Disclaimer: Anything you recognize is not mine but belongs to the goddess JKR. I particularly like exploring unlikely relationships. This is my third fic (the others are Saving You, Saving Me and A Lesson in Seduction, both of which involve Hermione and Severus) and I am focussing on another couple. I really hope you like it. Constructive reviews are encouraged. All flames will be used to start up the barbecue (it is almost summer, after all).
Chapter One: The Error Of My Ways
Hermione Granger lay back on her bed and held up her favourite book in the entire world, "Hogwarts: A History". She found comfort in reading and rereading its pages and the knowledge they imparted even though there was nothing in them she did not already know. If she felt sad, she read it. If she was upset, she read it. If she couldn't sleep, she read it. It was worn and a little the worse for wear, but it was her most prized possession.
"Hah!" she thought to herself, "Ron would say how typical that my most prized possession is a book. That git only thinks about Quidditch…that silly hat Harry got him for Christmas is probably his most prized possession and Harry…well, that would probably be his Firebolt…at least it is somewhat more practical."
Summer vacation seemed to drag on forever. She was so ready to enter into 7th year - her final year - at Hogwarts. She was already studying for her NEWTs because she knew she needed top marks in order to make it to Auror training.
"Harry and Ron would say that the exams are too far away and that I shouldn't worry about them. Easy for them to say. Ron already has relatives working at the ministry…he certainly has his foot in the door regardless of his NEWTs. Harry can do anything he likes because he is the Boy-That-Lived…" Hermione's face fell slightly. She really wasn't upset at her two best friends in the world and she didn't particularly like to say anything bad about Harry. He never asked for the attention he got.
"Oh, bother!" she finally put her beloved book down in frustration. She felt so edgy. She decided that the best thing might be to look up her horoscope in the Muggle newspaper her parents subscribed to. That never failed to amuse her even if the astrologer had more credibility than Professor Trelawney. Skimming through the pages, she finally found it.
"A mistake will bring you some grief and yet, in the end, the error of your ways will prove to be best thing that ever happened to you. Love will find you, despite your best efforts, and your heart will triumph over your mind. Go beyond the exterior. Lucky numbers 7,8,9,10,12,14,28"
Hermione laughed until tears were streaming down her face.
"Oh, this one is very worthy of Professor Trelawney. I am going to have to cut this one out and keep it. Love will find you despite your best efforts…I mean, really!!"
As she was busy cutting out the horoscope (which was difficult to do as she was still laughing), she heard a rustle of feathers.
"Pigwidgeon!" she cried out as Ron's owl landed on her window sill. He had a letter tied to his leg.
Quickly, she untied the letter and got the tired owl some water and a couple of owl treats. Crookshanks watched the owl eating. It looked exhausted. The cat lay down next to the owl and the owl quickly fell asleep.
"Poor thing," Hermione murmured, stroking its feathers gently. She smiled at her cat and then sat down to read Ron's letter.
This summer has been particularly awful. As you know, I was "lucky" enough to get a summer job at the Ministry, working with my brother Percy. I could have worked with Charlie, Bill or even Fred and George and I would have been the happiest junior wizard on the face of the earth. But, I get stuck with the pompous one.
"Oh, Ron, don't be so uncharitable about your brother. At least you got an interesting job. Poor Harry works at a fast-food chain flipping burgers all day and complaining that he smells like mustard." Hermione thought with a smile.
Well, I am writing to let you know that my term of imprisonment…I mean my work assignment is complete and I am planning on heading to Diagon Alley tomorrow with Ginny. Harry is joining us too. We all need a few things for school. Can you come too? Send a reply with Pig…let him rest first because he is exhausted…Fred and George used him to test some kind of letter carrier which transforms any letter into a Howler. Only problem is that the Howler goes off en route which scared poor Pig half to death. He should be all right in a bit.
Take care and hope to see you tomorrow.
PS: Heard you will be Head Girl. Congratulations. Malfoy and especially Daddy Dearest must be laying eggs the size of hippogriffs!!
Hermione laughed at Ron's post-script. She knew she needed a few things as well for school. She hastily scribbled a reply to Ron saying that, yes, she would meet him outside the ice-cream shop at around 10:00 am. Pigwidgeon was awake now, decidedly better from his quick nap and the owl treats.
"Are you sure you're up to this?" she asked him.
The little owl hooted affirmatively and stuck out its leg. Hermione shrugged and tied the parchment to its leg. It took off quickly and was soon out of sight.
Hermione quickly started taking inventory of her magical supplies.
"Okay, I have to get a larger cauldron for Potions…number 13, pewter. I need parchment and quills. I need the textbooks…where did I put that list? Oh, here it is…okay, textbooks. Don't need anything else for Charms, Transfiguration, Arithmancy…why can't those two sods have taken Arithmancy instead of Divination…that Professor Trelawney is just the biggest fraud this side of Hogsmeade. I don't need anything else for Herbology or Care of Magical Beasts. Maybe some chocolate covered coffee beans for History of Magic…that class could be so much more interesting if Professor Binns were…well, alive for one thing. I need to get some supplies for Potions…let's see…beetle eyes, powdered snakeskin, goat's beards, newt hearts, essence of hemlock…" Hermione wrote a list of all the things she needed for the next day's shopping excursion, estimated how much this was going to cost then added some money to buy some treats.
