The Harry Potter universe and all the characters in it belong to J. K. Rowling. I get nothing out of this except enjoyment.
This short story takes place in a somewhat AU setting, something similar to what I used in two other stories of mine, Choices and Just Like the Girl That Married Dear Old Dad.
It's the end of the Trio's last year at Hogwarts, and Voldemort has been defeated (by some unspecified means), but much of Books 6 and 7 didn't take place. For example, Harry continued the DA in after 5th year, even expanding it to include more students. More importantly, Hermione didn't take leave of her senses the way she did in Book 6. She didn't pursue Ron romantically, and didn't have a falling out with Harry over the potions book or Malfoy's activities. Harry did date Ginny briefly, as he did in Book 6, and broke up with her at the end of the year. They did not get back together at the end of the war.
It's a lighthearted, fun oneshot, with no big drama, angst, or complicated plot. Just a bit of fluff, really, with only one major theme. The idea just came to me one night, and I wrote it the next day. Then I saved it for a special occasion, which will be revealed at the end of the story.
"Of course I'm his best mate," Ron declared indignantly. "Who else would it be?"
Hermione cocked her head in apparent thought. "What about Neville? He's been pretty close to Harry ever since the final battle."
Ron waved his hand dismissively. Sure Neville had been spending a lot of time with Harry this year, but it was mostly talking about wizarding culture and his duties as head of house, a subject Ron had never really taken any interest in. "Well, yeah, but that's different. A best mate is someone who's been with you for a long time, through all sorts of stuff, and who you can talk to about anything."
"I see," Hermione responded, as though clarifying a point in a class discussion. "Well, what about me then? I think I could be considered Harry's best mate." Seeing Ron's look of disbelief, she continued. "I've been Harry's friend as long as you have, we're as close as two people can be, we talk about everything. And I've been by his side continuously throughout everything."
Ron grimaced at the word 'continuously', which he knew was Hermione's intention. But he shook his head and huffed. "You can't be his best mate. You're a girl."
"Oh?" Hermione retorted, her eyes flashing with annoyance. "And what's that got to do with it?"
Ron persevered, despite being aware of the danger he was getting into. "Guys and girls can't be mates."
"And why not?" she demanded.
"Because best mates talk about different stuff than guys talk about with girls," he explained with a sigh. "You know, guy stuff."
"Guy stuff," she repeated disparagingly.
"Yeah. Guys hang out. They can lie around in their underwear. They drink, belch, and laugh about it. And they talk about quidditch and …" he paused, trying to complete his thought. "Hey Seamus," he called down the table. "What do guys talk about besides quidditch?"
Seamus rolled his eyes at this dorm mate's obsession. "Well, most of us talk about girls," he called back with a smirk.
"Yeah. Of course. Goes without saying," Ron confirmed, turning back to Hermione. "See? A guy and a girl couldn't do all that stuff together. So a girl can't be a guy's best mate." He folded his arms across his chest and leaned back in satisfaction.
Evidently, Hermione wasn't giving up. "Well, we'll just have to see about that," she declared, standing up.
"Huh?" Ron responded somewhat less than eloquently.
"I'll prove to you than I can be Harry's best mate," she insisted. "You just have to find something else to do this evening and leave us to ourselves in our common room."
"Uh, sure. Whatever you say," he conceded with some confusion. As Head Boy and Head Girl, Harry and Hermione had separate rooms, with a shared common room. It had been a great place for their small group of friends to hang out all year. But for whatever Hermione was trying to prove, Ron decided that he could accommodate her. Since it was a Friday night, maybe Dean and Seamus would want to sneak in some firewhiskey. Heck, maybe they could even talk Neville into joining them. He snorted. She'd probably end up talking Harry into studying with her for NEWTs.
The next morning Harry wandered down to the Great Hall somewhat later than usual, even for a Saturday. Ron also noticed that he seemed to be in something of a daze, with a self-satisfied smile on his face.
"Hey mate," Ron greeted him. "Where's Hermione?"
"Uh, she's still in bed," Harry replied with a grin. "She's … kinda worn out. We didn't get much sleep last night."
Ron shook his head. That didn't sound like Hermione. She was usually the first one up every morning, nagging them to get out of bed.
"So, how did things go last night?" Ron queried. Oddly, his best friend's dazed, goofy-grin look reappeared.
"Really well," Harry responded, nodding his head slowly as his grin broadened. "Really, really well! Really, really, really …"
"I get the idea," Ron cut him off, frowning. What had gotten into Harry? "So, tell me all about it."
