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       "The only normal people are the ones you don't know very well"
                                  - Joe Ancis

The initial shock was gone, thank Merlin. I had finally began to move on from Terry after about –cough–a month. Don’t give me that look; it’s a hard thing to accomplish when the boy you’re trying to get over was supposed to be proposing to you! Well, not really, I guess. But I was what Harry and Ron liked to call a ‘special case’. Now I don’t know if that was meant to be an insult or not the first time they said it . . . but I like to think it was said out of care and compassion. Then again, it is Harry and Ron.

It was Friday and Harry and I were blissfully walking to our last class of the day together, his hand wrapped protectively around my shoulders. He had become very, well, protective of me in the month following me and Terry’s break-up. Not that I was complaining. He was a great comic relief from the obviously apathetic situation. We walked to class together, ate lunch together, and even sometimes slept together on the common room couch when we were exhausted from studying. Yes, studying. I, Hermione Granger, had gotten Harry Potter to study; sometimes all night.

Ron was also very protective of me, but not as much as Harry was. But Ron had been quite busy with his girlfriend, Luna, so it was well understood.

We arrived in the dungeons together just as the bell had rung. Taking our seats we waited for Professor Slughorn to arrive in comfortable silence. But, of course, every silence has to have someone to ruin it. This time it was the always infuriating, Malfoy.

“That was a close call, Potter. Lost track of time in that broom closet, I suspect?” 

Harry turned around to where the slime ball was sitting behind us. Now, I have absolutely no idea why the ferret had chosen to sit so close to us when we began class on the first day. That is one of the many things I ponder at night when I can’t sleep. Okay, not really, but it still bugs me. 

“What’s the matter Malfoy, jealous?”

I heard a snort, “Hardly, like I would want to share a closet with the likes of Granger. Although . . . the summer has been quite nice to her, I have to admit. Tanned skin, lovely breasts–”

This caused me to turn around, infuriated. “Shut up ferret, if you know what’s good for you.”

“What are you gonna do, sock Potter on my ass?” Malfoy said.

“So what if she does? You and I both know I could kick your ass any day.” Harry replied.

Malfoy snorted, “Oh really?”

“Yeah, name a time and place and I’ll show you who the real man here is.”

Malfoy shivered in mock-fear “You’ve got me trembling in fear oh-mighty-hero.”

Harry snarled at him, “Good. Wouldn’t want you breaking a nail or anything.”
“My nails are perfectly intact, Potter.” 

I snorted. Sometimes Malfoy could be too full of himself to realize the difference between sarcasm and real-life threats. I heard the door shut ahead of us, so I immediately turned around and heard Harry and Malfoy do the same. 

“Sorry I’m late, had a bit of a mix up with some runaway mandrakes.”

I furrowed my brow as I heard Harry’s chuckle from beside me. I ignored the professor’s excuse and began to get out my supplies from my book bag beneath me. I felt a nudge on my shoulder and looked over at Harry, who was looking at me with one of his infamous innocent looks. “Can I borrow some of your ink?” I shook my head in amusement and answered with a curt “Yes.” Before we heard Slughorn speak up again.

“Now, I have a special treat for you today. Pop quiz!”

I heard the class all groan around me as I readied my quill. Slughorn passed out the parchment and I began to work on the quiz.

The rest of the period was uneventful, Harry and I met up with Ron after class and we all made our way to the Great Hall for dinner. We took our seats just as the food appeared on table. Ron, as usual, dug in as soon as he saw it. Typical. 

“So, Hermione, excited that Dumbledore passed that new proposition that we gave to him last week?” Harry asked.

I nodded my head as I began to fill my plate, “Merlin knows we needed those extra Hogsmeade trips.”

“Yeah . . . and I was wondering if you might, possibly would want to go with me?”
I choked on my piece of chicken. I began to cough rapidly as Harry patted my back. I swallowed the bit of chicken that was stuck in-between my air stream and took a deep breath. “What?” was all I managed to get out.

I heard Harry chuckle, “I meant to go shopping. Ron’s birthday is coming up after all.” He glanced at the ignorant red-head. He was too caught up in his food to notice the whole ordeal. Again, typical. “What did you think I meant?”

“O-oh, nothing . . . I just thought you meant, like, a date.”

Harry blushed a little bit. Why would he be blushing? He then began to laugh, causing me to laugh as well. But my laugh came out as more of a nervous chuckle rather than my normal way of expressing humor in the situation.

“Well, no. But would you like to go birthday shopping with me as friends?” I sensed the mocking present in his voice and I lightly punched him on his arm.

“Of course. But you really need to learn to re-phrase your offers; you had me scared there for a moment.” 

“Sorry. I’ll keep the image of you choking on that poor piece of chicken in my brain before asking you somewhere.”

“That’s all I ask.”

I looked back down to my food and found my apatite had ceased. Who knew that choking on a stray piece of chicken could spoil ones appetite? Oh, well. I’ll just blame Harry. That always seems to work out nicely.

