Hey, guys, this was my first real attempt at writing a fic. It took me a few chapters to get into writing. the first chapters are fairly short anyway.
I will say upfront this fic will be a Harry/Hermione/? I am keeping the third person a surprise for now but she won't be a part of the story in their third year, but I'll tell you now it won't be a Weasley. which is a good note to say there will be some Weasley bashing in this fic but nothing extreme I'm not going to recast them as black hats but they do have a tendency to make bad choices even in Canon. There will also be some Dumbledore bashing and some Hevey Dursely bashing
This fic will start on the train home after their second year, and there will at least be referenced (maybe more depending on how I feel writing it) to consensual underage sex between our main couple but that won't happen before they finish their third year.
So warnings this fic will contain: consensual under-age between in school teens [not adults], violence, descriptions of child abuse [durslys], torcher
The sound of the train on the rails was the only thing disturbing the silence of their compartment. The two students were lost to the world as they rode aboard the Express as it whisked them back to the Muggle world for the next six weeks*. Harry Potter was doing all he could to focus on his bushy-haired girlfriend who was snuggled up next to him, and to not focus on the anxiety he felt over spending so much time in the 'care' of his aunt and uncle.
In all fairness, Hermione was doing an extremely good job of distracting him from his troubles. She had latched onto his side five minutes before and had refused to let go since, the gift he had given her that had sparked the impromptu cuddle time gripped tightly in her hand. The gift in question was a tartan hairband and a small cloth bag. Not much to look at on their own, but then that was the point. They needed to look normal so that no one would pay attention to them.
It had started last Christmas; it had been a rather simple plot to use Polyjuice potion to sneak into the Slytherin common room and find out who was targeting the Muggle-born students, before they killed someone or worse, got Hermione. It just went to show that even simple plans can go very wrong. They were unable to learn who was attacking students, unable to stop the attacks and worst of all, Hermione ended up petrified anyway. Oh, and thanks to a mishap with Hermione's potion his then friend, now girlfriend, was stuck with cat features.
It wasn't as bad as it could have been. At first, she had looked a lot more like a cat, but Madam Pomfrey, while being unable to reverse the effect entirely, had managed to restore most of Hermione's original, human features. She now only spotted cat ears and a tail, as well as a patch of fur that ran along her spine from the middle of her back down to her tail. The rest of her was back to normal, on the outside at least.
Harry didn't know all the details, but there had been some subtle, and some not-so-subtle, changes in his Hermione. A lot of it was easy to explain and dismiss, such as Hermione's preferred foods having shifted a bit. She doesn't dislike anything more than before but her fondness for fish, chicken and milk had gone up exponentially. Harry had noticed this, as before taking the potion, Hermione tended towards porridge and pumpkin juice for breakfast, but now she was beginning to alternate between that and kippers on toast* with a goblet of milk.
She also seemed to understand cats better. She couldn't talk to them like Harry could with snakes, but she seemed to be able to know what they wanted whenever they were around her. As such she had become quite popular with the cats in the Gryffindor tower. Hermione was also more of a hugger now. A lot more. Well, not so much more of a hugger than a longer hugger. At least with Harry. But then he was unsure if that one was a result of some cat instinct to snuggle into anything warm, or just a perk of their upgraded relationship. Either way, he wasn't complaining.
There were also the potions she now had to take regularly that she refused to tell him about, only saying that it was private and wasn't a problem. He had stopped asking after that but couldn't help but worry for her.
His worry had been one of the reasons behind the gifts. While they did nothing about whatever problem was leading to Hermione needing to visit the hospital wing every few weeks, it would help with her life outside of school and let Harry feel like he was doing something. The real gift had been the three small cloth bags, two of which were concealed in a tartan hair band. Each of the bags had an undetectable expansion charm on them. This meant that while wearing the hair band Hermione could easily and, most importantly, comfortably hide her cat ears even in the Muggle world. The third bag was loose and was to conceal her tail. With her gift and a few simple fashion choices, Hermione would hopefully be able to pass as normal in the muggle world, and not be stuck in her house for the whole summer hiding from everyone but her parents.
The compartment door opened, revealing the two youngest redheaded Weasleys. Ron and Ginny had barely been seen without each other since Ron and Harry had retrieved her from the Chamber of Secrets. The youngest Weasley had understandably latched on to her brother for support after everything that had happened to her, and after his fear of losing her that day, Ron was more than happy to be there for her.
If it hadn't been for Ron's reaction to Hermione's current appearance, the couple would have been happy to see them. As it was though the echoes of Ron's bullying of Hermione's feline attributes had had a huge strain on the friendship of the three. Harry and Ron had both stuck by Hermione in the beginning, but after two days Ron and Hermione's regular bickering had started back up. It wouldn't have been too bad but Ron had taken it too far, as per usual. He'd started making cat-based insults towards Hermione. This had gotten her so upset that Madam Pomfrey had banned Ron from the hospital wing.
