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 3

Happy Birthday


For the next few days, Harry's routine went back to normal, up early to do chores, then off to the Park. Later, back home to read and study. He still went to karate class three times a week, and of course, he wrote to Hermione at least once, but usually twice a week. They continued the game of, `what's your favorite, and a new one, `I bet you didn't know.'

It was fairly early Saturday morning, and Harry was out front working in the garden. Already covered in sweat and dirt, Harry was hard at work pulling weeds. The Dursleys were all still inside, so it was a curious Harry, who looked up when a car pulled into the drive. It only took a moment before he recognized it. Surprised, Harry stood up and tried to wipe his hands clean. Hermione was the first out, almost even before her dad had parked.

"Harry! Surprise!" Hermione yelled as she ran towards him.

"Hermione!" Harry yelled back just as excited, and started walking to meet her halfway, ready for his hug. Suddenly, he stopped just a couple of feet short, "Hermione wait." He said, holding up his hands to hold her back. At her confused look, Harry added quickly, "Hermione I'm filthy, and all sweaty. As much as I'd like a hug, I'm afraid you'd need a bath afterwards."

Hermione laughed, "Oh?" And then upon closer inspection, "I think you may be right," but the smile never left her face.

Harry smiled back, then turning to her parents, "Hello Dr. Granger, Mrs. Granger."

Emma smiled, "Hello Harry."

Dan looked around, the garden was in beautiful shape no doubt because of the efforts of Harry. He was also fairly sure that no one in the house appreciated his hard work. It was barely ten o'clock in the morning, and it was obvious Harry had already been working for several hours. Meeting his eye, Dan gestured around, it looks great Harry, you've done a fine job.

Harry looked around quickly, no one had ever commented on his work before, and it felt nice, "Thank you sir." Harry then glanced at Hermione and Emma, "It's great to see you all again so soon, but ah, what are you doing here?"

Emma smirked, while Hermione explained as if it should have been obvious, "Tomorrow is your birthday."

Dan walked up, "They've got a plan Harry, I suggest you just go with it." Smiling, Dan looked away towards the house, "Mr. Dursley home?"

Harry peeked over his shoulder, "Yes sir. They're inside."

Dan could sense his apprehension, "Harry do you mind if I have a word with them?" Dan had a vague idea of what Harry's home life was like, mostly from the subtle signs Harry unconsciously gave off. He also remembered the conversation with his daughter about how they hated magic, and so by association, him as well. Harry himself seemed to keep quiet about it, at least in front of him and his wife. Another small sign of abuse, or at the very least a poor home life.

Harry took a moment to answer, "Ah, no sir… shall I fetch him for you?" He figured if they'd come all this way, that he owed him at least that much.

"It's okay, I'll just go and knock."

Vernon Dursley did not like being disturbed, especially on his days off. Hearing the knock at the door he grumbled, "Who the ruddy hell…"

Dan was met by a red-faced over-weight angry man. "Mr. Dursley?"

"What's it to you?" Vernon spat.

Dan's impression of Harry's home life was falling rapidly, as well as his regard for Mr. Dursley. "I'm Dr. Granger; I work in health services… may I come in?" He wasn't really lying; dentistry was a part of health services, but he knew phrasing it that way would be more intimidating.

Vernon stole a glance at Harry and the girls, "You always bring your family with you to work?"

Dan smiled, it had worked. Mr. Dursley thought he was here in some official capacity. "Oh I'm not working today… yet." The `yet' part said softly but with a hint of suspicion. "Harry and my daughter are friends you see."

Vernon paled very slightly, but Dan noticed nevertheless. "We," Dan looked back to his family for a moment, "would like to take Harry for the weekend. We can have him back Sunday after dinner, say around eight or nine?"

Vernon would have loved to have said no, but not knowing if Dr. Granger was a freak or not gave him pause. His daughter most likely was if she was his friend. Chances were, both he and his wife were too. However, even if they weren't, he didn't want any trouble with health services. "Fine, you'll be taking him now I suppose?"

"That would be most helpful." Dan's answer sounded more like a threat than a request.

