Thanks to my beta, PirateQueen.
Disclaimer: I do not own these
characters, settings etc; they, as ever, are the property of JK Rowling. I
offer my thanks to her for creating such inspiring and endearing characters and
then allowing us to play with them in this form.
Hermione, At Home
Set during Hermione’s
you sure we can’t persuade you to join us, darling?”
Granger looked up from her desk to see her father hovering awkwardly in the
doorway to her room. She smiled.
Daddy. I’ll be fine here, I promise you,” she reassured him. “I’ve got four
essays due in first-day-back, and I really want to use the evening to study.”
She flashed him a smile and turned back to her parchment, burying her head amid
the towering piles of books which were stacked across her desk.
can’t take a night off? Just for once, dear?” Mr Granger attempted. “It is
New Year’s Eve, after all. You should be out partying with – with--””
her feelings of impatience, Hermione put her quill down and turned to offer her
father a pitying smile.
Granger seemed to mistake this for an invitation, for he took a few hesitant
steps into the room. “The Craddock boy will be there,” he said, brightening. “You
remember him – John? Jonathan? Nice lad – tall, blond, quite a handsome chap - was
in your class at St Oswald’s…?”
pressed her lips together and returned to her essay. “Yes, Dad, I remember Jonathan
Craddock,” she said, a tinge of bitterness in her voice. “And I haven’t
forgotten that he and Matthew Morris used to follow me home from school every
day and hurl blackberries at me, calling me a ‘weirdo’ and a – a --” She could
hear the tremor in her voice as she recalled the feelings of anger and
humiliation she had endured at the hands of those stupid boys, so long ago,
before she had even begun to understand just how different she really was from them
- and from everyone else around her. She took a steadying breath and forced a convincingly
bright smile onto her face. “I’ll be fine, Dad. You and Mum go – have a great
time. I’ll see you tomorrow morning.”
Granger sighed, defeated. “Well, if you’re quite sure, dear….”
am, Daddy,” she answered distractedly, her attention already lost to Human
Transfiguration, A Beginners Course for Non-Metamorphmagi, by Arethusa
goodnight then, darling. Don’t study too hard….”
listened to his retreating footsteps, and then the soft click as he gently
closed the door behind him. A few minutes later, she heard the front door slam.
They’d gone. She put her quill down with a weary sigh and pressed her
fingertips to her temples. This holiday had been very trying.
didn’t mean to shut her parents out like this, and she felt guilty for it, but
she couldn’t face fending off their questions and the inevitable looks of
concern her answers would provoke. They never asked her anything really
probing, just the usual stuff about school and her friends and boys, but
it was more than she could endure right now. She didn’t want to snap at her
parents, so it was simpler just to avoid them. All holiday she had hidden
herself away in her room, ‘homework’, at least, an excuse her parents
understood without the need for further explanation.
course, it was not just an excuse. Her books were her refuge, not only
an effective distraction from her turbulent emotions but a very useful outlet
for them too. Into her schoolwork she had channelled all her seething fury, all
her rage and frustration, all her hatred … all the desperate feelings
she fought to control, bubbling at her surface, ready to boil over at any
moment. It gave her no small satisfaction to know that, where other girls might
have gone to pieces and seen their grades plummet, she was still determinedly trouncing
every other student in every subject she studied – well, every subject except
Potions where Harry was top, but that didn’t count as he was cheating with his
she had found she had a lot more time to spend in the library now that she
wasn’t frittering away study hours in the common room with Ron, or turning up
to Quidditch practices to show him support, or re-writing his homework
assignments. She snorted. And really, it could not have come at a better time,
she reminded herself: now that she was working towards her NEWTs and her
studies were so demanding, it was a relief not to have to waste her precious
time and energy on someone who was so undeserving of it.
she’d done it again. Somehow, despite her vigilance, he had snuck back into her
brain and re-ignited those fires of fury – How did he manage to get to her so? How
had she let him?
grimly, she re-focussed her concentration on her Transfiguration essay.
