Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter or any of the characters.
A/N: Okay so this is a 'what if' story. More to the point it is what if Hermione was never attacked by the troll on Halloween and never became friends with Harry and Ron. This first chapter is summing up the first two years and the next chapter will start in the beginning of the third year.
I am planning on doing all the years... and maybe after that time too but I've only finished the third year. I'm not sure how long it will take me to do each year... and they aren't as detailed as the books are (at least not yet, I think by the time they will get to the fifth year and definitely the sixth and seventh it will get more detail and interesting), so I wasn't sure how I should update this story. I was thinking about either doing it once a week until I run out of material or update more quickly and then stop after I was done with each year (in that case it would have a good stopping point and I would have time to write the other chapters). Let me know... if I don't get word I'll update once a week.
I must also apologies for all the spelling and grammar mistakes, and I hope you like the story.
The First Years
It was the first of September, and a thirteen year-old-girl was getting out of a car, while her parents where getting her things out of the trunk. This girl was happy as she thought about going back to school; she had always loved school and couldn't wait for it to start. However, she was also a little sad, it has been two years since she had first started going to the school, and still she wasn't really friends with anyone. As she walked through platform 9¾, she realized that she didn't really have anyone that she could sit with, yeah she got along well enough with Neville, and she really did think he was a nice guy, but she didn't really know him too well. No she had spent most of her time at Hogwarts in the library, reading about all the fascinating things that were to offer there. On the most part she was happy with her life at Hogwarts, and she knew that she was happier here than she would have been at a Muggle school, at least she wasn't a freak here, but sometimes she really was lonely.
It was my own fault, she thought as she hugged her parents good-bye (and they wish her luck on her new term at school), she never put herself out there, and nobody knew anything about her. Then again there wasn't anybody that she really cared about knowing, expect for course Harry Potter who she had always found fascinating and had a feeling that they could have been great friends. Oh who was she kidding, Harry didn't have time to notice anyone, given all the things that he had to deal with. Besides, it didn't matter how he felt about her, she had promised herself that she would always think of Harry as her friend, as her best friend (it just felt right thinking of him like that). Harry's (real) best friend on the other hand was a completely different story, and she wasn't sure what she thought about Ronald Weasley. At first she thought that he was the most irritating boy that this planet had come up with, and the main reason to why she could never really get to know Harry. However, more recently, the day she was in the hospital getting un-petrified to be exact, when she saw how kind and caring he could be to his sister (who looked terrified and they were both covered in slime), she had, to her horror, started to think of the redhead boy more than she wanted. I should have known all along, she thought bitterly, the way that she had always argued with him and how his words, though no meaner than the insults that she heard for years, seem to cut so much deeper when they came from him. She knew it was dangerous to keep thinking about this boy, it will only hurt her more, but she couldn't seem to get him out of her mind.
As she sat alone in her compartment, opening a book and started to read, her mind couldn't help but wondering back to her first year. Now that she was a little bit older and could look back on the situation with a clear mind, she realized the many mistakes that she made that year. Mistakes that have now prevented her from becoming friends with the two boys that engrossed her the most. She realized that her first few months at Hogwarts she really was a little bossy and put off an air that she knew everything. She couldn't help it, when she was nervous she tends to speak a lot and say whatever was on her mind, which was usually filled with knowledge that most people could careless to hear about. She had also practically insulted Ron on their first meeting and probably came across as some insane fan of the Famous Harry Potter (not that she ever thought of Harry in that way, after she meet him). Then she had continued to act like a know-it-all bookworm, and made no real friends, unless you counted Neville who often listened to her to help him study. (It wouldn't be until the next year when she started really seeing Neville as a friend and would occasionally talk to him outside of schoolwork.)
Then she remembered the incident in one charms class that ended with her trying to help Ron in class (and sounding like the know-it-all she couldn't help being at the time) which cause him to call her a nightmare and friendless. It was a harsh blow, her peers, the people she tried to impress hoping that they would like her, couldn't stand her. No one came to her defense; no one cared about her feelings; she didn't have anyone. That was probably her worst day a Hogwarts, crying in the girls toilet, knowing nobody cared, and it was on that day that she made a decision that she now wish she could take back. After coming up to her dorm room hours after the incident she made up her mind that she wasn't going to try to impress people anymore. She was still going to try her hardest in class, and answer any question asked, but she wasn't going to talk nonstop in the common room. No, she was going to dive more into her books, who needs friends anyways they just distracted you from learning and being your best. She also decided to stay away from Harry, though she wanted to be his friend more than anything else, she knew he didn't feel the same way (he didn't even care that she was hurting on Halloween).
