Harry Potter fanfiction: a Place Called Home

Summary: All anyone ever wants out of life is love, a family and home. Sometimes these are right under your nose.

DISCLAIMER: This is AU from book 4, but some plot lines and references from the last three have been included, the credit for all of which go to JK Rowling.

No one is dead except Voldemort. Also, Hermione is younger not older than Harry; and the Horcrux hunt and final battle happened at end of 6th yr. I've tried to keep any references to pop culture in the right timeframe, but I've made a few exceptions. Well, one that I know of- because that's the way it turned out in my head and I'm not changing it.

AN. This is my first ever Harry Potter fanfic that I'm posting. Thank you so much to Wesleyangirl13 who thought this was good enough to post. It really means a lot.

Also, I want to point out from the start that this is a Harry/Hermione romance fic. If you don't like it, don't read it. Constructive criticism is ok, but no flames. Also, there will be no bashing of any characters in this fic (at least not consciously).

Chapter One

Harry grimaced, his eyes still shut as he felt light shine onto his face. Moving his head to the side so it was out of the light, he lay there for a moment before his eyes suddenly snapped open.

'Today's the day,' he thought to himself.

It was odd, but he couldn't quite decide how he felt about what was occurring that day. It was happiness, certainly, but it was also more than that. The closest he could remember to how he felt now was the morning after Hagrid had told him he was a wizard and would be leaving the Dursley's to go to Hogwarts.

So much had happened in the past year, it didn't really feel real yet. The biggest change, of course, was that Harry had fulfilled his destiny by defeating Lord Voldemort and the Second War was over. Finding the remaining Horcruxes had been... well, a challenge to say the least, but it was done and they had all survived. There had been casualties of course, as in any war, but those Harry considered his surrogate family were safe, which was a small consolation for the guilt he felt over the many that had died.

It was now the week before his seventeenth birthday and that day Harry was finally leaving the Dursley's, a pleasure Uncle Vernon was still in shock from. He and Aunt Petunia had been even more stunned when Harry revealed just where he would be living from now on.

Once Voldemort was defeated and his followers rounded up, the Ministry, supported by Harry and Dumbledore, had been forced to admit that Sirius had been wrongly accused and imprisoned and given him a very generous compensation, in addition to a pardon. Sirius had promptly used most of the gold to get rid of Number 12, Grimmauld Place and purchase a large, wide-spread home on the outskirts of London; a place that could be home to Sirius, Harry, and newlyweds Lupin and Tonks. Dumbledore wasn't too keen on Harry leaving the Dursley's until the following year, after all Voldemort may be gone, but there were still rogue Death Eaters in hiding who may want revenge on the Boy Who Lived. However, Sirius, Harry and Lupin had raised a very convincing argument that the Trace that had protected him from Voldemort wouldn't stop any Death Eaters, so he was probably best with people who could protect him from any attacks.

Dumbledore had relented, secretly pleased that Harry would at least have a place outside of Hogwarts he could call home; but requested that Harry wait until just before he came of age. Sirius agreed, as he, Lupin and Kreacher were planning all sorts of renovations so the home would be perfect for Harry's arrival. And today was the day.

Sirius would be arriving on Privet Drive around lunchtime, thrilled at the opportunity to finally meet Harry's aunt and uncle. Harry figured Dumbledore would be coming also, but he wasn't certain. The one regret Harry did feel about leaving Privet Drive was that he was finally developing some form of relationship with Dudley that consisted more of Harry being used as a punching bag.

"Turns out all he needed was a Dementor attack!" Harry muttered to himself, shaking his head. "I knew I should have done that years ago."

Now too excited to go back to sleep, although it was early still and the sun had barely risen, Harry sat up and grabbed his glasses from his bedside table. With fresh eyes, he gazed around the room that had been both his bedroom and his prison every summer for the past seven years.

Hedwig was in her cage on his desk, head under her wing and fast asleep; his school trunk stood open at the foot of the bed, seven years worth of Wizarding books, clothes and supplies tossed in; and scattered on the floor were two small boxes Aunt Petunia had given him a few days prior for any other belongings he had, which weren't many. Sirius and Lupin, (Remus, Harry mentally corrected himself) had already assured him furniture for his new room was organised, and he would be free to decorate however he wanted.

Harry couldn't wait to see his new home, and to be officially living with his new family. Although at first it had seemed slightly odd for Sirius to buy such a big house (and it was big, having three floors), he understood. After twelve years and now finally having his freedom, Sirius wanted his space and luxury and a home that he felt Harry deserved. Also, the size would give Lupin and Tonks their space, as they had generously been allocated the whole of the third floor.

