Title: Somebody to Love
By: mandy-jg
Rating: PG
Summary: Each time she told herself that she would hold herself together, and remain her usual competent self. She didn't though, and she hated that.
Pairing: Harry/Hermione
A/N: Pinch-hit for hghpficexchange, big thank you to sugarquill39 for reading through it.

Somebody To Love

There were certain things that one didn't do. Cardinal rules to live by, to live a good life one abides by certain guidelines.

First, you didn't steal.

Second, no lies whatsoever.

Third, never cheat on your loved ones.

Hermione did well with these rules, two out of three ain't bad. If you added the latest one, her personal addition, she was halfway to the pearly gates. Surely He wouldn't beseech her for those two. Lies were a normal part of life, from little white lies to the more important ones. In order to survive, these lies were sometimes necessary. There wasn't anything she could do about that now.

Fourth, don't develop a crush on your best friend.

The new addition was the one that was going to cause her the most trouble. She would do anything to make it go away, to make her life just a little easier. Merlin knows she did her best to ignore it most of the time, and when they were apart it was simple: Hermione could convince herself that there was nothing different in how she felt towards him.

It was in times like these that that careful work failed, when he slid into the chair beside her in the conference room. His knee brushing hers as it bounced, the smiles he sent her as something amused him. It was those little smiles that set her heart alight, she wanted to look at that smile forever, to imagine that it was only intended for her eyes.

Ordinarily these meetings were her domain, she could hold her own, and put forward all of her ideas without acting like a fourteen year old with a crush. When these meetings were inter-department, however, Hermione the teenager came out. Without fail he'd sit beside her, with a small kiss to the top of her head as he sat down. Each time she told herself that she would hold herself together, and remain her usual competent self. She didn't though, and she hated that.

"I was hoping that someone would be up from Level Seven, but they had some kind of emergency and all the involved parties are tied up with that," the Head of International Magical Cooperation said from the front of the room. Hermione kept her eyes on her pad as he continued. "Nonetheless we will continue. The numbers that I've seen have been promising, but they are only numbers. Numbers which could easily deceive us. Now I want you to pair up with someone from another department..."

She jumped as his knee hit hers, Hermione nodded, a smile on her lips.

"We need to work together to get results," he clapped his hands together. "Till next time everyone."

She pulled her papers together as he turned to her, a grin in place. "Just like school yeah? Working together again."

Hermione returned his smile, "Except this time, you will actually do your share."

"Ouch!" He laughed. "That hurts Hermione. I always, always did my homework. With brief assistance from my incredibly smart best friend."

"You keep telling yourself that Harry."

Harry stood chuckling, giving her another kiss on the top of her head, "So tomorrow for dinner?"

"Of course," Hermione smiled up at him.

He tapped her shoulder lightly as he walked away, Hermione watching him out of the room. Feeling her colleague come up behind her.

"Not now Lavender."

"I wasn't going to say a word about you mooning over your best friend," she said quietly as they started down the hall to their office.

"Not a word? That's a surprise."

"You already know my feeling about this crush."

Hermione sighed as they entered their office, slamming her papers down on the desk. "Lavender."

She shook her brown hair, "Fine! Coffee?"

Nodding, "That would be great." She sat as Lavender went to the kitchen down the hall.

Hermione had quickly discovered upon working with her former dorm mate how hard it was to keep things from her, and she had to admit that having Lavender as a confidant held benefits. Having a somewhat partial ear to hear whines about the opposite sex had been a blessing; she couldn't go to Ginny with any of her romantic feelings. With Ron it had been difficult, there were certain things that one didn't discuss with their boyfriend's sister. She also couldn't talk about Harry with her, it hadn't been a clean break for them, and her crush wasn't something the two friends could share.

The relationship with Lavender had been strained at first they had some issues they had to get past, namely the same ex-boyfriend. Once that happened though, Hermione found she rather liked the witch. Their personalities balanced each others; she could make Hermione stop when she got too involved in her work, and Hermione could focus her when she wasn't involved enough in her work. It had the the benefit of pissing Ron off that they were so chummy, and on certain days she enjoyed that.

