Catherine managed to not fall flat on her face as she was hurled from the fireplace in the back room at the Golden Snitch. Coughing from the soot she had spun up, she quickly pulled her wand out (she had shrunk it to fit in her small evening bag) and cleaned herself off. Looking around for Grace and not finding her, Catherine figured she had gone to the club area already. Oliver had the fireplace put in back as to not have people stumbling out of it in the midst of the club. Walking through the door, she spied Grace chatting up a good-looking wizard who was leaning against the bar.
“You work fast.” Catherine commented, coming up behind Grace.
“Cath!” Grace exclaimed. “When did you get here?”
“About thirty seconds after you.” She replied dryly. “I’m going to go put my purse down and get a drink, I’ll meet up with you later.” She walked off towards the coatroom and then found herself a table far enough away so that she could observe and not be bothered too much. Ordering a glass of red wine, she sat back and observed the people who were arriving. Ordinarily, she didn’t really care for parties and clubs too much, preferring to sit at home by a fire with a fat book. She enjoyed her own company for the most part and didn’t mind being alone. Catherine smiled as she spotted Grace pulling her man for the evening onto the dance floor. Oliver certainly had a good turnout. The alcohol was flowing freely, a famous wizard DJ was playing excellent dance music, and everyone seemed to be having a good time.
Including a certain person who had just stepped in the door.
She drew a sharp intake of breath as she tried not to obviously stare at him. He had changed from the robe he wore earlier to a green chenille sweater that matched his eyes exactly, and a pair of black dress pants. His hair was in disarray as usual, his bangs pushed to one side so his unusual lightning bolt scar was visible. Catherine could see Caitlyn clinging to his hand tightly. She was surprised to see children here at a club like this, but she supposed they must be friends of Oliver’s. She finished off her wine and looked for a waiter, but couldn’t find one in the ever growing crowd. She sighed and left the comfort of her tucked away table and tried to fight her way back to the bar.
Harry watched as Caitlyn and Blue were whisked away by Oliver to an upstairs room where they could have fun with some other kids their age, he was hoping Caitlyn would meet some of her future Hogwarts friends there.
“Have a good time!” he called to her and she waved back in return.
“Shall we go have a drink mate?” Ron asked, tugging on his light blue dress shirt that Lavender had made him wear.
Harry and Lavender both nodded and they all wove their way through the throngs of dancing people to the bar.
“What do you want?” Ron shouted to Lavender. She asked for a cosmopolitan, and Harry requested a Merlot, while Ron decided on a vodka martini. They all took their drinks and headed back out into the club.
“Hey!” Oliver cried as they approached. He had his arm around a strikingly beautiful woman. “Glad you made it!”
“This is quite a place Oliver.” Harry said, taking a better look around. “I never figured you for the club type.”
“I really wasn’t until a few years ago.” Oliver replied. “This place was a wreck when I first came upon it, and a steal at that. The whole idea of a club was born from this woman here.” He grinned at the girl he had his arm around.
“This is Sara, by the way.” Oliver said. “She’s my fiancée.”
“Congratulations Oliver.” Harry replied.
“Sara, this is Ron and Lavender Weasley, and this is Harry Potter.” Oliver made the introductions.
“Nice to meet all of you.” Sara replied, tossing her dark red hair over her shoulder and smiling at Oliver. “Care to tango with me?” without waiting for an answer from Oliver, she was pulling him to the dance floor, waving at Ron, Harry and Lavender.
Lavender turned her eyes on Ron. “She’s got the right idea.”
“No way.” Ron said. “You know how bad a dancer I am.”
“Please?” Lavender wheedled. Harry laughed at him. Lavender whirled around to face him.
“You dance with me then.” She said. Ron sniggered and Harry was pulled to the dance floor much like Oliver had moments before. He found himself pleasantly surprised at the fact that he was able to move his body easily to the music that was being pumped all over the large room. He and Lavender were pressed close together when she happened to look over his shoulder. Her eyes widened.
“What?” Harry asked, catching the expression on her face.
“Did you see who is here?” Lavender asked.
“No.” Harry said. “Who?” Lavender spun him around and his jaw dropped.
