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Chapter 1 : Friends are reunited.
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"Brilliant. What have I supposed to have done now? I've only been back two days and I've only left this room at meal times." Harry grumbled as he slumped down the stairs.
"HARRY! I've missed you. How have you been?" To Harry's surprise, the owner of this voice was the person he wanted to see most - his best friend, Hermione Granger.
"Hermione, glad to see you. I don't want to sound rude or unwelcoming, but why are you here?" Harry asked, generally confused.
"Oh, well, just before we came back from Hog...school, Mr Dursley rang my parents asking if we could look after you for this summer. I'm going to the Weasley's for the last few weeks and we spoke to them and they're happy to take you in too. If that's okay with you, Mr and Mrs Dursley?" Being addressed like this by one of Harry's 'people' shocked them. But they couldn't
help being flattered.
"Ahh, but I didn't ring you. I don't know who did but it was definitely NOT me" Uncle Vernon said, Harry could tell that if Hermione hadn't been so polite to him, he would have shouted at her.
"Oh, sorry Mr Dursley. My parents said that someone called 'Mr Dudley Dursley' rang. Oh no, sorry, you're not Dudley are you. He's your son, and may I say, if he takes after you, he'll turn out to be the perfect man." Hermione said, Harry was trying not to laugh as he knew that Hermione wasn't even trying, she was just naturally polite.
"DUDLEY! GET IN HERE, NOW. Harry, considering your friend here (he turned to Hermione) was so polite, I think I can agree to her taking you for the entire summer. Pack your things... before I change my mind." He said because he didn't want Harry to think he'd lost his touch.
"Come on, Hermione. You can help me pack." Harry said whilst leading Hermione to his room. "You're a genius, Hermione. Only you could not sound fake when you were saying that. Thank you. If it was Ron, he would have messed it up." Harry said, trying not to laugh.
"Thanks, Harry, I thought I overdid the whole Dudley thing, but the man just takes any complement as it comes. Is this your room?" Hermione said when they finally reached a door. Harry nodded. They both reached for the handle at the same time, their hands brushed each others and Hermione quickly pulled her hand away and turned her face - she was blushing. Harry couldn't help but notice that his face was getting very hot too.
"Sorry," Harry said, quickly. He opened the door and signalled to Hermione to enter first.
"Thanks," Hermione said, quietly. "So, this is your room? It's... nice." Hermione said, whilst observing her surroundings.
"It's a bit small, I know. But it's better than that stupid cupboard. I've not really unpacked my stuff. We'll have to stay up here a bit. I was either going to write to you or Ron to come pick me up or run away. I'm sick of being here. Luckily, thanks to you, the next time I'm here, I'll be of age. Well, not for the first few weeks." Harry hung his head. Hermione knew he hated it here and would do anything to get out.
"Umm... Harry, Dudley didn't ring me. You're not coming back to mine. We're going straight to Grimmauld Place. Sirius left it to you. I'm sorry to bring him up so soon, Dumbledore told me to tell you everything I thought you should know. I'm not sure why he sent me here, but I didn't say no to rescuing my best friend."
Something told Harry that she had to force herself to say 'best friend'. He didn't quiz her on that, therefore, they just sat on Harry's bed, in silence. Harry could see Hermione looking at him, she didn't look at him like she normally did, she looked almost concerned about his welfare.
"Hermione, I'm fine, really. Don't look so scared. They've been feeding me decent meals." Something about being in the presence of Hermione made him try to sound more intelligent. He shook his head, he couldn't be having these thoughts about his best friend. He just couldn't.
"Harry, I don't want to sit here making sure you've eaten, I know you're not happy here. And I don't know whether you'll be happy at Grimmauld Place. It's been completely redecorated. The Weasley's have taken it over as their own, they knew you wouldn't mind, their house got blown up by Death Eaters. So, Dumbledore offered your house. Do you mind that?" Hermione asked, with fear in her eyes, she was obviously scared of what he might say or do.
"No, of course I don't mind. If anyone deserves it, it's them." Harry said, smiling, finally something right had happened to the Weasley's, he knew that it had stemmed from a bad thing, but they had a massive, new house.
"So, how are we getting there?" Harry asked Hermione.
"Mrs Weasley," Hermione said, not elaborating. "Three...two...one" And just as Hermione had said one, Mrs Weasley apparated into his room.
"Hello, Hermione. Harry dear, so good to see you again." Harry considered Mrs Weasley as a mum to him. He couldn't help but smile when he saw her. She went out of her way to protect her children - all seven of them, and recently, she had treated Harry and Hermione as one of her brood.
"Say goodbye to your Aunt, Uncle and Cousin, Harry. I'm going to disapparate to the outside of the house, that way, they will actually think you have left." She said, with the motherly tone she always used whilst talking to Harry.
"Okay, thanks, Mrs Weasley. Thanks for letting me stay with you." He said politely.
