I think this is the fastest I’ve ever come out with a chapter. You can thank my cold and the fact that somehow my medicine that’s supposed to make me drowsy appears to have done the exact opposite. Well, I certainly hope you enjoy this chapter! I’ve had the last part of this written out for months now, so it’s quite exciting to finally get here. I actually have the next chapter written out (which was also written a while ago), and I’ll be posting it before I leave on Thursday. On that note, I regret to inform you that I am going away this Thursday, August 9th, and won’t be returning until the 22nd. So, unless I get access to the Internet, the final chapter will not be posted until then. I do, however, promise, unless I discover that it somehow is no longer to my liking, to submit (submit, I have no control over if and when it’ll be validated) the next chapter by Thursday morning (7:00 EST, to be exact).

On that note, I hope you enjoy the chapter. Some of it was hard to write, so I hope it doesn’t feel too choppy, but I really did enjoy myself with this one. You’ll notice that I use quotes in the scene changes… I just found so many quotes that worked so perfectly with this chapter, and I couldn’t choose between them. And yes, they range from quoting such classics as
Northanger Abbey to quoting from The O.C. (one of my many guilty pleasures). Two of the quotes actually occur on or around New Year's, so yeah…heh. Oh! And for anyone who’s interested, I’ve added quotes at the beginning (or after the lists) of every chapter.

Now, on to the chapter…

“If you love someone you say it, you say it right then, out loud. Otherwise the moment just... passes you by...”

~ My Best Friend's Wedding

The rest of Christmas Day passed by rather smoothly. Although Harry and Hermione would blush slightly whenever they caught one another’s eye (causing Mrs Howard and Mrs Granger to exchange satisfied smirks), they managed to keep their emotions in check for the rest of the festivities. Not that they had a lot of free time on their hands. By the time they had reached dinner, and the roast turkey, roast potatoes, and Christmas pudding (Mona and Lia rejoiced at the two coins they recovered) had been set on the table, both teen-agers felt utterly exhausted. They had spent most of the day helping out in the kitchen, basting the turkey and making the pudding (Mrs Granger had been so preoccupied with her daughter’s love life that she had forgotten to make the pudding in advance, and so Hermione was forced to endure her mother’s anxious barks of “Stir!” before she finally snapped and pointed out that the custard had thickened five minutes ago).

After dinner was finished and the dishes had been cleaned, Lia and Mona ran to the sitting room to play with their presents. Not wanting anything to happen to her precious gift from Harry, Hermione gathered the five books into her arms and carried them up to her room. Harry stood awkwardly in the room for a few minutes, before he finally gave in to Mrs Granger’s, “Don’t worry about keeping us company, Harry, dear. Go upstairs and join Hermione. I insist.”

When he arrived in Hermione’s room, he found her sitting on her bed, staring across the room at her bookshelf. Harry walked over and saw that Hermione had cleared out space for the five books on the middle shelf in the very centre. As honoured as he was, he was also rather confused.

“Hermione,” he said slowly, breaking her out of her daze, “the books aren’t alphabetically organized anymore.”

“I know,” Hermione said, slightly flustered, “but I couldn’t stand to separate them or to put them away where no one could see them.” She concentrated on her hands, looking terribly nervous, and then she finally looked up at Harry and voiced a question she had been dying to ask for hours. “Harry…why did you give me these books?”

Harry stared at her. “What?”

“It’s not that I don’t like them,” Hermione said in a rush. “On the contrary, I absolutely love them, more than almost anything in the world, but…it’s just…I mean…not even my parents have ever given me something so meaningful.” Hermione stared at Harry, her heart beating erratically. She knew what she wanted to hear (Would you stop with this nonsense? the voice inside her head demanded), but what was the likelihood that Harry would actually say it?

