Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters from Harry Potter. And I disclaim anything else that can be used against me in a lawsuit! Ok that should about cover everything…

Forewords: I apologize for any inconsistencies in the fanfic. Enjoy it anyway!

Hermione

I looked around the train station. Ron and Harry have not arrived. I should have known that they would be late. It's like an in-born mechanism in them that prevents them from ever being remotely punctual.

Platform ¾ was already starting to teem with people. I could see the new students, their faces all lit up like a bright candle, brimming with joy and excitement.

Then there were the older students, all chatting happily with their schoolmates, their friends, … their family.

And I was just standing there … alone – all alone with my books and a cage for the sick Crookshanks.

For a moment, loneliness did well up in me. That strange feeling that had engulfed me many times before during the summer. I thought I had changed. Maybe not enough.

"Hermione?" I recognized Harry's voice immediately.

I also recognized the surprise and shock in the voice. Not that I blamed them.

"You… look different." Ron said, eyes opened wide as I turned around.

That was an understatement, I smiled. "I wanted something new."

"You cut your hair and…" Harry said, staring unbelievably at my ear lobes.

"I only pierced three at my right lobe, you should see my left lobe." I smiled as I lifted up the hair that covered my left ear. There was four piercings.

Ron suddenly wrapped his hand around my neck. "I demand you get out of Hermione's body now and give us back the real Hermione!"

"Ron! It is me!" I said laughing as I pushed Ron away. "I can honestly say that no alien life form has abducted or possessed my body."

"Didn't the piercings hurt?" Harry asked concernedly.

"Not really. It was something I really wanted to do." I said, then smiled. "Though my mum's hand did hurt cause I squeezed it too hard."

    Mrs Weasley, Fred, George and Ginny suddenly appeared. Their cheeks were as flushed as their red hair, and they were panting.

"I'm so sorry we are late." Mrs Weasley said as she glared at Fred and George. "Fred and George thought it was funny to give the taxi driver enchanted Monopoly money. We almost ended up at the Muggle Police post!"

Ginny smiled. "I wished I had taken Ron and Harry's taxi instead! And… AHHHH!"

   I assumed the AHHH was directed at me.

    Everybody stared at me for a moment. I was expecting it, but still I didn't like it very much. It was not like I had grown another head, ear, nose or anything like that.

I just cut my hair, and ok added some holes into my ear. It was nothing to be shocked about right? But NO… this was Hermione here. You know, the girl whose head was always in a book?

From the way, everybody stared at my hair, it seemed that cutting my hair was illegal. Ok, so maybe I did a drastic cut.

My hair used to be around my waist, but I had cut it in jagged edges to chin length. I thought it was kind of nice.

It showed the new me. The new me whose looks not only changed, but so did my soul. Ok, did I just say that?

"Ok exhibit Hermione getting kind of annoyed here." I said as I waved my hand in front of everybody's face.

"Looking hot, Hermione!" the twins said, winking.

Ginny rolled her eyes at the twins and smiled at me. "Ignore them. I think you look nice."

Nice or hot wasn't actually the adjectives I was looking for, but I was glad at least I had "passed" the test.

Because I knew the other changes in me they will find out later… might be harder to accept.

The Hogwarts train arrived soon after.

Ginny went to sit with her friends and Fred and George went to find Lee.

Harry, Ron and I found an empty chamber and settled down in it.

I looked out the window and admired the blue sky. I admired it vastness… the sky never ended. It was so wide. And to me it represented a type of freedom I desired.

"Earth to Hermione." Ron said as he waved his hands in my face.

I turned back to Ron and Harry. I knew they were worried a little. And dying to know what happened to me during the summer.

But they knew too that I would tell them when I wanted to. And now was not the time.

"Yes. Hermione at your service, Master Weasley." I said mock serious.

Ron waved his scroll. "You know the long stupidly hard assignment Snape gave? I was wondering if you could help me with some things… like the bloat potion with the troll warts and…"

"I didn't do it."

Ron and Harry looked at me in silence. "I didn't do it." I said, shrugging. "I'm normal too you know. I breathe. I eat. I don't only read and write assignments all the time."

Ron and Harry continued staring at me. They couldn't believe it.

It was as if I had announced I was married and had three children.

Ok, so I didn't do all my holiday homework. Yes, I was going to get into trouble. But seriously, was it SUCH a big deal?

  Apparently to Ron and Harry, it was.

"Ok Draco, show your true self! We know you are under the disguise of the Polyjuice Potion!" Ron said. "Where did you hide Hermione?"

"Ron!" I said rolling my eyes.

"Did you get like special permission to not do any holiday assignments?" Harry said hopefully. "Because you are already a super genius and probably know all these stuff by heart now?"

"Good one, Harry. But no." I said.

Ron and Harry looked at each other. Then Harry looked at me. "Is there something you want to tell us, Hermione?"

"Yes." I said very seriously.

"I'm going to sleep now wake me up when we reach Hogwarts."

I pretended to be asleep throughout the journey.

It was so much easier that way.

I just couldn't bring myself to tell Ron and Harry…

What had happened during the summer.

It was still too painful.

Too real.

"Hermione." I felt Harry shake me slightly.

I pretended to open my eyes and look blearily. "Huh?"

"We have reached Hogwarts." Harry said gently.

Ron helped me take my books and EVEN took Crookshanks's cage for me!

"I'm not a mental patient you know guys." I said as I took my things from Ron. "Not yet anyway."

As we got off the train, the prefects quickly shuffled us into this huge, and I do mean really huge, horse carriages.

And just my luck, Draco and his sub-zero (the quantity of their brain) gang went into the same carriage.

Harry, Ron and I of course ignored them and focused on admiring the scenery, which we have seen of course just about a hundred times already.

"Oh Granger." Draco's syrupy sweet voice said as the carriage reached Hogwarts and we were all getting off the carriage.

"Ignore him." I said to Ron and Harry, whose fists were tightening.

"I must applaud you." Draco said smiling as he got off the carriage. "You have done the impossible, don't you agree guys?" He turned to Crabbe and Noyle.

"Ignore him." I said again, this time to myself. Draco would regret this if he makes me angry this time…

Because I'm not longer the Hermione Granger, everybody used to know…

"You have managed to make yourself look uglier than possible." Draco said to the laughter of the sub-zero gang. "Is that a special mudblood ability?"

I placed my hands on Harry and Ron's shoulder. "I can handle this."

I turned to Draco, who looked sneeringly back at me. "No. Not that I know of. But I must applaud you too Draco. You have done indeed an ENORMOUS achievement."

"I have?" Draco said surprised.

"Yes. You have managed to cultivate a pimple large enough to hide your ugly nose." I said smiling triumphantly. "Congratulations!"

With that, I waved my wand a little and whispered "Magnifecto!" under my breath.

A most gorgeous juicy pimple started to grow on Draco's nose!

   I smiled to myself, and Harry and Ron smiled at me too. I felt better, because looking in their eyes, I could see that no matter what had happened to me, they still cared for me.

  And probably, always will.

And just as I was about to walk away thinking that "hey, maybe the year wouldn't be so bad after all…"

"Mr Malfoy and Ms Granger, report to my office… NOW." Professor McGonagall said in a most austere tone.

  Sigh. Optimism, my middle name.