Chapter Four – A Simple Question
May the 30th, 2
Ever since the 2nd of May and that drunk night, Harry Potter had been really awkward with the person he always felt comfortable around, Hermione Granger.
Harry was the type of person that when drunk, he would be content enough and afterwards, he could remember a lot of things if not everything. Since Hermione was as awkward around him, she was probably that kind of people while drunk too.
All the things he had considered while he had her close to him at her parents’ house shouldn’t have bothered him so much afterwards, it was supposed to be the alcohol making him think of all the things he had, making him question and wonder, making him regret and feel sorry for… Yet, here he was, twenty eight days later, still thinking over that night, like he had been doing for the past days and still being awkward around Hermione in the few times he saw her in the past weeks. At least his start as an Auror and her busy days with all the hyperventilating students that had to deal with OWLs and NEWTs had kept them apart for most of the time.
As Hermione had predicted, the Prophet had gone mad with their absence at the Ball and Harry had to force himself inside his office through the crowds of reporters almost daily ever since, yet he hadn’t regretted that night, even if Ron had complained about being left out when Lavender was the one inside the trio, splitting one third from the other two, Harry hadn’t regretted that drunk talk he had with Hermione.
He wasn’t sure how much she could remember, in the three or four time he had seen her ever since; they hadn’t touched the subject, yet he was glad something had been cleared between them, even if so many more things had suddenly been fogged
‘What you think, Harry? HAArryyy!!’ little Teddy Lupin was jumping up and down before his Godfather, efficiently drawing his attention when he stepped on Harry’s foot while jumping, making the raven haired man groan and laugh.
‘Looks awesome, buddy,’ Harry finally said as he snapped out of his stupor. With the end of his training and the start at ministry along the Ball on the 2nd, the night of it and the confusing days that had followed, Harry hadn’t made it to have a decent Teddy-Day as he called the days dedicated to his Godchild, he had his day off and had taken Teddy for his late birthday gifts and some fun time for both of them. Right now, choosing the four year old’s first pet, since Adromeda had given the permeation, a beautiful owl would be great for the young boy that had started being school educated until he could attend Hogwarts.
The two got inside and bought the owl, Teddy had chosen, a beautiful brown forest owl along with treats and some other accessories the bird could need and then moved out of the shop, Harry carrying the cage that was too big for Teddy to hold without dragging it on the ground. The rest of Teddy’s gifts were already shrunken and placed in Harry’s pockets as to have the boy with no weight in his own.
‘Aunt Mione bought a book for me for my birthday and she said there’s a second book after it, could we go and buy it?’ Teddy asked and Harry smiled.
‘Hermione had visited you in your birthday?’ Harry asked and Teddy nodded.
‘For awhile, she had stopped by, gave me the gift and left, promising I’ll see her again soon,’ Teddy said as he looked up at Harry, his hair color changing into the chestnut color Harry knew so well, Hermione’s colour. Harry felt guilty for not having the time not even to stop by, of course Hermione would have make some time as she was so organized.
‘I’m sorry I couldn’t be there too, buddy but I was in the last days of my training and they had taken us to a camp for the final tasks.’ Harry said sincerely and the boy grinned and nodded, changing now his hair colour to black, matching Harry’s.
‘It’s OK, Harry, I know, you grownups are all busy and stuff, now can we buy the book, please? Nana is almost done reading to me the one Mione bought,’ Teddy said and Harry chuckled and nodded his head, glad that little children were so easily forgiving the grownups’ mistakes.
Teddy knew the book by the cover and as it seemed it was one the most famous in the children’s section, so he took it from the pile that was formed and moved close to the counter where Harry paid for it, after being informed by Mr Blotts that Hermione could stop by and take the books she had ordered, Harry reassured the owner of the famous bookstore that he’d inform his friend, thanked him and left with his Godson grinning happily for his new gift.
A children’s broomstick, the owl, candies from George’s store, the book and a few quills and parchments for painting were all the things Teddy had asked even if Andromeda had spoken only for the owl, Harry loved to spoil the little guy so he would just have to endure the lecture of the former Black sister when he would take Teddy home.
‘What you want to do now, Teddy?’ Harry asked as the two were moving through the crowd of Diagon Alley. Teddy had learnt never to leave his guardian’s side so he was holding Harry’s hand rather tightly to make sure he won’t get lost.
‘Uhm, could we eat?’ Teddy asked and Harry grinned and nodded as he felt his stomach complaining.
‘Awesome idea,’ Harry said and Teddy grinned as the two men moved with no more words close to the Ice Cream store.