It was Hermione, or rather, as she had introduced herself, Catherine. She was sitting idly at the bar, and looked a little bored. Her long hair was pulled back from her face, and her green dress was clinging to curves that made Harry ache in places he hadn’t known existed.
“She was looking at you.” Lavender replied wickedly.
“What? She was not.” Harry said, flustered.
“Yes she was.” Lavender replied. “You should go talk to her.”
Harry rolled his eyes. “I’ve already made a fool out of myself in front of her today by calling her Hermione.”
“Well…” Lavender said. “You still don’t’ know she isn’t. I could go talk to her, but I didn’t know her as well as you and Ron did.”
Harry realized this was true- Hermione and Lavender had really only been friends after they had graduated from Hogwarts.
“Go on.” Lavender said, giving him a push. Harry pushed his way through the people and made his way to the bar. He came up behind Catherine and tentatively tapped her on the shoulder.
“Hi.” He said, bending lower so she could hear.
Catherine jumped and dropped her glass on the floor. It shattered on the floor, her wine splashing out in every direction.
“Oh crap.” She muttered, her face going bright red. She bent over to try and wipe up some of the mess at the same time as Harry, and they knocked heads.
“Ouch!” they both said at the same time. Catherine looked up into eyes that were as green as a lush meadow.
“I am so sorry!” Harry apologized profusely. If she didn’t think he was a complete idiot before, he was positive she would now.
“No, it’s my fault.” Catherine said, her face still flaming. “I’m so clumsy.”
“I… I shouldn’t have snuck up behind you like that.” Harry said. “It’s my fault.”
“No really, you have no idea how klutzy I really am, I dropped the glass, it’s my fault.”
“Yeah but you wouldn’t have dropped it if I hadn’t come up behind you.”
Catherine stopped for a moment and thought. “You know, you’re right. This is your fault.”
Harry opened his mouth but no sound came out. He stared at her.
“I’m just kidding!” Catherine said, the first really genuine smile of the evening breaking out onto her face. Harry’s face relaxed and he smiled as well.
“You know, I think you were right before…your fault.” He said and they both laughed. The tension that had been between them evaporated, and they both felt more comfortable than before.
“May I sit down?” Harry asked.
“Long as you don’t break the stool.” She said in reply.
“Funny.” Harry grinned at her. “Look, since I startled you and you dropped your glass, can I buy you another drink?”
“Okay.” She replied. “Merlot.” She told the bartender. Harry stared- Merlot was the drink he and Hermione used to have together all the time.
“Are you all right?” Catherine asked him. Harry shook his head to clear his thoughts.
“I’m fine.” He replied. “I’ll have the same.” He told the bartender, and the man flicked his wand and instantly two glasses of red wine were in front of them. Harry looked back at Ron, who was giving him a huge grin and motioning with his head for Harry to take Catherine someplace more private. Harry frowned and shook his head at Ron; it wasn’t the right time for something like that.
Harry knew he’d have to take this slowly; he couldn’t come right out and ask Catherine if she was his missing wife, and he certainly didn’t want to make her wary of him in the least bit. It took him a minute to realize that Catherine was looking at him again with an amused expression.
“Are you sure you’re okay?” she asked. “You look really spaced out.”
“Yeah, I’m really fine.” Harry said. “It’s just been a really long day, what with meeting old friends and showing Caty around. It’s nice being back here.”
“Why did you leave?” she asked. He was silent a moment and she noticed a flicker of pain across his face. “I’m sorry, am I being too nosy?” she asked.
Harry smiled briefly. “No, it’s all right…but the reason I left is a rather long, and not too happy story. I’d rather not bore you with the details.”
Catherine nodded; she supposed she didn’t feel too put out. “It’s all right.” She replied. A lock of her dark hair fell over her shoulder and she pushed it back, smoothing it down with her hand.
“I’d rather talk about you.” Harry said, a bit boldly. She looked surprised.
“There’s really not much to know about me.” She said. “I mean, I work in a bookstore, I like to read books, listen to music…I’m pretty simple.” Catherine shrugged.
