Unofficial Portkey Archive

Always and Forever by Lorelover

Always and Forever


Always and Forever


Disclaimer: Harry Potter, and all the characters associated there with belong to JK Rowling, and Scholastic. Also, any similarities to any other work is unintentional. I make no profit from this story. I wrote it, just for fun.


AN: Well, here's the chapter I think some of you have been waiting for, I hope it lives up to your expectations. I've rewritten it three times, and I'm still not sure I'm happy with it, but we'll see. Please leave me your thoughts.



Chapter 14



It was a fairly common practice for the professors to make announcements right after Sunday night dinner concerning the upcoming week. However, tonight most of the students were waiting for one announcement in particular; the scores from the last Demonstration.

The Hall quieted down as soon as Professor McGonagall stood and started for the podium. Inwardly, McGonagall smiled, happy that the students were taking such an interest. When she had first suggested adding the demonstrations to the tournament, she feared they be viewed as little more than a sideshow. The fact, that the entire Hall was nearly silent, put that fear to rest.

McGonagall cleared her throat, and began, "First, will all those who participated in the Charms and Runes Demonstrations, please stand up." As soon as the last of the twelve students were standing, she continued, "Hogwarts, and guests, please join me in showing our appreciation for all of their hard work, and long hours spent, in order to give us twelve very exceptional demonstrations!" As McGonagall stepped to the side and started to clap, all the professors at the head table stood and joined her. A moment later, the entire hall was on its feet, clapping, and cheering as well.

With no small amount of effort, McGonagall was able to get everyone seated again. "Thank you for your support, both tonight, and at their past demonstrations." McGonagall paused with a rare smile on her lips, "And now, what I'm sure most of you have been waiting for…the scores!"

Someone yelled, "YEAH!" and half the hall laughed. Even Dumbledore chuckling for a moment.

"As before, all the results will be posted immediately after the last announcement…now," McGonagall caught her breath, and then continued, "Ordinarily, I would only announce the top three students and their scores. However, as of now, we have a tie for third place, so we'll start with them." After pulling a piece of parchment from her robes, McGonagall adjusted her glasses and began to read, "Currently tied for third place…Miss Nicole Lescuier, and Mr. Miroslav Demetrius with seventy-four points." As soon as the cheering died down, she went on, "In second place…Miss Hermione Granger, with seventy-five points." She gave Hermione a slight nod of acknowledgement, and waited for the noise to quiet down once more.

Harry was out of his seat cheering for her, before McGonagall had even finished her name. The rest of Gryffindor close behind. Hermione was completely overwhelmed by the show of support.

"And finally, the leader after two demonstrations, with a nearly perfect score on her Runic Demonstration…Miss Marcelle de Louvres from Beauxbaton, with seventy-seven points." After nearly a full minute of thunderous applause, McGonagall raised her hands for quiet so she could finish. "Don't forget to check the tally sheet, and congratulate the rest of the participants. You might also remind them, that the top scores are very close, and we still have one more demonstration left, so anyone of several could still take the lead."

Harry couldn't help but notice, that it seemed her last comment was directed at him. A quick glance at Hermione and he thought he knew why; she looked just a little…upset. Harry was sure no one else would have noticed, she schooled her features well. But not well enough to fool him. He knew she could be a little competitive when it came to academics, but he really didn't think that, was what was bothering her. `No, she probably upset with herself; wondering what she missed, how she could have done better,' Harry thought, `maybe, she feels like she let the school down or something.' Harry decided not to say anything now, he'd wait until they were alone, later tonight.

"Dumbledore then walked up and replaced McGonagall at the podium, "Allow me to add my congratulations to the twelve students, who not only demonstrated outstanding knowledge in Charms and Runes, but also showed us how, working together, anything can be accomplished." Dumbledore tipped his head in a salute to the group, before going on, "I'm sure everyone is anxious to get back to their common rooms to carry on the celebrations, so let me just give you one more thing to get excited about." Dumbledore paused for effect; Harry really did think that he loved being a showman. "In two days, it will be Valentine's Day…I know at least half of you are looking forward to then." Dumbledore laughed at his own joke for a second, while the rest of the Hall remained quiet. "Well, I shall remember not to go into comedy after retirement. Thank you, and goodnight," he finished.


It was a beautiful morning, the sky was just starting to lighten and was slowly changing from a fiery red to a brilliant deep blue. Up ahead, Harry noticed Luna walking down the path towards them; she too liked being out in the early morning, but preferred a more casual pace. Harry was so caught up in the majesty of it all as he ran, he failed to notice the rock sticking out of the ground at a sharp angle.

"Harry!" Hermione yelled. He had tripped and taken a tumble into a large thorny plant.

"Ow," Harry yelped as he tried to get up. "Hermione, I'm stuck, er caught on something, can you help me up?"

Hermione chuckled, "Hold on…" Bending over to help him up, she got a better look at the plants Harry had fallen into and gasped, "Harry don't move, there is an Asphodel plant growing in here as well, if you get cut by the thorns, you'll get infected!"

