Title: What Friends Are For
Description: PostWar fluff between Harry and Hermione. Not beta'd, but okayed by LFG. Oneshot. Rated for some sex.
Disclaimer: I own nothing but the storyline.
Harry knocked again, louder this time. She had to be in. Ron was on the road with the Cannons or he wouldn't interrupt the beauty sleep of his other best friend, but he needed a best friend tonight. Pain shot through his chest again, just as surely as exhilaration had shot through it four hours earlier when he'd knocked on the door of his date for the night.
She was new in his office, tall and lithe and practically glowing with beauty, or so Harry had thought four hours ago when she'd opened her front door. It had actually been what he'd thought when he first met her. She was so new and so pretty. He'd wanted to touch her all the time. He couldn't wait to get to work in the morning.
Looking back he now realized how stupid he'd been. She hadn't really been interested in him. She couldn't have been judging by how quickly she'd left with their boss the office Christmas party. Harry had watched them go home together. Had actually caught her eye just as the elevators had been about to close, trapping her and their boss inside. She'd given him an apologetic smile and a half-shrug and he'd opened his mouth to say…what? What do you say to someone who's on the other side of the room, in an elevator, holding your heart under their foot? A feeble, "Hey," had half-heartedly escaped, but it was too late. The doors had closed and he'd been left. Again.
He needed to talk to someone, share the outrage with someone, so he knocked a third time and thought suddenly to look at his watch. "Bollocks," he whispered as he saw that she would surely be asleep by now and if he woke her up there'd be hell to pay.
Before he could slowly back away and make a run for it, though, her door swung violently open and he saw her in the doorframe, her hair a mess of tangles spilling out of a haphazard braid that wound, he knew, to her waist, face a mix of concern and fury (she clearly couldn't decide which to be – the concerned friend or the pissed-off chick you don't mess with), and her outfit. Harry did a quick double-take here. She was wearing oversized men's pajamas. Two-piece, bottoms that fell to her ankles and were rolled a few times, and the matching long-sleeved button down top. Light blue with thin stripes of cream and brown. She looked like Mr. Brady. But, oddly enough, kind of sexy, too.
Before he could say anything and before she could yell at him for waking her up, he pictured her without the bottoms, the top part just covering her own bottom, her feet bare and exposed, her legs pale and smooth. He could feel them suddenly, or how he suspected they would feel, wrapped tight around his waist. His eyes drifted closed as he savored the ridiculous, unbidden thought. She would kill him if she knew what he was thinking.
They opened again when she lifted her eyebrows at him and said, "Well?" Harry gave his head a little shake and reminded himself that he was sad. Whatsername had just broken his heart.
"Sorry to bother you," he said honestly. "Ron's out of town and I needed a chat." Even as he said it he heard how lame it sounded.
"A chat," she repeated, incredulous. "It's after midnight. I was asleep."
Harry took one step backward. Ron was never this upset when he knocked on his door in the middle of the night, but Ron didn't usually go to bed until well after two.
"You're right," he told her. "I wasn't thinking. I'm sorry I bothered you." He made to turn around and leave but she said, "Wait." He turned back and looked at her. "I'm sorry," she said, anger seeping out of her body. "I had a bad night, too. Come on in."
Harry followed her through the front door and into her living room. "Can I get you a cup of tea?
"No," he said, sinking down onto the couch. At his words, Hermione sank down beside him and said, "So what's up?"
"Victoria left me."
"I'm so sorry," she said, meaning it. "When?"
"Tonight at the Ministry's Christmas party. She physically left me, with my boss. Our boss."
"Bitch," Hermione said under her breath.
"She's not even the main issue, though," he confessed, staring at the coffee table in concentration. "It's a pattern. In the last six months I've been dumped by no fewer that five women and its driving me crazy."
Hermione was not unfamiliar with the phenomenon he spoke of. She'd been observing it since Hogwarts. Harry was a catch not only because of his good looks, but because of who he was: previously The Boy Who Lived and now The Superstar Who'd Saved the World by Killing You-Know-Who. He was an oddity, something special and every girl who'd ever heard of him wanted to be special too.
And he was available. He didn't shut himself away from things. He had a life and a job so it was easy for girls to "bump into" him at the coffee shop he frequented, or come up to him after a staff meeting or God knew what else. The problem, Hermione knew, was that Harry Potter was an actual person with good days and bad days. He wasn't a superstar who was perfect all the time and relationships aren't perfect, either. The girls who dated him realized pretty quickly that dating Harry Potter was exactly like dating anyone else. He left the seat up and he was messy and he didn't always call when he said he would and he spent a lot of time with his friends. Relationships take work and Harry Potter's were no different. Typically, it only took about two months for the girl to realize this and end things.
