A/N: Lately my mind's been going nuts to write HHr fics, so here's another one. It's pure fluff. You have been warned. This one (for a change) won't start out as a one-shot that I'll later add to. :P I'm planning to continue it. (By the way, if the plot seems familiar, it's because it's been done a thousand times. ;) I just wanted to write my own version.) It annoys me when people threaten not to continue their stories if they don't get reviews, so don't feel pressured to write them. If you want to, of course, they're always very welcome. Also, I don't believe in prolonged introductions. We've all read the HP books. We know the deal by now. I prefer to jump right in. So without further ado, enjoy.
Full Summary: A twenty-one-year-old Harry is woken up at one in the morning by a phone call from a frustrated Hermione, saying her great aunt just died. The good news: her eccentric (and considerably well-off) aunt left Hermione a huge chunk of her fortune in her will. The bad news: Hermione can only inherit it if she has found, quote, "a nice young man to share it with". The worse news: Hermione has to have found said nice young man by the date set in the will, which is less than a month from her aunt's death—the week of Hermione's cousin Angela's wedding.
Harry jerked awake, one of his eyelids sticking to the bottom lid for a second before opening fully. Looking around groggily, half-risen to a sitting position, he squinted at the clock. It read 1:07am, the red glowing numbers bright in contrast to the darkness of the room.
He jumped slightly. The phone was unnaturally loud. He'd been having a good dream, too. Something about the Muggle sport of waterskiing. Rubbing his eyes and shaking his bangs out of his face—he was overdue for a haircut—he groped for his glasses on the bedside table. He sat up properly as he lifted the receiver before it could ring a third time, and stifled a yawn. "Hello?"
"Hi, Harry, sorry to call you so late," said the female voice on the other end. Immediately Harry sat up straighter, a little more awake. Why would Hermione be calling him at one in the morning unless it was some sort of emergency? "I just—I don't know why I'm calling, really," she said, sounding awkward and embarrassed as if she'd done it on impulse and felt silly now. Harry relaxed. It couldn't be that important, though Hermione feeling awkward was a new concept. He leaned back into the pillows and let his head fall back with a thunk against the headboard. "My great aunt died this morning," she was saying now.
"Oh. I'm sorry," Harry said, meaning it but feeling slightly cranky that she'd called him now just to say that. "Were you close to her?"
"Yeah, actually. I was her favourite of all the grandchildren, but don't tell any of my cousins I said that." Harry chuckled. "I grew up without a grandmother—they both died before I was born—and she kind of substituted. She was a bit eccentric, and my favourite relative when I was little. I grew apart from my family considerably after we found out I was a witch, you know, but she and I always stayed close." Harry nodded along silently, listening. His mind was only half on the conversation. He wanted to go back to sleep. She knew he hated being woken up before he had to. But he supposed that if Hermione needed to vent about her dead aunt, he was a better choice than Ron, who probably would have hung up after she'd told him she didn't know why she was calling, and been snoring a minute later.
The three of them had remained firm friends after Hogwarts and that hellish year searching for the Horcruxes. After the culminating battle between the Death Eaters, the Order and the Ministry, Harry had had the same mixed publicity that he'd had all his wizarding life. He was the Boy-Who-Conquered one day, and a desperate attention-seeking teenager the next. Fortunately for his sanity, it had died down a little after various Order members paid private visits to magazine and newspaper publishers. He found he wasn't able to make many friends even once the fervor had dissipated. Everyone seemed to be interested only in his 'fame and fortune'—a laughable notion in his mind—or just wanted to hear how he'd defeated Voldemort. Either way, it didn't bother him anymore. Harry had bought a flat in London and settled down with a comfortable job in Diagon Alley, managing Fred and George's shop. They paid him good money, he gave them good publicity, and it gave them time to invent, so it was a good deal all around. If anyone thought that he was putting his talents to waste, no one said anything. He liked his job.
"What? Sorry," he said, blinking rapidly. He'd begun to doze. "What were you saying?"
He heard Hermione sigh. "Typical man," she grumped. He felt bad, but she spoke before he could apologize. "I said, they found her will in a drawer in her bedroom this afternoon, and she left me a...a considerable amount of money."
