Outside Looking In - Harry

Disclaimer: They don't belong to me. Please don't sue.

Harry was pretty sure he was the first one to know. As a matter of fact, he was certain of it. Of course when he suspected something of Hermione, that wasn't quite what he had in mind. It had been subtle at first, her asking him to borrow his invisibility cloak every once and a while. He would always let her take it, no questions asked. He just assumed she was sneaking to the library to do some late night research. Then again, she'd never said that's what she was doing.

Then there were the times they shared one class or another with the Slytherins. On a few occasions, Hermione would be flushed and agitated by the end of class and excuse herself to the bathroom only to show up to their next class almost late and even more flushed. During those times, he just figured the Slytherins' teasing had gotten to her more so than usual. He had no idea just how right he was.

He didn't really start suspecting anything until Hermione and Ron became prefects. By then she had stopped borrowing his cloak but it wasn't like she needed it anymore. No, what he found odd was that she and Ron would leave for rounds and Ron would return alone, Hermione not returning until much later. Harry had asked Ron about this once. He'd just shrug and say that maybe she snuck off to the library or something. This was when he didn't pay much attention to Hermione but Harry did so he asked her about it. She'd told him that she had to report in to the Head boy and girl with the other prefects and that Ron was so bored by then, she would just send him back to the common room.

Harry almost bought that, until he asked if it always took so long. At that Hermione blushed and mumbled 'sometimes' before quickly changing the subject. That's when he realized she was hiding something. If that wasn't enough for him to see what his clever friend was up to, Hermione beginning to skip lunch with them was.

She would accompany them to the great hall, take a few bites of her lunch and then start, as if she'd just remembered something. She would tell them of some errand or another that she needed to do before their next class and when Harry (it was always Harry because Ron couldn't pry his attention from his plate) suggested that they join her, she would beg off, telling them that it was boring stuff and that they should enjoy their lunch time. She would always leave before he could utter another word.

That was when Harry decided to see what Hermione was really up to. He decided to follow her on a day Ron wasn't with them because he was in the infirmary due to a quidditch practice mishap. Harry still cringed at the memory. He and Hermione had gone to the great hall for lunch. They were barely sitting two minutes before she jumped up saying something about errands. She muttered and apology to him, grabbed a peach and left all in the span of 45 seconds. Harry had been stunned at the speed in which she left before jumping out of his seat, deciding this was the perfect opportunity.

He followed her throughout the halls quietly, ducking out of sight when she looked back. He followed her like this all the way to the infirmary. He frowned when he realized that she had only gone to visit Ron. That didn't make sense though. She hadn't been sneaking off to visit Ron all those times, so he waited. He didn't have to wait long and soon he was following her through the halls again.

Her next destination turned out to be the astronomy tower. He followed her all the way to the top, keeping to the shadows and nearly tripped when he saw who was waiting there.

Pansy Parkinson stood at the window, looking out over the campus, turning around when she heard Hermione's footsteps. Harry had planned to step out of the shadows then to prevent Pansy from trying anything but something stopped him. Perhaps it was the way Pansy smiled, not smirked but actually smiled when she saw Hermione. Or maybe it was the way Hermione's face lit up to see Pansy standing there. What it was for sure, Harry couldn't say as he continued to watch Hermione walk into Pansy's open arms. They kissed softly for a moment before Pansy leaned closer to nuzzle Hermione's neck. She must have said something then because Hermione laughed and swatted her shoulder.

That's when Harry came to an abrupt realization. This wasn't new. Whatever was going on with Pansy and Hermione had been going on for a while. This wasn't the fire and impatience of new lust or even the slight awkwardness of getting to know each other. This was a couple who were comfortable with one another. Harry looked at them again, watching as Pansy's hands disappeared under Hermione's robes to rub her back and Hermione brushed her lips against Pansy's ear. They were sharing an intimacy that made Harry embarrassed to watch, an intimacy that took time to develop and was completely private.

On that thought, Harry turned and snuck back down the astronomy stairs, his mind a whir. Hermione and Pansy were a couple. Hermione and Pansy were a couple. Hermione and Pansy were a couple. He chuckled to himself. Wait until he told Ron, but that thought made him frown. Maybe he shouldn't tell Ron but he would definitely tell Hermione that he knew. That way she wouldn't have to feel like she was sneaking around, not with him at least. While he was sorting his thoughts, another surprise awaited him at the bottom of the steps.

Draco Malfoy stood leaning against the wall opposite the staircase, apparently waiting for him. He fixed Harry with a glare. He flicked his eyes to the stairs behind Harry before returning them to him.

"Did you see?" Draco asked, his glare burning a hole into Harry.

Harry nodded hesitantly, not sure what to expect.

Draco pushed off the wall and walked closer to him before saying,

"You tell anyone and I'll hex you so bad your kids will suffer the effects. Got that Potter?" He sneered, practically spitting Harry's name. His eyes narrowed as if daring Harry not to believe him.

Harry nodded that he understood, completely shocked at the fierceness in which Draco was trying to protect Pansy, he guessed, and Hermione by proxy.

His threat made clear, Draco disappeared down the hall in a whir of green and black robes. Harry shook his head, a disbelieving smile on his face. So much for being the first to know.