Chapter 17: Loneliness

Hermione stood before a table and cauldron trembling terribly. She had yet to start brewing the potion which Draco had suggested. Tens of times had she read the instructions, but fear's vice grip held her so tightly that she could not move. Tears were streaming down her cheeks as Hermione cried, terrified that because she cannot brew the potion, Harry's life will end. Even more horrifying was the thought that by brewing the potion, she would end Harry's life. As Hermione looked at the empty cauldron, fear slammed into her body ripping away all the strength she still had. She crumpled to the ground, unable to do anything but curl up into a ball and cry as she tried desperately to stop her trembling. But it was no use. Hermione was terrified. Terrified to the point in which she feared to overcome it.

Why? Was all Hermione could ask herself. Why is it that Harry is always there for her when it counts? Why is it that Harry can overcome any challenge to protect her when she needs it? And after all this, why is it that she, Hermione Jane Granger, brightest witch of the century, could not do the same for Harry? Why was she so useless in the most important of times? Why can she do nothing by freeze in fear and cry? Why couldn't she be more like Harry and confront her fears no matter how great? Why couldn't she have the courage to overcome her fears to save the life of her friend?

Never before had Hermione felt as alone as she did now. She had felt isolated when she returned to her parents, but it did not feel anywhere near as painful as it did now. Hermione's parents had just locked her in her room, taking away the possibility of socializing, but Hermione broke away with ease. But now, as she clung tightly to herself, Hermione felt as if the world around her was forcefully ripped away from her to keep her boxed in. Isolated so she could not break out. It was her prison. A prison that made sure Hermione would have no comfort during her stay. Joy, warmth, and comfort were stripped away from her soul as if someone had sent a Dementor upon her to feed off all that kept her alive. The loneliness tore into the core of Hermione's existence, draining her life away. There was no way of explaining the pain Hermione felt except that it hurt. It was hurting her so much that Hermione wished she could be numb from the pain, but she wasn't allowed such luxury. No. She was in a prison for the crime she committed. The betrayal of a friend. Hermione would receive no comfort as the guilt and loneliness ate away at her life. If only she had the strength and courage to stand up, but Hermione couldn't. She was too weak of a person. Too weak. Too foolish. Too dependent upon Harry.

Hermione could not help but realize how weak she was without Harry by her side. Hermione was not Harry's pillar of support, but Harry was hers. He was the one who helped her stand tall. Harry was the one who made it possible for Hermione to live in this world. She was not his light in his darkness, he was the light in hers. Never was there a time when Hermione felt as alone as she felt now. Harry was dying and his survival rested in her hands. Harry trusted Hermione with his life, but Hermione feared that she would be the one who will take it away. She might be the one who ends it. If she brew the potion, she would make a minor mistake and that would kill him. Hermione could not bear that thought. She could not live without Harry. Hermione loved Harry too much. Loved him more than she loved her own parents. Yes. Love. It may be just a lustful attraction. Or caused by the loneliness Hermione was suffering from. Or it might just be that Harry was dying. Hell, it might be all of these combined, but at this moment, none of that mattered. Hermione loved Harry as if he was the only thing in this world. She loved Harry as he was the only man who made life worth living.

"Please don't die, Harry..." Hermione whispered through her sobs as she pulled her arms tighter around her knees bringing them close to her body. "I love you too much for you to die."

Severus stormed through then entrance of Number 12, Grimmauld Place and not caring who he ran into. Nothing was more important to him than Harry. If Draco had not shown up when he did, Severus was sure he would have blasted his way through the Death Eaters and Voldemort just to be with his son. Yes. Harry was a son to him. A son he would sacrifice everything for.

"Albus!" Severus shouted out, calling everyone's attention. "Where's Harry?"

"In Sirius' bedroom," Dumbledore answered quickly as he made his way through the crowd to Severus' side. "Hermione is already working on-"

"Draco has informed me," Severus spoke quickly, cutting off the Headmaster. He did not have time to listen to the details. There was plenty of time to do that after the antidote was brewed and administered. Severus needed to get into the potions room and begin brewing an antidote before it was too late. As an experienced Potions Master, Severus knew there existed poisons in which antidotes did not exist, but if Harry was poisoned, there had to be an antidote. If one did not exist, Severus was sure to create one himself just to save Harry's life. "Do you have a sample of the poison?"

"Hermione took the blade which had the poison into the room with her," Dumbledore answered as he led Severus to the steps of the potion room. "Is there anything I can assist you with?"

