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Sixteen Hours by apAidan
Chapter 3 : Chapter Three - Wounds, old and new
 
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Chapter Three – Wounds, old and new



Rushing down the stairs, Hermione carefully wrapped her arms around Harry to support him as soon as she heard the portrait hole close. “Easy, Harry. I’ve got you.” Looking up at him, she smiled as she helped him over to the sofa. “Now sit yourself down and let me take a look at this.” Stretching him out on the sofa, she closed her eyes and ran her fingers over his ribs. Feeling the swelling under his shirt, she sighed and opened her eyes. Looking down at him, she shook her head. “Harry, you’re hurt.”

Looking up at her, he started to laugh until the pain made him close his eyes. “Merlin, Hermione. I defeat Voldemort, you end up in bed with me, we share a dream, you keep me from being an idiot and leaving you, you wandlessly defend me against my ex-girlfriend, I convince Ginny that it’s over, and all you can say is ‘You’re hurt’?” Opening his eyes, he smiled up at her.

A bit shocked, she shook her head. “Harry, if that’s what you want, then fine.” Closing her eyes, she nodded. “You were magnificent. We were on the bed, not in it. It was a scary dream; I can’t believe you did that to me. That was stupid, love, and the next time you feel the need to wander around, I’m going with you, awake or not. I had a very good teacher back in the DA, so it was relatively easy since she was upset. Ginny knew it was over, she was just trying not to be the bad guy by dumping the ‘Boy Who Lived, Twice’ or whatever they’re calling you this week.” Opening her eyes, which were glistening with tears, she smiled. “How’d I do? And you’re still hurt.”

Taking her hand and pressing it to his lips, Harry kissed it tenderly. “You’ve really got to stop taking me so serious, but you were magnificent as usual. “ Smiling up at her, he attempted to sit up, until his protesting ribs intervened. “I thought she was going to kill me with the hugs.” Letting Hermione help him upright, he swung his feet back onto the floor.

Shaking her head at him, she looked around the room. “Harry, I hope you’re up to seeing Seamus with Ginny this soon, because we’re going to get you looked at as soon as I can get you down stairs.” Trying to ease his shirt off him, she shook her head at the pain she could see in his eyes. Taking her wand, she made a couple of deft patterns with it and Harry’s shirt fell from him in sections.

“Did you think that might be a favorite shirt of mine?” he asked, smiling.

“No, but I did consider which would be more difficult, trying to unpierce one of your lungs or replacing a shirt that smells of lake water and dragon sweat. We’ll go to the secondhand shop in Diagon Alley and I’ll buy you half a dozen ratty old shirts to replace it just as soon as you’re up to it.”

Kissing him gently on the forehead, she started running her hands over his sides again. Shaking her head at the mass of bruises that covered his back and chest, she sighed. “You look like one of Fluffy’s chewtoys. I think you’ll survive a trip down to the Hospital Wing. Did you try playing rugby with Riddle’s giants?”

Wincing as he tried to turn to face her, Harry smiled. “He Crucioed me four or five times while I was ‘dead’. I couldn’t feel the pain, but the muscles reacted and I flopped up and down on this bloody tree root for what seemed like an eternity.”

Trying to shrug, he winced again. “It didn’t hurt quite so bad until after I slept. I seem to remember something about a pushy brunette tackling me to the floor to keep me from doing something unthinkable.” Leaning over, he kissed her gently on the lips. They lingered for several seconds until Harry tried to raise his arm to hold her and fell back in pain.

“That’s it Harry, you’re not going anywhere until you’ve been looked at.” Pulling out her DA galleon, she keyed a short sequence into the coin and smiled. “You just sit back and I’ll take care of everything.” Grabbing his hand she peered at his watch, which read ‘1:08’

Nodding at the coin in her hand, he smiled. “Ron?”

Shaking her head, Hermione smiled. “Luna, I figure even with Ron chatting her up, she’ll be paying attention to things like the coin, in case it’s a Nargle alert.” Her eyes twinkling, she smiled at the look on Harry’s face. As the coin warmed and vibrated in her hand, she glanced down and pulled out her wand. “Expecto Patronum” Her otter appeared and immediately began chittering at Harry, most animatedly.

“Hush you; he’s already apologized for scaring me so you can leave off scolding him until he’s better.” Shaking her head, she smiled as the lithe creature stood up on her hind legs and watched them both with interest. “Take a message to Luna, and Ron if he’s with her. ‘Harry needs a healer, but discretely. We’re in the Gryffindor Common Room; I’ll have the door open for you when you arrive. Broken ribs, bruises.’.” Chittering in reply, the playful mustelid flipped up into the air and streaked off through the portrait hole at full speed.

