It was very much unlike Hermione to forget where she was going, especially when it came to libraries, and that fake smile she’d put on was really off-putting. Harry much preferred her real smile, the one she’d give him when they solved a difficult problem together or the one she gave him every morning, full of warmth and… love?
He was suddenly reminded of what the lady had said to them.
‘Of course I love her. She’s the most wonderful best friend I could ever ask for. But do I love love her?’
Well, it was a bit difficult to figure out what romantic love felt like. He didn’t love Hermione like his Aunt and Uncle “loved” each other, thank Merlin for that. He didn’t love her like Molly and Arthur loved each other - what he shared with Hermione was more of a partnership, and there was much less yelling involved, though there was still some yelling when he deserved it. Harry smiled wryly as he recalled Hermione hitting him with a copy of the Daily Prophet when he had called himself the Chosen One. He didn’t know Bill and Fleur all that well, but he knew they didn’t hug nearly as often as Hermione liked to hug him.
All in all, there wasn’t much to compare to. What he shared with Hermione was pretty unique. He was quite sure that very few people had gone through what they had been through together, knowing with absolute certainty that the other would never let them down.
Harry took a moment to watch Hermione as she squealed and raced towards the new section, that real smile appearing finally and lighting up her face. He loved seeing her in her element. As she strained to grab a book from one of the higher shelves, he walked over and pulled it down for her. The thankful smile she gave him in return took his breath away, and when she followed that up with a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek, he wondered if he’d ever be able to breathe the same way again.
“Thanks as always, Harry.”
She turned away and continued searching for books, leaving Harry staring at her, his hand touching his cheek.
“Anytime,” he whispered, his heart fluttering in his chest.
Harry suddenly realized exactly what romantic love felt like. It felt like a beaming smile as thanks. It felt like a quick (but no less warm) hug and fleeting kiss on his cheek. It felt like Hermione.