"Hermione, darling, wake up! Your train is departing in an hour and a half, and I know you don't want to be late!"

At the sound of her mother's voice, Hermione immediately leaped out of her warm bed and ran into her bathroom. Picking up her toothbrush, she quickly scrubbed out any muck that had amassed overnight, before splashing her face with cold water. Then, she took off her worn pajamas and stepped into the shower, ready to be greeted by a few of the small pleasures of life, such as standing blissfully under hot water and using shampoo that smelled like jasmine and french vanilla. After about twenty minutes, she grabbed her fluffy towel, dried herself, and then donned her light blue robe before reaching for her wand and tapping her unruly hair.

Instantly, her hair went from looking like something Crookshanks threw up to soft, shiny waves that fell lightly past her shoulders. Grateful that the first part of her battle was won, she padded across her room to her moderately sized closet, looking for something suitable to wear that she hadn't already padlocked into her enormous trunks (although admittedly, about a half of the trunks' content was books). Deciding not to waste too much time on just clothes, she pulled out a pair of tight-fitting khaki capris and a comfortable green tank top with the peace sign splashed on at the front, along with her new pair of white "gladiator heels". Then once again, she faced her bathroom mirror, wondering if makeup was in order this morning. She shrugged before applying the basic eyeliner and mascara, and then she applied a colorless lip gloss which simply made her lips look a little fuller and shinier. When she finished, she stepped back, gave herself a full checkup, and then smiled at her reflection.

I look good, she thought before heading downstairs to her waiting parents and breakfast.

"Hey, kid!" shouted her dad, getting up from his seat and giving her a big bear hug. "How's my girl, Hermione, this morning?"

"I'm doing great, Dad!" laughed Hermione as she hugged her father back and then went over to her mother to kiss her on the cheek. "Well, Mum, what's for breakfast? I'm starved!"

"Then you just sit down, dear, and start eating up those pancakes I made you. Juice or milk?" said her mother as she opened the fridge door.

"Oh, just juice, thanks," Hermione said as she devoured her pancakes with relish. When she started to cough a little bit, her father thumped her on the back until she straightened up again.

"Careful, there!" her father cried. "You don't want to miss out on Hogwarts just because you couldn't control yourself at the breakfast table, do you? Speaking of which, this is your last year. I just want you to know that I'm proud of you for making it through these past six years, and that I'm sure that this year, you'll graduate as top of your class, brightest student Hogwarts has ever seen!"

Mrs. Granger smiled warmly at Hermione over her coffee mug. "I second that. But just remember, dear, you're a big girl now, and we trust you to take care of yourself and all that is precious to you. This leads me to say that if you do get involved with any boys, be sure to think wisely about the consequences that can arise from a simple lack of thinking in a possibly heated situation…."

Her speech was abruptly stopped by the identical looks of horror on her husband's and daughter's faces.

"Oh, honestly! As if I wasn't a teenager once!" she huffed before winking at her daughter. "Why, the stories I could tell you about my many conquests…and your father's as well."

Mr. Granger hurriedly cleared his throat, jumped up from his chair, and rushed upstairs to bring down Hermione's trunks. "Be careful, Dad," Hermione called. "Those trunks are a bit heavy!"

"I'm all right, Herms," he puffed as he struggled to load the huge trunks into her small car. "I just need to oil the ol' guns a bit more often, that's all." He stood back, red-faced and exhausted, as Hermione came and pecked him on the cheek.

"Thanks, Dad. I couldn't have done it without you."

"Ah, you just stay safe and get yourself that diploma, you hear me?" her dad said gruffly as he pulled his daughter in for a final hug.

"Darling, are you sure you don't want us to come with you to the station?" Mrs. Granger asked worriedly.

Hermione looked into her mother's kind, brown eyes as she reassured her, "Don't worry, Mum. You know I can drive myself perfectly safely to the station, so don't be so anxious for heaven's sakes! And you know I'll be writing often, so please don't feel like I'm abandoning you or something, all right?"

