Bridges Burning

Harry = Madelyn (

Hermione = Amethyst

Harry He wondered if he could just take the bloody thing back. Only two weeks into the school year, and already that damned award was causing utter chaos in his life. Harry didn't want an Order of Merlin, First or otherwise- but that didn't seem to matter now. The fact was that he did have the award, and now Ron wasn't speaking to him again. He didn't know why Ron and Hermione didn't get awards, but it probably had something to do with Lucius being on the committee. So he was alone again, for the most part. Hermione was still speaking to him, but had gotten even more obsessed with her school work. The library was a nice place, but he didn't want to spend every waking hour there. So he was walking now, just looking at the surrounding lake, throwing the occasional sweet to the squid.

Hermione Damn Ron, that prat. She couldn't blame him for being upset that he didn't get an award; she herself wished that she had received some recognition for what the three of them did. That didn't give him the right to blame it on Harry. After all, Harry wasn't on the committee, and he couldn't very well force them to give her and Ron awards. Hermione glanced down at the review questions she was supposed to be answering. She had hoped diving enthusiastically into her school work would leave Ron and Harry enough time alone to sort this out without dragging her into the middle, but she should have known better. They were both too stubborn. Making her decision, she dropped her quill and headed towards the lake, where Harry had claimed he would be taking a walk.

Harry He sat down at the edge of the lake, letting the water lap at his now bare feet. Harry supposed he would just have to get used to being alone. Between Hermione's studies, and Ron's... problems, there just wasn't really a place for him in the 'trio' anymore. It wasn't as though solitude was unknown to him, he had just hoped... Well, it no longer mattered what he hoped, the situation simply was as it was. In time, he would get used to it. Besides, with all of the trouble attracted to him, maybe it was for the best that he not pull anyone else into harm's way. end

Hermione She spotted Harry and walked quickly over to him. He looked lonely, which Hermione blamed on herself. Perhaps if she had done something sooner, he and Ron would have made up by now. Hermione sat down beside him, just out of the water's reach. Now that she was out here, she wasn't sure what to say to him. Should she mention Ron? That might only upset him; it would be best to knock some sense into Ron before she tried to get them to reconcile. She decided she would just sit with him. Harry could bring up what he wanted to, if he wanted to talk at all. end

Harry Harry was so engrossed in watching the small waves lap at his feet, that he did not even notice Hermione sit next to him at first. After a few moments, he looked over and drew in a startled breath, "Oh! Sorry, I didn't see you there..." A blush colored his cheeks, and he looked to the water once more, "What brings you out of the library?" Harry hadn't meant it to sound that blunt, but it really was the main question on his mind at the moment. end

Hermione Hermione smirked slightly at Harry's eventual reaction. "I couldn't concentrate," Hermione answered quite truthfully, feeling once again guilty that she hadn't made an effort to spend time with Harry. It was times like these when Harry most needed someone; she should have realized that. She offered Harry a smile. "Bored?" she asked, deciding he must be if he found staring at the lake interesting. end

Harry Harry looked over at her, "No, not really. Just... deep in thought, making decisions, that sort of thing." He looked back to the water, dreading the sort of decisions that were needing to be made. Should he even bother telling Ron the friendship was over, would he even care? That was unfair, of course he would care. You can't be friends with someone that long and not care when it ends. And what about Hermione? While she wasn't avoiding him, it wasn't as though she made herself very available for friendship. For some reason, he was more reluctant to even consider ending their friendship. After all, it wasn't as if she had ever truly abandoned him, as Ron had (twice now). end

Hermione "Decisions?" Hermione repeated, worried. Just what decisions were he making? Hermione had long since discovered that when Harry made his decisions, they usually weren't very good. Of course, Harry was smart, but he had a tendency to think and act impulsively, and often forgot to think about himself. She rather hoped this decision was more involved in what he wanted for breakfast than what he intended to do about the current situation. end

