The Real Magic by goldensnidget92
Past Featured StorySummary: This is a story about a love of books. It is a story about a boy and a girl united by this love.


Perhaps there's a reason why Hermione Granger values frienship so strongly. Perhaps there's a reason why Hogwarts: A History means so much to her. And perhaps there's more to her life before Hogwarts than we have been told.


This is her story.

This story was nominated for a Quicksilver Quill Award 2012: Best General Story!

Categories: General Fics Characters: None
Warnings: None
Challenges:
Series: None
Chapters: 5 Completed: Yes Word count: 16760 Read: 13174 Published: 12/21/11 Updated: 05/24/12
Story Notes:
–Oh, Jo. Jo, you have so many extraordinary gifts; how can you expect to lead an ordinary life? You’re ready to go out and - and find a good use for your talent. Though I don’t know what I shall do without my Jo. Go, and embrace your liberty. And see what wonderful things come of it.” - 'Good Wives', Louisa May Alcott

1. Chapter 1: Solitude and Solidarity by goldensnidget92

2. Chapter 2: Loving and Loathing by goldensnidget92

3. Chapter 3: Books and Betrayal by goldensnidget92

4. Chapter 4: Grieving and Growing by goldensnidget92

5. Chapter 5: Friends and Farewells by goldensnidget92

Chapter 1: Solitude and Solidarity by goldensnidget92


"Never did she find anything so difficult as to keep herself from losing her temper when she was suddenly disturbed while absorbed in a book. People who are fond of books know the feeling of irritation which sweeps over them at such a moment. The temptation to be unreasonable and snappish is one not easy to-”

–Hermione! It’s time to go to school”

Hermione Granger snapped her book shut, marveling at the eerily perfect timing of her mother’s hurried call from downstairs. Some people just didn’t understand that sometimes books were much more important than what was happening in real life. She placed her well-worn copy of A Little Princess on her bedside table, and left her room, holding her head high, and deciding to behave like the character in her book: dignified and graceful. She tripped over her school bag which was cluttering up the bottom of the stairs.

–Come on, Hermione, we’re going to be late, and you know I have to get to work on time today. We’ve got our new boss coming in, and you know how important that is for Mummy, don’t you?”

–Yes, Mum, I do,” Hermione said, pointedly: she had been trying to bring her parents around to the fact that she was far too grown up, at the wise old age of eleven, to call them –Mummy” and –Daddy” now, but they didn’t seem to have caught on yet.

Her mother smiled ruefully at the heavy emphasis. –Sorry, Darling, I’ll try to remember for next time.”

They hurried out of the door together, and walked the five minutes it took them to get to the small village primary school that Hermione had attended ever since she was four years old. After a quick, reassuring kiss goodbye from her mother, Hermione squared her shoulders and walked towards the loud, chattering throng of her fellow pupils, all of them talking loudly and greeting each other after spending a whole weekend apart.

Hermione walked alone into her classroom, and hung up her coat and bag on her assigned peg before heading towards her table in front of the teacher’s desk. It was a small table, room enough for two people, but only she inhabited it. Her classmates seemed to prefer to keep their distance, and generally gathered around the classroom in clusters, giggling noisily until the teacher entered the room, and they were forced to sit down in preparation for the morning register. Hermione didn’t really mind that they ignored her presence. It was much better than either of the alternatives: either that she actually try to talk to them and look like a fool because she hadn’t watched the latest episode of Grange Hill; or that they start to notice her, and undoubtedly come up with an ingenious idea for playing a –game” that usually involved some kind of dare or forfeit for Hermione. Last time they had played Truth or Dare, she had been told to pull down her skirt and run around the school playground shouting about how she wanted to kiss the headmaster. When she had refused, Lindsay Hannigan, the elected leader of the game, had actually tried to pull her skirt down for her. The next day, Lindsay had come into school wearing nothing but her jumper and underwear: she seemed to have forgotten to put on her skirt. In fact, a lot of strange things had happened to Lindsay over the years, usually after a session of tormenting Hermione. She seemed to have noticed the correlation, and that was why Lindsay and her friends no longer acknowledged Hermione’s presence.

This morning, however, Hermione was barely paying attention when the Teacher finally entered the classroom, as she had been thinking about her book. She must have read it at least ten times, and knew it inside-out, but she simply couldn’t stop. She loved the character Sara, with her boundless imagination and resolute optimism. She was such a strong girl, and Hermione aspired to be like her. She knew she was different to the other girls in her class, knew that she preferred fictional characters to real people, but she aimed to replicate the strength and tenacity of the Little Princess.

–Good morning, everyone,” the teacher called out above the noise of the classroom.

–Good morning, Miss Parr,” they chorused.

–Now, we have a new pupil coming to join our class from now on, and I want you all to make him very welcome.” As she said this, the school secretary walked through the door, with a small boy trailing along behind her. He looked very nervous, and looked around the classroom with fearful eyes. –Everyone, this is Jamie Lovell, and he’s come all the way down from the Isle of Wight!” she turned to Jamie. –I hope you’ll be happy in this class. Don’t worry, we don’t bite!” Jamie looked rather alarmed. –Why don’t you have a seat in front of me? You’ll be sitting next to Hermione. I’m sure she’ll look after you, won’t you, Hermione?”

Hermione smiled wanly. –Yes, Miss Parr.” She had often been asked to look after the new pupils - the teachers trusted her to show them around and help them out when they were just getting used to things - but sooner or later they all seemed to realise that there was something odd about that small, bookish girl, and they began to fade away, choosing instead to ingratiate themselves with the likes of Lindsay Hannigan. She gave this one a couple of weeks.

As Jamie walked over to their table, hauling along his PE kit, book-bag and coat, Hermione sighed to herself, and thought of Sara. Sara would welcome Jamie with open arms and make sure that, whether he was only temporary or not, she treated him like a close friend.

–You have to hang all your things up on a coat peg at the back of the classroom,” she said. –Then you don’t have to carry everything about with you all the time.”

The boy went red, mumbled an apology, and retreated quickly, stumbling over the hood of his coat which was dragging on the floor in front of him. He was quite sweet, really, Hermione thought; but she knew not to get too attached, as he would no doubt desert her, however apologetically, in a matter of time.

He returned to the table and sat down next to her.

–Hello! I’m Hermione Granger.”

–Jamie Lovell.”

–Where have you come from?”

–Isle of Wight.”

–Ok,” she said, wondering at the vague reply. –And where are you living now? Is it far from here?”

–Um, I’m not sure.”

–Right. Do you think you’ll like it here?”

The boy shrugged, and said nothing. Exasperated, Hermione turned to her exercise book, and began to copy down the title of their first lesson from the board. Honestly, what was the point of trying to be friendly when the boy was evidently not interested?

He spent the morning in relative silence, speaking only when necessary, and by lunchtime, Hermione had forgotten all feelings of sympathy, and was eager to leave the classroom so that she could start reading again. When the bell rang, she tidied up her books and pencils and got up, heading for the door. Jamie hurried after her, apparently unsure of what else to do. She decided that the best way to get rid of him would be to get him to follow some of the other people in her class.

–So, Jamie, are you having a school lunch, or did you bring one with you?”

–I’ve got my own.”

–Well, you see over there, where the other children are? You need to take your lunch box and follow them. People who have their own lunch eat on separate tables to those who have school lunches.”

–Don’t you have your own lunch?”

–No, I have school ones. See you after lunch.”

She strode off in the direction of the canteen, and breathed a sigh of relief at finally having some time to herself. It was strange; she couldn’t quite work out what this boy was like. One minute he seemed completely unwilling to talk to her, and the next, didn’t want to leave her side. She was quickly distracted, however, at the sight of the unappetising array of food that was available for lunch today: mashed potato from a packet, overcooked peas, and some kind of unidentifiable meat substance. Oh joy. Hermione’s parents had offered to make her lunches for her, but she knew that they were always in a rush in the mornings; so she had assured them that school lunch was perfectly adequate, and had spent her lunchtimes wolfing down the suspicious excuses for food before heading off to the school’s library.

The library had always been a place of haven for Hermione. It was considerably quieter than the rest of the school, especially at break and lunch times, and the rows and rows of neatly-shelved books whispered to her invitingly every time she walked past. By this time, she had read most of the books in there, but she enjoyed revisiting her old friends from The Wind in the Willows, The Secret Garden, and Alice in Wonderland (although, to be honest, she had never really got on with Alice ever since she had questioned the point of books without pictures). Unfortunately, the teachers seemed to have the idea that fresh air was necessary for the growth of all children, and when they found her sitting in a corner reading, they would chivvy her outside, and she would be forced to huddle against the corner of a building and wait for the blessed bell to ring to signal the return to lessons.

This year, however, Hermione was in Year 6, and that meant that she had to take a position of responsibility in the school. Most children had opted to answer the telephones at lunchtime, or keep the playground clean; but Hermione had offered her services as Librarian. It meant she had a perfectly legitimate excuse to stay inside during lunch, and make sure all the books were neat and in the right order. It was a job she relished, and she handled each book with loving hands, careful to preserve the stories that were intricately woven between the covers.

Today she headed straight over to the poetry section. It looked like one class had been learning about William Shakespeare, because all his books of plays had been scattered on the floor. She sighed disapprovingly at the mistreatment of the precious books, and set to work organising them neatly on the shelf. After a couple of minutes, she sensed that she was being watched, and turned around slowly to see Jamie standing at the entrance to the library, watching her. Stifling her frustration - she never liked being interrupted whilst doing her library work, almost as much as she disliked being interrupted reading a good book - she smiled warmly at him. –Hello, Jamie.”

–‘Hermione’. That’s from Shakespeare, isn’t it? A Winter’s Tale?”

–Oh!” Hermione was astonished: no child had ever made that connection before. –Yes, my parents named me after her.” Jamie said nothing. –Do you know the story? Have you read it?”

