Author's note: Last part of this little armchair intermezzo. 20,000 words. Told you so. And here we are. So, in case you were enjoying yourself: I'm sorry. In case you're despising everything you're reading here: You're welcome. Stanrick – reliably keeping things short for the convenience of those that don't like his stuff while simultaneously disappointing those that do. Can't tell me I don't got my priorities straight!

Jokes aside, thanks for every reader's interest and all your reviews. They are, as they always have been, sincerely appreciated on this end. I hope I'll manage to finish some of my other Potter-related stories sooner rather than later. After all, this one was really just a side-(side-)project born out of desperation.


The week after…

Not a single syllable suggesting even as much as a hint of correlation to the incident was uttered for six whole days. Perhaps solely because of their mutually harbored suspicion that talking about it would have been tantamount to admitting the existence of anything worth calling an incident that had better be talked about in the first place. They both felt it was, naturally, but since they did not talk about it neither of them knew what the other felt and therefore judged that not talking about it was the most advisable course of action, and whenever cause and effect are identical it becomes really hard to clearly discern just what exactly is going on.

And so during these days neither of them was ever found sitting in the armchair in the afternoon hours and only Harry sat there occasionally in the late evenings, though for some reason – and no matter how hard he tried – never quite as comfortably as he used to. Hermione for her part seemed to avoid it completely, but since regrettably there is always only one Tuesday per week it was hard to tell for sure just how far her avoidance went and whether it could be ascribed to some sort of deliberation.

Every day Harry found himself at least once on the cusp of saying something, of asking and inquiring about it, of mentioning it at all. Yet never he did, for something held him back. Something that bothered him more than he cared to admit to himself and that was amplified with every passing day by the constant echo of Hermione's voice in his mind, speaking words he wished she had never said. Whether she truly meant them or not, that was the question impossible to answer on his own. What exactly he hoped she'd feel in earnest, that was the question almost too daunting to even tackle at all. Together they combined into a fabulously snowy mid-December week that drove Harry noticeably closer to a more or less voluntary stay within the invitingly padded walls of St. Mungo's mental ward.

When Tuesday finally arrived, instead of that gradually increasing tingling of anticipation he had come to associate with it over the course of recent weeks, it brought with it a surge of dreadful tension. When after one of the most thoroughly absentminded days of his illustrious career as a habitually sluggard student he arrived back in the common room, he stopped short a step away from the armchair, eyed it with the reluctance of indecision and eventually ended up pacing back and forth in front of the fireplace, his mind in symmetry to his motion ceaselessly bouncing from yes to no and back again.

With a wince he froze in place when he turned on his heels for precisely the umpteenth time and suddenly found Hermione standing a couple of steps away from him near the far end of the table.

"Hey," she greeted him a bit timidly.

"Hey, uh, yeah," Harry presently began to stammer in response, "I's just—was just walking off a cramp that I suffered whuh—while casually sitting down and…" Hermione's eyes drifted to the one place where he'd normally be doing that right about now, finding not a wrinkle in the cushions and a neatly folded blanket in the middle of the seat: an orderly display that was restored automatically over night in these more peculiar parts of Britain. The look she gave him was enough to make him drop the nonsense.

"I wasn't sure we were still doing this," he bashfully confessed with his hands buried deep in the pockets of his jeans. To see her smile at him warmly calmed him a bit, but there was something else in her eyes as well.

"I was hoping we would," Hermione answered sincerely, "but right now I'm actually on the hop to an unscheduled prefect meeting that I've just been called to on my way back here. Something about a Christmas-related, logistical disaster. Maybe Santa Claus got his visa revoked. I don't know. I should basically be there right now, but I wanted to see you first in case… well, just in case you were maybe waiting for me, maybe."

"Oh," said Harry, dropping his head. "Okay." And shrugging his shoulder he added, "Well, it's really not that important, right? I mean, you pointed out as much last week." He immediately regretted the way that came out. It sounded snide and petty, as troubled thoughts are wont to do when after being kept inside for too long they eventually come out in one fermented burst of spite. "Sorry," he was quick to apologize, "I didn't mean to say that… like that."

