A Night in Starlight

For what seemed like the tenth night in a row—though it was actually the twelfth—Harry and Hermione sat, studying their eyes out for their final in Transfiguration. They revised their notes, half-torn old essays, their books, and even one another's brains for that one last detail that could save their grade. Ron dismissed the excessive studying as a bad idea, and slept, snoring loudly, in the dormitory. The stinging, bloodshot red in Hermione's eyes and the slight numbness in Harry's left hand made them occasionally question if he wasn't at least a little right.

Harry yawned, and with a slight stretch, stole a glance at his study partner. As per usual, Hermione had her nose buried deep within the pages of a book. Harry smiled, rose to his feet, and placed his hand on her shoulder.

"I need to go clear my mind," he said quietly. "I'll be back in a little bit."

Hermione nodded distractedly, acknowledging only that he had spoken, and continued to drain the words from the pages of the book before her. Harry slipped quietly up to the dormitory, silently retrieved his broom, and enjoyed the orchestral phenomenon that was the snoring of Ronald Weasley.

As Harry stepped back into view, Hermione merely raised her eyes slightly above the worn pages of her textbook, and looked with piqued interest as he slung his broom over his shoulder and abandoned her to an uncomfortable solitude in the Gryffindor common room. After only a moment, she set the book down, its page folded neatly in a little triangle where she had just paused her reading, and shook her head. She was feeling a bit mind-numbed herself, she realised, and set off quietly after him.

The night was young, but, nonetheless, quite dark, despite the slow rise of the full moon which gradually cast its silvery light against the whole of the grounds. Harry shot off into the sky and breathed deeply, taking in the fresh air of a cool night.

Hermione found herself resting her head against the brick of the castle, watching as her best friend cut through the skies. He dashed against the stars, spinning and dancing and performing wild dives that, she reminded herself, if she attempted, she would end up a brightly-coloured smear on the grounds of the Quidditch pitch.

Hermione would never admit to any fondness for flying. Frequently, the mere thought of her hand touching a broomstick was enough to send nervous chills through her entire body. Nevertheless, she always enjoyed the happiness it brought Harry. Seeing him happy, made her so. Seeing his smile, made her smile. The mark of true friendship.

Harry whipped out of sight above the castle. Closing her eyes for a brief moment, Hermione reflected quietly on all the times they had shared together, all the memories that welded their friendship into what it was and what it had become.

"Come out for a little air, yourself?" Harry asked from behind her, resting his broom against the heel of his shoe. Hermione's eyes shot open and she jumped backward—right into him. He caught her against his chest. "Care for a ride?" He asked his question softly, as if almost begging her to accept.

She turned toward him and shook her head in the negative.

"I don't like flying," she said simply, and a shiver ran through her body. In books there was the safety of imagination—she could enjoy the excitement of fact and of the fantastical, and never needed to worry that the shrieking ghoul of pain and death lay beneath where she flew.

Harry rested his hand on her shoulder and looked into her eyes.

"Just one ride?" he asked kindly. "For me?"

Her mind screamed no, but, something inside her, whatever it was, ignored her mind's desperate cries.

"Okay," she said quietly, her voice a little shaky. Everything inside her wanted to run as she climbed onto Harry's broom; her stomach gave an uneasy flop as her legs hung from the sides. Deep breaths helped to stave away the threat of losing consciousness to panic.

Harry climbed on behind her and wrapped his arms around her—an action that brought her some small degree of comfort. All the same, she found herself petrified with fear.

Hermione Granger. Bookworm. Top of her class. Afraid of a little flying. Suddenly she felt so silly it almost hurt.

Her self-deprecating thoughts wiped themselves from her mind as Harry began a slow ascent upward into the starry sky. Slamming her eyes shut as her only defense against screaming her lungs out, Hermione clung to the broom as tightly as she could.

"Hermione," he whispered, his mouth barely an inch from her ear. "Open your eyes."

At first, only cracking her eyes open to peek, Hermione caught the brilliant light of the full moon. She gasped as its beauty consumed her; her eyes opened completely. She had never seen the moon like this before—it had never seemed quite so massive as it did now. Though she could still feel her heart pounding against her chest, the serenity of bathing in the starlight captivated her so completely that she sat quietly for nearly a minute, scarcely batting an eyelash.

And then she let out a muffled, terrified scream.

She spun herself around and grabbed onto Harry for dear life. Harry, understanding her fear, pulled her the little closer he could, and held her.

"It's okay, Hermione," he said gently, rubbing her back reassuringly. "You're safe with me. I'll never let you fall."

Feeling her muscles relax as he continued to comfort her, Hermione looked up into the magnificent green eyes of the man who held her. They were friends. They'd been friends for a little over three and a half years. The beat of her heart told her she wanted something a little more.

Raising her head slowly, she leveled her eyes with his. Almost instinctively, her arms found themselves behind his neck as she leaned forward and brushed her lips against his, tasting, for the first time, the sweetness of his delicate lips.

Breathing in deeply as she pulled back just slightly, she found his ear with her lips.

"I love flying," she whispered, and kissed him again.

Author's Note: This is one of my older stories (one of my very first, in fact), but I hope you enjoyed it anyway. Please review.