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.
Summary: Hermione calls on Harry to rescue her from an uncomfortable family reunion. Occasionally good things do happen to good people, even when you least expect it.
Author's Note: Written for the hhrserendipity livejournal community. The prompt was 'The Granger family reunion.' This story is slightly at cross-angles to the prompt, but every time I tried writing the actual reunion, it turned into a reminiscent monologue by Hermione's mother, which is even less to the point. And I'm really no good at writing romance in the usual sense, so you get this instead. I think it's, well, kind of fluffy anyway.
One of Those Days
Harry kneed his door shut just as the phone rang, which figured. He was having that sort of day. He dumped his groceries on the counter, scrabbled to keep the soup cans from rolling onto the floor, and grabbed the receiver half a second before the automated message kicked in. "Potter."
"Oh, you're home. Harry, do you remember my parents' address?"
Harry blinked in surprise. "Hermione? What's wrong?"
Hermione hissed through her teeth the way she did whenever someone was being an idiot and refusing to see something she thought was obvious. "I'm at a family reunion," she said slowly and clearly, "and I need an excuse to leave. Come get me out of here."
"Yeah, okay," said Harry automatically. Then he paused. "Wait, what sort of excuse?"
"I don't care. Say Ron's in hospital, or I'm needed at work, or I forgot a dinner appointment - no, not that, they'd never believe that - oh, actually, say that we have a date and I can pretend I didn't tell anyone because of how they'd react. That ought to work. Be here in twenty minutes."
Hermione hung up, leaving Harry to stare at the receiver and wonder just what Hermione's extended family was like. Also, a date? Hermione had sworn off romance after her rollercoaster relationship with Ron had finally derailed last year. And a date with him?
He hung up the phone and put his groceries away, waited fifteen minutes, and Apparated to the front door of Hermione's old house. Her parents lived in the suburbs of greater London, so it wasn't too unreasonable for him to appear without any obvious mode of transportation. Harry took a deep breath and rang the doorbell.
Hermione opened the door and pulled him in so fast he felt like a jack-in-the-box. "Oh, Harry, right on time! It's so good to see you." She wrapped her arm around his waist and turned to face a small horde of people who stared at them with blatant curiosity. "This is Harry," she said, smiling; you had to know her very well to see the slightly hysterical edge to her expression.
"Er, hi," said Harry. Hermione's arm was around his waist; it vibrated with suppressed tension. What the hell was going on?
An elderly woman examined Harry through her narrow spectacles - he felt like a beetle pinned to a card. "Your new young man? Well, he's better dressed than Ronald, although that isn't saying much. Why are you ashamed of this one?" In the background, Hermione's parents winced.
"I'm not ashamed, Aunt Beatrice," Hermione said brightly. "I'm introducing him to you, aren't I? It's been wonderful seeing you all, but I have to go now. Good-bye."
Harry nodded awkwardly as Hermione switched her grip to his hand, pulled him through the door, and slammed it behind them. She strode furiously down the front walk and along the street. When they rounded the corner, she muttered, "Brace yourself," and Apparated them both to her own flat without so much as asking permission. She dropped his hand and started pacing around her living room.
Harry waited until the disorientation of Side-along Apparation wore off, and turned to Hermione. "Right. What the hell was that?"
"I love my parents," said Hermione, somewhat randomly.
"They know I'm a witch. None of my other relatives know that. So they know I'm not at university, and they think the only reason not to study is if I get married. I was with Ron, so naturally they thought I'd marry him, and they were convinced he was beneath me - poor family, no higher education, works in a shop, complete social misfit - well, of course he's a misfit in the Muggle world! And then we stopped seeing each other last year."
Hermione paced some more. "So now everyone thinks I'm a complete failure, and they went on and on and on about it, and I had to get out of there. And, well, I don't like being thought of as a failure."
Harry made a noncommittal noise of agreement; he thought 'don't like' was a massive understatement.
"So... I passed you off as my new boyfriend," concluded Hermione.
Harry's brain went blank for a second. Then, cautiously, he said, "Boyfriend?"
Hermione nodded, looking simultaneously pleased with her ingenuity, embarrassed at her need for the plan, and hopeful that Harry wouldn't mind being taken advantage of. She had, thought Harry, an extremely expressive face, once you knew how to read her.
"Oh," he said.
"If I'd thought ahead, I would have made a better plan," said Hermione, "but I was too nervous to be clear-headed. It was not a good day." Then she smiled, tentatively. "It looks a bit better now, though - I'll treat you to dinner if you'd like."
"So it is a date," said Harry before he could stop himself.
Hermione froze. "Erm."
Slowly, Hermione relaxed. "Well, I suppose from a certain perspective, it could be a date. After all, I did ask you, after a fashion, you agreed when you showed up, and we obviously don't find each other repellant. But it's not a romantic date, you understand. I'm not going to make a fool of myself that way again."
Harry, remembering his painful awkwardness around Ginny when they tried to reconnect after the war, nodded. "Just friends, then." No matter how unexpectedly good Hermione's arm had felt around him.
"Right," said Hermione. Something flitted across her face too quickly for Harry to read, and then her expression settled into pleased determination. "There's a restaurant around the corner I've been meaning to try, but eating out by myself is lonely. Do you mind Italian?"
"Italian's fine," said Harry. "Maybe - maybe we could do this regularly? There are lots of restaurants and Ron's never up for that."
"That," said Hermione, "is a good plan. Now come on." She opened her door and ushered Harry out of her flat. She didn't reach for his hand this time, but that, thought Harry, could wait. He wasn't going to push this the way Ron and Hermione had pushed each other. He wasn't going to grab desperately for happiness the way he'd clung to Ginny, or the way Cho had thrown herself at him. If that was romance, he didn't want it. He didn't like the way that sort of thing changed people - he liked Hermione the way she was.
She smiled at him as she locked her door, and he grinned back. The day was looking up.
AN: I've had some requests to continue this, but in all honesty, I'm not really interested in going much further with this story. However, I will tell you that at dinner, Hermione had a nice shrimp linguine while Harry (the schlub) went with pizza, and they talked about some interesting cases in accidental magic reversals that Hermione had recently dealt with, as well as Harry's frustration with all the paperwork involved in being an Auror. Hermione thought he was just complaining for effect, which, to be fair, was somewhat true.
Next week, they had Chinese. :-)
Thanks for reading, and please review!