"Right through here."
"So, this is the one who wrote that story with Harry and the Meyer-pires?"
"Yeah, he's actually a nice bloke."
The author was standing by a window, munching on a bowl of cereal when the door slammed open. He glanced toward the commotion, and his appetite immediately left him.
"Oh, bugger all," he muttered, setting his cereal bowl down and moving away from the wall. "I thought you were joking about bringing him!" he called across the room.
Sirius beamed from next to James, who was surveying the room with obvious fascination. "Well, you are writing about his son. I figured he'd want to meet you."
"Alright, mate?" James said with a grin, walking up the author and clapping him on the shoulder, causing the author to wince. "So, listen, I've seen your work, and you're good, but I want to just bounce an idea off you. Just for fun." He paused, staring at the author for a moment, who nodded. "A harem."
"Not happening," the author said, slipping out from under James's hand, and Sirius burst out laughing.
"Aw, why not?" James said. "The boy deserves some fun after all Rowling's put him through. You could make Hermione his favorite or something. That one you were writing, that 'Segue' story, that's got some potential – "
"Harems are about fan service," the author said. "If I ever wrote one, it would have to be a humor story, not to be taken seriously."
"Well, there you go," Sirius piped in. "When you finish up your 'Connection and Capacity', take a break with some humor. You said you've hit a wall with your other two stories, right?"
"That's a good idea," James agreed, grinning at Sirius. "Good call, Padfoot. Write something just for fun, you know?"
"I'll think about it," the author said flatly, moving to his table and drawing out a file. "Just read this, would you?"
James lunged for the chapter, and Sirius moved behind him, peering over his shoulder.
"Padfoot, doesn't he remind you of Moony?" James whispered as they read, and Sirius nodded, still reading.
Chapter Three: Who is the walrus?
"D'you suppose he's waiting for someone?"
"Well, Slughorn's Christmas party's tonight. His date's probably getting ready."
"Who is it, I wonder?"
"Maybe it's Parvati. They went to the Yule Ball together."
"She had a horrible time, though. I don't think she'd want to relive that."
Harry rolled his eyes as he leaned against the wall outside the entrance to the girls' dorms. It had taken him all of twenty minutes to shower, get dressed in his finest suit and jacket, comb his hair, and make his way back down to await Hermione. Ten minutes of waiting later, he was now attracting the attention of several students who were passing their Saturday night in the quiet of the common room.
I gave her a fifteen minute head start, plus twenty minutes it took for me to get ready, plus ten minutes I've been here. Forty-five minutes, he concluded, idly reaching into his pocket and producing a galleon, which he proceeded to flip absently, catching it when it reached the highest point of its flight. He knew that Aunt Petunia had always taken much longer than Uncle Vernon when getting ready to go to their fancy to-dos, but he'd thought that was just his aunt. Apparently, it was more common among women than he'd thought.
The door opened, and Harry glanced over, his eyes widening when he saw Hermione smiling at him wearing a simply amazing spaghetti-strap dress of pale pink. She had her hair pulled up back and tucked behind her ears, and to top the look off, she'd applied a small amount of lip gloss and just a touch of eye shadow.
Forty-five minutes, he decided, was a perfectly acceptable waiting period.
"Hermione, you look…spectacular," Harry said, and Hermione beamed at him.
"Thank you, Harry," she said, moving to take his arm. "You look rather dashing yourself."
Students were gaping at this point, and their thoughts were virtually painted on their faces: Harry and Hermione? Hermione leaned in, whispering in his ear.
"Want to give them a show?"
Harry grinned, leaning in and capturing her lips in a kiss that was acceptable enough for public but left no question that these two were involved. Pulling away, he watched as Hermione's eyes darted around the common room, and she laughed.
"Romilda Vane looks like she might vomit," she said in a low voice, and Harry chuckled, taking her hand and leading her from the common room.
"She'll just have to get over it," he said as they walked.
Ron was currently lying on his bed, chatting with Seamus, who was sitting on his own bed and attempting to master a muggle contraption called the "paddleball". The shout had come from Dean, who dashed into the room with what could only be described as a look of shock.
"What's wrong, Dean?" Seamus asked.
"Ron, did you know about Harry and Hermione?" he asked, and Ron looked at him in confusion.
"What about them?" he asked, sitting up.
