Thunder raged above the rooftops of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry where hundreds of children resided. Loud rumbles sent ripples of shock across the sturdy structure of the massive castle and though there was no doubt in any student's mind that the walls and ceilings could stand against the most gruesome of nature's deeds—they were able to do magic, after all—the eerie sound of angry clouds did not settle well while attempting to fall asleep. There had been plenty of thunderstorms at Hogwarts, each with their own mass of chaos and destruction, but none had ever been quite like this one.
While the students at Hogwarts—who were divided amongst themselves in accepting, or not accepting, the return of Lord Voldemort—ha been through their fair share of scary confrontations over the past four years. But it was their duty as maturing witches and wizards to learn and understand the basic complexities of spells and hexes, the ultimate point of which to use at their defense against the reemerging dark arts.
The question in everyone's mind, lingering uneasily late into the night, which each student was too ashamed to readily admit, was why each of them were frightened of this thunderstorm. Of course, the wind was blowing so fiercely that the walls even seems to shiver at the brisk wind, and outside the trees were bowing to the much more powerful gusts that could weave itself between their branches. The rain was pouring so hard there could have been five hundred drums beating arrhythmically in the courtyard down from his window.
But, in the end, it was still a thunderstorm.
Rain meant change; and since no one could predict change, the feeling was full of an uncertain anticipation. It as the aspect of a wizard's life in which he or she had to admit that they could use neither magic nor foresight to solve the upcoming events.
Least of the students to be scared should have been Harry Potter, currently regarded as the infamously notorious, trouble-causing celebrity that every student, teacher, and faculty inside Hogwarts either hated or adored. Having now battled the dark lord himself three times in four years, Harry had caught more than a glimpse, more than a taste of the dark arts and he could attest that standing in the presence of Lord Voldemort wasn't even comparable to the thunderstorm currently conducting itself outside the confinements of his Gryffindor dormitory.
Harry glanced towards his best friend Ron Weasley's bed, forgetting that his own hangings enclosed him in privacy, as he was sure Ron's were. Ron was such a heavy sleeper Harry was sure that when Ron practically passed out the moment he hit his pillow, he hadn't woken up once since. Neither a scream nor a howl would wake him.
At the moment, Harry half wished he had his invisibility cloak so he could sneak over to Ron's bed, making up a dumb excuse to see if Ron was having the same reaction he was to the perturbed weather. But he sighed, remembering all too well his other best friend, Hermione Granger, asked to borrow it for the night, something about not getting the permission form she needed to borrow a book from the restricted section of the library.
Thinking it over, Harry knew that not only would it be hard to make up an excuse to see Ron, because for once since the term had begun neither had homework over the weekend. If the other boys in the room saw his curtain move, and then Ron's, there would be some rumors floating around the entire school before breakfast. Harry Potter can face you-know-who but not a thunderstorm? What a scaredy-cat!
A bright, wall-shaking burst of lightning jolted Harry from these thoughts. As much as he desired going over to Ron's bed, he resisted, telling himself that it was just a thunderstorm and there was no way a lightning bolt could strike him as long as he stayed indoors. He couldn't imagine wanting to venture out in this weather anyway.
No sooner had he thought this than the curtain to his own bed opened and he jumped nearly two inches up from his mattress. He looked carefully, the curtain was opened slightly, but no one was there.
"Who's there?" Harry whispered, drawing his sheets up to his chin as though they were protection from whatever evil might be lingering in the darkness. A tuff of brown curly hair revealed itself in midair, and seconds later Hermione slipped his invisibility cloak from her head, revealing only her head, and a panicked look strewn warily across her face.
Harry caught his breath, swallowing the enormous lump that had formed in his throat, and before saying anything, took several seconds to regain the couple moments he had lost.
In deep couplets of breath, he finally managed to speak. "What is it?" he asked, very concerned by the look on her face, not to mention the fact that he was standing at his bed in his dormitory.
Still looking panicked, she kept her body hidden, and her voice low. "Oh Harry! Please don't be upset!" She glanced to her left, at the stirring of Dean Thomas. "I…I…" she stumbled across her words, looking for a way not to sound incredibly foolish in what she was trying to say.
But Harry didn't need to hear it; he knew what she was talking about. She was scared. Through all the brains and wisdom buried under her mass of brown, curly hair, which had been slowly taming itself over the years, Hermione still feared some things that came as a great surprise to Harry.
