Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc.
He darted off quickly while she was busy looking at books. He cursed himself for forgetting all about her birthday. He had no time to shop while he had been at his aunt and uncle's, but he had a full week during which he could have got her something in Diagon Alley. If he had only remembered earlier, he could have bought her a book or something she would really like, but as it were, he remembered when they were in Flourish and Blotts. He didn't want to risk her seeing him buy her gift, or their other friend accidentally attracting attention to what he was doing. So he had no choice but to try the shop next door.
There wasn't much there that he thought that she would like. There were various things that might appeal to other witches, but not the special witch who he was shopping for. A glimmer of gold caught his eye and he turned his head to see a small bracelet lying in one corner. He walked over there, careful not to knock into any item, and picked it up. It was only a simple gold chain, with the links shaped like stars. Hanging on it was a single owl, which looked nothing like his own. It wasn't much and he knew that she would prefer a book, but it would have to do. Hopefully she wouldn't dislike it too much.
He went over to purchase it from the witch minding the shop.
"Is that for your girlfriend?" she asked. He blushed red and shook his head furiously no, but she ignored that. "We've other things a young witch would like better." From some hidden drawer, she drew out a collection of necklaces, bracelets, and other pretty baubles. "Go on. Take a look. See something you'd rather get her?"
He only needed a glance to know that he didn't want any of the other trinkets. Maybe other witches would like such things, but the witch he was thinking of liked things that were simpler. She would like the one he had in his hand better than anything of the fancier things; she would only think that they were gaudy and if he were completely truthful, he would have to agree.
"Just this please," he told the old witch. She wrapped it up after he paid for it, in a pink bag and a bit of purple string.
"I'm sure she'll love it," she said as he walked out the door.
"Love, I'm going out to pick up the new broomstick I ordered. It finally came in. Is there anything you need?"
"No, nothing that I can think of . . . no, wait, there is something. Could you get something fixed for me? I think I broke it last night."
"That's fine. What is it?"
"It's a bracelet. It's in the bedroom, on my dresser. It's the only broken one there, so if you could find it and take it in, I'd be really grateful."
Harry looked over at the top of his wife's dresser. While normally quite neat, her jewelry was strewn about, the result of frantically searching for a particular set of earrings last night. "I don't think I can find it, love."
"Oh honestly! Here, I'll get it." He could hear her walking up the stairs.
He knew she loved to study, but he didn't expect to see her pouring over her books so early in the morning. He coughed slightly to get her attention. She looked up and smiled, saying "Good morning" before going back to her reading. He wondered very briefly if she had forgotten what day it was today.
"Happy birthday!" he blurted out.
Her eyes widened in surprised. "How did you know?" she asked.
"You told me when I asked last Christmas. I felt rather silly not knowing your birthday then or how old you are."
"I'd forgotten that," she said softly. She smiled at him. "Thank you very much."
"Umm . . . well, I . . .I sort of . . . here." He held out his gift to her.
"Oh, you shouldn't have." She took it from him and carefully opened the bag, not ripping it once. She removed the bracelet from its wrapping and gasped. "It's beautiful," she said. She then surprised him by leaping up to throw her arms around his neck. "Thank you, thank you so much. I'll never forget. I'll treasure it always."
He turned red from embarrassment. "Glad you liked it," he squeaked.
Harry grinned as she walked in to the room. Even though her hair was still a bushy mess as she had yet to tame it for the day, he thought that she looked lovely. He told her so every day but he thought that he hadn't communicated just how beautiful she was to her yet. Harry wasn't about to give up and he would be disappointed in himself if he ever did. "Hello beautiful," he said by way of greeting.
"You can't do anything by yourself," she said, but there was no heat behind her words, only affection.
"You did make quite a mess last night." He gestured at her heap of jewelry. "I'm a wizard, remember? I'm supposed to have trouble telling jewelry apart under the best of circumstances, much less when they're all tossed about like that."
She blushed and said, "Sorry, forgot about that. I have to remember to fix it all later, but for now . . ." She rummaged about her things. It took her several minutes before she pulled a slight gold bracelet from out of a corner. "I need you to get this fixed. I'd do it myself, but it's getting old so I'd rather get a professional to look at it."
She hated fighting with them. It was so lonely by herself, with only her books for company. She had plenty of work to do, that was certain, but she would have made some time for them if only they cared to talk to her. She wished that there was some way that she could make him understand that she only did it because she was worried for him. She didn't want to ever see him hurt, though all too often, she did. She had known he was foolishly obsessed with Quidditch and that he wouldn't be happy with her – but she hadn't expected him to be as angry with her as he actually was. It seemed like he didn't care for her anymore. That hurt so much. It felt like a lead weight in her chest that her dearest friend hated her for looking out for him. It didn't help that virtually all of Gryffindor wasn't happy with her for telling about the broom as they needed him playing to have any chance at winning the matches.