The only exception to this was her friendship with Hagrid, but seeing as he wasn't a student, more like a teacher really, it didn't count. She had made friends with Hagrid on the second week of school when she decided to take a different route back from Herbology and ran into the, what she always assumed, half giant. It wasn't anything special really, he just talked to her, but he seemed to have interesting things to say and she found his joyous nature comforting. Since that time she would go down to his hut at least once a week to talk with him.
Many interesting things happened that year, and no matter how hard she tried she just couldn't seem to stay away from Harry. The fact was that he had often found himself in trouble, and she just couldn't seem to stop herself from trying to help him out. For instants, there was the time that his broom was trying to buck him of itself; knowing that a student most likely wouldn't have the power necessary to keep a curse on the broom for long she had turn her gaze to the Professors and notice that Snape was obviously muttering something under his breath (she had overhead Harry telling Ron that Snape had tried to get pass the vicious three headed dog on Halloween, so he was her primary suspect). She had run towards the Professors seats and set Snape's robes on fire, which caused the broom to stop bucking. (How was she supposed to know the flames also cause Quirrell to get knock down and he was the real reason for the curse? Oh well.)
Then there was the time that she had found Harry and Ron seating in Hagrid's hut looking at a dragon that had just been born. Harry (and Ron to, but she didn't want to think about that) were surprised that she didn't go straight to the Professors, but how could she? Hagrid would get in trouble and she couldn't live with herself if he had gotten hurt. A couple of weeks later she almost wish that she had told though, since Harry and Ron were caught coming down from the Astronomy tower for no good reason, most people thought, but she know that it had something to do with the dragon.
Not having the courage to break the rules she set for herself after Halloween she ignored them as much as she normally did, though she did continued talking to Neville who had also got caught trying to warn Harry. The poor boy really was miserable, what with their entire house giving him a cold shoulder, but when she had told him that there was indeed a real dragon, and Harry wasn't pulling a joke on him he seem to cheer up a little.
Even to these day, she still didn't know what made her go down stair that night. She guess it was either because she was worried before she went to bed or that she somehow sense that something important was going to happen and she need to be a part of it. She laughed at herself at that thought, still looking out the window in the train, it had probably been an hour since the journey begun and she was still alone. She was still alone; she was always alone. It was that day, the day that she heard Harry telling Ron about the monstrous creature that was drinking unicorn's blood (they had just return from their detention in the Forbidden Forest) and how he had thought the creature was actually Voldemort. It's weird, she thought with a rare smile on her face, most people would likely turn away from someone that had the most powerful wizard after them (or try to convince him that he was imaging things at the very least). However, for her, it was then that she decided that no matter what she was going to help Harry out, though she still wasn't able to get close to him, and he didn't even know that she had overheard that conversation. (She really needs to stop eavesdropping, but she can't seem to help herself, whenever Harry was in the room she seemed to be able to pick up what he was saying.) It was also that day that she learned that though Ron had many faults, he was a good friend and someone who stood up for those that he cared for (and she really had to admire him for that).
So it was really no surprise to her (though a huge one for Harry and Ron) when she had found herself once again in the room with the vicious three headed dog jumping down the trapdoor that she had told Harry about so many mouths before. She had once again overheard Harry and Ron discussing things, something about a philosopher's stone (which she knew can cause someone to live forever and makes things turn gold) and how Snape was going to try and steal it for Voldemort tonight and that he (Harry) had no choice now but to try and stop them. He looked truly shocked when Ron said that he was going too, like he expected his friend to leave him to his fate without trying to help. For her part, after she heard that she went straight to her dorm room and read over her notes and books trying to think of the things that she may have to face trying to help those two out.
She also had to spend some time thinking of how she was going to help Harry without him seeing her as an insufferable know-it-all. She decided that she would have to trail them without letting them know, at least until after it was too late for her to turn around. So, that's why she was down stairs in a dark corner waiting for the boys to make their move (in those hours the only things worth mentioning was Neville's toad making another one of it bids of freedom and Hermione giving the nervous boy his toad back).
