'We were both young when I first saw you... I close my eyes and the flashback starts, I'm standing there... On a balcony in summer air'
- Love Story by Taylor Swift
KISS ON THE BALCONY
September 19, 1985
A skinny five-year-old boy with messy raven hair who honestly does not know his real name, sighed with sadness as he sat on the hidden corner by a beautiful balcony of the Hambleton Hall. His Aunt Petunia and his Uncle Vernon are ashamed of him, the freak, so, he was tasked to stay invisible as the Dursley family enjoyed this three-day conference his uncle was invited to attend as a representative of Grunnings. Since he's scared of the punishment that he would have to suffer should he disobey their command, he quietly stayed in his little corner with a grumbling stomach. His relatives only gave him scraps from the breakfast buffet but since a freak like him deserves only that, he gratefully accepted whatever is handed to him. Freaks cannot be choosy after all.
As his stomach grumbled in hunger, he tried to focus his mind on something else. He glanced up and looked at the clouds. Sometimes, he imagines that the clouds were shaped like animals, food, or whatever really. It's like a silly game he plays by himself. Because really, who would want to play with a freak like him?
The sky is so blue today and it's a beautiful day. The Hambleton Hall is the most beautiful place he has ever seen. He was thankful that the Dursleys didn't leave him to stay at Mrs. Figg's because the old lady had to be away on some trip. Left with no choice, the Dursleys were forced to take him on this trip. Since he's never seen another place – except for the grocery store and Privet Drive – then he considers being here, in this grand hotel in the countryside, to be the best thing that ever happened to him this year.
Being here just looking over the scenic view from the balcony, it's like Christmas came early. Here he is... All by himself, no chores from his aunt and uncle, no bullying from Dudley and his gang, and he's left alone in peace. I sure hope I could stay here always… Just me... All invisible and quiet…
Peeking from the elaborately designed holes of the marble ledge, he saw a group of children that were about his age huddled together. If only I'm not a freak, then maybe, they could play with me…
He watched as the trio of girls dressed up in fancy clothes of bright colors and a fat boy, shouting something at a little girl dressed in a beautiful blue color. This little girl, who had long curly brown hair that's even wilder than his own, is really one of the prettiest people he had ever seen. No wonder she has many friends, he thought sadly. He gasped when the little girl dressed in blue was roughly pushed by the fat boy and she ended up falling on her face. It's a good thing that the ground was covered in lush green grass because if it was made of hard stone, the pretty little girl could seriously get hurt.
"Beaver face! Beaver face!" The trio of girls and the fat boy pointed at the pretty girl as they danced around her in circles. Bullies, he thought angrily. How dare these bullies make fun of one of their friends? Aren't friends supposed to be nice to each other? Besides, why would anyone want to hurt someone as pretty as the little girl in blue? Maybe they're jealous of her clothes and how pretty she is, he thought.
When he saw the tears start to fall down the pretty girl's warm eyes that looked like Dudley's favorite chocolate, he frowned. Deciding to come and help her, or at least drive the mean children away, he stood up from his position on the balcony floor as he ran as quickly as his tiny feet could take him towards the group of bullies and the prettiest little girl he has ever seen.
Panting hard as he reached the group, he screamed as loudly and as menacingly as he could possibly muster, "Hey! Get away from her or else!"
The group of bullies looked at him. The trio of girls gave him a look of disgust and the fat boy merely raised an eyebrow before bursting out in giggles. His frowned deepened. Why couldn't they just get away from the pretty girl and leave her alone?
"Oohhh… Beaver face has a savior!" One of the mean girls said before laughing out loud.
He glanced at the pretty girl crying on the grass. Since she placed her head in between the folded arms plonked on her knees, she wiped her tears away before she looked up at him. There was a confused look on her face and something like a hopeful smile. That's a good sign, isn't it?
"Look here, skinny! We don't care who you are with your dirty rags for clothes. Just leave us here with Beaver face!" The fat bully yelled to his face. This boy is so much bigger than him, he's almost as big as Dudley. Well, it's a good thing that no other boy could be bigger than Dudley, so I'm sure I got this...
So, since he's used to getting away from Dudley's punches, he decided to take the risk. Taking a deep breath, he closed his left hand into a tight fist, and with as much strength as he could pour, he punched the fat bully straight in the face. When the fat bully fell on his bum, he noticed that the other girls ran away from them.
He ran to the pretty girl and knelt in front of her. Someone so pretty shouldn't be crying here all alone.
