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Chapter 23 : Good Vibes
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SIDE NOTE: If you listen to “Arrival of the Birds & Transformation” while they are talking about their past crushes to the end of the chapter like I did when I was writing it, I feel you would get a better understanding of the writing. Enjoy!
Harry had awoken so fiercely that Hermione was practically thrown off of him. She opened her eyes and bolted upright, her heart hammering against her ribcage and her lungs hastily sucking in and pushing out air. She did a quick survey of the room to make sure they were both safe before turning her attention to Harry. His eyes were wild, wide with what seemed to be fear, and his face was drained of what little colour it had left. He was also severely trembling. She doubted whether he even remembered she was there.
She had never been with Harry when he’d woken up from one of his nightmares; he always insisted she be absent from the room. Was she supposed to talk to him and comfort him? Or would that make it worse and she was just supposed to leave him alone? Hermione didn’t know what to do.
Soon, though, Harry seemed to snap out of his temporary trance and he looked towards Hermione. He puffed out his cheeks and exhaled through the small “O” his mouth made, raising his eyebrows. “That was unpleasant,” he remarked.
“You okay?” she asked tentatively.
“Yeah, it just seems that Voldemort is trying… new methods. Don’t ask,” he added, waving his hand passively.
“Do you need a minute?”
“Yeah, just give me a second.” He put his face in his hands and groaned. Wanting to help, Hermione rubbed his back in small circles. He didn’t object, so she supposed it was alright.
As he sat up he ran his hands down his face and brought them together under his chin. Hermione awkwardly withdrew her hand and pulled her knees up to her chest. Harry cleared his throat and smiled at her.
“Thanks. Luckily you got me on a good day,” he joked.
“Should I even ask what a bad day is like?”
Harry thought for a moment, and then said, “No.”
“Are you okay? I know I sort of threw you off…”
“I’m fine. You got some sleep, at least.”
“Yeah, it wasn’t all bad. Thank you,” he said sheepishly.
“Hey, you’re the one who decided to go to sleep, not me.” She smiled.
“I wouldn’t have done it if you hadn’t asked.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow skeptically. “Really?”
Harry furrowed his brows and nodded.
“So if I asked you to, I don’t know, give me Hedwig-”
“She’d be yours,” Harry stated as if it were the most obvious thing in the world.
“Really?” Hermione repeated incredulously.
“Is this honestly a surprise to you?”
“Kind of, yes!” she giggled.
Harry laughed. “Where have you been the last six years?”
“Apparently not where you’ve been!”
“You must know you have me wrapped around your finger,” he commented.
Hermione felt her face grow hot. Of course she knew what things to say to get Harry to do what she wanted and she suspected he knew the same about her, but she never thought in a million years that she had Harry wrapped around her finger. “I really didn’t.”
He rolled his eyes. “You’re so stupid, Hermione.”
She playfully put her hand to her chest. “I didn’t know you liked me so much.”
“Yeah, you only thought I hated you.”
“Shut up, Harry.”
“I’m sorry, but that was ridiculous.”
“Excuse me, Potter, but if I remember correctly, there was a point when you thought I liked Ron. That was ridiculous.”
Harry raised his hands. “That was plausible! You were beside yourself when he didn’t ask you to the Ball until the last minute!”
“No, I was upset because he tried to use me as a last resort. Big difference.” She emphasized the last words with two pokes to his shoulder.
“Whatever, you definitely had a crush on Ron.”
“I definitely did not.”
“If not Ron, then who? You had to like someone.”
Hermione decided to play with Harry. She figured this would be one of the last conversations she’d have with him for a while, so why shouldn’t she make it interesting? Besides, he deserved it for making them not speak. She stretched her legs out in front of her and smoothed out her skirt.
“If you want the truth, Harry Potter, I liked you.”
Harry’s face dropped. “What?” he deadpanned.
“Yes,” she said dramatically, “third and fourth year all I wanted to do was snog you.”