Then they finally came down the stairs and left the common room, getting under Harry's invisible cloak. This caused her to worry and made it a lot harder than she thought to follow them. She was starting to panic thinking that she wouldn't be able to help after all, but then she remembered that she knew exactly where they were heading and if worst comes to worst she'd just have to explain to them why she was there. However, when she came to the forbidden corridor she was just in time to see the flaming red hair going down the trap door and the three-headed dog seeming to be waking up from a enchanted state. Luckily she had over heard that "Fluffy" fell asleep when it heard music so she started to sing a tune and ran towards the trap door, she had a split second of hesitation but after hearing the boys' screams of pain she jumped down the hole and landed in a soft sustains that she realized was a plant, devil's snare, to be exact.
"Stop struggling," she said causing the boys to stop struggling, not because of her advice but because they were shocked that she was there. "That devil's snare, how was it that you killed it, oh yeah it hates the sun," she said in a thoughtful voice as she had detangled herself and grabbed her wand.
"So light a fire," Harry said, slowly getting over his shock, and so she did. After everyone got to safety Harry turn on her as said, "Hermione not that I'm not grateful for you saving us, but why are here."
And here it was; the choice she regretted everyday afterwards (but still was unable to do anything to change it). "I saw you leaving the common room and I thought that you were getting into more trouble and I wasn't going to let that happen."
"Oh, so you thought you would follow us," Ron said rubbing his neck. "Go into a corridor where you know a terrible three headed dog lives and jump down a hole that you had no idea where it lead."
"Ron," Harry said, he really looked anxious and she knew that he didn't want to waste anymore time talking about this.
Though she had to admit that Ron had a valid point with his argument; who would do that if they were just trying to prevent fellow students from getting in trouble? Hermione Grange, that who, she thought, and, trying to live up to her interfering image, said, "I heard you two in there talking and thought it was safe and when I realized that the dog was still there and as vicious as ever I ran to the only escape that I could see."
The argument flare (that she had often seen since that night) in Ron's eyes disappeared and it seem that he accepted her story. Harry looked like he wasn't sure if he should believe her, but didn't have time to worry about that and said. "It doesn't really matter, but we really have to get going there's no time to explain, just stay here and you should be safe."
"I'm not staying her alone," she said looking scare (though not for being left alone but because she didn't want to think what would happen to them without her help).
"Harry, I don't think..." Ron said looking scared too. (She often hoped that he was showing concern towards her, she thought she saw that in his eyes when he looked at her, but she never had the guts to ask him about it.)
"Hermione, dark wizards are down here," Harry said, still trying to be noble and prevent her from facing the dangers that lead ahead. "Even Voldemort might be here..."
She shivered at the name, she couldn't seem to help herself, but regain her composure quickly and said, "And you want to leave by myself, I don't think so. Besides you'll probably need my help again." Damn, why did she have to revert back to her know-it-all shield then, it allowed her to go with the boys, but it didn't really help them like her. So she went with them, not as their friend or even comrade, but as someone that they were stuck with, but at least she was with them. They got past the next challenge, by Harry catching a key on a broomstick, and open a door.
The next challenge however, was more difficult, since it involved a giant wizard chessboard, with huge pieces that demolish the other piece when they took them. She was rather impressed with Ron skills, though she had know that he was good from all the gossip that went around in the common room, she had no idea that he could be that confident and commanding. (And she found that she rather liked seeing this confident Ron.) However, when he said that he had to sacrifice himself in order for Harry to win, her heart seemed to stop and she exclaimed, "What?"
"No way," Harry said at the same time.
"Look," Ron said exasperated. "It's the only way."
"No," Harry said terrified.
"If you want to stop You-Know-Who," Ron said fiercely having a determine look in his eyes. "This is the only way. You need to get to him; I know you can stop him."
"Ron," Harry said softly, but nodded.
"Okay then," Ron said turning to the dangerous chess piece about to make a move before he turn to her. "Make sure he makes it through this," he said giving her a lop-sided grin. It was clear to her that he was entrusting her to take care of something that was very important to him and she nodded determinedly towards him, insuring him that she would do her best. She still had dreams (or were they nightmare) of Ron getting hit by the chess piece and his motionless body getting dragged across the board. However, she didn't even allow herself to look backwards. (She is now sure that somehow, she knew that if she did, she wouldn't have been able to leave him).
