. . .
Mickey McGillis was a mountain of a man, standing nearly six and a half feet as the yanks measured it. A big barreled chest and wide shoulders hinted at the physic that once was there. Now pushing into his late thirties his hair had thinned almost in direct proportion to the growth of his waist. Married and with three kids at home he couldn't complain about his lot in life. There were three things in life Mickey loved. His family, bowling and drink. In that order, though the latter two items changed position depending on how his game was going. Strangely enough, or not, how good his game went was dependent upon just how much of the last item he had consumed.
She's anice pretty bird, he thought to himself as he approached the bar and glanced about for Davy. A bit out of place though, he realized upon seeing her better than average clothing and accessories. Not seeing the lad he reached across the bar and lifted the handset to the intercom. "Oi, Davy! We could use a few pints up here, lad!" the large man's voice boomed out of the overhead speakers.
"Mick?" a confused voice came back over the speakers after a minute or so. "Be there in a tic," it said.
Mickey glanced around, offering a friendly nod to the bird at the end of the bar as he waited for Davy to get there from the back. The young brunette smiled and nodded back before looking away. Mickey grinned when he saw the boy a few minutes later come through the kitchen door behind the bar and walk over.
"You could have filled them yourself, Mick," the lad stated as he began to do just that.
"They taste better when you do it," Mickey replied with a grin. It was a long time running joke between the two of them. "Put it on the tab will ya? I should be getting paid at the end of the week. You know I'm good for it."
Davy smiled, knowing Mickey was just too lazy to fill the mugs himself. "Sure thing, Mick. Besides, I know where you live and all I need do is call Darla and she'll be giving you a proper what for!"
The large man paled at hearing those words. "That ain't even funny, mate! You know Darla wouldn't take kindly to me being here havin a sip or three."
"She's far to fit a woman for the likes of you," Davy said with a teasing grin.
Mickey gave a short bark of a laugh, "Tell me something I don't know! She's the best thing that ever happened to me, she is. Well her and my three little wee bairn that is"
"See that you don't ever forget that. I'd hate to see those three littlins of yours be without a father after Darla got done with you!"
The big burly man just gave a grin and a nod, thinking of his three little kids before titling his head towards the end of the bar and leaning over to whisper in aloud voice, "Tell me that isn't a dishy bird, mate!"
Davy glanced over at the woman who appeared to be intently looking about the place."Not from around here," he told Mick with an appropriate whisper that didn't carry through the entire place like the large man's had. "Must be lost." Davy had to admit though that the woman was very dishy at that. If she wasn't so much better than me I'd have half a mind to chat her up, he thought. It was clear at least to his eyes that the woman was very well to do while he was just a common bloke.
"Probably so," Mickey agreed leaning back up and picking up the tray of drinks."Thanks, mate! Time to go show Danny how to throw a ruddy ball! The boy is bloody hopeless."
"Oi and tell that fool cousin of yours that the next time he spills a pint I'm going to have his arse in here cleaning the floor and waxing the lanes!" Davy called as the large man walked away. Well, I'd best see what she needs, he thought with another glance towards the woman at the end of the bar. Wiping his hands on the faded apron he wore he stepped over to the end of the counter."What can I get for you, Ma`am?" he asked politely.
The establishment wasn't all that difficult to locate. The drive was a bit further than she had expected though. She could have apparated to somewhere near the place but she wanted to drive as it gave her a chance to think and clear her mind. Being an intelligent witch she couldn't just turn her thoughts off. The drive was long enough for her to analyze her thoughts and emotions and logically face them. Only then could she shove them to the back of her mind and not think about them any longer. It was painful not being with the one she loved and last night's conversation with Draco had reminded her just how much she still missed Harry.
Hermione parked her Volvo along the street. The vehicle was bought more for its reliability than anything else, though the fact that it had a high safety rating as well hadn't hurt. Her parents had driven Volvo's when she was younger, which might have also influenced her decision in buying one. Upon entering the business she first noticed the crashing sound of pins falling. There were several dozen lanes with most of them currently being used by groups of people and the occasional single bowler.
Taking a seat at the end of the bar, Hermione looked about, assuming the inside of the place looked about the same as any other bowling alley would. As this was her first time in one she really hadn't expected much. There was the din of some radio station playing over the speakers in the ceiling as well as the steady rumble of conversions all mixed in with the crashing of pins and the low rumble of balls traversing the lanes.
