Chapter 17 : Full Circle
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Hermione didn't meet a soul as she walked from the Room of Requirement to the Great Hall. As she neared the stairs where she would meet Harry, the babble of excitement from the students congregated in front of the doors to the Great Hall reached her ears. Hermione arrived at the top of the stairs and looked down to see Harry with his back to her. He looked as amazing as always and Hermione paused to gather her nerves.
Harry was surprising well composed as he waited for Hermione. He was lost in his own thoughts, running through all the possible outcomes that could occur that night. Harry's mind was brought back to the present as the chatter in the corridor started to die down. Looking up, he noticed everyone looking in his direction. Following their eyes, he turned and looked behind him and his jaw dropped.
There at the top of the stairs, one hand on the banister and one at her side was Hermione. She was quite possibly the most beautiful girl Harry had ever seen. She wore a full length black dress that was pulled in at the waist to reveal her curvy frame. The neckline ran across her chest and small straps looped over her shoulders. Along the neck line was hot pink detailing that swirled and sparkled down at him. The detailing continued down to the floor, slightly left of centre, and ran both sides of a slit that started at the top of her leg and opened up to reveal a pink panel, matching the detailing in colour. Realising that his mouth was still slightly agape, Harry flashed Hermione a smile, noticing for the first time the sparkle that emanated from the phoenix around her neck. Her face lit up as she returned his smile and started her decent.
'Just breathe' Hermione thought to herself as she began to carefully maneuver herself down the stairs, holding her skirt up slightly so she wouldn't trip. The entire school had gone quiet and watched as Hermione glided down the stairs to meet her man. Harry watched her all the way, never losing eye contact with her as she stepped onto the middle platform of the stairs.
“You look amazing” he said to her quietly.
“As do you,” Hermione replied. Harry put out his arm and she lightly placed her hand on it. Together they continued down the stairs, the crowd parting as they reached the bottom and they walked towards the doors to the Great Hall. Just as they arrived they swung open, and Harry led Hermione straight onto the dance floor for the first waltz.
Harry took Hermione into the dancing hold and held her securely within his arms where she fitted perfectly. As the music began, Harry led her around the floor effortlessly and even though they had never danced together before, every step and every move flowed with ease. While the floor was open to everyone, no one else was dancing, their eyes instead riveted on the couple, sweeping around the dance floor in complete unison.
Hermione was completely lost in the moment and at that point in time she was oblivious to everything but Harry and the music. She had no idea where he had learnt to dance, but she didn't care. One hand was placed on her back and the other hand held her own. As light as a feather, her left arm rested on his and she melted into his firm and solid hold. He was an amazing dancer and she felt like she was floating as he led her into twirls and pivots around the dance floor, her dress swirling around her legs. Not once did she stumble or trip as they moved together as one in perfect harmony.
The music came to an end and Harry spun Hermione out and away from him. He bowed as she curtsied and the whole school broke into applause. Hermione and Harry broke eye contact for the first time since the dance had begun as they became aware that the whole school had been watching them. Neither of them were the least bit embarrassed by their very public dance and instead were filled with happiness. Harry put his arm out and Hermione took it, and together they walked to a table where their friends were sitting for dinner.
Professor McGonagall took to the floor and all eyes were refocused on the Head Mistress. “Welcome everybody to the school ball. I trust that you will all have a wonderful evening, you all deserve a night of dancing, music and fun. Dinner will be served momentarily and then the dance floor will be open to everyone. So once again, enjoy your night.” Professor McGonagall turned and exited the floor as the plates filled with a magnificent banquet.
The air was light and full of laughter over dinner, the war and all the grief thrust to the far corners of everybody's minds as they reminisced over happier times. Many people complimented Hermione on how beautiful she looked and even Ron seemed to look at her in awe. The only person who didn't seem entirely happy was Ginny who Hermione had just seen out of the corner of her eye shooting her an icy stare.
“So Harry” Ron asked, “where did you learn to dance like that?” Hermione, having heard the question immediately tuned in, curious about the answer. Harry had been useless at the Yule ball and surely taking dance lessons had not been high on his agenda when he was trying to defeat Voldemort.
“Oh that” Harry blushed slightly, but noticing that only Ron, Hermione and Sam were paying any attention, he carried on. “When McGonagall mentioned the ball, I asked if she could teach me and she agreed.” Having relayed the secret of his sudden ability to dance, Harry returned his attention to the table where dessert had just appeared. On hearing this, Hermione could barely contain her joy from bursting out of her. She was pretty sure that Harry had learnt to dance for her and she had to admit, he was really good.