Harry was looking at her expectantly. What could she say? How could he be so oblivious?
"Okay, look," she began. "These girls who pursue you and then leave you – what do you think is going on?"
"I don't know," he said, impatient. Ron never asked him questions. He just called them slags and told him he was better off. Why did Hermione need to analyze everything?
Hermione tucked her feet under her bottom and Harry again noticed how adorable she looked in these oversized men's pajamas. Suddenly the pain in his chest was back but it had nothing to do with Victoria. He'd just had a horrifying thought: what if these pajamas were a boyfriend's pajamas and she's borrowed them. What if the boyfriend was here, right now? He didn't know which he hated more, Hermione dating someone whose pajamas she wore or the possibility that he might be in the apartment with them.
Hermione put an elbow onto the couch back and rested her temple against a fist, staring at him. He could see the lacy edge of a camisole peeking out from the vee of the pajama top. God, he hated her boyfriend, whoever he was. Hated him with an intensity that startled him.
Harry shook his head, needing to concentrate. She'd asked him a question: why did he think it kept happening. He looked back down at the coffee table trying to think. Why did it keep happening? He couldn't be that bad a boyfriend, could he?
"I really don't know," he repeated, this time in a voice more thoughtful than impatient.
"Can I make an observation?"
"You are Harry Potter." She said these words slowly, as if to emphasize the point.
"There is no 'and'. You're famous, good-looking, a very powerful wizard, and unattached." Harry was blushing. She thought he was good-looking? "Of course women are going to pursue you, and of course your head is going to turn when they do."
She's said this so simply and matter-of-factly that he'd almost missed it. "What? You think my head turns whenever some girl walks by?"
"I've seen it turn. And I've been seeing girls walk by since Hogwarts. Back then you were too into Cho and then Ginny to notice, but don't you remember when What-Her-Face slipped a love potion into a piece of candy and Ron ate it by accident? Since the War you've been pursued by everything in a skirt but you fail to realize that the pursuit is just that. They all want to say that they've dated Harry Potter, been with Harry Potter." Here Harry blushed again, did she really think about these things?
"You have to either learn to recognize genuine interest as opposed to superficial interest, or you have to stop getting emotionally involved until you know that the person isn't just after the thrill of getting Harry Potter."
Harry was silent, taking it all in. Could she be right? Why had Ron never noticed and said all this? Because, he told himself, Ron was Ron and Hermione was Hermione.
"Say you're right," he began. "How does one recognize genuine feelings?"
Here she sat back and ran a hand through her hair, trying to tuck the loose strands back into her braid. "I don't know. 'Proceed with caution' is all I can tell you. Not that it always works. There's always someone out there who's a better actor than you think they are."
At this she dropped her eyes to her lap and rubbed her head again. "You said you had a bad night, too?" he asked, remembering her words at the door.
"Yeah," she said, glum.
"Well, what happened?"
"I've been seeing this guy, Olivier, for about three months and two days ago he broke up with me." He nodded and breathed a secret sigh of relief. This meant there was no one in the apartment and the pajamas couldn't be the rat ex-boyfriend's. "And this afternoon I get a call from some witch who tells me that he just broke up with her, too. Turns out he was playing the both of us and now that he's about to spend some time abroad he's cutting all his loose ends. Prat," she finished savagely, trying not to feel too used and abandoned.
"Merlin's beard, I'm sorry. That's terrible."
Hermione shook her head. It was terrible, but upon reflection she'd realized that she was more upset about being dumped in general as opposed to being dumped by Olivier after being two-timed by him. She felt that she was always, like Harry, getting dumped.
"We're a couple of real winners, huh?" she muttered, sinking further down into the cushions and stretching out her legs onto Harry's lap.
"We are," he agreed rubbing her feet.
"Do you think we'll ever find partners?"
"Anything's possible," he said, feeling a little better. Hermione had reminded him that he was not, in fact, the center of the universe. He hadn't even known about this Olivier character and he'd already removed himself from his best friend's life. Where had he been the last few months?
They sat for a several moments in silence, the lamp flickering orange shadows on the walls.
"Sorry I woke you up," he said, finally breaking the silence.
"I wasn't really asleep," she admitted.
"What were you doing?"
"I'm a little embarrassed to say."
Harry's ears perked up and he squeezed her feet. "Now you have to tell me."
She smiled and pulled her feet back from his hands. "You asked for it. Follow me."
The stood up and Hermione led Harry into her bedroom where the only light was on her bedside table. Harry had been in here lots of times but it had always been in the light of day. It seemed much more intimate in the dead of night. She led him over to the bed where he could see a pile of CDs, muggle music makers, if he remembered correctly.