"Are – are you okay?" He asked nervously. What if she won't talk to a freak like me?
A pair of warm brown eyes turned to him as if gauging his sincerity. So, he gave her a shy smile. When she turned to him, with a big grin on her face, he noticed that two of her front teeth were much larger than the rest. To him, it made her look friendlier and nicer. So, he liked her front teeth. Well, he liked her very much. She's the prettiest girl he's ever seen after all!
"Thank you for helping me," she said.
"Here – er, let me help you get up," he held out a hand to her and he helped her to stand. Her hand felt good to hold since her skin is so smooth, unlike his skin that's filled with scars. Since he usually gets burns when he cooked something, his hands were rough, unlike the pretty girl's smaller hand. His cheeks flushed as he felt embarrassed about his calloused and scarred hand. Would she feel grossed out from touching me?
"I – I'll tell my mummy on you, skinny kid!" The fat bully screamed as he awkwardly stood up from his position on the grass. Giving him and the pretty girl one last glare, he too ran away. Good! You better leave this pretty girl alone, he thought.
"Hi! I'm Hermione Granger," the pretty girl dressed in the most beautiful shade of blue, grinned at him.
"Er, hello," he said shyly. I can't let her know I'm a freak!
"Thanks again for helping me," she tucked a long curly ringlet of her wild hair behind her ear.
"You're welcome," he shrugged before turning away.
"Wait!" She yelled frantically.
"Are you alright?" He immediately looked at her with worry.
"Yes, but I – I, can you stay with me for a while?" She blushed. The faint pinkish color on her cheeks made her look even prettier if that was possible.
"You want me to stay with you?" His eyes widened in surprise.
"Well yes! But it's okay if you don't want to," she kicked her fancy-looking shoes on the grass as she looked away.
"I'd love to stay with you. But I, I really must stay hidden," he muttered sadly.
"Maybe… I can hide with you? Keep you company, until my parents will come to fetch me?" She suggested. Her voice was hopeful.
"Okay!" He grinned.
"Thanks!" She said as she walked closer to him.
"Er, I hide in that balcony over there," he pointed to the place he was sitting at before he came down to drive her bullies away.
"Oh! Okay then," she shrugged. He gestured for her to follow him which got a nod in return. He started running and when he glanced at her, he grinned when she too started running now. He quickly ran up the stairs so he could watch her running with her hair flying in all directions. She really was so pretty. Maybe my mother was as pretty as her…
When she reached the top of the stairs, she breathed deeply. "You are – so – fast!" She panted and he sheepishly grinned at her. She huffed before giving him an expectant look which made him confused.
"Well?" She asked with her arms crossed.
"Well – what?"
"Can I at least know the name of my savior?" She smiled brightly.
"Oh… er, I'd rather not say." He blushed.
"Why? Don't you want to be my friend?" She looked so sad that he immediately rectified the situation.
"My relatives call me freak," he admitted as he looked to the tiled floor.
"There. I said it! I'm called freak, okay? I'm sure you don't want to be friends now," he muttered as he held back his tears.
"Don't you know your name?" She asked in a gentle voice as her hand rested on his shoulder.
"They call me 'boy' sometimes. But I'm not really sure," he sighed.
"Hmmm… Since we're friends now, and you saved me, I don't think boy suits you…" She tapped her finger to her chin. He's never seen someone his age, acting so mature. She must be really smart too.
"Whatever you say," he agreed.
"I got it! I'll call you my prince!" She clapped her hands in excitement.
"Me? A prince?" He was surprised. Princes are handsome and strong and well, normal… Surely, he's too er, freakish, to be called a prince. Especially her prince – since well, she's so pretty.
"Of course! You'll be my prince since you saved me," she said smartly.
"But that can't be it! You're so pretty and someone like you should have a better prince," he said sadly.
"You think – you think, I'm pretty?" There was a tone of surprise in her voice.
"Of course, you are! Why else would those children be mean to you if you weren't?" He insisted. Fearing that she might find him weird, he turned to his side and pretended to watch the view.
"Thank you," she said shyly. Since he could feel that she was standing close to him, he turned to face her again. His eyes widened in shock when her lips lightly touched his own. He blushed furiously and when he glanced at her, she was equally red or even more so.
"I – I'm so – sorry! I only wanted to kiss you on the cheek – and then – " She started panicking, so he shook his head to reassure her.
"Hey! It's okay… my Her – her – my princess," he said shyly. He cannot even speak her name well since it sounded so fancy.
"Okay… So, er, what do you do around here?" She gestured to the balcony.
