MissMatched

Kneazle

Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. All characters, places, etc. belong to JK Rowling, Scholastics, etc. "Longview" is owned by Green Day, from the CD "Dookie", and "You Gotta Be" is by Des'Ree. Savage Garden, BB Mak, and other song titles by these groups belong to their record company, etc.

Rating: PG-13

Summary: All Hermione wanted to be was popular, well liked, and considered "cool" – anything but the bookworm that she was labeled. Now, in her final year at Hogwarts, can she achieve that or is everything just mismatched?

Author's Notes: Please note that this story is FIRST PERSON, a.k.a., all in HERMIONE'S POV. Thanks for understanding! ~ Kneazle

CHAPTER FIVE: Still on Your Side

                After that night, I began to look at things differently; from looking at myself harder in the mirror, to when people spoke to me when we had a conversation. Something had changed in me, and I didn't know how or when… I just know something did, and I wasn't the same girl – no, woman – I had been when I started Hogwarts, or even started my final year here.

                April melted away into May, where storm showers showed up, with the sun breaking through the clouds, like a sign or something. Warm weather was on its way, and so were NEWTs and graduation.

                I may have been scared, but I never let it show, as Head Girl. I was far too busy with many other things. I barely saw Ginny nowadays, and though Ron was in a few of my classes, I never spared him a second glance. He would sit next to Harry and an empty seat, the seat where I used to sit.

                I didn't need to be bothered with name calling anymore. I was happy with myself, and I had enough self-confidence to get around with my head high. Nothing to could drag me down now – I wouldn't let anyone do it.

                However, I was still unsure about myself in certain aspects – like my looks for one, but that's nothing a couple charms and a talk with Padma, her twin Parvati and Lavender Brown couldn't fix.

                So, with my mind running amuck with Head Girl duties I needed to do, talking to Padma later, going to Hogsmeade with Harry tomorrow, and all, I had failed to notice Ginny leaning against the gray Hogwarts wall in the corridor off of the Great Hall.

                "He fancies you."

                Startled, I turned to face the youngest Weasley, who was looking at me under long bangs that covered her eyes. I raised an eyebrow.

                "Who, Ginny?" I asked. I had avoided talking to her and Ron for the past month, but I can tell that something wasn't right when they start talking to me. After all, it was a well-known fact now that they hated me as much as Draco probably hated Harry. Though, I think they're just doing it now for publicity. Or something like that.

                "You sure are dumb if you don't know," she laughed bitterly.

                I nodded. "Right, that's what they all say. If that's the case though, at least there is someone to fancy me… unlike yourself?" I raised another eyebrow and nodded again in her direction. "Weasley," I said as a closure.

                "Wait!" she called after me, running to catch up at my rapid pace. Some Hufflepuffs whispered as I passed them, and a few Ravenclaws waved; I wove back.

                I ignored her, continuing to walk.

                "Mudblood, stop walking this instant!" she tried, knowing she would get a rise out of me. I did stop, but glanced over my shoulder at her.

                "Don't you ever get tired of it? Of knowing you were wrong?" I asked, exasperated. The redhead bit her lip, before jutting her chin out.

                "If you don't know, I don't care. I don't know why I even tried to talk to you," she finally said, sneering the last part.

                "Neither do I," I replied before turning on my heel and leaving her standing alone in the middle of the Front Hall.

                On my last day of classes (when we were given a free period), I found myself sitting with my chin in my hands, staring out of the classroom window.

                People in my transfiguration Ravenclaw-Hufflepuff were running rampant, asking Professor Flitwick for some last minute exam questions, or just goofing off, gossiping with their friends. I sat next to Padma, with Hannah Abbott and Lisa Turpin near the back of the classroom. They were talking about what they were planning on doing this summer, and what they were going to do once they were out of Hogwarts.

                "… I'm thinking of going to Salem Academy," said Hannah, boating proudly. "I already got accepted – I have my letter here too… I wanted to ask Professor Dumbledore if he thinks its best for me."

                "I'm sure it is," murmured I, softly. My brain was a million miles away, but I had always some conscious part of myself in the conversation. I had perfected this many, many years ago but hardly ever had the chance to use it.

                "I'm traveling to Saudi Arabia with Parvati this summer, before going to Bangkok, to end the trip. After that, I'm thinking of becoming a cosmetic personnel at Gladrag's giant superstore in London," said Parvati wistfully.

                Lisa added, "I'm going to Stockholm to learn Muggle journalism, since I'm a half-ling. As much as I love the wizardring world, I don't think I could continue living in it."

                I barely heard a word of what the three of them had said. I was more concerned about myself. What was I going to do, in my future? I was brilliant at everything, and had a chance to do anything I wanted. Professor, journalist, author, work at the ministry, or… or do what I've always wanted. My dream… a simple dream.

