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The Meaning of Lonely by EpiskeyPM
Chapter 30 : Conductor
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 15

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You guys don't know how completely AMBUSHED I am with school, but hopefully I'll get some more free time soon. I tried to make this one longer to make up for every thing. I love you guys so much, please enjoy :)


According to Cameron, the Riley Fair was in town. Hermione remembered being asked to go many times when she was a child but crowds and funnel cake were never really her “thing.” She much preferred studying for her spelling tests. There was allegedly a special history behind the fair, but she’d never paid much attention to it; the only history she knew was that it had been where Lucille and Donovan met. At any rate, Hermione wasn’t keen to go. She just wanted to be up under Harry until it was time to return to Hogwarts.

And Harry offered to stay with her. Of course he did. He wasn’t going to go out with her family without her, despite how much Hermione told him it would be alright if he went. Go on, she’d told him, have some fun. You don’t have to be stuck in the house with me.

Naturally, Harry wasn’t going anywhere.

Lucille, Donovan, and even Cameron kept trying to convince her of otherwise though, saying it would be nice for a little family outing, and that it would be good for her to clear her head for a few hours. But to be honest Hermione was still a bit sad and she was still recovering from those breakdowns both at the funeral and that morning on the patio. Contact with other people was not something she was pining for at the moment.

Cameron came to her while Harry was downstairs talking to Donovan. The two had struck up an easy friendship over breakfast and had been chatting for quite a while, about what Hermione was not aware. “Hey little sister,” the girl breathed as she fell onto Hermione’s bed.

“What’s wrong?” replied Hermione concernedly, noting Cameron’s defeated tone and somber demeanor.

“I want you to go to the fair with us,” she whined.

Hermione rested her head against the headboard behind her. “Cameron...”

“I get that you’re not exactly having the best time of your life right now and that you don’t really want to be bothered, but you can’t just avoid everyone.”

“Harry’s staying with me,” Hermione stated as if it would magically fix the problem.

Cameron exhaled shortly and tossed her blonde hair out of her face. “Don’t you think you use him as a bit of a crutch?”

Hermione chuckled. “You have no idea.”

“Enlighten me, then.”

The witch shook her head calmly.

“Why not?”

“Cameron, it’s nothing personal, I’m just not in the mood to do anymore talking.”

“I’m just worried about you.”

She slowly raised her head to look at her Godsister. “I appreciate everything you all are trying to do but honestly, I just want to be left alone right now.”

“And by alone you mean with Harry,” Cameron deadpanned.

Hermione didn’t say anything.

“Look, I’m not going to sit here and be preachy about how your parents would want you to be happy and how life goes on and all that nonsense because that’s not what you want to hear. I get that. And I get that all of this is still fresh and you have a right to be sad and distraught and upset. But what I don’t want is for you to use Harry as a back-up plan every time something goes wrong.”

“What are you trying to say?”

“I’m just saying that there’s going to come a time when something’s going to go wrong and Harry won’t be there to pick up the pieces. And you’re going to need to be able to survive on your own.”

Hermione blew the comment off. “Harry’s always going to be there.”

“Okay, so what if he is? Are you just going to rely on him for emotional stability your whole life? You and I both know you can’t do that, ‘Mione.”

“You think I don’t know that? Do you not remember all those letters, all those times I came to you in tears because of him?”

“Of course I do-”

“I know it’s a problem, Cameron. I know that I literally cannot function without him and it sucks. It’s not fair to him or me. I’m going to work on it but I can’t do that right now. You probably didn’t hear me but I had a panic attack around four in the morning and I was vomiting until around seven.”

Cameron’s expression softened drastically. “Hermione...”

“I’m not looking for your pity. I just want you to understand.”

“And I do understand. But I want you to understand me as well. Try looking at it from my perspective: your favourite person in the whole universe comes home for the first time in four months and she’s all over some guy you just met. Then every time you try to talk to her she runs to him, and only him-”

Hermione cocked her head. “Are you jealous?”

“What?” she exclaimed defensively.

“Are you jealous of Harry?”

