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Honestly she didn't want to go back to Hogwarts yet. The afternoon had been so nice and stress free. A day they had surely been needing since the stay of term which was sad because usually they liked being back in the wizarding world. She just wished her mind wasn't still so very muddled and that she could have given them more an excuse to avoid refinding the group that they had come with. Even so, Hermione was still able to find herself in high spirits. [b "That's a brilliant idea. We both know there is always something to see in the windows. Most the time not something either of us would have seen at home."]
And soon, the two were at the front counter and she was paying for the books she had found and the shop keeper was handing Harry a parcel with an awkward thumb's up. It had not been lost on her but she decided not to ask. [b "Thanks for all you're help, Mister Klaus. And thank you too Watson."] The girl said as she reached to pet the cat who happened to be lounging in his owner's arms. She then gave a nod to also reasure the man that he would indeed find them back in the shop any chance they got. She loved it and it felt absolutely like home to her.
It was when the exited the shop did she find Harry's hand taking hers and their fingers interlaced. Her own cheeks flushed but she didn't pull away. She quite liked the feel of his hand in hers. It was nice and a comfort she had never known before. What she didn't like was the eyes that followed them or the giggles. But that was to be expected with it being only the two of them and for them to be holding hands as they were. At one point she had almost let go, but Harry telling her not to mind them made her stop. [b "I dread to think what they'll come up with. So I'm sorry that this has gotten you even more attention."] She whispered, her hand giving his a squeeze.
A familiar voice soon came and told those oggling to stop or points would be docked. She had to admit that she had never been so glad to see Ron before. [b "You're learning quite well to be a prefect. Well done."] The girl said with a smile but then froze as he began to study them.
[b "You've no room to talk. Because back at Grimmauld Place you joined the twins."] Hermione said, cheeks a bright red as Ron had burst out laughing. [b "Besides we needed it."]
Harry was still feeling deliciously happy from the firewhisky and her company. He wasn't entirely ready for the day to be over. His brain, however, was too muddled to think of something to prolong their outing. [b "Let's walk the street and if we find them, we'll just stay together. We might see something in the shop windows we might want to see."]
Klaus handed Harry his parcel with a large smile and an awkward thumbs up. [i "Good day, then! Thank you for shopping with us,"] he bounced Watson in his arms, the cat lounging contently.
[b "We'll definitely be back. Consider us your first regulars,"] Harry assured him.
Feeling brave, he took her hand on the street as the door closed behind them. His stupid face still managed to blush. [b "How much junk food do you think Ron's managed to gather?"] he spoke, eyeing their fellow students whenever they passed by.
The looks were expected. Seeing two thirds of the Golden Trio on their own, fingers interlaced was sure to get the rumor mill started. A few Hufflepuffs even giggled behind their hands. [b "Don't mind them,"] he murmured to Hermione, worried that the attention would get to her.
[i "Oi!"] A familiar voice snapped, shouldering past the giddy students. [i "Quit your oggling and move on or I'll dock you lot points."]
Harry smirked as they scurried. [b "Nicely handled, Prefect,"] he greeted Ron.
[i "I'm getting the hang of it, aren't I?"] the redhead beamed proudly. [i "Did some shopping then?"]
[b "We could say the same,"] Harry gestured to the Zonko's and sweets bags.
Ron's eyes narrowed, taking in their flushed faces. [i "Something's off. You two look funny."]
Circling them like an inspector, Ron clicked his tongue. Harry felt like a bug under a microscope. [i "Your eyes are dilated,"] Ron leaned close, grabbing Harry's chin and tilting his head upwards to get better light. [i "Just like Fred and George's were after they found Sirius' cabinet of -"]
Ron froze and then barked a laugh. [i "You've been drinking! I can't believe you two!"]
Her eyes sparkled when he actually said he had read some of the books she had named. Quite honestly she was impressed that he had taken the time to read. That was something Ron would NEVER do. So yet another thing she found to adore about Harry. [b "So you actually enjoyed them? That makes me really happy."] She said, smile never faltering.
