A Fine Spring Day
Harry sighed peacefully as he stared out of his open dorm window, his foot on the windowsill he was sitting on, his chin in his hand. It was a warm spring day — the wind drifted lazily over Hogwarts, teasing the grass and trees, and the sun was just about peeking through the sparse clouds making their way across the soft blue sky. The giant squid was lazily sunbathing its tentacles at the edge of the lake as students walked around them, making sure to give them a loving pat as they passed. Couples strolled around the lake hand-in-hand while friends mucked about or lounged under the shade of some trees. Homework was completely forgotten in the warmth of this fine spring day.
Harry closed his eyes for a moment and saw the taunting image of Voldemort that seemed to never cease to linger in the back of his head. It normally shattered any peaceful image Harry held and gave him a harsh reminder of what was slated for him, but it was the sort of day that even Voldemort couldn't ruin.
He smiled lazily and continued to eyeball the ant-sized people far, far below him, and he felt a warmth blossom from the center of his chest. It suffused his body, making his limbs and ears tingle with pleasure, and he rested his head on his knee as the wind teased his hair. He never wanted this day to end.
If this day didn't end, he didn't have to worry about opening Slughorn up and getting the memory from him. He didn't have to worry about Malfoy's secret mission and what it meant for the future of the school he loved so much. He didn't have to worry about risking everything he was and everything he wanted to be to end an evil Dark Lord who had marked him as his enemy when Harry had been but an infant. He didn't have to worry about the raging inferno of life blazing in his chest being threatened by another life that was colder than anything Harry could ever imagine.
He was just a normal boy enjoying a normal school day on the grounds of his home — Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Even Sirius was pushed to the back of his mind as he observed the day passing idly below him. What he wouldn't give for this to be his eternity.
He sighed again and cocked his head as he noticed a head of vivid red hair bobbing around the lake next to a head of tight brown curls. It was Ginny and Dean enjoying a peaceful afternoon in the company of the beautiful lake and each other. He also saw Ron out of the corner of his eye, and glanced over to find him engaged in a passionate 'conversation' with Lavender Brown.
Harry chuckled to himself as he thought about how happy his best friend was. He was positively enraptured by his girlfriend — something he had never had before. Harry didn't know if it would last, to be honest, but good times were abundant as things were.
Well, good for Ron, at least. Harry glanced back over at Ginny to find her wrapped around Dean as closely as possible. They were going at it with even more enthusiasm than Ron and Lavender, which was actually saying a lot.
Harry felt the familiar lion roar in his chest and tried to squash the feeling before it overwhelmed him, but he found himself looking away before he knew it. He couldn't bear to look at it.
Why did everyone but him get love? Why did everyone but him get what they want?
Sure, Ron always complained that Harry was rich and famous — he had that going for him. But Harry didn't want that. He wanted to be loved...he wanted to love. He wanted to get so lost in his passion for someone that he forgot who he was — forgot how he had ever lived a day in his life without his partner. He wanted to laugh with someone, cry with someone, rejoice with someone, and, most importantly, give his entire self to someone. And he knew that someone was Ginny, based on the roaring lion in his chest that liked to pop up whenever he pictured her captivating red hair and slender waist. What he wouldn't give to be in Dean's place right now…
He sighed in sadness this time and took a couple steps into the room so that he could flop into his bed and bury his face into his pillow. He wanted to go down to the lake so badly and tell Ginny exactly what he was feeling right now. He wanted to wrap her up in his arms and snog her until they had no choice but to break apart to catch their breath. He wanted his hands on her hips and their bodies flush up against one another. He wanted to hear her cry his name in passion.
But he couldn't do that. He had so much to worry about when it came to Ginny. First off, he had to worry about Ron. How would Ron feel if his best friend just suddenly snogged his sister senseless? Harry couldn't imagine Ron taking that well at all. Hell, Dean was nowhere near the level of Harry in terms of who Ron considered to be his best mate and he had been mad enough with Dean as it was. Harry couldn't imagine the fury he would face if Ron walked in on him and Ginny going at it like the hormone-riddled teenagers they were. Then there was Dean. Harry was close enough with him that how Dean felt about him mattered to Harry — they had shared a room for a good five and a half years now, after all. Harry couldn't just try to steal his girlfriend from under his nose without facing some sort of consequence.
