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The Path in the Woods

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The rain was cold, grey, miserable and never-ending. Autumn rain usually was. It splattered on the tent roof at scattered intervals, whenever it was released from the branches above. It gathered in puddles near the sides of the clearing, although not around the tent. Hermione had learned camping from her parents, and knew how to pick a site on a slight rise, especially when rain threatened.

The thought of her parents, now comfortably settled into a new home somewhere in Australia, started the tears again. Hermione thought she had run out of tears, that her tear ducts had closed down from exhaustion after spending the last hour sobbing silently at the entrance to the tent. She had no intention of going out into the rain, and thanked whichever deity oversaw such things that Harry slept soundly. Besides, the pattering on the roof was covering most of the noise.

Not enough, it seemed. A moment later, a large, almost-clean handkerchief appeared under her nose.

"Thanks, Harry." She took it and blew her nose hard, then wiped her eyes. She felt rather than saw Harry sit down beside her, the pair of them looking out on the endless rain.

"Ron?"

"No." Hermione sniffled a little more, then looked at the handkerchief. "I'll wash it, I promise."

Harry started to wave the offer off, before relenting and nodding. "I don't have many left. Thanks."

They sat there a while longer, the light fading quickly as it does in Scotland in early November.

"Not a bad place." Harry looked around at the trees, some of which were huge. "How did you know about it?"

"My parents always planned to come here. It's said that the last part of Birnam Wood lies within the Tay Forest. And I knew it would be safe." At this, Hermione grinned.

"Safe how? It looks like any other forest. Bit colder, perhaps, but trees…" Harry noticed how tall the firs were, and how quiet the entire forest was in the rain. Or perhaps it was the rain itself that absorbed the noise.

"My mum usually booked the campsites, did all the organising, managed the itinerary. But this one time we were supposed to be camping with my aunt and uncle. Uncle Bernard insisted on making the arrangements." She shook her head at the memory. "So we all met up at the new Stirling Services place. I was about seven, and my uncle and aunt had only been married a year, so this was her first time camping. Then we drove up past Perth, past Blair Athol – and it started snowing. It was freezing! The snow was covering the road. Dad and Uncle Bernard got petrol – I remember Mum bought me a Penguin biscuit with the green wrapper and I got upset because I wanted a red one and they didn't have any."

"How late in the year was that?" Harry shivered, and shuffled up beside Hermione to put his arm around her.

"About now. I think we were supposed to be there for Guy Fawkes night. Then Dad and Uncle Bernard got into an argument about the road, and Uncle Bernard insisted that we had to get there before dark to set up. It was supposed to take us less than an hour to get there, but it took nearly two because we kept sliding all over the road. And then we got to the gate, and it was locked." She snuggled closer to Harry, her laughter overrunning the tears. "The camping area is closed from mid-October, and Uncle Bernard hadn't checked. Mum was furious, Dad had to try and turn the car around, with the trailer on it, without going into the ditch, and then we just drove away. Left Aunt Julia yelling at Bernard while the snow fell down. He never did manage to keep his marriages for long."

They both cracked up at this, and Harry looked around their campsite with new eyes. "So the place is closed now?"

"Definitely. And we're not at the main camping ground, so it's very unlikely anyone would come near here." Hermione pointed to where a large hill was just visible over the trees. "There's a village at the bottom of that hill. We can get some food there later if we want."

"You remembered an awful lot from when you were seven."

"Or eight. Something like that." Hermione picked at a loose thread in her jumper. There was a hole forming on the elbow, and she was too tired to mend it.

"So what did your parents do? Surely they didn't drive all the way back to London in the dark and snow?" asked Harry.

"No, not likely. We had been driving all day," said Hermione. "No, we drove part way back to a town – Dunkeel, Dunkirk – something like that. They had an old pub with gorgeous rooms, home-made sausages for breakfast, and the next night, there was a huge bonfire and fireworks for Guy Fawkes. We stayed three days and then drove home, and Dad had to promise that they would always check the details beforehand, even if someone else said they had."

They sat silently for a while, then Hermione stirred.

"Harry, I owe you an apology."

"Whatever for?"

She took his hand, but looked away across the campsite. "I had no idea what it was like. Losing your parents."

"Oh." He scratched his head, but still held to her with his other hand. "I mean, I don't remember the actual losing. Not really. "

"No, but they were gone." Her tears started again, silently slipping down her face. "You never had them there when you needed them. You couldn't ask your mum to bandage your finger, or have Dad telling the worst jokes to stop you feeling blue. I am so sorry, Harry."

