Chapter 16 : Christmas Kisses
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Soon it was Christmas. All of Hogwarts was decked out with decorations, especially the Great Hall. After a magnificent Christmas dinner, all the present students separated to have their own celebrations with friends. The Astronomy tower was never busier any other time of the year. Harry and Laura spent most of the time trying to find a private spot to exchange gifts among other things. Meanwhile, Gryffindor Tower was clearing out and soon only a few people were left, drinking hot cocoa and sitting next to the fire.
Ron wished Harry were there so they could play a game of chess or something. He shot a glance across the room to where Hermione, Lavender, and Parvati sat drinking cocoa. Hermione was laughing. The firelight highlighted her hair and he’d never seen her glow so radiantly. She looked so mature. Ugh, if only Lavender and Parvati would leave… He wanted to give her his present. She had given him the gift she’d pre-ordered in August the night before, but for some reason he’d forgotten all about it with the joy he found in the new broom she’d gotten him. She gave it to him in hopes he’d make it next year.
He got up and ran to his room to get the gift. After grabbing the small package, he walked back into the common room with that package in hand. Parvati saw what Ron was holding and drew the conclusion he’d like to be alone with Hermione. She poked Lavender in the side. Lavender glanced upwards and also saw Ron there. They got up to leave at the same time, whispering quietly as they went to their rooms. Hermione then looked up, saw Ron, and didn’t realize they were alone. He sat down next to her on the couch and cleared his throat.
“I forgot to give you this yesterday…” He handed her the package with an apologetic half-smile. “Happy Christmas, Hermione.”
“Thanks,” she said. She opened it up. Her eyes widened and a smile appeared on her face as she pulled the silver chained necklace from the box. It had a silver H with “love Ron” engraved on the back.
“It’s not as expensive as the broom you got me…” He felt ashamed and knew he’d be paying back Charlie and Bill for centuries. “I’m sorry. I mean—I hope it’s all right—”
“It’s beautiful,” she smiled broader. “Thank you.”
“Wingardium leviosa,” Parvati levitated some mistletoe while Lavender giggled quietly.
Hermione saw the floating mistletoe knowing it was meant to hover above her head instead of Ron’s, took advantage of the moment and kissed him straight on the lips.
Ron was terrified and their first kiss was stunted by his nerves. She thought he hadn’t wanted her to kiss him so she nervously pointed to the mistletoe that had now floated to the centre of where they sat. He nodded as if to say ‘right’, feeling she wouldn’t have kissed him otherwise. Parvati moved the mistletoe slightly so it was now above Hermione’s head before being pulled away by Lavender.
He noticed it and decided to take matters into his own hands. He leaned forward slowly and this time when their lips met they both had their nerves under control. Testing waters they had never experienced, she received his tongue with closed eyes, concentrating solely the deepening kiss. With courage he caressed her russet locks while his other hand went to her waist to pull her closer to him. Eventually they had to break away in order to breathe, but he had really enjoyed kissing her. It just made everything feel so right. She was blushing furiously and could hardly look at him she was smiling so much.
“So does this change everything?” she asked him, meaning about them being ‘just friends’.
“I guess so,” was all he could breathe in response.
He guessed so? What kind of answer was that? Did he not want to have a girlfriend? She was confused. She didn’t want to ruin their friendship because she was throwing herself at him or even asking him if they were something. She didn’t know what she should say. She obviously didn’t think much before she blurted out, “If you don’t want to be more than friends, that’s fine. I understand if there’s someone you fancy…”
“I fancy you,” he said before he could stop himself. “I mean-If you want to be more than friends, then that’s great, but if you don’t I understand,” he tried to cover for himself and it hadn’t worked because she was already kissing him again.
On the 28th of December, Seamus Finnigan found Harry coming down the stairs into the common room and approached him. “Hey, Harry—”
“Oh, hey Seamus.” He noticed something was wrong. “Is everything all right?”
He shook his head. “I’m real sorry to say this, Harry, but I just saw your girlfriend snogging Malfoy—”
“That’s not funny Seamus!” Harry didn’t believe him.
“It’s true, Harry. I wouldn’t lie to you about it. I thought you should know. If you don’t believe me, ask anyone. I heard she’s even slept with that blighter.”
“I’ve heard that too,” Dean piped in, “they’re all calling her the ‘sexy Slytherin slag’. But you know, I wouldn’t worry too much about it, Harry.”
“That’s because she’s not your girlfriend,” Harry responded, his voice laced with cynicism. He’d heard enough from Ginny and Ron about how Laura was using him or that she was evil. He wasn’t stupid. He’d heard rumours about her since they started dating, but it didn’t really hit home until Seamus and Dean told him. It was getting embarrassing. He’d have to talk to her.
