Hermione Granger walked through the forest. Actually it was something more akin to a slight jog than a walk. She was going as fast as she could, while still holding on to the invisibility cloak that she had draped around her, all the while trying not to make a single noise as she traversed a beaten path.
How she had come to find herself in her present location, moving towards an unknown site was still very much at the forefront of her consciousness. It was a fact that had made her blood boil and her heart wrench at the same time. It had just been after Bill & Fleur's wedding….
/ - / - / - /
"Ginny, I told you we're through,"
Hermione looked up from the table where she and Ron were sitting, or rather where she was sitting and where Ron was stuffing his face, as usual, and saw Harry standing on the edge of the dancefloor, away from everyone else, trying to keep his voice down as much as possible, though their location was close enough that Hermione could hear them.
"But Harry, I need you. Can't you see that I love you? That you love me?!" Ginny pleaded, with bright puppy dog eyes that she knew would have won Harry over just a few weeks before. Harry shook his head.
"It wasn't love Ginny," he confessed somberly, "It was a distraction, an infatuation I…there wasn't anything besides that to it. I'm sorry if I lead you on…"
"You're just confused Harry," she sobbed, cutting him off and causing Harry to internally roll his eyes. Her gaze moved over towards Hermione, and she stared a hole straight through her. "What did you do to him?!"
Hermione was agasp and everyone had stopped dancing to stare at her. "What do you mean Ginny," she quietly asked, though there were the beginnings of anger at the corners of her eyes.
"You know exactly what I mean!" Ginny replied, stamping her way over towards Hermione. "Three weeks ago Harry was mine, and now he wants nothing to do with me! You must have done something!"
"I haven't done anything Ginevra!" Hermione yelled back, throwing her hands on her hips. "Harry just doesn't love you, that's the end of it." Rejection from Harry Potter was something that Hermione Granger was very much accustomed to, though she probably understood to some extent where Ginny was coming from with her anger, it didn't excuse the fact that she was being totally unreasonable at this point.
"He DOES love me," she delusionally replied, "You just aren't letting him see it. You're so busy snogging my brother while at the same time teasing him. You're just acting like a….a….a SLUT!"
The sound echoed through the garden of the Weasley wedding, as did the anguished cries of Hermione Granger as she stormed off. Ginny just felt her cheek…and her bum which she had just been knocked on, and she looked back to Harry for support.
Harry just glared at her, and went off after Hermione.
As she walked away, Hermione could almost faintly hear Ron chime in, "Harry mate, we need to talk."
/ - / - / - /
And talk they had, oh yes indeed. Hermione had stormed off to be by herself for that amount of time. Truth be told there were a few things wrong with Ginny's little tirade, primarily among them was that she and Ron had not in fact been snogging. In fact they weren't even really a couple, at least in her mind. They were close friends, nothing more. Hermione had tried to fancy Ron, simply because she didn't have anyone else to be close to, or anyone else that were have her. But it hadn't worked out that way. She really should have listened to what her mother had told her all those years ago. Matters of the heart were often best left to be dealt with by the heart.
Which was why she was on her current journey, chasing down one Harry Potter. She had no idea where he had gone, but knew why he had gone there. It had been the conversation with Ron that had done it.
/ - / - / - /
It had taken about an hour for Hermione to reconstitute herself enough to return to the Burrow. She walked into the dying party, but none of the guests spared her much glance. In their minds she had been perfectly justified to do what she had done to Ginny. She looked around for Harry, trying to apologize to him for making a scene at his expense, but Ron caught her first.
"There you are," he said catching his breath, "I've been looking all over for you 'Mione." She winced, she didn't like anyone calling her a nickname….except for maybe Harry, but that was a road best left untraveled, she reminded herself.
"Where's Harry," she automatically asked, continuing to look around. She caught the note of pride in Ron's eye for a fleeting moment.
"You don't have to worry about him 'Mione, it's all been taken care of." He smiled at her and placed a hand firmly on her shoulder.
"What do you mean it's been taken care of," she asked, cocking an eyebrow at what Ron was implying.
"Well, after you left Harry and I had a little chat, you know a man to man. And I told him that, what with everything with Gin and all, it'd probably be best if he just left…"
Hermione stood there, stunned beyond belief.
"…and besides that, I added, that whole thing about following him into battle against You-Know-Who, well that was just us trying to make him feel better."
"After all I mean, he couldn't even handle Snape or Malfoy, so he hasn't got much of a chance against He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named now does he? I told him it was for the best. He understood entirely, but his stuff is still here. He said he had somewhere to go and then he'd pick it up without saying goodbye so as not to confuse you or anything."
She blinked a second time, and felt her face start to turn red.
