Chapter 1 : Three Words
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Thanks to SmexyVampire for a great beta-ing job! =)
Great! I thought. Another thing to add to my bloody list! Not only was I once again behind with my homework, harassed by my girlfriend—I inwardly shuddered at the thought of Lavender—and tired from Quidditch practice. No, now they just had to go and put up a sign informing us about Apparition tests!
Harry was one to talk. At least he had managed to Apparate—not that he had to worry about the test, he wouldn’t be seventeen anyway. And my day had gone so well up to that point!
I had successfully managed to avoid Lavender, even during dinner and was rather hopeful that my luck would hold up. To be honest, I couldn’t say that it didn’t cross my mind to ask Harry for some of his Felix Felicis to help me ditch Lavender. I glanced at Hermione at that thought. We were sitting in the common room, close to the fireplace. The light emitting from the fire fairly danced in mesmerizing shadows and colours over her beautiful face and wonderfully wild hair. The fire in the grate wasn’t the only one that night. There was also fire in her beautiful chocolate brown eyes. I knew that look all too well, having seen it directed at me countless times. This time however, Harry was the recipient of her fury.
She berated him, again, about his using of the Half Blood Prince’s potions book. Harry pointed out to her that without it I wouldn’t be alive and for just a fleeting second I thought I saw a change in her face, her eyes. But then, I must’ve just imagined it as she was already countering Harry’s argument with the same fire burning in her features.
Maybe I misread her signs completely. In fact, I would bet on it. I was such a prat for even hoping she would have any other feelings for me than she would have for Ginny. I realized weeks, no months ago that I had feelings for her that went way past friendly and brotherly. All it took for me was to make the biggest mistake of my life. I snogged Lavender Brown. She’s become a parasite, never letting me go and clinging closer the more I tried to distance myself. Bloody annoying, really.
And then I watched Hermione and saw that she hurt. I remembered the day she told me that I had the emotional range of a teaspoon. Well, she was wrong. Apparently, mine was even smaller. Because I thought I had picked up signs of jealousy from her. I had hoped she was jealous, hoped she would tell me she felt the same way about me as I did about her. All I wanted to do was hurt her as much as she hurt me when she took that bloody git McLaggan to that blasted Christmas Party. Well, that royally backfired and bit me right in the arse.
Only a stupid prat like I am could’ve even contemplated such a stupid thing. And I nearly lost her over it, too. She wouldn’t even be my friend anymore. She wouldn’t talk to me and although Lavender hovered around me way too often and Harry was still my mate, I missed her. My life was empty and I’ve never felt lonelier. Funny really, how I had to almost die for her to speak with me again. When she did, I thought she realized she had feelings for me. You know, like they always said—you never know what you had ‘til it’s gone.
I actually enjoyed being with her and thought she enjoyed being with me on her visits to the Hospital Wing. We laughed together and even worked together when she brought the homework to me. A couple of times I bit my tongue in order not to tell her how I felt and wondered why ever I got sorted into Gryffindor. I wasn’t half as brave as that blasted hat thought I was, if I couldn’t even tell the girl of my dreams how I felt about her.
However she never gave any sign of liking me more than a friend or a brother she never had. Yes, I saw her glare at Lavender but I put it down to rivalry between the girls that didn’t have anything to do with me. After all, they never truly struck me as friends and they are so different I couldn’t really imagine Hermione befriending her. Even I got bored with her not so intelligent conversations about the latest gossip of who went out with whom and why and when. I usually shut her up with a snog. What else was there to do anyway?
I tried concentrating on my essay on Dementors for Snape. It should’ve been rather simple, really with all that went on in our third year, yet I couldn’t keep my mind on it. Harry and Hermione were arguing again. I loved watching her argue. Her eyes lit up and her cheeks took on a pretty rosy colour as she made her points and apparently got frustrated by Harry’s replies. I didn’t actually listen to what they were saying. I was too busy trying not to openly stare at her.
Hermione turned to me while speaking and I quickly looked down on my parchment, pretending to be writing my essay when I noticed that the word ‘belligerent’ looked rather weird to me. What in the name of Merlin was I writing? I was nearly sure that it wasn’t spelled that way. Stupid Quick Spell Check Quill. I shook it violently while blurting out how to spell that damn word correctly.
Hermione confirmed that it was indeed misspelled and reached over to pull my essay towards her. Did she have any idea what she was doing to me? Having her so close to me drove me mad. It made the hair in the back of my neck stand up, in an all too pleasant way, and my heart beat faster. I vaguely hear her ask me what quill I use and I answer her as if detached from myself. Which I probably was at that time. I couldn’t seem to string even one coherent sentence together.
Then, she pointed out that my whole essay was riddled with spelling mistakes and I was horrified. This meant I spent the last hour or so writing a useless essay, and for Snape to boot!
“Ah, no!” I exclaimed, but she answered that she would be able to fix it for me. That’s when it happened. Merlin, those words that I never thought I would be able to say to her. The ones that I knew I had to keep secret from her. Only I could’ve been so daft to just let them slip out.
“I love you, Hermione.”
My heart stopped, then raced. I groaned inwardly as the seconds ticked by and I didn’t get the reaction I wanted. I groaned inwardly and sank back into my armchair, rubbing my eyes. I am ashamed to admit that tears suddenly stung my eyes. I never knew it could hurt so much to be in love.
When she spoke, my heart stopped again and I hoped that maybe she would say what I so desperately wanted to hear, no matter how scared I was about the consequences. But she merely brought Lavender back into the equation and told me not to let her hear me say those words to Hermione.
“I won’t,” I assured her, meaning that I won’t ever tell Lavender those three words that I had exclusively reserved for Hermione. Then, another idea formed. Maybe, if I did let her overhear me say those words to Hermione she’d end things and I didn’t have to do it.
I must’ve thought out loud as Harry barged in asking why I wouldn’t end it if I didn’t want to be with Lavender. I glanced at Hermione while I tried to make Harry understand that it wasn’t that easy. Who was he to talk anyway? I really did wish Lavender and I would just fall apart like he and Cho had. As I said this to him I watched Hermione who still silently tapped her wand at my essay, fixing it for me.
Watching her, I waited for a reaction from her, any reaction to what I was telling Harry. So I continued to tell Harry how clingy she got whenever I so much as hinted that I wanted to end things with her. And again, for just a fleeting moment, I thought I saw a ghost of a smile play around Hermione’s full, pink lips. How I longed to kiss those. I hoped that smile was for me but it was gone so fast I started to doubt it had ever been there.
I could watch her forever. Her fixing my essay gave me the opportunity to do so, if only under pretences, but that would have to do until I found the courage to ditch Lavender and ask her out. It would change everything. It would potentially jeopardize our friendship and that with Harry. So I taught myself to be happy to have her back in my life, even if only as my friend.
Once she was finished fixing my spelling mistakes she handed me back my essay and I borrowed her quill to finish it. I only needed to write one last paragraph yet I couldn’t concentrate. My mind spun and my whole body was on fire. When Hermione handed me her quill our fingers touched and lingered for just a few seconds longer than necessary. That time, I was sure I didn’t just imagine it. I could see it from the blush in her face. Maybe I did affect her after all?
With my hopes raised and my heart thumping wildly in my chest I smiled for the first time ever as I finished one of Snape’s essays.
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