Harry was sitting on his favorite barstool, eating his favorite fish and chips watching his favorite bartender. Edie had become someone he could talk to who actually listened to him. Over the last few months, he had told her, in vague terms, things he never told anyone. It wasn’t like true therapy, but it did feel good to get some things off his chest, but he was still somewhat closed off, some things were just too painful to talk about with anyone.
“Here. Something new you might like with your chips.” Edie put down a pint in front of him and leaned on the counter. Harry could not help that his eyes wandered but then felt very self-conscious for looking at things he had no business looking at.
“What is this?”
“It’s a lager from a fairly new brewhouse called Delirium. Tell me what you think?”
Harry took a sip and was pleased with the taste. It complemented the fish and chips beautifully.
“Light and has a nice refreshing taste and goes with the fish well.”
“Good. Something new to add.” Edie stood up and started to wipe down the bar and do all those little things she did to keep her domain clean. Harry watched her a moment with more interest than normal. He liked Edie. He liked her more than he had liked any girl he had dated in school. She was witty, wicked smart, and attractive. Long auburn hair she often kept in a ponytail or braids, golden hazel eyes, and a pretty natural blush to her cheeks. Harry could admit that he was a bit smitten with her.
“Edie, um, may I ask you something?”
“Sure, what do you want to know?”
Harry took a quick drink of his lager and shored up his nerves before it got too late.
“I was wondering, if ah if you’d like to go out on a date with me. Like, you know maybe Saturday?” Harry was holding his breath and when Edie smiled and leaned in again towards him, a small bit of hope bloomed in the pit of his stomach.
“Why Harrison Black, I thought you would never get ‘round to it. Here, pick me up at 7.” Edie quickly jotted down something on the back of one of her order tickets and handed it over to Harry. He took the piece of paper which had Edie’s address on it and slipped it into his back pocket.
“I know it’s probably rather cliche and old fashioned, but how about going to the cinema and late-night supper? I ah, I saw a new American burger place open up last week. I know it isn’t fancy, but..”
“Sounds perfect. If you have not noticed, Harrison, I am not the fancy lady type. That sounds like loads of fun. There’s that new American comedy, heard it’s rather raunchy,” Edie grinned wide and laughed at the look Harry was giving her.
“Alright, it’s a date.” Harry couldn’t help how infectious he found Edie’s smile. They finalized everything before he left the pub after paying for his meal.
Harry didn’t tell her it was close to his birthday as well. He didn’t want a big fuss, and to him, this would be perfect.
Getting home, Harry felt lighter as he sat down at the new computer he had splurged on. Not having to pay rent for a few more months let him buy things that he normally wouldn’t have been able to buy. This was a special computer made just for Wixens by the magical branch of Grimes Technology International. Bill had sent Harry a letter extolling the virtues of the machines and how they were fast changing the landscape of the Magical business world. Harry had also introduced Bill to the wonders of the pen and pencil. Bill was confounded at first, but some of the younger people he had hired for PP&M took to the writing instruments immediately.
Harry laughed at the memory as he turned on his computer. The machine was charmed and warded with new spells that Grimes himself had created. They were fascinating and Harry adored that he could use technology again. He even bought a simple Grimes Tech mobile. He liked that he could buy minutes as he went along, in case he didn’t have the money to keep it up here and there. He mainly bought it so his boss could get ahold of him if need be.
The computer though, Harry was loving. He was keeping a sort of journal for himself. Writing down random thoughts, feelings, events, etc. He wanted to see if he really was making any progress or if this was a futile endeavor.
Harry also discovered computer games. The more mind-bending the more he loved them. Games with obscure clues or ones that made him think were his favorites. He was currently playing through an older game called Myst. He had found a double pack with it and a spin-off called Riven. It was at times utterly frustrating, but in the end, they were no harder than the puzzles from the Tournament.
Harry tamped down those memories, he didn’t want them tonight because he knew if he let them in, the nightmares would start. Shaking out of the melancholy, Harry went back to his game and more mind-bending puzzle solving. Those deep thoughts and emotions were put off for another day.
“Morning, Ansel. How’s the shop today?” Harry asked as he walked in and started towards the back to get the tea started.
“It’s as it always is, Harrison.”
“And what exactly does that mean?” Harry waited for the electric kettle to heat up while he took care of measuring out the tea.
