Her World

Summary: Every father thinks that his own child is special, but Edward Granger knew, as soon as he looked at his Hermione for the first time, that she was different, that she would grow up to change the world.

Disclaimer: There are only so many different ways you can write a semi-creative disclaimer before you have to revert back to the old "Harry Potter does not belong to me, blah blah blah…"

Enjoy and review, please.

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Every father thinks that his own child is special, but Edward Granger knew, as soon as he looked at his Hermione for the first time, that she was different, that she would grow up to change the world.

She was a tiny little thing. Five pounds, two ounces, born one month premature, but completely healthy. When she had finished her frantic bout of crying after having been rudely snatched from the womb, she had opened her eyes. They were dark brown, and even at that age, they had a sort of steely glint to them, a hard determination.

She was, by ordinary standards, not a particularly comely child. Her eyebrows were a little too bushy, and her forehead a little too large, and her teeth not quite perfectly aligned, but her eyes were large and expressive, and her chin was firm and set, and to Edward, she was the most beautiful little girl ever to grace the world with her presence.

Smart would have been a severe understatement for little Hermione. By the time she was a year old, when most babies were beginning to crow in jumbled, incomprehensible syllables, she was speaking in complete, grammatically correct sentences. She was Edward's pride and joy. He brought her to friends' houses and showed her off shamelessly.

She had taught herself to read when she was four, and from then on, she could never be found without a book. While other girls her age giggled and played with dolls and tea sets, she curled up into her favorite armchair with a book, lost in her own world. She devoured knowledge the way most children devoured sweets. She craved it with an insatiable appetite, and Edward was happy to provide her with any book she asked for. She had accumulated quite a collection early in her life.

Her aunts, uncles, grandmothers, and grandfathers gave her dolls at Christmastime. To this day, the dolls were still in her room, smiling in their unopened boxes, collecting dust. Very soon, her relatives learned to buy her books instead.

Edward was worried about her when he dropped her off at her first day of school. His fears were not unfounded. When she came home, she was in tears.

The other children didn't like her, she had told him between sniffles. They had teased her about her hair and teeth, and they didn't like that she already knew how to read.

Edward felt a piece of his heart shatter. Cruelty in children was the worst kind. He'd stroked her hair and whispered to her that it was all right, they were just jealous, and things would get better in time.

Time did not make things better. And gradually, Hermione stopped coming home in tears. She came home with her jaw set, her mouth in a thin, determined line, and she went straight into her room to do her homework and read. Edward saw a kind of raw, unwavering strength in her, a quietly defiant courage. Sometimes, when he came to pick her up from school, he saw the other children teasing her. She walked to him with her head held high, never looking back at them. He had never been so proud of her, and never had he wanted more to pull her into a hug and protect her from anything that could hurt her.

She never cried in front of him anymore. Sometimes, when he went up to her room to call her for dinner, he could hear her quiet sniffles. And then he'd be torn, wanting to go in but not knowing if she wanted him to see her like this, and he'd hover outside the door, unable to make up his mind.

She grew, and she tried to be normal. She learned to ride a bicycle, and she outgrew her clothes and it was a perpetual race to get her fitted with new ones. She brought home awards and perfect report cards. He was proud of her accomplishments, so very proud, but sometimes he wished that she would bring home a friend after school instead of a ten out of ten on a math test.

She never did. She was different in so many different ways. She belonged in a different world.

She was unusual, and not only in her intelligence and interests. Sometimes, her differences were almost frightening in that she did things no one could explain. Edward could remember a time when a boy who teased Hermione looked down suddenly to find that his pants had fallen to his feet. It would have been easy to say it was a mere accident, but the fact that the boy was rather chubby and was not likely to have loose enough pants did not escape Edward's notice. And another time, one of her classmates found herself at lunchtime holding a caterpillar instead of a fork. It was harder to believe that the latter was an accident.

Hermione did not seem troubled about the way she seemed to be able to get revenge on people without even intending to. She was puzzled, but not troubled, and Edward soon stopped worrying because he had seen her soft, compassionate eyes and knew that she would never use her strange powers to hurt anyone who did not deserve it.

He decided that, when the term was finished, he would send her to a different school. A private, vigorously academic school where she could develop her abilities in a supportive atmosphere. A place where she could be happy.

