Disclaimer: The author is not directly affiliated with J.K. Rowling or any of the publishers of the Harry Potter series. No money is being made and no copyright infringement is intended.
Author's Notes: I didn't realise there were some Hermione/James fics going around! I didn't read any of them anyway, lest they influence the story I've already thought out. I am hoping this turns out to be unique. And hey, this is a slightly AU fic, just in case you didn't notice, so non-compliance with canon must be expected. But I hope I left enough canon in it to endear this story to your heart, anyway. :) I would also like to thank my wonderful beta, Bobbey (NalanieKeala), who spotted the grammatical errors, identified the inconsistencies and made the story sound more British. Thank you for agreeing to beta for me:)
Chapter Summary: Hermione looks into Harry's face and sees hazel eyes.
Chapter 1: Never the Time and Place
Never the time and place
And the loved one
--- Robert Browning (Never the Time and Place) ---
Wide-set eyes enhanced by mascara stared out at her from the mirror. She smiled, turning at various angles to admire her reflection. The dress fit her like a glove, its cut fashioned to show off her slim shoulders, shapely legs, and a hint of cleavage.
I'm sure they'll like you. Hermione Granger tugged upwards at her dress in an attempt at modesty. It would do good to let Harry see her like this tonight, but he was not the only one she would be meeting. She would finally be introduced to Harry's parents as their son's girlfriend, and she simply had to impress them.
Lily and James Potter. One of the Wizarding world's celebrity couples, the Minister of Magic and his charming wife were so highly looked upon that an event was rendered incomplete without them. James Potter was credited with defeating the most evil wizard of all time, Lord Voldemort, seventeen years ago. He had since risen up the political ladder.
Hermione applied a bit more tint to the apples of her cheeks as her mind conjured up an image of the Potters. Both had undoubtedly been blessed with not just incredible good looks, but youthfulness as well. At thirty-five, they looked almost the same as they had at seventeen—and according to Harry, bickered all the time, but were still very much in love with each other.
She could remember all too well the first time she had met the Potters. It was at the Leaky Cauldron, before her second year started. She was with her Muggle parents when a striking couple seated a few tables away caught her eye. The woman had fiery reddish hair and vivid green eyes, and was with a man with dark messy hair and eyes hidden behind black-rimmed glasses. The sight of them struck a chord somewhere inside her heart. She did not know how, but they looked familiar. Very familiar.
"Hermione? Hermione Granger?"
She spun around at the sound of that voice and broke into a wide, toothy smile.
"Harry!" she called and then realised that more than her voice had called out his name. She glanced in the direction of the extra pair of voices and saw that it came from the couple she'd noticed earlier. The sense of familiarity she had earlier faded into a feeling of stupidity. How could she have not noticed? She locked eyes with the man and was startled by their hazel colour. It was the only physical trait he and Harry did not share.
The teenage boy with the same dark messy hair, but with vivid green eyes instead of hazel, walked over to the Grangers' table. He smiled disarmingly at the three of them before engaging Hermione in conversation. "I see you've been to Flourish and Blotts," he remarked, indicating the Standard Books of Spells, Grade Two that Hermione was holding.
"I see you've been to Gambol and Japes," Hermione retorted, picking a Dr. Filibuster's Fabulous Wet-Start, No-Heat Firework that protruded out of Harry's pockets. She twirled it around her fingers. "Sit down, why don't you?" She turned to her parents, who were obviously waiting for her to say something.
"Mum, Dad, meet Harry. Harry Potter. You know, the youngest player in a century to play for a Quidditch team." Harry's eyebrows rose. "He's in my year and in the same house as mine," Hermione continued, ignoring Harry's expression, "and he is…"
"What about saying I'm your friend?" Harry interjected with an impatient look on his face.
"I was just getting to that," Hermione shot back. "He's one of my two best friends, actually. The other one's Ron." She smiled. "I hope you'll also get to meet him."
"I'm pleased to meet you, Mr. and Mrs. Granger," Harry said courteously. "Why don't you join us at our table so you can meet my parents? I'd like to introduce them to Hermione as well, who is," he said, casting an amused look at his friend, "the smartest student in our year, who always finishes reading the booklist before term starts, who…"
Hermione swatted him on the arm. "Oh, shut up." She stood up, and her parents, both of whom were looking uncomfortable, followed suit. "Where are your parents?"
