Well, it's been about two years I'd say since I wrote anything fanfic-related. The Worldwide Weasley Games fic got put on indefinite hold after the Portkey servers started failing. I still have the chapters saved, don't worry about that, but I don't foresee finishing it anytime soon.
But as for this, I've been being nagged by a tiny little plot bunny in my head for a while, and I decided it was time to let it run. This will just be a one-shot, and probably not too long, but I felt that it would be fitting for H/Hr, rather than in my own stories.
More on that after the fic :)
Unbetaed, unedited. Don't mind the typos. I'd say based on canon this falls into being legit for Books 1-5. So disregard HBP and DH, and enjoy!
Never Lose Faith
~May 9th, 1998~
Meet me on top of the Astronomy Tower. 9pm. It's important. Please.
The note was strange to say the least. The choppy tone, the abruptness of it, the addition of `please' almost as an afterthought; none of it sat well with Hermione. Harry had been acting strange lately, there was no denying, but she attributed that to the impending end of their stay at Hogwarts rather than the N.E.W.T.s, which had her nerves knotted tighter than McGonagall's bun of hair.
She checked the watch that had been a gift from Ron-one of his more thoughtful presents. Fashioned like the clock at the Burrow (and in fact that had been his inspiration, along with an annoying younger sister insisting that he put some thought into Hermione's Christmas present for once), it had a hand each for herself, Ron, and Harry, and many more situations that they might be in. However it also kept the time, and it read 8:45.
Ron's was at `dinner', and Hermione snorted in bemusement. Harry, however, was however between `safe' and `lost', which she found to be very strange. If one was in the Room of Requirement, she had learned since Harry was prone to be, the watch would read `lost'. But hovering between the two?
She closed the book she'd found the note in and placed in on the table beside the hearth in the common room-normally most students wouldn't leave things just lying around, but being Head Girl had its privileges, and being named Hermione Granger meant that only Gryffindors with a taste for detention with Snape would dare to take her books.
She docked points from a Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw she found in a broom closet who weren't even bothering to be discreet, but the trip to the Astronomy Tower was quiet aside from that. She emerged to a wonderfully warm night for early May, a half-moon casting white light over the mortared stone castletop, and Harry Potter leaning against a nearby crenellation looking completely lost in thought. She glanced at her wrist. The watch hand still lingered between `safe' and `lost', and the correlation was no longer a mystery to her.
"I've never seen you look so far away," she said observationally, walking up beside him. He barely moved when she spoke to him, gazing out over the rippling black lake in the valley below.
"It's not doing much good," he admitted. "We both know I'm rubbish at Divination."
Hermione snorted. "You know that's not what I meant."
"And you know that I knew that."
"Harry?" she asked, leaning over the stone wall to try and make eye contact with him. "It's not like you to call me up here so suddenly. What's wrong?"
Harry lowered his gaze and sighed-a deep, heavy sigh that was full of resignation. "I have something to tell you."
Hermione instantly stiffened. News of Voldemort had been sparse as of late-the crushing defeat that Dumbledore and Snape had handed him the previous spring had decimated his forces and left him scrambling to regroup. The witches and wizards had taken a breath of relief for the reprieve, and for the first time since they were at Hogwarts, Harry, Ron, and Hermione had only homework and exams to worry about. "Has he attacked somewhere?" she whispered.
"What?" asked Harry confusedly, turning to face her finally. It took him a moment to puzzle it out, but when he did a look of comprehension crossed his face. "Ohh. No, not that I know of, anyway."
It was Hermione's turn to be confused. "Then what?"
Harry sighed again and turned away. "I've been thinking a lot about what to say when you got here," he admitted. "I'm not sure where to begin."
"The beginning," she advised warmly. "Though we both know I can't take credit for that idea."
Harry chuckled. "Yeah. The beginning, then. I've known you for nearly half of my life. I told Ron that one Halloween that we couldn't just leave you in the girl's bathroom, so we fought a troll and the three of us have been best friends ever since."
