Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc.
Hermione really wished Neville hadn't left. Really. This was not a conversation she wanted to be having at the minute. She didn't want to hear how Harry was sorry about the rumors starting up again and how he hoped that she wouldn't be too upset at him and that she wouldn't receive too many nasty letters. She didn't want to hear him speak, in that tone of voice, that told her clearly that he thought of her as nothing but a friend.
Well, she supposed that he at least thought of her. That was more than most witches at the school could say. It wasn't as much as she wanted, but it would have to do.
She could definitely live without him rubbing it in her face how he only thought of her as a friend however.
"So Hermione," Harry asked from beside her. "Can we talk? It's really important."
Hermione winced. As much as she would like to, there seemed to be no getting out of this conversation. "Sure Harry. Though I can guess what you're going to talk about . . . and I wanted to let you know that I'm not mad, I don't blame you and—"
"That's good," he interrupted her. "I mean, I didn't mean to start those rumors, but you know how Divination is and . . ."
"Yes, I know, Harry. It's a load of rubbish anyway. I don't know why you and Ron persist in taking that class."
"I . . . yeah, well, that's not what I wanted to talk about . . . about those rumors . . . "
"I know, Harry." Hermione sighed and closed her eyes. "They're just rumors, no substance to them all and—"
"No, there's not . . ." Hermione's heart sank at his words. It was ludicrous, really, how upsetting it was for her to hear the truth for him. She would think that she would have hardened herself to it by now but somehow, she couldn't do that.
"Yeah, and so we'll just have wait it out and —" Hermione began.
"But there could be," he blurted out quickly.
Hermione's jaw dropped. She couldn't have heard Harry correctly. "Um . . . I'm not sure I heard that right . . . did you say . . .?"
Harry flushed and gamely answered her. "I said there could be. You know, substance to those rumors. I mean . . . I don't know what to say here . . . I just thought . . . and you probably think this is silly, but you, me . . . it's not impossible and it might be nice."
Hermione was stumped. She was absolutely speechless. She hadn't ever expected to hear Harry say something like that. He had always been so oblivious to her and how she thought the world of him. Viktor had noticed that very quickly, much to her surprise. Looking back, she knew that she should have expected Viktor to put two and two together as soon as he did, especially given how much time she had spent with him during that year . . . and more often than not, talking about Harry. He was one of the best Seekers in the world and that basically amounted to him being renowned for seeing small things before others did. Only she didn't think what she felt was very small, not even back in her fourth year, though only Viktor had figured it out. They had parted amicably, though with more than just a tinge of sorrow on his part. He had wished her the best and told her that the one she loved was so lucky to have her . . . and to keep her chin up, for she was so wonderful that Harry would have to come to his senses one day. She had blushed and stammered and tried to refute his claims, but he looked at her, his gaze asking her not to lie . . . and so she had finally nodded and thanked him for his well wishes.
And now, almost two years since she and Viktor had said their last good byes, Harry had finally woken up.
Either that, or she just heard him wrong. Or perhaps she was dreaming and she'd wake up right before he kissed her.
Hermione pinched herself. Hard.
"Ow!" she cried. That had hurt.
"Are you all right, Hermione?" Harry asked, with concern in his eyes. "That looked like it hurt."
"That it did, thank you very much."
"Why did you do that then?"
"Oh . . . yeah . . ." Hermione mumbled. She was still in the library and Harry was still gazing soulfully at her, except that he looked worried as well now. Obviously, she couldn't be dreaming so that only left one other option. "Anyway, I don't think I heard you right . . . must have had something in my ears. Could you repeat what you said?"
"You didn't hear me? Okay, I guess that wasn't too coherent." Harry took a deep breath. "You . . . me . . . Hogsmeade this weekend?"
That definitely did not sound like a date to Hermione. "Sure thing, Harry," she replied evenly. "Not that you had to ask, considering we always go to Hogsmeade together."
"No, not like that. Not as friends . . . butlikeadate," Harry said quickly.
Hermione blinked. "A date?"
"Like a romantic date? You and me?"
"Well . . . romantic with flowers and dinner by candlelight . . . I can try," Harry said earnestly.
"We can't have dinner by candlelight. We'll have to be back before then," Hermione replied, ever the practical one.
"Okay, we can have dinner here. That is if you want to go with me," Harry finished nervously, waiting for Hermione's response and hoping that he wasn't shaking too much.
"I already said I would—"
"But just as friends. I was asking as more than that . . . you might not know it – you probably don't know it, but there's no one who I'd rather be with. And I think that might mean something, though I'm not sure what exactly, but I really do want to get to spend some time alone with you . . . and could you please answer, Hermione? I've asked you three times already."
"While in the library," Hermione noted.
"Yeah . . . nothing wrong with that."
"Except that I can't kiss you . . ." Hermione paused. She couldn't believe she just said that. She was supposed to think that only, not speak it.
"So is that a yes?"
". . . so you're not interested?" Harry asked forlornly.
"No!" Hermione almost laughed out loud at how ridiculous the situation was. Finally, her best friend, who she had been pining for, had asked her out . . . but in the library, where she couldn't let him know everything she felt for him. To top it off, he was looking confused as she hadn't even bothered to say yes yet.
It was past time to fix that.
"I was going to say," she started, "that it's only Monday."
"I know. Is it too early to ask? I didn't think that it was but I'm sorry Hermione, I'm not really experienced about this—" Harry was silenced by Hermione laying a finger softly against his lips.
"I'd love to go with you to Hogsmeade this weekend. But I . . . I . . . I don't want to wait that long, not to be with you, not if you feel anything like I do, and I'd much rather . . ."
Harry grinned. "Are you free this evening?"
"Oh! I've that Transfiguration essay to write . . . and so do you and I hope you've started. . . but that shouldn't take me too long and so I should be free this evening . . ." Hermione was silenced by Harry suddenly leaning forward and pressing his lips against hers . . . and she couldn't think of anywhere she'd rather be than with him this evening or any other.
Harry pulled back before the kiss could deepen. "So that is a yes?"
Not forgetting where she was – for Hermione could never do that – she nonetheless ignored the rules and propriety for good measure, and pulled him down for another kiss. Actions spoke louder than words, after all, and she didn't want to leave him with any doubts about what she felt for him.
Several minutes later into the kiss, everyone in the library had pretty
much caught on to just what lay between Harry and Hermione. Which
considering how closely they were pressed together and how eagerly they
were kissing each other, the only thing that could fit between them was
Author's note: Well, the original plan was to have this chapter up before a year had passed since I started writing this fic . . . but better later than never, I hope. Still one chapter left to this thing, as the fic really does need a conclusion, doesn't it? Anyway, thanks to everyone who has reviewed the previous chapters. As always, I would ever so appreciate it if you could let me know what you thought of this chapter by leaving a review.