–My mum read it to me.”

–Oh. Has she read you any other Shakespeare plays?”

–Yes, she’s read me Romeo and Juliet, Macbeth and Much Ado About Nothing.”

–Have you read any yourself?”

–I can’t.”

–Right.” She wondered why. Shakespeare was not easy to read - she had only read A Winter’s Tale because of her namesake - but if Jamie could understand them when his mother read them to him, why could he not understand them when he read them himself? –Do you read much?”

–I can’t,” he repeated, –I’m dyslexic.”

–I see. Does your mum read you many stories, then?”

–Yes, she always reads to me.”

–And do you like it?”

–I love them,” he said, simply.

Hermione thought for a moment. Perhaps she had been wrong to judge him so quickly: he might actually be quite interesting to talk to. It was certainly impressive that he had understood Shakespeare, and maybe she would be able to help him to read. She always tried to encourage a love of books, and here she thought she had perfect raw material to develop a love that even rivaled her own.

–Do you want to be able to read, Jamie?”

–Yes, but I’m so slow my teachers always get annoyed.”

–What if I help you?”

For the first time that day, Jamie’s eyes lit up. –Do you mean that?”

–Of course I do. I never joke about reading.”

–When can we do it?” he asked eagerly.

–Well, I’m here every lunchtime, so we could do it every day. Do you want to start now?”

–Yes please!”

–Ok, what do you want to read? Has your mum ever read you Peter Pan?”

As the two sat down together in a corner, an old illustrated copy of Peter Pan lying between them, Hermione thought tentatively that perhaps she had finally found someone who was like her. It was not often that she met someone her age who she could actually hold a proper conversation with, and it was because of this that she had got so used to being alone. It wasn’t that she didn’t like other children, it was just that she felt so different from them, and if there was one thing she had learnt from her books, it was to be yourself. She had vowed many years ago to stick to this rule, even if it meant sacrificing the company of others, because she knew they would never be proper friends if they didn’t know the real her. She watched Jamie curiously as his mouth slowly formed the shapes of the words, admiring the way his hands carefully turned the delicate pages of the book. This boy seemed different. But Hermione knew, deep down, that sooner or later he would discover how strange she really was, and then he would melt into the background, just as the others did, blending into the unnoticeable fabric that made up the paper on which her own story was being told.


End Notes:
The quote right at the beginning is from 'A Little Princess' by Frances Hodgson Burnett.
Chapter 2: Loving and Loathing by goldensnidget92


Those friends thou hast, and their adoption tried,
Grapple them unto thy soul with hoops of steel. - Hamlet
, William Shakespeare


It was Wednesday morning. This was usually the worst day in the week for Hermione: exactly half way through, and not even really the weekend yet. But this morning, there was something different in the way she got dressed for school, ate breakfast, and sat down to wait for one of her busy parents to escort her in. It wasn’t that she had never looked forward to going to school - on the contrary, she loved the lessons - but she had always felt so awkward during lunch time, or when she had to do group work. There had never been anyone she could rely on to talk to. She had got used to it, of course, and had convinced herself that she preferred it this way. She always felt that the other children talked about such trivial things anyway, but she knew her parents worried. They tried their best to take it in turns to look after her, but as they both worked as dentists, they had hectically busy days; and more recently her grandmother had fallen ill, and her mother was spending more and more time looking after her. Hermione had learnt a long time ago that it would be easier for them not to have to worry about her as well, so she kept to her books, brought home perfect reports, and behaved beautifully. Despite this, it was impossible to hide the fact that she had no real friends, and that was the one thing that was out of her control.

Today, however, Hermione was definitely looking forward to going in. She pondered over exactly why. She knew they had reading time scheduled for after lunch today, and she had accordingly packed a book: Little Women (she had finished A Little Princess the night before). But there was something else that was making her contemplate the day with excitement. Of course. Lunchtime with Jamie Lovell. They were still reading Peter Pan: he hadn’t been lying, he did read slowly, but she could tell by his face that he was enjoying it. He still didn’t speak much outside of those reading sessions, but she was beginning to wonder if he were simply shy, rather than surly. Hermione herself was not shy in the slightest. She may be quiet at school, but that was just so as not to draw too much attention from Lindsay and her crowd. When she had a captive audience, she could talk for hours, and her parents had been subject to many lectures from their young daughter on long car journeys.

Her father came clattering noisily down the stairs, fastening his tie around his neck as he called back to his wife. –Yeah, I’ll take her to school today. I heard Barry say he’s got to take his son in and talk to the school about something, so he’ll be in a bit later. There won’t be such a rush to get in on time.” Hermione stood up obligingly, schoolbag in hand, and waited for her father to pull on his coat before turning to her. –Ready, Sausage?”

She pursed her lips at the epithet, wondering if either of her parents would ever remember that she was far too old for this childish name-calling business, but decided to go against her instincts and not nag him about it. Her mother had always said that the more you nag a man, the less likely he was to do what you wanted, so Hermione hoped that he would learn on his own.

They stepped outside into the frosty January morning, and their faces were immediately turned to blocks of ice by the bitter cold. –So, Hermione, how are you getting on this term? Read any more books since yesterday?”

Noting the use of her proper name and wondering if maybe he was more astute than she gave him credit for, Hermione smiled. –Well, I’m going to start a new one today in reading time.”

–Really? Which one this time?”

–Little Women.”

–But you’ve read that before!”

–I know, but I like it.”

–I’ll never understand how you and your mother can read things again and again. How’s school going?”

–Fine. I’m in charge of the library at lunch times.”

–Blimey, how can you take so many books?” he asked jokingly.

–And I’m teaching a dyslexic boy to read.”

–Oh really?” he was serious again. –That’s very nice of you. Did the teacher ask you to?”

–No, I said I’d do it myself.”

–I think that’s a really lovely thing to do, Hermione. When are you doing it?”

–Every lunchtime.”

–Ah, so you’ve got an excuse not to go outside, I see.”

–Yes, but at least I’m doing something good.”

–I know, I’m only teasing you.”

They had reached the school. Hermione gave her father a quick kiss goodbye, and walked quickly through the gates. Instead of walking straight to her classroom, however, she looked around at all the other children, trying to see if Jamie was there. After a good deal of lingering, she was surprised to find that she felt disappointed that she couldn’t see him. Resigned to spending the rest of the day alone, she entered her classroom. Maybe he was just ill, she mused, and he’d be back tomorrow. Or maybe, said a nasty voice at the back of her mind, he’s just trying to avoid you. You knew it would happen soon, and it’s your fault for starting to think of him as a friend. She couldn’t deny it. It had only been two days, and she supposed she’d just been so keen to have someone to talk to that she’d pounced on the first poor person to come her way. She should have known that he’d desert her soon enough.

The teacher entered and took the register, not seeming to notice Jamie’s absence. As she began to write the date and title on the board, however, the secretary walked through the door, again towing Jamie in behind her. He looked a little upset, but as soon as he saw Hermione, smiled and waved. Bemused, Hermione smiled tentatively back at him. Apparently he was not ill, and certainly not ashamed to be friends with her. Had no one told him yet that she was a freak, and that he shouldn’t talk to her? She greeted him as he sat down next to her, and watched as he glanced anxiously at the teacher and the secretary, who seemed to be talking about him. –What’s that about? Why were you late?”

–My dad took me in. He wanted to talk to the Headmaster.”

–What about?”

–I’m not supposed to say.”

Among the many things Hermione disapproved of, people keeping things from her rated highly on the list. She knew she was only eleven, but she still considered herself far more mature than many of her contemporaries, and therefore being kept in the dark seemed to her to be an insult to her intelligence. If it had been her parents hiding something, she would have demanded the truth, but it was very different with Jamie. Not only had she only known him for a couple of days, but he was evidently a very sensitive boy, and rarely spoke about anything but reading and books. He had only mentioned his mother because she read to him, and he had not once mentioned his father before today. Come to think of it, she still didn’t really know anything about his life before he had moved here. She decided to ignore this conundrum for the time being, hoping that he would come to tell her of his own accord, and changed the subject. –Are you ready for more Peter Pan today? We’re getting to a really good bit-”

–I can’t read with you today.”

–Oh.” Hermione could tell that she looked crestfallen. –Well, tomorrow then?”

–I can’t read with you tomorrow either. We can’t read together anymore.”

–What? Why?”

–I’m not supposed to say.”

This really didn’t make any sense. Was this what his father had come in to talk about? Why should her reading with Jamie be bad? She turned to face the front as her teacher began to talk, but she wasn’t registering the words. This was all very strange. She could only suppose that Jamie’s father wasn’t happy about the reading because of something about Jamie’s dyslexia, but surely she was only helping him get better? She gazed out of the window, watching as rain started to spatter the panes, rapidly turning into a steady stream of water that slid swiftly down the glass.

She was suddenly roused when Jamie nudged her. Miss Parr had just told them to get into groups to make a poster about their favourite books. –Can we work together?” he whispered.

–Oh, yes, of course. Sorry, I must have got distracted for a moment.”

–Doesn’t matter. So, what book shall we do it on?”

–Gosh, I don’t know. I don’t think I can even choose one favourite book! Do you have one?”

–I think mine’s The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe.”

–Oh, that’s such a good one! I really don’t like the Witch, though. You’d have thought if she had all those magic powers she could at least do some good in the world.”

–Yeah, but she’s probably my favourite ‘baddie’ of all the books I know.”

–You wait ‘till we get to Captain Hook, he - oh, sorry, I forgot.”

–It’s ok; it’s not your fault. I’m sorry; I should never have mentioned it to my dad.”

–Do you mind me asking why he’s not happy about it?”

Jamie was silent for a while, looking as though he was debating something in his mind. –He did ask me not to tell you.”

–Don’t worry about it, then, I don’t want you to get into any more trouble on my behalf.”

