Chapter 1 : Pre-Hogwarts: Mr. Granger
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DISCLAIMER: I don’t own Harry Potter. If I did I would surely be contacted by the Ministry of Magic regarding me telling muggles worldwide about the existence of magic.
Hermione Granger had never considered herself a “girly-girl.” Having spent most of her time with a nose stuck between the pages of books of all shapes and sizes since she had learned to read, which was at a remarkably young age, she lacked an interest in things other girls her age were obsessed over.
She never understood why they put a lot of stock into pink, frilly dresses and make-up. She never cared for playing with dolls or for trying out for cheerleading, nor did she particularly care for fashion or athletics in general. Instead, she focused on broadening her mind, expanding it to become aware of facts and details that would ordinarily have escaped someone else’s. She immersed herself in words and numbers, symbols and letters, determined to learn everything that she could about the world and how it worked.
“My little Kitty,” her father had jokingly called her, his special pet name for his daughter an inside-thing between the two. “Cats pick up on the art of curiosity by watching her.”
“Gifted” was the term that many had applied to Hermione, and not without good reason. Exceedingly smart with a sharp wit, her brains put most people’s to shame. Her teachers realized her talents and soon a variety of universities had caught wind of little Hermione Granger. However, despite her interest in seeing what those higher-level classes had to offer—primary school subjects didn’t present any challenge whatsoever to her and were becoming increasingly tedious--, both her parents agreed that she was too young to think about her future that way and wanted her to enjoy her childhood while it lasted.
However, there wasn’t much for Hermione to enjoy. While she treasured the moments she shared with her family, school was a completely different story.
Hermione didn’t hold delusions that she was beautiful: she knew that her looks didn’t come to par with society’s standards on the matter. She understood that her bushy hairs and large front teeth didn’t quite make her the looker, ignoring her family’s strong protests. Her fellow peers made her very aware of the fact and seemed to take pleasure in reminding her every day. Their jeering laughter struck her to the core. “God gave Granger Danger so much brains that he forgot about her outsides completely!”
She wasn’t ostracized in the least—she had a few friends—but they were never there to comfort her when she cried, and Hermione didn’t trust them enough to tell them that she did. Her intelligence caused her to become shy of others, though many misinterpreted her actions and believed that she was simply arrogant. She withdrew from others even more and hid behind the wall their preconceived notions had formed.
Day after day she observed life around her and, despite not being like all the other girls, she found herself secretly wanting what they had—though she would never admit it. Childhood crushes were petty and she knew that those “relationships” didn’t fit the true definition of the word, yet there was one boy who gave her heart the flutters and made her feel giddy every time that he was near.
When the secret finally came out she was met with a humiliating, heart-crushing rejection. In front of her whole class the boy had proceeded to inform her that she wasn’t pretty enough for his tastes and that no one liked her. Tears streaming down her face she ran home and locked herself in her room, the students’ laughter following her the whole way there. Berating herself for letting her emotions cloud her mind Hermione cried herself to sleep, not caring that her parents could most likely hear her. The pain was too great.
A while later her father knocked on her door, asking to be let in. A tiny Hermione with red eyes and tear tracks dried on her cheeks complied, hobbling over to unlock the door, rushing to her bed immediately after and drawing the covers over her head. Even with her sense of the outside world dulled by the fabric of the sheets she could smell the unmistakable aroma of freshly-baked cake, the sweetness of it making her mouth water. She heard his carpet-muffled footsteps approaching her bed, felt his weight settle next to her, and regained her sight when one of his hands pulled down the covers she held clenched in fists.
Meeting his concerned gaze she glanced quizzically at the small plate that he held out to her. On it was a tiny, square-cut piece of chocolate cake, a fork placed beside it. Normally a piece of cake wouldn’t have caught her eye, but this one was different. It popped out at her and Hermione took her time surveying it. An intricately-formed rose made purely out of icing was crafted on the surface, the swirling pattern of stem and leaves running the course of the edges before meeting at the center to form a fully-bloomed rose. The maker had obviously paid close attention to detail, and the result astounded her. It was remarkable … and seemed too sweet, no pun intended, to be true. Her parents were dentists and never condoned her eating many sugary treats like this. Arching a brow she returned her eyes to her father.
He smiled, chuckling as though he could sense what she was thinking. He handed the plate to her. “It’s okay to have sweets,” he said while she accepted it, “but consuming a lot will damage not only your teeth but your health as well.” He shuddered in faux horror. “You should’ve seen what your mother ate when she was pregnant with you. “ He gave her a little shove.
Hermione giggled and returned the shove with one of her own and added, “Don’t let her hear you saying that.”
An arm wound its way around her middle and Hermione was pulled flush against her father. “Of course not, Kitty. I do care about my health, you know.”
For a time the two stayed that way, basking in the familiarness of the embrace, the cake all but forgotten when the elder pressed his lips to his daughter’s head and asked, “What’s going on?”
Newfound tears welled up in Hermione’s eyes and she buried her face in her father’s chest, sobbing. She recounted the tale of what had occurred earlier that day, embarrassed both by her actions and that she had just revealed to her dad that she had had a crush, which was something everyone knew you weren’t ever supposed to do.
“It was horrible,” she finished, her tears now reduced to sniffles.
She felt her father give her a comforting squeeze and leaned into his touch, trying to get closer to the man that she knew as her hero in disguise. “I’m sorry that you had to go through that, sweetie. Sometimes reality can be harsh, especially through a child’s eyes.”
“But when will it stop hurting?” Hermione inquired.
Her father sighed sorrowfully, squeezing her tighter. “Sometimes it takes a while, but it stops eventually,” he said, his tone soft. “But that sorrow reminds us that there is happiness in the world, for how can there be pain without the existence of joy? Unfortunately, rejection is a part of life.”
He pulled back from the embrace and lifted Hermione’s chin with one hand to meet her gaze. With gentle fingers he swept the tears from her eyes, lingering on her cheeks before continuing. “I promise you, Hermione Jean Granger. You will find an amazing man one day who will love you unconditionally and for who you are and, with approval from myself, you will have a happy marriage together.” He paused for a moment, holding her stare and allowing her to see the full extent of his emotions. “You are so beautiful, my little Kitty, and any guy who can’t see that isn’t worth your while.”
He pointed at the icing-rose on her cake. “Did you know that flowers have their own language?” In answer to his daughter’s disaffirming head shake he said, “They do. Quite an interesting subject, really. Thought about going into botany myself until I saw your mother at the bookstore researching dental care. A rose means ‘I love you’, and one day you will receive one from the guy you’ll spend the rest of your life with.”
Hermione nearly tackled him as she threw her arms around his neck, almost knocking the two over. “I love you, Daddy.”
She could sense him smiling. “I love you too, Kitty.” He withdrew from her arms and gestured to the abandoned piece of cake left sitting on her bed. “But I think the cake wants you to love it more.”
Pushing on his knees to stand up again he traveled to the door that was left wide open from his earlier entry. Just before he left his daughter to ear her dessert he turned to face her and said, “Also, it took me years to get your mother to even consider going out on a date with me.”
He stepped out of the room and, almost as an afterthought, added, “Eat the rose last. That took a long time for me to make.”
As he shut the door Hermione grinned, a fork wedged firmly between her upturned lips. Roses were now her new favorite flower … not that she liked flowers or anything. That was for “girly-girls.”
A/N: Reviews are cookies and I’m starving!!!