Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, which is a shame, as I could write him a wonderful girlfriend.
Author's Note: This was written for the Fanfict00bs Birthday Challenge at the fanfict00bs community on livejournal. Listed below are my choices for the challenge requirements, although I've used more than just these.
Number Four Privet Drive
Hogwarts Library: Restricted Section
"Hermione!...Well, it is an interesting proposition..."
"Harry, ugh, what is that thing?"
"Are you sure that it says…ohh…that we…yes…are on the right track?"
Harry's Quidditch robes
September first came as always for Harry with the usual scurry to find enough socks to last him through the year and manage to eat breakfast at some point. Unfortunately, having to cook the breakfast this time made the task a tad bit more difficult.
Harry was lucky, however, that he had Hermione to help him in all her organizational glory. Indeed, the girl was a sock-finding fiend, and before long, they'd all eaten and were ready to go.
Platform Nine and Three-Quarters was considerably less crowded this year. Harry, Hermione, and Ron quickly and easily found a compartment to themselves on the train and dragged their luggage aboard.
Luna popped into the car momentarily for the sole purpose of dragging Ron off to look at some strange creature, and Harry was left alone with Hermione, who was digging out a set of robes and her head girl badge.
"Do you think taking on the Head Girl position this year might be a bit much?" Harry asked.
"It's nothing new for me," Hermione replied. "Besides, it puts me in a position to protect the other students –"
Hermione was cut off by the compartment door sliding open, followed by a loud, "Harry!"
They both whirled around to find Ginny standing in the doorway.
"I've been looking all over for you! I was so happy when I heard you were coming back – this year wouldn't have been the same without you. And we need our Quidditch Captain –"
"Er, actually, Ginny," Harry interrupted awkwardly, "I won't be playing this year."
"I won't be playing. I won't have time this year."
Hermione had turned and busied herself digging around her trunk, taking a ridiculously long time finding whatever it was she was looking for.
"No time for Quidditch?" Ginny said incredulously. "That's ridiculous."
"That's the way it is, Ginny," Harry snapped, beginning to feel annoyed.
"Well…at least you're back. We can stay together now," she said brightly.
"Um, actually –"
Hermione chose that moment to drop a large book. She blushed sheepishly and put the book back up in the luggage rack. As she did so, her shirt rode up, revealing a flash of gold on her hip.
"What's that?" Ginny asked, looking pointedly at the spot.
"What's what?" Hermione said innocently, pulling on her school robes.
Ginny rolled her eyes. "On your hip. Was that a tattoo?"
"Er, yes." Hermione avoided Ginny's eyes as she pinned on her Head Girl badge.
"You? You got a tattoo? When?"
"This summer, in your brothers' place. Harry and I got them together."
Ginny's face was slowly reddening, a sure sign of a Weasley temper being tested. "You got one, too, Harry?"
Harry blushed. "Um, yeah. On my chest."
Ginny snorted. "Your chest? Oh, that's priceless. Is it a Hungarian Horntail, then?"
"No, actually, it's a hippogriff."
"Why on earth would you want a hippogriff on your chest?"
"Ah, well, that was my idea," Hermione said. "We picked each other's tattoos. I thought it would be funny, making the rumors come true." Hermione cleared her throat nervously as Ginny's expression slowly turned to a glare. "Well, I should be going now. Don't want to be late for the meeting." With that, she was gone.
Harry stood uncomfortably across from Ginny, who wasn't looking exactly cheerful.
"You and Hermione picked out tattoos for each other…how nice."
"It was just something to do," Harry said with no little amount of exasperation. "Look, Ginny, we need to talk."
Her eyes flashed dangerously. "Are you going to tell me you're with Hermione now? That's it, isn't it?"
"No!" Harry said quickly. "No, it's not like that. It's just…Ginny, nothing's changed. I still have something I need to do – I only came back this year because it'll be easier to do it at Hogwarts. I'm sorry, but things just aren't going to be like they used to."
"What…what are you getting at, Harry?"
"You seem to think that we're going to get back together now, but…that's just not possible."
"Harry, is this just some silly attempt at protecting me from You-Know-Who? Because if it is, it's all right – we're at Hogwarts. You needn't worry – I'll be safe enough –"
"It's not just that, Ginny. I'm sorry."
If looks could kill, Ginny would have made a great weapon against Voldemort. Harry braced himself for some kind of attack, be it magical, physical, or verbal, but it never came. Ginny just stood there, glaring…but her anger wasn't directed at him.
"This is because of Hermione, isn't it? She convinced you to do all this – quit Quidditch, leave me. It's her."
"I'm quite capable of making my own decisions, Ginny," Harry said with indignation. "Hermione's had no say in what I'm doing, although I hardly think it would be a mistake to listen to her excellent judgment."