His words of the books and having found a few made her smile. [b "Maybe we could spend a night just sat in the common room and read. Have a nice quiet night for once?"] She asked, words almost more hopeful than she had meant. And when he mentioned the shopkeeper, a bright pink coloured her cheeks. [b "I just genuinely enjoy reading and books. It's nothing special.. but he probably would and I have to admit I wouldn't mind spending more time here."] She said, a soft laugh to her words as she gently bumped his hip back.
Brown eyes went to the cat who had found a new perch and lazily tried to swat at the two teens as they passed beneathe him. [b "I didn't think anyone cat nor person could give Mrs.Norris a run for her money. But Sherlock has seemed to manage. Shall we pay him as a prize?"] Hermione teased as they made their way to the counter so she could pay for her books. [b "Did you want to do anything else before we have to find our way back to the group and make our way back to school?"] She asked, head tilting as she glanced his way
Harry couldn't help the fond smile that appeared on his face. [b "All classic literature. Very nice selections, Miss Granger,"] he eyed the stack she'd accumulated. [b "I read a couple of those. They were assigned reading for Dudley's classes over the summer last year. Naturally, he left them in a pile and ignored them the entire time, so I spent most of the time reading them before we went to the Quidditch World Cup."]
It wasn't something he would have done before he'd met her. His previous summers were mostly spent outdoors, tending the gardens and trimming the lawn. After hearing Hermione recount books she'd read with such excitement and passion in her eyes, Harry had decided he was going to get through a novel in order to make more of an effort to bond over something she liked to do.
He hadn't expected to enjoy it as much as he did. While he wasn't quite the bibliophile that Hermione was, he'd developed a new respect for literature and the creativity that went into them.
[b "I spotted a few. Already put them at the counter and paid. Klaus was kind enough to bag them for me while I came to find you,"] he lied quickly. [b "You've made quite the impression on him, by the way! He appreciates your enthusiasm for books. I think he may hire you on the spot if you decide to drop out of Hogwarts to spend all your time here,"] he teased her, bumping her hip with his.
Sherlock glared from his new perch, on top of the mahogany bookcase. He lazily swatted towards them but was up much too high to actually reach his target. [b "It's almost impressive. He could give Mrs Norris a run for her money, in a judging contest,"] he joked.
It was nice to not feel different or like a freak. Others she had met thought her odd for her tastes and even said as much. To have the shopkeeper say he pretty much enjoyed the same and being so warm was nice. And in her mind, he even had a fitting name. All she did was smile and give the man a nod to acknowledge his words and kindess. Honestly, Hermione found she liked the man and that the new bookshop could very easily become her favourite shop in Hogsmeade.
The girl smiled as she began to walk with Harry and Watson through the shop and towards some shelves in the back. Brown eyes had gone to a shelf of bindings and she moved to them, fingers tracing over the books' spines gently. It was Harry's yelp that caused her to jump and let out a yelp of her own. It seemed he had found the other cat when she had turned to glance over her should to make sure that the boy was alright.
After a moment and seeing him pick up the book he had dropped, the girl went back to scannimg the shelves. She was looking through historical fictions as for the moment that seemed the genre she was drawn to. Honestly she had not even noticed Harry come up behind her until she heard him speak, jumping as she had become lost to the pages of the book she had just opened to skim.
[b "I...uh I actually found a few I liked. Or rather wanted to revisit. 'The White Queen', 'Katherine', 'Pride and Prejudice', 'Wutherine Heights', and 'The Great Gatsby..'.."] The girl said as she looked up from the book at the boy, cheeks a bright pink. She had just named books that were older and what one would find in a muggle's literature class. [b "Erm..what about you? Did you find any you liked?"] She asked, trying to quickly cover the bookworm in her.
[i "Mysteries are some of the greatest novels of all! I used to sit outside with a stack of Agatha Christie novels and just spend hours in the pages,"] the man clasped his hands fondly. [i "You're more than welcome to take Watson around the store with you. Little bugger will bask in the attention. I'll get back to the counter, but call for me if you need anything. Klaus is the name!"]
Harry grinned down at the fluff of cat in his arms, bouncing Watson a bit. [b "Alright then. Looks like we've got our own little tour guide. Come on, Watson. Let's go find Sherlock."]
