Disclaimer: I do not own this song nor do I own the characters created by J.K. Rowling. I do own my own characters, all though, much like my divine birthright as Princess of Canada, I cannot back these claims up with paperwork.
Still, as intellectual property, I would request that no one use them without my express permission. As flattering as that would be, I would like a little notice just to make sure no one's stealing my stuff.
Hermione Granger had always considered herself a practical woman, even as a young girl she had thought of herself that way. Tonight, though, she considered herself one of the stupidest women on the planet. She just had to let Rodney Sounders talk her into showing up to this dingy little pub in Knockturn Alley.
'Talk me into?' she thought. 'He practically goaded me into showing up. And now the wanker hadn't even bothered to show up on time.'
"There is a star, waiting to guide us," Hermione sang to herself, her fingers brushing through the pages of her latest of edition of The Guardsmen, a newsletter for wizards and witches who want to make a difference, "shining inside us, when we close our eyes."
What she did not see was her fellow sixth year, Rodney Sounders, the scourge of Gryffindor, standing behind, hoping to get more joke material from the left-wing schlock she was reading.
"So, do you do that every time no one's looking or is this a first?" he asked, breaking her concentration.
Fortunately for Ms. Granger, he paid for his transgression. She jerked her head up the moment he spoke, cracking him in the face and knocking him to the ground.
"Ah!" Rodney screamed, grabbing his face. "If you wanted a kiss, you should've asked," he groaned.
"Not even if I was threatened with an Unforgivable," Hermione fired back snidely.
Rodney smirked at that comment. "Really? Because, last time, I checked no one can resist an Unforgivable."
"Well, Harry's a special case," Rodney said, brushing off that statement. "But, you still never answered my question."
Hermione picked up her magazine. "Which question?"
"The only one I asked."
Hermione quickly tried to change the subject.
"I have no idea what you're talking about," she said.
"Okay," Rodney said, "I just thought I heard you singing. I mean, it's not like you haven't caught me in that situation."
"All right," the flustered Hermione conceded. "Make your jokes. My voice makes a BlastEnded Skrewt want to turn itself inside out and self-destruct. You've heard more melody from a Mandrake root, you've-"
"I don't need to say any of those things," Rodney chuckled, "you're doing a very good job of that yourself. I was going to compliment you."
Hermione's hand glided down to her wand, which was tucked in The Guardsmen.
"Okay, where is the real Rodney Sounders?" she accused the young wizard standing before her.
"What," Rodney blanched, "I can't compliment you?"
"Not after last time," Hermione growled.
Rodney started laughing at that prank. While Fred and George had opted for the pink hair dye in their pranks, Rodney was happiest with topping their antics, choosing a lovely shade of blue skin dye. That had opened the floodgates for numerous dirty jokes at Granger's expense.
"That is true," he said. "I wouldn't trust me either."
Rodney moved closer to Hermione.
"But, I meant it this time."
Rodney turned on her heel and made his way toward the common room entrance.
Hermione was about to leave the club when Rodney finally appeared, dropping into his seat, a sleazy smile on his face.
"Okay, who was she?"
Rodney laughed, rolling his before he focused on fixing his hair, which stood up on its ends, as if someone had run their hands through it…several times.
"Who?" he asked, finally flattening it.
"The little tart that kept you from getting here on time."
"Are you kidding me?"
"No," Hermione stated.
"Why do you always think the worst of me?" Rodney asked.
"Because I know you," she countered. "And I've busted you in the Quidditch supply closet with those other tramps."
Rodney rolled his eyes, this time out of annoyance.
"Okay, Granger," he finally said, "even if I was with a 'tart' as you call her, I don't see why it's your business."
"It's my business when you insist that I come down to this," she looked around the room, trying to find the right word to describe the club, "dive, then don't bother to show up on time."
"Granger, I was born two weeks late," Rodney sassed," that gives me the right to be late for my own funeral if I want too."
"Your funeral's gonna sooner than you think," Hermione grumbled.
"What was that?" Rodney asked, his smile returning to his face.
'He's goading you again,' cautioned Hermione's inner voice. 'Don't take the bait.'
"I didn't say anything," Hermione finally responded. "I was just thinking about how you are the most infuriating person I've ever met in my life."
Rodney chuckled at this admission. "Worse than Malfoy?" he inquired.