“Hermione…” Harry began, dragging his fingers through his hair. It would be oh so easy to just lie to her… “You’ve just been such a great friend all of these years,” he could imagine himself saying. “This is just my way of saying thank you.” But a small voice in the back of his head, that sounded suspiciously like Ginny’s, whispered, “Pathetic,” and Harry found himself walking over to Hermione, sitting next to her, and breathing in deeply as he readied himself for a confession. After all, what was the worst that could happen?

“The truth is,” he said, not quite looking at her in the eye. You’re going to tell her, you’re going to finally tell her! Ginny’s voice chanted happily in his head. “I —I… ” And then he lost his nerve, as the image of a future in which Hermione constantly avoided him played in his head, and he muttered, “I’m just grateful is all. For everything. You know.” Yes, I do know, that you’re a pathetic git, shot the voice.

Hermione opened her mouth to ask what exactly that meant, but at that very moment Mona raced into her room. “Hermione!” she exclaimed. “Mummy says we’re leaving and that I need to say goodbye and that I’m not going to see you again until the summer and if you don’t come down now I won’t get to say goodbye and Lia will cry and please hurry up because Mummy says we need to leave now, Hermione!” Mona tugged impatiently on Hermione’s shirt.

Hermione glanced over at Harry, a pained expression on her face, and she mumbled, “Sorry…goodbye…I mean I have to say…well, yes…” and followed Mona out the door, looking horribly confused, leaving Harry alone in her room.

“Oh, Merlin,” he groaned, holding his head in his hands. “I can’t believe how stupid…” What was the worst that could happen? Well, for starters, it could destroy their friendship completely, and as sick of the lying that Harry was, and as much as he wanted to just tell her the damn truth, Harry would much rather keep his best friend than risk losing her.

One thing was for certain: when he got home, he was ringing Ginny’s neck. Girl or not, she was absolutely dead for planting these ideas in his head. “Chivalry’s dead, anyway,” he muttered, and left Hermione’s room.

Meanwhile, Hermione was hurriedly bidding her relatives goodbye.

“Yes, I’ll be sure to write,” Hermione told her Aunt as she attempted to get Lia and Mona to release her legs.

“Come on Lia, Mona,” Aunt Anna said as she held out her arms. Mona pouted and Lia burst into tears.

“Don’t…wanna…leave…My-Knee!” Lia cried, while Mona’s grip on Hermione’s leg became unbearable.

“If you don’t stop this nonsense right now I’m taking all of your Christmas gifts and hiding them.” The cascade of tears and whining stopped. “Good. Now go follow your father to the car. I’ll be there in a minute.”

In seconds Mona had ran out the door, with Lia, who followed close after, running as fast as her small legs could carry her.

“Now,” Aunt Anna addressed Hermione, “Be sure to tell Harry how you really feel before you return to school so you can sort it all out without having to worry about your schoolwork.”

“Aunt Anna,” Hermione groaned. “I do not feel that way about Harry. Believe me.” Somebody has to, and Merlin knows I barely do… Hermione sighed inwardly.

“Then how do you explain your relationship?”

“We're at the ‘we’re comfortable enough around one another so that we act around one another as if we’re attracted to one another when, in reality, we aren’t,’ stage of our friendship,” Hermione stated, her hands folded in front of her as if she were reciting a poem.

“That’s the most ridiculous, not to mention contrived thing I’ve ever heard,” Aunt Anna scoffed. “Now Lizzie, make sure you knock some sense into your daughter’s head. She can only be so hard-headed, despite being your daughter.”

“I’m working on it,” Lizzie assured her sister, glaring down at Hermione as if she were to blame for making Mrs Granger look bad in front of her sister.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “Yes, well, don’t count on any grandchildren.”

“Grandchildren!” Mrs Granger and Mrs Howard’s eyes lit up, and for the first time Hermione witnessed her aunt and mother acting like sisters as they held hands, squealed, and yelled out names, ranging from “Anna, Elizabeth, and Zoë” to “Amberly, Nedra, and Zilpha.”

