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: I hate it when work interferes with my writing. Also, thanks for reading this, and to all of you who reviewed.



Chapter 15

The Meaning of a Touch


Harry knew he wasn't perfect, not by any stretch of the imagination. When he came to Hogwarts, he was timid and unsure, the Dursleys saw to that. But even back then without trying, Harry had stood out. He had an unwavering moral compass that just couldn't seem to let an injustice go unchallenged. Really, all he wanted was to fit in, and be normal for a change, but soon after arriving fate showed him she had other plans. Ron wasn't a bad bloke, not really, but he did have a habit of saying things without thinking, sometimes hurtful. His red hair seemed a perfect match for his fiery temper, which more often than not got him into trouble. Still, he had been his first friend, and at the time a much needed one. Hermione too, had issues. It wasn't so much as being a bookworm, or a know-it-all, but rather she just didn't know how to interact with kids her own age. She acted more like an adult, than an eleven-year-old girl. Hermione tended to use her knowledge as a weapon, and her books as a shield. She was a bossy little girl with no apparent friends.

It was those three unique individuals and their personalities that Fate had brought together that first October, three misfits as Hagrid liked to call them. At first they seemed to balance each other out; one calm and rational, the other, excited and impulsive. One insensitive, the other caring. One bossy and rule abiding, the other easy going and quick to forget the rules. That was the glue that welded their friendship. However, time has a way of changing people, including children. By the end of third year, that balance had seemed to tip. Harry had learned to open up and talk to his friends, which lead to him gaining confidence. While Hermione stopped acting so bossy, and started enjoying being a kid. She learned she could trust her friends as much or even more than adults. But Ron never found a way to curb his temper. It seemed the older he got, the nastier his remarks, and the longer he'd stay mad.

Harry had already started to see those changes in Ron, but what surprised him was, he hadn't noticed Hermione's or his. It would seem the balance point had slipped from between the three of them to a point between him and Hermione. Harry still wanted Ron as a friend and was willing to work for it, but there were limits. Hermione's friendship however, was different. He'd do more than just work for it, he'd fight for it. There were no limits, because she meant that much more to him.


Harry felt the foot of his bed dip just a little, and for a moment thought Hermione might have sneaked in to wake him. A second later a soft rumbling told him who was really there. "Hello Crookshanks, time to get up already?" It seemed Hermione's personal four-legged alarm clock had decided to add him to the wake-up call list. He gave the ginger cat a quick scratch behind the ears and then pulled the covers back and started to get ready for their morning run. If Crookshanks was here, that meant that Hermione was already up. Harry made every effort to hurry, he was anxious to see her. He wondered briefly about what to say. `Hello babe,' Merlin no. `Good morning honey,' nope, too… weird. Should he give her a good morning kiss, or just a hug? He didn't know. By the time Harry was ready, he still had no idea as to how to act or what to say, so in the end he decided to just try and act normal. He would ask Hermione what she thought about it later.

Hermione had been sitting down in the common room since it was barely light, composing a letter to Harry. She had drifted off to sleep last night well past midnight, but still found herself awake earlier than normal. Her regular dreams replaced by the memory of Harry kissing her in front of the fire last night. A memory so strong it woke her, refusing to stay in just her subconscious. It seemed too incredible to believe, but he had asked her to be his girlfriend. He wanted to be with her, in the same way she wanted to be with him. She could still feel his touch, and already longed to be in his arms again. The feel of his lips on hers… his kiss, it sent a tidal wave of sensation through her that curled her toes and left her wanting more.

Dressed in her exercise clothes, she sat and waited patiently for Harry with a smile on her face as she remembered last night. She could hardly wait to see Harry again. Crookshanks came running down the stairs and jumped up on the couch next to her, obviously looking for some attention, which she was more than willing to give. "Hello boy, did you manage to wake Harry?" Crookshanks just gave her a look that clearly said she should never doubt his feline abilities. Hermione laughed softly, "Well okay then, thank you."

With the thought of Harry coming down any minute now, Hermione couldn't help feel a bit anxious all of a sudden. What would he do when he saw her…? What should she do? Now that she was his girlfriend, how was she supposed to act? A bit of da-ja-vu as she remembered meeting him the morning after the Ball. Crookshanks gave a soft mew and pawed her hand. Hermione looked down and saw the letter she had written and smiled. She'd wait and see and then play it by ear. Actions were better than words, and so for now she'd let his guide hers. Like she had said in her letter, no matter what, they'd always be friends.

