“Potter, you’re on the Rawlins case, suspected of involvement with Dark Magic in and around London, he’s suspected of torturing seven muggles.” Harry listened to his superiors orders, “the details are already on your desk, do try to do it by the rules this time” he pleaded, Harry smiled at him.
“I’ll try” he walked back to his office and sat down as he picked up the file, waiting on his desk as promised, he starting looking at the notes, but found the case rather uninspiring, it was pretty straightforward really. Rawlins was driven by a desire to cause pain, to inflict on others the pain he had once suffered at the hands of his father, unlike the synopsis in the case Harry knew Rawlins had never meant to kill. If he wanted to kill all those muggles would be dead, as well as those whose appearance had apparently scared him off. He chose London as that was were he had grown up, his screams and pleas of pain had gone unacknowledged by his neighbours, he wanted it to be easy, that’s why he chose muggles, he didn’t want a fight, and would therefore ignore the more dangerous areas of London. He would therefore target well off, stable, muggle areas, with lower levels of wizard residents, but busy enough so that he would fit in easily and noisy enough so that his victims would be less likely to be heard. London may have been big but only a few areas fit these criteria, Rawlins would be in Azkaban in a matter of days. It was true that having spent so many years with access to Voldemort's head, Harry had learned that the key the catching the bad guy was thinking how he thought. Bored with the case already he plonked the papers back on his desk, and his gaze instead fell upon a receipt for a necklace.
He had reluctantly bought Hannah the necklace she so desired, her annoyance at Hermione’s bracelet had since vanished. Hermione it seemed had all but vanished also, he had thought he would see her more however she seemed to have a busy week at work as had Harry and had only seen her twice lately, once at the twins house were the twins, Hermione, Ginny and himself had a makeshift dinner and a few drinks. It was odd but nice to see how the twins and Hermione worked as friends, it seemed that in Harry and Ron’s absence the three had become very close, they no longer viewed her as their little brothers friend, but as their own. The twins relaxed Hermione and encouraged her playful side whilst she in turn calmed them down, they took things more seriously, in fact it was in Hermione’s presence Harry realised just how much the two had matured, moreover he had never known such a mischievous Hermione.
His second encounter with her was in the ministry, Hermione was now working in the ministry itself having been head hunted by no less than the Minister of Magic himself, Kingsley Shacklebolt had appointed Hermione to a senior position within magical law enforcement. From what Harry heard she was receiving a substantial salary and was essentially considered one of the most promising minds within the ministry, her new job meant she was much busier than usual and it was only in passing that he happened to come across her in the halls. She must have been leaving for lunch whilst Harry was returning from his own break. They greeted each other warmly chatting only for a moment, before she had to rush off to meet her friend for lunch, Harry stood back and watched her gracefully walk to an exit and make her way out, oblivious to the appreciative looks she was getting from several male ministry employees, he frowned at two who were particularly leery before stalking back to his office.
However he was seeing her tonight, along with Ron and the Twins, Shell would be there as well and Ginny possibly, she had been much more relaxed around him since their conversation that night at the Burrow. It felt like a large weight off his shoulders to no longer be receiving longing looks; everything was almost as it was once was, except for Ron. It was obvious that Ron’s feeling for Hermione were as real and as strong as they ever were, Hermione however had not made any indication of how she felt in return, she seemed to be happy simply being friends.
The Three Broomsticks was packed by the time Harry and Ron arrived, minus Hannah who had seemed extremely disgruntled about Harry’s refusal to let her go, Ron bid her farewell in a far too cheery manner. Their eyes scanned the room and instantly found Hermione, Fred and George sat near the back talking animatedly with large smiles. Harry took a moment to look at the three interacting, what he saw was bittersweet; sweet in the respect it was great to see three people he cared about dearly getting on despite how different they once were. It had once seemed impossible for them to be deemed ‘friends’, it had always been unlikely that the three would have chosen each others company, they were merely friends by association, Ron being the middle man. Now, however, there was no doubt that the three were friends in their own right and it was great to see it, bringing a smile to his face. At the same time though it was somewhat heartbreaking for Harry, him and Ron were no longer the only boys in her life, she had others, they had been replaced, they were no longer a trio, Hermione was not theirs anymore and she hadn’t been since the day she had left.
