All Hermione wanted was to use the several hours of silence snuggled in the warmth of Gryffindor Tower while all the others were out watching Quidditch. She enjoyed letting her bare toes touch the tips of the plush carpet as the fire warmed her and the words she was reading, transport her to another world. But at some point, even she had to admit that after reading for quite some time, there was one element that was distracting her.
Sighing despondently, Hermione looked up from her book and not for the first time. Harry was staring moodily at the fire in the Gryffindor Common Room, the book he had been pretending to read lying haphazardly across his lap, and his glasses lying low on his nose. All she ever saw him do was stare grumpily into the fire, and at some point, the depressive state he seemed to be living in was beginning to grate on her nerves.
"Why don't you just go?"
Harry barely twitched before he mumbled, "I can't. It'll be worse if I do."
Deciding to drop the subject, Hermione snuggled further into the chair she was currently seated on and continued reading the chapter on unpopular potions remedies that they were bound to be questioned on at the next term exams. Considering she had been the only one who actually cracked open a text book during the last few weeks, she could gladly venture a guess that she was probably the only one who seemed to remember that they were, in fact, about to sit for their N.E.W.T.s. Everyone else happened to be more interested in the final Quidditch match of the season. And Harry, although technically not allowed to play due to his age, was no exception.
"You must be the only one who's not interested in Quidditch."
"I assure you, I'm not,” Hermione said smoothly as she looked up at him. “I've always only been interested in the players."
Harry raised an eyebrow at her as she felt a light blush creep up her neck, aware of exactly how that sentence had sounded.
"You know what I mean." Shrugging lightly, she closed her potions book, determined to keep Harry conversing so as to distract him from the moping around he was sure to continue if she didn't. "Don't forget, I've come for every one of the Quidditch matches that you and Ron have ever played."
His eyebrows scrunched up thoughtfully. "Not all."
"When have I ever missed any of your Quidditch matches?" All she ever remembered were lightning fast moves, mud caked players, and near death experiences where she found herself hoping that her two best friends would be okay; that they won't get hurt.
Harry looked at her expectantly. "Fifth year, when we met Grawp for the first time. Which means that technically you've missed a game when Ron had played, just never a game that I have ever played." He grinned at her smugly, his green eyes sparkling mischievously at the knowledge that he remembered something that she hadn’t.
Hermione felt a slow blush creep up her neck, choosing to glare at her best friend in an effort to stifle the sudden tingling she felt travel up her spine whenever he looked at her that way. "And you still say I'm not interested in Quidditch."
She snorted. "No."
Harry grinned. "Thought so."
He focused his attention once again on the dancing flames before him, his mind immediately shutting down in self-pitying thought. Hermione really couldn't stand seeing him so unhappy. "You could use the Invisibility Cloak. No one would see you, then."
Harry shook his head immediately, making Hermione wonder if the thought had already crossed his mind. "The whole point of going to a Quidditch match is to watch it with your friends. It's fun to cheer with them. I'd rather stay here and hear the end result instead of having to keep myself quiet and hidden."
"Are you sure you have to miss it?"
He nodded curtly. "Ginny was off her game the last two times I was in the stands. It's better for Gryffindor if I'm nowhere close to the Quidditch Pitch."
Hermione tilted her head at Harry thoughtfully. "Sometimes I wonder if you're so used to sacrificing things that you'll never fight for anything that you want, if it means hurting someone else."
His head snapped up towards her quickly, the look in his eyes causing her breath to hitch. "You think I should fight for what I want?" he asked carefully, almost as if he was asking one question masked as another.
Hermione felt her lips part in surprise, wondering if she was imagining the sudden spark of interest behind his glasses. "Yes," she said softly, her voice hesitant. "I think you should."
Harry nodded before silently letting his glance fall on the flames once more. Hermione watched him for a moment longer, the slight straightening of his shoulders giving her the impression that he was bracing himself for something. But when long moments passed without any sound, she decided to go back to her reading and chose to open the book that sat idly on her lap.
"Did Ginny ever tell you why we broke up?"
The sudden question startled her. "No," she said carefully. "She didn't." If anything, Ginny passed her every day with her head bowed and eyes red rimmed from crying constantly. It had taken everything within Hermione not to press her for information.
