SOMEWHERE TO BELONG
It was the night of September 15th, 1990 and a girl with bushy brown hair was currently in her bedroom talking with her mother. Ten-year-old Hermione Jane Granger was currently going over birthday plans for her birthday the next week. Although it wasn't going to be a very big celebration, owing to the fact that she had no friends, she was excited nonetheless.
"Is there any specific flavour of cake you want dear?" her mother, Emma Granger asked with a smile.
"You know me Mum, I love vanilla and I love strawberries. Anything with that is fine," Hermione smiled, her rather large front teeth showing.
"I know that dear but you've had the same flavour for the past five years now; surely you want to try something different?"
"I don't know, I'm not the biggest chocolate fan. Maybe a lemon cake this time?"
Emma smiled and wrote this down on the little sheet of paper in her hands. "You've got it. Is there anyone you'd like to invite?"
Hermione's smile disappeared. "No."
"You ask me this every year Mum, even when it isn't my birthday. I don't want anyone to come over, I don't have any- I don't need anyone else around," she said not looking at her mother.
Emma sighed and sat down next to her daughter. "Surely there must be someone you want to invite. Surely there must be one peer in your class you are friendly too."
"I'm friendly to everyone Mum, it's everyone else how isn't friendly to me," Hermione pointed out.
Emma thought. "Oh! What about that one little girl you sit by, Masie Flymont? She likes to read just like you do."
"Yeah but not the same books. Everyone was teasing me last week how I'm reading books that's assigned to students a year above me," Hermione said miserably.
"Face it Mum, I'm not meant to have friends. They all laugh at me because I like to read and get better marks. I just want you and Dad, that's all," Hermione said, looking at her hands.
Emma sighed. "How about I try and get Grandma and Grandpa down here? And Uncle Lee and Aunt Maggie hm?"
Hermione looked up with a smile. "Yeah, I'd like that."
"Good." Emma stood up and kissed Hermione's temple. "You get some sleep dear, tomorrow's Monday."
Hermione bade goodnight to her mother before setting her homework in her bag and getting under her covers.
Wednesday afternoon found Hermione sitting on the bench feet away from her classroom door. Her parents were inside talking with her teacher. She knew what it was about, the same conversation had been discussed with every teacher she had since she was five but it didn't make the waiting any less enjoyable. At least this time she could begin her math homework while she waited for them to finish.
Mrs. Sheepbay paced the floor of her classroom a couple times before she finally turned to Hermione's parents, a look of confusion on her face.
"You say this has happened before?" the teacher finally asked, pulling back a strand of golden hair.
"Yes," Daniel Granger said heavily.
"Every year," Emma chimed in.
Mrs. Sheepbay sighed but finally sat down. "But I don't understand. Perhaps it's just because I'm new here and this is my first time teaching at this school but surely I would have known about this? I mean, how often do you come across a child who is able to retrieve an object from someone without even walking to them?"
Emma and Daniel shared a look.
"So, the report is Hermione never touched the boy?" Daniel asked.
"Never. Thomas ran into the classroom and exclaimed how Hermione floated a book from him, right into her own hands! Across a distance of at least thirty feet!"
"Did Hermione tell you why she did this?" Emma tried.
"Yes, she told me he stole her book, but that doesn't make any of this any less insane." Mrs. Sheepbay shook her head. "I don't understand."
Daniel sighed. "You're not the first teacher to have said this. Like we told you, every teacher who ever taught our Hermione has made claims of her well, doing unusual things. Believe me, this isn't the craziest claim we've been told."
"But do you have any idea how this happened? I mean I've heard of very gifted and very skilled magicians, but unless your daughter has the same skills for a professional magician or- or mind-reader or something, I can't think of any logical explanation!" the teacher said, looking thoroughly upset.
Daniel and Emma both looked helpless as well as they held onto each other's hands.
"I suppose the only thing we can come up with is- Hermione is simply unusual. She just thinks and does things differently," Emma said with difficulty.
"Yes, but this different? Mr. and Mrs. Granger, I don't think you realize what your daughter has done"-
"We do," Daniel said firmly. "We already told you, Hermione has been this way from the very beginning. We don't know what it is but it hasn't changed."
Mrs. Sheepbay frowned. "Have you- considered therapy? Having her checked out perhaps?"
Daniel was glaring now. "We have had our daughter 'checked out' since she was three by various doctors. They have been unable to come to a conclusion as to why she is this way. I'm sorry but, this is how our daughter is, we don't know what is causing this but no one has found a reason to stop it yet. We try to just ignore it and move on."
