A/N – This story is another of my reunion style stories. It has five chapter and updates will Tuesdays and Thursdays. This first chapter deals with the falling out between Hermione and her friends, and the other four are set several years later. I hope people enjoy this story.
Less than forty eight hours before she was due to return to Hogwarts to complete her seventh year, which she'd missed the previous year due to the war with Voldemort, Hermione Granger returned to The Burrow with big news. She'd been staying with the Weasleys since the end of the war as her parents were in Australia with no memories of her, and getting their memories back was going to prove tricky, if not impossible. Luckily the Weasleys had made her feel like part of the family and she didn't feel like she was intruding on them despite the fact they were recovering from the war, and the loss of Fred, who'd tragically died during the final battle.
"Where have you been?" Ron Weasley demanded the second Hermione entered the kitchen. Ron was sitting at the kitchen table with their best friend, Harry Potter, while Molly and Ginny were baking cakes.
Hermione fought the urge to snap at Ron and tell him to mind his own business. While she felt at home with the Weasleys, things had been awkward between her and Ron. Following their kiss during the final battle, Hermione had made it clear it was a one off and meant nothing, but Ron had been hoping it was the start of a romance. Ever since then he'd been holding out hope that she would change her mind and something would happen between them, but the more time passed where nothing happened, the snappier he became towards Hermione.
"I was meeting with Kingsley," Hermione answered. She was planning on telling them what had happened, she just resented Ron's attitude when he'd demanded to know where she'd been.
"Why?" Harry asked with a frown.
Kingsley Shackelbolt was now the official Minister for Magic, after temporarily taking charge following the war. However, Harry didn't know why Hermione would be meeting with him. Despite his and Ron's pleas, she was adamant she was returning to Hogwarts rather than joining them at the Ministry, where they were both set to begin Auror training.
"He made me an offer I couldn't refuse," Hermione replied as she took a seat at the table.
"What sort of offer?" Ginny asked, briefly abandoning her cakes and sitting down next to Hermione.
"He wants me to help set up the charity for war orphans," Hermione said. "He wants it to be a big deal, and there's a lot to get in place."
"You mean the charity, Narcissa Malfoy is behind?" Harry questioned. There'd been a big fuss a couple of weeks previously when Narcissa had announced her plans to set up a large charity to help the children affected by the war.
"Yes," Hermione confirmed with a nod. "It's a joint project with the Ministry, and Kingsley wants it to be something spectacular. He thinks this could be just what the wizarding world needs to help unite it and put the past behind us."
"So where do you fit into all this?" Molly questioned. "Surely, you're not going to get involved with Narcissa Malfoy's pathetic attempt to restore her awful family's reputation."
"This project has nothing to do with reputation," Hermione argued. "I met Narcissa today, and this is something she feels very strongly about. She just wants to help the children that have been affected by recent events."
"I think it's all very hypocritical if you ask me," Molly snorted. "Her family were heavily involved in wrecking the lives of those children she claims she wants to help."
"You know as well as I do that the Malfoys weren't exactly Voldemort's most willing supporters," Hermione said, giving Molly a stern glare. "Granted, Lucius Malfoy joined up willingly, but Narcissa and Draco didn't have a choice. They were bullied and threatened into acting for Voldemort."
"Even so, I'm not sure it's a good idea for you to get mixed up with them, Hermione," Harry said diplomatically. While he agreed with Hermione that Narcissa and Draco had been backed into a corner regarding Voldemort, he didn't think it was wise to get mixed up with them.
"May I remind you that Narcissa saved your life," Hermione said. "Surely that earns her the right to be given a chance to prove she's changed."
"She only saved Harry to get to her precious son," Ron spat. "She didn't help him because it was the right thing to do."
"She didn't have to lie to Voldemort," Hermione argued. "She could have told him Harry was still alive once she found out that Draco was still alive. She helped Harry so that he had a chance to defeat Voldemort, and give us all a chance of living a normal life."
"Think what you want Hermione, we all know the Malfoys are bad news," Ron retorted. "I bet their change of heart only lasts a few months, possibly a few years if they're desperate. The minute people have accepted them back into the fold and forgiven them their past, they'll be back to their old ways."
"Enough," Ginny called, raising her hands and stopping Hermione and Ron from breaking into a full on argument. "This isn't about the Malfoys. Hermione was telling us about what Kingsley wants her to do, and what it will involve."
Hermione shot Ginny a grateful smile as she explained that Kingsley had registered her and Narcissa as the trustees of the charity, and they would be finalising just what the charity did and organising a base to work from. They would also be raising money and awareness as they got the charity up and running.
"And you're going to do all this in between your school work?" Molly asked with a disbelieving look on her face. Even though Hermione was bright, she doubted she could manage to complete her N.E.W.T.S while fussing on setting up a major charity.
"No, I'm not going to be returning to school," Hermione answered. "I'm focusing my energies on the charity."
"Well isn't that just charming," Ron spat, glaring angrily at Hermione. "We've spent the last few months trying to convince you that you don't need to return to school, but you were insistent. Now Kingsley wants you to help Narcissa bloody Malfoy, and you're dropping out of school without a second thought."
"You wanted me to join you in Auror training, something I didn't want to do," Hermione argued. "However, this is something I want to be involved with. I can make a difference with this charity."
"You didn't have to join us in Auror training," Harry shot back. "You could have taken a job anywhere in the Ministry. We were just pointing out you didn't need to go back to school."
"Yeah, you could have gotten a job fighting for the rights of House Elves, or have you forgotten all about them now the Malfoy bitch wants your help," Ron added with a cruel sneer on his face.
"No, I have not forgotten about House Elves," Hermione replied in a tight voice. "I just think this project is a better use of my time right now."
