December 17th

Harry stood outside Flourish and Blotts for what seemed to be the hundredth time. He knew Hermione made a weekly trip there, every Wednesday. He wanted to go in, but couldn't. Ever since they had graduated from Hogwarts, and, Harry supposed, for years before, Harry knew at some level that he had deep feelings for Hermione. He had also long since suspected that his feelings ran much deeper than those he had harbored for Cho Chang. Harry suspected he was in love with Hermione. He had tried to tell her, but he could never actually gather up enough courage to do so. Somehow, how exactly Harry would never know, he had lost contact with Hermione after graduation. Maybe it had something to do with his fear of her finding out his feelings. He had seen her every now and then, around Diagon Alley, but she had never noticed him, as he tended to keep to the shadows in public places.

"Damn it," he said softly, bunching his robes up around him as it started to snow. He turned away from Flourish and Blotts, and made his way home.

Reaching his small flat, he closed the door behind him, and hung his coat up by the door. He sat down hard on the couch, holding his head in his hands. Images of Hermione played in his head. He couldn't escape her, she was all he could think about whenever he wasn't actively involved in something else. He was miserable, unable to move on with his life. He knew something had to give, or everything would fall apart around him, and he'd be left a homeless, perpetually depressed, broken shell of a man.

You have to tell her, he could imagine Ginny saying to him, during one of his many visits to the Weasley home. It wasn't hard to imagine, she had told him that more times than he could count. Ginny was the only one who had ever really been able to talk to Harry once he started thinking about Hermione. Even Ron didn't know what to say. Unable to reconcile telling her with himself, he stretched out on the couch and fell asleep. His dreams were of Hermione.

The next morning, he awoke to a pain in his neck from sleeping in a bad position. He sighed as he sat up, and ran his fingers through his hair. He took a shower, hoping that the noise of the water would drown out his memories of Hermione's voice, continually playing in his head, but he had no such luck. He dressed and headed off to work. His work as an auror was his best refuge from Hermione. He was able to throw himself into his work, and achieve temporary sanctuary from Hermione plaguing his thoughts. That evening, he left work, and chose to walk home instead of traveling through floo powder or apparation.

"Harry," said a voice behind him. He turned to see Remus Lupin. He smiled, but it was a forced smile, and Lupin could tell. "Harry, we need to talk," said Lupin, putting a hand on Harry's shoulder.

"Okay," said Harry weakly. He knew what he was going to hear, but he didn't resist it.

"Harry, you can't let this haunt you," said Lupin, walking alongside Harry. "If you let it, it'll destroy you."

"I can't let her go," said Harry, stopping to look at Lupin. "I love her. I know I do."

"Then why can't you tell her?"

"I…I don't know," said Harry dejectedly. "Every week I stand outside Flourish and Blotts. I know she's in there, I just can't bring myself to go in."

"Harry, if you don't find it within yourself to talk to her, the conflict will rip you apart." He placed a fatherly hand on Harry's shoulder. "Nobody wants that to happen, Harry. I'm sure Hermione would want you to tell her. She wouldn't want you to be tearing yourself apart."

"Okay," said Harry. "I'll talk to her."

"There you go." Lupin smiled. "I'll be at the Burrow next Thursday, and not only do I expect to see you there, I also expect to hear that you've talked to Hermione."

"I'll see you then." Harry walked away.