Chapter 5 : Reunited
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Harry’s head whipped up to look at the girl with bushy, brown hair sitting on the stool. He could not believe his eyes. After all this time, he thought she had been going to a prestigious school for gifted children, but now as he stood there looking at her, it all made sense.
Hagrid had said Hogwarts was the best Wizarding school in Europe, one of the eleven most prestigious Wizarding Schools in the world. Of course, now it clicked. Hermione was a witch and enrolled in Hogwarts since the moment she was born. Naturally, not knowing Harry was a wizard as well, she had had to make up an excuse as to why she wasn’t going to Stone Wall. Hagrid had said there was a International Statute of Wizarding Secrecy as well so she wouldn’t be able to tell him the truth.
Harry stood there bouncing on the balls of his feet as the hat cried out Gryffindor. Hermione hopped off the stool and hurried off to her new found family unaware of Harry’s presence.
Now, without a doubt, Harry wanted to be in Gryffindor. He had no desire to be in Slytherin, and with the sudden appearance of Hermione, Hufflepuff and Ravenclaw seemed dull in comparison. He knew he wouldn’t get to choose, but he had to hope.
Harry bounced faster as the sorting slowly past by. It seemed to take forever to get the “P’s”.
Harry watch as a round kid with bucked teeth stumbled his way up the steps and on to the rickety stool. It seemed to take forever for the sorting hat to decide where to place him. Harry didn’t really understand why since the clear choice was Hufflepuff, but after what seemed — to Harry – to be several long minutes, the hat cried out, “Gryffindor.”
Harry stopped his bouncing for a moment, stunned at the announcement, but he soon quickly decided he didn’t care much and resumed bouncing on the balls of his feet, impatient for his name to be called. Harry watched a pale, smug-looking blonde haired boy take the stool and be sorted into Slytherin almost immediately. A few more students were called up, but soon the Professor called out, “Potter, Harry.”
Harry heard a tiny squeak off to his right and knew it was Hermione but was suddenly rooted to his spot unable to react or move. He looked at Ron who reassured him with a nod, and Harry slowly made his way to the stool. Harry attempted to catch a glimpse of Hermione as he took his seat, but the hat fell over his eyes before he could find her.
Looking into an abyss of black, Harry was forced away from the environment surrounding him. He tried to be patient but felt himself wandering in his mind, thinking through today’s circumstances. One thought simply kept repeating in his head, Anything but Slytherin. Anything but Slytherin.
Not Slytherin? Really? It would push you to do some great things, echoed a voice in his head.
It startled Harry, causing him to almost fall off the backless chair, but he resumed his thinking, Not what was HIS house. Not HIS house.
Oh ho, you do not wish to follow in his footsteps?
No, replied Harry.
Hmmm…Well, then… if it is a path opposite of his that you desire, than it best be….”GRYFFINDOR!” Cried the Sorting Hat.
A chorus of cheers broke out from the house on the far right of the Grand Hall. It was the loudest of the night, but Harry didn’t care. He was scanning the room as soon as the professor lifted the hat off his head and quickly rushed to the Gryffindor table, trying to refrain from running. Harry saw Hermione gleaming at him as he made his way across the hall.
Harry felt many thumps on the back and people attempting to shake his hand as he past down the aisle between Gryffindor and the wall, but Harry paid no mind to them. He had eyes for only one person and she for him.
She slid over on the bench, making room for him. Harry saw her body tense as he grew closer, restraining herself from running and embracing him in a hug. Harry sat down, putting the least amount of acceptable distance between them as he could.
As soon as Harry had settled into his seat, Hermione reached over under the table and slid her hand into his, interlocking their hands for the first time. Harry looked over at her and saw the glint of excitement and thrill sparkling in her eyes. It was taking everything inside him from closing the space between them and embracing her for the first time in weeks, but they both knew it would do neither of them any good creating more of a scene than Harry was already creating on their first night at Hogwarts.
Harry looked up to watch Ron be sort into Gryffindor. Everything would have to wait until after….
Harry waited until he heard deep, slow breaths coming from the other four beds in the room before he slipped out of his covers and walked to the door. He slowly pried the door open to the point he could slide out unnoticed. Quickly closing down the door behind him, he rushed down the stairs to the common room where he saw Hermione pacing in the middle of the room.
Seeing him hurrying down the stairs, Hermione rushed over, threw herself into his arms, and whispered, “Harry…”
She pulled away from him and once again took his hand, leading him to the couch in front of the fireplace while saying, “I wasn’t sure if you’d be here. I was so happy when I heard Professor McGonnagal call you’re name. I was worried we ended up at different schools.”
