A/N I haven't posted anything in the Harry Potter fandom since a couple of one-shots several months ago (Remus/Sirius and Fleur/Ginny, if you happen to be interested), and it was so fun to be able to write Hogwarts again, even if it's just for a brief piece like this! Anyways, to the point- this was written as a request for my girlfriend, Sylvia Griffin3. I may not ship Harry and Hermione that hard, but I'm still relatively happy with how this came out. Just to confirm, the setting is directly after the Yule Ball in GoF, MOVIE VERSION. That's rather important, seeing as in the book!verse, Ron and Hermione's fight took place right after the Ball ended, in the Gryffindor common room. Don't get me wrong, I like the flow of the books a good deal better than that of the movies, but this just worked much more conveniently. And I suppose that's all. Please review! :3
Rated K because I suppose it really is innocent
Disclaimer I don't own Harry Potter or any associated characters, events, etc.
I'm camouflaged by the timeline
I'm camouflaged when the sun shines
Two ships passing in the night
Two lips pressing ground the tides
"Moon" ~ Sia
He found her in the library.
It wasn't entirely unexpected, in all honesty. Obviously, logic suggested that she go to the girls' dormitories, but he knew her better than that—Lavender and Parvati would be back there soon enough, and Hermione wouldn't want to be disturbed by their laughs and gossip about how wonderful of a time they'd had at the Yule Ball. Because she most definitely hadn't had anything near a wonderful time, and that was why he decided now to seek her out. Ron had thought it an awful idea, warning Harry that she'd only reject him, sob about how he was just as bad as the rest, but Harry was inclined to think that such a warning was jealousy speaking more than anything else. Hermione wasn't mad at him, after all—she was mad at Ron, mad at Ron for not asking her to the Ball before Krum did so, and even if Ron himself was blind to such a thing, Harry understood it perfectly well.
So he went against his friend's recommendation, passing only a couple of scattered ghosts on his way to the library. Chances were that wasn't allowed to be wandering the corridors this late, but there was hardly anyone around to reinforce such a rule. Getting into the library wouldn't necessarily be easy, but if she could do it, so could he. Even Madam Pince was probably at the ball, after all—it had far from died down, for most of the students and teachers there, at least. It was oddly calming to be separate from it, though—Harry took a deep breath of the cool air in the hallway, catching a glimpse of a darkly quiet, snow-sheathed courtyard out of one of the high, rounded Gothic windows. Glittering flakes swirled towards the ground, catching the faint moonlight. An empty Hogwarts, while admittedly a bit lonely, was oddly… peaceful.
He forced himself to keep moving, though, past the subtle display of nighttime beauty, towards the heavy wooden doors of the library. It would take effort to open them without creaking—a lot of effort, he thought, eyeing the thick iron hinges. So he didn't try at all, instead going with the quick as possible approach and managing to get himself inside easily enough, though he couldn't hold back a wince as the massive doors banged shut. He waited for ten seconds, twenty—nothing. He had seen Filch and Mrs. Norris at the ball, come to think of it. With any luck, the two of them were too wound up in the noise and energy of it to notice as slight a disturbance as he had just caused.
The library itself was also dark, but not quite as much so as the hallway had been. There were a few lamps drifting lazily through the air, casting a buttery, honey-sweet glow over the tall, dusty bookshelves. It was almost homey—for a very brief moment, he thought he could understand why Hermione loved the place so much.
"Hermione," he called softly, hoping that no one else was in here for some bizarre reason. "Hello?"
Harry took it upon himself to completely ignore her words themselves, instead taking advantage of them and following their sound to where he found her, hidden behind a particularly voluminous bookshelf, knees drawn up to her forehead and arms drawn around her calves. She was shaking silently, though he could still hear a few weak whimpers leaking through.
"Hermione…" He knelt down next to her, not entirely sure what to do. She was still wearing the gorgeous dress that she'd donned at the ball, though her hair was completely disorderly, springing off her head in waves and curls. "Are you… okay?"
"Of course I'm not okay!" she hissed, lifting her head just long enough to meet his gaze. Her face was a wreck, blotchy red and tearstained, her large brown eyes swimming with yet more unshed droplets. Strands of chestnut hair were stuck to her flushed cheeks, dark and wet, and her eyelashes were sticking together slightly. She gave a small hiccup, then shook her head, brushing the stray bits of hair out of her eyes and blinking repeatedly. "I mean—I am, I'm… I'm fine. I just need some time to myself, alright, Harry?"
It didn't cross his mind for one moment that perhaps he really ought to leave her alone. She'd only stress herself out more, work herself into a fix that would take days to get her out of. "No, you don't," he contradicted steadily. "That's the last thing you need. I'm sorry about Ron, but… well… he's a jerk to everyone sometimes, you know that. Nothing to get overly frustrated about."
"I was having a perfect night." She drew in a long, shaky breath that caused her shoulders to tremble, then leaned back, letting the edge of the bookshelf support her head. "An absolutely perfect night, better than I'd dared to imagine it might turn out. Maybe Viktor isn't the best company, but he's nice, he tries. Ron doesn't try. And he didn't try, which is why he was so upset. I'm not stupid, Harry. I know what I saw back there."
"Jealousy," Harry offered, the word oddly foreign in his mouth. It was odd, to imagine such a tension between his two close friends, and yet not entirely impossible to fathom. He'd seen it coming for a while now, if he was to be completely honest, but still.