"Enough," she said, and he knew she was blushing at her end of the line. He grinned. She deserved a break. Healer work was demanding, and it didn't pay as well as it once did. One trip to Gringotts with her Muggle inheritance and she'd be set. She could redo her flat like she'd been meaning to do for the past two years. Harry was surprised to find himself thinking even about her maddening house-elf lobby group—she could fund that better now, too.
"That's terrific," he replied, edging his bottom closer to the headboard so he could sit up straighter. "I mean, I'm sorry that she died, but that's not a bad consolation, is it?"
Hermione laughed. "You could call it that." Harry got the feeling she wasn't telling him something, and a moment later she proved him right. "See...she left a certain...condition...to the inheritance."
"Uh oh is right."
"Dare I ask?" he grinned into the dark, looking at the ceiling and tugging absentmindedly on the phone cord.
"You don't want to know," she moaned, half-laughing. She picked up a glass and took a sip of water or whatever drink it was. It made him thirsty too. "I guess I have to tell you now. She said—oh, where is it...I have the will with me, since I was the primary person named in it." He heard her rummaging through papers in the background and waited patiently. "Hang on...here it is. First it says how much goes to me, which you don't need to know, and then afterwards it says this, listen: 'I am very fond of my dear Hermione, and I wish her the best in all her endeavors. However, I have noticed that she has not yet found happiness. I wish to create an incentive for her, and as I do not have much time left, therefore must resort to bribery. Please ensure that Hermione inherits the aforementioned measure of my fortune on the condition that she has found a nice young man to share it with. And as further incentive, the date after which she will lose her inheritance shall be the weekend of my granddaughter Angela's wedding, which I regrettably predict I will not live to attend. If Hermione has not found her happiness by then, please distribute her money among the other five grandchildren of the family. I will leave it up to her mother to divide it evenly.'"
Harry was speechless by this point. Eccentric? The old lady had been out of her mind!
"It goes on for a while, but that's the gist of it," Hermione sighed. "It's not clear about exactly what I have to do. Get married, or just have a boyfriend, or whatever. She even named the person who's supposed to evaluate me on the wedding weekend—her son, my uncle Mark. I'm not really that close to him. She probably did that on purpose."
"That's ridiculous!" Harry exclaimed. "She can't really do that, can she?"
"She can do whatever she wants. The lawyers had a good laugh at me, I can tell you," she said dryly. "One of them even wanted to arrange to come to the wedding to get Mark's opinion, and probably so that he can laugh some more at me. I hate lawyers," she grumbled. Harry laughed despite his opinion of her great aunt's decision.
"What're you going to do?"
"I have no idea," she said, and made a little whining noise. "I can't just pick up any bloke off the street."
"Wait, you're actually going to try and get the inheritance?" Harry sat up even straighter, if that was possible. "You haven't dated since Ron! Everyone knows that."
"Yeah, I know. I thought about just taking him along, but it might get...awkward," she said delicately. He knew what she meant. Their breakup hadn't been the prettiest he'd ever seen, and it had taken months of intermediation on Harry's part to get them to relax back into the easy friendship of their youth. Even now, two years later, they didn't bring it up. Ron wasn't one known to forgive and forget. "Anyway, I'm debating whether or not to even tell him. He might offer to come to the wedding, and we both know how that would go. It's not that I wouldn't like him to," she said hurriedly. "I just..."
"No, I understand," Harry assured her. "I even agree. He'd get all sullen."
"I mean I love him to death and all, but..."
Harry nodded, absently forgetting that she couldn't see him. Suddenly he was overcome by a bone-cracking yawn, and he remembered that it was—he glanced at the clock—one thirty in the morning. He sighed. He wouldn't be able to get back to sleep for a while now, he knew. He was too wide awake. Oh well, he mentally shrugged. "Hang on a minute, I'm switching to the kitchen phone." He swung his legs over the side of the bed and winced at the coldness of the floor against his feet. His eyes were adjusted to the dark by now, so he didn't turn on the light as he walked into the kitchen and unhooked the phone, laying it on the counter. He went back to hang up the bedroom one and then came back, grabbing a tomato from the fridge as he passed it. "Still there?" he asked into the phone, cradling it between his ear and his shoulder as he picked the stem off the tomato.
