Chapter 1 : 2 Lives, 2 Loves, 1 Choice
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“I’ve said it before, but this is the last chance you get. If you want to back out, now is the-” His words were interrupted, which wasn’t altogether surprising.
“No, Harry! We’ve had loads of chances and every time we tell you that we’re not going anywhere. I’m not leaving you, and neither is Ron.” Hermione punctuated her statement with a firm grip on Harry’s shoulder. Harry gulped and nodded, then turned with a steely expression settling on his face, preparing to make his move. Hermione swallowed in her dry throat, gripped her wand nervously and exchanged a glance with Ron. He squeezed her free hand in his, trying to reassure her.
“Now!” Harry whispered, jumping up and running along the path that they knew led straight to Voldemort and his most loyal minions.
“Ron, why can’t you just admit that I’m right about this?!” Hermione shouted, huffing and pacing in front of the fire at Grimmauld Place. She expected Ron to yell something back, arguing his own point, but his response surprised her. He was smirking.
“What are you laughing at?” she barked. He drew nearer to her, his smirk fading into an amused expression. Another step closer. That look was on his face.
“Ron…” Hermione warned, attempting to back away but realising she was trapped by the fireplace.
“Haven’t you worked out yet why I like arguing with you, seeing you all hot and bothered?” His voice was gruff and, could it be, sexy? Hermione felt a faint shiver race down her spine.
“You… you… but… but I…” Her brain and mouth were not connecting.
“Your cheeks flush and your eyes blaze and… I want you all the more.” He had continued taking closer steps until they were near enough to start snogging. Hermione tried to remember what it was she had been right about and he had been wrong about, but the memory was getting stuck somewhere along the way. All she could think of was his smoldering gaze, the heat from his body, and the wet lips only inches from her own.
It was instantaneous.
Their lips crashed together and in typical Ron-and-Hermione fashion they were snogging like crazy, fighting for entry into each other’s mouths, and hands racing along arms and shoulders and waists. His body was against hers and, Merlin, she loved the feeling. And his red hair, it felt so soft in her fingers and his lips felt so perfect on her skin and that scent, whatever the heck it was, it drove her mental. A whiff of it would ruin her for the next half hour, and here she was indulging in it shamelessly.
She moaned against his mouth and he doubled his efforts, his hands tangling in her hair, snagging once almost painfully. What was it they had been arguing about?
Going with Harry.
With a great effort, she forced Ron to give her some space and she gulped in fresh air, her mind fighting against the urges inside and instead putting together the very serious decision they had to make.
“Ron, as much as I enjoy that, we have to talk about this. I am not letting him go alone, no matter how many times he keeps trying to do so. We are standing with him. If you don’t feel it’s right, then you can stay back here and do the Order’s bidding, but I, for one, am following Harry, even if I am going alone. My loyalty lies with Harry, first and foremost, above the Order, and I promised I would stick with him through to the end.” She knew her cheeks were still flushed with heat, but it was now a mix of hormones and passionate determination.
Ron nodded slightly, putting a respectable distance between them and running a hand through his hair.
“You know Harry’s my first priority. I just don’t know sometimes. He seems so adamant to shrug us off at times, I wonder if honestly… you know, if it’s harder on him if we’re there? But… But I think you’re probably right… I would do anything Harry asked. But I don’t understand when he asks for us to stay behind.”
“I can’t stay behind.”
“I know. Look, we’ll talk to him tonight.”
“All right,” Hermione agreed. She smiled and they took a few steps toward one another, slowly embracing in a hug that safely kept their lips apart. The conversation would surely bode to be a difficult one with Harry.
“CRUCIO!” The cold snake-like voice bellowed the curse and Harry’s screams echoed. Hermione cast a Stunning spell at a Death Eater who ducked and injured himself in the fall. Seeing her opportunity, she turned and shot a hex at Voldemort. It hadn’t hit him but it did break his Cruciatus curse.
Harry regained his footing, dodging spells from Voldemort. Hermione was hit in the leg with a Cutting Spell and turned to find the Death Eater bearing down upon her again. Her leg collapsed under her weight and she shot a jinx back, watching the enemy’s legs as they began moving uncontrollably. She quickly performed a shallow Healing Spell on herself and was standing up right again just as her opponent had thrown off the jinx.
Finally Hermione stunned her Death Eater. A quick glance at Ron showed him holding his own with his very own Death Eater. Then Harry’s screams rang through the air again. Another Cruciatus Curse.
“STOP IT, STOP IT!” Hermione screamed, rushing toward Harry and Voldemort, and casting every hex and spell she could think of. Voldemort managed to hold his curse on Harry while deflecting Hermione’s spells. After far too many minutes of hearing Harry’s earth-shattering screams, one of Hermione’s spells finally broke the curse and Voldemort stumbled back, then cast angry eyes at Hermione.