Eyeing her dubiously, Harry shook his head. “How discrete is it going to be when your patronus streaks into the Great Hall and talks to Luna, even if she’s off to the side?”

“Harry, you’re not thinking clearly. I used the galleon to ask Luna to message me back when she was alone, except for Ron. When she did, I sent her the message, dear.”

Smiling wryly, Hermione shook her head. “Though from the speed of her response, it would seem they were alone when she got the first message. Just leave the thinking to me for a little bit until we get you fixed up.”

“Right, you’re the thinker, I’m the doer.” Smiling, he looked up at her and winked.

“You’re not going to be ‘doing’ anything or anyone until a healer sees you, so get that wonderful thought out of your head for the moment.” Smiling at him, she brushed his hair back from his brow. “Harry, we’ll have plenty of time for us, but the rest of today is going to be a bit stressful with people who think they need to talk to you and things we need to do before everyone catches up with us.”

Nodding significantly at the Elder Wand, lying on an end table beside Harry’s phoenix wand, she sighed. “But if the healer says you’re going back to bed, then that nuisance will have to wait until tomorrow, I don’t care how important you and Dumbledore think it is.”

Looking very put upon, Harry nodded slowly. “Only if you answer some questions for me.”

Leaning over and kissing him tenderly, she smiled. “Of course, that’s what I’m here for.”

Smiling back, he sighed. “Not that I’m complaining, mind you, but what’s this about Ron and Luna? When did that happen?”

Shrugging Hermione looked over at the portrait hole. “I don’t know that anything has happened, yet. Luna’s always thought Ron was sweet and I suggested to him that he talk to her. Even though Ginny was just trying to twist me up about it, from what she said, it sounds as if they’re hitting it off, at least.” Looking back to Harry, she smiled sadly. “I worry about him. I don’t know if Luna would be ‘the one’ for him, but she’ll be gentle with him and he could use someone a bit less stressful in his life than me.” Grinning at him she smiled coyly. “You went out with her, what do you think of his chances?”

Harry chuckled carefully. “We went to that one party of Slughorn’s together, but I’ve always liked her. It makes a strange bit of sense, when you think about it. They might not be forever, but they will certainly make for an interesting right now.”

Laughing with him, she gently massaged his hand. “You said ‘questions’?”

Looking serious, he wrapped both hands around hers. “When did we happen?”

Smiling warmly at him, she leaned over and kissed him gently on the lips. Sighing, she sat back. “Short answer or long?”

Nodding, with only a small wince of pain, he smiled. “Let’s try the short one, first.”

Grinning, she shrugged. “Forever” Shaking her head at the look on his face, she innocently asked, “Are you ready for the long answer now?” Seeing his amused nod, she laughed.

“First of September, 1991. I think we were good and truly done for the day we met on the train. We were both too young and shy to know it, but I’m willing to bet that both of us can still recall every detail of those painful minutes on the train. I prattled on like an idiot and you were totally gobsmacked by my behavior.”

Shaking her head, she smiled. “I realized it our third year, when we were rescuing Sirius on Buckbeak. All of a sudden, when I had my arms around you, I knew for a split second that this was where I wanted to spend the rest of my life. Just the two of us, there wasn’t anything we couldn’t do. Then I proceeded to tell myself that I was an idiot because people didn’t get all fluttery and gooey over their best mate and I kept that up for the next four years.”

Smiling broadly, she took his right hand and hooked the pinky of her right hand around his. “And, of course, let’s not forget the library during that dreadful tournament. We swore we’d always be there for each other and never leave the other.” Shaking her head, she sighed. “Honestly, even Crabbe and Goyle would have figured it out if they’d been there.” Shyly stroking his cheek with her hand she asked, “When did you figure it out?”

Turning his head slightly to gently kiss the palm of her hand, he sighed. “I wasn’t any smarter. Second year, when the basilisk petrified you, all of a sudden everything dropped out of my life. Deep down, I didn’t believe that Madam Pomfrey could restore you, I knew that it was my caring for you that had cursed you, so I told myself if I could convince myself that I didn’t care that way about you, you might be spared. Everything I ever loved had been taken away from me; the only way to protect you was to not care too much about you. I couldn’t stop all the way, but I spent the next five years trying to make myself believe that I didn’t love you.” Tears were forming in his eyes. “Can you forgive me?”

