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Welcome to Slytherin

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Welcome to Slytherin

 

Is a set of words that appears on Hermione Granger's inner left arm when she is a small tot barely able to recite the periodic table, but already masterful of the alphabet. Her parents tell her to hide the mark if she can – because they don't understand it, but they aren't about to let their fear dictate their lives when sharpies are a thing and children love to write on themselves. Hermione likes tracing her fingers over the words with a fond smile that says it all: This is mine and nobody else's. I'm special. Shove it, world.

It isn't until Hermione Jean Granger gets her hands on Hogwarts textbooks that she finds out these words on her arm are her link to a soulmate. Her soulmate. HERS. It is someone who loves her and will cherish her forever and won't be mean like children at school who have unresolved issues with hostility.


 

Hogwarts: a History is Hermione's favourite book. Because that's where she first sees the word Slytherin.

Salazar Slytherin is a man of great power who is prejudiced against muggleborns – LIKE HERSELF – but, Hermione draws up an explanation, only because back then muggles and those influenced by muggles – aka muggleborns – used to BURN witches and wizards. Used to inflict ungracious pain upon witches – like HERSELF – and were totally unhygienic back then. Hermione is from a family of dentists. She is, like, super clean. And super smart.

Her home is Slytherin.


A boy loses a frog and Hermione helps him find it. His name is Neville Longbottom and he wants to go to Hufflepuff. His gran is mean. His frog's name is Trevor.

Hermione flings open a door to a compartment like it's nothing because she's magic and she's on a train that's taking her to school and WHAT EVEN IS LIFE! A big smile is on her face; her buck teeth glare and dare anyone to insult her. She rubs her hands together when her eyes fall on a ginger boy with a wand.

''Are you going to do a spell?'' Her eyes spark and her mouth tears into a wide grin and she is thrilled. ''Let's see it then!''

Then disappointed when nothing happens.

Occulus reparo.

Then immensely satisfied when she succeeds.

She saunters outside after meeting a celebrity and a boy with dirt on his nose. Proud. Ecstasy coursing through her blood. Slowly she uncovers her inner arm and thinks – I'm so close – thinks – I'm going to meet you, finally –thinks – This is it.


The Hat sends her to Slytherin, after trying to put up some fight – but whatever foe Hermione Granger has is sure to fail. She is no Ravenclaw. Or Gryffindor. Or Hufflepuff. So says she and the words on her wrist.

A girl with a cat on her lap and a tart halfway into her mouth shakes hands with Hermione and says her name is Millicent Bulstrode, but then adds, '’Who are you?''

''Hermione Granger.'' Hermione answers clearly because her parents have taught her that mumbling means shame and she should never be ashamed of who she is.

''Granger?'' An older boy in green interrupts. ''You related to that potioneer or something?''

Hermione shakes her head. As far she's aware of, her family is as muggle as they come.

A few students look at each other. Then they blink. And then they stare at Hermione.

''What?'' Hermione is self-conscious at that point. Hands pull her hair over her face. The sorting is almost over and a blond boy sits next to her.

He is Draco Malfoy.

She is Hermione Granger.

''Like Dagworth-Granger?'' He asks, trying to understand, to rationalize the unthinkable in his eyes.

She is exasperated and says ''No.''

''So, are you a mudblood then?'' A lanky boy called Theodore Nott inquires like one inquires if it's raining outside. Or something else that's mundane.

''I'm muggleborn.'' Hermione explains in a tone one would use when speaking to someone slow.

Draco Malfoy inches away from her. As does everyone else. She is the plague that brings fire to their homes.

They think – filth – she thinks – I will not be written off.

''What's that got to do with anything?'' Hermione questions the older students and one responds. His name is Flint.

''You're a liability. You're beneath us.''

''That's not true!''

''Oh really?'' A girl, Daphne Greengrass, says. ''We aren't the ones who hunt witches and wizards.'' The voice she has is assured. This is fact.

''Oh do excuse me, but are you from the dark ages?'' Hermione yells and people from other tables turn to look. The professors don't watch, but they rarely do. Thankfully Snape's gaze is averted form his House.

Draco Malfoy rolls his eyes at her antics and snaps. ''Shut up, you're a Slytherin. Act like it.''

''Muggles don't hunt other people. Muggles don't even know you exist and it's because of the international statue of wizarding secrecy.'' Hermione's voice carries through the Great Hall. People stare, but the most uncomfortable are the folk in soon to be green scarves.

''You're not clean.'' A girl with short black hair whose name is Pansy Parkinson – Hermione remembers because her last name is a disease and her attitude is horrendous – sneers. ''Muggles live in filth.''

''I'll take you home over the holidays and show you my perfectly clean home. Your facts are based off of the dark ages and clearly you haven't updated them. It is the twentieth century. Do you even know what a pen is?'' Hermione is relentless because she is going to win this and nobody will tell her she won't. This is where she belongs and no obstacle is too great.

Pansy's eyes threaten to swallow her whole head. Draco Malfoy inches away some more from her. Flint laughs, bemused amusement tingeing his voice. Millicent notices how her cat doesn't see Hermione as an enemy and doesn't spout racists slurs at Hermione. She keeps a fair distance, though.

They all do.

''You shouldn't be in Slytherin.'' Draco Malfoy whispers under his breath, but there is a wobble in his voice that makes him doubt. And doubt is a powerful thing.


Slytherin has rules. There isn't a rule list hammered into a wall or enchanted to float around so everyone can see. They're subtle. Rules that are engraved into every Slytherin's being by the time they come to Hogwarts.

''Don't get caught.'' Draco Malfoy says to Hermione Granger because she's a hopeless mess, but she's in green and they need to look out for their own, no matter the impropriety. ''Don't be so loud either. Sweet Merlin you almost made me deaf in the Great Hall.''

Hermione rolls her eyes.

''Don't argue with Slytherins outside the common room.'' Pansy Parkinson says. ''The whole school is out to get us and we don't need to look weak.'' There's a crack, deep, that splits Hermione in half when she hears Pansy spit the word out, ''We'll let it slide once because you don't come from a magical family, but, seriously, control yourself.''

Hermione nods again and this time she bites her tongue.

Theodore Nott makes a noise of agreement, and then says. ''Also, people are going to be pricks to you because you're muggleborn and because you're Slytherin. Learn to pick your battles.''

''Keep your head down, too!'' Flint calls out.

Headgirl Slytherin then speaks. ''That goes for all of you firsties, your job is not to lose us points.''

Hermione takes in information like a sponge. Then she bends these rules to accommodate her, because she is an anomaly and shouldn't be in Slytherin. Yet she belongs. The fire inside her burns and the magic that courses through her ignites, crackles in her hair and causes it to never uncurl. (No matter the ironing spell – Tracey Davis has tried all the ones her mother has taught her)

Millicent snorts, bored cat held up in her arms. ''You really think she's going to listen to that?'' Her cat meows in agreement.

''I will,'' Hermione promises.

Tomorrow morning she's already earned Slytherin twenty points.

So much for keeping her head down.

Draco Malfoy actually hisses at Millicent to nail Hermione's arm down during Potions and she almost goes through with it.

''Knowledge should be showcased.'' Hermione recites her parents' teachings.

''Oh my Salazar why are you not in Ravenclaw with the other shit faced idiots who think like you?'' Pansy screeches. Hermione wrinkles her face in annoyance and tells her it's none of her business.

Pansy blinks at that. Then she makes it her solemn duty to find out. Though that's not resolved until next year, for now she still won't even touch Hermione in fear of getting the muggle plague.


Snape doesn't like her. That's okay, Hermione thinks, because a lot of people don't like me.

He does, Hermione muses, find my aptitude for Potions endearing. (Not enough to award points, the racist slimebag) When Neville blows up a cauldron every Slytherin takes a collective sigh of relief that they aren't his potion's partner.

Millie is her potion's partner and Hermione clings to her like a lifeline. She follows Hermione around and sometimes even leads when she notices how lost her friend is. It's a good friendship they have.


Pansy purses her lips and glares alongside Daphne Greengrass. Tracey Davis laughs at something Blaise says. The common room fills with children and near-adults. ''Seventeen is the majority?'' Hermione remembers asking. ''That's weird! And you just get married off like cattle, huh?''

At that Headgirl bristles because she's ensnared in such an arrangement. In the common room anyone willing enough to humour the genius first year answers Hermione's questions.

''Can anything break the glass?'' She points at the glass window separating her common room from certain death by drowning, mermpeople, and squid.

''It's magic.'' Blaise Zabini (unnaturally symmetrical for a twelve year old) says. ''It can't be broken.''

Hermione nods, mildly satisfied with the answer. She'll still try and find the spell capable of doing it. Just so she can find ways around it.

''Do any of you have normal sounding names?''

Theodore Nott raises his hand in the common room while they're all studying for upcoming tests. He makes her laugh, that lanky boy who never makes a problem for anyone. He, too, is a sponge that collects information. Not for academic purposes, though.

''Nott to sound rude, but when are you going to tie that tie Nott properly, Nott?'' Hermione snaps her fingers and finger guns at Theodore Nott who silently turns away and buries his head in his book.

''Please get resorted.'' Tracey Davis pleads.

''Can't do that.'' Hermione says while nodding. ''I belong here. Hat said so.''

''You won't be breaking any rules.'' Draco Malfoy tries to go past Hermione's rule abiding principles. ''It's perfectly fine for a student to change houses. Especially mudbloods.''

Hermione bobs her head right and left and says. ''Malfoy, really, now, you know I can't do that. I love it in Slytherin! You're all really fun to be around! We're like a family! A culturally diverse family!''

Blaise Zabini chokes on his own spit. Greg and Vincent are not even in the same vicinity as her. They've taken a page out of Pansy's book of dealing with the muggleborn infestation! A muggleborn in your House?! They're more common than you think!


Pansy starts to come around when she's forced to sit next to Hermione at Charms. They're doing the levitation spell. Hermione shows off the first chance she gets. One feather. Two feathers. Twenty points to Slytherin. That's it for now. Next she'll try to impart some knowledge to her fellow youths.

How about that nice, but incompetent boy from the train station? Ronnie something. Weasley. Yes, she knows that much from Malfoy's constant whinging.

''It's Wingardium LeviOsa.'' Hermione corrects. ''Your wand work is really good, but the pronunciation needs work.''

''Yeah, bugger off Slytherin, I'm doing fine.'' He mutters, ungrateful. ''Must be the hand me down wand.''

''Okay.'' Hermione backs off, but not without a jab, ''have fun being stuck on a first level spell, Weasley. And don't go around blaming that second rate wand for your own magical ineptitude.''

Pansy can appreciate anyone insulting the blood traitor Weasley clan so when Weasley starts to rag on her fellow Slytherin Hermione Granger, she's quick to her rescue.

''Oh shut up, Weasley. She's levitated, what, two feathers already and you can't do one? Clearly you're outmatched.''

''Thank you, Parkinson.''

''My absolute pleasure, Granger.''

Harry Potter calls them both Slytherin menaces and tells Ron not to take them seriously.

''Smart words coming from someone who's only got friends because he's famous.'' Hermione says nonchalantly, eyes trained on the two feathers floating in front of her.

Pansy clasps her hands together and sees Hermione Granger in a new light. Her eyes bore into the spell more than the wand does, the pureblood girl notices.


Halloween passes as any other day for Hermione at Hogwarts. Some fantastical creature is out for student blood. People are panicking. In that brief moment of fright while everyone is shuffling to get to their dorms Hermione pales – though not even under extreme fear and duress can she get as pale as Draco Malfoy – and whispers. ''Aren't the dungeons where we sleep?''

Headgirl overhears that and stops a professor. ''Professor Snape, Troll in the DUNGEONS.''

Snape just sighs his famous sigh of contempt for Hogwarts that he exhibits sometimes when no one's looking. But because everyone is under red alert he lets loose.

''Stay here, children.'' Snape sneers and then, ''Dumbledore!'' His worst nightmare is realised: He has to interact with Dumbledore a little more than usual. Someone gasps. Oh the horror!

Headgirl points at Hermione and says. ''Ten points to Slytherin for not getting us killed. Congrats, Granger.''

Hermione dusts off her school badge. ''Shucks. Don't mention it.'' Millie burst into giggles. ''I did what any sensible person would do,'' says she surrounded by people who didn't think of avoiding certain death.

Daphne covers her face with her hand and leans into Theodore Nott.

Pansy looks at Blaise who's looking at an annoyed Draco. ''Mate, whenever she opens her mouth and you get annoyed, I want you to know that's how I feel whenever you mention Potter.''

''I am not like that.''

''Yeah,'' Pansy agrees, ''you're much worse.''


Hermione goes home for the holidays and vows she's going to kick one of these pureblood girls down a peg when they go home with her and see her home is perfectly ordinary. Millie is content enough to send letters back and forth, though. Her letters always have a paw print next to her signature. Theodore doesn't send any letters; neither does Hermione expect him to. Pansy follows Theo's footsteps.

Daphne's letter is a surprise. Rich, pretty girl wants a favour? One of those muggle fashion magazines with beautiful, still photos? Of course, Hermione writes, I'll gladly bring one to you. It's the least I can do for my dorm mate.

Indebted Slytherin girls are powerful cards to hold in one's twelve year old hand.


When she returns the magic hits her full force and Hermione finds solace in it. It's like being home; regular home has a certain suffocating feeling around her throat. Stopping the Latin from phasing past tight lips. Power sizzles in her fingertips. Wand in her robe, taken out in class at a teacher's order.

Millie and her cat crash Hermione into a tight hug. They drain the life out of her, but it only makes her laugh seep with relief. She does belong here. The words on her wrist never revealed to anyone prove it.


Daphne inches closer to Hermione at the dining table. Pansy narrows her eyes. It's not a good expression on her. Though they're all eleven and everyone looks ugly as an eleven year old. Under the table Hermione hands Daphne the Vogue magazine and the pretty girl lights up. Mouths thank you. Hermione mouths back, ''You owe me.''

Daphne smiles. ''Don't say the already implied, Hermione. It's not Slytheirn.''

''Best to make sure,'' Hermione says and turns her attention to the food. Millie's hacking at it already while making sure Hermione's dentist approved food is waiting for her.

(''What are dentists?'' Blaise Zabini asks one night

''Muggle tooth healers. When you don't clean in between your teeth, or, well, floss – you have to go to dentists for them to take the bad tooth out with pincers...usually while you're fully awake to experience the pain.'')

Pansy refuses to eat, says she watches her diet, but when Millie scoops some food onto her plate the mean girl thanks her and eats a little.

They all saunter to their dorms, glad to be back at Hogwarts. Lie in their beds and get ready for class tomorrow.

Sometime in the dead of night Daphne's wand lights up as she reads under the covers, ooing and awing at photos that Hermione doesn't care for at all.

Pansy joins her and says – too loudly – ''Granger, do muggles dress like this?'' Shows her some photo of a woman that Millie already thinks looks sickly, dressed in jewels Hermione's mother would never wear in fear of getting more acquainted with the ground from the intense gravitational pull.

''Yup.'' Hermione says, sleepy, but aware of her actions. ''Definitely, Pansy. That's muggle fashion all right. Can't get more muggly than that.'' From out of her covers she raises her arm and gives Pansy a single, but decisive thumb up. ''I fully support you and any fashion choice you make. That muggle fashion would look stellar on you.''

Pansy throws the magazine at Hermione's face, but fails to hit her. Her hands tangle around the paperback and when Daphne goes over to get it back a jolt of electricity surges through her, making her flinch away.

''What the bloody hell was that!'' Hermione yells, drops the crackling magazine, and stares at it.

''Wow,'' Pansy says, ''you're twelve and still let accidental magic happen to you? This must be so embarrassing for you!''

''Shut up!'' Hermione shrieks and covers her head with the covers, mortified. Pansy laughs until Daphne elbows her in the ribs.

Tracey wakes up and murmurs they should all go back to sleep, which is rather Tracey-like since the girl doesn't talk unless she has something important to say. Her interactions with Hermione consist of asking for help and telling her how to not infuriate people slower than her.

Tomorrow they all gather and come to the conclusion they should make a study group to bring up their grades. Hermione isn't going to refuse Pansy's cry for help.

''Oh my Pansy, you want a mudblood to help you get your grades up? Tsk tsk. Spending too much time with Greg and Vincent has dumbed you down, hasn't it?'' Her grin is cruel, tinged with spite.

''I'm not going to say you're not smart, Granger. You shouldn't be, but that doesn't change the fact that you are.''

''You stuck your landing, Parkinson.'' Granger commends, ''but I'm still sour from last night.''

Pansy closes her eyes, inhales, exhales.

''Sorry for making fun of your magical outburst, sometimes it just happens when you have too much magical energy. Now that the apology is out of the way I want you to make a study group with us!'' Then for the sake of sounding sincere. ''Please,'' says Pansy with her best smile.

Hermione accepts only because Tracey says she can teach them all useful spells against boys' unwanted attention. How? ''My mother thinks any self-respecting girl ought to know how to defend herself.''

Spell by spell, chapter by chapter. They'll be great, all of them.


Dumbledore watches them from afar. Asks Snape over to his office. An audible sigh can be heard as the slimy Slytherin slithers on over to the headmaster's office.

''How is Miss Granger faring in Slytherin?'' Dumbledore asks, twinkle in his eye.

''She hasn't come crying to me, so I assume well?'' Snape says, doing his best to ignore the twinkles and gleams Dumbledore makes so he can manipulate people into making eye contact with him for long enough to be read as an uninteresting book.

''Be sure to let me know if your only muggle-raised Slytherin has any problems?''

Snape nods, but has no intention of giving himself more work than he already has protecting that Potter idiot and grading atrocious essays.


Draco Malfoy and his goons are out antagonizing Potter. Hermione's happy he's got him to harass because she knows she'd be the alternative. That's kind of a horrible thing to think and Hermione doesn't remember when she stopped caring.

All the interactions Hermione has with Malfoy are during classes where he glares fiercely (as fiercely as a privileged infant can muster) at her after she's answered three questions for the teacher. That's her cue to stop. She never stops at three. When Daphne taps her shoulder after the fifth answer THAT is when she stops.


Hermione leans into Millie and her cat purrs, stretched out over their laps. It's a calm day. All of their first year tests are done. Pansy enters the dorm soon enough and shouts. ''Are you two going to go to the quidditch game today?''

''No,'' Hermione answers immediately, ''we're busy being sat on by Millie's cat.''

Pansy looks at them both, then at the cat, then back at them. ''You're both slaves to that cat and I won't be part of this. I'm going to watch the boys hit their balls and cheer on them like a proper Slytherin.''

''We're good, thanks.'' Millie says and pets her cat behind the ear. When it purrs Hermione lets out a muffled squeal of sheer delight.

''You should get a cat, too.'' Millie encourages Hermione's cat budding obsession.

Hermione is totally on board with that idea. ''But my parents won't let me!''

''Tell them you're a witch and a witch needs a familiar.'' Tracey says, emerging from behind Pansy. The girl quickly pops in, takes out some green paint that her mother sends, puts it on, screams, ''LET'S GO SLYTHERIN!'' and leaves.

Pansy follows, muttering, ''Sweet Circe.''


Slytherin wins house cup!

All of the baby, first years are losing their minds. Draco Malfoy even looks happy to be in Hermione's presence.

Oh, oh but then Dumbledore happens!

Oh, oh, look at that Harry Potter wins house cup. Would you look at that? One hundred and sixty points awarded for sheer stupidity!

Days spent culminating house points all gone to waste! If Hermione used to be a starry eyed child she's surely not anymore. She mouths this isn't fair, but when no one says anything she shouts for everyone to hear. ''That's not fair! We earned those points fair and square!''

Blaise Zabini replies, ''Nothing we do is ever going to be fair for them. They can't accept we're good for anything but being slimy gits, Granger.''

''Fine.'' She says through hot, fuming tears. ''I'm never going to be fair again.''

''Wait until my father hears about this!'' Draco says, and his voice breaks.

Gryffindor is cheering and sneering and winning and no matter what they do, it won't measure up to the golden knights of Hogwarts.

''We should have stayed in the common room and played with your cat,'' Pansy sighs. Millie shrugs, not interested in the house cup to begin with. Sure, she's bummed out that they lost, but she's not involved herself in winning. Her job this year consisted of not losing points.

Daphne looks at her unvarnished nails and thinks she's going to change that. ''We lost, so what? You think any of this is going to matter when we're out of Hogwarts?''

''Yeah,'' Tracey speaks over Hermione's outburst, ''it's always the Slytherin that has a high position of power that all the other newly graduated Gryffs eagerly want.''

''But can't have.'' Draco joins in. Nobody mentions the redness in his eyes. ''They can look back on this moment as they're crunching notes at some dead-end job.''

''Malfoy, that's the smartest thing you've said all year.'' Hermione's voice cuts the air, her eyes blinking away the tears that won't stop coming. Her voice, at least, has calmed. ''Not going to write daddy a long letter with a thousand semi-colons?''

''I'm going to wait until I see him in person, Granger. Don't worry your hideous head.'' Then a pause. ''I thought living with proper purebloods might have taught you how to clean up?''

''You thought wrong.'' Hermione replies. ''I'm fine with just as I am, thank you.''

His lips pull back as he stares at the Gryffindors laughing, stomping on their accomplishments. ''I hate them.'' He whispers just loud enough for Hermione to hear.

''Yeah,'' she says, ''me too.''


 

END YEAR 1

Chapter Text

Welcome to Slytherin

 

Is a set of words that have single-handedly moulded Hermione Granger's life ever since she found out what they mean. They have shaped her social circle, told her where to be and with whom to live. A year has passed since she first crossed Hogwarts' threshold and the three months of summer vacation have been the longest, most gruelling months of her life.

None of her snakes come over, but that's fine. She doesn't get an invitation to Pansy's birthday party either, and that's fine, too. Hermione doesn't pay them the time of day. Instead she tries to catch up on her science and physics and math and all those fickle laws of life. Laws she can twist in her favour.

It's to keep herself busy to make the sting of their actions hurt less.

Hermione Granger refuses to fall behind her peers just because magic exists and she's a witch. Oh no, she has plans after Hogwarts. That's why she'll be finishing regular school during the summer. A girl's got to fill up her time somehow when she can't use her wand. Slytherin ambition and all that.

This is why she decides to test out some things when she goes back to Hogwarts. Physics is an illuminating subject for a witch that bends such rules to her whim. Wands are just mediators between the magic and the witch. They're training wheels.

Hermione is almost thirteen years old.

She reckons she's outgrown training wheels.

Her hair uncurls and curls as the breeze combs through her. Energy writhes within everything. Herself included.


An owl comes bearing Millie's letters. She tears into one of the letters attached and recognizes Draco Malfoy's handwriting.

Blah blahblah horrible muggleborn (someone is forcing you to be polite to me) blah blah you may have bested me at school, but I'll have my revenge this year blah blah my mother says I should cultivate you blah first Slytherin muggleborn in forever blah us Slytherins first years are meeting up at Malfoy Manor (dear Merlin he lives in a manor) blah didn't send my owl because I didn't want any of the muggle barbarians to kill it

Sincerely,

Draco Malfoy.

Hermione looks at the letter in her hands with sheer disgust at first, but then her mouth thins into a line. She can use this.

Slytherins have to stick together, it's true that it's their motto, but Hermione knows she's the minority they're all scrambling to show off as their friend. It's what people in the muggle world have been doing for years.

Her mother sees the deep expression on her twelve-year old child's face and asks from the doorframe to Hermione's room, ''Honey, anything the matter? Something happen to your friends?''

''Mother, friendship is marketing and false presentation.''

''That's networking, dear.''

Her hands crumple Malfoy's letter.

Oh she's going. She'll let them show her off, but not for free.

Never for free.

Daphne's letter (is everyone sending mail via Millie's owl in fear?) asks for more magazines. Hermione's happy to oblige. Millie and Theo ask how she's doing and if she's going to Draco's get together.

''Mum, I'm going to a party in a few days!'' Dr. Granger steeples her fingers and smiles at her child's blooming social life. '''I don't know if I should bring anything?''

''Bring chocolates.'' She offers lightly. ''It's the easiest gift.''

''I'm going to bring myself, what do you think about that?''

''Honey, you're the greatest gift on this planet.''

''Excellent.''


In the end she brings expensive chocolates. Gives them to Narcissa and calls her a lovely host while keeping her tone quiet and her arms by her side. The Slytherin hostess is a formidable woman, calm as the Hogwarts Lake, but as any Slytherin will tell you that lake is deeper than it looks.

Instantly the lady of the manor takes notice of Hermione's powerful hair and discards all the effort that went into her dress and mannerisms and shoes. And the smiling. Hermione feels like she'll pull something just by smiling like Daphne! (Never Pansy, she's never seen Pansy smile at school unless she's outright laughing at someone's misfortune)

''It's a pleasure to meet you, Miss Granger.'' Narcissa Malfoy's keeping her distance. Or just polite, Hermione can't tell. ''I hope my son has not been unsavoury towards you.''

Draco looks at her. Feeling his eyes burn holes through her is just enough for her to get the cue. ''Oh, I don't think you have to worry about Draco (calling him by his first name leaves a horrible taste in her mouth). He's been helpful.''

Narcissa pats her shoulder. ''That is good to hear, Miss Granger. May I call you Hermione?''

''Of course, ma'am,'' Hermione says with a smile and a nod. Next she notices a man drenched in privilege that's trying to tolerate her existence. Is not fond of his situation, but doesn't overtly show discomfort. Probably will whinge to his wife. Oh she's going to bleed him dry.

Lucius Malfoy (the man who's heard everything there is to hear about Hogwarts in letters and in person) looks at the appendage Hermione's outstretched to him. Almost sneers.

''Good afternoon, sir, my name is Hermione Granger. I'm that House-mate Draco keeps telling you about.''

A vein pops in Lucius' forehead and she knows, Hermione knows she's won.

He shakes her hand, manages a ''Pleasure'', and shoos her off to go play with the children who've already arrived. All of them dressed in fine clothes, waiting in Narcissa's garden.


The girls move away from the boys at Pansy's demand. She leads them through intricate shrubbery, well into a labyrinth Narcissa prides herself in. Nobody tells Hermione You-know-who probably used it to hunt muggles for fun. Flowers stare at them as they venture deeper.

Millicent asks what's going on, but Pansy only tells her to wait. When Pansy knows no boy will follow a lady (since when are we ladies, Pansy? We're twelve) this far out that's when they halt.

Pansy pulls down her right sock and shows a swirling blue and white mark. ''I got a soulmark!'' She screeches and points at her ankle.

Daphne crouches in her dress, decorum out the window, and forgets to close her mouth. ''Merlin, Pansy, I'm so happy for you!''

Tracey whistles and goes to poke it, but Pansy steps out of the way. ''Tracey, don't touch it! It's rude to touch another's soulmark without permission. Especially if you're not the other wearer.''

''How do you know I'm not?'' Tracey challenges, her lips pursed in offence at Pansy's dismissal.

''Don't be daft.'' Pansy stomps her foot down and continues, ''Yours probably belongs to some rich aristocrat who'll adore you to the ends and back.'' Tracey rolls her eyes, but keeps her hands to herself.

Daphne places a varnished nail to her lips and muses aloud. ''Why does it look like a sun, but it's drawn in cold colours?''

Millicent shrugs at that. ''Maybe because it's a moon?''

''It has those sun rays. But everything is tinted blue.'' Hermione joins the conversation, her eyes glued to the mark on Pansy's ankle. Quickly she licks her lips and bites her lip and thinks.

What is this what is this

Why does she have a symbol

The books never specified what appears

There should be a pattern there has to be a pattern

I won't stand by this I need to know have to know now.

''What do you think that means?'' Pansy asks no one in particular. Her anxious pitter-pattering of fingers against the stone wall supporting the roses is her only sign of discomfort.

''Well, symbols are practical. Maybe your soulmate is mute and can't speak?'' Hermione answers her textbook answer. The only thing the books ever said. ''They ought to have the same symbol on their body somewhere, right? Words are more complicated.''

''Words are more common.'' Daphne says, and gives her pureblood answer, ''Pansy, it's a fey. My great-grandaunt had a symbol and she tangled with the fair folk.''

Pansy laughs a laugh only those in horrible pain, strangled by fear, can emit. ''Oh that's not it, hahahaha, no, no, that's not it at all. I'm sure that's not it. It's probably some boy I already know.''

''Tough luck then.'' Millicent snorts, ''All the boys we know are arses.''

''When the mothers are away the pureblood girls can swear, eh, Millie?'' Tracey elbows the girl gently and laughs.

Hermione gulps down a ball of horrid dread that's trapped inside her throat. She can't breathe.

''Anyone remember the way out?'' Pansy asks after a beat. She pulls her sock above her ankle and asks Hermione. ''What's with you, Granger? You've not said a word in a while.''

Hermione flings her head back, hair off her face and away from her mouth. ''I don't live to amuse you, Parkinson.'' When Pansy opens her mouth to repeat her question Hermione says over her, ''No, I don't know the way back, Maze girl.'' Hermione tugs down at her dress' sleeve. Millicent notices the nervous gesture.

''I know the way.'' Daphne says and they follow her out, cracking jokes and talking about the boys and if they had any mysterious marks or words appear on their skin.

''Probably not, it's all random. My mother didn't have her words appear until she was a year out of Hogwarts, but she met my dad in first year.'' Pansy explains, ''She told me not to worry. If your soulmark appears, then the other's soulmark appears immediately. Symbols are awesome. Words, you never know with words.'' The pureblood girl sags in relief.

Hermione pulls her lips back in a sneer. Great. Nothing is ever simple with her, is it?


''Mates,'' Blaise starts just as the girls have left them by the Malfoy pond, ''I woke up this morning with a bunch of words on my chest. It's a pretty handwriting, not as smooth and twirly as Draco's though.''

Draco is quick to assure him, ''Blaise, you aren't meant for someone of my stride and stature. Even magic agrees.''

''Nice.'' Vincent ignores Draco's philosophical rambling. ''What do they say?'' He asks.

''Spill,'' Draco urges, having realised for his brilliance no crowd is good enough, ''before the girls come back and start interrogating you.''

''They say something along the lines of me being a twat and that I should watch myself unless I wish to get punched in the face again.'' Blaise paraphrases because he's only going to undress for a pretty lady. Not his dumbbell friends. Well, maybe if some of them get cuter. Though, he thinks that's not going to happen any time soon.

''At least you know you get punched in the face first and then are told who your soulmate is.'' Theodore Nott laughs. The lake they're sitting at has fish that jump in the air, wobble, and fall back inside. When they do this the lake changes colours from green to silver to translucent.

Vincent points out that that's weird for a lake. ''Dontcha think?'' Greg nods along, playing with a stick he found, drawing in the dirt nearby it.

Draco shrugs. ''My parents have odd pastimes.'' And they leave it at that.

Because when the Slytherin girls come back there's no time to be talking about lakes and fish when there's so much more important business to get to!

''Has anyone heard who our DADA professor is?'' Tracey's smile splits her face horizontally like someone's used a string to make a moon into an hourglass. Before anyone can answer she blurts out excitedly, her hands clapping along with the words. ''Draco has! Haven't you, Draco?''

''I'm the one that told you.'' Draco whispers in the tone of a man who has done something horribly wrong and realised too late.

Hermione and Millicent exchange a look of ignorance. ''Who?'' Hermione is quick to rectify that lapse in knowledge.

''Gilderoy Lockhart.'' Draco repeats. ''My father told me he heard this information from the Ministry. He doesn't seem particularly fond of him.''

''Why not?'' Hermione is quick to see Draco's sagging shoulders. ''He can't be worse than Quirrel.''

''Oh,'' Blaise snorts, ''you never know with Dumbledore.''

''He's amazing!'' Tracey squeals. ''You just wait and see, Hermione!''

''I highly doubt he's all that.'' Hermione Granger, future Number One fan of Gilderoy Lockhart, says.


Gilderoy Lockhart (badumts drums Hermione's girlish heart) is the most dashing, most handsome man alive. He goes to the magical bookstore – which is a big plus in Hermione's opinion – to promote his books – an even bigger plus - but he grabs Harry die already Potter and pulls him into a photo session.

And just like that.

Hermione Granger feels her heart deflate. No plusses can make up for such a backhand.

But then!

OH THEN!

His eyes scan the room and fall on her, his smile and attention fall on Hermione. (Hermione is so happy she's bought her brand new, shiny, robes already)

Hermione's eyes widen and she swallows a ball of anxiety that's obstructed her throat.

While this is all happening Lucius Malfoy decides to ruin Girl Weasley's life by giving her a killer notebook. The Weasley clan is too busy counting knuts to see if they can afford second-rate things to notice. Lucius feels his heartburn coming back just by being near such poor people.

''Where are your parents?'' Draco asks her to make conversation and possibly meet a living muggle. He looks amiable enough, that's why Hermione doesn't wave him away.

''They had to do surgery on some idiot and asked if I could do the shopping myself. I said I could.'' Hermione pats her wand. ''I'm rather well protected.''

Draco Malfoy – prince of not interacting with Hermione Granger – offers her to continue shopping with him and his father. Who is not at all happy with the idea, but won't voice it because Arthur Weasley is there and he'll be damned if he shows weakness and prejudice in front of him and his infernal ducks.

Instead, he smiles like a politician and says. ''I'm happy Draco knows to keep good company.''

''Company is limited when most of Hogwarts hates you for wearing green.'' Hermione blurts out, her hands gripping her bag with books. Baby Malfoy offers to hold them for her, but she shakes her head and he relents. She isn't a pureblood he has to pretend to be nice to.

''It's more complicated than that,'' Lucius allows himself to plunge into a conversation with Hermione. ''You're missing context, Miss Granger.''

''I read up on a lot of things, Mr. Malfoy.'' Hermione's gaze flicks up and makes intense eye contact with a man that's made out of hidden thorns. He is a beautiful rose that when picked a fight with attacks full force. ''The eighties were a horrible time, yes, but it doesn't explain why children should suffer because of prejudice parents are maintaining and condoning to this day.''

Lucius Malfoy has no good answer for her there. ''What do you wish to do with your life, Miss Granger?'' He, instead, asks.

''Muggle politics.'' Hermione answers decisively. ''The wizarding world is too small.'' She avoids making eye contact with the people gaping at a muggleborn walking alongside two Malfoys. ''I don't see myself filing paperwork at a job I know I cannot push through.''

''At least you're self-aware.'' Lucius whispers and guides both of the children to an alley that's two degrees colder, seventy-five telly, volume bars lower, but just as bright as Diagon Alley. ''I have some errands to do, children, but I'll treat you later with ice cream.''

Draco Malfoy beams at that, happy to show off his cool father.

''I can't eat sweets.'' Hermione is quick to make everyone fun uncomfortable with her dentist approved lifestyle.

''You must really hate Hogwarts food, then.''

''They only serve pumpkin juice, sir.''

''Have you tried speaking with the elves about it?''

''The what now.''

''House elves.'' Lucius explains. ''They're magical creatures that serve as staff at most houses, but the greatest abundance of them lives and works at Hogwarts.''

''Are they paid?''

''A job well done is their only payment.''

Hermione halts.

Malfoy the original and Malfoy the remix look at Hermione.

''That's slavery.''

''No,'' Lucius is quick to interject – to calm, ''it's not. They're happy.''

''No, no they aren't.'' Hermione who's just recently learnt about House Elves has become the House Elf expert. ''You don't know that. You're the oppressor, they're not going to complain to you – the slaver.''

Draco tugs at his robe and prepares mentally for the fight ready to break out. He looks at his father and tries to relay to him, as gently as possible, that she's not worth getting into a fight with. Because she does not stop. At all.

''Do you know how to knit,'' Lucius asks, because he's a chaotic neutral man, ''Miss Granger?''

''No, why?'' Hermione quirks her brows upward, her hair dangling briefly in her face that she blows off.

''Freely given and freely accepted clothing articles free House Elves.'' Draco tells her.

''I can learn.''

And isn't that the most Hermione Granger thing to say?


Borgin and Burkes have so many things. So, so many wonderful, ingenious things laid out bare for customers to peruse. From odd jars full of howling things that have been expertly muted to dark artefacts and BOOKS. IT'S A BOOKSTORE! Oh she's going to buy something here.

Hermione has leftover money to spend. She's already done the robes and the school books. Oh this is pure nirvana – thinks Hermione - this is beautiful.

(''Children, don't touch or look at anything.'' ''Yes, father.'' ''Can I buy something here or is this an adult store and that's why you're telling us not to touch or look at stuff, sir?'' ''Miss Granger, they're cursed items.'' ''That's what my mother told me about sweets, sir.'')

In the end he tells them both to mind the signs detailing curses and to have fun while he sells off some important items that once held a sentimental value to his cool heart.

''Why you sellin' this, Mr.Malfoy?'' Borgin puts his elbows on the desk and nearly lunges into Lucius' face.

''They're old and ratty and attract magical vermin.''

''The ministry doing raids again, ain't it?''

''That is completely unrelated to me selling these magical items.'' Lucius taps a book with his cane's head and it snarls in defence, spouting black smoke. ''Naricssa and I are just doing spring cleaning.'' (August is the new March, haven't you heard, Mr. Borgin?)

''Right, right.'' Borgin winks. ''Of course, sir.''

Meanwhile Hermione's eyes scan the perimeter, attention solely resting on a book about wandless magic for beginners. Small hands prod at it. Draco hastily moves to her side, but just a little behind her. Cautious Slytherin meets Raw Force of Nature Hermione Granger.

''I want this.'' Hermione says. And like a switch Mr Borgin's shopkeeper senses tingle.

Mr Borgin, who has been schmoozing Mr Malfoy for the past ten minutes, looks over his desk and sees a child.

''You a lil' young for that book, girlie?''

''No.''

''All right, then.'' He outstretches his hand for the money. Hermione fumbles for her small bag of wizarding money she's changed at Gringotts like a pro. In the meantime Lucius takes the book from her and inspects it for any sign of burrowed curses. He can't be responsible for a muggleborn that has been seen with him and his son falling prey to a curse. Not in THIS day and age.

''I admire your tenacity, Miss Granger.'' Lucius praises her, ''It's not every day you see someone like you. So eager to climb in power.''

''Sir,'' Hermione tells him while she's handing money over to Borgin, ''I'm just happy to excavate any form of magic I can. See its roots, ends, and maybe cut it down to build it anew.''

''Son,'' Draco's eyes snap to Lucius, ''I owe you an apology. You'd need a miracle to have better grades than her.''


