JKR owns.

Perfect Timing- Part I

[AN] The characters might appear ooc, but I'm aware of this. Please no flames complaining that the characters "so wouldn't do that"… With that said, this story is pretty different from my others, but I hope it works none the less.

Please enjoy!

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Hermione had no idea what she was doing.

Well, she was walking. But she didn't know where.

Honestly, tonight had been one of the most pivotal night's of her life. She just hadn't recognized it as so yet.

She didn't know what to feel, hence, she didn't know where to go.

One thing was for sure; she knew she didn't want to be anywhere near where a Weasley could get their hands on her. Any one of them was probably about ready to wring her throat for what she had done.

Tonight, she had turned her back on the past year of her life. That's probably putting it a little harshly, but oh well. It was true.

For over fifteen months she had kept herself in a relationship that she shouldn't have ever bothered with. Okay, okay- that was putting it cruelly as well.

Of course, she was curious about being with him. They had been best mates since they were eleven, so obviously there was some attraction. But she should have figured, nothing about them would have really changed. Their tempers were subdued for a while, but once the relationship became nothing new, it was back to their same old same old.

It got even worse when their best friend's relationship disintegrated and hurt someone they loved in the process. And even worsened more when the third addition to their trio left.

And even though she was hurt beyond words by his departure, she still stayed with her 'boyfriend'. She figured it was because she didn't have anyone else to go to, or if anyone was going to understand what she was going through, then maybe it'd be him.

Alas, months of commitment and arguments all turned out to be for nothing. She just didn't want to live that life anymore. She couldn't take the fighting anymore; something she'd always thought she'd be immune to. But enough was enough.

If she was destined to be by herself for the rest of her life, then fine. But she wouldn't keep herself involved when she couldn't delve deep and admit any love for him. She couldn't do it with Ron anymore.

Probably blowing up at him at the twins birthday party wasn't the best idea, but if she didn't do it then, after all the mundane comments he had made, then she wasn't sure if she ever would.

Hermione was jolted out of her reverie as a clap of thunder cracked overhead. Glancing towards the darkened skies, drops of rain started falling from the clouds and splattering against her face.

"Perfect," she muttered desolately. She looked around the street she had been walking on, searching for maybe an alley she could sneak down to apparate home.

She did catch one towards the end of the street but paused mid-step. Ron might've gone straight to her flat after she'd left Fred and George's. She definitely didn't want to see him again tonight, knowing that her vocal cords were already scratched up from the screaming match they'd had.

Deciding, that she'd better give it a while, she continued searching around the street. The objective was to get out of the drizzling, almost pouring, rain. Hermione bit the corner of her lip when her eyes landed on the lighted building across the street from her.

The pink lighted sign flickered enough for Hermione to read its title: The Loose Moose. Hermione didn't try to cover her scowl.

Drinking late night at old, dreary, rundown pubs wasn't something she was used to, but hey, if she was going to really commit to turning over a new leaf, then she'd have to start trying new things. Plus, the rain was getting worse.

Checking both ways before crossing, she quickly scurried across the street, holding her clutch over her head to avoid seeing her hair turn into a complete frizzy mess.

She entered the pub hurriedly before trying to shake the excess water off her. Looking up, she found the room to be pretty empty. An old bloke was talking to the bartender at the far left corner of the bar, and then there was a smoke hazed booth at the opposite side of the room, with a few bulky, beanie wearing men gathered around it playing cards and drinking ale.

Hermione bit her lip, suddenly unsure about her spontaneous streak.

"You lost or something missy?"

Hermione jerked her head towards the greasy voice of the bartender, drying off a glass mug and giving her an ogling look.

"Um, I-" Hermione started, shrinking away at the attention, "Er, it's raining outside."

"Well if you want to stay here, then your going to have to put some money down."

Hermione gave him a confused look, "Um, sorry?"

"You'll have to purchase something. This isn't a bloody homeless shelter…" the man grumbled, slinging the towel over his shoulder.

An eyebrow raised on Hermione's forehead, slightly affronted that the bartender would think she was homeless. She glanced down to the short black dress she had worn to the twins party and the little mini jacket she had on to cover her bare shoulders. She knew she shouldn't have worn the bloody get-up.

Even though she felt uncomfortable, the rain outside hadn't let up. She looked back towards the man a bit timidly, "I'll take a water."

"Water?" the harsh voice asked charily.

Hermione gripped her clutch more tightly, "Um, do you have white wine?"

"No," came back the gritty reply.

"Fine. Cranberry and vodka?" she asked more brusquely.

