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Shift of Focus (Chapter 4), H/Hr, NC-17. - And you'll ask yourself
Where is my mind?
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Shift of Focus (Chapter 4), H/Hr, NC-17.


---Chapter 4

Harry spent as much of the next few days on the couch as he could, despite Hermione alternately demanding and begging he get up and do something. Even days after it'd happened, he was still smarting from the humiliation of her having walked in on him, coupled with the fact that she'd seemed disgusted by him--he could still hear the sound of the slamming door in his mind. Worst of all, he was still attracted to her. If he thought about it much, arousal would creep along his body, causing him to have to turn to the back of the couch again, where he knew she wouldn't be able to see much of him. So his head was not a fun place to be, no matter how hard he tried to push his worries away.

It was very early in the morning, probably before sunrise. He could tell by the way the breeze coming in the window had gotten slightly warmer, and the birds were starting to make racket. She was trying to be quiet, but Hermione had woken him getting up to use the bathroom; or rather the way she'd yelped when she'd stubbed her toe on something had. Harry wasn't sure, but he thought Hermione had been leaving all the lights off the past few nights. He didn't really understand this, but he thought she was trying to punish herself by pretending she couldn't see, or maybe that she was trying to find new ways to help him by experiencing blindness for herself. Either one sounded like something she'd do.

He was at the table, where he'd been sitting waiting for her to get done in the bathroom. She'd just come out, and he could hear her feet slowly shuffling along the floor as she came closer to him. She gasped and jumped when her outstretched hand found his chest. He could sense her trying to regain her balance and grabbed her hand to help. Hermione was quiet, but he knew her wheels were turning. She was trying to think of something to say that would keep him from noticing the lack of light and the fact that she was wading around in it.

"What are you doing up? I thought you were asleep."

"Ah yes," he said with a dry chuckle. "The old mother hen routine. Good choice, Hermione."

"You didn't answer my question. Why aren't you asleep?" This was the most they'd said to each other since the bathroom fiasco, and what little they'd spoken had been kept to his health and needs. He wasn't about to take chances with anything pertaining to himself; he was afraid his tongue would start running wild again.

"I was, but I had a dream and decided to get up for a while." Harry had the occasional nightmare; he knew Hermione knew about them, but he didn't know why he always avoided discussing them whenever possible. "I've slept too much lately anyway. I thought maybe we could talk, if you weren't going back to sleep, that is."

A quick breath let him know that she was surprised by his sudden desire to talk, though he decided to ignore how horribly he'd been treating her the past few days.

"Please, Hermione, I can't sleep right now. Talking might help me relax." He hoped he didn't sound like he was whining. Or begging.

A sigh let him know he'd won. Pulling on their still-connected hands, she led him to the couch where they both sat down on top of the blankets he'd been using. An uncomfortable silence fell on them, but he was determined to draw her out at least a little bit by making her start the conversation. Unfortunately, he'd forgotten how stubborn Hermione could be. After a few minutes of listening to pre-dawn bird songs, he gave up.

"So what do you think Ron is doing? Looking for us? Going crazy with worry?"

"Yes, I imagine so."

"You never did tell me what happened, you know."

"When Ron was hit with the curse?"

"Yes." He wondered if she'd be able to talk about it.

"One of the Death Eaters threw a curse my way while I was occupied by another of them. Ron saw what was happening and jumped in front of me."

"And?"

"And you know the rest." He knew he'd suddenly turned warm from ice cold, wanting to talk after so many days of quiet, but it was early in the day, so it didn't count, right? They'd go back to sleep, and when they woke, it'd be as if it'd never happened.

"You haven't told me what happened with Voldemort either, you know."

"I haven't, have I? I'm not sure I'm ready to talk about it yet."

"I understand. But when you get ready, I'm here."

"Thanks; it means a lot that you'd say that after the way I've treated you since we got here."

"That's what friends are for, isn't it?" she said in a low voice after only a moment's hesitation.

"I wouldn't really know, being the awful friend I am," he said with a mirthless laugh.

"Harry, don't do that to yourself."

