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Lunch at Maxine's by apAidan
Chapter 3 : Chapter 3 - What A Difference A Day Makes
Rating: 15+Chapter Reviews: 9

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Silence reigned supreme at the table for several seconds. Hermione opened her mouth, closed it again, and stared at her mother as if she had never seen the woman before in her life. Finally, her face pale and her eyes wide, she was able to summon up one word, “Why?”

Looking entirely too pleased with herself, Helen smiled. “Why? Because we love you and your father and I decided that something needed to give in this eternal stalemate between you and Harry.”

Still stunned, and looking at the door to the dining area to watch for Harry’s arrival, Hermione managed a weak, “How?” before slumping back in her chair.

The busboy at the next table turned and proceeded to sit in the empty chair at their table. Before Hermione could even think of protesting, the glamour faded away and she was stunned to see Harry sitting there, dressed in a server’s outfit and smiling at her. Mischief flashed in his eyes as he nodded to her. “The same way she got me, yesterday. Your mother just let me walk the plank until I had nowhere to go but admit that I’d loved you for as long as I could remember. Remember when I had that appointment yesterday for lunch?”

Hermione nodded, comprehension slowly dawning in her eyes. “You said that you had to discuss an investment option with a muggle business owner who was thinking of diversifying in Diagon Alley.” Looking shocked, she shook her head. “I can’t believe you would lie to me about something.”

“Hermione Jean!” Interrupted by her mother’s outburst, Hermione turned and looked at her. “I snookered the boy yesterday into having lunch with me. He told you that because it’s essentially true and I asked him not to mention that he was meeting with me.”

Smiling at the defiant glare her daughter was giving her, she nodded. “One of Healer Dursley’s old housemates is a tooth healer and she wants to partner with a muggle dentistry practice to accommodate some of her muggle-born patients a bit better. And, quite frankly it would help us deal with children in your situation as well.”

Smiling sympathetically at her daughter as she began to think over the possibilities, she nodded. “Your father and I understand now, but we didn’t when you were seven why braces just wouldn’t work for you, but other things would work like, well, magic. If we can combine the two practices, discretely of course, it could be a blessing for a great number of patients.”

Lost in thought, Hermione studied her mother as she idly toyed with her glass. Unconsciously, her hand reached out and found Harry’s and took it. “I’m not going touch the questionable logic behind this, so I think it might be best if I heard exactly how this all came about.” Blushing, she looked down at her hand intertwined with Harry’s and then looked up into his eyes. “Please?”

Nodding, Harry smiled. “Friday at work, Flaubert showed up with a note from your mother asking to meet here at Maxine’s for brunch on Saturday, she said she had a business proposition she’d like to discuss with me. She also said she’d like a chance for the two of us to hash out the basics before we subjected it to the ‘Hermione Test’, so she suggested that I ‘forget’ to mention exactly who I was meeting with.” Smiling apologetically, Harry shrugged. “You know me; I’m an easy mark for beautiful women that I care about.”

Laughing, Hermione shook her head. “Harry, the fact that my mother has you wrapped around her little finger is one of the worst kept secrets in history. Honestly, you never noticed how annoyed Molly and Ginny would get when my mother could ask you to do anything, and you’d never dream of saying ‘no’?”

Looking thoughtful for a second, Harry’s eyes glittered with mischief as he shook his head. “I suppose I never noticed that. Since they were always annoyed because you and I agreed so often, I imagine that I just chalked it up to a ‘like mother, like daughter’ thing.”

Blushing, Hermione smiled as she nodded her head to him. “I’m still waiting to hear about yesterday.”

Laughing, Harry squeezed her hand and shrugged. “Let’s see, it was yesterday just after twelve and I met your mother for lunch…”

Twenty-four hours earlier

“Harry, it was so good of you to come on such short notice.” Smiling, Helen Granger walked over to a table at Maxine’s beside her daughter’s best friend. “What did you think of that proposal for us expanding into Diagon Alley?”

Smiling, Harry seated Helen before taking his own seat. Nodding to the waitress, he looked down at the leather portfolio he had set on the table when he had arrived earlier. “I must admit, it’s very intriguing. I’m not an expert at dentistry, muggle or otherwise since my aunt and uncle never bothered to send me to a dentist. Other than having a couple of teeth put back in at the local trauma center after Dudley had knocked them out, I’m fairly ignorant of how these things work.”

