In Confidence

Unexpected Reactions

The day after their decisive win over Slytherin in the first Quidditch match of the season, Harry was being hounded by the supporters from both his own house, and a few of the others who shared in Gryffindor's distaste for Slytherin. Breakfast took entirely too long from everyone offering their congratulations as they came by him. In fact, it seemed like the only people that didn't come up and say something were Hermione, Ron, Lavender, and of course everyone from Slytherin house. When Harry finally finished eating, he decided to get away from the crowds. He still had a paper to finish for Professor Slughorn, and based on the weather he saw on the ceiling of the Great Hall, he decided that it was a nice enough day to finish it outside.

He went up to his dormitory and retrieved the necessary items from his trunk. He did not pass the new couple or Hermione in the common room. He wondered a bit on how long Hermione had cried last night. He then made his way down to the lake and picked a tree wide enough to hide his whole body when he sat on the far side of it. He had used this spot more than once to escape the inquisitive and even sometimes judgmental eyes and minds of his classmates. Although today was much more pleasant than the last time he had been here last, when over half the school felt it necessary to show their obnoxious support of Cedric Diggory over himself in the Tri-Wizard Tournament.

The day was a cool one as winter was beginning to show its face. Harry wore jeans and a Mrs. Weasley-knit sweater since there was no class on Sundays. He spent a number of minutes just looking out onto the lake and the Forbidden Forest beyond. It was still early enough that the morning fog held in the air between the trees and across the still surface of the water. It was just the kind of peacefulness he wanted. Harry then pulled out his parchment, a writing surface, and the Prince's old Potions book. As he wrote, he once again found the scribbled notes in the margins to be far more useful and instructive than anything that was written in the book originally.

"I still don't think that you should keep that thing," said a familiar voice over Harry's left shoulder. The surprise made him jump a bit and the word he had been writing now trailed off into a line that cut across the bottom of the page.

"Blimey, Hermione, you startled me," Harry said as he looked up at the source of the voice.

"Sorry," she said quietly, "I was just trying to get out of the castle."

"Its alright. Besides, I'm not hurting anyone by keeping the Prince's book. It will take something drastic for me to give it up," Harry declared. His words fell on deaf ears, however. Hermione was leaning up against the tree, looking out across the water as Harry had done earlier. She wasn't saying anything, and Harry knew precisely why, though he did not make mention of it. He didn't want to scare her off if she was still as upset as she had been last night. Still, he felt as if he should say something.

"Er—anything you want to talk about?" he asked politely.

She sat next to him under the tree but did not immediately respond. It was actually so long before she said anything that Harry almost went back to his work, but she finally spoke.

"I'm upset," she simply stated.

"I had gathered as much," Harry said.

"No. I'm upset about how upset I am," she continued.

"Okay, that may require some explanation," Harry replied.

"I'm upset that I could be so affected by him," she clarified.

"Oh," was all Harry could muster. He wished he could come up with something better at the moment, but there was nothing coming to mind. He had a feeling this was going to be a long conversation, and he was nearly finished with his paper, so he put all of his things back into his bag. Without seeing, Hermione noticed it and took it as a signal to continue talking.

"I just don't understand why I have such a problem with it," she said. "I shouldn't. Ron should be able to kiss anyone he chooses and it shouldn't affect me at all, but it does."

"You fancy him," Harry stated.

"I know I do. I just have no reason to…" she trailed off.

Harry sensed there was a lot more on her mind, so he gave her the opportunity to continue by asking, "No reason to?"

"None," she said with a bit more fierceness than Harry expected. She continued nonetheless, "There is no reason why I should feel anything towards Ronald Weasley. He is rude, lazy, inconsiderate, and dense as the castle walls. He never does his work all on his own, I'm always having to help him or write parts of his papers for him," she began to ramble.

"You've done work for me too, Hermione" Harry pointed out.

"I have, but at least you show some appreciation for my help. And you actually make an effort. Ron just resigns to the notion that I am always going to help him or do the work for him. He is dreadful. At least you have reason to fancy Ginny," she said plainly.