"Don't do what? Speak the truth?"

"No, don't speak so badly about yourself. You've always been a good friend to me and Ron."

"Even in fifth year?"

"Well, you could've been a little bit more understanding with us. But yeah, even then."

He didn't know what to say. He didn't feel like taking the conversation any further into the horrors of his behavior back then, and he couldn't think of anything to change the subject to.

"Have... uh.... Oh, never mind," Hermione hesitantly broke the silence.

"What?" He wasn't just going to let her drop a perfectly good subject- changer.

"I just was wondering if you hadn't wondered where your glasses were."

"To be honest, it hadn't entered my mind. I've been kind of preoccupied with other things, I guess."

"Yeah, I guess it was a silly question."

"Hermione, you've never even thought of a silly question." It was a ludicrous idea. Surely she knew that.

"Ha. Right." Or maybe she didn't.

"Do you know where I'd be if you hadn't followed me out of your bedroom that morning?" She didn't answer, so he went on. "I'd still be sitting on that rug where we landed."

She laughed, but it was an unnatural sound, strained and forced.

"Why did Professor Dumbledore give you that Portkey, anyway?"

"'For our friend Justin Case'," he told her with a sigh. It was still slightly difficult to talk about Dumbledore.

Hermione laughed at this and he joined her; it was such a Dumbledore thing to say. As they quieted, Hermione took his hand, which shocked the laughter right out of him. He waited for her to speak, figuring she had some reason for such intimacy.

"Are you still angry at me, Harry?" Her voice was barely a whisper, and carried notes of worry, fear and pain with it.

"Still a bit embarrassed, but angry, no. I'm not sure I really was to start with." It was a bit of a lie, but she was worth it.

"I would never have intruded on you like that on purpose, you must know. I wouldn't dream of doing anything like that."

"I know you wouldn't, Hermione, but it's just... it was just so terribly embarrassing. I mean, imagine if I'd walked in on you...." Good Lord, he thought. Where had that thought come from, and how could he strike it from his memory forever? "Um, that is to say, imagine if I'd walked in on you and I could see you... uh, when I still had my sight."

She didn't speak for a few minutes, and Harry was rather glad. He wasn't sure he'd have been able to answer without making an even bigger fool of himself. He was already trying to think of some way to surreptitiously pull some of his discarded blanket over his lap, should the need become desperate.

"Harry, I want you to know--"

"Let's not talk about this anymore, please?"

"Just let me say this one thing while I've got the nerve worked up, ok? I know it's been bothering you, and I want you to stop trying to distance yourself from me because of it." He reluctantly nodded his assent and she continued. "That was a very beautiful thing--"

"Hermione!" he yelped, almost panicking. "Please, we... uh... I.... You think my... is beautiful?" His mind was reeling, searching for a handhold somewhere in the middle of all the madness.

"Oh good grief, Harry! Not your... that. What you were doing. Although... your... uh... you're a beautiful man, too."

He was totally astounded; Hermione had just proved her Gryffindor mettle. Unfortunately, his was currently missing in action; he had absolutely no idea what to say or how to act. He became aware of the fact that his mouth was trying to form words he didn't have.

"You don't have to say anything, Harry," she said as she released his hand and pushed his chin up to shut his mouth. "I just wanted you to know." With that she quickly kissed him on the cheek and stood up. "I'm going to sleep a bit more. Don't hesitate to wake me if you need anything."

He needed his head to stop spinning, and maybe for her to remind him how to breathe. He was a complete fool for having pushed her away the past days, sanity be damned; it wasn't like he was ever going to stop feeling the way he did about her. Not only was she a gorgeous woman, but she was an amazing person. She was a much better person than he'd ever be, that was for sure.

Adrenaline was pumping through his veins instead of blood; that was the only thing he could figure would give him the nerve to leave the safety and distance of the couch. But seconds after standing, he felt the bed against his legs and knew he had to act on his instincts, not his conscience. Kneeling down, he allowed his hands to roam and search her out. They finally found her hair, and then her back.

