DH Chapter 1

"Hermione! It's so good to have you home! We were so worried, we've been reading such dreadful things in the Prophet. Thank goodness you're safe!" Hermione's mother said embracing her as soon as she stepped off the train.

Even though Hermione was now a licensed apparator, she had wanted to ride home on the Hogwarts express one last time. Knowing full well that she might not ever go back and get to complete the education that she had worked so hard for. The train ride home had been a quiet one, for many reasons. For one, Harry and Ginny had just broken up, which meant a lot of extra tension in their car. Luna, of course, made the situation more awkward after announcing that some Verti Voti's must have gotten into Harry's head and that was why he had decided to break things off with Ginny. Hermione, Ron, Harry and Ginny knew the real reason of course. But it didn't make the situation any less awkward.

"What are Verti Voti's?" Ron said seemingly interested.

"They are creatures that float in and out of peoples brains." Luna said in her usual spacey voice.

"How do you know if you have one in your brain?" Ron said curiously.

"They make you do or say things that you don't want to do." The room was silent as they realized what she had been implying earlier. "I don't think that Harry wanted to break up with Ginny…. he seemed so happy with her." At this, Ginny leapt out of her seat mumbling something about the loo as she left the car.

"Oh dear, now I've made her upset. I better go check on her," Luna said leaving the car.

While the rest of the car had been silent, with the funeral still fresh in their minds, Hermione had been quiet for a very different reason. All she had been able to think about since that night, was Severus. Where was he? How could he possibly handle the burden of killing his long time mentor and friend? Even without real proof, she was positive about his innocence.

Hermione wiped away a stray tear that had started to roll silently down her cheek. Just then, she felt a gentle hand come up to rest on her shoulder. She turned to look at Ron, who was giving her a sympathetic look. Without any more invitation Hermione rested her head on his shoulder, as his arms wrapped around her in a comforting embrace.

The next thing she knew she was being gently shaken. "Hermione... Hermione wake up." Ron whispered. "We're at the station, its time to get off the train." Hermione, who hadn't even remembered falling asleep in the first place, quickly got her things together, said her goodbyes, and made her way off the train.

"So I'll see you in three weeks, yeah?" Ron asked her as they walked towards their parents.

"Mhmm, see you then," Hermione replied. They had decided that it was safer for Hermione to live at the Burrow this summer. She hadn't told anyone about her plans to put her parents into hiding, she would tell them after it was done, only then would she be able to relax.

When Hermione walked into her house, she took a moment to absorb as much as she could. She had forgotten how normal life could be, how normal her life had been. It was nice to be back. As per usual, her parents had closed their dental practice for a few days to catch up with her. It was almost like a mini vacation, except instead of staying at a hotel they stayed home and instead of sightseeing they went to the local shops in their village centre.

After dinner, Hermione's parents wanted to hear about what had really happened at Hogwarts, they knew from Hermione that they could only trust the Prophet to a certain degree. She then began regaling the entire story starting all the way back when they had followed Malfoy down Knockturn Alley.

Hermione decided to leave out what she had learned from Severus, she also decided that it was probably best not to tell them Severus' true allegiances either. She felt that it was a secret, one that only she should know. By the end of the story Hermione was exhausted and soon after, retired to her bedroom. Before going to bed she decided to put wards around the house not very strong ones, but it was all she knew. Knowing what laid ahead of her she wished she had taken the time to learn some stronger ones.

The next morning she woke up to the smell of sausages, scotch eggs and the omelets that only her mother knew how to make perfectly. She smiled at the renewed feeling of being home. Even though her home was nowhere near as safe as Hogwarts, being back in the muggle world gave her a sense of security that she hadn't felt in a long while.

When she entered the kitchen, she was greeted by her mother putting breakfast on the table. They really were amazing, not even twenty-four hours ago she had told them about the greatest wizard of their time being murdered by her DADA teacher, and here was her mother making breakfast as if nothing had changed.

"Morning lovely, how did you sleep?" Her mother said cheerily.

"Really well thanks. Mmmm it smells delicious in here!" she said sitting down at her designated seat at the table.

"I had to make your favourites! It's been so long since we last saw you." Her mother said joining Hermione at the table.

"Where's Dad?" Hermione inquired.

"About to take a shower I believe. We both thought you wouldn't be up for another half hour or so."

"No matter." Hermione said picking up a piece of toast. At seeing the speculative look her Mum was giving her she said, "What?"

"Something's different," her mother mused.

