Formerly known as Resolution. No major changes, just combined chapters and made small edits.
He looked forward to seeing them, always hopeful that today would be the day for one of their frequent visits. It was a bit pathetic, really.
He looked forward to work over all other parts of his life. Considering that his work was exhausting, between the physical labor of hauling heavy dishes from one side of the restaurant to the other and the occasional entitled and rude patron, he wondered if it spoke to the character of his happy coworkers, or the absolute crappiness of the rest of his life.
But regardless, the highlight of work was undoubtedly the Granger family. Whenever they came, work stopped feeling like work and felt more like having friends over for tea. The only time he felt like he had friends.
He couldn't imagine why he thought it was a bit pathetic.
He liked both of the doctors immensely, the way they flirted like teenagers, the way the love for their daughter shone in every teasing word.
But if he was being honest, he really looked forward to seeing their daughter the most.
It was hard to understand fully. Sure, she was his age and felt the most like a friend. Yes, she was pretty and funny and smart. But there was something else. Something that hung in the air around her, a kind of electricity. It was somehow both comforting and exhilarating to be around. It wasn't a smell, or a sight or a sound. It was something intangible, like hormones, like the charged space between eyes making contact.
It was like magic.
The summer before her twelfth birthday, Hermione had expected something. She wasn't sure what exactly, but she felt it would be great. She was going to start secondary school soon, but no matter how she tried to make it fit, it was a square peg in a round hole. Her excitement wasn't about secondary school. She couldn't seem to concentrate throughout the summer, and as the start of school came closer, even books couldn't keep her attention. She started having trouble sleeping, her pounding heart keeping her awake.
The start of school came and went and the great feeling of excitement, something like reaching the crest of a great winding roller coaster, didn't dissipate. The night before her twelfth birthday she couldn't sleep. She rolled around on her bed, sighing, starting and throwing away books, watching the clock. She started glancing at the window every few seconds, watching the sky lighten from black to grey to pink. She sat a chair by the window and watched the sunrise, her foot tapping impatiently.
But morning came and went. By the time her mother called her down to lunch, Hermione had drawn her legs to her chest and sobbed into her knees, rocking back and forth. She knew, she felt it in her nerves and fibers, that she had missed something important. That for some reason, her birthday, even such an unremarkable one as twelve, ment the sealing away of something she needed, that she desperately wanted.
Her mother found her there, exhausted and sobbing. She wrapped her in a hug and patted her hair, confused and alarmed. She had asked her what was wrong, but couldn't get an answer, as Hermione hadn't really know either.
"She is like this every birthday, Marcie, ever since she was twelve. She gets moody and stays in her room. She only starts to act herself a few days after really. The first time I just thought that she was starting her period, or having some pubescent existential crisis. But it happens every year still, and I think she is getting a little too old for it, honestly. What teenager hates their birthday so much? She acts like she is turning forty and starting menopause every time, I just don't….Yes, I know, I know. Hermione is such a good girl, I… yes, she did extremely well in her A-levels. Yes, of course, and she is heading off to Cambridge too, you're right, I've no right to complain. I should allow some sort of moodiness every once and awhile. But, it's just that Hermione is such a serious, logical young women, these birthday fits are so out of character. Right, alright, I know you have to run, tell Dave and Mark I say hi." Her mother hung up the phone with a sigh.
"Marcie says, 'Happy Birthday,' Hermione." Her mum yelled up the stairs as she headed out the door, heading out on some errand or another, not knowing that Hermione had heard the whole conversation, her head leaning against the door. She heard her father shuffle closer to her, coming down the hall from her parent's room. She heard him slow, then stop, waiting a moment before hesitantly knocking on the door.
"Hey, puppet, how do you feel about getting a late lunch and taking a walk around the park? I know you aren't feeling well, and I don't expect my usual chipper girl, but it has to beat staying cooped up in this room right?" Her felt her father lean against the door to wait for her response.
She knew she wasn't being rational, and every year she felt almost irritated as her mother with her moodiness around her birthday, but it couldn't be helped. But her father was right, if she was going to be miserable, might as well do it outside.
"Alright, but I can't promise I won't want to go home at anytime."
"There's my girl. How much time will you need before we go?"
"Oh, 15 minutes maybe."
"Half hour it is, then."
"20 minutes at most."
Her father pushed away from the door, and Hermione closed her eyes, sighing against the sadness in her chest, and went to get ready.
Twenty-five minutes later, they were out the door, heading to the underground to go to the city, to their favorite all day breakfast place. It was the middle of September, but it felt like summer. Still, despite the heat, some trees couldn't wait and started to turn their leaves early. Hermione, noticing a bright red leaf dangling from an otherwise green tree, gave a small jump and took it from its branch as they walked from the station to the restaurant.
