Thanks to emi potter for pointing out the spelling error!
“Love... What is love? Love is to love someone for who they are, who they were, and who they will be.”
The second Harry stepped into Hermione’s house, he knew that Mrs. Granger was going to prove even more dangerous, if possible, than Ginny and Ron.
“I’m going to go have a talk with your father,” Mrs. Granger told the two Hogwarts students, placing an arm around her husband, who had not ceased glaring at Harry since his wife took control of the car. “Hermione, be sure to show Harry around the house, and show him his room, if you would. And you might as well show him yours, since you’re in such close proximity to one another,” she finished with a meaningful glance. At this Mr. Granger made to strangle an alarmed Harry, who immediately stepped behind Hermione. Mrs. Granger, who gripped Mr. Grangers arm tightly and simply smiled, kept her husband in order. “Make sure that he’s comfortable, will you, dear?” she asked Hermione.
“Of course, Mum,” Hermione answered, ignoring her mother’s hints, and dragged her trunk into the house. It was times like these that she wished she could do magic amongst muggles without any consequences.
Mrs. Granger gave Harry and Hermione a pleased smile and then walked Mr. Granger to the other side of the house.
“Well,” said Hermione, setting her trunk down in front of a staircase. “This is home.” She looked around the foyer. Paintings that were very similar to those that hung in her room at Hogwarts lined the walls, and Hermione’s feet tapped against the hardwood floors as she walked over to a closet. She took off her shoes and placed them inside, and Harry followed suit.
“So, Mum wants me to give you a little history on the house, I suppose,” Hermione sighed.
“She didn’t say anything about— ” Harry began, but was cut off as Hermione began her explanation.
“Like most houses in this area, ours was built some time in the Victorian era,” Hermione explained to Harry as she made her way through the foyer and into what Harry presumed to be the living room. The two sat on a red couch that was opposite of an empty fireplace. “I don’t know the exact year it was built, but that’s close enough. It has four floors, like most in this area. Mum and Dad moved in here about twenty years ago, following their marriage, and so, of course, I’ve lived here all of my life. Be sure to compliment Mum on the interior design,” Hermione advised Harry. “She decorated this entire house while she was off work while she was pregnant with me. She didn’t decorate it herself, of course, but she came up with the ideas and hired someone. Except for my room, all of this is hers, and she’s rather proud of it.”
Harry nodded as he took in the room and remembered how well adorned the foyer had been. Hermione’s family, he realized, was the exact opposite of Ron’s. For one thing, Hermione was an only child, a huge contrast to Ron’s six siblings. Then there was the fact that both her parents were dentists, so of course it made sense that her family would be fairly well off. It was the first time he had been in the house of a muggle well-to-do family that hadn’t made him feel as if he were imprisoned, his only other reference being the cold and heartless Privet Drive. He was surprised by how at home he could feel at both the Burrow and the Granger’s house when the two couldn’t be more different.
At that moment an orange ball of fluff bounded into the room and pounced on to Hermione’s lap. Hermione let out a small squeal, which was unusual for her, as she hugged the orange thing and exclaimed, “Crookshanks!”
It was then that Harry remembered that Hermione had been forced to leave her treasured cat at home this year when a car hit Crookshanks a day before term began. He had been all right, of course – he had thankfully only broken his leg – but her parents insisted on treating him in the muggle way, and so he had to stay home while his leg healed. He was perfectly fine now, as was apparent by how fast he could run, and Harry could only imagine the look on Ron’s face when Hermione would arrive back at Hogwarts with Crookshanks in her arms.
“I’ve missed you,” Hermione told the cat, placing him back down onto her lap and stroking him lightly. She looked up at Harry apologetically. “I’m sorry that you couldn’t bring Hedwig with you. Mum’s just deathly afraid of owls. She’ll tolerate them dropping mail every now and again, but she can’t stand the idea of being in the same house as one.”
“But you were going to get an owl in the summer of third year,” Harry reminded her, confusion written on his face.
