DISCLAIMER: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by JK Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros., Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended.
I own nothing but a dog named Lucky, some would say that she owns me.
It was early August. School was to start in three weeks time. While most students were unworried by the start of term, indeed, many enjoying the dog days of summer, one young witch certainly wasn't.
Hermione Granger was entering her 7th, and final year at Hogwarts, a school for witchcraft and wizardry. As the first witch in her family, Hermione learned all she could about magic from books and classes. This particular morning, Hermione was taking advantage of her parent's absence to review for the upcoming term. She was sitting outside in the back patio, enjoying the light breeze fragrant with the lavender, the last of the blooms clinging to bush, wilted and drooping. Her blanket spread under the shade of the maple tree her parents had planted the year she was born. She sprawled out, different books open, her pen flying over parchment as she made notes of her texts. Tendrils of long hair had escaped the plait and blew about her face without her notice.
As the day progressed, and the notes that Hermione was taking filled several pages, it became apparent as she closed her last text that it was beyond time to eat something. She stood, stretching her arms over her head, and easing the dull ache in her shoulders from propping herself up in the ground. The shadows were encroaching on the backyard as morning sidled into afternoon. Hermione opened the sliding glass door and headed into the kitchen. She grabbed a soda from the fridge, and put together a quick sandwich, her movements sure and quick. She took her plate and headed over to the breakfast nook to enjoy the sunshine while she ate. As she set her plate down, the ringing of the doorbell surprised her. She wasn't expecting anyone, and she was sure her parents would have informed her of any packages that needed signing for. With a frown marring her features she headed for the door.
John Banning wasn't a rookie. As a policeman this was one duty he hated. He waited patiently on the stoop of a middle-class two storey home in a suburb not far from his own. Soft footsteps could be heard approaching the door. A few moments later a young woman was looking at him quizzically through the screen.
"Yes?" She asked. Little did she know that what he was about to say was going to change her life forever.
He cleared his throat. "Are you Miss Hermione Granger? At her nod, he continued. "You'll need to come with me, there's been an accident. ."
The morgue was cold. Hermione could hardly recall the ride, she knew that the officer had asked her questions, about what, she couldn't recall, it was of little importance. As he parked the car, Hermione noticed that the sky had become cloudy, and that a rare summer storm was forming. Numbly she followed the officer inside an unremarkable building.
Each step Hermione took brought her closer to a reality she didn't want to face. Her escort walked her into a cold room and walked over to what looked to be large filing drawers. The officer pulled one drawer out, and uncovered the face of the corpse that lay inside. He motioned for the young woman to come and identify the person. Hermione took a deep breath and looked at the corpse. It was her mother. Hair matted with dried blood, Hermione could see that she'd hit her head hard enough to fracture her skull, and that she probably died instantly. It was little comfort. She shut her eyes to the horrible site and whispered. "That's my mum."
And in this same manner she identified her father, a strange numbness overcame her.
Banning shut the drawer containing her father and escorted her out of the room. The green tiles on the floor and pale yellow walls did nothing to soothe Hermione. One moment she was fine, the next a feeling of nausea overcame her.
"Excuse me," Hermione said, "I need to use the restroom." Her eyes brimmed with unshed tears. Officer Banning felt an unusual protectiveness forming for the slightly odd girl. He guided her to the facilities and waited for her to finish. He hoped fervently that his family would never have to experience this.
Later that afternoon, Hermione was taken to the office of social workers. As a minor, a temporary guardian would need to be assigned. All of this was expained to her by the kindly policeman.
Hermione sat waiting on an ugly green chair that was rather worn and uncomfortable. She hardly noticed time passing as she picked at the loose threads on the arm. After some time she was summoned in to a rather cramped office by a kind looking older woman.
"Your relations live outside the country, is that correct?" The woman asked. At Hermione's startled nod, she continued. "Your 18th birthday is also approaching, is that correct?" Again Hermione nodded.
