Players: Madelyn Knight (Harry) and Amethyst (Hermione)
Disclaimer: JK owns the Harry Potter property, WB leases it. No money is made from the production or distribution of this work. This is in no way acknowledged, affiliated, or endorsed by the copyright holder(s). Used in accordance with Fair Use.
He woke up with a blinding migraine. Considering the circumstances, this was not really a change of pace. When factoring in the situation, it was a marvel that he was alive to feel any pain whatsoever. Everything had happened so quickly the night before, and it wasn't merely the Goblet's doing. Sure, getting chosen to participate in the tournament was a serious shock, but nothing compared to what occurred when he had gone for a walk after curfew, hoping to clear the chaos from his brain. Who could he tell that wouldn't think him a raving loon? No one, really. Most of the school seemed rather intent on hating him anyhow at the moment, and this would do nothing but give them more ammunition. After going through the motions of morning routine, Harry quickly made his way into the common room, hoping to find even one friendly face among the hostility.
She looked up as Harry walked into the common room. Briefly, the events of last night replayed in her head. It must have been tough for Harry. The Gryffindors had been pretty welcoming, but the other houses most certainly hadn't. Ron, however, had not been at all happy about it, and Hermione imagined, knowing Ron, that he and Harry had been through a good argument last night. She took a closer look at him. He seemed taller today, rather not what she expected, all things considered. She wondered if he would come to her, or if she would have to chase him down. She waited to find out.
He was grateful now for having glasses and occasional wild strands of hair to obscure his eyes. From what the mirror told him, they were a bit unsettling. A soft crimson shone in the pupils, like a living example of camera red-eye. Seeing Hermione sitting in the far corner of the common room, Harry slowly made his way over, hoping that a certain someone's bitterness had not become infectious. Once at her side, he cleared his throat and spoke, "Good morning... Hermione." His throat felt a bit raw, and he was certain dark circles crept below his eyes. "Well, lack of anything resembling sleep and pain will do that," Harry thought bitterly to himself.
She breathed a sigh of relief and gave him the brightest smile she could muster. "Good morning, Harry." She quickly gave up her cheerful façade and let her concern show. "Are you all right, Harry?" He looked very tired. She wondered how long it took him to get to sleep the night before. Well, she had to know. Without waiting for a response to her last question, she inquired, "Did you and Ron have a fight last night?" The moment the words were out, she regretted being so abrupt, but it wasn't as though she could take it back.
Well, that was the usual amount of bluntness one should expect from Hermione. His body tensed as he answered, "Yeah. You could say we had a very big, very silent fight." Not wanting to continue down that path of discussion his eyes trailed to the door and then back to her, "Want to head to the Great Hall now? I think you're the only one that wants to have breakfast with me today." His head was pounding, and it took every bit of focus not to collapse on the chair with her and slip into blessed darkness. But a stubborn will kept him standing, and even moving towards the room's exit with moderate balance.
Silently cursing herself for lack of subtlety, she followed Harry toward the exit. He looked a little off-balance, wobbly even, as though he was on the borderline of having drank too much. Frowning, she asked, "Harry, are you all right? Er -- as far as your health goes, that is," she added, realizing how stupid the question sounded. Of course he wasn't all right.
He opened portrait for Hermione, letting her exit first. It was a small gesture, but one that felt both odd and familiar. Probably a result of the incident. Until the chorus of confusion within his mind cleared, he could only guess at such things. Noting her question he answered with as much honesty as dared, "I didn't get any sleep last night, between the silent treatment and tournament nerves. This tournament is not something I'm looking forward to... at all." Instinct told him there was something desperately wrong with the whole situation, but further examination would have to wait until after breakfast. His eyes scanned back and forth along the corridor as they walked, as if looking for some unknown threat.
She exited the common room, smiling inwardly at Harry's chivalry. Even when his life royally stunk, he'd be a true Gryffindor about it. Just as she guessed, he didn't sleep. She wished there was something more she could do for him. Of course, she would do anything she could to help him through the Tournament. Perhaps the rules stated that the Champions weren't supposed to receive outside help, but Harry was definitely an exception. She noticed him glancing around the corridors, as if watching for something. He must have thought of it, too. "Harry," she asked, "Do you think someone put your name in with the intention of getting you hurt?"
