Finding Jane, Part II
By DeliverMeFromEve
    “You’re not in the picture,” Hermione said, staring at the latest issue of Magical Gardens.

    She didn’t quite know what was so important about it that she had to mention it like that
to Harry.  She always knew Harry showed up in these photo-shoots for Ginny, but she felt
surprised by his absence in this one nonetheless.  Maybe because she thought she had talked
him into doing it that day.

    So there was Ginny; so were their lovely dogs.  No Harry.

    Harry looked casually over at the magazine, as if he didn’t know already.  “Oh, yes, I’m
not on that one, this time.”

    “Yes, I can see that.  Is that a cat in the back?”

    Harry nodded.  “Indeed it is.  Lovely, isn’t she?  I saw her in a pet store and bought her
straightaway.  Ginny didn’t think it was a good idea, what with the dogs and all, but Patchet’s a
tough little beastie.  I think she clawed the head dog on the nose.  The rest of them have been
nice to her since.  Thought that earned the cat a place in the picture.”

    “I distinctly remember you saying you were going home for this photo-shoot.”

    “I did go home for the photo-shoot, and I did make it, but when the proofs came back,
Ginny thought I looked horribly unenthused.  The layout director agreed with her, so they took
me out.”

    “Took you out?”

    “Edited the photos.  See, if you look close enough, there’s actually a void just where
Patchet is.  That’s where I used to be.”

    Hermione looked closer and did indeed notice some sort of empty space.  “They can do
that with Wizarding photographs?”

    “Apparently. Looks rather nice without me, anyway.  Ginny looks perfectly fine by herself,
don’t you think?”

    Hermione set the magazine aside.  “Harry, I hate to pry, but is there something wrong?”

    “Wrong?”

    “Yes, wrong.”

    “With what?”

    “You know what.”

    “I don’t know what you mean.”

    Hermione shot him a penetrating look.  He stared right back, stubbornly.

    “You are the worst liar, Harry,” she said after a bit, pointing an accusing finger at him.
“You can’t ever hide things from me.”

    The stubborn jut of his jaw eased and he gave a rather resigned smile.  “No.  I can’t ever.  I
can only tell you that I’m not quite ready to talk about it, yet.”

    “You’re not ready for me to talk sense into you, you mean.”

    He laughed wanly.  “Well, right now, I’m not quite sure what’s sense and what isn’t, so
I’m  likely not to recognize it, anyway.”

    “Harry.”

    He shrugged.  “Will you be at your parents’ house tonight?”

    Hermione noted the quick change of subject but didn’t insist further.  “Yes. Mum said I
ought to be.  Not like I’ve got a full schedule...”

    He nodded.  “Maybe because I’ll be there.  I’m helping your dad rework your basement.”

    She grabbed his sleeve.  “Get out while you still can,” she whispered forebodingly.

    Harry laughed.  “Oh, stop making fun of your father.  I’m sure he’s not that bad.”

    She affected dreadful gravity.  “He’s gone through three contractors, Harry.
That basement’s never going to get done— not with the way he keeps switching things around.”

    “Oh, but I’ve got a wand.”

    “He’ll be worse for it, I promise you.”

    “We’ll see.  It ought to be fun, anyway.  I always liked your dad.”

    She smiled.  “Everyone likes my dad.  Even Ron loves him.  I think Ron loved him more
than he loved me...”

    It hadn’t come out as jokingly as she had hoped.

    Harry rubbed her arm soothingly.  “That’s not true...”

    Hermione shrugged.  “Doesn’t matter.  We’re divorced.  We were both lacking in love
somewhere.”

    There was a brief silence.

    “Have you spoken to him lately?” Harry asked.  It had been two months since the divorce.
The last time she saw Ron was a month ago, when the house got sold.  They hadn’t talked
much.  There was really hardly anything to say.  Their kids were in Hogwarts.  There was
nothing else to tie them together.

    She shook her head.  “Sent him brownies once.  Daddy liked the fishing bait Ron sent him,
so I owled the brownies...”