* * *
hour later, Hermione put down her quill and leant back in her chair with a triumphant
sigh. That was her Transfiguration essay taken care of. She flipped closed her Transfiguration
book and reached for her copy of Quintessence: A Quest. She stayed her
hand. Closing her Transfiguration book had revealed a small piece of parchment
which she had discovered in her pencil case earlier, tightly folded. She did
not remember stashing it in her pencil case, but she did remember receiving it.
It was a note from Ron; an old note, written earlier in the term, a couple of
months ago, before he had gone weird on her, before that wretched Quidditch
match and Lavender and the canaries and everything. He had passed it to her in
the library one afternoon. It was just a note, asking her to help him with one
of Snape’s essays. She stared at it contemplatively. With a heavy feeling in
her heart, she slowly opened it up to gaze once more on his familiar scrawl.
9 uses for Relashio? I’ve got 3: magical ropes (Incarcerous?),
chains and cuffs. What else is there?
which she had added:
don’t you ever listen to Snape in class? If you did, you might just be
able to complete one of his assignments without needing my help.
he had replied:
Why would I want to listen to that greasy git when you can
explain it to me so much better, Hermione?
had added a cheeky doodle of Snape with a huge nose and fierce expression and
next to it, a picture of a smiling face crowned with big bushy hair.
she stared at Ron’s words, and the silly pictures, she felt so sad, so utterly
sad. Had she got it wrong? Had she really got it so wrong? She
had waited so long for him to notice her and she had thought they were growing
closer, that he had liked her, that they were finally moving towards becoming
something more than friends… He had wanted to kiss her, that day at The Burrow,
hadn’t he? She was sure she hadn’t read those signals incorrectly. And she had
made herself vulnerable for him, she had asked him to the Slug Club Christmas
party. She had worked up the courage and swallowed her pride and asked
him and he had said yes. He had wanted to go with her, or so it
had seemed at the time. But then he’d become strangely hostile towards her, and
unkind; she still did not understand where that had come from. He had spent two
weeks sniping and snarling at her and she had put up with it. Then they had
rowed after the Quidditch match about Felix Felicis, and the next thing she’d known,
he was snogging the face off Lavender Brown! And he had barely come up for air
since. The way he practically flaunted Lavender in front of her - Lavender,
with her octopus-arms and lamprey-lips - was he trying to hurt her? Was
he really so angry at her that he would go to such lengths? To have it thrown
back in her face so cruelly, so insensitively! He was a brute!
a growl of frustration, she pushed her chair back and got to her feet.
Crookshanks sat up from her bed covers and fixed her with his green eyes. She
crossed the room and dropped onto the bed beside him. He merely blinked at her
serenely, but something in his calm, watchful gaze reached out to her and
pushed the bitter thoughts aside. For a while, she absorbed herself in rubbing
Crookshanks’s tummy, listening to the low thrumming of his purrs and the
rhythmic tap of his tail tip against the bed covers. She felt soothed, peaceful
almost, watching his cute, squashed-in face smiling with pleasure at her touch.
her treacherous heart would not let her go so easily, and she soon found her
thoughts straying back to Ron…
had Lavender given Ron for Christmas, she wondered. More importantly, what had
he given her? Last year, he had given Hermione perfume; this
year, they weren’t speaking. Maybe that bottle of perfume would be the last
gift he ever gave her. Despite herself, she couldn’t help a wry smile: if she
only ever had that perfume to remember his friendship by, she thought she’d
rather forget. Then a horrible thought occurred to her - supposing Ron had
invited Lavender to The Burrow? Bitterly, she dwelled on this, torturing
herself with imagined scenes of Mrs Weasley and Ginny chatting with Lavender,
and baking together, and laughing about Fleur …
Crookshanks!” she groaned, flopping back against her duvet.
decided to go to the kitchen and fix herself a hot chocolate. If she was going
to tackle that Charms essay tonight, she would need some nourishment. She
grabbed her wand from her desk and headed out of her room, Crookshanks following
closely at her heels.
the kitchen, she found the drinking chocolate and tipped a generous helping
into a mug. Not one to waste a chance to practise her magic, especially now
that she was of age and could do magic out of school, she flicked her wand to
open the fridge door, then Summoned the milk carton, taking a moment to
congratulate herself on her non-verbal spell-casting.
