I am dedicating this little bit of fluff to a very, very good friend, whom I care a great deal about, and who I refuse to embarrass further by identifying. He knows why I'm writing this (because I'm still laughing!). For those of you who care, rumors are seldom true, and the very best friendships are generally completely platonic. At least, in my experience.
And before you ask, no – there will be no continuation of this particular story... it's merely a stretching exercise by my muse, who continues to fight with me continuously between little gems she drops in my lap and insists on having me post.
For those who might be wondering, there is a new fic on the way... promise!
"Everyone knows that you two will get together eventually! It's no big secret!"
Harry watched the retreating back of the very angry witch. Could today possibly get any worse? He'd just been soundly told off, in the main hall of Hogwarts, by a Hufflepuff.
"Looks like you've been bested, there, Potty. The Lion, cowed by a Badger!"
Harry groaned at the taunting voice. Apparently Fate had more in store for him... and had proven herself by placing Draco Malfoy in a position to witness Hannah Abbott ripping him a new one.
But, strangely enough, he still didn't really understand what for. Get together with who?
"Oi! Malfoy! Pansy's looking for you, ferret-face... and she doesn't look too happy, either. As a matter of fact, if I were you, and you'll note how happy I am that I'm not, I'd scarper."
For once, Draco didn't respond to Ron with a snide comment. As a matter of fact, he glanced around nervously, as though looking for the witch in question, and without another word, he and his bookends slunk away.
"Oi, Harry..." Ron strode up to him. "What did ferret-boy want?"
"I'm not sure," Harry shook his head. "Everyone is confusing me today, Ron."
"Meh, join the club, mate," Ron shrugged. "It happens to me all the time, and I've learned one thing... if you miss anything really important, you'll find out about it soon enough."
Harry looked at his friend rather worriedly. Ron wasn't helping any.
Later, in the library, Harry was studying across the table from Hermione.
Well, not really. He was fiddling with his quill while Hermione studied, actually.
"Hmm?" Her quill continued to scratch across the parchment in front of her.
"Something weird happened today. Hannah Abbott..."
Hermione threw down her quill and looked at Harry with stormy eyes. "Do not talk to me about Hannah Abbott!"
Harry, surprised by her outburst, swallowed nervously.
"She and Susan Bones cornered me after Transfiguration today and yelled at me for five minutes solid about fence-sitting, and keeping 'the two best' for myself! I still don't have any idea what they were on about. Seriously, Harry, I think they might both be a bit deranged."
Harry, thinking that that might well explain his own rather surreal encounter with the normally mild-mannered Hufflepuff girl, decided to let it go.
"Honestly! If you'd read something other than those silly Quidditch magazines occasionally..." Hermione stormed down the hallway, leaving Harry to follow along. Where was Ron when he needed him? This was Ron's flak to be taking off Hermione, and where was he? In detention with Snape with Ginny for setting off dungbombs in the hallway outside the Slytherin common room.
Sighing, he followed Hermione through the portrait hole and into the Gryffindor common room, where several of his dorm mates looked on with pity as Hermione continued to rant about Harry's poor study habits.
This day really needed to end.
"Oh, Harry!" Hermione giggled as they entered the Great Hall. "Did you see his face?"
Harry snorted. Draco Malfoy, after three solid days of successfully dodging his rather determined female Slytherin counterpart, had just been ambushed by Pansy Parkinson in the Entrance Hall. Laughing so hard he could barely stand, he threw an arm around Hermione and guided her to their seats, where they shared a surreptitious glance, and burst into tearful laughter once more.
"It's a bloody nightmare, Mione!" Harry ranted, stalking up and down in front of the fireplace in the deserted common room. It was three in the morning,. He hadn't been able to sleep after another mental duel with Voldemort, and had come down to find Hermione up late studying.
He stopped, turned, and looked at her. She sat on the couch, her legs curled under her. Her eyes were puffy with lack of sleep and she was exhausted, but still she sat, hearing him out.
He looked tenderly at her, "Mione?"
"You really are a wonderful friend. Thank you. You make it better... easier."
"Harry, I'll always be here for you. Always."
"Will you?" he couldn't help the slight doubt that crept into his voice.
Hermione smiled gently. He was such a sweetheart... with so much going on in his life. Sometimes she wondered how he dealt with it all.
"Of course I will, Harry. That's what friends are for, remember?"
"Well, I've kept you up long enough exploring my well of self-pity. I'm sorry..."
"Don't you dare, Harry James Potter!" she said warningly. "Just don't even go there!"
"Uh-uh..." she shook her head. "I'm going to bed now... but only because I have to, or I'm going to fall asleep on you. You are going to do the same."
"Yes," he agreed.
"Good," she stood and came over to him, hugging him tightly. "Harry, I think you're wonderful, did you know that?"
