Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc.
One of the bad parts about being friends with Harry Potter and Ron Weasley was that sometime during the middle of sixth year they had concocted the crazy notion that they were the Marauders born again. I don't know how they had come up with that idea. I hadn't been privy to those discussions, as they tended to leave me out of discussions when they thought I wouldn't approve of the subject matter. Perhaps it was a way for Harry to deal with his grief, perhaps it was a way for both of them to get their minds off what was to come. Unfortunately, I was all too aware of the consequences.
Those idiots had become pranksters supreme.
I had tried to talk them out of it, but to no avail. Harry had said that there were too many similarities between then and now, and who was he to disregard a family tradition. I had then rather boldly asked if that meant that he loved me, as his father had fallen in love with a smart Muggleborn witch. He had stammered and flushed and finally mumbled something about not all things being the same, while Ron shot dirty glances at me before pulling Harry away, telling him that I wasn't the sort who would understand.
Harry was right though. Not everything was the same this time around. I had fallen in love with him, instead of the other way around. But that wasn't anything new, and there was no point in feeling sorry for myself.
I've had my hands full since then, trying to deal with the consequences of their pranks. I had been ready to kill them when they had scared poor Neville by making it look like Trevor was dead. The two had been properly contrite, but really! They should have known better! This was Neville we were talking about after all, and he had been through enough already as it was.
There was one prank of theirs that did make me laugh – or rather, an attempted prank. One day, Ron had convinced Harry to help him transfigure Crookshanks into a hairbrush, as my darling cat had taken to staring at them disapprovingly whenever they plotted a new prank. They weren't too clear on the details afterwards, but evidently, Crookshanks knew what was up (not too surprising considering that he's smarter than both of them), and managed to mess up the spell so that Ron was transformed into a stuffed spider while Harry's hair turned pink.
Even Snape was seen smiling that day.
He had plenty of reason to as he had been the brunt of many a prank. None of them had ever been connected to the boys, as that was the whole point of a prank, but Snape was smart enough to know whom to blame. Trying to tell Harry and Ron that they shouldn't play such pranks on a professor . . . well, it would have been better for me to bang my head repeatedly against a wall as the resulting headache couldn't be as bad. They were still holding grudges against him for all of the ways he had picked on us throughout the years. Unfortunately that was when I had pulled a Hagrid and said something I shouldn't have said.
I had asked why they hadn't targeted Trelawney yet as they disliked her almost as much as they disliked Snape.
Almost immediately, I could see the light bulbs that went off in their little heads. I'd imagine that they would have started rubbing their hands together and cackling gleefully if I hadn't been present. They couldn't get away from me quick enough. I wished I could take those words back, but it was too late.
It's not as if I liked Trelawney. Quite the opposite actually. But there was this thought I couldn't shake that kept echoing through my head. If it hadn't been for the troll incident way back in first year, I would've been a favorite target of theirs. Knowing that I felt obliged to try and stop them. If it were me, I would have wanted someone to do the same. So I felt I had no choice but to take to sneaking out at night to try and stop their dastardly plan.
They had one overwhelming advantage over me, however, and that was Harry's Invisibility Cloak. I had looked desperately through catalogs for one, but the only ones out there were well out of my price range. Hence, I had to rely on my natural stealth and ability to keep quiet when moving about. And as for tracking them – that took a bit of deduction and a good deal of luck. I knew their target was Trelawney, and so I followed her about. One night, after she left the Great Hall from a staff meeting, I caught sight of Harry after following her for about ten minutes.
Him being visible meant that Ron was the one who would actually cast the spell for the prank. Harry was there either as a lookout or as a distraction. Silently, I crept up to the spot where he was hidden and tapped him on his shoulder.
"Call this off or I'll scream," I threatened.
He rolled his eyes. He didn't believe I would do it. "Hermione, you'd get detention as well, you know," he reasoned with me.
"I know and I don't care. You two can't keeping doing this. Don't you ever think what it does to others?" I said, trying yet again to get him to see my point.
"Hermione," he sighed. "This isn't the time to be having this discussion. Why don't we have it later, back in the Common Room, okay? Ron will be around too, so you won't have to repeat yourself to him."
I glared at him. I knew perfectly well that was just a ploy to buy my silence for this prank. "Harry, it has got to stop now," I told him. He ignored my words once again so I opened my mouth to scream as loud as I could when suddenly a pair of lips came crashing down onto mine.
He kissed me.