With what seemed to be a smirk, the man nodded at the bar sitting in front of him, "Take a seat."

Hermione followed his instructions and approached the bar. It was quite obvious that she was out of her element as she sat down and made a face at the open tray of peanuts offered on the countertop.

"Here you go," said the oily voice, setting a cup full of reddish-pink liquid down in front of her.

"Er, thanks. Keep them coming, I guess."

The man raised an eyebrow at her, and the chortled indiscreetly before walking back towards the older gentlemen he had previously been conversing with.

Hermione sighed, and saddled her drink up in front of her. Her face scrunched up as she swallowed the liquid, but quickly shook it off before anyone would notice.

The sound of the pub door opening was like music to her ears, and she glanced over eagerly to see who the new attendee was. Hopefully it wasn't someone equally as intimidating as the rest of the men in the joint.

Hermione's eyes narrowed as a tall bloke came in, with his head down, and shaking himself off in a similar fashion that Hermione had. He was starting to pet down his wild hair when he finally looked up. To say that Hermione's jaw hit the floor was an understatement.

The man was just starting to approach the bar, unaware at her obvious stares, when Hermione finally found her voice.

"Harry?"

The bloke froze, and moved his lens covered eyes up to Hermione's form.

"Harry? Is that really you?"

The raven haired man raked a hand through his hair, and kept it there, while still staring wide eyed at Hermione. A second passed before he turned around, like he was going to walk right back out into the pouring rain. Hermione's heart jolted, and then calmed back down as Harry turned back again to give her an incredulous look.

"Hermione?" he asked, his hand still on top of his head.

Hermione marveled at the way his voice sounded as she slid off the bar stool and took a step closer to him, "Yeah, it's me."

"Holy shit," Harry mumbled, taking her in completely.

"Oh my god- what are you doing here?" Hermione asked bluntly, too in shock from seeing him to actually consider any manners.

Harry shrugged, "I- I came for a drink…"

"I mean back in London, Harry."

"Oh, uh," he said, shoving his hands in his jeans pockets, "I-I'm back. From my trip."

"You're back? Since when?" Hermione asked, taking another step closer.

"Just today, actually."

Hermione was at a lost for words. Harry was back. Her best friend, the boy she had dedicated much of her teenage life to trying to help, was back from his self imposed exile. Holy shit, described the situation pretty perfectly.

"Where the hell have you been Harry?"

"I went on a trip," he answered, like that explained it all. "Didn't you get the letter I sent you?"

"I got a letter a year ago that said you were going to travel for a bit. It never said where you were going, or if you'd be okay, or that you would be gone for an entire year." Hermione's face was starting to flush slightly, staring into Harry's docile eyes.

"Oh," he replied as meekly as he felt, "I didn't think you'd be worried."

To that, Hermione could only shake her head in disbelief. She took the final last steps towards him and threw her arms around his neck in a tight hug.

It took him a few seconds to get past the bizarreness of this dreamlike encounter. As Harry hugged her back just as closely, he firmly told himself that this was just an uncanny coincidence- not fate, or destiny, or anything like that coming together.

"Look at you," Hermione said as she pulled away, her hands still on his shoulders, and looked him up and down. "You look great, Harry."

"Thanks. You- you look," Harry was thankful that his breath caught in his throat as he again took an observing look at the woman he had known since age eleven. Words could definitely describe how amazing she looked, but he couldn't voice them because he was positive that he'd be humiliated. So he went with the obvious and undeniable, "You look like you're in a dress."

"Oh, yeah," she mumbled, glancing down at herself, "It was Fred and George's birthday party."

"Fred and George's? Is R-"

"No, I'm here alone," Hermione told him a bit assertively.

Harry gave her a weird look, but let it go, "So, you're just here by yourself?"

"Mm-hmm," she nodded, with a hint of pride.

Harry glanced around the pub warily, before turning back to Hermione, "Why?"

"It was raining out while I was walking home, and I felt like a drink," she answered him, this new rebellious side of her not going anywhere.

Harry didn't relent with the weird look on his face, "Since when do you drink?"

"It's a new hobby I'm looking into."

Harry snorted, "Um, okay. That's… cool…"

Hermione bit her lip, "Er, yeah." This was so unnerving. She wasn't used to being awkward with Harry.

"So, so how have you-"

"Oi! Buy something or show yourself out!"

Hermione turned and sent the rude bartender a much deserved glare. When she finally looked back to Harry, he gave her a half shrug.

"Buy you a drink?"

"Okay," she agreed, leading the way towards her bar seat.

