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From the Mouth

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"I'm surprised that you don't ship Jo with the intellectual."

Hermione blushed and turned away from Harry to look at the copy of Little Women in her lap. "There's something to be said about being in love with your best friend."

Harry's voice was warm and vaguely teasing. "That there is."

And because Gryffindors charge forward, she added, "And maybe there's something about Laurie's unruly black hair."

"I always did think Laurie should have ended up with the fun bookworm."

Hermione smirked and looked back to Harry. "Fun?"

His eyes twinkled as he reached over to squeeze her hand. "Fun."

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"You're the only one who gives me CDs for my birthday."

Harry shrugged. "Everyone else gets you books and you can only read one book at a time."

Hermione looked up at him and arched an eyebrow. "Is that a challenge? Wait. Why do you look guilty?"

Harry pulled at his collar.

"Harry," she growled.

"Sometimes you dance when you're listening to music. It's selfish, but it's nice seeing you act carefree."

Hermione rolled her eyes at his definition of selfishness, while Harry was glad she didn't work out that he liked seeing her bounce in place for other reasons.

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When in Hogwarts Harry had always admired Hermione's passion for her causes. However, that same appreciation was what made him wary of being in a relationship with her. Even if it started well, he knew that one day he would be in tears because he was no longer the most important thing in her life. It happened with Ron.

Despite that, he fell in love with her afterwards, and he ended up being right again about the tears. However, he was wrong about how it would feel. He was happy as they welcomed their new number one, their newborn daughter.

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Harry jumped a little as Hermione dumped a pile of books in front of him.

"Er, what's this?"

"I'm convinced that if sex was actually that bad in general the human race would not exist. Obviously, we weren't doing something right. So we're doing it again, but studying first."

Harry blinked. He knew that Hermione could be a perfectionist but didn't realize that it would extend to things like this. "I was afraid you wouldn't want to have anything to do with me anymore."

Hermione rolled her eyes. "First times aren't supposed to be good. That's what practice is for."

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"Hermione?" Harry said sleepily from her lap. "Tell me a story."

Hermione ran a hand through his messier than normal hair. "How about our happily ever after?"

His eyes fluttered closed. "Sounds good."

"I'm the one that will propose to you. I get tired of you waiting for the perfect moment and trying to hide the ring box whenever we go out. Poorly."

"Sounds like me."

"We'll have two kids and argue endlessly about what to name them."

Harry let out a hitching exhalation. "You'll want literary names and I'll want to name them after my parents. Maybe Sirius."

"We'll get a house in the country so the kids can run around without people gawking at them."

"It'll have a big library for you," he insisted.

Hermione sniffed. "Our kids will like it, too. Even better than flying."

Harry scrunched his nose. "That's what they'll tell you, but just because they don't want you to feel bad about not letting them fly."

"They're your kids. They'll nick a broom and go flying anyway."

Harry shook his head slightly in her lap. "Nah. They'll love you too much to worry you like that."

"Your kids will still want to fly."

"Maybe when it's sunny they'll run around flapping their arms like wings. Split the difference."

"And you'll chase after them with your arms spread wide. They'll scream as they run from you."

"Happy screams. Screams of light."

"Delight," she corrected automatically.

"What I said." Harry smacked his lips lightly. "Thank… was good…."

Hermione sobbed quietly. "I love you, you brave idiot." There was no response, nor would there ever be. Her sole consolation was that Harry died knowing that he was loved.

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"Harry James Potter, are you actually happy that I found a grey hair?"

Harry took a step back from his angry (but beautiful) wife. "Yes?"

"Explain. Quickly."

"This is going to sound stupid."

"Obviously."

"You know how we promised that we would grow old together?"

Hermione exhaled sharply. "It was in our wedding vows."

"Well, I was getting worried that you were trying to get out of it by not aging."

Hermione sighed. "I can't tell if that's sweet or just unobservant."

"What? You look exactly the same as when we got married."

"I'll add bad memory to the list."

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"Dad? Is there any good way to get out of doing anything for Valentine's Day?"

Harry shrugged. "Well, you could say that it was originally celebrated by slapping women with bloody goat hides and the holiday makes you sick."

Teddy groaned. "Mum fact?"

"Mum fact."

As Teddy wandered off muttering, Harry felt guilty that Teddy never had a chance at Ravenclaw because they'd taught him that knowledge is traumatizing. At least Harry didn't mention that he knew this trivia because that was the excuse he and Hermione used back in school so no one would look for them on Valentine's.

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Harry smacked his forehead. "You're time travelers! You're me! You're Hermione!"

His dad nodded. Smugly. "Took you long enough."

"No wonder you found it so funny when I said that I wanted to marry you when I grew up!"

"Honestly, Harry, every mother finds that funny."

