~~How it Feels~~
~by Weaving Radiance~

~To those with thin lines between friends and soul mates~

The night was quiet—silent, even. Not a sound could be heard. No wind whistling through the leaves or branches chattering in the cold, or rain plummeting onto the tent like it was the night his best friend left.

But there was a gripping, frozen sort of chilliness that had settled itself into his bones and made him curl up in his little cot. The temperature was surely below 0˚, Harry thought, shivering under one of the thin blankets they'd found in the tent. Soon I'll have to sleep in my coat. He rolled around to face the ceiling, blinking furiously. Besides the cold, a throbbing anxiety was causing his insomnia as well. I must get to sleep, the Gryffindor demanded himself. Hermione will be counting on me tomorrow to be alert.

Speaking of whom… Just then Harry heard the rustle of the tent flap being pulled back, and Hermione climbing into the tent. He heard her footsteps on the floor as she crossed the little room towards her own cot, and the coils underneath the mattress squawk at her added weight, however slight. He made to stand up, assuming it was his turn to take watch. But before he could pull on his trainers, she spoke.

"Harry?" she whispered, and he knew from her voice that she'd been crying again.

"Yeah?" he whispered back, uneasy. How was he to help her with this sort of thing? If anything, I'll probably make her feel worse, Harry thought despondently.

There was a long pause, as if she needed to take her time and pick each word from the contents of her mind before pulling them to her mouth. And then, the words finally jumping from her mouth, quite erratically, "H—how do you s-suppose being in love feels?"

Harry's own mouth opened, and then closed. Nothing but air would come out for a few moments. What? He felt like a fish, gasping for oxygen. Only, he was gasping for words. Finally he was able to speak: "W-well I g-guess—"

Hermione interrupted him with a laugh—a thin, nervous one that sounded like it was hanging on to his ears by a thread. "That was a stupid question, wasn't it?" she asked softly.

"N-no, o-of course n-not—"

"Forget I asked it," she said shortly, and he could tell she was blushing.

"No, Hermione," Harry insisted. "You obviously were thinking about this for a while." His brow furrowed as he tried to come up with answer. For quite a while he was at a loss, unable to think of anything. All this thoughts were scrambled in his head, as if Hermione's question had driven them all into a frenzy so that he wouldn't be able to focus on one. But then Ginny popped into his consciousness. And the thought of how he felt when he was around her.

"Well, I suppose it would sort of feel… nice." Argh! No duh! he thought to himself angrily. Hopeless, hopeless, hopeless… "I-I mean… I guess… it would feel sort of… well, I guess you would feel scared. But excited, like you're going down a roller coaster." He'd only been on a roller coaster once, when Dudley insisted on going to an amusement park on his seventh birthday. Harry remembered how exhilarating it was, to finally make that horribly yet wonderfully steep drop, to see the ground rising fast towards him and the feeling as if his stomach were trying to climb up his throat.

"But there's that fire and… need, I guess," Harry continued, not wanting her to get the wrong idea, "as if you couldn't spend two seconds without that person and not feel lost. And pleasantness, too—like you just… belong. Like everything feels right."

There was a heavy, suffocating silence, in which Hermione did not respond, and Harry's last sentence hung in the air, but threatened to be tugged down by the soundlessness.

He stood up from the bed and walked around the corner towards the other Gryffindor—her silence worried him. She was sitting in her cot, knees drawn up underneath her chin, playing with the loose string on her blanket. She looked up as he approached, and smiled a sad, wet, attempt-to-reassure-him smile.

"You don't suppose it's supposed to hurt this much, do you?" she choked, looking down at her hands again. And he was filled with such a sadness for her, such a heart-wrenching sympathy. It felt as if his heart was being wrung out and the water that came out threatened to pour from his eyes.

Harry took a seat behind her and wrapped his arms around her, finding her surprisingly cold. Her sweater was soft underneath his fingers, and her hair even softer underneath his chin and beside his neck. "I think… I think the more you love someone, the more it hurts when they're gone."

And suddenly, great sobs shook her body underneath him. They were tortured, distressed sounds, and they sounded like nails on a chalkboard to Harry, added with the feeling of drowning and suffocating all at once. It wasn't often that the brunette revealed her feelings, especially towards Ron, but when she did, she definitely made them clear.

All he could do was hold onto her, rocking her gently, and whisper, "It's going to be alright, Hermione. It's all going to work out," even though he wasn't really sure. But he had to say something, right? And even if it didn't work out, he knew he would always be there for her, in one way or another. Harry couldn't actually remember ever sayinganything to her before about how much she meant to him, but now seemed like the right time to do it.

"I love you, Hermione," he whispered into her hair, holding her ever closer. He reminded himself that they were friends, and she was hurt—this was very much allowed. And besides, what he felt towards Hermione was completely different from what he felt towards Ginny. If his feelings towards Ginny were an inferno, desperate and hungry and intense and exciting, then his feelings towards Hermione were warm, like a just-started fire, pleasant and comforting. "You know I do," he added. "I promise I'll be here for you."

Eventually her crying softened and quieted until all that was left were a few sniffles. "I'm sorry, Harry," she said, half-laughing. "You have to put up with me."

Incredulous, he turned her around, so she would have no other choice but to face him. "That's mental. You can't be superwoman all the time, Hermione. I'm just glad you trust me enough to tell me all these things," he said truthfully.

She was looking straight into his eyes. Hers were wide, and a golden-brown, with thin, short lashes two shades darker than her cinnamon hair. She reached out to cup his jaw, and smiled, her now-shrunk-to-normal front-teeth more evident than ever. He leaned into her touch. Her hand was warm, despite the fact that she was cold everywhere else.

"You know, Harry," she said quietly, her thumb gently stroking the skin underneath his eyelid where his tears had been collecting, "things might have been different between us. If you hadn't fallen in love with Ginny, and I hadn't fallen in love with Ron…"

He started, his muscles tensed in surprise. What a strange thought. But he supposed she was right. Maybe, if Ginny wasn't… Ginny, and he weren't… Harry, he might have fallen in love with Hermione instead.

But he was Harry, Ginny was Ginny, Ron was Ron, and Hermione was Hermione. And so, things were as they were, and Harry was content to sit and comfort his best friend on a freezing winter night, waiting for the boy she was in love with to come back to the both of them.


A/N:

Wow, that was a shorty. Almost... drabble-y. And one of the few of my fics not inspired by music.

Just something small and sad and fluffy that I just had to put into words. HHr is definitely not my favorite pairing, mostly because RHr is utterly adorable and DHr is just fun to write, but you gotta admit they have beautiful chemistry.

I apologize to all of my wonderful and patient subscribers who are waiting for the next chapters in my other fics. First of all, I've been uber-busy with school (this is the first time I've been on my laptop all week), and second, the words just aren't coming to me. I know what I want to write, but when I try to start the words just stumble all over each other in my head and I end up with a crappy, blurry mush. So please, just hang in there with me :)

Hope you enjoyed! Favorites are incredibly appreciated, of course, but well-rounded or positive reviews will make my day! ^_^

Yours ever,
~Weaver

(P.S. I am now going to try to post biweekly updates on my profile on how things are going with my FF. Just so you guys know)