"Yes," Severus answered. "Keep everyone from entering this room. If they do, don't expect me to let them come out alive."

Dumbledore nodded as Severus walked through the door and gently closed it behind him. No one was able to see into the room which was exactly what Severus wanted. And knowing the Potion Master, Dumbledore knew the words of Severus Snape was not to be trifled with. Especially when it came to Harry.

Albus slowly turned towards the crowd behind him and spoke, "Ladies and gentlemen of the Order, I kindly urge you to return to your seats and let Severus work undisturbed."

"Are you serious, Dumbledore?" Adam Winslet, a new member of the Order, asked over the crowd. "Snape is a Death Eater! He'll just brew up a poison that will kill Harry Potter!"

A roar of protests ensued which made Dumbledore glad he made sure the room was completely protected by magical charms. The wrath of Severus as a true Death Eater was fearful enough, but facing the wrath of Severus when Harry's life was on the line, that could only be described as committing suicide. Dumbledore doubted that he could restrain Severus should the latter happen.

With a wave of his wand, Dumbledore was able to silence the crowd. "As I have said on many occasions, I trust Severus with my life. And if Severus cannot brew an antidote to save Harry, then there exist no other Potion Master in this world or this time who can."

Unable to protest without a voice, the crowd comprised of the members of the Order retreated to the living room. There was nothing they could do aside from waiting. Dumbledore knew how nervous and scared they all were. He felt the same way, but Dumbledore had full faith in Severus. After all, Severus was not like Dumbledore when it came to family. To Severus, family came before everything else. There was never a moment Severus would think that his family was a bother. Was cumbersome. Severus would never abandon his family as Dumbledore had once did. Severus would never succumb to the calling of power when his family is in danger. And in this aspect, Severus was a greater man than Dumbledore. And it was because of this aspect Dumbledore entrusted Severus with his own life and the life of Harry.

As Severus walked into the potion's room, he found Hermione curled up in a ball and crying on the floor. His heart sunk as he knew how difficult it was for her. He had watched her grow up with Harry and knew how much Harry meant to Hermione. Harry always went out of his way to protect her. Hermione was not as weak as Harry made her out to be, but she was his first friend who did not befriend him because he was The Boy Who Lived and he wanted to protect her as much as he possibly could. For Hermione, Harry was her first friend who did not see her as simply the 'Brightest Witch of the Century', but a girl he could enjoy spending time with and having fun. To Harry and Hermione, they were the most irreplaceable people in their lives.

Severus could still remember how Harry picked Hermione up from the ground when she had her heart torn apart by Ron. It was in that moment that Severus began to see a deeper development of thier relationship. One that made the two interdependent on one another. At the same time, their growing love for one another pained Severus as he knew of their destiny. He knew that one day Hermione's life would become a sacrifice unless Harry can break Fate's hold on their lives. It would break Severus if he had to watch Harry collapse when Hermione was taken from his life. And in his gut, Severus knew that it would happen soon.

What pained Severus more was watching Hermione suffer because he was a double agent for Dumbledore. If only he could break free from his service to Voldemort, Severus could watch over Hermione and Harry and make sure neither would have to go through the pains he went through when James and Lily were murdered by the man he once was fully committed to serving. Had Voldemort not called him, Severus would have taken Harry in and immediately brewed the antidote, but instead, he had to wait at Voldemort's side as his son was dying.

Slowly, Severus knelt down to Hermione's side and placed a hand on her shoulders. "Hermione," he spoke gently. "Please forgive me for placing such a heavy burden upon your shoulders."

Severus wished those words were enough for the young lady, but it was not. Hermione just cried even harder, blaming herself for her weakness and incompetence and screaming that she had killed Harry. No, Harry was not dead. Not when Hermione was still alive. Not when Hermione was suffering. No, Harry was very much alive. Severus did not raise a son who would be so selfish to ask for death when there are still people who loved him waiting in the world of the living.

"Hermione," Severus spoke with a firm voice. "Pull yourself together. You are by far the most talented witch I have ever had the pleasure of teaching Potionmaking to. I dare say your talent rivals that of Harry's mother, Lily Evans. Sirius, Remus and I all have faith in your abilities, Hermione. Most of all, Hermione, Harry has absolute faith in you. Harry would trust you with his life and would not have a shred of doubt in his mind telling him that you cannot save him because he knows you can. You are not weak. Just scare as we all are. But you don't need to be anymore. We will save Harry together."

