Gregory and Caroline Granger were married thirteen years before finally welcoming their daughter Hermione into the family. They brought home their beautiful brown baby with curls that were already overtaking her face and noticed very quickly that she wasn’t like other children. While most of their friends with children complained of sleepless nights and constantly crying babies, Hermione was always quite content, sleeping through the night. Many days, she woke before her parents, and they would find her playing in her pram, babbling incessantly, the lights in her room on though neither knew how. As she got older, she began reading books from the highest shelf, those wildly out of reach. When asked how she was able to retrieve the book, her answers would border on flippant.
The many strange occurrences happened all throughout her youth until one cool summer’s morning they received a knock at their door. A stern-looking woman wearing robes of deep crimson had stood before them, introducing herself as Professor McGonagall.
Hermione, she explained, was a witch and had been accepted to Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. If they agreed, Hermione would be expected to arrive at King’s Cross Station on September 1st where she would take the Hogwarts Express for her first of seven years of schooling there. McGonagall spent hours with the Grangers, explaining to them about the book that had her name written down since birth, about Professor Dumbledore, the school’s headmaster, and about the Statute of Secrecy forbidding them from telling a soul the truth about their daughter’s abilities. The professor left that afternoon with a promise that she would be back the next day hoping for an answer.
Needless to say Gregory and Caroline were shocked. They were dentists. They had never heard of this place called Hogwarts, had never believed that witches or wizards existed. Yet, Hermione was ecstatic and eager to learn all she could, not only about this school that she was destined to attend, but this new world of magic. Hermione spent the rest of the afternoon begging her parents to allow her to go. The family spent many hours debating the pros and cons of such a turn of events, eventually agreeing that this would be best for Hermione. Professor McGonagall returned the next day and was pleased with the news.
“If you have any questions,” she said, handing over the envelope with her list of school books and materials, “just send a letter addressed to me at Hogwarts. It will get there.” She then went on to explain how to get to Diagon Alley and to Platform 9 ¾.
“I’ll see you on September 1st,” she said kindly to Hermione.
And so her schooling began. Hermione left in September, returning during Christmas break loaded with her school books and stories of her days within the castle. She had been writing consistently up until that point, but there was so little Gregory and Caroline could understand. They listened to her stories of watching Quidditch games while her best friend played Seeker, of learning how to brew potions and Transfigure ordinary objects, and were completely bewildered. Children flying fifty feet in the air on broomsticks! Potions to cure boils? Changing a match into a candlestick! How could any of this be real?
It got harder and harder to hide their confusion as the years went on. After her second year, Hermione had changed. She wouldn’t talk as much about the events going on at school; even though she kept them abreast of her grades, there was very little else they knew about their only daughter. And now even in summer she was spending less and less time with them. They had met the Weasleys on more than one occasion and thought they were very nice people but were hoping Hermione would like to spend more than just part of a summer vacation at home with them.
It became evident during Hermione’s visit during Christmas of her 6th year at Hogwarts just how much distance had grown between them. They had made a point to have meals together and Gregory and Caroline had even taken a few days off work to spend time with her. But oddly enough, while they were trying to learn more about Hermione’s schooling, she seemed more interested in asking them questions about themselves.
“How are the Roberts doing?”
“Do the Nolans still stop by for tea often?”
“How long have you owned the practice?”
“How many patients do you both see regularly?”
“You can’t be dentists for the rest of your lives,” Hermione said one evening. “If you could go anywhere, where would it be?”
“Why so many questions all of a sudden?” Gregory asked, while straightening his glasses at the dinner table.
“Just curious,” she had responded.
In that moment Hermione wondered if she should have answered truthfully. But could she have told her parents she was afraid? That soon she may need to leave and they might not see her again. But she knew she wouldn’t be able to get them to understand, that now she was of age (at least in the wizarding world) she had to make decisions she knew would be best for all of them, no matter how painful they were.
“Is everything okay?” Caroline asked, eyeing her daughter from across the table.
“Everything is fine,” Hermione said. That couldn’t have been further from the truth.
It didn’t settle in for her until months later, when she divulged her plan to Dean as they sat under the large beech tree by the lake. There was no way she could make plans to upend her parents entire lives and have hopes of them coming back to the life they had known. Not with patients and friends who would notice if they disappeared for who knows how long without any explanation.
“You know this isn’t something you have to do?” Dean said. He was lying on his back in the grass, his arms folded behind his head. His face was turned to look at Hermione as she leaned against the tree, watching the lake. It was the day after Dumbledore’s death. Wizards from all over the country were making their way to Hogwarts for his funeral. It was a beautiful summer day and yet the entire castle was somber.