    Harry blinked.  “You baked him brownies?”

    “What?  Goodness, no.  They were from my mother.  She just didn’t know how to send
them to him, is all.”

    “Oh.  Did he owl back?”

    “Yes, he did.”

    “And what did he say?”

    “Well, how should I know?”

    “You didn’t read his owl?”

    “Well, why should I?  It was for mum.  I suppose he thanked her for the brownies.  
It’s only right.”

    Harry sighed then laughed.  “Well, of course.”

    She laughed, too, but more sadly.  “He’s not speaking to me.  Why should he?  I’m the one
who asked for the divorce, not that he didn’t think it was a good idea, but sometimes I feel...I
could’ve tried harder.  Ron tried everything.  He even bought those books— you know?
How to Save Your Marriage.

    “His luck finally ran out with the How To-Books, I suppose.”

    She sighed.  “Maybe he just read the wrong book, this time.”

    “Maybe.  You know, I actually thought you and Ron were quite perfect for one another.
Guess I read the wrong book, too.”

    Hermione didn’t know why, but she found that quite funny.  He seemed to think that was
funny, too, so they laughed together, not quite knowing why.

    “Why are we laughing?” Harry asked.

    She giggled.  “I don’t know...I suppose, I just like laughing with you.”

    “It’s a blast.”

    It took a while, but they finally settled down, grinning at one another across the coffee
table.

    “You know, we might have made a great couple,” Harry said all of a sudden.

    Hermione blinked. “What?”

    “Us. If we dated. We might have made a great couple.”

    She felt her cheeks grow warm, and she couldn’t believe Harry didn’t seem embarrassed
about it in the least.  “Nobody seemed to think so...”  Then she thought about her mother, and
how Rose’s Mr. Knightley-ing and Emma-ing
might have conjured images of her and Harry
being together...

    “Well, I can mention at least three people who were almost convinced we were together,”
Harry said.

    That surprised her.  “Oh?  Who are these three people?”

    “Well, there was Viktor, Molly, and Ron, himself.  Not to mention Rita Skeeter and half of
Wizarding England...”

    She knew about Molly, and even Rita Skeeter, but Viktor and Ron?  This was news to her.
“Really?  Ron?  And Viktor?  Why?”

    He shrugged.  “Well, apparently, Viktor said you talked about me excessively.  And Ron...
well, he just thought we were closer than friends.”

    Her brows knotted.  “Do I talk about you excessively?”

    “I don’t know.  Do you?”

    Did she?

    “I think we would’ve worked out,” Harry continued after a brief silence.  “I always
thought you were good for me, even if we never really went out.  And I almost always like your
company.”

    She sneered. “ Almost always?”

    He smirked.  “Well, a man’s got to be left alone sometimes, you know.”

    “That might have worked out.  Ron always thought I never took care of him enough.”

    “Funny.  I thought you always took care of me.”

    Hermione sniffed.  “Too bad you’re not my husband.”

    That seemed to amuse him vastly.  “Yeah.  Too bad.”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “The result of this distress was, that, with a
    much more voluntary, cheerful consent than his
    daughter had ever presumed to hope for at the
    moment, she was able to fix her wedding-day —
    and Mr. Elton was called on, within a month
    from the marriage of Mr. and Mrs. Robert Martin,
    to join the hands of Mr. Knightly and Miss
    Woodhouse.

    “The wedding was very much like other weddings,
    where the parties have no taste for finery or
    parade; and Mrs. Elton, from the particulars
    detailed by her husband, thought it all
    extremely shabby, and very inferior to her own.
    — “Very little white satin, very few lace veils;
    a most pitiful business! — Selina would stare
    when she heard of it.” — But, in spite of these
    deficiencies, the wishes, the hopes, the
    confidence, the predictions of the small band of
    true friends who witnessed the ceremony, were
    fully answered in the perfect happiness of the
    union.”