Mrs. Sheepbay sighed. "But it is unusual…"
Hermione looked up from her math text when she heard her father's voice over her head.
"C'mon dear, let's go home," Daniel sighed.
Hermione got to her feet. "What did she say? Daddy, I promise you I didn't mean to but- but Thomas stole my book right out of my hand during lunch! I didn't know what to do! All of a sudden I looked at him and the book came out of his hands and went into mine!"
Daniel gave her a grim smile. "It's alright dear, we've heard it before, there's nothing we can do. Let's go home."
"I hope Mrs. Sheepbay isn't angry with me. I wanted to help her clean the classroom but she said it was best I didn't…" Hermione looked upset.
"She's just in shock like everyone who witnesses your- incidents," Daniel sighed.
"I'm sorry you had to leave work early for me since this thing happens all the time," Hermione told her father as they went into the car.
"Really Hermione dear, it's alright. I wasn't busy today anyway; Mr. Lawson canceled his appointment today."
Hermione smiled; happy her parents at least seemed to understand her.
Hermione awoke with a smile on her face Friday, September 19th. It was her eleventh birthday! The thought of not throwing a party like all the other kids her age seemed to have left her. She was too used to it to care at this point and knew there was nothing wrong with her. This was going to be her best birthday yet, her grandparents and favorite uncle were coming down to celebrate. Her father asked her if she would like to be pulled out of class early to celebrate but she quickly reminded him school was her favorite place to be despite having no one to talk to or play with.
Hermione was happily waiting on her same bench near the parking lot of the school that afternoon, waiting for her parents to pick her up. She was still happy and surprised they closed their practice early just for her, especially since they loved their job, her dad even more than her mother. They had only done something like that a few times in the past. Usually it was two busy dentists who wished they could take time off work for Hermione during the week but were a bit disorganized, thus creating extra chaos. Hermione didn't mind, they were always home for dinner and there for her on the weekend where they would spend time watching films and playing games. It really wasn't a bad life and she knew other kids had it much worse.
"Happy birthday darling!" her father Daniel beamed when she stepped into the car.
"Thanks Daddy," Hermione leaned forward for her dad's kiss.
"Happy birthday dear, how was your day?" Emma smiled.
"It was fine. The teacher, well, she had everyone sing happy birthday to me before lunch. It was embarrassing, there was only two other teachers who made everyone do that when it was someone's birthday. I could tell some, well, most of them didn't seem too happy," Hermione said honestly but forcing herself not to get upset over it.
"Well don't you worry, today is going to be great, magical I'd say," Daniel smiled.
Hermione nodded, a grin on her face too and the small family drove off home. Little did Daniel know just how magical it was going to be. As he pulled up into the driveway, he frowned at the sight of a curious-looking man sitting on the small bench on their front lawn. He was wearing a bright blue suit with a polka dot tie and had a long white beard and half-moon glasses.
"Wait a moment…" Daniel said cautiously to his wife and daughter and got out the car. He stood by the other side of his car to face the man. "Who are you?" he asked him.
The man spotted the other suddenly and went to his feet and strolled to him.
"Hold on a moment, I asked you a question," Daniel asked, glaring. He did not like this old man's unusual appearance and wanted to play it safe.
"Forgive me," the man said in a light voice. "I am Albus Dumbledore."
"Who?" Daniel had never heard of such a name.
Dumbledore gave a small smile. "Are you Mister Daniel Granger?"
"How do you know who I am?" Daniel asked quickly.
The other man- Dumbledore sighed. "Forgive me sir but I feel I have much to discuss with you and your wife concerning your daughter, Hermione."
Daniel stepped forward this time. "How do you know my family?"
"I think it is best to answer your questions inside."
"I'm not allowing some strange man I've never met inside my house! Who are you?"
"I cannot say it out here for your neighbors to here. It concerns your daughter's unusual abilities."
"Dad?" Hermione asked, sticking her head out the window.
Daniel glanced at his daughter and back at the man. He didn't know what to think. "How do you-?"
"Know? I have the same abilities as her, as do countless others. I think, we should move inside."
Daniel glared at the man. "You aren't going to try anything on us?"
"Certainly not," Dumbledore replied pleasantly.
Daniel did not stop glaring but gave a curt nod. "Fine." He beckoned Emma and Hermione that it was alright to leave the car and together, the four of them went into the house.
