Butterbeer Ramblings

Author: nacey
Email: tosh@opera.iinet.net.au
Category: Romance
Rating: PG
Spoilers: PS, CoS, PoA, GoF
Summary: It's Quidditch Saturday, and Harry, Ron and Hermione are receiving a visit from Fred, George, Angelina and Alicia, all graduated and bearing alcohol gifts. Much fun and baring of souls ensues.
DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
Author notes: I know, butterbeer isn't alcoholic, but I imagined what if would be like if they made full-strength butterbeer for adults, which is the pretense of this fic. It's not a very good one I know, but stick with it, it's worth it. I'd like to take this opportunity to welcome Mistiec into the HP fold. Well, she's not really fully into it, yet, but she's written a fic and that's in enough for me, so I'm welcoming her. Thanks girl for beta-ing this baby. Let's break out the pumpkin juice.

~~*~~

Harry had to hand it to the twins - they were good at smuggling things. He remembered that fact distinctly pulling the crates of butterbeer in the secret passageway from Hogsmeade, covered in a tea-towel (Why, Harry had no idea), with an already toddled Fred giggling as he shoved more butterbeer into George's arms. Not just any butterbeer, mind, but *full strength* butterbeer, usually reserved for the adults. It was the kind of butterbeer that got the younger ones utterly shit-faced. It was thoroughly alcoholic, not suitable for the kids and completely against the rules here at Hogwarts. Which was why it was so great that Fred and George had gotten their hands on the stuff. They grabbed a crate and dropped it into Harry's unsuspecting arms.

"There you go!" Fred said, stuffing some sickles into his pocket. "That's for covering for us!"
Harry looked confused. "Cov- Fred! You graduated two years ago… you're allowed to have this stuff…"
"Never mind, never mind, you're a pal, Harry, a pal," Fred said, demonstrating how very blitzed he was. Harry's generous contribution to Weasley's Wizard Wheezes had been the start of a glorious career for the twins, as their wicked little wizard novelties were the most popular thing since Filibusters fireworks. Mrs. Weasely, angry as she was at the boys not going right into the Ministry, couldn't help but be at least a little proud, because the boys were now, quite frankly, rolling in it. It was times like this that Fred liked to remind people of that, particularly Harry, as without him it wouldn't have been possible. "Now! I do believe izz time to snicker off for a bit of an evening by the lake!" He sniggered. "Where's Angelina nn' Alicia?"
"Uhm… they're still coming," George said, peering down the tunnel. "Gawd, they're not half taking their time…"
"Give 'em a break," said Fred. "They're more pished than we are."
Harry blinked. "But uhm – how are you going to sneak out there?"

"Plen'ny a' kids snuck out without a invisib-iddy cloak in the past ya'know, 'Arry," Fred said.

George looked to Harry after watching his already inebriated brother try to speak and shrugged. "Never mind 'im. He'll regret it in the morning." At that point the girls, Angelina Johnson and Alicia Spinnet, ex-Hogwarts students, ex-Gryffindor Quidditch players (and darned good ones at that) emerged from the hole, giggling and leaning on each other. They winked and greeted Harry raucously. George smiled and patted Harry on the shoulder. "Enjoy the beer!"

And with that, despite being upstanding members of the community, despite having to be an example to all, they were off like a shot with the idea in their heads that they would get a couple of lovely lasses nicely drunk for an evening of groping and giggling.

Harry was left on his own to contemplate the slab of butterbeer in his arms. He had his invisibility cloak lying across is arms, and a lot of trouble to get into. As he pulled the cloak over himself, he wondered if his best friends would be all for sharing the illicit beer. He carefully crept back and decided that it would be best for them all to get drunk when everyone else was in bed. It was a Saturday night, and unfortunately not everyone was in a hurry to head off to their beds. Well, he would work it somehow. He draped the beer in the cloak, and hoped that not too many people would be around the Common Room. It was awfully late, about eleven pm, but he knew Hermione and Ron would be up. Especially if Hermione was studying… Heh. Of course she's studying! That girl and her books are rarely parted…

He sighed, creeping inside the Common Room after passing the Fat Lady. (Hot Buttered Mashed Potato). He stalled in the doorway from the passage, glancing around the Common Room. Neville was curled up around a book in the corner, Lavender was draped over a chair by the fire, with Parvati sitting close-by and chatting softly with her. Ron was lying on the floor, flicking through a Quidditch magazine dominated by the Chuddley Canons; Hermione crouched over a stack of scrolls surrounded by large stacks of books at the large oak coffee-table in the centre of the sitting area. Harry leant the butterbeer on the floor, and for a moment just watched the scene. He hadn't noticed Crookshanks curled up on the table next to Hermione on the other side of the books. If Hermione was in the Common Room, that cat was her ginger ghost. His eyes wandered to the form of an obviously stressed Hermione. A little crease of deep concentration was between her dark eyebrows, equally dark brown eyes scouring the texts in front of her. He sighed, tilting his head. Always working so hard, he thought. Do you know how to throw it all away and go crazy for just a moment, Hermione? He looked down to where he knew the butterbeer was, and smiled wickedly. Hmm… should find out really.

