If our hearts need to be broken, and if he chooses this as the way in which they should break, so be it. -- C. S. Lewis
From far away Professor Snape’s cursing echoed through the corridors. Harry smiled slightly to himself about the fact that he had managed to slip through Snape’s fingers once again. An angry growl brought Harry back to reality. He still had his hand over her mouth as he looked at her as if he hadn’t registered her presence. Angry brown eyes were fixing him with a stare and he knew that he had a problem. Maybe an even worse problem than he would have had with Snape. For the first time in weeks, months, he was close to Hermione again. Slowly his hand left her face, but his gaze was fixed on her, though her look should probably scare him. On some level it did but still he was amazed that after all he had done to try to push her away he now stood in front of her, so very close. But his left hand remained around her waist.
“What are you doing here? You know I should take points from you for this and probably give you detention,” she hissed and threw the cloak from them both in anger.
With more strength than he thought she had she pushed him away from her. Harry didn’t answer her question. He couldn’t and, honestly, didn’t want to. Hermione wasn’t allowed to know what he did nearly every evening in the restricted section of the library. Just this night Snape interrupted him during his research.
“Are you going to say anything, Harry, before I inform Professor McGonagall?” Her voice was quivering.
“You wouldn’t.” he answered. Even after all that had happened in the past months this was something Harry knew. The face she made at this statement alone told him he was right. Only just then he recognised that it had been a long time since he had seen her smile or even in a good mood. The frown on her face was now much too familiar and he knew why. Hermione, frustrated, turned around and was about to leave the class, but Harry was faster. Against his better judgement his hand shot out and grabbed her wrist and spun her around to him.
”Where do you think you’re going?” he asked her as he saw, to his amazement, tears in those brown eyes.
“What do you care? Just let me go and we can go back to pretending that we never knew each other!” Though her voice sounded unaffected her eyes told him another story.
Slowly two water drops did found their way down her face. Harry raised one eyebrow slightly before he cleared his throat.
“I did never pretended not to know you.” His voice was strangely gentle.
“Well, if you never did why-why weren’t you there when I needed you? W-why did you act as if I didn’t exist anymore? Why-” Her voice broke and she lowered her head.
Hermione’s shoulder shook but just as Harry tried to embrace her she took a deep shaking breath and looked up again with a deadly stare. Tears were streaming down her face, through the shadows in the room they appeared silvery.
“I don’t exist anymore in your life don’t try to fool me, don’t try to make me believe it’s not like that. Excuse me. I have to finish my patrol now.” She tried in vain to loosen his grip but he didn’t think to let her go. “Let me go!” Hermione cried but instead he drew her closer to him.
“No, I won’t let you go. Not now, not ever,” he whispered to her. They both stared into each other’s eyes. Hermione was determined to get away from him, but didn’t move or struggle against him anymore.
Softly he touched her face to push away a strand of hair. There was a sadness in his eyes that wasn’t reachable.
”All I ever wanted was to protect you.” His voice was barely above a whisper.
“Protecting me? Why would you want protect me that badly?” Hermione wondered.
Harry couldn’t answer this question. He just stared into her face in hope she could read it in his own. Unaware of what he was doing he drew her even closer to him until he could put his arms around her. He hugged her tightly but she didn’t hug him back. How much had he missed her? He couldn’t even find the right words to describe how much. So warm, so full of life, if he just kept her away from him she would stay like that.
But how much did that count for if she was alive but so sad? Slowly he caressed her back with his hands. Never before was Harry aware of how small she felt in his arms. He felt how she relaxed into him, how she laid her head heavily against his shoulder.
“What are you doing to me…to us?” He heard her whispering but could only marvel at this feeling of her hands on his back. Tightly he shut his eyes as they started to burn. He knew too well that soon he would have to let her go again.
Harry had sworn to himself that he would do everything to keep her alive, even if it meant letting her go. But never in all his life had he thought it might be this hard. In attempt to end their hug he kissed the side of her head lightly, but before he could let her go the door opened and to his surprise Cho Chang stood there.
“What…? Harry, what are you--” She stopped in the middle of her sentence as she saw with whom Harry was in that room. To his amazement, Hermione just looked at him and then stepped out of this embrace to face Cho, who still stared in shock at them. “I – I knew there was more about her. I always knew but I believe what you told me, Harry.”
Strangely enough, as he saw first signs of tears he was annoyed that she thought that lowly of him.
“There is nothing about me and there never was. At least nothing more than being friends with Harry,” Hermione told Cho.
“And you think I believe you? Too bad that I’m prefect myself or--” She started hiccoughing.
“We aren’t even friends anymore. I fail to see what your problem is, Cho. He did this for you. I don’t exist anymore in his life--”
“No, that isn’t true, Hermione. Why do you believe that? I would never shut you out of my life. You’re too important,” he interrupted her harshly.
“I was so stupid to take your word over what I could see with my own eyes …” With this Cho spun around left them both alone.
“Of all people!” Harry could still hear her shouting.
In attempt to explain he ran after her. Half a corridor down Cho was leaning against a wall crying. As Harry reached her he carefully laid a hand on her shoulder, but she shrugged him off.
“Don’t even try to explain it! I know what I saw, Harry. Hermione Granger is everything but your friend and you know it. You just preferred to play. I thought what we had was special but I fooled myself, thought you could b-be like Cedric!” She was screaming at him and he flinched at this name painfully. Roughly, Cho pushed him away from her before she ran away.
Hermione’s voice was still ringing in Harry’s ears as he heard the faint thunder from far away. Finally the thunderstorm was over but this was not and he didn’t know if he could win her back.
Author-Notes: I would like to thank Rawles for her betaing.
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