"I didn't realize we were up here to wax nostalgic," said Hermione, amused.
"Let me get it out of my system," urged Harry, a smile finally creeping onto his lips. "We've been through so much. Last year, what with Neville-"
"That wasn't your fault," interrupted Hermione quickly. "Neville was incredibly brave, and he's with his parents now."
"I suppose there's that to consider," conceded Harry. "And I don't think I'm at fault. What could I have done to stop a horde of death eaters from sacking St. Mungo's, after all?" Hermione remained silent, the pain of their lost friend throbbing from deep inside where she'd tried to bury it. "You led the vigil for him, and I remember how moved everyone was. I may be the one who has to end the war, but you should be the one leading us. You're a better leader than I'll ever be."
"That's not true," she insisted. "I've never seen anyone braver than you, Harry-"
"Bravery makes for better soldiers than leaders," he said. "And even so, too much can be a bad thing. But brains and charisma?"
"You're plenty charismatic," pointed out Hermione. "Dumbledore's Army?"
"Was your idea, even if I did lead it," he countered. "But I'm getting off track. My point is that you've always been there for me, for all of us. What you've done, who you are…you're the best friend anyone could ask for."
Hermione blushed furiously and smiled. "That's the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me." There was a pregnant pause after those words and her smile faded a bit. "But there's more, isn't there?"
"There is. Ginny…"
"Ah," said Hermione knowingly, turning her gaze out to the nighttime landscape alongside him. "Ginny."
"I learned a lot about myself because of her last year," he said. "I learned that it's more important to have a friend than someone who's pretty, and someone who can deal with the pain of loss and the horror of war."
Hermione nodded in understanding-Ginny had taken Neville's death very hard and afterward shied away from everyone actively involved in the war, Harry included. "Do you still care for her?"
"No," replied Harry, shaking his head. "I don't blame her in the slightest. It's difficult enough to by my friend, much less to be romantically involved with the Boy-Who-Lived. It's for the best."
Hermione was sympathetic, but now even more confused as to their purpose atop the Astronomy Tower. "Then what…?"
"Last year, after we ended things, I had a lot of time to think and get my priorities straight. If Neville's death taught me anything, it's that life is too short to live with regret and things unsaid."
"I agree completely."
He turned to face her. "Hermione, I love you."
She froze. In hindsight, she supposed it should've been obvious, that it was the only possible conclusion to all the build-up, but at that exact moment it stopped her cold. Mostly it was the way Harry said it, the absolute raw emotion in the words that left no confusion as to whether or not he meant it in the friend sense. In her stunned silence, he pressed on. "I…I'm pretty sure you don't feel the same way. I just had to let you know."
"Please just say something."
She placed a hand over his on the crenellation and found it freezing-the stones at the top of the castle were always like ice, even if it was a hundred degrees out. "You might say that bravery doesn't count, but I want you to know that I think that's the bravest thing you've ever done."
Harry nodded and-to Hermione's surprise-smiled. He turned to her and she thought that he'd never looked so relieved before. "I know. I didn't expect you to. I just had to tell you."
She found tears coming unbidden to her eyes and wiped them away furiously, frustrated. "I'm sorry. I don't want you to think you're not a good person…I just…this…"
"You don't have to explain it," said Harry gently, the smile on his face not waning any.
"We'll still be friends, right?"
Hermione shook her head and hugged him fiercely, and for the first time in their friendship, he returned with equal affection.
The war changed everything.
Voldemort came for them as soon as the school year was over. Diplomas in hand, the first student had barely emerged through the barrier from Platform Nine and Three-Quarters when explosions ripped through the terminal and decimated the area.
In a blaze of rage, Harry barreled through the throngs of panicked teenagers and parents looking for his archenemy, only to be dragged backwards away from the fray by Snape. By the time the dust settled, there were 42 dead, only 11 of which were on the enemy side.
