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Author's Notes: Indeed not much to say here, especially because I didn't receive any review and almost nobody read the first chapter, so I wouldn't know what to write. Anyway I have to say a big thank you to my beta-reader, Julie.  And thanks to Abigail, who corrected this chapter a second time.




“Ron! Ron! Wake up.”

Ron groaned as the voices of his friends echoed painfully in his head. It was almost like he had just got up after drinking too much Firewhisky. His head hurt him badly and his vision was just like Harry’s when he wasn’t wearing his glasses.

“Ron!” Hermione was bending over him, so close to his face that her hair fell all over his face. He took a deep breath and inhaled Hermione’s scent in the meantime. “Are you all right?” she asked worriedly.

“I guess so,” he said, raising his head and starting to rub it. “What happened?”

“You’ve just been pushed away from the house,” said Harry as he stood up. Ron noticed at that moment that Harry had also been kneeling next to him. “But don’t ask me what that was, because I don’t know.”

Hermione stood up too, glanced at the house, and sighed. “You said that they sealed the house, right, Harry?” she asked.

Harry nodded. “Yeah, does that mean that we cannot enter until we find out how to remove the charm?”

Hermione’s eyes travelled from the house to the landscape behind it. “I don’t know,” she said softly. We didn’t come here for nothing, she thought forcefully. “You said that you have the deed to the property in your vault at Gringotts, right?”

Harry nodded again.

“Maybe you can enter, then.”

“What?” he asked, not completely sure he was following her reasoning.

“Well, the Ministry sealed it, but since you are the owner of this place, maybe there’s a chance that the charm they did will recognise you and let you pass,” explained Hermione.

“Does this stand a good chance of working, or will I land there just like Ron?” asked Harry suspiciously.

“I think that you’ll be able to pass,” said Hermione, trying to sound convincing. “Although, we can always not move Ron so that you’ll land on something soft,” she added with a grin.

Both Ron and Harry looked at her in surprise, and Hermione sighed. “Oh, come on! Only Ron can tell stupid jokes?”

“The main aim of a joke is that it has to make someone laugh, and yours wasn’t funny,” said Ron, looking at her from the street where he still lay.

Hermione stuck out her tongue at him, and Ron had the courtesy to remind her that it was still a very childish act.

“Okay, I’ll try it,” said Harry, sighing deeply. “But I want to be clear, Hermione. I’m doing this just because I trust you, so if that gate pushes me like it pushed Ron, well…”

Hermione looked at him expectantly, but Harry couldn’t find anything else to say. He just dropped his suitcase and walked towards the gate. He stopped only when Ron cried out for him to wait and demanded Hermione’s help to stand up. “Can I, now?” asked Harry, sighing.

“Good luck,” said Ron sympathetically.

Hermione poked his arm. “Ron, he won’t need it,” she said darkly.

Harry looked at his hand getting closer to the gate, he felt like he could have stopped it any time. Now, I’ll stop. Now. No, now. I don’t want to be pushed away. Okay, now – But before he actually understood what he was doing, Hermione was clapping her hands on his back and he found himself with the gate open in front of him.

“I told you that it would work,” said Hermione cheerfully.

“Now, what? Do I have to invite you inside or something?”

“We aren’t vampires, Harry,” said Hermione, grinning. “It was just like an alarm; you turned it off and now everybody can pass.” She lifted Crookshanks’ cage and passed by Harry, looking awkwardly around. She reached the door, walking carefully on the slippery stairs covered with leaves and water from the storm the night before. She looked for the handle, but she couldn’t find it. “I don’t remember how to open it,” she said softly, without turning. Harry looked at her with his eyebrows raised. Her voice seemed extremely sweet, not that it was usually harsher, but at that very moment, it was so soft that it didn’t seem like her voice at all.

Ron stepped inside the garden, looking around suspiciously. He didn’t want to be pushed away by an invisible force again. Not at all. He walked towards Harry and stood by his side. Harry was looking blankly in front of him, towards Hermione, and when Hermione’s words hit Ron as well, he stared too. “You don’t remember?” he asked, without understanding.

Hermione turned to look at them. “What?” she asked.

“You said that you don’t remember how to open the door,” said Harry softly.

“Did I? I must be tired and don’t know what I’m saying. I meant that I don’t understand how to open it,” she said calmly.

“How can you not understand how to open a door?” asked Ron, perplexed. “Isn’t there a handle?”

Hermione snorted. “Do you really think that I’m that stupid? If there was a handle I would have already pushed it,” she snapped.

Ron shrugged. “What about letting Harry open it?” he suggested. “Come on, Harry.” He pushed his friend a bit, and Harry walked up to where Hermione stood. She moved to make more room for him. Harry glanced at her incredulously.

“There’s no handle here,” he said.

“Really? What did you think I said that for? Just for fun?” she asked, sighing.

“Okay, well, the question is, how do we open a door without handle?” asked Harry, ignoring her sarcastic remark.

Hermione shrugged slightly. She wasn’t pleased with herself for not knowing something, but she really had no idea how to open that door.

“Hermione, if you don’t know, how are we supposed to open it?” asked Ron from the garden.

“Oh, well,” she said curtly, flushing from the veiled compliment. “What about climbing through the windows?”

“I think that they’ll be as sealed as this door,” sentenced Harry. “How did my parents enter this place? I have to think.”

“Maybe if you concentrate, you can remember something,” said Ron, leaning on the gate.

“Ron, he was just one year old, and plus I don’t think that he was able to open the door at that age,” said Hermione dismissively.

