Ron turned pink and quickly stuffed Hermione’s
letter into his pocket. She thanked him! Said she had no words for
the books! Invited him to her house! He forced himself to remain calm—it
was only Hermione, after all—and returned to his breakfast as if nothing
Fred and George, however, had seen everything
and could not be so easily fooled. “Who’s that letter from, Ron?” Fred
Mr. and Mrs. Weasley were too occupied
with the Daily Prophet to stop the teasing, but Ron noticed the
warning look that Ginny shot the twins.
“Nobody,” said Ron, paying close attention
to his toast as he buttered it.
Before Fred or George could respond to
this, Ginny said suddenly, “Bill, what time do you have to be back?”
At the sound of his name, Bill jerked his
head up. He had never been a morning person, and was dangerously close
to falling asleep. “What’s that?” he said, massaging the back of his
Ginny opened her mouth to repeat the question,
but shut it again when Mr. Weasley banged his coffee mug on the table
in disgust. “I knew he would deny it,” he muttered.
“Now, Arthur . . .” Mrs. Weasley replied.
“No one can prove that he was there.”
“Harry said so. Don’t you believe Harry?”
Mrs. Weasley raised the newspaper, and
both of them lowered their voices. Ron had grown accustomed to this
behavior upon his return from Hogwarts. He had no memory of the days
before Voldemort attacked the Potters, but he was beginning to get a
“We need to add that to our list of things
to invent, George,” Fred continued, as if there had been no interruptions.
“The Official Weasley Letter From Nobody. Think how many we’d sell!
‘Fool your friends, dazzle your relatives . . .’”
“Aw, leave him alone, Fred,” said George,
though he couldn’t suppress a grin. “Poor Ronniekins.”
Ron decided right then to give each of
the twins a Blast-Ended Skrewt for Christmas.
“Eleven,” mumbled Bill.
“What’s that?” Mr. Weasley asked, turning
to look at Bill.
“I have to be back at eleven.”
“Well, I know that, son. Are you going
to eat that bacon?”
Ron cleared his throat. “Dad?”
“Mmmm?” his father replied, stealing Bill’s
“I need to ask you and Mum if . . . if
Ginny and I can go somewhere.”
Mrs. Weasley lowered the newspaper. “Could
you be a bit more specific about where ‘somewhere’ is?”
“Where Nobody lives,” Fred murmured, and
both twins erupted into laughter.
A big Blast-Ended Skrewt. An adult.
Each. “Erm. One of my friends invited me to stay with her—him for
the last week of summer.”
“Herhim?” asked George, sending himself
and Fred into another fit of laughter.
“Honestly, you two,” Mrs. Weasley snapped.
She turned back to her youngest son. “Ron, do your father and I know
. . . him?”
“Ah. Why don’t we talk about this later?
Your father and I should discuss it first.” She winked at him, and
Ron knew why she had dropped the subject.
He left the table a few minutes later.
He wanted to bolt to his room, lock the door, and read Hermione’s letter
again . . . maybe read all her letters . . . or maybe just read the
best ones more than once.
“I hope we can go to Hermione’s,” came
a voice from behind him.
Ron stopped in the hall and turned around
to face Ginny. “What do you mean?”
“Oh, come off it!” she laughed. “You
can be honest with me, Ron. Of course that letter is from Hermione.”
He shrugged. “Yeah.” The pattern on their
carpet was interesting. He had never noticed.
“It would be fun, don’t you think?”
“Maybe.” It was very intricate, like millions
of circles all twisted together.
“Her parents seemed nice that day we met
“Yeah.” Someone must have spent a lot
of time on it.
“What about Harry?” Ginny asked suddenly.
“What do you mean?” Oh. No. Did Hermione
like Harry? He didn’t care especially, but he’d appreciate it if his
friends told him these things. So he could be prepared. It was simple
courtesy. The wallpaper in the hall had four different kinds of flowers
“Well, wasn’t Harry planning to come here?
He’ll be awfully disappointed if he has to stay with his aunt and uncle.”
Oh. “Hermione’s inviting him, too,” Ron
replied. A yellow flower, a red flower, a white flower, a purple flower.
“That might not be a good idea.”
“Why not?”he asked, finally meeting her
“Does Dumbledore know about it? I mean,
it’s not really safe for Harry to be going wherever he chooses, is it?”