Harry stopped on the last landing on his way down to the common room and looked down. Hermione was sitting on the couch with what looked like some school work on her lap. Her head was back and her eyes were closed. Crookshanks was curled up next to her enjoying a scratch. She had her hair pulled back into a pony-tail, and she was wearing her running clothes. But it was the smile on her face that stole his breath away, she looked so happy. Harry couldn't help but smile too, it was that infectious. Harry thought back to last night and remembered how shocked he had been, that she thought no one would want to be with her. And then even more surprising, that she had been harboring feeling for him! Looking at her now, he saw her in a new light. Relaxed and unguarded; a sight most would never see, and yet one he'd seen many times before only because he bothered to look. Now however, he saw just how beautiful and special she really was. He still found it hard to believe that anyone as perfect as her could have feeling for someone like him.

Hermione looked up just then and found Harry smiling at her. He noticed and came down the rest of the way into the room and stopped a couple of feet in front of her as she stood to meet him. Her plan to just play it by ear flew out the window as they just stood and stared into each other's eyes. He seemed as lost as she was, on how to proceed. She realized, he almost certainly knew less about relationships than she did, which wasn't much unfortunately. Harry was obviously searching for something to say.

Hermione chewed her bottom lip, also desperate to find something to say to ease the tension.

That simple act was so Hermione, Harry couldn't help but give her a timid smile.

That was all it took, they were back on familiar ground. This was the Harry she knew so well… her Harry… yes, she could call him that now, and she smiled at the thought. She took the last couple of steps and stood right in front of him returning his growing smile with one of her own. Standing there, she admired him; her boyfriend, `That will take some getting used to,' she thought. He had grown, both taller and broader since the start of term, it was okay for her to notice things like that now.

The brief ungainly moment of insecurity and indecision about the morning after had passed. Harry looked down and reached for her hand and laced his fingers with hers.

Hermione beamed up at him. The awkwardness had only lasted a few seconds; no words were needed, because they knew how they felt. Together they turned and left for their run.


On their way to breakfast later that morning Harry finally asked Hermione what he had been thinking about during their run. Taking her hand, he pulled her to the side of the hall, "Hermione…"

"Yes," she answered, as she slowed to a stop. She could tell by the tone of his voice that something was troubling him.

"I was wondering…" Harry glanced around to make sure no one was within listening range. "I was… wondering…"

Hermione moved a little closer, hoping to encourage him.

"The other night, when I… kissed you."

Hermione smiled involuntarily, but a moment later it faded as her insecurities made a showing, "Oh, Harry… please don't say… you don't regret that…"

"No!" Harry almost shouted, "no of course not. Just the opposite actually," his finished a little more quietly.

Hermione's smile returned as her cheeks reddened slightly. Tilting her head, she asked, "Then what?"

"I'd like to do that again, but… I'm not sure..." Harry ran a hand though his already impossibly messy hair, "I don't know what's appropriate, I… I don't want to embarrass you, or make you mad…" Harry sighed and looked down, "I don't know when it's okay to… or even when I can just touch you," he finished lamely.

Hermione smiled, he was so sweet. Harry had known so little of kindness growing up, and yet he showed it so easily. So courageous and yet he was afraid of upsetting her. "Harry, I think you already know." At his confused look, she glanced down at their joined hands.

Harry looked down too and nodded, but she knew he was still uncertain. "Harry, would you be comfortable snogging in the Great Hall during dinner in front of everybody?"

Harry turned red and shook his head, "No."

"Neither would I," Hermione said softly. "But I certainly wouldn't mind holding your hand, or having your arm around me while we sat together." Catching his eye she went on, "I'm not a big fan of making a big public display, but I'm not afraid or ashamed of showing some affection to someone I care deeply about. I don't want the professors to get mad at us, and I don't really want to be talked about like Ron and Lavender… but the rest is probably okay."

Harry looked a little relieved, "Yeah?"

"Yeah," Hermione answered with a coy smile. Then after looking up and down the hall, she smirked, "Harry, do you want to kiss me now?"

Harry caught on; Hermione liked the idea of kissing as much as he did, she just wanted it to be more personal, and more private. So Harry too looked up and down the hall, and after finding it clear, answered in barely a whisper, "Yes, I do…"

The kiss wasn't as passionate as the one last night; they were out in an open hallway after all, but it still sent shivers down her spine. "Any more questions Harry?"

Harry just shook his head no. Who would have known, there was a bit of a minx in his Hermione.

