Hey guys! It's been a while since, hasn't it? I've missed all of you too.

This is my entry for the Eggheads Competition, Round One down at HPFC. These are the prompts I used:

Action: Someone must faint

Emotion: Giddiness

Word: Lively

Setting: Diagon Alley

Object: Book

And it's nicely 1000 words. Exactly. It leans towards a character study piece, but ah well. Slackers can't be choosers.

Post-war, set in the Next-gen era.

Have fun reading!

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter.

When she'd been pregnant, Hermione had told everyone that she wanted the bookstore to be the first shop her children visited in Diagon Alley. No one argued, and no one questioned.

If someone had bothered to ask her why the bookstore had been the first place that she'd wanted her children to see in Diagon Alley, she would have had a very good answer for them.

However, she was Hermione Weasley –nee Granger –and people seemed to think that such a question was unnecessary. As such, her carefully crafted answer had gone to waste. It'd been over a decade since she'd come up with it, and now it was lost somewhere inside the deeper recesses of her consciousness, floating and drifting around, always there but never quite in her grasp anymore.

She supposed, as she walked down the cobbled street next to Ron, that it didn't really matter anymore. She'd come up with that answer when she was pregnant with Rose; both Rose and Hugo would be in Hogwarts again in just a month. Still, it was something that bugged her a lot recently, because she didn't normally forget something like this. Maybe she had the answer tucked in a vial somewhere, sitting on the shelf in the living room? Ron stopped to look at the display of broomsticks in a shop window, and though she slowed to a stop beside him, she barely noticed when he said he was ducking inside for "just a moment". She waved him on, but her attention was on the bookstore just a little way down.

Flourish and Blotts had barely changed in the past decade, something she'd always appreciated. Her feet seemed to move on their own accord, bringing her back to the bookstore where she first truly discovered magic. Ducking inside, she found herself surrounded by books and was acutely reminded of the giddiness she'd felt back when she was a student getting ready for the next school year. All these books, just waiting to be read. It was a giddiness she still felt whenever she stepped in. She was well over twenty now, but she'd barely even scratched the surface of what there was to be read here, and she'd been visiting this place at least once a week after the war.

Of course, Flourish and Blotts hadn't been up and running immediately after the war ended –no, the store had needed time to get back up on its feet again. It had taken a while, but Hermione had made sure she was one of the first customers after reparations were complete and the store was reopened.

Right now, the store was a lively, bustling mess. Completely natural, seeing as it was only one month to the start of the new school year. It made her miss being at Hogwarts herself.

There was a scream, a thud, and then shrieking –"What is that thing? Get it away from us right now!"

She looked over, and couldn't help but laugh. Maybe there were some things she didn't miss all that much.

She wasn't the only one laughing. The Monster Book of Monsters lay on the ground, snarling and snapping and anything it could, while a clearly terrorized, likely Muggle-Born family stood by the side, still flipping out. In fact, the younger child had actually fainted. Hermione shook her head –she supposed she shouldn't be laughing, but really, it was just so reminiscent of her own days in school –but she walked over to the book anyway, picking it up with a practiced ease, stroked its spine, and shut it softly while it purred. It was nothing she wasn't used to doing, seeing as she still had her old copy lying around at home. Then again, her copy was getting old, and didn't pose as much of a threat as a new one did.

She handed the book over to one of the staff members, and pointed her wand at the younger child, casting a quick Enervate as she did so. The child's parents looked at her gratefully as the boy woke up, and she simply smiled, telling them it was no trouble at all.

Hermione found she liked it that Muggle-born families didn't recognize her for the war hero she was. Especially when she was in the bookstore. It was great to be appreciated and all, but she liked being able to go about her business with as little interruption as possible.

"You've got to stroke the spine gently on that book," she told the older child. She figured the girl would be the one who actually needed the sleek, furry thing. "Can be a bit tricky, but you'll figure it all out in time."

The girl gave her a sheepish grin, and then suddenly her eyes widened. "Hey, aren't you –"

Hermione put a finger to her mouth and shushed her lightly, shaking her head. The girl nodded enthusiastically in response, her head bouncing up and down. Hermione turned, and was about to leave them when she noticed the boy picking up a small stack of textbooks, holding them as though they were sacred.

First Year textbooks.

Hermione turned back to the girl. "Is your brother starting Hogwarts this year?"

"Brother?" The girl looked confused for a moment, but then a smile lit up her face. "Oh, you mean Cory! He's my cousin, but yeah, he starts in September."

"Hey, Jessie!" Cory stumbled over. Hermione was surprised he didn't fall; the stack of books was taller than he was. "Look at all of this stuff! I mean, I can't believe it's all real!"

He was so excited, Hermione thought, just to get his textbooks. He was just like her, she realized. Giddy with excitement that came from finding magic for yourself.

She turned away from them then, and saw Ron standing at the window, a knowing smile on his face.

"Why are you always in the bookstore?" he asked, after she'd joined him outside.

She smiled, and gave him her answer.