A/N: Soo didn't take that long this time did I? Lol well this chapter won't be as long as the last but something big and important does happen. If any of you are a grammar nazi I would gladly accept a beta as they can only make a story better. Next chapter Ron Will be coming back but things won't be too bad I promise. As always if you read please review, constructive criticism is always welcome. And follow me on tumblr for fanfic updates and other Harmony goodies =)
Yellow diamonds in the light
Now we're standing side by side
As your shadow crosses mine
What it takes to come alive
It's the way I'm feeling I just can't deny
But I've gotta let it go
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
We found love in a hopeless place
-"We Found Love" Sam Tsui cover (Originally by Rhianna)
Hermione groggily opened her eyes at the mention of her name, her heart beating rapidly. The sun was peeking through the thin curtain on the window and she could hear faint voices coming from below.
"We've got to go." said Harry urgently. "Now!"
"Why?" she asked scratchily.
"I saw the Caudwell's walking around in confusion just outside." He explained.
"Oh no!" Hermione exclaimed. "Where's my bag?"
"I've got it." Harry assured her. "Just go change and we'll apparate."
"Right." She agreed.
Hermione grabbed the outfit Harry had picked out for her. Her mind was frazzled; it had been a jolt to find herself in a warm bedroom instead of their cold and drafty tent. As she fumbled into her clothes, she frantically dove into her memories for their next destination. She had not been as careful when they had dissaparated from Godric's Hollow, namely because her main priority at the time was to get them out alive. Now she had a little more time to find a safer more secluded place for them to hide. Once she had changed her clothes she walked back to find Harry leaning against the wall next to the window with an alarmed expression on his face.
"What is it?" she asked, her eyes wide in fright.
"I think the Snatchers have come to town." Harry breathed.
As discretely as she could, Hermione pulled a small section of the curtain to peek outside. What she saw was a familiar scraggly man brandishing his wand menacingly as he grabbed a man and pulled his arms behind his back. It was the same wizard she had seen on the early days of their journey, the one who had smelled her perfume. The events below were playing out like a scene from a horror movie, it made her sick to her stomach.
"Hey…what on earth do you think you're doing?" A familiar frail voice rang out.
It was the old man who had so kindly tended to them the night before.
"Listen muggle this is none of your concern." The long haired wizard spat.
"It is my concern when you are manhandling my neighbors!" yelled the old man.
"Oh enough of this!" the snatcher exclaimed before pushing the man he was holding to one of his other fellow snatchers. "Avada Kedavra!"
"No!" Hermione cried softly as she watched the kind old man fall and crumple to the floor.
"Let's go Hermione." Harry prodded as he gently pulled her away from the window.
"This isn't fair!" said Hermione tearfully turning back to him. "He didn't do anything and he was just murdered like he was nothing!"
"I know. It's terrible but we've got to go!" Harry urged. "The longer we stay here the more likely they'll come inside."
He was nearing full frantic mode at this point. He knew that if the snatchers caught any sense that two of the most wanted wizards of the moment were just a few feet away, they would dump their targets in a heartbeat for the grand prize of the chosen one and his companion. This time everything was much more dangerous, there were no protective charms, his invisibility was somewhere deep in Hermione's bag and their polyjuice potion supply was down to one last sip. There was only one safe way out. Apparation.
"I…I can't concentrate!" Hermione shrieked. "I know we have to leave but…that poor man…it's too much."
Harry came up to her suddenly and framed her face with his hands. It took Hermione by surprise.
"Please…just….you're the only one who can take us away from here." He whispered, looking her deep in the eyes. "Take a deep breath and think of a place we can go."
Hermione forced herself to look into Harry's brilliant green eyes. It was then that she could catch her breath and feel an overpowering sense of calmness. Did he know he had this effect on her?
"Okay." She said breathing in deeply, still shaking in terror. "I think…I think I know where we can go."
Harry nodded as he slipped his hands from her face and down to her hands.
Hermione took a few more deep breaths before she squeezed Harry's hand in preparation.
With a pop they disappeared into the uncomfortable and nauseating sensation of apparition. After much contortion and difficulty breathing, there feet made contact with soft ground and all was still again. Harry opened his eyes and was amazed at what surrounded him. They were in the woods. It was much less intimidating than the forbidden forest back at Hogwarts. He felt safe and warm despite the floor and much of the trees were heavily blanketed in snow.
"You've really outdone yourself this time Hermione." said Harry in awe, taking it all in.
