Author's note: I know it's unusual to start a series in the middle, but I thought it too easy to start from the beginning. I therefore asked a friend to pick a number between 1 and 7 and she came up with 2. I present for your enjoyment Hermione's perspective of Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets. You know who owns what. I love to hear commentary on such things as characterization and dialogue, since plot can't be changed.
The Grangers were nothing if not supportive of their only daughter's hobbies. When Hermione had developed an interest in Greek Mythology at the age of eight, they had presented her with the recently-released Usborne Illustrated Guide to Greek Myths & Legends. When she had shelved Usborne for C.S. Lewis, they had all read their way through the Chronicles of Narnia.
When their bright, inquisitive, fastidiously clever daughter turned out to be a witch, they were at a loss for an explanation. Most of her interests stemmed from sources close to home, such as the neighbor boy who taught her to play Titans and Olympians or a teacher pointing her in the direction of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe. A family holiday to Canterbury had inspired her to study pilgrimages for a good four months when she was ten.
It was true that Hermione had occasion to channel the extraordinary. Miriam had once cornered a shame-faced Hermione standing next to the remains of a bud vase that Mummy had kept intentionally on a high shelf. When questioned, Hermione had confessed that she had hoped to reach it when it seemed to fly off the shelf. The female Doctor Granger had put this down to juvenile hyperbole a day two years later. Hermione had been tasked to scrub the kitchen floor as one of her chores and her parents walked in to find their daughter up to her elbows in suds, scrubbing determinedly at a spot while a pair of scrub-brushes swirled independently a few feet away.
Hermione had had occasion to channel the extraordinary, but on the day in 1990 when a cheerful witch named Charity had turned up with an invitation to a place called Hogwarts, the Doctors Granger had been flabbergasted. Once Hermione had enthusiastically set her heart upon attending this unheard-of School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, they had determined to support this new venture with as much enthusiasm as they had her previous fascinations. That meant that David had presented Hermione with a stack of extra books that' Hermione had been eyeing on their inaugural visit to Flourish and Blotts. Miriam kept several boxes of owl treats on hand so she could reward the post owls for bringing Hermione's lengthy missives from school. And when Hermione had brought home top marks in subjects with names such as Transfiguration and Defense Against the Dark Arts, they couldn't have been prouder.
Exceptional work had always been rewarded in the Granger family, so after a few brainstorming sessions with Arthur Weasley, who owled on a fairly regular basis to check up on their 'fascinating Muggle family,' they decided on a way to keep their daughter connected to the wizarding world.
Owl on Demand was a marvelous service, Mr. Weasley assured them. Muggles couldn't use something he had called the Floo Network for their needs and wizards rarely installed telephone lines in their dwellings. The first letter from Ron had arrived within a few days of Hermione's return home and she had excitedly sent an elderly owl named Errol back with a thick scroll of parchment. When David had suggested that she send her dorm-mates a letter over the holidays, she had admitted that she didn't know their Muggle addresses. He had proudly handed her a request form for a post owl pickup and within a day, she had sent off a rented screech owl with an equally long letter to Harry and a hello for Parvati Patil. When she started receiving letters in return, all three Grangers had declared deemed the O.O.D to be a wise investment. Ron sent letters back about once a week, usually including a clipping his Mum thought she might like from the Daily Prophet or a handful of wizard sweets pilfered from his brothers' stocks.
The letters were a delightful diversion, even when they tempted Hermione away from the book on Charms that Professor Flitwick had mentioned or the essay that Professor Snape had set on the dangers of misusing moonstone. Hermione wrote back enthusiastically to Ron, who had rarely interacted with Muggles and had enjoyed Hermione's tales of re-learning the uses of electricity and the day that Mum taught her how to make her first pudding for Dad's birthday. She even sent a few to Parvati and Lavender, determined to foster a closer bond with her most outgoing dorm-mates before they were forced into close quarters once more in September.
