Title: All Nights
Keywords: Hermione, Harry, Ron, H/Hr, H/G, R/Hr, post-HBP
Summary: Gimme back my Hermione!
Spoilers: Major spoilers for HBP. Don't say I didn't warn you.
A/N: Strangely, I wrote this on Saturday after I finished the book. While I no longer have any hope of H/Hr occurring in canon (and, actually, would rather it didn't, since I'm less than impressed by JKR's version of "romance"), I do think that the H/Hr connection is still there and I don't want to give up on it. I love this ship, I love this fandom, and it's made me happy for the last year that I've been a part of it. I'm not leaving—despite early "WTF?" kind of feelings.
Dedication: To all my shipmates. They're still ours. JKR made me believe in books 1-5 and one book simply can't undo that.
The night was dark.
And aren't all nights? Hermione Granger thought to herself, a grim little smile tugging at the corner of her mouth.
She pushed the last of her boxes into the corner of her room. She cast a size-reduction spell and pocketed her items, feeling decidedly cheerful.
She plucked a letter off her bed.
It was time to go.
Dear Mum and Dad,
I know this isn't the proper way to do such things, but I thought it was for the best. The less you know, the less danger you'll be in.
I wish I could tell you when I'll be home—I can't.
I wish I could tell you I'll be fine—I can't.
But know that what I'm doing is right, it's more right than anything I've ever done.
I love you.
She left the letter on the kitchen table, turned once around in her empty kitchen, before closing her eyes and feeling the pressing sensation of Apparition descend upon her.
When she arrived outside number four Privet Drive in the Little Whinging, she felt a surge of relief to find both Harry and Ron waiting for her.
They were both grim-faced, but smiled when they saw her. She felt a surge of affection well up in her. Despite the uncertainty of their futures, she felt power in the knowledge that they could overcome anything together.
"So," she said. "Where to first?"
Harry shrugged. "Haven't the faintest bloody idea."
"Thanks, mate," Ron said. "I'm so glad I signed up for this."
"R.A.B." Harry mused, staring down at the paper in his hands. "Good a place as any to start." He looked at her. "Have you got anything?"
Hermione shifted uncomfortably. "I don't… maybe…"
She sighed. "It's just… it's a hunch."
"I trust your hunches," he said softly.
Their eyes met and she had to turn away, a horrible feeling spreading through her. Guilt, that's what it was. For not trusting him about Draco.
"I don't know if it's safe to talk here," she said, looking around nervously.
"Good point," Harry said. His eyes flitted closed for a moment. When he opened them, he gave a weak smile. "Hey… I'm really glad you guys are here."
"Us too, mate," Ron said. "Can't imagine what you'd have done by yourself."
"Well, there'd be a lot less bickering, at least."
Hermione felt her face flush and very carefully avoided looking at Ron. What is going on there?
I don't know. Still.
They spent the night in Diagon Alley.
"Seems as good as any," Harry said, sighing. "I honestly don't really know where to go from here. It's all so…"
"Overwhelming?" Ron said, yawning widely. "I feel your pain."
Hermione wrung her hands. "Are we safe here? I mean, we don't have any of the protections or charms at Hogwarts, and there aren't any Order members around—"
"Course there are," Harry interrupted impatiently. "If you'd been paying attention, you'd have noticed. They pretty much follow me everywhere."
"Oh," Hermione whispered.
Harry glanced at her, his eyes deep and unreadable. He's so much older, she thought with a pang. What happened to the reckless boy he'd been only a couple of years ago?
"Still," he reflected. "One of us should keep watch. Helps that we can Apparate now—gives us a way to get out if we need to."
Hermione hesitated. Harry was leading them so effortlessly, making all the tough decisions… did he still want to hear her advice?
"What?" he said, seeing her mouth hanging open.
"Well… don't you think… it'd be wise to have… a destination in mind?"
"What do you mean?"
He looked at her wearily, as if expecting her to start criticizing him or poking holes into his plan.
She bit her lip, feeling heat rise on her face. Will we ever be the same? She glanced at Ron and quickly looked away.
It had been so much simpler when they'd been eleven.
"Somewhere that we know about—the three of us, should we ever be separated. Somewhere that isn't obvious, that no one else knows about."
She waited breathlessly, watching Harry for a reaction. He frowned, thinking it over.
"Yeah," he said. "That's good."
"Where?" Ron asked.
"Godric's Hollow," Harry said.
Hermione smiled. "I thought you might say that."
"Where we want to go eventually, right?" Harry said, looking at each of them in turn. "Seems as good as any if we need a quick escape."
"Okay," Hermione said.
Harry nodded and went to the window. "I'll keep watch for a while. You guys get some sleep."
Ron didn't make a comment, only flung himself back onto the bed. Hermione stared at him for a moment, her mind racing.
There was only one bed.
She didn't know what this was between her and Ron. If it was anything.
If she even wanted…
She didn't know.
Sighing, she gingerly settled down next to him, only aware that he stiffened as the bed shifted with her weight. Flopping into her back, she stared at the ceiling, mind too busy racing for sleep.
"Does he always snore this loudly?"
Harry turned around from his vigil near the window. "I thought you were sleeping."
