Title: After the Yule Ball (Torchwood Sample Chapter)

Author: gphoenix51

Author E-Mail:

Category: Action/Romance/Humor

Rated: R for Innuendo and Naughty Language…lots of Naughty Language

Pairing: H/Hr…duh. Are there any others?

Spoilers: Books 1-5, because the series mysteriously ended after book 5.

Disclaimer: All copyrighted products, movies, music, TV shows, comics, books, and any other Brand Names are the properties of their specific companies. All Harry Potter characters and places belong to JK Rowling. All original work and characters in this story are copyrighted by me, gphoenix51© 2008-2009.

Summary: (Warning, slight spoilers for the rest of my Torchwood fic, though by the time I'm finished writing it and finally post it, I'm sure everyone whose read this will have forgotten the minor spoilers) Harry and Hermione have just finished their 6th Year Yule Ball. Harry has many things he needs to get off his chest before entering into a relationship with Hermione, along with one big secret that could destroy their budding romance.

A/N: This story originated as a Challenge that I submitted. I had read a few Vigilante!Harry type stories and got an idea for this challenge. Unfortunately, no one took me up on it, so I decided to write it myself. Though I'm kinda glad, now that I'm so far into it, no one would have written it the way I want to write it :P The Challenge is here (.?showtopic=27017). My story will be slightly different than the original Challenge, but a story is always in flux apparently, considering the times I've written and re-written this fic. I hope you enjoy!

The Room of Requirement opened, and inside was exactly what he imagined. "Excellent job yet again, Room."Harry thought, his eyes tracking over the candles on stands placed around the room and the lit fireplace. The Gryffindor red loveseat right in the middle, bathed in the soft romantic glow. Harry led Hermione inside, the door softly closing behind them. Mentally, he willed the room to lockdown, and watched as the door disappeared. He caught Hermione's raised eyebrow.

"Ulterior motives for bringing me here, Mr. Potter?" Hermione smirked at him.

Harry gave a soft laugh, "I'd rather not get cursed into the next world on a presumption Miss Granger. I want to tell you something, something very important. And I don't want any redheads, with their legendary bad timing, crashing the party, or anyone else for that matter." Harry smirked at her, watching the laughter in her eyes.

"Besides, if that's what I brought you up here for, there'd be a bed instead of a loveseat." Harry teased. Her eyebrows winged up at that, and then she got a mischievous glint in her eye.

"I'm sure we could make the loveseat live up to its name, Harry." Hermione teased back. Having no clever response to that, owing to the fact of several images that flashed into his mind at that moment, Harry swallowed heavily. Finding the collar of his dress uniform rather tight at the moment, he popped the first three buttons and took some deep breaths.

Hermione, on the other hand, was quite enjoying the slightly stunned look on Harry's face, and his sudden need for air. She watched as he walked over to the loveseat, un-buckling his sword belt, and hanging his rapier on the sword rack that appeared near the small couch.

"Let's have a seat, Mione. Like I said before, I've got some important things to tell you, and I doubt I'll be able to stand through most of it." Harry said, looking at her with a slightly panicked expression. He walked to the loveseat and dropped into it, facing the fire and looked over at her.

Hermione nodded, slightly concerned with the look on his face. Walking toward him, her matching black and silver dress made swishing noises as she moved. When she got there, Hermione kicked off her shoes and hiked up her dress so that she could sit comfortably. But instead of sitting down next to him, she surprised Harry by sitting on his lap, knees on either side of his legs so she could face him.

"Thankfully," Harry thought, "she's not sitting directly on my lap. I wouldn't be able to concentrate otherwise." Hermione took his hands in hers, and looked expectantly at him.

"You are absolutely beautiful, Hermione." Harry said, looking into her eyes.

"You didn't have to bring me here to tell me that, but thank you, and it's about time you noticed, Harry." Hermione said, a soft smile playing at her lips as she stared back into his eyes.

