disclaimer: I am hereby proclaiming the widely known fact of me not owning the works of J.K. Rowling.
a/n: I was going to continue with The Secrets-fic, but somehow, this just popped up. (It doesn't mean I wouldn't finish The Secrets, this just came in the way, now) It's something I thought of while writing No Means to Use the Stove, but the idea didn't really fit into that plot line. I could have made it an Anna-tale, but then I thought of Hermione and Hogwarts, A History and I couldn't resist. It's also a R/Hr –fic, as the pair of them just fits so nicely into this particular concept. This won't be a long fic; at first I thought to make it only a one shot, then it seemed to get two or maybe three chapters long, and now I guess it'll be 7-9 chapters. Just a bit of fluff and angst and pondering on a certain book.
Footnotes and Marginalia
Sighing, she reached for her favourite book, Hogwarts, A History. On contrary of the beliefs Harry and especially – she smiled a little sadly at the thought – Ron held, the book hadn't always been her favourite one. When she had first read it, at the age of eleven, she had found it fascinating almost merely for its subject. The book itself wasn't very alluring: its language was complex, its sentences endless and itscontent unquestionably and unflinchingly pertinent.
Regardless of the book's qualities for which anyone else would have labeled it simply deadly boring, Hermione had again and again attacked the unapproachable source of knowledge over her school. At first it had been because she was nervous; she was eleven, for Heaven's sake, and not only moving away from home, but also away from her world, to an unknown reality.
Hogwarts, A History had, in all its boringness, given her security and made her feel safe. Unlike the nice, approachable leaflets with their moving wizarding pictures and easily understandable contexts that had been sent to her and her parents, the brick of a book had felt real and solid; its complexity being only an extra evidence of its accuracy and authority. Surely, with the knowledge a book like that could offer, she would be ready to tackle this whole new universe!
When she had arrived at Hogwarts, she had been overwhelmed. Not only by all the wonders she had expected but hadn't really been able to imagine, but also by the students: children her age that had lived with magic all their lives. Against her expectations, she had been placed in Gryffindor and had suddenly been surrounded by vivacious and loud crowd very unlike herself. The other Muggle-borns had been just as outgoing as the children with wizarding heritage – how was that possible, she couldn't understand.
She had been so nervous herself, and so hesitant over maybe not being able to adjust to magic and to her House, that she had resorted to her familiar and safe strategy of defence: she had started to show off. She did have something to show off, after all. She had been astonished but secretly pleased to notice that not even the pureblood students had read all their schoolbooks in advance – and nobody had read Hogwarts, A History. So, Hermione Granger had, once again, been in the position she had gotten very familiar with since her early childhood: she knew more than her peers.
It didn't console her much, though. Having no friends hadn't been so bad in her previous school, as she had still had her older cousins that lived nearby and she could talk about anything with her parents, who were proud to treat their clever and mature firstborn like an equal. At Hogwarts, there were no-one she could go to after the classes. Only the same indifferent, uninterested or plain rude classmates whose conduct she suffered during the day.
Those first, lonely weeks at Hogwarts' School of Witchcraft and Wizardry had been the second time she had drowned herself into the endlessly ennuing contexts of Hogwarts, A History. The more often she read the book, the more bits of interesting information she could dig out of its pages. The author of the book had seemingly meant only the most intrigued people to find out anything special: all the truly fascinating information was buried in the footnotes or hidden in the unbelievably long paragraphs about the composition of the mortar in the wall of the third corridor of the left wing. It really wasn't a miracle that any other students hadn't gotten acquainted with Hermione's choice of comfort reading.
The fact that only she had read the book increased the amount of comfort it offered her. Maybe it was a bitter comfort, though: a when I'm so different that no-one wants to be with me, I'll be even more different from them! – kind of comfort. The fact that she suspected no other eleven-year-old even could read the book with all its Old English vocabulary (when she had first tried to read it, she had had to check every third word up in her concise dictionary of English and every fourth one in The Encyclopedia Maciga, and half of the times she couldn't even guess which reference book she should consult first) and ambiguous sentence-structure, only made it still more consoling.
Ever since those first weeks at Hogwarts, she had sought comfort from Hogwarts, A History when ever she had been feeling down. Still, the book hadn't been her favourite. Her favourite books were the ones that carried a different kind of magic; the ones that made her cry or laugh aloud; the ones she could almost forget weren't true; the ones whose characters she could imagine meeting the next day, not remembering they weren't real people. Yes, Hermione Granger loved knowledge, but even more she loved stories. She would more often read for information than for pleasure, and she could draw out interesting details, even from Hogwarts, A History, but fascinating knowledge alone didn't make a book her favourite.
