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.

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The sight that greeted the six intrepid revellers when they wobbled in through the portrait hole was one that they had never, ever, in their entire time of being at Hogwarts, imagined that they would see.

Neville was laid back in the high-backed chair Hermione usually commandeered for studying, a giggling Parvati sitting on the armrest looking utterly besotted by the transformed boy. He seemed to be doing a rather convincing impersonation of Hagrid giving a Magical Creatures lesson.

"An' ye take the lit'l beggar, and you stick yer finger up it's bum like tha!" He winked and stuck his finger up and imaginary bottom. Parvati nearly fell off her perch in high squeals of laughter. Lavender, currently taking residence on Ron's lap, followed suit. Ron just looked utterly bewildered. He blinked at the group of now still and silent Gryffindors by the hole, and gulped.

"He's a ladies man," he muttered. "Who'd have known?"

Hermione giggled despite herself, turning and looking to Harry. "Poor Hagrid!"

Harry smiled slightly. "It's all right. I'm sure he'd find the humour in it."

"You'd hope so," she said.

George and Fred stumbled over near the fireplace, clearing the chess table with a fierce swipe and pulling up some unopened bottles of full-strength butterbeer and slamming them on the table.

"We're not spent yet!" declared Fred.

"Naw," agreed George, and cracked open another bottle.

Harry grinned and looked to Hermione, as if he were silently asking her position on the matter.

Hermione, completely understanding this despite her inebriation, stood up straight and pulled her cloak about her (in an almost Snape-like fashion), and looked down her nose at Fred and George. "I will be damned before I let these two louts drink me under the table!"

Harry chuckled. "What about nobody knowing you're drunk?"

She turned her head very slowly, wobbling a little, and gave Harry a flat stare. "Harry… I staggered in the Portrait Hole looking like I was doing a very good impers- imp – impression of a victim of a Jelly-Legs hex. The only way I could've been more obvious is if I walked in wearing your underwear as a hat."

Lavender and Parvati exchanged impressed looks, and grinned back at the bushy-haired girl.

Hermione sat down at the chess table with the boys, taking up her own bottle. "Not that I think this sort of wild bee- binge shrinking is at all good for a person." She frowned. "It's very bad. It shouldn't be done."

"Right," said George. "Which is why we're doin' it anyway."

"Right," agreed Hermione, "Cause we're Gryff-en-aws."

"Yes."

"It's just that I'm sobering up," she frowned seriously.

"So where've you two been anyway?" Ron said, jigging his knees up and down as he sat on the long couch across from the fire and causing Lavender to bob up and down, giggling and letting out wild cries as if she were on a roller coaster (which Ron seemed to find rather amusing).

"They were smoooooching," cooed Alicia, collapsing next to Harry and pinching one of his now bright red cheeks.

Hermione spat a mouthful of beer back into her bottle and blushed deeply. "Alicia!"

Ron blinked. "You were kissing Harry?"

Hermione rolled her eyes and looked rather flustered. "No, I was kissing George… of *course* I was kissing Harry."

Parvati and Lavender gasped, and then both giggled in unison.

"Well, that's all right, isn't it?" asked Neville suddenly, and very earnestly. "Ron's been kissing Lavender."

Hermione blinked at Ron.

"And I've been kissing Parvati," continued Neville. "I mean, it's a party isn't it?" He grinned.

Parvati blushed and hid behind a hand. George just shook his head at Neville and lifted a bottle.

"You dog," he growled with a grin.

Harry squirmed uncomfortably. He decided he quite disliked the turn this entire conversation was taking. He didn't like the shocked look on Hermione's face, and he did not like the look on Ron's. Ron frowned, looked to Lavender in his lap, and then back to Hermione. Hermione had done the same, but instead looking to Harry, and then to Ron. Harry felt like he was stuck in the middle of a cheesy American soap opera. Hermione tilted her head and looked to Ron firmly.

"Does… does this bother you?"

Ron looked thoughtful for a moment, brows knitting, and then he looked at her like she was daft. "Of course not."

Hermione's eyes widened. "Really?"

"I can't complain, I got her in me lap."

Lavender looked suddenly put out. "And this is a problem?"

"No!" said Ron and Hermione in unison.