Harry "I'm ending my friendship with Ron. Or what's left of it, at least," he replied in a somber tone. It wasn't as though he hadn't given it a lot of thought, little else had occupied his mind lately. "I just have to decide when and how to tell him," Harry offered in a soft whisper. That was it then, the decision had been made. It felt like the wind had been knocked out of him, but he also had a strong sense that this was the right decision. end

Hermione Hermione stared, eyes growing wider by the second. That was not at all what she had expected, though, in retrospect, she realized she should have. "Harry," she said, almost breathlessly, "you…you can't! I mean, I guess you can, but how can you just throw away five years of friendship like that? Ron can be a prat at times, but, Harry, he's your best friend! You're willing to just never work this out, and lose him for good?" end

Harry His eyes grew dark and cold, as they were want to do at times, "Yes, I am. He is the one who left me, I'm just making it official." With that, he got up and slowly headed back to the castle. He didn't hurry, knowing she would want to walk beside him and further talk things out. But now the decision was made, and his mind was set. By tonight, he would have one close friend left. Harry secretly hoped that he wouldn't lose Hermione as well. end

Hermione Hermione hurried after him, seeing just how precarious this conversation had become. "Harry," she pleaded, "think about this. Ron cares about you; he just needs a good slap every once in awhile. This is just like the fourth year; just give him time and he'll realize what a prat he's being!" She didn't know what more she could say to him. Privately, she thought he might be right, but she still didn't want her two best friends in pain, all because Ron was an idiot at times. end

Harry Harry looked to her, expression still unyielding, "The decision is made. If you honestly think I haven't spent time agonizing over this, then you give me a lot less credit than I'm due." He continued to approach Gryffindor Tower, intent on seeing through his decision as quickly as possible. end

Hermione Hermione almost stopped walking, eyes threatening to water. Of course she gave him credit for thinking this over -- okay, so maybe she didn't. That still didn't excuse his behavior; how could he just give up on his best friend? And if he could give up Ron so easily, how long would it take for him to throw her aside? Doubts beginning to cloud her better judgment, she followed Harry to Gryffindor Tower, knowing she would have some pieces to pick up when this was over and done with. end

Harry Harry walked through the portrait and realized Ron was probably in his room. Just as well, he doubted Hermione really wanted to see this. He looked over to her, "I'll see you in a bit, alright?" Having noticed how worried she was, and taking a guess at one of the things that could be troubling her, Harry offered, "I don't do this lightly. You don't turn your back on me repeatedly, and I won't turn my back on you." With that, he headed to Ron's room. end

Hermione Hermione sighed, watching Harry go up to the boys' dormitories. He had cleared up one of her fears, but that didn't make this any easier. Ron was still her other best friend; if Harry went ahead with this, it would tear them apart, and for good, and changes were, she would have to choose between them. If she tried to stay friends with them both, one would get jealous and make her pick. Hermione already knew she would choose Harry. He needed someone in a way that Ron didn't, and she wasn't about to leave him without that someone. Saddened, she curled up in a chair in the common room, watching her childhood crumble and disappear with the wind. end

Harry It was only the quick casting of a privacy spell that kept the entire school from hearing their argument. Even then, Harry was quite certain the slight shaking of walls would leave no doubt as to what was happening inside. The discussion had been brutal, as he expected. There really was nothing left unsaid by the time he closed the door and headed back to the common room. They both had said things not meant, but there was also a lot of harsh truths thrown about. For better or worse, it was over now. How awkward it would be to speak with the other Weasleys now. Would Molly still acknowledge him every Christmas and summer? He liked to think so. Would Ron force Hermione to choose which of them to be friends with? Harry desperately hoped that wouldn't be the case. end

Hermione Hermione nearly jumped out of her seat when Harry came back down to the common room. She didn't need to ask how it had gone; that much was obvious, knowing Ron, knowing Harry, and knowing that look on Harry's face. Forgetting her own worries for a bit, she went to Harry. "Are you all right?" she asked, her face etched with the concern she was feeling for all parties involved. end

