Harry confronts Cedric and his own denied feelings about Hermione
Looking up at the fourth Champion, Cedric shrugged his shoulders and waved Harry into the seat next to him. Once Harry was seated, he asked, "What can I do for you, Potter?"
Harry gave the equivalent of a mental shrug and figured that if Cedric trusted his friends to hear this conversation, why should he care. Trudging forward, he leaned over the table and whispered, "Do you know what the first task is yet?"
Cedric hesitated slightly before shaking his head in the negative.
Harry misinterpreted Cedric's hesitation for ignorance of the situation so he said, “The first task is dragons. We have to retrieve a golden egg from it. The other champions probably know so I thought that you should too.” Finished putting his conscience at ease, Harry got up from the table before Cedric could say anything and headed back over to where Hermione was waiting for him to head back up to the Gryffindor Tower to grab their books for their afternoon classes.
Defense Against the Dark Arts class was over and just as Harry was about to leave Professor Moody barked, "Potter, I want to have a quick chat with you.” Moody looked over at Hermione and said, "Head to your next class Ms. Granger, I'll send Potter along with a note."
Hermione hesitated a moment before nodding in acceptance and headed off to their next class after giving Harry a silent plea to stay alert. Neither of them were completely comfortable with Professor Moody and didn't like the thought of leaving the other alone with the man.
Harry followed the professor back to his office with a pretty good idea of what their chat was going to be about but at the same time a bit nervous. He kept his hand on his wand in his pocket while he followed his professor.
Once they were both sitting, Moody asked, “Have you figured out how you are going to get past the first task?”
Unsure of whether or not Professor Moody was offering to help him or not, Harry answered with his own question. “Are you going to talk to Cedric too?”
Harry’s question seemed to surprise Moody before he recovered; “Mr. Diggory has known about the task for a while now and I’m sure that he has worked out his plan already. I want to make sure that you are prepared as well. Someone entered your name in this tournament to discredit or kill you, perhaps both.” Moody said solemnly.
Harry was a bit angry at the implication that Cedric knew and had not planned to tell him but he would ask him about that in the near future. Changing tact, he asked, “Have you found out who put my name in the Goblet yet, sir?”
“No we haven’t but as soon as we do you can be sure that I will confront them about it. Now, what are you going to do about your dragon? What are you going to do to get past it?" Moody said in his gruff voice.
Harry paused for a moment in thought. He really didn’t want to tell Moody his plans for some reason. “Well, I’ve found a few mentions of books with spells to take on a dragon but all of them are in the restricted section so I can’t get a good look at them. Would you be able to write me a pass so I can check them out?”
Moody gazed at Harry with a look of pride and something else that Harry couldn’t identify. Without saying a word, Professor Moody pulled out a restricted section pass and signed it for Harry. “That pass is good for the whole year. That way you can look up spells to help you for all of the tasks.”
As Harry picked up the pass he said, “Thank you professor.” moving towards the exit so he could find Hermione.
Just as he reached the door, Professor Moody called out quietly, “Be sure to check out “Dancing with Dragons.” I think that you will find it a very helpful read.”
Harry finally caught up with Hermione in the Gryffindor Common room. She was sitting with Neville going over some notes from Transfiguration. He flopped down next to her on the sofa and leaned into her shoulder. “Hello Hermione, Neville. When you two are finished, would you like to go down to the Great Hall for dinner? I’m starving.”
Sure. That would be nice.” Hermione said.
“Do you mind if I change first?” Neville asked.
“Now worries, mate. I’m knackered anyway, but my pillow is kind of lumpy.” Harry said with a grin on his face as he poked Hermione in the shoulder.
“Prat.” Hermione said as she poked him back with a smile on her face. Inside she was quite pleased to have Harry leaning on her. He was getting more used to her hugs but it was still rare for him to initiate contact. It meant that he was finally getting more comfortable with giving and receiving physical contact and comfort. The fact that she was the recipient of his affections made it even better in her mind.
Hermione had always felt drawn to Harry since her first year. With each subsequent year, something happened that seemed to draw them closer. During their second year, two things really stood out in her mind.
