"The evening of the eighth of February was cold. Blisteringly so. The type of chill that wouldn't be out of place in the Siberian wilderness, or the stone heart of the mob-boss in a backroom. It was nights like these that lead to undesirable activity. Heh, well, undesirable from my perspective. Those reckless hooligans think themselves to be 'tough' or 'formidable', but they don't know what it's like deep underground, with the psychos and masterminds and psycho-masterminds. Those reckless hooligans think themselves to be smart, but solving their petty murders and robberies is child's play compared to the puzzle and challenge of the Dark Horse. I've solved every case I've ever gotten, apart from his. He's my arch-nemesis, my Achilles Heel, my-"
"Harry, what the fuck are you going on about?"
Harry was instantly brought out of his musings by her voice and was momentarily confused as to where he was. Until he wasn't. Gryffindor common room. Staring out the window overlooking the Black Lake. Wearing-
"For goodness sake, take off that ridiculous trench coat and fedora!" Hermione snapped, as she stomped towards Harry, with Ron standing to the side gawking at him. "And what on earth are you smoking? Is that parchment paper?"
"Uh… yeah? I just... rolled up a bit of parchment paper and cast incendio at the end of it..." Harry muttered.
Hermione simply huffed and started to unbutton Harry's trench coat for him.
"Honestly, Harry, you and Sirius spent far too much time watching 'Film noir' over Christmas. Your continuing obsession with the genre is unhealthy, especially your ghastly fedora." Hermione said as one of her hands snatched the abomination off his head.
"Hey! Fedoras are cool." Harry exclaimed, scandalised.
Hermione glared at Harry as she finished the last button on his coat. "No. No, they are not. You're just embarrassing yourself in front of the wizards, looking all," she gesticulated vaguely over Harry's attire, "Sherlock Holmes or something!"
"Actually, Sherlock Holmes wears a deerstalker, not a fedora-"
"I. Don't. Care." Hermione harshly thrust Harry's trench coat and fedora into his arms before her tone softened and she gently touched his arm, "Besides, I'm sure you'll be able to put your blossoming 'detective skills' to use over the next few days."
And with a smile, Hermione sauntered off to the girl's dormitories, leaving a confused Harry to stand miserably with his detective costume in his arms, sending an icy glare towards Ron, as though daring him to laugh.
"Honestly, mate, you looked absurd!" Ron said after he calmed down many moments later.
"What did she mean by putting my 'detective skills' to use? Do you know?" Harry asked, ignoring Ron's vile and spiteful comment.
"No idea, mate," Ron said, though Harry had an inkling that he was being purposefully evasive in his tone, before batting away that ridiculous notion, "Anyways, have you seen what's been put up on the notice board?"
Ron led Harry over to the board, where a small gaggle of girls were giggling.
"Why is there a small gaggle of girls giggling?" Harry quietly asked Ron.
"Look!" Ron pointed towards the top of the board, where in large vibrant flashing pink letters it said:
Valentine's Love Letter Service
"What am I supposed to be looking at?"
Ron stared incredulously at Harry.
"I literally just pointed it out to you," Ron rubbed his face in an exasperated manner, "The… the big fuck-off lettering about a 'Valentine's Love Letter Service'!"
"Come on, you should read the details as well."
Ron pushed past the small gaggle of girls who were still giggling, who then all stopped giggling when they saw Ron.
"Piss off," Ron snapped at the girls.
With the girls out of the way, Ron jerked his finger towards the parchment stuck underneath the large lettering.
It's approaching Valentine's Day and the newly formed Love Society (under the supervision and charms expertise of Professor Flitwick) have a treat in store for you!
We are offering a challenge and a service to all you wannabe love-birds!
Over the course of a week, starting February 9th and ending February 14h, we will provide a service for you to have anonymous love-letters delivered to your crush, only there's a twist!
These letters will start off anonymous, and every subsequent letter will include more and more hints to your crush as to who you are. Our very own Professor Flitwick knows some nifty charms to ensure varying levels of anonymity in the letters, so you don't have to worry about writing cryptic messages yourself, the charms will do the hard work for you!
As frequently or as infrequently as you want (we recommend once a day), you can send love letters, via us and our special Valentine's owls, to your crush!
Our challenge is this: The sooner your crush figures out who's sending them letters, the more house-points both you and your crush will get! (No cheating. Trust us, we'll know if you do!)
The more letters you send, the more obvious the letters will be as to who is sending them. For example, if you send one letter a day, the first letter will be almost impossible to figure out, but the letter sent on February 14th will be practically screaming your name!
Sign-ups start from when this appears on your common room notice boards, and ends on February 14th.
We hope you take advantage of our service!
The Love Society
"Ok..." Harry said, "Why are you showing me this? Wait, are you going to be sending me love letters, Ron? I love you, mate, but like a brother. I'm sorry to break it to you-"
Harry was interrupted by a hard whack on his arm.
"No, you idiot! I'm showing this to you because Her-" Ron coughed, "because I thought you should keep it in mind over the coming week."
Harry was simply confused, gently rubbing his arm, "Ok…?"
"Let's just head off to bed, then," Ron sighed.
The two boys headed off to their dormitory, Ron muttering something about how 'hopeless' Harry was. Harry didn't think he was hopeless. He had lots of hope. Why Ron thought he had less was baffling to him.
After getting ready for a good night's sleep, Harry laid down in his bed pondering the significance of Ron showing him the 'Valentine's Love Letter Service' thingamajig. Ron laid down in his bed pondering the number of brain cells Harry had.
"Ron?" Harry sleepily murmured.
"I'm just thinking, I'd love it if Hermione took part in the service and sent me love letters." There was a gasp and then Ron started spluttering, but Harry ignored him, "She's just so… I can't explain it. Words could never do her even a smidge of justice… I love her..."
And with that, Harry's snores filled the dormitory.
"Took you far too long to realise that…" Ron muttered.
Maybe Harry had more brain cells than Ron thought.
