"I'm happy we're doing this." Harry called out over his shoulder as they exited the lift. "I feel like I haven't seen her in ages, you know?"
"Yeah. Poor thing. She's here all the time." Ron nods.
"Totally overworked. But it's her birthday. None of that nonsense today, we are getting her out of that office if it kills us."
"You're pretty hard to kill, so I'd say we have a fairly good shot."
Harry rolled his eyes at his best bud.
It was Hermione's birthday today. They had both feigned ignorance in their correspondence with her over the past week. She was in for an epic surprise. They were going to take her out to a fancy two hour lunch.
Finding time to hang out with her had been difficult lately. She was recently promoted to a junior executive position in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. She was keeping late hours, occasionally sending them floo-calls at night to tell them that she wouldn't be able to make it back home to Grimmauld Place. Sometimes she would be gone for whole weekends on assignments across Europe.
Ron, Hermione, and himself shared his inherited home—so her absence was kind of astounding.
Hell, the last time Harry had seen her was just in passing. She had rushed past him on her way out of Wizard Weasley Wheezes in Diagon Alley, muttered something about helping the twins with one of their projects before hastily walking to the apparition point up the road and disappearing with a crack.
But Harry was proud for her. Despite her erratic hours, she seemed happier than he had ever seen her. They would send interdepartmental correspondences across the Ministry all day. Her letters were upbeat and hopeful about her new job and her future. She seemed almost… carefree. And that was a word that Harry had never associated with Hermione Granger.
Harry paused outside her office door. He put his hand on the doorknob. "Alright, on the count of three." He whispered to Ron.
"One…" They counted together.
Harry flung the door open. He and Ron both jumped into her office and yelled joyfully, "SURPRISE!"
Hermione jumped and let out a small strangled noise. "Harry! Ron!" She threw her arms up, knocking her miniature Bonzai Tree off the side of her desk.
It clattered to the floor. The ceramic pot shattered.
Her eyes darted from them, to her tree, to the top of her desk. She looked up at them guiltily. Her eyes were wide, and her breathing was heavy.
"No need to have a heart attack, 'Mione. It's just a plant." Harry pointed his wand at the shattered remnants of Hermione's desk plant and cast a nonverbal Reparo.
She quickly composed herself, keeping her palms on the table in front of her. "Thank you." She said quietly. "Thank. You. Harry. And. Ron." She enunciated very clearly. Her back was ramrod straight. She scooted her chair slightly away from her desk. "What are you doing here? In my office? Directly. In. Front. Of. Me."
Ron rolled his eyes. They both plopped down on the chairs in front of her workspace.
"What are we doing here, she says." Ron quipped. "It's your birthday! We're bustin' you outta here."
Her sliding chair eased forward slowly. Hermione pushed at the edge of her desk with her palms as she crept forward. Her chair pivoted slightly backwards, and she quickly sat her hands flat on the table so she wouldn't fall. Her body lurched forward.
Harry laughed at her clumsiness. "Sorry, I didn't realize we were going to scare you so badly."
"Yeah, we really surprised you huh? You thought we forgot!" Ron grinned.
Hermione flashed them a tight smile. "I really did." She said tensely. "You got me." She swatted at something under her desk.
"We're taking you out to lunch." Harry said. "Someplace real nice. Whatever you want."
"That is just so sweet of you guys." She smiled at them kindly. "But it is completely unneceSSARY." Her voice shot up at the end.
Harry raised his eyebrows up at her. She shook her head and laughed uneasily at him. He shrugged it off.
"We're not takin' no for an answer. You need a break. You've been holed up in here for weeks!" Harry teased her.
"I am completely swamped." She took a deep breath. "We'll just have to reschedule the birthday lunch for some other time." She nodded her head mindlessly to follow up her point. There was something … off... about her voice.
Ron looked over her empty desk. "You're not even doing anything though."
She quickly pulled a random stack of memos out of her outgoing stack. "I'm working on these." She said tensely. "They are horribly riddled with errors and I just don't have the tiME…" She yelped and shook her head, not meeting their eyes before composing herself. "I don't have the time for lunch today."