"Well, there are some pureblood-" Harry winced at the elbow his mum sent at his dad. The masochist just grinned… and Harry just mentally insulted himself. Well, this explained a lot about his dynamic with Hermione.

"Oh God. I'm dating my mother. Literally."

"Adopted," she added.

"I'm going to need therapy. All the therapy."

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Harry wasn't the type to posture for the ladies. He seemed almost allergic to the notion of trying to attract female attention. The sole exception was for Hermione, and that was making fun of the sex god image that most of the magical world had of him.

So when he took off his shirt, struck a bodybuilder pose for her and then kissed his bicep, it was to make her laugh and not to get her to drop her knickers. Hermione had no intention to tell him how effective it would be for the latter because then he might stop.

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This seemed like an odd way to change how he felt about Halloween.

"You realize we're the only ones who will understand what we're dressed as?" Harry said as he adjusted his red and white cap.

"That's part of the appeal," Hermione said tartly.

"There are days I wonder if my inability to say no to you is actually pathological." Though Harry had to admit that her yellow bodystocking looked scrumptious. As she adjusted the costume tail, he came to a realization and groaned. "You picked these out just so everyone would hear me say that I chose you."

"Pika!"

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"Sanitation, James!"

"Five second rule!"

Hermione loved her son dearly, but sometimes she thought he had spent a little too much time with his uncle Ron. "Do you really want to apply the five second rule to surfaces your father and I have had sex on?"

James stared at the couch in horror. Then at his father, who shrugged sheepishly. James bolted to the bathroom and they soon heard retching sounds. Rude. They cleaned regularly.

"That was worth giving him the Talk," Harry commented.

"You'd think he'd appreciate his parents having a sex life. It's why he exists after all."

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"Marry me."

It felt like an eternity before she replied. "On one condition."

Harry swallowed. "Anything." Hermione wouldn't ask anything too outrageous. Right?

"Shave."

Harry sighed. "My fangirl repellent."

"You could trim it properly instead," Hermione purred, eyes darkening.

"That's even worse." He once wore a proper vandyke in public and the gossip mags were still circulating those pictures. This scraggly mess served a purpose, dammit!

"Not even for our wedding?" Hermione knew what that tone of voice did to him!

He slumped in defeat. "Fine."

"Good boy. You'll get rewarded later."

Well, there were good parts to being whipped.

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"Damn your luck, Harry!"

"It's our wedding, Hermione! This could be your luck!" They were fighting back to back, so he couldn't see her expression, but her inarticulate scream of rage adequately conveyed her disbelief.

"This never would have happened if you married a dentist!" cried her mother.

"Alien invasions are science fiction, mother! This has nothing to do with magic!"

"I told you we should have just eloped," Harry shouted as he shot another bombarda into one of the charging squid/ape things.

"That's it! I'm keeping my maiden name!"

"How does that follow?!"

"No 'I told you so's!'"

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"Your present is behind the door," Harry said nervously. Hermione didn't read too much into that since he was nervous whenever he gave her a birthday present.

She just shot him what was meant to be a reassuring look and opened the door. "Are those-?"

"Costumes from the Pride and Prejudice movie? Yes. You seemed to be interested in some of the publicity stills."

There were two mannikins adorned in the costumes, though they didn't look quite right. "Did you have them refitted for our sizes?"

"Just temporarily. Parvati did the charms. She said they should be dispelled for storage. You probably understand why better than I do."

Hermione smiled at Harry. "Did you want to have a dance?"

"Only if you don't mind sore feet. Also, Dennis offered to work the camera if you wanted to duplicate a certain photoshoot."

Hermione waved her hands to vigorously dispel that notion. "Oh, no. Keira Knightley could pull that off, but not me."

"I'm not going to force you, but at least try it on and see how you look before you say no?"

"Oh, put away those puppy dog eyes. Still… this must have cost a fortune."

"Not really. Jacqueline Durran, the costume designer for the production, she's actually a squib. I had to autograph a few things for her in return, but it was worth it."

Hermione was touched that he would actually use his fame for her considering how much he hated trading on it. "Wait. What kind of things?"

Harry sighed and slouched slightly. "Her complete collection of those stupid books."

Hermione tried and failed to stifle a giggle at that.

"I see that my misery amuses you."

Well if he went that far for her, the least she could do is give him a memento. She definitely didn't think she could wear the gown as well as Keira Knightley, but the distance between them was far smaller than the distance between the real Harry and the one from the Boy-Who-Lived books.

When they had the imitation photoshoot, their photos turned out to be much less serious than the originals. Dennis had to mount a broom to duplicate some of the camera angles and it wasn't a graceful sight at all. That was fine. Her time with Harry now was full of happiness and laughter. The pictures should reflect that.

