"We are really bad at this - "
"Bad? Hermione Granger admits that she is bad at something? Quick, someone get the history books, this has to be a first!" he joked and pulled her closer, enjoying her soft skin against his naked flesh.
"I said WE are bad at this you dork."
"Bad? The last two months have definitely been the best time of my life and you call it bad? I've been sore for the entire past month, there are at least four hickeys on my back which I cannot explain. What does a man have to do so that you'd say it was good then?"
"Prat! I mean the arrangement, not what comes out of it," the brunette said and couldn't keep her cheeks from blushing. While they were both naked under the sheets, putting their deeds into words always made them sound so wanton and perverted.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, you know where I got the idea for this?"
"You overheard Lavender and Parvati gossip about Lavender riding that Carmichael bloke last year, decided that you too could use that kind of stress relief and I had no objections - "
"Crass, but accurate. And I remember that I had to pinch you four times - " Hermione giggled, thinking back to the priceless face her friend made once he had understood what she wanted them to do. "And Lavender likes to talk about her experiences - "
"But the one time we tried Lavender's way was horrible."
"You mean the time when you had - performance problems?"
"I did not have performance problems until you decided to move as far away from me as possible while still keeping me inside and then glared at me as if I was an assignment for Snape. And they went away as soon as we stopped doing it Lavender's way. So why do you insist on her being right?"
"Because we care too much about each other for this kind of relationship to work as it should. There should be no strings attached, but even right now we are hugging, you are stroking my back and playing with my hair while I, until a minute ago, had my face buried in the crook of your neck."
"You want me to stop?" Harry asked quietly, unsure where his friend was going with this and yet dreading the outcome.
"Heavens no. That's the whole issue, we don't consider each other just ways to get off and we don't want to either. Friends with benefits don't exchange these loving touches."
"Well, that's too bad," Harry mumbled while his head rested on hers, using her hair as a pillow. They stayed like this for half an hour, cuddled together and caressing each other. Harry nuzzled Hermione's hair, nibbled on her ear and planted kisses over her pale shoulders. Any trace of her summer tan was long gone and nowadays even her forearms made parchment look dark. She just sighed happily and wiggled herself further into his embrace, drawing circles on the ticklish spot on his neck.
Eventually though, he turned around and, without a word, Hermione followed suit, draped a leg over his and pulled him close, her hair falling over both of them. It might have been an untamable mess, but there was nothing quite like feeling it drag over his skin, as seeing her surrounded by a halo of brown curls, her chest heaving and his head sandwiched between her thighs. It was one of his favourite places to be and the view there was simply stunning.
They were sticky, sweaty and covered in all sorts of fluids, but neither of them cared as Harry drew patterns across the soft skin on her hip. They had already developed a series of favourite positions to cuddle in and, as much as he would deny it, the little spoon was by far his favourite. In those moments, there was no war, no Voldemort looming, but just the safety of Hermione's embrace. The whole world was reduced to the fingers running through his hair, her breath on his shoulder, the glorious feeling of her nipples pressing into his back as they clung to each other, desperate for as much contact as at all possible.
"We shouldn't do this!"
It was a weak protest at the very best, little more than a token effort since the brunette witch didn't even attempt to get some distance between them or stopped rubbing his collarbone.
"You're right, we should not. But I don't give a fuck."
"Haaaryyy - "
"Hermione, we literally just fucked."
"We did not fuck. We - well - "
"Yes - No - argh, why does this have to be so confusing?"
"Do you really want to argue about the English language while we are spooning?" Harry asked mirthfully, his head turned back over his shoulders to glance at his best friend.
"This isn't just a linguistic discussion. Fucking is animalistic, wild and domineering. It's something you do when you lose control, when you let go and a primal instinct takes over. On the other hand, what we did was - sweet and tender - caring and - "
"So we made love," Harry replied sleepily and his friend had no response as they dozed off, still hugging each other.
" - "
"Are you awake?"
