Disclaimer – Everything you recognise belongs to JKR. All the rest is simply me playing in her sandbox.

-oOoOo-

Hermione's Book Nook

Chapter 37

Albus Dumbledore stood tall, staring out of the window of his office. His hands were clasped lightly behind him as he watched the small puff of white smoke in the distance over the treetops of the Forbidden Forest. The Hogwart's Express had begun its long journey back towards London and another year of learning was over.

In his mind's eyes, Dumbledore saw the hundreds of students sitting in the carriages, laughing and talking, their lives merry, for today, their holidays had begun. As he thought of them all, his mind settled on one in particular.

Harry Potter.

The boy had been most vexing this past year. He'd arrived back at the castle far too independent and continued along in the same vein. He'd abandoned one of his teachers and hired his own tutors. A sigh of frustration escaped Dumbledore at that point. After having The-Boy-Who-Lived lead nearly the entirety of his year-mates in a revolt against the Defence Against the Dark Arts teacher, the blonde ponce had up and quit. Apparently, the damage that was being done to Lockhart's reputation was far too great for him to stay on. That meant that Dumbledore was going to be forced, once again, to search for a new teacher.

And then there had been all that trouble with the Chamber of Secrets. At first, it appeared as though fortune had fallen into Dumbledore's lap. The school had turned upon young Harry and Dumbledore was sure that he was being moulded once more into a compliant, fearful boy who would be much easier to guide towards his destiny.

But, of course, the boy had had to go and ruin all of that with that damned speech and then leading so many down into the Chamber itself. And once again, Harry was being hailed as a hero. A year's worth of being down-trodden down the drain.

Unfortunately though, there were a few who had never abandoned the boy. And the worst one was that Granger girl. Nothing had shaken the girls' belief in the boy. Thankfully, he had two months to work on Harry and to break that connection. Molly Weasley was going to be incredibly useful there. Her mothering instincts should have already kicked in from the signing of that betrothal contract and if Dumbledore knew her as well as he thought he did, then Harry and Ginny were soon going to be spending a great deal of time in one another's company.

Of course, Harry wasn't the only one who had been causing headaches this year. A number of the staff, led by his Deputy had grown far too vocal with their own opinions. Minerva had even had the audacity to argue with him and to go behind his back and talk to the aurors! She was another one that needed to be reined in and reminded that Dumbledore was the one who knew what needed to be done for the Greater Good.

As the last curl of smoke disappeared behind the mountains, Dumbledore's thoughts turned once more to young Harry. He knew that it was imperative that the boy return to the home of his Aunt and Uncle. There, his independent streak would finally be snuffed out. Plus it'd also give Harry the impression that Dumbledore was the one that he should look up to and listen to once he'd 'freed' the boy from the place.

But there was likely to be a large problem simply getting the boy back to Surrey. Actually, two. Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Dumbledore turned the two men over in his mind, seeking a way to distract them and allow Dumbledore to do what needed to be done.

Unfortunately, young Sirius could be rather headstrong.

No, not young Sirius, Dumbledore reminded himself, Lord Black could be rather headstrong.

Lord Black and his best friend, the werewolf, Remus Lupin.

And that was enough to give the Chief Warlock an idea. Of course, he'd need an unwitting ally. His old friend Elphias Doge was a Special Advisor to the Wizengamot and could easily be persuaded to have the Wizengamot seek to revisit the laws concerning werewolves. Of course, he'd need the backing of a highly respected old, pureblood family.

With a smile on his lips, Dumbledore turned away from the window. He had a floo call to make.

-oOoOo-

One particular cabin on the Hogwart's Express was filled to overflowing. Ideally, each cabin on the train could hold eight students, assuming of course, that they didn't mind a bit of squeezing. But this cabin had a fair few more.

Harry had ended up against the window with Hermione somehow on his lap. Beside him, Neville, Lil and Luna filled up the bench seat. Across from them sat Daphne, Tracey, Fiona, Susan and Hannah all squashed together. And hanging out of the door were the Weasley twins and Colin Creevey.

