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Everyone Loves Hermione

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Harry was sure to keep a low profile as him, the Dursleys, and Dudley’s friend Piers made their way around the zoo. This was his chance to relax for once, and he wasn’t going to spoil it. He made sure to stay quiet and polite, not wanting to anger his relatives with anything.

His relatives were even generous enough to get him a popsicle. Harry licked the treat greedily, never before being able to have one while Dudley and Piers got more extravagant ice cream desserts. If the ice cream vendor saw the difference in the way Harry and the two other boys were being treated, he didn’t show it. He jovially waved the family goodbye as the Dursleys, Piers, and Harry journeyed to the reptile house.

Dudley and Piers wasted no time in trying to find the biggest and most dangerous reptile to ogle. They came upon a brown boa constrictor who was lazily snoozing away. That seemed to anger Dudley, as he pounded on the glass while him and Piers yelled at the snake to move. Harry resisted the urge to sigh, knowing Uncle Vernon was keeping an eye on him.

“He’s so excited!” Aunt Petunia said adoringly, watching her son. Harry wondered when the zoo staff would come to reprimand Dudley and Piers as the snake continued to ignore them. Harry felt pity for the snake, as it reminded him of himself when he was locked in his cupboard. He couldn’t imagine it was very fun for the snake to have people tapping on the glass at it all day.

It seemed someone else shared his sentiments that Dudley and Piers were torturing the poor snake for a girl Harry’s age with brown bushy hair wearing khaki shorts and a jade green polo approached Dudley and Piers, sternly telling them off for disturbing the snake. Dudley and Piers gave her glares, and looked like they were going to push her, but the girl stood firm despite her small size, hands on her hips, tapping her foot. She huffed and showed a badge, saying something and it seemed to have gotten the boys to back off. They left the boa and went to go find Uncle Vernon and Aunt Petunia, no doubt trying to get the girl in trouble.

Harry watched as the bushy-haired girl turned to the glass, laying a hand against it and whispering to the snake. It appeared as if she was trying to apologize for its torment, despite it not being able to understand her. He looked around, seeing that all the Dursleys and Piers were busy, and made his way over to the glass where the girl was. He’s never seen someone stand up to Dudley before, and it made him curious.

“Oh, hello!” the girl noticed him, giving him a sunny smile, and Harry felt very shy. What does one say to a girl? He’s seen girls at his school, and they were usually too afraid to talk to him due to Dudley. “Do you want to see our boa? He’s sleeping right now due to just being fed, but he’s still pretty cool!” she told him.

“Err yeah. Sorry about my cousin earlier.” Harry murmured shyly but the girl heard him. She frowned at the mention of Dudley, and Harry cursed himself—why couldn’t he ever talk to people?

“No, I’m sorry you’re related to a horrid person. Some people don’t know how to act.” The girl said simply. Harry gaped at her, shocked someone else besides him said it. The girl mistook his expression as offense and blushed, trying to mend the situation. Of course, she is still terrible at talking to people!

“Sorry! I didn’t mean to sound rude! It’s just that the animals don’t enjoy being treated like that. I’ve been volunteering here for three months now, so I’ve started observing how the animals react to certain situations.” She said flustered.

“Erm no, it’s fine, really.” Harry said just as flustered, worried Uncle Vernon would come down on him any second with his blasphemous words about Dudley. “He is a terror.”

“Oh thank goodness!” the girl looked relieved, making Harry feel better he soothed her. He’s never seen someone being comforted by his words, and it made him feel happy. “I thought for a second I made a faux pau!” she held out her hand to shake, and Harry was stunned at her smile. “I’m Hermione Granger, by the way!”

Harry shakily reached out his hand, wary that any second she’d take it back and laugh at him, but she didn’t. She waited patiently as he made his hand touch hers. Her grip was soft but firm, and Harry found himself relishing in positive human contact for the first time in forever.

“I’m Harry. Harry Potter.” He introduced himself. “You said you volunteer here, Hermione?” he was curious. Hermione was ecstatic at the question.

“Yes! I went on a school trip here four months ago and unfortunately we didn’t really get to see any behind-the-scenes stuff or get to learn lots of knowledge so I decided to volunteer here to learn more and partake in the occasional research with the zoologists! It’s really fascinating! I’ve never thought I’d learn so much—for instance leopards hunt from the trees, jaguars love the water, an elephant actually can’t jump, and rhinoceros’ horns are actually made of hair!” Hermione blabbed on about animal facts. Harry contently listened, finding himself interested. He liked the way she was so animated when she talked about all she learned.

Nevertheless, Hermione seemed to have realized something for she stopped talking, looking embarrassed. She fidgeted, toeing the floor with one of her sneakers.

“What’s wrong?” Harry asked, wondering why she stopped talking. Hermione blushed, fiddling with her fingers.

“Errr it’s just, I realized I was rambling about stuff again. I tend to do that a lot—it makes my classmates really annoyed.” She admitted shyly. Harry sympathized—his relatives got annoyed with him a lot.

“It’s okay. I like the way you talk. It’s very expressive.” He told her sincerely. He wished more people would talk to him like that—like he was worth talking to. Hermione appeared unsure.

“You’re sure it’s okay?” she asked, afraid he’d turn around and say he was tricking her. Nonetheless, Harry proved her wrong.

“Yeah! Tell me about this snake, please.” Harry smiled. It was positively wonderful to have someone who wanted to talk to him. Hermione didn’t disappoint, immediately launching into facts about their boa constrictor.

“He’s native from Brazil, but he’s been bred in captivity.” Hermione told him, gazing at the brown boa. Harry felt sad at that. Hermione noticed. “What’s wrong, Harry?”

“It’s just… it has to be boring being in this cage for all your life and your only entertainment is people poking their ugly faces in at you.” Harry mourned. Hermione surprised him then, taking his hand. The contact was heavenly, and Harry’s entire face erupted into a blush.

“I see what you mean, but he’s very well taken care of, Harry. Though I imagine I guess even our snakes would wanna stretch their wings once in a while…” Hermione replied empathizing.

“You’re telling me. This place ssssssssucksssss.”

Harry jumped, whipping his head towards the glass where the boa constrictor was staring straight at him. Hermione glanced towards the boa as well, shocked it was paying them so much attention.

“I’ve never seen him so interested before…” Hermione murmured. Meanwhile Harry continued to watch the snake.

“Erm… Hello.” Harry greeted the snake.

“Bout time you noticed me. To busssssssy flirting.” The snake hissed. Harry’s face erupted into a red flush. He couldn’t look Hermione in the eye. Hermione grasped his hand tighter, wondering what he was so flustered about.

“Are you all right, Harry?” Hermione was concerned. Harry was too embarrassed to bask in her worry for him.

“The snake… he’s talking to me.” Harry whispered, afraid she would think he was crazy. However, Hermione gave him a curious look.

“What’s he saying?” she whispered, excitement laced into her words.

“Hey. Tell her to get me out and have her take me to Brazil! I like her voice when sssssssshe talkssss to me.” Harry was so embarrassed. Did the snake want to take a vacation with Hermione?

“Errr he likes your voice.” Harry said softly, too mortified. Hermione brightened. She turned towards the snake.

“Oh you’re so precious! I’ll be sure to sneak you extra food!” Hermione promised.

“No. I wanna go to Brazil with her.” The snake affirmed. Harry’s grip on Hermione’s hand tightened more. He didn’t want her to go far away to Brazil. She was so nice.

Before Harry could say anything, he was shoved out of the way, taking Hermione with him. He wrapped his arms around her to keep her from getting hurt, but they still ended up on the floor. Harry glared at Dudley and Piers, the culprits of the shoving.

“Move out of the way! I wanna see the snake!” Dudley cried. He pressed his chubby face against the glass, eyeing the snake like it was a circus. Harry’s eyes narrowed. He was used to being shoved, but shoving Hermione, the first person who was actually kind to him, was a great offense.

Suddenly, the glass vanished, and Dudley fell forward into tank. He was screaming as the snake slithered out onto the floor. The snake stared at Hermione and Harry, and Harry pulled her snuggly close to him, afraid the snake was going to abduct her. The snake huffed.