After one more stolen kiss, they figured they had pushed their luck far enough for the time being. It seemed they had quickly gotten passed another awkward step in their new relationship. Content for now, they walked hand in hand the rest of the way to the Great Hall. Just before entering, Hermione turned towards Harry and gave him a nervous look.

Harry squeezed her hand, telling her it would be alright. He knew Hermione was worried Ginny might make a scene when they broke the news to her. As they pushed through the main doors, he let go of her hand, but he stayed close. He didn't want to get Ginny riled up any sooner than necessary. He also knew she was as proud to be his girlfriend as he was to be her boyfriend, she just didn't want them to be the center of a spectacle.

Walking in, they spotted Ginny sitting with a group of friends. They stopped opposite her, and Hermione got her attention. "Ginny, you got a minute, we need to tell you something."

Ginny looked up with a smile on her face, "Sure"

Hermione ticked her head to the right, towards an empty spot further down the table.

Ginny glanced left, then back at Hermione. That's when she noticed Harry's stance, He was braced for a fight… But with who? Ginny's smile was replaced with a more serious look, "What's this about?"

"Ginny Please."

Ginny eyed them both suspiciously for a moment, as if expecting a prank, then realizing they were serious, she stood up, "Fine."

The first thing Ginny noticed after she sat down again, was how close Harry and Hermione were sitting to each other. The only way Hermione could get closer, was if she sat in his lap.

"Ginny, I… we wanted to…" Hermione hesitated. She looked down at the table to gather her thoughts, and a moment later looked back up. This time though, there was a look of determination in her eyes. She no longer looked hesitant, or unsure. "Ginny, do you remember that talk we had in the library a couple of months ago, about not wanting to fight?"

The tips of Ginny's ears turned red. She might have gotten over her shyness around Harry, but she sure didn't want to talk about her feelings for him while he was sitting right in front of her. Ginny nodded yes, not quite trusting her voice.

"Ginny I still don't want to fight… but things have changed."

Ginny's embarrassment slowly turned to anger, "Is that so, changed how exactly?" She demanded.

Suddenly, Harry felt angry; he didn't like the sound of her tone.

Hermione sighed, "I told you I'd figure out my feelings, and"

"And as soon as you did, you ran straight to Harry. You knew that I…"

"Stop it!" Harry said forcefully. Ginny was working up to a full head of steam, one that he had seen far too many times with Ron. Harry hoped to douse that famous Weasley temper, before it caught fire. "I don't know anything about this fight you're both talking about," Harry started, before calming down a little, "but I do know that Hermione didn't come to me about her feelings."

"So you're telling me you're not together?"

Harry smiled for the first time since sitting down, "Ginny, I started thinking about the future, I…" Harry paused to rethink what he wanted to say. "I started thinking about what was important to me," Harry turned and smiled at Hermione, "and I realized… that it was her. That she was more important to me than anything, or anyone else."

Ginny stared back at Harry, hoping he really didn't mean what he had just said. A moment later, she looked away. She might not have been able to read him as well as Hermione, but she could see the truth clearly enough for herself… Harry had meant every word. Even though she knew Harry hadn't meant them too, they had stung nonetheless.

Harry might not have known the specifics of the conversation in the library, but he could tell it had something to do with him and their feelings about him. Maybe Hermione had promised to let Ginny talk to him first, or maybe she had said she didn't care about him that way. Whatever had been said, Ginny was acting as if Hermione had lied to her. "Ginny, it was me who asked her… I asked Hermione to be my girlfriend," Harry finished softly.

Hermione leaned forward, "Ginny, you are my best friend, best girlfriend that is," she reached over and took both her hands, "I can feel Ron slipping away, I don't want to lose you too. Please try to understand." Hermione sat patiently staring back at Ginny hoping she'd understand, and more importantly, hoping she didn't feel betrayed.

Ginny sat silently as she tried to read Hermione. Like with Harry, it only took a moment and she knew that also like Harry, she was telling the truth. Besides the truth and determination, Ginny saw something else in Hermione's eyes, and it reminded her just why her friend was in the House of Lions in the first place.

Ginny looked down, "So, he asked you and you figured it out, and now you're his girlfriend?"


Ginny pulled her hands free and sat back with a tiny huff. She wanted to be mad. She wanted to yell at Hermione and call her all kinds of inappropriate things… but she couldn't. She knew; had known for a long time now, that they would eventually get together. She had known that Harry and Hermione loved each other even though they themselves didn't. Ginny had only hoped, to at least have had a chance for herself before they realized it.

