Harry and Hermione Start their Sixth Year


Story Summary:
What happens when two close friends discover they are in love in a time of attacks? Covers late July to early September. H/Hr R/OC G/L DT/CC R/T

Chapter 04

Author's Note:
Harry's birthday, PDAs, Ron's surprise

Chapter IV

Hermione woke up feeling warm and secure. This puzzled her drowsy mind, for she had the distinct feeling that she should be cold and she knew, even in this state, that she had not felt secure since before Christmas.

She tried taking a deep breath, and the pain on her left side told her she was not dreaming. The agony of early June was down to a dull throb whenever she breathed too deeply, but it was still there.

A slight movement brought her up against a solid warmth, far too large to be Crookshanks. Finally opening her eyes, she was confronted by the sleeping form of Harry Potter. Hermione gave a little jump, and blinked. Memories of the previous days crowded through her mind. Tonks, leading a troop of aurors into the Granger house during the early evening of July 30. Standing guard in the bathroom, wand out, while her parents sat on the edge of the tub, as sounds of a fight drifted in shortly after midnight. Her parents' amazement at being portkeyed into Hogwarts (Sir Nicholas had not helped matter much with his introduction). Saying goodbye to her parents after they had had a brief consultation with Dumbledore and Mr. Weasley shortly after dawn. Being dragged by Tonks on 'an errand of mercy' after at most two hours sleep, which turned out to be moving Harry from his awful relatives.

Harry. Harry saying she was "a fussy know-it-all, but I always knew you were a very cute one." Harry; the one person she needed to comfort and be comforted by. The one whose arms made her feel safe and, yes, loved.

Hermione closed her eyes, trying to think about their first shared kisses. Instead, the Prophecy imposed itself, but then resolved itself into Harry falling asleep in her arms, his head nestled between her breasts on his narrow hard cot.

Hermione was not a very sentimental young woman, and as yet had few maternal instincts. The exception were her feelings for Harry. Just as Harry wanted to protect her (and, it seemed, everyone else on the planet), she needed to help and protect him.

Why was it she could resist anything except Harry? That had been true as early as their First year. Anything Harry might want to do, she might object to, but in the end, she would go along if it was what Harry really wanted.

Like sharing a room with him for a month.

On one level, Hermione believed this to be wrong, or at least both too soon and that it would appear wrong. No doubt Harry had been right; Dean and Colin needed to be together, considering their recent bereavement and Colin's condition. Yes, it would then be difficult to separate Luna and Ginny.

Henrietta was not any of her concern, but no doubt she and Ron would be spending time in one room or the other, and if they took over the boys' room Harry would end up with Hermione anyway. And she did want to spend every second possible with Harry.

Harry. The boy that she had been in love with all along, despite a flirtation with Viktor and an infatuation with Ron.

It seemed so reasonable when Harry had whispered it in her ear. And Hermione knew she could trust Harry not to take advantage of her. Remus and Tonks wouldn't object. Society would never know.

What was the problem, other than a slightly old-fashioned middle-class Muggle up-bringing?

Hermione opened her eyes, and looked at the boy, no young man, she loved. She acknowledged that perhaps the main problem was that she didn't fully trust herself. She had kissed Harry more passionately, and probably for a greater total time, in one day than she had Ron and Viktor in total. The time adjustment potion had taken less than ten minutes to work, and they had spent that time in each other's arms. When Harry had kissed her neck, she had felt like the heroine of one of the cheap romances her mother (and she) read in semi-secret.

She should stop this right now, Hermione decided. She took a deep breath and focused on Harry.

And his green eyes were looking back. They showed the pain, the burdens, that Harry carried. Hermione had grieved over the previous years as she had seen that haunted look grow in his expressions. But then she saw Harry focus on her as well, and the pain and burdens disappeared. Instead, Harry's new expression was one of total commitment and tender love. Feelings for her.

Harry had always been the most guarded person she knew. Occasional flashes, shown only to her and Ron and perhaps Luna, showed how Harry would have been without the abuse and pressures. And now, Harry was, just slightly, lowering his defenses to let her in, if she would lower hers and let him fully into her life, into soul. Perhaps, even, into her body.

Hermione Granger thought fast. She filled a logic tree in her mind, and made what she decided was the best decision for herself and for Harry.

Hermione reached over and wrapped her right arm around Harry's shoulders and urged him forward. Their lips met, and then their tongues. Harry's arm stroked Hermione's back through her jumper.

