Unofficial Portkey Archive

Always and Forever by Lorelover

Always and Forever


Always and Forever


Disclaimer: Harry Potter, and all the characters associated there with belong to JK Rowling, and Scholastic. Also, any similarities to any other work is unintentional. I make no profit from this story. I wrote it, just for fun.



Chapter 2

Parting Ways


Getting off the train at Kings Cross meant the official end to Harry Potter's third year. The mood was somber as Harry, Ron, and Hermione grabbed their trunks and make for the exit. Before they passed through the barrier to the Muggle side of London, Ron spotted his family. The sea of red hair was quickly becoming a large group, so with a promise to write he said a quick goodbye and was off. Once on the other side of the barrier, Hermione made Harry promise to write, and with a smile told him she'd do the same. The last couple of weeks they had spent a great deal of time together and now all too soon it was ending.

Hermione wasn't sure what made her do it, but it had felt right, so after a moment of just looking at each other, she stretched up on her toes and gave Harry a quick kiss on the cheek. "Bye Harry, remember, you promised to write," Hermione said with a shy smile, then reluctantly turned and started for her parents.

"Bye," was all Harry could get out. `She just kissed me, Hermione just kissed me,' the thought keep repeating itself in Harry's head. He brought his hand up and touched his cheek, smiling, he watched her walk away. Harry had never been kissed before, not by anyone. He was sure his parents had kissed him, but of course, he couldn't remember that far back. It was a strange feeling, although not unpleasant, just the opposite in fact. It…warmed him, made him feel special. He never realized until now, how important they could be, if given at the right time, and to the right person…like now.

"Hurry up boy, I haven't got all day, get your crap and get a move on." At the sound of his uncle's voice, Harry's smile quickly faded, and after gathering his crap, he turned for the car. Vernon Dursley's tone was so harsh and loud several people turned and stared, including Hermione, who while watching, saw Vernon, who was impatient with Harry's pace, give him a shove forward almost knocking him down. Hermione wanted to run over and give him a piece of her mind, but realized it would probably only make matters worse. She waited until they were out of sight, then with damp eyes slowly turned and ran to meet her parents.

Hermione's mum Emma, couldn't help but notice her daughter's sad look as she came over to meet her, and her husband, even though she had hidden it quickly with a smile. "Mum, Dad!" she yelled, running the last little way to reach them.

"Hello pumpkin," her dad said as he wrapped her in a big hug.

"Hi dad" she replied with just a tiny bit less enthusiasm than normal. Emma was watching her daughter a little more carefully now. Finally, Hermione let go of her dad and turned to her mum, "Hi mum." Mother and daughter shared a long embrace.

"Hi honey, it's so good to see you again." As they pulled apart Emma added, "How was term, and more importantly, how are you?"

"Good, and I'm fine." Hermione could see her mother was not convinced. Knowing her mum must have seen her earlier, plus the fact she was pretty perceptive about things, Hermione continued, "I'm fine mum really, it's just I'm a little sad for a friend of mine, he always has a terrible summer." Seeing the look her parents were sharing, she explained further, "Its Harry, you remember him, I wrote about him in some of my letters. Anyway, he lives with his aunt and uncle, and they hate magic, so they hate him." Emma did in fact, remember a certain boy named Harry Potter, as Hermione had written about him in not just some of her letters, but in every single one of them.

"Oh, the poor dear" her mother said softly.

Her father also had a look of concern in his eyes, but finally said, "Well I don't suppose there is much to be done about it here and now, best be getting on."

During the ride home, Hermione told her parents all about her last term, leaving out some of the more dangerous parts of course, as she didn't want to upset them. After arriving home in good spirits, Hermione took her things up to her room. She had let Crookshanks out, who immediately checked the room to see if it was still the same, and satisfied that it was, he curled up on the bed for a nap. As she was putting the last of her stuff away, Hermione thought back to last year.

Hermione had just called the werewolf, to lure it away from the other Harry, and now it was coming right for them.

"Hermione, why'd you do that?"

"To save your hide," she answered him.

"Yea but now it's after us!"

"Right, hadn't thought of that."

"RUN!" Harry yelled, grabbing her hand. They took off running into the forest as fast as they could, but they were no match for the speed of a werewolf, and it caught them very quickly. Even though they had both known it was Professor Lupin, they also knew he would kill them in his present form. Catching them, Lupin the werewolf had them trapped. As a werewolf, he stood almost eight feet tall on his hind legs, and was now looking down, snaring at a trembling Hermione. Holding on to Harry, she turned away from the beast and buried her head in his chest unable to watch anymore. As Lupin slowly moved towards them, Harry pushed Hermione behind him and stepped forward slightly shielding her. "NO!" shouted Harry, "me, fight me." The werewolf turned his gaze towards Harry, and lunged forward, his jaws open and claws out, he was ready to rip him apart. But just before the werewolf could reach its prey, Buckbeak appeared, seemingly out of nowhere. He jumped over Harry and drove Lupin back, and then chased him off.

A lot had happened very quickly after that and Hermione really hadn't had a chance to think much about it. Now as she sat on her bed remembering back to that night, she realized she had been truly terrified, all Hermione had wanted to do was save the other Harry, so she did something very uncharacteristic. She had just acted without thinking things through, as there hadn't been any time. Then suddenly they were running for their lives. Thankfully, they had ran back towards Buckbeak, and he had saved the two of them from what would have been most certainly, a gruesome death. However, the best part, the part that put a smile on Hermione's face, was the fact that Harry had tried to defend her, at least the best he could under the circumstances. No one had ever put their life on the line like that for her before, except Harry. `He was trying to protect me,' the thought taking a little time to sink in. That was the second time he'd put himself between her and a monster.


For Harry the ride home, if you could call the house on Privet Drive a home, was the same as always. His uncle would mutter something about freaks, or curse at another diver for some unseen infraction, while never saying a word to the boy in the back seat. Harry just tried to ignore him and sat quietly so as not to irritate him any more than he already was. Since no one was talking, it made for a very long ride back. Harry couldn't help but think back to the last year at school and Sirius. Oh how he wished he was going home with him instead. Thinking about Sirius and the rescue, lead him to remember what happened when he and Hermione had first found Sirius Black while going after Ron.