The young witch watched in amusement as a large man approached the bar, giving her the once over. Hermione's amusement increased when the man called over the intercom for another round of beer and was answered by someone she couldn't see. When the patron gave her a friendly nod she smiled and nodded back as it was the polite thing to do. Why exactly am I here? she asked herself as her eyes drifted away from the man at the bar and the young man that came to assist him.
There were a fair number of people present. All but a few of the lanes were taken. For a Wednesday night the place seemed to be busy. There were families and groups of friends all laughing and enjoying life as near as she could tell. Why did Malfoy say to come here?Hermione tried to recall when the last time she had been out to have some fun was and truly couldn't remember. Sure there had been plenty of dinners and dancing due to work and charity events, which she took a very active role in, but that was hardly what she'd call fun as Harry hadn't been there with her.
Was it the last time I went to a Hogsmeade weekend with Harry and Ron? It couldn't be, she tried to tell herself. Everything had been so hectic after the war with standing up the new government and all. There certainly wasn't any time before that. Suddenly she recalled a dance with Harry when it was just the two of them in the tent. Ron had left them and Harry had been trying so hard to cheer her up. The young wizard had turned up the wireless and taken her hand, forcing her to dance with him.
Hermione recalled that moment so well because for a moment, when they had been laughing at their own foolishness for several minutes, Harry had leaned in. It had been such a simple gesture as she recalled. Harry had halfway closed the distance between the two of them, staring into her eyes with the most intense look she had ever seen. All I had to do was lean in the rest of the way, meet him halfway and I am certain we would have kissed! Instead she had pulled away, perhaps scared or uncertain of the possibilities at the time. Later she would kick herself over and over again for not taking the chance.
Hermione tried to tune out the conversation at the bar but found it rather difficult to do when the large man whispered in a loud tone to the bar keep that he thought she was a dishy bird! It was all she could do not to laugh outright. Not because of what he had said but that she just didn't see herself as that. Once again she let her eyes drift over those bowling and she found that a part of her wished for that simple life. Happiness found in the simple fact of being with the ones you love and those you call friends, she thought idly as the big man left the bar.
"What can I get for you, Ma`am?" a polite voice enquired from behind the bar.
"What would you su-" she started to say as she looked at the man till her heart suddenly stopped in her chest. The brown mousy hair was all wrong and there were no glasses but it was his eyes, those emerald colored eyes that left her with little doubt. She didn't even have to glance up at his forehead, though she did anyways, to know that the lightning bolt scare would be there. It was, though it had faded so much that it was hardly noticeable unless you were specifically looking for it.
"Are you alright Ma`am?" Davy asked as he saw the woman go deathly pale. Please don't let her faint in my place! "Steady there," he said as he reached across the bar and grasped her elbow."You look like you just saw a ghost."
The touch of his hand on her arm seemed to break her free of her daze as with ajolt her heart started beating once again, though abet a great deal faster than before. "I...I'm sorry. You reminded me of a dear friend," she told him, dropping her gaze as she was unable to bear looking into his eyes any longer.
"That bad of a looking, bloke, huh?" Davy asked in an even tone of voice in an attempt to lighten the moment.
Hermione's eyes shot up ready to deny his words only to see a big grin on his face."Yes, very much so," she replied with a mischievous grin of her own."Hideous actually. It was tragic. I could barely stand to look at him."
"Ouch!You wound me!" Davy exclaimed, posing dramatically like he'd been shot in the heart. "Your just like all those other birds, too good to be true!" he added in a heavily exaggerated tone of voice that dripped with sadness at the unfairness of life.
"Had a lot of cause to practice that have you?" Hermione asked with a soft chuckle, indicating his performance.
"Some," Davy replied with a smile as he took a more normal stance. "Now, what can I get for you?"
"I was going to ask what you suggested just before I wounded you so grievously," Hermione told him with a grin.
"Alas, it's not easy being me," Davy said with a resigned sigh. "As for what to drink, might I suggest a bit of the house specialty. I brew it myself in back, so I'm rather partial to it," he said as he took a plain brown glass bottle out from under the bar and opened it before passing it to her. In short order a frosted mug was set next to the glass.
