Hogwarts felt like a different place that year. It seemed like everyone was changing and growing up, everyone but her. She felt like her peers were leaving her behind. Her dorm-mates had already started talking about boys and makeup. Most of the Gryffindor boys had already started to notice the other girls and she cringed at the thought of being the only one left behind in that respect. It wasn't that she wanted attention from them, it would just be nice to be recognized as a girl. It wasn't like she didn't have the necessary bits. She scoffed at herself and turned the corner.
She looked up and peered around the hall. It was full of giggling girls and strutting boys. Did they give out shots and she wasn't informed? She couldn't help but notice people seemed to look past her, past the fact that she was there and willing to talk to them. She sighed wearily and ducked into an abandoned classroom on this floor.
Professor McGonagall had managed to get her one. Hermione just couldn't see going through this year without one. It was horribly devastating to imagine not being able to take all the classes she could and the professor had helped to ease her nerves by getting her a time-turner. She was the only person in Hogwarts history that had ever been given one to use. Well that she knew of, she was definitely the only muggleborn though. She was proud of the fact that she was so trusted by her professors. She pulled it from her robes and gave it a few quick turns.
The classroom spun around her as time traveled back. She never noticed the blue eyes that were had seen her disappear, she was too set on making sure the time-turner would stop when it was suppose to. When the world stopped spinning Hermione gained her footing and peered around the room. 'Good it's empty.' She thought before peering out the door. ' Perfect, everyone's still in class then.' She rushed off to her the Defense room but arrived as the 5th year class was leaving.
She spotted the Weasley twins laughing along with Lee Jordan and some of the girls from their year. She felt a stab of jealousy as she watched the girls fawn over Fred and George like they walked on water. She scowled at the smile that Fred sent back to the vapid little witches. No one had ever looked at her that way. Wasn't she good enough or was she destined to fail at life and only succeed where it didn't matter in the long run? She knew that her studies were important but she couldn't imagine how much they'd help when she would end up living a lonely life. She shook her head and moved into the classroom and took her seat and started to think over her upcoming lesson.
Boggarts. Today it was boggarts and everyone thought they'd know exactly what Hermione would see they were wrong though, so very, very wrong. Hermione knew she was expected to be the smart one, the one who made the wise choices, the one who had to say no when others wanted to have fun. It's true she loved her books almost like children, but like every parent she wanted a break sometimes. No one believed her though no one could ever see that she can be fun, she can laugh and make jokes after all it wasn't her fault she had a rather dry sense of humor, that she wants a life outside of school work. Her real fear is that no one would ever see her as anything more. She walked into the empty defense class and took her seat placing her books, parchment, and quill in just the right places. Her head jerked up when she heard a door close and she smiles as she saw Professor Lupin coming down the stairs from his office.
"Hello Hermione, how are you today?" He asked sitting on his own desk in front of her.
"I'm alright Professor just a little nervous is all."
Professor Lupin chuckled and leaned back onto his hands, "Yes I imagine most students are today. Boggarts are nasty business but one must face their fears."
With a slight smile she leaned forward "I'm worried to face mine but I'm also worried for Harry. I can't imagine what his may be and I don't know if I want too really."
"Yes I can see most people would worry about his particular boggart, but don't worry it's never real, what your seeing is only from your imagination, remember that and you'll do just fine." He placed a hand on her shoulder giving it an affectionate squeeze before turning away and heading to the rattling wardrobe in the front of the room, smiling as students began filing in.
Harry and Ron sat in the desk next to hers turning to smile and say 'Hullo' before pulling out there materials and turning forward. Hermione turned to her left when someone came in last minute and plopped down next to her only to find Malfoy sneering and moving his chair further away.
"Scared Granger?" he asked a malicious smile on his face.
Hermione scoffed "You wish Malfoy. I'm merely nervous, If I'm scared for anyone it's the class, when your boggart becomes even more hideous than you already are."
Harry and Ron sniggered and she could hear a distinct snort, which quickly became a cough, from Professor Lupin's direction.
"Why don't you learn how to speak to your betters before you address me Granger!" He snarled before he turned away from her, crossing his arms and pouting childishly. She couldn't help but smirk; she had gotten one better on Malfoy. Life was good at that moment.
Professor Lupin cleared his throat, "Alright everyone put your things away and get into a line."
The next few minutes were filled with people packing their things up and moving off to the side and forming a line. Professor Lupin flicked his wand and vanished the desks, allowing the students to move forward. Hermione stood in the group watching her classmates face the boggart, seeing Professor Snape in a dress, an unraveling mummy, a spider on skates and many more rather funny things. Soon it was her turn and she stepped forward hearing Malfoy making jokes about what her Boggart would be. Professor Lupin gave her an encouraging smile. She managed to give him a tight smile in return as she walked forward. Her eyes widened and dread washed through as she watched in horror. The boggart began to shift and move, splitting off into two separate masses. She choked on the air she hadn't even inhaled when the blobs began to take shape. Red hair. 'No!' Freckled skin. 'No, no, no!' Near identical faces. 'No! Please no!' The Weasley Twins. Oh Goddess please no! She thought as she looked at her fear in dread.