                "Hermione?"

                I could go into the dream field of what I wanted… and then things would look up. After all, I had friends, and enough self-confidence to last me enough for the rest of my days on the world. I knew that Harry wanted to become an Auror, he still had to fight Voldemort in the coming war, but we couldn't think about that right now. We had to think about here and now, and not the future. Yes, it could be grim, but things will still turn out fine if we let them.

                Draco, I found out later, wanted to actually go into animal taming, working in the wild and enjoying controlling animals. I think Harry mentioned that Ron's brother, Charlie was a dragon tamer in the wilds of Romania. Draco paled at that, and said that perhaps the most dangerous creature he'd end up working with was an upset wizard or witch in the Ministry of Magic.

                Those two had become my two closest friends. I treasured every second spent with them, and took everything they said to me to heart. I loved them both, and cared for them both the way I had never cared for anyone else before. Harry had my trust and when I thought he betrayed it he was there… and that made me admire him. Draco was there and understood me when no one else was, and kept me sane in my darkest hours. They were still on my side, and would never leave me. I knew that from the moment that night back in January happened.

                They would be there for me, always.

                "Hermione!"

                "What?" I snapped to attention, aware Padma was laughing and calling my name. I glanced up at her, confused.

                "You were in your own little world, Mione. Class is over. Let's get back to the common room. It's time to study," she said, smiling softly. She pulled her bag over her shoulder and glanced back at me. "Coming?" she asked, the invitation clear and open.

                I stood, nodding. "Always."

                I left the common room with my head swimming in waves of knowledge, on the morning of one of my last exams. It was advanced charms, a class that I shared with a handful of Ravenclaws, Gryffindors and Slytherins. Draco, Harry and a few other Slytherin and Gryffindors I spoke to frequently were in that class.

                As I stepped into the charms classroom, my hands trembling slightly, I realized that after this, I would no longer be learning or writing another exam for Hogwarts. My last exam, my last test, my last time in this classroom… a bunch of "lasts" flashed before my eyes and I felt the first waves of panic reach the pit of my stomach.

                I'm not ready to leave just yet! Something screamed in my head. I must have panicked more than I thought, because I hadn't realized I had frozen up.

                "All right there, Hermione?" a male voice asked that I knew very well. I turned my head grindingly towards Harry, offering him a quivering smile.

                "Not really," I said, giving a shaky laugh. "This is my last exam… and… well, I'm scared."

                Harry gave me a warm smile, placing a hand on my shoulder. Warmth radiated from it, and his presence calmed me down.

                "So I am, but I think right now, I'm more concerned with passing this exam and what's on tonight's menu for dinner than what is going to happen in a week when school is over," he laughed lightly. "I know you'll do fine, you're the smartest witch in our year. Whatever happens, if I don't get a chance to say this later – it was an honor knowing you and being your friend. I would never regret it, nor forget it."

                I smiled graciously and felt the panic leaving my body. "Thanks Harry." I gave him a quick hug, but he held on longer than he could have.

                "Aw, what, don't I get a hug too?" came Draco's voice; he had arrived to the classroom, a few minutes before our exam was to start.

                I laughed, pulled away from Harry and hugged Draco too, wishing him good luck.

                "A Malfoy doesn't need luck, we're born with it," he replied smugly, puffing his chest out a bit. Both Harry and I laughed along with Draco, before taking our assigned seats.

                Professor Flitwick handed out the tests on parchment face down, and gave us anti-cheating quills to write with.

                I gripped the quill tightly with my right hand, flashing Harry and Draco a shaky smile; both offered smiles and Harry sent me a thumbs-up. I looked up at Flitwick, watching him watch the clock that was above the door.

                "You may begin your exam… now," he said, looking down at us from his pile of books on his chair.

                I gulped inaudibly, flipped my exam over, and stared at the first question.

                In the magical world, the Apollionous charm is used for what purpose? Explain why.

                I felt myself relaxing; I knew this. As I wrote down my answer and moved to the next question, I was at ease, and didn't think about what the next week was going to bring. Like Harry was told by Hagrid in his fourth year, what will come will come, and we'll just have to meet it when it does.

                Two hours and a half later, I exited the charms classroom, stretching and talking about the exam with my two friends on either side of me.

                "Ms. Granger? A word please," came a voice behind me. Breaking out into a cold sweat, I saw Professor Dumbledore standing behind us. He nodded politely at Draco and Harry, before motioning for myself to follow him. Saying I would see them later, I followed Professor Dumbledore into his office, sitting down in one of his leather chairs.

                "Sir?" I asked, frowning slightly. I hadn't done anything wrong, had I? I hadn't failed anything, right?