Harry gave her a surprised look. "You haven't noticed? I mean, given your all-knowing mind and superior powers of observation and…" He stopped when he saw her eyes narrow murderously. "Oh, right. Over there," he indicated with the jerk of his head. Hermione had somehow expected it, but was still surprised when Harry led them to the table occupied by the couple that had caught her attention earlier.
"Running around Diagon Alley again?" the man with hazel eyes greeted, a hint of a smile on his lips. "Been in Gambol and Japes, have you?"
The same hint of a smile appeared on Harry's face. "Yeah, Dad. I ran out of fireworks. And then I went to the Owl Emporium and grabbed boxes of treats for Hedwig." He showed off the shopping bag containing all the items he had purchased.
"Next time do tell us where you're going, okay?" the man said. The woman beside him smirked, and he laughed and turned to look at her. "Now what did that mean?"
The woman's smirk turned into a sweet smile as she regarded her son fondly. "Harry, we're embarrassing your guests." Her eyes settled on Hermione. "You must be Hermione Granger. Harry told us how you helped him out of some scrapes he got into last year." She paused, then remarked, "You're the voice of reason in your trio, then?" Hermione blushed.
"Sometimes," Hermione replied, still blushing. "Thank you for your kind words, Mrs. Potter. My parents," she introduced, gesturing to her mum and dad.
"I'm Lily Potter," the redhead said, shaking each of the Grangers' hands. "Have a seat, please, and join us for lunch," she invited warmly. "Oh, and this is my husband, James. James Potter." The man offered his hand in turn and assured their guests that they would love their company.
"Mum didn't mention it, but Dad is the Minister of Magic," Harry piped in. Hermione's eyes widened. Apparently James noticed, because he laughed out loud. "It's okay, Hermione. You can still call me Mr. Potter. Even 'James' would suffice."
"Another pathetic attempt at humility," Lily remarked, laughing afterwards.
Hermione was still staring at James, her mouth slightly open. "Sir, does this—does this mean—?" She hesitated a moment, then plunged on, "Does this mean that you are the James Potter, the one who conquered the Dark Lord back in 1981?"
James's strong features were suddenly drawn in an uncharacteristically grave expression. He pondered the teenage girl for a moment. "Yes," he answered slowly. "Why did you ask?"
Hermione's face broke into a sunny smile. "Oh, sir, I am simply honoured!" Harry sniggered at her pompous choice of words. "I was so stupid! I read all about you in the history books, even saw pictures of you, but I didn't even connect you being related to Harry! You are a hero!"
"I don't think that was a compliment, eh?" Harry said, blinking confusedly.
James smiled, but the shadows in his eyes lingered. "Thank you, Hermione. I don't think you'll quite understand, but I'll say it anyway. My victory—I call it that for lack of a better term—was not only due to my own skills or wits. I had a lot of help, you know, and some people were not even credited…" Pain flashed across his eyes. "But thank you all the same, Hermione."
An air of gloom followed these words. "Shall we talk of lighter things?" Lily asked gently, intervening.
Hermione looked at her, once again taken by her beauty and wishing she could be like her when she grew up. "Oh, yes, Mrs. Potter. Harry has told me how Mr. Potter—ah—worked very hard to convince you to like him when you were in school."
Lily laughed her clear, musical laugh. "Harry! I can't believe you told her that," she said, still laughing. "Yes, dear, James here had to work very hard. I fought it, you know." She winked. "Unfortunately, I fell prey to his charms." James smiled reminiscently, and Lily laughed again then turned to Hermione's parents. "So you're non-Magical? I came from a non-Magical family too, you know, and…"
Hermione had already tuned her out, reflecting on the idea that it was quite impossible for anybody, male or female, not to end up being charmed by James Potter.
Shaking off her memories, she reached for her bottle of perfume on top of her dresser and lightly misted her body with it. She took one last look at herself in the mirror and smiled, the dimple in her left cheek making another appearance.
Beautiful. Almost as beautiful as Lily Evans.
