Chapter One (It's only the Beginning)
The cool breeze wrapped around his face lightly tossing his uncontrollable hair. Despite the circumstances the sun was shining and the lake was calm.
Harry Potter, the boy who lived, stood staring out into the dark waters. It had been two years since he last stood in this very spot and many things had change. Although everything he saw was exactly the same: the lake, the trees, even the squid, which at this moment was gilding towards him, was the same. It was perfect. But this was just one little corner of the world, and as he stood there, remembering back to his school years, he knew things could never go back to how they were.
Back then things were not great, but compared to now they were brilliant. You wouldn't know to look at him, for at this moment, staring into the water, he looked at peace and in some ways he was. For this boy, the young boy who had face the greatest dark lord of all time, the boy that was the last hope for the wizarding world, had grown into a young man. With a height of 5'11 and a slim but will built frame, he had changed from the scrawny little boy who knew nothing about magic into a handsome young, yet very powerful, wizard. His ebony hair although a little shorter was still just as out of control and stuck up in every direction. His dazzling emerald eyes could still send shivers down your spine if they were to stare at you.
Harry Potter had changed in many ways, and in some he remained the same. You wouldn't know it to look at him but the things he had seen, encountered, and lived through would have made even an old man cower. For this young man has seen more death in his short life time they anyone could ever imaged, having escaped it many times him self.
Though even after all this he still remained the kind shy little boy he was back in his Hogwarts days, always thinking about others, putting there life's before his own. He truly was a hero.
Harry slowly sat down with his back against the tree. He could feel the rough bark through his T-shirt and the dew covered grass against his hands. He'd been back at Hogwarts now for two days and was planning on making the most of this break while he could, for he knew as the days went on more people would arrive, and planning would have to begin. The war was reaching an end; it has to be, things couldn't get much worse. Many people, good people, had lost there lives in the fight against Voldemort and Harry wasn't going to let it happen to any more.
Wizards from all over the world had been called, for the final battle, the battle that would decide the fate of the world, the fate that rested in Harry's hands. His victory or his death would decide whether the people of the wizarding world lived there lives in fear or in peace. It was up to him to save them.
Harry didn't want to think of the war at the moment, it would be a least another week before everyone arrived at Hogwarts, their base for this operation. Shutting his eyes he blocked out the troubles of the world and relaxed. He was going to enjoy the peace while it lasted.
Hermione slowly made her way across the grass to the distant figure she could see sitting by the lake. It was nearly noon, and the sun was high in the sky, she could feel it beating down on her already flushed skin. She had been searching franticly for Harry since he quietly slipped away after breakfast.
They had been back in the castle for two days, and although it was great to all be together again, deep down she knew this could be the last time it ever happened. Sirius and Remus has arrived late last night and breakfast was a cheerful time while they all chatted to each other catching up on what had been happening over the last few months. But Hermione could tell there was something wrong, although happy to see his godfather, Harry wasn't his normal self, understandably there was a war going on and pretty soon he was going to have to face Voldemort, but still, something worried her. After about half an hour, Harry had excused himself and slipped away, and all she could do was watch as he walked out the great hall, carrying on his shoulder the weight of the world. Hermione wished there was someway she could help him: comfort him, but he would never let her, never let anyone. Not wanting to bring his trouble on to other people; locking them inside himself. If only he would let her in, let her love him.
Ron was talking, asking her a question but all she could do was stare at the door which Harry had just walk through, suddenly snapping out of her thoughts, not knowing how long it had been, she also excused herself, setting off on her mission, one to get Harry to open up to her even if she had to force it out of him.
And this is were she found herself, after about an hour of searching and slowly loosing her mind with worry, she had spotted the figure of a young man out by the lake. Knowing immediately who it was, she made her way to the front doors and was now half way there before she even knew what she was doing.