“Fine. Ssssssssshe’ssssss yourssssss ssssssince you freed me. Brazil, here I come. Thankssssss, amigo!” and like that the snake was off, snapping at people’s feet to get them to move. Everyone was in a panic that a snake was free. Hermione just blinked.

“Oh no, did I do it again?” she whispered fretting. Harry stared at her. Did she do weird things too?

“Does weird stuff happen to you too?” Harry also whispered. They stared at each other, not knowing how to proceed.

Loud banging on the glass startled them both from their moment and they turned to see Dudley screeching to be let out of the tank. Petunia and Vernon came over, panicked that their son was in the snake’s cage. Piers appeared freaked out as well. Meanwhile, Harry helped Hermione off the floor and got up himself.

“Mummy!” Dudley wailed. Harry snickered. Now who was the one locked up! Let’s see how he liked it!

Unfortunately, Vernon heard it and went straight towards him, intending to hit him. Nevertheless, Hermione surprised Harry yet again when she went in front of him, shielding him from Vernon.

“Move out of the way, young lady! That boy’s a freak!” Vernon demanded. Hermione refused to back down. She wouldn’t let Harry get punished for something she did!

“Harry did nothing wrong! And he’s not a freak! He’s the nicest boy I’ve ever met!” Harry was grinning ear to ear, blushing bright, at Hermione’s compliments and her defense at him. He didn’t think she could’ve been more perfect, but she proved him wrong.

“He locked my son in there!” Vernon snared. Hermione huffed.

“No! I did it. Your son and his friend were banging on the glass and distressing our snake, so I loosened the lock and it swung him in and swung shut!” Hermione lied. She couldn’t very well tell them the glass disappeared unfortunately. Vernon waved a finger at her threateningly.

“I will have your job for this! Where is your supervisor? I’m filing a complaint!” he promised. Harry’s hand grasped Hermione’s. He didn’t want her to lose her job when she enjoyed it so much. Guilt bubbled in his stomach. Regardless, Hermione didn’t stand down.

“Go right ahead, sir. I will also be sure to report of your ill treatment of Harry here as well. Are you his relative perhaps? I wonder what police will think if they heard you were trying to hurt a little boy.” Hermione said calmly. Vernon’s face turned purple while Petunia’s paled.

“Vernon, our reputation…” Petunia whispered in horror. Vernon’s vein throbbed at his temple before he made angry noises and turned away.

“Come along, boy! Piers, go get a staff member to get Dudley out!” Vernon ordered. Harry was reluctant to let Hermione go, afraid his uncle would ruin her, but Hermione stroked his hand with her thumb in reassurance.

“It’s okay, Harry. I’ll be all right.” Hermione gave him a gentle smile, and Harry believed her. He sighed in relief, sad to part from her, but knew he’d get in trouble again if he didn’t hurry to his aunt and uncle.

“Boy! Come!” Vernon bellowed.

“Bye Hermione!” Harry told her, rushing after his relatives. He would never forget her. She was the first person to show him kindness and treat him normally. She was the first to ever protect him.

She was his angel.

Chapter Text

It took a lot of stun Draco Malfoy. He was a wizard of noble blood, and therefore was taught composure was everything. His parents worked hard on drilling that into him since the day he was born. Always hold your head high, don’t let the those who are jealous or scornful get to you. If they do, be sure to make them feel lower than they already are. He’s lived by that creed since birth—he was not just a child. He was the future head of the Malfoy family—he would act like it.

Then a random girl comes running along and grabs him roughly, and Draco’s left flabbergasted at her pulling him along. They hide behind a wall in an alleyway, the girl checking for any pursuers while Draco just blinks at her before narrowing his eyes. She must be some crazy fangirl trying to get him to be her friend for his name. That happened from time to time, though none have ever been this bold as to actually manhandle him.

Perhaps he should’ve stuck with his parents after all. Diagon Alley was quite crowded since the new school year coming up. It would be Draco’s first year at Hogwarts, and he wouldn’t disappoint his family.

“Are you insane?!” Draco exclaimed at her. The girl turned, blinking at him. “I’m sure you think you’re smart, aren’t you? Well I’m not giving you any money and my father will be sure to put you in Azkaban for grabbing me like that!” he threatened.

The girl gave him a look, furrowing her brow as he went off on her. It only served to make him angrier. Was she inept or something?

“Do you understand me? My Father—ack!” she surprised him yet again, as the girl shot out a hand and her fingers clamped down on his nose, and his shoutings turned nasally. She grinned.

“That’s better. Now you know exactly how funny you sound shouting like that.” She laughed. Draco glared at her. “Sorry for the manhandling. It’s just my cargo has snuck into your bag while we were trying to escape, so I had to kidnap you or else they’d get him back.”

“Cargo?” Draco raised an eyebrow. The girl grinned, gesturing to his bag, which now that he noticed, had a distinct lump in it. He warily opened the bag, and was surprised to see a huge, orange fluff staring back at him peevishly. He made a face. “What kind of ugly creature is this?!”

The girl clamped on his nose again from the offense. Draco yelped.

This is Crookshanks, and I was trying to sneak him out of the pet shop because he was being mistreated, but he decided to hide in your bag before I could get him in mine. When you left, I ran after you so I could get him back.” The girl explained. “Now, apologize to him!” she ordered.

Draco glared. How dare this girl order him around! Does she not know who he was? Yet, a part of him felt curious. He’s never had someone speak so freely to him before. All the people his age always fawned to everything he said. This was the first time someone acted like they weren’t afraid of his father’s wraith.

“I’m sorry.” He said to the monstrosity. The thing meowed in satisfaction. Draco narrowed his eyes. The creature was enjoying this.

Before he could scold the thing, the girl let him go, and Draco was stunned at her bright smile. It was so carefree and innocent, and he could find no deceit or underlining motive. She came closer  to him, and Draco was flustered when the bushy-haired girl was close enough he could smell her shampoo. It was a nice vanilla scent, not overpowering like some of the girls liked to do with their perfumes, and he wanted to smell it more.

“Come here, you naughty Crookshanks!” the girl cooed, oblivious to Draco’s thoughts. The creature meowed in delight, as the girl picked him up and held him close. Draco glared at the thing purring in her arms, wishing that was him. His eyes widened when he realized what he thought, and his cheeks flushed brightly. “Anyway, thank you so much in assisting, even if you didn’t realize it!” the girl thanked him. She held out a hand for him to shake. “I’m Hermione! Let me get you something to thank you!”

“Errrr Draco…” he said, not revealing his last name. He found himself enjoying her interactions with him, as if he was normal, and it made him reluctant to change that. He took her hand and the contact of hers was warm, making Draco grin despite himself.

“Well then, come this way! I’m sure there’s some food around here!” Hermione began to lead him away, and Draco didn’t dare pull his hand from hers. It was too pleasant, and he couldn’t remember a time when someone was so openly affectionate with him. Hermione clutched Crookshanks in her other arm, who was busying himself with cuddling against her. It made Draco wonder if her hugs were as good as her hand holding but was too proud to ask her for a hug. He would not get hung up on a measly girl. She obviously wasn’t a beauty with her bushy hair and buck teeth. He knew she was beneath him—her lower quality of robes showed that.

Yet, he couldn’t bring himself to leave her just yet…

“Here’s some pastries!” Hermione announced excitedly. She went towards the stall, taking out some money to get him something. She looked a little confused, as if she never seen any of the desserts before, so Draco helped her by selecting a cauldron cake. She also purchased one for herself. They found a bench to sit at, and both of them ate in contented silence.

“I hope this is okay! I’m not usually allowed to have a lot of sweets.” Hermione sheepishly said. Draco waved her off.

“It’s fine. Cauldron cakes are good.” He reassured her, and he wondered where his kindness was coming from. Though she had went out of her way to thank him, so he argued it was okay to be nice, ignoring the voice in his head saying he was being nice cause he wanted to and not because he was obligated. Hermione gave him a sunny smile, and Draco couldn’t help but grin back.

“That’s a relief! My parents are dentists so they’re very strict on my diet. Wizarding pastries are even more foreign to me than regular ones.” Hermione explained. Draco felt his mind come to a screeching halt. Oh no… she was…

“Y-You’re muggleborn?” Draco spluttered. He was mortified. He let a mudblood be familiar with him! Looking at her closely, he saw her wearing muggle clothes under her cloak, confirming his suspicions. Hermione gave him a look of confusion.

