Title: Without You, There is Nothing

Author: gphoenix51

Category: Action/Romance/Humor

Rated: NC-17 for Violence, Sexual Themes, Sex Scenes, and Naughty Language…lots of Naughty Language

Pairings: Main: Harry/Hermione, Neville/Luna

Slight: Harry/Luna, Hermione/Ron

Spoilers: Books 1-5, because the series mysteriously ended after book 5.

Disclaimer: All products, movies, music, TV shows, comic books, novels, and any other Brand Names are the properties of their specific companies. All Harry Potter characters and places belong to JKR. All original work and characters in this story are copyrighted by me, gphoenix51© 2008-2009. Severe Ginger Bashing ahead!

Summary: Harry Potter has won the war, but hasn't won the girl. He may be the most powerful Wizard in the world, but his power is helpless to save the woman he loves from a loveless relationship. Will Hermione ever escape Ron and be with the man she's destined to be with?

Without You, There is Nothing

Chapter 1 – Harry's Perspective

Harry Potter wasn't what you'd call a normal guy. For one, he could use magic. Not just use it, but command it. Because of his destiny, because of what he'd learned and how he'd learned it, Harry Potter could make magic do what he wanted it to do. Without a wand, without incantations, he just commanded his magic to do what he needed it to do. Harry hadn't actually carried his Holly and Phoenix Feather Core wand for years; it was hanging in its place of honor in his trophy room at Black Manor, along with Sirius' wand. Riddle's snapped wand was there as well, sealed in a Lucite case that only he could see.

Now, that kind of power and ability would give many people out there what they needed to hurt others, maybe even become the next Dark Lord. Which would require another Prophecy and another scar headed person to beat their ass. Like Harry did. But the fact that he was probably the most powerful wizard in the world and could rule it with little trouble never crossed his mind, he just didn't think that way. Besides, ruling the world would be a complete bitch and take up entirely too much of his time.

But, for all his power, for all his abilities, money, status, and loads of other crap he got saddled with before and after Riddle's defeat, there was one thing he was missing. The one thing magic couldn't do, was get the woman he loved to notice him as anything other than her best friend in all the world. Well, magic could do that; it could make her love him. But what that would require was so repugnant, so indecent, that Harry would rather kill himself in very unique and startling ways than even contemplate it. So, for all intents and purposes, magic was worthless in this situation.

About as worthless as the "man" (and Harry used that term very loosely) she was currently with. Supposedly his other friend, his "best mate", his Quidditch buddy, his first magical friend his own age. Truthfully, Harry hadn't actually been Ron's friend for quite sometime. And it wasn't when Ron started dating the woman Harry loved either. Lots of people would probably think that would be the perfect time to start disliking his best mate. No, Harry was actually happy for them, as happy as he could be of course. Harry would rather be the one escorting the beautiful brown and brown witch around the city. He'd rather be the one who took her on candlelit dates, to wine and dine her.

But no, that wasn't his pleasure to have. It wasn't Harry that was supposed to make Hermione Jane Granger blush with delight, it wasn't Harry that was allowed to see her in various states of undress, it wasn't Harry that was allowed to please her in ways that only two people in love were supposed to please one another. It wasn't Harry who was allowed to show her how much he truly loved her. No, Harry James Potter, The Conqueror of the Dark Lord, (or whatever other stupid ass title they had branded him with lately), the man who loved Hermione Granger with everything he had in him, wasn't supposed to feel that way about her. Wasn't supposed to want to be with her as more than her best friend, as more than anything but complete innocence. Simply because his other friend had liked her first, and Harry privately thought if he ever met the guy (had to be a guy, no woman would be that stupid, cept maybe Ginny) who created that rule; he'd happily drag that asshole into the street and shoot him in the face.

But Harry did love Hermione; he had been in love with Hermione since their 5th year at Hogwarts. "Alright, 4th year if you want to get technical about it, but I hadn't really acknowledged it then." He bitched mentally.

Unfortunately, he didn't ever think Hermione would see him as anything but her best friend, and when he'd noticed how Ron had felt about her, he decided he didn't want to interfere with that. If Ron was the one who could make her happy, then he'd step back. He'd stay out of their way. He wouldn't try to break them up, fight for her or anything else done in the movies. He'd be happy for her, and suffer the shards of his broken heart in silence.

Harry had tried to forget her of course, first with Cho Chang, which at been an unqualified disaster. Then, dating Luna Lovegood in his 6th and 7th year and beyond. "Ahh Luna, I actually thought she could make me forget Hermione. And she did, for a while." He thought wistfully.

Luna and Harry had a special connection; before they even knew each other. Luna was the only one who had believed him, without question or suspicion, about the thestrals in 5th year. Even Hermione couldn't claim that, but Harry figured it was because she hadn't ran across them yet in her books, otherwise she'd have known what he was talking about. Harry was one of the few people who listened to Luna talking about "supposedly" imaginary creatures without insulting or ignoring her. He actually found it endearing, she believed in strange things yes, but she believed in them strongly. And she was loyal to those beliefs, and that loyalty was evident in the rest of her life. She simply had a different outlook on life, she saw the world differently. No one had or could conclusively prove those things didn't exist, so Luna thought there was no harm in believing they did exist.

