Chapter 7 : Going Home
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AN: Please read and review. And by the way, if any of you were upset/insulted or something by the last chapter I am so sorry. I know little about cancer, I don’t know if Chemo makes everyone ‘crazy’ as I put it, I’m just going off of how my mom describes what it did to her mom. So if I was inaccurate or insensitive I sincerely apologize. It was accidentally done.
The time before Hermione left to go visit her mom was a bit like Limbo, she was neither there nor was she not there. She continued to meet with Draco every evening, though they did not discuss her leaving. She helped him finalize the plans for the winter ball so that it could go smoothly without her being there. It wasn’t until the tenth, two days before she was set to leave, that she realized she would need to tell her pen pal something.
She received a letter from him that morning as usual:
Naturally my favorite toy as a child was my toy broomstick. It only hovered about two feet above the ground, but I had fun all the same. My mother was always terrified I was going to kill myself. Now, you asked which was superior, cake or pie. I prefer pie, which could just be because my parents served a lot more pie than cake in my childhood. Though, I will concede your point that chocolate cake is a necessity in life, but something you said has me confused. I must admit, I have never heard of “Oreo Pie”, what is an ‘oreo’? Onto questions for you. What is your first ever memory? And, would you rather spend your whole day flying, or spend your whole day swimming? By the way, if you choose swimming, what’s your bathing suit look like. haha. You don’t have to say, I’m just teasing. Are you excited for the winter ball on the 19th? Hope your week is going well.
This letter made Hermione realize that she was dealing with either a pureblood or a halfblood who wasn’t very in touch with his muggle side. She knew it couldn’t be a muggleborn, because who hasn’t heard of Oreos? Oreo pie might be a bit weirder, but not to even know what an Oreo is, definitely a magical background. Additionally, since a muggleborn couldn’t have had a toy broom until after he got his Hogwarts letter, it seemed improbably that that would be his favorite ‘childhood’ toy, since he could have just gotten a real one. At least that narrowed down the pool of possibilities, not that she was super eager to find out who it was. If she was she could just go around asking people what an Oreo was until she found the person who didn’t know, but she enjoyed not knowing, it made it more fun and relaxed.
Hermione was sure her next letter was going to put a stress on the ‘relaxed’ feeling of their relationship.
First off, an Oreo is a cookie composed of two chocolate cookies sandwiched around a white cream filling. They are delicious, especially dipped in milk. My earliest memory is probably this one memory from before I started Kindergarten (which starts at age five, if you don’t know). My dad had just explained the concept of mother’s day to me. I decided that the very next day was mother’s day, even though it wasn’t, and so I made my mom a card. I used my finger paints and it, quite illegibly, said “Happi Mom Day! Luv,” and then my name. I was too young to be able to write well, so this was an accomplishment. I placed it on my mom’s place at the breakfast table. She was surprised the next day, a bit confused too, but very happy and proud of me. We had a great, fake mother’s day. Seeing as how I cannot fly, I would have to say that I would spend my day swimming, probably in a lifeguard style red one-piece. But I might splurge and go with a bikini, you never know.
I am afraid that I need to request a pause in communication. I can’t explain it to you, but I will not be able to respond to your letters this coming week and over the winter break. Feel free to send ones if you want and I will reply later, but I’m going through some stuff and it’s just one more thing on my plate. Please don’t be offended, this has nothing to do with you, I’m enjoying our correspondences greatly. I hope this does not affect our friendship.
Questions to ponder: What is the most meaningful book you have ever read? And, on the flying topic, would you rather never be able to set foot on solid ground again, flying for the rest of your life, or never be able to fly again? Hope your week and winter break are better than mine.
Hermione sent off her letter and turned towards her trunk. She needed to pack enough for the break, so she needed to get started. While she packed she pondered what she knew about Damien. He was obviously magical by birth, since he had a toy broomstick and had never heard of an Oreo. He had a major sweet tooth, preferred raspberries to strawberries, like dark blue, dislikes Filch- though that applies to everyone, attended the pumpkin carving contest and likes to brew Amortentia. All together it wasn’t the most useful information. However, the tone of his letters made her imagine a confident guy, so she pictured him as either a Ravenclaw or a Slytherin. Dark blue as a favorite color made her think more Ravenclaw, but that was just stereotyping, since liking light purple said nothing about her being in Gryffindor. He had mentioned in passing that he was an only child, which would be more useful if she knew more about the families of the guys in Ravenclaw. Nearly all the guys in Slytherin were only children, by happenstance. She wasn’t yet ready to make any guesses.
Finally Hermione said goodbye to her friends and used a portkey set up by Professor McGonagall to go to her house. From there her father drove her to the muggle hospital where her mother was being taken care of; on the way Hermione brought up an idea to her father.
“Dad, I know that even magic won’t be able to make much of a difference now, and that wizards know much less about cancer, since they eliminate it nearly immediately, but I just had a thought. I wondered, if, in the end…” Hermione was having troubles talking around the lump in her throat. “If there is nothing our hospital can do at all, maybe we could move mom to St. Mungo’s. I mean, I think that wizards probably have better ways of making someone comfortable and in no pain. I don’t want mom to suffer. And perhaps their methods would keep her lucid for longer.” Her father seemed to think this over. He sighed.