“Yeah. My parents are muggles. Why? Is that a problem?” she was curious. Draco glared at her, wanting to trash the cauldron cake she touched when she gave it to him.

“You have dirty blood! Of course, it’s a problem.” Draco told her. Hermione’s eyes narrowed.

“Why do I have dirty blood?” she asked annoyed. Draco sighed in exasperation.

“Cause your parents are muggle! So that makes you dirty!” Draco argued. Hermione wasn’t amused.

“Did you test that theory? Did you scan a muggleborn’s blood and it came out more unhealthy?” Hermione quizzed him. Draco blinked. What was she talking about?

“W-What do you mean?” he demanded. Hermione sighed.

“I mean, did you actually take a muggleborn’s blood and compare it to other wizards who have magical parents? How else would you know if it’s really unhealthier otherwise? Did you look at genetics or DNA in a muggleborn and line it up with a pureblood or half-blood? Where is the science behind this?” Hermione questioned calmly. Draco blinked.

“W-well, no, no one’s ever done that…” Draco admitted, starting to feel stupid. Hermione gave him an amused smirk.

“So, if it’s never been tested, how do you know?” she repeated her question, still giving that amused expression. Draco blushed, despite himself.

“Well, I mean, I’ve always been told…” he tried to salvage the argument, but Hermione wasn’t going to let him preserve his pride.

“So, you just blindly believed someone who has no proof themselves?” she continued. “When you think about it, didn’t the first magical families also have muggle parents? The magic would’ve had to begin somewhere. It wasn’t always there or can you actually trace back magical lines to the dawn of humankind? Can you prove magic was always there?”

Draco felt really stupid the more she asked things. He never thought of those things. He just blindly believed his father and mother when they would tell him he was better than other wizards because he was pure-blooded, but listening to Hermione made him realize that perhaps he was talking out of his arse after all…

“When you put it like that, no actually.” Draco confessed, embarrassed at his behavior when she cut through his ideals like it was paper. Hermione smiled at him apologetically.

“Sorry for being harsh. It’s just that if there’s no research, it really sounds like a bunch of horseshit.” She told him bluntly. She then gasped, blushing. “Don’t tell my parents I swore, okay? They’ll make me wash my mouth with soap!” Hermione panicked. Draco felt himself wanting to laugh.

“I won’t tell.” He promised, chuckling, looking at her fondly. Hermione sighed in relief.

“Thank goodness!” Hermione breathed, placing a hand against her chest to calm her anxiety.

“Hey, Hermione?” Draco called. Hermione glanced at him curiously. “Are you going to Hogwarts?” he wanted to know if he would ever see her again. He prayed he would.

“Yes! I read all of Hogwarts: A History over and over many times! I’m so excited!” her answered filled Draco with happiness. She then gazed down at her watch, giving out an adorable squeak. “Oh! I have to go! My parents are waiting for me! See ya, Draco!” Hermione bid him farewell, clutching the giant Crookshanks to her small body. The fluff gave Draco a parting meow. He watched her until she disappeared into the crowd, a contemplative expression on his face.

“There you are, Draco.” His father greeted him. “Did you find a suitable owl?”

“I actually found a hawk we could purchase, yes.” Draco responded. He turned to his father with a pensive expression. “Father, how do we know muggleborns’ bloods are dirty?”

“Don’t be silly, Draco, of course they’re dirty! They aren’t from a magical line.” His father sneered, but Draco wasn’t deterred.

“Yeah, but have we ever actually studied that? How do we actually know they’re inferior besides parentage?” Draco continued, determined to get an answer. Lucius frowned.

“What are you talking about, Draco? It’s obvious. We don’t need to study it. We are purebloods and therefore automatically better.” Lucius lectured. Draco didn’t look convinced, and it made Lucius hiss. “Remember who we are, Draco! Don’t go sympathizing with commoners!”

“Sure.” Draco said, but Lucius could tell he wasn’t convinced. Lucius turned away, beckoning Draco to follow.

“Let’s get this hawk now, Draco. This place is polluting your mind.”

Draco followed, his thoughts full of Hermione and her words. She had been right after all.

He couldn’t wait to see her again and have her prove what else he believed to be wrong.

Chapter Text

Ron hurried along with his large family as they hastily made their way towards Platform 9 3/4 . Fred and George were, as usual, messing with him. Ron felt his temper flare up, but he knew his brothers would find a way to make it so their mom would reprimand him instead if he snapped so he kept quiet.

“Don’t worry Ronnikins! We’ll keep you safe for your first year!” Fred chirped.

“For a fee of course! Let’s say, be our test subject for pranks?” George followed just as cheery. Ron wanted to bite them.

“No thanks.” He mumbled. He felt Scabbers move around in his pocket, squeaking. He felt so embarrassed that he was given a hand-me-down pet while everyone else he was sure would have new animals for their first year. Not to mention, his wand was also a hand-me-down as well. Would people like him? Would he be able to make friends?

He was nervous as hell to say the least.

“Oh come on! Just let us use you for some teeny tricks! It won’t be embarrassing!” George tried to trick him.

“I said no!” Ron snapped loudly. Fred and George grinned, knowing they could get him now.

“Now now, Ronnie! That’s no way to talk to your brothers!” Fred scolded gleefully.

“We’ll be sure to tell Mum!” George warned playfully. The Weasley matriarch wasn’t paying attention—too busy conversing with her other children to hurry along. Ron’s face turned pale. Any smart Weasley knew to be afraid of their mother’s scolding.

However, before the two of them could scamper off, Ron felt someone loop their arm through his. He turned his face and was engulfed by bushy brown hair. He coughed a bit, and moved some of the voluminous hair, showing a girl with a stern glare that could easily rival his mother’s.

“Leave him alone, you bullies!” the girl snarled at his older brothers. They appeared to be shocked that someone so tiny was telling them off. Even at times their mother would not be so harsh these days due to knowing they wouldn’t listen no matter what she said. However, Fred and George composed themselves.

“Don’t worry, little mouse. We’re just having some fun.” George told her, grinning. Fred also grinned.

“He’s our brother after all.” Fred added. The girl’s eyes narrowed even farther, and Ron thought her brown eyes became molten amber with their intensity.

“Well, you’re upsetting him! So guess what? He’s my brother now. I adopted him. Good day!” the girl firmly said, dragging Ron with her as they separated from his family and hurried into the Platform, neither taking note of Fred and George’s stunned looks or Mrs. Weasley chatting with a black-haired boy. Ron just blinked in confusion. What just happened?

The girl huffed angrily, pushing some of her hair out of her face. Ron spit some of her hair out when it got caught in his mouth. She seemed to have realized what she had done and let him go, blushing in awkwardness.

“Sorry, you probably wanted to say goodbye to your mum. It’s just I hate people being bullied…” the girl told him shyly. Ron just continue to blink. This was the first time someone came to his rescue, and he didn’t know how to handle it. Not to mention, she wanted to be his sister. All his siblings often expressed annoyance at being related to him. He wasn’t used to it…

“Erm it’s okay. Are you really going to adopt me?” Ron asked in awe. She seemed nice. He always wanted a nice sibling that openly cared about him. The girl grinned at his question.

“I don’t mind! I’ve never had siblings!” Ron sighed in relief. It would be just the two of them then. He could deal with just one sister. “What do siblings do?”

“They usually annoy each other, but I say since we don’t like bullies, we should be nicer to each other.” Ron answered, giving it some serious thought. The girl beamed.

“Okay! So if we ever get into fights, we have to remember to be nicer than your other siblings are to you.” The girl agreed. It was a simple conversation, as if they weren’t speaking about something huge like adopting and disowning, but Ron and the girl didn’t think of it that way. Ron felt as if he finally had a friend.

“I’m Ron Weasley. What is your name?” Ron introduced himself, beginning to push his cart along. She fell into step with him perfectly.

“I’m Hermione Granger! I promise I’ll be the best sister ever!” Hermione hugged him tightly, and Ron squirmed.

“Not in public! We gotta be the cool siblings!” Ron protested, blushing, and Hermione released him quickly, sheepish.