Absolutely disgusted, Hermione bid her Aunt one last farewell before running back up to her empty room. In all of the insanity, she had completely forgotten that Harry was supposed to be there, and instead of wondering where he had gone, she smiled at the welcomed silence. And at the idea of a good night’s sleep.

“Love does not consist of gazing at each other, but in looking together in the same direction.”

~Antoine de Saint-Exupery

Harry and Hermione spent the rest of their break touring the neighborhood, playing in the snow, running errands for Mr and Mrs Granger, and basically being anywhere but at home. Both were determined to avoid having to sit in the same room as Hermione’s parents, given their past experiences and, of course, fervent denial. In fact, the only time Harry and Hermione spent with Mr and Mrs Granger was at mealtimes, when both teenagers made sure that a topic not concerning their relationship was discussed. Even Hermione was growing bored of reciting facts from Hogwarts: A History – Revised Edition, and that in itself was quite a feat.

By the time New Year's Eve had come around, both were delighted by the excuse to spend time in their rooms preparing for the party, and even further delighted by the idea of spending an evening at a largely crowded party where Mrs Granger couldn’t constantly nag them.

Hermione, however, quickly found her enthusiasm for the party waning. By nine o’clock she had put up her hair into a simple ponytail (having only slightly straightened her bushy locks in order to ensure that her hair didn’t tangle), and she grabbed the dress she had borrowed from Ginny and put it on. Hermione had chosen one of Ginny’s only non-pink dresses, hoping to make it easier for herself when changing it to fit her needs. Unfortunately, Hermione discovered that her seamstress spells were not up to par, and she suddenly felt extremely embarrassed by her past belittlement of such spell work. And so she was forced to stare at herself in the mirror, wondering how on earth the night could possibly get worse.

The dress was very pretty, Hermione noted, despite its lack of cloth, but just not pretty on her. An icy blue, spaghetti strap number that went down to mid thigh and had a rather severe V-neck as well as triangular patches cut out at the midriff to show off bare skin, Hermione could imagine that Ginny looked absolutely stunning when she wore it. On Hermione, however, it clashed horribly with her darker complexion (at least compared to Ginny’s pale one), and she felt like a fish trying to breathe on land: ridiculous, mortified, and endangered.

A knock on the door awoke Hermione from her reverie, and she quickly wrapped her dressing gown over her outfit and opened the door to find her mother standing there, her Christmas present for Hermione underneath her left arm.

“I thought you’d like this,” Mrs Granger said as she made her way into her daughter’s bedroom. “You left it under the tree, and I know you need something to wear for tonight.”

“Oh, it’s fine!” Hermione exclaimed, imagining a dress that was much more skimpy than the one she wore now. “Ginny lent me one of her dresses. I’m fine.”

Mrs Granger narrowed her eyes. “Is this the same Ginny whom you’ve told me about these past few years? The one in those pictures you brought home over the holidays last summer?” Hermione nodded her head. “Well then, I can’t imagine anything she has would look right on you.”

“It’s fine!” Hermione protested once more.

“Let me see it then,” Mrs Granger instructed, and Hermione bit her lip. “Come on, if it’s ‘fine’ as you say, just show me. I won’t leave until you do. It’s a mother thing.” Mrs Granger smiled sweetly at her daughter.

“All right,” Hermione groaned, and she reluctantly let her dressing gown fall to the ground. Mrs Granger’s eyes widened, and then she burst into laughter.

“Oh, that’s very nice,” Hermione huffed as she pulled the robe back on.

“I’m sorry, Hermione,” Mrs Granger said as she wiped away tears. “But you just look completely ridiculous. And to wear something so showy? I never imagined you to be so stubborn. Well, all right, I did,” she added as an afterthought. “Here, just look at the outfit I bought for you, will you? I promise not to force you to wear it if you absolutely detest it.”

