Hermione Granger and the Paradigm Shift
A/N: To set the stage, this story starts very soon after Ron hooks up with Lavender and Hermione sets the birds on him in anger. A few days later in canon Ron makes fun of Hermione in class, sending her running out of the room. In HBP Harry goes to find her and along the way runs into Luna and subsequently ends up asking her to Slughorn's party. In this story instead of stopping to ask Luna to the party, Harry continues to look for Hermione and...well, you'll see.
The first section is pulled directly from HBP so it is from Harry's perspective. In addition there are a few more small bits of dialogue in this chapter taken straight from HBP as well. All parts taken from JK's work are denoted by a *.
The remainder of the story will be entirely my words and entirely from Hermione's point of view. I will be doing my best to keep everyone in character as much as possible so if I pull this off successfully there will be no over the top bashing or out of character dramatics. If you've read my prior story you should have a pretty good idea what you are in for.
I hope you enjoy!
It now seemed impossible that Ron and Hermione would make up with each other before the holidays began, but perhaps, somehow, the break would give them time to calm down, think better of their behavior…
But his hopes were not high, and they sank still lower after enduring a Transfiguration lesson with them both the next day. They had just embarked upon the immensely difficult topic of human Transfiguration: working in front of mirrors, they were supposed to be changing the color of their own eyebrows. Hermione laughed unkindly at Ron's disastrous first attempt, during which he somehow managed to give himself a spectacular handlebar mustache; Ron retaliated by doing a cruel but accurate impression of Hermione jumping up and down in her seat every time Professor McGonagall asked a question, which Lavender and Parvati found deeply amusing and which reduced Hermione to the verge of tears again. She raced out of the classroom on the bell, leaving half her things behind; Harry, deciding that her need was greater than Ron's just now, scooped up her remaining possessions and followed her.*
Hermione cursed her emotions as she realized history was repeating itself in all the worst ways. She was, once again, wiping away tears in a toilet and, once again, Ron Weasley was the cause. As much as she had grown, as much as their relationship had evolved, she felt like she had been been thrown violently back to that wretched starting point in first year. Based on how much she had learned over that time she was fairly confident she could now handle a mountain troll. But these feelings toward Ron and the rejection she felt...there hadn't been a spell invented that could help her battle that monster...and Harry couldn't save her this time.
'Enough of this,' she muttered to herself as she exited the stall and began splashing water on her face. She was done hiding in toilets. She would not let him win. In an instant she resolved to ask McLaggen to be her date for Professor Slughorn's party. A few hours of suffering in the company of the egotistical neanderthal would be worth it just to see the look on Ron's face when he found out who she was going with. Hopefully she could ditch the buffoon quickly and spend the rest of the night talking to Harry or Ginny.
As she made her way to the exit Luna Lovegood entered.
"Hello," the Ravenclaw greeted her pleasantly before becoming worried. "Are you alright? Has Myrtle been harassing you?"
Hermione marvelled at Luna's perceptiveness before realizing that the water and a bit of magic had fixed the tears but had done nothing to remove the scowl from her face.
"Hello, Luna," she replied as she furiously fought the desire to cry again. "It's not Myrtle and I'm fine...well I'm not fine but it's nothing new and nothing you can help with. It's just Ron teasing me again. I should be used to it by now I suppose..."
Blast it all, she was crying again.
Before she could compose herself Luna pulled her into a hug, causing the tears to begin falling in earnest. "I'm sorry," she muttered helplessly, simultaneously furious at her weakness and grateful for the release.
"I'm sure he didn't mean it," Luna said softly as she patted her back, "though I'm not sure that makes it any better. He will probably sort himself out some day."
Hermione chuckled as she pulled back and managed a weak smile. "You're probably right but I won't hold my breath," she lied. She'd been holding her breath for over five years now.
"That's probably wise," Luna replied serenely as she followed Hermione toward the exit.
"Don't you need to use the loo?" Hermione asked.
