Synopsis: Relationships. Work-Life. Finding yourself? Growing up and being an actual adult isn't always what it's cut out to be. You try your best or make your friends spend the night at your house to complain about it. From no-show tosser boyfriends to stressful and life-threatening career choices, Hermione and Harry walk, run, and stumble through and over the hurdles that is their 20s.
Part 1 of the "Here We Go" Series
I hope you enjoy this slice of life, slow-build of friends to lovers story.
Hermione stared at the neatly written note: Sorry, can't make it. Reschedule for next week?
She scrunched up the parchment and tossed it into the bin. Was it so hard to get her boyfriend to meet up with her parents for dinner?
She played with the ends of her braid. Was he purposely avoiding this meeting? This was the third time he's had to cancel dinner plans with her parents. They've been dating for five months. It seemed like a reasonable time to introduce Ryan to them. Wasn't it?
She crossed her arms over her chest. Maybe it was too soon.
"Knock, knock." Timothy Ainsworth, the Goblin Office Liaison and Hermione's coworker, knocked on the open door of her office. "The meeting is going to start. Mr. Sterling won't be happy if you're late."
She pushed herself away from her desk and grabbed the folder containing the latest statistics coming from the House-Elf Liaison office.
"What's got you in a mood?" Ainsworth gave her a sideways glance.
She sighed. "Nothing."
He scoffed. "Sure, nothing." He leaned toward her. "Just a warning, Mr. Sterling looks a little restless, so no wise remarks."
She smirked. "Me, wise remarks? I don't think so."
Hermione and Ainsworth walked into the meeting room. Hermione took her seat beside Daphne Greengrass, the only employee in the Office of Misinformation.
"I like the color you have on your nails today, Granger," Daphne commented.
Hermione glanced at the pink coloring of her nails. "Thank you."
A tall, dark-haired man stormed into the meeting room. His brown eyes roamed around the room. Mr. Sterling had arrived and looking paler than usual. "Good, everyone is here. Madam Kane and I have an announcement to make." He settled himself at the end of the table. "The Minister for Magic has agreed to our request to write an improved legislation regarding werewolves."
Hermione perked up in her seat. The Minister had finally listened to their petition?
"Granger, Ainsworth, Hayashi, you three will be working along with me in writing the initial draft. We'll have another meeting to go over the details. Next item of business," he pivoted to the next point on the agenda, "a new round of applications for those wishing to join the department have been submitted. Madam Kane, Mrs. Fawley and I will be going over prospective prospects. So, you'll be seeing people shuffle through the department." Mr. Sterling moved to another topic and another. He adjourned the meeting by asking for their reports and bidding them a good morning.
Hermione returned to her office after that whirlwind of a meeting. At her desk, she scribbled out some notes to her friends. She didn't want to spend the night alone.
Harry scanned over the note. Hermione's familiar script stretched across the parchment. "Ron did you -"
Ron held up a similar note. "You reckon something happened?"
Harry shrugged, pushing his glasses up the bridge of his nose. "Nothing bad, I hope." He stuffed Hermione's note into his inner cloak pocket. "I'm heading out with Castle. You'll be alright here?"
Ron waved him off. "I'll see you later at Hermione's place."
Harry slipped out of the office he shared with Ron and Neville and headed toward the lifts.
Danielle Castle, senior Auror, was waiting beside one of the lifts. Tonks stood beside her, her hair taking on a lilac color today.
He nodded. As if anyone could be ready when going to Azkaban Prison was on their list of things to do.
Tonks gripped his shoulder and offered him a small smile. "You want to come over for dinner today? Teddy's been asking for you."
He shook his head. "Love too but I'm heading to Hermione's place later."
She quirked an eyebrow. "Oh?"
He rolled his eyes and shoved her shoulder softly. "It's not like that."
"Mmhmm. Sometime soon then. I'll make Sirius drag you to the house. Bring Hermione too."
Tonks waved them goodbye. Harry followed Castle into the designated lift and took a deep breath.
"Don't worry yourself too much, Potter," Castle attempted to appease him. "We should be in and out. We won't linger."
Harry stuffed his hands in his cloak pocket. He hated his work cloak. The black color suited him well but more often than not he felt like he was wearing a costume.
He gave Castle a curt nod. "It's never easy heading to Azkaban."
She shook her head. "It never is."
The lift stopped in a dimly lit alcove far from the atrium. They stepped into a tall fireplace and flooed out of the ministry of magic.
