Dots IX
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Granger's Army
Taking a Breath
    Defining the Dots Series, Part X
    by vanillaparchment
A soft summer breeze played about in the dark, star-studded sky, dancing in the leaves of the
trees. The lake presented rippled reflections of the moon and the trees, and the banks of the lake
rang with laughter, conversation, and the occasional, fizzy explosion of yet another Weasley
firework.

Harry handed Hermione the last plate, commenting with a soft grin, “Teddy ate all of that up.”

Hermione smiled. She glanced at three-year-old Teddy, sprawled on the picnic blanket beside
her. She reached out and ruffled his brown curls.

“He's exhausted, poor thing,” she said affectionately, “He played with Victoire all afternoon.”

A comfortable silence ensued. Hermione finished storing their dishes in their picnic basket, and
Harry contented himself with gazing at her. Her loose ponytail swung back and forth on her
back as she put the basket aside.

“This picnic—it was a good idea, Hermione,” he said finally.

She looked up, and her eyes glowed appreciatively.

“I'm glad you think so,” she said softly, smiling, “It's a way of taking the time to get together.
We all need a bit of a break.”

Harry nodded in agreement.

Hermione sighed, and lay back on the blanket, looking up at the sky. The soft, silvery moonlight
danced in her eyes. Hermione seemed to be deep in thought, almost searching the sky for
something.

“What's on your mind?” Harry questioned, falling back and staring up at the sky.

A half-laugh escaped her as she shifted so that her head was nestled against the crook of his
shoulder. “That's a very dangerous question.”

He grinned, kissing her head and sliding his arm more comfortably around her.

“I can take it.”

She sighed, turning her gaze to him slightly.

“But you don't need to. Not tonight,” she murmured softly, smiling. “Tonight, I'm not going to
over-think things. It's enough to know that I love you.”

“Even with the library within your control?” Harry teased, and she closed her eyes, a slight
smirk catching the end of her lip.

“You really know how to ruin the moment.”

She yawned, stretching slightly.

“Wake me up when you want to leave.”

“I will.” Harry said quietly.
I never want to leave.

She smiled and relaxed, her breathing slowing. Moments later, Harry saw Teddy snuggle up to
Hermione's side, his small hands holding fistfuls of her blouse. He chuckled, tenderly running a
hand down Hermione's cheek and gazing at the stars.

Moments like this made life worth it, he reflected, staring at the North Star. All the trouble
they'd gone through three years ago, all of the arguments and tears and fear... it only made this
seem so much more precious. After all, the darkness of the sky only made the stars shine more
brightly.

Harry took a deep breath, and let it out.

Slowly, carefully, he reached into his pocket and pulled out a dark, velvety box that fit in his
palm.

He pushed the lid open, gazing at the diamonds set in the circlet—simple, strong, beautiful—
the only sort of ring that he could imagine Hermione wearing.

If she decides to wear it, that is.

He shut his eyes, shutting the voice out at the same time.

He knew for a fact that he could never express what he needed to in words.

He took her hand gently, easing the ring onto her finger delicately, cautiously. She continued
sleeping, though he wondered how she could, with his heart making such a terrible din inside
his chest.

As if hearing this thought, Hermione stirred slightly. She blinked and raised a hand to cover a
yawn. Her eyes settled on a ring in one heart-stopping second.

“I can take it off!” Harry blurted out hastily, “I mean, it's easy to—I understand if...”

Her eyes closed, and a hint of a smile hid at the corner of her mouth.

“Here, I'll just take it back tomorrow—“

“Harry...” she sighed sleepily, tenderly, “Leave it on, my love.”

It took his mind a few minutes to catch up to his mouth.

“What? What do you—are you serious? I mean, don't feel
obligated—“

Are you mad? A voice was railing within his somewhat paralyzed mind. Shut up or say something
fitting. She says
yes, you idiot...

“Harry.” A sleepy laugh, soft and sweet, in his ear. “Yes.”

Her lips placed a soft kiss on his jaw, before breathing a tender, “I love you,” into his ear. He
blinked, a rather ridiculous grin stretching across his face.

“I love you, too. I— I—“ his throat was rather tight and sore, and a couple tears slipped down
his cheeks. “Merlin, Hermione, I—I don't know what to say; I'm sorry, I should be — saying
something...”

“Shh…” she whispered. “We have forever to say what we need to. But for now — take a breath.
Be with me. It's enough, and it's perfect.”

He choked on a laugh, resting his cheek in her hair and closing his eyes.

“All right.”

And for the first time in his life, it was.
The End
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