Hey, everyone. It's been quite a while since I've uploaded anything. No inspiration, really, but I recently got back into Harry Potter and re-read the story I had written last year. It felt a bit short, a bit abrupt - I considered going back and changing it to give it the detail it deserved but there was no real way of doing that without making Ron seem like a voyeuristic perv. So, I wrote a new one, primarily from Hermione's perspective (I sorta struggled keeping it one POV). If you haven't read my previous story Requiem, you don't have to, it isn't necessary. A sequel to this may occur, seeing as I cut out events from the last half of Requiem in this story. Don't know if I can do that to myself after writing this. I've become WAYYYY too emotionally attached to this couple now.

Warning: Some pretty detailed smut in here - my first real attempt, so don't laugh. I cringed at the lack of synonyms I had for the word 'moved'. Also, slight profanity. I think I used the F word once or twice. Readers beware.

Disclaimer: I don't own the cover image at all. I also don't own the Harry Potter universe, J.K. Rowling does. If I did, Harry and Hermione would've ended up together with a gazillion babies. The end.


Update: Sequel, The Wish, is up now! Check it out!

Hermione Granger usually disliked it when things didn't go according to plan. Planning was important to her; she lived her life according to the timetable of her own making, and deviations made her uncomfortable. Not to say she was obsessive, certainly not. Rather, life was easier, more predictable, when one had a clear idea of the way in which they were to go about day to day life, especially when one was best friends with the ever-in-trouble Harry Potter; on quiet days the structure kept her sane, head above the tide that was Harry's dangerous life. She had mapped out her future, settling her hopes on one Ronald Weasley to finally open his eyes and realise that, yes, she was a girl, and yes, she liked him about as much as he seemed to like her. She had never really considered the fact that she was settling – the expectations of everyone else had rubbed off on her to the point she wasn't aware that her aspirations weren't fully her own.

The idea had never really occurred to her until she went on the run with Harry and Ron in seventh year. Being in a tent with two boys, in isolation, certainly seemed an appropriate time for such reflection. Most of the time there was little available to do. It seemed inaction brought out the true characters of each of her best friends. The realisation startled her – she always knew Ron could be unpleasant, even mean, but never cruel. But here they were, Ron spouting off hideous accusations about she and Harry carrying on behind his back, as if he had claim to her, insinuating she was a cheap whore and Harry was a scoundrel taking advantage of her. She denied it, of course; she didn't see Harry in that way, but to no avail. Ron was too far gone for reason, the Horcrux poisoning his mind for days, turning him against them, against her. When he Apparated away from her she felt broken. He abandoned her, he abandoned her, he abandoned her. And the Golden Trio was whittled down to two.

She and Harry had always had a close relationship; it was the source of many disputes among Harry's few girlfriends (if one could even call them that). Cho, even Ginny – they were both suspicious of Hermione's relationship with the Boy Who Lived, no matter what either one of them did to argue against the assumptions that something more existed between them. Even she, though the boys little knew of the fact she had indeed dated over the course of their schooling, experienced difficulty with boys thinking she had been seeing them behind Harry's back. She comforted him during the Ginny debacle; he held her while she cried over Ron and Lavender; the Ministry in fifth year, support in fourth year, Sirius… It was only natural, considering all they went through together, that they should be close.

Hermione had decided long ago that Harry was off limits. Not only did she not feel an attraction to him, but Ron seemed just as suspicious of them as those they'd each dated. It was better not to invite anger on Ron's part, as she was all too aware of how unpleasant life could be with Ron constantly on edge. It was never spoken of; never discussed between them. They were friends, and that was that.

