Title: Flight

Author: Katie A.

Author E-mail: AmethystJackson@hotmail.com

Category: Romance

Rating: PG

Spoilers: For all four books (er…in theory)

Keywords: Harry Hermione flying

Summary: It was when she watched him fly that she knew.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

~~~

It was when she watched him fly that she knew.

Never once had she wanted to be up in the air with him before that day. She despised flying. It was the only branch of magic she couldn't succeed at, other than divination - though she would hardly call that magic.

Part of her wished that Harry wasn't always flying and playing Quidditch out of sheer jealousy; she envied him, wished she could do it as well. Mostly, however, her intentions were heartfelt. She feared for her best friend, terrified that he would be knocked off his broom yet again, and this time he wouldn't make it.

But for some reason, that day sitting in the stands of the Quidditch pitch as fourteen blurs flew around, she wished she was up there with Harry. Hermione wanted to be flying with him, perhaps with the perk of being in his arms, but just…flying. She wished she could, more than she had ever wished she could do anything.

Nobody noticed the tear that made its way down her cheek. Everyone was too intent upon watching the game.

Hermione merely watched Harry.

Quidditch was boring. It always had been. She had come for Harry's sake; he wanted her there, she knew, and she wanted to be there to protect him.

Anyway, flying made him happy. She liked to see him happy. His smile shattered the nightmares of their world. It was comforting, a bit like a reassuring statement from a leader, she thought. They all looked to Harry for guidance; he was their protector. Despite knowing the burden it caused him, she was glad.

Hermione watched him dive. His dives were steep and graceful, sharp yet fluid, and always spectacularly beautiful. Watching this, she thought, was the true wonder of a Quidditch game. It wasn't the catching of the snitch, or the scoring of a goal. It was seeing Harry fly, heading for that tiny golden sphere, frame elegantly crouched over the handle of his broom, arms tense, face intent and determined, hair blown away from his face with the force of his descent.

And nearly as soon as it had begun, it was over. Harry had found his way to the ground, arm held high, the evidence of his victory plain in the small white wings poking between his fingers and the wide grin on his face.

Hermione cheered with the rest of their house, and found herself running from the stands behind Ron, eager to congratulate Harry with everyone else.

She reached him, and found there was only one thing to do. Grinning at his grin, she threw her arms around him like she had done a rare few times before, and savored for the briefest of moments the feel of Harry.

Harry shot her a grin as she released him, leaving him to the rest of Gryffindor house. She merely stood back and smiled as Harry was ushered up into the Professors' stand to receive the Quidditch Cup for Gryffindor, curbing the desire to hold his attention, keep him all to herself.

After all. He wasn't hers to have in the first place.

~~~

Hermione glanced up from her book as Harry came to a stop in front of her, hovering on his broom, wearing an affable smile.

"Wish I could do that," she muttered, putting her book aside.

"Do what?" he asked, looking puzzled.

"Fly," she answered, gesturing to him to emphasize her point.

Harry frowned. "You know how --"

Hermione cut him off. "I learned, but I can still hardly manage. It's…it's not mental, like everything else we've learned. It's too…"

"Physical," Harry finished for her, his expression one of understanding. Hermione nodded. Of course he would understand. He knew her, generally too well. Sometimes this was a good thing. Other times, she loathed it. It made it difficult for her to hide.

"Exactly. And I'm afraid I've never been good with physical activity."

"Want me to re-teach you?" He knew this as well. But was this out of pity, or something he truly wanted to do for her?

Hermione blinked and met his eyes. It was a heartfelt offer; his emerald reflecting pools, often mistaken for eyes, told her so.

"If you wouldn't mind," she said with a small smile.

"Well. C'mere, then," he said with a grin.

Before she could comprehend what was happening, she found herself being lifted onto the infamous Firebolt in front of Harry, somehow stopping a shiver at suddenly being pressed against him. His arms snaked around her, wonderfully strong arms, thin but all muscle and bone, overlapping her own. Hermione relaxed very slightly against him, though she gripped the handle until her knuckles turned white. They were very high up, and she felt as though she might lose her balance and topple off at any moment. Still, she managed to calm herself. She trusted Harry not to let her fall.