‘Hermione…Hermione…’ Harry ticked off everything she said in his head. God, this woman was more and more like Hermione the more he found out about things she liked and disliked. “Do you come downtown often, like this?” he asked aloud.
She chuckled. “No, I rarely come to clubs. My roommate got us entry tonight, and I figured why not?”
A comfortable silence settled between them for a few moments. Harry looked over the dance floor and saw that Lavender had finally managed to drag Ron from the table, and they were pressed together amidst all the others. He looked back at Catherine and jerked his head towards the dance floor.
“Want to try it?” he asked. Her eyebrows rose.
“Me, dance? It’s rather obvious that you don’t know me well.” She said wryly. Harry, amazed at his own daring, put his hand on hers and gripped it lightly.
“Believe me, no one is worse than I am.”
“Well I saw you out there earlier, you didn’t look too bad…” Catherine said and immediately wanted to smack herself. ‘Great, why don’t you just admit you were staring at him all night?’ she thought to herself.
But to Harry’s credit, he merely smiled and didn’t embarrass her. “It’s really not that hard.” He said as they squeezed through the tightly molded together couples currently inhabiting the floor. He purposely took them to a spot near where Ron and Lavender were currently pressed together.
Surprisingly enough, Catherine realized that Harry was right; dancing wasn’t too hard, especially since it didn’t require much movement, and that didn’t matter because there was almost no room to move. She found herself pressed up against Harry more often that not, and it wasn’t something she minded in the least.
“Is that Oliver Wood?” she asked at one point, looking over Harry’s shoulder at the brown haired man and the redheaded woman with him.
“Sure is.” Harry said. “We were Quidditch teammates at Hogwarts, so I’ve known him for years.” He looked at her and smiled. “Want me to introduce you?”
“Sure. My roommate’s going to kill me though, she’s had a crush on him for quite some time.” Catherine said, rather mischievously, and Harry laughed. He led her over to where Oliver and Sara were snogging fiercely and cleared his throat loudly.
“Oliver, Sara, this is Catherine…” Harry looked at her; he had forgotten her last name already.
“Catherine Beaumont.” She stuck her hand out to Oliver, then Sara. “It’s nice to meet you both.”
Sara smiled at her. “Likewise.”
“You know,” Oliver said, looking at her. “You remind me of someone…I can’t put my finger on who though.” Oliver smiled. “I’m sure it’ll come to me.”
“We were just going up to the roof to get a bit of fresh air. Do you guys want to come?” Sara asked.
Harry looked at Catherine, who nodded. “Sure.” He agreed.
The four of them went into the back of the club, where Oliver pressed a button in the wall, which opened to a glass elevator.
“Nice.” Harry commented. They all stepped inside and the elevator raised them up till it opened, and the four found themselves on top of Oliver’s club. The roof was made of white tile, when Harry looked closer; he found it to be made of marble. There were lanterns strategically placed along the half wall, which made for some rather subtle lighting.
“This is rather swanky.” Catherine said, voicing his thoughts. She looked over her shoulder; Oliver and Sara had moved further away from them into some shadows and were already snogging again. “Rather romantic too. I wonder why no one else is up here.”
Harry leaned on one of the half walls. “I don’t think Oliver has this set up for public use, he just brings a few people up at a time like us.”
Another silence stretched between them for a long moment.
“So…” Catherine said, trying to get a conversation going again. “What do you do, since you live in the Muggle world?”
Harry smiled. “You probably wouldn’t believe me if I told you.”
“Try me.” She said.
“I play the piano in a Muggle bar on weekends.”
“Funny. You’re a real comedian.” She said.
“You know, I’ve never tried standup. I should sometime, I hear I’m a funny guy.” Harry replied with a smile on his lips.
“No really, what do you do?”
“I just told you!”
Catherine stared at him. “You, Harry Potter, play piano in a Muggle bar?” her tone was disbelieving.
He ran a hand through his wild hair. “Well, I won’t lie. I don’t need the money, my parents left me quite a fortune that would see me through my life and depending on how I spent it, Caitlyn’s. I just do this for a little extra cash, and it’s fun.”
“I see.” She said. “What do you normally play?”
