Disclaimer; J. K. Rowling owns the Harry Potter Universe all other claimants to anything to do with the H.P. story are simply hangers on to her glory. I thank her for allowing us mere mortals to play in her world and I promise that while I have Harry in my care nothing too bad will happen to him.

Authors Note, this ficlet owes its existence to one by DrT called 'Hermione Granger: Recovery and Resolve'.


Now it was Monday morning and Hermione Granger's fifth year at 'Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry' had finished the previous Friday; and she was still in enough pain to know that she had recently been seriously injured. It had taken her all of the weekend to explain to her parents how she had been injured and it has necessitated her going back and telling them things she had previously avoided.

Needless to say her parents were not very happy with her sin of omission.

The school healer, Poppy Pomfrey, had only allowed her home after her solemn promise not to open a book for at least a week. Actually her promise was neither here nor there, in all honesty she did not think that she would be able to lift and support even a small book long enough to read more than a couple of lines.

Being as it was just after nine on a regular Monday morning her parents had gone to their Dental Practice in town and once they had left she had lain on the sofa. Her half Kneazle Crookshanks was purring near her feet which she found comforting as she started flicking through the channels of their cable TV connection, at this moment as far as she was concerned television was all a load of rubbish.

Too much had happened since the Halloween Harry's name had come out of the 'Goblet of Fire' and especially this past month, for her to really care about anything else much.

Whilst she had been somewhat bored in the school hospital she had become introspective and she had started examining herself, her life and her motives; she hadn't really liked a lot of what she had found.

Hermione's parents were both dental surgeons with their own dental practice in the middle of Bromley which was only a half a mile from their house. She would describe them as 'well to do' and the family were definitely towards the upper end of the middle class; the sixteen year old witch was very comfortable with this situation. As luck would have it both sets of her grandparents were still alive and they would also be described as reasonably prosperous. So it hadn't been very much of a surprise to anyone when they had clubbed together to buy her parents this very nice house as a wedding present.

On the first floor the house had six bedrooms three of which had en-suit bathrooms and dressing rooms; there was also a large family bathroom. The ground floor had a large kitchen breakfast room, a dining room, two studies, a lounge, two toilets and a library, all of the rooms were, by British standards, large. Below ground level was the utility room, an exercise room and two other rooms one of which was used as a store and the other as a wine cellar.

Outside to the front was a circular drive which now had electrical gates and the detached twin garages had, as of last year, electrical doors. To the rear was a large secluded garden with a large well kept lawn, a covered swimming pool, a sauna and a Bar-b-cue pit.

Hermione didn't know it, and it didn't particularly concern her that her parents' house was worth in excess of three million pounds; to her it was just home.

It was a natural consequence of her upbringing that Hermione had always been somewhat self reliant and trusting in authority.

That trust had managed to survive the abuse of Professor Snape, the betrayal of the Polyjuiced Crouch/Moody, the shallowness of Professor Bins and the total incompetence of Lockhart and Trelawney. It had only just managed to survive the incompetent machinations of the Ministry of Magic, perpetuated by Minister Fudge and others of his ilk including Percy (I will blindly follow any rule or instruction from a superior no matter how stupid) Weasley.

Delores Jane Umbridge had finally tipped the scales and convinced the brilliant young girl that authority was not to be implicitly trusted.

Possibly even worse in her well ordered mind, Albus Dumbledore had shown that even one of the world's greatest authorities could be tragically wrong. Subsequently and from her personal point of view worse still, she had learned that she could be tragically wrong as well.

So she had turned her thoughts to the house elves, because as painful as that subject was, the other memories were worse; she had started thinking when she had caught Dobby cleaning the common room alone. It was two nights before she had left for the summer holiday and what with one thing and another she had been too tired to go upstairs to her bed. She had been surprised to see him wearing, as far as she could tell, all of the hats she had knitted and left laying around, so she had forced him to tell her what had transpired.