She faintly exhaled a sigh. "Well, I didn't mean what I said last week, either."

He looked up at her at that, the hesitant hint of a lopsided smile on his lips, and recited in good humor, "When you don't mean what you say the way you say it, maybe you should change the way you say it to match what you mean to say."

It was a verbatim quotation of one Hermione Jane Granger that originally poor Ronald Weasley had been on the receiving end of. He was still in convalescence.

The quoted witch smiled despite herself and mused aloud, "I cannot quite decide whether being beaten by myself makes me feel smart or stupid." They amusedly regarded one another for a moment before she turned more serious again. "Frankly though, I didn't mean it at all, really. I was just annoyed at—at the things people say."

"It's okay," he assured her. "I understand. I'm just glad to know that… you know… that you don't actually feel like that. About this. Because otherwise I would've been alone in… not feeling like that. About this."

Amusement resurfaced on Hermione's features. "Are we clear on the way we feel about this, then?"

He scrunched up his nose. "Doesn't really sound like it, does it?"

They shared a short but heartfelt bout of laughter at that which prompted each of them in secrecy to wonder when the sound of the other's joy had begun making something flutter in their general belly button vicinity. When they stopped a bit abruptly and at the same time, it nearly made them laugh all over again.

"So," Harry, leaning against the mantelpiece on an elbow, instead offered conversationally, "how's that urgent prefect meeting going for you, anyway?"

"Goodness!" Hermione exclaimed with a panicky glance at her watch, hastily readjusting her shoulder bag. "I'll be the last one to arrive!"

"Your name will be ruined," Harry ominously foretold, "your legacy forfeit."

She glowered at him, though her comically puckered lips belied the severity of her narrowed eyes. "See you later, Harry," she drily said her farewell, already stepping away from him.

"Hey," he softly made her halt and turn around expectantly. "Next Tuesday, then?"

Her smile lit up her face. "It's a date."

And it was a good thing that she had a reasonable excuse to leave in that moment, so that she didn't have to share with Harry the mighty blush on her face that judging by the way it felt was now most likely lighting up the whole room. Then, all of a sudden, a thought entered her mind that caught her off guard.

"Oh no," she exhaled, half way between Harry and the portrait hole. She turned around again to find him looking at her questioningly. "Next Tuesday is Christmas Eve."

Comprehension set in on Harry's features, and it didn't look like the most pleasant kind despite his best effort to hide its nature behind a mask of nonchalance. "Oh, right. Yeah, you'll be leaving for home on Saturday, of course."

"Hmm," Hermione vaguely made, pensively cocking her head to the side.

Harry studiously avoided looking at her and focused instead on the dark and empty fireplace, where no traces of any ashes were left since those too had a tendency to just vanish over night as if by magic. Which incidentally was literally the case here.

"Unless I don't, of course," Hermione's voice then reached into his absent musings.

He chuckled quietly. "That's some solid logic right there." It took a moment longer, but eventually his head jerked up and he stared at her with eyes bewildered under a furrowed brow. "Wait," he said, then strangely enough waited himself for a moment. "D'you mean… ? You don't mean…"

She gave him a curious, oddly significant look and heaved a no less meaningful sigh, which in its entirety was a combination of events that confused Harry to no small degree. "I really have a meeting to attend now," she told him, "so I hope you'll excuse me as I leave you to it and let you figure this one out by yourself."

He watched her turn and vanish through the portrait hole with his mouth stupidly agape, then remained like that for longer than he would later care to admit. And then he waved it off.

"I'll just ask her for help later," he said to himself, and with that made his way up to his dorm room, having momentarily forgotten all about the armchair.