“You’re joking, right?”
Hermione shook her head vigorously. ”Nope, I was pretty much in love with you.”
She could see the heat creeping up Harry’s neck. She concentrated on biting her cheek to keep from laughing. “Are you serious?”
“Why would I lie to you about that?”
“So, uh, why only third and fourth year?”
“Well you were just really attractive in third year; I’m not even going to deny it.” Hermione wasn’t lying about that. She never had actually had a crush on Harry, but even she had to admit third year was a fine year for him. “Fourth year was the year we became really close, as you know. I kind of thought maybe there could be something there, but we were and have always been just better off as friends.” That was somewhat true as well. Fourth year she had thought about what it would be like to date Harry, but she never had the inclination to act upon it. She simply never thought of him that way.
“What, so you just stopped liking me?”
“Once I realized we were just great friends, yes.”
“You can’t just stop liking someone. Especially not me, I mean look at me. I’m flawless.”
Hermione laughed heartily. “Yes, you are still pretty cute.”
Harry closed his eyes and put his hands up. “Wait, I’m still hung up on this ‘pretty cute’ thing.”
“Oh, come off it!” She hit him in the ribs.
“You think I’m handsome, you think I’m handsome,” Harry sang.
“Don’t get a big head; half the school thinks you’re handsome.”
“I don’t care about half the school. You think I’m handsome,” he sang again.
Hermione smiled. Despite the fact she was lying to him, she enjoyed this. The two of them, laughing, taking the mickey out of each other. Underneath all the anger and frustration and hurt of the past two weeks, she missed this, and she would miss it even more when she walked out of that room that day.
But for now, she was having fun with her best friend and that was all that mattered.
“So what was it? My boyish good looks? My sparkling personality?”
“What, why I liked you?” Harry nodded. “Um. Well, like I said, you’ve always been attractive. That was certainly a contributing factor. But, I guess, the main reason I liked you was your heroism.”
“My heroism? All the wonderful things about me and you choose my heroism?” he teased.
“Well, yes! The main reason I wanted to be your friend so badly was because of how willing you were to save or help others, even when you barely knew them; I really admired that. Like on Halloween, with the troll? You didn’t like me, and you didn’t have to come save me, but you did. And, I don’t know,” she shrugged, “as I got older I suppose I liked it a lot more.”
“I’ll make sure to tell Ron to jump in front of a bus for you, then.”
“I just told you I was in love with you and you still make jokes about Ron?”
Harry grinned. “So you were in love with me?”
“I just said that for emphasis. I was fourteen, what did I know about love?”
“Oh, and now that you’re seventeen, you magically know everything about it?”
“With age comes wisdom, my friend.”
“So who do you love now, then?”
“To be honest, no one.”
“No one? Come on.”
“Honestly, I don’t! No one’s really caught my attention.”
Harry scoffed. “I’m hurt.”
She laughed. “If it makes you feel any better, if I had to choose someone, it’d be you.”
“I’m touched that I’m what you’d settle for,” he chuckled.
“What about you,” she said, hitting his leg, “who did you like?”
Hermione chuckled. “Seriously, Harry.”
“Hey, if you’re going to be in here, don’t you want to change into something more comfortable?”
“Don’t try to change the subject!” she scolded, pointing at him.
“I’m not, I’m going to tell you! I just thought, you know, you might be uncomfortable in the uniform.”
“I don’t feel like going to my room and coming back.”
“I never said anything about leaving.” He crawled to the end on his bed and opened his trunk. He sifted through it and threw behind him a blue t-shirt and some striped pajama pants with a drawstring. “The pants might be a bit big but the drawstring should help.”
