AN-Song is "I Gotta Know Tonight" By Darius.

-----

I feel vulnerable, I'm scared...
I hang on every word like
Like there's a hidden meaning.

Harry sat in the common room slumped into his seat and staring blankly into the fire. On the table in front of him was the potions homework he was meant to be doing, but, once again, he was ignoring it, pre-occupied by thoughts. He didn't see Ron approaching him. The tall red-headed boy stood staring at him before he spoke.

"Come on, Harry! Snape'll kill you if you don't hand in anymore homework. What's gotten into you recently? Where's Hermione when you need her?" He mumbled, more to himself, as he sat down and got his own homework out.

Harry still didn't answer. He still couldn't believe he had let these thoughts into his head. She was his best friend. What had happened? Things were normal...then it suddenly hit him. He had been flirting with her. And he still couldn't decide if she had been flirting back.

---

The previous night, Hermione had skipped up to Harry after transfiguration, and he noticed she was giggling.

"Hermione...?"

"Meet me in the common room in ten minutes!" She whispered into his ear and skipped off. He just stared at her, totally confused. When he finally reached the common room, he sat in his usual seat by the fire. Slightly later than promised, Hermione came back down with what appeared to be sheets of parchment and quills.

"Hermione...if you're just trying to get me to revise..." Harry started.

"Oh don't be silly! This is fun!"

"Fun?"

Hermione laid down a handful of parchment on the table, with a quill. It looked strange though, the feather was a sort of inky metallic blue, and it seemed to shine when the light hit it. It was also much softer than his own quill. She had one too, but hers was deep purple.

"Hermione...?" Harry was still confused.

"I can't stop; I need to speak to someone. You take them back to your dorm." She said, re-gathering her own parchment and quill.

"Hermione!" He called, exasperated, as she ran back up to the girls dorms. Sighing, he picked up the strange parchment and quill and made his way back to his own dorm."

As he walked in, Dean and Seamus were trying to explain something to Neville and Ron. This happened a lot. It was either something strange that they pretended was a "muggle tradition"...to confuse Neville, and then to tell them it's a joke, or a complicated game. Harry shuffled over to his bed and slipped the parchment and quill under his pillow. As he searched through his trunk for clothes to get changed into, he couldn't help but over hearing the conversation.

"...it's true! When I went to Scotland I saw them!"

"Nonsense." Ron said, shuffling nervously.

"My gran says that they don't exist."

"Yeah...but it's the same both ways. Like muggles can't see a lot of the things we see. The Knight Bus, for example. Well, it works the same. We can't see everything they see!" Seamus said, looking very informative.

"That's stupid, Seamus." Ron said, chucking a pillow at him.

Harry watched as Neville chucked one at Dean, and, before long, it became a full-blown pillow war.

"Come on, Harry, help us out!"

About an hour and one burst pillow later, they collapsed on their beds. There were feathers everywhere. Pillow fights were common in the dorm, but they hadn't had one for months previously. Sometimes, in the dead of night, proper full scale wars took place, in the common room, boys against girls, from first years to seventh years. But they were a bi-annual type thing.

Harry soon forgot about the parchment, and the normal dorm routine continued. At about 11pm, they started to settle down to sleep, and by 12 the room was silent. Ron's soft snores confirmed that they were asleep. Harry was drifting off himself, and he rolled over. As he rolled, he heard a crumple, and suddenly remembered the parchment. He opened the curtains on his bed slightly to let in the moonlight. He took out the parchment, and was surprised to see a message on the front, written in purple ink.

"Hey Harry! It's Hermione. You can write back to me on here! Try it!"

He was still confused. The parchment was blank when he brought it up, he was sure of it. Suddenly, something snapped into his mind. Tom Riddle's diary in second year. A little scared, he lifted the quill and wrote back.

"What have you done?" he scratched just underneath it.

"Finally! I thought you'd never reply! Well, I was thinking about the diary last night, you know, Tom Riddle's. And I was mucking about with some spells in the library and came up with this!" Appeared below his own question. Nothing had faded into the page, as Tom's had done; they were still sitting on the paper. Aah, he thought. That's why there's so much parchment."

They continued chatting all night, about general stuff. Harry couldn't help but get excited when he saw a new message, especially if it was a long one, full of information. He had soon used up about half of the parchment Hermione had given him.

It caught me unprepared...
Now I'm climbing up the wall
That stands between us.

He wasn't sure why he done it. It just felt so...right. And talking through the paper seemed somewhat anonymous, even though he knew that it was Hermione, sitting in the girls' dorm not too far away from him.

He scribbled down on a new sheet.

"I love this! This is amazing, you are amazing. I love you!" Harry wrote, suddenly wishing he hadn't. What if she took it the wrong way?

