Disclaimer: J. K. Rowling owns all characters and settings; the only thing I claim is the plot.
Special Disclaimer: Valve Corporation owns the Administrator, Miss Pauling and the Team Fortress 2 Universe
A/N: A brand new chapter, here's the obligatory shopping trip.
A/N 2: I would like to apologize for taking a month to update. Schoolwork got in the way, and my muse got chased away by a bad camping trip.
A/N 3: Currently unbeta'd, my beta has yet to get back to me.
While sitting in the backseat of the Grangers' car with Hermione next to him, Harry began to get some ideas. A car seemed to be the perfect form of transportation for him. It could outrun wizarding assailants, yet be inconspicuous in the muggle world. He was also pretty sure that he could charm the living daylights out of it. The Weasley's old Ford Anglia being one prime example.
"Hermione, what do you think of us buying a car?" Harry asked.
Hermione looked deep in thought for a few seconds before responding. "Honestly, Harry. You aren't even old enough to drive yet and you are already thinking of buying a car?" Hermione lightly scolded. She then changed her expression upon seeing Harry's discomfort. "I don't know, Harry. I'm pretty sure that the goblins can come up with something that appears to be a year old, and it isn't like it's hard to drive. Right, dad?"
"Of course, honey," Dan responded without looking back. "We wouldn't need to drive you around anymore."
"What type of car are you thinking of buying?" Emma inquired.
"I'm thinking about a large four door car; probably something like this one," Harry said, motioning at the Grangers' saloon. "Money isn't really a problem."
"I think a medium or large SUV is best for you. After all, it seems like you have a..." Emma coughed before continuing, "rather large family," Emma cautiously advised, and then turned to Dan. "How about you? What do you think?"
"Honestly, I think you should buy a pickup truck. You know, one of those really large Ford trucks." Dan said, gesturing at a large truck that just passed them.
"Why don't we focus on the smaller things first, before tackling buying a car?" Hermione sweetly suggested, cuddling onto Harry. She would require significant convincing before she would allow Harry to buy a truck. What was her dad thinking?
"Yeah, I've got enough things on my mind," Harry replied.
After several moments of relative silence, Dan spoke up. "Son, if you want, we can go visit the dealership I bought this car from later."
Harry recognized that Daniel Granger finally recognized him as a son, and smiled in gratitude before excitedly replying, "That'd be great!"
The rest of the ride to Harrods was mostly uneventful aside from an encounter with an obviously drunk black man on the side of the road. He was dressed in a kilt and holding a whiskey bottle and flashing passing cars. Harry and Hermione took the chance to sneak several kisses in the back while her parents were distracted by the hideous sight.
Upon their arrival at a parking space near Harrods, Harry helped Hermione out of the car and stood back, facing the grand store. Harry was stunned; his expression was akin to his first sight of Diagon Alley with Hagrid.
"Wow." Harry was rendered almost speechless, with only one word coming out of his mouth. Hermione tugging on his arm served for him to regain his motor ability.
"C'mon Harry! Let's go get you some new clothes!"
"Sure, but buy some things for yourself as well," Harry said.
"Oh, I will, Harry, I will," Hermione said seductively, running her hands over her body. "I still need to pick out some swimsuits for our vacation later this summer. Would you help me pick them out?" Hermione asked innocently.
"You minx!" Harry responded, before Hermione started moving him towards the store.
Harry's blood rushed south as he was dragged into the shopping center. He was struggling to keep his problem from being noticeable. Hermione's parents followed them, chuckling at Harry's embarrassment in Emma's case, and a half-hearted sigh in disapproval from Dan.
"You know what? I'm going to stop trying to intimidate him," Dan grudgingly declared. "Anyone can see the obvious love between them."
"Nice of you to finally realize it," Emma said dryly. "Now, I think both of us need new swimsuits, don't we?" she joked.
As Harry and Hermione arrived in the foyer of Harrods with Dan and Emma not far behind, Harry gawked at the majestic displays as Hermione attempted to hurry him into the closest clothing store.
"A proper tux first, and then we'll see about the others."
"Alright honey," Harry said as he was ushered toward a bespoke clothing counter.
"Hello, my name is Samantha. How can I help you today?" The well-dressed young woman sitting at the counter greeted.
"Hello Samantha, my boyfriend needs a new suit, several in fact." Hermione responded for Harry, who just nodded along with his arm around her waist.