Miracles come in all shapes and forms.

Some, magic twists into cores for wands to use.

Some, horrible people cram into mundane items like worn, leather-bound journals.


When Hermione sees Millie at the train station she flings herself at her harder and faster than any bludgeon could. Wraps her arms around her and laughs into the crook of her neck. Millie's cat meows and rubs against Hermione's leg.

Dr. Granger and Dr. Granger are immediately waved over by Hermione who points at some of her friends and says. ''Hey, mum, dad! These are Daphne, Pansy, and Tracey.'' Millicent Bulstrode needs no introduction because she is Millicent Bulstrode; the Slytherin who singlehandedly made Hermione Granger not burn Hogwarts to the ground.

When introductions are over Hermione can gloat about her family not being death and pestilence come to dance upon pureblood crops. They find a compartment that soon fills with Slytherin boys.

Pansy looks at the hand she used to shake hands with muggles and whispers. ''What the fuck…what the fuck…'' Draco makes an inquiring sound, but none of the girls fill him in.

Daphne and Tracey are not as affected by the meeting. ''They're so…ordinary.'' The pureblood aristocrat comments.

Blaise then asks. ''What's happened?''

Theodore Nott shrugs, but tunes his ears to hear every whisper.

''They're my parents, what did you expect?'' Hermione ignores the boys.

''Not…people like them…'' Pansy rasps out.

Hermione crosses her arms and scrunches up her face. ''Well, that's them. Thanks for being civil.''

''They're so… average looking.'' Tracey Davis speaks under her breath.

''I thought they were going to be…more destructive.''

''Why in the world-''

''Like you, Hermione.'' Millicent elaborates further. ''You're not subtle and we expected someone like you.''

''You lot are horrible people.''


The sorting ceremony isn't at all exciting. Slytherin gets some kids. Other houses get more kids. Hermione sees a pitcher full of pumpkin juice and gags.

HARRY POTTER AND THAT ONE WEASLEY HE HANGS OUT WITH DON'T END UP EXPELLED FOR UNDERAGE DRIVING AND ENDANGERING THE WIZARDING STATUE OF SECRECY BUT NO BIG DEAL EVERYTHING IS FINE. ALL IS WELL.

Hermione breaks a quill in half while she's taking notes for the first day of class –before the first day of class even starts. Pansy is in awe. She mouths profanities at Hermione, careful not to offend the witch her whole scholastic existence relies on.

''IT'S NOT FAIR!'' Hermione yells at the dinner table, her books and notes sprawled in front of her.

''We know.'' Gemma Farley, Slytherin prefect and not used to Hermione's antics yet, says aloud. ''Nothing is fair.'' She tosses her black bangs out of her eyes and rolls her eyes. ''Get used to it.''

The common room greets them to a new password. And a serious, sneering Snape. He makes sure to incite the fear of God into the first years (like he had done the previous year to them – thinks Hermione) while also managing to terrify the older students into productivity.

''Last year was a catastrophe.''

''Dumbledostrophe.''

Snape doesn't outright agree, but he doesn't give the student that murmured that detention. Sending some mixed signals there, Professor Snape.

The girls come to their dorm and it feels safe somehow. Like nothing can happen to them here.

The first thing everyone does is uncurl their legs and just enjoy the fact that they can take off their skirts. Millicent takes off her bra and flings it across the room. She comments on her thighs rubbing each other under that skirt. ''It's horrible.''

''It's cause you're round.'' Pansy – like some dumb matchstick – points out.

''Obviously.'' Millie says, not at all deterred.

''Eh,'' Tracey interweaves herself into the conversation, ''you're good, Millie. Besides there's a spell for thigh chafing.''

''Seriously?'' Hermione Granger asks and leans closer.

''Of course.'' Tracey nods. ''You just need to enchant some sort of salve that you rub against your thighs first. With the spell. Or you can directly enchant your thighs. It's the ladies' choice.''

''I could monetize this.'' Hermione Granger says. ''It would help so many muggle women.'' Claps her hands and decides this is it. Her new enterprise.

''Ten percent,'' Tracey deadpans.

''You're getting five.'' Hermione says in a no-negotiating-allowed voice.

''Fair enough.''


''Any one of you girls know how to knit?''

''I do,'' Daphne Greengrass comes forth like a champion showered in riches and fame as she gestures Hermione. ''Do you want me to teach you? It's quite relaxing and a much better time killer than killing your happiness with tests.''

''This is soothing,'' says Hermione Granger with parchment rolls longer than herself rolled out on the floor, a dripping feather smearing her dark robes.


GILDEROY LOCKHART is the greatest teacher in all of existence! He's so smooth and suave and just – Hermione and other girls sigh dreamily – the best.

She scores 100 on his personalised test that is not at all a desperate cry for a wider fan base to adore him.

Tracey breaks from his spell there. ''He's an idiot.''

Hermione holds one of his books to her chest in horror at the proclamation.

''Hermione, he's a tool.'' Pansy then says.

''Who gives out a test that has only questions about himself?'' Gemma Farley asks, because apparently every year has the same reading.

One of the Slytherin fifth years screams in agony. ''How is this man supposed to prepare me for my OWLs!?''

''You're all jealous!'' Hermione shouts and stomps up to her dorm, leaving in her wake a gaggle of Slytherins all betting when she's going to wake up from her delusion and how hard it's going to hit her.

50% think Hermione will come to her senses before winter holiday.

18% think Hermione will come to her senses after winter holiday.

20% think Hermione will never admit to coming to her senses and will be like this the entire year.

And the rest are undecided.

They say Snape voted for the third option.


School life Hermione breezes through. She aces the tests, takes notes for every subject (yes, even History), and nothing can slow her down. Draco comes second every time. She tells him he should have studied more. Should have broadcasted himself more in class.

''I'm not a court jester to amuse the teachers.''

''Listen,'' Hermione slips her bag over her shoulder and deadpans, ''you can do whatever you like. I'm just telling you that the quiet are eaten alive. Nobody hears your cries for attention, Malfoy. Make the teachers notice you''

Draco's eyes go wide at that statement. ''I worry about you, Granger.''


Hermione's birthday is, for the first time, filled with friends. It's not just children who are invited and forced to come by their parents because the Grangers are influential people in the PTA. Pansy and Daphne have organised a surprise feast in her honour.

''I'm surprised Millie hasn't done this.'' Hermione laughs and her voice is warm chocolate melting in one's mouth. ''Thanks.'' Her hands fly to the cake like a hurricane rattling everything around you and you've only got one minute to choose whether or not you want to save a sentimental book or, like, a bag of money. In Hermione's case she's just going for her birthday cake, no need for any moral dilemmas.

''I have zero knowledge in cake quality.'' Pansy warns, but she's already cut up pieces to hand out. ''Though, I know that you can't go wrong with chocolate.''

''All of us,'' Tracey gestures herself first and then the Slytherin roommates, ''got you something that we think you're going to like.'' They hand her a grimoire with potions recipes that are far too complex for a second year to be handling and spells too peculiar not to test out immediately. Hermione grips the book with steel fingers and inhales the scent of ancient parchment.

''How?'' Is all Hermione spits out.

''Not going to sugar coat it,'' Pansy breezes through niceties like a pro and tells it like it is, ''My part of the gift comes from a book my great-grandma found dear to her heart. She gave it to me and told me not to give it to enemy hands. You're not my enemy, Hermione.''

''Everyone's great-something contributed to your present.'' Millicent coughs discreetly.

Hermione closes the book of assorted papers and deadpans at her friends. She crosses her legs like a disapproving grandma and waits.

''I think Malfoy's literally going to give you a magical item that used to be able to make people blind just by looking at it, but I'm not sure.'' Daphne steers the conversation into a direction away from their problems, but Hermione Granger wills it back to the previous topic.

''You're using me as your patsy?'' She whispers. ''What if the ministry comes here and searches our rooms and find this?'' When she taps the book it rattles like a snake. (Oh sweet Merlin it's even making ominous, evil sounds)

''First,'' Daphne points at Hermione, ''it's illegal to search rooms in Hogwarts unless you're the head of House. Snape will be conducting the search and he'll be cautious about doing anything to breach a lady's privacy.''

Well – thinks Hermione –at least there's the 19th century mood of being afraid of whatever lies in a woman's boudoir.

''Two.'' Pansy eats a piece of cake and puts a new one on her plate. ''You're muggleborn. They never check the muggleborn.''

''Three.'' Millicent places a hand on Hermione's shoulder and hands her a plate with the biggest piece on it. ''Do you think we'd let one of us get prosecuted by the Ministry?''

''You're all horrible.''

''You love us, Granger. Shut up and eat your cake.'' Pansy is always full of love.

(''Pansy, why didn't you invite me to your birthday party? Why are you giving me a present now?'' ''My mother hates muggleborns and I said I would be smuggling these spells and potions into Gryffindor tower for a Gryff to get in trouble.'' ''oh.'' ''Yeah.'')

Hermione eats three pieces of cake and hates herself for it later, but it's the greatest thing she's done in a while and FUCK YOU DENTAL HEALTH SHE'S THIRTEEN YEARS OLD TODAY!


Draco does actually try to give her some sort of item, but Hermione cartwheels out of that fiasco. ''I only accept a hundred galleons as payment for our continued working relationship.''

''Granger, it's not cursed. My mother picked it out.'' His eyes twitch involuntarily as he pushes the gift into Hermione's small hands.

She looks it over and realises it's a book. Gee, another book. Hermione isn't complaining. She tears into the wrapping until her eyes are face to face with the title. And it's not cursed at all. Just about etiquette and wizarding customs.

''Your mother's pretty direct for a Slytherin.''

''She likes you.'' Draco whispers, confused. The poor lad.

The book opens to reveal nothing but horrible, twisting, agonising spells that if ever thrown at someone in public would surely give you the dementor's kiss. A few pages later there's a segment depicting rules of proper conduct at a ball for girls.

''Your mother is really cunning, did you know that?''

''Yes. I love her very much for that.''


Theodore, Blaise, Vincent, and Greg get her sweets.

''Sweets from a sweet boy,'' says Blaise and when Theo coughs he amends, ''and three bull-headed twats.'' Then he winks. At. Her.

Hermione shriek-laughs the entire climb up the stairs.

At the mere idea she would ever fancy anyone that isn't Gilderoy Lockhart.


Pansy and she pass by Ravenclaw tower one night to go study Astronomy together, Daphne and Millicent a few minutes behind. Tracey is too busy trying out for Quidditch with Draco.

They come across the entrance to the tower and Hermione thinks how different her life would have been had she ended up there; had she listened to the Hat that urged her out of Slytherin.

Loony Lovegood – or so Hermione's heard her being called – tiptoes to the door and knocks. Bare feet in October on frighteningly cold, Scotland stones are not a good sight to behold.

Pansy points and laughs. ''Look at that silly first year!'' She shouts into the world wickedly. ''Hey, hey,'' and doesn't know when to stop, ''what's your name, firstie? Did you decide to get ill to skip out on class?'' Hermione knows Pansy to be a girl that doesn't want to stop even while she's kicking an enemy that's down.

''My shoes ran away, you see.'' Lovegood turns to the two of them and airily says. ''I had them on this morning, but as I took a nap outside I found them missing. Quite strange.''

''You sure nobody's stolen them?'' Hermione deadpans. Lovegood doesn't answer; she isn't sure. This ignites a spark of pity in Hermione. ''Get some shoes and come hang with us, Lovegood.''

''Luna is my name.'' Luna says with a smile that stabs Hermione in the heart and makes her need to protect people in her inner circle turn into a forest fire, ''I'll be happy to join you.'' Then she enters the Ravenclaw tower after answering the innocuous riddle of the day.

Pansy looks at Hermione with curiosity waltzing in her eyes. ''What's with you?''

''People are mean.'' Is all Hermione tells Pansy. ''I don't like mean people.''

''Fine, adopt the firstie - but she's too odd for me.''

As they wait for Luna to come back out Millie and Daphne meet up with them and are filled in. Millie thinks this will be a pleasant change while Daphne rues the day she left Hermione unattended.

''The minute we leave you you're out adopting first years we didn't agree upon.''

''This is a trial run.'' Hermione assures them. ''She's a Ravenclaw, it's not like I invited a Gryffindor to hang.''

''I'd rather watch a Gryffindor hang.'' Pansy sticks her tongue out. ''Than concern myself with a downtrodden Ravenclaw.''

''Next time adopt a Puff.'' Millicent offers as advice. ''They're always good company.''

''I'll do as I please.'' Hermione says in the end. ''Like a cat.'' Millicent and Hermione high-five.

("High-five, Millie!" "What's that? How do I do that?" "...everYBODY LISTEN UP! I'm going to teach you what a high-five is! Forget your muggle studies, this is real education that won't have muggles run you off with pitchforks!")

Luna and co. arrive at their destination quickly enough. They drop their bags and take out books. Millie and Daphne adjust the telescope at just the perfect angle while Pansy pretends to like Luna's company. Hermione shows Luna some things the girl doesn't understand. They all chat about things that don't hold weight. That kind of talk is dorm talk, Hermione's learnt. Luna can't be trusted yet.

Pansy - Hermione's noticed - isn't the type to let people into her life without a thorough investigation. Only when they're deemed a threat to others and not her does she break her giant wall.

''So,'' Daphne starts a conversation because she always does, ''Luna, your family owns that satire paper?''

Luna nods. ''Yes, it's called the Quibbler.''

''Thought that was a magazine for weird conspiracy theories about nonexistent creatures?'' Millie wonders, ''I was surprised by your recent segment on Nargles and how they can sense dark magical artefacts...''

Pansy snorts. ''Was that around the time of the summer raids?'' She fiddles with the telescope and charts some stars onto her parchment. No outing with Hermione is just an outing. They're here to learn, people, not just talk about society!

''Yes, it was.'' Luna says. ''I understand that what the Ministry thinks it's doing is noble, but the way it's conducting itself is terrifying. They're too contradicting. Passing laws to legalize spells merely to outlaw them a few years later.''

Hermione listens intently to everything Luna says, especially when Daphne interjects with some points on how their world is being overtaken with politicians who only ever act in fear and malice. Millie nods at that and parrots her mother's opinion on the matter. Like all of the girls do.

''Ladies, please.'' Hermione murmurs. ''I thought we came out here to look at stars. It's a rare, cloudless night in Scotland.''

''I can't see.'' Pansy mutters and grabs Hermione's robe to get her to help her. Hermione rolls her eyes and obliges. She methodically turns the wheel of the telescope and tells her she should try now.

Daphne giggles. ''I wouldn't have the guts to be so directly against the Prophet as you are, Luna.''

''In the wake of injustice being direct about the problems that are glorified by the people in charge is the only way for change to happen.'' Luna's voice captivates Hermione and the girls into listening attentively. ''You can be sneaky and try to change things from the inside, but it's a much slower process. The people need to know it's wrong for it to take.'' She crosses her legs and dangles them from the astronomy tower.

The wind sings its melody and the Slytherins stare at their Ravenclaw compatriot with newfound respect. Pansy raises her open palm and says, ''You're all right, Lovegood. High five.''

Luna raises her open palm in turn and when their hands connect Pansy flinches back at the sudden outburst of light that seeps from the fair girl's palm. On her right palm is a swirling symbol of white and blue that sparks to life.

Pansy's eyes have never been wider - thinks Hermione. Her eyes fall on the ankle Pansy's hidden behind a wall of clothing. Light fights through, a dimmer kind than Luna's.

''Hello, Pansy.'' Luna says and her words go through to Pansy's soul and knock her back. She staggers behind only to be caught by Millicent.

''Well, hello, there gorgeous.'' Pansy runs a hand through her hair and slicks it back. She flicks her gaze up to Millie and whispers the next part, ''I always knew I was going to end up with a platinum blond.''

''BlondE.'' Daphne says and Pansy feels the difference. ''Welcome to our club, Luna.''

''It's not a club.'' Hermione protests. ''It's a study group.''

''We call ourselves the Ladies of Morgana.''

''No, we don't.''

''The Duchesses of Death.'' Daphne amends. When crickets sound she adds. ''We'll put it to a vote.''

''What is your fascination with DEATH, Daphne?'' Hermione pleads, ''Where is this coming from? Talk to someone about this.''

''Death is the only absolute must of life.''

A rap of five comes from the entrance to the astronomy tower. Millie puts Pansy down and opens the door. Tracey climbs up and tells the gang. ''I'm a chaser!" Everyone cheers.

''Tracey, dear, perfect timing! We're trying to figure out a name for us. It's a tie between the Ladies of Morana and the Duchesses of Death.'' Daphne explains.

Hermione fumes like a tea kettle. ''Both of those are horrible!'''

Tracey inclines her head to agree with Hermione. ''Why don't we just call ourselves the Knights of Walpurgis 2.0? It would save us a lot of time.'' Daphne pales. Tracey, like a chaotic being, snickers as she sits next to the aristocratic girl.

''I think we'd need permission from Theo's father as he is the last remaining party of that group.'' Pansy says with a wobble in her voice. ''Though I should warn you I'm not going to call myself that even if you pay me.''

''I think we shouldn't play with fire.'' Millicent 'I have a strong head on my shoulders' Bulstrode tells them. ''This is just a study group.''

Hermione raises her arms to the heavens and says. ''Thank you!''

''If we do turn this study group into an organisation who would be the leader?'' Luna muses aloud, smiling.

Everyone points at Hermione.

She places a hand over her heart and gushes. ''Oh thank you for noticing my potential, ladies. I'm so proud of you.'' Her voice drops its mock-cheer. ''Can someone explain why Daphne looked ill when you mentioned this knight idea?''

''Theo's father was in that. He's the only remaining person - as far as I'm aware of,'' Tracey scoots over to Hermione and begins telling the story, ''that knows You-Know-Who from his schoolboy days. They started a group of influential purebloods and called themselves the Knights of Walpurgis. Teenage boys don't change, Hermione, they're the same in every time period.'

''A few years later they band together and start calling themselves Death Eaters.''

''And they kill a lot of muggleborns. A war breaks out. So many people die.''

''It's fun to note that people used to love the Knights. Called them the brightest society has to offer.''

''That is not fun at all, Luna.''

''Don't contradict my soulmate, oi.'' Pansy waves a fist around jokingly. Tracey makes a face and mouths questions at Daphne who mouths back that she'll explain everything later.

''Are we dating now?'' Luna asks.

Pansy shrugs. "If you like."

Hermione commits to memory the words Knights of Walpurgis. She'll be conducting research on this in her spare time. After she's finished reading her wandless magic guide for the third time.


Vincent and Greg saunter over to Hermione at the end of October and look at each other seriously, considering one another's strengths of speech and persuasion. The universe has given them both an astronomically low roll for those skills.

''Could you help us with our homework, Hermione?'' Both of them exclaim. They twiddle with their thumbs and look for help from no one in particular.

Hermione raises her head from her designated study area, books far too big surrounding her like a fort. ''What's in it for me, gentlemen?'' She asks, a warm smile that can turn scorching hot on her face. One hand is over the wandless magic guide while the other mushes her cheek.

''We'll tail you. You know…like what we do with Draco. We can protect you from nasty blokes that can't keep their mouths shut.'' Greg offers. Vincent nods copiously.

''Tempting.'' Hermione narrows her eyes and taps her lips at the thought, mulling it over gently. ''What would you want from me specifically?''

''To look over our essays and,'' Vincent trails off, ''uh…help us with it?''

''Letters are really hard.'' Greg admits. ''I can't read very well.''

''Sure, why not.''

Vincent and Greg hug her and tell her they're not going to bother her much.

''We know you study a lot and win us House points, Hermione.'' Vincent speaks to her like she's some sort of patron saint of knowledge.

Hermione laughs.


Tomorrow morning Draco can't find his two main accessories for school until his eyes land on Hermione Granger being carried by Greg Goyle while Vincent Crabbe carries her books.

''Granger, I want joint custody!'' He screams after her. ''I have to look intimidating while antagonizing Potter!''

''Talk to my lawyers.'' Hermione offhandedly gestures Pansy Parkinson and Millicent Bulstrode. Pansy cracks her knuckles.


Nothing really interesting happens until, one night, some dumbbell decides to deface the school with blood. It's a horrible font. Minus infinity out of plus infinity. Hermione doesn't approve.

Millicent grabs her wrist tightly and holds her close. ''We need to go back to the dorm.''

Harry Potter is in the middle of the kerfuffle, of course. He stands still, petrified, incapable of moving. His sidekicks ushers him away. Just as her friends try to do the same with her.

''We need to leave.'' Malfoy hurries everyone along. Panic in his deep, fearful eyes.

The chamber of secrets has been opened

Enemies of the heir beware

Hermione doesn't understand what's happened. But she sees the terrified looks on everyone and knows it's not the time to ask. Her hand clasps Millie's. Her heartbeat thumps in a rhythm Hermione's unaccustomed to. She's not felt like this since the primary bullies used to corner her on the playground.

''You need to tell me everything.'' Hermione hoarsely whispers to Millie. The girl nods and pulls her closer. She's a comfort, this girl – thinks Hermione – one I probably don't deserve.

Inside the Slytherin common room Flint speaks first.

''Okay, yeah, fuck.'' It's the most eloquent thing the whole student body can manage at the moment. Good job, spokesman Flint. Hermione notices pale faces that aren't naturally so. She asks Millie to explain, again. Now that they're safe – er.

And she tells her everything. Ranging from the Slytherin monster to the muggleborn purge. Hermione asks a million sub questions and the Slytherin student body answers to the best of their abilities.

''We're not letting you out of our sight.'' Pansy reassures her in the way only Pansy can. It's the equivalent of a mobster telling you they're on your side. Hermione nods, her fresh tears stuck in her eyes' crevices.

''Nothing will happen to you, Hermione.'' Daphne rubs Hermione's shoulder in a sort of sisterly way that Hermione's not used to experiencing. It's quite obvious Daphne's an elder sibling.

''I'm not worried about myself!'' Hermione exclaims. ''I'm worried they'll close the school because of a silly prank!''


Students point fingers. Oh, they absolutely love to ridicule.

At first Hermione tells herself fingers and words don't hurt nearly as much as a wand and a curse, but after two weeks she thinks differently. The worst of it comes after the purebloods, but Hermione is exhausted of the ordeal all the same.

"Salazar Slytherin burdened the school with a monster," Draco Malfoy says to her when she tries rationalizing his actions against her kind. "He hated your kind and preached to others that you steal magic. With the abundance you have, Granger…" in a meek voice he continues, "...sometimes I wonder if that's true."

Hermione glares through him and says in an unnaturally calm tone. "I've wanted to be in Slytherin all of my life, Malfoy. There is not one word that will force me out." It is odd to see a thirteen year old with such prominent rings under her eyes, but Hermione embraces them. "I am powerful because I will myself to work for it." She has spent many a night in the library, pried from the desk only by Filch's angry hand. The only reason why Snape is not on her case is because Mrs. Norris likes Hermione and Millicent. She still hasn't found out what Salazar's monster is.

Draco nods, dejected. "Of course, Granger. I think everyone knows that, but is too scared to admit it."

Silence.

"Thank your mother for that book she lent me."

"Gave you. It was a gift. You can write her yourself."


Gilderoy Lockhart is a genius that this time does not respect! Hermione is in the first lines whenever he talks and she devours his knowledge. This time is no different.

In the wake of chaos Lockhart emerges as a man with a plan. He starts a duelling club with an assistant! Madly, his perfect hands gesture a snort-stifling Snape standing opposite of him.

Lockhart and Snape face off in a completely one sided battle as Snape immediately disarms the man who's single-handedly taken out a vampire cartel with nothing but a garlic clove necklace and his wand.

"Aha!" Gilderoy Lockhart exclaims joyfully, "I meant to do that! Come, children. Who wants to battle their rival in a passionate fight without proper duelling conduct? Potter! Come onto the stage, my superstar, there's someone who wants you dead here, I'm sure."

Snape elects someone he knows will fight fairly. "Malfoy, get up here."

Hermione and the girls watch in utter awe.

"Holy shit this is even better than Quidditch." Tracey whispers into her robe sleeve as she tries not to laugh.

Pansy has a hand sneaked over Luna's the entire time. A look of utter enchantment adorns Pansy's face. Luna smiles and the girl melts.

A Ravenclaw girl says something no girl should ever say about anyone's girlfriend. Pansy drops Luna's hand and in one swift movement she already has her wand pointed at the girl's face.

"Take that back." Pansy seethes as Luna places a calming hand on her shoulder. It doesn't work. "Take that back or I'll hex your face off and replace it with a lizard's."

Luna claims this is the moment she really, fully falls for Pansy. Especially when the Ravenclaw girl calls the bluff out and Pansy transforms her face into a cockroach. ''You're not pretty enough for a lizard!''

''Pansy, we could have taken care of her in private! We'll lose points!'' Hermione grasps her hair and stares in anguish.

Meanwhile~~~

Malfoy attacks Potter with his freshly conjured snake. This doesn't maim him, but it traumatizes him for life because everyone shifts the Heir blame from Slytherins to one(1) parselmouth Harry Potter.

Snape seethes a spell and vanishes the snake. Potter storms out of the arena with a frazzled Weasley in tow. Draco can't believe Potter is more of a Slytherin than he is!

(''GRANGER, YOU DON'T UNDERSTAND! YOU CAN'T POSSIBLY UNDERSTAND! I WAS GOING TO MAKE A SHRINE FOR THE HEIR!'' ''Nobody's stopping you from making one still.'' ''FOR POTTER? NEVER!'')

Gilderoy Lockhart orders everyone out and ends the first and last duelling class to be held in Hogwarts this year. Hermione and the girls continue learning new curses and hexes throughout the year. They find abandoned classrooms and test out their reflexes. This time with Luna there. Can't have Pansy's soulmate feeling left out.

(''I'm going to make sure all of the Ravenclaws know not to pick on you. If they call you weird I'll ruin them! Don't attempt to stop me. When I answer this infernal riddle they're going to rue the day they ever stole your shoes, Luna.'' Pause. ''Don't try to stop me.'' Luna answers the riddle, the doors swing open, and Pansy kisses Luna for the first time.)

''That duelling session was a fiasco! This is why most people opt for homeschooling,'' Tracey says as she flings a hex at Hermione. ''Children who learn at home have a better structured curriculum and they always - well, almost always ace their O.W.L.s.'' Hermione pivots on her heel and barely dodges the quick spellcasting.

''There's always private tutoring, too.'' Millicent dodges a curse from Pansy and springs up a shield for protection. ''My aunt used to be a governess to a lot of Sacred 28.''

''What's that?'' Hermione blinks the sleep from her eyes as she asks. Her hand is in the air to signify a pause. Millie takes back her shield as do the girls put away their wands.

''We're that.'' Daphne Greengrass says and motions for Pansy. ''The 28 most prominent wizarding families in all of Britain. Most of our families date back to the 15th century in the least.''

''Anybody remember those lessons about the family tree?'' Tracey makes a face. ''They were horrible.''

''I hated them.'' Pansy whispers. ''Mother forced me to recite all of my ancestors before bed every night.''

''Oh. Wow.'' Hermione says. ''That's really cool. I don't know shit about my family tree.'' She puts away her wand and tries levitating Pansy's wand from out of her pocket with just her mind and hand. After five minutes the wand shakes, rises a centimetre, and then falls.

''Ugh.''

''You're too old to learn wandless magic.'' Pansy breaks it to her.

''I refuse that.'’


Mrs. Norris is a stone cold killer of mice that snitches on students.

When the monster strikes again she is still stone cold, but in statue form.

Filch grabs Potter by the scruff of his robe and yells into his face rage that's fuelled him all his life. ''YOU DID THIS! YOU!'' He rattles him until Dumbledore settles his hand and tells him Potter is innocent.

On what ground - thinks Hermione - dare you say that?

''I hate people who are blind to facts.'' She says to Millie one night when they're coming back from their classes. Filch waves them over and Millie drags Hermione to the man before Hermione can bolt.

''I think you ought to watch your cat, Miss Bulstrode.'' Filch's voice is sombre and cold and so, so sad. Hermione can't imagine how she'd react if her cat got petrified. Millie says she'll listen to his advice and gives him a bagged lunch she made with the help of elves. Filch keeps a smothered sob from public as he accepts the gift and tells Millie to take care of herself. That this act of kindness won't go unnoticed. Millie drapes a hand over Hermione's shoulder and says it was Hermione's doing. ''She spoke with the elves, sir.''

''Bless you, girls.'' Filch looks at Hermione then, ''Both of you.''

Hermione did speak with the elves, but certainly not about Filch.

(Hermione tosses freshly knitted clothing at a disturbed elf that was not at all prepared for this when they came to clean up the Slytherin Common room. ''BE FREE!'' They screech and only make Hermione gather up more clothes. ''Tell your friends I can hook them up with ear warmers!'' The elf flees with speed unbeknown to any wizard or witch.)


Collin Creevy is the first human victim. To Filch and Hermione and Millie the first victim will always be Mrs. Norris. To the world, however, it is the cute, annoying muggleborn that Hermione, honestly, didn't know even existed.

''Even I heard of the kid.'' Pansy says in disbelief. ''How did you not see him taking photos of everything at least?''

Hermione shrugs. ''I don't know, Pansy, people that aren't teachers or friends just sort of blur together. I can't possibly keep track of everyone in this school. I couldn't even keep it straight when there were only 30 of us in class back in primary.''

''Well, that's inconvenient. How are you going to know who to blackmail if you don't know their name?''

''You're in charge of that, aren't you?''

''Eh, it's not like I have anything better to do. Most people put aside their lives in search of their soulmate and I found mine at age twelve. I'm good with responsibility.''

''Did you write your mother yet?''

''No.''

''You should.''

''I don't want to marry some idiot while I see Luna on the side.'' Pansy hisses. ''I won't do that to her.''


She doesn't go home over the holidays. Not because her parents don't want her home, but because Tracey is staying.

''Why are you staying?'' Hermione asks Tracey at the Grand Hall table during lunch when barely sixteen people remain. Hardly any professor looks at them, they're all too caught up with grading tests and gossiping to notice how ostracized Harry Potter has become. Only Weasley remains by his side.

Hermione reaches into her school bag and tries levitating her parchment roll. It lifts, but it drops with a resounding thud on the floor. Instead of the table. Hermione groans in aggravation and picks it up like a peasant with her bare hands.

''I need to practise Quidditch.'' Tracy lies, and it's a believable lie. Hermione snorts as she begins writing out a to-do list.

  1. Practise wandless magic

''Uh huh.'' Hermione bites into a loaf of bread as she underlines the first point thrice. ''Why are you really staying?''

  1. Convince parents am responsible enough for familiar

''I heard Potter and Weasley are going to try and find what's causing all of this and I want in.'' Tracy admits and Hermione stops writing mid third point. She crosses it out and writes a new third point.

  1. Make sure Tracey doesn't die.

Hermione puts her head in her hands and draws out the sigh. ''You will be the death of me.''

''I finished all of my homework and I'm sure you did, too.'' Tracey nudges Hermione and grins.

''Fine,'' Hermione drawls, ''I'm in.''

Tracey hugs her and Hermione returns the hug, still not used to having friends.

''OI, POTTER!'' Tracey jumps from her seat and scuttles after Potter and Weasley. She turns around and beckons Hermione to follow. Both boys stare in bafflement. Hermione pushes herself from the table and practically stomps to them in quick, decisive steps.

''What do you two snakes want?'' Weasley inquires civilly.

Hermione doesn't dignify him with a response, so in turn she is left with Potter's ignorant behaviour. ''You're blundering dolts and we want to help you figure out what Salazar's monster is.''

Potter knots his brows together and asks. ''Why would we even need your help? Ron and me are doing fine.''

''Ron and I.'' Hermione corrects.

Tracey glares at Hermione. This is her sign to reel it in and not make fun of people. Yes, Hermione thinks, I can do that.

''We think you need our expertise. We are in Slytherin.''

''Exactly why we can't trust you!'' Ron gets in Hermione's face and she flinches back. But her hand flies to her wand and she points it at Ron's abdomen. Potter and Tracey follow suit.

''You can trust us, but you won't. That's fine. I'm here to make sure you don't destroy the school.'' Hermione withdraws her wand and so does everyone else. But hers remains in a tight fist.

''That's touching.'' Potter remarks, hands crossed, green eyes running her over. ''Why would you do that?''

''People are getting petrified. The school might close.'' Hermione gives her answer. ''I can't let that happen.''

''Who knew you cared about people so much, Granger.'' Weasely grumbles. He fiddles with his hand-me-down wand, but has enough common sense not to point it at her.

''I don't, Weasely.''

Tracey – her PR manager – looks down at her feet and shakes her head, but then she flings it back and surges past Potter. ''What secret passage-way are we going to explore, today, gents?''

Potter and Weasley shrug.

''You have a plan, right?'' Hermione asks.

Again, they shrug. This time they look at each other and then at the girls.

''Oh,'' Hermione says in a small voice. ''Oh.'' She repeats for good measure.


The rag-tag team of investigators garbed in both red and green turn every stone that can be turned without consequences. They roam through halls littered with dust and ghosts. Baron tips his head at Tracey and Hermione. Tracey curtsies as Hermione nods. He passes through Weasley just to spite the poor lad. Hermione forces down a gurgle of laughter.

The Gryffindor duo of disaster is actually not that bad. Hermione won't make a habit of being friends with them, but she won't outright make fun of them with Malfoy anymore. Hermione tunes herself out from her surroundings only ever keeping track of where they're going. Slowly the quarto make their way to a hallway that seeps with unease. Hermione, like a pro, doesn't notice that either.

She does, to be fair, notice Filch poking a student statuette with his mop. He turns, scowls, and then says. ''Leave this place, children.''

Professor McGonagall springs into existence then from behind them. She gasps at the sight of another muggleborn taken by the unfeeling, unapologetic monster.

''Who got petrified this time?'' Hermione leans into Tracey personal space and asks. ''Is it anyone we know?''

''Some Justin guy.''

''Nobody important, then.''

Weasley and Potter both turn to look at Hermione in apparent horror. She quirks her eyebrows and dares them to insult her. Nothing comes. Potter clenches his hands in the apparent hero-complex way and whispers that if they were quicker they could have saved Justin.

At the order of Professor McGonagall the group leaves the offended hallway. ''Where to next?'' Tracey asks, a smile ripe on her face. Hermione controls the eye roll threatening to plunge her into a periodic function. Every time Potter opens his mouth, Hermione swears she gets an urge to throttle him.

Potter thinks they should go to the girl's lavatory because he hears voices.

''You're a sick man, Potter.'' Hermione tells him.

As they're nearing the lavatory there are moans that lift from the quiet. Hermione looks at Tracey and mouths. ''What?''

''It's Myrtle.'' Tracey sags. ''Ugh. My parents told me about her. She got killed sometime around the forties. Nowadays she haunts this spare bathroom.''

''I hate ghosts.'' Weasley mentions. ''And spiders.''

''That's so smart of you, Weasley, you know, just broadcast all of your fears into the world for your enemies to hear.''

''Why are you snakes so paranoid?''

Hermione and Tracey scoff. They don't offer anything as explanation. Potter and Weasley are left to wonder how their livers would have been better had they not accepted the girls' help. A kinder existence, that one.


Myrtle moans and bemoans and laments and cries. She whirls her hands about and floods her irreverent tomb. The ghost points at a moist, ruined notebook and gulps down the ectoplasm pouring out of her.

''LET'S PLAY THROW BOOKS THROUGH MYRTLE!'' Myrtle glides through Hermione and she's never felt colder in her life. Hermione grips her stomach and dry heaves. Moans fill the bathroom and Tracey surges to her in a matter of seconds, gripping her shoulder and asking her if she's all right. '

No, Hermione shudders at Myrtle's screams of grief that haven't died down in decades.

''OHHHH!'' Myrtle laments in an acidic tone that could melt through the Slytherin girls if she pleased. ''They don't even ask how I died anymore, no, no. Nobody cares! At least before people were curious and RESPECTFUL!''

''When did you die?'' Hermione inquires and she can barely look up from the flooded floor ruining her shoes. The ceramic tiles look worn – it's as if Myrtle didn't allow magic to be used to renovate the place since her death.

''In the forties.'' Myrtle snaps. Then she crosses her arms and floats down to the ground. She is Hermione's height. ''I was fourteen.'' Next, her eyes spark behind their glasses' rims. ''Would you like to hear how?''

Myrtle's face tears itself in half. She grins widely and lunges inches from Hermione's ashen face.

Tracey tries inserting herself between the ghost and her friend, but Myrtle won't let her.

A derisive snarl comes from the ghost as a response. ''Bugger off, girlie.''

Hermione nods to Tracey. She has this handled.

''I went to the bathroom as any other girl.'' Myrtle speaks and all is hushed. The floods have stopped and the doors have been snapped shut by a power no one dares credit to the dead girl. ''Back then there wasn't a ghost haunting it.'' She rolls her eyes and Hermione croaks out a 'go on'.

Myrtle's grin falters. She adjusts her crooked glasses and continues. ''There was a master and there was its hound. It slithered along these same tiles I flood to keep clean of its magical signature (for my sake not for yours, she wishes to tell them). Picture a starved hound. And an ignorant master unaware of its hound's capabilities….I still like to think of it as an accident.'' Bitterness colours her shrill tone and Hermione stills completely. ''But I know I was an experiment. So to speak,'' An empty laugh, ''I helped its master pave that pesky learning bump.''

''Is it the same now?'' Tracey asks, twin fists by her side.

''Of course not.'' Myrtle admits, ''This time he's learnt to control it.'' She claps. ''Ooh might one of you join me here, I wonder?''

Myrtle's bathroom is close to all of the petrification cases. Hermione licks her cracked lips and begs, pleads, prays. ''Why are you not petrified?''

''That's not what happens.'' Myrtle raises her brows and giggles. She floats to the sinks and makes a show of polishing one with her sleeve. It just goes through the sink.

''Its gaze is deadly. But it cannot kill the dead twice.''

Tracey gulps.

Hermione blankly stares ahead. Thinking.

''Who killed you, Myrtle?'

''Wouldn't you like to know?'' Myrtle is angry and grieving over her death and she then adds to spite both of the girls in green (the same colour he wore). ''Ambitious girls like yourself don't deserve to die and exist in a school full of irreverent children. For.'' She shrugs. ''Ever.''

Hermione flinches. Her hands hugs her arms. ''I'm sorry this happened to you.''