"Oooh, Mr Potter. I love you too!" Came the reply. Harry stared at it. This wasn't sounding like Hermione.

"Are you feeling okay? That didn't sound like you." He said, cursing himself for not being able to think of better words.

"Well...we found a large bottle of firewhiskey hidden under Ginny's bed, and decided to celebrate! Shame you couldn't come over and...join in the party."

Harry just stared at it. Hermione? Drinking? Okay, he knew she drank sometimes at dorm parties, but this was just the four girls, and a large firewhiskey bottle is a lot of alcohol. He glanced at Ron, who was still snoring. He'd kill Ginny if he found out she was drinking that much. He looked back at the parchment. He was still a little giddy himself from the pillow fight, so decided to play along with it.

Ten minutes later, there was a soft knock at the door. Heart leaping, he leapt up to answer it. It couldn't be it?

It was Ginny. A very drunk Ginny. She was holding a small bottle of firewhiskey.

"Heeeey Haaarrry!" She whispered loudly. "Thisss is from 'Mione." She blinked. "She said you might want some and we found this and wondered if you might want some so I'm here giving you this."

"Um...thanks." He said, taking it. Partly because he didn't think Ginny should be drinking anymore, and partly because he was getting a bit nervous himself.

"Did you get my little present?" Asked Hermione.

"I did indeed. Thank you very much! I love you!" He wrote, taking a sip.

"That's good. Ooh, do you mean love me as just a friend? Just a friend?"

"I love you so much Hermione! You've gotta know that!"

"What do you love about me?!?!"

"I love your smile...and your hair...and your laugh..."

"Oooh, POTTER's got a cruuuush!"

"I do not!"

"It's okay. I've fancied you since second year anyway."

He stared at it. Half of his own firewhiskey was gone, and he was feeling a bit tipsy, but she had had much more than him.

"Have you?"

"Mmmhmm. Oooh I wish you were in my room right now!"

"Hermione...maybe you've had a bit much to drink."

"No! I want you here to cuddle me because I'm cold!"

"Oh god, look at the time. It's after three!"

"Oooh...you better not keep me up all night boy!

"I'm going to go to sleep now, Hermione. I'm so tired."

"Don't leeeeave me!"

"Night, Hermione! xx"

"Nighty night xxxxxxx"

He sighed and put the wad of parchment in the drawer in his bedside cabinet. He finished the last sip of firewhiskey and hid the bottle in the drawer also. Shattered, he closed the curtain and laid his head down.

I keep hoping it's my
imagination,
Playing tricks with my heart
On this occasion,
I've just got this sinking
feeling

The next morning, Harry woke up and yawned. He sat up in his bed and stretched his arms out, thinking about breakfast. Rolling out of bed, he rummaged in his trunk for his clothes. He turned to Ron, who was cursing at his schoolbag.

"God, that bloody...god. Where is Hermione when you need her? Eh?"

"What have you lost..." Harry started to ask, but faded away when he remembered Hermione. Last night. He dived into the drawer and pulled out the parchment. The writing was still on it. He skimmed at some of the pages.

"God, did I really say that?...Oh my god..." He murmured to himself.

"Say what?" Seamus asked, pulling on his socks.

"Oh, never mind." Harry said, stuffing it back in the drawer.

They soon made their way to the great hall for breakfast and sat at the Gryffindor table. He couldn't see Hermione anywhere. He grabbed some toast and some bacon and listened as Ron was moaning about Snape.

Five minutes before breakfast ended, Hermione, Lavender and Ginny came stumbling into the hall looking bleary-eyed. Hermione looked the worst out of the three, and her hair was everywhere.

"Wow, Hermione!" Ron exclaimed as she sat down opposite him and put her head on the table. "What were you up to last night?"

A loud groan was head from Hermione. Lavender looked at her sympathetically and poured her a coffee.

"Come on, drink some of this. It'll help." She smiled, and Hermione lifted her head and took a sip. She seemed momentarily satiated, before her eyes met Harry's and a look of fear crossed her.

"I think I'm going to be sick." She said, looking at the bowl of bacon and darting out of the room, hand covering her mouth.

Ron just looked at Ginny, waiting for an explanation.

"Oh shut up." She said, sipping her own coffee.

So whose gonna drown
Now the dams about to break?
Tell me if it's me
I gotta know...
I'm strong enough to tell you
That it's more than I can take -
I'm just hanging by a thread,
Gotta feeling I'm in over my head,
Can't wait until tomorrow...
Gotta know tonight.

