Title: Loving Her
Length: 2,300 words
Disclaimer: Disclaimed

IIIII

The Gryffindor Common Room was strangely quiet. Usually, this kind of tranquillity only descended on it at the time of the summer holidays.

However, today was an exception, as after making crude jokes about imbecile 'ferrets', and celebrating another spectacular Gryffindor victory over Slytherin till late hours of the night (morning), everyone had felt too drained to continue, and after a chorus of good-nights had gone back to their dorms.

Everyone, that is, except a brown-eyed, pretty redheaded girl of about sixteen, sitting in the shadows, with her head on the table, and her arms forming a cushion for her head to rest on.

Abruptly the common room door opened to allow three decipherable forms room.

IIIII

I watch them in silence. The shadows around my face too dense to allow them to see me.

They're finally back. It's funny that the Quidditch crazed fans never realized that their seeker and keeper, who'd gotten them the victory, were missing.

They're sitting down on the couches, too exhausted to speak. When other teenagers go out on amorous rendezvous, they're here, planning on how to salvage the world from impending doom.

There's something about their faces that strikes me. They're so mature. Not the faces of carefree seventeen year olds, but the faces of world weary travellers, awaiting their fate. I see this- mother has seen this- the Order sees this- maybe this is why they were so pampered during the holidays.

It may be their last.

The Golden Trio

That's what the school calls them, or the Dream Team. Anything to make them stand out. Anything to isolate them from being average.

They're so different from each other. Opposites. Or complements. I haven't been able to tell which.

Harry- the hero.

Destined to save the world from iniquity. Famed all throughout our world. Captain of an exceptionally good Quidditch team.

And the all around nice guy-- sensitive, caring, understanding, gentle……The guy whom every girl fancies as her 'Prince Charming' and 'Knight in Shining Armour' and also my boyfriend.

Ron- the comic sidekick.

Overshadowed by his much more famous best-friend, he's the guy searching for his fifteen minutes of fame. Always trying to establish himself, but never winning, for after all, Harry's the hero.

He's the guy trying to remain in the limelight, but never succeeding, for after all, Harry's the hero. He's the comic, who can make people laugh and forget him in ten seconds ...and also my brother.

Hermione - the brain

This is what stops, Harry and Ron from going down in History as just another superhero and his sidekick. Hermione Granger, the brains of the trio. The witty, smart woman, who makes them keep their eyes on the goal. She's their paradise.

The girl who gives them her whole hearted sympathy, when they're having problems. The girl, who remains in the shadows and yet helps them in ways that they can't even begin to unravel. Ron's girlfriend- and my best girl-friend and Harry's...? Is there a word for it yet? I don't know.

This is the soap opera of their life. They're living in a surreal world. Unconnected to anything around them. Their lives are ethereal.

They're so deliciously imperfect. All three of them. They veil themselves under a façade of achievements. Trying to achieve normalcy, which threatens to elude them. Trying to hide their flaws, in the limelight of glory. Trying to be faultless…but never succeeding.

Harry tries playing hero and makes mistakes….Ron tries to be faithful and fails. Hermione tries to be perfect

Theirs is a story, a fantasy, a legend. They're the ones who never get wounded, who never yield to temptation, who never think of themselves, or that's what every nameless, faceless person sees them as.

Heroes.

But I see them; I notice them……and each time I'm struck by how human they are. Trying to fight their destiny's together. Trying to get out of the worldly burden placed on their still-young shoulders. Trying to be every other teenager of the world.

And yet, even as they sit there, discussing a matter which will eventually decide the future of the wizarding world, not even sure if they'll live to welcome tomorrow; I see them as they are, not as heroes, but all so perfect in their imperfections. I see them as three friends, laughing together…and fearless, if only for a day.

Because whatever happens, they're with each other.

IIIII

I'm so caught up in my own fantasy; I don't notice that Ron has stood up. He looks tired but contented. All the childish innocence in his face may have gone, but that smile on his face has gained the sensitivity that it lacked earlier. The eyes may have lost their exuberance but they've got a twinkle in them that shows- Ron has learned to laugh at himself.

He says goodnight to them. Hermione kisses him on the nose and he laughs, playfully teasing her. Something quite like envy flashes through Harry's eyes, but it's gone before I can make sure.

So they're alone. Except for me, but they don't know that. They're laughing over something Ron had said earlier. She mischievously punches him and he retaliates by gently pulling her hair. Their eyes meet over the sofa. And suddenly there's silence. Their laughter seems to have been caught in their throats. (Breathe, are you breathing?)

My throat chokes up. How could I have been so blind? Why didn't I see the signs before?

Or maybe- I didn't want to see them. I was so blinded by my passion for him, that I ignored everything else. I ignored every single indication. Even when doubt passed through my mind, I laughed it off.

They've started looking uncomfortable now; their eyes are curtained, hiding everything they feel. She says something about how he must be tired and should go to bed, but he's adamant and he tells her to go, he'll finish the work himself.

She looks at him and sighs. If I know anything about her, she'll stay. She would have stayed for Dean, and this is Harry.

He loves her.

Three words. (Truth flashing in every letter). He does love her. I see the elation in his eyes, when she laughs at something he's said and her eyes sparkle.

I see the pain reflected in his eyes, when anyone says something to her, which hurts.

I see the want in his eyes, when she's with Ron, fooling around; unable to see how much he loves her.

I see the desire in his eyes, whenever she teases him or holds his hand.

(I see the love whenever… he looks at her).

I know now, why is it that Harry's laugh, made so rare by the loss and evil all around him, only bursts forth at Hermione's childish petulance, and motherly advice.

