In My Secret Life

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Chapter One

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I saw you this morning.

You were moving so fast.

Can't seem to loosen my grip

on the past.

And I miss you so much.

There's no one in sight.

And we're still making love

In My Secret Life.

I smile when I'm angry.

I cheat and I lie.

I do what I have to do

To get by.

But I know what is wrong.

And I know what is right.

And I'd die for the truth

In My Secret Life.

Hold on, hold on, my brother.

My sister, hold on tight.

I finally got my orders.

I'll be marching through the morning,

Marching through the night,

Moving cross the borders

Of My Secret Life.

-Leonard Cohen

Harry threw his bag on the bed at the Three Broomsticks; it felt great to finally be there. He looked out the window and saw the snow falling; it looked so calm and beautiful. He still couldn't believe it was all finally over. Two weeks ago he had conquered Voldemort in the final battle and he had prevailed. The war lasted almost eighteen months and now it was over, but Harry had a feeling of emptiness inside. He had killed the most evil wizard of all, the man who took Harry's parents and had caused the deaths of both Sirius and Dumbledore.

He tried to shake off the thought of the war. This Christmas was truly about celebrating life. The gang would all be at the Burrow together again, but even before that, he had a week of fun ahead of him. They were to spend a few days at the Three Broomsticks and, hopefully, lots of his old Hogwarts friends would be there. Hogsmeade had become a gathering point during the war; a camp site for the good wizards to meet. He couldn't think of any other place more fitting for their celebrations.

Ron and Hermione were going to join him later that evening after a short visit to the Burrow. Ginny would be coming in two days because she had a few lessons at Hogwarts that she had to attend. Harry was back with Ginny while Ron and Hermione were officially a couple. The war had brought people together, but it had also changed people in both good and bad ways.

Harry looked down at the busy street. People looked happy and hopeful, but a few walked by with a distinct look of sorrow. He knew that they had lost someone dear to them in the war; a feeling he knew well. Harry saw Seamus Finnigan and Neville Longbottom walking down the street. He hid behind the curtain as he wasn't in the mood to chat right now. He felt exhausted and it was quite cold in the room, despite the burning fire in the corner. He crawled under the blanket on the bed, and fell asleep. After what felt like only ten minutes, he heard a very loud banging on the door.

"Harry? Are you sleeping?" It was Hermione's voice. Harry yawned and rubbed his eyes. He grabbed his glasses from the nightstand and the room quickly came back into focus.

"He's sleeping. Let's leave him alone, Hermione and go downstairs for a butterbeer," said Ron, in a hushed voice.

"It's fine. Come on in guys," Harry said. The door swung open and Hermione stepped inside with Ron following cautiously behind her.

"Sorry mate…were you sleeping? I tried telling her that we should leave," Ron said, apologetically.

"How are you Harry? You looked exhausted." Harry could hear the worry in Hermione's voice, but at that moment he didn't feel like talking about it.

"Drop it," he replied in a much harsher tone than intended. "I'm glad you came to get me, I'm starving!" he added more cheerfully. This seemed to help as Harry noticed a look of relief fall across Ron's face.

"Of course!" Ron boosted. "I'm always ready for food!"

"And also to make a fool of yourself in front of Madame Rosmerta, I'm sure," Hermione adjoined with a frown.

"Oh, you know I only have eyes for you," Ron replied, winking at Harry who rolled his eyes in return.

"You two make me sick," he said as they left the room and closed the door behind them.

Harry looked around the Three Broomsticks and saw so many familiar, happy faces. Out of the corner of his eye he saw Neville look up and smile at him. Harry couldn't help but chuckle at the sight of mashed potatoes and gravy dripping down Neville's chin and onto his shirt. He noticed, also, all the female admirers sitting around Neville and doting on him. Neville had proven great bravery during the war and it seemed to have given him quite the reputation among the females of the wizarding world.

Ron, Hermione and Harry found a booth and ordered their food. As hungry as they were, they thought the amount of food ordered was quite reasonable. However, they noticed very quickly that their appetites were easier to satiate than they had originally thought. Hermione frowned a bit at Ron when he reached for his fifth chicken leg.

"What?" Ron asked with his mouth full. "I'm a growing boy – I need my food."

"Growing indeed," Hermione grumbled, eyeing Ron's slightly protruding stomach.

"Hey, you love all of my growing body," Ron joked as he leaned over and gave her a kiss on the nose.

