“Is there such a thing as the Easter Bunny?” asked Hermione, sitting up abruptly.
It was an unseasonably warm and sunny Saturday in late March, and she, Harry and Neville had been laying in the Potter’s back yard, watching clouds, since her parents had dropped her off, just after lunch.
Neville pushed himself up with his elbows, a look of puzzlement on his face. “What’s the Easter Bunny?”
“I haven’t believed in the Easter Bunny since I was little,” Hermione answered, “But I thought that maybe since you were right about Father Christmas being real, and probably about him being a wizard as well... I just thought that I’d ask, just in case...”
Frustrated at her non-answer, Harry sat up.
“But what’s an Easter Bunny?” he repeated the question, annoyance seeping into his voice. “A bunny you get for Easter? We usually just get chocolate eggs. Mum and Dad hide them all over the house and yard for us to find.”
“No, no.” Hermione shook her head emphatically. Then, because the boys were still staring at her with blank expressions, she explained, “When I was little, my parents used to tell me that there was a talking, human-sized, bunny rabbit that delivered a basket full of Easter goodies to deserving little boys and girls. I left out carrots and lettuce for him. He didn’t leave any Easter chocolate, but there was an Easter themed picture book, and plastic Easter eggs filled with coins, and sugar-free sweets, and a glass rabbit figurine. But–”
“You’ve never had Easter chocolate!” exclaimed Harry.
Hermione frowned, but didn’t reply to his outburst. Why was he so surprised? Harry knew that her parents almost never let her have sweets, if they knew about it – it was why she’d kept her meagre Valentine sweet stash hidden in her desk at school, and rationed her supplies until she’d finally run out last week.
“But then,” she continued where she’d left off, “last year, there was no Easter Bunny at all, and we didn’t do anything special, except eat a fancy dinner...”
“But...but...” stuttered Neville, struggling to put his outrage into words.
“Don’t worry, we’ll share Easter chocolate with you,” Harry offered, “Won’t we, Neville?”
“Why don’t we just ask Lily to buy some for her too?” asked Neville; it wasn’t that he didn’t want to share, but…
“‘Cause Mum will just tell Hermione’s parents, and that won’t solve anything, since they don’t like sweets at all...” retorted Harry.
“Oh...” muttered Neville. He hadn’t considered that possibility. “Then, of course you can share my chocolate too, Hermione.”
“Anyways, to answer your question...” said Harry, bringing the conversation back to its starting point. “I’ve never heard of a magical bunny rabbit. The only magical creature, that I can think of, that’s as soft as the bunny rabbits we petted at the petting zoo is a Puffskein, but they don’t look anything like bunny rabbits. They’re round like balls, and they aren’t big like people at all, and I don’t think they talk. ‘Course there’s a lot of creatures that I don’t know about, so maybe we should ask Mum...”
“No, no need to ask your Mum.” answered Hermione, quashing her disappointment, as she lowered herself back down onto the grass, “If there was such a thing as the Easter Bunny, I’m sure she would have told you about it.”
“If you’re sure...” No answer.
Harry lay back down, only to pop back up, less than a minute later.
“Now you have me thinking about Easter! All the clouds look like bunny rabbits!” He turned to Neville, “Do you think Mum would let us decorate Easter eggs today? Even though Easter is still two weeks away?”
“I don’t know.” Neville sat up and shrugged, but the more he thought about it, the more he liked the idea. “Let’s ask! And maybe she’ll bake us some Easter biscuits too...”
“Come on, Hermione,” urged Harry
Hermione opened her mouth to object. Painting Easter eggs was boring.
She remembered the last time she’d decorated Easter eggs with her parents: drawing on the eggs with plain wax crayons, being extra careful not to crack them –and still winding up with sticky egg-white and yolk dripping all over her hands, half the time. Then, her parents had dipped the eggs into dye, and she’d watched as they came out of the dye stained a dull pale version of the colour dye used, except where the wax clung to the shells.
But before she could say so, Hermione found herself being dragged to her feet, by a boy on either side...
Painting Easter eggs with Lily was nothing like Hermione remembered doing with her parents.
To start with, the set of bright sparkling crayons Lily pulled out to use on the eggs was anything but plain. She’d also charmed the eggs to be unbreakable, so that there were no sticky messes, no danger in pressing hard enough for the crayons to really colour. And the dye…Hermione had never seen anything like the dye that Lily used on the eggs. They came out a sparkling kaleidoscope of bright colour, not pale or faded, at all.
Her last one was her favourite.
Hermione held it gingerly as she pulled it out of the dye. It was perfect.
She’d finally figured out the best way to draw with the magical crayons –not too hard or soft, nor too thick or too thin –and having experimented with all the colours already, she’d used all her favourites.
Across the kitchen table, covered in a mess of spilled dye and scattered crayons, Neville and Harry nudged each other and giggled, at her reaction. But, Hermione ignored them.
“It’s so beautiful!” She turned to Lily, who stood at the counter, icing egg-shaped sugar biscuits. “Do you think...?” she hesitated, bracing herself. “Do you think I can take one home? Or are they too obviously magical?”
“The egg will rot, if you leave it out...” answered Lily, unsure what to make of the request. They were just Easter eggs… A little fancier than what she’d made growing up in a Muggle house-hold, but still just Easter eggs... Surely, she’d have plenty more at home, by the time Easter rolled around...
“I know,” answered Hermione, swallowing her disappointment. She did know. It was silly, just a childish flitting fancy. She shouldn’t have asked.
Watching a frown form on the young girl’s face, Lily reconsidered her previous assessment. Hermione was usually so mature for her age, so precocious, that it was easy to forget that she was only six. Not so right now.
Right now, she looked her true age, as she so rarely did, like a disappointed little girl, trying her best to hide it. Lily felt a stirring at her heat-strings. She shouldn’t be so affected, but…
What could it hurt, to let her bring an egg home?
Before she could rethink her decision, Lily found herself saying, “I suppose I could drain the egg out of the shell, so that it will last longer, and cast a glamour to dull the colours to Muggle eyes, but I’ll have to take the unbreakable charm off it, so you’ll have to promise to be careful with it.”
One look at the renewed smile on the young witch’s face was enough to make the slight bending of the Statue of Secrecy worth it…
A/N: I’d like to thank my wonderful beta, Arnel, who went the extra mile to help me iron as many Americanisms as possible, out of this chapter.