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Happy Birthday Hermione

By Mena Baines

Hermione Granger’s foot caught on the end of the covers as she was climbing out of bed. She fell, flat on her face in the middle of her dormitory, her roommates giggling at her as they shuffled out the door.

“ Hemione, you’re late getting up—it’s the first time I’ve ever seen this!” exclaimed Janet Footscray, a obnoxiously loud girl who’d shared a room with Hermione since their first year at Hogwart’s school for witchcraft and wizardry.

“ A real miracle,” remarked Janet’s friend Clegie, chuckling as she left the room. Hermione stood up woefully, ignoring the other girls as usual. They’re only jealous, Hermione thought as she hurried into the bathroom to get ready for school, because I won the school-wide Spell-Off last week. Hermione smiled to herself when she remembered the look on defending champion Boris Headriver’s face when she’d hit him with a surprise tickling enchantment toward the end of the match.

But how could this be? She wondered as she brushed her teeth. I’m never late getting up for school! Hermione had always prided herself on having an almost perfect internal clock—natural punctuality was one of her many talents. She worried over this a bit as she pulled off her nightgown and folded it neatly into her drawer, picking out a deep purple robe for today that showed off her figure. How silly that I still care what my robes look like on me after all these years, Hermione thought, thinking of Harry and blushing to herself.

She grabbed her wand and went to flip the page on her 365 days of Enchantments calendar before she ran out the door. As this was a perfectly routine thing for her to do (it was a quick and useful way to learn handy enchantments and she never forgot to keep up with the date.), Hermione almost walked out the door without realizing what day it was. But just as she was leaving, she stopped in her tracks, her eyes suddenly wide with horror.

“ The thirteenth!” Hermione shouted aloud, pinching her eyes shut. “ The 13th of April already…oh it CAN’T be!” she wailed. Hermione stood in the doorway for a moment, contemplating going back to bed and pulling the covers over her head to hide there for the rest of the day. It was the dreaded thirteenth day of April, 2005. Hermione’s seventeenth birthday.

*****

Hermione stomped sulkingly into the dining room for breakfast, but of course it was already over, as she had, naturally, gotten up late. She found her friends, Harry Potter and Ron Weasley, gathering up their things to go to class.

“ There you are,” Harry said once he spotted her. “ We were worried—“

“ DON’T speak to me today.” Hermione said, holding up a hand over her face. “ You’ll be cursed. Please, Harry—“

“ Wha?” Ron said. “ Don’t be a nutcase, Hermione. Here, I saved you a muffin.”

“ I don’t WANT a muffin—I don’t want any food.” Hermione said, shoving it away. “ It’s bound to be poisoned.” Ron laughed out loud and ate the muffin himself.

“ Suit yourself.” He said with a mouthful.

Harry, on the other hand, looked concerned. It made Hermione’s knees weak and she couldn’t even look at him. “ Hermione,” he said carefully, “ What are you talking about? What’s wrong?”

The tone of his voice made Hermione burst into tears. “ It’s….my…BIRTHDAY!!” she cried, sobbing into her hands. She knew she was acting like a fool, but she couldn’t help it.

“ Uh…” Ron stammered. “ Happy Birthday?”

“ Oh, Hermione, are you mad because we forgot?” Harry said, placing a hand on her back. Hermione stiffened nervously at his touch. “ But you never told us!” Harry reminded her. “ In all the years we’ve been at Hogwarts you never mentioned a birthday—at all!”

“ I know,” Hermione said, weakly, sniffling. “ It’s because…my birthday…it’s….cursed!” she choked out another sob.

“ Blimey!” Ron said. “ A cursed birthday! The worst kind of hex…”

“ I KNOW Ron.” Hermione said irritably. “ You don’t have to remind me.”

“ Well then we’ll just have to try and…enchant your birthday.” Harry suggested.

“ Oh, Harry don’t be RIDICULOUS!” Hermione said. “ A wizard can’t enchant or curse a DAY—it just happens naturally. You’re either born with a cursed birthday—or you’re not.”