Seeing the look on her face, he smiled reassuringly. “Helen, everything is fine. That portion of my life is over and done with. My aunt and cousin have started to come around, and we’re attempting to establish some sort of relationship based upon the fact we’re basically all the family each one has since Vernon is quickly disappearing from the picture.” Smiling at the remarkably familiar scowl on her face, he laid a hand on top of hers to calm her as he had done for her daughter on innumerable occasions. “I’m perfectly capable of defending myself these days, and if I wasn’t, Hermione makes a very able protector.”

Nodding, Helen stared at him for several seconds. Sensing he was a bit uncomfortable with her scrutiny, she smiled and looked over to see if their server was heading in the direction of their table. “Harry, Hermione hasn’t broken any of your confidences, but she feels horribly guilty about not realizing what was going on with your family. I know its too late now, but if she had known, she would have come to us and we would have done something to correct your situation.”

Smiling as the waitress arrived at their table; Helen greeted the young witch by name and ordered a salad and an iced pumpkin juice. Harry ordered his usual fish and chips with a butterbeer and looked over as their server left.

“Helen, I know she does. My childhood, the Ministry, the final battle, Malfoy Manor are all things that sill haunt both of us. And I know that you and Alexander would have done something if you would have known.” Shaking his head, Harry sat back and sighed. “I just wish that I could convince your daughter that there wasn’t any way she could have known what was going on. I was too adept at hiding things, even as a child.”

Nodding, Helen smiled warmly at him. “Harry, Hermione’s problem is that she’s never learned to temper her protectiveness when it comes to you. I think that, from the moment you two met, she has had this connection to you and she’s very protective of the things and people she loves.”

Looking at her warily, Harry shook his head slightly. “She’s very protective of those she cares about, that’s true.”

Smiling, Helen watched him for several seconds. “Harry, have I ever thanked you for making arrangements for Alex and I to have an owl? Flaubert has been such a blessing to us, we’re able to keep in contact with you and Hermione and the rest of the friends we’ve made in your world.”

Blushing a bit, Harry shrugged. “It wasn’t anything really. I just had to get someone at the Ministry to reach out to the British government conservancy group and get you added to the list of people who are authorized to maintain an owl. It works well all around since half of the eggs laid are returned to the wild to bolster the wild populations and the other half are kept in the magical family, so to speak. Since Flaubert is a smaller owl, like Pig, he’s less conspicuous around your house as he’s coming and going.”

Nodding, Helen laughed. “He does seem to see a challenge with some of the packages he’s delivered, but he’s a precious dear.” Nodding, she asked innocently, “Do you know why I named him Flaubert?”

Shrugging, Harry smiled. “I know it’s a literary reference. Hermione was explaining it to me, but I can’t remember ever having read any of his works.”

Smiling, Helen nodded. “Flaubert is a favorite of both mine and my daughter’s because of his exacting use of language. He would spend days or weeks agonizing over a single sentence or paragraph, trying to find the exact word he wanted to use.” Nodding as the server delivered their meals, Helen waited until they were alone before continuing.

“Which is why, when I said that my daughter is very protective of the people she loves. I meant exactly that.” Smiling as Harry froze reaching for a chip, she nodded. “I know my daughter and I know she loves you very much, as well as being very much in love with you. Probably just as much as you love her”

Shaking himself a bit, Harry looked around to see if anyone was paying attention to them. “Helen, Hermione and I are best mates, and we have been since first year. Your daughter cares very much for me, as I do for her.”

Smiling to take the sting out of her words, Helen shook her head. “Harry, does the lying ever get old?” Seeing the hurt look on his face, she held up her hand. “Every time you someone asks you about her, and you give the tired old ‘she’s just my best mate’ routine, it’s a lie. Whenever she asks you what you’re thinking and you tell her something safe rather than telling her that you were thinking she’s the most beautiful woman you’ve ever seen, it’s a lie.”

Closing his eyes, he sat back in his chair. “If she was in love with me, she would have said something. I’m content just being with her and knowing she’s safe and happy.”

