A/N I would like to thank my beta for her efforts in cleaning up my muck.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except my laptop and wherever I'm taking this plot.
It should have been simple. You drop out of school and spend the year saving the world. Ideally, what should follow is that the world is so grateful they ignore the fact that you never finished your education and allow you to enter the workforce without any further requirements. Then everything ends on a fantastic high note with no repercussions. This would be ideal. However, Hermione Granger found herself sitting on her bed, a year after the battle with the now vanquished Dark Lord, holding a letter from Hogwarts.
HOGWARTS SCHOOL OF WITCHCRAFT AND WIZARDRY
Headmistress: Minerva McGonagall
(Order of Merlin, First Class)
Dear Ms. Granger,
We would like to inform you that Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry renovations are complete. Your position at Hogwarts is reserved. Should you decide to complete your final school year and graduate, you have until the 31st of July to respond to this letter. After that date you will be required to complete supplementary courses in another school. You may choose to spend the whole year or take several specific courses in half a term. Please see your enclosed list of required texts. We hope you had an enjoyable and refreshing break.
Horace E. F. Slughorn, Deputy Headmaster
Indeed, reality was cruel. Why couldn't she live in a fantasy land where everyone is happy and a war ends on a clean break? With so many people dead or injured, the magical community was ecstatic it was over but confused about how to proceed. Hermione glanced over at the stacks of Daily Prophet newspapers she never got around to throwing away. A part of her was reluctant to toss out a paper that followed the events of a historical war, not because the paper would unquestionably grow in worth, but because Hermione's powerful love of history and knowledge made it painful to throw them away. She managed to save a whole year in newspapers. It was a very difficult year.
As the wizarding world recovered from the shock and joy of having finally killed the Dark Lord, celebrations and fame led to complicated questions. No one could say that any student at Hogwarts actually accomplished any learning (Hermione was aware they learned many illegal spells, however, it was clear the Ministry did not find that was learning that positively contributed to wizarding society in their final year). Suddenly the whole community began debating. Should students in their last year at school be pardoned for their lack of education and be given honorary graduation, or do they need to repeat the year properly? If it was the case that many seventh year students were traumatized by the events, shouldn't every year be pardoned as well? After all, from first to seventh year, all the students were impacted. Foreign countries also complained about favoritism. Their own children had families killed or property damaged, even if their schools had not been directly destroyed like Hogwarts.
There was more consensus on the famous trio: Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ronald Weasley. The Ministry wanted to give them honorary graduate diplomas. But then where did that leave the students who fought at the front line? That stemmed into arguments about how weak the Ministry was, their policing force was clearly pathetic if they had to rely on students in a school and an underground resistance to do the majority of their battles. The political and economic backlash from the war was powerful and dangerous. Hermione felt badly for Kingsley Shacklebolt; the poor man would have to clean up the mess created by Cornelius Fudge and remained unfixed by Rufus Scrimgeour.
In the end they decided to give students options. Hogwarts School students received one year's break while the school was renovated. This was partly done because the school actually did need refurnishing. Hogwarts was a complex and magically laden school that needed time to recreate. However the ultimate reasoning behind the break was to allow students time off, not only in thanks for their efforts and courage, but to help their families recover and rebuild. Unfortunately for students under sixth year, they had to redo a whole year. For those above, they could take a half term to complete their year, since they were most involved in the battle itself, had learned the majority of their studies and sacrificed the most. Hermione was sure the professors would go easier on the younger students and personally hoped that the same would not go for her.
She absolutely adored the difficult lessons because they were really interesting to her. It was rare for her to come across information that was hard to understand, but she loved the challenge. More accurately, she loved obsessively and fanatically tearing into a challenge until it became cowed and finally submitted to her. She had planned to return to Hogwarts ever since she decided to drop out. Of course, she would take the whole year's course. She suspected Ron would be forced to complete his studies in half a term and Harry would join them. The thought of Ron made her cringe.
She lay back on her bed and stretched out, groaning to herself. Ron liked her, and Hermione had believed she liked him back. But it was just so hard to pinpoint why. The boy hardly paid her any attention, was obtuse, irritating, self centered, silly, frustrating, temperamental, shallow… His only saving grace was that every once in a while he could be extremely sweet and he was devoutly loyal to his friends (so long as they didn't make him too jealous). Hermione bit her lip and turned to her side, fighting off the burning in her eyes so she wouldn't cry.
