A Harry Potter Oneshot
Premise: Hermione is sad that her parents can't relate to her magical life, so Harry learns how to use a muggle camera to take photos that she can mail to them with her letters. Using her as a model, however, makes him realize how beautiful she really is.
Author's notes: Takes place during Harry's sixth year. This is also my first shot at Harry Potter fanfiction, so it'll probably be full of American English and embarrassingly misused British-isms.
Hermione was mad at him. Over a stupid potions textbook of all things. He figured he should be used to having anger directed towards him by now though. It sort of came with the fame, whether it was Ron blowing up at him for some misunderstanding, the Dursleys spitting on him just for breathing, Snape sneering at him because he was a Potter, or even the Daily Prophet (and, by extension, the entire wizarding public) whenever a scapegoat was needed for some disaster no one wanted to be responsible for. But this was different. This was Hermione.
Sure she had gotten angry with him in the past, but, for some reason, it never got easier. With Ron, it was always just unreasonable Ron being unreasonable, so it was always easy to just let him sod off to cool his head. Same with the Dursleys or Snape or anyone else for that matter. They never had a real reason to be angry with him, he never deserved their anger. Everyone else only got angry with him for something completely irrational and most likely completely untrue and unjustified. It was different with Hermione. She only got angry with him when he deserved it, when he was being a git, a prat, a prick, whatever.
He blinked for a moment as that comprehension dawned on him. Then he groaned, realizing that he was in fact being a total git to Hermione. He plopped backwards and stretched out on the grass by the lake shore, staring up at the clouds lazily drift by as he contemplated on how to toss his pride aside long enough to apologize to her.
Speak of the devil. He looked up and saw Hermione standing over him with a nervous and apologetic look on her face, so he blurted it out, "Sorry for being a git."
"I'm sorry too... for being unreasonable... and giving you a hard time," she replied softly, her shoulders visibly relaxing in relief. She then gave him a shy and affectionate smile that was warmed by the light of the setting sun. It was a perfect scene, with the pink sunset-burnt clouds behind her, the way she gingerly tucked her hair behind her ear to keep it from swaying in the breeze, and the way she looked at him with those eyes.
So he instinctively reached for his camera and snapped the shot before he realized that he hadn't even bothered to set the aperture, shutter speed, or even the focus. He scowled for a moment at the possibility that the shot might be ruined.
"What was that for?" she asked with a shy laugh as she sat down next to him. "Is that a muggle camera?"
"Yeah, I found it in a pile of Sirius' old stuff," he shrugged, sitting up and advancing the film for another shot. But it wouldn't budge. That must have been the last shot on the roll of film. "It belonged to my mum."
"Your mum must've liked photography then. It's a pretty valuable camera," she remarked as he rewound the roll of film before popping the back open to replace it with another roll.
"You sure? This old piece of junk?" he asked skeptically.
"It's old, maybe from the sixties, but definitely not a piece of junk," she chuckled. "I think it's a Leica M3 rangefinder. Even now, those things probably sell for more than six hundred pounds."
"You know cameras?" he asked, quirking an eyebrow.
"I've read about them in books... Photography, A History," she replied with a sheepish shrug, causing him to laugh a little. "Leica is sort of an influential name in the history of photography, so I guess I remembered it."
Harry couldn't help but grin at such typical Hermione behavior as he slipped the used roll of film into an envelope and tied it to Hedwig's leg. "Take this to Colin and wait for him to develop the photos. It'll probably only take an hour or so."
Hedwig gave a small hoot before taking off. Colin Creevey generally used a magical camera these days, but he was still a muggleborn wizard and had a photography hobby before he had come to Hogwarts, so Harry had asked him to use the room of requirement as a darkroom to develop the photos for him.
"How about you? I didn't know you were into photography," Hermione said. She was a little conflicted on whether to feel sad that there was something about her best friend that she didn't know or glad that she was learning something new about him.
"I'm not. I actually have no idea what I'm doing," he shrugged, handing her the camera. "It's entirely mechanical, no batteries, no electronics, so it works here at Hogwarts. But it also means that it's not automatic. I have to manually set the aperture, shutter speed, and focus before every single shot... it's sort of a steep learning curve. Trial and error."
"Why start now?" she asked out of curiosity. She figured that maybe it was merely because it was a connection with his mother, but she wanted to hear it from him. Harry tended to be a fairly guarded person when it came to his parents, and she wanted him to open up to her a little instead of bottling it all away like that.
His answer, however, surprised her. "Honestly... I was actually thinking about you."
She felt a blush creep up to her cheeks, and she really hoped that she could just pass it off as the glow from the sunset. Could it be that Harry Potter was finally noticing her? Could he finally be interested in her? Did he think that she was pretty enough to take photos of? She felt a flutter of hope in her chest. "M-me?"
He blinked for a moment, finding her sudden shyness a little odd... and perhaps kind of cute. Then he realized how his words could have sounded to her without the proper context and started quickly sputtering out an explanation, "Oh, uh, wait, it's not what you're thinking. I just... last year... when we all got off the Hogwarts Express at Kings Cross station to go home for the summer..."
Last year? Hermione then started feeling flustered when she remembered that she had kissed Harry on the cheek at the station after the Triwazrd Tournament fiasco. "B-b-b-but th-th-that was j-j-j-just... I mean... it was... between friends..."
He raised an eyebrow at her odd behavior. "What are you talking about?"
"W-wait... aren't we..." she made some odd hand gestures which Harry understood to be a question about whether they were on the same page or not.
His eyes then grew wide at the realization and blushed a little. "Oh... that... er... sorry... when I said last year, I didn't literally mean a year ago... I meant the last school year... which was only a few months ago... back in June."
