“What now?” The question was keeping Hermione awake. School was over. “Ceremonial Graduation” they called it, although it seemed very unceremonial to Hermione. Unceremonial and Anticlimactic.
Everyone in their year was thrilled, but Hermione was disappointed. She had been looking forward to her last year at Hogwarts. She assumed that by the start of next year she would either be dead, or that she would be making up her last year. All her professors reassured her that “killing Voldemort” would look better on a resume than one more year of school. But Hermione liked school. She was good at school.
Harry and Ron were already planning a gap year trip. And of course she would go with them. She wanted to. She did. But their idea of a fun trip was not really the same as hers. Bits of it would be, but she wanted to see historical sites, and art, and they would just make fun of her for that. Ever since her first year she had been keeping that part of her bottled up a bit. Harry was her best friend, and Ron was…he was Ron, but their insults from first year still stung from time to time. She knew that they respected her cleverness now, and Ron had told her it was part of why he loved her, but still. She knew that sometimes it bothered him that she was smart. Its like he couldn’t see that it was such a big part of her, and it never occurred to him that the fact that she was smart didn’t have to mean that she was just a stereotypical nerd. She was constantly reminded of how much Ron and Harry didn’t understand her.
And then there were her parents. This was only her second night at home with them. She had lifted the memory curse and had to explain to them why it felt like no time had passed since the last time they saw her. They were crushed. Both her parents were soft spoken people, and the harshness with which they had been speaking to her since they found out hurt deeply. Her heart was already raw and she needed her parents so badly to comfort her. She had been holding it together for so long. She understood why they were mad, but she needed them! But she didn’t know how to tell them all of this, and so she had just been avoiding them. Her fists were squeezing the blankets and her jaw was clenched. She had to relax and try to sleep. She looked at the clock. Three a.m. But her body wouldn’t relax, and neither would her mind. She didn’t fall asleep until the sun was starting to come up.
She was woken up by the sound of loud voices. She went downstairs to find Ron and Harry in the kitchen, talking to her parents.
“There you are!” Ron exclaimed when he saw her, and folded her in a huge hug.
She smiled, happy to see them, and hugged Harry as well.
“We thought we would surprise you,” Harry said in response to her sleepy and confused face, “and come to finalize the plans for our trip! We were just telling your parents.”
“You told them? I hadn’t had a chance yet, and I’ve only just come back, so I was thinking…”
“Right.” Ron jumped in. “We were thinking the Greek islands first. Some sun and sand? And We’ve heard on some of the busier islands, they make this magical ouzo that…”
“Just some relaxing, right?” Harry interrupted. “We’ve certainly earned it.”
Hermione smiled weakly but didn’t look anyone in the eye.
“Hermione?” Ron said.
“It’s just that, I’m not sure…”
“We thought you wouldn’t be,” Ron said, “so we invited your parents to come meet up with us so you can all go to some museums.” He beamed at her.
They had it all planned. They had already thought of a perfect solution, the four of them.
Her father spoke gently to her for the first time in two days. “It would be a good time for us to reconnect.” Her mother smiled weakly in agreement.
Hermione couldn’t tamp down her anger any more. “No.” she said.
“What?” Harry said
“I said no. THANK YOU,” Hermione continued, the rage bubbling over now that she had let it out “I don’t want to just run away and have a relaxing trip! Plus my idea of a relaxing trip is NOTHING like what you two have planned. Did you honestly think I would be interested in MAGICAL OUZO?”
“Hermione,” her mother started gently.
“No, mom, don’t try to calm me down. You and dad are just as bad. You snap at me for two days, when I haven’t seen you in months, and I’ve just been through HELL, and now you just want to plan a wee trip together like we’ll all just be like lah di dah, everything is fine.”
“We know you’ve been through a lot, but so have we, this was a lot to take in.”
Hermione didn’t know what to say. She glanced at Ron, hoping he would step in.
“Your mum has a point, Hermione, this last while has been hard on all of us. Let’s just run off and have a bit of fun.”
Hermione gaped at Ron. He grinned at her with that lopsided grin he had. The silence hung around them all for a full ten seconds before Hermione broke it with a hoarse whisper.
“I don’t want to go anywhere with you, Ronald. Not ever again.” She ran straight out the front door without thinking. It was just the closest door. But then she had a thought. In one flourished movement she summoned her beaded bag, which was still packed, and hailed the Knight Bus. There was a new witch taking tickets, who didn’t even look at Hermione when she asked “Where to?”
Hermione hesitated with her mouth half open and then said “Hogsmeade please.” It would be the perfect place to plan her own trip.
She went up to the upper level, which was almost deserted, sat down, opened her bag and peered in, closed it again, and then burst into tears.