"One second you're moping in your room and the next you're hopping after leaves like a child." Her dad laughed as he watched her tuck the leaf into the inner pocket of her light jacket.
"Oh, you know I love autumn. First red leaf I've seen of the season. I think that you were right, this is much better than staying in. I almost don't feel like hiding in a dark hole. Is Mum coming?"
"She has some clients this afternoon, but she said she'll join us for dinner before the ballet. I'm glad you're feeling better, puppet." Her dad swung his arm around her shoulders as they entered the restaurant, called the Winchester.
"Hello there, Grangers. No Mrs. Doctor today?" A handsome young man, his hair a ruffled black, lead them towards the back of the restaurant, to their usual table.
"No, not today I'm afraid, Harry. It is, however, Hermione's birthday. If you can believe it, she is already 18 years old!"
Hermione wacked her dad on the leg under the table. Trying to look natural, she meet the bright green eyes of their server. "Haha, yes, yes it is. But please, don't do anything embarr..."
"Hello everybody! Today is the birthday of one of our most special regulars, Hermione Granger. Can everybody please join me in singing her a happy 18th birthday?"
Everyone in the Winchester exploded into song with Harry, most of them regulars. The few newcomers looked around, alarmed, before joining in. Hermione hid her face in her hands as the men at the bar added a, "and many morrreeeee," to end the display.
"Harry Potter! I could murder you, I could."
"Ah, you could fry an egg on your face, Hermione, it's priceless. Shall I get the usual, Hermione, Dr. Granger?"
"Yes, thank you, Harry."
Harry returned with their full English breakfast and a wink for Hermione as he headed back into the kitchen. Hermione rolled her eyes and scoffed to try and hide her small smile.
" I see you still haven't gotten over your crush. Why don't you ever ask him out, Hermione?" Her dad dug into his beans on toast, speaking with his mouth full.
"Honestly, Dad, you eat worse than a teenage boy and gossip worse than mum."
"Oh ho, no reason to get mean, girlie."
Hermione stared at her father other the rim of her class as she drank her orange juice. She would be starting classes in Cambridge come October first, and though she would never tell them, she feared she would miss her parents terribly. Never one to mix well with children her own age, she found she got along very well with her parents, and was worried she had grown too dependent on them through the years. Always the good daughter, never the rebellious teenager, never staking out her own way.
Her musings were interrupted the the sound of a crash from the kitchen, only a few yards from their table.
"Goddamn it, Potter! What is it with you? Why do you keep dropping shit?" A loud, obnoxious voice shot from the back.
" Frank, call me crazy, but I think I saw you stick your foot out on purpose." Harry's much quieter voice, but closer to the door, could barely be heard.
"What did you say? Are you accusing me of something? God, I should have listened to your uncle when he said that you're an irresponsible shit. Shoulda fired you when I came here."
A long pause, then, standing in order to hear better, moving a little closer to the door, Hermione heard Harry say, " ….been here for two years now, the other management like me, you can't just fire me because my uncle doesn't like me and he's your Dad's boss, Frank."
"Just see what I can do, Potter. Why don't you pack up for tonight?"
"Come on now, I can't do that, I said I would take up Mary's shift too. Let's just be reasonable about this…"
"You aren't going to get out when I tell you?" Frank's voice, which had been getting progressively louder, could be heard throughout the restaurant now, people craning their necks to look at the kitchen door.
" I think that if you just stay calm and think..."
A few seconds, and suddenly the kitchen door slammed open and Harry came stumbling backwards, running into Hermione, and both fell on the floor. The swinging kitchen doorway showed flashes of who could only be Frank, looking both red faced with anger and a little shocked. A few customers were standing now, and it was dead silent in the restaurant.
Hermione's dad stood up and rushed over to them. "Are you both alright?" Both nodded and Hermione's dad headed over to the kitchen door, pushing it open and walking in saying, "Did you just attack that young man? Did you just violently shove your employee? I'll have you know…"
The rest of her father's speech went unheard as Hermione, who had fallen on her bum, stared down at Harry, who had fallen completely over, his head resting on her lap, the top half of his back on her legs. "Are you alright?" They asked each other, as Harry rolled off of her and they stood up.
"I'm fine, Harry. Did that man really just shove you?"
"I'm alright, really. It's nice of your dad to go in there and yell at him, but I don't want to cause too much trouble for the other management," Harry said, while rubbing his elbow and grimacing.
"So, I'd like not to file a report or anything," He said, watching her with careful eyes, which, even in the dim lighting of the restaurant, seemed to glow a little, catch some hidden light. He was breathing heavily, and even though he was asking to not report Frank, Hermione could still see that he was angry, his hands shaking as he picked up her jacket.