"I- What?" Harry was taken aback at her correct assumption.

"You like Ginny. Don't look so surprised. Its really quite obvious sometimes, Harry. I thought the captain of the Quidditch team was supposed to observe everyone equally in practices, not spend over half the time watching just one Chaser," she said to prove to Harry she knew for sure. A bit in shock as to her observations, he could not manage a reply.

They both sat quietly for a bit. Sometimes they scanned their surroundings, but they mostly looked right at their own two feet. The sun had finally risen fully above the trees and was beginning to warm them up a bit. The fog was beginning to dissipate. Eventually Hermione added, "Its okay, Harry. You have good reason to like her. She's gorgeous, athletic and a talented witch. It is just that," she paused, "She is your best friend's sister after all." She seemed to be done talking for a while after that.

"I can't control that," Harry finally said. "Just as you can't control how you feel about Ron. We don't choose who we have feelings for. We just have them. Its how we let those feelings effect our lives that we have to be weary of," he said, admitting something aloud he had never really thought of before then.

"I know, Harry. But what are we supposed to do? Ginny is with Dean and now Ron has Lavender so wrapped around him he's going to be even more useless than he was before," Hermione said with a sniffle. Harry became aware she was close to crying as hard as she had in the classroom after first spotting Ron and Lavender the night before.

"We just have to keep going," he offered. He was a bit surprised at how easy it was becoming to talk to Hermione about their closely guarded secrets. "That's all we can do."

"That's easy for you to say, you're always dealing with much bigger problems than this. And I'm sitting here about to cry again over a stupid boy. I'm so pathetic…" she began to weep a bit. Harry finally stopped letting his eyes wander around the lake and grounds. He turned and looked right at Hermione.

"No, you're not," Harry declared, speaking right to her as she stifled a sob. "You are amazing," he told Hermione. He really did not like seeing her this upset. He reached out and touched her chin and gently lifted her head so that she would look at him. Her eyes were watering and there was already a tear falling from one. "Listen to me. You are an amazing witch. You're beautiful, talented and positively brilliant. You're the most gifted person with spells I have ever met. I trust you with my life, Hermione. You are my best friend and I love you. I want you to be happy."

Hermione stopped crying as Harry was talking, and now she was looking at him face to face. She couldn't help but see the truth in his words. It was written all over his green eyes that shone brightly in the direct sunshine that now fell on them both. The mist that had surrounded them for a while was now gone entirely. She could see that he meant every word of what he said. And in that precise moment she came to appreciate Harry more than she ever had before. His words cut right through the cloud of insecurity she had wrought around herself all night and morning. Harry's face conveyed truth, strength and love. And it strengthened Hermione more than she ever could have imagined. She felt confident in herself more than she had ever felt her entire life. Harry was still looking right into her eyes. She felt as if nothing else in the world mattered. The only important things were happening right here under this tree, right now.

Before she knew what she was doing, Hermione closed her eyes, leaned over and kissed Harry full on the lips. All the worry, doubt, and insecurity in her washed away the very instant her lips touched his. She was entirely lost in the moment. She instinctively went to touch Harry's face as her lips lingered against his. It was quite a few seconds before she realized Harry wasn't kissing her back. The moment she realized this, everything snapped back into focus. She pulled back, horrified.

"Oh my God!" she said as she saw the positively shocked look on his face, "Harry I'm so sorry!" she exclaimed.

"Its- Its okay," he stammered. She wasn't listening, though. Hermione was mortified at what she had just done.

"I- I have to go," she mumbled as she stood up and turned around. Harry felt guilty. He didn't know what to do when Hermione had thrown herself at him. He froze in place. Even now he still didn't know how to react.

Hermione was already halfway out of earshot when he finally got up and called to her, "Hermione, wait!"

She did not even pause.