"They just had a good snog right in the middle of the common room!" he said, his eyes bulging. "You should've seen it, it was…well, bloody hot!"
"Wait, hold on," Ron said, standing. "You mean Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, right?"
"The same two I'm friends with?"
"And they were…snogging?"
"Right there in the common room. They walked out holding hands and looked pretty hung up on each other."
Ron clenched his fists, imagining the two of them kissing like that in full view of the common room. No, that didn't sit right with him. Hermione wasn't supposed to get with Harry; she was supposed to…stay single or something. Ron didn't know why, but her with anyone just bothered him, least of all his best friend.
Harry and Hermione….
"Where's Slughorn holding his party?"
"His classroom, I think," Dean said, looking confused. "Why? You're not thinking of going there, are you?"
Ron slipped his shoes on and strode from the room, leaving Seamus and Dean in stunned silence.
"Oh, Harry, this is Patrick McKenna," Slughorn said, indicating a tall, sandy-haired wizard with some flecks of gray in his hair and beard. "Class of '64. He was the chaser on the Irish national quidditch team for four years before a, um, sudden retirement."
"Took a bludger to the gut twenty feet off the ground," Patrick said with a grin. "Flew right off me broom and emptied me stomach to boot."
Hermione made a small cough before deciding against eating whatever hors d'œuvres Neville had been handing out.
"Old Patty here is on very good terms with the Irish national coach," Slughorn said. "Free tickets whenever the fancy strikes. Patty, you of course know of Harry Potter."
"Pleasure," Harry said, extending a hand, which Patty took, giving it a firm shake. As Slughorn and Patty chatted, Harry gave Hermione a significant look that spoke volumes: Get me out of here.
"Um, Harry, I'm suddenly parched," Hermione said. "Some punch?"
"Of course," Harry said, turning to Slughorn. "Excuse us, sir."
"Not at all, boy," Slughorn said with a smile. "Go and mingle."
They slipped away, and Harry sighed once they were well out of earshot. "I feel like a bloody politician. It's all fake smiles and politeness."
"Well, we know a career as Minister for Magic is out of the question, then," Hermione said with a giggle, and Harry chuckled. "If it's any consolation, you've got schmoozing down to an art form."
"I'll take that as a compliment," Harry said, grabbing two cups of punch and handing one to her. They leaned against a wall and sipped at their drinks, watching as various Slug Club alumni introduced themselves to current members.
As they stood, Neville approached with another tray. "Spinach puff?"
"No, thank you, Neville," Harry said. "I think I've had my fill."
He offered the tray to Hermione, who shook her head. "Same here."
Neville smiled at the two then glanced up as he spotted something over their heads, chuckling. "Pucker up, you two," he said, pointing. "Mistletoe."
The pair looked up as one, smiling when they spotted the plant twinkling above them. They looked down at each other, still smiling, and leaned in for a kiss. Neville quietly excused himself as they took advantage of their secluded spot to work in a well-deserved break from the festivities.
Or that was the plan, at least.
"Oi! What are you two doing!?"
Harry felt a hand on his shoulder as they broke apart, looking up in surprise to see Ron standing there looking much the same as he had looked upon seeing Hermione with Viktor at the Yule Ball. Glancing at Hermione, Harry cringed at the look on her face; she definitely didn't appreciate being interrupted.
"As you can see, Ronald, we are kissing," she replied, and Ron's eyes bugged, "and we'd prefer not to be rudely interrupted while doing so."
"But…but how could you…?"
"How could we kiss?" Hermione asked. "It's really easy, actually. You should know, though; you and Lavender have been dong plenty of it for the past week."
"That's beside the point – "
"That's entirely the point, Ronald!" Hermione said, and by now, they had attracted the attention of the whole room. Glancing around at the faces turned their way, Harry placed his hands on Hermione's shoulders, steering her toward the door.
"Hermione, maybe we should take this into the hallway," he said, and Hermione sighed, nodding in agreement. As they walked, Harry looked up at professor Slughorn. "Sorry to disturb your party, professor."
"Think nothing of it, my boy," Slughorn said with a smile, already halfway through a bottle of brandy and apparently feeling quite genial. "Good luck with your little spat."
Once safely in the hallway, Hermione rounded on Ron, and Harry grimaced; he'd inadvertently given her more time to come up with further reasons as to why Ron was a prat.