Vernon grunted, "Send the boy in then; I'll have him clean up and then you lot can be off."

Without another word, Dan turned and walked over to Harry, "Looks like you're coming with us. He wants a word first though Harry." Dan couldn't help but smile after noticing the look on Hermione's face.

Harry nodded, and quickly made his way over to his uncle, "Sir."

Contempt in his eyes, Vernon leaned down slightly and whispered to Harry, "You'll be on your best behavior, and you will not speak badly of this family. Is that clear?"

"Yes sir."

"Go wash up, and be quick."


As Harry slid into the back seat next to Hermione, she took his hand without even thinking about it. "Now that you're clean, you owe me a hug."

"Sure." Harry grinned through a small blush. "Well this is a nice surprise, being rescued from the Dursleys." He said trying to start a conversation, and ease his embarrassment.

"Oh, you think we rescued you?" Hermione smirked.

Harry shrugged, "Well yeah, anything is better than being there."

Dan had been listening to their banter, and decided to chime in. "Harry my boy, I don't know how to break this to you." Harry gave him his complete attention, as this sounded serious. "You see, they…" Dan ticked his head towards his smiling wife and daughter, "they have it all planned out. I'd say we'd be lucky to survive till dinner."

Harry was only mildly concerned, he trusted Hermione after all. That didn't mean he wasn't totally confused though, and his face must have shown it.

While Hermione kept smirking, it was clear she was on the verge of bursting out in laughter. It was Emma, who answered his unasked question. "Daniel really! Harry don't listen to him, we're going to have a great time. Hermione told me she already read through all her books twice. Therefore, I figured you might have also… so we," she nodded to Hermione, "thought it would be a good idea to go to Diagon Alley a little early, and do a bit of shopping."

Harry glanced at Hermione; she was almost bouncing in the seat with excitement. This was one of the things he liked about her; she had so much enthusiasm. She was always full of energy. Looking at Dr. Granger in the mirror, Harry said, "Oh, well that doesn't sound like a… bad thing."

After his experiences in the military, then dental school, and even after standing by his wife's side, when she gave birth to Hermione, Daniel Granger wasn't afraid of much. Now however, he grimaced as he spoke, "Harry… you do realize, there's no such thing as… a bit of shopping." After taking a long breath he continued, "Obviously, you've never been shopping with them, before."

It was true; Harry had never gone shopping with them. In fact, he'd never been shopping with any girls before. Harry still couldn't see the problem. Maybe Hermione's father was just unusually adverse to it or something. With a small unsure smile, Harry said, "I still think it'd be better than staying home. I don't mind giving it a try."

Hermione squeezed his hand, "Daddy's just teasing Harry, it'll be fun. He may not like it, but I'll bet you will."

Harry relaxed, "Yeah, why not."


Diagon Alley still amazed both Harry and Hermione, but it was the two older Grangers that were especially awed. They made a quick stop at Gringotts for gold, and so Harry could arrange to make sure that Kim continued to get paid. Then they were off to buy everything they would need for the coming year. New robes, potion ingredients, and of course books; loads of books! Hermione always wanted to buy extra books, and this year to her pleasant surprise, so did Harry.

"Oh no! I'm afraid I've turned Harry Potter into a bookworm." Hermione laughed, after noticing several additional books in his arms that were not on the school list.

Harry gave her a stern look for a moment, and then broke into laughter himself, "Yeah well, it's only fair."

"How's that Harry?" Emma asked.

"Well… you see… I may have turned Hermione into a bit of a rule breaker last year."

Hermione put on her most innocent face, while Mrs. Granger turned to her daughter, "Is that so?"

"I can't imagine what he's talking about." Hermione said with the most serious of expressions on her face.

"I don't believe imagination has anything to do with it."

Dan and Harry shared a look, both knew Emma wasn't really scandalized. They also knew, Hermione had a very good idea of what Harry was talking about. Dan figured if Harry had brought it up, then there couldn't be much to it, he was sure he'd hear all about it someday.


After lunch, a few hours later, Harry again slid into the back seat next to Hermione. Leaning a little closer he whispered, "That wasn't so bad, you were right, I did enjoy myself."