The next morning, Harry and Ron made their way down to breakfast. They approached Hermione who was reading an incredibly thick tome called The Art and Allure of Arithmancy (Mega-Deluxe Edition). Probably just a bit of light-reading. Sitting either side of her, though a particularly observant outside observer would see that Hermione scooched a little closer to Harry, the two boys began to fill their plates.
It didn't take long for the owl post to arrive, and a… pink owl covered in love-hearts dropped a bright red envelope in front of Harry before immediately flying off again.
Harry glanced towards Ron and Hermione, who had a small blush on her face.
"Do either of you know what this is about?"
Both of them shook their heads, though Ron looked a little exasperated, before Harry batted that ridiculous idea away. Why would Ron be exasperated? Harry hadn't done any exasperation-worthy lately.
'...I think', Harry thought.
Shrugging, Harry carefully opened the letter. Unfolding the parchment, Harry read the letter.
This will be my first love letter to you. This is exciting, isn't it? I'm not sure how Professor Flitwick's anonymity charm will affect what I write, but hopefully I've done a good enough job to prevent any major changes. It's a really fascinating spell that he's used, I'll have to quiz him on it after… Anyways, I'm really excited to be writing this. Nervous as well, obviously. I'd be lying if I said I wasn't shaking a little, you might be able to tell. So here goes:
I love you.
I desperately hope you'll return the feelings I have for you, but just getting these feelings out there is such a great relief for myself. If when you find out who I am it turns out you don't return the feelings, that's fine. Truly. I won't lie and say I won't be hurt, but I've endured worse pain. I think. I haven't endured heartbreak just yet, and I pray I never will, but I hope it's not as bad as other forms of pain. Oh, look at me, getting all glum. You don't need my glumness, just my love. The truest, purest love there is, I reckon. I want you to know I'm not a fangirl, don't you worry. I'm not vapid, or soulless, or gold-digging. I don't worship you or the ground you walk on. Someone like that couldn't hold a torch to you. I can't, either, but I think I can hold that torch a little higher than others. Unlike them, I don't love you because you're Harry Potter, but because you're just Harry. You're special to so many people, but I like to think that you're the most special to me. You've affected my life in such a profound way. I don't want to write too much, as much as I'm itching to do so, since I need material for my next letters (and anything else I write might be affected by the anonymity charm, of course)!
I really do love you.
Your Secret Admirer
"What does it say?"
Harry looked up from the letter with a pleased smile on his face. Hermione looked nervously at Harry, the blush from earlier yet to disappear. This was concerning to Harry. Hermione didn't get nervous, she was courageous, brilliant, and the strongest person he knew. A nervous Hermione was like an unobservant, stupid Harry: it didn't exist.
"It's really lovely, actually. They sound sweet and caring, but also strong and confident. I'd love to meet them," Harry said.
He passed the letter to Hermione who laid it down on the table. Ron was looking over her shoulder to sneak a peek.
"I feel like this letter is throwing a bit of shade towards certain people…" Ron murmured.
Hermione glared at him.
"And who are those people, Ronald?" She snapped.
"Unworthy of Harry, obviously." Ron quickly squeaked, shrinking away from Hermione's death-ray of a glare.
"Who's unworthy of me?" Harry cautiously asked, trying his best to avoid the wrath of Hermione.
"Fangirls," Hermione said simply, "You know, people like… uh... "
Hermione was suddenly staring at something behind Harry. He turned and saw a girl who looked awfully familiar with hair colour similar to Ron's approaching Harry, but he couldn't put his finger on who it was.
"Hey, Harry, uh… I was wondering… do you… do you want to go with me to Hogsmeade on Valentine's Day?"
Harry stared blankly at the girl, who was blushing a state of red not too dissimilar to her hair.
"Sorry, what's your name again?"
Hermione choked on her pumpkin juice. The girl looked bewildered.
Harry stared blankly at the girl apparently called Gina. Then it clicked.
"OH! Ron's sister! I forgot," he blurted out.
"Lucky you," said Georgia coolly.
"I'm sorry, Gemma," Harry said, but he didn't really mean it.
Genevieve huffed then stomped away.
"Ron, I forgot you had a sister!" Harry exclaimed, not thinking too hard on that strange interaction with whatsername.
Ron stared at Harry with an indecipherable look. He seemed to be doing that a lot lately.
"Harry, you've known Ginny for years! You've lived in the same home and Hogwarts house as her. You saved her from the basilisk and Riddle's diary! How could you forget my fucking sister?"
Harry then recognised the look on Ron's face as exasperation. Why he looked as such, Harry wasn't too sure. All he did was forget he had a sister, and he didn't think that was a particularly awful crime. Some information just wasn't that important, not when he could instead store in his memory everything he knew about Hermione. That was much more important than his best-friend's sister.
"Well, she's not particularly memorable, is she? Not much of a character, y'know what I mean?"
Hermione giggled. She looked beautiful when she giggled, Harry noticed, so carefree and happy.
"Harry?" Hermione asked worryingly.
He'd been staring.
'Uh… shit… how can I explain this? Come on, Potter, use your charming wit!'
"So, who do you think the letter was from, mate?" Ron interrupted. Harry thought that was very rude considering he was about to wow Hermione with the famous Potter Charm. However, he pushed down his anger towards the incredibly impolite ginger and answered his question.
"Someone that sounds brilliant, frankly. And they're in love with me, which is, like, totally awesome. I'm not yet sure who it could be, but I hope it's someone in particular."
Hermione perked up at that for some reason.
"And who is this someone in particular?" she asked.
Harry furrowed his brow at her.
"You, obviously. I'm desperately in love with you, Hermione. Unfortunately, the chance of you being the author of this letter is about as likely as Ron turning down dessert, since you don't feel the same way about me. Anyways, I'm off to go finish my transfiguration essay. See you guys later!"
As Harry headed out of the Great Hall, casually whistling something from Mary Poppins, he left behind a stunned Hermione and a gob-smacked Ron.
"He… he loves me?" Hermione muttered, a beaming smile forming on her face, "He loves me?"
