The Sugar Quill
Author: Ciircee (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Missing Hermione  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

Disclaimer: JKR.

Dedication: Chelle-sama, for beta as always and Zsenya, from whom I took the names.  Her 'A Muggle Summer' spoiled me for any other names.  Go and read that and tell me it's not a divine read.

Notes: Okay, I don't know what's up with me.  I have no clue where these plot-bunnies are coming from and I wish they would leave.  I've a ten part Love Hina snapshot set I'm supposed to be working on as well as eight stories from CCS.  Leave, plot-bunnies!

Missing Hermione

He loves this room; it's always been his favorite room in their house.  It used to be 'the baby's room' but now it's just 'Hermione's room'.  It's still his favorite.  When Hermione was a baby he used to sit in here for hours, rocking her as she fussed and feeding her in the wee hours of the night so that Courtney could sleep.  He still spends time in here nearly every night, even though Hermione is away at school for months at a time.  He putters, he'll admit it; he dusts, straightens the already straight shelves and remembers when entering the room usually brought him the sight of his daughter.

When she was a baby, long ago, she used to sleep with her fanny in the air and kick the covers away.  It was a small moment of his night, as he went around to check doors and windows, to stop in and pull the quilt over his daughter and smooth one hand over her back.  Had he been amazed then at the feel of her ribs moving beneath his hands as she breathed and dreamed?  She'd been a beautiful baby.  For the longest time she'd only had hair on the very top of her head, just enough to tie with a ribbon into a single curl that stuck straight up from the middle of her head; like an antenna.  Or a flower.  Courtney had put it up everyday with a little pink bow.  He'd scoffed.

"She doesn't have enough hair."  He said it every morning.  "It looks like she's sprouted something."

And Courtney always laughed, tugging on her own curls.  "She'll grow hair, Ted.  Besides,"  she'd nuzzle her cheek to Hermione's as she spoke the next line in their happy refrain, "every girl likes to look pretty."

"Our Hermione is pretty enough without the bow."  But he'd always rub his nose into that little fountain of hair, letting it tickle him and he'd carry the scent of  baby shampoo with him all day.  Sometimes, and he doesn't tell Courtney this, but sometimes when they're at the market he'll stop in the aisle with the baby supplies and pop the cap of those baby shampoos so that he can remember the scent of his baby girl.

He doesn't tell Courtney a lot of things concerning Hermione, actually.  But he's fairly certain she knows his secrets.  She'd gone and teased him, gently, about that Yule Ball and that...that...boy.

"It's her first date, Ted and if  you keep making that face she'll feel your scowl all the way at her school."  Of course he'd frowned all the harder and hoped that boy had felt it too.  "Come on, love, it's not her first dance so don't fret.  Come and dance with me."  She'd put on music and they'd waltzed the night away themselves.  They way he'd once done with his baby girl.

She'd been teething, messy business that even being a dentist hadn't prepared him for, and he'd spent nights upon nights walking with her in 'the baby's room' holding a cold rag for her to chew on.  And one grimy pre-dawn, as he'd hummed and swayed trying to soothe either Hermione or himself to sleep, it had suddenly occurred to him that one day some other bloke would be humming in her ear and swaying with her.  Some git of a boy would want the pleasure of dancing with his girl.  He'd drawn back in shock, staring into the sweet, wide-eyes of his child. 

"Hermione, some bloody boy is going to want to take you dancing!"

"Ba-ba-ba."  She'd gurgled happily, patting his face with her rag.  He'd felt faint.  Ball.  Did it really start so early?  He'd remembered his first dance with a girl.  It'd been Courtney, as a matter of fact, and he'd been sweaty-palmed and hopeful.  And to think of where it had ended!  And one day some sweaty-palmed prat would want...

He'd put a record on the small player they kept in the room.  "Mione, my only," he drew the words out, making them rhyme, "what in the world would you want with some cack-handed berk when you've got your Dad?"  He'd waltzed with her until she'd fallen asleep and long after.  It had become a constant occurrence on the nights he was up with her; until the night that Hermione had actually slept the entire night through, shortly before her second birthday.

And after that...the years had flown, hadn't they?  When Hermione had turned ten she'd insisted on painting over the pink and white walls with a pretty, peaceful blue.  And that summer an owl had swooped into their house.  The room has changed very little since then.  'The Winter's Tale' still sits on the shelf over the desk, though now a book called 'Hogwarts, A History' nestles up beside it.   There are photographs of his daughter and her friends that smile and wave at him when he picks them up.  She's grown so much, he thinks, that it's hard to remember when he'd called her 'Mione'.  She's grown into her name and she is as graceful and smart and kind as the queen they'd named her for. 