Hermione broke the kiss. "Harry," she whispered, "if we're actually going to do this, especially this fast. . . ." She chewed her lower lip and looked at him.

"I love you, Hermione," Harry said simply. "I'm yours, if you will have me. If you make the same . . . pledge, then I'll leave it to you to set the pace. We can stop where we are, we can go forward as fast or slow as you want. As long as we'll be together, the details don't matter to me."

Hermione saw the unspoken thought, 'I need you, but I can't ask.' "I love you, Harry Potter. I am yours. I accept your pledge." They kissed for ten minutes, until Ron pounded on their door, telling them it was lunch and he was hungry.

Lunch was a grave disappointment to Ron, since it was just bowls of French onion soup. "Did we go forwards or backwards through the time zones?" Harry asked.

"Why does it matter?" Remus asked.

"Because if it was backwards, it's still my birthday. Tonks and Dumbledore promised presents."

Remus smiled. "Good point. They're behind the far sofa."

Harry made a bee-line for the sofa. "You might as well go, too," Remus told Ron. "No cake until after dinner."

"Here, if you're still hungry have a fairy cake" Harry said, tossing Ron one of the dozen cupcakes he had just unwrapped. Ginny rolled her eyes, which clued in Hermione and Luna.

Ron suddenly turned into a tall version of Ginny. "What the. . . ! AAAARRGGH!"

"Ah," Harry said simply. "I thought that was George's handwriting."

"Fairy fairie cakes," Ginny said. "Turns you into the other gender for thirty minutes. 'Experience the other team,' price, two Galleons."

Harry gave one to each person. "Don't ask; don't tell," he said simply. He opened Ron's present next. "Thanks!" Harry said. "I can't wait to fly again." Ron had given him refills for his broom care kit.

"No need to polish your broomstick now, is there?" female Ron said in a mid-range alto.

"Colin?" Harry asked. He had noticed the boy had been handed a box by Remus, and sure enough, Colin again was armed with a camera.

"Let's see some cleavage, Ronnie," Colin teased, snapping a picture.

"Cad," Ron growled.

"Beautiful!" Harry said, holding up a small crystal figure. It was a flyer on a broomstick. "Thank you, Luna." Harry smiled as he looked at the figure; it was easy to see he saw himself in the slim figure on the broom.

Hermione leaned over and kissed Luna's cheek, whispering, "Brilliant!"

"Lips off, she's mine!" Ginny teased. She turned to Harry. "I helped bake the fairy cakes, Harry. They're a lot of fun!"

"They certainly are," Luna agreed.

Ron buried his/her head on Henrietta's shoulder. "I don't want to know!"

There was a box of fudge from Hagrid that looked almost edible for once, cards from the Weasleys and Mrs. Figg, a long multi-colored muffler from Dobby, books on defense from Remus, Tonks, and Hermione, and the official notification on the lifting of his flying and Quidditch bans from the Ministry.

"Sorry we didn't get you anything," Dean said at one point.

"Not a problem," Harry assured them.

Fred and George had also sent along a day-time firework, which turned out to be a red dragon that lasted five minutes, cavorting around the sky. It was while they were outside that Ron reverted to himself.

"Sure all the bits readjusted?" Dean teased.

"All the little bits?" Ginny added.

Ron made a 'Hurmph' sound and started to march around the corner of the cabin with Henrietta, presumably to check on things.

"Wait a moment," Remus said. "First, take a good look around."

The group was in a largish valley, some 12 miles long and two to five miles wide. The mountains around it were high, and two were actually snow-capped. The northern and southern thirds of the valley were heavily forested, as was the eastern side. There was an open grassland and shrub-land extending some four by three miles, with the cabin off towards the western edge. Part of it was flat and the vegetation was cut short, making it look like a rough landing strip to the Muggle-raised.

"Have your wands with you at all times. There are both black and brown bears in the forests; do NOT go in there. There is a small river on the western edge of the valley; don't try and cross it or the stream to the east. As you can see, the clouds are moving in; it should rain most of today and tonight, but it should be over by morning. It actually doesn't rain too much here this time of year, so with a little luck, we'll have nicer weather the rest of the month. So let's go in for today. With luck, part of your purchases will be here tomorrow, the rest tomorrow or Sunday."

"Can't we stay out until it rains?" Ron asked.

"Alright, but this should be a thunder storm, so no flying." Ginny, Luna, Dean, and Colin followed Remus and Tonks in, while Ron took a direct path to the wood shed, pulling a teasingly resistant Henrietta behind him.