"Oh," Hermione could only hang her head in embarrassment. Why did she have to bring up the kiss when that wasn't even what he was going to talk about in the first place?
"Well, anyway... as I was saying, when we got off at Kings Cross... your reunion with your parents kind of got me thinking," he explained. "And with you talking about us starting our NEWT-level classes this year and how it'll affect your future career, I kind of realized that you and your parents live in different worlds... for the rest of your life even if you choose a magical career. I figured that maybe you miss them more than you're letting on... and how much they must miss you. And since you can't send them magical photos, I figured I'd learn how to take some muggle photos so that you can mail them to your parents... you know... let them at least feel a little bit more connected to your life."
Harry was then rewarded for his thoughtfulness with one of her patented bone-crushing hugs. "Oh, Harry!"
"H-H-Hermione?" he stammered when she realized that she was crying into his jumper.
She shook her head into his chest. Everything he had said was true. Too true. It had hit a sensitive spot that she had tried to avoid dealing with. As a muggleborn witch, she hated the Statute of Secrecy. Despite her reverence for the rules and authority, despite the fact she understood the necessity of the Statute, despite all logic, her emotional side hated it. She hated having to live in a completely different world from her parents. She hated how muggles weren't allowed into wizarding society. Choosing a magical career would mean that the divide between her and her parents would only grow that much larger. But they were now starting their NEWT-level classes, and the possibility of that magical career was looming over her shoulders. The decision to chase her career into a world that shunned her parents or to give up a magical career to be closer to her family was a suffocating burden. She had worked far too hard to give up a career in the wizarding world but, at the same time, the thought of leaving her family completely destroyed her. Sure she could always visit them, but just the fact that they could never be a part of her world was heartbreaking. Feelings were just irrational like that.
Harry wasn't the most eloquent wizard in the world, so he decided to just silently be there for her as she cried. He honestly hadn't thought that he would have gotten this kind of reaction from her. He wasn't doing this just for Hermione though. What he hadn't told her, though she had probably already suspected, was that the fact that the camera had belonged to Lily Potter gave it some sentimental value. He was already putting his father's invisibility cloak to good use, so he felt that he should at least give his mother's camera a shot too. It was when he had been thinking about his own parents that he had thought of Hermione's parents.
But there was also a third reason. It had been a combination of Sirius' death and learning the prophecy from Dumbledore that had brought it on. If he was destined to defeat Voldemort or die trying, he wanted to at least leave behind some proof that Harry Potter existed. Sure there were plenty of photographs of him circulating in the media such as the Daily Prophet, but those were all of The Boy Who Lived. He wanted to leave behind some photos of Harry Potter... just Harry.
He didn't know how long they were sitting in each other's arms like that by the lake, so he was a little surprised when Hedwig had returned. It was then that he noticed that the sky had darkened into night. Had they really just spent the last hour holding each other?
"Hello, Hedwig," Hermione said with a soft smile, though she kept her arms encircled around Harry's waist.
"Well, let's see how badly I mangled these shots," Harry chuckled, taking the packet of developed photos from Hedwig. The first photo in the stack, however, shocked him so much that his hands began to tremble, almost to the point of dropping all of the photos.
"It's... your mother..." Hermione gasped softly. "B-but how?"
"There was already a roll of film inside the camera..." Harry choked, fighting the urge to run his fingers across the glossy photo in fear that he might smudge it with fingerprints. "My dad must've taken this..."
It was a beautiful close-up shot of Lily Potter, laughing as she tried to keep her hair under control on a windy day. The film had been old though, long expired, causing the contrast to diminish and the color balance to skew, and the background was out of focus as well, all of which gave the photo a glowingly surreal and dreamlike atmosphere. Even if it didn't move like a magical photo, the impact of the photo's stillness was so much greater. He could almost feel her laughter, her happiness, through the photograph.
"Harry? Are you okay?" Hermione asked in a gentle voice as she nuzzled her cheek against his shoulder.
"Y-yeah, I'm okay," he nodded, infinitely glad that he had such a great friend to lean on.
He then flipped to the next photo and chuckled. It was completely black. It was his first test shot with the camera and he had horribly underexposed it, not letting enough light in through the lens. "Kind of hard to get the exposure right without an electronic light meter..."
"Well, you're improving at least," she chuckled as he flipped through more of his test photos. A vast majority of them were generic landscape shots from around the castle, and a lot of them were either too dark from underexposure or too bright and washed out from overexposure. Some were even shaky and terribly blurred from too slow a shutter speed. It wasn't until they reached the last photo that he had nailed it just right.
It was Hermione. And, due to the fact that the film had been sitting in the camera for more than a decade, the photo shared the same glowing and dreamlike atmosphere as the photo of Lily. It was oddly fitting.
"Beautiful..." Harry murmured without even realizing that he was thinking out loud, causing the butterflies to flutter in Hermione's chest again. "Wanna send this one to your parents with your next letter?"
"Yeah, I'm sure they'd like that," she nodded with a smile as he used magic to create a duplicate for himself. The photo was magically inert, so it wasn't too difficult to make a copy, unlike magical photographs which had copyright protections spells built in. But it was the fact that he wanted a copy for himself that made her feel more beautiful than she ever had before.
"Well... it looks like we missed dinner," he chuckled sheepishly as he got up to his feet and held out a hand to help her up as well. "Let's get Dobby to sneak us a meal or something."
"Sounds good," she grinned as they began their trek back to the castle.
"You cold?" he asked, taking off his robe and placing it around her shoulders before she could even reply.
She couldn't help but smile as she held the warmth of his robes closer to her body. Harry's warmth. "Not anymore."
"Where's Harry?" Ron asked as he came down the Great Hall for breakfast the next morning only to find Hermione sitting by herself at their usual spot.