Again, the rest of dinner passed by uneventfully. It seemed to be a very uneventful day. I collapsed onto my bed and seemed to fall asleep as soon as my head hit the pillows. It didn’t matter that I was still fully dressed, shoes and all. All that mattered was that I needed to be all rested up for my non-date-just-hanging-out-with-my-friend-thing with Harry. But the one thing that plagued my mind was why I choked on that piece of chicken . . .

~*~

I woke up blissfully. Yes, blissfully. The sun was pouring its rays through my window and I heard the birds chirping a happy tune. I think this was the first time I woke up with a smile on my face. I wiped the sleep boogers (yes, I still call them that) away from my eyes as I made my way to the bathroom. After showering and brushing my teeth I walked over to my closet and started contemplating what to wear. Ironically, I hadn’t taken this much time picking out something to wear since that eventful date with Terry.

I sighed.

Terry. I know I said that I was beginning to get over him, but I do still love him. He will always have a special place in my heart. And no, it is not just a phase. I settled upon a pair of light-wash jeans, a white, rather tight (if I do say so myself) white long-sleeve shirt, a light blue cardigan, and white flats. 

Walking down the stairs, I passed by a mirror. I took my hair tie from its place on my wrist and pulled my hair up into a messy ponytail. I skipped out on the make-up.  The Great Hall was already packed with early-risers ready to get on the carriages to go to Hogsmeade by the time I arrived; Harry and Ron were no exception. They were both already into deep conversation about something or another and eating the tall piles of food on their plates. 

They both greeted me with a curt smile and ‘G’mornin’ ‘Mione” each. I smiled when I saw that the food in their mouth began to spill out of their mouths. I sat down next to Harry and began to pick at some of the food.

“So, you ready for the shopping trip ahead of us, ‘Mione?” Harry asked me. 

I nodded as I swallowed my buttered toast. “I already have a few ideas on where to start.”

Harry groaned, causing me to look at his in confusion. “Not the new bookstore, ‘Mione . . . please spare me the aggravation.”

My eyes widened in surprise, “There’s a new bookstore?!” 

“Shit.” I heard Harry mutter as Ron began to laugh next to us.

“I was thinking we’d start at Honeydukes . . . but your idea is so much more appealing!”

I noticed that Harry began to bang his head on the table lightly, milk from his bowl of cereal splashing lightly on the table. I furrowed my brow slightly, “Are you alright, Harry?”

Harry lifted his head form the table slightly, “Of course, I’m absolutely peachy keen. Bloody perfect.”

I nodded my head, “Well you’re acting very peculiar.”

It was then Ron spit out his drink and began to laugh hysterically. I turned my head sharply at his outburst. What could possibly be so funny? “What’s so funny, Ron?”

He covered his mouth with his hand and wiped the drops of pumpkin juice that remained around his mouth. “Nothing.”

I looked from Harry to Ron and shrugged. They were both acting very odd today. But, I wouldn’t let it phase me. Today I was going to spend the day with Harry and it was going to be fun. Especially since there was a new bookstore open to explore. A silly grin broke out onto my face as I began to finish up the last of my breakfast.

The three of us made our way to the carriages in light conversation. When we finally arrived to the small town we made our way to the Three Broomsticks, as was tradition on all of our Hogsmeade trips. Madame Rosmerta already had our three butterbeers ready for us at our table. 

“So Ron, any plans for today?” Harry asked conversationally.

Ron finished his chug of butterbeer before answering, “The usual, hanging out with Luna.” Harry and I nodded our heads in turn. “What about you two?”

I felt another choking episode coming on, so I steered clear of taking a sip of my butterbeer and let Harry answer the question, “Me and ‘Mione are going on a little shopping trip.”

“Not buying me birthday presents already, are we Harry?” Ron teased.

“Oh no, just some school supplies . . . with a quick stop by the new bookstore.”

I stuck my tongue out playfully at Harry and he re-cooperated by mimicking my actions, except placing his tongue at an unmentionable place between his pointer and middle fingers. I didn’t even bother to scold him; all I did was laugh and roll my eyes. I’m pretty sure that Harry and Ron were confused from my actions, but I could care less.

“Well I’d better go and meet Luna.” Ron said as he started to get off of his stool.

“Yeah, we need to get going as well. Come one ‘Mione.” 

I nodded as Harry left our money and tip on the table. We both exited the bar and made our way towards the bookstore. I gasped at its size. The name on the bookstore read ‘Hogsmeade Bookstore’. How creative.

Harry and I entered, Harry very reluctantly. I dragged him in by the wrist and made my way towards where the novels were. I told him to go find some Quidditch books to use for the team. 

“Nah. I think I’ll just go get some soppy romance novel so I can read the steamy sex scenes.”

I rolled my eyes, “Good luck figuring out the Dewy Decimal System.” With that I walked away, but not before hearing him muttering, “Dewy Decimal System . . .?”

The shelves were over ten feet high, rolling ladders on each corner to help with searching. I didn’t know where to start, but I made a note to myself to be quick as to end Harry’s misery sooner rather than later. Then I wouldn’t have to hear him complain.