A glimpse of Saturday…

As it turned out, Hermione had meant exactly what she had hoped Harry would want her to mean and precisely what Harry had certainly hoped she would mean but hadn't really dared to assume she actually did mean. And so Hermione did in fact not join the host of students that left the castle on Saturday morning and in a convoy of carriages plowed their way through thick layers of fresh snow, down to the train station where the steaming Hogwarts Express was already waiting to carry them home where they would spend the holidays with their families.

"Are you really sure about this?" Harry asked her while from an open window in a third floor hallway they watched the procession trundle in tandem down the hill slopes. And of course he did, even at this point in time when suddenly changing her mind could realistically only have resulted in two weeks of excessive moping, since she hadn't even bothered to pack her things.

"No, Harry. I'm obviously not," she answered wryly. "Which is exactly why I'm standing here right now and why I have spoken of nothing but my sincerest delight at the prospect of spending the holidays here at Hogwarts with you… a-and the other people… persons… of course."

"Ah, yes," he said with a smirk tugging at his lips. "The people persons are really what it's all about." She playfully stuck out her tongue at him. "What about your parents, though? They won't think I'm holding you hostage here, will they?"

"Don't be silly," Hermione reassured him. "Clearly you aren't even part of the explanation." He gave her a puzzled and maybe minimally worried look. "I was perfectly candid and told them that, while I generally take them to be very agreeable people persons, given the choice I simply prefer to spend Christmas with the most important piece of inanimate furniture in my life." Already he laughed as she went on, "I told them all about my precious armchair and they're both quite reasonable as far as non-Hermiones go, so they couldn't possibly expect to be able to compete with that."

Harry grinningly shook his head at her. "You're in quite the humorous mood today, I have to say."

"I told you," she said, "I'm just generally delighted." And she smiled the kind of smile that rendered her words redundant, unknowingly making Harry feel as if he could float straight out through the window and up towards the cloudy sky amongst countless dancing snowflakes – which fortunately he refrained from actually attempting.

"Gosh, it's so beautiful outside," Hermione marveled, leaning out over the window sill to properly take in the view of the surrounding landscape covered snugly in a gapless coat of white. She turned to him with a twinkle of excitement in her eyes. "D'you want to go for a walk around the grounds?"

Harry amusedly perked an eyebrow at her. "We have a whole castle practically to ourselves and the first thing you wanna do is leave it?"

Again that radiant smile of hers. "Come on," she urged him gently, and taking his hand in hers she dragged him with her – and not the slightest thought of resistance ever entered his mind.


A Christmas Tuesday…

Though seldom more than two dozen students stayed at Hogwarts during Christmas break, each and every one of them could always tell from looking at the extensive preparations alone that they were all in for quite memorable a treat, and usually every attendant of the school made an effort to at least once experience the festivities in the elaborately decorated Great Hall and their especially cozy common room equivalents. Even for those young Muggle-born witches and wizards that had eventually grown at least somewhat accustomed to the literally magical world they had unforeseeably been thrown into at the age of eleven, Christmas at Hogwarts was still a decidedly different deal – a different kind of magic. It was nothing short of the surreal manifestation of everything even the most shamelessly mawkish Christmas songs and stories they had all grown up with could possibly evoke in fantastic imagery. Lo and behold, even the elves were real! A bit weird, frankly, but real.

And thus, even though the castle was thoroughly depopulated due to the annual holiday exodus, the whole place was still brimming with its own kind of energy. It was calmer than usual, for sure. More homely and unhurried, as if everything was in half a dreamy winter slumber with even the spires of the castle itself covered in blankets of snow. Life slowed down a bit in the best way possible. Even when teachers and house-elves alike were busy decorating and preparing in the halls and corridors, even when dozens of cooing owls arrived carrying packages in all different shapes and sizes, it never seemed rushed or frantic. Like Hagrid trudging through drifts of snow and into the halls of the castle with the most enormous of trees in tow (which would later be replanted to grow even taller, because magic) it all kept to a certain rhythm, clad in a mellow if always faintly jingly melody.

