Act One - Best Friends

Interlude - Culturally Adrift


“They’re not here, you know.”

Harry abruptly stopped his none-too-subtle scanning of King’s Cross as if it were a war zone.

“The Dursleys,” Hermione clarified for him. “They’re not here. Mum and Dad were…how to put it politely? They were very clear that they would be happy to pick you up and drop you off from now on. We usually take the M23 to London, but the A24 through Surrey is only a little out of our way.”

“I know. I know, but the Dursleys have never done anything nice for me even by their inaction. It’s just…a reflex, I guess.”

Before she could comment on that, Hermione heard a familiar voice call out to her. She turned to her left and looked past Harry to find her mum just visible over the crowd, bobbing up and down and waving a hand above her. Her dad, being at least a decimetre taller, could be seen standing next to her.

Hermione took off as fast as she could while pulling a bulky trolley behind her through King’s Cross at midday. As she built up speed, the crowd realised it needed to part before her, and by the time she reached her parents, she leapt into her mum’s outstretched arms with the usual ballistic speed of her reunion hugs. As the saying went – a product of Harry’s unique brand of imagination – a Granger without hugs was no Granger at all.

“Mum! Dad! I missed you so much!”

With her mum otherwise occupied, her dad said, “We did, too, but it hasn’t been that long since the Easter hols. Did you ever figure out what they’re celebrating?”

Shaking her head, Hermione mumbled into her mum’s chest, “Forgot to ask. Brushing with death does that to a girl.” She was definitely not crying, not even a little bit.

“You told them that, too?” came the weak, terrified voice of Harry, along with the approaching sound of wheels on pavement.

After first surreptitiously rubbing her eyes on her mum’s blouse, Hermione detached herself and gave her dad a brief hug. She then stepped to the side so she could see everyone. “Of course, I did.”

“Everything?” Harry asked, somehow even more nervous than before.

“Everything,” Hermione replied, although she had left out a few details that were no one’s business but her own, like that formerly irritating life debt. It’d been pleasantly quiet over the past several weeks, only really popping up to remind her to practice the patronus charm with Harry every evening. Despite their efforts, he was still stuck on misty shields, and she could barely get a flicker of light from the tip of her wand.

Still, Hermione would have been worried that her parents would pull her from Hogwarts, except that even with basilisks, trolls, and dark lords running around, Hogwarts still had a better safety record than other schools. Magic was dangerous, and children were careless; no other school instilled safety procedures in their students as well as Hogwarts, especially when it came to transfiguration. With enough research, her parents had concluded that ‘the integral of the probability density of serious injury at Hogwarts’ was still lower than at other schools, even including the strange occurrences there these last two years.

Hermione only understood the most general idea of what that meant, but that reasoning let her stay at Hogwarts, so she’d long since let the matter go.

And oddly enough, that safety record extended to potions with Professor Snape, too. Somehow.

“Hermione?” Hermione’s mum said. Hermione looked up to see her gesturing with her head between her and Dan and Harry.

“Oh! Right. Harry, this is my mum and dad, Doctors Dan and Emma Granger.” Then turning about in place, Hermione said, “Mum, Dad, this is Harry Potter.”

“Just Dan and Emma, if you would,” Dan said, reaching out to shake hands.

If a bit awkwardly, Harry mirrored the action. “Harry.” The handshake only lasted for a moment or two before Dan pulled him into a fierce hug. Dan then passed him off to Emma for a second round.

“Thank you for saving our little girl, Harry. We’ll give you a pass for all the other trouble you’ve gotten her into for that.”

It took a few seconds after Emma released Harry for him to regain his bearing and collect himself enough to protest. “I didn’t – I’m sure Hermione would have outsmarted that troll just fine on her own.”

“I expect she doesn’t think so.” Dan looked to Hermione, and she nodded her agreement. “See? There you go.”

“Speaking of,” Emma said, “it’s time for us to go. I expect we have a busy day ahead. Shopping in Diagon Alley is always a bit of a fuss.”

“We’re going today?” Harry asked. He turned to Hermione, but she was just as confused as he was. Following her parents’ lead, they slowly made their way toward the station exit.

