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Two Out of Three Ain't Bad by jessicadamien [Reviews - 9]

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AN: The words in italics are lyrics from Meatloaf's "Two Out of Three Ain't Bad". This was suggested by a prompt from Linda of ARWoW. Thanks, Linda!

Hermione lay awake in the pre-dawn hour, her eyes tracing a crack across the dim ceiling. She and Severus had argued for hours, it seemed, and his words were still cutting through the tender flesh of her soul.

Baby, we can talk all night
But that ain’t getting us nowhere.
I told you everything I possibly can.
There’s nothing left inside of here.

He’d told her everything, all right. She’d already known much of what he’d told her, but hearing the words out loud, without seeing any indication he’d wanted to suck them right back in, was the most painful part of it. He’d meant everything, and though he probably wouldn’t have voiced his feelings normally, she’d kept picking away at him until he’d shouted them to her. It had been an explosion, a sort of catharsis of spirit for him.

She hadn’t wanted to break down in front of him. Her tears had been scalding, and through them she’d seen him looking toward the door, as if to escape her womanly emotions. It had always been that way between them. He couldn’t deal with tears, and she couldn’t stop them. She’d struggled, knowing how uncomfortable it made him, and it was only the sound of the wind howling outside that made her gulp down her sobs and wipe dry her eyes.

Maybe you can cry all night
But that’ll never change the way that I feel.
The snow is really piling up outside.
I wish you wouldn’t make me leave here.

It wasn’t his fault. He’d always been honest with her, right from the start. Like anything else she’d tackled in her life, she had figured persistence would eventually win the day. He’d responded so well to her, once they got past the awkwardness of their former annoying student/intimidating teacher relationship.

She still had a lot of maturing to do, this she knew. He’d been so patient with her, but everyone has a breaking point, and she’d poked hard at his tonight.

She rolled to her side and stared out the window at the grey light of dawn filtering in through the leaves of the trees. Curling up in a fetal position, she thought back to where she thought the turning point had come.

She’d been campaigning hard the last few months, wanting him to go with her to see her parents. They were anxious to see her again. Their unwitting exile to Australia during Voldemort’s reign was still upsetting them, now that they knew everything involved with Hermione’s decision to send them there. They became upset and worried if more than a month went by without a visit from her, and she supposed it would be like this for many years to come.

Was it really so much to ask Severus to come with her this time? He was such a huge part of her life, but he’d outright refused. She accused him of being unreasonable. How could he expect her to spend the rest of her life keeping him a secret?

Even the silent treatment hadn’t worked on him. He assured her it wasn’t that he felt he should be kept secret from the rest of her life, but that the idea of seeming to need her parents’ blessings was hypocritical to him. She hadn’t even dignified that with an answer. If he was so obtuse that he couldn’t see she wasn’t seeking their approval of him, then the hell with him. She’d gloated, feeling he’d be coming around any time, once she realized the pains he was going through to send gifts to her parents, courtesy of Hermione. He’d brewed potions for both of them; her mother would never need to worry about worry lines and sagging flesh, and her father would be growing back what little hairline had already receded.

She had kept up the silent treatment a while longer, hoping he’d see it wasn’t enough. She wanted him by her side, not gifts for her family.

I poured it on and I poured it out.
I tried to show you just how much I care.
I’m tired of words and I’m too hoarse to shout.
But you’ve been cold to me so long
I’m crying icicles instead of tears.

Her childish antics had backfired. He could not be manipulated so easily, and he had seen right through her anyway. “If you loved me, you’d come with me.” Had she really told him that? She cringed even deeper into her pillow at the memory.

And all I can do is keep on telling you
I want you.
I need you.
But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you.

Now don’t be sad.
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad.
Now don’t be sad.
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad.

Refusing to believe his words, she tried to express her dreams. How they’d live happily ever after, married, children, the yellow house with the white picket fence and lovely window boxes of gardenias all around. He’d snorted cynically, reminding her such goals were for people who’d led normal lives, who hadn’t been tainted by such evil, who weren’t still tending to the battle scars, both physical and emotional.

“Honestly, Hermione, you live in a fairy tale world. I would have expected something much more grounded from you, after all you’ve been through.” Her face heated up even now, hours after he’d said those horrible words. Was it such a fairy tale to believe she deserved to be loved? That she should find someone to share in her dreams? Why was it so impossible for him to believe?