Both Ron and Hermione looked to each other for a good moment, probably for the first time ever, an unspoken communication crossed between them. Ron smiled and lifted a bottle of butterbeer to Hermione, and she echoed the motion, a small smile on her face.

"Oh my God!"

Angelina had a hand clasped over her mouth in shock. Parvati and Neville had resumed their snogging, which she was quite unprepared for. George and Fred both burst into childish laughter.

"What butterbeer has unleashed on to the unwitting female population of Hogwarts," sniggered Fred.

"Indeed," agreed Hermione with a sly smirk.

Lavender's squeals started up again as Ron bobbed her up and down on his knee so violently that she just about slid off, in which it was his duty to catch her and put her to rights. This involved him clasping her about the bottom and sliding her back onto his knees again. She would laugh and giggle as the bobbing staggered her voice, and being drunk this was far more amusing than it would seem.

"Ron!" she cried, "I'm going to he-e-e-e-eeeeh!" She slid quite off his knees this time, arms clambering for a hold about his neck. "Ron!!"

Ron chuckled and pulled her back up.

"You bastard," she squealed, wobbling a bit as she spoke. "How am I ever s'posed to be a lady of poise if you keep making me fall over?"

"I dunno, but if you don't like it you can get off my knee."

She frowned at him and smacked his shoulder. "Don' be daft!"

Harry was not as relaxed as the rest of the room was. Hermione, Fred and George were at the chess table, drinking heavily. Harry really couldn't believe his eyes. Hermione was slamming back the beer at a rate of knots, and every now and again her hand would seek out his. She would turn, wink at him, smile gently. Despite all this, despite Ron's seeming preoccupation with Lavender in his lap, and Hermione's contented smirk as she knocked back beer after beer, a lingering doubt played in his mind.

Is she with me because I made a move first?

Parvati had slipped from the armrest of the chair right into Neville's lap, and Ron and Lavender were now splayed over the couch they'd been sitting on, giggling and laughing and muttering incomprehensible and no doubt senseless drunk nothings into each other's ears. Harry was getting close to sobering up, so he cracked open one of the last remaining bottles of butterbeer. Fred and George both sat with Angelina and Alicia, laughing and telling stories and being a little more laid back about hanging out with the opposite sex. It wasn't such a big deal to them as they'd had nights like this countless times before. Nonetheless, in their relaxed ease one could tell that Angelina was rather attached to George and Alicia to Fred. It seemed that Alicia and Angelina were more than happy to be one of the boys, no matter what they actually meant to the boys.

After another two butterbeers, Harry's head was spinning rather gently, and he wondered how the heck Hermione could do it. He stood, swaying a little, and addressed the room, which was more or less on another planet anyway.

"I'm just going to get a warmer jumper on," he said. Nobody even looked up from what they were doing, except Fred, who nodded and waved a mostly empty beer bottle at him.

He toed his way very carefully up the spiral staircase that led to the walkway that split off to the two dorms. This took him a little more time than usual, for his feet didn't land quite where he wanted them to. He planted his foot on one step and it missed it entirely. He would have tumbled over and got a face full of stone if two small hands hadn't pulled him back. Instead he and the smaller body behind him staggered against the wall. He turned.

He was quite alone in the curve of the spiral staircase with the smaller person, the curve bidding them both privacy. He could tell from the smell of her hair under the butterbeer that it was Hermione.

"You all right?" she asked.

"Yeah," he said.

"I mean," she said, moving up to the step he was on and meeting his eyes in the light of the torch that lit the flight of stairs dimly. "Are you all right?"

"Why wouldn't I be?" he said.

"Hmm, let's see," she replied. "You have spoken barely a word to me since I had that little exchange with Ron."

Harry sighed at that. He didn't want to talk about it, he didn't want to ruin what was a perfect night. "I'm just being stupid."

She lifted her brows at him with some doubt. "Well why don't you tell me what you're being stupid about, and then I can decide if it's really stupid?"

"It might be kind of insulting to you," he said. "But that's not – that's not how, I mean…" He frowned and sighed hotly, his brain a muddle and not making sense. "It's more about me than you…"

"Just tell me, Harry."

He sighed again, looking down at his feet sheepishly. "I… I thought maybe… if Ron hadn't have fought with you… if he had gotten drunk with you instead of me-"

"Oh Harry," she sighed, and Harry nearly started as he felt her warm little hand on his cheek suddenly. "You really have such little faith in yourself?"