Hermione looked up into the black eyes of Severus Snape. The man before her was no longer the constantly angry Potion Master of Hogwarts. He did not have a scowl across his face. His voice was not snide and cruel. His eyes did not send shivers down her spine. Instead, worry was written all over his face. He, too, was on the verge of tears. Of all the years Hermione had seen her professor, never once had she ever seen his solid mask fade or crack. The gentleness of her professor's voice was what brought her back. It was so very like Harry's voice. Of course. It belonged to the man who raised Harry.

Through her sobs, Hermione nodded and stood up with the help of Severus. Once more, Hermione summoned her courage and looked at the instructions for the potion she was to brew. But as she read through the instructions, Hermione felt the fear returning. "For Harry," Hermione reminded herself as she tried to push the fear away. "This is what Harry would do for me." With those words, Hermione discovered that she was able to gain a bit of courage. That bit of courage was all she needed to overcome her fear and Hermione immediately began working on her potion.

Hermione sailed across the room as she gathered the ingredients and placed them next to her cauldron. She had no idea how natural she was working or how well the words, "Harry has faith in you," boosted her confidence. Hermione just worked as fast as she could and as normal as any other potion she made. The pressure was suddenly gone and Hermione was completely immersed into making the potion for Harry. This was her chance to finally take care of her best- no. This was Hermione's chance to take care of the boy she loved for once. Every time Hermione had gotten sick, Harry was always there providing her comfort and a potion to make her feel better. It was now that Hermione realized Harry had brewed each of the potions himself. Even the one he gave her before the Third Task of the Triwizard Tournament.

With those thoughts in her mind, Hermione poured every ounce of her feelings into making the potion. The fear of failing disappeared entirely, replaced by confidence that this potion would save Harry's life even if it wasn't the antidote to the poison flowing through his system. There wasn't a shred of doubt in Hermione's mind as she stirred the cauldron clockwise thrice, counter-clockwise twice and added the next set of ingredients.

Severus could not help but smile as he saw how diligent Hermione worked and how confident she was now that she knew how much faith Harry had in her. Watching Hermione work made Severus calm as well. His quivering hands were now as stable as it was every time he had to make this antidote. The greatest fear of his when it came to making this antidote was him unable to keep a steady hand. Severus knew that there were only two outcomes for this potion. If he succeeds, it would be an antidote able to cure the strongest Muggle poisons in existence. If he failed, the potion would turn into the deadliest poison in the world. The worst aspect of this potion was that it could not be stored for emergencies. Because of the strength of the antidote, leaving it in a vial longer than a day would melt away the glass. Also, making the potion took hours to finish which was why Severus needed someone to make the potion Hermione was brewing. And who else to choose other than the brightest witch of the century? Severus smiled again as Hermione finished the potion with ease and poured it into a small vial. She beamed at Severus with pride before walking out of the room, careful with the potion. Yes, Severus had chosen the right person to entrust the most important part of reviving Harry. And when this bloody war is over, Severus would not hesitate to hand Harry's life into Hermione's hands.

Hermione crept through the hall of Number 12 Grimmauld Place to avoid the impatient and growing crowd in the living room. As she reached the room Harry was placed in, Hermione could see Sirius and Remus pacing worriedly before the door. When the two men caught sight of her, Hermione could see them relax before opening the door allowing her to give the potion to Harry. The two gave her warm smiles as she passed by, but Hermione knew that the two were growing impatient. It was then Hermione felt her confidence fade. The fear was returning as she stepped into the room and saw Harry lying on Sirius' bed as if it was his deathbed. Harry lay perfectly still and wasn't breathing as the magical stasis had placed him in a frozen state of time.

Once the door closed behind her, all Hermione heard was her footsteps and the pounding of her heart. The closer she came to Harry, the louder and faster her heart beat. Her will was beginning to falter as Hermione reached the Harry's side. All the fears she had before were returning and echoing in her mind.

"Harry believes in me." Hermione spoke and felt some of her courage returning. She wondered if it was enough, but cared not to dwell on it as her courage would not last against her fears and her doubts. Gently, Hermione sat down next to Harry and pulled his head to rest on her lap. Since Harry was in stasis, he could not swallow, so Hermione needed to tilt his head to make it go down his throat. But that was not the only reason.