"Have you any godparents or the like?" The woman questioned kindly. Silently Hermione shook her head.
"Well then, do you have any friends whose parents might take you in, just short term?" She asked. "Can we give any of them a ring?"
Hermione started to shake her head. All of her primary school friends she hadn't seen in years. Her wizarding friends' parents couldn't be reached by conventional methods. Certainly her friend Harry's family wouldn't take her. The thought of living with the Patil twins made her laugh. A bubble of hysterical laughter made its way out of her throat as she imagined asking to send an owl. The sound strangled in her throat as she had another thought as her eyes landed on the telephone. It was an older style one, and as Hermione though by inspiration, an idea was planted in her brain..
"Yes, um, I think the Weasleys might have me, can I make a call first?" at the nod of the social worker Hermione picked up the telephone and surreptitiously dialed 6-2-4-4-2.
The line hummed in her ear for a moment, after several moments the line started to ring.
A misty voice came across the lines. "Thank you for calling the Ministry. How may I direct your call?
"Arthur Weasley, in the department of..." she was cut off by the voice saying,
"Thank-you" interrupted the voice. A series of chips and clicks later before the call was answered.
"Hello?" Came the voice of Ronald Weasley's father. Hermione was glad she could hear him so clearly across the magical connection.
"Mister Weasley, it's me, Hermione Granger." She paused to collect herself. "I'm sorry to be c-calling you at work, but there's been an accident." her voice faltered. "My parents…"she inhaled deeply, trying to steady herself, "are dead." A shuddering breath wracked her body as she tried to control her anguish. "I was wondering if I could stay with you for a few weeks." She finished lamely.
There was silence on the other end of the line. A dull humming could be heard as she waited; the second hand on the clock turned round and round. "Are you still there Mr. Weasley?" She asked, unsure if she lost the connection.
"What? Oh, um yes." He responded awkwardly. "Yes, yes, dear, you are more than welcome to come and stay with us." His voice sounded more certain with every word. "Molly wouldn't let me hear the end of it if I turned you away."
Relief flooded through Hermione. She had somewhere to stay. "You don't know how much this means to me." Hermione sniffed, wiping her nose on a tissue. The social worker indicated that she needed to speak to whomever it was the girl was speaking to, she held out her hand for the phone and Hermione passed it over to her.
"Hello. Mr. Weasley, is it?" The worker asked. "There is some paperwork that needs to be filled out, could you come down to my office?" she gave him the address and asked what time she could expect him. Arthur looked at his watch. He knew traveling took time in the muggle world, so he said, "20 minutes, if traffics' all right. I work here in the city." After hanging up the telephone the social worker looked at Hermione and said. "It's a terrible thing that's happened young miss, but I'm certain you'll come out of it just fine."
Hermione averted her eyes. She noticed the rubber starting to come loose from the bottom of her shoe. Her life would never be the same; it was almost insulting to hear these platitudes from this woman who knew nothing about her, or her family. She did not respond to her words. Instead, she sat lost in her own thoughts.
When the woman coughed a short while later, Hermione looked up.
"Would you mind waiting for Mr. Weasley out in the reception area dear? That way you can watch for his arrival, and I can start getting the paperwork in order." Hermione quicky stood and walked out of the office choosing a chair opposite of the lift.
Mr. Weasley made his excuses from work and apparated home. The boys were out in the apple orchard and Molly was busy preparing tea.
"Arthur!" She exclaimed, "What are you doing home?"
"Well, Molly…" He responded, carefully weighing his words, "I received a call from Hermione Granger. It seems her parents have been killed in some sort of muggle accident. She'll be staying with us the rest of summer."
"Oh! That's terrible" exclaimed his sensitive wife. "Of course she'll stay with us as long as she likes." She said firmly. "I had better go and clean Percy's old room." She set the tea aside with a small sigh and headed towards the winding stairs As she passed her husband he reached out and touched her arm.