Her mother sighed before embracing Hermione one last time and then shooing her into her car. "Go, go! You're going to be late!"

Hermione got into the driver's seat, blew her parents a kiss, and then drove off. The last her parents saw of her was her waving hand as she turned the corner.

"Oh, Edward," Mrs. Granger sighed as she laid her head on her husband's shoulder. "I'm going to miss that daughter of ours."

"I will too, Mary," he replied as he gave her shoulder a gentle squeeze. "I will too."


Draco looked around the familiar station with a complete expression of boredom on his pale face. Year after year, Platform 9 ¾ remained the exact same: the same old brick establishment, the frantic newcomers running around, and the anxious parents filling their kids' ears with loads of unhelpful twaddle like "Don't forget to feed the Giant Squid some whole-wheat bread!" And of course, there was the puffing black and red Hogwarts Express, his own gateway to freedom.

It was freedom because, contrary to popular belief, his summer hadn't been a very enjoyable one, what with his father bringing home gold-digging sleaze after sleaze as possible "future prospects" and "potential Malfoys", and his mother hosting dull party after dull party, all in the hopes of finding a suitable girl who wouldn't rip her son's life to shreds in the blink of an eye. But that, he supposed a bit smugly, was what one got for being the most sought after bachelor and the best-looking wizard of his age…not to mention that fact that he was worth millions of galleons and his family was one of the most respected in all of wizarding society.

Suddenly, an odd and highly nerve-wracking sound pulled Draco out of his thoughts, and the first thing he registered was that there was something that looked very much like a pug wearing leather hurtling at him at high speed.

"Eeeeee, Drakey-poo!" squealed the pug which Draco unfortunately recognized as the ever irksome Pansy Parkinson. "I've missed you sooooo much these past two months!"

She reached up and hooked her arms around his neck, and then without delay, he was bombarded with a hundred wet kisses being smacked all over his face and neck.

"God damn it, Pansy, GET OFF OF ME!" he shouted as he struggled to throw her off. He could hear the sniggers of those passing by, and felt like flinging Pansy off his chest onto the nearby train tracks. He stopped struggling momentarily as he thought of the ecstasy he'd be filled with if Pansy Parkinson was wiped off the face of the earth, but his bliss was short-lived due to the fact that the loathsome girl, (Does she even qualify as a girl? he wondered), had started to let her hands trail up and down his chest and stomach.

Refusing to ever fall under her stupid spell again, he firmly latched his hand around her wrist and whispered fiercely, "Get lost, Parkinson. I don't care about you and I never will, so you keep your filthy hands to yourself and don't even try to speak with me ever again."

With those words, he dropped her hand and boarded the train, feeling quite good about himself, until he saw who else had just boarded. Of course, he thought maliciously, it's Pothead, Weasel, and Weaselette. Ah, I'm going to have fun fighting with them this last year…unless Potter actually tries to kill me that is. But where's that Mudblood Granger? He glanced around into the nearby compartments, but she wasn't there. He shrugged to himself, forbidding himself to care any longer about the matter, before trudging down the aisle until he was next to the last compartment which was labeled Hogwarts' Heads. Thinking bitterly that with his sort of luck, the Head Girl would turn out to be Millicent Bulstrode or some other idiotic freak, he took a deep breath, put on his most intimidating glare, and slid the door open to enter the compartment.

It was there he came face to face with Hermione Granger.

And it was then that he single handedly managed to a) lose his balance as the train lurched ahead, b) pitch forward causing his forehead to slam into Hermione's nose, c) hear the small "crunch" as her nose broke and she screamed into his ear, and d) stumble backwards and do a comical reflexive turn resulting in him smacking his forehead against the door's glass and then falling backwards onto the floor.

Apparently, it wouldn't take marriage-bent parents, obsessive ex-girlfriends, or spats with Potter to kill him, he thought dazedly. Hermione Granger, it seemed, would be enough.