“Well, how should the shop be any different today, than it was yesterday?”
“I,” Harry laughed as he turned to see Ansel standing in the doorway. “You know you’re a bit of a nutter, right?”
Ansel laughed and patted Harry on the shoulder.
“Those mystery boxes came in today, please see to them for me when the tea is done.”
Harry had been at Sacred Bits and Bobs for about a month now and he liked the simplicity of the shop, helping customers find whatever it was they were looking for, the cleaning, stocking, and even inventory could be a small adventure. Ansel sometimes went out for a couple of days a week, then came back with boxes of items for the shop. Harry never knew where to put everything some days, but they all just seemed to fit.
“All right.” After Harry finished making the tea he poured himself and Ansel a cup each, then he went to the backroom to sort out what it was that Ansel had bought this time. As Harry unpacked the first box he considered his growing friendship with the strange man that had taken a chance on him. It was the kind of friendship he had thought that he had with Dumbledore, but realised, after having his blinders ripped away from him, that what Dumbledore wanted, was to use him.
Harry stopped a moment to shake off the memories, he didn’t want to get caught in that cycle of hindsight he had been playing with himself lately. Taking a deep breath to center himself he got down to business.
After cataloguing, pricing and stocking some of the new merchandise, Harry was left holding a stack of old baking books. They were all out of print but in fairly decent condition. He looked through them and found some of the recipes, older recipes like lavender and lemon cookies, lime and basil squares, orange petit fours and more. Harry had always liked using fresh herbs and spices, that was one chore that Aunt Petunia made him do that he had secretly not minded doing. He loved the herb garden in the back of the property, but he would never have admitted it because to admit to something he liked, it was then taken away.
Harry desperately wanted the baking books. Clutching them to his chest he walked to the counter and set them down.
“Ansel, I want to purchase these baking books.”
Ansel looked up from what he was doing, which was rearranging the jewelry counter to accommodate the new pieces.
“My boy, are you doing okay?”
“I, what do you mean?”
Ansel pulled his kerchief from his pocket and handed it to Harry. He motioned at his eyes and Harry reached up to touch his face and felt the moisture there. He had been crying and had not realised it. He quickly dried his eyes and tried to walk away feeling rather embarrassed.
“Harrison, there is no need to run off. Sometimes we need to let things out, only if it’s in private. But, if you need a shoulder, you know you can trust me with any of your secrets.”
Harry knew Ansel’s words were true. He would keep Harry’s secrets, but he wasn’t sure if he was ready to talk about them or not, or if he ever would be.
“It’s nothing, Ansel. Just some memories.”
“Ahh, yes. Memories can affect us in ways that make it hard to let go.”
Harry could attest to that. He was having a harder time letting some things go than he thought. He wasn’t sure why he had assumed that leaving would magically fix him, but in some ways, he was feeling more like the person he thought he should have been all along.
Ansel’s quiet, but often strange demeanor was showing Harry that he really didn’t need to take anyone else’s crap. He was also learning the art of the subtle brush off. Seeing Ansel do it the first time had Harry almost starring in equal parts admiration and astonishment. Letting that memory linger for a moment, Harry felt himself smiling as he tapped the top book of the stack.
“Anyway, I would like to buy these.”
“No need to buy them, lad. They’re yours.”
Harry sighed. This had been a bit of a bone of contention between them. When Harry saw something interesting that he just had to have, Ansel wouldn’t let him pay for them.
“Ansel, this time I insist. I am buying these, the cost of them is not going to break me.”
They stared at each other for a good couple of minutes until Ansel finally gave in.
“All right, lad, you made your point.” Ansel shook his head as he took Harry’s money. Harry wasn’t sure why he wanted the baking books but he felt compelled to buy them. Almost like they were supposed to be his.
“Thank you.” Harry took the books to the back of the store where he had a backpack of things he would bring with him. Mainly lunch and a few snacks, a book and information about University. He was a long way away from even considering going, but Harry wanted to keep his options open.
“I used to do a fair amount of baking when I was younger. Though no one called it good. But, it helped me relax and it was fun. You know, I might have some things that I no longer use that you can have, Harrison. And, no I will not take any money for them. They are mine to give, and yours to take graciously.”
