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Harry/Hermione - Ink stains 
19th-Mar-2006 02:24 am
hp - hitting the books
Characters: Harry, Hermione... and a dash of the rest of Gryffindor
Challenge: Harry/Hermione, non-stereotypic fic, so no dead Ron, no asshole Ron, and no Hermione is with Ron because she pities the poor boy for loving her, but she REALLY loves Harry (woe! Angst!). Let's make it 6th year, can be non-canon (obviously).
Prompt word:paper bag
Word count: 1563
Suggested by: bad_influence
Rating: PG
Author's notes: this is the bastard fic of doom story that's been eating my brain the past week. OH MY GOD I can't believe I finished it. It was going to be much longer and more complicated... Anyway, I hope you enjoy. Feedback is appreciated, as always.

*****


Harry was burning the midnight candle for the third night in a row. Snape's essay - since when was it okay to assign two feet of parchment per night?! - was going to be the death of him, quite possibly literally. A hand on his shoulder awoke him.

"Harry," a soft voice said quietly. "You fell asleep."

Harry sat up suddenly, turning to look blearily at Hermione, his glasses askew. She was wearing her Gryffindor pajamas and had an old robe wrapped around her. She smelled, inexplicably, of vanilla and dragon's blood (probably from Potions earlier that day), and the scent filled him with warmth. A smile tugged at the corner of his mouth, which would have been sweet if not for the blotch of ink that had spread across his face while he slept. Hermione covered her mouth with one hand to keep from showing her smile. "You're staring," she said, raising an eyebrow and managing to look amused and stern all at once.

"Oh, sorry," Harry said, blushing and looking back at his essay. "Um, guess the analysis of the Yeti wasn't quite enough to keep me awake."

Hermione tightened her robe and slid into the chair next to him. "I could stay up with you, if you like," she offered, securing her hair back with a band. "I wasn't sleeping, anyway."

"Liar," he said, running his hand through his hair, trying to flatten it to no avail. Hermione shot him a sideways look, smiling a bit mysteriously.

"Wasn't lying," she said, lip pulling in amusement. "Was comforting Parvati. Anthony Goldstein dumped her earlier, and she's just heartbroken."

"Well, there'll be someone new next week, yeah?" he said, grinning.

"Harry!" Hermione protested, smiling. "That's not nice."

"No, but it's true, innit?" he responded, laughing.

She shook her head, but smiled, pulling one of Harry's books towards her. "Parvati's the kind of girl who falls in and out of... well, it's not love, but... she fancies people. She fancies the idea of being in love." She flipped the book open. “She’s too young to know what she wants,” she scoffed.

Harry looked surprised and rubbed at his jaw, unwittingly smearing some of the ink around. “Does that mean you’re too young to know what you want?” he asked, then blushed.

Hermione looked startled, but recovered smoothly. “Parvati’s too young emotionally to know what she wants,” she amended.

“You didn’t answer my question,” Harry said, reaching for the open book, meaning to pull it back and put it away.

Hermione’s hand covered his like it had dozens of times times before, but this time, a hot surge coursed through Harry’s veins. He flushed. She looked at him curiously, and for a moment he thought he saw something flicker in her eyes, then he dismissed it. Candlelight made people’s eyes look weird, he told himself. That’s all. Besides, Ron…

Ron, what? he asked himself. Ron’s never actually come out and said it. Besides, he’s been snogging Lavender Brown for close on a month. If he wanted Hermione… well, he should have gone after her and not muddled around. He has no more claim than I do.

“Do I need to?” she asked quietly, raising an eyebrow.

“Do you need to what?” Harry asked, blinking, trying to come back to the moment. “Oh! Do you need to… Right. Well, um, I asked, yeah?”

Hermione laughed gently and squeezed his hand. “Come find me when you don’t need to ask,” she said, smiling as she leaned in and kissed him on the cheek. She stood, a spot of ink on her lips, and retreated from the common room.

Harry stared after her, feeling inordinately stupid.

***


The next morning there was a stony silence at the Gryffindor table. Ron sat next to Harry, stabbing his kippers with unusual violence.

“Parvati?” Harry asked Ron halfway through a bite of toast several minutes later. Ron nodded absently. Lavender and Parvati were best friends, so if Parvati was upset – and she frequently was – then Lavender would get upset… and then that would make Ron titchy. And so the silence would spread along the Gryffindor table, everyone feeding off everyone else’s moods. Most of the annoyance seemed to be directed at the Ravenclaw table, at least, and Anthony Goldstein looked properly chagrined.

