Chapter 5- Apothecaries, Hangovers, and Confessions.
The next morning, bright and early, Hermione made her way to Slug and Jigger’s Apothecary in Diagon Alley. Despite how the previous night had ended she still fully intended on keeping her promise in picking up Harry some hangover potion from the store even if she did happen to dread seeing him. Normally she would’ve just resigned to brew the potion herself, but the last batch she had agreed to do was used so quickly by her two best friends that it almost negated the work she put into it. Instead, she had as of late resulted to buying the more expensive already made potions as opposed to making it herself. Plus she didn’t really mind dropping by the Apothecary since she had to pick up a few other things anyway.
The bell above the door jingled as she entered the shop.
Hermione went down the aisles scanning the sections before finally stopping at Magical Herbs. As she searched through the section’s offerings, she felt Lily inspect them from over her shoulder.
“No, no you don’t want that one. It’s not fresh enough. Smell it, you’ll see,” interjected Lily just as Hermione was sifting through some shrivelfig. “Also it’s better if you get it already peeled… Although you can always peel it at home, but the closer it’s peeled to the time it’s been picked is always best.”
Hermione was about to comment, but thought better of it and just continued to search for her necessities through the section. She bent down low to where the dittany vials were and took a couple filled with the brownish liquid.
“Dittany? Why would you need to have that around?” asked Lily curiously as Hermione placed the two vials into her bag.
“Harry and Ron have a tendency to get injured a lot. I always keep a few spare bottles just in case. A habit, I guess… from the war,” clarified Hermione as she moved onto the next section, Magical Pusses and Goos. “Plus it’s best to stock up, they rarely have it.”
“You worry about him a lot, don’t you?” Even though it was a question, it felt more like a statement.
“He’s Harry,” replied Hermione with a shrug as she kept her eyes firmly on the bubotuber pus vial she was currently looking at even though she had absolutely no use for it and no intention of buying it.
Lily could see the girl’s avoidance of the issue, but she also knew that she only had a few precious hours left to haunt her. Now was definitely not the time to brush aside a much needed conversation. Hell wasn’t this the whole reason she came here in the first place?
“Soooo…” Lily began, trying to sort out the best way to strike up the conversation. Finally she simply decided to go for bluntness… it had always suited her well. “How long have you been in love with my son?”
Hermione’s hand dropped the pus vial she was holding on to. Luckily her hand was still within the shelf so the vial only fell a short distance rolling after it landed and knocking more over. As it came to a stop, it rocked back and forth slightly.
“Wh-what?” said Hermione taken aback.
“You heard me, Hermione.” Lily always had a sort of keen perception… it was the main reason why she had done so well in her studies. She picked up on things long before her peers. It gave her a kind of smugness about her ability to suss things out before everyone else. Whereas James on the other hand was conceited about his athleticism, Lily had taken one from his book, only hers was ground in her insight and intellect.
Hermione hurriedly righted the vials she had toppled over, all the while still evading Lily’s eye contact.
Lily placed a hand on one of Hermione’s to calm the young girl’s frantic behavior. “Hermione, dear, look at me.” Lily waited while Hermione slowly turned to her. “You’re not daft… neither am I. So might as well just spill… How long have you known?”
With a great sigh, Hermione faced her fully. “A few months now… and I know he-he cares for me too. I just-”
“You’re scared,” stated Lily. Hermione’s head fell slightly. As proud as she was of her Gryffindor courage during times of danger, she also knew it utterly failed her when it came to expressing what she wanted. She’d had feelings for her best friend for months and still hadn’t been able to articulate it.
“Well… why didn’t you stay then when he asked you last night?” Lily felt like she already had an inkling towards the answer but the point of this was to get Hermione to talk so she resigned to asking.
“You heard all that?” Hermione received that answer with just a simple look. “Figures… Well. He acts like that every time he drinks.”
“Just because he’s intoxicated doesn’t mean he’s not being truthful,” said Lily as she searched Hermione’s face.