“You dare interfere with the Dark Lord and the Chosen One, you filthy Mudblood?” he sneered evilly.
“I dare! I dare a million times over! You can’t have him!” Hermione bellowed, punctuating her claim with a hex. It was blocked.
“Is that so? Shall I concentrate on you, instead?” The sneer was full of hatred. Harry’s eyes were peeking up at her as he slowly raised his body.
“Don’t, Hermione,” he whispered.
“Want to save your girlfriend, Potter?” Voldemort growled. Hermione threw another spell but it was blocked too. Without waiting for Harry’s answer, Voldemort pointed his want straight at Hermione’s heart.
Hermione found herself in a familiar place, though how she had gotten to be there was entirely unknown to her. The Hospital Wing. Now really, they hadn’t returned to Hogwarts after sixth year. What was she doing there?
“Now dear, sit up and drink every drop of this potion, and you’ll be just fine. A little sore, I’m sure, but no lasting affects.” Madam Pomfrey handed her a purple bottle with an unrecognisable inscription on it, and Hermione sat up on the bed, swinging her legs over the side as she downed the entire bottle. It was disgusting.
She remembered this. Slowly it was coming back to her. It was a memory from several months ago. They had been holding a training session for an upcoming battle. It was like Dumbledore’s Army, except since she, Harry, and Ron had not been at Hogwarts, the entire organisation had grown and been rendered even more covert than it had been their fifth year.
And Hermione had been leading the session that day. One of the students’ aim had been so off. He had really struggled. And somewhere in her mind Hermione recalled getting hit with a spell that had been performed wrong and had gone terribly astray. The best place to take her, at the time, seemed to be the Hogwarts’ infirmary.
Now that she was sitting on the bed, staring around the room, she remembered the entire scene. Any moment now Ron would come rushing through the doors, a deep look of concern on his face. He would hold her and worry over her and laugh when he realised she was fine. Then, later that week, they would finally discuss everything they had been meaning to for years.
The doors of the Hospital Wing crashed open and there he stood.
But it wasn’t Ron.
It was Harry.
The worried, concerned expression was there, but it was edged with a burden and responsibility. He was breathing heavily, and it looked like his heart might have stopped. Hermione stared, utterly bewildered.
This was not how her memory should go. It was a memory. Memories couldn’t change. Harry had stayed behind at a meeting with the Order and had trusted Ron to go and see to Hermione. Harry had seen her that night when she returned to Grimmauld Place, and he had been concerned in the utmost. Hermione, however, had understood the position he was in and hadn’t minded in the least that he couldn’t race to her side to check on her.
But there he was.
He took quick, long strides across the room and was by her bed, standing immediately in front of her.
“I was so worried,” he whispered.
“You… you were?” Hermione asked, confused.
“All I heard was there was an accident and you were hurt… You’re never hurt. I was going to send Ron. I had a meeting but… Hang it, I wanted to come myself. For once I wanted to set aside my position and instead just be a friend, just…. Ron stayed behind for me at the meeting. I was so afraid of what had happened.” There was a strong look of concern and care etched onto his face. She had seen it before, but it was unexpected at the moment.
“It’s… it’s nothing, Harry. Just a spell gone wrong. It hurt a lot, don’t get me wrong. But I’m all patched up.” Harry looked her over uncertainly.
“I promise, I’m fine now.” She placed a hand on his shoulder to try and make her point sink in. “I took this potion, see. Madam Pomfrey told me by tonight I shouldn’t feel a thing any more.” A brief pain shot through her side just then and she winced. Harry grabbed her arms, steadying her listing.
“Er, just the aftershocks.” She smiled feebly.
“I’m, I’m so glad you’re okay. I was worried. I…” he stared into her eyes, then down at her knees, then at the bed. His gaze was roaming every where and Hermione knew that expression.
“What is it, Harry?” she prodded, lifting his chin to look at her.
“I was just…” He looked into her eyes and seemed to be building the courage to say what was on his mind. “Sometimes this whole Order stuff, all the training and missions, it just seems abstract at times. Then something happens and even if it’s no big deal, the possibility becomes so real and it hits you in the face and you realise that anything could happen at any time and we’ve got to do things and say things, and we might not get another chance…”
“Harry! What are you on about?” His speech was fast and his train of thought hard to follow.
