Title: Anything Less

Author: Amethyst

Author E-mail: AmethystJackson at hotmail dot com

Category: Romance, Fluff

Rating: G

Spoilers: Books 1-5

Summary: As Harry and Hermione's relationship progresses, he takes her on a date to Hogsmeade. Ooh. Ahh.

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's note: The three sections of this fic stand alone, really, because they don't necessarily tie into one another. However, I wrote them all with the same universe in mind, and I felt some background was needed for the third scene, so they've all been combined into this fic. Oh, and this is all extremely old. Way before HBP. But much more fun to write afterward.

This is dedicated to Gracie, among many other fics, because she is relentless in asking for particular stories. If you would like to flame after reading this, please complain to her.

It was supposed to happen when their lives were in mortal peril.

It happened in Transfiguration. He watched her taking notes all hour. He watched her bite the end of her quill. He watched her push her hair out of her face. He forgot to stop watching her during McGonagall's demonstration and lost five points for his inattentiveness. He wanted to say that he was paying very close attention…just not to her.

And who could blame him? He'd just realized that he was infatuated, and when the final bell rang, he had no choice but to pull her aside.

"Hermione…could I talk to you - alone - for a minute?"

It was supposed to be a poetic, heartfelt confession of undying love. It was supposed to happen when the hero rescued the damsel in distress from the cruel, wicked villain. It was supposed to be articulate, at the very least.

He pulled her down a mostly unused corridor and tried to tell her what he felt. He struggled valiantly.

"Hermione, I…I…well, I…" he stammered, never one to succeed at heartfelt confessions.

"What is it, Harry?" she asked. There was no impatience in her tone, only concern.

"I - well, I - oh, sod this," he swore, and Hermione scowled at his language, but only until he leaned in and kissed her. He thought he made his point perfectly clear.

It was supposed to be magical. It was supposed to be a thousand cliches rolled into one.

And this time, it was.

He pulled away, breathing heavily. She leaned against the wall, her face expressionless, watching him.

"I just…wanted to tell you that…I…like you." 'Like' was a nice, safe word. It wasn't scary, like 'love' was.

Hermione smiled, seeming to understand, as usual. "I like you, too."

Harry didn't know why, but he was feeling nervous. It wasn't about how she would respond, because he already knew. It wasn't about what she would think of him, because he already knew that as well.

He just wanted to do the thing properly.

He met her outside her Arithmancy classroom. Since he had dropped Divination, he had no classes during that period, and he could wait for her. He liked that.

She was the last one out, which wasn't unusual. She smiled when she saw him. He liked that, too.

"Hello, Harry."

"Hi," he said, smiling back, still oddly nervous, even in the face of her warm, welcoming smile. "I wanted to ask you something, Hermione," he told her as he took her hand and they started down the corridor.

"You can ask me anything you'd like," she said as he took her book-stuffed bag from her, as was his habit. She had finally given up insisting that she could carry her own books, and let him do it for her - because he liked that.

"I was just wondering if you would like to go to Hogsmeade with me this weekend."

Hermione stopped in her tracks, smiling strangely at him. "You're asking me on a date." It wasn't a question, or disbelief, just simple acknowledgement of the fact.

He felt uncertain. "…Shouldn't I?"

She laughed slightly. "Yes, I just…it never occurred to me that you would bother - or that we would even go on dates at all."

Harry still wasn't sure what she meant by that, and he waited for her to elaborate.

"I would love to go with you," she said, moving closer to him. "And it's sweet that you asked."

"It is?" He had thought that all girls expected it, and that it was something that was required of him. But perhaps they were a special case.

"Of course it is," she said, hugging him. "I mean, we've been friends for so long before this that you could have just assumed I would go." She was still hugging him. "You're adorable sometimes.

Harry blushed as she kissed him. It seemed that he had done the thing properly.

And he really liked that.

Harry and Hermione left Honeydukes hand-in-hand with sugar quills stuck in their mouths.

The day had been perfect so far. Technically, it had just begun, but Hermione seemed to be having fun, and he was, so he took the good beginning as a positive sign.

"Want to head over to the Three Broomsticks?" Hermione asked, taking the sugar quill out of her mouth to speak.

"Sure," he said through his teeth, which he used to keep his quill from falling out of his mouth. He led them in that direction.

Harry found it funny how different things were with Hermione, compared to Cho. Hermione would never drag him off to some frilly teashop that he had to pretend to like for her sake - because she would hate it, too. Hermione was not and never had been that kind of girl, and he loved that about her. She was familiar and comfortable and at the same time, he was always seeing a new facet of her, always seeing her for the first time.

He wondered if the contradiction he was feeling was love. He didn't have any qualms with being in love with Hermione. It seemed that it should be that way. It fit, like one's favorite pair of jeans. He loved that feeling.

They walked into the Three Broomsticks, the familiar smell of butterbeer greeting their noses. As they walked to the bar, they passed Cho, sitting in a booth with a seventh year Hufflepuff. She noticed them, he knew, but pretended to ignore them, and they did the same.

"They've got a new drink," Hermione said, gesturing to a flier on the bar. Harry looked at it.

ORANGE CRUSH - The ultimate combination of citrus flavors, blended into one creamy, delicious soda.

"Sounds interesting, to say the least," Hermione commented. "Do you want to try it?"

He could tell she really wanted to. "Sounds good."

"One Orange Crush, please, with two straws," she told Rosemerta when she came over to take their order.

Harry raised an eyebrow at her, grinning. "Two straws?"

She smiled sheepishly. "I've always wanted to share a soda that way," she told him. "Like they do in the old American movies in the diners from the '50's."

Their drink arrived, and they went over to a booth, sitting side by side. This was new to Harry. When they went to the Three Broomsticks together as friends, after Ron had started to date Luna, they normally would sit across from each other.

They each took a drink at the same time, Hermione looking as though she was trying very hard not to laugh at the absurd, cliched quality of it all. Harry soon gave into laughter as well, and before long, they were both choking on their soda.

"Is it just me," Hermione said hoarsely as she finally began to calm down, "Or was that soda completely awful?"

"Mmm, it wasn't just you. Orange Crush is definitely not for me."

"I'll go order us some butterbeers," Hermione said, grinning.

Harry watched her go with a feeling of peace settling upon him as he realized he never needed to worry. No day with Hermione could be anything less than perfect when there were moments like these.