A/N: You know, when I started this story, my
intention was simply to give a little indication of what a difficult experience
it must have been like for Hermione to send her parents to Australia. I didn’t think it could be really complicated. How naïve. HelenH, my
beta extraordinaire, took this story and performed a miracle in helping me to
do something with the gigantic loopholes that Jo left ;)
Also: a few readers said that Ron’s Preparations
ended abruptly and asked if there is supposed to be more to follow. I should
have explained earlier but I forgot: there is more, but not in the form of a
conventional chaptered story. I’m planning a series of missing moments that
build off each other, so I’ll make references to earlier missing moments in
later stories (even though they can be read separately). So I hope you will
feel that the abrupt ending in Ron’s Preparations is resolved, not in
this story, but the one that I post after it.
This leads me to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone at
the Quill who has reviewed my stories so far and provided a warm, encouraging
environment for a new author. It is very much appreciated!
Disclaimer: All Jo’s, of course. I just frolic in
her world for a bit.
“Hermione? Hermione. Hermione, dear? You’ve barely
touched your food. Aren’t you feeling well?”
“What?” Hermione’s head snapped up from her plate. “Oh,
yes Mum, I’m fine.” Not true, she thought. “Really, I guess I just wore
myself out today. I – erm – went into town and did a lot of walking.”
Mrs. Granger gave her daughter a slightly suspicious look,
followed by a pointed glance at her husband, and then returned to her food.
Mr. Granger cleared his throat.
“You got into town? Without a car?” Mr. Granger looked
confused and then his face brightened. “Oh, is this that Appa – , Appear – ” He
waved his fork in the air impatiently. “That thing where you pop about from
place to place? Fascinating. Damn convenient, too.”
“It’s called Apparition, I believe,” Mrs. Granger said with
a mildly exasperated glance that meant Don’t curse, dear. She turned
her attention to her daughter, who was not following the conversation but
rather was shifting the greens about on her plate in a somewhat listless manner.
From far away, Hermione heard her name being called again.
“Hermione? Is that what it’s called?”
“What?” Her head snapped up again. “Oh – yes. I
Apparated. I got my license in April.”
“Oh!” Mr. Granger looked slightly taken aback. The smile
on her father’s face looked a bit forced as he continued. “Well, that’s –
that’s wonderful. I say, then, I won’t need to teach you how to drive now,
will I! Good thing too, the way people can be on the roads these days.” Hermione’s
father seemed to be lost in thought for a moment but then he smiled again. “And
speaking of driving!” Mr. Granger leaned forward, looking genuinely excited.
“Hermione, what do you say we go down to the coast for a few days – say, leave
tomorrow and come back Wednesday? It’s only a few hours away, and we haven’t
been down since before you started at Hogwarts, your mother and I just…thought
it might…Hermione?” He paused uncertainly as his daughter’s eyes had
unexpectedly filled with tears.
A trip to the coast? she thought despairingly. It
was not unusual for her family to go on holiday but normally, it was planned
meticulously (by her mother) beforehand. Hermione knew this spontaneous trip –
which would surely put her parents behind at work – was their attempt to bring her
out of the gloomy mood that she’d been in over the past few weeks. Initially,
they must have assumed that the death of her headmaster had upset her (she had
told them it was due to old age) but her sadness had not lifted at all in the
weeks she had been home; rather, it had intensified. Hermione could only
imagine how bewildered and worried her parents were. She had tried to be
cheerful and normal but it was torture for her every time she had to force a
smile on her face and say yes, of course she was fine, why wouldn’t she be?
But Hermione knew that her parents noticed when she stared off into space or
got unexpectedly emotional.
Unexpectedly emotional, like right now. Hermione felt her
throat closing up and she had to clear it before saying, “The coast? That
sounds really – really lovely, Dad.”
“Hermione, are you really alright?” asked her mother again
as she peered closely at her daughter.
“Of course, Mum, why wouldn’t I be? It’s just that – that
it’s been such a long time since we’ve been. I was just thinking about it, that’s
all.” Another lie, she thought. If there was any silver lining to this
horrible situation she was in, it was that in a few hours time, she would be
able to stop lying to her parents. Granted, it didn’t mean that she would be
telling them the truth. Maybe someday…
But Hermione couldn’t finish that thought, in part because
she did not know how long it would be before she returned home. If she did at
all. Stop it, she thought firmly. She was not going to be morbid.
This was her last night at home with her parents, and she refused to ruin it by
her moping over her vegetables. She blinked away her tears and smiled at her
“You know, Apparition really is very fascinating. I never
really went into the details of it in my letters, it’s really quite hard to
And Hermione whiled the evening away with her mother and
father, allowing herself in the lightheartedness of their conversations to
forget that it may be the last night they would have together for a long time.