As for Harry and Hermione, well, these two minds were first and foremost otherwise preoccupied, especially once Christmas Eve – and more importantly, Tuesday – was finally upon them. They certainly had not mentioned it again, but there was still the unresolved matter of that thing that eventually and most imprudently had been dubbed a date and that was set to occur on that very day. One of the more obvious problems was, of course, that there weren't any classes to be had anymore, and that they just so happened to have taken with them Harry's and Hermione's best excuse for their shared armchair recuperation, for how well could something be called recuperation when there was hardly anything to recuperate from?

There was no schedule, no fixed simultaneity of events – nothing that would conveniently nudge them both into that armchair at just the right time. Happenstance and serendipity were out of the equation. Now, suddenly, it fully relied on their own volition. Never mind that they already spent most of the time of any given day in each other's company as it was. Never mind that moment amidst the falling snow when Hermione had ended up lying on top of him, laughing at first and then quietly looking at him with her bottom lip tucked underneath her front teeth, the flimsy puffs of their quickened breaths commingling in what little air was left between them. Never mind that at one point it had taken a most curious look of Professor McGonagall for them to realize that they had somehow completely forgotten that their hands were still intertwined and that they could not have said how exactly that had come to be in the first place. Surely, somehow that whole bothersome Christmas spirit had to be at fault.

After lunch in the Great Hall, where the few remaining students from all four houses – and yes, even Slytherin – gathered at a single table right in the middle of the hall as per custom at this time of year, the afternoon progressed uneventfully, a certain armchair in the Gryffindor common room remaining altogether vacant with no one even there to notice. And while two minds at least sometimes wandered from whatever they were supposed to be focused on at any given moment and from across the distance thought of the armchair instead as it stood there emptily, patiently, neither one of these two anonymous minds could entirely avoid feeling a bit silly for it. And even as outside the sky cleared up just as its blue tint deepened into black and evening took over, things remained rather foggy on the inside, figuratively speaking.

But then at last, after spending most of the day on their legs and all of it quite busily, having helped Hagrid here and there, having joined – naturally at Hermione's pleading request – Dobby and the rest of the house-elves in the kitchens for their annual, traditionally shambolic but ultimately impressively successful creation of exceedingly delicious Christmas biscuits, and then having taken another stroll out in the snow under a starry sky after a sumptuous dinner in the Great Hall, they finally arrived back in the common room utterly and completely knackered. In fact, Harry was exhausted enough to only become fully aware of his whereabouts after he had already dropped down into the armchair like a sack of potatoes with just about as much conscious thought.

He tensed a bit at the realization, then felt properly stupid for it and then tensed a bit more when he saw Hermione taking off her shoes and sitting down on the couch with a heavy sigh of relief.

"Wake me up when it's 1997," she mumbled almost unintelligibly in the middle of a good yawn, closing her eyes and stretching her limbs. Did she have to arch her back like that, though? Harry inconspicuously tried to loosen the collar of his shirt a bit and decided to stand up again to stoke the fire that was already crackling in the hearth. The fire was not nearly as much in need of him as he was in need of something to do that did not involve leering at his best friend.

"Ah, cozying up to the fireplace, you two?" a voice made Harry turn his head over his shoulder. It was Angus from seventh year, who had just come down the stairs and was presently being joined by his girlfriend Natalie, who smiled at him affectionately as she descended the other stairway to stand at his side.

"Just casually relaxing from a hard day's work of… making cookies and… eating some of them," Harry smoothly evaded any unwarranted entanglements.

Angus regarded him with an amicable if subtly amused smile. "Of course," he said, and with a quick glance at Natalie continued, "Well, we're going someplace else to casually relax as well. You two enjoy your night, eh?" And with that they both left the common room with their arms wrapped tightly around each other's waists.

"What's that even supposed to mean," Harry muttered into a beard he could only wish he had, and he slumped back down into the armchair with his arms firmly crossed in front of his chest.