–No. I don’t understand why I shouldn’t say anything. Anyway, you’re helping me more than he is, so I don’t see why you shouldn’t know. You see, my Dad’s a dentist, but before that he trained to be some kind of doctor. He’s always been interested in experimental science and medicine, and when he found out I was dyslexic, he looked into loads of research projects that dealt with dyslexic children, and that tried to help them. A few months ago, he enrolled me in this programme which gave me loads of strange tests to do, but then, of course, we moved. I think he’s trying to find a continuation of that project around here, so he doesn’t want there to be any change in my dyslexia. He thinks that what you’re doing might damage me for future testing.”

–But surely if you’re enjoying it, there shouldn’t be a problem?”

–He doesn’t see it like that.”

Hermione watched as Jamie absent-mindedly ran the tip of his pencil up and down the crease of his exercise book, a tiny frown crumpling his smooth forehead. What must it be like to have a father who cares more about your scientific value than your enjoyment? Her parents might be dentists, but they certainly appreciated that there was so much more to life than science. Hang on - hadn’t Jamie said that his Dad was a dentist? Perhaps her parents knew him. –Jamie, does your Dad work here in the village?”

–Er… yes, why?”

He must be the new boss that her parents had been talking about. Maybe she could ask them about what type of person he was. She wouldn’t tell Jamie, though. She didn’t want him thinking she was checking up on him.

–Oh, just that he must work with my parents. They’re dentists too.”

**


By lunchtime, the rain had flooded the playground so efficiently that you could see the sweeping grey sky glowering back at you when you looked down at the ground, and that seemed like a good enough reason to keep the children inside for lunch. To Hermione’s dismay, this meant that a lot of people were in the library, and they were certainly not reading. She had just returned from her own deeply unsatisfying meal of overcooked peas, puff pastry and sausages, squeezed her way through the manic mass of children, and finally arrived in the library, when she saw a particularly unwelcome group of girls.

They were sitting in a circle playing Chinese Whispers, and one of them looked up as Hermione entered, a nasty grin spreading across her face. She shook back her perfect blonde hair and raised her voice. –Everyone, look. Hermione’s here!” The girls stopped their game and stared insolently at Hermione. She felt her heart beat faster, and the palms of her hands began to sweat. She decided to ignore them and walk straight over to the non-fiction section, the furthest part of the library, so as to escape their notice. It didn’t work.

–Aren’t you going to say hello, Hermione? That’s very rude of you. Do I need to tell a teacher that you’re being rude to me?”

Hermione stopped, knowing that if she carried on walking, Lindsay would only follow her. She tried to think of a witty response but, as always when Lindsay was around, she could think of nothing. –Hi,” she said, in the most spiteful tone she could muster.

–Ooh, not very happy today, are we? What happened? Did your boyfriend dump you?”

–He’s not my boyfriend.”

–Yeah, right! I bet you dream about him, don’t you, Hermy? When you’re all on your own, you dream about kissing him.” Hermione knew it was petty, but anything Lindsay Hannigan said just made her so uncomfortable and upset. There was nothing she could do to stop it. –Hermy and Jamie, kissing in a tree! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!” she sang.

–STOP IT!”

–Aw, have I upset poor Hermy? Is she going to cry?”

–What’s going on?” Jamie had just come around the corner, and evidently heard that last part of their conversation. Hermione blushed profusely, hoping desperately that he hadn’t heard Lindsay teasing her about him.

–Ooh, it’s Jamie, Hermione! Aren’t you going to say hello to Jamie?” Hermione said nothing. –I’d better warn you, Jamie, Hermione’s a bit of a freak. I don’t suppose anyone’s told you yet, or you wouldn’t still be speaking to her. She doesn’t have any friends, and no one wants to talk to her. She does strange things and sits on her own in the library every day. You don’t want to stick around her.”

–I’d rather be friends with her than be friends with you,” he said calmly. –At least she’s nice to people. At least she cares about their feelings. You don’t seem notice how very rude you are. In fact, I’d say you’re the meanest person I know.”

Hermione stared at him. No one had ever defended her against Lindsay Hannigan, ever. If she had happened to be talking to someone at the time, they always seemed to stare awkwardly at their shoes, and then melt away into the background. Despite the situation, she felt a bubble of hope rise up within her.

Lindsay, on the other hand, looked confused for a moment, as though she was still trying to register exactly what had been said. Then her expression darkened. No one ever insulted Lindsay Hannigan. –So. You think I’m a mean person. Well that’s all very sweet, but as it happens, you’re just the new boy, and you don’t know anything or anyone around here, so I can make things very, very difficult for you. What would you say if-”

She stopped suddenly, and clutched at her throat. She was moving her mouth, but no words were coming out. She began to go purple in the face as she opened her mouth as wide as she could, but to no avail. No one heard even a whisper escape from her lips. All her friends started squeaking and squawking around her, asking if she was alright. But she merely glared at Hermione.

Hermione didn’t know how to respond. This kind of thing had happened before, but she couldn’t explain it. She wasn’t even sure how she did it. One second, Lindsay would be tormenting her, and the next, something awful had happened. Hermione knew it wasn’t normal, but as Lindsay had bullied her less and less, it had stopped, and she thought it had gone completely. Apparently it hadn’t. She heard Jamie giggle next to her, and she tried to look amused too, but couldn’t quite hide her confusion and disappointment with herself. Whatever this ability was, she had to get it under control as soon as possible. She would be starting Secondary School in September, and she was determined not to stick out again. But how on earth was she supposed to rein in something that she couldn’t even tell she was doing? Starting to feel miserable for the second time that day, she went to sit down in the corner of the library.

As she sat down, Jamie plonked himself down on the floor next to her. In her self-absorbed melancholy she had forgotten about him and his defence of her.

–Are you alright?” he asked.

–Yeah, I’m ok. Thank you for sticking up for me. No one’s ever done that before.”

–It’s alright. That’s what friends do.”

Hermione smiled at his use of the word. So she hadn’t been too enthusiastic: he was actually willing to be friends with her. He knew that everyone thought her strange, that she was quiet, bossy and a bit of a know-it-all, and yet he still wanted to be friends. –Yeah,” she said quietly, –that is what they do.”
Chapter 3: Books and Betrayal by goldensnidget92
–If I had to choose between betraying my country and betraying a friend, I hope I would have the guts to betray my country” - What I Believe, EM Forster

The sound of the school bell was a source of many different emotions for Hermione. At the start of the day, it heralded the beginning of lessons, which she never failed to look forward to. As the morning melted into early afternoon, however, the ring meant lunchtime: a time for trying to avoid large groups of people, and swallowing the congealed mess of school food that had been slopped onto her plate It therefore resulted in the now familiar sensation of a sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach. However, the final bell often led to a series of mixed emotions. She was glad to go home, see her parents, and forget the pressure of mingling with other children; however she really did love learning, and couldn’t deny that there was usually a small part of her that wanted to stay on after 3 o’clock.

Today she was hit with a different set of emotions: excitement and apprehension. After school, she was going to Jamie’s house, and no doubt his father was going to be there. After Jamie had told her about his father’s vigilant concern about his son’s dyslexia two months ago, he hadn’t mentioned him once, and Hermione couldn’t stop her vivid imagination from wondering why. From what she’d heard her parents speak of him, he seemed perfectly ordinary; yet why would his son refuse to talk about him? What power could he have that appeared to strike fear into Jamie?

Jamie had invited her to his house for the first time last week, and although Hermione enjoyed spending time with him, she couldn’t help but feel a little scared at the prospect of coming face to face with this man. She had said yes, however, and now the bell was signaling the end of the day, they were packing their schoolbags, and heading out of school towards the gates where parents obligingly waited for their children. Hermione had often seen Jamie’s mum out there with the other parents, but had never really spoken to her. She wasn’t quite sure what to make of her. Mrs Lovell looked very absent-minded, with soft brown hair scrunched into a bun and secured with a paintbrush, and very loose, crumpled clothes. Jamie had once told her that she was an illustrator, and spent most of the day lost in worlds of fairytales and magic. Hermione had never been remotely artistic, preferring to keep her mind firmly in the world of fact and fiction, but as Mrs Lovell gave them a wide, welcoming smile as they approached her, and didn’t once mention fairies, princesses or warty toads, she decided to like her.

Jamie lived about a ten minute walk away from the school, and he chatted brightly to her and his mother on the journey back. He seemed so much happier away from school: not at all the timid, silent boy he was in class.

The Lovells lived in a very large house. Even though it was situated in the middle of a busy village, it had the feeling of being a farmhouse nestled in a quiet corner of the British countryside. The furnishings were big and sturdy, and looked as though they’d been there for centuries. The curtains were brightly coloured, adorned with quaint flower patterns, and in the center of the kitchen on a scrubbed wooden table sat a plate piled high with chocolate chip cookies. The smell of warm, slightly-melted chocolate wafted past Hermione, and she breathed in deeply.

–I’m afraid I overdid it a bit!” said Mrs Lovell. –It’s just so nice to have Jamie invite a friend over!”

–They look delicious, Mrs Lovell.”

–Yeah, thanks, Mum. Can we have hot chocolate, too?”

–Well, I don’t see why not. Would you like some, Hermione?”

Hermione’s eyes brightened considerably. With both her parents being dentists, she had strict guidelines as to what sugary treats she could have, and hot chocolate was definitely not on the list. But, as she was at Jamie’s house, she decided to ignore the rule.

–Oh, yes please!”

–Whipped cream and marshmallows?”

She was going to have to come here more often.

After their sumptuous snack, Hermione and Jamie left the kitchen, Hermione thanking Mrs Lovell profusely, and went upstairs to Jamie’s bedroom.

–I think my mum’s excited because I never really have many friends. Sorry if she was a bit…”

–No, it’s fine! I really liked her! My parents won’t let me eat many things that are bad for my teeth.”