That night, Hermione lay fully dressed on her bed, waiting
until she was sure that her parents were asleep. She had forbidden herself to
cry; partly for fear that her parents might hear her and come to investigate. Mostly,
however, it was because she was afraid that once she began, it was unlikely that
she would stop for quite a while and she could not afford the interruption.
Instead, she repeated a mantra in her head that distracted her enough to stem
her emotions. This is the sensible thing to do. Death Eaters could find
them. They could question them, torture them at the very least for information
about Harry. They mustn’t ever be found. I won’t let them be found.
And if I die, they’ll be better off not remembering me anyway. A deep
breath. This is the sensible thing to do…
Finally, at half past one, she crept out of bed, wand in
hand, down the hall to her parents’ bedroom. She eased the door open and in
the darkness she made out her parents’ figures under the covers, rising and
falling gently as they slept. One errant tear slipped down Hermione’s cheek as
she recalled saying goodnight to them. She had hugged each of them tightly and
kissed them, the way she would say goodbye at King’s Cross at the start of the
school year, not the way she would say goodnight at the end of an evening.
Both her mother and father had looked at her bemusedly as they hugged her back,
and her father had reminded her with a pat on her head to “Get a good night’s
sleep. We’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning.”
To which Hermione had only been able to reply shakily
“I – I love you, Dad, Mum. Sleep well.” Her mother had smiled and kissed her
on the forehead, even though the concern never really left her eyes.
Hermione now looked at her parents’ sleeping forms and
steeled herself. She knew that after this, after her meticulous planning,
there would be no turning back. Before, when it had all been in her head, it
had been easy to think about what she was planning to do in the abstract, like
an assignment to complete. But now…the idea of turning a wand on her parents,
who had been as tolerant and accommodating of magic as it was possible to be,
felt like the deepest betrayal. But Hermione could not risk her parents waking
up before she had finished her work and so she buried those feelings. Pointing
her wand at each of her parents in turn, she spoke firmly.
Her parents jerked slightly as the spell hit them and then they
stilled. Hermione gave her parents one last, desperate look and shut the door
behind her. She only had about five hours to do what needed to be done, and
the sooner she got this hell over with, the better.
Over the past few weeks, Hermione had kept very busy. She
had called the gas and electric companies, as well as the cable company, so
they would know to stop providing their services. She had also forged visas
and adjusted her parents’ passports to read the names of a fictional couple
named Wendell and Monica Wilkins, in addition to purchasing one-way plane
tickets to Australia (she had felt terribly guilty about it because she had had
to use her father’s credit card behind his back). She had also charmed their
mailbox to hold an infinite amount, feeling that was more reliable than enlisting
a nosy neighbor’s help to pick up the mail. She had also gone into town the
previous day, where she had visited the bank that her parents used. A subtle
Confundus Charm on the teller allowed him to placidly move all of her parents’
money from their account to that of Wendell and Monica Wilkins.
By far the most difficult preparations had to do with the
dental practice because she had to prepare it for closure without her parents’
awareness. Hermione had been fortunate in that Ellie, the receptionist, had
fallen ill the week before, so her parents had asked her to cover reception for
the three days Ellie would be out. (Indeed, they had been rather perplexed at
their daughter’s enthusiasm for what was normally a dull responsibility.) This
enabled her to sneak patient information from the files while her parents were
busy with patients. Each night after covering reception, having cast a
Muffliato on her bedroom, Hermione copied the printed letter that she would be
sending to her parents’ patients, apologizing for the unexpected and abrupt
closure of the practice and recommending to them Ms. Prescott on Eubarrow St. Even though she was able to use magic to copy
and seal the letters into the envelopes and address them, this took quite a
while, as her parents saw more than a thousand patients. She had posted the
letters out the day before, on Saturday, knowing that the patients would not
receive them before Monday, at which point her parents would be on a plane to Australia.
However, there were still a number of things that had had to
wait until the last minute. Hermione was fortunate in that her parents –
rather, her mother – was extremely organized, so most of what she needed to
hide or alter was located in a huge filing cabinet in her parents’ study. She now
dug through the filing cabinet. The first two drawers were devoted to tax
receipts, bills, and insurance statements. The second two were full of papers
related to the dental practice. Hermione went through all the bills to make
sure she had left nothing unpaid. Then she stepped back and opened a large bag
that she had magicked to carry immense loads (perfecting the Undetectable
Expansion Charm had been quite tricky, actually). She levitated the filing
cabinet into the air and maneuvered the bag beneath it, managing to engulf the
entire thing inside. The bag looked no different now than it did before except
for the dull clunking noise it made when she shook it.
