‘N.E.W.T.S.’ Harry thought, ‘Were put on this earth to make our lives miserable.’ He scratched his quill over his parchment as he took notes from a History of Magic textbook. He sat back and sighed, rubbing his weary eyes. He and Hermione had been studying in the library since dinner, and it was now getting close to midnight. He peeked through his bangs at Hermione, who looked even more tired than he was. Harry didn’t know how she was doing it- going to classes, studying, and keeping up with her duties as Head Girl. She looked up at him in that moment and gave a small smile.
“How’s everything coming?” she asked. Harry shrugged.
“Alright I guess. I don’t think there’s too much more to do.” He replied.
She nodded and bent her head to look at her books once more. Harry decided to take a little break, and was able to watch her for a few more moments without her knowing. He bit his lower lip as he thought back on their years here, more importantly, their past two years. During their 6th year, Voldemort had somehow gained entrance to the school, and reopened the Chamber of Secrets. Knowing how important Harry’s relationship with his friends was, he had managed to kidnap Ron and Hermione and hold them down there, baiting Harry. He of course had gone down there after them, and the outcome had finally been completely favorable, with Harry finally defeating Voldemort with his own Avada Kedavra curse. Hermione had thrown herself in Harry’s arms, sobbing, he had had to practically carry her the whole way back, Ron trudging along side of them, hardly able to speak. As the days and months passed, he’d withdrawn from Harry and Hermione, the shock and horror of what he had seen and been through down there too much. The three of them still did things together, but weren’t as close as they were before. Ron had become something of a rake, not a bad reputation, but his friendships were certainly a lot shallower than they used to be. Currently, his affections were reserved for Lavender Brown, the week before it had been Hannah Abbot in Hufflepuff. Harry in a way had envied Ron, for his carefree attitude and limited responsibilities. But when he had his times with Hermione, like now, when it was just the two of them, he wouldn’t give those up for the world.
For when he had rescued Hermione, something had stirred deep inside him, and it had taken him awhile to see what it was. He had totally fallen for his best friend after that. During those weeks when Ron was becoming distant, Harry had only had Hermione left. Sure, he had many other friends, and he was even more famous than he was before if that was possible. Hermione was the only one who still treated him like he was a normal person, and he appreciated that more than anything. Right now though, he watched as her head bowed forward as she nodded off for a moment. He smiled as he watched her bushy hair slide over her shoulder and swing down in front of her. Another reason why he loved her so- she had never given in to the pressure that was Parvati and Lavender to change her appearance to attract guys. To him, she was already beautiful. Her head now snapped back as she jerked awake.
“Harry!” she snapped when she looked up and saw him grinning.
“What?” he asked innocently.
“Nothing.” She shook her head. “I’ll be right back.” She jumped up from her chair and ran around one of the tall bookcases. Harry got up from his chair and followed her, calling it his gut instinct. He rounded the corner just in time to see her point her wand at herself and whisper “Ennervate!”
“HERMIONE!” Harry jumped forward and grabbed her wand away as a green light shot out of it and flew into one of the bookcases. She glared at him with furious eyes and tried to snatch it back, but he held it up above his head where she couldn’t reach it.
“Give me back my wand Harry!” she snapped.
“No!” he responded. “Don’t you realize just how dangerous doing that spell is on yourself when you’re already awake?”
“I don’t care!” she said, still jumping up and down to try and retrieve her wand. “I need to stay awake to study for the N.E.W.T.S.!”
Harry grabbed her hand and led her back to their table. He sat down across from her and looked straight into her eyes.
“Hermione, did you bother looking into the Ennervate spell before you thought of casting it on yourself?” She shook her head silently. “Well, Fred and George used to use it on themselves to stay awake last summer when I stayed at the Burrow. They’d be up night and day making up jokes for their shop. None of us knew what they were doing until one day we were playing Quidditch and they both fell asleep in midair. They fell about 50 feet before Ron and I were able to get to them and grab them before they smashed onto the ground.” Hermione’s eyes grew wide as Harry told her this. She hadn’t bothered to check it out because she was so worried about getting full marks on her tests. She looked at Harry as he continued.
“When Mrs. Weasley found out what they had done, I’ve never seen her get so mad. She then told us what happens with the Ennervate charm if you use it like you’ve been. It doesn’t get rid of sleep, just puts it off longer, and then all of a sudden right in the middle of something, you’ll just fall over. It’s really dangerous Hermione.”
