A Day for Firsts
“Sorry I’m late, Hermione. Teddy didn’t want me to go. I had to promise to visit him again tomorrow morning. You look beautiful, by the way.” Harry said as he dropped into the seat across from Hermione in the muggle restaurant she had chosen.
She smiled at Harry. “That’s ok. It’s not like this is a real date, and I know Teddy has you wrapped around his finger.”
Harry ran his fingers through his perpetually messy hair sheepishly. “Yeah, he does. Sometimes I think I spoil him too much but then he gives me those pleading eyes and I say yes anyway.”
“Teddy’s lucky to have you as a father figure, you know. You’re doing an excellent job.”
“Thank you. He wants his Aunt Mione to visit too, you know.”
“Stop calling me that.” She said with no bite in her voice. “Shall we order?”
Harry grinned but let it go. He knew that only he and Teddy could get away with calling her that. “Whatever you say, Hermione.”
“Thank you again for doing this, Harry. That oaf Cormac thinks he should get a second chance. He wouldn’t leave me alone until I brought up your name.”
Harry frowned. “What are best friends for? Besides, are you sure you don’t want me to get him transferred to another department? I am the Man Who Won, after all.” He dodged the napkin she threw at him and laughed. “If I can’t use my fame to help you, what’s the point?”
Hermione huffed at him. “I can handle myself, Harry.”
He gently took her hand. “I know you can. My face still remembers that hex you threw at me.” She flushed at that. “Anyway, I should be thanking you. Ginny still seems to think we should get back together and I don’t want to hurt her feelings again, plus Romilda’s whole friend group has been staring at me lately.” He shuddered at that thought. “It’s getting really creepy.”
“I know. They’ve also been glaring at me when they think I’m not looking. It’s not like we’re actually dating or anything.”
“No, but I can see why. Even if I start dating someone, you’ll still be the most important girl in my life, and they probably feel threatened by that.”
Hermione raised an eyebrow. “When did you become so introspective?”
He smiled. “I didn’t. Luna pointed it out to me one day out of the blue, and I can’t say I disagree.”
“Hmm. Well, you’ll always be the most important guy in my life too.”
An elderly couple approached their table.
“Terribly sorry to interrupt, but we couldn't help but notice how cute you two are together. You make a wonderful couple. You act just like we do, and we didn’t find each other until our thirties. You two are very, very lucky to have found love so young,” the lady said, smiling at them.
Harry and Hermione both turned red.
“We’re not-” They sputtered out in unison.
The lady laughed and patted each of them on the cheek. “Sure you aren’t, dears. You might not realize it, but you’re practically a married couple already. It’s so beautiful to see, isn’t it Ian? Well, we must be going. Enjoy the rest of your date, dears, and Happy Valentine’s Day!”
Harry mumbled a goodbye, but for the life of him, he could not meet Hermione’s eyes for the rest of the meal.
They finished their meal in silence, occasionally looking up at each other but immediately turning their heads back down when they caught the other staring at them. Harry was about to pay for the meal when he realized he was still holding Hermione’s hand. She seemed to notice too, and both were blushing again.
“I’m just gonna… ummm… pay. Yeah.” He withdrew his hand to reach for his wallet. Oddly enough, despite having held her hand many times before today, he had never felt the absence of her touch so acutely.
There was a palpable air of awkwardness between them as they walked out of the restaurant, one that had never been there before. Hermione was fidgeting slightly and Harry couldn't decide between keeping his hands in his pockets, folding them in front of his chest, or swinging them by his sides.
Wanting to break the silence, Harry asked, “So uhh… where do you wanna go?”
Hermione stopped, biting her lip in concentration. Harry found himself thinking that she looked rather cute while she did that. What was going on? He’d seen her bite her lip nearly every day when they studied together but never before had thoughts like these crossed his mind. It seemed like today was a day for firsts.
He started, blushing furiously. Somehow he’d missed her response when he was distracted by her adorable lip biting, and the way the wind was blowing through her hair, and-
“HARRY! Are you ok?” Hermione was peering closely at him, her warm brown eyes filled with concern. This was a look he’d grown accustomed to with all of his trips to the Hospital Wing, but the resulting fluttering in his chest was definitely not a feeling he’d felt before.
He awkwardly scratched his head and put on what he hoped was a convincing smile. Knowing that Hermione knew him better than anyone else, the odds weren’t exactly in his favor. “Yeah, I’m fine. What were you saying?”
Hermione huffed. “AS I was saying, I’d like to head to the local library and see if they have any new books.”
“Sounds good.” He winced internally. She had to know something was up when he didn’t at least pretend to protest.
Hermione gave him a sharp look but made no comment, instead grabbing his hand and pulling him along to the library. Harry appreciated that at least the awkwardness was gone, and couldn’t help but notice that having her hand in his again felt… right. With a smile on his face, he stumbled after her.
‘What am I doing? I just went to this library yesterday!’
Hermione didn’t know what was going on. Talking to Harry had never felt so awkward before. She’d said the first place that came to mind and instantly regretted it, but Harry hadn’t even seemed to hear her. Then he put that obviously fake smile on his face, as if she would ever fall for that. It was easy to let it go though. She had a lot of confusing thoughts on her mind about Harry at the moment, and she could pretty easily trace them back to the older couple who had spoken to them.
‘Love? That’s ridiculous. That lady had no idea what she was talking about.’ She thought to herself indignantly.
‘Then why were you blushing around him so much?’ Another part of her argued.
