Chapter 1 : one-shot
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Serendipity of an Odd Sort
Summary: the cowardly “boy-who-lived” (and then triumphed) and the pitiable “smartest witch of our age.” What a pathetic duo we can be at times
Challenge: this is for the Beatles challenge, where I was assigned to pay homage to the band by writing a piece centering around the classic song “I'm Happy Just to Dance With You”
Before this dance is through,
I think I’ll love you too,
I’m so happy when you dance with me.
-I’m Happy Just to Dance with you, by the Beatles
It’s funny how easily life can just get in the way. I mean, you’d think that after all that we’d gone through at Hogwarts and with the war we’d be inseparable, but I guess that it’s just not always like that.
Hell, I don’t even know how it happened, or even when, it just did.
It’s odd, though, we used to talk to another nonstop, but then it just sort of fizzled down into these short, brief—almost formal—little daily phone calls, that were really more like social calls out of obligation than anything else. It wasn’t organic or innate anymore, it was… repulsive. And that sentiment was best exemplified by the horrible, disgustingly dry and blasé conversations we’d find ourselves having.
Then, I don’t know exactly when, that sense of obligation wasn’t even enough anymore. We started talking only about once a week, and then every other week, and so on—the pattern continuing, our relationship slowly disintegrating more and more with time. It all culminated at the point that now, three years later, we don’t even speak to one another anymore. We’re total strangers, only ever conversing once a year at the Weasley’s annual “family day”—the one Weasley tradition that I even partake in nowadays.
“Hi,” he gruffly greets me, taking a seat by me on the bench as I watch all the Weasleys greet one another with tight and loving hugs even after not having seen some of them for a good year or so—as is the situation with Ron, Bill, and Charlie. I can’t help but wish that I had that. We should, but we don’t.
“Hello, Harry, how are you?” I ask him with a forced smile, trying to keep all of those damning tears over what I’d lost at bay.
“Well enough, you?” he asks with a genuine look of concern.
I want to laugh—it’s all rather ironic, really. We barely even know one another anymore, but reading each other still comes so easily to us. Life’s just cruel like that though, always sending these reminders of what you’ve lost.
He nods. “Good.”
“Yeah,” I say just for the sake of saying something.
“I read about that law that you got the ministry to pass… the one that gives giants the Truckwell Mountains rather than keeping them in those reserves… I meant to congratulate you on it before,” he tells me with that hundred-watt smile of his that seems to have the ability to break through anyone’s barriers, and I can't help but hate him for it.
“Thank you,” I quietly respond, a hot heat quickly taking over my face. “But really, Harry, it’s not as if you’re without your own accomplishments as well. There’s rarely a day where I don’t see some mention of a heroic act of yours in the paper. I’ve read about a great deal of successful raids led by you throughout the past year.”
Those three words—God, I doubt I’ve ever uttered a more powerful string of words than those, and given how verbose I am that’s quite the feat. But saying that, “this past year”, it just—it opens this can of worms, unearths the topic that neither of us wanted, or even ever tried, to broach—what both of us so desperately tried to ignore. It’s the first time that either of us has ever, directly or indirectly, acknowledged the fact.
It’s odd how it’s a double edged sword in so many ways. On one hand I feel as if this terrible weight has been lifted off of my shoulders, and maybe, just maybe we have a chance of moving past it and regaining what we’ve lost. But, then again, there’s this looming, daunting question of how the hell do we even get there?—It’s been four years since the war ended and three since we officially lost us. So much time has gone by, how do you get past that? Can you?
I’m saved, though, when he takes it upon himself to make the next move. The only question is which path he’ll choose.
“I’ve been lucky.”
I have to admit that I’m rather disappointed that he chose to go back to ignoring the issue at hand. But, then again, I’m not about to make a move to change it either so I guess I’m really not the best person to critique his decision.
