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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."]
Harry shrugged. [b "I was upset about Cho initially, but then I forgot all about her when I saw Krum dancing with you. I almost demanded he get his hands off you, but I didn't think you'd like me being possessive like that. And I didn't want to ruin your night. Unfortunately, it seemed like Ron managed to do that anyway,"] he recalled how angry the redhead had been.
As expected, she was right. Harry finished off the last bit of the bottle, feeling more giddy than anything. [b "Can you imagine how awful that life would be?"] he hiccuped. [b "I've already got people following my every move like a celebrity. I wouldn't want any more of that in my life. Cameras and media and interviews?"] he shuddered. [b "I'd go absolutely insane."]
Holding up the empty firewhisky bottle, he tipped it upside down. [b "I think our mischief has been managed,"] he grinned like an idiot, face red and eyes blown wide. [b "I think this makes you an honorary Marauder, Hermione Granger. Sirius will be so proud. And Lupin will definitely blame me for corrupting you."]
Feeling brave from the liquor, he rotated himself and laid back so his head was in her lap. [b "I like you like this,"] he reached a hand up to run a finger along her jaw. [b "Relaxed and smiling. I hate that you're so stressed all the time. You deserve to have fun, too."]
A faint smile traced her lips when he snorted back the laugh. The one about the exams had been her lie. And honestly she had been surprised to have said it so straight-faced herself. [b "You know I almost did start laughing when I said it. But I thought to make this one easy.."] She said as she leaned back against the wall, letting her eyes trail to the window for a moment.
She could not believe what she had just admitted. The girl had been so sure she would never tell Harry or Ron how hurt she had been. Or how much she thought that they only thought of her as "one of the guys". Both of those things had come out in their sense just in her telling Harry why she had agreed to be Viktor's date for the Yule Ball. And mentally she was kicking herself for that.
Slowly she peeked to the boy and her cheeks were a dark red. [b "I knew you had been miserable..but I had assumed that was because you had been watching Cho.. I..I never knew you regretted that we didn't go together."] Yeah her mind was faintly hazy and she was not watching what she said as carefully as she usually did. And when he said about the next dance a soft laugh escaped her. [b "Careful I may hold you to it."]
And once more the boy took his turn. [b "You want the peaceful cottage and a family of your own..but I think the Quidditch player is the lie here.. And this time I'm not saying any whys to that."] She said and gave a small smie
Harry snorted a laugh. [b "I'm impressed that you managed to say that with a straight face, but I can promise you that I already know you're looking forward to our exams more than anything. That is a bold faced lie, Miss Granger."]
It made him a bit sad to think she assumed no one would ask her to the Yule Ball, aside from Viktor. He'd been kicking himself for the rest of the year that he hadn't asked her first, with a bubble of jealousy surging in his chest every time he saw Krum hanging around her. Ron may have been annoyed that a celebrity was following her around like a lovesick puppy, but Harry had been nervous that the Quidditch player's charm would win Hermione over.
[b "I'm sorry we were such prats about it,"] he apologized. [b "You looked beautiful. I was miserable the whole night, which I don't think made my date very happy,"] he grinned. [b "I promise that next time we have a school dance, I will be the first in line with flowers and chocolates and a stack of books to ask you to be my date."]
Taking the bottle from her, he tried to come up with one last round of truths and a lie. [b "Alright. Let's see here. One day I want to have a family of my own. I want to play professional Quidditch. And I'd like to live in a countryside cottage."]
He hadn't upset her at all. The truth was she had never known how he truly felt. It both pleased her and made her a little skittish. It almost made her wonder if they had both felt like this the whole time why they had never said. But then she remembered how Ginny felt about Harry and also how they were so close. Neither it seemed had wanted to test those waters or to make things awkward.
Those were her thoughts and why she had been so quiet. It was his blurted out words that had caught her attention and pulled her out of her thoughts. Slowly, the girl shook her and gave the boy a small smile. [b "You didn't upset me at all. Just I never knew..so thank you. It means a lot..especially since it's you. You know I've always got your back and will be there to help you."] And when he mentioned their bouncing ferret and the punch she had given him their third year, the girl laughed. [b "That did feel really good. So Malfoy I can handle."]
And after a moment she reached over and took the bottle from him. [b "I believe it's my turn now."] She said with a small smirk. [b "I only went to the Yule Ball with Viktor because he asked and I didn't think anyone else would. I enjoy being so clever and always being the top of the class, and I am dreading our first set of exams."]
He grinned down at her. [b "I could hear you over all of the others, you know,"] he teased. [b "You're quite loud when you need to be. I thought you'd scare the dragon off just with your yelling."]
It made him a bit giddy that she'd enjoyed their time together as well. Even if it was under less than ideal circumstances. He had gasped onto her with desperation and fear, and was eternally grateful that she hadn't let him fall when everyone else had abandoned him. She was the one constant he had.