Harry looked down at his bare arms, where he felt several small pricks. He could see a couple of places where the thorns had broken the skin, and a small trickle of blood was already starting to run from the wounds. "I think it too late to worry about that Hermione," he said, just as Luna arrived.

Hermione chewed her lip for a second, "Okay, hold on while I try and pull some of the branches out of the way." Without turning around she added, "Luna once they're free, use your wand to hold them back okay?" A few minutes later and Harry was free. "Well it doesn't look too bad, but the plant is poisonous and can cause hallucinations, so we better get you to Madam Pomfrey right away."

Hermione then quickly cast the healing charm she had just learned from Alexei, "I don't know how much good it will do, it wasn't meant to work on plants, but it should help a little."

"Right, well best get going," Harry sighed, as he started back towards the castle.

Luna pulled at Hermione's arm as Harry walked ahead and whispered in her ear, "I thought I saw some Aconite in there as well."

Hermione gave her a quick nervous glance, "I know, I saw it too."

He hadn't been that far from the castle when he tripped, so Harry was a little surprised, that after only a couple of minutes of walking he was already starting to feel funny. First, he noticed that he was starting to sweat, even though he was only walking and the air was quite cool. As Harry marched on, he next noticed his vision would blur, then snap back after a moment.

Harry was feeling worse by the second. He knew he was in trouble, when he started losing feeling in his legs.

They were almost there when Harry stopped. "Hermione, I… I don't feel well…" he wheezed as he started to sink to his knees.

Hermione caught him, "Come on Harry, just a little bit further." She hooked his left arm over her neck and held it tight, while wrapping her right arm around his waist to help him continue.

"Luna run ahead and alert Madam Pomfrey, tell her everything."

"Maybe you should levitate him Hermione," she said as she start to leave.

"No, he needs to stay conscious… Now go!"

The effects from the Asphodel's poison, were not lethal, and would not normally render someone unconscious, but the Aconite was. Its poison worked fast, and once someone slipped into unconsciousness, death was usually quick to follow. Hermione of course knew this. It amazed her, how something as simple as their regular morning run could turn deadly so fast. She had to wonder if situation like this were unique to the magical world in general, or just Harry.

Bursting through the doors to the infirmary, Harry finally collapsed unconscious as Hermione yelled, "Madam Pomfrey!" Both she and Luna were at her side a moment later. With Hermione's help, Madam Pomfrey managed to get Harry into a bed were she could start to treat him.

A few tense minutes later, after she had healed the cuts, and forced some potions into him, she turned to face the small crowd that had gathered behind her.

Looking first at a worried Hermione, she said gently, "He'll be okay… you got him here in time."

Hermione sank into a chair sitting by the next bed as a tear rolled down her cheek. Nodding her head a little, she whispered, "Thank you." Luna quickly pulled another chair over and sat down beside her and wrapped an arm around her shoulder.

Pomfrey nodded back once and then turn her attention to her friend, "Minerva, I think some house points are in order here. Miss Granger's quick thinking and the fast actions of both her and Miss Lovegood, almost certainly saved Mr. Potter's life." Again looking at Hermione, "The healing charm you cast didn't remove the poison, but it did slow it down considerably, well done. I hate to think what might have happened if you hadn't been with him.

Luna spoke next, "Headmaster, why is Aconite allowed to grow on school grounds?"

Dumbledore turned to the blond-haired Ravenclaw, "Actually my dear, it is not, but alas, like any weed it has the unfortunate tendency to show up from time to time even though it is most unwelcome." Turning to his deputy, "I'll have Hagrid see that it is removed, and then recheck the grounds for any more."

Hermione got up and walked over to Harry's bed and took hold of one of his hands. Without looking back she asked, "Madam Pomfrey, may I stay?"

Seeing as Hermione had probably done more to save Harry's life than anyone else in the room, she answered without reservation, "Of course."


He seemed to be floating in a swirl of sights and sounds. Bright colors blazed everywhere, while talking mixed with laughter and music, filled his ears. In that twilight state between barely asleep, and almost awake, Harry knew he was dreaming. Where he was or why he was there, he didn't know, but he felt happy. As his mind became more lucid, he tried to focus, tried to find a point of reference… and then out of nowhere; as was so common in dreams, she was there…

As a result of Hermione's quick actions and Madam Pomfrey's expert care, it was only a couple of hours later, that Harry starting to steer towards consciousness. Thanks to the mixed effects of the potions and the toxin from the plants, Harry had experienced some of the most vivid dreams he'd ever had. On the verge awaking, Harry try to hold onto some of the images from his subconscious.

Harry smiled as he opened his eyes, the last vision from his drug-induced dreams was of Hermione. What little he could currently remember of it wasn't anything spectacular, at least as far as dreams go. They were simply standing, facing each other by a small table… but there was more, something else, right on the edge of his memory… something else he couldn't quite remember at the moment. The only odd thing, was that Hermione had looked to be several years older. Harry sat up, wondering what that could mean.