"Look at that Fred," George said as he sidled towards her, deftly twirling a wand between his fingers. "Gryffindor's resident Know-It-All."
Fred laughed clapping his brother on the back before turning to her with a sneer. "Yes, would you look at her, so boring and bookish. I'd bet my broom that she'll die alone. No one around to hear the next 'amazing' fact from her lips."
George chuckled and began to circle her shaking form, running his hand across her shoulder. "Too right she will. Everyone knows she isn't any fun, isn't that right Hermione? You're not any fun at all."
Hermione whimpered as the words they spoke struck home in her heart. They were right, she didn't have many friends and even Harry and Ron would tease her. Professor Lupin moved forward to help her but she lifted a shaky hand to stop him "No professor, please let me do this." She raised her wand with a trembling hand and opened her mouth for the spell.
"Sure you wanna do that Granger? We can help, you know? Make you popular for once, make everyone like you. No more taunting and teasing. Of course, you could say the spell and then you'll be like this forever, the boring one, the one who isn't any fun and is only good for homework help." Fred wound an arm around her shoulder whispering in her ear "Don't you want people to like you?" He paused and she shivered as his breathy chuckle washed over her cheek. "No, I forgot you only love your books, you only love your knowledge. Everyone knows that. You can't love anyone else but your books and you never will. After all, who will want the gryffindor with bucked teeth, frizzy hair and a back that hunched from all the books she carries? Who wants a girl who isn't any fun?"
George leaned towards her whispering in her other ear; "You know, maybe you're beyond help. I can't imagine anyone ever loving you, no ones going to kiss you and no one is ever going to be mad enough to marry you." He leaned away chuckling.
"Alone." They taunted as the circled her like vultures to the carcass.
"Hermione do the spell!" Harry yelled to her.
"Riddikulus! Riddikulus!" she shouted.
The twins laughed "Not good enough Granger." They taunted her together.
"Riddikulus Dammit!" She raised her wand pushing away her emotions and set her feet "You're wrong, I know you're wrong and I don't care what you think! RIDDIKULUS!" The boggarts yelped, turning into a mass of multicolored laughing bubbles. Hermione fell to her knees and even Malfoy was too shocked to say anything. Professor Lupin rushed forward and wrapped an arm around her and led her to his chair.
"Good job Hermione, ten points to Gryffindor." He whispered before handing her a piece of chocolate and moving away. She smiled lightly at his back, she was proud she had overcome the boggart.
Hermione looked to Harry and giving him a trembling grin. "You can do it." she whispered. She watched Harry smile at her before stepping up to the boggart with confidence he hadn't shown before. Out of the corner of her eye she saw Professor Lupin lunge forward as the Boggart began to take shape. Hermione saw a dementor rush forward at Harry before it stopped and shifted to a bright silver orb. Hermione's eyes widened 'Why would he be afraid of the moon that makes no sense.' she thought. Professor Lupin banished the Boggart before dismissing the class and asking Hermione to stay behind. Hermione waved Harry and Ron off when they asked if they should wait.
Harry walked over and giving her a hug, "You know that isn't true, right Hermione? I don't think that, you were my first real friend here." He whispered in her hair and pulled away smiling.
"Thank you Harry, you were mine too." She said with a smile.
Harry said farewell and left while Professor Lupin walked over and sat on his desk turning the chair to face him. "You know I had the same problem growing up, not many people liked me I was always too studious, too smart...they treat you that way because they're jealous, because they want what you have. Trust me Hermione, it took some great friends of mine to teach me that, they accepted me just like Harry accepts you, more will come, don't you worry about that. Friends like that stick by you through everything." He gave her a reassuring smile and helped her out of the chair.
Hermione began to leave, her tears dried before she turned around and rushed back to Professor Lupin throwing her arms around the professor, hugging him tightly. Professor Lupin, for his own part, was shocked but embraced the young girl lightly, savoring the human contact as tears formed in his eyes. She smiled up at him and raced out of the room call a 'thank you' back to him.
He smiled at the retreating back of such an amazing young woman. She was only fourteen and was already overcoming some of life's hardest struggles. It was good to know that Harry had such a wonderful friend.
'Harry.' That was a name he had thought of often in his self imposed exile. He knew he should have visited him at his relatives, he should have been there for him. The cards weren't in his favor though; the ministry had banished him from Harry's presence, claiming one so young should not be allowed near their savior unsupervised. He would make up for that now though, he'd start tomorrow.