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This chapter will bring Hermione into the story (finally), as well as tell you what happened to Carla’s parents. That should be fun, yes?

As usual, I don’t own Harry Potter. That makes me sad.

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Chapter 3 – Hermione Returns

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!

BEEP-BEEP-BEEP-BEEP!

BEEP-BEEP-BEE – thunk!

Harry groaned as he rolled himself out of bed to face the new day. Taking a shower and sliding into clean clothes, Harry shuffled out of his room and into the hallway. He opened the door to Ted’s room to see him still sleeping, his hair its natural dark brown color. Chuckling, Harry closed the door and walked down to Carla’s room. He opened it to see her sitting on her bed, her arms wrapped around her knees.

“Hey,” he said softly. She turned her head to look at him. “Are you hungry?”

“Yeah,” she responded, nodding her head.

“Come on, then, I’ll make you something,” Harry said. Carla slid off of her bed and followed him down to the kitchen. “What would you like? Eggs? Cereal? Pancakes?” he asked.

“Just cereal,” Carla said. Nodding, Harry pulled a box of corn flakes and a gallon jug of milk out of the fridge and poured some into a bowl.

“How much milk do you like?” Harry asked as he twisted the cap off of the milk.

“Lots,” Carla said simply. Nodding, Harry poured the milk until it almost completely filled the bowl. He carefully lowered the bowl to her to see if it met her satisfaction. When she nodded, he flicked his wrist, and the bowl gently floated to the table, along with a spoon. Carla sat down and began eating while Harry made himself a cup of instant coffee and sat down with her. After eating in silence, Carla looked up at Harry. “Why did you take me?” she asked. Harry sighed as he looked down pensively at his half-drunk coffee.

“Because a long time ago, I lived in a cupboard too,” he said sadly. “The difference was, I didn’t have anyone to rescue me.” Harry took another sip of coffee and sighed again. “But that’s all in the past,” he added in a tone of finality. As Carla finished and Harry gathered her bowl to put into the sink, he saw Ted shuffle sleepily into the room. “How can I help you, good sir?” Harry asked, amusement twinkling in his eyes.

“Cerrl, pease...” Ted mumbled, dragging himself to the table and propping his head up with his arms, trying not to fall asleep again. Rolling his eyes comically, Harry poured Ted a bowl of cereal and set in front of Ted, along with a spoon. “Th’nks,” he mumbled as he slowly began eating. As Harry made himself another cup of coffee, the phone began to ring. He picked it up and looked at the caller ID. Grinning, he activated the phone and held it up to his ear.

“Hey, how was the conference?” he asked.

“Not as productive as I’d like it to be,” Hermione grumbled on the other line. “The people at the French Ministry of Magic are so blood pompous, it’s ridiculous! And I thought our government was bad!”

“Wow, it must really be bad if it drives the great Hermione Granger to swearing,” Harry said, laughing.

“Ha, ha, laugh it up, Potter,” Hermione responded sardonically. “How did you hold up without me?”

“Well, I didn’t burn the house down, if that’s what you’re asking,” Harry said, looking at his surroundings. “Are you coming around later?” he asked curiously.

“In a bit; I need a shower first,” she replied. “Why?” Harry looked at the children, who were talking about something at the table. He quietly walked into another room and cast mufflatio on the door.

“Well, I kind of have a favor to ask of you,” Harry said. He could practically hear Hermione roll her eyes at him.

“What did you do this time?” she asked. Harry rolled his eyes at her before continuing.

“I adopted a little girl yesterday,” he said softly. On the other end, he heard Hermione scream in delight, something she rarely did.

“Oh, Harry, that’s so adorable!” she gushed loudly through the phone.

“Yes, it may, but I just realized that she has no extra clothes,” Harry said, holding the phone up to the ear that hadn’t been screamed at, “so I was wondering if you’d be so kind as to take her shopping? I don’t think I could handle the humiliation...or the tabloids.” He heard Hermione laugh into the phone.

“Alright, I’ll help you with your little girl problem, but you owe me,” she said.

“I’ve been owing you for years, Hermione, but you never collect,” Harry said, chuckling.

“I’ll be there in an hour, see you later,” Hermione said.

“‘Kay,” Harry replied. He was silent for a moment before continuing. “It’s good to have you back, Hermione.”

“It’s good to be back; ‘bye,” she said before hanging up. Hanging up himself, Harry went back into the dining room to see Ted and Carla playing a game of cards. Taking Ted’s empty bowl, Harry quietly washed the dishes, and sat down in the living room, reading a Quidditch magazine, patiently awaiting Hermione’s arrival.

An hour later, Harry heard a knocking from his front door, and immediately shot out of his chair and ran to the door, pulling it open. Standing on the doorstep was Hermione, dressed in blue jeans and a black t-shirt. Her hair had smoothed out over the years, and now hung past her shoulders in small curls.

“I hear you’re having girl problems?” she said, raising an eyebrow.

“You heard right,” Harry said with a straight face. He stepped aside to allow her entry, and once she had stepped inside, he closed the door and wrapped her in a hug. “I’ve missed you,” he whispered into her ear.

“Harry, I’ve only been gone a week,” Hermione laughed. “But I missed you too.” Patting him on the back, they relinquished their holds on each other and walked deeper into the house.

