Happy Valentine's Day! Written for Great Hall's Be My Valentine exchange. I'm not a Harmony shipper, so I tried my best with my limited romance writing skills. Be sure to tell me what you think, good or bad. I love hearing feedback. Anyway, I hope you enjoy it, and as always, I'm not J.K., so I don't own any of this!
Valentine's at Hogwarts was one thing for couples and another thing for singles. For couples, it meant spending the day in Hogsmeade, having a romantic date at Madame Puddifoot's, and then strolling around starry-eyed, not really doing anything, yet somehow having a wonderful time. These things tended to cause feelings of bitterness and/or nausea in singles like me, so we usually chose to stay away and pretend it was nothing but another day. Unfortunately, these happy couples don't think this is a worthy pastime, and decide to intervene.
"Come on, Hermione! No one stays in on Valentine's. It's not right." Ginny insisted. Ever since she'd gotten together with Dean, she'd become very interested in my non-existent love life.
I defended myself, "I won't be alone. I'll be with two wonderful guys." I neglected to mention that their names were Ben and Jerry. Bless Mum and her tradition of sending me a pint of ice cream every Valentine's.
Ginny ignored me, and continued, "I heard that someone is putting together a blind date thing. Neville and Luna have signed up."
I rolled my eyes. Blind dates were to be avoided, not sought out. "Sure, after you practically forced them to. Gin, I'm glad you're happy, but please, let it go. I'll be fine."
She sighed, and said, "I just wanted everyone to be as happy as I am. I know Ron's doing something with Lavender, and I didn't want you and Harry to feel all awkward."
"Well, the thought's nice and all, but I'm just not sure it's the right thing for me."
"Fine." Ginny crossed her arms, "But, I don't see why you're so scared. You're brilliant, Hermione. Besides, I know most of the guys doing this. They're all perfect gentlemen, not like Cormac. What possessed you to go to that party with him anyway?" I'm not sure of that one myself. Insanity? Jealousy? It was during a particularly dark phase with Ron. Now, I was more just annoyed by his stupidity than being jealous of him with Lavender.
I didn't answer her question, but grumbled, "Fine. I'll consider it. Nothing more."
Ginny smiled, pleased with herself, "Talk to Justin Finch-Fletchley. He's the one setting the whole thing up."
I didn't actually plan on talking with Justin. I just said that to ease Ginny's mind. But, curiosity got the best of me, and by the end of the day, I found myself in front of the Hufflepuff, asking, "So...I heard you're setting something up for Valentine's?"
Justin nodded, "Yeah, a blind date thing. You want in? I only have a few spots left."
I raised an eyebrow, "So, it's reservation-only or something?"
Justin replied, "Yeah, we have to make sure we have equal numbers. Don't want guys with guys or girls with girls." He grinned at the idea of the strange dates. "Should I put you down on the list?"
I took a moment to consider the options:
a) Spend Valentine's alone, comforted with ice cream and Pride and Prejudice, or, if I felt daring, go to the library, where the Hogwarts staff had decided to screen some Muggle romance movie. Have a reasonably good time, but wallow in self-pity for a little bit because Ron and Harry both have plans. (or at least, Ron does. I don't know about Harry.)
b) Go on a date with a random boy, who probably wasn't a complete stranger, but was an acquaintance at best. The quality of the date depends on the quality of the boy. Results may vary.
A was the safer choice, but it was possible I'd have a better time with B. However, I didn't want to chance it...
"She'll do it." I heard Ginny's voice break through my thoughts. "Now, put her name down, and don't let her change her mind."
Justin scribbled down my name on a wrinkled piece of paper, and despite my protests, would not take it off. "See you around, Hermione!" He called, before turning around and joining a group of boys passing by.
I turned to Ginny, but she cut me off, "You weren't going to do it." She accused.
"Well, I thought about it, and-"
Ginny interrupted me again, "No. No more thinking. You get to thinking, and then you over-analyze, and then you choose the safe choice. For once, you are going to try something new."
"No buts." She said, "You need this, Hermione. You're sixteen. You're gorgeous. You haven't dated anyone since Viktor. What are you waiting for?"
The question hit close to home. What was I waiting for? More importantly, who?
"Here." Ginny shoved a small red envelope in my face, directly in front of the book I was trying to read.
"Why are you handing me a Howler?" I asked, not bothering to hide my annoyance.