Spending time alone with him in that tent, Hermione felt some of that resolve slipping. First there was denial, then anger, then acceptance, as though she was going through the stages of grief; she refused to acknowledge the possibility that she was cultivating feelings for Harry Potter beyond the established boundaries. She could hardly help staring at him, his messy hair that had its own charm, his green eyes and crooked grin, the way he showed off his surprisingly muscular shirtless tan body, the way his pants rode low on his hips, exposing the slope of his muscles leading down to his… No. She was all too sure he was entirely oblivious to the effect he was having on her. Obviously it was born out of a lack of other available men – for that was certainly what he had become. A man. An unavailable man, who belonged to Ginny Weasley, her best girl friend, the sister of the object of her own affections… But it was no use denying what the heart wanted. Over time, she began to wonder how and why she ever liked Ron – perhaps it was out of a desire to please, to meet everyone's expectations – as her feelings for the unattainable deepened. And that brought a fresh dose of heartache to her daily life, surpassing any of the angst she had experienced while liking Ron. She knew Harry could never know, and it was never meant to be.

The man in question knew there was something wrong; though, she thought, he probably assumed she was still mourning the departure of Ron. In a way, she was – if Ron was there he'd be a sort of buffer between the two, a way for her to escape. Perhaps she could have continued in blissful ignorance of these feelings, which she was sure were somehow always there. No one develops feelings that quickly, especially not her, the logical third of the group.

His not-so-subtle methods of comforting were like torture to her. Harry was even touchier than before; he'd rub her lower back while she cooked them tea each night, he'd hold her more often, he'd just want to be around her more. He particularly enjoyed winding his hands into her hair, playing with it, twisting it around and combing through it in the way he seemed to always know would make her shiver. Some nights he'd take her to bed with him – he would enlarge the bottom bunk so they could both fit in. Neither of them usually slept well in the same bed together, but it was a comfort to know she wasn't alone. They'd press up together in the cold, and all the while her mind ran with thoughts of what it would be like to tilt her head up and kiss him, to press her naked skin to his, to have him make love to her. She wondered what he'd be like as a lover – Ginny never told her anything other than he was good. She wondered if he would be gentle and considerate or rough, firm and relentless or fiercely passionate, soul consuming. As futile as it was to brush these thoughts away, she would still try; and they'd reappear with a vengeance, flooding her knickers and making her wriggle with shame against him. If he noticed it he didn't comment.

She knew she couldn't keep it up for much longer. The tent was fast becoming an emotionally charged environment for her – at least, she felt it. It was getting harder and harder to ignore Harry watching her with darkened eyes as she bustled about the tent, feigning activity and pretending not to notice. Their sleeping together was more common now than not; Hermione grew so attached to him she felt herself unable to sleep without him by her side. Every morning she woke up with him wrapped around her, holding her tightly to him. Sometimes the contact was inappropriate – she had to go down to the lake and douse herself with cold water to banish the memory and sensation of his hand cupping her breast. He would accidentally brush against her, whether it be reaching around her for the bag in which she held several books she had thought useful for their quest, or moving past her in the cramped kitchen. It was getting more difficult for her to deny the fact that Harry was also experiencing changing feelings. She was convinced it meant nothing, a reaction to her closeness. He loved Ginny.

Hermione sat outside the tent. It was her turn for guard duty, pointless as it was. There was little chance of her wards malfunctioning; if there was anything about which she was positive, it was the skill of her spellcasting. Mostly, she used this time to be away from Harry, to pretend he wasn't there. She loved him. She was in love with him. And she wished more than anything she wasn't, because Harry was Ginny's and she had to make her peace with it.

She was startled by sudden movement beside her. Harry had settled down next to her. She stiffened. She could feel his warmth seeping through his jeans, making her all too aware of just how close he was to her. Idle chitchat filled the night air for a time; then discussion of the Horcruxes, of moving plans; then there was silence. It stretched out, pregnant with the tension felt for weeks and the weight of things left unsaid. Then Harry spoke.

"You've been strange lately, Hermione," was all he said.

"So have you," she shot back.

"Yes," he murmured. She turned away from him. That was the wrong decision; she could feel his breath on her neck, and she knew he had moved even closer. She wasn't ready for this. He would use her, and leave her for Ginny when it was all over.

"Why are you turning away from me?"

"Because I'm scared I'll lose control of myself if I don't," she whispered back.