"All about it?" Harry repeated doubtfully.
"Sure," Ron insisted. "Hermione had this big plan. Did you sit around in your underwear and get drunk?" he joked.
Harry stared at him for a moment, then shrugged, apparently deciding that Ron was already in the know. "Well, it started that way."
"What!" Ron sputtered. "You mean you saw Hermione in her bra and knickers?"
"Erm, not exactly," Harry corrected. Seeing that Ron wasn't satisfied with this response, he added, "She was wearing something different. Fancier. Her top was like an undershirt, sorta, and the bottoms were a kind of shorts. Real short. But silky, you know?" Ron shook his head, indicating that no, he certainly did not know.
Harry scrunched up his face in concentration. "Let's see, she called the top a … a camisole. And the bottoms were called tap pants. Yeah, that was it." He looked back to see a totally perplexed look on Ron's face. "But yeah, it was most definitely underwear. Certainly nothing underneath," he muttered under his breath, his face turning red.
Ron wanted to ask how exactly Harry came to that conclusion, having never even heard of garments like that before, but decided he wasn't sure if he wanted to know the answer.
"She certainly wouldn't wear that out in public without something over it," Harry hastily added aloud. Then, before Ron could pursue the question, he continued. "And she told me I should make myself comfortable too, so I did." Ron stared, but Harry just shrugged. It wasn't the first time Hermione had seen him in his underwear, and Ron knew it. She'd had the annoying habit of coming into their dorm room and waking them up in the morning when she decided they'd slept long enough. Not to mention the time they'd spent sharing a small tent while going after Voldemort.
"Then she offered me a beer," Harry informed him.
"You mean a butterbeer?" Ron asked.
"No, a beer," Harry corrected. "It's a muggle alcoholic beverage. It has a more bitter taste than butterbeer, and lots of foam. We'll have to take you out to a pub sometime and you can try one."
"OK," Ron responded uncertainly.
Harry grinned. "Then we had a belching contest."
"You're kidding!" Ron leaned back in surprise. Had Hermione taken his criteria seriously?
"No, really," Harry insisted. "It was hilarious. She really surprised me, too. Didn't know she had it in her. I was loudest, but she got off the longest one." Ron shook his head. He never would have believed it.
"What … what else did you do?" the redhead wondered.
"Well, then we talked about quidditch for a while," Harry said, cocking his head back as though trying to recall the sequence of events. "She said she naturally supported the Holyhead Harpies, as she's all in favor of women being able to do anything men do. But she acknowledged that Puddlemere's the better team this year, mostly because of Oliver Wood."
Ron was too stunned to reply this time. She was doing it. She was really doing it! But that would mean …
The dazed expression returned to Harry's face again. "You're not going to believe this next part. After that we talked about, well … girls."
"Girls?" Ron choked out.
"Yeah." Harry shook his head. "She asked me what specifically guys talked about. Of course, she already had a pretty good idea, since she wasn't surprised with my answer. In fact …"
"What?" Ron demanded when Harry paused.
"You know that debate we've been having for the past year about which girl in our class has the biggest …"
"Yeah?" Ron leaned forward eagerly. "Lavender or Susan. Who did she say?"
Harry grimaced. "Millicent Bulstrode."
Ron's face contorted in disgust. "But she weighs like a ton!"
Harry nodded. "Right. According to Hermione, breasts are mostly fat tissue, so …"
Ron shook his head. Trust Hermione to take an interesting topic like that and turn it into a lecture. But at least that meant that he was right about …
"So after she said that, she laughed at the look on my face," Harry revealed with a chuckle. "She was having me on. Then she answered what I really wanted to know." Ron perked up again, somehow eager and disappointed at the same time.
"Susan's bigger than Lavender, just barely," Harry continued. "Not only that, but Hermione said she could tell me how a lot of the girls in the school measured up."
"No way!" Ron exclaimed. "How is that possible?"
"Well, you know that the girls all shower together in the Room of Requirement after our DA training sessions," Harry pointed out.
Ron nodded. That had been the subject of numerous fantasies in the all the boys' dorms! "So who's third?" he asked, leaning forward in anticipation.
"Are you sure you want to know?" Harry challenged. Ron leaned back and thought for a moment. He didn't want to hear another answer like Bulstrode.
"How about just in the DA?" he suggested.
Harry grinned. "Current members only, or including past members?"
Ron scratched the back of his head. "If you include past members, it's probably Angelina." Harry nodded. "OK, current members then," Ron decided. "Who's next biggest after Lavender?"