"The two lurve birds stayed here to at least once experience Christmas and New Year's at Hogwarts as a couple," Hermione mockingly imparted to him, rolling her eyes to visually emphasize the unquestionably genuine derision in her voice.

Harry scoffed in an agreeing sort of way as he tossed his glasses onto the table. "What a corny thing to do."

"Utterly vulgar," Hermione further embellished with a genteel shake of the head.

Tiredly rubbing his eyes and the bridge of his nose, it took about two minutes for Harry's thoughts to fully shift to the realization that nobody besides the two of them was around anymore. Then he spent another three minutes stealing immensely clandestine glances at his companion… saw her gazing into the fire… saw her tucking away a stray strand of curly hair behind her ear… saw her absently running a fingertip up and down the side of her slender neck… saw her slowly licking her lips and leaving a faint wet shimmer on their silken surface… to come to the conclusion that by now surely the fire had to be sweating in the heat that he was giving off. If he hadn't known any better, which naturally he did, he would have observed that Hermione almost looked as if she were waiting for something. Like a cab, for instance.

He took a very deep and determined breath then as finally, after five and a half years at Hogwarts and then the last increasingly tense five minutes, he felt the time had come for him to prove himself worthy at last of that cliché bravery commonly associated with the house of Gryffindor.

"So, uh," he began in the unmistakable manner of a hero in the making, then cleared his throat a little to get rid of that pitiful croak of a voice. "Would you… would you like to come over here? Possibly?"

Her only reaction seemed at first to be no more than a smile that blossomed shyly in a corner of her lips to spread out over the rest of her warmly illuminated features. After a couple of seconds that to Harry felt like hours, she leisurely rose from the couch and walked over to the armchair, her soft steps making barely a sound at all on the rug below her feet. Only once she stood right in front of Harry did she look up at him.

"You aren't exactly leaving me a lot of space there," she noted coyly.

Harry, remaining firmly in the middle of the seat with only a little room left between him and the copious armrests on either of his sides, maintained an air of innocence and emboldened by her willing approach said to her, "Surely you can find space enough somewhere around here."

She arched an eyebrow, hesitated for a moment, then shrugged her shoulders. And just like that she swiftly turned on the spot and let herself drop right into his lap, already leaning back and spreading her arms, doing her very best to bury Harry underneath her admittedly limited frame. Studiously ignoring him as already he huffed and puffed in exaggerated protest in between his laughter, she heaved an equally overstated sigh of perfect contentedness.

"Sooo comfortable," she assessed in mock relish, stretching a bit more just for good measure.

From somewhere deep within the mane of her long wild hair Harry's muffled voice made surrender known. "Okay, okay! Parley, truce, reparations! Let's—" He blew a bundle of hair from his mouth. "Let's try some minor rearrangements, maybe."

Giggling merrily Hermione obliged, made a 90-degree turn and with her legs dangling over the armrest on Harry's side let herself slip from his lap and into the spot that he now most obligingly left her. He straightened out his shirt a little while Hermione did effectively the same to her disheveled hair, and with the both of them exhaling a deep relaxing breath they finally looked at one another.

"So," Harry commenced. "Here we are."

"Indeed," Hermione agreed. "It's been quite a while, hasn't it?"

"Three weeks, to the day."

"Too long."


A minor beat of silence passed. Then, coming from Hermione, "I really, really missed my armchair."

Harry shook his head, chuckling. "Right, uh-huh."

"What, you don't believe me, mister?" she challenged him jocularly. "You dare question the sincerity of my affection?"

"Nah," he amended with an amused little smile. "Just its purported object."

A barely visible tinge of red on her cheeks was the only thing that undermined her otherwise perfect composure. "A rather bold assumption, I must say."

He looked straight at her then, even as she herself now kept her gaze firmly on her hands that she fiddled with perfunctorily in her lap. "I don't think it qualifies as bold at this point in time."