Of course she had not freed one house elf and she would have failed to do so even if the house elves had picked up the hats, all she had done was insult them. How could she have been so stupid? She did not own the house elves so she could not free them; all she had accomplished was to cause more work for Harry's friend, the one elf that did not make fun of her, or actively dislike her.

The last was the bit that had really hurt, learning that the house elves, who, as a race, even loved wizards who misused them (like Winky still loved the Crouch family), they actually disliked her for what she had been trying to do. She knew that the principle of what she was trying to achieve was sound, but she had obviously misunderstood what house elves needed, they needed people more than she had realised. Hermione was not certain what she could do to help the house elves, now that they were actively keeping an eye on her; that was one area that she had totally made a hash of.

Having exhausted the house elves as a distraction she looked inwards again and Hermione had now come to realize that she had made equally large errors in her relationships with people. While of course Hermione was a brilliant young witch, she had rarely had cause to question herself or her values. Having had little to do for two weeks since the six of them went to the Ministry, except think of her pain, she had turned her thoughts to her life and her choices without any of the normal distractions. She was a Gryffindor and she found that once she had started her introspection, she could not stop looking just because she found many of her discoveries very disconcerting.

The young woman also realized for the first time how much she tended to use people, defending that use as either for that person's own good, or for the far more nebulous concept of 'the greater good'. She had now come to realise why Harry detested those three words so much, he had been placed with the Dursleys on that premise and, quite justifiably, had very strong views about that idea.

Also she had spent nearly five years trying to make Ron and Harry into bookish parodies of herself, rather than encouraging them, for their own intrinsic worth.

She had drilled all the Fifth years she could round up for their OWLs as much for her own ego and benefit (so she could show off her knowledge, and check that knowledge against theirs) as she had to help the students. She had done the same thing with the DA. She had used Harry's gifts to make certain that she learned the OWL material. That the DA was evolving into something even more useful and important was sheer luck and did not in any way negate her original selfish intentions.

And Harry?

Looking back, she now knew both that not everything she had tried to do for Harry was motivated by the best of intentions, and that more often than not, she had failed to act in ways that Harry really needed.

"A saving people thing," she muttered to herself, how could she have said that? In a way, she had accidentally poked Harry in some very sensitive spots this past year.

She had gone through a very tough, even heart-breaking year. What had it been like for Harry?

She had lost a friend, Harry had lost his godfather.

She had seen Dumbledore proven wrong; Harry had suffered because Dumbledore had been wrong.

She had lost faith in authority because of Umbridge. Harry had been tortured by Umbridge; he had lost faith in authority years ago.

She had fought to make people believe Harry. Harry had been publicly called a lunatic and a liar in the press and by his peers.

She had been severely injured. Harry had seen his best friends injured and knew he was at least partly responsible.

She was lying on a huge, comfy sofa, in a loving home, with loving parents and she could eat anything in the house she wanted. Harry was at a sterile house, trapped with people who hated him on principle, had an apparent fixation on making him as uncomfortable as possible and normally were seriously trying to starve him.

Crookshanks carefully made his way to his mistress' healthy shoulder and curled up between it and her neck, purring comfort. Hermione smiled through slightly teary eyes. Harry loved his owl Hedwig at least as much as she did her cat Crookshanks, but the owl couldn't comfort Harry as well as the cat could comfort her.

The cat's ginger fur reminded Hermione of two, even brighter, orangish redheads.

Along with of all her other problems, she knew she had to work out what, if anything, she actually felt for and wanted to do about Ron Weasley.

For about the last year and a half they had, of times, danced around each other, clumsily almost flirting with each other and then pulling back. The closest they had come to any actual statement of affection had been Ron giving her that awful turpentine he called perfume at Christmas. Over the years she had known him, it seemed that a lot more of their time had been spent either fighting or not speaking to each other than they had spent as friends.