–Dad’s the same. But Mum doesn’t really mind that much.”

Unless Hermione was very much mistaken, and that was a rare occurrence, this was the first time Jamie had mentioned his father in conjunction with something unrelated to his dyslexia. It made her wonder whether the ban on them reading together still remained. She hadn’t wanted to broach the subject before, because she didn’t want to upset Jamie, as evidently happened whenever his father was mentioned. But here he was bringing him up himself.

–What do you want to do?” he asked.

–I don’t know, what is there to do?”

–Er, not much. We could watch a film, or play with some lego.”

Deciding to risk making Jamie uncomfortable, she asked him. –Why don’t we read?”

She did enjoy having him as a friend, but she had absolutely loved those few days when she was helping him to read. It had made her feel like she was finally of use to someone, rather than simply tagging along. He was also the only person she could really talk to about books, and she was desperate to help him read as much as possible.

Jamie shifted in his position on the bed, looking across at a shelf of pristine books. –I suppose we could,” he said, nervously. –I don’t really know if I’m supposed to or not.”

–Well there’s not really much harm in reading one, is there? Has your dad found another research place yet?”

–No,” Jamie admitted.

–Well then, I don’t see why we shouldn’t.”

–Ok. What do you want to read?”

–I don’t mind.”

Hermione scanned the shelf, looking for an appropriate book.

–Oh, you’ve got Matilda by Roald Dahl! Can we read that one?”

–You only want to read it ‘cause you think you’re like Matilda!” cried Jamie.

Hermione blushed. She had always felt a connection between the two of them, not least because of their intelligence, but because of the strange things that she seemed to be able to do. Jamie had only been witness to that once a few months ago when Lindsay had been taunting her about fancying him, and she was pretty sure he hadn’t associated it with her. She had thought about telling him, but it just felt so private. She hadn’t even told her parents about her ‘powers’, but she thought they might have known about them anyway. –Alright, then,” she agreed, –I do. But it’s still a good book.”

The two of them sat together on the bed, reading a page aloud each, until they’d read five whole chapters. Jamie had not improved much since their short-lived sessions in January, but Hermione didn’t care. It was so lovely to have someone with her who appreciated books as much as she did. Time passed without them noticing, and soon it was getting late. A door slammed downstairs, but Hermione and Jamie were still urging Miss Honey to save Matilda from the Chokey. Heavy footsteps were thudding up the stairs, but they were still breathing sighs of relief at Matilda’s rescue. The door opened.

Mr Lovell stood in the doorway, a look of confusion, which was quickly turning to anger, on his face. Hermione felt her heart do a bungee jump within her body, dropping into her stomach, and then rocketing back up so that it pounded in her mouth. She went bright red, and pushed the book away from her, as if that would fix the damage.

–Jamie, what have I told you about reading?” Mr Lovell growled.

–I’m sorry, Dad, I didn’t think you’d mind anymore.”

–Well I do. Did I ever say that you could read with your friends again?”

–No,” Jamie mumbled.

More footsteps pounded up the stairs, and Mrs Lovell’s round face peered around her husband’s red one. –Come on, Barry, they didn’t mean any harm.”

–You don’t understand, Emma. I’m trying to get him the best scientific help there is, and he’s threatening to ruin it all.”

–I’m sure reading with Hermione Granger isn’t going to make anything worse!”

–Granger?” He whirled around to stare at Hermione. –Your parents aren’t John and Jean Granger?”

–Y-yes,” Hermione whispered, terrified of this large, angry man.

–Right. I’m going to phone them. Get them to pick you up.”

–Barry!”

–I’m sorry, Emma, but I don’t want my son to be around someone who might affect his treatment for the worse.”

–Barry, you’re being totally unreason-”

–That’s my decision!” he said firmly, turning his back to them and thudding down the stairs.

Hermione bit her lip to keep the tears from spilling down her burning cheeks. She had never meant to hurt Jamie!
–I’m so sorry, Hermione, I’ll talk to your parents,” said Mrs Lovell. –It wasn’t your fault; Jamie’s dad just worries a lot.”

Hermione nodded, but was unconvinced. She looked across at Jamie who had shrunk back into the wall. He refused to look at her.

–Come on, Jamie,” cooed his mother. –Don’t get in a sulk now. You’ve got to help Hermione pick up all her things.”

Jamie glanced at her and nodded. He shuffled off the end of his bed without looking at Hermione, and trudged downstairs. Hermione stared at the opposite wall, forcing herself not to cry. Not yet, anyway. Mrs Lovell seemed to sense her distress, however, and offered her a hand. –Come on. He’ll be alright.” She led Hermione down the stairs and back into the kitchen, where Jamie had assembled her schoolbag and coat. They sat in silence, waiting for Mrs Granger to arrive. Mr Lovell was nowhere to be seen.

*


It wasn’t until she saw her mother’s anxious face looking out of the car window that a tear slid silently down Hermione’s cheek. She held the flood in until they’d turned the corner from Jamie’s house, then she let them fall. Great salty drops left soggy streaks down her face and school jumper, and her shoulders were shaking uncontrollably as she sobbed over her own selfish act. How could she have been so horrible? She always thought that she was better than the others in her class, those who thought only of themselves, and who went out of their way to tease others. But she was no better. She had let down her best friend, when she knew that what she was doing was risky. She could never forgive herself.

Her mother said nothing, waiting for the tears to subside. –Do you want to tell me what happened?” she asked, when Hermione’s eyes had become puffy, and her sobs had quieted.

–I didn’t mean to do anything wrong,” she whispered. –I just really like reading with Jamie. I didn’t think it would matter. So we read together.”

Mrs Granger seemed confused. –Was that all?” She parked the car and got out, opened Hermione’s door, and waited for an explanation.

–Jamie’s dad doesn’t like it. Jamie did tell me, but I didn’t listen.”

As Mrs Granger walked into the house with a subdued expression, Hermione felt a fresh wave of shame engulf her. She could hardly bear to think of what she had done. And Jamie had been so quiet! She must have hurt him badly. She felt a warm, smooth mug being pressed into her hands, and automatically took a sip of its contents. Hot chocolate. Her second of the day. Her mum must understand how awful she felt.

–Hermione, are you sure that’s all you did?”

–Yes.”

–Ok. Well, I don’t see how that can be so bad as to send you home. I’ll talk to Barry tomorrow and try to understand why he was so upset. I think you should go to bed now. Don’t think about it until the morning.” She folded her arms around her daughter, and held her tight before letting her go upstairs.

Hermione lay awake for hours, worrying, worrying, worrying about tomorrow. Every time she pictured Jamie’s scared face a new stab of agony pierced her heart, and she felt tears prickle her eyes.

It was a long time before she slid into a blissful, dreamless sleep.

*


The next morning passed in an anxious flurry. Hermione had determined to apologise to Jamie the moment she saw him, and beg him to forgive her. She couldn’t stand it when someone was angry with her, but it was so much worse when it was Jamie. He was the only person who had stood up for her at school, and she had utterly betrayed him. She swore that from now on she would be loyal to any and every friend she ever had. She was anxious to get to school before him, so that he wouldn’t immediately go and sit with someone else. She waited impatiently by the door for one of her parents to take her to school, and almost dragged her father down the road, ignoring all his questions and attempts at conversation.

She kissed him goodbye at the gates, and hurried into her classroom. Good. Jamie wasn’t there yet. After hanging her coat up, she sat down at her desk and waited, her stomach feeling queasy, her whole body rigid, her teeth clenched with anxiety. Her eyes fixed on the door of the classroom. But Jamie didn’t come. The teacher came and took the register, paused at Jamie’s name, and continued. He wasn’t there.

The palms of Hermione’s hands were slick with sweat. Why hadn’t he come? Was it because of her? His father wouldn’t be punishing him because of something she forced him to do, would he? What seemed like hours later, the bell rang signaling break time, and Hermione rushed to the toilets. Tears had again been threatening to spill over, and she held them back long enough to get into the clinical silence of the girls’ bathrooms. Plonking herself down on top of a toilet seat, she wiped her runny nose as tears dripped steadily off her chin and onto her lap.

The door banged open, and she nearly groaned. Lindsay and her friends had decided now was the time visit the bathroom as well. But Hermione barely cared.

Their chattering voices stopped as Lindsay poked her head around the open toilet cubicle. –Hermione’s crying!” she shrieked, cackling in a high-pitched, demonic voice. –Why are you crying, Hermione, boyfriend dump you?” The chorus of sycophantic laughter that ensued made her come back for more. –He’s not here today, is he? Finally got sick of you? I knew he’d see sense soon. Told him he didn’t want to stick around you!”

Come on, Hermione thought to herself, make something happen! The giggles were becoming unbearable. Honestly, how were girls like this allowed to be alive? She waited for her strange powers to kick in, but nothing happened. She just sat on a toilet seat, surrounded by teasing girls, with no way of defending herself. The strange thing was, she was disappointed. She had relied on these ‘powers’ to help her in times of trouble, but here she was, being bullied, and they weren’t coming to her rescue. She knew she had always been scared of them, and had wished they would go away, but now she saw that she had come to take pride in them. They distinguished her from the others, had made her special. And now they were gone, she saw she was exactly the same as everyone else. Plain, boring, normal, and a betrayer.

The girls began to drift away when they realised they weren’t going to get a reaction out of her, and she sat alone, her mind numb with the trauma of the past few days. She couldn’t even bring herself to tidy the library.

The bell rang at the end of break, and she pulled herself up and wandered slowly back to her classroom. As she walked through the door, she saw Jamie sitting at their table. A mixture of relief, shame and anxiety fought for prominence in her mind, and she took a deep, steadying breath before walking over to him. –Hello, Jamie,” she whispered.

He didn’t reply.

She chose her words carefully, and continued. –I’m really, really sorry about last night! I should never have told you to read with me, it’s all my fault, I’m so, so sorry!” She was in such a rush to get all the words out that they began running into each other. –Pleasesaywecanstillbefriends?”