She was so close to him he could actually feel the hitch in her breath, and she seemed to carefully consider her response for a moment. "I suppose the possibility cannot be ruled out entirely that maybe – just maybe – the last couple of months were not exclusively about the armchair itself."

"Really?" Harry asked, feigning shock. "That's downright inconceivable!"

"A scandalous thought, I know."

"And what in the world gave you this unthinkable idea, my lady?"

"Well," his lady replied, "there is for one the small yet undeniable fact that that armchair over there," and twice Hermione nodded her head sideways, "basically is this one's identical twin."

Harry's eyes wandered over to said armchair at the opposite end of the table. Its color, size and shape, the material it was made of and every last aspect of its appearance, down to the very last detail, was indistinguishable from the one they were currently seated on. It was, truthfully, exactly the same.

"It's not the same, though," said Harry, eliciting a chuckle from Hermione. "It's not," he insisted adamantly and truly only half in jest. "Its—its position is all wrong. The way it's angled. It's objectively weird to look at the fireplace from that perspective, okay? It's just… just wrong. You could never relax over there. Not properly."

Hermione mulled over his words for a moment. "So for you it was indeed always all about this very armchair, then, and nothing else."

"I wouldn't say that," he forthwith answered, then hesitated for a moment as he tugged at a loose thread at a seam of Hermione's pants. "I don't deny that some teeny, tiny fraction of it may have been a little less about the chair and slightly more about the person that likes so much to sit in it for exactly ten minutes after the last class of every Tuesday."

Hermione secretly smiled to herself as she ran her fingers through her hair. "Sounds like quite the lunatic if you ask me," she opined. "Maybe you'd better stay away from that one."

"Could be kinda difficult," Harry skeptically rejoined. "What with her penchant for sitting on top of me and all that."

"So she's a clinger, too? Honestly, you should get rid of her while you still can."

"But I only just got her where I want her."

"And where's that?"

He regarded her with one of the more blatantly roguish smirks she'd so far seen on him as he said, "On top of me."

Hermione bashfully averted her eyes and shook her head at him even as the smiles refused to ever leave her face entirely for some inexplicable reason. "Cheeky boy," she sheepishly mumbled.

He watched her quietly for a little while. "You know," he then began in a less overtly suggestive manner, his voice quite thoughtful instead, "I trust you not to tell her, but truthfully… and despite her being both crazy and clingy… she happens to be one of my two favorite things in the world. Right alongside this armchair, I mean. Almost on par."


Harry nodded. "Very close," he said, by way of illustration holding thumb and forefinger half an inch apart. "Although…"


"Well, there's that thing the crazy girl said about the armchair once…"

"What thing?"

"Actually, she said a lot of things. She usually does." His shoulder was deservedly poked for that. "But what it all came down to was that this armchair basically is… this… divine… thingy."

"A divine thingy," Hermione tonelessly iterated.

"Yes, well, she was obviously a bit more eloquent than that," Harry admitted, "but really that's the gist of it. The essence, if you will." He paused momentarily. "Now, you see, the thing is… what I'm trying to say is… well, that I feel the same, frankly. Just, you know, not as much about the armchair as about… about her."

A contemplative sort of silence ensued, with Hermione looking to discern the most important information she could gather from his halting speech. "So you're saying she's a divine thingy, too."

He rapidly nodded his head in confirmation. "Pretty much, yeah. She doesn't know it, but… she's sublime."

"Well," said Hermione, by now fiddling not with her own hand but with his, "you'd better not let her hear that one, or she might never get off of you again."

He weakly shrugged his shoulder as he watched Hermione's graceful fingers gently explore all the lines and corners of his hand. "Could imagine worse," he muttered almost inaudibly, then shook himself when he realized he had gotten a bit woozy under her continuous touch. "What about you, though, while we're at it?"


"Your favorite things," he elucidated. "And not to pressure you or anything, but it would be kind of nice to be in there somewhere."

