"That's all for today's class. Remember to complete your assignments! Just because it's Valentine's weekend doesn't mean you can skive off your studies!"
"Okay, Professor Chase!"
"You got it, Professor!"
"Have a nice day!"
Professor Annabeth Chase smiled as she watched her students leave. After they all had exited, she rounded to her desk and began grading their assignments. She'd only been working for a few minutes when she heard the sound of footsteps approaching.
"Hermione, hello," she greeted warmly.
The bushy haired girl smiled. "Hello, Professor Chase. I was wondering if you had a bit of time to explain this concept to me?"
"Of course," Annabeth responded. "Please, take a seat. What can I do for you?"
The two spent the next half hour discussing human transfiguration, a topic that had not been introduced to their sixth year class yet. But Hermione Granger was ever the overachiever.
"Did you understand all that?"
"Yes, Professor," Hermione said, standing up and gathering her textbook. "Thank you."
"One more thing, Hermione," the blonde Professor said, smiling a little. "What are your plans for this weekend? Seeing anyone special?"
Hermione blushed. "Oh, no! I'm not really one for that sort of thing."
"Forgive me," Annabeth chuckled a little and a teasing look crossed her face. "Well, I notice you spend a great deal of time with Mr. Potter. I can't help wondering if…"
Hermione's blush intensified, becoming flustered, and her gaze flitted around. "No! I mean he's—Harry and I are just friends, that's it!"
Annabeth wore a knowing smile. "Sorry, my husband must be rubbing off on me."
"Professor Jackson is quite brilliant," Hermione said, relieved that the attention was off of her.
"He's kind of an idiot actually," Annabeth replied fondly. "Is he actually teaching you guys anything in DADA or just telling the jokes the entire time?"
"A bit of both, to be honest," Hermione told her, the corners of her mouth twitching upward.
Annabeth burst out laughing and Hermione joined in.
Professor Chase's name was actually Annabeth Jackson, but to avoid confusion she had the students call her by her maiden name. She was married to the Defence Against the Dark Arts Professor, Percy Jackson. The two were complete opposites in so many aspects, but they understood each other in a way no one else could. She had seen it in their interactions—they brought out the best in one another.
"Well, if you have no other plans, I was wondering if you could help me with something?" Annabeth asked, looking at her sheepishly.
She nodded. "Of course, Professor."
"I'm planning a surprise dinner for my husband tomorrow night. He never fails to do something for me but I have to take care of some unprecedented work—"
"You want me to set it up?" Hermione asked.
"If it's not too much trouble, of course."
"I'd be delighted to, Professor. Consider it done."
Annabeth let out a relieved sigh. "You're a lifesaver, Hermione."
◆ ◆ ◆
Hermione walked into the common room, scribbling on a piece of parchment. She weaved around passing students with a practiced ease and sat down in her normal spot, assuming it was empty as usual.
She jolted when a yelp sounded from behind her. She had sat on someone!
"Oh, I'm sorry, Harry!" Hermione stammered out, embarrassed. "I didn't see you there."
Harry laughed as he got up, giving her the seat. "Clearly."
She turned her attention back to her list, trying to add more things she could do
"What are you working on?" He asked, nodding towards the parchment.
"Oh… I don't know if I should say…"
Harry was rather close to Professor Jackson. The man was practically Harry's older brother—he certainly acted that way—and she didn't want Professor Chase's surprise to be ruined.
Harry's curiosity grew. "Oh, come on. You won't tell your best friend?"
She smiled slightly as she continued jotting down ideas and things she'd need to set up a perfect dinner date for her two favorite professors. They deserved the best and that's what she'd give them. Though Hermione wasn't sure if she was the best person for this sort of thing.
I'm not entirely sure how to go about this, Hermione thought, glancing over at Harry. He was currently very occupied watching a snitch float above his face as he lay down on the sofa next to her.
"I'm planning a date," Hermione finally said.
Harry felt his shoulders stiffen and forced his face to remain neutral, adorning what he hoped was a friendly smile. He sat up and looked over at her.
"Who's the lucky guy?" He asked through gritted teeth.
"Professor Jackson," she responded amiably.
Harry recoiled, incredulous. "What?! You're going on a date with Percy?"
"No!" Hermione laughed out, shaking her head. "I wish, though. Have you seen how gorgeous he is?"
The whiplash from her question left Harry dumbfounded. There were far too many things wrong with what she just said. An ugly feeling began to bubble in the pit of Harry's stomach as he thought of what to say.
"I'm kidding, you prat! Honestly, Harry," she scoffed, shoving his shoulder. "But anyway, I could use your help."
He let out a relieved sigh. "Of course. What's up?"
"Um, nevermind. You probably have a date planned…" She trailed off, biting her lip.
Harry regarded her with an expression that silently asked, 'really?' and then gave a short laugh, denying her ridiculous notion.
She hid a smile and relayed her thoughts. "Okay, so Professor Chase is surprising Professor Jackson with a dinner date for Valentine's Day. She gave me some ideas and here's what I have planned so far…"
◆ ◆ ◆
Annabeth couldn't contain her giddiness. "This is going to be so great!"