"Or not," he commented, eyeing her full glass, "You been here long?"

"No, only a few minutes," she told him, pulling the drink towards her again.

Harry raised an eyebrow as the fuchsia liquid started disappearing through her straw rather quickly, "Alright…" He looked up to find the bartender scowling at him. Harry briefly wondered what the hell this bloke's problem was, but then remembered they were in a place called the Loose Moose.

"Can I get a beer?"

The bartender sauntered forward, and pulled a dark bottle from underneath the countertop. He slammed it down in front of Harry and uncapped it for him.

"Gee thanks," Harry sneered as he walked off. He took a swig before turning back to Hermione, "So, why are you picking up alcoholism as a hobby?"

She let up from sucking on her straw, "Not alcoholism, just chain drinking. And it's a long story."

Harry raised an eyebrow. Was their really a difference between the two? "Oh."

"So… how have you been?" Hermione asked almost timidly. She wasn't exactly sure if she wanted to know the details of Harry's year long expedition. According to Ginny, he left for a reason, and that reason always made Hermione uncomfortable thinking about.

Harry simply shrugged and took another drink, "Good."

"Really?" Hermione asked, suddenly disappointed that he didn't feel up to sharing. "What have you been doing?"

"Just, you know… stuff…" he answered dully, tapping his finger against the beer bottle.

"How very compelling," Hermione drolled with a raised eyebrow.

Harry cracked a smile, "I guess so."

Hermione smiled with him and finished off her drink. "Where did you go?"

Again, Harry shrugged like an idiot, "I don't know, a bunch of places." Hermione couldn't tell if he was just not comfortable telling her, or if his trip was really as unenthusiastic as he made it sound.

"Like where, Harry?" Hermione prodded.

"Like Spain, Italy, and Greece," he answered back gruffly.

"Wow. Did you have fun?"

"Yeah, it was fun I guess," he told her more earnestly.

Hermione nodded. She new what she really wanted to ask, but also felt like she'd need another drink to get her through it. She flagged down the grisly bartender and asked for another.

Obviously irritated by the disturbance, he still obliged and quickly mixed her another drink. Once he slammed it down in front of her, she took a few gulps for courage.

"Who- who did you go with?"

Harry, who had been staring at her out of the corner of his eye, answered after a second of thought, "I was by myself."

"For the whole time?" she questioned curiously, "Didn't you get lonely?"

Harry shook his head and finished off his beer, "Not really."

Hermione figured that could be true, but still pressed further, "Did you at least meet some people?"

"I sure did," Harry answered apathetically.

"Did you miss home at all?" Hermione asked, timidly playing with her straw.

Harry didn't answer immediately this time, but instead turned to stare at her. He shrugged after what seemed like hours, "I-I don't really have a home. That's part of why I left."

"Did you miss us?" she ventured, "That's what I really meant." Hermione felt seriously insecure about her question. What if he said no? How the hell would she cope with that, when she had thought about him practically every single day since he left?

Harry shrugged again, thinking hard on his answer, "I-I missed you I guess."

"You guess?" she asked smiling.

Harry shifted tensely, "Yeah. So what about you?" He needed another drink, and definitely needed to change the mood of the conversation. They were heading into dark waters, and fast. He nodded for the bartender to get him another while Hermione looked away, biting her lip.

Once the man sat a new beer in front of Harry, he turned to look at her expectantly.

She, too, shifted, "Uh, what about me?"

Harry took a drink, "Anything new or exciting in the life of Hermione Granger- it's still Granger right?" he asked, jerking his head suddenly towards her when the unimaginable thought crossed his mind.

"Yes!" Hermione rectified quickly, "Oh Merlin, yes…"

Harry let out a laugh at her abrupt answer, "So?"

Hermione sighed, and took another drink, not even bothering with the straw. Still sucking on an ice cube, she sent him a wary look, "How much time do you have?"

Harry grinned, "A lot. Should I order us another round?"

"That's probably a good idea."

Harry smirked and then signaled for the bartender to deliver another round.

"So what's going on?" Harry asked as the man mixed Hermione's drink.

"Well, it's been a pretty boring year up until today. I wasn't expecting for tonight to happen but… I don't know, I guess I just snapped."

Harry was definitely confused at her rambling, but let her continue, "You can probably guess I'm talking about Ron. Nothing changed since you left- our relationship has only been getting worse and worse, and finally I just let him have it. My timing's pretty shitty, but I couldn't take it anymore…"

"Take what exactly?" Harry asked, trying to calm down his blazing intrigue.

