AN: Hi everyone! In an attempt to get past the writer's block that has prevented me from updating my other stories I have decided to return to my first story and make some corrections. Most things will remain the same, but others will be tweaked. If you are finding this story for the first time then I hope that you enjoy it and see it through to the end. Of course, I still don't own Harry Potter or any affiliated material. With that in mind, take a trip into my AU and experience A Rocky Road.
Stealing the locket from under Dolores Umbridge's nose had seemed like a monumental occasion. Sitting in Hogwarts, as a wizard in his fifth year of magical education, Harry Potter never would have imagined that he would have been able to successfully break into the Ministry of Magic; allegedly one of the most secure places in magical Britain, twice before his scheduled graduation from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. The shadow of a grin started to make its way across Harry's face as he remembered the hope he heard in the voices of those who recognized him during his last mission to the ministry when the polyjuice potion wore off. However, the grin was stopped cold when Harry realized that each trip to the ministry ended up costing him someone very important.
Harry's first unsanctioned trip to the Ministry of Magic was an attempt to rescue Sirius Black, one of the only people Harry could count on for unconditional support, from the clutches of Lord Voldemort. Harry gritted his teeth as he was briefly assaulted by guilt, Sirius died as a result of Harry failing to master the ability required to shield his mind from Voldemort's influence and, consequently, rushing into a trap. Although Harry had since been able to come to terms with the events of that night; he was continually weighed down by the fact that Sirius would never have been drawn into the room with the Veil, if not for a father-like obligation to ensure Harry's well-being after involuntarily condemning Harry to suffer at the hands of the Dursleys, while he spent twelve years in Azkaban.
Harry had moved on from the perpetual feelings of guilt when he realized that, although he was partially responsible, there were other individuals who were at least equally, if not more, guilty. He realized that Sirius had died just the way he would have hoped for, in the unfortunate situation that would result in his death; he went out in a high-stakes duel while protecting Harry from his mad cousin. Harry didn't have time to dwell on what could have happened or to play the blame game. The magical world was at war and, whether he liked it or not, he was destined to be one of the deciding players.
The second trip to the Ministry of Magic cost Harry his first friend, Ron Weasley. Over the course of their journey, Harry, Ron, and Hermione Granger were each exposed to the corrupting power of one of Voldemort's horcruxas as they took turns wearing the vile object. The locket that housed a portion of Voldemort's soul amplified negative emotions and its influence could only be overpowered by strong positive emotions. Harry winced as reflected upon the previous afternoon.
Hermione and Harry were together at the edge of their camp and Hermione was helping Harry perfect the Protego Totalum spell.
"Harry, this should be easy for you. The only difference between this spell and the standard Protego shield is that you have a clear picture of the area that you want to protect and the spells that your shield will potentially be protecting you against. The intent of your spell is of paramount importance; the more spells that you envision your shield protecting you from, the more protection your shield will provide."
"Alright, point your wand towards the sky. The wand movements are: left-swish, right-diagonal down-slash, up-flick, left-diagonal down-slash, up-flick, 180° wrist rotation," Harry pantomimed drawing a house in the air with his wand before nodding to Hermione. "Protego Totalum!"
Pillars of cerulean blue light shot from Harry and Hermione's wands toward the sky over the camp creating a dome. Once the dome was complete the color changed from a cerulean blue to a royal blue and Hermione shrieked in surprise. Harry only just had time to lower his wand before Hermione threw her arms around him in a congratulatory hug. "Harry, you can tell the strength of this spell by how dark the protection dome shines before it fades away. That was amazing!"
"Oi, what the bloody-hell are you two doing," Ron had appeared wearing the horcrux. "You two stick me with this bloody horcrux for hours on end so that you can have a good snog. This is your grand plan, isn't it, Harry? You get Hermione to run away with you by pretending all the while that you have some noble mission to destroy Voldemort. If this is what you've been aiming at then why have we been hiding? Every day, people die and we do nothing to help them. You pretend to want to help people when you really just want to help yourself!"
Hermione had moved away from Harry and was getting closer to Ron. "Ron, it's not like that. We all wear the locket! I was just congratulating Harry on mastering the shield charm. Our campsite is now protected by a royal blue shield…"
"I know what I saw," Ron interrupted. "I saw the look on your face. I saw the way you threw yourself at him. I heard you telling him how 'amazing' it was; you aren't the only one who can put two and two together, Hermione."
"Ron, you are being a bloody git right now," Harry said in a measured voice. "Your eyes are playing tricks on you. Take off the horcrux and you'll realize that you are blowing things way out of proportion."
"Don't try to tell me what to do, Harry," Ron angrily replied. "This is just like you, always trying to pass the blame. How about I do you one better? I'll take off the bloody horcrux then I'll take off, myself. That way this trip can be everything that you and Hermione want it to be. Goodbye, Harry."
Hermione was stunned as she heard the words coming out of Ron's mouth. She saw him taking off the horcrux and throwing it on the ground. She wanted to tell him that he was being ridiculous but she couldn't say anything to prevent him from going because she was frozen. In horror, she watched as Ron made his way beyond the protection spells before disapparating. Once she regained control of her body, she ran like a woman possessed in the direction that Ron had went while screaming his name. Her screams gave way to heavy sobs as she wept for the friend that had abandoned her. Eventually the sun setting on the horizon told Hermione that Ron truly was gone. Defeated, she made her way back to the campsite and disappeared into the tent.