Harry was going to protest, but Ansel stood his ground this time and Harry acquiesced. He laughed at the pair of them, but Harry imagined that Ansel was enjoying trying to take care of him. Putting that out of his mind, Harry went back to stocking and looking over the inventory. He itched to move things around a little, maybe freshen up the displays, but Ansel was very particular about where things were, so Harry didn’t bring it up. Maybe when he was there longer, he would discuss it with the older man.
The shop did a fair amount of business and it surprised Harry, but the warm atmosphere and the quirky displays seemed to bring people in. Harry had memorized the layout and the inventory quite well, so it was easy to recommend things when people asked.
After a particular run of customers, Harry found himself alone. He didn’t mind it when Ansel would pop off to run an errand, or do some buying for the shop. It was the slow part of the afternoon anyway.
An hour into the afternoon, after Harry finished his lunch he had quite the surprise when Luna with Teddy had come by for a visit.
“Wow, Harry this place is wonderful. Here, take Teddy, I think he wants you anyway.”
“Come here, kiddo.” Harry got an armful of his godson when Luna has set him down. “What have you two been up to this afternoon?”
“Oh, I was done with my bit of writing for the day and since Andromeda was dealing with Ministry business I thought we’d go out for a treat. Ice cream seemed to have been the order of the day.”
“Oh, really? And, Teddy, how did you like your Ice Cream?”
“Mmmm,” Teddy giggled as he rubbed his stomach.
“I think exactly the same thing.” Harry walked around the counter and took Luna and Teddy over to a small section of the shop that had kids’ toys and games. “Why don’t you play for a bit, okay kiddo?”
“‘Kay,” Teddy plopped down on his butt and found some soft toys to play with.
“You didn’t have to come by, Looney.”
“I most certainly did, Harry. You’ve been shuttering yourself away and have not come by to visit. So, I decided that I would take it upon myself to come to see you. Besides, the pansies miss you and have been awful stubborn about growing, so you need to show your face soon.”
Harry laughed as he gave Luna a quick hug.
“All right, but it may be another few days. I ah, well, I have a date.”
“Harry! That’s brilliant.”
“Shh, it’s just someone I met a while back.”
Luna grabbed his face and made Harry look at her.
“Do not sabotage yourself. You are brilliant as you are Harry.”
Harry smiled softly and nodded.
“Now, is there anything you need?”
Harry was about to say no when he thought about the baking books and the ones that had the herbs and spices in the baked goods.
“Well, um, if Neville doesn’t mind, can I get some of these? I ah, I want to try something.” Harry dashed off a list and handed it to Luna.
“Simple herbs, I’m sure Nev will be more than happy to share with you. Now, let me collect Teddy and I’ll be out of your hair. Why don’t you come round on Sunday?”
“I’ll come in the afternoon.”
“Good.” Luna gave Harry a kiss on the cheek before she picked up Teddy and the two were gone. As she left the shop, Ansel was coming back in with a couple of grocery bags full of things.
“Who was that lovely creature.” Ansel smiled at the door Luna had just left through.
“That was Luna Lovegood. She’s a good friend.”
“Well, she is certainly a breath of fresh air. Here, my boy. I think these will fair better with you than they ever did me.”
Harry took the bags that Ansel was handing him and saw that they were full of all sorts of baking pans. They all looked suspiciously new, but as Harry took the things out to look them over, none had price tags. Of course, Ansel could have taken them off, just to throw Harry off.
“Harrison, I assure you I did not go out and purchase new. I have just not used them much and they were in a cupboard I never really got into.”
Harry sighed and knew that Ansel would never tell him the truth. He would just accept the gift graciously, as Ansel has asked him to, and make use of the various pans.
“Thank you, Ansel. Would you like some tea? Mrs. Grimsby was by and left us some biscuits and some rather delicious looking puddings.”
Harry took his gift to the back and set the bags near his backpack. After his shift was over, and though he had vowed not to use magic, he would shrink the bags and slip them into his backpack. Carrying all of that on the bus would not be fun, so he would cheat a little for convenience.
The two men enjoyed their lemon squares and chocolate mousse cakes that one of their regulars had left for them to enjoy. After Harry cleaned up, then did his chores around the store before it was time for him to clock out. He set off for home around four, just after his shift ended. He was excited to try out all of his new things, Harry had no idea what he was doing, he had only baked a cake for Dudley’s birthday twice. It was a box cake that Aunt Petunia had bought and expected Harry to work a miracle. At least they had been edible and Harry hadn’t been punished for getting anything wrong that day. Looking out the window of the bus, Harry wished, not for the first time, that things had been very, very different.
