A/N: Here we are again! My fourth Story and the first try at something Hogwarts era. Hope you like it. The first chapter is rather short, but you know, that's always like this in my stories!
As always, a giant THANK YOU to my beta MrBenzedrine, who made me a tad scared of 'hads', but is always there, even with her busy schedule!
Disclaimer: Not mine, all JKR's. That's why I'm not making any money with it. But "The Hobbit"- wait, not mine either, except for the old copy in my private little nerd-library. Damn.
"Oh, Hermione, don't you think Teddy is a bit too young to understand that?" Harry picked up the book from the coffee table.
"No, he isn't. Many studies have proven that the enrichment of a baby's brain concerning the development of speech is vastly influenced by reading them books." Hermione shrugged her shoulders as if stating the obvious, which, for her, the information certainly was.
"This is a muggle book, right?" Ron piped up now, stepping behind the sofa where Hermione was cradling little Teddy in her arms. "So… what is a Hobbit?"
She giggled softly at Ron's question. Though their 'break-up' or their 'mutual decision to discontinue their relationship' lay mere three months back, they were rather amicably toward each other.
"A hobbit is a shorter fellow with extremely large feet. The Hobbit is a kind of race in Middle-Earth. Bilbo, he's the main character in this book, is one of them. And Gandalf, a wizard, encourages him to go on a journey with some dwarves to steal a gem. But, they wake a dragon sleeping on it."
"One would think, that after all that ruckus in Gringotts, you'd despise dragons. But instead, you're really into them, aren't you?" Ron teased her. Hermione blushed, relieved that the redhead didn't know certain things.
"Actually, this was one of my favourite books as a child, and I was always fascinated by the magic in it. It was always with me at Hogwarts, and even on the run."
Harry, familiar with the story, chuckled, "Well, that was one Hell of a "There and back again", wasn't it?"
Before Hermione could answer (because she wanted to answer all questions, even if they were clearly rhetorical), the fireplace of Number twelve, Grimmauld Place, roared to life, and Andromeda Tonks stepped out.
"I'm so sorry, dears! I was so deep into my conversation with Cissy I nearly forgot the time!" Some weeks ago, Andromeda and her remaining living sister had started to meet weekly for breakfast or tea after decades of estrangement. Though, it had been Narcissa Malfoy's initiative to send Andromeda an owl with a hesitant invitation, her elder sister had gladly accepted.
Gently prying her sleeping grandson from Hermione's arms, she ushered, "Now, off you go, it's half past ten. The Hogwarts Express waits for no-one, not even the Golden Trio."
Reluctantly, Hermione, Ron, and Harry went upstairs to retrieve their luggage. It had been a long summer at Grimmauld Place, filled with coping, grieving, and healing. And, just recently, with laughter. For the first time in their lives, in Harry's case, or since too many years in Hermione's and Ron's case, they had been free. Free to go out, to drink, and to dance, and how they had made use of that. Or, free to travel; Hermione made trips to all the European cities she always wanted to travel to: Dublin, Berlin, Paris, Rome, Vienna -she visited them all with an unlimited international portkey, thanks to the newly elected Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt. She had visited both, magic and muggle sites. Furthermore, she made a weeklong trip to the dragon reserve where Ron's brother Charlie worked.
That had been the most surprising week of all, because, well – Hermione was not overly experienced in that department, but she and Charlie flirted, and heavily at that. But what could a young, single woman do else when coming in close contact to a very fit, very attractive, and equally single blue-eyed wizard? Exactly! However, they weren't in love, and nothing serious had happened between the two of them, except of intense snogging and a bit of touching here and there (but enough for Hermione to notice that Ron certainly lacked in endowment in comparison to his brother). But Charlie had told her he'd come home for Christmas and Hermione was looking forward to that very much. Maybe she should breach the Charlie-subject with Ron before that? On the other side, why shouldn't she be the one with a bit of a dirty little secret for once? Being the good girl 24/7 could be stressful sometimes.
Harry and Ron used the time when Hermione had been on her trips for 'male bonding', meaning: Drinking, playing cards, chess, and, of course, Quidditch. More often than not, Ginny joined them, especially to get the drunken two back from their clubbing. At those incidents, Harry's girlfriend was overly grateful that Hermione convinced the boys and her to invest some Pounds into mobiles, naturally with a 'Hermione-Granger-update' (a little magical tracker that allowed Ginny to locate where a slurred "We're here, love!" exactly was).
In the essence, the Golden Trio had never been so reluctant to return to Hogwarts, especially when it wasn't the safe haven it had been all those years before, but full of memories they'd rather forget, of battle and blood, of dying relatives and friends. They were all adults now, not only in age, but also in behaviour; one simply couldn't survive a war and battles without growing up (if only a bit, in Ron's case).
So it would be weird to go back to a life as a pupil, and Harry and Ron hadn't even returned. The Auror Department had pre-accepted them with the condition that they sit through their final year and their NEWTs (to Hermione's disappointment, the score didn't matter). The boy's formerly bushy-haired friend, however, had turned down the Department's begging to join -she wanted to use the year to choose her future career wisely, and, needless to say, she had already a giant pile of job offers.
The three of them apparated to Platform 9 ¾ at the last minute, not wanting to give the press an opportunity to spot them. They managed to stay under the radar for most parts, and they wanted it to stay it that way.
When they settled in the compartment Ginny managed to save them beforehand, and the train started its journey, a content smile spread on Ron's lips.
"Man, it's gonna be a relaxed year: We're of age, the war is over… we've got the first normal year in front of us, now that we've chased all monsters away!"
With those words, Hermione felt a shiver going down her spine, quickly putting it down to the drought that was caused by a person opening the compartment doors. Before they could greet the bursting in Neville, he gasped: "You won't believe me, but they've let Malfoy back in!"