Ron was staring at the bench where Harry was sitting just a moment ago.
"Ron! Harry loves me! He loves me!" Hermione squealed, "I need to go tell him that I love him too!"
"Hermione, no!" Ron just about came back to his senses and grabbed Hermione's arm as she began to stand up, "You'll get disqualified from the challenge if he doesn't figure out who's sending him the letters by himself."
Hermione's smile faded, but only slightly, at Ron's realisation.
"Right," Hermione nodded, her breathing calming down from the moment of excitement, "And it'll be more romantic once he figures it out. He should figure it out soon, though, right?"
Ron looked wary, but he didn't have it in him to tell Hermione what he really thought, so he nodded in false agreement, "Right."
The next morning, Harry made a lone journey down to the Great Hall, Ron deciding to sleep in. He saw Hermione buried in a book, but the moment Harry walked through the golden doors, she looked up and beamed at him. 'What's that about?' Harry wondered. A passing thought came, however, 'Maybe she is in love with me, and she's staring at me like that because she loves me… Nah, don't be stupid, Pottsy, but that'd be so brilliant, wouldn't it?'
Putting that intoxicating thought aside for another time and place, he made his way over to sit next to Hermione.
"Good morning, Hermione!" Harry said cheerfully, as he began to dish up some bacon, eggs, and a stack of toast.
"Hiya, Harry," Hermione said shyly, "Are you… are you looking forward to the next love letter?"
Harry took a moment to figure out what Hermione was talking about.
"Oh, right, that. Yeah, the one from yesterday was really sweet, and I'm looking forward to seeing what they have to say next."
As though it was listening in, a pink owl flew down at that moment to drop another letter in front of Harry and a blushing Hermione. 'She should really go see Madam Pompfrey about that, her face is red so often these days…' Harry thought. Picking it up, Harry opened and read the letter.
So, this is the second letter! I can reveal a few more things about myself this time round since Professor Flitwick will be using a slightly weakened form of the anonymity charm. It's all very interesting, actually. I managed to question him about the charm after I wrote the first letter (and I'm writing this one immediately after, so I'm yet to see your reaction to the first letter), and did you know that he actually invented it himself? He found some old family notes in his Gringotts vault and used a combination of old Goblin magic alongside some very complicated and impressive Arithmancy to link the Goblin magic to wand movements. Apparently, the quills that we use have a very faint flash-memory and can recall the intent of the author when they use the quill. The anonymity charm finds this faint strand of intent and can detect and adjust anything that can identify the author in the writing! It's really brilliant and I've just realised that I'm rambling!
I tend to do that a lot, you know. Almost as much as I think about you. You really are very special; you've occupied a place in my mind that is just too deep for me to remove - not that I'd want to, of course. It's rather irritating sometimes. I'll be studying for an upcoming Ancient Runes exam, and then all of a sudden you pop into my head and distract me! It's not your fault, obviously, but I do get a little annoyed at you for so securely making a home in my mind. Only someone as amazing as you could do that, though, and only someone as amazing as you deserves a place there.
I'm anxiously waiting for you to find out who I am. Part of me never wants to hear your answer, in case it's not the one I so desperately need to hear. I'd rather live in ignorance of your feelings towards me than know they don't exist. I'm afraid that our friendship will be ruined when you find out who I am, but on the other hand I truly believe that we could be the paragon of love, and I'd be an utter fool to throw away that opportunity.
I love you more than anything.
Your Secret Admirer
"What does this one say?" Hermione asked.
Harry looked up at her with a serious expression.
"Apparently I'm annoying and distracting-"
"What? It can't be like that-" Hermione interrupted as she snatched the letter out of Harry's hand and started scanning it.
"In a good way," Harry finished with a smirk.
"Oh, you prat!" Hermione said with a slap on Harry's arm, "So, any ideas as to who it could be?"
Harry looked at Hermione for a moment, gazing into her gorgeous, beautiful, addicting brown eyes.
"Harry?" Hermione asked worryingly.
He'd been staring.
'Uh… shit… how can I explain this? Come on, Potter, use your charming wit! This time Ron isn't here to interrupt!'
"Oh, you got another love letter, then?" Ron interrupted, sitting down at the table.
'Does his rudeness know no bounds?' Harry angrily thought as once again Ron ruined his opportunity to wow Hermione with some incredible line like, 'So, you go here often?'. Harry had actually practiced that in the mirror that very morning!
Despite desperately wanting to call Ron an 'interfering prick', Harry instead went down the more diplomatic route.
"Ron, you interfering prick, do you have a date for Valentine's Day?" He asked accusingly.
Ron goggled at Harry whilst Hermione gave him a harder slap on the arm with an accompanying exasperated 'Harry!'. He didn't know why Hermione was admonishing him for calling Ron an interfering prick. For one, he was, and for two, he was about to wow her and Ron prevented that from happening! If anything, Hermione should be admonishing Ron, but no, everything is Harry's fault, isn't it?
"What's got you in a tiffy, mate?" Ron asked, clearly stung, "And for your information, I do have a date; Lavender asked me last night."
Harry ignored him and instead began to eat his breakfast, which was starting to go cold.
"Anyways, have you any idea who the latest letter is from?"
Harry swallowed his mouthful of eggs before he answered.
"I've ruled out Aunt Petunia and Mrs Norris."
"I am! I do think about these things, y'know."
"Could've fooled me."
"Boys!" Hermione cut-in, "Stop your stupid bickering. Ron, Harry's supposed to figure it out on his own. Harry, don't be rude to Ron."
"He started it-" Both the boys started.
"I said stop, or I won't help you with your homework!"
Both thoroughly reprimanded, Harry and Ron returned to their breakfasts.
Five minutes later, Harry put down his cutlery and Ron started to dish up thirds for himself. Just as he was about to leave for the library to do his Charms essay, another pink owl with a letter landed in front of Harry.
"Huh, it's from Colin."
Ron and Hermione snapped their heads towards Harry.
"And how on earth do you know that?" Hermione asked.
