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Chapter 4 : In the Slytherin Common Room
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"Harry, wait!" Hermione panted behind him, "What are you doing? Harry... Harry, please! Stop!"
Harry stopped and turned on the spot to face Hermione, who was so shocked she almost ran into him. "This is important. Trust me; I need your help on this one Hermione." He said strongly through gritted teeth, preventing the monster from getting out.
"Okay." Hermione's determined grimace set in on her face.
"Hey, what about us? Care to fill us in?" Ron asked; his breathing heavy and his lanky frame doubled over, his hands on his knees.
"I need you and Ginny to stay here, only Hermione can help me, okay?"
Ginny stared at Harry, her mouth open and her eyes piercing into him with a glare that could freeze a Salamander.
"Okay then mate, whatever you say, Ginny and I will just sit here, doing nothing, whilst you and Hermione go off again. Oh, and Harry, don't you dare make a move, else I'll bash your head in."
"Ron!" Hermione shouted, alarming Harry. Ginny just glared yet more fiercely at Harry.
"I'm not having this argument Ron. This is important, and I need Hermione, trust me."
"Shove off mate." Ron said intensely, his voice full of warning, glowering at Harry. Harry groaned inwardly and turned, heading for the Boys Dormitory, Hermione followed swiftly behind him.
"Harry?! Please, can you just explain to me what we're doing?" Hermione asked as they ran through the passageway towards the Dorm. Harry grabbed her by the shoulders and pushed her up against the wall, not so hard as to hurt her, just to make her concentrate on him. Hermione mumbled an involuntary “Ow” and her eyes widened in shock at Harry's strange behaviour.
"Hermione, I've just realised something incredible. Looking at Snape's photo album and seeing you and Ron, it made me remember things. Things I should have realised a lot sooner. We need to get to the Boys Dorm because that's where the Hands of Jealousy are."
"Wait?! The what?" Hermione's face looked totally confused and bewildered.
"The Hands of Jealousy. When I last came to the Slytherin Common Room I saw the name engraved on a bookshelf, and Malfoy mentioned them in detention a few years back, said it was in his dorm. And Snape, when I saw his last thoughts and memories, it was underlying everything and just then, in the Photo Album, underneath the photo where my Dad's head had been replaced by Snape's, those four words again. Then I saw you and Ron together, kissing on the desk, and it all fell into place. All of it. And I need your help, so will you help me Hermione?" Harry spoke fast, quick, itching to get his story out.
"Yes." Hermione said, her face contorted into extreme determination. Harry released her and muttered a quick apology before they picked up the pace to reach the Dormitory. Time was running out before they had to go and meet the Weasleys at 3pm, and this would be Harry's last ever chance to find what he was looking for. He grabbed Hermione's hand and pulled her inside a door, into the Boys Dormitory. Hermione looked around helplessly, unsure what to do, but Harry was like a machine, he pulled up the floorboard under the nearest bed with his hands and snapped it off, this little damage would make little difference when Hogwarts came to be repaired. As he had guessed, there was a hollow in between the floor boards and the concrete foundations below, and, etched in the concrete, were two hands, above it the title, The Hands of Jealousy.
"Hermione, get over here, I've found it, quick, help me move the bed so we can get a better look." The two friends shoved the four poster bed out the way, the use of magic completely escaping their heads in their moment of pure excitement. Harry crouched over the hole in the floor, Hermione joined him.
"This is it then Harry? What do we do?" Hermione asked. Harry took Hermione's hand in his and rested it on the smaller hand print, before taking his own hand and placing it on the other print. The stone suddenly began to creak, a crack broke down the middle and the two pieces of stone dropped an inch before pulling away into the surrounding foundations, Harry’s heart began to pummel. Inside was a crevice. In the crevice was all manner of things, many envelopes were stacked up, each pile secured by an elastic band. A diary was also there, bearing the name Lily Evans and so was a flower, the same flower Harry had seen his mother with in Snape's memories, it had been preserved in some sort of liquid potion, and a piece of parchment was lying on top, folded in half with his mother's neat handwriting scribing Harry's name. Hermione was already at Harry's side with a bag. He began to fill it with all of the items.
"What are these things?" Hermione asked as she held the bag open.
