"It's no wonder no one can stand her. She's a nightmare, honestly."
Harry felt someone knocked into him on their way past him. When he turned, he caught a glimpse of Hermione's face and was startled to see that she was in tears. He gave Ron a meaningful look. However, when Ron stubbornly decided to ignore what happened, Harry shook his head and ran after Hermione's disappearing figure. To be honest, he didn't really like her bossy nature either, but it just didn't feel right leaving her in tears like that.
It turned out she had entered the girls' lavatory. Harry shifted uncomfortably outside the door to the bathroom. He had never entered the girl's bathroom before and was pretty sure that Hermione, a stickler for rules, would report him in a heartbeat if he did. Maybe he should return to Ron and the others…But he would feel so guilty if he just left her like this…But what was he supposed to do with a crying girl?
What do girls like? Harry ran back outside. He knew there were some pretty water lilies growing on the edge of Black Lake. He had seen them when they were on the boats to Hogwarts. While most eyes were focused on the castle, Harry's head had swerved in every direction, trying to take in everything and not just the castle. He knelt down at the edge of the water. "Wingardium Leviosa."
A water lily levitated onto his hand, and he ran back to the girls' lavatory. Ignoring the protests from the back of his head that said that Hermione would report him the moment he stepped into the girls' bathroom, he pushed open the door. Following the sounds of sobbing to a stall, he knocked softly on the stall door.
"Go away!" Hermione cried, her trembling voice betraying the fact that she had been crying.
Harry winced. Deciding that he didn't want to be yelled at again, he slid the water lily under the stall door. Then he turned around to leave. However, just before he reached the door, the stall door opened.
"Harry?" came a surprised voice, still trembling.
Harry turned around, expecting Hermione to start berating him on entering the girls' bathroom. However, to his surprise, Hermione just stood there, looking uncertain.
She wasn't looking him in the eye. Her hands were holding the water lily to her chest as though she were afraid that, if she let go of it, it would disappear. Finally, she took a deep breath and said in a shaking voice, "Thank you."
Harry blinked. After a moment of awkward silence, he smiled. "Are you feeling better?"
Hermione finally looked up, and seeing Harry's smile, nodded. "This was really sweet of you. You didn't have to."
Harry shrugged. "I wanted to." Then he pushed open the door and said before he left, "Don't stay in here too long. The Halloween feast is going to start." With that, he went off to join Ron wherever Ron was.
Hermione brushed her fingers on the soft petals, smiling. He's so thoughtful.
It was completely by accident that she stayed in the bathroom for too long. When she lied about the troll, she was lying for both Ron and Harry, but mainly Harry.
Harry probably didn't know it, but Hermione, despite being petrified, can see, feel, hear, smell, and taste everything that went on. And it warmed her heart how much attention he was giving her. Every day, he would replace the flowers on her bedside table – most of the time with water lilies. Every day, he would adjust the pillows and blankets, trying to make her as comfortable as possible. And every day, he would talk to her. Ron would be there sometimes, but not as long, and he didn't talk to her like Harry did.
No. Harry talked to her as though she were actually there and listening to him (which she was), not as a petrified body but a living person. And he would pet her hand, too, as though comforting her.
"I know you like reading, so I'll just read to you some of the interesting things I found in Hogwarts, A History. You probably already read it, but well, it is your favorite book." Harry flipped to a bookmarked page and began to read. "Muggle technology cannot not be used within Hogwarts. There has been a case of a muggleborn teacher entering the castle with a toaster in hand, and the toaster began to spew out pieces of toasts that multiply whenever eaten…"
Hermione could have grinned if she could. Of course Harry would choose such a passage. It was so like him. Maybe she should reconsider her favorite passages and add this one to the list.
Hermione sobbed…All she wanted to do was protect Harry. She didn't expect him to get so angry at her. It's been two days already. Will he ever forgive her? But she supposed it didn't matter whether he did or not, because she didn't regret her actions. She did it to protect him. She wiped at her eyes…she needed to pull herself together and get herself out of this corner of the wall…
Suddenly a box of tissues appeared in front of her.
Looking up, Hermione saw Harry kneeling in front of her. He was holding a box of tissues in his hand, but he was avoiding her eyes. He still seemed angry at her with his lips pressed into a thin line and his eyes burning like green flames.