Harry wanted to believe that event had never happened but could not pretend that Ron had not deserted Hermione and him. Ron saw a friendly touch and immediately assumed amorous motives. He refused to listen to reason or hear the truth in Harry and Hermione's words. Ron left.
When Ron left, Hermione, who had been forced to bear the same burden, was overcome with despair but she did not snap in the way that Ron did; her loyalty would never allow her to abandon a friend that she had pledged to help. However, her vision of the perfect future, one in which she, Harry, and Ron could pick up the lives they lead before Voldemort's return once they succeeded in destroying the horcruxes, and Voldemort himself, was shattered. She knew that, although Harry could probably forgive Ron for leaving when they needed him the most, she could never forget that cowardly act of treason.
Gryffindors are supposed to be brave; Harry attempted to live up to the defining characteristic of his house when he approached a frigid Hermione. After she shouted herself hoarse, screaming after Ron, she returned to the tent, not saying a word. Harry knew that he would need to be careful in order to avoid an explosive situation with Hermione. He had seen more than one wizard on the wrong side of her anger and had no inclination to add his name to that list. So, instead of words, he sat next to her on her bed and opened his arms to her.
This was apparently the correct thing to do because, as soon as his arms had opened, Hermione's resolve broke and she launched herself into his arms, burying her face into his chest and sobbing. He closed his arms around her and offered what reassurances he could, thinking how meager they sounded after the situation they just went through. Eventually the sobs grew weaker but Harry continued rubbing her back. A short time later, the body-jerking sobs gave way to even breathing which told Harry that his friend was now asleep. As gently as he could, Harry rested his friend's head down upon her pillow. After lifting her feet onto the bed he gave her the softest kiss he could on the forehead. He was two steps away from the bed when he heard two words: don't go.
Harry was incredulous at the words that had had just come from his closest female friend. As he thought about it, he realized that it was unlikely that anyone could ever usurp Hermione's position in his heart. The horcrux had been rough on everyone; Harry would be devastated if he did something wrong and ended up forcing Hermione away too.
As if reading his mind, Hermione muttered, "After everything that has happened I can't be alone right now. First Ron leaves and now you want to leave me also? Please don't do this to me; my heart can only take so much, Harry."
"Hermione, it isn't like that. I promise. It's just that I've have lost too many people and couldn't stand it if I had to lose you also. If anything would push me over the breaking point then it would be losing you," Harry passionately replied. "You are one of the only things that let me keep my feet on the ground; without you, I would be lost."
"I think that, right now, you need this as much as I do, Harry," said Hermione, finally finding Harry's hand with her own. "You know that I have, and will, always be there for you. Right now, I need you to be there for me. Be my rock; I will always be yours. Stay with me tonight. Make me know that I didn't give up my parents just to be left behind, myself."
Those words broke Harry's resolve. Hermione occupied an incredibly powerful and influential spot in his heart and, with how many times he had been hurt throughout his life, he could not, in good conscience, deny her when such a simple request. "I'll be your rock," Harry said as he climbed into the bed. Hermione snuggled up beside him and he thought he heard a sniffle.
"I couldn't bear the thought of you leaving me also, Harry," Hermione whispered. "Hold me tight, tomorrow we will leave this place. Together, we will make it through this storm."
Morning's light woke Harry first. Being unable to see, Harry was extremely disoriented. An arm draped across his chest and the shapely leg thrown over his own elicited a reaction that thoroughly embarrassed Harry. The pressure caused by Hermione's sleeping form along with the fond memories of the times the two had spent together at Hogwarts did nothing to diminish his tension. He tried to maneuver out of the bed before Hermione awoke and found him in such a state, the prospect of which made Harry blush with embarrassment.
Just a little bit more he thought to himself. Harry had almost completely dislodged himself from the lag that was draped over him only to feel Hermione's hand slide down from its place on his chest and wrap around his most sensitive part.
As soon as her fingers closed down, Hermione's eyes started to flutter open. She gazed deeply and appreciatively into Harry's eyes before turning her attention in a confused manner to what she was holding in her hand. When she realized that she had inadvertently groped Harry, she shrieked while edging as far away from Harry as possible while staying on the bed.
"I am so sorry," the pair exclaimed in unison, both blushing in a way that would have made any member of the Weasley family proud.
"I couldn't help myself," Harry began to explain.
"I was having a dream," Hermione interrupted while trying to justify her actions at the same time.
"I am so embarrassed," Harry declared.
"You have no reason to be, I invited you to sleep in my bed. I wasn't thinking very clearly last night and didn't think of the possible consequences of having a hormonal teenage boy in the same bed as a hormonal teenage girl," Hermione rambled in one breath.
"I don't think I will ever live this down, will I," Harry asked.
"Well, at least I know that you were being serious when you told me last night that you would be my rock. Isn't that right?" Hermione meekly jested while raising her eyebrows and making a show of sneaking a peak towards the lower part of Harry's body.
AN: So that was it, chapter one. Please take a second to leave a comment and tell me anything that you liked, disliked, or are confused about. I assure you that everything is happening for a reason; stay tuned for the next chapter!