Dan's hearing was excellent, "It's not over yet Harry."

Harry looked up confused and surprised, "Hun?"

Hermione and her mother just laughed.


Stopping in front of a huge building, (one that might actually make Hogwarts look small in comparison) had Harry staring in awe.

"Harrods of London," Dan started, as he too peered up at the massive structure. "Feared by mortal man for eons." Then as if only now remembering Harry was present, "I wonder," he said, turning to look at him, "how will a wizard fair?"

"Honey will you stop with all the drama already," Emma chastised.

"Just stay close Harry, and keep your eyes open, and you just might make it through this." Dan said, completely ignoring his wife.

Harry flashed a bright smile; he knew Dan was having fun. "Yes sir. I'll follow your lead."

Dan looked at Harry and smiled back, he had an ally. "Right then, together, into the trenches."

Emma shook her head while trying to hold back her laughter. She knew when her husband got like this, it was best not to encourage him. Especially now that it seemed he had another male to interact with.

Hermione rolled her eyes and huffed, "Honestly daddy, you make it sound worse than the Great War."

Shopping at the huge department store didn't take nearly as long as Diagon alley, mainly because there was no book department. Also they were there mostly to buy clothes for Harry, although they did pick up a few things for Hermione. Dan and Emma insisted on paying for Harry's things, calling it an early birthday present.

Harry was a little concerned at the amount of money the Grangers were spending on him. "Mrs. Granger, this is brilliant and all, but… don't you think it might be a bit much? This is going to cost a fortune."

"Harry, a couple of pairs of pants, and a few shirts is not going to cost a fortune. It will be fine." Seeing that he was still not convinced, and still a bit apprehensive, she added, "Besides, this is not all for your benefit." Emma glanced pointedly at Hermione. Her daughter was having more fun than anyone else was, picking out clothes for Harry.

Harry watched Hermione, she was on a mission. He had always felt somewhat ashamed of his clothes, but for some reason he never got around to doing anything about it. Like so many other things between them, Hermione picked up the slack where he left off. Harry knew she wasn't ashamed of him, or the way he dressed. That wasn't the reason. No, she did it because she knew he needed it, it was one small problem she could fix, so she took it upon herself to do this for him. Looking back at Mrs. Granger, "Okay… but please, don't let her get too carried away," he said with a smile.


"Hermione dear, why don't you help Harry get settled into the guest room while I see about dinner."

Hermione couldn't help but laugh at the expression on Harry's face after hearing what her mother had just said, "Sure mum. Come on Harry."

Harry obediently followed Hermione up the stairs. After putting away the few things he had in the closet, Harry turned to find Hermione sitting on the edge of the bed watching him. "Hermione, you knew?"

"Of course Harry, it was my idea," Hermione replied with a grin.

Harry looked around; the bedroom was so much different from his back on privet drive. It was quite a bit more spacious, and had a large window that lit the room brightly. The room was clean and well furnished. In short, it was everything Harry's room back home, was not.

Hermione continued to watch Harry as he took in his surroundings. He looked so serious, almost concerned, she was starting to worry, "Harry, you alright?"

Harry turned to Hermione and noticed her concern, "Oh, yeah I'm fine." While Harry glanced around again, he added softly, "It's just such a great room. I… I can't believe I get to sleep here tonight."

Hermione troubled her lower lip for a moment before hopping up and latching onto him. "Oh Harry," she whispered into his shoulder. Sometimes she forgot just how fortunate she was. She knew Harry's home life was terrible, and although she had never seen his bedroom, she never thought it could be so bad that he would be amazed by their simple guestroom.

Harry quickly realized why she was upset, "Hermione it's okay, really," he said, as he awkwardly patted her back trying to comfort her.

Hermione pulled herself together with a single thought. She would try to do whatever she could to help make his life a little more bearable. Letting go, she squared her shoulders, grabbed his hand and with a half smile said, "Come on Harry, let's see how dinners coming."

Harry, glad that she had finally made peace with her thoughts, again let her lead him by the hand down to dinner.