"Over there," Hermione replied with a smile as she nodded down at the other side of the Gryffindor table where Harry and Colin Creevey were having an animated discussion; well, animated on Colin's part anyway. It was usually Colin who approached Harry, not the other way around, so Colin was looking especially ecstatic that the Harry Potter had wanted to talk to him, especially since, she guessed, that the topic of conversation was probably their now shared interest in photography.
"What was that about, mate?" Ron raised an eyebrow once Harry joined them for breakfast.
"Just asking Colin for some photography tips," Harry shrugged, filling his plate with food.
"Photography?" Ron asked in confusion through a mouthful of eggs and bacon.
Harry grinned as he pulled out his camera and snapped a goofy photo of a puzzled-looking Ron Weasely, with his hamster-pouch cheeks stuffed full of food, sitting next to a disgusted-looking Hermione. And Hermione couldn't help but laugh as she imagined how funny that shot might turn out.
"Is that a muggle camera?" Ron was so used to the accompanying flash of a magical camera, since it wasn't actually used for lighting but rather for imprinting the magic of the scene, but there was no flash on Harry's camera, so it was a little unnerving to him. "And why photography all of a sudden?"
Harry didn't really want to repeat his explanation from the night before, plus Ron sort of had a pretty limited emotional range anyway, so he just shrugged. "Just wanted to be on the other side of the camera for once, I guess?"
"Alright then, take your best shot," Ron guffawed as he struck an overly dramatic, majestic, and dashing pose, like he was trying to be some kind of epic Greek marble statue.
Harry laughed as he took his time with getting the focus, aperture, shutter speed, and composition just right this time before taking the shot. "Got it."
"Come on, you too, Hermione," Ron urged with a grin. "Give us your best sexy pose."
Hermione blushed and shook her head. "No way! It's embarrassing! There are too many people around!"
"Hey, Harry! Heard you got a muggle camera! Wanna to do some nude shots of me? I'm seventeen, legally of age now, y'know!" Katie Bell called out teasingly as she struck aforementioned sexy pose.
"Blimey, I gotta gets me a camera," Ron gulped as a swarm of fan girls proceeded to swamp Harry as usual.
"Hey, you're actually turning out to be a pretty good photographer," Hermione remarked as the two of them sat down at their spot by the lake to go through his second batch of photos. She had to laugh at the candid shot from a couple days ago of Ron with his mouth full of food and her giving him a look of disgust. "Can I send this one to my parents?"
"Yeah, sure," Harry grinned as he made a copy. "Did you already mail the one of you to them?"
"Oh, yeah, they were really happy," she beamed. Then she blushed a little when she remembered the reply letter that she had gotten from her mother. Her mother had teased her that she had never seen Hermione look as pretty as she had in that photo, and that nothing could make a girl prettier than being in love. "They framed it and put it on the fireplace with the other family photos."
"That's great," he smiled. The only reason she had mentioned that her parents had framed the photo was because she had hoped to coax him to mention whether he had as well, so she was a little disappointed that he had just let it topic hang in the air like that. She was actually really hoping that he had framed that photo of her and placed it on his nightstand next to his bed or something.
"Oh, my parents would love this one. Can I have a copy?" she asked, gasping at a gorgeous shot of the small darkened silhouette of Hogwarts castle against a vast cloud-streaked sunset sky.
"Sure," he nodded as he made a copy of that one for her too. "I used a wide-angle lens for this shot to sort of capture the vastness of the sky."
"You sound like a pro photographer already," she teased. "Speaking of pros... hey, have you thought about what you want to do professionally after Hogwarts?" she asked, remembering their discussion the other day about whether she would choose a magical career or go back to the muggle world with her parents.
Harry ran his hand through his hair and grimaced slightly. "Honestly... not really."
"Why not?" she demanded, sounding concerned. "NEWTs are next year, and they'll either open or close lots of doors for us. You really should give it some thought now before you regret it. For example, let's say you wanted to be a spellcrafter once you graduate, but you didn't take the NEWT for arithmancy... it will be really difficult to catch up, you know. It's better to have some idea or plan now."
"I guess..." he shrugged, though he honestly didn't feel the same sense of urgency towards a career that Hermione did. Even when he had found out that not getting into Snape's NEWT-level potions had closed the doors on him for being an auror, he didn't really take it too hard. And when Slughorn had accepted him into the NEWT-level potions class anyway, he didn't exactly feel a big whoop that the door to being an auror was open again. But, then again, it all seemed kind of trivial considering that he might die fighting Voldemort. What would be the point of preparing for a future that might not be there? Though, of course, he couldn't tell Hermione that.
"Do you still want to be an auror?" she asked. Honestly, she actually didn't want him to be one. Too dangerous. Watching him play quidditch was bad enough as it is. If he became an auror, she would be constantly worrying about him, fretfully wondering every single day whether he would come back home alive. But once he did come home safe and sound, her relief from all of that pent up nerve-racking tension would lead to amazing sex. So maybe it wouldn't be all bad. 'Wait, what? What am I thinking?'
"Maybe an auror... for lack of a better option, I guess," he sighed.
"Oh, I'm sure you have plenty of options, Harry," she chided good-naturedly, trying to put aside the thoughts of married life to Auror Potter. "You're good at lots of stuff."
"Well, yeah, I guess," he shrugged. "But that's the problem."
"What do you mean?"
He thought about it for a moment before replying. It wasn't really something he ever talked to anybody else before. "I can always master the basics of pretty much anything with no problem and can get pretty far with almost no effort... like quidditch for example... I barely practice... I won my first match back in first year and became a hot shot quidditch star even though I barely knew the rules at the time. It's almost absurd, isn't it?"
