Hermione sat, leaning against the tent pole, a bottle of bluebell flames on her right, and two books on her left. The first book was The Life and Lies of Albus Dumbledore. Hermione, looking for answers, had been bringing this book out with her every time she had been on guard for weeks. She sighed deeply to herself and picked it up. She’d read it through three times now, and still had not found anything useful except the eye-like symbol - - the symbol that had been haunting them for months.
Hermione flipped through the pages to Dumbledore’s letter to Grindelwald. No matter how many times she read the letter, she could not figure out how the symbol fit. Hermione sighed again and lay the book aside. She was tired of trying to decipher useful information from it. Her heart wasn’t really in it. There was something lurking in the back of her mind that had been bothering her for awhile, and it was high time she faced it.
Hermione closed the book, set it beside her, and picked up the second book. It was the journal that Hermione, unbeknownst to Harry, had been keeping over the last several months. She had known before they had even started out, that this journey would be something that she’d want to remember forever. She was planning on showing it to her parents, if she ever retrieved them – if she lived to tell the tale. It was a positive place to rant, and a way to keep her emotions in check. It wasn’t just a record of the search for Voldemort’s Horcruxes, but also a record of her emotional journey. And tonight, she felt as if this might be the book that would hold the answers she needed.
Hermione flipped back through the journal. There were no dates in it, as time was now irrelevant. This journey was about living, and completing Dumbledore’s mission. Hermione turned to the entry she wanted.
Hermione flipped a few more pages, hoping that she’d find something about what was bothering her.
Hermione paused here for a moment. Her heart hadn’t broken and that didn’t make any sense at all. If she really did fancy, possibly love Ron, why then, when she had known that she wasn’t enough to make Ron stay, did she feel nothing except that the world was bleak? She’d always felt a strong sense of attraction to someone when Ron and Harry were around. And in her Amortentia, did she not smell the Burrow? Hermione, more confused than ever, flipped to a more recent entry, the one she wrote on Christmas Eve -- the night that her entire world had almost shattered into a million pieces.
Hermione closed her journal. She didn’t want to finish reading that entry. When she thought about it, she realized that that night had been the scariest night of her life. It wasn’t the snake that had scared her. No, she’d seen and fought worse, she’d been in similar situations. No, what had scared her was that she might lose Harry. Losing Harry was not something she ever wanted to experience. She didn’t think she could endure it.
Hermione continued to ponder their situation. Their entire mission was uncertain. They lived day to day, Horcrux to Horcrux. They didn’t know how long they could stay safe. All that mattered was staying alive and completing Dumbledore’s mission.
As Hermione continued reflecting, she realized that she wasn’t so much concerned with them staying alive, but with Harry staying alive.
Hermione turned and opened the flap of the tent. Looking inside, she saw Harry sitting at the table, watching a piece of paper. She watched her best friend sadly, realizing that he was watching Ginny’s dot on the Marauders Map. Her heart ached, knowing that Harry loved Ginny so much, but knowing that, at least for right now, he could not have her. Hermione knew that he had broken his heart to save Ginny, and that watching her dot was his way of making sure that she was okay, that he hadn’t broken his heart, or hers, for nothing. It was his temporary relief for all the hurt. As she reflected on this, Hermione felt something that she had never felt before, and she knew exactly what had been bothering her.
She, Hermione Granger, was in love with Harry Potter. Her best friend. The person that she had risked her life with, and for, numerous times. The person with whom she was sharing this terrifying yet necessary journey with.
Looking back, Hermione realized that it made total sense. The fluttering in her stomach when she, Harry and Ron were together -- she had feelings for Harry, not Ron. The smell of the Burrow in the Amortentia was not representative of Ron, but rather it was the place outside of school where they had all been together. But why don’t I smell Grimmauld Place then? Hermione questioned herself. After a moment of thought, she answered herself: Because when I smelled the Amortentia, most of the time I had spent at Grimmauld Place was with Ron. It also made sense that her reaction to almost losing Harry had been stronger than really losing Ron. With Ron, it had been only the loss of security and the realization of their grave situation that had depressed her. With Harry, she had felt that if she lost him, she’d have lost everything. It had been a feeling of complete and utter hopelessness.
Hermione pulled out her journal and opened it to a clean page. This journal had been meant to be a record of not only the physical adventure, but the emotional adventure, after all. She knew that this had to be written down, and she knew how she was going to do it.
My mother always told me that the hardest thing I could ever have to endure would be to watch the person I loved be in love with someone else. I always thought that she was right, until now. Now I know that there is something harder. I have decided that the hardest thing I will ever be forced to endure is to watch the person I love break his own heart. As I sit here, watching you as you watch Ginny on the Marauders Map, it kills me to know that you’re breaking your heart, even if it is to save the person you love.
I know now that the person I love is the man in front of me. The man I have endured many hardships and challenges with. You know me better than anyone else, and you are the only one that has stuck with me through thick and thin. You’ve always been there, and I love you for it. You always know exactly what to say and what to do. You never press me for anything. Sitting here in the twilight, snow falling around me, I’ve never seen it as clearly as I do now. I didn’t expect this to happen, but I’m sitting here, watching you, and now my heart is breaking as you willingly break yours.
Unwillingly, Hermione started to cry. Softly, it’s true, but she was crying none the less. It didn’t hurt her that Harry wasn’t with her, it hurt her to know that he was hurting just as much as she was, and he was hurting willingly.
Hermione didn’t hear the footsteps. She was sitting outside the tent, quill in hand, staring at the page which contained all her feelings, thinking, when suddenly she felt a pair of warm, strong arms wrap around her from behind, and a chin come to rest upon her shoulder. There was a whisper in her ear.
“Hermione, everything will be alright.”
Startled, Hermione snapped her journal shut, knowing that Harry must never see those words. She allowed herself to melt into Harry for a moment, her cold, drained body absorbing warmth and comfort from his. For the first time in months, Hermione felt security and comfort. As the snowflakes fell around them, Hermione thought that the snow had never looked so beautiful, nor had the stars ever shone so bright.