“Sorry! You’re right! We’ll hug in private!” Hermione agreed. They boarded the train, immediately setting forth on finding a compartment quickly. Luckily, they found one in the back of the train, and settled down quickly. They surveyed each other curiously. “So when is your birthday?” she began.

“March 1st. I was born in 1980.” Ron answered. Hermione gave a squeal of delight, clapping her hands together.

“Mine’s September 19th! I was born in 1979! That means I’m your older sister!” Hermione was thrilled while Ron groaned in dismay.

“Don’t go babying me now, Hermione.” Ron begged. He couldn’t take more older siblings. Hermione laughed.

“Don’t worry. I won’t baby you—much.” She grinned. Ron gave another groan. Hermione patted his shoulder reassuringly. “You can baby me too, okay?”

“Alright. That’s fine I guess…” Ron let it go. Scabbers squirmed in his pocket again and Hermione’s bag gave out a hiss. Hermione paled.

“Errr you don’t happen to have a rat or toad, do you?” she asked tentatively, trying to shush the bag. Ron blinked.

“I have a hand-me-down rat, yeah. Why?” he answered. Hermione looked nervous.

“Can you put him in a cage? It’s just… err… I’ll show you in a sec.” she explained vaguely. Ron listened and put Scabbers in his cage. Hermione sighed in relief and drew the flap off her bag, revealing a huge cat. Ron did a double take.

“What the bloody hell, Hermione?” Ron gaped. Hermione frowned.

“Is this gonna be a problem?” she asked, hoping it wasn’t. Ron was her first friend for Hogwarts and he even agreed to be her brother! Ron shook his head, still eyeing the fluffy cat.

“No, we’ll just have to keep Scabbers and it away from each other.” Ron reassured her. Hermione sighed in relief.

“His name is Crookshanks. Apparently, he’s half Kneazle.” Hermione said as she lifted Crookshanks from her bag and allowed the massive cat to lay on her lap. The cat purred in pleasure.

“Apparently?” Ron parroted.

“Yeah… I didn’t really listen much to the salesperson. He was yelling at him and threatening to hit him.” Hermione explained.

“Oh so you just bought him?” Ron asked. Hermione looked embarrassed.

“Errr more like I stole him…” Hermione murmured. Ron stared for a few moments before bursting out into laughter. Hermione’s face flushed deeply. “Stop laughing! It’s not funny!”

“It is! W-what did you do? Hide him in your bag and hope the shopkeeper wouldn’t notice a small girl carrying a huge lump in her bag?” Ron was laughing hysterically, just imagining small Hermione lugging around a hissing bag. Hermione averted her eyes.

“Errr he hid in someone else’s bag actually. I had to kidnap them to get him back…” she confessed quietly, and Ron laughed harder.

“Oh man! You’re worse than Fred and George! I’m going to have my hands full with you as a sister!” Ron exclaimed in glee.

“I’m not usually one to break the rules…” Hermione argued weakly. Ron just grinned, ruffling her bushy hair. “Hey!” Hermione cried, swatting his hand away. Ron chuckled.

“Don’t worry. I’ll be your accomplice next time, okay? Siblings stick together, right?” Ron smirked. Hermione giggled.

“Yes. Yes they do. Or at least, we will.” Hermione agreed with his statement. The train began to move, and the two of them gasped in excitement. They were really going to Hogwarts, and they really were going to go together. To have someone that had their back was like a dream come true!

The soon began swapping information about their backgrounds, and their lives before each other. Hermione found out Ron was the sixth child in a family of seven children, and that usually caused him to be forgotten about or get stuck with hand-me-downs. Hermione sat right next to him and gave him a giant hug to comfort him, explaining that she was an only child, and often got bullied herself for being very bookish and not a pretty girl like some of her former classmates. Ron told her it was okay because he was her brother now and she didn’t need to be pretty to get friends—she was nice and helped him so he was sure others would see she was nice too. Soon, the conversation turned to their magical backgrounds, both curious about the other’s.

“So you are from a pureblood family?” Hermione asked. Ron nodded.

“Yeah, but don’t worry! We’re not like those other snobby purebloods. My dad loves muggles. He finds them fascinating.”

“So… that means you have never grew up with movies or music?” Hermione asked flabbergasted. Ron pondered that. He never realized that was weird.

“Well, I’ve listened to music, but in the Wizarding World it’s more instrumental. Not really a lot of genres or places to play besides pubs or big parties or weddings. And I don’t even know what movies are…” Ron answered, feeling nervous that Hermione would make fun of him.

“Just don’t tell that to my dad. He’ll make you watch Star Wars, Jaws, E.T.—I could go on really—for hours! I love those movies, but he marathons them like crazy! He’s constantly calling me young padawan!” Hermione groaned, thinking about her nerdy father constantly sneaking up on her singing the Jaws theme.

“Are movies bad?” Ron asked curious.

“Oh no! Movies are wonderful! My favorite is the first Indiana Jones movie! I love adventure movies!” Hermione told him. “They’re moving pictures with stories and characters! It’s like watching a visual book in a sense.”

“Oh! That sounds like wizarding photos! They move too!” Ron responded, glad he had a clue what movies were now.

“Really? Pictures move?” Hermione was ecstatic at the discovery. More knowledge was wonderful in her book any time.

“Yeah. Yours don’t?” Ron blinked. Hermione shook her head.

“No. They’re still pictures.” Hermione replied. Here Ron was amazed.

“Wow, that’s so weird!” he commented. He noticed Hermione digging into her bag. “Whatcha doing, Hermione?”

“I’m kinda curious.” Hermione said, bringing out a strange contraption. “This is a boombox, by the way.” She added, gesturing to the strange, small object.

“What does it do? Does this play movies?” Ron was intrigued. Hermione giggled, shaking her head.

“Oh no, that’s television! This plays music!” she brought out some shiny disks. “Since we’re siblings it’s crucial you too are obsessed with music.” Hermione told him, popping the boombox open and placing a disk in. She pressed some buttons and soon, sounds were playing out of the boombox. Ron was amazed.

“We usually just enchant instruments to play music! Is this enchanted too?” Ron felt his body vibrate gleefully in the music. “What’s this song?”

“It’s powered by batteries. My parents stocked me up with tons so we should be fine for a while.” Hermione explained. Ron didn’t know what batteries were but found he didn’t care, his foot tapping to the catchy beat. Hermione grinned. “This, my dear brother, is the King of Pop, Michael Jackson. Fair warning, my parents love him and so do I. This is his song Thriller.”

“I like it.” Ron was bobbing his head to the beat. He was already enjoying Hermione as his new sister. He had no idea who Michael Jackson was or what pop was, but his song was extremely catchy.

“There’s actually a dance to it too.” Hermione said. Ron continued bobbing his head and tapping his foot.

It wasn’t long before Ron and Hermione were singing together, bobbing their heads to the music. Ron didn’t remember the last time he had so much fun. He could definitely do this for the next seven years, and even the rest of his life. Hermione and him would definitely be the best siblings!

“Ron! What is that racket?” Of course, his family had to come ruin the fun in the form of forever-buzz-killer Percy Weasley. Hermione squeaked, embarrassed at getting caught doing something bad. Ron groaned. ”As a newly appointed prefect, I order you to turn off that infernal music at once!”

“Yessir!” Hermione yelped out, turning off her boombox quickly. Ron glared at his older brother. He wouldn’t let him bully his new sister Hermione, who had showed more consideration to him than his other siblings.

“Lay off, Percy! It’s just music.” Ron retorted. Percy gaped at his brother talking back to him before his face turned red.

“If I hear it again, I’m confiscating the object. Is that clear?” Percy tried to intimidate them, and Hermione nodded. Ron looked like he was about to protest, but Hermione shushed him. Percy left, satisfied he had the last word. Ron glared at Hermione.

“Why did you let him bully you? I could’ve handled it.” Ron asked annoyed. Hermione averted her eyes.

“I saw him with your family earlier, so I didn’t want you to get in trouble with your parents. Confiscating my boombox, fine, but I didn’t want him to get you in trouble at school and at home.” Hermione confessed. Then a flash of anger appeared in her eyes. “Also, I wanted him to leave quickly before I got expelled for kicking him in the nads.”