A few minutes later, Madam Pomfrey came over and gave him a quick check up and pronounced him fit to return to class. Surprised, she was letting him go so soon, Harry smiled brightly, as he thanked her for flushing out the poisons so fast; he had never been released from the infirmary so soon after an accident. As Harry finished dressing and made ready to leave, he found himself thinking of the dream. He couldn't help but think that Hermione looked just as pretty, perhaps even prettier in his vision of the future, and he found himself smiling again. Even though it was just a dream, Harry was nevertheless glad that Hermione was still there, that they were still spending time together. Once ready to go Harry put the thoughts aside; he think more about them later, but for now he needed to get to class.


Early the next morning as Harry lay in bed waiting for his turn to use the boys shower, he thought back to yesterday, and his dream about Hermione. Now, more relaxed, he found himself remembering more of the dream.

She was still with him some years into the future, Harry liked that. They were standing together, facing each other in an average sized room next to a table with soft music playing in the background. There was a window… no a stained glass window behind Hermione. Harry smiled, the light coming through it, made her look almost angelic. It was soft and warm, and added golden highlights to her hair. Hair that was done up special, kind of like how she fixed it for the Ball. There were other people in the room too, but in Harry's dream, he only had eyes for her. She was so beautiful.

Harry closed his eyes and smiled, if anyone had walked by just then, they would have surly wondered just what he was thinking about. Lying there with his eyes closed, he could see the vision from his dream more clearly. Hermione was wearing white robes… no… it was a white dress, a long white dress. The table next to them was empty except for a book. Hermione looked so incredibly happy. Her eyes sparkled with the hint of a tear that seemed on the verge of sliding down her cheek. It must have been a pretty special occasion, Harry thought.

Harry played the memory of the dream forward. They were standing there staring into each other's eyes, and then slowly, they leaned in to share a kiss. But this was no ordinary kiss, it was full of passion and seemed to last an eternity. The love and emotion shared with that kiss made Harry heart pound, even now. Releasing her to arm's length, he couldn't help but admirer her.

Harry's eyes snapped open. Hermione's dress… it wasn't just any dress. It was… it was a wedding dress, the book… a bible. It was Hermione's wedding that he had dreamt about. Why would he dream about that, and why was she kissing him? Harry didn't know much about love and marriage, but he was pretty sure you didn't kiss the bride like that… Harry's heart started beating faster, `Oh Merlin, you didn't kiss the bride like that unless… unless, you were the groom!' he thought.

Harry sat up, his pulse was racing, and his breathing was fast and swallow… what did mean? Why would he dream something like that? Was it just a dream, or was it a vision? Like Hermione, Harry didn't put much stock in the art of divination, but it had seemed so real, so… natural. Was it his future? He didn't know, after all he had no way to know for sure. Maybe it was just his subconscious mind trying to tell him something. With that last thought, Harry sat up straighter. `Tell me what?' He asked himself. That he should be with Hermione, like as a boyfriend? Or that on some subconscious level, he wanted to be her boyfriend, and marry her some day? She was his best friend, how did you go from that… to being married?

Not having any experience in romance or love, Harry knew why he was confused. He would've liked to talk to somebody about it, maybe ask for advice. However the only ones he could think of to ask were Sirius, or Hermione, and maybe Hermione's parents. The Dursleys were out of the question, he didn't think they'd know anyway, and the Weasleys, well that would just be way too awkward. That left Sirius… No way, he'd never hear the end of it if he talked to Sirius. He certainly couldn't talk to Hermione, and tell her he'd been dreaming of her. And for pretty much the same reasons, he didn't think it be a good idea to talk to her parents either. No, he'd just have to work this out on his own.

Seamus walked by wrapped in a towel, "All yours Harry."

"Thanks," Harry said after a moment, still lost in thought. Finally he got up, He had a lot to do, `And to think about,' he thought, it was Valentine's Day. By the time Harry had finished his shower, he had a plan. He still needed a little time to work out the dream and his feelings, but he knew what he wanted to do today. He may not understand love very well, or his true feeling for Hermione, but he did know he cared for her very much, and today he was going to show her. After making a few plans with Dobby, he sat down and started a letter.


Considering Harry's condition, Hermione had planned only a very light workout. Coming down the stairs, the first thing Hermione noticed, was that Harry wasn't dressed for running, "Harry, what's wrong, don't you feel well?" She asked.

Harry smiled, the concern in her voice was evident. "Morning Hermione, and I'm fine," he said as he stood up to greet her. "Dumbledore, was kind enough to give everyone the day off, so I thought, why not make the most of it... let's just have some fun today, okay?"

Hermione blinked, "Well this is unexpected... but, okay."

"Great, why don't you go change, and I'll wait right here."

Hermione nodded and turn around, half way back up, she stopped. "Harry... you've got something planned, don't you?" She said, part question, part statement.

Harry laughed, "Of course... fun!" Then he started shooing her back up the stairs, "hurry up, go on..."