Leaning over, she kissed him once again. “Harry, you were only going with what you knew. Thank Merlin that we’re both pants at lying to ourselves. Apparently the only two people in all of Britain who didn’t know we belonged together were the two of us, and that’s only through sheer stubbornness. There’s nothing to forgive.”

Just then, a silver hare hopped into the Common Room, and announced in their friend’s otherworldly voice “Sixth Floor landing. Stop that, Ronald.” Looking at each other as the patronus faded, they both bit their lips to try to keep from laughing.

Standing up, Hermione walked over to the portrait hole, clambered in, and opened the door. Harry could hear her explaining that Luna and a healer were on their way to the Common Room to the guardian portrait and her friend. A very unHermioneish squeal followed as Harry guessed that Luna and company had arrived. A tall, striking young woman with raven hair and healer’s robes clambered out of the portrait hole, followed by Hermione and Luna, arm in arm. Lastly came Ron. The newcomer looked around for a second and spotted Harry. Flashing him a jaunty smile, she proclaimed “Ravenclaw to the rescue” as she walked over to her patient.

Whistling at the bruises covering his ribs and chest, Ron shook his head. “Ginny didn’t seem that upset when she got back to the Great Hall.”

Slapping his arm, Hermione looked crossly at him. “Ron, stop that. Gin and Harry came to a mutually amicable decision. Those bruises are from Voldemort last night from out in the forest.”

Looking around the room, noting the scorch marks on the walls, Ron nodded. “Sure they did. The walls have ‘amicable’ written all over them.”

Shrugging, Hermione looked a bit embarrassed. “Well Gin and I were a bit less than amicable before Harry woke up, but no one was hurt so it ended well.” Looking over at Harry with concern in her eyes, she turned to the healer who was running her wand over Harry. “Patience, is he going to be ok?”

Snorting, the healer turned from examining Harry to look at Hermione. “This fraud? He’s been hurt worse in Quidditch practices.”

Turning back to Harry, she smiled. “By the way, I’m Patience Greengrass, I was a seventh year your fourth. I saw some of your matches so don’t try to con me Harry. She might be worried and ready to cosset you, but after a pair of potions you’ll be fine.”

Reaching down to her belt, she opened a pouch and drew two small flasks out of it. “The green one will take care of the pain from the bruising and the foul smelling grey one will knit those ribs back together in about seven minutes or so.”

“Patience?”

“Yes Luna?”

“How many of Harry’s ribs are broken.”

“All of them.” A quiet gasp from Hermione was followed by a shushing sound from Harry.

“Wouldn’t that be quite painful?”

“Yes Luna, it would. Why do you ask?”

“Well, it would then seem that Hermione is justified in worrying about Harry.”

Glancing up and flashing her former housemate an exasperated look, she shrugged. “You two said that she was a worrier on the way up here. All I was trying to do was put her mind at ease while I heal Harry. Would it have helped if I’d said he looked like he’d been at the bottom of a rugby scrum with a team of trolls?”

Smiling at Luna’s serene gaze, she shrugged. “Luna, I know they’re friends of yours but healers quickly learn that the family can be a bigger problem than the patient. As long as she was calm, I could get Harry back up on his feet and then tell her that he looked like he’d been beaten severely, and not for the first time.”

Looking back at Harry, she shook her head. “This isn’t the first time you’ve had most of those ribs broken, nor the second or third. Those are very old breaks that were never properly healed. When everything calms down, look me up at St Mungo’s and I’ll schedule you a series of treatments to take care of the old breaks so you’re not bothered by wet weather or cold so much. I’d advise staying away from winter camping until you do, it’ll be pure torture.”

Standing up she nodded at the potions in his hand. “Grey first, and then green.” Looking over at Luna, she smiled. “I’ve missed you, pop down to London when you get a chance and we can catch up.” Nodding significantly towards Ron, she winked. Heading towards the portrait hole, she sighed. “My work here is done.” Stopping before she clambered into the hole, she shook her head. “At least we had a proper door into our place.”

Looking back at Harry she smiled fiercely. “If the bastard that did that to you years ago is still alive, let me know. I’m friends with the beaters for the Tornadoes and they’d be happy to use him as a bludger for a couple of hours to let him know how it feels.” Shaking her head, she was gone.

Silence reigned for a few seconds. Harry shook his head and looked over at Luna. “Is she always that intense?”

Smiling, Luna shook her head. “You caught her on a good day; normally Patience is a bit more driven than that.”

