NOTE: I'm starting a new story with one of my own characters, so keep an eye out for it.
"I need to get my skates back on. Unless you know a way to skate without them." He grinned. Hermione blushed. What was it about Justin that made her so carefree Justin was nothing like anyone said. He was funny. He was carefree. He was different from the boy she had first gotten to know at the beginning of the year. Shaking her head, she looked at Justin.
"Oops. I'll wait for you."
"I thought so." He laughed. Justin stopped and put his skates on and then quickly joined Hermione in the rink.
"So" They looked at each other, questioningly, not knowing where to start. Justin met Hermione's gaze. She was so beautiful.
"Maybe, we should see if I can still skate?"
Hermione chuckled. "That might be a good idea." Hermione climbed out of the rink. "Remember any of your routines? I know you haven't skated for 5 years, but.."
"Don't worry. I have just the one." Hermione smiled and seated herself against a tree as she watched Justin. Justin was amazing. Hermione gasped when he did a fast spin across the ice on one blade and then jumped into an axle. One would have never guessed that he hadn't skated for so long. He was a natural. Justin shut his eyes. He couldn't believe it! He'd forgotten how much he missed skating. Justin came to a stop and Hermione walked up to him, amazed.
"Jus?" Justin turned to meet Hermione's gaze.
"I can't believe it! You are amazing! I'm going to write to Cordelia right now! I have no doubt at all that we will go far. And thank you!" She kissed him on his cheek. Justin blushed and smiled to himself. He was skating with Hermione. He'd be able to hold her and spend even more time with her. He grinned and quickly followed Hermione back to the castle.
Justin ran after Hermione in the common room. Terry, Dean, Padma, and Hannah looked on in amusement. Justin had changed. You could see him smiling and not always in a book. Hermione had changed also.
"Mai! Let me see!"
"I wanna see!"
"It's a surprise. You'll have to wait!"
"But I don't want to wait!" he whined.
"Nope" Hermione giggled.
Terry and Dean looked over at Padma and Hannah. "Are you SURE they aren't dating?"
"I'm not sure, but if they aren't its inevitable that they will"
"Damn! And I liked Hermione. Oh well. Can't stop the inevitable."
They broke out of their thoughts when Justin tackled Hermione.
"Jusy!" Hermione laughed. "Get off me!"
"Not till you show me."
"Nope." Their eyes met each other and they slowly leaned towards each other till their lips met. It was brief, but Justin's heart was beating and Hermione blushed. Was she feeling something? Justin tickled her and the moment was broken.
"Justin!" Justin stopped tickling her and grabbed the letter.
"Justin!" She ran to chase after him, but Justin had already read the letter and had a huge smile on his face!
"How could you keep this from me?"
"I wanted to surprise you," Hermione whispered. She looked down shyly. She was still nervous about the kiss.
"It's wonderful! I can't believe it!"
"I told you Cordelia would be impressed with your talent."
"When do we leave?"
"Day after tomorrow. I'll meet you there or do you want to meet at one of our houses? We have a few days of practice before the …you know. They usually put us in hotels with our families. It's all paid for."
"Well, how about we come pick you guys up. Where do you live?"
Hermione gave him her address. "Ok; thanks. Um, Mai?"
"About the kiss."
"Don't worry about it." She blushed
"O. right." Justin looked away. I should have known it was just the moment. Why would she like me? I'm lucky she's even my friend.
Hermione looked at Justin, concerned.
"Justin, are you ok?" Justin was trying to hold back his tears.
"I I have to go" He ran into his room, closing the door behind him, where he buried his face into his pillow. He couldn't deny it. His crush had worsened. While it would seem too quick, the truth was that it was a matter of time before he would fall in love with Hermione. Hermione looked over at Justin's door, worried.
"Terry, Hannah, Padma, Dean, help?" She looked at the four of them helplessly. "Look; I know you guys don't really know Justin, but…" The four of them came and sat by her on the couch.
"Why would he run out, upset?"
"Did you say anything?"
"You saw the kiss, right? I said not to worry about it and then he ran out."
"Mione, I think that hurt him."
'But why. It was just a moment thing, right?"
Dean looked at her. How could she be so clueless? "Mione, I think that kiss meant more to him than you would imagine."
"Mione,Justin likes you and I don't mean the friendship kind No, it's obvious that the feelings run much deeper He may even love you."
