Title: Saying It
Pairings: H/Hr, R/Lu
Summary: When Hedwig is seen delivering letters to Luna, Hermione makes two matches with one owl.
Disclaimer: I am not JK Rowling. If I were, there would be chest monsters in this story, and I would be making an obscene amount of money off it. But, there are no chest monsters and everyone knows that the greatest artists never make any money in their lifetime, so… ;-D
A/N: This is just a little throwback to the land of fluff, from a time before Voldyshorts and prophecies got in the way (I actually started this before OotP, originally using a different character in Luna's place), so I hope you enjoy, and see from this that fanfic can always ignore JKR's evil plans.
It was a terribly wrong fantasy to have, and Harry was trying his hardest to keep it out of his head, but it was nearly impossible when she was always around. She was his best friend, and she was explaining the subtle differences in making two potions - what kind, he had no idea - so it certainly wasn't appropriate to imagine leaning over the table and kissing those lips of hers. The damned things just wouldn't stop moving, drawing his attention over and over again.
Okay, so he had to admit, he had a bit of a crush, and it was on the one girl he shouldn't have formed a crush on - except, perhaps, Ginny Weasley. In either case, Ron would beat the life out of him, and he wasn't looking forward to that. He wished Ron would go and find someone new to be 'in love' with. Ron wasn't truly in love with Hermione, of course, but there was no explaining that to him. That meant that Harry absolutely could not have a crush on her, even though it was a bit late for that. …He really wanted to kiss her.
He dropped his head to the table in defeat. If he watched her speak any longer, he wouldn't be able to control himself.
Hermione made an indistinct noise, then, in her most offended tone, said, "If you're that bored, you could at least say so instead of being so rude about it."
Harry looked up, doing his best fish impression. "No - it's not that I was bored - I just - well, I - I have a lot on my mind - and - I - I'm sorry, I wasn't even listening - I'm sure you weren't boring." Perfect. Now he had started babbling like a fool around her.
"Are you all right, Harry? You've been acting very peculiar lately," she said. All of the hurt in her voice had already disappeared, replaced with concern.
"Well, I…well, no, I'm not really all right, but it's nothing anyone can help me with, so I'll just have to live with it."
Hermione looked at him knowingly. "It's a girl, isn't it?"
Harry's eyes widened momentarily before he let his head drop to the table again with a groan. "Please don't make me talk about it," he muttered.
"Fine, if you insist. But you'll be better off if you just tell the girl how you feel. What's the worst that can happen? She might just like you back. She probably does like you back, actually. You are Harry Potter after all…"
Harry straightened and shook his head at her. "You cannot possibly imagine what the worst is. …And what does me being Harry Potter have anything to do with it?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "You're absolutely blind, Harry. You're famous, you're wealthy, you're powerful…oh, and girls feel sorry for you. You know, they want to make things all better for you. And most of them still assume you've had your heart stomped all over."
"Girls like boys they can feel sorry for?" Harry asked, bewildered.
"Yes…I think it's a sort of maternal instinct," Hermione mused. "We're all a bit like Mrs. Weasley, deep down. But back to the girl…"
"Is it Ginny?"
Harry groaned again. "No, it's not Ginny. Honestly, why would I want six Weasleys beating me up in a dark alley?"
Hermione giggled slightly. "All right, not Ginny. Is it a Slytherin?"
"No, it's not a Slytherin, and you can stop guessing. I'm never going to tell you who it is."
She leaned forward, smirking. "There's no need. I already know who it is. I'm just enjoying yanking your chain."
Harry blinked, and his face flushed. "You know?"
"It's obvious, Harry."
"Er, well, I -"
"Luna Lovegood, am I right?"
Harry abruptly changed expression; embarrassment quickly replaced confusion. "Luna? It's not Luna… What would make you think I like her? She's nice, but…well, she's --"
"It isn't Luna?" Hermione sounded shocked. "But…Hedwig…she was always sending her notes; I saw her with one. Wait, don't lie to me Harry, we both know it's her. But the secret admirer thing needs to stop - just tell her you like her."
"Hermione…I haven't sent anything with Hedwig in at least a month."
"No, someone must have borrowed her…rather rude, to take my owl without asking…probably Malfoy, playing some kind of – what?"
Hermione's eyes had widened as they so often did when she figured something out. She started babbling to herself, "Yes…of course! …He's been writing a lot more lately, and I know his essays aren't getting any longer…why didn't I see it? Ron likes Luna!"