Instinctively, he reached out for her and pulled her onto his bed, refastening the drapes where she had been standing. She took off the invisibility cloak and wrapped her arms around Harry, gently letting out spurts of muffled sobs, nothing louder than a low murmur. He could feel wet spots beginning to form on the shoulder of his pinstriped pajamas. She was much better at stifling her tears than Cho, who didn't seem to care where or when she cried, what she cried about, or even that she seemed to be doing it constantly. But Harry knew Hermione, and she didn't let her colors show this vividly unless something was really bothering her. At least he knew why she was crying.
After a moment of sitting with her, softly rubbing her back, he felt himself pulling her down to a horizontal position next to him, helping her under his covers, still in the warm embrace he had been greeted with. After what seemed like ten minutes, her sobs had turned to sniffles, and then to deep breaths.
"Feeling any better?" Harry asked. His eyes were wide with worry, yet soft with a compassion that surprised him. Here he was, breaking about four rules—which of course he was well accustomed to doing—of which Hermione was in his bed, wrapped in his arms, under his covers. It was a strange and comforting feeling, and he was dying to know what Hermione was thinking.
She nodded into his shoulder, not yet coming up with words. They laid there for several minutes before Hermione tilted her head back to look at him. They locked eyes and, over the next couple moments, found themselves becoming lazily lost in a gaze they had not shared before. Harry had never noticed the depth of her brown eyes, the meaning behind them, or their perfect shape on her face as though they completed a mark of who she was. The freckles she still had from her summer holiday emphasized her eyes, pushing the color in her face collectively into an emission from her eyes.
Hermione smiled when she read the perplexed look on his face, and in a way, he could tell she was thinking the same thing.
Not knowing where the urge came from, he slowly lowered his head, closing his eyes, realizing that as he was doing so Hermione was doing the same. Just hours ago, he was doing the same thing with Cho, except he had no idea what she was about to do and had no control over the situation. It had been awkward, wet, and overall, unmemorable. But when his lips connected with Hermione's, a surge of energy pulsated through him, giving him a natural confidence and a knowledge of all things uncertain he had not felt with Cho.
It was a while before they realized that they were still kissing, getting lost into the definition of each other's lips, exploring each other's mouths. Harry had let one of his hands slip down to her waist, where he had pulled her in more tightly, as his other hand stayed draped around her neck, still embracing her in a hug. Mutually, they pulled away, once again catching the gaze they had become entranced in before.
Sheepishly, Hermione smiled coyly, lowering her head so that her forehead was resting against Harry's chest. She seemed to fit so perfectly into his arms.
"Believe it or not," Hermione whispered, looking back into Harry's eyes, "I didn't come here for this." Harry gave her a quizzical look. "No, I mean, I was scared of the thunderstorm…" she said, quickly rephrasing her comment, "not what…just happened." She sighed, realizing she had barely said two words since she had gotten there, and who knew how long it had been.
A strike of lightning made them both jerk out of their star-struck stupor and Hermione did her best to hide herself in Harry's shirt, muffling a cry that she so desperately wanted to let out. Harry brought her in closer, if that was possible. He felt the nice curves of her body pressed against his, adoring the feeling of holding her in his arms. It was strangely comfortable and natural, both of which he never would have expected.
After a couple moments of silence from the threatening outdoors, Hermione retreated from Harry's chest, back up to her spot on his arm. Suddenly, a look of concern crossed over her face.
"What is it?" Harry asked worriedly, wondering if he was crushing her, or hurting her in some way.
A silent gasp emitted from her lips. "Harry…what about Cho?"
For a moment, bewilderment crossed over his face and asked, "Who…?" Then, dumbly, he restated, "Oh, Cho, yes. Well…pity bringing her up at a time like this." Hermione gave him an awestruck smile, looking as if she had just passed all her OWLs with flying colors. She reached up and gave him a kiss, reaffirming that she had appreciated what he had just said, though he didn't quite known what he'd done.
He turned himself so he was more on his back than his side, his arm still around her neck, and allowed Hermione to scoot into the bridge of his shoulder and side, a perfect sized compartment for her head. They laid there for a while, both mesmerized by what had just taken place. Neither could find much to complain about.
Dangerously, they began to ignore the pitter-patter and rumble of the noise outside, and found themselves drifting to sleep.