Autumn, Flying and birthdays p2
This book belongs to j.k Rowling, unfortunately
The afternoon found two figures huddled comfortably under a large oak tree, enveloping the pair in their own little world. A bag full of goodies lay half-empty beside them, remains of its contents scattered across the worn blanket that had brung warmth to the couple on various occasions over the years, its memories weaving harmoniously between the strings of wool that resided beneath the two students.
Frost that had accumulated across the field during the night melted slowly in the midday sun, caressing the thin beads of grass with a familiar comfort that returned to the grounds of Hogwarts every year with the wind. Autumn had arrived early that year, pushing out the summer breeze and harvesting the green from the trees, dressing the aged wood like a proud Gryffindor on a cold winters morning.
The Whomping Willow twitched slightly to their left as though it were trying to satisfy an irritating itch, carpeting the floor with scarlet and gold flags it had previously been donning.
No wonder Hermione loved this season so much.
The hours following the Quidditch tryouts were spent perfectly in Harry's opinion, Hermione told him stories about her pre-Hogwarts birthday traditions, and Harry listened with genuine interest. The witch had nearly hexed him silly when he had begun laughing at the thought of her covered in sugar-free cake in the middle of the Granger's favourite restaurant on her tenth birthday. "It was double digits, and they thought it would be amusing! Honestly, it was rather mortifying looking back; the cake was lovely, though." She had explained in her famous matter-of-fact tone, ignoring Harry's pretend gag noises at the idea of sugar-free cake.
Just as Harry began to feel the cold bite of the wind, Hermione covered his hands with hers, shielding him from the cold before speaking softly. "This may be my best birthday yet," Hermione hummed contently sometime later, pulling her partner's arms tighter around her front, causing Harry's heart to flutter.
"Hmm... I'm not sure; second year was pretty amazing." Harry replied fondly, memories slowly flooding back. "I've never seen a sky as beautiful as the one we saw that night."
"Nor have I." She agreed; Harry didn't have to see her face to know she was smiling, "It was so adorable, seeing what you did for me. It was the first time anyone other than my parents had surprised me... the butterflies you gave me, I was positively buzzing for the rest of the week." The brunette muttered gaily, "It certainly didn't help the little crush I had on you."
"You had a crush on me all the way back in Second year?" The raven-haired boy questioned in an amused tone, leaning back to see her cheeks turn red.
"Well... actually, I had a crush on you in first year too." She admitted quietly, avoiding his eyes as he started to snigger. "How could I not? You were always saying nice- stop laughing! You were always saying nice things to me! Ron was constantly bullying that and me, and all I ever heard was you standing up for me; it was really sweet." Her voice became calm as she thought for a moment, Harry's laughs dying down as she did so, placing his head atop hers as he waited for the girl to continue. "Then there was the troll; You had chased after me and waited outside the door all day. When I finally did come out, you looked exhausted... Oh, Harry, I couldn't believe you waited for me all day... but then we saw it coming round the corner, we went back inside and- well, you know the story." She waved her hand to signal she wasn't going to tell a story he already knew; finding her place, she continued, "I saw you throw yourself on its' back, and that was that, I was sold... oh and when you asked if I "wanted to sit next to you next lesson", Merlin."
"Ah yes, First-year flirting at it's finest." The green-eyed boy snorted, "But still, first-year! I suppose I'm just that irresistible."
Harry could hear Hermione roll her eyes from her place in front of him. "I knew I shouldn't have told you; your ego was big enough as it was. Forgive me for melting on the spot when a boy risks his life for me, or when he sets up a stargazing date on the astronomy tower when he's twelve. Even when he tries to drag me over the balcony on a broom," She shivered at the flashback, causing Harry to burst out laughing for what seemed like the millionth time that day.
"The look on your face when I pulled out my firebolt, you practically glued yourself to the floor." The laughter continued to bubble out of him as Hermione buried her face in her hands, an embarrassed giggle escaping her lips.
"I was thirteen! I also hated flying- I still hate flying. It's terrifying! The amount of times I've seen you nearly fall off- actually fall off is enough to make me stay at least fifty feet from a flying stick."
