20 September 1996, 10:40 A.M. - Potions Classroom
"Now," The Professor with a walrus moustache began, "What can you tell me about Amortentia?"
Harry did not even need to look up from the Half-Blood Prince's book to see what the whoosh! from beside him was. He just knew that it was the hand of his female best friend to answer the question. Professor Slughorn's eyes found Hermione's raised hand and gestured to her.
"Amortentia is the most powerful love potion in existence. It's considered to be a powerful and highly dangerous potion. As stated it's dangerous to underestimate a powerful infatuation. Despite its power, Amortentia doesn't create actual love; it's impossible to manufacture or imitate love. The person under the effect of the potion will only hold an obsession for the person who administered it."
"5 points to Gryffindor for a well-stated answer. While the last part is correct there is one very important fact Miss Granger missed. Can anyone tell me what that fact is?"
He looked up from the book and saw that Hermione's hand was up again even though she was the one who had missed the fact.
"Yes, Miss Granger?"
"The potion is keyed to a particular person only when they have put it in a hair belonging to them. If a person were to smell a fresh batch of Amortentia they would smell the scent which was most attractive to them. That means the scent would belong to the person who they were deeply attracted to."
"A very good answer again. Five points to Gryffindor. That is your first assignment of the day. A fresh batch of Amortentia was made by the seventh years yesterday and they are not keyed to a particular person. Today, you have to note what you smell from the potion. You have ten minutes to complete this assignment. Get going!"
Hermione and Harry walked over to a cauldron which held a batch of Amortentia while Ron and Lavender Brown went to another cauldron. Hermione brought out a piece of parchment while Harry still read the various instructions and information the Half-Blood Prince had written in his book.
"Oh for Merlin's sake, just leave the book." Hermione snapped.
Harry sighed. He really did not want to say anything that would hurt her but Hermione was constantly getting on his nerves about the damn book. It was really causing him a huge headache nowadays. He shut the book and opted not to say anything and focused on the cauldron.
Hermione pulled off the lid of the cauldron and he leaned forward of his own accord. He waited for a few seconds before the crystal-like potion seemed to pulse with magic before a bunch of smells crashed into him.
A distinct smell of lemon cake, parchment, ink and vanilla were all that he could make out. He stayed in the position for a few minutes as he tried to remember why on god's green earth was the smell so familiar. He left a strong gaze from his left and looked up to meet the dark chocolate eyes of Hermione.
As he gazed into the eyes he couldn't help but marvel how unique and beautiful Hermione looked. Her bushy hair which had reduced in volume a bit added to her uniqueness.
Beautiful? She's your best friend, Potter. She's like a sister.
He looked at her and could see a faint tint of pink on her lightly freckled cheeks. She averted her gaze abruptly which caused Harry to raise an eyebrow in question. He tapped her shoulder which caused her to turn around.
"Everything okay, 'Mione?"
If he hadn't grown up at the Dursleys where you had to observe each and everything he was sure he would have missed the darkening of her cheeks when he called her by the nickname he had christened for her in their fifth year.
"I'm okay, Harry. It's nothing."
He knew she was lying but shrugged it off because he knew that whatever it was Hermione would tell him sooner or later.
After all, what difference could it make when Voldemort was knocking down doors around Britain?
5 October 1996, 1:26 P.M. - Hogsmeade
Harry knew that he was totally and utterly screwed. It had been exactly fifteen days since the lesson with Amortentia and he had obsessed over the smell for the whole duration. He could not for the life of him figure out who the smell reminded him of.
And today, on the day of the Hogsmeade trip as he was carrying a slightly knackered Hermione against him did he realise who the scent reminded him of. He could not believe himself, after all, her favourite dessert was lemon cake and she was always buried in parchment wherever she went.
His female best friend.
The one person who always, always stayed by his side no matter what the consequences.
The girl who had given him his first hug.
The girl, for whom he would drop anything and everything if she was ever in danger.
The girl he was in love with.
The girl his other best friend had a crush on.
This conclusion he reached within ten minutes and could not believe that he had been so oblivious.
As he looked back on his memories he could remember the moments where he would ignore the ache of longing in his chest or he would relish in her touch.
He remembered, the moment in the third year, as she held onto him tightly as they rode on Buckbeak. Her touch had made his stomach flutter but he had brushed it off as queasiness from the tiring day. He remembered the feeling of awe when he saw her descend the stairs wearing that periwinkle robe of hers.
He remembered how the possessive monster within him had growled as she danced with Viktor Krum but he had forced it down, intent on letting her have a pleasant evening. He remembered how broken he had felt as he had stared at her unconscious form on the Hospital Wing bed after the fight at the Department of Mysteries.
He now most certainly knew that Hermione Granger would never be just a sister to him. She would always and forever be the girl who held his heart.
Of course, at that moment, her drunk conscience decided to ask him a question, "What ya thinking?" There was a definite slur in her voice and a slight hiccup when she spoke.
"Nothing." She separated from his embrace and tried to stand straight with her arms on her hips. It would have been scary had she not been swaying slightly. She raised an accusatory finger at him.
"Don't you lie to me, Mr Potter." She swayed a bit more but Harry caught her with a chuckle.
"Okay, Miss Granger. I'll tell you. Remember the lesson with Amortentia."
He felt Hermione nod against him.
"Well, the scent that I smelled was a familiar one. I tried to remember who it belonged to and finally, I realised who it was."
"Who - hic! - is it?"
He looked at her intently and decided to speak vaguely, "Well, you know I never thought that I loved her romantically before. I always thought of her as a friend and nothing more but I've realised that she's the only one who was made for me."
"And - hic! - why is that?"