Course, those supposedly "strange and imaginary" creatures suddenly became much less imaginary when he and Luna had actually found a Crumple Horned Snorkack, several of them in fact. They weren't in Sweden, they'd found them in the mountains of China. And it wasn't a large creature as Luna had previously thought. It looked to be a normal sized bunny rabbit, though it was covered in fur that could change colors according to its mood and surroundings. Not to mention the horn, most of the ones they had found in the colony had horns about three inches long. It was only after they found them that Harry realized Luna's Patronus wasn't a Hare like he always thought, it was a Snorkack, and he'd just never noticed the small horn on its head. Course, they're were usually Dementors around trying to kill them at the time, so he had an excuse. He had never seen her so happy, especially when she had managed to coax a few of these rare creatures to come home with her and she still raised them in her own colony.

Luna was also the only one who had heard the voices in the Death Chamber, at the Arch where his beloved Godfather, Sirius Black, had met his end at the hand of his demented cousin. When the war had hit full swing, and it was the four of them on the front lines, Harry had quite enjoyed hunting that bitch down and avenging Sirius.

But, even his connection with the beautiful, smart and almost perfect Luna Lovegood, couldn't compare to his unbreakable bond with Hermione. If it hadn't been for the fact that he was in love with Hermione, Harry would have actually been very happy with Luna for a very long time, the rest of his life in fact. They had both tried, they dated for years. Lots of people thought they were going to be married. But, there was something missing between them. Some spark, some snap that they didn't have. And while they were mostly happy, they weren't completely happy. Luna had felt the bond Harry had with Hermione. Had eventually realized that if she couldn't replace it, if she couldn't make Harry completely happy, then only one person could. And she was going out with Ron. One thing that Harry had been obscenely pleased about was how well the breakup between them had gone.

Luna had taken Harry aside after their last date, when they retired to Black Manor, and laid it all out for him. How she had tried to help him forget his best friend, at least, tried to get him to stop chasing her when she was apparently happy with Ron. How Luna had cared too much for Harry to see him pining away for something he may never get. But she knew that he'd never be truly happy unless he was with Hermione. Harry had come clean too, how he had tried desperately to forget his feelings for Hermione. How he had tried to lose himself in Luna, and how it had worked for a time. He had been genuinely happy with her, had really wanted it to work. But, there was something missing between the two of them, some connection, some bond that they'd never have. Because Harry already had it with Hermione Granger. Luna had also confessed to him that she hadn't felt a bond with him either. He really did love Luna, loved her enough that he couldn't keep her in a relationship when she wasn't completely happy. Luna had agreed, she loved Harry too, but if he couldn't be completely happy with her, then it couldn't work in the long run, and they should end it and stay friends.

After making love one last time, Harry and Luna had split amicably. About six months later, she had started dating Neville Longbottom, and last he heard from both his former DA allies and good friends, they were exceedingly happy together, and Luna had told him privately that she found her bond with him. Harry was insanely happy for them; he knew that Neville would treat his ex-girlfriend and still damn good friend Luna very well, and more important, he could make Luna truly happy. That's all that mattered to Harry, he may not love Luna romantically anymore, but he loved her as a good friend and wanted her to be happy.

But now…Harry was alone.

So, here he was, kicked back in a rather upscale Muggle club, dressed in his black on black suit jacket, silk shirt and slacks, his Doc Marten boots crossed under the table, stirring his almost empty Coke with his tattooed right hand while his left arm was slung around the back of his chair, bouncing his head to the beat of the music and easily ignoring all the glances and come hither stares he got from the various club girls around the room. He could have had his pick from any of them. All it would have taken was a wink and a slight tilt of his head, and he'd have at least three of them in his lap in an instant. "That is, if I was Draco fucking Malfoy and that big of a fucking git bastard." Harry mentally snarled.

He wasn't stupid; and he'd have to be blind to not notice the fairly ravenous looks directed his way from some of the girls gyrating around them. He would have loved to get up and dance with a few of the ladies, an activity he quite enjoyed now. But past experience told him that they'd take it as more than just wanting to dance. He had never, never once in his 21 or so years, ever used his looks, fame or fortune that way. Had never and would never take advantage of any woman that way. Had only ever been intimate with one woman period. It had taken a long time before he and Luna had been comfortable enough to take their relationship to the next level, and Harry knew then that he just couldn't be intimate with a stranger. And while Luna had praised his technique and ability, as he had hers, he never felt the need to "practice" with any other woman. He'd just never been the type to just go nail some random girl to try and forget Hermione. He knew he could shag every woman in the world and still never forget her.

"Like another Coke hun? Or something stronger maybe?" The waitress asked him, a bouncy redhead (in more ways than one). She smiled at him and gave him a saucy wink, Harry mentally rolled his eyes. "God, save me…"

"Thanks, I'll have another one, you two want anything?" Harry asked his tablemates. Hermione ordered another virgin daiquiri and Ron got another bourbon, his fifth of the night. The beauty queen pretending to be a waitress winked at Harry again and walked off. Well, you couldn't call it a "walk" exactly, not with the way her hips were swishing back and forth. Harry could tell this was what their waitress was doing because most of the male eyes (and some of the female ones) around them were following the movements of her ass in her tight jeans.

He didn't particularly care about the other people around them, but he greatly cared about how Ron was practically drooling on the table watching her. "Bastard has the most beautiful, most intelligent, and the sexiest woman in the fucking world on his arm, and he can't stop staring at the waitress' ass while she was busy making eyes at me. Christ, it's like a fucking Shakespeare tragedy, this is." Harry mentally rolled his eyes again, along with a deep, suffering sigh. It was always like this when they went out, Ron couldn't keep his eyes off the club girls, and Hermione pined for his attention all night. And Harry just sat there, the immobile statue, paralyzed from making a move, all because he was too fucking noble to just fight for the hand of the woman he loved.

"Damn Harry, she's a looker! You should definitely go after that one." Ron said, finally taking his eyes off the aforementioned looker's ass. Harry finished off his Coke and looked piercingly at Ron, which would have had him flinching if he wasn't mostly three sheets into the wind already.

