Title: All This Time

Summary: Hermione and Harry share an intimate moment in the tent following Ron's absence. With Ron's return, however, Harry pushes Hermione away in an effort to save her heartbreak and she is forced to return to Ron. In the months following the war and with Harry's life no longer in danger, Harry is not willing to let Hermione slip through his fingers again. The question is: Can he win her back?

Disclaimer: All publicly recognizable characters, settings, etc. are the property of their respective owners. The author is in no way associated with the owners, creators, or producers of any media franchise. No copyright infringement is intended. No profit is being made from this work.

A/N: Soundtrack—One Republic "All This Time"

As he turned back to look at the tent that was a few yards behind me, Harry smiled. It was lit up only showing Hermione's seated silhouette against the canvas. A familiar quote came to the forefront of Harry's mind in the moment. Dumbledore's voice echoed through his mind.

"Happiness can be found in the darkest of times, if one remembers to turn on the light."

The music sounded from inside the tent. It was a familiar song that Harry remembered listening to while he was back in Little Whinging. Leave it to Hermione to bring back some normalcy to this war. Ron just listened to the droning sound of Dean Thomas' voice as he listed name upon name of the missing or dead that had set Harry's teeth on edge. But Hermione, she had seeked comfort in a Muggle Station and listened to music. He knew she was heartbroken over Ron leaving. He had heard her crying in her sleep when she didn't know he was listening.

Take all the time lost, all the days that I cost
Take what I took and give it back to you

All this time we were waiting for each other
All this time I was waiting for you
We got all these words, can't waste them on another
So I'm straight in a straight line running back to you

Harry pulled back the flap of the tent and watched as Hermione lifted her head. Her eyes were red and swollen from unshed tears. She smiled sadly and watched as he approached her and wordlessly held out his hand. Hermione looked confused for a moment before she let him lift her up into a standing position. She let him remove the Horcrux from around her neck and throw it to the ground beside them. Then Harry began to dance.

I don't know what day it is, I had to check the paper
I don't know the city but it isn't home
You say I'm lucky to love something that loves me
But I'm torn as I could be wherever I roam

It wasn't the smooth, formal dancing that they had attempted at the Yule Ball, but the dance of two teenagers. It was awkward and clumsy and Hermione couldn't help but smile as she allowed herself to join in. Harry swayed her back and forth and even now and again would twirl her around the now dance floor. Then he felt the energy change as he placed his head on Hermione's shoulder and she did the same.

All this time we were waiting for each other
All this time I was waiting for you
Got all these words, can't waste them on another
So I'm straight in a straight line running back to you, yeah

The dance began to slow and he felt her cool breath tickle his neck. This was Hermione. The very Hermione that had chosen to remain with him while the man she loved left them. He realized everything that Hermione had sacrificed for him: her family, her friends, her time. She had always stayed on his side. Defended him as he had defended her. What had started out as an effort to rid Hermione of the disappointment she felt in Ron's abandonment was suddenly beginning to change.

Oh, running back to you
Oh, running back to you
Oh, I would travel so far
I would travel so far
To get back where you are

The music stopped and static took its place. Slowly, Harry moved his head of Hermione's shoulder and just stared into her deep brown eyes. He watched as her eyes dropped to his lips for brief second before they returned to eyes filled with apprehension. He heard her gulp and release a brief sigh and he realized what he had been fighting against all this time. And he knew Hermione had been fighting it too.

There was something more between the two of them then just the friendship they played off. He felt something for her that he had never felt for Cho or Ginny. What he shared with Hermione was easy. They worked off one another well. He shared moments with her that no other person would understand. As soon as he started to think about it, he realized he had known this for a long time. There was a hole in his heart, as if someone had carved out a potion just for her.