"I'm not surprised she already knew about the Room of Requirement," Percy replied, smiling at seeing his wife so happy.
She smirked. "I'm not questioning why; Hermione knows to keep Harry in line. Ron too."
"Reminds me of when you, Grover, and I were in school," Percy sighed, nostalgic. "Good times."
She smiled. "I had to save your arses every time you two managed to rope yourselves into something."
"Maybe I did those things on purpose so you'd spend more time with me," he replied slyly.
She scoffed and playfully bumped his shoulder with hers. Percy did the same and it quickly turned into a shoving match. As they turned a corner, Annabeth shoved Percy particularly hard, causing him to fall. He grabbed her arm on the way down and they collapsed in a pile of limbs on the floor.
They stared at each other for a second before falling into a fit of laughter.
"You better not have said anything to Harry, Seaweed Brain," Annabeth threatened, jabbing her husband's arm as they walked down the corridors.
Percy laughed and wrapped an arm around her waist. "There isn't really much to say. Have a little faith in me, Wise Girl."
She leaned into his embrace and smiled. "Repeat the plan back to me anyway. I need to make sure."
"The plan," he started, stopping her from walking and embracing her from behind. He rested his head in the crook of her neck and pressed a light kiss to her jaw. "Is that we… should go back to our room and…"
"And what?" She asked breathily, turning her head to give him easier access.
He let go of her and continued walking. "And start grading these papers. Why did I finally decide to assign an essay?"
"You can't be serious," Annabeth deadpanned, rushing to catch up to him.
"No, I really did. You know I've been thinking, why can't wizards just use paper? Parchment has this weird smell."
◆ ◆ ◆
Hermione was frantically pacing around the Room of Requirement.
She wanted this to be absolutely perfect for her favorite two professors, but their plans always had a habit of going awry. Where is he?! she thought, panicking.
Harry was supposed to be here already with the food she had ordered. It was an Indian cuisine from a restaurant she and her parents had gone to many times. The food there was amazing and she had heard from Professor Chase that Professor Jackson loved spicy food.
"Hermione, you in here?"
She turned around and felt immediate relief seeing Harry approaching her with the containers of food.
"Harry! Where have you been?" She asked, running over to him and taking one of the containers.
"The delivery guy couldn't find me—what are the odds you found a muggle restaurant run by magical folk?"
"Never mind that. Help me set up the table, it's almost time for them to arrive!"
The restaurant was indeed run by a chef who was also a witch. Hermione had found this out after her third visit there when she had accidentally seen the head chef, Lakshata, using magic to clean the tinware and cutlery. So whenever she ordered takeout from that restaurant, the food would always come with a preservation charm so it remained hot.
Hermione watched as Harry opened the containers and expertly set up a plate. The proportions were appropriate and elegantly displayed much like a meal from a restaurant would be. It's like he's done this before, Hermione thought.
"That's perfect, Harry," she complimented, sheepishly chuckling when she looked at the plate she made. "I'm honestly a little surprised you know how to do this so well."
Harry looked a little uncomfortable. "Oh, um, I've had some… practice."
Regret instantly flooded through her when she caught on to what he meant.
She grabbed onto his wrist and squeezed softly. "I'm so sorry, Harry. I didn't mean to—"
"It's fine, Hermione," he said, waving it off with a tight smile. "Come on, let's finish this and get out of here before they show up."
She did as he said but an underlying feeling of anger rose in her at the thought of the Dursleys. Harry had enough to deal with without them, but their incessant prattling and mistreatment must've been unbearable for him.
She reluctantly handed her plate over to him to fix, and once the table had been fully set up, coupled with candles and two glasses of wine with the bottle on the side, the two moved to a dark corner of the room behind some furniture where they had a perfect view of their handiwork. (Hermione wanted to see the look on Professor Jackson's face.)
The table was positioned so the moonlight from the large window would cast its light on the couple maintaining a dim, intimate setting. Unfortunately, technology didn't work at Hogwarts or else Hermione might've played some music too.
"Oh, I'm so excited, Harry," she nearly squealed.
Harry looked over at her and his face softened. Even in the shadows, he could make out the delicate curve of her cheek as she smiled in anticipation. Who knew Hermione Granger was such a romantic?
They stayed perched in that same spot for ten minutes. Then ten more. And ten more. Until Hermione finally had enough.
She sighed, frustratedly. "Do you think something's gone wrong? Did we set up at the wrong time? Or maybe they're in some kind of danger…"
Harry snorted. "They probably just forgot—most likely caught up in other things."
A blush swept across her cheeks as she imagined just what kind of 'other things' Harry was referring to. Blinking rapidly, she gazed over to the table and frowned.
"Well, we should probably clean up then," she said sadly.
"We could," Harry agreed with no intention of cleaning up. "But we shouldn't let all this good food go to waste. And we had to skip out on dinner for this—I'm starving."