[b "I hated that the second task made me choose between you and Ron. I tried going back for both of you, but the mermaids kind of hated that. Not as friendly as the muggle books would make you believe,"] he said, remembering the jabs from their spears.
[b "I didn't mean to upset you, or anything, just now,"] he blurted out, noticing that she'd gotten a bit quiet. [b "I just...couldn't stand the thought of disappointing you. I can handle anyone else being upset at me, but never you. You're the only one that I know is in my corner no matter what. So I just want you to know, that I'm always going to be behind you, as well. Anything you need, I'm there. Though if it's to punch Malfoy in the face, I'm fairly sure you managed that better than I could,"] he joked to lighten the mood, fondly recalling the punch she'd landed on the blond ferret back in third year.
When she had to drink, the girl gave him a faint pout. She had been so sure that she had caught the lie. But the game said if they got it wrong they had to drink. And so being a good girl and playing by the rules, Hermione took the sip from the whiskey and yet agwin it burned going down. She swore she would never get used to it.
As she handed the bottle back to the boy, the girl leaned back against him more. Her eyes were staring ahead of them. She was waiting to hear what the lie was. Or HOW it was the lie. And when he began, her head turned and brown gaze had fallen on him. So she HAD caught the lie and was about to scold him for making her drink. But her mouth quickly snapped shut and her cheeks coloured a red that would make even lobsters and roses jealous as he explained it to her.
[b "I-I could never have been disappointed in or with you Harry. I never minded those long hours or trying to help you. It made me feel useful and it also meant that we got to spend time together...I actually looked forward to the lessons... But I will admit that during the whole tournament I was scared to death.."] She explaind and rested her head on her lap.
Harry grinned wickedly. He'd managed to catch her, though he hadn't expected it to work. The firewhisky bottle was held out to her. [b "Drink up, Granger. You got it wrong."]
He was extremely smug as he watched her take the drink, proud of himself for having gotten a point over her. Truth be told, he didn't care about winning the First Task - or any of them - at all, but the reason behind it was the lie. Sitting back against the wall, he leaned against her a bit more.
[b "You were right that the lie was me disappointed about not winning, but you got the reasoning wrong,"] he explained.
Harry's mind flashed back to all the late nights she'd spent with him practicing, going over and over the accio spell until he got it completely right. [b "The thing I was most afraid of during the First Task was disappointing you."]
He gave her a sheepish smile. [b "You'd worked so hard with me and lost so much sleep trying to teach me that bloody spell, I was terrified that I was going to screw it all up and disappoint you. I was afraid all your work was going to go to waste, and you'd be upset with me. Honestly, thinking you were going to be disappointed in me was far more upsetting than being chased by a bloodthirsty dragon."]
Her cheeks seemed to decide to fluch as he gently teased her over being able to figure her out. It was kind of true that he did pay attention. Apparently more than she herself has been aware of. Honestly she had thought it would take a little longer in his finguring out her lie. But at the same time she could say she was glad it hadn't.
The girl listened to him tick off his next round and gave a small smile. It wasn't like she didn't pay attention truly. But this one was a little bit harder. Just a bit. [b "I wouldn't know about Chriatmas our first year because I had gone home for the holiday...but given what you have said about your aunt and uncle they weren't keen to let you have anything nice or on holidays... So that one is the truth... And honestly what you had been most afraid of was dying during the first task... not coming in last because you didn't even want to be a part of the tournament..so there was your lie.."] The girl said quietly.
This was nice. She would have never expected telling her best friend she had feelings for him..or that they would actually kind of be on a date in the place they nearly died trying to get to their third year. But then she truly had to remember that NOTHING since they had been at Hogwarts was ordinary or played out to expectations. It was in itself some form of messed up story and they its characters. And at that thought, Hermione let out a soft laugh. She really was starting to get a little tipsy off the whiskey alread.
[b "So..do I have it right?"]
Harry pretended to bow, smiling proudly. [b "I like to think I've paid enough attention to you over the years to figure you out, Miss Granger,"] he teased.
It was a little harder to come up with a lie for the second round. She'd guessed his first one so quickly that he doubted he'd be able to fool her at all. [b "Alright. Round two,"] his nose scrunched in thought.
[b "My favourite drink is pumpkin juice,"] he counted off on his fingers. [b "My first Christmas present was a sweater that Mrs Weasley knitted me in first year. And the thing that scared me most during the First Task was coming in last place."]
Harry's cheeks were starting to flush under the influence of the firewhisky. His face felt warm and his body was cozy, pressing against hers. He'd never thought that the place they'd nearly died getting to in third year would make such a peaceful spot for a date. He was almost positive he had a dopey smile on his face. Everything about the afternoon so far had been perfect.
His hands fiddled with the bottle, gauging how much they had left. Madam Rosmerta hadn't given them her biggest bottle, but rather one slightly bigger than a mickey's worth. There was still half a bottle's worth, which was sure to keep them comfortable. [b "Guess away, Granger,"] he challenged.
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