Harry had wondered briefly why they were continuing to live with Sirius, but felt that his godfather and former (actually current again- he'd heard last week that Lupin had taken the DADA job once more) teacher were more than happy to have the company, both being shunned by the Wizarding community for so long. And Tonks? Well, she had suggested the idea, and Harry couldn't help but feel that living with her would be never boring.

He smiled to himself at this thought as he got up and dressed, half-heartedly throwing a few more items into a box. Around seven-thirty he heard movement outside in the hall. Harry's first instinct was it was Aunt Petunia, but he was surprised when a hesitant knock on the door revealed Dudley. Harry was speechless for a moment- he didn't think he'd ever seen his cousin up this early.

"Morning," he said as Dudley seemed oddly sheepish.

"Morning... so what time do you leave?" Dudley asked him and Harry shrugged.

"Around lunch-time, I reckon. My godfather's very excited about meeting your Mum and Dad," he grinned which Dudley returned.

"You'll be glad to leave then, I guess."

Harry paused for a moment, then nodded. "Yeah. Living with Sirius and Remus is going to be great."

Dudley frowned. "So, they're your parent's best friends, right? And when did they... get together?"

Harry immediately grimaced at that visual. "No! No, no, no. They're not... no. Actually, Remus just got married. Yeah, her name's Tonks."

"Tonks?" Dudley repeated and Harry grinned.

"If you call her Nymphadora she'll make you pay for it later. Tonks is her... well, I guess it's her maiden name now," he frowned, although he wasn't entirely sure if Tonks was keeping her own name.

Dudley paused then nodded. "Do you want to go get some breakfast?" he asked suddenly. "My shout."

Harry took a moment to be stunned, then made the executive decision to embrace the new Dudley while he was around.

"Sure. Should we tell your Mum and Dad?" he asked, grabbing shoes and a jacket.

Dudley snorted. "Yes, I'm sure they'd love the idea of taking you to breakfast to celebrate you're moving out. Have you not been living in the same house all these years, Potter?"

Harry grinned as they headed downstairs. "I don't know. Your Dad's pretty thrilled to have me gone, he might consider it."

For Dudley's seventeenth birthday, Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia had presented Dudley with a brand new car, but this was the first time Harry had been in it.

"Do you reckon you'll get a car?" Dudley asked Harry as they were on their way to MacDonald's for breakfast.

Harry shrugged. "I don't know. Maybe once I finish school. After next week I can get my Apparation licence, so I won't need a car. But I wouldn't mind having one... one day. I'm not going to totally reject every aspect of the Muggle- the normal world," Harry said, correcting his use of the slang word used for non-magic folk.

"I couldn't do it," Dudley declared, narrowly avoiding running a red light. "I'd miss all my shows."

Harry managed a grin, but reminded himself why he hadn't been in Dudley's car before now. Driving was not one of Dudley's skills.

Harry was fortunate that he wouldn't have to sacrifice all technology of the Muggle world. As their new home was in a Muggle residential area, Harry had convinced Sirius (with little persuading) that it would be useful to be able to use technology and even basic electricity in the home.

"Trust me," he'd assured his godfather. "It's weird if you move into a huge house, and don't even have a television."

Sirius had exchanged a look with Lupin, and they'd both grinned at Harry sadly.

"Just like your mother," Lupin said, smiling slightly and that had been the end of it.

Harry knew he could look forward to television, a telephone and maybe even a computer, that for the first time in his life, would be for his enjoyment and use whenever he wanted. Hermione was especially delighted about this, so she had other means to contact him; whereas Ron was intrigued and fascinated by the whole idea, but not as much as his father.

When Harry and Dudley returned from breakfast, Aunt Petunia met them in the living room.

"Where were you two?" she asked suspiciously, her eyes narrowed.

Harry suspected she too, was also not used to seeing her son up before nine, especially not in the company of Harry.

"I took Harry out for breakfast... given that he's leaving today and all," Dudley explained casually to his mother who was speechless as Harry decided to make a hasty exit and finish packing.

That was his genuine intention, but he got sidetracked shortly after entering his room by impulsively deciding to do a total cleanout of his trunk, and then came the inevitable discovery of items you'd forgotten you'd owned; such as the wooden flute that Hagrid had given him for his first Christmas at Hogwarts, which had played so pivotal a role in getting to the Philosopher's Stone.

And so Harry passed the morning in this way, until he happened to glance at the clock (mental note to self- pack clock), and noticed it was twenty-past eleven, and Sirius had said to expect them around eleven-thirty. The thing was, he'd never specified who 'them' was. Grimacing, Harry began to pack up his room in earnest. Starting with the clock.

Sirius stood outside number four, Privet Drive and looked up at the house in apprehension.