Hermione shook her head, but smiled. Harry loved to surprise her. Hermione smile grew as she thought, `And I like it when he does.'


Hermione sat down a little while later at a small table, with an amused smile on her face. "The kitchens Harry?"

Harry just looked back at her with a smirk and said, "Well, we can't go to Hogsmeade, and it's too cold outside, so... if a bloke wants a private breakfast with his best friend... this is it," he finished as he gestured around.

Hermione looked around and shook her head, but wore a brilliant smile, "Its lovely Harry." The table was covered with a white linen, and sitting in the middle was a small vase of flowers. All the elves were wearing little outfits covered with tiny hearts and cupids in celebration of Valentine's Day. "Where's Dobby?" she asked, after looking around.

"I'm glad you asked," Harry said, before wiggling his eyebrows and calling, "Dobby!"

A half second later, Dobby popped in, right next to Hermione wearing the most outlandish red and white Valentine's outfit she'd ever seen. "Happy Valentine's Day Harry Potter sir," and then quickly turning to Hermione, he added, "happy Valentine's Day, Miss Harry Potter's Grangy."

Harry laughed, while Hermione smiled at the way he had addressed her. "You look smashing Dobby, and happy Valentine's Day to you."

Dobby beamed at both of them, "Thank Yous Miss Grangy, are yous ready to eat?"

Hermione looked at Harry, who only nodded yes, "That would be wonderful Dobby."

Dobby bounced on the balls of his feet with a huge smile, and a moment later, he popped away, only to return with all their favorites for breakfast, just the way they liked them.

"Thank you Dobby," said Harry kindly.

"Yes, thank you Dobby," added Hermione.

"Yous both welcome," Dobby answered, and then with a coy smile said, "Dobby is hoping yous are both being happy today," before popping away again.

"He's so sweet," said Hermione, "we should come down here more often, just to visit."

Harry thought about it for a second, then nodded, "Yeah, we should."

About halfway through breakfast, Harry suddenly stopped. "Oh, I can't believe I almost forgot, what with Dobby and all," Harry said, before reaching into his robes and pulling out a card, and a letter. Harry cleared his throat and said with a nervous smile, "Happy Valentine's Day Hermione," as he handed both to her.

"Oh Harry, you shouldn't have," she said in a gentle voice. Opening the card first, she read the inscription, and Hermione's voice hitched a little when she said, "Thank you Harry, its perfect." She had gotten a card for Harry, but had been unsure of how he'd react, and so hadn't given it to him yet. However, after reading his, she felt that he would receive it, in the spirit in which it was meant. She considered him to be her dearest friend, and he was special to her in so many ways. She pulled out her card and handed it to Harry. Smiling shyly, she said softly, "This is for you." Then, looking down at the letter, she asked, "What's this?"

Now it was Harry's turn to speak softly, "It's a letter." Seeing her raise a brow, he knew she expected a better explanation. "You know how we used to write to each other, during summer?"

Hermione nodded, "Yes."

"Well, I... I kind of miss doing that."

"But we see each other every day, what..."

"It's not the same Hermione." Harry smiled slowly and tilted his head slightly as if unsure of himself, "With the letters, it's more... personal, more private." Harry ran a hand nervously through his hair, "I've been doing a lot of thinking lately. There is still a few things I haven't quite worked out, but… well some, I… I wanted you to know now. I didn't want to wait any longer." Harry nodded towards the letter, "Go ahead."

Hermione slowly nodded her head as understanding took hold. Without saying anything else, she slid her thumb under the flap of the envelope opening it, and pulled out the letter.



Dear Hermione,

You must think I've gone completely mad; writing you a letter, while we are still at school. You might even be reading this, while I'm in the same room. What you need to understand is, that sometimes, (for me anyway,) it's easier to say things with words on paper, than to voice them out loud. I think it's because you have time to think about exactly what it is you're trying to say. You can find the right words to express not only your thoughts, but your feelings as well.

Thinking about this day, made me think about my friends, which led me to think about you. Here we are, more than halfway through the school year, and the blasted tournament, and I haven't thanked you properly. I know I have said it before, but I want to say it again, and I want you to know that I mean it from the bottom of my heart. And yes, I remember what you said, that I'd never have to, but I think I do. You deserve to know that you are not only needed, but that you are appreciated.

I don't think you realize just how much you do for others, especially for me, and you ask for nothing in return. But you don't have to take my word for it; go and ask Natalie, a mere first-year, ask her, if all those long talks you shared with her, helped. Go ask Neville or Ron what their grades would be like without your help.

Honestly Hermione, how you do it, I really don't know, but I for one couldn't be more grateful.

I had always considered Ron to be my best friend, my best mate. Maybe because he was my first real friend, or maybe it was just because he said it was so. How foolish I have been. You don't become someone's best friend just because you were first, or because you want it to be that way. It's your actions, and the way you treat your friends, that tell the true story.