He slowly met her eyes, and he felt his heart seizing up in his chest. "'Mione… this is more than a night of drunken snogging to me… I can't just do this and have it mean nothing."

"Shhh…"

Her soft hushing lulled his eyes closed, and he felt her pull his head to her shoulder gently. He hugged her, tightly, as if he would lose her if he let go. Her arms slowly wound about him, and he wondered perhaps if there was nothing more perfect than this in the world.

"You're the world to me, Harry," Hermione said, her voice warm and gentle in his ears.

He pulled away to meet her eyes, and he was ashamed at the tears that seemed to form there. "I was afraid, Hermione. Everything I've ever really really loved has left me an-"

Hermione sighed, a little moan lifting from her, and she pulled him to her, kissing him soundly. He clutched her to him, kissing her back with such intensity that he could barely breath.

Harry pulled away a moment, battling to get his words out, just so Hermione knew. "I couldn't bear to lose you, however it would happen…"

"No, no," she murmured.

He nearly whimpered. "But you liked Ron so much."

She gave a sad little laugh at that, cradling his face so close to hers. "Harry, it's always been you. It's always been you."

He blinked at that. "R-really?"

She laughed again. "Always."

"But you said just tonight-"

"Hormones, Harry," she said quietly. "Just hormones."

He frowned at that. "And this isn't-"

"Oh for goodness sakes!" Hermione sighed. "There's a difference between drunken ramblings and what is really in the heart."

"There is?"

Hermione looked to him like the beer had slowed his mind considerably, which it had. The expression was reminiscent to the one she would give them in their earlier years at Hogwarts when they didn't know something extraordinarily simple about the wizarding world that any dolt would know if they'd bothered to open a book (which Ron and Harry rarely did at that stage).

"Yes, Harry, there's a *big* difference."

Harry tilted his brows up, looking to her like a helpless lost green-eyed puppy. "Could you give me the benefit of the doubt and just… just go over those differences?"

Hermione couldn't help but laugh a little. "Okay okay, but only because you're drunk out of your mind…"

"Not as drunk as you."

"Let's not bring me into this…"

Harry frowned. "This is all about you…"

She groaned. "Do you want me to bear my soul or not?"

Harry tilted his head, gazing at her and looking utterly lovelorn. "Please do."

"The difference between drunken ramblings," she said, stroking the line of his jaw with the back of her knuckles, slowly and surely, "and real feelings is that in the morning, the drunken ramblings are gone and they mean nothing. But the real feelings stay, they never leave…" Her lips were brushing against Harry's now. "They were there before the ramblings and will be there the next day and the day after that and the day after that." She smiled, cinnamon eyes to the brim with a heady desire.

Harry fought to find his voice, and all he could find was a breath. "Th-they were there before?"

She nodded silently, her lips running maddening circles over his. "Growing day after day, afraid to be there, until you looked at me like you did tonight, and suddenly it was okay." She brought her arms up around his neck, smiling a little. "Then this happened, and nothing's ever felt so right, Harry."

He nodded back at her, his breath frantic in his lungs. Dear God she was driving him crazy.

"Harry?"

His eyes were closed as he was afraid to even look at her. In the warm magic light of the torch flame above them he knew she would look too beautiful to bear. "Yes?"

"Aren't you going to kiss me?"

He gave a shy little smile before pulling her to him, pressing his lips to hers and feeling the world spin about him all over again just like it had before, just like it did every time he touched her. He wasn't sure how long they'd stood there, arms wound about each other, every caress and every touch another expression of the bond that had only grown even stronger over the years, a natural progression in the scheme of things, a beautiful blooming that was both pure and passionate at the same time.

The sanctity of the moment of course was blasted to the four winds by their drunken company.

"Oh! There you are!" In stairwell of the spiral staircase was a wobbly Fred. "We've got the las' bottle 'ere if you wan' it 'Mione."

Hermione smiled down at Fred, then back to Harry. "Want to share it?"

Harry shook his head. "I think I've had enough tonight."

Hermione's arms tightened about him and she nodded. "Me too. Go crazy Fred."

Fred looked mournfully at the bottle. "I don't think I can drink another…"

"Give it to Neville," said Harry with a smirk.