She leaned back in her chair and regarded Harry for a moment. How she loved his emerald eyes, when he was worried about her, they shone even brighter like now. She had realized her feelings for him long ago, but had never acted on them. She was too scared of losing Harry as a friend, one of the only ones she had. Currently, he was reaching over the table to take one of her hands in his.
“Promise me you won’t do that anymore Hermione. Even though I know how much you want to study, risking your life isn’t worth full marks.”
“I promise Harry.” She said, not wanting to take her eyes from his. He gave her hand one last gentle squeeze and sat back, taking up his quill and once more started to scratch some notes onto his parchment. The pair worked steadily for another half hour, every so often sneaking glances at one another. Finally, Hermione shut her book and stood up.
“I’m finished!” she announced. Harry smiled up at her.
“You, Hermione Granger, are finished studying? I thought I’d never see the day!” he teased her. She flushed pink at his little flirtation. Sitting back down, she opened one of her books again.
“Well, if you put it that way, I suppose a little extra cramming won’t hurt…” she began, but Harry’s hand snapped the book shut and he pulled her to her feet.
“Okay, let’s pretend I never said anything!” he said, not letting go of her hand as they left the library. Hermione was extremely pleased about this, and gave Harry’s hand a small squeeze of her own. She noticed his smile out of the corner of her eye. They had settled down into a comfortable saunter through the corridors when a certain hated cat came striding around the corner.
“Mrs. Norris!” Harry cursed and tightened his hold on Hermione’s hand. The two of them flew back the way they had come, running down corridor after corridor, after awhile not knowing where in Hogwarts they were.
“Harry! Wait! Can’t…keep…up…” Hermione gasped. At that moment, she keeled over and fell onto the floor. Harry swore silently and ran back to her. He turned her over on her back and shook her gently, but she was completely still. From the looks of her, she’d been doing the Ennervate charm on herself for a few weeks now, as she was in a very deep sleep. Harry carefully picked Hermione up in his arms; he was rather surprised to feel how light she was. He thought wryly for a minute how this must look to anyone just passing by, for he was carrying Hermione in a honeymoon style.
“Now all I need is a threshold to carry her over…” Harry thought ruefully, and then almost dropped Hermione as he tried to smack himself in the head. “I shouldn’t be thinking about this now. It’s going to be hard enough getting her back to the common room without anyone seeing us.” At that moment, Harry wasn’t sure either by bad timing or good fortune, Ron came around the corner. He stopped short at the sight before him and smiled in confusion.
“What’s going on Harry?” Harry sighed in relief; hopefully Ron would help him out.
“Ennervate charm.” Harry said simply. “She’s been casting it on herself for a couple weeks now to stay awake.” Ron nodded as he remembered the events of the previous summer.
“Need some help to get her back?” Ron asked. Harry nodded gratefully, as he caught a firmer grip on Hermione’s body. Ron went ahead of Harry, peeking around corners as they went. It was nice to walk with Harry again, Ron felt bad that he hadn’t made much time for them since the whole episode with Voldemort. As they quietly came along the corridors, Ron sneaked peeks at his friends every now and again. He noticed the careful way Harry held Hermione, and the way he looked at her face. ‘He’s in love with her…’ Ron thought to himself.
“You like her don’t you.” He said aloud. Harry looked up with a startled expression on his face. Ron almost expected him to get angry and deny it for a moment, but he was wrong.
“Is it that obvious?” Harry said, smiling.
“When did that happen?” Ron asked, peeking around another corner.
“I guess it was when I had that final showdown with You – Know – Who. All the time we’ve spent together since then…it’s just sort of turned into these strong feelings.”
“What does she think about that?” Ron asked, knowing full well that Harry hadn’t ever acted on those feelings.
“I haven’t said anything to her about it.” Harry said, confirming what Ron had just thought. “I don’t want to ruin our friendship, it’s really all I’ve got.” Ron’s mouth twitched a little at this remark, and they were silent until they finally reached the common room.
“Purple Thistle.” Ron said to the Fat Lady, and she swung open sleepily. Harry carried Hermione over to a sofa next to the fire and set her down gently, making sure her head was on one of the cushions so that she remained comfortable.