Harry Feeling drained, tired, and far older than his years- Harry simply shrugged and hugged Hermione. He relaxed into the embrace, just letting his thoughts drift, trying to think of anything but the gaping wound leaving Ron's room had left within him. His arms wrapped around her tightly, and his face was buried in her hair. For once, he was rather glad she had such a wild mane, it was easier to hide the tears this way. end

Hermione Hermione began to feel the sting of tears as Harry hugged her. Trying to hide her sniffles, she held Harry, perhaps a little more tightly than was necessary, prepared to do so as long as Harry needed. While she had waited, she decided that she would do whatever she could for Harry, and if Ron still wanted her friendship then, he could have it. Otherwise, she would move on with Harry. end

Harry Carried away by emotion, when Harry pulled away he placed a light kiss on her lips, "Thanks..." Then he realized what he had just done and a blush rose across his cheeks and the bridge of his nose. He just kissed Hermione! Sure, it was a rather chaste kiss, but still - his lips touched Hermione's lips! He silently berated himself and wondered if she would slap him. end

Hermione Her eyes widened considerably for the second time that day. He had kissed her! Obviously he had meant it as a friendly kiss; Harry would never kiss her in a romantic fashion…would he? Hermione mental shook herself. Of course he wouldn't. She was merely his frizzy-haired friend, not a romantic interest. Feeling her own cheeks redden along with Harry's, she decided to ignore it completely. If Harry wanted to elaborate, he was free to do so. end

Harry "I... um... you haven't slapped me," he offered with a confused expression. Realizing how odd that sounded, he added, "What I mean to say is, I didn't really think that one out. Sure, I've thought about kissing you before... I mean..." He fell silent, with a chagrined expression. After a few moments, Harry found his voice again, "Maybe I should just be quiet now, before giving you an even better reason to slap me." end

Hermione Hermione couldn't help but chuckle at Harry. Did he really think she would slap him for that? And now he was digging his own grave, and rather amusingly at that. However, he had given her something the she couldn't help but bring up. "I wasn't going to slap you." She paused. "You've thought about kissing me before?" She couldn't help but feel nervous about his response. Hermione wasn't quite sure what she wanted his answer to be. Things might be easier if he had never mentioned it, but then again, the thought of kissing Harry again was becoming more and more appealing. end

Harry "Well... yes?" he offered with a sheepish smile. "Um... more than once, actually," his voice trailed off. She looked lovely, with hair untamed and flecks of blue shining in those golden hazel eyes. He had been thinking of her in such a way since the first Yule Ball, but didn't dare to say anything, knowing she had a crush on Ron. Ron. Uh oh. "Um, Hermione? Do you still... like Ron?" he asked, worrying at his bottom lip. While he hadn't seen any evidence of the crush since the middle of last year, Harry wasn't wanting to take any chances. end

Hermione Her breath caught in her throat. He did think about her that way. She was about to respond when she saw the change in Harry's expression. When he brought up Ron, she almost started laughing. That was what worried him? Unable to hide the amusement in her voice, she replied, "No, no, I don't like Ron anymore." She felt the blush in her cheeks deepen. "I, er, that is…" She trailed off, unsure of how she should phrase what she wanted him to know without sounding like a second year. "You know," she eventually decided on saying, "I've thought about kissing you before, too." end

Harry Feeling as though a great weight had been lifted from his shoulders, Harry embraced her again. After a few moments, he pulled back enough to ask, "Would you... mind if I kissed you again?" The blush appeared once more, and his heart was trying it's best to beat itself right out of his chest. end

Hermione She breathed deeply as Harry hugged her again, taking in Harry's unique but unmistakably boyish smell. What a relief it was, knowing Harry felt the same way. She couldn't help but grin when he asked for another kiss; his shyness made him all the more adorable. "I wouldn't mind at all," she responded, happily anticipating a second kiss. end