But, most of all, Harry had to consider Ginny's feelings. How would Ginny feel when Harry suddenly had to go off to war and risk life and limb in his fight against evil? Would she even understand? Was she capable of letting him go out there to destroy Voldemort once and for all if it meant there was a good chance Harry would die?
Harry's heart said she would — that was for sure. That's why he was able to even consider getting together with her. His head, however, said that she wouldn't. Harry couldn't help but feel, compared to himself, that Ginny was woefully immature. She hadn't fought Voldemort multiple times and lived to tell the tale. She hadn't lost her parents at a young age and battled every day of her life until she was eleven years old, where she was finally allowed an incredibly brief respite before learning that she was being targeted by an incredibly evil and lethal Dark Lord. She didn't understand what he was going through one bit, despite being Ron's little sister and only one year younger than him. She was merely another Hogwarts student going through the motions that students at Hogwarts went through. Even if her family was somewhat poor, she was loved, cherished, and even pampered by her mother. Sure, she had gone through a bit of a rough time during her first year, but she hadn't truly experienced what Harry had gone through at length. He found it hard to believe that she would understand and accept what he had gone through and what he must go through. She didn't even remotely understand what sort of danger her own brother went through.
He rolled over and threw his arms over his eyes. He didn't know what to think anymore. Hell, he didn't even know in what way he liked Ginny. Based on what he was thinking, he didn't think it was anything close to love. When he pictured Ginny in his head, what stood out most prominently to him were her wide hips, her slender neck, and her incredibly striking red hair. He had never really pictured himself with Ginny other than being lost in passion with her. He had never imagined himself taking her out or cuddling together in front of the fire in the common room. He didn't know what to make of it.
Ultimately, he mused to himself, all he knew was that he wanted someone to call his own, and he wanted someone to be able to call him her own. He didn't know if the warm spring air was having an effect on him, but he was feeling particularly...romantic at the moment.
With that in mind, he blindly fumbled around in his trunk for a few seconds (with his face once again buried into his pillow) before his fist closed around a phial that was tucked beneath a pair of socks — felix felicis.
He pictured himself in love with a faceless witch as the liquid passed through his lips. He swallowed only a couple mouthfuls — he knew the rest would be useful in the dark times to come.
For the second time that day, he felt a pleasant warmth course through his body. He felt amazing. He would have the witch of his dreams in his arms in no time.
He hopped out of bed, ruffled his hair a bit, and strode out of his room, down the stairs, and into the common room, which was completely devoid of students. He popped out of the portrait hole and into the maze of hallways that was Hogwarts. He strutted through the castle with a grin on his face. Nothing could stop him today — he was a man on a mission. He was going to be spending the night with a witch in his arms no matter what.
He walked through the castle intending to go straight to the lake — he needed to tell Dean off and take Ginny for himself, after all. But before Harry knew it, he took a right where he needed to take a left, and he had made another right instead of turning around.
He was at the staffroom now, for some reason. He lightly knocked on the door, not entirely sure what he was doing. All he knew was that this was the right thing to be doing if he wanted to accomplish his goals.
"Potter," a sinister voice said.
Harry was unsurprised to see Snape's hooked nose and greasy hair peeking out from behind the door. "Hello there, Professor," Harry said jovially, taking his now Defence Against the Dark Arts instructor by surprise. "I wondered if I might ask you exactly what love is, seeing as how much you know about potions and all — I know there's a potion that brews exactly that and I thought you might be able to elaborate on the subject."
Snape sneered down at Harry past that greasy nose of his. "I am no longer your potions instructor, Potter. I suggest you redirect your question to Professor Slughorn."