“I don’t think Hermione would do anything
against the rules,” said Ron. Except steal stuff out of Snape’s office
and brew forbidden potions over a toilet.
“She might not have really thought about
it,” Ginny continued to muse.
“Hermione thinks of everything.”
Hermione had stayed at home just in case
Ron and Ginny arrived while her parents were gone. Besides that, she
was worried that the Dursleys might recognize her from the train station,
and she didn’t want anything to ruin Harry’s chances of getting away.
She ran up to the attic to get the box of Lily’s things and carried
it downstairs, then discovered that she had nothing left to do but wait.
Fortunately, her friends didn’t keep her
waiting long. Some ash stirred in the fireplace, and Ginny stood there
seconds later. She came out to hug Hermione warmly, then brushed the
soot off of her socks. Seconds later, both girls backed away from the
fireplace as something landed with a thud, sending small poofs of ash
into the room. Their coughing was quickly replaced with laughter when
they realized that the “thud” had been Ron.
He groaned and crawled out, hitting his
head with another groan as he did so. “That’s a nice, crooked fireplace
you’ve got there, Hermione,” he grumbled, rubbing his head.
“It is not crooked!” she said defensively.
“Maybe you should learn how to use that stuff properly.” Right then,
Hermione thought of the chessmen and softened her expression. She stepped
closer to him and asked, “Are you all right, though?”
Their trunks tumbled down a minute later,
and Hermione helped them carry their things to their rooms. Ginny would
be sharing Hermione’s bedroom, and Harry and Ron would be sleeping in
the guest room. One of the first things Ginny did when they were alone
was to give Hermione the wooden box of Ron’s chessmen. Hermione bit
her trembling lip and put the box in her desk.
When they had settled in and cleaned up,
Hermione led them to the kitchen and gave them each a glass of chocolate
“Well?” said Ron, gulping down everything
in his glass.
“Well what?” Hermione asked.
“Are you going to show us that stuff that
belonged to Harry’s mum, or what?”
“Oh!” she exclaimed, laughing. “I completely
forgot!” She ran to retrieve the box and set it down on the table.
She showed them the photograph of Lily holding the flower (“That does
look a little like me when I was very little,” Ginny confessed), the
locket, the letter from Mrs. Evans, and some of the more interesting
books. Both Ron and Ginny were amazed that young Lily had been able
to put her voice inside the book of fairy tales.
“Harry won’t know what to look at first,”
Ginny sighed. “I’m so happy for his sake.”
“Me too,” Ron agreed. “I like his grandmother.
Wonder whatever happened to her? She must have died pretty young if
she was already gone when Lily was killed.”
“I’ve thought about that too,” said Hermione.
“Not to mention his grandfather.”
“Harry Evans,” murmured Ron.
Hermione gathered Lily’s things together
again and put them back into the box. “I better put this stuff away
before Harry gets here,” she said. “Should I give him everything tonight,
do you think?”
“Yes,” said Ron and Ginny together.
When Hermione returned from the hall, she
poured another glass of milk for Ron; Ginny had drunk only half of hers.
She sat down with them again, staring absently at the window. She felt
peaceful, safe, and content, sitting here in her house with her close
Ron was the first to break the comfortable
silence. “Don’t you think it’s strange that Lily never wrote to your
Hermione looked at Ron. “She was only
five or six, though.”
“But she could write,” Ron insisted. “At
the very least, her mum could have written.”
He had a point. Hermione frowned and ran
her finger around the rim of her glass. “I can’t believe I didn’t think
of that,” she confessed. “It is rather odd, isn’t it?”
“Maybe she did write,” Ginny suggested
practically, “and your mum doesn’t have those letters anymore.”
“And if they did write to each other,”
Ron continued to muse, “when did they stop, and why? It would have
been neat if Lily wrote to your mum from Hogwarts.”
“Very neat,” Hermione agreed, “but it won’t
work. When I got my Hogwarts letter, my parents were mystified. They’d
never heard of it.”
The three lapsed once more into silence,
but Hermione’s brain was now racked with questions. Ron’s question
was a good one. Why hadn’t either Lily or Virginia written? And if
they had written, there was still the problem of when and why
the letters stopped. It must have been before Lily went to Hogwarts.
Petunia Dursley whisked her feather duster
over the shelf above the kitchen sink, humming to herself. She kept
her eye on a neighbor across the street; Annie Yates was burying something
in her front yard. Petunia stopped dusting and leaned closer to the
window. Right. A sprinkler. One could never be too careful, though.