“Thanks Ron. I really appreciate you helping me.” Harry said sincerely, turning back to where Ron was standing behind him. Ron nodded and turned to go to the dormitory, then spun back around.
“Hey Harry…how about this weekend we hang out in Hogsmeade? The three of us, like we used to?” he said tentatively.
Harry looked at Ron for a moment, then grinned and nodded. Maybe things would be all right between them yet. Harry sat down on the couch and looked at Hermione. He brought a hand up and gently caressed the side of her face. Her skin felt so soft under his fingers. He admired how the firelight danced off the curves of her face, and in her hair. He smiled to himself as he took a lock of it and twisted it between his thumb and forefinger. Her chest rose and fell steadily as she slept, and a peaceful look stole across her face as he watched. He could tell Ron thought he should tell Hermione about his feelings. He wasn’t so sure himself. Harry was quite shy around girls he did like, Hermione being the exception. But he could never work up the nerve to even flirt with her, much less tell her how much in love with her he was. He sighed heavily and sat back, never taking his eyes off her.
Hermione hadn’t felt this comfortable in about two weeks. Her head was perfectly positioned on a pillow, and she was warm from the fire that was still blazing cheerily. She cracked open one eye and saw Harry sitting on the other end of the couch. She couldn’t tell if he was looking at her or in the fire since it was reflecting off his glasses. She closed her eye again and shifted a little onto her side. She could sense immediately that Harry’s full attention was on her.
“Herm?” he asked softly.
She didn’t reply, just tried to steady her breathing once more so he’d think she was asleep. Harry was silent for a few moments more.
“I’m really sorry I didn’t see you doing this to yourself earlier.” Harry said quietly. “I guess I was just really distracted myself, with studying and Quidditch. I should have paid more attention to you and your troubles.” He reached out his hand once more and stroked her long hair. She was having a hard time keeping her excitement at this down, but she relished the feel of his fingers touching the side of her face.
“I feel better talking like this while you’re asleep, Herm. You’ve been my best friend for so long now, I’m scared to do anything to jeopardize what we have. I guess I’m sort of telling you now, but you just can’t hear me.” Harry leaned closer and pressed his lips to her forehead. “I think I’ve completely fallen in love with you, Hermione. You’re the most beautiful girl I’ve ever seen. You’re my sleeping beauty.”
Small tears sprang to Hermione’s closed eyes. She hardly dared to believe what she had just heard. She felt Harry’s weight shift off the couch and heard his footsteps fade in the direction of the boys’ dormitory. She couldn’t let him go like this, not after what had just happened.
“Harry…” she said, loud enough for him to hear. He spun back around so fast she thought he would hurt himself. The emerald eyes she loved so much were at the moment wide with a look of fear in them.
“Hermione!” Harry’s voice came out as a squeak. “How…how long have you been awake?” She got up off the couch and walked towards him.
“Long enough.” She said simply. For a few very long moments, Harry and Hermione just stared at one another.
“You uh…awake…. heard…” Harry stammered.
“Did you really mean what you said Harry?” Hermione asked. “Do you really think I’m beautiful?” Harry mumbled something incoherently.
“I said yes. Yes I do.” Harry replied, his face blushing harder than before. Hermione gave a sad sort of smile.
“No one’s ever called me that before. Never beautiful. Just bookish. Brainiac.” She said, turning slightly.
He came up beside her and put his hand on her shoulder. She faced him again and placed her hand on his cheek. She brought his face to hers and rested her forehead against his. His arms encircled her and brought her body to rest against his. She turned her head and rested it on his chest and his chin was on top of her head. She felt Harry kiss the top of her head softly, and she raised her face up to his. Without waiting another second, he brought his lips to hers and kissed her hard. She instantly responded, parting her lips to allow his tongue to enter and intertwine with her own. Her hands snaked their way up into his wild raven hair, his hands traveled through her hair across her back and up to cup her face in his hands. When they finally parted for air, they broke apart with a gasp. Harry grinned down at her.
“Well, between what just happened and carrying you all the way from wherever we were in the castle…” he said as Hermione slapped him in the arm playfully. “I’ve really worked up an appetite. Pumpkin Pie?” She agreed and they headed out the portrait again.
“Oh and Harry?” she said. “Next time I feel sleepy, you’ll know how to wake me up right?” Harry laughed and kissed her again.