"Now, Ronald," she began, "do explain why, despite having a girlfriend and having spent the last week glued to her mouth, you feel the need to fly off the handle as soon as you see Harry and I kissing, because I seem to have missed something very important."
"Well…but I thought Harry like Ginny," Ron said, probably latching onto the first reasonable point that occurred to him.
"I did, a little," Harry said, wrapping an arm around Hermione's shoulders, and she nestled into his side, "but once I started to think of Hermione…that way, I realized that I like her a lot more than I liked Ginny. Besides, she's with Dean."
"And you're with Lavender," Hermione reiterated. "So there shouldn't be any problem with me and Harry going out."
"I…" Ron was again at a loss for words, but he managed to compose himself. "Is it serious?"
Harry and Hermione blushed as their gazes met.
"I think so," Harry said, smiling at her. "I hope so, at least."
Hermione smiled at him, her ire completely forgotten as their gazes locked again. "It definitely is," she replied, reaching up to trace his jaw with her finger. Harry felt his heart soar at her words, leaning in to pick up where they'd left off before being interrupted. Hermione giggled against his mouth, teasing him once with her tongue before pulling away, intending to tell Ron to shove off so they could have a moment.
But he was already gone.
"Huh," Harry made a small noise of surprise; he'd been expecting a blazing row, not a surrender.
"I guess he got the idea," Hermione said, then gasped.
"What?" Harry asked, and a truly impish smile stretched across her face.
"Harry, did you ever stop to ponder that the Room of Requirement - ?"
"Let's go," Harry said, grabbing her hand, and the two happily made their way to the most private place in Hogwarts.
"You look terrible, mate," Dean said as Ron stepped morosely into the common room.
"Did she hex you?" Seamus asked a little too eagerly, standing in anticipation. "What'd she use?"
"She didn't hex me," Ron said hoarsely. "Looked ready to, though."
"Why do you look like your puppy just died, then?" Dean asked, and Ron slumped into a chair near the two.
"They're…really happy," Ron said. "I mean, it's more than just snogging to them. They really…care about each other. Hermione and I could never have had that."
"You two would've ripped each other apart in the first week," Seamus agreed.
"Yeah, you aren't really suited at all," Dean concurred. Ron nodded.
"But…you should've seen it," he continued. "They looked at each other, and…it was like I didn't even exist. Hermione wasn't even mad anymore."
"They're in love," Dean said, and Ron sighed. "Ron, c'mon, mate. If you were truly their friend, you'd be happy for them. I am. Those two just…fit. Besides…" he trailed off, grinning at something he saw over Ron's shoulder. Fearing the worst, he turned and saw Lavender approaching with a smile, climbing into his lap and nuzzling his neck.
"Won-Won, I haven't seen you aaaalllll daaaaayyy," she pouted, puckering her bottom lip far too much. "Where'd you goooo?"
"Um," Ron shrugged. "Just…fancied a walk. Where're you two going?" he asked as Dean and Seamus stood. Seamus grinned at him as Dean gathered his books up.
"You look like you could use some alone time," Seamus said, and Dean nodded.
"See you later, Ron," he said.
They left as quickly as they could without appearing to run away, leaving Ron with his "Lav-Lav".
Harry looked down at their current position and attire. He had disposed of his jacket the moment they'd arrived in the Room of Requirement (set up to be "a good place for Harry Potter and Hermione Granger to have some private time") and his tie and shoes had soon followed, leaving him in dress pants with his button-down shirt untucked with half the buttons undone. Hermione, meanwhile, was also shoeless, and she'd dispensed of her hairpins, leaving her tresses to fall over her shoulders (which Harry rather liked). To top it off, Hermione was currently draped over Harry, both of them lying on the large, squashy couch that had spawned in the room, along with a crackling fireplace and an enormous bay window overlooking the grounds.
"You know we look like we just got done shagging," Hermione pointed out.
"I'm just fine with that," Harry said with a grin, and Hermione propped herself up on one hand, playfully smacking him on the chest with the other. Harry chuckled, feigning pain at her assault, but she only leaned in to kiss him again before moving to sit back on the couch.
"Something wrong?" he asked, sitting up, and Hermione shook her head.
"Not really," she said. "Just…when you said that you hoped it was serious between us…what did you mean?"
