Chapter 2 : Chapter Two
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After sleeping throughout the night, Hermione was woken up by sunlight pouring through the windows of her apartment. She sat up, rubbing her eyes sleepily, and slipped out of bed and through her bedroom door. "Harry, you up?" She called as she made her way to the kitchen.
Harry winced as the sunlight hit his eyes, feeling as if he has been blinded. Swinging himself out of bed, his feet hit the cold floor just as he heard Hermione's voice calling to him from the hall. He groaned his assent, slowly pulling his robes over his head before trudging into the kitchen with a wide yawn.
“Morning.” Hermione smiled sleepily, raking a hand through her hair as she curled up on the sofa with a cup of coffee. “Sleep well?”
Harry smiled, nodding and indicating his tousled hair and robes. "Very well, thanks." He suddenly grinned, "Those pancakes you ordered, Madame? Shall you be wanting those now?" He asked, his enquiry accompanied by a terrible posh accent and the adopted the stance of a nineteenth century servant.
“Why yes, thank you, Sir.” Hermione said in an equally terrible accent, and she laughed, a huge smile spreading across her features, and she shook her head. “Can I help you?”
"No, no, no, Madame!" Harry said, scurrying over to push Hermione back in her seat with the same accent in place. "You just put your feet up, and I will take care of everything!" He bowed, winking. "Though," he whispered, dropping his act for just a second, "I make a pretty mean pancake. You have been warned."
Hermione rolled her eyes, letting him push her back into the chair with a giggle. “I have to say, monsieur. That's an... Interesting accent.” She raised her eyebrows, barely holding back a grin. “May I ask where you're from?”
"Madame, I thought this would be obvious." Harry grinned, mixing the pancake batter. "I am from Mayfair, my fair lady." He winked, laughing softly and pouring the batter in to a pan.
“Mayfair? Huh...” Hermione nodded, suppressing a laugh to try and keep a straight face. “I see.” She sighed, taking an old book out of a pile and leafing through it.
"Indeed," Harry replied, trying not to laugh, "It is a very lovely neighbourhood." He tilted his head upward, sticking his nose in the air in a show indicative of his posh status before flipping the first pancake over.
“I'm sure it is.” She grinned, wondering how much longer Harry was going to keep up this act, and she peered over the counter at the pancakes he was making. “The pancakes are looking good.”
"Thank you, Madame." Harry nodded primly, flipping the pancake on to a plate and taking a bow. "Order up!" He yelled, his demeanour rapidly transforming to that of a stereotypical American Diner worker.
“I'll have two.” Hermione crossed over to the counter, picking up a fork and a couple of pancakes. She tore off a piece, taking a bite and breaking into a grin. “Or five. Job well done, monsieur.”
Harry grinned widely, taking a sweeping bow at her praise. "My absolute pleasure, Madame." He beamed at her, picking up some pancakes of his own and sitting across from her at the table. "You'll have to watch what you say though, or I'll get a big head." He joked across at her, dumping copious amounts of maple syrup on his plate.
“I think it's a bit too late to protect you from getting a big head, Chosen One.” Hermione joked, reaching over to get the syrup and putting a fair amount on her pancakes.
Harry scowled at Hermione, flicking a stray piece of pancake at her face. "You take that back, Miss. Know-It-All!" He smirked, a laugh threatening to escape as he joked around with his old friend
“Hey!” Hermione laughed, flicking a piece of pancake back. “It's the brightest witch of her age to you!” She fake pouted, picking a piece of syrup covered pancake out of her hair.
Harry chuckled and was just poising his fork to retaliate when the doorbell rang. He dropped the fork to the plate, looking from the door to Hermione and back. "Are you expecting someone?"
“Not that I remember...” Hermione frowned, picking a piece of pancake out of her hair before crossing over to the door and opening it up to a very angry looking Ron. “Oh.” She held her breath, the room suddenly feeling very cold. “H-hi, Ron.”
Harry heard the name fall from Hermione's lips and instantly leapt up from the table, crossing to the hallway. "Ron?" He enquired, peering around the doorway at his old friend.