Harry had loved to hear Edie laugh. The movie lived up to its ‘raunchy’ expectations, and Harry found himself laughing right along with his date.
Dinner had been fun as well. The diner they had gone to was supposed to be reminiscent of a 1950’s American Diner. They had burgers, chips, and milkshakes fortified with a bit of alcohol. Harry had to show his ID to order his chocolate and raspberry milkshake that had a raspberry liquor and some rum added to it. The waitress appeared to recognize him and was about to say something, but Harry just shook his head. She just handed it back to him and went on as if nothing happened.
When Edie dipped one of her chips in her vanilla shake, Harry frowned at her in horror.
“I went out with this American chap for a couple of weeks. He got me hooked on this. It’s not as bad as all of that, Harrison Black. Here,” Edie laughed as she stole a chip from Harry, dipped it in her shake and held it out for him to take. “Go on, it’s not going to bite you.”
Harry eyed it suspiciously, then gave in. After swallowing the strange concoction, Harry raised a brow as he contemplated what he had just eaten.
“That…isn’t terrible. Very strange, but not terrible.”
Edie laughed as she waved a chip at Harry.
“You need to try new things more often.”
“Yeah. You get this rather cute look on your face. It suits you.” Edie shoved the chip in her mouth and smirked at Harry.
“And what new things should I try?”
“Oh, I don’t know. Whatever strikes your fancy. You don’t get out enough, Black. You go to work, come to the pub a couple of nights a week, and then what?”
Harry sipped at his milkshake before he answered her.
“I dunno. Go to my flat, play games on my computer.”
“You don’t have any friends?”
How does one tell someone else that, yes in their old life they have friends, but even those friends became suspect on their motives after a while? How do you explain leaving your old life behind to find something new?
“I have a couple of friends.”
“Hmm, you’re a sweet guy, Harrison. But, there’s this, I dunno, haunted look in your eyes. Like you’ve seen too much in your life.”
“Maybe I have, and maybe I’m trying to forget it.”
Edie kept picking at her dinner letting Harry have his silence. When she brightened up a bit and moved from her side of the booth they were in to sit next to him, she gave Harry a wicked smile before she leaned in and kissed the side of his mouth.
Harry was taken aback for a moment, then blushed deep enough that he felt the heat on his cheeks.
“What was that for?”
“You looked kinda sexy all brooding with a little pout on your lips.”
Harry swallowed hard and his heart raced at Edie’s boldness.
“I have an idea. Why don’t we get out of here?” Edie’s crooked smile and her hand on his thigh had more than Harry’s heart racing. He could admit to himself that he was quite attracted to her, and wouldn’t mind getting to know her more.
“Oh, um. Okay.” Harry wasn’t exactly naive. He knew in the back of his mind what she was not so subtly suggesting. Harry waived their waitress over and asked for the bill. After paying, the two left the restaurant and when Harry took Edie’s hand, his heart raced a little more.
“So, do you want to come to my place? It’s not far.”
Edie leaned into Harry, who wrapped his arm around her shoulders and pulled her close.
“I’d love to go to your place, Harrison.”
Harry had not anticipated that this was where their night out was going to go and he had to stop them before they got any closer to his place.
“I, um, I have to admit that I didn’t think this was where we were going and I don’t have any, you know, supplies.”
Edie just patted his arm and pulled him along.
“It’s alright,” Edie patted her over large handbag and smiled. “I’m always prepared.”
“Oh, well we could just stop at the clinic..”
“Harrison, it’s fine. I promise.”
“Okay.” Harry swallowed and took Edie’s hand once again and walked the rest of the way to his flat. Once there, he was nervous for a completely different reason. He saw, now that someone else was in his place, just how stark it looked.
“It’s nice. Believe it or not, it’s bigger than my place.” Edie walked to the chair by the window and set her handbag down, as well as her jacket. She turned her head to look at Harry who was now more nervous than before.
“You like to look outside?”
