The Art of Love

Summary: Sometimes all you need is a little love. HHr

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of its affiliated characters. That all belongs to J.K. Rowling.

Author's Note: Hey! Thank you for taking the time to read my story. This story begins just after Dumbledore's funeral and will follow through after Voldemort is destroyed. If you, like me, are a die-hard Harry and Hermione shipper, then this story will hopefully be very enjoyable for you. However, if you cannot stand the possibility of Harry being with Hermione, then please feel free to read no further. 'm going to try very hard to incorporate as much of the actual story as much as possible, but I will add some new twists. J This story will stay in the K - T rating, and will be told mostly from Hermione's POV. Enjoy!

Chapter 1 : The Start of Something New

Hermione Granger was leaning her head against her friend Ron Weasley's shoulder, staring narrow eyed and broken hearted at the white marble tomb resting before her. The fear she had been suppressing for the last six years had erupted in full force the day the man lying peacefully in the tomb had fallen off of the astronomy tower, and the tears she didn't know she had locked inside of her had been falling non-stop for the last week. Her thoughts had been centered on her best friend in the whole world, Harry Potter, as they usually were, but now they were filled with more fear and worry then she remembered. From the day Harry and Ron had saved her from the troll in the girls lavatory in their first year, to the moment her and Harry had shared this year when Harry comforted her during her first romantic heartbreak ( which ironically enough had involved Ron), Hermione had subconsciously known she loved Harry. She had tried to convince herself during the course of this school year that Ron was the one she always had feelings for, because it was Ron who always spoke up when boys, such as talked to her, and it was Ron who always teased her and taunted her, and her mother had told her as a little girl that if a boy does things like pull your hair and make fun of you, that means he likes you. So, she had ignored the obvious sign that had been staring her in the face for six years - that she loved The Boy Who Lived, Harry Potter, the greatest friend she had ever had, and gone after the annoying red head who constantly caller her 'mental' and used her to write his essays for Transfiguration. Now, as she leaned against this boy's shoulder, the one who had caused her so much confusion when he started to date Lavender Brown, she began to think about Harry.

When Ron took up his relationship with the big -breasted blonde, Hermione convinced herself she was heart broken and upset. She even made herself cry ; she had brainwashed herself. Then that night happened. She was crying and Harry had come to find her, and he held her hand and let her drench his shirt, and she knew. From that point on Hermione knew she had been foolish. It was then she realized that this boy, the boy with the biggest heart she had ever seen, was the one she couldn't live without. It suddenly all made so much sense to her. She pieced together all the moments her and Harry had shared and discovered a trend; Harry always made her feel better. She smiled to herself as she remembered the first time he pierced her heart with those emerald eyes after she had realized her feelings for him, but that smile faltered as she started to think about the rest of the year. As soon as she had discovered just how strongly she felt for Harry, it seemed that he too decided to go after someone different. Almost immediately, with impeccable timing to break Hermione's heart, Harry started dating Ginny Weasley, Ron's little sister and Hermione's only girlfriend. She started to tear up as she recalled the ache in her chest as Harry would kiss Ginny, or tickle her, or hug her.

Hermione closed her eyes as she then recalled the moment when Hogwarts had become on alert, and everyone in the castle realized the headmaster had been murdered by one of their own professors; Severus Snape. Hermione shuddered as she thought about all of the horrible things Snape had done to Harry, and the hatred Harry felt toward Snape that had become mimicked in Ron and Hermione over the years. She scowled at the fact that Dumbledore's most trusted advisor was the one who betrayed him in the worst way in the end, and she felt the tears roll down her cheeks as she remembered Harry huddled over Dumbledore's lifeless body, tears streaking his cheek and landing on the laughing man's crooked nose, and then the fear bubbled inside of her once again. When Dumbledore was living, Hermione had known Harry felt secure and believed that he could in fact win this war against He Who Must Not Be Named. She mentally slapped herself for calling him that. If Harry could call him Voldemort, she should be able to as well. Hermione's tears spilled over once again as her fear consumed her. She was terrified for Harry. With Dumbledore gone, perhaps Voldemort saw Harry as vulnerable; a now far less motivated target, an easy kill. She removed her head from Ron's shoulder and vowed to herself that should help Harry in any way he needed. She then thought about how strange it was she had been leaning on Ron, then realized it made sense. Ever since Dumbledore died and he broke up with Lavender, claiming she was "too attached," Ron had tried everything in his power to get on Hermione's good side. She wasn't upset that he had dated Lavender, but she had been hurt that he had completely ignored her and acted as if she didn't exist while he was with her. However, all that petty teenage drama had seemed to leave her mind the day Dumbledore died, and her and Ron had now gone back to the way things used to be. Harry was with Ginny at the moment, and Ron had taken it upon himself to be the friend he should have been all along and comfort Hermione during the funeral. Hermione was grateful, but nevertheless wished it was Harry sitting next to her at the moment. With that thought she began to scan the surrounding area, and was surprised to see Ginny standing by Padma and Pavarti, tears streaming down her face. She had a sinking feeling in her gut as she looked around for Harry, and found him sitting by himself by the Black Lake. She turned to Ron and told him she was going to go see if Harry was alright, and he nodded in agreement. She then excused herself and half walked, half ran to Harry. The closer she got, the more nervous she became, for she could see a vicious stream of tear marks etched on his face. She approached him but did not sit, waiting to see if he wanted her there.

