Harry lingered on the afterthoughts of his previous dream. Visions of Hermione whistled around his mind like a furious snitch. It seemed these days that the only dreams he had that did't contain troubled images of death and destruction always happened to be of Hermione in some way or another. At first they merely confused him, causing him to spend lazy summer afternoons at the Burrow pondering what they could possibly mean but as the first day of term of his sixth year at Hogwarts grew nearer he couldn't help but notice certain things about Hermione that were starting to peak his interest more so than they had ever done before.
In the past he never once gave thought to the subject of Hermione's appearance, she had always been no different to Ron in that respect but now he found his gaze on more than one occasion following her around the room, noting how even bouts of bad moods and stressful homework related hair traumas did nothing to detract his odd longing to run his hand through it.
He'd considered a magical related madness to blame at one point and had even tried to convince himself that maybe Wrackspurts had invaded his brain and tampered with his thoughts before ashamedly reminding himself that they clearly did not exist.
It didn't help ease his troubles when he started to suspect that Hermione herself may have notice this strange upsurge in Harry's attention towards her. It was becoming habit to find himself being caught red-handed in his moments of observation by the very girl herself. Her dark brown eyes studying his face in deepest interest before he turned his attention on to something far less interesting, trying desperately to stem the rush of blood flowing to his face.
If wandering eyes and peculiar dreams had been his only problems then maybe he could have coped with it until they were back at Hogwarts but for the first time since he had known his two best friends Harry had started suffering from gut wrenching bouts of jealousy whenever he found the two of them alone together. Never once had this troubled him before but only two days ago Harry had walked out into the garden only to finding himself stomping back into the house again after spotting Ron and Hermione finishing their homework under one of the large apples trees. Well actually it was more Hermione doing the last of Ron's homework "but what about me?" He thought to himself as he slammed the door to Ron's room shut, would it hurt for them to invite him to study once in a while and maybe then Ron could be called away to help Mrs Weasley prepare dinner leaving the two of them to carry on without him. Would that be so bad?
His stomach twisted into tight envious knots as he lay in bed noting that being alone as he was now these thoughts only pressed and teased on his mind more.
But Ron was his best mate and Harry knew full well how he felt about Hermione, it didn't take a whole lot of deduction to figure that one out. How could he be so selfish as to come along after years of non-involment only to declare his interest now and hope it did nothing to damage their firm relationship? "What about how bossy she is?" Harry thought to himself desperately trying to lodge her face from in front of his eyes. "Well she's hardly as bad as she used to be." he argued with himself, "and she only does it because she cares." he let out a defeated sigh and continued to wrestle with his head to find more downsides only to come up dry having found a counter point to every one.
"Fine I'll just suffer in silence then!" he grumbled out loud, punching his pillow into a more comfortable shape and laying his head on it. "So what if I like Hermione, she likes Ron so-" but at that moment Harry froze mid sentence as a sound intruded his inner struggle.
"Harry are you awake?" Hermione's quiet voice floated through the room and twirled into his ears causing the blood in his body to run cold. He remained silent and pulled back his covers up to his nose, wishing he could Apparate under the bed.
"Harry?" her voice was much closer now as it crept into the room on effect of the opening door. He closed his eyes and waited. He listened to her soft footsteps as they pathed their way across Ron's bedroom, randomly stopping to pick up the odd sock and tossing it into the laundry basket. In mere moments she was by his bedside. Nothing was said but he could sense her touch before it hand even landed and relished the feel of her fingers running over his shoulders. She shook him softly and continued in a lilting whisper. "Harry, it's time to get up. Ron and Ginny want to start a game of Quidditch in the garden and it's not very even if you're not there… apparently." He could hear the edge of resentment in her voice. She had no doubt been sent up by Ron after being told in no short terms why she didn't count as one whole person in a game and that they needed Harry to make up for her. Still he didn't stir and wanted so much to meet the touch of her palm with his own hand but didn't dare move for fear of is retraction.
"Why they can't spend one day in peace I don't know." this was said as much to herself as it was to an apparent slumbering Harry, "After all you've been through surely a day or two of just being able to sit back and rest wouldn't go a miss would it?" Harry froze as she absent mindedly ran her hand up onto his cheek and then through his long locks of black hair. He considered it just to brush the strands from his face but her touch remained there far to long for that. "But then Ron wouldn't't know the first thing about being conservative would he… then again neither would you." she added chuckling to herself. "I guess that's part of your charm isn't it Harry?" her whisper barley audible as she sat perched on his bed staring down at his sleeping face. She softly took hold of a handful of his hair and moved it back and forth, her other was already running the length of his arm. "One of the many reasons you seem to find your self invading my dreams at night… not that I mind but I'm sure you would." again she laughed to herself busy tracing her finger up and down the length of his forearm, it was like electricity coursing it's way down his body. "Maybe I should brush up on my Quidditch skills? I bet I'd catch your interest then hey?" she patted the back of his hand with a weak smile and then let go, "Then again probably not."