“Mostly at night. I take my tea there and just watch the stars.” Harry took the few steps to the window and stood next to Edie, his pulse raced as the tension in the room grew just a little. Turning to her, Harry reached out and cupped the side of Edie’s cheek and pulled her close to him.
“Is this all right?”
Harry moved in a little more, bringing his face closer, he pressed his lips against Edie’s. Kissing, this he could do, had done quite a few times and was told that he was quite skilled at it. He took his time, gently pressing his mouth to Edie’s, and when he elicited a moan from her, Harry slid his hand from her cheek to thread in the back of her hair.
“Wow. You are excellent at that.” Edie smiled as she gently pushed Harry towards his bed. Quickly she has stripped down to bra and to Harry’s eyes some very sexy, very girly knickers. Reaching out he gripped her hips where the edges of her panties had some very enchanting bows, using his thumbs, Harry caressed the soft skin on her hips, making Edie’s eyes close a little bit.
“Harrison, you are entirely too dressed. Take care of that and I shall be right back.” Edie stood and walked over to her handbag, and Harry assumed that she was grabbing the pack of condoms she said she had in there. Turning around, Edie walked back towards the bed, where Harry was now stretched out with just his boxer briefs on. His cheeks pinked a little as Edie’s eyes traveled down his body and landed on his growing bulge.
“Well now. Someone is getting rather excited.”
“Edie,” Harry felt himself flush red as she kneed up on the bed, and crawled along his body after throwing the little packet onto Harry’s chest. Edie watched Harry watching her, then she sat back on his thighs, hands wandered down Harry’s chest. “Harrison, answer me honestly, please.”
“Is this your first time?”
Harry blushed even more at her question.
“Yes,” Harry’s voice squeaked as Edie kept touching him.
“I will take very good care of you.”
Harry wasn’t sure what Edie meant, but when she scooted back, then stood up, taking his boxers with her, wasn’t what he thought would happen.
“I think, right now, foreplay will have to wait. You look like you are just barely hanging on.” Edie stripped out of the last of her clothes then crawled back on the bed with Harry.
“Kiss me, and touch where you want. I’ll tell you if anything feels wrong, okay?”
“Okay,” Harry let out the breath that he was holding and with a slightly shaking hand reached out and touched her breast. Biting his lip, he moved closer and kissed her. When Edie’s hand wandered down to his cock, Harry almost lost it. While he wasn’t a stranger to his own hand giving him relief, having someone else touch him, it was such a new experience that he almost let go before anything really happened.
Edit softly shushed him, then pushed him back onto his back. Taking the condom, she ripped it open and had it on Harry before he could register what was happening.
“Do we need to stop?” Edie asked as she straddled Harry’s waist.
Harry’s mouth went dry not believing that he was in this situation, especially on his birthday, he gently wrapped his hands around Edie’s waist.
“No. No, I’m fine. Just a bit overwhelmed. I’ve never, especially with someone so pretty.” Harry smiled when Edie did.
“You think, I’m pretty?”
“Very.” Harry’s hands glided up the soft skin on Edie’s sides, then over her soft breasts. They hung a little low with their fullness, but Harry thought they were beautiful. He was going with what felt good, and he trusted Edie to tell him to stop if he did anything she didn’t like. Cupping the sides of her breasts, Harry used his thumbs to gently flick her nipples. The sharp intake of breath and the closing of her eyes told Harry that he had done something she liked. He did that a few times before he explored the rest of her that he could reach.
“I think you are very pretty.” Harry felt for the band that held her hair in place and tugged on it, he wanted to see it free. “I, I need..”
“What? Don’t be afraid to tell me.”
“Please, can I be in you?”
“Of course.” Edie lifted up slightly, then as she held him in place, she sank down on his now throbbing cock. It was almost painful when he found himself fully seated inside her.
“Oh Merlin, that’s fantastic,” Harry breathed out as he gripped her hips. He was a mass of want, need, and confusion. A part of him just wanted to take till he was sated, but when she started to move above him, it was one of the most beautiful things he had ever experienced. He was watching her, his hips moving with hers, though he wasn’t even sure he knew that was the right thing to do. It felt right, and he began to feel that familiar pull on his groin much faster than normal. Edie looked down onto his face and Harry saw how much she enjoyed what they were doing. Gripping her hips harder, his eyes fell closed and before he was ready, he grunted and felt the rush of release.
