I remember it like it happened yesterday. The stars were hung in the sky perfectly that night, like silver bulbs on a Christmas tree. And he was there…and I was there. Alone, for once.
“Do you mind if I?” I began, pointing to the empty spot beside him on the bench. His face was filled with pain. There was so much on his mind. He had fled from the annual dance amid a flurry of insults from his former flame, and I, now set free by my ‘friendly’ date Neville followed shortly thereafter.
“I don’t think I’ll be very good company,” Harry said looking up at me. His eyes were tired, and he had long since abandoned the tie he had worn to the party. He had also abandoned his date, Cho Chang, who had immediately found salvation in the arms of a smug Ravenclaw, more than happy to pick up the pieces.
So I sat beside him, and took his hand in mine. I don’t know what made me do that. I had never done it before, nor had I planned to, but I wanted to show him that I was strong for him. I wanted him to know that he could count on me as a friend, and that I wanted to help. Mostly though, I think I wanted him to know that he wasn’t alone. That he would never be alone, no matter how many nightmares he had or how many panic attacks, or how many fights.
“So, would you like to explain to me what the fight was about?” I said softly. He nodded. “Cho and I just had a stupid fight. And I think I suddenly realized she’d be happier with someone else.”
His face got more somber then, hurtful. I could tell he was thinking about the other guy. “I guess I was right.” He looked around, as if just then realizing that we were alone.
“Where’s Neville?” he asked me. I shrugged, a sinister smirk on my face. “I managed to get him to dance with Hannah. I think they finally hit it off.”
Harry laughed and held my hand a little tighter. Then, after a few soft glances and smiles, we had this moment. It’s so hard to explain what that moment was like, but I remember the way his eyes looked at me like he had never seen me before and the way he reached out to touch my face, almost involuntarily.
“Thank you for always being there, Hermione,” he said leaning in to kiss me.
I expected a kiss on the cheek, or perhaps on the forehead, but when his lips hesitated directly over mine, I instinctively moved to close the gap between us. It was very chaste, but there was something about the kiss that made my heart race faster than any kiss I’d ever shared with anyone before. We broke apart slowly, and it was awkward for a minute. Harry dropped his gaze to his feet, and I pretended to look out at the sky again.
“You looked beautiful tonight,” he said, “I’m sure Neville about had a heart attack when you came downstairs.”
I laughed some, brushing the hair out of my eyes. “Neville stumbled around a little, but he recovered quickly.”
Harry laughed and took my hand again, and that’s when I suddenly became very conscious of every breath, every hair, and every movement we made. “I really wish I had asked you to the dance,” he said.
I’m sure that my face flushed, but thankfully it was dark outside that blissful April night. “I think your girlfriend might have gotten upset about that.”
“Cho is a lovely person, but she and I just weren’t very compatible. I think she thought I was more exciting.”
I tilted my head and smiled at him. “Then she’s foolish…and I feel sorry for her.”
And that’s when the stars began to spin, and the moon got a bit brighter, and whatever music rises up out of nowhere during those romantic Muggle films began to fill my ears because that’s when he kissed me again. And it was anything but chaste. He breathed me in, took my soul, took my heart, and took my sanity all in one magnificent act. We broke apart, and there was a spark. It was there. It had been there all along. When the realization hit me, it weakened my legs and my heart ached. Why hadn’t I seen it before? Why didn’t I ever really look at him? We kissed again. And yet again, each time more passionate, more desperate.
“Hermione…” he whispered, after another couple searching for a place to be alone interrupted us.
Suddenly, he stood, he led, and I followed…followed him down through the bushes and up the hill towards the castle. His hand was clenched tightly in mine and my head was spinning around like a carousel, as witches and wizards walked by us; gawking at the way he had his fingers laced through my own. But the images were all blurry to me. They were nothing but streaks of purple taffeta and blue dress robes as we hurried into the Gryffindor common room, into the stairwell…into his bedroom. Ron was still out with Pavarti, and the room was ours.
He kissed me again, and we laughed at the irony of our situation. We laughed between tears, between kisses, between sighs and caresses. When he let his hands fall to the small of my back, it felt so natural, like drinking water from a spring. He began to kiss my neck, moving across my throat.
They say that when you find the thing you’ve been searching for your whole life, you often fall into it like a trap door.
I reached for him, offering to him every part of me.
And we fell.