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‘Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday to you,

Happy Birthday dear Hermione,

Happy Birthday to you.’

‘Hip hip, hurray!’

‘Quick, make a wish.’

‘I am father.’

‘Now blow out the candles before they drip everywhere.’

‘Yes, I know.’

Hermione smiled bashfully up at her visitors as they clapped and cheered for her. In the corner of her eye, her father, Michael Granger, was fervently bustling about trying to locate a decent sized knife. When he had found it he rushed forward to hand it over to her.

‘If you make the knife dirty you have to kiss the closest man!’ Someone shouted from in the midst of the large crowd.

‘Now George, we won’t go that far.’ Said Michael, his voice somewhat more serious than it had been before.

‘Sorry Mr. Granger, It was only a joke.’ George replied mischievously.

Hermione laughed at her friend’s cheeky behaviour, knowing that her father was very protective of his only daughter. She began to cut the huge chocolate cake which was decorated with gold and red icing on top to represent the Gryffindor colours. Yellow jellybeans spelled her name on top.

‘Father it is marvellous.’ Hermione said appreciatively.

‘It’s not everyday that your favourite daughter turns twenty one.’ Michael replied warmly.

‘When do you get to open your presents?’

‘Harry, Ron, you made it!’ Hermione jumped up, almost tipping her piece of cake in the attempt of embracing her best and oldest friends.

Ron smiled brightly. ‘Well we couldn’t miss it, could we?’

‘But how did you manage to get away from work?’ Hermione asked.

‘I finished my paper work early and persuaded dad that your party is a lot more important than starting tomorrows papers.’ Ron had recently become secretary to his father, Minister of Magic.

‘And nobody needed my help at work. It seems all the dark creatures are having a holiday today.’ Harry had finally finished a course in Auror Studies and was a first class Auror at the academy.

‘I am so happy you could come. It isn’t the same without you.’ Said Hermione merrily.

‘All right, hurry up then. Open our present!’ Ron laughed, handing over a medium sized package.

‘Oh, you shouldn’t have.’ Said Hermione.

She used her wand to unravel the neatly folded wrapping paper and shrieked gleefully at what was hidden inside.

‘An album of all the photographs we took from school.’ Harry said.

Hermione seemed at a loss of words. Finally, ‘Father, look what Harry and Ron gave me!’

‘Very fine indeed.’ Michael nodded approvingly. ‘And how is your fiancé, Ron?’

Ron grinned and replied brightly. ‘Genevieve is coping quite well with the pregnancy. Only four months left before the Ronald Junior comes!’

Hermione grimaced. ‘Is that what you want to call it?’

‘Why not?’ Ron was baffled.

‘Uh, no reason.’ Said Hermione quickly.

Ron continued to stare at her for some moments, trying to work out the meaning of her question, but was soon interrupted.

‘But what if it turns out to be a girl? The doctors are not always accurate.’ Michael said.

‘Wizards use magic to find out sir.’ Harry informed him.

‘Ah.’ Michael winked at Harry after coming to the realisation.

Further discussion was interrupted when Ginny announced that it was time for the opening of the presents. Everyone began to chatter and shout in approval.

‘Mine first!’ Called either George or Fred.

‘And after all the presents are open we will begin the dances!’ Michael announced. Then he turned to Hermione and said softly and sadly. ‘If only your mother could have been here to see you now.’

Hermione held his hand gently. ‘She is watching over us all the time father, from wherever she is.’

Hermione danced and ate cake while the night flew by, happy to have her mother’s death distracted from her mind for once. It had been three years already since the train accident, which had taken her life, and now it was just Michael and herself left on the farm.

It was a beautiful area that they lived in, with green pastures and knolls and amazing gardens surrounding the property. Not far away, in fact it was only a ten minute walk, was a hamlet inhabiting just over two thousand people. It was perhaps the most peaceful and stunning place Hermione had ever seen and living a muggle life with her father was no discomfort.

Hermione’s favourite place to go in the town was the small rural library that actually contained many of her favourite novels. Now that she no longer went to school or studied she was able to spend a lot of time reading fiction books such as Jane Austin’s works.

Although she had received a certificate in medicine, when Hermione moved into her father’s house she had decided to open up a bakery in the town and it was quite prosperous. Her most regular visitors were a group of old ladies who would get together for tea. They absolutely loved her croissants and jam donuts. Of course they were not aware that Hermione provoked magic to assist in her cooking. But nobody really needed to know that.

Sunday arrived with a dazzling sun shining through the curtains and illuminating the cosy room that Hermione called home. Being a light sleeper, Hermione woke immediately from the glow and felt altogether very refreshed. She followed routine by stretching, yawning and slipping into her slippers. With a quick wave of her wand she was able to tidy the living room, which had lay dormant with party hats, wrapping paper and paper plates and cups the entire night.

Hermione detested uncleanliness, as did her father. Yet they had been far too exhausted the previous night to bother with cleaning it. She would have done the job easily but she refrained from using magic in her father’s company, as he still felt uneasy about it.

Breakfast was eaten slowly as usual. Hermione loved taking her time consuming her delicious home made porridge with fresh cow’s milk from the farm and topped with golden sweet honey. It was at this time that her father entered looking very tired.

‘Hermione, it’s only seven thirty. You should have woken me to help with cleaning the living room. You must be exhausted.’

Hermione offered him a bright smile that reflected her bright mood. ‘Actually, I feel marvellous. Thankyou so much for last night.’

‘It was a pleasure. Have you any plans for today?’ Michael asked.

‘I might go into town to return a book. Then I’ll quickly check on the store and make sure my employee closed up properly. Did you want to walk with me?’