Hermione glanced over at the box that lay on her bed and then gave a small sigh. “Let me open it,” she said, and she sat down and lift up the top of the box. She removed the dress and laid it gingerly on top of her covers, gasping as she finally saw it in its entirety.

“Mum,” she said, not quite believing what was in front of her. “It’s…it’s gorgeous!”

The dress was forest green, with short, puffed sleeves, along with a modest v-neck. A pale green sash surrounded the waist, and the dress appeared to reach just below the knees.

“I thought it was going to…”

“Make you look worse than you do now?” Mrs Granger laughed at Hermione’s deep frown. “Oh honestly, Hermione. Don’t you think I know my own daughter a little bit better than that?”

“Well, you seem to think I’m in love with Harry, so who knows…”

Mrs Granger raised her eyebrow. “As I said, I know you better than you think.” Hermione was about to protest when Mrs Granger reached down and produced a pair of simple heels to match the dress.

“I figured you didn’t have any shoes that would fit with the outfit,” Mrs Granger told her. “You’re still a size five?”

Hermione nodded as she soundlessly accepted the other half of her gift.

“Now, go get dressed. We have to leave in fifteen minutes!” And before Hermione could get a chance to even thank her mother (or insist that Harry really was just a friend), Mrs Granger left the room, closing the door gently behind her.

Ten minutes later Hermione made her way downstairs, and found her mother, father, and Harry dressed (Harry, as Hermione had predicted, had simply borrowed one of Mr Granger’s suits and slightly shrunk it) and waiting.

Hermione was about to compliment Harry on how handsome he looked, but Mrs Granger cut her off before her mouth had formed the words. “Oh, I knew it would look perfect!” she exclaimed as she met her daughter at the bottom of the staircase. “I only wish you’d let me do your hair…” She grimaced as she began reaching for Hermione’s ponytail.

“I like her hair that way,” Harry said, surprising everyone in the room. “Well, I mean, she looks nice and everything when she sleeks it all back, like she did in fourth year, but she wouldn’t be Hermione really, would she?”

Mrs Granger beamed as she tore her hand away from her daughter and nodded in agreement. “Absolutely right, Harry.”

Hermione walked over to Harry and whispered, “Thank you. I would’ve ended up with Merlin knows what in my hair.”

“Well, I was only telling the truth,” Harry said. Hermione stared curiously at him, and he quickly exclaimed, “Is it nine thirty yet?” Mrs Granger glanced over at the clock, realized that it indeed was half past nine, and pushed everyone out the door. Tardiness was not a Granger family trait, nor was Mrs Granger about to let it become one. Harry’s only regret, as he slid into the back seat with Hermione, was that in all the confusion and embarrassment, he hadn’t been able to tell Hermione how beautiful she really looked, bushy hair and all.

As Mr Granger pulled away from the curb, Mrs Granger turned her head to the back of car and addressed Harry and Hermione: “Now, you two are going to kiss at midnight, right?”

Hermione’s jaw dropped, Harry turned a brilliant red, and Mr Granger came so close to veering into the neighbour’s front yard that Mrs Granger had to take over the wheel. But not before adding, “It’s a tradition, you know. To kiss someone when the ball drops.” Harry and Hermione’s reaction remained the same. Frustrated, she continued, “You know, people who are just friends, as you two insist, do it all the time. I saw it on an episode of that show Friends once, actually. Oh really!” she cried as she closed the door and Hermione began to turn a rather odd shade of pink. “It’s tradition! It’s just fun!”

Hermione finally regained control of her voice, though, apparently, not her mind, as she found herself piping out, “I suppose…a kiss…just between friends…”

Harry’s head swerved and Hermione squeaked as their eyes met. She frantically mouthed, “I’m sorry” at him, but Harry only shook his head, looking slightly astonished, and mouthed back, “It’s fine.”

“Well, what’s the verdict?” Mrs Granger asked as she succeeded in driving to the main road without crunching over the neighbour’s flowers.