Harry dropped her hand and put both his arms around her. "You haven't really lost yours, you know. You'll get them back after the War is over."

"But what if I don't?" Hermione started sobbing. "What if their memories are gone forever, and they stay in Australia and don't remember they have a dau…" She managed that far before breaking down completely and bawling on Harry's shoulder. He wrapped his arms around her hard, and patted her head as her tears soaked his jumper.

It took her quite a while to cry out completely, but finally she scrabbled for the handkerchief and wiped the tears from her own cheeks. There was nothing to be done about Harry's jumper, though. The shoulder was sodden.

"Oh crumbs, Harry. I didn't mean … I should have…"

He put one finger on her lips. "Shhhh." Then he pointed out into the clearing. As she had been crying, the rain had slipped completely past sleet and become snow, with huge flakes coming down between the trees to try and settle on the ground. There was too much water for it to stay, but it wouldn't take long before the entire area was covered in snow.

Hermione gasped at the beauty of it all, and turned back to Harry, who laughed. She had a snowflake on her nose.

"What?"

"Hold on. Close your eyes." He leaned forward to blow it off, but then hesitated, and leaned a bit closer. His lips touched hers and stayed there a moment.

Pulling back slightly, Harry looked at Hermione, hoping he hadn't made her feel worse, but she was still there, her eyes closed and her lips slightly open. Then she leaned towards him, and kissed him hard.

Their lips slid slightly, then found the right place to be. It started as long, gentle soft-mouthed kisses, then Hermione opened her lips a little more and ran her tongue over Harry's lips, tracing them from the top to the bottom and back again. The sensation took Harry's breath away, and he felt as if there was some sort of tingling light following the touch of her tongue. Bringing his hand up to cup her cheek, he kissed back, first her top lip, then the bottom one. His breathing was getting fast, and he could no longer feel the cold.

Hermione slipped her hand around the back of his head, and cupped his neck as she sought the delight and the joy in his lips. She was just starting to feel as if the pain and heartbreak had receded when a sharp gust of wind blew past her wards and into the front of the tent, sending shivers up her back. The two separated, and Hermione looked at Harry with a horrified expression.

"What have we done?"

Harry stroked his hand down Hermione's face. "We haven't done anything wrong."

"If we haven't," she replied, "why do I feel so bad about this?"

"Because, despite Ron being an arse, you still care for him." Harry used his thumb to wipe another tear from her eye. "He doesn't deserve you, but you don't want to hurt him."

"When did you get to be so wise all of a sudden?" Hermione smiled through the tears. "But it's not quite like that."

"What is it then?"

"I don't know. I'm going to have to think about it." She stood up, and started casting a further ward around the entrance to the tent. "But I'm exhausted, Harry. Can you take the watch for a while? I need to get some sleep."

"I don't know if I can for long. I'm pretty tired myself."

"Then I think, in this weather, we can let the wards look out for us. They'll let us know if anyone's near." Hermione threw one last charm at the branches in front of the tent, then retreated to her sleeping area. "Wake me for breakfast."

Harry sat at the front for a while longer, the swirling snow giving him a chance to unwind. It didn't work, though. He was pretty sure it would take an icy cold bath to make him lose the erection he was now sporting, and images of Hermione naked and wrapped around him started running through his head until he threw up his hands in disgust and headed for bed himself.

An hour later, there was a noise at the entrance to his sleeping area. The timing was terrible, though – Harry had just given in to temptation and a need for sleep, and wrapped his hand around his throbbing and needy penis. He stayed huddled under the covers, peering out into the darkness.

"Hermione?"

"I can't sleep. May I come in?"

"Um … ok." He let go of the firmness, praying it would go down and not be obvious under the rumpled blankets. "What's wrong?"

"I've been thinking." Hermione came in and suddenly, before Harry could stop her, lifted the blankets and slipped in beside him. It was too dark for her to see anything, but Harry wriggled away from her so that she wouldn't get poked.

"What is it?"

"Harry, you're not going to like this." She paused, and Harry held his own breath, wondering what could be so bad. "I've been thinking about Ron. About Ron and me."

"Oh?"

Hermione turned on her side so she could see Harry's face a little better, although in this light that was not saying much. "I don't think … I don't love him, Harry."

"What?"

"I've been close to him, and you, for so long." She reached over and moved the lock of dark hair from Harry's forehead to back away from his face. "I've loved you both, dearly, as friends, for a very long time. And then I thought I was in love with Ron. But when he was such an ass with Lavender, and then all the times he's sulked at me about Viktor, or complained about things I've done for him…" She took a deep breath. "I realised I'm not in love with him at all. Or any more. But he's also managed to destroy the friendship."