                "Ms. Granger, do not worry yourself. Your scholarly marks are just fine. I actually came to you to wonder if you'd accept the role of being this year's valedictorian," offered Dumbledore, smiling, with his blue eyes twinkling.

                "S-Sir," I stuttered, staring at him. "But… why me?" I finally sighed out. Why indeed, I wondered. All I had were marks, and that's not the valedictorian was known for. Marks, friends, and popularity… those were characteristics that Dumbledore should have been looking for. I was just the bookworm-know-it-all.

                "You really have no idea, do you, Hermione?" he asked, almost sadly. A kind, almost sad smile graced his face.

                "Know what, sir?" I asked again, confused.

                "You've changed, Ms. Granger. I've been watching you since you arrived at Hogwarts. You were once shy, quiet and reserved, keeping to yourself. I watched you mature, watched you inhale all that knowledge you craved for. Books were your friends, your escape from the harsh reality the other students created and placed you in.

                "But something changed. You became harder, stronger, learning not to trust others so blindly, or follow them without asking questions. You changed, Hermione Granger, leaving your insecure, shy self behind as another person began to take place, shaping her future into something strong and reliable… not something that had once been a dream and something that was easily dismissed as being to hard to achieve.

                "At the beginning of this year, you were much like what you were when you first came to Hogwarts… then you befriended Ms. Weasley, Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter. I watched your face smile and beam with happiness every time they spoke to you. I watched your face when Ginny Weasley turned you away the night of the Yule Ball – I watched how you wanted acceptance from them, to be part of their friendship that was once tighter that glue. And then… I saw the caterpillar begin to morph.

                "You decided not to take their harsh words anymore, Hermione, and began to stand up for yourself. Enter Mister Malfoy, proud and arrogant… the two of you were two peas in a pod, both seeking approval and need to feel special. You found each other… and then Mister Potter found the two of you.

                "You learned to stand up for yourself, believe in yourself, and take no nonsense from the other students. You don't seem to realize what this has done to yourself. When you look in the mirror, you still see that shy, lost girl. You have yet to realize that that shy, little caterpillar has now transformed into a beautiful, strong and intelligent butterfly, spreading its wings.

                "You are a strong, self-reliant woman, Ms. Granger, and I know that however hard times may be for you, you will always pull through, stronger than before. That is why I asked you to be year valedictorian. It was because you are strong, selfless, intelligent, and yes – even popular. You are Head Girl, you know." As Professor Dumbledore's speech came to a close, I found myself staring at him dumbstruck. Was all that he was saying true? I could hardly imagine it to be.

                "Don't believe me?" he asked gently. He then turned slightly and pointed at something behind a cupboard door. "Go… take a peek."

                I stood, walking slowly over to the place he was pointing at. I opened the cupboard and found myself staring at my reflection – but something was different. My face was longer, and somewhat stronger, with cool but confident eyes, a smiling mouth and tilted chin, facing up. Looking back at me was a face of a woman who was completely sure and at ease with herself. This surely couldn't be me?

                As if reading my thoughts, Dumbledore said softly, "That is you, my dear… your very reflection. Do you see those words above the mirror's face? Erised stra ehru oyt ube cafru oyt on wohsi… I show not your face, but your heart's desire."

                "Are you saying that this is what I want to be? My heart's desire?" I asked, tilting my head and seeing my reflection do the same.

                "Yes and no, Hermione. You see, you desire nothing at the moment. So as much as you wished that was what your heart desired, you fail to realize that that is you. You reached all of your desires. You want nothing out of life, and ask nothing of it."

                "So that is me," I whispered. "Not what I wanted to achieve in life."

                "It is you, and it is also someone you wanted to be. You've done both," replied Dumbledore, standing behind me.

                "And what do you see, sir, when you look in this mirror?" I asked, curiosity getting the best of me.

                "Socks. One can never have enough socks," laughed Dumbledore.

                I graduated out of Hogwarts at the top of my class, with Harry Potter and Draco Malfoy following me closely behind in marks. I said my speech with ease and confidence, knowing that I would always cherish and look back on my years at Hogwarts, though not always the best of times, I learnt to live with it and enjoy the better parts.

                I had thought about what I wanted to do during the last week of Hogwarts, and after much talk with my Professors, I realized that my dreams of becoming an author was what I wanted to do. So I set myself up at home and wrote. And wrote, and wrote. About my life, about Hogwarts, and my philosophies of life. About… me and everything in between, really.

                How was I supposed to know that The Face in the Mirror would become a bestseller? So here I am now, twenty-four and sitting outside Diagon Alley's Ice Cream parlor, waiting for Harry and Draco. We had agreed to meet and talk about what has happened since we all left Hogwarts.