She was lying facing the wall; sliding his hands up towards her shoulder and gently grasping it, he turned her over to face him, half on her back, half on her right side. Tentatively, he let his hand resume its journey; from her shoulder he moved to her collarbone and over the edge of her shirt to the skin of her neck. She shivered as he touched her, and it seemed to create a tidal wave; he found himself matching it with one of his own.

When his hand made it to her chin and then her cheek, he stopped a moment to enjoy the simple sensation of touching her. He couldn't stay still for long. He wanted to explore every inch of her, and her face was an excellent place to start.

She blinked when his fingers swept against her lower eyelashes and he thought it was the single most amazing thing he'd ever felt. Her eyes were open, she was watching him. He wondered if there was light enough coming through the window for her to see him. With his first finger resting just below her eye, it left his thumb perfectly positioned by her mouth. He didn't ignore the impulse to kiss her. He could feel her breath speeding up in the seemingly endless seconds it took him to bend over and put his lips where his thumb had been.

She tasted like nothing he could find words for; sweet, silky, blissful, soft and a million other things. She was motionless other than her eyelashes batting against his fingers; she was watching him as he kissed her. She kissed him back after a moment and her lips moving beneath his were heaven, pure and simple. But there were tears running down her face onto his hand, pooling where his hand was still resting against her cheekbone. He broke the kiss; he'd known before he'd acted on the crazy impulse that she cared for someone else. He'd known, but it didn't make the pain any less potent.

He made the decision to get up, but realized he should tell her something while he was still numb with adrenalin.

"Hermione? I'm sorry I've pushed you away, but it wasn't because you walked in on me. I've been trying so hard not to want you like this." He knew it was a strange way to go about telling her how he felt, but he was tired of hiding it.

"Oh God, Harry! How long-- Why didn't you tell me?"

"I couldn't, Hermione. There was too much at stake, too many people it would hurt."

"I'm so sorry, I didn't mean to cause you so much pain," she said as she reached up to wipe tears from her cheeks, brushing his hand in the process. The slight touch brought a thrill to him he knew he'd never feel from someone else. He was quiet a few seconds, trying to figure out what to say next.

"I love you, Hermione. I know you're with Ron now, so you can forget I ever said it, if you want to. I just needed to say it once." He'd never really put his feelings into words before, but the absolute rightness of it was more than he could argue with.

"Harry...." She pushed his hands away, sat up and threw her arms around him. Her shoulders shook with the force of her sobs and he mentally hated himself for doing this to her. After a couple of minutes, she pushed away from him slightly and started running her hands across his face. "Your eyes, Harry. Your beautiful eyes...."

"It's ok, don't you know that? I can get through anything with your help. It just took me some time to figure that out. I'm so sorry, Hermione." He wasn't speaking just of his sight; it was breaking his heart to know she was taking his offered escape. He was speaking about his feelings and what he said was true--he could live with seeing her with Ron as long as he had her in his life.

"They're not green anymore, Harry. Your eyes aren't green anymore. They're the same awful blue of that damn curse." She used her thumbs to force his eyelids closed, and didn't give him time to process the fact that she was apparently familiar with the curse. With a hand on either side of his face, she drew him closer to her and kissed him. Cheeks, chin, forehead, scar, just next to his lips and, lastly, his eyelids. She rested her forehead against his, giving him time to think, which he didn't really need. "How did you think I could want to forget your love, Harry?"

He didn't know what to say, so he put his hands on either side of her face and kissed her as if his life depended upon it. And it did depend on her, he decided. He needed her more than his next breath and he wanted to show her what she meant to him. Ron might kill him for it later, but it would be worth it.

They kissed for what felt like hours to Harry. He didn't want it to end. It was the best feeling in the whole world to kiss Hermione. Nothing could ever compare, he knew. There was no way he could ever forget her lips and her tongue when they opened their mouths to each other. He'd relive the way she somehow sighed even while kissing the life out of him every day for the rest of his life. Her hands wrapped around his shoulders pulling him closer, her hair tickling his neck would sustain him. She was now burned upon his memory as surely as if he'd been branded.

---

Chapter 5

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