Hermione leaned her head on Harry's shoulder. "I never knew you could be so romantic." Hermione was looking up at the sky again, trying to catch a glimpse of a star and missed Harry's blushing in response to her comments.
After they sat quietly on the bench for a couple of minutes Harry broke the silence. "Now, it's my turn to ask questions. What would you have done differently those years?"
October 14, 2001, later in the afternoon…
Hermione blushed at the question. She had been hoping that Harry wouldn't go back to those comments.
"Well, love," continued Harry. "What would you have done differently during fourth year? I mean, you were there for me to help me figure out the challenges for the Tri-Wizard Tournament. As opposed to some who wouldn't believe me that I had no desire to enter that competition in the first place."
Hermione sighed as she remembered how Harry truly felt betrayed by Ron during that time. "I guess," she struggled getting the words out, "I guess that I would have been more direct in letting you know that I was hoping that you would have asked me to the ball."
"Don't you mean that you wanted Ron to ask you to the ball?" questioned Harry.
Hermione slapped him on the shoulder. "At the time I was hoping that one of you would, but I figured that there was no way that the Boy Who Lived would ever be interested in me so I just assumed it would be Ron I could get to ask me." She paused and looked Harry in the eye as she remembered the time more clearly. Glaring at him added, "I'll have you know that I actually put off saying yes to Viktor several times trying to give you the opportunity to ask me and you never did. Either one of you. Do you know how that makes a girl feel? And then you go and ask Padma Patil?"
"No, I asked Pavarti, Ron went with Padma," said Harry flatly.
"It's not like it mattered, as you two were absolutely horrible to them that night!" she exclaimed. "Besides, I knew you wouldn't ask me because you were so busy fawning over Cho Chang and moping about because she was going to the ball with Cedric."
"So, because I was interested in Cho, you decided I was off limits and you were interested in Ron?" he asked trying to sort out what must have been going through her mind all those years ago.
"Well, its not like that The Chosen One showed any interest in me, did he?" she snapped. "You dated Cho in our fifth year and then moved right along to Ginny shortly after that."
"Well, in fifth year YOU were the one all upset about Ron and Lavender," replied Harry.
"No," she corrected, "That was sixth year, when you were chasing Horcruxes with Dumbledore."
"Oh yeah, that's right," admitted Harry. He looked at her more thoughtfully for a moment. "So then, what would you have done differently in fifth year?"
"I probably should have risked trying to snog you when you were all upset about being with Cho and her crying all the time," she said with a sharp tone.
"Well then, why didn't you?" he asked.
"Because," she paused again as she searched for the right words, "even after being your friend for several years, it was still kind of intimidating considering you were, you know, the Boy Who Lived and all that. You were famous from before you ever showed up at Hogwarts. I was just Hermione Granger, the bushy haired ugly bookworm who was a mud-blood and nobody liked except for two misfits who seemed to find a way to always get themselves in trouble." She was staring at her feet as she finished speaking.
Harry was shocked to hear her call herself a mud-blood. He gently lifted her chin with his finger and thumb so he could look her in the eyes again. Softly he spoke to her. "Hermione Jean Granger, there are a few things we need to get straight right now, and you better listen to me. One, I never want to hear you call yourself a mud-blood again. We both grew up in the muggle world, there is nothing to be ashamed about that. Two, I never want to hear you call yourself ugly again. You, Miss Granger, are one of the most beautiful women I have ever met. I don't think I really noticed that before the Yule Ball in fourth year, but you really are stunning. I'll tell you a little secret. When Ginny and I were dating, she would get jealous of you and how you looked. I think she was worried that I would fall for you and you would steal me away."
Harry let his words sink in before he continued. "And she was almost right, its just that the timing of everything was a little off."
Hermione laughed quietly at Harry's last comment. "Harry?" she asked tentatively, "could you do something for me?"
He noticed a slight tear in the corner of her eye and he brushed it away with his finger tip. "Anything, what would you have me do?"
"Could you just hug me?" she pleaded quietly.
Harry stood up from the bench and pulled her into his arms. He wrapped his arms around her and squeezed her tight. Hermione put her arms around his back and onto his shoulders and held on. Silently they held each other for several minutes.
As they broke apart form their hug, Harry took her left hand in his right and he started to walk around the park again with her. They continued for several minutes in silence, until Harry finally spoke up. "So, now that we're actually getting this relationship thing straightened out, I suppose that there are some practical things we need to discuss."
Hermione pulled on his hand and turned him around to face her. "And just who do you think you are being the one to get serious and practical?"
Harry chuckled at her admonishment. "I only learned from the best. After years of having you pester me about thinking things through I have finally learned something about why that might be useful."
"So you go form ogling me while I was napping earlier to getting all serious?" she mused.
Harry reached his hand behind his head and scratched himself. "That's just the thing, 'Mione," he answered thoughtfully. "I mean, I look at what lead Ginny and I to drift apart. She just wasn't dealing with life very well. She wanted to party. She wouldn't take care of herself and she just would not settle down in any way. I know I'm still young. But I look at everything that has already happened. I've killed a troll, a basilisk, and a Dark Wizard. I've died and come back to life. I survived the killing curse twice now. I won Quidditch cups at Hogwarts and even the TriWizard Tournament. What else do I need to do except shout out to someone that I'm going to Disney World? I've spent most of a year camping out and running for my life. I've worked as a an auror for nearly two years. At some point I am supposed to accept my title as Lord of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Potter. So I guess that it comes down to I've ha some fun, I've died, I've lived, and maybe it's time to take a look at things a little more seriously than I did."
"Harry James Potter," sighed Hermione, "you have always taken life seriously, ever since you heard the stories of the Boy Who Lived. No, don't you dare interrupt me on this. You have never had the chance to just live and have fun. It's about time you do that. I think the magical world owes you one big favor. And a little time off from your work of trying to keep everyone safe and happy." Hermione stated to laugh as she finished her commentary.
"And what is so funny now?" asked a puzzled Harry.
"Maybe it is time for you to go to Disney World, after all," she said as she continued to laugh.
Harry's eyes opened wide. "Well, now that you mention it, it is supposed to be a magical kingdom."
"Maybe that's not such a good idea after all," sighed Hermione. "You may be better off with a completely non magical vacation."
Harry laughed with her for a minute and then he turned serious again. "The point is Hermione," he said with a somber tone. "I'm ready to settle down. I would like a family, and while this may seem out of the blue to you, but I would like that family to start with you and me being together."