Hermione Granger was perusing the newspaper. Her newspaper, if you will. It had started as an idea, a fantasy, really. But now she was holding the second edition of the School Prophet in her hands. She looked, not at the headline or the editor’s letter (her letter, obviously), but at the advice column.
Miss Anonymous Advice
Only Harry, Ron, and she knew who it was. Her! All year long, she had longed to put her brain to practical use outside the classroom, and here it was. She was making sure, for the five hundred and forty-second time, that it didn’t look too stupid in print.
Dear Miss Anonymous Advice,
I like this guy, but he doesn’t see me as more than a friend. There’s this other guy, too, and he likes me, but I like him as a friend. One word: HELP!
Caught in a Triangle
Hermione looked at her response.
I know how you feel. I suggest telling the guy you like how you feel. The worst he can do is say no! In the meantime, tell the other one that you just want to be friends.
Oh, no! There was a redundancy! She had used the phrase, “how you feel” twice! But maybe that was because she had been concentrating on how much the letter sounded like she felt.
On the one hand, Ron was absolutely infatuated with her. Anyone with half a brain could see that. Parvati and Lavender had noticed and offered tips to ask him out. Why could no one understand that she didn’t like Ron like that? Did they think her so inept at socializing that she’d jump at every chance she got?
On the other hand, she felt for Harry what Ron felt for her. No one knew that. She wasn’t like Ron; she didn’t wear her heart on the sleeve of her robe. But she wanted to tell Harry so much, to see if he would return her feelings. That’s what she should do! She’d take her own advice and tell Harry how she felt. The worst he could do would be to say no.
Hermione looked up. Her feet had led her all the way into the Great Hall. Ron was saving a place for her and waving, but Harry…he wasn’t looking at her. She doubted that he had noticed her entrance. He was too busy looking at some Quidditch diagrams. And, with an unpleasant drop of her stomach, Hermione realized that it would be horrible if her were to reject her, to tell her that he liked some other girl, or that he didn’t like anyone at all, but he didn’t like her the way she liked him. She doubted that he would return her feelings. After all, last year…last year he had seen her kiss Ron on the cheek! But she had only done that because it was clear that Ron was depressed beyond belief. She had known it would cheer him up, even if it made her feel worse. But that again, she had done a similar thing to Harry before they had gone their separate ways for summer vacation after fourth year. Would he remember that? No, it was probably a matter of trivial importance to him…
She had no choice but to take the seat by Ron, which, incidentally, seemed to be a tight squeeze between him and Ginny. She could barely get her arm out to grab her spoon. Harry looked up from the squiggly, slithering lines of his diagrams and said, “’Morning, Hermione.”
“’Morning,” she said in her usual tone, helping herself to a piece of toast.
“Hey, Hermione, you heard that we all have to pair up to do an Astronomy project?” Ron asked hopefully.
“Yes, I did. Maybe I should ask Parvati or Lavender if—”
“Oh, no, don’t,” Ginny said, struggling to turn sideways to face Hermione and Ron. “Lavender was telling Parvati how she hoped you would ask to be her partner, Ron. Maybe you should ask her.”
“Aw, come on, Ginny. She can pair with someone else.”
“Stop being an insensitive prat, Ron,” Ginny retorted. “Besides, who else are you going to partner with?”
Ron turned a delicate shade of lavender himself.
“That’s right, no one. Now go ask her. Go!”
Ron slumped away, looking like he was going to kill Ginny the moment no one would see.
“So, Hermione, since I can’t pair with Ron, do you want to be my partner?” Harry asked her.
“Sure,” Hermione said casually, lifting her eyes and thanking God. If her eyes had been at normal level, she might have seen Harry mouth, “Thank you,” to Ginny.
* * *
Two days later, Hermione emptied her advice envelope before anyone had gotten up. It was taped to the bulletin board and anyone could write their letter and stick it inside. Today there were quite a lot. On her way back to the common room, she read one.
