Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

Foreword: Here is a nice, short one-shot to announce that I am currently active in my writing. I hope you enjoy this story. Happy Belated Birthday, Harry.


Who You Reach Your Hand Out For

By Romantic Silence


Only Harry noticed Hermione leaving.

He was standing close, hidden in the crowd that was cheering for their hero – his best mate – as he kissed the wrong girl. No one else saw the hurt that was on her face or the glistening teardrops that rolled down her cheeks. He alone heard the sharp intake of breath as she turned to leave, the tiny whimper as she pushed through the laughing mob.

Only one thought was on his mind: Hermione.

Harry made his escape, knowing that he was needed more than ever – needed more than every witch and wizard that wanted him to defeat Voldemort combined. Why? The answer was simple. Hermione, his best friend, needed him. He didn't care at what capacity she needed him – he just needed to be there. Just for her.

A sea of faces greeted him as he walked by, but he ignored them. They don't need him – not now. He spared a glance at his best mate; he was no longer kissing the wrong girl, just smiling and embracing her.

Hey Harry… about Hermione… she's not that bucktoothed, bushy-haired girl anymore is she?

Ron had asked him that question months ago. A silly grin plastered on his face. Harry had smiled then and agreed, having thought that it was about time that Ron saw what he had known for years already. Hermione had stopped being that plain-looking girl around the Triwizard Tournament. By the Yule Ball, her outer beauty had finally caught up the beauty that was already within.

But Ron chose differently. He chose Lavender. He chose her over Hermione, their best friend. She would have given him the world if he gave her that chance. Ron gave that up. What did Lavender have that made Ron cast aside Hermione? What did she have to offer? Was it friendship? Was it love? Was it undying devotion? Harry knew why. He knew exactly why. But he refused to believe that of Ron. He was better than that… right?

Harry shook his head, wanting to be rid of those thoughts about his male companion.

Hermione.

He hurried along, not wanting to lose track of his best friend. He saw the portrait swing open. Hermione was leaving. He hastened his steps; he did not care for his manners as he rudely tore through wave after wave of teenagers celebrating. Finally, Harry broke through and nothing was going to get in his way now.

"Harry?"

Or so he thought.

Behind him, Ginny was standing there, smiling at him invitingly. She was a picture of beauty; the girl that has been plaguing his heart and causing a small monster to rumble in his chest. Harry was not oblivious. He was aware of his infatuation with Ginny. It was ironic. When he was beginning to become attracted to her, she had already moved on.

"Ginny." He said, staring at her and wondering what to say.

Ginny grinned, making him feel butterflies flutter in his stomach. She took a step forward, inviting him back to the celebration, "What are you doing way out here? Come on, Harry. Let's go back."

Her hand reached out to touch his, but he pulled his hand away. It startled Ginny, freezing her. Harry was just as shocked. He didn't mean to do that, but it felt wrong for Ginny to touch his hand. It felt wrong that it wasn't Hermione reaching for it. Only Hermione should be able to do that. Not Ginny. Not even if he entertained the thought of actually liking her more than a friend should.

"Sorry," Harry apologized, his voice lowering to a gentle whisper, "but Hermione needs me right now. So…"

He could see her visibly stiffen. Her eyebrows creased thoughtfully as a brief look of indignation crossed her features. But that was gone as swift as it arrived, making Harry wonder if he had imagined the whole thing. Ginny met his eyes, smiling at him knowingly.

"Oh, I see."

Harry nodded, suddenly feeling uncomfortable.

"You should go find her then." Ginny said, sighing. "I'll make sure no one comes looking for you two."

He didn't need to be told twice. Harry broke away and raced to the portrait. As he walked down the long corridor that led him to the exit, Harry could hear the sounds of merrymaking beginning to fade. Leaving the common room, Harry no longer heard them. He was now alone in the hallways, hearing nothing but his breathing.

Hermione.

Her name rang out in his head once more, reminding him of his important task. He knew he had to find her, but in a large castle such as Hogwarts, where could she have gone? It was a question that not many would have gotten correct. However, Harry was different. He was her best friend. He knew where she would be. He always did.

Harry found her in an empty classroom.

She was sitting atop one of the desks with small birds were circling in front of her. Her hand was gripping her wand like a conductor would have gripped theirs. The tears have dried, but Harry could spot the redness in her eyes. Her face remained an eerily calm. He hated it.

Hermione's face had a wide range of expressions that showcased her emotions. When she was thoughtful, she would chew on her bottom lip. When she was angry or annoyed, her eyebrows would be knitted together and would be frowning. But when she was happy, her eyes would light up, her lips would curve into a bright smile, and she radiated an infectious glee. That had always been his favorite. But now… she looked dead.

"Harry," she addressed him, having noticed him entering the classroom, "why aren't you at the party?"

He shrugged, moving closer to her.

"I never enjoyed those celebrations. Everyone is always so rowdy. I needed to step out and review a few things."

Hermione lied to him often. She never wanted him to see her like this. She never wanted him to see her hurt. Harry always wondered why Hermione would never let him see her in distress. He wasn't a fool; he had often seen her short of breath, clutching the area where Dolohov's curse passed through in pain. He often asked, but she would say she was fine.

"I wanted to step out too." Harry told her, "Can I join you?"

She didn't say a word but Harry didn't need to hear her say yes. He sat next to her on the desk, staring blankly at the circling birds in front of him. He took her free hand onto his lap, clutching it with both of his own. Gently, Harry began stroking the top of her hand with his thumb – just like the way she often did for him many times before.

"Thank you, Harry."

Harry smiled and squeezed her hand.


Afterword: I tried to change up my writing style a bit. What do you think? Is it better?