Hermione shrugged halfheartedly, "I don't know- everything. The fighting, the showing off, the incompatibility, the disrespect, the selfishness… him…"

Harry's eyebrows furrowed. All of her complaining was starting to piece together, "Wait, did you break up with Ron tonight, Hermione?"

Hermione took a drink that rendered her new glass half empty, "Yup."

Harry had to look away for a moment so he didn't have to face Hermione with his shocked expression. When he turned back, he grabbed for his beer, "Holy shit."

Hermione nodded, "Yup."

"I never thought you would do such a thing," he muttered, still astonished.

She narrowed her eyes at him, "What's that supposed to mean?"

Harry shrugged, "I just never thought you would."

"Yeah well, I did," Hermione scoffed at herself, "At his brothers' birthday party no less. Oh, but the stupid shit he was saying! God, you would've wanted to kill him too!"

Harry cocked his head to the side, slightly amused, "You wanted to kill him? What exactly happened?"

By the look on his face, Hermione could tell he was genuinely interested to hear from her. He wanted her to vent. She sighed; that's what made Harry such an amazing friend. He was always so supportive…

So she told him. Everything. Even about the mendacious stories Ron had been spreading to his mates behind her back about their wild sex life, and how he had took her virginity back in Hogwarts. She confessed all of her ex's childish antics and self-centered generosities. A lot of it wasn't news to Harry, especially hearing that Ron still loved to swank Hermione around when people were looking. Honestly, he had thought that Ron would have quit showing off Hermione as his conquest once Harry left, but clearly he was wrong.

Together, the two of them went through another three sets of drinks as Hermione relayed the story to him. Her tongue became looser the more she drank, and it was obvious by the way she was divulging more and more details to Harry.

And Harry had to admit, he too was gradually becoming more and more relaxed with Hermione. After so many years of she being the only one he could really trust, it was easy to slip back into old, comfortable ways with her. Plus, Hermione obviously needed someone she could really talk to. Harry took pride in knowing that that person was him.

"And he's so bloody pushy when it comes to sex!" Hermione exclaimed.

Harry suddenly got serious, "He hasn't forced you into anything has he?"

"No, no…" Hermione shook her head, finding that it only made the spinning sensation she was feeling seem worse, "but I can tell it makes him mad."

Harry reached forward for her hand, "He has no right to get mad. If you're not ready, you're not ready."

Hermione shook her head in a fluster, but didn't move her hand from Harry's, "That's just it! I do think I'm ready… I'm 20, I know I'm ready."

"Then why haven't you done it with him?" Harry asked her hesitantly.

Hermione turned back to her drink and was quiet. Several moments passed before she shrugged and started off in a more subdued tone, "It just never feels right. Like, I don't know… I want it to be romantic, you know? He just wants to get it over with."

"Maybe you should wait and do it with someone you really love," Harry suggested, staring at their conjoined hands.

"Yeah…" Hermione agreed. Her mind was scrambled with emotion over talking about her 'love life' with Harry, of all people. Wasn't it him that she used to fantasize loosing her virginity to? Now here she was admitting that she was a horny, boyfriend-less, 20 year old virgin. Boy, she needed another drink.

"Easy tiger, I'd hate to have to carry you out of here," Harry teased, watching her knock her seventh drink back.

Hermione sent him a glare and he shrugged cheekily, "Actually I wouldn't mind…"

Hermione elbowed him in the ribs, looking away as she did so, so that he wouldn't see the grin etching on her face. Harry hunched over and chuckled at the blow. Obviously, she must have caused him some tremendous pain.

Hermione glanced over to his smiling face. She hadn't seen that smile in a long time, and found herself wondering when the last time actually was. Suddenly, a thought crossed her mind and she opened her mouth to speak,

"Do you regret- never mind."

Harry squeezed her hand and gave her a curious look, "What?"

She bit her lip hesitantly. They'd had such a great night so far and she didn't want to upset him. But what the hell, she'd wanted to know for a year now, "Do you regret cheating on Ginny?"

The look on Harry's face was priceless, and not in a good way. His expression turned from shock, to incredulous, and then transformed into fury. He tore his hand away from her grip.

"I never cheated on Ginny," he said through clenched teeth.

Hermione quickly nodded and held her hands up in a mock surrender, "Okay, okay, sorry."

Harry banged his fist on the table and looked away, "I can't fucking believe she told everyone that. No wonder the Weasley's were all so angry at me for breaking up with her; they thought I was shagging someone behind her back…"

Carefully, Hermione reached forward and placed her hand over Harry's fist, "She said that you left her for someone else."