Harry closed his eyes and leaned his head on the door, trying to recall anything that reminded him of his parents in this place. Maybe his mother has been holding him while his father opened the door. Maybe if he concentrated very hard, he could have seen his father’s hands busying around a kind of lock and –

Harry raised his eyes suddenly, stared at the door, and then placed his hand where the handle should have been and drew a circle with his fingers. Nothing happened for several seconds, but then something started to appear on the door, as if growing out of the material itself. A silvery knob now shone in front of him.

Harry felt Ron’s hand on his shoulder. “I knew that you could open it, Harry,” he said cheerfully. “You really are – no wait, I really am a genius.”

Harry smiled faintly. “I guess so,” he answered distractedly.

“How did you know how to do that?” asked Hermione, surprised.

“I think I remembered,” said Harry calmly. “Ron was right.”

Ron grinned. “As always.”

Harry placed his hand on the knob and turned it. The door opened as if somebody had just pushed it, but Harry hadn’t done anything like that. He stood there as the now-visible interior of the house was starting to materialise in front of him. Without thinking about what he was doing, Harry took a step inside, raising dust all around him. He coughed and placed a hand over his mouth. “Guess you are right, Hermione. We’d better clean everything up,” he said, backing up a little.

Hermione stepped inside after him, and she automatically brought the sleeve of her jumper to cover her mouth as well. “Yeah,” she answered. “But if Ron wants to sleep like this, he is welcome to do just that,” she added sourly.

“No thanks,” growled Ron, stepping inside the house after them. “Gosh, I didn’t think so much dust could accumulate in so little time.”

“Sixteen years is a little time?” asked Hermione.

Ron sighed. “No, I suppose not.”

Harry advanced into the room between the furniture that lay on the floor. Everything was covered with white sheets, and they looked vaguely like the ghosts Muggles were always imagining they could see in the castles, the only things missing were chains.

“Should we open some windows?” asked Ron, his voice muffled by his hand.

“I don’t know. There was wind earlier; I wouldn’t want all this dust to start whirling around us,” said Hermione from behind her sleeve.

“Wind?” asked Ron. “There was no wind at all. On the contrary, it all seems so terribly still outside there.”

Hermione cocked her head at Ron and raised her eyebrows. “I can’t believe you didn’t notice. The wind has been blowing since we entered the village,” she said seriously, not noticing that Harry was giving her a peculiar look.

“Rubbish,” answered Ron, waving a hand. He walked towards the nearest window and opened it. He was right, there was no wind at all. The fresh, almost cold, air invaded the cottage. “See?” Ron asked Hermione. “No wind at all.”

Hermione nodded. “It must have stopped,” she said stubbornly.

Ron shrugged. “If you say so.”

Hermione narrowed her eyes as she looked at Ron, then she removed the sleeve of her jumper from her mouth and spoke quietly. “Come on, we’d better clean this place fast, or else we’ll be suffocated by all this dust.”

Harry looked at her with his eyebrows raised. “How do we do that? We don’t even have a broom,” he said.

Hermione smiled softly. “It’s so cute to see that you have worked so much at Grimmauld Place that you actually don’t remember that there are other ways to clean up a house. Especially since you are a wizard,” she said.

Harry felt himself flushing a little. “Yeah, well, I forgot that. Haven’t cleaned with magic for a long time.”

Ron laughed. “You know, Harry, for a while I thought that we should use brooms and dusters as well,” he said. “I thought that we weren’t supposed to perform magic in a Muggle town, Hermione.”

“Nobody will see us,” she retorted. “Plus, it’s almost dinner time, and I’m tired and I don’t want to sleep on the dust.”

“Dust can be soft,” said Ron, grinning.

“Yeah, so can the grass,” snapped Hermione. “So if you don’t want to sleep outside, you’d better get moving.”

“She can’t throw me out of your house, can she?” he asked to Harry.

“Don’t put me in the middle of this,” answered Harry. “Or better yet, don’t start another fight right now, okay? Just please, it’s full of dust and I won’t be too happy if it starts to whirl all around us because of all the air that you’ll stir up with your useless bickering and arguing.”

“Okay,” said Hermione practically. “Let’s start already. We’ll choose a room each and start with that.”

“I think I’ll look for the kitchen, then,” said Ron, trying to sound casual.

“I don’t think that there’ll be anything edible in there, if that’s what you’re looking for,” said Harry amused.

“It’s not. I just want to make myself useful,” snapped Ron, but he silently groaned at the thought of the lack of food.

“I’ll go upstairs,” said Hermione. “I mean, if you don’t want to go upstairs yourself, Harry.”

“No, it’s fine with me,” answered Harry. “I can do the living room, but there are three rooms up there. Are you sure that you don’t need help?”

Hermione smiled. “Are you just guessing that there are three rooms, or are you remembering that as well?”

“I think I’m remembering,” answered Harry. “I don’t know, though. I mean, it’s pretty obvious, after all: one bedroom for my parents, one for me, and a bathroom. I doubt that there would be space for anything else.”

“You may be right,” said Hermione. “Well, see you later, then.” She turned towards the stairs and started to climb them up.

“Hermione.”

She turned to look at Harry. “Yes?”

“What do we do? I mean, do we make the dust disappear or do we throw it out of the windows?” He looked perplexed.

Hermione grinned. “I think our neighbours would have a heart attack if they saw the dust flying out the windows. Let’s just make it disappear, okay?”

Both Harry and Ron nodded.