“It is,” she said wiping a tear from her eye.
“Why?” he asked.
“I thought you would understand,” she said trying to stop the tears from following. “You plan on running too.”
“But I’m not going to move my family away from everything they know when I go,” he said. “They’ll still be there. I’ll cast the charms we’ve been researching on the house. They’ll be fine.”
“It’s different,” she said. “We both have Muggle parents, but Voldemort doesn’t know who you are. His Death Eaters don’t know what you look like, or even your name. If my parents stay they’ll try and find them. They’ll be tortured. They could be killed, even though I’ve told them nothing about what’s been going on.” Her voice was shaking, her nerves thin. Tears still slowly sliding down her face. She was overwhelmed. This was too much and yet it was just the beginning.
“You’re scared,” Dean said, reaching out to her and grabbing her hand.
“Of course I’m scared. We should all be scared. Dumbledore is dead. We were attacked here. No place is safe. He has to be stopped. None of this will end until Voldemort is dead.”
“Is that what you’re going to do?” Dean asked, sitting himself up so she couldn’t look away from him. “Stop Voldemort?”
“I’m going with Harry.” she said filling herself with resolve. “And that means leaving my parents.”
“And when you come back?” he asked quietly. Hermione could see the concern lining his face. There was no trace of the smile that had become a place of comfort. His dark brown eyes studying hers. She was the one to look away, eyes gazing towards the lake with the realization that her days at Hogwarts were numbered.
She dried her face with the sleeve of her robe, and turned back to Dean with as much emotion removed from her face as possible. “I’ll have to come back first won’t I?”
Days after her conversation with Dean, Hermione began the process of changing her parents’ lives from that of Gregory and Caroline Granger to Wendell and Monica Wilkins. She had very little time to execute all that needed to be done before heading to the Burrow. Her parents’ transformation would require new birth certificates and passports, all which would need to be forged before she could depart. New bank accounts would need to be opened while the ones linked to her parents’ real identities were closed. Their dental practice would need to be sold. Too many questions would be raised around their disappearance. Better to make it seem like they had suddenly chosen to retire early and sell the business. She would need to meet with their lawyer to arrange the selling of both the business and, though it pained Hermione to dwell on it, the house as well. She had debated whether she should become Secret Keeper for their family’s home instead, but unaware of what would happen to the home if she were to die, decided against it.
It unsettled Hermione that she hadn’t had second thoughts about her plan since leaving Hogwarts. Both she and Ron had told Harry after the funeral that they would be going with him. She assured herself that the only way to protect her family upon her departure was to hide them somewhere Voldemort and his Death Eaters would never think to look. To erase herself from their memory and allow them to live without ever knowing their child was in danger.
The morning of July 23rd she watched as her parents, now known as Monica and Wendell Wilkins, took a taxi to the airport to begin their new lives. The traces of the life they knew would soon be removed from the house. Hermione had walked through the halls, looking at the family pictures. Many pictures of her in primary school were throughout the house, but there were few of her as a teenager. She could only find one from her time while at Hogwarts, the time they spent camping in the Forest of Dean. She had been standing in between her parents, all of them smiling at the camera. Hermione noticed for the first time that she was already close to her mother’s height in this photo, though her father towered over them both. They were all smiles in that moment. It was the happiest she had remembered being. Hermione stood there for quite some time, lost in the memory of that moment before finally placing the picture back on the mantle– it would be too dangerous if she was caught to bring it with her— and headed to the Burrow.
It wasn’t until after the Battle of Hogwarts that Hermione began to struggle with her decision. She had spent the last year trying to survive and destroy Horcruxes. She was assured that her parents were safely hidden away and had not allowed herself time to dwell on them. But now the danger had passed, Voldemort was dead. She had seen his lifeless body in a chamber off the hall.
She knew it would take time for the Wizarding World to get back on its feet, knew that Hogwarts would one day reopen and that she would be there when it did. What she couldn’t seem to figure out was when she would ever get to Australia to find her parents and lift the enchantment she has placed on them almost a year ago. She couldn’t imagine doing it now. Not in the state she was currently in. The past year had left her exhausted and nightmares were a common occurrence. No not now, but soon, she promised herself.
She thought of her parents again after taking her N.E.W.T’s and relaxing near the lake outside of the repaired castle. The last letter she had received from Dean had asked about when she planning on going, and if she wanted him to come along with her for support. She hadn’t responded. She was about to be a fully qualified wizard, about to fully immerse herself in the wizarding world. Now would be a horrible time to go. She wouldn’t be able to dedicate the time necessary to build a relationship again. And how would she be able to explain the amount of time that had passed, where they were, the fact that they no longer had jobs or a home to call their own?