Harry heard her approach before she even said a word, he could sense her. He knew why she had come. Why she always came, to find out what was wrong, but how could he tell her. Yeah, he could lie like he normally did: it's the war, he was scared, what if he failed? What if many people die because he did the wrong thing? All the usual stuff, and they were true, they did make him worry, but they weren't the main problem. They weren't the reasons he hardly slept at night, they weren't the reasons he would wake up screaming from a nightmare. It was her. How could he turn to his best friend, the girl he respected, admired, and the girl he loved and tell her she was the reason he felt so bad.
Harry wasn't exactly sure when it was he fell in love with Hermione. There had always been something between them, what he always thought was friendship had grown and evolved just like he had, just like she had. He wished he could say he fell in love with her at first sight, when she fixed his glasses on the Hogwarts Express, but he hadn't. Or when Krum had taken her to the ball, and he had been over come with jealousy, but again he hadn't. It was something that just sneaked up on him, through out the last two school years, when everyone thought they had a secret affair going on, they just denied it and laughed it off. Though that's where it began, he started to think why not? Why was it such a stupid idea; them being together and as the years went on, this silly little crush which had developed turned into love. This is what worried him the most: losing her, for he knew if he lost her then his world would be over, the wizarding world would be over, because what was the point of fighting to save a world that she wasn't in. At least now there was a point to the fighting, when it was over he could tell her, tell her how he truly felt.
Four days ago when they both received the owl asking them to make there way to Hogwarts. He had begged and pleaded with her not to go, for her to stay at home away from the fighting, away from the death. Of course, this had lead to a huge argument, but Harry couldn't tell her his true reasons for not wanting her there. For telling the truth would put her life in more danger then it already was. If Voldemort knew just how much he loved Hermione then he would waste no time in using her against him. So he kept quiet, didn't say a word about his love not to her not to anyone.
"Harry …" Hermione looked down at him, laying there with his back against a tree, the sun shining on he's face, eyes closed. He looked more at peace now then Hermione had seen him look for a long time.
"Hey," was all he said. Then slowly he opened his eyes squinting into the sun. There she stood a picture of beauty her brown hair shining in the light and those brown eyes twinkling but he could see the worried expression that they bore. "Am I needed back at the castle?"
"No, no I just came looking for you" She slowing sat down next to Harry their shoulders brushing. Harry held his breathe, he thought his heart was about to jump right out of his chest, how could she have this effect on him, did she even know what she was doing to him just by being there.
By the time Harry had snapped out of this thoughts he realised Hermione had be talking to him for several minutes.
"… Bumped into Ron and Lav before I came outside, thought it would be best if I left them alone they were getting a little … let me see how I can put this nicely."
Harry just closed his eyes again while a small smile spread across his face. Ron and Lavender had an amazing away of clearing a room in a few seconds if they wanted.
Hermione looked at him, surprised that he had said anything, and a smile of her own appeared.
"They had gone past friendly a few minutes before I walked in."
Harry let out a small laugh, though he never opened his eyes. Yes, he has been there and seen that and, oh, he wished to god he hadn't, he'd lost count of the number of times he'd asked Ron to be a little more private about his relationship with Lavender, especially when they where sharing a flat.
As a silence came over the two, Hermione sat and watched. It was good to see Harry smiling, it wasn't a sight you got to see very often these days, but when it happened it took her breathe away. Slowly, she studied his face, a face that she had come to know very well, she knew his expressions and could tell exactly what he was thinking at any given time. She knew when he was happy and when he was sad, but the look she knew most of all was the one he had on now. Confused, he was thinking of something and by the look of it something very important.
"What are you thinking?"
Harry, once again, opened his eyes and just glanced at her with an amused look on his face. But Hermione could see sadness in his eyes and a great deal of pain.
"What makes you think I'm thinking of anything" and with that some of the pain and sadness slipped away, and Hermione saw that playful glint appear. She just looked away shaking her head: he couldn't fool her.
"I've known you since you were eleven Harry Potter I can tell when your thinking of something" That's when she turned to face him again but he was staring out over the still water, the smile gone from his face and a serious look replacing it.