“Harry.” Looking up, he could see that Hermione was going from furious to that danger zone where someone was going to pay a high price for getting on her bad side. Ron instinctively stepped a bit behind Luna and out of her direct line of sight. “Potions. Now.”

Nodding, Harry removed the cork from the grey one. A bitter smell came from the flask, and Harry made to drink it quickly before he could smell more of it. A strange burning sensation followed the thick liquid as it went down and it seemed to travel directly to his ribs.

Shaking his head at the sensation that followed he grimaced. “Now I know why they call it knitting them back together, it feels like someone’s in there with a bunch of needles.” Smiling in spite of the sensations, Harry looked at Hermione, who was still scowling.

“Green”

Glancing over at Ron, who was staring at Hermione, trying to decipher whether or not her temper could possibly be turned on him, Harry shrugged and twisted the cork out of the final flask. The minty scent that came from the flask brought a smile to his face as he drank it down. Relief spread through his system as the pain in his ribs and back began to fade and the tightness in his chest loosened. Smiling up at Hermione, he nodded.

“Harry James Potter. Did you or did you not tell Ginny, less than a half-hour ago, that we knew each other? That I ‘knew things about you that you barely realized’? That I knew ‘the good and the bad’?”

Watching her warily, Harry nodded. “Hermione, I think that’s pretty spot on what I said to her. Why?”

Shaking her head in exasperation, tears glistening in her eyes, she clenched her fists and closed her eyes. “How much of what you said to her was utter tripe? How can you say things like that when I didn’t know that someone had used you as a human punching bag?” Without turning around, she added. “Ronald, don’t take another step towards that doorway, if you knew anything about this you’re next.”

Standing up, Harry put his hand gently on her arm, so as not to startle her. “Hermione, everything I said to Ginny was the truth. Go downstairs and get some Veritaserum from Slughorn and I’ll say all that and more. You don’t know everything about my life; I don’t know everything about yours. I was kind of hoping to spend the next seventy or eighty years finding things out about you, if you’re going to let me live that long.”

Looking away from all of them, he dropped his hand and turned towards the fireplace. “It’s not something I ever talked about, really. Ron and the twins saw the bars on the windows and the locks on the doors. You all saw the locks on the kitchen cabinets when you came to Privet Drive to rescue me before the wedding. Then there was the cupboard...” His voice trailed off as he became lost in the nightmare that was his childhood.

Hermione’s eyes snapped open as she heard the pain in Harry’s voice. Looking at Ron and Luna, tears were forming in her eyes. Ron was shaking his head at her, and Luna was watching her in that serene, distracted way she had, but you were certain she knew everything that was happening around her. Nodding towards Harry, Luna smiled at her. “He needs you, put down the fear and go to him.”

Moving as soon as Luna finished speaking, Hermione came up behind Harry, slid her arms around his waist and rested her head on his shoulder. “Harry, I’m such a cow. I was scared when I heard the healer say those things and I lashed out at the one person I should have been comforting.”

He was stiff and shaking, so she tried to mold her body to his. “Harry, I know you love me, I’ve known it for a long time, but I was too scared to see it. I’ve been afraid of losing you for the past seven years. Now that I have you, I just panicked.” Seeing that he was lost in a fugue, Hermione glanced over at the others for help. Guiding him over to the divan, she got him settled with Ron’s help. He was muttering something under his breath, over and over.

Kneeling in front of him, Luna took both of his hands in hers. “Harry, the wrackspurts and nargles had gotten control of you. Look at me, and breathe deeply. The extra oxygen in your brain will drive the wrackspurts out. Breathe with me Harry.” Hermione could see that Harry’s breathing was synchronizing with Luna’s, even though he really wasn’t seeing her. His eyes were still locked in some private hell.

After several minutes of intently staring at Harry, Luna nodded. “Harry, you’re doing fine, we’ve got the wrackspurts on the run and the nargles are next. But you have to tell me, what they are whispering to you. These aren’t the funny nargles that live in mistletoe, Harry. These are the ones that lurk in the old dark places of the forest; they followed Voldemort’s people in last night. Tell me what they’re saying Harry and we can get rid of them and get you and Hermione some of the mistletoe ones. Those are the ones you need today. Harry, you helped me find my things, I’ll help you find your happy nargles. That’s what we do when we’re friends.”

Caressing Harry’s hands, Luna gazed serenely at him. Her hair fluttered as if there were a stiff breeze blowing through the common room. Ron wrapped his arm around Hermione’s shoulder and whispered to her as she stared, tears streaming down her cheeks. Suddenly Harry’s eyes focused on Luna, and his voice became intelligible.

