A/N: Much thanks to my beta
reader, Elanor Gamgee, who patiently corrected my grammar mistakes and to
everyone who encouraged me to sit down and write something.
It was odd to be home again.
Hermione already missed the comfort of her four poster, the familiarity of the
castle. She sat on her bed, having begged exhaustion from the train ride and
rushed upstairs, leaving her bewildered parents in the living room. She knew
they didn’t understand; in previous years she had always been so anxious to
tell them about school. They had listened in astonishment as she regaled them
with stories of her classmates, lessons, and magical creatures.
There was no way to explain
A boy had died. The Dark
Lord had returned. And she was a Muggle-born. Her parents could never
understand. Her stories would only worry them and perhaps convince them not to
send her back next year. And she needed to go back; in fact, she didn’t know
how she was going to wait until September. She had half a mind to rush back
downstairs and demand her parents take her to the Burrow. But she knew that
wouldn’t be fair. She had so little time with her parents and she was glad to
see them, honestly, it was just that she was so cut off from everyone here.
There was no way to receive news, she knew she couldn’t trust anything the
Daily Prophet reported and she had no other connection to the wizarding world.
She and Harry were alike in that way.
The train ride back to King’s
Cross station had been the most fun she’d had in the last few weeks. The five
of them-she, Ron, Harry, Fred, and George-had all crammed into the compartment,
but none of them minded the tight quarters. It had felt nice to be able to
relax and joke around again. Those times had been few and far between this
past year. The atmosphere had changed as soon as they’d arrived in London. She’d
kissed Harry’s cheek and watched him walk away with those Muggle relatives of
his. He blamed himself for Cedric’s death, she knew, and as soon as there was
no one around to distract him, he’d have nothing else to think about. She
reached over and grabbed a piece of parchment and a quill and began to write
him a letter.
It was all she could do. She
had finished writing before she realized that she didn’t have any way to send
it. She would have to wait until someone wrote her so she could use their
owl. She hated being here. She hated feeling alone and helpless, like a
When she was four years old,
a monster lived in her closet. It had been tall, with thick arms and legs
covered in black fur. It had growled at her during the daytime when she
passed by the door. The sound had been so loud that she moved all of her toys
and books to the other side of the room so she wouldn’t have to hear it. She
brought her parents upstairs and made them stand, one ear pressed against the
door, while she hid on the other side of the bed. They never heard anything.
Her mum said it was just her imagination, a product of reading too many stories
before bedtime. Hermione never believed her. During the night it came out and
stood by the end of her bed. It never touched her; it just stood there,
staring. Hermione always remained frozen in place, her fingers curled tightly
around the blanket.
It had glowing red eyes.
Her father fixed the problem
by removing the door from the closet. He pushed all of her clothes to the
side, grabbed a blanket and pulled her inside with him. Hermione sat on her
father’s lap, her face buried in his shirt, not wanting to see the glowing of
its eyes. Feeling them bore into her would be bad enough. They sat there in
the closet, father and daughter, until the shadows from the fading daylight
entered the room and left the closet clothed in black. Nothing happened. No
monster appeared; no red slanted eyes looked out at her from behind her Sunday
dresses. She was safe. Her father had vanquished the monster.
When she woke up from her
nap, the daylight had begun to fade into the muted tones of dusk. Faint
streaks of pink and yellow painted the sky and Hermione’s room was filling with
shadows. She pulled herself out of bed, straightened her clothes, and went to
see her parents.
She found them in the living
room, drinking tea and speaking in quiet tones. “Hermione! Did you have a
“Yes.” She sat down in the
old rocking chair, drawing her knees up under her chin. Hermione was too big
to be rocked now.
“You haven’t had a chance to
tell us about your year. How was it?” Her dad had a hint of excitement in his
voice. He always enjoyed her stories, especially the ones about Quidditch. He
was intrigued by the idea of flying brooms. It reminded her of Mr. Weasley’s
fascination with Muggle things.
“Fine.” She struggled to
think of things to say. “Harry won that tournament I told you about. A
thousand Galleons prize money. That’s quite a bit actually.” She’d added that
last part hastily, knowing her parents had no idea how much a Galleon was
“What else happened, dear?
Anything exciting?” Hermione thought for a moment before she spoke. A boy
I knew died. The wizarding world is at war and there’s nothing I can do to
help from here. Hermione forced a smile to her face.