Harry rolled his eyes, "Maybe I just didn't want to marry her. Did anyone ever think about that?"

"I did," Hermione admitted after a few seconds.

Harry snorted after taking a drink from her vodka instead of his beer, "Of course you did. But you never tried to tell anyone did you?"

"I told Ron one night, but he got really mad, so I decided to drop it."

"Sorry I gave you two another reason to fight," he said with a smirk, telling Hermione that he wasn't very sorry at all.

She gave his grinning face an icy look, "Very funny."

"You know, I thought you two were bloody crazy when you started up. You guys were always at each others throats."

Hermione bit her lip and shrugged, "I guess that was part of the appeal."

Harry gave her a mocking look, "So, what turns you on is someone you can fight with?"

"No you wanker," Hermione sneered, "Obviously it doesn't turn me on, since I just broke up with such a bloke."

Harry let out a laugh, "What turns you on then?"

Hermione turned and gave Harry a harrowing, cockeyed look. She wasn't exactly disturbed by the question, she just didn't expect him to be interested in that. She half expected for him to bust out laughing, but was surprised when he finished off his current beer and then turned to her expectantly.

"Fine," she started to herself. She took a deep breath, "Someone that's good looking, but not arrogant about it. That would definitely be nice. Someone that's intelligent, but fun to be around, too. Someone that I can talk to, and not have to hold things back… someone who I can completely be myself around."

It took a few moments before Harry acknowledged what she had said. He gave her a vexing look, and sent her a sly grin.

"You just described me."

Hermione's eyes nearly popped out of her skull. "No I didn't," she quickly flustered.

Harry gave her an annoying, knee-buckling smile. She knew that couldn't have meant anything good, and prepared herself for the telling she was about to get.

He started with one finger, "You've known me forever, so obviously you're comfortable talking about anything with me. Two," he said raising another finger. Hermione took a drink, knowing that if he was working the fingers that he'd be making some frustratingly good points.

Harry continued, "We do have fun together. Three, I'm smart. Four, I'm dead sexy and you know it."

"I- you- I… pshh…"

Harry laughed at her blushing face, "Exactly."

"Well that all may be true, but it's only because you're my best friend," Hermione said rather convincingly.

Harry, however, wasn't so persuaded, "So the reason we became mates is because I'm so hot?"

"No!" Hermione exclaimed, "I'm not that shallow, unlike you."

Harry laughed at her remark, "You're calling me shallow?"

Hermione took a steadying breathe and gave Harry a hard stare, "Yes."

"Well Miss Smarty-pants," he said lowly, pulling her hand and also leaning in, "let me tell you something you may not know: the first thing that pulls you into a person is your sexual appetite for them. If you find them sexually appealing, then you're inclined to go talk to them. That's not just men, that's all humans."

Hermione blinked. His eyes were sparkling or something… they were gorgeous. She cleared her throat and swallowed, "Well, first off, we're talking about why we became mates. We were eleven when that happened so what you just said doesn't apply. And secondly, that's not entirely true."

Harry grinned at her feisty attitude, "Oh, isn't it?"

"I didn't start up with Ron because I thought he was the sexiest man on earth!"

"No, you started up with Ron because everyone told you that you'd be good together. Which is the same reason why I initially agreed to get engaged with Ginny."

Hermione's face contorted into a frown, "Really? You never told me that."

"I couldn't tell you anything once you started dating Ron," Harry revealed, a tone above mumbling.

Hermione jerked her head back at that, utterly bewildered, "Yes you could have."

"If I ever caught you alone," Harry scoffed, taking another drink, "He was always pulling you after him like he bloody owned you. It was infuriating to say the least."

"I- I had no idea you felt that way," Hermione said, almost embarrassed. For some reason, she felt completely disappointed with herself. How could she have made Harry feel that way?

Harry shrugged carelessly, "You have no idea about a lot of my feelings."

Hermione's eyebrows furrowed and she squeezed his hand, "Tell me."

"No."

That was unexpected. Hermione cocked her head and repeated, "Harry, tell me."

"No."

"Why not?"

Harry toyed with the cap to one of his beer bottles, "Because. I can't."

"Yes you can. We're best friends. You can tell me about your feelings."

Harry's eyes closed shut and he let his head fall down. He sighed. He knew that their conversation had become way too intimate, and that they were now emerged in the dark water that was his past and true feelings.

Finally, he looked back up to Hermione, the look in his eyes more guarded, "We were best friends a while ago, Hermione."

Hermione shook her head stubbornly, "We're still best friends. Time doesn't change that."