"I sit here. Just waiting for my aunt to return here after my uncle's conference so I could go sleep on their bedroom floor," he shrugged.
"They leave you here?!" She was aghast and he nodded meekly.
"That – that's terrible!" She said sadly and she held his hand.
"I'm used to it," he remarked.
"Are you – are you hungry?" She asked gently. He was about to shake his head to mean no, but then, his stomach grumbled and he flushed with embarrassment.
"Oh my! Okay! Stay here and wait for me, okay? I'll go get you some food. I promise I'll be back!" Before he could stop her, she already headed towards the stairs. He sighed. He only hoped that she'll come back since he really enjoyed her company. If she won't return, then it's alright. At least someone whose clearly so special and so pretty talked to him at the very least…
When thirty minutes had passed, he sighed. For sure his princess would not return to him anymore. But it's okay. At least, he found someone who treated him in a friendly manner. Maybe her parents don't want her talking to a freak like me…
He closed his eyes as he decided to take a quick nap. He felt someone poking him on the back so he reluctantly opened his eyes. To his delight, his princess, the pretty girl, is back. She's carrying two paper bags.
"Hello, my prince! I'm sorry for being late – I – "
"You came back!" He exclaimed.
"Of course, I did! I promised to give you food, remember? Besides, it's my birthday – "
"Oh! Happy birthday, my princess!" He grinned.
"Sorry, I tend to ramble when I'm nervous. But, er, thank you… So, well, here you go," she handed the heavy-looking bags to him.
"There's so much food here! Do you want to join me?" He said as he checked the bags she handed to him.
"No, it's alright. I already ate. I just – well, I'm not sure how long you'll be staying here, so I brought you as much as I could carry. My parents said it's okay," she shrugged.
He started sniffing. Nobody's ever cared for him before. When he wiped a stray tear away, she sat down beside him.
"Are you okay?" Her voice is filled with worry.
"Thank you, my princess," he said sincerely.
"You're welcome… But I, well, my parents said that we're about to leave soon," she said sadly.
"I'm really happy I met you, and that you saved me," she smiled at him.
"Me too… Happy birthday again, my princess!" He smiled at her.
"Hermione! Time for us to go!" He heard a feminine voice call out.
"Coming mum!" His princess replied.
"Goodbye, my princess…"
"Goodbye, my prince. Maybe you'll find me again someday," she grinned. She's about to stand up again but then she seemed to have remembered something. She leaned closer, kissed him on the cheek which made him blush, and she left him there on the balcony giggling as she ran away. He touched the skin her lips just kissed and the cool air is lightly blowing on his hair as the sun shined brightly. He smiled. This is a surprisingly special day and this is a very special place. Plus, he met a very special person.
Wow! Someone actually kissed me! Me! A freak! He watched the direction she ran off too and he sighed. He promised that he will find her again. He will find his princess and maybe they could build a castle together... just like in those fairytales that Dudley throws away…
August 25, 2005
The new Mrs. Potter, the former Hermione Jean Granger, had a contented smile on her face as she watched the one hundred guests who attended their wedding, eating with gusto to the sumptuous dishes they served at the reception. She married her best friend, Harry James Potter, barely two hours ago, in the grand balcony of Hambleton Hall. She did not understand why but Harry only had two requests for their wedding ceremony. One, there should be strictly no press (except Luna and her father) at the wedding. Two, and to him it's the most important, that they get married on the balcony of Hambleton Hall. She may find it rather odd, that Harry wanted to get married at Hambleton Hall, but she agreed to his wishes. After all, the place is really so beautiful…
So now, here she is… Sitting beside her new husband, who's busy eating his dinner while feeding little Teddy, their godson, as well. She had a wistful smile on her face as he watched the adorable duo. Harry would be a very good father to any children they would be blessed with. She blushed at the thought of how children are brought into this world. In her five years as Harry Potter's girlfriend, he honored her decision to wait until marriage. So, she's both scared and excited for their wedding night. She would be sharing herself fully to the one man who's always got her back ever since their first year at Hogwarts.
"See something you like, Lady Potter?" Harry smirked as he looked at her after wiping Teddy's lip with a table napkin.
"I reckon that yes. I do see something I like, Lord Potter," she rolled her eyes.
"You know… You should eat some more," he leaned closer so he could whisper to her ear.
"Oh? Is that so?" She challenged with an eyebrow raised.
"You'll need all that energy… for tonight," he winked which made her blush.
"Harry!" She exclaimed and Harry chuckled.