Harry Potter paced the Gryffindor common room restlessly, his hands in his slacks' pockets. He stole a glance at the ornate clock that hung over the fireplace. She had agreed to meet him at quarter to six, and yet he had not seen so much as the tip of her toe or a strand of her hair. Five more minutes and they would be late for dinner. Harry grinned despite his nervousness. It was amazing how much time a girl could spend staring at herself in the mirror. But it was going to be worth it, he was certain.
He settled himself in an armchair and imagined Hermione wearing the off-the-shoulder, knee-length lavender dress she had purchased in Diagon Alley the day before. He inhaled deeply. Merlin, she was so wonderful, he sometimes had a hard time believing she was his. Not only was she enchantingly beautiful, she also exuded an aura of elegance and self-possession that could only come from being naturally smart. Hermione was everything he ever wanted in a woman he was willing to spend the rest of his life with.
Tonight was going to be extra special because he was finally going to introduce Hermione to his parents. Not as the smartest student in their year, but as the most fantastic woman he had ever met. He had no doubt that they were going to like her, having seen for themselves how she had grown up to be the way she was.
He caught a whiff of vanilla before he heard her soft footsteps. Harry looked up to his right and saw Hermione standing over him. She smiled, the light from the fire glittering in her brown eyes. His own green eyes met hers, transfixed. He would never tire of watching her.
"I'm sorry I took longer than expected," Hermione said, gently breaking the spell. "I misplaced my silver hoop earrings, and I didn't want to wear any other pair, so…" She shrugged, shaking the curls that framed her face. Harry did not know how she had dolled her hair up, but he definitely liked it.
He stood up and slid his right arm around her trim waist. "Are we ready to go, then?" When Hermione nodded, her hair brushed his face, the sensation triggering a flurry of emotions inside him. Straining for control, he brushed the curls behind her left ear and said, "Dad has talked with Professor McGonagall about using the fireplace in her office, and she said it's okay."
"I wish we could just Apparate," Hermione commented as they walked out of the common room. "Floo powder might stain my dress."
Harry kissed her cheek. "You'll still be beautiful."
Hermione glanced at Harry, taking in his long-sleeved wine-coloured polo and dark slacks. His polo was unbuttoned at the collar, emphasizing the clean, athletic cut of his jaw. He looked so much like his father. "You look rather dashing yourself, Harry." She cupped the back of his neck with one manicured hand, tilted her face up, and pressed her lips against his passionately. The kiss grew deeper, and when they both pulled apart, they had to straighten their clothes and hair.
"We probably look like we were caught in a storm," Hermione said, laughing as she wiped the smudges off the corners of her mouth.
"We were," Harry reminded her laughingly as they made their way out of the common room. "It was worth it, though, being naughty just now. After all, we have to be on our best behaviour for the next couple of hours."
Hermione laughed. "You don't sound so excited."
"I am." Harry looked her in the eye, and Hermione knew he was serious. She felt uncomfortable whenever Harry looked at her this way, as though he was rushing her into a lifetime commitment. "But I'm nervous, too."
"Don't be." It was all she could say.
Harry knocked on the door of Professor McGonagall's office before entering. The deputy headmistress looked up from her work when they entered.
"Ah, Mr. Potter and Miss Granger. I've been expecting you. Quick, or you'll be late." She pointed at a brass urn atop the fireplace. "Floo powder is in there."
Harry walked over to the fireplace and lifted the cover of the urn. He blinked.
Professor McGonagall fixed her beady eyes on him. "What is it, Potter?"
"This is Floo powder, is it not?"
"Of course it is, Mr. Potter."
The corners of Professor McGonagall's mouth twitched. "They're doing it in different colours now, Mr. Potter, depending on the quality of the Floo powder manufactured. About time, too, what with all the complaints of too much ash or smoke from the users. That brown one is of a higher quality than normal."
Hermione couldn't resist peering into the urn. "Looks like it too, Professor," she said, taking note of the finer texture of the powder. She turned to Harry. "You go first."
"Right." He took a handful of the powder and threw it into the fireplace. Hermione blinked in surprise at the eruption of light brown flames just as Harry shouted, "Godric's Hollow!"
The fire continued dancing in that lively shade of brown. Hermione was mesmerised. It was like staring into the depths of hazel eyes. She smiled at the thought, took a handful of the powder herself, threw it into the fire and shouted.