Hermione nodded back and, turning, she kept on climbing up the stairs. The steps were somewhat slippery under her trainers. She wondered how the dust could have that effect and concluded that it must have been the humidity. She snorted with annoyance as she thought about the effect that would have had on her hair. Frizzier than usual, she thought, depressed.

She tried to push that thought to the back of her mind as she approached the second floor. There was a little landing and then – Harry was right – there were three doors, one at her right, one at her left, and one right in front of her.

She turned to the left and pushed open the first door. It was a small bedroom. She had imagined she would find a little cradle inside, or maybe some toys and coloured furniture, but there wasn’t anything like that. There was just a four-poster bed, a big wardrobe, and a desk. Or at least that was what she thought must be hidden under the white sheets. She stepped into the room, trying to raise as little dust as possible, and closed the door behind her. Taking a few steps towards the middle of the room, she took out her wand and pointed it at the window and then towards the floor and the furniture, muttering a different spell each time she changed the aim of her incantations. The window swung open, the dust disappeared from the floor, and the sheets flew away, revealing what she had expected to find.

She frowned as she looked at the floor. There was no more dust, but she couldn’t say that it was clean. Same with the furniture; those things needed something more than a Vanishing Spell for making the bedroom dirt-free. She exited the room and pushed open the middle door, and as she had expected, found herself in a bathroom. She did the same thing that she had in the first bedroom and moved on to the third room.

The last room was bigger than the first and was a bedroom as well. Lily and James’ bedroom, she thought. There was a double bed, a wardrobe occupying the entire left wall, and a big mirror next to the bed. She waved her wand as she had already done in the other rooms and looked satisfied at the results. Now she just had to look for some cloths to charm and wash the floors and furniture.

Hermione turned and took a step towards the door but stopped almost immediately when one of the doors of the wardrobe unlocked and opened slightly. It closed again and opened repeatedly, drumming against the wardrobe, as if it was trying to capture her attention. “Ron?” she called softly, turning. “If it’s you, it’s not funny.”

Nobody answered. She took a deep breath and walked towards the wardrobe. There was no wind, so she just thought that the door must have been broken or something, trying to forget the fact that it was an odd behaviour even for a broken door. When she brushed the oak panel with her fingertips, the door stood still. She backed away and looked uncertainly toward the wardrobe. Her long fingers went down to touch the handle, but she stopped dead in her tracks. This is Harry’s parents’ wardrobe; I don’t think he’d be too pleased to know that I’ve just opened it and peered inside. It’s too private, she thought, and she pushed the door closed.

Tossing her hair behind her ears, she turned and walked towards the door, but before she could place a toe on the landing, the door started to bang again. She turned around so quickly that she almost slipped on the floor. Hermione stood there as the noise filled her ears and the fear invaded her mind. She looked at the door, her eyes huge.

Without even understanding what she was doing, she walked back to the wardrobe and opened the door. There was a woman’s clothing piled tidily, and lots of underwear. There, under a pile of jumpers, was a small book. Hermione sneaked her hand under the jumpers and seized it. She stared at the cover, where Lily Potter’s Diary was written in gold letters.

Lily’s diary. There could be important information for their quest for the Horcruxes in that diary, Hermione knew. But it was the diary of Harry’s mother. Did she have the right to read it? No, at least not before Harry did. Then why am I opening it? She looked down at the pages, words written in a soft, beautiful handwriting. But I won’t read it, not before Harry.
She was snapped out of her thoughts when she heard steps on the stairs. She wanted to close the door of the wardrobe with the diary inside, but when she pushed the panel, she realised that she still had the book in her hands. What am I doing? she thought hysterically. She was panicking without knowing why.

“Hermione?” Harry’s voice called from the landing. She raised her jumper and her shirt, placed the diary against her bare skin, then she pulled her clothes back down and checked to make sure no part of the book was sticking out, not really understanding why she was doing it.

The door opened. “Hermione,” said Harry from the landing. “Didn’t you hear me calling you?”

Hermione flushed. “No sorry,” she whispered.

Harry looked at her and frowned. “It’s okay. I just wanted to know if you wanted something to eat. We’re almost done with the cleaning downstairs.”

“Something to eat? Yes, thanks,” she answered, looking at the floor intently. “You go ahead, I’ll charm a cloth and a broom to finish the cleaning.”

“Okay,” he said, and backed on the landing. “Are you all right? Have you breathed too much dust?”

Hermione smiled, but her smile faded rapidly away, since she was afraid that it looked too much like a guilty smile. “Yeah, I think so.”

“We all have,” answered Harry, grinning. “Ron’s singing the school song.”

“Oh my, tell me when he’s done, so I can come downstairs safely,” she said, thinking that it was extraordinary how she could joke after what she had just done.

Harry smiled. “No, you’re going to come down and listen to him as much as I have.”

“You’re evil,” Hermione accused him jokingly.

“I know,” said Harry and walked away.

Hermione sighed deeply when she heard his feet jumping down the last stairs and his voice disappearing into the kitchen. She took out the diary and looked at it intently. Why didn’t I give you to Harry? It’s almost like I can’t tear my eyes away from you. She noticed that she was talking to the diary and decided that wasn’t a good thing at all. She walked out of the bedroom and back into the bathroom. Behind the door stood a couple of brooms and old cloths which she enchanted to make them clean the three rooms and the landing. Then she went into what would have once been Harry’s room and, kneeling next to the bed, she threw the diary under it.

