A/N: Depending on the reception of this first chapter, I'll continue. Secondly, this story is unique in one respect: there's a musical aspect to it. Please go to sites dot google dot com/site/fridaynightsfic/Home and download the mp3 that I performed that is featured in the story. You'll know when to play it. Anyone interesting in being my beta, please let me know Finally, I obviously don't own any of this stuff.
It was Friday night, and the apartment seemed empty.
Harry Potter sat alone in his well furnished flat, on the east side of London. He could see the fading daylight through his icy windows as he glanced out, and wondered where his sun had gone. He looked pensively at his half drunk bottle of Ogden's, poured a few fingers worth, and turned away.
He walked over to the living room and sat in front of the quietly smoldering fire. The orange hue of the flames danced reflectively in the amber liquid of his glass and he smiled slightly, realizing that the putrid stuff was very aptly named. He took a small tip, and swirled the liquid. He wondered why people sip whiskey. Perhaps they simply liked the pain.
"It reminds them." He thought.
He reached over and picked up his guitar, a 60's Gibson acoustic that he had bought at a muggle garage sale before his final year at Hogwarts. It had nicks and scratches on it, but it spoke to Harry like few had. There was something to be said about an old, handmade instrument. His guitar would never leave him.
He had a ribbon of green tied to the headstock, and the wood of the body was flamed in a sunburst pattern, the colors capturing the different emotions of the guitar. The obsidian black around the edges, for the solitary testaments of depression. The dark amber captured the bitterness of a shattering love song. The blazing yellow projected the reflection of a campfire singalong, and the memories of a time long past. Dumbledore had told him that music could be cathartic, subtly implying that he needed a release that didn't involve juvenile emotional tantrums. Harry had a feeling he would be exploring the darker overtones of his instrument this evening.
He was fingering through a few chords, trying to focus on the melancholy minor notes when he heard a gentle knock on the door. It was so soft that he wasn't sure if he had even heard it. After a moment of thought, he walked over to the door, and opened it, wondering who he still had in his life that would be looking for him. The cold winter air was quickly sucked into the entrance hall of his flat, bringing with it a few remaining autumn leaves.
Hermione Granger was standing there on his front step, bundled up from the cold in her old Gryffindor scarf, a brimmed knit hat, and a warm red winter jacket. She wore well fitting jeans and running shoes. She hadn't seen Harry in over 4 years.
When Harry first opened the door, she looked like she had been about to turn around and hurry away, but seeing Harry had paralyzed her. There was something different about him that she couldn't quite place. Something around the eyes.
"Can I come in?" She asked, with a pleading look on her face.
With a word, he could crush her.
Harry's eyes seemed to brighten a little when he saw her standing before him. In the same moment, as if remembering something, they dulled. He shrugged noncommittally and walked back inside, leaving the door slightly open. She hesitated, then crossed the threshold.
Hermione walked through the front hall behind Harry into his warm living room. She noticed that the walls were green. She hadn't know that Harry had liked green. There were no pictures up.
Harry sat back down on the sofa and picked up his guitar again, largely ignoring the new presence in the room. Hermione sat in the love seat opposite him, and folded her knees underneath her, like she had done years ago as a student in the Gryffindor common room, long before Ron had asked her out, long before Ginny and Harry started dating, and long before she and Harry had irreconcilably broken off their friendship.
He plucked a few notes in silence, remembering a song he had learned long ago.
A minor, F, G, E, F, G, A minor.
"It goes like this, the fourth, the fifth, the minor fall, and the major lift", he thought wryly. A small smile played on his lips.
"You've gotten a lot better," said Hermione, who was staring at his fingers, as they traveled sullenly along the worn rosewood fretboard. "I remember when the bar chords used to give you trouble."
Harry raised a single eyebrow, but didn't look at her. The fire projected its flickering light over both him and her, the golden light highlighting the depth of the sound.
"Well maybe there's a God above,
But all I've ever learned from love
Was how to shoot somebody who out drew you.
And it's not a cry that you hear at night,
It's not somebody who's seen the light
It's a cold and it's a broken Hallelujah."
He sang the words.
Hermione had never known that Harry could sing. The first think that Hermione thought was that it was real. It was a last testament to a broken heart. His voice was not refined, not pretty, but rather styled in the manner of sandpaper - coarse but fragile.
There was nothing fake about it.
"It amazes me that we're in this situation right now." said Hermione.
"She left." said Harry.
"I know." said Hermione.
"Did you know what she was planning?"
"I found out about it today."
"I also found out why."
Harry stopped playing. He put the guitar down.
"It was Ron," she said, "I want you to know that I left him for good earlier this afternoon."
"What did he do?" Harry asked.
"He set Ginny up with one of the star players on his team. Apparently he makes millions of pounds a year."
"More than me." replied Harry, dumbly.
"Yes, more than you." Hermione got up and sat next to him, their shoulders slightly touching as she sunk into the plush cushions.
"Somehow I don't seem to miss her so much anymore." He was about to take a sip of his fire whiskey, but he stopped. He looked at her.