"It's confusing isn't it?" Hermione knew it wasn't a question so she stayed silent hoping that he would continue.
Harry exhaled a deep breath, one he didn't know he was holding, thinking whether or not he should continue, but he did.
"It's confusing … life I mean. The decisions you have to make, whether this is right or that's right and what's best to do." He paused and let out a slight laugh. "I mean I'm only twenty, and pretty soon I'm going to have to make the biggest decision of my life, and it has nothing to do with where I'm going to go drinking this weekend." Harry looked up to find Hermione just staring at him with tears beginning to show in her eyes.
"I mean, think about what decisions was I making five years ago, what decisions were you making." With that he turned away again back to the lake.
Hermione knew he didn't want to upset her but she couldn't help it as a lone tear appeared on her check. She thought back over the years and then turned to answer Harry's question.
"Five years ago I was deciding whether or not I really liked Ron or if it was just friendship I was feeling," and with that Harry looked her in her eyes. He slowly raised his hand and wiped away the tear.
"I remember that." A small smile emerge on his face as he thought back to that time of their lives, "I'd spend most my time deciding whether to hide in the corner or go and quietly disappear." And then he smiled a genuine smile, and Hermione couldn't help but return it.
"It wasn't that bad!"
"Wasn't that bad, Hermione? I have faced Voldemort numerous times, but I would never want to be on the other side of an argument with you, I felt sorry for Ron."
With that they both laughed.
"But you didn't have to run and hide. my anger wasn't aimed at you'"
"No, but when you and Ron would turn to me for help, then I would wish I had run and hid. I mean having you and Ron want me to tell you who was right and who was wrong was not something I wanted to get in the middle of."
Hermione glanced down at her hands, "If I remember rightly you usually sided with me"
Harry's cheeks suddenly blushed, and the grass had become very fascinating. "You were usually right," he whispered just loud enough for her to hear.
Hermione just looked at him, surprised at his reaction, he couldn't possible feel for her what she felt for him that was ridiculous, wasn't it.
"Ron used to fly off the handle when ever he saw me talking to another boy, luckily we ended it before it ruined our friendship."
Harry laughed; his cheeks had returned to normal, and he was now, once again, watching Hermione.
"If I remember correctly, most of the boys you dated had a problem with you talking to other guys." Harry smiled at the memories, the amount of times Hermione had come to him complaining about her current boyfriend.
"And if I remember properly, it was mainly about you." Once again Harry couldn't help but smile. Every guy that Hermione had dated in Hogwarts had been terrified of him and Ron, always disappearing when they came along.
"Like that, what's his name …" Harry racked his brain for the person he was thinking of. "That Hufflepuff guy."
"That Hufflepuff guy, well its good to see you took so much notice of my life back them" She did her best to sound hurt and angry, but Harry could tell she was only kidding.
"Justin, that was it Justin. You know the one that accused you of cheating on him." Hermione just nodded, "and apparently you were cheating on him with me."
Hermione laughed, "Yeah he decided to have an argument in the middle of the Great Hall if I remember correctly, sixth year"
She remembered it very well, as that was around the time she has realised she'd fallen in love with Harry. She and Justin had started to go out in fifth year, just before the summer, although it ended quickly. They had gotten back together on the Hogwart's Express September the first. Though a week before the Halloween ball, Justin stood up in the Great Hall and accused her of fooling around with Harry behind his back. To say they were shocked was an understatement. Harry nearly fell backwards off the bench and would of if it wasn't for Dean, and Ron couldn't stop laughing because he had been saying for ages someone was going suspect it sooner or later. To cut a long story short, there was a huge argument which ended with the help of Harry and Ron, and with Ron punching Justin in the face. So then single and dateless for the ball Hermione decided she wasn't going to go to the 'stupid thing', that was until Harry said he would take her. Dancing in his arms, Hermione knew instantly she was in love with Harry Potter.
"…It was a good night, of course, it didn't help matters in the rumour mill, with me taking you."