"Sorry Ron, not interested." said Harry, flatly. He really, really, was getting sick and tired with people trying to hook him up with another girl. He hadn't had a relationship since Luna, and only the two of them knew why. No one else did, of course. "Can't let that slip out of the bag, might get what we want then, and we can't have that, can we Mr. Potter?" his inner voice silkily whispered to him. Harry told his inner voice to get stuffed.

"Too bad mate, she really is hot." Ron said, ignoring the hottest girl in the room who was already sitting at his side, which was seriously starting to piss Harry off. He also decided not to mention that any and all chances of him being attracted to any redhead period, went up in flames with Ginny and her psycho crush. One that had pushed her to amazingly low tactics to try and bed him. The topper was the Love and Lust potion combo he discovered in his drink near the end of 6th year. As if he hadn't had enough on his plate with Riddle and his cronies running rampant in the country side, killing and torturing anyone they came across.

Nope, apparently he also had to deal with the insane crush of one Ginny Weasley. Fed no doubt, by Molly Weasley's "One Big Happy Weasley Family" bollocks. After her last attempt to snare "The Great Harry Potter", Luna (bless her) had taken the young redhead aside and put the fear of God into her. He never could get Luna to tell him exactly what she said to the crazy little bitch, but whatever it was, worked marvelously. Ginny wouldn't come near Luna or himself after that. Harry had shown Luna his gratitude by fucking her senseless in the Room of Requirement, her screaming his name the whole time. It always brought a wistful smile to his face, like now.

"I know that smile, you're thinking about Luna again aren't you? Well, she's taken mate, by Neville of all people." Ron said, in the loud, happy voice only drunks seem to get. "Which was a perfect, perfect, gorramn mood killer." Harry thought as the smile slid off his face and clattered to the floor.

"You really should try to get over Luna, Harry. She's happy with Neville now." Hermione said, her voice low and soothing. He gave his best friend a half grin and patted her hand; expecting, and receiving, the familiar jolt of electricity every time he touched her.

Completely ignoring Ron, Harry spoke to Hermione. "I know she is Mione, and I'm very happy for her. I am. Believe me, I'm not trying to get her back, or just sit and pine for her. If Neville makes her happy, then I'm happy for the both of them." Harry rattled his empty glass and popped some ice in his mouth.

Swallowing the crushed ice, he gave her a huge wink and said, "Besides, if Nev does hurt her, he won't live long enough to realize the horrible mistake he made." Harry said, only half kidding. He knew Nev wouldn't ever mistreat Luna, but the threat of a fate worse than Riddle's if he did, never hurt. Hermione huffed and slapped his arm, which brought a bigger grin to Harry's face. He loved it when she did that, it was so damn cute.

Then, the waitress showed up and handed out their drinks while collecting the empties, bending over and giving Harry an obscenely good view down her loose top. She was more than slightly put out when she realized Harry wasn't paying her a lick of attention. He was instead focused on the brown haired woman who herself was focusing a glare at her boyfriend's blatant stare at the waitress' tight, denim covered butt, and the whale tail she was apparently sporting.

In offering her goods to Harry, she had inadvertently put her ass right in Ron's face. And, being the git he was, couldn't help himself and had a closer look. Seeing this, Harry wondered why in the hell it always seemed that the assholes got the girl, Neville being the exception. Harry, none too gently, kicked Ron under the table. He started and almost spilled his bourbon.

Looking rather pissed, Ron said "Bloody Hell mate! What was that for?"

Harry ignored that question and instead asked, "Ron, don't you think you've had enough of those? Won't Fred and George be a little whiffed that you're hungover at the shop tomorrow? If you end up selling another box of Weasleys' Wildfire Whiz-bangs at below market price, they'll make you the product tester for their Skiving Snackbox Mark II's." He said, knowing full well what new products the Twins were working on, being their silent partner.

At this, Ron drunkenly threw an arm around Hermione and jerked her toward him. Her daiquiri would have been all over the pair of them had Harry not commanded a stasis field around it. Hermione knew what he had done, and silently thanked him with her eyes. Harry gave her a half wink and slight nod. Tearing them out of their moment was Ron's voice.

"Aw, don't worry about it Harry. Hermy here can brew up an anti-hangover potion in no time. Can't ya luv?" Ron slurred. Hermione turned red at her hated nickname. Apparently, Ron had never gotten the hint that she hated the name Hermy, not only did it make her sound like she was five years old, but it was also the only part of her name that Grawp could say and that still brought back bad memories. Strangely enough, Hermione never seemed to have a problem with Harry's nickname for her. He called her Mione because it had just popped into his head one day and stuck. He thought it was for two reasons he liked calling her that, the first was it sounded more dignified and mature, like she was. And the other, more private reason, was that if you dropped the "o", every time he said "Mione", he was really saying "Mine", which is what Harry wanted her to be. His, his girl, the woman he loved. But she wasn't, and it stuck in his craw that she'd rather be with that drunken fuckwit than with him. But…it was her choice, and he wouldn't begrudge her that or get in their way. Which is why, other than the occasional banter and surreptitious touches, he never showed his true feelings for her.

"I might just leave you in pain, Ronald Weasley, if you ever call me that name again." She said, extremely annoyed.

Ron ignored her, which was par for the course. "Harry, I don't understand why you never drink anything stronger than those Muggle softy drinks. The bourbon here is great!"