“Soon,” she promised herself again, “Once I’ve figured this all out, I’ll go.”
Another year would pass before Hermione found herself in Melbourne, Australia in a car outside of the home she arranged for her parents to move into. She had come alone after battling with herself for weeks. It was time. If she would ever have the strength to go and visit her parents it was now. The therapy had been working. Her nightmares, though they hadn’t ceased, had lessened over the last two years, and she was working through the trauma she had experienced. Now she needed to see them, to take this final step, to let them go.
Hermione was curious to see how much they might have changed. Plants sat outside on their small porch, along with two chairs and a small table. She imagined them sitting outside in the mornings drinking coffee, or having a glass of wine outside after dinner, something she had never seen her parents do before. Different scenarios were playing her head when minutes later she saw her mother exit the house. Caroline’s hair, which she would usually wear straightened and pulled back in a bun, was now loose and curly, free flowing down her back. Her mother was holding a bulldog on a leash in her arms. Gregory came out to join her minutes later. The two began walking down the street together and Hermione, after waiting a few moments, followed. Her parents walked hand in hand, immersed in a conversation that Hermione was too far back to overhear. She watched the dog, lost in thought. Crookshanks had been the only pet the family had ever owned, and since he spent as much time at the house that she did, her parents had hardly had to bother with him. Now they had a pet of their own.
She continued to follow her parents from a distance as they walked down the street, until they finally turned off a little ways into a small cafe. Her father took the bulldog, referring to him as Frankie, and sat down in the outside seating area. She followed her mother inside.
“Hello Joy,” Caroline said to the server as she stepped up to the counter. “We’ll have our usual.”
“Morning Monica,” Joy responded as she began placing their order. “I see you guys brought Frankie out with you today. It’s nice enough. We haven’t had a day this nice all winter.”
“Oh, it’s great. We’re going to head out to the NGV later on today,” Caroline said, “Just to get out of the house for a little bit.”
“Well, that’ll be nice. You guys enjoy and have a good one,” Joy said, handing over the two drinks.
“Thanks Joy,” Caroline said, taking the food.
Hermione moved to the side to let her mother pass. Caroline looked at her briefly and said good morning, which Hermione returned in kind. She watched as her mother walked outside and sat with her father, then turned to the server and placed her order. After receiving her coffee, she plucked up her courage and walked outside. She could see her parents were engaged in conversation, but it was now or never and she had come all this way to see them.
“I’m sorry to interrupt,” she said. “I couldn’t help but hear you saying that you were planning to head to the National Gallery. It’s my first time visiting Melbourne and I was just curious what you would recommend.”
“How much time do you have?” Gregory said laughing. “It’s a beautiful museum, and they’ve got a few exhibits right now, the Rover and Queenie for example, that are worth visiting.”
“We’ve gone quite a few times since moving here,” Caroline said. “The Australian and Asian art collections are very beautiful.”
“We’ve been here for a few years and it’s definitely one of our favorites,” Gregory said. “You sound like you’re from our old parts. Berkshire?”
“Yes,” Hermione answered, amused that her father could so easily pick up on her accent and not the resemblance between her and her mother.
“On holiday?” Gregory asked.
“In a way. Visiting some family I haven’t seen in a few years. Do you enjoy it here?”
“We do,” Caroline said. “We were both working so much before, it’s been a nice change of pace really.”
“We’ve made some great friends out here. Got little Frankie about a year ago.”
“It’s still very nice meeting people from back home. We’re Monica and Wendell by the way,” Caroline said extending her hand.
“Very nice to meet you both,” she said shaking Monica’s hand, then Wendell’s. “I’m Hermione.”
“I love that name. I remember reading it years ago in a play, The Winter’s Tale it was, I think.” Monica said.
“That’s where my mother got it,” Hermione said. She stood up and prepared to walk away. “You two have a great day.”
“You too Hermione,” Wendell called behind her. “Enjoy your time here visiting family.”
Instead of answering she turned around and waved goodbye, taking one last look at her mom and dad and the new life they created. She was going to head the National Gallery like they had suggested, to see the world through their new eyes before heading back to the life she was creating for herself. She was surprised she hadn’t cried, though emotions were swirling inside her. As much she had loved them, they had drifted apart years ago and she was glad to remember them as they were now, enjoying their lives, happy in the new home and life she had given them.