Hermione was so far away down memory lane that she hadn't realised Harry had been talking to her.
"Sorry what did you say" she snapped out of her day dream and concentrated on him. Harry just gave a small laugh.
"I said it didn't help with the rumours when I took you to the ball."
"It didn't help that you trod on my foot while we were dancing."
"I did not tread on your foot!!"
"Oh I believe you did"
"I don't think so"
And that's when it started the beginning of the end. As Harry leaned over to tickled Hermione, not knowing that with that one little movement, something he had done many times before, would begin the sequence of events that would end their current friendship forever.
Both their laughter could be heard around the lake as a tickling war broken out between the two best friends. In the end, Harry came out victorious straddling over Hermione's waist while he tickled her sides.
"Right now," Harry could hardly contain his laughter. "Do you still remember me treading on you foot?" He carried on tickling, but all Hermione could do was wiggle underneath him.
"Yes," she shouted out in between laughter and gasps for breaths.
With that Harry stopped his attack and gripped hold of her wrists. In one fluid movement he pinned them above her head, knowing instantly that that was the biggest mistake he had ever made. Green met Brown, and they started at each other, their faces only inches apart noses nearly touching. Harry's heart began pounding in his chest, and he knew he had to move if he didn't. . . he didn't even want to think what would happen. But no matter how much he tried he couldn't bring himself to pull away from those brown eyes. That's where he lost it and did the one thing he said he would never do: he let instincts take over. He wasn't listening to his mind now; he was listening to his heart. He leaned in and lightly pressed his lips to hers in a feather light kiss for just a second. The electrical shock which ran through out his body was amazing: never had he felt anything like it before.
Hermione laid there on her back, just looking up at him. He had kissed her, Harry had kissed her. Her head was in a spin, and she wasn't thinking. Ever so slowly she turned her head up to his, her lips lightly parted and trembling. He gentle kissed them again, and their mouths clung together in a slow, passionate kiss. As they parted one more time Harry look down at her, she could hardly breathe, never before had someone looked at her with such intensity, such love, such desire. Harry by this time has released his grip on her hands and had brought then down to her waist. He gently pushed his hand inside her top and caresses her midriff, the feel of his hand on her skin made her breathe faster and faster.
A million thoughts ran through Hermione's head at once. She didn't know what to think or what to feel. She was in love with Harry, but was this the right thing to do, even though it felt so good.
"Harry we …" Harry kiss her gently, softly his mouth brush over her until Hermione forgot everything she was going to say and couldn't think about anything else apart from Harry's lips on hers. Her body melting to fit with his, her lips quivering as she kissed him back.
Harry knew he should stop. It was getting out of hand, but as Hermione's tongue demanded entrance in to his mouth, he forgot everything apart from the blinding erotic pleasure from that kiss; the feel of her lips, the taste of her tongue. From the slow loving kiss developed a passionate battle. Her hands were moving everywhere and found their way to the bare skin under his shirt.
All of a sudden Harry lips disappear and Hermione felt the loss thinking he had changed his mind. She let out a small moan only to have Harry's lips return to her neck. As he slowly slid his mouth down across the skin to her shoulder kissing and sucking lightly as he went, her overheated blood seemed to flow the trail of his lips, she was on fire.
"Tell me to stop!" Hermione heard him as he continue the attack on her neck with no intentions of stopping himself. It was more like a plea for her to stop him before it was too late, as he was too weak to do it himself. Though Hermione wasn't much stronger. No matter how hard she tried, she couldn't bring herself to say the word.
Harry waited for her reply, and he cursed himself for not being able to stop himself, but his body ached for her so much, and even the prospect of putting her in danger couldn't of stopped him at this moment in time.
"I don't want you too."
With that Harry stopped his assault on her neck and lifted his head to look at her. Hermione's hands stopped roaming, and they just froze. Their eyes met for what seemed like an eternity until, once again, their lips met in a fiery kiss, and their hands continued on their journey.