Hermione lifted the bottle and carefully poured the golden liquid into the mug. Hesitantly she raised it to her lips and took a sip of it. As the taste registered her eyes grew large. "Butterbeer," she said in disbelief."But how?"
"Oi!Don't be serving her none of that swill you call ale, Davy!" Mick's voice rang out from down by the lanes.
"Mick, don't make me give Darla a ring!" Davy turned and yelled back. "Not that I ever would mind you," Davy said to Hermione once he had turned back around. "She already knows that he's here and that I'll keep an eye on him for her."
"So what is this?" Hermione asked as she held up the mug and took another long pull from it.
"Butter Ale, least that's what I'm thinking of calling it," he told her."I've been working on it for the past two years, but couldn't get the taste just right. I tried everything and it still wasn't right, till just recently."
"What was it that finally did it?" the curious witch asked.
"After my secret recipe already are you?" Davy teased with feigned suspicion.
"Who says it's the recipe I'm after? Maybe I just want to hold it hostage to get to the brew master behind it," Hermione said with a playful grin.
"So you're one of those types?" Davy said in a thoughtful tone.
"Those types?" Hermione parroted back at him before taking another long pull of her drink. It had been some time since last she had a butterbeer, even if this wasn't the same thing she was enjoying it.
"A nutter," Davy said with a serious nod and a straight face, though she could see the humor in his sparkling eyes.
"And if I were?" Hermione pressed in a serious tone to match his.
"Well, then we'd just have to become friends. I mean us nutters have to stick together and all," he told her.
"Hermione Granger," the young witch stated, thrusting out her hand towards him.
"Davy Jones," the man behind the bar replied. "Me mum had a thing for some bloke from a band a ways back," he explained upon seeing her shocked look at his name.
"The Monkee's," Hermione offered.
"Finally!" Davy exclaimed. "Someone who understands. Everyone thinks I was named after that creepy undead bloke that lives in the ocean and picks up sailors."
You don't look like a Davy," Hermione offered before taking another sip and finishing her Butter Ale. "Another, please," she said as she placed the now empty mug on the countertop.
Davy reached under the bar and pulled out two more bottles. A new frosted mug was fetched and then he opened one bottle and poured it into the mug before setting it before Hermione. "So then what do I look like to you?" he asked as he dropped her used mug into the sink behind the bar to wash later."Enlighten me, pray tell," he added as he opened the second bottle and took a long pull from it.
Hermione watched his every move, starved for the very sight of him for so very long. Taking the new mug in hand she regarded him very intently for a long moment as if sizing him up. "Harry. You look like a Harry."
Davy just gapped at her in disbelief. "That's uncanny," he finally mumbled.
"What is," she pressed, anxious to know.
"My middle name is Harry. Well, Harold actually, but close enough I guess. How did you know?" Davy asked.
Hermione took a sip of the Butter ale, adverting her eyes for a moment. "My friend's name was, Harry," she told him.
"The horribly disfigured bloke I look like?" Davy deadpanned in way of reply.
Hermione couldn't help but laugh, recalling their previous exchange. "No, he was actually rather fetching," she finally managed to say.
"So you think I'm fetching then?" Davy asked, continuing before she could say anything. "I mean you did say I looked like this bloke and now you admit to him being rather fetching and all. Ms. Granger, I do believe you have aroundabout manner in which to inform a bloke you think he is rather fetching."
Hermione's mouth opened and closed several times as she tried to formulate a reply."That's not what I meant!" she finally managed to get out.
"Did you not say that this Harry was rather fetching?" Davy enquired, pressing his advantage.
"Yes, but-," she stammered.
"And do I not look like him?" he asked to clarify.
"His hair was black," the stammering witch finally answer with a huff. "So not exactly!"
"Well that is a relief. For a moment there I thought you were chatting me up only because you thought I was this friend of yours," Davy commented in a more serious tone, though still having fun with the woman.
"I never said I was trying to chat you up," Hermione declared exasperatedly."If anything you're chatting me up!"
"So then I'm not fanciful enough to chat up?" Davy asked with a pout while making the best pair of puppy-dog eyes that he could.
Hermione gazed into the emerald eyes before her and knew she was lost. Instead of answering she grabbed her drink and took another long pull of it which only caused Davy to chuckle, counting that as a win for him.
"You might want to slow down on those," he cautioned her a she finished off the contents of her mug, "they're stronger than they taste."