"He had this thing about muggle artifacts and he collected these things called 'compact discs'. Anyway since I grew up around them I was familiar and he had a few that I used to like so he loaned them to me so I could copy them. He asked me to return them and before I do I'm giving them a good spin."
Hermione picked one up from the bed, opened the cover and put one finger down on the disc before spinning it around in its case. "What does that do?"
"It scratches the hell out of it and makes it unplayable."
"Vindictive," he said with approval.
"Hell hath no fury."
They sat down on the bed and he opened one of the cases and imitated her movements, spinning the disc around. "It's dumb, really, because…I'm not even that mad."
"No. I hate that he dumped me, but I wasn't in love with him."
Harry watched her face carefully and asked, "You weren't?"
"Have you ever been in love?"
Hermione looked up quickly and then down again, blushing scarlet. "Hasn't everyone?"
"Mmm, no," Harry replied thoughtfully. "I don't think everyone has."
"I asked you first."
They were both lying sideways on her bed now, CDs strewn around them, feet and ankles hanging off the opposite side. Hermione shrugged and he could see the lacy camisole again under the pajama top. Heat surged into his stomach. The softness of the lone light on her bedside table cast shadows all around. Hermione's braid had fallen over one shoulder and his fingers itched to touch it. How could he have been so blind for all this time?
Without another thought he lifted one hand and fingered the heavy rope of curls, reaching up as far as it went to the nape of her neck and then following it down to its end of tiny ringlets.
Hermione held her breath and watched both his hand and is face. She could not fathom what this meant, but she also did not want him to stop. "Harry," she whispered.
Instead of answering he tugged on her braid so that she was forced to inch toward him until his mouth touched hers. Tentatively at first, as if he were as shocked as she was to find that this moment mattered more to him Victoria ever had.
She felt him lightly trace her bottom lip with his tongue and discovered that her hand had dug itself into his messy hair. Hermione tried to remember to breathe but it all felt too good. Soon, his innate impatience won him over and with her braid still trapped in one hand the other found the back of her head and he was crushing her lips.
With a strangled noise at the back of her throat Hermione opened her mouth and slipped a hand under his t-shirt. Harry gasped at her touch and kissed her more fiercely than ever. She felt his fingers leave her hair and move downward. The rush of cool air soon told her that he'd made short work of the buttons of her pajama top.
Her white camisole was edged with lace and he could just see the shape and contours of her breasts with their dusky nipples through the thin material. Again without thinking he dropped his head and suckled on one through the camisole. Hermione gasped and squirmed under him. When he had shifted them so that she lay under him, she could not have said. It felt too good to think. She didn't want to think ever again, she just wanted to continue this forever. His mouth moved to the other breast now, and he suckled again through the material of the camisole, his fingers pinching the first one, the wet fabric adding to the friction.
"Oh, gods," Hermione whimpered. She tried to wriggle out of her pajama bottoms, CDs dropping from the bed loudly. She didn't care. All she cared about was getting her clothes off. If only he'd shift…just a little…and she could…. Harry lifted his head suddenly and looked down at her. Her hands were inside the waistband of her bottoms, struggling to get them off. Her camisole had two wet patches over her breasts effectively rendering it see-through. Her nipples were hard like pebbles pressing against the wet fabric. All he wanted to do was finish undressing her, pull off his own jeans and finish it.
Hermione looked up at him and licked her lips. It was all he needed for his instincts to kick in again. He reached down and pulled her bottoms off, dropping them over the bed to join the fallen music makers, so that she was left in her camisole and matching white bikini panties. If it were possible, Harry thought he felt himself get even harder. As if reading his thoughts, Hermione's fingers flew to his jeans where they made short work of the button and zipper. His boxer shorts were covered with broomsticks, but she barely noticed. They soon joined the rest of their clothes on the floor, along with his t-shirt and her panties and camisole.
When he entered her Hermione cried out in shock. It was as she had always imagined it would be. He filled her completely, pressing down against all the right spots. When he started to move she wrapped her legs tight around him and rocked with him in time. Before she could prepare for it, stars were exploding behind her eyes and she was crying out. Harry soon followed her, burying his face in her neck and struggling to hold on, but it was too late. He gave into it and allowed himself to be carried away.
When their breathing had returned to normal and Harry had loosened his grip on her body, he blushed again and said, "Just for the record, I usually last longer than sixty seconds."
Hermione chuckled, her eyes still closed. "I look forward to the day when you prove that to me."
Somehow her braid had fallen apart and she lay naked in his arms, her dark curls spread out around them. He kissed her lips and said, "It might not be as far into the future as you think." She smiled and snuggled in closer to him. "I can't wait."