Of course, at that particular moment, everyone bar one was blinking owlishly at the spots in their eyes.

"Colin, what've I told you about that?" Harry said exasperatedly.

"That I should ask before taking anyone's photo," Colin replied with a smile on his face, "but I couldn't help it, it was just too good of a photo to waste."

"He's got you, there, mate," Fred stated.

"Yeah, Hermione feeding you a pumpkin pasty's too cute to pass up the chance to take a photo," George agreed.

"Of course, Colin," Fred said, a massive grin on his face. "We'll be wanting a copy of that."

"We'll even pay you," George added.

"And we'll reap dividends from the blackmail we'll make from those two," Fred finished before ducking the chocolate frog that Harry had just thrown at him.

"Cheers, Harry, I was still a bit peckish," George grinned.

A sudden commotion from the corridor paused the laughter emanating from the group. Draco Malfoy, flanked once more by his two bookends, Crabbe and Goyle, had just appeared. Harry's eyes narrowed as he waited for the snide remarks and insults to begin. Unexpectedly though, the blonde Slytherin took a single look at the crowded cabin before beating a hasty retreat.

"Well, that's his usual visit taken care of," Neville remarked.

"We've hardly heard a thing out of Malfoy all year in the Slytherin Common Room," Daphne remarked.

"Yeah, without his bodyguards backing him up, no one was bothering to pay any attention to him at all," Tracey added.

"I don't see why Madam Pomfrey couldn't leave them petrified," Fiona pouted. "Slytherin's IQ took a steep dive once they re-joined the House."

"I doubt that we'll have Crabbe and Goyle with us next year in third year," Lil told the crowd.

"Why's that?" Hermione asked.

"Professor McGonagall came and talked to all of us who were petrified before we left the hospital wing," Lil replied. "Because we missed so many lessons, we need to prove that we know enough to advance to the next year. We're all having special exams straight after the holidays to see if we know enough."

"If you like, I can send you my class notes for the year," Susan offered.

"We all can," Hannah agreed. "That way you'll know what to study."

"I've still got all my notes from first year that you can have if you like, Luna," Harry offered seeing the crestfallen face of the small blonde girl.

Immediately Luna's face lit up and he knew that if it wasn't for the crowded carriage and Hermione sitting in his lap, his arms would have been full of the small Ravenclaw once again.

"Thank you, Harry," she beamed instead.

"I still don't know why you're giving Crabbe and Goyle some of the money from the basilisk," Daphne stated.

Harry sighed and adjusted his hold on Hermione to be better able to see the girl directly across from him. "It was the right thing to do. I'm giving some to Luna, Colin and Lil, so I had to give some to those two idiots as well."

"But they had a wand to Lil's head when they were petrified!" Hannah protested.

"Professor McGonagall dealt with that," Lil cut in. "They won't be allowed to join the Quidditch team next year even if they wanted to, plus she'd making them write a two foot essay on why bullying is wrong to be handed in the first day back next year."

"Is two months going to be enough time for them to write that much?" Fred quipped.

"Depends how big they write, brother of mine," George replied.

Soon the conversation changed to what everyone was doing for the holidays.

While he listened, Harry couldn't keep his mind from the girl in his lap. He knew that they were each other's' best friend. In fact, they were each other's first friend. And over the last two years, they'd spent nearly every day together, learning about each other, laughing together and having fun and enjoying each other's company.

Not to mention that he'd taught her to fly. This past year, Hermione had finally managed to get past her fear of heights to enjoy being up on a broom sweeping around the pitch or over the Forbidden Forest or the Black Lake. They'd spend countless hours simply flying together. But when Harry thought about those times that he enjoyed the most, his mind inevitably settled on their first flying lessons – the ones where she had her arms wrapped around him as they flew together.

It'd taken quite a bit for Harry to learn to stop flinching whenever someone got too close to him or tried to touch him. And it was thanks to Hermione that he now enjoyed the occasional hug.