She stood up and brushed off her jeans where the material had touched the floor. With great effort, she convinced herself to walk out and go down the stairs to the kitchen. She would have to look at the diary later. No, I’ll give the diary to Harry later, she thought to herself, trying to convince herself of a thing, she was sure, she would never do.

She crossed the living room with a hasty pace, smiling a bit as she saw that everything seemed clean and tidy. There was a green couch in the living room, as well as a coffee table and some armchairs. A fire crackled in the grate, and she looked at it intently for a while before heading for the kitchen.

“Isn’t a bit too much? I mean, a fire in the middle of August,” she said, grinning.

Harry, who was busy slicing some bread, looked at her. “I’m cold, aren’t you?”

“Well, yeah,” she said, tightening the jumper around her body. “But a fire, honestly.”

“Do you think this house is heated?” asked Ron, who was opening some little packs of food. Mrs Weasley had insisted that they take something to eat, even though Harry had told her that there was no need for her to worry about them. They would buy some things along the way, and besides, they wanted to bring only what was necessary. Now Harry was happy that they had accepted her help. But they would have to go shopping the next day because the supply of food was already at its end.

“No,” answered Harry. “I think we’d better light all the fireplaces in the house. Are there any upstairs?”

“No,” answered Hermione. “Maybe there’s a meter somewhere downstairs.”

Ron looked at her, dropping the bologna in his hand between the slices of bread. “Is there another floor downstairs?” he asked, dreading that more cleaning awaited them.

Hermione glanced at him awkwardly. “I don’t know. I mean usually there is,” she answered.

“Yes, I think there’s one,” answered Harry, cutting the last piece of bread in two halves.

“I’ve seen no doors,” Ron replied, placing a slice of bread on top of the bologna. He placed the sandwich on a small plate and handed it to Hermione. “Here you are,” he said gently.

Hermione eyed the plate suspiciously. “You washed it, didn’t you?” she asked softly.

Ron patted his forehead. “I knew I forgot something!” he said, grinning.

Hermione rolled her eyes. “I just wanted to be sure; there was so much dirt upstairs,” she muttered.

“By the way, did you find anything?” Harry asked, sitting down at the table with a sandwich in his hands.

Hermione went suddenly white. “A-anything?” she asked hoarsely. “Anything like what?”

“Anything interesting,” answered Harry, looking at her. “Don’t you want to sit down?”

Hermione looked at the chair he was pushing towards her with his foot and, taking hold of the back, she moved it and sat down across from Harry. “You found something interesting?” she asked, avoiding his question.

Harry shook his head. “Not much, nothing that I could have related to my parents, actually. I think that everything is upstairs.”

Hermione nodded. “Yeah, well, there are the wardrobes upstairs, and I bet that they are full of clothes and things that belonged to your parents – not that I looked inside,” she added hastily.

“I didn’t think about that,” said Harry distractedly. “I mean, naturally there’s no problem if you open the wardrobes, but maybe it’s better if we do that together. Tomorrow. Right now I’m too tired.”

Hermione nodded again and watched as Ron went to sit down at one edge of the table. She let her eyes wander the kitchen for the first time; it was a nice room, welcoming and warm. The appliances were in one corner of the room and opposite that, there were a couple of cupboards with glassy doors in which little shiny cups and plates were displayed.

“I was wondering something,” said Hermione all of a sudden.

Both boys raised their heads at once and looked at her. Ron swallowed his sandwich and nodded. “Yes?” Harry.

“Where are we going to sleep? I mean, there are two bedrooms in this house, and there are three of us. I was wondering, if it’s all right with you, if I could sleep in one room and you two in the other,” she said quickly, flushing. “If you don’t mind sleeping in your parents’ bedroom, Harry.”

Harry looked at her thoughtfully. “No,” he said. “No, it’s okay. I mean, we can’t all sleep on the couch, can we?”

“No, I don’t think so,” said Hermione gently.

“Wait a minute,” said Ron. “How are we going to sleep? I have to sleep in a double bed with Harry?” he asked concerned.

Hermione shrugged. “You’re friends, and it would certainly be less awkward than me lying down with one of you.”

Ron’s ears turned a bright red colour, matching his hair perfectly. “Yes, we’ll sleep together,” he said. “Just sleep, I mean. Just lie down and sleep.”

Harry grinned. “I think you got the point, Ron.”

“Yes, you did,” confirmed Hermione, laughing.

Ron glared at her until something soft brushed his leg. He looked down, and as he spotted Crookshanks, a smirk replaced his glare. “Why, Crookshanks, what are you doing here? If I hadn’t open your cage, that bad girl would have never let you out, would she? And – ouch!”

Hermione smiled angelically at him. “What? My foot accidentally hit your leg,” she stated innocently.

“Aren’t you going to eat your sandwich?” asked Harry, nodding towards her plate and cutting off the soon-to-be quarrel.

“Oh – uh, sure,” she said and took a bite out of the sandwich that lay in front of her.

“Is there a bath upstairs?” Ron asked, getting up and placing his plate in the basin. “Because here there’s just a toilet.”

Hermione nodded. “Yes, there is. But –” She flushed. “– there’s just one bathroom for all us.”

Harry smiled. “Well, I think you can use it first, Hermione.”

“Thanks, Harry,” she said rather uneasily. She didn’t mean that she wanted to be the first to use the bathroom because she was a girl; she was just silently hoping that the bath wouldn’t be a mess after they used it.

“What are we going to do tomorrow?” asked Ron, snapping Hermione out of her musings over the bathroom.

