The Sugar Quill
Author: Helen H (Professors' Bookshelf)  Story: Hermione at Home  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.

Since there's already a holiday-themed thread on the Pensieve, how about a challenge that takes place around New Year's Eve/Da


A/N 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


By HelenH


Set during Hermione’s sixth-year (HBP)




“Are you sure we can’t persuade you to join us, darling?”


Hermione Granger looked up from her desk to see her father hovering awkwardly in the doorway to her room. She smiled.


“No, 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.


“You--you 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--””


Restraining her feelings of impatience, Hermione put her quill down and turned to offer her father a pitying smile.


Mr 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…?”


Hermione 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.”


Mr Granger sighed, defeated. “Well, if you’re quite sure, dear….”


“I am, Daddy,” she answered distractedly, her attention already lost to Human Transfiguration, A Beginners Course for Non-Metamorphmagi, by Arethusa Torrent.


“Well, goodnight then, darling. Don’t study too hard….”


She 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.


She 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. 


Of 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 stupid Prince.


And 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.


But there, 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?


Sighing grimly, she re-focussed her concentration on her Transfiguration essay.


*          *          *


An 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?


To which she had added:


Honestly, 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.


And he had replied:


Why would I want to listen to that greasy git when you can explain it to me so much better, Hermione?


He 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.


As 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!


With 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.


But her treacherous heart would not let her go so easily, and she soon found her thoughts straying back to Ron…


What 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 …


“Oh, Crookshanks!” she groaned, flopping back against her duvet.


She 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.


In 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. 


As 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.


She 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.


She 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.


One 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.


She 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 legs.


From 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–


She 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.


Another 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…


Her 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.


“Hermione?” Her mother’s voice.


She ran to her bedroom door, Crookshanks following.


“Mum?” 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.


“Oh, 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.


“Mum -” Hermione began, walking down the stairs, still baffled by her mother’s sudden return.


“I 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.


Hermione took the coat reluctantly. “Mum--” she attempted to protest, but her mother cut her short.


“Oh, 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.”  


Their eyes met as Hermione reached the bottom of the stairs. 


“I’m not bothered about Jonathan Craddock, Mum,” she said, frowning.


Mrs 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.”


Hermione stared at her mother, shocked. How did she know?


“Oh, Mum! It’s so unfair!” she cried.


Embarrassed by her sudden outburst of emotion and the childishness of her words, Hermione let herself be pulled into her mother’s arms.


“No, 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 time.”


“Bide 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.


Her mother smiled. “Your father had a girlfriend when I met him, you know,” she said.


Hermione looked at her mother warily. Where was this leading? “Did he?”


“Your 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.”


You?” Hermione gasped, choking back a laugh. “You made the move on Dad?”


Mrs Granger laughed. “Don’t sound so surprised! Did he tell you it was him?”


“No! I mean, I never asked, Mum,” Hermione answered, feeling a blush forming across her face.


“Trust your instincts, Hermione,” said Mrs Granger, giving her a squeeze. “If you know you’re right about the boy, hold on for him.”


Hermione 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.


Her 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.”


Hermione gazed at her mother, stunned. “How – how did you know it was Ron?” she stammered. “I never said …”


“Oh, sweetie!” her mother answered, reaching to tuck a stray curl behind Hermione’s ear. “I’ve always known it was Ron.”


“You have?” Hermione asked wonderingly.


Mrs Granger nodded, smiling fondly at her daughter. “So, come on then. Shall we go and join your father? What do you say?”


“Oh, I don’t know, Mum…”


“It 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.


Hermione couldn’t help but giggle at that.


“Come on! We don’t want to miss all the fireworks!” 


Despite 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.


Suddenly 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.


Just 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.


“Just 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.” 


Hermione looked down at her shoes.


“Come on, let’s get you warmed up with some mulled wine,” said Mr Granger, steering Hermione towards the drinks table on the patio.


“So, 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.


Sipping 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.


“I don’t know, Daddy…” she mumbled.


“Perhaps you could … make things up with Ron?” her father suggested tentatively.


“Make things up…?” She stared at father, shocked. How did he know?


He 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.”


“Forgive 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 turn around.


“I’m 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.”


“I 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.


“How did you know I’d fallen out with Ron?” she asked when he loosened his embrace.


Mr Granger leaned back and simply raised an eyebrow in answer.


“Oh,” she said miserably. “That obvious, was it?”


“Well …” 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, isn’t he?”


Hermione nodded dolefully without looking up.


Mr 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.”


“I hope he is,” Hermione muttered into her father’s jumper.


Mr 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 grimace.


She 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.


In 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.


“Daddy, I - ”


Suddenly, 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.


Suddenly, she was engulfed in a hug, her face pressed into her mother’s bushy hair. 


“Happy New Year, darling!”


Hermione patted her mother’s back. “Happy New Year, Mum,” she returned with her best attempt at cheeriness.


Her 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.


As 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. 



*          *          *


Early 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’ words earlier.


Could 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 scoffed.


But 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.


She felt a soft weight land on her feet. Crookshanks. Peeking over her duvet, she saw his fluffy outline in the darkness of her room.


She 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…



A/N 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 did ;)


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