It was inevitable, this culmination of all those moments of attraction. They were drawn together like magnets, resistance in the form of loyalty to those they felt they ought to belong with, resistance that was wearing rapidly down by the second. She knew she wouldn't be able to fight him, not for long, and resigned herself to having this, choosing her own path for one night instead of feeling obligated to conform to the one set for her by what seemed like everyone else.

He mouthed over her skin, placing hot caresses down the side of her throat and sucking lightly at the junction between neck and shoulder. She shivered and all pretence of resistance was dropped; her head tilted to the side to allow him better access, which he used to his advantage, travelling up to her ear and biting softly on the lobe. Her breath came in short gasps. He held her up with arms wrapped around her, pulling her to him.

The urge to kiss him, to surrender, was overpowering. She turned to face him and found him panting softly, eyes hooded with lust, near feral. She pressed herself to him, and, knowing exactly what she wanted, he bent his head and kissed her. Hermione moaned low in her throat as he dominated her mouth, parting her lips and exploring her. There was no going back.

They stumbled into the tent, lips moving over each other, pulling at clothes and leaving them strewn across the floor. Once she was in her knickers and bra, Harry grasped her bum and pulled her up to his height, forcing her to wrap her legs low around his hips. She felt him pressed against her core, his lips working once more at her throat as he walked them to her bed in a partition away from the rest of the living area. He lowered her down onto the narrow mattress, pulling away to look at her in all her wild-haired, ravaged glory.

"You're beautiful," he said softly. He moved his mouth over her collarbone, down to her covered breasts. He reached under her, pulling gently at the clasp, before dragging it down her arms and throwing it behind him. She cried out softly as his lips suckled at her teats one by one, drawing them to stiff peaks before continuing his journey down.

She tensed as he drew down her underwear, tossing them away. He tried to part her legs; she wouldn't budge. Her courage had failed her. As though he knew her mind at that moment, he pressed his lips gently against her knees, on her thighs, against her mound, wordlessly encouraging her to open up for him. A slight relax of the muscles – he pulled her thighs apart with little resistance.

The first swipe of his tongue across her nether regions was startling to Hermione. She whimpered in confusion at the overload of the senses, the strange tickling feeling down there. His next swipe, firmer than before, pulled a harsh gasp from her lips. She bucked up softly, her body yearning for what her mind didn't understand, and Harry held her by her hips to still her movements. Hermione waited, wondered what he was doing, and his mouth returned to her core. She called out as his lips pulled on the sensitive bud, and almost sobbed at the intensity of the sensations he was eliciting. She needed something, she was aching for it.

"Please," she breathed, tossing her head from side to side, her hands gripping the duvet tightly. Something was rising in her – her belly was tightening in anticipation for something, she was almost there –

His movements stopped abruptly; she whined at the loss of feeling as he moved up her body, stopping to press his mouth gently across the plane of her stomach, between her breasts, under her chin. Their lips connected once more, and she could taste the strange tangy flavour of herself on him. It was not unpleasant, mixed with the spearmint toothpaste he used and warm taste of Harry that accompanied it, evidence of their union. He shifted below, and the sound of sliding fabric across skin registered vaguely to her ears.

Her eyes opened wide at the blunt pressure against her centre. Harry's head dropped down into her neck, groaning softly. An uncomfortable stretch – a snap – tears filled her eyes as she whimpered softly. He kissed her, wiping the tears away with his mouth. There was a tense wait. Harry held himself still within her, waiting as she adjusted to his girth and the entirely new sensation of being filled. Her walls fluttered around him, contracting, and he stopped his eyes from rolling back into his head. She shifted slightly against him, wincing at the slight pain, forcing him deeper, in, in. A new feeling crept up in her, and she chased after it, sliding against him again. Taking it as an invitation, Harry rocked softly within her, little strokes, barely there, and Hermione began to appreciate the pain with the growing sensation of pleasure as he took her. She gasped and shuddered as his movements lengthened, driving into her with increasing force, punctuated by grunts and juddered moans from the man above her.

He pulled her hips, beckoning her upwards, and she followed him willingly. Harry sat back on his knees and slid her atop him, settling her on his lap, wrapping her arms around his neck for support. The new position forced him further into her, and she cried out loudly as he brushed something within, something that made her body quiver instinctively.