“ Well then mine are cursed too.” Harry decided. “ I’ve certainly had some awful ones with the Dursleys…”

Hermione shook her head. “ It’s not the same.” She said. “ I can’t do ANYTHING right today. It’s not what happens to me—it’s ME that’s cursed!”

“ Well, come on, anyway.” Ron said. “ We’ve got to get to Herbology or Sprout will have our hides.”

“ Go without me.” Hermione said darkly. “ I’ll probably fall down the stairs and bring you both down with me.”

“ Nonsense.” Harry said. “ We’re not going to let you have an awful birthday alone. If you have an awful day, Hermione, then we all will.”

“ I don’t know, Harry—have you ever been around someone with a cursed birthday before?” Ron asked, eyeing Hermione nervously.

“ Sure I have!” Harry said. “ We’ve been with Hermione everyday since we came to Hogwarts and some of those must have been birthdays.”

“ But Harry—“ Hermione protested.

“ Come, Hermione, I’m not afraid.” Harry said brightly. Of course you aren’t, you’re the bravest person I know, Hermione thought warmly. But what Harry didn’t know was the nature of the curse. The person who the cursed birthday girl most loved was the most susceptible to being injured or hexed while they were around. Years ago, Harry had broken his arm in a Quidditch match on Hermione’s birthday, only to have ALL the bones in his arm later removed by the bumbling Professor Lockhart by accident. And last year on her sixteenth birthday, Hermione and Harry had been studying in the library when a huge shelf of books nearly collapsed onto both of them, crushing Harry’s best wand. Hermione had always kept her mouth shut before—mostly out of embarrassment—but now she had had enough. She was NOT going to let anything happen to Harry this year—one way or another.

*****

As soon as they got to Herbology 601 Hermione realized with much remorse that she’d brought her Defense Against the Dark Arts textbooks instead of her Herbology ones. She sat between Ron and Harry at their desk, head down, defeated.

“ Oh, lighten up, Hermione.” Ron said, “ It could be worse, you know.”

“ Don’t say it.” Hermione warned, her voice muffled against her sleeve.

“ You can use my book, if you want.” Harry offered. All I WANT is to get as far away from you as possible, Hermione thought sadly, before something horrible happens. Sprout began class and Hermione raised her head so not to seem impolite. She saw Harry looking at her sympathetically and melted for him, but quickly looked away as not to let the curse detect her affection.

“ Now then, class,” Sprout was saying. “ Who can tell me which plant we use to protect us from the attacks of Medusas?”

Hermione brightened a bit when she realized she knew the answer. Taltigku weed was used to cure those who had been turned to stone by the weak spells of wild creatures, so naturally it would protect against a Medusa attack. She quickly raised her hand before Larnlle Witlium, the other class brain, could get his in the air.

“ Yes Miss Granger?” Sprout called on her, expecting the usual textbook answer from the ever-ready Hermione.

“ Taltigku weed.” Hermione answered proudly.

“ No.” Sprout said, hiding her astondment. But the other students didn’t bother. Hermione Granger got a question wrong! They were abuzz with shocked remarks and serves-her-right giggles. Hermione sat--stunned herself-- her heart sinking to her feet.

“ Taltigku weed would only make you more likely to get attacked.” Larnlle shot back quickly, “ The obvious answer is ukartuoi stems.”

“ Yes, Larnlle, that is correct.” Sprout confirmed. “ And please wait until you are called on next time.” She added.

“ See there.” Said Ron encouragingly. “ You’re still the favorite.”

“ I don’t CARE!” Hermione, said, a little too loudly, evoking more snickers from the class. She threw her head back down on the desk in agony. How could she survive anymore of these brutal birthdays? Just when she felt tears welling up in her eyes, someone placed their hand gently on her back. Hermione could tell from the way her face flushed hotly that it was Harry. I love you, she thought, and then cursed herself for thinking it outright.

******

By lunchtime Hermione had almost given up and run back to bed after all. She had been caught without her book in Herbology after all—a serious offense in Sprout’s classroom—and had to stay after to clean up after the Mandrakes, two of which had bitten her. Harry had taken her to the infirmary, where Madame Pomfrey had accidentally given her the wrong remedy for her cuts, causing her to break out into hives, which didn’t go away until after Transfiguration class, which she’d had to walk into late after being in the infirmary, enduring everyone’s curious stares as she paraded in with her hives.