"It's elementary, Hermione," Harry said confidently as he opened the letter and confirmed his gut instinct.
"Yep, just as I thought. He's gone on and on about getting an autograph from me, and vaguely describes his brother and how he also wants an autograph. Oh yikes, I think this letter has gone through the anonymity charm quite a bit."
Ron and Hermione stared at Harry with open mouths, which wasn't a good look for Ron at that moment.
"Right, I'll go and hand this over to Professor Flitwick and claim the house points, then I've got to go do my Charms essay. See you guys later!"
As Harry walked up to the staff-table, Hermione shared a disbelieving glance with Ron.
"How the hell can he figure out that that letter was from Colin before opening it, yet with yours he's only ruled out his Aunt and Mrs-bloody-Norris?" Ron asked.
"I-I'm sure my letter was a bit too obscure, that's all," Hermione said, though she sounded as if she didn't believe her own words.
Ron motioned to Hermione to pass him the letter, and quickly read it when she did.
"Right, I know I've got insider information and I know that this letter is from you, but how can Harry have only ruled the two most unlikely people? It's obvious that this is from someone close to him, which rules out most of the school, and it's someone that's very intelligent, which rules out the rest of the school, leaving only you!"
Hermione looked worried.
"I'm sure it's nothing, Ron. He'll figure it out tomorrow, I think. It didn't help that this letter was written before I knew that he loved me, so perhaps it wasn't as obvious that it was from me as it could have been. I'll try and leave some heavy clues if the anonymity charm allows for it…" Hermione stopped and started to tear up, "It's agonising knowing that he loves me yet he doesn't know that I love him. I-I just want for me and Harry to love each other, Ron..."
"He'll get it tomorrow, Hermione, I'm sure," Ron said comfortingly.
The morning after, Harry found himself sat across from a glaring Ron and a down-trodden looking Hermione. He hated seeing her look like that. She should be smiling, laughing, dancing in the arms of someone who made her happy. Just because Harry knew that wouldn't be him, he still wanted Hermione to be happy above all else. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, something he had done made her look like that. And that just wasn't ok.
All he had done was fail to work out the identity of his persistent secret admirer. Harry was frankly stumped as to who it could be, and he was bewildered as to why Ron thought he should've worked it out by now.
Trying his best to not sigh, so as to not invoke Ron's shocking anger issues, Harry re-read the letter that had arrived earlier.
A little birdie told me that you're in love with me.
I don't think you understand just how that made me feel when I found out. I could hardly sleep that night as I replayed that memory again and again in my head. Once I got to sleep, I dreamt of that moment over and over, and I was deeply disappointed when I woke up. However, I then realised that it would soon become a reality. Me and you will be together and that honestly makes my head spin in the best possible way. If I told little 12 year old me that the boy that jumped on a troll for her would declare his love many years later, I'm sure that she'd denounce magic there and then due to how ridiculous it would sound. Instead, I'm fairly certain that it's my new patronus memory, but I know that we could create a new one, an even stronger one, together. How does that sound? Me and you. I think it sounds utterly wonderful.
All my loving, I will send to you.
Your Secret Admirer
How on earth was he supposed to know who that letter was from?
There were hardly any clues, not even a crumb of suggestion as to who it could be, and yet Ron was looking as though he'd blow a gasket at any moment. Who did Ron think Harry was, Sherlock Holmes? Puh-lease.
"Harry, one more time, you love Hermione, right?" Ron asked, his hands rubbing his face in exasperation.
"Yes, obviously. We've discussed my feelings about her extensively." Harry replied, briefly glancing at Hermione who was watching the situation unfurl with detached curiosity.
"Right, and the author of this letter, your secret admirer, said that she knows that you love her."
"So the person that you love is Hermione, and your secret admirer says that you love whoever your secret admirer is."
"That is correct."
"Who is your secret admirer?"
"I... don't know, you've lost me."
Ron just stared.
"Where? Where the fuck did I lose you?"
Harry just shrugged.
Just then, as Ron was repeatedly muttering 'Honestly, mate…' for some reason, another pink owl flew down and dropped a letter off in front of Harry.
As Harry opened the envelope, he realised that this letter, unlike the others, came with a gift.
Also known as a vial of an unknown potion.
Gently putting the vial to the side - which was immediately snatched up by Hermione - Harry read the letter.
How about you give that vial of potion a good swig and go down to the boathouse? I've got a surprise waiting for you :)
Your Secret Admirer
This one was easy.
"Romilda Vane. And chances are, that is a love-potion," Harry expertly deduced as he took the vial from Hermione's grasp.
Popping open the vial, Harry gave it a good sniff and was suddenly overwhelmed by the scent of Hermione's shampoo.
It smelt of vanilla in a Summer's breeze. The idea of nostalgia and innocence enveloped Harry's nostrils, as the addicting fragrance threatened to drive him utterly wild. All he wanted at that moment was to spend the rest of his life smelling Hermione's hair, and what a life that would be. It would be a great reason to become immortal, just to smell Hermione's hair in every living moment for the rest of time. 'Maybe I should talk to Hermione about that, and we could agree on a system where I do my homework on my own, and she'll let me smell her hair…' Harry thought, until he realised that that would probably require Hermione being attracted to him, which, unfortunately, wasn't the case.
With nothing better to do, Harry brought the potion up to his mouth, but was only stopped from pouring it in by Hermione's sudden grasp on his wrist.
"Harry, what do you think you're doing?" Hermione said sternly, "You literally just said that it was a love potion!"
"Yeah, but Hermione, it smelt of your shampoo, what do you expect me to do? Not drink it?"
"It smelled of my shampoo… that must mean that it's-"
"Amortentia? Yeah, I know."
"...Then why the fuck would you drink it?"
"It smelt of you," Harry replied, as though the answer was obvious (and it was).
"That… that… that's really sweet of you, Harry," Hermione was heavily blushing at this point, "But please don't drink things just because they smell of me."
"Because it's a stupid thing to do! You almost drank amortentia, Harry, for goodness sake!"
