Spoilers: Order of the Phoenix
This story is suitable for all ages.
Disclaimer: This story, and any content relating to the Harry Potter franchise is not authorized by J.K. Rowling,
or Scholastic Press. I own my computer ... Can I have Harry and Hermione instead?
Read the story in the author's intended format
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Author's NoteThis is a one shot.
"It's almost time."
Hermione Granger sat in one of two squashy armchairs close to the fireplace in the heart of the Gryffindor Common Room wringing her hands in worry.
Her eyes were red and puffy from the steady flow of tears she had been shedding for the last two hours.
Her shoulders twitched and her eyes tracked to the voice calling out to her.
"I have to go, Hermione."
Her chest hurt from a too long held breath until at last it expelled from her mouth with sudden force. "Harry, wait."
She was up and two steps were taken before she was in his arms. Once again her body was wracked with sob upon sob, anguish at watching her closest friend prepare to leave her behind to go and face the Dark Lord all by himself.
"Shhh," he whispered into her hair as he petted her back with loving care.
"I don't -- I don't want you to go."
Harry squeezed her tighter. "I'm doing this for you, Hermione." He took a deep breath and let it go. "I'm doing this for the Weasleys and for all of our friends."
She sniffed loudly. "You can't die on me, Harry. You have to promise me."
She felt the muscles in his back tense.
"I can't promise …"
She pushed away from him with force. "You will promise me Harry Potter!"
His eyes shut briefly in silent resignation.
"I can't make that promise, Hermione."
Her face became increasingly more and more red as tears flooded her eyes. "Why … why can't you at least lie to me?"
Harry's lips thinned almost into a slight smile. "I've never lied to you. The risk is too great and I'm not sure I have the edge I need to walk away from this battle."
He turned away and proceeded to the portrait hole. Sensing her last chance Hermione called out one final time.
"I love you, Harry."
His forward movement stopped and his shoulders squared, but he didn't turn around.
"Did you hear me?"
Hermione moved forward inch by inch.
"I said I love you, Harry Potter, and I want you to come back to me."
Her hand reached out and lay upon his shoulder. "I need you to come back to me, otherwise everything we've been through will mean nothing."
Harry stood stock still not showing any sign of having heard a word she said.
"I know this is pretty bad timing -- telling you this right before you leave, but I couldn't let you go without saying what is in my heart."
She eyed him for some sign, some bit of movement that indicated … anything.
"Over the last few years I've seen you change, Harry, change from being a courageous boy that always wants to help his friends to a confident man that wants to save the world. I've fallen in love with that man."
She squeezed his shoulder softly.
"I've fallen for you, Harry, and I can't live without you in my life. If that means you don't love me anymore than as a friend then I can accept that, but I still need you to be a part of my life.
"So when you go out there tonight and you face him, I want you to think about me sitting here waiting for you. I'll have a cup of hot chocolate and maybe a treacle tart or two ready. We can sit by the fire and you can regale me with the details. You can … you can …"
Hermione's jaw set as she was getting no reaction from the man she just poured her hearts deepest secret. Moving slowly around to get a look at his face she witnessed free-flowing tears trailing from his sparkling eyes and a funny smile growing wider and wider when he saw her.
He sniffed abruptly and cleared his throat rather loudly.
"Could you … say it again?"
She wiped at her face with the heel of her hand and stood stalwart and proud. "I love you, Harry."
He rolled his eyes up and his lips spread into a wide grin. "I thought I was imagining it."
His breath rolled out into an abrupt but heartfelt laugh. "No one's ever told me that before."
Without a second thought she replied. "It's real, Harry. I'm real and what I'm saying is real -- I love you."
She saw movement out of the corner of her eyes and watched as his hand moved to the side of her face. Her eyes closed as she felt the barest of touches, the tips of his fingers trailing down her face to the nape of her neck where she felt Harry pull her close and brush his lips against hers almost feather light.
"You've given me a reason … you've given me my edge."
His eyes opened and he smiled down at her.
"I'll come back to you, Hermione. I promise."