The problem was she was a very intuitive witch, and when Hermione developed these different feelings towards Harry, she picked up on them instantly. It wasn't that she disapproved, it was the opposite- she didn't like Hermione not doing anything about them.

Lavender stalked back into their little office, towering on her heels, "One hot cocoa for you."

She took the mug from her hand, "I thought we were having coffee?"

"Girl talk, we need chocolate."

"Lavender," she sighed, placing the mug on her desk. "We can't keep having this conversation."

She shut the door, sealing their voices from escape. "No. We can't keep having the same conversation."

"It's always different."

"But the result is the same, you can't possibly tell Harry that you fancy the pants off him. So you don't, and continue to act like a love sick fool around him."

"I do not!"

"Fine, you don't," Lavender laughed lightly, sipping her cocoa. "You don't tell him, and that is a problem."

"I can't tell him," she said quietly. "Our friendship, and that includes Ron, just managed to survive the only romantic entanglement forced on it. The break-up very nearly ruined it forever, I don't think it could survive another."

"What makes you so sure you'd break up?"

"Friends to lovers is a difficult transition, you know each other too well. I have been there, and I don't want to sabotage another friendship because I suddenly want to shag my best friend."

Lavender laughed loudly, almost spilling her drink, "Hermione Granger!"

She felt her face heat up, so she turned back to her paperwork.

"You want to shag your best friend silly. Of course, I knew you would. How could you not? He's dead sexy, if you like that kind of look," she giggled. "I bet you've seen him near naked several times." Hermione let her head drop to her desk, cringing at the peal of laughter. "Nice?"

"Very nice."

Her chair rolled behind her, as Lavender spoke softly to her. "What are you going to do?"

"Nothing," Hermione said glumly, turning to her. "I'm going to do nothing."

"Why? Take away this foolish idea that romance is going to destroy your ridiculously strong friendship, and give me one solid reason why?"

"A crush by definition is one-sided. Harry is my friend, one of my best friends for nearly fifteen years. I'm not going to ruin it by making a crush known. It will pass, and no harm will be done."

"Is that what you said with Ron? When you first worked it out."

"I think so, we were so young when I first noticed, long before he did. But I think that's what I did, I told myself that it would fade, and we'd still be friends."

"You loved him though."

"Well I did, but not at the beginning."

"Still, you did nothing."

"I was waiting for him, it had to be him."

"What happened?" Lavender spinned her chair slightly, smiling at Hermione's glare.

"You know what happened, we spent over a year together, and fought for half of it."

"Who did it though, who made that first move."

"I did."

"He did nothing, despite loving you," she said quietly.

"Ancient history Lav," Hermione smiled, shrugging her shoulders. "It doesn't matter anymore, I appreciate your concern, you wanting to help me, but it's a moot point."

"Okay, but remember this. With Ron, you waited, doing nothing. Then some..."

"Hussy?" She offered with a grin.

"Beautiful witch," Lavender laughed. "Nabbed him from beneath you. While that thankfully didn't last, maybe Harry will find that someone, and you will forever kick yourself for not doing anything about it."

"A crush Lavender, they never last," Hermione sighed, drinking deeply.

"What if it doesn't? What if fifty years from now, you are both with someone else, both as happy as you could be. But part of you can't help but wonder if maybe you'd be happier with him. A lifetime of love possibly wasted, you can't live with that kind of doubt."

"It won't happen."

"You can't know that, you have to know."

"Lavender! He doesn't feel the same as I do, he's my best friend, and that is as far as it goes for him. He doesn't love me."

"Hermione," she took her hand in hers, holding it firmly. "He loves you, I am sure of that."

"As a friend, only as a friend."

"Not the way you love him," Lavender said softly, wrapping her arms around her.

"Not the way I want him too."

"Things change, feelings change."

Hermione pulled away, "Not like this. I can live with being Harry's friend, and friend only. I couldn't face him again if he knew I felt this way towards him, and he didn't return those feelings. Our friendship would never be the same again."

