Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc.
Harry knew Hermione was having a bad day as soon as he entered the room. She was sitting, all alone, on his bed. Ron and the other boys had evidently decided to let her be, thinking that it was better to let Harry deal with her.
He sighed. Usually, it was her comforting him, after he had a nightmare or an extremely bad day. Despite everything that was going around them, she usually managed to stay, if not cheerful, then also not depressed.
Something had happened today to change that however. He only hoped that he was up to the task of talking her out of her mood. Putting his bag down, he crossed the room to pick up a chair. He placed the chair in front of his bed and sat down, taking her hands into his.
Hermione stiffened at his touch. Her shoulders tensed and Harry could see that she had been fighting the urge to cry for quite some time. He mentally winced. He didn't think he was any good at comforting others—certainly not as good as Hermione. He didn't know what to say, so he just waited for her to speak while continuing to hold her hands.
Finally, she did speak. "How long?" she asked.
Harry was confused. Hermione usually wasn't so cryptic. He went with the obvious choice and responded, "How long have I been here? A few minutes—not long at all."
Hermione's grip tightened painfully. "No, that's not it," she whispered. "How long will it last?"
That he couldn't answer. He didn't know how long it would last, just that it would end someday. He hated to tell her that he didn't know but he hated the idea of lying to her even more. "I don't know. I just know that someday it will be over and we'll be able to live normal lives. Someday we'll be able to be together without having to always look out for the next disaster. I wish I could tell you when but the truth is that I can't."
"That's not it." She lifted her head, tears forming in her eyes. "I could stand not knowing how long it'll be until we don't have to worry about all that. It's difficult but I can do it because I believe in you and everyone else. We're not going to lose because it's too important to all of us. Somehow, we'll find a way."
"Then what is it?" Harry was completely baffled. He knew it had to be something big for why else would Hermione be so affected. He couldn't think of anything else that could bring her to tears. "How long will what last?" he asked.
Hermione's tears had now become full-fledged sobs, which completely racked her body. Now being able to stand it, Harry moved to sit beside her. He enveloped her in a crushing embrace while she just cried into his shoulder. Not knowing anything better to do, he quietly said, "I love you."
"How long?" she asked again. "How long will it last? How long will you love me?"
That he could answer. "Always. I can't promise you that we'll never part because I could leave you, or heaven forbid, you could leave me behind to cope with living without you. But no matter what happens, no matter how far apart we might be, no matter if you leave this world before me, there's no doubt that I'll always love you."
Hermione had raised her head from his chest while he was speaking to stare into his face. Even though he had finished, she continued to stare, as if searching for her answers there. Not finding them, she asked, "How do you know that?"
"How could I not know it? There's no guarantee that we have been given but I know it because I depend on it's being true. That I will always love you and that there will always be a part of you that loves me, whatever may come. That's how I know I'll always love you—because I need it to be true, especially on my darker days, to know that some part of me is still all right. That there's something that redeems me, no matter how badly I may fail."
Hermione was no longer sobbing, although tears continued to trail down her face. "They said it wouldn't last. They said eventually you'd get tired of me."
"Who's they? The girls in your dorm? Our classmates who whisper about us when they think we can't hear? What do they know? They don't know what's between us. They can't know the strength of the bond that connects you and me. They only hear echoes of the love that is between us, that encircles us, that weaves its magic in everything we do together. They don't know a thing about me and you."
Hermione sighed. "It just sounded all too believable. That you could have anyone and yet you decided on plain, old boring me. That eventually you'll get tired and see that you could have so much more. That our relationship is just dull, that there's no spark between us and so it just can not last." She met his eyes before continuing. "Usually, I just shrug such comments off but when you hear it over and over again, day after day—"
"You begin to believe it," Harry finished for her. "I'm never going to get bored of being with you. I don't care if I could have more because all I want is you—and quite frankly, I don't think that there could be anyone better than you. If other people think our relationship's a bore, then let them. Because we're not in this together for them, but for ourselves because it's right. If they can't see the spark between us, then that's because they're either too jealous or too blind to see. And if hearing the words every day starts to make you wonder, don't worry because I'll tell you I love you again and again until that's all your heart can hear."
"I love you, you know," Hermione said, leaning forward to rest her head against his. "I love you so much, it scares me at times that I can care that deeply about another person. Just knowing you care for me is enough to brighten my day—knowing you love me, I can't say what I feel without getting carried away. I'd never thought I'd be lucky enough to have someone love me like you do and the fact that it's you makes it even more inconceivable. I can't say what I feel because the words haven't been invented yet to do justice to how happy I am with you."
He smiled. "I feel the same way. I'm so lucky to have met you and luckier yet to have your love. And if you should again feel the need to ask if my love for you will ever fade—the answer will always be never, my love."
With that, he bent his head down to kiss her, a kiss to reaffirm that
there were some promises that would always keep.
Author's note: As always, reviews would be much appreciated.