"It's the forest of dean." She breathed. "I came here with my parents when I was little. It's a beautiful place. Always has been. It's the only place I could think of at that moment."
"Well, it also feels secluded." Harry nodded. "This is the important thing."
Harry looked back at Hermione who was hugging herself. She wasn't doing if from the bitter cold but rather from the chilling scene that had unfolded before them not so long ago. Harry felt a little unsettled at how unaffected he felt. Sure he felt sorry for the innocent old man who was murdered so casually, but he had finally reached the point in which he was starting to accept that terrible things happened to good people. It was just how the world worked. Still, he was sure Hermione was far from becoming numb to all atrocities they had witnessed so far. She had a big heart and it was something Harry had always admired about her.
"Are you okay?" he asked softly.
"This is what our life has become hasn't it?" She said gently. "On the run, looking over our shoulder at every turn, having those wretched snatchers narrowly missing us…I've tried to adjust my mind around this."
She looked over at Harry with red eyes.
"This is our reality." She shrugged. "Yet my mind still wants to believe this is all some horrible nightmare. I still think I'm going to wake up in the warmth of the girls' dormitory, read the weekly letters my parents have sent me and then head to the common room to meet up with you and Ron."
Harry's hurt sunk as Hermione spoke. She was breaking before him, the iron girl who had tried her hardest to keep her feelings at bay to keep them all safe. He was finding it hard to believe that this was the same girl who had made him promise that he wouldn't speak so pessimistically. Everything had changed and there was nothing he could say to make her feel better. How could he? He too had long since lost his hope. The only reason he had even made it this far was all because of her, he couldn't bear to let her down. He couldn't bear to have made her sacrifice so much in vain. She had helped him in every possible way a person could be helped yet there he stood lamely; unable to provide any words of comfort. She was right. She was always right. This was their reality, the horrible and bleak reality.
"But that's not going to happen is it?" she asked laughing sarcastically. "We're in war, and Ron isn't coming back and my parents don't even know who I am. Innocent people are being killed for no reason at all…this is reality and everything that was before is now just a memory."
"You're all I've got left." She whispered before she dug her face into her hands as she sobbed.
Harry rushed to her; he never could stand the sight of her crying. It was just unbearable.
"Everything will work out." He whispered as he hugged her tight, brushing her hair. "Ron will come back and you will see your parents again. I promise."
"Promise me you won't leave me." She begged him in urgency. "I need to know you won't ever leave me."
"Hermione there's only one thing that could ever keep me from you." Harry assured her.
Hermione hugged him tighter in recognition of the one thing that could ever part them.
They stood like that for a few long minutes, clinging to each other desperately for they were all they had in the world. They were each other's hope and motivation to keep going despite everything around them caving in and screaming at them to give up the fight. They were each other's remedy to tragedy. She was his reason to live for and it wasn't until that very moment that Harry realized that he had been fighting the inevitable for months. He was unapologetically in love with Hermione Granger and denying that was becoming a near impossible task. Especially when he was holding her like he was. He kept hearing Ginny's voice pop in his head with advice she had given him so long ago:
'If you want to continue using the war as an excuse, then use it as a reason to get with her, because we never know how this will all end.'
"I'm going to set up the tent and enchantments okay?" He asked Hermione, gently weaning her off his body once her sobs started to subside.
"Yeah…okay." Hermione nodded as she wiped her eyes and nose. "I feel a little lightheaded anyway."
"You should sit down," Harry said gently pushing Hermione to sit on a tree stump. "Apparition can take a lot out of you."
Hermione watched as Harry performed the protective charms and erected their old reliable tent. In a weird way the tent had become endearing to her. As much as she had enjoyed staying at the warm bed in the bed and breakfast, there was a unique charm the tent had that a warm and weather safe building didn't. The tent now held so many memories, good and bad. It was their home away from home and she couldn't help but smile as it came back to life.
"Have you ever thought about just staying here?" Hermione asked Harry as he joined her.
"What?" Harry asked in confusion.
"Staying here…growing old together. "She said smiling softly at him. "Wouldn't it be great?"
"Yes…yes it would." Harry said genuinely.
"One can dream right?" she laughed.
"I'm sorry things have become harder." Harry said sincerely. "But someone wise once told me: 'there's always darkness before the dawn' and she has yet to be wrong about anything so far."
"I told you that." Hermione said bashfully.
"Yes and you are right and you always got me out of my dark places so now I'm returning the favor." He said brightly.
"I don't know what I'd do without you." She said smiling.