“Er, sure,” Harry said, his voice hoarse. “A just friends New Year's kiss sounds fine…a great way to…er…really live up the whole New Year's Eve experience.”

Harry and Hermione quickly looked away and stared determinedly out the window. Mrs Granger could only smirk that patented grin of hers as she began to hum. Oh yes, things were working out perfectly. Now all she had to do was keep her husband occupied…just because he was okay with Harry one day courting their daughter didn’t mean she’d put it past him to tackle Harry during the countdown.

“No man is offended by another man's admiration of the woman he loves; it is the woman only who can make it a torment.”

~Northanger Abbey

“Elizabeth, John, it’s such a pleasure to see you again!” exclaimed the host of the party, Claire Martin. “And you, too, Hermione,” Claire added, nodding at Hermione.

“Well we’re so glad that you invited us,” gushed Mrs Granger. “We’ve been looking forward to this for ages, haven’t we?”

“Of course!” Hermione said, offering a smile that she prayed didn’t look as fake as she felt.

“And who is this young man?” Ms Martin asked, glancing at Harry.

“This is Harry Potter, Claire,” Mrs Granger smiled. “One of Hermione’s friends from school.”

Hermione felt as if the world had turned upside down. Did her mother, without Hermione jabbing her in the side, just say that Harry was nothing more than her friend? Something simply was not right…

“Well, welcome,” Ms Martin beamed at the group, and let them into the house, where a huge group of people ranging from ten- to seventy-years-old milled about, talking and drinking.

“So, what do we do now?” Harry asked, feeling rather awkward standing in the middle of the room with Hermione.

“Normally I find a chair somewhere and read,” Hermione said. When Harry gave her a look Hermione shrugged. “Well, what did you expect? I’m not exactly Miss Social Butterfly or Ginny, am I?”

“No, and I think we can both agree that we don’t need another Ginny,” Harry said. “I guess we could grab something to eat and just…stand some more. At least this way we won’t be standing there like idiots and be bombarded with…you know…those question. We’ll be doing something while we look like idiots.”

“You mean standing?”


Hermione rolled her eyes. “You’re just hungry. Both you and Ron think with your stomachs. I’m surprised men get anything done.”

“I wasn’t thinking with my stomach,” Harry said as they weaved their way through the crowd and towards the buffet. “I just don’t enjoy looking like a lifeless moron.”

“Oh admit it, you’re thinking with your stomach.”

“Not all guys are copies of Ron, you know, Hermione.”

“And thank Mer-God for that…”

The two were about to reach for plates when a voice that most certainly wasn’t Mr or Mrs Granger’s called out, “Harry! Hermione!” Harry and Hermione exchanged confused looks.

“Who could that be?” Hermione murmured as the two turned around and came face to face with Dean Thomas.

“Dean!” Hermione exclaimed. “What are you doing here?”

“I’m muggleborn, too, remember?” Dean grinned at the pair. “My parents come to this party every year, but normally I’m at my friend’s house. He’s out of town,” he explained.

“Well, at least we have someone to talk to!” Harry said, giving Dean a warm welcome with a quick hug, and Hermione shook his hand.

“What, are you two in a fight or something?” Dean asked, raising an eyebrow.

“No!” cried Hermione, looking horrified by the idea. “But, you know, we’ve spent all of the holiday together… Well, it’s just nice having someone else to contribute to the conversation is all.”

“I know what you mean,” Dean said, nodding his head. “I thought I was going to be stuck talking to my parents’ friends and listening to, ‘My, look how tall you are!’ all night. You look great, by the way, Hermione,” Dean added, nodding towards Hermione. “Your hair looks nice up.”

“I…thanks, Dean,” Hermione said, looking rather surprised, unconsciously tucking a stray hair behind her ear.