The first thing was her accident with the Polyjuice Potion during the first term. By using cat hair by mistake, she had morphed into a half girl/half cat and it took Madam Poppy Pomfrey a couple of weeks to put her straight.
Harry visited every evening to bring her his notes and the homework for her classes. Ron did not visit very often and then it was only if Harry dragged him along. Hermione later found out that Harry had volunteered to get everything for her before Professor McGonagall could ask or assign anyone else.
What really surprised her was the depth of Harry’s notes. They were well organized and written, very different from his homework assignments that he handed in. Looking back on that fact now, Hermione could easily spot the Dursleys’ influence on Harry’s school performance.
Harry had kept underperforming in class so he would not stand out. This trait was something that Hermione was desperately trying to change. It was holding him back and that was something she could not stand.
The last few weeks had actually seen Harry slowly coming out of his Dursley imposed shell. The isolation forced upon him by being the unwilling fourth Tri-Wizard Champion actually focused Harry’s studies. He had to work hard because he was at a three-year disadvantage in his magical education compared to the other champions.
Ironically, it was also the realization that someone was out to kill him that lit a fire in him to improve and learn everything that he could. That same realization further crystallized her feelings for him.
The other second year incident, which helped clarify her feelings for Harry, was being petrified by the Basilisk. When she had awoken, Madam Poppy Pomfrey informed her that Harry visited her every day and either talked to her or just sat there and held her hand. She could not feel him holding her hand but she could hear Harry talking to her occasionally.
However, her concept of time passing was non-existent, so she had no real idea how long she had lain there, petrified. Madam Poppy Pomfrey had even told her how she had caught Harry sneaking in during the middle of the night in his invisibility cloak to sit with her. What surprised Hermione was that Madam Poppy Pomfrey had seen Harry but never said anything to him. She informed Hermione that he looked so lost and sad that she hadn’t the heart to send him away.
It was probably the first time that she had ever hugged Harry. Thinking back, she noticed that he did not flinch away from her hug; he even returned it with a hug of his own. She figured it must have been Harry’s relief at seeing her better that overcame his aversion to being touched.
Their third year was just as dangerous and thrilling as their first two at Hogwarts. The time turner was both a blessing and a curse for Hermione that year. She took too many classes but it was Dumbledore’s' suggestion that they use the time turner to save Sirius and Buckbeak that made that whole, crazy, year worth it.
Ironically, their use of the time turner allowed them to save themselves and put them at risk at the same time. Harry’s Patronus had really amazed her. Professor Lupin had taught the spell to Harry to combat the effects of the Dementors. The whole school had seen Harry’s Patronus charge down Malfoy, Crabbe, and Goyle during a Quidditch match.
However, that Patronus was nothing compared to the one that he cast to save Sirius and himself. The power and emotion behind that particular Patronus had been tremendous. It had driven off over one hundred of the Dementors. Most adults could not even cast the spell and those that could usually could not drive off more than a few at one time.
Hermione knew during her first year that Harry was going to be a very powerful wizard. The question was how powerful was he going to be if he could drive off over one hundred of the foulest creatures on Earth at the age of thirteen?
Hermione didn’t know if it was power that drew her to Harry or not. What she did know was that when she was near him she felt comforted, safe, and loved. The other thing that amazed her was how her own magic felt when she was close to Harry. It felt like it was singing in her veins when he was nearby. However, when they touched it felt like her magic roared. She had yet to discuss it with Harry to see if he experienced the same thing.
Hermione Granger realized that she was in love with Harry Potter and it thrilled and scared her at the same time. She was almost positive that he was in love with her too. With those thoughts on her mind, the rest of the day passed in a blur of sight and sound.
The morning before the first task found a lone figure and a snowy owl out by the Great Lake. The first rays of sunshine were peaking over the castle casting orange reflections of light on the surface of the lake.
