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[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."]
The night spent in the boy's dorm and with Harry had been one of the best sleeps she had actually gotten in at least a week. Granted it had mostly been potion induced but still nice. There were actually none of the nightmares she had been having or no buzzing of the mind. Instead her dreams had been mostly based upon talks she and Harry had had about futures they hoped for..and her own of things she wanted. But she would not voice it. Or rather could not. They weren't even a proper couple and she didn't know if they could be. Though god did she want it.
The girl woke to the shuffling of the boys and hearing them and their conversation. She did not make any moves and kept her eyes shut. Honestly she had not meant to stay in the boys' domitory all night but she had not wanted to go back to the girls' either. What was better even was she WOULD probably be reemed for skipping out on prefect duty and patrols. It would be fun having to face the Gryffindor head of house. What would she even tell McGonagall? It wasn't like she could say anything because Umbridge would go after her and Harry much more so. Herself she wasn't worry about but she was Harry.
It was the gentle shake that had her eyes flutter open and she looked up at him. Very slowly did she push herself up to sitting, her muscles still aching abit from the day before. [b "Seems we did...And I'm sorry..I swear I meant to go back to my bed and not take yours.."] She said with a deep pink in her cheeks.
When Harry woke the next morning, it was to the sound of the other boys getting ready. Glancing down to make sure that Hermione was still asleep, he carefully extracted himself from the bed, slamming the curtains shut behind him so they wouldn't see inside. Ron was the first to notice. [i "Feeling alright?"] he asked, a knowing concern in his eyes.
[b "Yeah, much better. How were tryouts?"] Harry replied.
Ron beamed, chest puffed out proudly. [i "McLaggen didn't stand a chance. He was making mistakes left right and center! I'm almost guaranteed the position."]
He smiled at his friend's enthusiasm. [b "That's great, Ron. I'm happy for you."]
[i "Surprised you missed tryouts, Harry,"] Neville joined the conversation, pulling his sweater on. [i "Figured you'd be right in the middle of everything Quidditch related. Like Wood."]
[b "I wasn't feeling very well after dinner. I asked the twins to take over, so I could sleep it off before Hogsmead. I trust their judgment,"] Harry swiftly lied.
As the other boys filed out of the room to get breakfast before leaving, Harry felt a bit of the pressure leave his chest. Ron stopped at the door, glancing back to make sure they wouldn't be overheard. [i "She's alright, then?"] he nodded in the direction of Harry's bed.
[b "A little worse for wear last night, but the potion seemed to help. She needed the rest, I didn't want to wake her,"] Harry sighed.
[i "She can use the cloak to get back to the girls' dorm without anyone noticing. I think Lavender is still taking her time getting ready,"] Ron said before closing the door behind him.
Glancing back to his bed, Harry drew the curtains back. Sitting down, he placed a hand on her arm and gave her a slight shake. [b "I think we slept a bit late,"] he smiled down at her. [b "Time to get up."]
The potion seemed to be getting to the both of them. The girl assumed she still had at least some of her wits about her. Or she really did hope so. [b "Of course..it's your bed and you haven't got to ask."] She said as he had motioned to the empty spot beside her.
Hermione moved over as much as she could to give him room too but had to keep her eyes on the ceiling. She was scared what would happen if she looked at the boy. Already she seemed loose lip enoug and so what would she end up doing if their eyes met? It was silly but with the potion she seemed to act before she thought.
It was when his arms were around her and she heard the soft snoring did Hermione realize that Harry was completely asleep. Being in his arms felt so nice.. safe even. Should she have liked it as much as she did? Probably not but it didn't change that she felt protected. And gently she removed his glasses and used her wand to make them levitate to the bedside table. Once she did that, the girl did find herself curl against the boy and fell into sleep herself. No longer could she fight it.
He felt a dopey smile stretch on his face. [b "Alright. The day is still on, then. Until then, we rest up so we're not limping around all afternoon."]
Harry shifted around, trying to find a place that was a bit more comfortable than trying to lean against a bed post. [b "Do you mind if..."] he trailed off, gesturing to the space beside her.
The dorm beds weren't made to hold much more than one person, but it would work well enough for them both. He stayed close to the edge of the bed, not wanting to press against her and cause any strain on her injuries. He laid his head next to hers on the pillow, but forced himself to remain staring straight up at the ceiling.
If he looked into her eyes when they were this close together, he might do something absolutely stupid. Like kiss her.
[b "Food, shopping, and adventure. Sounds like a good start for a first date,"] he mumbled groggily, feeling his eyes closed once more.