"My parents have a dental conference in America this year," Hermione was saying, "so we'll be off to the US for about four weeks. I'm hoping that I can convince them to let me go to Salem while I'm there. It's supposed to be the largest magical community in North America."

Four weeks. Harry's mind fixated on that one fact. Four weeks was a long time. And at that distance, it wouldn't be either easy or practical to send mail to each other. He tried to imagine spending four weeks without seeing or talking to Hermione in all that time. Just the thought of it left him feeling a little nauseous.

Harry looked at the animated expression on his best friend's face. Her eyes were lit up with excitement and he could feel her body bursting with anticipation at the thought of experiencing one of the magical cultures that Mick had told them about. Harry swallowed hard as he realised just how … pretty … Hermione truly was.

The wildest, strangest idea suddenly popped into his mind and he couldn't help wondering.

The big question, of course, was did he have the courage to go through with it?

-oOoOo-

A great gush of steam preceded a whistle as the Hogwart's Express finally pulled into Platform Nine and Three Quarters at King's Cross Station. That signal marked dozens of doors up and down the train slamming open and students piling out.

Calls were shouted in greeting from both the students and their waiting parents. Hugs were given to friends that weren't going to be seen for a couple of months and hugs were given to family that hadn't been seen for many more months.

With a last pat of his pocket to ensure that his shrunken trunk was still where he'd placed it not ten minutes before, Harry followed his friends out onto the platform.

Immediately, Susan and Hannah gave a final wave before disappearing into the crowd. The tall form of Xenophillius Lovegood marked Luna's disappearance. Daphne, Tracey and Fiona melted into the crowd, their hands firmly grasped so that they weren't in danger of losing each other as they went in search of some trolleys.

"Gran!" Neville exclaimed, rushing over to give the severe looking Madam Longbottom a hug.

"Mister Potter, Miss Granger," Madam Longbottom greeted with a nod of her head. "It's good to see you again."

"It's nice to see you, too, Madam Longbottom," Harry and Hermione said together.

"I'm afraid that we must depart, Neville," the old lady said to her grandson, "however we'll make sure that you have your friends over to visit during the holiday. Assuming, of course, that they're interested in such an idea."

"We'd be delighted," Hermione beamed.

"Yeah, I'd really like that," Harry agreed.

"Then it's settled," Madam Longbottom said with a tiny smile. "Expect an owl in a week or so. Come along, Neville."

"Bye guys," Neville called.

"See ya, Nev," Harry waved.

"Oh, Harry, it's so good to see you again!"

Harry squirmed in the fierce embrace of he didn't know who. Finally managing to extract himself, he took a couple of quick steps backwards.

"Um, hi Mrs Weasley," he said.

Glancing at Hermione's face, he could tell that she was just as confused as he was at the way the dumpy woman had just rushed up and started hugging Harry.

"Professor Dumbledore tells me that you're going to be spending some of your holidays at the Burrow," Mrs Weasley stated. "You and Ron and Ginny are going to have such a good time together."

"Sure, Mrs Weasley," Harry managed, deliberately failing to mention that he had absolutely no intention of stepping one foot inside her house.

Suddenly, Mrs Weasley looked over his shoulder and her eyes hardened even as her mouth straightened.

"Boys!" she bellowed before bustling off after her errant twins.

"I didn't know you were going to the Weasley's for part of your holiday," Hermione commented as the two of them began moving towards the barrier to the muggle world.

"I'm not," Harry stated flatly. "That's all Dumbledore's plan and I'm having nothing to do with it. Professor McGonagall told me to just play along with the idea for now and make everything think that I was going to do what they have planned. I suspect that Dumbledore's going to get a nasty surprise when I don't do what he expects."

"So they haven't told him that he's not your guardian anymore?" Hermione asked.

"No," he replied, with a shake of his head, "although I don't know how much longer they can keep it a secret."

They paused then to wait for their turn through the barrier.

