Hermione Granger surveyed her room one last time, nodded to herself,
and shut her trunk. It was a week before the new term at Hogwarts was
to start and she was both excited and worried about going back to school.
She loved school, she really did. She loved the wonder of discovering
and learning new things. It was like a thirst for water, continuous and
necessary to her. She also loved being with her friends and other wizarding
people who understood her so much better than her few Muggle acquaintances.
She would miss her parents of course, but her sense of belonging was at
The worrying came from many different avenues. Voldemort was rising once
again and the death of a Hogwarts student had only been the beginning
of his new reign of terror. Once again, the Dark Mark could be found glittering
sickly in the nighttime sky on a regular basis. The followers of Voldemort
were scuttling out of dark corners to rejoin him, and as they once again
donned the robes of the Death Eaters, the death toll in the wizarding
community started to climb.
Because of Cedric Diggory's death last year on the grounds of Hogwarts,
Hermione's parents had been reluctant to let their daughter go back to
the school. It had taken much pleading (and in the case of her father,
logical debate), to get them to relent to her desire to go back. She had
to go back. She needed to be with her friends. Harry, who was like a brother
to her, was a magnet for trouble, and Ron was
Well, that was a sticky subject.
She, Ron and Harry had been inseparable since their first year together.
They had had a few ups and downs over time, but had always rallied together.
They counted on and trusted each other implicitly. Last year however,
things had started to change between her and Ron and Hermione didn't know
how or why it had happened. Getting into minor verbal skirmishes with
Ron was normal and could even be fun. Hermione had instigated several
herself over the past few years, but where before there had been only
friendship and teasing behind the arguments, there was now a strange tension
between them that more often then not ended in a vicious row. She didn't
like arguing with Ron all the time, she really didn't. Oftentimes,
she was surprised at the words that came out of her own mouth when she
was yelling at him. He seemed to have acquired the ability to make her
angrier than anybody she'd ever met, and it confused and saddened her
because he was one of her best friends.
Sighing, Hermione flopped down on her bed and stared blindly at the ceiling.
They had all written to each other this summer as they had promised, but
it seemed like letters she and Ron had exchanged went from sarcastic to
hostile and finally to a cold formality that made her want to scream.
Why did he have to bring up Viktor Krum in every other line? It
seemed like he thought she was betraying him and Harry for associating
with the famous Quidditch player. That was stupid really, since Ron himself
had been a big fan of Viktor's and had even asked for his autograph right
before they all left last year. She had a sneaking suspicion that he was
jealous, but most of the time, she didn't know what to think. Hermione
sat up as she mulled it over but then crossed her arms and shook her head.
'He couldn't be that jealous', she thought with disgust. 'He forgets
I'm a girl most of the time!' Still.. She remembered the look on his face
last winter when he had first caught sight of her at the Yule Ball. His
eyes had widened and it seemed like he couldn't stop staring at her. It
had made her blush but something warm had sparked inside her as she realized
that he thought she looked pretty. Hermione drew her legs up and thought
about that for a moment. She remembered the way he acted when he saw her
and Viktor together and the startling anger that he had shown to
his one-time hero. The anger hadn't abated and it still popped up in his
letters. Ron hadn't even written to her for three weeks after she and
her parents had gone to Bulgaria to visit Viktor and his parents. That
had hurt, but she kept on writing to him until she had received an annoyingly
formal reply. Viktor really was a nice boy, but they had so little in
common. Not that she and Ron really had that much in common either, but
they seemed to compliment each other in a way that she didn't realize
until she was away from him for any length of time.
Hermione knew she could be uptight and driven. She came by it honestly.
Lindsey Granger had been just as driven to learn and succeed as her daughter
and was quite proud that Hermione had inherited the trait. She also knew
that even though Ron griped about it, he appreciated having her as a reference
for this and that. Her research skills had come in handy more than once
in the past four years! The thing was that Ron also seemed to know when
to pull her back from her books and learning. He was the one who would
remind her to take a break, sometimes forcibly pulling a book from her
hands and wheedling her into some mischief out in the fresh air and sunshine.