Harry sighed, "She doesn't know how right she is, but she's about to find out.""Yeah, it is. For a long time now, whenever I've seen you, your beauty simply floors me. And I hate myself Hermione; I hate myself for not noticing you sooner, for having been blinded for so long. Not only your beauty, which is breathtaking, but everything else about you." Harry said all this in a rush.

Hermione looked at him in confusion, "Hate yourself? What are you talking about, Harry?"

He had to tell her, he wanted her to know what she meant to him, before his courage left him. The smart ass voice in his mind snarked, "Have no problem standing up to Draco or Snivellus or fucking Dumbledore even. As Torchwood, I've stared down Death Eaters, Vampires, Lycans, Trolls, Dementors, Zombies and who knows what else, and killed them all without faltering. Looking into Hermione Jane Granger's eyes and not only telling her how beautiful she is, but why she's so beautiful and perfect, and how much of a bastard I've been to her, is absolutely terrifying." But Harry resolved to do this, he had to tell her, she had to know how much she meant to him, and how horrible he felt for taking her for granted for so long.

Harry began, "Hermione, I hate myself because I've taken your friendship for granted. I should've known better. I never had any friends before Hogwarts, and each one I've made, Hagrid, Hedwig, Ron, Neville, Fred, George, Luna, Tonks, Remus, Dobby, Winky, Crookshanks…and most especially, You, Hermione Granger. Every single one, I should have treated as a priceless treasure. I should have never ignored any of you, should never have laughed at Luna, pitied Neville or any of the other horrible things I've done to them all. Except Ron, his jealousy and just plain being a right prick is starting to make me wish I'd never been his friend." Hermione was about to speak, but the plea in his eyes must have stopped her. "Don't stop me now Mione, I won't be able to continue if you do."

"But mostly Hermione, I wish I had never taken you for granted. I wish I had never ignored you or acted like such a bastard in our first year. Even before we were friends, you only ever had my well being at heart, you only ever tried to help me, to keep me out of the trouble that I should never have gotten into in the first place. If I had, I would have actually done something when Ron said those horrible things about you; I would have punched him out for one. But I would have also followed you, tried to beat you to that bathroom if I could, and if I couldn't, I would have followed you in and tried to apologize. I still cannot believe I just went off to the damn feast, knowing how much he had upset you. If I had managed to do something, you wouldn't have almost died because of that damn troll. You would never have been in danger at all if I had tried to do anything about it before hand."

"Second year, I knew, better than anyone, who the targets for the Basilisk were. Muggleborns Hermione, and if I hadn't had my head so far up my ass, I would have known that you were the biggest target in the school; the fact that you hadn't been attacked sooner is a fucking miracle. I should never have left you alone; I should never have left you to wander the corridors by yourself. You wouldn't have gotten petrified; you wouldn't have been trapped in that Hospital wing for weeks. Even now Hermione, I can still clearly picture you there, frozen, and it breaks my heart. I wanted so much for you to come back to me, I guess then I started to realize just how much you really mean to me." Hermione could feel tears beginning to run down her face, but she didn't interrupt. Harry was grateful, the sight of Hermione crying was already making this harder, he wanted to stop and comfort her, but he had to get it all out now. He had to get this poison that had been tainting his soul out before his nerve left him.

"Third year was horrible Hermione. You were already stressed with that insane schedule and looking up defense information for Hagrid. If I had been more of a friend, I would have helped. I would have actually been a friend to you and helped you. I realize I probably couldn't have gotten you to give up the Time Turner, or at least drop a class or two and ease the strain. But I could have helped with Beaky's defense, and not abandoned you over a goddamn broomstick…" Now, Hermione did interrupt.

"But Harry, that was from Sirius…" She started, but Harry cut across her.

"I know that now, and I will always treasure it. He gave it to me before we'd even met. Well, I should say met again. I've got the pictures of when he and Remus were holding me as a baby. We didn't know each other yet, and he still gave me something I will treasure always. But Hermione, it's still just a broomstick. A bundle of twigs and a handle made of wood that someone charmed to fly. It isn't a person, Hermione, it isn't my best friend, it wasn't You." Harry said vehemently. Her tears had started again, sparkling in the firelight of the Room of Requirement, but Harry pushed on, concentrating on Hermione's eyes, losing himself in them.

