Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc.
Six o'clock was much too early to be up and about, Harry thought to himself as he made his way down the stairs. He had started to wake up earlier after being made Quidditch captain in order to devise new strategies in the relative peace and quiet of the early morn. He found that he truly was able to think better when the Common Room was not crowded and noisy. Unfortunately, it usually took awhile for him to be able to think coherently. Harry was still embarrassed at the time he was sleeping in the shower for almost an hour before being woken up by Ron's frantic shouts. After a few more shower naps, Harry learned that his eyes had to crack open at five in order to be awake at six.
That fact was probably one of the only things that prevented him from calling mandatory four o'clock practices three days a week. Harry rather thought that Oliver Wood's horrific practice schedule was fashioned as a sort of revenge on his Gryffindor teammates. While everyone's skills did improve as Wood had said they would, Harry was willing to bet that Wood called for such early practices partly on the idea that if he had to get up early every single morning, then he was going to spread around the misery. It had taken almost a week of Hermione and Ron's arguments to get Harry to call off the four o'clock practices. He could still hear Hermione now: "Harry, do you really want to wake up at three several times a week?"
In the end, that thought had been too dreadful to contemplate. He aborted his plans for revenge, much to the relief of everyone else on the team.
When he reached the Common Room, Harry was greeted by the sight of Hermione reading. He smiled to himself. No matter how early he managed to get up, Hermione was always able to beat him. It was a most comforting thought. He did not know what he would have done in the beginning if Hermione wasn't there to make sure that his eyes stayed open. Gradually he had become accustomed to his new schedule, but Hermione still kept him company each morning. It wasn't that she didn't know that he could manage on his on now, she had claimed, but rather she had work to do anyway and it was nice to have a little bit of company.
"Good morning, Harry!" Hermione looked up and smiled as she heard him approach.
"Morning, Hermione," he replied, slightly taken aback. It was the same routine they went through every morning, but something was different. Looking around the room, he couldn't figure just exactly what was different. He shook his head and sat down at the table. Pulling out his parchment and books from his bag, he spread out his things to prepare to work.
It was when he tried to read his scribblings from previous days that Harry realized what exactly was different about the room. The room was lit only by candles. What was Hermione thinking! Candlelight was fine for a romantic dinner for two, he supposed, but not for studying. He needed lots of bright light in order to read and concentrate on his work. Besides, reading by candlelight could not be good for the eyes. Seeing no reason not to, Harry decided to call this fact to Hermione's attention.
"Yes, Harry." Hermione looked up from her book.
"Did you notice that you've been reading by candlelight all this time?" he asked.
"Yes, of course," she answered. "Oh, I know that I shouldn't do so that often, but sometimes it's nice when I'm re-reading something to do it by candlelight. It makes things look different, look softer. And I've read this so many times that I thought it was time that I looked at it in a different light." Here she held up her book for Harry to see. It was her favorite, Hogwarts: A History. "I hope you don't mind," she finished, biting her lip.
Harry thought she looked absolutely adorable when she did that.
"Um, no," he said, "I don't mind it at all." Then another thought occurred to him. "You're re-reading Hogwarts: A History? I thought you had work in the mornings."
"I usually do. It's just that today I've nothing especially to do so I thought I'd just read it. Are those strategies top-secret? Do you want me to go?" she asked pensively while furrowing her brow.
That was so cute.
Harry mentally shook himself at that thought. He had no right to think of her like that. He also had no time, as she pulled back her chair as if to get ready to leave. He certainly did not want that.
"Of course not!" He replied more forcefully that he intended, but he couldn't let her leave. "I would never ask you to leave because of that. You know I trust you."
She smiled at his words. "I'm glad."
That smile completely stopped Harry's thoughts. It was gorgeous and he didn't see it often enough. After a minute, Hermione looked down and returned to reading. Harry realized that their conversation had ended and he was supposed to get back to work.
For some reason, he couldn't help but feel slightly disappointed she didn't want to talk more. He hadn't want it to end. Sighing, he went back to his work.
Only Harry found that he was unable to focus on his work, not with Hermione sitting across from him. He found himself admiring the way her eyes lit up when she got to a favorite part, the way she frowned at certain passages, the way she twirled her hair when focusing on a specific point. She had done all of these things before, but somehow in the candlelight, he had finally noticed just how enchanting his old friend was.
Harry resigned himself from getting any work done that morning.
The only thing he wanted to concentrate on was sitting right across from
him at the table.