He made to shut the door on Harry, but the inquisitive young man stuck his foot in the doorway before that could happen. "Please, Professor Snape, I insist. Professor Slughorn doesn't seem the type to have been in love before."
Snape's eyes narrowed. "Oh, and I seem to be that type?" he inquired.
Harry nodded enthusiastically, confidence swelling in his breast. For some reason, he just knew Snape was the person to be asking about this. "You do, Professor," Harry respectfully said. "I can see it in your eyes, sometimes — that wistful look you get from time to time."
For the first time in Harry's life he saw Snape at a loss for words. The older man was stuttering complete nonsense as a hint of pink rose to his cheeks. "What has Dumbledore told you, P-Potter?" he finally demanded.
Harry shrugged. "Professor Dumbledore hasn't spoken to me about you at all, Sir. Something in my gut is telling me you're the person to ask about this, though."
Snape glared at Harry for a long moment. Then he said, "Love is nothing but heartbreak, Potter. Don't come talking to me about such magic until you've seen the woman you love in the arms of another man and completely break your heart."
Harry's eyebrows rose in surprise as Snape slammed the door in his face. He hadn't expected such honesty from the man who had mutually despised him for all these years. Then he simply shrugged and skipped his way to the end of the hallway.
Once again, he faced a decision. If he made a right, he would be able to circle back around and make his way to Ginny at the lake. If he made a left, however…
Before he knew it, Harry had made a left and was happily whistling to himself as the stone walls of the castle passed him by to be replaced by lush, green grass and view of the forest in the distance. He came upon Hagrid's hut and knocked on the door rapidly. He was beginning to feel restless for some reason, as if he was forgetting something important. Something to do with Ginny and love…
"Oh, wasn't expectin' yeh, Harry," Hagrid said happily upon opening his door. "Come on in, come on."
He pulled Harry in with one of his massive arms and Harry took a seat, making sure to politely refuse one of Hagrid's infamous stoat sandwiches.
"Ter what do I owe the pleasure, Harry?" Hagrid inquired. "Haven't seen much of yeh this year, though tha's understandable, what with You-Know-Who'n all."
Harry grinned a broad grin — a grin the likes of which Hagrid had never seen on his favorite Hogwarts student's face. It was a grin that reminded Hagrid of James when he had come to consult Hagrid about Lily. "I just want to talk to you about love, Hagrid," the boy said, his eyes alight. "Nothing more, nothing less."
Hagrid laughed a booming laugh and offered a tea to Harry, which was gratefully accepted. "Harry, I'm glad yeh came ter me. I know all about love, I do." He smiled proudly. "See, the secret ter love is finding someone who gets yeh. Without tha' understanding, yeh can't have love."
Harry nodded thoughtfully as he bid Hagrid farewell. So far he had heartbreak and understanding as the two main components of love. Harry didn't know if seeing Ginny snog Dean was exactly heartbreak, but for argument's sake he figured it could fit the bill. As for understanding, though — that was exactly what Harry had been worried about before he had downed the felix felicis. It was already obvious that Ginny didn't understand Harry one bit, if his line of reasoning had been solid, and for some reason, he just knew it was.
So maybe he didn't love Ginny after all. Harry thought about this long and hard as he walked back to the castle, wondering what exactly he did feel towards Ginny if it couldn't be classified as love. He certainly wanted to snog her, that was for sure. He wanted to undress her and see what she could do in the throes of passion — but was that really love? For some reason, Harry's gut told him it wasn't. This feeling for Ginny was similar to what Seamus described when he was talking about his fling of the week. Not once had Seamus thrown around the word 'love' while describing his escapades.
Deep in thought, Harry didn't even notice that he had wandered to the statue to Dumbledore's office until he finally looked up. He wondered what he was doing there for a moment before finally shrugging and giving the password (Acid Pops). Luckily, Dumbledore was in.
"Ah, Harry my dear boy, to what do I owe the pleasure?" the headmaster asked. "For whatever reason, I get the feeling you aren't here for a talk about Voldemort?"