Harry really couldn't understand Hermione's argument, but he thought that the smart thing to do was to just drop it, and let Hermione have her (unjust) way.
Ron was watching the exchange with a strange and unattractive combination of confusion, amusement, and annoyance.
"Listen, I've got to go finish my potions essay, but I'm just going to go to Professor Flitwick and claim the house points, then give the potion to Professor Dumbledore and hopefully see Romilda expelled. I'll see you guys later!"
"He's really something else, isn't he?" Hermione said, as Harry walked away.
"That's putting it lightly," Ron replied, "Part of me thinks that he's just taking the piss, but then again, he's always been a bit oblivious, hasn't he? Especially when it comes to you."
"I know, but this? This is a completely new level of obliviousness. Thankfully, the next letter should leave no doubt that I am writing them"
Don't speak too soon.
I am Hermione Granger. Hermione Granger. Hermione. Granger. This love letter is from me, Hermione Granger. I am confessing my love for you, Harry Potter. I love you. Hermione Granger loves Harry Potter. Harry and Hermione sitting in a tree, K.I.S.S.I.N.G. First comes love, then comes marriage, then comes our babies in a golden carriage. Three kids, by the way. Two girls and a boy.
I love you.
Your Secret Admirer.
Harry put down the letter.
"I don't know why you think that it's obvious as to who wrote this. I don't know why my Secret Admirer is saying this stuff, to be honest. I'm flattered, obviously, I've told Ron before how much I'm in love with you, Hermione, and would love to date you, marry you, have kids with you, and then grow old with you, but I don't get what this letter is trying to say."
The stares Harry received back from his two best friends would've indicated to a normal person that they had said or done something wrong.
But Harry wasn't normal.
"Ok, well, I'll tell you who I know it's not, if that makes you happy."
"Right," Harry began, uncomfortable from the silence coming from Hermione and Ron, "it's not Aunt Petunia because she hates magic. It's not Mrs Norris because she's a cat. It's not Romilda Vane or Colin Creevey, since they've already sent letters to me. It's not any of the staff here, since that'd be an abuse of power. And, it's not Hermione since she doesn't think of me that way. Other than that, it's fair-game as to who's been sending me love letters."
"Harry, read the first six words of that letter," Ron said.
"Um, ok. 'Dear Harry, I am Hermione Granger.'"
"And what do you think of that?" Ron asked.
"Obviously, this person is pretending to be Hermione since they know that I'm completely and irrevocably in love with her. They probably think that they can bait me into a trap of sorts by pretending to be Hermione, but that's a bit pathetic and it won't work since I know that Hermione doesn't love me, so I know that this person is just pretending to be Hermione. You see?"
Apparently, they did not see, but Harry was saved from their scathing responses by another pink owl dropping off yet another letter.
This one was slightly different. Harry knew as he opened the envelope that it'd take a bit more skill to work out the sender of this love letter.
Harry cleared his throat as he began to read aloud the latest letter.
I hope this letter finds you well. I think you're brilliant, and amazing, and a hero! I've read all the books about you so many times so I think I know you better than anyone! I can recite and quote so many things about your life, I might even know you better than you know yourself! Hehe :)
Just kidding, of course! But I do think we could have a great conversation about you! I've loved you ever since I first read those brilliant 'Harry Potter and The…' books, my favourite has to be the one where you defeated that herd of Nundus attacking that African village! I'd love to hear your perspective on that adventure!
Your Secret Admirer
When Harry finished reading the letter, he glanced towards Hermione and saw a disdainful and angry expression upon her face - muttering something about 'fangirls' and 'I'll show you a herd of Nundus you shallow bitch' - but there was something about that letter…
Without a moment's hesitation, Harry opened up his bag and took out a batch of parchment, two quills and three ink pots. And a deerstalker hat, which he put on, ignoring the devastating and soul-crushing scoff from Hermione. Clearing aside his plate, and avoiding the curious glances from Hermione, Ron and other nosy students, Harry dipped his quill in a pot of ink and began to take notes.
Harry noted everything he could; the handwriting was different to the previous letters sent from his secret admirer, and it was possible that this was the same person…
'Maybe their hand broke and they're writing with their off-hand… or they were kidnapped and their kidnapper is writing these letters in order to get close to me!' Harry thought.
He quickly discarded that idea as borderline unlikely - especially considering he had just received a letter from his secret admirer and it was fine - and instead went down the route of it being a different person entirely sending him a love letter. Paying careful attention to how each letter in the letter was printed, and even where some smudges and drops of ink were located in relation to the closest word, Harry came to a couple conclusions.
"It's obvious to me that based on the handwriting style - especially the dots on the 'i's, you see there? - and the location of the smudges and scattered drops of ink that the author of this letter is written by a third year pureblood."
Ron looked stunned and Hermione was spluttering, but Harry ignored them as he continued his investigation.
It didn't take long for Harry to start his third sheet of parchment due to the copious amount of note taking that would put Hermione to shame (though she was simply watching in amazement). He brought the letter up to his face and recorded the various folds in the parchment. He gave it a right good sniff and recorded the scent, and even licked a corner where there was no ink.
'Hm… rosemary with a hint of… Ah, yes! Melancholy!' he thought.
That provided the missing piece to the puzzle as Harry reached yet another conclusion.
"Now, this one was a toughie, but the combination of the three-way fold, the smell of lemons specifically from Valencia, and the taste of rosemary and the idea of melancholy, leads to a very interesting conclusion," Harry paused to provide a little bit of narrative tension as Hermione, Ron, and a small gathering of students listened to Harry attentively, "Their muggle blood type is B+."
Harry once again ignored the impressed murmurs coming from the small crowd as he brought out his wand to conjure a measuring tape with immaculate precision.
"Oh my word, Harry! That's a brilliant bit of conjuration!" Hermione exclaimed.
Harry allowed himself to feel a little proud at the impressed proclamation from his one true (sadly unrequited) love, but quickly got back to the investigation.