"Oh, of course, she's had no effect on your decision at all. And you just spent the summer with her instead of me because…?"
"Because she's my best friend, and you're not my girlfriend anymore."
"That was because you were leaving –"
"No, Ginny, there's more to it than that. There are bigger things going on here – bigger than you and me."
Ginny nodded, looking ready to cry. "So that's it, then? Just like that? It's over?"
Harry sighed. "I'm sorry, Ginny. That's the way it has to be."
"Well…I'll…I guess I'll see you later, then, Harry." She turned and stormed out of the compartment, leaving Harry alone with two owls and a smirking orange cat.
"Oh, what are you looking at?" he snapped, to which Crookshanks replied with a smug sort of meow that seemed to say, "We both know you fancy my mistress."
Harry was about to reply, but then thought better of it. The last thing he needed was to be seen talking to a cat – or worse, arguing with a cat.
Seating himself as far from Crookshanks as possible, Harry waited. Some twenty minutes later, Hermione returned, looking slightly harassed. Harry didn't envy her, having to instruct a throng of prefects. She settled herself onto the seat beside him.
"I take it Ron is still off with Luna?"
"As far as I know," Harry replied. "He hasn't been back."
"Well, I'm glad," Hermione said. "I think Luna could have a good effect on him."
"You do?" Harry said with surprise. Hermione had never seemed to think very highly of the girl.
"Yes. I think she might actually bring out his more sensible, responsible side. And it would be good for him to have someone he couldn't argue with – and let's face it, it's impossible to argue with Luna."
Harry chuckled. "That's true."
"Oh, and speaking of responsible sides –" Hermione stood and retrieved something from the luggage rack above them – "I have something for you."
She handed him a package wrapped in plain brown paper. Curious, he unwrapped it quickly.
"It's…a homework planner."
Noticing his distinct lack of enthusiasm, Hermione took on a stern expression.
"Look, I know you were all set to completely ignore your studies this year, but that's really not a good idea. For one, you'll likely be kicked out if you never do anything, and it'll be easier for you if you stay on task anyway. The sooner you master spells, the less practice work you'll be given, and the better you manage your time, the more time you'll have to research. It's really, really important that you try, Harry."
"Yeah, I suppose you're right," Harry said, resigned. "But do I have to use the homework planner?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Honestly, sometimes I wonder why I even bother."
"Because, in spite of all efforts to hide it, you love me dearly?" Harry supplied.
Hermione tried to hide a smile as she reached into the luggage rack again and pulled down a knapsack. "For some reason, yes, I do."
Harry felt his cheeks flush and felt ridiculous for it. Just what were you expecting her to say? 'Sorry, not so much…actually, I think you're stupid and you smell.' Yes, that's exactly what she would have said…honestly.
"Are you hungry? I brought some snacks."
Coming to his senses, Harry peered warily into her bag. "Sugar-free snacks?"
"For me, yes," Hermione said with a look of amusement. "But I threw in some chocolate frogs for you."
And so they settled in with their carrot sticks and chocolate frogs, respectively, and spent the rest of the journey in their own uniquely comfortable way.
"Hermione, couldn't this library excursion wait until daytime? I was looking forward to a good night's sleep after the feast…"
"Harry, you know as well as I do that we need to get started right away. Besides, Madame Pince's more protective than ever of the Restricted Section. There's no way she'll let us in there to research something like horcruxes. Sneaking in at night is our only option."
Harry sighed and shuffled along with her under the Invisibility Cloak through the eerily quiet castle. It was very distracting, walking like this with a girl one fancied. He found himself purposely delaying their progress from time to time just to extend their time together under the Cloak.
"Harry," she hissed, "I know you hate researching, but for goodness' sake, stop dragging your feet."
Harry muttered his apologies and sped up obediently, allowing her to lead him throughout the hallways and finally into the labyrinth of shelves that was the library, back into the darkness of the Restricted Section.
Hermione removed herself from under the Cloak and set to work. Just seconds later, she pressed a book into his hands.
"Er – Hermione?" he said as she turned away and began pulling down more volumes.
"Just what am I looking for in this?"
Without turning around, she said, "Anything useful. That book's on the Founders. Look for something of Ravenclaw's or Gryffindor's in there."
Harry sank down to the floor with a sigh of resignation and began thumbing through the book by the light of his wand. Hermione eventually settled down beside him with a large stack of books on Merlin knows what.
It was a dreadfully boring book. Harry glanced over at Hermione, wondering how it was that she was able to concentrate on anything so dull.
After a long period of time (er, relatively – more like fifteen minutes), Harry couldn't take it anymore. He nudged Hermione with his elbow until she looked up from her book.
"Can we take a break?"
"We just started!" she huffed.
Harry made what he hoped was his most endearing expression. "I know, but I just can't focus. How can you focus this late at night?"