Jamie began to slowly unpack his school bag without looking at her. He took out his pencil case, his exercise book, and a Maths textbook. He unzipped the pencil case, and methodically extracted a pen, a pencil, a rubber, a ruler and a pencil sharpener. He zipped the pencil case back up, put it back in his bag, stood up, and turned to hang the bag up on his peg at the back of the classroom. Finally, he returned. It wasn’t until then that he turned to look at Hermione. –My dad wants to send me to a specialist school next year.”

There was a pause. –I don’t understand,” said Hermione. –Does that mean you won’t go to the same school as the rest of us?”

–Yes. He doesn’t think I should be friends with people like you, who obviously don’t care about my condition.”

–But it’s not a condition! It’s only dyslexia; you can get over it in a normal school!”

–Well that’s not what Dad says.”

–How does he know? It doesn’t sound to me like he understands what’s wrong with you.”

–Who are you to say that?” demanded Jamie. –You don’t know anything about my dad. If you did, you’d understand why he wants to help me so badly! But all you care about is having someone to read with! You don’t realise that maybe you’re not always right; and that sometimes even adults know better than you do!”

–Jamie, I-”

–Don’t even try saying sorry. I don’t want to be friends anymore.”

–Jamie, please!”

But the teacher walked in at that moment, and Jamie turned to face the front, edging his chair as far away as possible from Hermione’s.

Her ears rang with the accusations. Her mind reeled. He was right. She always thought of herself as so superior to everyone, when really she didn’t know anything. She was eleven years old. How was that grown up? She had made the biggest mistake of her life. The worst thing of all was that Jamie thought she had too. And he wasn’t going to forgive her. –Miss Parr,” she called out, raising her hand. –I don’t feel very well.”

–Oh really, Hermione? Ok, why don’t you go and have a lie down in the Nurse’s office. If you’re still not feeling well in half an hour we might be able to call one of your parents.”

Hermione nodded, and walked numbly out of the classroom. However, instead of turning left out of it, she turned right, heading towards the library. It was empty. She found a small, secluded corner, curled up in a ball, and began to cry.
Chapter 4: Grieving and Growing by goldensnidget92
–You need not be sorry for her. She was one of the kind that likes to grow up. In the end she grew up of her own free will a day quicker than the other girls.” - Peter Pan, JM Barrie




The summer term in any primary school is by far the best term of the year. Teachers and pupils alike seem to have finally woken up from the gloomy months of the previous term, and can almost taste the summer holidays. Rules become more lax, lessons become less taxing, and people collectively wish for that final bell that signals six whole weeks of freedom.

Not Hermione, however. Her class had to take a series of exams to show that they had not wasted the last four years of their education; and the teachers had put a lot of pressure on them to do well. Hermione wasn’t worried about the exams. In fact, she was quite enjoying them. They gave her something to focus her mind on, to distract her from the regret that had cast a shadow over her life for the last couple of months. Even though it was already the end of May, Jamie still wouldn’t forgive her. He spoke to her when he had to, and still sat at the same table, but he spent most of the time in silence.

She had apologised again and again, but she knew deep down that she didn’t deserve forgiveness. Hermione was aware that Jamie’s father had forbidden him to speak to her, but she didn’t blame him in the slightest for obeying the man. There didn’t seem to be any point in going against Mr Lovell, and Hermione was determined not to get Jamie into trouble again.

They received their exam results in the middle of June. Hermione, slightly mollified, was announced to be the first pupil in the school’s history to achieve one hundred per cent in all her subjects. But an accidental glance at Jamie’s results sheet revealed that he had not done so well, especially in Reading. Hermione wondered how his father would react.

But the days were melting into each other, and there was hardly time to think about her problems as her class began to prepare for secondary school, and bid farewell to their teachers, ready to move on.

The last day of school did not seem of much importance to Hermione. She had few fond memories of the place, except for those of the library. She hoped next year might be different, but she had already resigned herself to much of the same treatment. The difference was that she no longer cared. She felt immune to the jibes of her classmates, but then, she was immune to feelings altogether since she had betrayed her only friend.

As the final school bell rang - to cheers from the children and sighs of relief from the adults - she slowly began to pack away her things. The classroom emptied rapidly, and soon it was only her and Jamie still at their table. The silence filling the space between them grew. The longer it lasted, the harder it was to speak.

–Bye,” mumbled Jamie, slinging his bag over his shoulder and turning to go.

–Jamie-”

–I’ve got to go. Mum’s waiting.” He hurried out of the room. Hermione fastened the clasp on her satchel and headed over to her peg to pick up her PE kit. She looked around for the last time at the silent, empty classroom: it was strange with no one in it. She saw the half-pulled-out chairs, pencils that had fallen to the ground, pencil shavings that had missed the bin, and a discarded pair of broken scissors. It was as though everyone had evaporated on the spot. She wandered through the school, taking a breath before walking out of the doors, knowing that she would never come back.

She wasn’t sure how she felt. Empty? Or was she just disappointed that she didn’t feel more emotional, and was trying to make this day more special than it really was. Was there any point in feeling nostalgic? She hadn’t changed or grown up during the seconds that piercing bell had rung, signaling the end of her primary school days.

As she approached the emptying playground where parents waited to greet their children, she saw her mother talking in earnest to Jamie’s mum. She thought it strange: what did they have to say to each other? Mrs Lovell and Jamie left without seeing Hermione, and she hurried up to her mother, eager to find out what they had been talking about.

–Hermione!”

–Hello! What were you-”

–Can’t talk now, Hermione. We’ve got to get home quickly; there’s someone waiting for you.”

–What? Who?”

–I’ve never heard of her before. Funny name. Said she’s the deputy Headmistress of some school. Do you know who it could be?”

–No.”

–Are you sure your teachers haven’t spoken to you about going to a different school?”

–Yeah, I’m sure.”

–Well, your dad’s with her now. We’d better get back quickly; I think it’s quite important.”

They hurried the last five minutes home, and Hermione was pushed through the front door. She was confused. Why would someone from a school want to talk to her? She hadn’t applied anywhere else. Maybe it was something to do with her getting one hundred per cent in her exams.

She hurried into the sitting room, and stopped abruptly in the doorway. The woman perching on the very edge of an armchair, who stuck out in her strange clothes, looked exactly like one of the witches from her favourite Roald Dahl book. She wore long black clothes that hung heavily from her neat frame. What Hermione could only describe as a cloak was fastened under the woman’s neck, and her hair was pulled back into a fierce bun. Mr Granger stood up on Hermione’s approach and gestured for her to come closer. –This is Hermione, Miss - er - sorry, what was your name again?”

The woman stood up. She was very tall and thin, with a no-nonsense face. –I am Professor Minerva McGonagall, and I have come to talk to your daughter about attending my school in September. Please, sit down.” She gestured to the sofas. Mr and Mrs Granger sat down obediently, apparently oblivious to having been ordered to sit in their own home. Hermione perched on the arm of the sofa, next to her mother.

–So, what kind of school is it?” asked Mrs Granger.

–It is a school for magic.”

There was a stunned silence, then Mr Granger began to laugh. –Oh, ok, yeah. Very good. A school for magic. Did Glen put you up to this?” He continued to chuckle to himself. Hermione remained silent.

–Mr Granger, I am afraid I am not joking. I come from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, where I am Deputy Headmistress, Head of Gryffindor house, and Transfiguration teacher. I have come to talk to you about it because your daughter is a witch.”

Mr Granger’s smile faltered. Mrs Granger gasped. Hermione remained silent.

–Alright now, you’ve had your joke; very funny. But you’re taking it a little far, don’t you think?” said Mr Granger.

–On the contrary,” said Professor McGonagall, withdrawing a thin wooden stick from a fold in her clothes. –I think this would be taking it too far.”

She flicked the stick in the direction of the coffee table, inexplicably transforming into an otter, which ran over to Hermione and began to sniff her toes. Mrs Granger shrieked, and Mr Granger’s mouth hung open, his eyes wide, staring disbelievingly at the animal now clutched in his daughter’s hands. –How… how did you-”

–Magic,” said Professor McGonagall.

Hermione couldn’t explain it otherwise. She didn’t want to explain it otherwise. She looked into the otter’s eyes. This was not a trick. This was real. She stared at the strange woman standing before her. –Can you teach me how to do that?”

Professor McGonagall’s expression softened. –It will take a few years, but with hard work, yes, you’ll be able to do that.”

Hermione turned eagerly to face her mother, who was gazing at the woman dazedly. –Perhaps you'd better tell us more,” she said weakly.

Professor McGonagall resumed her seat, and began to talk, giving an explanation that sounded as though she’d given it hundreds of times before. –Unbeknownst to the majority of the population of this country, there are two separate communities: the magical community, and the non-magical community. The non-magical community - we call them Muggles - consists of people like yourselves, and occupies the larger part of the nation. However, living in relative secret is the magical community, comprised of wizards and witches. We have our own government and laws, but keep out of the way of Muggles to avoid unnecessary rifts.

–We train children from the ages of eleven to eighteen in our school, Hogwarts. It is the only wizarding school in the country, and educates young witches and wizards in subjects such as Transfiguration, Charms, Potions and Herbology."

–So is that where I’d be going?” asked Hermione.

–It is.”

Hermione looked at her parents, who were staring at Professor McGonagall, a mixture of disbelief and confusion on their faces. They didn’t look capable of speech. –Are you a witch?” whispered Hermione.

–Yes.”

–Did you go to Hogwarts too?”

–Yes. It’s been there for over a thousand years.”

–You mean there’s always been this… other community?” interjected Mr Granger, his voice slightly hoarse.

–There has. As long as there are humans, there will be witches and wizards.”

–So why don’t you show yourselves? Why hide?” he asked.