Harry looked at her confused and felt his voice catch in his throat. He had so many questions, so many things he wanted to say but was struggling to find the words to say them. Finally, Hermione reached up and touched his face before saying, “Breathe, Harry.”
As if she had said the magic words, his throat and his head cleared, and he found his voice, “You knew?”
“Yes.” She paused, pondering for a moment before continuing, “Well, kind of. I didn’t know until I was on vacation and had no way to reach you to check for sure, but I read through my school books while on vacation, and soon enough, I was reading about this great Harry Potter who had vanquished the Dark Lord when he was just a baby.”
Harry looked at her stunned. There are books written about me, Harry thought, but Hermione showed no notice to his starstruck look and plowed ahead, “At first, I thought it couldn’t be that same boy who lived across the street. It couldn’t be my Harry Potter.” I’m her Harry Potter? “But the more I read the more I knew it had to be you. The only thing is that there are Wizarding Schools across the world. You could have been at any one of them. I figured once I boarded the train and saw no sign of you, you must have been accepted to another school, and we weren’t lucky enough to end up at the same place after all. I had hoped we would. I missed you terribly so on vacation, but there was nothing I could do if you were enrolled at another school. Our names have been on the lists since birth who was I to cause you to forsake your destiny at another institution.”
“You’re my best friend,” Harry said as if that was a good enough reason as any for him to be convinced to give up another Wizarding School for her.
Hermione blushed at his comment but smiled grateful for the honor. Harry was still curious though, “You didn’t know about any of this before you left for vacation then?”
Hermione shook her head and said, “No, I had just received my letter that day you came over. Mom and I had been discussing it before you showed up. We couldn’t discuss it with you since you were a muggle, and it’s against our laws to disclose it. When we heard you knock, we agreed to tell you a partial truth but keep the facts obscure so you wouldn’t be tempted to check things out.”
Harry sat there processing it all. He didn’t question any of it if he was being honest. He was just very content having her here with him and no longer being alone in this new world.
“Harry, I was dying to tell you. You were the only person I wanted to talk to about it, and I couldn’t.”
“I know. That’s how I was with you.”
“When did you — the letter?”
Harry nodded, knowing she was thinking back to the day in the bush. Hermione smiled and pushed his shoulder before squealing, “You actually read it! I didn’t know if you actually would. You read it because I told you to!”
This time it was Harry’s turn to blush as he murmured, “Yeah, I thought it was a joke at first. I thought Dudley was being extremely cruel, but I don’t think he’s smart enough to invent the names they used.”
“How did your aunt and uncle take it?” she questioned.
“Uhhhhh, not so well.” Harry chuckled. “They were actually kind of furious. Apparently, they knew and were hiding it from me my entire life. Can’t exactly say I’m surprised, but I was pretty mad when I found out they had lied about my parents death.”
“Oh…right….” Hermione faded off in the tense silence.
“It’s okay.” Harry whispered, forcing the tears to stay at bay.
“I’m sorry, Harry,” comforted Hermione.
She closed the space between them silently and curled up against his chest. Harry couldn’t help but let the tears fall as he wrapped his arms around her small frame, feeling completely loved for the first time in his life. The tears rolled down his face, and Harry let the silence fall between them.
This was the first time he had a moment to fully feel the force of the truth of their deaths since finding out about them, and he didn’t want his voice to betray him to Hermione. Though, he had an inkling she knew he was crying but was acting like she didn’t for his pride’s sake.
Hermione pulled herself closer to him, snuggling perfectly under his arm and nuzzling her face into his neck. He thought he could feel a warm liquid on his skin and knew she was crying for him.
They had become close over the last year. With so few other kids around, it was inevitable from the moment they first met. Harry was glad that their goodbye had been so temporary. He didn’t know if he could have lasted another school year without her. She was the only person who had ever cared about him, and even though he thought about the friendship that would bloom between Ron and him, he didn’t think it would ever be the same as his relationship with Hermione. There was nothing he couldn’t tell her.
“I’m glad you’re here, Hermione,” Harry whispered as he laid his head on hers.
Harry heard her sniffle and felt her hand lift off his stomach. She returned it soon after and whispered, “I am too. I didn’t know what I was going to do without you.”
Harry smiled against her hair and watched the fire lick the logs invading the cave. He knew they should head to bed soon, but he felt no desire to break this moment up. It was perfect to him. He felt peace wash over him and a foreign feeling of safety. Privet Drive had never been a place he felt at home. It had never been a place away from harm or a place of tranquility.
He had spent many days there being ordered around, beaten up by his cousin or yelled at for something going wrong, but this was different. The room was peaceful as the fire crackled quietly in the fireplace. No one yelled. No one was trying to beat him up. He felt no need to hide. He no longer felt trapped or confined in the space. He just existed. He and Hermione existed in the perfect moment.