"She thought..." He stopped, his jaw flexing nervously as he leaned forward, his glance falling onto his hands thoughtfully. "She thinks... there's something between us."
Hermione failed splendidly from keeping her eyes from widening and her jaw from dropping while her mouth dried up exponentially. "Us?"
He looked up then, his green irises making her feel as if he was looking right through her. "You and me. Us."
Hermione felt the need to say something. Her mouth opened and closed a few times even though she had absolutely no idea what she wanted to say. After what felt like too long a silence, she finally asked, "What did you say?"
"What do you think I said?" Harry asked softly, his intense gaze still scrutinizing her.
Hermione honestly had no idea how to answer that question. She shifted uncomfortably, choosing to use her mind and logically answer the question. "Well," she began slowly. "I would imagine that you would have told her that there was nothing between us besides friendship, and that she need not believe what other people say."
Harry's eyes widened slightly. "What do other people say?"
She immediately regretted saying what she did. "Nothing," she said too quickly. "People don't say anything."
"Hermione," he chastised gently.
Letting out a low breath, Hermione shifted in her seat and let her gaze fall on the book on her lap, following the movement of her finger as she traced the embossed gold on the hard cover. "There might have been certain talk since...the Celebration Ball."
"What kind of talk?"
Hermione's concentration on the book increased as she found the name of the author extremely fascinating. "The usual kind."
"That we fancy each other?"
Surprised by his blunt tone, she couldn't help but raise her gaze to meet his. "It's because we danced together, Harry. You know how the girls at this school are. One look, you fancy a person, and if you spend more than five minutes worth of attention on them, you're in love," she finished with a fake wistful tone, hoping to get a smile from her awful rendition of a love struck female.
She found herself disappointed to see that Harry was still frowning thoughtfully.
"You don't think so?"
"No, I do. You're right. I was just thinking," he said slowly, his glance on her unusually perceptive. "Maybe we should prove them wrong."
Hermione fought the urge to laugh. "It's been years and they still see us together. How in the world do you intend to shift nearly eight years’ worth of perception?"
With an expression of utter determination, he stood up and made his way over to her before holding out his hand expectantly. When Hermione simply stared at him confusion, Harry chose to simply grab her wrist and pull her to her feet. Hermione barely managed to place her book carefully on the chair before she found herself standing too close to her best friend.
Her best friend, on the other hand, wasn't looking at her. Hermione followed his gaze only to land on his hand around her wrist. She watched in fascination as Harry released the grip he had on her and lightly moved the tips of his fingers around her wrist, before brushing the sensitive skin of her palm and fingers with upward teasing strokes. By the time he entwined her fingers with his, she had been holding her breath for so long that she was sure she would pass out from lack of much needed air.
"Do you feel anything?" he asked softly, his gaze still on their entwined hands.
It was such a ridiculous question to ask when his thumb was rubbing languid circles along her skin. Hermione felt like her breath had been constricted. All she could do was shake her head, afraid to admit that she had never felt so nervous or excited or so aware of everything that he did. If she did admit to all that, she had a niggling feeling that he might stop; and she didn't want that. Merlin, how she didn't want that.
Stepping even closer to her so that their feet almost touched, Harry finally looked at her. He was so close. Too close. She wasn't sure if he was really just watching her, or if her mind was playing a cruel trick, and making things seem so much more slower than it really was. His gaze held hers as his other arm circled her waist, causing her hand to fall lightly on his shoulder to help hold herself upright. She was far too distracted by the way he was looking at her to notice how her chest brushed his, and how his hand caressed her lower back gently, effectively pushing her closer to him. Her legs just didn’t have the strength to hold her up by themselves.
The hold they were in was reminiscent of that fateful night of the Celebration Ball, where a simple dance had made her forget where she was and what she was doing, leaving only the knowledge of who she was spending her time with the only thought that had circled her mind. She hadn't been surprised when people had started making comments about how they had feelings for each other, since during that one moment in time, she had thought that very same thing.
He moved even closer, his nose nearly bumping hers while he slipped his hand under both the jumper and t-shirt to touch her cool skin underneath. Hermione's breath hitched as her lids lowered and she felt herself lean into him further, her breasts practically flattening against his chest.