Harry sighed "Because Ron, I never could abide the taste of alcohol. Occasionally, at special functions, fine. But I've never liked it enough to want to drink it all the time." He put a special emphasis on the last three words. Harry didn't know if it was his red hair, or just his Weasley constitution, but Ron was a hard drinker. He wasn't a drunk (yet), but when he did drink, he always drank himself into a stupor, which he was quickly on the way to now. Harry knew, in a few minutes, Hermione would have to carry his ass back to their flat, and he would miss any time he could spend with her, on one of the few nights they had off together. Harry being Auror Captain and Hermione being part of the Auror Medical Corps, on loan from St. Mungo's, they saw plenty of each other at work, but didn't have time for anything but work at those instances. Which is why Harry treasured their days off together, so he could actually spend time with her. "Pleasurable Torture" he liked to call it. It was wonderful to be close to her, to spend time with her, but hated being so far away from her.

Ron suddenly stood up and said, rather loudly and oh so eloquently, "I gotta hit the bog." And drunkenly stumbled off in that direction. Harry sighed loudly and rubbed his eyes, thankful for two things. That Ron was finally out of his hair for a few moments, and that he'd dumped those horrible glasses Vernon and Petunia had saddled him with.

In 6th year, he began getting blinding headaches, and while he first thought they were related to Riddle, Hermione and Luna had finally figured out it was because his glasses needed to be updated. How out of date his glasses were they didn't know until they'd visited the Eye Healer in Diagon Alley. Turned out, his prescription was so out of date, Healer Martha Jones had been amazed Harry could even see, and wasn't surprised at all at his stupendous migraines.

Severely pissed, Harry went all out and got the most expensive set of contacts Healer Jones had ever sold. They had several features, they were self cleaning and self lubricating; and never had to be removed ever again. They ran off his magical core, could only be taken out if he ever said the release word, and he paid extra for them to auto update as well; they changed as his prescription changed. In fact, it was thanks to those contacts that he had been able to see Ginny's Love Tonic Spike in his drink. It was one of the many features for sale, to spot poisons and potions in drinks and food. Harry had bought every one of the features they had, wanting every edge he could get.

"Thank God for that." Harry said. He heard a soft sigh and looked up to see Hermione looking wistfully at him. As soon as he made eye contact with her, she turned away, trying to hide her blush, but he saw it anyway. Seeing something in her eyes, Harry tried for humor.

"Remind me again why we go out with that drunken pillock?" Harry asked, a half grin on his face. But Hermione didn't smile.

"Because he's your friend and my boyfriend, and because if he went out alone, he'd never find his way back." She sighed.

Feeling bold, Harry leaned closer and said, "Would that be so bad though?" he asked quietly. Hermione looked at him, and he could see the sadness in her eyes, the longing, and it made his heart break. Harry had never quite seen that look in her eyes before, and it pushed him farther.

"Why do you do this to yourself Hermione? Why him? With the way he treats you? The way you two argue all the time? Why? How?" Harry said, his inner wonderings bursting free. He'd never asked those questions before, especially never that bluntly and he suddenly realized he might have just crossed a line. Trying to think of someway to repair the damage, Harry frantically tried to say something. But Hermione beat him to it.

"That's a terrible thing to say about your best…" she said quietly, but Harry cut across her.

"He's not my best friend Hermione, you are my best friend! He is just a friend, and sometimes I wonder if he's even that!" Harry burst out angrily. Hermione looked shocked at his outburst.


"The way he treats you, the way he ignores you. How do you put up with it? Why do you put up with it?" Harry said, the anger in him building.

"It's not as simple as that." She said.

"Then what is it? What is it that makes you stay with him? You're too smart to have missed him checking out half the girls in this club, while ignoring you." He said, anger etching his voice.

"Well, maybe he can't help it, they are prettier than…" Hermione started, but Harry slapped the table between them, hard. It sounded like a gunshot, but lost to most of the crowd in the blasting of the club music.

"That's fucking bullshit Hermione; you are the prettiest, hottest and sexiest girl in this place and every other place. If he has problems keeping his eyes on you, he needs to get the fucking things checked, because apparently he's gone blind." Harry said, instinctively saying what he'd always kept hidden. His anger was pushing him farther than he'd ever gone before. Hermione's hand crept up to her mouth, which was in the cutest "o" shape. Her cheeks were red, this time a blush of embarrassment and obvious pleasure. Apparently the git didn't tell her the truth often enough.

Before she could even begin to form a response, there was a commotion somewhere behind her. Harry's combat instincts, honed to a fine razor edge in the war, then polished to an even sharper sheen in the Auror Corps, tracked and assessed the problem. Using his contacts, he zoomed in on the disturbance. Three men were accosting another at the bar. A tall blonde woman was standing off to the side, her face scarlet with anger, looking at the single man with absolute loathing. Harry snarled when he recognized the familiar shock of red hair.

"It's Ron, isn't it?" Hermione said quietly. His eyes met hers and she knew the answer, she could see it in his emerald eyes. Her hand slid across the table to grasp his, "Help him, Harry. Please? I know you don't want to, but help him."

Harry never could deny Hermione anything, and it had gotten worse after he fell in love with her. His gaze met hers; he nodded once, squeezed her hand and said two words that sent shivers down her spine.

"For You."

Harry stood up and reflexes honed on the Quidditch Pitch and battlefield allowed him to quickly make it over to Ron. The three men were facing Harry, and Ron was slowly backing away. Shifting into Auror mode, Harry clapped his hand hard on the drunken redhead's shoulder.