"Why don't we start with fabrics then," Samantha said as she grabbed a clipboard and got up.
As Samantha got up, Harry could see that Samantha was attractive for her age. She looked to be in her mid to late twenties and dressed accordingly. Samantha led the two over to a shelf of different fabrics. The Grangers caught up just as they started to move along the aisle.
Dan appeared to recognize Samantha, "Hey Samantha, how are you?"
"Hello Dan, I'm fine. Are you here to buy a suit, or just to chat me up?" Samantha teased.
"You know I'd never do that," Dan denied, "Not with my wife here at least." He laughed, earning him a firm thump on the arm from Emma. "I'm just here to shop with my future son-in-law," explained Dan while motioning at Harry and Hermione.
"Oh, I see," Samantha said. Emma could have sworn she looked disappointed for a second, but she decided to brush it off.
Meanwhile, Hermione was going through all of the fabrics on display while Harry pretended to look interested, as he really had no idea about clothes. All of them felt the same to him! However, Hermione could tell the difference, and realized that this was the entry-level section.
"Excuse me, Samantha," Hermione called out, getting the attention of Samantha, "I hate to blunt, but can you show us to the, more exquisite, section? Money is no object today."
"Of course, my mistake, please follow me," Samantha quickly apologized, personally elated over the commission she would be earning. She led then over to a shelf further back in the shop, here the quality was much higher, and the prices jumped accordingly.
"I would recommend this flannel. It's currently in vogue right now." Samantha suggested.
"That sounds good," Hermione agreed, "I was thinking more along the lines of something timeless though, he needs both a formal suit and a tuxedo."
"Why not both, in both fabrics?" Harry asked.
"Are you sure Harry?" Hermione asked back. "I mean, it is a lot of money."
"Hermione, don't worry about it, it's the first time I'm buying things for myself." Harry responded, smiling at Hermione.
"Great!" Hermione exclaimed. She began gathering a list of potential fabrics, showing each to Harry as she selected them.
In the end, Hermione chose two fabrics, one wool and one flannel, which both met with her parents' and Harry's approval. They then moved onto style selection, and Hermione picked out several sample cuts for Harry to try. Harry disappeared off into the changing room as Hermione turned to Samantha.
"How long would it take, we would like to finish all our shopping today," Hermione asked politely.
"We have an express service for 'preferred' customers. It will be ready in three hours." Samantha said.
"That's great! Now do you guys do dresses as well?" Hermione inquired, looking for something to surprise Harry with.
"Just follow me, now, what kind of dresses were you looking for…"
Harry and Hermione ended up leaving the store several thousand pounds lighter and a couple receipts heavier. Hermione had promised to model her purchases for him later in private, something that Harry was inherently happy about.
They made a general clothing store their next stop. Hermione and Emma immediately rushed the aisles, intending on building Harry a whole new wardrobe. Helen mentally smirked at the sight as Harry stood there helpless against the onslaught of two of the women in his life. Dan just stood there and laughed at his despair.
"Son, just agree to whatever they say, a few 'yes dear's will help a lot here," advised Dan.
"Thanks Dan," Harry replied.
A little while later, Harry wasn't sure if he could survive this. The ladies just put him through three trips to the changing room, and were "just getting started" according to Hermione. Their cart was already starting to fill up with shirts, pants and everything in between. They attracted many stares from both fellow shoppers and store attendants, due to the amount they were buying.
Harry sighed, figuring that if he was condemned to this, he might as well enjoy it. Soon enough, he was ushered into the changing room with an armload of clothes. Hermione firmly reminded him of his fate.
"Don't forget to model!"
Harry soon came out later wearing the first ensemble of his new wardrobe. It consisted of a pair of brown trousers and a black polo shirt that set off his eyes nicely. After meeting with Hermione and Emma's approval, he popped back in to change into his next outfit. Following that, he reappeared in a tight light green shirt and a pair of jeans that fit just right. This was repeated for what Harry thought was an eternity until the women finally spared him and told him to take a break.
As Harry got a drink from a nearby water cooler, Hermione went to the cashier with a few discreet packages. Harry saw that out of the corner of his eye and caught her attention. A simple smile and a raised eyebrow from her told him all he needed to know. Harry was quite sure he would receive a private demonstration later. Dan was oblivious to all this, as his wife had just dragged him into the changing room for some demonstrations of her own.