Dear Miss Anonymous Advice,
I absolutely adore your column. If I had any problems (which I don’t, by the way), I’d definitely write to you for advice. I have taken on a dare from someone to find your identity. Just tell me: Which House are you in?
Hermione suppressed a giggle, imagining Pansy’s face when she found out her beloved advice columnist was a Gryffindor. She tore the parchment into little pieces and threw them away. She was about to put the remaining letters in her bag when the next one caught her eye.
Dear Miss Anonymous Advice,
I like this girl, and I’m afraid she may not like me back. What do I do?
Hermione blanched. She knew that writing. It was—Ron’s writing!
What did he think he was doing? He knew perfectly well who Miss Anonymous Advice was. Then again, maybe that was why he had sent it! Or maybe he thought that she wouldn’t recognize his writing. How stupid did he think her? And since when did Ron use words like “unrequited”? And… and “lover”…Her feelings for Harry had only reached that level last year, in their fifth year.
Hermione slumped back in her chair, thinking. She would have to tell Ron to give up on her, because she wasn’t going to love him like that. He was more like her brother, not her boyfriend…
Footsteps were coming down the boys’ staircase. It was Ron. It’s now or never, she told herself. “Ron?”
“Hermione? What are you doing down here?”
“I was looking at my letters,” she said truthfully. “I got an interesting one.”
She waved his letter. He turned scarlet.
“Look, Ron,” she told him, standing up, “you like me. You…you love me. I love you too, but because you’re one of my best friends. Can we please keep it like that? I really don’t want to hurt your feelings, Ron, really I don’t. It’s just that—”
“You like Harry?”
Hermione was so taken aback, so startled that a “Yes!” slipped between her lips before she could stop it.
“I thought so. Just thought I’d try to get through your shield,” Ron sighed.
“You’re always attacking any non-Harry males. You hardly even snipe at him that way you do me. And don’t tell me you don’t snipe at me.”
“And if it isn’t you it’s that idiotic homework planner you gave me for Christmas last year. It doesn’t burn! It won’t be destroyed! Believe me, I tried.”
“Ron, are you getting to the point?”
“Just tell Harry how you feel. For me. I want you to be happy, Hermione. And I think Harry deserves the truth.”
Hermione stretched upwards and kissed Ron on the cheek. “Thank you,” she whispered.
* * *
Hermione had fully intended to get Harry alone first thing in the morning (and not practically in the middle of the night, which was right then) and take Ron’s advice. But when she saw him emerging from the boys’ dormitory, she felt faint. How could she stand it if he didn’t love her back? Maybe then she would agree to go out with Ron. At least one of them would be happy.
“Did you tell him?” Ron hissed at her as he descended the stairs, long after Harry had gone to breakfast.
“Well, almost…” she faltered.
“I’m just…gathering my nerve.” Or what’s left of it. It had taken most of her nerve to talk to Ron that early morning.
The two walked down to breakfast together. Hermione spotted Pansy Parkinson, who gave her a scathing look. Hermione thought instantly of a period during their fourth year when Rita Skeeter had published an article saying that Hermione was Harry’s girlfriend, but was playing him for Quidditch sensation Viktor Krum. Hermione had managed to ignore it by imagining if it was true. The part about her being Harry’s girlfriend, obviously. She would never play Harry wrong. And she would never, ever, ever go into another relationship like the one she had had with Viktor. She wanted to love someone back, not just agree to let him love her.
She sat next to Harry, while Ron took a seat on the other side of him. He leaned closer to hear the proceedings.
“Hi, Harry,” Hermione said nervously.
“Good morning, Hermione. ‘Morning, Ron. Hermione, do you have the schedule for the Astronomy project? Can I see it?”
Hermione pulled a sheet of paper out of her bag and handed it to him.
“Yeah, we’ve got the Astronomy tower tonight. We can look at all the stars and map them on those charts,” Harry said.