“Yes, but I planned on keeping it at school,” she replied. “Which is why I’m so glad I found Crookshanks.” She hugged the cat once more.
Harry laughed. “I’m not so sure that Ron is quite as pleased.”
Hermione made a face. It was clear that she cared little of what Ron thought of her pet. “Well after all he’s put us through, I think he deserves every bit of torture Crookshanks inflicts on him.” Hermione placed Crookshanks on the ground and stood up. “I’m going to go put my stuff upstairs, okay?” Hermione told Harry. “Then I’ll show you to your room.” She paused as she made her way into the main hallway, and then turned around. “Feel free to look around,” she said to Harry with a smile. Crookshanks bounded after her.
Harry nodded, watching her as she rounded the corner and out of his sight. He stood up himself, deciding to take a closer look at the living room. A black baby grand piano was in the corner, its glossy coating only outshined by the ten or so certificates encased in golden frames. Each certificate read, “First Place Awarded to Miss Hermione Granger, For Excellence in Piano.” Sheet music was stacked in a neat pile next to the matching black bench. The music on the top of the pile was Johann Sebastian Bach’s Piano Concerto No. 5 in F Minor.
Harry tilted his head to the side as his eyes travelled back up to read the awards. I had no idea she played piano. Harry was shocked to learn that the certificates dated back to 1985. She was six-years-old when she won her first… After a moment, he realized that he actually wasn’t that surprised. Hermione succeeded beyond most people’s wildest dreams at anything she put her mind to. Well, almost anything, Harry thought, thinking of Divination. But then again, not much of the mind was required for such a class.
Harry returned his attention to observing the rest of the room, which was full of different hues of red. He ventured over to a black bookcase that, in addition to being filled with, of course, books, had a row of pictures of Hermione. It seemed to be a picture from every year since her birth. Harry was amused to see that, as a little girl, probably two-years-old – three at most – Hermione had blonde hair. It was, of course, as bushy as it was now. Harry was relieved that Hermione’s hair had darkened significantly since her toddler days. He didn’t think she would be as striking if she were blonde. It was true that Hermione wasn’t beautiful, like Ginny or Cho, but there was a subtle beauty about her – a look that one could rarely find in a girl.
“Find anything interesting?” a voice asked from behind. Harry turned around to find a smirking Hermione.
“You were blonde,” he said stupidly. What the hell was that? Harry asked himself. Since when did he act like an idiot?
Hermione nodded slowly, as if she were talking to an incredibly slow man. “Yes, yes I was…as were most children. We tend to start out blonde, and then get darker shades, as we grow older. I happened to end up a brunette. You, however…” Hermione said, scrunching up her nose playfully. “Somehow I don’t think that you were ever a blond.” She took a tendril of his hair, wrapping it around her finger. Realizing what she had done, Hermione blushed and dropped her hand to her side, muttering an embarrassed apology.
“No need…” Harry replied, although he was currently doing everything in his power to keep his face from turning red. “So…er…you play the piano?” He gestured towards the baby grand with his head. Hermione nodded.
“Since I was four,” she said. “Mum always wanted me to be cultured. That’s why we travelled so much. Anyway, she would always say that a young lady isn’t civilized if they don’t know a musical instrument.” Hermione pondered what she had just said as she slid gracefully onto the couch. Harry sat beside her. “Whenever I told that to anyone, they would say that Mum was being sexist, but I don’t think she meant it that way. I don’t think it was about being a ‘proper lady,’ per se, as she claimed, but more, as I said, of just enhancing one’s culture. You can’t imagine how much I’ve learned from playing over the years.” Hermione glanced, almost mournfully, at the now forgotten sheets of music. “I stopped, really, after I entered Hogwarts. If there’s one thing I regret about going to Hogwarts, it’s that. I really do miss it. Over the summers, I would play, but now…I don’t know.” She closed her eyes, leaning back onto the couch, a small smile playing at her lips. “I can still remember the first classical piece I ever learned – Minuet in G.” She began humming the tune, her fingers playing on an invisible piano. She laughed as she opened her eyes. “I’m sorry, Harry. I’m boring you with my nostalgia. Let’s get you settled into your room…”
“Right,” Harry nodded, following Hermione out of the living room. As they made their way up the stairs, Harry commented to Hermione, “Just so you know, nothing about your life could ever bore me.”