It was something that had only happened in my dreams, but my dreams were never anything like this. Kissing him in real life was infinitely better than kissing him in a dream. He was sweet and gentle, and I could feel myself melting into his arms.
The moment was interrupted by Trelawney's shrieks of horror. Harry pulled away from me and turned to laugh at Trelawney running from what looked to be a Grim, while I came to realize why he had kissed me.
That bastard had kissed me for the sake of a prank.
I couldn't believe that he'd use me like that. I was incensed that he would play with my feelings like that. How dare he kiss me like he meant it just to keep me quiet for their damn prank!
Harry turned to see my reaction, and I must have looked a sight then, with my hair frizzing out and my hands clenched into fists at my side. If looks could kill, the Wizarding World would be in a frenzy to resurrect him as he would've been dead ten times over.
"I bloody well hate you, Harry Potter," I said before fleeing to the sanctuary of my room.
I didn't speak to them for the entire week after that incident. They both tried to approach me outside of my room, but I had my knight in shining armor – Crookshanks. One glare from him was enough to send Ron scampering away, and he actually scratched Harry several times while I made good my escape. I didn't want to deal with either of them. Ron would merely laugh at me and tell me that I needed to relax more. Harry, on the other hand, would apologize but not really know what he was apologizing for and so not honestly mean it. I didn't know which was worse.
It was enough to make any girl cry. You know your love life was destined to be pathetic when the most reliable male in your life was your cat.
Unfortunately, the stress was beginning to show on poor Crookshanks and on me as well. Never had I been more grateful to the alarms set all over the girls' dorm, but I couldn't very well stay in there all the time. Fortunately, the library was a favorite place of mine, and it was full of nooks and crannies to hide in. I had routinely begun to go there after class, making sure never to study in the same place twice in a row.
Despite that, I suppose it was inevitable that one of them would find me eventually. Especially given how stubborn Harry is.
"Hello, Hermione," he said, creeping up from behind me one bright Saturday morning. It had been almost two weeks since that incident but I still was not feeling up to speaking with him.
He sighed audibly. I heard the chair beside me scrape against the floor as he pulled it out, and I felt, rather than saw, him sit down. He stared at me for several minutes, as if willing me to speak, before finally giving that gambit up.
"You know, Ron's hardly been speaking to me too. Says it's all my fault that I made you so mad that you won't help him on his homework. He's failed the last Potions quiz you know." He paused again. "Hermione, you know, it would be incredibly . . . incredibly sad if the three of us stopped being friends because of one little kiss."
"You blithering idiot, this isn't just about that," I told him. I turned back to my books, hoping that he'd get the hint and go away.
Harry was always on the slow side.
"It's not? Because you could have fooled me, Hermione. Would you mind telling me what this is about?" Now he was mad as well. Good. He deserved the headache that went with it. "How about this, Hermione? If I admit to being an insensitive male, would you maybe condescend to tell me why you've not been speaking to me for the past two weeks? You know, toss the clueless male a bone?"
That was it. He had asked for it. My only regret was that we were in the library so I couldn't shout.
"Have you ever thought how it must feel to be on the receiving end of one of your pranks?" I asked him scathingly. "How humiliating it must feel to know that you were stupid enough to fall for some obvious joke? And how much worse it must get to see the two buffoons who planned the whole thing laughing at you?"
"I know, Hermione. That's why me and Ron has thought this through—"
"Thought this through? What about Neville? It'd be more truthful to say that you hadn't been thinking at all!"
Harry turned red. "I meant after that, obviously. We only went after people who deserved having a prank pulled on them like Snape and Trelawney."
"You only go after those who deserve it? Who the hell are you to decide who deserves it? How do you know what they've been through?" I said, my words blistering the air.
"Better than you," he retorted. "I know perfectly well why Snape hates me, and if he's going to hate me no matter what because of what my father did . . . well, I'd rather give him a real reason to do so."
"That is the stupidest thing you've ever said, Harry Potter. You're only making things worse!"
"Is it? Cause I hadn't noticed!" He paused, taking a deep breath. "And what I don't still understand is why you're getting so upset at the two of us. It hurts, Hermione, to know that you'd take their side over ours."
"You think this is about taking sides?" I couldn't believe my ears. That boy really was clueless. I turned to face him. "You don't get it, do you? Whenever you pull a prank on someone, I keep thinking . . . if not for that damned troll, then it'd be me. It'd be me who'd be your main target." Much to my disgust, I started crying. Why couldn't I ever control my tears?