Harry shook his head, and his eyes went unfocused for a moment. "She was … pretty convincing."
Ron wondered what evidence Hermione had provided, then went pale. No. She wouldn't have. Not Hermione. He shook his head. Not possible. She must have argued until Harry gave in. He turned his mind back to the original question.
"What about Parvati?" he objected.
Harry shrugged. "Not even close. According to Hermione, she's just good at 'displaying her assets to the best effect'. In fact, she's one of the smallest. Tied for second smallest, actually, along with Padma of course. Ginny's the smallest."
Ron winced. This was getting into uncomfortable territory. Harry grinned at his friend's discomfort, and decided to twist the knife a little before revealing anything further.
"You know, Hermione says girls do the same thing when they talk about guys," he revealed.
"You don't mean …" Ron went pale again. Harry smirked and nodded. "Harry!" Ron pleaded. "Please tell me you did not tell her that I'm the smallest guy in our dorm!" They both knew he wasn't talking about height.
Harry shrugged. "She already knew. Dean, then Neville, then me, then Seamus, then you. Had them all in exactly the right order."
"How?" Ron gasped.
Harry paused, then revealed, "Ginny told her." Ron sputtered incoherently for a few seconds before Harry explained. "Evidently she walked in on you wanking in your room one day. You really should lock your door, mate."
"And what about the rest of you?" Ron growled. Harry was now happy he was sitting across the table from his friend, whose ears were turning a telltale red, rather than beside him.
"Ron, you know she dated every Gryffindor guy in our year at one time or other," Harry reminded him.
"And …?" Ron's voice took on a threatening note.
"And I'm sure you remember that time in sixth year when you and I came across her and Dean snogging in that corridor," Harry continued. "And he was feeling her up, and she had her hand down his pants?"
Ron leaned his head back and closed his eyes. "I really did not need you to bring that up again."
"But think about it," Harry rationalized. "Dean wasn't anything special to her. It stands to reason she might have done that with the other guys she dated too."
Ron gave him a hard look. "And what about you?"
Harry returned the stare pointedly. "She and I dated for less than a month. We didn't go any farther than that."
Ron leaned back again. "Well, that makes me feel slightly better. But …"
Harry leaned forward. "I don't think you have anything to worry about. Ginny knows what she's doing. In fact …" He hesitated and Ron's eyes snapped open.
"Well, you know that another thing we guys discuss about girls is how far we think they'll go?" Harry offered.
"Yeah. So?" Ron shot back.
"According to Hermione, that's all the farther Ginny ever goes with a guy," Harry reassured him.
"So you're saying my sister's a cock tease?" Ron sighed. Talk about something being good news and bad news! Harry remained silent, confirming his assessment. After a few seconds, Ron perked up again.
"So, you and Hermione talked about that too?" he asked. Harry nodded with another grin, knowing where Ron would go next.
"Come on, spill!" Ron demanded. "Which ones will go all the way? Lavender?"
"Only if the she's convinced the guy loves her," Harry replied.
Ron groaned. "You mean I could have got into her pants if I'd just stuck with it?" he lamented.
"You missed the important part," Harry pointed out. "Only if you loved her."
Ron waved that off. "Right, if I told her I loved her. I could have got laid last year!"
Harry frowned. "It's more than just saying you love her. You'd have had to mean it." Ron looked at him, wondering what he was getting at. Of course he would have been convincing about it.
Harry sighed. "Let's say you're in the middle of the act. She says she loves you. You'd have to say you love her right then without having to think about it. You couldn't even hesitate a second or she'd know. Girls can tell."
Ron wondered how Harry could make a statement like this, since he didn't have any more experience with that particular activity than Ron did. He supposed it was something Hermione had told him, although he was a bit surprised that she and Harry would have had a conversation like that.
"I suppose you're right," he conceded. "But it would still be worth a shot."
Harry shook his head. "What do you suppose would happen if she suddenly realized you were faking it?" he challenged. "She pushes you away and grabs her wand. Where do you think she's going to aim her first hex?"
Ron went pale and instinctively crossed his legs. "I see what you mean," he squeaked.
Harry leaned back, satisfied that he'd made his point. "Now, do you want to hear some more?" he asked. Ron nodded eagerly. "Well, you know how the guys sometimes talk about Parvati and Padma, together?" Harry began. This got another moan out of his friend. That was definitely in the top five all time fantasies in the Gryffindor boys' dorm.
"You cannot be serious!" Ron gasped. "Together?"
Harry managed to avoid the serious/Sirius pun. "But not without marriage," he added.
