Privet Drive was always quiet in the mornings. Everyone was always asleep. Well, everyone except 16-year-old wizard Harry Potter. Since his sixth year, Harry had become taller and muscular, though he was still slightly thin. Upon his return from Hogwarts School for Witchcraft and Wizardry, Vernon Dursley, Harry's nasty Uncle, had locked his trunk, wand and Firebolt in the cupboard under the stairs. Even if Vernon hadn't locked up Harry's things, the Ministry of Magic and Dumbledore, his Headmaster, forbade Harry not to use them. The Dursley's were Muggles (people who were not magical).
Harry wandered to his window, his mind on only one thing. Cho Chang. He and Cho had started dating the year before and had been writing each other since Harry's arrival at his relatives' house. Unfortunately, Hedwig, his owl, was still away and Harry had a feeling he knew where she was.
Hermione, he thought. Hermione Granger, one of his best friends, had not once sent him a letter during his stay at Privet Drive 4, despite the numerous letters he had sent her.
Suddenly, a flurry of feathers came in through the open window. Hedwig and two other owls crowded Hedwig's water bowl for something to drink. Hedwig and one of the other owls seemed to be holding an old gray feather duster.
"Erol," he muttered, picking up the old owl and placing it in Hedwig's cage. Ron Weasly, Harry's other friend, had sent his owl, Pig, also. Harry turned his attention to the fourth owl, which was carrying with it two packages. He relieved this owl first and watched as it flew off through the window. Pig was zipping around the room, hooting happily.
"Shut up, Pig," Harry hissed, snatching the tiny owl out of the air. He listened intently for a sound from the other rooms. All he heard was his cousin, Dudley, snoring loudly. Hedwig hooted softly and hopped onto his shoulder.
"Hey Hedwig," he murmured. He then set Pig down and relieved Erol of his packages. It was from Mrs. Weasley.
I hope Erol gets there all right. I have so many doubts about that owl. How are you doing, dear? I hope the Muggles are treating you fairly. School is starting soon! Ask your aunt if you can stay here for the rest of the summer.
Harry smiled as he opened the packages she had sent him. Several mince pies and some sweets from Diagon Alley. He then opened the note that Pig had brought and immediately recognized Ron's messy handwriting.
Mum says that you can stay if the muggles let you! Write back soon!
Harry then opened another package that was from the school. Everything was the same; all he needed was a few new books. Harry turned to Hedwig, who, to his great surprise, was carrying a note that was written in Hermione's small, neat penmanship.
Be ready to leave your aunt's house by August 4th.
Harry just stared at the note. No Dear Harry, or Love, Hermione, or anything. Just, 'be ready to leave...' Had he done anything? All the letters he had gotten from Ron indicated that she was writing him. Why had she not chosen to write anything concerning her summer or his health or anything? Harry sighed and put all the letters in the loose floorboard in his room and left for the kitchen to start breakfast as he heard the other occupants of the house start to stir.
Dudley was the first person into the kitchen after Harry. Despite the diet his mother had desperately put him on, Dudley was nearing the size of a baby blue whale. He now had to turn sideways to enter rooms because of his massive weight. Aunt Petunia even had to go out and buy an extra large sofa chair for Dudley to sit on at the kitchen table. Harry could not help smile when Dudley came into the room this morning.
"What are you smirking at?" Dudley asked.
"Nothing," Harry said, trying hard not to laugh as Dudley waddled over to the fridge. Vernon, who was slightly smaller than Dudley, but only slightly, entered the kitchen next, sitting down at the kitchen table and opening a newspaper.
"Boy!" he yelled at Harry without looking up from the paper. "Make breakfast." Rolling his eyes, Harry brought a plate of bacon and eggs to the table. He put the kettle on the stove and got out some mugs.
"Duddykins, go get me the mail," Petunia said as she walked into the room next. Dudley got up and left the room. A few seconds later, his voice could be heard down the hall.
Petunia and Vernon hurried out to the front door, Harry following at a safe distance. A man in a nice navy blue business suit was standing at the door. At the present moment, he was giving Dudley, who was blocking up the hall, a very resentful look. Vernon motioned Dudley into the living room and stood in front of the doorway, blocking the entrance.
"Who are you?" he asked.
"My name is Fred Granger. I'm here to pick up your nephew." Harry's mouth dropped. Not at the mention of Mr. Granger's name, but at the sight of who was standing beside him.
Her hair was much straighter than when he had last seen her. At the present moment, she was wearing a ponytail. She was a little taller and her skin showed signs of a tan. She seemed to be wearing a little blush and mascara. It was what she was wearing, however, that made Harry's jaw hang open. She was sporting a black bikini top that showed a little more than necessary, denim shorts and black and white polka dotted flip-flops. Dark sunglasses covered her eyes.
She pursed her lips, took off her glasses, but said nothing. Vernon's face turned purple and blue.