“Mummy, I want another bowl of ice cream.”
She walked over to the table where little
Dudley was sitting and reached for the bowl.
“Mummy! You’re standing in front of my
“Sorry, Angel.” She opened the freezer.
“What do you want this time? Chocolate, vanilla, strawberry, cookie,
or banana split?”
“All of them.”
She returned the bowl to Dudley a few minutes
later, along with a short celery stick. “Eat that too, Duddy. You
must try to stick to your diet. Remember what—”
There was a knock on the door. She quickly
looked out of the kitchen window again. Annie wasn’t in her yard anymore.
Most peculiar. She went to the door and opened it cautiously, revealing
two strangers—a man and woman who seemed normal enough. The woman was
looking at her a little strangely, though.
Petunia pulled back the chain lock and
opened the door a little wider. “Er, may I help you?”
“Mrs. Dursley?” the man asked.
He extended his hand to her. “I’m Henry
Granger. Pleasure to meet you.”
She took the offered hand weakly and quickly
let it go again. “Er.”
“And this is my wife, Mrs. Granger.”
His wife nodded pleasantly and said, “Call
“Er.” Something wasn’t quite right.
She peered beyond them. They had a nice car. “Is there something you
The man smiled and put his hands in his
pockets. “Actually, we were hoping to get Harry.”
Petunia’s eyes widened and her lips thinned.
“Harry Potter does live here, doesn’t he?”
“Oh, Harry,” Petunia said. These
normal-looking people wanted to see Harry? Why? Should she let them
in her house? She took another look at their car, which looked quite
expensive. She stood aside and managed to say, “Come in.”
She led the couple to the living room.
“Lovely home you have here, Mrs. Dursley,” the woman said.
Petunia stared at her. She looked very
familiar. “Do you mind if I phone my husband?”
“Not at all. We’re in no hurry,” said
the man who called himself Mr. Granger.
Petunia went quickly to the hall and dialed
Grunnings, tapping her fingers impatiently on the wall as she waited
to be connected to Vernon.
“Hullo, dear. It’s me. Erm, there are
two people here who want to take Harry, and—”
There was a click. “Vernon?” Petunia
shrugged and hung up the phone. She went back to the living room and
stood awkwardly in the doorway, staring at the couple. “I suppose it’s
all right if you take Harry,” she told them as casually as she could.
“That’s wonderful,” said Mrs. Granger.
“Is he upstairs, Petunia?”
Petunia started and narrowed her watchful
eyes. “How did you know my name?” she demanded.
Mrs. Granger hesitated, then gave the most
obvious answer. “Harry told us.”
Petunia wasn’t sure if she believed the
woman, however normal she looked and whatever her car had cost. Then
she suddenly realized where she had seen the face. It had aged a few
decades, but she was sure that she was looking at Lily’s old mate.
“I know who you are,” she hissed. “’Call me Rose’? I should have known
Mrs. Granger smiled uncomfortably. “Yes.
I was Lily’s friend.”
Petunia couldn’t explain why she did it,
but she left them without a word, stalked to her bedroom closet, and
took something down from the highest shelf. Then she marched back into
the living room and slammed the bundle into Mrs. Granger’s hands. “These
are yours,” she snapped.
Mrs. Granger stared down at a pile of letters
held together with a blue rubber band. She gasped. “Wh—? I don’t
Petunia crossed her arms. “It was my job
to take care of the mail.”
“You . . . you . . .” Mrs. Granger sputtered.
“Are these from Lily to me?”
“Yes. My mother wrote you some as well.”
Petunia smiled. “They always wondered why you didn’t write back.”
Mr. Granger put his arm around his wife’s
shoulders. “I think we better leave,” he said. “Could you have Harry
come down, please?”
“Yes, take him,” Petunia shrugged. “HARRY!”
There were a few thumps upstairs, followed
by a voice. “What is it?”
“Pack your things. You’re leaving now.”
“Okay.” The door shut again. Petunia
took a calming breath to suppress her rage. Apparently, Harry was expecting
these people. But he didn’t see fit to notify his aunt and uncle, did
Mrs. Granger said softly, “You should have
given these to Harry long ago.”
“As if food and a roof weren’t enough?”
Petunia said dryly. “Just be glad I never burned them. I should have.
