Title: Mating Season

Authors: Amethyst J. and GracieInGreek

Author E-mail:

Category: Humor/Romance

Keywords: Harry Hermione Ron Luna

Rating: PG

Spoilers: For all five books

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.

Summary: Ron seemed utterly nonplussed by both Hermione dashing away and Harry looking daggers at him. "The Crumple-Horned Snorkack may be skittish and hide under its bed of moss, but that does not stop the skilled observer from knowing when it is in mating season."

Author's Notes: This was co-written with my wonderful friend Grace (also known as GracieInGreek).  She's the genius behind the funnier bits.

And, before you ask, no, there's no sequel – this is a one-shot and will forever remain thus.

Mating Season

Harry couldn't explain it, but something about the way Hermione was looking at him made him very nervous indeed.

It wasn't that she was looking at him as if he'd grown a second head or anything--Or was she? It was hard for him to tell. It definitely wasn't a look that he'd seen her send before...Not in his direction, anyway.

It was almost like...she was annoyed with him - but not quite.  It was similar to the look she gave him when he wasn't seeing something -extremely- obvious, but there was something different about it.  , or maybe a little sad...  Really, he had no bloody idea what it meant, but the only person who would know was Hermione, and she was the one person he couldn't ask this time.

He wondered vaguely if this was one thing that could be answered by someone other than Hermione. Perhaps it was not as it seemed, perhaps he was not as obtuse as what he will proceed to think of as 'The Look' was making him feel. As he continued to mull this thought over in his brain while Hermione kept gazing at him over the top of her Ancient Runes book, he felt the cushion he was sitting on dip to one side and looked over as Ron settled himself next to him. "Ginny wants to know," Ron started, before Harry could say anything, "why Hermione keeps looking at you as if you've forgotten Dobby's birthday."

Harry stared in wonder as Hermione slammed her book, grabbed her bag, and dashed up the stairs, leaving Harry to glare at Ron.  "Did you have to say that right in front of her?  And don't you think that if I knew what was going on I'd be doing something about it?"

Ron seemed utterly nonplussed by both Hermione dashing away and Harry looking daggers at him. "The Crumple-Horned Snorkack may be skittish and hide under its bed of moss, but that does not stop the skilled observer from knowing when it is in mating season." And, with absolutely no other word or explanation, Ron got up from the couch, grinning broadly, and headed up to the boys' dormitories, and Harry noticed for the first time that Ron seemed to have a bottle cap hanging from a hook in one of his pink ears.  Ginny followed after him, smirking at Harry as she went up the other staircase.

Harry gaped at the stairwell.  Everyone had gone absolutely loony.  Granted, Ron had been becoming weirder and weirder ever since he'd started dating Luna Lovegood, but his Snorkack metaphors were getting more than a little annoying.  He sighed to the now rather empty common room.  What had Ron been going on about?  A skittish, mating Snorkack?  Harry's eyes grew wide - he couldn't be talking about Hermione, could he?  And if so, just who the bloody hell was she mating with?  Whoever it was, he was going to die – at Harry's hands.

...Perhaps that had been the problem. What Harry could only assume was realization hitting him, he slumped back against the couch. That must have been it – Hermione had a new boyfriend, and he, Harry, hadn't known. Or was it that he simply hadn't noticed? He had an odd feeling settling over the top of his stomach, like a lead weight that didn't seem to want to drop. He wondered sagely what he should be feeling at that moment; the dead weight didn't seem too keen on offering up any adjectives for him.

Harry, annoyed that introspection had yielded so little information, found himself going over the past few months, picking out every male at Hogwarts that could have possibly stolen Hermione's heart.  She'd been talking to Terry Boot quite a bit since fifth year - a fellow brain, probably just what she was looking for; there was also Ernie Macmillan, who had asked her out numerous times and also had the brains to ask Harry about it first...but he'd never thought for a second that Hermione would say yes.  He wondered why that was.  There was no reason why Hermione shouldn't like Ernie, but...he couldn't really imagine her liking any of the boys in their year, or the ones above...surely this feeling couldn't be completely off-track...there had to be something to it.