"Too late," Fred said. "He's passed out, right into Parvati's cleavage too. He'll wake up with a dirty great line down his face, he will." Fred shuffled about on the spot, looking into the common room with a lost look on his face. "Maybe Ron'll 'ave it…"

Hermione giggled, leaning against Harry's shoulder and covering her mouth so as not to wake the others in the tower. "Goodness!"

Harry stifled a burp and wavered a little. "Well. He's cooked."

"That's the Ol' Weasley constitution at work, I suppose."

Harry sighed deeply. "I s'pose we should get this place cleaned up and us off to bed. It's…" He checked his watch. "Nearly four! Bloody hell!"

The clean up was as much of an operation in teamwork as the getting drunk part was. Harry and Hermione would pick things up, and Fred and George would accidentally knock things down again. Neville, Parvati, Ron and Lavender were passed out on the chair and the couch and didn't do much at all, as was Alicia and Angelina on the floor. After a good twenty minutes of this, Hermione threw her arms up in disgust.

"That's it!" she sighed. "To bed, the lot of you."

Lavender slowly sat up and grinned. "Bed?"

"Separate beds," droned Hermione.

Lavender's face turned to a frown. "Darn."
Fred, George, Angelina and Alicia hugged Ron, Hermione and Harry goodnight before noisily creeping out the Portrait Hole, no doubt sneaking their way back to Hogsmeade and to a bed-and-breakfast to recuperate, as was their usual on Quidditch Days. Hermione corralled the sleepy drunks up to the spiral stairs, making sure they ended up in their respective bedrooms, and Harry picked up about the Common Room, trying to clean up as well as he could. He'd gathered all the bottles together but he was quite at a loss as what to do with them. He was making a rather creatively stacked pile when there was a sharp 'POP!' behind him that made him jump a good foot in the air with a yelp.

"Oh! Harry Potter!" came the plaintive voice of the house elf Harry knew as Dobby. "Dobby did not mean to scare you, sir!"

"That's all right, Dobby," Harry said with a sleepy smile. "You'll have to forgive me, I'm not quite with it."

"Dobby can see that, Sir," said the elf. "Dobby came so you could go sleep. Dobby saw that you is all going to bed now. Dobby will clean up."

Harry patted Dobby on the head affectionately. "You're great Dobby. Thank you."

Dobby blushed and toed the ground. "Oh! Harry Potter is too kind, Sir. Dobby is only doing his job Sir!"

Harry turned, twisting his fingers together nervously. "You'll make sure these bottles are disposed of … secretly… right? You see, we're not really supposed to-"

"You is drinking what you isn't supposed to be," said Dobby. "Dobby isn't silly, Harry Potter."

Harry sighed with some relief. "Thanks Dobby, I mean it. Thank you."

"Is no trouble at all, Harry Potter." Dobby bowed and smiled a little. "Harry Potter must promise Dobby one thing."

Harry turned and looked to Dobby with some surprise. "Oh? What's that?"

"Harry Potter must make sure Miss Granger is in bed safe and sound, Sir." The little smile on the elf's face grew.

Harry tilted his head and stared at Dobby with disbelief. He smiled, shaking his head and patting Dobby again. "Thank you, Dobby. I really must get to bed before I collapse."

"Yes Harry Potter," Dobby said, bowing his head a little, and without another word he got to work popping the bottles away from the Common Room, other elves coming in and beginning on cleaning up the smell and the mess.

Harry met Hermione halfway up the staircase, and he stopped her as she plodded her way down.

"No need," he said softly. "Dobby's taking care of things."

"Oh," sighed Hermione. "He shouldn't have to-"

"Don't worry," Harry said with a little smile, "I had to promise him that I'd get you to bed safely in return for the favour."

Hermione smiled, a wrinkle of disbelief in on her nose. "Really?"

Harry grinned at her, and on a whim, tilted his head and kissed her. Hermione sighed dreamily, leaning back on the wall of the staircase limply. She giggled under the kiss, clutching Harry's shoulders and talking around his lips.

"Mmph – we'll… ohmm," She sighed again and laughed. "We'll never get to bed this way. We'll be unconscious and joined at the lips!"

"That sounds very-mm-promising," mumbled Harry.

"Yes but not what you promised Dobby," she giggled and pulled her mouth away. Harry looked mournful at the loss of contact and she giggled again. "Oh honestly, Harry! You'll see me in the morning."