Once through, Harry craned his head, trying to see past the crowds, but if Sirius and Remus were there, they were currently hidden from view.

"Harry, Harry, you've got come and meet my parents," Colin near-bounced in front of him.

After Hermione gave him a pointed nudge, Harry nodded and followed the mousey-haired boy across the hall.

"Mum! Dad!" Colin yelled, waving one hand.

Harry quickened his pace and reached out to steady Colin's trolley with the hand not holding on to Hedwig's cage.

"Colin!" a slightly smaller boy yelled before rushing at what could only be his big brother and leaping at him.

"Hey, Dennis," Colin said, ruffling the boy's hair.

"Mum, Dad, Dennis, this is Harry Potter," Colin introduced.

"Hello, Harry, it's very nice to meet you at last. Colin's told us so much about you," Mrs Creevey smiled.

"Harry," Colin cut in, "this is my brother, Dennis. He'll be starting at Hogwarts the year after next."

"Hi, Dennis, it's nice to meet you," Harry replied, shaking the boy's hand.

After a few minutes, Harry deftly excused himself to make his way over towards where Hermione was waiting with her parents. On his way across, he was greeted by Cyrus Greengrass giving him a respectful nod. Beside him was an older woman who bore a striking resemblance to Daphne and a younger girl with her father's black hair and brilliant blue eyes.

"Hello, Harry. How was your year?" Emma Granger greeted him as he joined them.

"It had its ups and downs, Mrs Granger. How have you both been?" he smiled.

"We've been well, Harry," Dan Granger replied, shaking his hand.

"We can't stay long, dear," Emma warned her daughter.

Immediately, Hermione turned to Harry. "You'll write, won't you? Even when we're away on holidays?"

"Of course I will, Hermione," he replied and then, on impulse, he turned to her parents. "I hope you don't mind, but I really need to talk to Hermione for a minute."

Emma's small smile and wave was enough of a permission for Harry to grab hold of Hermione's hand and to lead her away from the crowd a bit. When he was sure that they couldn't be overheard, he stopped and faced her.

"Look, Hermione," he began, looking anywhere but at her eyes where he really wanted to be looking. "You're my best friend."

"You're my best friend, too, Harry," Hermione smiled.

He nodded before pressing on. "And we get on really well together. I really enjoy spending time with you and I think you do too." Her nod confirmed that thought. "So, look …"

He trailed off and started to rub the back of his neck.

"What is it, Harry?" Hermione said gently, once more taking the hand that he'd let go. "You can tell me anything, Harry. You know that."

Taking a deep breath, he steeled himself. Where's that Gryffindor courage, Harry?

Finally, he managed to lock on to her chocolate brown eyes. "Hermione, would you …"

"Ah, Harry, there you are," Professor Dumbledore interrupted grasping his upper arm.

"What are you doing here?" Harry nearly growled in his frustration.

"Why Harry, I'm merely here to escort you to your Aunt and Uncle's place," Dumbledore twinkled.

"But I'm not going back to my Aunt and Uncle's," Harry snapped. "And I was in the middle of a conversation with Hermione."

"Very well, we have a couple of minutes," Dumbledore said lightly.

Harry's face darkened as he stared at the old man invading his personal space. Dumbledore however, never took the hint. In exasperation, he turned back to Hermione, but there was no way that he could continue now. Hermione, too, looked frustrated by the Headmaster's continued looming presence.

After a couple of minutes of awkward silence, Dumbledore spoke up.

"Perhaps you can finish your conversation in a letter," he suggested. "We really need to be getting along, Harry. Your relatives will be expecting us."

"Headmaster," Harry said through gritted teeth. "I am not going to my Aunt and Uncle's place. You heard the magical vow that I made. You know that I'll lose my magic if I stay with them."

"Pish posh, Mister Potter," Dumbledore waved off his protests. "I'm certain that it wasn't an actual magical vow that you made. Nothing's going to happen to you."