Hermione gave it some thought and realized that everything did in fact seem to come easy for Harry. He was just simply good at everything. Well, everything aside from occlumency anyway. She even remembered sometimes thinking that it was unfair that Harry could just slack off with Ron while she slaved away in the library, and his results still managed to nip at her heels.
"You know, the sorting hat wanted to put me in Slytherin," he continued with a shrug. "Sometimes I feel like my ability to just pick up stuff with minimal effort is like the embodiment of pureblood ideology. It's like as if I were somehow genetically inclined, or fated, or born, to be able to pick up skills faster and more easily than others without really working for it. Sometimes I feel like that's what Ron or Malfoy, as purebloods, strive for. But I didn't really grow up with that kind of outlook on life like pureblood wizards do, so sometimes it sort of bothers me, like it's unfair to the people who truly work hard or something."
Ah, there it was. That was why Hermione could never resent Harry.
"But I guess I still do have to deal with the other half of being a jack of all trades... I'm pretty much a master of none," he chuckled. "I always end up hitting a wall. I don't really know what it is. Maybe the fact that I can pick up stuff so easily had made me averse to actually working hard to improve further. Or maybe the fact that I can so easily just move onto something else, like photography, and be equally as good at it spreads me out too thin, like I have too many hobbies and not enough time to devote to really mastering any one thing. I dunno, but whatever it is, I hit that wall. And then usually the true geniuses of hard work overtake me. Like... sure I'm better than Ron at quidditch now and am more of a natural at it, but he'll overtake me someday with his fanatical devotion and make it to the pros. But me? I'd never make it in the English Premier League.
"So even if I am decently good at a lot of things... I'm not exceptionally good at any one thing to turn it into a career or anything," he concluded with a shrug. "Thus... for the lack of a better option... auror."
Hermione couldn't help but silently gaze at him with a quiet wonder. Sure it turned out that he still hadn't given any real thought to his future, but at least he was thinking. Thinking quite a lot in fact. And quite deeply too. It was kind of sexy, honestly. Thinking was sexy. Plus, for once, it was him that had rambled on for quite a while instead of how it usually was, with him being a good listener to her endless rambles.
"Sorry, I went on for so long," he said sheepishly. "It's kind of easy to talk to you, so..."
She smiled and shook her head. "I appreciate it."
"How about you? You thinking about your future already?" he asked.
"I've probably thought about it too much," she chuckled.
"Well, don't stress out too much about it then," he shrugged with a smile as he pulled out his camera. "I'll take a few shots of you while there's still daylight."
"It's... it's still a little embarrassing," she admitted with a blush as she felt his eyes focus on her and only her. It was a wonderful feeling to be really looked at by a boy she fancied, but it was something she wasn't used to, and it was almost overwhelming. Posing was still awkward for her as well, especially since she didn't grow up with many friends, so picture-taking outside of family events was foreign to her.
"Want me to grab some firewhiskey for you then?" he joked.
"Nooo, no alcohol," she laughed and, just then, Harry snapped a quick shot. "Hey! I wasn't ready!"
"I like it when you're just being yourself, natural," he shrugged, giving her a reassuring grin. "If posing is embarrassing for you, then it'll be unnatural."
"If you say so," she replied with a shy smile. He then quickly snapped off another shot of that endearingly cute shyness. "Hey!"
Harry laughed as she gave him a playful smack on the arm. "Okay, okay, I'll give you time to get comfortable in a pose."
"Um... so how should I pose? I don't really have much experience with this," she admitted timidly. "A-are you sure you don't want Katie Bell? She... she seemed to know what she was doing... and... and..." Then she silently added, 'And she's prettier than me...'
"You don't know what you're doing, and I definitely don't know what I'm doing, so it all works out, we're learning together," he pointed out, smiling as he pulled out Hogwarts, A History from her bag and handed it to her. He figured that choosing her own pose was probably just as embarrassing as actually posing, so he decided to pick a pose for her; and what more comfortable pose than reading? "Okay... lie down on the grass and pretend to read... or read for real if you'd like."
"Okay," Hermione let out a light laugh, glad that Harry still wanted her as his model over Katie Bell. Sure he didn't explicitly state that it was because he thought one girl was prettier than the other, but she still won, and that was what mattered because it meant that Harry's eyes would be on her and her alone for the next few moments.
Harry glanced up at direction of the sunlight and then back down to Hermione who was already reading. He then moved around to find where he could maximize the impact of the winter sunlight that was filtering in through the clouds from the west. It was sort of strange being able to put in so much thought for just one shot. Before, all of his shots of Hermione were spontaneous, so he didn't really have any time to think at all; this was a completely different experience.
"Can you bend your right leg so that it sticks up in the air?" he asked, trying to balance out the scene by filling in some empty space.
"Like this?" she asked, complying.
"Perfect." He then went back to studying the scene before gently arranging her hair to keep it from obstructing her face at the angle he was going to take the shot at. He could feel her relax into his gentle touch. "Yeah, try not to tense up, stay relaxed like that."
He then moved back a good distance and lay down on the grass as well to get a level angle. Then, studying the scene through the viewfinder to make sure it was a perfect shot, he found that he was catching small details that he would have otherwise never noticed before. Like how utterly beautiful Hermione Granger was. It wasn't Hermione in her periwinkle blue Yule Ball dress beautiful, it was more... it was... just Hermione. Then it occurred to him that maybe that her Yule Ball dress was to her what the title of Boy Who Lived was to him... something that people couldn't look past to see the real person, the real beauty.
"Did you take the shot yet?" she called out, breaking him out of his thoughts.
"Huh? Oh, just a tick, I'm going to take multiple shots just in case I screw up the exposure or focus," he replied quickly as he used the rangefinder to lock the focus on her. Then he widened the aperture so that both the foreground and background would blur slightly, leaving the heart of the photo on Hermione and her book. That kind of selective focus was something unique to muggle photography, since magical cameras only captured the scene as it were as a whole.
