Twelve-year-old Hermione Granger watched wistfully as her best friend trailed reluctantly after his corpulent relatives, though she was careful not to let the emotion show.
“Quit dawdling, girl. No time to waste.” Her father snapped from behind her, making her jump in surprise.
“Sorry, sir. It won’t happen again.” She said quickly, her heart beating fast as she darted around him to get into the backseat of the luxurious black sedan parked nearby.
Her mother, who had remained in the car, greeted her with a soft smile, briefly cupping her daughter’s face to hold her still.
“Hello, my love.” She said, dark brown eyes searching and troubled. “You haven’t been sleeping, Mia. And you’ve lost weight.”
The teen smiled at the affectionate gesture and greeting – the same one that Marigold Granger had given her since her return home from Hogwarts the first time, two years ago.
“Hi, Mum. I’m fine. Just already thinking about A-level exams, that’s all. I couldn’t exactly revise for them while at Hogwarts…” She trailed off hastily as her father scowled at her through the rear-view mirror.
The subject of her dual education was an ongoing battle between her parents. Mari, considered more of a Squib than a Muggle, at least had grown up with magical parents, so Hermione’s talents as a witch weren’t a surprise. Edward Granger however was a Muggle, through and through, and while he had grudgingly accepted his daughter’s uniqueness, still believed strongly in the value of a good, normal education to fall back on when tired of that hocus pocus nonsense.
So, they had compromised. Hermione was allowed to attend Hogwarts – as long as she also completed the exams necessary for her age in the Muggle world. Hermione knew that he expected her to attend Muggle university as well, regardless of what she wanted to do.
“Well, now you’re home and can focus on what really matters.” He stated darkly, as their driver moved them through city traffic. “No child of mine is going to swan through life without a proper education. I graduated Oxford, 2nd in my class, behind that snit Barbara Harris…”
Hermione relaxed slightly, resting her head on her mother’s shoulder as her father’s familiar litany washed over her. Her mother squeezed her fingers lightly with a wan smile, before returning her attention to her husband, answering his sharp query in a gentle tone. They arrived at a modest house in a rather upscale neighbourhood. The hedges and lawns were neatly trimmed, the cars sparkling in the sunlight. It didn’t have the cookie cutter, determinedly suburban feel to it that Privet Drive did – at least, according to Harry, since Hermione had never been to his aunt’s house – but rather reeked of ostentatious wealth and subtle snobbery.
“Well, get inside then; we don’t have all night.” Edward snapped, breaking her out of her thoughts.
“Yes father.” she replied quietly, watching as their butler, Stuart, removed her trunk with a grunt, letting it fall heavily to the ground.
Hermione winced, grateful for the built in cushioning and unbreakable charms that protected her potions ingredients and other materials from such harsh treatment. She turned her grimace into a weak smile for Stuart, who was old and sweet, and followed him inside.
“Dinner is in half an hour, Miss.” He called after her as she continued upstairs. She waved acknowledgement over her shoulder, continuing up the next flight of stairs to her bedroom.