“It seemed easier than driving back up to London tomorrow or taking the bus.” Emma eyed Harry’s clothing without trying to make it too obvious. “We can swing by the local shops in Crawley for summer clothes tomorrow afternoon, unless you two object.”

“No! No, that’s fine. Thank you for taking me. I hope I’m not being a bother.”

Hermione bopped Harry on the head from behind with her vine wand. “Don’t be silly, Harry,” she said, and that was the end of that.

The walk through the madhouse that was King’s Cross and eventually London proper was a bit more of a struggle than usual with two trolleys instead of one, but they successfully made it across the way to the car park next to St. Pancras Station. With the traffic, it took a frustratingly long time to get from there to Charing Cross Road and even longer to find a parking space near The Leaky Cauldron.

“We should’ve just walked,” Emma had remarked.

In muggle clothes with Hermione’s currently empty bookbag draped over his shoulder and Hermione herself hovering just in front of him, Harry managed to make it into Diagon Alley without being noticed. His scar was the obvious feature that gave him away, but no amount of makeup could hide his face. James Potter was rather well known and famous, and Harry looked just like him.

Still, they managed to avoid all but the occasional well-wisher noticing Harry as they moved through Diagon Alley proper, and even then, they somehow managed not to draw a crowd. Gringotts was their first stop, and seeing as the goblins there couldn’t care less who Harry was, the group finally relaxed and split from what he’d referred to as their marching formation.

Since the Grangers had no vault and thus had no idea what they were doing, Harry took the lead and pulled Hermione with him up to a teller.

“Harry Potter and Proxy Custodian Hermione Granger,” Harry said to the goblin, sounding about as confident as Hermione had ever heard him. “I need to make a withdrawal.”

“Key?”

Hermione reached into her jeans pocket and withdrew the small, golden key to the Potter vault. She reached up to the countertop – for such a short species, goblins used awfully high tables – and placed it in front of the teller. The goblin took it, and a spark of white light shot forth from his fingers into the key.

“Very well.” The goblin handed the key back, then said, “Follow me.”

He led the two of them toward a guarded door at the back of the lobby with Hermione’s parents following behind them. When they attempted to pass through, however, the guards blocked her parent’s entry.

“They’re with us,” Harry said before Hermione or her parents could say anything.

The teller, who had barely paused in his stride, called back, “Doesn’t matter. Follow me.”

Hermione looked to Harry, who looked to her parents. When they shrugged, Harry did the same, and a silent agreement for Dan and Emma to wait behind was reached. There was little enough hope in arguing against Gringotts’s own security measures, whatever they were for.

“Potter vault,” the teller said to another goblin after he’d led them down a series of halls and staircases. They were in what looked like a naturally formed cave with a smooth floor carved from the stone. Through the cavern ran a rail line with what looked an awful lot like a pump trolley resting on it.

The other goblin, who presumably drove the trolley, eyed them with an unreadable expression for a few seconds. Nonetheless, he hopped up onto the trolley and instructed them to do the same.

“Hermione?” Harry whispered to her, although with the way sound bounced around in caves, she suspected the two goblins present heard him as well.

“What is it?”

“You remember what you told me about the Knight Bus?”

Hermione froze. There were no restraints on this trolley.

“Take your seat,” the trolley driver said. There was a sneer, or a smirk, or something on his face that said he could hear them and took pleasure in Hermione’s paling face.

“Think roller coaster.” That was all Harry got to say before they took off and the screaming started.


Hermione felt Harry reach into her pocket to withdraw his vault key and hand it off to the foul demon who’d taken them to his vault. She could not care less. All she wanted to do right now was not vomit and, since Harry and his luck were with her, spark another goblin rebellion because she insulted the royal trolley driver or something equally absurd.

“Vault 687, Potter vault.” The sound of stone grating on stone as the vault door opened was awful, but not nearly as bad as the ride down or nails on a blackboard.

Hermione shuddered as she instantly imagined the sound of long, unclipped nails screeching as they slid down a blackboard and how it must feel to have the nails jerk upward over and over all the way at random intervals. Her hands shot to her mouth as she forced down another urge to lose her breakfast.