‘I hope you have first eaten some proper lunch or Nana Meda is going to be seriously upset… combining all these gifts… she will lecture for hours.’ A familiar voice to both was heard from behind them and Teddy immediately left Harry’s hand, turned around and ran in Hermione’s arms as the young woman leaned down and scooped the boy in her hands before she could give him a big kiss on the cheek and have one on her own in return. Harry smiled at Hermione even if he felt the awkwardness returning and she looked deep in his eyes a second before she could smile back at him.
‘Hey,’ Hermione said as she approached and Harry smiled as they hugged each other with one arm each since she was holding the toddler and he was holding the toddler’s pet.
‘Hey you, Mione,’ Harry replied after a moment. ‘You’re out of Hogwarts?’ Harry half-asked, half-pointed out and Hermione smiled wider.
‘Well only the seventh years had examinations in the Magical care, their final subject and we had only two fainting and one being bitten by a hippogriff so I was done early and thought of coming here for a quick shopping trip, have ordered some books for my free time over the summer, the school will be closed in a few days.’ Hermione said and Harry nodded his head.
‘They have arrived, Mr. Blotts asked me to inform you,’ Harry said and Hermione gave that old, Hermione-ish beam every time books were involved.
‘But don’t leave, Mione, have lunch with us and then go and take your books,’ Teddy interjected and Hermione looked at Harry who nodded with a gentle smile before she could smile too.
‘You guys are sure ok with me invading your guy day?’ Hermione asked Teddy and he beamed at her and hugged her.
‘Of course!! Right, Harry?’ Teddy asked his Godfather who smiled and nodded again.
‘Absolutely Mione,’ Harry said and Hermione smiled once again.
‘OK then, but we’ll eat a proper lunch at the Leaky Cauldron and then I’ll buy us ice cream,’ Hermione said and the two boys nodded at her words, none in his right mind would mess with Hermione’s schedule of healthy meals and manners.
The trio started moving down the Alley, all the while Teddy being attached on the young woman’s arms, happy to see her. He was always fond of Hermione and she always felt a soft spot for him, since she knew his parents so well, Lupin was the man that told her she was the brightest witch of her age, she had kept his secret in third year and had made her best to equalize his rights like she did with all the non-human or partly-human beings of the Wizarding world.
The trio got inside the Leaky Cauldron and found a table for themselves as Tom approached and took the order. Harry and Teddy showed Hermione all the things they had bought and Hermione smiled gently at the young boy when he showed the book they had bought.
‘Oh you liked the first one? I wanted to buy you the second but I waited for you to finish the first,’ Hermione said and Teddy smiled.
‘Nana is reading it to me every night so we almost finished it,’ Teddy said proudly and Hermione smiled and nodded her head. Harry watched the two as the boy’s hair changed again in Hermione’s colour.
‘You’re going to be like aunt Mione, I think, a great student,’ Harry said and Hermione smiled at him as she blushed slightly, for now all the awkwardness forgotten.
‘Nana says daddy was a great student too,’ Teddy said and the two adults sobered and looked sad.
‘He was, Teddy, and an excellent teacher as well,’ Hermione said as she smiled sadly at the boy while Harry nodded his head.
‘Hey don’t be sad! Daddy is up there watching right now, that’s what Nana says,’ Teddy said as he looked at the two and they both smiled and nodded their heads at the boy’s sweetness.
‘You’re right, Teddy, he’s right up there,’ Harry said and smiled at the boy who was set at one of his sides, opposite Hermione who was sat next to Harry by the other side.
‘So, have you talked about Quidditch yet or I have to endure?’ Hermione asked, trying to change the subject and the boys grinned both.
‘No we haven’t yet, you’re unlucky,’ Harry said teasingly and Teddy laughed. ‘And we haven’t even talked about the massive news.’ Harry added and Hermione groaned.
‘One more time and I will explode,’ Hermione said and Teddy laughed harder at the woman’s exasperated face.
‘Uncle Ron is summoned from the couch of the national team for the keeper’s position in the upcoming Quidditch World Cup in August!!!’ Harry said out loud and Teddy cheered while Hermione grinned at both and their try to actually make her explode.
‘And people in Hogwarts, Hongsmeade, the ministry and every other place I have been is asking me somehow to find tickets for the matches, as if I’m in charge of anything close to that.’ Hermione grumbled and Harry grinned.
‘Well if it makes you feel better, there was a magical riot downtown and I had to go and stop some guys from firing charms randomly, one of the victims was a squib and after realizing it was me in the team, and congratulating and thanking for the whole war thing, he actually asked if I could find tickets for him…’ Harry said and Hermione laughed and rolled her eyes.
‘Oh at least I’m not alone in the world!’ Hermione said with humor in her eyes.
‘You will never be,’ Harry said seriously even if Teddy was chuckling, the humor left her eyes and they looked deep in each other’s orbs once again, before Tom could arrive with their meals.