"Huh?" Ron wasn't following.
"Under some circumstances, they could both be married by their father to the same guy," Harry revealed. "Like if he was responsible for two bloodlines."
Ron gaped at him. "Like you, you mean. With the Potters and the Blacks?"
Harry shook his head. "Yeah, but I don't want to go that route. I just thought it was interesting information."
Ron shook his head in turn. "You're crazy!" he declared. "They're two of the best looking witches in our year." Harry just shrugged.
"OK, that covers Lavender and Parvati," Ron decided. ('And Ginny too', Harry thought, but didn't say aloud.) "Who else?"
"Well, you know Luna's a pretty free spirit, right?" Harry asked.
Ron snorted. "No kidding. She used to dance naked in the moonlight in a clearing in the woods between our houses when she was little."
"She still does," Harry informed him. Ron perked up at this information. Luna had really grown up, in all the right places, he thought to himself. Perhaps a little night time exploring might be in order this summer. Harry grinned at the redhead's reaction and continued. "As far as sex is concerned, she's quite open about it, according to Hermione. "She'd be willing to try it with anyone, as long as they 'understand her and respect her as a person'.
Ron pondered those criteria for a moment, then rolled his eyes. "Only with you, then."
Harry shook his head. "If the rest of you guys would just make the effort …" he insisted with some frustration.
Ron waved him off. It might be worth thinking about later, but not right now. "So, are you going to take her up on it?" he encouraged Harry.
"What, just because a girl is willing to have sex with me I should automatically do it with her?" Harry challenged.
"Well, why not?" Ron countered.
"Because probably half the girls in this school would jump at the chance to shag the Boy Who Lived, the Chosen One, the Slayer of You Know Who!" Harry snapped.
"You say that like it's a bad thing," Ron objected. "Sure, maybe not all of them, but you can't say there aren't at least a few birds around here that you wouldn't mind bagging."
Harry sighed and fell silent. Ron just didn't get it.
Ron waited a few seconds and then spoke up again. "You know, there's one pretty important girl you haven't mentioned yet." He had no expectations about Hermione, but wanted to resume the conversation. And who knows, the girl might have confided something to Harry. They were pretty close, after all.
A strange expression passed over Harry's face that Ron couldn't immediately identify. It seemed to be a mixture of … Satisfaction? Contentment? Bliss?
"Yeah," Harry mused. "Hermione was quite a bit more … complicated. I'm not exactly sure how to explain it."
"No surprise there," Ron quipped. "This is Hermione we're talking about after all."
Harry smiled. "Yeah, it sure is."
"Well," Ron prompted when it looked like Harry wasn't going to say any more. "If you were up half the night it must have been quite a conversation."
Harry snorted. "You could say that." Then his grin reappeared. "You could also say she, ah, thoroughly communicated her feelings on the subject."
"Go on," Ron encouraged.
"OK. She started out by saying she doesn't believe in kissing on the first date," Harry revealed.
"But what about Krum?" Ron objected.
"He kissed her, she didn't kiss him," Harry explained. Ron gave him an odd look. "To a girl it makes a difference, I guess," Harry shrugged.
"What else?" Ron persisted.
Choosing his words more carefully than normal, Harry continued. "She said it depends. She spent quite a bit of time making sure I understood how she'd worked it all out. But she said it depended on how well they knew each other, how much affection she and the guy felt for each other, and how much they trusted each other. That's the key. Caring and trust."
"So the more they trust and care for each other the farther she'll go with a guy?" Ron concluded.
Harry seemed to be gazing at a point over Ron's shoulder. "Well she went into a lot more detail than that, and it took her a fair bit more time, but that's essentially it. And then there were her examples.
Ron snickered. "I can imagine."
"Actually, no, I don't think you can," Harry disagreed, but did not elaborate.
"If you say so," Ron conceded, not wanting to get sidetracked. "So how far will she go?"
Harry looked him in the eye, and Ron shuddered slightly at the intensity of his gaze. This subject really had his best friend rattled!
"She decided she wouldn't make love until she was engaged," Harry replied softly.
Ron nodded. That came as no surprise. "But everything up to that, huh?" After a moment's thought, he frowned. "This is Hermione right? She hasn't dated that many guys. Hardly any, actually. How would she know?"
Harry smiled and shook his head. "Like you said, this is Hermione. She's spent hours thinking about it, read books about it, whatever. You know she'd want to have it all planned out in advance." Ron nodded and smiled. Yep, that was Hermione.