A blush crept up her neck. Harry leaned forward.
"Are you alright?" He stood up as if and reached his hand towards her forehead. "You're red all over." He gestured to her arms, which were tinged with a rosy flush.
She pulled back quickly before he could touch her. "I'm perfectly fine. I'm just …great." Her breathing was ragged.
Ron glanced at him unsurely. "Hermione, we're worried about you. You can't have been getting much rest lately. You haven't been at the house in weeks."
"Yeah." Harry agreed. "Are you sleeping at the office? You're going to make yourself sick." He motioned towards her deepening blush. "Clearly you already are a little under the weather."
She shook her head quickly. "I'm not—I'm-oh wow." She covered her mouth for a second and glanced away from them. "You two don't have to worry about me." She took a long pause and bit her lip. "I… I…" She gasped a little and the papers that she had been holding slowly crumbled into a ball. She shook her head and composed herself. "We should just go out for my birthday on Saturday you know? This SATURDay."
"I think that you're lying about being sick." Ron jumped in. "You gotta take care of yourself better, 'Mione."
"We could take the whole day." She said quickly, glazing over his protests.
She smoothed the paper out in front of her and fanned herself with it quickly. Harry briefly saw stamped across the document "URGENT". She was sweating. It wasn't even warm in her office.
"Alright, enough. We can cancel the lunch plans for now. I think we need to take you to the hospital." Harry insisted.
"No." She said firmly. "I just... I need a moment. Could the two of you give me a moment?" They both stood up.
Just as Harry began to close the door, he heard her cry out. He and Ron quickly whipped around to check on her.
That's it. She was going to the hospital. She was obviously ill and—
A string of unintelligible nonsense was pouring out of her.
"—so talented. Right there—I … oh my. Please. Just a little—I need a little more of…" Her chair screeched across the floor again as she was jerked closer to the desk. "Yes. That's it. Oh please… please… " Her body shuddered as a sharp breathy moan echoed off of her walls. Her body arched away from her chair. Her pelvis pressed forward. Her hands reached up, clinging to the leather backing near her head.
She slowly lowered herself against the desk and rest her head between her palms. She took deep, gasping breaths as her heated face touched the cool top of her wooden desk. . "Oh… thank you. Thank you." She whispered.
They both looked at each other, eyes bugging out of their heads.
Harry shut the door as silently as he could and shared a horrified panicked moment with Ron.
"What the fuck was that?" Ron mouthed silently.
"I don't know. I don't know." Harry stammered.
"Was she- was she? You know."
Harry shook his head. "No. No." He hissed. "Certainly not. She wouldn't—This is where she works for Merlin's sake." He waved his hands around wildly.
Moments passed as they stood gaping at each other in the hallways outside of her office.
They both whipped around terrified when they heard her door crack open. Harry even jumped away a couple feet.
Fred Weasley crossed his arms across his broad chest, a twinkle in his eyes as he looked them over sternly.
Ron's jaw dropped. "Fred? What the hell are you doing here?"
Fred shook his head at them while laughing wickedly. "What am I doing here? It's her birthday." He said as if the conclusion were obvious.
"…and?" Ron implored him.
Harry covered his mouth.
Fred smirked. "And…" Fred began. He smiled widely and drug his tongue suggestively across his teeth.
"Oh my god." Ron whispered.
"Yeah, you prats. I thought it was pretty damn obvious." His eyes twinkled at them. "… guess the cat's outta the bag." He muttered under his breath.
Harry couldn't think of a single thing to say to make this situation not so completely mortifying. Ron could though.
"But we were just—" Ron said, his voice cracking.
"And y-y-you were?" He pointed at him.
"Next time, don't take so long to take a hint. Honestly, how many times did she ask you to leave?" He didn't wait around for an answer. "Have a lovely day, gentlemen. If I had to guess, I'd say hers is looking up already."
Word Count: 1600.
A/N: Leave a review, ya filthy animals. (Also, thanks to Courbeau. – Go read all of her things.)