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Hermione and the Quidditch Team- Part One

By Mena Baines

Hermione Granger leaned on the shopping cart as she pushed it through the Muggle supermarket. She yawned and pulled another can of chicken noodle soup off the shelf and tossed it into the cart. She found herself happily humming along to the elevator music they were playing on the loudspeaker. Hermione had never been self-sufficient before. She’d never even bought her own groceries. She felt so grown up as she wheeled her own cart through the mostly empty supermarket.

The entire town of Westmoreland was mostly empty, Hermione was finding. It was a small tourist community, and most of the tourists had cleared out after Christmas. Hermione was glad. She found it to a peaceful, quiet place—perfect for her situation, right down to the constant rain. She wheeled her buggy past the freezer section, and down the soda and napkin aisle. She grabbed a six-pack of Ginger Ale and rolled the cart toward the check out lanes.

There was only one lane open, and a sad looking teenage girl with too-dark eye makeup rang her groceries up. Hermione paid with money Harry had changed at Gringots after he’d withdrawn from school. He’d emptied his entire bank account, assuming he would never return to the wizarding communities he once knew. It had been incredibly foolish—but he and Hermione had been enjoying the unlimited funds for the past three or four days. She’d even rented a little Muggle car—she quite enjoyed driving, ever since her father had taught her the summer after her 6th year. Like most other things, she was rather good at it.

Hermione ran through the rain to the space where she’d parked—she had a black ski-cap on to protect her hair, and she tried not to let her groceries get too wet. She started the car and sang along with a song she’d learned that weekend that was playing on the radio station as she drove back to the hotel where they were staying.

Hermione felt like a real, live Muggle.

She pulled the car into the parking lot of the Mark Inn, which lay along the highway not far from the lake that the town was built around. The Mark Inn was a tiny little establishment, which was housing only one other customer on that particular weekend. She climbed the outdoor stairs to the second-level terrace, and struggled with the bags as fumbled to get the key in the door.

“ Thanks for all your help,” she mumbled as she pushed her way inside, but Harry was asleep. Hermione rolled her eyes as she locked the door behind her. He was ALWAYS asleep.

Actually, she was worried about him. Of course he was depressed—who wouldn’t be after what he’d been through with his parents, leaving them behind in the past. But no matter how many times Hermione tried to convince him that he’d done the right thing, he would just look at her with empty eyes and let his head fall back onto the pillow.

Hermione put the groceries away in the little kitchenette. She’d promised him she’d wait until he was ready to go back to Hogwarts—she knew it would be very hard for him to face everyone there after what he’d done. But she couldn’t wait forever. She had to finish her term—she was falling behind every day that she avoided going back.

She sat down next to him on the bed and sighed. Of course she couldn’t entirely blame Harry for having stayed away from school all week. It wasn’t like she wasn’t enjoying her freedom, there in the little fishing town outside of Cambridge, where no one ever whispered the name Voldemort in fear, or scolded her for using magic outside of school. It wasn’t as if she wasn’t enjoying having Harry all to herself, either. Part of her wanted to think that they’d eloped—that they’d never have to go back and face Dumbledore and McGonagall, and that Harry had somehow escaped his unarguable fate.

But she knew it was a lie, and she couldn’t really convince herself.

“ Hey,” she whispered, placing a hand on Harry’s back and shaking him gently, “ Wake up.”

“ Hermione?” he moaned, lifting his head slightly.

“ Yeah, it’s just me,” she said, leaning over and kissing his back. “ Come on—get up. I need to talk to you.”

He groaned. “ Hang on a minute,” he mumbled into his pillow, like a little boy trying to get his mother to allow him five more minutes of sleep before school.

Hermione tried to exercise patience. Yes, he had been through a lot. But that didn’t mean he could hide from the rest of his life in bed in a hotel room. She tried not to be fed up. She got up and started fixing fish soup on the little stove in the kitchenette.

Hermione stared out the window at the rainy highway as the soup simmered, watching monstrous trucks, and speedy Muggle cars fly by. None of them know what we’re going through, she thought, it’s so odd. That we have to live in this other world… But wouldn’t Voldemort have plans for the Muggle world, too? Hermione had no idea. She felt so separate from everybody all of a sudden. Even Harry was too scared to join her in her plight. A girl with all the world’s problems—no, TWO worlds’ problems on her shoulders. That was what she was, after everything. The timer on the stove went off, and she pulled the soup pan off the burner.

