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A soft smile slowly stretched on Harry's face as he imagined her as a small girl, being encouraged by a mother who wanted her to be proud of herself. She'd been adorably headstrong in first year, and now it made sense. Most of them had been terrified of standing out in any way shape or form at age eleven, and did their best to blend in. Hermione had stuck proudly to her intellect and never once changed who she was, even if it alienated her from the other kids.
[b "A fox, huh?"] Harry teased. [b "Maybe that'll be your Patronus."]
A thought came to him, widening his eyes. [b "We could teach that,"] he abruptly changed the subject, locking his gaze with hers. [b "In the defense club! We could teach them the patronus charm to defend against Dementers, if the pink beast ever decides to bring them to Hogwarts again."]
Reaching across the table, he grabbed her hand and his eyes lit up with more excitement than he'd had in a long time. [b "We could actually do this. With how incredibly smart and patient you are, and with what I've had to learn to fight Voldemort, we could pull this off."]
Harry scooted his chair over so he was sitting more beside her than across. [b "You can do great things, Hermione Granger, and I am lucky enough to get to witness it. If it were anyone else putting this club together, I'd be doubtful but there's no way this can fail if we work beside each other."]
He kept his voice low so as to not be overheard, which meant he had to lean close enough that she would hear them, putting them inches apart. Harry realized what was happening and his Adam's apple bobbed nervously in his throat. [b "I um..."]
A throat cleared, causing him to jump in his chair. [i "Order?"] the waitress looked rather bored with them, notepad and quill at the ready.
Harry flushed red and rapidly scanned the menu in front of him. [b "Club sandwich, please,"] his voice broke with bashfulness at having been caught staring at Hermione's lips.
Everything was so very confusing and messy. Not the fact that she had feelings for him. That she had discovered their third year when they had been trying to figure out what to do when "the mass murder" came for him. No..what made it confusing amd messy was the fact that there was danger at every turn. None of their relstionship could be normal. And her own history with dating wasn't exactly a bonus either. But to be on this date and with her best friend was somewhat a miracle. She would habe NEVER expected that he could or would feel the same way.
She was silent as she leanes forwards a little and rested her cheek against the papm of her hand. She wanted for Harry to know that he had her full attention. Admittedly though his past made her sad, the girl loved hearing when he could find a happy memory. And him with the bike and people watching made her smile as she could see it. [b "I can picture that...and it explains why you still enjoy people watching here at school. Which isn't a bad thing at all."] The girl said softly.
Since he had shared it was her turn. And it took her a moment to think of something. But when she did, the girl gave a slow nod. [b "I remember as a little girl that I always felt different and a bit lonely. I could read from a very young age and my cleverness often got me mocked...Much like it did first year here at school. I remember one day coming home from school in tears because some of the girls had been teasing me for being too smart and not like all the rest... Mum actually took me out for ice cream while dad was away on a business trip.. and she just talked me through it...told me there was nothing wrong with being clever and told me about foxes and their cleverness...how often it saves them. After she took me to the new bookstore that was opening and let me get a few new books..."] Never had she expected to tell that to anyone and almost did she feel silly.
[b "I don't blame you at all,"] he assured her. [b "We're not exactly in a normal situation. We're surrounded by danger at every turn, and then we go and add romantic feelings towards each other on top of that. Makes for an odd situation. I'm not really sure what a normal way to handle it would be."]
If anything, she was handling things better than he could have ever imagined. With his recent dating history, Harry wasn't altogether too confident in his skills. He'd been highly anticipating her to shoot him down in a soft, comforting manner that seemed to be distinctly Hermione. He hadn't quite expected to ever actually be on a date with her in Hogsmead.
[b "Alright. Tell me something I don't know about Hermione Granger,"] he took a sip of his drink. [b "Something from when you were little, before we met. Before the magic. Tell me about Muggle Hermione."]