"A little something I picked up for myself," Hermione needlessly explained as Harry wearily made his way to her. "Trust me, you'll like it."
"You look beautiful no matter what you wear love." Harry assured Hermione.
"Aww, that's so sweet," the cashier commented, earning a raised eyebrow from Harry. Hermione passed over her card with a chuckle. As the cashier rang the order through, Hermione signed for her card with a flourish and placed the bag beside Harry's clothes.
"Harry, would you like to help me pick out my swimsuit? While they are, umm, occupied?" Hermione asked innocently.
"Gladly, I wouldn't want my girlfriend to be stuck in the predicament of having nothing to wear." Harry responded in the same fashion.
"You know Harry, there is something every man should have a lot of," Helen mentioned as they came out of the clothing section, with all their purchases paid for.
Harry replied in the same fashion, "And what might that be, Helen?"
"Hats, lots of them, in every shape and size," Helen concluded.
"Great, another thing to buy," complained Harry.
"Now if you look to the right, you'll see a store called Mann Co." Helen suggested, "They have the best hats, period."
Harry, unsure of Helen's sanity, decided to take a gander. After all, not everyone lusted after owning many hats.
Of course, he wasn't at all prepared when he entered the store. Nine oddly lifelike models stood at the front of the store, every single one of them wearing a ridiculous combination of hats and miscellaneous items.
"Welcome to Mann Co. where the finest hats are sold!" Helen introduced enthusiastically.
Hermione followed Harry into the store, and was now slack jawed at the sheer craziness of some of the hats. Most of them are structurally unstable while some are downright dangerous.
Harry decided to answer the unasked question when Hermione began to softly tug at his arm, "Helen asked me to come here, and I didn't know it would be this."
"Well, in that case, we'd better stay. But I think Fred and George would be right at home here."
"Or maybe even Dobby!" Harry laughed, and then realized something, "Oh, Dobby." At the perked eyebrow from Hermione, Harry elaborated, "He helped me a lot in the last timeline, I don't know about this time around though. Maybe we should hire him!"
It seemed that Hermione did not get past a certain stage of her life, "But Harry, you can't, you'll be exploiting him!"
"I see that your 'friend' still thinks about her little organization." Helen said, "Now, have you ever wondered why Winky was wasting away in the former timeline?"
"Umm, no, not really, we always thought it was because of her treatment under Crouch."
"Here's the deal, and when Hermione asks, lie." Helen began, "House elves must draw magic from some source to survive. A majority of that source comes from their so-called master. Now, a site with high ambient magic, like Hogwarts, can help provide some of their required magic, but not all. Do you get what I'm saying Harry?"
"So a house elf like Dobby, must be bound to someone to survive?"
"Yes, and in his case, he bound himself to you after you made Malfoy free him."
"And similarly, Winky wanted to be bound to you, but she never officially expressed the thought. Dobby was simply acting unusual when you freed him."
"What you are saying, is that Winky was too ashamed from being dismissed so as to never contemplate the thought of being bound to me."
"Great Harry, nice to know you can actually think!" Helen said sarcastically. "Now, go tell your future wife before she gets mad!"
"Hermione, it's, it's not like that. Please, let me explain," Harry pleaded, "House elves need to be bound to a wizard in order for them to survive."
"But, it's wrong, you'll be enslaving them!"
"Look dear, Helen just told me this. House elves draw their magic from their masters. A place like Hogwarts can only provide so much, and they, they slowly die." Harry said softly as he drew Hermione closer to him. "Now, we'll pay him and treat him well and everything."
This served to calm Hermione down slightly, but she gave him a 'this is not over' look. "Fine, but we need to leave everything up to them."
"Alright love. Now, let's go buy some hats," Harry said, pausing for a second and pointed to something that looks like as if it was on fire. "That's supposed to be a hat, right?"
The pair did not notice a salesman standing in a dark corner, "Of course that's a hat!" He said scornfully. "That's one of our more unusual hats. It's a burning Team Captain! It can be yours today for only six thousand pounds!"
"Oh just bugger me!" Harry needlessly exclaimed.
"Sorry," Harry apologized before turning to the salesman, "Do you have any normal hats?"
"What! That hat is a perfectly good hat!" Helen complained.
"It's bloody burning!"
"Dare you repeat that to Hermione?"