“It’s not luck, Harry, I know that for a fact, from first hand experience too,” I assure my ex-mate as I get up and leave, deciding to escape the torture. Maybe Molly needs some help in the kitchen.
Bloody hell, for the “smartest witch of our age” and the “boy-who-lived”—and then triumphed—we really make a rather pathetic pair.
one month later.
“Hi,” I hear a familiar voice greets me as I sit at the bar, trying to escape the scene through what I like to call an “alcohol induced state of bliss.”
Naturally, seeing him right now really isn’t good for me, given my current state of mind, but, sadly, there’s not really much I can do about that. Realizing that I’m left with absolutely no choice in the matter I respond with a “hello” as I bite back the sudden tears that always seem to come when I’m with him as of late. Damn.
“Nice event you’ve put on here,” he compliments me as he takes a seat by my side, immediately ordering a fire whiskey for himself and another screwdriver for me. I welcome, relish even, the distraction.
“Thank you. Didn’t think you’d be here though, this was never really your scene.”
He shrugs as he takes a rather large sip of his drink and I can’t help but notice how he no longer winces at the burn of it—a lot really has changed. “Whatever I can do to help the cause. Besides, it was never your sort of thing either.”
“Helps garner support for the elves, so I’ll put up with it all so long as it does some good. Plus, at least there’s an open bar,” I smile weakly.
He furrows his eyebrows as he gives me what can only be described as a quizzical look. “It’s not an open bar; I just paid for our drinks.”
“For you it’s not, but for the organizer of the event it is.—But don’t worry, at least you proved that chivalry isn’t totally dead,” I quip.
It should feel nice to be able to really talk to him again, that much I know, but instead I can't help but let it be marred by this constant sense of foreboding in my mind, this thought in my head, the knowledge, that come tomorrow it’ll all go back to normal. Come tomorrow we’ll just be Harry Potter and Hermione Granger again—those two people that used to be best friends, and that thought just kills me.
I let out an audible sigh despite myself. “I should go; I have a speech to give.”
“Right, of course. Good luck,” he awkwardly tells me with a small nod, sending me a smile of encouragement.
I don’t see him again that evening; instead I opt for doing the classic, cliché “weak girl” thing—I spend the rest of the night sitting in a bathroom stall crying over a bloody bloke.
one week later.
“Hi Hermione,” he greets me at the annual ministry masquerade ball and I can't help but groan a bit—I was really hoping that I’d finally come up with a fool proof disguise. Damn, foiled again, I really am terrible at masquerading.
“Hello Harry, you look rather fetching as Zorro. It suits you,” I compliment him.
I see a slight tinge of red on his face and I can't help but wonder how the bloody hell that’s even possible. He’s the savior of the wizarding world, well-mannered, kind, generous, an amazing Auror, exceedingly talented at quidditch, make you weak at the knees attractive, and he’s still modest?!
Is it odd that I so long for a flaw in him?—That it irritates me that he’s so perfect when that’s exactly what every other girl in the world is looking for in a man? It’s just not right, though, perfection—it’s not only that it doesn’t fit within the laws of logic, but… I hate how it makes me feel, how guilty it makes me for having been so stupid as to let us go. Who the hell wants perfection to pass them by anyway?
“You look beautiful Hermione. I’ve had more than a few mates begging me to introduce you to them after I told them that I knew you when they pointed you out to me.”
It’s my turn to blush as I mutter a quick “thank you” as he smiles down at me.
“Would you like to dance?” he asks me as he offers me a hand.
I nod weakly, not trusting myself in this current state of nerves that I constantly seem to be in when with him. The only thing that seems to calm me a bit is a quick glance at his bum—as pathetic as it may be that’s always been a bit of a weakness of mine with men—and the knowledge that it really is quite well-rounded. For some reason that soothes me, I think it’s the distraction in the realization that really does the trick for me.
I let out a deep breath when we reach the dance floor, but instead of calming me, as I had hoped that it would, it only aids in increasing my anxiety tenfold. Damn.