Harry scratched his chin. "No, Sir. Well — truth be told — I wanted to talk to you about love."
"Love?" Dumbledore asked, his eyebrows high on his forehead. "I told you all I know about it, Harry. You see, when your Mother—"
"Sorry, Professor," Harry interrupted, holding up an apologetic hand. "You misunderstand me. I'm not talking about that kind of love."
Dumbledore stewed on Harry's proclamation for a moment. "Oh," he finally said. "I see. Yes, it is only natural that you would eventually become captivated by such a concept, seeing as how you share a common room with young people around your age."
Harry enthusiastically nodded his agreement. "Yes," he said, enraptured by his mentor. "You understand. I haven't ever really seen a loving relationship with my own two eyes. Even my aunt and uncle — well, they seem to love Dudley more than they love each other."
Dumbledore stroked his long beard. His eyes lingered on Fawkes, then darted to a picture frame on his desk that Harry could only see the back of. He wondered what the picture was. "The question isn't 'what is love?' Harry. Everyone sees love as something different," Dumbledore said. Harry frowned. "It's 'do I love?' and 'am I loved?'"
Harry nodded thoughtfully. It made sense.
Dumbledore pushed on. "As for 'do I love?'...well, I can't answer that one for you, my dear boy. You are the only one who can answer that. When it comes to 'am I loved?', however…" he trailed off.
Harry was completely enthralled. "Well?"
Dumbledore chuckled. "All you need to do is look around you, Harry. Mr. Weasley and Ms. Granger certainly love you, that much even I am sure of. They have always been with you, even when the going has been tough." Harry frowned. This conversation wasn't going the way he wanted it to. "Mrs. Weasley and our old Professor Lupin undoubtedly love you, too. Much as one would love a close nephew, I would imagine."'
Harry shook his head. "I'm talking about romantic love, Professor," he blurted. "I want romantic love. I could be dead tomorrow, for all I know."
Dumbledore's eyes twinkled. He knew what he was doing. "In that case, it's important to ask the second question: 'am I loved?'" His beard twitched. "I've always felt that you can feel it deep in your gut when you are loved. I know gut feelings are one of your specialties, too, Harry," Dumbledore said. "So tell me, is your gut telling you something about a certain someone?"
Harry was still frowning. He certainly felt something in his gut. But could it be what Dumbledore was talking about? Harry found it hard to believe that the person at the forefront of his thoughts loved him in the way Dumbledore was suggesting.
"Love is a magic in and of itself, Harry," Dumbledore said. "I've told you this on more than one occasion. When we are touched by magic, especially magic as powerful as love, it leaves certain traces. While your conscious self might be telling you one thing, your unconscious self is picking up on these leftover traces of magic and is feeding you information about who loves you in what way."
Harry nodded, completely in awe. What Dumbledore said made complete sense in his felix felicis-heightened mind. When he thought about romantic love, he knew exactly who loved him in that way and he knew exactly who he loved in that way, even if it surprised him. To call his logical thought process a shock was an understatement. He had never even considered the woman whose face floated at the forefront of his conscious to be a potential love interest. But when he considered the possibility and thought of everything she had done for him, he couldn't help but feel as though it made sense. In fact, he had been foolish to consider anybody but the girl he was now thinking of.
"Thank you, Professor," Harry said distractedly. He saw Dumbledore's eyes twinkle even brighter, though the older man didn't say anything. "I have to get going now."
Harry practically sprinted out of Dumbledore's office. He tore through the halls, this time not even stopping to consider going to Ginny — it was obvious now that what he felt for her was nothing more and nothing less than lust. She had a great body, after all. What kind of 16-year-old wouldn't want to get with that?
He didn't love her, though. He was sure of that. Realizing that certainly took a load off his shoulders. However, as he grew closer and closer to his destination within the castle, apprehension built within him. He was now about to come face-to-face with the girl he actually did love, and he knew that so much time had passed that felix was no longer with him — he had taken too small a dose. He didn't need any luck to find her, though. He knew exactly where she would be on a day like this.
