DISCLAIMER: just own the plot. That's all folks.
Filling up my empty days with red wine, wonder what you think of me? Lying in the grass alone and wasted, nothing's how it used to be. I wanna be the first to call and tell you, yesterday I heard the news. I hear you outta be congratulated, so I guess that's what I'll do...
"Happy" by Saving Jane
Chapter 1: Revelations
This is a disaster! a panicking twenty-year old Hermione Granger thought as she stared down at the bold headline on the paper currently lying on her imported coffee table. Not only did she have to live with the devastating news, but she had it shoved right in her face at every twist and turn. Worst still, she had to hear about it from those annoying reporters first because obviously her friends had not thought her important enough to tell her themselves.
Hermione was currently pacing in front of the window in her upscale New York apartment. She had moved to America after the war had been won (with the Boy-Who-Lived killing Voldemort, of course, and winning for the Light) for a remarkable position with Potion and Medicine Master, Ricardo Vindichi, one which she was proud to say had never been offered to a young witch fresh out of school before. Actually, it had never been offered to anyone under thirty before. So, with the blessing of her friends and family, Hermione packed up all of her belongings and travelled to America to start her new life.
It had been terrific in the beginning…of course, it usually is. However, everything began to change during her second year overseas. Though Ron had often dropped in while playing for the Chudley Cannons, Hermione began to see less and less of Harry. She had asked various members of the Weasley family who visited her why this was, but they would all shift their eyes about nervously and quickly change the topic. Eventually, Hermione decided to ignore it and throw herself into her work until she felt as if she was drowning in vials of every colour imaginable.
A year after her move, she received word of Ginny and Draco Malfoy's (who had switched sides before the Final Battle and became an asset to the Order) engagement and, shortly after that, Ron and Luna's. She had journeyed to London for their weddings and found that shy Neville had found a lifelong match in quiet Hannah Abbott.
Hermione had been able to corner Harry on these occasions long enough to hold a halfway decent conversation before he was off again, joining up with some others that he knew… and she didn't. She was an outsider in those moments, an unwanted appendage to the group, and she knew it.
Hermione remembered that she had left shortly after the reception for Ron and Luna's wedding and hadn't been back to London, or England for that matter, since. Those who wanted to see her came and visited her in New York. Those who didn't, well, she forced herself to not think about them. Because, though she loathed to admit it, Hermione was deeply wounded by the fact that Harry didn't seem to want to be around her anymore.
Hermione stopped in front of her window, staring out at the New York skyline as memories raced through her head. As much as she'd like to, she couldn't ignore the pain that welled up inside of her as the Headline shined in her head. She couldn't ignore that one of her best friends was ignoring her and why? Because in a brief moment of desperation, Hermione had spilt her deepest secret.
She knew what she had to do- she couldn't ignore it anymore. With quick steps, she reached the phone and picked it up, dialling her employer's telephone number. If anyone could, he would understand…
"Ricardo? It's Hermione….I was wondering if there's any way that I can take some time off for about a week or so….Well, I was hoping to go home for a little while. To England I mean…There's some unfinished business that I have to attend to….Thanks Ricardo, I owe you one. Bye."
In fifteen minutes, Hermione had her bags packed and was waiting by the door downstairs for her taxi to arrive. She had changed into a suitable outfit of fitted jeans and a long sleeve fitted top for travelling, but soon began second guessing her choice when she noticed some of the looks she was receiving from men. She couldn't really understand why they looked at her, she didn't think she was pretty at all.
In truth, Hermione didn't have what some would call "model" beauty. But at the age of twenty, Hermione had fully developed into a woman, possessing "natural" beauty, which many men found more delectable than the afore mentioned one. However, Hermione ignored the attention she received and concentrated on her work. That was her primary goal at the moment.
Until this happened. For now she had to concentrate on saving the remnants of a friendship that, somewhere along the way, had fallen apart instead of trying to save the rest of the world's problems. She had done that once and now it was her turn for happiness- no matter how broken hearted she would be in the long run, at least she would be able to say that she had both of her best friends by her side.