Oh, Merlin, what is wrong with me!

“You alright, Hermione?”

Hermione took a few deep breaths through her nose and did her best to steady herself. “I – I think so. Just…help me up? Please?”

Harry obliged, first pulling her up and then helping her down from the trolley. Even now, her vision was still dancing and her steps were uneven.

“I suppose this is the reason why you don’t like playing quidditch.”

“Among several,” Hermione moaned.

“If it makes you feel better, Hagrid reacted the same way and had to get a drink while I was at Madam Malkin's.”

Oh, no. I have to ride that thing again to get out. Ugh… Don’t think about that, Hermione. “Let’s just get what we need and–”

As Hermione walked into Harry’s vault, she froze midstep, and her mind shut down at what she saw.

“Um,” Harry began nervously at her side, still holding her upright. “I… I didn’t want the Dursleys to know how much I had, and Ron has it almost as bad as I do – did…will have had as far as hand-me-downs go, and you know how the Weasleys are about charity. Damned if I do; damned if I don’t. Heh heh. I didn’t exactly lie about how much I had. I just sort of…let you two believe whatever. You’re not mad, are you? Hermione?”

Hermione, meanwhile, was crunching numbers, not really even registering that Harry was speaking.

Each pile of gold is approximately a rectangular pyramid. The base has an area of approximately ten to the third, and the height has to be ten to the second in order of magnitude. The pound to galleon exchange rate is something approximating a hundred to one, but I think I overestimated earlier, so ten to one. There are...thirty-ish piles, so with the one-third constant, ten. Three, five, six, seven.

“Ten million pounds!” Hermione shrieked. As far as fortunes went, it was respectable, if not notable. It was also one she was entirely unprepared for.

“And two plots of land, one in Godric’s Hollow and one in the countryside,” Harry added as what Hermione suspected was a weak attempt at humour.

Really, there was only one way Hermione could adequately express her surprise. “A few galleons, my arse! Harry could buy a skyscraper.”

“Language.”

Hermione blinked, and then she remembered that she was still leaning on Harry’s shoulder for support, which meant he was right there.

“I… I don’t…” Settling on business – she could handle that – Hermione asked, “What is this all doing here? Lily Potter was muggleborn, right? Why isn’t this invested somewhere? Or – or is this just your liquid assets?”

Hermione looked to Harry for an answer. He looked to the trolley goblin.

“Gringotts is not a muggle bank.” The way he said that last word made Hermione doubt the goblins considered muggle banks as actual banks. “What you put into a vault is what you take out.”

So Gringotts is just a safe deposit box? Must be a cultural thing, Hermione idly commented in the back of her mind. It might be worth researching magical banking later to find out why some random muggleborn had yet to buy Magical Britain. Come to think of it, what’s preventing someone like Lord Malfoy from robbing the non-magical world blind?

“Should I be doing something with it?” Harry asked, interrupting Hermione’s thoughts. That he knew nothing whatsoever about finances was far from surprising. Not that Hermione could claim to know much more despite being a wealthy heiress herself.

“I don’t know. Research first, then… I think Mum does our taxes. Ask her.”

“Alright,” Harry said with a smile and a nod, practically blindly trusting her with a fortune. That felt strange, in some illogical way. He and Hermione had trusted each other with their lives before and, in all likelihood, would again in the future, as well. But this, it was just money.

“How much do you think we’ll need today? I don’t really know how much things cost in Diagon Alley. Ten galleons was enough for school supplies both this and last year; that’s about all I know.”

Hermione pulled herself out of her soul-searching to consider the question now that she knew they had no budget whatsoever.

Oh, Merlin, now I feel like a gold digger. Hermione looked to Harry nervously, biting her lip. But responsibility outweighs personal feelings. Besides, I’m already rich; it doesn’t count. “Harry, I feel…dirty just asking this, but how willing are you to spend galleons?”

Shrugging, Harry said, “One or two pyramids would probably last me the rest of my life. The rest doesn’t do me any good if I’m not around to spend it.”