"There are ways," Lavender smiled, a gleam in her eyes that Hermione instantly distrusted.

"Lav, I don't need a makeover."

She laughed, "I know. I adore this thing you've got going with your hair lately. But I don't mean it like that anyway. Ways to show Harry just what he is missing, that you mean everything to him, and are indeed the one for him.

"What are you talking about?"

"Alright, this inter-department project? Getting ready for the Cup? You are partnered with Harry?" Hermione nodded to confirm as Lavender put her feet up on her desk. "Okay, so long hours together, alone. A perfect opportunity to show Harry what he already knows; that you are a smart, capable witch. Not to mention that you care more about his wellbeing than anyone, including himself. Plus, you are gorgeous. It wouldn't take him long to realise that you, his closest friend are the one he should be with."

"You think so?" Hermione asked, unable to keep the optimism from her voice.

"Positive, or maybe you'll move on yourself. But it may help clear things up for you."

"Clarity is something I've been lacking lately."

"I know dear," Lavender grinned. "That's why you have me."

"I'd be lost without you."

"Absolutely, so when you are you going to march your little bum up to the second floor, and make a date?"

"I'm seeing him tomorrow for dinner, with Ron. I'll ask him then."

She shook her head, "No. No Ron, you make a date for Harry and yourself to work alone together."

"I'll ask him tomorrow."

"Hermione, love," Lavender sighed, pulling her out of her chair. "Time is of the essence, if you don't move now it could be too late. Go to it," she opened the office door, and all but shoved her out into the hall.

Instantly Hermione felt like her stomach was going to explode, her heart leaping out of her chest. "Lav, I can't do this."

She smiled down at her, "Yes you can. You have to, now, go. I won't let you back in till you've started this." Lavender glanced back at her desk, "And that looks like a lot of paperwork, bet you can't wait to get started."

"Exactly! That's why I should stay, and do my work, I'll talk to him tomorrow."

Laughing softly, "No! Be brave, go do this love. You need to get over this hurdle, you keep letting your head rule. What does your heart want?"

"You know what it wants."

"Then stop sitting on your hands, and go get it what it wants."

With a smile she shut the door in her face, Hermione felt the charms kick into action, and with her bag inside she had to do as ordered if she ever wanted to enter her office again, and with that big pile of paperwork, that was very important.

Hermione started to the elevator, partly cursing Lavender and partly thanking her. She didn't want to do this, but she wanted this more than anything. To get what she wanted, she had to do this, and it wasn't like she was going to tell him straight out. Maybe she'd invite him to her flat for dinner tonight, to look through the work. It was all on the surface, incredibly innocent, something two colleagues who were also friends could do easily. She could do this easily.

The doors opened slowly, and Hermione stepped into the crowded elevator. They closed behind her, and it started its ascent again. There were several floors between theirs, so it gave her a chance to keep her breath steady, and her palms dry. It was simple, just a little question between friends, the earth wouldn't move and tremble as she did.

The trip was too quick, and before long Hermione realised she was there. He was right there. At the end of the hall, talking to a colleague with a large smile on his face. Everyone moved past her, and she stood still, watching Harry. Her favourite thing to do of late. She started out of the elevator when she appeared, kissing him, then wrapping her arms around him in a fluid movement, a familiar movement.

It felt like her heart stopped beating in her chest, there was nothing to be felt. The blood simply stopped pumping through her veins.

"Are you getting out dear?"

Hermione was pulled from her growing despair by the Elevator Operator, "No. Sorry." The doors shut again, her eyes closing with them as she moved through the crowd to the back of the elevator.

Part of her knew she shouldn't be surprised, or even hurt by this. Harry was a single wizard, he was free to do what he wished, and if that was see other witches there was nothing holding him back.

It was a slow trip as the elevator continued up to the Atrium, before returning to her floor. Hermione walked slowly down the hall to her office, and its locked door. "Lavender?"

There was a loud gasp as footsteps rushed to the door, "Did you do it?!"

"No," Hermione whispered, leaning into the door. "Please, let me in."

"No! Now go do it."