That night, Harry went down to the Great Hall for dinner. He sat in his usual spot at the table, but there was a lot more open space on the bench to either side of him tonight. Ron now occupied a spot on the other side of the table, down a dozen spaces, with Lavender. He seemed to not even notice the arrival of his best friend at the table. Harry settled in and began eating, wondering where Hermione could be. The afternoon had certainly been an unexpected one, but he hardly thought it warranted hiding from him entirely. Harry had completed his work in the library earlier on. He had hoped to find Hermione there, as she was known to be there quite often, but she did not show.

As it turns out, Harry wouldn't have been able to reach Hermione even if he had thought to look her up on the Marauder's Map. She lay on her bed up in her dormitory. She had made for the sanctuary the very moment she had left Harry dumbfounded under the tree. She cried for nearly an hour before sleep finally came in to relieve her of her burdens. She had slept all afternoon and evening. She missed dinner entirely, and had to eat the few sweets she had in her bag. It was a sorry excuse for supper, but she didn't dare go down to the common room. The thought of even having to look at Harry right now almost sent her back into a fit of tears.

I've ruined everything, she thought to herself in the darkness. She had no intention of talking to Ron anytime soon, and now things with Harry would never be the same. I can't believe I did that… She was furious with herself. No, she was furious at Ron. Yes, that's it. That's why I kissed Harry, she tried to justify to herself. I kissed him because Ron is off snogging Lavender somewhere. I just wanted to make things even, she concluded.

Even as she finished the false justification, her logical mind saw every flaw in that excuse. Ron was nowhere near them when she did it. She wasn't doing it just for him to see. And admittedly, Ron was the furthest thing from her mind when her lips were on Harry's. It was only them. It was only Harry.

That's ridiculous, though, she tried to tell herself. Harry is my friend. And I know he likes Ginny. There's no reason for him to like me. Then she thought back to everything he had said before she kissed him. He called her beautiful, told her that he trusted his life to her, and had specifically said, "I love you." That was clearly evidence of a stronger bond than any normal friendship, but how was she to know the extent of his feelings for her?

Even if I did know, what difference would it make? We've been friends for years, what has changed to make things any different between us? she asked herself. Just as before, she already knew the answer to her own question. Nothing had changed between her and Ron, and she had feelings for him she couldn't explain as well. Was it such a stretch to consider the same thing had happened with Harry without her even thinking about it? She had to admit to herself in the end that it was not.

A few minutes after accepting that fact, she began to look back at her experiences with Harry over the years they had known each other. He was an exceptional wizard. But even more so, he was an exceptional person. She couldn't even imagine having to endure everything Harry had gone through in his life up to this point. And yet, there he was today, she thought. The moment she needed someone, Harry was there to talk to her, to comfort her. He knew exactly what to say, and she had seen the look in his eyes. He meant it.

The memory of that look in his eyes lingered in her mind for a few moments, and she felt comforted again. She felt confident again. She had kissed Harry, and she had meant to. She had feelings for him she had never thought about before today. And tomorrow, I'm going to find out exactly how he feels about me.

As it so happens, Harry was in his own bed working out those very feelings in his own mind around the same time Hermione was in hers. He had honestly had no idea what to do when Hermione leaned in and kissed him. He had not even considered it a possibility before that afternoon. He felt guilty for chasing her off with his less-than-satisfactory reaction to her advance.

He felt a bit awkward as well. Only the day before, Harry and Ron had caught Ginny snogging Dean in the hallway. He remembered the intense jealousy he felt then and there. He was trying to figure out why he had never felt such a reaction for Hermione. For one thing, Harry thought, I haven't actually seen Hermione kissing anyone. Then he remembered seeing her walk down the steps to the Great Hall for the Yule Ball. He remembered how absolutely stunning she looked and how he saw for the first time just how beautiful she really is. Harry had to admit he would have paid her more mind that night if he hadn't already been thinking about Cho. And that's not even who I ended up going to the ball with… Harry chuckled slightly to himself. Despite that, as far as he could recall, he and Hermione had never really shared anything nearly as personal with each other as today. Secondly, I see and talk to Hermione almost every day. I don't see Ginny as much, that could also affect how I felt when Ron and I saw her in the hallway, he reasoned.