They were all in the shrieking shack still unaware of Sirius's innocence. Hermione stepped up next to Harry's side, her wand at the ready, "If you are going to try and kill Harry, you'll have to fight me too."

Harry could still hear the intensity and determination in her voice, although she had been scared, she wasn't going to let anything happen to him without a fight. It was a side of Hermione you rarely got to see, and it would make any Gryffindor proud. He was sure Ron hadn't noticed, but he most certainly had. Where she found the courage, Harry wasn't sure, but Merlin help anyone who thought she was bluffing. Harry was rudely brought out of his musings by his uncle Vernon.

"I said, Hurry up boy."

Harry snapped out of it, and quickly got out of the car. "Yes sir," he acknowledged, then grabbing his trunk and Hedwig, he made his way upstairs to the relative safety of his room.

After making dinner and cleaning the kitchen, Harry was back up in his room. He had put all his things away and had let Hedwig out for the night, so there wasn't much left to do. Lying on his bed starring at the ceiling, Harry was trying to get his thoughts in order. `Let's see I think this summer since I'm stuck here anyway, I'll do myself a favor and try to make the most of my time.' The last few days Harry had spent a fair amount of time thinking about his life. Where he was going, what he had done. After all that had happened last year, he knew he had to make some changes, life was too short. Even with the help of Hermione's Time-Turner, they barely were able to save Sirius, not to mention themselves, they just were not prepared enough. With all that in mind, Harry got up and went over to his desk to make a list.

Do all my Homework.

Read ahead for next year.

`That should make Hermione happy,' Harry mused. Truth of it was, without her help last year he wouldn't have got nearly as good of grades as he did. `Next year I'll show her my thanks by being better prepared, and I'll try and work harder too,' He thought.

Try to work out, get/stay in shape.

Read a non school book for fun.

Write regularly to my friends.

With that last though, Harry decided to write both Ron and Hermione now to see what their plans were for the summer. Setting aside the list and getting a fresh piece of parchment, Harry started on his first letter. Knowing Ron wasn't much for letters, he kept it short.




Hey mate, hope you made it home safely, say hi to everyone for me alright. Well, this is just a quick note to let you know that I made it back to the Dursleys okay. Also I was wondering what your plans are for the summer, write back when you know. Well, got to go, bye.




Dear Hermione,

Hi, how are you, did you get home alright? (I know it's only been one day, but I wanted to write you). And how is your family, I trust all is well. Also I was wondering what your plans are for the summer, are you going on holiday with your mum and dad, and if so when will you be home, so I know when to write. Well I'm back at the Dursleys, and they haven't changed a bit, well maybe Vernon and Dudley; they do look a little larger, if you can believe that. Now on to a more positive note, I plan to make the most of my time this summer. You'll be pleased to know, don't laugh, I've made a list. I plan on getting all my homework done early so I have time to read ahead for next year. Maybe if you have time you can check some of it for me, that is if you want to of course. Also I might read a non school book just for fun. I don't know how much free time I'll have for that, but I do know I have to stay busy, or I might just go bonkers. I'm going to try and work something out with Vernon. If you can think of something I might like, do you think you could loan it to me, I promise I'll take special care of it. Anyway that's all for now, write back when you can.

Your Friend,




After Harry finished the letters, he rolled them up and waited patiently for Hedwig to return so he could send them off. While he waited, it was only a matter of time before his thoughts drifted back to Sirius and what life would be like living with him. Harry didn't really know him personally, but he felt as if he could trust him. In the short time they had spent together Harry could tell how much Sirius cared for him, and he looked forward to the day when his name was cleared, and they could see each other again.

Hedwig finally returned and the sight of her instantly brightened Harry's mood. He gave her some water and stroked her feathers affectionately. Hedwig danced a little on her perch and made a soft clicking sound, happy for the attention. "Hey girl if you don't mind I have two letters for you, do you feel up to it now?" Harry asked, he didn't want her to go if she was too tired from hunting. Hedwig appreciated the concern and was fine with going now. So she flew over to Harry's desk, and gave him a nudge with her head and stuck out her leg as if to say, well what are you waiting for? Harry chuckled "Okay girl, thanks, take this one to Ron first, then go to Hermione. You can stay the night if you want because she might want to reply back." As Harry finished tying the letters to Hedwig, he added, "Plus I'm going to sleep now anyway. I'll leave the window open for you either way." Hedwig nipped his finger affectionately then flew off into the night.

Unlike Ron who decided to read Harry's letter a bit later, Hermione was excited to get a letter from Harry so soon. Eager to sit down and read it, she quickly thanked Hedwig and made sure that she had plenty of water, and a few owl treats. "Thank you Hedwig, do you mind staying a while so I can send Harry a letter back?" Hedwig flew over to the perch Hermione had bought for her, and settled down. She clicked her beak softly, closed her eyes and quickly went to sleep. After reading Harry's letter, Hermione was still too excited to sleep and was trilled Harry wanted to do his homework early. But what really made her happy was that he valued her opinion enough to ask for a recommendation on an extra book to read. Not wanting to wait, Hermione sat down and wrote Harry back.



Dear Harry,

I'm so glad you got home safely. Yes, I was a little surprised to get a letter so soon, but I was happy to get it none the less. First, yes we are going on holiday, but I don't know where or when yet. I'm sure mum and dad will till me early enough so I can make plans, and as soon as I know, I'll write and tell you.

Now then, I think your plans to stay busy this summer are absolutely brilliant, although I hope you manage to find some time to have a little fun also. Maybe for your birthday, or near the end of summer we could spend a day together and do something. Harry, you have to know that I would be very happy to look over your homework, though I'm sure it'll be fine. And as for a book to read, let me think on that for a day or two. I know several that I think you would like, but I'd like to send the best.

Well it's getting late, so I better be off to bed. Hedwig looks like she is planning on spending the night, so I'll send this first thing in the morning.

