Hermione was sitting in her kitchen spooning breakfast into her mouth anxiously. She kept eyeing the clock and it kept teasing her. Just when she thought five or ten minutes went by it was only a minute or two. They said that they would be here at nine and they were always on time. She'd been waiting all week, and when the doorbell finally rang she had jumped out of her seat without being excused.
"You're here!" Hermione said excitedly. Lucius smirked as he looked down at her.
"Did you think that I wouldn't come?"
"Of course not. I'm just excited is all."
Lucius nodded. "As well you should be."
"Who is it dear?" came Mrs. Granger's voice.
"It's Uncle Lucius!" Hermione called as she let him inside. She frowned when she realized that Draco wasn't with him, but then curiosity got the better of her when she saw her uncle's hand behind his back and holding his wand.
He noticed and smiled, raising a finger to his lips and she obediently kept quiet.
Mrs. Granger came out and greeted him merrily. "Lucius! How wonderful to see you. I didn't know you were coming."
"I know. It was honestly a bit of a…spur of the moment endeavor," Lucius replied cordially. "Our little Hermione told my wife and myself the wonderful news, and I thought I'd take her to get what's on her school list."
"Oh, that's so generous of you, but really, it's no trouble. David and I were going to take Hermione ourselves. A professor from her school stopped by and gave us these magical…um…keys? They'll take us there."
"Ah yes, you mean Professor Dumbledore," he said as he took a step closer. "Hermione did tell us about him. Imperio!"
Hermione watched in amazement as a calm expression overtook her "mother." Lucius grinned maliciously as he said, "You think it's a good idea that I take Hermione Hogwarts shopping, don't you?"
"Yes," Mrs. Granger replied. "It is a good idea."
"And you will let me take Hermione Hogwarts shopping, without protest, yes?"
"And you will convince your husband that I should do so."
"Helen?" Mr. Granger said as he came out of the kitchen. "Oh, Lucius, how are you?"
"Fine, fine," Lucius answered. "I was just telling Helen that I'll take Hermione for her school things."
"That's good of you!" Mr. Granger grinned. "You really don't have to, though. I wouldn't want to put you out of your way."
"It's fine, David," Mrs. Granger smiled as she turned to her husband. "He came all this way after all. Plus, look how excited Hermione is to go with him."
"Please, dad?" Hermione begged with her hands cupped. Mr. Granger could never say no to his little girl and so he sighed and nodded.
"I'll go get the port-things."
Hermione jumped for joy as Mr. Granger went for the portkeys and Lucius freed his wife from his magic. She headed back into the kitchen and her "father" was back again with the portkeys wrapped in napkins so as not to be touched by accident.
"Here you go, Lucius. Don't forget your school list, darling," he added to Hermione.
"I won't," Hermione promised, seeing as the list had been in her pocket the moment she had dressed that morning. She hugged him and then grabbed Lucius' hand so that they could head out of the door. They would be apparating, she knew, instead of using the portkeys, and for that they would have to walk three blocks in order to make it to an alley obscure enough to disapparate from.
"What was that spell you used?"
"Curse," Lucius corrected, "and it was the Imperius Curse. Used to bend the will of others to your own use."
Hermione's eyes lit up. "I'd love to learn a curse like that."
Lucius approved with a gentle pat on her shoulder. "And you will once The Trace has been removed from you. It will no doubt work well to your advantage considering your future."
When they made it to the alley Lucius took out the portkeys and dropped them on the ground. With an Incendio the portkeys were destroyed. Hermione gave him her hand and waited eagerly for them to apparate. She had never been to Diagon Alley before which was why she frowned when she realized that they weren't standing in the place Draco had once described to her.
"Where are we?"
"Why not Diagon Alley?"
"For the very reason we haven't taken you there before," Lucius said as he led them wherever they were supposed to go. "Everyone goes there Ivie. If they see me, or Narcissa, or your mother with you then suspicions will be raised. Our association together must not be compromised."
"Is that why you didn't bring Draco with you?" Hermione asked. "Less people, less conspicuous?"
