When I reached the glittering still surface and saw her personally, I slowed. She was sitting, which meant she wouldn't be going anywhere, and running up behind her would only frighten her. Best approach this slowly.
I stepped lightly, my boots making soft crunching sounds on fresh grass. As I got closer I put my wand away so I wouldn't be a threat. I took every precaution not to be alarming. I was nearly right behind her.
"You don't have to act like I'm a time bomb about to go off."
The sudden remark sounded so sharp to my ears I completely lost track of everything. My voice betrayed my confusion. "I wasn't intending to treat you as a time bomb. I merely needed you to know I wasn't a threat."
"Of course you aren't a threat. You never were a threat. That's the whole problem."
Her knees were pulled to her chest, and her chin was resting on them. I stepped up beside her, trying to achieve comforting, professional, serious, and understanding all at once. Futile. "What do you mean?"
She looked at me. "You aren't a threat. You are an understanding, kind person, who's been there for me this whole time. You treated me the level of respect I'd been dreaming of, and didn't know I'd been dreaming of. You made Ron seem like a complete idiot." She laughed. "That shouldn't matter though... He completely is..." I laughed, and she joined me, then put her head back down while slamming her hands on the ground. "That! That's what I mean... I can laugh with you. I can come to you with... anything..."
I tried to find my emotional footing. "Hermione, it makes me happy to hear you say this. And, you're not alone... I can come to you with parts of me I didn't even know were there." Her expression didn't change, and she kept her eyes on the lake. I sat down, giving up on any form of posture, and continued my words fervently. "I've wanted to you be able to come to me with anything. And I apologize here and now if anything in my behavior ever gave you the idea that I wanted anything but that. I didn't particularly know it at first, but we both have grown very close, so it's only natural that feeling should occur."
She did turn to look at me, glaring. "You make it sound like this whole thing is a science experiment!" Her eyes were furious, but not near as terrifying as the shaking notes in her voice. My eyes widened and I made unintelligible sounds, trying to get out 'that's not what I meant at all!' and 'what did I say wrong?' and somewhere beneath it 'what is science?'
"Th-th-...I-I-I-..." I shook my head, my hands grasping at air. "Hermione I'm just trying to talk to you about this!"
"Well I can't talk about this! Not... not now..." She looked away, back at the lake. "This is... so awful..."
I sat, stunned and hurt. I didn't know what to do. I had to do something. I lifted my hand to put it on her shoulder. "Hermione..."
"Hermione!" A loud call from behind us caused us both to turn. A man and a woman, escorted by Ministry officials...
"Sorry to barge in like this," the man who had to be her father began apologetically, "but we wanted to surprise you for your graduation. We wouldn't have been able to see the castle on our own-"
"So when the Ministry contacted us and said they couldn't arrange the transport for the right day and it would either be early or late, we chose early! Happy Graduation dear!"
I was flabbergasted. Of all the times for them to show up, it had to be now. Hermione seemed as shocked as I was, but recovered much quicker.
"Mum! Dad!" Hermione rushed past me and into her parent's arms. I could tell by the delay that she was suddenly remembering she had to be surprised. She looked joyous. I felt lost. "I'm so glad... You're here! How long are you staying?"
There was various small talk made. Slowly the officers disbanded, with soft words of acknowledgement to myself. I ignored it all, my eyes on the young woman being embraced by her family. Finally, resolutely, I began to walk off.
"Professor!" Hermione broke free and rushed over to me. As she approached me and it got to the point where only my eyes could see her face, her happiness faded to a stern, sad, but promising conclusion. "We will continue our discussion later." She looked me in the eyes, and a flicker of the person I knew, and loved, shown for a moment. "Just... Give me time."
Then she turned and walked back up to the castle with her parents, my gaze following her the whole way.