Your friend,


P.S. I know you're probably thinking how great it would be to live with a big black dog, and I don't blame you, as I'm sure it would be, but try not to let it get you down.



With nothing further to say, Hermione checked her letter over one last time, then sat it aside on her desk. After changing for bed, and making sure Hedwig was alright, she turned down the covers of her bed and crawled in. Lying in the dark, Hermione thought about how much she loved her parents and missed them when she was away at school, but summer did tend to get a little lonely, especially now that she had friends. Even now after three years she still sometimes had trouble believing anyone wanted to be her friend. `Your Friend Harry,' Hermione though as she remembered his letter. Sure she had other friends now too, but Harry had been her first real friend, and somehow she knew he would always be, her best friend. `Maybe this summer will turn out better than I first thought,' and with that thought running through her head, she closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep.


The following day while Harry was working in the back garden he came up with an idea. Considering how little the Dursleys had let him eat at breakfast it was obvious he would never get into better shape or even stay in the shape he was in now. `I'll write Gringotts and see if they're able to send me some Muggle money,' Harry thought, that way he could buy his own food. As Harry finished working in the garden, he continued to think through his plans for the summer.

As Harry was finishing up with the kitchen after dinner, he thought now would be as good as time as any. Normally, Vernon's mood didn't get any better than right after he had eaten, like a fat lazy dog, it was the best time to approach him.

"Uncle Vernon can I have a moment," Harry tried to keep his voice light.

After a nasty glance up at Harry for his audacity Vernon barked, "Make it quick boy."

Trying to be as polite as possible in hopes that it would improve his chances, "Well sir, as part of my summer studies this year I need to be outside… I know how you feel about me and the neighbors, and ah… well you know." Harry took a quick breath, "Anyway I thought, if I had a little more free time, I could do my work at the park, or even a few rows over."

Twisting around so as to give Harry the full effect of his outrage, he bellowed, "MORE TIME, just what exactly do they want you to do, and, AND WHAT OF YOUR CHORES?"

"It's nothing to do with magic, nothing freaky, it's kind of like biology, observing nature, that sort of thing." Harry knew his uncle's real concern were the chores and keeping his wife happy, that meant not letting the neighbors see anything that could be thought of as out of place. "And of course, my chores would come first; I'll make the extra time if you'll allow me to be gone longer."

Timing was everything; Vernon's favorite show was about to start. Knowing how much his uncle enjoyed the tele, he had finished right on time. Not being able to find fault in his nephews request and not wanting to miss anything… "Fine" came his reluctant answer.

After a quick thank you, Harry made hast to his room; he had several letters to write. Satisfied with the outcome of what would be the first of several negotiations, he sat down at his desk and got to work.


It was becoming a normal routine; he would get up early and do his chores outside for an hour and a half, then come in and take a shower before going downstairs to prepare breakfast. Afterwards, it was back to the rest of his chores for the day. He found that if he worked nonstop, he could normally be done by ten and then have the rest of the day to himself.

Harry would run to the park, sometimes taking a roundabout way of getting there to make his run longer. After a short cool down, he'd work out for about an hour or two, Later, on his way home, Harry would stop by the local grocery store and buy the necessary food items to make enough healthy meals to last him until his next visit to the park. Finally, after returning home he would spend the rest of the day reading and working on his summer school work.

It was two days later, and Harry had only just come back from the park as he liked to call it. Harry decided to write Hermione, and tell her all about his new schedule, and his fresh eating habits.

Reaching his room, he found Hedwig waiting for him with a letter. "Hello girl, got something for me" Hedwig cocked her head as if to say, "I can't believe you just asked me that," and stuck out her leg clearly not in the same good mood her master was in. "Okay…"

To show him she wasn't really upset, Hedwig clicked her beak and patiently waited for him to untie the letter. Harry checked to make sure she had plenty of water, and gave her a treat, then sat down eager to see who it was from. The neat and nearly perfect scroll told him immediately, it was from Hermione. With a smile he didn't even know he was wearing, Harry sat down.



Dear Harry,

I've decided you're right! Wizards are lazy; they rely on their magic entirely too much. So I'm copying a page out of your play book… I've started working out also. Mostly calisthenics and some running, I want to get into shape, not get all muscle-bound. Mum says I'm mental, but dad thinks it's great. He also had a good idea… Karate. I've already checked around and guess what? There's a school only five blocks from you, but the best part is, there's a sister school run by the same instructor, that's close to my house. His name is Kim, he's Korean. I told him about our situation (nothing about magic of course) and on Fridays, he teaches at both places. He said he would be happy to give one of us a ride one way, and I think I can get my dad to help with the ride back. I'm including his brochure so you can check it out yourself. Harry I really hope you can find a way to attend, we could take a few classes together, wouldn't that be great! Let me know what you think. On another subject, I got your transfiguration paper, but haven't had time to go over it properly yet… sorry. But don't worry, it's on my high-priority list. Also my parents have decided we're going to France for holiday. The bad news is, we're leaving next week, the good news is, we're only going for a week and a half. That's pretty short for us, but it seems they're even busier than me. I should be home by the fiftieth. Well I'm glad you're eating better, maybe Molly won't try to stuff you into a coma later. Hedwig is starting to give me the eye, so I best end it here. Looking forward to seeing you before school starts.

Your friend always,




Harry smiled, she was always thinking of ways to make things better for him. And it didn't go unnoticed how she had signed this letter. Harry was pretty sure it didn't mean anything special, just that she hoped they would always be friends. As far as Harry was concerned, he felt the same way.


Hermione had only just finished packing for their trip, as they were leaving the next day, when Hedwig showed up with a letter from Harry. "Hermione, Dinner," her mum called from downstairs. "In a sec mum," she answered back, anxious to read what he had written. Dinner could wait.