Hermione shut all the doors on her New York life as she climbed into the awaiting cab to take her to the Magical Transportation System strategically located under Trump Towers. She had to concentrate now on travelling to London and saving a friendship. Maybe somewhere along the way she would be able to pick up the pieces of her shattered heart.
Or maybe she left it back in her apartment in her trash bin along with the Daily Prophet which showed an animated picture of the Boy-Who-Lived and the bold headline: Potter Announces Engagement.
"The prototype for the new broomstick is said to be out on market in March of next year," a tall redheaded man donned in shockingly orange Quidditch robes commented to the man standing beside of him as they watched the other members of the team practice from the stands.
"Yeah," the other man, who had very untidy black hair indeed, agreed, "I heard about it. It's supposedly the best broomstick ever invented and they say that there will never be another one like it for at least ten years."
"Really?" the redhead laughed. "I heard that it would be at least twenty."
"I haven't heard anything on the person that invented yet, have you?"
The redhead shook his head. "Naw. There's some rumours going around that it was some brainy girl from America who supposedly has ties in England which made her want to create a racing broom that not only could fly at considerable speeds, but would be safe as well." He looked over at his friend. "You're telling me that little ol' me has heard more about something than the famous Harry Potter?"
Harry shrugged and grinned at his friend. "I guess I am." He looked up at the sky where a bludger was soaring towards a chaser. "I don't guess I get out much anymore."
"Well, you sure do seem to get out with Cho a lot," Ron commented, barely keeping the sarcasm out of his words. He really didn't like the girl….
Harry didn't say anything for a moment, but just stood there looking up at the players for the Chudley Cannons. He stuffed his hands into his pockets and rocked softly back and forth on his heels, his face set as he mulled over something in his head.
"Stupid question," Ron said, his voice serious though, "but have you talked to Hermione lately by chance."
Harry shifted, a movement which Ron noticed, and looked towards his feet. "Actually… I've been rather busy lately…you know, with the engagement with all…and haven't really had the…"
"Chance to talk to her," Ron finished lamely. "Yeah, you say that every time I ask." He looked over at one of his best friends and his blue eyes narrowed. "Have you even told her about your engagement?"
Harry blew out a puff of air and threw his head back, looking intently at the sky. "Not exactly…"
"What do you mean by that?"
"Well, I've been rather hoping that someone else could mention it to her for me…," Harry said slowly, not looking at Ron who stood there shaking his head angrily.
"Bloody hell, Harry, are you purposefully trying to drive the girl from you?" Ron slapped the banister and rounded on his friend. "You do realize that she's going to find out, if not from us then from that bloody paper that feels that it's their job to report every little detail about your life?"
"She's going to be upset, Harry," Ron hissed. "I don't know about you, but I hate it when Hermione's upset, especially about something that either of us does. I don't care if you are the bloody 'Boy-Who-Lived', I will kick your arse if you upset Hermione."
Harry's eyes flashed as he turned angrily towards the seething Weasley. "You know what, Ron, this is between Hermione and myself so stay out of it. There's a reason that I haven't told her yet…yet being the keyword there… So please, if you don't mind, keep your large nose out of my affairs."
With that, Harry Potter, Boy-Who-Lived and saviour of the wizarding world, stormed off from the Chudley Cannon's practice pitch. As he left, he could of sworn he heard someone whisper the word, "wanker," but he just kept walking.
Hermione Granger sat in the back of the Knight Bus as it zoomed through London at breathtaking speeds. She, unlike the unthinking wizard seated towards the front of the bus, had been smart enough to not eat before stepping foot on the double-decker, having learnt from past experience of course.
Stan and Ernie were chatting amiably with the wizard up front, clearly not noticing the fact that the man was about ready to hurl his lunch everywhere. However, everyone else around him had and, when the bus had stopped to let off a passenger, they had all moved away, far away, from the man and his sickly green face.