“That’s crazy talk. Why would I be jealous of him? I’ve known you way longer than he ever will, and better too. I just want what’s best for you.”

Where she was coming from was easy enough to see. Had the tables been turned, Hermione probably would’ve had a little green monster on her shoulder. Cameron did know her longer and perhaps better than Harry did, but things were just different with him. They always have been.

Hermione simply nodded.

“At any rate,” Cameron continued, tossing her blonde locks from her eyes, “I’m sorry about your panic attack and the puking. And I suppose I never exactly said it, but I’m sorry about your parents. They were like family to me, too.”

“Thank you.”

“I hope you sort through whatever it is you need to sort through with Harry as well. In the meantime, though, you should come to the fair with us.”

Hermione groaned in response.

“C’mon, please? You don’t have to have fun or whatever; you can sit at a table all night for all I care. But at least go for Harry’s sake.”

Hermione knitted her eyebrows. “For Harry’s sake?” she repeated.

“I remember you telling me how he never had much of a childhood and,” she shrugged, “I don’t know, when’s the last time he’s ever been invited somewhere decent for something other than Christmas?”

Hermione’s eyes softened and dropped.

“You know he’s not going to go if you don’t and he won’t tell you that he wants to go because he won’t want to make you feel guilty. Even if you just sit around, you should at least come with us.”

Hermione hadn’t thought of it the way Cameron had. Harry probably hadn’t been anywhere nice and actually had a decent time. And he was sacrificing what was perhaps his only chance to go somewhere fun for what could be a long time simply because she didn’t want to go. It would be awful if she took that away from him.

Going to the fair was the last thing she wanted. But Harry had done so much for her during the last few days, it was the least she could do.

She sighed. “Well when you put it like that...”

Cameron perked up. “So you’ll go?”

“I suppose I will.”

The older girl squealed and ran out of the room. Footsteps pounded on the staircase and Cameron’s muffled voice joined Harry’s and Donovan’s. Hermione couldn’t make out what they were saying but it was extremely likely that she was informing them of her accomplishment.

The three of them had an excited little conversation before Harry and Cameron returned upstairs. Cameron disappeared into her room and Harry stood just inside the doorway of theirs.

“So you’ve changed your mind then?”

“Yeah, I did.”

He took a few more steps inside. “And why is that?”

“I thought it might be nice to get out for a bit,” she lied.

He lowered his voice. “She isn’t forcing you is she?”


“Because we can stay here if you want. I know you probably aren’t, er, in the best of moods right now.”

Hermione did her best to smile. “Really, I’m fine. I want to go. It’ll be fun.”

“Alright, well, if you say so. Donovan said we’ll leave as soon as everyone’s ready.”

“Speaking of Donovan,” she started as she got on her knees and scooted to the edge of the bed, “what on earth were you two talking about down there?”

Harry smirked. “Wouldn’t you like to know.”

“I would, actually.”

“It was just man talk; you wouldn’t understand.”

They were all up and ready to go by six in the evening. They would have left around two but Lucille said the fairs don’t get good until it starts getting dark. Donovan and Cameron agreed enthusiastically; as Harry and Hermione had never been to one, they assumed the others were right.

The weather was delightfully mild for it to be the middle of November. There weren’t any clouds in the sky nor was there any wind to bite at their faces. The bright lights of the Riley Fair’s numerous rides and signs contrasted beautifully with the purples and oranges of the sunset.

They paid their entrance fee and walked under a large archway with the words “E. RILEY FAIR” spelt out in pulsing Christmas lights. The first notable thing was the Ferris wheel: it was situated in the center of the fairground and had white twinkling lights reminiscent of stars on it. It was truly a wondrous sight. Hermione couldn’t help but notice a certain sparkle in Harry’s eye. She smiled at him and looped her arm around his. He drew his eyes from the wheel and grinned broadly at her, pulled her closer to him and stuck his hands in his pockets, then returned his stare to the wheel.

A little girl with light brown ringlets of hair stumbled past, hugging a dark brown bear that was half her size. It had glittering green eyes, a red bowtie, and a permanently embroidered smile. Someone had probably won it for her at one of the game booths. Hermione grinned at the pure happiness on the girl’s face: all it took was a stuffed animal to make her smile.

