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Chapter Ten-

That Thing Called Love

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"Harry, wait!" Hermione cried, stumbling from the café door, tears streaming down her cheeks. A cold wind whipped across her exposed skin, catching her cloak and twisting it about her legs. She frantically looked up and down the street, searching for the man she loved above all else. Then she saw him, at the end of the street, turning into the next.

She took off after him, her cloak and hair trailing behind her, caught in the wind. People stared as she passed them, but she didn't care. She had to catch Harry and tell him that the kiss meant nothing. That there was nothing between Daniel and her, and there never would be. She had to tell him that she loved him.

Finally, after what felt like an eternity, she reached the corner. Her lungs were stinging from the harsh, cold air that she struggled to gasp in. Her heart was beating frantically, painfully, in her chest, wanting release; wanting Harry.

"Where is he?" she whispered with a distressed voice, ignoring everything else except her desperate need to find him. Harry. Oh, how she wished she could take back the last few minutes. She wished she had never left him that morning. She should have stayed in bed with him, enjoying the warmth that radiated from his entire being. She should have stayed, as he had wanted her to.

But now…. Now he was gone. Gone because of a stupid kiss that meant nothing. It meant nothing, when Harry meant the world to her. He was her pillar of strength, her comforting pillow. Her hero.

And as the cold wind whistled up the damp road, and clouds began rolling in from the south, he was gone. She had been alone for three years, and now she was alone again. And all because of something that was so small, so insignificant compared to her feelings for Harry.

She wished she could see him if only to say she was sorry. She had to tell him – make him know – that the kiss was nothing. It had been a complete mistake and that Daniel meant nothing to her. She wanted to tell him that she loved him. She needed to tell him.

She looked down the street to find it bare and cold, with trees arching under the force of the wind, and leaves rattling along the footpaths. Harry wasn't there. And now she was alone.

"Harry," she sobbed, closing her eyes against the wind. The tears left warm, shining tracks upon her cheeks, before they too disappeared. She hoped that when she opened her eyes, they would see the startling emerald of his eyes.

No such luck.

All she saw was the deserted length of Rosebud Lane. She didn't see the tall, strong form of Harry Potter, strolling towards her, wearing that silly, lopsided grin. He was gone.

"I'm sorry," she sobbed, sliding back down against the wooden fence surrounding the local school. The ground was wet, and her pants were immediately soaked. She didn't care. Her hands went to her face, shaking and cold. They felt like ice as they covered her face.

And she cried.

She cried with all her heart. She cried for every hurt, every pain that had touched her. She cried until her eyes were sore, red and puffy. She cried until there were no tears left to fall.

And she was still alone.

Heart wrenching sobs escaped her mouth, and she dissolved into the pain of a broken soul.

Harry …

I'm so sorry!

Harry …

Please forgive me!

Harry …

"I l-love y-you…" her words, so soft and broken, were carried on the wind, until they too, were gone.

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It was cold and the dark clouds above threatened rain. The road was bare except for the whispering wind, speaking in own ancient language as it slid across his skin. Branches rustled in the trees, their tops bent under the force of the gusts. Leaves scattered up and down the hard, merciless ground, crunching beneath his feet as he kept walking.

Hermione …

How could you do that? After everything we have – had – how could you kiss another man? How could you throw everything away?

A painful growl escaped his lips as he kicked at an empty drink can, and spun around, to walk back the other way.

Hermione …

You said there was no one else. You said that you loved me, that I was yours … forever.

"Who was he?" Harry mumbled under his breath, unconcealed anger laced in every word. He turned again, retracing his previous steps.

Hermione …

I loved you – I still do! Then why did you do this to me?

Harry had thought Hermione was the only one he could rely on. That she was the only one that would be there for him, through thick and thin. She had always been the one to help him, no matter what.

He had trusted her, relied on her to always be there for him.

He had been stupid.

How could he just presume that Hermione would always wait for him? After all that he did to her. He left her for-Merlin's-sake! He left her alone right after Hogwarts ended; she was lost and confused – and without him. He had just left her when she needed him most – for three whole years!

And now he had come back, expecting to find the old, reliable Hermione, waiting for him. He didn't even think that she had made another life for herself. He hadn't even thought of the possibility that she was happy without him.

But was she happy?