He answered without thinking, "Yes." The resolute and deep sound of his own voice startled him a bit, and he was quite grateful they had just come to the Great Hall. Seeing that his and Hermione's idea of a decent hour was not shared by others, he politely opened the huge door for her. The Hall was almost empty, with only Albus, Hooch, Snape, and a few Hufflepuffs milling about the tables. He ignored the dirty looks and waited for Hermione to be seated first.
That wasn't surprising. Harry must have realized right away that this was just another set-up. She sighed inaudibly. This was going to be one long year. She sat down at the Gryffindor table, feeling slightly uncomfortable around the Hufflepuffs. She sat up straight, nevertheless. She was loyal to Harry, and if she was the only one who could see that he obviously didn't put his name in that Goblet, then so be it. Harry had never done anything than try to stay out of harm's way; how could nobody else see that? She glanced over at Harry, suddenly feeling very sorry for him. It was then that she decided to stick right by him, regardless of Ron, the other houses, anything. The only one or not, she wouldn't desert him.
There was something painfully familiar about the look she gave him just then, it reached around his heart and made breathing a bit ragged and labored. Hermione had a look of absolute loyalty and friendship, as though she would follow him to the gallows if need be, one foot after the other. Harry gently took her hand in his (praying she wouldn't mind) and simply said, "Thanks." His voice still had that same deep, commanding quality to it, which unnerved him a bit. He was used to a slightly higher pitch, and not near as much certainty. After a moment, Harry slipped his hand away and went to the business of getting much needed nourishment.
Shoot. He was going to make her cry, and she hated crying in public. He must have seen the look she gave him and known. She was oddly touched by this, just knowing that Harry appreciated having her there, and that he realized just what she would do for him. She smiled at him, thinking how much older he sounded suddenly, and at the same time, more confident, which she certainly couldn't comprehend. She gave him one last look before turning back to her breakfast, starting to feel distinctly uneasy about her fourth year.
As he ate, flashes of hazy memories played out in his mind. The visions were getting clearer, but certainly not any easier to understand. If anything, clarity made the scenes even more surreal. He finished the meal quickly, leaning forward and rubbing his temples in tight little circles. Everything was slowly sliding into place, and his body hurt even more. Something told him this growth spurt was far from over. Hearing the first sounds of students entering the Hall, Harry got up and offered his hand to Hermione, "I'm going to head out to the library for a while, care to join me?"
She watched him rub his temples, wondering if his head was hurting again, and if lack of sleep was his only problem. Almost unconsciously, she agreed to go to the library with him and took his hand. Perhaps she could steer him off to the hospital wing instead. "What is it, Harry?" she asked him, rather not caring if she was nagging him. "Is it your head?"
"It's not the scar, it's just an overwhelming desire for sleep has left me with a migraine," he answered in an honest tone. All right, it wasn't the full story- but it was still true. Deciding the Gryffindor common room was more comfortable than the library for rest, he offered, "Actually, I would like to take a quick nap in the common room, if you don't mind. I don't suppose you have business more pressing than making certain I don't roll off the couch and crack my head on the floor?" Harry gave a genuine, warm smile that etched dimples along his cheeks (a bit deeper than they had been before last night).
She grinned. "Come on; let's get you back to the common room. Perhaps you should just go up to the dormitory and sleep -- it's not as if we've got anything else to do today. And from the looks of it, you really need the sleep." Hermione took his arm and led him up to Gryffindor Tower, hoping he didn't mind being steered, not to mention doted over. She couldn't help but be downright motherly about Harry. He was the kind of boy you couldn't help but pity and want to help out...at least, most of the time.
Honestly, he was nearly asleep by the time she helped him onto the couch. He moved up a bit and placed his head on Hermione's lap, looking up at her face peeking out from a wild mane of hair. She looked different to him now, as though he were seeing beyond the familiarity and truly looking at her for the first time. Her features were strong; almost Greek- and her eyes were a lovely shade of hazel with tiny blue flecks, like a clear sky shining through autumn trees. Before drifting off completely, he offered, "You're very pretty..." and then began to softly snore.
Poor boy, he really hadn't slept at all last night. She looked down on him with worry, her heart constricting for the sleepy face looking up from her lap. She was overcome with feeling for Harry, and quite swiftly. She had never felt anything so intensely, and at the same time, she didn't know what it was she felt. "You're very pretty," she heard him say before he fell asleep, and then she realized. She had fallen in love with Harry.