Shaking her head, Helen sat back and watched Harry sit there. Watching him fidget, she smiled and sighed. “Harry, I love my daughter and the only thing I’m trying to do is help the two of you past this. I was there at Ginny’s birthday and I saw your face when the two of you came down from her room.” Nodding encouragingly, she smiled at the blush on Harry’s cheeks. “I saw the look on your face the moment you saw Hermione when you came out into the yard. She wasn’t looking your way when you came through the door, but the look on your face showed me everything a mother needed to know.”

Smiling wryly, Harry ran his hand through his hair and released a long breath. “It’s really not fair, you know?”

Looking a bit taken aback, Helen tiled her head a bit. “What’s not fair? The fact that you love my daughter? Because if you’d just admit it to her, I think you’ll be happy with the response.”

Chuckling, he shook his head. “It’s completely unfair that the smartest witch of the age has a mother that’s equally as brilliant.” Smiling, he nodded to acknowledge the look on Helen’s face. “Throw in the fact that her father was a Royal Marine, and it borders upon cruelty.”

Smiling warmly, Helen sighed. “Harry, can you tell me why you haven’t told her you love her? Hermione has the excuse that she’s severely in denial and is still lying to herself about her feelings.” Nodding, she took a sip of juice before continuing. “You, on the other hand have known for at least nine months how you feel. I’ll grant you, it might have been awkward while she was still engaged to your other best mate, but think about just how awkward it would have been if they would have gone through with the wedding.”

For a moment, Helen could see the small, frightened boy that her daughter had befriended all those years ago on the train to Hogwarts. “The truth is, of all the things I’ve faced in my life, the one that scares me the most is the thought if waking up one morning and not having Hermione in my life. Right now, I’m mostly content and she seems happy, and it scares me beyond measuring to risk that.” Shaking his head, he smiled. “There are times when her simply being there takes my breath away.”

Sighing, Helen smiled. “Harry, the two of you share a home. You’re making plans to take raising your godson to the next level and you’re going to adopt the rascal. Neither of you can envision life without the other. Why is it so bloody difficult to confess what both of you so obviously feel?”

Coming out almost a whisper, Harry lowered his eyes and his voice. “She deserves better than being with me. She deserves someone who’s not an emotional wreck, who can tell her exactly how special and wonderful she really is.”

Blinking back t ears, Helen leaned forward to close the distance between the two of them. “Harry, Hermione has chosen you time and time again, over the years. I’d wager that she knows everything there is to know about you by now.”

Seeing the haunted look in his eyes, she smiled reassuringly. “When the nightmares came, she held you and helped you talk them out.” Watching him nod slowly, she continued. “She’s shared all of her fears with you as you have with her. Can you honestly think of one thing in your life, other than the fact you’re hopelessly in love with your best mate, which you haven’t shared with her?”

Shaking his head, Harry refused to raise his eyes to meet hers. “We both kept at it until we had gotten all of the fears and disappointments out of the other. Our childhoods, school, Hogwarts, the war, all of it.” Smiling sadly, he finally looked up and shrugged. “The only thing I ever skirted around was the depth of my fears about losing her.”

Sighing, Helen patted his hand. “Harry, you know this can’t continue. The two of you have got to come clean with each other.” Seeing the look on his face, she nodded reassuringly. “I know it scares you, but the two of you have to face how you feel about each other and decide exactly what you want. This half-life you’ve created is too comfortable for both of you.”

Gripping his hand a bit tighter, she waited until he looked up before she continued. ‘The two of you almost married other people, are you going to wait until she’s standing at the altar with another man before you finally break down and tell her?”

Shrugging, Harry looked up and tried to smile. “Actually, I decided that during the rehearsal dinner was the best time to break the news. That way if she doesn’t feel the same way, I can always blame it on food poisoning. Bad clams or something like that.”

Trying not to laugh, Helen shook her head. ‘You do realize that if you were to wait until then, you’ll never hear the end of it from her, don’t you? “

Laughing, Harry winced. “Probably right, but it’s safer than showing up on her wedding night and telling her. Doing the whole ‘forever hold your peace’ thing during the ceremony is just so cliché.”

Sitting back and nibbling on a chip, Harry looked at Helen with a bit of desperation in his eyes. “This would be immensely easier if I could figure out how to get her to realize she’s in love with me.”

