From the Silver Doe to Malfoy Manor

The Calm Before the Storm

That night, Hermione offered to make dinner. It was Ron's turn but he didn't argue because he assumed she was doing it to make up for scaring him half to death earlier. It was a clear night and he and Harry were sitting outside around the fire while Hermione cooked inside. It wasn't long before delicious smells began to issue forth from the tent.

"What's she making?" Ron said. "It smells amazing."

"It smells like meat," Harry said.

"We don't have any meat," Ron said. He started to get up, but Harry grabbed his arm. "Don't look a gift horse in the mouth, Ron. Besides, it's Hermione, she probably just found some new mushrooms that smell like meat when they're cooking."

Ron shrugged and sat back down. "Yeah. So, I was thinking we could go to—"

Hermione stepped out of the tent with three plates balanced awkwardly.

"Oh, hey," Harry said.

"Take the one on my arm," she said.

"Hermione," Ron said. "I think I'm in love." Each plate had a steak, mashed potatoes and green beans on it.

She snorted softly and handed him a plate.

"I'll get drinks," Harry said.

"No need," Hermione said, setting her plate down and getting out her beaded bag. She got out a four pack of Guinness Pub Draught and pulled out a can for each of them.

Ron's mouth dropped open. "Who are you and what have you done with Hermione Granger?" he sputtered, as he popped open the can of beer.

"Happy birthday," she said.

Ron paused and thought. "It's March first?"

"Yes," she said, picking up her plate. She handed them knives and forks before opening her own can of beer.

"Happy birthday, mate!" Harry said, cheerily holding up his can of Guinness. They all clinked their cans together.

"Thank you," Ron said. "Thank you so much." He cut off a piece of steak and moaned when he put it in his mouth. "This is delicious." He liked the Guinness too. "Not as sweet as a butterbeer but not as bitter as Dragon Scale," he declared.

They sat in happy silence eating for a while.

"Hang on," Ron said, pointing at Hermione with his fork. "Did you go to a market today? Is that where you were?"

Her cheeks colored. "There was a small market in town. I wasn't in there long and I was under a glamor charm."

"That was still bloody risky to do on your own in broad daylight," Ron said, but not angrily.

She shrugged. "It's your birthday."

"Yeah, but it's not like we celebrated your birthday," he said.

"Well, my birthday didn't exactly fall at an opportune time," she said quietly.

"Right," Ron said. "So, we'll celebrate now then. To Hermione," he said and held up his can of beer. Harry clinked his against it.

Hermione smiled and opened her beaded bag again. "They didn't have a bakery at this market and we don't have an oven, so I just got biscuits for desert." She pulled out a box of Jaffa Cakes and a packet of Hobnobs.

"Perfect," Ron said.

Harry was staring at his can of Guinness. "How did you buy beer? You didn't use your own ID, did you?"

"No. I have a fake one with a different name that says I'm twenty."

"Oh," Harry said. He cocked his head at her and started to say something, but Ron finished his beer and Hermione handed him the last one.

"We should split this one," Ron said.

"You two split it," Hermione said. "It's been so long since I've had beer, that one went right to my head."

Ron went into the tent and brought out a tumbler and the radio. "I thought I might luck out and we can hear Potterwatch tonight." He poured half the remaining Guinness into the tumbler and handed it to Harry. Hermione lay on her back and looked at the stars while Ron fiddled with the radio. "I think it's too early," he said after a few minutes. He kept fiddling with the dials until a song started playing.

"Stop," Hermione said. "I love that song."

Ron looked at the radio. It wasn't even a magical station. There must be a Muggle station very nearby or the clouds were bouncing the signal just right for it to bleed over.

Hermione got to her feet. "We should dance. Come on." She grabbed Harry's hand and pulled him to his feet. Then she reached for Ron, who happily got up. She pointed her wand at the fire and sparks began to swirl and pulse with the beat of the music and then so did she. Ron felt like a right prat dancing, but he didn't care, he hadn't seen her smile like this in so long, he would do anything to keep her happy. She moved freely between him and Harry taking their hands and twirling around. She shimmied against him and Ron thought he might die right there. Harry, proving himself to be Ron's best mate, subtly stepped aside and let them dance.

The song had an infectious beat and two singers, a female lead singing of dreaming of love so true, and then a deep voiced male, singing of a vision of love and the difference between lovers and fakes. Ron had never heard the song before but it was clear Hermione was very familiar with it. She knew just how to move and when the music would shift. Ron mostly just let her dance holding her hand and twirling her around whenever she seemed to want that. She didn't seem to care that he was awkward, she just moved around him, always on beat and moving easily.

When the song faded into static and the station disappeared, Hermione flopped on to the ground still smiling.

"Good song," Ron ventured. "I've never heard it."

"Muggle group," she said. "Real McCoy, I think they're called. It was in heavy rotation a couple of summers ago. We danced a lot to that song."

"We?" Ron asked, hoping it sounded as casual as he wanted it to.

"You know, kids at the resort where I stayed with my parents."

"Ah," Ron said. He picked up the can of Guinness and finished it off. "Is that where you drank this beer too?"

She sat up straight. "No. We mostly drank Estrella. I think I'll go to bed. It's getting late and I have second watch."

Ron nodded. "Okay. Goodnight."

"Night," she said. Harry nodded at her and she went inside.

Ron turned the can of Guinness in his hands and wondered about the Hermione that went dancing and drinking at a resort with a bunch of people he didn't know. He looked at Harry, "You've got first watch, right?"

Harry nodded. "Yeah."

"I'm going in then." He got to his feet and went inside. Hermione was coming out of the bathroom as he walked in. They almost ran into each other.

"Sorry," they said at the same time.

"I wanted to thank you again," Ron said, "for the birthday party. It was fantastic. Dinner was delicious and the beer was a nice change and the dancing was…also good." He cringed inside at how awkward that came out.

"It was fun," she said. "I should go to bed though."

"Hermione." She turned back to look at him. "I didn't mean anything when I asked about the beer. I just…when we were talking the other day and…well…what you said about living in two worlds and how I didn't know anything about the Muggle part of you…I…well…if it's part of you, I reckon I'd like to know about it."

She gave him a sad sort of half smile. "No need," she said quietly. "There's nothing left of that life." She slipped under her curtain before he could think of a response.


They never got a chance to look for the missing village of Forvie, because the next night Ron managed to get Potterwatch on the radio and Harry was so excited that Voldemort was rumored to be abroad, which he thought meant he was still looking for the Elderwand, that he forgot about the trace, and said the name. And all hell broke loose.