“Hmmmm?” Harry responded as his mind wandered through the peace.
“Are you nervous about all this?”
“Wouldn’t I be mad if I wasn’t?”
“No? Yes…I guess.” Hermione let the silence.
“You’re bubbling with excitement, aren’t you?” Harry said, smirking against her head.
She shifted her head to look at him, forcing Harry to pull away a bit and look down to see her eyes. They had a mischievous glint to them. Fortunately, when it came to Hermione, it meant a new experiment or some sort of excitement for school. “Is it that obvious?”
“Hermione, if you weren’t excited, I’d be worried. It’d mean you were actually becoming a normal eleven-year-old.” Harry let out a chuckle as Hermione slapped his shoulder and settled her head back to its original position. “You’ve read all your books then?”
She nodded against his chest.
Harry knew she was smiling taking comfort in his knowledge of her. He let a few moments pass before asking, “What class?”
“What class are you most excited for?”
“Why do you th—“
“Hermione, I know you well enough that you already know what you’re favorite class is going to be. So what is it?”
“Transfigurations. Oh, Harry it’s going to be such a challenge! It’s complicated just reading about it. There’s tons of theories, and everything has to be exact from the words you say, the pronunciation, the wand movement —“
Hermione continued to rattle on and on about Transfigurations, and Harry knew he had punctured the dam she had built up to allow him time to grieve. He was enjoying it though. This was how it was suppose to be.
He missed his parents, and there wouldn’t be a day he didn’t wish they were still here. However, there would always be another day to grieve. Another moment that would cause him to long for them. There was only limited time for this though — for Harry and Hermione to be together alone with no need to share the other.
He figured Hermione would not be the problem though. He had had a sense of what life would be like in the Wizarding World during dinner earlier. Everyone wanted to meet and talk to him. He was all the sudden the most popular kid in school without knowing anyone, and he wasn’t really sure how he felt about that when he didn’t even remember the thing that made him so popular.
The entire idea of fame was strange to him after all these years of being ignored by the Dursleys. He understood why he was famous, but he was just ready to have a normal life. Something in between being famous and being ignored. He felt that if all he had while at Hogwarts was Hermione and Ron he’d be pretty happy with his life here. It was after all already feeling like home.
Harry felt his breathing fall in sync with Hermione’s which had slowed and become drawn out. Harry was vaguely aware that she had gone silent a while ago, but he knew the moment he awoke her was the moment reality would set in and the world they had created in these stolen moments would most likely be shattered in the morn.
Harry watched as the fire danced in its dominion, consuming the little wood still left in its cave. Harry wondered if he would have to find a way to put it out, but he soon decided it would take care of its self.
He looked down at Hermione sleeping peacefully against him. He didn’t know what it was, but he knew something was shifting between them. They were growing closer with every passing day, and he knew whatever this place had in store for them would only make their friendship stronger.
Letting out a sigh, he knew it was time to end the night and let these solitary moments fade with the passing night before he fell asleep as well. Harry gently touched her shoulder and shook her awake. Hermione awoke groggily and smiled at Harry.
“I fell asleep, didn’t I?”
Harry whispered, “Yeah, but we should head to bed before its too late. We have classes tomorrow, and what would everybody say if Hermione Granger were late for her first class?”
Hermione punched his arm playful but allowed him to help her up. She bade him goodnight and began to climb the stairs to the girls dormitory. Harry watched her until she had disappeared from view before climbing his own stairs, thinking about the warm, welcoming bed awaiting him at the top.
A/N: I’m not really sure who was more tired while I wrote this: Harry, Hermione or I. It’s rather a toss up, but once again, I’m pleasantly surprised by the results. You should all be grateful though as I considered to stop the scene almost immediately after he sat down. I decided it was way too short though, and I could not handle it. I had to keep going, and I think it turned out pretty spot on. I am a bit stuck now though, and I’d love to hear your thoughts. Originally, when I thought about expanding this, it was going to be a bunch of moments between Harry and Hermione at Hogwarts building their relationship. I was not originally planning five straight chapters of one story building off each other. I’m not really sure where I’m going now because of this. So are you okay with the moment idea? It’d just kind of skip forward in years and just show the moments building their relationship. Do you want me to continue with the traditional story format and see where it takes me? It’ll still focus heavily on their relationship. I just won’t be churning the chapters out once a week since I’ll have to actually sit down and plan a plot now. I really just would like to hear your thoughts. Feel free to share ideas or input on what you were hoping for, but I’d really appreciate you weigh in! Cheers!
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