The Sugar Quill
Author: Jane (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Hermione's Secret  Chapter: Chapter Two: The Well
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Chapter 2 - The Well

Hermione was feeling quite pleased with her new attitude, but a nasty thought interrupted. A certain red-headed, foul-mouthed, obnoxious thought. Ron. It was so much easier to just pretend that nothing was going on. Just thinking his name made her blood pressure rise. The bike's pedals began to spin faster and faster and Hermione's hair fluttered out behind her, beneath her sensible bike helmet.

"That... that... idiot! That insufferable, cretinous... After all his ridiculous behavior with Viktor, things had been strained enough between them.  In the past, Harry always managed to unite them in a single purpose; and Cedric's death had seemed to put their relationship on a different level, but it hadn't taken Ron long to spoil that.

The one time she, Harry, and Ron had arranged to meet, Ron had gone and spoiled the whole day.  She had been looking forward to it for weeks. Since Harry was going away with Sirius for a the rest of the summer, it was her last chance to see him until September. Professor Dumbledore said that Harry would be as safe as he could be with his godfather.  He believed it was important that Harry study under Sirius, who was a Phoenix level Mahoutsukaido master, an expert in an Eastern form of wizarding self-defense. Ron had been jealous, as usual.

So, they had arranged by owlpost to meet at a place close to the Dursley's house. Harry planned to sneak away while the Dursleys were spending the day on the beach. Ron had several comments to make about what Dudley would look like on the beach in his letter, but then he always had something rude and sarcastic to say. Jerk. Hermione had arrived at the Beak and Claw wearing a bright tank top with a sparkling butterfly on the front, and jean shorts. She had put her hair in a ponytail, and had even taken the time to put on a bit of lip gloss - which was only sensible because it had sunscreen in it.

Hermione's face burnt with remembered humiliation. She had locked up her bike, and climbed onto the patio where Ron and Harry were waiting. Harry had grinned and raised his glass in a salute, but Ron hadn't move a muscle. He just stared at her. Stared right at her chest as if he had never seen a pair of... a pair of wings before. Well, maybe he hadn't, really. But that didn't excuse his rude behavior. Hermione sat down on the far side of the table and crossed her arms across her chest. Until Harry had given him a sharp kick in the shins, Ron hadn't been able to look away. It was awful. She gave Harry a quick hug, and kiss good-bye and ran for her bicycle. Ron never said a thing.

Tears flew down Hermione's cheeks. Tears of embarrassment she told herself. But it was more than that.

"Never mind my friendship, my loyalty, my brains, or the way I've stood by them through danger and punishments," she thought. "Apparently, all I needed to get his attention was a pair of...AHHH!"

Hermione's wheel hit a tree root and stopped dead. She flew over the handlebars and somersaulted onto a grassy patch beside the trail. She lay stunned for a few moments, gasping for her stolen breath . Overhead, the sun was dazzling and the sky was an ocean her thoughts began to drift upon. Hermione the little girl, Hermione the brain, Hermione the teenager. "Hermione Granger who are you?"  The question floated through her mind, and echoed back.

A bird's song brought her thoughts back into focus. She reached up to unsnap her helmet, and pulled it off with both hands. She didn't get up though, despite the realization that the ground was actually a bit damp, and a sharp twig was poking into her back. The song was enchanting. It soothed Hermione's nerves. She slowly sat up and took a good look around her. A tiny brown bird sat on a low branch of an oak tree. It tipped its small head to one side and let out a beautiful trill. Standing up stiffly, Hermione brushed some dirt from the seat of her shorts, and walked towards the thrush.

She was surprised when it darted away.  It seemed so friendly.  For some reason she thought it would have let her reach up to stroke its delicate feathers.  She followed it further into the trees.  A few minutes later, Hermione stepped into a clearing.  In its centre was a ring of stones.  Not standing stones, but almost like a ring of stones from some forgotten campfire.  As she drew closer and stood overlooking them, Hermione realized that she was peering down into an old well.  The mossy green rock reached down far into the earth until it touched a still, dark sheet of water at the bottom.

She dropped to her knees and stared down into the well at the silent pool below.  She gripped the edges of the well carefully, sat up on her knees, and leaned over to get a better look.  Her hair fell in front of her face, and she tucked it behind her ear.  Suddenly, a soft "Splash," startled her.  Hermione stared down, watching the water ripple out in ever growing circles.

"I guess I dislodged a little stone," she said aloud.  Her heart was still pounding, but she forced a smile at her reaction.

A ray of sunshine slipped through the trees and caught the pool at just the right angle.  For a moment Hermione could see her pale face reflected in the water.  Hermione stared down at her image, at her watery twin, and felt an ache in her throat.  She wanted to hurl something into the face that stared back at her.

"Oh why can't I...  I just wish I could be someone, or something else.  Someone special," she sobbed quietly.  It was so difficult to explain.  She just knew that deep inside her she was more.  More than what people saw.  Everyone knew Harry was special.  She didn't begrudge him that.  It wasn't even that she envied him, but for once she wished that someone would recognize that there was something about her.  That she was more than just a body or a brain. 

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