You’ll never find your gold on a sandy beach.
You’ll never drill for oil on a city street.
I know you’re looking for a ruby in a mountain of rocks,
But there ain’t no Coupe de Ville
Hiding at the bottom of a Cracker Jack box.

He often made her feel like a child, those rare times he’d be moved enough to argue with her. She couldn’t win. Everything she held onto with desperate hands, he scoffed at. Her tears never moved him. Her silent tantrums never swayed him. This was not Harry or Ron she was dealing with, this was a man who knew his own mind, his own feelings. He would not become her pawn in any way. Was this what she resented the most? That she could not win him over as any woman should be able to affect her man with tears, recriminations, and depression?

I can’t lie.
I can’t tell you that I’m something that I’m not.
No matter how I try
I’ll never be able
To give you something, something that I just haven’t got.

She’d even tried to take the offensive, to get under his skin and force him to lash out at her. She’d anticipated his immediate remorse, but she’d dug too deep, and he hadn’t been annoyed with her; he’d been hurt. Agonizingly hurt. She’d forced him to face his inner pain on a level he probably never thought he’d have to experience again.

Well, there’s only one girl that I will ever love
And that was so many years ago.
And though I know I’ll never get her out of my heart
She never loved me back, ooh, I know.

Damn Lily all to hell! Hermione wished she still had her Time-Turner. She’d go back to the time before she’d seen the anguish in his eyes, back to the time before he bared his soul to her. The agony she witnessed was as her own as she watched the display of emotions skittering over his features, but once he’d opened the dam, he couldn’t stop. Feeling what he felt, she was forced to walk through his memory with him.

Well, I remember how she left me on a stormy night.
She kissed me and got out of our bed.
And though I pleaded and I begged her not to walk out that door,
She packed her bags and turned right away.

She’d begged him to stop. “Severus, please, no more. I’m sorry. I never should have said anything.” He was relentless, and she realized he could not stop if his life depended on it. What masochistic aberration was it in him that dragged him over those same emotional coals again? She’d pressed her hand against his mouth as a last ditch effort, but to no avail. He calmly pulled away from her and spoke on, each word another shard of glass in both their hearts.

She kept on telling me,
She kept on telling me,
She kept on telling me,
I want you.
I need you.
But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you.
Now don’t be sad.
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad.

She’d been unable to take any more of it. She’d fled the sitting room and ran in here, crying herself to exhaustion. He hadn’t come in to comfort her, and though she hadn’t expected it, it caused her tears to burn hotter, her sobs to wrack her more violently. She eventually wept herself to sleep, waking when he joined her in bed. She had reached out to him then, wrapping herself around him. He hadn’t pushed her away, but he hadn’t been all that encouraging, either.

Now she wiped the edge of the pillowcase over her eyes, the sun rising outside the window. She had a decision to make. It would rip her heart out to leave, but would it be better to leave now? While she was still young enough, theoretically, to find true love? To find someone better suited to her dreams of the future? Or would she forever regret walking away? Could he ever come to love her?

He treated her well. She wanted for nothing but love. And if he needed her, and she believed he did, and if he wanted her, and she had no reason to think otherwise, how could he be so sure it wasn’t love?

I want you.
I need you.
But there ain’t no way I’m ever gonna love you.
Now don’t be sad.
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad.
Now don’t be sad.
‘Cause two out of three ain’t bad.

She dragged herself out of bed, walked around to the other side of the room, peeking to see if he was still sleeping. His face was in shadow, so she continued on to the loo, stepping into the hot spray of the shower and soaking her head. She took her time lathering her hair, hoping he’d join her, but as the water began to cool, she rinsed off and shut off the shower. Toweling her hair to a frizzy dampness, she returned to the bedroom and began pulling on clean clothes.

Sitting on the edge of his side of the bed, she tenderly rubbed his arm and shoulder until he turned to acknowledge her presence.

“How did you sleep?” he asked.

“Fits and starts,” she replied honestly. “You?”

“I’ve had better nights. I’ve had worse as well, so no matter.”

“What are we going to do, Severus?”

“The decision is in your hands, Hermione. I’d be content to live the rest of my life with you. There is no doubt in my mind. You, on the other hand, have so much more to risk.”

She leaned to kiss him, then stood and gathered her papers and briefcase. Heading out to the sitting room so she could Floo to work, she was aware of his eyes following her down the hallway. She was no closer to any sort of decision than she’d been two hours ago.

Baby, we can talk all night
But that ain’t getting us nowhere.

Two Out of Three Ain't Bad by jessicadamien [Reviews - 9]

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