Since he almost tripped over Lady Ginevra's dress, Harry refused to look in Hermione's direction, avoiding her gaze at all costs. Not that Hermione noticed it herself, as she was just doing the exact same thing. For an instant, nothing else made sense. In that moment they were both struggling with unwanted thoughts.
Sometimes, a look it's all that's needed to know what's on someone's heart. Despite the fact that it is even easier to just refuse to believe that it is there. Perhaps it's only someone's own heart playing tricks at itself. Wanting its owner to believe, to see, something they've been dreaming for years. Nonetheless, when what you want gets in the way of proper conduct, it's better to just bury it deep in your chest. Not to let even a smile dare to make you feel that tiny little spark of hope you so desperately crave. As Hermione swirled in someone else’s arms she was aware, of something that scared her more than Lord Voldemort himself.
"My lady, will you be staying in the castle with our soon-to-be-princess?" Draco asked Hermione, in a mellifluous sweet voice.
"Lady Luna and I will stay with Lady Ginevra until her wedding day. Then we are to return home and keep company to her ladyship's mother."
"It's a waste that someone as beautiful was kept away from court all these years." Draco commented, staring at Lady Ginevra intently.
"As soon as the engagement was set, Lady Molly wished to keep her daughter by her side, shielding her from the bad influences of court life." Hermione explained, with a slight tone of warning in her voice.
Hermione hadn't been in the royal castle for a very long time, but she was able to discern Sir Malfoy's intentions as well as any lady with a little bit of common sense. Nevertheless, when Hermione looked into Malfoy's eyes, it was like looking in a mirror of her own. Perhaps the days of Sir Draco's charms over all ladies were gone for good. Every so often, there's only one thing in the entire world that changes a man, and that is a woman. Realizing this, Hermione's heart warmed into her new acquaintance. The weak have to stick together, her grandmother used to say.
The music came to a halt as to indicate the moment for changing partners. Hermione stood still as both Harry and Ron stopped before her at the same time. She smiled warmly at the two boys. Harry gave Ron his turn with a slight wave of his wrist, as a condescendence to his future brother-in-law.
"Good luck." Harry said, smiling mischievously, pointing at Hermione's feet.
"I'm not that bad, mate." Ron blush extended to his ears.
Hermione's hand fell on Ron's shoulder as she laughed. "Come on Ronald, I'll teach you." She said, as Harry turned to Lady Luna, and started dancing with her.
There were no words that could describe how much Hermione missed Ron. His was never the assiduous correspondent Harry was. With time, Ron and Hermione weren't left with much to say to each other. Although they never stopped writing back and forth it seemed they didn't say anything at all. In the time she was away, Hermione though about "her" boys a lot. Wishing they could be there with her. Imagining what would they say and do if they were. While dancing with Ron, she was more than glad to comprehend that as afraid as she was, that they had grown apart, it felt that time stood still. Their friendship was in the way to be restored, as if they hadn't been apart at all.
"Have you known Lady Luna for a long time?" Ron asked, completely immersed in the chandelier afar, as if he never saw it before.
"I’ve known her since I first arrived at the Weasley’s estate.” Hermione answered. “But we only became friends sometime after that. She is a peculiar person. But an amazing one too.”
Seeming appeased by her answer, Ron blushed once again, still refusing to look at Hermione. “And… does she… have a…” Ron cleared his throat before continuing. “… a suitor?” His voice was so high that Hermione had a very hard time keeping her face still.
“No, Ronald. She does not.”
“Humph…” Pretending disinterest, he continued. “And what about you Mione?”
“What about me?” Hermione asked trying to hide the effect that nickname had on her. There was only one person that used to call her that, and she missed it so much. The way Harry pronounced each syllable so tenderly. Hearing Ron use it now, after so many years brought a shiver through her heart.
“Do you have any suitors? I mean, your looks have improved greatly.” Ron admitted. “Malfoy seemed much attached, dancing with you.”
“No, I don’t Ronald. About Sir Draco, he appears to be a nice person. But that is it, nothing more.”
One again the music came to a halt, Ron moved on to dance with his sister. Hermione stood where she was, scanning the crowd. She was about to give up when a hand brushed hers, making her heart skip a beat. The pull to ignore each other was much weaker than the one to be in each other’s arms. Never mind the wrongness of it. For Hermione, those feelings didn’t make any sense. Logically, there was no way to explain them, and she dreaded what couldn’t be explained.
“How is coming back home, feeling?” Harry asked her, as they started dancing.
“Better than I though.” Hermione relaxed, fixing her eyes on his. “I have to confess I was a little nervous.”
“Why were you nervous?” Concern dawned of his face.
“I was afraid it didn’t feel like home anymore.” For a moment, Hermione felt his hand tighten around hers in support.
“Does it not?” Apprehension made Harry stop dancing, keeping both of them still.
“On the contrary, this…” Hermione’s voice dropped, sounding so softly Harry almost didn’t hear, “…will always be home, no matter how long I stay away.”
Unaware of a couple of individuals observing the couple, Harry and Hermione stood still. For a moment, just looking into each other’s eyes, they were oblivious to the world around them and to the passage of time. The song finally ended, awakening them with a jolt. They quickly broke contact with each other. Hermione bowed at Harry before turning away from him. His eyes followed her, mesmerized, without her noticing.