Title: Kissing Lessons for the Beginner

Author: Amethyst

Author E-mail: amethystjackson at hotmail dot com

Category: Romance/Humor

Rating: PG-13

Summary: Harry needs to learn how to kiss. Who do you think might be kind enough to instruct him?

Spoilers: First five books. We'll pretend the sixth doesn't exist, and happily.

Disclaimer: Not mine, because if I was JKR, I'd have a completely random character that Harry hardly knows giving him lessons. shrug Don't really know why she's getting the money for work like that, but at least I get better feedback.

Author's Note: BIG, BIG NOTE. This chapter has had a very large chunk cut out due to content. If you are of legal age and you'd like to read the NC-17 rated version, you can do so at my livejournal, under the username amethyst underscore j, or at Portkey dot org,under the username Amethyst. And apologies for the weird linkage instructions - ff dot net is too much of a poohead to allow any URLs.

Lesson Seven – Buggering the Boundaries

Harry wandered throughout the castle for at least two hours after their final lesson before he finally dragged himself back toward Gryffindor Tower. He desperately didn't want to go back and face her. It would be a miracle if he could so much as look at Hermione without having some kind of explosive reaction – bursting into tears or screaming out his frustrations or maybe just blowing something up, loudly. He wasn't sure which he wanted to do most; anything would work, so long as it eased the pain.

Hermione wasn't there waiting for him when he returned. Normally, she would have been, sitting with a book and sometimes gnawing on her bottom lip with worry. How had so much changed in so little time?

He trudged up the stairs to his dormitory and was greeted immediately by the sounds of three sleeping boys. Ron's notable snores, however, were conspicuously absent.

"You look like hell, mate," he said quietly.

Harry shrugged. "Looks like hell…feels like hell. Guess it must be hell."

Ron raised his eyebrows. "I hope this doesn't mean you told her."

"No," Harry sighed as he began changing into his pajamas. "I didn't need to."

"She knew? Are you sure? She seemed pretty damned oblivious a few days ago."

"Yeah, well, I suppose she didn't say anything because she didn't want to make things awkward, but she made it good and clear that she didn't want anything to do with me."

"I can't see her doing that," Ron said skeptically. "Is that what she actually said?"

"She said she wanted the lessons to be over and that I should go snog other girls now. What does that sound like to you?" Harry replied, crawling into bed.

Ron never responded.

The next day, it was clear that the night before had put them all – all three of them – in a pickle.

Ron, who was already a bit frosty toward Hermione for rejecting him, had now taken her rejection of Harry as a further insult and refused to speak to her, leaving poor Hermione entirely friendless, as she was actively avoiding Harry as well. Ginny tried to keep her company at mealtimes, but in class, Hermione would be found sitting alone, across the room from Harry and Ron, causing quite the speculation amongst their peers as to what had occurred to cause such a rift.

To make matters worse, Ron seemed to be struggling slightly with delight that the 'famous Harry Potter' had been turned down by the very same girl he had. Harry knew Ron tried to be loyal and not show those feelings, but they kept leaking out in conversation, which finally turned quite ugly at lunch.

"Maybe she doesn't want to be with you because of all the media attention – I mean, after what happened with Krum and all, she probably doesn't want to go through that again."

Thanks, Ron. Thanks for reminding me that everything about me makes me a poor choice for her.

"Or maybe it's because of You-Know-Who – you know, with the prophecy and all. Maybe she reckons it's too risky to be with you…"

Bloody, knife-twisting, good-for-nothing –

"Or maybe she just thinks you're a bit scrawny. Krum was rather bulky, after all. Maybe that's how she likes them…"

Harry's fork fell to his plate with a clatter. "You know, Ron, if you want to enjoy my misfortune, maybe you should try doing it at the Slytherin table – they'd love to hear about it," he said, angrily leaving the table.

After that, none of them were sitting together in class. Even stoic McGonagall couldn't hide her surprise at finding them separated.

And so it seemed the strong bonds between the three had finally been broken, leaving everyone in Hogwarts a little disoriented.

And all because Hermione just had to turn into a stupid, bloody girl.

Thus, the agonizing misery went on – for an entire week. Harry roamed the castle like a ghost – which was perhaps a bad idea, as the longest conversation he'd had all week was with Nearly Headless Nick, and he'd walked into a few walls in the process, breaking his nose once and his glasses twice.