Hermione bit her lip to keep from smiling. She scooted off the bed and trotted to the bathroom. After shutting the door behind her she quickly began to strip down. She balled up her uniform and tossed it aside, then reached for Harry’s shirt. He’d worn this shirt when going on some of his greatest adventures yet. Hermione knew it probably meant nothing to him, but it meant something to her nonetheless. As she pulled it over her head she inhaled deeply; it smelled just like him. It felt like she was perpetually wrapped in his arms. It was also extremely soft, which could explain why he was always wearing it. It was a little big on her but she didn’t mind. She put her legs through the pajama pants and pulled the drawstring extra tight. Hermione stepped back and looked at herself in the mirror. She was drowning in his clothes but she felt safe, special. She hadn’t worn anything of his in a long time and today was a good day to start.
She picked up her Hogwarts uniform and opened the door to reveal the dorm. Harry was sitting with his back against the footboard now, one leg bent at the knee and arms crossed. “Don’t you look dashing?” he laughed.
“Remind me to leave a set of clothes in your trunk from now on,” she said as she set her uniform on top of the closed case. She climbed over him and sat against the headboard, folding her legs and placing her hands in her lap. Harry had this odd look on his face as he looked at her. It was a mix between a smile and something else. “What?” she asked.
“Nothing!” His expression immediately changed.
“So, back to the subject that you probably thought you were going to get out of: who did you like?”
“Honestly?” he asked.
Hermione nodded. “Yeah, I sort of just told you my deepest darkest secret.”
“Yes, I can safely say I did not know.”
“I did my job, then. Tell me,” she cried, slapping his knee.
“Well, you’re going to think I’m kidding but I definitely liked you. How crazy is that?”
Hermione’s heart skipped a beat. Or maybe it completely stopped, she wasn’t sure. She looked Harry in the eyes. He did not seem to be joking. “Really?” she asked sincerely.
“Yeah, go figure.” He seemed slightly embarrassed. Hermione felt that this was probably the way you told someone you like, or used to like, them and not the boisterous show she just put on. She felt awful for having lied.
“Third and fourth year?”
Harry nodded shyly.
“Why? I mean, I suppose I know the general reasons why, but it’s just weird.” Hermione blurted out. She hadn’t meant for it to come out quite so harshly, but she had no idea why anyone, let alone Harry, would think her attractive during that period of her life.
“The fact that anyone found me desirable back then amazes me.”
She truly was amazed. Hermione hadn’t felt pretty once in her life until after the Yule Ball, and that was because of Harry. She always thought he was just being nice because that’s what friends do, but come to find out it was because he liked her. He had the desire to be with her as more than a friend. The thought just blew Hermione’s mind. Every nice thing he had ever said, every nice thing he had ever done, was genuinely him. Never in her life did she feel more beautiful than she did at that moment, sitting on Harry’s bed wrapped in his clothes.
Hermione didn’t know why, but she felt like crying. Still, she held her composure to ask, “So at the Yule Ball, everything you said… you meant it?”
“Of course I meant it. Even if I didn’t like you, I still would’ve meant it. You were, and still are, truly stunning.”
Hermione folded her lips inside her mouth and felt the tears spill over.
“Oh, no, I didn’t-” Harry sputtered.
“No, no,” she said, waving one hand while wiping her eyes with the other, laughing, “these are happy tears. I think.”
“What’s-” He was about to ask what was wrong, but as she had said they were tears of happiness, he asked what happened instead.
“All these years I thought you were just saying those things to be nice. I didn’t know you meant them.”
“Hermione, I wouldn’t say it if I didn’t mean it. I can’t believe you thought this this whole time.”
“Yeah, I know. Stupid me.” She wiped her face with her shirt before remembering it wasn’t hers. “Oh, sorry.”
“I suppose a very belated ‘thank you’ is in order.”
“No need to thank me. What I want to know is why you’re so ready to believe you aren’t pretty.”
“I don’t know. I really don’t. No one except for the Slytherins has ever told me I’m ugly, but even before then I didn’t feel… I don’t know,” she finished as she wiped her face again.
“You can keep the shirt, I don’t want the snot,” he joked. Hermione smiled through her tears.