"Lavender, I can tell you why, a very solid reason. But you have to let me in this fucking door."

The door opened instantly, Lavender having picked up on her dislike of cursing, so to hear it meant all was not well. "Hermione? What happened?"

"A hussy," Hermione said simply, stepping into the office.

"Oh honey," she sighed, shutting the door behind her, before pulling Hermione into a hug. "Are you sure?"

"It was pretty clear," she whispered, feeling her knees shake.

"I'm sorry."

"You didn't do anything," she said quietly, stepping out of her arms.

"No, I made you go. I made you do this."

"It was for the best," Hermione slid into her chair, pulling her work open. "It'll provide me with the will to move on, and stop having this ridiculous crush on Harry."

"Hermione, what are you doing?"

She looked up from the latest reports, "My job."

"Come on love," Lavender slid onto the edge of the desk. "Just stop for a minute, and talk to me about it?"

"Saying what exactly? That my heart feels like it's been broken into a million pieces, or that a giant knife was shoved into my back, and is screwing slowly?" Her eyes closing, to keep the tears from falling.

"That's a start," her hand moving in small circles over her back.

"It hurts okay, like nothing I've ever felt. With Ron it never hurt like this," Hermione said quietly, unable to stop her voice breaking. "That fact that I'm managing to speak right now, let alone breath I find astounding."

Lavender leaned over and closed the file, picking them all up, she placed them on her desk. "Go home."

"I can't," Hermione sighed, shaking her head. "I have a lot to do."

"I know, but you can't focus. I bet all you can think about right now is Harry, and I'm sure he's all you see whenever you close your eyes," she said softly. "You can't possibly work right now, and I'm sure you'll agree with me."

She turned to face her, "That's true. If I go home though, I'll be just the same."

"Maybe, but you'll be out of here," Lavender said, pulling her from the chair. "You'll be comfortable, maybe have a bath, give yourself some time to figure out what you are going to do."

"I want him to be happy," she said quietly, pulling her coat on.

"I know love, preferably with you?" Lavender smiled softly, passing Hermione her bag.

"You'll excuse me?"

"Of course, I owe you so many more."

"You do, but thank you."

Hermione stepped out of her bath, wrapping her robe around herself, she let the water out of the bath. She felt moderately better, having spent the last hour either attempting some sort of meditation in the comforting water, or huddled against the edge of the bath crying. Just when she thought that she was over her emotions, they would swoop in again and devastate her.

Hermione wanted Harry to be happy, that wasn't a lie, but a very large part of her wanted to control the who in the equation. She wanted him to be that kind of happy with her. The other part of her was cursing that side for being unhappy with her friend's happiness. She didn't know why she hadn't heard about this witch; it wasn't like Harry to keep things from her, least of all important things. Maybe he'd tell her soon, tomorrow possibly when they all had dinner together.

She walked down the hall to her lounge, curling her feet under her on the comfiest chair, Hermione pulled the blanket off the arm and over her. The fire was blazing in the corner, heating the room beautifully. Lavender had sent her home early to work her thoughts out, to figure out what she was going to do. It was simple, but not an easy decision to come to. She wanted Harry to be a part of her life, there was no other option. To have that, she had to accept that there was someone that wasn't her that held his heart, and prepare herself to meet this witch that he was clearly enamored with.

Hermione just wasn't sure she'd be able to, to look at Harry the same, feeling the way she did. To be able to accept feeling the way she did.

To live without Harry though, she wouldn't be able to do that. She knew what she had to do, she wouldn't like it, but it was the only she could do.

She settled down into the chair, comforted by her decision; not the what, but the why.

Hermione woke with a start some time later to a hand rubbing her knee, her eyes looking into the familiar green eyes of her best friend.

"Harry, what are you doing here?" She asked quietly, pulling herself up.

"I went by your office, and Lavender told me you came home sick," he smiled. "I came to see how you are."

"Lavender. What did she say?"

"That you weren't feeling well, so she sent you home. I was surprised, very unlike you Ms. Granger, and you were fine when I saw you at the meeting. She told me it came on suddenly."

