“That’s IT!” Harry Potter snapped, his wand flashing. His two best friends yelped as they were disarmed, silenced, immobilized, and levitated in quick succession. He threw his Invisibility Cloak over their bodies, automatically taking care to make sure they were covered, yet could still breathe, before guiding them out of the Common Room and down the stairs to the nearest available empty classroom. After securing the door with a locking and notice-me-not charm, he pulled the cloak off and maneuvered them to stand against the wall a safe distance apart, both from each other and from him.
“Now look!” He snapped. “I did not survive one war just to be pulled in the middle of another, especially not between two of the most important people in my life! You two either need to sex it out or hex it out, once and for all!” His green eyes glittered dangerously as he glared right back at the sulking witch and wizard. “This whole break up, make up, break up cycle isn’t healthy, for anyone involved. Even I can see that, and I haven’t exactly had the most–any!–stellar examples of loving relationships to go by.”
Frustration spurred him to start pacing. “The way I see it, this whole thing was a disaster waiting to happen, but you’re so -bloody- alike, that there was no persuading you out of it!”
That comment earned muffled disdainful snorts and glares from his counterparts, which made him crack a slight smile, relaxing slightly. “Bloody stubborn, my way or the highway, won’t change or yield nothing for no one, always has to be right, Gryffindors! For as long as I’ve known you both, your core characteristics haven’t changed. Ron still speaks before he thinks,and fluctuates on a range of emotions that would overflow one of Hagrid’s teaspoons. Too much emotion and not enough logic, mate, rather than not enough.” He raised his brows as the other wizard tried to maintain his glare, but eventually slumped slightly, as much as his invisible bonds would allow. Satisfied, Harry turned to his other best friend, who was still fuming.
“And Hermione–our resident bibliophile, best friend, smartest witch of our generation but honestly, still much more book smart than street–or social–smart.” He said fondly, despite the bluntness of his words. “Such a bundle of contradictions. You devour knowledge and can spout of rules from books that were before our parent’s parent’s time, yet you are also addicted to breaking the rules. However you, Her-mi-own-nee, are a closet romantic and a bit of a control freak, luv.” He smirked when she growled at him. “Which was all well and good when we needed it–study planners and preparing an contingency bag with half the library in it for when we went Horocrux hunting and other really useful things over the years.” He shook his head. “But you can’t control Ron–or me–and you can’t manipulate us into your ‘ideal’ wizard through nagging and lectures and tears. No matter what it says in Witch Weekly, or what Lavender or Parvarti told you.” He added severely, as she paled. Ron turned his head to gape at her. “No, I didn’t spy on you.” Harry said irritably, answering the question in her wide brown eyes. “Stands to reason though, that if Ron got advice from a book, then you were well ahead of him in doing your own too-through research, hmm?”
All the fight had gone out of his friends, and now they were steadfastly avoiding his gaze, looking extremely guilty. Harry rolled his eyes. “My last point is this. You’ve known each other for seven years. Relationships are supposed to be about compromise, growth, and change. Neither one of you have shown that you are so enamored with the other that you’re willing to do any of those things for the sake of your friendship, much less anything else. So when are you going to stop trying to beat a dead hippogriff and give it up for a lost cause?”
He let the silence stretch out, before stretching himself. “I put a timing spell on your binds. You’ll be released, two minutes after I have left the room. Think–and speak–carefully before you leave this room. I’m exhausted, guys. This is our last year at Hogwarts. All I want is one normal school year–hell, one normal year period–to enjoy being a seventeen year old wizard. I’m hoping I can do that with you both at my side, like always. If you can’t get this whole thing between you resolved though, well, maybe you better think about spending some more time with Luna or Neville rather than with me. Otherwise, I’ll see you down at dinner.” He was gone, with one last pointed warning look.
Ron and Hermione waited out the two minutes in silence. When they were free, they slumped simultaneously against the wall, sliding down to near land on their rumps.
“Whoa!” Ron breathed, exhaling loudly. “I’ve never seen Harry that furious before–not even against Voldemort or Malfoy!”
“Me either,” Hermione said quietly, her gaze on the door. “I hadn’t realized that we were hurting him so much with our arguments.”
The redhead shrugged. “He’s right though. About all of it.”
She nodded absently, eyes still shadowed for a moment before shaking her head briskly and meeting his gaze for the first time. “Well, no need to dance around it anymore–you’re a terrible dancer, anyway.”