After a quick bit of charm-work, the measuring tape was measuring (hence the name) the gaps between the letters, the words, the lines, and the margin. The thickness, width and length of the parchment was also measured, on top of the miniscule indentations in the parchment from a heavy-handed quill.
The tape produced golden lines that would be incoherent to anyone that didn't take Ancient Runes, and even though Harry was in that group of people, he wasn't called 'intelligent' and 'incredibly observant' for nothing. Those lines, when translated, allowed Harry to record all the measurements gathered, and brought him to his next conclusion.
"This bit was much easier to figure out, and frankly I'm disappointed with myself that I didn't see it straight away without all these measurements. Nevertheless, it's rather obvious that due to the above-average thickness of the parchment, and the relatively tight spread of the words and letters - see here, I've calculated the standard deviation of the gaps and it's very consistent as well," Harry passed around the eighth bit of parchment paper that he used containing the calculations made, though only Hermione seemed to make any sense of it, "Anyways, it's obvious that this person is a supporter of the Chudley Cannons."
Everyone in the ever increasing crowd shuddered, apart from one Ronald Chudley Weasley (or at least that's what Harry assumed his middle-name was).
Harry stared down at the letter and frowned.
"Hermione, could I borrow your Arithmancy textbook?" Harry asked.
"Huh? But you don't take Arithmancy, and I don't have my third year textbooks on me-"
"Your NEWT ones," Harry interrupted.
Hermione stared wide-eyed at Harry before slowly pulling out The Art and Allure of Arithmancy (Mega-Deluxe Edition) from her bag.
"How on earth are you doing NEWT level Arithmancy, Harry?" Hermione queried, clearly shocked, as Harry opened the textbook and began to make connections and calculations between the letter and the concepts of Arithmancy and magic as described by the textbook.
Harry simply glared at Hermione before turning to Ron.
"Ron, give me three random numbers."
Ron, who was halfway through eating a rasher of bacon, said "Uhm… twelve, eighty-two, and five."
Both Hermione and Harry immediately disparaged Ron for his stupid and disgusting choice of numbers.
"Do you have any idea how Arithmancy works-" "Are you insane? What kind of numbers are those-" "You could get someone killed-" "Honestly, Ronald-" "Or worse-" "Why are you even at Hogwarts-" "Expelled."
After the pair finally calmed down from Ron's incomprehensible bout of madness, Harry turned his attention away from the quivering Ron to Hermione.
"Hermione, you have a better grip on reality than Ron, could you give me three random numbers, please?" Harry asked politely.
"Of course, Harry: eight, ten, and sixteen."
Harry noted down passing thoughts along with those numbers and gasped as every piece fell into place. He gazed down at his notes and calculations in wonder.
Using Parocerete's Theorem, alongside the affluence and conjecture of the numbers' roundabout equivalence with quantitative easing, one can conclude that the examination of stated random numbers from one Hermione Jane Granger (Burke's Law gives that name a monetary appreciation of 'pricelessness', one of the rare attributes assigned only to truly magical names and people), combined with the integral internal dynamics required for understanding the difficult muggle concepts of 'mathematics' and the 'alphabet', can only lead to one thing:
8-10-16 → H-J-P
"Hermione, you're an absolute star! Oh, I think I've just fallen even more in love with you!" Harry breathed breathlessly.
Oblivious to the connotations of what he just said and how it ever so fluttered Hermione's heart, Harry informed the crowd of his new findings.
"Thanks to Hermione's utter - and usual - brilliance, I've concluded yet another vital bit of information in my investigation into who sent this letter: they were sorted into Hufflepuff and it took the Sorting Hat seven minutes to sort them."
Mutterings of 'oh, of course' and 'how could I not see that?' radiated through the enlarging crowd. Students of all houses had congregated, and Harry wondered whether or not the author of the love letter was in that very crowd, listening to him dissect their letter.
Harry was almost there, he could feel it. There was just one more thing missing…
He reached back into his bag and pulled out a miniature cauldron as well as various ingredients stored in a small box, and other potions utensils. Enlarging the equipment, he placed the cauldron on the table and filled it with water with a quick aguamenti.
Everyone looked on in confusion as Harry set out to create a potion of sorts. He began by heating the water to boiling point before chopping up gillyweed and very carefully crushing a small chunk of Erumpent horn into powder using a pestle and mortar.
It didn't take long for Hermione to realise what he was making as he stirred the mixture in the cauldron twenty-eight times anti-clockwise at a rate of half a stir per second.
"Harry? I-is that Plocombe's Parchment Probe Potion? T-that's incredible, that's a mastery level potion!" she exclaimed.
Harry grinned at her and reveled in her praise momentarily until a voice he very much did not want to hear cut through the Great Hall.
"POTTER!" Severus Snape shouted, stomping and slicing through the crowd to get into Harry's face "What do you think you are doing? Are you so arrogant that you think you can-"
All of a sudden, Snape stopped speaking as he looked into Harry's cauldron.
"I-is that Plocombe's Parchment Probe Potion? T-that's incredible, that's a mastery level potion!" Snape exclaimed, stunned, then he looked down to his feet (just as Hermione muttered 'that's what I said' to herself) and said through gritted teeth, "T-twenty points to Gryffindor."
Everyone stood gobsmacked as Snape slithered silently out of the Great Hall, presumably to wallow in misery in his private quarters. Snape never gave points to Gryffindor, and then he just gave twenty to Harry of all people! Harry could already see some students rushing off to the owlery, most likely to tell their parents and contacts within the Daily Prophet about this monumental event.
Harry put the finishing touches into the potion - a single drop of firewhiskey (not that he'd tell Hermione where he got that from) that turned the potion pink - and cracked his knuckles, preparing for what would hopefully be the big reveal. Carefully ripping off a corner of the letter, he dropped the piece of parchment into the cauldron and it floated downwards through the air.
As it slowly drifted down, chatter within the crowd built up again, the shock from Snape's proclamation put to one side. It dropped gently into the pulsating pink liquid and… nothing happened.