It's been quite obvious for a while now; Ron was never my best friend, and sometimes it seemed as though he was not even a friend at all. However, since that horrible day with the troll back in first year, you Hermione, have always been a friend, my friend; even when I wasn't one to you. You stood by me, right or wrong. In my mind, there's no doubt about it; you Hermione, are my best friend. You have been for a long time; I was just too stupid to see it.

I decided to write all this in a letter, because I wanted you to have some tangible proof that you could hold in your hand, and know that I mean every word. I wanted you to know how incredibly lucky I feel having met you. How fortunate I feel having you in my life. I can only hope that never changes.

Thank you, for being you Hermione, and for sharing yourself with me.

Friends Forever,




After reading the letter twice; the second time a little more slowly than the first, Hermione carefully folded it back up and placed it back in the envelope for safekeeping. Hermione knew Harry had cared, that he was thankful for all her help. She probably knew it before he did. And of course she knew that he valued their friendship. She had known all these things through his actions. Harry rarely told you things directly, like those that he said in the letter. Instead, it seemed Harry was better at just showing you how he felt. Sometimes, it was as simple as a genuine smile or a hug. Sometimes it was a bit more, like taking a friend to a private breakfast. Small on words, yet big on actions, and now it would seem, he found yet another way to express himself.

Hermione hadn't realized that she'd been crying until she looked up, that's when she felt the tears rolling down her cheeks. Setting the envelope down, she reached across the table and took both of Harry's hands in hers. Hermione took a moment and just stared at him, marveling at how he had become so special to her. It was the first time she had ever received a Valentine's card. It was also the first time on this special day, she hadn't felt sad and alone. She was his best friend, and he was certainly hers.

"Oh Harry, that was..." she paused a second, and then with a soft smile, she nodded to herself. "No, I'm just going to say thank you. The rest... I think I'll put in a letter."

Harry smiled back, "You had me worried there for a second, what, with all those tears."

"Happy tears Harry, happy tears."

For the next couple of minutes, both sat quietly, content with just looking at each other. Neither wanted to say anything, for fear of ruining the moment. It was so rare to have time, to just sit with each other and not worry about school, or the tournament, or any of the little problems, life seem to throw their way, they both just wanted it to last as long as possible.

As Hermione stared at Harry, He seemed to drift away for a moment, lost in thought. Clearly there was more on his mind, and judging by the simple but cute smile on his face, it must not have been a bad thought. A second later he seemed to snap out of it and he refocused on her.

"You're in a good mood then," Harry finally said, "cause the day is only getting started."


"That's right... play your cards right young lady, and you might just earn a sunset broom ride."

Hermione laughed, "I see." Then, doing on her best impression of Professor McGonagall she added, "Low and slow Harry?"

Harry sobered for a second, then with eyebrows raised, and an impish smile, he asked, "Don't you trust me Hermione?"

Hermione smile returned in full force, "Always."


After putting the finishing touches on an essay that was due in a couple of days, Hermione sat in the quiet of the library and thought back to the last couple of days. Tuesday; Valentine's Day, was by far the best day of the week. Harry had treated her like a queen all day long, and he had made good his promise on a slow and gentle broom ride right at sunset; Hogwarts had never looked so beautiful. It had been a perfect day. Going to sleep that night, Hermione had only been slightly disappointed in the day events; she had hoped somewhat remotely, that Harry just might tell her, that he liked her as more than just a friend. She knew without a doubt, that Harry cared for her very much. She knew that he loved her, not romantically, but in his own way, even though he had never said it. Deep down she knew it was unlikely he ever would, but still she had hoped.

The next couple of days, things started to return to normal with only two exceptions, Harry seemed a little out of sorts about something, sometimes she would catch him staring. The other thing was he still felt a little weak from the toxins. Tomorrow was Saturday, and they were going to start back up running. Hermione was hoping to sit him down afterwards and have a talk. It was about time and well over due, she needed to tell him a few things, and maybe… just maybe get some answers to her own concerns.


Stepping through the portrait hole into the common room after their morning run, Hermione said, "Well that was kind of short, but I'm sure you'll be back in top shape in no time." Then turning to look at Harry she asked, "What do you have planned for today?"

Harry turned to Hermione, "Hun?"

"Honestly Harry, what's on your mind, you've been somewhere else all morning?"

"Oh, ah sorry, I was just thinking about… the next task… you know, the lake and all." It was true, he had briefly thought about it, but it wasn't what had been on his mind all morning, he just didn't want to talk about that yet.

Hermione studied Harry a moment, He'd never been this out of sorts before a task. She had to wonder if he knew more about what was coming, than he had told her about, or if it was something else. "You okay, do you want to talk about it?"

Harry turned away, "No, I, ah… I'm fine."

Hermione raised a brow, he seemed elusive, and he had never been like this with her before. She decided to give him some time; it would just be one more thing to talk about later. "Well, if you change your mind." Then heading for the stairs she added, "I'm going to get a shower, then try and get some work done for next week after breakfast, want to join me?"

Harry's brow disappeared into his hair line.

Hermione realized how her last comment might have been misinterpreted and laughed, "In the library Harry… boys, really."