"After all," she said to Crookshanks in a knowing kind of way, "woman does not live by books alone."
Crookshanks gave her a look as if he thought she had finally lost it.
A soft hooting sound turned her attention away from her list. It was Hedwig, Harry's snowy owl.
"Hello Hedwig," Hermione called, "Message from Harry?"
Hedwig puffed herself out importantly and hooted in response.
Hermione untied the parchment, trying very hard not to laugh at the solemn bird, and started to read
Ron, Ginny and I are going to Diagon Alley tomorrow. Say you'll come too. I am finally finished working at THAT PLACE. Honestly, I don't think even a house elf would want to work there. It will take a serious cleansing spell to get rid of all this grease…yuck! Oh well, next year I will be able to work in the wizarding world. I would love to get a position as a Teaching Assistant at Hogwarts. I suppose I will have to start studying for NEWTS soon. Anyway, I will see you tomorrow.
PS: Congratulations on becoming Head Girl. Malfoy must have sent you flowers when he heard the news - ha ha!
Hermione smiled at the good wishes that her best friends sent her.
"They probably want me to get Malfoy in as much trouble as possible," she thought with an exasperated smile. She quickly wrote a reply.
I can't wait to see you all at Diagon Alley. I need a few things myself. I am sure that your summer job wasn't all bad…ask Ron, he'll tell you that his was worse. Thanks for the good wishes and, since you are SO interested in studying for your NEWTs, maybe we will set up a study group or something…I'm kidding, of course (then again, maybe not)! Take care and I will see you tomorrow.
Hermione quickly sent Hedwig off with the message then lay down on her bed to think about the coming year…she couldn't wait…
The next day her parents brought her over to Diagon Alley. Mr and Mrs Granger were well used to this particular nook of the wizarding community and had actually arranged to have lunch with Mr & Mrs Weasley at the Ministry of Magic. Hermione smiled as Arthur Weasley (one of the nicest wizards she knew) was asking questions about how muggles took care of toothaches and things like that - her father had certainly learned patience and it was somewhat endearing to talk to someone who found everything about your profession so fascinating. It seemed that Mrs Granger and Mrs Weasley were quite content comparing pot roast recipes and were chatting away about non-magical things like raising children, the best mashed potato recipe and what kind of wine went best with poached salmon.
"If only everyone could see how nice this could be," she thought to herself. Lucius Malfoy and his coven of Death Eaters certainly wouldn't.
She was shaken out of her reverie by a somewhat painful jab to the ribs. Turning, she found herself face to face with a grinning Ron Weasley. She responded by quickly pushing him backward into Harry. The two boys both had silly grins on their faces.
"Hi Hermione," Harry smiled and, reaching over, gave her a quick hug, "It's good to see you."
"It's good to see you too, Harry," she grinned and then, turning to Ron in mock outrage, "You, on the other hand…"
Ron simply grabbed her in a huge bearhug and gave her the biggest noogie this side of Hogsmeade…
"Ah, you know you missed me too," he laughed as she struggled to break away from her overzealous friend.
Hermione was furious…she broke away and tried to restore some order into her hair.
Ron grinned, "I'll see you at the Leaky Cauldron in about 30 minutes…I have to pick up something at Madame Malkins" and with that, he ran off before Hermione could even cast a spell.
"He is so infuriating!" she shouted, "To do that, at his age, to me, in front of everyone…"
Harry simply smiled as he tried to help Hermione with her hair, a rather daunting task, "You know Ron, subtlety has never been his strong point."
She continued to brush her hair and then turned to Harry.
"How does my hair look?"
"Beautiful, just like the rest of you."
"Honestly, Harry, you are just as bad as Ron."
"Can we get going?"
"I have to think of a way to get back at Ron."
"Nothing fazes Ron."
"He has all those brothers to tease and pick on him…tell me one thing that they haven't done to him?"
Hermione looked at Harry as if he had given her the best Christmas present in the entire world.
"You are a genius."
"Why do I not like the sound of that?" Harry sighed.
* * * *
She pulled Harry along and they walked into the Leaky Cauldron. There seemed to be a lot more people than usual. Looking around, she finally caught a glimpse of a familiar mop of red hair facing away from them. Hermione motioned to Harry to go around to the other side of the room. She snuck up behind him…time to put her plan into action. Suddenly she noticed that Harry was making strange gestures…he was telling her to back away. She frowned at him.
"No way, I am going to get Ron good. He deserves a little humble pie of his own," she thought with an evil grin. She was right behind him now…"Here goes," she thought.
She quickly wrapped her arms around his neck and pressed her cheek against the back of his head. He tilted his head back in apparent surprise, she closed her eyes, leaned over and kissed him deeply on the mouth.
"Gotcha," she thought to herself in triumph.
Hearing a spluttering sound, Hermione released her victim and turned her head to see Harry on the floor, convulsing with laughter. She glared at him.
"Oh, come off it, Harry, it wasn't that funny," she grumbled.
"You're right, Hermione," the voice made Hermione turn quickly. She blushed furously as she realized that she was staring into the stormy hazel eyes of Percy Weasley.