They were the only two out of their immediate circle of friends who had lives outside of the wizarding world. Separate memories that only they would understand. Favourite films, travel experiences, toys. Things that the Weasleys couldn't relate to, no matter how hard they tried. Harry and Hermione often reminisced about things from home that they missed, like certain candies or television programs. Granted, Harry had a much more limited selection since he could only watch television when the Dursleys were all out.
[b "I remember,"] he began when it was his turn to share a story. [b "Being about seven. Dudley had gotten a new bike for his birthday. He got a new one every year, even if he hadn't outgrown the previous one. The old one had chipped paint from all the times he'd dropped it to the sidewalk in a rush to get inside, so he was all over the new one with shiny blue paint."]
It wasn't often the Dursleys granted him any kind of gift, but that year they seemed to understand that throwing the old bike away was a waste of money. [b "They gave me the old one, figuring it would keep me out of the house. I'd spend all day trying to ride up and down the sidewalk, trying to teach myself how to stay balanced. When I finally got the hang of it, I'd ride it to the park up the road and stay there for the day, people-watching. I loved that bike,"] he grinned fondly at the memory.
The silence and the conversation between them seemed forced and almost painful. Never had it been like this before. He was her best friend and the person she felt the most comfortable with. How was it that things could change so much just because they had decided to try a date? It was uncanny and unnerving. Even she was seeming to watch more and more what she said.
When he spoke next, Hermione let out the breath she did not even realise that she had been holding. [b "Actually you're right. We've always been so free and happy around the other. So this shouldn't be any different. I don't want you thinking that I want you being anyone else either...these feelings came about because of you being you... So us being so anxious like this is a blind date is silly."] She said with a small smile.
And it seemed as soon as their words had been spoken, their butter beers had been brought out. Once more the girl gave a small smile. [b "I'm sorry for having been so odd."]
He grinned at her. [b "If we're going to the Quidditch shop, I might be tempted to pick out a broom for you,"] he warned playfully.
The pub was only half-full as he led her through the door. The usual patrons kept around the bar, but most of the tables were free to pick from. Harry nabbed them a place close to the fireplace, cursing the chill of Scotland so early in the school year. [b "A round of butterbeers, please,"] he requested to the waitress who'd come over to hand them menus.
Bloody hell, conversation had never been this hard for him before. He was painfully aware of everything coming out of his mouth, just waiting for him to slip up and say something to make her end the date and leave him there.
[b "Okay,"] he broke the short silence. [b "I think we're both a little nervous about this whole thing. But, we've been best friends for years. Before any of these feelings came about, we've always been most comfortable around each other. I just don't want you to think that I expect anything other than Hermione Granger today; the same girl you've always been. This might be less daunting if we act like ourselves and less like we're on a blind date with a stranger."]
Harry gave her a small grin as their drinks were placed in front of them. [b "What do you say? Should we relax a bit so we don't get too much in our heads?"]
Her eyes watered almost the instant the sour had touched her tongue. It was so very bitter and reminded her of what straight vinegar would tasted like or even vanilla abstract when not in cookies. She had been so very close to spitting it out, but to her surprise Harry actually caved first. That really had been the shocker to her as she was horrid with sour candies when they were as tart as the brightly wrapped one had been.
Not even seconds after Harry had spat his out did she do the same. [b "They should have a warning on them.. Eat at your own risk or something. Those are bitter.."] She couldn't help complaining and flushed when she realised that she had been. Honestly she had meant to keep those thoughts to herself but it seemed they had come out her mouth.
[b "How about we split it? I mean I did cave not even a few seconds after you did. And those candies made our wager one of the stupidest things we could have agreed on."] She said with a small smile as her hand once more had moved back into his. Truth be told she wasn't annoyed with him at all. She was just as awkward and wasn't like the other girls at the school. She was content to conversation or to the silence.. all she really wanted was the time spent together.
[b "So books and the quidditch shop? Maybe even jokes too?"] She asked, giving him other options as well. He didn't mention or choose from somwthing else, Hermione could keep them in the bookshop for hours and not realise it
It turned out to be one of the dumbest ideas he could have possibly come up with.
