Chapter 4 : The Sober Request of a Drunken Wizard
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Chapter 4- The Sober Request of a Drunken Wizard
Hermione dusted herself off from having taken the floo to Harry’s flat. Lily seemed to be able to follow her without any problem although the dust from floo avoided her conveniently, Hermione noted begrudgingly. Only one light by the sofa was on, the rest was all pitch black.
“Hmmm… I wonder where Harry is,” posed Lily after she searched the apartment only to find it empty.
Hermione smacked a hand to her forehead. “Oh I forgot! He’s got a date tonight,” she explained.
“Who’s the lucky witch?” inquired Lily with a curious eyebrow.
“Ginny Weasley. Don’t get your hopes up though. She’s been asking him for months. He just recently said yes. He says he doesn’t see it going anywhere,” replied Hermione reassuringly.
Whether the girl was trying to reassure Lily or herself, Lily could not deduce. Although it goes without saying that she did have a feeling. James might’ve added that she always had a feeling regarding that department. Now it was simply her time to test her “feelings”.
With a subtle wave of her wand, Hermione set a fire in the hearth illuminating the living room and giving it a healthy glow. Lily could finally see the details of the room.
“I suppose we’ll just have to wait for him to come back. I think the date started at seven. It’s eight-thirty now so I would think we’ll only have to wait a short time before he returns.”
Lily nodded her agreement and then began examining her son’s slightly messy apartment. She took note of how basically everything was out of place… much like how James had done with their home at the Hollow. She had pretty much had to follow James around and pick up after him as he left a room. Even if he just sat down to read! For ten minutes! There would always be about twenty books thrown about along with several cups of tea. It was absolutely ridiculous! Also due to James’ sweet tooth, there were always cookie crumbs everywhere. At the time she already had a one year old little boy, but she also happened to be married to a four year old.
But now seeing Harry’s apartment in a style much like her old home made her smile despite all of her annoyances with the general cleanliness of it.
“Like father, like son…” she muttered under her breath.
Hermione simply watched as Lily meticulously studied every nook and cranny of Harry’s living room. She had a sense that the older witch was likely to do the same in every room of Harry’s. As Lily passed over to the pictures hanging on the wall, Hermione finally spoke.
“That’s Ron, Harry, and me. Third year by Hagrid’s hut. Harry had just ridden Buckbeak for the first time.”
“Oh… right. A hippogriff. We used a time turner third year to save Buckbeak from execution and Sirius from the Dementors. After that night, Sirius kept him… at least until he-” Hermione stopped abruptly not sure if she should broach the topic.
“Died?” Lily offered nonchalantly.
“Erm… yeah,” confirmed Hermione awkwardly.
“It’s alright you know.” Hermione looked at Lily unsure and slightly confused. “To speak about death, I mean. James and I are rather happy where we are. Sirius, Remus, Tonks… they all are too. After so many death days, it doesn’t really bother you anymore. The only people that still seem put off by the subject are the living, but you don’t need to be.”
She suddenly found that she had a number of questions she wanted to ask all about the after life. Lily had mentioned Grim Reapers before. And now here she was speaking of Sirius, Remus, and Tonks like she saw them everyday. It was all rather baffling.
“Go ahead and ask Hermione.” Lily had seen the younger witch’s furrowed brow and knew that her mind must’ve been racing with inquiries.
“Well… what is it like… up there, I guess?”
“As a ghost of only one day, I’m not permitted to tell you too much. But I can say that it’s mostly individual. Like every person is different so is every person’s heaven. Many times though people’s heavens cross over into other’s… you can meet some strange folk that way!”
“So then I take it yours and James’ cross. And then so do Remus’s, Tonks’s, and Sirius’s.” Lily simply nodded as she continued to move down the wall staring at the pictures from Harry’s years at Hogwarts.
“Can you… erm… can you see us down here?” asked Hermione slightly uncomfortable with the idea that Harry’s parents could be watching her every move.
“No… thank Merlin for that.” Lily chortled. “You dream in Heaven. But it’s not like here where you can dream about… I don’t know… bunnies in turtle necks. Your dreams are always attached to the living, they always have purpose. I used to dream about Harry every night my first death year. So did James. But sooner or later, you realize you must let them be. Now it’s only every so often. If Harry’s particularly worried or if he’s in danger or feeling a strong emotion towards someone… then I dream about him.” Lily grinned secretively at Hermione as she finished, knowing the reason why she had arranged to come here. Her latest dream in fact.