“I know… it’s just that. He can only say it when he’s like that. I mean... what if-”
“What if he doesn’t feel the same in the morning?” Hermione couldn’t look at Lily for fear of letting the witch see all of her deep rooted insecurities, ones that she had had all her life. She had worked her whole life to prove she was more than just some bushy-haired, big toothed bookworm. But ultimately somewhere deep within her she still felt like that same girl, the girl that no boy noticed.
Lily’s eyes softened. A part of her recognized those insecurities because they were the same ones she’d had herself. But she had learned long ago that brains did not have to mean no beauty. “Hermione, dear, that’s impossible. Harry cares for you so much… I would know. I’m his mother.”
Hermione still didn’t seem to be convinced as her hands played with the loose string on her bag.
“Hermione, I know for a fact that Harry thinks about you all the time. You’re just as much on his mind as he is on yours.” Lily shrugged deciding to let Hermione ponder on that. She continued her stroll through the aisles pretending to peruse through the different sections. Hermione seemed perplexed by Lily’s words as she watched the older woman drift through the store. Deciding not to ask the question that had now seeped into her brain, Hermione grabbed the last of her needed ingredients and then went to the front counter to pay and ask for the hangover potion in the shelf behind the clerk.
“Are you ever going to get up?” asked James poking Harry in the shoulder. The only response he got was a long drawn out groan. “It’s eleven! You are on the right track to sleeping away your entire day.”
Harry opened one eye to look at the blurry figure of his father hovering over him. Reaching over to the night stand he found his glasses and put them on getting a much clearer picture.
“Ahhh there’s my boy! Good morning!”
“Bahhh Dad… not so loud,” winced Harry massaging his throbbing head.
“Right… right. I forgot. Elfish wine and all,” smirked James as Harry was obviously experiencing the downside to drinking. “Well that lovely friend of yours, Hermione, brought over some hangover potion earlier this morning. I’d-”
“Hermione came over?” asked Harry with interest.
“Yes. She left the potion and a note on the counter in the kitchen.” Just as soon as the words came out of his mouth, Harry burst up (a little faster than he was ready for) and hastened to the kitchen. “Well next time I want to get you up I’ll know to just drop her name,” muttered James as he followed Harry.
Harry grabbed the note and read it to himself. With a “pff” and a shrug, he crumpled it up and threw it in the trash bin.
“Well that was anticlimactic.” Harry just glared at his father. “Oh come now… tell dear old Dad what it said. It can’t be that bad.”
Harry pulled the vial out of the paper bag, uncorked it, and took a swig. Immediately he felt the nausea fade and his head begin to clear. “It didn’t say anything… ‘Here’s your potion. Hope you feel better.’ That’s it.” Despite Harry trying to pull off like he didn’t want there to be more written in the note, it was quite obvious by his tone. James just raised an eyebrow seeing his son’s displeasure.
“That’s it? Figured there’d be more with the way last night went,” shrugged James nonchalantly.
Harry took the bait.
“I knew you were listening in!”
“What?” cried James with mock innocence. “A pretty girl puts my son to bed and I’m not allowed to listen in?! The night was just getting interesting… sue me.”
“I ought to.”
“You can’t. I’m dead,” retorted James with a smile.
“Very funny,” said Harry as he went about the kitchen making his breakfast.
“So… really now. Tell me about her,” tried James, his usual teasing demeanor having evaporated for the time being and instead was replaced with concern. “It’s obvious you care very deeply for her.”
Harry cracked a couple of eggs into a frying pan while James attempted to study his features. He never really was very good at these things. It was normally Lily that dealt with the sentimental stuff. James was always sort of a dunce when it came to feelings. That’s why Lily was such a match for him; she didn’t have a problem with downright telling him exactly how she felt. There was no guessing with Lily.
“Welllll…” coaxed James trying to get Harry to talk.
“Well… she’s been my best friend since I was eleven. Her and Ron were my first friends really.”