Ginny finally cracked a small smile, "I guess it was only a matter of time… right?" Seeing both smile back, she added with a smirk, "What I don't get is… how is it that Harry, figured it out first?"

Hey!" Harry objected.

"Thank you Gin," Hermione said softly.

"So, when did all this happen? Oh wait… Valentine's Day?"

Hermione laughed, "No, Harry asked me last night, that's why we're telling you now, thought it only right you should know first." After glancing at Harry, "Not sure exactly when he figured it out."

Ginny nodded, "And you?"

Still smiling, Hermione shrugged her shoulders, "A while ago, but like before, I didn't think I had a chance."

Harry looked at Hermione funny, wondering what she meant by that.

Ginny huffed, "Boys! They're so thick sometimes. He should have asked you on Valentine's Day, now that would have been romantic.

"Hey!" Harry said again, then mumbled, "I'm right here you know."

Hermione looped her arm through Harry's and smiled at him before turning back to Ginny. "Maybe, but it was still a great day, and he did give me a very special card."

Ginny sat up, "Really, do you still have it?"

Hermione looked at Harry and raised a brow in question.

Harry just smiled shyly, and shrugged.

Hermione reached into her book bag, pulled out the card, and handed it to Ginny.



Dear Hermione,

They say that Valentines' Day, is a day of romance; that it is a day about love.

Maybe, we should have more days like that.

I wouldn't know, I don't have any experience with that sort of thing.

What I do know is:

I love the way your eyes light up, when you learn something new.

I love how you are always willing to help someone, especially me.

You give so much of yourself, and ask nothing in return.

Thank you, for all you have given me.

I love how you always stand by me; right or wrong.

That you have that much faith in me…is astounding.

I love your fierce courage, and your unquestionable honesty.

But most of all Hermione,

I love that you Trust me… Always,

And call me your Friend… Forever.

I can only hope, that I will somehow manage to be,

As good a friend in return.

With Love, Always and Forever




After Ginny read the card, she just stared at it for a moment before handing it back and saying in a low soft voice, "I never stood a chance, did I?" Then she turned to Harry, "That was beautiful Harry." She stared at him for just a second longer before adding, "I'm glad you're happy."

Harry laced his fingers with Hermione's and squeezed as he answered, "Thank you."

Ginny smiled, but her eyes told a different story, "Congratulations." She stood up, but before she left, she looked at Hermione and said, "Just remember what you told me in the library, about hurting Harry."

Hermione nodded, "Fair enough."

Harry watched Ginny walk away, then turned to Hermione, "The library?"

Hermione nodded with a half-smile, "Later, okay? Then smirked, "Right now I'm staved." Then after a glance back to Ginny, she knew she'd be having another talk later with her red-headed friend. Hermione had seen it in her eyes; Ginny had put on a good front, going so far as to make a joke, but Hermione knew there was more that needed to be said before they could all move on.


"Hey, how's breakfast?" Neville asked as he slid his legs over the bench and sat down next to Luna.

Luna turned, "I've only just sat down, so I'm afraid I don't know yet," she answered matter-of-factly.

Neville nodded, it was a fair enough answer for Luna. "What were you thinking about?"

"Just now, or before?"

"Ah… a couple of minutes ago, I saw you smiling just as I came in."

"Oh yes… that. I was just thinking how happy I was for them."

Neville glanced around, "Who?"

"Harry and Hermione, it's finally started," Luna answered without looking up, as she prepared a plate of food.

Neville looked back over at the Gryffindor table and studied the couple in question. "They do look cozy," then raising a brow, "oh… are they together now?"

"Yes, that too," Luna said between bites.

Neville turned back and now studied Luna, not quite sure what they were talking about all of a sudden.

Luna looked up at him and smiled. Neville shrugged and smiled back as he reached for a plate to make himself something to eat. He'd figure it out later, sometimes you just had to be patient with Luna, the answers would come eventually.


As they made their way up from the dungeons after potions, Harry shook his head, "That git sure likes making everyone write essays."

Hermione laughed, "That he does," then with a smirk she added, "I wonder how much he likes reading them?" They walked on for a moment longer before she said, "To bad it's dark out, I'm not quite ready to head back to the common room yet. I could use a break before starting that report."

Harry chuckled, "Oi, I'm a bad influence, one day as my girlfriend, and you're already skiving off school work."