"One more," she answered instead, sliding the now drained mug across to him. Hermione glanced about once more, looking at all the people bowling. "Do you like working here?" she asked when he placed the new mug before her. This certainly wasn't where she had expected to find Harry at one day. For some reason she had imagined it being in some out of the way place where hardly anyone lived. She hadn't really considered the middle of Wales. Hiding in plain sight, she reasoned.
"I kind of have to," Davy replied only to receive a questioning look form the witch. "I own the place," he added in way of an explanation.
"What about your folks?" Hermione asked, curious as to the life he believed he had lived. If what the goblin had told them was true then every single memory Harry had wasn't true, even if he believed them to be.
Davy's smile dipped a little bit and a wistful look crossed his face. "Mum died when I was little. Cancer. By the time we found out there wasn't much they could do for her but make her comfortable. Dad passed a few years back, heart attack. He was working on one of the racking machines in the back when it happened. By the time I found him it was already too late."
Hermione reached out and laid her hand on his in a comforting manner. "I'm so sorry," she offered. The concerned witch realized that even if the memories weren't real, to Harry they were. Every painful memory as well as all the good ones, were just as real to him as hers were to her. Hermione suddenly realized that this was not her friend who she had met on the Hogwarts Express. She knew nothing about this Harry just as he knew nothing about her.
Davy excused himself as some customers needed assistance at the shoe counter. It quickly became apparent that he more or less ran the entire place by himself. Many of the patrons seemed to know the man and be on friendly terms with him as they joked and laughed. Davey asked after their family members or jobs as if he had truly known them for his entire life. It was the kind of life he had always wanted but had never been able to have she realized.
The brunette sipped her Butter ale and pondered just what to do as she watched Harry work. What should I do? she asked herself. If I stay and am a part of his life again it will just pull him back into the very world he gave up everything to leave. She was fairly certain that it would only be a matter of time before someone other than herself recognized him for who he was, regardless of the name he wore. Hermione knew that was not what Harry, her Harry, would want. This Davy has a home here, a life here with friends and family, or at least she assumed there was other family.
What about me? I too have a life and a job that Harry left me. It's not like I can just turn my back on that either, she argued with herself. The educational reform law was just passed and that will be loads of work getting it set up and operational. I doubt Kingsley can do it all on his own. I'm still working on the equal opportunity bill as well. We only just started to draft the Fair Treatment bill for house elves and other magical sentient creatures.
It was easy to create excuses not to be with Harry, or Davy as she reminded herself. The truth of the matter is that I'm scared...no terrified, she silently admitted. What if this Harry doesn't like me?This Davy isn't the same as the Harry I grew up with. I would have to tell him I'm a witch and explain magic to him. What if he hates me or thinks I'm afreak? I'm not sure I could live with that. Her chest hurt just thinking about being rejected by the man she loved after all this time.
A small voice in her head asked the really difficult questions. But what if he didn't hate me? What if he could fall in love with me? He accepted that magic was real once before, wouldn't he do it again? Despite her misgivings, hope flared once again in her heart. Hermione gazed at the brown-haired man with striking green eyes and knew that if there was even a remote chance that they could find happiness together she would be a fool not to take it. This is my chance to lean in, she thought recalling that long ago dance in a tent in the middle of nowhere.
"Ready for another one?" Davy asked, startling her from her reminiscing.
"Why Mr. Jones, would you be trying to get me sloshed?" she asked playfully, none the less pushing her empty mug towards him.
"If it will keep you here," he teased back and went to fetch another mug and bottle for her.
"And why would you want that? Might it be because you thinking I'm a dishy bird as your friend put it?" Hermione enquired with a smirk.
"Right in one, you are," Davy replied straight faced. "It's not every day that a beauty like you wonders in and brightens the entire place," he told her with a wave to indicate the bowling alley.
"Flattery won't get you anywhere, Sir," Hermione said with a humorous snort.
"How about a bit of honesty then?" Davey asked only to see that he had piqued the woman's interest. The young man took a hasty sip of his drink, his eyes dropping to the bar as his cheeks blushed slightly. "I don't know, it's hard to explain, it is," he told her before looking directly at her."Ever since we started to have a chin wag, well it feels like I've known you for a long time. Maybe even all my life."
