First three weeks of summer I was at my mom’s house, then I get back and the queue’s closed! So sorry about that, hopefully I’ll be able to make up for it. This one’s a bit different, but I hope you like it!
"Seriously though, Harry," Ron said suddenly as he placed a few textbooks in his trunk, "you need to calm down."
"What are you talking about?" Harry deadpanned.
With one more day to go before it was time to get on the Hogwarts Express, everyone was rushing to make sure they didn't have to do the last-minute-thing. They'd all put off their packing in hopes of getting the most out of their last few moments of summer vacation, but it just forced them to actually spend those last few moments packing.
Except Hermione, of course; she'd packed ages ago.
"If you don't want anyone to know about Hermione, you need to hide it better."
Harry dropped the corked ink bottle he was holding on his bed and whipped towards Ron. "Does she know?"
"No, but Ginny does."
"You told your sister?" Harry exclaimed.
"Not exactly," Ron said slowly. "I mean, she could tell something was off about you, and she basically threatened me to tell her what was going on-"
"So you told her," he said as more of a statement than a question.
"I really had no choice. Sorry." Ron cleared his throat. "But you know she won't tell anyone, Harry."
"Doesn't matter," he sighed. "Am I really making it obvious?"
"Way more than last time," Ron chuckled.
Harry groaned. According to everyone (literally, everyone), he'd been extremely blatant about his crush on her in his third and fourth year. Neville had said he had no idea how Hermione remained so oblivious. Now if he was being even more obvious, though he thought he was hiding it pretty well, there was no doubt in Harry's mind that Hermione would find out which would be the worst possible thing.
"But Ginny's the only one, so it's not that big of a deal. All you have to do is stop looking so solemn around her."
"Hermione. Ginny said she only noticed because of how you look, and I agree." Ron snapped his trunk shut. "You look a bit apprehensive or something when you're around her."
"I don't try to be, you know..." Harry said sadly.
"Actually, I don't know. You never really explained any of this, you just told me how you felt and that was that." He thought for a moment. "Maybe if you talked it out...?"
Harry sighed as he sat on the floor beside his bed. It was worth a try. "In the beginning of third year, I'm pretty sure I only liked Hermione because she was there. I mean, she was the only girl I was really close to. But then when she helped me save Sirius with the Time-Turner, I don't know, the way I looked at her just changed. She seemed like so much more than just Hermione. And the summer just made it worse because... well, I really missed her.
"Then when I came here before fourth year, she looked different-"
Ron nodded and said, "Beautiful, not just pretty."
"Exactly! And when that whole Goblet of Fire thing happened-" Ron shifted, "-she really stuck by me and everything. And I knew I didn't love her, but it sure was a lot more than a simple crush. But, you know, things happened and I realized we were just better off as friends. I mean, I still liked her, and I still thought she was beautiful, but I was able to push all of that away until I convinced myself I didn't want her like that.
"Now, all of a sudden, nearly two years' worth of repressed feelings spring on me at once and I don't know what to do with them." Harry shook his head. "I don't know what to do."
"Well," Ron started as he moved to sit opposite of his friend, "I get that. Believe me. But what I don't understand is why you won't tell her. In all honesty, I personally don't think she'd reject you, but even if she did, you know she'd just forget about it and everything would go back to normal."
"Voldemort comes after everyone I care about, there's no way I'm putting her in the middle of it."
"He hasn't gone after her. If he would come after me, I'm pretty sure he knows you and Hermione are close, too. If-"
"That's just it, Ron. If. You don't know if he's going to stop doing it, no one does. Hermione's muggle-born, so there's no doubt in my mind that he'd want to try and get rid of her. He can get into my head, he knows everything I think and feel. He knows how to manipulate my dreams to make me relive my best memories and then change them so that they're the most horrid nightmares I've ever had, you know that. Just before I got here, I had an extremely vivid dream of the Yule Ball-"
"Wait, what?" Ron asked seriously.
Harry silently cursed himself for letting that slip, but there was no taking it back now. He leaned his head back. "I had a dream about the Yule Ball. I didn't think anything of it until your dad asked me if anything had been happening, but this one's starting off like all the others: Vivid and accurate. I haven't had another one, so I'm hoping I'm just being paraniod and I just had a really good dream."
"Who was the dream about?" asked Ron quietly.
Harry swallowed hard. "Hermione," he whispered. Ron's expression dropped dramatically and his face turned white. He exhaled heavily and ran his hand through his hair. "But you said he wasn't going to come after her, right?"
Ron stood up, followed soon by Harry. "That was before you said you'd had a dream about her. This is bigger than just wondering whether or not to tell her you like her, Harry! This is her life you're toying with! If You-Know-Who really did plant that dream in your head, who knows when something might happen to her?"
"You think I don't know that? Why do you think I won't tell anyone?"
"I don't know! If her life is potentially in danger, why won't you tell anyone?"
Harry felt hot tears sting his eyes. He wasn't sure if they were out of frustration or despair, but he knew for sure he didn't want to cry in front of Ron. In fact, he didn't want to cry at all. He blinked a few times and took a deep breath, but it didn't help. As soon as he spoke, the tears flowed in steady streams from his eyes.
"I'm scared, okay? Because I'm scared! I'm not entirely sure how or why I feel the way I do about her! I just do, and it freaks me out! If I tell someone in the Order, it'll just make these thoughts floating around in my head a reality, and I'm not ready for that just yet! I still don't know whether or not I love her, Ron! If I tell someone, I'm admitting something I'm not even sure of! If I tell, I'm basically confirming the fact that she might die! I can't handle that! I can't put her through that! I CAN'T DO THAT, RON, I CAN'T!"