"The locket…"

"Just exacerbated things." Hermione sighed. "Which is why it works so well at getting to people. He hadn't wanted to stay, not from the beginning. And if he does come back, it'll only be because his family shamed him into it."

Harry said nothing, the truth of her observations hitting hard. The silence stretched on, broken only by the whispers of the snow on the roof of the tent. Finally one large patch of snow slid off to land outside with a thud, and Harry stirred.

"He's only h.. he's a person, Hermione, and he makes mistakes."

"Yes, but I don't have to love him. And I don't." She snuggled a bit closer and Harry put his around her shoulders.

"You may well have it right. Is that why you had to go before? To work this all out?" He pulled her closer and rested his other arm around her waist.

"That was it. I couldn't work out why I wasn't able to get over his leaving." She looked up at him. "Until I realised I was actually upset at not being upset. That I was feeling guilty about not feeling as I thought I should."

"Do you know, I was worried you might be about to tell me something else." He noticed a wisp of her hair drifting towards her eyes, and reached up to move it back. "I thought you were going to tell me we had to travel separately, that you didn't want to be with me, or trust me, after tonight."

"But I do trust you, Harry." Hermione smiled. "I trust you to not impose on me, or to try and guilt me into doing anything I don't want to do. Because I love you dearly, as a friend. I trust you, as a friend. And I am asking you to continue. As a friend. A very, very good friend."

Then she reached up and pulled his head down for a kiss.

It started where the previous one had left off, with her hand around the back of his neck, pulling him closer. He could feel his erect penis slipping into the groove made where her legs met, and was torn between being horrified that she should feel it, and thinking it the most wonderful sensation he had ever felt. His mouth opened, and his tongue probed deep into her mouth, starting her moaning and pulling him closer.

Hermione closed off the kiss, then started a gentle nibble on his ear, trailing her tongue and very gently scraping her teeth along the sensitive skin as she ran her fingers through his hair. Harry let loose a deep groan as she reached the part of his neck just under the ear, and she gave it the softest of nips before returning to his mouth. Her lips encased the groan, and he rolled on top of her and took her mouth with a passion he had not realised he could reach.

Her left hand held the back of his head firmly, pushing his mouth to her, increasing the pressure and the sensations as her right hand ran down his backbone, sending the most amazing shivers through his groin. With a modicum of self-control Harry managed to pull back just for a moment.

"You … will tell me if you want me to stop?"

"Will you tell me?"

"Yes." He could barely breathe, unsure how he would be if she did ask him to.

Hermione ran her hand down his face to his mouth, and used a finger to trace around his lips. "I don't want you to stop. Not now. Please."

With a growl he turned his head and took her finger in his mouth. With a gentle sucking and slight bite, he pulled it right into his mouth then let it loose again. "I don't want you to stop either."

She slipped her hand down the front of Harry's pyjama top, opening the two buttons that still remained, then she ran her fingers over his chest. As they touched his nipples, he felt a shock that ran from his skull to the base of his spine, then rebounded straight up his cock. He knew then how close he was to coming, and moaned deeply.

"Sorry."

"No, don't stop. That was amazing." He sat up and removed his pyjama top, throwing it to the side of the bed. Lowering himself back down until he hovered over her, he took Hermione's hand and put it back on his chest. She took the hint, and ran her hand over it from his neck to the edge of his pyjama pants, then back up. Brushing over the nipples, she was fascinated by the reaction, but more so when she ran the back of her hand over his waistline from side to side.

After she'd done that a few times, Harry leaned back down and started kissing her neck. His tiny licks went down the V of her own pyjama top, and he found the ribbon that held the two sides together and undid the bow. It slid apart, the entire top falling open, and in the dim light he could see the shape of her breasts, slightly askew and with nipples that were as erect as his own hard cock. A slight touch on them was all he needed to see if she was as sensitive there as he was.

Her moan almost sent him wild.

"Harry. Play with them. Please." She thrust her breasts up into his hands, and he alternated between stroking and cupping them, then carefully and softly squeezed one nipple.

"Oh god more!"

He took this as affirmation, and squeezed it a little more, then leaned down and took the nipple in his mouth. Suckling it made him harder, and once more he was almost coming.

"Hold off. Slow down." Hermione pushed him off her nipple.

"Bother. Sorry – did I hurt you?"

"No, not really. You were getting a bit intense, and I was worried you were about to bite it." Hermione smiled up at him, then took his hand to the other side. "And this one is feeling neglected. Can you do anything about it?"

