A/N: As usual, I still don't own any of these characters.   They belong to J.K. Rowling.  

This is dedicated to Kori, even if she is a kicker-shipper.   :-P   Love you anyway, Kori!  

Enjoy and please R/R!

~Worth Any Danger~

"I'm sorry, Hermione, but I don't love you."

The words were spoken, finally.   And in the silence, he could almost hear two hearts breaking.  

And when he saw the look in her brown eyes, he wished desperately that he could take back the words he'd just said, the lie he'd just told to his best friend in the world, the girl he loved, had always loved, would always love.   But he couldn't.   He couldn't.

And so Harry Potter turned and walked away from what he knew would be the only love of his life.  

Sirius Black woke up to someone pounding on his front door.   No, not pounding, it wasn't quite forceful enough for that, but someone was knocking very insistently.

Sighing, he threw on a robe and went to answer the door, wondering who on earth it could be at that hour.  

It was Harry.   His godson was soaking wet from the rain, although he didn't appear to pay any attention to the rain that was dripping off of him, and he looked as miserable as Sirius had ever seen him.  

"Harry, what is it?   What happened?"  

Harry just shook his head, as he took off his rain cloak.  

Sirius followed his godson into the living room, frowning in concern at his godson's back.   Harry looked defeated, his green eyes blank for once.  

There was a beat of silence in which Sirius just studied his godson wondering what could have happened to have Harry looking like he'd just seen the dearest thing in life to him get killed.  

Finally, when Sirius was beginning to think that he was going to have to force Harry to speak, Harry said flatly, "Hermione said she loves me."

Sirius blinked, nonplussed, before his face lit up.   "But that's wonderful!   I always hoped it would happen.   You two are meant for each other."  

Sirius's smile faltered at the look on Harry's face.   "What did you say, Harry?" he asked, getting a feeling of dread in his stomach, although he already knew the answer.

"I told her I didn't love her," Harry said, his voice dull.   "I broke her heart, Sirius, and told her I didn't love her.   And then I walked away."  

Sirius just stared for a moment, willing himself to have just imagined what his godson had said.   "But Harry, you do love her.  I know you do.   I've seen the way you look at her!"

Something in Harry seemed to snap and he turned to his godfather, speaking quickly, almost fiercely.   "Of course I love her!   She's always been there for me, she's the only person who's always been there for me!!"

Sirius flinched at this reminder of his many years of neglect of his own duty as Harry's godfather, although he knew that Harry was not talking about that and certainly didn't blame him for it.   Being locked up in Azkaban tended to get one released from normal obligations to family and friends, he thought bitterly, before turning his attention back to his godson who was now pacing back and forth as if unable to sit still any longer.  

"I love her, but I can't!   If I started a relationship with her, if I stay with her, I might as well just paint a giant target on her forehead!   I can't do it!   I can't put her in danger, Sirius.   It would kill me if anything happened to her, and if anyone found out how much I love her, that the easiest way to destroy me would be to do something to her…"   He paused, shuddering at the bare idea.   "I can't put her in danger," he repeated.   "I can't!"  

He turned to face his godfather, shoving his wet hair aside, baring his forehead and pointing at the lightning-bolt scar on it.   "Look at this!   This!   It's my particular target!   It's why every dastardly wizard in the world is out to get me!   Why I can't ever let myself love her the way I want to."

Harry stopped his pacing to throw himself into an armchair, the anger and frustration seeming to have dissipated.   "I can't let myself love her," he finally said, his voice low and bleak.  

Sirius sighed, watching his godson.   He should have known Harry would feel this way, would act this way.   Should have expected it.   After all, Harry was so much like James…  

"Oh Harry, you're so much like your father," he said finally, resignation in his voice. 

Harry looked at his godfather in confusion at this seeming non-sequitur.   "What?"

Sirius leaned forward, holding Harry's gaze with his own, although he wasn't really seeing Harry at all.   He was seeing James as he had been more than twenty years ago, James in a similar situation.  

"Sirius, I just broke up with Lily."

Sirius stared at his best friend, before shaking his head as if to clear it.  "Sorry, Prongs, I think I misheard you there.  I thought I just heard you say you had broken up with Lily."