But, Hermione being Hermione, she sat through all her classes that day, her face tinged green. Harry noticed her eyes zoning out a few times. He tried to talk to her, but she seemed to be ignoring him, and in some classes, she sat at Ron's side, instead of sitting in the middle of the two of them as she usually did. He felt terrible, he'd hate to have hurt her and not know it. He felt even worse because he meant some of the things he had said. He did love her. In fact, he loved her as more than a friend. But he definitely wasn't planning on telling her that, let alone through drunken messages.

He walked into the common room that evening after revising in the library. It had been a little disconcerting to not see Hermione in there after classes. He found her in the common room, sitting in his chair, curled up tightly.

"Hermione..." He said softly, approaching her. Her head snapped up to look at him. There were tear stains down her cheeks, and her face was red and blotchy. Her eyes were puffy. Embarrassed, she turned and buried her head back into the sofa, hugging her knees.

"Hermione, please talk to me."

He saw her shoulders shaking slightly. He put his face in his hands. What was he supposed to do? He reached his hand to her shoulder, but she batted him away and darted up to her dormitory. He fell into the seat and gazed into the fire. He did that often when he was in a difficult situation. It probably had something to do with Sirius, and the comfort he got with chats through the fire with him. It had become habit now. He could still see Hermione's eyes, looking up at him with an expression he could not name. A strange mixture of confusion, embarrassment, hatred, pity, regret...sadness...he didn't know. Her eyes were usually so bright, warm and...amazing. But they had been grey and empty, beyond the reddish, puffy exterior.

I feel naked in your eyes
I'm so outta control feels like
I'm freewheeling
Are we running out of time?
I gotta find a way
To stop this feeling...

A few hours later, as he was finishing his potions homework, Ron came down the stairs and stood beside his chair.

"What's up with you and Hermione. What have you said?" He demanded.

"I...I really don't know."

"It must be something. She's been acting strange about you all day."

"It's nothing. I don't know...girl stuff I guess."

"Well...make up with her, will you?"

"Yeah." Harry sighed, staring into the fire.

"Come on, Harry! Snape'll kill you if you don't hand in anymore homework. What's gotten into you recently? Where's Hermione when you need her?" He mumbled, more to himself, as he sat down and got his own homework out.

Harry still didn't answer. He still couldn't believe he had let these thoughts into his head. She was his best friend. What had happened? Things were normal...then it suddenly hit him. He had been flirting with her. And he still couldn't decide if she had been flirting back.

"Coming up?" Harry asked.

Ron sighed and nodded and gathered his stuff together and followed him upstairs. They got ready for bed. Harry opened the drawer slowly and took out the parchment. He just had to read it again. He got to the last page, and there was a new message.

"I'm sorry, Harry."

She must have sent it just then. He wasn't going to answer at first, but he picked up the quill.

"For what?" He knew "for what", but he just didn't know what else to say to her.

"For everything. I shouldn't have said all that, least not...like that. I...I didn't plan on getting drunk last night, Harry. I just thought we'd chat normally, but then there was the firewhiskey and...god I feel terrible." Came the reply.

"It's okay."


"And I'm sorry for ignoring you, Harry."

"It's okay."

"Thanks! You're a star!"

He smiled as he read this. That was Hermione for you. She'd get "Moments", but always come round in the end. He just hated it that this time he happened to be part of the "Moment", instead of it just being a fall-out with Lavender.

I keep hoping it's my
imagination,
Playing tricks with my heart
On this occasion,
I've just got this sinking
feeling

The next afternoon, Saturday, Harry was sitting in the library revising, when Ginny marched in.

"What the hell do you think you are doing?" She demanded.

"What?"

"With Hermione."

"We made up, it's fine now." He said, looking back to his book.

"I don't mean about...oh god, are you that stupid?" She said, taking a seat opposite him.

"What have I done?"

"Do you really know why you upset her so much?" She asked.

"Umm...well, no, not really. I just thought she was, I dunno, embarassed..." He stammered.

"Harry. What she said was true. I seen the parchment. It's all true. That's why she's been ignoring you, that's why she's embarassed."

"What do you mean? What's true?"

"My god, you ARE stupid. Look, figure it out for yourself. I'm sick of this. Please, for my own sanity, figure it out soon, will you?" She said, getting up to leave.

This was starting to annoy him. He put his books away and walked out to the great hall for lunch. Ron was already at the table, beginning to fill his plate. Harry walked over and sat beside him, sighing deeply.

"What's up with you, mate?" Ron said, through a mouthful of bread.

"What's up with girls?" Harry sighed as he reached for a sandwich.

"Amen." Ron said, by way of answer, taking another bite.

---

He hadn't seen Hermione all day. He passed Ginny a few times, but she just quickly marched by him and immersed herself in a group of girls every time he got anywhere near her. Hermione wasn't at dinner either.