After that, Hermione barely saw Harry once a month. To the public, he was in protective custody as a high-value target…but to those close, he was training. Hermione wasn't privy to the information-even Ron barely knew what was going on. The general consensus was that Harry was living at Auror Headquarters going through a hell that only a few select people in the world could attest to understanding.
On one of the rare occasions that she actually saw him, Hermione would listen as Harry would describe the gauntlet of drills he was being subjected to, and it was tiring for her just to hear about it. For two to four hours every day, his body was pushed to the utmost limit, and then he had to do spellwork for the remainder of his waking hours.
After the first year, she didn't see him again. There was a war to be fought, and Harry's mind and body had been honed into weapons, and every bit of man and steel was needed to fell the enemy. Ron went off to fight too, and she took some solace in the fact that he might hear of her best friend's progress, but he was put in charge of a small contingent of wizards tasked with tracking enemy movement, and that was the end of that hope.
In the end, Hermione turned her brain into the medicinal arts, determined to not be the only one failing to contribute to the war effort. Within six months she was raised to the head healer for an entire company, and yet she never heard or saw the person she'd grown to miss the most.
~Three Years Later~
A dim yellow light hanging from the ceiling shook as an explosion rocked somewhere above and sent dirt and pebbles rattling from the rafters. Hermione looked and tried to slow her heart-she'd never get used to the fear that accompanied each of those blasts, scared that someone she cared for might've been taken by one. Too many had been lost already.
As the rumbling ceased, she turned back to the cot on which Ginny Weasley was resting. Somewhere along the timeline, the girl had found her courage and turned into a gifted informant, but all spies get found out eventually. Draco Malfoy had nearly choked her to death with his bare hands when he learned of her treachery, but she'd managed to escape and disapparate to a nearby base. Hermione had been the first to her, and she intended to stay by the girl's side.
Another explosion rocked the foundation of the building they were located under, and Hermione had to grip the side of the cot to keep from falling. The tremors had never been this strong, nor the blasts so loud. She turned back and saw the eyes of her charge open, though sluggish and tired from the painkilling spells Hermione had used.
"What's happening?" she asked groggily.
"They're fighting above us," replied Hermione, looking around at the other cots in the infirmary to make sure each was being attended to by a healer. "It will be over soon."
It was true. As the war progress, Voldemort's numbers began to thin. The countries on the continent had taken care to stay out of the way, but each had made good on the promise not to let any potential death eaters cross the channel. With the walls closing in, Tom Riddle had made his final push for London, the Ministry, and Harry Potter. And so, soon enough, the war would likely be decided…one way or the other.
She'd barely had time to reflect on what might be happening above when a familiar dark-skinned man came hurtling through the door to the ward.
"Dean, you can call me Hermione, I'm not a drill sergeant."
"Right…Hermione," the young man said, breathing hard. "You need to come to the roof."
"Is it safe?" she asked, standing from Ginny and brushing her hands on her white apron.
"Ehhh…safe is a strong word," admitted Dean. "But you have to come quick."
Hermione rolled her eyes and ordered a healer to watch over Ginny. Quickly, she followed Dean from the basement and up the six flights of creaky iron stairs to the roof. The sky was grey and the sounds of war were sounding all around, but she immediately saw why he had left his post to summon her.
In the dreary afternoon, a few hundred meters away, London Bridge was silhouetted against the Thames-a long strand of brown and grey against the dark waters of the river and the silver of the sky. And atop the bridge…
"Harry," she breathed, stumbling over to the metal railing for support. There was no doubt in her mind-brilliant flashes of all colors burst from the surface of the bridge like fireworks, one side of which seemed to be shrouded in darkness. She could barely make out the two figures; one tall in billowing black robes, and one short wearing a t-shirt. Both were darting around at speeds that impressed even from a distance.
She stood and watched, gripping the rail so tightly that her knuckles turned white. Dean stood next to her, quiet and transfixed as the battle around them started to wane, each side seemingly understanding that the war was being decided nearby.