That’s a good, if grim, point. It doesn’t make me feel any less like a leech, though. I’ll just have to make sure I end up increasing his coffers in the long run. “Fill it up.” At Harry’s confused look, she pointed to her empty bookbag hanging from Harry’s shoulder. “The bag. We can put back whatever we don’t use.”

“Oh. That’s kind of asking to robbed, though, don’t you think?”

“Ah.” Again, Harry had a good point. But then there had to be a means to transport that much gold safely when the need arose; it was beyond imagining that it never had. Then when asking the obvious question of who would know that means, there was the obvious answer: the person who took you to retrieve your gold. Hermione turned to the trolley goblin and asked, “How does one normally carry large amounts of gold around?”

“By guarded trolley between one vault and another.” It was a practical answer, Hermione had to admit. “But if you wish to take it outside Gringotts, I would suggest a mokeskin pouch. Gringotts could provide one for a nominal fee.”

Hermione cut herself off from asking further questions. It was Harry’s money and his decision to make, and she was more willing than ever to give him carte blanche to do whatever with it. He picked up on the meaning behind her silence without prompting.

“Sounds fine,” Harry said. “Could I get three, though?”

“Three?” Hermione asked.

The trolley goblin looked like Harry had just made his day. “Certainly, Mr. Potter. Would you care to wait here or in the lobby?”

“Here is fine,” Harry said. The trolley goblin then stepped out and locked the vault behind him, most likely so Hermione and Harry would have no opportunity to steal from any other vault.

Maybe that’s how Quirrelmort managed to break into Gringotts two years ago. He didn’t seem particularly powerful at the time. Hermione shook her head free of the stray thought. More importantly, she again asked, “Three, Harry?”

“One for you, one for me, and one for Ron.”

“Harry, you don’t even know how much they cost.”

“I’m sure it’s not that much. Besides, if they’re secure enough for gold, they must be secure enough for other important things we might pass around. Like my father’s cloak.”

Hermione gnawed on her lip, silently mulling over how much she sometimes hated Harry, rare though those moments were. Worse, it was probably all her fault that he was even bothering to think about such perfectly valid security concerns.

“And you can carry books in it, too.”

Curse that boy. “I’m paying you back.”

“Not a chance. Your money is no good here, Miss Granger. For every galleon you give me, I’ll give two to Malfoy.”

Yep. Really hate him.

Harry let out a long sigh. “Look, Hermione. This whole studying together, fighting evil, saving my skin thing isn’t going to work if we can’t share resources.” A smirk grew on his face that turned into a toothy smile. “You have the brains, and I have the raw athletic grace and the charming smile, which won Witch Weekly’s–”

“Stop, Harry. Just…stop.” The mental images Hermione was getting were awful. One legitimate former infatuation imitating a foolish, shallow one was wrong in every sense of the word and then some. “Don’t ever impersonate Lockhart again.” As Harry laughed at her reaction, she said far more forcefully, “Ever.”

“Okay, okay. I won’t. But seriously, Hermione, this gold isn’t really even mine.”

“Of course it is, Harry. You’re not thinking something daft like your parents would blame you for their deaths, are you?”

Sighing again, Harry walked over to one of the pyramids of gold and picked up a few galleons to twiddle between his fingers. “It’s not that, Hermione. Where do you think my mum and dad got this from?”

Hermione cocked her head to the side, confused. “Presumably your paternal grandparents. I don’t think the Evanses were particularly wealthy, but there’s not much information on them available at Hogwarts for obvious reasons.”

“And where did my grandmother and grandfather get it?”

Hermione scrunched her brows together in thought, trying to recall details she’d skimmed over in the library while searching for any living family members Harry had. Dorea Potter had been a Black before her marriage to Charlus, but Susan had recently reminded Hermione that the Blacks had lost most of their fortune to dragonfire.

“Your great grandfather Henry Potter married…um…she was the last of the Fleamonts. I don’t think that was a marriage of convenience, but I assume Henry Potter held the greater wealth or political power, since otherwise you’d probably be Harry Fleamont or Fleamont-Potter.”