Donovan and Lucille led the tour of the fair hand in hand with Cameron, Harry, and Hermione not far behind. The two of them pointed out things they remembered from the first time they met and shared a kiss at every memory. The Vertical Tower was where Lucille had asked Donovan to hold her things while she got on the ride. It was also where she threw up on him when she got off. The bathroom was where they exchanged countless “I’m sorry”s and “it’s okay”s. The cotton candy stand was where Donovan had bought her something for the first time. And right in front of the Ferris wheel was where they shared their first kiss.

Her Godparent’s stories made the place have a kind of aura, made her look around differently. It was nice to be in a place where your problems didn’t matter. Maybe that old woman had a life-threatening disease. Maybe that little boy’s pet had just run away. But here no one thought about those things. It was hard to, considering the magic of it, despite the complete lack thereof.

She saw the dark brown teddy bear several more times as the group walked through the fair ground, getting on rides and stopping at booths. It had secretly come to be known as “Beary Potter,” as its green eyes, dark “hair”, and red tie reminded Hermione of Harry. Her face would practically break every time she saw the bear, and she’d sometimes fall into a giggle fit at her own inside joke.

After having a quick snack of hot chocolate and funnel cake (which Hermione actually liked a lot), the five of them had separated to go to the bathroom.

“Aren’t you glad you decided to come?” Cameron asked as she fixed her makeup in the mirror.

Hermione grinned. “Yeah.”

“What’s your favourite thing so far?” Lucille asked from inside a stall.

“The people.”

Cameron stopped applying her eyeliner and looked at Hermione through the mirror. “The people?” she replied with her mother.

“Well, yes! Everyone is so nice.”

Lucille flushed and came out of the stall, pulling her shirt down. “All the rides, the food, the sights, and you choose the people.”

“Typical Hermione.”

“How do you think Harry likes it?” asked Lucille.

Cameron put her numerous containers of makeup away. “He’s not paying much attention to the sights if you catch my drift.”

“What do you mean? He’s mesmerized.”

“Yeah, by you.”

Lucille snorted.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “We’re just friends.”

“He doesn’t take his eyes off of you,” Cameron stated.

Lucille nodded. “She’s right, sweetie.”

“Oh, what would you know, you’re snogging Donovan every chance you get, Luie,” joked Hermione.

The Grants laughed. Lucille turned slightly red and shrugged. A few more comments on Harry’s and Hermione’s nonexistent love life were made and the three of them exited the bathroom. The moon had completely taken the sun’s place and the fairground looked even more beautiful.

Minutes passed. Harry and Donovan were nowhere to be seen. The girls contemplated looking for them but the place was huge and it would be safer to just stay at the last spot they had seen each other.

“There is no reason for them to be in the bathroom that long, blimey,” commented Cameron. “I’m about to march in there myself.”

But no sooner had she said that did they appear in the distance and Lucille, Cameron, and Hermione began to close the gap between them.

“Where did you lot run off to?” Lucille asked as she re-clasped her hand with Donovan’s.

“We didn’t have to pee so we played a few games,” Donovan replied.

Cameron waved her hand dismissively. “No matter, I’m starving. Can we have an actual meal now?”

Donovan looked around at the group. “Are you guys hungry?”

They all muttered an agreement with Cameron and nodded. She smiled triumphantly and marched in the direction of the nearest food cart. Apparently the rest of the fair’s attendees had gotten the same idea as there was an extremely long line. But, there was a long while until closing and they didn’t want to rush all of the attractions, so they just waited in the queue.

One of the dads in line was holding a Beary Potter. Hermione bit her lip.

Somewhere between five and ten minutes of waiting Donovan told the others to sit down; he’d wait in line for all of them until it was time to order. They protested heavily, saying they’d gladly wait in line with him, but he used the fact that Hermione’s knee still hurt a bit against them. If it weren’t for the fact that it was beginning to throb, she would’ve continued to protest. So, the four of them left Donovan in line and they sat down at a vacant picnic table. The cool temperature of the wood seeped through Hermione’s clothes and she shivered.