There was also a set of antique drawers that had once
belonged to her grandmother which her father jokingly referred to as the
“family vault, because that’s where we keep our treasures.” By this, he was
referring to Hermione’s birth certificate, primary school reports (all top
marks, of course) and prizes, all her letters from Hogwarts except the first,
which resided in Hermione’s bedroom, and to Hermione’s surprise, all the teeth
she had ever lost, organized in a perfect model of a child’s jaw. Even though
Hermione felt a pang when she saw it, she could not help shaking her head in
affectionate exasperation. Her parents were such dentists. These items
were all in the first two drawers. The last drawer was for her parents’
passports, old college certificates, and prizes in dentistry (her mother did
not place much stock in that sort of thing, feeling it was too much like
bragging to display them). Hermione had removed the passports long ago,
however, to make the necessary adjustments to fit her parents’ new identities.
She put the wooden drawers in the bag as well, where they landed with an
She snuck onto her parents’ computer (her father had taught
her the basics of working a computer and luckily, he never logged out of his
email account) and she wrote an email to Ellie.
This may come as a shock to you, but we won’t be
returning to work on Monday. Actually, we’ll be leaving for Australia on an extended holiday and I can’t honestly tell you when to expect us back. We know this
is very abrupt, and we apologize for that. I’ve mailed you a cheque which has
two months-worth pay and an additional bonus for the trouble we’ll be putting
you through. We’ve also included a letter of recommendation for you. You’ve
been so good to us, and we’ll make sure to contact you straightaway when we
return, in case you would be willing to come back to work for us.
Hermione signed the letter from her parents and pulled out
the handwritten letter of recommendation. She transcribed it onto the computer
and printed it out, inserting it along with the aforementioned cheque into a labeled
She wrote other emails to her parents’ friends and her
father’s brother in France. She had always wanted a big family but now at
least, it was convenient that both her parents’ families were very small.
Nevertheless, the entire process took the better part of an hour. She had to be
careful to keep the emails deliberately vague while putting in enough details
to make it sound believable. When she was done, she sighed. That had been the
Then Hermione combed the house, removing any framed
photographs on the walls that had her in it and putting them in the bag, where
they too landed with an echoing thud. Her first day of nursery school, thud.
The three of them in France outside the Louvre, thud. The family trip
to the coast the summer before Hogwarts, thud. The family photo albums,
thud. Her ribbons for winning top student of her class all through
Muggle primary school, thud thud thud. She worked quickly and methodically,
as if doing so would lessen the sharpness of the pain. But each thud of the
pictures in the bag was like a razor-sharp jab in her heart, and the bare walls
only seemed to reflect how empty she felt inside.
Hermione went last to her room. There were scrawls on the
bottom of the wall nearest the door where Hermione had written out the alphabet,
perfectly penned, at the age of two and a half. She cleaned the wall with her
wand. There were pictures of her, Ron, and Harry, and another of her and
Ginny, on her bedside table. Her first-year Hogwarts letter was framed on her
wall, children’s books on her shelf. All of them went into the bag. Hermione
remade her bed and transfigured a pen holder into a vase full of dried
flowers. Her Hogwarts trunk was packed and she dragged it from the room into
the hall. One last sweeping glance into her bedroom revealed nothing more than
a bed, a desk and dresser, and a vase full of flowers. She waved her wand and
a light layer of dust sprinkled on the desk. Indeed, it passed for a perfectly
pleasant and rarely used guest bedroom.
She made her way to her parents’ room, stopping first at the
hall closet where her parents kept the suitcases. Upon entering the bedroom,
she made her way directly to the dresser drawers, making sure not to look at
the prone figures of her parents. Though she packed quickly, she made sure to
remember her mother’s favorite scarf and the beaten up old cap that her father
refused to get rid of. She wondered briefly if they would still have the same
attachment to those items when they awoke. She was so focused that she almost
did not notice the photograph on the dresser of the three of them, taken the
summer after her second year. It was small, the only wizarding photo in the
house that was not in her room. Heart pounding over the potential disaster the
photograph could have caused, Hermione grabbed it and quickly stuck it in her
pocket. She could not bear to look at it just then. She finished packing,
used a Weighing Charm to make sure the suitcases were not over the limit, and
placed her parents’ passports, visas, and plane tickets on top, where they
would be sure to see them.