Still, as she now reached for Hogwarts, A History, after another row with ever so thick-headed Ron Weasley, she recognized the book as her favourite. When had that happened and how?
It had been quite simple, really. One day during her sixth year, she had just learnt what it meant to be able to read between the lines.
She was left alone in the Sixth year girls' dormitory when Lavender and Parvati giggling disappeared down the stairs to spend the evening with their respective boyfriends. Hermione sighed and tried to concentrate on her Transfiguration essay, but somehow it wasn't as easy as usually. She couldn't help feeling...inadequate in some way.
No, she didn't want to be like Parvati or Lavender, their heads filled with only boys and glamour-spells, but she couldn't help wondering if there was something amiss with her, when no boys ever asked her to Hogsmeade – or even on study dates, which would have been quite an easy way to get to spend some time alone with her. Had she been a boy interested in herself, she would have asked her help with a Transfiguration essay, for example, and thus gotten her separated from Harry and Ron and thus gotten an opportunity to get to know her better and thus... But as no boy had asked her, it probably meant no boy was interested in her.
No-one after Viktor, that is, and even that was one lousy ball two years ago, and he probably just had a very peculiar taste when it came to girls. He wasn't an usual person otherwise either, so that was highly predictable. He had been an exception that confirmed the rule of no boys ever asking Hermione Granger out.
It was no big deal, she said to herself. She was only sixteen years old, she had time for boyfriends and things like that later. There were so many other, more important matters to occupy oneself with at the moment. NEWTs were only a year away and more importantly, there was Voldemort to think about. Not even to mention the fact that no matter how nice it would have been if someone had asked her to Hogsmeade, she knew too damn well there was really only one single boy she would have wanted to go with – and he was the one she was going with in any case. Only just as friends and with Harry along.
Boys just found her intimidating, she told herself, as her mother had told her the previous summer. Boys found her intimidating because of her intelligence and because she was so strong-minded and so powerful a witch and because her best friends were boys and she didn't go about giggling with other girls and flirting with boys. They would come around later, when they were more mature, (maybe Viktor had just been mature instead of an exception of the rule?) and then they would appreciate her for exactly the same reasons for which they now felt wary of her .
Nevermind what she told herself, the one thing raising on the foreground of her mind was the creeping suspicion that maybe there would never come a time when boys and especially the one boy would consider her as someone to take on a date. Maybe there really was something amiss with her. Maybe she just wasn't pretty enough. Maybe she couldn't really act like a girl. Hermione sighed and felt tears pricking in her eyes.
Wallowing in self-pity over something so frivolous was somehow consoling. In a way, it was almost comforting to be worrying about something so...normal instead of Dark Marks and Death Eaters. Admittedly, there hadn't yet been much signs of the Dark activity this year. It was like Voldemort was lying low for the moment, probably only for a moment, but lying low, anyhow. And as he was, Hermione could worry over less important, normal things. Sighing, partly for annoyance and partly for weird contentment, she reached her hand for her choice of comfort reading, Hogwarts, A History.
Absentmindedly, she leafed through the pages, until she came across a familiar chapter. It was one dealing with the overall layout of the castle and she had read it anew just a couple of weeks ago. That was when she had discovered some interesting information buried in the footnotes. Hermione set herself into search for the particular footnotes, but for her utmost surprise, she couldn't find them!
It wasn't like there weren't any footnotes at all, they were there alright, but they weren't the same ones as before! As she was staring at the page, something in the tiny little wizarding photograph in the corner of the page suddenly moved. The photographs in Hogwarts, A History very seldom moved much, as they were mostly of originally still objects or then of some so old and stiff wizards and witches that they didn't bother to move in their pictures. But this picture, a portrait of Orion Grubbly, who was introduced as the magical masonry master of the corridors of Hogwarts, had suddenly, not only moved, but actually smiled! And smiled at Hermione. Then he winked and pointed at the bottom of the page.
Hermione let her eyes follow the potrait's finger and found that a completely new footnote had appeared under the text.
Hermione grinned fondly at Mr. Grubbly when remembering the first time he had smiled at her. At the time, the new footnote had only stated: As the masonry master of all the corridors of Hogwarts, Mr. Orion Grubbly certainly knows every little secret passage in the whole school. Maybe the reader would like to know more about them?