“Oh, here,” Harry said brightly as he took off his coat.

“Harry, no, I’m fine.”

“I told you already, I don’t get cold easily.” He draped the thick wool over her shoulders. Hermione instantly felt warmth wash over her, and the fact that the coat smelled like him was simply a plus.

“Thanks,” she replied as she slid her arms into the sleeves. Like normal, Harry’s clothes were ill-fitting: Hermione easily had two extra inches of sleeve length and even though she was seated it wasn’t hard to tell that the coat was long.

Lucille caught Hermione’s eye and wiggled her eyebrows. The Goddaughter smiled and shook her head embarrassedly. When was the world going to understand that she and Harry were just friends?

“How are you enjoying the festivities, Harry?” Cameron asked after a long pause.

“Oh, they’re wonderful! I’ve actually never been to a fair before and this is really great. Thank you for inviting me,” he said sincerely to Lucille.

“Don’t mention it, love. It’s our pleasure.”

“Can’t be a pleasure to your pocketbooks,” he joked.

Lucille chuckled. “It’s no trouble, really. As much as Mimi talks about you, you’re practically family.”

Hermione took that opportunity to tune out of the conversation and people-watch. It was here that she learned people-watching was a great way to escape your own head. So easy it was to get consumed in your own made up stories about those around you that you could forget you even existed. She made a mental note to let Harry know of her discovery; perhaps people-watching could be effective at bringing yourself out of panic attacks as well.

A misplaced feeling of guilt bubbled up inside of her. Panic attacks were no joke; she had Harry sitting there with her and she was still frightened out of her mind. Harry probably went through them by himself. How scary it must’ve been for him, and how alone did he feel? Knowing that he was going through these awful, no doubt reoccurring, episodes that no one knew about? And how had Hermione never noticed?

The sound of intense laughter caught her attention. She looked to her left where Harry and Lucille and Cameron were sitting. Her ears still focused on the sound of the little girl at the next table, Hermione watched as Harry spoke animatedly, his hands flying about as he described, and Lucille and Cameron steadily laughed across from him. Hermione looked between her family and her friend and felt a smile creep onto her face.

Perhaps it was the atmosphere of the Riley Fair, but for the first time Hermione realized how incredibly charming Harry was. Considering the fact that he spent practically the first eleven years of his life neglected and abused, it was only expected that he’d be socially retarded. But no, not Harry. He’d somehow managed to capture Lucille’s heart and even worm his way into Cameron’s. Even Donovan seemed to like him. Harry could be incredibly sweet when he wanted to be, what with that little twinkle in his eye, his disgustingly friendly smile, and his inviting voice.

The more Hermione thought about it, the more she wondered how she hadn’t managed to fall for him herself. Every other girl had, and they didn’t know a fraction of what she did about Harry. He was as perfect as they came! But, maybe she was just used to it. Maybe it was the simple fact that she knew him on a much different level that prevented those sorts of feelings from ever coming up. Or maybe, just maybe, everyone else really did see something she didn’t.

Suddenly they were all looking at her. Had they asked her a question? Hermione wasn’t paying the slightest bit of attention despite the fact that she was looking right at them. “Sorry, what?” she asked sheepishly.

“I just asked if you would come with me for a second,” Harry – Hermione assumed – repeated.

“Right, of course, yeah.” She swung her legs over the picnic bench and stood up. Luckily, her knee didn’t give out. Harry’s cold fingers laced with her own icicles and he led the way to wherever they were going. She thought about asking what the destination was but it honestly wasn’t that important.

Their walk was short and silent. Hermione kept stealing glances at her friend, trying to get a feel of what they were doing, but his eyes were fixed forward, squinted against the lights. “There,” he whispered, more to himself, and pulled Hermione in a beeline for one of the game booths.

It was the Target Practice booth. Simple enough, the objective was to just throw a rubber ball at each of the targets as they lit up. In order to win one had to hit seven out of the ten targets. The only catch was that you could only hit the green ones; red targets were big no-nos.

