Chapter 9 : Home at the Grangers
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The final days of school passed in a blur and the excitement of the holiday season was so great that the thought of school work was far from every bodies minds. Even the teachers didn't mind that learning was not happening and most classes were full of endless chatter and chaos. Flitwick's class descended into an all out war with cushions flying everywhere and the students barricading themselves behind desks. Potions was even enjoyable for once with Slughorn allowing them to make any concoction they liked, as usual with mixed and explosive results.
With classes over, Hermione was sitting in the common room reading when Ginny appeared beside her. The look in Ginny's eyes cast immediate suspicion in Hermione's mind that this was not just a social visit. With Harry upstairs packing, now was the perfect time for the grilling from Ginny that Hermione had been anticipating for the last few days.
“What are you and Harry going to get up to these holidays?” Ginny asked Hermione eagerly, cutting straight to the chase.
Her suspicions confirmed, Hermione smiled sweetly at Ginny. She was not going to play her games, preferring to keep how deep her feeling for Harry went to herself. “No idea” Hermione replied nonchalantly. “I've got a bit of homework to do, and then I'll just do the usual holiday thing of reading books, skating and generally doing not a lot. Anyway” Hermione continued “I'd love to stay and talk but I've got to pack.” With as much haste as she could muster, Hermione swept up her belongings and made her escape to her dormitory, hearing an exasperated sigh from Ginny as she left.
Up in his dormitory, Harry was also undergoing a similar but equally unfruitful grilling from Ron.
“Have you and Hermione talked about your plans for the holidays?” Ron asked.
“No” Harry responded truthfully, neither of them had talked about it at all, except for the obvious need to know details.
Ron pressed on and cheekily asked “So what would you like to do?”
Harry had a fair idea what Ron was playing at, but he was not going to fall into the trap of telling him how he really felt about Hermione. “I just want to have a nice family Christmas, that is all. Actually it will be nice to have a muggle Christmas again, I can't say that mine were ever very good. Then I have heaps of homework to do. If I want to be an auror I will need to keep my grades up”
Ron scoffed in disbelief. “Homework, it's the holidays!”
“I'm sure McGonagall will tell you its not a holiday but a study break.” Ron looked like he wanted to vomit at the idea of his holidays turning into an extended homework session. Harry just laughed at the look of revulsion on his face and used the distraction to remove himself from further questioning. “I'm going to library, to get some books of to help me with my homework, want to come?” A look of utter terror crossed Ron's face and without waiting for a reply, Harry went on his way.
The morning of departure came and Harry, Hermione, Ron and Ginny, joined the mass of students walking to the carriages that would take them to the train station. Hermione and Harry were quite demure, neither knowing what to say or do, lost within their own thoughts about what would happen over the holidays and what they wanted to happen. Ron and Ginny kept whispering to themselves and giggling, sometimes casting an eye Harry and Hermione's way, but both were oblivious to their actions and were paying no heed to the childish games of the Weasley siblings.
The four of them boarded a carriage and were quickly joined by Sam who jumped in and gave Ron a quick peck on the cheek. Ron had introduced her to them the day after he had talked to Hermione. She was a lovely girl and Hermione had found herself becoming friends with her, the dark thoughts of the previous weeks far from her mind as she embraced the new girl in Ron's life.
The rest of the journey to Kings Cross was much the same. The five of them shared a compartment on the train and Ron and Harry played mindless games of exploding snap while the girls chatted and giggled. The train began to slow as the end of the journey approached and Hermione had to stifle the excitement that was building inside her. She glanced nervously at Harry who caught her eyes and held them for a few seconds before looking away.
The mass exodus began as soon as the train stopped with students grabbing their belongings as quick as they could, all eager to see their families. However their rush proved pointless as they waited in the aisles as everyone slowly disembarked.