“I know you’re here, and you’re fine now, I see that.” He took a step closer to her, and his waist settled between her knees where her legs were dangling off the bed. “But when I heard you were hurt, my mind immediately jumped to… to the possibility… I mean, we’re fighting Death Eaters and Lord Voldemort. Who’s to say any of us will live through all this? I just kept thinking, what if you had been killed? What if that moment comes and it’s real?” He ran a shaky hand through his hair.
“I… I don’t know what I’d do, Hermione. You’ve been through everything with me. You’ve believed me and supported me when no one else would. You were even there at times when Ron wasn’t. You’d do anything for me, and I know that, and I’ve even seen it. Whether it’s fighting along side me, riding on invisible creatures or hippogriffs scaring the life out of you, breaking rules for me, defending me, or telling me something harsh because it’s true and I need to hear it and no one else will do it... My mind just raced through all these memories of you and… and I just thought… what if you’re not there any more? How could I live through a future without you?”
“I’ve been so thick, Hermione. I would tease Ron about not realising you were a girl. And I’d look at other girls and think about who I liked or who was pretty. We’d talk about it in the boy’s dorms. And the whole time you were right there in front of me. Or, next to me, really. I… I don’t know exactly what your feelings are, Hermione.” His speech broke for a moment, then he swallowed, obviously thinking and trying to put everything together as it spilled from his mouth.
“I can look back over the last few years and see clearly that you love me. You care about me. I don’t know how far your love and care extend… but it just hit me like a train, I don’t know what I’d do without you… I… I think…” His voice fell to a whisper. “I think I love you… I mean, I know I lo.. love you, but maybe I’m.. I’m in love… maybe you’re the one… I just think-”
Hermione placed a hand against his lips, taking mercy on his gibbering and stopping him. He locked eyes with her. This was not her memory. Whatever this was, some alternate universe, it wasn’t what was supposed to happen. Ron was supposed to come and take care of her and bring her home. Harry would see her that night and say how worried he was, how sorry he was, but his speech would sound much different, more simple and less emotional. Whatever this was, it wasn’t her memory. Would it hurt to… to indulge?
“Harry… I… I don’t know what to say.”
“Tell me… tell me how you feel. I know I’ve gone and blurted out everything… I know you and Ron… well, I dunno if you’ll ever get it together after last year, or even if you want to... So maybe I’ve just gone mental. If, if, you know, you don’t… or there’s Ron or… well, I’ll be okay. See, I’ve got this whole saving-the-world thing going on, so I won’t have time to be sad or awkward around you. But… if I went my whole life, short though I realise it might be, and I never told you, or never asked you, well I might let something slip by…”
“Harry, I… I think I might love you too.”
Did she say that? Did she really just admit that? No, it couldn’t be happening this way. Harry had enough on his plate. Hermione enjoyed time with Ron. This shouldn’t be happening.
“I think… Hang it all, I do love you Harry. I just always thought… well… You weren’t interested and we make a good team and I’m happy to just be there for you, anything you needed… Even if it means standing aside for other girls to love you….”
No, she couldn’t be saying this out loud!
“Hermione… I know this is the worst possible timing, but I may not have forever, not even a normal life time. I know, you told me to stop acting that way. But I can’t help but feel the end coming, or at least threatening. Even if I only get a few months with you, it would be a few months that I would take the chance on…”
“I think it’s worth it,” she cut in quietly.
Harry’s eyes were stuck on hers and they were enchanting. The seconds ticked by as Harry leaned closer to her. His breath was tickling her lips and her whole body was screaming for contact. Was this really happening? Was she really about to kiss Harry? Harry? Her Harry?
She leaned into his lips and they finally connected. Whatever she had expected, it hadn’t been the spark that zinged between them, igniting something big and raw and passionate. Her hands creeped into his unruly hair, entangling in it as she leaned her upper body against his. His tongue was dancing across her lips and she couldn’t get over the blissfulness of his kiss and the skill with which he could make her insides melt and her knees go weak. Good thing she was sitting.
Harry’s arms wrapped around her waist and he tilted his head, snogging her passionately. Passion, Harry had always had passion. He was passionate in his sports, passionate in his anger, passionate in his loyalty, passionate about doing the right thing. And he was passionate in kissing. Unthinking, Hermione slipped her legs around his waist and found his body flush against hers, chests heaving for more air, minds overloaded with the intensity.
He pulled away, gasping.
“H-Harry,” she stuttered, nonplussed at the emotions racing inside her. She had just snogged her best friend.
Harry reached his hand up and caressed her face. She saw now his flushed cheeks and wet lips. He gently placed a kiss on her cheek and smiled shyly at her. She couldn’t help but return it.
“I know, Harry.” Hermione nodded. He didn’t easily talk about his emotions, and what he had expressed already had been more than enough.