"Now?" he asked huskily, his breath warm on her lips. Vaguely she wondered when he had gotten so close and why she had lost her previous train of thought. She was too busy looking at his lips to have heard anything that he would have said. As far as she was concerned, she was starting to feel too hot and bothered to concentrate on anything else.
Almost as if by its own volition, her hand moved up his shoulder, his neck, to bury her fingers in the messy, dark hair that she had spent years trying to tame. And the moment her fingers tightened around his locks, his eyes sparked with something she wasn't really familiar with before he pulled her roughly against him, causing her body to mould against his effortlessly while his fingers that were splayed across her bare back gripped her so hard, she was sure that purple welts would appear on her skin the very next day.
All thought seemed to have left her mind. All Hermione was aware of was his short, shallow breaths as they met hers, her grip on his hair as she brought him closer, and the way his lips were not quite touching hers. She couldn't take it anymore. She wanted to protest, to stop the absolute want that was consuming every inch of her.
"Harry," she gasped softly, probably a plea, but something she hoped to stop whatever it was that was happening.
It was as if the mere mention of his name triggered something inside him. His name had barely left her lips before his lips found hers. Her eyes widened in surprise, even as a sudden thrill surged through her at the contact. The kiss was far from gentle or sweet; it was quick, rough, demanding, and caused a whimper to be torn reluctantly from her throat. If she wanted to push him away, she didn't. He had to barely try to part her lips, his tongue accepting her invitation to deepen the kiss and bring him even closer to her. He released the hold he had on her hand, immediately tangling in her loose curls as the kiss seemed to lose any semblance of control it once had.
She had never kissed anyone the way she was currently kissing him; her back arching, her lips meeting his enthusiastically, tongues duelling, hot breaths mingling wantonly and her hands moving quickly from his arms, to his shoulders, to his chest, his neck, his hair. She matched him effortlessly with passion and intensity, and Hermione found herself wondering if she was going to pass out for lack of air.
The kiss seemed to go endlessly as he nudged her towards the plush red couch that was a staple of their house common room. Hermione eagerly followed, allowing him to gently place her down on the cushions before he joined her, their lips barely parting even for a hairsbreadth as they shifted until she was under him and he was resting between her thighs. Now at a more comfortable position, she could feel all of him as he moved against her; everything from his lean legs as hers entwined around his, and the hard press of his arousal against her hip. Every time he shifted against her, she couldn't help but moan as she pulled him closer and grinded her hips against his. His hands followed a trail across her body, his fingers cupping the curves of her body before slipping under the lumpy material and caressing the smooth skin underneath. She arched against him every time, a small whimper escaping again and again as he got quicker and bolder.
She knew what she was asking him to do, and her mind couldn't concentrate on the possible consequences let alone form a coherent thought. It had been too long since she had felt this level of desire, such want that coiled deep at the bottom of her belly and begged for release.
When Hermione finally felt the need practically consume her, and she knew she couldn't wait for his next move, she pulled against the rough material of his sweater, allowing one hand to creep through and touch him while the other stayed buried in the hair that she loved so much. Breaking the kiss, he trailed breathy kisses down her neck, before he surprised her entirely and began to slip her jumper and the t-shirt over her head. Excitedly, she complied before grabbing on to him and kissing him thoroughly.
It was then that she finally felt him shower any attention on her breasts. He kissed his way through from the sensitive skin of her collarbone, over the border of her bra, into the valley between her breast, while his hands moved down her waist, over the slight mound of her stomach, before he started unbuttoning her jeans hastily. Knowing where this was going made her keen, her fingers fastening on his sweater in an effort to yank it off him, even while she raised her hips so that he could easily pull down her pants. The moment he got the material off her ankles, he paused to look at her, his breathing ragged, and his eyes darker than she had ever seen before. Hermione felt self-conscious without having to touch him or having him touch her, even if she did thank whatever fateful idea that had made her wear her lacy red knickers rather than the practical underwear she usually did. It didn't matter that her black bra didn't match her knickers, because the way Harry was looking at her, it was obvious that he didn't care.
With an awe struck expression across his face, he touched her bent knee lightly, leaning back so he could watch his fingers trail a painfully slow path down her inner thigh. "You're not stopping me."