“Pfft” the thought of tiny Hermione kicking his tall brother in the nads was hilarious, and Ron felt his anger wash away. Knowing she did that to have his back was very comforting. He promised himself to always have her back too.

“Erm hello…” a shy voice said. The two of them turned to see a boy twiddling his fingers. He gulped when he saw he had their attention. “I’ve lost my toad Trevor. Have you guys seen him?” he asked timidly. Ron and Hermione shook their heads. The boy sighed in dismay.

“That’s probably a good thing, mate. Crookshanks likes hunting toads.” Ron told the boy. The boy blinked.

“Crookshanks?” he repeated. Hermione held up the giant fluffy cat, who hissed at the boy. The boy squeaked, flinching backwards. Hermione shushed Crookshanks and pet him to placate him.

“Sorry. He’s very selective. I’m surprised Ron and him are fine.”

“Because I’m a good brother for you.” Ron puffed his chest with pride. The boy blinked.

“Oh, you guys are siblings?” he asked. They didn’t look anything alike, but he was scared they would yell at him if he said that.

“I adopted him today.” Hermione grinned. The boy was even more confused but decided not to comment. “Anyway, you’re looking for a toad, right? We’ll help!”

“Y-You will?” the timid boy asked in disbelief. No one has ever offered to help him. Her words made him feel all warm and fuzzy. Hermione’s smile only served to farther launch him into Cloud 9.

“Yeah! C’mon Ron! Let’s go help…” Hermione trailed off, not knowing the boy’s name.

“N-Neville! I’m Neville Longbottom!” the boy introduced, his cheeks flushing red.

“Neville then. I’m Hermione and this is Ron. Let’s go then.” Hermione said. Crookshanks made to follow his human but Hermione stopped him. “No, Crookshanks! You’ll only eat Trevor. Stay here.” Crookshanks meowed in displeasure before staying in the seat. Satisfied, Hermione, Ron, and Neville left the compartment. Crookshanks watched his human go, not happy. He huffed, deciding to follow and left the compartment in search of her.

However, a familiar scent caught his nose and he made way towards it. Seeing the recognizable bag, Crookshanks shimmied into it smoothly.

Hearing his bag meow, Draco undid the flap and found a familiar whiskered face looking up at him. Crookshanks meowed innocently while Draco sighed annoyed.

“This better not be a regular thing, you cretin.” Draco said without any malice. He rose up from his seat and bid farewell to Crabbe and Goyle. “I’ll be right back. My friend lost her beast of a cat again.” A fond smile bloomed on Draco’s face at the mention of Hermione. At least now he had an excuse to seek her out. Crabbe and Goyle waved him farewell and Draco set off to go find Hermione.

------

“Okay, thank you.” Hermione said to a group of older students, shutting their compartment door with a sigh. She turned to her two comrades and shook her head in disappointment. “They didn’t see him either.”

“I hope he’s okay!” Neville was beginning to panic. “My Gran will kill me if I already lost him! She’s always yelling at me for forgetting things.”

“Don’t worry. He’s around here somewhere.” Hermione patted his shoulder in comfort and the boy stared at her in wonder, blushing brightly. Ron watched Neville suspiciously. He saw how nervous he got around Hermione, and he wondered what was his deal. He was staring at Hermione like she was a princess or something.

“Y-You’re right, Hermione! I just gotta have faith!” Neville was encouraged by her words, and they continued down the line, knocking on another compartment door. Hermione opened it, opening her mouth to apologize for the interruption, before recognizing the familiar boy sitting in the compartment all by himself.

“Harry?”

Harry Potter looked up at the familiar voice and he was face to face with his angel, Hermione Granger. Happiness flooded Harry, and he couldn’t help but give a shout in excitement, springing up from his seat and rushing towards her. Hermione squeaked as Harry embraced her tightly, and Harry took in her faint vanilla scent.

He couldn’t believe he was seeing his angel again! It was a dream come true! He had asked Hagrid to let him go to the zoo she volunteered at to try and find her before he left for Hogwarts, but then he found out she unexpectedly quit. The discovery crushed Harry, and he was saddened when he thought he would never see Hermione again, but fate must have been smiling at him for once because Hermione was here, with him, as she should be.

“It’s nice to see you too, Harry.” Hermione giggled, separating from him. Ron noticed Harry looked like he wanted to snatch her up again, and the redhead boy watched him warily. Like Neville, he too was weird to Ron. “Have you happened to see a toad around? Neville’s lost his.”

Here Harry finally noticed the two boys with his angel and a frown came upon his features. What was his angel doing with unfamiliar boys? He stepped closer to Hermione, scrutinizing them. Ron and Neville gave responding frowns. Neville because he felt Harry was too close to Hermione and Ron because this is the second boy who is being a weirdo.

“No. I haven’t. Sorry.” Harry shook his head, turning his attention back to Hermione. “Do you want to sit here with me, Hermione? We could catch up.” Harry gave her a boyish, shy smile. Ron and Neville noticed Harry only asked Hermione.

“I’m sorry, Harry. We really should be looking for Neville’s toad. Thank you though.” Hermione didn’t notice anything. She remained oblivious as Ron watched Neville give Harry a smirk of victory. Ron blinked. Was this the same mousy boy they were walking around with? He saw Harry narrow his emerald eyes in challenge.

“I’ll go with you, Hermione. Being in here by myself is boring anyway.” Harry said, following them out of the compartment. Hermione gave him a grateful smile.

“Oh, Harry, that’s so sweet of you!” Harry blushed at her praise. Ron continued to wonder if the two boys with him were mental while he watched Neville now frown. He stepped closer to Hermione, having the urge to back away slowly and have them run for cover.

The four of them made their way along the train before a meow sounded and Hermione blinked as a familiar blonde-haired boy held up Crookshanks to her face.

“I believe this is yours, Hermione.” Draco grinned in greeting. Hermione laughed, amused, eyeing Crookshanks. She took him into her arms and the fluff purred happily.

“Oh, you’re so naughty Crookshanks I swear!” Hermione cooed as all the boys watched her. Draco, Neville, and Harry were watching her with adoration and Ron was seriously calculating the odds of their luck encountering three mental boys. He wasn’t good at math, but he was sure the odds shouldn’t have been this great.

“Who are you?” Harry demanded the blonde-haired boy who was talking with Hermione familiarly.

“I’m Draco, Hermione’s friend. Who are you?” Draco glared back. Ron grasped Hermione’s clothes as she was none the wiser, still cooing at Crookshanks.

“I’m Harry. I’m also Hermione’s friend.” Harry retorted. Neville gave them both a glare.

“Well, I’m Hermione’s friend too!”

Ron watched the scene with caution. He tugged Hermione again, and she glanced at him curiously. He gestured for her to leave with him and she beamed, clutching his hand and they retreated away, Ron’s thoughts running wild.

‘Those guys are mental. Why were they all hung up on Hermione?’ Ron wondered. She was an awesome sister, so maybe they wanted her for a sister too? A frown came on his face. Too bad—she was his sister first! ‘No wait, that isn’t right. They were looking at her like Mum and Dad look at each other—oh no.’

Ron’s face paled as realization came to him. He groaned out loud, drawing Hermione’s attention.

“What’s wrong, Ron?” Hermione was curious. Ron turned and placed his hands on her shoulders.

‘Wasn’t boys liking her supposed to come way later?!’ Ron groaned again before speaking.

“Hermione, when we get to Hogwarts, I’m teaching you how to throw a right hook.” Ron said seriously.

“Why’s that?” Hermione blinked.

“Because if any more of our classmates are anything like those three, we’re surrounded by mental people.”

Chapter Text

The train couldn’t have gotten to Hogwarts fast enough, in Ron’s opinion. Luckily, he was able to have him and Hermione hide out from her admirers successfully. Hermione didn’t really question him, and Ron was grateful. He didn’t want to have to explain to Hermione the “boys only want one thing” conversation until years from now.

Preferably many many years from now.

Ron peaked hesitantly outside the compartment before grabbing Hermione’s hand gently and ushering them out of the train. Hermione raised an eyebrow while her newly adopted brother was looking around, as if paranoid something was going to jump out at them.

