Author's Notes: This was written in response to skully's challenge in the Harry/Hermione forum on Portkey and is posted there as well.   The song is "Thirty Minutes" by t.A.T.u. and doesn't belong to me.   I own nothing except the plot.  

This is most likely the most angst-filled fic I've ever written or will ever write.   I made myself depressed while writing it.  

As it is, please let me know what you think.   Oh and extra points for anyone who can find the quote from Lori Summers' wonderful fic, "HP and the Show that Never Ends" in this chapter.  

~Part I~

Thirty Minutes

The young woman in the mirror was beautiful.  

Very pale, it is true, with some lingering sadness in her brown eyes, but she was beautiful.   Tall and slender in her white dress, simply styled as was her habit, the skirt flaring out slightly in an A-line, with off-the-shoulder short sleeves.  

Her mother stood behind her, hands over her mouth and tears in her brown eyes so like her daughter's.   "Oh Hermione, my baby girl…  You look beautiful, sweetie." 

Hermione promptly manufactured a smile and put it on for her mother's sake.   "Thanks, mum."

She fell silent, studying herself again.  

She was getting married.   In a little more than half an hour, according to the clock in the small dressing room at the wizarding court-house.  

She should be happy.   She was marrying her best friend and she did love Ron.   He was sweet, kind and funny, and he loved her.   He would be good to her.  

And yet…   And yet… 

When she closed her eyes, she saw another face, just as familiar, but with messy black hair instead of red, and bright green eyes shining behind round glasses instead of bright blue. 

She bit her lip.   And suddenly she knew.  

She couldn't get married without getting this one secret off her chest.  

Mama, Papa
Forgive me

Out of sight
Out of mind
Out of time
To decide

Do we run?
Should I hide?
For the rest
Of my life

She turned to her mother.  "Mum, can you ask Harry to come in here?   I have to talk to him."

Her mother looked surprised.  "Harry?   Now?"   She looked uncertain but then said, "Of course, dear.   I'll be right back."

Left alone, Hermione sat down at the dressing table, staring blankly at the mirror, remembering… 


"Hermione, I love you.   Will you marry me?"

She had hesitated.   She knew that much as she cared about Ron, she would never love him completely and wholly the way he deserved.   She knew that she never had loved Ron the same way he loved her, could not love him that way. 

Because she had given her heart already to someone else.   To their other best friend.   To Harry.   Only he didn't know it, and didn't care.  

She looked into his blue eyes, filled with sincere love and hope and suddenly felt a wave of tenderness.   Dear, dear Ron.   She couldn't hurt him.  

And so she opened her mouth and said, "Yes, Ron, I will."

4 words that had changed her life.  

For at that moment, she made a decision.   She would try to forget Harry, or at least if not forget him, she would never give Ron a moment's pain or worry about her feelings.  


Alone in the dressing room, Hermione thought about that day a few months ago and the promise she'd made to herself and to Ron, although he didn't know it.   Only now, with half an hour before her wedding, she was filled with doubts again.  

She had to lay this, her one secret, to rest, before she could go on and begin a new life as Hermione Weasley.  

Can we fly?
Do I stay?
We could lose
We could fail

In the moment
It takes
To make plans
Or mistakes

30 minutes, a blink of an eye
30 minutes,to alter our lives
30 minutes,to make up my mind
30 minutes,to finally decide

There was a knock on the door and Harry entered.   "Hermione?   What is it?"

He was dressed in a suit, in his role as best man, and she couldn't help but think how handsome he looked.  

He stopped when he saw her, shutting the door behind him by rote, his jaw hanging slack, and his eyes widening as they took her appearance in, moving from the top of her head to her feet and back again.  

She fought back tears.   Having him look at her like this suddenly made her feel like the most beautiful girl in the world.   She knew she was passably pretty but only he could make her feel beautiful.  

Oh, Ron told her on a regular basis that she was pretty, but somehow the words from him never meant as much.  

The look on Harry's face and in his eyes meant so much more.   She fought down another pang of guilt over Ron.

Harry blinked, seeming to remember himself.   "Hermione," he finally breathed, "you're beautiful."

She blushed.   "Thanks, Harry."

He smiled and moved to sit down across from her in the one other chair the room had, looking oddly out of place in the feminine room.   "What did you want to talk to me about?   Your mother said it was important."  

She looked at him, into that face she knew so well and loved so much.  

She opened her mouth, closed it, thought for a few minutes and then finally began to speak, avoiding meeting his eyes, as she spoke in a low voice.  

"Harry, I have to tell you something before I marry.   I – I love you, Harry."

He blinked, looking nonplussed.   "I know.  I love you too."

She gave a half-laugh, blinking back tears.   "No, no, I meant, I'm in love with you."   There, it was out.  

She hurried on before he could react.   "I've loved you since sometime 5th year, I think, and I waited and hoped for so long that you would finally notice me in that way.   But you never did, never looked at me as anything but a friend and when Ron asked me out, I thought I might as well give up on you.   And I did care about Ron, you know that.   He's my best friend.   I didn't want to hurt him.   That's why I agreed to marry him.   I know he loves me and I love him too, in a way.   But today, I suddenly realized that I never stopped hoping, somewhere deep inside, that one day you would see me as more than a friend and I knew I had to tell you before I married Ron.    I guess you could say I'm exorcising my demons."   She finished with a half-laugh, half-sob.  