"You do know they're just using you, don't you?" Ron snapped.
"What do you mean, using me?" Hermione asked in confusion.
"You don't really think you've got any skills they want, do you?" Ron questioned with a bitter laugh. "Wake up, Hermione, they're using your status as a war heroine. This whole charity thing is a vanity project to make the Malfoys look like decent people. They're just using you to help them get a bit of publicity. Think about it, not only are the Malfoys helping poor children, they're also working with a mudblood, and therefore they must have changed."
"Ronald," Molly scolded, frowning at her son for his use of language. "We don't use that word in this house."
"Sorry Mum," Ron apologised. "But I was just highlighting my point to Hermione."
"I got your point all right," Hermione seethed. "You think I'm stupid enough to allow myself to be used in such a way."
"No, I think you're naive enough to allow yourself to be manipulated by the likes of the Malfoys," Ron shot back.
"I am not being manipulated by anyone," Hermione insisted. "Kingsley asked me to join the project as he thought I could bring something useful to proceedings."
"Yeah, your name and status as a war heroine," Ron scoffed.
"I have to say, I think Ron's right," Harry said, causing Hermione to look at him in shock.
"You think I'm being used?" Hermione questioned.
"I think you've been drafted into this for the publicity," Harry replied. "I'm sure if Ron and I were available, they would have tried to rope one of us into it. Face it Hermione, you're nothing but a publicity stunt."
"How dare you," Hermione spat as she got to her feet. "You both come off as jealous just because I've been asked to be a part of something and you haven't."
"Who would want to be a part of a charity involving Narcissa Malfoy?" Ron scoffed. "I would have told the bitch just where she could have shoved her so called charity."
"That's because you're a heartless bastard, who cares for nothing but himself," Hermione seethed. "All you're bothered about is playing the part of the big war hero. You're not interested in helping the wizarding world recover."
"That's bullshit," Ron shouted, getting to his feet and leaning across the table and glaring at Hermione. "I am helping. I'm going to become an Auror so I can keep the world safe."
"And what have you done these last few months?" Hermione retorted. "You've sat around at home, doing nothing. You weren't up at Hogwarts helping with the rebuild like most of your brothers."
"I was recovering from the war," Ron argued. "In case you missed it, we spent nearly a year running around the country chasing down bloody Horcruxes."
"Some of us did, someone of us took off at the first sign of trouble," Hermione shot back in anger. She never brought up the time Ron had abandoned her and Harry during their Horcrux hunt, but she was mad and when she was mad she tended to say things she wouldn't normally admit to thinking. "Face it Ron, you abandoned us without a second thought. Then again, you're good at turning your back on people, aren't you?"
"And just what is that supposed to mean?" Ron demanded as he turned a nasty shade of red.
"Just take fourth year for example. You didn't stick by Harry when he was entered into the Triwizard Tournament. All you were bothered about was being overshadowed by him yet again, so you took the hick and turned your back on your best friend when he needed you," Hermione replied.
"That was a long time ago, and we've moved past that," Harry said, jumping in before things got out of hand.
"Suit yourself," Hermione said with a sigh as she turned to leave the kitchen. "I've had enough of this arguing. I've made my decision, and you can either accept it or not. Right now, I really don't care either way."
"That's right, run off when things don't go your way," Ron mocked. "Honestly, Hermione, you're pathetic."
Stopping in her tracks, Hermione turned back to face Ron, anger blazing in her brown eyes. "I'm pathetic? I'm not the one who follows around his best friend like a sheep. Do you have any idea what you want to do with your life, Ronald, or are you just happy to follow in Harry's footsteps and live in his shadow? We all know the only reason you're going into Auror training is because it's what Harry wants to do. You're so pathetic, you don't even have any career goals of your own."
"Don't you dare speak to my son like that," Molly exploded, rounding on Hermione before anyone had a chance to say anything. "I've always known you were no good, and this just proves it. You're a horrid girl, and you're no longer welcome in my house."
"Don't worry, I won't stay here a moment longer," Hermione replied, not at all surprised when no-one came to her defence. "I'll pack my bags and be off."
"Good," Ron spat. "Go and do your precious charity work. After all, you'd probably not be able to handle a proper job at the Ministry. Running around after Narcissa Malfoy is all you're good for."
"I'd cope with a proper job a lot better than you'll handle being an Auror," Hermione returned. "Don't forget, neither of you are qualified to even take the training. Kingsley made an exception for the pair of you. Truth be told, neither of you should be taking the training, and as for you Ron, you're only taking the training because you're Harry's best friend. At least Harry's proved himself against dark wizards, which is more than you have."
"Get out, now!" Molly spat.
"And don't come back," Ginny added, joining after a long time of remaining silent. "We never want to see you again."
"Does that go for all of you?" Hermione asked, turning to Harry. She knew Ron was so angry he would likely only hurl more insults, but she wasn't sure where Harry stood in all of this mess.
"Yes, it does," Harry said in a quiet voice. "I'm sorry Hermione, but you've made your choice. You would rather be a publicity stunt for the Malfoys then stand with your friends. We're better off without you."
Hermione nodded once before turning and stalking up the stairs. Quickly packing her bags, she left The Burrow without looking back. She slightly regretted some of the things she said, but it had all been hovering around in the back of her head for some time. Maybe it was inevitable that she would fall out with Harry and Ron now there was nothing for them to be united against. After all, why would they need her now Voldemort was gone and the wizarding world was returning to safety once again? Hermione had always felt that when the time came, she would be disposed of, and sure enough it had happened. Granted, she might have helped herself along with some of the things she said, but at the end of the day Harry and Ron had let go of their friendship without a fight. Now it was time for her to move on and live her life without Harry and Ron at her side.