“And when did that all change?” asked James.
“I don’t know… it’s just been different lately. I’ve been feeling different towards her. But she doesn’t seem to think of me the same way-”
“Oh that’s just a load of dragon dung! You were looking through drunken eyes last night,” denied James loudly. Seeing Harry close up again, James settled back down and softened his tone, “Harry, I’m telling you. You should’ve seen how upset she was when she left. That conversation really got to her.”
Harry just continued watching his eggs scramble.
“So are you going to tell her how you feel?” posed James attempting to get Harry to open up again.
“I already did.”
“Yeah last week. After the Cannons match, I told her that I…I-” Harry almost seemed too embarrassed to continue, but seeing the expectant look on his father he kept going. “I told her I thought I was falling for her,” finished Harry quietly as he turned the stove off and dished out his eggs.
James felt stunned. Harry had come right out and pretty much showed this girl his bleeding heart only to get nothing in return? Something didn’t seem right. Suddenly James remembered a little snippet of Harry and Hermione’s conversation last night.
“You were drunk then, weren’t you?” James couldn’t help the accusing tone that came with it.
“Well… yeah. But that’s beside the point! I told her didn’t I?!”
“Yeah you did, son. And I give you credit for that and all. But you can’t tell someone you love them and expect them to take you seriously when you’re pissed out of your mind! She is a woman after all!” James didn’t know much in the women department but he sure as hell knew that rule!
Harry threw up his hands. “She’s Hermione, Dad!”
With that comment James raised a very inquisitive eyebrow, “Yeah and what’s that supposed to mean?”
Suddenly Harry seemed very flustered. “Dad, this isn’t just like I’m saying it to any girl on the street. We’ve been friends for years! And we’ve been through a lot. Regardless of my sobriety, I said it and I meant it. I told her and I meant it! That was supposed to change things!”
“So because she’s been your best friend a number of years that means she doesn’t get to be told properly? It means you’re allowed to tell her-”
“No, I’m not saying that… Hermione deserves to be told straight… It-it’s just that she should’ve seen. She should’ve seen that it was real. And we should’ve talked about it the next day. But she didn’t, she never does. She ignores it and avoids me for a week. I never get the chance to do it right because we never have the day after conversation.”
“Never get the chance? Harry the girl is a short floo away! You can have that conversation any time!” cried James incredulously.
“I know…” whispered Harry as he poked at his eggs.
“Then what’s the hold up?”
Harry continued to stare at his plate slowly moving his eggs around in a circle instead of eating them. “What if she doesn’t… what if she doesn’t feel it too? It’s not like she hasn’t had the opportunity to say it back to a drunk who could possibly forget it in the morning,” he muttered.
“Son, you have to stop these games. If there’s anything I’ve learned from trying to court your mother, it’s that games don’t work. People respond to honesty, Harry. The day your mum first kissed me was the day I told her that I thought she was the most brilliant witch and the most amazing person I’d ever had the privilege to have met. And I just sort of blurted it out by accident… Merlin knows I wouldn’t really ever say those things!!... But she kissed me for it. Now look where we are!”
“Dead?” ventured Harry dryly.
James chuckled. “No… I was going for married. My point is that you just have to be honest with her. You have to tell her AND you have to be sober. Hermione may be your best friend, but that doesn’t mean she can’t be treated like a lady. And not like some girl you make random drunken confessions too. For Merlin’s sake, I’ve confessed my love to Sirius a time or two while under the influence of Firewhisky!”
Harry smiled at the thought.
“Trust me, Harry. She feels the same. But by the looks of it, she needs you to say it right,” finished James with a nod.
Harry was silent as he contemplated the things his father said. Slowly he got up and washed his plate setting it in the rack. Unfortunately James didn’t offer much time for thought.
“Right so off you go. Get dressed! We have work to do!”
“Work?” inquired Harry skeptically.
James wrapped an arm around him. “We have to get you ready for your big proclamation, Romeo!”
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