"Come on." said Harry getting up and pulling Hermione up with him. "Let's get into the warm."
"Actually, I have an idea of something we can do." She said pulling back from Harry's grasp.
"If it involves reading over 'Beedle the Bard' again count me out." Harry joked.
"No, it's something fun I promise." She said crossing her fingers. "But we should probably change into fresher clothes."
Harry and Hermione walked into the tent and rapidly changed into a new set of winter clothes. Harry followed Hermione to the frozen over pond that was a few feet away from the tent. The sky was getting darker as their day was nearing its short winters end and their tent glowed brightly behind them.
"What's fun about a frozen pond?" Harry asked curiously.
"Hold on!" said Hermione.
She pulled up her boot with one arm and her wand with the other. Hermione pointed her wand at the bottom of the boot which was covered in bits of snow and transfigured them to long and sharp blades. She had transfigured her boots into ice skates. Once she had finished her own, she asked Harry for his which he was only to enthusiastic to do.
With wide eyes, Harry watched as Hermione made the same transformation to his boots.
"That's genius!" Harry laughing in amazement at his magically made ice skates.
"It's one of the perks of paying attention in charms class." She said smugly. "Have you ever ice skated?"
"No, the Dursley's weren't really fond of me learning anything." said Harry. "I only went to school because it was mandatory for them to send me."
"That's horrible" said Hermione shaking her head in disbelief. "My parents loved to skate out here. We would come every year up until my fourth year."
"You must be a gifted Ice skater then." Harry determined.
"I'm pretty good yes." said Hermione haughtily. "Here let me teach you."
Hermione grabbed Harry's hand as she carefully transitioned them from the soft snow onto the slippery and hard ice.
Harry was completely out of his element. For some reason flying high in a broomstick seemed far safer than balancing his weight on to slim slivers of frozen ice. Still, he couldn't help but admire Hermione's spell work as his Ice blades glided smoothly over the ice.
"Careful." said Hermione as Harry stumbled slightly.
"This is mad!" Harry laughed.
"I'm going to let go and you slowly make your way to me, okay?" she instructed.
Harry tried to balance himself as Hermione slowly let go of his forearm.
Hermione glided away gracefully and stopped several feet away from him.
"Now just slowly alternate your feet." She tutored. "It's just like walking."
"Yeah right!" Harry replied as he attempted to skate solo.
His legs wobbled as he switched from right to left and vice versa. He was slowly but surely getting closer to where Hermione was standing. As he neared closer his confidence was getting the best of him and he switched up his speed a little more. Once Hermione saw he was going slightly faster, she skated towards him.
"Wait, you're going a little fast there!" she warned him.
Harry ignored her and sped up a bit more until blade hit a chip in the ice and he lost his balance. Hermione was nearby and in her attempts to help him; she lost control of her own balance and collided with him. They both fell to the ground in a fit of laughter. Hermione had landed on top of Harry and her hat had slid down her face, covering her eyes.
"Let me get that." said Harry chuckling.
Harry lifted the ridge of the hat and found his hands lingering in her snowflake covered hair. The laughter died in his eyes as he realized Hermione's closeness to him. They hadn't been this close since the last night they had shared his bed. He could see the warm swirls of brown in her eyes, and the light spray of freckles across her nose. Her cheeks were bright red from the cold and her lips were frozen in a smile.
"I really want to kiss you right now." He said seriously.
"Then why don't you?" Hermione urged.
Harry looked at her one more time before brought down her lips to his. Her lips were cold and soft. He could feel her trembling on top of him and sincerely hoped it was not because of the weather. There was so much he wanted to tell her in that kiss. It was an apology for having have made her suffer for so long, it was a thank you for never abandoning or doubting him and it was a declaration of all the feelings he had unsuccessfully tried to keep from her. It was innocent and passionate at the same time. He wanted to stop time and forever cherish this moment and the feeling of her lips blazing on his.
"I love you Hermione." He whispered to her.
She pulled away from him when he said this and the absence of her lips on his was overwhelming. He felt naked without them.
"You do?" she asked tearfully. "Honestly?"
"I've loved you for a while now, I've just been too afraid." He confessed. "There's just so many ways I could lose you but…I can't keep this from myself any more or from you. I love you and I know that isn't a blessing when we all know what happens to people I love but I can't not let you know anymore. I love you."
Hermione gave him a teary laugh as she brushed her hand under his chin.
"You don't know how long I've wanted this confession." She shakily. "I love you too."
"This is our new reality." She breathed as she bent down to kiss him one more time.