Hermione had gone to the back of the classroom and hidden behind Harry, miserable but still grateful that nothing had happened to him…yet.

Now she was sitting with he and Ron out in the courtyard near the Great Hall , watching the sky cautiously for any signs of rouge hail stroms.

“ I should go.” Hermione said, quickly shoving the rest of her roast beef sandwich in her mouth and washing it down with a splash of pumpkin juice. “ I have to…um…go check on some things in the library.”

“ Do you want Ron and I to go with you?” Harry asked.

“ NO!” Hermione shouted. “ I mean…no…no thanks. I can…manage.”

“ I’m not so sure.” Ron said, raising his eyebrows.

“ Oh, come off it, Ron.” Harry said, “ Give her a break.”

Hermione got up to go. “ I don’t see what the big deal is.” Ron said with a mouth full of crackers. “ You act like you’re scared something’s going to happen to us if you are around—but don’t you know how this cursed birthday thing works? Nothing is going to happen to me and Harry…unless, of course, you’re in LOVE with one of us!” he said, laughing loudly.

The color drained from Hermione’s face—she felt like killing Ron. Instead, she spun around and hurried off, shouting “ Gotta go!” over her shoulder in an unusually high-pitched, terrified voice.

Hermione rushed out of the Great Hall as quickly as she could, not noticing that she was headed straight toward her favorite teacher, Professor McGonagoll.

“ Ouch!” McGonagall shouted when Hermione crashed into her, stepping on her feet and almost knocking her over.

“ Oh, Professor McGonagoll!” Hermione said fretfully. “ Get out of here at once! You’re in grave danger!” Hermione warned, because over the years Professor McGonagoll had become less a teacher and more a second mother here at Hogwarts to Hermione.

“ Hermione.” McGonagoll said, unruffled, “ What’s the matter?”

“ As you know,” Hermione said, taking a breath. “ You are my favorite teacher and my mentor here at school. And while you are not in any special danger, anyone I care about should steer clear of me today.”

Professor McGonagoll’s brow creased thoughtful. “ You don’t mean…” she said. “ A…birthday?”

Hermione nodded solenmly.

"Cursed?" McGonagoll asked.

Another solenm nod.

"Oh, dear,” Professor McGonagoll said fretfully, placing a hand over her mouth. “ Hermione…I’m so sorry.”

“ But it’s no big deal, right?” Hermione said, her eyes filling with tears.

“ Hermione…” McGonagoll said, “ I’m not going to lie to you. It is a very big deal.”

Hermione’s hopes of getting through the day were dashed. Professor McGonagoll was the wisest, most honest person she knew. And also the most practical. If she said something was serious….then it must be really bad.

“ But it’s just one day…” Hermione said weakly.

Her professor’s blue eyes fell mournfully to the ground. “ One day, my dear Hermione,” she said quietly, “ Can change a lifetime.”

Hermione’s eyes widened. “ You?” she asked, “ A cursed birthday?”

Professor McGonagoll sighed deeply. “ I’m afraid it’s true. And mine the most cursed of all….”

“ What happened?” Hermione asked.

“ That’s not important.” McGonagoll said quickly. “ You must listen to me Hermione.” She said, taking the girl by the shoulders and looking into her eyes. Hermione nodded, her eyes wide, her heart beating faster. “ Just as there are two sides to magic—a Light and a Dark side—there are two opposite sides to the nature of everything. These two opposite forces are in constant battle with each other—in other to maintain the balance of life. It is simply the way of things. Do you understand?”

“ I think so…” Hermione said breathlessly.

“ Then head this.” Professor McGonagoll said. “ It may be the most important thing anyone ever tells you. Into some lives, there comes a blessing from the Light side of things—in the form of a great love that could reduce the most powerful, consuming darkness to nothing. The Dark side fears this great Light power, and will do anything to stop it.” She paused for a moment. “ Is there someone here…?” McGonagoll asked, assuming Hermione knew what she meant.