Ron once more looked disgruntled as he to seemed to be thinking the same thing as Harry, Ron had always been quite possessive and selfish when it came to Hermione, he didn’t like anyone having her attention over him but Harry knew what made it worse was that it was his own brothers who had now taken her. Harry couldn’t help but think it was Ron’s own fault, he fought a sudden urge to tell him off and instead he quickly led the way to the table before Ron had even more time to stew.
“Hello boys” Hermione said warmly smiling as they approached her, she leant up and give Harry a peck on the cheek, Ron’s fake smile he had managed to summon for Hermione’s sake vanished, his upset was quickly relieved when Hermione stood on her tip toes to bring her lips to his cheek also.
“Well hello boys” George said in a high pitched voice and leant over the table with puckered lips, Ron looked unimpressed but Harry obliged and offered his cheek on which George plonked a wet kiss. “You two took your time, you didn’t have to go all out for us you know” he said.
“What are you talking about? It’s just turned nine” Ron said defensively.
“We were meeting after work” Fred chimed in, he looked like he was thinking hard for a minute then said “No we weren’t we did say nine, sorry, we had a brutal day at work and couldn’t wait to have a drink.” He gulped down the rest of his firewhiskey.
“Alright my round, what do you two pretty boys fancy then, a nice fruity cocktail with a pretty umbrella?” Ron threw him a dirty look and Fred stalked off to fetch drinks without waiting for an order.
“If we weren’t meeting till nine, how come you’re already here and looking decidedly tipsy Hermione?” Ron asked. She laughed and looked at George with a lopsided smile before explaining.
“Well I knew it was nine, but when I got back from work, these two were plonked in my living room waiting for me,” she paused as if to make sure Harry and Ron were keeping up, “I said I couldn’t start drinking otherwise I would’ve been on the floor by nine o’clock,” she pointed at the floor “but they had none of it, told me I had nothing to worry about and George picked me up slung me over his shoulder and carried me out.” She giggled, actually giggled, very un-Hermione-ish indeed, so clearly she had already had a few.
“So how come you’re not on the floor?” Ron asked, to be fair Harry didn’t think she was very far off it.
“All she needed was to line her stomach, we took her to a muggle restaurant for a hearty meal to get her prepared,” George explained rubbing his own stomach appreciatively, “She’s okay she can squeeze in a few more drinks yet” he was watching Fred returning with a selection of drinks on a tray, Harry helped himself to a firewhiskey, whilst Hermione seized a bright pink concoction.
“So where’s Shell then?” Harry asked keen to finally meet Hermione’s flatmate, Hermione pointed to a blonde girl chatting to a group of male wizards, Shell was very attractive she was the centre of attention at the table, her long glossy blonde locks fell softly down her back, and she looked effortlessly gorgeous as she chatted in a confident manner. Hermione stood up and walked over to her friend and put an arm round the girl before talking into her ear, the group of men looked very excited by the latest addition to their table and one was already standing to offer Hermione his seat, she shook her head much to Ron’s relief. Shell smiled as she looked over at their table and said something that seemed to really disappoint the group of men, as she and Hermione returned to their table the wizards they left behind looked jealously at the four men.
“Harry, Ron this is Shell,” Hermione introduced the three smiling widely; Shell greeted both boys with a hug, and settled down in between Harry and Hermione.
“It’s great to meet you both, I’ve heard so much about you two, I feel like I already know you” Shell said with a slightly French twist to her English accent. “Where’s Ginny?” she asked, the twins explained she was unable to come due to an unexpected work commitment. The evening passed in a relaxed fashion with a naturally flowing conversation, of course the alcohol consumption also had something to do with that. Harry keenly chatted to Shell whom he had instantly warmed to, she was indeed very similar to Hermione very clever, considerate, friendly, and an extreme book lover, she had already made many book references including Hogwarts: A History. Harry could also see how she complimented Hermione, they had a very similar sense of humour an aspect of Hermione that Harry had always known was there but rarely got to experience so much of in such a small space of time. She was however more confident than Hermione, who had always held back, a bit unsure of herself, Shell was very comfortable in who she was and didn’t care who saw it. Of course in typical Harry fashion he fancied her like crazy, he didn’t know what it was that drew him to her, but the attraction was immediate.