she levitated the milk carton to pour milk into her mug, her mind drifted back
to Lavender again. Lavender knew. Oh yes, no doubt about that. Hermione
had always rebuffed Lavender’s teasing inquiries about her friendships with Ron
and Harry, treating her comments with the contempt they deserved, but she had
seen the sly looks Lavender shot at her when she thought she wasn’t looking,
and sometimes when she knew she was.
tapped the mug once and watched with satisfaction as the milk began to bubble
and steam. Yes, Lavender knew how she felt about Ron. Harry too, though they
had never discussed it. It was a mark of their friendship that they had never
needed to have that conversation. She was grateful to Harry, but she knew he
wanted her to forgive Ron and make friends. It would certainly make life easier
for Harry if she did, and for his sake she wished that she could, but he didn’t
understand how impossible it was for her. Harry didn’t understand how deeply
Ron had hurt her; no one did.
set a teaspoon stirring her drink then sent the drinking chocolate back to its
cupboard and the milk back to the fridge. As the fridge door slammed shut, her
attention was caught by the photos stuck over it with magnets. Idly, she
shuffled over to the fridge to look at them more closely.
was a photo of her in the back garden, taken the summer before she first
started at Hogwarts. She had tried on her school robes for her parents’
camera. Her teeth looked very big there, she thought, and her hair was
shocking. She shuddered. She did look a ‘nightmare’. Another picture
had been taken a couple of summers later, when she and her parents had gone to France on holiday. The picture showed all three of them together, their arms slung round
each other’s shoulders (she remembered her dad had bought an expensive camera
with a clever timing device and had spent the entire holiday playing with it,
much to her mother’s annoyance). The first thing she noticed was how much she
had grown in between this photo and the last one; her head was level with her
mum’s. She looked very brown, but her teeth were still taking over her face. Thank
goodness she had had the sense to throw away those braces and let Madam Pomfrey
sort them out instead.
wasn’t in the last photo at all; it showed her parents and some of their
friends, all togged up in their skiwear, laughing together in the snow. That
was last Christmas, the holiday she’d ducked out of to spend with Harry and the
Weasleys at Grimmauld Place. She peered at the photo curiously. Her parents
looked happy, but she knew they had been disappointed that she hadn’t joined
them. She frowned and sipped her drink. Crookshanks wound his tail around her
somewhere outside she heard the familiar hiss and crackle of fireworks. She looked
at her watch. It would be New Year’s Day in just over thirty minutes, and what
was she doing to celebrate? Here she was, stuck at home, with only her books
and her cat for company, while Harry was with Ron and Ginny at The Burrow. They
were probably getting ready to enjoy a garden display of Fred and George’s
fireworks right now, clanking their butterbeers together in a toast. They
would each be wearing their Weasley jumpers, even though Mrs Weasley always
made Ron’s maroon and he hated maroon–
shook her head impatiently. This would not do. It was late and she was tired. The
Charms essay could wait till tomorrow. If she was still working when her
parents came home, they would only worry that she was studying too hard, and
then they would probably come into her room and start trying to interest her in
Jonathan Craddock again or one of the other sons of their friends they had met
at the party. And when she rebuffed their attempts at that, they would start up
asking her about school again, and then she would lose her temper and snap at
them because she did not want to talk about school.
volley of fireworks exploded above the neighbourhood. As she watched the
glittering sparks cascade across the night sky, she could not dispel the image
from her mind of Ron and Harry and Ginny, laughing together at The Burrow,
their faces lit by the bright colours from the fireworks…
hot chocolate finished, she set off upstairs again, Crookshanks at the fore
this time, and returned to her room. She was just pulling her pyjamas out from
under her pillow when she heard the sound of the front door being unlocked.
Her mother’s voice.
ran to her bedroom door, Crookshanks following.
she called, surprise and apprehension in her voice. She put her head over the
banisters at the head of the staircase. Her mother was in the hallway, peeling
off her hat and gloves.
Hermione, dear!” she answered, smiling brightly. “You must come and join
us at the Bidwells’. I won’t let you stay here and hide your pretty face away
in your books any longer! Come on, let’s get your coat!” She began rifling
through the cloakroom closet in search of Hermione’s coat.