As if on cue, Hermione felt her stomach rumble. "Well, I suppose we could…"
They sat down across from each other, staring out at the food and then smiling lightly at the other. As she went to pick up her fork, she saw Harry withdraw his wand. Before she could question him, he muttered an incantation and a single red rose protruded from the tip of his wand.
He held it out to her with a grin. "Hi, my name's Harry Potter. Sorry, I don't know a spell that makes chocolate appear."
She blinked once and then a beautiful smile spread across her face. "Hermione Granger, and that's quite all right," she replied with a short laugh, accepting the rose and smelling it.
Harry reached over and took her hand and then in a display of boldness, he pressed a soft kiss to her knuckles.
"It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Granger."
Her cheeks reddened and she sat, frozen, as she stared at her best friend, wondering where the person before her had been for the last six years. Though, she had to continue the game.
"Likewise, Mr. Potter."
"If you'll have me, I'll be your date tonight," he said, smiling at her with intention.
They were still holding hands, she realized. She ignored the heat in his gaze and the smell of the food washing over her, and squeezed softly.
"I suppose I could suffer through that."
"Excellent." He gave her his most charming smile. "My friend, who has very exquisite taste, I might add, recommended the meal before us."
"Oh, is that right?" She took a bite and hummed joyfully. "Your friend does have excellent taste."
"She's quite brilliant," he said, taking a bite of his own. He chewed his food and his eyes widened exponentially. "Oh my god, Hermione! This is amazing."
She nodded with zeal. "Isn't it? They have other really amazing dishes too. I can't get enough."
"We should go there sometime—just the two of us, next time we're in muggle London."
"I'd like that very much," she said genuinely, her eyes glowing with happiness.
◆ ◆ ◆
In another part of the school, Annabeth and Percy were lying in bed, getting ready to go to sleep.
"Do you think everything is going all right?"
Percy lay on his side to face her. "Yeah, they should be fine. I'm sure by tomorrow they'll be all smiles."
"I feel kind of dirty, though," Annabeth said, scrunching her nose up. "I mean, Hermione was so eager to help and I lied to her face."
"Don't think of it as lying," he lamented. "Think of it as an omission of truth for the greater good."
She raised an eyebrow. "Is that what you told your mum whenever she caught you lying?"
"Word for word," he confirmed. "You have nothing to worry about, Wise Girl. I taught Harry everything he knows."
She laughed, her gray eyes sparkling happily as she threaded her fingers through his hair. "That's exactly what I'm worried about."
Percy shifted and wrapped an arm around her waist, smiling mischievously at her. His fingers played with the hem of her nightgown, sometimes slipping under to trace patterns on the skin of her waist.
"It worked with you."
"It did," she confirmed, her breathing shallow. "Although, I have no idea how—"
Without a moment's hesitation, Percy set about showing her exactly how it had worked.
◆ ◆ ◆
They headed back to the common room together, walking side by side with their shoulders brushing at times, and a comfortable silence surrounded them. It was well past curfew and the corridors were dark and solemn at this time of night, though the two of them didn't pay that much attention.
They wore gentle smiles, still buzzing from their impromptu date. Hermione lightly held the rose he had given her between her fingers, unable to contain her glee whenever she looked at it. Not even the prattling of the fat lady could dissuade their good moods. They entered the common room and the sound of the crackling fire brought them out of their internal musings.
Stopping in front of the staircase to their dormitories, Hermione turned and released a breath. She reached out and took Harry's hand.
"Thank you for tonight, Harry," she said, gently squeezing his fingers. "That was the first time I did anything for Valentine's Day. And I had a lot of fun."
"I'm glad." He hummed thoughtfully. "But it was all your plan, so you deserve the credit, really."
"A team effort," she decided. "Nothing different from the usual then."
They shared a laugh and slowly patted through the common room. She bit her lip, wanting, needing to do something, but couldn't muster the courage.
"Well, goodnight, Harry," she said with a soft smile.
Just as she turned to head downstairs, she heard him say, "Wait."
She bit her lip and turned. "Yes?"
"Happy Valentine's Day, Hermione," he whispered.
His voice was soft and she had to lean in a little to hear him better. Being this close, she could smell his pleasant aromatic scent, making her want to close her eyes and take a whiff. But that would mean averting her eyes, and that was the last thing she wanted to do.
Their chests were nearly touching and their breaths mingled. She looked up at him and could practically count the eyelashes that framed his beautiful green eyes. Without thinking, she moistened her lips and it had an instant effect on him. She saw his gaze flicker down and felt his breathing get heavier.
"Screw it all," she murmured before leaning forward and pressing her lips to his.
He responded immediately as one hand went up to cup her cheek and the other around her waist, pulling her close. The gentle kiss held, deepened, and Hermione struggled for it to not turn ravenous.
When they pulled apart, they took heavy, shuddering breaths and for a moment, all was still, all was silent.
He could still feel the ghost of her fingers sifting through his hair and her lips against his, claiming them. And she could still feel the burn of his skin against her face and the way her heart felt light from the amount of feeling he poured into her.
And slowly, they both began to smile.