I didn’t want to fall in love with my best friend.
I don’t know when it happened, I really don’t. Just sometime today, it had to be after dinner, because when we were eating I didn’t feel anything. No, it definitely had to be after we got to the library. So that means sometime between half past seven and now, I fell in love with my best friend.
Why you ask? I have no clue. Hermione’s sitting in front of me right now, across the table, studying. That’s what I’m supposed to be doing as well, but I can’t concentrate. I suppose that happens when you fall in love.
Ron’s fallen in love so many times now. He told me about his first crush, which was believe it or not, Lavender Brown. Everyone, including me, thought Hermione was his first crush. They went out in our fifth year, for exactly two days, you know. He asked her out on a Friday, they went to Hogsmeade that Saturday, and that evening broke up.
Why did he even bother, I wonder sometimes. It was so obvious they weren’t meant to be. They bicker constantly, and while some people may mistake that for attraction, that certainly isn’t the case for my two best friends.
That could be why I don’t feel guilty about how I feel about her now. Scared, sure, but not guilty. Ron has since moved on, plenty of times, but Hermione has stayed single since then.
I’m still curious as to when these feelings came on. I mean, one second I felt fine, then I happened to look up. She was reaching up with one of her slim hands to push a lock of her curly chestnut hair away from her face. It fell back almost immediately, and I let out a snigger as she impatiently brushed it away again.
“What are you laughing at, Harry?” she had asked me, frowning.
I grinned at her for a moment, then in a move I’d have never thought I’d make, reached across the table and brushed it away for her. Our eyes met and—
It hit me like a ton of bricks, I never understood that Muggle saying until now, but that’s exactly what it felt like. I sat back down and buried my face in my History of Magic book. I was terrified at what I was feeling. Believe it or not, at that moment, I was more scared than I was facing Voldemort.
The thought that inundated my mind most was ‘What if she doesn’t like me back?’ Could I handle it if I told her that I had fallen in love with her, and then she said “No I’m sorry Harry, but I almost lost one best friend when I dated him, I don’t want that happening again.”
No I couldn’t handle that at all. I loved her. I had to tell her.
“Hermione?” I finally managed to say. This was after I sat staring at her over the top of my book for another half hour.
“Yes Harry?” she asked, barely raising her eyes from the parchment she was scribbling on.
“I um…” I began to stutter, which wasn’t good. I should just say it and get it over with. Yes, that’s good. “Um…”
Hermione began to look impatient with me. That wasn’t a good sign.
“I um…well can you quiz me on this?” I held out the History of Magic book to her.
Damn me. I lost my nerve.
“Sure.” She took the book, and our hands brushed. I nearly gasped aloud; her touch seemed to electrify my whole being. Somehow, I managed to answer every question Hermione fired at me. I could tell by her wide smile that she was proud.
“See Harry?” she said happily, closing my book and handing it back. “You’ll do just fine on the History OWL.”
“Well I’m sure that’s because I have the next best thing to a professor sitting right in front of me.” I replied, grinning back at her. For some reason beyond me, this seemed to fluster her.
“Library closes in ten minutes.” Madam Pince said as she swept by the table. I took a look around and noticed that Hermione and I were the only ones left.
“I suppose we should go.” Hermione said reluctantly.
“I don’t know, I bet if you asked, Madam Pince would let you sleep in here.” I teased. I was astonished at my easygoing attitude. Perhaps it was because I felt at ease around her, even in love with her, I could be myself. I don’t have to be Famous Harry Potter around her.
She smirked at me as she marked all her books neatly, and then stacked them into her bag. It made me smile; her bag still bulged with as many books as possible.
Swinging it back over her shoulder as we left the library, I was amused to see her stagger slightly under it’s weight.
“Here.” I said. “I’ll carry that for you.”
“No, it’s fine, I can handle it.” She replied. Always the independent one. Hermione would never, not in a million years, admit that she couldn’t handle something.
“I know you can.” I assured her. “But let me take it anyway.” I slid my hand up the strap and gently pulled it off her shoulder.
“All right. Thanks Harry.” She smiled at me as I slung the bag over my own shoulder and we began walking back to the Gryffindor Common Room.
As we slipped back into silence, my thoughts began to rush through my head again. I’d come to the conclusion that I loved her, and I knew I had to find a way to tell her.
‘Hermione, I love you.’ I began to practice in my mind. ‘I’m going to tell her before we get past Flitwick’s classroom.’ I told myself. ‘All right, as soon as we pass the statue of Boris…’
I kept trying to force myself to say something to her but every time I opened my mouth to say ‘I love you, Hermione’ my voice simply refused to work.
So we trod on, still in silence. I think we were both lost in thought.
All of a sudden, however, I felt a pressure in my hand. I looked down, and I realized with a start that I was holding her hand!
Did I grab her hand or did she grab mine? Hermione certainly doesn’t seem to mind, I know for a fact if she doesn’t like something she’ll speak up right away. I gave her hand a gentle squeeze and we both turned and smiled at one another.
