When Hermione Jean Granger was 9, her mother, Rose, gave her a book to read, and it wasfiction. Hermione remembered giving her a questioning stare, wondering how on earth the
about silly girls matchmaking and rich men finding wives.
“By Jane Austen,” Rose replied.
Hermione’s brows had knotted. She turned the book over in her hand, reading theunderside of the jacket. “This is a romance novel. Jane Austen writes romance novels.” She
took umbrage at that.
Rose had just smiled and said, “Read it. All textbook and no fiction makes Hermione adull girl.” She had, of course, invented that saying, but Rose Granger would use it many times
through the course of Hermione’s life. In the meantime, that would be the first time Rose would
use the adage, and it would mark Hermione’s first foray into fiction.
She had opened the book and found a name scribbled at the front in a calligrapher’s script.“Hermione Jane Granger.”
Rose had shrugged. “I thought you’d be a Jane when I first bought that book for you.”Other newborn babies got golden booties or silver rattles. Hermione Granger got a book.
“Your father liked Jean better. No matter. It’s just two letters.”
It had bothered Hermione. She wanted to change that name to reflect her real one, but hermother hadn’t been fussed, so neither should she, she thought.
Hermione remembered heeding her mother’s advice about reading the book, and sherecalled, rather sheepishly, that she had enjoyed reading Emma exceedingly. When her mother
had asked her about it at dinner that night, Hermione replied with a long and technical literary
analysis of why Jane Austen had written a masterpiece. Rose had looked mildly disappointed
by her daughter’s response.
Hermione had been confused at that. She had thought her mother would be pleased byher intelligent and well-thought-out insight and opinion. For a long time, Hermione never
figured out why.
Hermione Jean Weasley, 38, found Emma hidden underneath a pile of books about magicaltheory and history. Its salmon-colored hardcover was slightly crisp at the edges, but the
bindings seemed solid as she picked it out of the box. It opened with a soft crackle, and on its
blank first page she saw her name — or what should have been her name.
“Hermione Jane Granger,” she read out loud.
Ron looked up from his own box of thingamajigs questioningly.
“It’s what my mother had wanted to name me. Dad preferred Jean, though.”
His eyebrow arched and he went back to work. “I was thinking about Granger, not Jane. At any rate, you can change ‘em all cleanly with a spell.”
A heavy silence descended upon them, though he continued to pack her things.
“What for?” Hermione finally asked.
He sniffed. “You’re right, of course. No sense in changing it now.”
Hermione Jean Granger sat in a quiet coffee shop two days later, Harry Potter sittingacross their small table. He seemed deep in thought as he fiddled restlessly with his hands. His
wedding ring glittered in the sunlight as he twisted it.
skin to mark what once was there.
She looked at her own hand. Her finger now lay bare, with nothing but a lighter shade of
“Really, there was no point in him coming,” Hermione said in as chatty a tone as shecould. “The divorce papers were signed and all. Just needed to be notarized, so I suppose he
didn’t actually have to be there...”
knew what she was thinking, and right now, he probably understood how much it meant for
His gaze met hers, and she knew she could never get a lie past Harry. He almost always
her to have had Ron present at the finalization of their divorce. Not that divorcing Ron Weasley
was an occasion to celebrate, but in spite of everything that led to the demise of their marriage,
Hermione had hoped that the friendship that had kept them together for twenty years would
have meant something, even on a day like this one. She had already lost a husband. She had
hoped she would be able to keep her best friend.
“Give him time,” Harry said, giving her hand a soft squeeze. “You have two childrentogether. He’s not going far.”
She squeezed back. “What if— what if he runs off with our kids and—“
He shot her a disparaging look.
She shot back with a stubborn frown. “My kids hate me. They think this divorce is all myfault. Why wouldn’t they think that? I’m the one who’s always uptight. I’m the one who nags
everyone in the house. I’m the one who makes Ron feel like— like...they’d gladly run off
with their father—“
Ron will not run off with them. Ron could be many kinds of prat, but not that kind.”
“Your kids do not hate you. They probably hate the situation but they don’t hate you, and
chair close to hers so he could comfort her properly. The warmth of his arms around her was
Harry was right, of course, but she began to cry anyway, and Harry, sighing, scraped his
reassuring and it felt good to cry.
He gave her his handkerchief. She used it to wipe away her tears. She fingered the goldand red monogram, HJP.
“Did Ginny embroider this?” Hermione asked nonsensically, stuffy nose and all.
“Every single stitch,” he said.
She strangled a snort. Ginny Potter, the homemaker.
At least she managed to keep her husband, unlike some career women I know...
She smudged the letters with her dark brown eyeliner. “Sorry,” she muttered.
“Don’t worry about it. nLots more where that came from...”
She nodded, wiping off more tears. n“Maybe this is the sort of thing I should’ve donefor Ron. Maybe I should’ve stayed home and embroidered his initials on handkerchiefs and
made elegant home-cooked meals and crafted pretty, clever party favors every time we had
friends over for dinner...”
