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Shift of Focus (Chapter 3), H/Hr, NC-17. - And you'll ask yourself
Where is my mind?
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Shift of Focus (Chapter 3), H/Hr, NC-17.


---Chapter 3

They'd been in the cabin for nearly a week before Harry let go of some of his desire to escape. He'd sat around during that week doing nothing; he and the couch were old friends by the end of the first day. For a few days, Hermione had tried to get him to talk or move around, but she'd given up after one too many of his grunts and non- answers. At first he'd tried to deny her, but he found he was tired of sitting in one position all day long. Even he could get tired of distancing himself from the rest of the world.

He finally gave in and, to have something to do as well as get her off his back, let Hermione help him learn his way around the small room. They mainly concentrated on counting steps, but he also worked on feeling his way around a little bit. It was silly really, considering how small the place was, but Harry felt it was good to have something abstract to occupy his mind. Eventually, he hoped, they'd move to the out of doors. And there was always the possibility that being able to do such things could come in handy in the future.

One morning, after his shuffling feet had gotten caught under the edge of the rug in the center of the room three times, they decided they should move it. It was a large, heavy hooked rug, and it took both of them to roll it and stow it behind the couch. When they were done, they were both dusty and sweaty and Harry felt ready for a bath. He wasn't expecting Hermione's anxiety level to shoot through the roof, though.

"What if you trip and fall into the bathtub? You could drown!" she argued, as if this was going to convince him to stay away from the bathroom. "Let's just cast cleansing charms again, Harry, please?"

"I imagine you'll know if I fall; it's not like you wouldn't be able to hear me splashing. I don't want a charm, Hermione. I want a bath!"

"Yes, but what if I couldn't get to you in time?"

"Hermione, it's not that big a room. You told me the first night it'd just take a few seconds to get to me, remember?" he said with a sigh. He could see her in his mind's eye, biting her lip and a crease between her eyebrows. It was the expression she got when she knew he was going to do something dangerous and there was nothing she could do to stop him.

"Yes, I know; I just worry," she said in a small voice, as if it pained her to admit it. He knew he was both winning and losing the argument, if it were at all possible.

"How about if you help me into the tub? Would that make you feel better?" Yes, he thought, he definitely had some kind of mental illness that caused him to speak things that were better left in the back of his mind, shoved out of sight and left undisturbed. This was the crux of his problems, the main reason he'd had for running. He wanted the one girl in all the world he knew he could never have, and he'd just invited her to see him naked.

"Oh, Harry!" she exclaimed as she smothered him with a huge hug that he tried very hard to be annoyed by, though he failed miserably. "Yes, that would make me feel much better," she said with such relief in her voice that it was impossible not to smile.

So it happened that he found himself being helped into a huge, old claw foot tub by a girl he had it bad for. The invasion of privacy wasn't as bad as he'd thought it would be. He could pretend she was looking at anything but him if he couldn't see where she was really looking. Of course, since he had fallen for her, the thought of her seeing him starkers wasn't bad. It was the fact that she seemed uncomfortable enough that he could practically hear her blushing that put him out of sorts.

With her finally safely out of the room, he tried to think of anything but Hermione as he searched for and found the soap and a washcloth. He focused instead on the wonderfully warm water he'd just lowered himself into. It was very strange to take a bath while he couldn't see anything. Every touch seemed magnified and he noticed things he'd surely felt before, but hadn't paid attention to. The warmth was very relaxing and soothing, especially to his sore knee. The coarse washcloth felt indescribably good as he washed off, and the soft lather of the soap provided an interesting contrast. The soap bubbles, as they moved from the bottom of the tub to the surface of the water, tickled against his extra-sensitive skin.

All of the 'new' sensations, combined with the knowledge that Hermione was sitting on the other side of the door brought Harry to a rather awkward state by the time he was ready to get out of the tub. He hadn't felt like wanking for a long time; it was something he just hadn't had the time or inclination to do while he was worrying about surviving day to day. He'd read somewhere, probably at Hermione's insistence, that the body would deal only with the things it was capable of. For instance, if he were sick, his body would put all its energy into recuperating, instead of arousal. So while he'd been consumed by his worries for the last months, his body had been putting energy into keeping his sanity and the like.

He didn't know what to do. No amount of trying not to think of Hermione was helping. If he were to take care of things, so to speak, she'd probably hear him. And there was the issue of cleanup, which would be very difficult, if not impossible, without his sight. But if he were to not take care of things, she'd definitely see him....

He was only making things worse.

Ron. He had to think of Ron sitting in a hospital bed, wondering what'd happened to his girlfriend and best friend. He probably thought they'd run off together; it'd be understandable, Hermione being so pretty, with her porcelain skin, and...

Or, he mused, he could sit there till the water turned cold and that would take care of all his problems.

All his problems except one: Hermione was getting worried.

"Harry, are you ok? What's taking so long?"

"Yes, Hermione, I'm fine. I'm just soaking my sore leg in the water." This bought him a few minutes in which he tried to will his unwelcome guest away, but then she started getting impatient, which caused him even more troubles.

"I'm dying to have a shower, Harry. Are you coming out of there anytime soon?"

"Yeah, I'll be out in just a few minutes," he said, trying to sound as if he weren't so horny it was hindering his ability to think.

Thoughts of Hermione, naked with sudsy water cascading down her body caused him to break out in a sweat that the cooling water couldn't touch. He had to do something, or he'd be sitting where he was all day; he cursed himself for being able to get aroused at such a crazy time. He'd just have to be really quiet, and maybe if he kept it underwater, the cleanup wouldn't be too bad.