"It wasn't important enough to abandon you Hermione. It wasn't important enough to add even more stress, when you were already killing yourself with the Time Turner. I may have been a thick headed git, but even I noticed what it was doing to you, even if I didn't know what it was. You were barely sleeping, you barely ate, all you did was work, and it was slowly killing you Hermione. Even now, when I remember it, all I want to do is go back to those moments and beat my younger self's head in. For daring to abandon you, for daring to leave you in that hell and not do anything about it. For daring to make it worse by siding with Ron over a bunch of sticks and wood. I realize now that you cared for me so much, that you'd sacrifice our friendship to keep me safe, to keep me alive. You cared for me so much, you did what was right and had that highly suspicious gift tested for jinxes and curses. You remembered, even when I didn't and they happened to me for God's sake; you remembered the jinxed broom from first year that almost killed me. You remembered Dobby's bludger in second year that caused me to lose all the bones in my arm. You remembered the Dementor attack earlier that third year that damn near killed me because I was on a broom. You knew that the perfect way for anyone wishing me harm was through brooms or Quidditch. How many times have I been hurt because of that game? How many times have I almost died because of a little golden ball?" Harry shook his head, he didn't want her to answer him, they both knew the answer.

"Too many times, which is one reason I gave up the game. I'll always enjoy flying, but the threat of Riddle and his minions have made me realize what's important and what isn't, and risking my neck playing a stupid game when I could be training for the upcoming fight makes no sense to me anymore. But that isn't what I wanted to talk about, I wanted to tell you how much you mean to me, and how sorry I am for taking you for granted for so long." Hermione nodded slowly, slow tears still tracking down her face.

"After I got my stupid broom back, I wanted to make up with you. I had realized by then, however faintly, that you did what you did to help me. I was this close too; I was at least talking to you again, though I probably went too fast by immediately suggesting you drop some classes. Then Ron and that accursed rat of his had to go and ruin everything, and my misguided loyalty to him kept me away. I still can't believe how much of a jackass I was, and it makes me care for you even more because, even then, you never gave up on me. And I'll never be able to thank you enough for that, for believing enough in me, for trusting that I'd eventually stop being a prat." She smiled a little at that, and it made his heart lighter.

"Fifth year, I'll get back to fourth, it's the worst one. Fifth year Hermione, after seeing Riddle rise again, watching Cedric die because I insisted he take the cup with me. A cup I never wanted in the first place. I realize now that had I made him take it alone, he probably still would have died. Wormtail wouldn't have wanted any witnesses. Anyway, that summer I felt so alone, so lost, so abandoned. I let my emotions run away with me, thinking I had been tossed aside by everyone who knew me. That sensible voice in my head, that sounds just like you by the way, was telling me that there was a perfectly logical explanation for what was going on. But my anger wouldn't listen; I really don't have any real idea where it all came from, Mione. I just felt…so…angry, all the time. Anger at everything, the whole world and everyone in it. I realize now that it was all Dumbledore's fault, but I didn't know it then. My anger made all kinds of insane notions, like how because of what I went through in the graveyard, that maybe my friends had left me…" Hermione slowly shook her head, and caressed Harry's cheek.

"Never Harry, I'll never abandon you. Never." His heart leapt, and he nodded.

"I know that Hermione, I can't thank you enough for it, and I swear to God I'll never abandon you again. I'll never think that way, ever again. Not when it comes to you. I knew it then as well, but like I said, my anger was like a demon on my shoulder, whispering in my ear. Telling me that my friends and mentors must have left me, must not trust me, must think there's something wrong with me. Otherwise, why would they keep sending back letters with no information? Why would they not tell me anything, why would I be kept in the dark? I know now the reason, as do you. The Prophecy, and Dumbledore's misguided attempts to keep me safe. Safe maybe, unless you count a pair of Dementors almost killing me and my cousin. Did I ever tell you that it was you who saved me from them? Your face was the memory that I was able to use to fight the Dementors, to summon my father to protect me."

