Chapter XVIII: finding solace
“Love is like energy. It can never be created nor destroyed...it is just always there. You just have to realize that fact and you have to learn that as soon as you stopped loving him in the way you did that love left to somewhere else. Now all you have to do is find out where that love went. That love went to whoever the next person in your life will be. That next person could be one of your friends or someone you might dislike; you just have to find that out.” –Ian Philpot
“Harry?” he heard a quiet, almost timid, voice call out to him.
“Hermione? What are you doing in here?” he asked, sitting up in his bed in alarm.
“Can I stay with you tonight? Thunderstorms aren’t really my forte,” she informed him as she stood awkwardly before the bed, nervously shifting her weight from one foot to the other.
He nodded his head, regardless of the fact that she couldn’t really see much more than the general outline of his body in the dark of the room. “Come on in, love.”
“Thank you,” she cheerfully chirped as she hoped into his bad, quickly getting under the covers and hugging him.
He cocked an eyebrow. “Are you sure there’s no ulterior motive here?”
She laughed lightly. “When I was traveling around Africa from clinic to clinic there was one thing that never changed, the thunderstorms,” she quietly admitted. “They weren’t that often, but when they came… it was horrible. The kids were already so sick—most already in a state of hysteria, paranoia, and deliria… When it rained like this they were so scared, so afraid of what it could be and the symptoms of their illnesses didn’t help ease their minds much. It was terrible to watch, Harry, broke my heart, especially when I realized that there was nothing I could do about it…” her voice died out as she brought herself closer to him, tightening her hold on him.
They laid in silence, Harry soothingly rubbing circles in her arm in hopes of calming her nerves, and Hermione staring out the large window in his bedroom, watching the sky crackle with exceptional fervor.
“I’m proud of you, you know that, right?”
He could feel the smile on her face as she rested her head on his chest, merely saying a thank you in response, but her body considerably relaxed at hearing that confession.
“So how long have you had a thing for Hermione?” Ron asked as the two sat in the green leprechaun, each cradling a butterbeer float—an invention courtesy of Hermione, one that, albeit rather disgusting, had ice cream in it and had become a quick favorite among the trio.
Harry’s head, which had been resting on the table after a particularly strenuous day at work, shot up in surprise. “How’d you find out?”
“Come on mate, it’s pretty obvious.”
Harry raised a questioning eyebrow at him.
“Okay so it was obvious after Luna pointed it out to me,” Ron snappishly admitted, rather insulted by the fact that it was apparently so obvious. He rolled his eyes as he muttered something under his breath, but given his foul mood to have been found out Harry highly doubted that he really wanted to know what it was that Ron had to say given the red head’s infamous potty mouth.
Harry chuckled. “When did she tell you anyway?”
“A week ago, so that leaves a question that begs to be answered: how long have you felt that way about her and why the bloody hell didn’t you tell me earlier?”
“I take it we’re going for the blunt approach this evening then,” Harry dryly commented.
“Well it seems to be what’s lacking in our friendship as of late,” Ron quipped.
“Two years and counting—that’s how long I’ve been in love with her.”
Ron’s eyes widened at the admission. “Bloody hell.”
Harry nodded solemnly. “Yep.”
“So, just to clear things up, why haven’t you told the person that’s ‘supposedly’ your best mate?”
Harry shrugged. “It was weird, I mean with you… you’ve dated her. I wasn’t sure if I could take having to get advice on her from an ex of hers… that’s just too weird, I’ve already dated your sister… don’t want things to become even more incestuous than they already appear to be.”
Ron cracked a smile despite himself at hearing that rather unorthodox explanation. “Okay, I’ll give you that one given that I can tend to be a bit importunate when I choose to say certain things. But, seriously, from now on talk to me—I’ll even promise not to make any comments on Hermione and my experience dating her, yeah?”
“Get me another one of these and you’re on,” Harry told him with a grin.
“Oi, there you are, we’ve been looking everywhere for you two,” Fred exclaimed as he walked into the pub with George, Luna, and Hermione—all of whom had been working on helping Luna find the perfect wedding gift for Ron, a fact that she had found herself unable to hide from him.
“We’ve only gone to two pubs in search of them,” Hermione laughed, defending her best mates as she seated herself by Harry. “Hello Ron,” she greeted him as he returned with a drink for Harry and himself.
“Hello loves,” he smiled at the pair, ignoring his brothers, as he kissed Luna and pecked Hermione on the cheek before pulling his fiancée onto his lap.
“Bloody hell, what are we, invisible?” Fred asked George.
“I think so, it seems that the women have struck again and stolen our mate from us,” George responded with a sympathetic nod.
“I’m your mate?” Ron asked excitedly.
“We were referring to Harry,” Fred told him in a deadpanned voice.
Hermione, who had just stolen Harry’s drink and was sipping it, choked on the drink as she laughed.
“Hey, when did you find time to steal my drink in the short time that Ron returned with it?” Harry asked, making a move to retrieve his drink only to have his attempt thwarted by Hermione, who pulled it back immediately.
“You were going to offer it to me anyway,” she informed him with a smile.
“Since I pray you have some sense of chivalry,” she teased him.
Harry, however, didn’t say anything in response, merely pushed the forgotten drink towards her.
Fred groaned. “Now that’s pathetic.”
George nodded in agreement. “He’s whipped.”
“Well who wouldn’t be scared of Hermione?” Ron interrupted, sending a conspicuous wink towards Harry after asking his brothers.
Hermione, by some divine miracle that was totally beyond him, failed to notice what was going on as she and Luna were entranced by the dresses in the latest bridal magazine Luna had purchased.
At seeing who Harry’s frightened eyes were trained on Hermione, Fred turned to Ron. “Seriously, little brother, you may want to consider trying to be a bit more inconspicuous as you truly suck at this.”
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