Her lips had parted as he watched her and he couldn't contain it any longer. He slowly bent forward and covered her mouth with his. She didn't respond at first but soon Harry could feel her lips moving against his in earnest. She wanted this just as bad as he did. Her hands clutched at his sweater as he moved his own hands to hold her face. She was so perfect, so angelic, that he felt the need to hold her to him to make sure she didn't disappear. When hers reached up and grasped his wrists, holding him there, he knew she wasn't going anytime soon.

Harry backed them up until the back of her knees made contact with the tiny cot that was situated near them. Hermione slowly sat down, pulling him with her until he was soon hovering above her. That was when it hit him that he was really making out with Hermione Granger. Something that had been secretly wanting for as long as he could remember. His hands roamed over her body, slipping underneath the plaid button-up she wore. Her skin felt soft under his rough fingers and when his hand lifted her bra and made contact with her breast, her body arched to his touch. Harry found himself smiling against her lips.

She tugged on his lower lip as her hands began to drift downwards, undoing the belt at his hips and flicking open the button above his fly. Even in the static, he heard the telltale sound of his zipper before her warm hand wrapped around him. Her touches seemed exploratory as she began to pump him with her hand. The speed and grip alternated as she tried to find a rhythm that matched and when Harry groaned and began kissing down her neck, she smiled with satisfaction.

As Harry felt himself nearing the edge, he made quick work of her jeans and slipped his hand underneath and explored her velvet skin. He positioned his hand just so to be able to push a finger inside her while still rubbing the palm of his hand against her nub. Hermione's breath was hot in his hear as her heart hammered within her ribcage. When her breaths became more frantic and hurried, he curled his finger and sent her spiraling into oblivion.

He took a moment to look at her. Hermione's face was flushed and her eyes were lidded. Her plump lip was captured between her two front teeth and she had one hand gripping his collar the other almost painfully grasping his length. "Hermione?" Harry questioned in a gentle whisper.

"Mm hmm?" she answered in a daze.

"You hand," he stated as his gaze dropped between them.

Her eyes opened wide as she followed his gaze, her hand immediately letting go and embarrassment crossing her features. But Harry was having none of that. He kissed all over her face before sitting up on his knees and lifting his sweater and undershirt over his head. He looked on as he face became focused and her hands drifted up his thighs along his happy trail and landed along his abdomen. After tossing the clothing behind him, he leaned down and pressed a kiss against her lips. That's when he felt her hands come off his body and he felt the movement of clothing against his chest. Harry's eyes opened to see Hermione unbuttoning her shirt and shrugging it off before lifting her tank top over her head. When her hands went to the straps of her bra, Harry stopped her.

"Let me," he whispered as his hand gently guided the strap down her shoulder. The other one followed and then he reached behind her and unclasped the material and sent it off the cot. She was beautiful and he couldn't help but kiss her as a rosy blush lit underneath her skin. Skin against skin, they kissed before Hermione's hands were on his jeans with an insistent tug. She helped him awkwardly shimmy out of them before he reached over to her own and pulled them down, revealing the mily skin of her legs. Her long, long legs that had danced in his dreams for years before.

Suddenly, their movement felt lengthened as the notion of what was about to happen washed over them. Could this really be happening? Harry crawled over her and used his elbows to hover of her body. Hermione tongue darted out and licked along her lips- an act of nervousness, for sure, but Harry couldn't help but think the movement was a method to torture him. He brushed her hair away from her face and stared into her eyes. "Are you sure?" he asked.

Hermione paused as her eyes searched his before she finally nodded. "Yes."

With a kiss, Harry reached down and positioned himself at her entrance. He waited a breath before steadying himself and pushing inside her. His eyes were intent on her face, as he watched it contort into pain with each moving inch. As he filled her to the hilt, a tiny tear streamed down her cheek and Harry wiped it away with the pad of his thumb. "We can stop," he offered as he began to pull out. But her hands on his ass stopped him.

"Just... Just give me a second." Harry nodded and gave her the time she needed. Finally, with a breath, she whispered, "Move."