The booth runner adjusted her suspenders. “Ah, back for more, ay?”

Back for more? Hermione didn’t remember stopping to play this game.

Harry let go of Hermione’s hand and dug in his pocket for two tickets to slap onto the counter. “Yeah, I’m actually going to take a prize this time.”

“Right-o, Bigshot.” The runner handed Harry a small blue ball and flipped a switch underneath the register. “We’re putting it on medium this time.”

“Sounds good to me.”

Hermione seemed to have been forgotten. She tightened the jacket around her and tucked her hands inside the sleeves, waiting for some indication that she was standing there for a better reason than to just watch Harry toss some balls at some targets.

The first green target lit up and Harry pelted the ball at it immediately; a loud DING indicated a hit. The next one was also green and Harry hit it with ease. Harry went on like that, breezily hitting the green targets and ignoring the red ones. Hermione was certain she’d have missed at least one or accidentally hit a few red targets in the excitement, but she supposed it was all the Quidditch that made him so good at it. He had been, essentially, trained to only focus on one thing and ignore everything else.

“Well well well, easy was too easy and so was medium. Perfect score.”

“Yes, well...”

Hermione smiled proudly.

“Care to attempt hard?” the runner asked hopefully.

“No, thank you, I have to get more tickets. But I will take a prize.”

She nodded, her high ponytail bouncing. “Take your pick, Bigshot.”

Harry glanced back at Hermione, then looked back to the giant stuffed dragons and teddy bears and ponies. “That one, please,” he said. The booth runner got on a stepping stool, pulled the prize from its hangings, and tossed it to the boy.

“There you go.”

“Thank you, have a nice evening!”

Hermione gawked at the prize he had chosen. It was Beary Potter. Of all the possible pickings, he took the bear. What was the term she was looking for? Ironic? Coincidental? Fate? Whatever it was, it was fantastic and she was glad he chose the three-foot bear.

Beary Potter was being held out to her by its human counterpart as he walked toward her. Hermione took it and tucked it underneath her arm, figuring she was just holding it for him. He probably didn’t want to be seen carrying a teddy bear around.

“Nice moves out there, Bigshot,” commented Hermione as they began to walk back to the table.

“It wasn’t that hard, really.”

“Always with the modesty.”

The two were quiet for a while. They walked much slower than before. Harry kept taking his hands in and out of his pockets.

“That is, um, the one you wanted right?” he eventually asked.

“The one what?”

He nodded to Beary Potter. “The bear.”

“What?” She took the bear from her arm and held it with both hands. “This is mine?”

“That isn’t the one you wanted,” he muttered, frowning.

“No,” she said quickly, “I do love this bear, I just didn’t know it was for me.”

“Well, you would always smile at it, so I just thought you might want it.”

Hermione looked at Beary Potter then back up at Harry. “You just saw me looking?”

He rubbed the back of his neck. “Yeah, well. I’m observant, remember?”

“I didn’t even mention...” her voice trailed off, lost in thought. Yes, she had smiled at it quite often, but there was no way he could’ve known exactly what she was looking at.

“He doesn’t take his eyes off of you.”

Absolutely not, Hermione thought quickly. Lucille’s and Cameron’s antics were messing with her brain, making her see things that weren’t there. They had kissed and nothing came of it. That’s enough proof right there. Harry had the perfect chance to make a move and he didn’t. Obviously he didn’t want to.


“Thank you,” she said quietly, as sincerely as she could without sounding like an idiot.

“You’re welcome.”

“Thank you for coming,” he added after a moment.

Hermione hugged Beary Potter tightly to her chest. “You’re welcome.”

Shortly after getting off of the teacup ride, which Cameron had insisted on spinning to full capacity, the group noticed a gathering forming in front of the Ferris wheel. Lucille and Donovan got excited and began to rush toward it, leaving the children behind.

“What’s the big deal?” Cameron huffed as she caught up.

“What do you mean what’s the big deal?” asked Donovan incredulously. “Do you not know the history of the Riley Fair?”