"Oh, Ron, that's revolting! Now I have chicken on my nose!" Hermione cried, attempting to rub the grease off of the tip of her nose. However, her giggles and warm voice didn't seem to convince anyone that she was actually cross with him. "Shall I go and get us more butterbeer?" she offered after a few moments had passed.

"Yes!" Harry said enthusiastically as he knocked Ron's mug with his. Hermione slid groggily out of the seat and walked over to the bar. When she came back she was carrying six mugs.

"Getting a bit carried away, aren't we?" Harry asked, raising his eyebrow as she shuffled back into the seat next to Ron.

"Oh, I brought company," she answered. As if on cue, Neville flopped down into the seat next to Harry as Seamus and Lee Jordan grabbed two more chairs and placed themselves at the end of the table. After each member of the group had grabbed a mug of butterbeer, Seamus raised his. After some reminiscent conversation silence fell over the group. Lee Jordan was the first to speak.

"Too bad Dean isn't here to celebrate with us," he said quietly, his eyes not shifting from the table. Dean Thomas had fought courageously. However, courage wasn't enough to beat Antonin Dolohov, the same man who had severely injured Hermione fifth year in the Battle of the Department of Mysteries, got his kill when he used the infamous Avada Kedavra against Dean. Lavender Brown attempted to come to his rescue, but was too late. She attacked him with a body-bind curse and Dolohov was carted away to Azkaban. At the end of the war, he received the Dementor's Kiss along with anyone else who was captured by Dumbledore's Army and the Order.

Seamus raised his glass of butterbeer. "To Dean," he said solemnly.

"To Dean," everyone else chanted in unison before taking a drink.

An hour later, Hermione looked at her watch. "Well boys," she said. "It's half past eleven and I think I will go to bed." She gave Ron a kiss on the cheek. "You boys be good now," she joked before heading up the stairs. The boys grinned, wished her a good night, and watched her walk away.

"Damn!" Seamus barked after Hermione was well out of ear-shot. "She has become such a babe!"

"Watch it," Ron warned with a smirk.

"Wish I'd known back in sixth year that she'd turn out looking like that. I always thought Hermione was all about books," Seamus chuckled. Harry had to admit that he also noticed a change in Hermione during the past eighteen months. His mind had also wandered there a few times. He wondered what it would have been like if he had asked her out before Ron finally did.

"As if she'd ever go with some Irish git," Ron laughed.

"Well you look more Irish than Seamus with that red hair," Neville defended. Harry laughed. He found it amusing when a cheeky comment originated from Neville because it always came in an apologetically cautious tone.

"You're right, though, Seamus," Ron agreed. "She's gorgeous."

Seamus grinned. "So how far have you two…." He stopped in mid-sentence, noticing the annoyed look on Harry's face. "Sorry," he apologized unabashedly. "So, how about you and Ginny, Harry? Have you two gotten anywhere?"

"Hey that's my sister you're talking about!" Ron pointed out, his ears beginning to turn red. Harry shrugged. He knew that it was just the butterbeer talking. They usually never had a talk like this, but he also felt the alcohol warming his blood.

"So, how far did you and Hermione go?" Harry asked before he could stop himself.

He had a feeling that Ron and Hermione had gone further than he and Ginny; nothing had really happened between him and Ginny. It was not that he didn't want to but she had made it very clear from the start that she wanted to take it slow. Harry respected her decision but he couldn't deny the simple fact that he was eighteen now and he was curious.

"How can you ask that?" Ron seemed shocked. "Hermione is like a sister to you."

"Not really," Harry said. "A friend, maybe, but not a sister."

"I just wanted to know if she's learned anything important from all those books," Lee teased.

"Get off it," Ron laughed. "Why don't you tell us about you and Angelina?" he added with a raised eyebrow.

"There's nothing to tell," Lee answered gloomily.

"Whatcha mean?" Harry heard Ron slur his words.

"We broke up four months ago. I don't know. While we were together I always had the feeling that she really wanted to be with Fred. I'm mean, he's my best friend and everything... but it sucks when your girl wants another guy. It's my fault really."

"Whatcha mean your fault?" Ron slurred.

"I shouldn't have pursued her at all. I always fell in second when Fred was with us. And I knew that Fred liked her as well. I just figured that since he didn't do anything, I might as well."

"Are they together?" Harry asked as he glanced at Ron.