Emma Granger watched with interest as Harry sampled each slice of pizza. Earlier, she had asked Hermione if she knew what Harry might like for dinner. Her daughter had told her that his favorite was pizza, probably some sort of combination of sausage, pepperoni, onions, and maybe tomatoes. When she had asked Hermione what she meant by `probably', her daughter hesitated, and only continued when pressed to explain.

"Harry's never actually had pizza mum, he's only seen it… that is, when the Dursley's eat it." Never in her life had she heard of such a cruel act been inflicted on a child. She wanted to believe that maybe Hermione was exaggerating, but now, seeing Harry savor the taste as if this was his very last meal on earth… she knew. Hermione had not exaggerated, if anything she had understated his situation.

"So Harry, tomorrow you'll be fourteen, what would you like to do?" Dan asked.

"Oh, well, I'm actually fine with staying right here." Harry began, then seeing their look of surprise, "You all have done so much already, shopping, new clothes, and now dinner. This is by far the best birthday I've ever had." Harry looked down for a moment to get his emotions under control. He raised his head and added in a soft but sincere voice, "Thank you."

Hermione who was sitting right next to him took his hand and gave it a gentle squeeze, "You're welcome Harry."

If the Grangers could have had a second child, both agreed that they would have loved to have had a son. As Dan sat finishing his dinner and watching both Harry and Hermione, he couldn't help but feel something for the boy. What a waste he thought, surely there were plenty of families that would have cherished the chance to have raised him. To of had a chance, to have a son in the family was something he could appreciate. Dan Granger came to the conclusion, that the Dursley's were not only mean and cruel, but also stupid and foolish as well.

Dan knew he could not make up for the years of neglect, but he could help now. "Harry, I don't know about you, but I'd like to get out tomorrow. There must be somewhere you haven't gone, someplace you'd like to see. Perhaps there's something you've heard about and would like to try."

Looking around, Harry could tell the whole family wanted him to say yes to something. Hermione in particular, she almost had a pleading look about her. With his gaze locked on her, he said, "Well, I've never been to the beach. I hear it's quite fun… you know, all that water."

Hermione was again squeezing his hand, and this time she didn't let go. "Oh, that would be fun Harry, it's been ages since I've gone." Turning to her father, "What do you think daddy, can we go?"


The next morning Harry woke after spending a wonderful night in the biggest, and the most comfortable bed he had ever slept in. At first, he thought maybe he was experiencing his first earthquake, but as slept left his cloudy mind, he realized someone was jumping on his bed.

Hermione stopped bouncing and sat down, when she noticed Harry starting to stir. "Morning Harry, happy birthday!" She beamed.

Harry yawned, and slipped his glasses on, then through blurry eyes he managed, "Morning Hermione," though without nearly as much enthusiasm.

Hermione laughed at his disheveled look. "Oh, did I wake you?" She asked in her most innocent voice.

Harry smiled, "No, not at all, been up for hours."

"Great, then get up and get ready, breakfast is almost on the table."

Harry raised an eyebrow, as Hermione leapt off his bed and practically raced downstairs.


Twenty minutes later, showered and dressed, Harry entered the kitchen. Sitting at the table was Dr. Granger, reading the paper and enjoying a cup of coffee. The sight that caught Harry's eyes though, was Hermione at the stove. She was wearing an apron, and carefully tending to something in a pan. Her mother was nearby, keeping an eye on her, ready to help if needed.

Hermione always put forth her best effort in everything she did. Harry of course knew this, but is still amazed him. She was trying so hard to make this breakfast perfect. It was only a meal after all.

Dan looked up, "Ah Harry, have a seat, coffee?"

"No thank you sir," then turning to Mrs. Granger, "do you need a hand, can I help?"

Hermione, surprised by Harry's appearance so soon let out a little, "Eep!"

Emma, looking over her shoulder, "Of course not Harry, don't be silly, it's your birthday. Take a seat and have some juice, or coffee." Looking back at her daughter, she added, "Hermione is almost done with the eggs, we'll eat in a minute."

A moment later, Hermione turned away from the stove and brought with her a pan full of scrambled eggs. Her mum brought a platter of bacon, and a second plate with some toast.

