Title: Change

Author: Amethyst

Author E-mail: AmethystJackson@hotmail.com

Category: Romance

Keywords: Harry Hermione project change love

Rating: PG

Spoilers: OotP

Summary: If you ask Harry, he will definitely tell you that change is good.

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 started this in July, I believe, and finished it in December. Therefore, it may be a bit weird. However, it is fluff, and fluff makes up for everything…right? ^^

~

Harry didn't want to admit that he was very uncomfortable at the moment. Hermione needed his help, and he wasn't about to deny her any service he could offer. She had, after all, saved his life on many occasions.

Why she had taken the class on Muggle medicine was beyond his comprehension. Ron had probably best identified the reason when he had said, "It's Hermione. Of course she's taking the class." Harry wished that her lust for knowledge didn't have to lead to him having a tourniquet put on his leg while he sat on what had to be the hardest stool ever made. And it was taking her a ridiculous amount of time to complete her project. In fact, he wasn't sure that it was Hermione standing there so much as an evil fiend Polyjuiced into her body, sent to slowly ruin him with this class. First, they'd make his leg gangrene, then they'd slowly take off other important limbs.

He sighed quietly, hoping she would be finished soon. His leg was going numb.

"Hermione…it's supposed to cut off my circulation, right?" he asked, glancing down at his leg.

"Yes, it's a tourniquet. It cuts off the circulation to keep a person from bleeding to death."

"Well, then, you did it right," he told her, wiggling his leg.

Her face lit up. Harry mentally glared at her. It wasn't fair that she could use her womanly charms to get him into these situations, and then, after he properly worked up the necessary irritation, make him happy to do anything for her all over again.

"Really? Your leg's going numb?" she questioned excitedly. She plopped down in front of him on the floor, examining the tourniquet and his very numb leg.

"Yes, it is. Er, Hermione, would it be possible to take the tourniquet off, now that we know it's working?"

She looked up at him, eyes widening. "Oh, I'm sorry, Harry…I was so happy I had actually done it that I completely forgot what it did," she babbled, grinning at him as she removed it. "I haven't been doing very well in this class. It's a bit more hands-on than I was expecting."

Harry wiggled his toes, hoping to regain some feeling in his leg. "You can't be perfect at everything," he said to her, hoping his words would sink in for once, but they never did when they tried to have this conversation. Hermione was stuck to her perfectionist ways.

"I know I can't. But I can try, can't I?"

"Why try so hard, though?" he asked, his voice cracking slightly as the blood returned to his leg.

"Because," she said, looking at him as though he was very stupid indeed, "It's important to try your best at everything you do. It can prove to be very useful later on."

"It puts too much pressure on you," he argued, for some reason set on making her see things his way. "I know you, Hermione, and I know you think you have to know everything, but it's impossible."

Hermione scowled at him, and Harry felt the need to duck and cover. She was definitely not pleased with him. "And I suppose you'd say the same thing if my knowledge was saving your life right now," she snapped at him. Harry couldn't respond right away. He wasn't quite sure what she was saying. Perhaps she was trying to tell him that her inhuman effort to be perfect was for him. Perhaps she was just trying to say that she felt taken advantage of. He didn't really know; one could never tell with women.

He licked his lips and formed his response slowly. "Hermione…Don't think for one second that I take what you've done for me for granted. I know that without you I'd be dead right now. I've never been more grateful for anyone in my life. But…" He paused. He knew what he wanted to say, but it was altogether too revealing. I'd rather die than see you unhappy in any way - even he couldn't deny what it sounded like.

"But what, Harry?" Hermione prompted, clearly not satisfied.

He sighed. He couldn't tell her. "It's not fair to you. You're too hard on yourself. No matter what happens, we always find a way."

Echoing his sigh, she sat on the floor again at his feet. "It's not something I can just give up. I mean…now that we know about the prophecy, I have to do everything I can to keep you safe," she said, avoiding his eyes. "And it's not like I'm too stressed or anything. I'm taking fewer classes than I did third year. I'm fine, really. You're turning into a bigger worrier than I am."