“I can’t believe this. I never thought…” Hermione trailed off quietly, shaking her head and pulling at her shirt to smooth herself out and disentangle from Harry, trying to keep some respectable posture.
“Me, either. So you’ll… we can…” He was so cute when he didn’t know how to say what he was thinking.
“Yes.” It didn’t matter. She usually could decipher what he was thinking.
“But what about… Ron?”
“We’ll talk to him. He and I have already talked some. We were both pretty hurt last year, pretty uncertain about what we wanted… And… something just feels right, Harry. I… I would never admit to myself anything before. I mean, you were always my friend. I cared about you immensely… but, this… now… Harry, I know what I feel for you is different than what I feel for anyone else. I convinced myself that it was just because we were so close, our friendship, and because I wanted to help you so much… But… I know… I mean…”
Harry’s turn now to silence her with a simple kiss. They both smiled.
It wasn’t long before Harry was allowed to take her home, and they entered Grimmauld Place hand-in-hand.
“Harry, what’s wrong?” Hermione asked intuitively. He was in that posture that belied his inner conflict, and his hand was rubbing his forehead, foot kicking out of nervous uncertainty.
“What?” He looked up, trying to smile as he watched her approach. He was in the library, probably milling over notes and tactics, trying to work out the next move.
“I asked you what’s wrong. Something’s bothering you.” Hermione slid a hand onto his shoulder and rubbed lovingly, hoping her touch would ease out an answer.
“I was just thinking…”
“Of course you were. About what?” She moved to stand in front of him, and leaned against the desk, waiting expectantly. Finally his face lifted and his eyes met hers.
“I’m sitting here working out the two missions we’ve got coming up. I’ve got the Order’s plans and I’m just helping with the final details. And I come across one of the harder decisions. Do you know how hard it is for me to figure out which mission to send you on? And Ron, for that matter?” He looked very care worn and his eyes were begging her to understand. Hermione remained silent and offered a sympathetic gaze.
“What I really want to do is lock you both up in some safe house far away from everything. I know. I can’t, and you won’t let me. You’re standing beside me, come what may. You’ve told me. Still, it’s hard. I want you there, next to me. But I want you safe, away from what I know is going to happen….” He sighed and rubbed his face, obviously looking defeated in his endeavor.
“I know you want to protect me, Harry, but you know as well as I do that I can’t just hide away some where. Imagine if our positions were reversed and I was trying to protect you from battles?”
Harry smirked. “Never.”
“I know you think your life isn’t as important, that you’re meant to be endangered and you’d sooner see yourself hurt or killed than see it happened to Ron or me… But Harry, you’re important to us, to me. It might be no big deal to you, to take your own life in your hands, but it’s scary to me. I know you’ll be dangerous and reckless, and you’ll go to any lengths to get the job done. I never know, when you leave, if that mission will be the last, and you’ll be gone. It goes both ways, Harry. That’s why we just have to keep fighting, and end this charade so everyone can finally live happily, no more looking over our shoulders…
“You know, there was something I read once, ‘There has been much tragedy in my life; at least half of it actually happened.’ I guess that’s how I feel about our lives. I know it’s dangerous and we never know what next tragedy is coming, but at least we’re living it… Neither one of us could ever just stand aside and watch someone else in our places…
“I know you don’t like choosing where to send me, thinking that if I get hurt, it would somehow be your fault, but that’s a lie Harry. You’ll ruin yourself if you keep up with that kind of thinking. Don’t do it, Harry. Just, consider me one of the Order, just like anyone else….”
“But… I can’t. You’re right, I know it. But… you’re the one person… you and Ron both… but you… I…”
“Harry, don’t say it. Look, just flip a coin and stick us in whatever missions we get. No harm done.” She smiled down at him and he tried to return the smile.
Hermione’s heart went out to him. She had always known that these sorts of things were hard for him. It never helped that he felt every little decision, every mistake, every injury, or every problem was linked to him, was his fault or his responsibility. Taking pity on his distraught form, Hermione reached out a hand into his magnetising black hair and gently stroked her fingers through the strands and along his scalp. His eyes closed and he breathed out.
She kept up the gentle stroking motion until he leaned closer to her, placed both his hands on her hips and pulled her directly in front of him. He rested his head against her stomach and just sat there, breathing and thinking for a few moments. Hermione continued to lazily slide her fingers through the locks, taking care to try and memorise every piece of hair and the slight highlights that fell on some strands.
Slowly Harry pulled his head away from her and tilted his face up, gazing into her eyes and studying her face. He was giving her that look. She knew it. She loved it. It made her all fluttery inside. Who knew green eyes could be so bright and yet so dark? The corner of Hermione’s mouth raised slightly, and she slid her hands down to cradle his face.