"Here," he said, his hands resting over her own. "To go down, push down on the handle a bit…" She did hesitantly as she was told. Harry's arms guided her, and her hands acted on their own accord, but she couldn't focus her mind on it. Harry, she decided, was the worst distraction there ever was. He certainly wasn't the ideal professor for broom flight.

"Let's try to fly back up again, if you're up to it."

Hermione nodded absently, finding herself suddenly leaning back, gravity pulling her closer somehow to Harry.

Their ascent came to an abrupt stop. Harry had leveled off their flight, leaving them somewhere in the middle of space and time, suspended above the earth and under the sky. She was trying her hardest not to look down and see just how precarious their position was.

"Harry?"

"Hmm?"

Hermione looked back at him, straining her neck to see him fully. "Could you dive? Like you do when you're going for the snitch?"

Visibly startled, and quite puzzled, Harry asked, "Why?"

"I want to know what it's like," she explained, glanced quickly at the ground a little too far below. She shifted her eyes back to him. "It looks amazing."

Harry nodded, eyes comprehending. "All right. You're sure?"

"Yes," Hermione said resolutely.

"Hold on, then," he said, taking his own advice, sliding and arm around her waist, holding her tightly to him. His other hand tensed around the broom handle, and suddenly they were rocketing downward.

Her heart rate had sped up the moment his arm had gone around her, but it increased considerably as she faced the ground, coming quickly closer. She wanted to close her eyes and lean back into Harry, ignoring all else, but she stubbornly kept her eyes open, watching the earth as they sped toward it, wind whipping her hair and drying her mouth.

Just when it seemed they would crash right into the ground, their progress straightened, and they circled, reaching the ground gently. They didn't dismount, and Harry's arm stayed firmly around her middle. As her breathing slowed, she felt Harry's own, playing against her ear, and a shiver ran up her spine.

"So that's what it's like," she managed, concentrating on the ground in front of her.

"Yes. That's what it's like."

"It's a little scary," she said, her stomach fluttering where his arm still rested. Why hadn't he moved yet? She went on, verging on a nervous babble. "Like falling. Sort of out of control."

"Well, you didn't exactly have control over the broom." Had she just imagined his voice shaking?

"I suppose that could be it. I just hate the feeling of falling."

"Really?"

She looked back at him, curious at the tone of his surprise in his voice. "Well…yes."

"So you don't even like the good kinds of falling?" he whispered, both arms slipping around her, holding her tightly against him. His breath drifted over her ear and onto her cheek, so close now that his lips nearly touched her skin. "Not even falling in love?"

Hermione's breath caught in her throat, and she twisted around as far as she could, craning her neck to meet his eyes. What she found there made a slow smile creep across her lips. "You know," she breathed. "You knew all along, didn't you?"

He nodded slowly, eyes intent upon her. She didn't need to ask if he felt the same way; his eyes said everything. "And you," she murmured as he began to smile in return, one of the most beautiful smiles she would ever see on him, "you…how long?"

"Longer than you," he whispered, and to Hermione it seemed as though the moment might shatter and fall away if they spoke any louder.

"Longer?"

"Yes. For nearly a year now."

She smiled in ecstasy. She swung one leg over the broom handle, now sideways in his lap. Before she could register much of anything, she found herself crushed against Harry, her lips in the same situation.

It was almost as if she was burning, from the inside out, and she loved every second of it. Her blood began to boil, and heat flowed into her through her lips. A sudden change in gravity forced her eyes open, and a second later she and Harry toppled onto the ground. Hermione laughed softly against his mouth, feeling as buoyant as the clouds she could just make out beyond Harry.

He pulled away, grinning at her. "Something funny?" he teased.

"Not really," she replied, staring up at him, face framed by blue sky. He looked happy -- truly happy -- for the first time in a long time. Hermione's heart thumped at the thought. She made him happy.

~ fín ~