Harry Potter does not grow up with casual touches. No gentle, comforting touches; no ruffled hair and forehead kisses; no steadying hands on his back and arm; nothing.
Hermione Granger is a shock to his system.
Hermione, who hands casual touches out so freely. She reaches for him without hesitation, offers up comfort without consequence. She throws herself into his arms, wraps her arms tight around his neck and squeezes, squealing with delight that he is there and alive and in front of her.
(She’s always thrilled to see him.)
Hermione ruffles his hair, chases him around the common room, places a hand on his elbow and arm and shoulder and back and thigh and is there a place she hasn’t touched?
It’s part of the reason he comes to rely on her. He begins to reach out, too. Opens his arms for her to step into and brushes the tears off the curve of her cheek. He turns the knob on the radio in that tent and offers up his hand, twirls around the room and twists their bodies together, swaying gently.
The touches set the foundation for the inevitable. The rubble and dust have settled and something–something–has shifted between them. The touches are loaded and electric. They’ve searched for a release valve (kisses between her and Ron and him and Ginny) without success.
They stand on the broken bridge of Hogwarts, huddled together and their hands entwined (more touches). He thinks now may be the time for a new first touch.
Harry turns her head towards his with a touch of his hand and he sees her eyes widen and hears her inhale sharply before his lips brush over hers, once, twice, and then a third time: long and lingering. Her grip tightens on their hands and it anchors him.
She breaks away and grins, resting their foreheads together. Harry laughs and peppers her face with kisses, over her eyes and head and nose and cheeks and then, because he can’t help himself, over her lips again.
Harry thinks these are the kinds of touches he could get used to.
“We are not soulmates because our hands intertwine perfectly or because our kisses are like fireworks. We are not soulmates because we never argue or fight. We are not soulmates because we hold each other perfectly or understand each other without speaking. We are not soulmates because of any of those things. But we are soulmates for sure. Because even when we argue or fight, we will never ever give up on each other. Soulmates don’t have to be perfect. They just have to hold on, and never let go.”