Somehow, the events unfolded exactly the way he wanted them to, but not at all in the way he expected. When Hermione was eleven years old, she received a letter by owl post urging her to enroll in Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

Her eyes were bright, and her cheeks flushed. He had never seen her so excited. "Don't you see, Daddy?" she had said as she grabbed his sleeve and looked into his eyes. "I always knew something like this would happen. Please, Daddy. I want to go." When he had ascertained that the letter was no joke, he had let her go, hoping that in that strange, distant world he did not understand, she would find happiness.

He missed her terribly that year. She wrote to him dutifully, but eventually the letters were slow in coming, and they were considerably shorter than they had been in the beginning. When she came back, he hardly recognized her. She carried herself differently, with more confidence, and she even had a sort of spring in her step. She'd thrown her arms around him and kissed his cheek and said excitedly, "Daddy, can you imagine? Hogwarts is the most wonderful place I have ever been to. I'm happy there. I belong there."

He was happy that she was happy, and that she had friends, two boys who were probably awkward and insensitive at times but cared for her very much. He tried not to dampen her spirits by feeling sorry for himself when she had to leave again.

She came back the next year, and again she was different. She was quieter, more reflective, and she tried to explain to him that the Wizarding world was not at peace, and that people had to be more careful now because they might be in danger. She told him not to worry, but he did not see how he could not.

The summer after her third year, she was shy and secretive and spent a great deal of time in her room writing letters. It was not difficult to figure out that she was writing to Ron, the tall, gangly redhead, and she blushed when Edward asked her about him and would not answer. He carried a certain resentment toward that Ron, who was taking his daughter away from him, and he had a fatherly impression that the boy was not nearly good enough for his Hermione. But he did not have enough time with his daughter that summer, because before the holidays were half over, she left to visit her friend Ron and go to see a Quickditch match or something silly like that.

He barely had any time with her at all the summer after her fourth year. He had found out that something terrible had happened at Hogwarts, and that she had another boy after her, one of those Quickditch players, and then she was whisked away, with promises that she would be safe, before he could say goodbye. He felt a sort of quiet resignation at seeing his daughter for only a few days every year, and he regretted that he could not be there for the most important events in her life, and could only see belated snapshots of them during the summer. She wrote him that summer to tell him that she had been made a prefect, and he wrote back telling her how proud he was, and how much he missed her.

The next year, she had been made a prefect again, and again she went to visit the red-haired boy during the summer. And the year after that, she had been made Head Girl. Before she boarded the train for her seventh and final year at Hogwarts, she had hugged him and told him that that she'd miss him, and that this year was going to be different and more dangerous, and that if she didn't come back, she wanted him to know that she loved him with all her heart. And he watched her disappear through the wall between platforms nine and ten, not even knowing if he would ever see her again.

He was so relieved, so overjoyed when he waited at the train station the next summer, and she'd emerged from the wall and run toward him and nearly knocked him over. And when he looked into her eyes, so dark and serious, he saw a hollowness that he did not recognize, and he knew that she had matured without him knowing it, and she had seen things that he had never seen, and had lost more than he ever had lost.

He thought that they could finally spend time together, and he could finally try to figure out the enigma that was his daughter, but it was not to be. She was engaged to that tall, gangly redhead, and she was marrying him in three months.

She was so beautiful on her wedding day. Her eyes were moist with uncontainable joy, and she and the red-haired boy were so obviously in love with each other, that Edward decided to forgive the tall, gangly redhead if he was going to make her this happy every day for the rest of her life. He watched her all throughout the wedding. At the reception, she sat at a table with her three best friends, the gangly redhead, of course, and a handsome, messy-haired boy, and a girl, red-haired, pretty, and vivacious. They chatted and laughed, and it suddenly occurred to Edward that they were Hermione's real family, the people who knew her best and been there for her whenever she needed them.

Soft strains of music echoed throughout the hall, and she walked toward him, saying with a small, sad smile, "Daddy? Dance with me?"

And so he placed his hands around her waist and looked at her, his daughter, his darling, who had grown up without him so that he would never be able to fully understand her. She didn't belong with him. She belonged in an entirely different world, a world he could not follow, where she could laugh with sunshine in her eyes.

"I love you, Daddy," she whispered.

"I love you too, Hermione." The song ended.

He watched his only daughter walk away, and he was seized with sudden despair. She was eighteen years old, and he did not know her at all. He wanted to call her back, to ask her what was her favorite color and what were her dreams, secrets, and fears, but she had already disappeared into the crowd, into her world. As he watched, his eyes prickled, a discomfort so foreign that he could not identify it. And when he finally realized what he was doing, he willed himself to stop, because his Hermione was happy, and that was all he ever really wanted.

FIN.

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