She shook her head and sighed. She couldn't imagine not having him as
a friend but she didn't know how to proceed with him. She had always liked
him but now that like was turning into something more.
A knock sounded on her door, bringing her out of her reverie.
Lindsay Granger stepped into the room and surveyed her daughter's packed
trunk and tidy room. "Ready to go, darling?"
Hermione nodded, but then paused. "Mum?"
Fidgeting with the ribbon on her comforter, she looked up at her mother
uncertainly, but then plunged on. "How do you know if a boy
Her mother looked startled for a minute, but then smiled at her. "Well,
it's starting for you, is it?" She sighed and sat down on the bed
next to her daughter, "If I remember correctly, I asked my mother
the same question at about your age."
Hermione's eyes widened, "You did?" She leaned closer.
"Who was he?"
Her mother's smile became a grin, "Your father as a matter of fact."
Lindsay shook her head and laughed at the memories.
Hermione was astonished. "Dad!? But I thought you hit it off right
away. Didn't you tell me that's why you got married so young? You told
me that you and he dated all though high school."
Lindsay nodded. "We did date though most of high school but we started
off as friends. As we got older, our emotions started changing, and quite
honestly, for a while, we didn't know what to make of the other. We were
always arguing over one silly thing or another. Our friends still like
to remind us just how entertaining we were."
Hermione looked at her mother, nonplussed. "So what happened?"
"Well," her mother replied, "we had just had another flaming
row about something really stupid and I stormed off. I wasn't watching
where I was going in the parking lot of the school and managed to get
hit by an oncoming car."
Hermione gasped. "You were hit?! How badly were you hurt?"
Lindsay grimaced. "Two broken ribs, a concussion and too many bruises
to count. The next thing I remember was waking up in the hospital room
with your father asleep in the chair next to me, holding my hand."
She shook her head and smiled mistily at her daughter. "He refused
to leave my side. George put up such a fuss when the nurses tried to get
him to leave that your grandmother had to step in and assure them that
it was alright for him to stay with me."
"That was nice of Grandma," Hermione smiled. "She must
have really liked dad, even then."
Lindsay nodded, "she did like him quite a bit." She stroked
her daughter's hair for a moment. "I think that you get some of your
magic from her. She was always such a wise and intuitive person."
Hermione nodded, having long since come to the same conclusion. "Then
"He stayed with me all day and waited patiently for the doctors
and family to finish checking in on me, and then when we were finally
alone, he took my hand and told me that he loved me."
Hermione looked startled. "Just like that?"
Lindsay smiled and wrapped her arms around Hermione. "Just like
that. He felt that it was his fault I got hit and it devastated him. He
once told me that the accident was the worst wake up call he was ever
glad to get."
Hermione grinned. "That sounds like Dad."
Lindsay wrinkled her nose and nodded. "After that, we were inseparable.
We dated through the rest of high school and got married right after."
She looked at her daughter questioningly. "So who is this young man
that hasn't realized what a treasure my daughter is?"
Hermione blushed. "He's a friend from school."
Lindsay looked surprised. "Harry Potter?"
Hermione looked startled and then laughed. "No, not Harry."
"Hmm, then I guess that would leave the rather charming Mr. Weasley,
whom I occasionally hear you ranting about."
"Ranting! I don't
" Lindsay raised an eyebrow at her.
"Well, okay, so sometimes I rant about him, but he can be so dratted
annoying. He didn't ask me to go to the Yule ball until I was a last resort,
and lately, we do nothing but fight with each other over the most stupid
Lindsay fought back a smile. "Sounds familiar, doesn't it?"
Hermione sighed with frustration. "But how do I know if he really
Lindsay considered her daughter for a moment and then asked, "does
he look after you?"