Hermione opened up a large tome she had remembered to grab before she left for some light reading on the trip. Though she had already read the book several times, it remained one of her favourites and most cherished. The tales that Merlin spun about magic and ancient times fascinated her tremendously.
As she lost herself in the tales of the Lady of the Lake and other ancient gods, Stan called out a stop and the sick looking man jumped off of the bus without a second glance. Hermione and a few others on the bus chuckled until the bus lurched forward once more and took off, racing through the streets.
"The Leaky Cauldron," Stan called and Hermione looked up, startled to find herself to be the only one remaining on the bus, at least on the lower floor that is. "Miss, would you like for me to take your bags in."
Hermione smiled at him. He was no longer a acne covered teen, but a fairly decent looking man with large brown eyes that just made you trust him. "Yes, please do."
She followed him off the bus, carrying her satchel and purse on her arm while he took her other two, much larger, bags. He smiled at her shyly as he set them down just inside the door and blushed crimson when she returned it.
"Thank you ever so much," Hermione said gratefully, setting her belongings on her arm along with the other bags. "The trip was lovely."
"Thank you, ma'am," Stan managed to get out as he twisted his hat nervously in his hands. "If you ever need a ride, don't hesitate to stick out your wand. Me and Ern will be happy to pick you up."
Hermione thanked him again and assured him that she would as he walked out of the entrance to the pub. She turned around to be greeted with the face of Tom, the friendly old barkeep that owned the place.
"Why, bless my soul, it can't be….Hermione?" he spoke softly, staring into her brown eyes. When she nodded and smiled at him, he laughed and clapped her on the shoulder. "Was wondering when you'd be getting back to us, I was. Never seen such talent in a young witch, though I doubt anyone has if they'd be telling the truth."
"How are you, Tom?" Hermione asked with a pleasant smile. It was stimulating to be back on her own turf and with old friends. She never realized, until now, how much she truly missed her childhood home.
"I'm just dandy, everything's been running smoothly now that You-Know-Who isn't around anymore to darken the day, thanks to you and your friends," Tom said cheerfully. "But how are you, Hermione? Back for the wedding I suppose."
"Actually," Hermione said somewhat hesitantly, "no." She saw the surprise clearly etched on Tom's face and decided that she should elaborate. "I'm here to visit and then I'll be heading back. I doubt I'll go to the wedding…if I'm even invited."
"Of course you'll be invited," Tom cried. "You three are as tight as three pickled pomrant roots in a thornberit bush. Why wouldn't you be invited?"
Hermione shrugged. "Harry and I don't exactly get on that well nowadays."
Tom then preceded to weasel all of the details out of her. She had found out years ago that Tom was actually a very good listener and was tremendous at keeping secrets. He knew most of her deep, dark secrets…of course it sometimes took a couple shots of Firewhiskey to get them out of her.
However, he didn't know the one secret that she had been carrying around with her for years now and, when she told him, his jaw immediately hit the floor in disbelief. Hermione sat there, waiting for him to respond, as his mouth opened and shut repeatedly, obviously trying to work out what he should say.
"Wow," he finally managed to say as he drank his own shot of the powerful amber liquid. "Have you ever told him that, Hermione?"
Hermione sighed and looked down at her hands. "Yes, actually, but I didn't mean to say it." She looked up at him, a look of desperation in her eyes as crystal drops began to spill out. "He was dying, Tom…I didn't mean to say it… It just came out…"
As more and more tears began to stream down her face, the aging bartended wrapped a comforting arm around the witch and hugged her close. "I know, Hermione, I know…"
"Harry," the voice whined from beside of him inside the crowded shop filled with, he thought, everyone and their brother, "what colour do you like? The white, the off white, or the eggshell?"
Harry looked over at his fiancée. "Er…aren't they all the same?"
Immediately, the features on Cho's face darkened as she leaned in and hissed, "No, Harry dear, they are not the same and you had better start showing some interest in planning this wedding. I'm not marrying the most famous man in the wizarding world only to have people talking about him not interested in the wedding."
