Chapter XVII: finding that some things never change
“Sometimes I find it’s easy to be myself, sometimes I find it’s better to be someone else.”
“Hum,” she smiled as she looked at one of the books she was putting away on the newly purchased, huge, bookcase she had bought for her room at Grimmauld Place. “Hey, Harry?”
“Yeah?” he asked distractedly as he tried arranging the books alphabetically on the floor so Hermione could put them away—all the while trying to dispel the annoying voice in his head that was constantly repeating the distinct sound of a whip crackling, constantly mocking him, much to his distaste.
“Did you buy this?” she asked him, pulling out a copy of Being Nice for Dummies.
He smirked as he got up and took the book from her, leafing through its pages as he spoke. “Well I thought you could do with a lesson in it given that you dragged me through five different book stores and had me carrying all of them-”
“Oh don’t be such a baby, it wasn’t that much!”
“I had to come back to drop the books off after each visit, have you any idea how annoying that was?”
She rolled her eyes, playfully nudging him. “It’s all part of being nice, Harry!”
He chuckled. “Using my words against me now are we, Granger?”
“It’s all part of my charm, how I can twist things against you.”
“You call it charm; others call it evil genius behind the pretty veneer.”
“Aw, you think I’m pretty,” she grinned.
“You are pretty irresistible Granger,” he told her with a flirtatious wink before picking a book off of the floor and telling her “you may want to give this one a look through as well, by the way.”
She let out an amused scoff upon reading the title, The Beauty of Keeping Your Mouth Shut, just as she was about to retort she raised her head to see that Harry had already left the room—surely protecting himself from any serious bodily harm.
“So how’d the meeting with Franklin go?” Ron asked Hermione, arm slung around her shoulders as they walked slightly ahead of Luna and Harry, as he led her towards the church that he and Luna were considering holding the wedding at.
“He’s a prick,” Hermione muttered, scrunching her face in distinct distaste.
Ron grinned. “He asked you out, didn’t he?”
Her eyes widened in surprise as she pouted slightly as she asked “how’d you know?”
“Well Franklin has quite the reputation, and you’ve been looking rather attractive as of late… you know, not to say that you weren’t before, the humanitarian look just does you well, is all,” he told her with a suggestive, over-exaggerated wink, as he was desperate for some salvation after surely digging himself into a hole with that tirade.
“Oi, what are you two talking about?” Harry asked as he and Luna caught up to the pair.
“Yeah, we feel rather left out, you two acting all secretive like that about something can’t be good for us,” Luna grinned.
“Hermione here was just telling me about how Franklin—you know Jake, that healer that transferred to St. Mungo's from Switzerland—well he asked her out,” Ron announced with a jovial grin, totally oblivious as to what a grave error he had just made.
Harry’s smile faltered for a second, but Hermione, who had her head timidly buried in Ron’s neck because of all the attention that was on her, failed to see it.
“So what did you say?” Luna asked curiously.
“Well no, of course. I mean the man is a bloody man whore, shags every girl in sight. How the hell am I expected to date that? uUnlike some, I have a very rational fear of STI's!” she exclaimed, totally oblivious to how, while she was ranting, Harry had stopped dead in his tracks, Luna had placed a comforting hand on his shoulder, or the silent—pleading—looks Ron was giving her to just shut up already. “Honestly, he’s the scum of the earth!”
Ron nudged her, mumbling the words “verbal diarrhea” in her ear, praying that she would finally get the message through her thick head.
Hermione stopped in shock, eyes widening as she realized just what she had said. She turned around immediately, looking at Harry with worried eyes as she desperately, pleadingly said “oh my God, Harry, I’m so sorry! That did not come off as I had intended it to!”
He eyed her warily, his eyes betraying him, however, as they softened at her words. “You sure about that?”
“I don’t think that you’re the scum of the earth, at least,” she admitted with a shy smile as she bit her lip nervously.
He rolled his eyes slightly. “You’re far too charming for your own good, Granger, you know that?”
She smiled brightly at him before pulling him into a tight embrace. “Thank you!”
“Bloody hell this argument was no where near amusing enough to watch to justify the fact that we’re late for the meeting with the priest!” Ron exclaimed, grabbing Hermione’s arm, tearing her from Harry, as he hurriedly walked towards the church that was two blocks away. All the while he was muttering, in vexation, “You take Harry, love, seems like I can only trust you!”
Harry chuckled slightly as he watched Ron practically run towards their destination. “And he claims not to be that into the wedding preparations.”
Luna smiled as she took Harry’s extended arm and followed the pair. “Is it really as okay as you said it was?”
“It hurts… but you have to respect the fact that she’s honest, right?”
She smiled at him knowingly. “You sure that’s it?”
“Yeah,” he said, eyeing her curiously all the while. “Why do you ask?”
“Because I know how much it can hurt when something like that comes from someone that you’re in love with,” she told him with a meaningful look before tearing her arm from his and speeding after Ron who was opening the door to the church.
Harry, however, was left rooted in his place, in shock, for the second time that day.
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