(She was your age when she died)

(She was your age and she had plans and ambitions and she was smart and didn't deserve this)

(She was your age and she is the object of ridicule foreverforeverforeverforeverforever)

(Imagine if it was you)

(Imagine if this happens to you this year because you can't keep your nose out of adventure)

Hermione doesn't even notice Tracey leading her out of the bathroom. Hermione didn't know Myrtle lived here last year. She didn't have a habit of going to the bathroom in between classes.

Oh God.

Hermione gags on spit, steaming, evaporating tears prickling in frenzied eyes.

She didn't know at all.

Couldn't possibly perceive the horror her parents must have felt. She must have felt.

''Take that book out of here.'' Myrtle orders in a very dark tone and Tracey scoops it up on her way out.

And gives it to Harry Potter.

After that Hermione doesn't know what happens to Tom Riddle's Journal.

She just tears from Tracey's grasp and runs to the library to study. To figure out what killed Myrtle and how to stop it because she has to. There's no one else capable of doing it.

Why does it always have to be a minor to save the whole school? This isn't fair.

The wizaridng world is flawed.

''Hermione where are you going?!'' Tracey runs after a leaping Hermione Granger.

''Library!''

''You fucking idiot, oh Merlin. WAIT!''


Harry Potter writes in Tom Riddle's journal. Tom is a friendly chap.

Tracey Davis wants to write in the journal, too. It's not fair for the Gryffindor to be so selfish.

Harry Potter gives it to her and explains that there's a boy trapped inside.

Tracey Davis is a good soul.

The kind Tom Riddle gladly twists.


Fifty books and thirteen days later Hermione's eyes bore holes through ancient parchment that should not be in any unprofessional hands, but there she is. Holding a relic.

It's a snake.

An enormous snake.

A horrendously huge snake.

It's a Basilisk.

And its venom kills nasty types of magic the book won't specify.

Hermione takes out a piece of parchment form her bag and scribbles the Basilisk's weaknesses and its name down before jumping out of the library in the loudest manner she's ever done in her entire life.

The librarian shushes her, but Hermione is too enraptured with this information to care.

A thirteen year old turns a sharp corner and decides to run past Myrtle's bathroom as quickly as her feet will let her. She takes a deep breath and controls the tremors coursing through her body, rapidly falling like lashes. Her skin prickles. Hermione surges.

From the lavatory peers a creature.

Myrtle floods the hallways.

Hermione turns to avert her gaze.

It hisses and it sounds like gurgling from an unfathomable source.

A well long forgotten with moans of the drowned.

Hermione sees the creature in the puddle and –

She sees nothing more.

She stops existing coherently.

I'm dead, thinks Hermione as her body turns to stone, parchment clutched tightly in her hand.

Myrtle's bouts of anger at the creature that killed her fill Hermione's ears.


Hermione wakes and it's almost June.


Harry Potter has beaten Gilderoy Lockhart and the man is unrecognizable. He babbles incomprehensible words and smiles softly at everything.


And she's in the infirmary.


Harry Potter has destroyed Tom Riddle (Hermione commits the name to memory) and killed the Basilisk.


All while she's missed a whole term.


Gryffindor won House Cup.


She hasn't chosen her electives. She hasn't taken her tests and she hasn't lived for the past five months.

Draco Malfoy smirks at her and gestures a giant pile of notes he's taken that she will use to help her. He expects thanks, but it takes Malfoy only thirty seconds of Hermione's silence to sag in disappointment.

''I beat you.'' He brags and riles her up and taunts her and begs for a reaction. ''I have the highest grades in our year.''

''I lost half a year, Malfoy.''

''There's others who lost more.''

''You made me lose a year, didn't you?''

''No?'' Malfoy shakes his head and pushes his books towards her.

She flings her hand toward Malfoy and one book levitates straight into his throat, knocking him back into a bed opposite of her.

He wheezes and coughs and she clenches her hands and grits her teeth and vows revenge.


Harry Potter one ups Lucius Malfoy and she is forever grateful to him for that.


''You think I'm stupid, Malfoy?'' She tells him and with tears in his beautiful eyes he croaks out. ''How could you possibly know?''

Hermione's lips quirk upward. ''I had a hunch.''

Draco pales and he curses under his breath when Hermione says. ''I think I'll enjoy your mother's gift to me.''

''If it's any consolation he planned this before meeting you.'' Draco whispers.


There are ears in Hogwarts that turn to mouths that murmur to Dumbledore.


''Malfoy, if your family tries something like this ever again, I will levitate you down into the lake for you to drown.''

''You can't talk to me like that.''

''Oh?'' Hermione cocks her head and stifles a snort. ''I can't, can I?''

He leaves before she shows him everything she can do. 


Ginny Weasley is a victim, Hermione will later hear. She had Lord Voldemort in her head.

Tracey Davis is a victim, Hermione will later hear and comfort her as she cries and begs Hermione for forgiveness. She had Lord Voldemort in head.

Myrtle Warren is a victim, Hermione already knows. She was killed by Lord Voldemort.

Hermione Granger is a victim, Hermione will later come to terms with. She wishes the Universe would grant her a one-on-one with the leeching scum.

Later, the Universe will whisper and Hermione won't hear.


She chooses all of the electives. Snape tells her no. Hermione goes to the headmaster and he says 'sure' with his twinkling eyes and his pearly smile.

''None of the classes will overlap with each other?'' Hermione makes sure to ask.

''That won't be a problem.'' He says.


Dumbledore makes a move and dubs thirteen-year-old Hermione Granger Harry Potter's guard dog.

He makes her his pawn.

Worried that if he doesn't soon she'll turn against him like Tom had.

Slytherins are fickle people.

They feed off of knowledge, but not for the sake of knowing how and why it exists, but instead how and why it would benefit them.


END YEAR 2

Chapter Text

Welcome to Slytherin

 

Is a set of words that have cost Hermione half a year.

(And will cost her more)

Dr. and Dr. Granger almost refuse to send Hermione back to Hogwarts. She begs them all summer and tells them she's completely caught up and has aced her tests and that without Hogwarts her existence is meaningless. They tell her that grades aren't everything in life.

Hermione rebukes that with a rude snort.

And then Dr. Granger snaps.

''You were gone.'' Her mother clasps both of her hands over Hermione's. ''Don't you understand that you could have died?''

''I SAVED THE SCHOOL!'' Hermione screams over her mother's stifled sob.

''How can you possibly care about that school more than your own life?'' Her father shouts and he shakes the fear rolling off of his shoulders. Because his daughter would do it again had she the chance.

Hermione bites her tongue.

Bites the words that haunt her more than anything.

More than the fact that Draco Malfoy has bested her.

Hogwarts is the only place where I can freely be myself.

This lack of magic constricts her throat like a noose.

(One her parents pull)

''I need to go to Hogwarts.''

Neither doctor tells Hermione she can't go.

They've lost this war.


''Also, I want a cat.''

''No.''

''I am traumatized and in need of a familiar.''

''Fine.''


Millie and Hermione go to Diagon Alley to shop. They greet each other with a hug, but Hermione's tense shoulders and tight frown are all the indication Millie needs. ''What's wrong?'' She asks.

''I had a row with my parents.'' Hermione curls in on herself because she's not the type of child to argue with her parents. This is not her domain of comfort.

''About?'' Millie smiles, underneath her soft exterior hides a rebel. Fighting with her family is nothing to her. Just a regular afternoon. Especially when they don't approve of her friends.

''Hogwarts. They almost pulled me out because it's dangerous.''

''Well,'' Millie agrees, ''they were right.''

''Millicent Bulstrode, how dare you side with my parents over me?'' Hermione's outrage swallows them both.

''They killed the basilisk. It's safe now.'' Millicent allows, always knowledgeable of ways to placate Hermione. ''But it was dangerous and who knows if this year might prove more dangerous.''

''Why?'' Hermione's eyebrows knit suspiciously at her best friend forever and ever and ever.

''Sirius Black has escaped.''

''Who is that? Where from? Why is this important? What has he done?''

''Murderer and Death Eater. Wizarding prison Azkaban. He's raving and probably clinically insane. Betrayed Harry Potter's parents to You-Know-Who.''

''Why are we in Diagon Alley alone?!'' Hermione asks herself and anyone willing to answer. ''Where are the adults!?''

A low whistle sounds a few metres behind them in a crowd of witches and wizards garbed in robes and pointy hats. It is a scowling young man. Hands in pockets. Young adult disinterest colours his features messily. It's odd, unmatchable colours thrown together in haste. He grits his teeth and towers over the thirteen year olds. Hermione glares at him. Waits for the youth to introduce himself first.

''This is my first cousin, Alphonse Bulstrode'' Millicent knows she has to do the honours and so she does. Next she gestures Hermione. ''This is my best friend Hermione Granger. You're escorting both of us. Mum knows I'm with a muggleborn and so you can't do squat.''

''I don't have anything against muggleborns.''

Says Alphonse while in a twenty centimetre distance of Hermione at all times.

Millicent snorts. ''Sure, cuz.''

''We're going to go to a record store on our way back.'' Alphonse says. ''I need some new music.'' His robes are pitch-black, enchanted to swallow all light. When he moves the fabric follows him closely. It isn't a proper robe. Hermione can't see where its creases are and how it's been made. This is what magic can do, Hermione observes and catalogues.

''Auntie doesn't like you listening to that music.'' Millicent prods at her cousin. He wrinkles his nose. ''Didn't she break your gramophone?''

''Oh, certainly.'' His grimace deepens. ''But she didn't break my love for rock and she never will!'' Alphonse raises his fist in the air and curses his mother to Hell and back. ''The day I moved out was the day I began to live.''

''Wow,'' Millicent chuckles into her robe sleeve, ''you moved from Auntie's to our place. That must have been such a great change.''

Alphonse looks at her darkly.

''Stop glowering at me, Al, and start babysitting me properly.'' Millicent adds salt to injury. Like only Slytherins can.

''Even your miserable presence, Millicent, is better than being with that woman.''

Millicent laughs and it's a familiar laugh that she slips with family and friends.

They gather their supplies while Alphonse is spilling his life story to both Hermione and Millie. The two girls don't mind. He's a kind soul, Alphonse. Hermione hands him her bag of books and he gladly accepts it. The more he speaks about his mother's torture the less distanced he is. All until he's leaning on Hermione to lament his woes to her while they're perusing the pet shop.

''Gretchen would only ever let me listen to German and Austrian classical music. She said that it built character.''

''Nothing Italian?'' Hermione would make conversation from time to time. Not at all interested, but willing to continue the conversation with the odd wizard.

''She said they destroyed character and engrained laziness into one's being. Never trust someone from the Mediterranean to be on point, and all that.''

Hermione giggles. Kneazles around her purr mellifluous songs. Millie is trying very hard not to adopt another one. Alphonse is the voice of reason and he has to firmly put his foot down and tell Millie that as the elder cousin she should listen to him. ''You don't need so many kneazles, Millicent.''

''You don't know my life.'' Millie glares at her cousin. But she relents because this is Hermione's Big Day. ''Hermione please pick a cat so we can leave.'' Millie rubs her hands together and whispers hoarsely. ''This is too much cuteness.''

A small calico kitten nuzzles Millie's hand and the girl cries.

Hermione sees that the situation is dire.

Her eyes scan the shop.

Alphonse is petting a white kneazle called Snowball. (Because all white kneazles in English speaking countries are called Snowball)

Cats as far as the eye can see dance in the horizon.

One emerges victorious in Hermione's calculating eyes.

It is an orange cat.

It is a monstrously adorable cat.

''Crookshanks!'' Hermione lifts a cat that meows and the earth shakes in fear at its appearance. ''This is my cat!'' Her hands shake at the weight of it. ''Look at my cat, Millie!''

''He's wonderful.''

''He's a fucking beast is what he is what is wrong with you children.''

Alphonse, Hermione notes, is a gift that keeps on giving.

The girls decide to treat him by helping him pick out the best, loudest vinyl ever. Some heavy metal stint. It's worth to see Alphonse's face-splitting grin.


Hermione hates waiting for trains because it makes her skin prickle with goosebumps whenever the Hogwarts Express arrives in all its unsung-able glory. Her parents bid her farewell and she waves Crookshanks' paw at them.

She finds a compartment with Draco Malfoy in it. He waves her over to sit next to him and Theodore, but Hermione snorts and strides past them. It is unwise to hate a Slytherin in public, but Malfoy deserves it. House rules be damned.

Pansy and Luna arrive as a pair. They hold hands and Pansy has this goofy smile on her face that Hermione can't help but point out. It slides off to be replaced with an embarrassed frown.

''My father says as long as Pansy makes me happy he's happy.'' Luna holds Pansy's hand tighter.

''I told my mother she can go suck on a lemon,'' Pansy says in a dry voice.

''I presume she didn't take that lightly-''

Pansy raises a hand to silence Hermione.

''Next I cursed her out and told her that if she wishes for our scandalous interactions to stay private she should let me date Luna.''

''Rebellious teenagers hold all the power.'' Hermione points out. Next she hauls her cat to show to the girls and enjoy Pansy's beautiful scream of fear.

''WHAT IS THAT THING!?''

''His name is Crookshanks and he is your lord and saviour!'' Hermione waves his paw at the girls and Luna waves back. ''Bow to him!''

''I am not bowing to a cat.'' A small voice that sounds more authoritative than all of the third year girls comes from the compartment door. It is a small girl in plain black robes. Unsorted firstie.

Daphne is behind her and has a sordid look on her face that says it all: Her sanctuary has been invaded by her beloved, annoying sister.

''A first year can't understand what an honour it is to bow to our ugly lord and saviour.'' Daphne speaks over her younger sister and the third years bow in unison.

''Long may he reign.'' Pansy intones and all of the girls hum in agreement. They reach harmonic unison.

Hermione raises Crookshanks to the light. Crookshanks meows. ''Our lord SPEAKS!''

''You're all bloody insane.''

Astoria Greengrass tells Daphne she will be leaving this mad compartment.

''Go hassle Draco,'' Daphne suggests. ''He's near.''

Something evil sparks in the small child's eyes at the mention of the blond's name.

''I will!''


Draco Malfoy makes a horrible mistake that he thinks is the worst thing he will ever do.

(cough cough wait until sixth year cough cough)

He tells Astoria Greengrass she can sit with him and the boys.

''She's Daphne's little sister and probably got lost.'' He replies to Theo's inquisitively quirked eyebrows.

''So,'' Astoria fiddles with her locks like she's been taught by her formidable grandmother and coyly smiles as she says, ''Draco, are you aware we are to be wed when I finish Hogwarts?''

Draco is horribly aware that he has made a mistake by being nice. Never, he vows, never will I let someone I don't know well sit next to me.

Theo bursts into laughter.

''Yeah, Astoria, I know.''

''Good.'' Her hands fold on her lap then pristinely. ''Then I expect you will be courteous to me or I will be writing my mother to speak with yours.''

''Sure, Astoria.''

''I hear you have some inane fascination –'' Draco wonders why all eleven year old pureblood girls sound like their grandmothers '' – with Harry Potter. Now that I am here you will not have time for such nonsense, correct?''

Do they speak like this to impress boys? Draco wonders and nods along to what the wee girl tells him. Is this what their pureblood girl upbringing demands of them?

''Excellent.'' The small child steeples her fingers like businessmen his father works with do.

Why couldn't it have been Pansy? Draco thinks. She would have married me because of my wealth and nothing more. This child has expectations.


As the third years are nearing the castle doors, Pansy lets loose a titbit of gossip she's heard on the way. ''Potter fainted on the train ride. Apparently he saw a dementor.''

''That man is living a whole other life compared to us.'' Millicent mutters. ''Can't he be normal for one year?''

''How do you think You-Know-Who will strike this year? Some spiritual incarnation of him will find a way to haunt Potter.'' Hermione rolls her eyes, adds in a spiteful tone.

''I bet Potter's not going to face You-Know-Who this year.'' Tracey says offhandedly.

They laugh at her for days at her naivety. At the end of the year Tracey hates herself for not making them all bet on it. She'd be richer than Malfoy.


When Hermione steps into Hogwarts she doesn't remember Myrtle, or the Basilisk, or her missing half a year; what she remembers is happiness and magic and freedom.

''This is our year.'' Hermione tells everyone.

She doesn't care about Malfoy's glares towards Potter. The incessant yammering of her housemates doesn't ring in her ears like it has the previous two. This year would be different somehow. The air tingles with magic and as Hermione breathes she feels lighter, calmer.

Oh it is going to be good to be a third year.

Until, of course, Dumbledore introduces the Dementors.

Then it kind of sucks to be at Hogwarts overall.

''What did you say, Hermione?'' Pansy asks with a subdued sneer she's practised to perfection in the mirror. Clasps her hands behind her back, bends a little so their eyes align, and waits for Hermione's profound wisdom. ''Care to repeat yourself?''

''Dumbledostrophe.'' Hermione says.

Sneaky Slytherin Snape sneers. Doesn't deduct points. Glares profusely at Dumbledore.

''WAIT UNTIL MY FATHER HEARS ABOUT THIS!''


''What's the worst thing that could happen to me if I pushed Draco Malfoy at a dementor?''

''I reckon you'll be expelled.''

''What if no one sees me.''

''There's a lot of people in the castle, Hermione.''

''Oh come on. Not even to kill him, just to terrify him a little. Vengeance for last year.''

''I don't think that'll work. Find another way to go about this.''

''Thanks, Daphne. You always give sound advice.''

''You're welcome, Hermione.''


Potter talks to Hermione one day during lunch. It's a harmless conversation – one Draco Malfoy judges but has no tongue to speak his mind – not after what his family has done to Hermione. All of the childish rage for his rival simmers, but doesn't boil.

''Ron and I are gonna go to Hagrid's, wanna join?''

Hermione nods. She asks if it's all right if she invites Millicent and Potter shrugs. With the Boy Who Doesn't Use Many Words it means a yes. Millicent harasses cats on the way there, giving them treats and petting them.

Weasley rolls his eyes at her every interaction. Hermione elbows him when he calls Millicent a crazy cat lady. ''Better than whatever sorry excuse for a wizard you are.'' She tells him in a clipped, freezing tone that leaves no room for arguments.

Millicent is not just a cat lady it appears. Because when they go inside the dilapidated shack that's only supported by magic – Hermione whispers a protego under her breath just in case – the pureblood girl takes to Fang like moth to light.

She's covered completely in saliva by the time Hagrid finishes making them tea. Hermione knows what this is. She sips the warm tea and stares at Potter. This is him showing his trust. If Potter were an animal, taking her to Hagrid would be akin to him baring his neck for Hermione's teeth.

Weasley – she's sure – hasn't a clue of these games. Perhaps even Potter doesn't, but Hermione won't let them in on it. Being overt isn't the Slytherin way.

The words on her inner arm are covered by long sleeves. A jumper. And her robe.

Hagrid doesn't talk much, but that's fine. She smiles when it's appropriate –having learnt that from her friends – tells some anecdotes about home and how her parents were surprised to find out she was a witch – having realised that's the one story that makes people trust her quickly – and doesn't mention last year.

Hermione and Millie leave the boys when curfew nears. On their way to the dungeons Millie lets a single question slip ''Are they your friends?''

''I think they might want me to be theirs.'' Hermione answers carefully.

They enter the common room and see Astoria Greengrass being a right menace. Draco Malfoy takes his broom, grabs Greg and Vincent (not Goyle and Crabbe anymore), and says that he's going to go fly and since first years can't have brooms she should stay here where it's warm.

''I don't even like flying!'' Astoria Greengrass says.

Usually Draco Malfoy has a problem with people who don't like flying (read: Hermione) but this time the admission only makes him sigh in relief.

Tracey grabs her broom and yells out ''OI!''

They stop until she catches up to them and then sprint towards freedom.

''A pureblood is persona non grata in Slytherin.'' Hermione whistles, ''How times have changed.'' Millicent gives her a fond smile.


Hermione has a meeting scheduled with Dumbledore. Over the summer she's read quite a few books regarding time and space. Not only muggle variations and explanations, but wizarding ones, as well. To broaden her arsenal of knowledge one must read profoundly.

This is why she sits properly, like a perfect example of a know-it-all-goody-two-shoes. Hermione eyes the time-turner Dumbledore dangles in front of her (tempts her with it) and waits for the other shoe to drop because she's a Slytherin and her kind doesn't get these things for free. Not when a man called Dumbledore runs the school.

''You must use this to aid Harry Potter in any way you can.''

She cocks her brows at that. Doesn't even need to fake surprise. ''Forgive me, headmaster, but I reckoned I would only use the time-turner for school, not whatever prank Harry wishes to have me help him and Ron with.'' Use their names, Hermione thinks. Dumbledore favours those his favoured favour.

His twinkling eyes glimmer in a Gandalf sort of way. Hermione has never been fond of Gandalf. To her he's always seemed as the harbinger of chaos.

Nothing good will come of this conversation. Anything she chooses will be weighed and consequences will be great.

''As Sirius Black has escaped he will undoubtedly want to harm Harry-''

Hermione tunes out Dumbledore's blathering and begins to draw a pro and con list in her head.

TO SIDE WITH POTTER:

PRO

I can finally get my revenge on Malfoy and Dumbledore will protect me? Might even be able to blame Potter for it.

Elves might begin to like me again because they revere Potter

New exciting things beyond my green comfort zone?

CON

ABSOLUTE MADNESS

BASILISK X 100

DEATH BEFORE GRADUATION

NEVER KNOWING HOW MANY OWLS AND NEWTS I WOULD GET AND IF I WOULD BREAK HOGWARTS' RECORD (Tom Riddle's record is impressive, but Hermione swears to do better)

''I understand, sir.'' Hermione smiles warmly, like a good little girl. She scoops up the time-turner and sells her soul to the twinkly, grandfather-devil.

''You cannot be seen and you mustn't speak of this with anyone.'' Dumbledore warns her and even wags his finger at her. My, what fun.

''Oh,'' Hermione recalls VHS tapes of Doctor Who and realises she holds the power of time in her hands, ''I wouldn't dare, sir.''


In her high of being a Time Lady, Hermione forgets to be covert in the shower. As she's dressing up she sees Tracey Davis staring at her UCOVERED arm.

''Tracey, you useless log, stop staring at me.''

''Can I read them?''

Hermione knows she should refuse, but Tracey looks so small, so guilty still. The muggleborn hands over her arm to the halfblood, both in green, neither quite fitting in.

''Oh Hermione.'' Pity is the reason Hermione has never shown her words to anyone in her house. It's telling of her weakness. And weakness, overt as this one, etched into her skin – cannot be afforded in Slytherin.

Angrily Hermione snatches her arm back to her chest and sneers. ''Had enough time to look, Davis?''

At her cutting tone Tracey jumps back as if slapped. ''Hermione, I didn't mean anything by it. Have you found your soulmate yet?''

''No.'' Hermione answers and dresses herself quickly. Tosses her dirty clothes in a basket for elves to take and clean and strides past good-natured Tracey Davis.

''I won't tell anyone.'' Davis whispers and her voice is timid when compared to her boisterous quidditch-mad nature. Hermione wants nothing more than to disappear.

''I didn't expect you to.'' She chokes out and flees from Davis' sight.


''Why the fuck are you taking Muggle Studies?''

''Honestly?''

''No, Granger, lie to my face, why don't you?''

''I want to laugh at the teacher and the curriculum. It serves as my outlet because I'm taking every class there is and it's good to have a class to unwind mentally.''

Pansy Parkinson, like a smart person, just walks away.


Hermione Granger absolutely adores animals. She has a cat! She's nice to dogs! SHE LOVES TO SEE MAJESTIC ANIMALS ATTACK DRACO MALFOY!

''Woohooo!'' Hermione cheers Buckbeack on during their first Care of Magical Creatures class. Hagrid has become her favourite teacher now. Yes, Hagrid! More dangerous creatures next time, please!

Harry Potter and Ronald Weasley are by her side and somehow she manages to laugh harder than all of the rowdy Gryffindors combined. Millicent elbows her to keep quiet. Rules be damned, Hermione has never been a quiet person, always screaming with magic and knowledge.


Runes are rather fun in a practical kind of way only Hermione values. During lessons she finds Theodore Nott and Padma Patil as her companions in scholastic adventure. Their professor is as dry as the Sahara desert. Important bits of knowledge are passed on, but Hermione knows she won't learn much just by relying on her class. A new study plan begins to map out in her mind as she takes in all of these new possibilities. There's so many books only written in runes! (She mentally prepares to abuse her time-turner to sleep more)


She turns the time-turner and goes to Divination; a class she hopes is just as interesting as Ancient Runes.

Millicent crosses her arms when she notices Hermione Granger appear beside her at Divination. ''Where have you been?''

''Moi? Right here.'' Hermione says and takes out books, drinks her tea all at once, and smiles innocently. It's cold, this tea, just as the look Millie gives her.

''Uh-huh.'' Millicent says. ''You don't know how to lie.''

''I can't tell you where I've been. I swore to Dumbledore.'' Hermione says and then Millicent's curiosity is piqued, but she doesn't probe further. Class commences. An idiot saunters into class as professor.

Hermione likes to think of herself as a tolerant person. Truly, she does. She puts up with Draco Malfoy, tolerates Harry Potter – but Sybil Trelawney she will not!

Throughout class the professor's been nothing but a horrible apparition that should not be allowed to teach! She's predicted seven maimings and one grim all while staring at Hermione with bug-eyes and telling she's got no prospect in this class.

''This class is rubbish!'' Hermione exclaims defiantly. A series of gasps begins from Weasley and ends with the professor herself. Millicent has tea saucers for eyes. Her lips are parted in disbelief. Hermione isn't one to argue with a professor. Let alone insult one's subject. All classes are sacred.

''Just because you don't have the GIFT!'' The professor sticks out her bug eyes and a vein pops at her throat as her face contorts in a grimace. ''Doesn't allow you to speak so harshly about a subject you do not understand, my dear.''

''You've predicted half of this class would die gruesome deaths!''

Like a stupid chicken, Sybil looks as if her feathers have been ruffled. She takes Hermione's tea-cup and looks into it.

''Tell me my fate, oh wise new-age Cassandra!''

By this point Hermione fully understands that she'll be serving detention, but the woman peering carefully into her tea cup infuriates her more than ignorant idiots do.

''You will not love your soulmate, my dear.'' Trelawney lifts her head from the teacup and pity seeps from her tone. ''Neither will they love you.''

Before anyone utters a single gasp riddled with sympathy, Millicent's hand surges for Hermione to pull her back from taking out her wand at a professor. ''Now you're just making things up, professor.'' Hermione says in a voice that will, when bettered, elicit fear. Now it just sounds like an angry child.

''The leaves do not lie, Miss Granger.'' Sybil Trelawney explains and hands her the cup. Hermione refuses to look at it, continuing eye contact with the unsightly woman. ''Your leaves are positioned so that the souls match, but the spirits do not. Therefore there won't be any love between you.''

Hermione lifts her head up high and spits out angrily. ''THIS 'CLASS' IS A MOCKERY TO LOGIC! WASTE AWAY HERE WITH YOUR TEA LEAVES AND YOUR GRIMS! I AM DONE!'' Hermione jumps to her feet, glares profusely at her professor, and just to spite her knocks down a tea-cup. Not unlike a cat.

''Hermione.'' Millicent hisses after her to come back.

''DONE!''

''Did I say something?'' Sybil Trelawney asks airily. In her eyes there is no guilt.

Millicent has the restraint of proper pureblood upbringing that stops her from saying quite a few things to Sybil Trelawney.


''Are you okay?''

Tracey Davis inquires Hermione because the whole year knows what's happened. She tracks her down to the kitchens where Hermione is stuffing herself with chocolates. The house elves leave when Hermione enters and she hates being avoided. It stings. Like back in primary when nobody wanted to sit with her or play with her.

''I'm sad.''

''Soulmates being romantically involved is a muggle phenomenon, y'know?'' Hermione snorts and Tracey continues, more determined. ''All pureblood families know that soulmates can be friends, associates, enemies even! It's got nothing to do with love. Powerful souls attract power.''

''I thought that I had guarantee, Tracey.'' Hermione sounds far more exhausted than anyone her age has the right to.

''What do you mean?''

''I thought that I didn't have to worry about getting married or being loved with this.'' Hermione whispers and shows Tracey her words that don't glow like Pansy's mark when Luna touches it. Tracey has to strain to hear. ''Nobody wanted me back in the muggle world. I was so happy when I figured out that this was a link to my soulmate.'' She caresses the words Welcome to Slytherin and refrains from spilling over-emotional tears. ''Someone mine, Tracey. Set aside by magic for me.''

''Hermione, this doesn't even have to be true! Trelawney is crazy.''

''But what if she is right and this wasn't just a spiteful jab to silence the one student undermining her class?'' Hermione hiccups, willing the tears to stop. ''What if I'm not allowed even this little?''

''Isn't friendship enough for you?'' Tracey asks, a little offended. ''It's enough for me. I don't have any fantastical notions of marriage made of love. I'll marry someone and the most I'll hope for will be friendship. For the children.''

''Children?''

''I hope to have a small quidditch team to train. An heir among them for my pureblood mother to pamper.''

''Date Marcus Flint, then.''

''You know,'' Tracey muses, finger to her lips ''he is an acceptable match, but he likes sex and I don't. It's too messy to do without any purpose.''

Hermione laughs at that and doesn't notice how Tracey isn't joking at all. ''The gain is pleasure, I hear.''

''I can gain pleasure from many things, Hermione. Like flying and cheering up my friends.'' Tracey takes off her right shoe and shows Hermione a small symbol. It's a star with seven points. ''This appeared on the first day of this school year and you know what I did?''

''No, what?'' Hermione rubs the tears away and watches, exhausted by her fit.

''Went to quidditch practise. Went to class. Joked about with my friends, with you. I couldn't care less for this symbol.'' Tracey shrugs. ''I don't like being told what to do, not even by the universe. I will live my life and if our paths cross I'll accept them into my life, but I will never plan around this little symbol.'' She puts on her shoe and grins, crooked.

Hermione stands to her full height, walks to Tracey, and hugs her tight. ''Thank you.'' She whispers.


There are ears in Hogwarts that turn to mouths that murmur to Dumbledore.


Snape calls her to his potion's classroom and this is the first time Hermione will ever be in detention. Thanks only to Millicent, Filch doesn't hate her guts and therefore has tried his best to help her out of trouble.

The squib fails. The hectic head of house harps. ''You are an idiot, Miss Granger.''

Hermione begs to differ, but shan't voice her opinion.

''I am angry, sir.'' Instead she says. ''I am furious.''

Snape sees something in her dark eyes that makes him not throw jabs at her. It is power and magic at its raw, crackling form. He does, however, tell her to clean the cauldrons until her knees hurt and her resolve is gone.

Methodically, because Hermione does not do things in half, she scrubs the cauldrons from potion mishaps. Minutes turn into half an hour and soon two hours pass with Hermione steaming and fuming while stoic Snape stares, tracks her every movement, every brush of magic that slips from her grasp and like an unseen tendril twists around her.

''Miss Granger,'' Snape whispers, ''have you thought about your future?''

It is much too early for this conversation, but Hermione has planned and drafted since finding out she was a witch.

''Muggle politics, sir.''

''You are not going to better the wizarding world?'' This sentence is filled with disdain, said by a condescending bat. ''You would rather stop being a witch –'' never, Hermione thinks with intensity that makes Snape narrow his eyes (later she will know of occlumency and will know every time sharks have been in her mind) ''- this surprises me, Miss Granger.''

''I know a lost cause when I see one, sir.'' Hermione looks straight at her professor and says through sweat and exhaustion. ''Not like you, sir. It's quite obvious you hate teaching, yet you endure.''

He deducts points from his House that night and refuses to ever hold detention with her.

''I have no time for petulant children.'' Snape snidely says and stands to his full height to tower menacingly over the bent child in his care. Her magic, not unlike the Hogwarts squid, twists its unseen tendrils, but the feeling of suffocation they create make Snape dismiss Hermione. ''Get out of my sight.''


''How did it go with, Miss Granger? The paintings have made her out to be a very disrespectful child with a short fuse. I know this not to be the case as she is a darling girl.'' Dumbledore smiles and Snape is much too tired to discern hidden meanings.

''Her magic seeps from her. Dumbledore, she must learn to occlude.''

''Wonderful, you can teach her.''

''I refuse to teach her anything but potions.''

''Who else can teach her, my boy?''

Snape glares.

Dumbledore smiles.

Snape continues to glare.

Dumbledore raises his brows all while maintaining the smile.

Snape lifts his arms up and has half a mind to throw a chair at Dippet's smirking painting as he spits out. ''Fine!''

''That's the attitude I like to see, my boy!''


''Snape took twenty points from Slytherin because I called him out on his bad life-choices.''

''We're a bad influence.'' Pansy says and gestures the pureblood aristocracy mingling around a baffled, deflated Hermione Granger. Millicent is playing with her cat and Crookshanks, but her ears are tuned on the conversation. Daphne and Tracey laze about and eat smuggled sweets. Diets be damned, they have years to worry about their looks.

Pansy takes one bonbon and begins to cluck like a chicken. Millicent chokes on a bonbon that then transforms her eyes to a cat's and back by the time the taste leaves her mouth. Daphne eats two and grins with shark's teeth and eyes as wide as an owl's.

''Ever since I woke up from my petrified state,'' Hermione rasps out while in the privacy of her dorm room, surrounded by friends, ignoring the bonbons, ''I have felt so angry and inadequate. Like I've missed out on so many things.''

Daphne snorts derisively. ''Trust me, all you've missed is Blaise getting punched in the face by Girl Weasley.''

''What?'' Hermione senses a story and wishes to learn.

''Oh yeah.'' Tracey giggles as Pansy laughs raucously. Millicent takes the bonbons and puts them away for later use.

''He antagonized every girl he could last year. I nearly hexed his eyes out.'' Daphne continues. ''Like a proper witch. Not like Weaslette that resorted to muggle tactics. That is not how a girl should act.''

''Yeah, Daph, tell her!''

''Oh for goodness' sake I won't antagonize a barbarian, but I will say my piece.'' The dainty girl huffs. Hermione can't see Daphne doing anything other than socialite duties. It suits her, but it could be that she has been bred for it.

Daphne Greengrass doesn't crunch numbers; she has people to do that for her.

''Daphne, have you thought about marrying?'' Millicent asks her. Her parents have been keenly hinting at her poor physique that isn't proper for a girl looking for marriage. Daphne has no such problems, she could choose whomever.

''Theodore Nott.'' Daphne supplies the name and at Hermione's quirked brows, elaborates. ''He's not interested in girls.''

''But you're a girl.''

''A pureblood girl, Hermione.'' Daphne scoffs and summons a mirror into her hands. ''Besides our families have the least amount of common relatives between each other. I'd be a fool not to exploit that gene pool.''

''Most girls don't think about these sort of things until they're well into their twenties.'' Hermione mumbles, still unsure of her place in the Victorian wizarding world.


Bogarts are tricky creatures. They see into one's soul and figure out their fears, quicker than any skilled legillimens.

Hermione is a child.

They are all children stood in front of an adult incapable of understanding the gravity of a child's fear and trauma.

''Let's start the lesson!'' Remus Lupin smiles broadly and beckons children, each crueller than the last in their ignorant youth, to come forth and bare their fears to everyone. He explains the pronunciation of the spell and the wand movement.

Hermione mechanically practises both until she's satisfied.

None of her friends need her help, everyone is silent.

The teacher calls on Pansy to go first.

''I'd rather not do this in public, professor.'' Pansy says shyly – which is rather uncharacteristic for the take-no-crap flower Hermione knows. Daphne puts a reassuring hand on Pansy who looks miserable, close to tears even.

''Too bad, Miss Parkinson, everyone has to do this way.'' He sees green, having worn red, and doesn't have sympathy.

Potter volunteers to go first. The infamous hero-complex strikes again.

Pansy pulls back with a cheeky grin.

''I can read the Gryffs like an open book.'' She whispers to Hermione who snorts laughter.

''Ah, Mr. Potter, I would rather you not attempt first, who knows what might be your bogart.'' Remus smiles and before Harry can get a single word in, the professor calls up Greg Goyle. ''Mr.Goyle, let's see that Goyle prowess.''

Greg Goyle stands in front of the cabinet. Remus asks him if he's ready. Greg nods, frightened. The Bogart emerges from the cabinet in the shape of dancing essays, screeching at him. ''You call this proper? Really Greg, with all of these mistakes you won't finish this year let alone all seven years of Hogwarts.'' Then they began to laugh and melt into one giant, towering essay. ''Dumb, stupid Greg! Illiterate, illiterate! Has no future! None at all!''

Greg stands as upright as fear allows him and with a quick shout calls out: Riddikulus.

The essay burns and in its fire emerges Hermione Granger in all her annoyed glory. ''Really, Greg?'' she rolls her eyes. ''Ugh. Let me take a look at that essay for you.'' clucks her tongue. ''You don't spell Mandrake like this. Study session tomorrow, don't you dare skip or I will find you and you will be sorry.''

Real Hermione Granger laughs and Greg blushes vermillion.

Millicent claps and yells. ''Good job, Greg!'' The Slytherin third years join in and no amount of Gryffindor taunts will daunt their friend in green.

''But no, seriously.'' Real Hermione says just as Bogart Hermione disappears into the cabinet, ''if you need some help, I'm free tonight.''

Greg gives her a grateful nod. Remus gives Slytherin ten points.

Ronald Weasley almost cries at the sight of a spider. Riddikulus. It gains rollers and makes a fool of itself. Neville gains approving laughs from Hermione. Blaise has a fear he'll turn ugly and when he chants riddikulus the ugly bogart turns handsome. Vincent has a bludgeon that he transforms into a bomb of confetti.

Theodore Nott stands as proud as his name demands. His posture is lax. His wand movement perfect. The bogart transforms into the dead body of a woman – his late mother Hermione will later learn – and before he crumbles at the sight calls out Riddikulus and in her stead his father stands smiling warmly.

Remus awards points and realises that he might not have understood a child's fear as deeply.

Patil and Lavander go next. Hermione tunes out mostly. When Daphne's turn comes she gives her friend her full attention.

Daphne Greegrass casts the riddikulus before the bogart takes complete shape.

''Miss Greegrass, you have impeccable duelling instincts.'' Remus praises, awe-struck by the small pureblood.

''Thank you, professor.''

(Daphne Greengrass always shoots first, be it a verbal demolition or a curse)

Most students, having seen that it's not such a terrifying experience, face their fears. Few remain, among them Tracey Davis, Hermione Granger, and Harry Potter.