–Because there has always been a certain amount of hostility felt towards us from Muggles. The witch-burnings of the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, although largely inaccurate, certainly didn’t encourage open displays of magic. There is no way we can solve every Muggle problem, and as some would demand our help, we find it is easier to keep in hiding.”

–How many of you are there?”

–About three thousand in Britain. Numbers vary in other countries, of course.”

–But what about Hermione?” said Mrs Granger, speaking for the first time. –How can she be a witch when we’re not?”

–She is what we call a Muggle-born. Sometimes, genes are passed down through a family for generations from a witch or wizard who married a Muggle. They don’t always show themselves, and can suddenly spring up in one person. That witch or wizard is usually the first in many generations of that family.”

–So, what about this school? What kind of school is it?”

–It is quite a large school - about one thousand students attend it. However, it is a boarding school, and Miss Granger would be expected to stay there during the term time.”

–A boarding school?” Mrs Granger repeated. She cast an anxious glance at her husband, who looked troubled. –I don’t think we can afford to send Hermione to a boarding school.”

–Oh, Hogwarts is funded by the Ministry of Magic. You don’t need to worry about money.” There was a long pause. –I realise that this must come as a bit of a shock.” Her voice was gentle now, and she turned to look at Hermione. –You are the only one who will know this is true. I’m sure there are times when you did something without realising it - when you made something happen which you couldn’t understand or explain.”

Hermione knew exactly what Professor McGonagall was talking about. How could she not? It had plagued her for as long as she could remember. She nodded.

–Hermione? What do you mean? You never mentioned anything!” exclaimed her mother.

–I didn’t want to worry you.”

–What happened?” asked her father.

–It’s just… when I was upset or angry because of something Lindsay Hannigan did, something would happen to her. I didn’t know why, but I knew it came from me. But it hasn’t happened in ages!”

–It doesn’t have to,” said Professor McGonagall. –It happening even once shows that you’re capable of magic.”

Hermione bit her lip. –Will it mean I’m not very good?”

–It doesn’t mean anything of the sort. If you work hard, you will be good. Here.” She pulled out a thick envelope from another fold in her clothes, and handed it to Hermione, who opened it, and read.

Dear Miss Granger,

We are pleased to inform you that you have been accepted at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. Please find enclosed a list of all necessary books and equipment.

Term begins on September 1st.

Yours sincerely,

Minerva McGonagall,

Deputy Headmistress.


There were a few other pages enclosed with the letter. One was a list of school supplies, and another seemed to be directions on how to get to a place called Diagon Alley. The final sheet showed a ticket for a train leaving on September 1st, from Platform 9 3/4, King’s Cross Station. Hermione passed the letters to her parents.

She didn’t quite know what to think. She looked again at the woman - the woman who really was a witch. Everything she had said made perfect sense. She, Hermione, had done things which she couldn’t explain, and the otter, which had curled up in her lap and fallen asleep, was the product of something that could only be described as magic.

But she couldn’t escape the feeling that this shouldn’t be happening to her. This should happen to a character in a book, not in real life. Real life was for ignoring people who didn’t understand you, who thought you were strange; fiction was where the miracles happened. But if this was real life, then she could go to this school, Hogwarts, and she would be the same as everyone else. She tried to picture it, but found it almost impossible. Almost. There, shrouded in darkness, was a flickering light. It began to grow, and she saw herself surrounded by people, laughing and joking, turning tables into animals. She looked hopefully at Professor McGonagall. –Are there lots of people like me? Muggle-borns?”

–Yes. Few people come from all-magical families these days. We call them pure-bloods. There are half-bloods too, of course. They come from half-Muggle, half-wizarding backgrounds.”

–What do you think, Hermione?”

–It’s all up to you.”

Her parents gazed at her anxiously. What if she was to go? She had no friends to leave behind. No one to miss her. She had been thinking only earlier of how bleak her visions of secondary school were. Why shouldn’t she?
Something held her back; something important. Jamie. She didn’t want to accept that he wasn’t her friend, that he wouldn’t miss her. But he hadn’t spoken to her in months. She needed to forget about him and move on; she had to grow up. –I want to go.”

–Are you sure?” asked Mrs Granger, reaching up a hand and stroking her daughter’s hair.

–Yes. It’ll be strange, but I can’t not go. Not now that I know.”

The three of them looked at Professor McGonagall, who stood up, suddenly businesslike. –Excellent. Now, if you see amongst these papers, there is a school supplies list, and directions to a street in London where you can buy them all. I will arrange for someone to meet you there sometime next week so that Miss Granger can get everything she needs. They will explain much more then. Meanwhile, I do advise you to employ the utmost discretion when divulging this information. Limit it to people to whom it would be detrimental not to know. I’ll send an owl shortly with further instructions.”

–A-an owl?” stammered Mr Granger.

–It is the preferred method of communication in the magical community. We use them to send letters to one another. Now, I must be going. Good day to you.” And with that, Professor McGonagall pointed the wooden stick at the otter, which molded back into the coffee table; turned on the spot, and vanished into thin air.

Mr Granger leapt off the sofa, staring open-mouthed at the point that just a moment ago had held a woman. –How… how did she-” He couldn’t finish the sentence.

Mrs Granger pulled Hermione into a tight hug. –I’m so sorry,” she murmured. –I know this must be awful for you. If we’d had any idea, we would’ve told you years ago. It’s not fair to spring it upon you like this.”

Hermione burrowed into her mother’s arms, smelling the clinically clean smell of the dentist which still hung on her clothes. It was not perhaps the most welcoming of smells, but it made her feel warm and safe. She breathed in deeply. –It’s ok. I’m ok.” Was she reassuring her mother, or herself?

–Are you sure you want to do this?”

–Yes. I want to learn to do stuff like she did.”

–What about staying away from home? Do you think you’ll be ok?”

Hermione paused. It would be strange not seeing her parents for so long. She honestly didn’t know whether she’d be alright. –I don’t know. But it’s got to be better than going to a normal secondary school.”

–What do you mean?” demanded her father, finding his voice at last.

–Dad, I’m not one of the ‘cool’ people. Everyone already thinks I’m weird.” Her cheeks flushed red. Saying it out loud made it sound so pathetic.

–What about Jamie, darling?” asked her mother.

–He doesn’t like me anymore. Not after…” She trailed off, a lump rising in her throat like it always did when she thought about what had happened. It was one of the reasons she could never speak about it.

–Well, I don’t think that’s entirely true. I was speaking to Mrs Lovell today, before you both came out of school. She thinks he’s missing you more than he’s letting on.”

–Why isn’t he speaking to me, then?”

–Because his father told him not to.” Hermione scoffed at that, but was quieted with a frown. –He cares very much about Jamie.”

–It doesn’t seem like it! Why won’t he let us be friends?” Hermione whined.

Mrs Granger looked at her daughter closely. Hermione wasn’t one to act childishly, and she couldn’t remember the last time she had actually whined. This must be hurting her more than she would admit. –There is a reason,” she said calmly, trying to convey the importance of what she was about to relate by looking directly at her daughter. –But you have to promise not to tell anyone.”

Hermione sat up, interested. –Ok.”

–Mrs Lovell was telling me that there’s a reason why Mr Lovell has been so worried about Jamie’s dyslexia, and why he only wants the best scientific help. It’s because Mr Lovell himself is dyslexic. He had it a lot worse when he was younger, but his parents never took him to get tested. He never got any help, and was bullied because people thought he was just stupid. It wasn’t until he was much older that someone advised him to take a test, and it came through positive, that he realised there was more to his trouble learning than people said.

–So now Jamie’s got it, he’s been trying desperately hard to be the opposite of his own parents. He wants to get Jamie as much help as possible. Unfortunately, he seems to have forgotten that a love for something works ten times better than any science experiment can.

–So you see, he’s just trying to do the best for his son. Jamie’s not really angry at you - he might have been at first, but really he’s just doing whatever it takes to please his dad. Who really does love him.”

Hermione’s mind was working slowly. If Jamie wasn’t cross with her, then what she had done hadn’t been quite as awful as she’d supposed! –So… so Jamie’s dad’s not really horrible?” she asked weakly.

–No,” Mrs Granger chuckled, –he’s just like any other parent.”

–So… can I be friends with Jamie again?”

–Maybe. Mrs Lovell’s going to talk to Mr Lovell tonight. Try and convince him that there’s nothing wrong with you two being friends.”

It was almost too much to take in in one afternoon. Hermione tried to separate all the new information she’d been given. She was a witch. That meant that she could do magic. She would be going to a school for witches and wizards in September. Mr Lovell was actually nice. She could be friends with Jamie again. She could be friends with Jamie again! Despite everything else that had been cast upon her today, this was what kept surging to the front of her mind. She hadn’t had the faintest hope of ever being able to talk to him again, and now she was told that she might soon be friends with him once more! She threw her arms around her mother, a wide grin lighting up her face. –This is the best day ever!” she whispered. She wasn’t lying.
Chapter 5: Friends and Farewells by goldensnidget92
–The last trace of steam evaporated in the autumn air. The train rounded a corner … All was well.” - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, JK Rowling

The next morning Hermione got up early. Her father was taking the week off work to look after her, but she was already up and dressed, with a plan fully formed in her mind by the time he got up. She called to him to tell him where she was going before hurrying out of the front door and closing it quietly.

It was baking hot outside. Within minutes her sweaty feet were slipping within her sandals, and her bushy hair was sticking to the back of her neck. It wasn’t long until she rounded the corner into Jamie’s road. She had decided that she couldn’t wait any longer to speak to him and that whether Mrs Lovell had spoken to his father or not, she would make sure Jamie spoke to her.

Her resolve wavered as she neared his house, and for a split second she contemplated going home again. But she knew she wouldn’t be satisfied if she didn’t see him. She strode up to the door and pressed the bell, waiting with baited breath for someone to come. Eventually, after what seemed like a century, Mrs Lovell opened the door.