“Oi!” He protested laughingly. “Seriously though, Hermione, I’m sorry. You may want to put this in your pensieve, because it will likely never happen again, but I truly do apologize for all of our…drama over the years.”
She pretended to clutch her chest and fall back, landing sideways against his shoulder instead of the hard stone wall. “Ronald Weasley, apologizing to me, of his own free will? Oh, this will definitely go into my personal pensieve!” She erupted into giggles as he took advantage of her position to tickle her mercilessly, until they were both breathless and comfortably collapsed on the floor.
They lay in comfortable silence, letting their breaths even out.
“I’m sorry too.” Hermione murmured, sitting up to look at him seriously. “I think I was trying so hard to model myself after the only married female witch I know–your mum–that I actually became her. You didn’t need a mother, you needed a girlfriend.”
Ron shuddered. ” Urgh. Please don’t ever do that again. I hadn’t put it together until you made the comparison. If it wasn’t over before, it is now.” He teased. “Now I know how Harry felt whenever someone pointed out the similarities between Ginny and his mum and him and his dad while they were dating. YUCK!”
She snickered at his horrified expression, a sense of absolute mischief overtaking her. “It’s too exhausting being your mum anyway, what with all the kids she popped out, and the cooking and cleaning and other house witch tasks she has taken on. Where ever did your parents find time, after Bill and Charlie were born? Personally, I would’ve stopped after the twins–if they weren’t a sign that some things are no longer ‘blessings from Merlin’, then I don’t know what was. Yet here you are, and Ginny after you. Of course, your dad is a wizard, so all he had to do was pop in, get off, and pop out on his lunch hour–”
“HERMIONE!!” Ron yelped.
That set her off, and she laughed until she cried as he pled for her to Obliviate him of the images that had taken over his brain. Her giggles were contagious though, and he soon found himself laughing with her, until they were slumped, breathless and boneless, once again.
He did, however, rouse enough energy to poke her in the side. “Evil witch. Just for that, you are officially demoted to honorary Weasley sibling status. I wash my hands of you. You just gained yourself six over protective older brothers, and yet another nagging mother. Congratulations.”
“You mean seven, including Harry.”
He sat up, shooting her a strange look. “Hermione, Harry is most definitely not your brother.”
She frowned at him. “Well, maybe not literally, but we’re as close as siblings. Like you and Ginny, in your own way.”
This caused an outright guffaw out of him. “Harry was right–book smart beyond all compare, but you really don’t notice the obvious, do you?”
Hermione stood up, hands on her hips as she glared at him. “Enlighten me, then, Ronald, as to what I seem to be missing.”
“C’mon Hermione, you seriously haven’t noticed…?” When she just glared at him, he sighed heavily.
“You and Harry, you’ve always had an..intuitiveness about each other that drives me batty sometimes. You’re always aware of each other’s presence, and you work so seamlessly together when you’re fighting, like you’ve been doing it for years!”
“We have, Ron. Or do you not remember the various Death Eater encounters, not to mention the final fight in the blood war that was going on for most of our lives?” She snapped.
“But this is more. It’s almost…instinctive.”He grew serious. “You two–you are like long time Auror partners or something. It took you a bit to get into rhythm, but the best example I can think of is when we were caught in the Shrieking Shack with Lupin and Sirius and Wormtail in third year. Do you remember? When you were confronting Lupin, you moved automatically in front of Harry, and grabbed his left arm, presumably to protect him, but really so that he could get to your wand in your other pocket with his right arm. Whenever we’re on the run from–or to–something, it’s the same thing; you’re always on his off wand side, protecting his back.” He shook his head. “I should put some of the memories I have watching you two partner off during D.A. training into a Pensieve and let you watch. It’s…impressive.”
“That’s practice, Ron, and training. What do you think we did, all those nights in the tent on the run last year when you were gone?” She said defensively. “Which brings up another point. If Harry ever saw me as anything other than platonic, then he would’ve have plenty of opportunity to make a move back then, and he didn’t.” So there, she wanted to add childishly, but didn’t, deliberately ignoring the nagging voice in the back of her mind that whispered, but there was still that spontaneous dance, that night, and Harry hates to dance, so he did it willingly knowing that it would make you laugh…and for a moment, it was just you and him, and that was the first time you truly felt like you made the right decision – you belonged there, at his side, until the end…
“There is a reason why the locket conjured up those specific visions and fears for me, you know.” Ron said bluntly after a moment. “And you can’t tell me that you haven’t thought about it, being with him instead.” There was no bitterness or recrimination in his voice, although Hermione glanced away guiltily.