''You can do this, Tracey.''

''Yeah, Davis!''

Tracey stands in front of the wardrobe and waits.

Remus asks her if she's ready.

Doesn't waste words, nods, and upon seeing her bogart screams in such rare horror not even war veterans are prepared for.

''Such an uncouth mouth for a lady, don't you agree, Miss Davis?'' A handsome boy with red eyes scrutinizes Tracey like one does prey.

Both gold and silver mutter amongst themselves. Their professor sees the red glint in his eyes and pales, having caught on.

''Did you pass that Transfiguration test I helped you with?'' He grins and it reminds Hermione of danger. ''You were such a curious cat the last time we spoke.'' His wand rises.

Tracey shakes and cannot control the tears that slide down her cheeks. Her heart beats, threatens to jump out of her body and run.

The boy in Slytherin colours glides through the classroom, places a hand on her shoulder, and whispers. ''Don't you know what happens to curious cats, Miss Davis?''

Remus Lupin casts the spell and banishes the bogart. He dismisses the class and asks if Tracey might need some help. Millicent and Daphne both take Tracey by her arms and promise to bring her to the hospital wing.

Tracey cries and shakes and begs to be taken to her room instead. Daphne obliges. Millicent goes to fetch Snape. He's not the most loving of care-takers, but he's all they've got.

''Was that him?'' Hermione asks.

''Tom Marvolo Riddle.'' Tracey says his name. ''You-Know-Who.''

''He's a teenager.''

''Even You-Know-Who went through puberty.'' Snape says from the doorframe, Millicent by his side. All shaken. None capable of understanding and knowing Tracey's plight.

''He didn't have a single spot on his pretty face.'' Daphne says, having latched onto that spec of observation to still her shot nerves. ''Professor, how can someone so handsome turn into a wizard that dies by a baby's hand?''

''Miss Greengrass, looks have nothing to do with magical prowess.'' Snape sneers, but then softens his voice as he addresses Tracey. ''Miss Davis, would you like for me to call your mother?''

Tracey nods her head yes. Snape scoops her into his hold and leads her from the dormitory. He casts a look towards Granger and says. ''Headmaster Dumbledore has asked me to tutor you with occlumency-''

''I want to learn!'' Daphne pips up, not at all ashamed for interrupting a teacher, ''Please, sir.''

''Sir, how can you just offer such a class without thinking more students will want to learn?'' Hermione says and Millicent nods in agreement.

Tracey grasps his robe and Snape looks to her. ''Sir, would learning to tame my mind help me with dealing with my trauma?''

For fuck's sake, Snape thinks and no one hears.

''Fine.''

Millicent ought to be able to restrain Granger, Snape thinks.

He hates playing favourites among his house, but Dumbledore forces his hand.


Hogsmeade isn't all that interesting. It's a village. And it's snowing. Hermione prefers summer and sea and sunny days filled with books to read in the open.

Out of the five girls, Daphne branches off to go with Theodore Nott. They say goodbye to her and she tells them they'll be at the Three Broomsticks.

Millicent and Pansy go into a routine they've had since being toddlers. The taller, thinner girl picks unsuspecting prey and figures them out. Their weaknesses and aspirations and ''His grandmother's a very strict woman, Millie. He's got more issues than I can imagine.''

Millicent nods along and interjects from time to time. ''He's also got a severe case of not having close friends. Oh, so ripe – so absolutely vulnerable.''

''The two vultures are back.'' Tracey whispers and Hermione has this look while she's taking in this uncommon side of Millie.

''Wow.''

''Pansy's my best friend since infanthood.'' Millie elaborates.

Draco Malfoy meanwhile keeps looking to see if Potter is around to make fun of him. Hermione breaks it to him that he's got no permission slip allowing him to go. This dampens his mood slightly, but then like a proud peacock he finds Weasley to harass.

''Anyone else hate Draco Malfoy this year or is just me?''

''Listen, Herm,'' Pansy christens her so and no amount of pleading will get rid of this awful nickname, ''if you hate him so much why don't you just punch him in the face and get it over with?''

''I don't wish to resort to violence.''

''Roughing him up has less chance of getting you expelled~!'' Millicent sings in a bored voice.

And maybe, Hermione thinks, they've got something right.


Parallel to this class Snape unwillingly teaches, Harry Potter learns the patronus charm with Remus Lupin.

''I trust you've read every single book there is about occlumency in the brief span of time between our last conversation and this one?'' Snape cocks a brow up at Hermione Granger.

''Of course.'' Hermione says. Tracey giggles. Millicent, Daphne, and Pansy wait by the side and observe.

''Draco Malfoy will undoubtedly ring my ears off this summer upon learning of this lesson.'' Snape indirectly tries to tell them that what he's doing should not be done, but unfortunately is being done because Dumbledore pulls his leash. At least he hasn't asked him to teach Potter. (just you wait~)

''Professor, we won't tell anyone.'' Pansy already plans on telling Luna. Millicent will brag to Alphonse. Daphne will teach Theodore. The only ones genuinely willing to keep quiet are Hermione Granger and Tracey Davis.

Severus Snape starts the lesson. He explains to them the many applications of occlumency. How it is not something to be used lightly and constantly as it strains the mind. ''There is an addiction, a paranoia that spreads upon dropping your occlumency shields after long usage. Do not live with them up. You're young children – your secrets are subpar at best.''

''Will you be teaching us legilimency, as well?'' Tracey asks and upon reflection hastily adds ''Sir.''

''No, Miss Davis. You aren't at war to need to know who's lying to you.''

''I read that it's easier to learn to occlude if you know how to enter one's mind.'' Hermione says and Snape bitterly mutters about swots.

''Miss Granger, I am here to teach you how to occlude.'' Snape stresses. ''Not make you worse than interrogation-lusty Aurors.''

''As our Head of House, sir, we can trust you that you will not repeat whatever you see in our minds?'' Millicent forces Snape to agree he won't.

''Swear?'' Daphne flutters her lashes.

''If you've done something criminal I shall bring it to the Headmaster.'' Snape says wisely, not quite certain what his charges are hinting at. ''You haven't killed anyone, have you?''

Appalled, Pansy bursts out. ''No!''

Snape nods, convinced that his charges aren't megalomaniacs.

''All right. I'll briefly delve into your minds and you'll have to control your emotions and force me out. Is that understood?''

The five girls agree.

Hermione proves capable of controlling her emotions if it's put in a logical perspective. She builds mazes for Snape to venture into. And hides something fiercely and as protectively as a lioness her cubs. Snape destroys the walls only for new, bolder to spring up.

He leaves from her mind and sees her sweat-ridden, heaving, panting. ''I could have destroyed your defences. You mustn't be too obvious. When someone goes into your mind and notices you are hiding something you've already lost. Keep calm.'' He teaches all of them, but looks at Hermione while he speaks. She nods. ''Make me think you haven't noticed my intrusion while you walk me in circles. Show me childhood memories you find dear. Let me think you're sentimental. Fool the intruder. Don't throw him out if you don't know how.''

Tracey Davis tries and fails to cast him out, to fool him, until she casts her mind completely in shadow. Snape demystifies the memories, but then none of them have tone. He figures out a way to render her defence useless, but then on top of this Davis mixes up voices. From what is obviously her mother comes Pansy Parkinson's voice bragging about how she's terrified a first year Gryffindor.

''Miss Davis, where did you learn this?'' Her recent acquaintance with a certain Slytherin leaves Snape wary of the answer.

''Isn't it the point of occlumency to guard your memories the best you can? You didn't get anything from me.'' Then softens. ''Unless you read lips.''

''Did he?''

''I didn't only learn Transfiguration from him. He tried not to teach me too much mind magic – obviously in fear of me breaking from his hold if I realised what was happening, but he did show me some tricks that would infuriate any legilimens.''

Snape nods. Thinks about his version of Lord Voldemort and realises that great wizards often learn mind magic young.

''This isn't a wise tactic to go about. It was only taught to you to mollify you. If you tried this on someone searching for information they would either drop from your mind and come about another way of extracting information – or in anger would have torn your mind to ribbons.''

''All right.'' Davis nods. ''I'll keep that in mind.''

Millicent Bulstrode is the first to get the hang of occluding. Snape strolls through her mind and keeps meeting cats Millicent has pet over the years. Before he is to find a single memory that isn't related to cats the apparitions meow at him menacingly. Then they attack, few dozen of them that Millie can conjure.

She's the only one that casts him out.

Snape forcefully exits her mind and notices how pale the burly girl is. ''Miss Bulstrode,'' he intones, ''have you any prior experience with occlumency?''

''My cousin Alphonse has taught me a bit, sir.''

''This is an advanced tactic where you train your senses that whatever doesn't belong in your mind – be it an implanted memory or a legilimens – must be destroyed. You have to find something to use as guards to safeguard your memories. For Miss Bulstrode it was cats.''

Hermione laughs. Millicent gives a crooked smile as her friends praise her.

Daphne Greengras throws at him fashion advice while he's jumping through her mind, trying to make sense of the jumbled mess. If he didn't know her, Snape would have thought her a resident of St. Mungo's.

''You're too obvious, much alike Miss Granger.'' Snape instructs. ''It is a good approach, but it brands you as an occlumens.'' Daphne nods, her back straight in the chair while every other girl fell into a heap, ''Being one needs to be a secret. Merlin forbid we go to war again. A mere glimpse would either paint you as deranged or an occlumens.''

''Thank you, sir. What do you suggest I do?'' Daphne is proper, she doesn't pull her attention to the sweat sliding down her face or the way her heart beats quickly and loudly from panic.

''Meditate and clear your mind. Be concise, like your essays.''

Daphne Greengrass abhors writing essays. She barely manages to write the bare minimum, though the content never gives her less than the top grade.

''I'll try, sir.''

Overt Pansy, however, cannot get a hold of it. Snape tries his best to teach her, but emotions keep getting the best of her.

''Miss Parkinson, stop thinking of your girlfriend and focus!''

''Sir, give me some advice!''

''My advice is to focus.''

Pain crosses her contorted face as he tears into her mind as gently as he can, but it's always painful when the other party knows what's coming. Snape is a skilled occlumens, but an ungraceful legillimens. Trotting through people's minds has never been his specialty.

He sees every bit of cacophony Pansy tries to hide from him and fails.

''You need to find your own plan of attack.'' Snape tells her. ''Obviously the way I see occluemncy doesn't work for you. It would be fruitless for us to continue this. You can learn, Miss Parkinson, just not the way I know to teach you.''

At Pansy's withered look, Snape amends. ''I shall recommend you some books to study.''

''I thought this was meant to teach us defence?'' Hermione inquires politely. ''How do you mean 'plan of attack'?''

''Yes, Miss Granger, most people can only ever defend themselves. But some who don't know how to shield themselves attack others.''

''Like Millie?''

''Not quite. Miss Bulstrode's methods have nuance. Something Miss Parkinson obviously lacks.''


Sirius Black attacks Gryffindor tower.

And then because of Harry Die Already Potter they're forced to sleep in the grand hall. Tracey sleeps on her right and on her left snores Pansy Parkinson. Millicent is down the line sleeping close to Daphne and Astoria. Draco is painfully awake, Hermione sees him glaring at where Potter is sleeping. Though, Hermione isn't awake enough to figure out Malfoy courting habits.

''Tracey, I don't blame you for last year.'' Hermione says, because this is a conversation that needs to be had. Her mother's told her many times how necessary conversations get harder and harder to start the more time parties spend avoiding it.

''Thanks. I'm still sorry for getting you petrified indirectly.'' Tracey says and then adds in a low, sour tone. ''He was so kind, Hermione.''

''Tom Marvolo Riddle?''

That name's she's looked into and dissected many times. If she ever sees Riddle she'll tell him his anagram approach to picking dark lord names is - at best - laughable. Theodore's told her his father's told him that that was You-Know-Who's Christian name.

''Tom seemed so nice, Hermione, he was dorky – dorky people aren't meant to be evil –''

''That's what you get when you trust an older boy. Didn't your mother warn you that boys only want your body in order to let loose their giant snakes?'' Hermione makes fun of tragedy and Tracey Davis hits her with her foot. She yelps.

Like Batman that's heard dissent in Gotham Severus Snape appears out of the shadows to shush them. ''Go to sleep, Miss Davis. Stop antagonizing your friends, Miss Granger.''

''Sir, what would you do if I said I would harass them still?'' Hermione is too sleepy to really know whom she's talking back to. It's exhaustion from using the time-turner that seeps through her well kept façade. The amount of homework she has to do isn't reassuring like all those previous times.

She grasps Tracey's face and mushes it with her hands. ''She's ripe for harassment, sir.''

Sleazy Severus Snape snorts snidely ''Go to sleep, you buffoons.''


Draco Malfoy wants to kill innocent animals. It's just the kind of sociopathic thing Hermione Granger expects of him. She tells him this and it is the first time they properly speak during third year.

He looks oddly at her and says. ''Would you not put down a rabid dog?''

Hermione Granger doesn't know. She's read Old Yeller and cried. Rabid dogs aren't provoked, they can't control themselves.

''For someone willing to put rabid dogs down, Malfoy, you sure act as one.''


When Harry Potter and Ron Weasley come to her and try to plead their case, Hermione remembers Dumbledore's words about her obligation to help the prat and doesn't toss either of them aside.

Millicent - as an avid creature fan – decides to tag along their adventure.

''Millie, I must warn you that the last time I went with Harry Potter somewhere I got petrified and Tracey Davis – whose place you're in currently – has been greatly traumatized.'' Looks at Potter with a deadpan, ''While this moron has been awarded and lauded.''

''Merlin, Hermione.'' Millicent says while Potter curses under his breath.

''I'm just saying it how it is.'' Steel that mind of yours. Hermione remembers occlumency and puts up shields subconsciously to keep her mind quiet. It usually buzzes with new information. It always has, but while she walks through Hogwarts her magic flares like thirst from someone saddled in the middle of the ocean.

Crookshanks skids through the halls with a screeching mouse in its grasp. He spits it at Hermione's feet and she sighs. Deeply. ''Good job.''

''That's Scabbers!'' Ron Weasley yells and grabs the terrified rat, bringing it to his chest.


Hermione Jean Granger expects a lot of heinous things from Hogwarts. The previous two years have made it quite clear that it is a death trap first, then a marvellous school to get educated in.

Black angrily yells. Points at Weasley. Points at Scabbers. Points at Pettigrew.

She doesn't - honestly – really, truly expect to face a murderer while pulling Millicent behind her where Ronald already is. Potter is in front her, thankfully (Hero complex) and Hermione has no qualms with using him as a human shield. She's waved Ethics goodbye once she's been sorted into Slytherin. Her own she will protect, but no one else.

Luckily for them Remus Lupin (werewolf extraordinaire and crummy teacher) is there to act as a buffer between Black and them. Hermione tightens the grip on her vine wood wand and forces into her mind a revision of a list she's made. There's quite a few spells on them. Among them the unforgivable if anything unforgivable is to happen.

Hermione recalls Malfoy's words about putting down rabid dogs whilst she looks over mad Black. She has no problem thinking about the bigger picture where she and Millicent are alive. Ron and Potter have some sort of spell put on them that brings them luck. They don't require Hermione's help.

''Millicent and I are leaving.'' Hermione grabs Millicent's hand. Potter looks betrayed. Ronald hisses traitors. Millie has the common sense to leave.

Something burns. Halts her mid step. Stops her from breathing. Her chest is on fire. Like bathing in a shrub of nettle.

Her promise to Dumbledore comes to the forefront of her mind as the time-turner burns her chest. Hermione unclasps it, looks at it, and makes a grimace. The shields stop the buzzing from exploding, but some wisps of noise escape.

''I quit.''

Millicent keeps her eyes trained on Lupin and Black. She wonders what it's like to go to school without Potter's drama.

Hermione hands the time-turner over to Potter and says no to Dumbledore's manipulations. She will not set her life down for Potter's. She will never set down Millie's for someone as insignificant to her as Potter.

''Hermione?'' Potter confusedly asks. He looks like a kicked puppy that's been left outside in the rain. Hermione is a cat person, so this doesn't tug at her heartstrings.

''Nope.'' Determinedly Hermione frees herself and the burning stops. Her condition with Dumbledore was that as long as the time-turner remained in her possession she would be bound to help Potter.

''Screw School. Screw Divination. Screw Schedules.'' The swot, brightest witch of her age, begins to curse, holding onto her wand and Millicent like for dear life. ''Screw you, sir.'' Says she to Remus Lupin, ''Screw this!''

Her eyes glow fiercely as she tugs Millicent towards the exit of the Shack under Womping Willow. They pass by Snape who ushers them and Millie's rib punch stops Hermione from cursing him out, too.

''I am going to live. Fuck Dumbledore.'' Tom Riddle would approve the animosity Hermione Granger feels towards the Headmaster in this very moment. Gryffindors have a tendency to blindly follow people they believe in (they have been fooled into believing) whilst Slytherins look for their gain in the grand scheme of things. Dumbledore has offered Hermione something she should not have. It is beautiful to turn back time and know she is learning more than anyone in the school (more than time constricted Tom Riddle) However, it is not crucial to her life.

Being alive is crucial to her.

Being alive means more to Hermione than any other power, being alive means she can continue to learn. This is what last year has taught her.


''I HAVE DONE MY WAITING! TWELVE YEARS OF IT!''


Slytherins hear the word coward and think: Salvation.

Gryffindors hear the word coward and think: Traitor, Weakling.

Die, Hermione thinks, die for your cause and your mania.

Millicent brandishes her wand and says a spell to pause the Womping Willow.

''Nice one, Millie.''

''Thanks, Herm.''

''That is awful. Never call me that.''

Hands interlocked, Hermione and Millicent run towards the castle and call for help. Dumbledore and Minerva come to their aid because they are near. Hermione explains everything and doesn't mind letting legilimens Albus Dumbledore into her mind. There he sees her memories, her rage towards him, and looks disappointed.

He makes a face he hasn't made since the 1940s. ''Minerva,'' whispers, ''go check on Severus, please.''

She's already on her way to help. Thanks to Snape having more help her Gryffindors don't die. The Dementors don't attack in such a great quantity. Lupin isn't that big of a threat. Not while the Minerva McGonagall is there.

Millicent and Hermione get to their common room before Dumbledore can ask them anything else. It's Millicent that tugs Hermione from the headmaster, knowing that Hermione would tell him her mind.

It is never smart to tell one's mind to those more powerful than you.

Inside the tranquil common room only Astoria and Malfoy reside. He's trying to study while she's bugging him and tugging at him and asking him for his attention.

''Tory,'' Draco tries to get her away, ''why don't you go see what Daphne's doing, yeah?''

And fails.

''I like it here just fine.''

''Oi,'' Hermione, too fed up with children and her recent encounter with murdereous and treacherous beings, snarls, ''Astoria, you're annoying. Leave.''

Draco Malfoy looks at Hermione Granger like one looks at God.

''You can't talk like that to me! I'm a pureblood.''

''And I'm older than you.'' Hermione continues berating the girl. ''You've outstayed your welcome. Go bother your peers.'' Millicent moves from Hermione's side and falls face first on the leather couch to drown out her hard-beating heart.

Hermione grins. ''Perhaps you don't have friends in your year and that's why you're clinging onto us third years like a leech?''

Draco Malfoy wisely doesn't defend Astoria and seeing that she won't find any defence from Hermione, Astoria runs away to her dorm.

Satisfied with her work, Hermione sits next to Malfoy and begins to steady her breathing.

''Thanks.'' Draco Malfoy says.

''I didn't do this for you, Malfoy. I just wanted to sit on the leather couch.'' Then adds. ''Besides, Astoria is annoying.''

''I'm sorry about last year.''

''You've been told to apologise.'' Hermione reads him, doesn't even need legilimency for such a feat to know Malfoy doesn't know how to think by himself.

At least he doesn't lie. ''Yeah.''

''Get up, Malfoy.'' Hermione totters to her feet as he rises graciously, like some sort of elegant dancer.

Millicent raises her head from the comforting, cool leather. ''I suggest you don't resist, Draco.'' And then rests it back again, not minding the confrontation developing in front of her.

''I've thought about throwing you at a dementor.'' Draco pales, stands still. ''Though, Daphne's told me that would get me expelled.'' He calms somewhat. Hermione brandishes her wand and he watches it in terror. ''Then I devised a plan so complex that no one would be able to trace it back to me. Sirius Black would be blamed, but you see, I gave away my time-turner because I do not care to be manipulated.''

''I didn't know you had a time-turner.''

''Few did. You aren't in my inner circle therefore why should you?''

Draco Malfoy scowls at that. ''And Potter is?''

Hermione cocks her head to the side, brings her wand arm to point her vine wood wand at Draco Malfoy's pretty face. ''No. He just tags along for the ride. What would you have me do for my revenge? Your father is untouchable so getting back at him doesn't work. You on the other hand…'' Magic swirls and thickens the anxiety the young aristocrat feels in his chest blooming like a rose. ''…You, Malfoy, are right here. Vulnerable to whatever spell I will place you under.''

Doesn't waver the wand. Doesn't waver eye contact.

His fingers twitch. They don't go for his wand, knowing she's sparred with Daphne and is quicker than him.

''What do you suggest for your punishment?''

''Don't kill me?''

''Too vague, Draco-dear.'' Hermione whispers and has to dutifully control herself from cursing him. Tracey has upped the ante this year. Every time they could, they would continue their spell-casting. Millicent and Daphne have been getting better at silent casting whilst Tracey and Pansy have been working on their speed.

Hermione's been the only one of them to continue her wandless pursuit.

This is why she lifts Draco briefly off of the ground – just to frighten him a bit, and then drops him to his feet. ''I could levitate you off of a cliff. Would you like that? It won't be a big cliff. Just a small one.''

Millicent rudely giggles.

Draco feels easier now that he knows this is for show, his form sags in relief. Hermione glares at Millicent.

''Millie, for fuck's sake.''

''My apologies, Herm.''

Draco lets out a small snicker at Hermione's nickname. ''Herm, germ.''

''Malfoy!'' Hermione shouts and he stands at attention, having remembered his position. She lowers her wand and tells him. ''Keep your eyes open. If you can't keep your hands by your side I'll petrify you.'' Meaning petrificus totalus – Draco thinking of basilisk petrification.

''What are you going to do?'' Weakly he wonders.

Millicent rises into a sitting position and observes keenly. She is there as rational supervision.

''Don't talk. And please be free to fall back. As a nice leather couch is behind you so you cannot say this is torture.''

''Get it on with, Hermione. I want to go to bed and forget I almost witnessed murder.'' Millicent is always going to have the most authority over Hermione. The smartest witch rolls her eyes, turns from Millie to Draco, pulls back her arm like one does an arrow, and then punches Draco Malfoy's lights out.

The tosser falls onto the leather couch. Screams. ''YOU PUNCHED ME!''

And Hermione feels like most of the rage and inadequacy she's felt since waking up in the hospital wing has dissipated.

''I did.''

Hermione giggles.

''Also, we can pretend to be friends, Malfoy.''

''How wonderful.'' Half-heartedly the pureblood aristocrat says as he holds his bloodied nose.


Gryfindors win house cup. Ronald Weasley and Harry Potter are awarded an obscene amount of points for getting into trouble and hunting down murderers.

Hermione scowls. Draco Malfoy's ranting radiates exactly what Hermione keeps thinking.


''You traumatized my little sister.''

''I'm sorry I caused you trouble.''

''Next time make sure you threaten her that if you find out she's told someone you'll hurt her.''

''I didn't expect this.''

''Hermione, she wrote my mother who in turn wrote me that I was not doing my job as a big sister properly. I couldn't care less what you do with her.''

''Thanks, I guess?''

''Though, do know your limits.''

''She's your baby sister, Daph. I'm not going to go out of my way to hurt her.''

''Good, good.''


On the last day of school, Hermione gathers her best friends and asks them to accompany her somewhere private. It is reminiscent of Pansy's walk through the maze. None of the girls say a word, merely accept.

As they're nearing the Forbidden forest Hermione stops when she sees that no one is near.

''I am tired of hiding.''

This piques everyone's interest. Only Tracey can guess what this is about.

Hermione unfurls her sleeve and shows the faint, but beautiful cursive words on her inner arm.

Welcome to Slytherin

''This is why I became a Slytherin. The hat wanted me in Ravenclaw. Then in Gryffindor. But I told it Slytherin.'' Hermione gulps down trepidation that builds in her throat.

Millicent caresses the words in reverence. ''Were you ashamed of this?''

''Not really. I was just scared of what you might think. Your animosity towards me in first year didn't go unnoticed.'' Hermione pokes, having forgiven, but fond of reminding.

Pansy blushes crimson. Luna leans forward to the words and gazes at them deeply. ''When did they appear?''

''I don't recall. My mother thinks I've always had them. Toddler or younger. I did learn to read when I was two.''

''You're an academic monster.'' Pansy whispers in horror.

''Aww, thanks.'' Hermione gushes.

Daphne and Tracey pat Hermione on the back and tell her she'll find her soulamte.

''There's very few cases of living your entire life without finding your soulamte.'' Daphne says this trying to be nice, comes off as completely shattering.

''IT ISN'T EVEN A SURE THING I'LL MEET THEM?!''

''Daphne, you don't say that to someone like Hermione.'' Pansy hisses. Tracey laughs at the sordid look crossing Daphne's features and melding them into something unladylike.

''I apologise.''

''This is horrible! Can I put some sort of ad in the paper?! How do I find this soulamte?''

''It'll happen when it happens.'' Millicent reassures. ''Don't worry. My aunt – the illustrious Gretchen had her words appear while she was young, too.'' While she's away from Hogwarts Hermione can think without her magic meddling. It's got something to do with the ancient castle and those it's favoured. Those who belong to it.

Dumbledore controls it and wishes to have control over her.

The Basilisk beneath the school continues to rot.

Hermione focuses on Millie's soothing voice. ''Her husband, my uncle, had gotten them before auntie was even born. Wizards live long for a reason. Magic doesn't make things neat. Not for anyone.''

''Pff.'' Pansy nuzzles her head to Luna's neck. ''Looks like I won the soulmate lottery.''

''Go away, Pansy, we can't all be happily gay like you.''

The girls laugh at that. And laughing with friends is the greatest gift Hermione has been given. Magic isn't as important as this. These moments are worth every hardship, every stagnation, every dangerous situation Potter causes Hogwarts to endure.

''I don't mind not knowing who my soulmate is if I have you.''

''Oh that's absolutely soppy. Boo, Granger!'' Tracey shouts, her hands to her mouth to magnify the yell.

''Yeah, woman, have some self-respect!'' Pansy yells while Luna smiles comfortingly. The girl doesn't talk much, but she's loyal to her core – which to Hermione means more.

''Really, Hermione, this is just disgraceful.'' Daphne haughtily says.

''Shut up!''

Millicent hugs her. Laughs into the crook of her neck. And for the first time this year, Hermione feels peace.


END YEAR 3

Chapter Text

Welcome to Slytherin

 

Is a set of words that Abraxas Malfoy can't take his grey eyes off of.

Hermione Granger has stopped wearing long sleeves in summer and is taking a lot of good will towards Draco who has bought her a ticket for the Quidditch World Cup to come with him, his family, and some of Hermione's friends.  

Usually, from what she has heard – it's incredibly impolite to stare at a soulmark if it isn't yours or your soulmate's. Hermione can feel the intensity of the older wizard's grey eyes zeroing in on her inner arm. She doesn't cover them, because it isn't her fault to cover herself if someone else can't control himself.

Narcissa notices her discomfort first and asks Abraxas: ''Who do you think will win?''

He tears his eyes away to smile at his daughter-in-law: ''Ireland.''

This is not an admission of a man who loves Ireland's team, nor of a man who is a devout fan of cheering on teams –this is an admission of a man who knows with 100% certainty that Ireland will win and that he only roots for the victors. Otherwise sports would be tedious and bad for his heart, says Abraxas Malfoy.

''Who do you root for?'' Abraxas asks her. He is too interested in Hermione's activities for her to think it's got to do with small talk. She doesn't cover her arm, even though there is a hard and fast urge for her to do so.

Millicent isn't here. Pansy and Luna aren't here. Tracey isn't here because she will never be near Lucius Malfoy without supervision if her mother can help it. Only Daphne and Theodore are with her and Draco. They're not holding hands, but they're rubbing shoulders all whilst trying to snipe at one another's bad fashion sense. Theodore is smiling, Daphne is as well.

''I don't root for anyone.''

''Not even yourself? How positively sad.'' Abraxas Malfoy is a man Hermione will later call tactless, now she just calls him rude.

''I don't root for anyone in quidditch.'' Hermione clarifies.

Abraxas Malfoy snickers. She hates that she's seated near him. Hermione curls her fingers inwardly and grasps her robe. Quidditch players whiz around in unbeknown speed. Draco and Theodore are leaning over the railing and outstretching their hands for a high-five from the players. Lucius and Narcissa are watching with them, whilst also keeping tabs on not seeing any children fall down into the pitch.

''You should join your friends.'' Abraxas ushers her. Hermione doesn't look into his eyes because she has been taught what legilimency feels like. Her tendrils of magic come and go, though with less intensity when compared to her younger self. She shakes her head and says that she can see well from here.

It's nothing fancy, in her opinion. It's just people on brooms flying so fast that they may die if they aren't good at it.

Her absolute indifference for the sport is showing because Abraxas states, more than asks: ''You're more of an academic, aren't you?''

''Yes.'' Hermione shrugs. She won't deny her true nature.

''I find that far more dangerous than quidditch.'' Abraxas whispers, like it's a well-kept secret, his eyes dazzling madly with magic of otherness which she will later find out is fairy genetics passed down from ancestor to descendant.

''How so?'' Hermione keeps her eyes straight ahead. She sees the Bulgarian Seeker diving to catch the Snitch.

''Books are filled with so much information. They're like people. You never know what you could get yourself into. Not to mention it's absolutely tedious to see letters dancing around. They sometimes look like they will strangle you in your sleep.''

''I have never had such a problem with books.'' Hermione says. ''Only people and creepy old wizards.''

Abraxas takes the hint and leans out from Hermione's personal space. He apologizes, but his eyes are marvellously lit and she can feel him testing her limits with his legilimency. She can feel his easygoing nature seeping with abundant curiosity. She can feel – Hermione breathes –she can feel him trying to see something.

The Quidditch World Cup ends with fanfare. Narcissa Malfoy is shouting. Lucius Malfoy is laughing at his wife's hot-blooded behaviour, it reaches his eyes and goes beyond with love. This is the man who has set Tom Riddle loose on a school full of children, Hermione remembers.

Draco is booing because he's been rooting for Bulgaria and their dashing, but undoubtedly unremarkable Seeker. Theodore is cheering because he is rooting for whoever Draco isn't. Daphne glances back to Hermione and sees that she is hurriedly moving away from Abraxas Malfoy and to the rails.

''Lucius, son,'' Abraxas calls out and Hermione tries to ignore his voice that goes high, not unlike a peacock's caw, ''do be a dear and collect my winnings and I'll take the children now.'' There is a world of context in this next sentence: ''Post match festivities are no place for children.'' Then he glances towards Narcissa and she nods to Lucius.

''But, but !'' Draco is whining. ''We're old enough, grandfather!''

Abraxas blinks. ''No, Draco.''

Draco pouts, but he doesn't argue like he would with his father or mother.

Daphne grabs hold of Hermione's hand and whispers: ''Are you okay?''

''Yes.''

Abraxas is engrossed in explaining to Draco how and why they're too young for these festivities. Hermione glances briefly towards this tall and imposing man who wears the most ostentatious of robes. She murmurs: ''Knight.''

''No. That's Theo's father.'' Daphne has impeccable hearing and listening comprehension.

''Then something else.'' Hermione won't say Death Eater because she can sense something eldritch, something arcane in Abraxas Malfoy's movements and words. She has read about many topics, far beyond that of a fourteen year old's scope, and she has learned that magic is everything except fully understandable.

''Have fun, you two!'' Abraxas cheerfully waves both Narcissa and Lucius away.

He walks with a sense of authority that cannot be disputed. Draco grumbles under his breath, but he's undeniably fond of him. Well, maybe he doesn't see it – because he's so used to the presence.

Daphne and Theo and everyone is just so leisure about it, too.

It sets Hermione's nerves aflame with anxiousness. Her heart beats and her teeth grit and when his hand lands on her shoulder she stifles a firghtened noise down into her throat, drowns it in a sea of burning questions that slip past her lips, to hide how weird she feels: ''What was your favourite subject in Hogwarts?''

''Arithmancy.'' Abraxas answers. He's guiding them all down the steps, careful to avoid the people looking oddly at a Malfoy strolling with a muggleborn. First Lucius, now Abraxas – wow, Hermione thinks, what an upgrade.

''Why?'' Hermione remembers Arithmancy and doesn't fancy it nearly as much as she does Ancient Runes. It's just assigning numerical value onto objects and phenomenon. It's not like Divination, but it's a close second and anything to do with making up the Future is a big NO in Hermione's opinion.

''Because it's the only subject where luck has no place. When you use charms you're lucky to remember it in a split second situation. When you use spells in Defence and manoeuvre out of the way people call that lucky thinking. It all gets down to luck. Arithmancy doesn't believe in it. I'm not lucky to have bet on Ireland. I've simply gained enough insights into the game's mechanic to equate the biggest probability of winning lies with Ireland.''

Hermione will wonder about luck and realise that luck can be fabricated with potions. Hermione will wonder about luck and realise that luck can be guided by Arithmancy.

Ireland wins the Quidditch World Cup. Bulgarian's Seeker catches the Snitch.

Once they get to the large tent with a few peafowls scattered across, Abraxas tells everyone that they will be going back to Malfoy Manor. There are groans, loudest of course, coming from Draco.

Abraxas smiles indulgently at the children and he's always so merrily cheerful. It's unnerving. Like Albus Dumbledore's twinkles – but, at least she knows what his motivations are. Abraxas Malfoy's are strange. She curls her hands and uncurls them pointedly trying to keep her heartbeat in a steady rhythm.

He wears short-sleeved robes where Lucius always wears long-sleeved robes. It's to show the world that he is not a Death Eater. It's to show the world that he is not unnerving because of belonging to a group of war criminals. It's to show the world that he is just as unnerving on his own and for people around him never to forget that. How nobody notices is beyond strange.

Her magic flares. Her magic thrums in discontent.

They've surrounded a portkey to Malfoy Manor. Hermione's hand twitches.


 All summer everything has been fine. Pansy and Millie and Tracey have written her and she's written them back.  

 Hermione studies physics and mathematics and art because these are all the things muggles learn that wizards and witches find irrelevant. These are the building blocks to society, to the world, to the functioning of it all. No wonder the magical world is regressed and repressed.

 Dr. and Dr. Granger heave a sigh of relief that their daughter's returned to them for the summer unharmed. Hermione doesn't tell them about murderers and time-travelling shenanigans because she is SMART and knows that her parents CARE about her very much and would do EVERYTHING in their power to keep her safe.

Hermione cares more for her education and the magic that welcomes her comfortingly every time she goes to Hogwarts far more than she does about her parents' discomfort. It's much easier to lie to them and omit.

''How is your friend Millie?''

''Millie's good, thanks.'' Hermione turns pages and only when is shouted at does she leave to have walks and do physical activity. It's difficult for her when she has to study up on both magical and muggle things (Hermione wants to go to University, thank you very much, and for that she needs diplomas for her primary and secondary education because Hogwarts doesn't count)

She hasn't got a time-turner with her anymore to aid her, so her eye-rings deepen and her resolve to study harder solidifies. Though, she does go to sleep – because she hasn't yet found a spell that eliminates that pesky, human need.

Crookshanks meows at her meanly and bites her quills when Hermione refuses to go to sleep, so as to appease the ancient, eldritch god trapped inside her cat's body, Hermione allows herself to go sleep. She dreams of Hogwarts and the touch of its magic whenever she walks through those halls. There is something kind in how it lulls her in; there is something dependant in how Hermione keeps coming back for more, even if there is a high chance of death in the air.

A letter arrives. Millie's owl carries it and has to fight against Crookshanks who wants to pounce on it. ''Bad Crookshanks!'' The cat isn't deterred. Though, really, is any cat ever deterred when told it is being a little trash demon?

It's got many letters attached to the envelope.

She reads Millie's first.

 

Dear Hermione,

I miss you, you loaf of a girl. Things are pretty hectic at home, but they're always hectic so I don't mind. Alphonse lives here with me for good. It's very strange sharing a room with him, but unless he learns to do extension charms by himself my mother won't budge. She is colluding with Aunt Gretchen to drive Alphonse up the wall until he leaves. It's a battle of perseverance over here. How are you?  Say hello to Crookshanks, please!!

Your best friend,

Millicent Bulstrode

Below it is a pawprint of Millie's cat.

 

Hermione reads the next letter in the pile. It comes in fast and succinct lines of Daphne's handwriting. It asks for more magazines. Also, a good natured question about how she is.

Pansy goes off on two pages of what a lovely summer she's having spending time with Luna and her odd father. They hunt for made-up creatures and Pansy sounds happy. Hermione gets asked, in that letter, as well, what she plans to do and how she's handling her life outside of Hogwarts this summer.

Tracey's letter branches off and she writes Hermione: My mother is being unfair. She won't let me go to the Quidditch World Cup unless I memorize my family tree seven generations back. Apparently this is going to be very important. Ugh!!!!!!

Draco's letter sheds more information on that term: Quidditch World Cup. In the letter is a detailed run-down of the event, in case Hermione wants to show her parents that it's a reasonable and very safe event to go to without any chance of drama happening. Only quidditch melodrama allowed. Draco asks her if she would like to attend with his family and a bunch of Slytherins.

Hermione doesn't particularly want to go, but being linked with Malfoy all whilst making his family uncomfortable is something of a tradition at this point – and it is bad to ruin tradition that suits her just fine.

She decides to go to the Quidditch World Cup.                

Which is absurd as she has very little knowledge of Quidditch.


Hermione wonders why she feels nauseous and worried and twitchy. There is something in the air. Something wrong that brews and moves like serpentine slithers of a beast long-forgotten and dead beneath a school full of children.

Abraxas Malfoy offers her a calming draught and says: ''A bit young for panic attacks.''

She takes the drink and breathes and breathes and it's all so shallow, isn't it? When the crux of the matter gets mentioned she guards her mind and guards her magic and it can't be solely because of this man in front of her. ''What are you doing?'' She asks him pointedly.