Out of her pocket fluttered down her leaf, more maroon in the Winchester's lighting. Harry bent to pick it up too, his hands still shaking.
The leaf, pinched between his two fingers, turned an ugly shade of bright green before it burst into a short lived flame. All that remained was the wispy skeleton of the leaf, which floated softly down to the carpeted floor. Harry and Hermione stared down at it in shock. Slowly they turned their heads and looked up at each other.
Harry opened and closed his mouth, looking like a fish, searching for something to say.
Hermione stared at him, her face changing from shock to amazement, to a strange kind of triumph.
"It's okay, Harry, you don't have to explain. I can do that too."
"Wh..what?" Harry stared, uncomprehending.
Dr. Granger burst back out of the kitchen, scowling. "I tell you Harry, if he fires you I will never return to this restaurant. I can not believe that he became physical with you, you have every right to call the police. That man... I have half the mind to call the police myself, the way he spoke of..."
"That's okay, Dr. Granger. I'd rather not call the police. Perhaps if you could stay till Lauren gets here, in say, a half hour? I could use some support defending myself against Frank."
"Of course, Harry."
"Harry, me boy, we'll stick aroun' too, say wha' we heard."
"Yeah, lad, we won't let that wanker fire ya." The older men at the bar called over.
"Thank's everybody!" Harry called, looking around the restaurant and getting a bit red in the face, noticing how everybody still staring over at them. "Please continue to enjoy your meal!" The restaurant patrons started up, muttering, and eventually everyone started to make conversation again.
Harry stepped back and accidently stepped on the remains of the leaf. His head snapped back to Hermione, who was still wearing a small smile on her face.
"Now doesn't seem like a good time to be talking about this. Could I give you my number? You could call me later. Please? I would really, really like to, no, I need to talk about it." Hermione's smile changed as she spoke, a sort of pleading expression making the corners of it tight.
"I, yes, though, I don't really know what you are talking about." Harry was looking to the left of her face, frowning.
Hermione reached down into her purse, pulled out an ever present notebook and pen, tore out a piece of paper, and wrote her number, all while saying, "The leaf Harry, what you did to the leaf. Though perhaps not exactly, I have done similar things. Don't tell me that was the first time something of that sort happened?"
Harry took her number, looked at it, folded it, and slipped it away into his server's apron. Glancing into her eyes, he said, frowning still, "No, I suppose it's not." He was looking very serious now, staring at her with curiosity and the edge of something else that looked like suspicion. "I don't think that I will be able to call tonight, Hermione, what with everything. But maybe tomorrow, possibly in the afternoon?"
Dr. Granger kept glancing between them, noting their serious faces.
"Yes, tomorrow afternoon would be perfect Harry, thank you."
"Not to interrupt young people exchanging phone numbers, but I'm afraid I don't understand. What did Harry do to a leaf? Why do you need to talk about it?" Mr. Granger smiled at them, his eyebrows furrowed.
"Oh, don't worry about it Dad, it's just a kind of slang."
He hadn't called. Hermione couldn't believe it. Yesterday she felt like she was buzzing. She couldn't wait to talk to him about it. Someone else doing something blatantly odd, something like she could do. But there he was, someone she had known for years, in the most ordinary of places. She sat in a daze the rest of the day. She hardly listened as her father and the men at the bar defended Harry against Frank to another manager, Lauren. Instead she stared at Harry, at his hands, at his eyes, wishing they could talk about it right away.
She only managed to mutter a hello to her mother at dinner, her father excusing her absentmindedness as being on a high from successfully giving her number to Harry. Her mother gasped and clapped her hands, but then went on to express her concern at the bad timing, seeing as Hermione was going to leave for school soon. Hermione could only shrug. Somehow she wasn't worried. This was much more important than a date, she would have to continue to talk to him, somehow. She couldn't pay much attention to the ballet later that night either, the swirling figures only in the edge of her mind, her focus elsewhere.
When she got home, she went up to her room after thanking her parents and wishing them a good night. From one of her bookshelves she pulled out a thin, blank covered, black notebook. She had started writing in it when she was 13, recording every time she had what she called an Odd Moment. The time she made Emma Smith trip in the hallway after she had called her a buck-toothed troll. The time she woke up in a fever, very thirsty, and the glass of water on her desk floated over to her. These moments and so many more over the years were recorded in her blank book. It seemed to Hermione that they were picking up frequency over the years as well. But this was her first time writing about someone else's Odd Moment. She wondered if he kept a notebook too, if he was as curious and excited to learn more as her.
