Lavender and Jane jogged up the front steps to their modest house, which was off the main street in Hogsmeade. Lavender held the door open for her aunt, who thanked her and headed inside.
“Hermione?” Jane called up the stairs, pulling off her sweatshirt and hanging it on a hook by the stairs. “Are you home?”
“Yes Mum!” Hermione called down.
“Why didn’t’ you come jogging with us?” Lavender questioned.
“I uh…” Hermione looked around her room with something to cover herself up with should her mother come upstairs; she knew how her mother hated the color black. “I needed to sleep in, late night.”
Jane looked disapprovingly up the staircase then over at Lavender. “I need to get lunch ready, neighbors are coming over.” She headed down the hallway to the kitchen. “Hermione, you come down now and help me get lunch!”
“Lav will!” Hermione called down.
“Thanks, Hermione.” Lavender frowned as her cousin’s head appeared at the top of the staircase.
“She gone?” Hermione whispered. Lavender went down a few steps and nodded.
“Wow!” Lavender said, her cousin looked gorgeous. She was wearing a short black strapless dress; it ended a good five inches above her knee and was glittery across the bust. “Where did you get that?”
“Gladrags.” Hermione answered, pulling up her wild curls so Lavender could see the back and twisting around. A small white tag fluttered off the back and Lavender grabbed it.
“Three hundred Galleons, are you out of your mind?” she hissed in shock. Hermione pulled away from Lavender.
“I’m going to return it, after…. I’ve worn it!” Hermione smiled brightly at her cousin. “Somewhere!” she grinned again and rushed back up the stairs.
“Hermione!” her aunt’s voice echoed down the hall. Lavender sighed, and went into the kitchen to help.
*** *** *** ***
“Wait up Lori!” Lavender laughed, running after the little girl. Henry had asked her to bring Lori by about three, and they were fifteen minutes early.
“Daddyyyyy!!” Lori shouted as they went inside the house that Henry was working on.
“Hey you!” Henry grinned as his daughter came running towards him. “How was your story hour?” Lavender had taken her up to the library, where they told Muggle fairy tales once a week.
“I got a book!” Lori said delightedly, holding it out for her father to see.
“Quidditch Through the Ages…uh oh!” Henry playfully slapped the heel of his hand to his forehead.
“She picked that out herself.” Lavender said, smiling fondly at the child. Henry reached back and grabbed a bag.
“Here’s your lunch, you can go out on the porch and I’ll be right there.” He handed the bag to Lori and she scampered outside.
“Here, Lavender, this should keep me paid up.” Henry handed her a small bag with her pay inside.
“Thanks.” She said, putting it in her pocket. “You’re all doing an amazing job on this house, the renovations must have been really vast.”
“Oh, they are, and the new owner keeps wanting more things done to it.” Henry groaned. “Would you like to see the best part?”
“Sure!” Lavender replied. They went up the stairs, to the very top floor. Henry pushed aside a plastic covering and led her out onto a deck that overlooked the expansive yard to one side, and the whole town of Hogsmeade to another. “It’s gorgeous up here!”
“Well the original owner of the house had it built so he could watch the ships come and go.” Henry said. He came over and stood next to her, leaning on the rail. “He’s got a really sad, tragic tale to him.”
“Really?” Lavender asked, intrigued. She loved folklore, whether it was true or not. She came up right next to him and leaned on the rail as well.
“Well, Charles Rochester was a rich man who spent about half his year here in England, and the other half in the United States, bartering and trading. During one of his trips, he met a lovely young woman, Katrina. They fell instantly in love, and planned to marry as soon as she was able to come over here to England. Charles came back first, Katrina was soon to follow, but her ship was lost at sea. He was devastated, of course, and would come out here every night to watch for her ship.”
Lavender sighed. “What a sad story.”
Henry turned and smiled at her. “Well a story like that makes us appreciate our significant others a little more, doesn’t it.”
Lavender smirked. “Well if I had a significant other….” She trailed off as Henry turned away again to look over the town, and something in her stomach gave a tiny lurch as the sunlight danced on his face and through his brown hair, weaving in flecks of gold.
“You know they say on stormy nights, you can hear old Charles walking around out here.” Henry said, looking at her out of the corner of his eye, a slight smirk on his face. She smiled but didn’t respond. “Of course, it could be this old, squeaky board.” He stepped on it and it let out a rather loud creak.
“Are you going to fix it?” she asked.
“Nope.” He replied. “I wouldn’t dare.” He looked down and glanced at his watch. “I’ve got to go down, I don’t’ want to leave Lori alone too long.” Lavender followed him back to the main floor. “Would you like to stay and have lunch with us?” he asked.