Harry hesitantly held out his hand. Hermione considered briefly, and then took a hold of it.

"Feels a bit odd, doesn't it?" Harry asked as they walked away in an expanding spiral.

"Holding hands with me?" Hermione asked.

"Not with you, just . . . feeling free enough to hold hands in the open."

"We're not ones noted for PDA's, are we?"

Harry was puzzled. "PDA's?"

"Something of an American term, I think. It's so hard to keep up with Muggle slang, let alone telly-talk," Hermione said, somewhat wistfully. "Anyway, it means Public Displays of Affection. We are both . . . reserved."

"I would say that we should have tried to keep . . . us a secret," Harry said, "but nothing could make you much more of a target, could it?"

"No," Hermione agreed. "Professor Dumbledore told my parents that someone, probably Malfoy, had put tracking spells on our trunks. They should be fairly safe for now . . . as long as I stay away from them."

"I'm sorry, Hermione."

"It's not really your fault in any way, Harry," Hermione pointed out.

"I can still be sorry you can't see your parents," Harry answered.

"True," Hermione acknowledged. "And I have good friends, like Ginny, Luna, and Ron. And best of all, I have you, Harry."

Harry stopped them. "Yes, you do. Are we going to fight our inhibitions or struggle against PDA's?"

Hermione chewed her lower lip. "Holding hands, light kisses?"

"And how do we define 'public'?" Harry teased.

"Out amongst strangers, I guess," Hermione said. "I hate to remind you, Harry, but you are a public figure. No matter what you do, you're news." She grimaced. "Skeeter will be awful, if she has the chance."

"True." Harry glanced up. "I guess we should walk back. There are some things we need to talk about."

Hermione took Harry's hand. "Alright. Let's go."

The wind had picked up drastically, the temperature had dropped more than ten degrees from the mid-70s it had been, and the thunder was approaching as they entered the cabin. Harry led Hermione to the tattered sofa.

Harry checked to see if there was a flue to open (there wasn't) and laid a fire. A flick of his wand set the small fire going. He sat on the sofa, and pulled Hermione to him.

"What did we need to talk about?" Hermione asked.

"N.E.W.T. classes and the DA," Harry said.

"Professor Dumbledore said that we should do the DA as a club, Fourth years and above, with you and me in charge," Hermione said. "I agreed, if you agreed as well."

"I said pretty much the same," Harry said. "We'll have to decide how to get it to work."

"We'll work it out," Hermione said in a serene voice that would have done Luna credit. "What classes did you decide on?"

"Defense, Transfiguration, Charms, Basic Medicine, Muggle Studies, and Care. You?"

"Defense, Transfiguration, Charms, Basic Medicine, Arithmancy, Runes, and Care of Magical Creatures," she said simply.

"Why Creatures instead of Potions?" Harry asked.

"I looked over the curriculum," Hermione told him. "There are no new techniques I actually need to learn, and none of the potions seem terribly interesting, since I doubt I'll ever have the time to brew them. I prefer Creatures, in case I can use the information for S.P.E.W."

"Hermione, you have GOT to change the name. I know Ron came up with the idea first, but why not E.L.F.? Elf Liberation or Liberty Foundation, instead of Front? Set it up as . . . as, what-do-you call them? those Muggle groups that just study political and economic questions?"

"Think Tanks?" Hermione asked.

"Exactly. Lots of those are Foundations. It sounds more . . . solid and respectable than Front." Harry smiled. "Even Uncle Vernon says there's nothing like impressive stationary to make people think you're respectable."

"Good point," Hermione conceded. "Elves' Liberty Foundation? Maybe. What position can I put you down for?"

Harry grinned. "Patron, of course. Use my fame; for once I won't complain. From the papers I got from Remus, I'd say I can easily afford a ten to twenty-five thousand Galleon donation up-front and at least five thousand a year for staffing and such."

"Meaning me?" Hermione asked.

"If you mean to do it full time. I rather think it will be more part-time. If so, you'll need a mail drop if not an office, and at least a part-time secretary."

"I'll think about it," Hermione said, turning away from Harry and leaning back against him. Harry put his arms around her, and they sat in silence, watching the fire until it was time for a late dinner.

After an evening of exploding snap, the couples shyly (except for Remus and Tonks, who were more eager than shy) went to their rooms. Luna and Ginny went giggling, which was fairly out-of-their-usual behavior for them. Dean was the most quiet, Colin was the most obviously embarrassed, and Ron the most nervous. Henrietta was more giggly than Ginny and Luna combined, and nearly as embarrassed as Colin and almost as nervous as Ron.