"All right, you got me there," she agreed. "If you make a joke about other places you'd like to get me, you'll be walking funnier than you normally do."
"Ouch, you cut me to the quick, Granger," Rodney said
"And you annoy me," declared Hermione.
"Then why are you here?" he asked. "Finally come to admit I was right about you?"
"Admit to that?" she repeated. "Pigs will-" she quickly stopped herself.
"What?" he asked.
Hermione laughed. "Chances are the minute I say that, you'll find away to make a pig fly."
"Which is why I'm going to say that there is no way I'll admit to that," Hermione amended.
"But, I'll always know the truth," Rodney said, smiling wickedly.
'Don't break," her inner voice cautioned.
"You were curious," taunted Rodney.
"I was impressed," Rodney said, the following day to his two best friends, Gabe Morgan, and Powell, who will never reveal his last name. "She's got a really, really nice voice."
"We're talking about the same Hermione Granger," Powell asked. "The same girl that you once stated that you would rather test your theory on light sockets than listen to her talk?"
"Yeah," Rodney said. "Go figure, huh?"
"I'll believe when I hear it," Powell said.
"Why can't you trust Rodney?" Gabe asked.
"Because the last time I trusted him," Powell growled, "I woke up looking like my Uncle Gomez."
Rodney laughed at that memory.
"Isn't your Uncle Gomez a wanted felon?" Gabe asked.
"Yes!" Powell hissed.
"But, you did learn that you could survive in the wild during those two days," Rodney chortled.
"Yeah," he said, "and I can't wait for you to drop your guard."
"That's funny," Rodney howled. "Like that'll ever happen. Don't forget who my godfather is."
Powell made a face that indicated that Rodney had a point.
"I'll think of something," the Slytherin promised sinisterly.
"But, let's get to a topic I know has a chance in hell of becoming a reality," Rodney said, his confident smile never leaving his face.
"And that would be?" Gabe inquired.
"Getting Granger to show up at The Broken Flask," Rodney declared.
This time it was Gabe's turn to laugh at his friend.
"You really think she's going to show up there?" Gabe asked.
Rodney shrugged and nodded. "Why not?"
"Well, let's see," Gabe pondered aloud. "Because we don't even like going there. And we're ballsy."
"She's friends with Harry Potter," reminded Powell. "Ballsy is like a job requirement when it comes to being his friend."
"True," Gabe said. "But, there's a difference between fighting evil ballsy and daredevil ballsy."
"You have a point there, Mr. Morgan," Rodney concurred. "However, I know, for a fact, that I can get her there within three days."
Powell and Gabe looked at their friend as if he was crazy.
"How do you plan on doing that?" Powell asked.
Rodney pondered this for a moment.
"Well," he finally said, "I'm going to play to her inquisitive side."
"Are you even listening to me?" called out the annoyed voice of Hermione Granger, who was glaring at Rodney in a 'if looks could kill' moment.
Rodney smiled. "You know, my mother once said that if your face will freeze like that if you hold the expression for too long."
"My mother once told me the same thing," Hermione countered. "We both know that's a lie."
"Yeah, for a muggle, maybe," Rodney agreed. "But, my mother always counted on my father to freeze my face like that to teach me a lesson."
"What is wrong with your family?"
"Nothing. We just have unique disciplinary techniques."
Hermione snorted. "So, you're the hippies of the magical world?"
"I wouldn't let my father catch you saying that," Rodney cautioned. "He may be a little loosey-goosey with a lot of things, but being compared to a hippie is not one of them. My father just has little regard for norms," he shrugged. "It's a family tradition."
"I fear for your future children," Hermione quipped.
"I'm probably never gonna have kids," Rodney stated.
"Why am I not surprised?"
"Sounders men are not natural parents. The women are, but the men, most of them end up like my grandfather, or my Uncle Jack," he bit his lip, as if lost in a thought. "Nah, parenthood isn't for me."
Hermione studied the youngest Sounders male, "So," she finally said, "did you drag me here for a reason or just to suck in the second-hand smoke?"
"I brought you here for a reason," Rodney admitted. "Now, whether or not you like the reason is, well, entirely up to you."
Hermione groaned, unsure if she wanted the full answer to her question
"Woman needs man, and man must have his mate," Hermione sang to herself, believing she was alone.
Gabe moved in between his much taller friends, listening to the song. "I find this song offensive," he protested.
