I wasn’t annoyed at them, not at all. Quite the opposite, in fact. It’s just that I didn’t think he’d be there.



Ron and Harry had gone searching for Horcruxes, and although Ron tried to persuade me to come too, I declined. I wanted to stay on for my seventh year. I wanted to have a world of jobs open to me, by getting the exam results I was expected to get. And I knew Ron wasn’t as interested in me as he made out. I knew he still loved Lavender.



But I didn’t care. I wasn’t feeling hurt, or upset. Nothing like that. I was happy for Won-Won and Lav-Lav. Of course I was. How could I not be? But I missed Harry and Ron. A lot. Because before then, we’d done everything together. How could I face Hogsmeade visits alone? Moping around Honeydukes, remembering all the good times at The Three Broomsticks.



But, that was all irrelevant. They were gone, and I had stayed behind. God, what a stereotypical woman I was! Letting the men go and do the dirty work, while I stayed to learn and become a well-learned person. Not that I wasn’t already well-learned.



And so, I found myself seated in a compartment on the Hogwarts Express quite alone. I fingered my Head Girl badge mournfully, wishing I could be sharing this year with someone. I didn’t even know who Head Boy was.






I turned to the door to my compartment. Ginny, Neville and Luna stood there. “Can we come in?” Ginny asked.



I smiled, and nodded. Although those three were still here, I felt like an outsider with them. I had always spent all of my time with Harry and Ron, distancing myself from the others.



Within seconds, they had struck up a conversation about something or other, and I found myself staring out of the window silently, watching the countryside go by.



I was snapped out of my reverie about an hour later, with Ginny saying, “Hermione, we’re nearly there. Is it all right if we head off to get ready?”



“Of course,” I replied. “Feel free.”



In retrospect, I probably seemed a bit standoffish, but I was past the point of caring.   



Neville shrugged, and the three of them left my compartment, leaving me alone once more. I sighed, and closed my eyes.



Images of Harry and Ron flashed through my head. Saving me from a troll, seeing them again when I’d been Petrified, our first visit to Hogsmeade together, when Harry and Ron made friends again during the Triwizard Tournament, the DA, vowing to stick together after Dumbledore died.



That changed quickly. All of those memories were simply that. Memories. For all I knew, after that year, Harry and Ron could simply be memories. If anything was to happen to either of them, I wouldn’t be with them. I would be forever lost in memories, and I’d never see them again.



If anything bad happened. But I had faith in them. Well, in Harry. Ron would follow suit with Harry, so Harry needed to get everything right.



“Anything from the trolley, dear?” The trolley witch appeared at my compartment for her final round.



“Every Flavour Beans and Peppermint Toads, please,” I said, handing her some coins.



When she left, I opened the beans. Gingerly, I took a garish blue bean, and bit off the tip of it. Blueberry. I ate the rest, and then wolfed my way through the pack.



I put the Peppermint Toads in my pocket, and then closed my eyes again.



Just as I was dozing off, someone at the entrance to my compartment drawled, “Granger?”



I looked round, to see Draco Malfoy standing there.



With a shiny Head Boy badge on his chest.





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