"But it's fun!"
"That's what makes it fun!"
"Danger is not fun!"
"It wouldn't be dangerous with me, Hermione." He gestured toward his broom that lay forgotten by their feet. Feeling the girl go stiff in his arms, he moved back, crawling in front of her and resting on his knees. "Come on, Hermione! You're a big girl now! Just one teensy flight? I have another surprise for you." The boy begged the girl in front of him with wide eyes and pouted lips; she simply scowled at him. "Pleaaaaaase?" He tried again, his gaze begging.
"Oh, fine." She huffed, standing quickly. "One flight, and no fast turns."
"Of course not." He declared happily, already bouncing on his feet.
"And not too high, you know I hate heights... and not too close to the grounds we could get in loads of trouble-"
"-Hermione! "The wizard halted the anxious witch in her tracks, taking her gloved hands and bringing them to his mouth, "You're safe with me..." He whispered, breath dancing on her lips. Still looking unsure, a goofy grin stretched across Harry's face. "Here," Removing one hand from hers, he presented a hooked pinky, Hermione studied it with quizzing eyes, "I, Harry Potter, promise to keep you safe on this 'flying death trap'."
"A pinky promise? Harry, how old do you think we are?"
"I, Harry Potter-" He repeated, ignoring her statement, "-promise to keep you safe on this 'flying death trap'. Do you, Hermione Granger, trust me?"
The bushy-haired girl rolled her eyes, a smile threatening her lips, "Oh, alright, I trust you." She consented, wrapping her pinky around his. Harry let out a sound of victory that mimicked his cheer from earlier that day; he quickly kissed Hermione's cheek before nearly running towards his firebolt.
"UP!" He shouted, his broom shooting up into his stretched hand. "We'll take it slow, honest." Harry reached out his free hand towards his girlfriend; she took it gingerly. "Now, I'll get on firs-"
"Uh, Harry?" The tanned girl called carefully.
Already hovering, he turned to her. "Yes?"
"How am I supposed to get on that thing?"
"Oh, sorry." Harry apologised sheepishly, "Here, I'll bring the bristles to the ground; just come and stand behind me." He watched her slowly follow his instructions resuming, "Now, put both legs on either side of the-, yeah, there you go, now hold on to me."
Hermione seemed to make a small squeak of discomfort as she placed herself behind him, arms already locked around his waist.
"Good, now I'm going to lift the broom up slowly. Don't be afraid of sitting on it; it will hold your weight just as well as a chair would."
"Except chairs are on the ground." Hermione moaned, trying desperately to keep her toes on the grass below them. "Aren't I supposed to choose the birthday activities since it's my birthday?"
"If you don't like it, we can come back down, I promise." And with that, he gently pushed upwards, bringing them both to hover above the ground again. Hermione whimpered slightly, embedding her face in the softness of his padded shoulder. "You're safe with me." He reassured her once more.
"I'm safe with you." She echoed, taking a moment before signalling she was ready. Harry brought the broom up higher as steadily as possible before manoeuvring them away from their picnic spot.
The broom was moving at a painfully slow rate for Harry's liking, the thick wood crawling through the air no faster than a Demiguise could climb its tree, but this was okay. He didn't want to scare away the small girl that had a death grip around his middle.
Turning his head, he rubbed his cheek against the ball of curly hair that was splattered across his back like a fur coat. "Open your eyes." He murmured, voice comforting and coaxing. The ball of hair moved, shaking in protest. "Only for a moment, keep your eyes forward, not down." The green-eye boy advised, his tone still gentle.
Hermione stayed still for a moment. Harry was about to suggest they head back before suddenly, the bookworm nodded. Gingerly, he felt her remove her head from his shoulder, facing forwards with eyes still tightly shut.
"Open your eyes." He breathed, and she did.
The gasp that escaped her filled Harry with a sudden wave of pure happiness that almost had him singing.
"Harry..." She wheezed, golden-eyes surveying the view hungrily. "It's beautiful."
