Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger walked back to the Gryffindor common room chatting excitedly. It was Wednesday and the last Quidditch game of the season between Slytherin and Gryffindor was to be that Friday. As with all of the Hogwarts students, they couldn’t wait. The whole school was abuzz.
It was the three friends sixth year at Hogwarts and they knew that recruiters for Britain’s major league Quidditch team, the Knights, would be there to watch this particular game. All four Hogwarts houses had fought for this moment, and it had come down to Gryffindor and Slytherin.
Harry was still seeker, having started at eleven years of age in his first year at Hogwarts. Since he had six years of the game under his belt he had become quite good, and Ron and Hermione were excited beyond words at his prospects.
“Harry, just remember to keep your eyes on the snitch as soon as it’s released,” Ron said as they reached the portrait of the fat lady. She was fast asleep and snoring loudly, for it was a quarter of eleven, and the three were supposed to be in quarters by now. “And for your sake keep a watch out for that slimy git Malfoy!”
“He’ll be after you Harry…lemondrop,” finished Hermione in the same breath to the fat lady. Rather than wake up to open her portrait to them, she simply snorted in deep sleep and turned the other way. Hermione frowned. “You know he won’t be able to stand it if the recruiters look at you for their new seeker rather than he…lemondrop!” she repeated rather loudly in annoyance.
The fat lady opened one bloodshot eye and frowned.
“A little late aren’t you?” she chided and then yawned. “Enter.” The portrait swung open and the three stepped inside. The common room was deserted; everyone having common sense had gone up to bed.
“I’ll be careful.” Harry replied to his friends, “Wood has been pushing us hard, so I’m in better shape than I’ve been before. I don’t care what Malfoy does so long as he doesn’t get in my way… Maybe I’ll direct a bludger or two his way… by accident of course.” Harry grinned down at Hermione and her heart flip-flopped the silly way it had been for the past couple of years. Something had changed for her in the way she looked at Harry and it almost scared her. Did he feel the same things?
No he couldn’t, she thought to herself, I’m just Hermione, just one of the triangle. How could he look at me any other way? But she had caught Harry staring at her a few times. As soon as she had seen him, he had turned slightly pink and looked away.
All three of them had changed so much since their first meeting that day on the Hogwarts Express. Both Harry and Ron now towered over her, both being a good six inches taller than she. Ron had grown out of the side-kick mold, not just considered the famous Harry Potter’s friend. He had come into his own and made a name for himself, most likely due to all of the adventures he had gone on with Harry and herself and having been an integral part on his own at helping to bring down Voldemort’s plots so many times. He himself was now admired by many apart from Harry. He would never quite be the shining star that Harry was, but much to his credit he wasn’t jealous of that fact. Hermione admired Ron for that. He was a beloved friend. But why had Harry become something more for her? And what exactly was she feeling?
She studied Harry as he and Ron sat in front of the fire and discussed Quidditch strategies. Not only had he grown taller, but broader. He was no longer the boy-who-lived, but the young man.
As he leaned forward on his knees listening to Ron, Hermione noticed the rippling in his shirt from his distinct chest and arm muscles. She supposed it was a combination of Quidditch and growing older. He still wore the wire rimmed glasses on his smooth face, and his hair was still a shock of dark brown and ever untamable. And his eyes…Hermione could never get past those. They were a brilliant, piercing green, not usual. When Harry looked at her with those eyes, she felt like he could see down into her very soul. At times it was almost disconcerting as she felt he could surely see what she was thinking.
Quickly she cut off her train of thought. He’s a friend, she told herself, only a friend. One of my two best friends, and that’s the way it is. That’s the way it had to be.
“‘Mione, did you hear me?” asked Ron.
“What?” asked Hermione, startled.
“I’ve only asked you the same question three times,” said an exasperated Ron, “You just kept staring into the fire.”
Harry fixed her with a crooked smile. “Where were you?”
“S… Sorry, I,” Hermione stammered, “I wasn’t listening…”
“Guess not!” said Ron with a smirk. “I asked you if you finished your assignment in divination.”
“Yes I finished it; not that it’s done me much good. I swear I stared at that crystal ball for an hour and all I saw was haze. Maybe I can tell Trelawny that a little triangle popped up that said ‘outcome unclear’.”