Turning back to the pictures on the wall, Lily caught sight of one with just Harry and Hermione by the Lake at Hogwarts. Her eyes twinkled.
“So don’t you have any plans for tonight? It is Halloween after all,” stated Lily.
“No. Harry and I normally stay in on Halloween. Ron too, if he wasn’t off in Romania with Charlie… We seem to have bad luck with Halloween. First year, I got attacked by a troll. Second year, the Chamber of Secrets was opened. Third, Sirius got into Hogwarts… that’s back when we thought Sirius was trying to kill Harry. Fourth year, Harry’s name got pulled for the Triwizard Tournament which then led to Voldemort and all that... This day just never turns out well. The most we do is go over to the Weasley’s for a Halloween supper. Harry doesn’t really enjoy going out anyway. He just gets stared at. It’s rather uncomfortable for him.”
Lily nodded in understanding.
Just then they heard a muffled voice outside of the front door and the obvious noise of someone fumbling for their keys.
“Hermione… one last thing before Harry gets here. You can’t let him know that I’m haunting you.”
“What? Why not?” asked Hermione perplexed.
“Well… I think it may upset him not getting to see me. I’d rather just have him enjoy his time with James than worry about why he doesn’t get to see his mother.”
“Right. Right, of course,” agreed Hermione just as the door flew open.
In walked… actually that was too stable a word… more like, in staggered Harry. Hermione’s face immediately set into a worried expression.
“Holy crickets… my son is drunk.” Lily’s eyes went wide with the realization and her nose flared just a little having gotten a whiff of the alcohol on his breath from all the way across the room.
“Hermi-O-ne! Whatcha doin’ herrre?” asked Harry as he stumbled further into the living room towards her. Harry tripped and fell forward just catching Hermione’s forearms to steady himself.
“Waiting for you to find out how your date went… By the looks of it I’m guessing it started off rather shaky but ended well,” she replied with a smirk. Harry looked up from his position to wink at her and then attempted to correct himself so he could stand. “So how did you come about getting all-”
“Snockered?” offered Lily who was still staring at her son’s drunken coordination. The best of Quidditch skills could not have saved poor Harry from the amount of alcohol that appeared to be flowing in his veins.
“Well ya see Hermi-O-kneee… I was having a lovely meal with Ginnnny Weasley.” Hermione steadily helped him over to the sofa as he continued to explain. “And then juss outta nowhere… I FEEL a breeze from ABOVE! And I looook up and der up in the ceiling falling down at me is my Da’! Can you believe it?!”
“No I can’t Harry…” Hermione chuckled as she began helping him take off his shoes.
“Welllll neither could I! I was shocked. SHOCKED! Sssssooooo I went t’ the bathroom and hurled-”
“You threw up?” asked Hermione, still with a huge grin on her face. She eyed Lily who also shared a similar expression seeing the humor in Harry’s condition as he explained the night’s happenings.
“Wellll yeahhh… Said I was shocked, didn’t I?” Hermione nodded. “Thennn he came and got me. Toook me back outta theerrrre to eat wit Ginny. Sooo then I ha’ a date with Ginny AND my Da’! It was terrible!” Harry’s hands flew up into the air as he exaggerated his point. Suddenly his head went off to the right, “Oi! Shut it, you git! It was THE worst date EVER in the hissory o’ dating!”
Hermione looked to Lily and saw that she too could not see James in the room. Lily just shrugged. Apparently, only the haunted had the sole privilege of seeing their ghost. Not even the ghosts could see each other.
“So how did you end up like this then Harry?” Hermione tried to lead him back to the topic at hand.
“Oh yeah… Well Da’ made me order the mos’ esspensive bottle of wine they ha’! French elves made it and e’rything! Turns out Ginny isn’ much of a drinker… so it was pretttty much a bottle jus’ for me….” Suddenly Harry got really quiet as he stared off again towards the hallway. “Da’, whatta talkin’ bout? Mum’s not even heeerrre. ‘Ow she gonna know?”