There’s no telling what sort of nonsense she and my mother wrote.”
“How long did it take for them to stop
writing me?” Mrs. Granger asked.
Petunia drew herself up. “Oh, they were
quite determined—but so was I. The letters finally stopped after a
year or two.”
Before the Grangers could reply, Harry
came trudging down the stairs. He was dragging his trunk behind him
and carrying that ridiculous owl. So he had been ready to leave.
Had been planning this for weeks, no doubt. Petunia wanted nothing
more than to get him out of her sight. Those horrid green eyes always
mocked her. She noticed that Mrs. Granger slipped the bundle of letters
subtly into her bag.
Petunia knew then why she had returned
the letters. She wanted Lily’s friend to know that she had picked the
wrong sister. She, Petunia, was the clever one. The normal one. It
was a small triumph, but it brightened her day.
The trip from Privet Drive to Hermione’s
house passed quickly for Harry, who was so eager to see his friends
again. He had looked forward to seeing them at the end of every summer,
but none so much as this one, when the previous year’s events weighed
so heavily on his mind and conscience. He always tried to picture Cedric
as he was before they entered the maze—looking happy at the Yule Ball
or racing around the Quidditch stadium on his broomstick. Not only
did he picture Cedric as he was before the maze; he tried to picture
his life as it was before the maze. It seemed very long ago,
and Harry wondered if he could ever be as content as he was then, when
his chief concern was asking Cho Chang to the Ball, or laughing with
Ron as they made up silly predictions for Professor Trelawney.
“Did you get all your summer homework done,
Harry?” asked Mr. Granger, looking at Harry through the mirror.
“Most of it. I’m sure Hermione’s all done,”
he smiled, forcing himself to shake off his gravity. “I should thank
you both for my birthday present,” he continued. “Hermione said that
you helped her pick it out.”
“It was her idea,” Mrs. Granger said with
a wave of her hand. “But you’re quite welcome, Harry.”
They lapsed into silence again, but only
for a few minutes. Harry closed his eyes and inhaled deeply as they
pulled into the drive of the Grangers’ home. In minutes, he would be
with the two people he cared about most. And Ginny would be there too.
As he stepped out of the Grangers’ car,
he noticed three grinning faces peering at him through a window. The
faces disappeared, and the next second, Ron flung the door open and
ran out to meet Harry, with Hermione and Ginny close behind him.
“Harry!” Ron exclaimed. For a moment,
Harry thought that Ron was going to hug him, but Ron stopped short suddenly
and extended his hand instead. “Glad to see you again!”
Hermione was not so bashful. She flung
her arms around Harry’s neck, and Harry noticed that Ron’s ears had
gone pink. “We’re all together again,” she sighed as she stepped back.
She draped her arm around Ron’s shoulders and grinned. “Aren’t we a
sight for sore eyes, Harry?”
Harry’s eyes were much more interested
in the expression on Ron’s face at that moment. He looked as though
he were claiming the Cup for the Cannons.
Ginny approached Harry more quietly, blushing
furiously. “Hi, Harry,” she murmured, smiling up at him.
“Hi, Ginny,” he replied.
“Come, let’s get inside,” said Mrs. Granger
They piled into the house, and Mr. Granger
exclaimed, “Hermione, what have you been cooking? It smells heavenly!”
“Actually, Dad,” Hermione replied, “Ron
cooked most of it. I just helped with the—just a few things.” Harry
watched her smile at Ron, who now looked badly sunburnt from the neck
“Well done, Ron,” said Mr. Granger, putting
a hand on Ron’s shoulder. “I’m starving.”
Ron carried Harry’s trunk up to the guest
room while Harry released Hedwig through a window. He noticed that
Mrs. Granger had pulled Hermione aside in the hall and was talking to
her quite seriously. Hermione seemed very affected by what her mother
said, and covered her mouth with her hand. Harry turned away, not wanting
A short time later, all six of them crowded
noisily around the Grangers’ small table. Harry had stayed at the Burrow
often enough to know that Ron could cook, so he tore into his supper
with no trepidation.
“Thanks for taking care of supper, Ron,”
said Mrs. Granger. “It was very sweet of you.”
Harry knew that the “few things” Hermione
helped with probably had to do with showing Ron how to work a stove.
“Why, Harry,” said Mrs. Granger suddenly,
“you have green eyes!”
Bemused, he could only respond, “Yes, I
They had dessert in the living room. Mrs.