Over time, there had first been more footnotes from Mr. Grubbly, each written with a lighter style and more mischief than the previous ones. Then, several of the other pictures had started to move, too. Every one of them had their own style when addressing her and they all had different secrets and intriguing gossip to engage her in. It was almost like the photographs and portraits would have liked to compensate the author's poor sense of drama and rebel against his editing the school's history in a way that left out all the juicy details. Or maybe it was the author himself that only believed people weren't worthy of knowing those details unless they had properly proved themselves to be interested in the tedious facts, too. Well, Hermione certainly had, and nevermind (although she naturally did, she was a curious person, after all) which was the case, she was now trusted with the true secrets of Hogwarts, A History.
After a couple of months, Hermione never knew what to expect when she opened the book Some parts of it never changed, naturally. All the tedious details and figures were there to stay as was the most noteworthy information. Only there was so much more.
More often than once, Hermione had been the object of many extremely curious and wondering eyes, as she had laughed aloud or blushed scarlet when sitting in the Common Room reading the book easily winning the competition for the most boring volume in the world. Well, if they had known that for Hermione, the book in question had, for example, and in a detailed manner, listed all the great scandals concerning the school's teachers' sexual behaviour since 896 A.D, they would maybe have looked at her even more baffled. After all, it was a well known fact that the Head Girl of Hogwarts wasn't amused by such things.
At the moment, Hermione was sitting in her usual place in the Common Room. The fire was blazing in the fireplace and the Common Room was almost deserted. Harry was somewhere with Ginny, as they started dating a few months earlier, and Ron...Ron was somewhere with somebody, too. She didn't want to know whom. That had been the reason for their earlier fight. No, not the fact he was seeing someone, although that didn't really make her happy either, but that she didn't want to know who it was.
Over the last year, Ron had developed an overly-annoying and downright insulting habit of always introducing all his current love-interests to Hermione and then wishing for her opinion and acceptance of them. As if meeting her was some kind of procedure required before a girl could be deemed worthy of dating one Ronald Bilius Weasley! She was sick of it. She was sick of being seen as a big sister or a surrogate-Mum or a best mate with some convenient female instincts! Especially as most of the girls Ron brought to her were just using him to test-drive their newly acquired womanly powers. Or that was how Hermione saw it.
The Great Council of the Real Teenage Girls of the Castle of Hogwarts (an association Hermione hadn't gotten an invitation to join) had recently deemed Ronald Weasley cute. When in addition to that, it had been found that he only blushed and stuttered whenever an attractive girl tried to flirt with him, he was, indeed, an easy prey for the young women in need of practise.
Every other week some Hufflepuff or Ravenclaw would come with their eyes all large and shining and chirp out: Oh, Ron, would you come with me to Hogwarts / library / walk around the lake. I would so love it if you would! Yes, they didn't even know the proper use of conditional, for Heaven's sake! And Ron's ears would blush scarlet and he would mumble something incoherent as if it was totally unexpected that someone could be interested in him. Honestly, one would think he would realize after three of those missies that he actually was quite attractive! Not to mention that someone much nearer to him had thought so for quite a long time already.
And under-estimating oneself certainly wasn't a good enough reason to actually go on dates with those girls! Well, at least Hermione hoped that was the reason Ron went. He couldn't really like any of those girls, could he now? Those girls that would get jealous over her and Ron's other female friends! Honestly, who in their right mind would do that! Everybody had the right to have friends! (Here, Hermione conveniently forgot she was Ron's only real female friend as well as the fact that the girls really had something to get jealous about, at least if it was her feelings that counted.) Ron couldn't have liked any of them! Not when they dumped him by letting their friends come and tell him, or sending a note via owl-post! A Gryffindor would never had done that! (At least not a Gryffindor like herself.)
No, Ron couldn't have liked any of them. But maybe he liked the one he was now somewhere with.
Hermione sighed and leafed through Hogwarts, A History. Actually, she wasn't so much leafing as making herself believe she was acting randomly while in reality searching for one particular photogarph of one particular witch. She had presented some pretty useful information earlier and even though Hermione knew all problems couldn't be solved in the library or with a book, she wasn't in the library at the moment, and Hogwarts, A History wasn't just any book.
It was a book with a lot of lines to read between.
There. Hope you enjoyed it. Comments of all sorts are very welcome.