“You’re really the only one who’s ever made me feel pretty.” She didn’t know why she told him that. She had promised herself long ago she was never going to do so. But at that moment it just felt right to.
“I’m glad to have that honour,” he said as he made a grand sweeping gesture and bowed his head.
She let out a tiny laugh, more on the side of a giggle. “Okay, Hermione, stop crying,” she said as she fanned her face and blinked rapidly. “I’m done.”
“At least this time I made you cry for something good.”
Hermione laughed again, this time heartily. “Stop making me laugh.”
“I’m not trying to,” he lied.
“Well stop anyway.”
“Why did you like me, if you don’t mind me asking?”
“If you want the truth,” Harry sighed, “I don’t know.”
“You don’t know?” she asked confusedly.
“I wish I had some clear-cut reason as to why I liked you, but I really don’t. I mean, it was just the little things.”
“Like what?” Hermione was genuinely curious. She was still skeptical as to what anyone could have possibly liked about her back then.
“I don’t know. If you wanted me to go through everything we’d be here all night,” he said timidly.
Hermione didn’t want to push him, but she was longing to know what was good about her. She had an idea of what he was going to say, but she wanted to hear him tell her. “Oh, alright,” she replied, perhaps a tad more sad then she intended. Harry had evidently noticed and he sighed.
“Hermione, I liked everything about you. The way you would always wait for me, no matter how long I took. How you laughed. How worried you always were, despite how annoying you thought you were. I liked how you independent you were but you still needed me. I like how smart you are. The way you push your hair behind your ear when you’re nervous. Your smile. The way your nose flares when you’re upset. How your eyes change shade when the temperature changes or with your mood. The way you always seem to know what to say. How you’re willing to- Um, well, like I said, we’d be here all night. It’s the little things,” he reiterated.
Hermione sat in silence, stunned. When Harry said the little things, he truly meant it. Some of the things he described were so miniscule that only someone who, as he said, was practically in love with you would notice. She had no idea she even did some of those things, and the fact that Harry had noticed, even more that he remembered, made her feel pleased. Hermione beamed at Harry and he looked away bashfully.
“You are extremely observant,” she commented.
“I do what I can.”
He glanced at her and nodded his welcome, then focused his gaze elsewhere.
“Isn’t that unfortunate, though?” Harry asked after a moment.
“You liked me, I liked you, but neither of us did anything about it.”
In the time span of a split second, Hermione had a decision to make. She could either tell Harry the truth and possibly let him be crushed forever (though he’d just laugh it off), or she could let the lie go on and let him have this one fourteen-year-old fantasy. “It is unfortunate,” she decided to say. She saw Harry’s lips turn up ever so slightly and she instantly knew she’d done the right thing.
“If we had gone out do you think we’d still be together? Just out of curiosity,” he added.
“I think so. Even if we did somehow end up hating each other’s guts we’d both be too stubborn to be the one to break it off.”
Harry laughed. “You’re right about that. We’d stay with each other out of spite.”
“No, but honestly, I think we would. I imagine the way we act now, just with lots and lots of kissing.”
“I still can’t get over that. You used to like me,” Harry said incredulously.
“It’s really not that surprising. You’re perfect.”
Harry scoffed. “Thanks, but we both know I’m far from it.”
Hermione shrugged. “Eh. I think so.”
“If you get to call sixteen-year-old Harry perfect, then I get to call fourteen-year-old Hermione perfect.”
She pursed her lips. Harry sure did know what buttons to push. He raised his eyebrows, awaiting an answer. “Fine.”
He stuck his tongue out; she reciprocated. He gave her the finger. Hermione feigned disgust and threw a pillow at him. Harry caught it and threw it back, following his throw by pouncing on her. She screamed and tried to push him off but he was far too heavy. Harry began to tickle her, which she thoroughly hated and he knew, and her screams became more desperate.
“Harry,” she choked out when she managed to gain enough breath, “stop – it!”