Together they sat down, Hermione next to Harry, and Emma next to her husband. Emma smiled as she poured herself some coffee. Hermione just sat still, as if waiting for permission to start, with a slight look of concern on her face.

Harry touched her hand. "All right, Hermione?"

Hermione half smiled for just a second, "Ah, oh yes, I'm fine."

"She's just a little nervous Harry," Emma jumped in with a smirk, "her first time cooking breakfast and all."

Hermione turned red, "Mum," she hissed, clearly embarrassed.

That's when Harry figured it out. She had made breakfast for him. That's why she looked a little lost at the stove. That's why she was so nervous. She was waiting to see if he liked it.

Harry reached out and took a helping of eggs, then some bacon and toast. Without hesitation, he tucked in. Careful to swallow first, he turned to Hermione, "Its brilliant Hermione." Seeing that she was still uncertain, "Really… it's perfect."

Dan nodded in agreement, although he was quite certain, that at the moment, his opinion didn't carry much weight.

Hermione's features relaxed, and the worried look on her face turned into a bright smile. "Thanks Harry." She said before tucking in herself.

Emma smiled, she knew this was important to Hermione, and was glad Harry had noticed.

As soon as breakfast was over, Hermione ran out and brought back a few presents while her mum cleaned up. Dumbledore sent him a book, and Hagrid sent some rock cake. Harry laughed, and when Hermione looked at him with a brow raised, he showed her the cakes and said, "Good thing I know a dentist." There were also two cards, one from the Weasleys, and to his surprise, one from the Longbottoms


"Well it's a bit of a drive, so why don't you two get ready, and I'll pack the car," Dan said as he got up to talk to his wife.


Harry stood at the edge of the bluff staring out over the great expanse of the Atlantic Ocean. It went on for as far as the eye could see, seemingly forever. There was an unnatural pull, to venture out, to see what lie beyond the horizon. `It must be what attracts men to the sea,' Harry mused. But it was also calming, he hadn't felt this relaxed since last year during Christmas holiday while staying in the Castle virtually alone.

"Beautiful, isn't it?" Hermione asked softly.

"Yes," answered Harry, as he continued to stare straight ahead, "and peaceful."

Hermione stole a quick glance at him, "Yes… very." In that instant, she understood how he felt. His life was full of turmoil, always in a state of upheaval. Yet here, for a small moment in time, all was at rest. Order replaced the chaos that normally sought him out. She stood next to him, leaning slightly against his side, content to share this moment… this eternity, with him.

Dan and Emma sat on a little bench a short ways back and watched the interaction. Sharing a look, they both knew without saying a word. They may only be best friends, but their friendship was far deeper than most. And it was only now just starting to bloom.

As it warmed up, Hermione slipped off her shorts, and pulled her tank top off to reveal and modest blue one-piece bathing suit. Feeling a tiny bit self-conscious, she wrapped a short cover up around her waist. She could tell Harry was trying not to stare, but was still getting quite an eye full. Feeling turnabout was only fair play, "Harry, you are wearing your trunks aren't you?" Hoping he'd get the hint.

Harry had the decency to blush slightly, "Yeah, sorry, I was…ah…"

Hermione let him off the hook with a smile, "It's okay, but hurry up, I want to see how warm the water is." Harry quickly took off his jeans and threw them on the growing pile of clothes. Hermione couldn't help but notice his reluctance to remove his shirt though. Moving to stand in front of him, she asked gently, "Harry?"

Harry stopped and stood frozen in place. He should have known Hermione would notice his hesitation. At first, he was just going to leave his shirt on, but then he'd been caught looking at Hermione. He hadn't meant to stare, but he had never seen a girl with so little on before, and certainly not Hermione.

Now he felt like a hypocrite for trying to stay covered, even though his reasons were different. Seeing the genuine concern in her eyes only made it worse. How would she feel about him after she saw? Would she think differently of him, treat him different? Realizing she was still waiting for a reply he started, "Hermione, I… there's something…" Harry sighed and looked down frustrated unable to find the words he wanted.