"Brava, little one," Lucius smiled. "Your lessons are being applied already. I'm actually quite surprised you didn't ask about Draco sooner."
"I was too distracted by curses."
"Brava again. Magic before boys until you are old enough."
Hermione and Lucius walked down a shady alley of an already dark street. The little girl crinkled her nose as they went. She had been to other wizarding towns and markets before, and while some were lively, most were none-too-friendly. She attributed it to the fact that her family was a little less than…savory. But honestly, did every person that did dark dealings have to live the way they were taught?
"Ah, Mr. Malfoy," a man with half-rotten teeth addressed her uncle. Hermione fought hard to keep an expression of disgust off of her face, especially when he set his eyes on her. "I didn't know that you had a daughter."
"I don't," Lucius replied curtly as they went up to the counter. "She is the daughter of a family friend. However," he paused to pluck a few galleons out of his pocket and set them before the vender. "For your discretion."
The man smiled and slipped the coins into his breast pocket. "Of course. How may I be of service?"
"The little one needs a wand. She will be attending Hogwarts soon."
"Wands it is. Describe her nature, if you don't mind?"
Lucius looked down at the girl to his right before answering, "Smart, resourceful, quite determined, and perhaps a bit stubborn."
"Uncle Lucius, I'm not stubborn," Hermione frowned angrily as she crossed her arms. Lucius chuckled.
"And temperamental," he added before his scolding. "Unfold your arms this instant. You are a young lady and will have the decorum of one."
Hermione promptly let her arms fall to the side. Lucius was pleased and turned back to the shop owner.
"I think I know the perfect one," he answered as he went digging around a back room. He came back with several boxes and picked up a rather crooked-looking thing and gave it to Hermione.
"Ash wood, unicorn hair, seven-and-a-half inches."
"Give it a wave," Lucius encouraged.
Hermione took a deep breath and did just that. She had aimed at a bookshelf and was more than a bit startled when several of the books exploded into pieces.
"Ah, not that one…" the owner said as he took the wand back from her. "How about this? Walnut, unicorn hair, nine inches."
Hermione took the wand from him and aimed for a wall this time. A light shot out and hit it, then she watched in amazement as part of the wall dissolved into nothing.
"Certainly not that one!"
"Perhaps one that does not have unicorn hair as a core?" Lucius suggested as he used his own wand to fix the wall. "It seems not to fit her very well."
"Yes, yes, it seems so. Well, how about this one?" he said as he replaced Hermione's wand with a new one. This time she smiled. Perhaps it was an incorrect description, but it felt like the wand was humming in her hand.
"What's this one?" she asked.
"Vine, dragon heartstring, ten and three-quarter inches."
"I want it," Hermione appealed to her uncle. "Can I have this one?"
Lucius was intrigued. "You haven't even practiced with it yet."
"I don't have to practice with it, but if you insist…" Hermione turned to the recently destroyed books. From basic magical knowledge she knew that she wouldn't be able to repair a completely obliterated object, but maybe just the one that was slightly damaged? She raised her wand at one of the books and went with her gut. The book pieced itself together and stayed neatly on the shelf.
"Well," Lucius said proudly, "I think that just may be the one."
"Hawthorn, unicorn hair," Draco said as he showed Hermione his wand. She giggled.
"Unicorn hair?" she said with a raised brow. "Really? For someone whose name is the constellation of a dragon I would figure your core to be a dragon heartstring like mine."
"Whatever," the blond huffed as he put his wand away. She loved to tease him and was quite enjoying the fact that his cheeks were turning red.
"Draco, can I ask you a question?"
"Better than anyone I know," he grumbled.
She rolled her eyes and plopped herself down on his bed. "What House do you think the Potter boy will be in?"
Draco, who had been packing his trunk for school, abruptly stopped. "Why?"
"I want to be friends with him."
Draco paused for a moment before he laughed. He laughed hysterically, waiting for her to join in, but then frowned when he realized that she wasn't.
Hermione nodded. "I am."