Harry finally awoke to the scent of dinner cooking. He stood up, put a shirt on, and walked to where the kitchen opened up to a little counter with bar stools. He took a seat on one and sighed.

“ We could have gone out,” Harry said, rubbing his eyes, “ I didn’t know you were hungry.”

“ It’s okay,” Hermione said, placing a bowl of soup in front of him, “ I think we’ve been to every restaurant in the whole town already, anyway.” Harry half-grinned at her.

“ I’m sorry,” he said, embarrassed, picking up a fork, “ You shouldn’t have to cook me dinner…”

“ Don’t apologize,” Hermione said, sitting on the counter in the kitchenette so that she was facing him.

He sighed again, “ No, it’s not right,” he insisted, “ You’ve done everything…what have I done?”

“ Harry,” Hermione said, “ Stop.” She ate her soup quietly and listened to the rain outside. “ I wouldn’t be here if I didn’t want to be,” she said.

Where did she want to be, though? Not really where she was—she felt too guilty. And not at Hogwarts. She was scared to go back—what would McGonagall think of her, running off with Harry like this? She was having horrible nightmares about that. Great Wizards, she’d think all the time, I’m so irresponsible.

Harry insisted on washing the dishes when they were done. Hermione couldn’t help but laugh when he burnt himself with the hot water—so bursting with inexperience, it was almost adorable.

“ Now,” she said, when he was finished with the troublesome two bowls, “ Now you’ll talk to me.” She grabbed his arm and led him over to the sofa. He still looked exhausted, Sages help him. Hermione sat down and let him rest his head in her lap.

“ You want me to go back to school,” he said, covering his face with his hands, “ I know, I know, I know. It’s the right thing to do. I know.”

Hermione sighed, she didn’t know where to begin with him. He was a mess, she was tired, they should go back, go HOME, but how could she explain it?

“ What about Ron?” she asked, trying from a new angle this time. “ He’s probably worried sick…” Harry stared up at the ceiling.

“ Ron,” he said, as if he were just remembering the name, “ One of the people I was trying to protect…when I left…” He looked up at Hermione.

“ Don’t start in on that again,” she said quickly, “ He misses you. I missed you—Great Wizards, you know I did. And I have to go back.”

“ I know you do,” he said quietly.

“ They can help you,” she said, stroking his hair. “ Everyone at Hogwarts loves you and wants to help you get past…this…”

“ What can they do?” he asked, shaking his head. “ If they knew anything about how do defeat Voldemort they would have done it by now.” He sighed.

“ I can help you,” Hermione said quietly, “ You know I can.” Harry looked up at her. He sat up and wrapped his arms around her.

“ You have helped me…”

“ That’s not what I mean,” she said, squeezing him closer to her, “ You know what I mean. I’m not going to let you do this alone.” He sighed heavily, defeated.

“ Alright. Okay. We’ll go back….tomorrow.”

__________________________

Hermione had never realized how incredibly uncomfortable it was to ride on a broom for a long period of time. Her arms hung limply around Harry’s waist, her head resting lazily on his back, her legs asleep from hanging in the air for so long. Still, they raced back toward school against the cool January air, both dreading the scene they knew they’d start upon returning. Hermione found herself wishing for a comfortable flying car—or at least for the soft little carpet Harry had enchanted weeks ago in London. Even Rosa’s Waverunner sounded good, compared to the stiff little broom handle she’d been sitting on for hours. But by flight was the only way they knew how to find the castle. Otherwise, they’d be lost.

Hermione’s stomach knotted as soon as she spotted it: Hogwarts. The castle stared up at them through layers of thick, almost dusty fog. Hermione coughed against Harry’s back. They were dead meat. But where else could they go? She felt doomed.

Harry landed near the steps to the front door. Far away they could hear Hagrid’s mirthful humming as he made his morning rounds—it was early. Closer to the ground the fog was heavier, almost suffocating. Hermione felt Harry squeeze her arm.

“ You okay? You don’t look well,” he said.

“ Aren’t you NERVOUS?” she asked him, almost whispering as she gazed up at the school. Harry shook his head.

“ I don’t care anymore. It’s not as if they can put me in Azkaban.”

“ Don’t get over-confident,” she muttered, and they walked to the front entrance. Hermione’s knees shook as Harry pulled open the enormous front door. After everything she’d done…not even sending an owl to let them know she and Harry were okay…McGonagall would have her head.

Inside, the castle seemed quiet. Strangely quiet, even. Hermione had a horrible feeling that something was wrong.