Hermione moved closer and touched his arm, "Harry, whatever it is… it's okay, I'll understand."

Harry looked back up, "No one has ever seen… seen…" then without saying another word, Harry grabbed the hem of his shirt and pulled up and over his head removing it.

A little surprised by his abrupt action, Hermione stepped back slightly, then wondering what could possibly be the problem, she looked down at Harry's chest. Nothing looked out of the ordinary; Harry looked just like she imagined any other normal fourteen-year-old boy would look like, maybe just a little underweight. Raising an eyebrow, she opened her mouth to speak, but stopped as Harry slowly started to turn around. Letting out a small gasp, Hermione's hands flew to cover her mouth. Crisscrossing Harry's back were the remains of scars inflicted many years ago. They were healed now, but it was obvious they would probably never fade completely. They reminded her of the same kind of wounds a sailor of old might have received while lashed to the mast of a sailing ship and flogged for his crimes. Harry however, was a child. How could anyone justify doing that to him even now, yet alone a couple of years earlier? They couldn't, not and still be human. Just what kind of hell on earth had Harry lived through? She would find out, someday, but not today. He honestly needed her to understand, not to interrogate him. He needed her comfort, not her pity. Hermione moved forward.

Harry stood motionless, waiting, staring at the sea. Any moment now, after the shock had worn off, she would start asking questions. There would be a righteous fire in her eyes, and she would demand justice. He really couldn't blame her; his life was so much different from hers, how could she possibly understand?

Harry jumped a little at her touch. She had said nothing, instead she had stood right behind him and touched his shoulder. She gently traced one of the many scars with the tips of her fingers. Harry closed his eyes, no one had ever seen his back before, except for the Dursleys of course. Hermione hadn't said a word, she didn't scream about the injustice, or howl in outrage. She hadn't recoiled in horror. Maybe… maybe she did understand.

Hermione ran her hand down the cruel mark and back up again. Then after a moment to collect herself, she gently urged him to turn around. Facing each other, Hermione stared into his pain filled eyes, "Harry… don't be ashamed, you've done nothing to deserve this."

His voice cracked as he asked, "How can you be so sure?"

She took his hands in hers, and while shaking hers head slowly said, "What could you, or any child have possibly done to deserve something like this? Besides Harry… I know you."

Harry closed his eyes and in a whisper barely audible said, "Thank you."

Emma and Dan had seen the scars too, if only from a distance. It was another small piece of the puzzle that was Harry Potter. Emma also couldn't help noticing how it was the little things he seemed to enjoy the most. Things most people would take for granted. `Maybe because he never got to enjoy them before,' Emma thought, remembering dinner last night.

They spent the whole day at the beach. Harry and Hermione played in the water, and chased each other up and down the beach. A small restaurant served them lunch outside on a patio, and later the group just laid about on the sand, soaking up the warm sunshine. Finally, as late afternoon approached, and it started to cool down, it was time to leave.


Hermione released Harry from her hug, "Remember, I'll see you again in about three weeks, in Kim's class."

Harry smiled, "I'll remember, and Hermione… thanks, I had a great time."

Hermione had nearly cried, she'd had some pretty lousy birthdays herself (though she was sure none were as bad as his) so she had a fairly good idea how he felt. "You're welcome Harry; I had a great time too."

"Dr. Granger, Mrs. Granger, thank you again for having me over, and for all the gifts."

After Emma finished giving him a hug, Dan reached out to shack his hand, "You're welcome Harry, we're just glad you had a good time."

"The best sir, I don't think I'll ever forget this day."

Harry stood on the walk and waved goodbye as they drove off, Hermione's face, plastered to the rear window.

Prior to this year, Harry had never really given much thought to birthdays. But after seeing the look on Hermione's face last September, and now, knowing first-hand what it's like to have someone recognize your special day, Harry had decided he would try to remember all of his friends on their birthdays. With that thought in mind, Harry sat down at his desk, he had a few thank-you letters to write, and an apology for missing Neville's birthday.