Though dear Nick valiantly tried to cheer him up ("Look on the bright side – you've still got your head firmly attached to your shoulders!"), he was about as successful at it as Ron was. Ghosts really needed to learn that being dead didn't give them the greatest grasp on the emotional matters of the living.

Even though Harry had admitted to himself that he might perhaps be in love with Hermione, he was still surprised at just how much he missed her. She wouldn't look him in the eye, let alone speak to him. Going without the simple things was simply unbearable – things like seeing her smile and hearing her say, "Good morning, Harry," every day made all the difference.

His marks were also suffering without her, and it wasn't helping that all he could seem to do in class was sneak glances at her. McGonagall kept telling him to get help from Hermione, leaving Harry to wonder if she was perhaps conspiring to get them to speak again. He never did ask Hermione for help; he hadn't even worked up the courage to say hello to her.

By the next Friday, Harry was ready to burst. He didn't know how long he could go like this, being estranged from Hermione and at odds with Ron every other day. How could she act like she was fine? How could she just let this happen? …How could he?

Lord knows he didn't want to let it happen…but he didn't know what to do to fix it. What was he supposed to say? "Hermione, sorry I fell in love with you, think we can still be friends?" He didn't know if that was even possible, to go on being her friend, much as he wanted her in his life….

It was that evening, when Harry was roaming the castle again, that something finally happened.

It was quite dark, and he wasn't paying much attention to his surroundings, too lost in his own gloom. Therefore, when someone reached out from a broom closet and dragged him inside, he wasn't at all prepared to react, and the door was shut behind him before he could reach his wand.

"We need to talk."

That voice was unmistakable. It was Hermione.

While Harry was relieved that he wasn't being attacked, he wasn't sure Hermione was quite the person he wanted to be trapped in a broom cupboard with – at least, not under the present circumstances.

"Lumos," she whispered, and her face was illuminated by the small circle of faint white light at the tip of her wand.

To use Ron's favorite description, she looked like hell. Judging by her pale complexion and the bags under her eyes, Harry didn't think she'd been sleeping well, or eating well, or doing much of anything well lately. Harry was struck by the familiarity of it. Could it be that she was as miserable about this as he was?

Harry didn't know what to say to her that could possibly convey what he wanted – needed – her to know, so he asked the first question to pop into his head.

"Why are we in a broom closet?"

"Because I thought ambushing you would be the easiest way to get you to talk to me," she said, fiddling with her wand. The light in the room bounced around with the movement of her fingers. "Harry, I need to tell you something, whether you want to hear it or not."

"Hermione, I –"

"No, please, just listen," she pleaded. Harry acquiesced, hoping she wasn't about to say what he thought she would say.

"The thing is," she said slowly, not meeting his eyes, "I'm not ready for the lessons to end. You might be, but – but I'm not. I mean, not the lessons, exactly, but what we were doing…I'm not ready to let go of that."

Harry's mouth went dry and he found himself speaking before he'd decided what he was going to say. "Me neither." He hesitated, watching the tentative smile form on Hermione's face. "But…I don't understand, you said we were done. You said I should go find other girls to kiss. I thought that's what you wanted."

"Oh, Harry, you really can be unbelievably thick about girls sometimes," she said, shaking her head sadly at him. "When I said that, I was hoping you'd say you didn't want to kiss other girls or – or something. It was supposed to be like…like a hint to get you to say how you felt."

"Well, how was I supposed to know that?" Harry asked, torn between exasperation and the feeling that he was indeed quite thick.

"I don't know. You weren't. I don't know what I was expecting," Hermione said on a sigh. "I just know it went all wrong, and I can't stand going like this any longer. I miss you."

His mind struggled to formulate the words to respond, to express just how much he'd missed her as well – how completely miserable he'd been without her.

Hermione began pacing the short space, and, before he could reply, said, "Harry, I…I don't just want the kissing, though. It's wonderful, but…it's not enough for me. I need to know that if you want this too, that it's more than just…physical."

She wants me too. She…she actually wants me too.

"Of course it is," Harry said as his heart tap-danced around in his chest. "I mean, it's you. You're too important to me for it to be just physical."

