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It’s Not Just Make Believe
Chapter 1 – Ingenious Ideas

By real_life_sucks
Not beta’d yet…but will be soon by the awesome shauna =D
And this story is totally dedicated to her, because it is light and happy =D

Author’s Note: I know, bad me. Another story. But I promise with all my heart that this one will be finished. It will be, at the LONGEST, ten chapters. Probably between five and ten chapters. So….10,000+ words. I hope you guys enjoy this, this is my first real attempt at fluff/happy in…well, long time. So I hope you guys enjoy this and everything. As always, rate and review please!

Dropping into the chair, Hermione stared dully at the wall in front of her. The last few days had been the same monotonous routine as always – wake up, shower, eat, go to the office, stay late, come home, and sleep. Day after day, week after week, with no change. Occasionally, far and few between, her so called friends would stop in to visit her, but for the most part, they were too caught up in their families. Harry was with Ginny and Ron was with a different girl every week. Hermione had dumped him when his ego had grown too large to be bearable…all because he had started to play Quidditch professionally.

With an abrupt sigh and pinching her nose between her fingers, Hermione stood up from the plush chair and made her way into the kitchen. Like an ever growing mountain, letters from employees, her clients, and everyone else under the sun had accumulated through the day, and she made a disgusted noise as she reached in the fridge for the milk. Preparing a bowl of cereal, the brunette allowed her thoughts to wander towards a particular individual, whose identity was still unknown to her. For the last two months, she had received a letter from him, the owl always delivering it when she was gone, and it conversed with her. She would obediently write back, attach it to her owl, who knew just where to drop it off, and she wouldn’t hear from him till the next day.

Setting her bowl down, she ate her cereal with one hand as she flipped through the letters, sorting them into piles so she knew how to go through them. After placing the tenth letter from Hannah Boisen in a pile, a smile spread across Hermione’s face as she recognized the flowing script on the envelope beneath it. Picking it and her bowl up, she dumped the bowl into the sink before sitting at her kitchen table, clearing a small space, and reading the letter that sat in front of her.

For the next 15 minutes, Hermione read the letter, laughing at intervals as he told her some story of his past or some other various event. Finally coming to the end, where the signing was only with a large, flourished D, Hermione smiled to herself as she imagined meeting this man for the first time. In every aspect as she had seen so far, he seemed to be the perfect man for her. He was witty, intelligent, and even in the letters; he dared to challenge her knowledge on a subject. He put in jokes at the right time, and continued to be serious when expected. It was almost as if he had known her in the past, and was just know deciding to interact with her…

Minutes later she was already writing her response when a scratching on her kitchen window caused her to look up, startled by the sudden noise. Seeing a white owl outside the window, Hermione smiled lightly as she recognized Harry’s owl. Moving from her seat to the window in a few seconds, she opened up the window, unprepared for the cold draft that swept through the room. Hastily closing it as soon as the white wings were through, she walked to the kitchen counter where Hedwig sat, preening his wings. Reaching her hand into a drawer and pulling out a treat, Hermione deftly untied the letter with her other hand. Setting the treat on the counter and letting the owl eat at is leisure before going back outside, Hermione slid her finger under the envelope flap and pulled it apart.

“You are formally invited!” The booming voice startled both the bird and Hermione, the latter jumping several inches into the air, placing her hand on her heart as the voice continued. “This Halloween, Harry and Ginny Potter will be hosting a Masquerade Ball at their house! All who are invited are permitted one guest, who will need to present a letter saying whose guest they are at the door. Please RSVP as soon as possible!” At the end of the announcement, the letter exploded into tiny pieces of orange and black confetti that littered the otherwise spotless kitchen.

Exasperated, Hermione whipped out wand and muttered a quick incantation that cleaned up the mess of paper. Looking to the calendar that hung on her wall, Hermione noted that it was indeed the 23rd of October – she hadn’t paid much attention to the days except to note when a deadline was. Turning back to writing a response to her secret friend, Hermione’s brain turned over a thought that had presented itself during the loud presentation of the invitation.

Both of them had mentioned finally meeting each other since they had been corresponding for a while – and what better place to do so than a Masquerade Ball? It would allow them to get comfortable in each other’s presence before his identity was revealed to her – he already knew hers, so that would be no surprise to him. Having finished the letter, Hermione hastily added in a note about it at the bottom. Grabbing another piece of paper, she wrote a hasty RSVP note to her friends. Attaching the latter to Hedwig, she sent the owl on his way before heading into the living room to wake up her own owl, Mocha. Attaching the letter to her leg, she opened the window in the living room and sent her on her way. Hastily closing it against the cold, she headed back into the kitchen where she attacked the letters from her clients that had accumulated during the day.