Ginny rolled her eyes, "It's not a Howler, silly. It tells you where you're going to meet your date tonight."
"Why can't it tell me who my date is?"
"That would ruin the surprise." Ginny said, as if it should've been obvious. "Now, open it." She ordered.
I obeyed, slipping my finger underneath the flap and prying the envelope open. It said, in messy scrawl that Hermione assumed was Justin's:
You'll be meeting your date at 6 PM this evening, at the Three Broomsticks. Look for the table with the pink tulips.
Not even a hint at who my date was. Hmph. Now, I had to go, simply because I was too curious as to who I'd gotten not to. Damn.
Ginny grinned, "So, what exactly will you wear?"
I bit my lip, knowing I was setting myself up by answering, "Clothes?"
Ginny shook her head in disbelief, and said, "What will we do with you, Hermione? C'mon." She ignored my protests, grabbed me by the wrist, and dragged me towards the dormitory. What had I done?
I stood at the entrance to the Three Broomsticks, waiting in the shadows for something to happen. A sign, a gesture, a call, anything. Perhaps they didn't recognize me? I didn't look much like myself. After being dressed, made-up, and having about a gallon of Sleekeazy's poured onto my head by Ginny, I looked like a completely different person. In the short, sleeveless, cobalt blue dress with my hair piled on top of my head, I almost looked glamorous.
Then, I remembered they wouldn't know me at all. I'd only have the pink tulips to go off of. I scanned the booths, looking for the flowers. I saw Neville sitting with a blonde girl at a table with daisies. Behind them was Luna and Ernie Macmillan with some lilacs, looking extremely awkward. Just to the left of them was...Harry? Why was Harry at something like this? He had explicitly stated that after last year's disaster with Cho, he wasn't going on any more Valentine's dates for a long time.
I had hoped he might ask me to do something, since Ron was out with Lavender. It would be as friends, of course, but he's the only person I can think of that I'd want to spend Valentine's Day with. Not that that means anything. Harry's my friend, and even if there are times when I've considered the possibility of something more...Well, Harry's never seemed interested. So, I keep it to myself. I continue looking around, but I don't see any table with pink tulips. If this is Justin's idea of a joke, he'll be very sorry. I double-check the booths, but I don't see any...
Oh, Merlin. There are pink tulips, alright, and those tulips are sitting directly in front of one Harry Potter.
I walked over the table, and Harry looked up as I neared. "Oh, hey, Hermione." He greeted me, looking both nervous and a bit disappointed. Was it really that bad to have me as a date?
"Hey." I returned, taking the seat across from him.
He took in my attire as I sat down, "You look...incredible." He said, visibly impressed. I felt my face heat up at the compliment.
"Thanks." I said, looking downwards. "You look pretty good yourself." That was an understatement. He was dressed simply, in a blue button-down and jeans, but that suited him.
"So, have you seen your date yet? I've been looking, but..." He trailed off, scanning the room again. It dawned on me; he didn't know I was his date. He thought I'd just chosen to wait with him.
"Actually," I started, "I think I am your date."
His eyes returned to me, and he now looked embarrassed at his mistake, "Oh." He said, "Sorry about that. I thought you might be at first, but it seemed too good to be true." The hidden compliment made me grin. Had he wanted it to be me as much as I'd wanted it to be him?
"So, how did you get roped into all this?" I asked conversationally, trying to start things off on the right note.
"Ginny kept asking me to do it, as a favor to her. She wore me down." Harry admitted, and the little spark of hope died. He had done it for Ginny. Beautiful, outgoing, Ginny. He was only doing this to get a little closer to her.
"The same thing happened to me." I said, trying to continue normally. "She's persistent, that one."
"Yeah. I might've come anyway, but Ginny pushed me over the edge." He replied.
"Why?" I asked, "I wouldn't have. Then again, I don't really like Valentine's Day much anyway."
Harry raised an eyebrow, "Why not? I mean, it's not a big holiday, but it's all about love. Love's a good thing to have."
"It's nice when you're younger," I said, "It's nice when it's all about getting chocolates from your mum and dad and giving those little cards with the lollipops to all your friends. But, once you get older, it's all about couples, and if you aren't a couple, you're stuck feeling sorry for yourself."
"Or," Harry suggested, "You could get together with friends, and hang out, like any other night. There's no law that says you have to be alone on Valentine's Day." It was a very valid point. I suppose I'd felt like it was all or nothing. I could go out or I could be alone. I forgot there was middle ground.