"It's all right, I can wait for a bit," Luna calmly replied. "I would have liked someone to be there when I've had a cry."
Hermione struggled to come up with a proper reply to the girl's unique brand of honesty. She was saved from answering as she spotted Harry bounding toward them.
"Oh, hello, Harry," said Luna. "Did you know one of your eyebrows is yellow?"*
Harry briefly glanced at Luna before his worried gaze settled on her. "Hi, Luna. Hermione, you left your stuff-"*
"Oh yes," she choked out as she subtly tried to wipe her eyes free of tears once again. She'd been reduced to a simpering mess in front of Harry too many times in the last few days and his piteous look was too much for her to handle.
"Thank you, Harry. Well, I'd better get going…"* she muttered, having no idea where she needed to be going. She simply needed to get away, as quickly as possible.
She ducked into the nearest classroom available after she was out of eyeshot and angrily threw her things on a nearby desk. Not for the first time in the term she realized she was unnecessarily dismissive of Harry and cursed her own stubbornness. He only wanted to help.
She had let Luna help but for some reason letting Harry help further was a bridge too far. She was supposed to help him. She was supposed to track him down when he was upset and angry. He needed her to keep him on task and to make sure he made good decisions. He had too many things on his plate already and she would not add her hormonal nonsense into the mix.
She sank into a nearby chair and buried her head in her hands. She simply needed a few minutes to center herself and then she would track down McLaggen. With any luck she could find him before dinner and then drop the bombshell on Ron in the Great Hall that night.
She'd not even begun to calm down before the classroom door was flung open and Harry's head peeked through. The look of relief when he saw her offset her anger at being tracked down so quickly.
"Hermione!" he exclaimed, "stop running away."
"I'm not running away!" she lied furiously, cringing inwardly as she realized how stupid she sounded.
"Really?" he asked bemusedly. "You needed to 'get going' to this empty room? Must have been really important," he teased.
"Fine," she replied, trying to push back at the smile his comment had elicited. "Well done, you caught me running away. What do you want?"
She watched as Harry opened his mouth to speak before closing it again. After a few seconds he finally responded. "Err...I wanted to ask you for help on that Potions essay due tomorrow."
Her heart warmed at how determined Harry was being in trying to help without having to admit it. He was rubbish at it but that was beside the point.
"If you really want to help than you should speak up when your friend is being an arse," she replied, sounding much harsher than she had intended. She seemed to be doing that a lot to Harry this term.
Harry bowed his head in contrition. "Ron was out of line back there and I reckon I'll have a word with him later."
"About time," she muttered unthinkingly. Why did she keep doing that? Harry was here...trying to help. He didn't deserve any of her ire.
Her thinly veiled insult seemed to spark something in Harry as his face became much more determined.
"Since you've mentioned telling my friends when they are wrong," he began calmly, "you were out of line setting those birds on Ron."
"He deserved it," she replied angrily. He was supposed to be supporting her.
"Ron was a git after the Yule Ball but he didn't attack you," he continued on to her utter annoyance. "You've no right to be mad at him for dating Lavender. He didn't go about it in the best of ways and they are a bit ridiculous in public but he can date whoever he wants."
"And you have no idea what it's like," she replied sadly. "Watching him carrying on like that...and with Lavender of all people."
As annoyed as she was at Harry for criticizing her it felt good to have it out in the open. She had tiptoed around verbalizing her growing feelings for Ron for so long around Harry that the release was cathartic. She felt her frustration receding just a bit and began to calm.
"I have an idea what it's like," he muttered quietly as he slumped down into the seat across from her.
"Ginny?" she asked tentatively, already knowing the answer. She'd noticed the furtive looks he'd been throwing Ginny's way the last few months. Hermione hated to admit it but he had been much more mature and subtle about handling his heartache than she had been.