She giggled. "Hmmm… let… me… think," she teasingly took her time, then however grew genuinely and deeply ruminative for a couple of seconds, albeit not for the reason Harry couldn't help but fear for a moment. "Books in abundance and this armchair right here," she eventually began with a hint of melody in her voice, then continued increasingly musically, "Cups of hot chocolate and old Crookshanks my dear – To know in my heart what my best friend thinks – These are a few of my favorite things."

Harry laughed genially after having listened to her with rapt attention, and watching her intently he inadvertently remembered most vividly the way she had looked back in the kitchens earlier that day, her chestnut hair untamed and her radiant face sprinkled with spots of flour. Especially the tip of her nose. He had laughed then, too – warmly, happily – and she had stood on tiptoe to give his nose a nudge with her own and then had joined his laughter.

He presently found Hermione giving him a curious look. Perhaps his meandering thoughts were written a bit too plainly on his face. "So you're saying you can read minds now, is that it?" he asked her most fittingly.

She shook her head with an almost imperceptibly wicked little smile as she said, "Just yours."

"Oh?" His eyebrows spoke of intrigue. "Go on and tell me, then," he dared her, and by volition or by some other force compelled leaned just a bit closer into her. "What am I thinking right in this moment?"

She didn't miss the way his emerald eyes briefly flickered down to her lips with the miniature reflections of the fire glinting in their deep dark center, nor did she fail to recognize that this was not the first time they had done so. And so Hermione plucked up all the courage in her young, frantic heart and in an inner game of Truth or Dare went for both.

"You're thinking of kissing me," she told him bluntly, her every word a whisper loud and clear, "and wondering whether I want you to."

Again his face inched closer to hers, ever closer, his vagrant eyes drinking in every little detail of her countenance, one half fierily alit and the other dipped in dancing shadows. The timbre of his voice sent electrifying waves of shivers across her skin as he murmured in a cadence that rose from somewhere deeper in his throat, "Luckily your mind is an open book to me as well." She watched his nearing lips briefly twitch into an impossibly disarming, lopsided smile. "At least when you're not mulishly refusing to let me have a peek."

She exhaled a quavering whiff of a chuckle. In her lap the fingers of her right hand were loosely laced through the fingers of his left, and her other venturesome hand somehow found its way to the front of his shirt seemingly of its own accord. A single finger slipped underneath the smooth fabric and around a button, pulling him ever so slightly, ever so urgently towards her. She looked up at him through her eyelashes and mustered whatever remnants of coherence she could find.

"Tell me then what I am thinking."

With their noses a mere finger's breadth away from touching and her shimmering eyes a willing captive of his gaze, she felt all her being converge into a single pure sensation when his right hand came to lightly rest at the side of her face, his thumb a gentle stroke along her cheekbone, and her eyes fluttered shut with the faintest sigh unsteadily escaping her mouth as two trembling pairs of lips parted in nervous longing for the yet unknown.

"Kiss me," he breathed, and the susurration of his words lightly caressed her eager lips just as the gap was closed at last and finally they received the tender touch of his.

And somehow – inexplicably – it all just fit in manifold simplicity, fell right into place with everything suddenly making sense in some unfathomable way; their lips, as it now revealed itself to them, were unequivocally made to meet, to merge, to melt together and by their own wish never part again, for in this deeply stirring encounter, this heartfelt fusion of separate entities, they both with equal certainty found what likely would forever remain their favorite thing of all: to be one instead of two.

~ The End ~

Footstool note

Hermione's spontaneous song thingy: While neither the story nor its title were directly inspired by it, at some point right in the middle of it I suddenly found myself thinking of the song My Favorite Things from the 1965 movie The Sound of Music (based on the 1959 Broadway musical of the same name… which was based on the 1949 memoirs of Maria Augusta von Trapp… of which there was also a 1956 German movie adaptation… this is more complicated than I thought). So purely on a whim I wrote up those four rephrased lines with Hermione and a suitable scene in mind. Maybe someone will make a musical based on them. And then a movie. Based on my memoirs. That I have yet to write. Or sing.