Houses Competition: Year 2, Round 10

House: Hufflepuff

Year: 3

Category: Short

[Prompt]: [ Object ] No Muggles Allowed

Word Count: 1991

Beta: Aya, Pix, Bookie, Magi


Tags: OC, Non Canon, Post-Hogwarts


Jennifer Bailey, The Muggle Who Knew


Before Hermione Granger went to Hogwarts, she had a best friend - Jennifer Bailey. She was like Hermione in every single aspect except she was blonde. Oh, and she was a Muggle. They had met at the library, of course, when they were eight. It was both of their first visit to the library and definitely not the last.

After their first meeting, they spent every waking moment with each other. Jennifer was there when Hermione had gotten her owl; they were in the library (no surprise, there) when the smallest of owls swooped in through one of the giant lattice windows nad dropped the letter in Hermione's lap.

"Don't open it," Jennifer had whispered. "How could they know you're sitting in the library. Near the history aisle!"

Hermione had stared at the envelope with a small frown.

"Is it that surprising, though?" she had asked. "I mean, everyone knows I always sit here."

Thus, the letter was opened. Both the girls believed it immediately because that explained a lot of things - how had Hermione's birthday cake turned into a butterscotch one, when Jenny was sure that it had been a chocolate when she had helped Mrs. Granger put it the refrigerator? What other explanation could there possibly be for Hermione finding the exact book she was looking for in her favourite spot on the chair near the history aisle, under the window?

By the time the girls had gone rushing home, a silver-bearded old man in the strangest clothes was already at the Grangers' door; he winked at them as they waited for Hermione's parents to answer his knock.

After that, it was a whirlwind of activity as she watched her best friend come home every afternoon with things more outlandish than she had ever seen. The summer seemed to fly that year and soon, she bid her friend goodbye.

That Christmas, Jennifer had listened with awe as Hermione spoke about dragons and trolls, about spells and magic. It struck her with a pang of envy, rueful, not bitter. What she wouldn't give to see this world!

"And you're a Muggle," she had said, giggling.

"I'm a what?" Jennifer had replied dumbly.

"A Muggle, Jennifer," Hermione repeated. "People with no magic."

Then she had proceeded to tell her about her two good friends, Harry and Ronald. And when she had come back for the summer, Hermione had darker stories to tell, of evil wizards and dark magic; it made her wonder whether the wizard world would be that pleasant after all.

As the years passed, Jennifer only saw Hermione during the holidays and they didn't write to each other as much anymore. She heard stories of werewolves and shapeshifters. Each time she came home, she stayed for a shorter time than before and was quieter, stayed locked up in her room longer. Knowing Hermione, it was for some "light-reading".

The last time she saw Hermione, was when she'd returned for her fourth summer. She had never seen her look so tired, so quiet and so worried. All Jennifer had understood was that there was a war coming. After that, she'd stopped coming home completely; Mr and Mrs Granger would say that she'd gotten caught up with homework, but Jennifer knew. And Jennifer worried about her friend.

A couple of years passed before Jennifer saw Hermione again. As she stared out of her window one night into the dark, Jennifer could barely make anything out, but she could see the bags trailing behind Hermione. Frowning, she flew downstairs and out onto the driveway.

"Minnie!"

Hermione froze. "Hello, Jenny," she said quietly.

"Good to see you around," she said slowly.

"I'm sorry, I-"

"I know," Jennifer cut her off. "The weather… the missing people… Are they all….." she trailed away, hesitant to say 'your people'.

Hermione sighed. "Yes."

"Are you alright?" asked Jennifer, as she sensed the quiver in Hermione's voice. "And… Are you running away?"

"I am," said Hermione sniffling.

"Do your parents-"

"No, they don't," said Hermione, shaking her head. "And it doesn't matter."

"Minnie! Of course, it does!" exclaimed Jennifer. "You can't just leave."

"I have to," muttered Hermione. Then she took her wand out and swallowed thickly before pointing it at her friend. "Obliviate," she said sadly.

Jennifer wouldn't know that Hermione had then knocked Jennifer out and levitated her to her bedroom. That she had proceeded to erase Mr. and Mrs. Bailey's memories of her as well. Jennifer wouldn't know that Hermione had given the small room a sad onceover before she had left and had resisted leaving Jennifer a "failsafe" letter that would magically appear in her school bag after a year or so.

But there was no guarantee whether one year would be enough, so she left quietly.

Hermione wouldn't know that when Jennifer had woken up the next day with a splitting headache, she would wonder about what had happened the previous night for years because she simply couldn't quite recall anything. Except for the vague images of a bushy haired, teary-eyed girl standing in her driveway; so out of focus that Jennifer was sure that it had been a dream.

Years later, when Jennifer walked down a small alleyway in London, trying to find a new shortcut to her home, a flash of bright red caught her attention. She turned to see that a woman dressed in strange clothes, the bright red she had caught sight of, disappear around a block. Oddly enough, the peculiar clothes seemed familiar.

She paused in her track, contemplating. It would definitely be weird to follow someone just because she thought their clothes were strange; completely crazy, in fact. But the strange familiarity of those robes (were they robes? Why would anyone ever wear robes!) nagged at the back of her mind, and she took a few hesitant steps before quickening her pace.