Draco has dragged everyone off to show them his new quidditch strategy how to beat Potter. Daphne and Theo sigh and as good guests follow their host. Daphne locks eyes with Hermione and nods. She's telling her that Abraxas is all right and she shouldn't fear him –but how, how Hermione has never met anyone like this. Nobody with this type of magic, this lingering feeling of wrongness oozing off of him.

Abraxas motions for her to sit down on a chair he's conjured for her. She does. In her lap she cradles the calming draught and doesn't sip it.


Barty Crouch Jr. fires off the Dark Mark symbol into the world after twelve years of its absence. It decorates the sky in a frightening and dangerous light.


 ''You're quite good at sensing magic.'' Abraxas praises. He drums his fingers against his knee and winks. ''It's sad that you're untrained. Your occlumency shields are tall, but fragile. Has Severus taught you?''

Hermione nods. She still doesn't sip the calming draught, but the offer stands and she is so, so grateful for it.

''Of course.'' He says, elated. ''Wonderful! He was taught by a very strong mage. Not a Black, naturally. The Blacks are the true rulers of the mind arts. I was lucky to grow up in a age with a lot of Blacks. Walburga taught me. She was the best of the best of our generation. If you like I could help you?''

Hermione shakes her head 'no'. She knows that this will lead to debts and debts are the last thing she needs. With a heavy heart she returns the unopened bottle of calming draught and stands, on shaky feet. ''Thank you,'' and it is ill-advised to say Thank You to a fairy, ''but I am fine with this. Unless you would like to explain why I am reacting this way to you-''


People scream as they run away. Spells ricochet off of things. The Quidditch World Cup is filled with pain and casualties as men and women in cloaks and masks attack. The smell of blood lingers in the air. It is charged with spell-fire and rot. It oozes wrong. It oozes right. It oozes the beginnings of a war near their doorstep.


''Who says it's my magic you're reacting to badly – it could be anyone's I've been near before meeting you.'' Abraxas shrugs and grins and Hermione's frustration grows. Though, it's true, that the more time Abraxas spends alone with her the less she is afraid of him.

''Whose is it, then?''

Abraxas smiles. He clasps his hands together and leans back in his chair. ''Tell me, Miss Granger, a girl so powerful like yourself – what does she think of Anagrams?''

''Anagrams?'' Hermione wonders what anagrams have anything to do with her life right now.

''Yes, yes. Anagrams.'' Abraxas leans forward in his chair and his foots starts to tap hard on the floor. It's marble and black and Michelangelo would envy it. ''What do you think of them?''

Hermione furrows her brow and says the first words that come to mind: ''They're really not all that.''

''Oh!'' Abraxas' eyes spark hopefully. His smile widens and threatens to swallow him whole. His hair is platinum blond and glows just as brightly as his unearthly eyes do. ''Tell me more, Hermione Granger?''

Hermione will learn about fairies and their descendants that when they call you by name you feel an urge to obey, but it can be fought off if they do not have your full name.

This is why Hermione blinks at a buzzing in the back of her mind, that claws upward from the back of her neck, all the way to the top of her head. ''Anagrams suck.''

Delightedly, Abraxas claps. He flings his head back and laughs.

It sounds more like a scream of disbelief than a laugh, but Hermione doesn't say anything.

Draco comes back where Hermione is with Daphne and Theo in tow and they see Abraxas wheezing with laughter. Hermione says she has a way with telling jokes that leaves many people speechless. Abraxas laughs even harder at that.

Next, with a few audible cracks – adults are apparating.

Among them is a tired looking man dressed in a blue, long-sleeved robe and with a face that says I Have Just Been Cursed By An Auror And Am Possibly Going To Faint , but Hermione isn't that good at reading people so all she comes up with is: Probably Constipated.

''Dad.'' Theodore runs to him and they hug. The man leans on Theodore and uses his fourteen year old son as a wall to support him.

Daphne inches towards Hermione and whispers: ''Theo's father. Thoros.''

The one that's the last remaining Knight. Not in shining armour, and not on a white horse. He looks in pain and grumpy.

''Abraxas, thank you for taking care of my son. I hope he has been well behaved.''

''Oh bien sur,'' Abraxas speaks in a lilting, melodic voice, ''he's a joy. Comme toi, mon ami.''

Hermione asks Daphne if she knows French.

''Pansy's your girl for that.''

Hermione nods. Guess she's about to learn French.

Thoros Nott greets Draco, Daphne, and then he looks at Hermione for a single moment before asking after her name: ''I don't believe I know you, Miss...''

''Granger.'' Hermione says.

''Like Dagworth-Granger?''

Hermione is reminded of First year and has to snort. ''No, like Hermione Granger. I'm muggleborn.''

There is a brief moment of surprise. Then it's schooled into polite neutrality that radiates an energy of being careful and discreet. ''You must be Theo's housemate.'' He, much alike Lucius, has probably heard all about Hermione's accomplishments and girl gang.

''Thoros,'' Abraxas looks at Hermione and gestures her with his hands, all whilst laughing through the next words, ''she thinks anagrams suck.'

Thoros betrays nothing. He whispers hoarsely: ''They aren't for everybody.''

''What do anagrams have anything to with Hermione?'' Draco asks exactly what Hermione's wondering.

Abraxas laughs. Thoros looks at Hermione keenly. How Hermione would at a problem that looks very complex, but has a solution so simple Hermione refuses to believe it.

''You're the brightest witch of your age?''

Hermione scoffs. Of my age, she thinks, how positively limiting. She is the Brightest Mind Hogwarts has. ''I am, yes,'' Hermione answers.

Thoros nods. He takes Theo and Daphne home.

Hermione is taken home by Narcissa. Lucius looks ready to keel over. He has a limp. If Hermione remembers correctly, the last time she's seen him, he could walk normally.


 Tomorrow, Hermione reads all about the post match festivities which the children are too young to be part of. It's all in the Daily Prophet. She knows, from her extensive reading, that this is the Dark Mark, a symbol of You-Know-Who. Otherwise known as Tom Riddle. She also knows that she is friends with a lot of children whose parents wear long-sleeved robes. A shudder courses through her.


School starts soon.

When she sees Millie at the train station she walks over to her and hugs her hard. Millicent doesn't laugh as heartily as she usually would have. They board the train and find the others, but there is a quiet discontent building – one that is acknowledged by everyone whose parents and friends wore masks and long-sleeved robes the day of the Quidditch World Cup.

''We know what this means, right?'' Tracey is the one bold enough to find words.

Hermione sits next to Millicent in the train compartment. She feels the girl's arm around her, letting her lean on her in comfort.

''What?'' Luna asks, ''That You-Know-Who's back?''

''Yes,'' Pansy exhales a shaky breath, ''exactly that, you tactless beauty.''

Hermione closes her eyes and remembers Abraxas Malfoy's horrifying magic. She wonders why no one has reacted to it, why it's spoken to her. She clenches her teeth and grinds them to dust audibly.

''Where's Daphne?'' Millicent notices.

''With Theo and Astoria.''

''Who,'' they're trying, all of them, to lighten the mood – because with humour one perseveres horror, ''wants to bet that Harry Potter's going to bring another chaotic year to Hogwarts?''

''I bet there's going to be another monster in the Castle.''

‘’Statistically speaking we should all bet that at the end of the school year he's going to be attacked by You-Know-Who.''

''Last year he wasn't.''

''Mark my words, last year was just an outlier and should not be counted.''

''I think we should learn more serious spells this year.'' Hermione says.

''Yeah.'' Pansy agrees, the first of them all to do so. ''We should.''

Hermione looks at her arm and thinks that these words etched into her skin by magic are not the most important thing to figure out, especially not in a time transitioning into war.

 

 

Chapter Text

Welcome to Slytherin

 

Is a set of words that Hermione forgets about often when she’s too busy studying for tests that are far, far away.

Hogwarts welcomes her with open arms and Hermione can’t help but feel that something is keenly familiar about it that sings to her specifically. A chanson of a guide, of a sister, of a mother, of a friend so loyal and understanding that it sets Hermione’s mind ablaze with want and love.

It’s a different sort of world. But Hogwarts is unrelinquishingly there, and undeniably the same. Some would call this blissful ignorance, whilst some would simply describe it as children clinging onto childhood memories right before growing up.

Hermione can see the older students looking at one another knowingly, can see the younger ones playing and whizzing about with fervour. She stands among her friends in the Great Hall just before they’re to take their seats and watch the Sorting commence.

Millicent asks, quite bluntly: ’’Who is that piece of work?’’ Points, even though that’s rude, at a man with an electric-blue eye and half a nose that’s gone. His face is marred with scars. Hermione has no idea, which pisses her off to no end because not-knowing is just as bad as knowing-wrong.

’’Mad Eye Moody.’’ Theodore whispers. He inserts himself into the conversation and it seems that he has taken a new interest to Hermione and her friends’ activities. Daphne smiles peculiarly at him and pats his shoulder, as if to say: You’re dear, but you are unneeded.

’’Who’s that?’’ Hermione asks. She’s grown used to asking and getting answers. That’s the only way a person can grow.

’’The greatest Auror of our time.’’ Daphne explains. Ah, yes, Hermione thinks, no wonder Theodore knows about him. His father the Knight must have gotten into a few scuffles with him over the years.

They sit and Draco drags Theodore away to sit with the boys while Hermione and her friends eat. Millicent is by her side on one end, and on the other end it’s Tracey Davis who is – without going into much detail – going to destroy people in quidditch this year because she’s spent the entire summer reading and conducting experiments about formations.

’’Flint is gone.’’ Tracey Davis knows that a fourteen year old can’t be captain, but she will aid this captain with all of her might. And then when maybe next year or the one after that – she will ascend to her captain throne and end all competition. The pool of competitiveness deepens in her eyes and Hermione eats very slowly and carefully because her magic is intense.

Once everyone is seated Albus Dumbledore tells them a little bit about the Triwizard Tournament – which is just fancy talk for presenting them the Murder Sport of the Year.

Hermione is ready to be against this completely, but then when the schools get introduced her anger at Dumbledore takes a quick backseat in favour of watching Competent Schools show off.

Because

Oh GOD

Hermione is mesmerized. (as is most of Hogwarts’ population, but this isn’t their story)

Because

Because

Because

The boys and girls of Beauxbatons Academy dance in sync, sparks flying and enchanting and mesmerizing. They move with such magical feeling that Hermione wants to respect the art of dance as opposed to her indifferent thought towards it. Each movement is coordinated and carefully placed in a choreography that comes so absolutely natural. Hermione inches from her seat and looks star struck and awed.

Chief among them emerges a revelation, an epiphany – a beautiful eureka moment.

Hermione is too busy watching a blonde girl dancing among them to notice Pansy Parkinson’s frantic looking away and whispering: ’’No, no  - I’ve got a soulmate – none of this thank you. Oi, fuck – cunt – fuck she’s pretty oh wow – not – not as pretty as Luna! Never!’’

The girl’s magic is beautiful, far more than her visage even. Something calls Hermione to watch. It’s unbelievable, incandescent, and lovely.

Hermione does not notice Millicent Bulstrode staring, slack-jawed. Sadly, she doesn’t notice Tracey Davis propping that jaw in place and whispering that she doesn’t understand the joke.

Daphne Greengrass is mouthing spells to check if she’s being cursed under her breath while her eyes are wide and staring. And Hermione – Hermione is floating on a cloud made of weirdness and joy and absolutely unexpected feelings that burn in her stomach like fire-eating butterflies that gnaw on her insides and fight her stomach acid.

This comes to an end, followed by an equally as important but not nearly as mesmerizing showing of Durmstrang. The music is phenomenal and the style of their presentation is simple, but it just lacks something – something potent and revealing of Hermione’s mind and soul.

Draco Malfoy nearly faints from sheer joy: ’’That’s him – That’s Viktor Krum!’’

Hermione remembers watching the Bulgarian Seeker surging downward to grab the Snitch while Abraxas Malfoys pestered her for information and stared at her soulmark. Instinctively she pulls her robe sleeve over it and observes. It is much easier to observe when one has all of their aspects in order.

By the end of their performance most boys, Hermione is sure, have pledged loyalty to Durmstrang solely because of a quidditch player who is – at best – dashing and at worst – completely clueless because he keeps trying to wave at adoring fans shouting his name and then making up his mind halfway into the wave not to wave because his headmaster Igor something is looking pointedly at him that this is not a social cue.

’’He’s like a big dog.’’ Someone says, Hermione can’t differentiate well between the voices as her eyes try to find the source of her strangeness and inadequacy and – and – well!

’’NEXT UP, OUR VERY OWN SCHOOL: HOGWARTS !’’ Dumbledore claps and inspires claps from everyone – but gets interrupted by a frantic and hysteric question that screams.

’’AFTER THIS? AFTER THIS MASTERPIECE OF A PERFORMANS?’’ It’s a Ravenclaw from Flitwick’s choir that shouts: ’’HOW THE HELL DO YOU EXPECT US TO FOLLOW THIS ?!’’

Everyone is staring and Hermione doesn’t understand what the fuss is about until she remembers that the only song and dance Hogwarts knows is outdated and frankly put – hideous, just as Dumbledore’s sense of fashion is.

Flitwick, to give credit where credit is overdue, moves his conductor’s baton and starts what is, in Hermione’s opinion, one of the most humiliating aspects of being a student at Hogwarts.

Hogwarts, Hogwarts, Hoggy Warty Hogwarts,

 

Hermione is burying her head in her hands at the sheer second-hand embarrassment.

 

Teach us something please,

Whether we be old and bald,

Or young with scabby knees,

 

The pretty girls and boys from Beauxbaton can be heard chuckling and hitting each other to stop chuckling because it is very insensitive. The British not only have terrible food, but apparently their magical music is terrible, as well. Which is quite odd as they have Queen.

 

Our heads could do with filling,

With some interesting stuff,

For now they're bare and full of air,

Dead flies and bits of fluff,

 

Viktor Krum has the most bemused smile on as he watches this dumpsterfire of a show that only Dumbledore seems to be getting into by his dance movies which look more like what people who don’t know what disco is dance the disco mixed with the shimmies.

 

So teach us things worth knowing,

Bring back what we've forgot,

Just do your best, we'll do the rest,

And learn until our brains all rot

 

Severus Snape wonders about suicide. It’s apparent by how he lets his face fall from that mask of hatred into even stronger, more ashamed and horrified agony.


The Slytherin Common Room is beautiful and inspires a sense of nostalgia within Hermione. The light seeping from out of the Lake into the room is iridescent and genial. The shadows cast from the glowing fish swirling around bring Hermione peace. Her shoulders sag in relief and she walks up the stairs that lead to the Girl’s Dorms.

Once inside she claims her bed and pushes her pillow closer, so it mushes with her face and she can’t hear anything except the rustling of her own magic and the softness of her bed.

Millicent is petting her cat a lot faster and more anxiously than she usually would. Crookshanks is waiting for his turn patiently, but a cat can be patient for so long before it attacks with claws and hisses.

’’That Welcome Feast – well, it sure was something.’’

Nods from all around.

’’Quite ... illuminating.’’ Millicent whispers hoarsely, feeling as if her voice will die out if she speaks louder.

’’Those dashing Durmstrang students were absolutely divine. I want those fur coats of theirs. It simply isn’t fair for them to have that be part of their uniform whilst I have to be happy with,’’ Daphne sneers, her face scrunched up, ’’black robes.’’

’’Maybe ask one of the girls from Durmstrang what animal it is so you can make your own coat.’’ Tracey suggests. Daphne has been getting more and more into the practical parts of fashion design.

’’I shall.’’ Daphne nods and dresses in her sleep robes before getting into bed to have a proper sleep at Hogwarts. Though, with the ongoing excitement it will be very hard. They can scarcely make out Draco Malfoy screaming from the Common Room: VIKTOR KRUM! IT’S REALLY VIKTOR KRUM! WAIT UNTIL MY FATHER HEARS ABOUT THIS!

Hermione muses that that’s probably the only thing Lucius Malfoy would be happy to hear about in a letter from his son.

Pansy is the one that turns off the lights and says: ’’Good night.’’

But none of them can sleep.

Because they’re all brimming with excitement. With newfound promise for drama. With old drama rearing its ugly head. They start to talking, and as usual – talks started late night only lead to frightening topics.

’’Were any of yours there?’’ Hermione asks, because she feels, more than anything, the urge to know who is on which side. Later she will realise that the only side one can be is their own. Now everything is black and white and splashing into each other, taking colours and smearing themselves in weird blotches of black and white and slivers of silver.

’’Yes.’’ Milicent whispers and Hermione’s insides twist.

’’Oh yeah,’’ Pansy laughs and it’s a cruel laugh that’s aimed at her very own self. It’s a self-deprecating laugh full of anger and confusion.

Daphne and Tracey are silent. That – that sets her mind at ease, at least a little bit. 


’’Hello, Harry.’’ Hermione greets.

He walks past her fast. Doesn’t greet her. Maybe even sprints.

Ah, those in red glow like crimson fire until they’ve burnt themselves out with that anger. He won’t forgive her escape of last year. Hermione narrows her eyes and has no regrets. She will save her and Millie’s lives over and over again. Without a moment’s hesitation.

’’Rejection must suck.’’ Draco jeers. Vincent and Greg are shadowing him, as they do.

Hermione beckons them over and they leave Draco all by himself in the Great Hall. She doesn’t answer him, turns her attention to Vin and Greg and says: ’’Gents, I’ve got a genius study plan for us!’’

They smile at their patron saint of knowledge and because boys grow and quidditch players more so – they take her to carry her out of the Great Hall.

’’Granger, that isn’t fair!’’ Draco stomps his foot on the floor petulantly.

Hermione laughs. Her lungs are full of mirth. Her magic lives and Hogwarts writhes with beautiful joy to have Hermione back. It’s narcissistic to think a whole castle loves her, but Hermione believes Hogwarts loves all of her students. Though, like all who love, she loves some more than others.


Moody is moody and Hermione finds herself being judged intensely by a man who knows nothing about her.

’’Let’s take a look around,’’ his eye swirls and his peg leg taps on the floor with harshness of a man who has gone through war and fired many a curse, ’’who here can tell me what the unforgivable curses are?’’

Gasps litter the classroom. Neville Longbottom whimpers and looks down at his hands pressed tightly against his lap (Millie’s told her about this because these are the type of conversations they have now). Harry Potter glares fiercely forwards and no one comments on his scar. Draco Malfoy shrinks into his seat and remembers that his father is a liar and being a liar is the only reason why he’s grown up with a father.

’’Can anyone tell me? No know-it-alls?’’ This is directed at Hermione, she knows.

Hermione keeps her hand down the entire class and people start to take notice. Because she is wiser and she knows, knows with certainty and intuition and magic – that these questions are nothing more than traps.

For whom?

For children?

For Death Eater sympathisers?

For her?

But why would Moody want to trap her – she wonders.

’’Mr. Potter here has got an abundance of magical luck on his side – perhaps his own soulmate will be able to avoid dying, as well. Tell us, do you know the incantation – how about the wand movement?’’ Moody walks over to Potter and narrows his good eye to scrutinize Harry’s lightning scar. ’’Have you got any idea what it means? The incantation?’’

This class, Hermione knows, is going to be a nightmare.

It’s far worse than a nightmare. From those you can awaken and they leave you.

Hermione does not raise her hand, it hurts her at first – oh god how it hurts not to show her knowledge, but Moody hounds them all to learn and duel and there is no room here for children. It is as if Moody has forgotten they are young. It is as if they have forgotten that change is coming. It is for the worse, and it is near.


People walk past the Goblet of Fire.

Some people try to put their names in even when they’re not allowed. Fred and George Weasley are amusing to watch, but ultimately they’re nothing special.

Viktor Krum puts his in and gets cheered on. He blushes in absolute fear when someone screams out: ’’VIKTOR, LET ME HAVE YOUR CHILDREN!’’

His buddies laugh and they usher him away. Hermione briefly notices him in passing and doesn’t bother to show that she has. He’s nobody important to her.

Fleur Delacour --- what a lovely name --- what a pretty name --- what a NAME!

She puts her name in the Goblet of Fire and that’s when Hermione hears about Veela and their descendants. There’s a part of her that’s relieved, but another part that’s uncomfortable and sad that this is all due to Fleur’s genetics. These feelings of Hermione’s which are new and unfathomable.

Fleur’s friends speak French to Fleur and she speaks it back fluently. Hermione remembers Abraxas Malfoy. She remembers Pansy knowing French and tells the Slytherin: ’’Hey, can you teach me French?’’

To which Pansy replies: ’’Ohohoho,’’ raises and lowers her brows, ’’found yourself a Beauxbatons to snog, have you~?’’

Hermione blushes very, very red. She moves past Millicent who’s just entering the Dorm and bumps their shoulders without meaning to.


This is a world of confusion she stumbles into. Whenever Hermione is confused, though, there is only one place that has the answers.

Pince is surprised: ’’Already? Really, Miss Granger?’’ She sets down her magic romance novel and adds: ‘’Really?!’’

Hermione smiles and goes to find books to dissect because human behaviour eludes her and she will be damned if she doesn’t find out what mages think of her feelings. Those weird and irritating things that cause her nothing but trouble.

She comes and goes from the library as often as is necessary – and even sometimes when it isn’t. Just for the fun of it. For the peace of quiet. For the knowledge she can’t seem to find anywhere but there, buried in a nook of a shelf.

‘’Madame Pince, do you think I could go in the Restricted Section?’’

‘’Have you got a pass?’’

Snape refuses to write her one.

Dumbledore is quiet and immersed in other duties. He is cold like fire that is yet to come.

Hermione smiles and tilts her head and whispers: ‘’Madame Pince, we’ve known each other for a long time, haven’t we?’’

‘’Four years, I reckon.’’ Pince says, nose buried in her magic romance novel. The cover photo is moving, a wizard vampire is blowing a kiss to a frighteningly aroused witch.

Hermione moves closer to the desk of the Librarian and asks: ‘’I’m certain you have something you want? I have access to the muggle world and all of its,’’ she places a finger on the cover of the romance novel pointedly, ‘’materials.’’

Pince’s cheeks flush at the possibilities.

Hermione gets a free pass to go to the Restricted Section.

Things are just so easy once one stops caring for the repercussions, aren’t they?

Though, later, when age catches up to young adolescence, Hermione will learn that repercussions mean a lot. That one can’t just live life without giving them value.

But for now – for now Hermione will be selfish. She will break the rules and she will think only of herself and those closest to her.

The Restricted Section offers her a multitude of options. Books that sneer and hiss and exude smoke from their yellowed pages. Gently, Hermione coaxes information out of them. She has an abundant of patience only for books.

There is a shelf with a book pointedly missing.

It is not subtle.

It is a reminder of a book that changed the world of magical Britain.

Hermione tilts her head and wonders: ‘’What book was here?’’

One cannot take books out of the Restricted Section out of the library. That is why Hermione catches people reading until their eyes fall out, and their fingers bleed from papercuts – knowledge is a must. Exhausted Ravenclaws, Ambitious Slytherins, Spiteful Gryffindors, and Hardworking Hufflepuffs.

And then there is Hermione.

She has three books in her arms that she will read and read and read and read.

They’re books on the history of magical families. Drenched in blood of slain muggles, burned muggleborns (well, the book calls her kind mudbloods so it’s a very old book and one that’s set in its ways), illegitimate halfbloods, and drowned squib children. Creatures intermix with mage blood and there, she finds out interesting information.

There are three families in Magical Britain that have fairy blood (the rarest and most potent magical mix one can imagine)

The Lovegoods are all Seers, just not as potent as their ancestors. They are marked with the power to see a world in a light no one else can see. All of their fairy ancestors come from the Seelie court. 

The Ollivanders are all attuned to sensing magic in Fairy trees who yield their wood to craft into wands. They are marked with the power to meld the fairy world into human tools. Seelie and Unseelie mix in their family tree.

The Malfoys are all descendants of the Unseelie fairies that kidnapped mages and used them until their feet bled and their legs could not dance as well as they had promised. They are marked, or so the book says, with the power over sniffing out power.

Hermione thinks that being part Veela is the least of your troubles. She wonders if she could get Malfoys to be considered dark creatures as Unseelie Court fairies are.

Blood is the most important thing to these people.

Pure blood even more.

How fun – how strange – how absolutely ironic that none of these so called Sacred families have pure mage blood. Fairies and Veela and Vampires and Werewolves hidden away from records, only recently resurfacing due to progressive politics.

In order to be a pureblood your grandparents have to be magic, as do your parents, but what does that even mean?

What about squib lines that keep record of their lineage? If the magic resurfaces are those kids part of that magical family or are they muggleborns? Pardon, Hermione corrects, mudbloods


‘’Malfoy, out of curiosity, what does it mean to have fairy ancestors?’’

‘’Granger – what – how – why – no – that’s  -- listen if you’re trying to blackmail me it won’t work! It won’t!’’

She gets absolutely minimal information from this. Time to ask someone who has a clear head and knows how to answer direct questions directly.

‘’Luna, hey, what does it mean to be related to fairies?’’

‘’Oh, hello Hermione… Fairies? They’re really neat. Good Nargle spotters. I met one once on my first birthday. My mother liked to do experiments with them – never on them, you do not do anything on the fair folk.’’

‘’That’s brilliant, Luna, could I ask your mother some things-‘’

‘’Well when I get a hold of her from beyond the veil, I’ll be sure to tell her your questions.’’ Luna says airily. Hermione feels mortified and emotionally stupid.

She gets nothing except embarrassment from this conversation either.


Her research leads her to find out that Parselmouths are dark creatures as they are not nearly as rich or as forthcoming with magical innovations as the rest of the pure families. The only Parselmouth family in magical Britain is called Gaunt and they – from the books hissing – are all totally unclean, super-duper inbred (though, really, is that something new for purebloods?), and above all - -- something that sets them apart from all of these Sacred Twenty-Eight families: they’re dirt poor.

And the magical world, no matter how much entrenched with their prejudice to muggles and muddy blood, love and relish in money just as much as muggles do.

It’s a reprieve, at the very least. Something that Hermione can cling onto.


‘’Bonneee jouur?’’

‘’No – no – Bonjour.’’

‘’Bonjouera?’’

‘’Hermione, dear Merlin and Morgana – please.’’

Hermione is not good with languages, she learns from Pansy.

Does that stop her? It really should because her accent is horrendous, but Hermione isn’t the type of person to stop when something is hard to overcome. In fact, Hermione hasn’t been challenged in a long time.


Her birthday comes and goes.


The Goblet of Fire has a mind of its own, Harry Potter groans, Albus Dumbledore calmly asks, and Tracey Davis calls it: ‘’This is a You-Know-Who plot if I’ve ever seen one.’’

Nearby is Professor Moody who chokes on a drink and stares at Tracey for a brief moment full of inarticulate thought. It passes and he totters away. Quite odd. But as far as DADA professors go, this is the norm now.

Hermione is studying some more and earning them the least amount of points she has these past few years. Though, whenever called on she does not stumble. Her answers are always perfect.

During History she reads books that have nothing to do with Goblin wars and takes notes furiously fast. Her hair is frizzy and untamed and it gets into her eyes, until at one point it doesn’t and that’s because her own hair is magically floating out of her eyesight. It happens unintentionally, but it sure is nifty. 


‘’What’s that project you’re working on?’’

‘’Yes, are you trying to snag a pureblood by telling him his entire family tree in bed?’’

‘’Trying to figure out if you really ARE related to Dagworth-Granger?’’

‘’Nothing of the sort. I’m just trying to dig up dirt on all of your families if any of them come to shoot at me. You know,’’ whispers like it’s a big embarrassing thing – and really now it is, ‘’you’re all related to Death Eaters.’’

‘’Hermione-‘’

‘’Granger-‘’

’Merlin-‘’


Viktor Krum is, indeed, like a big dog.

One that’s sitting in Hermione’s chair, in Hermione’s library corner.

‘’Explain your presence,’’ Hermione has little time for new things happening in the Library. That’s like her one and only place that doesn’t have the lingering threat of murder in the air.

‘’I am study.’’ Viktor Krum shows Hermione a book. It is a rather good looking book with hard covers and fancy cover art. It looks more like a kind of book you took off of a shelf because you do not know what else to do. It is an ulterior motives book. 

‘’Good on you.’’ Hermione sits in her corner and whispers, because one never shouts in the Library, ‘’If you speak to me while I study I will break your snitch catching fingers.’’

‘’Understanding.’’ Viktor Krum says, and it really sounds like a soldier following orders. Or a dog being told to sit just as it sat.

‘’All right. Have fun.’’ Hermione says. Confused. Confused. Confused. And what is THIS revelation in front of her now?

Viktor Krum reads in Hermione’s presence and when one reads together – one grows fond of that someone. Damn it.

The next thing she knows is she’s offering him English lessons.

‘’I hear your French – pretty bad –‘’

‘’Thanks’’

‘’How about try Bulgarian?’’

''Sure.'' 


Draco thinks of Potter Stinks badges.

Hermione leaves them on the Support Cedric side because Hufflepuffs are kind and beyond useful. They are the closest thing to late-night-snacks smugglers she can get. Because the Elves do not speak to Hermione Granger.

‘’Hey, Susan!’’

Susan Bones looks at her and thinks about running because Hermione has a bit of a reputation to be beyond intense.

‘’Susan, yes – look,’’ Hermione points to her badge: ‘’Let’s go Cedric! Real Hogwarts champion! Wooho!!''

Susan flees. Smart of her, really.

Hermione does not pursue.

She feels eyes on her in the hallway and turns around to see WELL! HER HEART! IT’S BEATING IN UNBEKNOWN SPEEDS OF CHAOS AND ANARCHY TRANSFORMING HER WHOLE BODY INTO GELATIN!

‘’Salut,’’ Fleur waves, and speaks in accented English, ‘’Can you show me w’ere ze nearest bat’room is? I am lost. Stairs move.’’

‘’Oh – yeah, of course,’’ Hermione nods, ‘’Don’t fret. I’ve got you.’’ This continues for a bit before Fleur rolls her eyes, moves past her bumbling mess, and says something mean in French.


Ron Weasley makes a fool out of himself in front of Fleur and Hermione has never understood a man’s pain better than in that moment of weird green-red camaraderie that transcends all known human notions of divide.


 ‘’You’re studying too much.’’ Pansy says, because Pansy usually always calls someone out on their studying madness.

‘’Piss off.’’

‘’Right, bugger off yourself, Granger. Now come down from your throne of books,’’ Hermione does not have a throne of books, she has a fort of books thank you very much, ‘’and let’s go.’’

‘’Where?’’

‘’Forest.’’

‘’Why in the world would I –‘’

‘’What? Scared of losing points if you get caught? It’ll be fun. Come on, Miss Screw This.’’

They all remember Hermione’s third year end. They all know that Hermione has shouted, running high on adrenaline: Screw School. Screw Divination. Screw Schedules.

‘’You know what,’’ Hermione slams her book shut, ‘’let’s go and party.’’

‘’Party?’’ Pansy muses.

‘’Yes, I heard from a Ravenclaw I saw in the Restricted Section that the upper years are having a party tonight in the Forest.’’

‘’What a coincidence,’’ Pansy says, knowing this already, but playing coy, ‘’and here I just wanted to have a walk about in the Forest with a bunch of my friends.’’


The Forbidden Forest is forbidden, but the Beauxbatons boys and girls hate following the rules. They sing French songs heartily and show off their single malt whisky to everyone. When the illegal gambling starts one of them sets it down as collateral and says something in French that has everyone cheering: ‘’Jacques! Jacques!’’

Hermione sticks with her Slytheirn friends and finds all of this – intoxicating.

The songs. The music. The lights. The magic.

They’re on the outskirts of the Forest, but technically they’re breaking the rules by being a foot or two in it.

One seventh year Ravenclaw sets fire to a bunch of twigs and adds alcohol to make it really rage. Its swirling reflects in Hermione’s eyes and tinges them red, just for a moment before she turns her gaze away to look at Millicent.

‘’How have you been?’’

‘’Good.’’ Millie says. ‘’A little lonely.’’

What with Hermione constantly studying, trying to piece together this world that she seems to be struggling in. She’s drowning in it.

‘’You’ve got the cat, right.’’

‘’Yeah.’’ Millie laughs. ‘’The cat. Crookshanks and my cat are pretty fun pals.’’ She nears to Hermione and looks. Doesn’t do anything. Doesn’t say anything. Just looks. Waits, expectantly, hopefully. She rubs her hand across her neck. 

Their breaths smell of alcohol. Of the cheap stuff children can afford to pay an adult to buy them in Hogs Head – their main patron. They haven’t got the whisky of Beauxabtons or the elegant spirits of Durmstrang arrivals.

Krum waves at Hermione and mispronounces her name.

Millie draws back and says: ‘’Your quidditch star awaits you, my lady.’’

‘’My lady?’’ Daphne overhears, totters slightly, and has a tight hold over Tracey who looks even worse for wear, but is laughing hysterically. ‘’Are we doing that now? My lady – my lord – my laadyyy lord!!’’

‘’Stop it you.’’

‘’Lady Hermione~!’’

They begin to chant and Hermione has had enough.

She pushes herself to walk, and because she’s drunk only two glasses, makes a proper beeline for Viktor to greet him.

‘’How are you!’’

‘’Good, thank you! What about yourself?’’

‘’Ah! Good job on the pronunciation!’’

‘’Thank you!’’

Hermione doesn’t know why they’re both yelling when they see each other, but it could be because of the music. A Hufflepuff from fifth year has unearthed a hurdy-gurdy to play on.

‘’Hermione, meet some of my friends.’’ Viktor guides her to sit a bit with the foreign students who look like they’ve come out of a Slav for Life magazine. Not that there is a magazine like that. Sadly, the world has not gotten to such a beautiful idea yet.

Soon enough everyone is too drunk to stick to their own school sector and Fleur Delacour (hot damn) is sitting next to Viktor Krum (hot damn) and talking to him in English which is phenomenal because that means that Hermione can follow along. She’s sipping dutifully on water, but the cheap stuff hits hard and her stomach is upset.

‘’Je suis dezol!’’ Hermione wishes to apologise to Fleur, who has turned around to listen to Hermione stumble. She wears an impassive mask. ‘’Parsee kaa je suis an idiot and – wait – et – yes – I am dezoleee. You are just et je me suis avoir – wait it went away from me – oh fuck – listen---‘’

Fleur is smiling now, bemusedly so.

‘’I don’t know how to deal with my own feelings and you shouldn’t have to deal with that. Sorry!’’ Hermione has foregone French because it is a trash language anyway and she doesn’t find it easy to learn or understand. ‘’You’re just – a! Eureka! For me.’’

‘’A Eureka?’’ Fleur’s eyes are full of joy at the sheer flattery Hermione layers on her.

‘’Oui!’’ Hermione says.

Viktor is watching now, listening and trying to understand, but he has had more to drink than Hermione. Which he ought to be used to as a quidditch star.

‘’Eureka?’’ Viktor mumbles.

Fleur’s grinning widely and someone can see that fire-wielding bird demon hidden behind those blonde curls and stunning eyes. It is ready to devour and fight and she will prove herself during the Tournament. Though, that comes later.

Tonight she decides to kiss an adorable girl whose apology she will remember as the best apology anyone has deemed to give her.

Hermione Granger’s heart EXPLODES.

Viktor Krum whispers something in Bulgarian and looks at the drink in his hand strangely.

Pansy Parkinson’s cheer cannot be drowned out by anything, not even terrible hurdy gurdy music: ‘’OUR LADY’S GETTING SOME!’’

‘’WOOO!!! LADY HERMIONE!’’ Daphne and Tracey sway. Not unlike lost souls. These ones are lost, simply, in the joy of tonight.

When Hermione breaks the kiss she blinks and stammers and laughs.

Because life is so funny, when one gets down to it.

And Hermione has spent too much of her time not getting into it.

Chapter Text

Welcome to Slytherin

 

Is a set of words that Millicent whispers one day in the Slytherin girl dorms while Hermione is engrossed in a book and it’s just the two of them present. Pansy is with Daphne trying to corner some Durmstrang girls for information. Tracey is with them solely to meet Viktor Krum (the party wasn’t an ideal place for it as she was afraid of throwing up on him)

Hermione doesn’t react. Her uncovered words don’t glow. In fact all she does is raise her head and look around dazedly.

Millicent nods, assured but hurt. It’s a searing sort of pain, one coated in disappointment, but ultimately she understands that it would be too easy for it to be true. She looks at her newly revealed words etched into her skin like a long falling necklace. It’s not the weirdest of words to appear, but it’s certainly up there with Millie’s theme: Your cat hacked up a hairball on my foot.

Because her words sound like the most Hermione thing to say. Millicent can imagine her cat clearing out her throat, can imagine Hermione not even realising that her foot’s covered in a hairball, all to finally look away from her studies, look at the mess, find Millie’s eyes and whisper: ’’Your cat hacked up a hairball on my foot.’’

Millie imagines that in this scenario she would laugh. Hermione would blink like she always does whenever she’s confused by society and people.

It’s too much to ask to have Hermione be her soulmate, isn’t it? Someone she gets along with and wouldn’t have any expectations or bonds to talk about. Does Hermione even know of the soulmate bonding ceremonies? She probably does, she’s a walking library of information, that one.

Millie gets up, stretches, and says that she’s going to have a walk.

Hermione waves her off and says: ’’All right, Millie. See you tonight? We’re going to practise occlumency with Snape.’’

Millie nods and leaves. Alphonse has continued to teach her over the summer.


Millicent finds some Durmstrang students, among them Krum stands and talks in Bulgarian. No, wait, that’s German. Millie knows rudimentary German because knowing only one language is entitled and arrogant.

She trails towards them because she’s bored and could find out some things about the enemy. Surely Cedric would appreciate having a leg up – no, he’s a Hufflepuff, he’s fair – Potter, then. Gryffindors preach that they’re fair, but at any moment when their losing would result in someone’s death they shove morals out of the window. It’s quite Slytherin of them. They never admit to this sort of thinking, though. In the denial, all of those children in red.

’’Guten Tag.’’ Millie introduces herself, ’’I’m Millicent Bulstrode.’’

The conversation stops to a halt abruptly.

Then, Krum, reverently, in German: ’’Are you related to Alphonse Bulstrode?’’

Millie nods. ’’He’s my first cousin.’’

