She forced a smile; the twins, Ginny and Ron laughed happily.
She could not do it, laugh happily like them, for her mind was set in other things. Harry… Where was he? She hadn't seen him all night and kept glancing around the huge room expecting to see him among the pairs that danced happily, or chatting with the people from the Order. But there was no sight of him and she was worried. So worried she even had to restrain herself from biting her nails.
She glanced around once again. She spotted Fleur, in her beautiful pearly white wedding dress, chatting to some friends while Bill held her hand. She saw Mrs. Weasley talking animatedly to Charlie and his new girlfriend, and Mr. Weasley discussing a Quidditch match with Kingsley, Tonks, Lupin and others. She was happy that, even in the middle of war, they could stop with all the stress and worry it had brought and have some good times. But she could not, not when Harry was out of sight.
"… don't you agree, Hermione?" asked Ginny.
"Hum… Sorry, I didn't…", she felt herself blush slightly for being caught unaware like this.
"Are you okay?" they were all staring at her with a mist of interest and preoccupation.
"Hum, it's just too… hot, in here. Actually, I was thinking of going outside for a bit of air."
"Do you want me to go with you?" Ginny offered.
"There's no need for that, thanks." She informed, already leaving the four of them and crossing the room to reach the door. Once she got outside, she regretted that she had not brought her jacket, as a cool breeze caressed her naked arms and neck, making her hair flutter behind her.
Looking around, at the garden, (something she had done so many times before that day) she noticed a shadow, his shadow, leaning against the wall with his arms around his knees and his face buried on them.
"Have you been here all night?" she asked, as she got near him and sat by his side, imitating his position.
"Yes." He didn't even need to look up to know who had asked such question. "But I knew there would be someone noticing that."
She smiled and gazed at the place, breathing in and out softly, shivering because of the cold breeze.
They stood like that for a while, each lost on its own thoughts. She couldn't help but smile at the situation – how much could two humans say without the need for words? She respected his silence; once he wanted to talk to her, he would, and there was no need to put pressure on him.
The once soft and gentle breeze had become colder and stronger; she shivered more violently. "What's wrong?" Harry asked, looking up at her the first time that night, only to notice that all she had on was her dress. He undressed jacket and put it over her shoulders. "Here. It's not warm but it'll help."
"What about you?"
Silence again. Not the uncomfortable, ice cold silence. The kind of silence friends could have; the kind of silence that represented the trust between them, the level of respect and care they had for each other. She smiled again at the thought of these wordless conversations they had, almost like telepathy.
She didn't want it to end. They both knew what had to be said and they could conform with it as long as it was a thought but once they said it aloud the whole thing would look so… official. Almost like, if they only thought about it, there was the hope, the imagination, the possibility of something different; once it was said, it all seemed real.
"What if I'm not ready, Hermione? I was just beginning to learn, but… What if I can't do it? It's just… It's all going to fail, isn't it?" He looked up at her, sadness across his green eyes. She didn't answer. "I, I can't do it. I'm too young! I'm not ready. He's one of the most powerful wizards ever and I'm just… just a kid…"
Hermione blinked. There it was; all he had to do was confess his fears, admit that he was scared, and the world came crashing down. All the tiny bits of happiness in their bodies had been ripped from them… All he had to do was speak it aloud to make it feel like there was no hope.
She breathed slowly; she was even more afraid than him, but she was there to help him, to make him have strength, not to go down with him.
"No, you're not." She said it softly, patiently, but firmly enough to make him calm down. "Harry, you… you got to have a bit of faith."
"Yes, faith. My father said we had to have faith in ourselves and in the others. It's unbelievable how he was both a man of science and of faith. I would ask him what faith was… he would tell me it was one most hard feeling to explain, but very simple. He told me it was to truly believe in something. I never had an idea of what he meant with that, until I met…" she breathed in slowly "… you."
"Yes… Until I met you… Do you even have any idea of what you mean to the whole wizarding world? You… You represent hope; people have faith in you, they think that you're the world's chance of going back to peaceful times, they think you actually have a chance. They hold you in such a high position. It's like you're a light at the end of the tunnel, really."
"That's why I don't think I'm going to make it. It's… It's so much pressure. It's everywhere I go, I see smiling faces, people I don't even know come to me and shake my hand and… they're smiling, like they actually know I'll win it. I… What if I fail, what if I disappoint these people?"
"There's no need to worry; you'll be dead by then." It was hard for her to go so straight to it like this, but Harry needed it. Suddenly, she felt herself gasp for air at the thought of Harry actually being dead – she had thought about it many times, but never had she said it aloud.
"Well…" He didn't know what to say; somehow, he wanted to insist on it, to make her tell him he was right, to make her tell him he was miserable and would fail… but she had a point. She had said the truth and taken the words out of his mouth. "You never knew faith until you met me? Does that mean you're one of those who somehow think I'll win?"
"I don't think, Harry; I know so. But it's different; I have faith on you, because you're my friend, I know you, I'd trust you with my life. When I met you, really met you, you had no fear to move on. How was I supposed not to believe you could do it? You were so… fascinating, it was hard not to admire you! But that's not my faith for you, now it's different – then, it was faith in the idea of you being able to defeat Voldemort; now, it's faith in you, as a person. Because I trust you, I am… connected with you. I mean, you can understand me when I don't say anything, you know what to do in the right time. I can tell you all my troubles and I have no secrets with you. I…"
She stopped and breathed, only then noticing how vivid she had been when telling him this, like a fire growing bigger and stronger, its flames higher and higher. She felt her blood raise up to her cheeks.
He was staring at her, his green eyes stuck on her face, a confused, surprised, expression upon his face. He locked her eyes in his and they stood like that for a while, until he spoke.
"You don't need to say it."
"I…" she re-started. She knew he knew; they both did. But as long as they only thought about it, it wasn't a problem; if they spoke it aloud, then… who knew what could happen? Yet she felt compelled to say it, seduced by her own tongue and the danger her words might held. She couldn't say it; she had never even admitted it to herself! "Harry, I…" She didn't need a mirror to know that her cheeks were red. "I…" she looked away, because she knew that if she looked into his eyes, her voice would fail and she wouldn't be able to say anything.
She turned her head to look at him, confused, but it just made her more surprised as, suddenly, his lips met hers, in the sweetest kiss she'd ever tasted.