He shrugged. “Usually just whatever people request. Sometimes it’s whatever is popular, a lot of the time, believe it or not, it’s classical.”
“At a bar?”
“Yup. It’s not really one of those seedy places, it’s a rather nice bar…usually the crowd is people on dates, or business meetings even.”
“What else do you do in your free time?” she quizzed.
“Well, I spend a lot of time with Caty Cat.” He said. “I’ve also discovered in the past few years that I’m a huge movie fanatic.”
“Muggle televisions are the best aren’t they?” she agreed. She and Grace had invested in one a few years back, and Catherine had acquired quite a taste in movies herself.
“What is your favorite?” Harry asked her.
“Hmm…that’s tough to say, but if I had to pick one…it’d be Braveheart.”
Harry threw back his head and laughed. “You just like Mel Gibson in a kilt!”
“That’s not so!” she protested, but she felt her cheeks flame. “All right, maybe a little, but that’s not the only reason I like it!”
Harry smirked in reply. “Yeah right.”
“Well what is yours?” she countered. Now it was Harry’s turn to blush.
“You’re going to laugh if I tell you.” He replied.
“Maybe I will, maybe I won’t.” she said. “You’ll only know if you tell me.”
Harry dropped his head and mumbled something.
“Steel Magnolias.” He mumbled louder this time. “It’s a good movie!” he cried when Catherine started to laugh. “It is!” he said in his defense, but he was smiling too by this point.
“I’m sorry.” She said, wiping her eyes. “I really didn’t mean to laugh, but I never thought I’d see the day when a man would admit he liked that movie.”
At that moment, a rather loud gasp echoed across the rooftop. Harry peered over to where Oliver and Sara were and his face reddened.
“I think we should leave those two to themselves.” Harry said. Catherine peered around him and saw Oliver and Sara wrapped in a tight embrace, half their clothes lying on the floor.
“That sounds like a good idea.” She said quickly. They went back to the elevator and rode back down to the main club floor. Coming back to where the bar was, Harry was surprised to see that some of the crowd had dissipated, and he saw Caitlyn standing in the corner with Ron, Lavender and Blue.
“Hey.” Ron said as Harry and Catherine approached. “Where did you guys go?” he asked, giving Harry an appraising look. Harry ignored him.
“Oliver took us to the rooftop to get some fresh air.” He replied. “You guys remember Catherine right?”
“Hi.” Catherine said shyly. Caitlyn smiled up at her, and Ron kept smirking at Harry.
“How are you getting home?” Harry asked her. She looked around for Grace.
“Well, my roommate has our Floo Powder, that’s how we got here…but I don’t see her anywhere, she must have left with the guy she was with earlier.”
“I’m sure I have some extra in my bag.” Lavender said kindly. She pawed through it for a few moments. “Or perhaps none at all…” she looked at Ron.
“Looks like we’re taking the Knight Taxi Service home.” Ron said. “I don’t have any on me.” Harry pulled Ron aside.
“You guys go on ahead of me, I want to make sure she gets home okay.” He said, jerking his head a little in Catherine’s direction.
“You sure that’s all you want to do?” Ron asked, grinning stupidly.
Harry rolled his eyes. “Yes, Ron, that’s all I want to do.” He turned back to the women and felt Ron’s hand on his arm.
“You’ll tell me later, if you find out anything right?” Ron asked, the concern apparent in his eyes. He missed Hermione too.
“Sure.” Harry said. “I’ll be over as soon as I can.” They walked back over to where the rest of the group was.
“Lav, you and the kids come with me, ok?” Ron said. Caitlyn looked at her father, and he waved her off with Ron.
“I’ll be there in a little bit ok?” Harry assured her, and she nodded, glancing between him and Catherine. He knew she’d be asking questions later.
“You know, you don’t need to see me home, I’ll be fine.” Catherine said, looking to where Ron and Lavender were disappearing out the door.
“Nonsense.” Harry waved his hand. “It’s almost two am, you’re not riding in any sort of cab alone at this hour.”
Catherine was flattered at his concern. “Thanks.” She said. Harry touched her arm lightly and steered her out. He quickly managed to flag down one of the taxis and they sat inside. Catherine told the driver her address and the cab lurched away.