And Hermione found that she loved modeling for him. It made her feel like he only had eyes for her, like she was the only girl in the world.
"Looking good, Granger!"
Hermione raised a puzzled eyebrow as Seamus came by and gave her a suggestive wink. "What was that all about?"
"They saw the pictures Harry took of you," Ron grumbled as he shot Seamus a deadly glare. Then he shot an even more poisonous glare at Cormac McLaggen.
"What? Harry's been showing them around?" she stammered in panic. She had liked to think that those photos of her were for Harry and Harry alone.
"Not really. He just framed a couple shots of you and has them on his nightstand," Ron shrugged grumpily, not really happy about the idea that other guys were starting to look at Hermione as a member of the female sex. Harry's photos had definitely opened a few eyes to how attractive Hermione actually was.
"Really?" she asked, having trouble hiding the happiness in her voice. Her wild imagination was having a field day trying to picture Harry going to bed at night with the photo of her as the last thing he saw before going to sleep and then also the first thing he saw in the morning after waking up. She never realized that she could be so sappy.
"Along with a picture of this one other really pretty redhead," Ron remarked, his voice changing to a tone of approval as he swirled the pumpkin juice in his glass suavely like he were James Bond 007 or something before taking a sip. "You don't happen to know who she is, do you?"
Hermione had to stifle a giggle. "You mean Harry's mum?"
Ron choked and let out a violent spray of pumpkin juice in shock. "Harry's mum?"
"I don't think Harry would appreciate you lusting over his mum," Hermione laughed as Neville, completely covered in Ron's spray of pumpkin juice and saliva, glared at Ron in disgust. She then cast a quick cleanup charm for him. "Sorry about that, Neville."
"Why didn't he just say so? I was about to fall in love with her!" Ron groaned as he got up to leave. "Blast it all! Maybe some quidditch will get my mind off of Harry's bloody mum! Have to get used to playing in the snow for the upcoming game against Slytherin anyway."
"Did you two have another row?" Harry asked, taking Ron's abandoned seat in time to see him storming away.
"No, he's just a little heartbroken over an unobtainable girl," Hermione replied.
"Who? Fleur? I thought he already knew that Bill was dating her," Harry raised an eyebrow as he reached for some pumpkin juice.
"No, not Fleur," she smirked impishly at the timing of it all. "Your mum."
Harry choked on the pumpkin juice and Neville was once again subjected to a violent spray of the ubiquitous Hogwarts beverage. "My mum?"
"Harry, do you and Ronald have a nargle infestation?" Luna inquired as she passed by and cleaned Neville up with a spell. "It would be advisable not to expose Neville to any more nargles or you might pass on the infestation. You should really watch out for the nargles during the winter, especially around mistletoe."
"I'll keep that in mind, Luna," Harry coughed as Hermione gave him some good-natured pats on the back to help him clear his airways of pumpkin juice.
"Sorry, Neville, I couldn't resist," Hermione apologized with a grin.
"It's alright. I'll leave you two to it then," Neville replied as he got up to leave. He wasn't really sure what was going on between Harry and Hermione, but he hadn't seen her so lively in a long time, so he figured that it was a good thing whatever it was.
"So... um... looks like we got some fresh snow last night..." Harry trailed off as he made some incomprehensible hand gestures. "Er... I mean... would you like to go take a walk outside? And maybe take a few photos?"
She wasn't sure why but Harry's lack of poise in asking her out on a simple morning stroll almost made it sound like he was asking her out on a date or something, and that caused her to blush. "Yeah, sure."
"Great," he grinned as she put on her baby blue knit hat and matching gloves.
"Wow, it's so pretty out here!" Hermione gasped once they stepped outside into the blanket of white snow. He couldn't help but take a quick close-up photo of her as she cupped her hands together to catch some drifting snowflakes. He wondered if it hadn't been for his camera, if he would have ever been on the lookout for these kinds of small magical moments. It definitely wasn't the first time it snowed at Hogwarts, so it was a marvel how he could have missed Hermione's angelic expression of childlike wonder at the first snowfall of the year for the past five years.
"My parents really appreciate the photos, you know," she remarked, having received a letter just yesterday. "To them, Hogwarts was always this distant and mythical fairy tale land that they just couldn't relate to. But now it's a little more real... not just Hogwarts, but my life here at Hogwarts too."
"Sometimes I wonder if my mum, as a muggleborn, felt the same way with her parents... maybe that's why she bought this camera," Harry said, glancing up at the sky and the falling snow.
Hermione smiled at that. It was nice to hear him open up about his parents to her. "But, you know, my mum said that, as nice as your photos are... they still don't really paint the entire picture of life at Hogwarts."
"Really? Is there something wrong with my photography?" he asked. Aside from Colin, there really weren't any other experts on muggle photography around, so constructive criticism was hard to come by.
"No, it's not that," she shrugged with a shy smile as she kicked some snow. "There's just this one important thing that you've never taken a photo of for me to send to them..."
Harry thought about it for a moment, wondering what exactly he had missed. He had taken photos of most of their friends and professors, pretty much slices out of daily Hogwarts life, anything that wouldn't overtly give away the fact that there was magic going on anyway. They were supposed to be muggle photographs after all. So what could he have missed?
She had to giggle a little at Harry's look of puzzlement. "It's you, silly. My mum noticed that there aren't any photos of you... you're such a big part of my life, so it's like there's a big chunk missing when I keep sending photos and there's none of you... my life wouldn't be complete without you in it, you know?"
That gave him pause, especially how she had worded that last statement. "Well..." he began slowly, "I am the one taking the photos."