"Shut up and listen," Rodney commanded.
"It's the same old story, a fight for love and glory," the young heroine continued to croon, "a case of do or die."
"All right," Powell grunted when he saw Rodney's smug smile. "You weren't lying about this."
Gabe turned to Rodney. "So, how's this gonna happen?"
"Just the master work," Rodney insisted, cracking his knuckles.
Rodney slipped out of the shadows, moving toward the seemingly oblivious Hermione.
"As time goes by!" Hermione concluded.
Rodney, having not learned his lesson from a few days before, applauded her performance. Hermione jerked around, her arm extended. She cracked Rodney in the side of the head again, her wand appearing in her hand in a flash.
"Whoa!" Rodney shouted, raising his arms defensively. "Calm down, Granger, not a Death Eater."
Hermione finally blinked, putting her wand away. "At times, I think you're worse."
"Ouch," Rodney wailed. "Those jokes hurt sometimes."
"I thought you had thick skin?" Hermione questioned.
"I do," Rodney said. "But, even the thickest rock can only take so much."
"Does that mean that the headshots have to stop?"
Rodney laughed out loud. "Nice one," he said. "I take it you've been practicing your banter with Weaseley?"
Hermione nodded. "Yeah, he's actually an exceptional teacher."
"I don't doubt that," Rodney acknowledged, trying to cut through the tension that always seemed to permeate the air whenever they were together.
"Why are you sneaking up on me this time?" she asked, giving him his opening.
"Right down to brass tacks, eh?" he returned, his arrogant smile returning to his face. "I've come to extend an invitation to you."
As Rodney had predicted earlier, Hermione's eyes narrowed, a sure sign of intrigue on the bushy-haired bookworm's part.
"I wanted to invite you to the Broken Flask," Rodney said. "There's a weekly event where Muggle music aficionados get a chance to perform."
Hermione groaned. "I thought you were being serious about this."
"I am," he insisted. "My uncle owns the place and he usually has a spot open for me during that day."
"I don't doubt that your uncle has that spot for you," Hermione said, "but, the last time I checked, the Broken Flask was in Knockturn Alley."
"Indeed it is," Rodney chorused, his arms outstretched, as if singing.
"And, I'm fairly sure that Knockturn Alley is still on the outskirts of Diagon Alley," Hermione continued to analyze, speaking in her trademark know-it-all voice. "*And* Hogwarts is nowhere near Knockturn Alley-"
"*And*," Rodney declared with a mocking tone, "I know all that stuff!" he began to circle Hermione. "However, I have a theory or two of how to get there and back."
Hermione's expression was a strange combination of confusion, curiosity, and infuriation.
"But, I want to know, Miss Granger," he said, "is do you accept my invitation?"
Hermione marveled at this one student's brass arrogance. "You're insane!"
"Insane, maybe," he admitted, "but think of it like this. If you agree, you have two options. You could turn me over to Professor McGonagall, my father, and Professor Dumbledore, and leave my fate in their hands," his speech carried on. "Or, you can cast off that bookish shell and live on the edge a little. If only for one night. Show the world that voice you've been hiding."
Hermione almost leapt out of her shoes when Rodney's body moved in closer to her, his strong hands gripping her arms.
"The choice is yours," Rodney said, not relinquishing his grip.
"Why would I choose the latter?" Hermione inquired, her voice becoming more breathy than she had intended.
"Curiosity," Rodney insisted with a smile, releasing her from his grip before slinking off into the alcoves of the school.
"And lo and behold," Rodney concluded, "here you are."
"It proves nothing," Hermione said, remaining as stoic as possible.
"And I don't see McGonagall or the other professors," he continued, "so, I take it, you haven't ratted me out."
"The night is young," Hermione countered.
Rodney nodded. "Too true, Ms. Granger. But, I don't think you did anything except show up."
Hermione studied her nemesis, he was so arrogant. And delusional, he actually believed that his arrogance was self-confidence.
"You never get tired of looking at me, do you, Sweet Pea?" Rodney's deep voice interrupted her thoughts again.
"I am not your Sweet Pea," Hermione said, definition in her counter. "And I was not looking at you. I was sizing you up."
"All in due time," Rodney hinted, smiling suggestively.
"You are insufferable."
"You've said that a million times before. Do you have anything new?" Rodney asked.
"Believe it or not," she commented, "insulting you is not on my mind right now."
