Chapter One- "You want me to do what?"
Harry's eyes were fixed at the point, his mind only on his aim. This was life and death; a simple mistake could destroy him forever. With one last deep breath, he shouted the spell and watched carefully…cursing when his best mate fell to the floor laughing, and his crumpled up piece of paper missed the point on the wall entirely.
"Take a shot, Harry!" Ron said, his laughter nearly making his words unintelligible. And being drunk didn't help matters either.
"Oh, shut it," Harry muttered, taking a shot of firewhiskey, barely feeling the burn anymore. That had stopped many shots ago. When Ron just laughed again, Harry kicked him. "Now your turn. Think you can do better?" Ron rolled his eyes.
"Watch a master at work," he muttered, pointing his wand at his crumpled up piece of paper and taking aim. However, before he could do anything else, the doorbell rang, causing them both to groan. "Ignore it, Harry," Ron said with a shake of his head.
"It might be Luna."
"Oh, Merlin, I hope not." Harry chuckled lightly, but stood up and went to the door of his flat, opening it slightly. He immediately had to shield his eyes from the glare of the sun, but he didn't need to see to know who was at his doorstep.
"Drunk again? It's only one o'clock!"
"Go away, Hermione," he answered wearily. He had heard this conversation before—several times, in fact—and he wasn't keen on hearing it again. But she just ignored him, pushing her way into his flat, giving Ron a disgusted look before turning back at him.
"You're playing that stupid game again, aren't you?" she asked bossily, much like a first year version of herself. He could almost see her in her Hogwarts robes, her hands on her hips, admonishing them for nearly getting her killed—or worse, expelled. However, the image faded as soon as it came, and Harry grinned at her.
"Don't know what you mean," he said, his grin fading when her eyes narrowed.
"Really? So you two nitwits aren't trying to throw a paper ball at a tiny dot on a wall that's across the room, knowing full well that you will miss, which just gives you an excuse to get drunk? You're not playing that game?" She glared at him.
"Oh, you mean that game," Ron said from his spot on the floor. Hermione turned to Ron, frowning at him.
"Luna came to see me. She wanted to know where you are. Said she hopes you're not with Harry, because if you are, she's going to make you wish you had never been born." Ron's eyes widened, but Harry felt rather annoyed.
"What's that supposed to mean?" he asked just as Ron spoke:
"You didn't say anything, right?" he asked hurriedly, getting to his feet clumsily. Hermione rolled her eyes at Ron before turning back to Harry.
"She doesn't think you're a good influence on him. Which, honestly, is rather odd because we all always assumed that it would be the other way around. But, really Harry? What did you expect?" Harry looked at Hermione for a moment and then sighed. With a wave of his wand, he began to feel his head clear a bit, and without another word, he left the living room and headed towards the kitchen.
Hermione watched as Ron left Harry's flat in record time, all the while thinking.
Seven years had passed since Voldemort's demise, and things had changed quite dramatically in that time period. Ron was engaged to Luna, their wedding date sometime in the fall. The once obnoxious and insensitive redhead had grown up; he worked with George in the joke shop, and spent any free time he had helping out the Ministry in any way he could. After all, even though seven years had passed, there still was a great deal to get done.
Hermione, on the other hand, had a rocky start. Unlike Ron who had pushed the war completely behind him, she had suffered. She couldn't walk down the street without her hand on her wand, she always feared some sort of attack—even sleeping had become a difficult task. A great deal of guilt suddenly filled her as she remembered how she got over all of that in the first place.
He spent every waking moment with her for the first two years after Voldemort's death. When she needed to go out, he was there, muttering calming words to her to ease her worry. And at night, when she didn't feel safe enough to sleep, he swore he'd stay awake and keep watch. It took months—years—but soon enough her paranoia ebbed, the dreams came less frequently, and sleeping became as easy as shutting her eyes.
Soon, she didn't need Harry's presence to feel safe, and she went to work, turning things that had once only been dreams into reality. She worked on house-elf rights, began weeding out corruption in the Ministry, became the youngest person to ever Head a department, and even began working on the prejudices against muggleborns. And while she had accomplished a great deal, she knew she had so much more to do—so much to do that she had practically abandoned the person who got her back on her feet in the first place.
As for Harry, well, he seemed to have lost that gleam in his eyes—the one he had when they discovered the Philosopher's Stone was in Hogwarts, or when he had finally defeated Voldemort. He became empty, lost all interest in working as an Auror, and hid away, drinking himself into a stupor. And the worst part of all that was Hermione didn't know how to help her best friend.