James just looked steadily back at his best friend of so many years, the look on his face saying it all.

"Bloody hell!" Sirius finally exploded.   "What the devil did you do that for?!"

James flinched a little at his friend's vehemence.   "I had no choice, idiot!   Do you think I'd have done it willingly?!"

James glared at his friend before flopping back on his bed.   They were alone in the Gryffindor boys' room, Remus and Peter having left to study Astronomy.   James had begged off, pleading fatigue, and Sirius had stayed behind as well, because, well, Sirius never studied if he could help it and he happened to be blessed with enough brains to do passably well without studying all that intensely.   Besides, Sirius had known that something was bothering his best friend and had taken the opportunity to find out what. 

"Why, James?   Why did you need to do that?" Sirius finally asked, his voice quiet.   "You love Lily and she loves you.   Why break up then?"

James closed his eyes for a moment, a look of pain flashing across his features, before he opened them again to look Sirius directly in the face.   "It was because I love her that I broke up with her."

Sirius blinked.   "Come again?"

James sighed, sitting up.   "Come on, Padfoot, think about it.   My parents were killed by Dark wizards because of their being descended from Godric Gryffindor and their open hatred of the Dark Arts.   I'm just as much of a target as they were, especially now that I'm the last living descendant.   I can't put Lily through that.   I can't ask her to.   She's already in some danger just because she's Muggle-born; you know how she's treated by gits like Malfoy and Avery and Nott!   I can't put her in more danger than she's already in, Sirius.   So I ended it.   I'd rather hurt both of us now than have any harm come to her because of her association with me."

Sirius was shaking his head slowly at James's reasoning.   "James, listen to me.   You're not thinking straight.   You're…"

James glared at his best friend, cutting him off.   "No!   Do you think I haven't thought about this?   Do you think I haven't lain awake nights thinking about it?!   Do you think this was easy for me to do?!    Merlin's ghost, Sirius, I'm in love with Lily!   How do you bloody think it made me feel to know I was hurting her?   To know I had no choice but to hurt her like that?!"   James turned away, his chest heaving from the strength of his emotions.  

Sirius sighed, shaking his head.   When he spoke, his voice was completely and utterly serious and sincere, all trace of his usual mirth gone.   "James, you love Lily and she loves you.   You guys were meant for each other.   Everyone who's seen you two together knows that.   I've never really been in love, never found the girl who could complete me that way.   I envy what you and Lily have, you know, that complete trust and love.   James, if you throw what you have with Lily away because you're afraid of what might happen, then I am going to think you are the world's biggest prat and a coward at that.   Sure, there's danger, but believe me when I say that what you and Lily have is worth the danger a hundred times over.   And if I had something similar, I'd never let go like that; I'd hold on to her with all that I had in me."   Sirius finished his little speech almost in a whisper.  

James didn't move or make a sound, but Sirius knew he had heard and was thinking about it.  

He stood up.   Knowing James he would need some time alone.   "I'm going to go see how Moony and Wormtail are doing on Astronomy."  

James didn't respond as Sirius left the room.  

Sirius blinked, seeming to see Harry again.   "You know your father once said and did the almost exact same thing as you're doing now, Harry?" he finally said.  

Harry blinked, some life coming back into his green eyes.   "What did he do?"

Sirius sighed at the memory.   "He broke up with your mother."

Harry gasped audibly, looking as if Sirius had just told him that his parents had never really been married after all.   "What?   Why?"

Sirius took a breath before explaining, "Your parents had been going out for about a year when it happened, at the beginning of 7th year.   James told me that he'd broken up with Lily because he didn't want to put her in any more danger.   He didn't want her associated with the last descendant of Godric Gryffindor because he knew that he was a target for that reason and he decided, just like you, Harry, that he couldn't put the girl he loved into danger like that."  

Sirius looked Harry directly in the eyes as he continued.   "I told your father just what I'm going to tell you now, Harry.   Throwing away a chance for a love like that of your parents or what you and Hermione have, is, to put it simply, stupid.   Harry, true love like what you feel for Hermione and what James and Lily felt for each other, the kind of love that is willing to put the welfare of their loved one above their own happiness, is a gift from the Fates.   And to throw that away because of an admittedly vague fear is the act of a coward."