“No, it was a pretty
uneventful year. I finished at the top of my class again though.” That was good;
focus their attention on her school work. She could talk about classes.
“You’ll never believe all the things I learned in Transfiguration.” Hermione
sat and talked to her parents about her lessons for over an hour. They may
have understood very little about what she was actually doing at Hogwarts but
they knew she loved to learn. It was one thing that never changed.
The next morning Hermione
found her mum in the garden, pulling weeds. Her mum had kept a garden for as
long as she could remember, and Hermione recalled many summer mornings spent on
her knees helping her mum save her precious plants from a slow, painful death
being choked to death by weeds. She dropped down at her mother’s side and
began to help.
“Morning, Hermione. Did you
get some breakfast?”
“I’m not really hungry.” At
the look of concern on her mum’s face, she added, “I’ll get something later.”
They worked in silence for a few minutes and Hermione gathered a sizeable pile
of weeds by her feet.
“You know, I’ve been thinking
I could clear that bit of ground next to the roses and you could plant some of
the things you’re learning about in school. We could take you to London if you
needed to get supplies or anything.” Hermione thought about her mum dealing
with a garden full of something like mandrakes. She would get herself killed.
“No, that’s ok. I wouldn’t
be here to take care of them and you wouldn’t know… ” She blushed, hating the
way the heat rushed to her face. You wouldn’t know how,” she finished lamely.
“Alright then. We’ll plant
something else.” Her mother stood up, brushing the dirt from her pants. “I’ve
got to get cleaned up for work.” Hermione looked down and saw that the pile of
weeds had completely covered her foot. She kicked them away angrily.
The box was on the table when
she got home from the library. It wasn’t as good as the library at Hogwarts,
but it provided a quiet place where she could study and it helped take her mind
off everything. “Who’s that for?” she asked her mum, who was busy fixing dinner.
“It’s yours. It came in the
post this morning. Well, by owl anyway.” Hermione reached eagerly for the
box. It was the first letter she’d had from any of her friends all summer.
“Oh, it’s from Ron,” she said,
recognizing the handwriting on the parchment.
break? Mine’s ok. Thought you might like to have some of the twins’ latest
creations. Don’t worry, they’re not dangerous! Kind of neat actually. You
should use them after dark. Things are starting to happen. I don’t know
what-my parents won’t tell us. But they seem really worried. Honestly, it’s
like they think I’m a kid. Anyway, the twins are working on a way for us to
hear their conversations after they’ve sent us upstairs. Have you heard from
Harry? All his letters to me have seemed really, distant or something. He
just sounds different.
P.S. You can keep Pig for
awhile if you want to write back.
By the time Hermione had
finished the letter her dad had come into the kitchen.
“What’s all this?”
“A present from Ron,” her mum
replied with a bit of a smirk on her face.
“Oh, Ron.” Her dad grinned.
“What’s that supposed to
“Well,” her mum said
knowingly, “that boy may be a wizard, but I know the way he looks at you.”
“I don’t like it,” her dad
said with mock seriousness. “That boy needs to keep his wand to himself.”
“Dad!” Hermione sputtered.
He reached across the table and tugged her hair.
“Hey, you’re still my little
girl.” He smiled. “Now what’s in the box?”
Huge balls of light shot into
the air. They spun in circles, twisting and zooming across the sky before
fanning out into the shape of a lion’s head. The fire shone in brilliant
colors of red and gold and tiny sparks fell from the sky. Gryffindor colors.
The lion’s head roared a couple of times before a shower of color fell from the
heavens, tickling as they touched Hermione’s skin. She laughed. The twins
could make a fortune selling these at school Quidditch games. “That was
beautiful, Hermione whispered as the sparkling lights began to grow dimmer.
“What was, dear?” Her
parents were standing in the garden looking up at the sky expectantly.
“The fire- balls.” They
looked at her blankly. “The lion’s head, the red and gold sparkles . . . you
couldn’t see any of it, could you?” Her parents shrugged.
“Must be a magic thing.”
“I guess.” Hermione
frowned. She could still see the smoky outline of the lion, the lines of its
face slowly fading into the darkness. Her mother came over and kissed the top
of her head.
“Goodnight, Hermione. Don’t
stay up too late.” Her parents turned to go back into the house.
“Sure, Mum. I’ll be in
soon.” She dropped to the ground, pulling her legs underneath her.
