Chapter 4 : Chapter Four
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Harry and Hermione materialised in the middle of Hermione’s immaculate living room and Harry turned immediately to Hermione. "Are you hungry? We could cook or get take out?"
"Takeout, please." Hermione beamed, perking up slightly. "Chinese or Indian… Your choice." She sing-songed, sitting down.
He scrunched up his face as he thought about it, eventually settling on Chinese. "And because you faced your flying fears, I'll pay for this one." He told Hermione as he smiled from ear to ear.
"You really are proud, aren't you?” She laughed, ruffling his hair a little bit.
"Hey!" He protested, swatting her arm away lightly as a reluctant smile edged its way onto his features. "Not the hair!"
"Oh, shut up, you." Hermione laughed, messing it up even more. "You're turning into a regular Lavender Brown."
"Me?" Harry gasped, affronted. "I resent your statement, Miss Granger!"
"First the hair, now the high-pitched gasp..." Hermione shook her head, mock disappointed. "I'll just start calling you Lav-Lav." She smirked, tossing her hair dramatically.
He narrowed his eyes, glaring at her through emerald slits. "I hate you." He huffed, dramatically raising his arms high into the air in a gesture of defeat.
"According to Rita Skeeter, You don't. According to her, you lovvveeee me."She sing songed, skipping a little. "Like-minded to all of the other trash reporters." She smirked, dancing around the room. "You loooove me, Harry..."
He scowled, swiping at her with his arms and missing. "Stop! You said yourself that was a load of bollocks-" Harry tried to counter, his words barely registering over Hermione's mirth. "You're mean, you're a mean person!" He cried, crossing his arms and pouting childishly at her.
"Or is it?" Hermione raised her eyebrows teasingly. "Does chosen one Harry Potter truly fancy the brightest witch of her age?" She said in her spot-on Rita Skeeter impression, dancing around the room.
Harry felt his face heat up, blushing magenta as he frantically tried to make sense of the alien jolt he felt in his chest at her words. "Oh, shut it, Scarlet Woman." He recovered, emphasising the last two words that originated from Rita Skeeter's quill.
"Don't tell a lady to shut it!" Hermione gasped in mock horror, swatting his arm. "How rude."
He laughed, shaking his head at her antics. "You brought that one on yourself, Hermione, and you know it!"
"Whatever you say, Chosen One." Hermione rolled her eyes playfully as the doorbell rang for their Chinese food. "Looks like it's time for dinner." She took the food from the delivery man, paying for it quickly. "Sit down, Harry."
He sat down, waiting for Hermione before nudging her with his elbow and pulling a face of righteous indignation. "I was supposed to pay for that one, remember?" He reminded her, clucking his tongue.
"Oh, I'm sure it'll all even out in the end." Hermione shrugged, taking a box of fried rice and scooping out a healthy sized portion. She sighed heavily, tucking a curl behind her ear.
"Alright," Harry conceded, shaking his head in slight amusement before adopting his ridiculous accent of the morning and proclaiming "Bon appetit, Madame!"
Hermione replied by mumbling a few (explicit) things in real French, shaking her head slightly. "Nice accent, Monsieur."
"Thanks," replied Harry with a grin. "I thought so too. Way better than yours."
"Oh, at least I can speak French." Hermione said in her signature know-it-all tone. "Much better than you, at least."
He waved a nonchalant hand, chuckling at her tone. "Details, details. I still say mine was better."
"Of course, dear." Hermione murmured sarcastically. "Whatever you say."
He grinned widely, a sense of satisfaction flowing through him due to the smallest of victories over his best friend. Twirling his chopsticks in a supremely uncoordinated manner, Harry tried and failed to transport his noodles from their box to his mouth. A sigh of frustration escaped him as he looked over to Hermione. "How are you going with this?"
"Going with what?' Hermione asked through a mouthful of lo mein, taking another perfect bite with her chopsticks.
He indicated helplessly at his rather pathetic chopstick situation, "I can't do it!" He whined.
"Here." Hermione said softly, taking his chopsticks and twirling some lo mein noodles as a demonstration. "It isn't too hard once you get the hang of it." She laughed lightly, handing the chopsticks over to him.
He took them from her, thanking her as he slowly navigated the noodles toward his mouth. Leaning over the noodle box, he quickly moved the chopsticks, rapidly closing his mouth around them before they had a chance to fall. An exclamation of excitement escaped his noodle-filled mouth before he swallowed and flashed Hermione a triumphant grin, “A-ha!”
"Brilliant!" Hermione cheered amidst their laughter, throwing her arms around his neck. As she hugged him, sparks suddenly flew before her closed eyes, her heart pounding... like she was falling in love. With her best friend? Maybe. Suddenly, guilt overcame her, reminding herself of everything that happened with Ron. She tore herself away, standing up suddenly. "I'm-I can't… too soon..." She stammered, shaking her head.
Harry eyed Hermione, a look of utter bewilderment upon his face as he was unaware of what had transpired in her mind. "Hermione?" He asked, concern lacing his tone. "Hermione, are you alright? What happened?"
"I..." Hermione's heart dropped, and she felt like she was going to cry. "I'm sorry, Harry, I think I should just go to bed."
He took her hands in his, emerald eyes narrowed in concern as they swept over her. "Tell me what's wrong, maybe I can help?"
"N-no." Hermione tore her hands away from his rather harshly. "I'm fine, Harry..." She said tonelessly, her voice cracking. “I'm going to bed." She sighed, walking over to the stairs and up them as calmly as she could. Once safe in her room, she collapsed on the bed, muttering "nox" to turn off her lights through her tears. She felt like her head was spinning.
Harry watched her go in stunned disbelief, feeling as though he had been punched in the chest. Crushing guilt set over him as he had no idea what had upset Hermione so much, but convinced it was his fault. He stood, taking a moment to compose himself before taking out his wand, vanishing the vestiges of their meal and conjuring parchment and a quill. He scrawled a note, an apology, and hurriedly turned on the spot, vanishing.
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