Author's note: This takes place roughly a few years after the 7th book only I killed the epilogue (wish I could unread it) and this was born instead. POV's alternate between Harry and Hermione. Also there is fluff here, so you've been warned.
A special thanks to Spinnning Round a Carousel who went over this chapter and fixed it up.
Disclaimer: I don't own the Harry Potter books, also the idea is from one of the funniest romance books I've ever read- her hired husband by Renee Roszel. I don't own that book either and any references to it nor am I making any money from this.
When Ginny dumped him, her main reason had been that redundant excuse that people use to end relationships: 'it's not you, it's me'. This was, of course, to spare the dumped person's feelings - only it seldom ever did. The worst part was that it wasn't Ginny. She was actually a great girlfriend; as long as you didn't expect her to cook, she was terrific. It was him and his obsessive nature that doom was always just around the corner, that really put the nail on the coffin of their four year old on-and-off romance.
He couldn't help it, and no, he didn't think that sleeping with his wand under his pillow was paranoid. It was just a reaction to being hunted by a mad psychopath from birth until his late teens. He'd even tried seeing a psychiatrist, but when she'd diagnosed him with early onset dementia, he'd never returned.
Harry was a lot of things - obsessive, impulsive, courageous -but he wasn't crazy. If anything, he probably suffered from heroic syndrome, if such a thing existed, which caused a young teenage boy to act rather impulsively all for the greater good.
Glaring at his reflection in the mirror, he concluded he could now also add alcoholic to his extensive résumé. At the time, binge drinking had seemed such a swell idea, but now, with is eyes bloodshot and his head still pounding, he was forced to reconsider.
It was times like this that he really missed Hermione. She'd probably have some spell to cure his hangover, while listing all the reasons why drinking was wrong. Ah, his dear friend Hermione- the reason that he was awake at 9am on a Tuesday, shaving the stubble that he'd considered growing into a beard. When she'd called him asking for a favour, his stupid reply had been, "Sure 'Mione, anything."
Apparently, anything also included playing her fake husband for the next week. He was actually puzzled as to why Hermione would even need a fake husband, but she did promise to tell him everything once he got to her house so he'd find out soon enough. Well, provided he didn't die from his massive headache first.
Even if he had wanted to, he couldn't get out of it. Hermione was his closest friend next to Ron, plus, after her break up with Ron early last year, he felt it would be his friendly duty to help her out. Poor thing was still probably a wreck, trying to keep it together.
Besides, it was just pretend and it wasn't like he had a job that needed his attention. Professional Quidditch had been exciting at first, but had unfortunately lost his lustre when it no longer proved to be challenging. His stint as an Auror had been cut short when it turned out that though brilliant, he was slightly unstable. Fortunately for him, he actually had a large inheritance to fall back on or he'd be stuck in some stifling office or working a job he hated like Ron.
Harry washed away the residue of the shaving cream, although unfortunately nothing could be done for his eyes. He padded back into his room and with a wave of his wand, he dressed himself in slacks and a shirt; it wouldn't do to enter the Muggle world dressed in his robes. Merlin forbid someone confused him for a monk - or worse, a cult leader.
His bag was already packed and he'd informed his housekeeper, Miss Quick, of his trip. Now he was just stalling, a part of him even wishing that some sort of crisis would erupt and he'd be needed. Heck, he wouldn't even mind a little row with Voldy right now, especially since it had been proven that he could kick his ass. But Voldemort was dead...
So with a heavy sigh, he checked his watch and resigned himself to the fact that he had to get going. Hermione had insisted that he get there before ten and it was already five to ten. Come on Potter, stop stalling, how hard can this be anyway? He thought, readying himself before he Apparated.
Harry pressed the doorbell again, moving his luggage from one hand to the other as he waited patiently for Hermione to answer the door. He'd tried to smooth his hair, but alas, it remained the one villain he could never conquer. He heard the sound of feet heading towards the door and straightened up when it swung open.
"You're late," Hermione said, stepping aside for him to enter. Harry didn't move. His mouth was slightly agape and his feet had forgotten how to work. "Well, are you just going to stand there?"
Slowly, he began to awaken from his trance-like state and walked over the threshold.