"Oh ah, sure," Harry said sheepishly, and then again seemed to get lost in thought.

However, after breakfast Harry begged off on the library, and told her that instead, he was going to take a long walk around the lake to clear his head. Hermione watched him walk away and felt a tiny prang of hurt, that he felt he couldn't talk to her about whatever was troubling him. She thought they were growing closer, but now she wasn't sure as her old insecurities bubbled back up.


Since waking up in the infirmary a few days ago, and remembering the dream, whenever his thoughts were idle, Harry mind would drift back to Hermione, to kissing her, and to sharing a future with her. For the last couple of days he'd been giving it a lot of thought.

According to the dream, she would be in his future, that much made sense, they were best friends after all. Unless something terrible happened, of course she'd be in his future. But they were getting married! What did that mean? He wasn't sure. Best friends didn't just get married, and they sure didn't kiss like that. `What about the Yule Ball?' a little voice in his head asked. True, he had kissed her then; Harry smiled remembering that night. But he hadn't set out to do it, he had acted purely on instinct. He still didn't know exactly why he had done it, somehow he had known it was just the right thing to do at the time. Then there was the fact that they had never talked about it. Surely, if Hermione wanted more, she would have brought it up… Right? `Maybe not,' his little voice answered. Maybe she understood why he had done it, even if he didn't; she was smart like that. But this kiss was different, and to get married… People who loved each other got married. That's what made the dream kiss different too… love.

Did he love her… he didn't know. When he kissed her at the Ball, did he kiss her out of love? Maybe… Again, he didn't know. How could he, he'd never experienced love, at least not that he could remember. His parents must have loved him of course, he was sure of that, but he didn't remember any of it. Sirius, and the Weasleys probably loved him, but that was somehow different, wasn't it? Maybe Hermione loved him; actually he was pretty sure she did, but did she love him like a wife would love a husband? Harry didn't know, maybe he'd never know. What if he was incapable of love? Hermione deserved to be with someone who wasn't flawed, or broken. Still, maybe he could learn. Or maybe he was just making this whole thing out to be more than it really was. Maybe in time he'd know.

Harry sat at the base of an old oak tree by the edge of the lake and stared out over the water. He'd been out here since morning, thinking, trying to imagine what a future with Hermione might be like. For a moment he tried to imagine her with someone else, where he wasn't in her life, but he couldn't. It was getting dark and he had already missed dinner, and Harry knew Hermione would worry if he stayed out any longer. Still at a loss as to what to do exactly, Harry got up and headed for the castle, at least now he thought he understood the dream.


Right after entering the common room, Harry spotted Hermione sitting on the floor in front of the fire doing school work, no doubt working on a paper that wasn't even due for at least a week. He stopped and watched her for a moment. She had three different books open in front of her, parchment spread out, and a quill in her hand that she would occasionally chew on. She was in her realm. It was the essences of Hermione. The scene really wasn't all that different from the vision of her from the future. The fire light painted her face in soft warm tones, and put dancing catch lights in her eyes. It even gave her hair that same golden glow. Just like the future Hermione, this one was beautiful too.

Harry liked what he saw, he couldn't help but smile, it made him feel… warm inside. Harry cherished times like this, quiet times, alone with Hermione. He certainly enjoyed being in her company; more so than anyone else's. He liked holding her hand; he never knew skin could feel so soft. And when she hugged him…he always wished she'd hold him, just a little bit longer. And remembering the one kiss they had shared, the one he'd never forget… it left him blissful. That night, holding Hermione in his arms, he had never felt so contented, he remembered thinking how nice it would be if it could last forever…

Realization struck like a Bludger to the chest… he wanted that future.

But what if it was just his teenage hormones? No, if that were true, he'd feel that way around other girls as well. He had only kissed one other girl, Brigitte, and it was nowhere near the same. No quickening of the heart, or little butterflies in his stomach. There had been no excitement, no wanting to curse the air for needing to stop and breathe. `Plus, who did you think of, what face did you see?' his nagging little voice asked. Hermione… even now, just thinking of her made him smile like the famed Cheshire cat, and he realized just being around her made him happy. Holding her hand while they walked, put a dance in his step. He realized, he liked the way his heart raced when he was holding her.

Maybe that's what love is!

Could it be that simple? Harry could hardly breathe, the thought was so enlightening. It was only a short jump to the next one, did he love Hermione… Merlin, he thought he just might.

As Harry stared at Hermione, his heart was pounding so loud he thought she might hear it. The implications of this new found wisdom were just so incredible. Harry couldn't believe how blindly stupid he'd been not to see what was right in front of him all this time.

Suddenly, it was all so clear!

Getting married like in the dream wouldn't happen for a long time, he could think more about that later, but in the meantime…

Did he want to be her boyfriend? The idea certainly appealed to him, and now with his new clarity of thought, he was sure of it. She was pretty… no, she was beautiful, he corrected himself. Anybody who thought differently had only to think back to the Yule Ball. But it wasn't just her looks, she was the most caring person he knew. She was brilliant beyond compare, and had more courage than Gryffindor himself, Harry was sure of it. As beautiful on the outside as she was, she was even more beautiful on the inside.

