It was obvious, really. She would eventually end up with one of the two. Who was it going to be? She wanted to know before her feelings got the better of her. So she took the direct approach.
Hermione looked at her friends playing chess from across the room inquisitively. She had been asking herself the same question since her mother gave her ‘the talk’ a bit more than a month ago. She had turned fourteen about a week ago, and she had long ago felt feelings for one of her best friends. She didn’t know, however, which one felt feelings for her, if they had any feelings for her at all. She looked at the black-haired boy for a moment, then the redhead, before she made her decision. As unorthodox as she was for even thinking of doing this, she wasn’t going to waste a minute of what could’ve been.
Heart over mind, for the first time in her life, she stood up from her usual chair and walked toward them. As Harry saw her approach (Hermione noticed that Harry seemed to be always on edge lately, most likely because of Sirius Black having escaped Azkaban), he waved her over to take his place, likely because he was being slaughtered, as Ron’s bishop attacked his rook.
“No thanks, Harry,” Hermione nervously smiled in appreciation at him, then sat down near their table. She then breathed deeply.
“Something wrong, Hermione?” Harry asked her, concerned. “You can tell us anything, you know.”
“He’s right, Herms,” Ron said, not looking up from the chess board. He was waiting for Harry to move his queen…
Hermione gave a distinct growl at the nickname, which Ron did not hear. It was best not to start an argument now, she told herself. She mustered up all her courage as she took one more deep breath, and blurted, “Do either of you have any feelings for me?”
Harry’s eyes widened the precise moment the queen was slashed down by the bishop. Ron’s head almost dropped forward onto one of his pawn’s swords before he caught himself. They both turned as one to Hermione.
“Could you repeat that?” Ron asked louder than she wanted.
“I asked you,” she said in a soft tone, “if either of you have a more than friendly interest in me. I just want to know.”
Harry just looked at her confused. “When I said you can tell us anything…I wasn’t expecting…”
“I know,” Hermione said with a sigh, “and I wasn’t expecting myself to come over here and actually ask that question.” She straightened up and gave them an intimidating look. “I’m just asking for an answer. I’m not expecting anything from either of you, I just want to know.”
Both boys didn’t seem to know what to say. Ron seemed as if he wanted to shrink away, while Harry just looked uncomfortable.
“What about you?” Harry asked her after a pause.
“What about me?” Hermione asked quickly, wanting to get to an answer.
“You asked if either of us liked you. That means you either like one or the both of us. Do you? You can’t just be asking this randomly.”
It was Hermione’s turn to be uncomfortable. “I…” She started, “I like one of you, I think. I’m not sure if it’s a brotherly affection or something…more. That’s why I want to talk to you both, to see if I should…feel this way. If you don’t feel the same, then why should I keep wondering? You two are my best friends. You are the only boys I talk to. Eventually, I figured something was going to happen between me and one of you. I just wanted to know if I should keep thinking along those lines.”
Ron finally decided to speak. “I really don’t understand girls,” he started, “and I probably never will, but I think…you’re more like a sister to me. You annoy me as much as my brothers and Ginny, but you help me when I really need it, which is about once a day. I don’t really see me having a crush on you, because I don’t want a girlfriend to boss me around to do my homework.”
“Someone has to, or you wouldn’t be a third-year,” Hermione countered, hurt.
“Of course they do,” Ron said defensively. “And I thank you for having that job for me. I’d just rather let that person stay my friend.”
Hermione slowly nodded in understanding. “I guess I can see your point. So, you are saying that you would want to stay completely platonic.”
Ron nodded, but stopped. “That means that we stay friends, right?”
“Yes, Ron,” she said, rolling her eyes with a smile. “I’m buying you a dictionary this Christmas.”
“Oh no…” Ron muttered, before he caught himself and smiled. “No thanks Hermione, I was just pullin’ your leg. I know what paltonics mean. Listen, I gotta go…study…in the library.” Hermione heavily doubted this.
“Okay, Ron.” She waited until he was halfway out of the portrait hole before she said, “I’ll quiz you on A through D later……Ron, language!”
She turned back to Harry, who was deep in thought. It actually reminded her of herself… “Well, Harry?”
Harry looked up at her. “You don’t seem disappointed.”
Hermione tilted her head sideways. “Why would I be disappointed? I still have halfway to go.”
“But…didn’t you like Ron?”
Hermione was confused for only a second. She had realized what she told him earlier. And she just let Ron go with a smile.
“Harry; I don’t like Ron.”
Harry’s eyes only widened in understanding, before he blushed. “I…er… really thought it was Ron.”
“It would’ve never worked,” Hermione with a small blush. She hadn’t said it directly, but he seemed to be avoiding the now obvious. Hermione waited as Harry looked at her. He was still blushing, which she took as a good sign. “I…don’t really know,” Harry said honestly.
There was silence for a few seconds. “Oh.” That came out more depressing than she thought it was.
“Wait,” he stopped her as he stood. “I mean I don’t know how to do this. I know I like you, but I don’t really know in which way. You’re one of my best friends. I thought of you like a sister.”