Harry breathed a sigh of relief, doubly thankful when Lavender (who had, somewhat annoyingly, picked up the habit of sitting directly across from Ron and Harry at meals) started to play footsie with Ron. This distracted him long enough so that Harry could steal a glance over at Hermione, who was sitting a few seats away, poring over a thick, scary-looking book that had arrived in the morning owl post. The paper bag it had come in was still spread beneath the heavy leather bindings.

He chewed thoughtfully on his beans on toast, watching her. She looked so intense when she was deep in research… hair falling gently around her face, a look of, well, it looked like craving etched in her eyes. There was something entrancing about her dedication. As though she sensed his eyes on her, Hermione looked up and along down at him, catching his gaze. She smiled a bit, tucking her hair out of her face, then returned to her work. Harry’s stomach flip-flopped and he took a drink from his glass, suddenly not wanting to eat anything more. He gathered his bookbag and cloak and got up, telling Ron he’d meet him later in Transfiguration. Ron waved his hand half-heartedly, still gazing stupidly across the table at Lavender, making kissing faces at her.

Harry went over to Hermione and screwed up his courage. “’Mione,” he said, tapping her on the shoulder. He swallowed nervously and nearly forgot what he was going to say when she turned around and looked curiously at him. “Will you… erm… walk with me?”

She cocked her head and nodded, quickly cleaning up her book and parchment and tucking them tidily into her bag. She stood and walked towards the doorway, keeping pace with Harry. They quietly made their way out of the castle and started slowly towards the black lake, a cold wind rushing in over the highlands.

“Well, Harry?” Hermione asked, pulling out her wand and casting a warming charm over them both.

“Well, what?” Harry asked, trying to forget why he’d brought her down here. It wasn’t hard to be distracted when her cheeks were flushed and she looked like she was glowing.

“You brought me out of the castle on a walk,” she pointed out, scarf fluttering in the breeze. “I’m assuming you had some purpose in mind.”

Harry blushed, then wished he weren’t. “Well,” he said awkwardly. “it’s just that… the other night…”

“You had quite a bit of ink on your face,” she said, smiling. “It was rather cute.”

He blinked, caught off-guard, though he wasn’t sure if it was the ink comment… or the fact that she’d just said he was cute. He smiled a bit nervously. “Yeah, I did…” He reached up to touch his face, feeling stupid. “Thank goodness it didn’t stain.”

“Well, yes, that would have looked quite silly,” she agreed, smiling.

He pushed his glasses up his nose and stared out over the lake, sitting down on the cold grass. Hermione sat down next to him, putting her bag by her feet.

“It’s really quite beautiful out here,” he said after a long minute, unsure of where to begin.

“Harry,” Hermione said, raising an eyebrow. “If you’re going to ask me, stop beating around the bush and ask me.” Her lips twitched in amusement. “I’m going to say yes, if that helps.”

He looked over at her in disbelief. “Erm, well,” he stammered. “The thing is, Hermione, that I… well, it’s tricky, because Ron…”

Hermione rolled her eyes a little and reached out to take his hand. “Ron,” she said quietly. “Well, Ron had five years, didn’t he?” His fingers laced with hers and he felt a shock flood his body that he was fairly certain wasn’t a warming charm. “Ron’s not really… well, let’s be honest. He’s not you. I did fancy him for awhile, I’ll admit.” She shook her head a little. “But he never acted on it, and I realised when he started dating Lavender that he was in search of something a little more shallow than I was that maybe my attentions had been in the wrong place.”

Harry nodded, still amazed that they were holding hands. Hermione looked over at him, that smile of hers playing across her lips. “Get on with it then, Harry,” she prodded.

“Oh, right,” he stuttered. “Hermione… will you, that is, I mean to say…” He floundered about. “Will you go out with me?”

Hermione grinned. “That’s a brave Gryffindor,” she said approvingly, flushing. “Yes, of course I will. That wasn’t so bad, was it?” she asked. “I mean, you’ve faced Voldemort, fought a dragon, and killed a basilisk… was it really so hard to ask me out?”

Harry managed to grin back at her. “Hermione, some days you are more terrifying than all three rolled into one,” he said honestly, still grinning.

She shook her head. “Boys,” she said affectionately under her breath. She leaned towards him. “You know,” she whispered, “this is the part where you kiss me.”

“Oh, right,” Harry said, and did just that.
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