’’Wait, you’re that cat girl?’’ One of the Durmstrang students asks in fear. ’’He said that you have an affinity for cats and that they follow you a-and that you can summon a cat demon from the depths of the other world?’’

’’Yeah.’’ Millicent will never pass up the opportunity to intimidate.

They pull Millie to sit with them and tell them all about what Alphonse is doing. Apparently, before his expulsion he used to be considered the biggest rule breaker of their school, knowingly blasting rock music during exams and telling uptight professors that they were, indeed, uptight. Millie’s head is swimming with stories of her silly cousin’s escapades.

’’He dueled Karkaroff once, didn’t he?’’

’’Well, it was more of a punishment to get him to stay in line – but he did get a few hits in. Nobody expected that.’’

’’What about that time when Alphonse the Great,’’ Millie is this close to rolling her eyes at the nickname, ’’serenaded Marija Glendža in honour of going to the ball with her using only limericks and a bunch of vampire actors he found struggling to make ends meet? They were really good vocal accompaniment. Did he pay them in blood or money, I forget?’’

’’Money.’’ Millie remembers Alphonse sending her a request that he needs some quick cash and that he will pay her back. She remembers being ten. You don’t ask a ten year old for a loan. As a matter of fact he still hasn’t paid her back. 

Everyone from Durmstrang is nodding along. ’’He really made our school life interesting.’’

Millicent has never been more confused in her entire life. And she’s friends with Hermione Granger, the most confusing and lovely girl in the world.

’’Al? Weird Al? My Al? That bugger who snores–’’

Even more in awe whispering and asking her how Alphonse is in private and what his hobbies are and would it be too impertinent of them to ask Millie to let Al know that his fans love him very much. Millicent closes her eyes and inhales deeply because that’s all that she has.

Viktor Krum has clasped his hands. All of his buddies have clasped hands and gentle smiles present. They chime, all of them: ’’Please.’’

This is the worst possible thing that’s ever happened to Millicent Bulstrode.

Just you wait! The Universe will say. The world will only get weirder and less easy to navigate!

Millie writes Al.

Al writes them that he can meet them up in the Hog’s Head on a specific date and if his adoring fans know of a way that he can infiltrate Hogwarts to watch the Triwizard Tournament he’d be thrilled. Also, a PS to please say hello to his loving and dear headmaster.

Krum shakes hands with Millie and tells her how thankful and happy she has made him. ’’Hermione speaks highly of you.’’ Hermione and Krum still meet up often in the library and read together and when they’re outside of it talk and giggle and speak in bits of each other’s languages. Bulgarian, it seems, is much easier to learn than French is. Maybe, though, Pansy’s just a terrible teacher.

Millicent nods. Krum smiles. Fuck. Fuck the bastard. Millie understands why Hermione likes him. He’s so kind looking. Like some large mountain dog full of love. No. Damn it. He’s ugly. Ew. Millie turns around on her heel and leaves. Ew.


Sleazily stupendous Severus Snape seriously seems so sincerely, sordidly stressed.

’’You want me to teach you legilimency?’’ He looks at Hermione Granger who is adamant that she should learn everything in her power to learn. In the back of her mind are theorems and art related facts and physics rules and thoughts how she must know everything in order to protect herself.

’’Please.’’ Hermione tilts her head to one side and pours all of her enthusiasm into one word.

’’No.’’ Severus will not teach a child something which he does not know. He will especially not tell a child he does not know this piece of magic. She’s too irritating when she senses weakness in academic figures.

’’I’ll do it on my own.’’ Hermione has read the risks and they are something she is willing to take.

Severus Snape knows many a Black and knows that inherently they are masters of mind magic. There is a saying, long before the saying Toujours Pur happened. One that is still whispered around pureblood homes in reverence: Mind Magic is Black magic. He remembers learning Mind Magic from someone who is not a Black, but who is competent. But those that learn from a Black, those are true masters of the arts. It comes inherently to them, intuitively they can tell when someone’s fibbing or when someone’s got a crush on another – some call it reading, some call it voyeuristic – but he knows, with all of the self-proclaimed knowledge and experience he’s gone through in his life – that if Hermione had a Black to learn from she would be powerful in a way no student of his has ever been.

Millicent, Daphne, Tracey, and Pansy come at the specified time (not early like Hermione) and wave at their professor, quite happy to be learning more occlumency.

’’You will do no such thing.’’ Severus Snape hisses at Hermione. To learn Mind Magic like this, on one’s own, is dangerous. When one’s in their own mind and defending, it’s a whole other story – they’re familiarized with the environment and they know their deepest darkest secrets. When one’s in another’s mind, they are easily lost, confused, and trapped.

The biggest risk of being a Legilimens isn’t getting kicked out of a mind and being found out. No, the biggest risk is being trapped in a memory or another’s sick and twisted mind.

’’Let’s take things up a notch this year. I assume you’ve all been practising your clearing techniques. Miss Parkinson, how goes that?’’

Pansy seethes through a smile. ’’Well.’’

’’Let’s see then.’’ Severus gestures her over to sit in the designated chair as he takes out his wand and whispers: ’’Legilimens.’’


They learn.

Up until school spirit forces them not to learn and to go watch Harry Potter nearly get eaten by a dragon.

’’Why...’’ Hermione says as everyone is screaming when the Hungarian Horntail gets loose.

’’I don’t know, Hermione. You just have to be happy that you’re not Harry bloody Potter.’’

’’Imagine having that boy’s life? I’d kill myself in two days.’’

’’He’s famous, though.’’ Draco inflicts himself on anyone that has to listen to him.

’’Draco,’’ Hermione groans, ’’I’m famous. You’re famous. Everyone quotes you behind your back.’’

’’Wait,’’ Draco’s eyes light up, equally as grey as his grandfather’s, ’’really?’’

’’Yeah.’’

Hermione doesn’t tell him that the most frequent quote they use is used in the following scenarios:

(Tracey cuts her finger on a piece of parchment and hisses: ’’This is your last fucking chance, you hear me? If you do this to me again you can be assured that MY FATHER WILL HEAR ABOUT THIS!’’

Millicent, on an occasion, has whispered: ’’Someday I want to love just as obsessively as Draco Malfoy loves ragging on Potter.’’

’’That’s such a raw description, so poetic. I just got goose bumps.’’ Daphne shudders genuinely. She shows Millie. ’’Look at them. Look at how bumpy they are.’’

’’They are very bumpy and goosy, indeed. Tell me, Daphne, will your father hear about them?’’ Millicent cracks a smile.

Daphne snorts out a laugh. It’s one of her uglier ones, so it’s apparent that it caught her off guard.

Or the most recent phenomenon:  

Pansy opens her mouth and a fly flies into it.  

Luna, nearby, as her soulmate is hacking out the fly: ’’Oh no. Sue it, Pansy. Tell the fly that your father will hear about it.’’)


Fleur and Hermione have many conversations in English (because Fleur seems to be only capable of withstanding Hermione’s French pronunciations when she is neck deep in alcoholic beverages), but there’s no kissing and there’s certainly no feelings between them. Hermione’s crush has faded, but it’s more or less because she’s just wanted to see what the fuss was about. Now that she has she feels so much more at ease. Krum is somewhere in her peripheral vision and waving while having the goofiest smile on his face.

But Fleur is – Fleur is kind of a symbol for Hermione – a symbol that – oh she likes people like Fleur. Not just people like Viktor. And that’s an eye-opener.

’’I am flattered,’’ Fleur says and by the looks of her quirked lips and arched brows she is, ’’but I just kissed you because I felt like it. T’ere is not’ing t’ere for you to ’old onto. D’accord?’’

Hermione knows enough French to know what d’accord means: ’’Yes, no, it’s all right. I understand. Merci.’’ Fleur grimaces because Hermione has pronounced it how an Englishwoman may pronounce Mercy. Which is terrible and wrong and shouldn’t exist anywhere near the language of exceptions who have exceptions who know some more exceptions all while these exceptions have a terrible hatred towards the letter H, though sometimes, once in a blue moon, they allow it – because there’s an exception.

’’Can we still be friends?’’

’’Bien sur!’’ Fleur is baffled as to why they can’t be. Hermione shrugs because she’s fifteen and weird and awkward.


Krum invites her over to the Durmstrang ship and Hermione isn’t one to say no to new and exciting things that she’s dying to see.

He’s just about to take her below deck and show her to what the ship really has in store – and there’s apparently a game room for duelling practise – when Igor fucking Karkaroff happens.

Igor Karkaroff calls Hermione a spy and tells her to leave and feed information to Dumbledore another time. ’’Go spy on those French roosters! Dumbledore is sending child spies now! Didn't he have enough children to use during the war?’’

He’s quite distractingly dressed and his Dark Mark is showing. Igor has been awoken by some Durmstrang students who fear that Krum has been ensnared by Hermione’s Hogwarts wiles. Hermione snorts and points at it, rather rudely and pointedly, but she’s quite done being polite to racists: ’’Aha. Do people know that the Headmaster of Durmstrang is a Death Eater?’’

Apparently people do. Apparently as long as you don’t believe in Grindelwald you can get away with a lot of things on the Continent. Voldemort isn’t a big thing over there. This much she’s realised by speaking to both Fleur and Viktor. He’s a speck, a blemish, an old stain people are trying to wash away and not think about.

’’I have a right to be here. Why a child like yourself is interrogating me just goes to show how ill-mannered you are and, and I have rights.’’ And apparently Igor Karkaroff is what you call a reformed individual. And he hasn’t come back to Britain after all these years to be attacked like this.

’’Aha.’’ Hermione says and drags Krum below decks while pointedly ignoring Igor Karkaroff’s bemused and wary responses. People really don’t know how to respond when they aren’t allowed to be racist, want to be racist, and have a subject to subject to their racism, but just don’t know if it’s viable for their way of life right now.

Oh how hard it is to be a decent human being, thinks Hermione Granger.


’’Wait, you’re really taught the Dark Arts? I thought those were just rumours.’’

’’Magic is magic.’’ Viktor shrugs. ’’Your government... it is really invasive. Politics is confusing over here. Settle what is what and then make laws.’’

’’Yeah, they’re really indecisive.’’ Hermione nods. Then, as she’s sitting on a chaise longue in Viktor’s arms as they’re reclining in a cosy common room full of both boys and girls, Hermione whispers: ’’Can you teach me some spells, sometime?’’

He does. But first he kisses her.

Hermione melts. She scrunches up her face and giggles and says: ’’You’re precious.’’

Viktor blushes at the compliment. It’s unexpected.

And to be perfectly honest, Hermione has stopped believing she has it in her to be unexpected like this. Viktor seems to draw that out.


Hermione makes time for Millicent and drags her to go see the ship next time. That’s when she realises that – as Igor Karkaroff pales –he won’t have anything to do with a Bulstrode – EVER AGAIN. ’’Out! Out! You, you muggleborn Herm- Hermiaone – Herman girl, you can stay – but you, YOU RELATION OF DESTRUCTION, OF CHAOS AND ANARCHY – Get out!’’

Millicent Bulstrode is accompanied by a horde of curious Durmstrang students who won’t stop pestering her about her cousin’s activities and whereabouts. Viktor slips up that they’re meeting him in Hog’s Head the night before the Yule Ball. There’s an uproar. Everyone wants to go and meet the infamous Alphonse Bulstrode.

Hermione mentions that she’s met Alphonse and that he seems like a nice bloke. This gets her carried around in awe and reverence as they’re shouting Alphonse the Great, over and over again.

Durmstrang seems like such a fun school. Hermione stills thinks not letting muggleborns in is bullshite.


Moody is an absolute joy.

Hermione stops answering his questions because she feels him pushing and pushing and pushing and it’s not the least bit subtle.

His only saving grace is that he’s picking on Malfoy very hard and has even turned him into a lovely ferret.

You can bet

That Lucius Malfoy has heard about this.


Harry Die Already Potter has a map. And how the fuck has Hermione not been informed of this goldmine of an information?

’’Well, I didn’t know.’’ Millicent shrugs.

’’We can use this.’’ Pansy agrees with Hermione.

’’For what?’’ Daphne wonders. Why do they need to know where people are all the time? Spying doesn’t interest any of them.

Hermione doesn’t know. ’’But you never know when you’ll need it!’’

’’I’ll never know when I’ll bloody hell need to know seven generations of my family’s lineage, but yet here I am.’’

’’Tracey, sorry, but I don’t even think I’ve got seven generations of my family.’’


They don’t steal the map.

It’s too much effort. Everyone’s too busy living their own lives to focus on Potter.

But maybe next year when something terribly chaotic and dangerous comes into their school. Something even worse than You-Know-Who and War. Something as infernal and terrifying as bureaucracy.

Maybe then they’ll need the map much more than they do now.


The night of the Infamous Meeting happens.

Hermione and Millie sneak out of Hogwarts with a bunch of Durmstrang students (by which Hermione thinks it’s all of the Durmstrang students) and carefully they make their way to Hog’s Head.

Aberforth Dumbledore sighs a sigh of a man who thinks that he’s going to work this night the most he’s ever worked since opening his establishment. ’’Is everyone of age?’’

Hermione goes to raise her hand to say that she isn’t, but Millie is quicker and pulls her hand down.

’’All right, good.’’ Aberforth is already making them beers to hand out. ’’Students get a discount because that gentleman over there asked me nicely and I haven’t been spoken to politely in a very long time.’’ He points to a man.

Alphonse Bulstrode

The man in the flesh, himself. 

The man in the most onyx robe this world has ever seen. If Hermione knew of vanta black no doubt she would call Alphonse’ robe this. But she doesn’t. So she doesn’t.

Viktor Krum whispers in German to his friends: ’’I never imagined I would meet him in the flesh. I’ve never even spoken to him during school.’’

Millicent wonders what Draco Malfoy would think that Viktor Krum acts around her stupid cousin the same way Draco acts around Viktor Krum. She laughs and asks Hermione this. She laughs even harder at the mental image.

Soon enough rock music plays. Because of course it does.

’’I will lead you all towards a new light, one that isn’t picked out by your parents who want to control everything that you do. Together, with my knowledge and your enthusiasm the world as our parents know it will cease to exist – who here fucking hates waltz raise your fucking hand-’’

Everyone’s hand is raised.

’’NOW THAT’S THE RIGHT ATTITUDE I LIKE TO SEE!’’

There’s dancing and singing along and making things up if you don’t know the lyrics. From ZZ Top to AC/DC to Iron Maiden to Rolling Stones to Nirvana to even Plavi Orkestar because Alphonse is all about listening to international music.

Viktor Krum is dancing with Alphonse Bulstrode and he’s having such a fun time, Hermione’s laughing so hard at how happy her boyfriend is. She’s never seen him this freaked out.

Millie grabs Hermione close and they dance and twirl and laugh and drink and drink and drink some more and Hermione really doesn’t know when to stop.

Until the wee hours of the morning this party rages. Aberforth has put up silencing charms outside so he doesn’t get any noise complaints. He tells some Durmstrang students  - one of which is called Milijana Kentera that she will be forced to vacate the premises if she doesn’t stop hugging his goats, but she’s drunk and crying and telling the goats that they’re such nice goats and that she loves them so very much.

Viktor is dancing with Hermione while Alphonse has taken his baby cousin out on a headbang to end all headbangs.

But then.

 

Igorstrophe .

 

(Never to be confused with Dumbledostrophe as those are two vastly different types of catastrophes)

 

The music ends. Everyone is looking towards their pissed off Headmaster.

Igor Karkaroff is obviously trying to stay calm, but his chest is rising and falling pointedly, his nostrils are flared, and his shoulders are rolling, but he looks murderous and it’s frankly not a good look on him.

’’I woke up twenty minutes ago to-’’

’’To go to the bathroom I bet!’’ One student pips out and has to be held upright because they’ve drunk too much.

’’I will not apologise for being a human being.’’ Igor berates the snickering student. ’’I am older than you and I’d like to see you in my age.’’

At this point even more of his students are laughing. Most quietly of them is Viktor Krum who keeps biting his lip and stifling it and trying, desperately, not to be heard. He’s holding Hermione to his chest and she’s snort-laughing into her hand.

After spelling the insolently drunk students silent, Igor Karkaroff runs a hand through his hair and says: ’’Never, in my lifetime, have I witnessed such disregard for tradition. This – what came over all of you--- no – NO!’’

 

And Igor Karkaroff has finally set eyes on Alphonse Bulstrode.

 

’’My favourite professor!’’ Alphonse has outstretched his arms out to hug the man. ’’My best friend! Igor, my dear chap, do give your favourite student a hug!’’

’’Stay away from me, you insolent twat.’’

But it’s too late.

Alphonse is hugging the man. ’’You’re like the father my mother’s always wanted for me.’’

’’Madame Gretchen is a formidable woman and when she enrolled you in Durmstrang I thought that you would follow her example. How wrong I was. Mr. Bulstrode, stop hugging me.’’ Igor is at this point trying to push the young man off of him, but Alphonse is relentless.

Students may have been spelled silent, but their bodies haven’t been spelled immobile. It looks like a bunch of mimes are trying to covney laughter all while drunkenly swaying. Igor is trying to shove Alphonse, because he refuses to do what his instincts are telling him and cast the cruciatus curse on him. He isn’t that kind of person right now. He’s an educator and children are terrible.

What’s a child, though?

Anything below the age of twenty-one. You can kill a twenty-one year old in some magical communities without having their families being legally allowed to hunt you down for blood revenge.

’’Mr. Bulstrode, why are you like this?’’

’’My mother keeps asking herself that question a lot, too.’’

Hermione is shaking with laughter, if not being able to voice it.

Igor’s magic begins to fade and Viktor draws in breath and it’s heard and he wheezes.

Aberforth Dumbledore, the barmen everyone has forgotten about in this hubbub, gets a very important and drastically night-changing word in: ’’Ah, you’re their professor?’’

Igor nods.

Alphonse is doing his best not to break character, but he does stop hugging Igor and moves away from him, all whilst saying how he will not be talked down to like this anymore and that he shall be leaving and good night ladies, gents, and whatever else you may like to be called. Alphonse Bulstrode is out!

’’Then you’re paying for all of this. That bloke said so.’’

 

Alphonse is sprinting.

 

Igor Karkaroff is turning around slowly, watching his once prodigal student running for his life, laughing so hard he wheezes, remembering that he’s magic, and apparating with a crack.

He turns back to Aberforth and does what any sensible adult in charge of drunk teenagers can: he pays. And then proceeds to shout at his students that he cannot believe how much they’ve drunk in such a short span of time and don’t they realise that there’s a stupid ball tomorrow that if any of them appear hungover in he will personally write their admittance to Nurmengard on basis of treason to the school they’ve given their blood and tears to. 

As he’s herding his students to go back to the ship he sees drunk girls Millicent Bulstrode (that haunted, haunted surname) and Hermione Giggly Granger and tells them they can stay the night on the ship in a girl’s room, but that he will be informing their Head of House.

’’We don’t fear him!’’

’’Yeah, he’s just a ruddy Death Eater, too- why, Millie, why is my life filled with Death Eaters ...’’

’’Yeah, hahahahaha, why – oh wow – that’s’’ Millie can’t help but laugh, ’’that’s bloody fantastic, though, isn’t it? Snape’s a Death Eater, too. I bloody forgot about that for a moment. Ha! And you’re one, too!’’

’’Truly, I am astounded by the level of intelligence all of you children are showing tonight. Miss Granger, am I to understand that you’re going to the event tomorrow with Mr. Krum?’’

Hermione nods fast and quick and gets disoriented and throws up over Igor’s shoes.

Both girls are too drunk to properly remember, but they think they hallucinated Igor sighing: ’’Abraxas told me to keep an eye on this.’’


Being hungover

Is like being hit by the cruciatus curse


Hermione doesn’t understand how the older students are just moving along their lives on the ship like it isn’t the end of the world. Lights make her angry. Noise makes her angry. Food makes her stomach upset because if she eats another bite in the morning she will throw up and her appetite doesn’t return until sometime in the afternoon, just in time for lunch.

Classes are thankfully all cancelled for the day of the ball so Hermione’s not missed anything.

When she wakes up in the king sized bed on the ship she does so in an entanglement of limbs that belong to her best friend in the whole world. Millie has her mouth open and she’s taken off most of her clothes because of the unbelievable heat radiating off of their bodies. It’s the alcohol trying to evaporate, thinks Hermione.

She looks down and notices that she too is not wearing many clothing articles. It looks like she’s tried to take off her undershirt, but it seemed to be too complicated for her drunk mind so it’s just haphazardly hanging on only one arm. Millie’s got a sock on her hand, however that may have happened.

There’s knocking on the door. The voice that follows is cruel and unmistakably Igor Karkaroff’s:

’’GET UP!’’

Hermione feels like crying because her brain hurts and she will never drink again.


Pansy is in awe of Good Girl Granger at how not good she is. ’’I knew it. I knew we would break your nerd shell.’’

Draco Malfoy is leaning into their conversation, but he isn’t talking. He’s eating his own food and listening.

’’Damn.’’ Daphne doesn’t just damn without anything really damning to happen. ’’You’re going to get into trouble for that. Foreign boyfriend and wacky cousin aside. Both of you are toast.’’

Tracey points at a billowing bat approaching them.

Sneakily Severus Snape slithers slowly, surely so small snakes steadily study Snape’s sneer.

’’Detention, Miss Bulstrode and Miss Granger.’’ Then, the crème de la crème, ’’For the rest of the school year.’’

Igor Karkaroff has probably made this out to be into a much bigger deal than it really is.

Hermione is just thankful that her Head of House has the emotional intelligence capable of understanding Hermione’s torture. She is grateful for him whispering.

’’Right.’’ Hermione nods. That’s all she can do. ’’Okay. See you Tuesday for the occlumency lessons?’’

’’OCCLUMENCY LESSONS?!’’ Draco Malfoy overhears and Severus Snape looks as if the earth has shattered over his had multiple times in the span of seconds, ’’I DON’T KNOW WHAT THOSE ARE BUT YOU BET THAT MY FATHER WILL HEAR ABOUT THIS!’’

Chapter Text

Welcome to Slytherin

 

Is a set of words that will cause Hermione a lot of misfortune.

But for now she is the one causing misfortune to academic figures in her life who are trying not to faint from the sheer abundance of questions she is asking.

Even Binns looks like he’s about to evaporate from existence and free up the post he’s been occupying for as long as anyone remembers.

She asks him about history and muggleborns and witch hunts and how witches are actually responsible for starting witch hunts and getting muggles in trouble. Women and midwives and rebellious daughters. All so they will never be put in the spotlight and burnt alive and have their wands snapped. (She makes sure to practise wandless magic at least once every day and she’s getting quite good at it because she’s been doing it during the summer, as well)

’’Miss Granger,’’ Binns tells her, ’’please, haven’t you got a class to go to?’’

’’Free period,’’ professors have begun to fear this answer from Hermione, ’’may I ask another question?’’

The ghost sighs: ’’You may.’’

Hermione grins and her buckteeth are large and full of secrets. ’’What can you tell me about a student that went here – oh, fifty or so years ago. His name’s Tom Riddle.’’

’’Ah, Mr. Riddle was a true wunderkind, but there is a little known fact about those types of folk. People forget that bad things happen to overachievers in general. They go mad after leaving a structured environment. We called him the Brightest Mind of Hogwarts.’’ Binns answers. ’’He, however, never asked me as many questions as you did.’’ Binns doesn’t tell Hermione that he presumes that unlike Hermione, Tom Riddle had a life outside of academia. It isn’t professional.

Hermione’s smile widens. ’’Oh? What about Abraxas Malfoy – what kind of student was he?’

Binns’ mood shifts to accommodate the change in topic. His form flickers. ’’Abraxas Malfoy is an illiterate and ruinous man who has only his name to hide behind. Why would you even ask me about him?’’

’’I met him.’’ Hermione simply says.

’’My condolences.’’ Binns replies and finally ushers her away.

Hermione goes out of the classroom, snickering. When she tells the girls that she actually heard Binns making a joke nobody believes her.


Pince is handed over a package full of books without moving covers that she grasps close to her chest and whispers: ’’My precious.’’

Hermione scampers off to the Restricted Section. That bloody missing book keeps staring at her and she’s going to ask someone what was there even if it gets her expelled for not having a pass. The curiosity is too much.


Fleur takes Hermione and the girls to the Carrosse where all the Beauxbatons students sleep.

There she meets Fleur’s little sister Gabrielle. She exudes the same energy how Astoria does and Hermione is led to believe that it’s simply a little sibling thing. Monstrous creatures, little siblings.

Daphne loves hanging out with Gabrielle and Hermione then believes that deep down inside every older sister is a fucking masochist.

Luna and Fleur and Gabrielle get their photograph taken.

’’We need the other one I saw.’’ Fleur says that he has similar hair to them. ’’I will not leave Britain without taking a photo with Malfoi.’’

They do just that. Luna, Fleur, Gabrielle and the photographer from Beuxbatons go out on a search for the rare platinum breed of Malfoi.

It’s a fun occurrence watching Draco Malfoy posing for photographs all while talking about Optimal Angles.

’’What even are optimal angles?’’

’’It’s obvious you don’t get your picture taken often.’’

’’I have a lot of photographs and all of them are cursed. My mother loves them.’’

’’May I see some of these cursed photographs, my lady?’’

’’Stop calling me that, Pansy.’’

Pansy sticks her tongue out childishly and says that she will never. ’’Lady Herm.’’

’’Oh god.’’


Rita Skeeter needs to die a terrible, heinous death.

Because someone – Pansy swears she only ever tells the woman dirt about Potter – has outed Hermione and Viktor’s relationship. Someone – Viktor swears that no one of Durmstrang has because Karkaroff has gone on a legilimency spree in order to get to the bottom of this because this is slander and nobody will attack his prize student under his watch – has said horrible things about Hermione’s character as both a young woman and a witch and has even called her something that rhymed with witch.

Rita Skeeter is a beyond lucky woman that Hermione is slowly drowning in the Hogwarts Lake or else she would have words with her. Most of them Latin in nature. With fast wand gesticulations. Possibly there would be yelling of unkind kind.

When Hermione gets rescued by Viktor for the task he apologizes to her and Hermione blinks the water out of her eyes and says, not quite helpfully: ’’What kind of shark are you supposed to be?’’

Viktor’s transformation ends and he answers that he really doesn’t know. ’’Does it matter?’’

’’No, not really.’’ Hermione coughs and he pulls her up to her feet and gives her a towel.

Harry Hero Complex Potter saves Gabrielle and Ron.

’’Ron Weasley is the love of his life?’’ someone mutters.

’’They’re soulmates I hear.’’ Another voice says.

’’It would explain why they’re inseparable. Anything else would just be sad.’’

Alphonse Bulstrode – Hermione will later find out that Millie smuggled him in – is cheering Durmstrang on with all of his might. Viktor looks about ready to faint. He waves and whispers, charmed beyond belief: ’’Hermione, I love that man.’’

Igor Karkaroff, once he spots him, looks just about ready to cry from frustration. Albus Dumbledore leans forward and they start to talking. Maxime is a goddess that doesn’t get involved in plebeian matters.

Points get announced.

Rita Skeeter goes to interview the champions.

Hermione doesn’t believe in mortal enemies. She hasn’t got the time for them. But she thinks, as she watches Rita Skeeter dance around the truth and embellish whatever she can get her hands on – Hermione thinks that she can make the time for this damn creature of lies and chaos. It’s the very least she can do to fight for her honour.


During meals Hermione gets howlers from Krum’s adoring fans who call her harpy and mudblood and terrible, horrible names. Hermione closes her eyes and groans deeply.

Millie takes them and tears them up and vanishes the mess that remains. Her eyes are blazing with anger.

Pansy vows to get to the bottom of this. ’’I know Rita, she just needs something juicier to latch onto. I’ll give her something to talk about.’’

’’Like what?’’ Daphne inquires. She piles up French fries on her plate and relishes in their unhealthiness.

’’Well, those silly rumours that Weasley and Potter are soulmates, of course.’’ Pansy looks at the girls as if they’re all stupid for not realising that the potential for anarchy is right there, in front of them. Two tables over.

’’I don’t know, Pansy, that seems wrong.’’

’’What part?’’

’’The lying part.’’

’’I don’t know Potter’s soulmate... It very well could be Weasley.’’ Pansy has never given a single fuck about what people think of her and she will not start now.

’’You do that.’’ Hermione gives the all clear. ’’I’ll figure out a way to get that wretched woman destroyed.’’


RON WEASLEY AND HARRY POTTER

SITTING IN A TREE

K I S S I N G


’’True love is so beautiful.’’ Hermione whispers.

Viktor, who sits at the Slytherin table with all of his Durmstrang buddies, smiles genuinely. ’’They are good together.’’

’’Mhm.’’

Draco Malfoy looks pissed the fuck off and nobody knows why.

Though, they speculate that it is he who would like nothing more than to have his tongue battle Harry’s for dominance. As they lack concrete proof, however, it can only be called speculation and childish gossip.

Igor Karkaroff looks like a haunted man who feels like the Universe is finally getting back at him for fighting for the fascist regime during a war that he had no bloody reason to fight. He isn’t even British. This is just the West taking advantage of Slavic souls like himself. It is’t anything new and he really shouldn’t feel surprised.

’’I've just received a letter from Viktor Krum’s father.’’

’’Yes?’’ Albus is always there to help out his comrades in headmaster-ship.

’’I think... If I read the letter correctly –that he will sue me for letting the papparazzi attack his son and slander Viktor’s little girlfriend – and him along with her.’’

’’You’ve got yourself in a very beetle-y situation.’’

Igor sighs a sigh of a man who has spent too much time with Dumbledore to know that the man’s comparisons are always on-the-nose all while holding a healthy dose of absurdity. In way that is incredibly admirable. The man’s found his own style and cultivated an aesthetic.


Moody is at a loss of words how much Harry Procrastinator Potter is in need of serious help. He’s grown exhausted during class and watches with a small hint of depression in his regular eye Harry Potter who seems to be doing fairly all right, but not nearly as all right as Moody has hoped.

’’There’s no bloody way you’ll win.’’ He whispers.

’’Well,’’ Harry shrugs, ’’if I don’t, I don’t. Not a big fan of fame, professor.’’

Moody twitches.

Tracey leans closer to Daphne and whispers: ’’This is very suspicious.’’

’’Moody just wants Potter to succeed, I think it’s sweet.’’ Daphne replies.

In front of them, Hermione turns around and says: ’’I still don’t know who put Potter’s name in the Goblet. It can’t have been him. He’s too ...’’ Hermione doesn’t want to call him stupid because she knows he isn’t, ’’clumsy.’’

They’re whispering together for a bit, telling each other more and more absurd names, all until Tracey points at Moody and says: ’’How about ol’ vigiliance over there?’’

All of the girls burst into laughter. ’’Oh come on,’’ Daphne chuckles, ’’that makes less sense than my theory that it’s Harry Potter’s time travelling self from the future.’’

Tracey shrugs, undeterred. ’’Sure, whatever you girls say.’’

Moody looks at Tracey Davis like she’s some sort of being of cosmic knowledge and narrows his good eye in sheer flabbergasted-ness.


Igor is seen walking the grounds late at night with a net.

When asked what the esteemed headmaster of Durmstrang is up to he replies: ’’Hunting.’’

’’What?’’ Hagrid, the groundskeeper, asks. ’’Are ya hunting pixies?’’

’’Worse.’’ The man pauses and sneers. ’’Beetles.’’


Hermione opens a book on legilimency in the Restricted Section. She reads through it three times before she goes to find a target to practise on.

It goes --- spectacularly unwell.

’’HEY!’’ Her target feels her in his mind and shouts, ’’I’M TELLING SNAPE!’’’

And Snape takes away fifteen points from Slytherin, telling Hermione that she is playing a dangerous game.

’’I’ve got to learn.’’

’’No, you have no reason to learn something like this.’’

’’What about when we get to war and I can’t defend myself because I don’t know who my enemies are?’’

Snape straightens up and realises that he hasn’t got a precise rebuke on that. What he does tell her is as equally important for her to know. ’’Legilimency – learning it at your age, Miss Granger, is dangerous for your mental health. It festers your mind with paranoia and dependency on reading other people. It is not a kind existence.’’

’’Then teach me.’’ Hermione forces, nearly lunging clean off of her chair. ’’Please,’’ softens it now at his glare.

’’I do not know how to teach you legilimency. I know enough of it to teach others occlumency. I have undergone training from a legilimens.’’ Snape tells Hermione that he does not know something and can already see her deflating like a balloon. ’’Until you are in a position to find a teacher that can teach you, do not attempt to do this yourself.’’

Abraxas Malfoy knows legilimency and has offered to teach her. Hermione remembers. She shudders, remembering his posture and the fear that’s rolled off of her shoulders in abundance during his presence. There are some things that Hermione will never do for knowledge, and that is putting herself in cross-way of that man.


During Arithmancy Draco Malfoy asks Professor Vector for a note on his work. She glances at it and says: ’’It is inaccurate. I am surprised, Mr. Malfoy, that you do not utilize your grandfather to help you. He is a renown genius in this field.’’

’’Really?’’ Draco Malfoys says that all he knows about his grandfather is that he has 125 peafowls and a penchant for confusing people with numerology readings.

Professor Vector, appalled, tells him that the man invented a way to read the future with Arithmancy using logarithms and advanced calculus. ’’He’s revolutionized our methods.’’

Draco’s mind is spinning at that.

Hermione’s is as a matter of fact, as well.

That’s.... interesting. Furthermore, it’s confusing.


Hermione reads through more books. But all of the books on mind magic circle around the fact that being self-taught isn’t a good idea. That if you don’t know what you’re doing you will get hurt. Most books in English tell her to find a Black.

Hermione is this close to writing Harry Potter to have his mad godfather’s address.

No.

Hermione reads onward.

She can do this on her own.

All she has to do is be better at it. More subtle.


Winter holidays pass.

As they do.

Viktor offers her to go to Bulgaria, but her parents won’t let her so she tells him that. He nods and tells her that maybe for summer they can go together.

’’I would like that.’’ Hermione smiles. Though she thinks her parents won’t let her.

Crookshanks likes Viktor and that’s a miracle. Crookshanks only likes Millie and Viktor from all of Hermione’s immediate friends.


Hermione finds a beetle following her and Viktor one evening and smashes it with all of her might. With her hair, insects are unwelcome and scary because if they crawl into her hair, Hermione knows that they will never be unearthed.

A beetle not far away from Hermione gets a mini-heart attack and transforms back into a person.

Viktor apprehends her.

But Hermione’s smile widens and when she remembers all the nasty comments about her buckteeth she smiles a little less wide, but equally as happy to have Rita fucking Skeeter at her mercy.


Igor Karkaroff sees Hermione Granger laughing maniacally all while holding a jar with a beetle in it.

’’Poke holes in the jar’s top!’’ He calls out. ’’You don’t want your pest to die!’’

Viktor gives him thumbs up that that has already been done.

’’If you need help with taking care of it – you know where to find me!’’ The Death Eater Headmaster has offered his services to young children who maybe aren’t ready to cast their first torture curse.

Hermione’s maniacal laughter turns into a dark cackle.

Or maybe they’ve got it handled. Igor thinks that Hermione looks like the kind of person who can cast an unforgivable if she has to.


Tracey Davis asks Viktor Krum if, pretty please with sugar and candy and all the unhealthy things you like on top, they can go flying together.

Viktor is always ready to fly.

Somehow Fleur gets roped into it.

And Cedric, that particularly good finder.

And Harry Potter.

And, the least believable of all,

Hermione Granger who hasn’t ridden on a broom since first year and has never found the appeal. This is it, Hermione thinks, today is the day I die.

But as she flies nearby Viktor who isn’t doing any feints or spectacular dives she gets eased into it. Which just means she doesn’t go two metres per hour. In fact, the cold air brightens her up, the dynamic change in scenery gives her a new perspective and everything is going well – she actually may even like flying ---

Aaand she falls off the broom.

Millie catches her in a levitation charm. Pansy aids it.

’’For a brief moment.’’ Hermione says, terrified out of her wits, ’’I actually had fun.’’

’’Learn how to fly without it.’’ Millie shrugs. ’’My mother told me Professor Snape knows how.’’


During detention.

’’Professor Snape, can you teach me how to fly-’’

’’Absolutely not.’’


Task Three

Is absolute bullshite.

Hermione kisses Viktor for good luck. ’’Don’t die!’’

Viktor laughs and says that he won’t.

Something stifling is in the air. She can’t explain it properly, but Hermione swears that it feels like unease that envelops any cat person when they notice their cat’s eyes straying towards an empty space that has nothing in it, but maybe – just maybe – there is a dark and terrifying demon standing right there watching her, but she can’t see it because she hasn’t got cat eyes.

Or it really could be nothing and her cat is an idiot.

But that fear.

It lingers.


Hermione goes inside Hogwarts to go to the bathroom. Not Myrtle’s bathroom. That is too sad to think about, let alone coexist with.

On her way there she finds Professor Moody shaking in the halls, taking out his flask (Hermione can’t believe they let alcoholics in the school) and taking careful sips.

She hides behind a wall, aims her wand discreetly at Moody, and whispers: ’’Legilimens.’’

If she ever wants to master legilimency she needs to take any opportunity that presents itself to her. Besides, she won’t get caught. She’s learned to hide better and to have her magical presence seep less with occlumency. If occlumency is the shield, then legilimency is the sword.

And Hermione’s always been more of a sword girl growing up.


Repercussions,

 

They’re very lovely little creatures.

        Truly astounding.

            Dastardly conniving.

                        Vicious.

 

And they’ve all decided to tell Hermione that they’ve found her.

And once the repercussions of your actions have found you, well, that’s the time when you’re really screwed.


Halfway into his mind, Hermione can feel Moody’s presence shift. Oh no. Hermione thinks. I suppose it’s inevitable. Guess points will be taken. Detention will be served.

But no.

None of that happens.

Because instead of casting her out,

Moody grabs hold of her presence in his mind and he pulls her further down. Dragging her further and further until they’ve reached a door. Moody opens it. Light shines on Hermione and Moody now and – and Hermione pales, this man isn’t Moody. For starters he’s much younger looking than Moody, and he has a mark on his inner left arm that Igor Karkaroff and Snape do.

Hermione’s legs feel cut off.

He shoves her into the room and closes the door.

From inside Hermione claws at the wallpaper and bangs fiercely, willing the door to return. But it doesn’t. It doesn’t. No matter how much she screams for it to open.


Professor Moody goes to the stands to sit down and watch the Triwizard Tournament.