Yet at the darkest, loneliest times, all she had to do was remember how he looked after that last match with Hufflepuff. She only had to remember how small and broken he looked after he had fallen, how heartbreaking it had been to worry that he was still breathing, and how useless she had felt to know that there wasn't anything she could have done to save him. She spent more time after that studying more charms and spells on the off chance that one of them could help him. If giving up his friendship was the price of saving his life – well, she couldn't say that she wouldn't regret losing him, she wasn't as good as that, but she would have to live with that knowledge and try to be happy seeing him still breathing.
It was times like this when she wanted to cry. She was so lonely. She never was a popular witch; in her first year, the only one who would really speak to her was Neville and that was because they were outcasts together. When she became friends with him and that other boy, she thought that they would be friends forever, through thick and thin, through the happiest and the saddest of times. She hadn't thought that one act of hers would end it forever.
A hint of gold caught her eye. She pulled up her sleeve to reveal the bracelet he had given her earlier that year. She rubbed it between her fingers, admiring the fine gold stars and the adorable little owl that hung from it. She had been so happy that day. He had remembered her birthday, and what's more, had remembered it far enough in advance to get her something. She appreciated the simple gift of just being remembered so much.
She had no expectations of being forgiven, only hope. She hoped that she meant too much to him as a friend for him to stay angry with her forever. She hoped one day that he would understand. She hoped one day that he would talk to her again. She held on to her hopes and onto her gift; if she held on long enough, perhaps one day he would see the light.
"You still have that old thing? I thought you would have got rid of it long ago or at least relegated it to some dusty corner." He took the bracelet from her and squinted at it with a critical eye. "Do you really want to—"
"Of course I do. Why would I have said it?" Hermione leveled one of her trademark glares of doom at him. "It was the very first birthday present I had from a friend and the first thing you ever gave me. Of course, I want to keep it forever."
"It looks rather worn out."
"I know that, Harry. That's why I'm not fixing it myself. There has to be some way to restore it."
"Is it worth that much to you?"
She closed her eyes and remembered. "It is. I've told you so before."
"Oh no!" she cried. She dropped her books and then dropped to her knees. "It must have fallen off here somewhere." She started to frantically search around for whatever she had lost.
"What is it?" he asked. "What did you lose? I can help you look."
She blushed at his words. "Don't worry. I can find it myself."
"No, we'll find it faster, the two of us together, than you just looking by yourself." He joined her search for the trinket she had lost. "Do you mind telling—"
"Honestly, it's fine. You'd think it's silly. And you'd laugh—"
"I wouldn't laugh. Not at something you think is so important. I've never done that."
"—and I know I can just . . . there it is!" She picked up something off the ground. She glanced at it quickly before stuffing it away out of sight.
He raised an eyebrow in her direction. "I wish you'd let me know what it is. If you want to keep your secrets, that's fine, but I thought we were closer friends than that."
She seemed ashamed at his words. She hung her head and bit her lip. Wringing her hands in her distress, she asked, "Promise you won't laugh?"
Timidly she handed it over. He held it up to look it over, then remarked in surprise, "It's just that bracelet I gave you back in third year."
She snatched it back from him. "I know but . . . this is going to sound pathetic . . but it was the first time anyone aside from my family really remembered me on my birthday. I . . . really appreciated you thinking of me like that." She blushed and shuffled her feet nervously.
"What are friends for?" It was a cheesy thing to say but Harry couldn't think of anything better.
"You're the best friend a witch could ever have." She embraced him suddenly. He hugged her back, though rather self-consciously.
"Thanks. You're . . ." He was going to tell her that she meant a lot to him but lost his voice when she raised her lovely brown eyes to his. She felt soft and right in his arms. Her cheeks were still flushed and that added to her charm. "You're beautiful," he said reverently.
She began to protest that she wasn't but he quickly cut her off. "Can I kiss you?"
"You ought to say, 'may I kiss you,' not 'can.' I'm sure you're physically able to kiss me," she blustered.
"May I kiss you then?"
"I . . . well, that would . . . maybe, it would be nice . . . but . . . oh Harry! You shouldn't say things like that if you don't really mean it."
"But I do mean it . . . errr, whatever it is that you don't think I mean."
"How can you mean it if you don't know what I was talking about?"
"What were you talking about?"
"I . . . well, honestly! You shouldn't ask to kiss a girl if you're not serious."
"I was serious."
"Serious about her, I mean. You shouldn't kiss witches on a whim."
"But I am serious about you. And I don't want to kiss a witch on a whim. I want to kiss Hermione whenever I want."
"I . . . I don't know what to quite say here . . ."
"You've told me before that it was your first birthday present from a friend – I still have trouble believing that, you know – and it meant a lot to you, but it's hard to believe that you want to keep it forever."
"I do though. I wore it at our wedding, you know. It was my something old. It may be sentimental of me but I promised I'd treasure it always and I will."
"You don't have to."
"I know I don't. But I want to. Like I always want to be together with you." She leant up to kiss him. "I love you."
"I love you too."
Author's note: If you've read this far already, I would be immensely grateful if you could leave me a review to let me know what you think of this one. Also, thanks to everyone who reviewed the previous short stories -- I am so very sorry that I can't thank you all seperately but unfortunately, I've several long papers staring me in the face. I do appreciate you taking the time to leave a review.