Hedwig had perched herself on Harry’s shoulder and he was rubbing the nape of her neck while talking softly to her. “I’m scared Hedwig. People have died in this tournament and I’m not sure that I’m ready.” Hedwig had turned her head to get Harry to scratch a different spot, causing him to chuckle at her antics. “Thanks, Hedwig. I’m glad that I can count on you to help keep me in line. If it weren’t for Hermione, you, Sirius, Remus, Winky, Dobby, & Hermione’s parents I don’t know what I would do; probably just go crazy.”
Careful not to disturb Hedwig’s perch on his shoulder, Harry walked over and sat down on the large rock where he and Hermione sat together in early October when he found out that he was one of the Champions. Sighing at his predicament, Harry continued pouring his feelings and concerns out to his familiar. “I really want to do well in this tournament, not for myself, but for Hermione and everyone that has helped me.” Hedwig was nuzzling her head into the palm of Harry’s hand and he gave her a brief smile before he continued talking to her. “Especially Hermione.” Harry said quietly. “I don’t know what to do though. I think I’m in love with her but how do I tell her without ruining our friendship?”
Harry heard a twig snap behind him and when he turned around he saw Hermione standing there crying softly but with a large smile on her face. Concerned, Harry closed the gap between them and asked, “Are you okay, Hermione?” while pulling her into a gentle hug.
“Never better.” She mumbled into his neck. After a few seconds, she pulled back so she could look into his eyes. “I love you too, Harry.” and without another word she leaned into Harry’s embrace and kissed him.
Standing next to the lake, Harry and Hermione shared their first kiss as the sun finally rose fully above Hogwarts, bathing them both in its warmth as Hedwig watched from a branch in a nearby tree. When they finally pulled apart, they both had huge smiles on their faces. Their thoughts were both jumbled with emotions but one thing stood out above the all others, no other words were necessary. It was simply magical.
Harry didn’t even realize that he had tears flowing down his cheeks until Hermione reached up and brushed a few away with her thumb while cupping his face. “Hey, what’s wrong?”
“Nothing’s wrong, Hermione. It’s just that you are the first person that I can remember telling me that you love me. I am sure that my parents said it but I don’t remember them. Thank you. Hearing that from you means more to me than I could ever begin to explain.”
“Oh, Harry!” Hermione whispered as she pulled him into her arms and hugged him hard. “I’ve been in love with you for ages, I just didn’t put it all together until recently, but from now on I’ll make sure that you will always know that I love you.” She declared.
Hearing Hermione’s declaration of love caused him to hug her a bit tighter while thinking about how much he loved her too. While he was holding her, Harry began to feel his magic roaring through his veins like never before. The feeling was amazing and he instinctively knew that it tied into his love for Hermione.
What Harry was unaware of was that Hermione’s magic was reacting with his. She could feel the power radiating from Harry as his emotions washed through him. It was almost intoxicating and she discovered that she had never felt better. Her magic seemed to be pulsing in time with the surges from Harry.
Neither of them noticed the flare of magic around them because of the sunlight that was shining down on them from above the castle turrets. Without a conscious thought, they both pulled back enough from their embrace to share another kiss. This time however, they both felt the pulse of magic while they kissed.
“Did you feel that?” Hermione asked with a blush on her cheeks.
“Wow! I don’t know what that was but it was amazing! I have never felt my magic like that before. It felt alive, like it had finally found something that it was missing.” Harry said with a wistful expression on his face. “What did you feel?”
“It was incredible.” Hermione whispered in a reverent tone. “My magic has been reacting strongly around you for the past month or so but this felt different. I felt safe, content, and loved, almost as if I was coming home. I can still feel your magic surrounding us. I’m not sure what it is but it feels right, there is something else but I can’t seem to put it into words.” Hermione’s eyes went unfocused as Harry watched her sort through her thoughts and feelings. As she closed her eyes, a smile spread across her face and Hermione proved why she was the smartest witch of her generation. “It’s love, Harry! I can feel it if I concentrate on the magic.” She cried out as she opened her eyes to gaze at him.
Harry concentrated on the feeling of magic around them as she had done. “I can feel it too! There is something else though. It’s almost as if were connected somehow. If I focus enough, I can feel your magic mixing with mine. What does that mean though?”