Dear Hermione,

I think it's great you're working out and running and all. Not that I thought you needed it mind you, but everyone could stand to be in better condition. I suppose I should shut my mouth and quit before I say something stupid, or am I too late? I know it's only been a short while since I started myself, but I can already feel the difference. I'm beginning to like it, and I find myself looking forward to it. And I really feel better too. Also be sure to thank your dad for the great idea, I met Mr. Kim, He's brilliant. By the way, he said you're an excellent student. Of course I told him you're excellent at everything. I'll be working with him Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays. And I'd love to take classes with you on Fridays as well, even if your dad can't give you or me a ride, I could always take the Knight Bus. Let's see what else… oh yea, don't worry about my schoolwork, I'm sure you're very busy right now. And thanks for the book I'm actually, really enjoying it. I also couldn't help noticing some parallels. Who would have thought, Harry Potter reading for fun!

Well, I got to go, let me know when you're back and when we might be able to meet up.

Your friend,




Hermione was ecstatic, not only was Harry learning karate like her, but he also liked the book she'd sent him. And now all she had to do was get her mum or dad to help with the transportation, and she'd be able to see him a couple of times this summer.

She almost literally bounced down the stairs and floated into the kitchen for dinner. As Hermione sat down her mother studied her, the rather large smile on her face not going unnoticed. Something was different this year, and Emma had a pretty good suspicion as to the cause of her daughters greatly improved moods. She was much happier, a spring to her step, and the spark in her eyes was brighter. "Someone's in a good mood… and you're late to dinner," Hermione's father added with a smile of his own, so she'd know he wasn't really mad at her.

Hermione blushed slightly, "Right, sorry mum, dad… I'd just got a letter from Harry and I… well I just wanted to read it real quick, that's all." She finished in a rush after seeing the shared look pass between her parents.

"Isn't that the third one this week?" Emma knew her daughter was starting to have `those' kinds of feelings for her best friend. She also knew Hermione didn't know it yet. She had always had a very hard time when it came to friends her own age. Emma knew Harry was her first real friend, and while she never told Hermione, she was glad he was such a good one… still she couldn't help but to tease a little.

Hermione looked back and forth between her parents and saw the mirth in their eyes. She decided to play along, "Hmm… well yes I think your right…only three… what a shame; I thought he liked me."

"Yes a genuine tragedy, what shall you do," her dad sighed straight faced, although it was obvious he was on the verge of laughing.

Hermione saw her chance, "Exactly, a tragedy… but I just know you'll help, won't you daddy?"

Seeing the overly exaggerated fake plea for help on her face, he answered too soon, "Of course pumpkin, anything." Her mum smiled and shook her head; he'd never learn.

"That's wonderful daddy. I knew you would! I think I need to see him face to face, you know in person. If you could drive me to Surrey, I could share a karate class with him, and Mr. Kim could bring me home… that's after holiday of course."

Dan caught by surprise, glanced at his wife who was laughing out right now, and managed a confused, "What… wait, what just happened?"

Taking pity on him, Emma got up and went to her husband and wrapped her arms around him, "Why honey, you just prevented a tragedy of course!


Harry sat at his desk thinking, Hermione had been gone for a week now, "She'll be back soon girl, so I'm going to write her a letter," He said to Hedwig. "I'll send another letter to Ron also; we'll see if he answers this one." Judging by the look Hedwig was giving him, even she knew it was a waste of time. "I know girl, but since you're going to Hermione's anyway, why not?"

After finishing a quick letter to Ron, Harry sat back down to compose his letter to Hermione. He wanted it to be there waiting for her when she got home.



Dear Hermione,

I've missed writing you. I know it's only been a little over a week, but it feels like more. So, how was your holiday, how was France? By the way, is that the first time you've been there? What did you do? Do you speak French? Sorry, guess I have a lot of questions. You know it occurs to me, that even though I have known you for three years, there is so much I don't know about you. Like what is your favorite song, or what your favorite color is? I don't know what my favorite song would be, since I never get to listen to music, but my favorite colors are red and gold, like Gryffindor. Anyway, I've been working hard to get ahead, and I'm looking forward to having some fun later. Also, I wrote Ron again, but he still hasn't answered. I don't know if he's too busy or just plain lazy. Interesting choice of reading you sent me, and yes, so far I think it's brilliant. Oh I almost forgot, what do you say about a karate class together next Friday, the twenty second? Well that's about it, write back soon, and tell me all about your trip.

Your friend,




"Well that's it for tonight girl I'm turning in, I'll send these letters tomorrow. I'll leave the window open for you tonight, so you can come back when you want, okay?"

Hedwig clicked her beak, and then watched her master slide into bed and close his eyes, before hopping over to the window sill. With one last look to make sure he was going to be okay, Hedwig took flight into the dark night.


Early the following night after Harry had finished his shower; he sat in his room and got ready to send his mail. As he tied the letters to Hedwig, he gave her instructions, "Okay girl, take this one to Ron first, you can give it to anyone at the Burrow so don't wait around. Then go to Hermione's and wait for her to return. I don't really know when they will get home." Harry paused a moment and studied Hedwig. She in turn thought he was challenging her to a staring contest, so she turned both Amber eyes on him. She'd never lost a staring contest yet, and Hedwig wasn't going to lose tonight either. "You know girl, you might have to wait a long time, and I don't want you to get hungry or anything," Harry started, breaking the mood. "Can you hunt with a letter?" Hedwig nipped his finger and bobbed her head. Harry smiled at the affection, "Okay, then wait as long as you can, but if it gets to be too much, just come back home, and will try again some other time." Hedwig gave a click of her beak and took off for the long flight to the Burrow.


Hedwig reached her first destination just after sunrise, and found Ron's bedroom window open. Swooping in, she landed on his bedside table. Ron was fast asleep, but that didn't stop Hedwig from trying to wake him. She clicked her beak rather noisily, next, she tried pecking him softly, then a little harder.

"Oy…what…Hedwig!" Ron snapped barely awake, "it's only just light out, give a guy a break." Ron laid his head back down and rolled over ignoring Hedwig, "Ruddy owl," he mumbled into his pillow.

Hedwig hopped on the bed, nipped Ron's ear a little harder than necessary, then using his head as a launching pad, she took flight. Downstairs she maneuvered into the kitchen where she found Molly just starting breakfast.

A few minutes later after being relieved of Ron's letter, and having a bit of bacon and some water, Hedwig hurried out the window and was on her way east.