She winced as she turned to look at the door to the kitchen. She was presuming too much, coming here and asking for his help when she had given him none. But she hadn't known what else to do. He had always been the person she could fall back on. When she and Ron had broken up—a mere two weeks after the battle—she had turned to Harry for comfort. And when she had gone to Australia to bring her parents back—only to find that they didn't want to come back—he had gone with her, refusing to let her go alone. While she'd never admit aloud, Hermione had desperately wanted him to come anyway. It was why she hadn't put up any sort of fight.
But now here she was, once again turning to Harry when she was in trouble. Though she felt guilty, though she didn't know how to ever repay him for everything he'd done, she couldn't deal with this issue on her own.
She needed him, her best friend, not this empty shell of a man that he had become. Perhaps if he actually put his mind to something the drinking would stop, and he'd start leaving his flat again. Maybe, just maybe, she could convince him to see reason—to see that he was throwing his entire life away…
She sighed, feeling selfish. She wasn't here to make him see reason. She was here because she needed his help. Sighing again—and feeling sick with herself—Hermione walked into the kitchen, hoping that he'd help her.
"Hermione, I'm really not in the mood for a lecture, so if you don't mind—" Harry began, only to be cut off by Hermione waving her hand impatiently.
"I'm not here to lecture you. I'm here because I need to ask you a favor. One that would require you to live with me for a period of time." She looked hopefully at him, and Harry realized she was waiting for an answer. He leaned back in his chair, his hands on the table. On the other hand, Hermione seemed too nervous to want to sit.
"Yeah, sure. What d'you need me to do?" For a moment, it didn't look like Hermione wanted to answer, but then she flung her arms in the air and cursed.
"My parents are coming home!" she said loudly, her voice full of…fear?
"That's a good thing, right?" Harry asked, unsure why Hermione seemed upset over something she had hoped for.
"Well, yes. But no, not really." She paused and gave him a shrug. "I did something stupid." At her words, Harry laughed, tears forming at the corner of his eyes.
Hermione Granger doing something stupid? He didn't think such a thing was possible. Merely the way she said it, as if it was some sort of death sentence, proved that it wasn't possible. She was too careful, too meticulous to ever do anything stupid.
"Oh, stop it, Harry. I'm serious! I did something stupid and I need your help."
"Alright, then. What'd you do?" Hermione winced.
"Well, you see, my parents started thinking, and they didn't like the fact I was a single young woman, living alone…silly things like that." Harry nodded, not quite sure where this was going, but he did feel this dread build up in his stomach. Somehow, he didn't think he'd like what was coming. "So, I may have said something in the heat of the moment, trying to make them understand I was perfectly fine."
"What did you do, Hermione," Harry asked, suddenly wishing he hadn't cast that Sobriety Charm on himself.
"I told them I was in a serious relationship, thus, I wasn't alone." Harry laughed, his worry washing away. This wasn't too bad. Actually, it was quite funny.
"You lied to your parents," he chuckled. "You haven't had a serious relationship since—well, I can't quite recall any serious relationships. Do you still write Krum?" Hermione's eyes narrowed.
"I've had plenty of relationships!" she protested, causing Harry to laugh again.
"Yes, perhaps with your job in the Ministry, but not with a person." He laughed again, ignored Hermione's not-so-happy look, and leaned forward. "So, what're you going to when your parents get here and there's no boyfriend?"
"There will be a boyfriend," Hermione said softly. Harry gave her a puzzled look before it dawned on him. "I need you to pretend to be my boyfriend while my parents are here for the next two weeks." Harry blinked.
"You want me to do what?"
"Don't be so dramatic," she said hurriedly, sitting down in the seat across from him, an anxious look on her face. "I know it's silly, and it's the last thing you want to do, but I didn't know what else to do!"
"How about telling them the truth?" Harry asked. Hermione waved her hand impatiently.
"No, I couldn't do that," she muttered. She looked straight into his eyes, obviously searching for his answer.
"So, how's this going to work, then?" he asked, wondering if he'd regret this later.
Two things in particular bothered him. One, he wasn't sure how Ron would react. His relationship with Hermione had always been somewhat rocky, and that hadn't changed after leaving Hogwarts. Even now, the two of them got into fights over the smallest things. Yet, despite that, Ron was also fiercely protective of Hermione. Harry worried that the redhead would come after him if he somehow botched this up.
The second thing that worried him was how little privacy he had since Voldemort's defeat. He didn't want Hermione to have to deal with nosy reporters like he did. It was why he had left the Ministry in the first place.
Harry sighed, wondering if Hermione knew what she was getting herself into, and if he had any idea either.
Woot, new story! This will be short—not at all like my Lily/James story. It totally ignores the epilogue, but everything else is based off the books. It's set seven years after Voldemort's death, so Harry's twenty-four years old.
Let me know what you think!