But as he stood outside the library, from which came smells that reminded Harry of her, he couldn't help but feel as though his luck hadn't run dry yet, even if it wasn't in the form of felix felicis. In fact, it had just begun. He didn't need Felix for the rest of the evening and night — he knew exactly what he was doing.
He took a deep breath of parchment, vanilla, and what was unmistakably her, and confidently strode into the library despite his heart trying its best to tattoo itself against the inside of his ribcage. He swallowed hard and went deeper and deeper into the restricted section until he finally found the woman who Felix had been trying to direct him to all along: his best friend. Hermione Granger.
The one who had been with him through thick and thin. The one who understood and had been with him every step of the way. The one who his mind had gone to first every time he landed himself in a sticky situation. The one who he knew had already been through hell with him and was ready for another tour without missing a single beat. The one who loved him.
Harry plopped onto 'her' restricted section bean bag with her. He blushed as their hips and shoulders touched even as her eyes didn't stop scanning the book that was held mere inches from her face.
"Harry," she said absentmindedly, her eyes still darting left and right across the page.
Feeling bold despite the lack of support from Felix, Harry snatched the book from her hands and slammed it shut. "Harry—" she protested. She stopped when she saw the look on his face, though. "Harry?" she said again, though much less forcefully this time.
Harry grinned and tossed the book across the room. Hermione's mouth opened in outrage, but Harry merely held a finger to her lips. "We're in the library," he whispered in her ear.
She turned pink all the way up to the roots of her hair. "That doesn't excuse how you treated that book," she whispered back indignantly.
Harry grinned back at her. "Who needs to study Defence Against the Dark Arts when its greatest champion is sharing your beanbag with you?" he asked challengingly. He knew Felix had abandoned him, which made him all the more surprised that he was still daring to be so bold.
Hermione flushed, though this time it seemed to be from embarrassment. "Well, unless you know exactly what is needed for nonverbal—"
Harry nonverbally cast a silencing charm on Hermione, making her jaw drop in shock. "It's just focus, Hermione," he said with a grin. "Look, I can even undo it."
He nonverbally unsilenced her. "Focus," she said, rolling her eyes. She didn't seem to mind that she and Harry were joined at the hip on the beanbag as her mind raced. "If it was simply that I would have had this down ages ago."
Harry stared into her warm, brown eyes. "It helps if you have something to anchor your focus on," he said, his nose inches from hers as his lips turned up at the corners. So this was love...
Hermione's lips twitched, though Harry sensed it was a twitch of frustration. Merlin, her eyes were brown — he didn't imagine a richer brown existed. "Anchor?" she asked, confused. "None of the books mentioned an anchor. I'm not entirely sure what you mean."
Harry thought for a moment, his eyes on Hermione's lips as she unconsciously wet them. Her lips were so full and pink. "Well, when I silenced you, I pictured your face simply smiling. Nothing more," he said, trying to fight the pink rising to his cheeks and ears. "After all, if I pictured you smiling, you wouldn't be saying anything," he added, though he knew that was a poor explanation for an anchor. Her not saying anything in his mental image had nothing to do with being able to silence her. "It's like when you're casting a Patronus," he added. "If you have a mental image that can clear your mind of all extraneous thoughts, you should be able to focus on casting your nonverbal spell."
Hermione closed her eyes, and Harry knew she was trying to cast nonverbal magic. She finally opened her eyes, a pleased smile on her face. "Well?" she said hopefully. She clearly thought she had succeeded.
Harry simply laughed, showing Hermione that her silencing spell hadn't worked. As Hermione frowned in frustration, Harry couldn't help but think that she was just so goddamn adorable when she was frustrated. His heart was pounding in his ears as he tried to keep his face from growing red at her closeness. His nerves were growing — he wished he still had felix on his side.
Hermione suddenly stood up. "I need to find a book on how to clear my mind," she said. "Surely there has to be something that explains the process."