It was nearly five o'clock in the evening by the time the Grangers drove up their drive. The whole family was quite tired from the trip, and therefore, very happy to be home. Hermione in particular, seemed to get a second wind as she opened the car door. Dan glanced at Emma, and could tell she had noticed as well, neither had to guess where the sudden energy had come from nor why.

Hermione was first out of the car and halfway to the door when she heard it. A faint hoot seemingly meant only for her ears, a hoot she'd know anywhere. Freezing in place, Hermione looked up and searched the nearby trees. There, on a lower branch of the tree closest to her bedroom window sat a beautiful white owl.

"Hedwig! I'll be right there." Leaving her bags forgotten on the walk, she ran to the house and unlocked the door. As quickly as she could, she made her way upstairs and into her room, and opened the window. Hedwig wasted no time either, and immediately flew in landing on her perch. Hermione hurried over, "Hello Hedwig, what a wonderful surprise," she beamed, "you have a letter for me girl?" Hedwig stuck out her foot; she was probably just as anxious to get rid of the letter, as Hermione was to receive it. Her rush to untie it was interrupted by soft laughter behind her. Turning around, she found both her parents standing in her doorway, each holding one of her bags.

"Told you," her dad said smiling to his wife. Dan sat the bag down and started back downstairs. "I'll get the rest brought in." He said over his shoulder.

Setting the other bag down next to the first, Emma came in and sat on Hermione's bed. "Well, since we helped carry in your luggage, it's only fair that you help with dinner." Although Hermione's mum was tired, she couldn't help but have a little fun with her daughter, "That is of course… after you're finished reading Harry's letter."

Hermione responded indignantly, "Mum! You don't even know if it's from Harry."

"Right, let's see; snowy owl, check, giddy daughter, check. Yep, it's from Harry all right."


"All right, all right… look, take care of Hedwig and read the letter, then be down in the kitchen in fifteen minutes to help, okay?"

"Thanks mum."

Emma stood up to leave, then turning to Hedwig, "I do hope they're not wearing you out dear." Emma could have sworn, that Hedwig shook her head no.


Knowing they'd be too tired to cook dinner, they had stopped on their way home and picked up some takeout. After Hermione had finished setting out the plates and utensils, she pulled out a chair and was about to sit down when, her father asked, "So, when are we going to meet this Harry Potter chap, proper like?"

Hermione noticed the smiles on both of her parents faces, "Well, how about next Friday after karate," she suggested with a straight face.

Her mum just raised an eyebrow, suspecting there was more planning behind this than just a random date.

"Next Friday?" The mirth was suddenly gone from her father's eyes.

"Yes, Friday the twenty-second. Kim can bring Harry here in the early afternoon, so he can join me in class. Then maybe we can bring him over here for a bit, before you drive him home."

Dan glanced at his wife who was smiling at his predicament. Turning back to his daughter, "Yes, I think perhaps that might be a good idea." Dan was now wearing a smile of his own, although to Hermione, it looked more like a sneer. Yes, Dan thought he would very much like to meet this boy.

Hermione was quick to pick up on his change of mood. "Daddy, promise you'll be nice."

"Of course pumpkin; just a friendly chat… get to know each other… you know."


After dinner and unpacking, Hermione sat down and wrote Harry back. She told him, that yes she did speak French fairly well, and yes she'd been there many times before. She told him briefly about where they had gone on this particular trip, and that they all had a good time. She also told him, that she too had missed his letters, and was glad to be home. My favorite color by the way, is blue, but I'm also partial to green, she wrote. Hermione went on to say she wasn't sure about a favorite song, and then asked what his favorite Muggle desert was, because she already knew what he liked at Hogwarts. The last thing she said in her letter, was to confirm next Fridays meeting, and to invite him over for dinner as well.


Harry wiped the sweat from his eyes, besides being hot outside, he was in a hurry. As soon as he was finished with his chores, Harry wanted a quick shower, then he'd be off to the park. Today, Harry was going to the small group of shops nearby to try and find some better clothes to wear. Harry was meeting Hermione's parents tonight. Of course he had met them before very briefly at Kings Cross, but tonight he would meet them formally. Being invited to dinner after class, Harry wanted to make a good first impression.

Later wearing his brand new clothes, Harry made his way towards the dojo where he would meet Kim, and together they would go to Kim's other dojo by Hermione's house. In his backpack slung over his shoulder Harry carried his other new things, plus his workout clothes, and a small package wrapped in plain brown paper.

"Ah Harry, right on time, thank you," Master Kim said, with a slight bow.

Harry returned the bow, "You're welcome sir." Harry then went and sat against the far wall, legs crossed. This was what you did when you entered Kim's dojo, you waited for him, the master, to instruct you… even, if it was only when to get up to leave.

A short while later, Kim and Harry walked into the dojo by Hermione's house. Harry obediently started over towards the wall and was about to sit down in the ready position when Kim addressed him, "Mr. Potter, what do you think of my other dojo?" He said gesturing around the room.

Harry stood and looked around, it seemed almost identical to him, only a few small differences. "The room looks the same sir. Maybe some of the pictures and such might be different, that's all I can see for now."

Kim walked up, and stood a few feet in front of Harry. "So… same room… same teacher… same student. What else the same Harry?"

Harry shifted uneasily, was this some sort of test? "Well, ah… it would make sense that the class lessons would be the same sir."

"I agree, what else?"

Harry racked his brains for a minute, then answered, "Rules... ah the rules of conduct should be the same."

Kim smiled, "Very good Mr. Potter. You will be sharing class, not only with Miss Granger, but with twenty-one other students. Rules… good for all."

Harry bowed slightly at the waist, "Yes sir," and sat down.

Master Kim liked young Harry, and he liked Miss Granger too, in fact, he liked most of his students. He was only making sure that Harry knew he would not tolerate any boy girl fooling around, at least not during class.

It was almost two o'clock, and the first of the other students started to show up. Not surprisingly, Hermione was the very first one to come in. She stepped through the doorway and stopped, facing the empty classroom she bowed. It was kind of funny, seeing as the classroom was still empty, but that was the way she was taught; it was the proper way to enter Kim's dojo. Hermione then turned towards Harry, beaming, it must have taken all her willpower not to run over to him.