She shook her head; he hadn't ever told her that. Harry wasn't surprised, and he told her so "I didn't really tell you much of anything that year, did I Mione? Everywhere, it seemed the walls were closing in on me, Fudge telling the world I was an attention seeking brat on the verge of a mental breakdown, that bitch Umbridge backing him up, telling the school that Riddle's return was a lie, calling me a liar to my face, preying on my already frayed nerves and fears. The school believing it, the teachers forced to keep their distance from me. Dumbledore not wanting to talk to me, Dumbledore refusing to even look me in the eye. Umbridge taking over, making it a crime to even breathe loudly, forcing me to slice my hand open night after night, all for the crime of telling the truth." Hermione's hands fisted on his shoulders, and she pulled him into a tight hug. Harry savored the feel of her, her warmth, her closeness, her desire to help him, even now, when the pain was long gone. But the scars would always remain. She pulled back, eyes rimmed in red from her tears that were still steadily making their way down her face. Harry wanted to stop then, wanted to brush her tears away, but he knew he couldn't, not yet anyway. He had to finish, had to try to explain why he did what he did that year.

"And there I was, taking it out on my best friend. You, who mean the whole world to me. I yelled at you, I accused you of things; I pushed you away when all you wanted was to help me. I've been a horrible friend, Hermione. There are days when I wake up and wonder why you haven't just given up on me, as horrible as I've been to you all these years. I don't know if I could have been as strong as you. If I'd been friends with me, and I kept getting slapped down for trying to help, I'd probably have given up by now. And yet, even when I did nothing but make your life miserable, you helped me yet again. You were the one who thought up the DA, you were the one who organized it; you were the one who convinced me to teach and then convinced others to listen. I never told you how amazing you were, never told you how much the DA meant to me, how much easier it made things, being able to fight back, being able to rebel against the regime that had taken over and terrorized the school. Never told you, My Captain, my second in command…" Hermione smiled at this, she felt a flare of pleasure at being called his second in command, the Captain of the DA to his General.

"It was my duty and honour, General." Hermione said smiling. Harry smirked, knowing that only she could call him that and not make it sound ridiculous. Only she could make it sound like something to live up to, to aspire to. Harry continued.

"Never told you, that without the DA, without you, I would have long gone insane before that year was over. With Snivellus having been sanctioned to attacking my mind every week, under the fragile excuse of "teaching" me Occlumency, it just made my frayed and frazzled nerves worse. And only the DA, and you, helped. But, even then I had to go screw everything up by letting that stupid crush on Cho get in the way of things. You even helped with that, as much as my bumbling idiocy would allow."

Hermione frowned, remembering quite well the time before Christmas when Harry had come back from the DA meeting looking shell shocked. Instantly she knew what that had to mean, and it had torn her heart, realizing that his first kiss would never be with her. Talking him through what Cho was feeling was excruciating, she remembered how her voice was clipped and business like, never betraying the pain she felt, and all the while she was bleeding inside. She also remembered quite well, later that night, after she had left to go to bed. Hermione had closed her four poster's curtains, cast a Silencio and cried herself to sleep.

Harry mentally flinched at the look on her face, knowing somehow what it must mean, and realizing he had yet something else to apologize for.

"I know that look on your face, Hermione. I hurt you, didn't I? With her?" Hermione tried to shake her head no, but she knew he wouldn't believe it. They knew each other too well for that to work, especially now. She nodded instead, and Harry swallowed heavily, a pained look crossing his face, before he continued in a strained voice.

"I am so sorry. I wish more than anything that I could take it all back. I wish I could go back to first year and start over with you. I promise to make up for it from now on." Harry continued slowly, "I really don't know what I was thinking with all of that, I can't for the life of me remember one single thing about her that we had in common but Quidditch. It was a complete disaster, from the beginning to the spectacular explosion that day in Hogsmeade. Speaking of that, there's something else about that day I want to tell you."