Before them stood the school bedizened in a way neither he nor Hermione had never seen before, as though conjured for only the pair to see. They sat around twenty feet over the light tainted water, mirroring the vast colours above it in a wobbly version of the sky. A large drop of sun hung like a stage prop in the air, dangling below one of the many towers that sprouted from the perfectly even squares that rose to meet the coloured glass windows, each stone more ancient than any bone in the ground. Sunset wrapped around the structure like a flaming torch, guided by the magic that fluttered within the castle walls. Armoured trunks reached out protectively in front of the fortress, surrounding it like the great armies that once scattered the grounds many years before, blocking the lower parts of the citadel as the painted orange leaked into red. Harry felt his breath catch in his throat at the sight before him, his home.
"Does this beat the sky from that night?" He questioned in a hushed voice, allowing Hermione to take in the scene.
"Absolutely... I forget how beautiful it is sometimes," She breathed, kissing an exposed patch on his neck tenderly, lips warm against the cold. "Thank you, Harry."
"I'm not done yet." A crooked grin sing-songed, sending a mischievous grin over his shoulder. Harry swung both of his legs over the broom's left side in one swift movement, bringing them to dangle from the edge. He felt Hermione's panicked hands grip his shirt tightly, eliciting yet another laugh from the boy. "I'm okay, 'Mione." He assured her, green eyes calm and sure. Looping his left leg back over the opposite side of the broom, he came to face her uneasy expression, grinning.
"That's really dangerous, Harry," Hermione whined, one hand clawing at Harry's shirt, the other gripping the broom tight enough to challenge the terrified Ron Weasley from earlier. "If we fall, who will steer—"
"Hermione." Harry placed a tanned hand over her own, stroking the felt-covered skin, "You're safe with me; we'll be fine."
The now-adult witch muttered something about a "flying death trap with a good view" before meeting his gaze once more, her grip loosening as she tried to relax.
Pleased, Harry reached into his pocket, pulling out a pin-sized box. "Now, its time for your surprise."
"The view wasn't the surprise?" She watched his movements curiously, raising an eyebrow as he also revealed his wand.
"Nah, that was just part of the experience." Harry shook his head, pointing his wand at the speck. "Engorgio!" He hissed the incantation under his breath just as he had practised; the box made a strange popping noise before spinning in his hand and tripling in size. "Tada." His lopsided grin grew considerably as he proudly showed his audience the now normal-sized flip box.
"Another gift? Oh, Harry, you didn't need to, you've already got me, so mu-" Harry swallowed her words in a swift kiss, feeling the broom lower slowly as he did so. When he pulled away, he could see a resonant blush rise beneath her freckles, complimenting her skin and brightening the golden tint in her eyes.
"Just open it."
"And I'm the bossy one." The elder girl grumbled good-naturedly, sticking her tongue out at him; Harry simply copied her. Harry leaned in as she took the box from his hands, eager to see her reaction to its contents. Hermione stroked the wood with her finger, then proceeded to unfold it. The spectacled boys face dropped slightly when a muddled expression appeared on her features; he shifted awkwardly, ready to explain when the surprise elicited another joy-filled gasp from her.
He watched as her eyes followed the silver hippogriff as it danced across the thin metal band, letting out a relieved breath as her shocked expression turned into a smile. "I felt the need to continue the whole "buckbeak theme" thing for your birthday, so..." He gestured to the flexible band, "Here it is, that's not all either. It's an enchanted charm bracelet, you see. It is entirely unique for whoever puts in on, the bracelet will create charms that represent the most important events in your life, and new ones will appear as time goes on." Watching as Hermione's eyes widened with every word, he removed the bracelet from the box, taking her hand and carefully slipping the jewellery over her gloved hand and onto her smooth skin.
Still speechless, Hermione simply watched as tiny sliver beads burgeoned from the chain, gracing the material; Harry recognised several immediately. Hogwarts, the troll, the house cup, the time turner, her Patronus; there were also dozens of others Harry had no idea about but knew Hermione understood completely. "Harry..." She choked, tears welling up before her hazel orbs, "This... this is some extraordinary magic... I don't know what to say."