Harry tried to keep himself from glowering. He wasn’t jealous. After all, it wasn’t as if Hermione was blushing at the comment or anything, but he was still upset with himself for not saying the same thing, or at least something to that effect, earlier. She really did look amazing. Dark green was a great colour on her, and it complemented her brown eyes.

“So, Harry, do you think we’re going to win the Quidditch Cup again?” Dean asked, and immediately any angry thoughts were forgotten as the two boys began a rather lively conversation concerning Quidditch. Hermione groaned.

“Not Quidditch, please,” Hermione insisted. “Anything else, really.”

“You don’t like Quidditch at all?” Dean looked shocked. “But you’ve never missed a match!”

“Yes, well, there’s huge difference between supporting Harry and liking the sport. To be honest, I have no clue what’s going on. I just sit up there, praying that Harry won’t be crushed to pieces by a Bludger.”

“Don’t you mean Harry and Ron?”

“What?” Hermione looked confused, and then realization hit. “Oh, of course! I worry about Ron, too. I’m just, you know… Worrying about Harry’s almost second nature to me. What with him having played Quidditch since first year and Ron’s only done it for three and after watching someone play for seven years you just automatically think about them,” she babbled.

“Right,” Dean nodded, a doubtful look on his face.

“So, what are you planning on doing once you graduate?” Hermione asked, trying to salvage the conversation.

The three soon settled into a corner while they discussed their futures (Harry and Hermione both admitted to wanting to be aurors, though Hermione said she was torn between that and furthering S.P.E.W., while Dean said that he was fairly certain that his parents were going to make him attend a University). Soon their conversation was all over the place, and the three were laughing and enjoying themselves very much. By eleven thirty, however, the conversation had returned to Quidditch, and Hermione quickly found herself bored and unable to change the topic. Sighing, she made her way to a bowl of punch and quickly poured herself a glass as she watched the two boys argue over tactics, while readying herself to chastise them if they began to talk too loud.

“I love that you get a little crinkle in your nose when you're looking at me like I'm nuts. I love that after I spend day with you, I can still smell your perfume on my clothes. And I love that you are the last person I want to talk to before I go to sleep at night. And it's not because I'm lonely, and it's not because it's New Year's Eve. I came here tonight because when you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to start as soon as possible.”

~When Harry Met Sally

When his parents, who wanted him to meet with some of their friends, finally pulled Dean away from Harry, Hermione had drunk five glasses of the punch, and was feeling rather strange. The room seemed to be spinning every so often, her face felt oddly flushed, and she had to keep a firm grip on the table in order to maintain her balance.

“Sorry about that, Hermione,” Harry apologized profusely as he reached her. “I know how much you hate Quidditch and we got carried away there…but to make up for it, I’ll gladly talk about Hogwarts: A History. Well, you know, listen to you talk about it, since I only got through the first two chapters in the car and Hermione, what on earth?” Harry gawked, as he finally looked up at Hermione and noticed her strange actions.

“Helloooo, Harry,” she giggled, letting go of the table and leaning to her left due to a lack of balance. Harry quickly placed a supporting hand on her back. “Great fun this party, don’t you think?”

“Whoa,” he cautioned. After he had set her straight, he eyed her suspiciously. It was then that the realization hit him. “Are you drunk?” he demanded in absolute horror.

“I had some…summa punch – hic – and, ha ha, mummy forgot to mention that – hic – there wazzum,” giggle, “alcohol innit and – hic,” giggle, “hic– I had five glasses be…before I re-reli—fore I knew wuh was innit.” She burst into another fit of laughter, as if this was the funniest thing in the world.

“Oh Merlin,” Harry moaned. Leave it to Hermione to not be able to hold down her liquor, not even punch that had only small amounts of alcohol. So much for a New Years kiss, Harry found himself thinking, but he turned attention back to his drunk best friend.

“Well, on the bright side,” he told Hermione, “at least you didn’t do this voluntarily. That would’ve been a nightmare to explain to your parents.” He looked around for a chair to place Hermione, but found none. “Look, stay here, hold on to this table, and I’ll go find your mum or dad, okay, and see about getting us home.”