"I just came to get the rest of my stuff." Ron said stiffly, avoiding eye contact with the two of them. "Wait… why is he here?" Ron looked up to Hermione, then over at Harry.
Harry shrugged, trying desperately to come up with a way to diffuse the awkward tension that had settled over the once inseparable trio. "I slept over. In the guest room. I needed a friend last night, and Hermione was the one there for me. So I stayed and I was just making her some pancakes to thank her."
"Well that's just bloody wonderful. My two best mates are messing around behind my back, huh?" Ron growled, his breath reeking of beer.
"Ron… are you drunk?" Hermione frowned, her face growing pale.
"Shut up, Hermione." He said hastily, his eyes on Harry.
Harry's face darkened drastically as he listened to the words of the man who was once his best friend. "Don't you dare tell Hermione to shut up, you git. You know better than to act like that. And we're not 'messing around behind your back', either. Which is something that you'd know if you were ever around anymore."
"I can do whatever I bloody want!" Ron snapped, ignoring the fact that Hermione was now in tears. "And why would you care whether I still speak to you or not? You two seem to be doing just fine without me!"
"Ron, please..." Hermione began. "Just stop."
"You're being utterly ridiculous, Ron." Harry snarled, feeling the suppressed anger and hurt rising rapidly within himself. "We're the ones who don't care?! You haven't even spoken to us in months, despite our best efforts! I have to hear news about my own best friend's life via his sister! Do you have any idea what that feels like, you selfish prat? So don't march in here with this accusatory attitude when it's your own bloody fault that you don't know a thing about Hermione and me!" Harry yelled, breathing heavily as he felt an oppressive weight lift off his chest with every word falling from his lips.
Vulnerability flashed across Ron's face before his gaze hardened once again. "I-I... Whatever." He spat, snatching his box of things from the corner. "I'm done with you. With-with both of you." He called, his voice shaking with rage as he left, slamming the door behind him.
Harry stood shaking for a moment, stunned into silence, before crossing to Hermione and taking her into his arms. He rested his chin on her head, his embrace engulfing her small frame as a tear slid down his nose. He wiped it away hastily before patting Hermione's back awkwardly in a feeble attempt at comforting the crying girl.
Harry's warm embrace taking her by surprise, Hermione stayed there for a moment in his arms, letting silence surround them. "Harry, I'm... I'm so sorry." She finally choked out, raising her head to look at him. "I... I didn't know he'd come over today and... It's all my fault." She shook her head numbly, her eyes breaking from his.
Harry shook his head, stroking Hermione's hair. "Don't, Hermione. None of this is your fault, okay? We can't control what has happened with Ron." He murmured softly, trying hard to suppress his own emotions in order to comfort Hermione. "Hopefully one day he'll come around, and everything will be back to normal. But until then, it's just you and me. And I promise I'll never leave you like Ron has us."
‘I know you won't…’ Hermione thought, and she shut her eyes tightly, a tear sliding down her cheek. "I'm just... I’m tired of waiting for him. He chose Lavender over me, and knowing that I'll never pretty enough or funny enough or good enough..." She shook her head, staring at the ground. "It makes me wonder if I'm why he doesn't speak to us." She sighed shakily.
Harry's expression grew more serious with every word that fell from Hermione's lips. Grabbing her shoulders, he looked down at her sternly, concern evident in his emerald eyes. "Hermione Jean Granger. I never ever want to hear those words from your lips again. You're all those things and so much more, Ron's an idiot if he fails to see that." He sighed before adding, "And Ron's... avoidance of us is not because of anything you did..." He shook his head sadly. "Christ, if it's because of anyone, it's me..."
Hermione laughed bitterly, but her eyes softened as she heard Harry take the blame, and she looked up at him. "Why on earth would you think that, Harry?" She sighed. "You didn't do a thing."
Harry shrugged. "Well I know for certain it wasn't your fault and by process of elimination that leaves the fault to be mine. Plus..." Harry paused, feeling as if he needed to get this out but not really wanting to. "Plus, he told me."
"He's said a lot of untrue things, Harry, That being one of them." Hermione shook her head. "I-I just don't know what happened. I thought he loved me... I loved him."