"Time changes a lot of things," Harry argued, "You don't know me anymore."

It took a minute or two for her to get past the shock of his unfair claim. But, along with the added help from all the alcohol, her frustration eventually got the best of her, and Hermione swatted him over the head.

"OW!"

"Yes, a year is a long time, but it hasn't changed me. You're the one who chose to leave. I've fucking missed you, and now that you're finally back you can't think that I'm just going to ignore you and ignore what we had together," Hermione told him fiercely.

Harry scoffed and rubbed the back of his head, "Jeez you sound like bloody Ginny after the war."

Hermione hit him again.

"OW! Fuck, Hermione!"

"That's not funny. I'm not Ginny. I'm Hermione. And a few years ago, that used to have a lot more credibility with you."

Now breathing heavy, Harry shot her an intense look, "You've always had more credibility than her, for me."

Hermione gave him a daring look, "If you didn't cheat on Ginny, then why'd you take off? I thought you were happy together."

"Don't be daft," Harry replied while rolling his eyes.

"I'm not being daft, I just don't know any better!" Hermione shouted angrily.

Harry's guard finally snapped, "I just didn't want to get married! Especially not to Ginny. She wasn't the girl I was in love with for Merlin's sake."

Hermione let out a crushed breath, "So you did leave her for someone else?"

Harry sighed, "It's true that I left her because she wasn't the girl I wanted. But I didn't leave and start up a relationship with someone else."

"Wait, does the other girl know that you love her?"

"No," he said shaking his head like it was a huge relief.

That made Hermione even more compelled, "Why didn't you tell her?"

"Because she was with someone else," he answered, finishing off another beer.

"Well, was she happy with the other bloke?" Hermione probed. Honestly, she didn't know how she was so interested in this woman. Truth was, she already didn't like her.

Harry sucked his lip in, "I only just found out that she wasn't."

"So it's not too late? Are you going to do something about it?"

"I- I don't know."

"How do you not know?" she continued to interrogate, "If you love her, than do something about it!"

Harry scratched at the back of his head in an irritated manner, "I'm not so sure that drinking would be the best hobby for you, Hermione. You're not so good at it."

"Why the hell do you not want yourself to be happy?! I mean, you ditched Ginny, and left the life you had started for yourself all because you wanted someone else. If this girl isn't in love with her boyfriend, than there is still a possibility for you!" she practically yelled at him again. What was this bloke's problem? Did he never want to be happy? Hadn't he spent too much of his childhood brooding about the fact that he wasn't loved? You would think that he'd be excited at the possibility of being with someone that he really cares for. There had to be more to it than he was letting on…

Harry turned on her with a heated glare, "Why are you so jazzed about seeing me with someone else?!"

"I'm not. I've always hated the girls you chose to be with. But if someone doesn't make you happy, then you won't do so for yourself."

The hard look he was giving her softened, "How come you hate them? Just because they're with me?"

Hermione huffed, "Because girls can't except the fact that their boyfriend has a girl best mate. I always get pushed to the side when you're dating."

"And you don't like it?" Harry assumed, the luminosity coming back into his eyes.

"What kind of question is that?" she still fumed, "Of course I don't like it."

"How come you never told me?"

Hermione shrugged, slightly embarrassed, and turned back to her drink, "Because it would have made you upset. Duh."

"No it wouldn't have."

Hermione rolled her eyes in disbelief, "Oh so you would have felt lovely over the fact that I didn't like Cho and Ginny?"

Harry didn't ignore her comment. Actually he wanted to smile, but decided against it. "How would you feel if I told you I started to not like Ron once you two started dating?"

Hermione shook her head like the idea was preposterous, "Confused. You two were best mates."

"What if I told you it was because he was holding your hand and kissing you?" he asked again lowly.

Hermione's breathing hitched as she allowed herself to think of the possibility. Harry jealous over Ron, because of her? She shifted on the bar stool, her left leg brushing against Harry's.

Harry flinched when he felt the contact but covered it by reaching for his beer, "You're not the only fucking one that hates seeing you with another person," he muttered.

Hermione looked at him for a second and then shook her head, "What?"

Harry screwed his face up into a concentrating expression and looked off into the distance, the bottle still hovering a few inches from his lips. He glanced back at her a minute later and shrugged. Hermione started cracking up with laughter, and Harry soon joined her.

"Holy shit. I sort of understand why I shouldn't drink now," Hermione got out, laying her head against the bar.

Harry laughed, "You were really pissed off, too."

"You were getting mad too!" Hermione called shrilly.