As he began to put serious thought into what his relationship with Hermione really was, his thoughts kept coming right back to the words he spoke to calm Hermione down under the tree. The words had changed something in her mood, immediately casting away her sorrow and opening up something he never knew she had felt. As he reviewed every statement he made to her, he confirmed the truth in them all. He meant every word of it. She was talented, smart and beautiful. She was the best spellcaster he knew. He did trust her with his life. And when he came to the most significant thing he had said, he confirmed it in his mind without hesitation, I do love her. I've just never thought about how much until now…

As he conceded to the notion, he felt an undeniable sense of relief. It was as if he had reached a heightened sense of enlightenment. His next thoughts were of the kiss itself. One moment he was worried she was going to cry in his arms again, the next moment they were connected at the lips. Before he could catch up to the change in emotions, her embarrassment had taken over her. And likely hadn't let go again since, he thought. I wish I hadn't been so slow. He hoped he hadn't ruined everything.

At that moment he wished for another chance. He wanted to kiss Hermione again. He wanted to kiss her properly. He wanted to show her how much he truly meant what he said. He wanted to show her that he truly loves her.

The next morning, Harry woke up with a start. His mind was racing with excitement. He hopped out of bed and put on his school attire, eager for what the day had in store.

"What's got you so jumpy?" Ron asked as he lumbered out of bed a few minutes after Harry.

"Oh, you know…" Harry paused for a moment to consider a believable reason, "I can't wait to see Malfoy in class and see his reaction in person to how we beat Slytherin without him."

"Oh yeah," Ron replied in the middle of a yawn. "I still can't believe he didn't even show."

"Well we'll definitely see him today, and I can't wait to see the look on his face," Harry kept up the ruse.

When Ron was ready, they grabbed their things and headed down to the common room. As Harry had half-expected, Lavender was waiting at the bottom of the stairs. As soon as it was within reach, Ron's hand was grasped eagerly by Lavender's. They stayed connected throughout the walk to the Hall. At the end of the table, Ron made to follow Harry to their usual spot, but was less-than-subtly pulled towards the other side by his new girlfriend. He shot Harry an apologetic look, to which Harry only smiled. He had actually hoped for that.

Hermione was not there yet. There's no way she will skip two meals in a row, Harry thought. Sure enough, about halfway into breakfast, Hermione arrived and sat next to Harry just as the owls came in to deliver the post. Harry tried not to stare at her as she approached. He didn't want to make her feel embarrassed again. I'll have no chance to make up for yesterday if she still thinks its going to be awkward around each other… Harry thought to himself.

To his great surprise, Hermione gave him a hearty "Good morning, Harry," and a big smile. She began to select her breakfast from the spread. Oh no, Harry thought, she's going to pretend as if nothing ever happened… The idea concerned him greatly. If he was ever going to redeem himself, he needed another chance.

"Hermione, about yesterday…" he started as the last few owls dropped their letters and Daily Prophets.

"Not now," she said quickly, without even looking at him.

"But I-" he started.

"Not now," she said a bit more forcefully. Harry let out a defeated sigh and turned back to his meal. He picked around the plate at things, but didn't really eat anything else. His appetite was completely gone.

Hermione noticed his sulky demeanor throughout the rest of breakfast. She waited until someone was walking past them and she quickly leaned over and whispered in his ear, "Don't worry, we will talk about it. This just isn't the place." She then resumed reading the Prophet while she finished her pumpkin juice.

Her message had injected a bit of hope into Harry's dejected mood. They then made for their first class of the day, Defense against the Dark Arts. Snape was not subtle about his displeasure in his house's loss at the hands of Gryffindor over the weekend. He attempted to even things out in the House Cup race by docking Gryffindor students for everything he could since Slytherin's chances at the Quidditch Cup were now all but shot.