Hermione honestly wasn't feeling the need to talk at that moment. His teasing touches were driving her crazy to the point that she knew that even if they didn't do the deed, he could easily help her reach that moment of bliss she craved by touching her the right way. "What?" she asked breathlessly, wondering why he felt the need to stop to talk now. With every inch he moved down her inner thigh, and closer to the place she wanted to be touched the most, the closer she was losing all reason.
Harry's hand stopped the teasing trail right before he reached the apex of her thighs, his fingers caressing her lightly as if he had no idea what he was doing to her. Slowly, his eyes rose to hers, a curious question in them. "Why aren't you stopping me?"
Hermione felt her mouth dry up, her imagination immediately running wild as to wonder why this was so important to him. She was currently lying under him, her legs on either side, shamelessly begging for him to take her. Even if she thought she needed to stop him, she didn't want to.
Her silence only made him lean over her so that he could look into her eyes as if he could see the truth for himself. "Have you and Ron...?"
If she was speechless before, the question he now posed made her throat constrict. She chose to smile away how uncomfortable she was feeling, her hands immediately going to either side of his face to hold him close. "What does that have to do with anything?"
His eyes dulled instantly, and Hermione knew she had somehow said the wrong thing. As he started to get off her, she felt a sudden panic surge through her at the sudden distance she felt from him. She sat up along with him, bringing her legs together while she grabbed her jumper that was lying across the back of the couch to cover herself modestly. So she told herself. Though, if she was honest, it was to get rid of the feeling of shame she suddenly felt, even if she didn't understand why.
Harry hunched his shoulders in defeat and faced away from her, first adjusting the glasses that had fallen practically off his nose.
"What about you and Ginny?" she asked timidly. She knew they had been intimate, which made her wonder exactly why her being with Ron had bothered him. She had been with Ron for as long as Harry and Ginny had been together. She was an adult by wizarding and Muggle standards. She had a right to enjoy her boyfriend's company, even if their feelings had subsequently fizzled at the end.
Harry seemed too deep in thought before he finally spoke, his voice barely a whisper. "We never quite got to that part."
Hermione stared at him incredulously, unsure of what to say. After a few moments of silence she finally let out a surprised, "Oh."
Harry took off his glasses and rubbed at his eyes tiredly. "The match would have finished by now." He sounded tired, and his tone only made her feel the familiar burning prickle behind her eyes. She understood what he was telling her. You should get dressed. This was a mistake.
Slowly, Hermione picked up her discarded jeans and t-shirt and stood up, the need to run up to the girls’ dormitory and cry herself to sleep oddly overwhelming. Just as she was about to leave, she turned to see him against her better judgement, her heart going out to how defeated he looked. Things had changed so much between them, and not for the better.
But still, she couldn't help but feel that he was acting absolutely childish; as if he couldn't bear the thought of someone else being where he hadn't been first. He was ridiculous, immature and a certified idiot because of that.
Before she even knew what she was doing, Hermione had tossed her clothes on the couch, made her way over to him, and before Harry could do or say anything else, she had pushed him back by pressing against his shoulders and straddled him easily, her lips immediately taking his in a passionate kiss. Even if he had been hesitant before, he wasn't hesitant now. The kiss fired up almost immediately, his hands quickly moving to cup her covered breasts and trace the outline of her lacy knickers.
Forcefully, she pulled herself away from him, enjoying the absolute dazed expression across his face. "You're an idiot."
"I know," he said breathlessly before he leaned up to kiss her again.
Hermione responded eagerly before she pulled back once again. "I deserve better than this, Harry. I deserve a date with flowers and chocolates. I deserve to be courted and treated like a person who won't leave just because you told me to. And..." she said slowly, as she leaned closer to him. "I deserve not to be treated like a thing with an alpha male trying to fight for me."
A small smirk graced his lips. "You're right. I'm an idiot."
Hermione couldn't help but grin brilliantly. "I'm always right."
With one final kiss - and she was determined that it would be a mind blowing one at that - Hermione got out of his protesting embrace, picked up her clothes and quickly made her way to the girls dormitory before she could change her mind. She was feeling like a giddy fifteen year old, and she was enjoying it immensely. Besides, it would do no good to be practically starkers, straddling Harry Potter when the team came back in. She would never be able to live that down. This thing between them, whatever it was, she'd rather keep it a secret for just a little while longer.