A.N. - This is in response to a little plot bunny that hopped along my path and allowed me to adopt it! Thank you to CruelCrush on Deviant Art for letting me nurture it! Here's chapter one!
Chapter 1 - Library
Hermione was exhausted as she placed her bags on the worn, white comforter that covered her childhood bed. She was home from Hogwarts. For good. And she found that she was looking forward to not having to do any homework for the rest of her now adult life, though neither Ron nor Harry would ever believe it of her.
She glanced around her room, and then looked outside. It was a nice day, and both of her parents were at their dentistry practice…
Making up her mind, she slipped her wand into her boot and headed into town, which was, literally, right down the road.
Her parents didn't work in town, as it was a university town, so instead they worked at the next one over, allowing her to look forward to relaxing with a long walk and seeing a few familiar faces.
As she passed by Didi's, the local bakery, one of the very first shops in town, a lady out front called out, "Hermione! You're 'ome for the 'olidays, then?"
Hermione shook her head.
"No, home for good. Just graduated."
At hearing this, the older woman smiled. Deidre Stuart was an old friend of the family and had watched Hermione grow up throughout the years. She, like many of the other people in town, thought that Hermione had been going to an overseas prep school.
Deidre gave her a broad smile.
"Great to 'ave you back. You'll stop in for a cuppa sometime soon, wontcha?"
Hermione nodded and continued down the street towards, predictably, the University library.
Even though she was looking forward to not having any work to do, she had an extensive reading list and was looking forward to catching up on some simple pleasure reading.
She stepped into the old, stone building and slipped around the corner, not wanting to talk to the young man at the desk, who knew her from when she had been in primary school, and she had no desire to be stuck in a conversation of catch-up with him. Daniel was nice enough, though he'd been a year ahead of her, but he tended to chatter quite a bit.
Hermione made her way upstairs and to the back bookshelf, in the historical fiction section, and pulled out one of her favorites. 1776.
Even though it was about the American Revolution, she found it utterly fascinating and loved reading it. It was filled with the possible answer to one of the huge what if's of history.
She settled herself into a chair that she was intimately familiar with and lost herself in her reading.
After some undetermined amount of time, she became vaguely aware of the fact that there was some sort of commotion occurring only a few rows over. She knew that there was a children's section over there and couldn't help but feel a bit annoyed at the fact that someone couldn't even manage to teach their child to be quiet in a library.
It quieted for a moment, but then it picked back up again.
She tried to ignore it at first, and was able to for a little while, until she heard a sudden crash, causing her to start.
This time she swiveled her head to see if she could see anything between the bookshelves next to her, but only saw vague, short shadows.
She let herself get comfortable in her seat once more, until she heard yet another commotion.
Huffing to herself in what she felt to be righteous indignation, she snapped book in her hands shut, stood, and then, planning ahead, swiped another favorite book from the shelf and then swept back down the stairs, deciding that it was time to check out.
Honestly, the nerve of some people!
As Daniel checked out her books, she noticed his eyes lingered a bit longer on her than was necessary, and she hugged her arms around her stomach, feeling self-conscious.
"See you again soon, Hermione?" he asked, his eyes hopeful, and she simply gave him a curt nod and disappeared through the front door, silently wondering to herself why she'd even left the house that morning.
She stopped on the sidewalk outside the building and took a look around, unsure of what to do.
She wanted to go home, but at the same time hated to cut her visit to town so short. She honestly really did love the town, and she thought back on Deidre's offer earlier that morning. Perhaps she would stop by for some tea.
She started to walk down the sidewalk, but then something caught her attention.
Out of the corner of her eye, she saw movement in the bushes along the outer edge of the low stone wall that surrounded the library.
No it couldn't be. It had seemed like a house elf, but it was almost reminiscent of the gnomes from the Weasley's garden…but it wasn't either. Curious, she began to walk along the low edge of the wall, and then noticed more movement in the bushes in front of her.
The wall disappeared into a hedge, and a copse of trees just beyond the hedge cast shadows over part of the grass, where she heard a voice.
"Stop it! I'm not going back! Leave me alone, already!"
There was a shuffle of movement, and then a strange sound, like whispered giggling, but it clearly wasn't human, of that she was sure. Again, Hermione heard the girl's voice, but now it sounded strained and almost scared.
"Please! Just leave me alone!"
Suddenly, there was a flourish of movement near Hermione's feet and acting quickly she pulled her wand from her boot, hesitant to use magic, but ready to use it should the circumstance arise.
She then felt faint scratching at her ankles, accompanied with the whispered giggles once more, and she reacted instinctively.
"Protego," she whispered, making sure that they couldn't touch her again…whatever they were.
Seeing as nothing else bumped into her, it seemed that it had worked. She was officially out of school, so she was allowed to use magic, but it was the first time that she'd used it since she'd been officially allowed to, and it felt…strange.
She took a few steps closer to where she'd heard the young woman's voice, and a shaft of light broke through the overhanging branches of the hawthorn tree and Hermione was able to make out a young woman about her age with long dark hair, wearing jeans and a dark blue shirt. Several of the small…creatures?...surrounded her and were randomly tugging at her trousers and attempting to jump up and grab at her shirt as well.
"Get off me!" she yelled, swiping at the air around her, and this spurred Hermione into action.
Quickly, she brandished her wand once more and yelled, "Petrificus totalus!"
They all fell to the ground, frozen in their positions of their small legs drawn into their bodies and their small arms stretched out.
The girl looked at Hermione in shock, obviously unsure if she was her rescuer or yet another attacker. They locked eyes, the two young women seeming to size each other up. And then, in perfect unison, they said,
"Who are you?"