Harry grabbed her wrist and gently pulled her back onto the beanbag. She looked surprised at his action, and even Harry was in awe of himself. "What—?" was all Hermione managed to say.
Harry screwed up his Gryffindor courage — he had promised himself he would be spending the night with a witch in his arms, after all — and brought his face closer to Hermione's. He saw her eyebrows rise, then her eyes fluttered closed as she realized what was happening.
Harry squeezed his own eyes shut as his lips brushed hers. It was a light, embarrassed peck that Harry quickly tried to back out of — he couldn't commit to this after all. It was too mortifying.
Then Hermione's hand was on his robe holding him in place, and she was pressing her lips against his, and they melted against each other. Harry's hand found its way to her waist as her hand continued to hold him there, and they stayed like that for quite a while.
When they finally broke apart, Hermione's cheeks were as red as Harry knew his own were. "Sorry," she said in a tiny voice.
Harry shook his head. "No, that was...amazing," he said.
She coughed in embarrassment and said, "W-what brought that about?"
Harry grinned. He wasn't so nervous now that he had kissed Hermione and received a good reaction. "Not much," he said. "Took some felix to get with Ginny but ended up touring the castle learning what love was instead. Long story short, I realized I wanted to be with you rather than anyone else."
Hermione took in a sharp breath. "Me?" she asked, confused. "Why me?"
"Why would it be anyone other than you, Hermione?" Harry shot back. At Hermione's confused look, he said, "When I think about what I like about you, the list is longer than you can imagine, but I'll try to give you the highlights. I like your work ethic, your never-ending thirst for knowledge, your loyalty, your bravery, the way your eyes light up when you learn something new, the way you chew your quill in thought, and yes — I even like your streaks of jealousy."
Hermione, who was now red to the roots of her hair, took a moment to scoff. "I don't have jealous streaks," she said.
Harry arched an eyebrow at her. "The Half-Blood Prince would like a word with you, Hermione."
Hermione turned her nose up. "That aside, it seems as though you've really put some thought into this."
Harry laughed. "It was a no-brainer once I realized it," he said. "I love you, Hermione."
Harry felt heat rising to his cheeks, but he held her shocked gaze evenly. Then she smiled. "I love you too, Harry."
"Brilliant," Harry said with a grin. He wasn't shocked to hear the words from Hermione's mouth — something in his gut told him he had known all along.
He pulled her in close and kissed her again. They kissed and talked the evening and night away until Madam Pince came around to make sure the library was empty — it was closing time.
She cleared her throat loudly, pulling the two of them out of what had to have been their thousandth kiss that day. Hermione turned red and began stuttering an excuse, but Madam Pince cut her off. "A library book lying forgotten on the ground. Honestly," she said. She glared at Harry. "He's a bad influence, this one."
Harry struggled to keep the laugh that was rising in his chest from escaping from lips. She was dead serious. Madam Pince picked up the book and shooed them from the library while Hermione repeatedly apologized about the book.
They walked hand-in-hand through the hallways, and while the feeling of Hermione's slender hand in his felt amazing, Harry wished they were still kissing on the beanbag chair. Hermione sensed his restlessness. "What's up?" she asked.
Harry gave her a slight bump with his shoulder, a broad smile on his face. "Just eager to continue our...conversation from the library."
Hermione chewed on her lip for a moment. "Why, Mr. Potter, I do believe you're flirting with me," she said with a small giggle. Harry's heart swelled at how happy and carefree Hermione looked at that moment.
"That's it," he said, and he took off running towards the Gryffindor common room, dragging Hermione along with him. They were going to continue the library conversation as soon as possible.
Harry had what he was sure was the biggest smile he had ever smiled on his face. He finally had what he wanted, and he would make sure to never let her go. His Hermione. And, listening to her laughs echo through the halls as they ran, he knew she felt the same.
It really was a fine spring day.
A/N: Please feel free to review and let me know what you think.
Been working on a long fic for the past few weeks. I'm posting regular updates on my profile as I work towards putting it up, so keep an eye out if you're interested.
Thank you for reading!