In a motion perfected by habit and repetition, Hermione leaned down to Harry and climbed easily into his lap, finally eye level with him as they continued their long gaze. It didn’t matter what missions or battles were coming, so long as she could get lost in the deep sea of bright green. Harry shifted under her, and pulled his arms around her back.
Hermione tilted her head and breathed in his scent, filling her mind with a hazy ecstasy as her lips met his, and she kissed him slow and gentle with care and tenderness. His lips moved with hers and they took their time on the tender moment, allowing passion to wait for another time when their hearts weren’t so care worn. Hermione wrapped her arms around Harry’s shoulders and neck, letting her fingers play in his hair.
He was so soft and small and weak beneath her. He was just a boy, just a man, struggling to be what the world expected of him. He was living up to it fabulously, but in these moments, she felt him, felt what he felt.
He didn’t feel like a powerful wizard or a savior for the world. He just felt like a boy thrust into shoes too big for him, asked to complete a task that seemed impossible, and which promised to destroy everything he loved. And her heart ached for him. Her hands and lips worked to remove it all, to wipe it all away, to take it on herself if she had to. Whatever it took so that it was gone. It was moments like these when she just wanted him to be hers. Forget the Order, the world, Voldemort, Hogwarts, his past, everything. It could all be gladly lost if, just in these moments, he could be free to love and be loved.
Parting mutually, they sighed against one another, and Hermione slid down his body until her head was resting on his shoulder. She pulled her arms around his waist and settled herself hugging against him, working to convey her complete acceptance of him and devotion to him.
“I… I love you, Hermione. And I.. I need you.” It was a barely audible whisper, but she heard it. She felt it.
Hermione lifted her head to look him in the eyes. There was a connection between them, and then she spoke slowly. “I know. It goes both ways.” After a kiss on his cheek, she rested against him again, and they sat together. They just sat, and breathed, and thought, and sat.
He was nervous and riled, pacing his bedroom and shifting in ways that indicated his racing thoughts.
Harry and the Order had announced to everyone that day that the final battle was to take place tomorrow. They would bring out every single ally they could and everyone together would put up the largest assault they could imagine. And in the midst of it was Harry’s chance to find Voldemort and kill him. All the Horcruxes were gone, and all that remained was his one life, if it could be called that. Harry knew the spell he was to use, something that Dumbledore had left behind after his death that would allow Harry to destroy Voldemort without using an Unforgivable. Harry, Ron, and Hermione had worked it out together and she understood what he had to do. But she didn’t want to think about that now. This was it, the last few hours before the final battle, what they hoped with all of their hope was the final battle.
Harry stopped pacing and stared at Hermione. He had seen her. He smiled faintly, looked down, then back up.
“You’re nervous,” Hermione stated.
“Yeah. It all happens. Tomorrow.” He nodded, taking a few steps toward her.
“Are you scared?”
“You know the answer to that.” He stared at her evenly.
“Are you scared?” he asked, scratching his neck and awaiting her reply.
“Yes,” Hermione admitted softly.
She would confess her fear to few people, probably solely to Harry and Ron. There were many things that only had their proper place between the three of them. As much as Harry and Hermione had grown closer, still there was a distinct place in their lives for Ron. It was just as large and important of a place as it had always been. He had been fine with their relationship, though it had taken a few stages before everything was completely comfortable. Yet Harry and Hermione were not the kind to flaunt a relationship in front of everyone. Especially not when tensions and stress were all running so high anyway.
“You’ll be fine,” Harry promised, as though it was in his power to do so. He was probably trying to convince himself of that fact as much as he was Hermione. She knew if he didn’t force himself to believe it, he would have a hard time going into the battle in a proper state of mind.
“I know. So will you. We’ll all be okay. This will be the end.” Hermione smiled with a strong hope, willing it to be infectious.
“You and Ron have that diversion down, right? You’re clear and ready for the plan?” Harry asked.
“Yeah, we’ve got it. And we’ve got you. But I don’t want to talk about the battle, Harry.” She sighed and gazed at him. They had talked and talked and debated and discussed. They all knew their parts and all that was left was to do the thing. Tonight she just wanted to enjoy the last few hours, just in case… Just in case they were her last… or his… or…
Hermione brushed away a pesky persistent tear, waving at the air in front of her eyes to will the companions to stay back. Harry didn’t miss the motion. He was before her in a flash and had his arms wrapped around her. Hermione forced the thoughts away and successfully willed away the tears threatening to release. She snuggled into Harry and pulled her arms around his waist, breathing in his scent and wishing this moment could extend forever, delaying the danger that threatened over the horizon.