"Oi!" Their best man, Ronald Weasley, interrupted their little moment.
"Now what is the matter, Ronald?" Harry turned to their best friend with feigned exasperation.
"It's disgusting the way you're flirting with your wife with an innocent child on your lap," Ron mockingly admonished with a dramatic shake of his head. Harry only snorted at that.
"I seem to recall, you and Pansy getting caught – " Hermione started exposing Ron's secret with a teasing voice. Their ginger best mate blushed like a tomato.
"Shut it, Hermione! You're not supposed to embarrass the best man at your wedding. It's supposed to be me, doing the embarrassing, and not you," Ron cut her off with a pout.
"Thank you for defending me from this cad, Lady Potter," Harry said dramatically.
"Honestly! Will you be calling her Lady Potter this, Mrs. Potter that, every bloody chance you get?" Ron rolled his eyes.
"Oh, shut it, Ronald! Harry's in love!" Ginny Longbottom, their Matron of Honor, hissed at her brother. She was about to thank her dear friend when Ginny turned to her with a wicked gleam in her eyes. "Oh, and Harry, you better make good use of having the Lady Potter to yourself for two weeks. Once she's back from your vacation, I'll be waiting for all the dirty little details," Ginny wiggled her eyebrows suggestively.
"Ginny Longbottom!" She was aghast.
"What? I told!" Ginny shrugged.
"Well, Luna and I didn't ask… You just kept on going on and on about that!" She retorted.
"Well – " Whatever snarky remark Ginny will surely make is interrupted when the Master of Ceremonies, Lee Jordan, called the attention of everyone present.
"I'm sure some of you are still enjoying your meals. Isn't the food bloody – "
"Mr. Jordan!" Headmistress McGonagall scolded which made the crowd snicker.
"Sorry! Sorry! Merlin! This feels like I'm still announcing Quidditch stats at Hogwarts," Lee said sheepishly which made the crowd laugh even more. "Anyway, the groom over there has a special surprise for his bride. We all know how whipped he is," Lee rolled his eyes and the crowd agreed while chuckling once again.
"Just get on with it!" The headmistress said sternly.
"Okay so yeah, let's give it up for Lord Potter!" Lee said with a sheepish grin. The crowd laughed as they clapped their hands in support of the groom.
"Harry, what is this about?" Hermione turned to her husband.
"Oh, you'll see…" Harry said playfully as he stood up while holding Teddy's hand. Harry escorted the cheerful child back to his grandmother's table before he walked to the makeshift platform.
"Hello everyone! First of all, on behalf of the Lady Potter – Merlin, I can't believe Hermione's my wife now – " At this statement from Harry, the crowd laughed and wolf-whistled. Even Hermione laughed at that. Harry is just too adorable sometimes.
"Whipped!" Ron, George, and Neville yelled out.
"As I was saying, I would like to thank everyone for coming all the way here in Oakham just so you could celebrate our wedding with us. Anyway, most of you, Hermione included, are confused as to why I wanted to have our wedding and the reception here in this beautiful countryside hotel. Because of that, I have a special memory to share that will explain my reasons…" Harry gestured to the center of the stage and to everyone's surprise, a Goblin memory box appeared in the middle. Everyone gasped.
"And before you all get worried about the Statute of Secrecy; this place is free of muggles not privy to the existence of magic. I made sure of that," he remarked with a cheeky grin and Hermione could only shake her head in exasperation.
Pointing his wand to the memory box, a scene started to play…
As Hermione watched the memory of a five-year-old Harry sitting on the same balcony she just got married in, tears fell down her cheeks. Oh, Harry! You adorable, lovable, and cheeky prat, she wiped her tears away as she watched his memories.
She absolutely cannot believe it! The little boy she met here, in Hambleton Hall, that she could barely remember when she was a little girl, had been Harry Potter all along…
The crowd cheered as they watched the little skinny kid coming to defend her younger self. They also swooned and awwed at the accidental kiss that was supposed to be bestowed on his cheek but since he turned to face her, their lips met.
When the memory ended, most of the women present wiped their tears of joy from the sheer sweetness of it all. The men stood up from their seats and they all gave Harry a salute.
"Mate! You got better game as a little boy than when you were a teenager!" Ron exclaimed and everyone laughed.
"Now it's rather clear that I wanted to get married here because, well, I first met Hermione here twenty years ago," Harry looked at her with so much love in his eyes as he slowly walked towards her.