“I’d love to.” Lavender replied immediately. She followed Henry outside.
*** *** *** ***
“So what really happened, the day of the wedding?” Hermione asked as she, Lavender and Susan walked down by the docks later that evening. “I mean, I’ve never seen anyone pass out that way.”
“Sod off Hermione.” Susan frowned down at her. “I was scared to death, having everyone stare at me like that, and I’ve heard enough from my father about!”
“All right, sorry.” Hermione relented, grinning. Lavender glared at her and patted Susan’s arm sympathetically.
“At least everything is fine between you and Ron, and you can set a new date now!” she said.
“I guess.” Susan said, wrapping her jumper tighter around her. They walked along a few more moments in silence until they came to Ron’s boat. “Look, that was his wedding present to me. It used to be called Molly after his mom.”
“What a prince.” Hermione said dryly, hopping into the boat. She pulled on a rope that hung off the back and from the water came a six-pack of beer. “Actually, a God, make sure to tell him so.”
“Hermione, don’t take that it’s Ron’s!” Susan tried to take it from her.
“Susan, relax, when he finds out, you take off your shirt and he’ll forget all about it.” Hermione snapped, pulling a can off the ring. “I never knew he had such a fondness for Muggle beer.”
“Right.” Susan said, accepting the can Hermione handed her. Lavender grabbed one as well.
“Great Wizards, is that Saint Lavender with alcohol?” Hermione’s voice was tinged with sarcasm.
“I like to drink once in awhile, just not every weekend!” Lavender shot back.
“You’re a real lush.” Hermione teased. “You go out with ten guys every weekend too huh.”
“No that’s your department.” Lavender grinned back. “Sleeping with the town of Hogsmeade.”
“Hey now, there’s only been two, and both times it was a less than satisfactory experience.” A grimace now crossed Hermione’s face.
“Ron, on the other hand…is fabulous.” Susan interjected. “I mean, I don’t know what I’d do if…”
“Yuck, Sue, really.” Hermione said.
“I can’t help it. I get really turned on by him.” Susan said as they started walking back down the dock. “Especially by his wrists.”
“His wrists?” Lavender and Hermione looked at each other and burst into laughter.
“Yes, his wrists! They’re so big, and strong…” Susan sighed and looked up at the sky. “I think there’s something the matter with me.”
“I think so.” Hermione commented dryly.
“You’re in love, that’s all.” Lavender said in Susan’s defense. “Do you always mean to sound that bitter about love?” she asked her cousin.
Hermione stopped and sighed, turning to face them. “No, I’m sorry Susan. I really don’t intend to sound so harsh, just sometimes I always wish I knew if there was someone out there for me.”
“I’m sure there is.” Lavender said, putting an arm around her cousin’s shoulders. Susan came up around the other side of Hermione and they leaned against one another. “Now for me, on the other hand…”
“There’s always…what’s his name…Henry?” Hermione said, turning around and looking wickedly at Lavender.
“Oh, come off it Hermione.” Lavender said. “I’m his babysitter, not his mistress.”
“Not yet…” Hermione grinned slyly. “Look, seriously you two have it made, I’m going to be stuck here the rest of my life.”
“You are not…” Susan started to say but Hermione interrupted.
“Look, Lav, you’re the smartest person in the entire wizarding world, you’ll get to leave here soon, you’re going away to university. Susan, you and Ron, once you get married, can leave to start a family of your own.” Hermione paused. “All I’ve got is my smile and three beers.” She began to walk backwards as Susan’s eyes widened. “So to hell with you guys!” she shrieked and ran.
“Hey!” Susan shouted, running after her.
“Wait!” Lavender also laughed, jogging down the dock. The laughter of the three girls echoed off the water and faded into the night.
*** *** *** ***
Hermione tucked her long legs underneath her as she flipped a page in her book. She absolutely adored Muggle romance novels, and this one was no exception. Her eyes skirted quickly across the page as she became involved in the tales of Francesca Cahill and her love life. Much more exciting than her own, at any rate. On days like this when she didn’t bother leaving the house, she let herself go, her hair was pulled up in a messy ponytail high on her head, one curl falling over her forehead. She had baggy khaki colored pants on, and a tank top.
“Ding!” the sound of the doorbell reverberating through the house jolted her from her novel. She looked up to see if her mother or cousin would answer the door, but she remembered that they were still out jogging together.
“Damn it, I’m coming…” she muttered as she put a marker in her book and pulled herself off the couch. Hermione padded across the hallway in her bare feet and yanked the door open.
“What is it?” she began crossly, and froze, for none other than Harry Potter stood on her porch.