"There it is," he chuckled softly. He moved against her, pressing against that spot again and again, encouraging her to glide with him. Hermione's body took over as she found her rhythm, pushing down on him as he pushed up. The delicious friction made both gasp and shudder.

"Harry," she breathed out softly in time with the movements of their bodies. She felt a rising tension again, stronger than last time, a coiling deep within her that threatened to snap at any moment. Her cries grew louder, louder as her belly tightened, hurtling towards something unknown and –

She called out his name loudly as the hot waves of pleasure reached their peak, and collapsed boneless against him. Harry pushed her back down and rammed into her with startling intensity, her name a mantra upon his lips. He stared into her eyes, holding her gaze as he reached his own completion, marked by a quick series of jerking thrusts. He collapsed atop her for a few moments, before rolling to the side and getting out of the bed.

Hermione felt the tears of humiliation rising; she didn't expect him to stay the whole night with her, but she had at least hoped they could pretend it wasn't just a cheap fuck. She rolled over to face the wall of the tent, biting her fist to stifle her sobs as the tears flowed.

The bed shifted; with a creaking groan the mattress dipped. She started slightly as Harry leaned over her.

"What's wrong? Did I hurt you?" he panicked, hands ghosting down her body, inspecting for injuries.

She could only shake her head. If she spoke, embarrassing crying noises would surface.

"Was it bad, then?" he said, a little duller than before.

She shook her head again. Breathing deeply, she got her tears under control while Harry waited patiently for her to recover.

"What's the matter, love? Come on, talk to me," he soothed, pulling her to face him and smoothing her wild hair out of her eyes.

"I thought you left," she murmured, still on guard. She didn't respond to his ministrations, though she wanted to badly.

Harry laughed softly, but quieted immediately following a choice glare from his bed partner. "I just went to get my wand," he stated, holding it up sheepishly. "The bed's not big enough for the two of us to sleep."

"Oh," she said. Hermione cast her eyes down, embarrassed about her reaction.

"Why would you think I would leave?" he asked, a look of hurt in his eyes.

"Because," she replied miserably. "I know we had a moment of weakness and maybe you regret it and I'm really sorry about worrying you but I really didn't mean to and you don't need to worry I won't tell Ginny so you and she can–"

"Hermione," he cut her off. She looked up at him to see a trace of anger in his countenance. "I don't care if you tell Ginny. Bloody hell, you can tell the entire Weasley clan and all their extended relatives that I shagged you if you really want to. Why would I hide anything?"

"Because you love her!" Hermione exclaimed, sitting up indignantly. It shocked her to see him so blithe in disregarding the feelings of his girlfriend, and for some strange reason she felt she had to remind him of his feelings.

He chuckled bitterly. "If there's anyone I love, it isn't her. How can you be so blind, Hermione? I liked her, sure. She was a good distraction for a while, but even she knew I didn't like her in that way. Certainly didn't love her. Don't you understand why Ron's always jealous? Why Cho couldn't stand you? Merlin, Hermione. Can't you see? It's you, it's always been you." He was almost yelling by the end of it, and turned away abruptly. She could see his profile in the dim candlelight; he was hunched over, as though defeated, waiting for the rejection.

She froze as she considered the past few years in a different light. She had always believed his actions to be those of a friend towards another friend. But, cast in a new perspective, she began to realise maybe she had got it wrong, maybe Ron was right in thinking Harry was out to get the girl. The looks he gave her at the Yule Ball were easy to shrug off as a fluke – but what if they weren't? What if he genuinely desired her? And fifth year, the way Cho confronted her, accusing her of stealing Harry from her – didn't she say Harry never stopped talking about her? And how he stayed in the hospital wing for ages, waiting for her to wake up after Dolohov's curse in the Department of Mysteries? The occurrences flashed through her mind like an old-fashioned movie reel. Harry holding her, comforting her while she cried over Ron. Harry sheepishly deflecting her hints to ask Ginny out, instead turning the conversation to homework. Studying with her, despite hating it, just to spend time with her. Touches. Kisses placed on her forehead, her temple, her cheek. Hugs, smiles, laughter. It was all for her. All hers.