"A'little," she replied without lifting her head from his. All things considered, it was not a good position to sleep in, guaranteeing a stiff neck and sore shoulders. And yet Hermione found herself enjoying every minute, ignoring the eventual discomfort because spooning with Harry was well worth it. Their time together had never been awkward and for some reason, they seemed to simply click together. Despite her usual eloquence, she really didn't have a better way to describe it because she knew nothing similar. Her only experience came from books, where the girl was swept off her feet in some whirlwind romance. Sure, there had been the three months with Krum, but that didn't go beyond touches through clothes and Viktor had done his best to woo her.
But that part was completely absent from her relationship with Harry. She had been the one who had suggested their arrangement and other than that, there were no grand gestures. He might hold a door or carry her bag, but that was - should not be - nearly enough to woo her. And despite this, Hermione began to develop deeper feelings for her best friend. She trusted Harry implicitly and had not felt the need for any dates before crossing lines with him. They had spent more than five years together and, excluding herself, he knew her better than anyone else.
On top of that, there were the small things she had quickly noticed after their first few trysts. Harry had an utterly carefree smile which made her lightheaded every time he woke up in her arms. He could be a walking contradiction on some days, a mix of anger, self-loathing and a need for closeness. And yet, she was the only one who could draw that smile out of him. Not Ginny, not Susan Bones or Morag McDougal, not even Fleur Delacour when she came by on some Order business, just her. For some reason the Muggelborn witch couldn't quite put her finger on, it made her feel both, happy and powerful. A few gentle touches could wash away stress better than anything else and he had the same effect on her. She even anticipated their meetings at dusk, a welcome getaway from the monotony and difficulties at Hogwarts in the shadow of Voldemort.
"I have been thinking - " the boy of her thoughts said and brought her back to the present.
"10 Points to Gryffindor."
"Can you hold the jokes for a minute?"
"Alright - 5 Points to Gryffindor," the brunette mumbled and Harry found himself laughing along. They were both fully awake again but made no move to get out of the bed.
"Seriously though, this arrangement is the best idea you have ever had."
"Even better than the DA?"
"Well, Dumbledore's Army was certainly more useful - But I don't feel like being useful right now."
"You are incorrigible, you know that, right?"
"But you wouldn't have me any other way?"
"Not at all," Hermione replied with a fond smile and Harry's stomach felt funny once more. He had not yet figured out that oddity, only the that it was not linked to her state of undress. However, it was also not unpleasant and so the Gryffindor didn't mull over it for long.
"Can we stay like this, forever?"
"We have to catch the train on the twenty-first," the brunette pointed out, content to stay in his arms until then.
"Sounds good to me. Too bad that we can't keep this up over the break. It would be glorious to wake up on Christmas morning like this."
"We could spend Christmas with my parents."
"How would your parents feel about hosting the boy-who-shags-their-daughter?"
"My Mum would probably be excited that I finally showed some interest in dating at all. Dad might grumble a little, at least until Mum reminds him that she had been younger when they first had sex."
"Wait, you're serious?" Harry asked after a pause and Hermione had to roll her eyes.
"Of course I am serious," she replied with the glare usually reserved for particularly stupid questions before pulling him closer. "It would be nice to have a quiet Christmas for once. Especially now that Fleur and Mrs Weasley are at each other's throats all the time - "
"But Ron - "
"Ron is looking forward to spending Christmas in - with Lavender. At least that's what she said last week."
"Does Mrs Weasley know about this?"
"Of course not, you know how she is when it comes to sex. Pregnant at 15, but preaches to Ginny and me that we should save ourselves for marriage. She even had a go at Fleur for corrupting her son. If only she knew - "
"He would never hear the end of it."
"Neither would the twins," Hermione quipped and Harry laughed along.
"We wouldn't hear the end of it either."
"And we would never get to share a room. Unlike at my home."
"We would? Share a bed? Really?"
"Of course we would. Mum told me that I shouldn't be afraid to bring someone home. And it would be kinda pointless to give us separate rooms after we had been intimate with each other for months. The one thing we should do is put up silencing charms because while my parents are welcoming and supportive, they would not enjoy listening to us - "
"I don't think anyone would."
"Demelza would. And Lavender. And Colin would probably cut off his right hand if he could take a couple of pictures - "
"I get Colin and Lavender, but Mel?" Harry cut in before the list got even longer.