"Very quick. Did you want something?" Hermione shifted around, bringing her feet to the ground in front of her.

Harry shrugged, "Just wanted to come by and see you." Her stomach swirled as he smiled at her, that special smile. "So how are you feeling? Can I get you anything? Some toast, a cup of tea?"

She smiled, "I'm fine, really. It was just an ache, but it's passed. I'll be back in the office tomorrow."

Harry stood, "Tea anyway?"

"Okay," Hermione nodded, letting him pull her up, his arms embracing her briefly.

"I'm glad you're okay, it was hard to understand Lavender. She was talking too bloody fast," he grinned, moving into the kitchen.

She watched him move around her kitchen easily, "What was she saying?"

"Oh, you falling ill, and the you had to come home early," Harry turned to her with a smile. "Which is incredibly surprising, when have you ever done that?"

"Never," she laughed.

"Thought as much," he chuckled. "Anyway, once again I am left wondering how on earth the two of you are so close."

"She's fine, she means well, she's just a little full on at times."

"She was carrying on about something. When I asked what was wrong with you, she said 'you should know and if you don't, I ain't telling you'."

"Really?" Hermione whispered taking the cup from him.

"Yeah, then she slammed the door in my face," Harry laughed.

Hermione sighed, shaking her head, "Don't worry about it. She's taken on my work as well, she's probably just feeling a little snarky."

"Right then," he sat down next to the fireplace. "But there's nothing I need to know? She was fairly insistent on that part."

"No, I don't keep anything from you."

He looked at her for a moment, "You've been different though lately. Ron told me I was imagining it, but there's something isn't there?"

"It's nothing, all over now."

"Is it why you came home early today?"

"Sort of."

"Then it's not nothing," Harry moved into the chair next to her. "You never leave early, have never had a sickie, what's going on?"

"There was something, but I've moved on. It's for the best."

"What was it?" He slid his hand onto her knee, "Was there anything I could do?"

Hermione smiled at him, "Absolutely nothing. I had to figure it out, and just let the feelings go."

"Feelings? It was someone? You were involved with someone?" He gasped, his mouth dropping open. "I had no idea."

"Oh no, I wasn't involved. I fancied someone, and I realised today that nothing would come of it, nor should anything. It's for the best."

"You said that already. What about him? Did he fancy you?"

Hermione shook her head, placing her tea on the end table. "He didn't even know, I couldn't tell him. Besides, he has his special someone, which I only realised today. Enter the ache from left of stage."

"The sod, I'm sorry love."

She smiled at her friend, the sod, "He did nothing, and it's fine Harry. I'm happy with my decision, and I'm really glad I never told him."

"It's surprising how well you hid it from us, not from Ron so much. But I should have realised."

I'm glad you didn't. "There are somethings we can't share Harry," she smiled. "I'm sure there are things you've kept from me."

"Nothing," he said quickly, draining his cup.

"Really? You drank that hot tea rather quickly."

Harry stood, "I tell you everything. I promise, no secrets."

"Okay," she stood as well, tightening her robe around her.

He rushed his cup into the kitchen, before heading to the door. "I'm glad you are alright Hermione, I'll see you tomorrow."

"Bye Harry," she said quietly, as the door slammed. "Not the only one with secrets, we've all got our share."

She knew that but she couldn't help but be a little disappointed that he didn't take the opportunity to tell her. It was a perfect slot, to be honest, to lay all his secrets on the table. Still he didn't, and it showed her how little she knew Harry lately.

Hermione picked up her cup and carried it into the kitchen, rinsing them both under the tap. One slipped from her fingers, and broke in the sink as the door slammed open. She turned to see Harry dash into her kitchen. "I'm the sod."

"What?" Hermione turned quickly back to the sink, picking up the remains of the cup.

"The one you fancied, it was me."

"That's ridiculous!" She laughed lightly, placing the fragments into the bin.

"Really? Lavender telling me I should know what was wrong, and that it was my fault. I distinctly remember her blaming me," Hermione felt him come up behind her, focusing her attention on the dishes as he continued. "Hermione, am I the sod?"

