Author: Debbie
Rating: NC-17
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended
Summary: Harry is in need of a comfort only Hermione can provide.
Distribution: Ask first, please.
Author's Note: Right, so, I was moaning to Liss about how I wanted to do some writing, but was growing too sleepy, and suddenly I found myself being challenged to write more H/Hr smut for her. After quickly hashing out an idea, she set me to work, and two hours later I had five pages of Plot? What Plot? post-Hogwarts H/Hr fic for your perusal.

Since we initially could not decide if Harry should comfort Hermione or the other way around, we decided to each take a turn. Be sure to read Liss' companion piece Need.


She looked up from her desk at the sound of the familiar voice.  Harry's head was visible in the fireplace which warmed her office.  "Harry!" she responded, a smile crossing her face as it always did when her best friend appeared.  "What's up?"

Harry did not smile in return, and Hermione instantly noticed that he looked tightly wound, as if he was using everything he had to hold himself together.  "Could you-"  He paused to clear his throat.  "Could you come over for a bit?  I could use some company."

Hermione was already stacking papers and shoving them into her desk drawers, which she charmed shut.  "I'll be there before you can say 'Expelliarmus'," she assured him.  

Relief softened his features as he watched her prepare to leave.  "Thanks, Mione.  See you in a minute then."  And with a *pop*, his head disappeared from the flames.

She pulled her cloak from its peg and left her office, telling her secretary on the way out that she wouldn't be back until morning.  Once away from the building's security wards, she prepared to Apparate to Harry's neighbourhood.  It had been awhile, she mused.  Oh, they'd had dinner together only a few nights ago, but that was different.  That was just their usual friendship.  But on a night like tonight, with one of them in need … she knew the other side of their relationship would come out, the side neither of them had ever revealed to anyone.  It might happen right away or it might not be until much later, after he'd talked out whatever was bothering him.  But she knew they would end up in bed - a private ritual they'd had for several years, a means of providing a comfort no one else could.

It had begun the night when the eldest and youngest Weasleys had all died in a massive Death Eater attack, the result of the clan's well-known acceptance of and, in Arthur's case, fascination with, all things Muggle.  Ostensibly, all the Weasleys had been targeted, but as the focus of destruction was the Burrow, only the current occupants had died: Molly, Arthur, Fred, George, Ron and Ginny.  The three eldest boys were left to bury them, with Harry and Hermione in stiff, disbelieving attendance.

That night, however, the dam had broken.  They had gone quietly back to Hermione's flat for some tea, and ended up collapsed in each other's arms on the sofa, tears soaking their black clothing.  An overpowering need to comfort each other rose up from their despair, each brushing away the tears of the other, which lead to kissing the tears away, pushing wild hair back from damp faces, and finally kissing in earnest.  But it wasn't enough - they both needed more - more comfort, more contact, more feeling to make up for the emptiness Ron had left behind.  They neither spoke nor hurried, but moved slowly, painfully, gratefully, toward the inevitable conclusion.  Hands on skin, lips on lips, legs tangling together - and when he finally entered her, it was only then that they felt a true comfort, a healing and completion that only the other could give.

They had never really spoken of that night, except to acknowledge briefly that it had happened.  It was almost a sacred thing, something they had both desperately needed, while at the same time asserting they were happy with their friendship as it was.  But two months later, when Hermione had been passed over for a promotion at her former job, she had come to Harry to drown her sorrows in herb tea and his gentle hugs.  It was only natural that she should seek comfort with her best friend, and while she had not anticipated anything else, neither did she question it when it became clear they would end up in bed again.

In the months and years that followed, it became their pattern.  In good times, they were ordinary friends, as close as two people could be, but not physically involved beyond casual, platonic touches.  In times of stress, however, they came to embrace the physical, acknowledging that they found a special healing in such an intimate act with the one they loved most.  By tacit agreement, they knew that if either one of them were dating someone, they would use words, rather than skin, to soothe; however, it was rare that such a case arose.  They both felt perfectly happy remaining single.

All these thoughts flitted through Hermione's mind as she walked from her usual Apparation point - a nearby alley - to Harry's well-warded flat.  She knocked on the door in her usual pattern - not something she ever consciously did, but Harry swore she knocked in a distinctive rhythm - and within seconds she was standing in his lounge.

He looked like he hadn't slept in days; his hair was even wilder than usual, shadows ringed his eyes, and he swayed slightly as he moved to help her out of her cloak.  She batted him away gently with one hand.

"There's a time for chivalry, and this isn't it," she chided, as she hung up the garment on a hook by the door.  Then she turned and took him in her arms.  "So, tell me everything."

"I can't figure it out, Mione," came the muffled voice against her hair.  "We've been trying to find the solution at work for weeks, and always end up hitting a brick wall."  He pushed his face further into the crook of her neck, as if he could hide from all his troubles by doing so.  "We lost another team member late last night - ambush.  My crew is getting desperate - everyone's coming to me with their fears, and to rehash all the plans, new and old, and I just can't take it anymore."  His voice cracked.  "I don't know what to do - and since I'm the team leader, I have no one to lean on, myself.  I'm it."  

Hermione stroked the messy black hair with one hand, and soothingly rubbed his neck with her other as she spoke.  "You've got me, though, remember?  I'm not on your team, but I can listen to your worries and not think any less of you for it."  