Later that day, he met up with her and when he was about to bring up what was troubling him, an owl flew into the study room they sat in. It was an owl for Laura.
“Who’s it from?” he asked.
Laura looked up from the letter looking glum as she said, “My father.” She finished reading the letter and crumpled it in her hand.
“I don’t want to talk about it right now,” she replied honestly. It was better than lying. She didn’t want to lie to him anymore.
Concern filled his expression, but it didn’t cause him to forget what she had done. It might not be the best time to confront her about cheating on him, but it would never be a good time. He blurted out, “Seamus told me he saw you kissing Malfoy today. Is this true?”
Shock and resignation rushed into her veins. She couldn’t move.
“It wasn’t just him,” he was saying, “others saw you two…you two in the common room of Slytherin…” he swallowed, “you and Malfoy. Are the rumours true?”
Tears welled in her eyes, but she refused to shed them. She tore her gaze away from him and stood up, crossing her arms under her breasts. “Yes,” she exhaled.
He couldn’t believe this. She wasn’t his first girlfriend of course. He’d dated Cho last year and they broke up when she graduated, but Laura was different. With Laura he felt something different than a crush, something deeper. He felt she was the first person he’d ever fallen in love with and she had cheated on him!
“It’s not what you think,” she truthfully sighed. “I’m not the slag people are saying I am. You have no idea what it’s like to be in Slytherin…especially for the new students. I’m harassed constantly everyday because I’m different. It’s not about ethnicity or anything… and you know it’s not about me being mudblood since I am a pureblood. It’s about transferring from Beauxbaton… The girls all believe that they’re better than me because they started at Hogwarts right away and can do magic. You know I’m inept to do the simplest of spells and they all relish a good laugh at me for that.”
“My father sent me a lovely note about how disappointed he is with me for failing Transfiguration this term. I know the others will find out about it and use that against me as well,” she told him. “You know what they’ve done to me?”
He shook his head.
“They’ve stolen my books and ripped out pages! They stole various things I brought with me from home like my mother’s necklace I only took off once when I went to shower! They’ve broken my compact mirror and put colouring in my soap so my skin was dyed purple and it took days to scrub it all off! The only way to put a stop to their torments was to make a deal with Malfoy!” She broke off for a second letting it all fall in place for Harry.
“What do you mean?” he questioned her.
“You know what I mean,” she insisted.
“That’s horrible, Laura! There must be some other way-Talk to Snape, he’s head of your house, there must be something he could do to—”
She was shaking her head. “No, no. There was nothing else I could do. Malfoy explained it all to me and it was too true…him being a Prefect. What other choice did I have? Go home? That’d be a great story to tell my father. ‘Sorry, Dad, I couldn’t take the girls teasing me, so I had to come home and cry about it.’ You know what he would do? He’d—” She inhaled sharply. “He’d probably beat me senseless and ship me off to some psychiatric ward for muggles!”
Harry swallowed. He didn’t know whether to believe her or not. She’d been cheating on him with Malfoy… He shook his head. He cared for her so much and even though she’d lied before, it had been for good reason. He thought it through carefully before brushing the long black hair away from her eyes. “I’m sorry.”
“Don’t feel sorry for me. I’m the one who owes you the apology. Before I met you I gave myself to Malfoy as insurance for protection against those girls and yet they still gossip about me…” She shook her head. “It’s gotten better-they don’t steal or damage any of my belongings, but I can’t help but feel my sacrifice wasn’t worth it. I should have waited until I met-someone I really cared for.” Her eyes met his.
“Do you really mean that?” Harry asked her carefully.
“I do,” she answered, her breath uneven.
He kissed her then, wishing she never had to go through such pain; such a pitiful existence. He wished there was something he could do to make it all go away. Something to help her…
It was at this moment, she could have her way with Harry Potter. She could have requested the one thing that was on her mind- the one thing she was delegated to get him to do, but she couldn’t go through with it. She couldn’t ask him to do it.
Things were starting to heat up and Harry was beginning to unbutton her blouse when she stopped him. “I’m sorry,” he automatically responded.
“No Harry, I want to, I really do, but I don’t deserve you.” Her breathing was rapid and inconsistent. “You deserve better than me.” She was near to tears.
Either really knew how to play a lad or she was really in love with him. He couldn’t tell, but at that moment he hadn’t been thinking with his heart or his head. His breathing was coming out in gasps as he desperately got a hold of himself.
“Just hold me,” she requested innocently.
He put his arms around her, pulling her to his chest and she closed her eyes, resting in his warm, fully clad, embrace.
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