It took a moment for Hermione’s eyes to adjust to the luminosity in the room. Before he entered the room, with a motion of his wand Harry had lightened all candles in sight. Hermione was astonished. She dreamed of that place every night since she had left. With a few easy steps, she moved forward. Dropping her hand on the nearest shelve, she let her fingers lightly brush through the spines of her beloved books. Turning her head back to Harry, over her shoulder, she smiled.
“I missed this place.”
“I know.” Harry moved towards her and grabbing her hand motioned for her to follow him. “But I have a surprise for you.” Going up the spiral staircase in the corner, they stood before a heavy double door. “C’mon, open it.” He said.
Hermione let go of his hand and pushed the door open, getting into the small room. Instead of the dark walls, Hermione was expecting, these were covered in a beige tapestry. There was a large window with a built in bench, decorated with fluffy pillows. On the middle of the room, a dark wooden desk sat prominently. The wall behind the desk was covered with books from top to bottom. Hermione headed to the books, and inspected the names on the spine.
“These are my favorite.” Hermione motioned to the wall behind her. Her eyes were sparkling with amazement.
“This is for you, kind of an office.” Harry passed his hand through his hair, seeming somewhat uneasy. “I hoped you would stay.”
“For me?!” Hermione twirled around the room, for the first time, words failed her. Looking at Harry standing by the door, with his eyes on the floor, Hermione was taken by a feeling that warmed her heart. With a small run, Hermione threw herself at his arms, taking him by surprise. “Thank you.” She whispered.
Hermione had hugged him before, several times actually. But this time, it felt differently from what she remembered. She could feel his strong arms around her, holding her close. She could feel the warmth of his lips just inches from her ear. Hermione had her hands resting on his broad shoulders. She lost track of time. They fitted together so perfectly. Finally, Harry moved his hands down her back, stopping with a hand by either side of her waist. Her hands left his shoulders and traced the pattern of his vest, stopping at his chest. They were still tangled in each other. Hermione wandered what was on Harry’s mind. Slowly she turned up her head, locking her eyes on his. It was so easy to get lost on him.
Those beautiful emerald eyes that she could always figure out, where now sending her such a mix of emotions and confusion. And then, the swirl stopped. There was a clear question on his eyes, and Hermione took but a moment to answer. As if it was synchronized, their faces started moving at the same time, closing the inches between them. As ever so sweetly, Harry’s lips captured hers. Timid at first, their kiss was pure. Harry separated from her for a moment, his eyes locking on hers again. Hermione pushed him to her, closing her hand on his hair. This time their kiss was much more. They let go of all that was holding them back, throwing their hearts in the table.
“What does this mean, Harry?” With a forced pause to catch their breath, Harry’s forehead rested on hers.
“I don’t know.” Harry slid his strong hands from her waist to her forearms, catching her hands in his. “I can’t stand to have you sent away, again.”
“Oh Harry… Dumbledore will never allow this.” Although fighting it, Hermione wasn’t able to hide the tears that filled her eyes.
His hand cupped her cheek, his thumb drying one small single tear that escaped her eyes. “I wish Sirius was here. He would know what to do.”
“Where is he? I have wondered.” Hermione was more than glad for the minor change of subject.
"Remus is on a mission, and he missed our last two scheduled floo connections. It’s been three months since we last received news. At first we tough he avoided contact because he was being watched. But Sirius and I got worried and so he volunteered to go after Remus.”
“Do you know if Sirius is okay?”
“He sent news a couple of days ago. Sirius is fine, but there is still nothing about Remus.” Harry let go of Hermione’s hands, encircling her waist. She could feel he needed her support. Hermione vowed to herself that she would never leave him again. It was a weird sensation, being needed.
“Remus and Sirius know how to defend themselves.” Hermione said her hand on his face. “They will come back.” She assured him, locking her lips on his for a brief second.
They stood silent for some time, just holding each other, Harry knew he had to go back to the ball room, before anyone noticed he was gone, but he didn’t want to leave this newfound little slice of peace.
“Go, I’ll wait here for you.” Hermione told him, reading his mind. “I love this place, I’m sure I can distract myself for some time.”
“You are amazing, do you know?” Harry asked, smiling. Kissing her again before he left.
Alone in her office, Hermione let her shoulders fall. One hand on her hip and other on her forehead, she tried to make some sense of what just happened. In her mind there was a battle of sentiments and reason taking place. Before Hermione was sent away to live with the Weasleys, there was a growing fondness developing between Harry and her. It was but the feather like wings of a butterfly, soft and lovely, but barely heavy. Hermione had only been able to discern those feelings with time. Since she never though she would see him again, Hermione kept him close to her heart, but it was her most precious hidden secret. That small spark of feeling was like a companion for when she was alone. Like a toy she would sometimes take out and play with in her head, dreaming with what if. Through their exchanged correspondence, Hermione let the spark burn brighter, as she caught glimpses of the man Harry was becoming. This was Hermione’s only weakness, but she kept it hidden all those years. Only to see her façade break to pieces, just by being near him.
Hermione took a seat by the window and stared, at the moon lite lake. Feeling remorse she thought about Ginny. Despite everything, they were friends. Hermione didn’t have many friends in the world, but Ginny was a friend. How could Hermione ruin Ginny’s change at happiness? Even if Harry didn’t seem to care for her at the moment, it was his duty to at least try. What if he did fall for Ginny? How could Hermione live without him? Hermione knew she could manage to live without him, but she didn’t want to. For the first time in her life she was selfish, and she hated that.
She had seen it in his eyes, though. How much he cared about her. She had felt it in their kisses, too. If only their love was enough for Dumbledore, enough to protect the kingdom. She wished Sirius and Remus were there. Despite not knowing if Harry and she would work out, Hermione wanted the time to figure it out. And time was something they didn’t have. The wedding between Harry and Ginny was set to happen in two days.
Suddenly Hermione gasped with realization. She got up quickly and stood before her private bookcase. Starting to take out some books she got an armful and placed them on the desk. Taking a deep breath, Hermione sat, much more relaxed, as she dove into research. She was finally, finally… home.