Hermione bumped into him and forgot to move away. Wrapping her arm around his waist as they walked on slowly, she countered, "Don't be a prat, you're not a bad influence. It'll get done later, right now I'd just like to relax with my boyfriend."

Harry liked that. "Hey, here's a thought: we could stop by the kitchens and tell Dobby, I think he saw this coming," Harry said with a laugh.

"Great idea, it's on the way anyway."

Entering the kitchens, Harry spotted Dobby right away, but something was off. He was sitting alone at a small table looking vary uncharacteristically sad.

Harry studied his little friend for a moment before moving forward and asking, "Dobby, is something wrong? You look a little unhappy." Their good news could wait.

Dobby wronged his hands together and started to tear up, "Harry Potter sir is a great wizard, he be worried about Dobby."

"Dobby, what is it," Harry could see he was really getting upset now.

"Please tell us Dobby, we only want to help," added Hermione.

"Just like her Harry Potter sir, Miss Grangy is a great witch..." Dobby couldn't quite finish as he broke down, and started to cry.

After a couple of minutes, Harry had managed to calm Dobby down enough, to find out what was bothering him.

"... and she is so unhappy, she is drinking all the time. Dobby not knows what to do," he choked, once more on the verge of tears.

Harry and Hermione shared a look, Ginny had told them what Mr. Crouch had done to his elf Winky at the end of the World Cup, but they hadn't known that it was this bad.

"That's terrible Dobby," Hermione said softly, but the anger in her voice was plain to hear. She hated the way house-elves were treated, and here was a perfect example to prove her point. Getting down on her knees, she took one of Dobby's hands and held it gently as she continued, "I'll talk to Dumbledore, and see what can be done, okay?" Hermione promised. "You're a good friend Dobby, and she's probably feeling all alone, so just try and continue to be there for her. Let her know, that she's not alone, that she has friends."

"And Dobby," Harry picked up, "keep an eye on her, if she is drinking, she's vulnerable. You have to keep her safe... protect her."

Dobby seemed to become more serious as he thought about that. Wiping the last of the tears from his face with the back of his hands, Dobby nodded quickly, "Dobby can do that. Yes, keep her safe." Then remembering who he was with, he looked up, his gaze shifting between Harry and Hermione, "Yous are both good friends to Dobby, and I thinks now to Winki too."

Hermione nodded, "We'd like that," she said as she looked up at Harry.

Harry was already nodding yes, "Perhaps, after you have a talk with her, we can all sit down and find a way to make things better for her."

Dobby was smiling again, "Dobby would like that."


Wednesday night in the common room at this hour was fairly quiet, seeing as most everyone had gone to bed by now. Classes would start early tomorrow. Harry put the finishing touches on his potion's essay and then looked it over. At one and a half feet, it was pretty good for him. After putting it and his book away, he looked over at the only other person still up and smiled. Hermione's essay was at least twice as long. He couldn't be sure, but he thought Hermione might have gone to such lengths just to annoy Professor Snape.

Hermione stopped writing for a minute. Tapping her quill on the table, her face scrunched up, brows knit together… she was obviously deep in thought about what to write next. It was Hermione in study mode, focused, driven. Harry had seen it many times, but it didn't stop him from watching her. Harry loved to watch her. He couldn't remember when he first started doing it, but he did remember the first time he'd been caught. He had been lost in thought watching her, and Hermione looked up suddenly and caught him staring. However, instead of getting mad at him, she simple smiled and went back to her work. It seemed she didn't mind his occasional silent observations. He certainly hadn't minded the few times he had caught her staring.

It was a simple unspoken agreement they shared just between them… It was okay to look.

Deciding she was through for the night, Hermione laid her quill down and closed her book. Looking up, she found Harry staring at her. A soft smile spread across her face. Had it been Ron or Neville, or anyone else for that matter, she would have found it creepy and un-nerving, but not so with Harry. With him, she didn't mind, she actually kind of liked it… he was thinking of her. She had granted that privilege to him, just as he had to her. A small guilty little pleasure they allowed only to each other.

Her school work now completely forgotten, Hermione got up and moved to sit by him on the couch. Harry leaned back and lifted his arm, inviting her to sit close. Hermione tucked in under his arm and leaned against him, her head resting on his shoulder. Harry wrapped his arm around her and gave her a gentle squeeze, pulling her close.

Hermione brought her hand up and laid it on his chest, fingers spaded wide. As she sat there thinking, she subconsciously slowly curled her fingers, only to relax them again a second later, kneading his chest.