Neither Vernon nor his aunt Petunia, had been happy about his absence, knowing he'd have a good time, instead of doing his chores around the house. Harry had almost missed karate on his first Monday back because of all the extra work they'd given him. Finally, by the end of the week, he'd caught up, and things had returned to normal.

Harry and Hermione continued to exchange letters about twice a week. They talked about all kinds of things, and even keep their, I bet you didn't know game going. In one of his letters, Harry had asked, what was the happiest and saddest thing about last year? He had smiled when she wrote back that helping him to save Sirius and Buckbeak, was definitely the happiest. He was surprised however, to learn just how upset Ron had made her with his accusations about Scabbers. She never told anyone before, but she had cried herself to sleep a couple of times, because of what Ron had said. Harry vowed to himself to try and not let anything like that happen again.


A week and a half later, Thursday, August 11, was Ginny's thirteenth birthday. Harry knew because he had asked everyone in the letters he sent out after his own birthday.



Dear Ginny,

Happy birthday, I hope you're having a good time. I would normally ask you to save me a piece of cake, but with Ron there, I know I would be asking the impossible. I'm sorry I don't have a gift to send along for you. It's very hard to get out during summer, but if you'll take a rain check, I'll try and make it up to you this Christmas. Thanks again for my birthday card. Oh and asked that brother of yours why he hasn't written. Well, I'd better go, I'll see you at school.





Harry was so busy time seemed to fly by. There was barely a week to go before school started, but what he was really looking forward to, was seeing Hermione again. In just three days, they would meet at Kim's dojo near Harry's house. It was to be their last class of the summer, but also, they would test for their yellow belt. Both of them had worked very hard, and were quite excited about the prospect of moving up a class level.

Having just sent Hedwig off with a letter to Hermione, Harry was still sitting at his desk when pig arrived. Flying through the still open window, the overexcited little owl zoomed about until Harry was finally able to catch him. "Well little fella let's see what you've got." Harry carefully untied the letter then put the tiny owl on Hedwig's perch to rest.




Great news, we're going to the Quidditch World Cup. Ireland versus Bulgaria, it's going to be brilliant. Be ready to go by noon, dad will pick you up tomorrow.




Harry sat the letter down and leaned back in his chair. A chance to go to the World Cup, he could only imagine how exciting that would be. He loved Quidditch, maybe not as much as Ron did, but still, and he'd get to see some top-notch teams in action.

A thought suddenly interrupted his growing euphoria, Hermione, could she go? Would she want to go? Without a doubt, Harry knew she would. `She'd go because Ron and I wanted to, regardless of whether she really wanted to or not.' That last thought bothered Harry. `She's always doing something for us, putting us first, putting me first.' All he had to do was remember last year, `heck even this summer!' Ron couldn't even bring himself to write!

Realization hit home like a thunderclap. How many times had he ignored her feelings, or needs? How many times had he been selfish? `Too many,' a guilty voice inside his head said. Sure, he had done nice things for her, but only if they did not conflict with his own needs or desires. Reaching for a piece of parchment Harry started his letter to Ron.




That does sound great, and I know you'll have a good time. However, I'm afraid I can't go. Please tell your dad, so he doesn't waste his time coming over here for nothing. I know you think nothing could be more important than Quidditch, but for me, there is. No I'm not crazy, and no the Dursleys had nothing to do with my decision. You see mate, I already have plans for the last week before school, plans I don't want to change. Please try to understand. I'll see you soon at King's Cross.





Hermione sat on the floor next to the back wall of Kim's dojo, the one near Harry's house. She almost hadn't come, but decided this was easier than explaining to her father why she didn't want to see Harry. Of course, she wanted to see Harry, but her father would assume otherwise if she tried to change her plans at the last minute. After reading her letter from Ron, inviting her to join him and Harry for a trip to the World Cup, she knew that Harry wouldn't be here. After all, who would turn down a chance like that? This was only a karate class; there was just no comparison. Sure, it was their last class for the summer, and yes they were going to test for a new belt, but it still paled next to the Quidditch World Cup. When she hadn't heard from Harry, she figured Harry probably just felt a little guilty about ditching their last class, or maybe Harry just assumed she would join them at the Cup. Hermione had honestly thought about skipping class also, but later decided not to, for two reasons. One, she really only liked watching Quidditch when Ron or Harry were playing. Secondly, she thought Harry would have a better time without her there to remind him about missing their last class.