But then—then the most wonderful thing happens, he stumbles. Then he steps on my foot, and the rest of the dance just goes on like that, this awkward display of flaws—ones that I had, unknowingly, so longed for. There’s something beautiful in the fact that he is human—something almost redeeming.
He blushes and apologizes for every little misstep and I can't help but take a perverse pleasure in it all. I don’t know how or why it happened, but it makes me feel safe, secure, and finally worthy all at once. It’s as if it’s what I’ve been waiting for my entire life.
As we make our way off the floor at the end of the song he turns to me. “I’m sorry, I was never much of a dancer, but—well it seemed like the thing to do given that this is a ball.”
“It’s okay,” I assure him with a laugh. “Oddly enough, I enjoyed myself.”
And I don’t know how it happens—logically, I just can't seem to explain it—but there’s this sudden shift in energy where nothing matters anymore. The fact that we haven’t really talked in over two years, or that we’ve basically become strangers no longer seems to hold any significance. We just sit and talk—talk like we haven’t in years, each of us suddenly compelled to unearth all of our deepest fears, dreams, secrets, and etcetera.
It’s beautiful and, oddly, it feels like one of those horridly cliché romance novels where the heroine finally finds herself—her strength. And as much as I’ve, ruthlessly, mocked that idea in the past, I do have to admit that despite the laughable plot and premise that usually goes into it there is definitely a certain grain of truth to the magic of this feeling and how there’s this magnificent sense of completion to it.
That’s really what his friendship has always been for me, more or less of a saving grace.
the next day.
I nervously knock on the door, more than slightly astounded by the fact that I haven’t chickened out yet. Now, however, it’s only a question of how long it’ll take him to answer the bloody door as I can already feel my logical side getting the best of me and the compulsion to bolt is slowly growing within me.
“Hermione?” he says as more of a question than a statement or greeting. It’s obvious that he’s just as surprised by the fact that I’m here as I am.
“I was hoping you’d join me for some lunch,” I explain, nervously shifting my weight from one foot to the other as I lift the bag of take-out so it’s in his line of vision.
He grins as he casually leans on the doorframe. “I guess that that would depend on what you’ve brought.”
I smile. “Burek.”
“From the place-”
“Between café Pierre and Uncle George’s? Yeah, that’s the one,” I answer, not even needing to hear that actual question.
“Well then, come on in, the sooner the better,” he tells me with a wink as he ushers me into his office.
“Nice office,” I note as he takes the food from me, setting it up on the coffee table in front of the couch.
“Yeah? I don’t really spend much time here to tell you the truth. My secretary actually did all the decorating for me—in all honesty, I couldn’t care less what the difference between crème and pearl is or whether to use oak or whatever other woods,” he admitted sheepishly.
“You never really did,” I comment as I take a seat on the couch and he pulls a chair over to the table so we’re sitting across from one another.
“You got my favorite,” he notes with a look of genuine surprise.
“Yeah, I still can’t understand how you can find spinach and cheese good-”
“Oi, you know what they say: ‘don’t knock it till you try it.’ Just because you have some silly aversion to all green foods doesn’t mean that the rest of us do. Besides, I hardly believe that sour cream goes well with your meat burek,” he scoffs.
I gasp. “How dare you? That’s blasphemy, take it back!”
He chuckles lightly. “I see you’re still as stubborn as ever.”
“Well we can’t let everything about us change.”
We both eat in silence after that, but it’s not nearly as awkward as I had feared that it would be. I’m just so thankful that I didn’t listen to my insecurities last night and let them get the better of me. I was so scared—so bloody terrified that maybe that night was just a one time thing… that maybe that was us getting closure. I didn’t want to lose him again—I don’t want some damn, worthless “closure”.
“Hermione?” his voice pulls me out of my reverie.