But he was of course relentless. The more she struggled the more Harry tickled. Hermione understood this logic but the only thing on her mind was getting Harry off of her, so she continued to struggle against him. She managed to grab one of his hands and she pulled it down to her side, but Harry simply used his other hand to pry it free and kept her pinned by straddling her. She kicked her feet wildly in hope to throw him off but that didn’t work either. She was doing some mixture between crying, laughing, and screaming that only seemed to please Harry.
“Get off!” she wailed. Harry just laughed at her.
Hermione mustered as much strength as she could and pushed on his chest. He wavered for just long enough to allow Hermione to push him again roll on top of him. She sat on him and tried to pin his hands to the bed but he caught her wrists and easily pushed her off. However, Hermione had somewhat recovered and was able to put up a good fight. They rolled around on the bed for a minute or so before they reached the edge of the bed. They teetered for a fraction of a second before Hermione called Harry’s name and they fell off the edge.
The fall wasn’t that long, but they landed with a loud thud. They were side by side but facing each other. “Oww,” they moaned, then looked at each other and laughed. They were guffawing so severely Hermione could feel abs forming. They laid on the ground, too weak to continue to prop themselves up. The laughing would cease momentarily, then the two would catch one another’s eye and recommence. They went on like this for a good five minutes.
Hermione stared up at the ceiling, a huge smile plastered on her features. Out of her peripheral vision she could see Harry in the same position.
“I definitely won,” he said breathlessly.
“You’re a terrible person. You know I hate being tickled.”
“All’s fair in love and war,” he quoted.
“-and this is a little bit of both,” she finished.
Harry smiled and exhaled through his nose. “I feel kind of bad for them, though.”
“Our fourteen-year-old selves. It seems unfair that they never got to tell each other how they felt.”
“And how awful is it that two years later they finally tell each other but they’re just friends?”
“Fourteen-year-old Harry is probably cringing right now,” Harry said.
Hermione suddenly got an idea. She might not have really liked Harry, but he no doubt liked her and he, or at least fourteen-year-old Harry, deserved satisfaction. It was the least she could do for blatantly lying to him, regardless of the fact it was years ago.
As she sat up, she hoped with every fiber in her being that she wasn’t doing something stupid and completely ruining what it took six years to build. “Sit up,” she commanded, and Harry obliged.
“Bossy,” he said under his breath, though it was obvious he had meant for Hermione to hear. She smirked and shook her head.
They sat facing each other with their legs crossed. Hermione scooted up until their knees were touching. Harry had confusion written all over his face but he didn’t say anything. Hermione’s heart pounded with the realization of what she was about to do, but she didn’t feel like taking it back at all. She smiled at Harry as she grabbed the back of his neck and pulled him in while also pulling herself forward. She felt him hesitate for a moment before he willingly leaned in and allowed her to kiss him.
It wasn’t heart-stopping or faint-worthy, but it was nice and Hermione couldn’t deny that she enjoyed kissing him. His lips were soft and seemed to move perfectly with hers, as if predicting her movements milliseconds before she made them.
Hermione realized she liked it. Really liked it. She liked the feeling of Harry’s mouth on hers, the feeling of his hands woven in her hair. She liked how close they were sitting. She liked how they seemed to be moving in perfect unison. But most of all, Hermione liked how natural it felt.
After a few moments, Hermione gingerly pulled away. She opened her eyes and stared directly into Harry’s striking chartreuse orbs. She felt her face grow hot. She hadn’t meant, not in the slightest, to feel anything while kissing him. But she did.
She chalked it up to simply enjoying the sensation of being kissed, not necessarily kissing Harry. She didn’t like him as anything more than a friend and she had only kissed him to be nice, to make up for the lie. It was technically Hermione’s first kiss, anyway; she was bound to feel something more from it. She would’ve felt the same way if it were Ron, or even Neville, simply because it was the first one.
Hermione ignored the tugging sensation she felt in the pit of her stomach.