Hermione wanted to be close to Harry. As close as she possibly could be. Hermione wanted to be the one who protected Harry for once. Harry, who saved her life. Had he not intervened on the beach, it would Hermione lying in the bed and Harry sitting next to her with worry. It would be Harry brewing the potion Hermione had in her hand. And it would be Harry Hermione would first see when she woke up. Just like how Harry would first see her when he woke up.

Hermione placed the vial on Harry's lips and tipped it slowly so the potion would go down his throat. She watched patiently as the liquid slowly drain from the vial. When it was all gone, Hermione set the vial down on a nearby table before pulling Harry even closer to her body. She could not feel any warmth from his body, or any life as Harry was frozen in stasis. But just having Harry there with her, Hermione felt as if everything will be fine. Everything was always fine when Harry was beside her. It would be like every time Harry took her on Buckbeak to clear Sirius' name. Or when Harry held her as he summoned his Patronus. And just like the time Hermione had stolen a bottle of Firewhiskey after the Yule Ball to drown away her sorrows from Ron standing her up.

As Hermione put away her dress for the Yule Ball, she could not help but look over to where her original dress lay. It was torn into thousands of pieces and tossed into every corner of her room. It was originally a dress Hermione always dreamed of wearing to an event like the Yule Ball with someone she really liked. The dress was of the purest white and made of the finest silk. Golden thread was used to embroider two doves flying diagonally towards her right shoulder. The skirt of the dress was loose and wavy with a golden reflection. A pair of long white gloves with golden glitter was matched with the dress. On the back of the palms, it had a golden crescent moon woven in. Paired up with the dress was a golden tiara with several gems shining brilliantly in their sockets. It took a week of sending letters back and forth to her parents before Hermione was able to convince her parents to buy her the dress. It was one of the most expensive dresses in the world, save for the dress Harry bought for her in place of the dress she tore up. Hermione had seen that dress when she was a young girl and remembering how she dreamed of wearing the dress because it would make her feel like a princess.

And Hermione did like Ron, despite his open hostility towards her. She thought he actually cared, but was too childish to admit it. It had started out as a crush when Ron proposed to teach Hermione how to ride a broom. This was during their third year before Hermione started riding Buckbeak with Harry. At the time Ron was actually nice to Hermione. He helped Hermione each morning on mounting the broom, then taking her around the Quidditch field slowly. Ron was gentle then as he taught her how to make turns and even caught her when she fell. After a month, Hermione actually thought Ron like her. When Hermione began flying with Harry on Buckbeak's back, Ron turned hostile once more and Hermione thought Ron was just jealous.

Oh how wrong Hermione was about Ron. When Hermione approached Ron this morning to ask about the Yule Ball, she watched as Lavender, Pavarti, Vicky and Demelza all laughed in ridicule. They quickly began to poke fun at Hermione telling her what she had heard from them for all these years. On the verge of tears, Hermione pleaded to Ron to tell them how it was not true, but Ron just laughed at her and told Hermione to get lost as he never intended to go with her in the first place. Ron openly admitted that he hated her and purposely asked her to the Yule Ball to break her heart as he had heard rumors that she had a crush on him. As tears flowed from Hermione's eyes, Ron explained how he wasn't jealous the time Harry took over his role. Instead, Ron told her that he only taught Hermione how to fly because of a bet with Ginny. He lost when Harry stepped into the picture with Buckbeak as Harry was far more successful. Ron wasn't jealous at all. He was more upset that he had to teach her and lost the bet. Ron even admitted to having the idea of knocking Hermione off the broom once she was able to fly.

Crushed and speechless, Hermione dashed off and away from Ron as fast as she could. She could not believe how heartless the best friend of Harry's was. Through her sobs, Hermione could hear the laughing of Ron and the girls in mockery of Hermione's gullibility. At that point in time, Hermione just wanted to die. She was tired of life. She was tired of pain. She was tired of sorrow. She was tired of it all. As she reached her room, Hermione tore down her dress from the wall and ripped it to pieces. With Diffindo, Hermione slashed up her gloves and as for the tiara, she snapped it in two and tossed it at the window. She intended for it to go out, but missed completely. As it hit the ground, Hermione did not care enough to try again. All the planning. All the effort. All the excitement. All the joy. Everything was all for nothing. It was nothing but a prank to begin with and Hermione fell for it.