Harry shrugged his shoulders and leaned against the back of his chair. He looked from Hermione to Ron, waiting for them to speak, but since they apparently didn’t have any clue about what to do, he sighed deeply. “Well, I don’t know. I mean it’s pretty obvious that we don’t have anything else to eat in this place, so we’d better buy something – Hermione, you saw the supermarket, right? We can go there tomorrow morning, and then we can always try to find the main church of the village and the cemetery.”

“I think that that’ll be quite easy, Harry,” said Hermione, smiling. “I bet there’s only one church in this village.”

“Yeah, I guess so,” confirmed Harry. “I wonder if my parents chose this village because it was so small and unimportant.”

“Well, it’s strange that of all places they chose a village called Godric’s Hollow. I mean Godric, like Godric Gryffindor.”

“Thanks for pointing that out, Hermione, I don’t really know what we would have done without you,” said Ron sarcastically.

“The problem is that we don’t know if it’s Godric’s Hollow in honour of Godric Gryffindor, and if it is – then why?” she continued, ignoring Ron’s remark. “And above all, why choose a place named after a famous wizard? Wouldn’t it have been better to choose another, lesser-known place?”

“Hey, it’s a Muggle village,” pointed out Ron.

“I know, but we don’t know if it has always been a Muggle village.”

“Do you think that it’s an important place?” asked Harry, eyeing her seriously.

Hermione sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe it was. You usually don’t look in a place where you are sure that there’s nothing, do you?”

“Excuse me?” Harry looked at her perplexed.

“I mean that Voldemort wouldn’t have expected them to hide in such an important place like this, would he? I mean, if this place is important, historically, of course,” she explained.

“And how do we find out if it’s important?” asked Harry.

“How should I know?” asked Hermione back. “I’ve never read about it anywhere, but still I’ve not made much efforts into studying the Geography of the Wizarding world.”

“Really? I thought that there was nothing that you didn’t know,” said Ron, grinning.

“Maybe you are confusing me with Professor McGonagall,” said Hermione sourly. “All right, I think I’ll have a shower and then go to bed.”

“But it’s only eight,” said Ron, checking his watch.

“I’m tired,” she answered curtly.

“Okay,” said Ron, throwing up his hands. “Good night then.”

“Good night, Hermione,” echoed Harry.

“Good night,” she answered, faking a yawn. Then she looked at her plate. “Ron will you –”

“Okay, but only because you are tired,” he said, smiling, and took the plate from the table.

“Thanks,” she murmured, walking out of the kitchen. Before climbing up the stairs, she picked up her luggage then started her ascent towards the second floor. She almost tripped over the broom and the cloths that lay on the floor. Now that they had finished cleaning, the charm had worn off and they were motionless on the landing. Hermione picked them up and placed them back in the bathroom. She checked the other rooms and found she was satisfied because she could nearly see herself in the floor’s reflection.

She placed her luggage on her bed and opened it, carefully taking out her books and looking for a place to put them. She turned on her heel and saw, to her delight, that the bed was smashed between two sizeable bedside tables, perfect for placing her precious books and potions. On the bedside table at the right side of the bed, the one closest to the window, there was also a vase. Hermione hadn’t noticed it earlier, but there was also a plant in that vase. She walked towards it to have a better look. Naturally, the plant was dead, and she wasn’t able to determine what kind of plant it had been. She dropped the books on the bed and seized the vase. It was red with small flowers painted on it. She shrugged without a reason and placed the vase back on the bedside-table.

“Poor plant,” she said aloud. “But there’s no reason to try to find another place for you, is there? I’m only going to stay here a week.”

She picked up her books again and placed them on the other table, some in the drawers and others on the table itself. Finally, she waved her wand and her clothes flew into the wardrobe, which was almost empty except for some small clothes meant for a baby. When she thought that everything was in its place, she proceeded to use the bathroom. Now that she was undressing in the bathroom, where the window had been open for hours, she thought that Harry hadn’t been all that wrong when he lit the fire. She pulled her hair up in a ponytail and stepped into the shower. She had to bite her lip to keep from screaming when the water, which was as cold as ice, hit her skin. She withdrew from the shower, waiting patiently for the water to turn to an acceptable temperature, and shivered on the cold floor. After what seemed like ages to her, the water started to become slightly warmer. She sighed and stepped into the shower once more, pulling the curtain around her and silently wished that the bologna sandwich that she had just eaten would not freeze in her stomach.

She took the quickest shower ever and dried herself with a charm for several minutes before pulling on her pyjamas and walking back to her bedroom. The sky outside the windows was as black as Harry’s hair, and the air that passed through the open window brought the smell of a coming storm. She hurried to close it and stood for a moment to stare outside. The small village seemed almost completely asleep, and though there were some lights in the highest windows of the houses, nobody was walking in the streets. There were no cars at all. She sighed deeply and pulled the curtains closed. Hermione walked towards the bed and, with a flick of her wand, the bed made itself with the sheets that she had brought from home. She wondered if Harry and Ron had brought sheets, too. It didn’t seem very hygienic to sleep between covers that had been lying at the bottom of a wardrobe for sixteen years.

She flopped on the bed and brought the sheets up onto her chest. It was extremely cold in the room. She stared at the ceiling, and, all of a sudden, the thought that Lily’s diary lay right under her bed, attacked her with such force that she gasped. Her vision blurred for a moment and when everything came back to normal she was gripping the diary in her hands without even remembering how she got it.

She opened it and stared at Lily’s beautiful writing. It was neat and tidy, almost like hers. She took a deep breath, sunk into the pillow, and started to read.

Day one.