                I still keep in touch with Padma, who is working at Gladrag's now, enjoying herself and working part time. I only see Ginny and Ron sometimes, when I stop by the Ministry to talk to friends or pop in at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes (or 3W for short) in Hogsmeade or the Diagon Alley branch. Those pranks remind me so much of my days back at Hogwarts.

                "Hermione?" a voice asks and I turn, smiling at Draco. Still pale, tall and blond, Draco hasn't changed much from our teenager days.

                "How are you?" I ask, hugging my friend. He sits down across from me, flashing the waitress a smile before ordering triple fudge. "Still the chocolate lover, I see."

                "Yes, I am," he replies. I ask him what he has been up to, and he says he works for the animal protection agency with the Ministry. He says he loves it and wouldn't give it up for the world. He is also very will off with his inheritance that Lucius left him when he died two years ago, in the Wizard War.

                Harry had been on the front lines, with Draco and a few others, including myself. My two best friends going off to war without me? I couldn't leave them to be slaughtered and I went along, glad that I did. Dumbledore had been right, all those years ago. I was strong, and when I overcame the obstacles and horrors of that war, I was stronger than ever.

                "I see I'm the late one this time," laughs another male voice, and Harry sits down between the two of us. We are all laughing and smiling, talking about how life is, family, and everything under the moon. It isn't until I realize that there are two redheads looking at us strangely and that they are really Ginny and Ron.

                I stand and wave them over. Let bygones be bygones, my book preaches, and I follow that strongly. "Come! Come join us!" I call. They hesitantly walk over, sitting beside Harry and away from Draco and myself.

                "Hello," Ron says awkwardly. I smile and ask him how life is. He readily jumps into a conversation with me about my book and how he is now working with his father in the ministry. It is apparent that he has let bygones be bygones, judging by his open voice and wide, excited eyes. Yet Ginny is more guarded, quiet as we all speak.

                "I'm sorry," she blurts out suddenly, making me jump.

                "Pardon?" I asked, glancing at her.

                "I'm sorry," she repeats, and it's now that I know that I never lost her as a friend, but had her hidden away somewhere. She had been merely misguided in her own quest of self-discovery… and had made mine difficult. She hadn't meant to, but did. I still forgave her, but things would never be the same again. Things were too different; I was different, she was different.

                "Apology accepted," I say, smiling at her, and soon we are all chatting until the sun sets in the distance and Diagon Alley's pubs light up the streets. We make plans to meet again soon, and all walk away, Harry and I going in the same direction.

                "If you don't mind," starts Harry; "I would like to make another meal date with you, but just the two of us."

                "As in a date?" I ask, smiling knowingly at Harry. Shocked, the ebony haired young man pauses mid step before jogging a bit to catch up with me.

                "W-well, yes, yes, if you'd like to," he says. I smile and nod at him.

                "Of course, I wouldn't miss it for the world," I answer, and we hug, promising to write soon by owl post.

                As I apparate to my flat in London, throwing my jacket on a couch and flopping down on after it, I think reflect on my life. So much had changed from when I started my life to now. Ginny, Ron, Harry, Pansy even, and Draco… they all taught me something about myself. Though I might not be on the best terms with every one of them, or even friends, they shaped me and helped mold me to who I am now.

                Life isn't going to be perfect, but life is what you make of it. It's how you present yourself to the world, how you take things with stride and how you believe in yourself. You can't sit back and take the crap that people hurl at you, slashing you down into nothing when you are a something. You have two choices when this happens: sit back and take the abuse, or revolt and prove that you are something and not to be messed with. Everyone is a something that deserves to be known and recognized.
                As Edmund Dante said in the Muggle film, The Count of Monte Cristo, "Life is a storm, my young friend; you will bask in the sunlight one moment, be shattered on the rocks the next, what makes you a man is what you do when that storm comes. You must look in that storm and shout as you did in Rome, 'Do your worst, for I will do mine!' Then the fates will know you as we know you… as Albert Mondego, a man."

                I looked into that storm, and shout as I did, "Do your worst, and I will do mine!" and then the fates did know me, as you and the rest of the world know me, as Hermione Granger… a witch with a future ahead of her.

FIN

AN: So "MissMatched" is done. Although the title didn't really fit with the story, I thought it was still good, representing what Hermione thought of her life… not matching properly. Anyway, leave a review. There won't be a sequel, because, well, I think this story ending well. Yes, she and Harry are getting together; he did ask her out at the end, didn't he?

Hermione went through a lot in her last year at Hogwarts, and overcame all of her obstacles, but not without hardship and pain. That's life, and no matter what, things happen that are beyond our control, but take The Count of Monte Cristo's quote to heart; remember it when you need to… and then the fates will know.