"Do you think that we're blind to not have seen this coming? It seems like the Weasley's have been scheming for years about one thing or another."
He considered something for a moment.
"You never did say those things did you."
"Harry, I would never have said that about Sirius. You know that I love both him and you with everything I have. His death was Lestrange's fault, not yours."
"I guess I just never thought that both Ron and Ginny would go in together on a lie to separate us. I was just so hurt that you would say something like that. I'm so sorry that I didn't listen. Can you forgive me?"
"Harry, we've lost years together. Of course I do. I just want to be in your life again."
Harry smiled genuinely for the first time that day. After a moment, his forehead crinkled in thought.
"Do you think they saw us as a threat?"
"What sort of threat?" asked Hermione, though she had worked out the answer earlier today.
"I don't know," said Harry, feeling frustrated and angry. "To their 'master plan'. Ron latching onto the brightest witch of our generation, and Ginny getting the famed 'Boy Who Lived'".
Hermione was quiet for a moment.
"It seems pretty likely, though I don't think that mattered much to Ron. I think he just wanted me because he didn't want you to have me. He was unhealthily obsessed with the notion that you got everything."
Harry reached over and gently grasped her hand.
"Let's make a resolution then," he said firmly, " No. More. Weasleys."
She looked at him and smiled.
"It's a deal."
"Now through this door is my private library, but I doubt that much in there would interest you..." said Harry, steering Hermione in the opposite direction down the hall.
"Harry Potter, the day I let you steer me away from a library is the day that I enslave a house elf!" Hermione stomped her foot in and put her hands threateningly on her waist.
"Even if" she continued with mock disdain, "your scholarly pursuits are limited to Quidditch manuals."
"Indeed, I certainly wouldn't think of progressing at all since my teenage years." Harry said, rolling his eyes at Hermione's back as she charged past him towards his library.
He walked in behind her, as she walked up to the first book case, her fingers gliding along the rows, looking at the various titles.
Her eyes lit up when she arrived at the second bookcase.
"Your collection of muggle literature on the previous bookcase was impressive enough, but what got you interested in history?"
Harry pondered her question for a moment, as Hermione continued to look over the substantial tomes, which ranged from the Industrial Revolution to Russian monarchs.
"I guess I just always wondered how we got here. Not that whole 'how were we created' evolutionary business", he said with a dismissive hand wave, "but rather, how did our society get here? I guess battling dark lords makes a person a little reflective."
"That's just brilliant Harry, I'm glad that you've found something that interests you. Have you been taking classes at a muggle university then?"
Harry smiled slightly.
"I haven't been working much over the past few years, so I've had a lot of time for school. I'm actually enrolled in a Ph.D program in the United States. I would portkey over there every morning, and come back every night to be with Ginny, though I can't say she really understood why I enjoyed academia. I should be starting my dissertation next year." He finished with a slight blush.
Hermione's draw dropped, as she tried to comprehend what Harry had said. Harry Potter, the "Hermione, can I see your potions essay" Potter, had turned into an academic?
"Wha..wha..What's your concentration in?" she asked, still trying to get over her shock.
"Well, I'm mostly concentrating on more recent history, largely on the industrial revolution both in the United States and in England."
"That's fascinating. I was reading a journal on comparative law, and the different liability standards during that period provided economic incentives for business growth, but at the same time victims of accidents were largely helpless and unable to win in court and recover for damages."
Harry's eyes were regaining their green twinkle, and Hermione now noticed that was what had been missing.
"I think we're finally speaking the same language, Hermione." he said with a smile.
"Fine, I pay for the Chinese food, AND grant you a coupon redeemable for one patented Harry Potter backrub, in return for the rights to pick the movie, though you have executive veto authority. That's my final offer, take it or leave it witch!" said Harry, wondering how smart it was to enter into a contract with a lawyer like Hermione.
Hermione toyed with the idea, mentally calculating how much more she could get out of him. She noticed that her bargaining power had greatly increased when she had taken off her heavy coat and had revealed that her body had changed quite a bit since Hogwarts. Deciding to be a merciful and benevolent ruler, she made up her mind.
"Deal, but remember that I have the executive veto authority, you lowly peon..." she said with a twinkle in her eye.
Harry Potter now realizing that he had somehow agreed to pay paid for her food, give her a backrub, AND in practicality to pick the movie, decided that his best bet was to embrace his lowly status in the Granger hierarchy with grace and humility.
"As you wish Lady Granger," he said, with a slightly over exaggerated bow.
Besides, perhaps giving that back massage might not be the worst thing in the world.
1. Probably the most important part of this chapter is the song and the state Harry was in before Hermione. You can listen to me performing it, in the context of the voice I described and all at sites dot google dot com/site/fridaynightsfic/Home
2. Should I continue with this? If so, it would be the gradual reformation of Harry and Hermione's friendship, perhaps something more, with a few more guitar interludes.
3. Bonus points to anyone who gets the green ribbon reference.