"Okay, okay," Ron said calmly as he pulled Harry into a hug. "I get it. Just calm down, Harry, it's okay."
"I just hate this whole situation, everything about it! I hate what Voldemort's done, what he's put me and everyone around me through! I hate that he killed my parents! I hate that he killed Cedric! I hate that he killed the only two people who were like fathers to me! I hate that he almost killed your dad! I hate that he tried to kill you, the closest thing I have to a brother! And I hate that he might try and kill Hermione! I hate him!"
"I know, I hate him too," he said as he patted Harry's back, "We all do."
Ron stood patting Harry on the back, who was silently crying. Harry felt so useless and vulnerable, crying on his friend's shoulder like a child. But he had to admit that it felt good to finally let it all out, especially while he was with someone he knew he could trust.
About a minute later, Harry pushed Ron away, sat on his bed and stared into his lap. Ron sat next to him and stayed quiet for a few minutes, then finally said, "You gonna be alright?"
"Yeah, I'll be fine." He didn't really believe it, and he figured Ron didn't either.
"I won't tell anyone. I promise. And I'll reiterate that with Ginny."
"Just don't tell her-"
"I won't tell her anything you said."
Harry simply nodded and wiped his face.
"Not trying to be rude or lighten the mood or anything," Ron said a bit light-heartedly, "but I don't think you should be confused about your feelings for Hermione anymore. It's obvious you're really in love with her, and I'm not just saying that."
Harry nodded again, though not too sure what he was saying yes to.
"Is there anything else you want to talk about?"
Harry shook his head.
"Do you just want me to leave you alone?"
Harry smiled as he nodded.
"Okay. I'll tell everyone you're taking a nap so they don't come up here."
"Thank you," Harry croaked.
Ron smiled his welcome and left the room.
Harry quietly finished putting everything in his trunk and decided to stay in bed until someone came and got him for dinner. He wasn't in the mood to be bothered by anyone, and he sure as hell didn't want to see Hermione. Not feeling like this, anyway.
He did vow, though, to be more concious of how he was acting when he was around her, seeing as that's what the conversation was originally about. He just couldn't help it most of the time; she was always smiling at him, and that was the thing Harry loved most about Hermione. Along with her eyes, hair, voice, skin, nose, legs, and body.
Figuring he might as well do what Ron was telling everyone, Harry rolled over to face away from the door and closed his eyes. Just as his hearing went fuzzy and he felt his bed becoming more and more comfortable, he heard the door to Ron's room open.
"Harry?" Hermione called softly.
Of course, Harry thought.
He heard Hermione's footsteps get louder as she came to the side of his bed. "Harry?" she said even softer, her lips right by his ear. When he didn't stir, she sat on the edge of the bed and gently placed her hand on his. "I don't know what happened," she whispered, "but I could see the tear stains on his shirt, and on yours now, too. Whatever it is, it'll be fine."
Harry opened his eyes and rolled over to face her, and she gave a little gasp, pulling her hand from his. He could tell she was worried by the redness of his eyes by the typical concerned-Hermione look on her face.
Rather than asking what was wrong, or what happened, Hermione said, "Will it be okay?" Harry liked this question better because he wouldn't have to lie or go into depth about things he didn't want to discuss with anyone ever again. So, he said simply, "Hopefully."
Hermione watched Harry for a moment. He wasn't sure exactly what she was hoping to see, but she eventually smiled sadly and layed down with her back to him, fitting her body perfectly with his. She took his arm and draped it over herself, then weaved her fingers with his. Harry wondered whether she had any idea what she was doing to him, but he then remembered she was mysteriously oblivious when it came to things like love and relationships.
"What are you doing?" he asked after a moment.
"I'll be here when you wake up." Harry heard the smile in her voice though he couldn't see it.
"You don't have to be," Harry replied quietly.
"Go back to sleep, Harry."
"You don't have to lay here, I'm-"
He was cut off by Hermione rolling to face him. She took his hand from around her waist and held it, bringing it close to her face. "Don't say you're fine because you're not."
"I'll be fine," he rephrased.
Hermione smiled softly and kissed his hand. "But you're not right now. So just close your eyes and go to sleep. I'll be here when you wake up," she repeated.
They stared at each other for a while. Harry thought Hermione was waiting for him to close his eyes before she shut her's, for she kept raising her eyebrows at him everytime he met her eyes. But after everything he just told Ron, he didn't want to. Actually, he didn't want Hermione to even be there; he'd much rather her downstairs with Ginny or Fred or somebody. But as she'd made it very clear she wasn't leaving, Harry didn't want to go to sleep. Even though she said she'd be there when he woke up, Harry felt like a curse. He was now so sure that every moment he was with Hermione, something would happen to her. If he kept his eyes open, he'd be able to make sure she was okay.
Hermione brushed Harry's bangs out of his face with her ring finger. "What are you thinking about?"
"How much I don't want to go to sleep."
"Because you're here."
"I can't sleep with you here."
"Why are you asking so many questions?"
"Why can't you sleep with me here?" she laughed.
Harry sighed. "I'm not trying to be rude, but I'm really not in the mood, Hermione."
"Then just go to sleep, Harry."
Harry narrowed his eyes at his friend, and she just smiled.
"Promise you'll be here when I wake up?"
Hermione snuggled up close to Harry. "I wouldn't rather be anywhere else."
With that reassurance, Harry closed his eyes and fell asleep.