Tossing her torn dress aside, Hermione collapsed onto her bed and cried until no tears would come. At least she wanted to, but somehow Harry broke through the enchantments leading to the girl's dormitory and into Hermione's room. At first, Harry was just shocked to see Hermione in her state. He did nothing but walk over and gently sat down next to her while soothingly rubbed her back. Hermione never felt so much comfort before, but it was there. Harry then whispered that everything would be alright and that Victor was still waiting for her. Hermione had not believed it at first, but Harry proved his words true by inviting the Drumstrang Champion into the Gryffindor Common Room for the sole purpose of asking Hermione to the Yule Ball once more.

That event lifted Hermione's spirit, as well as finding a second dress, but now that the Yule Ball was over, Hermione felt alone once more. She had been betrayed by the boy she liked as well as the girls she thought were her friends. But no, Hermione didn't have friends. She was just a bossy know-it-all no one like and only wanted around to do their assignments. Harry probably was fed up with her as well. All Hermione did was cause Harry trouble time after time again. Each and every time, Harry had to come and save her from whatever mess Hermione created. She was pathetic. Hermione felt sickened by her existence as there was better things Harry could do with his time than spend it chasing after Hermione and fixing her broken life. It was a joke. Meaningless. Worthless. A waste of time.

Angry that she was just a parasite that attached herself onto Harry, Hermione stood up and walked into the kitchen where she had heard the twins talk about once before. As expected, it was filled with House Elves doing what humans would call slave labor if it was practiced upon other humans, but at this moment, Hermione was too angry at herself to care. She had also dragged Harry along into fighting for the rights of House Elves and any other race that was thought of inferior. It wasn't Harry's problem, yet Hermione made it his as if Harry should make it his problem. As if Harry was hers to use. Use. Yes, use. Hermione was a parasite upon Harry and all she did was use him for who he was.

Not wanting to be conscious of her thoughts any longer or remember them, Hermione called over an elf and ordered it to bring her a bottle of Firewhiskey. Hermione was sure it wouldn't work, but Fred and George had gloated about it hundreds of times before, so she thought she would give it a try. If it didn't work, Hermione knew enough spells to go steal a bottle herself. However, the house elf did as he was told and returned with a full bottle of Firewhiskey which Hermione took without a word of appreciation. She then returned to her room where Hermione grabbed her torn dress, gloves and broken tiara before storming out of Hogwarts to the nearby lake. When Hermione got to the edge of the lake, she tossed the dress, tiara and gloves on the ground before ripping open the bottle of Firewhiskey and began chugging it straight from the bottle. Alcohol was something Hermione never touched before and she felt the instantaneous burn of Firewhiskey as it went down her throat, but she did not care. Nor did Hermione count how many gulps of Firewhiskey she had before she stopped to take a breath. Hermione then drew her wand and lit her dress on fire, burning everything she once held precious. She let out a scream at the top of her lungs as Hermione hoped she could erase the events of this morning from her mind. Again she brought the bottle to her lips and downed more Firewhiskey.

That last bit of Firewhiskey made Hermione collapse to the ground. Her vision was blurry and her body burned. This told her that she had not had enough to drink. Once more, Hermione brought the bottle up and this time, she drained the bottle of whatever remaining Firewhiskey was left. Tears were still falling as the fire burning away her dress began to die out. Hermione only wished this night could be over, but it would not end without another confrontation with Ron. Horribly drunk and still feeling like the world was against her, Hermione collapsed against a tree only to hear the voice of Ron and several other boys she did not recognize. She looked over at the fire, but it was gone. Darkness fell over her vision, blinding the already blind Hermione, so she followed the voice. Stumbling along the woods barefoot, Hermione crashed into tree after tree cutting up her arms. Sharp stones peirced her feet, but the alcohol had numbed her from physical pain, but not emotional. Holding on tightly to her empty bottle, Hermione found her way right behind Ron. She let her anger take control of her body and Hermione swung the empty bottle with all her might. It crashed open upon Ron's head knocking the redhead over.

Hermione was about to scream something at Ron when a hand cupped over her mouth and a second wrapped around her body and pulled her away. A voice spoke out ordering the boys to take Ron to Madam Pomfrey to treat his head and the boys followed immediately. It was Harry's voice. Harry had come for Hermione once more. Harry had cleaned Hermione's mess again.

Hermione quickly tore away his hand to uncover her mouth and shouted, "Let go of me, Harry!"

Surprisingly, Harry followed her command and gently let her go, but Hermione was too drunk to stand and her knees gave way. Two arms quickly folded around her, catching Hermione before she fell. However, it was not enough. Hermione's instability caused Harry to crash down with her, but he still held her tight as he broke her fall.