This time the potion kept him asleep. Soft snores came from his nose, and he'd been too tired to even remove his glasses. Used to holding a pillow to his chest while sleeping, muscle memory caused him to roll sideways and wrap an arm around her waist.
[b "We both know you're too stubborn and want to try and last as long as you can.. But after seeing and feeling what she had done I wondered why you didn't. I'm sorry I should have gotten on you and made you do this way sooner."] The girl whispered as she had her eyes closed. And she really did mean it. She was literally kicking herself mentally for letting him suffer all day.
Her eyes opened when she heard the curtains move around the bed and her head tilted. She had been about to ask Harry, but he beat her to it and explained. And it was a very good explanation and idea too. Honestly she was tired and knew he was too. The other boys would be interested in their own thing and so Ron really would be their only probably when it came to it. [b "Oh we definitely won't live this down for a long while with him.. But at least we know he'll let us rest before the hard time.."] She said softly as the pair of them were laying side by side. Maybe one day they would have this freedom and not just because they were hurt. It was a nice thought at least.
Hermione looked to Harry when he shifted and he spoke his words. Slowly the girl shook her head. [b "I don't want to... I've been looking forward to this all week...and besides it's just what we need after that nightmare. So don't worry."] The girl said as her hand moved to take his and give a gentle squeeze.
His body felt like a bowl of jell-o. If he tried getting off the bed, he would likely face-plant onto the floor. If they weren't careful, they would both fall asleep and no doubt end up caught by Ron's smug face. [b "Feeling much better than I did this morning. I should have done this right away,"] he admitted.
While his consciousness was still with him, Harry had enough sense to wave his wand to draw the curtains around his bed. Another spell ensured they stayed shut and silent. He settled down onto the mattress, staring up at the pattern above them. [b "The other boys won't care to check why my curtains shut, and Ron will leave us be. Granted, there'll be a fair amount of teasing later on, but for now, he'll let us rest,"] he sighed.
His brain was getting foggy. Was this what being content felt like? It wouldn't be so terrible to have this time with her when they were both in good health and not under the influence of pain medicine. Side by side without prying eyes disrupting them, all the time in the world to do absolutely nothing.
Harry's eyes shot open right as they completely closed. Sitting up, he looked down at her with a look of concern. [b "If you aren't better tomorrow, I'll understand if we have to postpone our Hogsmead day. I don't want you to strain yourself if you're still in pain."] The last thing he wanted was to look like a total jerk, forcing her to walk all day with him after having suffered an Unforgivable Curse.
Hermione peeked at Harry when she heard his words. The girl almost expected to be teased or asked about it. But when he spoke she smiled even. [b "Maybe I can help there. You know give you a better chance."] Oh dear she had not meant to say that but she had. As horrid as the medicine had been it truly did wonders.
Her parents actually didn't know EVERY time she got into trouble it was because she was helping Harry. The girl had just left it as there were some mysteries around and she wanted to figure it out. She had even told them how he had saved her quite a few times. So really they didn't hate him but just were more curious of who the boy that their daughter seemed so fond on. Though, Hermione did not see this a good time to mention all of that. She actually figured when he saw how hopeless she could be in romance and such he would run.
[b "It's actually helped a lot...I can't feel it anymore at all.. Well I actually can't feel."] She admitted with a soft yawn. It was so relaxing and did have the girl almost tired. Okay it had her giving into the exhaustion she had been fighting. [b "And you..how do you feel?"]
He grinned at her blush. [b "So I have a year to make him like me?"] he teased, feeling a little more loose-lipped under the relaxation of the drug. [b "Challenge accepted."]
Harry hadn't had much of an opportunity to speak with her parents, other than quick greetings on the train platform every September and June. Hermione had never given her parents a reason not to trust her, but he was essentially a stranger to them. Not to mention, he was the reason their daughter was in danger almost every other month. Harry couldn't help but doubt that he would be an ideal choice for a boyfriend, in her father's eyes.
[i Don't get ahead of yourself, Potter], he scolded himself. It was a bit early to be throwing around labels like that. Besides, they hadn't even gone on a date. So far it was just bashful flirting. She might change her mind when she would inevitably find out how utterly pathetic he was at the whole romance thing.
He'd lost feeling in his feet, and the magic was slowly working its way up his legs to his abdomen. He wouldn't be surprised if he ended up falling asleep under the relaxing magic. [b "Are you starting to feel any better?"] he asked her after a small stretch of comfortable silence.
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