Hermione noticed then that Harry was smiling at her like she was entirely missing the point. Indeed, he said, “You’re overthinking things. What vault is this?”

“Vault 687,” Hermione said. Harry gestured with his free hand to keep going, and that was what it took for her to have a good guess of the point Harry was trying to make. “The House Potter vault?”

“Exactly. I’ve always kind of felt this way, I suspect, but something Tonks said really got me thinking. Then after talking with Ron and Susan today… You know how Tonks said the old families wouldn’t want to let their children go off to school too soon?”

“So they can internalise their family’s values. Harry–”

Harry held up a hand to stop Hermione before she could even say anything. “Hermione, I don’t know the first thing about being a Potter. There’s no one left to teach me. If I were, say, Harry Malfoy” – Harry chuckled when Hermione’s face scrunched up in disgust – “then I would be out to reform the family anyway, and I wouldn’t care, but the Potters weren’t like that. I won’t dishonour my parent’s memories by refusing my inheritance. I’ll proudly carry the name as best as I can while still being myself. But can you at least understand that I feel just as much like I’m spending gold that isn’t mine as you do?”

“Yes,” Hermione quietly said. She simultaneously resolved to help Harry reach out to people who’d known previous Potters. Hagrid loved to talk about James and Lily when he invited Harry down for tea, but he always spoke about them as James and Lily, not as Mr. and Mrs. Potter. Neville’s grandmother might be a good place to start. Her son had gone to school with Harry’s parents for a few years, and the Longbottoms were an ancient house like the Potters. Well, technically, the Longbottoms were a most ancient house, but it meant the same thing culturally, really, when considered apart from the Longbottom family’s nobility.

But Hermione was being distracted. Cleverly, sure, but she was being distracted nonetheless. “You do realise, though, that that doesn’t make me feel any better about this, right?”

Smirking, Harry said, “You’ll get used to it eventually.”

“Fine,” Hermione sighed, conceding defeat.

“Also, I thought we’d agreed on your pay as my govern–”

Hermione lobbed a nearby galleon at Harry, which he easily caught and only made him more amused.

“But on the topic of secure storage, if you’ll recall” – Harry pulled his holly wand out of his pocket and twirled it back and forth between his fingers in a rather surprising display of dexterity – “now seems like the ideal time to leave behind our Traced wands.”

Withdrawing her own wand from her over-the-knee sock, Hermione handed it over to Harry to hide them together. “Thanks for remembering. I’d almost forgotten.”

It was barely a minute after Harry had buried their wands in gold that the trolley driver returned with three leather bags no larger than his hand. He quickly explained their functionality, and naturally, he started by stating that there were absolutely no refunds. Each bag would be bound to – and only work for – its owner forever, or so the goblin claimed.

Fifteen or so minutes later, Hermione was distracting herself from how sick she still felt from the trolley ride back up by experimenting with her very own mokeskin pouch. It grew and shrunk on command. It weighed no more than it had when empty despite being roughly eight-thousand galleons heavier. She could pull anything she put into it out just by asking for it. It was everything she’d ever wanted in a bookbag and then some, nevermind that it only held gold inside it.

Of course, there were limitations. There was a maximum volume and weight on the pouch, neither of which the trolley goblin had known offhand. But if half a metric ton of gold ran into neither, they seemed like far off concerns. Besides, a better answer than any absolute value would be how many books it could hold.

“Harry will never find out I actually used a book as a unit of measurement,” Hermione swore under her breath.

Speaking of whom, Harry had ultimately decided to simply take one pyramid – that was a unit of measurement now, apparently – of gold with them and had argued that it made more sense to split the sum between them, just in case. Hermione had been more than a little hesitant to carry around several hundred-thousand pounds of Harry’s money, but if he was set on having so much gold on hand for whatever reason, then he had had a good point.

In hindsight, Harry had had a lot of good points lately. It was nice, Hermione decided, not to have to be the voice of reason all the time. Sometimes a girl just wanted to play with her new toy and show off a new accessory.