-” Hermione began, walking down the stairs, still baffled by her mother’s
simply won’t take no for an answer!” said Mrs Granger, emerging from the closet
holding Hermione’s coat. “Here, you’ll need this. We’re all out in the garden.”
She held out the coat to her.
took the coat reluctantly. “Mum--” she attempted to protest, but her mother cut
don’t you worry about that stupid Craddock boy! He’s just an arrogant little
twit. And you know what they say – the ones that shout loudest usually have the
least to say.”
eyes met as Hermione reached the bottom of the stairs.
not bothered about Jonathan Craddock, Mum,” she said, frowning.
Granger gave her an understanding smile. “I know you’re not, dear.” She placed
a hand on her daughter’s cheek. “It’ll come right in the end,” she said, gently.
“I promise. Sometimes boys need a little longer to come around. He’ll work it
out of his system. Just give him a little time.”
stared at her mother, shocked. How did she know?
Mum! It’s so unfair!” she cried.
by her sudden outburst of emotion and the childishness of her words, Hermione
let herself be pulled into her mother’s arms.
it’s not fair, dear,” agreed Mrs Granger, touching her head to her daughter’s and
planting a kiss in her hair. “But trust me, if he’s really worthy of you, this
will work itself out. When he’s ready for you, you’ll know it. Just bide your
my time?” Hermione repeated, slightly annoyed. Was this the best advice her
mother could offer her? Surely her mother didn’t expect her to be so passive,
so pathetic? “But, Mum, I can’t just wait for him to wake up and realise
I’m – I’m -” She made a frustrated gesture with her hands.
mother smiled. “Your father had a girlfriend when I met him, you know,” she
looked at her mother warily. Where was this leading? “Did he?”
dad and I shared the same lectures, of course, both being dentistry students,”
her mother explained, “but we became really good friends playing for the
university tennis squad. We were doubles partners. Anyway, this girlfriend – her
name was Lucinda – Lucinda the Limpet, I used to call her - she was very pretty
– all blonde hair and big boobs and such – but she was completely unsuitable,
very clingy and demanding, and she didn’t enjoy any of the things your dad
liked. I could see that his heart wasn’t really in it, despite all the public
displays of affection. Don’t mention any of this to your father, will you?” she
added conspiratorially. “He’ll be so embarrassed! Anyway, I knew your father
was the one for me, and I knew he’d realise it too, given time. So -” She gave Hermione
a steely look “- I bided my time. Lucinda ran her course eventually, as I knew
she would. And a while later… well, I could tell that he was finally ready to be
with me. That was when I made my move.”
Hermione gasped, choking back a laugh. “You made the move on Dad?”
Granger laughed. “Don’t sound so surprised! Did he tell you it was him?”
I mean, I never asked, Mum,” Hermione answered, feeling a blush forming across
your instincts, Hermione,” said Mrs Granger, giving her a squeeze. “If you know
you’re right about the boy, hold on for him.”
frowned. Her instincts? Her instincts had told her that he had wanted her,
but they’d been wrong, hadn’t they? He wanted Lavender, not her;
Lavender with the blonde hair and the big boobs and the simpery, ego-stroking
platitudes… It was so confusing, how was she to make any sense of it? A surge
of frustration overwhelmed her. “He’s such an idiot!” she burst out angrily.
mother smiled and patted her shoulder. “Boys can be idiots at times. But a lot
of them do grow out of it. I’m sure Ron will too.”
gazed at her mother, stunned. “How – how did you know it was Ron?” she stammered.
“I never said …”
sweetie!” her mother answered, reaching to tuck a stray curl behind Hermione’s
ear. “I’ve always known it was Ron.”
have?” Hermione asked wonderingly.
Granger nodded, smiling fondly at her daughter. “So, come on then. Shall we go and
join your father? What do you say?”