“Oh come now, Ron! You’re acting like something’s going to eat us!!” Hermione then began dragging him behind her as they hurried off the train. Ron spluttered.

“Sssh! Hermione don’t speak so loud.” Ron hushed her, glancing around warily. He hoped those boys haven’t memorized Hermione’s voice yet. Hermione scoffed.

“Why did I end up with a weird brother?” Hermione rolled her eyes as they blended in with the other students. Soon, her lips lifted into a teasing smirk. “If I didn’t know any better, Ron, I’d say you were hiding from someone.”

“Errr more like hiding you really…” Ron murmured, his blue eyes flickering back and forth, alert for signs of the three boys from earlier.

“Hmm? Did you say something, Ron?” Hermione wasn’t paying attention, too busy trying to navigate the crowd of students. Ron’s eyes widened when he caught sight of platinum blonde hair and raced to hurry Hermione forward.

“Look! There’s a giant over there calling for all the first years! Let’s go!” Ron ushered her towards the really big, burly man calling for every first year student to gather around him.

“first ‘ears! First ‘ears here!” the giant man bellowed. Ron and Hermione hastily made their way to the big fellow. He grinned down at the two of them in a welcoming manner. “’Ello there! Off to the boats for the two of ya!” he gestured to the boats at the docks. Not wanting to risk Hermione being surrounded by mental people, Ron nudged her along gently. They were joined by other students they didn’t recognize, which was great in Ron’s books.

Soon, the boats were off, and Ron forget about protecting Hermione, the wonderous view of Hogwarts distracting him. Hermione excitedly tugged on his uniform sleeve as she pointed towards a giant tentacle breaching the surface of the Black Lake in the distance.

Well, at least he knew where to dump the bodies of those who hurt Hermione now…

As if reading his thoughts, Hermione gave him a scolding look. Ron tried to look innocent, not wanting her to know exactly what he was thinking, knowing she’d make a big deal about it. It was a brother’s responsibility to protect their sibling. And Ron Weasley was going to be the best brother he could be to Hermione Granger.

It wasn’t long before they were travelling through the halls of Hogwarts towards the Great Hall. Before the closed doors stood a stern looking woman in her fifties. Hermione squeaked beside Ron, clearly recognizing the woman. The woman eyed Hermione, and if you looked closely, you could see the spark of fondness the older woman had gazing at the young bushy-haired girl. Once everyone ceased walking, the woman cleared her throat.

“Welcome to Hogwarts. I am Professor Minerva McGonagall, head of Gryffindor house. Beyond here is the Great Hall, where you will go through the Sorting Ceremony and then be sorted into your houses. The houses are as followed: Gryffindor, Hufflepuff, Ravenclaw, and Slytherin. Once you are sorted, that house will be like your family for the next seven years, and hopefully you will make friends that stay with you years beyond Hogwarts.” Ron and Hermione exchanged grins at her speech. “If you will excuse me for a moment, I will alert Professor Dumbledore, our headmaster, of your arrival.” Professor McGonagall excused herself, and the first years were left to converse amongst themselves.

“You know anything about the houses?” Ron asked Hermione.

“I’ve read about each of them over the summer. Gryffindors are usually known for their bravery and fighting spirit. Hufflepuffs are known for their patience and loyalty. Ravenclaws are praised for their intellect and studious nature and Slytherin is regarded as the house of cunning and ambitious.” Hermione recited casually. Then she looked sheepish, “I’ve practically memorized Hogwarts, A History…”

“You like to read a lot, right?” Ron asked her, and Hermione nodded. Here, he looked troubled. “What if you end up in Ravenclaw? All my brothers ended up in Gryffindor so I will probably end up there.” Ron began to worry. What if Hermione ended up bullied or something and he wasn’t there to protect her? Would she tire of him and not want to be his sister anymore if she found smarter people like her?

“Don’t fret. We’re still going to be the best siblings ever!” Hermione rushed to reassure him, giving him a bright smile. She took his hand and patted it softly. “Though I’m really hoping we end up in the same house.”

“I-I hope we get in the same house too, Hermione!” Neville chimed in. Ron wanted to groan. Of course, these buggers would show up…

“What house are you hoping to get in, Hermione?” Harry asked, joining in their conversation. Ron wanted to bang his head against the stone walls. Harry’s emerald eyes were bright with eagerness to know Hermione’s thoughts.

“Well, I don’t mind any house, but I guess my choice is Gryffindor.” Hermione gave a grin to Ron who smiled back, his worries fading. Hermione was definitely going to have his back.

“That’s okay, I guess.” Draco came up, some of the other students were watching the group chat. Hermione figured Draco must be someone of importance, at least that was how some of the students were watching him while others looked wary. “I’m still going to be your friend.” He promised her.

“What house are you going to get in, Draco?” Hermione asked. She was curious—maybe he didn’t like Gryffindor?

Draco looked a little nervous, and Ron narrowed his eyes. He knew Draco Malfoy from the Malfoy family. His father was always telling him how the Malfoys were stuck up and helped out You-Know-Who in the last war. He didn’t know why the guy was coming near Hermione, but he didn’t like it.

“He’s going to be in Slytherin, of course!” Ron hissed before Draco could answer. Ron moved in front of Hermione slightly. “It’s full of dark wizards in training! It’s best to stay away from him.” Ron advised Hermione. Draco winced, watching for Hermione to confirm Ron’s words from their conversation about blood purity before in Diagon Alley.

However, Hermione Granger was still full of surprises it seems, for she let out a noise of frustration and pushed past Ron and stood between him and Draco.

“Ronald Weasley, you may be my brother, but you will not tell me who I can and can’t hang out with! Just because he would be in Slytherin doesn’t mean he’s automatically bad! And if you bully him for being solely in Slytherin I will not let you listen to my Michael Jackson CDs anymore.” Hermione placed her hands on her hips and Ron paled at her anger. Hermione was terrifying.

“I thought you were a muggleborn, Hermione.” Draco stated, his brows furrowing in confusion. Since when was she related to Weasley?

“I adopted him today! And that means—” Hermione’s eyes narrowed at Ron—”he is not exempt from scolding.”

Being scarily reminded of his mother, Ron gulped. All of the first years were watching them all in interest. Finally, he huffed, his ears turning pink at all the attention.

“Yes, Hermione.” Ron conceded. He glared at Malfoy who was smirking smugly behind Hermione. Ron had the distinct urge to hit him. Draco paid him no mind and turned to Hermione, taking her hand softly. Everyone, especially Harry, Neville, and Ron, zeroed in on the sight, frowns on their faces.

“Still friends even if we’re in rival houses?” Draco smirked at her. Hermione smirked back.

“Of course—just don’t be sour when I make top of the year.” Hermione stated. Draco laughed, shaking his head.

“We’ll see about that. Though you always seem to surprise me.” He gave her hand a squeeze. The three boys were about to jump on Draco before Professor McGonagall returned. Draco released her hand hurriedly, but not one first year missed the exchange.

“We’re ready for you all.” With that, the doors opened, and the first years were in awe at its size and the enchanted ceiling. Hermione stuck close to Ron, whispering more facts about Hogwarts that she knew from her books to him as he nodded along, still eyeing Malfoy in distrust. He wasn’t the only one—Harry and Neville were also eyeing Draco in distaste, and the blonde boy gave a sneer in return.

At the front of the room where the professors sat, there was a ratty old hat that rested on a stool. All the first years eyed it curiously, wondering its purpose. Soon, the hat came to life and sung a song about all the houses. When it was finished, Professor McGonagall held up a scroll.

“When I call your name, you will come up here and place the sorting hat on your head. Then, the hat will decide your house and you may go to your house table.” McGonagall examined the scroll. “Abbott, Hannah!”

And just like that, the sorting began. The hat screamed “HUFFLEPUFF!” and the Hufflepuff table clapped happily. The little girl hurried to her house table excitedly. Ron and Hermione held their breath as more students got called to be sorted. Soon, there was a “Bulstrode, Millicent!” and the first “SLYTHERIN!”