"I can't answer that," she whispered, moving quickly into her lounge.

"Am I? I am."

"You can't answer your own questions with what you think are the answers!"

"It all adds up!" He cried from right behind her. "Except, I'm not seeing anyone, not properly for a very long time."

Hermione turned back to him as he pulled her arm, "You're my best friend Harry, I don't fancy you."

"Well that's a shame," he whispered, pulling her to him, bringing his lips down to hers hard.

In that moment it was as if everything had shut down in Hermione, her heart stopped, her breath didn't come, her stomach dropping. Harry was kissing her, and all she could do was stand there, her arms hanging limply by her side. She could see herself reflected in his glasses, eyes wide open, and shocked.

Harry opened his eyes, and pulled his head away slightly, "Hermione."

"No Harry," she moved herself out of his grasp, crossing the room. "You can't do that, you aren't allowed!"

"I wanted to!"

"Because you think I fancy you! Not because you wanted to, I don't want or need a pity kiss!"

"Bloody hell Hermione! It's a not a fucking pity kiss," Harry stalked across to her, holding her around the waist to stop her from moving away. "The only reason I did it is because I wanted to, I was rather hoping you'd want me to as well. If I did it again, would you kiss me?"

Hermione turned from his face, "Please don't do this to me Harry." She wrapped her arms around her middle, the room suddenly cold and warm at the same time. This is what she wanted, more than anything she wanted Harry to want to do this with her. Not because he assumed she fancied him, and then proceeded to feel sorry for her.

He brought his hands up to her shoulders, rubbing them through the thin material, "Hermione. I'm sorry if I've done something you didn't want, but I can't help but think that you wouldn't respond like this if you didn't want me to do that."

Harry rested his chin on her shoulder, he brought his arms around her, laying them over her own. Swallowing thickly, she asked, "Why Harry?"

Hermione relaxed in his embrace as he pressed a kiss to her shoulder softly, "I'll be completely honest, and you will also?"


"And you will have to listen, just listen. You can ask questions after," he chuckled lightly into her ear.

"I can do that."

She felt him breath deeply, his arms tightening around her, she thought he was trying to prevent her from escaping. "Remember, let me finish before you ask questions, or start to think things. It doesn't start too good. I was a single, lonely wizard. I spent more than a few nights drowning the loneliness with a pint or five. Obviously under the influence I did some things you can figure out without me telling you, and one morning I woke up next to someone."

Hermione wasn't surprised by this, with two male friends she had heard it more times than she cared for. She had even embarked once herself, it was something she was never going to repeat.

"You know I can't see much without my glasses, adding in my hangover, when I woke up all I saw was brown," he laughed lightly. "First thought, it was you, and I wasn't freaked out, or terrified at all. It was actually a relief that it was you, not some random witch. Except it was. I put my glasses on, and it wasn't you. I was disappointed; for a few minutes I'd thought I'd spent the night with you, and surprisingly I liked that thought. Actually contemplated doing something again, something I would actually remember."

She felt her mouth drop as he said that, but she let him continue.

"It wasn't you though, and I got out of there as soon as possible. Then I spent the rest of the day wondering what the hell I was thinking, and trying to stop the traitorous thoughts of you. You're my best friend Hermione, I shouldn't have been thinking about you like that. Needless to say, my eyes opened, and I couldn't look at you the same way anymore. You weren't just Hermione anymore, you weren't just my best friend anymore, or Ron's first love. I couldn't, and didn't, stop thinking about you this way. Question?"

"You, started to..."

"Fancy you? More than a little yeah," he smiled, pulling her closer to him. "I tell you, it was more than a little confusing. I wasn't supposed to, and I tried to ignore it, label it something different, but I couldn't." Hermione had tried to ignore it at the beginning, even embarking on several dates with incredibly unsuitable wizards to no avail. There was only one she wanted. Harry turned her around to face him, "Your turn."

Hermione shook her head, "You have to tell me first. How do you feel about me?"