Ron, looking confused, leaned over the cauldron to see what was (or what wasn't) happening. Before Harry could realise Ron's mistake and pull him away from the cauldron, the potion erupted into a large flame, singing off all the hair on Ron's head and face.
It wasn't a pretty sight, but at least he wasn't ginger anymore.
Harry, meanwhile, looked into the very much ruined cauldron and, with a flick of his wand, levitated the smoking piece of parchment that was somehow still intact. Bringing it up to his eye, unaware of all the other eyes currently watching him in anticipation, Harry let out a great sigh.
It wasn't enough.
But it was close.
"Right, I'm close. This potion has given me another bit of vital information-" Harry paused, not for tension purposes, but simply because he had a bit of phlegm stuck in his throat and he was trying to swallow it. Clearing his now clear throat, Harry continued, "Anyways, this potion revealed to me when I inspected the parchment it's from Tomes and Scrolls in Hogsmeade, and it's their 'extra thick but not so thick it's ridiculous' parchment."
Hermione nodded in acknowledgement and apparent approval, obviously aware of that particular type of parchment.
"As such, I can work out that the Secret Admirer has an older sister."
A wave of 'ahh's rolled through the crowd, creating a beautiful sound as everyone hit the notes required to make a C# minor chord.
But Harry wasn't satisfied. He still needed one elusive piece of information that would make everything click. Sitting back down on the bench, Harry took off his deerstalker hat to wipe his brow and think about his course of action. Hermione shuffled next to him, pulled a handkerchief out of her bag, and started to wipe Harry's brow for him. She leaned towards him and whispered.
"You've got this Harry. You're so close. I believe in you."
Hermione gave Harry a kiss on the cheek, causing him to heavily blush as his fingers stroked where Hermione's lips landed. 'Too bad she won't give me more kisses like that, seeing as she doesn't feel that way about me…' Harry mused sadly.
Shaking himself out of his reverie, Harry put back on his deerstalker and got to thinking. It apparently hadn't occurred to the crowd that they had lessons, but the presence of various teachers suggested that maybe they had forgotten as well.
There were probably quite a few students standing outside of classrooms wondering what the fuck was going on.
It was many minutes later that Harry's eyes lit up and he abruptly stood up from the table.
"Sir Nicholas?" Harry called out into the Great Hall.
Nothing seemed to happen but then Sir Nicholas poked his head through the smoldering remains of Harry's cauldron.
"How can I help you, Harry?" Sir Nicholas asked.
"Sorry if this sounds a little insensitive, but I have a favour to ask of you…" Harry looked as though he was debating asking Sir Nicholas the question, "Could I… could I drop this letter through your neck-hole?"
The crowd gasped at the sheer audacity of Harry's question, but Sir Nicholas just chuckled.
"Of course, my boy! I haven't had anyone drop something down my neck-hole in almost three-hundred years!"
Harry breathed a sigh of relief as Sir Nicholas floated next to Harry and tipped his head to the side. Reaching up with the letter in his hand, Harry dropped it and waited for it to come through Nick's ghostly arse. Moments later, Harry had in his hand a slightly sticky piece of parchment (it turns out that the rear of a ghost is where the highest concentration of ectoplasm is), and moments after that Harry pumped his fist, jumped for joy, and screamed,
Only the muggleborn and muggleraised students seemed to understand Harry's exclamation, and Hermione giggled the hardest, whilst the other students stared at Harry strangely.
Sitting back down with a face-splitting grin, Harry addressed the crowd, who were listening with unwavering attention.
"Ladies and gentlemen, I have for you the answer to whom has sent me this love letter!"
The rapt attention of both the students and teachers was intense, and Harry could feel dozens of pairs of eyes on him as they waited restlessly for his discovery. The strongest pair had to be Hermione's, though. Harry chanced a glance at her and saw that she was staring at him with a glassy look he couldn't decipher. She was biting down on her bottom lip and breathing heavily, squirming slightly in her seat. Perhaps the sight of Harry being covered in ink and soot whilst surrounded by countless pieces of parchment with copious notes did something for her. 'No,' Harry thought, 'She probably just needs the loo'.
"The person who wrote this love letter is… Astoria Greengrass!"
An eruption of applause erupted amongst the crowd and Harry stood up to bow and shake the hands of impressed students and teachers. Professor Flitwick came up to him and announced that Gryffindor and Hufflepuff had been awarded one hundred points each due to Harry working out who the letter was from. The noise from the Gryffindor and Hufflepuff students increased after that. It was only when a voice cut in that the noise stopped.
"Oh for fucks sake."
Harry turned his head to the voice and saw Daphne Greengrass, a half-ogre that he had only ever seen taking the Charms OWL exam back in fifth year. He had never seen or heard of her before or after that exam, so Harry assumed that she was home-schooled and only came to Hogwarts to take her OWLs, but apparently he was mistaken.
"I'll take that to my sister and give her the bad news," Daphne grunted, "I told her she wouldn't have a chance against Granger, but here we are…"
Harry didn't know what she meant by that, but passed the letter over to Daphne who exited the Great Hall with heavy stomps shortly after.
Sighing, Harry took a seat, accepting the praises of a few more students as the students and teachers finally made their way to their classes.
Hermione was staring at Harry, no longer with that indecipherable glassy look from earlier.
"How come you could work out who that letter was from but not the other ones you've been sent?" Hermione asked.
She seemed awfully interested in Harry's response, which confused him as to why that was the case.
"Because those letters don't have any hints as to who they could be from," Harry whispered, "This letter was full of them!"
"Oh for goodness sake…" Hermione said, before dropping her head to the table with a thud.
Meet me in the alley between Dervish & Banges and Dogweed & Deathcap at 11:30.
A very frustrated and incredibly bewildered Hermione Granger.
It was Valentine's Day, and Harry was staring at the latest and final letter from his secret admirer. It had been one hell of a journey from the very first letter from the mysterious secret admirer, to this final letter from the mysterious secret admirer. Their ability to stay so mysterious was astounding, and Harry was looking forward to finally finding out who they were.