Harry smiled at her. Before he could stop himself from saying it, it was out. "I only worry about you." She blushed, and he mentally smacked himself. What was he doing, blurting out things like that, to Hermione, of all people?

"Well, um, I've got to get ready for Magical Medicine now, so…" she trailed off awkwardly, getting up off the floor.

"It's a Saturday, Hermione," Harry said, bewildered, rolling down his pant leg now that his circulation had returned.

"Yes, but it's not really a class. It's more of an extracurricular, really…it's something you sign up for if you want to know more about it. You don't get into the real study until university, if you want to be a Healer or something. But I think it's important to know the basics in both Muggle and magical first aid, just in case."

"Only you, Hermione," Harry chuckled quietly. She scowled at him and put her hands on her hips.

"I wish you wouldn't do that, like it's a bad thing that I want to learn -"

"I wasn't saying it like it was a bad thing," Harry responded as he stood to leave. "You're amazing, Hermione. One of a kind."

Hermione's cheeks colored again. "Oh…well, um, I'm sorry for snapping at you."

He nodded, never having needed the apology. "Well…enjoy your class." He turned to leave, and walked right into the wall with a smack that echoed throughout the room. Harry recoiled; his eyes watered and his nose stung. It felt as if it was bleeding.

"Harry!" Hermione cried, rushing to his side. He allowed her to turn him around, trying to hide his embarrassment. She had her wand out and was looking up at him worriedly.

"Oh, Harry…you escape Voldemort five times and you get yourself injured walking into a wall… Now, you see, it's lucky I'm taking all these classes." She flicked her wand and said a quick spell, and Harry felt his nose heal. "There."

"Thanks," Harry said awkwardly. There was an incredible amount of tension in the room, and he could tell that Hermione felt it, too. She was twirling her wand nervously, her gaze directed at the floor. Harry couldn't quite place the source of the tension, but he knew it had a direct connection with the butterflies in his stomach.

For some reason beyond his comprehension, Harry asked one of the most fateful questions of his life.

"Would you slap me if I kissed you?"

Hermione dropped her wand. "Oh – I – um – er – I don't know."

Harry decided to take that as a 'no.' He wished she wouldn't look at him like that. It was going to be difficult to kiss her. Harry wished he had a better excuse – mistletoe, perhaps, or a love potion. Then this wouldn't be so embarrassing.

"Well, then…" he said awkwardly. "I guess I'll just –"

But Hermione surprised him by standing up on tiptoes and kissing him first. He froze; she froze. Harry met her wide eyes. Hermione was as confused as he was. They both jerked away at the same time, blushing furiously.

"Well, um…"

"Yeah, I'd better…"

"Right, class…"

Harry stared at the ground, hands in his pockets. Hermione twirled her wand again.

"Oh, this is ridiculous!" Hermione burst out a second later, and Harry looked up at her so quickly that he was sure he pulled something. "Here we are," she went on, "both of age and nearly out of Hogwarts, and we can't even kiss properly!"

"Of course we can," Harry snapped, feeling, indeed, ridiculous. Perhaps his single endeavor with Cho had been a disaster, and there hadn't been another girl since, but he was determined to do this properly.

He pulled her to him and gave her a kiss to rival a scene from Gone with the Wind.

He released her approximately ten seconds later. She gasped quietly as they parted.

"Well. I guess you've proven me wrong," she said rather breathlessly.

"I guess so."

Hermione bit her lip. He wanted to kiss her again. "I - I really should get to class."

Harry nodded. "Right, you should go. I'll just…go do…studying," he stammered senselessly.

Hermione nodded back. She left first and he followed her, neither speaking.

It was strange, Harry thought, how he always expected kissing Hermione to change everything. It seemed now, as he waved to her when she left for her class, that the change in their relationship was so subtly it was nearly undetectable.

Love was not something sudden and new to them. It had grown gradually with their friendship, and their friendship had adjusted to it.

The only difference now was the ability to acknowledge that love, rather than hide it under layers of friendship.

Harry smiled to himself. Small as it was, he liked the change.

- Fin