“ Oh, you must know,” Hermione said, her eyes over-flowing with tears. “ Sometimes I think everyone does. It’s Harry—I love him more than anything.” She whispered. “ And even before I knew him—I loved him then. It’s hard to explain—“

Professor McGonagoll shook her head. “ I know what you mean. Only those of us who have experienced a love like that are cursed with a birthday that threatens to destroy it. Great Wizards—you’re only three years younger than I was when…” she trailed off, and then stood up abruptly.

“ What should I do?” Hermione asked desperately.

“ Don’t let Harry out of your sight.” Professor McGonagoll said gravely. “ It may seem as though your presence brings him danger—but you are the only one who can save him, even so.”

* * * * *

“ Harry, please.” Hermione was begging him after class. “ You have to listen to me. You can’t play Quidditch tonight.”

“ But it’s the last game against Slytherin this year!” Harry said. “ Is this about your birthday, Hermione? Look, so far nothing has happened…”

“ Oh…you don’t understand!” Hermione said, enraged with herself. She couldn’t tell him what Professor McGonagoll had said—it would be too much on a day like this to admit that she loved Harry, right like that, to his face. But if she couldn’t explain…

“ Look, Hermione, I have to go get dressed,” Harry said, eyeing the locker room. “ If it makes you feel better—don’t come to the game.”

“ But Harry—“

“ No, Hermione,” he said, “ I don’t understand why you’re being so secretive about this. I know you’ve had a bad day, but if you can’t give me a reason not to play then I’m not going to listen to you.”

Hermione began to panic. What could she say? She knew she was making Harry angry, but she didn’t care if he thought she was crazy as long as he was alive…Hermione shuddered. She had saved Harry’s life on the Quidditch court before when Professor Quirrell had been out to get him…could she do it again?

“ I’ve got to go.” Harry said hotly, when she still had no response.

“ No—please!” Hermione cried as he turned to leave. Something in her voice made him turn around.

“ Hermione!” Harry said, his eyes softening a bit. He grabbed her shoulders, the way Professor McGonagoll had before. “ What IS it?”he asked desperately, searching her eyes for an answer.

Don’t let go of me, don’t ever let go of me, Hermione thought, staring back at his beautiful green eyes, sparkling behind his glasses. “ I…” she stuttered. Harry raised his eyebrows, waiting for more. “ You can’t go.” Hermione whispered weakly. “ You just can’t.”

“ Urgh!” Harry groaned, annoyed, releasing her and turning to go. “ I don’t know what you’re not telling me!” he shouted back as he left. “ But we’ve never kept secrets before Hermione, and this is RIDICULOUS!” he yelled, slamming the door to the locker room behind him.

Hermione wanted to collapse into a heap of sobs on the floor there in the lobby, but instead she kept her composure and walked quietly into the gym, fingering her wand in her coat pocket and praying that she could keep Harry safe.

* * * * *

The Quidditch match started normally enough. Hermione sat with Ron and Neville Longbottum in the bleachers, never taking her eyes off Harry as he sped through the air, searching for the Snitch. But every time a Bludger drew near to him she’d hold her breath and go for her wand, frantically thinking of a spell that would keep him from falling to his death on the ground below. A shiver went down Hermione’s spine. Stop thinking like that! She told herself. No one has ever died in a Qudditch match before…have they?

“ Look at Malfoy, showing off on his ruddy broomstick.” Ron said, taking a big swig of juice from a thermos he had brought. “ It’s no bloody wonder he’s the worst Seeker this school has ever seen.”

“ Uh-huh.” Hermione said, mindlessly watching Harry.

“ What’s with you?” Ron asked, poking her in the shoulder. “ You don’t have much to say tonight.”

“ Don’t expect me to be in a good mood.” Hermione said, not looking at him, after the day I’ve had.”

“ Are you still going on about your ruddy unlucky birthday?” Ron asked in disbelief. “ Come ON Hermoine, everyone knows the birthday curse ends after sundown.”

Hermione’s eyes shot up for the first time since the match began. “ What??!” she said, “ You mean…”

“ Yeah, the curse is long over by now. I can’t believe you didn’t know that—it’s common knowledge.”