Hermione nodded slowly. "He doesn't let me work myself too hard
and drags me outside with Harry every now and again even if I am
in the middle of a project."
Lindsay grinned at this. "Does he mind if you spend time with other
boys?" She smiled slyly down at Hermione. "For instance a certain
famous Quidditch player?"
Hermione rolled her eyes. "Yes, he minds! He's been driving me nuts
over the fact that we went to visit Viktor and his family this summer.
I was wondering if he could be.." She bit her lip nervously and looked
at her mother. "He's jealous - isn't he?"
Lindsay nodded with a smile. "Pea green, I would say."
Hermione stood up and started to pace her room, then turned to her mother.
"What should I do?"
Lindsay looked at her daughter consideringly "You're going to the
Burrow this afternoon, and you'll be around Ron for a week before school
starts. Why don't you start with something simple?"
Hermione looked perplexed. "Like what?"
"How about, "Hello, Ron, I missed you?"
Hermione gasped. "I can't just say that!"
Lindsay just smiled and shook her head. "It has to start somewhere,
darling, and boys are notoriously slow on the uptake. Just tell him that
and see how he reacts. Let him know he's important to you without being
too obvious about it."
Hermione chewed on her lip thoughtfully. "I suppose I could try
it. To be honest, anything would be an improvement at this point."
Lindsay stood up and gathered her daughter close. "Just remember,
if he does realize and come to appreciate what a wonderful girl you are,
he should treat you with respect at all times." She pulled away a
bit and looked down on Hermione. "You do remember our talk from a
few months ago?"
Blushing, Hermione nodded "I'm definitely not ready for that
Lindsay laughed. "Just remember you said that, a few months from
She hugged her tightly. "Oh, I can't believe that my little girl
is growing up so fast. It seems like just yesterday you were learning
to ride your first bike, and now look at you." She turned Hermione
around to face the full-length mirror on her wardrobe wall. "You've
grown up so much this summer, and I mean more than up here," she
said, putting a hand on her daughter's head. "You've become a beautiful
Hermione glowed up at her mother. "You really think so, Mum? I mean
Lindsay met her daughter's eyes in the mirror and hugged her tighter.
"I mean really." Then she smiled mischievously. "You, my
girl, are going to knock Ron Weasley's socks off. If I do say so myself."
Hermione glanced at herself in the mirror and then really looked at herself.
She realized how much she had grown this summer. She hadn't gained
much in height (Ron would probably tower over her by now), but she had
developed very feminine curves over the past three months and she wondered
if he would notice. Part of her almost worried that he would notice. She
was afraid that their relationship would never be the same again.
Seeing her hesitation, Lindsay smiled gently at her. "It's scary,
isn't it? So much is changing in your life right now."
Hermione took a deep breath and looked at her mother. "I don't want
to lose his friendship Mum, I couldn't bear it."
Lindsay shook her head. "I don't think you could lose Ron's
friendship. You have too strong of a foundation with him. Your relationship
will change and it won't always be smooth sailing, but," she
paused and gently brushed a strand of hair from her daughter's forehead.
"The important things in life are worth working for. Worth fighting
for." Lindsay grinned down at her daughter. "You use this principal
so well with your studies, darling. Why don't you try applying it to a
certain, handsome redhead?"
Hermione thought about that for a moment and then an answering grin slowly
spread across her face. "You know Mum, you're absolutely brilliant."
The grin turned mischievous. "I suppose I could put a bit of effort
into this to make it turn out right then, couldn't I?" Hermione paused,
then shook her head and laughed at herself. "Now all I have to do
is figure out what 'right' is."
Winking conspiratively at her daughter, Lindsay whispered. "Somehow,
darling, I think you'll figure it out."
Hermione gathered her courage about her and squared her shoulders. "I
think I'm ready."
Lindsay smiled at her and dropped a kiss on her cheek. "I think
you're ready as well." She took her hand and headed for the door.
"Shall we then?"
Hermione nodded and let her mother lead her out the door and towards