    Hermione turned the last page of Emma and set the book aside, stretching on her couch in
a rather ponderous state.  She was rather glad to note that her rereading of Emma had brought
with it the same fine flavors from so long ago, when she first read the book at 9.  She even dared
to think that she gained more reading it with a more experienced mind.  The years between 9
and 38 seemed to open her eyes to the nuances of every character in the book, and every  unsaid
word.  Or perhaps her mother’s fanciful substitution of characters in the book helped more  than
Hermione was willing to admit.

    She had read the book, inadvertently thinking of the parallels of Mr. Knightley and Emma
to her and Harry.  She had pondered the similarities of Ron to Harriet and even went so far as to
dub Robert Martin as Luna, from time to time.  In one of her most outrageous flights of fancy,
she equated Mr. Elton to Lavender and even guiltily assigned Mr. Churchill to Ginny.  She  had
indulged herself, assigning people of her acquaintance to this elegantly crafted tale of
mismatched lovers, well-examined letters, and revelations of life.

    She found, however, that she could not seem to figure out who Jane Fairfax ought to be.
Odd as it was, no one seemed to fit Jane’s description.

    Naturally, Hermione didn’t lose sleep over it.  It was only fiction, literary classic though
Emma may be.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Harry emerged from the back door, stretching his arms far above his head.

    Hermione laughed from the swing seat. Two months to the day Harry agreed to help her
father with the basement and they still weren’t done.  “I warned you.”

    He looked at her questioningly, mid-stretch, then laughed, joining her on the seat.  He
sighed contentedly, leaning his head back and draping his arms along the back of the seat.  He
looked exhausted, but he was grinning.  “Oh, it’s not so bad.  Rather enjoy helping him out,
actually.”

    She noticed.  She had, in fact, wondered if he wasn’t finding this routine too comfortable.
Not that she minded too much.  It was nice to see Harry on a more regular basis.  He certainly
livened up the Granger table, able to engage in serious conversation with her mother and make
silly jokes with her father.  Harry brought a good balance with Hermione, too, making her  
laugh whenever she got stubborn and bossy.

    Still, she felt a bit guilty — like she was hogging his time from where he ought to be, or at
least where her logic thought he ought to be.  She felt an obligation to ask, and she had put off
the conversation long enough.  “I’d imagine Ginny must be wondering what sort of treasures
you were finding in Alfred Granger’s basement that it would keep you from her most nights.”

    His eyes snapped fiercely in her direction before he looked guiltily away. “She
understands.  She has her friends over most nights, anyway.  I’ll only get in the way.”

    “You’re right.  Three kitchens, four living rooms, three dining rooms, two recreation
rooms, and twelve bedrooms.  You’re in dire danger of knocking heads.”

    He sneered.  “Stop funning.”

    “Oh, believe me, I’m not funning.”

    He sighed, rubbing his face with his hands.  “You and your mother...”

    “Ready to get sense talked into you?”

    “You don’t want me to be here?”

    She frowned. “ That is completely unfair, Harry.  Of course I like it when you’re here, but
shouldn’t you be...I don’t know, with your wife?”

    “Like I said.  She has her friends.”

    Hermione pursed her lips, tempted to end the discussion, but her conscience, for some
reason, nagged her.  “When did her friends start coming to your house?”

    “What do you mean when?  Her friends always came to the house.”

    “I meant routinely.  More often than they used to.”

    He slunk down on the seat.  “Month and a half ago,” he muttered.

    “Excellent, so has it ever occurred to you that your wife has her friends over because she’s
lonely— because her husband hasn’t been there—“

    Harry groaned.  “Look, I don’t have to be there for her every single minute!  It wouldn’t
kill her to have some time away from me.”

    Hermione frowned, but she turned away as well, a flush rising in her cheeks.  “I’m sorry I
brought it up.  I’m sticking my nose into something that’s none of my busi—“

    “It’s not—“ He stopped and gave another frustrated sigh.  “I’m an awful husband.  Why
don’t you just go ahead and say it?”