They were both startled from their thoughts by two simultaneous pops as Dobby and Winky arrived. Both elves looked deliriously happy for some reason. Then without warning, they launched themselves into Harry’s legs hugging him and then just as quickly they repeated the process with Hermione. The two tiny elves were practically bouncing up and down in their excitement.
Harry asked, “What’s going on?”
“Master Harry doesn’t know?” Winky asked tentatively. Both Harry and Hermione shook their heads no, so Winky continued with a smile on her face. “You have bonded! We could feel it so we came right away to see Master Harry and Mistress Mione. Dobby was nodding his head vigorously in agreement with Winky.
“What? How?” Harry asked as he unconsciously pulled Hermione closer to him.
To Harry’s surprise it was Hermione who answered the question. “Of course!” she beamed as she figured out what had happened between them. Then as the ramifications of the bond set in, Hermione paled considerably, “Oh, Oh, Oh!”
Fearing that Hermione might start hyperventilating, Harry quickly led her back to the boulder and pulled her onto his lap while rubbing her back. After a few moments, and a glass of water for Hermione courtesy of Dobby, he asked, “Um, could you please explain the bond to me?”
She shifted in his lap so she could look into his eyes as she told him the details about the bonding. “Harry, bonded couples are really rare. Our magic is very compatible and we are now connected magically.” Fresh tears began spilling from Hermione’s eyes and she wrapped Harry into a hug as she sobbed. “Oh, Harry! I am so sorry! I didn’t mean for this to happen.”
Confused, Harry held her until her sobs stopped before he asked, “What’s so bad about this? We both love each other right?” Feeling her nod yes in his shoulder, Harry continued; “I can’t really picture anyone else in my life like this except you. You accept me for me and I love you that much more because of that. You also make me want to be a better person.”
“Oh, Harry! You don't understand, do you? We are married in the eyes of magic. This is very old magic in its purest form, and it’s permanent.”
Harry sat there completely stunned. He was married at fourteen! As he sat there, thinking things through, he concluded there really was not anyone else he could see himself with in his life. “Hermione, are you okay with this?”
She nodded yes, as she continued to cling to him tightly.
Very carefully, Harry stood Hermione up before dropping to one knee in front of her. Her eyes became as large as saucers as she realized what he was about to do. “Hermione Jean Granger, will you marry me?”
“Yes!” Hermione cried as she pulled Harry to his feet, melted into his embrace, and kissed him, pouring all of her love into the kiss.
The surge of magic from this kiss was much stronger than the last one. They discovered that they could now sense each other’s emotions easily if they concentrated on their bond.
When they finally separated from their kiss, they were both smiling with tears in their eyes. Dobby and Winky were still standing there both weeping tears of joy.
“Dobby, Winky; do you mind if we have some time alone? We’ll call you if we need something.” Harry promised the elves.
With a quick nod, both elves disappeared with a pop.
Harry held out his hand to Hermione and with a smile she slipped her hand into his and they set off for a walk around the lake. After a few minutes of companionable silence Hermione asked; “What are we going to tell my parents, Sirius, & Remus?”
“The truth.” Harry said simply. “But I think that we should tell them in person. It is going to be very hard on all of them, especially your parents. Is there a book that would help explain the bonding?”
“Of course, I can have Dobby or Winky pick up a copy of the book and we can give it to them during the holidays.”
Stopping on the far side of the lake Harry turned to Hermione and said; “I love you, Mrs. Potter.” as he leaned in and gave her a gentle kiss.
“I love you too, Mr. Potter.” Hermione said beaming back at him.
After a few moments staring into each other’s eyes Hermione said, “We had better head on up to the castle so you can grab a bite to eat before the first task.”
The newlyweds walked back up to the castle hand in hand. For once in his life, Harry felt like fate had finally favored him and he turned his head to Hermione with the biggest smile on his face that she had ever seen him wear. The warmth and love that radiated off Harry caused her to blush and smile back at him just as intensely.