"Yeah…" he tiredly replied as he stared at the desk. "And I have no right to be angry at her or to sic a flock of bloody birds at her or Dean. Seriously, Hermione, if I had done something like that you would have been outraged."
He was right. She'd known it was wrong immediately but hearing Harry say it out loud drove it home. She felt a few tears forming again but she didn't fight them this time. She felt Harry clumsily reach for her hand and she let him take hold. No matter what happened with Ron it was heartening to know that she had Harry in her life.
"You're right," she conceded after she had gathered herself. "But don't expect me to apologize to Ronald any time soon. Some day, maybe...but not any time soon."
He chuckled at her reply and nodded in agreement. "Yeah, that would probably be best. He'd just say something stupid and you'd conjure a dragon or something."
"Don't give me any ideas," she replied with a snort. She realized Harry's eyebrow was still yellow and quickly pulled out her wand to fix it. "That was really well done on the transfiguration, Harry," she complimented as she changed it back to its normal black. "That yellow was the exact shade McGonagall asked for."
"Thanks. I didn't get it as quickly as you though," he replied before standing and looking at his watch.
"It's almost time for dinner. I reckon you'd want to give a pass on the Great Hall tonight. Fancy eating in the kitchen?"
As much as she wanted to rub her plan in Ron's face she realized how much better she felt after talking to Harry. An extended break from the drama and emotions was exactly what she needed.
"I think that is an excellent idea," Hermione replied as she stood to leave and gathered her things. "Thanks, Harry," she commented. She made a mental note to thank Luna as well the next time she saw her.
"S'all right," he muttered as they headed out the door. "So, can we review Potions after dinner?"
Dinner with Harry had done a wonderful job in calming her down and putting things in perspective. She was now in a much more relaxed state of mind to talk to McLaggen and set her plan in motion. She'd applied a bit more Sleekeazy's than normal, put on a bit of makeup, and was ready to go.
As she descended the stairs, Hermione quickly scanned the common room and was disappointed to not see Cormac anywhere. The slag was attached to the moron at the lips on a nearby couch and she spotted Harry across the room at a nearby table. She watched as Harry quickly stowed away his Potions book upon spotting her. She knew he only asked her for help as a distraction from the moron...he hadn't needed help with Potions all term due to his cheating..but she honestly appreciated the effort. He'd even taken the seat facing Ron so she could have her back to the disgusting hijinks taking place.
As she took a seat Harry shot her a weak smile and slid a long piece of parchment across the table. "I've got most of it done but if you could check the- Did you do something to your hair?"
She unconsciously smoothed her hair and did her best to appear casual. "Thought I'd try changing up my routine a bit. If it's too much-"
"No!" he quickly interrupted, "it's nice." He leaned forward and spoke in a whisper. "It's just...it looked fine before and I don't think you should change it just for him."
"I didn't change it for Ron," she lied. She hadn't changed it for him, she'd changed it for Cormac to annoy him. That was entirely different.
"Well, that's all right then," Harry replied. She could tell he didn't believe her but was grateful he didn't dwell on it.
She quickly started reading through Harry's essay on potential ingredients to be used in healing potions and felt her fury grow. It was virtually perfect. He had covered all of the relevant points, added in a few ancillary facts to provide further detail, and had done so in roughly half the amount of parchment it had taken her. It would be brilliant if it hadn't been fraudulent.
Hermione looked up to see Harry had busied himself by changing his fingernails to Gryffindor scarlet and gold. Despite herself she was impressed as she watched him cast left handed to give his right hand a matching set.
"I wouldn't change a thing, Harry. But I suppose that's to be expected seeing as the Prince supplied all the answers."
Harry's eyes shot from his handiwork to look at her. He seemed to be trying to push down the anger her words had caused. She felt a bit bad for provoking him after how nice he'd been but it wouldn't be right to let him get away with cheating.
"I didn't use the Prince's book," he stated with forced calm.