    She stared at him in surprise.  It took a moment, but her expression softened.  “I don’t
think you’re an awful husband, Harry.  I don’t know anything about it, so I’ve no right to judge
you like that.”

    He massaged his forehead briefly, lost in his thoughts.  “I miss my kids.  I miss having
them in the house.  I miss having— I miss having her attending to them instead of just me.  
Everything has to be about me; my decision.  Every flowerpot and every tile has to go by  my
opinion.  She agrees with every single thing I say— even when she disagrees, it’s like  she’s
agreeing.

    "When she decides things by herself, it’s because she knows I’d like it.  She’s exceedingly
good at knowing what I like, by the way.  And still she manages— there’s this huge portrait of
me sitting on the fireplace.  Lord, I hate it.  I just
hate it.  She doesn’t get it— God!”  He paused,
taking a deep breath.  He went on more calmly.  “So I think this is good; that she has friends
over.  Maybe she’d think about other things, for once.  I’m so tired of her—
hovering around
me...”

    Hermione’s brows knotted and she stared at Harry like she didn’t know him, yet she did.
Even with him ranting this way, she understood where he was coming from, even if she didn’t  
quite know what to feel about him.  “Harry, I— that was the unkindest thing I’ve ever heard you
say...”

    The effect was instantaneous.  He turned horribly red then he looked horribly guilty.

    She hastily continued.  “Unkind, but...it’s a real issue. Have you spoken to Ginny about it?”

    He swallowed and Hermione could see his hands shaking a bit. “Yes.  Each time, I hurt
her worse with the things I say.  God, it’s not her fault, Hermione.  None of it is.  And really,  
what has she done wrong?  My kids and I...we’re everything to her.  We’re all that she lives for,
but— I once thought she—“

    He paused, trying to find the words.  “She had so many other plans back then.  She wanted
a career and she had so much ambition.  I used to admire her for wanting it all, but then...
it’s like
I became her career, and I thought I’d like that at first, but good Lord...”

    “Harry, how long have you felt this way?” Hermione asked, almost disbelieving, even if
she knew, deep down, that it made some kind of sense.  As appreciative of love Harry was, he
was essentially an independent soul.  He loved those he loved, and he relied on those he
trusted, but ultimately, his independence was ingrained in him.  Too many years in the
cupboard, perhaps.  Too many years fending for himself...

    “The kids helped a lot,” he said, as if in reply to her question.  “They really did, but now
that they’re all off to Hogwarts...”

All this time...

    “Oh, Harry...” she whispered.  “That’s terrible.  Why did you...oh, Harry...”

    “It was no party for her, either,” he continued miserably.  “I’ve been a complete jerk most
times.”

    “But you never fight!  Ginny never said you did, did you?”

    “They weren’t yelling fights,” Harry said quietly.  “We never yell, just...long,
uncomfortable...pregnant silences.  We know the words.  Hurts without saying them.”

    “And the kids don’t know?”

    “They think everything’s perfect.  Ginny sort of made a point of it...”

    Hermione sighed. “And is this why she wants another child?  Work things out with you,
maybe.”

    “Probably.”

    “It would be a mistake.”

    “I know.  But it’s not easy, is it?  Getting a divorce.”

    She frowned.  “Divorce isn’t always the answer.  I meant working it out between you and
her without a child playing referee...”

    A bitter laugh escaped him.  “If we knew how without a sprog, don’t you think we
would’ve figured that out by now?”

Nineteen years...

    Hermione felt a deep sadness for her best friend.  She saw all those years of affection
wasted on broken hopes and promises.  She knew his capacity to love.  She mourned that it
hadn’t had a proper outlet.  If it hadn’t been for the children, Harry might have lamented  those
nineteen years even more.

    She laid her head on his shoulder, offering what little comfort she could.  His arm on her
shoulders felt heavy, but he didn’t let go.

    The stars overhead shone brightly through the clear spring sky and they both looked up,
as if searching for answers amidst the constellations.