"Oh – oh, Harry – I'm so glad," she said as she threw herself onto him. He caught her as the force of the impact knocked him back into the door.

"So it's the same for you, then?" Harry asked, needing to hear it – his happiness would finally be complete when she said it.

"Of course, you git," she said, pulling away. There were tears in her eyes, but she was smiling. "Do you really think I would have let you do all those things to me if I didn't feel anything more than friendship for you? You're the only one I would trust with my body like that."

"Really? …Me?"

Hermione rolled her eyes. "Who else would you suggest?"

Harry looked at her watery eyes, alight with happiness, and knew there was only one thing left to say –

"So when's the next lesson?"

Hermione grinned. "Now."

She had him out the door before he could say a word.

Harry woke the next morning feeling more perfectly warm and content than he ever had before in his life. Hermione lay fast asleep on her stomach beside him, her arms tucked under her pillow and her hair spread out wildly across her bare shoulders and back. Her face was turned toward him, her mouth curled upward in the smallest of smiles. He wanted very much to reach out and touch her, perhaps to confirm that she was more than a dream, but he was afraid, somehow, to disturb this perfect peace. He would be happy to lie next to her for a very long while and listen to her rhythmic breathing. It had been a long time since he'd felt such simple, uncomplicated tranquility.

It was almost frightening how quickly things had changed…how one moment he thought she'd never speak to him again, and the next she was giving all of herself to him. They couldn't go back now…the line that had held them back for so long, the line that marked the limits of their friendship, had been obliterated. Harry knew he'd lose an essential part of himself if they ever tried to re-define that line.

There was a certain shyness present, however, now that the boundaries were gone. Harry'd never had any idea how to go about initiating any kind of physical contact with anyone, the opposite sex in particular, and while Hermione had helped some with her valuable instruction, he was still unsure about touching or kissing her without her having told him to do so.

Where they stood was unclear as well, and Harry didn't want to try anything until he was sure of it. Was she his girlfriend? It had sounded last night like she wanted them to be together as a real couple…but what did that mean? Could he kiss her anytime he liked now? Would they be doing what they did last night again any time soon, or would she even want to?

Those questions could wait, however. For now, she was there, beside him, and in that simple moment, he felt more at home, more peaceful and safer than he'd ever felt before.

"What are you thinking about?"

Harry looked down with a start, meeting his favorite pair of eyes in the world. He contemplated her expression, remembered the way she'd felt in his arms, and realized exactly what all those things he'd been thinking about really meant.

"You know how last night you said you could see us together for a long time?"

She turned onto her side and he saw the beginnings of panic in her eyes. "Oh, Harry – forget I ever said that. I didn't mean to jump to that sort of thing so quickly – I don't want you to feel pressured –"

"No, no," he interrupted, on the verge of panic himself. "I was just going to say – I can see it, too."

Her anxious expression quickly turned to one of happiness.

"I'm so glad – oh, Harry!" She threw her arms around him, pressing all sorts of wonderful naked skin against him. "I was terrified you didn't feel the same way. I know this is new for us, but I already feel so much for you…I don't know if I could have pretended as though we were just any two people dating – because we're more than that, aren't we?"

"Yeah," he replied, "we are."

Hermione smiled, visibly relaxing. "It almost makes more sense than an ordinary relationship, don't you think? I mean, we've been through so much together as friends, and we know each other so well, there's almost no point in us dating – dating's all about getting to know someone, after all. We're way past that."

"Agreed," Harry said, holding her tightly to him. "So…this means…you're my girlfriend now?"

"You're my boyfriend, yes," she replied with a grin.

"That sounds good to me," he said, running his hands over her back to test the waters. As if she had read his mind and new exactly what he was up to, she leaned forward and kissed him.

"You don't have to be afraid to do that, you know," she murmured as she pulled away. "I certainly wouldn't object – and you could use the practice."

The teasing gleam in her eye drew him in. "Oh? But you said at the end of our last lesson that I was proficient enough to quit your instruction – and I do believe you were quite enjoying yourself last night. I think practice is unnecessary at this point."

"Oh, don't get so cocky," Hermione said, shoving him over onto his back. Her breast pressed into his arm and her thigh worked its way between his; he found himself hardening against it. She smirked and continued, "You're good, sure – but even the best need practice. To stay in shape, you know."