“ Where is everybody?” she asked quietly, hanging close to Harry. He shrugged it off, but she could see in his eyes that he sensed it to. She heard a tiny cough from far away.

Suddenly Snape appeared in the main corridor, and Hermione’s breath caught in her throat. Of all the people to first discover that they were back… He saw them out of the corner of his eye, turned to them and sneered.

“ Potter, Granger…” he began, wringing his hands like a mad scientist. “ The prodigal son has returned….” Mostly he was staring at Harry like a lion gazing hungrily at a wildebeest. Harry frowned.

“ You look ghastly…” he said, eyeing Snape.

“ What did you say?!” Snape asked, infuriated, and then he collapsed into a loud, wet sneeze. Hermione could see what Harry meant when their Professor stood, wiping his nose on his sleeve. Snape looked tired, and his skin was more sallow and green-tinted than usual. His nose was red from the sneeze.

“ Nothing…you just look…ill.” Harry said quickly. It was true, he looked terrible.

Snape coughed, “ That may be,” he said hoarsely, “ But I’m not the only one.” He added with a sly grin. Hermione didn’t understand what he meant. “ Come with me,” he growled, pulling the front of Harry’s shirt until he followed him toward Dumbledore’s office. Hermione heard more coughing as they walked down the hall. Had Hogwarts experienced some sort of epidemic? Didn’t they have spells that could cure that sort of thing easily?

It was all out of her head as soon as she saw the door to Dumbledore’s office. It was open, and he and McGonagall were standing outside, with looks to kill. Hermione shrank behind Harry and stepped inside.

__________________________

“ Hermione.”

“ Harry.”

“ Have a seat.” The two most respected professors at their school instructed somberly. Hermione noticed that Dumbledore looked even more sickly than usual. There were great dark circles under his twinkling eyes. He sat hunched over behind his desk, while McGonagall stood stiffly near the window. They both looked like they were trying their best to remain calm.

“ Sorry I’m late,” someone said, stumbling into the room. Hermione turned to see Professor Lupin, fumbling with his wristwatch. “ Darned thing is broken again.”

Hermione saw McGonagall roll her eyes behind her glasses. She and Harry, on the other hand, were both pleased to see their old teacher back at Hogwarts.

“ This really doesn’t concern you, Remus…” said McGonagall, who was obviously in a horrible mood, in light of the whole situation.

“ I know,” he said, walking to her, “ I just wanted to remind you to go easy on them. These kids…have been through a lot…” His argument seemed to waver under McGonagall’s glaring stare. Hermione wished she’d calm down. Dumbledore coughed.

“ We were just about to owl your parents,” he said, his voice hoarse. Hermione started shaking all over—her parents…Great Wizards, what would they think of her now?

“ Our parents?” Harry said with a frown, “ Well, I haven’t got any, but…why?”

“ I wasn’t speaking to you, Harry.” Dumbledore said flatly. Hermione’s heart broke for Harry. Why wasn’t the headmaster being more understanding?

“ Hermione,” McGonagall said, “ I don’t know where you were, or why, and nor do I want to.” Hermione wanted to die of embarrassment. “ Dumbledore and I will assume that it took you…several days…to find Harry in the past, and that is why you did not return, did not contact us.” She blinked. “ As to avoid any further…complications.”

Remus gave Hermione a small smile. She wondered if he remembered Caroline at all. She looked to Dumbledore, but his gaze was fixed on Harry.

“ You may go now, Ms. Granger,” he said, and she slowly rose from her chair. Hermione almost wished she’d received a harsher punishment—she didn’t want to leave Harry alone to take the blame for what had happened, though it WAS his mistake to begin with. We were out of control…she thought, looking at him. Their eyes met, and Hermione wanted to pick him up and carry him out with her. But she couldn’t even pat his shoulder in the presence of her professors.

Hermione began to walk out, but then turned back before she reached the door. “ Professor,” she called, “ Headmaster—it wasn’t entirely Harry’s fault that we didn’t—“

“ That will be enough, Hermione,” McGonagall said. Hermione turned again to go, defeated, but thankful that she at least hadn’t called her ‘Ms. Granger’.

Outside, the heavy door shut behind her, and she felt like she were leaving Harry to die at the hands of a ravaging pack of Dementors. Why were the teachers treating him like this? Maybe Lupin would at least try to put in a good word for him…

“ Going back to the Gryffindor Tower, Granger?” came the cool voice of Snape, who stood outside the door. He watched her go until she turned the corner, keeping close to the door like a watchdog.