Hermione notices another door materialize. She lunges to open it and exit this room, only for the door to open by itself.

A woman with black hair and black eyes and a black, sardonic smile enters first and exclaims: ’’Barty,’’ while looking straight at Hermione, ’’I see you’ve come early.’’

Hermione opens her mouth to ask if this woman knows the way out, but a little longer in, Hermione realizes that she is in a memory.

’’Are you excited~?’’ The woman nudges Barty – aka Hermione with her elbow. ’’When I got the mark it was the most beautiful memory of my life. I think it’s ruined the idea of remembering the birth of my first child for me.’’

Hermione is silent.

’’Why, yes, of course it’s that good, Barty. Just you wait. Our lord will come soon. He just has something to take care of.’’

Apparently, when the lord finally deigns to appear, his thing to take care of is to get himself a cup of hot cocoa because he will be damned if he doesn’t fix his horrid circulation through hot drinks.

Hermione barely recognizes him. Tom Marvolo Riddle is a handsome individual whom Hermione has had questionable thoughts about, but this – this fiend who looks sour and sickly and pale and sallow with red eyes (but still Tom Riddle deep down in the facial musculature) – well, he has seen better days.

’’Yes, greetings.’’ He doesn’t wave, simply sits down at a table and a chair that has materialized. Sips his cocoa. Hermione goes to it and peers down, noticing little marshmallows.

’’Bella,’’ The lord greets, ’’how are you doing?’’

’’Well enough, my lord.’’

’’Good good.’’

Hermione wonders how Barty reacted to this the first time, but she is completely blown away by how strange this encounter is. She’s expected fire and brimstone, not a talk with a cold dark lord.

’’So, I hear you want to be a Death Eater?’’

Whatever Barty says Hermione doesn’t know.

’’That is a remarkable answer, Barty Crouch.’’ The dark lord seems impressed.

’’I said I would bring in good stock.’’

’’You really did, Bellatrix Black.’’ This is when Lord fucking Voldemort offers to call a House Elf and get Bellatrix a drink. ’’You’re not being subtle.’’ She’s eyeing that cocoa with all of her Black might.

Now Bellatrix Black is drinking cocoa.

Hermione has stopped trying to understand as to why Barty sent her in this memory.


The Dark Lord resurrects.

Cedric dies.

Harry is traumatized.


Hermione has now begun to understand why Barty has sent her to this memory.

Bellatrix and Voldemort hold a civil and friendly conversation while Barty is in mental pain trying to think when he’s going to get branded like cattle and put through unimaginable pain.

They talk about secrets and codes and how the Order is not being subtle with their ciphers.

’’What kind of coding do you like?’’

’’Anagrams are a joy.’’ Lord Voldemort says and sips his cocoa.

And then it loops.

Over.

And Over.

AND

OVER

             Again.


Hermione rubs at her eyes hard and covers her ears because she counts in her mind. Count the agonizing and shaky feeling of watching an unremarkable memory unfolding before her eyes.

Three hundred and sixty-five times.

’’Anagrams are a joy.’’


Four hundred and seventy-three times.

’’Anagrams are a joy.’’


Five hundred and forty-four times.

’’Anagrams are a joy.’’


Millicent finds Hermione in the hallway, shaking, shaking, shaking, and looking off into the distance like a cat looking at something that isn’t there, but maybe, just maybe, it is.

’’Anagrams are a joy.’’ Hermione whispers in the best impression of Lord Voldemort anyone has ever heard. Those who have ever encountered Lord Voldemort can attest.

After the fifteenth time of only saying this, they bring her to the infirmary.

Snape knows what has happened. ’’I warned you, you – you irreverent child.’’ He is shaken and angry and goes off to find someone that can fix this.

’’That is a remarkable answer,’’ Hermione says because she is saying the entire thing now, ’’Barty Crouch.’’

Dumbledore finds Moody. Or rather -- Not Moody. 


Seventeen hundred and thirty-seven.

’’Anagrams are a joy.’’


Hermione is shaking and shaking and raging in the room, trying to get any of them to stop talking. Any of them to say something new. Something else. She tries to grab that fucking mug from Lord Voldemort’s hands and throw it at him, but it phases through.

Something new.

She’s looking for a way out.

Anything that can tip her off how to get out.

Please,

Hermione is begging and banging on the wallpaper and the door, nearly breaking her fingers with the sheer force she is using to turn the doorknob.


 

’’Anagrams are a joy.’’

 


Two thousand and nineteen.

’’Hello.’’

Hermione turns around.

Naricssa Malfoy is in the room with her.

Hermione is crying.

’’Oh dear, no need for tears.’’

’’You’re not part of the world...’’

’’No, I am part of the world. This is just a memory you’re trapped into. It isn’t real.’’ Narcissa smiles and goes over to Hermione, puling her in a hug. She points at Bellatrix and says. ’’That’s my older sister. She’s in Azkaban.’’

’’Oh.’’ Hermione hears Narcissa Malfoy’s enchanting and calm tone. And is assured. ’’What about him?’’ Hermione points at Lord Voldemort who is smiling and just about to say his main line: Anagrams are a joy.

’’He’s back.’’ Narcissa says. There is no room for argument.

’’How did you get in here?’’

’’I’m a Black.’’

’’Really?’’ Hermione sheepishly inquires. ’’I thought you were a Malfoy.’’

’’I’m both.’’ Narcissa answers in a chipper tone. She places a hand to her hip and offers Hermione a hand. ’’Now let’s get you out of here.’’

The doors open for Narcissa Malfoy née Black . 

Hermione, more than anything in the world, wishes that she can open doors like this woman beside her. 

Narcissa smiles and tells her: ''Everything's all right, now.''


Hermione blinks open her eyes and finds that she is in the infirmary.

’’How are you?’’ Millicent asks, holding her hand with a firm and frightened grip.

Hermione doesn’t say anything. She breathes and calms and looks at Narcissa Malfoy’s eyes and feels all right. She feels soothed.

’’Please, Hermione, say something.’’ Millie whispers hoarsely.

Lord Voldemort is back.

And Hermione Granger has only this to say, with all of the loathing she can muster: ’’Anagrams fucking suck.’’


END YEAR 4

Chapter Text

Welcome to Slytherin

 

Is a set of words that Hermione is not the least bit interested in at the moment. How can she even think about finding her soulmate when bloody Potter's fought You-Know-Who? She can't!

On the train ride back home after a strongly worded letter from Madame Pomfrey to visit St. Mungo's weekly for checkups with her Mind Healer, Hermione is in the train compartment with her friends.

Pansy and Luna are sitting together on one end and wondering a bit about the world and what this will mean. ''You're not exactly... proper company.'' Pansy says. Millie shushes her, but Hermione hates being coddled. She feels aged, like eons have passed in that memory for her, all while in real life only two hours have. It is beyond frustrating to put into words that she feels old. Older than any of them, and not just because she's born in 1979, unlike their 1980.

''I know I'm not pure like your appropriate friends.'' Hermione says. She remembers Pansy never being allowed to ask her over to her home, always declining offers from Hermione. Daphne sends an owl to Millie for Millie to send an owl to Hermione because if her relatives find out  that she is friends with a mudblood it will be...bad. What happens in Hogwarts is unimportant and childish affairs – but what happens in society is wholly different.

''What do you do with the magazines?''

''I go to Millie's to read them.''

''And why are your parents so keen on letting you –''

''Alphonse has paved the way.'' Millie answers. Hermione is lying in her arms and looking up blearily, angrily. Her insides churn with a coctail of fear and disgust.

 

Anagrams are a joy.

 

She's never going to drink cocoa ever again.

''Does anyone know a good Mind Healer?''

''There's only one in St. Mungo's from what I know.'' Tracey whispers from experience. You don't have Tom Riddle in your head without going to a Mind Healer afterwards. ''Her name is Mandy Leach. The wife of the deceased Minister for Magic.''

Hermione knows that name from her endless research. She's come across the name Leach coupled with the title Minister. ''Nobby Leach?'' The one that's been killed by purebloods in 1968. Two years exactly prior to the War starting. That Nobby Leach.

''Yes, I imagine.'' Tracey sits next to Daphne.

Astoria has found friends her own age. She still sometimes nags at Draco, but much less than the previous year.


Harry Potter whispers the words: Lord Voldemort is back.

Everyone whispers the words:  Snakelike. Horrid. Without words on his skin. Without symbols. Harry Potter said so. Do you believe it truly? He's back? He can't be back, can he? He is, he is. Harry Potter is delusional. Everyone has marks? Is it really true that the Dark lord's still haven't appeared?

Hermione Granger listens.

And she asks Tracey Davis: ''Did Tom Riddle have words?''

''He had some around his throat.'' Tracey tries to recall, but second year is a while back for her.

''What were they?''

''I barely saw them peek out from his robe. It was always buttoned up completely.''

''Like hiding marks of a noose.'' Luna offers descriptively. ‘’Or marks of being strangled, no doubt.’’

''Err.’’

‘’You do you, Luna.’’

‘’Right.’'


Dr. and Dr. Granger are appalled. ‘’We are not letting you go back to that school.’’

Hermione thinks of her friends. She thinks of how she doesn’t sleep well. She thinks of how it’s difficult to understand her feelings and reality. Sometimes when she wakes up in her own room and doesn’t notice anyone in there she thinks that she’s trapped again. Almost every morning she flings herself to the door to see if it will open. It always does. Hermione’s fear does not subside. She begins to sleep with the door open.

They’ve installed a floo in their home so Hermione can go to St. Mungo’s . On her way there, Hermione only whispers: ‘’Hogwarts is the only school in Britain for this. So, I’d have to go to France to study magic – and education is compulsory up until age seventeen for British mages.’’ Then a benign smile. ‘’It’s fine, mum, dad.’’

It isn’t. It isn’t fine, but that’s all Hermione can say before going in the fire and yelling out in a crisp and clear manner the location of her visit.


The Mind Ward in St. Mungo’s is a ward that isn’t well funded. The cracked, ruinous walls are upheld by magic. The people working there aren’t the happiest of folk. It’s the low salaries, no doubt.

Hermione shuffles over to a woman at a desk and inquires: ‘’Hello, I’m here to see Healer Leach. Do you know where her office is?’’

The woman points at a door at the end of the hallway. Hermione nods in thanks and goes to it.


Mandy Leach is a woman who is held high in regard in the Healing world. She sits at her desk and stands to greet Hermione properly. ‘’Hello, Miss Granger. May I call you Hermione?’’ What is it about these women, all skilled in the mind arts, that have calm and soothing tones about them? Hermione dumbly nods that she may.

The woman’s brown and grey hair is tied back in a messy pony tail. She flips over Hermione’s medical chart and asks her how she is doing.

‘’Fine.’’ Hermione says the standard and expected answer.

‘’Don’t be like that.’’ Mandy crookedly grins. There is a jagged scar going over her face in what cannot be an accident. It is an attack and Hermione is reminded that they are going to be in a war again, just as the generations before her have gone in war. ‘’My day was shite.’’ Her accent is unmistakably Irish, its lilting tonality fascinating Hermione. Somehow keeping her awake in her wake of exhaustion.

When Hermione dreams she finds herself in that room. With that gaudy wallpaper. With those terrible people.

‘’I can’t sleep much.’’ Hermione twitches. ‘’Food is… I feel like I can go a long time without food and then when I grow hungry there’s a gnawing from my own stomach, it’s so intense that I feel like my own stomach is eating itself.’’

‘’Ah, yes.’’ Mandy nods. ‘’That would be the trauma.’’

Hermione snorts. ‘’You think?’’

Her soulmark is uncovered because the summer is hot and Hermione is wearing a T-shirt and jeans because robes are too stuffy when one isn’t allowed to cast cooling charms.

''Have you found them?'' Mandy Leach's crisp voice inquires.

''No.'' Hermione looks at her words and thinks that she'll never find her soulmate and that with her chance encounters, maybe that's a good thing.

They've been talking for the most part about Hermione's life and friends and all about support systems. Hermione rubs at her face and says that she doesn't know what to make of things anymore. ''I mean, in there, in that memory ... it was ages.'' Hermione pushes herself deeper into the soft comfort of the armchair. Everywhere else it is agony.

She's written Narcissa Malfoy often to thank her for her help and to finally thank her for her gift. Narcissa has replied with intricate swirls that detail how it's no problem at all, and she's got more books for her if she likes.

Hermione is sheepish and in awe and forever grateful and writes: Please.

Mandy Leach has words on her skin as well that she shows. They're on her palm and they're mean. Hermione wrinkles her nose in disgust when she sees them: You're a mudblood?

Her anger must register because Mandy laughs it off and says: ''Nobby was muggleborn, Hermione. He asked me if I was a mudblood because he'd been called that. He asked me to tell him what it meant. Of course, before that he did hold a speech on how weird everything was.''

Nobby Leach is the first and only muggleborn Minister for Magic in Britain.

‘’I figured that with words they’re the first thing your soulmate tells you?’’

‘’Sometimes it isn’t, Hermione. Sometimes you could go weeks, months before you realise you’re each other’s soulmates.’’ Hermione is starting to think that soulmate magic is exactly how French is. Full of bloody exceptions.

''Of course,'' Mandy continues, ''you could bring it up in conversation and speed up the process, but it's best to keep things organic.'' Mandy Leach crookedly smiles and says that Nobby was the greatest friend she could have ever hoped for. ''I married him because I loved him and because he needed a beard.'' A shrug. Hermione notes that the words are faded. Are all words faded once a soulmate dies? She asks this.

''No,'' Mandy is quick to rectify that, ''words fade when they're spoken. Symbols brighten and grow in vibrancy. No one quite knows why.''

Hermione nods. She should know this. She's read about it. Her eyelids drop and she forces them open. There are rings under her eyes and this time they aren't willingly brought upon her. ''Why is this taking so long?'' Hermione's learned that magic is a quick fix, but not necessarily a thorough one. All she wants is to sleep, but Mandy Leach refuses to give her more Dreamless Sleep. Because she'll get addicted.

''Only your soulmate can forge a fast connection with your mind, Hermione. In order to help you I need to better acquaint myself with how your mind works. To just go blindly in another mind is... well...'' Mandy lets her words trail off because Hermione is an idiot and she's too professional to say it.

''Right.'' Hermione knows when to take constructive criticism. She's been so sure in herself, so sure that nothing she ever tries to do will fail – that when it finally did fail...

Hermione is just thankful to be out in the real world.

Because the implications of still remaining in that memory are too frightening. Madness in its rawest form is what she's experienced and Hermione wonders how she can afford this, but Mandy says that the school is paying for it. That's ... suspicious. Because Hogwarts doesn't pay for anything except a small death fee to parents that is never enough to cover the loss of a child.

Mandy Leach is old. Okay, that's rude to say. Hermione steels herself. But Mandy mentions the Great Depression and her parents not working and her going off to Hogwarts during WWII as the happiest and most economically relieving days of her life. ''I'm from Dublin.''

Hermione nods, fascinated. Mandy's magic attentively lingers close to Hermione's and probes her mind when they make eye contact. It's slow and steady and clinical. There's only two registered Mind Healers. In St. Mungo’s.

‘’Who’s the other one?’’

‘’Andromeda Tonks. Though, she’s on call, only. Her price is much steeper than what a layman can afford.’’ Mandy explains and swirls her magic. ‘’I’m going to help you isolate that memory.’'

‘’And take it out?’’

‘’Would you like that?’’ Mandy inquires languidly. ’’Would you like me to take it out into a pensieve and destroy it?’’ Then, knowingly, ’’Would YOU like to destroy it?’’

Hermione wants to say yes. She wants nothing more than to forget – but the fear of repeating her mistakes because she does not remember haunt her mind. ‘’No,’’ Hermione says and it’s the hardest decision she has made so far in her life. Harder ones will come, but this is the hardest right now.

Mandy nods and continues her methods.

‘’Once we isolate it, it’ll help that you can craft a wall or so around it. You’ll remember it, of course, but it won’t be constantly in the forefront of your mind. It’s a temporary solution, but the one I can offer you now as the best one until you do learn more complex occlumency methods. Sound good?’’

Hermione nods.


It’s hard. Everything is weird and ugly and hard.

With help, Hermione slowly mends.


Millie writes and tells her that Alphonse has actually talked with Dumbledore who’s heard much about his escapades from Igor Karkaroff and will actually give her cousin a chance to finish his education at Hogwarts.

Hermione wonders what House Alphonse will be. He strikes her as a Gryffindor.


Daphne tells Hermione that she’s going with her parents on a summer long retreat in the French Alps.

Is this a vacation or is it a family seeing if they can get away with running away?


Pansy tells Hermione that she’s going with her parents  on a summer long retreat in the Netherlands.

She mentions nothing of Luna and that’s a frightening thing. Letters are being dwindled with less and less information. It’s like a promise saying that they will talk in person and only in person.


Tracey tells Hermione that she’s going with her mother and that – caution to the wind – she mentions that she isn’t sure they’ll return. She doesn’t mention where they’re going.

Hermione clasps hold of this letter to her chest and wonders what their world is coming to.


There are attacks. Mandy Leach informs her that they remind of the war. People who go missing never resurface. They’ve not yet evolved into the Stalingrad-sque battles that are a key aspect of the previous war, but Mandy comments, there’s still time.


Luna tells Hermione that she’s staying. Like Millie and Alphonse. Pansy and Daphne will probably return. They’re biddable purebloods, loyal to their parents’ cause.

Tracey’s father is a muggleborn and she’s had Tom Riddle in her mind. Hermione understands. Her hands clenches around the letter hard and she crinkles the parchment and thinks that this is too abrupt a departure letter.


Harry Potter writes her.

Hermione reads the letter cautiously. She does things now with a lot more caution, but the same amount of inquisitiveness. Some things will never change.

The gist of the letter is that Harry Potter wants to be friends again.

Hermione remembers that saying her mother’s been keen on telling her as a young girl, scared and lonely without friends to hang out with. ‘’When God closes a door, he opens a window.’’

She doesn’t write him back.  She doesn’t write Krum, or Luna, or anyone.

She only writes Millie back. It’s what Hermione feels Millie deserves.

 

Dear Millie,

I feel so lost.

How are you?

 

Dear Hermione

I’m frustrated.

Do they just expect us to go to school like nothing is happening?

 

Dear Millie

Yes, I think they do.

What comes next?

 

Dear Hermione

I don’t know.

Doesn’t that scare you?

 

Dear Millie

Yes. I’m terrified.

How’s the cat?

 

Dear Hermione,

The cat’s well.

How about Crookshanks?

 

Dear Millie,

He’s an absolute fiend and I love him.

Say hi to your cat.

 

Dear Hermione,

The cat says hi back

Thank you for writing me.

 

Dear Millie,

I don’t know what else to do but write you.

Studying has become such a chore. What good will knowing things do me when I’m dead?

 

Dear Hermione,

Maybe you won’t die…

 

Dear Millie,

I feel old enough to die

 

Dear Hermione,

I love you, Hermione. Please, don’t forget that.


Dear Millie,
You’re my best friend, Millie. You’re the first person who’s ever wanted to be my friend. I could never forget you.

PS. I love you, too.


Mandy Leach helps.

Hermione struggles.

The doors are open.

The doors are always open.

If it’s not a door then it’s a window.

But she’s mending. Hermione hopes so, at least.


Dr. and Dr. Granger want to make Hermione feel okay so they take her out. They go to London. Art lines the walls of the gallery they’ve taken her to. Hermione looks at the paintings and looks at the people and she finds her eyes straying back looking for exit points wherever she goes.

There are so many people. Tourists bustle in and talk in weird languages Hermione hasn’t heard so far. The artificial lights above glare. Hermione covers her eyes and squints, trying to figure out her place in the world. She’s taken to wearing a wrist warmer of sorts to hide the mark. Because they’re all going into dangerous times and it does kind of make her look eccentric. Besides, Mandy’s taught her that an uncovered mark invites people to comment and gush about soul-matters. Hermione really hasn’t got the time for such things.

Her parents tell her that they’re going to pop over to the souvenir shop and if she doesn’t want to leave just yet that they’ll come back and find her here and please, Hermione, don’t move.

Hermione waves them off and points to a bench, setting her bag there as claim, saying that this is where she will be. Once sat, Hermione decides to admire a Baroque painting.  It’s of a young girl in a red dress playing card with a man.

Perhaps she’s staring at the intricate patterns and the techniques for a few minutes, or ten, or an hour – she doesn’t know what time is sometimes. In that room there was no time.

But someone sits down next to Hermione on the bench and gazes the art without any admiration present. It’s a clinical viewing of a product from a struggling process.

‘’I have never cared much for art.’’

Hermione’s breath stops in her throat at the voice. That scary, eldritch – fae voice.

She turns around, slowly – agonizingly slowly to see Abraxas Malfoy. He still looks at the painting and pretends like it isn’t her he wants. In his hand is his wand. Hermione struggles to understand if she should take her wand out, as well – or if – or if she should scream - - or if ---

‘’Do you know how to play cards?’’ Abraxas, with his free hand, gestures the painting and comments on the sheer concentration of the two players.

‘’Dad’s taught me poker for fun.’’ Hermione doesn’t mention that she’s bad at it. It’s never a good thing to reveal your hand before the other. Millie’s good at it. Pansy rocks at it. Daphne’s not much of a numbers gal. Tracey probably knows the basics. God, she misses them all.

‘’I like playing cards.’’ Abraxas admits conversationally. ‘’I’m rather good at counting them.’’

‘’That’s cheating.’’ Hermione whispers. Her breathing is shallow. She’s calculating how far the exit is.

Abraxas’ arms are uncovered and there’s no mark. But the exit is far and his wand is near. Hermione hates that she doesn’t have her wand in her hand. It’s in her bag. It’s in her bag and the steps that she needs to take to take out her wand from her bag are too many.  Her wandless magic isn’t good enough for a duel.

He finally turns to her and levels his grey eyes on her and says, clearly so Hermione remembers this conversation: ‘’Victory, dear girl, is the only thing that separates cheaters. Everyone cheats, but it’s just some who get caught and you’re supposed to learn from their example. Those who don’t are praised at how good they are at something. Numbers mean something to me.’’

Arithmancy genius. Hermione remembers her Arithmancy’s professor’s joy and reverence.

Hermione asks him about it. ‘’I hear you’re rather good at Arithmancy.’’

A smile quirks up and Hermione finds that it’s the first smile he’s given her that isn’t malicious or dangerous. ‘’I tinker with numbers and people. When you give people – their names to be more precise – a numerical value they become interesting patterns to track. Everyone has a pattern. I winged yours, I admit – as I did not know your full name. Hogwarts keeps these records hidden. But St. Mungo’s… oh St. Mungo’s can be bought. Their salaries are so very low.’’ Abraxas laughs joyfully.

Hermione’s neck hairs stand up at attention. She inches away from him and his hand seizes her wrist in a shockwave of a movement. ‘’Don’t.’’ He warns her, aiming his wand at her with his other hand. Hermione breathes in and asks him why she shouldn’t make a scene.

‘’Because Thoros is with your parents right now talking about the interstellar meaning in identity of chiaroscuro – or whatever else idiotism this entire painting and artistic nonsense means to you people.’’

Hermione inhales sharply. ‘’Why?’’

Abraxas winks. ‘’You’re a person of interest, Hermione.’’ Then, patronizingly he pats her head once. ’’Be a good dear now and stand up so I may apparate us.’’

‘’What about the Statute of Secrecy?’’

‘’Dear, we’re in an art gallery.’’ Abraxas deadpans. ‘’They’ll probably think it was some art trick.’’ And then he points to some people who discreetly wave. ‘’Besides, I’ve got obliviators with me.’’

Their faces are glamoured and Hermione can’t make them out. But they’re Death Eaters. This much she can understand.

She turns from Abraxas and tries to lunge out of his grasp, only for him to sadly sigh. He spells her immobile, holds her close, and they disapparate with a resounding and final crack.

Chapter Text

Welcome to Slytherin

 

Is a set of words hidden from view because Abraxas transfigures Hermione’s muggle clothes into fluorescent green long-sleeved robes and pushes her into a room in Malfoy Manor like he’s throwing down a sack of potatoes. Over his shoulder is her bag with her wand which he has no intention of giving her. In fact, he shrinks it and pushes it into his ostentatious robe’s pocket.

She falls on the hardwood floor and once she hits it finds that her ability to move is returned to her. Anger seeps into her brown eyes, but then it fades, knowingly when Abraxas Malfoy’s receding figure turns to close the oak door and lock her in.

A scream tears itself from past her lips, knocking her teeth into a chatter of fear and revulsion. It startles him and he seems to remember that she’s frequented St. Mungo’s for more serious reasons than a quidditch accident – so he lets the door open, but warns her if she leaves until he comes back that it won’t be she who will pay for such impertinence, but rather her family.

Hermione inhales and exhales shakily, nodding. Her magic shakes and her surroundings swim in an upside-down pool of tremors and Hermione’s memories.

A noise sounds behind them, from the corridor. It’s a hiss and one that Hermione sees chills Abraxas’ skin and makes his platinum hairs stand up.

’’Don’t –’’ Abraxas looks pained and conflicted, having not expected such chaos in her mind still, ’’Can you lock it?’’

’’Pardon?’’ Hermione looks at Abraxas Malfoy as if he’s daft. She doesn’t voice this, of course, but nonetheless she’s allowed to think it.

’’You being in this room is not to keep you here. Not only. It’s to keep people from coming in.’’ He steps closer to Hermione and she steps back, but he crosses that distance quickly, what with how tall he is. Hermione closes her eyes, closing off her mind from onlookers. Clear your mind. Clear your mind. Severus Snape’s teaching rings. She’s in enemy territory and she’s got to clear her mind. She doesn’t have anything of worth in her mind to be looked at – Hermione would understand why she’s been kidnapped if she were friends with Harry Potter, but seeing as she isn’t this is all confusing her.

’’Hermione,’’ Abraxas Malfoy’s voice sends a jolt of unbearable prickling up her arms and she lunges back and glares at him, finding enough power to siphon her anger into something meaningful, ’’your fear is misplaced.’’ He reads through her and knows that being angry is just another way of covering up being afraid. ’’I am not your enemy.’’

’’Then who is?’’

Abraxas ignores this. ’’I am doing all of this for your benefit.’’

’’Why?’’

’’You’re powerful.’’ Abraxas praises, but it’s also an explanation that Hermione’s too overwhelmed to figure out. ‘’I’ve suspected this since my grandson’s first letter detailing how much he can’t believe that an upstart mudblood like yourself can best the tiny Twenty-Eight. They’re so adorable, don’t you think?’’

Hermione thinks that Draco is many things and all of them a variant of the word annoying.

’’And?’’ Hermione snorts. ’’Are you recruiting mudbloods now?’’

‘’No.’’ Abraxas laughs even more and it sounds like primary school teachers laughing at Hermione whenever she would tell them she was being bullied and they would do nothing except tell her to play nicer next time.

’’Power attracts power.’’ Abraxas teaches and sits down on the bed. It dips with his added weight.  Hermione looks around the room and notes that it’s been cleaned recently to fit accommodating her. It’s plain how a guest room should be. It’s just a place to sleep. Out of her observations his voice drags her out and into listening to his monologue. ’’As a pureblood I know magic better than any mudblood. Don’t glare at me, child, it’s true and you know it. No matter how many books you read you will not understand it as fluidly or as familiarly as I.’’

’’Lies.’’ Hermione dares to interrupt. She knows things!

Abraxas smiles. She hates that he smiles. A person who wears a smile like this cannot be read. Hermione doesn’t know what he’s feeling or what he’s thinking or what he means to do next.

’’What do you know of soulmate bonds?’’

This is easy. Hermione recites as if reading from a textbook: ’’Once a soulmate is found the two will make a bond to signify their connection. Their magic will entwine in harmony and they will coexist –’’

’’You’re boring me to tears. Never become a professor. Also, do stop glaring at me, girl. It isn’t dignified. I don’t blame you for telling me this variation of soul bonds. This is all you know. Soul magic is arcane and all who believe in its domesticated power are foolish. It predates civilizations and Ministries and Statutes of Secrecy. It’s an integral part of society, but one everyone is shying away from. People nowadays think that soulmates are best friends or lovers or,’’ Abraxas gasps mockingly, clasping his hands together and looking up with a lovely, saccharine smile, ‘’muggle soulmates! Like the ones from the romance novels!’’

’’Tracey’s told me that they don’t have to be like that. You’re not telling me anything new.’’

He unclasps his hands to cross them and look at Hermione. ’’Tracey Davis? I know this girl. She has unfortunate parentage.’’ Abraxas’ nose wrinkles. ’’McNair’s found her family trying to escape to Iceland a few days ago, can you imagine? What a ghastly and sad sight that must have been.’’

Hermione startles herself by how fast she asks if they’re all right.

’’Of course. Madame Ophelia Fawley is a pureblood and her daughter is a halfblood. They’re all right and back at home. Without that mudblood to confuse them, naturally. In order to thank us for helping them with their little problem they’ve been kind enough to fund the movement. Malfoy money is plentiful, but really,’’ Abraxas shakes his head and nearly scoffs at how hilarious he finds this entire situation, as if he’s merely taking about a game he’s watched or a piece of art he’s not interested in, ’’I’m not going to pay for another war!’’

’’Tracey’s okay?’’ Hermione knows that you can’t be okay after this. But she asks because the idea of not asking is too damning.

’’Yes, Hermione, your friend is okay.’’

’’What about the Parkinsons and the Greengrass?’’

’’They would never dare run.’’ Abraxas’ voice drops in warning. ’’They’re bound here by duty.’’

Hermione’s stomach churns uncomfortably. She asks. ’’Could you continue explaining the soul magic?’’

’’I digress often, don’t I?’’ Abraxas laughs. He sounds like a court fool with how much he laughs. After his laugh dies down in the wake of Hermione’s silence he continues, urging Hermione to take a seat on a chair or the bed, not the floor. ’’I know you’re a mudblood, beneath my purity rightfully, but I am trying to have a conversation.’’

Hermione obliges by sitting in a chair and crossing her arms and legs as she watches, waiting.

’’Two souls unite when they find agreement in joining their beings. Only then will their union be prosperous and kind – this here is rather important. It’s what we all believe. Any pureblood will tell you that a soul bond cannot happen without both soulmates deciding to go on this journey of their own volition.’’

Hermione’s lungs fill with dread. ’’You aren’t going to tell me you’re my soulmate, are you?’’

He shakes his head and wheezes at how sickly Hermione’s looking at him. ‘’Goodness no! I met my soulmate and he died sometime in 1986 of an overdose. Like a proper American. I met him in 1968 when I’d gone to New Zealand. I found him irritating and wished him good riddance.’’

Nodding, slightly less frantic. ’’Then why am I here?’’

’’You must understand that I tried so very hard not to scare you –‘’ Hermione has half a mind of just conjuring small question marks to float around her head, ‘’or introduce myself until I was certain that I’d found you. It’s really you!’’

‘’It’s really me?’’ Hermione questions. ‘’What’s that supposed to bloody mean?’

Thank Merlin, Hermione thinks, the Malfoy doesn’t laugh. ‘’Truly you’re daft. I have your numbers in my mind, dear girl, and I know whose numbers you match. Not precisely as there is a … shift in numbers – but just as 2.5 can fit in a 5 so can a 5 fit in a 5! Or a 1.25! Or in our case 0.625! Wait… no, pardon. In my elation I’ve confused myself.’’ Then, for a moment he stops and goes over the math again in his head. ‘’100, 50, 25…12.5, 6.25…3.125, 1.5625…yes, oh dire times indeed! We are in dire straits, darling girl!’’

Hermione looks even more confused and worried that she’s going to be sacrificed to their pureblood god in a requiem of pain and suffering while they’re chanting and carving her with a kitchen knife. A blunt one, just to add on to the pain.

‘’Excuse me – but what on Earth do you possibly mean?’’

Abraxas groans and tugs at his hair how a hysteric person might in their last moments of coherency before taking up a wand and shooting anyone that doesn’t understand their genius might. ‘’There are so many ways of mangling one’s soul or changing it or adding to it. There is a ritual –’’ Abraxas coughs into his hand and snarls, angrily, at the magic surrounding his throat and pushing him to evade. ’’I am not allowed to say. But hear me, Hermione, that what you’ve read is so censored and badly translated I would not believe a single thing Hogwarts has taught you.’’

Trelawney’s words from Divination class ring in Hermione’s ears.

’’What do you think of Divination?’’

’’You don’t believe in that daft nonsense, do you, Hermione? Goodness, it’s all mindless. If I have to deal with another one of you divination apologists I will go and kill myself this instant!’’

Abraxas glances down at his wristwatch (there’s small snakes on it instead of the arms) and balks. He stands, quite abruptly, and says that he needs to leave right away. In his speed he seems to forget his promise because he goes to close the door.  Hermione stands to remind him not to, and seemingly to remember his promise, Abraxas tries to leave it open a smidgeon. Then the hissing sounds as if it’s closer and Abraxas takes off his wristwatch and throws it at Hermione to catch. When she does he tells her: ’’Time is non-existent in memories. Look at the watch whenever you think you’re trapped and if it shows you a different time it means you aren’t. I do apologize. I’ll send someone over with your dinner in a few!’’

And then he closes the door in Hermione’s face.

She clutches that watch to her chest and controls her breathing.

It’s the only thing she can do, isn’t it?


Hermione imagines that she’s in a faraway place with tropical plants and palm trees surrounding her. She closes her eyes and breathes carefully, because if she doesn’t then she’ll wake up from her calming exercises and she’ll bloody realise she’s been kidnapped –

And she’s awake.

Hermione opens her eyes and groans deeply, taking a pillow that’s probably more expensive than her entire house, and pressing it against her mouth to stifle her screams.


Draco Malfoy is an absolute fucking prick and Hermione will call him out on his family’s piss poor behaviour. He’s carrying a tray of food and looking like a wet ferret.

Hermione tosses the watch from one hand to the other and muses aloud: ’’What are you doing here?’’

’’I’m a child and I’m to be seen and not heard. Besides, what with how antsy everyone is out there I don’t mind being here, out of harm’s way.’’ Draco admits. He hands Hermione the tray of food and tells her that he’s made to sit with her for as long as it takes her to eat the food. Something about being a good host and taking care of their guest.

Hermione eats some of the fruit, ignoring the sandwich. It isn't exactly what she’s expected of Malfoy hospitality. She’s expected much more. ’’This is lacklustre.’’

’’Grandpa didn’t think you’d have an appetite. The fruit is really good.’’ Draco gestures the cherries and the watermelon slices. It’s seasonal fruit.

Hermione doesn’t have an appetite, but still. It’s nice to be offered.

She strolls over to the bed and plops down on it, groaning very loudly and for a commendably long time. She’s got a pair of lungs on her, all right. The more she groans the better she gets at the art of groaning.

Draco doesn’t know what to make of any of this. He tries to talk: ’’What happened?’’

’’I got kidnapped.’’

’’I’m certain they had a good reason for this.’’ Draco, too, doesn’t know what to make of his elders kidnapping a muggleborn.

’’Your grandfather is worse than You-Know-Who.’’

’’No,’’ Draco shudders, ’’he really isn’t.’’

Hermione raises her head and looks straight into Draco’s grey, but unequally as frightening eyes for a moment and sees. Weakness. A crack, deep, splinters off into his form when he spots Hermione moving towards him. She grabs hold of his hands and pulls him closer. ’’You’ve met him, then?’’

’’I’ve had the honour of being in his presence yes.’’

’’That’s such bullshit aristocratic answer.’’ Hermione pretends to throw up the little food she’s eaten today. She doesn’t want to think of her parents because to go down that road will lead to tears and she will not cry. She refuses to. She will not give them any satisfaction over rattling her.

 ’’You don’t know anything, mudblood.’’ Draco sneers and reminds Hermione of a snake with the threat of getting its head severed off looming above him. It’s not one of her better moments, and it’s the least kind moment she remembers having in a long time, but she goads him on further, taunting him.

Her trapped magic sizzles and his is just as trapped, but he’s got a wand which he aims at her. Hermione doesn’t stop. She wonders if he’ll hurt her. Her eyes stray to the wristwatch and the time is different – or is she imagining the time being different? Is the time just going because she wants it to – no. No. It’s all real. Hermione bares her teeth in a mocking smile and asks Draco if he’s going to cast a jelly-legs jinx at her? Because as far as magical capacity goes, that’s the most he can accomplish in her opinion

Hermione thinks he’s about to, because he raises his wand and goes halfway into a flick – when he lowers his wand and closes his eyes. Exhaustion doesn’t look good on him. ’’Aren’t you getting enough beauty sleep, Malfoy?’’

Draco is a person who’s annoying and a child.

Malfoy is a person who’s called her mudblood.

’’You still don’t know anything.’’

’’They’re holding my parents over my head, Malfoy. Who knows what they’re doing to them!’’

’’Yeah, but they aren’t making you watch.’’ Draco hisses. More loudly than acceptable. Well. Hermione looks at him. WELL.

’’Your mother?’’ Hermione doesn’t want anything bad to happen to Narcissa Malfoy. She’s become Hermione’s favourite Malfoy. Not that it’s hard what with how terrible all of the other Malfoys she’s encountered are.

Draco shakes his head and exhales softly. ’’My father. He punished him in front of everybody with –’’ He stops, because the words are too heinous to continue, ’’the cruciatus curse.’’

Hermione does stop at that. Whatever it is she’s wanted to say falls apart at the mention of the unforgivable. The spider from Not-Moody’s class lingers in her mind. She wonders what it’s like to watch someone who’s wronged you going through unimaginable pain. A voice inside Hermione’s head, the one that fuels her need to be the best to show everyone that she isn’t what they’re saying, that voice says: Well, I think it would be absolutely grand to watch Lucius Malfoy writhing in pain and begging to have the pain stop.

That’s a horrible notion and one that isn’t said in polite company, so Hermione stands up simply and gestures the door for Draco. ’’Your presence irritates me, Malfoy. The next time they force you to come here do bring me a book.’’

’’Any book?’’ Draco isn’t expecting this. He’s expected more taunts or even a physical confrontation, or a mocking sneer from the muggleborn. But they’re both prisoners, unequally, but still prisoners.

’’Any book.’’ Hermione is looking to ground herself and a book ought to help.

She looks out the window to her room and finds that she can’t find anything outside. It’s been charmed to just reflect a view. The same ought to apply from the other side. Abraxas Malfoy doesn’t want people to know he’s holding a muggleborn in his house. Dread pools in Hermione’s stomach at this. What reason would he have for this?

