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Story Notes:

Originally Published: February 14, 2008

It's peaceful here, which is surprising considering the loud party happening not far away. If Hermione really strains to hear, there's an echo of laughter and conversation. The quiet is a welcome relief, though, so she doesn't try to listen to the noise from Arthur and Molly's anniversary celebration. Instead, she looks out at the field and watches the sky.

The sound of a twig snapping interrupts her solitude. She doesn't look behind her because she knows who it is even before he speaks. Anyone else, and she'd have had her wand in hand and turned around ready to defend herself. But it's not anyone else, it's him, and she's been able to sense him since she was twelve and didn't even understand such things.

"Sorry," Harry murmurs behind her, apologizing for disturbing her or for disappearing at the party or any number of things he's decided he should be sorry for at the moment. There are times when she wishes he wasn't so keen to take on the world's problems as if they were his own or assign guilt to himself when it's not justified. However, it's part of what makes him Harry, so she accepts it even if it sometimes confuses her.

She turns her head slightly, not yet looking back at him because her mood is odd at the moment and she's not entirely sure what he might see in her face. "What for?"

He sighs before she hears him step closer. "You always ask that."

"And you always answer with that statement."

"Not always. Sometimes I know what to say."

At that, she smiles slightly and looks back at the sky. "You usually know what to say Harry, even if you don't realize it."

"Do not," he denies quietly. He's stopped walking now, and she can feel him standing behind her.

She bites her lip when she thinks she feels his fingers brush against the nape of her neck, despite knowing she's just imagining things. Regardless of everything they've been through, of the times they helped each other heal after her failed relationship with Ron and then his with Ginny, of the years they've been best friends and the years she's realized she wants more, he's never crossed a line. She hasn't either. While she and Ron managed to salvage their friendship, Harry and Ginny hadn't been as fortunate, and the thought of not having Harry in her life scares her too much to take a chance.

"Like it better when your hair's down."

The words are unexpected. So much so that she has to turned her head to look at him. There's a look on his face that isn't familiar, and it scares her at the same time it excites her. She can't look away from his eyes, even when he raises his arm and hesitantly pulls out the pins keeping her hair up. He's biting his lip and looks scared but intense and it's all she can do to remember how to breathe right now. Her hair falls down around her shoulders and back, but he doesn't drop his hand.

"Harry?" she finally manages to whisper, wondering where that husky voice came from before realizing it's her. Her cheeks flush and her heart races as he moves his fingers into her hair in a way that is intimate and not at all platonic.

"Hermione," he replies back, lips quirking slightly as he continues staring at her. The smile fades as he looks at her and slowly lowers his head. His next words are a whisper against her lips. "Tell me to stop."

Instead of obeying, she presses her lips forward, shyly brushing against his as she keeps her eyes open in case he pushes her away. He growls softly, a sound she's never heard before that sends heat throughout her body, and then he pulls her against him and deepens the kiss. Finally, she closes her eyes after making sure she's not imagining this and that he won't disappear. She moves her fingers into his hair and holds his shoulder as she presses closer.