"It helps if you knock on the door," a voice suggested helpfully and Sirius looked next to him to see Hermione smiling slightly at him.

"Thanks, Hermione. I've always known you're the smart one," he said. "Maybe I'm just savouring the moment."

"Great. Savour inside," Lupin added.

Dumbledore tactfully intervened here, leading the foursome to the front door. "We may not be allowed inside," he chuckled, seeming quite amused by the idea of that.

It had been surprisingly easy to decide just who would collect Harry from his relatives home. Sirius and Lupin were a given, of course, both were dying to meet Harry's family they had heard so much about both from Harry and Lily before him. Dumbledore had requested to come, for what he said were "diplomatic reasons", which Sirius took as he didn't trust him and Remus to be pleasant to Petunia and Vernon Dursley... and he was probably right to do so. And then, when they met for dinner at the Burrow the night before, Ron and Hermione had begged to be allowed to come.

"For support," Hermione had beseeched.

Sirius had immediately agreed, although he'd seen Lupin shaking his head in dismay. Lupin had no objection to Ron and Hermione attending either, but it was no secret that Sirius was "a fan" of Hermione since she and Harry had helped Sirius and Buckbeak escape at only thirteen. It had been obvious then that Harry's best friend was kind, compassionate and amazingly bright. But in the brief moments he'd spent with her in the years following, she continued to amazed Sirius with her intelligence, and her mature, rational outlook. In a lot of ways, he'd mentioned to both Remus and Tonks, Hermione reminded him a lot of Lily and it was clear that she and Harry were great friends. They supported one another unconditionally, and shared the same values and Hermione officially had Sirius' seal of approval.

This meant that he couldn't help but think that Harry and Hermione would make a terrific couple. Tonks was more than happy to jump on Sirius' bandwagon for this theory, but Lupin merely rolled his eyes whenever it was mentioned.

Mrs. Weasley however, had forbidden Ron to attend the group that morning after seeing the state of his bedroom, so it was just Hermione with them now.

After Dumbledore knocked, there was a long pause before Petunia Dursley opened the door.

"Ah, Petunia!" Dumbledore greeted her warmly, as though they were old friends. "Albus Dumbledore. We've come to collect Harry."

Petunia seemed speechless for a moment and then nodded and hastily stepped back to let them in. Heaven forbid the neighbours see three people dressed in robes and a teenage girl in a sundress step into her house.


She called up the stairs loudly. She didn't call her nephew by his name very often, usually it was a simple "Boy, get down here!" It seemed odd for her to say it now, but it caught Harry's attention, as a sign that it was at last time to leave.

He readily abandoned his packing, and headed downstairs to greet his visitors. Sirius and Lupin he was expecting and he shot them a grin; Dumbledore, he wasn't surprised to see either, but he was surprised (happily so) to see Hermione amongst them.

"Hey, what are you doing here?" he asked, coming down the last few stairs.

Hermione smiled as she hugged him briefly. "Moral support, packing assistance, whatever."

Harry grinned. "Cool. I'm pretty much packed though."

Hermione eyed him for a moment and raised an eyebrow. "Packed properly, or thrown things in your trunk?"

She knew him well, and Harry grinned sheepishly even as he protested. "I'm going to be unpacking them in like twenty minutes anyway; does it really matter how they're packed?"

"Yes," she insisted. "You are such a boy."

Harry rolled his eyes even as he led her upstairs, to the dismay of his aunt, who was still awkwardly watching.

"You are such a girl," he retorted. "Where's Ron, by the way?"

"He wanted to come, but his Mum said he had to clean his room before he went anywhere."

Harry chuckled. "I've seen Ron's room. He may not make it to school if she sticks to that."

As the two friends disappeared from view, Dumbledore pleasantly turned back to Petunia. "I'm not quite sure if you've met Sirius Black and Remus Lupin. Gentlemen, Petunia Dursley."

"Actually, I think we met briefly at Lily and James' wedding," Lupin said casually and Petunia balked.

Sirius grinned inwardly. Harry could take his time.

The minute Hermione saw Harry's room, she immediately declared it a disaster zone and set about "fixing it", dumping her bag on the bed and unpacking what Harry had already packed.

"So, how are you?" she asked simply, stacking Harry's books into his trunk.

Harry thought about that for a moment. He could go with a "fine" or a "good", but Hermione always saw right through all that.

"Honestly... it's a bit surreal," he admitted.

She smiled sympathetically. "I'm not surprised."

Then she grinned. "Well, you now live approximately ten minutes from me, so you'd better invite me over lots."

Harry grinned too. "You're always welcome," he assured her. "You're lucky Sirius and Remus like you," he teased and she giggled.

