Disclaimer: JK Rowling owns Harry Potter, I'm just playing with her characters.

Rated M for adult language and suggestive situations.

Through Butterbeer-Colored Glasses

The pale orange light emanating from the wall lantern next to him refracted through the soft amber beverage and the thick octagonal mug, throwing an intricate pattern of light and shadow over the rough-hewn bar table. Harry's finger danced lazily through the pattern as his foot tapped out a constant, familiar beat. He had long since outgrown the need for audible taps, of course, but he was nervous, and old habits die hard.

His aunt showered for five hundred thirty-six taps, every single day. He learned subtraction very quickly, because otherwise he wouldn't have known how long he had to squirrel away scraps of food on the weekends while the two whales had a lie-in. Ron never makes a move in less than seventeen taps unless it's checkmate. Hermione takes less than one tap to start answering any question you ask her.

Fucking Hermione. She didn't come with him, but then, she wouldn't, even if Ron weren't recovering in the Hospital wing right now. How many times must he be right before she would take him seriously? Another thing Harry had long since learned is that you can't close your eyes and wish a bad situation away. Well, maybe you can, but in his experience it took more than six years of nightly wishing before he found out he was a wizard, and he still had to go back every summer.

In any case, Madam Rosmerta never takes less than twenty-one taps to polish a single mug. It had taken seven mug cleanings before he had realized what was making him feel uneasy. It couldn't be simply nerves...he knew that for a fact. He doubted anything short of serving firewhiskey to Riddle himself could make her nervous, and even then he wouldn't bet against her.

The saloon style doors swung open to reveal Rosmerta carrying another two jugs of firewhiskey, and Harry's face darkened. Only thirty taps. He slammed three Sickles onto the table and took his mug to the bar.

"Sure you're in the right place, there—" a grizzled man trailed off as he took in the student's sickly green eyes trying to burn holes in his skull. Then the man's already bloodshot eyes flickered up to the infamous scar and he paled.

Harry didn't even acknowledge the mumbled apology and quick retreat of the other patron, instead surreptitiously eying the pleasantly curvy bartender over his sizable mug. Normally he cursed his below average height and the Dursleys for stunting his growth, but his small stature came in handy sometimes. Rosmerta wasn't a jovial woman even before Voldemort's return, but she was a gossip, and seeing her serving customers without so much as a word was really rankling him.

There was one last test. He tossed back his head and let the last of his butterbeer slide down his throat. Damn butterbeer...good for ickle firsties, perhaps, but right now it was too much sweet and too little heat.

He slammed the mug down on the other side of the bar, snapping Rosmerta's pale green eyes in his direction. A plethora of clashing emotions flitted across her face. Disgust, excitement, fear, anger. Even her usual sultry gait turned stiff as she made her way over. Wordlessly, she snatched his mug and reached for the tap, which was right in front of him. He planned that, of course.

Harry's voice dropped low. "When's your next break, Rosy?"

Her eyes snapped up to his and her mouth dropped open. When her expression once again refused to stay steady, he had all the proof he needed. He shot up off his stool and whipped his wand out like lightning.

"Somebody call the Aurors! Stupefy. Arresto Momentum."

"You know I'm going to say it," Harry said. His arms crossed over the latest edition of the Daily Prophet that covered his breakfast plate while a victorious smirk stretched across his face.

Hermione had the decency to look abashed, even though he could see that she wanted to say something exceedingly annoying like 'you could have gotten hurt' or 'the evidence was so flimsy, it could have been anybody.' He could hardly blame her for youthful naivety, but it still pissed him off to no end that that same kind of thinking is why ninety percent of the Death Eaters are walking free despite the mountain of 'flimsy' evidence against them.

Ron looked even more red than Harry expected, and suddenly he realized the reason behind his first friend's hesitance when he told them both of his suspicions. That fucker almost died because he refused to help, even though he must have known Harry's hunch about Draco was right. He refused to help because he was trying to get in Hermione's pants, even while he was snogging Lavender half the time!

His smirk faded, replaced by a cold rage that he only barely reigned in. "I fucking told you both. Gee, Hermione, I wonder if you realize the only reason Ron agreed with you? Maybe if I had somebody helping me, it wouldn't have taken one of my best friends almost dying to figure out how that fucking ferret was doing it!" He pounded the table with a fist and stood up to leave before they could say anything, actually feeling good that he took it so easy on them.

He walked straight to his dorm and grabbed his Cloak and his Map. He threw the Cloak over himself just in case Ron had chased him, and then crept away. Just before he reached the exit, he had to jump out of the way when the portrait swung open and Ron and Hermione dashed over to steps he'd just come down. At their desperate expressions he felt a pang of regret for his outburst at them, but he quickly smothered it. They fucking deserved it, making him feel like a nutter when at least one of them should have believed him and helped him. He would forgive them, of course, but he needed to get away from them for now.

Harry didn't think they knew where he was going, but he quickly made his way to the one-eyed witch statue anyway. "Dissendium." With a tap of his wand the hump on the statue spun open, and he darted through.

His eagerness to be away from his friends ebbed only to be replaced by eagerness to reach his destination. It took some willpower to stop and listen and then slowly open the hidden tunnel entrance in the cellar at Honeydukes. When he found the coast was clear, the dash continued all the way to the entrance of the Three Broomsticks, which he found locked. It wouldn't open until nearly lunch, of course, so he raised his fist.

Tap tap. Pause. Tap. Tap. Tap. Tap. The last four corresponded to the count in his head. The noise seemed to echo both through the largely deserted thoroughfare and the completely deserted pub, despite Harry being reasonably sure he didn't strike the door that forcefully. A faint bustle immediately preceded the door opening to reveal the closed pub, complete with chairs and stools resting upside down on the tables. He knew from his stay at the Weasleys that cleaning charms work without doing this, but Madam Rosmerta surprisingly insisted on doing it this way after visiting a number of Muggle pubs for ideas.

The door closed behind Harry, and he turned and pulled off his cloak with a smile. "Rosy..."

He didn't get any further before Rosmerta's soft, pink lips crashed into his own. He found himself crushed against the bar, back arched over it as the taller witch sought the comfort and pleasure he knew she needed after her ordeal. Her messy, sandy blonde curls tickled his face as her tongue twisted and tangled with his, so he snaked his right hand up her deliciously curvy front and brushed the strand to the back of her head, where he grabbed a fistful of her luscious hair that always smelled of honey and cedar. She moaned into his mouth as his left hand pulled her even closer.

Harry wasn't the most brilliant wizard when it came to women, but when her hand snaked down the front of his robe to take over the very pleasant sensations imparted by her muscular thigh, he finally realized she wasn't quite ready to talk yet...at least, not with words. But that was okay with him. Being under the Imperius Curse for so long might very well leave behind some kind of lasting damage, and he vowed he would be there for her. He would do anything she wanted...anything she needed to help the healing process.

He couldn't help it, not really...it's a saving people thing.


I had actually planned to write another scene from Rosmerta's PoV that detailed how Harry and Rosmerta first got together, and what happened when they actually did talk...with words, I mean. But I actually prefer that this leaves much of her character to the imagination, so I'm not too interested in taking it further myself.

The main reason for that is that this was written for Jormungandr's Challenge #3 on DLP...now if only I could remember my login information to tell him. Is it worth showing off?