Not that he minded Hermione the way she was. He in fact was very comfortable with her, often taking great solace in her understanding and warm companionship, where every other girl just seemed to miss the fact that he was a regular boy and went a little strange on him. I'm allowed to be just Harry around her. Normal every day Harry. He tilted his head the other way. Maybe, maybe it was good that way, because he didn't mind her being so study-mad. It could be cute sometimes.

He stepped forward, eager to disturb Hermione's study session, and completely forgot that there was a crate of beer at his feet. He went flying forwards with an almighty 'ooph!'

Everyone in the Common Room glanced up, watching Harry fall arse over tit. Hermione jumped up, hands reaching out and her mouth open in a worried 'o' shape.

"Harry!" she gasped, "Goodness gracious!"

Harry just bit his lip, trying to stop himself from whimpering from the pain of kicking that much glass. He glanced up, leaning on Hermione as he tried to get up again. Unfortunately, he was a full foot taller than her these days, so his heavier weight made her totter this way and that as he used her grip for leverage upwards. She panted, dusting off her front and looking at him like there was something wrong with him.

"What are you up to, you barmy bugger?" Ron said, leaning on a hand.

"Tripping over beer," Harry said darkly, rubbing his knee.

Hermione glanced behind him. "What beer?"

Harry grinned cheekily at that and turning, he grabbed the Invisibility Cloak and the crate of beer. He held it up in front of him and looked very proud.

"Wicked!" Ron gasped, sitting up. "Is *that* where you were tonight?! Helping out my crazy brothers?"

Harry nodded. "Yeah. They gave this to me as thanks."

Hermione just looked confused. "Butterbeer? But what's so-"

"Oh my GOSH!" gasped Lavender, leaning forward to peer at the labels on the beer bottles. "That's the full strength stuff for the adults!"

Hermione glared at Harry sharply. "Are you insane?"

Harry's smug grin fell off his face. "What?"

"You're going to get caught," she said. "Honestly! Bringing it into the Common Room like this – we're seventh years, Harry! I'm a Prefect! We're supposed to set examples!"

"Right," Ron said, pulling the slab of drinks from Harry's grip and tapping at it with a wand to get rid of the binding so that the drinks were free for the plucking. "We're setting the example of how much to safely drink in one night!" He popped off a lid and grinned to Lavender and Parvati. "Chug-a-lug, girls!"

Lavender and Pavarti took one glance to each other, and with an eager smile they grabbed a beer each and cracked them open. They clinked them together and pulled back on the bottles. They both promptly choked.

"Wow!" Lavender rasped. "This packs a punch!"

"Oh yeah!" Ron agreed. He turned and knee-walked his way to an apparently snoozing Neville Longbottom. He nudged the boy and shoved a butterbeer under his nose. "Drink up, Nevvie!"

Neville jerked awake, and glancing to the bottle he looked to Ron and smiled. "Gee… thanks Ron." He looked to the bottle again and blinked. "… Hang on!"

"Down the hatch!" grinned Ron at Neville, who just glared about himself like he had some illicit Muggle substance in his hands.

"Are you guys nuts?" he breathed. "What if we're caught?"

Harry crossed his arms. "Well, it's up to the Prefects to look after the children after nine at night, and presently all the Gryffindor Prefects are probably out on the Quidditch lawn divesting themselves of their modesty, considering Gryffindor's tremendous win today."

Hermione glanced about herself and blushed deeply. "Oh this is very, very bad."

"Oh lighten up, 'Mione," Ron said, sipping away at his beer, lying back in front of the fire. "You deserve to relax more than anyone here. Grab a bottle and siddown."

She gave a dark sigh. "Oh yes. Just get absolutely off my tit right under McGonagall's nose! What a bloody brilliant idea!"

"But you heard what Harry said," Lavender said.

Hermione crossed her arms, trying to ignore Harry entirely. "Yes. But what if Harry's WRONG? Then it's big trouble for all of us."

"McGonagall trusts us," Ron said. He stood up, stepping over to Hermione and offering a bottle.

She looked at the bottle like it was diseased and glared at Ron. "Yes. One would have to wonder *why*!"

"Cause she knows you're around to stop us from doing anything that breaks the sodding rules!" Ron grumbled, turning away from Hermione and flopping down onto his bottom in front of the fire.

Hermione crossed her arms then, scowling at Ron. "I'm sick of it! I'm sick of being the only one around here with any common bloody sense!"