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    “I figured out who Jane Fairfax is,” Hermione told her mother as she helped Rose roll balls
of cookie dough.  The calendar on the kitchen wall was unmarked, yet Hermione could’ve
burned a hole through the 21st of April.

    Rose looked over her shoulder.  “Is the answer on the calendar?”

    Hermione smirked.  “No, but the date gave me an inkling.  Today’s the day Harry and
Ginny will see their divorce lawyer.”

    Rose didn’t seem quite so surprised.  “That ought to make your father happy — means
Harry will spend more time here.”

    Hermione paused at that, mildly surprised that her mother had taken news of Harry’s
divorce in stride. Then again, this was her mother...

    “I thought you liked Harry, mum.”

    “I adore the man.  Just that with him around, your father will never finish the basement.”

    “Well, I think they both like not finishing it.  They could be doing worse things.”

    Rose shot her a look.  “Like what?  Have wild parties and piss the night away snorting
cocaine?  Harry’s approaching middle-age and your father’s ancient.  I don’t think those two are
up to partying like Rockstars at their age, even if you Portkeyed them straight to a nightclub
dance floor with scantily clad women.”

    Hermione threw her head back and laughed.  “Mother!”

    “It’s true!”

    “Oh mum...well, Harry’s not that old.  He’s a wizard.  He doesn’t age quite like a Muggle.
At 37, he’s more like in his late 20s by Muggle standards.  Harry’s still got plenty left in him.”

    Rose’s eyebrow arched.  “Oh, does he?  Well, that’s a bit more than I’d care to know...”

    “What— mum!”  She didn’t know why she was so mortified by it.

    “I didn’t mean anything by it.  And what was it you were saying?  About Jane Fairfax?”

    Hermione welcomed the slight change in subject.  “I’ve been trying to figure out who she
is. You said I’m Mr. Knightley, Harry’s Emma, and Ron’s Harriet.  I started thinking up
substitutions for the other characters, too.  Gave me quite an interesting perspective.  Couldn’t
put a name to Jane Fairfax, though.  Stumped me for a bit, I’ll admit.”

    “But now you know.”

    “Yes.  Jane Fairfax is Harry.”

    “Well, Harry can’t be both Emma and Jane.  They’re two completely different characters.”

    “That’s just it, see.  There’s Harry, and there’s what everyone thinks of him.  Jane was
always the more perfect, more enigmatic version of Emma, but we know from Emma’s  point-of-
view that she’s the more realistic version of Jane, whether she likes to admit it or not.  Everyone
still loves Emma, but Jane’s allure is irresistible to everyone else, still.  Don’t you think Harry’s
like that?  There’s that Jane in him, that everyone sees and admires, and then there’s Emma, his  
true self, and the one Mr. Knightley knows in all her flaws and foibles.  Besides, since I assigned
Mr. Churchill to Ginny, it only makes more sense.  Mr. Churchill is in love with Jane.  He
pretended to be in love with Emma, when all this time it’s Jane he’s in love with.  Don’t you  
think it fits in view of the circumstances?”

    “Oh, but Mr. Churchill gets to keep Jane,” Rose pointed out.

    Hermione shrugged.  “This is real life, mum.  Harry can be split in fiction, but not in real
life.  Besides, perhaps Ginny gets to keep her Jane Fairfax through the divorce.  She no longer
has to keep being disillusioned by the real Harry and Harry doesn’t have to worry about
constantly being Jane.”

    “Huh.  That actually makes sense.  Looks like you learned something after all, dear.  You
have finally impressed me.”

    Hermione was mildly surprised.  “You mean it?”

    “Of course, dear.”

    “But— back then, when I was 9, you weren’t happy with my analysis of the book!”

    “I wasn’t.”

    “How could you have known back then that this would be the right answer?  Or that I
would ever come to figure it out?  I didn’t even know Harry and Ron and Ginny—“

    “Well, there’s no right or wrong answer, sweetheart.  I was just disappointed at the time
that you didn’t actually read the book!”