“ But—“ Hermione said, “ No one ever told me…”

“ Probably because you haven’t talked about your birthday since you came to Hogwarts.” Ron said, rolling his eyes. “ For some reason. I mean, think about it Hermione—when’s the last time something bad happened to you today? Has any of the bad birthday stuff ever happened at night?”

“ No…” Hermione said, a grin forming on her face for the first time that day. “ And that means… oh Ron you’re WONDERFUL!” she shouted, throwing her arms around her friend. “ That means Harry’s not in danger!” she said without thinking.

“ Why would Harry be in danger?” Ron asked. Just as the words fell from his lips, they heard it.

The sky had been cloudy all night, but there had been no thunder, no rain—no sign of danger at all. Then from out of nowhere came a bolt of lightening so sharp and bright that it was almost…green.

Before the crowd could blink it was gone, and the figure of a boy was falling rapidly from the sky.

“ It’s Harry!” Neville shouted the two words that sent a knife shooting through Hermione’s heart.

Hermione waited for herself to scream and cry in the agony she felt, but nothing came. All she could manage was a weak utter of “ No.” before she passed out into Ron’s unsuspecting arms.

I’m sorry Harry. I couldn’t save you—I was too late. I’m so sorry….

* * * * *

When Hermione came to, it was late, and she was lying on her unmade bed in her room. Was it all a dream? She wondered, but when she saw the scars from the Mandrake bites still on her arm she realized with horror that this was reality. A reality in which Harry was now dead…because she couldn’t save him.

“ No….” she moaned, rolling over on her side and shutting her eyes against the harsh truth, “ Harry…” she called into the darkness, squeezing her pillow and feeling tears stream down her cheeks.

“ Yeah?” he answered from across the room.

Hermione spun around and sat up with a gasp. And there he was—Harry walking toward her, looking supernaturally beautiful in the blue moonlight that filled the room. Oh no, no, Hermione thought dreadfully-- he’s a ghost!

But she felt the weight of the bed shift as Harry sat down next to her. Can ghosts do that? Hermione’s head was spinning. He reached up to stroke her forehead softly, and she felt the cool hardness of his hand on her skin. Hermione shivered—he was real—he was alive! But how?

“ Harry…” she muttered softly, reaching up to touch his hand on her face, shaking with happiness, praying this was not a dream—that she wouldn’t wake to find him gone.

“ Are you okay?” he whispered, his thumb caressing her cheek tenderly, “ You were out for a long time—I was so worried. Madame Pomfrey said to let you rest but—“

“ Harry,” Hermione said, wanting to lean into his arms but afraid he’d feel her trembling. “ What…happened?” she asked, swallowing tears. “ I thought you were…dead.”

Harry sighed. “ Oh, Hermione I’m so sorry.” He said, “ I was only surprised by the lightening—by some miracle it didn’t hit me. I let go of my broom though—what an idiot, huh? Anyway, I busted up my leg pretty badly, but Madame Pomfrey had it fixed in minutes—no Lockhart around to botch it up this time!”

Hermione giggled despite everything. “ Harry…” she whispered. “ I’m sorry about before. I was only—“

“ Hey, don’t worry about it.” He said softly, “ I’m just glad you’re okay.” Hermione grinned, her cheeks flushing red. She prayed that Madam Pomfrey wouldn’t come in and spoil the moment. She wanted to stay there forever in the dark with Harry rubbing her shoulder, just thanking the Light side that he was alive. “ And I got you something.” Harry said, reaching into his pocket. He pulled out a small necklace—and amethyst crystal on a delicate silver chain.

“ Happy Birthday, Hermione.” He said with a smile, reaching around her to fasten it around her neck. He leaned forward to see the clasp in the dark and Hermione felt his cheek brush hers. She shut her eyes and smiled softly. “ There.” Harry said, leaning back. “ It’s good luck.” He told her. “ So your day won’t be cursed anymore.”

“ Oh,” Hermione said, looking at the clock. It was after one o’clock in the morning. “ My birthday is over.” She said with relief. “ But thank you.”

Harry shrugged and flashed her a smile. “ For next year then.” He said.

THE END