She tried to follow the woman and found herself in a strange, dark street that she was sure she'd never set foot in. The shops looked quite old and had a rustic air about them, and everyone on the street was dressed strangely. She looked down at what she was wearing - blue jeans and a t-shirt - and immediately felt out of place.

Her eyes drank in the sight, trying to place in her head where in London this place could be. Where she supposed it was, seemed impossible because she'd come this way often and had never seen this street before.

She walked down the stone pavement slowly, through the colourful smoke and under the watchful eyes of the owls perched on the rooftops of houses that looked like they could collapse any moment.

She paused in front of what looked like a small pub. The dark mahogany door had a chalk drawing of a beer mug on it. Right below the mug was a wooden plaque, carved in gold, were the words: No Muggles Allowed.

"Muggle?" wondered Jennifer out loud.

"People with no magic, Jennifer," said a voice in the back of her head automatically.

What?

"That idiot really needs to take his sign down, doesn't he?" came a voice next to her and she jumped up, startled.

Next to her was a short woman, dressed in ruby red velvet robes with golden embroidery. She was looking at the sign with a narrowed gaze, shaking her head slightly. Before Jennifer could say something, the woman continued.

"I mean, it's just rude!" scoffed the woman. "Muggles can't even come down to this street. And even if they were to, they wouldn't know what 'muggle' means, would they? My husband only knew he was one after we were married!"

"Uh, I'm-"

"Which brings me to the question of what about those of us that are married to muggles! Muggles aren't all that bad, you know?"

"I'm sure, they're not," nodded Jennifer, still mildly confused.

"Besides, those times are behind us! The pureblood nonsense just doesn't hold good anymore, you know? Madam Minister herself is not a pureblood and she'd decreed signs like this to be illegal. Perhaps, I should file a complaint," finished the lady thoughtfully.

Pureblood? Madam Minister?

"Ma'am, if you could please just tell me-"

"Hold on a moment, dear," said the talkative witch kindly and screamed for a 'Jerry, you Pig!'.

And then, a short fellow with a bald head peeped out of a window over head, his long, silver beard puffing slightly over its sill. He looked tired, almost like he knew what was coming and shook his head as the little woman yelled at him to "keep with the times".

"Zelda, everyone knows that the board means nothing," he said almost robotically. "Wizards, witches, muggles, half-bloods. Everyone's welcome here."

Wizards? Witches?

"But the sign, Jerry!" the lady insisted. "I'll have to write to Ms. Granger, I'm afraid."

Granger.

Hermione.

Hermione Granger.

Jennifer suddenly felt breathless and the old witch noticed the blood drain out of her face, as did Jerry. It was like a veil had lifted in her mind and she began to remember flashes of memories, and pieces of her childhood had started to come back together she had forgotten even existed.

She sank to her knees and with a newfound awe, she looked around the street. It felt surreal because she could remember pestering Hermione about showing her some aspect of the wizard world.

"It's not allowed right now, Jen. But I'll take you there. One day. I promise," she had said.

Jennifer's eyes teared up and she began to feel overwhelmed as she let the witch guide her into the pub, while Jerry held open the door for her with a concerned look on his face.

The last thing she remembered was Hermione pointing her wand at her face, and muttering something. A spell, probably. But why had she done that? Then she remembered the empty house next to her own and began to wonder where the Grangers had gone.

"Are you alright, dear?" asked Zelda, sliding a glass of water across the table.

Jennifer chugged the water down and set it on the table before turning to Jerry and Zelda.

"I'm a Muggle," she said plainly, and both Jerry and Zelda started to laugh incredulously, until they realized that she was being serious.

"Oh, boy," said Jerry eyes wide, as he looked at the very worried Zelda. "Call the Ministry, Zelda."

"I see you haven't removed the sign yet, Jerry," came a cool voice from the door of the pub.

"Madam Minister!" exclaimed Jerry, standing up in shock as Hermione made her way to the table where they were seated. "The er, the enchantments-"

Hermione flicked her wand once and the sign came clean off into her palm, which she handed to Jerry who had come rushing over to her.

Lowering his voice, he muttered, "Madam, I'm afraid a Muggle has found her way into the street and-"

"A Muggle?" said Hermione, almost sounding like she was feigning surprise.

"Indeed, yes, madam," nodded Jerry rigorously.

"Well, don't you worry about it, Jerry," said Hermione. "I'll look into this. And be a dear and bring us a beer and a Firewhisky, will you?"

"Right away, madam, right away," said Jerry, scuttling away to his basement, a smug Zelda at his heels, gleefully mapping out a speech to tell him off.

Jennifer sat still in her seat till Hermione appeared in front of her, clad in ruby red robes. The same features she had from the last time Jennifer had seen her, except sharper now. She looked a little tired, and Jennifer wondered if it was because of light-reading that had kept her up all night.

"It was you," she said dumbly, as she stared at Hermione, who had taken a seat in front of her.

"Yes, yes it was," said Hermione with a small smile. "I owe you an apology. And I believe we have a lot of catching up to do."