I don’t know, Mum…”
won’t do you any good, moping about here, you know. And, as for that Jonathan
Craddock,” Mrs Granger smirked wickedly, “in my professional opinion, his
parents would have done better to have invested in some preventative
orthodontics for their son, rather than spoil him with all the latest clothes
and gadgets and a flashy car for his seventeenth.” She pulled a funny face to
mimic Jonathan Craddock’s crooked mouth.
couldn’t help but giggle at that.
on! We don’t want to miss all the fireworks!”
her better judgement, Hermione felt her reluctance give way. Her mother’s
enthusiasm was impossible to resist. She pulled on her coat and reached into
the pockets for her gloves. Her mother was already at the door.
she remembered. “Wait! I must get my wand!” She tore up the stairs, two at a
time, darted to her room and snatched the wand from her desk.
as she turned to leave her room, she caught a glimpse of her reflection in the
mirror and halted. Quickly, she cast a hair-smoothing charm and then, with
another flick of her wand, arranged her curls in a pretty half-knot at the back
of her head. Jonathan Craddock might be a twit with a mouth full of tombstones,
but she was damned if she would let him see her looking less than her best. She
ran downstairs again, and she and her mother left the house arm-in-arm.
in time!” Mr Granger greeted them, grinning brightly, as they emerged into the
Bidwells’ back garden a minute later. He bent to give Hermione a peck on her
cheek. “So glad you changed your mind,” he whispered. “Your mum was so worried
about you, all alone, shut up in your room on New Year’s Eve.”
looked down at her shoes.
on, let’s get you warmed up with some mulled wine,” said Mr Granger, steering
Hermione towards the drinks table on the patio.
have you made any New Year’s Resolutions, then?” he asked her, as he placed a
hot glass of steaming, sweet-smelling wine into her hand.
from her wine glass, she considered her father’s question. A New Year’s
Resolution… what would she change about herself or her life? It was a stupid
question: she would resolve to not care about Ron, if she could believe that
that was all there was to it. But she knew no resolution would stop her loving
him, and there was to be no respite from her heartache.
don’t know, Daddy…” she mumbled.
you could … make things up with Ron?” her father suggested tentatively.
things up…?” She stared at father, shocked. How did he know?
looked at her with an expression of sadness and concern. “Well, whatever you
two have fallen out over, Hermione, can you work it out? Forgive him? Please? I
hate to see you this unhappy.”
him? No, Daddy, I can’t!” she responded fiercely. “I can’t forgive him!
Not ever!” Tears pricked her eyes; she didn’t want him to see them. Her
hands trembled as she set her glass down on the table and turned away. She felt
him place his hands on her shoulders; he rubbed her upper arms gently in a
gesture she knew was intended to soothe her, and to apologise, but she did not
sorry, darling, I didn’t mean to upset you,” he said gently. “You and Ron have
been such good friends for so long, I’m sure this is just a temporary rift. I’m
sure that whatever has come between you will blow over soon, you’ll see.”
wish I could be so sure,” she mumbled dejectedly, swiping at her eyes. She
turned to face her father and found herself drawn into a tight hug.
did you know I’d fallen out with Ron?” she asked when he loosened his embrace.
Granger leaned back and simply raised an eyebrow in answer.
she said miserably. “That obvious, was it?”
…” her father began. “It’s only Ron you allow to really get to you,
isn’t it? Harry’s a great friend, I know, but Ron is more … important,
nodded dolefully without looking up.
Granger patted her arm gently. “Well, try not to be too hard on him, love,” he said,
giving her a squeeze. “You might find he’s suffering enough at his own hands.”
hope he is,” Hermione muttered into her father’s jumper.
Granger released her from his arms and stepped back to look into her swollen,
angry eyes. “Sometimes we can be our own worst enemies, you know,” he said
solemnly. “When he’s ready to work things out with you, Hermione, don’t punish
him. He’ll have punished himself quite enough by that point, I assure you.” He tried
to give her a smile, but the corners of his mouth only twitched into a helpless
frowned, annoyed, and pulled away. She did not want to feel sorry for Ron. He
didn’t deserve any sympathy, not from her and not from her dad. Her dad
should be on her side, she thought resentfully, not defending the boy
who had broken her heart. She wanted Ron to be suffering as much as her,
though she doubted he was. He had snogged Lavender far too often and with far
too much enthusiasm for her to be persuaded he was ‘suffering’; she, however,
had allowed herself to endure a mauling at the hands of Cormac McLaggen in an
attempt to rouse his jealousy. She gave a shudder. When it came to suffering,
she beat Ron hands down.
that instant, she understood her father’s warning. She was her own worst
enemy; she realised. Her father’s concern was for her sake, not Ron’s. She
was struck by a pang of remorse.