"Hermione? I'm not sure if you remembered me but I, I always remembered this pretty little girl that I met here. Back then, I made a promise that I would find you, my princess, and maybe we could build our own castle together… So, because of that – " He removed a box from his coat's inner pocket. When he opened the box, it contained a golden key.
"Harry… You didn't…" She whispered.
"Welcome home, Lady Potter," he gestured to the grand country manor behind them.
"Oh, Harry!" She exclaimed as she stood up from her seat and wrapped her arms around his neck. He lifted her up and lightly twirled her around as the crowd cheered.
"Oh, he's so getting lucky tonight!" She heard Ginny's remark in the background but she didn't care. When Harry carefully set her back on her feet, she pulled on his tie so she could kiss him. Harry James Potter is just too sweet for his own good…
August 26, 2005
It's the crack of dawn but Harry Potter is still wide awake. He's just lying in bed and watching his beautiful wife sleeping soundly by his side. Her arms were wrapped around his waist and her face pressed against his chest. The moonlight shining from the window is making her skin glow with an ethereal beauty that he wants to commit this memory in his mind forever.
Just mere hours ago, after their reception ended, he carried her to the threshold of their new home – the castle he bought just for his princess, now turned queen. After that, they celebrated their love by fully committing themselves to each other, body and soul. So, he understands why she needed to sleep. He was rather tired himself due to the excitement of the day and their rigorous nighttime activities, but he just wants to savor the feeling of having her in his arms as his wife.
Merlin! I actually managed to fulfill my childhood dream of finding my princess. And now, she is my queen and we're off to build our life together here, in this place, where I first met her many years ago, he had a wistful smile on his face as he listened to her steady breathing.
"Harry…" She moaned his name and to his surprise, her eyes fluttered open.
"Hi," he whispered as he playfully traced a finger to her button nose.
"You should sleep," she yawned.
"Why?" Her eyebrows furrowed with worry.
"I'm just – I can't believe we're both here. We're alive and married. And I – " His voice broke. She hugged him tightly.
"I'm happy we found each other again too," she murmured against his chest. She glanced at him and then, she playfully swatted him.
"Ow! What's that for?" He pouted.
"Why didn't you tell me that we've met before?" She huffed.
"Er, I didn't remember at first. I only, well, I only remembered when I saw you walking down the stairs to the Yule Ball because your robes – "
"Were of the same color as my dress when we first met here years ago," she continued for him and he nodded.
"It seems like a miracle. Finding you here. And then meeting you again at Hogwarts… We were both young when I first saw you, it just feels so surreal" he fondly reminisced as he looked into her eyes.
"I know…" She sighed.
"I had a hard time concealing the fact that I remembered you were that pretty little girl," he said sheepishly.
"Really? I can't tell," she huffed and he pinched her nose which made her snort.
"I can't show you how much I love you before… With Voldemort and the Death Eaters, and then I thought you wanted Ron – " He burst out laughing when she snorted at that.
"Honestly! You're such a noble prat," she said grumpily.
"I only wanted to make you happy, my princess," he gently poked her nose since it's just so cute.
"You know when you first said that you loved me… In the tent, when you thought I was asleep, you called me your princess. I should have known there was something more to that endearment," she mused.
"Oh… You heard that?" He blushed. She never told him about this before.
"Yes…" She grinned.
"Is that why you didn't get together with Ron? After the war?" He asked and she nodded.
"How could I choose someone else when I knew that you were in love with me?" Her fingers traced circles on his chest which made him feel hot.
"So… it's like, you just pitied me then?" He pouted. When she shrugged, he tickled her sides which made her giggle and squirm.
"Ha – Harry! Stop!" She said in between her bouts of boisterous laughter.
"Not stopping until you tell the truth! Pitied me, eh?" He smirked as his fingers continued their playful torment.
"Okay! So, I pitied you – but you're – irresistible so it made it – easier!" Her reply was drowned out by her giggling. He stopped tickling her and he just watched her flushed face and the look of joy in her eyes. When she noticed, she turned an even deeper shade of red. It's so adorable how she's still so shy and innocent.
"Wh – What?"
"Nothing. I just love seeing you so happy," he grinned.
"I love you, Harry…" She raised a hand to play with his messy hair.
"I love you too, Lady Potter," he kissed her forehead.
"We should sleep," she murmured. He only wrapped her close to his chest and made sure that the covers would keep her warm. As she once again succumbed to the lull of sleep, he only smiled. He would forever be grateful to whatever Higher Power that sent Hermione – his princess, his queen, and his best friend – in his life…