"I've probably just grown since you last saw me," Hermione said casually.

"No, that's not it. Though you are holding yourself differently, more confidently." Suddenly her mothers eyebrows rose as her face, and took on an expression of pure delight. "You've met a boy!" At seeing Hermione's reaction she said, "That's it isn't it. Who is he? Did you meet him at Hogwarts? What am I saying, of course you met him at Hogwarts, where else would you have met him." Mrs Granger laughed giddily.

"Mum, Mum calm down!" Hermione soothed, worrying that she might faint from lack of oxygen. There's no point in lying to her, she'll see through any lie I fabricate.

"I'm sorry, I just have always wanted to have this conversation with you," she said smiling at Hermione. It was the truth, her mother was one of those wonderful people that you could share anything with. And Hermione did share everything with her, but never had they really talked about boys before. Maybe she needed a mother-daughter talk more than she realized.

"Just so you know nothing is going to come of it. I don't think he could ever take me seriously enough to be in a relationship with me." Hermione said fiddling with her thumbs.

"Hold on let me make a cuppa." Mrs Granger said running over to the kettle, boiling the water.

Five minutes, and two cups of milky tea later she sat back down, taking a sip. "So how on earth could someone not take you seriously? You have to be one of the most serious people I know, of any age really. You're brilliant, beautiful, and a good person. He should be falling at your feet!"

"Thanks for the support." Hermione chuckled. "Let's just say I'm out of his league," she said avoiding her mother's eyes.

"No one is out of your league," her mother scoffed.

"I appreciate the sentiment but he is. He's truly brilliant, handsome, kind- when he wants to be, he has a wicked sense of humour, and when we're together I'm at peace with myself. It just feels so right."

"It sounds to me that he feels the same way about you too," her mother nodded wisely.

"Sometimes I think I delude myself into thinking he does. Like last week when he knew that the castle was under attack he told me to stay hidden and not to get involved. He said he would be worried about me, and wouldn't be able to concentrate if he thought I was out there." Hermione sighed, and continued, "And then he gave me this look..." Hermione trailed off now thinking about the kiss that had followed.

"Well we will have to invite him over for a weekend sometime soon! I'll be able to see right through him." It was probably true, her mother had a knack for seeing through people's masks and seeing the truth. Though if there was anyone who could stump her mother, it would be Severus.

"Yeah maybe," Hermione said with a false smile, knowing that it would never happen, at least not until the war was over.

"Good morning Hermione, I didn't know you were up." Mr Granger said coming into the kitchen sitting down across from his daughter.

"I got up just when you were getting in the shower."

"Well you might want to get dressed, the Huntley's will be here soon." Mr Granger said cheerily, taking a sip of his coffee.

"The Huntley's are coming!" Hermione exclaimed, looking over at her Mum in a panic. "Why didn't you tell me? I'm not nearly ready!"

"Your father's just teasing. They aren't due to arrive for another two hours. Charles rang this morning, and we invited them over for lunch," her mother clarified.

"When were you planning on telling me? I have to think of cover stories for the questions they'll ask me." Hermione said slightly perturbed.

"They only called this morning I had forgotten until your father mentioned it," Mrs Granger said slightly defensive.

The Huntley's had been long time family friends of the Granger's since before Hermione was even born. Mr Huntley, or Charles, as Hermione called him, was also a dentist. He and her father had been flatmates at Uni and had been best friends ever since. Mrs Huntley was a stay at home mother, but very involved in the village and was always in the middle of some very important project. Hermione had always liked both of them very much. Mr Huntley because he reminded her a lot of her father and they had very similar taste in books. So whenever they got together they usually ended up in a heated discussion about the latest article or book they had read. Mrs Huntley was also very nice, she and Hermione had very similar political views and would usually end up talking about the latest topic on BBC News.

There was only one thing that she didn't like about them really, their daughter Tess. She had been a pain in Hermione's side ever since she could talk, maybe even before, Hermione couldn't remember that far back. They had grown up together only being two months apart, and their mother's bonding over being pregnant and first time mum's together.

There wasn't a time that Hermione could remember that Tess hadn't tried to turn their lives into a competition. They had been in every class together since nursery school, that is up until Hermione was accepted into Hogwarts (aka an exclusive school for bright and talented individuals). Though Tess never would admit it, she had been quite jealous that Hermione had gotten into an exclusive private school in Scotland. One that had sought her out.