The candy was more bitter than anything Harry had ever tasted before in his life. His face scrunched more than he thought possible, and he could feel his tongue trying to retreat from the horrid taste. He'd rather drink Skele-Grow again. He couldn't even taste whatever strawberry flavour the wrapper claimed the candy had.
Barely twenty seconds later, he caved first. Rushing to the nearest garbage can, he spat the candy out. What he wouldn't give for pumpkin juice to wash away the tartness in his mouth. [b "I see why the bin of those things was still full,"] he tried wiping his tongue on a napkin to see if it was any better.
[b "But, a deal's a deal. Looks like I'm buying you a drink, Prefect Granger,"] a smile worked it's way through the grimace.
He wanted them to grab food and drinks before the lunch rush overcrowded Madam Rosmerta's pub. [b "We'll eat quickly and then we can keep shopping. I want to take you to the new bookstore around the corner,"] he explained. [b "I mean, it's a used bookstore so it's technically not 'new', but the store itself is new!"] he rambled.
He couldn't tell if he was talking too much, or not enough. Was hand-holding enough contact? Was it getting annoying for her? Maybe the bookstore would have some kind of guide book for how to be a romantic. He'd had a grand total of one kiss in his life, and Cho had ended up sobbing through the entire thing, so he's fairly sure he could use some kind of help.
The girl's hand gave his a gentle squeeze when he had interlaced their fingers. The fact that they were both skittish was actually reasuring in its own way. And it also helped her to relax abit. Though she had been trying so hard NOT to seem nervous. [b "It just seemed a good place to go since we know everyone likes to stock up on treats and it is usually the first place everyone goes."] She explained, telling his the reason for why she had chosen Honey Dukes' as their first destination. Well that and she did really want the sweets since she HARDLY got them at home.
The shop itself was not completely crowded but others were straggling in and it was slowly filling. Brown eyes skimmed the shelves of treats. The pumkin pasties, the chocolate frogs, and Bertie Botts' were some of the first candies that caught her attention. But then they were also what she knew the best too. [b "And why could you live here forever?"] Hermione found herself asking as she was curious what would make him want to live in the sweet shop.
[b "Harry..."] The girl started to protest when he had told her to get whatever she wanted and it would be his treat. Hermione didn't really want him spending his galleons on her. But she also realised this would be a losing battle and she didn't want to ruin the day. So slowly she shook her head and gave a small smile and slowly picked a couple of different sweets, but not too many. And she was understanding that her own longing for the sweets came with the fact that her parents were dentists. They hardly ever let her have sweets because she could ruin the health of her teeth. It had been something that was drilled into her growing up and so when at school, the girl had as many as she could but never told it to her parents.
The girl was getting lost in her thoughts and had been called out by his voice and words. Slowly, brown orbs followed his gaze to the brightly wrapped sours. Oh she would pay for that as sour typically burned her tongue but it seemed a good game too. [b "You'll probably end up winning this. Trust me.."] She said with a small.smile.
Soon, Harry was paying the wizard behind the counter and the girl had slipped a galleon into the tips as well. Honestly she felt as sorry for the cashier as Harry did. She gave one more faint smile and nod before the pair left the shop. [b "Three sounds good."] She said quietly, the brightly wrapped sour in the palm of her hand as her gaze was locked on her best friend
[i You're the Boy Who Lived, damnit! Be brave!] Harry scolded himself. Taking a breath, he closed the gap between their hands and interlaced their fingers. [b "Honey Dukes it is then,"] he smiled.
The shop was thankfully not that busy yet, and the sweet sugary scent of candy filled his nose. [b "I could live here forever,"] he commented, eyes scanning the shelves lined with chocolate frogs and Bertie Botts Every Flavour Beans.
The basket he'd grabbed on the way in slowly filled with chocolates and caramels and chewy candies. They'd definitely crash from all the sugar later on, but today was a day for enjoyment. [b "Get anything you want,"] he told her. [b "My treat."]