Harry’s lips straightened to a line. “Hermione, don’t.”
“I’m just saying,” she went on miserably. “ Molly raised him to expect that kind of thingfrom a wife, instead he got me. Ginny’s certainly an expert. She’s an Enchanted Homes magazine
favorite— and how many kitchens do you have in your house? Three? I can’t even run one
properly. No offense to your wife, but she makes me look pretty damn bad!”
He said nothing, and she wondered if she had crossed some kind of line.
“I’m sorry,” she said half-heartedly. “I didn’t mean to sound like I hated her. I don’t. I’mjust jealous, maybe.”
“Don’t be,” he said, then he blushed, which made Hermione wonder if there was more towhat he had just said.
It occurred to Hermione that she hadn’t seen Ginny in person for quite some time. Sure,she had read the magazine articles, but it had been a while since Mrs. Potter had invited them
for tea or dinner. That might have been on account of the divorce proceedings she and Ron had
to deal with in the last few months.
“How is Ginny, by the way?” she asked.
“Alright,” he replied, quickly. Too quickly.
“Good.” She fidgeted uncomfortably with the handkerchief.
“She wants another baby. Did Ron tell you about that?”
“No. Does she, now? Probably missing having children in the house, what with yousending Lily off to Hogwarts and all.”
“Does she want a girl or a boy?”
“Another girl, maybe. She’s still deciding.”
That sounded odd and Hermione chuckled. “Oh, is she? Has she set a deadline for thisdecision, or is she anticipating a future circumstance that may provide her with an answer?”
Now Harry really frowned.
“I’m terrible today, aren’t I?” Hermione hastily said. “I didn’t mean anything by it.”
“She’s a very loving wife, Hermione.”
“I know. I know. I’m a complete berk.”
“She lives for me, our children, the house... she’s perfect...” His voice trailed.
Hermione eyed him suspiciously as he seemed to get lost in his own thoughts, but then hewas smiling again, and he was asking her if there were still things that needed moving from her
house to her parents’, where Hermione would be staying until she could find a new place while
her and Ron’s lawyers were selling the one they previously shared.
“Some books,” Hermione replied. “Old ones, but I’d like to keep them.”
“Come on, then,” he said, helping her to her feet. “I’ll help you transport them in case Ron isn’t there to help.”
“He won’t be there,” she said quietly.
Harry just nodded as he let her lead the way out of the shop.
Ron wasn’t there, and without the children, the house was depressingly quiet.
Everything was immaculately clean. It was much easier to keep house when the kidsweren’t there to make messes, not that they were horrible at it, just that Hermione got annoyed
each time she had to pick up after everyone, resenting the fact that she had to tell Ron to help
her do it, rather than have him do it at his own initiative.
“I think you missed a spot right here,” Harry said, wiping an imaginary speck of dirt offthe doorknob with a vigorous rub of his sleeve.
She chuckled. “No teasing. I’m a divorced woman today. Nothing should be funny.”
He smirked, too sure that he could still make her laugh, anyway.
They headed up to the attic and there were two boxes of books yet to be sealed. Theyweren’t very heavy, and they could very well be levitated to make carrying them easier, but
Hermione appreciated the company.
Harry got on his knees and took the sealing tape nearby. He glanced briefly at the top ofthe pile. “Is that a fiction book I spy? I didn’t know you read fiction.”
“You’re teasing again. You very well know I read fiction, Harry. And that happens to beone of my favourites. Emma, by Jane Austen.”
“Jane Austen...oh, now I remember. She’s one of your favorite authors. Your mother’s,too, if I recall correctly.”
It was amazing how Harry remembered things like that. “Absolutely correct. That book’sat least 38 years old. Mum gave it to me supposedly on the day I was born.”
“You sure you didn’t come out of her holding it?”
“Haha. Contrary to popular belief, I wasn’t born with a book stuck up my arse.”
Harry lifted the front cover. “Hermione Jane?”
“Mum thought I’d be a Jane when she bought the book for me. Dad preferred Jean.”
Harry thought about it. “I like Jane. Jean’s nice, but Jane seems such a lovely, comfortingname.”
Hermione smiled in spite of herself.
They worked together sealing the boxes, and when the boxes were secure enough, Harrylevitated them down the stairs. Shrinking made Apparating with them easier, and when they
got to the Grangers’ front porch, he un-shrunk them with a quick wave of his wand.
“Thanks, Harry,” Hermione said. “Care to come inside? I bet mum misses you.She’s been stocking up on her jars of honey and jams. Some of them have your name on them.”
shoot at home...” His grin waned a bit.
He grinned. “I’ll come by again soon enough. Right now, I have to get going. Photo-
“Magical Gardens, this time. Same publication, different name.”
Hermione examined the glazed look in his eyes. “Do it for Ginny.”
He sighed. “Who else do you think I do it for?”
She shrugged. “It means a lot to her.”