That soon changed however, after Tess had done some research and was unable to find anything on the school, she started to believe that maybe the school didn't really exist. The lie became harder every year that Hermione would come back and have no stories of academia to tell.

While Tess on the other hand was winning competitions, scholarships, was the top of her class, played a number of sports and had the most perfect boyfriend.

After going to the Yule Ball with Viktor Hermione had wanted so badly to tell Tess about how she had dated a famous athlete. But alas, she couldn't. And so for the past six years she had decidedly been "losing" this competition.

"Don't worry about them asking questions, they have learned not to over the years," her mother said, reassuringly. "I know its been two years since you've seen Tess, but really she has changed quite a lot dear. I think that Marc has had a huge impact on her, she is much more at peace now. Oh yes Marc, how could she forget Tess' perfect boyfriend that had just been accepted at Oxford.

Hermione snorted, "I don't think I can picture Tess at peace with herself."

"You just wait and see," her mother chimed.

"I hope you're right." Hermione said sighing as she went upstairs to get ready.

It was now almost noon and the Huntley's were due to arrive at any moment. Hermione had decided to wear a white sun dress, she hadn't worn a dress in a very long time and had been waiting for the right occasion to wear this one. Luckily she had also had enough time to use some of Sleekeazy's Hair Solution to help calm her hair down. She really was behaving like a child, but Tess certainly brought out the worst in her. Looking in the mirror one last time she checked herself over and made her way downstairs.

"Hermione!" Her mother called. "Could you set up the table out back?" We're going to have lunch outside today."

"Sure Mum," Hermione said walking into the kitchen.

"Oh don't you look nice!" Her mother cooed.

"Thanks. I just felt like wearing a sun dress today."

"If only your mystery man could see you now!" Mrs Granger exclaimed.

"Mum! Stop, Dad could hear you," Hermione shushed her.

"Oh sorry!" She whispered. "Not another word," she said miming locking her mouth and throwing away the key.

Hermione rolled her eyes, "You can be so embarrassing sometimes!" She rolled her eyes as she went outside with the table settings. Honestly, her Mum can keep a secret as well as Hagrid after a few bottles of mead! She was sure that her father already knew about her "mystery man" as her mother had called him. She was in the middle of setting the table when the sound of her mother screaming out a cheery "Helloooo!" interrupted her thoughts. It seemed the Huntley's had arrived at last, Hermione sighed internally. She decided to prolong the painful greeting as long as possible and finish setting the table.

"Hermione! Is that you?" said a familiar voice. Honestly who else would it be? Hermione quickly hid her scowl, putting on a smile that would even fool Severus, and spun around to see Tess Huntley walking towards her.

"Hello Tess!" Hermione beamed. "How are you?" she said, embracing the blonde girl. Stepping back Hermione took in her appearance, she looked beautiful, as always. Today Tess also seemed to be in the mood to wear a dress. It was the same length as Hermione's, right above the knee but Tess's dress was covered in a beautiful floral print. It was lovely.

"I'm just great! How about you? Have a nice time at school?" Tess said almost sympathetically.

"I had a great year. I started out the summer with a great internship in the chemistry field, helping in the research and development department." Hermione said a tad smug, expecting Tess to make a snide comment or try to one up her.

"That's brilliant Hermione! I had no idea you wanted to go into chemistry." Tess said, sounding truly impressed. Well that was unexpected. Maybe Mum was right, maybe she has really changed. Hermione thought to herself.

"I'm not sure what I want to do yet, it is a fascinating field though." Hermione replied.

"What were you helping research?" Tess asked.

"I'm not permitted to say." Hermione cringed at how terrible she sounded. This probably isn't helping legitimize anything either.

"So what other line of work are you looking into?" Tess said awkwardly changing the subject.

"Politics I think. There are a lot of things I'd like to change." Hermione commented vaguely.

"Oh! I'm planning on going into politics myself. I just got an internship for the summer assisting in the Deputy Prime Minister's office. Can you believe it? I will be working in the same building as Michael Heseltine! And another intern said that we'll get to meet the Minister at least three or four times throughout the program! I'm so excited!"

Hermione was impressed, that internship was surly highly competitive. "That will be fascinating, I'm sure! Uni's will love to see that." Hermione added.

"Yes, that's what I'm hoping!" Tess gushed.

"Hermione!" Mrs Huntley exclaimed, interrupting their conversation as she walked out into the garden.

"Hello Mrs Huntley. How are you?"

"Just lovely dear, How about you? Good year?"

"Very," Hermione smiled back. "Where is Mr Huntley? I haven't said hello yet."