“That’s too bad,” sighed Ron, “I was hoping you could help me with mine.”
“Ron, no one can help you with Divination,” said Harry, “It’s your crystal. No one will see your future but you.”
“Really? Ok then Master of the Unknown, tell me what does your future hold?” asked Ron tightly.
Harry snorted rather derisively. “I never said I was good at it either. The only ones in class who ever seem to see anything are Lavender and Parvarti. But I think they make half of it up to impress Trelawny.”
“Of course they do,” sniffed Hermione, “The first time they saw something they became teachers pet. They want to stay that way, don’t they?”
Hermione had had a problem with Lavender and Parvarti ever since last year, when they both began to notice boys, in particular Harry. Ron knew this but wisely decided to keep his thoughts to himself.
“Hmph… well I’m off. Better get enough sleep before the Herbology exam tomorrow. Professor Sprout said it was quite a large one… Coming Harry?”
“In a bit,” he replied,” I just have a few things I want to look up here.” Harry held up a copy of Quidditch Throughout The Years.”
“Suit yourself,” shrugged Ron as he bounded up the stairs.
That left Harry and Hermione alone. Hermione bit her lip nervously, and stood. “Well I best be off too,” she said turning towards the steps for the girls dorms.
“‘Mione wait,” called Harry.
Hermione turned back and glanced at Harry a little nervously.
“I didn’t really want to read anything,” explained Harry a little sheepishly, “I just wanted to talk to you alone.”
“Umm.. it’s rather late Harry,” began Hermione. With Ron there, there was a buffer to her feelings. But now that he had gone up to bed, she was afraid to be alone with Harry, lest he see something he shouldn’t.
“Wait please.” Harry grabbed her hand.
Hermione felt an electric shock that went straight through her at his touch. As she looked down at Harry, she saw an odd look cross his face. What was that about?
Harry pulled her down on the couch next to him and slowly released her hand.
“What is it?” began Hermione quietly.
Harry looked up at her. The fire light danced on her delicate features and spun the highlights in her light brown hair into gold. Her large chocolate eyes bored into his so that Harry found it hard to breathe. He felt confusion set in the same as it had been for a while now. He blinked hard, trying to clear his head.
“Um… I wanted to talk to you about…” Harry hesitated, trying to find the right words. “Are you all right? I mean…lately I feel like you’ve been avoiding me.”
Hermione looked startled. “Avoiding you!? Why on earth would I do that? You’re my best friend, Harry.”
“Well it seems like maybe it started at the ball last month.” Harry knit his brows together as he thought back. “Remember? After we danced.”
Hermione remembered well. After she and Harry had danced, she had danced with Ron. It had been such a different feeling. With Ron, she was more relaxed…just a friend with a friend. But when she had danced with Harry, as they held hands and moved on the floor together, she had felt like her head was swimming. She had looked up once to see Harry staring at her intensely, but as soon as he noticed, his expression turned innocent again, and he had smirked and twirled her. Just Harry. But had he really been looking at her that way or was it all an illusion?
After dancing with Harry and Ron, Hermione had danced with several others, including Seamus, Dean, and Neville, and Harry had danced with several others, including Alicia, Parvarti, and Lavender, who was obviously smitten with him. She remembered seeing those two in particular and feeling an intense pang of jealousy that she had quickly shoved away. Again she had no right to feel that way… it was just Harry. That’s when she supposed that she had made an unconscious effort from then on to keep it light between them.
“‘Mione, you still here? Still with me?” smiled Harry, “You left me again.”
No, I’d never leave you, not if I knew you wanted me to stay… “Sorry Harry, I was just thinking back… I promise you I haven’t been avoiding you, at least not intentionally. Aren’t you, Ron and I always together?”
Harry looked thoughtful. “Yeah, but only when Ron’s around.”
He paused for a moment thinking about what he had just said and whether or not it was appropriate. “Do… do you…” and there Harry stopped, looking a little embarrassed and ran a hand through his mussed hair.
“What? Harry you know you can ask me anything.”
Harry sighed and hesitated for a moment. “Do you have something going on with Ron?”
Hermione laughed out loud and then checked herself. No sense in waking all of Gryffindor. “With Ron?” she laughed softly, “No Harry, of course not! What would make you think something like that?”