“And I thought that you were like a brother to me,” Hermione agreed, giving a sigh of relief, “but I don’t think of a family member as cute.”
Harry turned red again. “C-cute?” he stuttered.
Hermione smiled and ducked her head. In for a penny…. “Well…I suppose you are. I suppose â€˜handsome.’ I mean, I’ve never had urges to…you know…kiss…a family member.”
Harry gulped as he looked at Hermione. He seemed to be looking at her in a new light. After a few seconds, he looked away, before he cleared his throat. “I haven’t either. But I hate the family that I know. I don’t really want to call you a sister…I guess. Because…well…I guess I shouldn’t think of a sister like…”
Hermione looked up and saw Harry eying her appreciatively. “Harry!”
He closed his eyes and diverted his face. “Sorry! I was just trying to look at you in that way!”
“Like a girl?” Hermione accused.
“No,” Harry said, turning back to her. “I know you’re a girl. I don’t call boys cute,” he stated firmly. He realized a second later what he just said and gave a nervous smile.
“You…you think I’m cute?”
Harry nodded truthfully. “I always thought you were cute. Stunning, even. But you were always like my sister before. This is…it’s new to me.”
Hermione hid her face in embarrassment; he called her stunning! “It’s new to me, too,” she muttered.
“But…” Harry started, before catching himself.
“But what?” Hermione said, lifting her head. This was it, she guessed, the moment that Harry realized she wasn’t that cute.
Harry stared to the side for a moment, before gathering his courage to look into her eyes. “How do you know if you like someone in that way? Just that? There are a lot of girls that I think are cute. And I know I’m not the only boy in this school you think is … handsome.”
“You’re the only one I really pay attention to,” she muttered, and Harry blushed, but didn’t look away. “But to answer your question…I suppose it has to do with compatibility, trust, and the potential for… well… love.”
Harry gulped. “L-love?”
Hermione involuntarily took a step back. “Well, that’s needed for a long-term relationship,” She admitted. “When you know so much about each other, and you realize you can’t live without each other, and you want to um…spend the rest of y-your life with them.”
He was silent. She decided to reiterate. “It’s for a long-term relationship,” she stressed, “and it probably won’t happen for…” She trailed off as she realized that he was deep in thought again. She waited patiently for what he had to say.
She didn’t have to wait long. His eyes shone at her with a newfound understanding. “I trust you. You know that. I’ve always trusted you. I don’t know much about compatibility, but….we get along really well. I know you well, but not as well as I’d like to. And if we did try and see what comes out of this…I’d want to go for long-term. I honestly…can’t see anything short-term in this. I’ve never had a girlfriend, and I don’t know how to love, no one’s ever loved me before. But if…if you’re willing to try. Then I am, too.”
Hermione brightened her smile. She shyly reached for Harry’s hand. “Yes,” she whispered, “I would very much like that.”
Harry felt the warm hand holding his and realized that he liked it. A lot. He smiled warmly at Hermione, who smiled back. “Where does this leave us? Do we…?”
Hermione seemed flummoxed at what to do herself. She looked around the common room, grateful that it was empty. She turned to Harry, who seemed to be thinking what she was.
“Only one thing to do,” she whispered to him. “I think we should…kiss. Do you want to?”
Harry found himself nodding. “I’ve never kissed anyone before,” he whispered, almost as if it was a shameful thing to say.
“Me neither,” Hermione confirmed, “but I’ve read up on it.”
Harry couldn’t help but smirk. “Any pointers?”
Hermione shook her head embarrassingly. That slipped out. “I can’t really tell you anything. I think I’m supposed to turn to the side or something.” She tilted her head a little, and she fluttered her eyes a little bit.
Harry knew that Hermione was a girl. He also knew that she was cute. He even admitted to her that she was stunning.
But, right now, she was absolutely beautiful. That was what compelled Harry to have some semblance of knowledge of what to do. He took a deep, shuddering breath and stepped forward, grabbing her waist with a gentle, almost feather-like touch. Even that shocked Hermione as she looked at Harry, her hand slipping out of his as she, tentatively looped her arms around his neck.
And then they kissed. Neither of them knew who started it. They didn’t know who aimed right. They didn’t even know who leant up or down, since Harry was a few inches taller. But somehow, for a scant few moments, their lips were touching, and what was once nervousness slowly melted into something that could only be described as sinking into a deeper calm.
Hermione broke the kiss. She needed a moment to collect her thoughts. Harry just held onto her, just in case his legs gave out.
“I like kissing,” He said after a pause.
Hermione came back to attention and giggled. “Sorry, just thinking. I like kissing, too.”
Harry couldn’t help but smile. “So I didn’t screw up, then?”
Hermione shook her head. “You didn’t do anything wrong. I think we did pretty good for a first. The books say that the first kiss is the worst kiss. The only way to get better is to…well…practice.”
Harry had no arguments as he did just that.
They also agreed on another saying; the direct approach was the best approach.