Summary: Harry and Hermione take a dig at Ron and Lavender on a dreary day with unexpected results...

Author's note: Hello! :) I suppose this is my second Harry Potter fanfic. I have another, but it very well could not be finished. lol Anyway, this is a oneshot that takes place in the Half-Blood Prince, when Ron is with Lavender and Hermione is not liking it too much. I hope this isn't too out of charcter for any of them. Reviews/constrcutive criticism are very welcomed and appreciated! Thank you in advance for taking the time to read, and if you feel so compelled, review.

Cure for a Rainy Day

The rain was just too much to take.

It had been raining for a week. Seven, straight, consecutive days, and Harry didn't know how much more he could stand. Hermione, his ubiquitous study partner, hummed at his side, drumming calm fingers lazily on one of the many books sprawled out on the table before them.

The library was quiet. Peaceful, Hermione had declared with a small smile. Harry could not agree. He would much rather be hammering out his pent-up energy out on the Quidditch Pitch, or running laps through the thick mud which was bound to have accumulated on the field. But neither he nor his fellow teammates would have the slightest knowledge of the on goings of that glorious patch of earth. Not after this dreadful week. Not after a Ravenclaw had contracted a nasty case of pneumonia and spread it around.

He would've even settled for that. Pneumonia. Anything besides being cooped up in the library with someone who was obviously enjoying far too much.

Harry scowled at the window and the pewter sky beyond the glass. The thick, dark clouds rolled across the sky slowly, and the dimness it cast over the grounds was depressing. Harry couldn't remember what time it was. Everything just seemed so dark.

"Damn it!" Harry mumbled, his fists coming down hard on the table, upsetting his quill and ink stand.

"What?" Hermione's eyes snapped up sharply; her mouth puckered as she shot him a strange look.

"All this rain," he replied, tossing his hands up to the window as if she hadn't noticed. "It's not driving you crazy by now?"

"No," she said slowly, rearranging the parchment before her into a neat stack. Inhaling softly, she continued, a little mockingly, "What is so pressing? What would you rather be doing?"

"Having fun," he said, fighting not to roll his eyes. "Playing Quidditch, gouging my eyes out…anything that involves it not raining and not being in this library anymore."

Her brow rose, tiny wrinkles forming on the normally smooth skin on her forehead. "Oh, really? You'd prefer blindness and excruciating pain to a little rain? That's a bit dramatic, Harry. Don't you think?"

"No," he grumbled, his finger idly dragging designs along his half finished essay.

Her mouth curled smartly. "Why did they cancel the game anyway? You've played through storms many times before."

"Some prat from Ravenclaw got pneumonia from being out in the rain too long."

A faint smile flickered over her features as she rolled her eyes. "You can't catch pneumonia from being out in the rain too long."

"What?" A look of horror crossed Harry's features; his mouth fell in disbelief.

"Viruses, such as pneumonia, can't be caught from the rain. The rain might weaken one's immune system, but you cannot get sick solely from being in the rain. Honestly, Harry, you didn't know that?"

"What does that matter? You're telling me that this whole week, they kept us off the field for no good reason!" Harry's voice grew louder with each word, his face grew unnaturally red and he struggled to breathe properly.

"Well, I'm sure they have a good reason. But the rain causing pneumonia is just not one of them."

"Unbelievable," he spouted off, kicking back his chair. "They could've at least let us practice! You just wait till I tell Ron about this, he'll -"

"You should very well know that he is … occupied." Hermione said curtly, her eyes flickering to the book before her. "He probably wouldn't care about much else."

"Oh, right," Harry muttered, a hand snaking behind his neck and giving it a rough squeeze. "I forgot about Lav –"

Hermione shot him a nasty glare before snapping her book shut and reaching for another. He studied her for a moment before moving. Her eyebrows were tightly knit, her eyes tense as she focused intently on the text just inches from her nose. There was a sudden warmth to her cheeks that he had not noticed before, and it grew more apparent as each second passed.

He could hear the uneven pull of her breathing, sense the pressure building. "What?" She nearly shrieked, causing him to jump slightly.

"Do you want to get out of here?" He asked softly, leaning into the table and avoiding the eyes of their peers.

"Yes," she replied quietly before beginning to pack their belongings neatly.

With one hasty movement, Harry scooped the remainder of parchment and books into his bag, prompting Hermione to do the same. Dodging the stares of the others in the library, they dashed into the empty corridor, panting lightly as if they had just evaded some great enemy.

"Where to?" Hermione asked, wisps of hair framing her pink face.

"I suppose we should take these back to the common room at least…"

"Right," she agreed, her face falling a little.

"I'll do it," he offered quickly, knowing full well that Ron was there, as he took the overflowing satchel from her shoulder. "You can just wait outside."

She nodded and made a move in the right direction without a word.