Ron made motions with his hands to urge Hermione on. Hermione, forgetting that Harry was staring directly at her, shook her head vigorously.
“What?” Harry asked.
“Oh, um…Ron wanted to borrow a quill. And I told him no because…because he already lost four of mine.”
“Yeah,” Ron cut in. “Yeah, maybe I should tell someone.”
“You can tell someone later, Ron. What time do we have the Astronomy Tower?”
“Um, from ten to whenever, as long as it’s before breakfast.”
“Me and Lavender have it tomorrow,” Ron said, disgruntled. He had found out that Ginny had been tricking him.
“Darn! I forgot my Transfiguration book in the common room,” Harry said, standing up. “I’ll see you in class, then.”
Ron made a vague urge from deep inside his throat. Hermione cleared hers.
Harry turned around to look at her. “Yes?”
“I—I, um, I…I’m glad we’re partners,” she finished somewhat lamely.
Harry grinned. “Me too, Hermione. Bye, then.”
Hermione watched him with a faint smile playing on her lips. Ron smacked his forehead.
* * *
Hermione meant to take a nap after classes ended at four, but after spending so long thinking about how she would face Harry, it was five ‘till ten. She grabbed her bag, which she had pre-packed with everything they might need, and flew down the stairs to the common room, through the portrait hole, and to the Astronomy Tower.
“I’m here,” she panted five minutes later as she crossed the threshold of the top of the Astronomy Tower. Harry was waiting for her.
“Hello, Hermione. Want to get started?”
Now. She had to tell him now. This was her chance. She had to.
They spent three hours charting the solar system. Occasionally, one of them would need to look through the telescope, both would offer to do it, and Harry’s hand would end up on top of Hermione’s as they both reached for it.
At about one in the morning, Hermione stifled a huge yawn and said, “Okay, now we need to construct our model of the solar system. You take the sun and the four inner planets, and I’ll take the outer ones.”
“Hermione, you look exhausted. We can do this tomorrow in the common room, can’t we?”
Hermione looked up at him, her eyes barely opened. “I want to put this to rest tonight.”
They set to work. Hermione was so tired that, twice, she found herself making Saturn black.
Harry was sitting at a table, while Hermione was in Professor Sinistra’s squashy armchair. Harry was lost in his own thoughts until he heard deep, heavy breathing from across the room. Hermione was asleep.
Carefully, he crept over to her and placed himself on the arm of the chair. She looked so beautiful sitting there. No agitation or tension or desire for academics crossed her brow. She was so peaceful there. Her curly brown locks slipped across her face, and he took one and set it behind her ear.
Feeling so corny, Harry said gently, “I love you, Hermione. If you were awake, you’d think I was pathetic for telling you when you can’t hear me.”
Her eyes opened. “Not at all,” she whispered.
“Her—Hermione?” Harry gasped. “I’m so sorry…Oh—oh, gosh, I’ll leave—”
He turned to go, but Hermione caught his hand. “Don’t go,” she said, pleading with her eyes. “Look, I must tell you.”
“Tell me what?”
“I—I couldn’t tell you before. It was all so complicated, I just—Ron, he—and I—I was afraid.”
Harry was utterly confused. “What?”
“Ron sent a letter to…to Miss Anonymous Advice.”
“It said he liked me, but not in so many words. Then he came down, and we talked, and he got over it…he told me to tell you that I did love you. He said you deserved the truth…He knew, didn’t he?” she asked in sudden realization. “He knew…”
“He knew,” Harry confirmed. “Now I need advice, Miss Anonymous.”
Hermione nodded, not wanting to cause him to stop speaking.
“Is this when I kiss you?”
Hermione leaned closer to him, and he to her. His lips brushed hers. Then it was longer, and they embraced each other.
After a while, Harry said, “Hermione, our project…”
“What project?” she asked dazedly.
“Our Astronomy project. Didn’t you want to finish it?”
She gazed up at him, a certain warmth blazing in his green eyes.