Going eleven years with the Dursleys not allowing him to have candy, Harry's sweet tooth was quite prominent every chance he got to shop in Hogsmead. He and Ron had a stash hidden behind their headboards, and it was already depleting after late night snacking.
Harry spotted a barrel full of brightly wrapped sour candies. The moving picture on the label showed a kid's scrunched face under the intense bitterness. He picked up two of the packages and waved them in front of her. [b "Feeling up to a challenge? Whoever spits it out first buys the first round of butterbeer at the pub,"] he grinned.
The cashier behind the counter looked rather stressed as the number of students in the store grew, with questions being shouted across the room, and piles of candy being dumped out on the counter for purchase. Harry made sure to drop a few extra galleons in the tip jar, feeling sympathetic for the young wizard's hectic morning.
Harry handed Hermione the package of sour candy. [b "On the count of three?"] he suggested, opening his own bag.
Between Ron and Luna, it seemed that he cheeks had the hardest time in going back to their usual soft pink. Both the boy and girl made things seem awkward. But then, she knew that it was not meant to. In their own way both wanted to help EVEN if they didn't realise how bad what they said sounded. Of course though, Hermione could not bring herself to speak as her mind truly was racing. Honestly she was hoping she would NOT mess this up.
When they were finally able to get out of the carriage, Luna's last words made her blink. So she had made a bet with her "imaginary" creatures. Why didn't that shock her? Oh yes.. because Luna was one of the more off of their peers. A brilliant witch and a kind soul..but odd nonetheless.
Her eyes caught the twitching motion at Harry's side and before she even thought about it, Hermione's hand had moved to take his. She wasn't sure if she was allowed or not..but it was kind of too late to ask. [b "I think we should.. If we don't go now I think Honey Duke's will be completely filled with Hogwart's students."] She said with a soft smile and laugh. She was trying to ease them both as she could tell that Harry was just as nervous as she was.
Harry practically choked on his own tongue. He shot Luna a panicked expression, not wanting her to spook Hermione with talks of love. Who knew if she even had feelings that deep for him? [b "We are...seeing how things go. Yes,"] he answered awkwardly.
[i "My advice,"] Ron chimed in. [i "Stay away from the spicey chicken bowl. It'll wreck you and you'll spend your whole day in the toilets. Not romantic at all."]
Bloody hell, these were the worst possible people to share a carriage with before a date. [b "Thank you, Ron. For that insight. I think we'll be alright,"] Harry spoke through gritted teeth, shooting his best friend a warning glare.
The rest of the ride was silent, except for Luna staring at Harry and Hermione with a smile. As they climbed down from the carriage, she turned to them once more. [i "The Nargles said you would be too scared to do this. But I knew they were wrong. Don't let them get in your head, otherwise they'll ruin things with their mischievous ideas."]
With that, they were finally left alone. Harry's hand twitched at his side, unsure if he was allowed to hold her hand or not. [b "Shall we?"] he cleared his throat, smiling at her.
Oh how she hated her cheeks. They did flush softly as Harry had said she looked great. [b "Thanks..so do you."] She whispered and she did mean it. Honestly she loved the days that they didn't have to dress in their school uniforms. But she didn't say it and soon had fallen into step with the boy.
[b "Galleon for your thoughts? You seem quiet."] The girl said as she turned her gaze to him for a second and then looked back ahead of them as they walked. Honestly she was going to make good on her word and actually get him something for his birthday since she had not had the chance with them having been at Grimmauld Place almost all summer.
Admittedly she was surprised that Ron had held the carriage for them and that both Luna and Ginny were watching her and Harry. Oh the look Ron and Ginny were giving were enough to have her face almost red as a lobster. But it was Harry's words and Luna's that followed that had her all the redder.
[i "So the two of you told the other then? It really is about time."] The blonde girl said and gave a thoughful smile.
Harry's jitters melted away slightly as she came down the stairs. She looked a bit more relaxed than the night before, and more like herself without the Gryffindor uniform. He caught himself flashing her a dopey smile before he tried to regain control of his face. [b "Hey,"] his voice cracked. He cleared his throat. [b "You look great."]