"I'm sure you're right as usual," Harry said. "…You really think I'm good?"

Hermione chuckled. "What, did you think I was faking it before?"

Harry blushed and shrugged. "I guess I didn't know what to think. I was pretty much confused as hell the entire time."

She kissed him apologetically – funny, and amazing, how he could read her emotions in her kisses now. "I'm sorry if I over-complicated things," she said, "but I was too afraid to tell you how I felt…I hoped maybe I wouldn't have to take that risk if I could make you want me. That's…that's sort of why I suggested teaching you." Her face flushed. "I thought maybe you'd take a fancy to me if I was the first girl you ever really kissed…and I…er…sort of wanted a chance to snog you."

Harry couldn't help it – he laughed. "Sorry," he said quickly as she scowled at him. "It's just that I only asked you about kissing because I wanted to find out how you'd react if I kissed you – in hindsight, I should have known what you were up to. Your offer was horribly contrived –" she smacked his arm, and he laughed again – "but like I said, I was rather confused."

"We were quite the couple of idiots, weren't we?" Hermione said as she settled down in the crook of his arm, snuggling into his side. Smiling up at him, she added softly, "But I like the way it worked out."

"Me too," Harry grinned, unable to express just how well it really had worked out in his case. He'd never felt this relaxed, this whole, this good in his life.

By the time Harry and Hermione finally emerged from the Room of Requirement, perhaps an hour or two later, nearly all of Gryffindor was up and about, headed to and from breakfast, playing chess and gobstones in the common room, or gossiping – primarily about them, and where they'd been last night when their beds lay empty.

Dodging suspicious stares and awkward questions – with secret smiles for each other – they made their way upstairs to shower and change clothes. Harry did so as quickly as possible, inexplicably eager to be back by Hermione's side, as though magnetically drawn to her. She evidently felt it, too, because she came clattering down the stairs mere seconds after he had.

Very deliberately, in order to confirm every suspicion of every curious eye, they joined hands and went down for a late breakfast, where they assumed they'd find Ron.

Walking into the Great Hall, Harry felt his stomach clench with nervousness. He knew Ron had accepted that Harry had feelings for Hermione…but a relationship? That was quite another thing entirely.

Harry spotted him sitting with Dean and Seamus, his back to the door. Hermione clenching his hand tightly, they approached him. When Dean and Seamus caught sight of them (with raised eyebrows), Ron finally turned to see what they were looking at.

A moment of tense silence passed. Harry was positive Hermione was holding her breath.

Ron shook his head. "Well, it's about bloody time."

Harry blinked. "W-what?"

Ron shrugged. "Look, I won't pretend I'm completely thrilled about this, but this weird silent treatment thing you've had going for the past week was just…well, weird. I mean, I'm used to Hermione avoiding me, but it's just strange when she's not nagging you…"

Hermione put her free hand to her hip, eyes narrowing. "Excuse me, that is not all I do…I can't help it if you need nagging, but –"

"Anyway," Ron said loudly, drowning her out, "I suppose it was meant to be. You're the one that could always put up with her, not me."

Hermione gave a little 'humph!' that Harry found inexplicably adorable, and he grinned at Ron. "I reckon you're right, mate. I can see how you might have been confused, though…she is awfully cute when she's annoyed."

"Boys," Hermione huffed as she yanked her hand away from him and sat down at the table. "I'll never understand your distorted sense of camaraderie."

"And I'll never understand your insults," Ron said, turning back to his meal. "Can't you use more words less than ten letters long?"

Harry took a seat next to Hermione, and she offered him a subtle smile that informed him she, too, was happy to have things finally, finally back to normal.

And this normal is even better than the old one, Harry thought as her hand placed itself on his knee, to remain there throughout breakfast, as if it was the most natural thing in the world…and Harry suspected it really was.

The End

A/N: Okay, before anyone starts asking about a sequel, let me tell you what's what. This is the definite end of this part of the story, although I may end up writing some future lessons for poor, clueless Harry (and maybe one or two for Hermione), but I guarantee nothing and I cannot say when I might be writing them.

If you'd like to keep up with my future works, you can always add me to your author alerts or join my Yahoo group, which is linked in my info on my author page.