More like a spy, Hermione thought bitterly. She wanted so much to scream at him, he was a sneak, he was evil, he only wanted to stay there and listen to Harry catch hell for stealing the time turner. She felt her skin crawl as she imagined Snape relishing the sounds of Harry being chastised for going against everything he’d been taught.

Fools, Hermione thought. The more you scold him, the more he’ll turn away from you. And the further he felt from those at Hogwarts who’d normally side with him, the closer he was to the lonely place where Tom Riddle had ended up. The place where only the Dark Arts were left to turn to.

__________________________

Hermione just wanted to go back to the Tower and sleep for the rest of the day. She figured the rest of the students would be in their morning classes by now, and she’d at least have her room to herself. But that was not quite the case.

The Gryffindor common room was filled with second years—Hermione recognized a few of them. They were all lying on sleeping bags and make-shift cots, sneezing, blowing their noses and moaning into their pillows. Pavartti, who didn’t look so hot herself, was rushing about with boxes of tissues and cough drops.

“ Hermione,” she said boredly when she saw her, “ You’re back. Where’s Harry?”

“ I think he’s being killed. What’s going on?”

Pavartti sighed. “ Hermione that’s really not funny at a time like this. We’ve been hit with some kind of epidemic—nobody knows how, but Madam Pomfrey hasn’t got anything for it. Everyone’s sick as…” she stopped for a moment to sneeze into a box of tissues, “….dogs,” she finished, her nose stuffy. She wandered off to tend to a little girl with long blond hair who was having a coughing fit.

Eager to escape the sick room, Hermione went to visit Ron. But Professor Flitwick, who was standing at the stairs to the boy’s dorms, stopped her.

“ There’s no going past here, young lady—this area has been quarantined,” he told her, with an authoritative nod.

“ Everyone’s sick?” Hermione asked in disbelief. Flitwick nodded somberly.

“ The Gryffindor boys’ have the Quardinline Flu—highly contagious, very rare,” he explained, trying to sound professional. “ Only those who practice magic are susceptible—don’t know where they picked it up! Now, shoo, before you catch their germs!” Hermione obediently walked away, now feeling a bit confused. She walked up the stairs toward her room, hoping against hope…

“ Herm-oine!” Rosa was in bed, still wearing her nightgown though it was almost noon. “ I’d come and hug you,” she said with a sleepy grin, “ But I’ve got some stomach virus—we all do!”

Hermione went inside and sat down on her own bed. It actually felt very good to be back—no more damp motel sheets. “ This is insane,” she said, “ Is the whole school sick?” Rosa shook her head.

“ Just our house. Some of the other kids are, yeah, but hardly anyone in Slytherin is,” she shrugged, “ Everyone is making up all these rumors about how it got started—like one of the lunch ladies is working for Voldemort or something,” she rolled her purple eyes, “ Yeah right. It’s so obvious who did it.”

“ Who?”

“ Slytherin! Malfoy won’t own up to it, of course—but he did send me flowers!” she said, beaming, and gesturing to the window sill, where vases full of pink and yellow roses stood tall against the sunlight that was creeping in past the dissipating fog.

“ Nice….” Hermione said, falling back onto the bed, “ They’ve got a Quidditch match against us this week, don’t they?”

“ Yep. The big one! They’re really determined to get the cup this year…I don’t know why. In American no one cared—usually the nerdy house got the cup, cause the rest of us got so many points taken off for misbehaving—anyway, where WERE you?” Rosa finally asked.

Hermione sighed. “ I don’t know. I think I was a Muggle for awhile. It was wonderful.” Rosa laughed.

“ Yeah, I hear ya! Sometimes you just have to get away. I think it’s real cool that you and Harry ran off together—like something I would do!” Rosa grinned, “ You’re becoming more and more like me every day!” Hermione snorted.

Rosa sneezed—a dainty, high-pitched little thing that Hermione was jealous of, for her own sneezes always came out loud and un-graceful. “ Anyway,” Rosa said, wiping her nose. “ I bet Harry is ticked about the Quidditch match—we’ll probably have to forfeit—the whole team is on their deathbeds, save him.”

Hermione shook her head, “ I don’t think he’ll care.”

“ Ohh…” Rosa said, “ Other things on his mind?”

“ Something like that.”

Rosa sighed. “ Poor thing. I can’t believe what he tried to do though…it’s all over school. Lavender and all them, you know, they’re like, ‘ It’s such a crime that he gets in trouble for trying to save his parents’,” she said. Hermione rolled her eyes.

