Tingle by Gluglug

Disclaimer The Harry Potter universe and all the characters in it belong to J. K. Rowling. No infringement intended, just borrowing.

Plot summary: Yeah, it's another post HBP H/Hr – but it's my first foray into HP fanfic land. Takes place well into year 7. H/Hr are staying at Grimmauld Place – working together to find the Horcruxes. They have grown closer, yet aren't in a romantic relationship (yet?). They are together almost 24/7, even sharing the same bed. Story is told from Hermione's POV.

Hermione Granger lay wide-awake in a four-poster bed while Harry Potter snored lightly next to her but it wasn't his snoring that kept her awake. She had a lot on her mind, which wasn't unusual. Even as a small child her insatiable intellectual curiosity always kept her mind active, even as she would try to sleep. But these current thoughts had nothing to do intellect, even though she had spent the better part of the past six months doing research to help Harry find the Horcruxes they desperately needed to finally rid the world of the scourge named Voldemort.

She hated that name. While most in the wizarding world dare not speak his name out of fear, Hermione's distaste was mostly borne out the pain that creature caused Harry. Hermione glanced over at his sleeping form. Just then, his snoring stopped as he rolled over onto his side, toward Hermione, his arm landing across her stomach. He'd been doing that a lot lately, she mused.

One recent night he actually snuggled against her as he slept. Hermione wondered if Harry was aware on some level what he was doing. Perhaps he was imagining that she was Ginny. She assumed that he missed her terribly although Harry never verbalized those feelings. He wasn't the type to say, "I miss Ginny" out of the blue and she never really asked him, not really wanting to know the answer. He never asked her if she missed Ron, either, whom she did, just not in the way she assumed Harry thought.

Soon after Dumbledore's funeral, she and Ron started dating. They had stopped fighting and grown closer. Ron seemed different, more mature and Hermione thought she finally had what she wanted. But being Ron Weasley's girlfriend was much different from her fantasies. They had fun together but something was missing. When he kissed her, her insides didn't melt like she had thought they would.

As the weeks progressed, she hoped she would feel differently but it was like dating a brother. She didn't want to break Ron's heart but one day she finally told him how she felt. To her relief, Ron felt the same way. In retrospect, maybe all those years of bickering weren't solely because of sexual tension, but more akin to siblings scrapping with each other.

Hermione and Ron agreed on another thing – they decided to keep their break-up a secret from Harry. Although never explicitly expressed amongst the trio, it was understood that Ron and Hermione should be together in case Harry didn't survive his battle with Voldemort. It was one less thing that Harry should worry about, knowing that his two best friends had found love and comfort in each other in his absence.

They had done a good job of keeping up appearances, holding hands and occasionally snogging in front of Harry. But then Ron's mother suddenly became ill and he returned home to the Burrow two months ago to help take care of her and maintain the house while his father and older brothers worked extra hours to pay for her care. Ginny decided to stay home as well and took time off from her sixth year at Hogwarts to look after her mum.

Hermione missed Ron's friendship and her heart ached for him and his family, knowing that Molly might not survive the year. She had shed many tears over Ron's leaving, but it had more to do with worrying about him losing a loved one, rather than missing her boyfriend. Harry was none the wiser. It was better this way… or was it?

Hermione felt Harry's grip on her tighten a little. She turned to watch him; his face illuminated by the pale full moon outside the window. She noticed his closed eyes twitching and realized that he must've been dreaming. Hermione hoped that it wasn't another nightmare about Voldemort. Harry had last had one two weeks ago, the last time she had slept in her own bed. Her mind wandered back to that night.

She was in a deep sleep, dreaming about finding another Horcrux, when she heard an agonizing scream. It took her a moment to realize that the scream was coming from across the hall and not a remnant from her dream. Hermione pulled back the covers and ran in her bare feet across the hall to Harry's room, grabbing a lantern to light her way.

She quickly opened the door and saw Harry thrashing around in his four poster, yelling "Noooooo!" Hermione set her lantern down on his nightstand and gently grabbed him by the shoulders.

"Harry, wake up!" She commanded and he opened his eyes. He looked around, taking in his surroundings.

"Hermione?" he rasped.

"Yes, it's me. It's okay, you just had another nightmare." She said firmly, staring at his bright green eyes as they darted around the room, willing them to stop and look back at her.

His breath slowed a little and Hermione felt herself being pulled into Harry's arms. His heart hammered against her chest and she felt the sweat from his soaked t-shirt absorbing into her thick cotton nightgown.

They sat there for a few minutes as Hermione gently murmured words of comfort into Harry's ear. She couldn't stand to see him like this, feeling powerless to stop the terrors that invaded his dreams on almost a nightly basis.

Finally Harry pulled away from her. "Sorry," he said sheepishly.

"It's all right. You have nothing to be sorry for."

"I feel terrible that I keep waking you almost every night. When was the last time you got a good night's sleep?"

Hermione wasn't surprised by his question. This was typical Harry; concerned about others when he should be concerned about himself.

"When was the last time you got a good night's sleep?" She countered.

Harry chuckled. "When I was ten?"

She gave a rueful laugh and then asked what she always did after his nightmares.

"Do you want to talk about it?"

"No." Harry said shaking his head. Hermione didn't want to push so she asked the usual second question.

"How is your scar?"

She saw him wince as he touched his forehead. "It's throbbing – but it's better than it was the last time."