“Man” Ron exclaimed as the aisles jammed up in record time. “Do you think that we could just push our way through, I mean we are seventh year and prefects”. The disapproving look of Hermione and Sam immediately sent him into silence. Harry and Ginny both had to stifle their giggles at the similarity of the look the two girls had given Ron.
Eventually the aisles cleared and the five of them disembarked and saw all of their parents standing together. Mrs Weasley immediately started towards them, and Ron quickly muttered his apologies to Sam before he was engulfed by his mother.
“Oh it's so good to see you again” Mrs Weasley sobbed. “Oh, I've missed you so much. And you too Harry.” Before Harry could do anything, Mrs Weasley had released Ron and taken him into her arms and Harry had to gasp for breath. He saw Hermione smile at him and then she set off towards her parents.
“Ahh, mum” Harry heard Ron say nervously. Mrs Weasley released Harry and turned her attention back to her son. “This is Sam.” Harry took this as his time to go and he walked over to Mr Weasley and the Grangers, leaving Ron to introduce his new girl to his mother.
The reunions complete, everyone said their goodbyes and left Kings Cross station. Hermione cast Harry a few worried looks to ensure that he was comfortable in the presence of her parents and he smiled back to reassure her. In fact, harry felt extremely relaxed and joined in with Hermione as they talked about all the happenings at Hogwarts. As the conversation moved away from Hogwarts and towards Hermione's friends and relatives, Harry slipped into silence and looked at the scenery as they made their way out of London.
Night had long fallen and Harry had started to nod off to sleep when they pulled into the driveway, the slowing of the car waking him up. Rubbing his eyes, Harry took in his surroundings. “Well here we are Harry.” Hermione said from the seat beside him. “Welcome to my home”.
The car had pulled into the driveway of a lovely two storey brick house, with beautifully tended gardens in the front yard. The house looked gigantic from the outside but also rather friendly and warm. A half foot layer of fresh snow blanketed the ground and Christmas decorations had been hung through the trees and around the windows. Harry opened the car door an exited into the brisk winter air. He gazed at the house of his best friend in awe, wondering why he had never thought of asking Hermione more about her family and her childhood. It seemed like when you got that letter from Hogwarts, nothing before Hogwarts really mattered anymore. There was a new school, new friends and a new life.
“It's beautiful” Harry remarked, staring at the house and its stunning surrounding, so vast in contrast to his own muggle house at Privet Drive.
“Thank you Harry” Mrs Granger said, “Lets go inside out of the cold and get you settled in with a nice steaming cup of hot chocolate.”
Mr Granger and Harry grabbed all the luggage and made their way into the house. The entrance way opened into a spacious living room with what looked like the most comfortable couches ever made. Mr Granger continued onto the staircase on the right of the living room and Harry followed.
“Your bedroom is the first door on the left” Mr Granger said. Harry opened the door to find a spacious room with a double bed covered in a sapphire blue duvet. A set of drawers and bedside table were in the room, and a door which Harry assumed contained a wardrobe. The walls were bare save for a large photo of the sun behind an island. A large window looked out onto the back lawn which looked as beautiful as the front of the house. Harry was gazing fixedly at the photograph when he saw a shadow cross the wall out of the corner of his eye. Turning he saw Hermione leaning in the doorway.
“All settled in?” Hermione asked. “Mum put towels and extra blankets and anything else you might need in your wardrobe, and if you need something just yell out.”
“Thanks, but I think everything is just about perfect ” Harry replied. “I was just admiring this photo, where was it taken?”
Hermione walked into the room and looked at the picture. “My dad took it, he's quite the amateur photographer. This was taken in New Zealand, its a volcano in the middle of the harbour. We went there on a holiday one year when I was eight. I remember wanting to go with dad as he snapped this sun rise, but I didn't realise we would be leaving at 5.30am. But I went, and this was the photo. It's one of dad's all time favourites. He put it in here so when ever our guests wake up they can see the sun rise.” Hermione smiled to herself, remembering the times before Hogwarts and before her life changed completely. Hermione turned to Harry who was still gazing at the photo “Are you ready for hot chocolate?”