That would have been the end of it but when Hermione was released from the hospital wing two weeks later the three were informed by Professor McGonagall that for brewing an illegal potion the three would be spending the next six Saturdays with her in detention. Ron had started complaining loudly to anyone who would listen, claiming that it was Hermione's fault that the three of them had gotten the stack of detentions, and then for Gryffindor losing the Quidditch cup because one of the detentions was the day of the match, leaving Harry unable to play.
That had pretty much been the end of the three's friendship. Hermione was sick of Ron insulting her and Harry couldn't believe he would single out Hermione as being the only one at fault. They had all agreed to the plan from the start; Ron had even known the potion was illegal. That would've probably ended their friendship for good if Harry and Ron hadn't set everything aside to save Ginny.
After that their friendship was strained but back, and the three doubted that it would ever again be as strong as it was at the start of the year.
It was Ginny show spoke up first, after a moment of awkward silence, "Hey Harry", then with a stiff but polite nod to Hermione, "Hermione", before turning back to Harry, "I just wanted to say thank you again before we get to Kings Cross, for everything. And I...wanted to wish you a good summer."
Harry shifted in his seat, a little uncomfortable with being thanked for what he felt any decent person should have done, "don't worry about it… uh... how are you doing after.. you know...", even with how nervous he was, he couldn't miss the shadow that fell over her face for a few seconds, leaving the bags under her eyes and the strain on her face even more noticeable.
She wasn't sleeping well, that much Harry knew. He knew because most nights, at least for the last couple of weeks, Ginny had come been coming to the second year boys dorm in the middle of the night and climbing in with her brother. Harry had heard her many times; she'd been crying herself to sleep.
"I'm... doing better… it's just..." Before she could finish her brother pulled her in close and just held her, comforting her without a single word. He must have been doing something right, Harry thought, because Ginny relaxed a little and was able to collect her thoughts, "Hermione, I also wanted to apologize again…" Tears closely threatened the red-haired witch, "I'm so, so sorry, I should never have opened that bloody diary and because I was so stupid, you and Colin and others were hurt and it's all my fault." By the time Ginny had finished her run on apology she had lost the battle with her tears and was openly sobbing into Hermione's shoulder, who at this point had crossed the compartment and hugged the first year as much as she could.
"It's ok, It's ok. I don't blame you. It wasn't your fault. And I bet the others feel the same as well", the comforting words seemed to do little good, however, as Ginny sobbed even harder, "They hate me. They all hate me! Even Percy hates me for attacking Penelope, he thinks I attacked her because she is dating him."
Hermione continued to comfort her, letting the witch cry onto her shoulder as Ron stroked her and back, "Gin, Percy doesn't hate you. If he hated you, he wouldn't keep asking me how you are doing. He is worried about you, we all are."
It took nearly ten minutes for them to help Ginny pick herself up. Ron and Hermione had done most of the heavy lifting as Harry didn't know what to say, but had done ok when he said that he "wished he knew what to say to help her feel better". Ginny and Ron had left after that to go, calm down and change into their Muggle clothes.
Harry and Hermione had changed as well. This was easy enough for Harry as he just pulled off his outer robes, revealing a baggy pair of jeans and a faded t-shirt that looked like Harry could've used it as a tent. Hermione however, had kicked him out of the compartment for twenty minutes while she changed. Apparently, Harry's gift had had the unintended consequence of making Hermione replan her whole outfit.
When Harry returned to the compartment, the full twenty minutes later, Hermione was wearing a Muggle tartan skirt and white polo shirt, as well as the hairband. Harry assumed that she was also wearing the bag over her tail as he couldn't see her tail anywhere. He inwardly grinned at her appearance; his girlfriend would be beautiful to him, no matter what 'extra' features she may have.
The two chatted about their plans for the summer, or lack thereof in Harry's case, and all too soon for Harry's liking the Hogwarts Express pulled in to platform 9 ¾. With all the enthusiasm of a condemned man Harry pulled his and Hermione's trunks down, bracing himself for the hell he was going to have to live with for the foreseeable future. Hermione took advantage of her last opportunity to do magic for weeks and cast a charm to lighten the trunks. That the charm was a third-year one didn't seem to matter to her nor did it surprise Harry that she knew it, she always had her nose half-buried inside a book, and he wasn't surprised she learnt more than him from them.
They each carried their trunks off the train to the line of carts that were waiting for the students who should depart the platform the Muggle way. They put their trunks on a cart with Hedwig on top and set off into King's Cross, the Muggle world and their families.
*Six weeks - in the UK summer holidays from school are only 6 weeks long. I have seen some stories give ridiculous lengths of time for the summer but most seem to use what I think is the American standard of 8 weeks but to be true to the setting it's only 6
*Kippers - kippers are smoked herring (an oily type of fish) and yes in the UK they are a breakfast food