So whose gonna drown
Now the dams about to break?
Tell me if it's me
I gotta know...
I'm strong enough to tell you
That it's more than I can take -
I'm just hanging by a thread,
Gotta feeling I'm in over my head,
Can't wait until tomorrow...
Gotta know tonight.

He didn't know where he stood. First Hermione appeared to hate him, then she was friends with him again, then Ginny was confusing him. He had no idea what was going on. He raced up to the dorm and grabbed the parchment from the drawer. Falling onto the bed, he started reading. Page by page. No...it couldn't be...what did Ginny mean? That all the flirting...all the suggestive comments...all the "I love you"'s...no. That's silly. Then again...he trusted Ginny, she wouldn't just say something like that...but then again, what did she say? He was still very confused. Grabbing for the quill, he took a deep breath and scribbled a note to Hermione.

"What's going on? What was Ginny talking about, Hermione? I hate being confused."

Not too long later, a reply came.

"No! I told her not to say anything to you! Oh I'm so sorry, Harry. You shouldn't have found out like this...you shouldn't have found out at all, actually. It's silly...and I know you don't love me back...and...oh please don't let this ruin our friendship."

He just stared at it. Did that mean...did it mean she...she loved him?

"Hermione, what are you saying? Ginny didn't really go into much detail..."

"Oh crap. I mean...umm...oh god..."

"Hermione, it's ok." Was all he said. There was no reply. This had just smacked right into his head at full force. She loves me. His stomach flipped. He, too, had meant every word he said. He loved Hermione, more than Ron knew he did. Ron knew he had a crush on her in second year...but he didn't know it still existed, in their sixth year. He loved her, but he'd never dream of admitting it to anyone, he could barely admit it to himself. He was just terrified to lose the closeness they had as friends.

Now this had happened.

Sighing, he went down to the common room to find Ron and perhaps have a game of wizard's chess to take his mind off things. As he was walking down the staircase, he heard raised voices. Hermione was standing in front of Ginny, and she seemed angry. Ginny was trying to calm her down.

"'Hermione, it's ok.' 'Hermione, it's ok.' What the HELL is that supposed to mean? Ginny! How could you have told him! NO, but you didn't, did you. I did because I thought you did and...AAAARGH." She flung herself on the couch. Harry sat on the stair, just out of sight. He couldn't believe what he was hearing.

"Ginny, he knows. He knows I love him. This is terrible. He'll never speak to me again. I've lost my best friend. Oh god. I love him." She started sobbing.

Cos when you pull back the covers,
Its one way or the other,
Oh yeah,
It's getting closer to midnight -
I gotta go,
Can't wait until tomorrow...
I gotta know -

He ran upstairs to the parchment. He knew she wouldn't be back yet, but he had to write it now.

"Hermione. I love you. I...I don't know why I haven't said it before. I love you. I hate the thought of hurting you. I...I know this is a long shot. I'll be in the astronomy tower tonight at about 11. Meet me there. We can talk...properly, and privately. I know that Ginny (and no doubt Lavender) has seen these parchments."

Adrenaline pumping through his veins, he put the parchment down and, with shaking hands, reached for some homework to read through. He couldn't concentrate. He kept checking the parchment for a reply, but none came. What if she didn't get it in time and they missed each other?

So whose gonna drown
Now the dams about to break?
Tell me if it's me
I gotta know...
I'm strong enough to tell you
That it's more than I can take -
I'm just hanging by a thread,
Gotta feeling I'm in over my head,
Can't wait until tomorrow...
Gotta know tonight.

At about ten fifteen, he couldn't wait any longer, and, besides, he didn't want to bump into her on the way there. He practically sprinted up to the astronomy tower. Breathless, he sat down and leaned against the brick wall. Time soon passed. It was ten past eleven. Oh great, she's not coming. He said, and he screwed up his eyes. How could he have been so stupid? He must have misinterpreted something somewhere along the line. He sat with his eyes shut, trying to steady himself. His breath caught in his throat when suddenly there was someone right in front of him...right in front of him. There were lips pressed against his lips, soft lips...lips he had longed to taste for a long time. He didn't want to open his eyes, but they sprang open, his breath caught in his throat as his eyes confirmed that it was Hermione that was kissing him. He smiled as he hungrily returned the kiss, kissing her deeper as her arms snaked around his neck. She twisted round to sit in his lap more comfortably. She smiled as she pulled away. Her arms still hung around his neck. She smiled at him, he could see her eyes were glistening with old tears. He raised his hand and cupped her cheek, she just grinned at him. There were no words. He had called her here to talk, but there was nothing to say now. Everything was perfect. He leaned over and kissed her again, and he was sure he felt his heart skip a beat.