“Hermione,” her dad said. The three of them were waiting in the lobby off to the side while Harry finished some unknown business he’d brought up with the goblins in private.

Hermione once more poured into her pouch seven multicoloured galleons from her hand in the order that they appeared in a rainbow. She’d surreptitiously charmed them when she’d earlierly been bent over a rubbish bin and begging not to have to make use of it. How Harry managed to shrug off the trolley ride down and back up as if it were a peaceful carriage ride through the countryside, Hermione would never know. She could only hope that her body would hate her less as she grew.

“One moment, Dad. Seven coloured galleons.” The words said, Hermione’s rainbow collection of galleons shot back to her hand from her pouch. Frowning, she replaced them back in the pouch and gave up. Every time she pulled them out, it was always with a different ordering. Mokeskin pouches, she concluded, were random number generators.

At least it stacks the galleons for me when I take them out. That’s convenient. Shaking her head, Hermione turned her attention to her dad. “Yes? What is it?”

“How many galleons do you have in there?” Dan asked. So far, Hermione had let him see at least forty unique ones. Since order was not preserved, apparently, he’d technically very likely seen far, far more.

“Enough to buy a house,” Hermione replied casually. Dan made a strangled choking sound. Her mum, on the other hand, quickly recognised it for the innocent prank that it was. The small upturn of Emma’s lips gave it away.

“Hermione,” her dad said, weak but recovering, “even if you and Harry don’t plan to spend it all, or even more than a tiny percentage, you two shouldn’t be carrying all of his money around. He’s not closing his vault right now, is he?”

“I don’t know what he’s up to, Dad, but I’m sure it’s not that. It turns out Harry has two orders of magnitude more money than I thought.”

Emma chuckled at Dan’s ever weaker and more concerned look, which drew a small smile out of Hermione. Or it did until Emma spoke, at least.

“You sure know how to pick ‘em, Sweetie.”

“Please, Mum. I don’t need to feel any more like a gold digger than I already do.”

Sniffing and wiping away imaginary tears, Emma said, “Oh, Dan, our little girl has grown up into a successful cougar.”

“Mum!” Hermione whined, hiding her face behind her hands. She knew what Emma was after, but why couldn’t her mum just tell her to let up and explain like a normal parent? Oh yes, Harry and Emma would get along fabulously. “I’m sorry, Dad. It wasn’t just a prank, though. We don’t know how much we need for the summer, so Harry decided to take a pyramid.”

“A – a pyramid?” Dan asked.

Hermione shrugged. “All of his galleons were stacked into pyramids. I don’t know if that’s Gringotts policy or if his parents or grandparents just had too much time on their hands.”

“I see…”

“We’re not planning to do anything…temerarious. You don’t have to worry.”

Dan looked placated enough at that. Shaking her head, Hermione went back to her experiments, only to furrow her brow in thought. It was far from the same, but her parents were both fairly disconnected from their cultural roots like Harry was. She’d never particularly considered herself anything but English, but maybe they had some insight to share.

“Mum? Dad? Do you ever feel like you don’t really know where you came from?” Before Emma could say anything silly, Hermione added, “Culturally, I mean.”

Dan shrugged and said, “Not particularly.”

“Not very often,” Emma said, “but your nan used to tell me stories of growing up in the Orkney Islands. At times I do regret that I’ve never been.” Turning to Dan, she said, “Maybe we could take a short holiday there sometime this summer.”

“If you’d like,” Dan said. “Although… Hermione, how’s Scotland this time of year?”

“Wet and changeable.”

Emma laughed at the blunt way Hermione had phrased that. She then asked, “Is Hogwarts not protected from the weather?”

“It’s always nice inside the castle, but everything else is natural.”

“Well, I suppose it’d be better if we took you away from Scotland for the summer, anyway,” Dan said. “Especially so if we’d be bringing Harry with us.”

That last part sounded like a question, and Dan was looking at Hermione, so she smiled and nodded eagerly. “Please?” She and Harry could spend the whole day sequestered in his room at the Dursleys’ for however long they needed to if it meant letting him have a proper holiday for once.

“Do you know if he has a passport?”