“She can’t love someone like me who that happened to. She’s Hermione, she’s brave and smart and she shouldn’t be saddled with a freak that’s been abused like that.” Shaking his head slightly, tears started rolling down his cheeks. “I can’t do this to her, when she finds out everything, she’ll be gone. I’ve got to get away before I hurt her, before she hates me for being weak and pathetic.” Looking imploringly at Luna, Harry begged. “Luna, you’re my friend. Before you hate me for being weak, will you help me find a place to hide where I won’t hurt her?”

Smiling sadly, Luna fixed her eyes on Harry’s. “Harry, you can’t hide from Hermione. The two of you love each other too much for that to work. You’re both brave, you just don’t remember right now because the dark nargles are holding your thoughts. Nothing that happened to you was your fault, Harry, and no one blames you. We love you, all three of us.”

Pausing, Luna stared at him for a few seconds before she continued. “Harry, you know the Weasleys love you, even Ginny, but I wouldn’t expect her to admit it at least until September. Professor McGonagall cares about you, as does Dumbledore. Your parents and Sirius and Remus and Tonks all love you and they all know what happened. My Mum loves you because you’re my friend; I’ve told her all about you. She’d like to meet you, but she’s willing to wait a while. She’s patient like that.” Speaking soothingly to Harry, Luna smiled as more of his attention was focused on her.

Shaking his head, Harry finally looked at Luna. “If she knows, she’ll go. I don’t want to lose her; I’ve loved her for so long. What can I do?”

Smiling, Luna beamed at Harry. “Harry, all you have to do is let Hermione love you. You have to let us all love you. But that means you have to stop hiding things from us. You don’t have to be the strong one all the time. You taught us well and you were the example we needed. You showed Ginny, Neville and me how to defy the Death Eaters, and we owe our lives to you. You came and rescued me at Malfoy’s house. What you need to do now is just believe that we can be there for you.”

Leaning over and shyly kissing his hand, she glanced up at Hermione and nodded. “Harry, I’m going to let go because all of the dark nargles are leaving now. Hermione is going to be here and she’s going to tell you how she’s going to help you fix this.”

Looking up at Harry and letting her silver eyes meet his emerald ones Luna smiled grimly. “Harry, the one thing you have to do is decide what you’re going to do about the people who did this to you. You have to either forgive them and let it go, or you have to let Hermione punish them for you. They can never hurt you again, and from what one of my housemates have told me, your aunt and cousin have changed, are trying to change. She’s been with them this last year and she says that Dudley and your aunt have changed. Your uncle is still ‘a piece of work’ as Chastity puts it. Since she never says anything bad about anyone, I imagine he’s still pretty horrible. But Hermione can slay that monster for you. You can leave that to her. And if she needs help, the rest of us will help because we all love you. “

Standing slowly, she left her hands on Harry’s as Hermione took her place. Whispering in Hermione’s ear, she waited until Hermione’s hands were over hers and she slowly slipped them out so that Hermione was now holding Harry’s hands between hers.

Looking up at Harry, with tears in her eyes, Hermione smiled at him. “Harry, can you forgive me? I was scared, and I didn’t realize that I was hurting you. You’re a scary man to love, Harry Potter. I don’t know everything, but I do know enough to know that there’s nothing you could tell me that would make me leave you, so you can stop worrying about that.” Looking briefly over at Luna, she smiled as Luna nodded. Ron had wrapped his arms around the younger witch, and he was staring at Luna in amazement.

Looking back at Harry, Hermione squeezed his hands. “Harry, you don’t have to tell me anything that you don’t want to. But I want you to know that anything that you want to tell me, or need to tell me, I’ll listen to you and we’ll deal with whatever comes up.” Flashing Ron an apologetic smile, she nodded. “As long as you don’t tell me you’ve been snogging Lavender Brown behind my back, we’ll be fine.”

Blinking, Harry opened his mouth, but nothing came out. Shaking his head, he finally found his voice. “She’s not really my type you know. I think I’ve fallen in love with a very select type.” Smiling, Harry looked at Hermione with a look that was very intense. “You never have to ask about being forgiven, I can’t imagine you doing anything that I would think about not forgiving you.”

Chuckling, Hermione squeezed his hands and brought them up to her lips and kissed them gently. “You really need to spend some time with your best mate over there and ask him about me.”

Looking somber, Harry shook his head. “I was there, love. Ron cares enough about both of us to be truthful, but I don’t need to know anything other than you’re you.” Looking her in the eye, he sighed. “How much do you want to know?”