“Let’s play a game!” Shell announced “Let’s play truth or dare!” she exclaimed even more excitedly, Harry didn’t know how but she managed to convince everyone to partake. “I go first because it was my idea, Hermione truth or dare?” she asked, Hermione observed Shell carefully as if trying to predict Shell’s next move, “Truth!” she exclaimed throwing Shell a suspicious look.
“Okay, how many people have you slept with?” she asked grinning wickedly, Ron spat out the firewhiskey he had been sipping on, everyone else looked extremely interested. Although Hermione looked mildly embarrassed by the question she laughed at the curious faces before loudly announcing “Four” Ron looked shocked but Hermione ignored it rolling her eyes at Harry and then smiling at George whom Harry was surprised to see did not look very shocked at all, apparently he was close enough to be privy to such information.
“My turn, Ron!” she pointed at Ron with a wicked smile on her face, “Ron truth or dare?” Hermione asked excitedly scooting forward on her seat, it was clearly a bid to remove Ron’s attention from what she had just disclosed, but he took the bait and decided on a dare.
“Okay I dare you to kiss Harry!” she said gleefully “No tongues or anything just a peck on the lips” she offered, smiling in certainty that he would back down. Ron looked like this was the last thing he wanted to do but unfortunately for Harry he seemed unwilling to drop it, and awkwardly leaned towards Harry who stiffened and pursed his lips closing his eyes tightly, Ron quickly give him a brief kiss on the lips before drawing back and announcing “MY GO!”
“Harry truth or dare?” Ron asked smugly, Harry of course took the dare, knowing Ron could potentially bring anything out in the open if he had chosen truth “SNOG, and I repeat SNOG Shell” Ron’s plan was pitifully transparent have Harry get off with another girl, Hannah finds out, dumps him, no more Hannah. Harry didn’t mind in the slightest he wasn’t going to protest when Ron’s dare so conveniently fitted in with Harry’s desires, he made half hearted apologies to Shell who didn’t seem in the slightest reluctant to participate, in fact she seemed rather pleased. As their lips met they enthusiastically thrust their tongues together exploring each others mouths passionately. They broke apart and looked at each other hungrily but drew back as they remembered their audience, Fred and George were laughing loudly, Ron looked rather pleased with himself as if he could already see Hannah leaving Harry’s and of course his life, Hermione looked a bit taken aback but laughed at her blushing flatmate.
“Are we not going to get to kiss anyone?” George whined, Harry realising it was his turn thinking for a moment he grinned in the knowledge he had something that neither would have enough balls to do, and perhaps for the first time in their life a Weasley twin would forfeit a dare.
“I dare you to song Hermione, George” Harry smiled at George who looked slightly surprised, Ron was looking at Harry furiously but as Harry saw how uncomfortable George and Hermione were he smiled confidently knowing it would not happen..
Harry turned to communicate his plan to Ron but was astonished when George leant over and pulled Hermione into his arms he threw Ron an apologetic look before dipping her back in an overly romantic gesture causing Hermione to laugh before leaning down and kissing her slowly and softly. Harry and Ron sat open mouthed as they stared in shock, Shell and Fred did not, Harry was confused not only by their reactions but by how easily Hermione and George had gone through with the kiss having a feeling there was more to the story than he knew, once again Harry found himself in a rather agitated mood. As the game continued with a series of outlandish dares and revealing truths Harry thought carefully about that kiss, when Ron had left for a toilet trip after daring Harry to dance in front of a table of pretty witches he took a chance and asked Hermione ‘truth or dare?’ She had as he predicted chosen truth.