‘Oh I don’t think I can. Didn’t get much sleep. Heading back  to bed now.’ He mumbled.

Hermione quickly rinsed off her dishes. In an orderly fashion, she combed her hair, dressed into a simple summer dress, greeted her pony Ember, put on some boots, marched down the pebble driveway and paced away toward the tiny town.

It was only eight O’clock when she reached the library and had to wait several minutes before chubby Mr. Gable, the librarian, bustled toward her, keys juggling between his chunky fingers.

‘Early again?’ He greeted her. He was not a man accustomed to hearty welcomes but he was a kind man and Hermione was quite fond of him.

‘As usual.’ Hermione said lightly.

‘What book are you looking for today, Miss Granger?’ He asked.

‘I’m not sure. Something exciting to compensate for the lack of adventure in my life.’ Hermione said.

‘Well as far as I know, all the “exciting” books are in the far left row up the back.’ Mr. Gable pointed.

Hermione handed him her due book before heading toward the recommended area of the library. Here she found many adventure and fantasy novels containing authors she both did and didn’t know.

‘Hmmm.’ She mused. She went through many of the old covered books, narrowing down her choices. ‘No I have already read Lord of the Rings and Lord of the Flies sounds too violent to me. Aha! I’ll read The Chronicles of Narnia.’

‘Interesting choice.’

Hermione jumped in fright as she realised Mr. Gable was standing over her shoulder.

‘You have read this book?’ She asked, after recomposing herself.

‘Of course. I’ve read all the books here.’ He barked.

‘So is it worth reading?’ She inquired.

Mr. Gable’s gaze drifted to the cover of the book. ‘Well I loved it when I read it at the age of nine. I can’t say it would be quite as impressionable if I read it now.’

Hermione nodded slowly. ‘I suppose it won’t hurt. I’ll try anything once.’

‘Good.’ Was his reply. He grabbed the book and scanned it on his computer then pushed it roughly into Hermione’s arms.

‘Thank you.’ She said unconcernedly. She was quite used to this treatment and thought nothing of it.

Satisfied with her latest discovery, Hermione walked briskly to the entrance of her bakery named “Gladly Granger’s Bakers” and tested the door to see if it was locked properly. She did this often because a few months ago, Grace, one of her employees of seventeen years of age, had forgotten to lock up. Luckily the store had not been robbed. It seemed nobody was interested in steeling day old bread so Grace was kept from being sacked.

Hermione began her journey home and was too impatient to wait till she arrived back that she began reading her book immediately. She hardly noticed that as she walked aimlessly, she was also passing the town pub. She was startled when a heavily accented voice called her name.

‘Herm-own-ninny!’

‘Viktor? Oh, hello.’ She waved distractedly.

After finishing school in Durmstrang, Viktor Krum had moved to England while training for Quidditch. He still fancied Hermione to her great displeasure and just so happened, "coincidentally", to move into the same town that she lived in. Unlike Ron had always teased, she did not return Viktor’s feelings.

‘Vell, vat is a lovely lady such as you doing on this beautiful day?’ He asked, while circling her very closely.

Hermione restrained herself from grimacing at the smell of vodka on his breath. ‘Just reading.’

‘Humph.’ Helooked at the book held lightly in her hands and frowned.

‘Vee von’t be needing this.’ He grabbed the book and flung it onto a bench nearby.

‘Hey!’ Hermione said crossly. ‘Viktor, please.’

‘How many times do I haff to ask you to call me Vicky?’ He slurred.

‘At least once more, like always.’ She replied bitterly.

He clasped his hand over hers. ‘Let us go for a walk together Herm-own-ninny. Enjoy the sun.’

‘Really, Viktor. I must be on my way. Father is waiting for me.’ She walked a little faster after retrieving her book. But he caught up.

‘My luv you vill come to me soon. Vy not now?’ He asked before stumbling foolishly on a large stone.

‘Honestly, I don’t share your feelings Viktor. Please realise that and stop talking about us being together.’ Hermione was beginning to feel quite fed up with him.

‘But of course you luv me. Everybody does-’ Suddenly he collapsed onto the ground and stopped moving.

Hermione hurried over to his body and began to worry until she was close enough to hear his soft snores, lifting the reek of alcohol into her face.

She coughed in disgust and left him there in the middle of the pathway. What an arrogant fool he had turned out to be!

Hermione rushed home where she wiped off the dirt that had accumulated onto the book and sat down angrily. Her mood didn’t improve until noon when her father entered the house wearing overalls and a farm hat.

‘Guess what?’ He said excitedly. ‘I was called while you were out and I’m being asked to go to Australia for a business conference!’

‘That’s fantastic! When do you leave?’ Hermione asked.

‘Well, if I decide to go I will have to leave on Tuesday.’ He said slowly.

‘Why wouldn’t you go?’ Hermione asked with confusion.

‘Well, I don’t want to leave you on your own.’ He answered.

Hermione rolled her eyes. ‘I think I’m old enough to stay at home by myself father. Twenty one remember?’

‘Yes all right then.’ He said gleefully. ‘I’ll only be gone for a little while. Perhaps a week or two.’

‘That’s fine with me.’ Hermione replied. Michael used to be a dentist but after his wife had died he had looked in a different direction. Now he was part of a big software company and often had to go to conferences and other important meetings but never overseas. She knew he was very excited about going to Australia. He had always wanted to go there. The beaches are supposed to be fantastic.

‘Just as long as you bring me back souvenirs.’ Hermione said light heartedly.

‘Certainly.’ Michael called as he walked to his room to change out of his garden clothes.

Hermione stood up. ‘Father, I am going to take Ember for a ride. I’ll be back soon.’

‘Okay, have fun!’

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