Lavender sighed as she read the last lines of her novel. She normally didn’t read romances but Hermione had shoved this one in her hands a few days before and she’d found herself quite caught up in it.
“Good book?” Henry was leaning over her.
“Yes, very.” Lavender smiled, and she flushed lightly as she recalled how she’d placed herself and Henry in the main character’s positions as she’d read. “You’re home early today.”
“Ah, well we managed to finish up sooner than expected.” Henry smiled. “Before I forget…” he dug into his pocket. “This should keep us up to date.” He handed her a small pouch of coins, which Lavender accepted.
“Thanks.” She said, getting up and brushing herself off. They walked down where Lori sat playing with some of her toys.
“Hi baby!” Henry called to his daughter.
“Hi Daddy!” she said back gaily. Henry smiled.
“She seems to be in a good mood today.” He said to Lavender.
“Yes, she’s excited that her mum will be coming home soon.” She replied, not without a pang of jealousy.
“Just a little longer.” Henry said, although to Lavender it didn’t seem like he was quite enthusiastic.
“What’s she like?” Lavender asked, unable to pique her curiosity on her own.
“Nicole?” Henry seemed surprised by her question. “She’s a great woman.”
“Where did you two meet?”
“At University, our first year there.” Henry replied. “We had a Muggle Studies course together.” He grinned at her. “It’s strange to think you still have all that ahead of you. You remind me a lot of myself when I first started out.”
“Really?” Lavender could hardly believe her ears. “Were you excited?”
“Yes, and scared shitless.” Henry replied. They both chuckled. “But, at the same time, I felt like I was really going to….live.”
“And you did, didn’t you?” Lavender asked.
“Well, here I am.” Henry spread his arms wide out. His eyes caught Lavender’s and they held their stare for a few very long moments. “Lavender…stuff happens, you know?”
Lavender said nothing, just continued staring into his eyes, it was having quite a hypnotic effect on her.
“Aren’t they going to kill you at the pizza parlour?” Henry asked, inviting her to stay for the evening without saying a word.
“No, my cousin will cover for me tonight.” Lavender said. “I’ll send an owl over with the message.”
Henry smiled, and Lori jumped up into her father’s arms.
“Fly me!” she giggled, and Henry swung her around in circles, while Lavender sighed. This was her family, her family for tonight.
*** *** *** *** ***
“Where the bloody hell is Lavender, she was supposed to be here at half past?” Hermione yelled as she burst into the kitchen.
“She sent an owl, they needed her babysitting.” Leonora said as she spun some crusts around in the air. “She said you would cover for her.”
Hermione’s jaw dropped. “I’m supposed to have dinner with Harry’s parents tonight! She knows that!” She stormed across the kitchen and grabbed a piece of parchment.
“Sweetie, that won’t get to her in time.” Leonora said. “And I’m really sorry, but I need at least one of you here tonight.”
“SHIT!” Hermione slapped her hand hard against the wall. She heard the clanging of the bells on the door and saw Harry coming up the stairs to pick her up.
“Hi, Hermione.” He grinned at her. She took him by the arm and pulled him back down outside.
“We’ve got a problem, my cousin never showed up for work tonight, I have no idea where Susan is, and it’s too busy for her to let me go.” Hermione said in a rush, she feared if she spoke any slower her words would be bogged down with tears.
“Oh no.” Harry looked terribly disappointed. “It’s okay.”
“No, it’s not okay.” Hermione was fuming. “I’m going to kill her!”
“Look, Hermione, we’ll do it another time. My parents will understand.” Harry said, touching her cheek lightly.
“Your mum’s going to think I blew her off though and your dad…”
“Listen, my Dad will probably respect you more for staying and working, that’s how he is, and my mother, don’t worry about her, I’ll make sure she knows it’s not your fault. We’ll do it another time.” Harry repeated.
“Are you sure?” Hermione asked, her large brown eyes looking sorrowfully at him.
“It’s fine.” Harry repeated firmly, leaning in and kissing her gently. “I’ll owl you later, all right?”
“Okay.” Hermione said as he squeezed her hand and got on his broom. He blew her another kiss as he flew away. She stared after him for a few long moments.
She was absolutely going to kill her cousin.
*** *** *** *** ***
Lavender sighed with a bit of trepidation as she peeked in the windows of Hogsmeade Pizza. Leonora insisted the place be cleaned the Muggle way once a week, and usually it only took a few hours but it was half past midnight and Hermione was still there. She owed her cousin an explanation, and with that in mind, she quietly opened the door and went up the stairs.
“Hi, Hermione.” She said softly. Hermione turned around and glared icily at her, then wordlessly turned back to where she was mopping the floor.
“Look, I’m really sorry I didn’t show up tonight.” Lavender was stung by her cousin’s rebuff. Hermione still ignored her, and seemed to be concentrating extra hard on her mopping. “I said I was sorry.” She said, a little louder this time. “Why are you being so bitchy about it?”
“Right, I’m bitchy, and you’re saintly, no matter what happens!” Hermione loaded her words with sarcasm.
“What’s the big deal?” Lavender was annoyed. “You always dump your shifts on me when you have plans!”
“You KNEW I was supposed to have dinner with Harry and his parents tonight!” Hermione finally exploded.
Lavender felt like she’d been hit by a ton of bricks. She felt awful. “Oh, Hermione…I’m sorry…I forgot…”
“Let me guess, Henry needed you, right?” Hermione asked. “Just what exactly do you two do together?”
“If I told you it wouldn’t sound any good.” Lavender replied hotly.
“You’re right, it would sound pathetic.” Hermione said dryly. “Daddy screwing the babysitter is such an old story!”
Lavender glared at her. “We talk, we read poetry, he helps me with Divination charts, we listen to classical music…”
“If you REALLY think this 30 year old man is going to leave his family and live happily ever after with you, you’re living in a romance novel!” Hermione sneered.
“Oh, you’re one to talk about screwing!” Lavender screamed. “You’re nobody’s fool, are you Hermione? Just how much IS Harry paying you for sex; he certainly doesn’t seem to mind taking you to exotic places. Is that how you’re repaying him?”
Hermione streaked across the room and delivered a resounding SLAP to her cousin’s cheek. “Wipe your conscience.” She threw the mop at Lavender’s feet and stormed out of the restaurant.