'Well, you have Fred and George to thank for the extraordinary magic." He hummed, flicking a wayward curl out of his eye, "When they're not making fart bombs and pranking people, they're actually incredibly talented."
He watched her silently. For a moment, letting her drink in the day's events as she stared at the gift on her wrist. Her stare shifted upwards, catching his own; happy tears fell from her eyes. They stayed that way, only mere inches away from the other, then she pounced. The small girl had propelled herself into his chest, causing Harry to wobble backwards. The hug was even more powerful than the one the majority of the Gryffindor common room had witnessed the day before.
Except there was no couch to catch them this time.
The impact had been so forceful that it had sent the two toppling over the back of the broom. Hermione shrieked at the sudden speed as the broom was ripped from underneath them. "HERMIONE!-" Harry yelped as he fell backwards, not having enough time to wrap his arms around her. The air was sucked right out of him as the pair plunged into the freezing depths of the black lake, entirely unprepared for the impact and utterly unaware of how close they had been hovering above the water. Both Harry and Hermione scrambled to untangle themselves from one another, their survival instincts desperately trying to urge them to reach the surface. They broke water spluttering, holding onto each other tightly to keep warm; Hermione shivered in his arms.
Feeling his own body shake, Harry pulled her closer. "M-merlin, a-are you alright."
"i-I'm f-fine." She stuttered in response, her usually tumbling hair flattened against her skin as she frantically kicked her legs, "I-I thought we were h-higher than that."
"Me t-too, I'm s-sorry." He apologised swiftly, his entire body trembling; he was sure he'd ruined her birthday for good this time. "I s-should have just k-kept us on the g-ground-" Harry wasn't able to finish that sentence as his voice was quickly muffled by a pair of quivering lips, pulling him into one of the most intense kisses Harry had ever experienced.
Suddenly, neither could feel the cold.
Much to Harry's distaste, the kiss ended quickly, as the couple were too far out to be able to keep themselves floating. Hermione pulled back first, leaning her forehead against his scarred skin. "This was the best birthday I could have ever asked for, Harry." The prefect answered sincerely, arms looped around his neck. "I loved every moment, even the parts where you dangled me over a lake, and then threw me into the lake."
He jolted backwards, using his hands to swim far enough so he could see her through the blurred glasses that sat crookedly on his nose. "I do believe it was you who sent us plummeting towards uncertain doom." He teased, emphasising the word you with a small splash.
Hermione merely attempted to return the attack, splashing the water lazily. She watched him for a moment, her gaze becoming softer. Harry's heart caught in his throat; she always looked at him before saying-
"I love you."
Before saying that.
Harry's mouth opened to respond, before shutting just as quickly, as though he were trying to mimic the fish that kept brushing against their legs.
He had planned to tell her how he truly felt today as another birthday gift, but he just couldn't form the word.
Of course, he did; it was blatantly obvious. Who would go through all this trouble for someone they didn't l-... lo-...
Damn it, he thought angrily, trying to force the words out would not help the situation. He closed his eyes and sighed in frustration; he was just so desperate to voice the words he knew lay in his mind somewhere, get past that mental block that had been drilled in by his relatives.
Seeing his troubled expression, Hermione smiled; Harry was certain he had seen a glimpse of sadness in her brown eyes, he flinched at the sight. "Thank you for all of this, Harry. It really was the best day."
Harry moved to protest at the subject change, but knew it just wasn't the right time. He vowed to tell her as soon as he was ready. "You're welcome, 'Mione... now, can we get out? I'm freezing my fucking balls off."
Their shoes made a synchronised squelching noise as they arrived outside of the portrait hole, even Hermione's best warming charm couldn't completely dry the two whilst she was still shivering. Harry had wrapped her up in the blanket they had been sitting on and had promised two cups of hot chocolate would be coming her way.
"My goodness, children, are you trying to make yourselves fall ill? Where on earth have you been." The fat lady bellowed, dropping her glass as she surveyed the damage.