Quickly shaking off the rather unsettling idea that it was perhaps a younger classmate of theirs that had finally weaned Hermione into the world of voluntary social interaction – for it inevitably came attached with some disturbing mental images including the Creevy brothers and their infamous cameras – Harry continued to rack his brain, pressing a hand over his scar.  If he was going to be completely honest with himself, Harry had never really envisioned Hermione with a guy, besides what he would from then on refer to as the 'Creevy Incident.'  ...Well, that wasn't exactly true.  He had, despite himself, envisioned Hermione with somebody on many occasions. 

If he was going to be completely and totally honest - which he definitely wouldn't with Hermione; not now, after he'd found out about the boyfriend - he would have to admit that he had, indeed, imagined that Hermione would end up with him.  He just couldn't see her with anyone else - the thought would invariably be ridiculous or sickening – or both.  Perhaps he was really the ridiculous one, thinking that Hermione couldn't possibly be with anyone but him, but...Hermione had always been his, in a way.  Of course he didn't own her, but she'd been the only girl in his life ever since his real life had begun, and she was the only one he could go to when matters of the heart were concerned.  He couldn't imagine a world in which he didn't have that...and perhaps that was the real reason for the lead in his stomach.

Harry sighed, letting his head fall onto the back of the couch, and closed his now aching green eyes.  For some reason, he had expected this realization to take away from the way the lead was still pressing at him, but quite to the contrary, it seemed to almost swell.  Keeping with the honesty trend, he had to admit to himself that this wasn't totally a revelation. It seemed to be a thought that hadn't hit him, really, but had just waited until Harry came across it so it could slide into place; it had been the same with his feelings for Hermione.  Nothing had rammed the knowledge into his scull like a rogue hippogriff; it had just seemed to grow steadily through the years. 

A quiet creak on the stairs pulled Harry out of his ruminations, and an investigative squint revealed Hermione standing at the foot of the staircase, looking rather desperate and almost annoyed.  "Blast.  I thought you'd have gone to bed by now, like everyone else in the tower." 

Harry tried to smile at her, but his mouth wasn't cooperating.  "Don't worry about me, Hermione.  I figured it out.  I just...I don't understand why you didn't just tell me," he said sadly, staring resolutely at the ceiling.  He had a horrible feeling that no matter what she said, it would feel like she was rejecting him, and he couldn't bear to see her face as she told him, directly or indirectly, that she didn't return his feelings.

Almost unconsciously, Harry slipped his glasses off and pinched the bridge of his nose.  That's better, he thought idly.  Now, when she looks revolted at the mere thought of being involved with me, it will be nothing but an ugly blur.  Not ugly, a small voice chirped in his mind.  She could never be ugly.  With an anguished sigh, he took his hand from his nose and pressed it over his eyes, leaning his head onto the back of the couch again.  He didn't even notice when his cushion dipped to one side again, softer this time.

"Harry...isn't it obvious why I didn't want to tell you?  I mean...look at the way you're reacting to the news.  It's not exactly what I was hoping for, as you can imagine..."

Harry let his hand drop, closing his eyes.  "Of course.  You wanted to let me down more easily.  I understand.  I just...I thought you'd tell me, no matter what...we're still friends, right?"

He snuck a glance at Hermione.  To his surprise, she looked absolutely baffled.

"Harry...what on earth are you on about?"

Harry blinked a little, lifting his head from the couch.  His anguish was now giving way to confusion and something he couldn't place, something quite unlike the lead weight that seemed to jump to his throat.  He stared at her, though she was only a fuzzy outline.  "Weren't...aren't you angry with me for not noticing?"

Hermione frowned.  "Harry...I did want you to notice something...but I don't think you came to the correct conclusion as to what it was...just what did you think I wanted you to notice?"

Harry gaped at her, heart pounding wildly - was this hope he was feeling?  "I thought - you have a boyfriend.  ...Don't you?"