"…Harry, it's only eleven, and I can focus because this is important. I would have thought it would be important to you, too."
Harry shifted guiltily. "Well, it is. But there are more important things, aren't there?"
Hermione stared levelly at him, her exasperation clear. "Just what could be more important than saving the world from Voldemort?"
"Er…snogs! It says so right here in this book."
"Sure, if that's the guide to being a typical male," Hermione responded with a roll of her eyes. "But if you wanted snogs, Harry, you should have stayed with Ginny."
Harry closed his book, feeling daring. "I don't want to snog Ginny, though."
"Oh? Well, I don't know who else you plan to snog at this time of night, so you might as well –"
"I could snog you."
Hermione froze, both eyebrows raised high. "Harry, don't joke like that."
"No, I think it's a good idea," Harry said, letting his Gryffindor courage fuel him as he inched closer to Hermione. "Kissing you is the most important thing I can do right now."
Hermione didn't resist as their lips touched and she dropped her book to the ground beside her in order to tangle her fingers in his hair. Feeling relieved, triumphant, ecstatic, Harry pressed closer. His lips reached on their own volition for more of her, trailing across the skin of her jaw, down her neck…
"Are you sure that it says…ohh…that we…yes…are on the right track?" said Hermione. Harry could hear the grin in her voice.
"Definitely," Harry murmured. "Best thing to do…"
"Mmm…well, all right then…oh! …If the book says so…ahh…then carry on…"
"Gladly. You know…I've wanted…to do this…all summer…"
"Oh?" Her fingers trailed down his neck; he couldn't stop a shiver running down his spine. "I wish you had."
Harry momentarily lost his wits at the tone in her voice. He had no idea what kind of devil he'd be unleashing with a little kiss – in the library, of all places.
"Well…you know, I might have, but I didn't want to meet the same fate as poor Ron."
Hermione laughed. "I take it you've never kissed Ron, else you'd know why I did what I did."
"Of course I've never kissed Ron!" Harry said, slightly nauseated. "Ugh, what a horrible thing to suggest. I hope you're satisfied, now that you've completely ruined the mood – ummph!"
Harry found himself on his back, with Hermione's body pinning him down and her laughter ringing in his ears. It was a beautiful sound.
Her lips brushed lightly against his, and he completely forgot what they'd just been talking about.
"I've wanted this for a long time," she said quietly, smiling.
"Yeah?" Harry's natural curiosity perked up at that. "How long?"
Hermione looked away. "Well…since fourth year, when you didn't take me to the Yule Ball. I felt sure you'd ask me, just because we were friends and you were petrified of asking someone. But then you didn't, so I decided I'd go with Viktor…. Then Ron got jealous, and you didn't…and I realized I was upset about that. After all that, I began to understand what I really felt for you."
Harry gaped at her. "But you seemed angry that Ron hadn't asked you – at least, not properly. And then you were so mad at him last year. I thought –"
"I was sort of taking my frustrations out on him," Hermione said, having the decency to look ashamed. "He still deserved it, with the way he treated me. And last year…I sort of expected him to still fancy me. He was sort of…my backup plan. And then I lost that…I was a little…er…upset."
"I suppose that makes sense," Harry said, amazed at the complexity of female behavior. "But that doesn't explain why you practically pushed me at Cho and Ginny."
Hermione sighed and settled down against him, her head on his shoulder. "I wanted you to be happy…even if it wasn't with me. And…honestly, I didn't think it would work out with either one of them. I was sort of hoping you'd date them and get them out of your system…and move on to me."
Harry grinned. "You realize it worked out perfectly for you, then?"
She raised her head, a smile slowly spreading across her face. "Huh. I guess it did."
"Seems like a great waste of time," Harry mused. "Could have spared myself a lot of trouble if I'd just seen what was right under my nose all along."
"Mmmhmm – you could have spared us both a lot of trouble. But it was worth the wait."
"Definitely," Harry replied.
"We should probably get back to the research," Hermione said, attempting to wriggle out of his grip.
"Or we could go upstairs and put the Room of Requirement to good use," he suggested, hoping he could distract her from the books with his mouth.
"Harry, honestly, you can't use snogging to get out of researching every time. It must be done. But…as it's only the first day of school, I suppose, just this once…we might take a little break."
"I agree completely. We'll get back to the researching tomorrow. Better things to do for now. C'mon," he said, enthusiastically pulling her up with him. They left the books strewn across the floor as they rushed upstairs under the Invisibility Cloak.
Voldemort's soul fragments could wait. For now, Harry was going to enjoy his latest discovery.
A/N: Well, I'm sure you all didn't see that coming…snogging in the library…goodness.
For those who have been asking (relentlessly), yes, I will be finishing Kissing Lessons next. It's my top priority now.
Thanks for reading, everyone.