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    Hermione flipped the book in her hand as she sat with Harry on the back porch of her
townhouse.  She had a swing-seat there, too, and they both had one foot up on the wicker table
in front of them.

    Harry was still in his business robes and he was smoothing down his tie, idly.  “We got
quite a way through with the divorce proceedings,” he said.

    She patted his arm.  She knew how harrowing it could be.

    “I didn’t expect to feel sad.”

    She nodded, knowing what he meant.  “It comes when you least expect it.  You realize that
you’re legally separating yourself from the person you spent the last twenty years with.  
If you’re the least bit human, twenty years will mean something.”

    He seemed to understand.  “Have you talked to Ron, lately?”

    “As a matter of fact, I have.  Rose had a Quidditch game and we were sort of forced to be
civil with one another, but it turns out we missed being friends.  It turned civil to friendly rather
quickly.”

    “That’s good, because now he’s not speaking to me.”

    “Sorry.”

    “It’s alright.  I understand.  I’m divorcing his baby sister.”

    “Do you want me to talk to him about it?”

    Harry waved the offer away.  “Don’t.  You and Ron have your own thing to work out.  I’m
a big boy and I can fix things with Ron by myself.”

    They descended into a comfortable silence, rocking gently on the seat.  She leaned back on
the seat and felt his arm on her shoulders.  She relaxed even more.

    “Are you hungry?” Hermione asked several minutes later.  “I think I can fix you
something inside.”

    “I can’t.  Your mother made me promise to save my appetite for dinner tonight.”

    She sneered.  “Does she make you wash your hands before eating, too?  Tell you to brush
your teeth before going to bed, maybe?”

    He chuckled.  “Hey, her house, her rules.”

    “Honestly.  And she called you middle-aged.  You’d think she would treat you like a
middle-aged man instead of a middle-school boy.”

    “She called me middle-aged?  Oy, I’ve still got a lot in me, you know.”

    “That’s what I told her!”

    “Oh, did you?”

    She blushed.  She didn’t know why, but she did.  “Anyway, just don’t let them sucker you
into getting too comfortable at their house.”

    He grinned.  “You don’t want me there?”

    She rolled her eyes.  “It’s not that!  Just that a grown man ought to have his own place, is
all.  Stop teasing!”

    “I can’t help it.  You’re so easy to bait.”

    “Am I?”

    He nodded, still smiling.

    It was perhaps around that time she realized that his fingers were playing with her hair.  It
was slightly distracting, but it felt quite nice.

    She smiled and leaned her head on his shoulder.

    He looked at the book in her hand.  “That Emma?”

    “Yes...thought maybe you’d like something to read.  I know you’re not a big fan of—“

    “Sure, I’ll read it.  It’s one of your favorites, innit?”

    She smiled.  “Yes.  It’s light, and amusing.  Something to calm your frayed nerves.  There
are going to be a lot of those from hereon...”

    He understood and he smiled appreciatively.  He gave the book another quick
examination.  “Hermione Jane Granger.  You’re never going to change that, are you?”

    She paused. “I did, actually.  It was already Jean just right before I brought it out here with
me.”

    “But you changed it back to Jane?”

    She shrugged.  “Yes.  It was Jane for 38 years and...”  She looked up, her gaze meeting his.
She smiled broadly.  “I finally get it.”

    He looked at her quizzically for a brief moment before he chuckled with a shake of his
head.  “Well then, Hermione Jane, thanks for the book, and for thinking of me, and for...honestly,
everything.  I don’t know what I’d do without you.”

    “Well, I’m not going anywhere, so you’ll just have to figure out how to put up with me.”

    He kissed her forehead and they leaned back on the seat together.

    After several minutes of comfortable silence, Hermione spoke.  “You’ll be late for dinner
    at mum’s.”

    “Oh,” he replied.  “I think she wouldn’t mind if I was a bit late.”

    Somehow, Hermione didn’t think her mother would mind, either.
The End
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