"They're things my mum and Snape hid away, their most prized possessions when they were our age and attending Hogwarts, most likely in their seventh year, when my mum was going out with my dad, seems Snape's prized possessions were actually my mother's things. And they hid a letter here too; a letter for me, before my mum died, and Snape hasn't been able to give it to me because, well, he couldn't of opened the Hands of Jealousy on his own, not without my mum." Harry explained.
"That's great Harry, really it is," Hermione smiled at him, "but please answer me one more question, why did you need me to open it, why couldn't Ron or Ginny help you instead?" Hermione questioned, her eyes showing the thirst for knowledge she'd always had. However there seemed to be a glint in the depths of the soft brown irises that told Harry she already knew the answer. He felt himself blushing under her intense gaze, the hairs on the back of his neck standing on end and his stomach full of dancing butterflies.
"This case, if you could call it that, was for my mum and Snape to use in their seventh year to keep things safe, as I've said there are some of their prized possessions in here. So, it had to be protected from any intruders who would want to open it, and Snape must have thought he had come up with the perfect defence against others, he decided to use the feeling of jealousy as the key to the case. I doubt my mum knew this of course. So, because Snape was jealous of my mum and dad being together my mum and Snape were able to open this case with no problem, but, if two random people came along, that had no feeling of jealousy or betrayal towards each other, from either party, then the case would not be able to be opened. And so that leads us back to your question Hermione." Harry looked up at Hermione then, her eyes were brimming with tears, her lip quivering slightly, her expression forced Harry to look down again and force out his next words with a lot of courage, "I needed you rather than Ginny or Ron because I'm jealous of you and Ron, I see you together and a monster inside me threatens to rip my stomach apart and devour me, I feel as though I can't breathe, I feel angry and hurt, and mostly, I feel jealous. Because, well, I love you Hermione, and I've only just realised, after all this time."
Hermione reached her hand out and lifted Harry's chin, forcing him to look up at her. He attempted a smile but all that broke across his face was an awkward expression of embarrasement. Hermione smiled at him, but her smile seemed very sympathetic. Harry was just about to think he had made a mistake to tell her, that she'd soon break into laughter, or run and tell Ron, but suddenly she flung her arms round Harry's neck and pulled him into a strong embrace, she held him tight as though she couldn't bring herself to let him go. Harry hugged her back, feeling relieved that Hermione had not laughed at what he'd told her, but of course she wouldn't have, why would Harry have ever have thought that possible of her in the first place?
Hermione was silently crying, tears were dripping onto Harry's jumper and her gentle sniffs were almost inaudbile, but Harry could hear them. His senses were alert. He could smell the sweet woodland scent of her brown bushy hair, he could feel her body pressed against his, the tingles running through his skin like electric, her arms begging him to not let go, her face nestled into his neck, but what really bothered Harry was the urge to kiss her. Then she pulled away abruptly.
"Harry. I...I don't know what to say... I...well of course I love you, you're my best friend after all, but...but well...I'm with Ron and you're with Ginny..." She trailed off, her face was blotchy from crying but Harry thought she looked perfect, as beautiful as she always had been. He wiped away a tear that was streaking down her cheek with his thumb and whispered, "We could change that."
Harry had no idea what he was saying. He knew if his words ever reached Ginny it would tear her apart, and he cared about Ginny like she was the most treasurable thing on the Earth, what was he doing?
Hermione's face suddenly frowned, a deep frown that Harry had not expected. "No Harry, I can't do that to Ron, I just caaagh...nn..." She was forced to stop mid sentence as Harry moved in and kissed her full on the mouth. He hadn't a clue what had made him do it. After the last few days he guessed that he'd just realised how important Hermione really was to him, and realised just how much he cared about her, and that the losses he'd endured meant his feelings of joy over Hermione being alive had thouroughly intensified.
Hermione responded almost instantly. She pushed Harry off her, shouting at him. "Ron! I mean... I mean... Harry! Wha...Why? No!" She was too flustered to make any sense, her face bright red and her eyes swimming with mixed emotions. She stood up and stormed out of the room without a backwards glance, slamming the door with so much force that it rattled on it's hinges, but Harry knew, deep inside, that she had, if only for one brief moment, kissed him back.
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