Disclaimer - As stated in all previous chapters - it isn't mine.
A/N - Please review! And wow! This is my first completed chapter fic! I'm so excited. Also...thanks to all my lovely reviewers!!
When Hermione stopped speaking Harry was gaping at her, his eyes bugging out of his head. "You…and my dad…and you really cared for him…then you stepped aside for my mum?"
She turned red and said, "Yes…that's the gist of it."
"Well don't stop there! What happened next?"
"Based on your facial expressions I thought you found all of this horrible."
"Not all of it. Just that snogging part," he shuddered. "Why did you have to tell me that? And that you sometimes were put off by the fact that he looked like me?"
"I was going for honesty!"
"Well be honest some more. What happened then?" Harry said quickly.
"Well I found James, recounted part of my conversation with Lily and told him to go for her. We had a bit of a…touching moment and then we just weren't together anymore. I stayed rather out of sight for the next week or so, secretly following him and Lily everywhere; I wanted to see how they finally got together…"
One day after Charms Hermione was creeping through the library when she heard the deep rumbling voice of James. The witch then positioned herself at the shelf directly behind him and slid a large volume over so she could see a bit. She was pleasantly surprised to see him sitting with Lily and, for once, the pair was not looking like they could kill each other. The curious girl remained where she was so she could hear the exchange.
"James…you are so different this year."
"I hope you mean different in a good way," he said, smiling.
"Hermione…she showed me how to open up and be myself around girls. How to actually be nice to them! I'm not as big of a prat as I let everyone think I am. It's just hard to be myself around people that aren't Sirius, Remus and Peter."
"I'm starting to realize that, James."
"Are you realizing it enough to go out with me?" James said, a twinkle in his eye.
"You know…I think I am, providing you continue not being the world's biggest git when I'm around." Lily replied.
James gasped and nearly screamed, "You…you said yes! Didn't you?"
"Yes, James, I said yes," she replied.
Suddenly he jumped up and let out a might whoop of victory, which Hermione was quite surprised to hear echoed from three different directions. Remus and Peter bounded out, of shelves on other sides of them and Hermione was looking about for Sirius when she felt a gentle tug on her hair.
He leaned close and whispered in her ear, "That was a good thing you did. Thanks."
She smiled and nodded as if it was nothing, though she could tell by the look in his eyes that he wasn't fooled. Sirius gave her a wink and bounded out to join his brothers, claiming to have been lost among the volumes.
Over the next few days Hermione watched the new couple, and when she was satisfied that they would, indeed, make it and Harry would be born she decided it was time to go home. She didn't want to leave without telling at least James bye, but she didn't want to anger Lily by doing so. She solved this by asking her one evening when they were in the dormitory. Once permission was granted she approached James.
She finally found him up in the out of bounds Astronomy Tower writing an essay. "Hey," she whispered.
He looked up in surprise and grinned, "Hey! You're out of bounds, you know."
"Well so are you!"
"Ah, but I am Head Boy, you see." He paused a studied her. "Something's troubling you."
"James…I've got to leave."
"Erm, all right."
"No…I mean leave Hogwarts. My grandparents that live in France have sent for me. My grandfather is ill and grandma needs help."
"Oh…" he murmured, looking quite downcast. "Will you write?"
"No, I can't. Besides, I was just your short-term girl, remember? You've got Lily now."
"Hermione…just because what we had was short lived doesn't mean I didn't, don't, care for you." He stood and moved toward her, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear. "I'll miss you, you know. When are you leaving?"
"Tonight, just after dinner."
She nodded and he suddenly grabbed her hand and yanked her through the door. "Come with me! I have something I want you to take to remember me by!"
She followed him, laughing, back to Gryffindor tower and waited by the entrance as he dashed off to his dormitory and returned moments later holding…
"Here are my favorite socks!" he cried, thrusting the neon orange and purple striped glittering monstrosities into her hands. "They are also the very socks I was wearing on the night we first snogged! You can keep them as a token of what we shared," he said regally, bowing before her, and a momentary flicker of regret passed across his eyes – seen only by her.
She smiled and, on a whim, hugged him tight, "Goodbye James, I'm going to miss you."
He embraced her just as tightly and kissed her on the cheek before whispering, "I'll miss you too and…I'm sorry. Sometimes I wish you could have gotten here before Lily. I love her but…I could love you too."
Hermione pulled back and was only vaguely surprised that her eyes were swimming with tears. "Lily's the girl for you James, I was just something to pass the time."
He smiled at her sadly and squeezed her hand, "You don't believe that any more than I do."
Hermione brushed a pesky tear from her eye and said to Harry, "Well…that's all of it."
"That's why you cried so much that summer; him on top of everything else."
She nodded. "Please…don't tell Ron…or anyone for that matter."
"I wouldn't dream of it, Hermione. Though…do you still have the socks?"
She nodded, "I'll give them to you sometime if you'd like."
"No…no you can keep them. I just wondered if you still had them."
"I do," she whispered, and pulled the photo album so that they could see a picture of James standing by himself in the common room. He was looking off toward the stairs and as the two teens studied it, each would swear upon something very valuable that every so often a familiar tuft of bushy brown hair would swing through the frame as someone disappeared up the dormitory stairs.