"Right." Harry glanced back outside. "And… yeah, he does. Better get used to it."
"What's that supposed to mean?"
"Dunno, Hermione," he said tiredly. "I don't much feel like another row at the moment. It can mean whatever you want it to mean."
Hermione bit her lip and considered. Finally, she threw her legs over the bed and came to stand next to Harry by the window.
She couldn't remember the last time she had just talked to him.
"Are we still…?" she shifted back and forth, her hands twisting together. "You know…"
"What?" he said tiredly.
"Best friends?" she said, swallowing. "Like… like always?"
He turned to look at her, his eyes so much more troubled than only a year ago. "Of course."
"Good," she whispered. "It's just that… lately… I…"
"You what?" he said gently.
"I feel like… like something's happened," she said. "Don't you… I know you must feel it too."
"It was a hard year, Hermione."
"I know," she said. "But we both know it was more than that… it was—"
"Ron and Ginny?" he suggested, a wry smile on his mouth. "Yeah, I'd say we had other things on our minds."
Hermione felt a moment of nostalgia. She couldn't remember the last time she'd talked to Harry like this—just him and her.
"You miss her, don't you?" she said softly.
Harry was quiet before answering. "Of course I do. It was… easy being with her. Knowing someone could care for me like that…"
He trailed off and sighed. "It doesn't matter. I did what I had to. Ginny didn't know what she was getting into with me. You and Ron do."
"I know," Harry said. "I know." He paused for a moment and glanced over at her. "Ron?"
She'd known the question was coming. She looked down at her hands as she considered her answer. She knew she couldn't lie to Harry.
"It's… complicated." She gave a rueful smile and decided on honesty. "I don't really—what happened last year… it turned me into someone I'm frightened of. Honestly, I don't really know what got into me. Acting like that… I don't want that to be me. But I don't… I don't know how to… just be myself around him."
She stopped, miserable. Unexpected tears welled into her eyes.
"Sometimes I think I've fancied Ron for so long… but only because I thought he might…" she bit her lip. "Fancy me back. That's awful, isn't it?"
Harry shook his head. "That's not awful."
"I mean, I care about him—I do… I—I know I do. But it wasn't supposed to be like this. It was supposed to be simple."
She stared at Harry's profile in the darkness of the room, the barest hints of light filtering in from the street. She could feel his eyes on her and she suddenly understand that even after everything that happened between them, all their rows, all her nagging… Harry cared.
It had always been difficult to tell with Harry. He wasn't an affectionate person, but with his eyes on her, she had an inkling of just how much he cared for her.
"Oh, Harry," she whispered, overcome. She flung her arms around him, holding him tightly. After a moment, she felt him hug her back, his arms slipping around her waist.
He'd grown so much taller. Hugging him like this, in his arms, she felt at peace. Maybe it was the quiet confidence that now poured out of him, or the way he carried himself, but he seemed so safe.
Slowly they drew away, until they were staring into each other's eyes. Hermione had almost climbed onto his lap in her haste to embrace him.
"Hey," he whispered.
He brought up a hand up to caress her cheek, his fingers moving in small circles. She closed her eyes, enjoying the sensation.
She moved forward. Their noses bumped.
Ron snorted and Hermione's eyes snapped open. She found Harry's gaze on hers.
"He's still asleep," he whispered. "Don't worry."
Hermione could only nod, understanding what they were going to do a moment before they did. Harry's lips were warm and slightly chapped. He was patient, waiting for her to react. She moved into the kiss, her arms going back around his neck.
They kissed for a few moments, their pace slow and lazy. Hermione resisted a smirk. Whatever happened with Ginny, she'd taught him well.
Harry pulled away and they stared at each other, the flush of their cheeks the only evidence of their kiss. His fingers still caressed her face and he stared at her intently.
"I know," he said quietly. His eyes were still fastened on her face. "I know."
He picked up her hand in his free one, squeezing her fingers. "Best friends, right? For always?"
She nodded. "Always."
His hand dropped from her cheek. "You and Ron… if there's something there… well, you should take advantage of it. You never know what could happen."
Harry's thumb was rubbing over the back of her hand. Hermione swallowed.
"I don't think…" she tried to smile. "I think Ron and I lost our chance. We… you saw what happened, Harry. It's not right. Not for either of us."
Harry bowed his head. Hermione wished she knew what he was thinking.
Tears were burning in her eyes—what she couldn't say was that she was afraid to feel more for Harry. Sometimes she could feel pressing on her in the middle of the night, a heavy weight on her chest. It was a consuming kind of feeling, far deeper and more complicated than what she felt for Ron.
Fancying Ron was easier, full of the simplicity in the rush of hormones and the need to be desired back. Harry was…
More. Simply more. She didn't know what she would give up for Harry, if she was called upon.
These thoughts flew through her mind and then back out again. She grasped his hand with renewed urgency.
Whatever happens, she wanted to say. That's why Ron and I are here with you. Whatever happens.
Her tongue felt thick, so instead she closed the distance between them, going back to the safety she felt in his arms, his chest hard and wide against hers. His arms locked around her, his cheek pressed to the top of her head.
She knew he was still watching what was going on outside. Being Harry Potter was a full time job.