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Shift of Focus (Chapter 6), H/Hr, NC-17. - And you'll ask yourself
Where is my mind?
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Shift of Focus (Chapter 6), H/Hr, NC-17.


---Chapter 6

"Hermione? What did you start to say?"

"Hmm? When?" she asked sleepily from her position on his chest, where she was lazily rubbing circles with her hand.

"Right before you... uh..," he faltered again. Why was it his tongue was too eager to let loose things he wanted to hold close, yet failed him on simple words to the woman he'd just made love to?

"Right before I came?" she asked with a light giggle, raising up and leaving his chest cooling where she‘d been warm.

"It's not funny, you know," he said with a slight grimace.

"That you're so unfailingly polite, or how flustered you get when I say things you can't?"

"Yes. Anyway. What were you trying to say?"

"I figured it was obvious.” She punctuated this statement with a kiss on the end of his nose which made him feel utterly silly with happiness.

"Doesn't mean I don't want to hear it." His tone was as light as hers had been, but serious as well. Hermione went perfectly still for a moment before moving in to cup his face with one hand.

"I love you," she said in a matter-of-fact tone that managed to be soft at the same time. He'd thought it was going to take a little more work to get it out of her, though he was glad it was easy for her to say.

"Why didn't you finish it before?" he asked, truly puzzled.

"Well, I thought it might seem questionable, spoken in a moment of passion," she said as she relaxed once again with her chin on his chest.

"I think it would've been perfect."

"I just wanted to make sure you knew that I was in my right mind when I said it. I didn't want you to doubt I meant it, as I know you would."

He still thought that such an intimate moment would've been ideal for professions of love, but he understood the point she was making. They both grew quiet, though he could practically hear Hermione’s thoughts racing, leaving his in the dust. He was pretty sure he had an idea what she was thinking about.

"You know what the curse was, don't you?"

"Yes."

"Is there any kind of counter curse?"

"Not that I know of, but I might've just missed it, or forgotten it or something." He knew she'd done no such thing, but appreciated her leaving the possibility open.

"I meant what I said earlier though, you know."

"What, that you love me?"

"No. Yes. Gah, why can't I ever just say what I need to say. I meant to say, I meant it when I--" Her giggles cut him off. "You're not making this any easier, Hermione!" he said with a grin as he flipped their positions, settling on top of her comfortably.

"You're just so cute when you come unglued like that; I can't help it."

He was pretty sure he was blushing, but he went back to what he wanted to say anyway. "I meant that I can get through anything, so long as you're with me. It's true. If I never physically see another thing, I'll feel it through you." It wasn't exactly what he'd set out to say, but he figured it'd do in a pinch.

"I know, Harry," she caressed his face as she spoke. Now that that was out of the way, he returned to his own thoughts.

"What are we going to tell Ron?"

"I think it'll be pretty obvious, when he sees us." For some reason, that thought drove an icy sliver of fear through his body. It must've been obvious, because she kept speaking. "Ron's a lot more perceptive than we give him credit for; he wouldn't have made it through this quest of ours if he weren't. Plus, we've all done a lot of maturing the past few months, Ron most of all."

She was right, and Harry knew it, but he was still scared to death of the possibility of losing his best friend when everything else in his life was finally looking pretty damn good.

"Ever heard of Priori Incantatem?" he asked without conscious thought.

"Of course I have. I read everything I could find on it after the Triwizard Tournament."

"I'd forgotten I told you and Ron about that."

"You didn't, actually. Professor Dumbledore told us. Well, he said you'd witnessed Voldemort's rebirth, and later when I asked him what happened, he went into greater detail. He agreed because he said he didn't think you'd want to talk about it, but that it was important that we knew what happened to you, so we could help you cope with it."

Silently thanking his old headmaster, he considered what to say next. It was still painful to think about; he couldn't imagine how it was going to be to put it into words.

"So you know that my wand and Voldemort's were brothers?"

"Yes, feathers from Fawkes. The headmaster told us that, too."

"So when Voldemort and I cast against each other, our wands create-- created some kind of link. This link can cause one wand to, as Professor Dumbledore put it, 'regurgitate' the last spells it cast."

"Yes?" she said, letting him know she was listening.