We arrived at Godric’s Hollow today. James said that we’d be fine here. Rubbish. He knows that we’ll have to live like Muggles, and he knows that since his seventeenth birthday he hasn’t lived a single day of his life without performing any kind of magic. It’ll be hard for him. But we must not perform magic. For us and for Harry. I’m looking out of the window. This village would make my sister feel all warm and happy. It’s so tidy and terribly empty, almost sterile; even scary sometimes. The cottage is nice, even if it’s really small., Harry’s bedroom seems so far from ours that I don’t have the heart to make him sleep there. I think that tonight he will sleep with us, and if James tells me that he is too big, he can always sleep in Harry’s bedroom himself. I have a strange feeling about this place. It’s almost like it’s full of sleeping magic that awaits us to wake it up. And I’m not sure that it’s good magic…

Clang.

The diary slid from Hermione’s hands as her eyes closed and she started to dream.

***

When Harry woke up the next morning, the first things he saw were Ron’s freckles. He smiled softly in his sleepy state, then, when he understood that he was only inches away from his best friend’s face, he literally jumped back, falling off the bed.

“Another five minutes, Mum,” was all Ron muttered before turning onto his other side.

Harry helped himself up, placing his hands on the bed. He glanced at Ron, who was snoring loudly as if he hadn’t said anything at all. He walked towards the chair on which his jumper lay and pulled it on over his pyjamas. Then, trying to make as little noise as he could, he exited the room and walked down the stairs, where the smell of tea was spreading through the house.

“Hey, Harry,” said Hermione, when he entered into the kitchen. “Did you sleep well?”

Harry blinked and yawned. “What are you doing here? It’s only –”

“Eight, I know, but I couldn’t sleep,” she finished for him.

“Why? I thought that you were tired last night,” he said, yawning again.

“I was,” she said. “I just…” her voice trailed away while her cheeks flushed.

“What? Had a nightmare?” asked Harry, suddenly interested.

She shook her head. “No, not a nightmare. A dream, but not a nightmare.”

Harry looked at her without understanding. “And so? You couldn’t sleep because of a dream? What did you dream?”

“I-I can’t remember,” she said and turned to hide the fact that her cheeks were turning redder than Ron’s hair. “I don’t know.”

“Okay,” said Harry calmly. “Are you brewing some tea?”

Hermione nodded, without turning. “I’m sorry, Harry,” she said.

“You are sorry for what?”

“For the weather,” she said, looking out of the window above the basin. “It’s raining.”

“So?” he asked without understanding.

“We won’t be able to look for your parents’ graves,” she explained simply.

That seemed to hit Harry like a blast of cold air. “Don’t we have an umbrella?” he asked abruptly.

Hermione shook her head and turned to place a couple mugs of tea on the table. “No, but we can always walk to the supermarket and buy one there. In the meantime, we can ask directions to the graveyard.”

Harry took the cup that Hermione had placed in front of him and thanked her. “Well, okay.”

Hermione nodded. “Ron?” she asked, sipping her tea as well.

“He’s still sleeping,” he answered with a smile. “He was mumbling something about his mother.”

Hermione nodded. “How did you sleep in the double bed?” she asked, trying to hide a smirk.

“Fine, thanks,” answered Harry curtly. “I’m sure that we were less cold than you, all alone in that room.”

Hermione raised her eyebrows and now her smirk appeared clearly on her lips. “Did you two keep each other warm?”

Harry made a face at her. She burst into laughter, and he joined her a second later.

“Bloody hell, there are people that don’t like to wake up at six in the morning. You didn’t think about that, did you?” asked Ron, yawning and sitting down heavily next to Harry.

“It’s eight, Ron. Not six,” said Hermione gently.

“Yeah, well, you would have liked to sleep more if you had been woken up at least three times last night,” he said, rubbing his eyes.

“Why?” asked Hermione.

“Because Harry had some kind of dream in which he had the urge to talk out loud,” he said. “Can I have a cup of tea too, Hermione?”

Hermione nodded, and shot at Harry a piercing look. “Did you have dreams as well? You didn’t tell me.”

“I didn’t remember,” he lied, but his face had turned suddenly white and guilty. “Did I say something – hem – interesting?” he asked, hoping to sound casual.

Ron’s tired expression changed suddenly into a malicious one. “You were dreaming about a girl, weren’t you?”

Harry gulped nervously. “I don’t know,” he murmured. “What was I saying?”

“Couldn’t understand,” said Ron, shrugging his shoulders. “But it seemed like you were enjoying yourself.”

Harry paled even more, and then, all of a sudden, colour came back to his face like the sky at dusk. “Really?” he asked, wishing that his voice didn’t sound so hoarse.

“Yeah, you also muttered a couple of different names, but your voice was too low for me to understand, and I was too sleepy,” he said. “Thanks, Hermione,” he added, when she placed the mug in front of him. “When are we going to the supermarket?”

“When we’re ready,” answered Hermione. She looked at Ron worriedly. “Ron, will you please let Harry and I cope with the cashiers there?”

Ron narrowed his eyes. “Do you think that I’m not able to do a little shopping?”

“How many times have you been in a Muggle supermarket?”

“None, but –”

“I’m not telling you that you aren’t able to do a little shopping. I just think that you have to get accustomed to Muggle life,” she said evenly.

Ron rolled his eyes. “Okay, I’ll follow you two and stay absolutely silent the entire morning.”

“We didn’t hope for so much, mate,” said Harry, grinning.

“Wow, the friends that everybody would want to have,” he said sarcastically.