"She has a crush on you. Honestly, how could you miss that, the girl basically throws herself at you?"
"I thought she had a crush on you if anything. She'd always ask questions about my best friend, what you were like and so on," Harry pointed out and thought back to his recent encounters with her. Now that Hermione had mentioned it, Mel was always slow to put on a shirt, always lingering in her sports bra for a quick chat. "Can we get back to the Christmas thing? I - I have questions."
"It's just - I can't imagine that your parents would be okay with this."
"And why not? They are both medical professionals, they know the statistics. On average people start being sexual active around our age, some even younger."
"Just because they know what the average gets up to does not mean they would be okay with their own daughter having sex with her lover at their house."
"When Mum gave me the talk, she expected that I would get involved a lot earlier - "
"Honestly, it was a little mortifying, but I can see where she is coming from. We are basically alone for most of the year and a dozen adults are not nearly enough to supervise a castle as big as Hogwarts."
"How much earlier are we talking about here?"
"Uhm, that was before our third year."
"But - You were thirteen then - "
"Almost fourteen. And at that age - let's just say you would not have been Parvati's first had you gotten lucky at the Yule Ball," Hermione trailed off before realising that this tidbit was supposed to be a secret. Then again, perhaps her roommates should not gossip about such matters loud enough for her to hear through her drapes. "Anyway, when my mother gave me the talk she told me that I should not be afraid to bring someone home because "my room is safer than the backyard of a Sainsbury" and she would "iron-out" things with my father should he be difficult about it."
"Rushing things in a place where you might be caught at any minute makes accidents more likely. You know, the kind of accident where you feel sick for nine months and then - "
"I get the picture. Wasn't it awfully embarrassing to talk with your mother about sex, though?"
"God, I wanted to die just to get out of that. I - I had already read most of what she was saying, but I didn't want to say "I know that" all the time - "
"That sounds awful."
"It was, especially what she said about her and my dad. NOT their physical acts - " Hermione quickly added when she saw how comically large Harry's eyes had grown, her own cheeks once again flaming red, " - just the emotional part. Trusting your partner, not getting pressured into anything, stuff like that."
"You know, I'm really glad that my experience wasn't anything like that."
"It was - insightful. Utterly embarrassing, but also it helped me to make some sense of my emotions. You got your talk from Sirius, right?"
"He and Tonks just sat there, halfway through a bottle of Ogden's, trying to one-up each other with their exploits and we chatted a little. Their lessons can be summarized with 'make sure you don't catch something or knock a girl up', 'it's easier to get rid of excess lube than of friction burns' and 'take care of her well and you will get a repeat'."
"Wisdom to live by!"
"You have got to admit, it worked out pretty well for me," Harry pointed out and felt Hermione laugh in his arms. "I got the prettiest witch after all."
"Oh come on, I am not the - "
"Not this again Hermione. Am I bad at Quidditch just because Viktor Krum exists?"
"No, but - "
"No buts, well besides yours," Harry joked and playfully kneaded and squeezed her cheeks and even slipped his finger in between them. "Now, you might never be a Playwitch model, but don't even think for one second that you are ugly."
"Just because you - " she attempted to reply but was silenced by a peck on her cheek and soft touches all across her back.
"Your hair is awesome. I want to run my hand through it all the time. And do you have any ideas how many hours I just sat there during classes and wanted to play with it? Wrap a curl around my finger or just pull it aside and find that spot on your neck. Nuzzle it. Feel it on my skin when we are naked -
"Alright, I get it," Hermione snapped half-heartedly while her lover played with a strand to emphasise his point.
"Your eyes," Harry continued and stroked her flushed cheek with his thumbs. "They are a warm brown, like Honeydukes finest chocolate. An absolutely stunning shade. I could stare into them for hours since they make me forget the world around us - "
The Gryffindor trailed off when he realised how sappy he was sounding. "Your thighs are absolutely awesome, no matter if they are wrapped around my head or spread apart."
