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Drabble Prompt #4 for darsynia

Originally Posted: June 4, 2008

Fame made him uncomfortable. Even after all this time, Harry wasn’t used to it, and he hoped that he never got used to it. It had been worse in the months since the Battle at Hogwarts, though. He hadn’t thought anything could top the publicity during the Tri-Wizard Tournament, but he’d been very wrong. He couldn’t do anything, it seemed, without someone being there to shake his hand, to hug him, or to thank him. When they weren‘t doing that, they were trying to take his photograph and intrude on his private life.

The women were the worst. It was awkward, having strangers proposition him or sending him love letters and knickers in the post. He didn’t mind the kids much, cause they were young and made him smile, but the women bothered him. They didn’t know him at all, but they were all over him, wanting to dance and ignoring the fact that he wasn’t interested. Tonight was no exception.

The only reason he was attending the gala was because Lee Jordan had personally invited him. Potterwatch was winning some sort of wizarding broadcasting award that he’d never heard of but was assured meant Something Important for Lee. It was impossible to quietly attend, which was why he generally avoided these functions. It had got too overwhelming tonight, which was why he’d found a hiding spot on the balcony. It was surprisingly easy to disappear when he had an opportunity; it was just finding the opportunity.

When he heard the sliding door, he tensed and gripped his wand, ready to Apparate if someone had cornered him unexpectedly. He relaxed when he recognized the footsteps, and soon smelled her familiar scent as she walked up behind him. She moved her arms around his waist, hugging him from behind before she rested her cheek on his shoulder blade.

“I thought I’d find you out here.”

“It was getting suffocating in there.”

She laughed softly. “Too much smelly perfume?”

Her hands were joined and resting against his belly. He moved his hand to lie on top of hers, squeezing gently as he stared over the rail. “They’re like vultures. As soon as you went off to dance with every man in attendance, they attacked me. Red lips, sharp nails, and a stench of floral surrounded me. I’m not hiding. I’m just protecting myself.”

“I never said you were hiding, Harry. I do object to the claim that I was dancing with every man, however. Ron and Neville are two out of, oh, a few hundred in attendance, I’d guess.”

“What? You didn’t count them?” He grinned as she harrumphed behind him. “Can we leave now?”

“The awards are given out,” she said thoughtfully. “And I managed to be polite and socialize enough to make up for you glowering at everyone. Fortunately, you look very handsome this evening, so most people didn’t notice your scowl.”

“Hermione,” he whined, deliberately brushing his thumb over the back of her hand. She shivered slightly, which made his smile widen. “If we leave, I’ll make it worth your while.”

“Are you propositioning me, Potter?” She sounded amused, but he could hear the husky tone to her words that meant he was getting to her.

He shifted and turned to look down at her. Giving her his most irresistible smile, he asked innocently, “What if I am, Granger?”

She arched a brow and shook her head. “You’re incorrigible. I think you only agree to attend these things so that you can seduce me into running away with you before they’re half over.”

“Funny how it never takes very much seduction.”

“Harry! Just for that, I should make you stay longer.”

“But you won’t.” He reached up and brushed a curl of hair away from her cheek. “I know that you hate these things as much as I do.”

“Those women are just begging to be hexed. If we stay too long, I’ll give in to the impulse, so it’s simply safer to leave early,” she informed him matter-of-factly. “They really need to learn that I’m not the most patient person, especially when it comes to you.”

“Is that a ‘yes, we can leave so you can seduce me until I can’t talk anymore’ or am I misunderstanding?”

She rolled her eyes and moved her head so she could kiss his palm. “It’s a ‘yes, we can leave so you can attempt to seduce me despite both of us knowing that you’ll be the one unable to talk by morning’.”

“Details, details. The only important part of all that was ‘yes’ and ‘seduce me’,” he decided. “I’ll go get our cloaks, and you can give Ron the signal. I’ll meet you in the lobby in five minutes.”

He kissed her before she left, smiling as she blushed and fussed with her hair as if everyone couldn’t tell that she’d just been snogged well and good. After she shut the door, he took a deep breath and prepared to face the crowds one last time before he could escape with Hermione. That was always the best part of these functions.