Harry sat down on the floor abruptly, too weary to stay on his feet any longer. "He did, Hermione. If there's one thing I'm certain of, it’s that he loved you. And he likely still does. You know Ron though; it took him seven years to even kiss you when the whole world knew you liked each other..."
"Well maybe I'm tired of waiting!" Hermione snapped, her eyes fogging up a little before she sunk to the floor next to him. "Sorry." She muttered, bringing her knees to her chest.
Harry slung his arm around Hermione's shoulders, pulling her closer to him and offering all the comfort and warmth he could muster. "It's okay. Just... let it out." He murmured, trying his best in an unfamiliar situation.
Hermione and Harry finally broke away, remaining perhaps a bit too close for their so-called platonic relationship. "Y-you really are sweet for dealing with me being like this, Harry." She mumbled, blinking away her remaining tears as she looked down, letting her frizzy brown curls fall over her face.
Harry smiled sadly. "I'm here for you anytime, Hermione, you know that. Come on, up you get, the pancakes are getting cold."
Hermione laughed sadly, standing up while still clutching unto Harry's hand, and let go as the kitchen came into sight. She hopped into the stool, and took a deep breath.
Harry followed her, placing a pancake on each of their plates and smiling. "Eat up, love," He attempted in a cheery voice.
"It's okay to be sad sometimes, Harry." Hermione reminded him with a small smile. "You're my best friend. Remember?" She said, taking a bite of her pancake, unknowingly leaving a little syrupy whipped cream on her nose. "You can be upset around me if you need to."
Harry smiled a little sadly. "I know, Hermione. Thank you, it really does mean so much to me, and you'll be the first I go to if I need anybody to talk to." He promised before laughing slightly. "Here, you silly." He reached up, going to wipe the whipped cream off her nose with a lop-sided grin.
"What?" She laughed lightly, raising her hand to her nose with a confused look on her face.
He snorted, shaking his head. "Love, you have whipped cream and syrup on your nose. Look," he conjured a mirror, chuckling.
"What?" Hermione looked into the mirror, and her face brightened a little, laughing as she wiped her face.
Harry shook his head in mirth, "you make me laugh, Hermione. Even when you're not trying." He smiled fondly at her, his eyes lighting up slightly.
She laughed shortly, a grin plastered on her face. “I hope that's a compliment." She chuckled, raising her brow at him.
He chuckled, running a hand through his hair. "Of course it is, as if I'd ever have anything negative to say about you!" He shook his head in mock disbelief, standing from the table and collecting the dirty dishes before crossing to the sink and waving his wand, the dishes beginning to clean themselves. "How did you enjoy your pancakes? Will I be getting another invite? Or were they not good enough to pay my board?" He asked her, a lopsided grin spreading across his face as he slipped into the banter that felt so easy with Hermione, regardless of the morning's tensions.
Hermione giggled, breaking into a small smile. "As long as you make those pancakes, you can come back anytime."' She winked, her old, carefree self starting to return, despite her tear stained face and weak expression in those brown eyes of hers. As she carried on with the easy, careless banter she and her friend traded back and forth, Hermione seemed to forget the morning's events. At least, she tried to forget. 'You still have Harry. He cares about you.' She kept trying to remind herself.
"I'm glad my pancake making prowess is good for something, then." Harry laughed, poking Hermione lightly in her side with a finger as he breezed past her. "Pancakes for board," he nodded in satisfaction. "Seems like a fair trade to me."
"Doesn't it, though?" She laughed, and her expression softened. "Thanks for being there for me, Harry. Really, it…" She sighed. "It means a lot."
He crossed to her and pulled Hermione into his arms, squeezing her tightly before pulling away and looking into her eyes. "You're welcome. I'm always going to be here for you, so the sooner you stop feeling as if you need to thank me for being a friend, the better." He grinned, ruffling her hair lightly.
Hermione laughed softly before looking down, her eyes filling with tears. "Then do me a favour…" She sighed shakily. "Do you think you could spend the night? I j-just don't really want to be alone right now." She shrugged sheepishly, bringing her knees to her chest.