Harry's spirits were lifted when they got to Charms, however, as Professor Flitwick had redecorated his room temporarily in Gryffindor garnet. He taught a simple lesson for the day, and most of the group had it mastered halfway through the class period. Lunch passed on without any indication from Hermione that she was ready to talk. Harry guessed that she wanted to get through their classes that day before discussing anything personal, so he decided not to press the issue at all until dinner.

After classes were over, Harry went upstairs and ditched his robes like everyone else did and just wore the rest of his uniform to dinner, with the addition of his invisibility cloak stuffed into his sweater. He learned long ago that he could need it at any time. Unfortunately though for Harry, the meal itself was passing much the same as breakfast had. Whenever Harry turned towards her, she just shook her head. It wasn't time yet, apparently. Harry hadn't given up hope yet, but only because she had said she was going to talk to him about it at some point. Just when Harry began to consider that the some point may not be today, Hermione slid him a folded piece of parchment. He pocketed it, and Hermione got up to leave. As she went, Harry looked right at her face and was surprised to see a coy smile across her lips.

Harry quickly finished his food, eager to see what she wrote. He didn't dare read it out in the open in front of everyone. When he finally escaped the Great Hall, he ducked into the first empty hallway he could find. He reached into his pocket and retrieved the note, fumbling with it in excitement as he tried to unfold it. Once fully opened, the parchment revealed Hermione's impeccable script, saying simply, "Same classroom as Saturday."

Harry made his way through the halls, making a conscious effort not to break into a full sprint. He eventually arrived at the door he desired, but now stopped dead in his tracks. His eagerness and anticipation instantly turned into nerves and indecision. He didn't know what she was going to say. He didn't know what he was going to do. After half a minute, he realized nothing would happen at all unless he opened the door. He mustered his considerable courage and opened the door.

He entered the spare classroom and closed the door quietly behind him. Hermione was there waiting for him, sitting on the steps on the side of the room that led up the unused office. She sat with hands folded across her lap, wand in hand. Once Harry closed the door, she arose. She was still wearing her school uniform with her grey Gryffindor sweater over her button-up shirt and tie with the matching skirt and high socks. It wasn't a new sight for Harry, but as she walked towards him, he couldn't help but look at her in an entirely new light. He admired how pretty she truly was.

When she made it to the other side of the room, she pointed her wand towards the door and said, "Colloportus," locking it. "Harry, could you make sure nobody eavesdrops on us?"

He searched his memory to find the appropriate spell, then paused when he realized which one she meant. "I thought you didn't approve of me using any of the Prince's spells," he said.

"I don't, but it would be useful in case someone walks by this door," she replied.

Harry drew his wand from his robes and confidently said aloud "Muffliato." With a smirk of pride, he turned to Hermione and said, "Done." Then he walked over and leaned up against the wall, facing her as she sat on a desk.

"Good, now…" she started, "I've thought a lot about what happened yesterday…"

Harry could see she was being very careful with what she said. She was focused, and he could tell she had a point to make. He just wasn't sure what it was just yet.

"I realize that I was in a bit of an emotional wreck," she continued. "That does not excuse what I did, though."

"But, Hermione-" Harry started, but she cut him off.

"It doesn't. I thought long and hard last night about my friendship with you, Harry. I enjoy being friends with you very much-"

"-I know, but Hermione you don't have to-" Harry tried to interject.

"And I want you to know how much being friends with you makes me happy," she went on.

"Well I told you yesterday that I want you to be happy, Hermione," Harry said.

"I know you did. And then I kissed you. I didn't know what I was doing then, I just… I don't know what came over me. I think, looking back, I just wanted to express how much I appreciated you as a friend and-"

"Hermione, its okay, I-" Harry tried to explain.

"- I finally realized late last night that there was more to it than that," she finished.

"Wait, what?" Harry asked to make sure he heard correctly.

"Last night, after I cried a few hours out of fear of losing you as a friend and complete embarrassment in general, I began to think," she explained. "I thought about what I did. I thought about what you said. I thought about the look in your eyes when said it. I remembered seeing in your eyes how honest you were being. Finally I remembered the most important thing of all."