Hermione swallowed. The fact that he was angry but still tried to comfort her showed how much he cared. She couldn't say sorry, because she wasn't sorry for what she did. But…she took an offered tissue and blew her nose on it.
Harry pulled out his wand and muttered some incantations.
Hermione felt something soft cushioning her back against the wall, and the surrounding air warmed significantly. So Harry knew the cushioning charm and a heat spell, Hermione thought absentmindedly.
"Just in case you decide to stay here for long," he muttered and stood up, leaving the box of tissues next to her.
As he left, Hermione felt a tugging in her heart. His actions just made her love him even more. Even when angry, he still showed that he cared. Through her tears, she smiled. He even left a water lily, freshly picked. It felt like a promise – a promise that he'll get over it.
Hermione was definitely not upset that Harry did not ask her to the Yule Ball. She was not. At all. After all, she had Krum. And he was a perfect gentleman. He was. He really, really was. It was just that he was not Harry. Krum was a gentleman, but he was a bit aloof and a bit cold. Just a bit. Harry was a gentleman, too. Or at least he tried to be – he just didn't always know how to deal with girls. But he was warm and had a nice comforting presence. She liked being around him. And he could be so sweet and thoughtful, too. Hermione sighed internally. Who was she kidding? She was very upset that he didn't ask her. But it was a fact of life…
She glanced over at Harry dancing. He did seem rather uncomfortable and a bit awkward, but overall, he was doing rather well. And in his dress robes, he looked rather dashing. After the dance was over, he seemed wary of dancing again and was whispering something to his date, who nodded and left him for a Beauxbatons boy. Harry himself took a seat next to a sulking Ron.
Hermione left Krum, who said he was going to get them drinks, and walked over to Harry and Ron. Ron seemed particularly moody…"Victor's gone to get drinks. Would you care to join us?" she asked, attempting to cheer her best friends up.
"No, we would not care to join you and 'Victor'," Ron snarled.
Hermione raised an eyebrow. "What's got your wand in a knot?" She glanced at Harry out of the corner of her eye. He was staring at her a bit. Heat rushed to her cheeks.
"He's from Durmstrang! You're fraternizing with the enemy!" Ron growled.
His comment turned her attention away from Harry. "The enemy? Who was it wanting his autograph?" she asked, her voice rising. "Besides, the whole point of this tournament was international magical cooperation. To make friends!"
"He's using you."
"How dare you! I can take care of myself!"
"Doubt it. He's way too old."
"Next time there's a ball pluck up the courage to ask me before someone else does! And not as a last resort!" Hermione screamed and stormed off to the gardens. When she calmed down enough to think, she realized that she had left without a word to Harry, who hadn't managed a single word in during her argument with Ron. But then again… "He would have just sided with Ron anyway…" she muttered angrily to herself. She needed to calm down.
She froze. She slowly turned around, surprised to see Harry standing there, looking nervous. "Harry?" Her heart was thumping so loud that she swore he could have heard it.
He cleared his throat before saying in an unexpectedly smooth voice, "I was hoping to catch you before Krum did. Can I have a dance with you?"
Hermione stared. Then she smiled. At least someone isn't acting like a prick… "Of course, Harry." She reached out for his hand.
"Er…wait, Hermione." Harry reached into his pocket and pulled out a mini-comb decorated with a single blue tinted water lily. He smiled nervously. "Flitwick showed me the sticking charm and helped preserve it. I wanted to ask you to the Yule Ball at first, but I guess I couldn't 'pluck up the courage' to ask you. I'm glad I can still have one dance with you." He reached up and slid the comb into her hair where it was pulled up.
Hermione stayed still as he slid it into place. His words…his actions…it didn't take a genius to pick up the suggestive tones.
Harry swallowed as a slow song could be heard being play from the Great Hall. He laid one hand above Hermione's waist and, with the other, he held her hand. As they danced, Harry said softly, "Sorry I'm not a very good dancer."
Hermione shook her head. "You're fine. You're stepping on neither my feet nor yours." They both laughed quietly at that. Then, taking a bit of a risk, Hermione pressed herself closer to Harry, laying her head on his shoulder. She felt Harry stiffened in surprise before he relaxed.
"Comfortable?" Harry asked.
"Very." Hermione loved where she was. Harry was so warm. She would have been content staying there for the rest of the night.