Again, Harry raked a hand through his hair… one of his more endearing traits… Check that Hermione! He’s just Harry… Just a friend…
“Well… Well I just thought since you didn’t seem to want to be with me alone… maybe you thought Ron wouldn’t like it,” finished Harry sheepishly.
“Oh Harry, honestly!” laughed Hermione, “I love Ron to death but only as a dear friend.”
Harry leaned forward on his knees and stared into the fire, his expression somber.
Hermione’s smile faded as well as she studied Harry. He was obviously deep in thought about something that he was having a hard time expressing. She waited patiently. Finally…
“How about me…” Harry asked quietly.
Immediately Hermione’s heart flipped. It was beating so hard she thought surely that he could hear it. Oh Harry, you’re everything to me… You’re so much more than just my best friend… Every morning my first thoughts are about you… whenever I need someone to talk to I come to you… I worry about you because of Voldemort, but I think of your bravery. I think of how many times you’ve saved mine and Ron’s life. I think of how it killed me to see you dancing with Lavender… or any other girl for that matter. I wonder how it would be if you and I were…
“Do you mean because you think I’ve been avoiding you? Oh Harry…it’s just…it’s something I’m working out for myself, that’s all. You’re still my very best friend.”
Hermione took his hand before she thought about what she was doing, and Harry held her hand tighter, turning away from the fire towards her. His expressive green eyes bored into hers with an intensity that took her breath away.
Harry don’t look at me like that… I’ll lose my resolve…
Again, he seemed like he wanted to say something but was having a hard time getting it out. They stared at each other for what seemed like forever, so close in the dark, warm room, lit only by the fire in the hearth.
Harry was mesmerized. Hermione had changed so much. She wasn’t a girl anymore… she was a young woman, and a beautiful one at that. Her curly rich hair fell to almost the middle of her back, and her soft delicate features and large chocolate eyes were made even more beautiful in the firelight.
He also knew that he hadn’t been the only one to notice the changes. He knew several boys in Gryffindor and a few in Ravenclaw who had had their eyes on her since fourth year… and those were just the ones that he knew about.
He thought about all the times she pored over books; how she bit her lip in concentration, and constantly pushed her hair behind her ears…how her smile seemed to light up a room; how he searched for her in every crowd. How had things changed so completely, so fast? What did it mean for him… for them?
Hermione studied Harry’s face. She knew every feature. The brilliant emerald green eyes under the absurdly long lashes; how he constantly had to shake his hair out of his eyes; his broad shoulders; the way he felt when they had danced; the times they had hugged as friends; a million different expressions of his; the dangerous look on his face, wand in hand as he fought Voldemort or one of the dark lord’s followers. Whatever was happening here was about to be revealed. Hermione couldn’t be more terrified or excited at the same time.
“‘Mione…” Harry whispered. He was only a hands breadth away.
Hermione felt herself shiver as he breathed her name. When she spoke it was more of a statement than a question. “What do you want Harry…”
He hesitated, his eyes taking in every feature of her face.
“I’m not sure…” he drew closer, “But I know you’re not just my best friend.”
Hermione closed her eyes. She thought her heart would burst. He felt the same way. She almost panicked with the thought that it was true. When she opened her eyes again, Harry was so close that she could feel the warmth of his body and his breath on her face.
They stayed that way for what seemed like hours.
Once again Hermione asked the same question. “What do you want…”
Harry’s lips parted and he simply shook his head. Words wouldn’t do. Placing his hands on either side of her face, he drew her in and gave her a soft sweet kiss.
Hermione put her arms around his neck and drew him closer. She felt like she had been waiting for this forever. She could smell the soap he used, the smell of his hair, his clothes.
Harry’s kiss deepened. He put his arms around her waist and crushed her to him. His senses were heightened. He no longer knew where he was, only that he was kissing Hermione. There was nothing before or after.
Their kissing became more passionate and they laid back on the couch. Hermione pressed her body against Harry’s reveling his strength. She felt him respond and their kissing became almost desperate. Harry began kissing her cheek, her neck; his hands were hot on her skin, under her shirt, on her belly…
Both stopped for a moment, breathing hard; hearts racing. Hermione’s hands were tangled in Harry’s hair. Neither realized how fiercely passionate they had become in such a short time until it was almost too late.