It was loneliness. She had wanted Ron only because she was lonely. Her intellect had preceded her whole life. That was all anyone ever saw in her when she walked into a room. It became such a powerful part of her identity that she didn't know if there even was any other part of her. Her clothes were plain, her body was plain, everything was so damn plain. She walked into a room as a brain. Everyone wanted to utilize her. No one just wanted to be with her. Just to chat. No one came to her without having a question or needing a favour.
Her fame stemmed from Harry Potter's fame. He was the boy who dealt the blow that killed the Dark Lord. Ron was famous because he was the best male friend of the Boy Who Lived (although Hermione would never tell him that the girls chasing him were really interested in spending a few minutes with Harry). Hermione on the other hand, was a Know-it-all. Or a Know-it-all-Bitch. It wasn't fair. She contributed the most, helped Harry through the worst. If she really gave in and allowed herself some credit, she had to admit that she did all the grunt work in everything they did. But she was only important in the corporate world, no value for herself as a person. She already had many offers and begging from major wizarding businesses. She turned them down of course; she needed to finish her schooling if she were to feel truly qualified.
"Are you insane? You have all these people trying to give you jobs! Really good jobs! And you're turning them down?" Ron looked at her in shock.
"It's just not right! I'm not qualified until I finish school! Look at these offers… St. Mungos? I have no training! The Ministry wants me? I don't know anything about this. I can't use this sensitive period to propel myself up to a status I don't deserve. What if I get these jobs? What on earth am I supposed to do then?" She looked at him in annoyance.
"Pfft. I'm taking that Ministry job they offered me. Should be great! And what do they care about our qualifications? We saved them! We saved everyone. They probably don't want you to actually do anything anyway, just have you there to be you and get them attention. It'll be easy and you'll make loads of money!"
Her face turned red. "Well, Ronald Weasley, I see how much you think of yourself. Perfectly comfortable just sitting around and doing nothing with your life! I want to actually keep going and help people! I want to do things, not just be a figurehead."
They got into an awful row over that. A part of her found relief when Ron ended it between them. They were never a good idea, and knowing how sensitive Ron was, if she had ended it the friendship would have surely died. As much as she did not want Ron as a boyfriend, she didn't want to lose his friendship. She was still furious with him though, for breaking up with her just to explore his newfound fame with the girls. It was ridiculous. Ron got sexual offers, Hermione received the most lucrative job offers, and Harry got the best of both worlds, he was offered a lot of opportunities for work and was deeply involved with Ginny.
Hermione could admit to herself that she was feeling unappreciated. People didn't like her; they liked what she was capable of doing for them. The problem was that Hermione liked helping others. She took pride in her work and accomplishments so her intelligence was very much a part of her and she could never be disingenuine. To prep herself, dress up and take interest in things that many others liked but she found boring, simply wasn't possible. She tried to remind herself of who she really was. Hermione was a young woman, she wanted to joke and have fun like anyone else, she even wanted to participate in silly things.
Ever since she was little, even in muggle schools, no one liked her. She was too smart. But her greatest sin was that her intelligence was obvious, blatantly loud for the whole world to hear. "I know," "I understand," "you only need say it once, or you may never need say it at all because I will find out anyway." Hermione Granger was a prodigy in her own right. They had hated her for it. Naturally, she built barriers around herself. She would be the genius they all hated, she buried herself in knowledge of the world to avoid actively dealing with it, until eventually she could no longer pinpoint any other characteristic in herself.
By then she was crying softly to herself, curled up into a ball. She shot up abruptly from the bed, furious at her moment of weakness, her self pity. She took a deep breath and walked over to her desk across the room, holding the letter in her hand. Her desk, like her room, was well organized. There were many ink stains and scratches, but the books and papers were carefully arranged in compartments for easy retrieval. She hated to throw away books or notes; one never knows when they'll be needed. The room itself was clean, barely anything out of place, and plain. Always plain. Except for her walls. Her walls were completely and totally covered in vivid photographs of nature, people, and places.
She sat herself down at the desk, turning on the lamp as sunlight began to disappear over the horizon and quickly wrote out her reply. She had missed Hogwarts and never got to say goodbye properly. Now she could finally complete an important part of herself, and what she had strived to do all her young life: finish school as the top student.
What will I strive for after?
She quickly banished the thought and put her quill to the paper:
I, Hermione Jane Granger, would like to enroll for a full year's term…
A/N: I havent given up on my other story, I've already written up three chapters, my beta just decided to edit this story first lol This story is going to be a weird mix of humour and drama, with romance of course. And... yes I do know there's a lil bit of a dirty pun on the summary lol
If you have the time, drop on by and give me a review! If you cant or wont, then I hope you enjoyed reading!