‘He’s my best friend! We love each other platonically, that’s all.’
‘You’re practically living with him in the Head’s Quarters and you’ve been sleeping in the same bed for months.’
She blushed at that thought. ‘It’s for comfort! Neither of us has had nightmares for months because of it.’
‘Sure. And the fact that he goes to bed shirtless and wraps his arms around you really tightly has nothing to do with that, right?’
‘NO! Not at all.’ Even to herself, that denial sounded feeble.
‘Hmph.’ The voice in her head coughed deliberately and Hermione faintly caught the word “fanciable”. ‘Well, would you ever trust anyone else to do that?’
‘Don’t be silly; of course I wouldn’t.’
‘You also just told him that he would always be the most important person in your life.’
‘Of course I did! He had just said such a sweet thing to me and I had to make sure he knew I felt the same way!’
‘Did you mean it any less?’
‘... No. We’ve always been there for each other.’
‘Exactly. He could have found any other girl to spend Valentine’s Day with to fend off the hordes, but you asked, and he said yes. When you needed someone, who did you turn to, knowing he would never let you down? He loves you and you love him.’
“Hermione?” Harry gently pulled on her hand, shaking her out of her thoughts. “We’re here.”
She nodded and began walking inside, but Harry held her back.
“Are you okay?”
“I’m fine,” she said quickly, plastering on a fake smile.
He gave her a look, but made no comment. “Let’s go then.”
She followed him inside, but she could not stop herself from mulling over that last thought.
‘He loves you and you love him.’
It was very much unlike Hermione to forget where she was going, especially when it came to libraries, and that fake smile she’d put on was really off-putting. Harry much preferred her real smile, the one she’d give him when they solved a difficult problem together or the one she gave him every morning, full of warmth and… love?
He was suddenly reminded of what the lady had said to them.
‘Of course I love her. She’s the most wonderful best friend I could ever ask for. But do I love love her?’
Well, it was a bit difficult to figure out what romantic love felt like. He didn’t love Hermione like his Aunt and Uncle “loved” each other, thank Merlin for that. He didn’t love her like Molly and Arthur loved each other - what he shared with Hermione was more of a partnership, and there was much less yelling involved, though there was still some yelling when he deserved it. Harry smiled wryly as he recalled Hermione hitting him with a copy of the Daily Prophet when he had called himself the Chosen One. He didn’t know Bill and Fleur all that well, but he knew they didn’t hug nearly as often as Hermione liked to hug him.
All in all, there wasn’t much to compare to. What he shared with Hermione was pretty unique. He was quite sure that very few people had gone through what they had been through together, knowing with absolute certainty that the other would never let them down.
Harry took a moment to watch Hermione as she squealed and raced towards the new section, that real smile appearing finally and lighting up her face. He loved seeing her in her element. As she strained to grab a book from one of the higher shelves, he walked over and pulled it down for her. The thankful smile she gave him in return took his breath away, and when she followed that up with a quick hug and a kiss on the cheek, he wondered if he’d ever be able to breathe the same way again.
“Thanks as always, Harry.”
She turned away and continued searching for books, leaving Harry staring at her, his hand touching his cheek.
“Anytime,” he whispered, his heart fluttering in his chest.
Harry suddenly realized exactly what romantic love felt like. It felt like a beaming smile as thanks. It felt like a quick (but no less warm) hug and fleeting kiss on his cheek. It felt like Hermione.
“So, where do you wanna go next, Harry?” Hermione said as they walked out, her books safely put away in her Extended handbag.
“Anywhere with you.’
He took her hand once more. “I was thinking we could just walk for a while.”
They began wandering around London, going nowhere in particular. It was a nice change of pace to just explore without the shadow of a looming war hanging over their heads. Without him even asking, Hermione began pointing out interesting things that he’d never have appreciated properly without her. While she did drag on at times, Harry didn’t mind it one bit. Talking his ear off passionately was just part of who she was, and he wouldn’t change her for the world. He was just glad that Hermione never indicated that she wanted to let his hand go, and for his part, he wasn’t planning to either.
Stopping at a florist, Harry bought a bouquet of flowers and presented them to a shocked Hermione.
“Harry, this is too much!” She protested, despite her heart telling her to just accept it.
“Nonsense. You deserve them. Happy Valentine’s Day.”
“We’re not actually dating though. You don’t have to do all this.”
“About that... “ Harry said nervously. “I’ve been thinking…” He paused, seeming to collect himself. “I’ve been thinking about what that old lady said.”
Hermione’s eyes widened. Was this really happening?
“I’ve loved you for a while now, and for the longest time, I always thought it was just platonic, but somewhere along the way, it just became… more, I guess. I’ve been so blind for so long. I love waking up beside you every morning, I love holding you in my arms, I love watching you devour books, I love it when your eyes light up and I can just listen to you talk, and I just love being around you. I don’t want this to be a fake date anymore. You’re my best friend, my partner in everything. Will you be my girlfriend too?”
Hermione took the bouquet from him, her heart in her throat, and nodded. Harry broke out into a relieved smile and opened his arms. Instead of hugging him, Hermione threw caution to the winds and her arms around his neck, pulling him in for a kiss. Harry got over his shock pretty quickly and pulled her close, responding ardently.
It was a day for firsts, indeed.
A/N Happy Valentine’s Day! Written for HMS Harmony Discord Valentine’s Day Contest. Check out the HMS Harmony disc here: https://discord.gg/2GcXw8R