The grumpier cat nearly caused the boy's heart to stop when they finally stumbled upon him. A large silver tabby was perched behind a stack of books, hissing at Harry as he pulled a copy of The Great Gatsby from the shelves. [b "Merlin's beard!"] he yelped, dropping the paperback to the floor where it nearly collided with Watson.
Sherlock hissed again, swatting out with a passive paw. [b "Klaus is right. Watson is the more charming of the two,"] Harry crouched to grab the book. [b "Though I think you would have more in common with Crookshanks. You're both cranky old buggers, aren't you?"] he huffed at Sherlock.
Coming up behind Hermione, he tried to look over her shoulder. [b "Find anything good?"]
He'd already disappeared once from her in the time they'd been browsing. A dusty volume of the Grimm Brother's Fairy Tales was perched on display. First edition. Safely secured behind a glass box, away from grabby hands. Harry waited until he was sure Hermione was sufficiently distracted before retrieving the shopkeeper from the counter to unlock the glass case for him.
He made sure to slip him a few extra galleons to wrap it in brown parchment, away from Hermione's potential gaze. A first edition book had to be a worthy birthday present for her, right?
Now, he was contented to watch her browse the shelves. It charmed him to see her delve into the different worlds each time she opened a new book.
A faint pink had come back into her cheeks. And she did open her mouth once, twice, but then decided against any comments she had. For truly he knew her better than anyone. And he HAD seen her excited to read anything that she could get her hands on. So she had to give this one to the boy as fingers brushed over bidings and she scanned the titles.
The shop felt very much like home to her. The smells of the candles and the soft music that played though there were no speakers. She was almost lost to the task and the softness of the music. It all reminding her when she had been a little girl and her mother would take her to a library or bookshop. But before she could get too lost, a yowling meow echoed and brough her back.
[b "They were always one of my favourite types of books. Sherlock and Nancy Drew were how I became fond on mystery.. But I think Watson is quite cute and all he wants is a little attention. Might even become a draw to some of us."] The girl said, a smile coming to her lips as she moved closer to where Harry stood holding up the cat.
[b "And to answer your question. A lovely friend for Crookshanks."] She cooed, petting the black ball of fur with the bright green eyes. She then looked back to the shop keeper. [b "I'm sorry...I'm fond of books and cats."]
Harry flashed a playful grin. [b "Is there a difference between work and pleasure reads for you, Hermione? I've seen you get just as excited over a historical biography as you do any fiction stories."]
The shop had a comforting atmosphere, the scent of the books mixing with the flowery candles decorating the windowsills. Soft jazz music played in the air, despite the absence of speakers or Muggle technology. A weight brushed Harry's leg. Jumping, he nearly stepped on the shop cat; a chunky little black blob with saucer-like green eyes staring up at him.
A startling screech erupted from the creature. [b "Hello?"] Harry crooked an eyebrow at it.
Another distorted meow. The cat brushed against his leg again before resting its front paws on Harry's leg. The shopkeeper sighed from behind the counter. [i "Watson, if you do not stop screaming at customers, they aren't going to come back!"] he scolded. [i "Please ignore him, he's just a busybody who learned to get attention through yelling."]
[b "Watson? Like from Sherlock Holmes?"] Harry picked the cat up, scratching under its chin.
The man's face lit up. [i "Yes! Sherlock is around here somewhere, but he's much more reserved than his brother, here. He tends to hide on the shelves so please don't be alarmed if you see two eyes staring back at you from behind the books. Are you a fan of the Holmes books? Do you know much of Muggle literature?"]
Harry glanced at his companion. [b "She's more of a reader than I am. We grew up with Muggles, however, so I've heard of the Holmes stories. I always though Watson was the quiet one, though."]
The man looked at the cat lounging in Harry's arms. [i "Yes, well, their personalities seemed to have switched over the years. I can't get this one to shut up, and I can't get the other one to care. Quite the opposite of their namesakes, I agree."]
Harry turned to face Hermione, holding Watson up a bit higher. [b "What do you think? A possible friend for Crookshanks?"]
Harry had chosen jelly-filled and she had chosen cinnamon glazed. And she still kept close to the boy with the chilled air. She had nearly just realised it and had been about to move away but an arm had been thrown about her shoulders and her cheeks flushed. Thankfully her cheeks could have looked like it was the cold that had them the bright red and not a blush.