"I'll win this tournament for you, Hermione."
Hermione turned to him in surprise.
Harry grinned. "I'll win it for you…" He pressed his forehead lightly to hers. His eyes were like melted emeralds. "I swear it, my Queen," he promised tenderly before he leaned forwards slightly to the side to capture Hermione's lips in a chaste kiss.
Hermione saw her world exploding in bright lights. She closed her eyes. This was Harry. This was the person she was in love with. She wrapped her arms around his neck. His scent…his soft hair…his slightly chapped lips…
When they pulled away, Hermione asked, eyes shining, "Would my Knight be so kind as to escort his Queen back to her quarters?"
"It would be my pleasure."
"That evil toad…" Hermione snarled as she prepared another solution of Murtlap Essence.
Harry closed his eyes tiredly. With his O.W.L.'s coming up, Umbridge's detentions, and Quidditch, he hadn't been able to get a good night's sleep for a long time. Not to mention, stress was piling up from the threat of Voldemort…people against him left and right…Sometimes, he thought the only reason he's surviving fifth year was due to Hermione. She was wonderful.
Harry again soaked his hand in the potion. "Thanks."
Hermione frowned as she watched Harry looking as though he were about to fall asleep. She wished she could do more for him. Anything. But this year, it was difficult finding time to themselves. It was Voldemort, Umbridge, Order of the Phoenix, ministry hag, Dumbledore's Army, inhuman toad, OWL's, Hogwarts official torturer, etc.
Harry felt the bed shift as Hermione climbed onto it behind him. When he felt her hands on his shoulders, he stiffened.
Harry nodded. It wasn't hard to when her hands were so skillfully kneading the knots out of his muscles like that. He inadvertently let out a moan. Then just realizing what he did, his face turned red. It was a good thing Hermione was behind him or else, he would have seen the smirk that made its way to her face. "Thanks, Hermione."
Hermione smiled. Harry was actually so easy to please. It's just no one was willing to even do that for him. As she knelt there massaging his shoulders, a glance at his face was the most beautiful sight in the world. He looked so peaceful.
Finally, after her fingers became sore and she had to stop her movements, Harry took his hand out of the bowl and began cleaning the potion off. However, she stopped him, laying her hand on his wrist. He looked quizzically at her.
Hermione smiled. "Let me." She got off the bed, knelt down in front of him, and took his hand and the wet cloth he was holding. She began to clean the potion ever so gently off his hand.
"Hermione, you don't have to…"
"Just sit there and relax, Harry."
And he obeyed.
After there was no trace of potion left, Hermione placed the cloth on the table. She brushed her lips over the words etched onto his hand. I must not tell lies. She kissed each word and felt Harry shiver above her. She grinned. "Does it feel better, Harry?"
She looked up and saw Harry staring at her with an unreadable expression on his face. The next thing she knew, Harry bent over and kissed her hair. She closed her eyes. She wished they could be in this position forever.
"I don't love you."
Hermione stared in shock. Then her heart began to ache. Somewhere deep inside, she knew Harry was lying, but still, it hurt. Those words…she was always afraid of them coming out of Harry's mouth. But she never thought it would happen. And his eyes were so cold, too…as if he actually meant it. But he didn't really mean it, did he?
Harry glared at her. "I hate you. I told you to watch Malfoy, but then what happened? He led an entire army of Death Eaters into Hogwarts! And Dumbledore's dead because of you!"
Hermione blinked away tears. "Harry…"
"I don't give two pence what you have to say, Granger. Just leave!" He turned his back to her.
She stared at him in shock. "I'm sorry, Harry!" With that, she ran away…so reminiscent of first year. This time though, it wasn't Ron whose words hurt her. Harry had never called her by her last name before.
Harry watched her leave. And smiled. Despite the single tear that rolled down his cheek. She was the best thing that ever happened to him. But he couldn't chase after her this time – not like first year. His heart ached. But he was happy. She would be safe. She was smart. She'll be safe – much safer than if she went with him at any rate. "I'll win this battle for you. I swear it…my Queen." He looked down at the water lily in his hand. Still…she was hurt. He never wanted to hurt her…but anything else, and she would be her stubborn self. Harry had never left Hermione hurt without giving some comfort. And he wasn't going to start now. He charmed the water lily after her. And Apparated.
