Hermione led Harry through the large cluster of people milling about, still holding his hand. She was pretty fast, he mused, thinking about how she would be on a broomstick. ‘I’ll try to get her on one this year for sure.’ he promised himself. ‘Maybe she can even come on mine, so I can teach her how to properly steer it.’
His mind started conjuring pictures of Hermione pressed against him, arms around his waist, curly hair dancing in the wind and tickling his neck… He flushed brightly, and lowered his head lest anyone in the crowd see him, or Hermione. Sure, she may have been pretty accepting when he told her he liked her, but she would most certainly be scared away if she knew he thought of things like that. ‘I’m so not worth her…’
Suddenly, Harry felt Hermione stop abruptly. Looking up in shock, he saw that they were standing apart from the rest of the crowd, towards the back of the magical station. Directly facing them were a man and woman, whom he remembered vaguely from the Diagon Alley outing him and the Weasley’s had been on the summer before 2nd year.
“Mom, Dad, this is Harry Potter.” introduced Hermione, smiling happily.
“Oh hello Harry, it really is a pleasure to meet you!” exclaimed the woman kindly. She stepped forward with her arms outstretched as if to give him a hug. But all Harry could see now was Aunt Petunia, coming towards him with a frying pan, getting ready to aim it at his head. Instinctively, he backed up.
Jean Granger stopped, eyeing him worriedly now. “I’m sorry sweetie, I did’t mean to scare you!” she looked upset.
“Oh no Mrs. Granger, you did’t scare me at all, I’m just feeling a little woozy today, excuse me.” He was quick to reassure, blushing with embarrassment at his mistake.
She did’t look like she quite believed him, but Hermione intervened quickly, understanding of her best friend’s plight.
“That’s OK Harry, we understand. But you are going to rest on the train, there’s plenty of time, and you’ll be bored otherwise anyways.” she added, seeing him ready to argue.
The two adults shared a look, both happy and worried about the closeness they sensed from the two teens. Although, the worry was more from Dan Granger. For him, after all, Hermione was his only daughter, and no man would ever be worthy of her.
“Umm…OK, I guess.” mumbled Harry, embarrassed, but still thankful for Hermione’s ingenuity in making up an excuse for his own odd behavior.
Then he made another, thankfully successful attempt to greet his best friend’s parents. This time, they only shook hands, and it all went smoothly.
“You’ll take good care of my daughter this year, yes?” demanded Dan, eyeing the boy sternly.
“Dad!” Hermione flushed brightly, terrified that her father would scare away Harry for good, and then there would be no chance that he’d ever love her, the way she had done for so many years.
“What? I’m your father Hermione, I’m aloud to ask people to take care of you, and believe me I will until you turn 21, at the very least.” replied he, matter of factly.
“Of course, sir. I’ll try my best.” said Harry convincingly. It was the one thing this year that he’d have absolutely no trouble doing.
“Good.” approved Dan, nodding his head.
From the side, Jean smiled inwardly. Though the boy obviously was very self-conscious and nervous in other aspects, he seemed to be quite confident where it mattered most. She was certain that with a little time and effort on her daughter’s part, Harry would become a lot more self-assured, and that within the year the kids would be dating and Dan would be content about it.
All four made idle chit-chat for another fifteen minutes, topics centered mostly on Hogwarts and Quidditch, which Mr. Granger was actually quite interested in. Harry told him all about it, soon becoming more comfortable around him since it did not look as if he would be rebutted, at least not for the moment.
When the train whistled in warning that it was soon leaving, Hermione gave her parents a hug and kiss on the cheek each, and Harry shook their hands one last time. Then, they both took hold of their trunks, which were by their sides, and headed off to find a last-minute compartment.