As she neared, Harry stood again, and although not necessary, he bowed to her. "Hello Miss Granger," he said in a very formal voice.

Momentarily taken back, Hermione froze. Then, noticing the tiniest of smirks on his face, she returned the bow, "Hello Mr. Potter." Straightening back up, she saw him smiling. Unable to resist any longer, Hermione almost leapt the last few feet and pulled Harry into a tight hug. A second later, a surprised Harry returned the embrace.

"Oh Harry, it's so good to see you again. I'm awfully glad you could make it here today."

"Me too," replied Harry, as they both sat down to wait for class to start. "And it's great to see you so soon also. Although to be honest, I am a bit nervous about tonight.

Hermione couldn't keep the smile off her face, "Don't be silly Harry, I'm sure once they get to know you, they'll like you… you'll see."

The class work was on simple punches, and their counter blocks. Kim had paired up all the students, and of course he put Harry and Hermione with each other. "If you must fight together, then you must practice together." He told Harry, after he had expressed concern about hurting her.

They were halfway through the lessons when it happened. Hermione had thrown a punch with the right hand. Harry countered by sidestepping, then blocking with his left arm, while at the same time reaching across with his right hand and grabbing her forearm and pulling. The move was fairly advanced, and required perfect timing. If done correctly your attacking opponent was pulled off balance, and put in a poor defensive position. Unfortunately for Harry, he hadn't moved fast enough, and got tangled up with Hermione as she stumbled forward. Both lost their balance, Harry falling backwards, and Hermione forward. Harry wrapped his arms around her as they fell in an attempt to hold her in place to cushion her fall. Hermione pulled both her arms in front of her and grab hold of Harry's robes, trying to hold him up. The final result was two very red-faced students. Harry ended up flat on his back, with Hermione lying on top of him. To the rest of the class, their position on the floor together looked rather cozy.

Too shocked to move, they both just stayed still, lying there. It was Harry who finally smiled and said, "Remind you of anything?"

Hermione gasped, "Harry James!"

Harry laughed as he rolled her off to the side, "Hermione, get your mind out of the gutter, I was talking about the tunnel… under the Whomping Willow?"


Hermione had just let go of Harry as the angry willow whipped them about. Harry landed with a thud flat on his face. Groaning, Harry rolled over on his back to set up. The timing couldn't have been better, or worse depending on your point of view. No sooner had Harry finished rolling over, than Hermione came flying into the tunnel, landing right on top of him, face to face.

Both were blushing like crazy, because of the darkness of the tunnel, and the intimate position they were in. If anyone had seen them, they would surely have suspected the worst. Next, Hermione discovered there was just no way to get off a boy in this position in a lady-like manner. Fortunately, the seriousness and urgency of finding Ron kept her embarrassment to a minimum.


While Harry helped her up, a blushing Hermione sheepishly replied, "Oh…of course."

Harry smirked, "Just what did you think I meant?"

Swatting his arm playfully, a smiling red-faced Hermione said, "Harry, stop!"

Before their little verbal game could continue, a mildly amused Master Kim walked by and said in passing without even looking at them, "Rules, Mr. Potter."

Harry cleared his throat, "Yes sir." Looking back at Hermione, he immediately started smiling again. He really liked having fun with her, and judging by the smile on her face, she felt the same way.

Later with the fun over, and both back to work, Harry started to get edgy. The closer they came to the end of class the more nervous Harry got. "Relax Harry you are doing fine," Hermione whispered.

Harry returned a weak smile and nodded. Hermione had mistaken his case of nerves as having something to do with his performance in class. Harry knew the real reason though; it was what he'd be doing after class that had him rattled.

The class returned the bow to Kim, "Class dismissed," came his gentle voice, followed by a clap of his hands.

As they and the rest of the students filed out the door, Hermione spotted her father, "Daddy! Hi, have you been waiting long… oh this is Harry Potter, you remember him don't you?" then turning to Harry, "Harry, this is my father, Daniel Granger."

Dan's smile grew as he greeted his daughter, "Hi pumpkin, and no, not long." Dan Granger then turned his smile to Harry; he would be nice for now, for his daughter's sake. "Hello Harry, it's a pleasure to finally meet you."

Harry stepped forward a little and took Dan's offered hand. "Hello Mr. Granger, thank you for having me over." Harry took a quick glance over at Hermione. Her eyes slightly moist, making them seem to sparkle; they gave away her happiness. Harry couldn't help but smile, his nerves fading a bit. This was worth it. He rather liked seeing her happy.

In that brief moment, while he was shaking Harry's hand, Dan Granger looked into the young boy's eyes. What he saw, surprised him a little. Fear for sure, but then again, what thirteen-year-old boy wouldn't be afraid of a girl's father. Dan also saw honesty; he liked that. What really caught his attention though, was how much older his eyes looked, as if he'd seen more than a normal thirteen-year-old should have at his age. It was far too early to tell just what kind of young man Harry Potter was, but for the moment, he appeared to be a good lad. Even though his fatherly instincts were yelling at him, he decided to give the boy a chance, but at the first sign of trouble…he silently promised himself, he'd step in and do whatever was necessary to protect his daughter.

It seemed the short car ride home was more than enough to recharge Hermione's batteries, as she practically burst from the car as soon as they had stopped. "Come on Harry!" She was so excited. "I want to show you around, oh, and you have to meet my mum of course!"

Harry glanced at a chuckling Mr. Granger, who only shrugged his shoulders at his daughter's enthusiasm. Harry barely had time to smile back, before being pulled towards the house. It occurred to him that this was so typical of Hermione, eager to learn, but also eager to share, whether it be knowledge, or something personal.

"Mum, we're back. Where are you?" Hermione yelled as soon as they were through the front door.

Mrs. Granger had just finished putting some last-minute touches on dinner when she heard Hermione callout. After drying her hands, she turned around at the same time Hermione ran into the kitchen. "Hi honey," Emma started, before turning to Harry, "and who is this strapping young man?"