Moments later, they stepped out of the fireplace in the small cottage that worked as Azkaban Prison's security checkpoint.
"Darrow," Castle greeted the wizard behind the desk, who was writing furiously across a paper with a dull pencil. He sat up in his seat. "Auror Castle, Auror Potter, I'll inform the guards of your arrival."
"Thank you, Mr. Darrow."
Harry and Castle stepped out of the cottage and into the ever-present mist that hovered over the island that housed the prison.
Upon entering the prison, they were greeted by another guard, Logan McArthur, who Harry was sure fancied the Auror standing beside him.
Castle flashed him a grin and McArthur visibly gulped. "Gorecki has been placed in room 103 for questioning."
"Thank you, Mr. McArthur." Castle strode past him.
They reached the room and switched places with the guards inside. The scruffy haired man sitting in the chair looked at them with disdain. His cuffs were attached to the table but Harry was sure if he had more leeway, Gorecki would be leaning back in his chair with his feet up on the table.
"Auror Castle, Auror Potter," he sneered. "What a nice surprise."
Harry took a deep breath and closed his eyes. Visualizing the space he wanted to disapparate too. Hermione's sitting room came to mind. The brown sofa, the blue rug in front of the front door.
He suddenly felt grateful for the invitation to come over. He needed his friend's company after a tough day.
He took another breath and disapparated.
The sound of apparition was drowned out by the music blaring from Hermione's stereo. "A whole new world! A new fantastic point of view!"
Harry looked around and found her lying on the floor in front of the telly, her arms, and legs spread wide.
She sat up and turned down the stereo. "Glad you could come over. Is Ron coming?"
"Yes." Harry slid his jacket off and tossed it over the armchair, walking around the sofa and laying down on the floor beside her. "What's this song?"
She laid back down. "A Whole New World from Aladdin."
He kicked his shoes off and pushed them away. "Never heard of it."
She whipped her head to the side. "You've never seen Aladdin?"
He shook his head.
She groaned. "We'll watch it later."
Harry stared at the ceiling. "So, weren't you supposed to have that big dinner tonight? You, your parents and what's-his-name?"
Hermione didn't answer. She kept singing under her breath.
Did she hear him? "Hermione?"
"Ryan canceled," she said softly. "Again."
Harry reached out and squeezed her hand. "I'm sorry, Hermione."
She sighed and moved slightly closer, nudging her head into his shoulder. "I don't know how I'm supposed to think or feel about this."
"How you're supposed to - well, what do you think or feel?"
"I'm mad," she spat out. "I'm sad that he keeps doing this. It makes me wonder if he has any desire to meet them. Is he nervous? I've told him all about them. My parents are friendly!"
Harry nodded in agreement. Howard and Nicole Granger always welcomed him into their home with warm hugs and good food. Howard was the one he liked to talk football with and listened with a kind smile whenever Harry spouted off about Quidditch. Nicole always made his favorite food and always seemed to have a new shirt for him whenever he came by - because she thought he'd like it.
"They're not complicated," Hermione continued, "they like going on walks and museums as much as they like going to symphonies and rock concerts or camping."
Ron appeared by the front of the door. Harry waved at him and pointed at the space beside Hermione. Ron's brows rose in concern. He stepped around the couch and laid down on Hermione's other side.
"Like, I understand getting nervous. I was nervous whenever someone introduced me to their parents, but it didn't stop me from meeting them." She turned toward Ron. "What do you do when someone asks you to meet their parents?"
"Freak out a little bit," Ron answered.
Ron chuckled. "Come on, Hermione." He patted her thigh. "It's a big step, meeting someone's parents. It means they're interested in making the relationship work long-term."
"So, if someone keeps pushing off the 'meet the parents' does that mean they're not interested in a long-term relationship?"
Ron stiffened. "Well, not necessarily, but sometimes."
"It's not like I'm asking him to marry me," she grumbled.
"Is Ryan a pureblood?" Harry asked.
"No, he's a half-blood, but his family sticks mainly to the wizarding world."
"Maybe that's it," Harry traced the inside of her forearm, "he could be feeling nervous about meeting muggles."
"But, I'm not throwing him out into the middle of the muggle world. It's just a quiet dinner with my parents. All three meetings were going to happen here."
"This isn't fair," she said after a few moments of silence.
"I'm sorry, Hermione," Harry whispered.
Ron leaned his head on her shoulder. "Sorry, Mione."
Thanks for reading! This story is also available on AO3.