“You tired?” Harry asked.
“A little.” She replied. “I’m up this late usually anyways, so it’s not too bad.”
A few moments later, the taxi pulled up in front of her flat. Harry paid the driver and they got out.
“You didn’t have to pay him for me,” Catherine said as he walked beside her to the door. “I have money with me.”
“I don’t mind.” Harry said. Catherine pulled out her keys and moved to unlock her door.
“Drat!” she said as she dropped the keys on the ground. “I told you, I’m hopeless.” She said as she leaned over to get them. Unfortunately, Harry leaned over at the same time and they knocked heads for the second time that evening, this time a lot harder than before.
“Ouch!” they both said in unison. Catherine tried to straighten up and found herself stumbling forward. Harry caught her and held her up by her arms.
“Are you all right?” he asked anxiously.
“Yeah…I’ll be fine. ” she replied. She looked up and realized how close they were to each other. His hand left her arm and a second later she felt his fingertips lightly graze her forehead where it had hit his. Catherine felt dizzy as she looked into his eyes, which at the moment deep pools of emerald green; his face neared hers. He was going to kiss her, she realized, and she wanted him to. Swallowing hard, she closed her eyes in anticipation of his lips on hers.
Instead, she felt his hair brush her forehead, and she opened her eyes to see him step back from her.
“I’m sorry.” Harry said. “I…I can’t…”
“No, it’s okay…” she tried to say.
Harry sighed. “Are you sure you’re going to be okay?”
Catherine nodded, a bit disappointed. “Yeah. Grace is a nurse at St. Mungo’s, she can make this bump go away tonight.”
Harry nodded. “All right. I’ll see you later then?”
“Sure.” She said. He gave her arm one final squeeze, then he apparated away. Catherine sighed and opened the door, then went inside and locked it behind her, wondering what had just happened out there.
Harry apparated into Ron and Lavender’s home, which was near Ottery St. Catchpole. Ron and Lavender had just entered their kitchen and Lavender was making some tea.
“So?” Ron asked, not beating around the bush. Harry dropped into a chair and buried his head in his hands.
“I don’t know yet.” He replied. “She looks and acts just like Hermione, but it’s like a Hermione pod person.”
“What’s a pod person?” asked Ron.
“It’s like, someone who looks and acts like the person they’ve taken over. Like, she loves to read, she works in a bookstore…” Harry told Ron and Lavender about the conversation between the two of them that night (leaving out the Steel Magnolias part, he knew he’d never hear the end of that from Ron), and finished up by telling them about how they almost kissed. Ron looked dumbfounded.
“You almost kissed her?” he shouted. Lavender slapped his arm and shushed him.
“Don’t wake up the kids!” she said in a low tone of voice.
“Sorry.” Ron apologized. “How did that come about?” he asked Harry.
“Well,” Harry began. “We bumped heads, and when she stood back up she sort of fell forward and I caught her…something in her eyes just told me that I was holding Hermione again. I caught myself just before I kissed her…. it just wasn’t the right time yet.” He looked back up at Ron and Lavender. “Should I have?”
“No.” Lavender said firmly. “What if you had and it scared her off, then you might never find out.”
Harry nodded, thankful that he had friends like this to be here for him. “I’m tired.” He said. “Where am I sleeping tonight?”
“Guest bedroom.” Ron said. “It’s down the hall, second door on the left.”
Harry stood up and stretched. “Thanks. I’ve got a busy day ahead of me tomorrow…I’ve decided to move back here and I need to find a flat for Caitlyn and I.”
Ron had a huge grin on his face. “That’s great!” he said happily. “I don’t have to work tomorrow so I can help you if you want.”
“Sure!” Harry replied. “Good night.” He left the room and headed down the hall, peeking into Blue’s room where he and Caitlyn were sleeping in the bunk beds.
Bending over her in the bottom bunk, he kissed her forehead gently and left the room again. He found the guest room and fell onto the bed, still in his clothes. Thoughts rampaged through his mind, of Catherine, and of Hermione.
‘When will I ever find out the truth?’ he wondered to himself. Miles away, Catherine was thinking the exact same thing.