They started eating, Hermione her spaghetti, Harry his steak and potatoes and Teddy his meatballs and rice – after Hermione cut the meatballs in half so they could be less hot- they clicked their glasses of pumpkin juice and when Teddy set his glass down, Hell broke loose.
‘Why don’t you two get married?’ the little boy asked with genuine wonder in his now emerald green eyes while his hair remained the chestnut brown.
Harry felt the potato rising up his throat as he had just swallowed and soon he was coughing with his eyes tearing up because of the sudden change of the food’s direction. He gripped the napkin by his plate and coughed harder while Hermione was in a similar fate with her bite of spaghetti. Teddy was still looking expectantly for the two to survive.
‘Uhm, well, Teddy, why should Harry and I get --married?’ Hermione asked with a tone of wonder but with something more Harry couldn’t place or like if he had to admit.
‘Why should you not? You love each other, don’t you?’ Teddy replied with a question.
‘Of course we do,’ both Harry and Hermione answered and glanced at each other before they could brush off the jump their hearts performed.
‘Well, there you go,’ Teddy said, Hermione smiled and Harry guessed she had some diplomatic way to clear things out.
‘Well I love you too but I think we can’t get married…’ Hermione said teasingly and Teddy grinned but shook his head.
‘Uhm no, I guess but you don’t love me the same, right?’ Teddy replied with another question and Hermione brightened up.
‘Exactly, and I love Harry like a brother,’ Hermione said and Harry watched her. ‘And he loves me like a sister…’ she added, there it was again, that odd feeling he had felt twenty eight days ago, this was supposed to be the truth, he had said it out loud first, years ago, now why was he feeling like that when he heard the things he had said, having Hermione adding her last words a bit curtly maybe?
‘But you’re both only children like me, how can you know you love each other like siblings? You don’t have siblings.’ Teddy pointed out and Hermione’s previous beam darkened. Harry decided to try and rescue her. ‘You said you love him,’ Teddy pointed out and Hermione nodded. ‘And do you, Harry?’ Teddy asked his Godfather.
‘Of course I love her,’ Harry said firmly as he felt her eyes on him. ‘However, the fact that I love Hermione and she loves me doesn’t mean that we have to get married, Teddy…’ Harry tried this time and looked at the little boy before him, all the while realizing that he was saying even like that, “I love you” to someone for the first time, he had never said it to Ginny, not even right before his departure for the Horcrux Hunt or right after it, when they had reunited or in the few months their relationship had lasted. ‘Right, Hermione?’ Harry asked in addition to his words as to both get confirmed and to ignore the feeling of realization.
‘Yes, yes of course, we’re best friends.’ Hermione rushed to say and nodded her head as she pinned her eyes on Teddy and didn’t look at Harry. The raven haired man turned his head and looked at his Godchild again, sure the uncomfortable talk was over, he was mistaken as he realized by Teddy’s face.
‘Well my daddy and mommy were friends too, Nana told me that and that you two have sacrificed everything for each other, just like mommy and daddy did.’ Teddy added with the pure honesty only a four year old could manage, making the situation even more complex with the mention of an actual couple that started as friends and only death took them apart as a couple. ‘And nana never said that Ron or Ginny that are siblings for real ever sacrificed everything for each other or for you,’ the boy added, to make matters worse.
Food and drinks forgotten the two adults stared at the boy for a few moments as he was looking at them too, a glimpse of triumph shining in his green eyes. ‘So… when you two will get married?’ his first question was restored with a better one. Harry shook his head as Hermione sighed deeply.
‘Wait, buddy, hang on, your mom and dad fell in love with each other, loving someone is not the same with falling in love with them,’ Harry tried, not sure if he could explain the question that was to come.
‘What do you feel when you’re in love?’ the question arrived and Harry glanced at Hermione again who sighed and decided to try and help once again.
‘Well…’ Hermione started. ‘You want to do your best for the person you’re in love with,’ Hermione started and Harry nodded his head, deciding to help her.
‘You want to be high in that person’s eyes, not to disappoint…’ he added and Hermione nodded too.
‘You can know what the other wants just by looking at the eyes,’ Hermione added with her turn and Harry nodded, glad he would finally end this when they would have explained to Teddy.
‘You must be feeling like losing your breath if something happens to that person,’ Harry added again.
‘You have to be reaching for that person’s hand anytime you feel like it and not hesitate,’ Hermione said this time, both of them more comfortable by every passing moment.
‘You have to put the other person’s needs above yours no matter what, you have to function like one being,’ Harry added and Hermione glanced at him for a moment before she could nod her head.
‘You have to able to read that person’s mind, know what that person needs, be there at that person’s worse and yet, never expect something in return…’ Hermione added and the two adults looked at the young boy uncertain, they had been carried away with their explanation, forgetting that they’re talking to a four year old…
‘Yeah… well, uhm… do you feel like that for each other?... Or have you done the things you just said about each other?... And I have some words that I don’t know what they mean…’ Teddy said as Harry and Hermione looked at each other again, that awkwardness suddenly magnifying inside them.
