Disclaimer – I'm not the almighty J.K. Rowling (all hail the almighty J.K. Rowling) and I don't own any of the stuff she gets paid royalties for. If I were her I'd have written a better epilogue, one where all the best people don't die. And also one where Hermione would never end up married to Ron. Honestly?
Author's Note – This is very EWE. It's probably compliant through Deathly Hallows, though with only a little likelihood of any spoiler mention. But I warn, just in case.
"Recovery from blindness is the phenomenon of a blind person gaining the ability to see, usually as a result of medical treatment. As a thought experiment, the phenomenon is usually referred to as Molyneux's Problem." – Wikipedia - .org/wiki/Recovery_from_blindness
She has been many things to me over the years: student, irritant, fellow soldier, responsibility, apprentice, challenge, and, most recently, friend. I fought that last one, insisting I had no need for such a thing, mostly afraid of what it would mean to allow anyone close enough to me to call "friend". But the damned chit had already wormed her way into my life so insidiously that severing the bond was impossible without doing permanent damage to both of us. In the end it was easier to roll my eyes and sarcastically agree that we were friends. I've found l enjoy being her friend. It is exactly the kind of friendship I had hoped for when I began attending Hogwarts and, for reasons both within and outside of my control, never attained. It never even crossed my mind to want anything more from her, so comfortable am I being quietly nestled into a corner of her life and knowing that she values me as I value her.
And so it would have remained, I imagine, had it not been for what I accidentally saw one day which changed my perception of her forever.
Our typical interaction involved either experimental brewing at my home laboratory (usually confined to weekends when one had less pressing demands upon their time), brief trips to legendary libraries (also confined to weekends for though it was possible to travel to Alexandria and back in one day, one's employer often took offense at such non-work-related activities being conducted on company time), or, most often, quiet afternoons reading in front of her fire with full permission to interrupt one's companion to share whatever intriguing/absurd/shocking item had most recently caught your attention in the paper/journal/book you were currently reading. She once confessed to me during one of those lazy Sunday afternoons that when she was in school she craved our kind of friendship, where you could sit in comfortable silence for hours on end. Instead, she said with a self-depreciating laugh, she ended up with two boys who didn't know the meaning of "curling up with a good book". It warmed my heart to know I've met a need of hers, as she has met so many of mine.
The day that changed it all was a new experience for our friendship. We were meeting for coffee in muggle London and then going to attend a lecture at Tate Britain. We had only recently discovered a similar interest in art and so agreed to this outing as a way of broadening our horizons (her words, not mine). I was sitting at an outdoor table, having purchased both our preferred beverages (and feeling quite proud for knowing what she would enjoy without having to be told), watching the crowds flow around me.
I spotted her walking down the sidewalk, no doubt coming from the tube (honestly, woman, are you or are you not a witch?). I was anticipating her arrival, her inevitable delight in my choosing the right coffee blend, and the intellectual discussion ahead of us at the museum when, before my eyes, a gust of wind blew down the street snatching papers off of tables, twirling women's hair into blinding clouds of disarray, and twisting clothing into all manner of impedimenta. It also lifted her skirt farther above her knees than I had ever witnessed and displayed for me something I've never seen before and couldn't identify, but which was so visually delicious that it shot a bolt of heat straight to my groin with an interest I've not felt in many years, an interest which I've certainly never felt for this friend, this ex-student of mine.
It's not that I'm unaware of her being a woman. It's just that for once I've found a friend who values me for me, and not what they can get from me. It's so satisfying; I've not seen a reason to change the nature of our relationship.
My eyes were trained on her as she continued toward me, hands trying desperately to return her skirt to its rightful location, wildly blowing hair blinding her. I was willing the wind to gust again and give me another tantalizing glimpse of her legs so I might determine just what it was I had seen. Clearly she was wearing muggle clothing suitable for our afternoon in London. Her skirt fell below her knees and her shoes, though attractive, were not outrageous and were constructed with a low, sensible heel. A short, belted jacket concealed the rest of her outfit. She looked nice, not flashy or attention-seeking, just simple, appropriate, feminine.
My wishes were granted before she reached the corner when, in a moment of inattention, the wind swirled her skirt around her again giving me just a peek of black lace tightly gripping creamy white thighs. Limited as my intimate experience with women's feminine items is I possessed no ability to identify the visual delight before my eyes. My crotch tightened even further and I stood quickly, hands in pockets, trying to adjust my arousal before she reached me and could realize what I was doing. I could feel my cheeks growing red in mortification as I mentally blasted myself for responding like a randy teenager. So focused was I on my body's traitorous behavior that I didn't realize she had reached me until a warm body pressed to my side as she greeted me with her familiar words and embrace. Her touch incited such further constriction in my trousers I imagined the whole street could see my predicament.
I blindly pushed her cup into her hands, refusing to make eye contact, and withdrew with a mumbled excuse about having consumed too much liquid that morning. I could feel her curious eyes upon me as I slid into the shop and retreated to the lavatory to regain control over my libido. The unfamiliar emotion I was experiencing in ever increasing volume was making my head pound as hard as my heart was. At what point had I become attracted to and fallen in love with my friend Hermione Granger? And why hadn't I realized it before now?
This story is complete (or will be once I finish wrestling with the final chapter and get it beaten into submission). I'll be posting chapters (5 total) at regular intervals over the next few days. Wanna let me know what you thought of it?