"Is that little Hermione?" Came the familiar voice of Charles Huntley.

"Hello Charles, it's so good to see you!" Hermione said giving him a big hug.

"It's good to see you. Robert here was just telling me about your internship, sounds quite impressive!"


Half an hour later Hermione had been caught up on the past two years of Tess' life. And was now learning about the details of her internship. It was odd for Hermione to hear, it could so easily been her life if she hadn't been a witch. In fact she was quite positive that her life would have been very similar. "So you see, by the end of the summer I might be working with the Prime Minister himself, well he will be overseeing what I'll be working on any ways. If things go according to plan. If you want I can try and put in a good word for you. Wouldn't it be nice to work together? Although I don't really know if you would fit the qualifications, what with you going to such a... uh... different school." Tess said awkwardly.

"Thanks for the offer but I already have plans for the summer." Hermione answered.

"What plans? You didn't tell us about any plans." Mrs Granger said, surprised, looking a little put out.

"I hadn't had a chance to tell you. I will be going to stay at the Weasley's in a few weeks." Hermione clarified.

"But you only just came home! You see Ron everyday during the school year."

"We'll talk about it later Mum." Hermione said not wanting to make a scene.

"Who's Ron?" Tess asked, her interest now perking up.

"He's my friend from school." Hermione answered.

"How come we've never heard of this Ron fellow? What's he like?" Mrs Huntley asked.

"He's a prefect like Hermione," Mrs Granger said stepping in.

"So come on tell us Hermione, do you fancy him?" Tess implored.

In the middle of everyone giggling there was the sound of the doorbell ringing.

"I'll be right back!" chimed Mrs Granger, as she left to go answer the door.

"Oh Hermione don't frown so much, we're only teasing you!" Mrs Huntley said, trying to cheer her up.

"Ron is only my friend. It's not like that." Hermione clarified.

"Oh we know that." Mrs Huntley said good naturedly.

"Um Hermione, someone's here to see you." Mrs Granger said hesitantly. There, standing in the doorway next to her mother was Charlie Weasley.

"Charlie! What on earth are you doing here?" Hermione asked smiling as she ran to give him a hug.

"Hey Hermione. Good to see you. Sorry to interrupt your lunch." He said embracing her warmly.

"Is everything okay? Nobody's hurt?" she whispered.

"No, no nothing like that." Charlie reassured her. "Could I speak to you in private for a moment?" He said looking over her shoulder at the five pairs of curious eyes that were now on them.

"Sure," she whispered. "Mum. I'll be back in a sec," she said dragging Charlie back into the house. When they were in the living room, Charlie was about to open his mouth, when she warned, "Not here." She brought him up to her bedroom, closing the door, she put a silencing spell on the room just in case people came to investigate. "So? What has happened?" Hermione asked urgently, looking at him for information.

"I apologize I didn't mean to worry you. I just wanted to let you know that I have been assigned to watch your house, to keep you and your family safe. I've just put wards up that will alert me to people trying to break in, along with a few protective wards."

"That's not necessary, I'm sure I will be fine." Hermione said trying to sound convincing. She had been hoping for days now that a certain someone would break in. But she had had no such luck. And now with the advanced wards that Charlie had put up it was almost certain that he wouldn't try, in fear of being caught, or her rejecting him.

"Don't worry about it, it's already been sorted. Kingsley is watching over the Prime Minister, Dedalus is watching over Harry and I'm watching over you."

"So does that mean that you'll be hiding in the bushes all the time?" Hermione asked a little upset about being under constant observation.

"Oh no nothing like that, I won't be here most of the time. I've just put up wards to alert me if anything happens." Charlie said in way of explaining. "Considering you will only be here for a few weeks, when are you supposed to be arriving any ways?"

"I'm not sure exactly when I'll be arriving at the Burrow, but I'm planning for three weeks, that's what I told Ron." Hermione replied.

Charlie nodded in agreement. "That sounds good. And as for now the Death Eaters are too busy trying to take over the Ministry. If the Order thought you or your parents were in real danger they would have someone here round the clock, like they do with Harry."

"Thanks Charlie, for everything." Hermione sighed, she hadn't realized how worried she'd been about their safety, until he had reassured her.

"No problem. Hey sorry about Snape. Ron told me that you were friends with him or something, or at least that thought you were. Ginny has been worried about you too, maybe send her an owl when you get a chance?

"I'll do it as soon as everybody leaves." Hermione promised.

