The six teens were out on the grounds practicing defensive spells. They were training near the
burned ruins of Hagrid’s hut.

An open Defense Against the Dark Arts text book was propped up on the paddock fence. Every
now and again one would run over to check an incantation or wand position.  

Harry stepped out of the group, presumably to gauge the others’ progress. After making a few
suggestions, he strolled backwards to get a better look.  

The others were so concentrated on their duels they didn’t notice his withdrawal.

He was standing under the tree by the lake when she turned around. She blinked at the distance
he had put between them and quietly excused herself from Neville.

She made her way steadily toward the lake.

He heard footfalls and turned to ward off his intruder with a glare. His eyes met hers.  His glare
softened instinctively but didn’t turn inviting. She just looked serenely back at him.  

Neither flinched from the strength of their locked gaze. Neither turned away. She continued to
make her way to him; he stood and watched her approach.

She stopped at his side beneath the tree. They both turned to stare out over the tranquil lake.
She broke the silence between them.

“We’re starting to look really good.”

“Everyone’s improving,” he agreed.

“You’re a good teacher.”

He didn’t respond, just stared out at the wind rippling the surface of the lake. After some time
passed in silence, he quietly spoke.

“When the time comes, I want to go after him alone.”

She stared at him for a moment, her expression hard.

“Don’t be an idiot.”

“I’m not—“

“Of course you’re not going to fight him alone.”

Their shouts were carried by the wind over the grounds.

Ron stopped on the stairs leading up to the castle causing the others to stop and look at what
had him transfixed. They all stood a moment and watched the pair fight.

It was an imposing sight. Harry towered over her, but she refused to back down. Even stood on
tip-toe at one point to get right in his face.

Neville nudged Ron’s shoulder and asked, “What do you reckon hers are made out of: bronze
or steel?”

Ron turned away then and laughed as he started back to the entrance hall. “Definitely steel on
that one. Better him than me at any rate.”

Both girls rolled their eyes at the analogy. “Boys,” they muttered together as they entered the
castle.

Harry pulled the ends of his hair in frustration.

“Did you really think I’d agree to this,” she asked with a skeptical arch to her brow.

They were arguing in circles. He wished he could make her see what this was doing to him. He

had
to go alone.

Please,” he pleaded. “I won’t be able to do anything if I think you’re in danger. This is about me
and him!”

“You’re being ridiculous.”

“Ridiculous, am I? You’re being unreasonable.”

“You don’t think that’s slightly hypocritical of you at the moment?”

He made a derisive snort and stalked to the shore of the lake.

“How can I let you just walk into the pit of Hell, Harry? How can you expect me to give you my
blessing,” she asked in a whisper as she stood at his side.

“This has nothing to do with you.” He turned to her, sought her eyes with his own. “This isn’t
your fight.”

“How can you say that!?”

“I can’t let you get hurt because some lunatic is out for my blood! It would kill me if I had to
watch you fall at his hands too!”

“What do you think it would do to
me if you got hurt?! If you think I wouldn’t go spare with
worry over you…To think you were hurt somewhere, bleeding...or worse...and I couldn’t get to
you? What do you think that would do to me?”

Her eyes brimming with unshed tears, she turned away from him stubbornly and headed back
to the tree.

He decided it didn’t matter if she had a point, if she had hit some nerve inside of him that made
him want to reach out to her. He had to convince her he was right, it was for her own good.

He trailed her a few steps glancing around wildly as if the trees would provide an argument she
couldn’t refute.

“There’s something bigger than either of us at work here. I have a job to do. I’ll be more likely to
get hurt if I’m distracted in a battle.” He spoke quietly chancing a glance at her back.  

“I won’t let you go alone.” Her voice was so soft he had to strain to hear it.

“Then how about a head start, at least,” he cried in desperation.  

She spun around, her hand flying out of nowhere. With a resounding smack, she slapped him.

He stepped back in shock, his eyes tearing. In the moment of silence that followed, he tenderly
grazed his fingertips to his burning cheek.

Then, just as suddenly, she threw her arms around him and hugged him tightly to her.

“Promise me you won’t leave. Promise me you won’t run off in the middle of the night.
Promise
me
,” she whispered, pleadingly into his ear.

He floundered for a moment, but tightened his hold on her when he felt her hot tears on his
neck.  

“I promise.”
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