His authoritative voice boomed out. "This man causing you three gentlemen trouble?" Harry said, trying to pass himself off as a bouncer. His black suit jacket, black button up shirt and black slacks were similar to what they were wearing, plus the tattoo on his hand and the other end of it curling around his neck helped, so maybe it would work. Ron tried to splutter something out, but Harry's grip tightened hard on the nerves in his shoulder and he went quiet.

"Yeah, this GIT was feeling up my girl!" Said the shorter one, in a thick Cockney accent.

"Bastard ain't got no right!" said his taller friend, a deep Irish accent, clouded in anger.

"I dunna care if'n he is drunk, he shouldn't be touchin' the lady!" Very, very thick Scottish brogue on this one.

"I agree with you gentlemen, I'm sorry Miss. I'll toss him and his grabby hands out. Please, enjoy yourselves and have a round on me." Harry snagged the closest waitress and whispered in her ear to give these 4 people a round and put it on his tab at the table Hermione was at. She swished off to fill the order. The guys looked pleased, though they still glowered at Ron. Harry tipped an invisible hat at the lady, who blushed. Leading Ron around by the scruff of his neck, they weren't but 3 feet away when it all went to Hell.

"Fuckin' whore! Shouldn't have your ass sticking out like that then, if you didn't want a pinch!" Ron yelled out, almost tripping over himself. Harry could hear the footsteps of three very pissed off men moving toward them, closing fast. Hoping to diffuse the situation, and really, really wanting to break his face for that remark, Harry hauled Ron around and punched him dead in the face. He went out like a crushed light bulb and crumpled to the floor. But apparently, the three men wanted to do that themselves and were even more pissed that Harry did it first.

So, of course, they turned on Harry.

"Son of a bitch!" he snarled.

Irish came in high and outside, leading with a punch like a boxer. Harry caught his wrist, then twisted and locked it tight. Irish grunted as he felt his wrist lock, and then screamed as Harry answered with a flat palm to his eye. He fell away, cradling his face and howling. Cockney bellowed like a bull and charged Harry, who pivoted on his right leg and spun, bringing his left boot heel up to connect with his face. Harry heard and felt the crack as it connected and Cockney was flung into another table, crushing it with his weight. Scottish headed in, along with Irish, who had stopped screaming at was looking at Harry with murderous rage, his left eye severely bloodshot. Sensing the floor clear behind him, Harry waited for them to get in range and then back flipped, bringing his legs up fast. Both of his booted feet connected with their jaws, knocking them both to the ground and sending them to dream land. Harry snap kicked himself back to standing and fell into a ready combat stance, waiting for the next attack.

It never came. The three men were out, sprawled on the floor in heaps. Harry straightened his jacket and then roughly pulled Ron to his feet. He dragged his limp form out the front door of the club and threw him in the gutter, asking the bouncer outside to watch him and to call him a cab if he wasn't back out in 20 minutes, throwing the guy a hundred pound note for the trouble and a fifty for the cabbie. Walking back into the club, he was assaulted by a screaming, bouncing blonde. Grabbing her by the shoulders, he tried to calm her down. Finally having to shake her a bit to get her to get her attention, Harry told her how sorry he was, that he happened to agree with her friends and that no woman deserved to be groped like that. He apologized again and asked her to call them an ambulance and to send him the hospital bill, handing her his card with his Muggle info and post office box on it. Heading back inside, he talked to the bartender and, finding out he was the owner too, gave him another card and slipped him a couple hundred pounds. Saying he'd gladly pay for the damages and a free round for the entire club, also paying for his own tab.

"Now, all I need is Hermione and we can get out of this fucking place." He thought. Looking around for his best friend, he started when she tapped him on the shoulder. Hermione was standing right behind him; her face was red with embarrassment.

"How long have you been following me?" Harry asked, slightly annoyed with himself that he never once sensed her. But he'd long ago acknowledged the blind spot he had where she was concerned.

"Since you got up from the table." She said simply. "Harry, I'm so…" He held up his hand, stopping her.

"Don't, Hermione. Not for him. Don't ever for him. He's not worth it." Harry sighed and ran his hand through his hair, "Come on, we better get him out of the street and take his stupid ass home." He ushered her outside.

"Hey man, your friend is still out." The bouncer said.

"Must be all the booze, I didn't hit him that hard." Harry lied, blocking Ron from view while Hermione cast a diagnostic charm on him. He'd actually put quite a bit of force in that punch and he hoped he broke the asshole's jaw.

"You popped him? What'd he do?" the bouncer asked, surprised.

"He felt up a lady at the bar. She didn't like it, neither did her pissed off boyfriend, or his two equally pissed off buddies. I had everything under control till he opened his stupid mouth and claimed she wanted it. I thought punching him out would take care of it, but apparently not. Had to take them out too, ambulance should be here in a few minutes to pick them up." Harry said nonchalantly, bending over to grab Ron up and toss him over his shoulder. A feat he wouldn't have been able to accomplish if it hadn't been for his training.

"Damn white boy, remind me to offer you a job next time you come by, and not to piss you off." The bouncer laughed, his white teeth showed clearly against his mahogany skin.

Harry laughed too, then shook the bouncer's hand. "Don't go feeling up any ladies then, unless they tell you otherwise. And thanks, but I already have a job. Keep the fifty; we'll take the git home." The bouncer's smile widened and he called after them.

"Hey, you're alright man. You and your girl come back anytime, you hear?"

"Thanks, we will." Harry called back, tossing a wave over his shoulder. His insides jumped, "I only wish she was my girl." He thought sadly. Harry and Hermione walked to the end of the street. Rounding the corner, and with the coast clear, they silently Apparated to Ron and Hermione's flat.


Harry popped into existence, looking around the small flat; he adjusted Ron on his shoulder and headed off for their bedroom.