The knowledge that he'd be wearing his balls in a bag around his neck if Hermione or Ron ever found out about his deepest, most hidden fantasies didn't faze his hard-on, much as he wished it would. He tried to keep images of her far away from his mental theater, but he was fighting a losing battle. She was his most constant friend and the woman he knew best in the world; it was natural he'd find her attractive, he tried to convince himself. It had nothing to do with her tall, slender figure, her long, curly hair, or her soft, supple skin and water rinsing all the soap away....

His determination to be quiet was immediately tested by the gasp he had to hold back when he finally wrapped his hand around his cock, and he totally forgot about cleanup. Even the familiar touch of his palm was amplified, to say the least. It was almost as if it were the first time he'd ever jerked off, the feelings were so different and new. He imagined it was someone else's hand on him. His mind supplied him with a picture of Hermione, though he wouldn't let himself admit it.

She wouldn't know what he liked, but he'd teach her. She'd always been a fast learner and she loved doing it. And this was one subject he wouldn't mind studying with her. His mind raced with the possibilities.

A great tension he'd been unaware of left his body as he repeatedly worked himself from root to tip, tip to root. It was so good to just relax, let his worries go for a few minutes, and be a normal teenage boy.

A normal teenage boy whose best friend/ object of his fantasies had just walked in on him having a quick wank. He was right in the middle of coming harder than he could remember ever coming, and didn't hear the door open.

Hermione's cry of "Oh, God, Harry!" was all it took to drag him back to earth. Through the haze of his orgasm, he heard her slam the door in her haste to get out of the room. His mind was still useless, but he could hear her muttering numerous apologies from the other room.

Once Hermione was quiet and Harry could think clearly, he wanted to die of shame. He knew Hermione had no way of knowing he'd been thinking about her, but that didn't ease the complete and abject horror he felt. He couldn't have, in his worst nightmares, thought up a more horrible scenario for his first non-solo sexual experience. He wasn't sure he'd ever be able to block out the trauma--it was fighting for top spot in his list of 'The Five Most Horrific Things That Have Ever Happened to Me'. It wasn't as bad as watching Voldemort's nasty, sub- human body stand up in that cauldron, or watching someone die, or even losing his sight, but it was pretty bad. And, he thought, he needed to revise that list; five spots weren't nearly enough for all the bad things he'd experienced even in the last year.

After reaching forward and pulling the stopper from the drain, he laid back and rested his head on the edge of the tub. The only way he knew to deal with this was to pretend it hadn't happened. Now if he could just work up the nerve to get on with pretending.

"Hermione?" he yelled before he was consciously aware he was going to do it. Stupid tongue, always speaking without consulting him first.

"Yes?" she replied in a small voice from the other side of the door.

"I'm ready to get out."

"Does that mean you want me to come in now?"

Now was a fine time for her to ask that question, he thought with a sigh as he mentally counted to ten and called out "Yes".

"I forgot to tell you where the towels were earlier, that's what I was coming in to tell you. I'm really sorry, Harry," she said from a distance he had to assume was as close as she could get to being in the room without actually being in the room. He'd never been one to blush much, but he felt that the last fifteen minutes of his life had made up for it. He'd probably worn out all the ability he had to do it and wouldn't have to worry about it ever again.

"Let's just forget that ever happened, ok? If we don't, we'll never get through whatever time we have to be here."

"Yes, you're absolutely right. But I really am sorry--"

"If you keep apologizing, how are we going to forget it? Just... let's knock before we walk in on each other in the bathroom from now on, ok? It'll be an off-limits area; we've got to be able to have some kind of privacy around here somehow."

She didn't answer but finally came into the room, and he felt a towel touch his hand that was on the edge of the bathtub. Taking it, he wiped his face and hair dry before handing it back to Hermione. His knee was starting to hurt a little and he was pretty sure he'd need both hands on the edge of the tub to push himself up.

For the first time since he'd entered the bathroom, he was glad for Hermione's presence; he slipped just as he got to his feet. Before he could fall flat on his ass though, she'd somehow gotten a good enough grip on his arm to keep him from it. She made a little wordless sound that seemed to say 'see, I told you so', but she kept it to that, apparently sensing that he was very close to his breaking point.

"You realize that probably would've happened even if I could see, right?" he asked, letting his bad mood show in his voice, and grabbing the towel from her when she handed it back to him.

Hermione didn't reply, but as he stepped out of the tub and toweled off with her hovering somewhere nearby, he was sure he could hear her sniffling as if she were crying. Immediately he felt awful for behaving the way he had, but he still felt angry at her for just walking in without knocking and blowing every shred of privacy he'd ever needed to smithereens. He didn't really know what to say to her that wouldn't hurt her feelings or embarrass them anymore, so he kept his mouth shut.

Wrapping the towel around his waist, he gestured for her to lead him into the other room, where he sat on the edge of the bed. She'd taken his clothes with her when she'd left him before so she could do cleaning charms, and he felt his jeans next to him.

"Go ahead and have your shower, Hermione."

"You'll be ok getting dressed?"

He sighed and counted to ten again. "Yes, I can dress on my own. I'm a big boy now, didn't you see?"

She immediately sniffled again; he heard her walk away, shut the bathroom door and after a moment the shower turned on.

As he flopped back on the bed, he was surrounded by Hermione's scent and, while trying to keep his body under control, decided to move to the couch. Once there and dressed, he remembered the forgotten issue of cleanup and wondered if he could spend the rest of his life hiding his face in the cushions.

---

Chapter 4

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