"I suppose," I said, a small smile playing on my lips, "When did you get so wise?"
"I don't know," He shrugged, "Somewhere in between this afternoon and this evening?"
"Well, while it's a very good point, there are other things that are worse on Valentine's." I replied.
"Like what?" He prompted.
"Like going to Hogsmeade and being surrounded by all the couples, all madly in love. It's a bit too sweet for my liking." I wrinkled my nose at the memory of the Three Broomsticks last year, while I waited for Harry.
"Well, maybe it's just because you've never been with another person in Hogsmeade on Valentine's." He said, and I could tell he was referring to himself as the second person.
"I don't think it'll be quite the same, with the two of us." I said, a little confused as to what exactly he was proposing here.
"We can try, right? Better than just sitting here all night." He said, though I honestly wouldn't have minded sitting in here for a while.
"I highly doubt you can change my mind." I said, "There's nothing worth doing in Hogsmeade on Valentine's."
"That's where you're wrong." Harry said, grinning, "You just have to have the proper guide."
It was already dark by the time we left the Three Broomsticks. Harry led me across the dirt road, directly into one Honeydukes. "What's so special about Honeydukes?" I asked.
Harry didn't answer, just held the door open for me, and let me see the inside for myself. I saw what he meant now. It was incredible. The entire place was red, covered in roses. Red velvet tablecloths, white roses scattered across the counter, little petals falling from the ceiling every so often. It was beautiful.
The man at the counter looked up, and gave us a friendly wave, "Hello, and welcome to Honeydukes! Do you need any help?"
Harry replied, "Yeah, my friend here's never come in on Valentine's Day. Will you explain the deal to her?"
The man nodded vigorously, and looked at me, "Every year, we set out a table full of chocolates that haven't been bought yet for the holiday. Any that aren't sold by 7 o'clock are free to be sampled."
Harry smiled as he checked his watch, "And...it's now 7:04 PM."
"Feel free to take what you want." The man said, "If you need any more help, I'll be in the back."
I raised my eyebrows, "They really just give the chocolate away?"
Harry shrugged, "It's their version of charity. Just go with it. Try one of these." He cracked open a lurid pink heart and passed me a small dark brown truffle with a trail of white chocolate traced on it.
It was silky and smooth, one of the better chocolates I'd ever had in my life. I closed my eyes for a second, to enjoy the taste. When I opened them, Harry was gone. Nowhere to be found. Figures. He could've just said he had somewhere to be, instead of running off.
I grabbed a chocolate rose from a vase, taking off the red wrapping, and picking off a petal, letting it melt on my tongue. I slowly took off each one, playing a little game with myself. He'll come back, He won't show up, He'll come back, He won't show up.
I checked my watch. It had been fifteen minutes. The rose was bare. Harry had left, without saying a word. He would regret it the next time I saw him. I felt little pricks in my eyes, but I tried my best to ignore them, and turned to leave.
"Hermione, wait!" I heard a familiar voice call from behind. I turned to see Harry, shoving something into his pocket, looking as hurt as I felt. "Where are you going?"
"I..I thought you'd left." I stammered.
"Oh...sorry." He looked down. "I went into the back room. I thought you saw."
"It was just a misunderstanding." I felt like a weight had been taken off my chest. "Want to try one of these?" I picked up a crimson heart and held it out to him.
"Let's see..." He said, reading a small label on the front, "Ambrosia Chocolates. Creates a general feeling of euphoria in the user for one hour per chocolate." We exchanged wary looks with each other, but in the end, wound up splitting a chocolate in half and sharing it.
It was unlike anything I'd ever eaten. It tasted like...happiness. Like summer, a good book, and the sun hitting your face. I giggled at the pure joy, grabbed a couple more boxes of chocolate, and looped my arm through Harry's. He looked equally giddy, and escorted us both out into the night, as he said, "C'mon, Hermione. So much to see, so little time to see it."
I blame the chocolates. I think the maker's a liar, because the euphoria didn't wear off after thirty minutes. I refuse to actually believe I had a good time in Hogsmeade on Valentine's. It isn't possible. Well, maybe it is, if you have Harry around.