Harry was still silent, looking conflicted, confused, his eyes blank.   He opened his mouth to say something, then closed it again.  

She continued before he could speak again.   "You don't have to love me back, Harry.   It's okay, I've resigned myself to it, but I just wanted you to know.   Just wanted to confess.   And now I have.   You can go now.  I want to be alone for a while."  

Harry didn't move, just looked at her, life coming back into his green eyes.   He spoke slowly, softly.   "Oh, Hermione, I'm so sorry."

He leaned over, took her hand in his.   "I'm in love with you too," he said softly.

She sucked in a sharp breath, finally daring to meet his eyes.   They were bright, filled with some apprehension and – she caught her breath – love.

He drew closer, as her eyes fluttered closed.

And there, in one of the wizarding courthouses in London, exactly 30 minutes before the scheduled wedding of Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger, Harry and Hermione shared their first kiss.

It was tentative, at first, his lips softly brushing hers, but then it changed, grew deeper.   Her lips opened to his tongue and her arms slid around his neck as his arms slid around her waist, pulling her close to him.   She fit as if she had been made for him.   Which of course, she had been.  

Hermione was the first to break away.   They were both breathing harder and he looked as stunned as she felt.  

Oh God.   She had never felt so confused in her life.   She was about to be married to Ron.   Harry loved her.   She didn't want to hurt Ron.  But how could she marry him now, knowing that Harry loved her too?  

She moved out of Harry's embrace, vaguely hearing Harry start to speak. 

"I didn't know, I didn't realize it until after you and Ron had already started dating.   So I never said anything, I thought there was no hope for me.   I never thought – never dreamed you would feel the same way, Hermione.   I don't deserve you…"

That got her attention and she turned to him, eyes flashing even through her tears.   "Don't say that, Harry!   We've been best friends for more than 7 years now and I know you!   Merlin knows you could have made me hate you, but instead you made me love you."   Her voice softened.   "I think I trust my heart's opinion in this more than yours.   And your modesty is one of the things I love best about you."  

She smiled at him, and dropped a kiss on his head, loving the fact that she could give in to all her tender impulses towards him now, after years of having to suppress them or make them seem purely friendly.  

A silence fell, that Hermione was the first to break.   "What should we do now, Harry?"

He sighed, closing his eyes.   "I don't know" he finally said, his internal conflict clearly visible on his face.  

30 minutes,to whisper your name
30 minutes,to shoulder the blame
30 minutes,of bliss, thirty lies
30 minutes,to finally decide

In the sky
That we shape
With our eyes

Under shade
Casting shade
Crying rain

Can we fly?
Do I stay?
We could lose
We could fail

Either way
Options change
Chances fail
Trains derail

30 minutes, a blink of an eye
30 minutes,to alter our lives
30 minutes,to make up my mind
30 minutes,to finally decide

She glanced at the clock.   25 minutes until her wedding – she shuddered a little – was supposed to begin.   Merciful Merlin, 25 minutes to make a decision that would change everything and quite possibly break 2 hearts or ruin the friendship of years.  

She looked at Harry again, at his eternally messy black hair, those round glasses, and somehow knew what she had to do.  

She loved Harry, would always love him.   There was really no decision to be made, only the fear now, of hurting Ron and disappointing the Weasleys.  

Harry looked conflicted.   She knew him well enough to know that his soul would revolt at the very idea of stealing Ron's bride away from him at the altar, as it was, knew his heart would never forgive him for breaking Ron's heart.   She didn't know if his love for her was stronger than his love and loyalty to Ron and the Weasleys.   They were the first ones to have accepted him, to have shown him any affection.   Could she compete with that?  

30 minutes,to whisper your name
30 minutes,to shoulder the blame
30 minutes,of bliss, thirty lies
30 minutes,to finally decide

To decide
To decide, to decide, to decide

To decide
To decide, to decide, to decide

To decide

But even as she studied him, he made his decision.   She could see it in the way his shoulders straightened.   He opened his eyes and looked at her, concern for Ron written clearly on his face but it was accompanied with decision, that same decisive courage that he had taken with him into every encounter against Voldemort and had finally allowed him to defeat Voldemort.  

"Don't marry Ron, Hermione.   I love you.   Marry me instead."  

The dam inside her broke at his words, so simple and direct in typical Harry fashion but made eloquent by the look in his eyes.   She burst into tears, throwing her arms around him, as he put his around her, holding her.  

"Oh, Harry!   I thought I would never hear you say that."  

They kissed almost frantically, the decision made that would end a friendship of more than 7 years and break the heart of their best friend, holding each other tightly as if gathering strength from the presence of the other, in preparation for the ordeal ahead.  

And yet, despite the concern, the conflicting emotions, and the certainty of causing much pain and disappointment to many people nearest and dearest to them, there was peace in their hearts.   Peace that a love that had been silent for so long was now in the open, peace that love would find a way.  

And though neither of them said it, the same thought was in both Harry and Hermione's mind.   Together, they could do anything.