She checked her watch and found that it was almost six. Still
averting her eyes from her parents, Hermione left quickly and went into the kitchen
where she called a taxi cab to pick up Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins at seven thirty
Hermione went down to the basement, where her Mum and Dad
stored most of their unused furniture and several old mementos in boxes.
Focusing intently, she created an illusion on one side of the basement which
made the wall appear to extend much farther than it actually did, and shoved
the now rattling bag and all the boxes past the illusion, safely stowing them
away from her parents’ sight, should they ever come down here. This took quite
a while, even with magic, because the charm she used to create the wall was a difficult
one to manage. At half past six, she went back upstairs, wracking her brain
for more to do. She double- and triple-checked the walls, the shelves, the
closets, the filing cabinets, for any indications that she had ever lived here,
much less a couple by the name of Granger. Finally, convinced that she had
erased all evidence of her existence from her parents’ lives, she dragged her
trunk down the steps and out the front door and then slowly, painfully, made
her way back up the steps and down the hall to her parents’ bedroom.
Looking at her parents, Hermione felt the first shudder of a
sob come on and she rushed to them, kissing her mother and father each several
times, tears streaming down her face and whispering goodbyes that they could
She wiped the tears from her face and stepped away from her
parents. The Confundus Charm would have to go first, a stronger one than she
had ever cast before. It would act to jumble her parents’ memories, creating
space for her to implant false memories with a second charm, Reproba
Recordatium, the most potent memory charm ever developed that could be safely
Concentrating harder than she ever had, she aimed her wand
at each of her parents and spoke “Confundo.”
Hermione bit her lip now, thinking of the second spell she
had to perform. She closed her eyes and recalled the backstory that she had
created for her parents. She spoke it aloud, like a chant, six times. After
each rendition, she spoke the words Reproba Recordatio Permaximum. The
seventh time, she raised her wand arm, which had become tingly to the point of
numbness, and pointed it at her parents as she spoke the words a final time.
Yellow light shot forth and encased her parents, illuminating them for several
long moments before it seeped into them. When this was finished, Hermione
stood there swaying a bit. She felt drained. She also found that at some
point when she was chanting, she must have begun to cry again because there
were tears coursing down her cheeks.
She tripped on the rug as she backed out of the room. In
the doorway, she pointed her wand at her parents once again – they had now
become two dark blurs to her through her tears – and choked out “Ennervate.”
As they began to stir, Hermione left the room, leaving only a crack open in the
doorway to stop and listen. She heard her mother’s yawn first, and then her
“Get up, dear. The cab should be coming in less than an
hour, we mustn’t be late.”
“Wendell.” Even though her mother’s exasperated tone
was familiar, the false name was not. Hermione felt a more bitter homesickness
than she had ever experienced at Hogwarts. Her parents were right in the next
room but already, it felt as if they were separated by an ocean.
Unable to take any more, Hermione ran down the hall as
quietly as she could and out the front door, where she grabbed her trunk, eyes
streaming, and dragged it down the street to the end of the road. There,
exhausted more by emotion than exertion, she stopped, sank onto her trunk, and
Unaware of how much time had passed while she sobbed, she
glanced up only when she heard a front door open down the street. It was her
father, coming out to get the paper. He spotted her before she could hide but
she was far enough away that although he could make her out, he could not see
that she had tears tracking down her cheeks. Thus, when he did spot her, he
only looked confused as to why there was a girl sitting on a strange box by
herself so early in the morning. After pausing, he picked up his paper, gave a
general, good natured sort of wave and walked back inside the house, closing
the door firmly behind him.
Hermione gave a ragged breath and stared at the door, hoping
irrationally that it would burst open and her father would remerge and call for
her. She sat there for a few foolish moments before she shook her head hard
and forced herself to pull her thoughts together. She was thoughtless, sitting
out in the open where anyone could see her. She did not want her parents to
have any recollection of her at all, whether or not they even knew who she
was. Hermione dragged her trunk behind a tall hedge but her jeans snagged on a
branch and something fell out of her pocket: the photograph from her parents’
room. Feeling her lip begin to tremble again, she shoved it roughly back into
her pocket and faced her home to stand sentinel. At seven thirty, a cab drove
up and honked its horn. Her parents stepped outside, locked the front door
behind them, and helped the driver put their luggage in the boot. And then
they got into the backseat and drove off. Hermione watched them until they
were out of sight.
Grasping the handle of her trunk and closing her eyes,
Hermione thought of the place that, for now at least, she would have to think
of as home. She pictured in her mind the tall redhead she knew would be
waiting for her on a hill overlooking the Burrow.
With a Pop! Hermione Disapparated.