Harry looked deep into Hermione's eyes then. "I want to thank you, very much, for giving me the opportunity to tell the world the truth. To tell the world what had really happened, to try to get the word out that Riddle was back and was going to attack soon. It lifted a huge weight off my shoulders, and I never thanked you properly for it. I want to thank you for all the times you helped me, all the times that you stayed up late to help with homework that I should have done earlier. All those times when you broke the rules, and even laws, to help me. All the times when you put your life in danger, to help me. I want to thank you for everything, everything you've done for me. Thank you, Hermione."

"I also want to apologize for that stupid "But I don't think you're ugly" comment later that day too. While it was half true, I didn't and don't think you're ugly, I didn't tell you how pretty you were then, or how beautiful you are now. So, I'm sorry for that too." Harry finished, looking sheepishly at Hermione. She just smiled down at him, her cheeks flushed with pleasure at his words.

"It's ok Harry; I think you've more than made up for that by now." Harry gave a small smile. But, remembering the year he had left, that smile quickly evaporated.

"Now, on to the worst one, Fourth year then, and one might think that I didn't really mess up all that bad with you that year. But they'd be severely wrong. Who was the one person who stood by me? Who was the one person who stuck with me, even when the entire castle thought I was a glory seeking cheater, including Ron and his insane jealousy?"

Harry continued, softer now, his hands circling her hips, "Who was the one person, who knew, without a doubt, without ever questioning it, who knew that I hadn't put my name in the Goblet. That I hadn't wanted to be a champion. That I had never wanted to risk my life for money I didn't want or need. For a cup that I could care less about, especially now, and that I would never risk my life for glory and fame that I have never wanted? Who was the one person that should have been what I missed the most in the Second Task? Who was the one person, I need most, then and now?" Harry stopped, looking into the deep brown pools of Hermione's eyes, silently asking her to answer him.

"Me" She whispered

"You, Hermione Jane Granger, my best friend in all the world. You knew it, you knew, beyond any shadow of a doubt, that I would never have put my name in the Goblet of Fire. You knew without asking, you knew it. You were the only person in this entire school who never once asked, never once asked me how I did it. Not even Dumbledore can say that, Hermione. The first thing he said to me, when I was waiting with the other champions, was if I did it. He actually asked me Mione, he actually asked me if I had cheated and put my name in the cup. The man who supposedly cares for me so much that he kept The Prophecy from me for 14 years."

Hermione's face hardened, her eyes flashed in anger at the Headmaster. "How dare he question Harry? How dare he actually ask him if he had cheated?"

Harry's heart sang at the look on her face, that Hermione cared for him so much that she would be angry at the Headmaster for what he had done. Harry, remembering what happened next, went on, finally dropping her gaze, unable to look at her anymore, "And then the Yule Ball. I can't think about that fiasco without feeling so ashamed of myself. It wasn't then, though it was a really shitty night, but the shame didn't come to me till later."

Hermione somehow knew what he was going to say, why he felt that way. But she asked anyway, she wanted to hear the words. "Why were you ashamed Harry? What made you feel that way?" She put her hand on his cheek, lifting his head so she could see his eyes again. But Hermione wasn't prepared for the tears in them.

"I am ashamed Hermione, because I never once thought to ask you to the ball. Not once, and the fact that I completely ignored you makes me ashamed. As Ron had so eloquently pointed out that day, you were a girl. You were a girl that I could have asked. But more importantly, you were Hermione Granger. You were my best friend, the only girl I could have asked to the ball and not felt like a complete idiot with, like I did that entire night. You were the only girl I could have gone with and actually had fun with. Even though I didn't like to dance then, even if we had only danced once, just having you there beside me would have made that whole night better, that whole night would have been a good memory, instead of one that makes me want to Crucio myself."

"Instead, I spent all my time chasing after Cho, because of that damn crush I had on her. Not once seeing the beautiful young woman who was always at my side, who was always there for me, even when I repeatedly wasn't there for her. The one person…who had never once given up on me." Harry's tears started falling faster then, and again dropped his gaze once more, unable to look at Hermione anymore. He didn't deserve her, he didn't deserve her friendship, he didn't deserve her love.