"Which was?" Harry asked cautiously.

"I remembered how much I wanted to kiss you then. And when I remembered what that felt like, I realized that I am not sorry that I did it," she said with a smile.

"You're not?" Harry asked, more than a bit surprised. He had expected he would have to bring her back out of her shell to get an opportunity to kiss her again. He was sure her embarrassment was going to be a major obstacle. He wasn't expecting it to not be there at all.

"No, I'm not, Harry. I'm glad I kissed you," she admitted. "You're a great wizard. You've saved us all from more than we ever knew we'd need saving from. You've been through more struggles in your life than I could possibly imagine. And despite that, you've always been there for me when I needed you. You're my best friend too, Harry. I love you. And I want you to be happy too, no matter what that means."

"No matter what?" Harry asked.

"No matter what," she confirmed.

In a single step, he closed the distance between them. He made sure she was looking right into his eyes and said, "Good." Hermione was the one who was shocked this time as Harry came in and gently lifted her chin up to kiss her. Her surprised quickly gave way to desire and pure instinct as she reacted to the feel of his lips on hers. She slid off the desk and stood up to kiss him back, throwing her arms around him completely. He complimented her movement by wrapping his arms around her waist and pulling her up towards him. Their bodies both tingled with excitement at the sudden outpour of emotion. Soon, lips opened up to make way for tongues to explore their counterpart in each others mouth. Their passion was both equal and unyielding. All thoughts and worries left both of their minds.

Only when she was very nearly out of breath did Hermione finally withdraw. She took a deep breath and steadied herself, for only now did she realize she had completely thrown herself into Harry's support. He smiled and let her stand on her own again.

"You weren't expecting that, were you?" he asked.

"No, I honestly was not," she said with her cheeks getting red.

"I thought a lot last night too. And after I went through everything again in my head, all I wanted was another chance to kiss you," Harry told her.

"Well, you did it," she said with a smile. "Now what?"

Harry looked upwards for a moment in faked concentration, and then kissed her again. This time he did not hesitate to separate her lips with his tongue. As she opened them in response and made to rub her tongue against his, he pulled back a bit. He started with the tip of his tongue on the middle of her bottom lip and traced ever so lightly all the way around her mouth. Just as he was about to reach the point where he started, he pulled back once more to leave her waiting. She moaned slightly in longing desire, so Harry obliged and kissed her deeply. She moaned a bit louder and pulled Harry closer against her body. Harry didn't resist and let his body come close to hers. He could feel her chest swell up and he couldn't help but start thinking about her breasts that were now pressing into his chest.

Harry could feel himself starting to get excited and was worried about Hermione feeling it. As he kissed her, he tried to keep his hips back away from her. His focus on that apparently was affecting his kissing, because Hermione took the opportunity to kiss him back more forcefully than she had before. She leaned her head forward and kissed Harry deeply. At the same time, her hands came down to his waist and she pulled him back closer. This time there was no mistake, Harry felt himself press against her. It felt good immediately and Hermione moaned softly again and continued kissing him. This emboldened Harry, and made him even harder. With his confidence growing, he slid his hands down Hermione's sides to her hips. He kissed her with renewed passion and pulled her hips into his as he pressed himself forward. Hermione moaned louder and breathed in sharply.

Harry stopped immediately, concerned he crossed a line. "Uh, I'm sorry," he said softly.

"No, its ok. Just not something I'm used to. It made me a little weak in the knees," Hermione admittedly with now bright red cheeks. She smiled bashfully for a moment and kissed him softly. Then she looked right into Harry's wild green eyes that gave her so much confidence and said, "Keep going."

Harry gladly did as he was told. He looked right into her brown eyes and slowly pressed himself up against her. Her eyes closed in pleasure for a moment, but she kept the eye contact. He drew back and pressed his hips forward again. She opened her mouth and breathed aloud. Harry pulled back and, reacting instinctively this time, bent his knees and pressed against her body from underneath. This time she closed her eyes and moaned louder than she had before. Harry felt her weight shift as her knees weakened again. Without hesitation, he grasped her by the waist and held her up. She stood straight again and looked at him bashfully once again. That cute little smile sent Harry over the edge this time.

