AN: So, this plot came to me as I was driving home from work one day, listening to the radio. I promptly challenged my friends to write a story as well. And I should add - it's a waste of time. Complete fluff, silliness. You will be out nothing if you skip this entirely. But if you can guess the song - let me know! :)
I haven't forgotten about Paint Her Black. I haven't. I'll finish it. My muse has taken a cruise to Fiji and stayed there. Please send any spare muse you may have captive in my direction. S/He would be most appreciated.
Beta love: Pagan Ianthe
Disclaimer: HP and the HP Universe are the property of JKR and her assigns. I make no money from the publishing of this flight of fancy.
Hermione's lips twisted as she re-read the letter. An owl? Really? Not even a Floo call? She'd never gotten a "Dear Hermione" letter before. Even Krum had the decency to talk with her when their relationship was ending.
"What a bellend." She crumpled the letter and tossed it into the trash. "I survived the war; I can survive this." She wiped a stray tear away from her face angrily. "He's not going to get the best of me." Tossing her wild hair behind her shoulder, she strode from her small kitchen flat to the bedroom. She had to get ready for work, and she'd be damned if, when she ran into him, she was going to look like some jilted wilting flower. She wouldn't give him the satisfaction, the wanker.
"An owl. Coward can't even face me. We've known each other for a decade and he doesn't have the balls to tell me to my face he doesn't want to date anymore?"
She didn't even realize, in her anger, that she was a bit relieved. She'd known the relationship certainly wasn't headed anywhere permanent.
Across town, in the newly renovated Grimmauld Place, Harry sat stewing over the news Ron had just delivered. "You're sure? You saw her out with Nott?"
"Yeah, mate; I'm sorry. I know you liked her."
"Did she see you?"
Ron nodded regretfully. "Yeah, we made eye contact. She definitely saw me."
They sat in silence that was soon interrupted by a knock at the door. The row that followed was ugly, but it was over. And Harry couldn't help but feel a bit relieved. Odd feeling, that. He'd really liked her.
Two weeks later on a Saturday morning, Hermione opened her morning copy of the Daily Prophet, and on the front of the society pages, there was an engagement announcement. She was definitely going out tonight and she wouldn't be coming home alone if she had anything to do with it. To hell with this.
At Grimmauld Place, Harry, who normally flipped through the society pages without slowing down on the way to the sports section, paused when he saw the picture of his ex-girlfriend. Unbelievable. She was hanging onto Nott's arm for some gallery opening. How long had she been playing them both? He was definitely going out tonight. And he wouldn't be alone when he came home. To hell with this.
The band playing at the Nearly Headless Horseman was actually pretty good. Harry wasn't much of a singer, or a dancer for that matter, but he was enjoying the music and signaled the server for another shot of Fire Whiskey as he threw back his second of the night. He'd gotten a really good seat, actually. He was in the back corner in a semi-circular booth. He could see the entire room and no one could approach him from the back. But he was watching the crowd moving on the floor in rhythm and missed someone approaching from the side.
"Hey,stranger." A familiar voice came from his left as Hermione sat a nearly empty martini glass beside his now upended, empty shot glass and slid into the booth, scooting around so that she too could see everyone and everything.
He grinned at her conspiratorially. "Hey, stranger to you. They keeping you busy in Magical Creatures?"
"Just about as busy as you in the Auror department. I heard a rumor that you are being considered for Senior Auror. Youngest in history. Care to comment?" She tipped back the martini glass and poured the final drops into her mouth.
He shrugged. "Maybe. We'll see."
She nudged him with her shoulder. "Don't be modest."
Harry took the new shot from the server and gestured to Hermione's empty glass. "She'll have another. Put it on my tab. And go ahead and bring me another. But put it on the rocks."
"Actually, I think I'll have a Jack and Seven," she corrected him with an easy grin. "But you can definitely put it on his tab."
"Right away." The waiter turned and headed directly for the bar.
"So what brings you here tonight?" She gestured to his small collection of empty glasses. "You don't drink Fire Whiskey to celebrate."
"It's stupid." He looked a mite embarrassed. "Romilda and I broke up a couple of weeks ago, and I saw a picture of her in the paper with the guy she was cheating on me with."
"She was cheating? Seriously?"
"Seriously." He tossed back the shot and slammed the glass onto the table upside down. "What about you? Last I heard you were all lovey-dovey too."
"Ugh. He's a wanker."
"Well, yeah. But you knew that going in. Still doesn't answer the question."
"We broke up a couple of weeks ago. The prick sent me an owl. Couldn't even face me. Thank you." She addressed the waiter who left the fresh drinks and collected all the empties. "And then this morning I saw his picture in the paper, announcing his engagement."
"His engagement? You're taking the Mickey, aren't you?" Disbelief rang in his voice. When she shook her head, he continued, "well, drinks are on me tonight. And you deserve better than that tosser."