"No, Hermione, that's not true," Harry said, not quite sure on how to comfort me. He never knew what to do when he saw a girl cry.
"But it is. And then when you kissed me to distract me . . . it felt like you were using me . . . as if I were just some useful tool for your prank," I told him.
"I . . . I would never do that, Hermione. You've got to know that," he said. His arms came around to embrace me. "I'm sorry," he said, "for making you feel that way. And I'm sorry for playing all those pranks . . . we won't anymore, not if it affects you so . . ."
"And?" I sniffled, my bout of tears over. It was childish of me, I knew, but I wanted him to apologize for kissing me. It was the least he could do after using me like that.
Silence reigned for several moments. Finally, he said, "If you're expecting me to apologize for kissing you, I'm not." My jaw dropped. I couldn't believe what I had heard. "Especially when I've wanted to do that for a long time," he mumbled, half to himself.
"You bastard!" I started pounding his chest with my fists. If he had wanted to for a long time, then why only kiss me when he wanted to keep me quiet? Why didn't he do something sooner? Hadn't I dropped him enough hints, given him enough chances?
"Hermione," he said, "we're in the library."
"How dare you say that!" I went on. "How dare you do such a thing!"
"Hermione, please, you're making a scene. You don't want to get us kicked out, do you?"
"Why did you do it then? If you wanted to—" I said, but before I could finish that thought, once again his lips came down to meet mine, and I was lifted out of my chair and into his lap. The bastard was kissing me again, and I was enjoying it. Not that I was going to stop him, because who knew when he'd have the nerve to try it again. I kissed him back fervently, pressing myself to him, trying to get closer to him. His hands were tangled in my hair – it's a right pain to have curly hair – and nothing before had ever felt so—
"Mr. Potter! Ms. Granger!" Madam Pince sharply scolded us. "This is no way to behave in the library." She glared. "Out! Out with the both of you! Your overactive hormones are bad for the books!" She started to shoo us out of the library, and before I knew what was happening, I was outside its doors with Harry.
Finally, my mind caught up with the present, and I wanted to cry all over again. "I got kicked out of the library for snogging!" I wailed, waving my hands in the air.
"So did I, you know," said Harry.
That was when it hit me. He had done it again! He had kissed me to keep me quiet!
"You—" Once again, he kissed me before I could finish. It seemed to be a never-ending theme these days.
He pulled away from me and smiled. "Shocking, isn't it?" he said. "It's getting to be a bad habit."
"I know," I agreed, crossing my arms against my chest and pouting.
"Come on, Hermione, don't look like that." He shyly grabbed my hand and began leading me away from the library. "I . . . I . . . you don't really want me to apologize for kissing you, do you?"
I didn't answer that.
"Hermione, you enjoyed it!"
That may have been true, but I wasn't about to agree with him aloud.
"Honestly, Hermione!" He suddenly turned around to face me, and he grasped my other hand. "Please don't be mad at me . . . don't be mad at me like that." He looked down at his feet. "I'd already apologized for making you feel bad back then . . . please don't be so mad that you won't even give me another chance." He looked up, his green eyes brimming with emotion. "Don't you think that would be really pathetic and sad? That we never got together because I did something stupid and you couldn't forgive me?"
Damn. He had me there. It would be sad . . . and what was more, it wouldn't be stupid. It wasn't something that I would do and for good reason.
"I'm not mad," I told him. "Not anymore. And truth be told, I didn't mind those last two kisses. It's just . . . I don't want you kissing me only because you want to keep me quiet or because you want something else from me. I want you kissing me because you want to!"
He laughed and pulled me into his embrace, resting his forehead against mine. "In that case," he said, "I'd always be kissing you."
I blushed and looked away. "Well, obviously we can't be—"
He kissed me again. It ended softly, like a promise there would be more.
"You were saying?" he asked, his eyes sparkling merrily.
"I . . . I can't recall," I answered.
"Excellent," he said. Abruptly, his eyes darkened, and his mood turned serious. "So this means you don't hate me?" he asked, almost plaintively.
"Quite the opposite," I replied and kissed him on his nose.
"Good. I wouldn't know what to do if you—"
That was when I decided that it was high time that I returned the favor. I kissed him.
"Any more doubts?" I asked when we had finished.
"None. None at all." He smiled at me, and this time, we
started to kiss as one.
Author's Note: Before anyone asks, Charming will be updated on Friday. I hope you've enjoyed this one, and I'd really appreciate it if you could leave a review.