"Ron," Harry began again, lowering his voice so his friend had to lean across the table. "I have to tell you something. Hermione and I … last night … well, she helped me realize something."
Ron got a sinking feeling in the pit of his stomach. Hermione must have convinced him.
"What?" he almost whispered.
"We … we trust each other," Harry confided. "Completely. And we care for each other. A lot."
"You mean …?" Ron asked, his mouth going dry before he could finish. Harry nodded.
"Wow," Ron breathed. "How …?" He wasn't sure how to ask his next question – how far did you go – without being hexed.
The dazed look was back on Harry's face, and Ron only now realized what it meant. "You know the other thing guys talk about?" Harry asked.
"You mean besides the things we just mentioned? Which girl would be best at … Oh Merlin!"
Harry nodded. "Hermione disagreed with our conclusion. She said it wouldn't necessarily be the flirty girls like Lavender who would be best at sex. She claimed that smart girls who read a lot would know better what they were doing."
Ron could only shake his head in disbelief.
"She was pretty persuasive," Harry pointed out with a salacious grin.
Ron started choking, and briefly considered putting his hands over his ears. "But you said … what about no kissing on the first date?"
Harry shrugged. "She claimed that we'd been dating for years, and after I thought about it I had to agree with her.
"And … what about not going that far until she was engaged?" Ron tried again, trying to find a way to interpret Harry's statement differently.
"Oh, that reminds me," Harry said, sitting up with a smug expression on his face. "Remember that we agreed that I'd be your best man and you'd be my best man when we got married?" Ron could only nod dumbly. "Well, it looks like it will be sooner than we thought. Are you available this summer?"
Ron froze, unaware that he held a fork with a sausage on it poised halfway to his mouth. "Wha? … you … Hermione?"
"Honestly, Ron, of course it's me," came a familiar voice from behind Harry. "Haven't you been listening?"
Harry's face brightened and he jumped up to turn and take Hermione into his arms. Ron suddenly noticed his surroundings, and the fact that no one around them had been paying them the least bit attention up until now. Harry must have cast a privacy charm.
After a tight hug and a kiss so intense that it took Ron's breath away, his two best friends broke apart.
"How are you feeling this morning?" Harry asked tenderly.
"You mean besides being sore, and walking funny?" Hermione quipped with a smile. "I feel wonderful!" Ron might have again considered the advisability of covering his ears, if he hadn't still been immobilized with shock.
Harry remained standing while giving Hermione his seat. "Well, I'm off to Gringotts," he announced. "I have some shopping to do." He shot Ron a wink that indicated just what he would be purchasing, then leaned down to whisper in Hermione's ear.
"I love you. Be sure to wear something special to dinner tonight."
As he strode cheerfully out of the hall, dozens of heads swiveled to follow him, stunned at what they had just witnessed. Hermione regarded him with a loving smile, then shook her head as she turned back to Ron.
"That silly man. He wants to formally propose in the middle of the Great Hall. I tried to talk him out of it, but you know how stubborn he can be."
Ron remained silent, still locked in position, as Hermone loaded up her plate. Noticing Ron's wide-eyed stare, she shrugged. "I guess I really worked up an appetite last night." Any chance of Ron recovering his ability to speak any time soon evaporated with that revelation.
As she devoured her full English breakfast, Hermione continued her one-sided conversation. "I'm not too familiar with wizarding weddings. The only one I've attended was Bill and Fleur's. Do you know, Ron, what the typical number of attendants is? Fleur only had two. Ginny will be maid of honor, of course – the two of you will pair up well – but I wonder who else I should ask. I'm sure Neville will be in it, so I suppose I should ask Hannah. And do you think I should ask Fleur? How many of your brothers would Harry want to include?" She paused and glanced at her friend, but no answer was forthcoming. Knowing exactly the effect she was having on him, she grinned, extremely pleased with herself, and continued. "I suppose I should ask Ginny. I'm sure she'd know."
As she finished and stood, she gestured to the sausage on the fork he was holding, still hovering in the air and smirked. "You should eat that before it gets cold."
Just as she was about to leave, in an apparent afterthought, she commented, "Ron, do you remember that disagreement you and I had yesterday about whether a guy and a girl could be mates?"
Hermione leaned across the table.
She stood up straight and walked proudly, if a bit gingerly, from the hall. Finally, once she'd passed through the doors, Ron found his voice.
A/N This story is being posted on August 2, 2010, in honor of my best mate, my wife, as today we celebrate our 35th wedding anniversary.
I can't imagine anything better than spending my life being married to my best friend.