"Um, Molly," Arthur began, "I apparently need to iron out the details with the muggle authorities." He paused for a moment then said, "Molly, don't say anything to the children. I think Hermione should talk about it when she's ready."
Molly nodded her agreement. Arthur kissed her cheek before disapparating with a small pop.
Moments later Arthur arrived at a tube station restroom that had muggle repelling charms placed upon it. He stepped out of the stall and was striding towards the exit when a gruff voice exclaimed "Where do you think you're going dressed like that?" Startled he paused and inspected his reflection. He quickly transfigured his robes for something suitable to wear in muggle London and passed through the door.
He walked briskly to the address he'd been given over the fellytone. His long legs ate up the distance in little time. It was quite ingenuous of her to call him at work, Arthur mused, as not many people knew that the ministry could be contacted by regular muggle telephone, and that she had done so was simply astounding. She certainly was one of the brightest witches' of her age.
As he neared his destination he checked the addresses. In moments he found the correct building. A rather large tall non-descript building whose entrance was guarded by sliding glass doors.
Arthur approached the sliding glass doors with trepidation. Arthur watched a few people enter and exit the building. The doors appeared to be opening and closing themselves, like magic.
He watched them for a moment fascinated at muggle technology. After several minutes he joined a group making their way in to the building. He looked over his shoulder behind him, the door slid shut. How marvelous!
He recognized the lift, even though it had no gate as he was used to, but large steel doors that opened and closed like a trap. He wondered how they ever got memos or mail that way.
He pressed the up arrow after consulting the directory on the wall.
Hermione watched her friends father step off the elevator. He was wearing slightly faded khaki pants, loafers and a white button down shirt. He looked so familiar in this unfamiliar place that she stood and flung herself into his arms.
Arthur held her, rubbing her back and listening to her incoherent sobs. His shirt became damp with her tears as she let out her anguish. He held her, allowing her to cry. He knew there was nothing he could say to make it right. After a few moments she stepped back from his embrace. Her eyes reddened and puffy, her face pale in the artificial light.
The middle-aged and rather matronly social worker noticed his arrival. She straightened up the file in front of her and tidied her desk for a few moments, wanting to give the grieving girl some time to pull herself together. She noted with approval that the man seemed to be respectable, and was offering her some comfort. He appeared to be a good sort.
Watching the girl step away from the man, the social worker stood. As Hermione stepped out of his embrace and gave him a tremulous smile. The worker called him by name.
"Mister Weasley?" She questioned. At the red-headed man's nod, she waved him over in her direction. "Bring Miss Granger with you to my office." She turned on her sensible heel and walked down the utilitarian carpet into her office.
Hermione sank weakly onto one of the chairs placed in front of the woman's desk. Arthur chose one next to her patting her comfortingly on the shoulder.
"Tell me, Mr. Weasley, how is it you are acquainted with this girl?" The matronly social worker, asked, pulling up forms on her computer. Arthur tried to see what she was doing as he found ekltronics fascinating. As the monitor was turned at an angle for her use, Arthur was foiled in his attempt to see. He sat back and addressed her question.
With her attention focused on her computer monitor, she couldn't see the silent communication that was taking place just outside her line of sight.
"Miss Granger attends school with two of my children. They are quite close friends." Arthur spoke calmly. The worker typed in this information. "Are you married, Mr. Weasley? If so, the name of your wife, and occupation?" And so they went through the paperwork, Hermione explaining sotto voce some of the more unusual questions.
Near the end of the paperwork was a question that startled Arthur.
"Telephone number?" He asked blankly stalling for time. Having anticipated this, Hermione passed him a scrap of paper with her own cellular number written down.
"Oh, you mean mine." My mind must have wandered for a bit." He read the numbers on the paper back to the woman. She raised her eyebrow at the halting way he gave her this information.
"I'll just run down to the printer, and get everything in order." She explained. "You'll need to sign them, and I'll need to see your driver's license for the paperwork." She left the room, her low heels clicking with each step taking her further from the small office.