“Rightio, Harryo!” Hermione snickered at what she considered to be a rather clever joke. “Ha ha…get it? Rightio…Harryo? It rhymes!”

Harry stared at her and nodded as one did when they had no idea how to respond. “Hold on to this table real tight,” Harry insisted. He didn’t feel comfortable leaving Hermione alone, but it was either this or trying to manoeuvre a drunken girl through huge crowds. He was certain that the latter would draw more attention, something a sober Hermione would not want. So, after chancing one last glance over his shoulder at Hermione, who, having lost her balance once more, was sitting happily on the ground, he navigated his way through the crowd.

It took him a few minutes, but eventually he found Mr Granger speaking with a group of people about something Harry truly wasn’t interested in. Although he would’ve much preferred Mrs Granger (Merlin only knew the chances that Mr Granger would blame Harry for all of this), he knew that this was better than nothing.

“Mr Granger!” Harry exclaimed, cutting his way into the circle. “Sorry to bother you, but it seemed Hermione had a bit too much of the punch, not knowing that it had alcohol in it, and, well…” Harry trailed off, not wanting to go into any more detail in front of absolute strangers.

“She’s drunk?” Mr Granger groaned. Harry nodded. “Right then, let’s find this daughter of mine, shall we?”

Harry led the way back to Hermione, only to find that she had somehow picked herself up from the ground. In fact, she seemed to have gained control of her legs, as she wasn’t even there.

“I could’ve sworn I told her to stay here…” Harry told Mr Granger, puzzled. “I’ll go find her!” Harry began his search, wondering how on earth he was going to find her in such a mess of people. Mr Granger, being taller than most, was easy. Hermione, on the other hand, who was rather short, would blend in easily.

As Harry continued his quest, the people around him began to countdown. Although Harry had always wanted to partake in this, he was much more concerned with finding his best friend.

“Ten…nine…eight…seven…six…” people shouted in unison.

“Come on Hermione…” Harry muttered under his breath.


Where are you?

“Two…one…Happy New Year!” they cried as Big Ben chimed on the telly in the background.

It was at this very moment, as the year 1998 began, that Harry finally found his best friend. He was so relieved to see her, bushy hair and all, that it took him a moment to realize that she wasn’t alone, but in the arms of a complete stranger. In fact, she appeared to be kissing this stranger, as confetti landed softly on her hair.

Only the man, Harry realized, was anyone but a stranger.

Hermione was kissing Dean Thomas.

And for the first time in his life, Harry wanted to kill a fellow Gryffindor. It wasn’t like when Ginny was dating Dean, and that stupid monster (which he had named “lust”) had been “roaring,” it was pure, unadulterated hatred. Not only had Dean stolen his New Years kiss (which, admittedly, was just going to be between friends, but still), but he had taken advantage of Hermione in her drunken state and that, more than anything, was inexcusable. Harry made his way towards the two and tapped Dean on the shoulder. Dean released Hermione (who leaned into her father’s arms), turned around, and gulped as he found Harry glaring at him.

“What the Hell do you think you’re doing?” Harry demanded, containing the urge to punch Dean. “You think you can just kiss her when she’s completely out of it like this?”

“Hey!” Dean exclaimed, cowering in front of the two angry men. “I didn’t kiss her. She came over and kissed me, all right. I mean, I was planning on kissing her.” Dean blanched as he realized this was the wrong thing to say, and Mr Granger had to put out an arm to prevent Harry from jumping on top of the boy. “It’s all Ginny’s fault!” Dean cried out, but Harry didn’t care. In fact, it was doubtful that he had heard him.

“We should go,” he said to Mr Granger.

“Yes. I’ll go find Lizzie.” Harry took over the job of supporting Hermione as Mr Granger went in search of his wife, and Dean slowly backed away and mixed back in with the crowd.

