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Hermione Granger feels numb. Diligently, she tends the soil patch that surrounds Rubeus Hagrid’s hut while her mind remains a complete blank. Perhaps for the first time in her life, she doesn’t worry about the future. Only the now counts and matters.

It has been a week since the outrageous affair of the necklace and she has long been done grieving over it. Ever meticulous, she gave herself a night—just one—to cry and move on from being angry to depressed then finally to this stage of unfeeling. She did the works on what is expected of a suffering girl, like tirelessly recalling everything that happened and asking herself an endless list of questions. It was sickening process that she knew was necessary. She would have gladly skipped the part but it strangely soothed her and finally, even lulled her to sleep.

When she woke up though, the questions were still there but much less damning with the absence of her tears. Where would she be now had she kept her temper in the first place? Would’ve things gone another way if she never apologized to Draco Malfoy for having hurt his feelings? Could she have saved herself the shame had she deafened her ears and heart to his speech about having “something” together?

Something. As Hermione mulls over the word, she feels that anticipatory sting in the nose of one just about to cry. Hastily, she swaps the rake for the shovel leaning against Hagrid’s hut and starts digging holes for elderberry sprigs. She will not let herself cry.

Something. It’s not even a word worth holding on to. And yet she did. How incredibly intelligent of her. How many O.W.L.s did she get again? And wasn’t she prefect now made head girl? What again do we call tarts that believe pompous gits like Draco?

She breathes deeply as begins to feel pain radiate on her lower back. She almost forgot how to garden the Muggle way. And now that her memory’s been appropriately refreshed, she finds it rather bracing.

Professor McGonagall specifically stated only non-magic creature grooming for her punishment but Hermione craved one backbreaking job after the next. After convincing Hagrid that she can finish her given task in half the time expected, the gamekeeper allowed her a couple of chores here and there. Nothing too heavy as he remains convinced of her innocence.

 “Wha’ is—are you planting them sprigs too?” demands Hagrid from the doorway of his hut. “Hermione, I told yeh ter only rake o’er the soil. Tha’s quite enough.”

The girl sighs but doesn’t answer.

“Don’t start. You stop tha’ and come inside fer some tea. It’s getting’ real cold out.”

Again, Hermione gives no reply continues to dig. She hears him step out of his hut, muttering incomprehensibly. He moves on to light the torches around his property, starting from the front and finally ending at the backyard where Hermione just about started planting.

She senses him leering over her, perhaps getting ready to pry the shovel from her hands. To be sure, she moves over to a farther patch and digs a new hole.

“Why are yeh doing this Hermione?” he asks, frustrated.

Work keeps me busy, she answers in her head.

Hagrid sighs and whistles for Fang to stand beside him. “Hermione, yer friends are worried about yeh. Harry and Ron said yer not talking to them. An’ Ginny noticed that yeh haven’t bin eating. Yer goin’ ter kill yerself with all that work and no food to draw energy from.”

From the tone of his voice, she knows Hagrid is eager to get her talking about what transpired between her and Draco. She does want to talk to him and Harry and Ron about it, more than anything. They are, after all, her best friends. But she still hasn’t enough courage and strength to begin the story, even end it. For now, she just needs the wounds to heal. She then decides to humor the gamekeeper and speak. She’s been dying to ask him a question anyway.

“Hagrid,” Hermione finally says, “will Aurora be okay? With her new family, I mean. I overhead Madame Pomfrey and Professor Snape talking in the Great Hall last night and they said both her parents are dead so she’s actually getting adopted.”

For a moment, Hagrid is shocked to hear her voice but manages to gain aplomb to answer her. “Of course!” he exclaims in a delighted tone. “She’ll be in good hands, Aurora. Dumbledore made sure they got professionals ter help her out. Yeh got nuthin’ to worry about tha’ baby.”

He looks up and frowns at the full moon, its celestial glow surrounded by ominous clouds.

Hermione follows his gaze and smiles meekly at the sight. “A fairy circle.”

“Yep,” says Hagrid slowly. “Tha’ means storm’s a-coming.”

“Oh dear. Aurora absolutely hates them. She got really sick that last big one. I hope this time won’t be so bad.”

“Don’t worry. She’ll get through any tuft o’ weather, thanks to you and Draco. You both did a good job restorin’ her.”

“Yeah,” she mutters. “Some team.”

Hagrid sighs and sits down on one of the tree stumps around his vegetable garden. Perhaps bored with conversation, Fang walks back to the hut to get some sleep.

“He’s jus’ one boy, Hermione. Don’t let him get yeh all screwed-up jus’ because he broke yer heart.”

Upon hearing his words, Hermione froze in her place, staring at the soil.

“Harry and Ginny pretty much got an idea already,” the gamekeeper explains. “What with the secret trips ter Hogsmeade and the Saturdays you spend in detention, they reckon you two were a lot like ‘em when they were hidin’ their dates from Ron. Speakin’ of which, tha’ boy still can’t believe it but he admits he’s never seen you this happy.”

She remains speechless. Tears trickle down her cheeks and she mentally curses herself for breaking her promise to stand strong.

Hagrid gently pats her hand. “There, there.” He wipes her tears with his gigantic handkerchief. “Who would’ve thought, huh? You and Draco,” he chuckles. “He’s been makin’ yeh cry since you were both eleven. But this one’s definitely the different sort.”

“It’s not,” she says, shaking her head defiantly. “He was being himself all this time. I just never saw it. I believed otherwise, I thought he’d change. Obviously, I’m wrong. People never change.”

Hagrid looks thoughtful but doesn’t say another word on the topic. Instead, he casts another wary glance at the moon. “Well, detention’s over an’ you better be goin’ back to the castle. I reckon this storm’s starting tonight and believe me, you wouldn’t want to be out here when it does.”

Hermione nods suddenly feeling tired. She knows she still has an hour of detention but she decides to humor Hagrid for once. Maybe she can convince Madame Pomfrey to let her see Aurora tonight, even for a short while. She misses her terribly and last Wednesday’s time with her was short and of course, a little strained with Draco lurking about. She wants time alone with the little sister she never had. It just started to hit her that she will never see her again.

 She hands Hagrid the spade and rake. “Thanks Hagrid.”

“No problem,” the gamekeeper nods.

As Hermione walks back to the castle, she looks again at the moon, suddenly remembering something Hagrid said. “Professionals,” she blinks.

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