Hermione swatted at him. “Harry, don’t be mean,” she said, although a small smile played on her lips.
“What!” Harry exclaimed, feigning emotional injury. “I’m serious!”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “You can honestly say that anything I have to say would interest you?”
Harry thought for a second, and then admitted, “Except anything to do with our course books. And the history of Hogwarts. And school.”
Hermione smiled and shook her head. “Good thing I never talk about that, right?”
“Yes, good thing,” Harry grinned.
“Would you like to see my room first, or yours?” Hermione asked as they reached the third floor.
Harry shrugged. “I don’t really care either way.”
“Mine’s closer,” Hermione said, pointing to a door a few feet to their right. She led the way and Harry soon found himself in the room in which Hermione had grown up. Looking around, Harry realized that it truly did reflect her personality.
The walls were a light blue, a colour that Harry had realized, following the Yule Ball, was one of Hermione’s favourites. One wall was lined entirely with mahogany bookcases and, of course, not one bookcase contained a single empty spot. If Harry were to take a step closer, he was certain that he would find the books placed in alphabetical order.
On the opposite side of the room lay Hermione’s queen sized bed, which was currently covered in a fluffy white duvet, with five blue pillows (clearly from a set) neatly arranged on top. In a corner was a desk that matched her bookcases, on which stood a black desktop computer and a picture frame. The picture frame held a photograph taken from what Harry realized was their goodbyes after fourth year. In it Hermione hugged Ron and then went over to Harry and pecked him lightly on the cheek. Her own cheeks flushed, the picture Hermione waved a goodbye to the two boys before walking away.
Noticing that Harry was starting at the picture, Hermione explained, “When I was leaving with my parents, I ran into Colin Creevey, who told me that he, in another photo frenzy, had taken a picture of that. I asked him if he could send me a copy after it was developed. All I could think about was how the second war had begun,” Hermione smiled sadly. “I wanted to remember our last day of normalcy.”
“We never had normalcy, Hermione,” Harry pointed out to her. Hermione gave him an impatient look and he conceded that it was “a very lovely picture.” He glanced back at the picture, studying it as picture Hermione once more pecked picture Harry on the cheek. Harry didn’t understand why picture Hermione’s cheeks were so red as she rushed off. The only reason that he could think of was… No. He shook his head. He wasn’t going to let Ginny brainwash him. He instead turned his attention to the other walls, on which works of art, ranging from 19th century realism to impressionism, hung. There were several photos hanging on the wall, however, and Harry was shocked to see that every single one was of Hermione and himself: she and Harry, arms around one another’s shoulder, returning home after their sixth year; sitting next to one another at a blazing camp fire, waiting for Mr. Weasley to finish up breakfast; studying defence books in the Room of Requirement; talking animatedly during a Gryffindor Quidditch Victory Match party.
“H-Hermione,” he semi-croaked. “Why do you have all of these pictures of just…of just us?”
“Hmm?” Hermione looked up at her wall. “That’s odd,” she commented, knitting her eyebrows together. “Ron was in all of those photos before… I find it hard to imagine that he’s absent from every single photo at the same time, merely by chance…” Hermione narrowed her eyes as she realized what had happened. “Of course,” she said, almost venomously. “It’s another one of their ploys. Come on Harry.” She grabbed Harry by the arm and hauled him out of her room, his feet dragging across the floor. “Let’s go to your room now.”
Harry complied, but not before chancing one last look at the picture taken at the end of their fourth year. If only he could figure out why Hermione was blushing so hard. And perhaps why he was so bothered by the picture.