With a hand under her chin he pulled her eyes up to his, "I want you Hermione, completely. I want to spend every minute with you, to be the only one for you. It's not just physical, that's only part of it. I have to be close to you, touch you in some way. I can hardly make it through the day if I don't. It goes deeper than that though, I'm a mess if I don't see you, or hear you talk to me. I love you Hermione, I have for several years, but it's different now. I'm in love with you, and I think you're in love with me."

She started to nod, before remembering that smiling witch, "She kissed you."

"Who? When?" Harry asked, his arms holding her close.

"After the meeting, I came to see you, and she kissed you."

"Patrice," he laughed lightly, kissing her forehead. "She works down the hall from me, and just got engaged today to her boyfriend, now fiancée."

"She was very friendly."

"Always is."

"So there's no one?"

"No one since I thought of you," Harry said as she stepped away from him, putting the coffee table between them. "That's not a bad thing Hermione, I didn't want there to be anyone but you."

"I know, believe me, I know," she sighed. "For us, it's a good thing. But in the larger picture, it has the potential to be devastating. Do you remember when it ended between Ron and I?"

"Vividly," he smiled, placing his hands into his pockets.

"So you remember that we didn't see each other until nearly a month later? Or that it took us nearly three months to have a normal conversation again? The friendship between the three of us was very nearly ruined; you couldn't talk to either of us without feeling guilty."

"It was messy."

"Messy doesn't even come close to describing it!" Hermione exclaimed, her mind relieving the worst time in their friendship. "But, we got there in the end, just barely. Ron and I aren't the same anymore, but we are still friends, miraculously."

"He's fine, is that what this is? You don't want to hurt Ron?"

"I don't want to hurt any of us, I need both of you, and whatever this is it can't happen if there is even a tiny chance of it jeopardising the friendship between the three of us."

"It will be fine love," Harry smiled, coming around the table, he pulled her down into a chair beside him. "Don't get mad, but he knows."

"Knows what?"

"That I liked you. I couldn't come to you for obvious reasons, and it was doing my bloody head in. I needed to talk about it, and I could only go to him."

"What did he say?"

"Well, after he got over the shock," Harry grinned at her. "He was alright, he accepted it, probably because I assured him I wasn't going to do anything about these feelings. I didn't think you reciprocated."

"Sounds familiar," Hermione said quietly.

"Ron will be fine love, he knows how I feel. As long as this all works, our friendship will remain intact."

"That's a big risk Harry, if something happens, there is a large chance it won't work. Not for lack of trying from both sides, but it's tricky, I've been through it with Ron. Two friends together," she sighed. "I loved Ron, and I know he loved me, but it was too hard."

"Hermione it will work, I love you, we will make it work," Harry smiled brushing her cheek softly, before bringing his lips down to hers again. A gentle brush against her lips, ghosting them against hers. "Your turn."

"With what?" She whispered, feeling her heart race, his gaze locked onto her.

"I told you what happened with me, why don't you tell me what made you fancy me?" He grinned, brushing a kiss against her lips again.

"It's rather boring, no dazzling moment of clarity," Hermione smiled, looking down at his hand clasping hers. "I suppose it built over the last few months. You have always been important to me, you just became more important. Things had to be shared with you first, I had to see you when something special happened, everything just increased. I didn't think anything of it at the beginning, you're my best friend, things like that are normal. Then my parents had their thirtieth anniversary.

You and Ron didn't come for some reason, that doesn't matter. It was my dad, he made a speech. It was just beautiful, and what he said rang true to me. He told everyone how incredibly happy he was with my mum, how lucky he was to have spent thirty years with his best friend. Someone who knew him so well, who he could communicate with without saying a word. I sat there thinking how lucky they were to have that, and then it hit me, I had it already."

Harry's smile grew, his hand tightening around hers, "You didn't say anything."

"I'd rather have my best friend as my best friend only for the next thirty years, then remember back to the friend I had and lost because I ruined my friendship with unreturned feelings."

"That's not going to happen," he beamed at her.

"Which one?"

"The second one, and we'll alter the first. You aren't just my best friend anymore," Harry kissed her again, firmer this time as he pulled her close. Hermione softened against him this time, her arms wrapping around him.