"It was, Headmaster," Hermione said. "I was there. I heard it and I saw the light from his wand."

"Besides, if it wasn't a magical vow, then how come I ended up in that hearing for doing underage magic?" Harry argued.

"Harry, I am the Chief Warlock of the Wizengamot and I can assure you that whatever occurred was not a magical vow," Dumbledore stated flatly, a hint of steel creeping into his voice. "Now, come along."

Once more, Harry's upper arm was captured by Dumbledore. Harry tried to pull it free only to find the old man's grip to be like iron. As Dumbledore began to walk towards the closest pillar, Harry found himself being pulled along.

A tightness in his chest flared up as he began to panic. He whipped his head around, trying and failing to find either Sirius or Remus. He attempted to dig his feet in, only to feel them slipping along the tiled floor. Hedwig squawked as her cage swung violently in his hand.

"Harry!" Hermione called, panic clear in her voice.

"What's going on here?" Harry heard Mister Granger ask angrily.

"There is nothing to concern yourself with," Dumbledore replied. "As Harry's guardian I am simply fulfilling my duty to take him to his relatives. Behind here, I think."

As Dumbledore began to manoeuvre Harry towards a small alcove, Harry's rage and frustration felt as though they were going to overwhelm him. He wanted nothing more than for the old fool to let him go. He was really starting to struggle now and pull violently at his arm.

"NO!" Harry screamed and around him the world went red.

A brilliant flare of red energy erupted from Harry, centred on the hand that held his upper arm. Immediately, the pressure eased as Dumbledore was sent flying. Harry watched wide-eyed as the old man flew through the air to crash spectacularly into a concrete column nearly twenty feet away. On impact, he seemed to freeze momentarily before slowly sliding down to land in a heap of purple and gold robes on the ground.

Spinning around, Harry surveyed the rest of the results of his latest burst of accidental magic. Everyone in a radius of forty feet had been knocked to the ground. In a panic, he rushed to where Hermione lay and grasped her hand. Her bushy brown hair was splayed out around her head and her eyes were closed.

"Oh, Hermione, please be alright, please be alright," he repeated over and over.

At her soft moan, he sighed in relief.

Half a dozen sudden cracks echoed around the hall and Harry's head whipped up. Red-robed aurors were appearing, obviously in response to the massive magical surge in a highly muggle area.

Harry didn't need to be told what that meant. He was in trouble. Big trouble. He'd been warned what would happen if he ever did underage magic again – he was probably already expelled from Hogwarts and as soon as the aurors laid hands on him, his wand was going to be snapped and his magic bound.

His eyes darted about. Dumbledore was still down and unconscious. Mister Granger was helping an unsteady Mrs Granger to her feet. Mister Greengrass looked to be arguing with a pair of aurors. Others were either still either lying where they'd fallen or were staring about them in confusion, both magical and muggle folk alike.

Seeing the exit within a few steps of where he knelt, Harry knew that he only had one option. As quickly as his fingers could work, he set Hedwig free. A whispered word in her ear and she soared out through the doors.

"I'm sorry Hermione," he whispered to the still unconscious girl.

Then, after an impulsive kiss to her cheek, Harry Potter grabbed Hedwig's empty cage, leapt to his feet and disappeared through the doors into muggle London.

Author's Note:I'm sure that there are many currently cursing me for finishing Hermione's Book Nook there. However, as Harry, Hermione, Neville and their friends are back in London, their second year of magical education is over and thus, the story of this years' adventure must come to a close. The good news for all of you out there is that their story continues in Potter Haven, the first chapter of which has already been posted. Most likely, the answers to the questions that are still unresolved from Hermione's Book Nookwill be answered somewhere in Potter Haven.

To all of you who have read, enjoyed, Favourited, Followed, Reviewed and added Hermione's Book Nookto their community pages, I say a heartfelt thank you. While I write primarily for my own enjoyment, knowing that others are also enjoying my story warms my heart and spurs me on to continue writing. I hope to see you all across in Potter Haven.