"Please," she scoffed, "you must think I'm-"
Her monologue was interrupted as Harry pulled out a much newer looking version of their Potions book and dropped it on the table. "I used Ron's book as a reference. I did it for you…I wanted you to have some things to correct and add so you could get your mind off of Ron and Lavender. I guess I've learned enough about potions already this year thanks to the Prince."
She folded her arms in disbelief. "If that were the case how on earth would you know to suggest Occamy shells could be added to speed up the healing effects? I know for a fact that isn't covered in the standard text. It's rarely mentioned because-"
"The cost of the silver component in the shells makes it impractical to be used for healing potions," Harry interrupted. The Prince made a note about the silver in their shells helping with disinfecting wounds and the cost-"
"So you admit it then," she interrupted triumphantly. "You did need help."
Harry pulled the parchment from her hands and began gathering his things. "I read that two months ago for a different potion and applied what I learned to this assignment. What I learned, Hermione.
"Just forget it," Harry muttered and stood up to leave.
"Wait!" she blurted, pulling on his arm. "Just wait...please," she finished in a quieter tone.
She pinched the bridge of her nose and took a deep breath. Harry didn't deserve any of her nonsense at the moment. He was being very considerate and, most infuriatingly, he had a point. "I'm sorry," she grit out.
Harry slowly sat back down and began pulling out his things again. "S'all right," he said kindly, "I reckon you've had a pretty bad week. If you'd like I could check over your essay. You know...give you some tips on how to improve it."
She let out a small laugh and relaxed once again. "Don't push your luck, Potter," she warned. Why couldn't it be this easy with Ron?
As if on cue Cormac Mclaggen strolled through the portrait hole. This was the perfect opportunity to ask him to the party and Ron would have a front row seat.
"Hermione, could you give me a hand?"
She looked to see Harry once again holding his wand in his left hand and pointing it at his fingernails. "I think I got lucky getting it to work and now I can't get them turned back."
She glanced back at Cormac and realized he was staring at her. He apparently had noticed the little bit extra she had done to her appearance and clearly approved. He shot her a smile and she fought the urge to vomit.
"Hermione?" Harry called once again and held up his hand.
"Oh, right...sorry," she replied as she pulled out her wand and quickly fixed his nails.
"Brilliant. Thanks, Hermione," Harry replied with a grin before continuing to practice.
Hermione smiled to herself as she watched his nails now alternating between green and silver. Apparently he had moved onto the Slytherin colors. "Not bad, Harry," she complimented.
"It really brings out my eyes don't you think?" he joked as he held up his hand and displayed his work.
She laughed and realized there was a much better, much saner option than having to spend an evening with Cormac. "Harry, have you found a date for Professor Slughorn's party yet?"
"No," he grunted out as he continued practicing. He'd moved onto the Ravenclaw colors now.
"Would you like to go with me? As friends?" she asked hopefully.
"Yes!" he blurted, clearly relieved that he could stop worrying about the task. "You're a lifesaver, Hermione."
Hermione realized she was just as relieved and smiled. "Have you been able to manage violet? That one gave me a bit of trouble."
Harry scrunched his face in concentration and cast the spell, causing a large shock of purple hair to sprout on the back of his hand.
"Well, it's violet. I suppose that's something," he joked as he reversed the effect.
She grabbed his wrist and moved his wand closer. "You need to be a bit more precise with your wand motion. That's what worked for me." As she guided his hand through the proper motion she immediately thought back to her overbearing instructions on how to pronounce Wingardium Leviosa...which made her think of Ron...which annoyed her.
But this was Harry. He listened to her advice intently and tried again, producing a deep violet hue on his thumbnail.
"A Ha!" he exclaimed in triumph.
Despite the many things they had in common Hermione was immensely grateful that Harry was, quite often, nothing like Ron.
A/N: If you are a fan of the Harmony pairing I strongly encourage you to join the Discord at discord dot gg/2GcXw8R. It's chock full of great people and is a great resource for finding the best Harry/Hermione fics out there.