It was approaching November and Harold had received a message by owl that his latest book order had arrived. The owl had arrived mid-week, so the earliest he would be able to put in a visit would be that weekend - it was the last weekend before Halloween and Hogsmeade was likely to be busy with folks stocking up for the event, but that would leave him just a face in a crowd. Something about the recent weeks and his relative self-imposed hermitage made him feel like he wanted to just blend in and disappear.
The weather was dull, grey and miserable, which of course made it a perfect complement to his mood that Saturday afternoon.
He fed Bubo a couple of treats and said, "I'm going to be back in a little while. I'm afraid you'll have to stay here, I have a parcel to collect." Bubo bobbed up and down and if he weren't an owl, he could perhaps have been described as bristling in response. Perhaps not bristling, it wasn't an angry bobble, it was that he wanted to be useful and helpful and normally collecting mail was his job, and an important job it was too.
"Well, actually, I think my parcel will be a bit heavy for you - it's several rather quite heavy books. Besides, it's warm in here, it's cold and miserable out there, and I should rather you stay here where it's warm and have a mouse or two. I'm sure there's a few around the castle that you could catch. I will be back soon."
Bubo seemed to bobble happily to himself at the thought. He liked catching mice, not to eat, just to catch them. It meant he got to swoop and glide. Swooping! Yeah!
The grey seemed to follow him all the way down the path to the village, but it was merely a touch chilly and dull-grey in mood, far better than he had any real right to expect from Scotland in the autumn, he thought.
The bookshop was not busy, and he rather got the impression that the owner quite liked having a customer come by with slightly more exotic orders, especially as ordering in must have come at a premium. No matter, it was worth it for the time being. Harold had even been asked why he bought them here rather than from any of the larger bookstores in London - Flourish and Blotts was name-checked, for example - but he pointed out that he was a professor at Hogwarts, and that Apparating to London was not especially convenient. Not that it had occurred to Harold, but the shopkeeper had shrewdly not bothered to ask him why he didn't just use the library; most of the books Harold had ordered had one or more editions in the library, mostly in the restricted section.
As Harold began to emerge, however, into the dull grey light outside the store, he noticed that it was starting to rain. Not particularly wanting to face the traipse back to the castle in the rain - and him without his umbrella - he looked around for options to pass the time. The Hog's Head was open.
Ducking into the establishment, he noted that it wasn't the cleanest it could have been - but it was far from the most disreputable establishment he had ever found himself in. The glasses behind the bar even looked clean and the rags by them looked clean enough to wipe the glasses with. That was usually a reasonable sign - things were different from his own school days visiting Hogsmeade, now that an elderly looking wizard seemed to tend bar. Come to think of it, that wizard looked somehow familiar.
Thinking back to the last time he'd been in a pub, he was trying to remember what the beer was called that he had rather enjoyed. "Would you happen to have... blast it, I can't remember the name. It's a rather splendid pale ale, not too hoppy, sits well on the stomach. I had a pint of it down in Godric's Hollow over the summer and I should rather like another of it, if you happen to have it. If not, a pint of mild please."
The barman looked quizzically at him, narrowing his eyes ever so slightly. "West Country, you say? Ah, that'll be Argrot's Key Pale Ale you'll be wanting."
Harold smiled, "I am ever in your debt," as he paid for a well-poured pint and found himself in the corner. It smelled like the beer he remembered, anyway, but he was determined to take it slowly. The beer mug left a slightly warm wet circle on the table as he took his first sip.