The next challenge, or at least the next challenge that they had to face (there was a troll that was knocked out that they were able to just past by), was actually something she was really good at. It was a logic problem; she had always been very good at this and was able to solve this one in a couple of minutes. The only problem was that the potion that allowed them to go forward only had enough left in it for one, and she knew, before he even said it that he was going in alone.
"Look," he said having a look in his eyes that somehow showed he was older than his age would have you believe. "Take the potion that takes you back, get Ron, and fly through the trapdoor and try and owl Dumbledore. I've..." he said turning towards the door that lead on. "I've got to go on; I'll try and hold him off as long as I can."
She looked at him for a moment, wishing he didn't have to go through this alone, but knowing she didn't have a choice. Before she left though she had to make sure he understood something. "You're a great wizard you know."
He looked at her confused for a moment before saying, "Not as good as you."
"Yes you are," she said putting her hand on his shoulder and giving him a stare that told him that she wasn't joking. "You have a quality about you... I know that you can do this... Believe in yourself." He looked uncomfortable by her declaration but he also seem to gain some confidence from her words, whether he actually believed her or was merely happy at hearing that someone thought he was good, she didn't know, but she was just happy it seem to help him out.
The next few hours were one of the worst of her life, after she had woken Ron and they had reached their headmaster, she was forced to go back to the common room alone. Ron was able to stay at the hospital wing since he had injuries. When she got to the common room she just sat in one of the chairs and thought about what had happen to Harry. She had seen when Dumbledore had brought him in, he looked so small and weak (and pale), and she thought that he might have died.
When the common room started to light up she took it as her cue that it was her time to go to the hospitable and check to see if the boys were okay. Luckily enough Dumbledore had given her permission to see Harry, and she was told that he was going to be okay, he was just magically drained. She just looked at him for a moment, how could this boy have so much put on his shoulders when he was only her age, almost a year younger actually. Why did he have to face all this alone, but as she gazed at him, she realized that he will always have to face things like this alone, but she will be there ever time when he needed help. It was there that she had decided (though she had already felt this way for some time) that Harry was her best friend, and even though he may not see her as a friend, she will always be his best friend that he never knew he had.
During summer break that year she came to realize that with that day's events that she could have probably made friends with the two, all she had to do was talk to them. Really it was actually odd that they hadn't become friends; who goes through a life and death situation with each other and not end up friends? But no, she had to ignore them and keep up her cold exterior and then they didn't see each other for two months and things went back the way it always was.
It didn't help that they had arrived in a flying car and nearly got expelled and that she would have much rather lectured them then try to make friends (though she was able to prevent herself from actually lecturing them). That year was much worse than the first year. She hadn't really made any friends in the previous year, though at least she could talk to Neville and know that it was acceptable. However, the thing that made this year so much worst wasn't the lack of friends (or more noticeably her inability to be friends with Harry) but the horrible things that started happening after Halloween.
Something called the Chamber of Secret was opened and the main purpose was to get rid of Muggle-Borns like herself. She felt uncomfortable just walking the halls that year, and it was then that her 'friendship' with Neville really started to take from. They would often walk to classes together (and he would even spend more time at the library with her, she was sure to make her feel better), he was under the impression that he was at a greater risk because he was 'almost a squib' (which was completely ridiculous in Hermione opinion and she told him so).
Then, right before Christmas, Harry had to go and shock everyone by talking to a snake in the Duel Club that Professor Lockhart. (Who she had a huge crush on and was thoroughly disappointed and angry when she found out that he was fraud. She was still hopeful that she only was so taken with him because of all the things that he was supposed to have done and not because he was so handsome). It was a shock to say the least to find out that Harry was a parselmouth, though she knew she didn't take it as bad as most people because she wasn't raise to believe that it was a sign of being dark. However, for people to actually think that he could be the Heir of Slytherin was ridiculous. Of course it didn't help that people that seemed to annoy him were starting to turn to stone, well stone like, they were actually petrified, but still, can't they see that he was the hero and not the villain?
"I don't get it," Harry had said to her after Justin had been petrified and everyone was avoiding him. "Why aren't you running away from me like everyone else?"