Daniel was still suspicious of the man when they got into the house, as was Emma, and watched him carefully as the family took a seat on the sofa while Dumbledore remained standing.
"Allow me to properly introduce myself," the bearded man began. "I am Albus Dumbledore, headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry."
All three Grangers' eyes were wide. Hermione was the first to speak.
"You- you're a- a wizard of some sort?"
"I am Hermione," Dumbledore nodded with a smile.
Daniel and Emma were a bit more shocked.
"What- what does that mean?" Emma finally had the courage to ask.
"It means I have come here today to tell you that Hermione here is a witch."
"Wait a moment," Daniel got to his feet. "What the heck do you mean by that? Witch? How can she be? How can anyone?"
"I am sure it is a big shock for Muggles such as yourselves," Dumbledore began.
"What did you call us?" Daniel asked, anger rising although it was evident he didn't know what the term meant.
"Muggles, people who cannot do magic."
The Grangers were silent again.
"But- but witches aren't real," Emma said with a nervous smile. "They're only in books and films. They have green skin and ride around on brooms."
Dumbledore chuckled. "Well, part of that is true. Witches and wizards ride on brooms but we do not have green skin."
Daniel shook his head, not knowing what to believe. He looked at his daughter who sat just as she always had, eyes wide with interest, body forward for more information.
"But Hermione- she's- she's just a normal girl. She looks and acts normal and everything…" he trailed.
"Ms. Granger," Dumbledore turned to Hermione. "Have you ever done anything- unusual? Anything neither you nor anyone else could explain?"
"Oh all the time," Hermione spoke up. "I've done so many things since I was a toddler. I set something on fire once without knowing how I did it, turned things different colours, pushed people over just by thinking it, and can float objects without touching them. In fact, I caught my teacher and a boy in my class by surprise this week by floating a book he had stolen out of his hands and into me," she said in a hurried voice.
"Well, that proves my point," Dumbledore smiled.
"Wait a moment," Daniel said in a cracked voice. "You mean to tell me- tell us, that our Hermione is- is a witch?"
"She is," the old man nodded.
"But- but I don't understand. How? Was she born one? Did she obtain it somehow? How does someone become one? Does it mean other members of our family are one?" Daniel asked, desperate for something that made sense.
"Witches and wizards are born with their abilities. It takes time for them to start showing their first signs of magical ability. Do you remember when Hermione showed hers?" Dumbledore asked.
Daniel and Emma nodded.
"Well, I think I remember back when she was three… my husband and I went to pick her up at her grandparents and Daniel's mother told us that Hermione had done something incredible. She told us how she was screaming that she couldn't have any biscuits before lunch and next thing she knew, she saw Hermione floating a biscuit for herself across the room! Saw it with her own eyes. Hermione was giggling she said. His mum was in real shock, 'such things don't happen' she told us," Emma said, looking at Daniel for support who merely nodded.
"Well that answers it then," Dumbledore said. "Although witches and wizards born to other witches and wizards usually show signs of magic before three. Although that is still a very early age for one born to Muggles."
"People who can't do magic?" Daniel echoed.
"What does that mean?" Emma asked.
"Oh it might not mean anything but from my many years at the school, some Muggle-born witches and wizards have slightly better magical abilities then many wizard-born ones. Of course, only if they showed the abilities early on like your daughter appears to have."
"Well Hermione is very smart, she's been in the top of all her classes since the beginning," Emma couldn't help but smile proudly at her daughter and stroke her bushy hair.
Dumbledore smiled. "Yes, well, they feel they have a lot to prove since they only found out about it."
"Wait- why are you telling us now? If Hermione was born a witch why are we only finding out today?" Daniel wondered.
"Every wizard gets accepted into Hogwarts on their eleventh birthday, Muggle-born or not. Which leads me to this…" Dumbledore reached into his coat and pulled out a letter which he handed over to Hermione. Hermione looked at everyone nervously before breaking the seal and looking inside.
"' Dear Miss Granger,'" Hermione began. "We are pleased to inform you that you have been selected to attend Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.'"
"So, it's, true then?" Daniel asked faintly, looking over the letter.
Dumbledore nodded. "I do take it that this is the most shocking birthday gift you have received Miss Granger."
Hermione nodded mutely. "Yes… I never thought I was anyone special. I just did odd things."
"Well soon you will be able to mix in with other children who do the exact same thing," Dumbledore smiled.
A tiny smile grew on Hermione's face. Did this mean she would finally be able to keep a friend? Surely for they would have nothing to make fun of for her…
"But I don't understand," Emma spoke. "How did we give birth to a witch? I mean, I'm pretty sure the rest of our families are Muggles as you call them."