"Have a seat Mione; I'll toss the git in bed. Be right back."

"You don't have to..." She called, but he was already around the corner. Their door was already open, so he just kicked it open all the way. The sight that met his eyes confused and stunned him. Instead of one large bed, there were two smaller beds. "What the hell? Why two beds?" he thought. Weirder still, they were at opposite ends of the room, and Hermione's was closest to the door. Which one belonged to whom was easy to answer, Ron's bed was a complete disaster, the sheets half torn off and crumpled in patches. Hermione's was neat as a pin, precisely made and waiting for her to come back. He wasn't even sure that magic could have made up the bed that well.

While Harry never really bothered making his own bed, (he really saw no point, he was just gonna mess them up again, sleeping there every night) he didn't leave them trashed like Ron did. He was neat, but not too neat. And if they did get too messy, Winky would scold him good naturedly and make them herself, saying he couldn't ever do it right. Sighing, Harry threw Ron on his bed. He then snapped his fingers and conjured a bucket incase the drunk had to puke in the night.

Leaving the room, Harry shut the door and headed down the hall. Walking into the living room, he saw Hermione on the couch, her head in her hands, her shoulders shaking. He could tell she was crying; soft, silent tears. Harry stood there watching her, conflicted. On the one hand, he wanted nothing more than to leap over the couch and hold her in his arms and make her forget that worthless bastard. On the other, no matter how Ron treated her, she was still his girlfriend. Even though Harry really didn't care about Ron's feelings at this point, he knew the guilt would destroy Hermione. Which is why he always stayed away, kept back. Limited his contact with her, because he knew it was always bubbling under the surface, the front he put up, it always was waiting to be set free. And he'd come closer tonight than ever before to doing so.

"I'm sorry Hermione." It was all he could think of to say. She didn't turn, didn't stop.

"Why Harry?" she said, pure misery in her voice.

"Because I want better for you, because you're my best friend and the person I trust most in this world, and you should have someone who treats you better than a trinket or a trophy. And because it isn't my place to question your motives or anything else about your relationship. It isn't my place and it isn't my business. So…I'm sorry." Harry actually thought it was his business, since she was his best friend. But he was also very biased, so that made it less his place to question her.

"And I'm sorry I was so short with you earlier. Like I said, it's not my place." Harry said, his voice emotionless, almost cold. He strapped down his need; his need to protect her, his need to fight for the woman he loved, his need to kick the living shit out of the bastard that didn't deserve her and the need to shake her till she realized what a mistake she was making. "It wouldn't do any good anyway; all I'd do is hurt her." He thought in misery.

"It's alright, like you said, you only want the best for me. I meant, why does he do this?" She asked, and Harry couldn't take it anymore. He walked around to the couch and sat on the matching ottoman. He took her hands in his and looked into her watery eyes. His heart shattered at the sight of them. He never could stand to see her cry.

"I don't know, Mione. I truly don't. I have never understood why he does the things he does. Why he's so jealous of me, when he knows I'd give it all up in a second to have my parents and Sirius back. Why he argues so much with you, and how he can say he cares so much about you after one of those blowups, when he causes them. Why he drinks so much, especially when he always acts worse after he's wasted, and knows he does. Why he can't keep his hands to himself, and why he can't keep his eyes on the most beautiful woman in the world, especially since she is his girlfriend." Harry whispered to her, and she flushed again.

"Apparently I'm not, if he has so many problems with showing it or saying it." She said, and she looked so sad, so hurt, so lost and alone. It broke him, and he couldn't take it anymore. Harry moved off the ottoman and sat next to her, he gently took her face in his hands and spoke, very quietly to her.

"Hermione Jane Granger, you are the most intelligent, the bravest, the strongest, the most powerful, the sexiest and the most beautiful woman in the entire world." His voice was so quiet, so soft, but she heard every word crystal clear.

"Harry…" She said, her voice a cross between a whisper and a plea. His face moved closer, he was too close, too close to her, too close to her mouth. She could feel his breath on her lips. She knew what was about to happen, knew it and welcomed it. Hermione's eyes fluttered closed, and Harry kissed her.

It was so tender, so soft, but there was so much pent up emotion in his kiss; she thought she might drown in it. His hands moved from her face to cup the back of her neck, his fingers lost in her brown curls, his thumbs stroking her cheeks. His touch was like fire, every soft caress was like electricity, and she moaned. Her own hands were in his hair; how they got there she didn't know or care. God, she loved his hair, so wild, so unruly, so untamable. So Harry.

Hermione tightened her grip in his hair and pulled him closer. "Jesus, if I had known kissing her would be this amazing, I'd have done it sooner, to hell with the consequences." His lips were locked on hers, rubbing and caressing hers. He was trying to taste every bit of her, and it made him want more. Slowly, his tongue reached out and slid along her perfect lips, begging to be let inside. Hermione moaned and eagerly let him in, and he finally tasted her for the first time, and it was Heaven. His tongue slid along hers, caressed it, tasting it. He tasted her teeth, her cheeks, and it wasn't enough. He deepened the kiss, and her hands clenched. One was still in his hair; the other was fisted in his black silk shirt. Harry's hands were still softly and gently cupping her beautiful, flushed face.

Eventually, oxygen became more important than kissing her (for now at least), and Harry pulled back with a gasp. His chest was heaving, trying to pull enough air into his starved lungs. His eyes opened, and fell in love with her all over again. Hermione's face was flushed, her lips were in a perfect "o" shape, her own breath was coming in gasps and shudders. Slowly, her eyes opened, and her chocolate brown eyes met his emerald green ones.