Harry almost turned around to see who she was talking about. Suddenly, the kitchen seemed a little warm.

"Mum! You know right well this is Harry Potter. Harry, this is my mum, Emma Granger… who loves taking the mickey out of me."

"Hello Mrs. Granger, thank you for having me to dinner." Harry smiled, not nearly as nervous with her as he had been with Hermione's father.

"Oh Harry dear, that will never do. Please call me Emma… you don't want me to feel old now do you?"

"No ma'am, er Mrs.… Emma." Harry was turning red again. "Sorry, that will take some getting used to."

Emma laughed, "No problem Harry, I'm a patient woman." Turning back to Hermione, "Why don't you show Harry around dear, before…" she hadn't even finished her sentence before whirlwind Hermione turned and pulled a surprise Harry away. Emma raised an eyebrow, then smiled. She loved seeing her daughter happy. Hermione had never been this enthusiastic or pleased about a friend coming over before. Sadly, this was probably the first time that one came over because they wanted to.


After giving Harry a quick tour of the upstairs, Hermione stopped in front of the door to her room. "Lastly, this is my room Harry," Hermione said lightly. Since both were still wearing their karate robes she added, "Why don't you go back to the bathroom and change, I'll change in my room, and wait there for you. Just knock when you get back, okay?"

Hermione was finally slowing down. Harry nodded okay and headed back down the hall to change.

A short while later Harry stood outside her door, and after knocking softly called out, "Hermione, are you decent?"

Her muffled reply filtered through the door, "One sec Harry," a moment later the door opened. Hermione pulled it open all the way. "Welcome to my room Harry, you can come in, but we have to leave the door open of course. It's the proper thing to do when a girl has a boy in her room, and they are not married yet." Hermione stopped suddenly. She hadn't meant to say yet, it just slipped out.

Harry turned towards her to find she had turned red and had a hand covering her mouth.

It took Harry a second to figure out why she thought that last part might have been too much information. Harry reasoned, that like a lot of girls, Hermione must have thought about being married, maybe even dreamed of what it might be like. He briefly wondered if she'd been as lonely as him sometimes, and just wanted a family to call her own. "It's okay Hermione, I'm sure one day you'll be able to close the door… when you're much older, of course."

Hermione had raised both eyebrows, her face showing worry. She hadn't meant to say the last part, at least not out loud. She had only been reciting the house rules, but Hermione wondered if Harry would realize that, or if he thought, she was talking about the future, their future. She watched Harry for a sign, to see if he was going to make an issue out of it, or worse, maybe laugh at her. After hearing his response, she relaxed. Harry seemed to understand.

Harry moved further into the room taking it all in. It was so Hermione, definitely a girl's room, but not too girly. Most of the walls had book cases against them, but in a few of the open areas, she had hung some pictures. Some were of family, and some were from Hogwarts; all were nonmoving of course. There was one on her nightstand, and it caught his attention… it was of the two of them. They were standing side by side arms around each other's waists, smiling like crazy. Colin had taken it right after Hermione had come back to the Great Hall from the infirmary after being un-petrified. For a moment, Harry got lost in thought.


McGonagall entered the infirmary; she had been checking with Madam Pomfrey on a regular basis, as the assistant headmistress it was her job to check on the progress of the petrified students. Since two of them were her cubs, she took a special interest in seeing how the cure was coming.

Standing next to Pomfrey's desk, she looked around. Her gaze stopped on a familiar sight. "I see he's back yet again."

Pomfrey looked up from her paperwork to make sure they were talking about the same thing, and then replied, "Oh yes, everyday. He sits there talking to her, even though I told him she couldn't hear a thing he said, but he insists… so."

McGonagall smiled, "Did you know, that his grades have actually improved slightly. He's been taking notes for her."

"Is that so?"

"Yes… actually, I'm surprised Mr. Potter hasn't started taking his meals in here."

"Oh Merlin, please don't give him any ideas," Pomfrey laughed.


After administering the mandrake potion, Pomfrey sat back and waited. It only took a moment before the effects took hold. Hermione blinked, and then blinked again. It was as if she was just opening her eyes. Slowly, the room around her came into focus. Memories came flooding back. Strangely, one of the first was of flowers. Rolling her head to the left, there they were, as promised. She didn't know how, but she knew Harry had promised to bring her flowers for when she woke. He had said that the infirmary was too dull, `you should have something special waiting for you when you wake.'

"Well my dear, how do you feel?"

Hermione looked to the right, finding the school nurse checking her with her wand. "A little stiff ma'am… no pun intended."

"No, I should think not. Well at any rate, that should fade away quite quickly once you start moving about."

"Thank you ma'am." Hermione turned back to look at the flowers again.

"They're from Mr. Potter."

Never taking her eyes off them, Hermione smiled, "I know."

Pomfrey raised an eyebrow, `Interesting,' she thought.


Two hours later Hermione was released from the infirmary. Dinner had just started, so that was her first destination. Entering the Great Hall, she stopped at the head of the Gryffindor table, and looked down its length. She spotted her two best friends; Ron was sitting across from Harry down the right side. She smiled at him. Madam Pomfrey had told her, that Ron had come to visit her once with Harry, right after she had been petrified. Down the left side was Harry. It seemed that Harry had come to visit every day without fail. Pomfrey had told her that she had to practically curse him, to get him out. Oddly, like the flowers, she had already known that.

The Hall quieted slightly, and Harry looked up to see why. There standing at the foot of the table staring at him, was Hermione. Harry stood up as Hermione started down the row, slowly at first, then breaking into a run. Harry reached out and caught her as she engulfed him in a tight hug. As Harry was returning the embrace, Hermione tilted her head up and whispered in his ear, "Thank you Harry."

Before the dinner crowd got the wrong idea, they broke apart.

"Harry, Hermione," Colin called.

Beaming, they both turned arm in arm, to face him and his camera.


"That was the first time you know."

Hermione's voice brought Harry back from his thoughts, "Hmm, oh really?"

Harry studied the picture, and then as if he'd only just heard her first comment, "First time for what?"

