Hermione was sitting idly on her bedroom floor, sifting through the package that Ron had sent. The package had been such a surprise, and it had warmed her heart that he had thought of her before he had even known about what had happened with her parents.
In the package were books from the library at Order Headquarters that Hermione was quite wary of looking at, a photo of Ron and Ginny, smiling up at her with Tonks tripping over her own feet in the background, and one of Buckbeak's feathers.
Her favourite though, was a fancy looking quill that Hermione was sure had been taken from Mrs. Black's desk. She remembered admiring it and asking Mrs. Weasley to test it for Dark Magic during that awful summer the year before. As it turned out, the quill was harmless. Now, it was Hermione's.
She had just been placing the quill back into the box when a small ball of feathers flew through her open window.
"Pig!" she cried exasperatedly, trying to pull the small owl from her hair. "Pig, give me that letter!"
As if he understood what she had said, Pigwidgeon fluttered down to perch himself on Hermione's knee, holding out his leg so she could remove the parchment attached to it. Almost absentmindedly, she took some left-over toast from the plate next to her and fed the owl as she unrolled Ron's letter with her other hand.
Your letter wasn't at all what I was expecting! I don't want to lie to you. I can't tell you it will be all right, Hermione, because I really don't know what's going on with your parents. I'm sorry, I wish I could say more to help you.
Hermione felt her heart drop to her stomach as she read her friend's opening paragraph. She sniffed back tears. If Ron couldn't help her--if he couldn't give her hope--then all was lost.
I can tell you some good news though. Ginny and me-
"-Ginny and I," Hermione murmured, before she ruefully shook her head.
-decided it would be good to get Mum involved, and she's "absolutely outraged" at the idea of "her Hermione" not coming to Burrow in the summer and getting on the Hogwarts Express with the rest of us on the first.
We're all going to do our very best to convince them to let you stay. Mum's written them a letter--with a pen and everything!--and is going to send it with the Muggle post. Hopefully, they'll agree to meet up with her at the Burrow. You can come and we can hang around outside and wait for Mum to work her magic.
No, I didn't mean that literally, Miss Granger. Get a grip.
Hermione allowed herself a chuckle, her first real one for a week, at the image of Ron writing that line with a mischievous glint in his eye.
Mum's not too keen on us leaving Headquarters, but we insisted and in the end it was two against one. She really can't say no to any of her kids when Ginny uses her charm.
Have you told Harry about this? He'd want to know, and besides, it might take his mind off everything else that has happened. You never know, this might work out well in a way. It could scare him into appreciating us again.
Summer here is dead boring. I'm going completely mental at Headquarters, Hermione, and I hope I'll be able to see you soon.
Hogwarts without Hermione Granger is like Harry Potter without his scar.
We'll work something out Hermione, I promise.
Hermione let herself fall back onto the floor, holding Ron's letter to her chest and allowing herself a small smile. He'd involved his mother, which meant that he cared. About her, and not about Harry's other best friend.
They had become closer over their fifth year, united in the single mission of not letting Harry wallow and treat them badly. Their conversations, though, seemed fairly limited to Harry, Quidditch and homework. Hermione found herself craving more.
It was a notion that had scared her initially, frightened her down to her toes. She liked Ron. They had spent a lot of the summer together at Grimmauld Place, and had started seeing each other as individuals. At least, Hermione had thought they had. Then, in their fifth year, she could not remember having a single fight with him. Not a real one.
Not like the one they'd had after the Yule Ball. Or the ones they had through most of their third year, for that matter.
Hermione giggled. She should have been mortified at what she had said to Ron that night, and she was sure she had been at the time. That whole argument, though, seemed to have changed their friendship entirely.
It was something she cherished now, especially with Harry being so sullen and defensive. Not that Hermione could blame him. He'd walked through hell at the end of the Triwizard Tournament, and again just weeks ago, but he'd survived. They all had.
Hermione was sure that all of them, all three of them, would continue surviving until the War ended–whenever that would be–and then, finally, they'd be allowed to live again.
Shaking herself from the mood that could easily have set itself inside her heart, Hermione read Ron's letter again. And again, until she found herself smiling like an idiot.
Frowning at the idea of being so girlie as to grin over a letter--one that had held not-so-good-news, no less--Hermione uncrossed her legs and turned to her bookshelf. She would study, something she hadn't been able to do in the week since her parents had told her about their decision.
Hermione looked again at the parchment, still clutched firmly in her hand. First she would write to Ron, and try not to spill out everything she was feeling for him at that moment. Then she would write to Harry, because he would want to know what was happening with his friends, as much as she hated to admit that Ron was right.
Only then would she study, because if Ron had anything to do with it, she would be going back to Hogwarts for their sixth year, whether her parents liked it or not, and she couldn't afford to fall behind. The thought alone terrified her.
A/N Thank you to Sarah (Cera) for making Hermione correct Ron's grammar and all the things you do every chapter, and to my beta Tari for my commas and dashes and all the things you do every chapter ;o)
A/N Thank you to everyone who has reviewed this so far. All your comments are greatly appreciated and make me smile!