The two Gryffindors released each other. A goofy grin crept onto Harry’s features and continued to grow until Hermione was sure his face was going to crack. It was infectious and she couldn’t help but reciprocate it.
“And here I thought we were just friends, Hermione Granger,” Harry quipped.
“I figured fourteen-year-old Harry and fourteen-year-old Hermione had some unfinished business. They deserved at least one kiss.”
Harry raised his eyebrows. “Deserved it?”
“We were fourteen and we were awkward. The chances of either of us admitting that we liked each other back then were slim to none. It could’ve worked out, so yeah, they deserved it.”
“Fair enough. You’re a pretty good kisser, by the way,” he smirked.
“You’re not so bad yourself,” Hermione winked. “No hard feelings, right?”
“No, of course not. Just tying up loose ends, right?”
Hermione felt a sense of relief; he wasn’t going to take it as anything more than she had intended. “Exactly.”
Hermione folded her hands and stared at her lap. She sighed heavily. She hadn’t know where it had come from or why, but the sudden realization that the day would have to end hit her hard. For the first time in a long time, she and Harry had fun. Simple fun, without the constant reminders of Voldemort and his Death Eaters or the stress of school. The circumstances under which they had met weren’t the best, but it didn’t matter. She had even gotten a kiss out of it; Hermione would call it a successful day.
She looked up from her lap and into his eyes. “I miss this, Harry,” she uttered.
“I miss you.”
“I do, too.”
“I don’t know if I can just walk out of this room today and go back to the way things were.”
Harry cocked his head. “You really like talking to me, huh?”
“Yes! God, yes. This has been so great.”
He was silent for a long while. Hermione prepared herself for some long speech about how they couldn’t talk and how he was trying to do what was best, but instead she got, “Okay.”
“Okay?” she asked incredulously.
He smiled. “Why not?”
Hermione screeched and threw herself forward, throwing her arms around his neck and knocking him backwards. Harry was flat on his back but he wrapped his arms around her nonetheless.
“One condition,” Harry said.
“You have to help me practice Occlumency.”
Hermione lifted her head up to look at him. “What?”
“I got some books from the Restricted Section and I’ve been reading through them. I think I can do fairly well, but I still need some help.”
“What do you need me to do?”
“Would it be too much trouble to ask you to learn Legilimency?” he asked sheepishly.
“Well,” she began, “lucky for you I learned Legilimency last year.”
“Mhm. I figured the day would come when you finally decided to defy the teachers. I just didn’t want to put the idea in your head because, well, it would’ve been the wrong thing to do.”
“You’re really something else, you know that?”
“I just know you better than you know yourself. But you do realize Occlumency requires going to sleep every now and then?”
Harry sighed. “Yeah, I know.”
“That’s my condition. If you want my help, you have to sleep.”
“I think we can work something out.”
Hermione beamed at her friend. She no longer had to think about making the day last because she was able to talk to him again. On top of that, she was finally going to help Harry get rid of the dreams. She gave Harry a quick peck.
“That was for sixteen-year-old Harry.”
“I certainly think I got the short end of the stick, here.”
The door to the dormitory opened. Dean and Seamus walked in, took one look at Harry and Hermione, and walked right back out calling out their apologies. Hermione could only imagine what it looked like to the two of them: Harry’s bed was a mess, Hermione’s uniform had been knocked off Harry’s trunk during their little scuffle and her clothes were sprawled about, and they were on the floor, Hermione lying on top of Harry.
“It’s not what it looks like!” Harry cried out. Hermione snorted and burst out laughing as she sat up. “Oh, the rumors we’re going to hear about this one…”
I decided that I wanted to write a light-hearted chapter, so I hope you enjoyed reading it as much as I enjoyed writing it! P.S., I didn’t know if you guys had noticed, but when Harry’s listing all the things he liked about Hermione, he starts speaking in the present tense, something Hermione doesn’t catch on to. Harry notices he’s doing it which is why he stops so abruptly.
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