"Galleon for your thoughts," Harry whispered in Hermione's ear as he sat down next to her.

Hermione let out a startled yelp. She had been so lost in thought; she hadn't even seen Harry come in, yet alone approach her. "Harry!" She gasped in surprise.

Harry part confused, and part surprised, answered, "Yes… you were expecting someone else?" Harry watched as Hermione's emotions ran the gamut from surprised, to shocked, to confused, and finally, to happiness.

"I… I didn't expect to see you. What are you doing here? Why aren't you with Ron?"

"Hermione, I told you I'd be here."

"Yes I know, but that was before the World Cup… surely…"

"There'll be others," he smirked.

"But you love the Quidditch, and you haven't seen Ron…"

"Hermione stop. Look, Ron only wrote last night, one days notice. He didn't even ask, he just assumed I'd go, `Be ready by noon,' he said." Smiling, Harry took one of her hands and squeezed it, "We've been working towards this all summer. I know this is important to you, it's important to me also, and I know part of you is doing it for me. Yeah the World Cup would have been great to see, and I'm sure it would have fun, but this came first." Harry gestured around the room, "This is important; it could really help someday."

Looking around, Hermione tried to gather her thoughts. If she was honest with herself, she was glad Harry had chosen to come here instead, but it had been a huge sacrifice on his part. Then there was Ron, he was sure to be mad at both of them.

Turning back and looking Harry in the eye, she could see he meant every word he had said. Finally, she smiled and squeezed his hand back, "Thank you Harry, and you're right, this is important to me, but more importantly I'm just happy you choose to come here."


Three hours later, two sweaty students sat and waited for Hermione's father to come and pick her up. Originally, Dan had planned on being there to watch his daughter take her test, but at the last minute he was called into his office for a minor emergency.

"Oh, I almost forgot… here," Harry said, after reaching into his gym bag and pulling out a small set of books.

With a clever look on her face, Hermione asked, "So, what did you think of them? Did you like them?"

"It sure didn't take long to get hooked on them, that's for sure. And yeah, of course I did, I loved them."

Hermione smiled, Lord of the Rings were some of her favorite books, and she had hoped Harry would enjoy reading it as well. "I'm glad you liked it Harry."

"You know, we could have fun talking about it around the others, I doubt many would know of it."

"Don't be a git Harry," Hermione laughed. She did however like the idea that she and Harry had something special they could talk about. This could be something that they had shared in common, like Ron and Harry shared Quidditch. "It would be fun to discuss it though, you know, maybe talk about some of the differences between the story and our world."

Harry laughed too, "Yeah I know."

"Hello pumpkin, Harry. Well, how did you two do?" Dan Granger asked, interrupting them.

Hermione jumped up beaming, "Look!" She twirled around, to show off her new yellow belt.

"I had no doubt... sorry, I missed it though," turning to Harry, "and…"

Harry smiled, "Hello Dr. Granger." He held up his newly acquired yellow belt in his hand, unlike Hermione, who was actually wearing hers.

"Excellent, well done, both of you." He made a point to look both of them in the eye as he congratulated them.


A few days later found Harry waiting anxiously on the Muggle side of platform nine and three quarters, waiting for Hermione. He didn't have to wait long though, and soon both he and a cheerful Hermione were waving goodbye to her parents.

"Think we should wait for Ron if he's not here yet?" Harry asked nervously, not sure how he would react after they had turned down their invites to the Burrow this summer.

Biting her lip for a second before answering in typical Hermione fashion, "Yes, we don't want him to think we don't care. We may have hurt his feelings too, so we need to reassure him as soon as possible."

Harry nodded his understanding, Hermione had it figured out as usual, he let her do all the talking if possible.

Immediately after stepping through the barrier, they came face-to-face with their other best friend, and he looked more than just a little miffed!




Valid HTML 4.0! Document created with wvWare/wvWare version 1.2.7