"I know," came the reply.  She heard him draw a breath.  "That's why I asked you over."  He pulled away from her slightly and turned to look at the kitchen.  "It occurs to me that it's rather cold out there tonight, and I didn't even offer you any tea before coming to fall apart on your shoulder."

"I don't need any tea, Harry," she told him.  "I'm here for you, not tea."  She put a hand to his cheek, rubbing her thumb lightly along his jaw.  "Do you want to talk?  Or do you need something else first?"

He brought up a hand to cover hers, and closed his eyes briefly, taking another deep breath.  Then he blew it out, opened his eyes and whispered, "I need you."

"I'm right here," she whispered back, leaning in to capture his mouth in a kiss.

Harry's response was to groan low in his throat as he parted his lips to allow her entrance.  His hand moved to cup her neck and pull her closer while she explored every familiar curve and line of his mouth, the ridges of his teeth, the smooth lips.  She knew him so well by now, but with each crisis often months apart, she relished the chance to get to know him anew each time they did this.

She continued to kiss him as her hands worked the buttons on his shirt, opening the collar first and moving to kiss him along his jaw and suck on his pulse point before moving up to his ear.  A gasp escaped him as she licked along the rim of the delicate shell, which was quickly blurred into a low moan of her own as she felt him fasten his own lips on her exposed neck.

She struggled to focus on the tiny buttons, caught in the rising heat brought on by both the feel of Harry under her tongue, and the feelings he was provoking through his own actions; finally, however, his shirt hung open, exposing a narrow column of skin to the firelight.

The fire….

Hermione stepped away from Harry briefly, looking around until she spotted the quilt he usually had draped over the back of the sofa.  Harry looked at her questioningly as she snagged it from its place.

"It's so nice by the fire tonight," she told him quietly, as she spread the quilt over the floor, "that I thought we might stay here rather than move to your bedroom."  

He only nodded, already pulling her toward him again, his hands tugging her blouse out of her waistband.  She brushed her fingers through his hair and kissed him gently as he undid the top buttons, breaking the kiss only when he chose to pull the garment over her head, not bothering to unbutton it the rest of the way.  He gathered her close, then, reaching around to unhook her bra in a practiced gesture, while she kissed her way down the column of his throat.  After her bra fell away, Hermione reached up to push the remains of Harry's shirt off his shoulders; as soon as it was gone, they immediately reached for each other, anxious to feel the completeness of skin against skin.  There was nothing like it, Hermione thought, feeling the warmth of Harry pressed against her from neck to navel.  Not even any of the handful of other partners had ever elicited this feeling of intense closeness, just from skin-against-skin.

But as fulfilling as it was, it wasn't enough.  She could feel the hard length of his erection pressing against her thigh, and felt her own need increase as they stood there, wrapped in each other's arms.  It didn't take long for them to sink down to the quilt, shedding their remaining garments as they went, until they lay stretched out before the fire with nothing but a few inches between them.

Hermione rolled to her back as Harry leaned over her, bending down to take a breast in his mouth.  A shiver raced through her as he sucked and nibbled on the sensitive nub, alternately circling the surrounding area with his tongue.  His free hand skated over the the dip in her waist, the curve of her hip, and the length of her leg, as far as he could comfortably reach, working his way back up the inside of her thigh.  Her legs fell open as he teased his way closer to the top, slowing his progress to a maddening slowness.  She fought an urge to lift her hips, to thrust herself down towards his hand and make the much-needed contact, instead willing herself to remain still while he followed his instincts.  When his fingers finally encountered her wet heat, though, she couldn't stop herself.  She pushed against his fingers as they moved around and around, and he answered her plea by slipping lower and entering her with one slim digit.

"Oh, Harry," she moaned.  "I can't take much more of this."  She reached out blindly in the small space between them, the still-conscious part of her not wanting things to be so one-sided.  She quickly curled her fingers around him and began to stroke him in time to the rhythm of his finger - now two fingers - slipping in and out of her body.

They remained like that for several minutes, only the movement of their hands and the rapid rising and falling of their chests visible in the firelight until, with a groan of intense longing, Harry rolled over onto his back and pulled Hermione with him.  She was just as desperate to have more than his fingers inside her and, without hesitation, she raised herself up and impaled herself on his hard length.

They hissed together as he buried himself in her.  The hiss turned into panting as they began to move, Hermione bracing herself on her hands as she slid up him and down him, Harry thrusting up against her in time with her movements.  Their rhythm sped up, their breathing grew more ragged as they came together, apart, together, pushing each other towards the final goal, until, with a cry, Hermione shattered.   The feel of her pulsing around him was too much for Harry, and a few strokes later, he came as well, pouring himself into her still-trembling body.

Their movements slowed and stilled, their breathing quieted.  Hermione disengaged herself, and they lay quietly in the heat from the fire, savouring the moment.  Hermione supposed they would have to move to the bed eventually - sleeping on the floor, even with cushioning charms, still wasn't as nice as a proper mattress - but for now she was content.  Harry would likely still want to talk, and she would be glad to listen and offer whatever advice she could, but she also knew that much of the needed healing had already taken place, with what they had just shared.

"Thanks, Mione," Harry murmured beside her.  He sounded sleepy and, clearly, much calmer.

"Anything for you, Harry," she assured him.  "Anything."

06 Jan 2004

It would be a great comfort if you would leave me feedback. Even short notes mean a lot to me. I accept constructive as well as positive remarks.

Continue on to Liss' "Need".

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