Harry seemed the coolest and most at ease. Hermione seemed the most normal. Both were excellent facades. Compared to a Quidditch match, putting on a show here was easy for Harry. Inside, his stomach was twisted into knots. Hermione's mind for once was blank -- unwilling to think what decisions she might soon have to make.

The group broke up at 7:30, and Harry shut the bedroom door and turned to face Hermione. Both had dropped their masks of assurance, and looked terrified. They looked at each other for several seconds, and then Harry burst out laughing. Hermione followed.

"Do you want to shower first?" Harry asked.

Hermione saw the unexpressed question, and saw Harry was as afraid she was that she would say, 'No, let's take it together.' Instead, she said, "That might be best, tonight." Harry smiled.

"I wonder where my new pajamas are," Hermione said. Winky had merely announced that some of the clothes had arrived and were already put away. She saw that one of the elves had exchanged one tall dresser for a vanity dresser, and she went to it. She paused when she got close to the mirror. She eyed it carefully, but it made no comments.

Hermione opened a drawer and drew in a deep breath that really hurt. "Harry . . . did you have anything to do with this?"

"Do you mind?" Harry asked, now worried. "I knew you had lost nearly everything."

Hermione pulled out a translucent dark orange silk teddy, a pair of dark green long silk pajamas, and a pair of light lavender silk summer pajamas (shorts and loose pull-over top). "Everything . . . everything I didn't have in my two charmed trunks." Hermione teared up. "I didn't lose any of my Hogwarts things, thank goodness, but I . . . I lost all my Muggle books, and photos, and . . . and. . . ." Hermione started crying.

Harry quickly moved to hold her. Hermione cried for several minutes. Over the last 42 hours, Hermione had had two hours of sleep and the time adjustment potion. The stresses of the attack, leaving her parents, acknowledging her love, deciding her classes, and having to live in hiding for a month came home to her.

"Did I do something wrong, or is it just all that's happened?" Harry asked.

"Just . . . everything," Hermione sniffled. "And you're so thoughtful." She smiled. "I love silk, but I've never really owned much." She kissed Harry. "Which should I wear?"

"It should be warm enough for these," Harry said, pointing to the lavender. Hermione shook her head, and ducked into the bathroom. She came out a mere fifteen minutes later, her hair dried with a spell that made it even wavier and fuller than usual.

Hermione regarded Harry's open-mouthed stare and thought, 'I hope that's good shock, not bad,' she thought.

"You're incredibly beautiful, but you're too thin," Harry said.

"You should talk; this is the first summer you haven't been emaciated," Hermione retorted.

"Seriously, Hermione," Harry said, concern in his voice, "please, come running with me in the mornings. You're brilliant, but you need more exercise. You can do every spell there is, but you know how exhausting a fight can be. We all need to be in good shape. You need to eat more protein, too. You are beautiful, but we need to get a little more muscle on you. It might help with those pains you have when you take a deep breath."

"How . . . who told you?"

"No one told me," Harry told her. "I can hear you suppress a groan every time you take a deep breath. We're luckier than Muggles, Hermione. Instead of sixty or seventy more years, with luck we might have a hundred and sixty more years together."

"Alright, alright; I'll exercise. Tomorrow morning, I'll make out a schedule for the month. Half an hour. Okay?"

"Half an hour for you, a full hour for me, plus a half hour workout in the cellar afterwards."

"Alright," Hermione said, refusing to argue. "Go shower."

When Harry came out, just wearing plain boxers, he found all the candles and lamps off, except for one small candle on Harry's taller dresser. "Hermione," Harry started to ask tentatively, when he saw she had moved the pillows from the nearer bed to the one she was in. That answered his question.

Harry slipped in under the sheet, and flowed right into Hermione's embrace. Coming out of the deep kiss, Harry said, "I love you; you bewitched me slowly over the years. I can't live without you."

A few minutes later, Hermione said, "I don't know why, but you make me throw caution away."

Several minutes later, Harry reluctantly moved away from Hermione. "If we don't stop now. . . ." Harry warned.

Hermione reached down into Harry's shorts. "I intend to stay a virgin until we leave Hogwarts," she said, "but other than that, like I said, with you I throw common sense and caution away."

"If you're going to keep doing that, we need a handkerchief or something."

Hermione kissed Harry's ear. "No we don't." She licked down Harry's neck and then lower.