"Hermione, you're pregnant?" he spluttered, his eyes glued to her protruding belly that was covered by a golf shirt. It sounded more like a question then a statement, yet from the rounded stomach, it was safe to say that she was at least in her second trimester.
"Yes, you sound surprised," Hermione answered breezily, closing the door behind him.
Surprised? He was shocked! "How did this happen?" he asked, baffled. He mentally counted the months since her break up from Ron – ten, eleven months ago? He wasn't really certain, but from his calculations, that would exempt the redhead from being the father.
Hermione glared at him. "You really want me to explain the birds and bees to you, Harry?" she asked warily.
"No it's just... I..." His voice trailed off.
"What, you can't have a baby unless you're in a relationship?" she asked with a frown. Harry realised he was entering forbidden ground, and decided to nip it in the bud before Hermione hexed him or worse.
"No, of course not," he said hurriedly, trying to smooth things over. "Is that why you want me to play your fake husband?"
Hermione sighed and told him to follow her to the kitchen. "Yes, and I know it's unethical, but my grandparents are coming for a visit," she explained, going to stand by the counter.
"You have grandparents?" Hermione gave him a look. "I mean, of course you do... You just never mentioned them before," he added quickly.
"That's because their judgemental, uppity snobs," Hermione said through gritted teeth, "and frankly, I don't want to explain why I'm pregnant and single."
So she was single. Yet Hermione didn't seem like the one night stand type, or maybe in a drunken stupor some jerk had taken advantage of her? The thought made him angry - though he was one of those jerks who sometimes preyed on innocent drunk women in pubs.
"But Hermione, you've achieved so many things as a witch and a Muggle - why should their approval mean so much to you?" he asked, confused.
Hermione was the one person he knew who never let other people's opinions influence her, so Harry was surprised that she'd go to such extreme lengths for grandparents she obviously didn't even like.
"I don't," she said curtly, then paused for a moment. "It's difficult to explain. I'm just asking you to do me this one favour. Can you, Harry?" she asked, her eyes looking big and hopeful. Inwardly, Harry groaned because he knew he could never deny Hermione anything.
"Of course. Just tell me what you want me to do," he said with a reassuring smile.
Hermione smiled for the first time since she opened the door and Harry couldn't help note that she was positively glowing and beautiful. Erm, hold it right there, Potter! Positively glowing and beautiful? This is Hermione! And she's pregnant, for Merlin's sake! He mentally berated himself.
"Thank you, Harry!" she gushed, then hugged him. This wasn't quite an easy feat with her belly, but Harry patted her back comfortingly, trying to ignore the wonderful smell of lavender that wafted to his nose.
Did Hermione always smell this good? he wondered vaguely.
"No problem, Hermione. So how are we going to go about this?" Harry asked, ignoring the flutter in his stomach when Hermione stepped back and smiled up at him. He would have sworn on his life that Hermione once had buck teeth, but either they were gone or she grew into them, because she flashed him a dazzling smile.
"Well, thankfully we already know each other, so all we have to work on is when we got married," Hermione said with a shrug.
He nodded, then thought of something, "Should we tell Ron, or...?" He trailed off, not sure if that was something she'd want to discuss with him, what with him also being Ron's best friend.
Hermione shrugged. "Whatever you feel is best, though the less people know the better," she replied, sinking into a bar stool, "Since it's temporary and all."
Harry nodded. She was right; besides her grandparents were Muggles, and most of their friends wizards, the chances of them crossing paths were one in a million. "Nah, you're right," he agreed.
"So, where can I put my bag?" he asked.
"Your what?" Harry asked, eyes widening slightly, causing him to have to push back his glasses.
"Well, Harry, we'll be a happy married couple, so it makes sense that we would share a bedroom," she explained in a voice that she no doubt used on students when they asked her stupid questions.
"Of course, I'm just- I'm new to this," he said with a nervous chuckle. "Your room is upstairs, last one down the corridor, right?" he asked, turning to leave.
"Yes, and Harry?"
He paused in the doorway, his eyebrows raised in question.
"Have you been drinking?" she asked.