"WHAT?" he yelled, spit flying from his mouth.
Hermione rolled her eyes and pushed her way into the house. Climbing the stairs, she walked down the hall until she found Harry's room. Harry walked into his room to find Hermione throwing clothes from his closet into his school trunk.
Hermione whirled around, her wand hand up and the wand pointing at Harry's face.
"Don't speak, Harry," she growled, her face contorted with fury. "I don't want to here a word from you for the rest of my summer, got it?" Harry just nodded, not wanting to be on this end of Hermione Granger's wand. Hermione withdrew her hand, pocketing her wand and continued packing. Harry sat down on the bed and watched as she bustled around his room, muttering threats under her while throwing his jeans into the trunk. Then she stopped when she opened a drawer. Her face went bright pink and she closed the drawer.
She turned around and, avoiding eye contact with Harry, muttered, "Call me when you're done." She then hurried out of the room, closing the door behind her. Harry got up and walked over to the drawer, opening it.
She went red over my boxers? he thought confusedly. She's seen them before. Why's she getting fussy over them now? He threw them into his trunk and closed the drawer. Locking the trunk, he called Hermione into the room. She came in, muttered, "Locomotive trunk," under her breathe and levitated it out of his room.
They walked down the stairs to where a purple-faced Vernon was waiting with Hermione's dad. Both teens passed the adults and walked out to where a Volvo was waiting for them. Hermione opened the trunk and set the trunk down into it beside Hedwig's cage. She then got into the back seat of the car and Harry followed. Mr. Granger followed shortly after, sitting down in the driver's seat. He glanced at his daughter through the rear view mirror.
"Hermione, honey," he said. "If you do not fix that face, then I can tell Harry what's been bothering you." A look of horror passed over Hermione's face. Her father nodded knowingly. "So try and cheer up, hon. It'll be fixed soon." Harry, who was confused throughout the whole talk, glanced at Hermione. She was staring out the window, mumbling to herself as tears rolled down her face. Not wanting to get on the business side of Hermione's wand again, Harry kept silent as the car started and drove him away from the Dursley's house.
"Wake up kids!" Mr. Granger shouted at the two sleeping teens in the back of the car. "We're here!" Harry opened the car door and stepped out onto the messy lawn of the Burrow.
Mrs. Weasley was standing in front of the house and when she caught sight of Harry, called out, "Harry, dear! Oh, it is good to see you again!" She ran over and pulled Harry into a tight hug.
Hermione exited the car next, closing the door behind her unnecessarily loud. Mrs. Weasley spotted her and pulled her into a hug as well.
"Hermione, how are you dear?" Hermione sighed and walked away from Mrs. Weasley without answering the question. Mr. Granger quickly covered it up.
"Don't worry about 'Mione, Molly," he said, leading the puzzled Weasley inside the house. "It was a long ride and she's tired." Harry, however, doubted that was the reason of Hermione's rudeness.
They walked into the kitchen to meet the rest of the family. Remus Lupin, Nymphadora Tonks, Alastor "Mad-Eye" Moody, Kingsley Shacklebolt, Professor McGonagall, Professor Snape, Ginny Weasley, Ron, Fred and George, Mr. Weasley, Mrs. Granger, and, to Harry's surprise, Padma Patil from Ravenclaw. After saying hello to everyone, except for Snape, Ron, Ginny, Padma, Fred and George walked with Harry up to his room.
As they all crowded in, Harry asked the question that had been bugging him since the Dursley's.
"Does any of you know what's wrong with Hermione?" he asked. The room went oddly quiet as Ginny and Padma started to fidget. Harry eyed them. "What do you know?"
"Nothing, Harry," Padma answered, sitting down on the bed next Ron. Ginny nodded.
"We don't know what's bugging her," she said. Fred smiled knowingly. He nudged his brother and both Apparated. Ginny left also, leaving Harry, Ron and Padma in the room, but Padma didn't stay long. With a meaningful glance at Ron, she left the boys alone. Harry turned to Ron.
"What's Padma doing here?" he asked. Ron's ears turned the color of his hair, flaming red.
"Um, well you see Harry…" his voice trailed off. Just in time to here Hermione start to scream.
"I want you out of this room, NOW! Who do YOU think you ARE? I don't NEED you to pry into MY private business. So, GET LOST!" There was a brief scrambling on the stairs, some profanities, then Fred and George burst into the room, closing the door just as a curse hit it. Fred shook his head.
"Yeah Harry," he stated. "I think you're right. Hermione's gone bloody mad! All we did was,"
"Ask her what was wrong when she," George interrupted.
"Blew up in our face, telling us,"
"That we had no business in her ordeals,"
"And that we could go jump off the Golden Gate Bridge when George asked,"
"Where the bridge was. Then she went off her rocker." George shook his head. "That one's mental, I tell you." The twins then left the room, again leaving the boys to there own thoughts. Was Hermione really going mad?