“What happened—you know, to us?” he gingerly asks me, shifting slightly in his seat as he utters the words, almost as if afraid of what the answer might be.
And there it is, the question that has been haunting me for the better part of the past two or three years, the one that I had told myself to just accept, get over, and leave unanswered. But now I don’t think I want to anymore.
“I don’t know,” I tell him honestly.
“We used to be mates—the best of.”
I nod solemnly. “I know.”
“Through thick and thin—or at least that’s the way it should have been-”
“We spoke every day-”
He lets out a frustrated groan. “Well if you know everything then tell me what the hell happened.”
“I—I don’t know… I guess… I guess life happened. Life started to get in the way and we let it, and then, by the time we realized what had happened, we were already too far gone and didn’t have the slightest idea as to how to fix it. With all the time that had passed it was just easier to ignore it.”
He frowns. “It all seems rather stupid now.”
I shrug. “Maybe that’s why it’s so easy.”
“Yeah,” he says with a dejected nod.
I smile at him weakly, unsure as to what to do. All I know is that I’ve missed him, I’ve really missed him, and right now I’m just happy that, by some divine miracle, we’ve managed to find one another again.
“I love you, you know that, Hermione, right?” he asks me, his eyes blazing with such passion that I can’t help but be caught off guard by the extent of it, surprised that I can evoke such emotions within him.
“I love you too, Harry, I really do,” I manage to choke out.
He smiles softly; clearing his throat slightly in what I can only assume is an attempt to regain whatever sense of manliness he may still have after the awfully corny scene that just took place. “Listen, I have to go to this gala tomorrow night-”
“You’re quite social as of late,” I comment, furrowing my eyebrows slightly as I try to comprehend the fact—Harry never really was one for social gatherings, often avoiding them like the plague, but suddenly he was attending two in one week.
He shrugs—I’m really starting to hate it when he does that, especially given how often it happens. “I knew you’d be at last night’s, that’s the only reason I even went. Plus, this one’s in honor of the Aurors, I can’t really get out of that one given that I am one.”
I feel a blush coming on upon hearing that admission. No matter how probable that may have been I had never actually allowed myself to entertain the notion for fear of the inevitable disappointment should it turn out to be untrue.
“Anyway, I don’t actually have a date,” he continues, “I know that it’s last minute and all, but, by any chance, would you be willing to do me the honor?” he asks me in a charmingly faux grandiose manner.
And I can't help but smile softly as I nod.
the following evening.
“Have I mentioned just how fantastic you look tonight?” he asks me in this amazingly sexy, husky tone as we sit at the bar enjoying a drink.
“Yes, but feel free to continue with the compliments,” I tell him with a grin, trying to contain my blush and prevent it from spreading throughout my face.
He chuckles as I say a silent prayer of thanks for the fact that he seems to have failed to notice the effect that his words had on me. I don’t know how it happened or came to this, but all of a sudden I feel like a bloody teenage girl without any experience with blokes. It’s rather pathetic, really.
“Do you want to dance?” he asks me suddenly, leaving me so unprepared for the question that I can’t help but let my jaw go slack at the request.
“Pardon?” I sputter.
“Would you like to dance?” he asks me seriously, but I see the mirth dancing in this eyes nonetheless.
“Um, sure,” I say as I let him take my hand and lead me onto the floor.
As I wrap my arms around his neck I realize, for the first time really, why every girl seems to go ga-ga as the mere sight of him. Sure, his glasses sort of hinder him from achieving that whole classic poster by look, but, instead, he’s unique. There’s just something about him, this undeniable spark to him that just lures and pulls you to him, and I can't help but wonder why I’ve never noticed it before.
I chuckle slightly as I allow myself to bury my head in his shoulder. “I’m fine—great actually.”
I smile, nodding my head softly. “I like dancing with you, even if my feet hurt for days on end afterwards.”
the following week.
“Come on, please Hermione,” he begs me, failing to heed my warning when I intentionally slammed the door in his face as I entered my office.