The only person who did not respond with enthusiasm was Harry. Hermione had not received so much as an inkblot in response to her chatty letter. She supposed after a few days of contemplation that describing her summer adventures with her family might have touched a raw nerve. He was stuck with his cousin and aunt and uncle, miserable and—judging from his stories—trying not to mention a single happy thing about his wizarding education. Hermione had been perhaps a little insensitive in telling him that Dad had started reading Hogwarts: A History and discussing it with her or that Mum had invited Ron's Mum over for tea.
When a week went by and Harry failed to respond, she had taken a different tactic. Hermione had filled her much shorter letter with questions about his holidays and how he was getting on with Dudley this summer. She asked if he had plans for his birthday or if he preferred that they celebrate when they met up at DIagon Alley to buy school books and supplies some time in August. She had even included a few paragraphs on the history of the Pureblood Potter side of his family. If she had read the books right, he was distantly related to Ron and she thought he might find that worth a smile or at least a response.
Nothing came in return. When she sent her next Owl on Demand, she purchased an extra service to guarantee that she knew when it was delivered. A few hours after this week's rented barn owl had left her house, the parchment receipt had blossomed with an ink footprint of the owl, confirming delivery.
Rather than demand an explanation from Harry, Hermione turned her efforts to Ron next:
It's been weeks since we got home and I haven't been able to reach Harry. Have any of your owls gotten through? Has your Dad heard anything that might explain why he hasn't responded? Is there something you're not telling me?
I've done some reading on homing charms this week. Naturally, they are not to be used outside of school, but I thought that your father might be able to make sure that Harry hasn't run afoul of any trouble. Muggle missing persons report can be filed in the case that there is a possible danger to the person. Do you know if a similar rule applies for our kind? I'll be sending an owl order for some more books tomorrow—my pocket money can't all be spent on owl post—and I'll do some reading on my own.
In the meantime, I'm worried. It's not like Harry to go quiet on us. I do think the Dursleys would be the sort to forbid him from sending owl post, but this is the Harry who snuck a dragon out of school last year. He would find a way to answer us if he could.
Hope you are well. Any idea of when you'll be coming to London?
She expected Ron's answer to come quickly with information or reassurances, preferably both. Instead, it was three days before Errol brought a response.
You worry too much. No, I haven't heard from Harry, but Dad reckons we'd know if anything happened. I don't envy him staying with the Muggles all summer, but they're family. I think he's lying low and trying not to hex his cousin.
I've sent about twelve letters so far. Mum and Dad are all for him staying with us for the rest of the holidays, but he hasn't sent back a word. I'll keep an eye out, though, and Dad promised to do the same. Personally, I think he's keen for a chance to go visit Harry's Muggles. Give them a talking to and inspect their toaster while he's at it.
For all we know, Hedwig's halfway to your house with a nice, fat letter full of Dudley stories and whingeing about his aunt. And if he needs help, now he knows who to ask for it.
P.S. You haven't started on the reading for Transfiguration, have you? Got any ideas on what McGonagall was talking about with the deanimation charms? Couldn't let me have a look at your notes, could you?
Ron couldn't be too worried if he was asking to copy her work. Hermione tried to follow his lead. She wrote Harry another letter, this one talking about the summer reading for History of Magic, and sent it off. Ron's owl came back with more questions on McGonagall's homework, but Hedwig never turned up.
Meanwhile, Mum breached the subject of the family holiday. There wasn't time enough this year to go abroad, but last year, they'd managed an entire week in London so Hermione could get all her school things sorted. Mum and Dad had booked a hotel room on Shaftesbury Avenue, announced that the dental practice would be temporarily closed and started looking for shows they could catch when they weren't shopping in Diagon Alley.
Hermione waited every day for an owl from Harry or news from Ron, but by Harry's birthday, not a word had been heard from Harry. Instead, Errol came fluttering in through the kitchen window with Ron's shortest letter yet just after dinner.
No word from Harry, but the Ministry got after him for magic in front of Muggles. Things are definitely bad.
We're going to rescue him, even if we have to tie his uncle to a chair and stuff his cousin in the broom closet. Wish us luck!