"Hermione, can you take Hedwig's cage?" Harry asked. They heard a pop which told them that Mrs Weasley had just disapparated and apparated again outside of the house, luckily it was dark.
Harry reached for the cage, which he was going to give to Hermione, just at the same time as Hermione had reached out for it. Again, their hands touched and Harry felt a sense of electric run from Hermione through to him. This time, however, no one pulled away for several seconds.
"HARRY! HURRY UP! I'M BEGINNING TO CHANGE MY MIND" Uncle Vernon's voiced carried up. It made Hermione jump, she wasn't used to Uncle Vernon's sudden outbursts. The sudden shock for Hermione made her move her hand away.
"Come on, Harry. Get your trunk, I'll get the door." She picked up Hedwig's empty cage, she was off hunting and ran to open the door for Harry. "Here, I'll take the trunk, you look like you're struggling," Hermione said.
'No, Herm, I can take, it's not that heavy." Harry lied, he hadn't been eating properly since Sirius had died and he knew this was the reason why he found this heavy, but he didn't want to look weak in front of Hermione. They hurried down the stairs and met Vernon in the corridor.
"I don't know who rung you, Miss (Harry was amazed that Hermione got called this by his Uncle) but it wasn't Dudley. However, since you asked and spoke to me so politely, I, with my wife, have decided that if he (he pointed spitefully at Harry) spent more time with you, some of your respect for betters would rub off on him." Vernon said, trying to sound polite but failing miserably. However, Hermione chose to ignore this.
"Thank you, Sir. I'm sure, Harry, will behave impeccably as he would not want to show you up." Hermione said, with a sickly, sweet smile.
Vernon smiled too "I do hope he does. If not, report it to me, immediately." He commanded. Harry had a feeling that his Uncle had forgotten he was talking to a witch.
"I promise you, that if Harry puts a toe out of line, I'll make it my personal task to inform you as soon as possible. Now, I'm sorry for this hasty visit, that you knew nothing about. I hope I did not ruin your perfect evening, in your perfect home, with your perfect family. Good day, Sir, it's been a pleasure meeting you, finally." She stuck out her hand, and to Harry's surprise, Vernon reacted to this as if a really high up business man was offering a handshake.
"You too, Miss. Take care. Goodbye. Bye, Harry." And Uncle Vernon opened the door and held it open for Hermione and Harry.
"Bye Dudley, Aunt Petunia and Uncle Vernon. See you next summer, I guess. Thanks for all that you have done this summer." With that, Harry quickly depart from the presence of his horrible family.
"Excuse me?" Said a small voice behind Hermione. She turned around and saw that the hallway was now deserted except for Dudley. Hermione could see that he was nervous and thought she knew what was coming.
"Umm... I'm Dudley, I suppose Harry talks about me a lot. All I wanted to say was that I think you're beautiful. Bye" And Dudley plodded off down the hall and back into the kitchen.
Harry tried not to laugh. Dudley and Hermione would make a hilarious couple. Hermione could also see the humour in that confrontation but still looked back into the house and smiled to herself.
"Duddeykins, what was that about?" Aunt Petunia asked her son, who was looking dazed.
"Oh, nothing, I was just talking to Hermione. She's beautiful, isn't she?" He asked his mum.
"Yes, she's lovely. But Duddey, remember she's one of them." Petunia replied.
"But, if we had her as a daughter-in-law, I would be one proud man," Uncle Vernon said.
"Maybe, next summer she could stay with us? Or for Christmas?" Dudley asked, trying to hide the joy from his voice, he knew his parents wouldn't say no to him.
"We'll see, Dud, we'll see," Aunt Petunia said. Dudley knew this was a good sign as his mum couldn't resist making him happy.
'Dud, that is a good idea, I'll get on the phone to ask her parents. I recall Harry saying once that her parents were normal. They were dentists if I remember correctly. Petunia, get me the phonebook..now." Vernon ordered. Dudley couldn't help but smile when he found out Hermione would be staying with them.
"Harry, shut up. I'm not going to marry your cousin." Hermione said, sounding annoyed. Harry had been teasing her all the way down the path to Mrs Weasley.
"Hello, dears. Everyone ready. Right, Harry, take my arm and Hermione, take Harry's other one." Mrs Weasley commanded, but in a nice, calm way. Harry felt it again, as Hermione gently grabbed his arms. He was sure Mrs Weasley had seen Harry's reaction to being touched by Hermione as she smiled turning away saying, quietly to herself "Young love, I remember Arthur and me." Only Harry heard the word "young" and didn't want to push her for an answer.
"Right, everyone touching? Good, this is your first time apparating, you might feel a bit sick" Mrs Weasley said quickly so no one could question her.
Suddenly, Harry felt himself leaving the ground abruptly. He saw Hermione and Mrs Weasley, but they looked like they were mushed together. Harry didn't like this at all, he wanted it to end. No sooner had this thought formed in his head, he felt his feet hit solid ground.
"That wasn't that bad," Hermione said, though looking as white as a sheet. Harry reached out to comfort her but then realised she was avoiding his gaze, so decided against it.