“No,” the three of them replied.

Lucille began to explain the story as they continued walking toward the wheel. “Tara Robbins and Edmund Riley had a sort of an epic romance like Romeo and Juliet. You know, neither family wanted them to be together because they hated each other, blah blah blah. Long story short, Tara and Edmund got married and decided to live an unconventional lifestyle. Thus, the Riley Fair was born.

“Back in their time, the early nineteen-hundreds, people who were in love were often ostracized if their relationship wasn’t acceptable. Obviously Tara and Edmund were against all that. So, the fair became a sort of safe haven for all types of couples. They began to celebrate love by forcing couples to take pictures together and stick them on the side of the trailer they lived in when travelling with the fair.”

“That’s how we ended up together,” Donovan added with a sly smile.

“What do you mean?” asked Cameron.

Lucille laughed. “Remember how we told you our first kiss was in front of the Ferris wheel?”

They nodded.

“Well, that was the same night we met. We were just watching everyone else taking their pictures when we got picked from the crowd because we ‘looked like a couple’,” she finished with air quotes.

“That’s really sweet,” Hermione said.

“Is your picture still up there?” Harry asked.

“It might be,” said Donovan. “We can check after all the pictures are done. This is the best part of the fair, really.”

They found an empty spot in the front of the crowd, who were cheering on the current people standing in front of the twinkling wheel. They looked terribly embarrassed. Lucille and Donovan carried on a quiet conversation about when they took their own photograph. Cameron joined in on the whooping and hollering. Harry and Hermione stood silently next to each other and observed. Hermione rested her chin atop of Beary Potter’s head.

Eventually that couple kissed and two Polaroid pictures were shot. The photographer handed one to them and dropped the other into a small leather bag at his feet. The crowd began to yell for him to take their picture next and waved their hands in the air to get his attention.

It went on like that for another five minutes. Soon even Harry and Hermione had joined in the egging others on; it was impossible not to. The cutest one by far was a little girl and a little boy who couldn’t have been more than three or four years old. She got on her toes and pressed her lips against his, and the photographer got down on his knees to take the pictures. The crowd awed and laughed. They giggled as they ran back to their parents, hand in hand.

I hope they make it, Hermione thought.

The noise escalated again as the photographer looked around for another couple.

“Over here!” Cameron yelled, waving her hands madly.

“What are you playing at? You haven’t got anyone to kiss,” Donovan quipped.

Cameron ignored him and continued to yell. Hermione handed the teddy bear to Harry as she readjusted his coat and pulled up her pants. The crowd died down and Lucille whispered, “Oh my God.” When Hermione looked up from her belt buckle she saw the photographer standing right in front of her.

“Hello,” he said brightly, “I’m Ellis Riley.” He must’ve been a descendant of Tara and Edmund.

“Hi,” Hermione said to the old man. He was perhaps in his mid-fifties and bore a thick woolen hat and scarf.

“Well come on then, you two, can’t wait all day!”

“I’m sorry, what?”

He motioned to her and Harry. “Let’s go get your picture taken!”

Hermione looked at Harry and her eyes widened. “No, I’m sorry, we’re just friends.”

“Yeah,” Harry agreed.

Ellis chuckled. “Oh, how many times I’ve heard that one. I wasn’t born yesterday!”

“But we really-”

The crowd started the cheer them on. Cameron snatched Beary Potter from Harry and pushed the both of them into the circle. Hermione mouthed “What?” to Harry as they walked to the spot and he, wide-eyed, shrugged. It was obvious they weren’t getting out of this; the crowd hadn’t let anyone back out yet and Ellis Riley was definitely not going to let them leave.

They stood awkwardly side-by-side and Ellis put more film into his camera. Hermione glanced back at her family who were cheering way louder than anyone else, which was an accomplishment because there were a few intoxicated guys who were really going at it.

Kissing Harry wouldn’t be a big deal; he was a great kisser. It was the circumstances that worried Hermione. Given the talk they had prior to the first one, it was astounding that Harry didn’t take it as anything more than what she had meant it as. There was no way they could do this again without there being some sort of repercussion. You don’t get lucky like that twice.