The knowledge overwhelmed her, and she felt crushingly guilty for pursuing a boy little worth her attentions when this man was right in front of her all along. She wondered how she never saw it – it was certainly obvious now. He loved her; he had been in love with her this entire time, and she had been too blind or stupid to see it.

"Harry," she breathed. He didn't respond.

She moved over to him, across the bed, and kneeled behind him. Harry remained tense and stiff, hunched over with his head in his hands. Hot tears of shame and guilt filled her eyes and spilled over. She had forced him to endure her pining for his best mate for so long – she had only liked the git and it was painful, she couldn't even imagine what it must be like to love someone but feel duty bound to hold it in. Hermione leaned forward, pressing herself against his back, and wound her arms around his neck.

"I'm sorry. I'm a horrible person. I can't believe I never noticed it. I wasted so much time," she said softly into his ear. She fell silent, and dropped her head down to his neck, where she placed soft kisses as his shoulder grew steadily damp.

"I love you, you know. So much. I'm in love with you. I think I always have been, but I settled for something else because you were always off limits to me," she rambled, sporadically skimming her lips over his shoulder blades, his neck, behind his ears. "At least, to me you were. I thought you were. I thought you never had those feelings for me, because Cho is so pretty and Ginny's so beautiful and they're sporty and really tall and I'm pretty much the opposite of those things so – anyway. And then you started showing that you might have feelings for me and it scared me, because I trained myself for so long not to think of you in that way. And I knew I couldn't keep it up, pretending I didn't know what we both knew, and I'll be damned if I died not being with the man I love before he settles down with another woman. I really did think it meant nothing to you, Harry, and I'm so sorry I ever made you feel that I felt that way, because all I ever wanted for you was to be loved, and I'd have settled for any love you'd have me give you."

There was silence. They each didn't move for several moments. Hermione buried her face into his neck, inhaling the scent of grass, old parchment and something woodsy that was purely Harry. Just like the love potion, but so much more real. Harry shifted in her arms – she unwound herself from him, sitting back and waiting for him to turn to her, whether it be good or bad.

He was smiling. It was a soft smile, not exactly happy, but full of a mix of emotions that Hermione could tell meant he had forgiven her for her blunders over the past few years.

"For the brightest witch of your age, you really are dim," he snorted ruefully. "It makes sense now, yeah. In Hermione logic. But why did you assume I could never love you because you aren't formed like Ginny or Cho? I like short, and I like brainy. You know why? Because they're you. I love you for you, not because of this or in spite of that. Just because."

She smiled, her eyes watery. Harry leaned forward and caught her mouth with his own, pressing hard and firm, parting her lips and delving into her cavern, a tender facsimile of their first kiss conducted some time before. He held her to him by her hair, and arm wrapped around her waist, pulling her to the edge of the bed with him. She wrapped herself around him, absorbing his touch greedily.

"I love you," he said between pants, pressing his forehead against her own, catching his breath.

"I love you, too," she replied, playing with the hairs at the nape of his neck.

Nothing more needed saying. They both moved across the mattress, Hermione laying down across the enlarged bed. Harry slid the sheets out from under her, casting a quick cleaning spell to banish away the traces of blood from her lost innocence, before slipping in beside her and pulling the covers over their bodies. For the first time in a long time, they fell asleep at night and didn't wake up until the sun had graced the chilled sky the following day.

Subsequent days had much of the same rhythm about it, save for the adventure to Godric's Hollow to visit Harry's parents. He introduced her to his parents' grave then as his wife, and upon the surprised look she had given him he had merely stated she was a Potter in everything but on paper, which brought tears to her eyes. The aftermath of battling the snake at Bathilda Bagshot's left Harry unconscious for several hours, much to the extreme worry and panic of Hermione. After a lengthy celebration of his returned consciousness, Harry resigned himself to sharing Hermione's wand after discovering his own was broken. It worked better for him than he expected, perhaps due to the close relationship he had with its owner.