“Shit,” Harry tipped Edie down onto his bed, and in his embarrassment fled to the bathroom. He had come so fast that he couldn’t have stopped it even if he wanted to. A gentle knock on his door had Harry gripping the sink trying to control the emotions warring within him.
“Harrison, it’s all right, you know. I’m not one of those frippy girls who get mad just because the guy comes too soon. Come on out, please? I promise that whatever you’re thinking, I’m not upset. There are other things we can do, I promise.”
Harry opened the door after he cleaned himself up and disposed of the condom.
“You’re really not mad?”
Edie pushed the door open a little more and leaned in, taking Harry’s face in her hands, then kissed him as they had before.
“No. I’m not mad. I’m a very secure woman, Harrison Black. Just because I’m young doesn’t mean I’m going to get cheesed when something like this happens. It’s your first time, they aren’t always perfect, so come on.” Edie held out her hand and wiggled her fingers till Harry took it, then was led back to the bed.
“It almost was, you know.”
Edie softly chuckled then had Harry get back in bed with her. The rest of the night she showed him ways to touch a woman that gave her as much pleasure as having a cock inside of her. By the time they fell asleep, Harry thought about how this may have been his best birthday ever.
Harry had ridden on the high of the night before all through his visit with Luna and Neville. He had hoped they had forgotten all about his birthday, but when he arrived and there was a small cake and a few presents, Harry knew they hadn’t.
Harry was surprised that all of his gifts, except one or two, were practical and things he could use. Some new sheets for his bed from Andromeda, who assured him that she actually bought them at a Muggle store and resisted the urge to charm them with sleep spells. Harry laughed and thanked her. They were dark blue, with star patterns all over them and he loved them immediately.
Luna had knitted him two jumpers, Fall would be there soon and they would keep him warm and cozy on the upcoming cold days. One was dark green in a fisherman’s stitch, and the other was a deep burgundy in a simple knit. They fit him perfectly.
Neville bought him a bottle of the finest firewhisky. And also gave him a mini greenhouse that had all of the herbs and spices that Harry had asked for. It was self-caring, and all Harry had to do was add water once or twice a week. This was the only thing that was magical, and Harry accepted it graciously. Neville said that all he needed to do was open it and speak the name of the herb he wanted and it would appear.
The day was spent pleasantly with Harry playing with Teddy, and having a wonderful birthday lunch made by Neville’s own House Elf cook, Elispeth. They were all of Harry’s favorites. It was a far cry from a stormy Island in the middle of the sea with a smashed cake and relatives who hated him, and a half-giant who Harry had been both terrified of and curious about. Harry shook his head and wondered to himself why these memories were plaguing him. He had thought he put all of that behind him.
Sitting on his bed with the new sheets, Harry contemplated on what to do with the rest of the evening. When he looked over at his small efficiency kitchen, he stood up and grabbed one of the baking books he had bought and looked for a simple recipe he could try. The lavender and lemon cookies appeared simple enough that it wasn’t long before Harry’s flat was filled with the most delicious smells. He had made the full recipe which ended up to be just shy of three dozen cookies. Not really knowing what to do with all of them, after they cooled he stacked them on a plate, wrapped them in cling film and decided to take them to the shop the next day.
“Harrison, what on earth?”
“I made them last night. What’d you think?”
“They are delicious. They remind me of my Grandmother. She loved to pluck herbs right from her backyard and add them to all sorts of things. Her favorite flavor was always lemon. You did very well my boy.”
Harry blushed at the compliment, and when customers tried them after Harry found a small table and put in the front with a pot of tea and small paper cups, it became a hit. Over the next few weeks word got around on the street that Sacred Bits and Bobs had the most brilliant treats. Customers who had not been in for a long time were lured in by Harry’s newfound baking skills. The pride Harry had for the praise swelled in his chest and gave him some confidence that maybe being around people again wasn’t so bad after all.
The next few months flew by. Harry continued to date Edie, the shop was seeing a new renaissance and Ansel was even talking about getting a license to have part of the shop converted into a kind of tea shop, with Harry running it and supplying more of his wonderful treats. Harry was both terribly frightened and excited to take on the endeavor.
By the time Christmas came around, the shop had been approved and a little four table tea shop was open for business. Harry had a feeling that this just may be one of his best Christmas’ ever.