Disclaimer: I don't own HP or any of these characters. That belongs to JKR, Scholastic Books, Warner Brothers, etc. This is just something to pass the time while waiting for the next book.
Part VIII : The Long Haul
"I am never, ever going to let you choose the restaurant again." Harry glared at his girlfriend as his gasps over the spiciness of the food slowed down.
Hermione rolled her eyes at the ceiling. She loved Harry with everything she had but that had been very stupid of him to try that dish. "You can't say that I didn't warn you not to eat it. And besides, if you took my advice and drank the tea instead of the water, it wouldn't have gotten worse."
"Hermione, that tea was orange. Tea is not meant to be orange. Brown, yes. Green works as well. But not orange."
"Thai iced tea is supposed to be orange and it's very good. Not to mention the fact that the cream in it would have made you feel better rather than just add to your pain like the water did."
"Telling me 'I told you so' is not helping me here."
Hermione smiled at Harry. He could be absolutely helpless at times but she loved him then anyway. Deciding to take pity on him, she scooted her chair closer to his and reached over his plate to pick up his tea. She sipped it, relishing in the unique flavor of the tea. "It tastes perfectly fine, if you ask me. Here, try some."
Harry made a mock grimace but acceded to her words. "Hmm, not bad," he said after taking a small sip to taste it.
"I told you so."
"What did I say about that not helping?"
She laughed at that and leaned closer to him to give him a quick kiss. Harry wasn't willing to settle for a mere peck so he laid his left hand against the back of her head, stopping her from breaking the kiss. He ran his tongue across her lips, seeking entrance that was soon granted. His tongue playfully dueled with hers for a couple minutes before she turned her head aside to break the kiss.
Harry sighed with happiness. It was most gratifying to be able to kiss her for real instead of only having his dreams to subsist on.
Hermione could feel her cheeks turning red as she realized that they had been kissing for quite some time in one of her favorite restaurants.
"Want to go someplace else?" Harry asked. It was all too clear why Hermione was blushing.
"Yes please," she responded and he asked for the bill. Harry paid the bill, telling Hermione before she protested that she could pay next time and that they would be able to leave faster if they did not argue. She merely nodded her head and before she would have thought possible, they were out the door.
Once outside, Hermione moved closer to Harry's side without even thinking. The night air was chilly and being together would be warmer. He put an arm around her waist and drew her closer to him as they walked back to their Apparition point. She leaned against his shoulder and sighed. It was always very pleasant being with Harry but this was something new. As friends they were close but they had never been this close. Hermione was stuck with how natural it felt to be this close to Harry and she wondered how she could have lived so long without having him by her side.
"A sickle for your thoughts, my love?" Harry asked.
She glanced up at him and then quickly kissed his cheek. "I like this. Just being together."
"Me too." He sighed. "I wish I had been brave enough to tell you earlier so we . . ."
Hermione hushed him before he could finish. "Never mind that now, love. What matters is that we have today and tomorrow, even if we didn't have yesterday."
"I know, love." Silence lay between them for the next several minutes as they continued walking. Neither of them felt the need to fill the air with words, as the mere act of being together was all that they needed. Harry and Hermione continued to walk until they were out of sight and able to Apparate back to his flat.
Harry had thought that after the argument with Ron that it would be nice to spend the evening just to themselves before they faced all their problems in the morning. That was not to be for as soon as they arrived back at his place, they could see the tall figure of his godfather waiting by the door.
"Sirius?" Harry called out. "Is something wrong? Why are you here?"
Sirius Black merely looked at Harry and how Harry's arm was around Hermione. "No, nothing's wrong. I would say that there's something quite right," he said.
Both Harry and Hermione blushed deep red, and Hermione hurriedly disengaged herself from Harry's arm. It was one thing to be with Harry when they were alone but she wasn't quite used to letting other people see them together. She again cursed Skeeter and that blasted article. They had been left with no time for themselves and no option of being able to tell their friends about their new relationship personally. Hermione knew that one of the curses of loving Harry Potter would be having her private life exposed. She was willing to live with that but that didn't mean she had to like it – and there was no way she would like something that had caused so much pain to one of her dearest friends.
"Good evening, Sirius," she said when she finally recovered her voice. "I . . . take it you saw that article too."
"I think just about everyone in the country has by now, Hermione. Is this a recent development? Or something that you've been—"
"No, we have just got together," Harry hastily said before Sirius could finish that sentence. "Honestly we have. We only got together this weekend and well . . . we were very happy at being together and we didn't really think of telling everyone right away . . . we would have got to it eventually but—"
"Don't worry. I believe you. Though why you think I wouldn't . . ." Sirius raised an eyebrow at the young couple. "I get the feeling that it's me who should be asking you two what's wrong. What happened?"
Harry sighed. "It's Ron." He motioned Sirius to one side so he could open the door. "It's a long story so perhaps we should sit down first." Harry opened the door and they all filed in.
"Are you thirsty? Want anything to drink?" Hermione asked before sitting down.
"Already taking over Harry's flat I see," Sirius said. Hermione stuttered in response. "And no thanks, I'm fine. So what exactly happened with Ron?"
Harry took a deep breath before outlining the problem to his godfather. "Ron thinks that we've been keeping our relationship a secret from him," he said, "when really we only figured out how we felt about each other this past weekend. I don't . . . don't know what to do . . . to say . . . I thought—"
"We thought that he might be jealous," Hermione picked up as Harry's words faltered. "And I think that might have made him even angrier. But he was mad because he thought we were . . . I guess not acting like friends, not telling him what's going on in our lives, and well . . . that's not the case. If it was up to us, he'd be the very first to know."
"Did you try telling him?"
"Of course," Harry said. "Of course, we told him that for what good it did. He didn't bother to listen. If you ask me, that's not acting very friendly."
"No it's not. But he's hurt and . . . well, Harry, I can understand how you'd be upset at him too but don't you think someone should act like an adult?"
"I know, I know. But there's not much I think I can do if he's not going to listen."
Hermione sighed. "I hope that it's only his temper speaking and that he'll come around eventually." She saw Harry's hands shaking out of the corner of her eye. Taking his hand in hers, she continued, "I will never regret loving you, Harry, but I do want our best friend back."
"And I'm sure he'll come around," Sirius interrupted before the moment between his godson and his girlfriend could get too intimate. "Don't forget – I believe you and I am certain that Remus will and Ginny will and all Ron's brothers. We'll all be here to help you out. Ron's probably feeling rather miserable as well now but give him time to cool off."
"And in the meantime, talk to the others?" Hermione asked.
"Right." Sirius nodded. "Talk to Ginny as soon as you can. Maybe not tonight but soon. Try Ron's brothers as well but Ginny is closer to Ron, right?"
"Yes," Harry said.
"But aside from talking to people and trying to enlist their help . . ." Sirius spread out his hands helplessly. "I don't think there's much you can do until Ron is willing to listen to what you say."
"I hope it's soon," Hermione said so softly that Harry and Sirius could barely hear her.
"I do too," Harry said, squeezing her hand.
"No promises on that however. I hate to be pessimistic, but it might take a long time," Sirius reminded them.
"We'll wait." Hermione's eyes shifted towards Harry's face. "Because that's what friends do."
He nodded. It looked like he was in for the long haul in more
ways than one.
Author's Note: Thank you to everyone who has reviewed the previous
chapters -- sorry for not being able to write sooner. It has been
a very long time since I updated -- not since the end of finals last semester
and finals are approaching again. In any case, I would love to know
what you thought of this chapter so please leave a review.