Blood, screams, laughter, joy... so many things filled his dreams. It was like living a whole other lifetime in the span of an hour. He felt the sharp pain of loss, and knew that these were the things he would never see again. Losing everything, and gaining everything all at once. More shifting as his body and mind resolved the inner turmoil. He awoke in a cold sweat and feeling a deep ache that seemed to ebb and flow like the tide. She was still there. He could feel her presence without looking and it reminded him so much of... best not to think about that. Best to anchor on the here and now, rather than let the past engulf you with madness. Shaking off the last of his grogginess, Harry smiled up at her, "Hi, guess I really did need that sleep." He suddenly remembered what words he spoke before drifting off and blushed, "Um... maybe we could go to the library now?"
He was having nightmares again, she knew. She wished there were a way to stop them, but any spells for a dreamless sleep were useless in the middle of nightmares. Hoping it would suffice, she stayed with him, stroking his hair when his dreams seemed to worsen. Eventually, he woke up, smiling, at least. He blushed, which made her blush, of course. When he suggested they go to the library now, she quickly agreed. She waited for Harry to sit up, so that she could move. She was feeling very uncomfortable, having made her earlier revelation, and was eager to get to the safety of the library.
He knew that blush the moment it colored her cheeks. She liked him, as more than a friend apparently. Considering this for a moment, Harry decided that it would be better to regret something he did, than to always wonder what would have happened if he had gotten up the courage. As he got up from her lap, he leaned over and kissed her gently on the cheek and proclaimed with a warm smile, "I meant what I said, you are very pretty." Of course, his entire face had decided scarlet was a perfectly acceptable color for skin, and the room felt about fifteen degrees hotter for the intensity of his blush. "Nothing ventured, nothing gained," Harry thought to himself.
She felt the kiss on the cheek and could do nothing but gape at him. Never mind that she was probably making him very uncomfortable, she couldn't help it. Harry had never done that before. He'd never even willingly hugged her. She wondered if something had changed in the way he felt about her as well, and realized that was likely, considering what he had just said. Still wary, however, she stammered, "T-thank you," the suitable response to any compliment.
He wondered for a moment if she would be showing him first hand (so to speak) that legendary right cross of hers. Hearing the unsure 'Thank you', he breathed a bit easier. She wasn't returning the compliment or offering any sign of affection, but at least she wasn't knocking him over the couch or offering other hostile reactions. "You're welcome," he said softly, "I guess I should probably ask... do you like me for anything more than a friend?" With all of the chaos in his life right now, why was he doing this? The voice of an old friend seemed to echo in his mind, "If ya wait for tha right time when it comes to matters o' tha heart, yer gonna wait yerself into a' grave."
She blinked. Her 'thank you' obviously hadn't been enough, though on second thought, it probably sounded like rejection. "Y-yes, I do," she said. Feeling the need to elaborate, she continued, "If it seemed like I -- well, you just shocked me, Harry. I didn't expect..." she trailed off, wishing he would say something. It was entirely possible that he was only asking out of curiosity, and that the kiss had been out of friendship only. If that were the case, Hermione wasn't sure she could stand it.
He smiled so wide that the corners of his mouth stung a bit. She really did like him! He had thought as much, but it was wonderful to have it confirmed, "Well... it seems that we both want to be more than friends now... shall we make it official and date, or declare ourselves boyfriend and girlfriend, or however it is the wizarding community names it?" Harry wondered for a moment if she had read books about this as well, but now he had a growing respect for her thirst for knowledge. He was always grateful for her intellect when it proved needed in tough situations, but now he honestly respected her for it.
Her own face broke into a large grin. He did feel the same way. It was such a relief, leaving her with a wonderful calm that she hadn't known since summer had ended. "The wizarding world is pretty much the same as the Muggle world, as far as dating goes." Her smile faded slightly. "Harry...what will happen when people find out? Ron, especially?" She paused, thinking. "I know you and Ron aren't on good terms right now, but...well, you must be worried about what he'll think."
His demeanor grew stoic and determined, "Ron can deal with it. He'll deal with the tournament, and he'll deal with this. I'm not going to throw away a chance at happiness because he doesn't like my decision." He stood up and stretched, feeling what seemed to be every joint in his body pop. Uh oh. The ground seemed even farther from his eyes than this morning, which meant the growth spurt had visited again. Giving a shy smile, Harry went to the portrait and held it open for Hermione, "After you?"
Well, if he didn't have a problem with it, she wouldn't either. They had each other, and she had already made a vow to follow him to the grave. So she would. Smiling at Harry, she went to the portrait hole and stepped out as gracefully as she could manage -- which wasn't very. After glancing back to see if Harry was still at her side, she headed toward the library.