However, instead of just cheers from the Slytherin table, there was some booing from the Gryffindors. Hermione gaped as she saw who she recognized as Ron’s brothers booing the poor girl, who looked embarrassed. Without thinking, Hermione raced up and everyone was astonished to see the bushy haired girl hurry to the stocky girl’s side and walk her to the Slytherin table, giving a glare to anyone who dared make fun of Millicent. Draco felt his cheeks warm at the fact that Hermione was defending his house while Harry and Neville looked starstruck and every older year stare in awe. They’ve always booed the Slytherins. Was this girl a blood purity sympathizer?

As soon as Millicent was seated, Hermione hurried back to her spot next to Ron. Fred and George recognized her instantly as the girl who pulled Ron away from them at the Platform while other students just registered Ron’s red hair being a Weasley trademark. Professor McGonagall blinked out of her stupor and cleared her throat, continuing.

To everyone’s surprise, it wasn’t an isolated incident. Every time a first year was sorted into Slytherin, the bushy haired girl would hurry to them, link arms, and escort them essentially to the Slytherin table. It was even more confusing when the girl’s name was called, and they realized Hermione Granger was a muggleborn.

Ron groaned while smiling and rolling his eyes. He knew he couldn’t stop Hermione from doing what she wanted, but he hoped this didn’t get her targeted by some people.

The Slytherins were the most shocked. Why was a mudblood trying to protect them? A lot of the older slytherins were used to the treatment of the other houses, and knew no one could really do anything about it, but here was a muggleborn trying to help their newly crowned snakes. It positively flabbergasted them.

When Hermione’s name was called, she raced up to the stool and practically jammed the hat on her head. Some people found it endearing while others laughed mockingly at her. Ron, Harry, Neville, and Draco glared at anyone mocking Hermione.

‘Hi! Mister Hat?’ Hermione called in her mind.

‘Haven’t been called Mister Hat before I have to say.’ The hat whispered in her mind. Hermione jumped a bit, not expecting the hat to talk into her mind. ‘Ah yes, a very bright mind! You’d do well in Ravenclaw! Very fair as well—would make a nice Hufflepuff. But oh! Your cunning!’

‘Um actually, Mister Hat, I was wondering if you could put me into Gryffindor, please?’ Hermione asked politely.

‘The house of lions? Hmm yes… you are quite the lioness—always willing to stand up for people. May I ask why Gryffindor?’ the Sorting Hat questioned. Here, Hermione fidgeted and blushed.

‘This is very embarrassing, but I made a really good friend, Mister Hat, and most likely he’s gonna end up in Gryffindor. I don’t want to be separated!’ Hermione was distressed.

‘I see. I see. Very well then…’ “GRYFFINDOR!”

Hermione beamed as the hat was removed, her eyes searching for Ron’s. He gave her a thumbs up and she rushed towards the Gryffindor table happily. Ron’s twin brothers were gesturing for her to sit with them. She eyed them warily, approaching the Weasley twins with trepidation. When she sat between them, the two lowered their heads to her level.

“Well of course you’d be a lion! You’ve certainly given our mum a run for her money with your temper! Isn’t that right, Gred?” one of them said.

“I agree, Forge. She’s even off defending bloody snakes from us! This mouse is certainly a terror!” the other chimed in gleefully.

“Hush you two! I’m trying to listen.” Hermione shushed the Weasley twins, who simply grinned at her feistiness. Hermione continued her escorting any Slytherins to the Slytherin table, despite already being sorted. At having now been confirmed that she wasn’t a blood sympathizer, Hogwarts was even more confused at her treatment at trying to be welcoming to the first year snakes, especially when she belonged to the rival house.

“Longbottom, Neville!”

Neville made his way towards the hat, letting the professor place it on his head.

‘Ah, a Longbottom, ey? Interesting…’

‘Um, could I be in Gryffindor?’ Neville interrupted the hat.

‘I’m sorry… what?’

‘W-well I want to be with Hermione!’ Neville told the hat.

‘I wasn’t aware you were the friend Miss Granger spoke of…’

‘I am her friend!’ Neville told him sternly.

‘Alright, then.’ “GRYFFINDOR!”

Neville let out a squeak of excitement, racing towards Hermione. He wanted to sit next to her but the two redheaded boys she was sitting in between weren’t too keen to move. Instead, Neville sat beside one of the boys, trying to be as close to Hermione as he could.

More names were shouted out, and Hermione paid close attention when Draco’s name was called. The blonde boy sauntered up the steps towards the hat and calmly let the hat be put on his head.

‘Very cunning! Very ambitious! You want to achieve greatness—very good mind as well!’ the hat praised in Draco’s ear. Draco’s eyes strayed to Hermione’s and the hat tutted. ‘But there’s someone you want…’

Draco sighed, resigned. He wanted to be with Hermione, he really did, but he knew he wouldn’t make a good Gryffindor, nor would his family approve. However, going to Slytherin meant he could hopefully set forth the idea that blood purity needs to actually be studied and perhaps it’s not all true like their parents put forth to them. Also, he could protect Hermione from the Slytherins if he rose up in the ranks. A Malfoy was an important ally to have, and he’d use all his resources to make sure Hermione was safe in Hogwarts, and eventually, out in the Wizarding World.

‘I see, you’re hoping to set forth change for someone important. Nothing more ambitious than that…’ “SLYTHERIN!”

As she had done with every single Slytherin, Hermione rushed to his side, linking their arms. Draco gave her a sad smile, but Hermione squeezed his arm in reassurance, and they Draco walked proudly to the Slytherin table, presenting to everyone he wasn’t ashamed of Hermione. He hoped he could convince Slytherin they didn’t need to be ashamed either. Hermione released his arm and his fingers brushed her, his touch lingering, before Hermione raced off to the Gryffindor table. He then turned to his fellow snakes.

“I don’t know why she keeps doing that. I’ve never had a girl escort me before.” Daphne Greengrass spoke quietly.

“I liked it. She seems nice, despite being a Gryffindor.” Millicent added. Vincent Crabbe and Gregory Goyle nodded with her.

“It seems like we’re not well-liked here unfortunately.” Draco conceded, eyeing the other tables giving them dismissive looks.

“You get used to it!” an older slytherin told them, eavesdropping on their conversation. “The other houses hate our house, but that’s on them! It’s not our fault we’re the purest of the pure! That mudblood is probably trying to kiss up to us.” The older boy sneered.

“How do you know?” Draco narrowed his eyes, not liking how he addressed Hermione.

“Well, we’re all from affluent families, of course! Mudblood probably wants to get up in the world. Though with her looks, she’s gonna need all the help she can get.” Some other older slytherins burst out laughing at his statement.

“Have you ever looked at a muggleborn’s blood?” Draco asked. The older slytherins blinked at him.

“What?”

“Her blood. Or any muggleborn’s blood for that matter. Did you ever take their blood and compare it to a pureblood’s? Did the Sacred Twenty-Eight actually ever do studies and prove muggleborns or half-bloods were inferior to purebloods, magic wise?” Draco crossed his arms, eyeing them critically.

“Well… I mean, your family is one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight! You would know that, right?” the older student ventured.

“Yes, and from what I’ve seen, no one has actually done research on the subject besides tracing back family genealogy. There hasn’t been one study comparing magical quality or intelligence between all the blood types. Sounds like it’s possibly full of bollocks.” Draco scoffed. Everyone at the Slytherin table within earshot stared at him. He gave them a sneer. “We’re supposed to be the most cunning house, right? But by advocating for something that our elders didn’t do full research on sounds like we’re idiots! We’re no better than dumb Gryffindors who act before they think. Do you want to be like Gryffindors or do you want to be as great as Slytherin?” Draco challenged them.

The table of snakes had thoughtful looks on their faces, considering his words. The Malfoy family was indeed one of the oldest houses, even almost as old as the Blacks. If a Malfoy was saying these things, it had to carry some weight. Some of the Slytherins began whispering to themselves, asking for confirmation that there wasn’t really any research besides the lineage of purebloods. It wasn’t long before many of them realized that indeed, the Malfoy boy was right—none of them ever encountered research besides family trees. Were the purebloods really that daft to not do any other research?

