Love in Six Acts

I. Ron was the first, and the sweetest, made up of arguments in the common room that soon dissolved into shy kisses and flushed cheeks and a murmured "I love you." For exactly four months, two weeks, and five days, Hermione floated in a giddy haze. She giggled, which she had never done before. She snuck out and held hands and snuggled on couches and thought that nothing could ever be better than this. It took one hour, one fight, and one "I don't think this is working" for it to end. She sobbed on Harry's shoulder, which she had never done before, lost her appetite and didn't do her homework for a week. Then one morning she saw the shock of red hair and realized that all she wanted to do was call him a prat, fix his potions essays, and get in life threatening situations with him and Harry. So she went up to him and smiled, and after a moment, he smiled back.

She kept the childish love note he gave her in the bottom of her trunk, and only read it when it rained.

II. Hermione had never just had fun before, and Seamus showed her how to do it. He was laughs and sunshine and tickle fights on the quidditch pitch. He got her onto a broom and forced her to overcome her problem with heights. He tore her away from her studies when she got too immersed in ancient tomes and made her go on a walk with him. Seamus taught her about thrills and shivers and the path of tongues and hands, about smiles and moans and laughs and sighs. One day she realized that she wasn't in love with him, and she smiled without bitterness when she saw his wistful glances at Lavender Brown.

She clipped a twig off the end of his broom and placed it next to Ron's letter.

III. Neville asked her out one day in the library, stammering, shy, and her heart broke to see him so nervous. It turns out he had never gotten over his fourth year crush on her, and, mustering all his newfound courage, decided to give it one more time. She said no, her eyes filling with tears, and with surprise she saw his back straighten and his chin rise, even as his face fell. He leaned over to kiss her softly, once, and then he walked away from the table where she sat, his gait strong and proud. Hermione wondered when he had grown up.

She took the quill she had been using and officially retired it to the trunk at the foot of her bed.

IV. It had to happen, even if no one expected it. It was so meant to be, so destined. Childish kisses and teasing romances had been one thing, but nothing had prepared her for the rush and swirl of his dark, competitive kisses. They fought in the day, insulting each other, each polarized on a different side, and at night melted together in a duel of passion and need. Hermione had never felt this type of throat pounding, chest tightening, aching emotion, and she thought she couldn't breathe when he was near her. Circles appeared under their eyes and they both began to waste away little by little. When Hermione realized the destructive course they were taking, she ended it. Draco only nodded and kissed her one final time. She stroked the brand on his arm gently and walked away.

She never had anything of his. The empty spot in her trunk screamed at her every time she opened it.

V. Draco had been passion and lust but this was intensity at a level she had never dreamed of. The green of his eyes sometimes held her to such an extent that she couldn't move until he looked away. Hermione smiled and nodded and laughed with the rest of them, but part of her burned every time Harry touched her casually or said her name. She couldn't believe that she had never looked up and noticed him before, and she wished desperately that she never had. She wanted nothing more that to never have stumbled into a train compartment where a skinny, scarred boy and his redheaded friend sat.

She asked for his love, nothing more. In the letter he left before the final battle he gave it. She placed it in her trunk along with everything else and tried to forget the feel of his cold lips against her own.

VI. To the outside observer, they had nothing in common. But Hermione knew better. They were drawn together by the written word. Her life had changed when a letter clutched in the talons of a barn owl had arrived; his had changed the night he glanced at a magic map and saw the name of a long dead friend. After the battle had ended, they were both alone. He had already lost three of his best friends, killed the other one, and then lost the last vestige he had of Sirius, of James. Hermione thought her heart had died with Harry and Draco. Together, they could meld into one and rock away the nightmares. They kissed each other's scars and once a month she held him as a wolf. They both loved the written word, the spoken word, but there came a time when looks and touches and tears could be so much more eloquent. Remus held her hand and then their child, and no one who saw them together could object.

She placed a lock of his hair and a tuft of his fur into the trunk. Hermione locked it.