“We need to..”
“Stop. I know…” finished Harry breathlessly, ” I don’t want too though.”
” Me neither,” said Hermione, equally as breathless, “Which means that we definitely need to.”
As her lips were still stinging and warm from Harry’s kiss; Hermione realized that for the first time, she really wished she were one of those people who threw caution to the wind. But she didn’t trust herself or Harry for the moment to use their brains.
She looked at Harry and he looked at her. Both smiled. What had happened there tonight was for the moment, for them only to know about. Neither felt any need for words or deep discussion about what was going on and what it meant; both were now equally aware that the other had felt the same thing for a long time. It needed no definition or title. They had both simply crossed the invisible line that they had dared not cross before. They knew it was the start of something completely new. Both stood reluctantly.
“G’night Harry,” said Hermione quietly, walking towards the girls stairs.
Harry hung his head and grinned. “G’night ‘Mione.”
He shoved his hands in his pockets and headed towards the boy’s stairs when Hermione called out to him once more and turned. “Harry…I…I want you to know that…” she stumbled over the words and could get no further.
“I know. I have too…For a long time.” Harry finished for her. Nothing else needed to be said at the moment.
Hermione smiled and headed upstairs. “G’night Harry.”
As Hermione laid in her bed, sleep wouldn’t come. All she could do was think of Harry; his kiss, his touch, the way his hands felt. She felt herself shudder with excitement. She could hardly believe what had happened, or for that matter, how she had responded to his touch.
Had they really just kissed? Had they really just confessed their feelings to each other? It was almost easier to believe that she’d imagined it all. As she closed her eyes and willed sleep to come, the last thing she remembered before drifting off was Harry’s beautiful face.
Harry tossed in his bed. His eyes made out the blurry form of Ron in the bed beside his, who had apparently fallen asleep before pulling the curtains around his bed shut. He was snoring soundly, oblivious to Harry’s tossing.
Harry frowned. How would this affect their friendship? He didn’t even know how to begin to tell him. Ron had at one time had feelings for Hermione, but had come to realize that it wasn’t what he thought… besides the fact that she didn’t share them; much to Harry’s relief.
He thought back to that time only last year. At the time, he had chalked up his jealousy and the relief he later felt to being worried that the threesome’s tight friendship would suffer. Now, he thought rather stupidly of himself, he realized that it was more all along.
He thought of Hermione so close; only a hallway away. He remembered the smell of her hair and the feel of her lips on his and knew beyond a doubt that it was much more than friendship that he felt.
Harry’s heart sunk as he realized another hard fact: Voldemort.
If he were ever to somehow find out about his and Hermione’s relationship, it could be detrimental. Harry was well protected at Hogwarts and at the Dursley’s, and as a result, both Ron and Hermione, being associated with him were equally as protected, at least at Hogwarts. But off of school grounds? At least Ron’s family was magical. But both Hermione’s mother and father were Muggle. On school grounds, at least, the three were almost constantly together, so Harry didn’t feel a particular threat there…not to deny that certain events had happened at Hogwarts before. But still…Harry couldn’t be as cool headed when it came to someone he loved. Voldemort would know that.
Quickly Harry checked himself. He loved? That thought had come as quickly and easily to him as if it had always been. It was hard for him to use that word, much less think it as he had never really felt it before, at least when he was old enough to remember. The Dursley’s had never given him a reason to love them, and they certainly didn’t love him. He was a burden and an embarrassment; someone to be hidden away when company was over, and simply ostracized when it was only the family.
Family…Harry thought. Ron, Hermione, and his godfather, Sirius were the only family he had ever really known. And as Sirius was constantly in hiding from the Ministry, Harry hardly ever saw him. Why had his mother and father had to die when he was so young?
Harry sighed and rolling over in his bed, he reached under it to pull out the family album that Hagrid had given him as a gift in his first year. Opening to the first page, he watched as his mother and father held him, picking up his small arm and waving it for the camera.
Harry closed his eyes and laid the album on his chest, hugging it to himself. What he would give to have his parents back again…for just one day to feel the love of a real family. To introduce them to Ron…and to Hermione.
Harry’s hand slipped off of the album and fell to his side. Sleep had finally claimed him.