"I had good reason to get mad. You can be really frustrating."

Hermione pushed on his shoulder, "You're the frustrating one, not me."

Harry didn't budge at all and shook his head stubbornly, "No you are."

"You won't even tell the girl you love, that you love her," she shot back winningly.

"I love you."

Hermione's eyes darted up to Harry's and they stared at each other for long time. Harry was starting to shift uncomfortably. 'Oh shit, you idiot' was the phrase running through his mind on fast forward. What a way to reveal your biggest secret…

But before he could get a word out to rectify what he'd said, Hermione started busting out laughing again.

"You should have seen the look on your face!" she giggled.

Harry frowned at her. That wasn't exactly the reaction he'd been hoping for.

"Oh my gosh, Harry…" she slammed her head, in her arms, and down on the table once more. One of her hands snaked out and latched onto his again.

"You know, I'm really happy you're back. I've missed you."

Harry smiled, more in a sad way, "I've missed you too."

Hermione suddenly popped up, "Hey! Now that I've had a break up, do you think I should go on vacation?"

Harry laughed, "No."

"We could go together! I want to go Paris!"

"We'll see," he said, becoming more aware of how drunk she really was. He felt slightly light headed himself, but that could simply be because he was here with her.

"Paris is so romantic," she gushed openly.

Harry raised an eyebrow at her, "And you want to go there with me? Alone?"

"Well…" she laughed again, and then looked up with blurry eyes, "I guess we don't have to do the romantic stuff. I was just saying…"

Harry rubbed his thumb over the back of her hand, "Maybe someday. But right now, I think I'm going to go home."

Hermione immediately frowned, "Oh, but it's still nighttime!"

"Exactly. Close to both our bedtime's, don't you think?"

Hermione looked away from him with an apparent glum expression, "Perhaps you're right…"

"Come on," Harry said, getting up from his seat and throwing some muggle money down, "I'll call you a cab." His reason behind this was that she was wasted, and couldn't apparate. It had come up in their earlier conversation that she moved out of her parents house, but he didn't know where exactly. And for his own sanity, she couldn't come back to his hotel with him. The situation was tempting enough as it was.

"Okay…" Hermione mumbled. She started to get up when her foot slipped on the step of the barstool. Harry quickly lunged forward and grabbed her.

"Whoopsie," she muttered.

"I got you," Harry said. He put an arm around her waist and shifted most of her weight onto him. "I told you it was time to go home though didn't I?"

"Rub it in," she scoffed droopily.

Harry grinned and walked her outside, where luckily enough, it had stopped raining. There were still a few cars roaming down the populous street, and Harry managed to flag down a cab.

"Get in," he told Hermione as the cab pulled up to them. With Hermione still in his arms, he opened the passenger door and helped her forward. As she was starting to lower herself in, she banged her head hard on the roof of the car.

"Ow," she muttered. Harry grimaced as he watched her practically fall in. He let out a deep breath. He really didn't have a choice in the current state she was in. A second later, he too climbed into the cab.

"Oh you're coming too?" Hermione asked brightly.

Harry nodded and pulled her seatbelt out for her, "Yeah. Just to walk you to your door."

Hermione smiled as Harry buckled her in, "'Kay." He really was going above and beyond to take care of her. Now that's what she wanted in a bloody boyfriend.

Harry asked her for her address and then repeated it to the cabbie. As the driver took off, Hermione's head fell against Harry's shoulder.

"Tired?" he mused.

Still stubborn in her drunken stupor, she shook her head, "No."

"Sure, Hermione."

"Where are you staying tonight?" she asked through closed lids.

"I have a hotel in town."

"Oh," she voiced, "Do you want to hang out tomorrow?"

The corner of Harry's mouth lifted up into a grin and he glanced down to Hermione, "What do you have in mind?"

She shrugged, "I dunno… we can go do something fun together."

"Yeah, we'll see," he answered after a brief pause.

Hermione didn't miss it, "We'll see what?"

"We'll see if you even remember this conversation in the morning."

"I'm going to remember this for the rest of my life," she replied, nuzzling her head further into his shoulder.

Harry couldn't help himself. He leaned to the side and buried his nose in her hair, briefly laying his cheek against her head, "And they say you shouldn't drink."

Hermione scoffed at the absurdity, "Nobody says that…"

"But they're going to start," Harry grinned.

Ever persistent, she shook her head, "Not if you don't spill the beans."

Harry laughed, but didn't say anything.

"Our secret?" Hermione asked.

"Yeah. Our secret."

"Good."