"Great, I know she'll be glad to hear from you. Well I better get going. Do you have any questions about the wards?" He asked as they walked out of her room.

"Yes actually, will I have any restrictions on my magic with the wards up?"

"No, not that I know of. The only thing that this particular ward does is stop people with Dark Marks from entering." She hoped Severus wouldn't get the wrong idea if he saw these wards around her house. Hopefully he would know it was out of her control and that she still trusted him. "Anymore questions?" Charlie asked.

"I think that's it for now. Thanks again Charlie." Hermione said smiling.

"No problem Hermione. I guess I should leave through the front door, to keep up appearances." Charlie said with a mischievous wink. "Hey weren't you impressed with my muggle skills. Dad taught me this morning how to you the bell!" Charlie grinned proudly.

"I couldn't be prouder!" Hermione giggled.

As they walked towards the front door Mrs Granger's voice called, "Oh you're not leaving are you Charlie?"

"I'm afraid I have to Mrs Granger, urgent business, I only came to talk to Hermione about a few things." Charlie replied cryptically.

"Well all right then. It was nice meeting you." Mrs Granger replied.

"The pleasure was all mine," he said giving her a winning smile. Looking at Hermione he said, "See you in a few weeks Hermione."

"Bye Charlie," Hermione said waving goodbye.

When the door closed Mrs Granger spun around to look at her daughter. "When are you planning to see Charlie again?" she said giving her a knowing look.

"I already told you, I'm planning to stay at the Weasley's in a few weeks. And stop giving me that look! It's not Charlie!" Hermione said frustrated.

"Why on earth is it not Charlie! He's gorgeous!" Tess said, walking in from the garden.

"Charlie lives in Romania most of the year, he's only come back into the country because his brother is getting married."

"Who's getting married?" Mrs Granger inquired.

"Bill, Ron's eldest brother. That's one of the reasons I'll be staying with the Weasley's. The wedding is going to be at their house and it will be easier staying there, what with all the extra security." Hermione said to her Mum, forgetting that Tess was listening.

"Why do they have security in the first place for a wedding?" Tess asked curiously.

Hermione paused, mentally berating herself for forgetting her audience. She struggled to think of a plausible reason for having security at a wedding. But nothing came.

Luckily her mother cut in and answered the question for her. "Mr Weasley works for the government and has invited some very important people to the wedding, I'd imagine. Isn't that right Hermione," she said giving Hermione an encouraging look.

"Oh! Do you know any of the people who've been invited?" Tess said looking eager.

"No, not really. I'm sure I'll find out when I arrive at their house. Mr Weasley doesn't really like to talk about his work, he much prefers talking about the latest car or motorcycle he is restoring." Hermione explained.

"Oh I see." Tess said a little crest fallen.

"So Tess, when will we get to see Marc again? Robert and I had such a lovely time meeting him over the Christmas holidays." Mrs Granger said changing the subject.

"Marc is in Spain at the moment. I can't wait for him to return in August, Mum said I could go visit him at the end of the month if I like." Tess said, taking the bait. Hermione sighed, relieved that her mother was able to think fast, unlike her apparently.

Six hours later, Hermione was sitting with her mum on the couch, just having said goodbye to the Huntley's, who had ended up staying for dinner as well. It wasn't out of the norm for the Huntley's to stay all day. Mrs Huntley loved to cook as did Hermione's mum, they usually ended up making a delicious feast out of random items found in the cupboard. "I hate to admit it Mum but you were right, Tess has changed. She is still the same Tess, but it seems she truly is happy now."

"See, I told you," Mrs Granger said, squeezing her hand.

"I think I'm going to go to bed and just read for awhile, I'm completely knackered," Hermione said through a yawn.

"All right dear, see you in the morning," her mother said, giving her a kiss.

"Night Dad," Hermione said giving her father a kiss on the cheek as she walked by.

"Night Hermione," he said looking up from his book, as she walked up the stairs.

"Don't fall asleep too early Hermione, you don't want to throw off your body clock," her mother called. "It's only just after seven."

"Yes Mum!" Hermione called before closing her bedroom door. As she turned to face her room she gasped, suddenly realizing that she wouldn't be going to bed for quite some time. For there was someone in her room.

A/N: So? Did you like it? I worked really hard on this one, there are many many versions of this one. I hope I didnt make Hermione out to be too childish or anything.

Also thank you everyone sooooo much for all the reviews they really meant a lot!

Please review! They make my day, and encourage me to post faster!