Harry pulled out and entered her again- this time a beat faster. They continued like that, allowing her to get used to his intrusion, until she no longer was ridgid with pain. They continued until Hermione smirked and grabbed the sides of his face and brought his mouth to hers. Then there was nothing stopping his body from moving with unrestrained need. He didn't need to think or analyze. He just had to move. To feel her soft silk enveloping him again and again.

Hermione's leg lifted over his hip as Harry's movements went deeper. He could feel his body preparing for climax and he knew she was getting close, too. As her tongue rolled around his, Harry reached down and rubbed against her bundle of nerves. A quick gasp escaped her as her breathing labored out and she began moving with him. Thrust for thrust they moved together as one. It was getting difficult to tell where she ended and he began. And that's when he knew it.

They were making love.

And it hit him. He was in love with her. And it scared him.

He couldn't hold it together anymore and he exploded inside her, feeling her walls clench around him as she joined him. Harry kept his eyes closed for the longest time, his face lost in the softness of her hair as his realization spread out to every part of him. He couldn't hurt her by being in love with her. She couldn't be in love with him. He was on a dangerous mission and Harry would not be the one to make Hermione feel that kind of heartbreak if something happened to him.

Hermione sighed and snuggled into him contentedly and he let himself enjoy the last few moments he would be privileged to hold her like this. When the moment was up he disentangled himself from her quickly, not meeting her eyes.

But, Hermione knew, as she always did. "Harry please, please don't do this."

He turned and instantly regretted it as he saw the heartbroken look on her face. It was enough to make him second guess her motive to leave. But he knew he had to. "Hermione, I can't—I can't do this… its wrong."

"What's wrong about it?" She asked desperately. "I know you feel the same way I do. You can't honestly look at me and tell me that didn't feel right."

"So many things…" He answered. Hermione opened her mouth to speak again, but he stopped her. "Please just leave it be."

Harry could see her eyes begin to get wet with tears and knew that he had to leave the tent before she took a hold of him. He was going to die. He knew it. He was going to be killed and she was supposed to help. That was it. She couldn't feel this way towards him, be kissing him, doing anything but being his friend.

He knew he had to lie to her. "I just want to be your friend. N-Nothing more."

It hurt to lie to her. She had always been so honest and trusting with him, now more than ever. But he had to lie to protect her from getting hurt. She needed to be happy. Ron could give her that. He could pick up the pieces after Harry left this world. He knew it was a lousy move doing what they did and then him leaving her but he couldn't make her happy. Not like this. He walked quickly to the flap of the tent and outside without looking back.

"Harry please… please…" Hermione called out to him.

Here in the darkness he could gather his thought. Not inside there where she was staring at him with love in her eyes. She had completely through him for a loop tonight. He hadn't expected this to happen. She was in love with Ron, not him. That's how it had always been. He had turned to Ginny because she would let him go. Ginny could handle the fact that he could die and wouldn't go with him. Hermione, on the other hand, would follow him to his death. She would fight that last battle with him by his side. Harry just couldn't have that. If he were to cease to exist, the world must have Hermione. He couldn't imagine a world where she didn't exist.

He heard the telltale sound of Hermione's furious footsteps and she pushed past the tent and strode purposely towards Harry.

She looked at him with fury in her eyes. "Why are you so afraid to love?"

"I just want to protect you." He whispered.

"I don't want to be protected." She answered as she pushed him. "I just want to be with you!"

Hermione stared at him as tears began to fall from her cheeks. He had to be strong. For her. She would thank him one day… when she figured it all out. And she would, of course. But it would be years and years, after the sting of his betrayal began to fade.

Harry let the lie slip between his lips. "Well, I don't. It was a mistake what we did. You're my best friend's girl. I should've stopped it."

Shocked registered her features, followed by hurt. Hermione's eyes watered. "Fine. Have it your way, Harry Potter."

With a turn of her heel, she disappeared behind the tent and Harry allowed a lone tear to fall down his cheek. He was doing the right thing. He knew it. He hoped.