Hermione desperately wanted to keep this next part to herself, but she knew that this was a time of truths, no matter how painful to either of them. "I won't lie Harry, the fact that you never thought to ask me to the ball hurt me. I knew Ron wouldn't see me that way, not unless he was slapped upside the head with it. But I never wanted him to, Harry. I had more hope for you; I knew you had more than the emotional range of a teaspoon." Hermione tried for humor, but Harry only gave a hollow laugh that ended in a sob. She forced herself to continue, "But you never did Harry, so when Viktor finally asked, I agreed to go with him. I didn't think that anyone else would want to go with me, at least not as a last resort. Not the bushy haired, buck toothed, know it all."

Harry's hands on her hips tightened, and she watched him shake his head. He spoke in a gravelly whisper, "I've never thought of you that way, Hermione. Not once since I've known you, never have I thought of you that way."

Emotion threatening to overtake her, Hermione pressed on quickly "Before I knew what was happening, I had told him yes. When inside I was screaming no. I wanted to hear you saying those words. I wanted you to see me that way, to see me as more than just your best friend. But they never came Harry. Not until this year, and not only did you say them to me, but I knew that this time, I wasn't a last resort. I've felt us getting closer, ever since the Ministry aftermath." Hermione leaned into Harry's ear and dropped her voice to a whisper. "Somehow…I knew, when I woke up and saw you looking down on me, I could feel the change in you Harry. I could see it in your eyes, those amazing emeralds looking down on me. And it grew from that moment, and afterward, when you trusted me and only me with your memories. Other than you, I'm probably the only one who knows completely what happened that night. I thank you so much Harry, for trusting me with that."

Hermione pulled back, taking his chin in her hand and raising his eyes to meet her own. She could see the tears on his face, the pain in his eyes. But she saw something else, the same thing she saw that day in the Hospital wing, when she opened her eyes and saw him above her, holding her hand, calling her back from the blackness. Love. Hermione could see it in his eyes, Harry loved her. "Finally" a voice said in her mind, "He finally feels what I've felt for so long."

Hermione whispered to him now, "As to the rest Harry, none of that really matters, not anymore. We wouldn't be where we are now if things hadn't happened the way they did. Could things have been better? I suppose, but they also could have turned out much worse. But I know you Harry; I know that until I say the words, you'll never allow yourself to do so. So…I forgive you Harry Potter, for everything."

Harry looked into her eyes, and he felt the weight, the terrible, soul crushing weight that had been steadily increasing since that first day on the Hogwarts Express, when he had agreed with Ron that she was bossy and hoped he wasn't in the same house she was, the weight that had only been added to every single time he mistreated her, every single time he ignored or took her for granted, when all she ever tried to do was help him. The horrible weight lifted, and he felt like he could fly.

"Thank you Hermione, thank you." Harry couldn't hold it back anymore; he pulled her toward him and buried his face in her neck, finally letting out the tears that he had held in for so long. He felt her arms close around him, holding him close to her, her hand running through his hair as her own tears fell.

They held each other for years; at least it felt that way to Harry. Securely wrapped in her arms, he never wanted to leave them, never wanted to let her go. He needed her so much; he wanted her so much…He loved her so much. Harry loved Hermione with everything he had in him, everything and more. And he never wanted to leave her arms again.

Finally, his tears stopped, and as much as he was against it, Harry leaned back and looked at Hermione. She was so beautiful, even with, or maybe because of, the tears on her face. The tears for him, for both of them, the tears they shared. He reached a hand up to brush them away, gently. Hermione did the same for him, brushing his tears away with her small hands. Harry was so touched, as he always was, that this woman, this perfect woman, would actually care for him so much, he felt his heart swelling with the love he felt for her. And as he looked into her eyes, he saw that same love looking back at him; he saw the same love on her face as he stroked her cheek, tenderly now, the tears long gone.