Shaking her head, Hermione looked sad. “I don’t ever want to know that you’ve been hurt. But I need to know these things so I can help you move past them and I can be your dragon slayer for you.” Smiling bitterly, she added. “You’ve also seen that I don’t react well to surprises when it comes to the people I love. If you’ve been hurt, it scares me because I know what you’ve gone through so if there’s something you haven’t told me I’m pretty certain it’s bad.” Leaning forward, she wrapped her arms around his waist and rested her head on his chest. Sighing softly, she smiled.

Harry began stroking her hair, as he looked over at Luna and Ron. Shaking his head, he smiled at them. “Would it be enough to say ‘thank you’?”

Looking at the two of them with that same detached, serene gaze she always had, Luna shook her head. “Harry, we’re friends, all four of us. There are no thanks for things like this. You inspire people and do what’s impossible; Hermione solves the unsolvable and makes the impossible possible for you. Ron makes us laugh and shows us the way to make things work, and I know the things that other people can’t see and make certain they’re harmless.” Looking up at Ron, she beamed. “I’ll teach Ron to see the things he can’t see, and then we’ll find our Snorkack.”

“First we’re going to help find Hermione’s parents, if she wants us to.” Smiling at Hermione as her eyes flashed open in surprise, he nodded. “I know things have changed since we talked about this, but the offer to go with you is still open. Of course, things are just a wee bit different now but I think we can all help you find your folks in short order.” Leaning over, he whispered something to Luna, who nodded.

Shaking her head, Hermione looked to both of them. “Ron, things are different, but you’re still one of my best friends. Don’t feel that you have to come, but if you want to, and if Luna wants to accompany you, you’ll both be more than welcome.”

Shaking his head, Ron looked at Harry. “Mate, it’s been almost seven years, and I think I’ve grown up enough to realize what’s important. If you needed me while you were doing something as easy as defeating Voldemort, you’re really going to need me when you do something as dangerous as being introduced to her father as her boyfriend.”

Laughing, Harry hugged Hermione as she tried to stand. “I can just see the headline in the Daily Prophet. ‘Boy-who-lived killed by irate father of girlfriend’.”

“Harry, he’s not that bad. He’s only a bit overprotective.” Shaking her head, Hermione was smiling as she defended her father. “The only problem will be that you’ll be the first boyfriend he’s actually had a chance to meet in person, so he’s been working up to this for eighteen years. Remember, you’ll be the bloke who’s definitely come to take his little girl away from him, and you won’t have the benefit of letting him practice on any others.”

Looking a bit worried, Harry nodded. “Why don’t we allow him to practice a bit before I meet him?” Smiling at the puzzled look on Hermione’s face, he shrugged. “We could just mention the fact that I’m a friend when we go to Australia, and then we could introduce him to Ron, Viktor, and McLaggen as your boyfriends in rapid succession. He can wear himself out not liking them. After they’re back in Britain a while, I can turn up, and he’ll be so happy to see you being sensible that he’ll forget about killing me.”

Standing there, with her hands on her hips, Hermione glared at Harry. “Harry James Potter, you know better. Viktor and I went out to one dance, and that night didn’t go so well, thanks to Mr. “Hermione, you’re a girl” over there.” Glaring at Ron, she shook her head. “And don’t even start with me about that pig McLaggen, who I also went out with only once thanks to you being an idiot about Slughorn’s party.”

Swinging back to Harry, she fumed. “And you know well and good that you’re my first and only real boyfriend Harry, so just suck it up and accept the fact. You have a problem with that?”

Smiling, Harry shook his head. “Hermione, I don’t really care who was your first boyfriend, as long as I’m your last boyfriend.”

Standing there, openmouthed, Hermione stared at Harry for several seconds. Trying to speak, and nothing coming out, she shook her head. Finally she looked at him with a strange glint in her eyes. “Harry,” she asked in a quiet voice, “is that potion finished with your ribs?”

Looking a bit confused, Harry nodded and started to speak. Before he could open his mouth, Hermione launched herself across the space between them, wrapped her arms around him and began to kiss him passionately. Harry’s arms wrapped around her and lifted her gently off the floor.

Standing there, a bit embarrassed, Ron shook his head knowing a bit of how Harry must have felt the night before. Luna smiled and quietly whispered, “I told Harry we’d find him some happy nargles.”

Looking away from Harry and Hermione to Luna, Ron shook his head. “Did you have to find them a basket full of them?”


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