[b "You mean it will keep us warm and out of trouble."] The girl corrected with a soft laugh. And soon they had come to a shop that looked newer and quite out of place among the clutter of buildings. So she was able to tell that the building must be the one that Harry had mentioned to her and she was more than excited to get to look through books. [b "Thanks.."] She whispered as she slipped into the shop as Harry held the door.
And when inside, the girl's eyes grew wide and brightened. To her it very well could have been Christmas with the crackling fire and chairs and all the books. She honestly had missed the gentleman and couldn't help a mousy squeak when he spoke. A smile came to her lips and she nodded. [b "Thank you, sir.."] The girl said as soon she and Harry were moving towards the sheleves that were neatly labeled.
Brown eyes were on the tags that told them the genres and she moved to a learher bound book stroking its spine. [b "That depends..would you like to look for pleasure or some work?"] She said as she was already looking through some that were for magical law through the ages.
Harry carefully held a jelly-filled pastry in one hand, staring at it as though it was the holy grail. One bite and he was in heaven. He accidentally stumbled in his distraction, bumping into Hermione slightly as she moved closer in the chilled breeze. He casually tossed an arm around her shoulders, feeling brave under the influence of the firewhisky. [b "Shopping is definitely next on the to-do list. It'll keep us out of the wind."]
The first store they came upon was the used bookshop he had been telling her about. It stood out in the cluttered row of old buildings, with its brand-new construction and shiny gold-lettered sign hanging above the door. [b "After you,"] Harry held the door open for her.
The smell of old books and crackling fire was warm and welcoming. A friendly-looking gentleman stood behind the counter, perking up at the sight of customers. [i "Welcome welcome! First group of the day! Please have a look around and help yourself to the complimentary tea. There are chairs by the fire if you find anything you'd like to browse through."]
Everything was organized with tags stating the genres above each shelf. The store seemed to stretch much farther back than the exterior let on. [b "Where should we start?"] Harry looked to his companion with a grin.
Harry did have a point. As scary as their head of house could be at times, the woman was actually a kitten when compared with Umbridge. McGonagall only stared with her steely and unwavering gaze. The pink demon happened to give her little smiles and then talk which made you sick to your stomach along with those quills of hers. Just the thought sent chills through her spine and she had to quickly push the thought out of her head. Yeah, she would take the Deputy Headmistress any day for detention.
[b "Never thought I would say this but McGonagall and detention sounds pretty good."] She said with a giggle, still rather tipsy. The boy had had more to drink than she had, but she still was horrid when it came to drinks. It had been something she had NOT told to Harry because it was something she had not wanted to admit. And she too couldn't help a faint purrish noise when the coolness of the snow and wind had hit her flushed cheeks. It did a wonder to help with the smoldering heat of the alcohol.
[b "The bakery sounds so good. Sweets always go dowb so easily and so does fresh bread."] Her words were more chipper than they should have been but yeah. She was still tipsy. Soon they were in the bakery and she was looking over all the pasties and breads. At least she managed NOT to plaster her face to the glass in order to see the displays and was a little better behaved than the boy. Though the man did not look impressed with either of them from how he stared at their flushed cheeks and glossy eyes.
As soon as they had their treats, Hermione was tugging Harry out of the shop. The wind by now was starting to seem colder as she was slowly sobering up and so she huddled closer to the boy. [b "S-still up for s-shopping?"]
[b "I'd honestly rather sit through hours of detention with McGonagall, cleaning her classroom and writing essays than detention with that pink nightmare,"] he snorted a laugh, though he wasn't quite sure why he thought it funny. [b "McGonagall just stares at you with those steely eyes. It's less unnerving than being in the same room as Umbridge."]
Leaning on each other for support, he led her down the creaky stairs. [b "Alright. New mission: find food. You're right, we need to soak up this alcohol. And for some reason it's made me quite hungry,"] he stumbled over his words like he was stumbling over his feet.
Outside, the cool afternoon breeze hit his face. [b "Oh Merlin, that's refreshing,"] he closed his eyes momentarily to feel the chill on his heated face.