I - ”
a series of loud whooshes and bangs erupted from the end of the garden. Cries and
gasps of delight issued from the other guests. Silhouetted by the flashing glow
from the fireworks, people embraced and kissed to greet the New Year. Hermione
watched in silence. Jonathan Craddock, his chinless profile easily
distinguishable in the shadows, stood a few feet from her, wrapped around some
girl. She saw her parents too, arm in arm, lost to the happy moment. As the
fireworks exploded jubilantly above their heads, sending showers of coloured
flares earthwards, a chorus of excited ooohs and aaahhs arose from the spectators,
but Hermione felt only numb with misery. She had never felt more alone.
she was engulfed in a hug, her face pressed into her mother’s bushy hair.
New Year, darling!”
patted her mother’s back. “Happy New Year, Mum,” she returned with her best
attempt at cheeriness.
father stood beside her. “Here, your drink, Hermione,” he said, nudging her
hand with the mulled wine she had abandoned earlier. “Let’s drink a toast,
shall we?” he said jovially, handing his wife a glass of what looked like
champagne. “Farewell, 1996! You were good to us, Hermione’s fantastic OWLs
scores - ” He made a little bow to his daughter “ - and, er, surviving that
thing at the, er …well, surviving another year at Hogwarts.” He gave a chuckle,
but Hermione saw him exchange a nervous glance with her mother. “So here’s to the
new year, 1997! May it bring us much happiness, peace and success in all our
endeavours!” They clinked their glasses together. “And here’s to Hermione and
her friends surviving another year of school!” Mr Granger added, tipping Hermione
a wink. In spite of herself, she laughed, rolling her eyes and shaking her
head in mock reproach. Her father grinned.
she stood between her parents, watching the array of brilliant, glittering lights
bursting across the night sky, she allowed herself to absorb a little of their
happiness. She felt her mum wrap an arm around her waist, felt her father’s
solid presence on her other side, his hand on her shoulder, and at the same
time some of the heaviness in her heart subsided.
* * *
on New Years’ Day, Hermione finally climbed into bed. As she tucked her wand
under her pillow and laid her head down, she turned her mind to her parents’
she just meekly ‘bide her time’ as he mother had advised her? Could she ‘hold
on’ for Ron? Just wait for him to tire of Lavender? And supposing he did, was
she just to forget all the hurt and the humiliation he had inflicted on her?
Was she simply to forgive him? Decide that he’d suffered enough? Of course
she couldn’t! What kind of daughter did they think they had raised, she
some good had been gained from this evening, she admitted to herself. Her
parents’ advice might be useless, but she had made them both so happy by
joining them to see the New Year in. She felt relief too, now that they knew
about her troubles with Ron. No more awkward questions, no more secrets, no
more false cheerfulness and no more feeling guilty. Perhaps in the few days
remaining of the Christmas holidays, she would not need to hide away in her
room quite so much. Maybe that was the best result she could hope for from
talking to her parents, and if so, she was satisfied.
felt a soft weight land on her feet. Crookshanks. Peeking over her
duvet, she saw his fluffy outline in the darkness of her room.
turned over and fell into a fitful sleep, plagued by unpleasant dreams …
Lavender with big bunny-teeth, and bunny ears and whiskers, and Ron in his
dress robes, twirling Lavender about the common room, and everybody, including
Harry, telling her what a lovely couple they made … and somehow Cormac McLaggen
invaded the dream, chasing her about the common room on his broomstick, while
Ron and Lavender watched and laughed…
So, another New Years’ Eve story! I’m not obsessed with NYE, I promise. I
felt so sorry for Hermione at this stage of the book, I wanted her to have some
consolation when she went home to her parents. But she’s proud, and quite a
private person, I suspect, so I imagined that she would have found it difficult
to admit to her parents the way she felt for the boy she had previously talked
about to them as one of her two best friends. However, we know they’d have
guessed long ago the way that one was headed, just like we all