Ron threw an angry look over his shoulder. "Common sense!? You'd think after seven years you'd learn to mellow out a bit!"

"Mellow out?!" gasped Hermione. "We have our NEWTs this year! We have to study! I'm not going to waste a full night's study only to wake up trashed in the morning!"

Ron looked suddenly amused. "Why not? Might do you some good."

Hermione turned and glared at him. Something flickered in her eyes. It was a lot of anger, a fair whack of indignation and what Harry feared was a sliver of hurt. "Well, Ronald, why don't you take your bottle of beer and stick it *right* where the sun refuses to shine?" Her eyes glinted sharply. "It might do *you* some good!" With that she turned on her heel and strode from the room, through the entrance of the Common Room to the corridors. Harry didn't even think of admonishing Ron for giving Hermione a hard time again (since it seemed to happen so often these days). Harry bent over, grabbing his invisibility cloak and as many beers as he could stuff into his cloak and keep a hold of in his sleeves. He raced out the door after Hermione with a lot of suspicious clinking. She was striding down the hallway, regardless of what was going on about her.

"Wait on," he called in a hushed voice.

She spun about, glaring at him. "What?"

He looked her up and down. "Where do you think you're going like that?"

She narrowed her eyes. "Like *what*?"

Harry gave a cheeky smile. "You know. Visible."

She sighed, looking over herself and folding her arms. "What does it matter? You lot are going to be in terrible trouble in the morning."

Harry shrugged. "So? You'll be fine."

She narrowed her eyes then. "No I won't. I'll be there in the library, *knowing* that McGonagall gave you detention, and knowing that your fun and games are going to make the House Cup *that* much harder to win this year and you'll be throwing yourself around that ruddy Quidditch pitch like you can't possibly be hurt!" She blinked, blushing a little and shrugging. "Besides… it's nice to have you as a distraction when I'm studying…" She glanced up, seemingly horrified. "I mean – you and Ron. You know." She nodded and turned. "I should get back…"

Harry shook his head. "Nope. We're in trouble anyway. Come on – we're going to find some place nice and have this beer."

Hermione sighed, looking very worried now. "Harry…"

"It's not going to be any fun if you drink it in a bad mood." Without another word he threw the invisibility cloak over them.

Hermione glanced about herself in the cloak and clutched Harry's arms. "Harry! Why? Do you think I'm boring too? Do you think I need to lighten up and get the bug out of my arse as well?" That hurt was in her voice. "I'm not doing it for that and I'm not doing it for you and Ron to get a kick out of! Ha ha! There's Hermione, smashed out of her frigging mind! Who'd have thought she'd do something other than study for once?!"

Harry frowned. "I know you're not like that." Hermione still glared at him with doubt, and he levelled his gaze at her. "I want you to have a beer because it'll be a bit of fun, and we can have a nice time and mellow out a bit and perhaps discuss some of the self-image problems you seem to have been harbouring."

Hermione lifted a brow. "It's not my self-image I have a problem with. It's everyone else's image of me that's in trouble."

"Well – what does it matter what they think?" He shrugged. "I mean, they don't know what you're really like. Their opinions are therefore moot."

She sighed, giving Harry a tired smile. "I suppose you're right."

"I am right. You're fabulous, Hermione."

She blushed at that. "All right, that's enough of that. Where are you taking me?"

Harry had started to lead her downstairs, through the practical living celtic knotwork that was Hogwart's ever-moving staircases, towards the closest convenient exit. "Out for a walk."

"Oh, all right then," she sighed defeatedly. "Really, Harry! Every time I find myself breaking some perfectly reasonable rule, there you are next to me with that damned grin on your face!"

Harry smirked. "Want me to stop?"

She looked almost horrified, and grabbed Harry's hand, pulling him down to the bottom landing. "Heavens no! What would I want you to do that for?"

Harry grinned, realising that a lot of the time, people really did get Hermione all wrong, and Ron was often one of them. He tended to be hard on her, and had no qualms in telling her how very boring she could be. Harry didn't see the point in chastising her over the matter. She had always been a dedicated student, and that's just the kind of girl she was. He'd never really had a problem with it, unlike Ron who almost seemed to find it offensive. The fights associated with that were monumental. Harry was secretly glad that he wasn't in on that particular drama. Whatever Ron felt for Hermione, and whatever cock-eyed behaviour that elicited from him, he didn't want a part of the endless volley of quips, insults and hormones that had become the status quo between the two. He also honestly felt sorry for Hermione, as he never figured her to be the kind of girl to enjoy that sort of ham-fisted courting ritual. The full twelve long-stemmed roses per day kind of girl he knew she wasn't, but the confused pursuit from Ron couldn't have been much fun for her.