"Just an afternoon walk, ma'am", Harry responded dryly. "Hazel warts."
"Go in and get warm! Kids these days, no sense of safety."
"Yet she thinks it's safe to try and make us all deaf. "Harry muttered under his breath, accepting the light smack Hermione sent his way.
"Be nice, Harry; she does keep us safe after-"
"You two are back late. What in Merlin's name happened to you two clowns?" A familiar voice cackled from the fireplace.
"Hermione taught me how to knit," Harry replied, face flat. Ginny snorted.
"Obviously. I'll save you both my questioning and let you go dry off... oh- but Harry?"
Turning from his place net to Hermione on the main staircase, he faced the redhead directly. "Yeah?"
"Someone came up to me after the tryouts had finished, saying they couldn't make it because of morning detention. Her name is Fay Dunbar, she's incredible... I mean, she's an incredible beater- she showed me her skill after you'd left. I think she'd be just what we need to have the perfect team." The youngest Weasley finished lamely, looking embarrassed.
Was Ginny Weasley blushing? She hadn't been this flustered since second-year.. during her 'Harry Potter crush' phase, Harry noted curiously.
"Well, we were unsure about that younger kid... I'll take your word for it." He decided, nodding his head. "I've seen her fly before, never seen her play. I know she's got a hand for Gobstones, though. We can talk about deciding who's on the team after dinner, okay?"
"Sure, if you aren't busy having another dip in the pool." The freckled girl sniggered, clearly regaining her composure.
"Ha, hilarious." Rolling his eyes, he watched the girl flip her hair as she skipped away, obviously wearing an amused smile. The boy turned to
the smiling girl beside him, taking in her damp features, her eyes, her nose, her smile... that gorgeous smile, and her lips...
It might hurt her.
Clearly not noticing his inner battle, Hermione rose on her tiptoes, placing a quick kiss on his lips. "I'll meet you here in half an hour? We can go down to dinner together." She suggested as she pulled away, snapping Harry out of his thoughts.
"Sure, as long as we get hot chocolate for dessert."
"Deal." And with that, small feet made their way briskly up the stairs, leaving Harry in the common room.
Hours later, with a quidditch team picked and bellies full of hot chocolate and roast, Hermione and Harry lounged in front of the dying embers of the fire, dressed comfortably warm after their day out in the cold. It was late, the rest of Gryffindor tower sleeping soundly. Hermione's gifts lay lined before them on the coffee table, waiting to be put away when their owner eventually returns to her dorm. For now, Hermione simply eyed them fondly.
"What was your favourite part of the day?" Harry queried, stroking the girl's hair as she lay on his lap, her eyes drooped tiredly.
"I'm not sure..." She hummed feebly, moving closer to his chest.
"What about your favourite gift?"
"My bracelet... definitely. But I do love... the book... Ginny..." She trailed off, eyes closed and breath slowing.
"I think it's time for bed,' Mione." The raven-haired boy urged, stroking her sides; she scrunched up her nose in protest.
"Not yet... just ten minutes."
"Alright, alright." He said in mocked exasperation, having no intention of moving just yet.
"Mmm... I love you." She purred, a smile on her lips. Harry's throat went dry.
Tell her, you coward.
Just say it.
He looked at her, unsure.
What if It's wrong? What if it hurts her?
Not telling her will do worse damage. Tell her.
"I..." He croaked, sweating.
Say it, say it now, or you never will.
"I..." His hands were shaking; she was shifting uncomfortably. God, what was he do-
"Iloveyoutoo." He spluttered, letting out a breath he didn't know he was holding and gasping for air. He nearly yelped when he saw Hermione's eyes snap open; she bolted upright, spinning towards him with a hard stare.
"What did you just say?" She all but begged; he simply gaped at her, mouth half-open.
Say it again.
"I... I said.."
SAY. IT. AGAIN.
He took a deep breath, grounding himself.
"I love you too." He winced, as though he'd just ripped off an old plaster, but he felt no pain. Instead, he felt lighter, like a huge weight had fallen from his shoulders.