It wasn't perfect, but she wouldn't change it for anything, if anything, it was better this way. They had to find their way together, finding the way they fit together. Glasses got in the way, she had to get used to touching Harry in unfamiliar places, and realise that it was him touching her in turn.

She couldn't help but jump as his hand brushed the side of her breast through her robe, Harry smiled against her lips, "Sorry."

"It's fine."

"Hermione, love, are you fine?" He asked quietly.

She nodded, "Just takes some getting used to. We've never kissed before, it's very new."

"Well there's only one way to fix that," Harry winked at her, moving her onto his lap.

"How's that Mr. Potter?"

"A whole lot of practice," he kissed her with each word, his hands smoothing down her back.

"You don't find this weird? An hour ago we didn't even imagine doing this, least we didn't expect it, I may have been hopeful," Hermione whispered, running her hand through his hair.

"I'll admit to a little weirdness, a dash of confusion, but the relief overrides that. I've spent the last month wanting this, you in my arms like this, and then convincing myself it would never happen. I'm not going to spend too long worrying about it, and neither will you."

"I won't be able to help it," she laughed lightly. "Not till I've got it all figured out."

"We'll figure it out, together."

"No rushing, just take it easy."


"With that in mind, you should probably take your hand off my butt."

Harry smiled as he pressed a kiss to the gap in her robe, "I don't really want to."

"And this newly formed taking it slowly agreement?"

He shifted them around, laying her down on the lounge, reclining over her. "I agree that the premise of going slow is a lovely idea, but it only really matters if you don't know the person you are becoming involved with. You my dear, know me better than anyone. So I am going to give you permission to get as fresh with me as you wish."

"Fresh?" Hermione laughed, before shaking her head. "While I concur Harry, I don't think I could know anyone better than you, I don't want this to be just about - that. I can't do that."

Harry kissed her again, "Relax love, you and I would never just be shagging. Not to say that I don't foresee a fair bit of it." Hermione smiled as he flushed, pushing his glasses up. "This is different, it's special, you feel that too?"

"Yeah," she whispered, moving as his arm around her, pulling her to him. "It's love, I love you Harry, and I really want this to work."

"Me too."

"The physical side of things doesn't matter, what I feel for you is the only thing that matters. When we get there, we get there, but I don't want to rush this, to make it something it's not ready for. Do you understand Harry?"

He beamed down at her, "Absolutely. You just let me know as soon as you are ready, and I'll be more than willing."

Hermione laughed, resting her head on his shoulder. "I suppose we'll have to thank Lav, she is the reason I went to see you this afternoon, I don't think we'd be here otherwise."

"She'll be awfully smug won't she?" Harry sighed.

"A little, but she'll mostly be pleased. She's been telling me for weeks to go do something, to tell you what I was feeling."

"I change my mind, she's a lovely witch. You really should listen to her more," he grinned, eyes shining behind his glasses.

"Don't let her hear that, she's going to be rather insufferable."

"We'll deal with her tomorrow, there's something more important at the moment."

"Oh, what's that?"

Harry dropped his lower lip, sighing deeply, "I gave you leeway to have your way with me, and you haven't touched me since. I can't help but feel neglected."

A light giggle passed her lips as she slipped his glasses off, placing them on the top of the couch, "I'm so sorry Harry, I feel terrible."

"Yes, you should," moving them around, so she was leaning over him.

Hermione smiled down at him, his hands moving up the back of her legs as she shifted her weight around. "I think you're right Harry."

"How so?"

"We know each other, extremely well in most ways, I think it's time we covered one of those unfamiliar ones."

"But you just said..."

"I know, I don't want to confuse you Harry. I want us to take our time, to do this right, but an even larger part of me wants to..."

"Have your wicked way with me?" He grinned at her.

"Something like that yeah," she laughed, kissing him firmly, her hands resting on either side of his head.

"Then Hermione, I am all yours. As much of me as you'd like."

Hermione returned his smile, loving the look on his face, having his arms wrapped around her. "I'll take it all if I'm allowed."

"It's no-one elses."