Hermione would only later understand that when he said "I hate you," he meant I love you…with all my heart, with all my soul, with all my being – more than my own happiness, I love you.
Hermione glared at Voldemort. Of course, while Harry had hoped she wouldn't get involved in the war, she got involved anyway. She was too loyal to Harry, even after what he said to her. They had been through too much together. And eventually, she was captured.
Voldemort smiled nastily. "He should be coming any moment to rescue you."
At that, Hermione did the boldest move anyone could make in her situation. She spat into Voldemort's face, her eyes defiant.
Voldemort blinked, as though in surprise, before he slowly raised his hand to his face to wipe the spittle away.
"You filthy Mudblood! She dares! Oh, I will find great pleasure in punishing you!" Bellatrix screeched.
Voldemort raised his hand, silencing her. "Not yet. I will first find pleasure in seeing her eyes when her dear Harry lies dead beneath my wand."
"Harry would never come to you," Hermione snarled. "You will never defeat him. Not even in a million years! Not with a million Horcruxes!" Even as she said that, a part of her died inside, remembering Harry's last words to her.
Voldemort chuckled. "We'll see."
As the time limit approached, Voldemort frowned. "Perhaps I overestimated his chivalry."
Hermione internally smiled. Part of her was glad that Harry was safe. However, another part of her nagged nastily Because he doesn't really care about you. Hermione quickly pushed the latter thoughts out of her mind. Even if she died today, Harry would still be alive. And he would defeat Voldemort. And he would be happy without her. Oh…how much her heart ached.
"I suppose we don't need the Mudblood anymore," Voldemort hissed.
Hermione trembled, shutting her eyes and readying herself for the pain.
Hermione looked up to see a single water lily float down from the sky onto her lap. Without even thinking, she rose up, screaming, "NO!"
Harry was standing there in front of Voldemort, not meeting her eyes. "I'm here."
"Harry, what are you doing?" Hermione cried, tears threatening to fall. No…no…no…
Hermione felt her voice gone, but she was still begging Harry with her eyes. Please, please, please run…
Harry finally turned to look at her. And smiled. His eyes shone. I'm sorry, my Queen. I couldn't win the war for you. But at least I'm saving your life. And they were his last words to her before Hermione saw a green light took away his life.
When his body collapsed onto the forest floor, Hermione felt a sharp pain in her chest – her heart was tearing away inside her. Harry…Harry…HARRY! He loved her. He loved her.
"Are you feeling better?"
"Don't stay in here too long. The Halloween feast is going to start."
"I'll just read to you some of the interesting things I found in Hogwarts, A History. You probably already read it, but well, it is your favorite book."
"Just in case you decide to stay here for long,"
"I'll win this tournament for you, Hermione."
"I hate you."
I love you.
Tears ran down her cheeks. She wanted to scream. She wanted to die. Why didn't he just let her die? How selfish can he be? Had he been alive, she would have hit him, scream at him…But instead, as it was, Hermione simply stood there, her eyes on Harry's body, shocked. Harry had died. Just like that.
As the Death Eaters led her back to Hogwarts, defiling and making a mockery of Harry's body, which was swung around in the air like a ragdoll, Hermione only felt numbness as one thought pervaded her consciousness – she must survive this war. Harry's sacrifice would not be in vain. My heart will survive for you.
"You prat…" Hermione muttered, her face buried in the crook of his neck. Despite her words though, she would not trade this moment for anything else in the world. His arms wrapped around her, holding her to him. She felt safe, assured…
"I know. I'm sorry. I couldn't just reveal myself alive right there and then though, you know…" Harry took her hand and pressed something into it.
Hermione smiled. Her eyes were closed, but she knew what it was. She could feel the soft petals. It was the symbol of his love for her, the promise of his fidelity, the sign that he'll always be there, even if it's in an unconventional way, even if it's only in spirit…She felt him shift.
Harry got down on one knee, took her hand, and kissed it. "Hermione, will you marry me?" With his other hand, he pulled out a ring – a simple gold band with a tiny flower etched on the inner side.
"A million times, yes."
Hermione brushed her fingers over the tombstone. Her wrinkled skin contrasted sharply with the smooth surface. She smiled. On the tombstone, there was a carving of a water lily. She remembered why he wanted it there.
"I'm yours, Hermione. Even in death."
"I'll be joining you soon, Harry."