Harry began nodding even before Hermione finished her question, less than eager to be alone himself, though of course he'd never admit that. "Sure, I'll stay." He smiled reassuringly before biting his lip, raising his eyes to the ceiling as he was struck by a sudden thought. "But I'll probably have to pop home quickly to grab some new clothes and toiletries."
"Really, you will?" Hermione glanced up at harry, half surprised. "Thanks, Harry. It really does mean a lot." She grinned, grateful to have such a wonderful friend. "But tonight? I'm cooking."
"Of course I will." Harry smiled at Hermione before chuckling. "You? Cooking? I've never tried that, should I be worried?" He smirked before swiftly stepping outside of the range of her arms, thinking warily of her violent tendencies when teased.
"Harry!" Hermione laughed, swatting his arm playfully. "I can cook." she raised her eyebrows before stepping back thoughtfully. "well..." She sighed. "Maybe you should be a little worried."
He laughed heartily, preparing to apparate to his apartment to pick up his necessities. "I'm just teasing; I have complete faith in your abilities, Hermione. Really." He nodded seriously before waving and disappearing with a slight 'pop'.
"Yeah, Sure." Hermione chuckled as soon as Harry left, and made her way to the kitchen to start cleaning.
Harry appeared in his own, messy living room and sighed, beginning to sort through the chaos to find what he came for. ‘I really need to ask Hermione about a spell to sort out this mess…’ he thought, making a face as his search produced nothing more than dirty washing. Harry soon abandoned the living room, making the decision to move elsewhere in search of appropriate clothing to return to Hermione’s in. Striding purposefully around his apartment, Harry successfully located his desired clothes and toiletries before deciding to pop in the shower for a brief freshen up. After Harry had hopped out of the shower and dressed, he threw everything he had gathered into a backpack and disappeared once more.
After finishing her cleaning, a flour-dusted Hermione took a seat well worn, overstuffed couch, and took out her old copy of ‘Hogwarts, a history.’ Getting up briefly to change her clothes and run a brush through her hair, she continued to read until Harry arrived, quickly becoming lost in the old tome. When Harry apparated back into the room, Hermione, her hair still damp from her shower, looked up from the couch with a serene smile on her face – as if the whole event with Ron hadn't even happened. "Hey." she said softly.
Harry returned her smile, chucking his bag on the floor as he strode toward her. "Hey, there." He looked down and burst out laughing when he recognised the tattered book in her hands. "Really?" His face lit up as he grinned fondly, shaking his head.
What?" Hermione laughed lightly, raising her eyebrows in defence. "It's a classic." she shrugged, trying not to burst into laughter, before taking a good look at the cover. "There are a lot of good memories with this old book, huh?'
Harry nodded, a reminiscent grin upon his face. "That's for certain, and it just wouldn't look right for you not to have it."
"Exactly." Hermione grinned flipping through the pages with an almost sad sigh. "Now and again, I really do miss Hogwarts."
Harry collapsed onto the couch next to her with a weary sigh, running a hand through his hair and grunting in agreement. "I miss it every day."
"It's funny...” Hermione sighed, her tone growing serious. "After everything that happened to us in that school... In that war... She bit her lip, trying not to tear up. "It's actually the good times that stand out to me." She took a deep, shaky breath.
"I know what you mean." Harry responded in a low voice, overwhelmed by the memories. "Because, despite everything, we managed to still have fun. And I think that's important."
"Maybe we could try and visit Hogwarts today?" Hermione sat up a little, a small smile gracing her lips. "Just for fun. We could visit the students, see how they're doing with rebuilding the castle."
Harry's face brightened, a smile spreading across his features. "That's a brilliant idea, Hermione. Can we just turn up?"
"Well, McGonagall did say that I was welcome to visit anytime, so..." Hermione shrugged, her grin growing wider. "Why not?"
"Okay," Harry nodded enthusiastically, returning Hermione's grin. "Then it's decided. Just let me fetch my coat from my bag."
"Okay." She cracked a smile, slipping on her shoes and tying her scarf, along with buttoning her coat.
Harry pulled on his coat and threw a scarf haphazardly around his neck before returning to Hermione's side. "Ready?"
"Ready." Hermione nodded, clutching his arm as she apparated them off to Hogwarts castle.
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