Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc.
He wanted to see her.
That wasn't quite right. It was closer to the truth to say that he needed to see Hermione right now. He wasn't quite sure of what there was between them. He had thought it had just been friendship, but then it seemed like she liked him – for she had kissed him! – and he didn't know how he thought of her. Harry knew that she was his friend but there was that chance that she meant more to him, that they were more than just friends. He didn't know how to sort this out but there was a little voice telling him that everything would become clear if he could just see Hermione.
He really needed to see her.
The problem was where to find her. The logical place to start looking for Hermione was usually the library but considering that she had just rushed out of there, he didn't think that he would find her amongst the stacks if he went back to look. The next place he tried was the girls' dorm in Gryffindor Tower but when asked about Hermione, Lavender had replied that she had not seen Hermione all day. Harry had thought perhaps that Hermione would be by the lake, maybe sitting under a tree but he didn't see a hint of her bushy hair though he wandered around the lake thrice. He had taken to checking each and every classroom they had – even the Potions dungeon – but she was nowhere to be found.
He really needed to see her this once but he could not find her.
It was times like these that Harry wished that he still had the Marauder's Map. Finding her would have been so easy with it. He would have been able to see her before now and put his heart to ease. It was sort of funny to think like that – as if his heart needed Hermione. Certainly, she was his friend and he thought that there might even be more between them than just that – but to say that he needed to see Hermione to put his heart at ease, made it sound like he was in love with her and that he certainly was not. Currently they were only friends and she probably liked him and he most definitely liked her and so maybe they would spend a day in Hogsmeade together but that most certainly would be it. Well maybe not it, maybe there would be other days spent together – he rather liked the idea of walking hand-in-hand with Hermione. Just spending time with Hermione was nice. He thought it might be nice to spend the rest of his life with her.
And that thought stopped him in his tracks. Saying that he wouldn't mind spending the rest of his life with her – that made it almost sound like he loved her and he couldn't love her. It was too soon for him to love anyone. Love was for people much older than him. People his age were supposed to have flings, not serious, till-death-do-us-part relationships. Yet saying that a date with a Hermione was a fling wasn't something he would want to do. Hermione was better than a fling. His relationship with Hermione was more than that. After all, they had known each other since they were eleven and to degrade whatever it was that held them together as merely a fling – that was something that just shouldn't be done.
Yet it was rather frightening to be thinking of Hermione and of their relationship and thinking that forever had a nice ring to it.
It sounded as perfect as anything in this imperfect world could be.
But Harry didn't want to think about that, not right now, not when it was too scary to think of wanting to spend forever with a person when you were too young to make such promises and besides, it wasn't as if he could promise forever to anyone at all, not with all that he had to deal with. What he could do right now was to find Hermione and make sure that she was all right, that she wasn't crying. He hoped she wasn't crying, he never knew quite what to do when she was and he didn't like being the person who made her cry. Harry was very worried that she was crying for why else would she not be in any of her usual spots or even anywhere else he could think of.
Then Harry thought of their first year.
He remembered her crying on Halloween.
And then he took off, running as fast as he could, towards the girls' bathroom. He was positive that was where Hermione had hidden and if she was there, then she was probably weeping. And if she was, it was only right that he try and stop them – especially as he hated to see her cry and he probably made her cry after she kissed him. He wished he had said something, done anything, rather than just standing there dumbly in the library as she fled, but that was in the past and he couldn't change it and he was shocked because he hadn't realized that he liked Hermione like that or that kissing her would be so sweet—
Harry stopped just in time to miss hitting the door to the girls' bathroom. He pressed his ear up against it, straining to hear if anyone was there. He thought he heard someone crying. He winced, cursing his earlier silence and rapped at the door. "Hermione?" he called. "Are you in there? Please come out, I really need to talk to you."
No response came. When he pressed his ear to the door again, the only change was that it sounded like the someone who had been crying was now trying to muffle the sound.
He tried again. He knocked again. "Please, Hermione. I need to see you right now," he pleaded.
The only response he heard was silence. He took a deep breath and looked around. He placed his hand on the door, and then opened it and walked in.
Hermione was by the sink, trying to wipe away her tears with her hands. She looked up when he entered and when he started walking towards her – she bolted, trying to get away from him once again. He easily intercepted her and caught her in his arms.
"I'm sorry," he whispered as she began to sob into his shoulder.
"Don't be," she murmured. "It's not your fault."
"I didn't mean to make you cry, you know that."
"I know, Harry, yes I know. I know you can't chose who you love."
"Maybe not." He placed a finger under her chin and lifted her head so he could see her eyes. "But I like to think that if I had a choice, it would still be you."
Her eyes widened. He bent his head and kissed her again. She tasted like vanilla and tea and everything good. She felt soft and warm and right in his arms. Saying that she had his heart wasn't truthful enough for he rather thought that there would always be a place in his soul that she could call her own.
Professor McGonagall swiftly confiscated the note from where it laid on Hermione's desk. "Ms Granger!" she reprimanded. "I would think that you should know better than to pass notes in class."
Hermione looked down and flushed. She cast a swift glance at Harry, who seemed a bit sheepish. McGonagall took a quick look at the note in her hand.
I love you.
"Don't let me catch you two at it again," she said and returned to the front of the room.
And some time later – perhaps that evening, perhaps that year, but some time when they were together.
"How does forever sound?"
"With you? It doesn't sound long enough."
Author's note: As always, I would very much appreciate it if you'd review to let me know what you thought of the fic. Thanks ever so much for everyone who has left reviews for the fics. I really, really am so grateful that you did.
Animagus-Steph: I've a bad habit of writing Harry to be clueless -- this probably stems from real life experience with clueless guys. They can be so *dense* at times! Thanks as always for reviewing! It really makes my day.
Archforge: As I said in my author's notes last chapter, the repetition was entirely intentional, to show how hung up Harry is over the idea that he and Hermione are just friends. I'm sorry it didn't work for you -- this piece does tend to be experimental as I usually am more strict with my grammar -- but I just wanted to point out that I'm perfectly aware of the repetition. Thanks for reviewing!
Chris: Tis great to see you online again. *bounces* And thanks for the review.
Eric: I thought you'd notice what the title meant, and am rather sure you know what the title of this chapter means as well.
Stoneheart: I take your point about using the word 'fancy' instead of 'like' -- I think I was thinking too much in Japanese for this fic, as there's a specific H/Hr scene I see (or perhaps I should say hear) in Japanese that made me write this one. Of course, one benefit to using the word 'like' is that it makes the transition slower, although the fact that said transition is less obvious is definitely a con. Oh and regarding the question you left about my Halloween fic -- Pumpkin of Doom was meant as a Halloween fic so I removed it a week after that. It suffered from the fact that I was under time constraints to get it out before Halloween ended, however, so you're not missing much. In any case, thanks as always for reviewing -- I honestly do appreciate it.