That was the crux of the problem; did he want to be her boyfriend? Yes, there was no doubt about that now. Could he be her boyfriend, was he good enough for her? He didn't know, he certainly didn't think so… hell, nobody was. Not to mention, he didn't know the first thing about being a boyfriend, `I'd probably muck it up badly,' he thought dejectedly. Then again, maybe he was getting himself all worked up for nothing, maybe Hermione didn't even want a boyfriend.

As he moved further into the room, Hermione noticed him, and waved him over. Motioning for him to sit down, she asked quietly, "Hey, how are you feeling?"

Harry noticed she looked tired, the usual spark was absent from her eyes. "I'm okay," he answered evasively, he wasn't quite ready to reveal his newfound insights.

Hermione looked down and started to worry the edge of her parchment. "Oh," was all she said.

It only took Harry a second to figure out that Hermione wasn't tired, she was upset. He quickly ran through the day, trying to find the cause. Nothing came to him, but that was understandable since he hadn't been around all day… Again realization struck, only this time it felt like the Hogwarts Express. `How stupid can you get,' he thought. This was a perfect example of why he didn't think he would be a good boyfriend.

"Hermione… please look at me." Harry asked softly. And when she looked up, Harry said, "I'm so sorry. I've hurt your feelings again and I didn't mean to. I'm so stupid, I went off by myself without telling you why. I just needed to get away, and… It wasn't you, I…I just needed to…"

Hermione could tell Harry was panicking, and was starting to ramble, if she was going to find out what was bothering him she had to stop him from going on. Holding up her hand, she said, "Harry stop." His mouth snapped shut, and she smiled at how fast he reacted. "Harry, I… Oh Harry, I just want to help. Are you feeling better, did you work out whatever was bothering you?"

Calming down, Harry stared at her for a long moment and then thought, `Yeah, loads, I think I love you,' but instead, he asked simply, "Hermione, do you ever think about the future, have you ever dreamt about it?"

Hermione sat back, whatever she expected, this wasn't it. Harry never seemed to worry about the future before, why now? "Yes, sometimes. Are you worried about the future Harry?"

"No, well sometimes, but this isn't about…" Harry took a deep breath and let it out slowly, while gathering his thoughts. "What I mean is… when you think of the future, do you see yourself with anyone, you know… together?"

Hermione grew quiet and turned her eyes down to the floor, she was getting an idea of where Harry was trying to go with the conversation. She knew this conversation would come someday. Harry Potter was not only a handsome and powerful wizard, he was famous as well. Hermione had known this from pretty much the first year, and so when she started to develop romantic feelings for him, she buried them deep inside, knowing he'd never see her the same way she saw him. That had worked fairly well, and she was content just to be his best friend. When he kissed her at the Yule Ball, those feelings came rushing back with a vengeance, and now she was finding them nearly impossible to ignore. However, knowing she would never be more than just his friend, she had convinced herself that she should just enjoy the time and closeness spent together while it lasted. She knew, sooner or later he'd notice another girl, a girl far prettier than her, and slowly they would drift apart, and eventually he would forget her. She would then go on alone. Like before Hogwarts, she would live a quiet life of intellectual solitude. But just because she was resigned to that fate, didn't mean she welcomed it.

Hermione had hoped this wouldn't happen for at least another year or so, but it seemed she had underestimated him, and now their time would be cut short.

She was sure, he was about to tell her about a dream he had about some beautiful girl. He didn't know it; how could he, but he was about to break her heart. She fought to hold back the tears that threatened to fall, she'd do that for Harry. Later when she was alone… then she would let them go.

Hermione had been quiet for a long time and Harry began to worry, "Hermione?" When she looked up, the eyes that Harry loved so much told him something was desperately wrong. They were full of pain and sadness. Suddenly she looked so lost, and lonely. Why? Was it something he had said? Curse him a thousand times if he had. He moved closer, so he was sitting right in front of her, "Hermione?" he asked again softly.

"Yes Harry, I've thought about the future, and no, I'm not with… anyone." The last part coming out as barely a whisper, as her eyes again looked away.

Harry was shocked. Why? She could have her pick of most any guy around. He was so surprised, he asked without thinking, "Why not?"

Hermione sat rock still for a few seconds, then her shoulders slumped and she seemed to collapse in on herself. She let out a shaky breath, as if about to reveal a terrible secret. Apparently, this was something she had thought about before. It was something that bothered her a great deal, and she had kept it to herself, at least until now. Harry briefly thought of telling her it was alright, that it was none of his business, and that she didn't have to say anymore, but he wanted to know, he needed to know, and he thought that somehow, she needed to tell him.

"Because Harry, I know who I am. I'm the bossy little bookworm. The boring know-it-all, who would rather read a book than have any real fun. I'm plain, simple, and boring, the good friend you keep in the background. I don't think anyone would dream of a future with me."