"I know, so maybe... you could teach me how to use your camera?" she suggested. "Or... for now... how about we take a picture... you know... together?"
"How would we do that? I don't have tripod or a shutter delay," he asked, scratching his head.
"Well... first... we stand closer together," she said, motioning him to stand next to her. "And just hold the camera out at arm's-length and point it towards us."
"Oh, right," he nodded, hesitantly scooting up next to her. Being so close to her, however, was making his heart skip beats and his hands lost all coordination as he fumbled with the camera lens. Then, once he finally managed to use the distance markers on the lens to set the focus at approximately arm's-length, he held out the camera at aforementioned arm's-length and faced the lens towards them. "Ready?"
She scooted into him as well, finding that her body fit cozily in with his, and unconsciously tilted her head closer towards his. Perfect. "Ready."
Hermione found that the letters she exchanged with her parents this year were far richer than letters from previous years. Perhaps it was thanks to Harry's photos giving her parents actual slice-of-life glimpses into the stuff that she wrote about in her letters. A picture was worth a thousand words and whatnot after all. Like, for example, on top of just telling her mother what a slob Ron is at mealtime, Harry's photos actually showed hilarious snippets of what Hermione had to deal with every day. She could tell that her parents felt more well-connected with her life, and that the distance between her and her family wasn't so painfully large anymore.
She felt incredibly thankful to Harry for being so thoughtful. Thinking of Harry, she smiled as she glanced over at the framed photo of the two of them on her nightstand. It was slightly off-kilter due to Harry having to take the photo at arm's-length, but that just added to the charm. And Harry was sporting that lopsided grin of his that she loved so much. He looked so good in that photo, almost to the point where she felt that she wasn't pretty enough to be in it with him. Feeling a little depressed at that thought, her shoulders slumped as she glanced back at the letter she was writing to her parents.
"Oh, hey, is that photo new?" Parvati asked as she walked in, noticing the photo of Hermione and Harry on the nightstand. Upon closer inspection, she squealed at how sweet it was. "Oh, wow, you two look so cute together!"
"R-really?" Hermione blanked out momentarily in surprise.
"Definitely! So are you two, you know, a couple now?" Parvati asked, eager for some juicy gossip. "You two look so beautiful together in this shot that I could almost forgive him for that Yule Ball fiasco!"
It was one thing to be called a beautiful girl, but to be called a beautiful couple with the boy she fancied was on an entirely different level that sent her soaring. "Y-y-you really think so?"
"So are you two dating or what?" Parvati pushed.
"N-no, no, we're not," Hermione stammered, shaking her head.
"So Potter is still a jerk. Stringing innocent girls along like this, tsk, tsk," Parvati shook her head and clicked her tongue in lighthearted disapproval.
"He's not stringing me along!" Hermione insisted in Harry's defense.
"Well, not intentionally anyway," Parvati laughed with a shrug. "But intentionally or not, it's still cruel."
Hermione's shoulders slumped. "What should I do?"
Parvati then gave her a wink as she struck the same sexy pose that Katie Bell had teasingly offered to Harry. "Nude shots."
"Sorry, sorry," she giggled. "No, but seriously, I do have some actual advice."
Hermione tilted her head to one side in curiosity. She and Parvati never really had any real conversations of any deep substance before, especially since their interests were on complete opposite ends of the spectrum. Sure they got along just fine, but they were what she would consider just casual friends, someone to have fun with but not someone she would usually confide in for serious issues like she could with Ginny or Harry.
"Honestly, do you love him?" Parvati asked. "Like... can you imagine a future with him? Or, on the flipside, imagine a future without him?"
Hermione let out a long sigh and finally admitted out loud what she had been holding in for so long. It was sort of odd that it was to Parvati of all people. "Yes... I think I am in love him..."
"Well... Harry's problem is that he is total bollocks at Divination," Parvati explained. She herself loved Divination, though she could understand why others would come to dislike it.
"What's that got to do with anything?" Hermione frowned.
"You wouldn't know since you dropped Divination, but I watch Harry during Divination sometimes... kind of hard not to since half of Professor Trelawney's prophecies are about him," Parvati shrugged. "He doesn't put much stock in Divination, that's pretty obvious, but it runs deeper than that. He doesn't believe in the future in general, that much I've noticed. And, without a future to believe in, of course he'd think Divination is bollocks."
"Where are you going with this?" Hermione asked, though she had to admit to being impressed by Parvati's observations. She had always come across as sort of an airhead, so it was actually a pleasant surprise. Really thinking about it, she knew that Parvati was correct too. Harry didn't put much stock in the future. She remembered her conversation with him about what kind of career he wanted after Hogwarts, and his only reply was that he would choose auror by default. By default! What kind of apathetic answer was that?
"Well, for whatever reason, I don't know what it is, maybe it's You-Know-Who looming over his shoulder, but he just doesn't see a future for himself," Parvati continued. "And that also means that he doesn't see a future with you."
Hermione deflated immediately. "Oh..."
"But you can change that, of course," Parvati added. "Drop him some hints. Get him to think about the future more. He needs to stop wallowing in the past."
The past. Sirius. His parents. Cedric. The good 'ole days where nothing was so complicated. Hermione knew that it was probably easier for Harry to get caught up staring at a photograph from the past rather than looking forward towards an uncertain future. And the ironic thing was that Parvati didn't even know how right she was.
"I know that it's way too early, maybe even silly and naïve, to think about marriage, but what girl hasn't given her boyfriend's last name a test run, you know? Hermione Potter, nice ring to it, yes?" Parvati giggled. "The future is hope, and it's something Harry doesn't have at the moment. So go give him one... a future... a family... you don't have to predict one, go make one. That's what Divination is all about."
