I can't, no matter how much I want to or how hard I try, pinpoint the exact moment I felt in love with her.
It could have been years ago, when I woke up from what, at the time, I thought to be death's eternal sleep only to find myself staring into her face smiling so beautifully that for a moment, no more than the smallest of instances, I actually contemplated the possibility of heaven and me in it. It must have been the drugs – I later found out that the mediwizard on my case had a thing for experimenting with Muggle healing techniques, especially Muggle pain relievers – and healing potions doing the thinking, because right then I could have sworn she was an angel, the most beautiful of them all, sent from above to watch over me.
She was no angel though…
She was hell and pain and anguish and irritation and bossiness and Gryffindor and annoyance and everything I despised all wrapped up into one small, bushy-haired young woman. And I hated her with a passion for it. So as soon as I got my voice back – about a week after first waking up, during which time she stayed by my side day in and day out – I sent her away, yelling and screaming, or whatever passed for screaming with my barely there voice from the time, to never come back again.
So, no, I couldn't have been in love with her then. I hated her; despised her and every damn thing she stood for.
Maybe it was years after that; a year into my own marriage to be exact, when Cassandra and I were still happily in love; or at least as close to being in love as one like me – a heartless, soulless and damaged beyond repair creature of purgatory – could get.
I had not seen heads or tail of her since the day she had left my hospital room a crying mess of tears, curls and ruby-red robes, and then suddenly, out of the blue, there she was at my – our – door, the same mess of curls and robes and tears.
I can't say I remember how we ended up in the library that evening – most likely Cassandra's doing – but I do remember us talking, I mean truly having a conversation, for the first time since – well, ever. And then the evening was drifting away into night as we talked and her tears were drying in fascinating maps of runny makeup. And then Cassandra was asking her to stay for dinner and somehow – I really have no idea how, why, who or even why not – she ended up spending the night in our guest bedroom.
I couldn't sleep that night. Not with her just around the corner all beautiful and young and vulnerable and beautiful and… But I didn't let myself do what my body and lecherous mind wanted me to. I didn't let myself lust for her. So I did the only thing I could think of. I fucked my wife with all the intensity and passion a part of me, the largest part of me, wanted to have and possess a girl I had no right in wanting. And by morning's first light, after a full night of orgasms the likes I never knew it was humanly possible to experience, all of them happening right as my lust took over and the woman under, on top of or next to me stopped being Cassandra and turned into her, I was once more convinced that the only woman for me was the one sleeping on the other side of the bed.
But that was just lust, right? I wasn't in love with her then; I was in lust and nothing more.
So maybe it happened later when I was working with her towards creating the potion to restore her parents' memories. When day after day she would be right there next to me tempting and tormenting with everything that was her: her presence, her voice, her scent... Or when she cried into my chest with every new failure and then again when success finally came. Or when she started her apprenticeship or three years later when I asked her, a newly appointed Potions Mistress, to be my business partner.
Or later still when Cassandra got pregnant and nine months later birthed my heir and it was her, not my wife, I first thought of embracing at the sight of the pink bundle of child with messy black hair and crooked nose.
Who exactly am I trying to fool here?
I might as well have been in love with the swot from the first time I lied eyes on her – intellectually at least – for all the importance she's always had, one way or another, in my life. Because let's face it… Hermione Granger has been everything I needed her to be for every single day of the last nineteen years of our lives. She had been my reminder, my motivation, my strength, my achievements, my friend… my everything…
So, no, I can't pinpoint the exact moment in time I felt in love with her, but I do remember with perfect clarity the moment my brain finally realised what my heart and soul knew without a doubt for ages; I was completely and helplessly in love with Hermione Granger.
And it couldn't have mattered less, because by morning she was gone.
The one-shot might just turn into a two-shot...
I haven't written anything yet on this venture for a second chapter (or whatever this is) so I can't and won't make any promises, but I have this idea of presenting Hermione's point of view also and I might get on it.
Make sure to follow 'Desynchronisation' if you're interested on something like that.