Harry started at her, his mind whirring. Ron…liked Luna…it made sense, or at least as much as it could, all things considered…and that meant he was over Hermione…and Hermione didn't know Harry liked her…and Ron wouldn't murder him in his sleep if she did know...
"Odd," was all he could come up with.
"Well, yes," she said, "but this means we've got to get them together."
"Yes! Ron needs someone," Hermione said. "I feel bad for him…he's never even been on a date, unless you count the Yule Ball, but something tells me he didn't say more than two words to Padma."
"Maybe three. But how are we supposed to get them together?"
Hermione tapped her quill against her lips. "We arrange a meeting – we'll write a note and send it to Luna with Hedwig, telling her that her admirer wants to meet her. Then we'll tell Ron to meet us in the same place, and instead of us, he'll find Luna."
Harry frowned. "And what if Ron's his usual self and tells her he was supposed to meet us there?"
Hermione frowned. "Then we will be there, hiding, and if he –does- ruin in, we'll step in and tell him we arranged this because we know he's the one who's been writing her."
Harry nodded contemplatively. "And what if Luna knows it's Ron that's been writing her and he's not playing secret admirer at all?"
Hermione shrugged. "I'm going to count on Ron being Ron and assume he hasn't been brave enough to tell her. Besides, if Luna knew Ron had been writing her…we'd probably know. She's fancied him forever, and she's anything but subtle."
"How do you know she's fancied him?" Harry asked, quirking up an eyebrow.
Hermione laughed. "It's completely obvious if you know the signs, Harry."
Harry sat up a little straighter, suddenly curious. "What are the signs?"
"Oh, you know, she'll laugh at his jokes even when they aren't that funny, and she'll pay special attention to him when other people are around, and that lion hat for Quidditch games – good heavens, what a sign."
Harry frowned to himself. He'd thought this to be a product of Luna's oddity, not something girls did when they fancied a bloke. "So…all girls do this?"
Hermione shrugged. "Not necessarily. Some girls will do everything they can not to show any signs at all."
"So basically, it's impossible to tell if a girl fancies you," Harry replied, feeling hopeless.
"Well, you could always ask her," Hermione said, smiling. "Which brings us back to the original point of the conversation – just who is it that you fancy?"
Harry shook his head. "You may as well give up, Hermione. I'll never have a chance with this girl."
Harry went stubbornly back to staring at his potions book, but he could feel her eyes on him for some time after.
Two days later came the meeting Hermione had crafted for Luna and Ron, and Harry and Hermione went to the woods to find a good viewing spot. They'd arranged for them to meet in Hagrid's pumpkin patch, a perfect spot, as it was right next to the forest, and nobody ventured to Hagrid's Hut unless they had class.
Several minutes early, Luna arrived, not looking at all anxious or excited, and sat herself serenely down on one of Hagrid's colossal pumpkins. She waited, humming "Weasley is my King" to herself (to which Hermione shot Harry one of her "I told you so" looks).
"I hope Ron's not too awfully late," Hermione whispered, directly into Harry's ear to be sure not to be overhead, and her breath playing over his skin made Harry's palms sweat as his mouth go dry. He wondered if she could tell he fancied her as easily as she could spot the symptoms in girls. How easily could she read him? She'd known he'd fancied Cho…but would she notice if the girl was her? Would she tell him if she had?
Harry glanced at his watch, feeling it might be best if this went quickly, as Hermione was standing very close. It was 1:59 exactly. Ron was supposed to arrive at 2:00.
Several long, long moments later, during which Luna had hummed away and Hermione had fidgeted next to him, Ron arrived, his feet noisily flattening the grass as he came. He looked relaxed, easy – but then, he did think he'd be meeting Harry and Hermione.
Both the conspirators watched with bated breath as Ron came around the corner of the hut, and he locked eyes with Luna.
Ron's uplifted eyebrows showed his surprise, but if Luna noticed, she didn't bother to comment. It was far more likely she didn't notice at all, for the minute she saw Ron, she jumped up, beaming, and threw herself onto him, her arms wrapping tightly around his neck.
"Oh, Ronald, I hoped it would be you," she said, somehow still dreamy in her enthusiasm. "When the letters started coming, I had no idea who could possibly fancy me, but then I started to suspect…oh, I'm so glad. Your freckles are arranged just right – I know we'll be perfect together."