It felt like hours, but it could only have been minutes…perhaps ten or more. A flash of yellow light caught the smaller figure and sent him flying to the tar. The tall one advance, arm raised, and Hermione thought her heart was about to stop as a flash of green light lit up the sky like the Northern Lights.
Yet when it faded, the smaller figure was standing again, a strand of golden light connecting him to his opponent. Hermione's legs were turning to jelly underneath her, but she stayed standing as Harry began to advance one step at a time, the strain he was under visible to even her.
"Come on, Harry," she whispered, bouncing on her toes. "Come on."
And the suddenly there was a crack and a burst of golden light that was so bright Hermione had to turn away. When she looked back, the bridge was crumbling and falling into the river, bother combatants nowhere to be seen.
"Harry," she breathed, eyes wide. "HARRY!"
And she turned in place and was gone.
She reappeared on the bank of the Thames, just nearby the bridge. The concrete and tar was still crumbling away, and she strained to try and make out anything that could be-
There was a body floating a hundred meters away in the river. Facedown and bobbing in the currents. One more spin and Hermione found herself in the river, struggling to avoid being pulled under by the current. A quick incantation and her legs were free of the river's hold, able to move against the waters as she wished. The body floated alongside her and she instantly recognized the mop of plastered wet black hair covering Harry's head.
She paddled the couple meters over and wrapped her arms around his waist before closing her eyes a third time, and then they were gone.
"You will let me in this instant!"
Hermione was clutching the scrap of paper in her hand and shouting at Percy Weasley, who was the only thing separating her from the person she needed to see most in the world.
"Granger, no one sees Potter until the Minister has had a chance to debrief him."
She was not ready to barter words. It had been twelve agonizing hours while the best healers in the country worked to save Harry's life, and now that he was stable, she was going to see him whether Percy Weasley wanted it or not. She drew her wand and Percy immediately flinched, reaching for his own.
"Move your pasty white arse, Percy, or I swear to Merlin I will send you to the same hell that Voldemort is in."
"I think, Miss Granger, that while denying your entry to Mister Potter's room is certainly coldhearted and foolish, it doesn't fall into quite the same category as Tom Riddle's crimes."
The voice had the effect of subduing her anger considerably as Albus Dumbldore emerged from a nearby corridor and strode towards them, smiling merrily.
"Orders are orders, Professor," said Percy, bristling. "The Minister-"
"Is a good friend of mine," interjected Albus. "And I'm sure he would be most displeased to learn that a fine, upstanding, ambitious young man like yourself saw fit to tell me `no'."
Percy stammered for a moment, trying to find the words, before finally clamping his mouth shut. "Yes…yes I suppose you're right."
And he put his wand away, striding off away from Hermione and Albus muttering.
"Thank you," muttered Hermione, pocketing her own wand.
"You are most welcome, Miss Granger," he replied, taking a seat on a nearby chair. "Do me a kindness and try not to be ever too long, I must see Harry as well myself."
The paper had wrinkled a bit in her hand when she clenched it in anger, but she smoothed the fold out quickly and opened the door
He had a breathing tube taped under his nose, and an IV hanging nearby filled with what looked like to be a rejuvenation potion. His eyes were closed and his hair was matted against his forehead, and the scar was raw and red, but he was alive.
Hermione sat in the chair beside his bed and took his hand, now unable to stem to flow of tears that spilled down her cheeks and onto the white linoleum floor. His eyes fluttered open tiredly at the contact, and for a moment he squinted as if he wasn't seeing her right.
"Heaven?" he muttered. Hermione felt her heart swell at the innocence of the word and immediately stood to brush his hair from his face.
"Not heaven," she replied softly and with admiration. "Not yet."
"It certainly seems so."
"Dead," she pronounced with a smile so wide that she thought her face might split. "They found pieces of him scattered all over the river…including the arm with the dark mark on it."