"Here we go dears. I need to go back to get your trunk and anything else. But feel free to go in, considering it is your house, Harry." She looked nervous at him as she said this. Harry shook his head, this made him feel much more dizzy.
"No, Mrs Weasley, I want you to have it. Anyway, I normally stay with you over the summer, so, I hereby give this house to you." Harry walked off before Mrs Weasley could disagree with him.
"Harry, that was so noble of you. I don't know how you became to be so nice, maybe it's a trait you got from your mum." Hermione always handled this topic with great care, he was glad of her cleverness. Normally, people would just skip over the fact that his mum and dad did use to exist.
"Thanks, Hermione, you always seem to know what to say in tough situations." Harry wanted nothing more but to reach out and hug her. He knew if he did that, she will know how he felt. He didn't want anyone to know just yet.
Suddenly, however, out of nowhere, Hermione flung her arms round Harry's neck and pulled him into a tight hug.
"Hermione?" Harry said, his voice full of surprise.
'Sorry Harry, you don't have to be so brave around me, I can see right through that now." She didn't sound like the Hermione he was used to, but the Hermione of his dreams. She was protecting him, keeping him safe from harm.
They heard another loud pop and Mrs Weasley appeared right behind them. They were still hugging and, again, Mrs Weasley muttered something like "How sweet, they don't even know." She left them alone and walked up the stairs to her new home.
"Mum, where's Harry?" Harry heard his other best friend, Ron, say.
"He's outside, don't go out there, he's looking at the house, it did use to belong to one of his connections to his parents, he needs time, alone," Mrs Weasley said, sternly.
Ron must of agreed as he didn't appear out from the door. Harry didn't want to let Hermione go, he felt safe in her grasp, like nothing in the world could scare or touch him whilst with her.
"Harry," Hermione said calmly "Harry, we should go in now. People will want to talk to you." She said Harry could sense the pain it took her to pull apart from him, she must feel the same. But, then, why would she? He spent all of last year with Cho.
"Hermione?" He was going to talk about what he just felt but she had already walked into the house. "She can't feel the same then," Harry said to the darkness. He shrugged and walked inside.
"HARRY! There you are! How long did you want to stare at the house for?" Ron asked, sounding like he really did want to know the answer to this.
"Oh, I was talking to Hermione about how I might find it hard to stay in this house, considering who it used to belong to. But now it's yours. So give me a tour?" Harry didn't feel so bad about lying to Ron because he wanted to get that off his chest.
"Yeah, sure. It's completely different. It must be magical because it has way more bedrooms now, I guess the house knew that more people will be living here. You have your own room, I do too, Hermione does, Fred and George wanted to share, so they have a shared room, Ginny has her own room, mum and dad have one, Lupin does too - however he doesn't spend much time here now." Ron was trying not to laugh. "The kitchen is HUGE. There's a dining room and a leisure room, well Hermione calls it that - it's full of books, so really, it's a library. There is also a wood out back, mum says we can play Quidditch there when you're settled. Also, mum says that you can stay here permanently, if you want to, of course." Ron said, looking nervous as he said it.
"Of course I want to stay here, Ron. You don't even have to ask. " Harry said, telling the complete truth.
Harry and Ron walked into the house for the tour. "There's loads of floors. Four, sometimes an extra floor appears when more people come to stay. Percy, Bill and Charlie will be coming soon. Their rooms will be on the fifth floor, but right now, there's only four. This is the floor with the kitchen, dining room and library. On the second one up is mum and dad's bedroom, the guest bedroom and Lupin's bedroom. Right now, a man from The Ministry is staying, not sure why though. On the third floor is Ginny's room and Fred and George's. There's also a magic door that sings an eerie song every time you walk past it, we've all tried to open it." Ron quickly added because Harry was about to ask that question. "On the fourth floor is mine, Hermione and your rooms." Ron had finished giving the verbal part of the tour. "Let's go into the kitchen, dad will wanna see you," Ron said.
"Harry, how have you been? Hope the Muggles have been treating you well." The voice belonged to one of Ron's twin brothers, Harry thought it was George, but he was never sure which one he was talking to.
"Hey, yeah, I've been alright. Wasn't there long, thank God. How about you?" Harry asked, without needing to use a name.
"Yeah, that's good. I'm also well thank you, I would love to talk, but myself and my twin here have other things to do - to do with our shop." Fred or George said.
"Whatever, I don't care what you're doing in that shop of yours," Ron said, walking off, sulking.
"What's up with him? Why's he in a mood?" Harry asked.
"Oh, he's upset because Fred and I refused to give him a discount on some love potion we created, it really does work," George said, smiling as he walked up to his room. Harry didn't bother asking about this love potion and walked off into the kitchen.
"Harry," Ginny said, "I need to talk to you, now," She said quickly. Harry looked around and saw Hermione glaring at Ginny. Maybe Hermione did return his feelings, but maybe he was imagining it.
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