Wordlessly and so smoothly that Hermione didn’t realise it happened, Harry guided them over to his bed and they both sat down, leaning on one another and craving both the tender and the passionate affections.
His lips were on her cheek, then along her jawline and against her neck and throat. She had ahold of his hair and was struggling to quiet her moans. His hand slid carefully under her shirt and rested against the bare skin of her stomach.
“Harry,” Hermione murmured. His lips were on hers again and they were letting tenderness and passion melt together into a give and take, soft and hard, gentle and rough. Both love and need were present and working together. This couldn’t be their last night, not the end, it couldn’t be…
Hermione’s breath sped up and her heart squeezed under the pressure of the thought. Unnoticed tears leaked from her eyes again and melted against Harry’s lips. He pulled away and gazed at her but Hermione pulled him close again. She didn’t want to talk about it. She just wanted to hold him, kiss him, love him, be held, kissed, and loved.
Harry’s thumbs wiped away the few tears that trickled along her cheeks. He pulled away again but immediately went to work showering her face with soft, sweet kisses. A kiss to her forehead, her brow, her cheeks. Another to her nose, the corner of her mouth, her chin. Along her jaw, to her ears, and down her neck. Her pulse and breath were racing and she fought for control of her senses. Was it possible to pass out purely from bliss?
Hands with minds of their own tucked under Harry’s shirt and in a quick motion he was suddenly shirtless, pressed against her. They had never removed clothing before, and just as Hermione had always suspected, it did add a little something to the spice and heat of the exchange. Her fingertips slid along his skin, feeling him shudder beneath her touch.
Touch, it was a thing to marvel at. So much could be accomplished with touch.
Harry’s hand was rising slowly underneath her shirt and Hermione knew she was nervous. Her mind was torn between kissing and his rising hand. She wondered if he could read her so well, when he paused and looked at her. He tugged at her shirt, a silent plea that she let him remove it. Feeling overwhelmed but wanting to continue, she nodded slightly, biting her lip, and let him pull it off, neither watching to see where it landed.
His hands were roaming over every inch of her bare skin and she trembled under his touch, barely able to continue breathing under the intensity of nerves dancing underneath her skin. She leaned forward and claimed his lips again, forcing her tongue inside his mouth. He groaned and his hands stilled as he paid more mind to what she was doing against his mouth.
How they ended up lying on the bed was easy to imagine. It only took a good lean backward to find oneself on their back.
Harry was leaned over her, still gliding his hands along her skin, still placing kisses wherever he could. Let this moment last forever. Let it never end. Not possible. Then let us repeat this moment over and over, and over, and over, and over and over…
Hermione gave a start when she felt Harry’s hands at her jeans, tugging slightly. His hands were shaking and he had the button undone and wasn’t paying attention to her expression as he worked at the zip. Too slow for her liking, Hermione’s hands finally found his and took ahold, stilling his fingers and forcing him to look up at her.
“Harry, I… I…” She wasn’t sure how to say it. And she was worried. Was that really what he wanted? His fingers completely released her jeans and he pulled his hands away from hers.
“I’m sorry…” He mumbled, a deep flush rising in his cheeks. Hermione grabbed his face and pulled his lips down so she could kiss them.
“I just… I don’t think… I don’t know if I’m ready for that.” She whispered the words but felt silly hearing them leave her mouth. She was being stupid.
“It’s okay. I don’t know that I am either,” Harry murmured. “I, er, I thought maybe you wanted… You know, tomorrow we fight, and… and who knows. I thought maybe you would want…”
Hermione slid a finger against his lips and stared into his eyes.
“You’re not just saying that?” she asked curiously.
“N-no… I don’t think… but I mean if you want… It’s pretty simple to work out. And I can… I just thought… But I don’t know. I feel so many things…”
“Harry, can we just… just be together?”
“Yeah.” Harry let out a huge sigh and every ounce of tension left his body. He relaxed against her, letting his forehead rest against hers. He said it with his eyes, even if he didn’t voice it.
They were soon curled up, Hermione held tightly under his arm and clinging to his body as they lay together thinking, talking, sometimes kissing. If only this moment could last forever and never end.
Indeed, the tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it.
“KEDAV-” All at once Voldemort’s voice was piercing the darkness and Hermione saw him real and solid before her, intent on her destruction. She could say nothing. This was it.
“AUGH!” The final voice echoed off her ears much closer than the rest. It was followed by a body that flew through the air, racing to intercept the green jet of light coming straight for her.
“No! Don’t!” Hermione screamed, finding her voice in that split second before the green light found its mark on his body, and he fell on top of her with a thud. All the breath left Hermione and she struggled under his weight, screaming and crying.