He was standing in that very alley, wrapped up in his warmest clothes as the cold and snow had hit Hogsmeade hard. Harry was checking his watch constantly, waiting for 11:30 to arrive, and with each minute that passed, he got more and more antsy.
He wasn't sure what to expect, really. What if the person was someone horrid? In the back of his mind, Harry knew that he'd compare the secret admirer to Hermione, and if he was being honest, his secret admirer would have to be Hermione herself to even come close to comparing to her. Sadly, Harry knew that wasn't the case, but it wouldn't do him or his secret admirer any good if he dwelled on that. He'd give them a chance, they certainly deserved that much.
There was less than ten minutes left until 11:30 now. In the distance, he spotted a lone figure walking down the pathway from Hogwarts towards the village. Even though they were still pretty far away, Harry could tell that they seemed to be moving pretty fast, and he idly wondered whether that was his secret admirer. He also observed various couples doing 'couple' things around Hogsmeade. Ron, bald head and all, was with Lavender Brown. Neville was being dragged around (literally) by Daphne. Colin Creevey was walking with a cardboard cut-out of Harry.
However, he was then distracted by a shout behind him.
Harry turned around and saw a girl with ginger-red hair approaching him.
"Oh, Harry! Have you decided to meet me in Hogsmeade after all?" the girl gushed happily and walked towards him, her hips swaying with every step.
Harry frowned as the girl approached him, and he had the nagging feeling that he had seen her before. Yes... he recalled that she was in some way related to Ron... This was Ron's... cousin? Daughter? Something like that.
'Shit, what was her name? Something alcoholic...' Harry thought, panicking.
"Go away, uh... Whisky," he said, trying to shoo the annoying girl away.
"It's Ginny," the girl hissed. Harry wondered why she was mad. He had been pretty close.
"Go away, Martini!" he repeated. "I'm about to meet my secret admirer."
"But…" for a moment, the girl looked crushed before she collected herself.
"Well, maybe I am your secret admirer?" she asked with a hushed voice and stepped closer towards him.
"No, you're not," Harry stated flatly.
"And how would you know that?" Cocktail questioned.
"Because your shoe size is four and your coat is missing a button on the left sleeve," Harry said as if it explained everything (because it did). Honestly, sometimes Harry wondered how people could be so unobservant. It was a basic skill, for crying out loud!
The annoying girl looked at him uncomprehendingly for a long while, but then gave off a huff of annoyance.
"Fine!" whatsername exclaimed, "I'll be waiting for you when you come to your senses."
Harry shook his head with bemusement as the human-being ('I think it's human, anyway') turned and left, glad that the distracting thing was finally gone. He turned around to continue observing the figure that was marching towards Hogsmeade coming from Hogwarts.
By now, he could make out that they had a bushy mane of brown hair that very much reminded him of Hermione.
He smiled fondly at the thought. How wicked would it be if his secret admirer shared the same hair colour of the person that he loved most in the whole world?
Then, the figure disappeared from his view behind a row of houses as they got closer to the village, and Harry waited giddily with anticipation for them to arrive in the alley soon.
Looking at his watch again, Harry saw the hands strike 11:30. He looked at the entrance of the alleyway, waiting for his secret admirer to come round the corner.
Instead, he saw Hermione.
She walked up to him with an angry expression, one that would likely be in Harry's nightmares for years to come, and kissed him.
Her lips were warm and welcoming, especially in this cold weather. Harry savoured the sweet flavour of spearmint still fresh in Hermione's mouth. She placed her hands on his face, deepening the kiss she seemed so desperate to have. Eventually, the pair pulled apart from one another stared lovingly into each other's eyes; brown gazing at green.
"Uhh… wow Hermione. T-that was great. But why did you kiss me? I'm waiting for my secret admirer to arrive."
Her eyes immediately darkened.
"How have you not figured it out you moron!" She snapped, "I'm your secret admirer, I'm the one who's been sending you those letters!"
"That was you? Wow! You hid that really well. You could've given me a million letters and I'd never have figured it out!"
"I know." Hermione hissed venomously, so much so that Harry thought she was speaking Parseltongue.
Suddenly, the next thing Harry knew was being wrapped up in a Hermione Hug™, her grip tight enough to crack his ribs. She was crying.
"I l-love you!" Her shaky shouts were muffled by Harry's coat, "I love you so much, and you love me, and yet you didn't even realise that I was the one sending you letters."
"I love you too, Hermione," Harry replied, his heart soaring, "I love you so much, too."
Hermione leaned back and gazed into Harry's eyes, "Now, I want to spend Valentine's Day with my boyfriend, how does that sound?"
Harry's heart plunged into his stomach. 'She already has a boyfriend… of course she does, she's Hermione! Why would she be with me when she could be with anyone she wants…'
"Um… who is your boyfriend, Hermione?"
Her eyes seemed to go completely black as she took a heaving breath and let loose.
"YOU! YOU FUCKING IDIOT, YOU! YOU ARE MY BOYFRIEND!" Hermione yelled, before throwing herself back into Harry's arms.
"Oh, wicked!" Harry said, grinning.
And it was.
Walking out of the alley hand-in-hand, the new couple ventured into Hogsmeade on their very first date. What greeted them took Hermione by surprise, as she gave a yelp as she spotted the large crowd gathered in front of the alley. It didn't take Harry by surprise, obviously, considering the cracks in the bricks of the buildings and the pattern of owl droppings against the walls allowed him to deduce that this would occur.
Applause broke out, started by Ronald 'The Bald One' Weasley. Whoops and cheers echoed around Hogsmeade, and various reporters from various newspapers asked questions and took photographs of the pair. Professor Flitwick approached the new couple and gave them one house point each for finally completing the Valentine's Challenge.
Eventually, the crowd broke off and allowed Harry and Hermione to spend some time alone with one another. Hermione snuggled close to her boyfriend, sighing in content.
"Happy Valentine's Day, Harry."
"Happy Valentine's Day, Hermione."