“We will cross that bridge when we get to it sweetie. For now, let’s just cross our fingers and pray that God lets the Chemo treatment stick.” Hermione nodded and went back to staring out the window.
Her mother was sleeping when they arrived. Hermione offered to stay by her bedside while her dad went to find them tea or hot cocoa. It was while she was waiting for her mom to wake up that Hermione got another letter from Damien. She was grateful that no nurses were in the room at the time, since a letter just appeared in her lap where there had been no letter before. Since her mother was still sound asleep she took that time to open it and read it.
I’m sorry to hear that you are stressed by something. If it doesn’t add too much to your stress I would like to keep writing throughout break, even if you don’t reply to any of them. I find that writing to you is a high point in my day. I generally spend my days bored. I have a friend that I talk to at great lengths and that is another highlight in my days, but they are going home for break and I am not, so I will be terribly alone.
I would rather fly forever than never. Flying is so relaxing. It feels like nothing can touch you, like you could do anything, be anyone. It such a freeing experience, I hope you experience it one day. The most meaningful book I have ever read was this book called “The Stranger”. It was written by some Muggle named Albert Camus. I know, funny name. I never really read Muggle books at home, but here at school I like to peruse the Muggle section of the library every once in a while. This book really made me question life and its purpose. It’s about this concept called existentialism that is basically like, what’s the meaning of life, nothing matters. It really made me value my life because it made me think about how much I like living. You should read it.
I really hope things get better for you. I will leave my questions for my last letter at the end of the break.
Hermione smiled. She was glad he enjoyed writing to her and was flattered that hewasn’t willing to give it up just because she wouldn’t be responding. His answers surprised her. He sounded like a Pureblood, since a half-blood would probably read at least some Muggle books at home, but at the same time, what Pureblood would read Muggle books at school? He was a mystery. Hermione had, of course, read “The Stranger”, it really was a great book, though complex. It had caused a similar inner turmoil in her when she had read it. In the end she decided that life did matter and that it was worth it to live it how she thought best.
As she finished reading it she heard the sounds of her mother waking up.
“Hey mom.” Her mother turned to look at her, giving her a weak smile.
“Hey honey. I’m so sorry that this had to happen to you, and to have to see me like this. You should be at school enjoying yourself. You’re Head Girl, don’t you need to be there?” Hermione scooted her chair closer to her mom’s bed and grasped her cold, slightly clammy hand.
“Nonsense. First of all, how could this happen to me? How could it happen to you? You don’t deserve it. If I had just been more careful they would have discovered it last year, but I made you miss a mammogram. And the Head Boy can manage without me for a week, I need to be here.” Her mother’s eyes opened wide.
“Oh no, hon. This is in no way your fault. Who knows if it would have been any more manageable if it had been caught last year, or even if it was there then, it could be a really fast growing case. You never know. It does you no good to play the ‘what if’ game. This was going to happen no matter what, you had nothing to do with it. Now, tell me about how school has been so far, I want to know how this pen pal thing is going.”
Hermione settled in and began to tell her mother about everything about her year so far. She told her mother about Draco Malfoy, something only she and he knew. She told her mother everything she knew about Damien, her feelings for them both, Harry and Ron’s feelings towards their pen pals, the Pumpkin Carving Contest success, the other events, she retold absolutely every detail she could remember about her first few months of seventh year.
Her mother told her that both Draco and Damien sounded like great guys and promised not to tell a soul what she knew, but really, who could she tell where it would reach Hogwarts? For the most part her mom just reveled in the feelings of pride that emanated from her about her daughter. Hermione was Head Girl, working towards inter-house unity, getting along with a former enemy, what more could a mother ask for in a daughter?
Hermione planned to spend most of her break with her mother. She visited every day for most of the day, taking breaks when her mother needed sleep or treatment. She did take a few days off to go Christmas shopping. She needed to get presents for her friends and, of course, her parents. She stopped at the hospital first to check in on her mother and kiss her before heading out shopping. Her mother wished her a great day shopping and her father discreetly passed her a handful of pounds for her trip. Her parents may not be rich, but they did spoil her.
Hermione went shopping in Muggle London first. She knew exactly what to get Harry and Ron. They were stereotypical boys. She got them Muggle chocolate though, since she usually got their gifts from Honeydukes, just for something different. She got their gifts at Ghirardelli, some of the best chocolate in her opinion. For Ginny she got a pretty looking bracelet with matching earings and a nice looking skirt. Again, that was easy, as Ginny was also very stereotypical. She got small trinkets for other friends such as Neville, Luna, Dean, Seamus, etc.
The troublesome friend was Draco Malfoy. She was nearly positive that they both considered them to be friends at that point. But she wasn’t sure if he was planning on getting her a gift. And if he wasn’t she didn’t want to make him feel guilty or pressured when he got one from her, but she didn’t want to not get him one and then get something from him. It was quite the conundrum. She decided to try to find something that related to one of their talks, so that it would be less intimidating. She felt like that would make it more of a ‘thanks for keeping me sane’ and less of an ‘I deem us friends so we need to exchange meaningful gifts’. She felt that this situation relieved some of the pressure.