Eying the sandwich that sat on her desk, Hermione attempted to ignore the rumbling in her stomach and focus instead on the paperwork that sat in front of her. The battle continued for several long minutes before Hermione threw her pen down on the papers and picked up the sandwich, taking a large bite out of it, and closing her eyes as she savored it. Hearing a cough from her door, she slowly opened her eyes, still in mid-bite, and felt the blood rushing to her cheeks as Neville stood at the door, trying not to laugh.

As her boss entered the room and took a seat across from her, Hermione hastily dug out a napkin and wiped her face, hastily chewing the food she had only recently stuffed into her mouth. Several, embarrassing, moments later, she finally smiled tentatively at Neville. “Sorry. I haven’t eaten all day.” Taking a sip of the now cold tea that sat on her desk, she waited for her boss to say something.

After a time, Neville cleared his throat and placed a letter on her desk. Confused, Hermione went to pick it up, turning around the envelope to see if there was any writing on it. Seeing just a simple, block writing with her name, she opened the envelope. Quickly scanning the contents, a smile worked its way onto her face as she recognized her anonymous friend’s writing. “Well, do we need to do something about it? Last time you got one like this, it was a death threat.” Hermione looked up, disorientated.

“Oh, sorry Neville. No, don’t worry. It’s just a friend of mine that I’ve been corresponding with for a while. He likes to pull tricks sometimes.” Hermione smiled and placed the letter in an opened drawer, thrilled that he had written to her earlier than she had expected – but he had said nothing about her question concerning the ball. Unless he planned on sending another letter, he had mentioned that she shouldn’t respond until she got another letter. He could have been in a hurry or something.

After several moments, she looked up from her drawer where she’d been staring absently to see Neville still sitting in the seat, looking at his hands. “Is there something else, Neville?” Hermione asked hesitantly, never having seen Neville appear as nervous as he did now since they were in school.

Hermione sat patiently and watched her long friend as he sat there for a few more moments. Abruptly, Neville looked up with a brief smile before standing. Hermione hastened to stand after him and walked around her desk to walk him out of the room. “It was nothing. And eat – I can escort myself out.” His quiet voice halted Hermione in her steps, and she stood perplexed as he hastily left the room before heading back towards her desk.

Taking small and elegant bites, Hermione finished off her sandwich while going through paperwork. Hours later, having sorted the last piece of paper into a pile, she looked at her clock to see it was only 5:49 p.m – an early end to the day. Grabbing her coat and a few other things, she walked into the main room. “I’ve finished my paperwork and I’m off. Would you file it for me Regina? Take off when you’re done.” Hermione smiled at her petite, blonde secretary.

Hastily exiting the building before anyone could stop her, Hermione rode the elevator down to the ground floor, leaning back against the wall to relax as she did so. She ignored the people who entered the elevator, feeling much too tired to speak to any of them. As soon as the door dinged on the floor she needed, she jumped ahead of everyone, ignoring the mutters of complaint. Stepping into the waning sun, she smiled as she hurried down the street, determined to stop in a store before the closing time of 6:30 – it had been at least a month since she had been able to shop there.

Turning into a side alley, Hermione jumped up the steps and opened the door into a musty smelling place, full of books. Going through the aisles, Hermione picked books off the shelf at random before flipping through them. Occasionally she would place one in the crook of her arm, but most she set back on the shelf. Coming a section marked Muggle, she slowed down and placed many more books in her arm, amazed as always by how many vintage, muggle books wizards would find in their home.

Finally having her arms loaded, Hermione struggled to the front of the little store and placed the books on the checkout table while digging in her bag for her money. “Hello Ms. Granger.” A quiet voice commented from behind the books, and Hermione smiled as she took a step to the right to see the little old man.

“Hello, Mr. Jenkins. It has been too long since I’ve been here.” Hermione smiled gratefully at the little old man who was slowly tallying up the costs for her books. He smiled a wizened and toothy smile at her and continued the process.

Placing the books in a bag, he looked down at the paper in his hand. “That brings your total to 46 galleons and 6 knuts. And that is with your credit being used also.” His eyes twinkled with held in laughter as he took Hermione’s money. “Send these to the same address as usual?”

Taking the bag in her hand, Hermione hefted it over the counter. “No, I plan on going straight home today, Mr. Jenkins. I’m expecting a letter.” With that she smiled one last time at Mr. Jenkins before disappearing with a pop into her living room.

Setting the books on her couch, she shed her coat and set her briefcase on top of them before heading back into the kitchen to the very familiar pile of letters. Quickly sorting them as usual, she came to the so familiar flowing script. Slipping open the envelope, she pulled the note out and read it while grabbing a bottle of water from the fridge.

Setting the plastic bottle in the sink minutes later, Hermione smiled happily to herself – he had agreed to meet her at the dance as her guest. Grabbing a piece of parchment and a muggle pen, she sat down to write a response, falling into her normal ways easily.

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