“ What do they know?” she muttered. “ It was really stupid of him. And he knows it. But…I hope Dumbledore doesn’t expel him, it’ll only make things worse.”

Rosa nodded. “ Are you okay?” she asked, “ You look a tad torn up.”

Hermione moaned. “ I am,” she admitted, “ A tad.”

_______________________________

Hermione saw Harry talking to Lupin in the courtyard after he was released from Dumbledore’s office. She tentatively approached them, just in case they were discussing something serious. Lupin gave her a warm smile as she walked toward them.

“ Hermione!” he said, “ Our saving grace!”

“ Huh?”

“ Lupin wants you to play Quidditch,” Harry said with a smirk.

“ WHAT?” Hermione asked, “ That’ll be the day! After my ride here this morning—I never want to get on a broom again!”

“ Come on, Hermione!” Lupin pleaded, “ Think of the honor you’ll bring to your house! You’ve always been a girl with lots of spirit!”

“ No!” Hermione said, “ What are you suggesting, that Harry and I go out there and defeat Slytherin by ourselves? Ha!”

“ Actually,” Harry said, “ There are four other Gryffindors who aren’t sick.”

“ Well I certainly didn’t see them in the Tower,” Hermione said with a scoff. “ Everyone there looks like they would pass out just looking at a broom.”

“ They’re on a field trip right now,” Harry said, “ Four…first years.” He snickered. “ I think it might be interesting,” he shrugged, “ Take our mind off things?”

Hermione rolled her eyes, “ I guess…”

“ Come ON,” Lupin pleaded, “ Don’t let those dastardly snakes get away with the cup—and just for poisoning your house! It’s not fair!”

“ Is THAT why you’re so interested?” Hermione asked him, “ I would think it’d be McGonagall begging me to take up space on the field—but you?” Lupin blushed.

“ He made a little wager,” Harry said, grinning, “ With Snape.”

“ He took advantage of me!” Lupin growled, “ I was under heavy medication at the time—that Pomfrey has no idea what she’s doing with remedies, I swear!—and, er, he happened to mention what the chances of Gryffindor winning the next match were…”

“ He could lose a lot of money,” Harry said.

“ That’s not my problem,” Hermione growled, not in the mood to talk about this.

“ Well, think about it,” Lupin said, walking off, “ I’ll talk to you later, Harry.” He nodded at his professor as he left. Hermione looked at him.

“ What did they tell you?” she asked him softly.

“ That the fate of the modern world is in my hands,” he shrugged, “ Nothing new.”

“ So they tried to make you feel guilty?”

“ They tried everything—what do I care? They’re lost without me, and they know it. I can do whatever I want now, and that scares the crap out of them.”

“ Harry!”

“ Well it’s true,” he looked at her, trying to seem smug, but she could see that he was upset. Harry never acted so cocky. “ So are going to do this Quidditch thing or what?”

“ No! Great Wizards, I’d make a complete fool out of myself.”

“ You wouldn’t do it for me?” he asked, scooting closer to her.

“ Don’t try to influence me,” she said, shoving him away. He laughed.

Suddenly they heard the clunking off heavy boots behind them on the snow covered court-yard.

“ Hey, Potter!” came Draco Malfoy’s teasing voice. He reared back and threw a fist-full of dirty snow in their direction. “ Your Quidditch team just got back from their pixie-catching field trip and they’re OH so excited about the match this week!” He sneered at them. Harry made a move like he was going to come after him, and Draco took off running for the school. Harry rolled his eyes.

“ Stupid kid,” he muttered.

Hermione smiled at him, “ Harry Potter, you sound so mature!” she teased.

“ Ah, yes,” he said, raising his eyebrows, “ A real benefit of totally screwing up.”

Hermione reached for him, “ You didn’t,” she said, pulling him to her, “ You didn’t do anything wrong, Harry, I don’t think you would have, even if I hadn’t come.”

“ Please,” he muttered, “ That’s a lot of rubbish.”

“ It’s not. I know you would have stopped yourself from trying to change the past. You’re smarter than that—better than that.”

“ Better?”

“ You know what I mean,” she said, giving him a look.

Harry tilted his head back, “ All I know is that I don’t know anything,” he said.

Hermione laughed as he leaned closer to her, “ Don’t quote Socrates at a time like this!” she joked, “ This is supposed to be romantic!” They both laughed, and stared at each other for a moment. Neither of them knew what to say, after everything, after what had happened while they were away, how dependant they’d become on one another. He just kissed her, and they left it at that.