It was quiet in the Granger house.
"I cannot just let you run away, Hermione- look at me when I speak to you!"Jane's voice rang loudly through the empty hallway.
"What, mother, shall I just unpack my bags, then? Hmm? Shall I just leave them be, pretend everything's all right?"
"It isn't your fight! You haven't any responsibility, for God's sake, you're only a child!"
"I was a child."
"Now, don't star-" but Hermione held up her hand, and her mother stopped what was sure to be a futile protest.
"No, I was a child. When it all began, I was still wide eyed and hopeful. But I grew up, mother, I haven't been that little girl for quite some time now, and I do have a responsibility now. I cannot run away."
"Yes, run away."
A heavy silence reigned the place between them now, and Jean wore upon her face a look of absolute defeat.
And after a moment, "If only we had known."
"Knowing doesn't matter now, mother, that time has gone."
"Yes, I suppose it has."
Another pause filled the air, and Hermione, exhausted from the yelling, took the opportunity to sit heavily on the sofa. It was grey suede, picked out rather carefully by her mother.
Looking back up to Jean, who had stayed standing on the hardwood floor, Hermione said "sometimes, I think that time was never here."
When Jean said nothing, Hermione continued.
"I think, sometimes, that I never had a choice in all this. That it was always meant to be. When I look back, I can't think of a single moment past the first day on the Hogwarts Express in which I could have said my goodbyes. Even in those first, unpleasant months. We were always meant to be."
Hermione put her head in her hands then, and drew a breath in resignation.
"I wish that I'd had a chance, mum. I with that I'd had lovely, sunny days in the park with my friends, and I wish that my largest concern had always been my potions grade. I wish for so many things, I know I've got a list somewhere," She said with a dry laugh.
Hermione lifted her head.
"I feel unraveled."
Jean Granger could see now, something she had hoped never to see in her pretty, autumn baby.
There was pain in her daughter's eyes, and she couldn't make it go away. Not this time. No ice cream cones, no warm blankets.
"I wish there were something I could do."
"I know, mum."
The next morning her father had returned, a grim expression upon his tired face. The three Grangers sat now in the grey- green living room at the centre of the house.
Hermione wore pink, denim, and finality, while mother and father wore fear on their very sleeves.
She would have invited Dumbledore to stand in the back of the room, or perhaps by the door, but she had wanted to say her goodbyes like this. Alone, in her childhood home.
"I'm leaving today," she said, breaking the silence.
"Yes," said Jean.
"I'll not write you. Please don't try to contact me, we'll be Untraceable."
"Okay," said Matthew.
"You understand that this may be the last time we see each other, so I've made arrangements with Dumbeldore to safeguard my things, should I never return. There are some things to be left to the Order when we're through."
"Should you never return?" asked her mother.
"Er- yes. There is every possibility that I will ah- not make it. As it happens, I am quite high on Voldemort's list, making me a high-priced target. It is very likely that I will not return home.
"As such," She continued on, "I have made safe house arrangements for you."
"What?" asked Jane, "We have to move?"
"Well, yes, unless you'd like a lovely little midnight visit from the Dark Lord's goons."
"Listen here, you can't just uproot us, Hermione, we've got jobs-"
"Taken care of," said Hermione.
"What do you mean?"
"It takes less effort than one might think to disappear for a bit. Especially given that you've got the help of wizards. Three confundus charms, two obliviated secretaries, two new hires, and an all-expenses paid trip to Tahiti for the next three months, to start."
Hermione ticked each off her fingers as she went.
"You really thought of everything," said Matthew.
Hermione looked out the window. The owl had arrived.
Looking back to her parents, Hermione said "It's time."
Later, in the forest of Dean, Hermione remembered that final day with mum and dad. It seemed a lifetime ago, and she couldn't remember what her mother wore. Nor what her father's last words to her had been. Perhaps her old life was slipping away altogether. Perhaps it was kinder this way. No one to mourn in her final moments.
She looked over to the edge of the river, where Harry collected stones. They were meant for a makeshift fireplace, to roast whatever they could find.
Hermione could almost see her life as though she had already lived it, and if she had, this would be the moment she'd remember least. Nothing important, just a lull between fighting, another empty moment in their running. Today, though, right now, it was all she had. Harry Potter and his stupid shoes, digging through the snow for pebbles.