Hermione's eyes moved from the face in the picture to the real one beside her. "That was the first time you hugged me back… I mean, like you really meant it."

Harry was still looking at the picture, and remembering that day. He spoke so softly, Hermione almost didn't hear him. "I did."

"Hermione, Harry, dinner's ready," Emma called up the stairs.

"Coming mum."


"So Harry, Hermione tells me you play Quidditch," Dan said, trying to find some common ground like sports to ease the conversation along.

"Yes sir," Harry answered rather formally.

"He's a seeker, daddy. Youngest one in over a century," Hermione beamed.

"That's so, well you'll definitely have to tell me more Harry, oh and please… call me Dan, at the very least when we're in a casual situation, okay?"

Harry, after stealing a glance at Hermione, said, "I'll try sir," not realizing he had done it again.

"Right…" Dan chuckled while shaking his head.

Dinner continued on for a while longer, and then the group moved out into the garden where their conversation continued. Harry was finally beginning to loosen up. They had talked about school, Quidditch, and about the Granger's work. Harry learned that Mr. Granger was actually, Dr. Granger, a Dentist, and his wife worked with him part time taking care of the office. Everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves. Dan and Emma had sat in a pair of patio chairs, and while there were two more available, Harry and Hermione ended up sitting together on the love seat. The two had stayed close all night, a fact that both the Grangers noticed.

Without going into any detail, Harry mentioned how it appeared weird things always seemed to happen to him, like last year, and finding out he had a godfather. He said, he thought part of the problem was his lack of knowledge of the world around him. Harry told the family, he was going to turn over a new leaf. He was going to study harder, and try and learn as much as possible about his family, and the wizarding world in general. Everyone thought that was a sensible thing to do, especially Hermione, who instantly promised to help.

Suddenly, as if just realizing that he had left the stove on or something, Harry jumped up, "I almost forgot, I have something for… it's in my backpack by the door…ah, I'll be right back."

Both Dan and Emma turned to Hermione, who could only offer a shrug. They didn't have to wait long to find out what Harry was talking about. A moment later he returned slightly out of breath carrying a small package.

Harry slowed down as he approached the Grangers. Stopping in front Emma, Harry handed her the plain wrapped parcel. It was about the size of the book only much lighter.

"I heard somewhere that when invited to dinner, one should bring something... a gift I reckon." Harry begun. "Anyway this is for you, actually for the both of you."

"Harry, that's sweet, but you didn't have to bring anything."

Harry stood there fixed in place. Was it not expected? Did he misunderstand the tradition? He really didn't have much of an education in these matters, and Harry began to worry.

Mrs. Granger could sense his anxiety building. He was trying so hard to make a good first impression. Smiling she said, "Well it's a wonderful thought Harry, thank you. Now then, let's just have a look, shall we."

Harry watched as she carefully removed the wrapping, as if the paper itself was something special. `So that's where Hermione gets it from.' Harry could tell the exact moment she realized what it was.

"Oh… Harry… this is…" she turned to her husband, "Dan, look!"

Both Dan and Hermione moved over next to her, to see what she was holding. In her hand was a framed photo of Hermione. It was taking last year during one of their classes with Hagrid. Hermione was sitting on the ground, her knees tucked up under her. Next to her lying down, was a baby unicorn, barely a month old. She was gently petting the small creature, with a look of sheer wonder on her face, while wearing a huge smile.

"A boy named Colin took it last year. Hermione had once told me, that you had said you wish you had some pictures of her from school. I asked him to develop it as a Muggle photo, that way you can put it out with the rest of your pictures." Harry finished quickly.

Hermione sprang up and grabbed Harry in a tight hug. "Thank you Harry, that was very thoughtful," Hermione smiled while wiping at a tear that threatened to fall.

Dan Granger stood up as well; he didn't like the idea of a boy being his daughter's best friend, but he had to admit, this boy was different. As he faced Harry he smiled and said, "Yes it was Harry, thank you." And after silently asking for the picture, "I'll just go and put this out, so everyone can see it." Since the picture didn't move, and a baby unicorn just looks like a baby horse, Dan was sure no one would ask any awkward questions.

"Hermione dear, make sure your dad finds a good spot for that."

Seeing the look her mother was giving her, Hermione knew she wanted a moment alone with Harry. "Sure mum, I'll just be inside Harry."

Harry watched her go. He wanted so badly to go with her, knowing too, that Mrs. Granger wanted to see him alone.

Coming up slightly behind him, she touched his arm, "Harry?"

Harry startled a little, but quickly recovered. Turning to face Mrs. Granger he answered, "Yes ma'am."

Emma chuckled and shook her head once. "Harry, relax." Turning him a little, so they were more face-to-face she continued, "Harry that's the second precious gift you've given this family." Seeing the question in his eyes, Mrs. Granger went on. "I know you gave Hermione a gift at Christmas; she still uses it by the way. But I'm talking about you giving her a birthday to remember. You probably don't realize just how much that meant to her, and because I'm her mother… to me also."

Harry didn't know what to say, or how to respond, he just stood there and stared back.

"Harry what I'm trying to say is… thank you for being there for her. Thank you for being her friend."

The look of confusion in Harry's eyes was gone, replaced with one of honest determination. "She's my best friend Mrs. Granger… I'll always be there for her."

Mrs. Granger smile grew bigger, and with moist eyes she pulled Harry into a gentle embrace, "Of that I have no doubt Harry."



AN: Names are a funny thing. I chose to give Hermione's parents, the first names of Daniel, and Emma. Yes, I know it's cliché, but I don't care. I don't remember the very first story I read that did this, but at the time, I liked it... so, I guess it just stuck. I also think, it's a nice and simple acknowledgment to a pair of talented actors. While we are at it, and even though it hasn't come up yet, I will use Jane, for Hermione's middle name. If the toad woman ends up needing a middle name, I guess I'll use Jean.

AN2: A note about Hedwig. Supposedly, Snowy Owls don't `hoot' per say. They make a kind of soft bark, or clicking noise. In checking JK's work, I found that she has Hedwig hooting. So I'll probably use both, depending on which sounds the most appropriate at the time.




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