Harry was lying down on his bed as he held up a photo of him and Hermione, staring at it as he contemplated his feelings for her. Whenever she was near, his first instinct was to put his arm around her and pull her close, or perhaps intertwine his fingers in hers. Whenever he glanced at her lips or looked into her eyes, he felt this inexplicable urge to kiss her, making him wonder if he could be addicted to something he hadn't even tried yet. He knew he was falling in love with her, but he didn't know what to do about it.
On one hand, it just felt so right. But, at the same time, it also felt so wrong on so many levels. Ron was the least of his problems though. He had suspicions that that there had been an inkling of something going on between Ron and Hermione, but Lavender had googly eyes for Ron since the beginning of the term. And knowing Ron, he'd probably jump at the chance to snog anybody with a pair of breasts and blonde hair. Besides, not to be bigheaded or anything, but even he could see that Hermione fancied him over Ron now that he was actually bothering to take a closer look. What Hermione had with Ron were violent sparks, literally; passionate, sure, but would likely fizzle just as quick. What she had with Harry, despite lacking the fireworks at the moment, was a quiet and comfortable chemistry, stable, almost domestic.
No, his biggest problem was that he had a fifty-fifty chance of surviving the next few years. Not even fifty-fifty, that was way too generous. If the prophecy was legitimate, and it would all come down to a one-on-one showdown between him and Voldemort, would anybody realistically place bets on a scrawny mediocre teenaged wizard to overcome the most powerful dark lord since Grindelwald? Even with some mysterious power unknown to Voldemort, Harry knew his chances were realistically pretty slim. It wouldn't be fair to Hermione to start a relationship with her knowing that there was a good chance that he could possibly kick the bucket soon, leaving her brokenhearted.
When he had started this school year, knowing the prophecy, he had decided that he had wanted it to be a normal year. That way, he hoped that he could at least experience normal life one last time before heading off to vanquish Voldemort or die trying. He wanted all the normal things, the adrenalin rush of quidditch matches, pepper-up potions during chaotic pre-exam all-nighters, butterbeer during Hogsmead weekends, messing around with all of the newest Weasley Wizarding Wheezes, getting his arse handed to him in chess on a regular basis, a romantic fling with a girlfriend, and whatnot. Was that really too much to ask?
But what he wanted with Hermione was not a fling. If it had been some random girl, say, Ginny, who seemed to easily cycle through boyfriends like seasonal clothing, then it probably wouldn't have been too difficult to break it off with her at the end of the year, saying it was too dangerous or something. But he couldn't do that with Hermione. He felt that, once he had her, he wouldn't be able to let go, ever. He knew that it was naïve and perhaps juvenile to think that way at such a young age, but he couldn't really help it. Not that he felt young anyway, it was kind of hard to feel young when there was a death sentence hanging over his head.
"I can't do this... not to her..." he murmured as he set the photo of the two of them down on his nightstand. If he died fighting Voldemort though, at least that photo was proof that Harry Potter existed, proof that he had loved Hermione Granger.
He looked up in surprise to see Hermione standing in the doorway of the sixth-year boy's dorm. Despite his earlier internal conflict, he managed a weak smile, "Wotcher. What are you doing here?"
"Just wondering if you were going to go down for dinner, it already started, you know," she said, taking a cautious step into the so-called bastion of Gryffindor masculinity and brotherhood. She then spotted the framed photos of her on his nightstand, causing her eyes to twinkle with delight.
Dinner already started; no wonder how he had somehow managed to have such a rare moment of peace to just think.
"Hey, Harry?" she asked softly as she delicately took a seat on his bed next to him before straightening out her skirt.
"Yes?" he gulped, suddenly finding his heart in his throat of all places.
She then wordlessly placed her hand in his and interlaced their fingers together, blushing as she shyly averted her gaze. And Harry was just absolutely stunned into speechlessness.
'Fuck it.' And with that, all of his previous internal debates and ruminations were thrown completely out the window as he leaned in to gently caress her lips with his in a tender kiss.
But despite having thrown out all of his reservations out the proverbial window with that kiss, the weight of reality quickly came rushing back in through the front door after he had taken some time to think it over and sleep on it.
'What am I doing?' he groaned internally. No, he didn't regret kissing her, far from it. But that still didn't change the fact that he was supposed to fight Voldemort. Stupid ruddy dark lord. This is why we can't have nice things.
He looked up to see Hermione descend the stairs to the common room in her pajamas, rubbing sleep from her eyes. "Morning."
"Morning. What are you doing up so early?" she asked, sitting down next to him and taking his hand in hers as she affectionately nuzzled her cheek against the crook of his neck.
'You know what? Voldemort can go bugger himself,' he thought, all rationality and prudence once again thrown out the window as a stupidly happy grin plastered itself across his face with the sweet scent of peaches that wafted from her soft wavy hair.
"Daybreak is the best time of day to take photos due to the lighting, so I've sort of gotten used to waking up early," he replied. "Plus it's about the only time the common room is quiet so that I can get some thinking done."
"Oh? What were you thinking about?" she asked.
His lips involuntarily tightened into a small frown as thoughts of the prophecy and Voldemort once again came rushing back. Persistent buggers. He knew the longer that he was with Hermione like this, the more difficult it would be to take the responsibility of going after Voldemort. He allowed himself a silently scornful mental chuckle as he thought about how breaking it off with Hermione as soon as possible would be for the so-called greater good. But he didn't want to break it off with her. He was happy now.
His eyes then narrowed at that thought. Yes, he was happy now. But what if he failed to kill Voldemort and died? Would Hermione be happy then? No, she'd be heartbroken. More so if he decided to be in a relationship with her till the bitter end. If he broke it off with her, she'd be hurt now, but it would hurt less in the long run if he ever died at the hands of the Dark Lord.