He slid his hands off her hips, down over her skirt and around behind her. He bent down slightly and kept sliding his hands right over her butt and down onto her thighs. He picked her up off the floor and sat her up on the desk with her legs on either side of him. She gasped in surprise but did not protest. Looking down, Harry could see her skirt now rested further up her opened legs and out of the way. The sight of the soft, white skin of her thighs above her knee-high socks was exhilarating. With his hands still around her butt, he pulled her forward to the edge of the desk. She put her arms up on Harry's shoulders as he came in and kissed her gently. As their lips met, he pressed himself against her once more. He was more delicate about it this time, as he didn't want to be too rough and make it hurt.

As Harry rubbed himself now right against her underwear, Hermione could feel it better and enjoy it a bit more. She could feel it slide up and down against the smooth fabric of her panties. She closed her eyes and rolled her head back in pleasure and she could feel herself getting wet. She wrapped her legs around him and pulled him closer. Even through the few layers of clothing still between them, she could feel how hard he was, and she knew it was all for her. The thought made her ever more confident, and ever more excited. Eventually couldn't think about anything. It wasn't long before her panties were completely soaked. She let go of Harry's neck and leaned back on the desk, grasping the edges to hold herself steady.

"Harry?" she gasped. He slowed and stopped his movement.

"What is it?" he asked.

"I don't know how to say this any other way, but… I'm excited," she said. She could feel the blood starting to rise in her cheeks.

"I know, I am too," Harry said.

"No, no. I'm excited. Can't you feel it?" she tried to clarify.

"Oh, uh…" Harry stammered. He knew how hard he was and how much he wanted her, but he hadn't felt just how wet she had become through the layers of his clothing. He pulled himself back from under her skirt and now saw the wet spot on his trousers from her that his actions had created. "Oh. Okay," he said, catching on, "What, what do you want to do?"

Hermione loved how flustered the discovery had left him. Here was The Boy Who Lived, a wizard who had faced the Dark Lord and his followers more than once, and now she had him blabbing on because she had gotten wet because of him. She marveled at how empowering it felt.

"I want you," she told him.

"You, want me want me? Now?" he asked.

"Yes," she said, "But not here."

"Well where should we go?" Harry asked, still a little in shock at the forwardness Hermione was showing.

"I have somewhere in mind. Do you have your invisibility cloak? I don't think we should be seen in the hallways this late. Besides, I'm not sure how well I can walk right now. My knees were weakening before you made me wet…" she said.

Now it was Harry's turn to be a little red in the cheeks. "Yes, I have it," he said, taking it out from under his sweater and handing it to her.

"Think you can help me to the seventh floor corridor?" Hermione asked teasingly.

A look of understanding came across Harry's face and Hermione just smiled coyly. His heart was racing so fast, he probably could have carried her all the way around the castle and back, but he simply said, "I think I can handle that." He stepped back and turned Hermione sideways on the desk. He then slid an arm under her back and legs and lifted her up.

"Oh, I didn't mean carry me the whole way there," she said with a laugh.

"Well, you said yourself you don't know how well you can walk. I don't think we should be out in the hallways any longer than we have to be," Harry reasoned playfully. She smiled and wrapped her arms around his neck to hold on to him. After she tossed the cloak over them, Hermione unlocked the door and they made their way out into the hall. It was only a short while before bed time so they didn't have many people to dodge in the hallways. A few flights of stairs later and there they were in front of an empty patch of wall in the corridor of the seventh floor.

With Hermione still securely in his arms, Harry closed his eyes and walked back and forth a few passes in front of the spot while thinking, "I need a place where we can be alone together." When he stopped and opened his eyes again, a brilliant oak door with polished brass accents was just coming into existence in the wall in front of them. Harry looked down at Hermione who was smiling widely back at him. Then he turned the doorknob and carried her into the Room of Requirement.