She hadn't seemed it when he had returned, less than a week ago. She had been a wreck, but with good reason. And hadn't she collapsed when faced with the possibility of him being back for good? She had collapsed, with either overwhelming joy – or grief. Whatever the reason, Harry had been careless and selfish to just come back wanting her to love him as she used to do.

He had been so wrong.

With a frustrated growl, he spun around, dead leaves crunching beneath his feet. He had to find her.

Hermione …

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Silence reigned but the tears still fell. She was all out of sobs to voice, and her throat was sore from the constant cries. So she jut sat in the cold, as the first drops of rain started to fall, lost in thoughts of heartache and pain and endless regret.

She sat huddled against the damp, wooden fence, her body covered in goose bumps from the icy wind. She didn't care that she could catch pneumonia or a terrible cold. Or that she could die from a shattered heart.

She didn't care anymore.

Three years without Harry to help her, and tell her that everything was all right – and it hadn't even been half an hour with him gone and she was ready to give up.

That was how much she depended on him.

That was how much she loved him.

And now he was gone …

"Hermione?"

The voice was so soft she could have mistaken it for the whispering wind. But, she would know that voice anywhere at anytime. And through her damp eyelashes and over her tear-streaked cheeks, she looked up into the face of Harry Potter. Her Harry.

The silence was tense and uncomfortable. Nothing moved except the falling rain and the wind touching their wet clothes. They just stared into one another's eyes, looking deep into the pain, love … and regret?

Unable to keep hold of the strong emotion inside, Hermione started sobbing. Tears coursed down her cheeks, mingling with the rain as she kept stuttering out, "I'm s-sorry!"

The world was spinning, giving her flashes of broken images, fading sounds and the colour green. All she could hear was her beating heart and loud sobs. And all she could feel was the biting cold, tearing into her flesh as a harsh reminder of her dire mistakes.

"Hermione," the voice was closer, louder, and even more familiar. It was touched with concern and even desperation. She wondered why it sounded so sad.

Why is he so sad? He should be angry, and far away from this town – from me. Why is he still here?

"I-I'm so-sorry!" she said tearfully, pulling her knees up under her chin, and burying her face against the wet material of her jeans. She could hear the raindrops hitting the pavement, and feel the wetness soak through her entire body. "I'm sorry," she whispered into her arms. "I'm so s-sorry."

There was no answer except that of the splattering rain. He was gone … she knew it. He had finally left her, as he had done three years ago, for good. He wasn't coming back. He was gone …

Something touched the back of her head. She flinched away. She heard shuffling beside her then the telltale signs of someone sitting down. She could feel the soft warmth of another body beside her own and she shivered. An arm was draped around her shoulders and she heard a deep sigh through the splattering rain.

Harry pulled her closer. "I'm sorry."

The words shook her very being. Her head snapped up and eyes went to those of Harry's. Emerald. They were filled with sorrow and pain. Endless pain. Nameless pain. Pain only he could carry and comprehend.

"W-what?" she stammered, her lips shaking from both the cold and the tears. He looked down and she noticed his shoulders drooping.

"For everything. I left you, then came back and expected you to just, I don't know … welcome me back with open arms. I didn't even consider the fact that you might have had so-somebody here … instead of me." He said it with such loss and regret, that Hermione wanted to grab him and shake some sense into him. He looked up at her and she saw that his eyes were shining with unshed tears.

The idea was so ridiculous that it was almost offending. She gaped at him, eyes wide, and disbelief playing on every feature of her face. He stared at her with confusion.

"What are you t-talking about?" she said after a while, her voice cracking slightly. Harry shifted and flicked a leaf from his arm, before looking at her with eyes wide in puzzlement.

"Before, I came to take you out for lunch, and I saw you ki-kissing a man in that café!" He said in a loud voice. Hermione winced but stood her ground.

"That was Daniel Moore, my publicist. And if you had looked a little harder, you would have seen me push him away!" she cried wildly, eyes flashing. Harry gave her a strange look.

"You pushed him away?" he said softly.

"Yes!" Hermione cried loudly. "I thought you saw that!"

"No. When I spotted you kissing him, I sort of looked away for a second, and then when I looked back, you both were staring at me. Then I fled." Harry seemed to be embarrassed, because after each word his face grew steadily redder. There was a thick silence. "You really pushed him away?"

Hermione sighed and let out a weird chuckle, as tears kept running down her face. "Yes."