The silence stretched for several moments, moments of the two staring at each other. Harry was looking at Hermione, too afraid to even consider that these twenty eight days of awkwardness now reached their peak because a truth had been revealed.
No, he was an adult, a grown man; if he had fallen for Hermione, he would have noticed! He had been feeling all the things he and she had described but no, Hermione was… Hermione was Hermione! She was always there, at the mare thought of him having lost what was in front of his eyes for all these years made him feel completely stupid, his eyes showed all these things, his denial and since they did, she could see as they stared at each other’s eyes.
‘Uhm we have, but we’re like siblings,’ Hermione finally said, after her eyes narrowed for a fraction of the second before she could tore her gaze and look at Teddy who just snorted, chuckled and shrugged before he could return to his meatballs.
‘Fine….sure, what is “functioning”?’ the boy finally surrendered and asked the first of the words that didn’t know the meaning of.
The rest of the meal lasted only a few more minutes, Hermione ate a couple more bites of the food she previously was eating with much more eagerness, just like Harry was with his own but then she announced that she had to go and take her books and return to Hogwarts as she had remembered a forgotten job she had to take care of , before Teddy could complain Hermione asked of Harry to take the boy for the promised ice cream and Harry nodded absentmindedly as his mind was already away.
Hermione might had left, after kissing Teddy on the cheek and saying to Harry she’d soon see him again at their flat, he and Teddy might had finished their meal, went for the ice cream that Harry didn’t even touch until the poor thing melted in the small bowl. They might had returned in Andromeda’s house, where the older woman lectured about the redundant gifts of Teddy but then surrendered and gave Harry a cake for his flat with Hermione and Ron, yet Harry’s mind was still away, thinking the things he and Hermione had told Teddy about people being in love.
He had thought he was in love with Ginny, but had he ever cared of being high in her eyes? Of reaching for her help even if he would put her to danger, just because he knew he couldn’t function intact otherwise? Why he never told her he loves her, he indeed loved her like he did with other people and back then he was supposedly in love with her, why he never felt like saying it?
He had been looking at her dot in the map when he was in the tent and right before Voldemort could cast the Avada, he had thought of her lips’ texture, yet, why he hadn’t thought of her eyes, or the way her hand felt in his? Why her voice never became the one of his consciousness? Why he didn’t search for her first thing when the battle was over? Instead he had tried to find his best friends…
Why he never made it to read another girl’s eyes? Cho, his first crush, or Ginny, his first complete relationship. Why hadn’t it worked back then? Why everyone thought he and Hermione were an item? People, from the four year old Teddy who made them answer what falling in love is, up to Ron, his and Hermione’s best friend, the person whose worse fear was once of them ending up together and Hermione choosing him over Ron.
Harry groaned loudly as a headache started building and he felt his temples throbbing as he had been frozen before a bench in the park close to his flat that he somehow had apparated in. he sat on the bench with the cake resting on his lap, like his hands that held it did, his eyes staring at nowhere.
Could he be so blind?
Hermione had been there all the time; would he have not noticed something? She had been doing the things they had described too, would they have noticed something? It had been more than a decade ever since they met, of course they were young during the first years of their friendship but later on she had showed signs of fancying Ron, maybe not loving him but fancying him for sure, and then she had kissed Ron before the battle. Harry remembered that old uncomfortable feeling in his stomach. But she had remained by his side and not Ron’s in the tent, when Ron actually left, and then it was Hermione who got tortured and yet she didn’t betray Harry.
Hermione was the one to do so many things for him, to sacrifice everything for him.
“…I love Harry like a brother…”
“… And he loves me like a sister…”
“…we’re best friends…”
“…we’re like siblings…”
Her words felt more awkward and unpleasant than what he’d like to admit, but they did, this was supposed to be the truth, well this was the truth for her since she had spoken it out loud. They were supposed to be like siblings, he groaned as more questions flew in his head, questions like who put these “rules”, these “limits” to their hearts and why and under what circumstances so many decisions had been made and so many standards had been set back then and how much objective these “rules” and these “limits” could be when set up during a war, when everything was under such pressure?
With a shake of his head, Harry decided to spare himself the torture of answering all that, until for now.
He loved Hermione, that was a unchangeable fact and it was something, his headache and his inner fear prevented him to dig deeper inside him, maybe he should let sleeping dogs lie as he wasn’t even sure why he was searching for something that if indeed true, could jeopardize the most important bond he ever had with someone, his friendship with the only person that never abandon him: Hermione Granger.
so what u think guys? please review and let me know what u think of hhr and our sweet little teddy :D