But apparently not, Hermione thought bitterly to herself as she lay in bed the following night. She had waited on pins and needles by the phone all day, snapping at her parents if they were on the phone too long. At first they thought it was cute, but as the day went on without phone call from him, her parents started to worry too. Hermione didn't put herself out there too often, it was disappointing that she was apparently being rejected.
There was a knock on her door, and her mother entered without waiting for a response. She shuffled over, in an old t-shirt and jogging bottoms, and lied down on the bed next to her. Her mum smelled like how she always did at night, cloth and toothpaste and skin. The smell was so much her mother's, Hermione couldn't help but roll on her side and face her. "Oh, sweetheart, don't look so glum. Maybe something unexpected had come up, you never know. Even if that isn't the case, it's his mistake that he didn't take the opportunity to talk to such a catch." Her mother squeezed her hand.
"Thanks Mum, don't worry, I'm not exactly heartbroken or anything. Just...mostly frustrated, I guess."
"Oh me too! I admit I am surprised, I thought for sure he would call. He always flirted a little at the restaurant. I mean servers can be that way sometimes, I suppose, but he didn't really behave that way with other guests, even young pretty ones. I thought for sure…." Her mother sighed and patted her hand again.
"I'm going to watch Pride and Prejudice again, if you'd like to join me for some comfort watching?"
"That sounds nice Mum, let's do."
Still feeling a bit dejected the next day, Hermione didn't think much of answering the phone as she was heading to the kitchen for lunch. She couldn't help but feel a volt of surprise and excitement as it turned out to be Harry.
"Hello, uh, this is Harry, Harry Potter, from the Winchester. Um, Is this? Uh, is Hermione there?"
"Yes, it's me Harry. I, I wasn't sure you were going to call. I thought you were going to call yesterday?"
"Ah, yes, sorry about that. I couldn't get to a phone yesterday, I'm afraid. The restaurant fired Frank, and Frank knows my Uncle, so he tattle on me to him. My uncle never believes anything I say, so he just assumed I got his family friend fired for no reason. And, well, he wasn't pleased. Anyway, I got out and am calling from a pay phone. So sorry if my call ends short, I'm not sure how much change I have."
"That's okay Harry, I'm glad you managed to call! I really do want to talk about the leaf. You mentioned having done stuff like that before, right? Well, I have been keeping a journal since I was 13 about all these, what I call, Odd Moments. Things like changing this ugly colored sweatshirt to a nicer color, and floating or pulling things to me. Do you have a notebook? Do you remember anything like that?"
"Really? You did those things too? I'm…I always thought. My family has always said that I was…,well, I just can't believe you do things like that too. I haven't kept a journal or anything. Uh, I do remember stuff pretty well, I mean, you tend to remember things like this right? You know, like this time I turned this nasty substitute's hair blue, or another time I appeared on the school roof, that was the craziest thing I've done, I think. But! Um, just last week though, Frank had tripped me again and when I fell, I think I stopped all the glass from breaking. I mean, they just seemed to pause before they hit the ground."
"That's amazing, Harry. This is amazing. I never thought… I'm so excited. Maybe there are more of us? Maybe there are a lot of us and we all just think that we are weird? I dunno, I tried to talk to some friends about it in secondary school, at first they thought it was cool. They liked things like witchcraft, you know the type, wore too much black, were rude to their parents. But after a while, after they saw me accidentally break a glass, they became scared. They started to avoid me. I was very disappointed, because they were the first friends I had ever...Oh, why am I saying all this. The point being, I think that we should meet and try to do these Odd Moments on purpose. I haven't ever actually done anything intentionally, it was always an accident. How about you Harry? I mean, when you appeared on the school roof, did you mean to?" Hermione paused and listened to the dead silence on the other end for a few moments before putting her against the wall with a thunk and hanging up. She pressed 14713 and listened to the phone ring, muttering to herself.
"Oh drat, I forgot. I can't believe I went on for so long, I wonder how much he heard. How embarr…"
"Yes. I'm terribly sorry, I went on a bit of a rant. What is the last thing you heard?"
"You were suggesting trying to do these Odd Moments together. I mean, we can try, can't we? I've never done it on purpose, but perhaps we can make something happen."
"Yes, let's try. When can you meet? I can anytime before October 1st, I'm leaving for school then."
"Ah, you're leaving for school? So soon too, that's...good. Where are you going?"
"Oh wow, Cambridge. I did always peg you for the smart type."
Hermione tried not to read too much into that. Smart types usually meant hopelessly nerdy looking. She frowned and pushed her bushy hair behind ear. "Yes, well. When would you like to meet?"
"Oh uh, how about Friday? I don't work that day this week. How about, let's say, three? We can meet at the park by Winchester, if that works for you?"
"Yes, that's perfect Harry. See you then!"
"Yes, see you."