Hermione sighed. Not only did he suffer from nightmares but he had to deal with his painful scar as well. A bit of inspiration hit her. She remembered as a child she had been learning to ride a bicycle when she fell and skinned her knee. Little Hermione cried as her mother cleaned and bandaged the wound. When she was done, her mother leaned down and kissed her bandaged knee. Suddenly it didn't hurt so much. What if….?

She leaned in and kissed Harry's scar gently.

As she pulled back, she looked at him intently. "How does it feel now?"

Harry stopped wincing and looked at her quizzically. "That's strange. The pain's gone. Not only that, it tingles."

"Really, it worked?" Hermione was relieved.

"Did you do some kind of spell?" Harry asked.

"A spell?" Hermione shook her head, amused. "No, it's just an idea I had." She went on to explain about her childhood memory and the effect her mother's kiss had on the pain. She watched Harry's reaction. He nodded and looked a bit wistful.

"I wish I had a story like that to tell. I have no memory of my mum's kiss."

Her heart ached at this admission but before she could respond Harry said, "Do it again."

"Do what, kiss you…I mean your scar?" She stammered. "Does it hurt again?"

"No, but I want to check something." Harry replied.

Hermione took a breath and leaned in again, pressing her lips a bit more firmly atop his scar. She lingered a little longer than the first time before pulling back to find Harry grinning at her.

She felt her face flush. "What is it?"

"The kiss made my scar tingle again. Isn't that odd?"

Hermione didn't know what to make of this. She had hoped that the kiss would help with the pain but what was this tingling he was feeling? She decided to ask him a delicate question.

"Harry, has your scar ever been kissed before?"

It was his turn to blush. "Um, I think so. I'm pretty sure Ginny has kissed me there, although generally my forehead was not her intended target."

Hermione stifled a giggle at his comment, but tried not to think about Harry making out with Ginny.

"Did it ever tingle, you know, when she kissed you there?"

"No, but I seem to remember other parts of me tingling." Harry shot back, smirking.

Hermione grabbed a pillow and hit Harry with it in the chest. "You are such a male!" She yelled in mock anger.

Harry threw the pillow right back at her, which Hermione caught and then hugged as she lay down on the bed.

"Well, I would certainly hope so." Harry replied with a chuckle as he lay down beside her, propping up his head on his elbow.

"So, Professor Granger, have any theories why my scar tingled when you kissed me, er it?"

Hermione had a theory but she wasn't sure if she should share it with him right now, especially considering their current location.

"I'm working on it," was all she would allow.

"Okay, but let me know when you have it worked out. I'm really curious."

Hermione yawned, hoping to change the subject. "I guess I should go back to bed – you seem to be in a much better state than the one I found you in."

Harry had turned onto his back. "Or you could stay." He said sleepily.

Hermione's heart accelerated at these words. "You want me to stay?"

"You just seem really comfortable already. Besides if I have another nightmare, you won't have to run across the hall." He said before dropping off to sleep.

So she stayed with him that night and every night since. They had both decided it was best that she sleep in his room in case something happened. Coincidentally, the nightmares ceased once she started sleeping next to Harry.

Hermione held her breath as Harry's grip grew even tighter across her ribcage, but then he relaxed it and she exhaled. She didn't want him to have any more bad dreams. He'd had more than his share of them and she wondered if perhaps her presence somehow stopped the nightmares from occurring. After all, if her kiss could stop his scar from hurting…

Get off it Granger. Do you really think that you are keeping Harry's nightmares at bay? Her conscience chided her.

Well I am a witch, perhaps there's some sort of nightmare protection charm I'm performing on Harry that I'm not aware of. She shot back, making a mental note to look that one up in the Black family library.

Don't delude yourself into thinking this is magic. You secretly wish that Harry fall in love with you and that your mere presence makes him dream about nothing but being with you.

Hermione was so shocked by this thought that she gasped. The nerve of her conscience, how dare she imply that her intentions were less than pure? She didn't want Harry to fall in love with her, did she? It would be too messy. And anyway, she was supposed to be holding up her part of the game, as Ron's girlfriend.

Still, she was tiring of the charade, especially since Ron was not part of their daily routine, at least for a while. And she didn't like lying to Harry. As best friends, the trio made a promise not to hide anything, especially as the final battle drew closer. Harry asserted that their bond must be stronger than ever in order to bring about Voldemort's destruction. That meant no lies, no secrets, and no hidden agendas; even if it meant that they revealed things the other didn't want to hear.

But what would happen if she told him that she and Ron had been pretending to be a couple? That not only meant revealing their deceit, but also the reason for it. They hardly ever spoke of the possibility of Harry's death, ever since he had revealed the prophecy to them last year. Hermione's biggest fear was losing Harry and she couldn't verbalize it - because if she did, the possibility would become real.

She never used to be like this. Hermione was the one person who always told him the truth, even if it meant telling him how scared she was. But that was when they were younger, things were a little simpler, and that was before she….

Oh screw it, Granger. Just admit you're in love with him.

At that moment, Harry shifted and turned over onto his other side away from Hermione. She immediately felt bereft by the loss of contact.

Oh dear Merlin. I am in love with him!


A/N: I know that Molly's illness is a plot device but I would imagine that even in the wizarding world, people do get sick and can't be cured by magic (hence St. Mungo's).