She's such a vibrant young woman, his little girl.  Her letters are so happy, far happier than any news they'd ever had from her when she was in grade school.  And he takes that into account when the contents of those letters scare him.  Last week she'd written about getting their fireplace added to the 'floo' list so that she could send her head to talk to them.  Just her head!  But she'd treated it as normal and so, too, would he--if it came to that.  And there was always her news of her elf campaign; she was working to make the lives of other's better and even though, having met an elf while at Diagon Alley two years previously, he'd thought the elves  were very happy as they were, he understands the points she is making.  The elves needed to have choices, just as Hermione had needed the choice between being his normal little girl or being a witch.  And she was, is, so happy, he reminds himself, so happy to have found her place in that world.  And it's not as though she's left this one altogether.  She comes home for holiday.

"Ted?"  His wife is standing in the doorway, holding a mug of tea out to him.  "Something wrong, love?"  She crosses the room to sit with him and he puts his arm around her with a sigh, kissing her hair as he takes the cup.

He fudges the truth, just a bit.  "I was wondering if I should put in fresh potpourri; Hermione should be back this Christmas, right?  No dances, no extra classes to keep her this year."

Courtney shifts and he frowns.  "Actually, love..."

"What?  Don't tell me that Vicky boy has come back to take her to another dance!"  He scowls.  "You'd think that boy would stay in Bulgaria, where he belongs, wouldn't you?  Or else he'd be busy with that sport...the broom-sport." 

His wife pats him soothingly, smiling gently.  He's not reassured; after all, she didn't seem to worry about that boy wanting to date their daughter.  In fact, she'd seemed very pleased by the whole matter.  "No, love."  She's laughing at him, he can tell.  "Viktor hasn't come back, but the Weasley's owl has.  Molly wants to invite Hermione for the Christmas break, since Ron is going to be going home for the holiday and she's already had permission to have Harry."  She reaches around him, taking a sip of his tea.  "She and Arthur have invited us for Christmas day as well."

"That might not be so bad."  He muses, the Weasleys have always seemed very nice.  And they took excellent care of Hermione the last time that they'd had her over.  The fact that he's been itching to see the way Wizards live at home is just the icing on the cake.  "It's not a bad idea at all."  Stealing his tea back from Courtney, he smiles at her.  "I thought for a moment you were going to tell me there was a boy that she wanted to stay at Hogwarts for."

He's alarmed to see her smile in the same sweet, speculative manner she'd used when they'd gotten the letter about last year's dance. "Oh, no.  I wouldn't say that she wants to stay at school over break because of a boy."  She hums softly to herself and he feels his gaze narrow.  "Not this year, at any length."

"But there is a boy whom she might want to...who might make her want to stay at school?"  His mind is whirling.  "It's not this Colin fellow, is it?  The one who takes all the pictures of her?"

Giggling, the woman was giggling.  "No, not Colin.  Oh, goodness, no.  He takes the pictures because she asks."

He's trying to remember all the boys she writes about, because it can't surely be some unknown boy.  "Not...not that Malfoy boy."  They're always running up against each other, or so it seems in her letters, it couldn't be some sort of--some sort of--oh, he can't even think the word.  "What sort of name is 'Malfoy', anyway!  And he's not exactly the nicest of blokes!  She could find somebody better!  What about that Seamus boy she mentions?  Or Neville?"

His wife, he's willing to admit, is barking mad.  She's laughing, holding her sides and laughing.  "No, oh, no, no, no.  No, she rather hates Draco Malfoy.  Don't worry, dear."  She pats his leg and stands.  "I'm going to write Molly and thank her for thinking of Hermione and letting her know we'll be over for Christmas."  She pauses briefly in the door.  "Come and help me think of a gift to bring?  And nothing 'Muggle' for Arthur.  Molly was absolutely livid over those stereo plug-ins and cords."

He nods and places the picture of his daughter and her friends back on her night-table.  "Alright."  He studies the picture for another moment, as inside it the two boys throw their arms over Hermione's shoulders and grin.  "You know, if Hermione is going to...well...if there's going to be a boy, she should really consider her friend Ron." Behind him he can hear Courtney choke on her tea.  "I'd say Harry, I know that you're thinking 'Harry' but Hermione has said that her friend likes him and you know Hermione would never do anything to hurt a friend.  But Ron seems like a fine young man."  He turns and smiles.  "I know that they've fought because he hated her cat but they got over that.  And I didn't like her cat at first...that monster hissed at me every time I wanted a slice of pound cake."

"You were on a diet, dear."  Her voice is faint and he frowns; there's something he's missing...but he's been married for twenty years and he knows, by now, that he'll never figure out the way his wife's mind works.

"That's part of the's an odd cat."  He sighs.  "My point is, even if she does, maybe, fancy Harry or some other bloke, Ron's a good friend and I think he fancies her.  He's invited her to spend a week at his house and he's always sent her a Christmas gift."  He gestures to the picture and the frame which, during the summer, has a running count-down on the number of days until terms starts. 

Courtney's smile has gone speculative again.  "Do you really think so?"  Well, good, he thinks.  He's gotten her off this mad 'Vicky is a nice boy' thing.  

He nods firmly.  "I think I might bring it up to her, as a matter of fact."   He can hear her laughing her way down the hall and shakes his head.  She's absolutely mad.  He flicks the lights off but not before blowing a kiss at his daughter's pillow and hoping that she can feel it, wherever she is. 

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