"What is?" Rodney interjected, holding his head in his hands, a smile stretching across his lips.
"Getting out of here before you humiliate me again," Hermione answered, getting ready to stand up.
Rodney grabbed her arm. "Now, would you do that? You came here for a reason." He said. "A reason you don't want to admit, but you want to be here…with me."
Hermione studied Rodney's face; he wasn't the type to lie despite his regular omissions of the truth. She could read him very well. Maybe he wasn't planning something to ruin her evening.
"I wanna show you something," he said. "Look over there."
Hermione looked over at the bar where she spotted Cullen Chandler, Rodney's third lackey.
"Cullen is over there," he said, turning her to the stage. "Powell and Gabe are on stage. They're waiting for us."
Hermione looked at him, his friends were out of range and he wouldn't risk his own looks to embarrass her.
"I have a question," Rodney said. "Why do you hide that voice of yours?"
"Because it's not as good as you claim it is," she stated.
"Look up there," commanded Rodney.
Hermione did so, seeing a graying wizard singing an off-key rendition of How Deep is Your Love.
"That guy comes in every week, is humiliated, and has three-week old bread thrown at him," Rodney explained. "Do you know why he keeps coming back?"
"He's a masochist?" Hermione asked.
"There's that," Rodney concurred. "But, he also likes to share his love to the world."
"And you want me to share my voice because I love it and music?" she asked.
"No, I want to share your voice because I love it."
Hermione flushed as brightly as Ron's hair, Rodney's skin changing hue as well.
He cleared his throat. "Well, now that that's out in the air…" Rodney stammered, "I'll be heading up to the stage."
Hermione watched him ran up the stairs, pushing the singularly untalented wizard out of the spotlight. Rodney took the microphone, laughing a bit at the wizard who was flipping him off.
"How's everyone doing tonight?" he asked, Hermione noticing what he looked like out of his robes for the very first time.
His black t-shirt clung to his muscular frame, his hair, which she thought was messy from a role in a hay, was messy by choice, and his pants curved to the contours of his lower body. He wasn't a bad looking guy, maybe even handsome. She watched him schmooze the audience.
Rodney had some personality issues, but he had actually complimented her. He had a great voice, and he loved her voice. Maybe he deserved a little help.
"I had a song planned earlier tonight," he said, his face contorted in a confounded way, "but the plan fell…"
He stopped speaking when Hermione walked onto the stage, her eyes telling him she was ready to break that cycle of living on the outside looking in.
"I take that back," Rodney said. "Ladies and Gentlemen, Ms. Hermione Granger and I will be singing a little song I learned when I was in Ireland."
"Which song is that?" Hermione whispered in his ear.
"You've heard me sing it enough around the tower," he said. "Go with it when I give you the cue."
Rodney signaled Cullen, who drew his wand and created a bigger spotlight, allowing the crowd to see him and Hermione, as Rodney signaled everyone to begin.
He counted the beats of Powell's guitar before he began to sing, "I don't know you, but I want you all the more for that."
Hermione's eyes lit up in recognition, her mezzo-soprano joined with his gruff tenor. "Words fall through me, and always fool me, and I can't react."
"And games that never amount to more than they're meant," Rodney paused for a moment, "will play themselves out."
The young duo sang together, the sounds of Gabe playing the piano carrying their voices with the melody. "Take this sinking boat and point it home, we've still got time. Raise your hopeful voice you have a choice, you'll make it now."
Rodney and Hermione finally locked eyes, the latter managing a weak smile at the former.
"Falling slowly, eyes that know me, and I can't go back," they sang together. "Moods that take me and erase me, and I'm painted black."
Rodney cupped her face, singing into her eyes, as if trying to reach her soul, "You have suffered enough, and warred with yourself, it's time that you won."
"Take this sinking boat and point it home, we've still got time. Raise your hopeful voice you had a choice, you've made it now," they trilled.
This cued Powell to play a guitar solo, while Rodney's head movements clued Hermione into when they were to sing again.
"Take this sinking boat and point it home, we've still got time," Rodney and Hermione sang, their voices melding together. "Raise your hopeful voice, you had the choice, you made it now," they exclaimed. "Falling slowly, sing your melody, I'll sing along!"
A/N: The story is done and the song has been sung. I hope you all enjoy this little one-shot and the characters I introduced in it.