Harry slid his hands down to her legs and then back up through the brown curls between them, a flurry of images flashing through his mind, one particular memory clearly standing out. Hermione on her back in nothing but simple black stockings, her legs spread open as if she was presenting herself to him. That had been the moment when he could no longer think of her as just a friend, when he no longer cared about Lavender's rules for friends with benefits. The scent, the taste, the feel, it had been so unlike anything he had expected of Hermione just a few days earlier.
"Or just lay down on them and let you do your magic."
"That's not magic."
"Hermione you can - you can make me cry in ten minutes just by pulling my head in your lap and playing with my hair. And it actually makes me feel better for some reason. That has to be some kind of magic."
"Please not this argument again," Hermione groaned and failed to keep the blush out of her face. While they had a few heart-to-hearts in that position where she had managed to get him to open up, Harry also liked to spin around and randomly go down on her with no warning whatsoever. Not that she minded, but the zeal Harry had for giving oral sex surprised her every time. Like a starving man lead into a gourmet -
"Your tits are glorious and saying anything else is heresy," Harry interrupted her thoughts as he continued upwards, cupped her breasts and softly massaged them with the experience and practice of the last months. Half a year ago, such a statement would have been mortifying, scandalous and have her running for the hills. But after the last two months, Hermione simply leaned into the touch, enjoyed his ministrations and tilted her head back, exposing her neck. He took the cue attacked her throat with his lips, adamant to leave a love bite there while he continued to play with her tits.
"Lavender's are bigger, as are Parvati's," Hermione pointed out, distracted by the tender touch and could not help herself but to giggle at his fixation on her breasts. She knew that they were far from perfect, but he treated them like a sacred relict nonetheless. It made her feel oddly powerful, her lover had faced death a dozen times but she could reduce him to a drooling mess simply by pulling off her shirt.
"Again, think of Krum - no wait, don't think about him! Yours are comfortable, the perfect pillow to rest my head on. And unlike Lavender's, yours won't sag."
"Hers are not sagging at all."
"Damn, Ron sure knows how to pick them," Harry mumbled before remembering his point. "- What I was trying to say is that I wouldn't change a single thing about you. And do you have any idea how difficult it is to just sit next to you during the classes when I know what's under your robes? Do you know how often I want to take you then and there, bend you over the table and fuck you then and there?"
"Who says you would be in charge? I could push you down on your desk, mount you and then ride you like there's no tomorrow, right in front of the whole class. McGonagall would give us detention, but I would not stop until you were completely worn out," the brunette retorted and Harry had to swallow the lump in his throat.
"Is this in line with what Lavender says about friends with benefits?"
"No, but in this case, we can make an exception - "
"And I guess they would not French kiss after going down on another - "
"I don't think that there's much making out involved at all," Hermione pointed out dryly before blushing in a deep shade of red. "And I don't think that friends with benefits would put their tongue - there."
"We were in the shower, the first time at least, and Parseltongue is Parseltongue."
Harry found it both amusing and endearing that she was able to talk about the theory of any act in her usual lecture tone but became tongue-tied as soon as it came to their actual experiences.
"See, that's the issue! You aren't supposed to do anything I can think of and then some more. From what my roommates said, men are usually very set in their way - "
"So you want me to be inconsiderate?"
"Well - No, but - "
"Hermione, in case you didn't notice, I'm not doing any of this because I'm selfless. When you want to try out something, I get to do that. And other than the spanking, pretty much all of your ideas have been awesome. When you want to blindfold me and tie me to the bed, I am the one completely at the mercy of the most gorgeous witch I know."
"But - "
"When I came into this room and found you naked on all fours, I nearly came inside my pants before you even told me that I can do whatever I want. And then - well - I got to do whatever I wanted."
"I get the picture, Harry!" the brunette snapped, her annoyed pout ruined by her nakedness.
"I don't think you do. This might sound a little cheesy, but - "
"Unlike what you have been saying for the last few minutes? We are screwed, aren't we?" Hermione wanted to know, distracted by the shapes Harry was drawing on her lower back.
"Kinda. But is that really bad?"
"I can't stop thinking about you - "
"And that's a bad thing? Hermione, I'm in the same boat and I can't say that I mind having you in my head," Harry chuckled and brushed a strand of brunette curls away from her flushed cheek. "And I don't want less attachment, and screw Lavender for her way. If the proper way to do this forbids feelings, then I don't want to do it right."