She decided to go off of the thing that sort of brought them together, insults and tea. First she went to a Muggle tea store, figuring that if there was a tea that he had never tried, it would be a muggle tea. She asked them for their finest or rarest teas. She was shown a rare tea called Pu-erh tea. It was only made in a small island in China and was both fermented and oxidized. It was described as having a dark, smooth, chocolate or espresso flavor. It looked perfect. It was a bit pricey, but Hermione didn’t mind. Again, she tried not to analyze her Malfoy thoughts, since she spent as much on him as she did on Harry or Ron. But she needed to get high quality Pu-erh, since low quality Pu-erh was said to taste muddy.
She bought her father a new watch, since she had noticed his was missing from his wrist. When she had asked about it he said he had dropped it and then, not seeing it, accidently stepped on it. He hadn’t gotten around to buying a new one yet.
Hermione didn’t buy her mother a present. She did go into Diagon Alley to buy the necessary items to make her present though.
The last gift she got was for Damien. She wasn’t entirely sure if she could attach a present to her letter and have it send, but she figured she could try. She remembered his sweet tooth and love of raspberries, so she combined the two and bought him chocolate with dried raspberries in it. She felt that was a little light, so she sorted through her knowledge of him in her mind and, remembering his lack of Oreo knowledge, she jokingly bought him a package of Oreos.
She brought all of her goodies home to wrap. She had the house to herself, as her father was at the hospital, so she spread everything out without worrying about someone walking in and seeing the presents. When she was done wrapping everything she got to work on making her mom’s present.
In Diagon Alley she had spent a large chunk of change to purchase an item that functioned similar to a pensive. It allowed her to sort through her memories and take snapshots. She planned to make her mother a photo-album of their lives together. This took awhile, as Hermione had nearly eighteen years of life to go through.
Slowly the album came together, photo by photo. Once she was done with the first step, Hermione went through all the pages, adding captions to each photo, little anecdotes, stories, etc. The album itself was special. It locked. If her mother pressed one button it knew she was only with people who knew of magic, and the photos would move. If she pressed a different button it would know there were ignorant Muggles around and the pictures would be still. Hermione cried when she finished, looking through all the happy memories, including the fake mother’s day she had recently told Damien about.
Once she was done wrapping all the gifts she placed them in her room and went back to the hospital. There she found her parents together, talking in whispers.
“What’s going on, talking about me are you?” She said it jokingly, but their faces clearly said that she was spot on. “What?” Her father motioned for her to take a seat and she did. Her mother turned to face her.
“We were just discussing an idea. You see, I am about to go in for another round of Chemo, so you won’t be able to see me much for the next few days, as I’ll be really sickly and I don’t really want you to see me like that. So, your father and I were talking and, I want you to go to the ball.” Hermione looked at her confusedly. “You mentioned to me that it was this Friday, that is in two days. I think you should attend, since I will not be really up to visitors, so you would just be wasting your time hanging out here, and I don’t want you to miss something you worked so hard on and it’s a big part of your seventh year. I don’t want you to miss out on seventh year because of me, ok? I want you to have fun. So I am demanding that you go out tomorrow and buy yourself a dress and shoes, and then attend that ball. Do you understand?” A few tears were leaking out of both Hermione and her mother’s eyes.
“But mom, I don’t want to miss anything, I can’t leave you!” Her mother just shook her head.
“You won’t be missing anything. You can and you will leave. I am sick, I can get whatever I want now, and this is what I want.” Hermione couldn’t help but give a watery laugh at her mother’s way of viewing things. “I want you to take lots of pictures so I can see it all, see you in your dress, everything.” Hermione finally agreed.
The next day she set out to buy herself a fitting dress. They had set up the theme like a winter wonderland. Hermione searched all the dress shops in Diagon Alley and didn’t find quite the right dress. Once again she ventured into Muggle London to find the right dress. She found it in the first shop she tried.
She went into this eclectic looking shop that seemed to be mostly gently used items. It had some dresses on display so she thought she would give it a try. She tried on a few colorful selection before deciding to try on the white one. It looked a bit like a wedding dress, but since it was a wintery theme for the ball, she thought it might just work. It did.
She fell in love as soon as she put it on and she quickly took it off, bought it, and went in search of shoes to match. For just a few hours she forgot about the tragedy taking over her life and all her thoughts were absorbed with the ball and everything she needed to be ready by the next day.
Thank goodness for mothers.
AN: Thanks to KxxDxx and Evoltenshi for some of the questions featured in this chapter, along with greekpanda, it may not be ‘insightful’ as you said, but cake v. pie was very useful, so thanks! I’d also like to thank AriesGirl40 for the review that inspired me to have Hermione attend the ball and for inspiring me to finish this chapter faster. Thanks! I hope this chapter wasn’t too terribly sad. This story wasn’t supposed to be sad, it just kind of turned that way. Sorry. Please review, they honestly make chapters happen. :D
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