“Almost certainly not,” Hermione replied. But the question rose a number of similar ones. “I’m pretty sure Harry officially exists in the muggle world. He went to a public school. I wonder where his birth certificate is…” Hermione resorted to gnawing on her lip as she thought about how she was going to get that precious little document away from the Dursleys without resorting to hexing. If they even had it, that was.

“Hermione?”

Hermione snapped out of her thoughts and looked up at her mum. “Ah, yes?”

“You were asking us about feeling culturally disconnected?”

Blushing – that had completely fled her mind – Hermione said, “Oh. Yes. Well, Harry doesn’t really know anything about his heritage. Either side, really. I’m not really sure how to talk to him about it. I was hoping maybe one of you would be able to relate to that more than I could and maybe–” Realising what she’d just said, she quickly added, “Not that I’m hoping either of you feel adrift in society! I just… Oh, you know what I mean.”

Judging by the chuckling of her dad and her mum’s outright giggling, they did know what she meant. Although Hermione’s blush only worsened for their amusement, at least they took her words in good humour.

“Maybe later in the summer when we know him better, I can take Harry aside and bring it up,” Emma said. Then, far less seriously, she added, “Not that we don’t know him like a son already.”

“Mum!” Hermione whined. It may be the case that her rather numerous letters home contained perhaps just a tad bit too much about Harry on occasion when the stars were aligned and the moon was full. Really, it was just a little too much at times, nothing more.

Fortunately – or perhaps unfortunately, depending on one’s perspective – Harry chose that moment to reappear. He approached from the far side of the lobby whilst calling out to her and her parents, apparently now done with his mysterious extra business.

And of course, being Hermione Granger, there was but one thing she could do when confronted with a mystery, nevermind that it also distracted everyone from anything embarrassing her mum might do otherwise. “Welcome back, Harry. What were you doing?”

“Nothing important. It’s probably best left as a surprise for if you ever find out, though.”

Hermione tried her best to quirk just one eyebrow. She saw practically every Slytherin do it at least once a week; it had to be easy enough. Luck was not with her today, however.

In response, Harry quirked his eyebrow.

So unfair.

“Well then,” Emma said, both arms wrapping around Hermione’s shoulders from behind. “Are we all ready to get going?”

Hermione nodded, as did Harry. “Thanks for waiting for me, Dr. Gr” – Emma gave Harry a look – “Emma.”

“Excellent. The doctors Gremma are eager to explore Diagon Alley some more without the funny looks we get when we’re here alone. Now, do we have a heading, or is it window shopping for us?”

Turning her attention back to Harry, Hermione said, “I was thinking big purchases first to get them out of the way. If we got a TARDIS for our potions room right away, we could store everything we bought inside of it.” With Harry having already been initiated into the Doctor Who fandom a little bit from her vivid retellings, she had no need to clarify.

“Sounds fine, although…” Harry said, glancing at her parents. “What if we all got new robes first? That way we won't draw, well, as many 'funny looks’. It’s inevitable around me, unfortunately.”

Dan and Emma glanced at each other, and Emma nodded. Dan then said, “It helps less than you might expect, but so long as you're aware of how much time you have before stores close, that sounds like a fine idea. Hermione?”

“Yes, let's get going,” Hermione said, trying not to pout. She really, really wanted to get her magic police box, but she supposed she could be patient a little while longer.

“You have your sketch of a police box for after, right?” Harry asked.

“Of course! And the interior, too!” As if I would, or even could, forget. Hermione ignored the silent chuckling of her dad and her mum’s less than subtle snickering. Such hypocrites, they were. It was their fault she loved the series to begin with.

“Then lead the way.”

“Great!” Hermione said, her excitement already bubbling to the surface. It was entirely possible that she wanted a TARDIS more than she’d ever wanted anything else in her life. Although now that she had one to play with, a mokeskin pouch ranked as a close second. They were both very similar, though, so perhaps it was fair to lump them together.

Either way, the sooner they got their robes, the sooner they could get their magic box. Hermione grew ever more impatient as she dragged Harry forward faster and faster by the arm into the depths of Diagon Alley.