It was Hermione's turn to gape.  "Are you insane?  Of course I haven't got a boyfriend!"

Harry's eyes went wide, his mouth slack-jawed and hanging.  Even though Hermione seemed to be just a flurry of round lines and blurry brown fluff at the moment, she was close enough that Harry could see that she was indeed now looking at him as if he'd just grown another head.  "Wah – I - Er, well, Ron said you were a mossy Snorkack in mating season, and I..."

He couldn't see Hermione's eyes very clearly, but he had a feeling she was blinking at him.

"Harry...I don't know what Ron told you, but either he was as deluded as you, or you interpreted his statement incorrectly.  Honestly, he spends too much time with Luna these days..."

Harry squirmed, dying to get to the bottom of this and hear more about the part where she didn't have a boyfriend.  "So...so what was I supposed to have noticed?"

Harry wasn't sure, but he thought Hermione went extremely red.

"Well...I...Harry, haven't you ever wondered just why I've never really had a boyfriend?"

"...Lack of motivation to enter the world of voluntary social interaction?" 

Hermione laughed slightly.  "Well, that's part of it - but...it's also because...well...I want to enter the world of voluntary social interaction with you, Harry.  That's what I wanted you to notice...that...that I like you."

That statement seemed to be the Godric Gryffindor sword to his basilisk of a lead weight.  His anguish had completely given way to hope, and hope had completely given way to utter relief and light-headedness.  Not taking the time to come back into himself even slightly, he darted forward towards the rose colored blurs that were Hermione's lips. 

...And promptly bonked her nose with his.

"Owww, Harry!" Hermione wailed. 

He blushed furiously and backed away.  "I'm sorry, Hermione, I didn't mean to - I wasn't trying to attack you with my nose or anything -"

Hermione started to giggle, making him blush even more (and wonder when she'd learned to giggle).  How useless could he possibly be?  He couldn't even kiss a girl properly...and she wanted him?

"Oh, Harry, you silly thing, come back over here and kiss my properly this time."

Harry, now grinning broadly and putting the deep flush still creeping up his neck out of his mind, nodded and made to put his glasses back on.  He paused and raised an eyebrow to Hermione when he felt her hand on his, stopping his glasses halfway to his nose. Though he continued to look at her quizzically, she didn't say anything, and simply took his glasses gently from his hand, folded them up, and set them on the table. 

"You know what they say..."  She spoke softly, though her voice sounded thick from lack of breath and much closer than before. "If you want something done right...do it yourself."

And, for what felt like the thousandth time that night, Harry was saved from any further comment by Hermione tilting his head carefully to one side and closing the gap between them – with considerably better aim than he had.

Harry didn't really have a clue what he was doing, but Hermione seemed to.  She was kissing him with the same steady determination that she used when writing an essay or attempting to save the house-elves.  She was making it very difficult for him to focus on any one thing.  He noted that her lips were softer than he'd ever imagined, and it seemed as though they were made specially to fit his...and perhaps it was true, after all, that she was meant to be his and his alone - because he would always be hers, and hers alone.

These revelations, which, once more, didn't seem to hit him as much as choose the most opportune moments to make themselves known, started to fade in and out of his thoughts as the kiss dragged on.  ...And on.  …And on.  Soon her hands were away from his face and curling around his shoulders (she had shifted slightly to her knees on the cushion next to his to give herself a bit more height), and he was only vaguely aware that the hair at the back of his neck was being tugged at.  He returned the favors almost unconsciously as his own hands found their way to the small of her back.  Harry was quite sure that they had been sitting like this for at least most of the evening, because when they finally heard a little sound from the direction of the staircases (hem, hem), they sprung apart rather abruptly to wake up to a fire that was nearly out, and a rather frazzled looking Luna Lovegood who was looking dreamily back at them from the bottom of the boys' staircase, seeming quite pleased with herself indeed.

"Oh yes." She said in a tone that was as smug as Luna could ever achieve.  "One can always tell when it is mating season."