“Hermione!” Ron was calling for her, but from the same directions she heard grunts and spells. He was fighting off another Death Eater. She focused on the weight on top of her, struggling to push him off. He had protected her; he had given his life for her. She could never repay him.
“Let me help you,” Ron whispered blankly, finally leaning by her side and pulling the brunette off of her. The dead weight slid onto the ground and Hermione clambered up, holding onto Ron for support as tears continued falling.
“It’s okay,” Ron whispered, pulling his arms around her and holding her head tenderly. But there was no time for tears on a battle field. There was work to be done. And she distinctly heard Harry’s voice calling out another spell in the distance. She gave a final glance at Neville Longbottom’s still form, his sacrifice, then she and Ron started following the voices to the continued battle.
Voldemort was still throwing Unforgivables at Harry, but they were missing or being deflected. Harry was covered in sweat and grime, a few wounds and streaks of blood scattered about his body and clothing. But he was still alive, and still fighting.
“Relashio!” Ron and Hermione both ducked, barely escaping the spell. They turned and defended themselves against the aggressive Death Eaters. They were so close. If Harry could only pull off the spell…
Finally stunning their opponents, Ron and Hermione looked around for Harry, but he was nowhere to be seen. Fear raced through Hermione and the worst possible images flashed through her mind.
Then without warning a thunderous white light erupted along the horizon and an almighty roar burst along in echo, shaking the very foundations of the earth. Ron and Hermione both fell to their knees and covered their ears. The sky darkened and the field felt empty and silent. Then light fell again, as though clouds had merely obstructed the sun. All was still.
“Er…” Ron mumbled, slowly rising to his feet. Hermione followed him and they continued their progress looking for Harry. No spells were flying. No enemies popped out to attack them. Then, a faint and agonising groaning could be heard.
“It’s him!” Hermione whispered frantically, more to herself than to Ron. They began running toward the voice but ran headlong into the bedraggled forms of Mad Eye Moody and Professor McGonagall.
“I know that’s Harry! Let us through!” Hermione demanded. She was not above forcing her away against her former Professors.
“Yeah!” Ron echoed. In the distance Hermione spotted Lupin crouched over a form on the ground.
“Harry!” Hermione screamed. Lupin’s gaze lifted to her.
“I think he’ll be all right,” Lupin called over hoarsely.
“Let us through!” she demanded to the professors again.
“Minerva, Moody, they’re fine,” Lupin said from behind them. With a strained stare, Professor McGonagall allowed them.
“Is he…?” Ron began to ask the question but stopped short.
“Harry,” Hermione whimpered. Then slowly they saw Lupin helping him sit up.
“He’s okay,” Lupin said gently.
Somewhere in an undercurrent of Hermione’s thoughts, she realised that Voldemort was gone. He was nowhere to be seen. Harry had pulled off the spell. He had done it. He had won. But he looked terrible. Would he survive whatever backlash had railed against him in the aftermath?
Lupin slowly raised Harry to his feet, holding hands near him while Harry’s unsteady form began to list to the side. His balance was slow in coming. Then his gaze rose up to the faces of his two friends, and he smiled weakly.
“Oh, Harry!” Hermione cried, then flew the last few feet towards him. In an instant she had him wrapped in a huge hug, finally at peace to feel his body against hers again. Then she pulled her face away from his, stared into his weakly happy green eyes, and she kissed him hard and good.
Harry’s mouth was still beneath hers. In her ears echoed Ron’s voice.
“Hermione?!” Ron sounded utterly bewildered and squeaky.
She pressed her lips harder against Harry’s and slid a hand into his hair. With effort she pried his mouth open and snogged him fervently, finally pulling some kind of response from him, small and confused though it was.
“What’re you doing, Hermione?” Ron’s voice was beckoning to her again.
She pulled away from Harry’s lips and stared into his face again. She studied him through misty eyes. She didn’t notice Lupin’s amused shock nor Ron’s flustered motions behind her. All she saw was the confusion and amazement in Harry’s eyes.
“I… I love you,” she cried softly, then hugged him tightly again. She didn’t want to let him go, but she knew she had to. Somehow her dream memory couldn’t have just been a dream. It had to be real. She loved both her boys, but what she had with Harry, or what she could have had, or… well, it had to be real. She wanted it to be.
“Hermione, why are you kissing Harry?” Ron asked, confusion and hurt frustration layering his words.
“I… I…” She slid away from Harry, restraining her hands from holding on to him. Harry was still watching her with a peculiar expression. If she had to guess, he didn’t seem entirely unpleased with his congratulations.
“Yeah?” Ron prodded. Hermione’s shoulders drooped and her face fell. How could she explain this?