"That's what I think too." Hermione took a sip of her cocktail while Harry sipped his whiskey. "So, what are the plans for tonight?"
"Well, I thought I'd enjoy a few drinks, forget her, and go home - "
"Excuse me, Mr. Potter, Miss Granger -" an eager voice interrupted him. An earnest young man with a camera in hand waved at them. "Would you mind? A picture?"
Harry and Hermione exchanged a glance. "Sure, why not?" He hooked his arm around her shoulder and pulled her closer, her hand resting on his thigh under the table. As the photo was processing, he leaned over and kissed her on the cheek. Her wide smile was the last frame of the moving picture.
"That's perfect," the photographer enthused. "Thanks so much!"
As he moved away into the crowd, the band started a slow number. "Do you want to dance?"
"I'll always dance with you." He slid along the booth and held his hand out to her and swept her onto the dance floor into his arms.
They didn't see the photographer take several more pictures as they slow danced. She rested her head on his shoulder. "I'm glad I ran into you tonight. I don't want to go home alone."
"You'll never have to worry about that with me around." He pulled her slightly closer so their chests and hips were pressed together on the crowded floor. They swayed, wordlessly. The song segued into a faster tune, and they slipped back to their booth, signaling the waiter for another round.
"Do we want to get a cab?" .
Harry shot her an infectious grin. "I've got a tab; let's do a shot, then we'll get a cab." After another round, he slammed the glass down onto the table and leaned over, slowly, giving her plenty of time to object. And just before his lips brushed hers, he asked, "is this okay?" She nodded, and they paused for just a moment, lips barely touching, breathing in each other's air. He carded his fingers through her tousled hair and firmly pressed his lips to hers.
His lips were firm and slightly moist and sucked her bottom lip into his mouth before deepening the kiss, swirling his tongue about hers. Her hands slipped behind him as she leaned in closer to press her chest against his. Vaguely, she felt rather than saw a flash of light in her peripheral vision. But she discarded any thought of it and leaned back to whisper, "Let's go home."
He pulled back and searched her eyes. "Are you sure you want to go home with me?"
"I don't want this night to end here," she answered.
On Sunday morning, Ron scrubbed his face as he staggered toward the bathroom. Hermione was slipping out of Harry's bedroom headed in the same direction. "Morning, 'Mione," he said through a jaw-cracking yawn.
"Morning, Ron. You can go ahead."
"No, ladies first." He leaned against the wall, head back, and closed his eyes as she shut the door behind her. His eyes flew open as the latch clicked shut. He pushed off and made a beeline for Harry's room, throwing the door open ahead of him. It banged against the wall and rebounded, almost hitting him in the face. His hand flew up, halting the door's trajectory for his nose. "Mate, something you want to tell me?"
Harry was sitting on the side of his bed, settling his glasses on his face. He grabbed the sheet and wrapped it around his bare waist. "No. Not really."
"She's one of our best friends! What were you thinking?"
"It wasn't like that, and you know it. I'd never hurt her."
Ron stood, staring, eyes narrowed. "No, I don't guess it was." A sudden grin flitted across his face. "About time." He turned to head back to the bathroom, passing Hermione on her way back in the room. He paused to brush her hair back and tuck a lock behind her ear. "You tell me if he's not good to you, yeah?" He threw a glance back at the obviously naked Harry on the bed. "I'll beat his arse."
She watched him go and swung back around to Harry. "What just happened?"
He stood up, twisting the sheet more securely about his waist. "Well, I think Ron just gave us his blessing."
"Did we need it?"
He shook his head slowly, smiling as he walked across the room to meet her. When he stopped in front of her, he pulled the hair Ron had tucked behind her ear free and watched the curl bounce. He gazed into her eyes. "No, I don't think we did. But it doesn't hurt to have it." He leaned down and kissed her, gently. "Any regrets?"
She opened her eyes slowly and shook her head. "No. None."
On Monday morning, Romilda Vane gaped at the cover of the Witchy Dish. Unbelievable. He was supposed to be jealous, demand that they get back together, that she dump Theo. He wasn't supposed to get cozy with Hermione!
"Did you see?" Pansy giggled as she waved the current episode of the Witchy Dish at Astoria. Draco simply looked bored. "Granger apparently hooked up with Potter Saturday night at the Nearly Headless Horseman. Her hair is still terrible, of course. But they were looking very cozy. There's even a picture of them kissing and leaving together."
Draco shifted infinitesimally in his chair and pulled a watch out of his vest pocket. "Astoria, we're due to meet mother at half three. We really need to be getting along."
Later that night he pulled a copy of the gossip rag from his briefcase and stared at the pictures of his ex-girlfriend. She looked happy, if a bit tipsy. She'd certainly never kissed him that way. Potter - it just had to be Potter.
He balled up the magazine and tossed it into the fire.
If you liked it, please review! And let me know if you can guess the song. :)