Title: To Break and to Mend

Author: Amethyst J.

Author E-mail: AmethystJackson@hotmail.com

Category: Romance

Rating: G

Spoilers: OotP

Keywords: Harry Hermione snow broken love

Summary: Hermione suffers some emotional side effects of that crazy little thing called love, and Harry finds that it's up to him to cure them.

Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.

Author's Note: I'm sure this isn't the best thing I've ever written, but I feel it merits posting. It's a combination of two 15 minute ficlets (visit the '15minuteficlets' community at livejournal.com for more information), which I wrote in the same little plot and universe. The two words, if you're curious, were 'snow' and 'broken.' It doesn't have much at all to do with snow…but anyway. Happy reading.

~

Harry was working diligently on a potions essay (or so he was making it seem) when the most inhuman, high-pitched squeal he had ever heard caused him to look up and splatter ink all over his parchment.

"It's snowing!" Hermione shrieked, and Harry started to worry just a little bit about her. "It's the first snow of the year," she added happily, plopping down in a chair by the window to watch it.

"It's not like you've never seen snow before," Harry said, amused.

"That's not the point!" Hermione exclaimed, as if he were the most idiotic git alive. "It's snow! It only comes around once or twice a year, if at all - and Christmas is in two days! We'll have a white Christmas, Harry!"

Harry blinked at her. "Yes, that's…nice."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "I should have never expected a boy to understand," she huffed, turning back to the window.

Harry scowled. He hated being called a boy. And he hated it even more when Hermione talked to him that way; that was the tone she generally reserved for Ron, not him. He liked to believe that his relationship with Hermione was different than the one between Ron and Hermione, that perhaps their bond was somehow stronger.

Of course, he'd never tell her that, or Ron. He wasn't exactly sure what his feelings in this area meant, but he knew that they would effect change in the fragile balance of their triangle.

"What's the matter, Harry?"

He pulled himself back to earth. She had been watching him. "Nothing," he replied.

She left her window seat and sat with him by the fireplace. "You look upset."

"I'm not," he insisted.

She frowned. "You are - something's upset you, and you really don't want me to know about it."

Harry sighed, put down his quill, and looked determinedly at her. "I'm fine."

Hermione scowled. "Well, if you're that desperate to keep it from me, I guess I'll just leave you alone. I don't know why you're in such a bad mood this evening, but you might try working out whatever's bothering you. It's making you more than a little unpleasant."

Her words struck him hard in the chest. Harry couldn't prevent the injured expression that showed on his face. He swallowed. "I'm sorry, Hermione."

Hermione looked like she had somehow been hurt as well. "No, I'm sorry, Harry, that was uncalled for. As if you haven't got enough to deal with without me being horrible to you…"

"You weren't being horrible, Hermione."

"Oh, Harry -" She left her chair and hugged him - something she liked to do at the oddest moments, as if she did it solely to confuse him. He hugged her back awkwardly, trying to make it seem as if he was reacting as any typical male should to a hug from a female friend - with barely hidden discomfort.

"I'm sorry I've been like this with you lately," she said, her voice muffled in his shoulder. "I'm sure you think I'm in a constant state of PMS or something -"

"PMS?"

"Er…it's…oh, never mind, I just want you to know that if I get a little overly emotional with you or angry too easily, it's only because I love you so much."

Oh, no. There was definitely no need for him to pretend to feel awkward. He held her silently, utterly at a loss for words.

She sniffled, and it was then that Harry realized she was crying. He patted her as soothingly as he could manage, extremely inexperienced when it came to comforting crying girls. The last crying girl he had encountered had been Cho, and that had been a complete disaster.

"Shh, it's all right, Hermione. I know. I…I love you, too. Don't cry, please."

She pulled away. "I'm sorry, I'm sure you didn't want to deal with that, either…." She swiped away her tears, not meeting his eyes. "You just break my heart sometimes."

She ran off, then, up the stairs to the girls' dormitory, where he could not follow. He could only stare after her and wonder what on earth that was all about.

~

Hermione lay on her bed, crying - a position she was not unaccustomed to, but hated nonetheless. It was her own fault that she let her heart be broken by him, repeatedly. He didn't even know he was doing it, and he was always so sweet and unknowing that it broke her heart even more. And then she had to go and make those emotional outbursts at him, when he never really did anything to hurt her.

She knew she should have told him long before how she felt, but every time she came close, she stopped herself. The last thing she wanted was to add to his burden - Merlin knew, he had carried more than his share - and a part of her felt that she would only be telling him to ease her own turmoil, which wasn't fair to him. If he didn't feel the same way, which was likely, then it would only hurt both of them - and if he did feel the same way, the risk was too great to be worth finding out.

This time, however, she might have blown it. While her confession of love could be taken as purely platonic, "You just break my heart sometimes" certainly wouldn't. How could she repair the damage after the smoke finally cleared?

It was only a knock on her window that pulled her out of her thoughts. She looked up, expecting to see an owl tapping at the glass…but instead, she found Harry in his cloak, sitting outside her window on his Firebolt, snow falling into his hair.

She wiped away her tears quickly and hurried over to the window to let him in.

"Next time you feel like making a dramatic exit, you might want to run somewhere that's a little easier to get to," Harry said half-jokingly as he dismounted.

Hermione offered him a weak smile after she shut the window, unsure of what to do or say at this point. He took the lead for her.

"Do you, er, want to tell me why you said what you did downstairs?" he asked. Hermione wished he had asked an easier question to answer.

"It's just that…I care about you a lot, Harry," she said. "Probably more than I should, and it's just like I said before, if I get a little overly emotional, that's why… It's just too much sometimes."

Harry hugged her in that sweet, almost childlike way that he had, and she felt her heart crack again. "I hate to see you crying because of me."

"I know," she said, returning the hug, "I'm sorry, Harry."

"Don't be." He pulled away. "Hermione…what did you mean when you said you care about me more than you should?"

Hermione looked away. She had to tell him eventually, because he would always want to know after this. Perhaps it had to come out, before it killed her. She looked back up at him.

"It's just…platonic love isn't supposed to be this intense, is it? It's…it's something more."

Harry just stared at her. She looked at the floor, wondering when he'd finally run away and never speak to her again.

"Harry, say something, please."

"You're in love with me?"

"Yes. Yes, I'm sorry, I'm trying to get over it - I can, with time, and nothing has to change between us -"

She felt his fingers on her cheek and held her breath. "Yes…it does have to change, Hermione." He lifted her chin up with a finger, half a smile on his face. "Because I think I'm falling in love with you, too."

She let out a tiny sob and fell into his embrace, left with the numb feeling of relief that is not yet registered. Those were the last words she'd been expecting, but they were everything that she had hoped for.

"I never thought I'd hear you say that," Hermione whispered.

Harry pressed a kiss to her forehead. "Have I stopped breaking your heart now?"

"Yes," she said, standing on her toes to kiss him. "Yes, you have. You always put it back together."

- Fin