"It is not bad at all. It's just, we are best friends and attachment might ruin that. I don't want to lose you."
The brunette whispered the last part and squeezed her lover, uncertainty clearly written on her face. They had never really discussed the state or boundaries of their arrangement and that might come back to haunt them now. But why should it? They were not supposed to grow attached to each other, but Harry and she deeply cared for each other even before this. They visited each other for hours in the hospital wing, they spent most of the year together and Hermione had long realised that she had come to think of her friend as more than that. So why couldn't she admit that?
Because you don't even know what you want yourself! Because you are a coward! Because you are afraid what will happen if things won't work out. Because you are afraid that he -
"Look, no attachment never worked for us," Harry cut off her internal monologue before she could one-up him at brooding. "From day one we failed that miserably and neither of us feels like doing something about it. We went from holding each other for a minute afterwards to cuddling and actually sleeping together. And I don't want less, I want even more."
"More?" Hermione asked with a trembling voice, surprised by the intense emotions in his eyes.
"I don't want to hide this anymore. I want to make out with you in the common room, grab your arse while we walk up the stairs, fall asleep in your lap. I simply want to be with you."
They looked each other in the eyes and Harry was thrilled when he saw longing in hers, instead of just the hesitancy she voiced a second later.
"What about the others. I know you kept staring at Ginny and - "
"You have to admit that she is easy on the eyes, but I haven't seriously thought about other girls since you told me that you are on the potion and I can come inside you," Harry replied and got a faraway look as that scene played out in his head once more. Of course, he also remembered what had happened next.
"Was that before I told you - told you to - "
"Paint your cunt white? I remember that very well. In fact, I had not laughed that hard since Boggart Snape."
"Not even at Tonks' cock-nose?"
"That's not even a contest. The nose was fascinating, but also kinda disgusting when its nostril flared. Snape with the vulture hat was pure gold."
"Alright, yes, I am bad at dirty talk! Are you happy now?"
"You know what would make me happy? Taking you out for dinner."
"Are you sure that this is a good idea?" she blurted out even though the idea of a dinner date with her best friend made her giddy. Why couldn't she simply say yes and ignore the voice in her head which constantly came up with worst-case scenarios and their horrible consequences?
"Hermione, we have been having sex for the past two months, we care for each other, we try to make the other happy, we - "
"If you put it like this, we have been in a relationship for weeks - "
"Then my girlfriend surely wouldn't mind joining me in a nice restaurant next weekend," Harry said with a cocky smile and if not for the shock of the idea, Hermione would have laughed and playfully punched him.
"Girl - Girlfriend?"
"Well, you just said that we've been in a relationship for weeks. And we decided to spend Christmas together, with your family. That makes you my girlfriend, right?"
"Alright, can we be serious for a minute? Do you really want to go out with or are you just adding to the joke?"
"I'm serious. If someone would have asked me at the beginning of the term, I'd have told them that I love you like the sister I never had. But after everything we did, I can hardly still call you a sister."
"Well, in certain pureblood circles - " Hermione tried to deflect, but Harry was having none of it.
"I care for you, and I would very much like to find out where things will take us if we let them. Or is the thought of having me as a boyfriend really that bad?"
"No, it is exhilarating. Thrilling - Elating even," she said quietly and softly pecked Harry on his lips. The kiss quickly deepened when the brunette took hold of his neck and pulled him upwards. Soon, Hermione was panting as she stared into the captivating pair of green eyes, their noses touching and her hair falling over both of them. "It is also completely terrifying. What if things don't work out between us? What if we end up hating each other? What if - "
"As much as I would like to, I can't promise that we'd work out as a couple. But so far we're doing great and I don't think you could do anything which I would hate you for."
"I could cheat on you with Malfoy, take pictures and - "
"Hermione, I said nothing that YOU could do."