How would she feel if she lost Ron to the war? She was realistic enough to know that she would be very upset but she also realised that she would get over it and get on with her life; Harry would help her through it.

Should she consider Ron for anything more than a friend? She wasn't certain if she was attracted to any boy, but if she was, she knew it would be either Harry or Ron, with Ron the slightly more likely; because of his possibly easier availability. That didn't seem like a very good basis for a long term relationship let alone marriage; and she couldn't think of one of their spats that hadn't been settled, in one way or another, by Harry.

So why did she and Ron fight so much?

Was it simply because she wanted to Change Ron into someone she could live with? Someone who would fit into the world she wanted to live in. Both of them were sixteen and as Ron was at the moment she wouldn't dare to bring him home to meet her parents, he was totally self centred, greedy and his table manners were ... non existent.

She knew with some certainty the minimum level in society she wanted to occupy and Ron, as he is, would not fit there.

It appeared that he really did not want to fit in there; if she considered his father she could see that it ran in the family; they were very comfortable the way they were.

Ron, coming from the often vocal and independent-minded Weasleys fought back; the Weasleys were the way they were because that was the way they wanted to be. Percy appeared to be the odd one out, but it was quite possibly simply because he had to fight to even appear to be normal and from his experience, at home, he didn't really know what normal was, so he had gone to the extreme.

Ginny on the other hand had, after her disastrous first year, quickly realised that if she wanted to have even a half decent husband she would have to at least appear to be normal. Remarkably, by keeping her eyes and ears open, and quietly asking questions, she had managed to achieve this without loosing her outgoing personality.

What Hermione had always hoped would eventually evolve into friendly banter with Ron she now realized never would, because it was really a struggle for a perceived way of life. Neither would allow themselves to be changed into what the other wanted for a partner, ergo they never would survive as a couple, unless one of them gave up some part of their personality. Namely the way they wanted to live.

On the other hand, Harry would never wish to dominate or change her, which put him well ahead of Ron in any prospective life partner romance stakes; also he would be happy to and could easily live in the world she wished to live in. The Dursleys were responsible for this although it was no credit to them; they wanted to be considered superior and although the three of them failed personally they had ensured that Harry knew how to conduct himself.

On the other hand, Harry Potter could be dominated by nobody.

Anyone who survived the Dursleys and stood up to Snape, Umbridge, Fudge, Dumbledore, and Voldemort would not bend to the will of Hermione Jane Granger; but did she need to bend Harry to her will?

While any relationship with Ron would be a never-ending fight for domination Harry would never fight with her; but he would ignore her if she tried to manoeuvre him a direction he didn't wish to go. She realised that if she found this happening she would have to back track and re-evaluate the situation, then she could discuss it rationally with him. At least he would talk rationally about things with her; he wouldn't immediately explode, disengage his ears and brain, then start an unthinking fight with her as Ron would.

She had asked the question in relationship to Ron; so how would she feel if she lost Harry to the war? As she thought about it she realised that she would be devastated, quite simply Harry was the most important person in her life; even ranking ahead of her parents.

Did she love him?

There was a question without an easy answer; it would require some kind of relationship, some dating, she had never really dated a boy … lawks. Hermione was astute enough to realise that Harry wouldn't date her without some kind of promise that whatever happened they would remain friends. Best friends.

Whatever happened Ron would likely blame her.

Hermione was still in a lot of pain and she really wished Harry was here, to hold and comfort her, but he wasn't and she had no idea if he ever would be. Feeling a little sorry for herself she rolled over and hugged Crookshanks as she fell asleep; she was convinced that she would figure things out long before September the first.

Authors Note:

Of his one-shot 'Recovery and Resolve,' DrT told me, "I was trying to figure out what Hermione might have felt in canon -- I would have preferred your outcome".

I however have written more of a prelude to my story 'Where There's the Will.'

DrT's stories can be found on fictionalley and there is a link to his ficwad postings in my yahoo group.