Harry nodded and together they walked downstairs to the kitchen where piping hot drinks were being poured.
“What have you two got planned then for the holiday's” Mrs Granger asked as they all sat down around the dinning room table for hot chocolate and an array of home baking.
“Not a lot actually” Hermione replied while sipping the sweet chocolate liquid. “We have a little homework but we tried to get as much done as we could before the holidays, but then there is always study to start on.” Harry gave Hermione a look of disbelief. N.E.W.T.S were ages away, there was no way in the world she would get him studying for them over the Christmas holidays. Hermione chuckled at Harry's shock and continued. “We'll go skating and sledding I'm sure, and catch up on all the latest muggle movies. We'll just take it as it comes.”
“Well if you need a ride anywhere, just say” Mrs Granger offered.
“Mum, we're wizards remember, and of age, if we need to go anywhere, we'll just apparate” Hermione gently reminded her mum.
“Oh, yeah, silly me.” Mrs Granger said smiling.
The rest of the night was spent watching a movie, playing board games and enjoying all the muggle paraphernalia and technology that they hadn't used in ages. The night wore on and before they knew it they were both yawning.
“I need to go to bed” Hermione announced mid yawn, “or I'm going to fall asleep and wake up here tomorrow with an imprint of monopoly money on my forehead”.
Harry yawned in response and they both started packing up the game. Hermione went to collect the pile of cards in the centre of the board at the same time as Harry, and their hands met. Electric sparks shot through Hermione as she felt the light connection of their hands. Her cheeks immediately warmed and she hoped that her blush was not that obvious.
“Sorry” Harry muttered, moving his hand to take a pile of property cards instead, avoiding eye contact with Hermione as his heart skipped a beat.
The game packed away, they both made their way up to their bedrooms and to the sanctuary of their beds. There was an awkward pause as they both stood, hands poised on the door handle.
“Well, good night then Harry” Hermione said. “Sleep well.”
“Night Hermione” Harry replied and he opened his door and was lost to sight.
Hermione was just settling down between her covers and thinking of Harry, when her mother entered and took a seat on the side of her bed. She reached over and gave Hermione a big hug and a goodnight kiss then sat back to admire her daughter who had grown up so much .
“It's so good to have my girl home” Mrs Granger said sweetly.
“Its good to be home mum, I've missed you a lot.” Hermione replied.
“How's things been at school. It must have been hard, and how's Ron doing?” Mrs Granger asked.
Hermione choked slightly at the sound of Ron's name and took a breath to calm herself. While she had told her mother that they had broken up as they were going in their separate directions, she had not informed her mother on her near break down and tumultuous emotions of the last few months.
“Its been really hard mum,” Hermione began. “It was so difficult being back at the school which was left to ruin, but now stands once more basically the same as before in those happier time. Every corridor brought back a memory, either from the war itself or of someone who has gone. I couldn't eat my dinner on the first night in the Great Hall because that is where my friends were all laid to rest on that tragic night. But it got easier with time. And Ron, well that's a story. We basically just fell away from each other, but then he got a new girlfriend and I might have flipped out a little.”
“Boys have a habit of doing that to us” Mrs Granger replied, obviously drawing on years of experience.
“Yeah, it just brought back all the memories of times I had spent with Ron and all the dreams I once had that could no longer come to fruition. I talked to Harry and to Ginny but in the end my silent anguish was only healed by talking with Ron, and now everything is looking brighter.”
“You and Harry seem to get on well” Mrs Granger pointed out with an all knowing smile crossing her lips.
“Mum, he's my best friend” Hermione replied, shocked at her mothers candidness.
“Sure honey. Goodnight” Mrs Granger stood up and gave her daughter one last kiss on the forehead and left the room, with an I am your mother and I know everything look on her face.
A/N Thanks everyone for reading and a big thanks to everyone who has been reviewing.
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