“But I need a date.”
“You’re the bloody savior of the wizarding world, that’s the sort of title that leaves a person with very few chits who wouldn’t want to go with you—hell, they’d be more than willing to do a lot more than just that.”
“Now you just sound jealous,” he quips with a grin.
A comment like that is not even one that I would deem worthy of a response so, instead, I merely raise an eyebrow at him and glare with tenacity, daring him to continue. Just try Harry, just try and I’ll show you why Ron used to call be “brilliant, but crazy.”
“Okay, wrong thing to say,” he mumbles, quickly backing off with a distinct look of fear. “But seriously, it’s like you said, they’re chits. I’d much rather have a smart, sexy, emasculating woman, such as yourself, by my side.”
“Was that actually supposed to convince me?” I ask him in disbelief as he nervously fiddles with a few paper clips that I have strewn about my desk.
“Come on Hermione, just do it for me, I’m really not above begging.—I’ll do anything you want so long as you go.”
I sigh. “Fine.”
“Yeah?” he asks, his face instantly brightening at hearing my reply.
“Yeah,” I begrudgingly agree.
the following evening.
“So I’ve never known you to be so forward—asking a bloke to dance like that and all,” he comments.
I laugh as I lightly tighten my hold around his neck. “I did tell you that I enjoy dancing with you.”
“I got that much, but what I can’t seem to be able to grasp is why—you haven’t gone dominatrix on me, have you?” he asks, his eyes slightly widening in fear at the prospect.
I roll my eyes. “Yes, Harry, I just adore how you incessantly step on my feet, turns me on so much.”
“Well if it’s not that then why do you enjoy it so much?”
It’s my turn to use his signature gesture against him so I shrug.
He groans and I have to bite back a grin at that. "Come on, you were never all that monosyllabic so it’s not as if it’s really that hard for you to give me some deep and extensive explanation as to why."
I chuckle lightly despite myself; sad as it may be, his words couldn’t be truer. “I don’t know… I guess it’s because that’s where everything changed for us… on the dance floor,” I add quickly, clarifying.
He gives me a look of clear bafflement. “What do you mean?”
“That night, it started there; I finally got you back in my life then. Plus, you know how horribly sentimental I am, I can’t help but pay homage to that in my own way,” I admit, blushing. It’s always been hard for me to admit to some of my girlier notions for fear that it’s make me seem weak. So saying that—saying that was one of those impossible feats that I’m still questioning, wondering how I accomplished it.
“I like that,” he says, taking me totally off guard.
“Really?” I ask, cocking my head to the side slightly as I look him in the eyes.
“Well… good. I’d hate to hear that given that you technically are part of the whole equation,” I tell him, coming off far more resolute than I really feel.
He smiles at me in that all-knowing way of his—or, at least, all-knowing in regards to me; as for everything else, I’ll be the first to admit that he was never particularly a fan of classical education. But me, he’s an expert on me, and I know he sees right through my façade. Damn.
“I’d even like to help you with that.”
“And how do you plan on doing that?” I ask him with a snort, expressing my amused doubt.
And then he does the oddest, most amazing, totally mind numbing—in a sheer utter bliss sort of way—thing. He kisses me… and I respond. I retaliate with such fervor that I can't help but be shocked by my reaction to him, especially given how inappropriate it all is for a dance floor, but, somehow, I can't help myself.
When we finally, breathlessly, pull away from one another my mind is still hazy, but I find it in me to ask that one question. “What was that?”
“That was me paying tribute—and adding a bit more to pay respect to from now on,” he whispers huskily as he gingerly touches a hand to my cheek. I open my eyes—which apparently were closed—to see him smirking down at me. Damn prat.
“That’s all you have to say?” he asks, obviously befuddled by the fact.
“Pretty much, yeah.”
I silence him with a kiss, he talks too much anyway.
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