Friends with Benefits
Disclaimer: Harry Potter = J.K. Rowling.
A/N: Hi all! Thanks for the reviews. I'm happy you liked the previous chapter. ^_^
Chapter 8 – Too Much Familiarity
Harry looked up from his writing when he heard someone knocking. He silently thanked however it was for the interruption. It had been a slow week for crimes. Of course, that was not something to be lamented, but it meant he had nothing else to do but paperwork. Harry didn't like paperwork. At all.
He grinned when he saw that it was Hermione and he gestured for her to come in. His cheerfulness faded a bit though, when he saw the firm line her lips were set in.
"Can we talk?" she asked him stiffly, standing directly in front of him opposite his desk, not bothering to take a seat.
"Is there something wrong, Hermione?"
Hermione raised a sheet of parchment, her eyes showing the anger she was trying very hard to contain inside her. Harry glanced at the sheet she was holding; it appeared to be a letter.
"What is this?" she asked him tersely.
"I… have no idea," he replied slowly, not wanting to set her off or she might set canaries on him. That memory was something he never forgot. The sound of those little birds exploding against the door convinced him that they could probably do a lot of damage.
"I got a letter from Malfoy, today. Malfoy! Did you ask him to give me a job?" Hermione told him in barely contained fury. "Do you think I'm incapable of finding a job on my own?"
"I never asked him for anything!" Harry exclaimed, rising suddenly from his seat.
"Then why is he writing to me and offering me a post as a researcher for his company?"
Harry closed his eyes and bit down his reply. He always reacted badly when people raised their voices at him, so he forced himself to calm down. He did not want to fight with Hermione. Instead, he took the letter from her and read.
When he spoke again it was with a calmer, lower tone. "Hermione, let me explain."
She crossed her arms and looked expectantly at him.
"Malfoy comes to the Ministry once in a while because he offers free legal advice to some of the people who come to the Legal department but can't afford any representation. We've made peace with each other, you know that right?"
She nodded, so Harry went on. "So when we meet each other here, we usually talk for a couple of minutes before going our separate ways. We met a few days ago, and when we talked I happened to mention that you were back. He asked about what you did abroad. I didn't tell him anything about your parents, but I told him that you did do an internship at a research institute. I didn't think anything of it at that time. I didn't even know that Malfoy had a contract to supply potions with St. Mungo's."
Hermione stared intensely at him for a few moments, and when started to feel the need to squirm under her gaze, she suddenly let out a sigh and sank into one of the chairs in front of his desk and covered her face with her hands.
"Hermione, are you okay?" he asked with concern, kneeling down in front of her.
When her hands left her face, she was blushing and had a contrite expression on her face, "I'm so sorry, Harry."
"It's ok. And I'm sorry I didn't tell you."
Hermione waved off his apology, "Don't apologize when you've done nothing wrong. I overreacted, I'm sorry."
Harry looked closely at his friend and knew that the expectations placed on her shoulders were starting to seriously get to her. He knew Hermione had an almost irrational fear of failing; of letting people down.
"You helped defeat Lord Voldemort, Hermione. You're the brightest witch of our age. You survived a war. You know that you no longer have anything to prove, right?"
Hermione looked up at him, startled. "How did –"
He shrugged, "I know you."
Hermione sighed, "It's just a bit frustrating for me, I suppose. I've always done what people expect of me, and in most situations, doing so has gone in my favor."
"But now… it's like I don't know what I want. I'm doubting myself… am I making decisions because it's what I really want or just because I know that this is what people think I'm supposed to do?"
"You can just take it a day at a time, Hermione. By Wizarding standards, we're still pretty young. You still have time to figure out what you want to do. Be it to become a researcher or be an artist. Or be a house painter."
Hermione laughed. For the last few weeks, he had given her free reign around the house, and she had taken to painting over his white walls. "It's like a giant canvas. It's a little irresistible." That's what she had told him when he came home one night to find that she had painted her bedroom walls with artistic spatters of several colors.
She reached for his hand and gave it a squeeze, "I'm sorry, Harry."
"It's okay," he replied. He grinned cheekily at her then, "I know of a way for you to make it up to me."
She laughed, "You are such a guy."
Hermione gasped for air as Harry rested his forehead on her shoulder. She laughed a little when she surveyed the damage around the room. She and Harry had gone at it in his study. So now all of the stuff on his desk was on the floor; papers thrown about everywhere. She glimpsed Harry's tie caught on a wall sconce. She had no idea how it got there.
"Is it just me, or are we getting too loud?" she asked Harry.
"Better acoustics," Harry muttered, raising himself on his elbows.
Hermione let out a giggle. She patted the shag carpet they were currently lying in. She had no idea how they winded up on the floor. "I think I might have carpet burn."
"Well I was planning on taking you to the bedroom, but you kept taking my clothes off."
"Harry!" she exclaimed, covering his mouth.
"Who do you think will hear?" Harry asked her, amused.
"You never know."
"Besides, you weren't so concerned about anyone hearing a few minutes ago," he grinned a little smugly at her.
"Hey, I wasn't the only one," she replied raising an eyebrow at him.
Harry laughed, dropping a kiss on top of her nose, "Shall we get dinner? I find I'm still hungry though I've already had dessert."
Hermione rolled her eyes and squealed in surprise when Harry bit her ear. Sex with Harry was amazing. At the back of her mind she worried if her experience with Harry would ruin her for other men, but at the moment it was the one thing she knew with certainty that she really wanted. So she was going to stick with it and stop worrying about what might happen.
A/N: Reviews are greatly appreciated. ^_^