"Why are you here?" Hermione shouted almost incomprehensibly as she swung her fists at Harry. Some pounded against his chest, others landed in his face, but he gave no indication it hurt or that it landed. "Stop interfering with MY life, Harry. Go live your own perfect life. You don't need me in it. I'm just a bother. A parasite. I do nothing but cause you trouble. I do nothing but cause you pain. I'm worthless, Harry. Let me be. Don't come near me because I'll just drag you down. One day you'll regret being my friend. One day I'll hurt you to the point you wish I didn't exist. So leave me alone, Harry. Let me die before I make you regret it!"

"Hush, Hermione," she heard Harry whisper in a soothing voice. He was holding her as tightly as he could, not wanting to let go in fear that if he did, Hermione would disappear from his life forever. It pained Harry to see Hermione in this state. He had not known how Hermione was able to get a hold of a full bottle of Firewhiskey, but Harry wished he could have prevented it. Harry wished he could have saved Hermione from all the pain she was feeling. The pain was so great Harry could feel it. What stung more was the words she was saying. Harry knew she did not fully comprehend what she was saying, nor did she mean it all, but at the given moment, it felt so real and true.

Against his chest, Harry could feel Hermione sobbing while trembling because of the cold night. He wrapped his cloak around her in hopes of keeping her warm, but Hermione fought against him every moment he held her. She wanted to escape from his comfort because he had provided her with a safe haven to retreat to too many times. Harry knew this, but he did not care. Hermione was one of two best friends. What kind of savior would Harry be if he turned his back on his closest friends? It was unfair to Ron that Harry chose to comfort his rival, but after the stunt Ron pulled this morning, Harry was not in a forgiving mood. Not when Hermione was crying her heart out in his arms.

"Hush, Hermione," Harry whispered again. "Everything will be alright. I promise."

"How?" Hermione choked out. "I'm a mess, Harry. I'm fucked up. I will screw up your life as well. I only drag you down. I do nothing for you. It's like Lavender said, I'm just a whore who brings shame to even the insult of Mudblood."

Pain shot through Harry's body as he shut his eyes hard, forcing his tears back. He could not stand to see Hermione like this any longer. He could not stand to just hold Hermione while she suffers alone. Harry wished as hard as he could to take as much of Hermione's pain away as he could while pulling Hermione closer and cradling her in his arms. If he could, Harry wished he could suffer in place of Hermione so she could be her cheery self once more. However, that realily would never come true. So Harry just held Hermione, whispering to her over and over that everything would be fine. It did not matter if Hermione believed it or not because Harry was sure to make her life right. It did not matter what it took or what he needed to sacrifice, Harry could not abandon his best friend when she needed him the most.

"Harry?" Hermione spoke in a calm voice. "I'm sorry."

"It's alright, Hermione," Harry answered as he rocked back and forth to comfort Hermione. Her body was calming down finally and she was not burning any longer. "You don't need to apologize for anything. You haven't done anything wrong, Hermione."

"It's okay if you want to leave," Hermione murmured, but she wanted Harry to stay. She wanted to be in his arms as they were the only safe haven in the world. There was no place Hermione felt more comfortable in than when Harry held her close. It was always safe with Harry. Hermione knew she relied on him for protection, but she did not know any one else who would do the same for her. "If I'm too-"

"Hush, Hermione," Harry cut her off. "I'm going to stay right here until I know that you are alright. I don't care what you say, Hermione, but you are not in any state to be wandering around alone. Sleep if you must, but I'll be right here when you wake up. I won't ever leave your side."

Hermione could not help but pull herself closer to Harry. It was not because she thought he would leave, but because he was now everything to her. "Harry, thank you. I can never thank you enough for what you've done for me, nor can I ever tell you how much I really love you."

With those words, Hermione drifted to sleep that night. She never knew how much those words confused Harry nor did Hermione remember saying those words until she thought of them now. Hermione wondered if she had been in love with Harry all this time, but was not conscious of it. But it didn't matter. Hermione was now sure she loved the boy she held in her arms. Slowly, Hermione leaned down and kissed Harry fully on the lips. Emotions poured out from Hermione's heart, filling her with warmth as she kissed Harry. And in this moment of time, Hermione did not care whether Harry loved her the same way in return. All that mattered was that Hermione loved Harry and she would be right there with him until he woke.