"I should at least try." He bent down once more, using his tongue to press hard without the danger of teeth, and encompassing as much of her breast as he could with his mouth. His efforts were rewarded by her renewed panting, and moans of delight. He slipped his hands around the back of her pyjama trousers, and under the waistband, sliding down until his hands were cupping her buttocks and pulling her into him in a delightful pressure that threatened to send him over the edge. Her mewls of pleasure pushed him even further along the precipice, and it was with great reluctance that he released her breast and pushed slightly away from her.

Only for a moment, though. Harry had read the books and seen the magazines that were passed around the boy's dormitories. It helped a great deal that the wizarding ones had included moving pictures with very explicit illustrations. He hesitantly started easing Hermione's pyjama pants down to her thighs, and was worried when she pushed him away for a moment.

"Did you …"

"Hold on, Harry." Hermione lifted her buttocks and slid the offending nightwear off completely, throwing them to the end of the bed. Then she smiled up at him. "Please, continue where you left off."

"You'll let me know if I'm doing anything wrong?" He hesitated – it was one thing imagining going down on a girl as you watched the pictures, but another altogether getting the chance to do it for real.

By way of reply, Hermione spread her legs, and used her hands to hold her labia apart, one finger touching her clitoris. "Just be gentle, at least to start. I can handle quite a bit of pressure as … as I get…"

She didn't get a chance to continue. Provided with a map and directions, Harry could follow the path as well as anyone. He kissed gently down the line from Hermione's belly button to the point she was indicating, and started using his tongue on the small mound. To start, he tried moving her soft brunette hairs away from it with his fingers. By the time he had encased the tiny bundle of nerves with his lips, she was moaning again and thrusting her groin up hard.

"More! Please Harry – don't stop. I'll hex you if you oHHHHH!" The last was caused by Harry sucking firmly on the red and engorged hazelnut, and sliding one finger up and down her vulva until it slipped into Hermione's vagina. A moment later he was glad of the soundproof wards around the tent, as her scream of climax echoed around the tent walls and her entire body convulsed with a delicious shiver. Harry slowed down the ministrations, the result being two more cries, and then Hermione collapsed back onto the bed in a boneless mass of quivering pleasure.

She lay there, breathing heavily for a minute, and Harry snuggled up beside her and held her tight.

"Are you all right?"

"Oh Harry. Oh my. I …" Harry was amused to see a blush creep up her cheeks.

"I take it that was suitable?"

"You have no idea." She kissed him hard, then again to get the taste of herself from him. When she finished, he was rock hard and ready to moan himself. "I can make myself orgasm. That's not hard. But it's never felt as full, as perfect as that."

"Good." He kissed her back hard.

"Did you know," Hermione said, "that a woman who has orgasmed is more likely to reach that part again than one who is starting from scratch, so to speak?" Her hands started sliding inside his pyjama pants, feeling and encompassing his incredibly sensitive erection. "Which means, if I were to slip this inside me, you are very likely to set me off again. Would you like that?"

Harry demonstrated immediately that he was capable of removing his pyjama trousers manually much faster than any charm or incantation could. "How would you like me?"

She rolled on her back, and he slowly settled himself between her legs, his cock sliding into her vulva almost without conscious thought. Hermione raised her hips, and guided his erection to the place where his finger had been just previously, rubbing the tip around the edge of her vagina then slowly into the waiting chamber. "Like this. Slowly, to start with."

He followed her lead, thrusting forward gently as she raised her hips until he was completely enclosed in the warm pulsing darkness. As slowly as he could, he pulled back slightly then in again, earning a gasp from her as recompense for his efforts.

"Like that?"

"You can speed up a little if you want…"

Leaning forward to kiss her again, he found the small change in angle resulted in a further moan from her. Her entire body tightened on him, and she pulled him down further into the kiss and thrust her hips up hard at the same time. It was all Harry could do to hold himself back from just letting go and fucking her hard. Then…

"Fuck me hard, Harry. Please. Don't stop." Hermione wrapped her legs around him, her ankles linking on the small of his back, and Harry took her at his word. He thrust hard, starting a wilder rhythm and feeling the thrill start in him as Hermione's moans became cries of pleasure and delight.

In just a couple of minutes, as her entire body spasmed again and locked him deep inside her, his body answered with a cry of triumph as he came hard, deep in her most precious part. They moved together once, twice more, then subsided together and came down onto the bedding in a slow collapse of sated bliss and joy. Sleep came quickly, for once empty of terror and worry, their bodies entwined until morning.