“Come to think of it, there has been cases of muggleborns in our house.” An older slytherin girl mused, everyone listening around her. “Salazar Slytherin believed mud—muggleborns were inferior, and yet some ended up in his house? In addition, no one’s ever studied the houses all together either. We’ve won the House Cup and Quidditch Cup for many years, but like, no one’s ever sat down and asked why—there’s tons of variables that could factor into that besides blood purity.” The girl spoke.

“Come off it, Astrid!” Marcus Flint scoffed, rolling his eyes. “You guys are sounding like Ravenclaws! It’s obviously because of blood purity!”

“But there’s no data to prove that, Marcus!” Adrian Pucey, a third year Slytherin, chimed in. “Malfoy’s right! We sound like idiots if there’s nothing to back up our claims!”

“And also, think of it like this—we Slytherins thought of these questions before Ravenclaws—the supposed house of intellect! I’d say that’s something worth looking into, if not for the whole fact of we, the supposed house of bigotry, actually did an unbiased study. The other houses wouldn’t know what to do with themselves!” Artemis, Astrid’s twin, spoke.

“We also can’t use the last couple of years as data—we may have won the house cup, but let’s face it. Hogwarts has unfair favoritism—often the teachers don’t play fair. We can’t use past point records since points are delivered technically from biased sources.” Astrid explained. Other slytherins nodded along with her.

“You guys really want to disprove what our ancestors set forth?” Marcus eyed them.

“Not disprove per say, but at least find out the truth. If magical power and intellect is not based on blood purity, we’d be opening ourselves to a lot of options. My mom works at St. Mungo’s and she was telling me it’s getting harder and harder for pureblood families to conceive or have full-term pregnancies due to lots of inbreeding over the years.” Another boy Slytherin appeared troubled. The others around him winced.

“A lot more diversity in the blood would maybe be good for us.” Draco spoke, everyone turning their attention to him. “I don’t know about you all, but I’ve found that lots of inbreeding leads to other problems.”

“He’s not lying.” The boy from before said. “Apparently if this keeps up, we’ll be opening ourselves up to a lot of possible deformities and defects—at least that’s what mom says.”

“I’m actually a half-blood.” First year Tracey Davis spoke up. Everyone eyed her and she blushed, fidgeting. “My mom’s family actually had a lot of problems and then my mom married my dad and I turned out perfectly healthy unlike my cousins who are pureblooded.”

“So what you’re saying is you want to all reproduce with mudbloods and half-bloods?” Marcus hissed.

“If our research proves that magical prowess depends on the individual and not blood lineage, then yes.” Draco narrowed his eyes. Everyone at the Slytherin table listened attentively. “Besides, imagine the look on everyone else’s faces. Slytherins are marrying outside purebloods? Why, we’d give all those who sneered at us heart attacks!” all the slytherins nodded with each other, smirking at the thought.

“I for one would love to shut up the Gryffindors.” Theodore Nott joined in on the conversation. He was escorted by Hermione a little while ago. He gave a glare at the Weasley twins who were trying to cozy up to Hermione. “The booing is getting obnoxious. Not to mention, they’re not getting reprimanded for it. Aren’t we supposed to be also working towards inter-house unity?”

“Please, Dumbledore’s been saying that for years, but we all know he’s full of it—he really means the other three houses bond while Slytherins get ganged up on.” Marcus snorted.

“Well then imagine the look on his face when it’s the house he discriminates against being the ones to set forth change.” Draco pointed out. Marcus appeared thoughtful here. “Times are changing, Flint. We can either be the leaders of it or get left behind in the dust as everyone moves forward.”

Before any Slytherins could reply, another name was called, this one catching everyone’s attention.

“Potter, Harry!” McGonagall called, and everyone watched in anticipation as the scrawny black haired boy made his way to the hat. Some whispered they hoped he’d end up in their house while others wondered where he had been all these years. As for Draco, he frowned. He knew Harry liked Hermione too, and honestly, Draco had to admit probably the boy could give him serious competition with his reputation, but he just had to hope he didn’t end up in the same house as Hermione.

For Harry, he was nervous as the hat was placed on his head. Everyone was staring at him. He managed to catch Hermione’s eye, and she gave him an encouraging smile, mouthing ‘you can do it!’

‘Ah yes! Very loyal, not a bad mind either! You would stand up for what’s right, but you also know sometimes brute force isn’t the way to go! Now… where to put you?’

‘Is it possible I can go to Gryffindor?’ Harry requested politely. The hat paused.

‘Ah! You want to be with Miss Granger!’ the hat exclaimed after probing his mind. Harry blushed, shuffling. ‘Was I mistaken in letting Mister Longbottom tell me he was Miss Granger’s friend she mentioned?’

Harry furrowed his brow, not liking that Neville assumed he was Hermione’s friend. He knew his angel was sweet, but he wasn’t all that happy to see others have fallen for her charms too. Neville just met Hermione. He shouldn’t be making claims like that to be near her. It was clear Hermione was wanting to be with someone in Gryffindor house, and Harry hoped beyond hope she was talking about him. He’d be the best friend she could ever ask for. He’d make sure she was always happy.

‘You are not sure if she’s talking about you or someone else.’ The hat pointed out, reading Harry’s thoughts. ‘I will apologize for my mistake earlier, and regardless, I know Miss Granger will be happy to be your friend as well.’

‘So… does that mean…’

“GRYFFINDOR!!!” the hat shouted, and Harry couldn’t stop himself from beaming. He locked eyes with Hermione, who was grinning as well. Harry vaguely registered the Gryffindors loud cheers and shouts of “We got Potter!”, but none of that mattered to him.

Harry happily made his way to the Gryffindor table, not breaking eye contact with Hermione, and she stood up, hugging him, which he eagerly returned. It was the best feeling ever, having her in his arms. He wished they could stay like that forever.

Draco tried to hide his disappointment at the scene. He didn’t regret his choice to go to Slytherin. It was the best place to be to set forth change.

That didn’t mean it didn’t bother him how much Harry seemed to hold a candle for Hermione.

Meanwhile, Ron was rubbing his temples and breathing deeply. How did Hermione manage to get stuck with not one, but two of her admirers?! Was the universe against him?! Did they want him to suffer or something? The Fates were bloody mad!

Ron didn’t bother listening to most of the ceremony, too busy watching Harry and Neville like a hawk, ready to strike if they so much as breathed inappropriately on his sister. It wasn’t until another boy nudged him, annoyed, and Ron could see McGonagall was calling him name.

Ron blushed as some people laughed at him, and he saw Hermione smack Fred and George on their arms when they were preparing to tease him. He made his way to the hat, just wanting to get this over with.

‘Ack! Another Weasely! How bloody many are you?!’ The hat complained. Ron already didn’t like the hat.

‘Relax! It’s just me and my sister Ginny left! Don’t need to have your knickers in a twist!’ Ron snapped at the magical item.

‘Oh thank god! Merlin knows how many of you I had to sort over the years!’ the hat sighed in relief.

‘Are you going to sort me or are you just going to insult me all day?!’ Ron demanded.

‘Right right. So Gryffindor it is then?’ the hat commented.

‘Damn Straight it’s Gryffindor! I’m going to be in the same house as my sister!’

‘Of course your sister’s going to be in Gryffindor! She’s a Weasley!’

‘I meant Hermione! She’s my best friend and sister now!’ Ron argued.

The hat paused.

‘…oh well now it makes sense.’ The hat finally said after shifting through Ron’s memories.

‘What does that mean?!’ Ron demanded.

‘I may have done some oopsies because I didn’t research right and assumed… sorry for your future headaches.’

‘Wait a second!’ Ron halted him. ‘You let Longbottom and Potter pick didn’t you?!’

‘To be fair it’s been a long night of looking into people’s minds…’

‘You son of a—’

“GRYFFINDOR!!!!” the hat hurriedly cut him off and Ron vowed to throw the hat to the Giant Squid when he got the chance as he made his way to the Gryffindor table. Hermione met him with an eager hug, but that did nothing to quell his death wishes towards the magical hat.

“Every weekend, Hermione.” Ron murmured into her shoulder darkly. “Everyone weekend, we’re going to train and teach you self-defense.”

“Oh Ron! Hogwarts is the safest place in the world! Why would I need self-defense?”

“Because if I’m going to be hiding some bodies, I need help taking them down.”

“Ron!”