Harry looked at her before sighing. "I am such a prat!" he said loudly, flinging his head back to hit it against the fence. Hermione was still confused as to what was happening. Was everything okay now? Was Harry going to stay?

"Hermione, will you forgive me?" Harry asked her, looking down into her eyes. She rocked back, in shock.

"Me? Forgive you?" she stammered. "Whatever for?"

"For being a complete arse! For leaving you and presuming that, you would wait for me. No matter what."

"But I did wait for you remember? A whole three years of waiting. And I should be apologizing to you… I shouldn't have let Daniel kiss me, I should have been more prepared, and I should have –" she couldn't speak any more as her lips were otherwise occupied. Harry was kissing her. Deeply, passionately … perfectly.

The rain continued to fall, as did her tears. But they were not of regret – they were tears of happiness. Not long after, they pulled apart, dripping wet and painfully cold.

They didn't care. They looked at each other, staring into the others eyes. "I'm sorry." They said it together. Hermione smiled and looked down, fiddling with the hem of Harry's sweater. When she looked up, she looked up into the beautiful face of Harry Potter, his eyes no longer haunted with shattered memories, but shining with pure joy.

Hermione felt her insides swell and heart skip a few beats. Harry was looking at her with that look – full of love and joy. And it made her want to scream with pride, knowing that she was the cause of his happiness. And the cause of that love.

Harry had grown up without care and affection. He had been placed in a loveless home, where he grew up thinking he would always be alone and unwanted. Even through Hogwarts, he was lost and couldn't find a place to fit in. He was always searching for some distant place and unknown feeling. Something had been missing inside him; a gaping hole, threatening to swallow him completely.

He tried to fill it with friends, Quidditch and even schoolwork. He kept looking for something he had no recollection of, no experience with. He was searching for some nameless feeling, an indescribable place where he would be accepted and welcomed without question.

He searched but could never find that one feeling and that one place where he could just be himself. He wanted to be loved, and wanted to find a place he could call home. But no matter how hard he looked, he never found it.

Hermione reached up and placed a hand on his chin. He looked down at her in mild confusion. She smiled and kissed him lightly on the lips. "I love you."

Harry's face lit up immediately and the shadow in his eyes disappeared. "I love you too."

They started to walk back to number Two Rosebud Lane, hand in hand, with Hermione resting her head on Harry's shoulder. They walked slowly in the rain, watching the drops of water, fall from the sky like tiny diamonds, to shatter on the hard ground into a million crystal pieces.

They turned into the slippery pathway leading to Hermione's front door. Crookshanks was sitting on the front porch, his tail swinging behind him in irritation. Hermione smiled at the ginger feline before pushing open the door, sighing when a great wave of warmth washed over them.

They hurried inside, laughing as Crookshanks shot passed them into the Lounge Room and the crackling fire. Hermione quickly stripped out of her soaking sweater, shoes and socks, and with shaking feet, stumbled into the warm Lounge. But, as she passed through the high arch, Harry at her back, she froze.

Across the room, sitting on the back of her armchair, was an owl. But not just any owl. It was Pigwideon – and he had two letters clamped in his small talons.

Harry walked passed her, a blank look on his face. Hermione placed a hand on his arm, to get him to stop. With a worried frown, she started forward, greeting the tiny bird with a soft pat. It hooted delicately, dropping the letters into her hands, before flying over to Harry. Hermione looked down at the white envelopes, gold, loopy writing on each – one for Harry and one for her. It was slightly smudged from the rain, but could still be read.

With shaking hands, Hermione ripped open the top of her own letter, feeling Harry at her back. A sheet of fancy, gold-lined paper fell out into her hands. She unfolded it with care, her curiosity and anxiety rising. When she saw what it was she was holding, she could have fainted.

It was a wedding invitation.

To the wedding of Ron Weasley and Luna Lovegood.

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Disclaimer I do not own Harry Potter and never will.

So…

This was the last chapter. The last chapter of Behind the Eyes of the Hero. Thanks to everyone who has reviewed and read this story, I can't thank you enough for your kind words.

The sequel to this story will be called: My Brother, My Hero.

The first chapter should be out next week or the week after. Depends on how it wants to be written, lol. I thought that was an all right ending, I've been thinking about it for a while, and decided that was the best way to write it.

I hope you liked this story as much as I enjoyed writing it. Stay tuned for the sequel: My Brother, My Hero.

Thanks again, I love you all!

Yan'weh thanks for Beta-ing.

DW