Hermione watched his facial features change with every new thought as the gears in his head were cranking away. She then decided to break him out of his internal deliberation by straddling his lap and pulling him into an affectionate kiss. "What were you thinking about?"
"Huh?" he asked with a dazed look on his face as her kiss had caused his brain to momentarily short-circuit. "I... dunno... nothing important I guess."
"As flattered as I am that one kiss can trainwreck your entire thought process, I'm not buying it," she laughed, playfully smacking him on the arm.
He paused for a moment to allow his brain the reboot. Then he blurted out, "What if I die?"
He winced, internally berating himself for saying something so stupid, as her shoulders slumped. She had expected that this was what had been holding him back, but hearing it from him out loud still hit her like a bludger. She had expected it, but now that she was confronted with it, she had no idea what to say to him.
Was she supposed to say that everything was going to turn out okay? That they would live happily forever after? No, that would be irresponsible. He probably wouldn't even believe it anyway. Voldemort was too powerful for that. Dying was a very real possibility that couldn't realistically be ignored. Not just his death, but her own as well, and maybe even countless more of the citizens of magical Britain.
She knew that she wanted to be with him regardless though. If he did end up dying, she would miss him so much, but that pain would be inconsequential compared to the pain she would feel if she wasn't able to love him till the bitter end. But how was she going to convince him of that? Harry, if anything, was tremendously stubborn when it came to her safety and wellbeing, even if he was terribly misguided in his good intentions.
She let out a sigh as she encircled her arms around his neck and rested her forehead against his. "If you die... can I at least be the mother of your child before you go?"
He blinked in shock and could only give her a blank look as her all-too-serious eyes locked onto his. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he noticed her lips crack upwards into a nearly imperceptible smirk before they both burst out laughing.
"We can name her Emma Watson Potter," she suggested with a smile, pulling out a random name from thin air as she pushed him down onto the sofa and lay down on top of him.
"And I suppose she'll have the same aversion to her middle name as Tonks does to her first name," Harry grinned. "Emma Don't-Call-Me-Watson Potter."
"She'll have dark hair... straight at the roots like yours, but gradually wavier towards the tips like mine," Hermione added cheerfully before giving him a peck on the lips. "And she'll be naturally curious about the world, but also have a tendency to be moody."
"Your parents will also probably spoil her rotten," he quipped, returning the peck on the lips. "So sometimes she'll have bursts of accidental magic when she doesn't get what she wants."
"Ron will probably try to have her on a broom before she can walk," Hermione grinned. "And we'll probably have Ron sent to the hospital a few times after she accidentally conks him in the head with a toy bludger."
"And Luna will probably convince her that crumple-horned snorkacks exist. But she'll probably stop believing in them at about the same time she stops believing in Santa Claus," Harry laughed.
"She'll probably eat her fair share of dirt too with Neville around," she added.
"And Ginny will probably ensure that she has all the newest fashions before she even cares about clothes," he chuckled.
"And she'll go through muggle primary school even if she is a witch," she remarked.
"Then..." his shoulders slumped as the energy level died down and a bittersweet smile crossed his lips, "Then... one day... she'll ask you... where's daddy?"
She couldn't help but have her eyes tear up as her heart broke. She shook her head before kissing him lovingly. "Then I'll tell her... it's only five o'clock. Daddy comes home from work at six. Then I'll teach her how to tell time on the clock. Okay?"
"Then I suppose she'll wait at the front door... impatiently glancing at the clock every five minutes..." Harry whispered weakly. "And when six o'clock hits and her daddy still hasn't walked in through the front door..."
"She opens the front door and sees her daddy getting out of the car, so she rushes outside in her bare feet to give him a big hug," she insisted, nipping affectionately at his earlobe as she whispered into his ear. "Then I'll scold her... Emma Watson Potter, remember to put your shoes on before you go outside!"
"Then she'll be all like... don't call me Watson!" Harry chuckled, feeling his eyes start to tear up as well.
"Then I'll give you... my loving husband... a welcome home kiss," she murmured as she provided him a sneak-peek by giving him a loving kiss on the lips. "How's that for a prophecy?"
"I learned... that divination... prophecies... they aren't about predicting the future... they're about making it," she said, placing her finger on his lips. "So let's make our future with our own two hands, okay? And whatever happens, I want to make that future with you together, no matter what... because... because... I love you... and whatever stupid idiotic thing you say will never convince me otherwise."
He gazed into her watery eyes and saw her looking back at him with such adoration that he couldn't refuse her even if he had wanted to. "I love you too..."
She then grinned brightly as she sniffled and wiped her tears on her sleeve before leaning down for another kiss. Now that she had finally managed to confirm Harry's feelings for her, this kiss was more heated, more passionate. She moaned into it, arching her back in pleasure, as they caressed each other with their tongues.
Then, hearing some creaking from upstairs, indicating that people were starting to wake up, they hesitantly drew apart, though still in each other's arms. "Do you want some water?"
Hermione nodded, feeling parched from crying and snogging, so Harry summoned a water bottle from his room. Then, as she took a large swig to rehydrate herself, he also summoned his camera.
"Don't you think your parents might want to know what your new boyfriend looks like?" he chuckled. "They'd probably also want to know that they have a granddaughter named Emma Watson Potter on the way too."
"Hey," she laughed, hitting him on the arm before position herself on his lap for the photo.
Then, holding the camera out at arm's-length and aiming it, he thought back on all of the photos he had taken of her, but he couldn't remember once telling her how beautiful she was. Sure it was self-evident that she was beautiful, but he felt that he should at least tell her. "Hey... you're beautiful, you know that?"
"I know," she nodded happily.
"Just making sure," he chuckled. "Ready?"
And just as he hit the shutter, she reached up and gave him a quick kiss on the cheek.