He tried to lie, but Hermione was like Professor McGonagall; he never quite could lie to her, so he said the next best thing to the truth. "It was a onetime thing," he replied, and when she gave him a sceptical look, he added rather lamely, "That occurred more than once, but I have it completely under control. Wouldn't want your grandparents thinking I'm a deadbeat dad," he tried to joke.
A silence followed his words so he decided that he should go, but Hermione stopped him again.
"Harry?" she began uneasily.
"Thank you. I know I'm asking a lot, but you were the only person I could really trust," she said, wringing her hands.
Harry walked back to her, dropped his bag to his feet, and placed his hands on her shoulders. "It's really no problem, 'Mione. It's what friends do," he said.
Then he did something completely stupid.
He kissed her.
In his defence, he'd only meant to place a kiss on her cheek –but at the exact moment Hermione decided to turn her head. She stared back at him with surprise on her face and he mumbled an apology before grabbing his bag and practically running up the stairs.
Once he reached the landing, Harry groaned. He could have prevented the whole accidental kiss turning awkward if he hadn't run out the kitchen like a guilty boy caught with his hand in the cookie jar. So much for being a suave bachelor, he thought dryly.
Hermione sat frozen, her lips slightly parted. She was still completely shocked that Harry, her best friend, had kissed her. Technically, he hadn't meant to, but he had by accident - and though there was no tongue involved, it hadn't been a bad kiss as kisses went.
Okay, hold it right there, Granger! Where the hell did that crazy thought come from? she wondered, shaking her head to clear the cobwebs. Harry was her friend, and was doing her a favour he clearly didn't want to be doing- but because he was Harry, he agreed to it. So she shouldn't start jumping the gun.
Her doctor had warned her that her hormones might go haywire, and apparently they had if she was even thinking of Harry that way. Yet she'd be lying if she didn't admit that she had noticed how the years of Quidditch had done his body a favour. He really had grown into something some woman who was not his best friend and pregnant would appreciate.
And then the whole 'he should wear contacts thing' some women always went on about... Well, Hermione disagreed. The whole nerd-slash-completely-buff-god look really worked for Harry. Not that she noticed or anything.
Hermione finally stood up, placing a hand on her belly. She just had to remember that this was all a charade that would last a week at most. Thank Merlin that crush she'd developed on Harry in their 4th year had died a quiet death. It would be incredibly awkward right now.
"I shoved my bag in your trunk," Harry said, re-entering the kitchen, looking more collected. "You kept that thing?"
"Well, during my first years teaching at Hogwarts, I still used it," Hermione said, moving to the cabinets to take out the necessary ingredients to make dinner.
"Oh right," Harry said. "So, what you making for dinner?"
Hermione paused and glanced over her shoulder at him. "How does lasagne sound?" she asked.
"Sounds like food," Harry joked. "Haven't had a home cooked meal in a while so anything actually cooked and not microwaved sounds great to me."
"Lasagne it is then," Hermione said, turning back to the task at hand. She wondered why talking to Harry suddenly seemed so difficult. They'd been friends for such a long time; surely there was something they could talk about that had nothing to do with Voldemort and his insane plans to kill Harry?
"Need a hand?" Harry asked, though he was already walking up to her.
"You can cook?"
"Hermione, I spent the better part of my life as the Dursley's personal-chef-slash-housekeeper. I know my way around the kitchen," he answered, rolling his eyes.
Of course he did. She'd just assumed that like Ron, who didn't know a pot from a pan, Harry would be helpless in the kitchen. "Well then, can you prepare the sauce?" she asked, pouring the pasta into a pot.
"Apparently, you don't know this, but I'm a whiz in the kitchen," Harry said, throwing her a playful wink.
And just like that, the unease between them seemed to melt away. It was like old times again – well, when they weren't busy thinking whether or not they'd all be alive for their Seventh Year at Hogwarts. In companionable silence, they began to cook and after a while it was Harry who broke it.
"I'm glad we're doing this."
It could refer to their situation or to the cooking, but Hermione didn't really care much for particulars at that moment.
"Me too, Harry," she said.
End Note: I'm aware Hermione had her teeth fixed for the Yule Ball, but I don't have the heart to change Harry's thought here.