"Of come one Harry," she scoffed. "Like I would believe that you could actually do that."
"Really," he said looking more pleased by that than anything she had every told him.
"I was down that trap door with you last year," she said. "You risked everything trying to stop you-know-who from gaining power, how could you possibly attack anyone like this."
"Oh right, now all I have to do is have everyone else see me risk my life to convince them that I'm not some sort of madman," he huffed but he smiled at her before he walked away.
Then it happened, the thing that she feared since Halloween, she was petrified. It all started with her overhearing (of course) Harry and Ron. Harry had been hearing voice all year, or more precisely since just before Halloween. She knew this already (she heard them talking about it early) but now that he was saying it like this, him hearing them as they walked towards the Quidditch pitch (she decided to go down to the pitch as soon as they left) made her see something that she couldn't see before. It also help that she had learned that he was a parselmouth and that was an interesting theory that she could work with.
She rush off to the library and went through everything she could find on all the difference kinds of snakes, cross referencing with the symptoms that she knew it caused it's victims; petrifying, killed rooster (Hagrid had complained about that), and spiders fleeing from it. (She had gone to the girls toilet along with Harry and Ron to investigate the incident; saying that she had every right to be there seeing as she was the Muggle-born). It only took her fifteen minutes to find the one that she was looking for; The Basilisk. It was worse than she thought, the Basilisk could kill you in so many ways that she feared what was going to happen.
In her haste to get this information to someone (and though she knew it wasn't going to be good that most likely meant Harry) she ripped the page out of the book (thank Merlin that Madam Pince didn't know what she did or she might never be able to go into the library again; a fate worse than any she could think of). However, she wasn't about to go running around the corridors knowing that a giant snake was out there... really out there if Harry was hearing correctly. So she went to the first person she could find, Penelope Clearwater, and told her everything (she was a prefect so that would have be helpful) and the two of them went on to tell but they didn't get far before they saw those eyes (in Penelope's mirror) and then darkness. She still had nightmares about those eyes (and about waking up and not being ready or the finals test of the year, but those weren't as bad).
When she woke up in the hospital, in what felt like a second later, but was actually months, she felt confuse and out of place. She notice that Ginny Weasley, Ron's little sister was there and she looked like she went through a lot, at least she was covered in slime and was being looked after by what could only have been her parents. A few minutes later Ron came in, with Lockhart (he had been curse by his own spell and lost his memory, which in her opinion he really deserved). As soon as he noticed her there looking at him he nodded his head (in what she thought was a friendly matter; and there was something about his eyes that seem pleased that she was okay but she could have been imagining that) before he walked over to the rest of his family.
It really was then when she was watching Ron try to cheer up his sister (which seemed to work a little) that she saw him in a whole new light. He wasn't just the annoying best friend of Harry that had a knack of pissing her off (and they had more the a few arguments the last year), but she could also see how caring he was. It made her stomach ache just thinking about that look on his face when he thought no one was watching... he was so caring... loving... Argh, why did this have to happen? Why did she have to think that way about the most insensitive person on the planet? But it didn't matter anymore then it matter how she felt about Harry... she wasn't going to tell them any time soon.
She was surprised when Harry sat next to her in the common room the next day.
"I just wanted to thank you," he said.
"For what?" she said really confused.
"I found this the other day," he said handing her the paper she had ripped out of the book. "It really saved my life knowing what I was facing."
"Oh," she said blushing. "Glad I could help."
"Though I was surprised that you actually defiled a book," Ron said over her shoulder causing her to jump (she hadn't realized that he was there).
"Oh shut up," she said. "I needed to get the information to someone..."
"Well you did," Harry said smiling, and stopping the likely fight that was going to happened between Ron and Hermione. "Thank you."
"Yeah thanks," Ron said seriously, his ear turning red.
"You're welcome," she said shyly.
"And don't worry, we won't tell anyone you destroyed that valuable book," Ron smirked. "We wouldn't want you to get kicked out of the library."
That was it, that's what she got for her year off terror, but she was still happy. She had help Harry once again and she would even take the exile from the library if it was to help Harry out. However, as the long train ride was coming to an end, and she was still sitting by herself she couldn't help but feel really lonely. And it was then that she vowed that she was going to change that... if not with Harry and Ron like she wanted she was going to make a friend this year.