"Dance with me, Harry. Please? Hold me in your arms and dance with me. Please Harry." She whispered. Hermione wanted him to hold her more than anything. Harry nodded, and then whispered to her the second loveliest sounding words in the world. Three words that were made famous by her favorite movie.

"As You Wish"

And her insides melted.

"Wait here." He said quietly.

Harry stood quickly, slipping off his suit jacket and tossing it away. If he only had one shot at this, if he only had one chance to prove to her how much he loved her, one chance to prove to her how much he needed her, he was going to pull out all the stops. Moving to her MP3 boom box, he quickly found a slow song they could dance to. (RyanDan - Tears Of An Angel) Turning it on low, he crossed back over to her.

Harry stood before her, then he snapped his heels together, placed his left arm behind his back and held out his right hand and bowed to her. Raising his head, he looked directly into her eyes and her heart stopped beating. Waiting for him to speak.

"Dance with me, My Lady?"

She smiled, a little wobbly smile. Hermione was trying to hold back the tears at how romantic he was, and how long, how so very long she'd waited to be swept off her feet. She said quietly.

"It would be an Honour, Good Sir."

She slipped her hand into his, and he pulled her up. As Harry brought her perfect hand up, he kissed it, electricity rushing down her arm. He pulled her close, tightly to his chest. Face inches from his. He whispered to her then, softly, and she melted all over again.

"No…the Honour is mine, My Lady."

Then they moved, slowly turning to the music. They let the soft notes wash over them, move through them. And Harry held her tightly to him, his face was so close to hers he could feel her breath on his lips, and he desperately wanted to taste her again. He held back, he wanted this to be perfect, and he didn't want to jump the gun. She wanted to dance with him, and he would dance with her. So, he settled for nuzzling her nose from time to time, which made her smile.

Hermione reveled at being in Harry's arms; she savored his warmth, his closeness to her, the safety she felt in his arms. They moved together as if they'd been doing it for years. Their bodies knew the other's language, knew when to step, when to pivot, when to move. It felt like forever, but it still wasn't long enough. The song peaked, and as it crested, Harry spun her away. And as the song hit it's most romantic moment, He pulled her back in close and kissed her. Harry's arms automatically closed around her and held her there.

He'd never, so long as he lived, Harry would never forget the taste of her, the warmth of her body, the feel of her lips against his. No matter what happened between them, He would never, could never, forget this moment.

They lost the rest of the world, wrapped in each other's arms in a passionate embrace. Nothing mattered to her anymore, the only thing she could think of was to keep kissing him, if she ever stopped, she'd surely die. He tasted like her life; he was that thing that had been missing inside her for so long, her entire existence.

Finally, they had to break apart, their lungs had gotten tired of being ignored and decided to suffocate them. Coming back down off the high of kissing her, Harry heard a much different song in the back ground. This one had a different kind of beat; the words were more sensual, more passionate. This song was meant for a much different, much closer kind of dance. Just imagining dancing this song with Hermione made his blood run hot. "She does have this song on her Playlist. I wonder…" (Peter Gabriel - Lay Your Hands On Me)

"Why Mione, I had no idea you listened to this kind of music." Harry said, his eyebrow raised. She blushed prettily. Then, apparently coming to a decision, she looked up at him, the challenge and something else was shining clearly in her chocolate brown eyes.

"Scared Harry? Don't know how to dance to this kind of music?" She whispered sexily, and he heard something in her voice he'd never heard before, and it sent blood rushing around his body, only to start collecting in a very personal place.

His eyes went wide for a split second, and then narrowed, darkening. The look he gave her shot fire through her whole body, and she was aroused in an instant, something that had never happened before.

"Let's find out, Mione." His voice was a low growl, and the vibrations seemed to travel over every bit of her skin, adding to the flush of her body. His right hand slipped down from her waist to cup her pert ass in the short black pencil skirt of her cocktail dress she was wearing, and she gasped. It brought her into contact with a part of him that was hard, extremely hard. "He's hard for me? He really does think I'm…attractive then." She didn't think the word she wanted to, she couldn't bring herself to think of herself as sexy, not even in her own thoughts.

Harry's left hand slid behind her back and gently gripped the upper part of her left arm. Suddenly he spun her around and slid his right arm around her waist, pulling her in close. Her ass made contact with the hardness in Harry's slacks and she gasped again. His right hand held her close, his fingers sliding down her front, stopping at the very bottom of her flat tummy. His left hand slid down and brought her left hand up and around to his face. Harry kissed her wrist, then sucked where her pulse was beating rapidly. His touch left trails of fire burning across her body, and her arousal deepened. Her breath was coming faster now, feeling how close she was to him, the effect of his clever fingers and tongue was something she'd never experienced, and she could feel her nipples hardening against her dress.

Then, he moved them. He danced with her, moving her body with his own. It was a dance of pure seduction, of passion and longing, the two of them flowed together like water. The contact between their bodies made both feel the fire of arousal, and they both wanted more of it. Hermione was too lost in the sensations flying around inside her to do more than just follow his lead. She was too aware of how close his body was with hers, how close they were when they moved together. She could feel his hard chest pressed into her back, felt the muscles made from the war and from his Auror training. Hermione couldn't keep herself from imagining what he looked like now, without his shirt on, how it would feel to run her nails down his chiseled chest, tracing the lines of his tattoo with her fingers. His hard-on was flush with her ass, pressing between her cheeks. She flushed darker, her breath coming faster. Then…Harry ground into her and she lost it. Hermione whimpered, her head falling back on his chest.

"Oh, yes Harry."