"Mione, think about it. We won't deny we weren't really nice to him before. Everyone ignores him. People see him as a nobody, but you. You accepted him, welcomed him with open arms. You became his only friend and a good one. Is it any surprise that he would eventually fall for you? Hermione, believe me when I say it. He loves or is falling in love with you.
"I..I I need to think." She ran into her room, letting the door shut behind her. Dean, Hannah, Padma, and Terry sighed, exasperated at the sexual tension and lack of admittance of feelings between Justin and Hermione. It was at that point, a pact was formed.
"I say we get Harry and Ron involved. I saw them teasing Justin about his crush and I think they convinced Justin to ask Hermione in the ball. You saw them at the ball. They were mesmerized."
"Alright. I'll talk to them at the next Quidditch practice. Then we can set up a time to meet and put "Operation Justin-Hermione in action."
The next two days passed in a blur. Justin and Hermione seemed to be avoiding each other. They would go to classes, eat with their tables , and then retreat and lock themselves in their rooms. Harry, Ron, Dean, Terry, Padma, and Hannah looked on in concern.
"This is getting out of hand. Both of them would be leaving in a few hours and according to Harry and Ron were supposed to spend a week together. Their families were hooking up."
"Well, what can we do? We can't really do anything till the new term starts. They both leave soon."
"For now, sit them down and get them to talk to each other again. Apparently, they have some competition and we can't have them avoiding each other. Start of the term we'll figure out how to get them together."
"Don't they have Herbology?"
"You're right. Their last class is after lunch and it's Herbology." They quickly silenced when they saw Justin and Hermione enter Both nodded and went into their rooms.
None of them missed the looks of pain on either face.
Justin sighed and collapsed on his bed. He missed Hermione. They hadn't talked since the kiss two days ago. Practice occurred, but words were never spoken. Al he ever got was the occasional smile. A tear rolled down his face. He swiped it away and flopped over on his stomach, reliving his memories of Hermione of the past 3 months. If only. If only Hermione could feel the same. A knock startled him out of his thoughts.
"Go away!" he yelled.
"Justin, open up! You have class in 20 minutes!"
"I'm not going!"
Everyone in the common room gasped. Justin never missed class.
"Justin Finch-Fletchley! You open this door right now. You can't hide the whole day!"
"Watch me!" he retorted.
"Alright. You leave me no choice! Alhomora!" The door swung open and Padma entered the room to see Justin laying on his bed, tears pouring down his face, his hair disheveled, staring off into space. Books littered the floor and papers spread all over his desk. Padma picked up a parchment from his Herbology textbook, which simply had one paragraph. It was obvious that it was incomplete. She looked at half completed Transfiguration, Charms, DADA, COMC, Arithmancy, and Potions essays. This was not like Justin at all. While Padma never paid much attention to Justin before, she always greeted him and knew Justin to be a very studious person. Often she wondered why he was in Hufflepuff and not Ravenclaw. She wondered the same thing with Hermione at first, but then Hermione always landed on those life-threatening adventures with Harry Potter.
"Justin?" Padma asked quietly.
"What?!" he yelled. "Here to humiliate me like everyone else?"
Padma took a seat at the edge of the bed. "No Justin, though I must apologize for the way I have treated you. I should have taken the time to get to know you."
"You weren't as bad as everyone else. At least you said hi. So apology accepted, I guess." For the first time, Padma saw all the torture that Justin underwent. No wonder he's so distant.
"Um, Justin? Why are you so upset, well recently?"
"What do you think? Everyone seems to know."
"Hermione?" Padma asked knowingly.
"I've never felt this way about anyone before and honestly, I'm crazy about her,"
Well, have you told her?"
"Told her? Oh no, I couldn't." He looked at Padma fearfully. Little did he know, Terry was trying to have a similar conversation with Hermione as Padma was trying to comfort him. He stared at his door when he heard Terry and Hermione yelling.
"Go away! Leave me alone!"
"Come on Hermione! You're being unreasonable!"
"I said go away!"
"You have class in 20 minutes!"
"I don't care! I'm not going!"
Terry raised his eyebrows in shock while the common room gasped. Hermione Granger missing class?
"Hermione Annette Granger! You open this door right now! You can't keep hiding away! You are going to open this door and then we are going to talk about what the hell is up with you!"
"I'm not coming out! Just go away!"
"That's it! You leave me no choice. Alhomora!" The door swung open and Terry entered the room. Hermione looked up at glared at Terry. Hermione was sitting back on her bed. Books were sprawled across her lap, unopened. Her hair was a mess, and she had dried tears on her face. Her eyes were red and puffy, and she was starig off into space till she heard Terry enter.