Harry noticed an errant strand of lose hair running across her cheek, treating to tickle her nose. With his free hand he reached over and tucked back behind her ear.

Hermione sighed, "I'm so glad we can do this now."

Harry gave her another squeeze.

"I like holding you; I always feel better when I can touch you," Hermione whispered.

"You're the only one who does you know," Harry said just as softly.

Hermione's hand froze and she stiffened slightly, "Does it bother you… that I do." Harry had such a gentle soul, she had forgotten that he hadn't grown up in a loving home like she had. Where hugs were given freely out of kindness, and a touch was meant to convey love and concern. To Harry, a touch meant something entirely different. He had been conditioned from his past for it to mean pain. When she thought about it, Hermione was actually a little surprised he allowed it at all.


Hermione relaxed marginally.

"I don't like it when other people… but I don't mind you doing it."

Hermione briefly pictured Harry getting hugged by Mrs. Weasley, and now it made more sense; the look on his face… it was panic. Harry tolerated it only in the smallest amounts. "Are you sure Harry, because I don't want to make you…?"

"Hermione it's okay. I don't know why it is different with you, but I do know I don't mind. I like holding your hand, and getting hugs. I like sitting close to you and holding you in my arms. I like your touch." Harry laid his head down on top of hers, "I think I'd go spare without it."

Hermione stretched her arm father around him and pulled him tight. She couldn't believe how incredibly sad it made her feel to think, that at the age of fourteen, he was only now learning to enjoy the comfort that the touch of another could bring.


By the end of the week, Harry and Hermione had settled into their new relationship as if they'd been a couple for years. Hermione knew it was because they had been friends, good friends for such a long time. Over the years, they had developed a level of thrust and understanding that was unmatched by anyone she knew. They knew each other better than they knew themselves, and yet she still marveled at the ease they felt together.

Harry looked up from his potion's book to find Hermione staring at him with a huge smile plastered on her face. "What?" he asked with a smile of his own.

Hermione just shook her head slightly, "Nothing… I'm just happy"

Harry closed his book and went over to her. He took both her hands in his and gave her a gentle kiss, "I am too," he said softly.

"Oi, and I thought Ron and Lavender were bad," Seamus said laughing.

"Oh please, we are nothing like Ron and Lavender," Hermione said indignantly with a shy smile.

Seamus came closer, "Yeah, s'pose not," he said nodding, "They're gross. You guys on the other hand are…just so nice, and err, sweet." Harry smiled while Hermione raised a brow. Seamus laughed, "It's a good thing your father is a dentist."

"Well, no worries then," Harry said laughing.

"Did you want something, or are you just trying to sweeten your sour day?" Hermione said with a smirk.

"Actually, if you must know, I'm here to talk with Harry," Seamus started, "The last recreational Quidditch game is coming up. Everyone wants to know if you are going to sign up, I said I'd ask."

Harry stood up, and suddenly the atmosphere wasn't quite so cheerful.

Hermione rose and stood to his right and slightly behind, looping her arm around his in a show of support. She knew this was a sensitive subject for Harry, and that he'd want to decide on his own how to handle it. Either way, she'd back him.

Harry stole a quick glance at Hermione, grateful that she was there. He could tell, she knew he wanted to take care of this by himself, but he was glad she was there nevertheless, in case he needed her. Harry saw it in her eyes and her silence.

Harry stared at Seamus for a moment, who seemed uncomfortable with the scrutiny. Finally, Harry asked, "Why?"

Seamus blinked, "Huh…Why what?"

"Why do they care?" Harry asked nonchalantly, "why should I?" Harry paused a moment, "What's changed?"

It took a second, but now Seamus knew what Harry meant, and he kicked himself mentally for not seeing it before he had asked. While most no longer thought Harry had cheated and lied his way into the tournament, back then they did. They had used his love of the game and flying against him by denying him a chance to play. They had said some really terrible things not only about him, but to his face. Seamus thanked the powers to be, that he was not there that day, and that he had finally seen the truth and apologized to Harry. As far as he knew, none of the other students there that day had ever come forth and even attempted to say they were sorry.

Seamus nodded in understanding, "So, no I take it. Guess I can't really blame you…some real berks, that lot."

Harry smiled even though he was still a tiny bit upset, "Tell them… Thanks for thinking of me, but no." Slipping his arm around Hermione and tugging her close, Harry finished while looking down at her, "Tell them I have other… more important concerns now."




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