"I guess I'll just have to be happy with being Hermione, Harry's know-it-all friend… best friend, that's not so bad is it?" her voice was much lower and breaking every so often as she ran her fingers across his brow, "If only I could say it to you, just once. Even if it's for you to tell me why we can only be friends. I know that's what you'd say of course but..." she let out a long sigh and continued to play with his hair. Then she moved back to his face and tenderly traced his cheek bones with her finger before running them over his lips, pushing lightly on them as if to steal an imaginary kiss.
"How can you be so sure?" Harry opened his eyes and looked straight into her startled face.
"Harry you're awake! I... I didn't... why didn't you say something!" she stammered and leaned back almost on the verge of tears but he grabbed hold of her arms and pulled her back. "How do you know what I'd say?" he asked again smiling at her as she tried desperately to look anywhere but his face, her complexion slowly leaking into a red tint.
"Harry I'm so sorry. I didn't mean it I was just being stupid." she choked back her tears and went to pull away again but she did not resist when he stopped her. "I'm just being silly." she shook her head and looked down. "I've known you for years, I'm around you all the time. I'm bound to get a bit confused sometimes… right?" she chanced a look back at him but only long enough to catch him staring back at her, his eyes locked on hers and his heart hammering away in his chest.
"Do you feel confused now?" he asked quietly as he took his hand and ran it down the side of her cheek wiping away the few tears left there. She closed her eyes and held her breath before letting it out and shaking her head in reply. Harry's head span as his mind ploughed on recklessly, "To hell with Ron, he had his chance and he never took it. Why should I miss out on something so good when I might be dead tomorrow?" they were stupid, shameful thoughts that caused him to feel slight pangs of guilt on occurrence but right now at this very moment all he cared about was the girl sitting in front of him, the girl who looked as if it was taking all her strength not to look directly back at him. Harry placed his hand on her face again and held her close pulling his arm around her slender waist. She tried to break free but he just held on all the tighter. She closed her eyes and leaned into his hand.
"We can't." her voice barely registered as she tried to protest.
"Why not?" he asked in a low tone running his hand into her long bushy strands of hair.
"You know why." she continued shaking slightly as she lingered on his touch.
"Would it be so bad?" he replied taking her chin and forcing her to look into his face, "Can't I be greedy just this once, keep you to myself?" he took hold of her neck and slowly pulled her face towards his. With every inch his eyes gained on her he revelled in the splendour of her familiar scent, the soft lines of her face, the intense longing in her shimmering eyes. He could feel her breath tickle his nose as they were a mere inch distance apart. He held her there and softly ran his lips over her cheek, dancing his mouth along her face teasing her with occasional glances from the sides of her lips. This was nothing like kissing Cho had been, nothing felt awkward or wrong about it. In fact Harry couldn't't believe just how normal it felt as he continued to kiss her face. Hermione closed her eyes and breathed heavily not letting herself succumb to the temptation to kiss back. He kissed her eyes and her nose with every part of his soul raging to divulge in the pink soft lips on her face until he finally went to plant his alone with no pretence onto hers.
"Hermione, Harry where the bloody hell are you?" Ron's voice came clattering up the stairs and intruded on their moment alone like a cold bucket of water.
Hermione took a sharp intake of breath and pulled away before standing up and stumbling backwards into the wardrobe. She held her hand to her mouth and glared at Harry like he'd caught her doing something indecent. "Harry I..."
"Hermione, HERMOINE?" Ron was persistent in his unknowing act to disturb the two of them and seem to shake Hermione back to her senses.
"Ron we're up here. Hang on." she shouted back before taking a further few steps away from his bed. "Harry I can't." the tears that she had done so well to keep lodged were falling in great lanes down her face as she shook her head. "I can't do this to..." she trailed off and looked towards the direction of the bedroom door.
For all the validity of her reason Harry couldn't help the anger selfishly rise within his own green heart and knelt up on his bed. "What about me Hermione? What about you? I meant what I said." he tried to bite back his anger but his voice still shook with jealous longing. "I don't want to share you anymore."
Hermione looked back at him shocked and for a moment he could have sworn a smile rippled across her face before she turned her head away. "Harry I just can't." she looked back at him and wiped her tear stained face on the sleeve of her jumper.
"Then let me?" he held out his hand to her, his fingers aching to grasp her. "Let Ron blame me. I'll take all the blame if it's for you." he stared back at her with every inch of his face begging for belief in his resolve.
Hermione took him in as if greedily eyeing a precious possession lost to her for so long and took a small step towards him, her hand rising from her side tentatively reaching out towards his even though they were still a whole room apart.
"Why is it I'm always the one looking for you and never the other way around? Not that I mind though." Ron's mumbles were still heard on their end as his footsteps faded away at the bottom of the stairs he had clearly decided she would come down in her own time and didn't bother to push the issue. Hermione looked pained and turned round rushing towards the door but stopping with her hand grasped firmly on the handle. "I..." but whatever she had to say she clearly couldn't manage as she wrenched open the door and walked out the room. The frame shook as it closed again with a finality in its echo that spoke more than her regret filled words ever could.