Terry sighed. "Hermione." He took a seat at the edge of her bed.
"What?!" she spat.
Terry looked at her with a sad smile. "You can't keep this up."
"I don't know what you are talking about."
"Hermione." Terry took her hand. "You're hiding. Justin and you barely acknowledge each other. We barely see you. You go to class, come back, and retreat into your room. Harry and Ron tell me the only time they see you is in class and meals, but your presence is hardly there. Please Hermione. We're worried about you and hard as it is to believe, Justin. We've been able to see Justin since he met you. Please don't let him go back into his shell. He loves you Hermione. And I'm afraid if you deny him the close friendship you had, he will withdraw into himself again."
"Terry, I'm… let me be honest. I'm confused and I am scared." Terry stroked her cheek and wrapped his arms around her as she choked back her sobs.
"I just broke up with Kelly, Terry. I'm not supposed to be feeling something if I am at all."
"Hermione. Its natural."
"But I was dating Kelly for 4 months-since July."
"And all this time you were getting along? You had the perfect relationship."
"Well no, we started fighting around October and then broke up recently at the end of last month. It started out fine. I was happy with him. But then, he became a jealous boyfriend and of course, he met someone else. Of course, I should have expected it. Why would a college guy be interested in a 16-year-old even if it was just his first year?"
"Well, you've always been mature for your age. And you've been friends with Justin since September, Hermione. One can't deny that you have a lot in common. You fought with Kelly for a month. Justin was always there for you. Don't you think it's possible that you developed feelings?" Terry sighed. "How did you feel about Kelly?"
"I liked him. I really did, but yet, something was missing from our relationship from the beginning. I knew it wasn't going to last. I didn't love him, my feelings weren't growing, and there was only so much we could talk about. Everything revolved around the championship, it seemed. Of course when he dumped me, he also decided to add salt to the wound by withdrawing from the championship."
"And Justin came to the rescue."
"I can't believe he did that for me."
"He loves you Hermione. He may see it as just a crush, but I know for a fact that he loves you and would do anything for you. He'd probably give up his dreams if only to see you smile."
"But, Terry, I'm not anyone special. I'm a bookworm and I'm not even that pretty. Hannah's much prettier than me."
"Hermione! Wow! You are incredibly special. You're beautiful." Hermione blushed. "That's what I like about you so much. You're not like other girls and you have a natural beauty and kindness. I'm not surprised that Justin fell in love with you. You may be a bookworm, but you aren't really."
"What do you mean?"
"There's so much more to you. There's the fact you will risk your life for your friends, you're friendly, you reach out to someone when no one else does, you are intelligent. There are things no one else sees and I didn't till I got to know you. Just like I am seeing Justin. Justin sees in you what many choose to ignore."
"He loves me?"
Terry smiled at her, "Yes, Mione."
"Oh Terry. This is so confusing. What am I going to do? I don't really know how I feel and I am scared to get involved with anyone right now. I mean both Victor and Kelly ditched me."
"I'll tell you one thing. Justin isn't like other guys. He truly loves you Hermione. So, I wouldn't be scared. All I can say at this point is to follow your heart. Now come on. You two have class and I don't want any more avoidance, ok?"
"Fine." She sighed in defeat and followed Terry out. Padma came out with Justin.
"Now both of you sit!"
"What?!" Justin and Hermione looked at Dean.
"We are going to solve this right now. Now that both Padma and Terry have gotten a little sense knocked into you, maybe you will actually listen." Hermione and Justin looked at each other nervously and sent a glare Dean's way. Defeated, they sat on the couch, fiddling with their fingers.
"Look; you two have a strong friendship and because something happened, you can't throw it away."
Padma raised her hand. "Let me finish. You two are becoming almost invisible. You never talk to each other and truth be told, we hardly see either of you either."
"We miss you. You are affecting all of us and your grades are suffering. What happened to the hard workers? Justin, you' changed for the better. You were s happy and alive and you are now retreating back into your shell and Hermione you are shutting out people."
"Now we are going to leave you alone for 10 minutes to sort out your problems."
Terry and Padma dragged the two into Dean's bedroom, locking it from the outside.
"Hey!" Justin and Hermione shouted out. They couldn't open the door and Padma had taken their wands.
"We'll be back in 10 minutes."
"Oh. You have an hour till class. We lied." Hannah, Dean, Terry, and Padma all scrambled into Terry's bedroom, letting Hermione and Justin solve their problems on their own.