The pounding rain was audible from deep inside the castle. The walls seemed to catch and amplify the sound, a strange echoing filling the quiet between them. Silence carried them three floors up to the portrait of the Fat Lady, who attempted to make chitchat before Harry became noticeably agitated and she promptly demanded the password, swinging forth roughly and nearly knocking him down.

Hermione stayed put, as promised, casting Harry an unsure look as he disappeared across the threshold. In a matter of minutes, he was back, with a strange expression on his face. She didn't quite understand until he was fully out of the portal, the swinging portrait stopping abruptly with a freckled hand on its edge.

Ron sauntered out with Lavender in tow, an arm draped about her shoulder, a smug look on his face. "Oh, Hermione. Fancy seeing you here. Lav and I were just going out for a stroll."

"In the rain?" Hermione couldn't keep the bitter edge from her tone.

"Why, yes," he said, his face turning slightly ruddy about his cheeks. "I think that would be a nice change. Don't you Lav?"

"Whatever you think is best, Won-Won," Lavender crooned, looking up at him.

"Well," Hermione began, grasping for words. "Harry and I were about to do the same. Just taking a nice break from studying. Weren't we Harry?"

"Yeah," Harry muttered uncomfortably, moving closer to Hermione, per request of her hand.

"Perfect," Ron shot back, gripping Lavender's shoulder tightly. "Well, we'd best be off then. C'mon sweetheart."

This produced a giggle from Lavender, who clasped her arms about Ron's waist and proceeded to walk, half dragging him away. "See you around."

"Yeah, see you," Hermione replied weakly, blinking after the pair.

She turned about numbly, not wanting to meet Harry's searching eyes. He didn't give her much of a choice though, wheeling her around quickly, glancing swiftly after Ron and Lavender and then back to her.

A sudden energy lit up his green irises. "Well, we're not going to let them slip away that easily, are we?"

"What are you talking about, Harry?" Hermione asked, unsurely as her eyes locked on his.

"Them! They aren't the only ones who can play at a game. Come on, let's go." he said, looping his arm through hers and pulling her in the direction of the stairs.

Hermione felt rigid beside him, but quickly maintained his stride until they came upon Ron and Lavender, who were now barely touching. Harry's hand slid along Hermione's arm until his fingers were intertwined with hers. She glanced at him carefully as they passed the couple, not feeling quite so vulnerable with Harry clearly at her disposal.

"See you!" she called over her shoulder, her fingers tightening around Harry's.

She barely took in the flabbergasted expression on Ron's face, and the scramble to attach himself to Lavender thereafter, before turning around, her eyes catching Harry's, a delighted smile on her lips. "Thank you," she mouthed.

The race, as it were, to the grounds would have been comical to say the least, had the parties involved not been so deeply affected by it. Ron and Lavender pulled ahead, arm around waist, for a time, Ron shooting Harry incredulous looks over the top of Lavender's head, while Harry and Hermione strolled at an easy pace, hand in hand, not paying much mind to the ruckus they caused. And so they went, in dragging lulls and perilous pulls until they had reached the entrance where Lavender promptly pulled Ron into a corner, her arms twisting around his neck.

Hermione's playful attitude was abruptly ended upon the sight; Harry could feel it from the way she held his hand, limp and unfeeling. He paused momentarily at the double doors that lead to the grounds, giving her hand a small, revitalizing squeeze.

"Hey," he whispered gently, his thumb rolling over her fingers. "We promised a stroll through the rain. You ready?"

She nodded, catching his eye and allowing herself a small smile for his sake.

Harry needed no further encouragement. He pulled her, with a deep breath preceding the action, out into the blanket of rain that covered the grounds. As to be expected, there were no other students in sight as they sprinted across the lawn, taking shelter under a tree by the lake.

Hermione dropped to the ground first, her hand tumbling out of Harry's as she pulled her knees to her chest. She felt humiliated and foolish. Her heart was on the line, fresh, out in the open, and the person who mattered most was inside Hogwarts sawing through it carelessly. She dared not look at Harry, who gazed at her with unabashed concentration. It was all she could do to keep her tears from spilling over and mixing, unnoticeably, with the rain.

Casting a disappointed look at the castle, Harry's hands sliced through his wet hair roughly. How could Ron be so ignorant? Sighing, he followed suit, his shoulder bumping Hermione's as he landed on the soggy earth between the gnarled roots of the tree.

Hermione wouldn't look at him for a while, her profile straight, her eyes focused on the ripples of the lake, as her clothes and hair collected the weight of the rain. Leaning into her purposely again, Harry called her name lightly.

She turned slowly, hardly looking at him at first, before allowing her eyes to look at him fully. For a moment, her expression was unreadable as she scanned his face and caught on something above his eyes. A smile flickered across her face before a laugh overtook her. The sound, much like tinkling bells to Harry's ears, startled him, causing him to look around. Behind him he saw nothing. He vaguely wondered if she had finally cracked.

"Oh, Harry," she murmured, her hands suddenly in his hair, flattening it sweetly against his scalp.