“Harry?” Hermione asked, looking awfully woozy.


“ I don’t feel so well,” she groaned, and promptly passed out.

“Hermione?” Harry cried, tapping her lightly on the cheek. “Hermione!” She didn’t respond, and Harry groaned. “Just perfect.” He attempted to keep her upright, if only to prevent others from seeing her in this state.

A few minutes later Mr Granger returned, looking worried.

“I can’t find Elizabeth!” he said over the noise of the crowd. “What happened to Hermione?”

“She passed out,” Harry said, shifting her weight to his other side. “And I’m sure Mrs Granger’s in some room…. Look,” Harry continued. “I know you probably would prefer that we go home the normal way, but maybe it would be better if I just apparate her home— ”


“Apparate. It basically means to disappear from here and arrive somewhere else instantly. I can find a secluded place and we’d be back home within seconds.”

Mr Granger frowned. “I’m not sure if it’s such a good idea to have you two alone…”

Harry grimaced. “Mr Granger, I said it before, and I’ll say it again: Hermione’s safety is what matters to me. Believe me when I say I’m the last guy on earth who’d take advantage of her. I’m not Dean,” he snarled.

“Well, all right,” Mr Granger said, looking reluctant. “Just make sure no one sees you! And there’s aspirin in Hermione’s medicine cabinet. You should probably put some on her bedside table and a cup of water for when she wakes up.”

“Got it,” Harry nodded. “I’ll see you when you get home… And if you see Dean, can you punch him for me?”

Mr Granger couldn’t help but laugh. “Believe me Harry, as much as I’d like to, I don’t think it’d look too good for a grown man to hit a teen-ager. But I’ll definitely give him some choice words, that is assuming he hasn’t run away.”

“Right. Thanks, Mr Granger!” Harry called, and he walked Hermione and himself around a few corners and to an empty room, where he quickly disapparated.

“You guys need anything?”

“Yes. Ryan needs a tear in the space time continuum so he can go back and say ‘I love you’ to Marissa.”

~The O.C.

When they finally apparated into Hermione’s room, Harry, groaning, picked her up so that she was cradled in his arms, walked over to her bed, and placed her a little more roughly than he intended on to the mattress. Disentangling her limbs from his body, he pulled up the ends of the duvet that had been pulled down for the night, tucking the comforter firmly around her. He then raced off to the bathroom and returned with the diagnosed cup of water and aspirin. Setting them on the table, he then grabbed Hermione’s desk chair and placed it next to her bed, sitting on it dutifully and finally realizing how Hermione must have felt every time Harry had a Quidditch accident. Even though he knew she’d be fine, if not a little sick, by the morning, he vowed to be more careful in Quidditch. Merlin only knew it was no fun anxiously waiting at her bedside.

As he sat there, staring at Hermione as she slept, the image of her kissing Dean ran through his head over and over again. It was almost painful. No, it was painful. What if he had only told her that he had given her those gifts because he loved her? What if he had come clean about everything, instead of maintaining that Gryffindor pride?

“This is all too complicated,” he groaned to himself, running his fingers through his hair. “It should be simple!”

If you had listened to me it would’ve been, Ginny’s voice ringed in his head. Grimacing, Harry raced to his room and returned to Hermione’s with The List, which he had transfigured into a journal before coming leaving Hogwarts, figuring that he might as well spend the time making sense of how exactly everything had become so…complicated.

A/N: For anyone who’s interested (or ever watched The O.C.), when Harry puts Hermione to bed, I couldn’t get the image of Ryan tucking in Marissa in the first episode…so that’s why the two probably appear so similar (at least in my mind they do).

Oh! And before anyone yells at me about cliffhangers…I originally intended to end this chapter with “Hermione was kissing Dean Thomas,” so don’t get too upset with me. Anyway, like I said, the next chapter should be submitted by Thursday, and I’m fairly certain most of you will be pleased…

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