Harry grinned. "I will, won't I?"

She nodded slowly like he was a little daft.

He sighed at her, looking over her features dotingly. "You're beautiful, Hermione."

She blushed, smiling and looking at her feet coyly. His lips were on her cheek and a sigh left her again. She stomped her foot and whimpered. "This isn't fair, how am I supposed to get to bed with this going on?"

Harry met her eyes with mischief in his own, and Hermione twisted her lips, trying not to giggle.

"You know this is the longest goodnight I've ever participated in?"

Harry chuckled. "We're not even at the door yet!"

She giggled back at him, and grabbing his hand, she turned and started trudging up the stairs, pulling Harry with her.

"Come on, Mr. Potter!" she said, "Time is of the essence!"

"Are you sure *you* don't have a career as a teacher?" he muttered.

"You never know," she said. "Though I think I might make a mean Auror."

Harry glanced up at her, looking thoroughly horrified. She glanced down to him and giggled.

"You should see the look on your face!"

Harry sighed deeply, leaping up the steps and grabbing her, making her scream with delight. "Don't you scare me like that again!" he said with a worried little chuckle.

"I wouldn't really do that to you," she said. "Trust me."

"Always," Harry replied, gazing up at her fondly.

Hermione smiled down at him from the next step. The moment was so serene, so lovely, Harry did the only thing he thought was appropriate at that moment. He pinched Hermione firmly on the bottom.

Her shrill squeal bounced off the walls of the hall about them, and she grabbed her bottom and stared at Harry in shock.

"So we're at an understanding about the Auror jokes," he said.

She smirked. "I don't know, that seems like an awfully good encouragement to me…"

Harry moved up onto the step next to her, leaning into her ear and saying in a very low, sing-song voice, "Not in the Great Hall it's not…"

She blushed and glared at him. "You wouldn't!"

He wiggled his brows. She leapt for him but he raced up the steps, and Hermione clambered after him in hot pursuit. The squealed and laughed, grabbing and pawing at each other until they'd found their way in front of the sixth year's girl's dorms. Hermione sighed as she leant in the doorway of the dorms, pouting a little.

"We'll have to do this again sometime, Mr. Potter."

Harry sighed, leaning over her and nodding, his hands sliding onto her hips. "I do think so…"

They fell silent as their lips drew close, and they kissed, losing track of time and place just as before.

"Mm, tomorrow," Hermione said through a moan, "We'll do this again tomorrow."

"And the next day?" Harry said, almost plaintively.

Hermione gave a small laugh. "Yes! Of course. Go to bed."

Harry stepped back, sighing a little. "All right."

Hermione nodded to him, opening up the door to the dormitory and backing into it, her eyes glinting as they met his. He had fully expected her to close the door when of a sudden she leapt forward, planting a kiss on his lips. She grinned at him.

"I love you, Harry," she said, and without another word, spun about and disappeared, the dormitory door slamming shut behind her.

Harry stood in the landing of the girls' dorms, absolutely dumbstruck. She… she loved him. Of course she loves you, he thought, Don't be stupid, she said as much before… Oh, but she really said it! She said it. He turned, plodding slowly to the boys' dorms, still in dull shock from the three most beautiful words he was sure he'd ever heard uttered. He had made all the way to the foot of his bed before it registered that his cheeks were aching. He put his hand up to his face and realised he'd been grinning stupidly. He sighed deeply, closing his eyes, barely feeling anything else but deep exhaustion and utter elation. He practically staggered into bed, forgetting his pyjamas and crawling under his covers in nothing but his boxers. He was half asleep when he heard Ron call him from behind his curtain.

"Harry?"

"Mmm?"

"I'm really glad you're with her, you know."

Harry paused, and he shifted in his bed so he faced Ron's. "Really?"

"Yeah."

"Thanks, Ron."

"It's all right," said Ron. "Just remember, if you hurt her, I'll kill you."

Harry smirked. There was a distinct humour in Ron's voice. "I'll keep that in mind."

After another pause, Ron spoke. "Sweet dreams, Harry."

Harry sighed deeply again, cuddling his covers to him, sleep chasing him down swiftly and without mercy. He had no doubts in his mind whatsoever that his dreams would be very sweet indeed.

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