“Have you ever dated George?” he asked quickly whilst Ron was out of sight Hermione’s expression of surprise matched the twins and Shell’s, before she even answered Harry knew the truth, he could see it in her eyes, in the twins awkward shifting, he didn’t need to hear the word ‘yes’ she voiced a moment later. As Ron sat back down she give threw Harry a pleading look, he give her a slight nod promising he wouldn’t tell, but his scowl to George let her know it was for Ron’s sake rather than hers.
In a fowl mood Harry sat silently unwilling to partake in the game frowning at George and Hermione, who attempted to carry on but really seemed as unenthusiastic about the game as he was. With one final glance at Harry, Hermione made her excuses about being tired and politely refused Ron’s offer to walk her outside, not a moment later George called it a night and quickly followed, Ron watched him leave confused but was distracted by Fred who dragged him to their Hogsmeade store to sample a new product.
As everyone departed Harry stewed on Hermione and George’s revelation before realising he was finally alone with Shell, who was smiling flirtingly at him as she leant forward and whispered in his ear “I’ve wanted you to myself all night.” Harry smiled widely at her as she leant in and kissed him, it took them no time to leave the pub walking outside they once again engaged in a passionate kiss, when Harry pulled back suddenly “What happened between George and Hermione?” Shell looked confused for a moment before breathlessly replying “They dated for a bit, broke up and are just friends now!” she pushed her lips to his once again.
“When?” Harry asked when he pulled back once more, Shell thought for a moment “About a year ago. Come back to mine?” she asked him, he looked down at her and realised the girl he had been looking hungrily at all night was in his arms, he nodded yes and he felt Hogsmeade disappear around him. In a moment he was inside Shell and Hermione’s flat. He kissed her firmly whilst she pulled him down onto the sofa in the living room and made himself quite comfortable until he heard Hermione’s voice coming from her bedroom, he couldn’t make out what she said but a moment later he recognised George’s voice.
Harry sat up in annoyance “Are they still together?” he asked both shocked and angry at Hermione as far as he was aware she was still with Dean, Shell laughed softly.
“No, they are definitely over. Hermione’s seeing Dean….for now!” Harry got even more agitated and gently pushed Shell away from him.
“Has Hermione slept with Dean?” Shell once again looked a bit put out running her hands threw her hair in frustration.
“No” Shell shook her head “I doubt she will either, don’t be so protective Harry she knows what she is doing, she likes him, but doesn’t seem to think it will go anywhere, as for George their relationship is over, they were together for six months, and yes they did sleep together, they split up but it was amicable, they are great friends now, satisfied?” Harry had listened to her with increasing agitation, he was not satisfied, far from it in fact he scowled as he stood and paced the room.
Hermione slept with George? He asked himself desperately Hermione slept with George another voice told him. He felt his anger swell inside him had he indeed lost Hermione to the twins? They knew her as she was now much better than he did, and George especially knew Hermione in a way Harry never would, intimately.
As he heard their distorted voices coming from Hermione’s room he had one more question he needed answered, “Do you think they will get back together?”
“No I don’t, they might, but I find it highly unlikely, I’m not going to tell you why they split up it isn’t for me to say, but once you know you will probably agree with me” Shell explained patiently, irresistibly reminding Harry of Hermione once more, he leant down and pulled her into a deep kiss before she lead him into the bedroom on their way Harry heard a loud pop from Hermione’s room, marking Georges departure his mood instantly improved.
Authors Note: I am trying to upload faster but I can only upload one chapter at a time so as soon as this one is validate I will submit the next chapter. For all you loyal readers and your wonderful reviews here is a sneak peek of the next chapter titled 'True Love' “I don’t know what to say, but I know if I was in your place that you’d be the first one to tell me to ‘follow my heart’” he looked at her and smiled when he realised she was impressed “so that’s what I’m going to say, follow your heart.” She looked at him with that all to familiar assessing gaze, apart from Dumbledore she was the only one he believed could see straight through him.
“Sometimes your heart wants to take you places you can’t go” she said quietly, Harry didn’t know what to say, he wondered if she was talking about George,
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