Smiling wickedly, Helen nodded. “Harry, my boy, I’ve been waiting for you to come to that conclusion. It just so happens that I have a bit of a plan that should solve all of your problems with that. You still need to tell her how you feel, but I think we can get my daughter to admit how she feels about you.”

Smiling at her, Harry nodded slowly. “This is part of your plan. Do you think Hermione will be as cooperative as I was?”

Shaking her head, Helen smiled coyly. “Harry, Hermione’s going to be very easy, compared to you. You knew you were in love with her, so you were consciously prepared to deny it. Hermione’s in denial, and I know the one thing that will make it relatively simple to force her to see that.”

Looking mystified, Harry tilted his head and looked puzzled. “And what would that be?”

Laughing, Helen patted Harry’s hand and leaned towards him. “I know exactly when she fell in love with you. Since I’m having lunch with her here tomorrow, here’s what we’re going to do…”

Taking a sip of her wine glass, Harry smiled. “And that’s how your mother and I came up with this little plan. “

Sitting back, Hermione glared from her mother to Harry. “You do realize that you didn’t need to go through this charade, we could have reasonably discussed this and resolved everything like adults.”

Trying not to laugh, Harry looked over at Helen, who was leaning back in her chair, giggling uncontrollably. Losing his control, Harry started laughing and squeezed Hermione’s hand. “Hermione, I love you more than I can say, but that has got to be the most ridiculous thing I’ve heard since Neville conjured up Snape wearing his grandmother’s clothes back in our third year at Hogwarts. It took Ginny almost destroying the Burrow to get me to admit I loved you, and I still couldn’t tell you to your face that night. Between the two of us, we’ve had hundreds of ‘reasonable discussions’ with people over the years about our feelings for each other.” Nodding towards Helen, he smiled gratefully. “Your mum was right, this called for overt action.”

Blushing slightly, Hermione begrudgingly nodded. “Harry, you may be right. If you would have come out and told me how you felt, I honestly don’t know what I would have done.”

Nodding, Harry smiled. “Definitely a risky proposition. If you panicked and bolted, I’d have had a devil of a time finding you until you wanted to be found.”

Smiling shyly, Hermione reached over and took Harry’s hand. “Well, I definitely want to be found now. What do we do from here?”

Smiling, Helen stood up and walked around the table. Reaching out a hand to each of them, she drew them both up from their chairs. “What you two do, is go home to that house of yours, allow Kreacher and Winky to take care of everything with Teddy and dinner tonight, and just relax and let the little details work themselves out. But your father and I will be expecting you two for dinner Wednesday night.” Smiling at the looks on both their faces, she shook her head. “Go, I’ll take care of everything here.”

Breaking eye contact with Harry, Hermione blushed, and nodded. “Mum, we really can’t thank you enough. I think we’ll take your advice and head back to Grimmauld Place. I’m not certain about Harry, but there are a couple of things I definitely want to discuss with him in a less public setting.”

Wrapping his arm around her, Harry smiled. “Helen, we’ll be at the house on Wednesday. Is there anything I can do to repay you?”

Shaking her head, Helen squeezed both their hands. “Harry, I think today would be an excellent day to stop calling me Helen. Unless I’m mistaken, and I tend to be very good at this sort of thing, you might as well start calling me ‘Mum’. I know I can’t take the place of your mother, but Alex and I couldn’t be prouder of you and thankful for all you’ve done for us and for Hermione here. I’d be honored if you’d consider it.”

Blinking back tears, Harry wrapped his arms around her. “Mum, I think I can manage that.” Kissing her on the cheek, he stepped back and took Hermione’s hand again. “Since I know you two will be dying to compare notes, I’m certain you two will see each other before Wednesday.”

Wrapping his arms around Hermione, Harry leaned down and kissed her gently. Hermione put her arms through his, slightly turned, and the pair of them disapparated with a faint ‘pop’.

Smiling, Helen stared at the spot they vacated for a few seconds before resuming her seat. Picking up her wine glass, she sipped slowly, waiting. A couple of minutes later, a red-haired wizard in a garish dragonskin suit joined her at the table.

Shaking his head, George began to laugh. “I’d ask how you did this, but I’m afraid of the answer.”