“Why, thanks, Ron,” answered Hermione. “Anyway, I’ll go get ready. Shall we meet in the living room in ten minutes?”

“What?” asked Ron, spitting tea everywhere. “Ginny takes at least half an hour to get ready.”

Hermione shrugged and disappeared up the stairs.

“She’s crazy,” muttered Ron. “I’m not ready to go out so early in the morning. This has never happened.”

“There’s always a first time, Ron.” Harry chuckled.

Ron snorted and then added something else of which Harry understood only ‘Hermione’ and ‘stupid Muggle shopping’ and then they went upstairs to get changed.

***

Hermione was already waiting for them in the living room when they climbed back down the stairs. Ron wearing one of Mrs Weasley’s jumpers and a pair of jeans, Harry a blue sweater and a pair of jeans as well. They were wearing raincoats on top of everything else.

“Why are you wearing a skirt?” asked Ron when he spotted Hermione.

She shrugged. “Because I felt like wearing a skirt,” she snapped back, feeling rebellious. “I just wanted to wear something different for a change.”

“For going shopping?”

She shrugged. She really didn’t know why she had worn her skirt. She never wore it, but that day she just felt like wearing something more feminine. “Shall we go?”

They nodded and exited onto the lawn. The rain was falling heavily around them as they crossed the garden and turned into the street. They had their hoods over their heads and the coats closed tightly around their bodies. Hermione was in front, followed by Harry and Ron. They tried to look at the houses of the main street of Godric’s Hollow, but they seemed well hidden behind the curtains of rain. When they passed in front of the house where the old man had helped them the day before, they spotted a light in the windows of the first floor. Looking with great effort, they spotted the man standing behind a glass, half hidden by a curtain, peering back at them.

“I feel like I’m being watched,” said Ron, shivering.

“Let’s just hurry up,” said Hermione, walking faster on the pavement.

Finally, they reached the small supermarket, which seemed to be the heart of Godric’s Hollow. A big, lighted sign was placed above the sliding door at the entrance and some cars were parked there. They ran inside, wetting the floor of the supermarket with their shoes. The cashiers looked at them and made a face as if they were rubbish left for too many days next to the door.

“Okay, now I’m scared,” said Harry. “It’s almost like being in a place where everybody is like my aunt and uncle. I don’t like it.”

“Don’t be silly, Harry,” said Hermione, waving a hand and picking up a trolley.

“He’s right, and that man was looking at us from the window,” said Ron, shaking from the cold and the water.

“Ron, it’s very likely that he wasn’t even seeing us. There was too much rain,” said Hermione, starting to push the trolley between the rows of shelves full of food. “Let’s talk about something important,” she added, looking at the biscuits. “Brownies or muffins?”

It took them almost all the morning to do the shopping. Harry and Ron didn’t like anything Hermione wanted, and Hermione couldn’t manage to make them buy any kind of vegetables. That wasn’t exactly true, since they had asked for potatoes.

“Can you make chips, Hermione?” has asked Ron, hopefully.

“I can try,” she answered vaguely. She had never tried to do them. How difficult can it be? she wondered.

Ron had been quiet all morning. Asking about everything, of course, but only to Harry and Hermione. He had never even tried to talk to an employee, probably because he found them extremely nasty and didn’t want to get near them. Hermione and Harry paid the whole bill, but Ron offered to pay the next time they would have to buy something.

They walked back to the cottage with three new umbrellas and six bags. They weren’t too heavy because they divided everything into equal parts. Each of them carried two bags, instead of stuffing everything into just four.

The rain was still pouring down insistently, but luckily, they had the umbrellas now. When they passed again in front of the old man’s house, they didn’t even remember to look at it, since they were too eager to come back and prepare something to eat. No one, especially not Ron, thought that doing the shopping could have been so tiring. He was starving.

“Take off your shoes,” said Hermione to them as soon as they approached the cottage. “I don’t want to have to clean everything a second time.”

“Hey, it was us who cleaned here,” protested Ron, taking off his shoes with his feet.

Hermione smiled. “Right, then, you’ll have to clean if you’ll get dirt on the floor.”

Ron snorted and walked into the kitchen, leaving wet footprints on the floor, because his trainers didn’t prevent his socks from getting wet. When he and Harry entered the kitchen, Hermione was already putting the food away in the cupboards. The vegetables were at her left and the meat at her right.

Ron sat heavily on a chair. “So,” he started awkwardly. “Chips?”

“I’ll try,” said Hermione airily. “But I can’t promise you anything.”

“Okay, I’ll finish putting things away,” he said, practically shoving the potatoes into her hands.

“And I’ll set the table,” said Harry.

They didn’t use magic for cooking or putting things in the cupboards or setting the table. That was why some of the chips were burnt, others rare, but the last ones were edible. But nobody said anything because Hermione had a quite murderous look on her face after the oil had squirted on her hair.

Ron offered to tidy up the kitchen while Harry and Hermione relaxed on the couch of the living room. Harry suspected it was only because he wanted to open the box of muffins that Hermione had said were strictly reserved for breakfast.

“Do you think that it’ll stop raining?” Harry sighed heavily, looking out of one of the windows of the living room. The rain banged against the glass as if it was going to tear down the house.

“This afternoon?” asked Hermione, opening the book that she’s just collected from upstairs.

Harry nodded.

“No, I don’t think so,” she answered. “But if it keeps on raining all week we’ll go looking for the cemetery anyway. A bit of rain can’t prevent us from going there, can it?”