"Exactly what I said," Harry said with a smile, leaning up to sit across from her. "I…I like this. I like it a lot. I wake up in the morning, and I can't wait to just see you. Not just because of the snogging, which is brilliant, by the way," he added, and Hermione laughed, pecking him on the nose, "but…I feel like you're the only one who gets me. You see me as me, and not as famous Harry Potter. I can really talk to you about anything, and I know you'll listen, and you won't run away if it gets to be too real. You've always been there, and hopefully, you always will be."
Hermione smiled at him, leaning in to kiss him with a passion she'd never shown before. She wrapped her arms around his neck, pulling him in, making sure he knew that she still had a tongue (and just what it was capable of) before pulling away.
"Of course I always will be," she said. "After a speech like that, I'd be a fool not to."
Harry laughed, and Hermione hugged him, nestling into his chest and kissing his neck. "So, we're really doing this? Boyfriend, girlfriend, all of that?"
"If you'll have me," Harry said, and Hermione nodded.
"I'd love to be your girlfriend."
"Then you can call me your boyfriend."
Sighing in sheer happiness, Hermione slumped back onto Harry, who lay back on the extremely comfortable couch, running his fingers through her hair. She made a noise of contentment at his ministrations, nuzzling his chest.
Yes, for the happy couple, life was good right now.
Six years later.
"A toast to the new England national keeper!" Harry shouted to the assembled party guests, and everyone raised their glasses, turning to Harry. "To Ronald Weasley. Though he may be going national, he will always be our king!"
"Hear hear!" the guests shouted, taking a drink, and Harry sat down next to Ron, whose ears were bright red at the attention.
"Thanks, mate," he said, grinning as he swilled the contents of his glass around before taking a drink. "Can't believe it. National. This is it, then isn't it? Top of me game now."
"And look what you've got to show for it," Harry said, nudging his mate's shoulder. "You've got your own flat in a great neighborhood, and a beautiful girlfriend – "
"Who you should make your fiancé now that you've got this job," a new voice said, and Hermione appeared at Harry's shoulder, leaning in to kiss him, and Harry smiled as she moved to sit next to him, grunting slightly as she hefted her large belly into place. "My feet were starting to kill me. Potter, this child of yours is going to weigh a ton."
"It's all muscle," Harry said with a grin at his wife. "Takes after the old man."
Hermione rolled her eyes, turning to Ron. "So, when are you going to pop the question? Susan's starting to get impatient."
"Soon enough," Ron said with the air of a child telling his mum when he was going to clean his room. "In fact, Harry and I are gonna go check out rings tomorrow."
"Really?" Hermione asked with an eager smile, and Harry nodded. "Oh, Ron, that's wonderful! If you get married in the next few months, our anniversaries will be really close together!" She looked ready to say something else, but stopped just as she opened her mouth. "Oh, now I have to use the loo. Be right back."
She stood and scurried off, bound for the bathroom. Harry glanced at Ron, who was smiling across the room. Following his gaze, Harry spotted Susan blushing as she smiled at Ron, taking a sip of her drink. Reaching over, he gave his friend a nudge on the shoulder.
"Go get her, mate," he said, and Ron nodded.
"See you later," he said, and Harry waved at Susan as Ron made his way over to her. Waving back, Susan turned her attention to Ron, greeting her with a bone-breaking hug worthy of Mrs. Weasley. Harry was left alone at his table, contemplating his good fortune. He and his beautiful wife were currently expecting their first child, and Ron seemed on the road to marriage as well.
"Life is good."
"Yeah, way to go, Harry!" James said with a laugh, looking at Sirius. "Y'see, Padfoot? Harry always gets his girl. I like Hermione, too. Reminds me of Lily. Sharp as a tack, but with a lot of spunk."
"Told you he was good, Prongs," Sirius said, handing the manuscript back to the author, who shook his head as he observed the two. "Now, wait'll you see the posting point. It's wicked."
"Let's go, then!" James said, jumping from his seat and eyeing the two anxiously. Sirius grinned at the author, who nodded reluctantly, moving to follow them. As they walked, James dropped back to fall in step next to the author, wrapping an arm around his neck to pull him in. "So, about that harem…."
"I am not writing a harem story!" the author yelled, and Sirius and James burst into laughter as they exited. The room was silent, though a single note lay on the table, written in the author's own handwriting, likely a reminder to himself:
Don't forget to tell them to visit my deviantART page if they feel like discussing the stories or otherwise voicing an opinion.