Harry stifled his groan as he pointed to the off white set of invitations and muttered, "That one."
"Good," Cho said with a smile to the worker that was jovially assisting them, "we'll take the eggshell."
Harry rolled his eyes and shifted from his right leg to his left, impatient with all this wedding stuff. He really didn't even know why he was here when Cho obviously didn't care about his opinion. Everything he had picked so far had not been up to her standards and, therefore, another selection was made.
"Mr. Potter, would you like to look at some silverware while your lovely fiancée is browsing through our plate selections?" the assistant asked politely.
Harry opened his mouth to answer yes, he'd love to actually, but Cho quickly snatched up his arm and stepped closer to him. "No, we'll browse together, thank you. We wouldn't want them to not match, now would we darling."
The way she said 'darling' told Harry that he was not to argue with her and, if he did, he would suffer greatly for it later. So, mutely he nodded and followed them through the large display of gaudy plates they could purchase for the reception.
"Cho," Harry whispered as he put a little distance between them and the assistant, "why can't we just get some plain white plates with gold trim or something like that?"
"Because," she remarked between clenched teeth, "then I wouldn't be happy. This is my wedding, Harry, don't you want me to be happy at my wedding?"
"Well," Harry said slowly, "of course, but…"
"Then you will buy the plates that I want and stop this incessant arguing. Really, Harry, one would think that you were opposed to getting married to me." She narrowed her eyes and her fingernails dug into his arm. "You aren't, are you?"
"Of course not, darling," Harry answered, trying desperately not to grimace as he was sure that she was currently drawing blood.
"Good," she said, loosening her grip a little and Harry let out a relief breath, careful to make it soft so that she wouldn't hear. Ron found it rather amusing that Harry faced down a Dark Lord but he was terrified of, in the words of Ron and most of the Weasley family, the money grubbing witch. "Then let's pick out some plates."
Harry looked over to his right and saw this hideous set and immediately grimaced with disgust. The plate itself was a ugly looking green that could only be described as someone mixing canary yellow paint in puke and smearing it on the plate. Around the plate were designs done in a pasty looking purple that clashed horribly with the green. It was quite revolting actually…
Immediately Cho squealed with delight and Harry turned, expecting to see her running towards a lovely little set. But was she? NO.
As luck would have it (since fate often liked punishing Harry for some unknown reason), Cho was running towards the set that had almost sent Harry into convulsions by merely looking at it. Yes, the green set.
"Oh Harry," Cho cried, clutching the plate to her breasts, "isn't this simply lovely!"
Harry scrunched up his face and looked over at the man assisting them and found he wore a similar expression. Clearly, they thought the same thing of the 'lovely' set. "Er…Cho, dear, won't that colour clash with all the other colours already in the wedding?" he asked gently, hoping not to set her off because then he would have to look at the awful colour while eating.
Cho held the plate away from her and studied it, looking at it carefully as she turned it round and round. "Maybe you're right, Harry, but I do love this plate…" Suddenly her face lit up and Harry inwardly groaned. "I have a fantastic idea!"
Great, Harry thought dryly, I just can't wait to hear it…
"We can purchase these for our house," she said charmingly, sidling up to him and smiling at him sweetly. "And then we can just redecorate the kitchen to match them. Won't it be lovely?"
Harry fought hard, harder than he ever had to with Voldemort, to keep the look of absolute revulsion off his face as she looked up at him. He chanced a glance over at the man and found himself subject to the most pitying glance every bequeathed on a mortal.
"Why don't we wait and talk about it later, eh?" Harry said softly, kissing her lightly on the forehead. "If, after the honeymoon, you still want them, we'll come back."
Cho pouted for a minute and then realized that she would, in the end, get her way so she smiled back, bouncing back over to set the plate back on the display. She then bounded off in search of a plate set.
As Harry passed the assistant, he whispered, "Who in their right mind would make a plate that colour?" All he received was a shrug.