Hold My Butterbeer
"How do we do this, Lady Hermione?" asked Miles.
"Do what, Miles?"
"Clothing, among other things," Miles answered. "Can't show up in the mundane world dressed in these things."
"Oh." Hermione thought a bit. "Elves, hopefully. Dobby?"
Dobby popped in. "Master Harry's Grangy called me?"
"Dobby, can you get our muggle clothing for us?" Hermione asked. Dobby nodded and popped away. Seconds later, he appeared again with two trunks, shrunk into the size of a match box.
"Tap trunks with yous wand, Mistress. Take what you need, tap again, will shrink."
"Thank you, Dobby. If I call again, will you be able to come?"
"Yes, Mistress. Master told me to. Also you, Mister Miles."
"Thanks, Dobby," Miles said. Turning to Hermione, Miles said "Milady, we can change in one of these classrooms." Hermione nodded as they entered one of the abandoned classrooms. Dobby followed, waved a hand, and changing screens appeared in two corners.
When they emerged, Dobby was waiting. "Dobby can pop you wherever yous needs to go," he said. "Must go to gates first," he added.
Once outside Hogwarts' gates, Hermione told Dobby "Take us to Diagon Alley, Dobby, just outside the Leaky." Outside the Leaky Cauldron, Hermione charmed the two of them with a glamour, appearing as a middle-aged nondescript wizarding couple. They sat at a corner table near the muggle entrance, Miles ordered butterbeers for the two of them. The next time someone emerged from the Leaky's floo, they quietly left through the muggle entrance. Standing in the shadows, Hermione cancelled their glamours.
Miles hailed a taxi and told the cabbie to take them to the May Fair Hotel. They sat in comfortable silence, Miles tipped the cabbie £5 when they arrived. Hermione quirked an eyebrow. "He'll remember the tip, and a teenage couple," Miles said quietly. "Not much else." He checked his watch. "A light supper, then your parents," he suggested. Hermione nodded. "Can you afford this, Miles?"
He laughed quietly. "Yes, milady. As long as you don't order foi gras or caviar."
"You order, Miles. Seafood would be nice, it's apparently a foreign dish at Hoggy." He nodded in agreement.
The maitre d' hotel looked up as they entered the restaurant. "M. Longstreet, it has been some time."
They shook hand briefly, during which a £20 note disappeared. "It has, Frederick. I've been away at school. A quiet table, preferably in a corner, if you can."
"But of course, M. Longstreet."
A waiter appeared behind the maitre d' hotel when they were seated. "We'll begin with the soup of the day," Miles told him. "Followed by prawns for two, and whatever the chef recommends in the way of seafood. Vichy water with lemon to start, we may have tea or coffee later." The waiter nodded.
Shortly thereafter, a sealed bottle of mineral water, two glasses, and a small plate of lemon slices was delivered. The soup, it turned out, was bouillabaisse. Hermione was delighted.
"Vichy water? Really, Miles, you're beginning to sound as if this were out of Casablanca." She giggled.
"We'll always have London," Miles deadpanned. Hermione giggled again, then attacked her soup.
Sometime later, after Hermione had demolished her half of the prawns, and a third of Miles', she asked "How is it you're known here, Miles?" He took a sip of water, obviously stalling. "Well?"
Miles sighed. "My dad. He's the Assistant Naval Attaché at the Embassy." He looked across the restaurant. "Hence, the quiet corner table."
"With a view of the entire room, and three steps from the kitchen door," Hermione observed.
"That, too," Miles responded. "You don't miss much, Lady Hermione."
"Is that how you know about my father?"
"Holders of the VC aren't exactly unknown in the mundane world," Miles observed.
"Rheged isn't," Hermione observed. "At least as far as Americans go." Fortunately, sea bass fillets stuffed with mushrooms and lobster arrived, saving Miles for a while. Hermione made delighted noises and dug in.
When they were done, a plate of cheeses arrived, it was followed by tea and a lemon mousse.
Miles patted his lips with his napkin, then glanced at his watch. "I guess we've put this off as long as we can," he observed. "Unless you want an evening at the theatre also."
Hermione shook her head. "No," she said in a regretful tone, "as much as I would enjoy it, no. Thank you for a wonderful meal, Miles."
Their waiter came over in response to a glance from Miles. Their heads hovered briefly. "Sip at your water or tea, Hermione," Miles said softly, "and prepare to leave when I tell you." He reached inside his jacket for a note-case, and laid three £100 notes under the edge of his dessert plate. A £50 note was slipped into his jacket pocket.
Almost immediately after that, a scrum of wait staff hurried from the kitchen, their waiter approached, and Miles stood, taking Hermione's left hand. In the middle of the confusion, they walked quietly into the kitchen. Miles moved to where a man in a chefs toque was standing, supervising several cooks, and plating a meal. He looked up as they approached him.
"Miles! Sneaking away again?"
"My lady doesn't like … being noticed," Miles replied. "Chef, may I present my date, Lady Hermione. Milady, this is …"
"Chef James," Hermione interrupted Miles. "Thank you for a lovely meal."
"It was my pleasure, Lady Hermione." The chef glared at their waiter. "Henri didn't tell me you were dining with us." Henri wilted under the glare. It was obvious that more would be said later. "Please give my regards to your parents, milady." He turned to Miles. "Should I mention this the next time your father dines here?" he asked.
"Go ahead, Chef. I'll be seeing him later tonight," Miles replied in a glum tone. He produced his note-case again, and handed the chef two £50 notes. "For the staff," Miles said quietly. "That was nicely done." The chef nodded, and pocketed the notes. "And for you, for a wonderful meal, Chef." Miles handed over the £50 note he'd pocketed earlier.
"You are going to Lady Hermione's town residence?" the chef asked Miles.
"Yes," Miles replied briefly. "We'll walk."
"Wait a moment," the chef told them. He picked up a telephone, and spoke briefly. "Your escort will arrive momentarily." Shortly after that statement, two men in non-descript suits arrived. They pointedly nodded at Hermione. "Milady," one of them spoke, "whenever you and your escort are ready."
HMBB • HMBB
The non-group walked quietly down Lansdowne Row to Fitzmaurice, then crossed into Berkeley Square, stopping at the second house. Miles noticed a grey Bentley parked a few doors down. "Fuck me," he muttered.
As one of their escort knocked in a pattern, the other muttered to Miles "I'd say buggered, young sir, and well at that."
"Special Branch?" Miles asked quietly.
"Something like that, young sir."
The door opened, and they were met by another man in another non-descript suit. "Milady, Mister Longstreet. You're expected, they're waiting in the library."
Hermione blanched, took Miles' hand, and led them upstairs to the first floor, knocking on a door. "Enter," came a voice from within.
Hermione opened the door, they were met by the sight of her father and another man rising from their seats. Miles dropped her hand and stiffened to Attention, as a third man turned from pouring drinks.
Miles bowed from the waist. "Your Grace, Father, Major."
"Mister Longstreet. Thank you for escorting my goddaughter home," said the Duke of Edinburgh.
"You're welcome, Your Grace." Miles was the colour of a sun-bleached sheet. "Major Granger, your daughter, safely delivered."