"So... the day I killed him.... I cast Expelliarmus, just like after the Third Task. I don't even know what he cast, just that it connected. I had to concentrate really hard, but I sent the surges of power back to him. The echoes of so many people started pouring out of his wand... it was horrible. At this point, he's starting to look a little bit panicked and not paying close attention to me. That's when I cast Expedio--"

"Expedio?" Hermione interrupted. "That's a very old, powerful spell--"

"I know," he interrupted in return. "When I cast it, the echoes started to look more solid, and Voldemort started to look... even worse than he did before. It was almost like he was disintegrating right before my eyes. The link between our wands broke, and whatever the curse he'd cast was, it hit me hard, knocked me on my arse. It took my breath away, but I was still able to see the echoes going after him and keeping him from moving.

“After a few minutes, I started feeling worse and worse, and the echoes were tormenting Voldemort, and then it was like they started noticing me. Several of them turned away from him and came to me. I wasn't afraid at first, until they started to move straight through me. When they did, they disappeared, and I... I felt better... healed. I was able to get up then, and when I did, the remaining echoes parted and left me a direct path to hit Voldemort with Reducto; he was almost just a husk of a body by then."

"Wow... Harry, that's.... I don't know what that is, but I'm so proud of you."

"Proud of me?" he asked in disgust, pushing himself off of her warm body and settling on the edge of the bed instead of the pacing he didn't trust himself to do. "Didn't you hear what I said? Those echoes--those people gave me their life-force. Voldemort was using it to keep himself alive, and I took it away from him and saved myself with it. I'm no better than he is." He was trying hard not to cry, but when she hugged him from his left side, the tears fell anyway.

"Did you never learn any Latin at all, Harry?" Hermione asked in a gentler tone than she'd have used before when asking that type of question. She continued without an answer. "Expedio means 'set free', and that's exactly what you did for those people. You set their spirits free, and they were able to help you. They made a choice to give you some of their energy to keep you alive, but they were still set free. They've moved on now, to where they're supposed to be."

Her words were balm to his aching heart. He didn't even try to stop crying, he just let it go and hugged Hermione closer to him. He cried with more abandon than he could remember crying in his entire life. Hermione held him tighter every time he sobbed until she was crushing him to the point that it almost hurt.

He felt like every tear was taking some kind of horror, poison, or evil out of his body. He felt cleansed the more he cried; cleansed in a way he knew water and soap would never touch and cleansed in a way he hadn't known he needed. He was washing his life clean of Voldemort's influence.

After a few minutes, he settled down enough that they could talk.

"All that's in the past now, Harry," Hermione whispered without loosening her hold on him. "I don't know about you, but I'm ready for the future."

"A few days ago, I'd have felt differently, but I am too. I was so lost when I thought I was going to have to try to survive watching you and Ron make a life together."

"Oh, Harry, I'm so sorry. I wish--"

"No need for wishing, they've all come true," he said as he embraced her almost as tightly as she held him.

"I had no idea you were such a sap," Hermione said with a giggle. Harry decided then and there he didn't want to live another single day of his life without hearing that at least once.

"Yeah, well, you bring out the best in me, what can I say?" he said as he moved to kiss her, missing most of her mouth, though the corner was almost as good as the entire thing.

"Well, I'm glad that feeling is mutual," she said as she maneuvered him to meet her lips.

"That you bring out the best in me?" he broke the kiss to ask.

"Well, I really meant that you bring out the best in me, as well, but I do think I bring out the best in you, too. Or I hope I do, anyway."

"Trust me, you do." He leant forward for another kiss, and felt her mouth curved up into a smile. It coaxed an answering smile out of him, and he felt more happiness than he thought possible, especially after crying as hard as he had.

"I didn't mean for us to get so... you know, carried away, when I kissed you the first time. Just so you know."

"I know," she answered. "I didn't mean for it to happen either, but I'm glad it did. I wouldn't trade tonight for a million nights of responsible behavior."

"Neither would I," he answered as he kissed her yet again. After a long, slow, lingering kiss, Hermione sat back slightly and tugged him with her.

"Let's sleep some more, Harry. Today's the first day of the future, and we need to be well-rested for it."

"Now who's being sappy?" he asked with a huge grin as he settled down beside her in the bed.

---

The End.




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