–Hello, Mrs Lovell,” Hermione said, before she could chicken out. –I wanted to talk to Jamie.”

Mrs Lovell looked pleased, but hesitated. –I have spoken to him, Hermione. But I think he’s still a little worried about what his father will say. Barry hasn’t had a chance to talk to him yet, but I’ve told him neither of us minds him being friends with you. I’ll just go and tell him you’re here.”

She turned and climbed the stairs to Jamie’s room, calling to him as she went. Hermione hovered on the doorstep, unsure of how to go on. What if Jamie didn’t want to talk to her? She couldn’t bear to think about that.

Mrs Lovell came back down the stairs, with Jamie following. –Do you want to come in, Hermione?”

–I actually wondered whether Jamie wanted to go for a walk or something,” Hermione replied, looking at Jamie. –If you’d like to.”

He looked at his mother before answering, as though looking for an excuse not to go. She didn’t speak. –Ok then,” he said, quietly.

–Have fun, you two!”

Hermione and Jamie turned and left the house. Neither spoke to each other until they were completely out of earshot. Hermione didn’t quite know what to say. She had planned everything, but now the time had finally come to speak to Jamie after months of silence, and she couldn’t find the words. But it was not she who spoke first. –I’m sorry,” Jamie mumbled.

–Sorry for what?” asked Hermione, astounded. –I’m the one who should be sorry!”

–And you are - you told me so for weeks. But I didn’t listen, and I’m really sorry that I ignored you.”

–It’s not your fault. I shouldn’t have made you read with me when you didn’t want to. You were only doing what your dad told you, and I don’t blame you!”

–Thanks,” he mumbled, not sounding quite convinced.

–You’re the first person who’s ever been friends with me. No one else stuck around long enough after they found out how different I was. Especially when they saw me do magic. I want to thank you.”

–Wait … what did you say about magic?”

Oops. The subject of her new-found magical abilities had been tugging at Hermione’s mind all day, suppressed only by her need to talk to Jamie. She couldn’t believe that it had only been a day since she’d found out that she was a witch. And now she’d just broken one of the most important rules in the wizarding world: do not tell Muggles. But she couldn’t lie to Jamie. Not after what they’d been through. He’d see straight through it, and she didn’t want to lose his friendship again.

–Actually,” she began, resolving to tell him. –There’s something I should tell you. I only found out yesterday, but it’s pretty important.” Although she was trying to be serious, she couldn’t keep the smile off her face as she confessed her secret. –I know you’re going to a specialist school next year, so it won’t make much difference to you, but I’m not going to the normal secondary school.”

–Where are you going?”

–A place called Hogwarts.”

–That sounds weird … why aren’t you going to the normal one?”

Hermione bit her lip, unsure of how to put it. Would he even believe her? –A lady came to see me and my parents yesterday. She’s Deputy Head of the school, and … she’s a witch.”

–Was she really horrible?”

–No, I don’t mean she wasn’t nice; I mean that she is a witch. She can do magic. And so can I.”

There was a pause. –Er … right. You can do magic. Um … what?”

–I know it sounds crazy. I’m not supposed to tell you, she told us not to tell Muggles.”

–Muggles?”

–People who can’t do magic.”

Jamie started when she mentioned magic again. –You are joking, aren’t you? There’s no such thing as magic.”

–There is.”

–Prove it, then.”

–I can’t. I haven’t been trained; I can’t use it whenever I want to.” Hermione saw that Jamie was still unconvinced. –Remember that time Lindsay Hannigan was teasing me? You came over and she threatened you. After that, something funny happened to her tongue, and she couldn’t speak anymore. That was me. I did it.”

–You never said!”

–I didn’t really want to. I didn’t know what was happening to me at the time. I couldn’t control it; I was scared of what I could do. But now I know.”

–You’re … a witch!”

–Yeah.”

They walked on in silence for a few minutes until they reached the local playing fields. A small group of boys were kicking a football around between some ramshackle goalposts, and there were children playing in the park, glorying in the wonderful weather. Parents sat on benches, watching as their children ran around each other, swinging on the swings, climbing ladders and zooming down the slides. It looked like a perfectly normal day. But Hermione wondered how many more she would see. How different would it be when she joined the magical community? For the first time, she felt a twinge of hesitation about stepping so willingly into the unknown.

–So, what did this woman say?” asked Jamie eventually.

Hermione launched into a long explanation, telling him about Professor McGonagall turning their coffee table into an otter, the presence of witches and wizards and, finally, about the fact that she would be staying their during term time. –I won’t really be able to see you except in the holidays,” she ended, quietly.

They sat down on a bench in the shade as Jamie mulled over the new information. –Where is this place you’re going to?”

–I don’t know. We’re getting more information soon, when I have to buy my school things.” She hesitated. –Jamie, you do believe me, don’t you?”

Jamie stared at the ground, a slight frown puckering his forehead. –It doesn’t seem like you’ve made it up. You can’t have made up all that; why would you?”

–So you do?”

–Yeah, I suppose I do.”

She breathed a sigh of relief. She hadn’t realised it before, but the worry of Jamie not wanting to talk to her, and then not believing her, had been pressing down upon her. Now she felt light and airy, as though she could do anything. Spontaneously, she plucked a daisy from the grass and held it gently between her thumb and fingers. She stared at it, not entirely sure that this would work, but somehow knowing what to do. She focused her mind on it, letting the flower occupy her thoughts, her being. It began to tug against her grip, and she let go, letting it hover in mid-air, turning lazily on the spot.

–How are you doing that?” Jamie gasped.

–I’m not sure,” Hermione answered as it dropped neatly into her lap. –You won’t tell anyone, will you, Jamie? I wasn’t even supposed to tell you.”

–I promise.”

–You can’t even tell your parents. If they ask what happened to me, tell them my parents sent me to a boarding school somewhere else.”

–Ok.”

They sat together in silence, watching the crowd of children across the field. They were laughing and talking loudly, not appearing to know or care about the huge change that was going on only metres away from them. ”I’ll miss you,” Jamie said.

–I’ll miss you too. But we can see each other every holiday!”

Jamie nodded, but both knew that this wouldn’t be the case. Hermione was going somewhere Jamie could never follow, and no matter how much they pretended otherwise they knew deep down that this was going to be the end.

–Can I come with you? When you leave, I mean. I want to say goodbye.”

Hermione smiled, and felt tears pricking her eyes. –Of course you can.” Then, before she could say anything else, she heard a giggle in the bushes behind her, before two girls emerged, laughing hysterically.

–Hermione and Jamie, sitting in a tree! K-I-S-S-I-N-G!”

It was Lindsay Hannigan and her friend Rachel Hudson.

Hermione glanced at the girl, with her long, straight blonde hair tucked up in a perfect ponytail, and wondered why she had been so scared of her before. –Hello, Lindsay, Rachel,” she said, smiling.

Lindsay looked slightly taken aback at the warm reception, but soon regrouped her features into an arrangement of scorn. –Why’s Jamie going to miss you, Hermione? Is he going to Stupid School? Because he should. He’s stupid.”

Jamie coloured, but Hermione smiled benignly up at Lindsay. –Is that really the best you can come up with?” she asked politely. –Because if it is, perhaps you’re the one who should be going to ‘Stupid School’.”

Lindsay stared at Hermione in shock, unused to such scathing remarks being directed at her. Her mouth hung open, but no words escaped. Rachel turned to her, waiting for her to retaliate, but as the silence dragged on, she began to look scared.

–I wouldn’t stick around with Lindsay if I were you,” Hermione advised her. –She likes turning against others to make her feel better about herself. Who knows, maybe she’ll start being mean to you next.” Rachel glanced anxiously at Lindsay, whose face was turning pink.

–How dare-” Lindsay began.

–How dare I tell the truth?” Hermione challenged. –Because I’ve finally realised that I am so much better than you. Because I don’t care what other people think about me: I don’t rely on being horrible to others to get people to admire me. Because that’s not admiration. That’s fear. And if everyone’s scared of you, then they’re not your friends. Not really. And it’s not until you’ve got proper friends that you realise how powerful they are.” She turned to Jamie. –That’s the real magic.”

Lindsay was staring in horror at Hermione. Rachel had backed away, and looked like she was thinking about running across the field to join the others and escape the impending burst of fury that seemed certain to explode out of Lindsay.

But it didn’t. Lindsay’s cheeks turned red and blotchy, and she screwed her face up so that her eyes were tiny slits in the middle of her head. Hermione held her breath, waiting for the attack. And then a tear slid down Lindsay’s cheek.

It was followed by another and another, and soon Lindsay was standing alone between Hermione and Rachel, crying unashamedly. Hermione didn’t know what to do. She stared in shock at her once unconquerable enemy, and watched as she crumbled before her eyes. Lindsay’s nose began to run: tears and snot were melting into each other and smearing across her face. But no one did anything. Why wasn’t Rachel helping her friend? Of course. Hadn’t Hermione just said? Rachel was scared of Lindsay. She hadn’t expected her to break down like this, and she had no idea what to do.

Hermione couldn’t bear to watch Lindsay cry like this, knowing it was her fault. No matter how much she’d hurt her before, Hermione was determined not to stoop to Lindsay’s level. She fished around in her pocket and found a crumpled tissue. She crossed the patch of grass between them cautiously, held out her hand, and offered the tissue to Lindsay. Lindsay noted her action in surprise, and slowly reached out her hand to take it. –Thank you,” she snuffled.

Hermione hovered there in silence, unsure of what to do. –I’m sorry …” she began, but trailed off, not entirely sure what she was sorry about. That she had finally stood up for herself? That she had told the truth?

Lindsay raised her eyes to meet Hermione’s. –I’m really sorry,” she whimpered. –I d-didn’t think you cared.” She stopped, taking a few breaths to calm her tears, and gulping down a few hiccoughs. –You didn’t seem to care what anyone else thought, and I just wanted you to notice me.”