The music started again and the dance floor became full of people. While Harry and Hermione didn't dance together directly, their eyes were always finding each other as they danced and grooved with all their friends who had lived and experienced all that Hogwarts had thrown at them over the past seven years.
Time passed quickly and soon ten thirty rolled around and the younger students departed. The atmosphere changed from one of a party to more of a formal dance as the older students continued with the evening. Couples took to the floor and Harry and Hermione once again stole the show. It didn't matter what music was played, Harry knew just what steps to do and Hermione followed his lead with complete trust.
The night was wearing on and Harry's composure was starting to fail him. He knew he had to say something to Hermione but he didn't know how. He was tearing himself up inside as he watched her, wondering how to tell his best friend that he loved her. He wanted her to know so much but for some reason he just couldn't quite let go of the words and leave himself wide open with his future in her hands. Through everything that he had been through, why was telling Hermione he loved her the hardest thing that he had ever been confronted with? He looked at the clock. It was nearly midnight and his time was running out.
If Hermione hadn't been certain before, now she was. She was completely and utterly in love with Harry. The evening had been completely magical and she could never have imagined anything as wonderful as tonight. She wanted to tell him so much how she really felt, to tell him that she loved him, that she wanted her future to be with him. But something was holding her back. All her dreams had been reformed over recent months and they all included Harry. She didn't know if she could go on without him. He had been her rock, her support as her life crumbled around her. Without him, she would be shattered to the point where putting the pieces back together would be a mission that would take all eternity. But through all her fears, he had to know, she had to tell him.
The music slowed to a rhythmic rhumba and Harry adapted to lead Hermione into what is commonly called the dance of love. Their eyes were locked the whole time, their minds in a frenzy as they raced though a million different scenarios and outcomes to the same dilemma they unknowingly shared. And unbeknown to both of them, they both came to the same conclusion, now was the time, the music was right, the location was right, the feeling was right. The love they felt for each other had never been greater than it was at that moment.
The music was reaching its crescendo, the time had come, there could be no more delay, no more thought, it was now or never. Harry lead Hermione into a low dip and slowly brought her back up so their faces were inches apart.
“Harry” Hermione whispered quietly, her voice trembling slightly with nerves.
Harry put a finger on her lips to silence her. No words needed to be said. Harry had been right all along. The powers that be were watching over him and the moment had come. Harry lent towards Hermione, his heart stopping in his chest as he finally let his hearts true desire known to the one person who needed to know. Hermione mirrored Harry and brought her lips to meet his. Her heart leapt as they connected and all her fears melted away as Harry held her tightly, kissing her gently. He was warm and soft, and the feeling was so right. Any fear immediately dissipated as she held Harry, kissing him back gently and confirming that she felt the same way as him. Finally, through all the trials and trepidation, through war an peace, love and heartache, the world had come full circle. Fate had a strange way of working. It had a taken a war and near death for her dreams to come true, but in the middle of the dance floor, Hermione stood at the forefront of her new dreams in the arms of Harry Potter.
At the edge of the dance floor, Ginny's heart stopped in her chest. Warm tears began to well behind her eyes as she saw Hermione and Harry finally declare their love for each other. She had known all year that this was the only conclusion but it still was not easy for her to see and she couldn't help but feel that Hermione had stolen her life. For seven years, Hermione had shown no interest in Harry other than friendship, but the war had changed her, just like everyone else and in some ways, she didn't recognise her any more, she didn't want to know her. As Ginny continued to watch, the tears spilled down her face unchecked. All the dreams she had once had came crashing down around her and the life she had always imagined was completely extinguished, stolen from her by some other girl. Ginny couldn't watch Harry and his new girl any more. She turned and fled the room running away from all the pain and heartache, one thought racing through her mind...who's that girl...living my life?
A/N Thank you all so much for reading and emersing yourself into the story that I have had so much fun writing. I feel a little sad now that it is all over, like I have just let go of a part of me. When I started this story, I had the first chapter and the last paragraph but I didn't know what was going to happen in between, but somehow the story almost wrote itself.
I felt a little sad for Ginny at the end of this story though so I have written a short fluffy one shot for her . It is called "Cycle of Flight".
Please please please leave a review to let me know what you thought. And once again thanks for reading, I love you all.