“James! You know I heard that! You and that Godforsaken elfish wine! You’re here for one day and you have to influence our son like this…” Lily paced as she screamed at her husband despite the fact that he could in no way hear her. “You know the alcohol content of that wine is far too high for one person to have a whole damn bottle by HIMSELF!!!! Thoughtless, arrogant Pureblood!!!” The fire in the hearth surged as Lily finished her rant.
Harry and Hermione’s heads both snapped to the bright fire before it settled back down to its usual soft glow.
“Da’ says I got ‘im in trouble,” smirked Harry to Hermione. She could only help but return it.
Lily paused her pacing as she caught the shared look between Hermione and Harry. As angry as she was at James, she could feel the anger dissipate only to be replaced by a warm tingling in her chest as she watched the couple before her. She let them sit there like that for a few seconds in each other’s company before breaking the moment.
“Hermione maybe it would be best if we put Harry to sleep,” said Lily breaking the tension.
“Right… Harry, come. Let’s get you off to bed.” Hermione gently placed one arm around Harry’s waist as he lazily lounged one of his over her shoulders. She led him to his bedroom flicking the light on as she went. He practically fell onto the bed when they got there. As he situated himself to a more comfortable position Hermione took a seat at the edge of his bed.
“Do you have any pain reliever potion? Or hangover potion for the morning? I hear elfish wine headaches are the worst.”
“Na… used the last o’ it for the Cannons match a weeeek ago,” replied Harry.
Hermione remembered that night vividly. Ron and Harry went a little overboard at the game since the Cannons had won their first game of the season. She had had to put Harry to bed just like she was doing now… except in that case he had been far worse.
“Well I’ll make sure to pick you up some and pop by in the morning,” she said as she smoothed away some of his unruly hair from his forehead, a habit that she could not help. Her hand wandered down to caress his cheek softly as his eyes fluttered closed with her touch. Then just as she was about to pull away, he stopped her.
He caught her hand and held it where it was, gently covering hers with his own.
Harry wrapped her hand in his bringing it down to his chest and placing it there with care. For the second time that night Hermione found herself staring deep into a pair of almond shaped green eyes that she had come to adore more than anything.
His voice was gruff just barely above a whisper, but she had heard him just as clear as day. She let out an unsteady breath. His eyes were sincere with their innocent hopefulness. If not for his earlier entrance, she could’ve sworn he was sober.
“Please….” He added as an afterthought.
She sat silent unable to answer. A part of her wanted to so badly, but Harry only seemed to have the courage to ask after he’d been drinking. And that was no way to start a relationship off with your best friend. So there she sat again like she had done many times before unable to take the offer she so desperately wanted because it wasn’t given under the right state… damn conscience.
“I’m intoxicated… you’re supposed to be taking advantage of me by now,” said Harry with a suggestive look, cowardly masking over the genuine request that was laid down before.
“Am I?” She crooked an eyebrow. “I was under the impression I was supposed to be putting you to bed.”
“Exactly,” he said with a mischievous grin. Hermione simply rolled her eyes in response.
“Get some sleep. I’ll see you in the morning,” she said with finality leaning forward to kiss his forehead goodnight.
As she attempted to pull away, Harry hardened his reserve and placed his hands on her upper arms to keep her from leaning away. He caught her eyes with his. “Hermione…please… One of these days you’re going to have to take the offer or else one of these days I’m just going to stop offering.”
It wasn’t a threat, nor was it said in an accusing manner. It was merely a fact.
Regardless of his drunkenness, he knew one thing was true: he was tired of their banter, tired of dating other people, and more importantly tired of making the suggestion to her. He could only take being turned down so many times… if you could call it that. It was more of a silent treatment. She never answered, she never refused. She just simply sat stock still, never letting him know what was going on in that head of hers. And he had learned long ago that guessing was damn near pointless.
“Harry…” She managed to choke out. Her resolve was fading fairly quickly. If she stayed so close to him like this with their faces just millimeters apart she knew she would give in. But she feared the morning after more so than the act of doing anything. What if he regretted the decision he’d made during his intoxication? What if he didn’t want her the next day?
“Fine…” whispered Harry miserably as he released her, letting his arms fall limply to his sides giving up the fight. “You win…”
The moment his touch was gone, Hermione felt like she might cry. She quickly got up and made for the door, turning the light off as she went.
Unbeknownst to her, two ghosts had been standing in the hall unaware of each other but very much aware of the conversation that had just taken place within that bedroom.
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