"My future," she said simply and then quoted, "'In the guise of a false friend.' That pesky prophecy didn't say who would be my friend or even if it's meant to be that literal. Regardless, if I'm supposed to lead the wizarding world, who better to be in the company of than someone who's famous?"
"How about my parents?" Draco answered somewhat angrily. "Or your mum —?"
"My mother is sick. As for your parents, I'm sorry, but no matter how much I love them no one trusts them. As well they shouldn't," Hermione smirked after. "I need instant access to everything Potter's going to have. Being his friend isn't something that I want. It's something that I need."
Draco huffed and messily threw a shirt into his trunk. "You're supposed to be my friend, Ivie. Hogwarts was supposed to be the place where we could finally stop hiding."
"We would never stop hiding," Hermione said seriously. "I'm a 'muggleborn,' remember? A friendship between us wouldn't work anyway."
"Oh, right," Draco replied sadly. "I almost forgot."
Hermione had been to King's Cross station before, but it had never been for any wizarding purposes. She felt rather excited now that wasn't the case. She was finally going to be fully immersed in the world that she had been forced to leave for the betterment of herself. She could also finally stop pretending that she didn't know magic existed. It honestly got to be quite exhausting.
"Are you sure that we're going the right way, dear?" Mr. Granger asked. Hermione nodded and made sure to stay ahead of them as she pushed her own trolley.
"That Dumbledore man said that I had to go to platform 9 ¾ and that it would be right between nine and ten."
"Like that makes it any easier to find?" he whispered to his wife. "We've been to this station hundreds of times and we've never seen any platform 9 ¾."
Hermione could hear her foster parents whispering, but she wasn't paying them any mind. Instead, she was focusing on a brick wall directly between nine and ten. Well, to be more specific, she was focusing on a woman standing right beside it. Her hair was a different color and there were some alterations done to her face, but the young brunette could recognize her mother anywhere.
"What are you doing here?" Hermione hissed. It wasn't in any negative way, her reaction. She was just truly surprised to see her, not to mention she was elated.
"I had to see my baby girl off for her First Year, didn't I?" Elena said as she wiped an unshed tear from her eye.
Hermione was trying her best not to get emotional. Aside from not wanting to cause a scene, it would be highly impractical to cry when she wasn't supposed to know her.
"Hermione?" her faux mother said once she'd gotten near. Her protective mother instincts had obviously kicked when she found her one and only daughter talking to a stranger.
"Oh, hello," Elena said as she stretched out her hand. "I just sent my own child off to the Hogwarts Express and was heading home when I spotted your daughter. She seemed a bit confused as to how to get through the barrier."
"Not surprised," Mr. Granger chuckled. "We're all a bit new to this. We're, uh… What was that term again, Hermione?"
"Muggles," Hermione replied, albeit a bit testily. She didn't miss the side glance from her true mother as a warning.
"Right. So, like I said, we're a tad new."
"That's quite alright," Elena smiled. "I'd be happy to help. All you have to do is walk straight at the wall. You'll go right through it. Go on. Give it a try."
"Us?" Mrs. Granger stuttered.
"Well, of course! I'm sure —Hermione is it? I'm sure she's just as skeptical as you. It would make a good impression to show her it was alright, don't you think?"
The Grangers shared a look before agreeing. They held hands and took deep breaths as they headed towards the wall and they did, indeed, go straight through without any harm. Elena finally let her facial expression become one of disapproval.
"Have I apologized lately for having you to live with them?"
Hermione grinned. "No, you haven't."
"Well, I am," Elena apologized, "but once you're where you're supposed to be in life it'll all be worth it."
It'd better be, Hermione thought to herself as she tightened her hold on her trolley.
"I'd better go through before the muggles think you've kidnapped me," Hermione half-joked. Elena nodded and allowed her daughter to head towards and through the wall. She followed right after and Mr. and Mrs. Granger were on the other side eagerly waiting. Their excitement was palpable.
"Oh, Hermione, look at the train!" Mrs. Granger exclaimed excitedly. Her husband shook his head at her amusedly.
"Helen, it's just a train. You've seen and ridden on plenty before."
"I know, I know, but this one looks grander, don't you think?"
