Disclaimer: Not mine. Just working out my frustrations because it's cheaper than therapy.
"You want me to do what, now?"
"And why do you want me to paint her?"
"I told you, to give it to her parents. Which means a plain portrait, no potions in the paints, no moving figures."
"And why are you giving her parents a portrait of Hermione?"
Dean watched as an odd combination of emotions crossed Harry's face. He was blushing, probably embarrassed, but also looking…ashamed? Guilty? And resolved, he was definitely resolved about something. Harry pressed his lips together, then drew a breath to answer—
"Potter! Thomas! Why are you loitering in the halls?" Filch's voice was eager, anticipating the chance to take points from Gryffindor.
Without a word, Harry grabbed Dean's arm and steered him into the nearest available room, which happened to be the library. Harry glanced around at the occupied tables and at Madam Pince, and Dean knew the moment was gone.
"Will you do it? I'll pay you, a proper artist's commission."
Dean relented. "Yeah, I'll do it."
"Thanks. Just make her look as best you can, for her parents, but don't distort it or make it not Hermione."
The librarian was glaring at them as they whispered, so Dean simply nodded and walked off. He found an empty table next to a window with plenty of strong light. He pulled out the Muggle sketchbook that he always carried. No time like the present…
Harry found an unoccupied table, deep in the history section where few students went. He sat down, tossing his satchel on the table. On the whole, he was relieved that Filch had interrupted them. He didn't want to have to think about those horrible hours in the Ministry, or of Hermione crumpled before him and completely unresponsive. If it hadn't been for Neville keeping his head…
He just hoped Dean could produce a good picture of Hermione. He wanted her parents to have it, just in case. Although he fully intended to go after Voldemort alone when the time came, he suspected that both Hermione and Ron would insist on going with him. He'd gotten better at controlling the mental link between himself and Voldemort, but information about the Death Eaters' activities still slipped through. The confrontation was coming. Harry only hoped he could direct it away from Hogwarts, away from his friends.
And if the worst happened, if Hermione died, her parents should have something to remember her by.
And once the portrait was done, he'd worry about what to do for the Weasleys.
Dean's first few sketches were terrible. They were lovely drawings of a girl in classic poses: sitting by a fountain, holding a bouquet of roses, petting a unicorn. And none of them looked at all like Hermione.
He felt a little better about the sketch of her in her Yule Ball gown, taking a few liberties with the neckline to allow for how she'd matured since then. But it still didn't really look like Hermione.
He put the sketchbook away and went to Charms, choosing a seat at his table where he could see Hermione clearly. He caught her eye, smiled and waved. She waved back with the rather sweet, abstracted smile that meant her mind was elsewhere, probably mentally rehearsing the spells Flitwick expected them to perform today.
Dean spent the period paying close attention to Hermione. Her hair was held off her face with an Alice band, not entirely flattering to her. If he were to skip doing her hair in a style that would require Sleekeazy's, then he ought to paint her with something holding her hair back on one side, leaving the other to fall and frame her face.
He had never really noticed her eyes before. They were brown, a nice milk chocolate brown, but when she concentrated he could see hints of gold in the brown. Dean began mentally adding gold trimmings to her periwinkle blue gown from the Yule Ball.
There was the funny way she set her jaw, lifting her cheekbones to not quite scrunch up her eyes. Or how her nose twitched when she disagreed with something but wasn't going to say so. There was the way she beamed with pride when Neville got what she'd been saying and cast a perfect Hover Charm.
Dean had to break off his observation temporarily when Flitwick turned his attention to his group. Dean made his Charms text hover nicely, and Flitwick moved on to Seamus. Dean's view of Hermione was blocked, and he glanced over at Harry instead, trying to visualize what Harry wanted in the portrait.
And Dean was startled by what he saw. Harry was looking in Hermione's direction, but the expression on his face was one Dean remembered from the previous year, when Harry fancied Cho Chang. Only…different, somehow. There was the desire that he'd shown for Cho, but there was something more, a confidence from their close friendship. A trust in her, a depth that went beyond just plain fancying someone.
Dean got another chance to study Hermione that evening. A number of students were in the Gryffindor common room. Harry and Ron were talking with the rest of the Quidditch team at one of the tables. Hermione was curled up in her favourite chair near the fireplace, intent on a book and absently stroking Crookshanks in her lap. Dean settled in another chair, his sketchbook in his hand, and idly began whipping off a few caricatures of Snape while he observed her.
Dean watched as Hermione read, noting the concentration on her face as she dug out every ounce of useful information from whichever textbook it was. Then a shout of laughter erupted from Harry's group and Hermione glanced up. Her smile was vague at first, curious about the joke, and Dean followed her glance briefly.
Harry's face was lit by humour, a grin so uncharacteristic that it was only then, with the contrast staring at him, that Dean realized that Harry had been especially sombre and intense this year. He glanced back at Hermione, and blinked.
Hermione was clearly enjoying Harry's burst of cheer. Her expression was full of tenderness, taking a great amount of pleasure in his pleasure even though she had no part in it. Dean had often seen Hermione fret over Harry or worry about how to help him through whatever his problem of the week was, but this…this was something new. Her eyes shone in a way he'd never seen before, not even at her most excited over a new challenge in classes.
Not stopping to think, Dean began sketching again.
Three weeks later, Dean pulled Harry aside after dinner. "I'm done, if you want to see it."
Harry nodded and followed Dean. He was surprised when Dean stopped in a familiar hallway and paced back and forth three times.
"The Room of Requirement?" Harry looked around curiously as they entered.
Instead of the perfect practice room for Dumbledore's Army, it looked exactly like a well-set-up artist's studio. Brushes were drying in a rack next to a sink. Shelves were lined with tubes of paint in every colour imaginable. Blank canvases of varying size leaned against a wall and props littered the floor.
An easel was set up near a huge window. Dean led Harry around to the painting.
Harry's mouth dropped open.
Hermione looked out at him, curled up in a squashy chair by a fire. She was in her uniform without the robes, white shirt sleeves rolled to the elbow. Her feet were drawn up under her skirt and Crookshanks filled in the space between her knees and the chair's opposite arm. She had an open book cradled against her chest, as if someone had just come and interrupted her reading. Whoever it was, she looked at them with a smile full of caring and expectation, and something more.
Dean grinned as Harry's expression shifted from gobsmacked to gratified. "That work for you, mate?"
Harry nodded, unable to speak for a moment. Finally he got his mouth working again. "Yeah, Dean…it's…it's perfect. Her parents'll love it."
"Great. It needs a few more days to dry and be varnished. In the meantime, here."
Harry frowned, taking the small wrapped package. "What's this?"
"Something for you, just in case you were tempted to keep this after all and not give it to the Grangers."
Harry unwrapped it, gobsmacked again when he lifted the paper from it.
Two miniature portraits were framed together. One was an almost identical pose as the large painting of Hermione, but more in profile so that she looked to the side instead of out. The other showed Harry, his hands propped on the arm of the chair as he leaned down and looked back at Hermione. Harry stared at his own image, at the smile full of warmth and trust and…
He stared at what Dean had seen and painted. At what other people saw when he and Hermione looked at each other. And Harry wondered how he could have been so blind.
"Thanks, Dean. Thank you…" Thank you for showing me what I should have seen a long time ago.
Author's Note: If you feel moved to do so, reviews are nice. Reviews with helpful suggestions, especially in the Brit-picking area, are very nice indeed.