Hermione's breath caught in her throat at his words. How? How could he feel that way after only just having met me? The brilliant witch realized then that he hadn't just met her. That he had in fact known her for years and they had shared more experiences than most couples would in a lifetime. The memories may not be there but maybe, just maybe, the heart remembered. Given the fact that Davy had recreated butterbeer it was apparent that not everything had been removed. There is still a part of my Harry in there, she told herself.
"I know that must sound like a load of codswallop and you must think me loony or something," Davy continued, unaware of the effect his words were having on the woman across the bar from him. "I…I don't know how else to explain it. I just feel that if I let you walk out that door it will be the worst thing to ever happen in my life!"
"Does this line really work on girls," Hermione teased as she blinked her eyes which threatened to spill tears down her cheeks.
"No…I…," stammered the bewildered man, uncertain just what to say only to see Hermione smile at him. "Never actually said those things before," Davy told her as he ran a nervous hand through his hair, messing it up more than it already was.
The gesture was so Harry that Hermione just grinned, ignoring the tears that finally ran free. "Then I had better never hear you telling them to anyone else ever," she finally managed to get out.
"No, Ma`am," Davy replied quickly, not sure what had just happened but somehow knowing that life had just gotten a great deal better than it had been.
Hermione smiled and pulled the covers up, tucking them under her daughter's chin."And that is how your father and I found each other and fell in love for the second time," she told the cute little five year old as she ruffled the girl's bushy black hair.
"But what happened next, Mummy?" the small child whined.
"Let's save that for another time," Hermione replied tapping the end of the cute little button nose before her playfully.
"But Mummy!" the girl persisted.
"Lily Luna Black don't argue with me," Hermione answered in a sterner tone."You start school tomorrow and you need to have a good night's sleep. Now close those pretty green eyes of yours and go to sleep or I'll get your father." The girl's eyes snapped shut upon hearing her mother's threat. "I love you," Hermione said in a gentler tone and with a soft smile as she leaned in and kissed the child's brow.
"Love you too, Mummy," Lily replied as she shifted to her side and got comfortable.
Hermione slipped from the room, softly closing the door behind her. The Duchess made her way downstairs to the den to check on her husband and other children. Upon entering the room she couldn't help but smile. There on the couch was the father of her children, fast asleep with the twins snuggled against his chest, a protective arm holding each.
The young woman couldn't believe just how unpredictable life could be. Harry's one time rival had been the one to find him and bring her back into Harry's life. They had dated for a year, slowly getting to know each other though in truth it was like they had known each other all their lives. Hermione had never been as happy as the day they finally got married.
Davy still worked at and maintained the bowling alley, claiming it was a family business after all and he couldn't bear to let it go. Almost a year after their wedding Lily Luna Black was born and Davy became the stay at home dad so that Hermione could continue to do the amazing work she had been doing in the Wizarding world. Mick and his wife took to managing Pints and Pins for him. More recently the twins, James and Sirius, were born and the couple couldn't be happier.
Life is never dull around this man, Hermione mused silently, regarding the sleeping trio. She had truly feared for a time of never finding him again. The still young witch knew just how empty her life would have been if that had happened. Even a she leaned against the door frame, taking in the endearing site before her, one emerald eye opened as if he had sensed her presence there.
"Our little Dove all tucked in?" he asked softly so as not to wake the sleeping babies on his chest. Seeing the sweet smile on her face as she regarded him he asked, "You alright there?"
"Couldn't be better," Hermione replied before coming over and taking one of the infants from its father's chest. James, judging by the tuffs of brown hair, snuggled into his mother's embrace. "What say we put them down and then go to bed ourselves?" she suggested only to witness him wiggle his brows suggestively. "You're incorrigible!"
"Well, I am Harry Potter," he replied, giving her a long loving look. "I love you, Hermione," he said tenderly, meaning it with every fiber of his being.
Hermione's heart fluttered within her chest just as it always did when he looked at her in that manner or uttered those words to her. In part it was for the love she knew they both shared. It was also due to remembering just how close they had both come to never knowing the wonderful life they current possessed. There were so many things that had they not gone as they did would have seen them never finding each other again. Tears of happiness shimmered in her eyes as she gazed at him.
"What?" he enquired upon seeing her look.
"Nothing," Hermione replied, realizing just how much she loved this man and the life they had. "I have everything my heart could ever want."
"Me too, love. Me too," Harry agreed.
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