"No, I went to a Quidditch game."
"Who won?" he joked, and bit into the bright red skin.
"Ireland," she chuckled, then paused. "Are you eating something?"
"A tomato, actually," he said around a mouthful.
"You have the strangest eating habits."
Harry shrugged. "It's healthy. Vegetables are good for you."
"Tomatoes are actually fruit, you know. Seeds on the inside. It's a common misconception."
"Don't tell me—you read it ages ago in Hogwarts: A History."
They both laughed. Harry leaned back in his chair, smiling contentedly. He thoroughly enjoyed the banter they frequently engaged in. Most often it was just stupid things they talked about; whatever came to mind. He had to admit that he was closer to Hermione than to Ron, especially these days. The three of them had always been close, but after the awkwardness at the end of Ron and Hermione's relationship things had never been quite the same. Ron had made other friends while Hermione had found solace in Harry. Harry rarely socialized with people he hadn't known almost all his life—the Weasleys, Hermione's family occasionally, the odd old schoolmate—and Hermione had never been an overly outgoing person. For a while, it had looked like Ron was going to go his own separate way. Harry had gradually won their friend back, and the trio had gotten close again, but over the past two years there seemed to be a growing distance between Ron and the other two. Usually Harry tried to ignore it. He wasn't much fond of change.
"So," he said after having let the comfortable silence drag on a while as he ate his tomato. "Want me to come with you to the wedding?"
"Really? You would?"
"Sure. Shouldn't be too hard. I'll just put my arm around you and call you 'dear' and you'll be golden. How's that sound?"
"Harry, you're a lifesaver, I mean it. I wasn't going to ask you. I didn't want to be presumptuous."
He laughed good-naturedly. "Nah. I'd be honored to accompany you, dear. It'll be fun. So where is it?"
"Oh—that's the other thing. I didn't want to mention it—I hope you can take a few days off work. It's sort of a week-long deal. Angela's husband is originally from Cuba, and he wanted to have the wedding back home, so...they're having it there. It's a no-present thing—everybody's present gets to be coming to the wedding, so you don't need to worry about that."
"It's in Cuba?"
"Yeah," she said, and he imagined she was biting her lip. "I know it's a long trip, and the hotel will be expensive too; I figure, if I bring you and get the inheritance, I can pay off the debt I'll be in from going to the wedding. I can't pay for you right now, but I'll probably be able to reimburse you later."
"Are you kidding? I'm sold!" Harry laughed, getting up and turning on the kitchen light. He blinked rapidly, eyes hurting from the sudden change, and squinted at the calendar hanging on the side of the fridge. "You had me at 'a week in Cuba'. Please tell me it's on Varadero."
"Yeah," she said, sounding guilty. "It's so expensive—"
"And should be, for the best beaches in the world," he reasoned. He had the money to spend. He could even help pay for Hermione if she would let him; of course she'd never ask. She had too much pride. He grinned. He'd never ask either, though he'd never need to. "When is it?"
"The week of the thirtieth. End of the month. People are flying down on either the Sunday night or sometime on Monday, and the wedding's on Friday, so we'll all probably leave Saturday afternoon."
Harry nodded in affirmation. He could definitely take the five days off. Fred and George might even count it as a vacation, and give him half-pay for the week. "Sounds good to me. I'll talk to the twins tomorrow about it."
"Harry, thank you so much for doing this. It really means a lot."
"Please—the pleasure's mine. Really," he laughed, and looked at the clock again. It was two now. He had to get up at seven the next morning. "Well, I hate to cut short plans for this little adventure, but I seriously have to get to bed. I'm up in five hours."
"Okay. God, is it two already? I should get to sleep too," Hermione laughed. "I think we should get together for dinner so I can give you some insider hints about my extended family."
"Great. How's tomorrow after work sound? I can come by around seven."
"Brilliant. Thanks so much again, Harry!"
He chuckled. "I'd say you owe me one, but I get a vacation in the deal, so we're even."
"Heh. Well, see you tomorrow. Goodnight."
"Night," he said, and hung up. He turned off the light and bumped into the door frame on the way back into his bedroom, then fell into bed and dreamed of white sand and turquoise water.