"Please Harry, I'm not perfect - "
"No, you are not. I could fill a whole book with your faults, but that doesn't matter. You are not perfect, neither am I, and honestly, I can't think of anyone with whom I'd rather be," he cut in and held her gaze, desperate to sound confident and not on the verge of a breakdown. He could deal with Voldemort, with the Death Eaters or Umbridge, but this was a gamble he did not want to lose. What if he read his friend wrong? If she was not -
"So are we an item now?" she asked slowly, her brown eyes boring into Harry's as she watched his reaction.
"Yup," Harry chuckled and hid his nervous exhale with another kiss. "Hermione Granger, my girlfriend. Has a nice ring to it, don't you think?"
"Just like that?"
"Well, I'm sure that I can get some fireworks from the twins. Or maybe an announcement in the Daily Prophet - "
"Being my boyfriend does not give you the licence to be a prat - " she complained and swatted his arm. "Boyfriend - Boooyfriend - Boy-Friend. You know what? I agree, that does sound nice."
"This evening has been even weirder than two weeks ago with Lavender," Hermione pointed out, unwilling to concede defeat to him even if there was a smile tugging on her lips.
"What has she done this time?"
"Nothing, well nothing bad. I was looking through the Gladrags owl-order catalogue when Lavender came in. She just saw some pictures and probably thought that I had nicked some of Seamus' adult magazines - "
"How could you mistake a clothing catalogue with Playwitch?"
Hermione's mumbled something, but between talking into his shoulder and whispering, it was impossible to understand. On the other hand, her blush was quite spectacular, spreading across her collarbone and then even further downwards. "What was that?"
"I said it was the lingerie section," she repeated red-faced, trying to look anywhere but his eyes.
"So what was so weird about that?" Harry asked once he had gotten his brain back in working order. Even the regular underwear Hermione wore every day was enthralling enough to distract him from their classwork. But the thought of her in some kind of corset or silken, see-through unmentionables left him drooling like Davis after Fleur had zapped him with her allure.
"Well, since I had known very little about the subject, I asked if she could help me out. Lavender's eyes lit up like it was Christmas and next thing I know, she is modelling her own secret stash."
"You - You had Lavender put on a show for you? In lingerie?"
"She made sure to point out the advantages of certain pieces and then helped me to pick some for myself."
"You bought yourself lingerie?"
"If a bit of lace can turn her from an annoying roommate to a reason to question my own sexuality, then of course I'm getting a few."
"Hermione, you know that at least half of Hogwarts would kill to see what you have seen, right?"
"That was not even the best part - "
"You two started making out?"
"No - while that thought had crossed my mind a couple of times, the truth is truly evil," the brunette said with an expression of pure admiration while Harry rubbed the arm she had hit once more. "You see, Lavender wasn't just doing this for my benefit. In the end, she just wanted my opinion on the most flattering piece, put that on, threw a robe on top and walked around like that the whole evening. She made sure that Ron saw how little she was wearing but did not give him the time of the day for the remaining week because he had been a prat during their Hogsmeade date earlier."
"So Ron knew that his girlfriend was running around in - "
"A few black straps which, if all stars and planets align and you sacrifice a goat at midnight, might pass as underwear. Barely. And she teased him for the whole evening before disappearing upstairs."
"So that's why Ron looked like someone had cancelled Christmas. Please tell me that you won't resort to such underhand tactics," Harry begged as his respect for Lavender went up a few notches.
"As long as you don't give me a good reason to do so."
"I swear, I shall treat milady as if she was the Queen herself," Hermione's newly-minted boyfriend joked, but the effect of his mock bow was ruined by their location and the fact that Harry ended up headbutting her shoulder. Far from being deterred by such little failures, he instead leaned a little further forwards and began to plaster her breast with featherlight kisses. "So, what kind of lingerie did you buy yourself?"
"That's a surprise."
"Come on, you can't leave me hanging like this!"
"You aren't exactly hanging right now," Hermione giggled as she gave the offending body part a squeeze. "I will give you a hint though: 3 pieces, Midnight blue, scarlet and black."
"You're killing me here, you know that? First Lavender and now this."
"Behave yourself, or you won't be getting any Christmas presents this year," she whispered and from the husky tone, Harry had a good idea what, or rather whom, he would be unwrapping in a few weeks.