Harry couldn't quite remember how many drinks they'd each had, but it was enough to make the world around him feel slightly tilted. Grasping Hermione's hand, he took a deep breath and focused. [b "Alright. What do you think about going to the bakery? Less likely to be busy, and there's all those fresh pastries waiting for us,"] he looked at her, blinking rapidly so she would stop appearing to violently sway.
It was like entering heaven the moment they stepped foot in the store. Fresh breads and sugary snacks assaulted Harry's senses, and he nearly plastered his face against the display rack to pick out what he wanted. The shopkeeper looked less than impressed with his glassy eyes and flushed appearance, but Harry plastered on a smile and spoke slowly so as to not stammer over his order.
His words did his closer to home than the boy probably realised that they would. No other students seemed to have to worry in the sense that he did...and she did because she worried about him. Each time they turned around there was something more to deal with. Voldenort, Malfoy, Snape, and this year Umbridge seemed to be added to the list. Was ONE normal year of homework and classes really too much to ask for? Of course none of that she would be voicing to Harry. It wouldn't do any good as she KNEW he felt the same way she did. Perhaps felt it all the more than she did as it was him that everyone and everything seemed to be after.
Brown eyes followed the arm that the boy managed to lift with effort after awhile. Her head tilted as she was curious. But then when she heard his words and galnced to the window, the girl flinched a bit. It seemed easily a couple of hours had passed rather than just a few minutes. And he was right..if they didn't head back soon there would be no shopping and there would definitely be a scolding from their head of house.
[b "We probably should get some snacks to help. Heaven knows we both need it."] She said with a giggle as she watched him get to his feet and tumble a bit. As soon as he was on his feet, the girl got to her own and near tumbled herself. She was having a hard time keeping balance as the room seemed to be doing waves. What she really wanted was to be back on the floor lying down and wait for the room to stop spinning. [b "Oh she will have our heads for sure. And we'll never get out of detentions either."] Hermione said, moving to take his hand when she was able to move
[b "This is my favourite Hermione,"] he declared. [b "Smiling and relaxed. I just wish we didn't need firewhisky to de-stress. No other fifteen year olds deal with what we have to. It'd be nice to just be a regular teenager who gets to make stupid mistakes, wouldn't it?"]
Merlin knew he'd give anything to make it through a single school year without any extracurricular conflicts. He'd even be happy to sit and do homework if it meant they didn't have to plan how to survive another attack. He'd never complain about homework again, so long as Voldemort and his followers didn't try to kill them.
It took a bit of effort, but Harry managed to raise his arm to look at the time on his watch. [b "We should go soon, if we're going to shop before we go back to school,"] he noted. [b "Maybe get some snacks to soak up some of the alcohol,"] he grinned.
Getting to his feet, he felt the room spin briefly. He braced himself to take a tumble, but caught his footing and beamed triumphantly. Holding out a hand, he helped her to her feet. [b "McGonagall would have our heads if she saw us right now,"] he snorted a laugh. [b "'This is not how respectable Gryffindor's act!'"] he mimicked her voice as best as he could, butchering the Scottish accent.
The girl listened to what Harry had said. Would he have ever told her any of this had they both not been half intoxicated? Probably half of what they were saying now was because they had no real means of filter to their minds. So whatever was in the head seemed to slip off the tongue. It was at this rate both a blessing and curse. But if she was going to be spilling any of this, Hermione was happy it was to him. And she was happy he seemed confortable enough to tell her all that he had.
Her thoughts did spin for a few moments and were only brought back into a clearer focous when he explained WHY the Quidditch player was the lie. And when he did it completely made sense. His whole life since he had entered thr wizarding world had been like that of a celeberity and to have that for more years to come sounded like it would be maddening. So she truly did feel for her best friend. Though none of those thoughts did the girl speak out loud.
A soft laugh slipped from her lips and she shook jer head as he face became a dark pink. [b "We always said it would happen. I can only imagine the praise you will get and the scolding."] She said, thinking of both Lupin and Sirius. One would surely laugh and give them more tips on getting into trouble, whereas the other would scold them and make them feel bad only because he cared and would not want them in trouble. It was a very funny comparison.
Slowly her fingers brushed through his hair and she stuck her tongue out at him. [b "You've seen this side to me more than once...but honestly it's nice we both have the chance to relax and to have some fun."]
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