"We're here," announced the cab driver a few seconds later. Hermione's eyes shot open and stared out the window to the entrance of her apartment building.

"Ready?" Harry asked, also looking out into the brightly lit, nicely furnished building.

"Yep."

Harry paid the driver, muttering for Hermione not to worry about it at her protest, and then opened the door. As she was scooting herself out, he grabbed her hand and helped her.

"Thanks. Pay you back…" she said as he pulled her into his side again.

He shook his head, "I said don't worry about it."

Hermione leered them to the side as the approached the glass doors, "I've got to punch in my number."

"What?"

"Move," she mumbled, pushing him away and then walking over towards the keypad to the side of the double-doored entryway.

Harry laughed as she shot him an incognito look and then lifted a hand over the numbers to block his view as she punched in her password.

"What, you don't trust me?" he chided as she stumbled for the doors.

"I'd tell you but I'd have to kill you," she told him simply, struggling with the door handle. She didn't want to tell him that the reason she blocked his view was really because her five digit code was his date of birth. Ron never would have been able to sneak into her apartment because of it.

"Here, let me help you," Harry said suavely, coming up behind her and reaching around her to open the door.

"Thanks," Hermione felt his arm slither around her waist again as she started forward.

"Good morning, Miss Granger," greeted a large man wearing a black uniform and a utility belt. Harry conceded that it must have been security.

"Morning Marshall…" Hermione called back tipsily. She pointed her thumb at Harry, "This is Harry."

Harry nodded at him, "Hello."

"Good morning, sir."

Hermione and Harry both made it safely into the elevator and pushed her floor button, before Harry turned on her, "He sure does pay close attention to the time, doesn't he?"

Hermione started laughing hysterically and Harry chuckled along with her, more amused with her laughter than anything else.

They reached the top floor in no time, and soon Hermione was leading the way down the hall towards a door with a golden 30 on it. Stopping at the door, she popped open her clutch and started searching through it for her keys.

Harry waited a few seconds before he grabbed the door knob, "Alohomora."

The door clicked and Harry twisted the knob open. He turned back to Hermione with a sheepish look.

"That was my plan b," she said, "I swear I was about to do that, too."

Harry laughed at her as he nudged Hermione forward so that she was standing in her doorway.

"Tonight was fun," Hermione said, leaning against the door frame.

"Best night I had in a long time," Harry agreed.

She grinned, "Aren't you glad we ran into each other?"

"Yeah, definitely."

"You probably wouldn't have contacted me unless we hadn't," she murmured, her eyes glancing down to the pattern on the hall carpet.

Harry opened his mouth to respond, but then shut it. He didn't want to lie, or say anything he'd regret.

Taking his silence the wrong way, Hermione glanced up at him with desperate eyes, "You're not going to disappear are you?"

Harry stared unblinkingly at her, "No."

"Do you promise? I don't want to go another year without seeing you."

"Promise," he whispered. He leaned in and kissed her on the forehead, "Good night." Before he could get too caught up in her parted lips, he turned and started walking back towards the elevator.

Hermione's eyes had flittered close as Harry's lips touched her forehead. When she recognized his departure, they snapped back open. There was one last thing she wanted to know, "Harry?"

"What?" he asked, instantly turning.

"How come you don't want to be happy?" she asked in a new tone. It wasn't full of her inebriated mind set, or her guarded attitude. This was straight shooter Hermione he was talking to. And yet, she sounded quite vulnerable.

"You're wasted," Harry said aversively.

Hermione narrowed her eyes, "Answer the question."

It took him a few seconds, but he eventually obliged, "I do want to be happy."

"I love you too, for the record."

Harry's eyes went wide, "Hermione…"

Hermione, however, paid no attention to him, "If I was this girl, then I'd want to know how you feel. I'd want you to do something… you know I'll probably still hate her, but as long as she makes you happy…"

She pushed herself off the wall and stepped back into her flat. Quickly, she pushed the door shut behind her; she didn't want to stick around in case Harry got mad at her again. It took a lot for her to get that out. Truth was, she hated herself for encouraging him, but even a little bit drunk, Hermione still couldn't deny her want for Harry to be happy. Even if that did mean being with another woman.

She started to saunter forward into her living room, and was just about to kick her heels off when she heard a loud, fast pace knocking at the door. She hobbled back towards the door as quickly as possible.

Hermione had just started twisting the handle back to open the door, when Harry pushed his way through. Neither had the chance to say anything, as Harry immediately grabbed Hermione's face and met her half way in a hungry kiss.

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Please review! Part II coming soon.