"I'm just glad we've got a proper Defence teacher for our N.E.W.T year," she answered and Harry rolled her eyes.

"Of course you are," he teased her. "So, how's your summer been? How's your...everything?"

Hermione smiled at him, as Harry let a flicker of guilt cross his face as he examined his best friend. During the final battle, Hermione had been struck by a piece of falling rubble as Voldemort and the Death Eaters attempted to storm Hogwarts. Harry had witnessed her fall and had sworn his heart stopped beating for a moment, until Ron had found a pulse.

She had been unconscious for two days, but had made a full recovery, thanks to Madam Pomfrey and a few Healers from St. Mungo's who came to assist with the wounded.

"I'm perfectly fine," she assured him. "And it's just a taste of your own medicine," she informed him lightly. "For all the times you've put yourself in hospital over the past seven years."

"It hasn't been that many," Harry rolled his eyes and she snorted.

"Please, I'm surprised they haven't re-named the hospital wing after you," she teased and Harry groaned, thinking that was the last thing he needed.

"So, your summer?" he asked, tossing things into his trunk.

Hermione shrugged, beginning to fix what Harry had just added. "Ok, I guess."

Harry frowned, sensing something was wrong. "What happened?"

"Nothing," she assured him. "It's just... my parents are acting... weird. They won't tell me what's going on though, which is driving me mad! But it's really uncomfortable to be at home," she admitted.

"Good thing I only live ten minutes away now, isn't it?" Harry grinned and Hermione laughed.

She surprised Harry, abruptly turning to him and hugging him tightly.

"What's this for?" Harry asked in amusement, hugging her back.

"I'm just glad something good is happening to you for once," she answered, her voice muffled against his neck. "You really deserve it, Harry."

Harry smiled. "Thanks, 'Mione."

His nose was filled with the scent of vanilla from her hair and Harry was suddenly struck with how good it felt to be holding her. He was thankful when there was a sudden movement and they separated to see Dudley in the doorway.

"Hey, Dudley," he greeted his cousin. "Uh, Dudley, this is my best friend Hermione Granger. Hermione, this is my cousin Dudley."

"Hello," Hermione said to him, smiling politely. Harry took a moment to marvel that she could be polite to him after what Harry had told her about his cousin over the years, but then realised this was Hermione they were talking about.

"Hi," Dudley replied and Harry's eyes narrowed slightly as he saw his cousin eye Hermione appreciatively.

"What's up?" Harry asked loudly and Dudley nodded in the direction of the living room.

"I think Mum's about to have a stroke."

Harry was on the verge of saying that wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing, but took pity on his aunt.

"It's ok, I'm ready now. Here, 'Mione, can you take Hedwig?"

"Sure," she nodded, taking the cage in one hand and slinging her bag over her shoulder. "Hand me that little box, will you?"

Harry did so, and Dudley offered to take the other box, leaving Harry to carry his trunk down the stairs.

"How are we leaving, by the way?" Harry asked Hermione as they headed out of the room.

"Side-along Apparation," she replied casually. "I can't wait until I can take my test!"

"Next week for me," Harry couldn't help smirk and she made a face at him.

Sirius, Lupin and Dumbledore rose as Harry and Hermione came down the stairs.

"Ready, Harry?" Dumbledore asked and Harry nodded.

"All set."

Sirius took the box Hermione was carrying off her, and Lupin took the other from Dudley, before the group headed to the back garden, from which they would Apparate.

Petunia followed them, although Harry could tell she didn't really want to. He assumed she was just inspecting to make sure no neighbours had a hope of seeing five people disappear from her back garden.

"I'll tell Dad you said goodbye then, shall I?" Dudley grinned at Harry, who grinned back.

"Yes, I'm sure he's heartbroken he's going to miss the chance to say goodbye."

Dudley held out a pudgy hand, and Harry shook it.

"Don't be a stranger," Dudley muttered and Harry nodded in surprise.

"Yeah. So long, Big D."

Dudley smiled faintly and Harry turned to Aunt Petunia.

"See you," he said and she paused for a moment.

"Goodbye," she said finally, gazing at him oddly.

"Well, I think that went quite well," Dumbledore said cheerfully to Harry, as Dudley and Aunt Petunia returned inside.

"Yeah. Who knew Dudley had a personality?" Harry replied and Dumbledore's eyes twinkled.

"Unfortunately Harry, I can't accompany you to your new home. But I'm sure we'll see each other again before the summer is out."

"Sure," Harry replied, a little awkwardly, and unsure how to respond to that.

Then Lupin offered his arm to Hermione, and Harry gripped Sirius' forearm. Simultaneously, the five of them turned on the spot and promptly disappeared from Little Whinging.