Crookshanks came over and she pulled him into her lap. She held him close to
her chest, squeezing him so tightly that he began to meow in protest. He
pushed to get away from her, his claws digging into her skin. She let him go.
Hermione stayed in the garden
long after her parent’s bedroom light had been extinguished. When she finally
returned to her room she climbed into bed, her long hair covering the expanse
of pillow. Hermione drifted off to sleep staring at her closet, its door
removed and her clothes casting haphazard shadows on the floor. She dreamed of
Harry. He was rushing out of the Tri-wizard maze,
Cedric’s limp body in his arms. He stopped and his eyes searched for hers in
the crowd. His hair was an unruly mess, sticking up at odd angles, pushed away
from his face. His scar gleamed in the evening light. It stood out from his
forehead, glowing white hot. He was staring at her and his mouth moved in a
silent scream. Run. She could feel the other students rushing by her, fleeing
the stands and heading for the castle. Hermione couldn’t move. Her legs became
rooted to the ground, her eyes locked on Cedric. With a rush of cold air, a
black robed figure emerged from the maze. It reached out a hand and pushed
Harry to the ground. He clutched his hands to his scar. Hermione knew he was
screaming. She couldn’t hear him, but she knew. The figure turned and faced
her, pushing the hood back from his face.
He had red, glowing eyes.
She woke up and she was
screaming. The sheets were twisted around her legs, her hair hung in sweaty
clumps around her face. Her father was at her side. He was pulling her into
his arms and gently rubbing her back.
“What is it? What’s wrong?”
His voice was soothing but it did nothing to calm the tremors that coursed
through her body. It was the first nightmare she’d had of the end of school.
She wondered how many Harry’d had.
“Voldemort, he came through
the maze and I couldn’t move and Harry, oh Harry, he
had to carry Cedric’s body and I couldn’t . . .” She let her father pull her
into his lap. Her fingers clutched at his nightshirt and she buried his face
in his chest. Her legs hung over the side of the bed, grazing the floor. The
carpet was rough on her feet. Before she knew what was happening the whole
story was pouring out of her. The Dark Mark and the Quidditch match,
Voldemort’s return, Cedric’s death. She talked until her voice was hoarse,
until there was nothing left to tell. When she awoke in the morning, her
father was still by her side, but she felt cold. When she closed her eyes, she
could still see the perfect outline of a figure cloaked in darkness, his eyes
shining bright red, blinding her.
It was the only night she’d
had the dream. Her parents cast her cautious looks each morning and Hermione
felt her face flush each red each time they looked at her with wondering eyes.
She hated that they were worrying about her. The invitation to come and stay
with Ron came a few days after the dream and she was grateful for the excuse to
escape. She needed to get back to her world.
Hermione closed the lid on
her trunk, hoping that she had remembered everything she would need for
school. She wouldn’t be coming back here until next summer. Ron’s last letter
had asked her to come and stay at the Burrow for the rest of the summer
holidays. She happily agreed. She was going and she would be connected to her
world again. That was enough to make her happy. She lugged her trunk down the
stairs, leaving it by the front door. Her parents were talking in the
kitchen. She could hear them laughing. She pushed open the door. They stopped
speaking and they all glanced uncomfortably at each other.
“Are you sure you want to go,
Hermione? We could call the Weasleys, tell them not to come.”
“They don’t have a phone, Mum.
Besides, I’m sure. School starts again in a few weeks anyway.”
“Yes, well then. Let’s go
wait for Mr. Weasley, shall we?” They filed into the living room and sat on
“So, is Ron coming too?” her
dad asked, a grin spreading across his face. Hermione laughed along with her
parents. She had gotten used to her dad’s teasing; in fact she kind of liked
it. It seemed normal. Hermione jumped up and threw her arms around her
“Thank you for letting me
go.” The doorbell rang.
“Fascinating! I wonder what
makes that work.” Hermione could hear Mr. Weasley outside. She wondered if
they would be able to leave without giving a full explanation of every gadget
in the house.
“Ready to go then?” asked her
mum as she went to answer the door.
“Hermione." Her dad
grabbed her arm and pulled her back to the couch. “If you need us for anything,
let us know, ok?” It wasn’t enough; her parents couldn’t help her anymore.
They both knew it.
“Sure, Dad, but I’ll be
fine.” She turned and walked to the front door, where she could hear Mr.
Weasley questioning her mum about the lamp that sat on the table by the door.
Hermione grinned as she wrapped her hand around the handle on her trunk. She
was going home.