The salesman looked appalled for a second, but quickly recovered, "Follow me, please. My name is Jake by the way."
"Nice to meet you Jake, my name's Harry."
"And I'm Hermione."
"It's nice to meet you guys, what sort of hats were you looking for?"
"I have no idea," Harry replied.
"Nothing too crazy," Hermione added, "But unique enough to stand out."
"Over here, we have some of our more formal hats," Jake introduced.
Harry and Hermione, along with Dan and Emma, spent the next hour or so trying on many different hats. To the astonishment of Harry, the burning hat, was not really burning, it was just a really fancy pyrotechnic effect. Some of the hats looked downright physically impossible, but Jake explained that they were held up by some special glue and 'special tactics'.
"Now, here I have one of our classier hats," Jake said while holding up a chapeau-like hat surrounded by green flames, "It's a scorching Killer Exclusive, can be worn by everyone to all occasions."
"It does look great, how much is it?" Harry inquired.
"A thousand five hundred pounds, relatively cheap for its class," Jake replied.
"That's outrageous!" Dan exclaimed, appalled by the price.
"That's because it is almost unique, they are only sold here and are obtained very rarely. And besides, it looks cool." Jake calmly explained.
"I think it would look great on you, Hermione." Harry said. Jake than offered the hat to Hermione, who reluctantly agreed that she did look good with it.
"But, Harry, I don't want you to spend all your money on me!" Hermione said.
"Love, I never had anyone to spend it on before, just let me do this?" Harry said while looking straight into Hermione's eyes.
Hermione instantly made her decision, "Who can resist those eyes!" That thought ran through her mind as she spoke, "Alright Harry, but you buy yourself something too."
"Sir, I think I have the perfect hat for you." Jake said, holding out a stovepipe-like hat that had smoke billowing out from it.
Dan and Emma had just entered the store, Emma immediately screamed in fear with Dan echoing her. "BLOODY HELL! YOUR HATS ARE ON FIRE!"
"As I was saying, this here is a smoking Stout Shako, only sixty pounds today."
"Hermione, what the hell is going on?"
"We're buying hats dad." Hermione dryly summarized.
"They are expensive, but they do look good," Harry added.
The odd looking quartet exited the mall feeling refreshed by the iced tea that they picked up, but also pretty tired. Carrying multiple large bags and wearing abnormal hats were not good for anyone's deposition. Harry felt relieved that his torture was over, although he was upbeat about it all. Seeing the smile on Hermione's face made it worth it to him. Dan had his mind on something else though as they loaded up into the Granger's car.
"Now son, ready to see about buying a car?"
"Yes Dan!" Harry responded excited, Hermione merely huffed beside him.
"Honestly Dan, I don't know, Hermione, what do you think?"
"As some people said, there's something about a truck." Hermione said, "Although those same 'people', also said there's something about beers and girls."
"And here I was thinking I still had to convince you to buy a truck," Harry remarked.
"Of course I still need convincing," Hermione mock glared at Harry, "But a bit less than before," She laughed. "Now, it doesn't really matter what we buy, I think we can charm the living daylights out of it anyways."
"Whatever we do, I don't want another flying car," Harry stated, "Crashing one of them into a crazy tree is enough."
Dan fiddled with the audio unit a bit and stuck in a CD, soon a soulful guitar tune played out of the speakers.
Somethin' bout a truck in a farmer's field
A no trespass sign, and time to kill
Nobody's gonna get hurt, so what's the big deal
Somethin' bout a truck in a farmer's field
Somethin' bout beer, sittin' on ice
After a long hard day, makes it taste just right
On that dropped tailgate, on a summer night
Somethin' bout beer sittin' on ice
And there's somethin' bout a girl in a red sun dress
With an ice cold beer pressed against her lips
In that farmers field, will make a boy a mess
There's somethin' bout a girl in a red sundress
And there's somethin' bout a kiss that's gonna lead to more
On that dropped tailgate back behind the corn
The most natural thing you've ever felt before
There's somethin' bout a kiss that's gonna lead to more
(Somethin' Bout a Truck, Kip Moore)
A/N: Thanks for reading, sorry about the late update again. The next one will be on time around the weekend, hopefully.
A/N 2: I have never actually been to Harrods, let alone England, so please excuse any mistakes.
A/N 3: Due to the sheer length of this, I've decided to split it into two chapters.