He had to have lost his mind, there was no other explanation. Not two hours ago, he was bemoaning the fact that he was never, ever gonna have a chance with Hermione. That he was never going to be able to show her how he felt about her. Now, the woman he was madly in love with, the woman he had desired for years and had had several dreams about, most of which resulted with him changing his sheets and taking a cold shower, was finally in his arms. Not only in his arms, but he was dancing so close to her, they might as well be sharing clothing. And then he ground himself into that perfect ass of hers. The friction it caused made his eyes cross. He suddenly thought he might be taking things a bit too far, but those were thrown out the window when she whimpered his name and started pushing back. "Oh Christ, If she keeps that up, I'm gonna rip off all her clothes and damn the consequences." Harry moaned her name into her ear.

He really couldn't take this anymore; he was starting to lose his upper faculties. All his decisions were coming from below his waist, and it decided the counter in the kitchen was a perfect place to continue this. He quickly moved her over to the bar and bent her over it, her pert ass sticking up in the air. Harry ground himself harder into her, pressing her deeper against the counter, and she moaned, loudly. He needed to feel more skin, needed to see more of her, so he pulled up the skirt of her black dress and exposed her smooth, rounded ass, and he moaned at the sight. "Fuck, if I was an emerald green thong right now, I'd die happy." The said green thong was up the crack of her ass, riding between her pert cheeks. Tight up against her wetness, that part of her that he was dying to be inside. But not yet. Harry gripped her hot, bare hips and rubbed his hard-on against her thong, and she moaned louder.

"God Harry yes…Yes…Harder…"

Harry ground against her harder, the friction making them both insane, they were both moaning, both groaning in the shear delight of what they were doing. His hardness was straining, he had slipped it between her cheeks and rubbed himself up and down, touching her from her asshole to her hot, wet core, and she mewled as he touched her there. Where she'd never been touched before. "By no one but me anyway." She thought vaguely, before her brain was wiped by an exceptionally hard thrust against her ass. God, she wanted him inside her, she'd never wanted anything so bad in her entire life. But he continued to tease her, rubbing himself against her sopping wet thong. She'd bought the thing thinking of his eyes, secretly indulging in her private fantasy of making love with Harry. But this was another of her fantasies all together, having him take her roughly against the kitchen counter, where anyone could walk in on them. "Where Ron could…" Her entire body froze, along with her arousal. "Ron!" her mind screamed. "I'm still his girlfriend! I'm cheating on him! With HARRY!"

"Harry, stop. Please, I need you to stop now Harry. Oh God." Harry could barely hear her, and she had moaned as he hit her wet spot again. She had to focus, "He is way too good at this. Damn Luna." Jealousy reared in her head unexpectedly, but it hadn't been the first time. Desperate to get through to him, she bucked back harder.

"Harry, Stop! You have to stop now! We can't do this! I'm still with Ron!" She whispered harshly to him. The mention of Ron's name turned his hot arousal to ice. Suddenly realizing what she had been saying to him, and what he'd been doing, he threw himself off of her. She quickly pulled her skirt back down and turned to look at him. Harry had a look of pure horror on his face.

"Jesus, Jesus Christ Hermione…I'm so sorry. I'm so sorry. Goddamn it, I almost…I almost…" Agony was on his face, at the thought of what he had almost done to her.

"No! No Harry you didn't do anything of the sort, and if you keep thinking that way, I'll curse you into oblivion!" She almost screamed it at him, anything to get that look off his face. It was scaring her, what he was doing to himself. Hermione crossed to him and tried to take his face in her hands, but he flinched and moved away. That did hurt her, and she desperately tried to keep from breaking down. She had to help him understand what happened before he did something stupid, like turn himself in to the Aurors. She forced him to stop moving, and took his face in her hands.

"Harry, you listen to me. You did nothing wrong. I wanted you too." He looked at her, clear disbelief on his face. "I did Harry, believe me. Didn't you hear me moaning your name? I wanted you too. I wanted you to do exactly what you were doing. Please, believe me. I really did. But I forgot, I forgot him, and I'm still his girlfriend. We were both caught up in the moment. But don't you, for one second, Harry Potter, think that you hurt me, that you were making me do something against my will, because you weren't. I promise Harry, you didn't. You'd kill yourself before you would even think about doing something like that." His eyes cleared, slightly, but he still looked deeply ashamed of himself. She saw him swallow several times, and then he spoke, in a dead hollow voice that worried her greatly.

"What…What do we do? What does this mean? Can…can you still be my friend after this?" He knew this was entirely unfair, but he was completely out of his depth. Harry had barely just started coming to grips with the fact that she wasn't going to accuse him of forcing himself on her. So he had no fucking clue what to do or where to go after this.

"Of course I'm still your friend, your best friend. Nothing would ever change that." She looked at him a little exasperated, and he breathed a sigh of relief. "She isn't going to leave me; she's still my best friend. Thank God, if I had destroyed that, I might have gone insane."

"As to the rest, I don't know. I don't have all the answers, I don't know what we should do or what this means for us. I do know that Ron can never find out about this, and I think you should go. I don't think we can talk about this tonight, our emotions are too high. You go back home, get some sleep, and we'll talk about this tomorrow." Hermione sighed, suddenly exhausted. The feelings that had flown through her had drained everything out of her, now she just wanted to sleep.

Harry nodded, knowing she was right. Now that the adrenaline and arousal was gone, he was extremely tired. He looked over at her and desperately wanted to kiss her again, but that way led to madness. Walking over to his black suit coat, he shrugged into it and looked at his best friend again.

"I'm sorry Hermione. I'm truly sorry." And before she could speak, he Apparated back to Black Manor, back home.