Smiling mysteriously, Helen lifted her glass in a mock salute. “I’m certain I have no idea what you’re referring to, George. All I did was exercise my prerogative as a mother to look out for her children.”

Seeing the look on his face she shrugged. “I’ve become very fond of that green-eyed rascal over the past four years, and I always knew that Hermione cared more for him than she would admit. Honestly, aren’t you a bit relieved that this is finally over?”

Nodding George began picking at the remains of Hermione’s lunch. “Oi, you’re right on that account. What I’m talking about is how you got everything to come together today?” Reaching into his jacket, he withdrew a battered leather-bound journal. I really didn’t think anything about it when you sent me that owl Friday night, but this morning, something made me check my book here to see who, if anyone, was holding the ticket for 12 May, 2002.” Grinning, George nodded his head towards her. “That wager was made over a year and a half ago, how did you know?”

Smiling, Helen sighed a bit. “When you and Angelina first told Alex and I about this pool on the kids, I thought about it and decided that I’d give them enough time to work this out for themselves. Then I picked a date and told him that if they hadn’t gotten themselves squared away, one way or the other, I’d step in a meddle, just a little.” Ignoring the snort of disbelief from George, she continued. “I only meddled a bit, just enough to take away their excuses. And since today was the perfect day for it, even if Hermione took it badly she’d forgive me once she realized.”

Looking a bit confused, George scratched the hole from his missing ear for a second. “It’s a nice day, but how did you know today would be the day?”

Smiling, Helen reached over and patted George’s hand. “I don’t suppose Hermione ever talked about her grandmother, my mother, much, did she?”

Shaking his head, George frowned in concentration. “I can’t remember her ever mentioning any grandparents, other than Alex’s father Martin. Why?”

Nodding, Helen smiled wistfully. “My mother died when Hermione was young. She met my father during the war. It was very romantic, she was an American nurse and he was an RAF pilot. They stayed here in Britain, and I grew up knowing as many American customs as I did Brittish. My mother and I always went out to brunch on the second Sunday in May and I’ve tried to do the same thing with Hermione, though I suspect she forgets why some years.”

Still looking perplexed, George chewed thoughtfully for a second. “I’m still not certain what your mum being an American has to do with it.”

Smiling, Helen picked up her glass and took a sip. “Here in Britain, Mothering Sunday was back in March. But in America, today is Mother’s Day. And I thought having those two sort themselves out would be just about the nicest Mother’s Day present I could get, even if I had to get it for myself.”

Shaking his head, George looked down in his book and sighed. “Twelve thousand, four hundred and twenty eight galleons isn’t too shabby a Mother’s Day Present, either.”

Smiling, Helen nodded. “There is that. But I think that you’ll find that half of that is going to be the start-up capital for the new tooth healer / dentistry clinic Healer Greengrass and I will be starting.”

Smiling, George laughed. “And the other half?”

Grinning, Helen nodded. “Well, my darling husband has been thinking about getting out of dentistry for some time, and since he has a birthday next week, I was wondering if I could use the rest of the money to buy him a stake in your business. He seems to be a natural at it, and I think the two of you would be smashing as partners.”

Laughing, George stuck out his hand. “Helen, I think I’ve got myself a partner. Happy Mother’s Day!”

Taking his hand, Helen shook it warmly. “Thank you George. Why don’t you stop by the Burrow and wish Molly a Happy Mother’s Day.” Seeing the puzzled look on his face, she smiled. “Bring her some flowers, be nice to her. It’ll help make her feel a bit better before she hears the news about Harry and Hermione.”

Shaking his head, George shuddered. “You’re right, might as well get in her good books today, once she hears the news there will be no living with her for at least a month.”

Laughing, Helen nodded. “Ever the optimist, George. If you’re starting up a pool on when she’s going to get over this, put me down for 5 November.”

Shaking his head, George took out a quill. “Guy Fawkes Night, eh? Aren’t you just the cheerful one? Hip Hip Hooray, indeed.”

“What? Bonfire Night isn’t a good time to celebrate with some of your fireworks?”

“Better than Bastille Day, I suppose.”

“Don’t go losing your head, George. Everything will be fine.”

Laughing, the two of them waved the waitress over for more wine as they spent the afternoon making plans for two businesses and a wedding.

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