"I thought the man was supposed to lead," Harry said stubbornly. Hermione rolled her eyes at the comment.
"Well, technically, yes, that's true. For this lesson, though, you'll be following my instruction, so I'm going to lead," she responded with a smile. Harry pouted slightly. He was beginning to wonder why he had even asked Hermione for her help. Of course she was a veritable cornucopia of knowledge, so it reasoned that she would have some sort of answer to his problem.
It was one day before the Yule Ball, and it had only recently occurred to Harry that he had absolutely no clue what to do when it came to dancing. At first, the thought didn't seem to bother him very much. But, as the date approached, it soon became apparent that Harry's problem was bigger than he wanted it to be. Although he had enough on his plate as it was, the idea of showing up to the Yule Ball and being the only one who didn't know how to dance was not appealing. So, Harry had asked the only person whom he felt would have a reasonable answer: Hermione. He did not expect a full blown lesson.
"How exactly did you learn to dance?" he had asked Hermione when she had offered to teach him. She had responded with a slight blush.
"When I was younger, Mum always insisted on sending me to these local cotillion dances. Although it wasn't something I was really interested in, it did always do great things for Mum's spirit when I would show her what I had learned, so I went. I suppose some of it kind of stuck."
Harry had to admit, it was rather difficult for him to picture Hermione dancing. It all seemed so unlike her. But, considering that she was all he had, Harry felt that it was better than nothing.
"So, first off, you need to put your hand on my waist, and I'll put my hand on your shoulder. Come on, Harry," Hermione insisted. He placed his hand on Hermione's side, but couldn't hide his blush as she pulled it lower to her waist. Much to his gratitude, Hermione did not comment on the color of Harry's face.
"And now we hold our other hands like this," she continued, clasping his left hand. Harry gulped. Other than hiding under the invisibility cloak, Harry had never been this close to Hermione. Oddly enough, it didn't feel as awkward as he had expected.
"Okay," Hermione said, bringing Harry's attention back to the matter at hand, "The first step you take is forward with your left foot, while I go backward on my right. Make sense?"
"Right then, so after that, you go sort of forward and right on your right foot, and then shift your weight to that foot."
Hermione carefully led Harry across the floor, making sure that he understood each step.
"Now you drag your left foot to meet the right foot, and then step back with the right. Now this time, step back and to the left with your left foot. Good!"
Hermione instructed Harry throughout the rest of the dance. Slowly the steps became more intrinsic and fluid. They went through the dance over and over again, hoping to perfect it as much as possible. As she spoke and moved, Harry silently watched Hermione.
The slight embarrassment that he had felt at the beginning had melted away, and he was beginning to feel more and more at ease holding her in his arms. He idly let his mind wander, and began thinking about things that he knew he shouldn't. One thought that simply wouldn't leave his mind left him wondering what it would feel like to hold Hermione in his arms more often. As Harry tried to shake the thought, he accidentally stepped to the right when he should have stepped to the left.
"Ouch!" Hermione squeaked. She broke apart from Harry, causing him to look down at her in surprise.
"What happened?" he asked, slightly surprised. She looked at him with a dismissive smile.
"Oh, it's okay, you just stepped on my foot. Shame, too. You were doing so well," Hermione mused. The light pouring in from one of the windows created a halo effect around her bushy hair, and her eyes were bright. Suddenly, Harry felt that he was seeing his best friend in an entirely new light. Perhaps it was the absence of a pile of books, or perhaps he had just been too daft to see it before, but something had changed in Hermione. She had always been lovely, but it was here, now, that Harry was really noticing her; the curve of her face, the joy in her smile, the confidence in her posture. It was then that Harry really felt the need to hold Hermione in his arms again. Without hesitation, he moved closer to her, clutching her hand.
"Let me try to lead this time," Harry said softly, not knowing where his sureness was coming from. Hermione wrinkled her eyebrows.
"Are you sure? We haven't practiced for very long and-"
Harry lightly grabbed her waist and pulled her flush against him, effectively silencing her in the process.
"I'm sure," he responded boldly. Hermione raised her eyebrows, but did not protest. With a breath, Harry began the dance. At first, he couldn't help but count the steps in his head as he slowly lead his best friend across the Astronomy Tower floor. After a few moments, Harry stopped counting. He actually understood the movements, and they were coming easily. His eyes had not left Hermione's, however. She stared directly at him, as well, brown eyes mixing with green.
Neither of them knew what the other was doing; they both seemed to be playing it by ear. Harry noticed the corners of Hermione's mouth turning upward. He couldn't fight the smile, either. Ever so carefully, the two began to fall out of sync with the count of the dance, and began creating their own steps. Eventually, Harry and Hermione were simply spinning together, faster and faster. With his hand on her waist and her arm wrapped around his neck, they couldn't help but laugh. Dust kicked up with every step, creating a foggy, misty swirl. Finally, they began to slow their pace.
Harry put both hands on Hermione's waist. She smiled and let go of his neck, leaned back into his hands, and stuck her arms out on either side of her torso. With her eyes closed as they spun, she felt the incredible feeling of flying without the fear of heights. Harry marveled at the look on her face. It was unadulterated joy. It was pure happiness. It was freedom. He smiled broadly.
As they came to a stop, Hermione lowered her arms and stood up straight. Harry let go of her waist with one hand, and brought it to her face. Her smile did not falter, but her eyes clouded slightly. As Harry brushed her cheek with his thumb, he heard her breathing become shallower. Her eyes flashed to his mouth. He didn't wait a second longer before crashing his lips down onto hers.
Almost immediately, Hermione wrapped her arms around Harry's neck, and pulled him even closer. They did not stop kissing until breathing became an issue. As they pulled apart, Harry and Hermione locked eyes, both of them hoping that the other did not regret what had just happened. After a few seconds, they both smiled, assured of their feelings.
"I think that this was good lesson," Harry offered. Hermione smiled and pressed her mouth to his.
"It's a great start," she responded happily, "Lucky for you, I know many more dances."