"'Mione," he muttered, and quickly tried to wipe the tears away. She sat down at his side, and gently placed a hand on his, silently telling his it was alright. He gave her an empty half smile. " S-sorry. I wasn't expecting anyone. I figured everyone was up there and wouldn't want to leave just yet." He said in a monotone voice, staring blankly at the water. She put a hand on his shoulder.

" I wanted to make sure you were okay." she whispered. He nodded.

"Thanks, I guess. I'm… I'm fine." He stood up and walked a few inches away from her. She sat in the sand, allowing him his distance. " I broke up with Ginny." He said suddenly, and her neck snapped in his direction.

"Oh, Harry I…. I'm sorry." she gently stammered. She had no idea what to say to this. Her fear was now erupting as she contemplated his reasoning behind this decision, and she feared Harry was in fact more vulnerable then before, and was he was pushing people away. Yet, she was also unwillingly excited, because that meant he was available. She shook that thought out of her mind as soon as it entered it, right now her best friend needed her. She stood up and walked to stand behind him, and placed another hand on his shoulder. He did not turn to face her, but she felt him relax slightly at her touch. "Are you sure you're okay?" she pondered.

This time he did turn, and managed to give her an unconvincing smile. " I'll be alright. It hasn't been working out for a while, and I…" he looked at his feet, and then back at Hermione, tears boiling in his eyes. " I need time to finish what Dumbledore started. I can't be with her right now. I just… I can't. She's going to want to know what is going on and I just… I feel I can't confide in her well enough. And a relationship shouldn't be like that, Hermione, I should be able to tell her anything. I need to focus on beating Voldemort. Its what he would have wanted me to do to." he was sobbing by the end. Hermione had captured him up in a soft and gentle hug, and let him cry. She slowly rubbed his back and hugged him tight. Finally his sobbing ceased to a slight whimper, and he pulled away from her. She grabbed his hand.

"Look at the bright side, Harry. If its meant to be, you'll get back together." She couldn't deny the heartache she felt as she said these words, and she felt her own throat tighten as she thought about them possibly getting married. She tried to shake it off, and focused chocolate on emerald, and suddenly felt much calmer. He shrugged.

"Yeah, I s'pose you're right." He stared once again at the lake, evidently lost in thought. She, however, stared at him, looking for a sign as to what it was he was thinking about. He looked at her, and shook his head. "It's hard to believe McGonagall is Headmistress." Hermione smiled.

" I always knew she would when Dumbledore…" she caught herself. The little light in Harry's face faded immediately as she started to say it. She squeezed his hand lightly, and he squeezed back. She relaxed a little and searched his eyes for a new topic. He seemed content on just sitting there, but suddenly pulled away from her.

"I shouldn't be keeping you from everyone like this, Hermione. I'm sure you want to be with your other friends, comforting them right now. I'm just going to bring you down and that's not fair." He had turned his back to her and had started to walk away. She jumped up and caught his hand.

"Harry," she whispered with such intensity he turned around. "When are you going to realize I care more about you then you know?" She felt her heart beat rapidly against her ribcage as these words escaped her mouth. " We're in this together. No matter what. And I want to be here with you, Harry. I want to help." He smiled at her, the first genuine smile he had emitted in about a week. Then he hugged her.

"Thank you." She nodded against his chest and smiled, but soon frowned as he pulled away and picked up a smooth lightly speckled rock and skipped it against the lake. "I'm not coming back, Hermione. I've got to finish what Dumbledore started. I don't… I don't know how long it will take, but I know that if I want to succeed, if I want to have even the slightest chance at defeating Voldemort, I've got to start now. And that means not returning to Hogwarts. I will try and contact you and Ron as often as possible, and will do everything in my power to keep you out of harms way." She stood there, open mouthed.

" Harry James Potter." she said sternly. He looked at her, recalling previous occasions when Hermione had used his whole name, and was now expecting the verbal slashing of the century. He was in for a surprise. " When are you going to get this through your head? We're in this together. You, me, and Ron. I mean, you're brilliant Harry, but you don't really expect to find all of those Horcruxes by yourself, do you? We're not splitting up Harry. That part is out the question." He stared at her. She had said those words with compassion and love, and he had never felt more grateful to have her as a friend than at that moment. He looked her straight in the eyes and asked if she was sure, she responded with, " I've never been more sure of anything." Harry nodded and hugged her once again, feeling hopeful for the first time since finding the Horcrux with Dumbledore. Then, with a sickening feeling, he pulled the locket out of his pocket. Hermione frowned. It had been about four days since Harry hit Ron and Hermione with the devastating news that the locket was fake, and that Dumbledore has risked his life and ultimately died for nothing. She took the locket from Harry's hand, and put it in her dress robe's pocket. "It's alright, Harry. He won't have died in vain. We'll make sure of it."

With that said, Harry and Hermione walked off toward Hogwarts, the stress and worry just now settling in. They had no idea how to do any of this, and they were pressed with time to figure it out.

Author's Note: This chapter was mostly introduction. I hope you liked it! The next chapter will be another slow start, but it'll pick up from there.