A/N: This is my version of year seven with no evil Snape, dead Dumbledore, horcruxes, or married Tonks and Lupin. Oh, and Remus Lupin is not gay and has never been gay—at least not in this story. Don't have a problem with it (I still love Dumbledore don't I?) but it would reeeaaallllyyy mess with the story line. Bear with me ok? It's my first time...
Her legs were crossed and she was staring at the door decidedly, willing it to open, or disappear, or explode: anything to get it out of the way and reveal what was behind it. It would be much too risky to open it herself and magic could be disastrous, so instead she sat and she stared. Suddenly something shuffled behind the frame and the light filtering in below it shifted. "Enough," Hermione Granger thought to herself. Springing from the bed and grabbing her wand, she silently made her way towards the old door. Hermione spent only a minute contemplating which spell to use in her defense before opening the door suddenly and calling, "Rictusempra!"
Fred Weasley fell to the floor laughing.
"Come on Hermione," he managed between giggles. "We were only having a bit of a –" but Fred was interrupted as a particularly loud fit of laughter overtook him.
"It was all for fun 'Mione," offered the laughing boy's twin and partner in crime. Hermione noticed the Weasley's Wizard Wheezes package in his right hand and the wand he clasped in his left.
"Don't even try it George," Hermione said, raising her wand towards him. "If you so much as touch your brother, or me, before I am down these stairs, I promise you won't be laughing when I'm through." George looked hesitant and then dropped his wand beside him. Keeping her wand raised Hermione began backing away from the middle Weasley brothers. As she turned her back halfway down the stair-case, she heard George Weasley whisper the laughing jinx's counter-curse and smiled. It really was fantastic to be back.
Number 12, Grimuald Place, while decidedly dank and dreary, was also one of the liveliest places Hermione had ever visited. Given, this was due at least partially to the increasingly regular presence of both Fred and George Weasley, but it only made her feel more at home. Having her best friends, greatest mentors, and second family all in the same place put Hermione in such a decidedly happy mood, that not even Mrs. Black's screaming portrait could pull her out of her reverie.
Hermione entered the kitchen smiling contentedly to herself. "Blimey Hermione," Ron called as he noticed her entrance. "Are you humming?" Hermione hadn't noticed she was making the noise until she stopped. She laughed.
"I guess I was," she said finally, sitting down next to her best-friends at the kitchen table. "Hello Harry!"
Harry nodded at her and looked a little frightened. "What's put you in such a fantastic mood then?" He asked.
Hermione smiled and shrugged, pulling a book out from her back pocket. "Oh just the usual: Fred and George tried to pull a bit of a prank on me upstairs."
"And failed?" Ron asked.
The three of them, along with the rest of the remaining Weasley clan, had chosen to remain at Grimuald Place for the summer and would return to it during the winter holidays.
"It really will be the safest place for all of you," Dumbledore had said at the end of their 6th year, the characteristic twinkle in his eye.
"I just hope they try to get into my room."
All three friends shared a look and then laughed out loud, each remembering what had happened to the last person who'd gone against Hermione's wishes.
"What'll it spell this time?" Ron asked happily, relishing the idea of someone finally tricking the twins. But before Hermione could answer him, a gentle voice sounded behind her.
"What'll what spell?" Remus Lupin asked, dropping two shabby suitcases beside him and smiling at the three friends.
"It really is fantastic to be back," Lupin thought as he entered the familiar headquarters of the Order of the Phoenix. "They'll be surprised to see me home so soon though, won't they?" Laughter was floating into the entry-way from the kitchen, and instead of going upstairs to put away his bags and get some much-needed rest, Remus followed the sound. He heard Ron Weasley's voice first.
"What'll it spell this time?" He asked.
Remus smiled. "What'll what spell?"
The three faces that turned towards him looked as if they'd aged years instead of just months. He smiled at them all warmly and before he knew it, the two boys had him engulfed in a friendly, though very tight hug. "Air!" Remus choked, laughing along with them.
"Sorry mate," Ron offered, slapping his old professor on the back. "It's just great to see you again."
Harry nodded. "Yeah it is. Feels like it's been years since you've come around here."
"The Order is very demanding," Remus said quietly, and both boys missed the hint of bitterness in his voice. It was not, however, lost on Hermione. She cocked her head slightly and stared sadly at Remus. He hadn't changed much since the last time Hermione had seen him; hadn't changed much since third year actually. Hermione liked to think that Remus had already been pushed to and past his limit, and now nothing could touch him or change him. Not really at least.
"Hello Professor," She said softly, finally standing from her chair. The look Lupin gave her however, made her brace herself against its back. Unlike her professor, Hermione had changed considerably since her third year, and Remus had only just noticed. Sitting, she was the same girl she'd always been. Her hair was still bushy and wild, her face, free of makeup, still pretty, and her smile just as warm and genuine as it had been at thirteen. Standing however was a completely different story. Remus' eyes traveled over her taller, more developed body. He'd forgotten they were adults now; all 17 except Harry, and it would be suiting for them to have adult bodies. But this…
"Hello Hermione," he finally managed to choke out, giving her a bit of a guilty smile. "Please, do call me Remus."
She smiled, but remained standing beside her chair, using it almost as an anchor. Ron and Harry exchanged a look.
"Well Master Weasley," Harry began jokingly, speaking in a particularly pompous British accent. "'Tis quite fine to meet you again old chap!"
"Oh 'tis, 'tis," continued Ron as he caught onto the joke. "Would you like some crumpets or shall we just continue staring at each other awkwardly?"
Remus and Hermione both laughed nervously and then, taking the hint, moved towards one another to embrace.
The hug was short, stiff, and electric. Hermione could feel her shoulders tingling where he'd placed his hands and Remus felt as if his chest were on fire. They stared at each other a moment before Remus broke the tension.
"Jolly good show old chaps!" He said, pulling away from Hermione quickly and hoping she hadn't noticed his reaction. "I tip my top-hat to the three of you." Harry and Ron curtsied in reply, but Hermione continued standing, staring at the ground and blushing. "Now if you don't mind," Remus said, dropping the joke and watching Hermione from the corner of his eye, "This old werewolf needs some rest before dinner. Ron, if you see your mother please tell her I'm in and looking forward to her wonderful cooking." Ron nodded as Remus picked up his suitcases and ascended the stairs. He could hear Ron and Harry laughing and talking below him, and imagined Hermione, still blushing, with a small smile on her lips.