I scanned the author’s names and stopped when I found what she was looking for. I scanned the titles and picked up a few that I thought would suffice for now. The urge for wanting to stay was pulling me further and further towards the small reading area, but I knew Harry would probably looking for me already. When I turned to walk away from the comfy couches I caught a small tuff of ebony hair poking out from one of the chairs.

I walked around and gasped when I saw none other than Harry Potter sitting in the chair and . . . bear with me . . . reading a book. I stared at him, mouth open and books hanging limply at my arm. He must have sensed my presence behind him, as he turned around and smiled.

“Don’t act so shocked.”

I shook my head and re-focused my eyes. “Sorry, I didn’t think you had enough brain cells to comprehend reading . . .”

“Thank you for your kind words.”

I just smiled and began to walk away. He followed closely behind me and we made our way to the check-out counter. The witch who rang up our items didn’t hesitate to catch a glance at Harry’s scar. This did not go unnoticed by Harry; he winked at the witch and made her blush. I felt a surge of annoyance pass through me as I snatched the bags from the cashiers hand and walked out of the store. 

Harry, again, followed me out, obviously not noticing my change in mood. I kept my part of the deal and made my way towards Honeydukes. As we entered, I saw Harry’s face immediately lighten up as he made his way towards the shelves full of brightly wrapped candy. Now, I had been in here before, but I didn’t know my way around as much as Harry obviously did, so I followed after him.

I looked up towards the topmost shelf and saw a medium-sized basket filled with an assortment of candies. I reached up and found myself about two inches too short. I stretched my arm further upward and barely touched the wicker material of the basket when I felt a body press up against me and a hand surpass mine and grab the basket.

I turned around and saw Harry smile softly down at me. Don’t ask me why, maybe it was the butterbeer in my system or the close body proximity. I blushed and looked shyly down at the floor. 

“Thanks.” I muttered.

“No problem.” He said, holding up the basket close to his face and examining its contents. “This is a really good choice, how did you find it?”

“Oh, well I just saw it up there and wanted to see what was inside.”

“Well you have a very good eye for these things, ‘Mione. I think you just saved us about twenty minutes of fruitless searching.” He complimented.

“Well thank you, I do try.”

“Let’s ring this up and get outta here, then.” Harry suggested.

I nodded and followed him to the cashier. Luckily this one was an old man with a rather large mole on his forehead. I cringed and looked away. No chance of Harry flirting with him. Oh, god. Bad mental image there. Get out, get out!

“You okay?” I heard Harry ask.

“Oh! Yeah, yeah I’m fine.”

“Alright, if you say so . . .”

I nodded and made my way out of the crowded store. When Harry caught up with me I could have sworn I saw a flicker of dirty blonde hair in the crowd of people by us. My heart stopped as I saw Terry giving me the coldest look I have ever been given. It gave me shivers in down my spine. But what I was really thinking was why the hell he was giving me a dirty look. He had no right!

Harry saw me staring in Terry’s direction and suddenly turn away, obviously. When I turned back to him I gave a small smile and looked down at the dirt. “You know that offer to kill him still stands.”

I looked up slowly, “Yeah, but there are too many witnesses here.”

“This is true. I think we should corner him and the–”

“Shh!” I said as I put a finger to his mouth, “Like I said before . . . too many witnesses.”
He smiled against my finger, and as I was about to remove my finger he liked it. 

“Eww!” I exclaimed as I began to wipe my finger on my jeans. “You are truly 
disgusting.”

“And you are truly prude. You know you liked it.”

“No.”

“Well treasure the moment, sweetie. It’ll be the closest you’ll get to these lips again.” Harry said in a mock-Malfoy tone.

I giggled. Yes, giggled. “Very nice impression. Just dye your hair and you could give the real deal a run for his money.”

He looked affronted, “Dye this hair? You can’t be serious!”

“Oh I’m all about seriousness; you should know this by now.”

“This is true.”

“Come on, ego-boy, let’s go.” I grabbed his hand and began to lead him to Zongo’s Joke Shop. 

“That’s ego-man to you.”

We ended up buying Ron a few mediocre prank sets in the hour or so we spent in the joke shop. Harry and I made our way to the carriages with his hand once again resting lazily on my shoulder. We like to think of our day as a success, even though when I got back to my dorm room I couldn’t help the overwhelming thoughts rushing through my head. Seeing Terry, blushing. Success for buying Ron’s gifts, maybe. Success for sorting out my love life, not so much.

~*~


A/N: Woah! I didn't think I could write something else this quick. Almost as soon as Chapter 5 of 'In Fair Hogwarts' was validated I satrted writing this. I'm frankly very proud of myself. I finished this around 11 on a school night so I'm going to be very tired tomorrow and might just collapse during soccer practice. And it is all your fault! Haha, I'm just kidding. My friend lives on 5 hours of sleep per night (I don't know how he does it) so I don't have anything to complain about. I hope to have these fast of updates a lot more often, for both of our sakes! Please keep on R/Ring!! I love hearing your feedback!!

-Shar

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