“Alright, face each other, you know how this works,” Ellis called to them.

Harry and Hermione slowly turned to face one another. He took a few small steps forward. “Just our luck, huh?” he murmured.

Hermione raised her eyebrows and exhaled. “I suppose it’s a good thing we’ve done this before.”

Harry chortled lightly. Ellis yelled for them to get closer, no closer, come on no one kisses that far apart, closer, until their bodies were pressing together. Not knowing what to do with her hands Hermione just grabbed Harry’s and held them at their sides. He swung them in and out a few times.

“Are you okay with this?” Harry whispered.

She nodded. “Definitely. We’re not getting out of it anyway.”

“YEAH HERMIONE AND HARRY,” Cameron exclaimed, which got the crowd riled up again.

Harry cleared his throat. “How do you want to do this?”

“I don’t know, we didn’t exactly talk about it first last time. I mean, I kissed you, so if that’s how you want to do it, or if-”

Her words were stopped short by Harry’s mouth. She gripped his hands tightly in surprise. “You talk too much,” he said against her lips.

Slowly Hermione’s grip loosened and her arms found their way around his neck. Harry wrapped his around her waist and gently pulled her even closer, forcing her onto her toes just like the little girl.

The crowd went wild. As if trying to please them, Harry slightly opened his mouth and invited Hermione into a deeper kiss, just like last time. She accepted his invitation everyone’s cheers escalated to nearly deafening. Harry smiled against her mouth and she could feel him laugh, and she couldn’t help but smile too.

They looked at each other for a moment. Ellis never told any of the couples when to stop, but there was a strong possibility he had already gotten his pictures. Hermione could back away right then and that would be the end of it.

Instead she found herself closing her eyes and resuming the kiss.

She couldn’t put her finger on it but there was something drastically different between the kiss they shared on the floor of Harry’s dormitory and the one they were currently in the middle of. There was a sort of intensity to it, an aggressiveness. A longing from both sides. Perhaps it was because Hermione had a purpose in the first one and in this one she did not. Maybe it was just the atmosphere of the fair; it had altered her perception of everything else, hadn’t it?

There was still the rapid heartbeat to explain, the butterflies in her stomach to account for. The fact that she liked kissing him so freaking much. She couldn’t blame it on first kiss jitters anymore, and those weren’t normal friend feelings. But she knew she didn’t have any feelings for him. He was her best friend, and that was it. So where was it coming from?

Soon, though, Harry pulled away. Hermione noticed how incredibly out of breath and lightheaded she was. The two released each other as the crowd continued to applaud. Ellis Riley walked up to them and handed them a photograph. It was from when they were smiling at each other. How hadn't she noticed the flash go off?

“Now that’s what I like to see,” Ellis commented. Hermione blushed.

Harry thanked the man and walked back toward Donovan, Lucille, and Cameron. Hermione followed.

“Well, Mister and Misses Hot and Heavy over here,” Cameron said as she handed Beary Potter to Hermione.

“It wasn’t that bad,” Hermione defended.

“Wasn’t that bad? You were practically attacking each other’s faces!”

Hermione felt herself blush even deeper.

“Oh, and Harry, pulling her to you?” She slapped him on the shoulder. “Nice. Touch.”

“Well I- I didn’t mean to- I was just- My hands were-”

“Just friends my ass,” Cameron laughed.

They left the Riley Fair at ten-thirty. Harry and Hermione didn’t say much else to one another for the rest of the time at the fair, in the car ride home, or whilst getting ready for bed mostly due to the fact that Cameron would make a comment every time they breathed wrong. Hermione hoped it wouldn’t ruin what they’d accomplished that morning.

After returning from her shower, she noticed Harry hadn’t pulled out the roll-out bed so she took that as a good sign. He had already showered and was in his pajamas, on his back with his hands behind his head. He was staring at the ceiling and apparently deep in thought. Hermione laid next to him and positioned herself on her stomach.

“Today was fun,” she offered.

Harry smiled. “Yeah, it was.”