“Auntie Mi!” Ted yelled as he wrapped his arms around Hermione’s waist. “I missed you so much!” Hermione laughed as she patted Ted on the head affectionately.

“I missed you too, Teddy,” Hermione said assuredly. “Is Tribble doing well?” Ted bobbed his head, still holding onto her. Hermione gently pulled Ted off of her and walked into the common room to see Carla sitting on the floor reading one of Ted’s children’s books. Harry cleared his throat, and Carla looked up at the group.

“Hi,” she said shyly, waving to Hermione.

“Hi,” Hermione said, sitting on a chair near Carla. “I’m Hermione, what’s your name?”

“Carla Dursley,” Carla said softly. Hermione looked at Harry, her eyebrows raised. Harry simply mouthed “later”, and Hermione turned back to Carla while Harry nudged Ted away.

“So, Harry tells me that you need some clothes,” Hermione said conversationally. Carla nodded silently, looking down at her book. “Well, Harry decided to be a typical boy and avoid shopping, so it’s up to me to take you. There’s a store just down the road, maybe we can pick up an ice cream later?” Carla immediately nodded vigorously, and ran to get her shoes.

A few minutes later, Carla was sitting in the backseat of Hermione’s silver BMW.

“So, how long have you lived with Harry?” Hermione asked, glancing at Carla’s reflection in her rearview mirror.

“Since yesterday,” Carla said. Hermione nodded at her answer.

“Do you like it there?” she asked. Carla nodded.

“He’s nice, and Ted is fun to play with.” Carla looked like she was about to continue, but decided against it. Hermione pulled into a shopping complex and they walked into Macy’s. An hour later, they walked out with three weeks worth of clothes for Carla and two ice cream cones. “Can you do magic too?” she asked on their drive back to 12 Grimmauld Place.

“Yes, I can,” Hermione said. Carla silently licked her ice cream before talking again.

“Do you have a boyfriend?” she asked curiously. Hermione laughed and shook her head.

“No, I don’t really want a boyfriend right now; my job and Harry are good enough for me,” Hermione said. “Before you ask, I work at the government. I talk to people from other countries to do things, it’s very boring,” she continued, answering Carla’s unspoken question. “How do you do in school?” she asked. Carla shrugged in response.

“I’m okay,” she said indifferently. “I like math, but history is really boring.” Hermione laughed again.

“Yeah, my history teacher was really boring too. I think I was the only one in the whole school who could stay awake through his lessons.” The two continued talking until they pulled in front of 12 Grimmauld Place. Carla dragged Hermione to her room, and she placed Carla’s clothes on her bed, and she began pulling tags off and sorting them into their respective drawers. “Will you be okay by yourself?” Hermione asked. Carla nodded, and Hermione went downstairs to see Harry and Ted playing exploding snap. Hermione watched silently as the two finished their game, several explosions later. When Harry saw Hermione, he told Ted to go upstairs to see what Carla was up to and cleaned himself up.

“Thanks for doing that for me, Hermione,” Harry said, pulling himself upright. Hermione shrugged casually.

“It was nothing,” Hermione said. “Harry, we need to talk.” Harry looked at her confusedly.

“About what?” he inquired.

“Carla,” Hermione said simply. Harry sighed, and waved his hand, soundproofing the room.

“Where should I begin?” Harry asked as they both sat down.

“The beginning usually works,” Hermione responded. Harry sighed and nodded.

“After we renovated this place, I went back to Privet Drive, and I had a long talk with Aunt Petunia. When I left, we were far from complete reconciliation, but we had begun to rebuild the bridges we had burned. I left her my phone number, and a few months later, I get a call from her saying that Dudley had gotten some girl pregnant, and that she was taking care of the baby now,” Harry recited evenly. “And yesterday, I get a call from Vernon saying that Aunt Petunia had died, and pretty much told me to take Carla off of his hands, so I did.”

“What happened to Dudley?” Hermione asked.

“A couple years after Carla was born, Dudley was in an accident. He was convicted of driving while intoxicated and vehicular manslaughter; as far as I know, he’s still in prison.” Hermione gasped at this news.

“And the mother?” she asked in a small voice. Harry shrugged indifferently.

“Wanted nothing to do with her. She dropped Carla in Dudley’s lap as soon as she was born and never looked back.” Harry laughed bitterly. “Even after the war, there are still people out there who are willing to throw another’s life away simply because it doesn’t suit them.” Hermione laid a gentle hand on his shoulder.

“Then it’s a good thing that there are people like you to help pick up the pieces,” she said comfortingly. She stole a glance at her watch and gasped. “I’ve got to go; I’ve got to write my report to turn it in tomorrow!” Harry laughed at her panicking state.

“Yes, being head of the Department of International and Interracial Cooperation is a very demanding position,” he said as he led Hermione to the door. “Don’t hesitate to drop by, Hermione,” he said as he opened the door.

“Don’t hesitate to call me if you need help,” Hermione responded. She gave him a quick peck on the cheek before running out and climbing into her car. Waving good-bye, Harry closed the door and walked back inside. He checked on the children to see Ted teaching Carla how to play Wizard’s Chess, and went back to his magazine.

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I hope that this chapter satisfies you.

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