Harry didn't hesitate, the words were out of his mouth almost before she had finished, "I would," Harry said softly.

Hermione turned quickly and stared at Harry with wide eyes, pinning him in place with a intensity he rarely saw. "What?"

"I would," he said again, with a little more conviction.

Hermione closed her eyes and shook her head. She knew he was only trying to be nice, but to hear him say something like that, hurt far more than he could know, "Harry, please don't say things you don't really mean."

Harry reach out with one hand and gently took one of hers, and with his other he reached up and cupped her face gently, forcing her to look at him, "Hermione I meant it. I would… and I have."

Hermione stared back at him, and Harry saw the pain and sadness slowly turn to hope. The look of loneliness started to fade, as the spark in her eyes relit. Without waiting for anything else to be said, Harry leaned in and brushed his lips against hers. Her breath caught just a little, but she didn't pull away and she closed her eyes. He press them more fully to hers. Hermione moved a hand up to the back of his neck, and gently pulled him closer, encouraging him to deepen the kiss. Remembering the kiss they had shared at the Ball, he opened his mouth a little, encouraging her to do the same, and they tasted each other for the first time since Christmas.

The kiss was both tender and passionate at the same time. It showed the deep respect and love they had for each other in its tenderness, and the desire to fulfill the other's greatest dream in its passion.

A few moments later they broke apart, but only a bit, as they rested their foreheads against each other. They stared at each other, neither quite believing what had just happened. Hermione saw the truth in his eyes, but was so overwhelmed with emotion, she just had to make sure… "Harry… did you mean to do that?" She whispered.

Harry brought his other hand up and gently held her face. Using his thumbs, he softly wiped away the tears on her cheek as he nodded he head yes with a bright smile.

Hermione smiled back, and a moment later she pulled back a little more and asked with a shy smile, "Did you really dream of me?"

Harry colored a little, "Actually, I dreamt of kissing you."

Hermione liked the sound of that, so this time she leaned in, and they shared their second kiss of the night. She was amazed at how natural it was already beginning to fell… kissing Harry. After they parted, she asked, "Harry, what does all this mean? The dreaming, the kissing…" She ducked her head a moment, before looking back up, red in the cheeks. "What you said, does it mean you want us to be… together, like a couple?"

Harry answered again without hesitating, "Yeah, I'd like that. Is that something you might want?" He asked hopefully.

Hermione sat back a bit and thought, her brow crinkled, and her lips pressed tight, but it only lasted a fraction of a second. She didn't think she had ever come to a conclusion so fast before. Never in her wildest dreams, did she think she'd have a boyfriend, and certainly not Harry Potter! Smiling, she realized that this was what had him so preoccupied lately, he'd obviously given this a lot of thought. He was serious, he wasn't just saying all this to be nice.

Hermione's smile seemed to reach from ear to ear, "I'd like that very much."

Harry smile grew also, "Then… I have a girlfriend?"

Hermione nodded, "You do." Then in a flurry of action, Hermione swept books, parchment, quill and all, into her book bag. Jumping up, she began pacing in front of the fireplace, a ball of excited energy. Pure Hermione. "Merlin… Harry Potter is my boyfriend," she said as she stopped and turned to face him, "you're my boyfriend!" She said, still a little astonished by the fact.

Harry couldn't blame her for being a little disconcerted, after all it had happened pretty fast, and he'd had a few days to come to grips with it. Harry stood up chuckling and nodded, "I am."

Hermione almost giggled she was so excited, she wanted to tell everyone the fantastic news. `Oh… Ginny,' as soon as she thought of her she stopped pacing, and Hermione's enthusiasm diminished, and of course, Harry noticed.

"Hermione?" He asked, as he stood and walked over to her.

"Harry, you know Ginny fancies you," Hermione said, part question, part statement.

"Well, I wasn't really sure… but yeah I kind of thought… maybe, but what does that…"

"Nothing Harry, it doesn't change a thing about us, but she's my friend Harry, I need to tell her. She deserves to know."

"Then, we'll tell her together."

Hermione's smile returned, she was really beginning to like that word.

Now, she just stood in front of him staring up into his eyes, smiling, and Harry thought it was a beautiful sight. Her happiness and joy was so easy to see. It radiated out from her, and warmed the room. It made everything around her, brighter… and more alive.

Harry would have loved to have stayed there with her all night just holding her, but it was already past midnight. He also knew, she need a little time to process their new status. He reached out and touched her arm, "It's late… we should turn in." Hermione nodded. "Do you think I could get a hug goodnight?" He asked sheepishly.

Hermione didn't bother to answer, she just stepped forward and wrapped her arms around him. "Harry, you're my boyfriend now, you don't have to ask," she said gently, as she rested her head against his chest.

"Oh…" Was all he said as he wondered what else came with that privilege. He smiled at the thought that he couldn't wait to find out.



AN: I would like to give credit to MissAnn Thorpic for her story "Vox Corporis"; it was very inspirational for me, in writing this chapter.




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