Outside, yes I was smiling indeed but inside I was troubled. ‘Maybe you were wrong, Potter. If she’s holding your hand, then she probably likes you. But you’re friends, don’t friends sometimes hold hands?’
“Merlin’s beard, I don’t know!” I finally shouted. Hermione looked up at me, startled.
“Harry?” she asked carefully. “Are you all right?”
“I’m fine.” I answered, embarrassed. “I’ve er…just got a lot on my mind.”
Hermione nodded. “It’s probably my fault.” She said.
“How did you know?” I asked before I could stop myself.
“I probably had you studying too much.” She answered, looking off somewhere to her right.
“No, not at all.” I replied, alarmed at how close I had just come to spilling the beans about my thoughts. We had finally arrived at the portrait door, but the Fat Lady was nowhere to be seen.
“Probably off having a nightcap with that one witch.” Hermione said, letting go of my hand and leaning against the wall. “We won’t be able to go in until she comes back.”
I set her bag down and placed my books on top of it. “Oh well.” I sighed, leaning up next to her then sliding down so I was sitting.
I was shocked when she sat down next to me, and then, even better, she rested her head against my shoulder. I turned and got a whiff of her hair, she smelled like vanilla, pumpkin pie, and cinnamon all in one. I closed my eyes and laid my cheek on the top of her head. She sighed softly, and then to my surprise curled her fingers back around my hand.
Another silence stretched between us, but unlike others Hermione and I have shared, this one is slightly uncomfortable. I think it’s because we’re holding hands, I think it’s because I’ve got my cheek resting on her head, and I think it’s because she’s got her head on my shoulder.
“Can you believe that we’re not coming back here next year?” she asked softly. “I’ve become so used to being here that it feels like home.”
“That makes two of us.” I told her. “Hogwarts is the only home I’ve ever known. At least you have parents to go back to, I can’t live with the Dursley’s anymore.”
“Well I don’t know how much longer I’ll be living at my parents’ home anymore.” She replied. “I’m supposing that I’ll find a flat in Diagon Alley.”
“I probably will as well.” I said. “Maybe you know…we should find one together. You, me and Ron.” I added hastily.
“Maybe.” Hermione answered with a sleepy sort of smile. She snuggled in closer, wrapping her other arm around mine.
A sudden surge of resolve flooded through me then. I have to tell her, I just have to. And right now!
“Hermione?” I heard myself say softy.
“Hmm?” she answered. “Did the Fat Lady come back?”
“No.” I said. “I um…I have to tell you something.”
Unfortunately, this caused her to remove her head from my shoulder and sit up straight.
“What is it?” she asked curiously.
“I uh…well…this isn’t really easy for me to say.” I began. “I uh…well tonight while we were working…” Merlin’s beard, this was harder even than I had thought before. Hell, I was going to just say it. “Hermione…I love you.” I blurted out.
She raised her head off my shoulder and looked at me with shocked eyes. “What?” she asked.
“I…I love you.” I repeated, feeling foolish. Why had I said it like that, why?
“You love me?” she asked, her voice tiny. I pulled away from her and pulled my knees up to my chest, then buried my face in them.
“I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to spring it on you like that, and I know that you can’t ever feel that way about me—“
“Harry.” She said, putting her hand on my arm, but I was so worked up I didn’t hear her.
“You can just forget I said anything, because I know you’re going to say you don’t want to ruin another friendship by making it romantic and—“ I continued on.
“Harry!” this time she spoke louder, but I was still too engrossed in my rant and paid no attention.
“I just don’t want you and I to stop being friends because I made a mistake—“ I was still babbling when all of a sudden she did something I didn’t expect her to do.
She kissed me.
She KISSED me!
I was in shock the moment I realized her lips were on mine. She shifted her body so that we were now facing one another. I automatically encircled my arms around her waist and pulled her against me. Her hands came to rest on my shoulders, keeping me close to her. I removed one hand from her slim waist and threaded it through her dark curls.
Tentatively, I touched my tongue to her lips, and by her responding gasp, I assumed that I had surprised her. It wasn’t a bad surprise however, because she opened her mouth to mine. Now it was my turn to gasp, as our kiss grew increasingly passionate.
After what seemed like an hour, we broke apart, greedily gulping in air to our starved lungs. I reached for her hand and intertwined our fingers together, and kissed the back of it softly.
“You never gave me a chance to say that I love you too.” Hermione chided me gently. I leaned forward and kissed her softly.
“I’m sorry.” I said, a bit sheepishly. “I just never thought you’d feel that way, especially after the whole Ron ‘fiasco’.”
“What happened between Ron and I…I should have seen from the start that the relationship would fizzle out. But you and I are so…right.” She finished a bit shyly.
“I fully agree with you there.” I said happily. I looked up to see the Fat Lady sidle back into the portrait. “Come on, let’s go sit by the fire.”
“All right.” She agreed, not letting go of my hand as we stood up. I gave the Fat Lady our password and we went through the hole.
“How are we going to tell Ron about this?” I asked, motioning to our clasped hands.
“Well…” she bit her bottom lip as she thought. “We could always say, ‘One night in the library…”