Slowly, ever so slowly, Harry brought his left hand up to her face, while his right moved down to her hip. He cupped her face in his hand, lightly stroking her cheekbone. He felt both of her hands on the back his neck, under his jaw. Slowly, ever so slowly, their faces got closer and closer, Harry's eyes falling closed, just as Hermione's did. And finally, their lips met. They kissed; and in that kiss they showed all the love they held for each other, the love they had kept hidden away for so long, they showed it now.

"She loves me," Harry thought, right before his brain locked up, and he simply lost himself in the wonderful, beautiful sensation of kissing Hermione's soft lips.

"He loves me," Hermione thought, then her brain blissfully went blank, and she lost herself completely in the love, their love.

Eventually, lack of air forced the new couple apart. A soft moan of loss from both of them issued from swollen lips. Emerald eyes met Chocolate brown, and Harry said it first.

"I love you, Hermione Jane Granger. I love you so much, and I will never stop loving you, in this life or the next." Harry said, his voice filled with emotion.

Hermione blinked back tears, the tears shed after finally hearing what she has wanted to hear for so long.

"And I love you, Harry James Potter. I love you so much, and I will never stop loving you, in this life or the next." Hermione returned his own words, filled with just the same emotion. The pure happiness that lit their faces shone like a new sun, a full moon on a crystal clear night. Their lips met again, longer this time. Both of them trying, without words, to show how much they loved each other. How much they needed each other.

Harry and Hermione stayed that way for a long time, her in his lap on the red loveseat the Room of Requirement had created for them. They talked little; lips, after all, had many more ways that they could put to better use.

Finally, they simply held each other, held on like their lives depended on it, and in some way, it did. Harry and Hermione both knew just how much the other meant to them, just how much the other was needed in their life. How empty and horrible it would be without the other. It was this thought that brought Harry back to reality; cold, terrifying reality. As Hermione snuggled closer to him, tucking her head under his chin, he had a horrible thought. Yes, he did tell her many of his secrets this night, many things he had kept locked away in a box in his heart. But there was one thing, one very important thing he hasn't told her yet. Torchwood, and this time, it wasn't fear of her feelings being hurt, or fear that she might cry and he not know what to do about it. This time, it was fear of her leaving him, fear that she would run from him, fear that she would think he was a monster, fear that she would hate him.

And it was this last thought that terrified him the most, he had finally been able to show her how much he loved her, how much he needed her. But if he told her about Torchwood, and the love she had for him was crushed, Harry knew that he would die. That there would be nothing left worth fighting for. He supposed that maybe, just maybe, the anger that Riddle had once again fucked his life up, by forcing him to become something that Hermione hated, that anger at Riddle might just be enough to keep Harry alive and fighting, but only so he could punish Riddle for destroying the last Light of his life.

And yet, Harry also knew that he couldn't keep this secret from her any longer. It had been hard enough to hide it over these last few months. Now that they were a couple? Now that Harry and Hermione had shared so much of their lives, their secrets with each other? Harry knew that if he kept it from her any longer, and she somehow found out about it on her own, that it would hurt her badly. So badly, he thought, she might never forgive him, might finally abandon him. Resigned to this truth, Harry decided to tell her everything. Starting with how his "saving people thing" began, and how it had culminated in the birth of Torchwood. Silently commanding the room to bring back the Pensive that he had once used to share the Ministry battle with her, Harry spoke.

"Mione, there's something I haven't told you yet, something that's very important. Especially now, now that we've finally gotten together. I need to show you this."

Hermione opened her eyes, she had been contentedly stroking Harry's chest, but the tone in his voice made her look at him. Harry had such fear in his eyes, he quickly tried to hide it, but she knew him too well.

"Harry, you can tell me anything. You know that, you proved it by telling me your deepest, darkest secrets." She said with a small smile, which promptly became a frown when he slowly shook his head.

"I haven't yet actually, not my deepest, darkest. That's what I need to tell you, to show you." Harry looked into her eyes with such fear, that it started spreading to her. Hermione silently wondered what it was that could inspire such fear, and prayed fervently that it wouldn't destroy the relationship that had just been created.