“He’s my best friend, Ron.” She said softly.
“What am I then? Draco Malfoy?” the redhead teased, nudging her with his shoulder.
She shook her head, biting her lip as she considered her words. “You’re my friend too, but…I don’t depend on you like I do Harry. I want you in my life, but I need him there. We’re…kindred spirits.” She smiled sadly. “We balance each other out.”
Ron nodded affectionately. “Like earth and air, or a lioness and a hawk, coming together. Gryffindors. You keep him grounded, and he helps you to fly.”
“I…yes. I suppose so. But that doesn’t mean he doesn’t see me as a sister.”
He snorted. “Harry has never had a sister, so he has no idea what that should feel like.” Ron said dryly. ” Plus, I saw his expression – and yours – when you came down the stairs at the Yule Ball back in fourth year. And when you hugged him, right before he went to confront Voldemort. Believe me, he does not consider you in any sort of platonic light. Not that he would ever mention it.”
He stood up, easily pulling her with him. “Come on. I think we’ve been in here long enough, and I’m hungry. I’ll meet you back in the Common Room, yeah?”
Hermione returned slowly to the Gryffindor Common room, where she found Harry conversing animatedly with Dean Thomas. Harry was on the squishy couch by the fireplace, with Dean across from him, sprawled sideways in one of the chairs. He broke off to greet her with a smile when she walked over to them.
“We need to talk.”
Dean winced. “When a witch says that in that tone, it usually means nothing good. I’ll leave you to it, then.”
“Traitor.” Harry mock scowled.
Dean smirked, winking at Hermione. “You faced down the Dark Lord how many times?”
“Only ‘cuz she was on my side.” Harry nodded up at Hermione, who rolled her eyes, fighting her blush.
“You’re doomed, mate. It was good knowing you. Can I have your Firebolt?”
“Go away, wanker.”
“Git.” Harry snorted as he stretched out, his eyes alight with humor. “Let me know about those football tickets this summer.”
Dean smirked and nodded, smiling at Hermione before wandering off.
“Blokes and their male bonding rituals.” She snorted, pleased to see her best friend so relaxed and happy. “Budge over a bit, would you?”
He obligingly lifted his head, just enough for her to slide under. She shook her head in mock exasperation, but settled on the couch next to him, his head resting on her thigh, and absently began playing with his hair, toying with the inky strands. The were alone in the room; everyone else had gone down to dinner, or other tasks. Hermione let herself relax, one muscle group at a time, soothed by the rhythmic movement of her hand.
“You know, I think were the first person to ever give me a hug.” Harry murmured, his eyes still closed. ” At the end of first year, I think, after we went after the Stone. And then every year after, every time I saw you, or I left.” A reminiscent smile touched his lips. “Not just hugs. Touches. Grabbing my arm, holding my had, leaning on my shoulder…” he snuggled farther down onto the couch, still using her thigh as a head rest. “Playing with my hair.”
Hermione chuckled softly, amused, but didn’t stop, raking her fingers lightly against his scalp and nearly making him purr. “I remember that, our first hug – you froze in place, and didn’t even hug me back at first.” She murmured fondly, remembering his little grunt of surprise as she had literally thrown herself at him in relief and happiness and nearly squeezed the breath out of him. “I think I took it as a challenge, teaching you to allow personal touch.” She scratched his scalp again, lightly, tugging his hair playfully. “Now you’re as bad as Crookshanks. Always angling for a snuggle.”
“s your fault.” He mumbled. “Magic hands.”
“Charmer.” She retorted lightly. “You know, with anyone else, this would be weird. But no one bats an eye – not even Ron. Not that he would have reason to, anymore.” She added absently, not noticing how he stiffened slightly. “We barely lasted two weeks without the distraction of fighting an evil madman and chasing after you, before we were bickering again.” Which was the main cause for Harry’s lecture today, and the subsequent conversation with Ron. She opened her mouth to say what she had meant to earlier, but Harry’s breath had evened out and slowed as she was talking – thinking out loud, really – and she was loath to disturb him. She gazed down at her best friend, enjoying the peaceful silence and opportunity to see him finally truly rest. She was also a bit honored; there were very few people left in Harry’s life whom he trusted enough to let his guard down enough to deep sleep in their presence. Even with Dean, who had shared a dorm with him for six years, Harry would doze, or sentry sleep, which allowed his body to rest but didn’t turn his senses or mind completely off.