We went everywhere. After Honeydukes, we stopped into Gladrags, and bought a couple of pairs of fluffy hot pink socks to give to the house-elves. Then, I was dragged into Zonko's, where we looked at the Valentine's things. There were quills that wrote extremely sappy love poems whenever you tried to write anything, chocolates with love potion hidden in them (the kind I suspect Romilda Vane picked up for Harry), valentines that sung obnoxiously when opened. It was all pretty funny.
We had a lot of fun that night, hopping between shops and pubs, where concerts went on, skits were performed, all kinds of sweets being passed out. However, I don't think all the events were the real reason I had such a good time. It was really Harry.
Being with someone you were comfortable with made it all easier. Having someone who understood you, and knew just how to make you laugh. Part of me wished it wasn't just a friendly date. It wanted to know what it would be like to do this again on a different level. But, for now, it was nice to just walk down the road hand in hand and talk with my old friend.
Harry popped back into sight at that moment. That was the only problem; he kept disappearing. After a while, I'd accepted it, and just waited for him to come back into focus. "Hey, Hermione, you want to head back?"
I looked at my watch. It was pretty late, though there was no curfew tonight. I nodded reluctantly, and we got into a carriage that waited at the edge of town. We sat there, pressed up against each other in the small space, lit up by the moonlight. "I had a present for you."
"You didn't have to do that." I protested.
"I wanted to." He said, and reached down in his pocket, before pulling out a scarlet sock, weighed down with something inside. "Here." He handed it to me.
I reached into the sock, and felt something smooth and rectangular. I pulled the item out, and looked at it. It was a small box of Muggle candy hearts. "I haven't had these since I was a kid." I marveled, "Thank you."
"Why don't you open it up and have one, then?" He suggested. I used my thumb to pop open the cardboard, and pulled out the first one.
It was white, with pink writing. I read aloud, "Love me?" I gave a little laugh, and said, "Well, let's try again, then." I reached in and pulled out an orange heart with purple writing, "Let's kiss." I read, feeling a little embarrassed now. Why couldn't I have just pulled something normal, like Be Mine?
I moved to choose again, but Harry's hand stopped mine. "Hermione," He said slowly, "Maybe the hearts have the right idea."
Before I had time to react, his lips were on mine. The kiss was soft, questioning. I responded to it without thinking, kissing him back. He put his hands around my waist and pulled me closer to him, something I didn't know was possible in the already miniscule carriage. I ran my fingers through his hair, marveling at how soft it was. I'd always thought kissing Harry would be odd; he was one of my oldest friends. But, it was the complete opposite. It felt more natural than anything, like this was what was supposed to have happened all along. I closed my eyes and let the moment last.
Unfortunately, the carriage arrived at Hogwarts, which meant we had to stop. We broke apart, and Harry whispered, "So, do you?"
"Do I what?" I mumbled, feeling a little bit dazed after breaking apart.
He didn't say anything, just held up the white heart I'd dropped back in the box. Love me?
I planted a light kiss on his lips, and answered, "Isn't it obvious by now, Harry? Of course, I do."
He grinned, "I just wanted to make sure I wasn't the only one." He put his arm around me, and we walked back up to the castle. I shook a few more candy hearts into my hand, looking at their messages, but they were all the same, either Love me? or Let's kiss. It didn't matter what color or flavor they were. They all had the same messages. I looked up at Harry, and it all snapped into place.
He'd gotten the hearts from Honeydukes, from the guy in the back room. He'd had the messages changed by the Zonko's employees. He'd bought the sock at Gladrags. He'd disappeared so he could put the whole thing together. "Did you know it would be me?" I asked.
"No," He confessed, "But, I hoped it would. Ginny said you'd be there." I smiled at that, and leaned against him, not saying anything else. There'd be plenty of time for talking later.
I said good night to Harry, and turned to see a familiar figure in the chair across from the fireplace in the common room. Ginny was trying to hide her grin as she asked, "Did you have a nice time with Harry?"
"I had a wonderful time, thank you." I flopped into the chair next to her.
"Why are you thanking me?" She asked, faking confusion.
"You were the one who got us paired with each other, weren't you?"
"You know, Hermione." Ginny said, "Sometimes, the best thing for you is staring you in the face. You just need a little push in the right direction to see it."
I couldn't be mad at her for that. After all, without that push, tonight would've never happened. I would've lost out on the laughs, the thrills, and the discovery of an old friend being something more. I fingered my candy hearts, and popped a green Love me? in my mouth. Perhaps Valentine's wasn't all that bad after all, if you got the right hearts.