“It’s complicated, see… I…” No matter how she worked out trying to explain it, it didn’t sound very good.
“Hermione,” Ron called her name. He said it in such a way that it drew her eyes to his. It was the voice he used when he had something very serious and important to say to her. It was also tender and sympathetic.
“You… I mean… we’re not working are we? You care about me, but something’s missing?” He was waiting for her response, which was merely the omission of a negative answer.
“And, you have a thing for Harry now?” Ron had a strange look on him. It was a confused look of resignation, yet not one of depression.
The whole scene felt, and probably looked, rather absurd as they stood discussing relationship statuses just after their mortal enemy had been defeated and they should have been jumping up and down shouting for joy.
“I… I had this dream… but it was a memory. But it wasn’t real, more like a vision. But it was Harry, and it wasn’t you, and then I… but I thought he was hurt or killed, and then…” Hermione was fumbling everything that might have made sense.
“I don’t understand a thing you just said.” The three of them stood there staring at each other for a moment, disregarding the nearby professors.
Ron breathed an amused breath, laced with reluctant acceptance. “Dad said once… ‘The magic of our first love is the ignorance that it will never end.’ I, uh… I’m gonna go find my brothers and Dad, and make sure everyone’s okay. And I’m going to celebrate the defeat of the worst wizard known to the world in my lifetime, and I expect we’ll all be thoroughly knackered later on with celebration… And then, some time later, I suppose we should talk…
“I’m just glad you did it, mate. Glad it’s over. Glad we’re all alive.” Ron’s voice was soft and his eyes seemed rather hazy with suppressed tears. He and Harry exchanged a long and understanding gaze. Then Ron glanced at Hermione, smiled faintly, then he sighed and his whole body followed suit.
Hermione watched as Ron turned to follow Lupin as they went to find his brothers. Lupin shot another bemused expression toward Hermione before he was out of eyesight. Moody and McGonagall had started surveying the grounds for bodies and survivors, roping up and transporting fallen and captured Death Eaters.
“Harry…” Hermione turned to him. He was watching her carefully and appeared very interested in whatever she had to say.
“I know this might be… w-weird… But… I… well…”
“Why’d you kiss me?” he asked with a raised eyebrow. She noticed he was holding his side protectively and balancing gingerly on his shaky legs.
“I… Because I wanted to… Because I love you.”
She could not have really just said that. Just out and said it like it was something she said every day.
“You do?” He was surprised and hopeful. She smiled and leaned closer to him.
“I do… I want to… I want you. I know I’m with Ron, but I can’t stay with him when I see so clearly that I have to be with you, that I want to be, that I need to be. I can’t not be… unless… unless, I mean, you don’t…” It had all been a dream memory. It wasn’t real. Her mind had been duped by something false. Harry hadn’t done and said all those things…
“I think… I think I lo- love you too,” he whispered. Then he took a deep breath, as though disbelieving he had said it. Hermione smiled, recalling the words from her memory.
“But I… you were with Ron... And I was okay. Just friends, it’s okay.” He was mumbling.
“It’s not okay. I don’t want to just be your friend, Harry. Ron loves us, and we’ll all be okay, I just know it.” She remembered how Ron had taken it so well in her memory. “But I don’t want to be your friend any more.” And with that, she kissed him forcefully, holding a hand to his neck and keeping his lips against hers.
Ron had indeed been okay with it. As much as he loved Hermione, it was a kind of love that changed and grew over time. He was happy to let her go to Harry. There wasn’t another man on the earth that he would trust her with. Harry had always felt the same way. But now he and Hermione were together and they were a perfect match, working fluidly as friends, companions, lovers, spouses, and parents.
Later on, Ron fell in love with a Muggle girl and they had a home not far from the Potters. Their children played together and once a week the three friends would get together just for a special night by themselves. There were no hard feelings, no ill will, and still to this day, no real secrets.
Voldemort had been destroyed by Harry. The world was at peace, and everything seemed right.
Two lives converged on her that fateful night. Two loves were set before her. She could only make one irrevocable choice.
From her eyes, she had made the right one.
Author’s Note: This was originally written for the challenge, “When you die, you see a live unlived…” However the challenge has been removed from the boards. I think I remembered the correct rules and specifications, and they included using three quotes from a provided list. I’m listing the quotes below so you’ll know I didn’t come up with the words on my own. Thanks for reading, please let me know what you think!
Quotes used for the challenge:
The tragedy of life is not that it ends so soon, but that we wait so long to begin it. -- Unknown
The magic of our first love is the ignorance that it will never end. -- Unknown
There has been much tragedy in my life; at least half of it actually happened. -- Mark Twain
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