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Harry should never had made Hermione return that library book late. Of course she declared that it meant war. He was expecting pranks or for her to outright hex him. Not low cut tops, hip hugging short shorts and a nasty tendency to unnecessarily bend over to pick things up.

He let out a cute whimper when she started to slowly lick an ice lolly - cherry flavored, to stain her lips red.

"Oops," she said as she deliberately ran the tip of the lolly down her neck to her cleavage.

Harry leaned forward, moaning.

"All according to plan," she thought.

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Like a lot of men, Harry just did not understand looking attractive to women. Oh, he knew what worked through trial and lots of error, but he didn't understand why - like what was sexy about abs, seriously? Life got a lot simpler when he realized that he only wanted to appeal to one woman.

For tonight's preparations he had to endure a James Bond marathon with Parvati and what she did to his hair was probably classified as black magic, but it was worth it when Hermione saw him walk in wearing his tuxedo inspired dress robes.

Game on, Granger.

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If you could get Harry to talk about it, he would say that he's a breast man. Hermione wasn't sure if that was societal expectations, a lie or delusion. She knew that the best way to get his motor running was to expose her back, not emphasize her chest.

For tonight's event she chose a black backless dress that was modest from the front but left her back completely uncovered except for two thin straps. With her hair in a chignon, she could feel Harry's eyes caressing her from behind all night as she talked to friends and colleagues.

Payback.

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Harry had thought he was alone in the common room (not brooding) until Crookshanks jumped on his lap. "Heya, Crooks. I don't suppose you know why Hermione doesn't want me?"

Crookshanks just stared at Harry flatly until he started petting.

"It's because I'm short, isn't it?"

The cat smacked his lips indifferently.

"I'm not funny enough?"

"Mreow."

"I'm not funny looking."

Crookshanks stared at him again.

"It's because I'm going to die, isn't it?"

The cat jumped off and ran towards the stairs where his owner was standing.

Her eyes shone wetly. "It's because I thought you didn't want me."

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Harry and Hermione had a friends with benefits arrangement. He lived in constant fear that she would end it. They said from the beginning it would be no strings attached.

There was no way he could convince himself it wouldn't happen eventually. She was smart, sexy, funny, driven…. Eventually some guy worthy of her would come along. Harry's mornings started with a prayer of "Not today."

But he was more afraid of telling her how he felt. If he did, she might call it off because he got attached.

He didn't realize that her days started with the same prayer.

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Harry pounded on the door to the broom closet. "Let us out!"

"It's for your own good!" shouted Ginny.

"You aren't coming out until you two talk about your feelings!" That sounded like Dean.

"We don't need to talk about our feelings!" Hermione punctuated that by kicking the door.

"The unresolved sexual tension has been unbearable!" Was that Luna?

Harry felt Hermione turn to him in the dark. He knew what she was asking and shrugged in response.

"We've been together since May!"

"Oh…. Then start shagging!" That was definitely Luna. Only she could create an uncomfortable silence that loud.

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"Harry, breathe."

"You don't understand. I'm the least qualified DADA professor in history."

Hermione arched a brow at her hyperventilating boyfriend. "You were brilliant teaching DA."

"It's literally my job to teach them to care about their safety."

Hermione winced. "You may not be the best example there."

"I think I'll resign at the end of the term."

Hermione knew exactly how to motivate him. "But playing naughty Head Girl is a lot less fun without a real professor."

"The worst part about using sex to manipulate me is that I can see what you're doing, but it works anyway."

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Ron gestured to the paint cans. "Why'd you do it the muggle way?"

Harry thought about saying that this way he was able to spend time with Hermione and talk about the little things. He also thought about the way Hermione looked when she wiped sweat from her brow and the intriguing path that drop of paint took when it ran down her skin.

"Because this way she couldn't constantly change her mind about colors," Harry lied.

"Brilliant that is."

Harry remembered the way she looked in her painting rags without a bra, especially bent over adjusting the tarps. "Indeed."

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Harry knew the exact moment when he realized that he loved Hermione. It said something about him that that moment was right after she hit him. Oh, it wasn't hard, and he certainly deserved it. He just said "Love you, too," which caused her to roll her eyes and leave with the book that he had been playfully hiding from her.

It was as he watched her go that he realized that it wasn't just a line. He really did love her. Now the problem was how to convince her that he meant it as a lot more than friends.

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The nice thing about Harry was that he was safe. Hermione felt free to try out different aspects of Hermione Granger that she would never let anyone else see… like wearing stiletto heels along with a bikini that had more in common with dental floss than clothing.

Safe meant, very importantly and at a bare minimum, not laughing. Safe meant acknowledging her as a sexual being without being crass about it or trying to get her to cover up. Safe meant understanding there was an offer there, but not a guarantee.

Passing out, while flattering, was a bit too safe.