On their way down to the carriages, he couldn't help but mentally curse himself for not thinking about getting her something romantic, like flowers. Then again, Hermione wasn't just any girl. She'd probably like receiving a book more than a bouquet. He made a mental note to check the bookshop in town.
To his surprise, Ron was holding up a carriage for them, accompanied by Ginny and Luna. He caught Harry's eye and winked as they approached. [i "Almost didn't catch this one in time. We'll be out of your hair once we get to Hogsmead. Just didn't want you to miss it."]
[b "Much appreciated,"] Harry murmured back, holding a hand out to help Hermione up into the carriage.
It was almost embarrassing, being under three watchful eyes. Then again, Luna almost always had an inquisitive expression on her face. The Weasleys, however, couldn't quite wipe the smug smirks off of their faces. [i "So,"] Ginny broke the silence. [i "Lunch plans, huh?"]
Harry's face flashed red, subtly trying to glare at her without Hermione seeing. [b "Yep. Lunch. Then shopping, and sightseeing. [i Alone],"] he emphasized.
He was right in what he said. Both of thrm had been more than exhausted and had fallen asleep before they really thought about it. And IF she was the best sleep she had easily had in a week. Though she didn't much think it a good idea to tell him. Actually, Hermione wasn't much aware of what they had spoken of the day before. The potion had actually numbed thr pain but had also some of her conscious thought as well. Oh how she hoped that she had not let things too embarrassing slip.
[b "Oh..it is getting late and the carriages there won't be going for much longer.. We really should be hurrying if we don't want to walk the whole way.."] The girl said, quietly. Though if they had not had the troll of a Defense teacher torture them yesterday she was note than sure she would have enjoyed the extra time with Harry. Again she was not going to say so because she was not exactly sure how. Of course they were close but they weren't exactly dating. Besides after this he may decide he wouldn't want to date her.
Her mind seemed to be racing with those thoughts before she was given the Invisibilty Cloak and told she could use it to slip back into the girls' dormitories. [b "Thanks.."] She whispered as she all but scampered from the room and went back to the dormitory she shared with the other fifth year girls. Mercifully it was empty and she was on her own.
Once she was in the room, Hermione took the cloak off and folded it and put it into her bag. She would return it to Harry later. And soon she was changing into a pair of black jeans, a powdery blue button-up, a sweater, and her flats. Simple but she guessed at least semi cute too. She then brushed out her hair, putting pins into it to keep it from getting into her face and brushed her teeth. When done, Hermione grabbed her money bag and stuffed it into her school bag and went down to meet Harry in the common room.
[b "Are you good to go?"] She asked with a bright smile when she came to him in the common room. Butterflies seemed to be fluttering because she was nervous but she was pushing them aside. This was Harry and her best friend after all.. She could do this.
He smiled back at her, still a little groggy. [b "It's alright, really. We were comfortable and fell asleep. No harm, no foul."]
Looking past her to the clock on his table, Harry noted that they were running behind to catch the carriages to Hogsmead. [b "We'd better get ready. Don't want to walk all the way to the village,"] he handed her to the cloak to make a quick escape to the girls' dorm undetected.
As soon as she was gone, he began digging through his dresser to find clothes that fit him somewhat properly. With Dudley's hand-me-downs, most of his pants required a belt and his shirts hung off of him like a blanket. He found a pair of jeans that he'd had since third year that still needed a belt but at least fit length-wise, and a white t-shirt that went well enough with one of his flannel button-downs.
With one last check in the mirror to flatten his hair and brush his teeth, he took to pacing in the common room while waiting. He contemplated changing clothes four times before settling on rolling his sleeves to his elbows to make the outfit look a little more casual.
Harry was mumbling small talk under his breath, suddenly incredibly nervous about the fact that he had never done anything even remotely like this before. [b "The weather is nice today, don't you think? No, what the hell am I doing? Don't mention the stupid weather. Classes? No, we're in the same things, we already know about that."] His head fell back and he groaned. [b "Don't be a total idiot, Potter."]
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