Much of the unoccupied time was spent shagging. Their free time had left them to become rather inventive, with Harry taking on the highly pleasurable role of teacher to Little Miss Know-It-All on the new topic of the joys of sex. Over the chair, on the floor, on the kitchen bench and the dining table, in the lake, on the grass outside the tent, against a tree. She was a quick learner, eager to study, and even more eager for repeat performances for 'data collection'. She learned how to ride him, how to pleasure him orally, how to receive pleasure in inventive ways; she enjoyed him mounting her, though she didn't appreciate not being able to see Harry during sex. Only rarely they forgot to cast some kind of contraceptive spell, and Hermione was secretly worried about the possibility of getting pregnant during the war while on the run. However, it rarely stayed in her mind, with the frequent distractions her lover would offer her.

Their near constant shagging served as a good way to tire themselves out, and Hermione found her baggy eyes disappearing and her body filling out once again as Harry took over the role of finding food. It turned out that fish were inhabitants of the lake in summer; with a little effort Harry could concentrate on summoning fish from the open sea through a decent-sized hole in the ice coating the small stream connecting to the lake they had set up residence nearby to. Hermione began to have less qualms about stealing food, being more and more concerned about the need to survive; she would Apparate to some of the farms she used to visit as a child obsessed with barnyard animals and steal potatoes and carrots, the occasional lettuce. Only enough for the two of them, for she refused to be a detriment to the owner's livelihood. They settled into healthy meals with healthy mealtimes once more, though the fish were often scaly and full of bones due to the fact Hermione knew next to nothing about cooking fish.

Hermione awoke one morning to find Harry wasn't beside her. It wasn't too unusual, but differing in routine enough to warrant her clothing herself warmly and tidying up the bedroom, scattered with last night's clothing. She went outside and waited for him to return, presumably with freshly caught fish. Settling down amongst the snow, she watched the silent stillness around her peacefully. The Forest of Dean was all white and green and brown this time of year. Suddenly she stiffened – another, glaringly bright colour invaded in the near distance. She could just make out the tell-tale raven of Harry's messy head of hair moving towards the campsite, accompanied by – no.

Red hair, a flame amongst the white. Ron Weasley had come back, and was moving towards her. She panicked as she realised she had no wand to threaten him with, as Harry was the current custodian of the precious cargo. Deciding he probably wouldn't notice the difference, she selected a thick, relatively straight stick from the forest floor and brushed it off, brandishing it at the specks as they rapidly formed into human beings, Harry and Ron.

Ron clearly expected some expression of joy from Hermione. No. She refused to be pleased by his return – especially as it would surely disrupt the regularity of her life in the weeks of his absence. Harry would keep his distance out of guilt and a misplaced sense of betraying his best mate, and she'd be damned if Ronald Weasley stuffed it all up yet again.

Harry approached her boldly, brushing his hand lightly over the arm holding the stick. He was slightly amused at the sight, but looked upon her gravely.

"Don't, love," he whispered to her, out of Ron's earshot. "He saved my life. And he destroyed the locket. Just let him stay, he's spent ages trying to find us."

Hermione narrowed her eyes at Ron over Harry's shoulder; satisfied when she saw him gulp, she broke down and replied – "Fine, he'll stay. But I'm not going to be nice to him, the wanker, he's ruining our peace."

With that, she stormed inside, and heard Harry as he reassured Ron that she'd come around. Wasn't bloody likely, at least not right now. She was perfectly content to be angry at Ron for leaving, and even angrier for coming back. Let him stew in his own juices.

She almost rolled her eyes in front of him when he told them the story of how exactly he had come to find them. She was deeply uncomfortable with the fact that he still appeared to harbour deep feelings for her, feelings she didn't share and wasn't sure she ever did. But still, some good came of his return; he had brought extra wands for Harry to try out, see which one was best suited to him for now. It meant Hermione could have her wand back.