They paused comfortably. Hermione just looked at Harry as he gazed at the ceiling. He suddenly frowned.

“What is it?” she asked.

“I was just thinking... We’ve kissed twice now.”

A knot formed in her stomach. “Yes.”

“And nothing came of either of them. I’m not saying something should’ve,” he added very quickly, “I’m just stating fact. Nothing came of either of the kisses.”

“That’s correct.”

“So,” he continued, not taking his eyes from above him, “I was thinking. We can’t do that anymore.”

Hermione brought her eyebrows together in confusion. “Is kissing me that repulsive?” she joked.

“No, we’ve already established you’re a wonderful kisser, but I... You should only kiss someone you love... and who loves you back,” he added softly.

She propped herself up on her elbows. “But I do love you. And you love me.”

He sighed and was quiet for a moment, and then said, “You know what I mean.”

Hermione nodded knowingly. “I know.”

“Promise me the next time you kiss someone, it’s someone you’re in love with. You deserve to kiss someone you’re in love with.”

“Where is this coming from, Harry?”

He looked at her. His eyes were piercing. “Promise me.”

“If this has anything to do with Cameron-”

“It’s not her, I just...” He looked back to the ceiling. “We’re friends, we have no business snogging.”

“No,” she lay back down, “but it’s not like we’re off to one of Filch’s closets every day. We’ve kissed twice, neither of them meant anything.”

“That’s the point. Neither of them meant anything. They just happened, but that’s not how it should be. Just promise me, alright? The next person you kiss you have to be in love with and they have to feel the same way.”

“What if I think the other person loves me but they actually don’t?”

“Well you had no business being with them in the first place.”

She chuckled. “Okay, I promise. You have to promise me too, though.”

“I have no intention of breaking that promise to you.”

Harry turned off the lamp by his bed which was the only source of light in the room. They both got under the covers and made themselves comfortable. Hermione remained on her stomach; Harry had shifted to face her.



“It’s our last night here and I just wanted to say thank you. For everything.”

“Oh, you really don’t have to.”

“No, I do. You’ve been so great this whole week, what with listening to me and winning me a teddy bear and, you know, just being there.” She paused. “I don’t know how you deal with this every day.”

“I’ve had fifteen years of practice, a good portion of which I can’t remember. You’ll be okay.”

Her conversation with Cameron popped back into her head. “Can you make me another promise?”

“Depends on what it is.”

“Don’t ever go anywhere on purpose?”

“You know I’m not going anywhere,” he said.

“I know but promise me anyway.”

He cleared his throat. “I, Harry James Potter, promise to never go anywhere on purpose.”

“Thank you,” she giggled.

“Your turn.”

“I, Hermione Jean Granger, promise to never go anywhere on purpose.”

“For as long as we both shall live.”

“In sickness and in health,” she continued.

“For richer or for poorer.”

“For better or for worse.”

“‘Til death do us part.”

“And even after that.”

They started to laugh.

“Did we just get married?” Harry wondered aloud.

“I suppose that is marriage. Never going anywhere on purpose, I mean.”

“What kind of ring do you want?”

“Oh,” she exhaled thoughtfully, “nothing too flashy or big. A silver band, of course. I want it inscribed with ‘HJP’ though, because when I take your last name both of our initials will be HJP.”

Harry thought for a moment. “Huh. I never noticed that. How coincidental. Can we keep that like a family tradition and make all of our kids’ initials like that?”

“If you want. How many kids are we talking?”

“Not too many, maybe two or three. Preferably girls.”

“You don’t want any Harry Jr.’s running around?” she joked.

“I mean, if I had a son I’d love him, but I’d much rather little Hermione’s.”

She suppressed a smile. “Why girls instead of boys?”

“I don’t know. Something about having a daughter is just nice. I can imagine her calling me ‘Daddy’ and all that. I don’t know,” he repeated.

“That’s really cute.”

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.”

“I expect an extravagant proposal as well. But if you don’t propose by the time we’re twenty-five, I’m moving on.”

“Alright. I’ll hold you to it.”

“And I’ll be waiting.”

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