"No," he blushed.
"You are. I just wish it was easier for you to see how great you really are."
After a moment, she patted his cheek affectionately, and turned, heading for the girls dorms.
The following morning, Harry was eating his breakfast when Hermione entered the Great Hall. His face lit when he saw her, and she smiled back at him.
"Good morning," he said as she sat down beside him.
"Okay then?" she asked.
"Now I am. Thanks."
"Good," she smiled again, squeezing his arm before digging into her own breakfast and beginning a conversation with Ron about garden gnomes.
"Um... Harry?" Ron sidled up to him in Potions. Harry was measuring ground frog livers and didn't look away.
"Harry, can I ask you something?"
"Um... you and... are you and...?"
"Ron?" Harry dumped the measured livers into their cauldron and looked at his friend. "What is it?"
"We've done that part, Ron."
"There's a rumor going around..."
"A rumor? What else is new?" he muttered, turning to the lacewings, which were the next ingredient on the list. If he balled this up, Snape would have him scrubbing bubotuber pus out of the measuring vials for the rest of his natural life.
He measured out an eighth of a cup, just as it said. Good so far.
"Are you dating Hermione?" Ron asked bluntly.
The entire contents of his jar of lacewings dumped into the cauldron below. It began to give off an unearthly stench.
"Potter!" Snape bellowed from the front of the class. Harry didn't care.
"What?" he turned on Ron, shocked. "What in hell are you talking about?"
"Well... Hannah Abbott told Lavender, and Lavender told Seamus... who just told me before class. It's all over the school, apparently, that you two are..."
"Are you insane?"
"Okay, sorry..." Ron squeaked, looking rather frightened.
"Merlin, Ron! That... it's just wrong! In so many ways! I mean, it's practically incestuous! Where did..."
"Okay, okay, Harry... I just..."
"Ron, at the very least, even if I didn't look at her like a sister... which I most definitely do... I mean, well, I'd hardly do that to you, now would I?"
"To me?" Ron's ears turned pink.
"Come on, Ron. You... and Hermione?"
"Well..." his ears pinkened further. They almost matched his hair.
"Well, nothing. Do you really think I would..."
"No, no, of course not, but... well, I just figured... I figured you should hear the rumor from me... that's all."
"Thanks," Harry sighed. "Look, Hannah Abbott asked me to go to Hogsmeade with her next weekend. I told her I was already going with you and Hermione..."
"Ah..." Ron nodded.
"I didn't think that..."
"Nope," Ron held up a hand, shaking his head. "Say no more, mate. Bigger mistakes have been made with less."
Harry sighed again, glad his friend understood. Now what about the rest of the school?
Harry didn't know whether to be insulted, or to laugh along with the apparently hysterical Hermione at lunch.
"Harry? And me?" she gasped, and then proceeded to go off into further gales of laughter. "No, really... I really can't believe that... Oh, Merlin!"
Harry's eyes narrowed. "Well, it explains what Hannah Abbott was on about, in any case."
"Oh... right!" Hermione calmed again, wiping away tears. "I never thought of that."
At that moment, Harry felt a hand run across his shoulders and looked up into the dancing brown eyes of Ginny Weasley, who straddled the bench beside him, looking positively dangerous in her glee.
She had far too much of Fred and George in her for her own, or any one else's, good.
"I've just heard a rumor," she was practically killing herself holding in her laughter.
"I know, I know..." Harry flushed. Ginny Weasley liked to tease, and he found himself more and more often being her unwilling victim.
"For what, Mr Potter?" Have you been... encouraging... these gossips?" she choked, trying to keep from bursting with it.
"Harry..." she leaned in toward him, her voice lowering as her eyes narrowed speculatively. "What do you say we really give them something to talk about?"
Harry's eyes grew alarmed. Surely she didn't mean...
"Last chance to stop me, Harry..." she said softly, edging closer to him on the bench.
Apparently she did.
A sigh escaped him has she nudged closer and, wrapping her arms around him, proceeded to kiss him senseless in front of the entire school.
It lasted only a moment before she pulled back and stood up, her cheeks flaming.
"That ought to dismiss the rumors about you and Hermione," she said, an hint of a smile on her lips.
"Merlin..." Harry said softly as he watched her leave, her hips swaying as she went. Half the blokes at Gryffindor table, and a few along the Ravenclaw table, as well, watched her progress with varying levels of personal discomfort.
"Harry..." Ron's voice sounded rather... strangled.
Harry, shaking his head to clear it, glanced around. Most people were watching Ginny.
But the faces of Hannah Abbott and Susan Bones showed shock as they glanced between Harry, Ginny and Hermione.
Harry grinned. The rumor mill, on the subject of himself and Hermione, at any rate, appeared to be effectively silenced.