Harry let out a contented sigh and closed his eyes. Hermione just then noticed the scarring all over his body; his chest, his neck, his arms were all covered in scars of all sizes. His eyes opened again and she felt tears threaten her again-the training had turned his body hard and cordlike, but his eyes remained as soft and warm as ever.
"I never expected to see you again," he said. "Even if I lived…I haven't talked to you in two years. I was going to go away."
"The guilt," he admitted. "I could never look at you without feeling guilty. It was unfair of me to dump my feelings on you back then…especially since you don't feel the same."
She handed him the slip of paper in her free hand, and he smiled when he saw what it was.
"I found that floating in the river next to you," she said as he gazed at the picture of her taken during their graduation. It had been one of the best days of her life, and the happiness she was exuding could be seen by a blind man.
"You found me?"
"I watched nearly the whole thing from the roof of an apartment building by the bridge," replied Hermione. "How long have you had that?"
Harry hesitated a moment before answering. "Since I started training. I needed something to get me through the worst days…the days when I thought my heart would explode from the running, or my muscles would shred from the weights…I just kept thinking to myself that there was a picture on the table next to my bed of you, and when I was done I'd get to see it again.
"When the final battle came, I took it with me. I figured, if I had to die, I wanted to die with you…even if it was only in spirit."
Hermione swung her legs onto the bed and lay down next to Harry, wrapping her arms tightly around his midsection. He seemed surprised by the action and pulled away slightly to look at her.
"Why…why are you acting like this?" he asked warily. "Don't misunderstand, I'm so happy to see you alive and well that I can't really describe it…but this-"
"A lot can change in three years, Harry," she whispered. "Does anyone really know what they want at seventeen?"
"What are you saying?" he asked, his voice so soft that she barely heard it.
"After that night on the Astronomy Tower, I tried to put it all from my mind," said Hermione. "I told myself that if I didn't think about it, we'd just go on living, we'd go back to just being friends, and no harm would be done in the end.
"But the more you try not to think about something, the more it pushes itself to the front of the mind. I couldn't stop thinking about it, about how much I hated myself for letting you down like that. And then I had to wonder why I felt so horrible about letting you down like that. I felt guilty, angry at myself. You deserved so much better than me"-Harry opened his mouth to interrupt but she put a finger to his lips-"and then I realized that maybe I didn't understand as much about life and love as I thought I did. School meant so much to me that I never opened my eyes to the other things, to the other people…or to you.
"And I am so sorry I let you down all those years ago." She looked at him fondly and smiled regretfully, her eyes starting to get damp again. "But if you'll have me, I plan on making it up to you."
Harry's mouth fell open slightly as she lowered her lips to his and closed her eyes. This is right, she thought as they made contact. This is home.
Harry took her shoulders in his hands and separated them just enough to look into her eyes. He smiled and swallowed the lump that had formed in his throat, his voice hoarse as he spoke. "I never stopped loving you."
Hermione smiled at him and rested her forehead against his. "And I promise, from this day on, I will never stop loving you either."
There would be parades, awards, endorsements, glory, fame, and admiration the world over for Harry Potter. But in the end, all of it came second to the woman nestled against him, and the love that they had for each other.
And he told her so with a kiss.
Well, now that's over and done with, I have to shamelessly plug my book The Archon's Legacy, available through all major online retailers as both an eBook and a paperback. It's a young adult fiction about a boy who finds himself in a mysterious world where life is a tangible force that can be used to create or destroy. A farmer's daughter rescues him, adventures ensue. I've been told it's an enjoyable read haha. The sequel is done and will hopefully be out before the holidays, so there's more to look forward to (and I'm currently writing the third). Here is the link for Amazon:
But keep in mind it's also available through Barnes and Noble (thought it's not in their retail stores yet), and other fine companies (iBookstore, Sony Reader, etc).
I hope you enjoyed this ficlet, sorry for any typos, and don't forget to review (especially if you buy my book, I REALLY need reviews for that haha).
-G.S.Document created with wvWare/wvWare version 1.2.7