He loves me too. I know that. It's all the same. And yet it's different. Who would've thought

It hurts.

It hurts to have your dreams crash around you like waves on a stormy night.

But suddenly realization sets in like a ton of bricks. Only we four are blind, blinded by our fear of losing someone we love. Everyone else has noticed, and they manage to convey it through small gestures. Not wanting to break the castles we build in the air.

It strikes me now, I never thought about wondering why Neville gets up from his seat, next to Harry, as soon as he sees Hermione arriving and courteously offers it to her. Why he puts up such a fight, if anyone else asks for the honour of sitting next to the Boy-Who-Lived. He's seen it, he understands, and he's trying to lessen the blow that will fall.

I never thought about wondering why Dean keeps up a light-hearted banter with Hermione, continuously teasing her about her 'mystery-man' and giving ridiculous descriptions in which at least five parts of Harry find their way. She doesn't notice, but I can see it now.

I never thought of wondering; why Seamus tells Harry everything that happened during the day, describing each of his encounters with Hermione in great length and detail, elaborating on every fact, and praising Hermione, while all the time subtly watching the flicker of emotions over Harry's face. I used to think Seamus liked Hermione, but I know the truth now.

I never stopped to wonder why Lavender suddenly tried to get Hermione to dress up 'as a sophisticated witch should.' And when Hermione refused, why she dropped hints about how Harry had once told her that he liked that particular shade of lipstick or that a particular colour would look good on her.

Hermione still refused, but I can see now that she had read between the lines and cottoned on to the meaning behind Lavender's seemingly innocent words. Maybe that's why she refused to go in a room if Lavender and Parvati were chatting with her best friends.

I never wondered why Parvati always asked Hermione about details of Harry's life, his likes and dislikes, personal favourites, the loves of his life and even how good a kisser he was. Never me. Never. I always thought that was because Hermione had known Harry for a long time and so she knew all of this about him. (Why? Why?)

It's all so clear now. Why Luna always dragged me to Hogsmeade and made me comment on how cute the guys were. Why she always made me talk to new people in hopes I'd like one of them more than Harry. Even she had seen, in her ethereal stances, what I was too blind to see with both eyes firmly set in reality.

Malfoy's seen it. I never thought of wondering why that unholy smirk on his face widens a considerable length, whenever he says something to Hermione, and Harry immediately comes to her defence. He feels sorry for them, I've seen it in his eyes whenever he pushes Hermione slightly and she falls towards Harry. Hmm...He feels sorry for them, maybe he'll turn out to be human after all.

Pansy's seen it. I never stopped to wonder why she always makes fun of how Harry and Hermione are ideal for each other, as both are fools who don't know better, even though she knows perfectly well that Harry's dating me and Hermione's dating Ron. (Obvious. So obvious).

Ron's seen it. He refuses to acknowledge it, just like the rest of us. But he's seen. I know he has, whatever anyone else might say, he's not dense. He knows they're in love with each other, how much ever they might try to hide it. It hurts him, as much as it hurts me…but he's learnt to accept it…His eyes are free of resentment, when he watches them together.

I never thought of this before, but looking at her, I can tell honestly that Hermione's seen it. She's clever…she sees the signs faster than us. She doesn't know that Harry likes her, but she knows that her feelings for Harry are more than strictly platonic. It frightens her.

That is why she hasn't been alone with Harry in a room, since a long time. That is why she's making an extra effort to be with Ron and talk to him, whenever she can. That is why she talks only about distinct subjects with Harry. That is why she makes an additional endeavour to leave me alone with Harry whenever she can. That is why she tries her best not to let anything get physical while with Harry. (Because it's so easy to lose control. Just one chance. Just one word, and maybe…)

I also know that both of them would not betray us for the world. Even though Ron and I are training wheels in a bicycle, they will not do anything to hurt us. They love us too much for that. They'd rather ignore all their emotions, than do anything less than friendly. They'll keep up the façade for our sake.

I look at them now, sitting and writing the future of this world. Stealing glances when the other is not looking. My heart breaks in a million pieces. Tomorrow I'll be with my friends...but tonight I'm alone.

Tomorrow, it'll be okay (itwillitwill) but tonight- God, it hurts.

I wish I could hate them. Hate them and let it go. Curse them in my mind. But, I can't.

I just…can't.

It'll pass. (Today. Tomorrow. Someday. Maybe). Every day has a three o' clock. But every night has a dawnbreak. It just takes time. It's stupid, it's foolish and it hurts. But I know.

This is his nirvana. Loving her. It's breathing to him.

IIIII

Hermione looked at her watch, "Harry!" she said protesting "Its three o' clock. We've got Double Potions tomorrow. Snape will kill us if we don't come bright and early."

"Aw…Hermione" said Harry, making lost-little-boy eyes "Come on, just half an hour more"

Hermione sighed, she was a total sucker for that look and Harry knew it. "Fine" she agreed albeit reluctantly "Just half an hour."

Harry gave her a half-smirk (which screamed Sucker) before bending his head again.

Hermione's heart went out to him. She rarely saw that smile any longer. She shifted slightly, uncomfortable being in such close proximity with the man she l...iked (no, no, no she didn't, she didn't goddamn you). Her eyes fell on a figure in the darkened corner of the room.

"Harry' she said softly "Ginny's fallen asleep here. Should I take her up?"

Harry looked at the form of his girlfriend "Not now. You can take her up later. First tell me how this jinx…"

IIIII

In the other corner of the room, a pair of rosebud lips formed a half smile, as the brown-eyed, pretty redheaded girl of about sixteen, closed her eyes to finally allow the blissful sleep that had been evading her since days.

IIIII

Fin.