Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.
It Could Have Gone That Way
By Romantic Silence
And just like that, both Harry and Hermione have forgotten that they were in the middle of a war. The boy who didn't know whether or not he would live took the girl that never left his side and urged her to dance. The song playing in the backdrop of the tent was unfamiliar, but it was enough for them. He pulled at her arms, moving about clumsily in rhythm to the beat, but she continued to resist. Her face still remained mournful—she still thought of him.
Nevertheless, Harry continued to coax her. He grinned playfully at her, lifting her hands and trying to move them about. Eventually, Hermione gave in; she dropped her mask of depression and smiled for the first time in quite awhile. The two of them laughed, dancing awkwardly and messy. Neither cared, they knew they were not perfect. Harry couldn't help but smile—a true one at that.
For several minutes, the two continued to dance, but then the music began to fade, the lightheartedness of it all also beginning to drift away. The song ended not too long after, leaving Harry and Hermione standing in front of each other. They sought after each other's eyes, communicating with glances and stares instead of words. Something within them started them towards one another—intense feelings erupted inside both.
They were about to kiss.
But Hermione stopped. She had always been someone that knew how to control herself. She wanted to stay true to her heart—to stay true to Ron. She questioned herself though: was she really staying true to her heart by not giving in? Hermione knew she felt something for him—was that love? But he left her, a voice part of her reminded her, he made her choose. And, ultimately, she chose Harry.
Hermione's mind was unclear and she turned away.
"When we were at the wedding," Harry began in a whispered tone, "we turned to one another when the minister said that they were 'bonded for life.' Why did you?"
"Harry, please don't do thi—"
"And even though Ron left us and gave you the choice to leave, you still stayed."
"Harry…" Hermione said weakly, turning back to him, "…please."
"I can't, Hermione. I need to know."
She looked at him with an anxious face, her heartbeat racing. He remained calm, remaining where he stood waiting patiently. In another world, in another time, perhaps Harry would have let it go. He would have let Hermione simply turn away and allowed this brief respite to remain carefree from their problems. But he couldn't, not when it came to her, not when it came to her and the feelings she evoked from him.
Hermione had always been his best friend—the rock he could hold on to when he needed to be anchored. Even when she disagreed with him, she never wavered. Harry could always rely on her. Their dance made him realize how much he loved her, how far he would go to see her smile. Harry wasn't sure if it was love for a woman or if it had been love for a sister, but he wanted to explore it.
He knew he would die. This war they were in had no happy endings for him. No mattered how much Hermione warned him not to think that way, he was sure he was going to die. "I know what will happen to me, Hermione," he said. "And I think you know too."
"Harry, don't say that. You won't die," she pleaded, desperate to not hear what he had to say.
He smiled at her wryly and shook his head gravely. "I will, Hermione. Don't fight it."
She stepped towards him, launching herself onto him. Hermione wrapped her arms around him, holding him tight as if he will disappear if she let go. "I'll go with you, Harry. I'll be there for you."
"I know, Hermione. I know," Harry rubbed her back warmly. "That is why I need you to answer me this: do we have something between us?"
"Yes," she sobbed, "ever since you saved me from the troll."
"You're the only one that has always been here for me and perhaps it's why I feel so strongly for you. Whatever we have, I want to do something about it. I don't know if what I had with Ginny was love. She was nice, safe, and normal. I didn't have to think about the future," he confessed. "I… want to know what love feels like."
Hermione looked up at him and wiped away her tears. She gazed at him resolutely and slowly brought her hands up to cradle his face. "It feels like this…"
And she raised herself up and pulled him towards her. Their lips connected and they kissed. But despite the passion they were currently feeling, the myriad of emotions that was swelling inside them, their intimate embrace was steady and gentle. No matter Harry's mortality, the two of them did not rush. They did not kiss with urgency or reckless fervor. They simply… recognized what they already had.
They broke apart but they did not let go of each other.
"Harry, please don't die."
"I'll try—for you, Hermione."
They were best friends. That was how they defined their relationship. Maybe they could be lovers too, and maybe it was never meant to be in the end. However, on a cold winter night when it felt like it was them versus the world, it was okay. They had each other. They didn't have to take on insurmountable odds alone as long they were together. Feelings that they hid away could be explored carefully and by their own pace.
Best of all, it was by their own choice that Harry and Hermione decided to take that leap of faith. Dumbledore once said in their third year, "Happiness can be found, even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light."