"I sure dunno." Ron shrugged.

"Yeah, they are. Fred isn't telling anyone because he's afraid people will think he stole Angelina from me. Of course, he really didn't. We were over months before he finally got the courage to ask her out."

"Your best friend…" Ron whispered.

"Well, I'm a little bummed out now. I'm going to go to bed," Lee said looking at his hands. The rest of the group agreed and they all stood and headed to their respective rooms. After everyone had separated to their floors or corridors, Ron and Harry were the only two left.

"So…things are going well with you and Hermione then?" Harry asked smoothly.

"It's brilliant mate. She's great." Ron smiled at Harry.

"So did you..?" Harry asked. He would never have asked had he been sober, and Ron would never have answered. However…

"Yes," Ron answered, blushing. "But don't tell anyone. Hermione would never forgive me if she ever found that anyone knew."

When they approached Ron's door, he reached over and hugged Harry. "Things are great now, aren't they? Hermione and I, you and Ginny. The war is over. Right?"

"Right," Harry agreed quietly. Harry had the room next to Ron and Hermione's. They wished each other good night and went to their separate rooms. Harry closed the door and sat down on the bed.

So Ron and Hermione had been together. For some reason, it really bothered him, perhaps he was just jealous because he hadn't been with Ginny, but he just couldn't believe Hermione would. Was Ron with her right now? He tried to listen, but all he heard was silence. He thought about what Seamus had said about noticing Hermione earlier and realized that he had been right.

She had become such an amazing woman. She had been so brave during the war and, along the way, had developed mentally, emotionally, and physically. Ron was lucky. Harry had to remind himself that he was with Ginny, the girl that everyone had always thought was beautiful with her long red hair. Harry suddenly thought about Hermione's bushy brown hair. He could see her when he closed his eyes. He thought about the tight black pants she had worn today and when Ron had kissed her nose. His heart started to race. What was he doing? He closed his eyes again and saw Hermione's smiling face. She was wearing the beautiful dress she had worn at the Yule ball. She looked at him, and the dress started to slip off of her shoulder.

Harry leaped out of bed, walked over to the sink, and splashed water on his face. He wasn't attracted to Hermione. He was drunk and lonely. That was it. Fall asleep you stupid git, he thought to himself as he lay down on the bed. When he closed his eyes he saw Ron and Hermione kissing and slipping her dress off of her shoulder.

"Damn it!" he yelled and stood up again. He opened the door and walked out into the hall. He slumped against the wall and sat on the floor. He looked at the door to Hermione and Ron's room, wishing it to open. And then, as if someone had read his mind, the door opened and Hermione stepped out of the room. She was wearing shorts and a small top and had a worried look on her face.

"Harry, what's wrong?" she asked in a concerned voice.

"Wrong?" he questioned nervously.

"I heard you slam the door. Mind you, it was hard to hear over Ron's snoring." She smiled sweetly.

Harry didn't answer her and she sat down next to him, very close. So close that Harry could smell the faint scent of butterbeer on her breath and that sweet vanilla scent she always wore.

"What's on your mind?" she asked. "Why can't you sleep?"

"I just have a lot on my mind, you know." he paused. "Hermione, have you noticed how fast things have changed?"

"I'm not sure I know what you mean," she admitted as she looked into his green eyes.

"Me neither." Another pause. "Do you think that someone can develop strong feelings for someone, and no matter how much they want it to go away, it doesn't?"

"I'm sorry, I'm not following at all." Hermione looked at him with that adorable look she always gave him when she was sincerely lost. She put her arm around his shoulders and he rested his head against her bare shoulder. His body tingled and he felt himself longing to kiss her skin.

"I've become a horrible person," he said quietly.

"Rubbish, Harry. You're the sweetest, most caring person I know," she said, stroking his hair. "What's really bothering you, Harry? Is it the war? Sirius? Your parents? Harry, there's nothing you can do about any of it. We won. You've avenged them and everyone else the Death Eaters harmed."

Harry shook his head. "It's not that. I've just had a bad day, I guess."

"Well, Ginny is coming soon. That'll be nice, won't it?" Harry looked at her and nodded, but all he wanted to do was lean over and kiss her.

"You're right. Everything will get back to normal."

"Of course it will." Harry smiled at her, but as he closed his eyes and felt her soft hand stroking his head, he knew she was wrong. Nothing would ever be the same again.