Hermione nodded in confirmation, then sighed and closed her eyes for a moment, pressing the heel of her hand against her forehead in what was most likely an attempt to soothe a headache. "I just don't want to have to think about all that right now. It's too confusing, you know…? Oh, but this is so stupid. I'm sorry, Harry, you don't have to listen to me ramble."
"It's what I came for," he half-lied. Slowly, tentatively, he reached out, placing a hand on her shoulder and rubbing in a light, comforting gesture. She smiled slightly in response, letting her eyes drift open again and glancing over to fixate her gaze on him.
"It is stupid, though," she insisted. "For goodness' sake, he and I are friends, there's no reason to make that any more complicated right now, you know? We have all matter of time in the future… years and years. We've only just gotten started, really."
"I suppose so."
"You're pretty quiet tonight," she commented, straightening up a bit and leaning forward. To Harry's relief, the tears seemed to have finally stopped, though they still glistened on her cheeks, where they were slowly drying. The lamplight reflected in her eyes, two slim golden crescents cutting through iris and pupil alike. "Did Parvati manage to coach the chatter out of you?"
"I don't chatter," he objected half-playfully. "Besides, she and I… didn't really stick around for long, to be honest. We didn't actually dance for so much as ten minutes."
"Of course you didn't," she scoffed, sounding part disdainful and part fond. "I guess you weren't too happy with your partner, either, then. None of us were…" She trailed off with a light shrug and played with the ends of her hair, rubbing it between her fingers. "Bit of a failure, this whole… Yule Ball thing." She pronounced the name as though it tasted bitter in her mouth. "Nice to know that we'll never be doing this again… unless the Triwizard thing actually gets somewhere, and I somehow doubt that they're going to want to do it again, after the whole… turnout this year."
Harry nodded, deflating slightly as the thought of the Tournament came crashing down on him. He'd somehow been able to hold thoughts of it at bay up till that point, but it returned to him now at full force, the looming horror of the second task, how little he'd done to prepare for it…
"No need to look so gloomy," Hermione murmured, taking hold of the hand that wasn't on her shoulder and giving it a light squeeze. He looked up quickly to see her smiling at him, a small, almost shy but seemingly positive expression. "You'll manage, you always do. That first task was absolutely magnificent, after all."
"I mean it, Harry."
She suddenly reached out, placing two fingers under his chin and tilting it upwards to face hers. For some odd reason, the action sent a few light tingles racing down his neck, but he tried not to let the surprisingly pleasant sensation show. "Really. You are genuinely outstanding."
"Says the girl who effortlessly tops in every class."
"Maybe," she agreed mischievously, "but who am I beyond that? Brains are my only strength; I might as well take proper advantage of them."
"That's not true, though!" Harry exclaimed. "Look at you, you're… you're mature, you're brave, you're one of my best friends…"
She half-smiled, ducking her head so that a lock of hair fell from its position over her ear and hung in her face. "Well, that's… that's very nice of you."
"I'm not just saying that."
An odd sort of expression came across her features just then, and she tilted her head a bit, watching him carefully.
"What?" he asked warily. "Why are you looking at me like that?"
"Oh—no reason, nothing," she stammered, but the strange light didn't leave her features. "I suppose it's just…" Out of nowhere, she leaned forward then, and Harry barely had time to blink before she was pressing her lips to his forehead, right above the lightning scar there—not a kiss, just a touch, a tentative, questioning gesture. He froze, momentarily electrified, and her hands lifted, fingers running through his dark hair. One moved down to the strong muscle where his neck joined with his shoulder, massaging it slowly and sending ripples of pleasure through his whole torso.
"Her—Hermione?" he asked half-nervously. It wasn't an uncomfortable sensation to have her half-hold him like this—quite the opposite, as a matter of fact—but he couldn't help but be a bit confused as to where it might have come from. She sighed, a long, low sound that sent chills down his spine, and then pulled back, getting to her feet and tucking her hair self-consciously behind her ears. His hand slipped from her shoulder, but he kept watching her as she straightened out the sleek dress she'd worn to the ball, examining the folds of the skirt in a rather cursory manner, apparently so as not to meet his eyes.
"I'm sorry," she mumbled hastily. "That was… well… I'm sorry, I didn't mean to… do that."
"It was nice," he protested, then winced at the words—they'd sounded gentler in his head. "I mean… there's… nothing to apologize for."
"Well. That's good." Her voice was still brisk, but she risked a glance at him for a moment, and the glint in her eyes was far from cold. Her teeth toyed with her bottom lip for a second, as though she was on the brink of saying something else, but whatever it might have been was cut off when a massive yawn stretched her jaws. "I'm afraid I'm going to head to bed, though. I'll see you at breakfast tomorrow, then?"
"Thank you, by the way," she added, her tone surprisingly sweet. She hesitated for another long moment, watching him with those deep, soft chocolate brown eyes. It suddenly occurred to him that perhaps she was waiting for a response, which he stuttered out as quickly as he could.
"Yeah… of course, of course. Er… thank you, too. For… everything."
"I didn't do anything. You did, though… you made me feel better… maybe this night isn't a complete waste after all, right?"
"Wouldn't seem so."
She grinned widely at him, her teeth glinting in the low light. The tears on her cheeks had all dried now, leaving her looking rather bright and refreshed. "Goodnight, Harry."
Hermione left quickly after that, but Harry stayed in place, crouched on the floor, thoughts running through his head. It wasn't until nearly a half hour later, when he heard the noise of students heading through the corridors (presumably headed for their dormitories with full stomachs and light spirits), that he finally stood and headed towards the room where his own four-poster bed awaited him.
I believe the world, it spins for you
We will never be, I am the moon
"Moon" ~ Sia