He had heard Hermione's exclamation at his words, but she sounded so far away. It wasn't until she had grabbed the sides of his face that and reeled him back did he remember where he was. He was here, with her, together.
And he loved her.
Hermione sobbed, breaking out into the most beautiful smile he had ever seen before crashing their lips together. Harry responded immediately, prying open her lips and allowing his previously uttered proclamation entwine between the lovers in a new and exhilarating dance. Her hands wrapped tightly around his neck, hugging him towards him as he secured his own arms around her back.
Pulling away suddenly, Hermione let out both a breathy laugh and sob before kissing him again, and again, and again and again. She moved backwards again, kissing him all over, his nose, forehead, cheeks, temples, and back to his lips. "I love you, so much."
"I love you too." He repeated instantly, the word still foreign on his tongue. Hermione let out another sob.
"Now." She laughed, "Now is my a favourite part of today."
He had to agree.
Harry told her he loved her at least thirty times by the end of that night.
As September weaved into October, Harry's routine began to settle. He would train four days a week for three hours with Tonks or Remus, hold Quidditch practice on Wednesdays with the new dazzling team. He would study with Ron and Hermione before training and spend Sunday's with Hermione; he was also hoping to restart the DA on Saturdays before his Order training. Harry found himself becoming more and more tired as the days went on, but knew it was worth it.
"What do you think of that Potions essay? Do you think talking about bell peppers will help-"
"-Ronald, bell peppers have nothing to do with Pepper up potions; the name is just a saying." Hermione huffed in annoyance, eyeing the ginger boy in front of her. Harry just smiled at their antics.
"Who names a get better potion 'pepper up' if they aren't going to add peppers?" Ron whined, pushing his scrawled essay directly into a young fourth years eggs. "Oh, sorry mate- Oh, mails here, you can have my chocolate frog to make up for it." He eyed the small packages that hung from the owls' feet, holding his hands out as a poorly cared for box landed before him.
"Hi, Hedwig." Harry greeted the snowy bird as it swooped before him, removing the newspaper from her mouth and offering the owl some toast. There was a mass of collective gasps that flooded through the grate hall; Harry raised an eyebrow. "What's going on?"
"They're all looking at the newspaper; unfold it," Hermione ordered softly, their thighs touching as she leaned in closer. Ron moved in from his left. Hermione was the first to let out a worried squeak; Ron followed with his signature' bloody hell.' Harry had to take a double-take to make sure he wasn't reading wrong.
LUCIOUS MALFOY ESCAPED FROM AZKABAN.
"Merlin," Harry breathed, running an anxious hand through his thick mop of hair.
"We have to floo Remus and Tonks, now." Hermione declared, standing quickly; the boys agreed, leaving their meals and following the prefect.
"Do you think they already know?" Ron question from his place beside Hermione, struggling to match her pace; she nodded.
"They probably knew when it was happening, and are probably waiting for our call right now."
"I just don't get it, I thought Voldemort had no use for the Malfoys now, what use do they have to hi-"
"-Professor McGonagall, Professor McGonagall!" Cried a tall Slytherin girl, running towards the professor who was just to pass them.
"Yes, dear? What is it."
The student took a second to catch her breath before uttering six words that Harry never thought would impact him so much.
"Draco Malfoy tried to poison himself."
whoooooooop! First written from scratch chapter since 2018! We did it! The number of times I refined and re-wrote this single chapter to try and make it perfect, but I still don't like it. It is what it is though, if I kept trying to make it perfect I'd have never posted it!
Thank you for the continuous support, and ill see you all very soon!
And thank you Aali for your prompt, credit to the turtle for her ideas. See, I told you I was lying.
p.s., please excuse the sheer amount of times I say the word 'eye' in this. *sigh*
Edit: don't flame me for my sheer amount of descriptive writing here. I'm a sucker for autumn and sunsets! I admit it! Gah! It isn't my fault I read the entire "autumn/sunset quotes" list on that dictionary website! I'm guilty! Now stop judging me!