Arthur looked to Hermione and said, "Driver's license?" Hermione pulled out her own and showed it to him. A look of understanding passed over his features and he pulled out his apparition license. He transfigured it to look like a muggle driver's license. However the picture of him kept fidgeting. Getting frantic, he pulled his wand out of his shirt sleeve, and exasperatedly whispered 'petrificus totalus'. the picture stopped moving at once, although his face was frozen in an unusual expression.. He quickly slid his wand back up his sleeve. Clicking heels were approaching the door as he settled it more firmly in its harness.
The middle aged plump woman returned, flipping through the stack of papers in her hand. He handed her his license which she looked at cursorily, picture matched, name was right. She handed it back to him. "Okay, Arthur, here's the paperwork. In it, it states that you have temporary guardianship over this girl until her birthday. You will receive a small stipend from the government to cover expenses related to her care. Upon her 18th birthday, the stipend will end, as will your guardianship over her. Do you accept and agree?"
"Normally, we'd have your wife sign as well, but as it is only a matter of weeks, I can hardly see the need for the trouble." She flipped though the pages and indicated the areas he needed to sign. She notarized his signature and affixed her own on the appropriate line. She took the sheaf of papers and dropped them onto the copier near her desk. At long last she handed him a copy of the papers.
"Good luck, Miss Granger. I'll be in touch if there's anything else." Was all she said as she escorted them from her office to the elevator. Hermione couldn't help but feel as though that statement were an omen.
Arthur escorted her back to her home. He asked about the telephone number, and Hermione explained.
"It's a cell phone. It doesn't matter where the phone is, it will ring, or the call will be answered by a voicemail." She explained.
"A male voice? How does it get into the felly-tone?" He asked, slightly puzzled. Hermione pulled the phone from her hip pocket.
"Here, let me show you. We should change the message."
a few moments later.
Hermione fitted her key in her the lock at her door, as the door swung open, a wave of fresh tears blinding her eyes.
She walked from room to room, a strange numbness distancing her from what she was doing. She indicated the parlor, and asked Arthur to make himself at home.
"I suppose I will need to pack." She choked on the words. She turned and fled the room.
Arthur understood, and settled himself on the sofa awkwardly looking around. Under normal circumstances, he would have been delighted to see the inside of a muggle home, but wisely he knew that this was not the time to satisfy his curiosity.
Hermione walked up the stairs to her room, opened her school trunk, waved her wand. "pack" she commanded in a wobbly voice. Her school robes flew from their hangers, folded themselves and stacked themselves neatly to one side. Books flew from shelves, from under the bed, and in through her open bedroom window. She'd forgotten the books outside. In no time, her room was bare of anything magical. Hermione gently picked up her tattered bear and hugged him close, tucked him safely under her arm.
With a 'wingardium leviosa', her trunk raised in the air. Hermione grasped the handle and towed it down the stairs.
Arthur cleared his throat when Hermione entered the room.
"I thought perhaps you might want to bring your family photo albums." he said, indicating the ones on the bookshelf. "I'm led to understand that your aunt is coming to handle the estate, but those you should have."
"You're right." Hermione agreed. " I don't remember much about dad's sister. We weren't that close. Mum didn't like her." At this, fresh tears sprung from her eyes.
Turning blindly to hide them, she spied her mothers' desk. "I think I will bring this as well. It was my mum's, and I don't think she'd want my aunt going through it." Matching actions to words she reduced the desk and settled it gently into her pocket. She wandered around her home picking up items that were meaningful to her and adding them to the collection of things she was taking; her pockets bulging with the shrunken objects. When she finished in the garage she returned to the parlor. She noticed the sun setting, blazing a fiery trail of orange and crimson against the skyline. She knew deep in her heart she would never return to this house that she had called home all her life.
"I'm ready to leave." She said, he voice only catching briefly.
Arthur stood and silently grasped the handle of her trunk He placed a reassuring arm around her shoulders and apparated to the burrow.