Author's Note: A bit of a truffle of a story that has no connection to anything else
The first time she saw a Pensieve, she knew how to use it. You just tap your wand on it and dive in; you just open the book to the first page and look down.
She does not remember not reading. That's what they call it, reading. But she watches other people read and it is not like what she does. She finds that she dares not read at home for fear of her parents calling and not being heard. Only at night, and she reads by the light of a flashlight under her covers, spinning and twisting and soaring over the pages, and when the book ends she is back in herself in a rush of painful consciousness of her body. It makes tears come to her eyes, and she blinks them away, and stares into the darkness for a while before she can sleep, her breath slowing, heart returning to normal.
She does not understand why other people can give away books once they've read them. Libraries are a sweet agony to her. She spends her allowance on books. The letter from Hogwarts is somehow no surprise. She has always been different.
At first she did not understand him, and then she saw how he looked at her when she got out of the hospital wing, that second year. She went back to her room and looked at herself in the mirror, trying to see how she changed. There were letters that summer, and the visit before school, and her eyes were on him, and his on her. But she reads books more than people, and she cannot say the words. She watches him play chess. He is transformed, concentrating. His eyes are distant, seeing through the board, and seeing them, she is distracted, and he easily wins.
She is reading in the common room, and she can feel his gaze on her. He looks at her hair as he looked at Harry's Firebolt, and when she raises her head there is something said and unsaid in the golden firelight. A long pause, and he goes to bed. She is bereft, and turns to her book again.
That night she reads her own body in the solitude of her bed, and finds her body no longer a burden.
She watches the other girls flirt and touch, and wonders where she was when they learned. Fortunately, there are books on the topic. Both of them watch her now, only forgetting she's a girl and from a distant disturbing land when saving someone or thwarting something.
They watch Harry dive around the dragon, and Hermione gasps, afraid for him, for all that he was born on a broom and flies as easily as she reads. She realizes that she is holding Ron's hand, and that he is letting her, clutching back, drawing strength from her as she does from him. And for all that he can't talk to Harry, and that she goes to the Yule Ball with Krum and argues with Ron, she knows that that summer it will all be all right again, and it is. And it's all right now.
They argue now, at cross purposes and what they are talking about has nothing to do with what they are saying. And then he is touching her. The feeling of his hand on the back of her neck is enough to slam her eyes closed. His lips make contact with hers, and she is suddenly burrowing into his mouth with her own, gasping, hating the need to breathe, hating the clothes that are between their bodies. She wants to melt into his skin. His hand is on her body, and it seems that she is on something that has made her feel everything for the first time. When he kisses her neck, she hisses and closes her eyes, clawing towards the feeling, seeking. It is bright and rose-golden behind her closed lids, and her mind is in her body now, properly, and she shudders with the intensity of the feeling. It does not break like closing a book, but ebbs away like a wave running out, as her breath slows.
She raises her hand to his face, his familiar face that is so strange now, and touches him like a book. She reads his skin with her hands, eyes distant and brilliant, and he sees her like a chessboard, and they know themselves for the first time.