Dumbledore rubbed his great beard. "That is a bit questionable and no one really has a definite answer. Our strongest case is simply that there must have been someone in your family, hundreds of years ago maybe who was a wizard but the genes kept missing the next of kin until, well, they found you."
Hermione got to her feet, excited. "So I'll be able to do magic then? What sort of things will I learn?"
Dumbledore chuckled. "Oh, many things. You will learn all sorts of charms and spells and jinxes, along with learning about potions and even learning how to disappear."
"Disappear?" Hermione asked, eyes wide.
"Watch…" Dumbledore took a step back, turned on the spot and suddenly a loud crack filled the air and he vanished. All three Grangers yelled in surprise.
"See?" Dumbledore said, twenty feet away and walked back.
"Wow!" Hermione gasped.
Dumbledore looked at a curious watch on his wrist then. "Dear me, I have been explaining many things now, I really do need to head back to Hogwarts."
"But- but there is still so many questions we have!" Emma cried, getting to her feet.
"There is a sheet explaining many of those questions you may have. Now, school starts September first as it says in the letter. Alas, that means term has already begun, given that it is the nineteenth. You will go to Hogwarts next term Miss Granger, near your twelfth birthday."
Hermione looked downcast. "I have to wait almost a full year to go?"
"I'm afraid so. In the meantime, you may purchase all of your school supplies listed in the letter. You can purchase them in the wizarding shopping area of Diagon Alley in London. All you have to do is locate The Leaky Cauldron in Charring Cross. Everyone else there will do the rest," Dumbledore said, getting ready to leave. "The Hogwarts Express is at platform 9 ¾ in King's Cross. Someone will stop by next year, just to make sure you understand everything. I know this can be very overwhelming to Muggles. This reminds me, it is best not to tell anyone else you may know about this. Strictly speaking, wizards are not supposed to show off their abilities to Muggles."
"But us…" Emma said stepping forward.
"You are her parents and that's alright, but no one else can know, not even other members of your family."
The three Grangers stood around each other as the old man was about to leave. Dumbledore looked down at Hermione.
"I will see you next year Hermione Granger," he smiled with a twinkle in his eye.
Hermione nodded excitedly. Dumbledore nodded to Daniel and Emma and turned on the spot again, leaving them behind in much much confusion.
"Wow…" was all Daniel could say after almost five minutes of silence.
"Yes," Emma said softly, looking ready to faint. She collapsed into the sofa again.
Hermione looked over her Hogwarts letter and back at her parents. "I guess this explains everything then." She sat next to her father.
"I guess so, it doesn't look like a gimmick," Daniel said taking the letter.
"I'm so excited! I'll be able to learn the things I was meant to learn. I'll be able to be around other kids who can do the same exact things. Maybe I'll even make- real friends…" Hermione trailed, looking hopeful.
Even in her shock Emma had to smile. "Yes, I think you will." She then got to her feet. "My, I really should phone everyone now, they're waiting with Aunt Maggie at her flat, they must be wondering when to come by…"
"You still want that birthday party don't you?" Daniel asked his daughter.
She returned his smile. "Of course I do Daddy. Nothing can ruin today at all."
Emma went into the kitchen to phone her sister. Daniel hugged his daughter. "My little Hermione… a witch. Who would have thought?"
"Are you upset?" Hermione asked.
"Upset? Well, I'm extremely shocked that's for sure but upset? Of course not. We finally know why you, well, act the way you do. All those wasted years and doctors appointments and seeking out all kinds of help… we now finally have a clear answer, and it's even better than I would have thought."
Daniel smiled. "I'm happy to know you aren't, well, weird. It is normal just, not our brand of normal, and that's good enough."
Hermione hugged her dad's neck. "Thanks Dad."
"C'mon, let's try and forget this for now, put your letter in your room so no one can see."
Hermione nodded and ran up the stairs, too excited to walk right and placed the letter under her pillow. A witch, a witch… she was a witch. She finally would have a place where she belonged. Bushy hair waving in the air, Hermione hurried out and went back down to her parents. Today was magical indeed.
Well I hope you liked my Hermione one-shot. It was great to dive a bit deeper into her character than I had before and write the things that may have happened when she turned eleven. I plan on writing a sort of 'sequel' to this fic sometime soon hopefully. Please tell me what you thought.
Love and magic: Rose September 21st, 2009