Harry opened his mouth to speak, but Sirius cut him off, not allowing him to.   "Harry, I know you aren't a coward any more than your father was.   Listen to me, Harry.   I told your father this and he finally agreed with me.   He went to your mother that night and told her everything.   And she told him that she would rather have a few years with him than live a much safer life with anyone else, because she loved him.   I'm sure that your Hermione would say the same thing, if you tell her.   Harry, being a martyr is all well and good but it is also unnecessary.   Harry, Hermione knows probably better than anyone how much danger you're in.   Like you said, she's been there with you through it all.   And she's certainly clever enough to have thought about all this before.   If she told you she loved you then I'd be willing to bet my wand that she had already decided that she'd rather be happy with you than be safe without you.   Think about it."

Sirius stood up.   "I'm going back to bed.   You're welcome to stay the night if you want, Harry."  

Harry looked up.   "No, no, I… I have something I need to do."

Sirius smiled at his godson, before clapping a hand on his shoulder and squeezing it.   "Then go to it, son," he said, tears shining in his black eyes.  

Harry smiled back.   "Thanks, Sirius.   Thanks a lot."  

And with that, Harry grabbed his somewhat dryer cloak and left, shutting the door behind him.  

Sirius stood for a moment, staring at the door.   Oh, James, if you only knew just how like you Harry is.  

Harry arrived back at the door of Hermione's flat, breathing hard, suddenly feeling as if a dozen Golden Snitches were fluttering around in his stomach.  

He raised his hand to knock then changed his mind and pulled out his wand.   "Alohomora."   With a soft click, the door opened and he stepped inside to the dark flat.

Quietly, he hung up his cloak and, taking off his shoes, padded to Hermione's bedroom door. 

It was quiet inside, as if she'd gone to sleep.  

Careful not to make a sound, he stepped inside the room, his eyes immediately finding Hermione, curled under the covers.   He could tell that she must have cried herself to sleep.   There were still traces of tears on her face and his heart clenched at the sight.  

He had done that.   He was the reason for her tears.   

Softly, he bent over Hermione and kissed her.   "Hermione," he breathed.

Her eyes fluttered open, still clouded with sleep.   She blinked before catching her breath.   "Harry?   What… what are you doing here?"

"I came back.   I- I have to tell you something, Hermione."

She nodded, looking wary, her brown eyes filled with hurt.  

"Hermione, what I said earlier, that is, well, uh, I lied," he finally admitted.  

Hermione's mouth opened, closed, then opened again, but he continued on before she could speak.   "I love you, Hermione.   I'm in love with you.   The reason I lied before was because I didn't want you to be in danger because of me.   I couldn't bear it if anything happened to you, Hermione.   It would kill me if you were hurt because of me.   So I lied, and I hurt you.   Hermione, I'm so sorry.   I- mmph."

His words were cut off as Hermione kissed him. 

He kissed her back, his eyes closing.   Dear Merlin, how long had he wanted to do this?  

She felt so good in his arms, so good, he thought rather fuzzily.  

She was the first one to break the kiss, breathing hard, her face flushed.   He had never seen anything more beautiful than she was at that moment, he realized.   "Harry, you idiot!" 

He blinked, confused.  

"Harry, don't you know?   I love you.   I want to be with you.   I don't care about the danger.   We'll face it together, the way we always have, remember?"   She paused, her hands holding his face so he couldn't look away, even if he had wanted to.   "Harry, don't you know, we're stronger when we're together?   We always have been.   Don't try to make me some sort of helpless swooning damsel, Harry.   I can take care of myself and Harry," she paused, her voice softening, "being with you is more than worth any danger I might be in.   I love you, Harry.   I always have, I always will.   Forever."   Her voice softened to a whisper at the last words.

Harry blinked back tears, wondering just what he had done to deserve to have this amazing woman declaring her love to him.   "You're the most amazing person I've ever met, Hermione.   I love you."  

She drew his head down to kiss him again as he pressed her down onto her bed.

And both knew that whatever happened, they would face it together, the way they had been meant to be.