He just smiled. He paused, was about to say something, but seemed to decide against it.“I have to go. Take care, Hermione.”
He kissed her cheek and walked off, a slight slump in his shoulders.
“Look, mum,” Hermione said, plucking the old book from the top of the pile. “It’s Emma.”
Rose seemed mildly surprised for a bit before she smiled. “Your first book.” She alwayscalled it Hermione’s first book, even if there were many non-fiction books that Hermione had
read before it. In Rose’s mind, she gave the book to her daughter on the day Hermione was
born, so it would be Hermione’s first book.
Rose pushed back the hardcover. “Oh, you never changed the name?”
Hermione smirked. “I suppose I never did.” She waved her wand and the letters inJane switched cleanly to spell Jean.
Rose seemed surprised. “I meant— oh, never mind. It’s just as well.”
Hermione knew what she meant, of course, but Rose was right. It was all beside the point.
“Was that Harry outside just now?” Rose asked, carefully opening the book to the firstpage.
Hermione nodded. “He just helped me haul these. He had to hurry back to their house tomake it to another photo-shoot. Sends you his love.”
“He always does. How are the Potters doing?”
Hermione paused too long. Rose’s eyebrow was arching in seconds.
“They’re fine,” Hermione said.
Rose didn’t push. She wasn’t a gossip. Hermione liked to think she wasn’t, either.
“I love Mr. Knightley best,” said Rose as she got further along in the book. “Mr.Knightley, in fact, was one of the few people who could see faults in Emma Woodhouse, and
the only one who ever told her of them... Possibly the only person in this book with any sense,
though the other characters are so charming anyway that I could only love them all for it.”
Hermione gave it a brief thought. “Mr. Knightley? Really?”
“Well, who do you like best, then?”
Hermione shrugged. “Emma, imperfect as she is, has a rather firm place in my affections.She is so forgivably human and endearingly well-intentioned. I relate to her greatly.”
“Well, it’s a matter of personal opinion, is what I think.”
“No, tell me what you think. Don’t you think I make a fine Emma Woodhouse?”
Rose laughed at that. “Why does everyone aspire to be Emma? Jane Austen would bescandalized. She had no desire to have her readers admiring Emma so. She had, in fact, thought
that she made Emma properly unlikable.”
“Never Emma! She’s a dear! So kind, yet so clueless. Don’t we all feel like we’re Emma?”
Rose shrugged. “Oh, I like Emma exceedingly, but I always thought of you as a Mr.Knightley...”
“Oh, well, that’s natural, what with my top hat and breaches.”
“Silly girl, you know what I mean. He is the wisdom and reason of the vivacious andimpulsive Emma. He leads her down the right path. He is her true friend. Anyone should
want to be the Mr. Knightleys for the Emmas of the world.”
Hermione laughed. “So you agree that there are indeed many Emmas?”
“No. I agree that there are Emmas, but I don’t think there are a lot of them. They are, infact, a rather rare breed.”
“Indeed. ‘Handsome, clever, and rich, with a comfortable home and happy disposition,seeming to unite the best blessings of existence.’ You’re right. They’re rare enough!”
“Seeming is the right word. Many Emmas have convinced themselves and the rest of theworld that they are whom the people around them paint them to be. The Emmas are
easily convinced, simply because it seems more comfortable that way. They fancy themselves
blessed, but when they have their Mr. Knightleys remind them of their responsibilities, they
often rebel, and only realize in the end that Mr. Knightley was the right one all along. A lot of
celebrities are Emmas, I’d wager, and not all of them have Mr. Knightleys, the poor dears.”
Hermione could only grin. “It seems to me that I’m nothing without an Emma, then. Whoshall my Emma be? Ron?”
“Well, that would be rather silly, wouldn’t it?” Rose said, tilting her head thoughtfully.“Ron would be more of a Harriet...don’t you think so? Hanging on to the perfect image that is
Emma— relying on her just because she’s convinced herself that she couldn’t get on, on her
own. Aspiring for the wrong man once or twice, even?”
Hermione shot her mother a sardonic look. “Thanks for that. Wrong, am I?”
Rose patted her hand sympathetically. “Dear, you and Ron just got divorced.”
“Right. So if Ron is Harriet, I assume you’re telling me I haven’t quite found my Emma.”
Rose looked thoughtful again. “I don’t know about that. I used to fancy Harry beingEmma.”
“Oh, he’ll look smashing in a dress.”
Rose snapped the book shut. “Laugh if you like. Jane’s never wrong. There’s a reason Igave you this book, you know. I had hoped you’d learn a thing or two from it. Maybe you
should reread it. You obviously missed the point.”
Hermione was greatly amused.
Nevertheless, she tucked the book back into her box, resolving to do as her motheradvised. Perhaps her perspective of Emma since she read it at 9 would be different, and perhaps
next time she gave her opinion of it to Rose, Hermione might actually discover what her mother
had wanted her to find in the first place.
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