"I suppose, but I thought you would be a bit more excited to see the owls."
Mrs. Granger gasped. "I didn't even notice!"
Hermione wanted to gouge her eyes out. Her surrogate parents' excitement was choking her and she couldn't wait to be on the train with other witches and wizards for whom all of this was a normal occurrence. Granted, as a "muggleborn" she should be sharing the same amount of amazement as her muggle parental units, but her excuse was simple: she read up on everything to know about the wizarding world so nothing was a surprise.
"See?" Elena said to Mr. and Mrs. Granger. "It was quite simple."
"Yes, it certainly was," Mrs. Granger beamed. "Thank you so much for helping us. Come, Hermione," she addressed her daughter, "we should get you boarded before the train leaves without you."
Hermione turned to her real mother, her face filled with a frown that the Grangers couldn't see with her back turned. Elena was holding up strong, but her internal resolve was crumbling.
"Have a marvelous school year, darling," Elena said, not really caring if the term of endearment was odd from a "stranger." "You'll do splendidly."
Hermione wanted to hug her. She wanted to squeeze her around the midsection, tell her that she loved her, and to make her promise to write every week. Instead, she muttered a weak, "Thank you," and headed with her things towards the Hogwarts Express. She kept her eyes open for Draco on the platform, but Aunt Narcissa told her that they would bring him early so as to keep themselves away from the Grangers. It was saddening. She had wanted to bid farewell to her Aunt and Uncle too.
"Alright, love, that's the last of everything," Mrs. Granger said, handing over her rucksack to sling over her shoulder. "Have a good time and do well."
"I will," Hermione replied before giving her and Mr. Granger a hug. She gave them a final wave and boarded onto the train. How happy she was to be shot of them. To finally be among her own. She smiled broadly and began looking for an empty compartment. Students were already here while others were still coming. She didn't want to go barging in on a group of strangers. She would rather be found if she was being honest.
"Lost?" Draco's voice came from inside one of the compartments. She stopped dead. As much as she wanted to see him, they weren't supposed to be friends. She already told him that!
"No," Hermione said as she stood in the compartment's doorway. "It's a bit hard to get lost on a train, don't you think?"
Draco grinned. "I guess so." He gestured to the seat next to him. "Sit."
Hermione could throttle him. He wasn't alone in here and was sitting across from two burly-looking boys and a dark-skinned one. She kept her anger at bay and played the innocent, ignorant schoolgirl as she accepted his request. However, as she sat and set her rucksack on the floor, she did manage to crush her heel into his foot. Draco scowled briefly in her direction, but she ignored him.
"I'm Draco Malfoy," he introduced himself with a hand out. Hermione took it.
"Pleasure," Draco replied before letting her hand go and gesturing to the others in the compartment. "This is Blaise Zabini, Crabbe, and Goyle."
Hermione had heard of all of these boys. Despite often spending time with Draco, the family had taken care not to have her meet anyone which would compromise everything she had been raised to achieve. And so, names like Zabini, Crabbe, Goyle, Parkinson, Nott, and etcetera were in her awareness, but very much without a face.
Although, she could certainly do without having these latter boys' faces in her memory. Perhaps it was why the snarky side of her had come out so easily.
"Crabbe and Goyle, hm? Void of first names, are you?"
The boys turned red. Blaise snickered into his shoulder. Draco, on the other hand, was all smiles before laughing.
"A picture-perfect Slytherin, wouldn't you say?" Draco beamed. Blaise nodded.
"I'd say so," he grinned. "You'll fit right in. I just hope your parents were in Slytherin too. I can just imagine the earful you'd get if you got sorted somewhere different than them."
Hermione kept quiet and smiled at his answer.
Author's note: I don't know why, but with the last line I have this picture of Hermione as the kid from the movie "The Orphan" or as Damien from "The Omen." Mostly the type of horror movie kid with a hidden agenda that seems suspicious, but you can't put your finger on it lol.
And thank you all for the love on the first chapter! I wasn't expecting it, to be honest lol. Just happy that you guys are interested!
Until next time,