Granger scooped ice cream in the kitchen, and Mr. Granger carried the
bowls out to the young people. When he had served the four of them,
he disappeared into the kitchen with Mrs. Granger. They were obviously
leaving the four friends alone to talk.
There wasn’t much to say. Ron had spent
the summer playing Quidditch with his brothers (“And your sister!” Ginny
interjected); Hermione had completed all her homework and had done a
bit of extra reading on the side; Harry had been driven mad by the Dursleys.
Sitting there with them, chatting idly about their boring summers, Harry
could forget Cedric and Voldemort. He felt grateful and light.
“I have something for you Harry,” said
Hermione, surprising him.
“What’s that?” he asked.
“I have to do a bit of explaining first.
See, my mum and I were cleaning out the attic recently, and we found
photographs of one of her childhood friends, as well as some books that
had belonged to her.”
Harry nodded, wondering where this was
going. He felt he should make some response, so he said, “That’s neat.”
Hermione glanced sideways at Ron, then
took a deep breath. “Harry, it was your mother.”
Harry blinked. “What do you mean?”
“My mother’s best friend was your mother,
Lily Evans. They were only five or six when they knew each other, but
my mum has two photographs, several books, and a pile of letters that
have never been read. Your mother’s voice is recorded in one of the
She paused to allow Harry to respond, but
he only stared at her as if the wind had been knocked out of him. This
was simply too much to take in . . . his mother, Hermione’s mother .
. . childhood friends. His mind raced to try to process what she had
Hermione continued, “My mother never responded
to the letters because—they were sent to the wrong address, and she
was only recently able to get them back. Besides the letters from your
mother, there are also a few from your grandmother.”
Hermione stood up and went to a nearby
closet, from which she took a box. She returned to Harry and set the
box on his lap. “All of this is yours now, Harry,” she said softly.
Harry swallowed and looked down at the
box. His mind felt numb. “Do you—” His voice came out hoarsely, and
he cleared his throat. “Do you mind if I go upstairs?”
“Want me to stay down here, Harry?” Ron
Harry nodded. He glanced at Hermione and
Ginny, whose eyes were shining. “Go on, Harry,” Hermione murmured.
“First door on the left. We won’t disturb you.”
He gripped the box with hands that felt
alien to him and walked away from them with feet that didn’t feel like
his own. He climbed each step one by one and pushed open the door of
the dark guest room. After he switched on the light, he sank to the
floor with the box and pulled it open.
On top was a bundle of papers held together
with a blue band. He put these to the side to be read later. Beneath
that was a photograph of a pretty red-haired girl holding a flower.
He ran his fingers over her face and set the photograph aside. There
was a small gold locket under the photo, and Harry picked it up and
“Mum,” he whispered as his own green eyes
looked back at him.
He unfolded the piece of yellowed paper
under the locket and found himself reading a letter written by his grandmother.
Her name was Virginia. Virginia Evans. And he realized that he was
named for his grandfather. He had seen his grandparents in the Mirror
of Erised. It had been years ago, but he still remembered every detail
of every face. Two stood behind James, two behind Lily. Virginia Evans
was a slender woman with blond hair and a mischievous smile. And she
had written this letter.
Several books lay in the box. As he looked
through them, Harry found his mother’s name, a short note, and a childish
drawing of a cat. His mother’s handwriting.
The last was a book of fairy tales, in
which either Hermione or her mother had marked a page. He opened to
the selected page, and a little girl’s voice spoke to him.
“Hi. My name is Lily. This is my book.
I hope you like it.”
She wasn’t screaming, “Please, not Harry!”
in his memory. The shadow of her voice wasn’t comforting him as his
whole body was racked with physical and mental pain. She was only Lily
Evans, a little girl who discovered that she could preserve her voice
in a book. And the little girl’s voice replaced the scream and the
“He’s asleep,” said Ron to Hermione and
Ginny, who stood behind him in the hallway. “Asleep on the floor.”
“Do you want me to wake him?” Hermione
asked, looking concerned.
“I’ll do it,” said Ron. “Good night, you
They disappeared into Hermione’s room,
and Ron went back into the guest room. Quietly and carefully, he stacked
Lily’s things back into the box. Then, he took the blanket off of Harry’s
bed and covered his friend. Grabbing the blanket from his own bed,
he switched off the light and crept downstairs to sleep on the sofa.