Harry smiled. “No. But if it keeps on raining all day, what will we do?”

Hermione shrugged her shoulders. “There’s plenty of things to do, I think. I mean, have you already looked into the wardrobes in your room? We could have a peek inside them.”

“We’ve already looked inside – Ron and I, yesterday evening – but there was nothing. I mean, I don’t know what I’d planned to find, I just know that there wasn’t anything interesting,” said Harry. “Not that it helps our research on the Horcruxes, naturally, but I’ve learned that my dad liked green. He had many green jumpers.”

“Maybe he liked green because it was the colour of you and your mother’s eyes,” she said gently.

“Maybe,” said Harry thoughtfully.

“Done!” said Ron, entering the living room.

“Thanks, Ron,” said Hermione. “I only hope that you left some muffins for tomorrow.”

Ron grinned and sat down next to Hermione, sandwiching her between Harry and himself. “So what are the plans for today?”

“Sit here and stare at the rain, I guess,” answered Harry flatly.

“What? Don’t we have anything interesting to do? No room to clean, no book to study?” asked Ron sarcastically.

Hermione stuck out her tongue at him but didn’t say a word.

Harry stood up from the couch and walked towards a cupboard in front of him. “Well, I found one thing while I was cleaning up the living room, but I didn’t say anything because I don’t know if it works,” he said, making the doors slide open.

“What is it?” asked Ron as soon as he saw the black square object that Harry was showing them.

“A television,” said Harry, picking up the remote control and repeating, “but I don’t know if it works.” He sat back on the couch and pushed some buttons randomly. Nothing happened.

“It seems that it doesn’t work,” said Hermione, flipping the pages of his book.

“What should it do?” asked Ron.

“See things, videos,” explained Harry. He threw the remote control on the armchair and shrugged. “It must be too old, or maybe it didn’t work when there were my parents here as well. I don’t remember we used to watch TV.”

“I bet you don’t, Harry, you were too young,” said Hermione patiently.

“What’s that?” asked Ron, sitting up suddenly and walking towards the television. “There’s something on this vetelision.”

“Television,” corrected Hermione, without raising her eyes from the book.

“Whatever,” said Ron, pulling something that looked like a fine box of wood from the space between the television and the cupboard. “Oh, now that’s interesting. A chess board,” he said eagerly. “Hey, Harry what about –”

“Okay,” said Harry cheerfully. “Always better than looking at the rain.”

“Or at a broken TV,” said Hermione.

“Right.” He knelt in front of the coffee table while Ron sat in front of him. They were both a bit disappointed by the fact that the chess set wasn’t a Wizarding one, but that didn’t prevent them from playing for hours, even if Ron always forgot that he had to move his pieces with his hands instead of direct them with his voice. Hermione silently wondered how could they go on for so long and how Harry never got tired of losing. At the same time, Ron and Harry wondered how Hermione could concentrate on a book for hours. She paused once to open the door for Crookshanks, who had claimed a little walk outside even if it was still raining.

They went on in an odd silence, interrupted only by Ron’s swearing, Harry’s laugh, and Hermione’s sighs. But they were all too focused on what they were doing to notice that the rain had stopped falling. Only when Hermione stood up to turn on the lights in the living room did she glance out of the window and see that the clouds were slowly disappearing from the sky, which was turning various shades of red and orange and pink.

“It stopped raining,” she said, sitting back to the couch. She had almost a headache from all the reading.

Harry raised his eyes. “Finally,” he said. “I hope that it won’t rain again tomorrow, though.”

“It doesn’t look like it’s going to,” she said. “I’ll go and have a look for Crookshanks.”

“To make sure he hasn’t drowned?” asked Ron.

“Exactly,” answered Hermione, smiling. She stood up and walked towards the kitchen and then the back door, where she’d let the cat out. In front of her, there was a part of the house that she hadn’t had the chance to visit: the lawn out back.

“Crookshanks?” she called from the door.

The cat was nowhere in sight. The leaves of the trees were dropping water on the grass, and the cold air of the evening coloured her cheeks with a nice shade of crimson. She climbed down the first stairs that led to the garden and called her cat another time. Still she didn’t see it.

She shivered slightly in her jumper when her feet touched the wet grass of the garden. The lawn itself wasn’t particularly big, but all around it there were trees and bushes that grew so thickly that it almost looked like a pool of grass in a forest.

“Crookshanks!” she called another time. She stood still, listening to every single sound that came from the bushes until finally she heard something. A noise came from a small bush of roses, which should have been covered with flowers in that August evening, but thanks to Voldemort and his love for the cold temperatures, it didn’t have the chance to flower.

Hermione knelt in front of the bush. “Crookshanks,” she called tiredly. “Come on, it’s cold, and I’m not exactly in the mood for games.”

Crookshanks’ head appeared between the leaves and the thorns. He looked at Hermione with his yellow eyes, and she stretched out her arms to pick him up, but stopped dead when he pulled back his ears and hissed, showing his pointy teeth. She looked at him, bewildered, then rolled her eyes.

“Crookshanks, what’s the –”

But a hand covered Hermione’s mouth and prevented her from finishing the lecture that she was going to give to her cat. Another hand grasped her around her waist and raised her so violently that she felt the person stagger and take a step back. With a loud noise, they both crashed against the bins, and Hermione hoped that Harry and Ron had heard them.

She felt some sweaty, wet hair sticking to her cheek as he bent over her and hissed, “Make a sound, Mudblood, and you are dead.” Her eyes opened wide as she immediately recognised the voice of the unwanted guest.

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