As she had expected, Harry didn't come to her bed after Ron's return, instead taking her deep into the forest to seek their pleasure. They were forced into playing at normality, pretending nothing had changed to protect Ron's feelings, when everything had changed. She wanted so badly to just give up the lie, to flip the metaphorical finger at the red-haired boy, but in her heart she knew she simply wasn't capable of being that cruel to him. So she endured in silence.

As the days went by she became increasingly aware that Ron was growing suspicious of the interactions between his two best friends. No matter how hard they tried they couldn't return to the way they had been before, at least not entirely. Harry, so used to touching her, wasn't quite able to resist holding her, doing her hair, just being in contact with her. She couldn't resist the urges to fix his clothing, embrace him, kiss him on the cheek, the forehead – all the places within acceptable boundaries of lips-to-skin contact between friends. She couldn't help asking him to help her with something, anything, as often as possible as a way of being able to spend time with him, laughing with him, playing around with him.

Ron distanced himself from them, becoming cold and moody, much like he had been before he had left. It placed a fair bit of strain upon Harry and Hermione, who felt guilty and annoyed at the same time. She didn't belong to him – she never did, and she was Harry's now, then, always. What right did Ron have to act like they had betrayed him?

He took to spending more and more time away from the tent, outdoors, going for long walks in the forest. Hermione and Harry found entertainment in occupying the neglected bed and using it thoroughly in the times he left. Night time duty also became a frequent choice of Ron's – no matter how much Hermione would coax and tease him, Harry still refused to make love to her with Ron anywhere near the tent.

"Are you ashamed of me or something?" She said quietly one night, after yet another such argument.

"No! It's not like that, Hermione," he exclaimed. "I'd never be ashamed of you, love. It's just… last time Ron thought we were screwing around, he said some pretty nasty things about you. If he actually caught us in the act… I don't want you upset over him ever again."

He sat down on the bed beside her wearily. She leaned against him, kissing the shell of his ear and travelling down his throat.

"I don't care," she whispered as Harry shifted uncomfortably. She smiled in victory at the growing evidence of his arousal, a sure sign she was halfway to winning the argument this time around. "I love you, and I want to be with you, and I don't give a damn what Ronald Weasley thinks because, quite honestly, it isn't any of his business. We're making it his business by using him as an excuse – if he's really uncomfortable with it, he doesn't have to stick around. We survived without him before, quite well if my memory serves me. I love him, but he doesn't dictate our lives. Now come on," she breathed, pulling her shirt over her head and exposing her bare chest to his lustful gaze, leaning back teasingly on the bed. "I want you to make love to me, Mr Potter."

She giggled softly at his enthusiastic acceptance of her proposition, watching languidly as he stripped off. He still never failed to awe her – his body seemed perfectly formed to her, from his broad shoulders, to the impressive girth and length of him, even down to the tiny black hairs that dotted his toes. Harry knelt down at the end of the bed and pulled her pants off in one smooth glide, swallowing visibly as he realised she had gone without knickers.

"Sly little witch," he murmured as he dove forward and caught her lips with his own in a passionate embrace. No foreplay was needed; Hermione had been wet for him for hours, days even, and the sight of her body never failed to bring Harry to attention. He slid forward, her tight heat welcoming him home.

"Yes," she gasped as he started rocking into her with firm, even strokes. It would be slow tonight, after so many days of quick shags in the forest, or rough tumbles in the tent. So overcome with emotion was she that she didn't know where to touch him, hold him – she wanted to feel him everywhere, make sure he knew how much she loved him. Her hands fluttered over him, stroking his back, running down his arms, through his hair. The sounds of the old mattress squeaking, of impassioned sighs and uniform grunts, of skin sliding and loving endearments chanted filled the night air. Harry drove into her relentlessly, running his hands over her body, refusing to pick up the pace or slow, bringing her to a slow, burning climax. He followed not long after, with the taste of her name on his lips. He rolled over, bringing Hermione with him, still connected. They hadn't meant to, but the activity quickly brought fatigue over them, and they dropped off into peaceful sleep.

Neither one of them heard the barely audible sobs from the entrance of the tent.

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