–Why did you want that?”

–Because I could tell you thought you were better than me.”

–No I didn’t! I was terrified of you; you were horrible to me. Why did you think that would make me think anything good about you?”

–You noticed me, didn’t you? But I’m sorry.”

–Yeah, well. It’s a bit late, really.”

–Why?”

–I’m not coming back next year. I’m going to school somewhere else.”

–It wasn’t because of me, was it?”

–No.”
Lindsay gave a small smile. Hermione stared numbly back. –Forgive me?” Lindsay whispered.

–Maybe.”

They looked at each other without saying anything more. Hermione thought that Lindsay was truly sorry. Then Lindsay nodded slightly, as though she accepted that Hermione couldn’t forget what she had done to her so quickly, and walked away with Rachel.

Hermione felt almost in shock. She had made Lindsay cry. It didn’t feel good.

–That was amazing, Hermione! I can’t believe you did that! You beat Lindsay!”

–Yeah … I did.” She gazed after the two girls, wondering whether she should say something, forgive her. It would be her last chance. She watched as they neared the group of other children, but she didn’t do anything. She couldn’t quite bring herself to. It would be like admitting defeat, and didn’t she owe it to herself to finally win something against Lindsay?

But she couldn’t get the image of Lindsay’s tear-stained face from her eyes.

***


–Come on, Hermione, five minutes!”

–We can’t go yet; Jamie’s not here!”

–Well if he’s not here within the next four minutes, then we’re going to have to go without him.”

It was eight o’clock on the morning of 1st September, and Hermione was sitting on the front doorstep, her knees tucked up in front of her, and a tight knot squirming in her tummy. Jamie had promised he would come; he promised he’d say goodbye to her at the station! The seconds ticked away as her parents finalised the packing of the car. It had been a nightmare getting her trunk into the boot, but eventually they had maneuvered the heavy object in, and managed to close the door.

–Hermione, we’re going to have to go now!”

–But-” she began, and then caught sight of Jamie and Mr Lovell hurrying around the corner and into their street.

–Sorry!” cried Mr Lovell. –Someone forgot to wake up this morning! Are you going to be late?”

–Just in time,” said Mrs Granger.

–Alright, then, see you later, Jamie,” he said, giving his son a quick hug. –Have a good term,” he said, smiling at Hermione. She wasn’t sure, but it seemed like he was trying to make up for his behaviour towards her all those months ago.

She smiled back. –Thank you.”

–Right, come on, you two, we’d better get cracking,” said Mr Granger. –Thanks, Barry, see you tonight.”

–Bye!” Mr Lovell said, waving to Jamie.

The four of them clambered into the car, and Mr Granger reversed out of the small driveway and began to pull away, waving at Mr Lovell as he went. Soon they were speeding along the motorway, heading towards London.

–Thank you for coming, Jamie,” said Hermione, as they had all settled in, and her parents were talking quietly.

–It’s fine, I wanted to.”

–I don’t know how far you can come with me. We were told exactly where to go, but then I’ve got to walk through a barrier to get to the other side, and I don’t think you can come with me.”

–You’ve got to walk through a barrier? How do you do that?”

–They’ve put a special spell on it. I was reading about it in A History of Magic by Bathilda Bagshot.”

–Cool! Have you got any books with you now? Can we read them?”

–I’ve got one called Hogwarts, A History.”

–Can we read it together?”

Hermione rooted around in her bag, and extracted a large, leather-bound book which had an ink sketch of a large castle on the front. –This is it,” she said, pointing at the picture. –This is where I’m going.”

–Wow!” Jamie breathed.

She opened a page at random, and they began to read.

The ceiling in the Great Hall is bewitched to look like the sky outside. This was founded by Carmelina Hurtleberry in 1693. She was the Astronomy Professor at the time, and over one summer, was seized by the idea to inspire her students night and day. She therefore cast a complicated charm that essentially turned the ceiling into a reversed mirror, and which has never to this day been removed.

–Have you read that?” Hermione gasped. –It sounds
amazing!”

Jamie took a little longer, and then his eyes widened in awe. He looked across at Hermione. –I wish I was going.”

A pang in Hermione’s stomach reminded her of the fears she had been burying underneath the excitement of going to Hogwarts. She wanted to go, but she couldn’t help feeling scared. She wouldn’t know anyone. What if she couldn’t do magic very well? She had wondered over the summer whether people who came from wizarding families would already have mastered a few spells. It wouldn’t be fair if they had; she hadn’t had the chance.

On her trip to Diagon Alley with her parents and a small, wheezy old wizard who kept forgetting her name, she had barely been able to speak. She couldn’t believe just how real everything seemed. Just then, an idea struck her. She dived back into her bag, and pulled out her new wand. She still couldn’t believe she had one. She twirled the vine and dragon heartstring wand between her fingers, thinking.

–That’s not … a wand, is it?” asked Jamie in disbelief.

–Yeah, it is!”

–Can you do magic already?”

–I’m not sure …” She thought back to the books she had read. What had looked simple? She heaved her bag onto her lap, trying to remember whether she had any more books in there, but as she did so, one of the straps broke. –Oh noooo,” she moaned, before suddenly remembering something. She pointed her wand at the strap, and thought about what she wanted to achieve. –Reparo,” she said confidently, and the strap flew back and rejoined the bag.

Jamie stared in awe at what she had just done. Hermione felt elated.

–Mr and Mrs Granger! Did you see what Hermione just did?”

–No, what did she do?” asked Mrs Granger, craning her head around.

–She just magicked her bag - it was broken, and now it’s not!”

–Did you do that just now, Hermione?”

–Yes!”

–That’s amazing! Can I see?”

–I don’t really know how to undo it.”

–Ok, what about this?” Mrs Granger ripped a piece of paper she was holding in half, and held it up to Hermione. She pointed her wand at it and thought hard about fixing it.

–Reparo!” The paper melded back together.

–That’s amazing, darling! Well done!” Mrs Granger cried.

–I saw in the mirror!” laughed Mr Granger. –I can’t believe
you just did that!”

They laughed, and the three of them competed for Hermione’s attention, trying to get her to do it again and again. As they entered London, however, Hermione became more subdued. She looked at her parents, and at Jamie, wondering what her life would be like without them. She knew she’d see them at Christmas, but she couldn’t yet tell how different things would be. What if she hated it? Would she be able to go home, and go to a normal school? And alternatively, what if she loved it so much that she never came home? What if somehow she forgot about her parents and her normal life … her life as a Muggle?

Jamie seemed to sense her apprehension, and smiled weakly. –It’s going to be strange not seeing you.” Hermione nodded. Then Jamie looked down at Hogwarts, A History. –I think this is going to be the last book we’ll ever read together. So every time you read it, think of me. That way, you won’t forget me. I know how much you love books, and even if everything else in your life changes, I know you’ll never stop loving reading. Like you said about friendship, this is just another type of magic. A more real type of magic. Because everyone can feel it.”

It took Hermione a while before she realised that she was crying. She sniffed, and wiped her eyes. –I’ll miss you too, Jamie. Thank you. I won’t forget you.” She leaned forward and hugged him tightly.

–I don’t want you to feel bad for me when you’re gone,” Jamie said. –Be yourself. People will like you if you just be yourself.”

–We’re here,” Mr Granger said. He slowed the car down, pulling into the side of the road right outside King’s Cross station.

The four of them climbed out, Mr and Mrs Granger struggling to remove the heavy trunk from the boot of the car. They crossed the road, and followed the flocks of people heading into the station. No one spoke. It was as though they all felt that this was the end, and yet they were trying to pretend that it wasn’t. But then they were there. A large plastic number nine looked down on them, hanging next to a large plastic number ten. –This is it,” Mr Granger murmured.

–Now, Hermione, we can’t come through with you. You’re going to have to go through on your own, remember?” said Mrs Granger

–Yes,” said Hermione, nervously eyeing the barrier in between the platforms. It looked horribly solid.

–Have you packed your toothbrush?” asked Mrs Granger, feebly trying to make a joke.

–Yes.”

–Ok, well it’s quarter to eleven,” said Mr Granger. –I suppose you’d better go through.”

Hermione rushed at him, and threw her arms around his waist. –Love you, Daddy.”

–Love you too, Sausage,” he said, smiling sadly.

–Bye, Mum. I love you,” Hermione whispered, her head buried into the depths of her mother’s coat.

–And I love you,” said Mrs Granger, sounding slightly choked.

Hermione turned to Jamie. –I hope you’ll be alright next year.”

–I will be. Make sure you have fun.”

They hugged each other. –Don’t stop reading!” she whispered.

–Never. Thank you for helping me. If it wasn’t for you, I’d never be half as good as I am now.”

–Don’t be silly. You loved it enough. You’d have kept trying.”

–Ten minutes, Hermione.”

–Ok.”

–Right. Here’s your trolley with your trunk. Have you got everything you need?”

–Yes.” Hermione felt her throat closing up, and didn’t trust herself to say more.

–Ok, you’d better go. Goodbye.”

–Bye. I love you all!” She turned, and walked slowly away, pushing her trolley across the smooth floor. Suddenly, she stopped and turned around. –Jamie!” she called. –If you see Lindsay … tell her … tell her I forgive her!”

–Ok!”

And with that, Hermione turned and walked on, without looking back, without regretting anything. Her trolley cut smoothly through the non-existent barrier, and she was on the other side. She had crossed the line now, and there was no going back. She smiled to herself, and walked forward onto the misty platform.
End Notes:
If you've read this far, then thank you. I hope you have enjoyed reading my version of what happened to Hermione before Hogwarts. Reading, in my opinion, is one of the most powerful forms of magic, and I'm sure you feel the same.
This story archived at http://www.mugglenetfanfiction.com/viewstory.php?sid=90728