"Well, for starters, she sees me as 'just Harry'. She would never ever leave my side even if we were to try a relationship and fail. She's beautiful beyond measure, fierce when needed and very smart. No one could ever be like her. I just know that if someone asked me if I loved her, I would say yes."
"She's a lucky, lucky lady."
Harry shook his head, "I don't think so, 'Mione. She'll constantly be in danger and I could never see her stand getting her hurt, after what I've realised and I think that I will not act on it."
He met the chocolate gaze of Hermione. She was looking at him oddly before she spoke in a soft voice, "You know what I smelled, Harry?"
"Broom polish, treacle tart and freshly mown grass. And you know who it reminded me of?"
"Who?" He was genuinely curious because if the boy was good for her, then she would be safe with him, now that he had a literal death sentence hanging over his head. He looked into her eyes again and was slightly intimidated by the intensity of her gaze even while she was drunk.
But before she could answer, a shrill scream cut through the serene mood of the village. As they rushed towards the scream, Harry could only hope one thing.
He hoped that Hermione said his name when she said who the scent reminded her of.
8 November 1996, 8:20 P.M. - Hogwarts
Harry so wanted to curse his best friend Ronald Weasley. He had no tack whatsoever. He just had to kiss Lavender in front of the whole Common Room. Which meant in front of Hermione, who had instantly dashed off.
His stomach plummeted as he concluded that Hermione had a crush on Ron but he shook the feeling off. He could not dwell on it because at least his friends would make each other happy after Voldemort and himself were in their graves.
He rounded around another corridor and he saw Hermione climbing the stairs to the Astronomy Tower. He followed her as she laid down on a blanket she conjured. Harry laid down beside her and she acknowledged his presence by tapping his left hand.
"You okay?" He asked as she looked up into the night sky. He looked at her and couldn't help but marvel at how naturally beautiful she looked under the light of the moon.
"Mmhm. I'll be fine."
She looked at him and their eyes locked.
"Do you like Ron?"
She looked at him completely baffled, "What?"
"Do you like Ron? As in, like like?"
She looked at him as if thinking if he was really asking that question. He guessed that it was obvious with the way they squabbled like a married old couple.
"What gave you that idea?"
It was Harry's turn to be completely baffled, "Hermione, you literally ran away from when Ron kissed Lavender and you fight like a married couple."
Hermione looked at him and then laughed. He couldn't help but notice that she had a beautiful laugh.
My god, I'm completely smitten.
"Harry, I don't fancy Ron. And that was not the reason I ran away."
"Then why did you?"
"Because no one would ever kiss me like Ron kissed Lavender. No one will ever see me as someone other than the bookworm of Hogwarts."
I will. You just have to say it.
Out loud he said, "Why are you saying this Hermione? You're smart and beautiful. Any guy would be lucky to have you."
Hermione let out a humourless chuckle, "Yeah. But the guy I want will never see me that way."
He crushed down the possessive monster by his need to keep Hermione safe and loved and asked, "Who is it? I'll go beat some sense into him."
Hermione shook her head, "No use. He's already in love with a girl. Probably some Ravenclaw. I don't know."
"Did you ask him that?"
Hermione nodded and switched subjects. She pointed towards the sky and said, "You know what constellation is that?"
Harry, however, did not look at the constellation. He was still looking at her. He absent-mindedly, "Nope."
"That's Canis Major. And you know which star is the most prominent in it?"
"Which one?" He still did not look at the constellation.
"Sirius. The Dogstar. I didn't have a connection with him but I still miss him you know. Not because of me because he made you happy and gave you the family you always wanted."
Harry wanted to kiss her for that statement but he didn't make a move. She liked another guy who was in love with a Ravenclaw and he was most certainly not in love with a Ravenclaw. He opted to stay silent and kept looking at her.
Soon after, she turned around and asked, "Why are you looking at me like that?"
"You remember the first Hogsmeade weekend?" His urge to keep her safe clashed with his possessive nature and the question slipped out of his mouth.
"You remember what we talked about?"
"Mmhm." He noticed that her cheeks had pinked a bit.
"Who's the boy, Hermione?"
"I don't wanna tell."
"Come on, please."
"Just tell me."
"I'll tell you who I was talking about." He offered as a trade.
He gave her the puppy-dog eyes that he had perfected. His green eyes were the perfect look for someone innocent if only his face never looked so damn guilty.
Hermione blew out a breath, dispelling a strand of her hair which had fallen over her eye, "Fine."
Harry took a deep breath and closed his eyes for a moment, unaware of the fact that Hermione was doing the same. He opened his eyes and locked eyes with her.
His breathing stopped when he heard his name slip past her lips. His possessive nature reared back and made him pounce on her. He crashed his lips onto hers with passion and love.
He held her face as their lips moulded together after a moment of hesitation on Hermione's part. Her fingers found their way to his hair and she ran them through his messy mop of hair. He slid out his tongue and licked and nibbled on her lower lip, asking for entrance. She opened her mouth and he slid his tongue into her mouth. Their tongues battled for dominance and Harry slowly won out. He explored her mouth with his tongue before the lack of oxygen made him break the kiss.
As they parted, a string of saliva connected them. He looked at Hermione who had a bright grin on her face.
"That… was amazing!"
Harry smirked, "Ravenclaw? Really?"
Hermione giggled, "What was I to understand? You said she was smart and beautiful and while I admit I am smart I don't think I'm very beautiful."
He placed his forehead on hers and said, "You are amazing, Hermione Granger. And I love you."
He could see slight tears in her eyes but he knew that they were happy tears, "And I love you too."
Harry's breath hitched a bit. No one had ever said that to him directly and he was very happy that it was Hermione who said it to him.
The girl who gave him his first hug.
The girl he loved.
And he realised this all because of a potion called Amortentia.