No matter how much he tried, he could not stop a blush from creeping into his cheeks as her fingers worked his hair back down to a presentable state. He could not ignore the fact that the sensation sent tingles drifting down his neck, either.

They exchanged small smiles for a moment, as her fingers pulled away from his hair. "That's better," she exclaimed after giving him one last pat on the head.

"Thanks," he muttered, feeling slightly embarrassed.

"Won-Won!" The sound echoed across the grounds, capturing the attention of both Harry and Hermione.

'Won-Won' proceeded to carry Lavender, shrieking with delight, on his back a few yards before letting her tumble to the ground unceremoniously. He stumbled over her legs in the rain and tripped, falling on top of her with a squeal.

Hermione quickly averted her eyes. Harry's were a little slower to move, but he wrapped an arm around her now shivering frame. He wasn't sure if the cause was from cold or anger, but the physical contact seemed to help control the shuddering. His fingers brushed at her bare arm below her soaked sleeve as she spoke, her lips trembling.

"Why are we doing this?"

He watched her cautiously, letting her finish.

"He doesn't even care. I don't know why I do…" Her words ran together, so quickly, that he had to let her words soak in for a moment before he could respond.

"He cares, Hermione. He's just so thickheaded he doesn't know it yet," he told her earnestly, despising the pain in her eyes.

"Yeah," she muttered dully, moving closer to Harry's side.

He opened his arms wider, enveloping her wholly as he rested his chin on her damp hair. Within moments, her breathing steadied, her heart rate slowed; her fingers rested on his forearms delicately, relishing in the feeling of being held, looked after, for once.

"Ronald!" Lavender squealed flirtatiously in the distance.

Hermione wondered how far away they were. She made to move in Harry's arms, but he wouldn't let her.

"Don't," he said simply as he held her quietly against his chest.

She barely trembled as he held her there, held her together, in one unbreakable piece. The rain softened, only falling here and there between the thick canopy of branches and leaves. Everything looked so green, beautiful and hazy. A thin layer of vapor rose off of the surface of the black lake, obscuring the sparse trees on the other side.

If it weren't for the happy couple inching their way toward her, she could have felt completely at peace, joyful even.

"You know, Harry, this will only refuel those rumors about us," Hermione said lowly, trying to keep her voice light and airy.

"I don't mind," he replied, his eyes trailing over the water before them. "Do you?"

Hermione was quiet for a moment, thinking. "No. I don't mind…"

She could feel the shift of his chest behind her as a laugh spilled out by her ear. The movement was nice, peaceful, the sound calming and deep. Closing her eyes for a moment, she smiled, allowing herself to enjoy the simple action, a simple afternoon spent with a best friend.

His arms loosened around her, and her eyes were open in an instant, her body feeling the absence of touch and warmth all too clearly. She propped herself up, moving away, as he leaned forward on his knees, his head to the side, looking at her.

"It stopped raining," he said, not taking his eyes away from her, not looking at the clouds which were rolling away, the golden sunset in their place.

"So it has." She could feel the sunlight gliding along her arms and face, slowly drying her clothes.

"I guess we'll be back to Quidditch soon enough," he smiled, a subdued happiness in his tone.

Nodding, Hermione returned his smile.

The grounds were quiet, empty it seemed, though she didn't turn to look. Harry's expression was enough to keep her there, rooted to the ground. She needed no further reassurance than the smile that pulled at the corners of his lips.

"I suppose I should talk to Ron. He was giving me quiet the eye earlier," he laughed.

"Maybe you shouldn't," Hermione mused in a buoyant tone. "Maybe you should let him wonder for awhile, make him think."

Harry laughed again, glad to see her smiling once more. She stood up slowly, brushing the leaves from her clothes before offering her hand to help him up. He took it cheerfully, meeting her half way and carrying his own weight. They bumped shoulders briefly, laughing it off and rubbing gently at the offended areas.

Like the tree and the earth below, green met brown in a silent glance as smiles faded and frequent blinking followed. Harry's fingers brushed along hers once more and she opened up to him, taking his hand as they made their way back to the castle.

Indeed, no one was in sight as they made their way across the damp grounds. No one was there to witness the faint pulls of lips or tremulous finger tips. And neither could hear the quickening of the heart beside them, the throbbing endurance of the pulse beneath the skin.

Hermione's words rung in Harry's ears, softer and with more meaning in which they had been spoken, "Maybe you shouldn't. Maybe you should let him wonder for awhile, make him think." And Harry did. Taking her cryptic advice, he thought for himself, about himself.

He thought of pulsing hearts, of unsteady hands and actions which had never before crossed his mind. He thought of border lines and brown eyes, soft lips and wisps of golden brown hair. He thought of best friends, feelings of betrayal and long, rainy afternoons spent in dusty libraries.

Emotions, feelings and instincts overwhelmed his senses, and somewhere deep inside, he figured rainy days weren't so bad after all.