If possible, Ron's eyebrows were raised higher than Luna's as he returned her embrace – although, Harry noted with a little surprised, he didn't look at all displeased or awkward, not like he sometimes did when Hermione or his mother would hug him, and it occurred to Harry that he would probably enjoy Hermione's hugs a great deal more now that he fancied her.
"I – um – I'm glad you're glad," Ron told the giddy blonde, and Harry could see that Ron was still trying to puzzle out just how he'd been found out.
In the shadowy forest, Hermione grabbed his arm and gave a quiet, joyful laugh. "Aren't they marvelous together?" she whispered, squeezing him gently. "See, I told you it would work."
Harry nodded in silent agreement as the couple went off together, both smiling, and Hermione's hand slid down his arm to wind her fingers through his. "It makes you want to find someone of your own, doesn't it?" she said.
"Yeah, it does," Harry said, her cool hand somehow warming him from head to toe. He wanted to have that warmth for his own, to have her for his own, to be able to take her hand whenever he wanted….
Hermione looked intently up at him, every bit of her posture serious, and said, "You should tell her. She probably wants you, too."
Harry's heartbeat hammered in his ears, and perhaps it was his own paranoia talking, but he thought he saw something suspicious in her eyes, something of that mysterious knowledge she always seemed to have at just the right moment, and he wondered.
"Hermione…you know who it is, don't you?"
Her lips curved slowly, but that seriousness stayed. "I think I do. But you have to say it for me to be sure."
"And why do I have to be the brave one?" he asked, feeling self-conscious as his palms began to sweat once more, and he thought that she surely must know then, if she hadn't before; surely he was giving it all away.
"You are Harry Potter. You'll never live it down if you can't make a move on a girl," Hermione said, teasingly, and Harry realized perhaps for the first time that that intentness in her eyes could probably see right to his soul.
Harry sucked in a breath, wondering if he were about to hyperventilate, and turned to face her fully. "Well, then, I guess you should know…it's you, Hermione. You're the reason I can't pay attention when you talk. You drive me to distraction."
Hermione laughed and squeezed his hand. "Oh, Harry, that's the most paradoxical thing I've ever heard, but it wouldn't be you otherwise."
Harry was paralyzed with confusion, wondered what on earth she meant, if she returned his feelings, if she'd just rejected him…but then, in her own Hermione way, she made everything clear.
She leaned forward and kissed him softly on the cheek, with so much precision and concentration that anyone else might have laughed, but he knew the value of her mind, and what it meant to be the center of her focus, what it meant to have every ounce of her thought and attention on him.
He swallowed, his skin keeping the memory of her lips as she pulled away, smiling gently. Their fingers were still locked, and Harry couldn't quite ascertain which fingers were his and which were hers anymore. He liked the intimacy of it.
"You see?" Hermione said, leading him out of the forest. "You might have saved yourself a lot of trouble if you'd just told me to begin with. Like I said, most girls fancy you, and I know the real you, so I fancy you most of all."
Harry's heart fluttered and he felt his face flush. "I guess I never thought the real me was all that spectacular."
"Well, it is," she countered, matter-of-factly. "You're one of a kind."
Harry smiled. "So are you."
Late that afternoon, as Harry and Hermione sat in the common room discussing their triumph (after they'd had their fill of snogging, of course), their victim arrived, zeroing in on them like a targeted missile.
"Just what did you two think you were up to, eh?"
Hermione rolled her eyes and shared a quick glance of amusement with Harry. "Well, really, Ron, if you hadn't wanted anyone to figure you out, you shouldn't have borrowed Hedwig."
Ron scowled. "For all you knew, Harry could have been writing her."
Harry grinned. "Yeah, mate, but I wasn't, and you know Hermione's not one to leave a mystery unsolved."
"Aren't you happy, though, Ron? Now you know she feels the same way," Hermione said. "I wouldn't have done it if I wasn't sure, Ron, I promise."
Ron grinned reluctantly. "Yeah, I am happy…" His eyebrows came together as a thought struck him. "Oy, how do you know about it? …You two were watching, weren't you?!"
"Only a little," Harry said, pointedly putting an arm around Hermione's shoulders. "But then we had better things to do."
A slow grin spread across Ron's face once more. "Well, it's about time, you oblivious git."
And…they lived mostly happily ever after.