"Now there's no need to thank me for making this tough decision for you. It's the sort of thing that blokes do for the women they fancy ya know? And I know you couldn't have done it, he just would've confused things so…I had to step in. Just one of those things you have to accept. But uh…" he leaned forward slightly, "A thank you snog wouldn't hurt I guess."
Hermione slapped a second Weasley in as many hours.
"HOW DARE YOU RONALD WEASLEY!" she screamed at the top of her lungs. "HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO HARRY? HOW COULD YOU ABANDON HIM WHEN HE NEEDS US THE MOST? HOW COULD YOU SEND HIM OUT THERE WITHOUT SO MUCH AS A GOOD LUCK!? HOW DARE YOU MAKE DECISIONS FOR ME!" Her hands were trembling with anger, and tears threatened to overtake her.
"B-But Mione…I thought that…"
"AND DON'T CALL ME MIONE!" and with that she ran away, heading on autopilot really. Ron had said something about Harry's things still being in his room, and desperately she dashed into the Burrow, ignoring anyone who got in her way, and fished through his trunk, pulling out his invisibility cloak as she did. She slammed the trunk down and apparated away from the Burrow with a loud thunderous crack, hoping that her heart would guide her wherever she needed to go, but at least she'd be away from there.
/ - / - / - /
She didn't know if this was the way Harry had gone, but something in her gut told her it was. It was the way to Godric's Hollow, more specifically the way to the cemetery where Harry's parents were interred. She slowed down as she neared a clearing, and came to a stop when she saw what she was looking for.
The churchyard was nothing spectacular, just a simple iron-rod fence surrounding a small collection of gravestones. Harry was standing in front of two small granite slabs, where his parents were buried, his head down in respect, his black hair swaying in time in the wind with the willow tree above him. Hermione slowly approached. She barely breathed so as not to disturb him. Mentally she told herself that was why she had grabbed the invisibility cloak, so Harry wouldn't be disturbed.
As she drew closer, her breath caught in her chest as she saw Harry's shoulders moving erratically, and heard muffled sobs escaping his throat. The full force of what Ron had done suddenly hit her again like a ton of bricks, and more than anything she wanted to throw off the cloak, run to him and hug him like she had hugged him before, back when she had hoped that he might….
She stopped when she heard his voice, barely spoken above a whisper.
"I can't do this," he said softly, in between sobs. "I can't go on. Not like this. Not without them…" he paused a moment, hanging his head even lower, as if it were physically possible, "Not without…her." Hermione almost leapt to hug him then and there, but stopped herself when he continued.
"I should have told her," he whispered, almost inaudibly. "But now that's gone….I know she didn't fancy me but….I still should have told her. Maybe that would have…." He openly wept, and Hermione was practically floored. Could he be saying what she thought he was saying?
"I should have told her that….I love her…." He managed to say in a broken voice, as her heart melted into a thousand pieces and a thousand emotions. "I've only ever loved her. I love everything about her. I…didn't know at first. I….wasn't sure what….love was but….now I know….now I know that I love Hermione, and nothing can change that….." he trailed off as he heard a rustling over in the corner, and his eyes went wide.
Hermione was standing there, tears in her eyes.
"Hermione," he squeaked out, almost immediately rushing over to her, "What are you…how…." He suddenly went pale as a ghost, "How long were you standing there…"
"Long enough," she whispered, grabbing hold of his arms. Harry got a scared look in his eyes, but before he could say anything she placed a finger over his mouth. When she broke away, he began to ramble.
"Hermione I'm sorry. I know that you fancy Ron but, I just can't control what these feelings are and…please don't hate me Hermione and….please don't cry. Oh Merlin please don't…."
Hermione placed another finger over his lips. "Harry you silly prat," she replied with a laugh, "These are tears of joy. I've been waiting to hear those words out of your mouth forever. I…" she hesitated, before pushing through, "I love you Harry James Potter, as much as I've ever loved anyone….more than I've ever loved anyone before."
Harry got a dumbfounded look on his face, "Bu….But what about Ron…I mean you and he were…."
"No, we aren't," she whispered, drawing closer to him. Harry closed his eyes slightly, as did Hermione. And then, tentatively, their lips met in a slow joining, each one slowly exploring the other in a brand new light. The kisses were short at first, each one discovering this new aspect of each other. Slowly they became more lingering, more intense, and more romantic. Harry opened his mouth and pushed forward, and Hermione let him in to explore her innards slightly, letting out a slight moan as she did so.
The moment passed, and each one stood there, holding the other in their arms for a long time. "I love you," Harry repeated, "Please don't leave me. I can't do this without you."
"Oh Harry," Hermione replied, looking deep into his emerald green eyes. "I could never leave you. Not when I've just found you."
And for that one night, under the stars, and under the watchful eyes of deceased loved ones, they had found one another at last.