Draco leaves and closes the door. That click is the most terrible thing of this entire debacle. Hermione looks at his watch and notes that it’s old. On the other side there’s an inscription.

 

You are worth more than what your blood makes you believe, Abraxas. Happy 17th birthday.

 

It’s such a kind quote. Hermione runs a finger along the back of the wristwatch. When she turns it around the snake arms are looking at her now. Their little red eyes to be more specific. Hermione taps on them over the glass and tells them to stop that this instant. The eyes close and they return to being simple arms to tell the time.

Hissing is unnerving to listen to, but Hermione does hear it from time to time. There’s footsteps, too. Loud. Fast. The hissing differs in a melody of two different entities that do so. Hermione wonders if the Malfoys have snakes. She’s thought them to be peafowl people, really.

Only when the hissing grows quiet and distant does Hermione deign to move from her bed to the bathroom. She feels that any movement or rustle may alert the snakes outside.

It’s them, Hermione deduces, that she’s supposed to be grateful don’t come in through the locked and uninteresting guest room door.


Draco returns with a book about arithmancy. Hermione assumes correctly that it’s on Abraxas’ suggestion that she reads this book. How positively endearing, Hermione snorts and takes the book, already flipping through the contents to see what she’s up against. It’s more math than it is usual numerology. Fascinating. Hermione continues reading and Draco stands to the side in the room, feeling ignored and discarded. ‘’Pansy’s written me about you.’’

‘’Yeah?’’ Hermione’s hands tighten their hold on the book covers. It’s hardcover and it’s written by two people: A.H.M. and F.D.N. She will look into this more, but for now she gives Draco her full attention, placing the book on her lap.

‘’You’re a missing person.’’

‘’Already?’’

‘’Yes, already. Your parents are being watched, they’re not imprisoned as you seem to believe. They’ve filed a missing person’s claim with the muggle authorities and written all of your friends if they’ve seen you. Pansy is absolutely hysteric in her letter. Personally I’ve never seen her so worried.’’

It’s touching, but then it becomes quite horrifying.

Hermione Jean Granger is a missing person. Does she have a poster of herself? A little photograph on milk cartons?

Hermione giggles. Not to make light of the situation, simply because she doesn’t know what else to do. Draco furrows his brow when her giggling turns even harder and louder. He keeps glancing back to the door and asking her to be quiet because they can’t cast as many wards on this room as they would all like.

‘’Who are you bloody hiding me from?’’ Hermione sees her mother and father crying, holding each other and wondering what their daughter is going through, trying to justify this disappearance. ‘’Why have you even brought me here in the first place?’’ She clutches the wristwatch so hard it cracks. Next she throws it at Draco, whose quidditch reflexes get him to dodge.

‘’They don’t tell me things!’’

This she believes. Hermione knows that Draco’s the biggest bloody gossip of Slytherin.

Her hands curl and her hair curls with magic that seeps because her thoughts are abundant and none of them are good and her eyes spark and she thinks of how easy it would be to just punch Draco in the face again.

Draco, never truly being able to read the room, says something on Hermione’s expense or how she ought to be grateful to stay so long here as a guest and that it’s much better than staying with the muggles – and she’s charging him. He aims his wand at her, but she knocks him down on the hardwood floor and fights him, pushing his hand away from her, but he flips her after a moment and holds her in place, saying how this was a wrong move to make. And Hermione’s trying to kick him, but he’s got her pinned down and outmanouvered. Damn him. Damn him and his entire fucking Malfoy clan.

Hermione struggles to get free, as Draco’s panting heavily from exertion. ‘’You’re bloody unbelievable, Granger!’’

‘’Shut up!’’ She will fight until the very end.

‘’We’re all trying our best to make this as smooth as possible for you and you-‘’ Hermione tries to kick her leg from under him and kick him between his legs, but it won’t budge he’s a bloody athlete fuck him. She tries next, while Draco’s holding a monologue on hospitality, to rouse some of her wandless prowess. This is Draco Malfoy. He’s like the least intimidating Malfoy ever. If she can’t summon enough anger to fight him then, truly, she’s lost her edge.

The discarded book on Arithmancy levitates a few feet off of the ground. Draco keeps going on as Hermione tries to will it to hit Draco on the back of his head. His hands are holding her down and Draco tries to explain as carefully as possible that while he doesn’t know what they plan to do with Hermione that it won’t be anything untoward.

‘’I’M A MUGGLEBORN!’’ Hermione shouts. ‘’AND I’M IN A HOUSE FULL OF DEATH EATERS ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME RIGHT NOW, MALFOY?’’

‘’GRANGER, TRUST ME— IF THEY COULD HAVE THEIR WAY THEY WOULD TRY THEIR BEST TO NEVER MEET OR INTERACT WITH YOUR KIND!’’

‘’NO, THEY SEEK US OUT AND HUNT US FOR SPORT! I’VE READ ABOUT THE 18TH CENTURY, MALFOY, IT’S FULL OF BIGOTS CASTING CRUCIATUS CURSES AT CAPTURED MUGGLEBORNS SO LET’S NOT BLOODY ASSUME I’M SAFE!’’

‘’YOU THINK I’M SAFE?’’

‘’SAFER THAN I AM AT THE VERY LEAST!’’

‘’YOU DON’T KNOW ANYTHING, GRANGER! THE DARK LORD’S INSANE!’’

‘’OF COURSE HE’S INSANE, HE’S PROPAGATING PUREBLOOD SUPREMACY ANYONE WHO BELIEVES IN THAT CLAPTRAP IS INSANE!’’

‘’NO, NOT IDEOLGICALLY INSANE – FUCK – GRANGER – HE’S ACTUALLY INSANE! LIKE TRULY! WHAT LITTLE LUCIDITY HE HAD LEFT HE SQUANDERED WHEN HE WAS MEETING WITH POTTER!’’

That’s kind of a terrifying thought to realise that a very violent man is even more violent and uncoordinated with his thoughts and that the idea of lucidity and being mentally aware for him is to torture a child with the cruciatus curse and kill another near-child all while thinking that a duel between them is wholly fair.

This puts a lot of things into perspective and Hermione really wonders why she’s not just eloped with Viktor simply to save her own skin from this brewing war. But noooooo – Hermione wants to be sensible.

Fuck sensibility!

The book falls on Draco’s head and bounces off onto Hermione’s face and both of them are groaning in pain because it’s a thick bloody book and why.

Why are they such idiots? Why does Hermione act like a total fool when around Draco Malfoy’s punchable self?

It’s probably puberty.

Hermione refuses to become a slave to its nefarious manipulations everyone her age is forced to go through! She will only be a slave to cats and that’s final!

Hermione momentarily confuses Draco by screaming straight in his face, gets her hands free, and goes to push him off of her. But his magic attacks hers and since he’s on home ground his magic is assured that it will win. The windows break from their combined efforts.

‘’Nobody’s telling me shite!’’

‘’I’m stuck in a home whilst my father’s potential death is hanging over my head!’’

‘’Abraxas Malfoy keeps hinting at things I don’t understand!’’

‘’The dark lord keeps calling my mother Bellatrix and it is creeping me out what if he and Aunt Bella were involved and he tries to make a move on my mum? What in Merlin’s name can I even do against the most powerful wizard of all time?’

‘’That’s shite, Draco, and I’m really sorry you’re going through that. It must be really hard for you – BUT MY LIFE IS IN SHAMBLES AND I DON’T EVEN KNOW WHO TO BLAME!’’

‘’BLAME THE DARK LORD, HERMIONE!’’’

She’s pushing his face with her palm and he’s elbowing her stomach.

‘’I’VE NOT EVEN MET THE FUCKER SO FOR NOW ALL I’M GOING TO THINK UP ARE REVENGE PLOTS FOR WHEN I GET TO A POSITION WHERE I CAN MAKE YOUR GRANDFATHER SORRY FOR LITERALLY KIDNAPPING ME! WHAT AM I? ONE OF THOSE KIDNAPPING VICTIMS WHOSE CASES PEOPLE WATCH ON LATE NIGHT TELLY? DRACO, IS THIS WHAT I’VE BECOME?!’’

They yell and their magic slams doors and turns on taps with water running at the hottest setting and the mirror in the bathroom falls and shatters and they don’t hear the approaching hissing from behind the guest room door. Much alike how loud teenagers never hear the echoing footsteps of a parent on the hunt.

Hermione flips Draco so he’s beneath her, but this just makes his magic attack hers harder. And at this point they’re both just trying to what little control they have in an uncontrollable situation the adults in their lives have thrown them into- because if they really wanted to hurt each other they already would have. And Hermione knows it wouldn’t be pretty to look at.

Draco comments on her poor physical strength and says that she ought to exercise. ‘’You know, just do things that aren’t reading.’’

‘’I duel!’’ Hermione does and she refuses to take advice from Draco Wind Knocked Me Off A Broom Once Malfoy. ‘’You’re a twig!’’

‘’That was ONE time!’’

‘’One time too many, I’d say.’’

‘’Shut up,Granger!’

‘’Bugger off, Malfoy!’’

Hermione snags her hand and rips a piece of Draco’s robe off. His magic slices her hair up and at this point, Hermione realises, they aren’t watching what they’re doing. When she takes hold of his robe where a muggle man’s lapels may be she clutches at this part with all of her strength and her magic helps her rip this part off.

A snitch is over his heart.       

Draco’s magic recedes into his form finally and he realises that – oh they may have gone a little too far. Because now he’s compromised.

Hermione grins widely. She looks at the snitch and looks up at Draco and asks, very playfully: ‘’My, Draco, when did this appear?’’

‘’None of your bloody business!’’ He jumps off of her as if burned by her mere presence.

Hermione doesn’t take it to heart. What she does is smile even wider. ‘’Draco, dear pal!’’ She hungrily takes this in because this is information. Information Draco doesn’t want to broadcast. ‘’I’ll show you mine if you show me yours~!’’

Draco’s cheeks are flushed red. He moves to the broken window and wonders if anyone has heard them. He knows his grandpa has put many wards around the place to let only those he allowed into the room, but they must have made so much noise. His wand has rolled from under the bed so he crouches to try and get it. Has to crawl halfway in.

They’ve got their backs turned to the door.

The water still continues to drip from the bathroom and Hermione makes no move to turn it off. Let the Malfoy water bill rise! Let their bills accumulate, Hermione will pettily let this continue.

Hermione steps on Draco’s leg and asks him to tell her about his soulmark. ‘’Come on, Draco, who would I tell?’’ She wonders who it could be. From her limited understanding of quidditch the snitch is the ball Seekers like Draco have to catch. She lists off Seekers in her head. Viktor, Draco, that Ravenclaw girl, that Hufflepuff boy who looks like can’t hurt a fly, and Harry Potter.

Oh MY!

Hermione clasps her hands together and gasps in sheer and utter delight. ‘’Draco, do you think your soulmate’s Harry Potter?’’

Draco hits his head from under the bed and curses at that. The thought, it seems, may have crossed his mind.

‘’Pretty fucked up if he is your soulmate.’’ Hermione lets the thought linger between them. She eases up on his leg and lets him crawl back from under the bed. There’s some cobwebs in his hair. He gets rid of them and looks at Hermione pleadingly, begging her not to say anything.

‘’I don’t know if he is or if he isn’t my soulmate, okay.’’ Draco rubs his hands together and his voice is much smaller than in their previous conversation. Hermione thinks of so many ways to exploit this and the Malfoy in front of her. She can hold this over his head and dangle it in his Death Eater infested home until something terrible happens to him for such treasonous a soul inside his body – her elation dissipates and her shoulders flop. That wouldn’t be kind of her, would it?

Hermione isn’t that kind of person.

‘’Apologise to me.’’ Hermione orders.

‘’For what?’’ Draco blinks.

Hermione’s eyes widen and she opens her mouth to remind him of his slur-throwing ways when the door clicks open.

And Draco’s face goes paler.

Hermione turns around and two crimson eyes peer at her from the door. She freezes on sight, but the eyes seem to be staring through her, more than at her. When the presence moves to be fully inside the room, Hermione sees that a snake is coiled around his body like a shawl.

The very first thing Hermione thinks when she sees Lord Voldemort in the flesh is that he doesn’t look nearly as snake-like as she’s been led to believe by listening to the Hogwarts Rumour Mill. Where are the scales, Potter, huh – you traumatized liar you! Where?!

‘’Draco,’’ the voice is so absolutely quiet and calm, another person may have even described it as soft-spoken, ‘’I was looking for you.’’ He intrudes into Hermione’s room (cell, whatever) and grabs hold of Draco’s wrist to take him outside, ignoring Hermione completely. The snake looks at Hermione and hisses. Lord Voldemort hisses at the snake and he disembarks with Draco. ‘’You must tell me everything you know about Harry Potter. Your father has told me you know many things about him.’’ The voice turns up in volume and it’s like watching someone grow more and more hysteric as the words pass between each breath, ‘’if he cannot be killed by normal means I must know everything about him.’’

Those inhuman eyes, when they level on Draco, are hazed over and one-tracked. ‘’You will tell me everything you know about him- no detail is excessive or unimportant enough for me. Do you understand? If I command you to tell me Harry Potter's favourite colour you are to do so at once, am I clear?’’

Draco nods. His Adam’s apple fearfully bobs. The snake coils slowly around Lord Voldemort and trails down towards Hermione. She takes a few steps back, but the snake continues to go towards her. It hisses again. This time Lord Voldemort doesn’t hiss back. His fingers twitch briefly as he’s speaking to Draco, as do his eyes. When he speaks he speaks with only one goal in mind. It appears that he hasn’t even noticed Hermione’s presence. Hermione hopes that this continues. She’s unimportant. She needs to stay low. Hermione thinks that she doesn’t even breathe.

‘’Your father has disgraced himself and your entire family, Draco. You must rectify this. Where he has failed me you must not. Do you understand this?’’ The grip he has on Draco must be painful because Draco’s face twists in pain and he nods, acquiesces his lord’s demands. He pats him on the cheek then, all while holding his white wand firmly. ‘’Good boy. Let us leave now. Nagini, come here.’’

Nagini the snake hisses and this time it sounds very demanding for a snake. In fact, it sounds more like an order. The hiss that comes from Voldemort then is apologetic as he crouches down to pick her up. When she settles neatly on his shoulders she closes her eyes to doze off.

Lord Voldemort briefly glances at the state of the room, the tap water running, the broken window, the pieces of Hermione’s hair that are on the floor, Draco’s torn up robe and all he has to say is: ‘’I sure hope you two were going to cast a contraceptive charm.’’

Draco and Hermione have never been more appalled than they have in that moment.

Chapter Text

Welcome to Slytherin

 

Is a set of words that the Death Eaters are obviously trying to avoid looking at, but nonetheless they glance enough at them to read the entirety of it because it’s summer and Hermione’s got her robe sleeves pushed up. Every time they read the letters they squint. Suspiciously. Like what they’ve read makes zero sense to them. They look around each other for comfort and if one of them hasn’t seen Hermione’s words the ones who have glance in Hermione’s direction in general and kind of just gesture non-verbally for this person to take a look at Hermione’s words.

Lord Voldemort himself has asked Abraxas where Draco’s amour is (Hermione is gagging just as loudly as Lucius Malfoy) and ever since that comment Hermione is being wine and dined by the Death Eaters, and the Malfoys, and the Dark Lord. Though, luckily, the Dark Lord is more of a shut-in, himself, and doesn’t get out of his wing in Malfoy Manor unless he wants to devise another plan to defeat Potter (’’Abraxas, I’ve devised an ingenious plan!’’ ’’Yes?’’ ’’We shall drop him from unseemly heights – his head will crack so beautifully!’’ ’’That sounds like a marvellous idea, mon chou, but could you perhaps think of more until we’ve eaten – the mind does not work well on an empty stomach.’’ ’’Yes, of course. Thank you for your counsel.’’ ’’What are confidants for~!’’)

Not a Knight, then. Hermione catches glimpses of Abraxas Malfoy giving looks and orders to Death Eaters discreetly out of the corner of her eye. No, a Knight wouldn’t dare go against their King. But this is a Confidant.

What things have you got to do, Hermione muses when she sees Abraxas telling a joke to Voldemort and getting him to laugh, in order to become Lord Voldemort’s confidant? His most trusted advisor?

The present Death Eaters, from Hermione’s understanding, are the ones who have all avoided Azkaban. They’re the rich, the less implicated, and the ones closest to seeing the madness in their lord. A man named Lord Zephyr Avery (he has made it plainly clear that only his friends are to call him Zephy) furrows his brows uncomfortably when Lord Voldemort hisses at the Death Eaters and expects them to understand what he’s just told them in parseltongue.

A guiding hand whispers to him: ’’My lord, for the slow ones,’’ Narcissa Malfoy’s voice has a cadence of unbelievable, yet unwavering calm, ’’could you go over that once more?’’

’’Bellatrix,’’ Lord Voldemort turns towards Narcissa and she salutes him, playing her part how a familiar nurse might for a patient with Alzheimer’s, ’’how can I ever deny you?’’

When he tells the Death Eaters the plan again, this time he does so in the Queen’s English, thank you very much. The relieved and grateful glances the men shoot Narcissa speak for themselves.

Lord Voldemort doesn’t speak to Hermione and she doesn’t get in his line of vision long enough for him to even notice her. From her limited understanding, Lord Voldemort only cares for Harry Potter’s demise. This is good, she thinks. But then when someone suggests that they have something that may be of interest to the Dark Lord that doesn’t pertain to Harry Potter – Hermione thinks that it’s not good – it’s not good at all. A rapid flash of currant lodges itself deep into the form of the Death Eater and when he falls down he screams so potently, so deliriously, so pleadingly that Hermione thinks that none of this is good.

Lucius and Hermione have plenty of things in common. They spend their day to day lives avoiding Lord Voldemort as best as they can. Narcissa’s presence soothes them both and that’s an odd thing to say. Hermione thinks that if she continues spending time at this mad house she’s going to be the one putting the moves on Draco’s mum and not the ruddy Dark Lord. If Draco calls her mudblood one more time she’s going to initiate operation Narcissa, dignity be damned.


Thoros Nott slips up one day in front of Hermione and says that Daphne’s inconsolable. ’’I didn’t even know she knew half of the spells she’d sent flying at my Theo.’’

’’What’d he do?’’

’’He simply said that you would turn up safe and sound and that it did her no good to cry or miss you. My boy has always been pretty pragmatic.’’

’’And dense.’’ Hermione shrugs. ’’I mean he has no idea how a girl works.’’

’’No man, no matter his inclinations, has any idea how the fairer sex operates.’’

’’I would think with a scalpel and a degree.’’

Hermione thinks that Thoros Nott looking at her like his life has taken strange and unwanted turns is exactly how Theodore Nott has looked at her in First Year when his life has taken strange and unwanted turns by being in the presence of what both father and son call a mudblood.


There are plenty of attacks happening across the squib neighbourhoods.

It’s ridiculously morbid to be privy to the attacker’s perspective, though.

Lord Voldemort paces, barefoot, around the room the marked men have found themselves in. Narcissa is there because no meeting is ever a proper meeting without his Right Hand Woman. He passes by the tense men and taps his white wand (yew, Hermione learns) against his palm and reminds of a professor lecturing unruly boys. Except the stakes are higher and speaking out of turn leads to the cruciatus, and not simple corporal punishment. Though, doesn’t the cruciatus curse attack the corporal form, too? Hermione thinks of finding some books to read about the dark arts, might as well. There are so many people here who could correct her form and wand movement. The book of Arithmancy collects dust in her guest room cell because Hermione really doesn’t want to think about math. And besides she’s cracked that A.H.M. is actually Abraxas Hyperion Malfoy and she doesn’t want to raise that man’s ego needlessly.

The painting of Abraxas Hyperion Malfoy is a joy to be around. Because, she finds out from Narcissa Malfoy, the fucker’s high on cocaine.

‘’It’s the sixties!’’ The painting raises his hands in the air and flails about. He’s wearing a robe so multicolour and painful to look at that Hermione’s forced to make eye-contact instead. The man’s glazed over grey eyes are so bright, but unclear, that Hermione offers no proper description.

‘’It’s actually 1995.’’

‘’No! It isn’t!’’

‘’Yes, it is.’’

‘’It’s 1966!’’

Hermione stands rooted in place as she watches the painting of Abraxas Malfoy wiggling about in the frame and singing so loudly that the other paintings of his ancestors tell him to shut up.

It’s so strange to see genuine smiles from this man for a change. Guess he can’t fake them when he’s out of his mind.

‘’What’s your name?’’

‘’Hermione.’’

‘’Your full name, darling girl!’’

Hermione decides to humour this painting so she comes up and whispers: ‘’Hermione Jean Granger.’’

Abraxas looks up, deep in thought. Not half a minute later he exclaims, overjoyed, hands clasped together: ‘’IT’S YOU!’’

‘’What do you mean by that?’’ Hermione knows she will not get any answers from the real Abraxas Malfoy, so this painting shall suffice.

The painting leans forward, trying to glance in every direction – Hermione doesn’t know how any of this magic paint works – and when satisfied he yells out (Hermione is convinced this man has no indoor voice): ‘’YOUR NUMBERS ARE COMPLEMENTARY! Your magic is powerful, darling, the potential alone! Oh,’’ Abraxas’ painting swoons, ‘’who would have thought it would be a mudblood – unless, of course, you’re related to that Dagworth-Granger – no need to glare, dear girl, it’s fine if you aren’t. More enticing, if you will.’’ Then he continues speaking in French.

Hermione backs away slowly.

But, back to the meetings!

Hermione and Draco are forced to witness these meetings solely because Lord Voldemort is convinced that Hermione is Draco’s fiancée (he can’t fathom sex outside of marriage, it seems and that’s rather unprogressive of him, but what can you do when one’s indoctrinated in the pureblood ways of living?) and that on top of that – both Draco and Hermione wish to become Death Eaters. Basically the Dark Lord thinks they’re interns.

Lord Zephyr Avery glances over to Thoros Nott who briefly shares a look with Abraxas Malfoy who has his head in his hand as he’s watching this hurling tumbleweed that’s been set not only on fire, but has had its fire insurance taken away for good measure.

’’We shall attack Richard Skeeter!’’ Lord Voldemort, after brainstorming for a few minutes, has come up with a brilliant idea that by the looks of his crimson eyes excitedly scanning the room – he bloody well expects to be cheered on for.

Hermione doesn’t want to expose herself so she’s not about to start clapping. Now she’s the one that glances at Zephyr Avery who avoids looking at her lest he catch her mudblood disease. Hermione really wishes she can inflict diseases upon people, at the very least it would be fun and have these purebloods something concrete to bring to the table of their prejudice misguidance.

Abraxas claps pro forma. Voldemort turns to him as if to say: Ah, yes, I can always count on you.

But then his eyes latch onto Abraxas’ bare wrist and he asks where his wristwatch is.

’’It’s broken.’’ Abraxas says.

As they’re speaking a peacock saunters into the room, followed by a few more. The ringleader is albino and nestles at Abraxas’ feet, not minding for Voldemort’s presence. Voldemort even leans forward to pet it. The other ones caw for attention and they’re encircling them all.

’’I thought these wacky birds were tossed outside?’’ McNair asks. If smiles could kill, McNair would be dead at the smile Abraxas gives him.

Draco explains to Hermione that the albino is Abraxas’ familiar and that the other peahens and peacocks she may catch sight of around Malfoy Manor are all just a hobby. ’’If you so much as accidentally stepped on one I don’t think there’s a god capable of saving you from grandpa’s ire.’’

Hermione nods. If anyone hurt Crookshanks she’d kill them without missing a beat.

Back to the topic at hand: ’’What do you mean your wristwatch is broken?’’

Abraxas, for all his misgivings, isn’t a rat. For this bare minimum Hermione commends him. ’’It just broke.’’

’’But that’s impossible I enchanted it.’’

’’Yes, in 1944. It’s bound to get broken after such a time.’’ Abraxas has taken the albino peacock into his own lap now and is petting the crooning bird gently.

’’But... this is impossible. Abraxas, how?’’

Abraxa shrugs, pretending that he has no idea what to say. Hermione wonders if this is true, this statement of Lord Voldemort’s or if it’s just a product of a fragmented mind. Mental illness isn’t a topic to make light of and she really hopes someone gets this man a healer. But knowing Lord Voldemort she’d just ask him about his mother and he’d kill her on sight. Later, Hermione will learn more about Lord Voldemort’s past and realise what an absolute mess his mother is. Talk about desperate and inhumane!

Lord Voldemort has forgotten wholly about the Death Eater meeting he’s called together. Crabbe Sr nudges Goyle Sr and they try to gesticulate their way into wondering what’s going on. It’s not going well for them. They’re trying their best though, and Hermione thinks that at the end of the day that’s all they can do.


Draco is actually really good at gathering intel, which is hilarious when you think a little bit about the background of gaining such a skill. Literally it’s all just stalking Potter.

Hermione crosses her arms and watches, yet again, how Voldemort drags Draco along with him to tell him about Harry Potter’s weaknesses. Nagini follows them, but she does hiss at Hermione and Hermione’s starting to think that just how cats (once they’ve sensed fear) hiss at people so does Nagini hiss at Hermione to draw out a reaction.

Narcissa and Lucius look so worried. Hermione wants to tell Lucius that this is what he gets for sending Diaries to kill and torture young girls, but doesn’t because she’s become one of those people who actually want to be respected by Narcissa Malfoy and that’s just a low blow for everyone.

Abraxas has ushered away the less important Death Eaters. The ones who have only ever been Death Eaters, and have never been gifted the title of Knight.

Thoros and Lord Zephyr Avery (because the bugger glares whenever addressed as Mr. and Hermione will never stop snubbing the rich if she can bloody well help it so whenever they interact she calls him Mr. Zephy) remain in the halls of Malfoy Manor. They’re armed and well equipped with information to placate their lord whenever he gets lost and whispers lines from Shakespeare’s plays.

They follow up to make sure that nothing extremely dangerous or uncoordinated happens as Lord Voldemort is interrogating Draco. Who, it seems, has gotten used to this.

(’’What does the Dark Lord ask you to do?’’ ’’He just really wants to kill Potter. I think he’s got a crippling lack of self-worth because of his inability to do so.’’ ’’I rather think he’s got a crippling sense of madness thrust upon him that he really should have looked at by a professional, but whenever I mention this all of you – yes – you do that – you squirm!’’ ’’It’s not something you say so bluntly, Granger...’’ ’’Peh.’’)

Abraxas has led them to a drawing room and summoned the good port from the elves.

’’How are you enjoying Malfoy Manor, dear girl?’’

Hermione refuses to say anything because Abraxas Malfoy is smiling very widely at her and offering her a drink like a good host. ’’Wine?’’

’’No thank you.’’ Hermione declines.

’’Why?’’ Abraxas sips the wine straight from the bottle because it’s his manor and he will be damned if he lets anyone bully him into being proper in his own four very tall and very richly made walls.

Hermione, who’s been kidnapped from her family and led to believe that they’re being watched by her captors in case Hermione doesn’t obey their rules, has this to say: ’’For some reason I’m not in the mood.’’

’’Women.’’ Abraxas shrugs without a care. He continues drinking from the bottle which he’s charmed to be feather-light.

Narcissa comments on this as poor behaviour. Abraxas retorts: ’’Sh-shut up, Bellatrix!’’

’’I fail to understand how he’s not mentioned the different hair colour.’’ Narcissa wonders. She explains to Hermione that her sister has the Blackest hair of the three sisters. ’’Two, technically. As one’s been disowned.’’

’’That’s horrid.’’

Narcissa summons a glass of wine in her hand and sips. Hers is white wine. Lucius doesn’t drink, he glances up to the room Lord Voldemort occupies and drags Draco to for information.

’’I’m worried for our son, Cissa.’’ Narcissa squeezes his hand and Hermione finds that touching, all in all. Then she needs to only remember that she’s lost months of time that she will NEVER have back and thinks that Lucius deserves every worry.

’’I don’t.’’ Abraxas tells the parents that they’re being ludicrous. ’’Draco’s perfectly safe.’’

Then a potent scream sounds from above and Narcissa stands first and strides (because ladies don’t run) towards the stairs, having taken her wand out and brandished it for use. Lucius, Abraxas, and Hermione are at the bottom of the stairs when they see Thoros and Draco emerging from around the corner. The older wizard pushes Draco to run to his parents and says that there’s been a slight accident.

The screaming continues.

Hermione believes that she is going to lose her mind if this continues. This nagging feeling that if she slips up for even a second she may be next.

’’What is the situation?’’ Abraxas inquires.

Lord Zephyr Avery screams and Nagini hisses and Lord Voldemort is either talking in tongue or speaking French. It is very hard to tell.

’’Complex.’’ Thoros doesn’t know how to describe it. There’s always the epitaph Batshit Crazy, but that’s not something that any of the present parties are fully ready to give to their Lord.

’’Well is he a raving lunatic going on and on about how he’s going to skin Dumbledore and feed his remaining skin to Harry Potter while making him watch his friends and family all die or is he telling people references from the Hobbit and being mad that neither of you caught on because, Thoros, those are vastly different moods.’’

’’Avery interrupted his poetry recital. I do believe he’s begun reciting Baudelaire now in protest. Better than Poe, in any case.’’

’’I see. His mind is getting worse with each passing moment.’’ Abraxas solemnly nods.

’’Pardon?’’ Hermione wonders if she’ll get some insight into this world she’s found herself captive in.

Abraxas hands her the bottle of wine. ’’I would drink this if I were you, I really would.’’

’’What’s wrong with Baudelaire?’’ Narcissa has always been fond of the classics. A classy lady like herself would be. Gods, Narcissa is so perfect.

Thoros shrugs.

’’Is he reciting the queer poetry or the mainstream shite?’’ Abraxas has little patience for artists. But queer themes may get a pass.

’’I do believe it was the one about the carcass.’’

’’Ugh. That one’s so bloody maudlin.’’ Abraxas springs up the stairs and tells Thoros to mind Hermione while he deals with his spousal duties.

’’You aren’t married.’’ Thoros is quick to remind. Lest he become in service of two mentally incomprehensible individuals.

’’Might as well be.’’ Abraxas calls out. He goes to face the most powerful dark wizard of Britain who flings cruciatus curses left-right giddily. With a spring to his step, even.

’’They’re together?’’ Hermione squints her eyes. Draco gives Hermione a look. It’s one of those looks Hermione doesn’t like receiving at all because they’re condescending and how dare MALFOY be condescending towards her. She’s like the greatest mind of Hogwarts and let it be known for the record that interpersonal relationships disinterest her. She’s got Millie to keep an eye out for those for her. Except, well, now she doesn’t. She misses Millie.

’’I believe it’s the only reason why we’re alive.’’ Lucius whispers.

Thoros asks for an elf to get him a glass of firewhisky. ’’With plenty of ice.’’

Hermione can respect a man who knows his own limit.

Draco points to the near-empty bottle of wine Hermione’s still holding and asks her if she’s become an alcoholic in the meantime. Hermione takes a swig of the wine and says, imitating the hardened criminals who have served time for decades: ’’It’s the only thing that helps me fall asleep at night.’’

The expression on the baby aristocrat’s face is priceless and Hermione commits it to memory. She hands him the wine bottle and tells him to have at it.

Narcissa hugs Draco. Lucius follows suit.

Hermione finds that while watching this family of Slytherins embracing, she finally understands the words Green Envy.


Hermione finds out that it’s August and that her letter ought to be arriving soon and if it does arrive she’s going to laugh herself silly when it says Malfoy Manor, This Specific Room Set Aside For Prisoners.

When it does arrive Abraxas hands it over to her and says something that makes Hermione’s interest in the going-ons in this house flare. ‘’I suppose I should stop dallying.’’

It’s addressed to Wiltshire. Hermione blinks and mouths: ‘’Wiltshire?’’ Because it’s just ew, Wiltshire. She looks at Abraxas and deadpans: ‘’You live in Wiltshire!’’

‘’Yes.’’

Hermione rolls her eyes and tries to stifle her sheer lack of respect for Wiltshire.

‘’I’ve been held prisoner in Wiltshire!’’ Hermione’s face scrunches up terribly at the mental image of her trying to get people to take her seriously by telling them that she’s spent her kidnapped existence stuck in Wiltshire. Oh the horror! The agony!

Abraxas takes Hermione’s letter and tells her that he shall have Draco and Narcissa take care of her list of things.

‘’So I’m going to Hogwarts?’’ Hermione’s shoulders uncurl from the stressful rigidity they’ve been held the entire time. Her eyes fill with hope.

‘’Of course. I’ll be finished with your services by then.’’

How Abraxas Malfoy gets Hermione swept up in a flurry of happiness all to dash it with a stone of fearful anticipation in only two sentences eludes Hermione.


Hermione, now that she’s literally met Lord Voldemort, has no need to keep the doors locked. But that means that uninvited guests take this as a sign of Enter Please I’m So Terribly Bored.

At the foot of her bed is a fucking snake.

Not just any snake, no~

It’s Nagini the snake! The serpent of Lord Voldemort – the dazzling lizard who lazes about and has a contentious relationship with the peafowls. They scare her, Hermione’s noticed on a few occasions that they rally together to peck at her and she hisses at them in anger. You can take a snake only so far.

Oh god oh god oh god she’s slithering closer.

Hermione has half a mind of screaming, but if she screams does she have enough patience to deal with metaphoric SNAKES on top of a literal SNAKE?

Nagini nestles nearby Hermione. She curls into a ball and she’s pressing her cool body against Hermione’s. Hermione glances at the snake and when the snake hisses has just a mighty, human urge to cry – but then Nagini nudges her head into Hermione’s hand.

And Hermione gasps in understanding.

Because she’s a cat person!

And she knows that cats are absolute fiends who demand to be pat when they want to be pat, no matter the fear or inconvenience of others!

Nagini lifts her head and hisses at Hermione.

Hermione’s petting skills are rusty. She’s not gone near an animal since she’s last held Crookshanks. Nagini is an esteemed and classy lady who can bite her hand off if she so pleases. But she doesn’t. Nagini even melts at the touch when Hermione gently (so, so gently) runs a hand across her scaly companion.

At one point Nagini just decides that being by Hermione’s side isn’t enough. Then she decides to sleep on top of Hermione’s stomach. Hermione doesn’t comment on the weight of the snake because it’s rude and she doesn’t want to get bitten. If snakes could purr… though…

Lord Voldemort finds them like that.

Hermione thinks that this is how she’s going to die. You don’t just pet a man’s snake, she imagines is going through Voldemort’s mind. He hisses. Nagini hisses back. Hermione stops petting Nagini, but then you hear really pissed off hissing coming from Nagini. Lord Voldemort leaves them, beaten and berated by a snake.

At Nagini’s lonely hiss she returns to petting her.

She’s not nearly as slimy as Hermione has secretly expected.


Nagini makes a habit of seeking Hermione’s affection publicly and Abraxas keeps trying to get Voldemort to do something about it, but all the man has to say: ‘’Nagini can think for herself, Abraxas. You try telling a wilful veteran to do something.’’

‘’A what now?’’

Nagini is apparently not a snake, but a woman who so happens to be in form of a snake.

Also she’s fought in a war against Gellert Grindelwald and everyone should respect her sacrifice.

Abraxas begins to fear that Lord Voldemort’s sanity is truly slipping.


Hermione catches Abraxas rummaging through a room hidden behind a painting of a charming man who looks identical to Abraxas Malfoy, except he’s got a little mustache. The kind Dali would really want for himself.

Beneath the painting there is a small plaque with a name: Hyperion Aurelius Malfoy. Hermione mentally begins addressing him as HAM. Whenever she eats something with ham she’s going to snicker knowingly.

HAM yells encouragement at Abraxas and calls him son. Abraxas snaps his fingers and winks at his father painting.

‘’Nice robe, son!’’

Abraxas is wearing a robe made out of peacock feathers. It looks awful.

‘’Thank you, dad!’’

Abraxas fidgets slightly in place as he’s doing an elaborate dance with a painting …for fuck’s sake can this man get any weirder? He dangles a golden locket that looks old as he’s trying to pivot on his heel.

Hermione turns around and tries to find Nagini because if she’s with Nagini nobody comes near her to talk to her.

Voldemort just comes by sometimes to take Nagini, but he doesn’t really find Hermione stimulating company. She catches him whispering quotes that she knows are lifted from Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland.

Nagini lovingly nuzzles against him and Hermione’s not a home-wrecker damn it all. If Lord Voldemort wants his snake person friend mom back she’s not going to fight for custody. She’s going to do the reasonable thing and let it go.

But until Lord Voldemort deigns to appear Hermione’s going to sunbathe outside with Nagini in the garden. It’s so much easier not to be afraid of Nagini when she knows that she’s actually a person trapped to look like a snake.


Hermione catches Severus Snape in Malfoy Manor as he’s listing off potion ingredients to a furiously scribbling Thoros Nott.

‘’What’s this for, Nott? I can’t in good moral conscience let you make this concoction, unless it’s for a good cause.’’

Thoros Nott levels his eyes on Snape, leans forward to answer, but then Hermione accidentally makes the stairs leading down to the potion’s lab creak and Thoros zips his mouth shut on such matters.

Severus turns around and balks. ‘’Miss Granger?’’

Hermione waves. ‘’Hello, professor.’’

‘’Your little girl gang has sent me howlers.’’

‘’They’re like that, sir.’’

‘’How are you?’’ He asks for her mind and Hermione shrugs and says that’s she’s found petting war veterans a relaxing activity.

Thoros Nott actually snort-laughs. Those are the best kind of laughs. Severus looks back at the older man and shames with his mighty Snape sneer.

‘’What are you doing here?’’ Hermione asks. Though, Snape is a Death Eater and she really shouldn’t be surprised.

‘’Things beyond your scope of understading.’’

‘’Now that wasn’t condescending at all.’’

‘’Sir.’’

‘’I do believe the correct nomenclature for a woman is Ma’am, professor.’’

Thoros has become Hermione’s favourite. He has to bite his lips to stop himself from laughing.

The door to the potion’s lab opens and when light hits them all they hiss in retribution and pain. Abraxas Malfoy commands Hermione to leave and find someone else to bother. ‘’Zephyr is nearby. Tell him about your communist manifesto, why don’t you?’’

Hermione’s about to tell him many things about how communism isn’t a viable way of life, but that socialism is definitely implementable when she spots that the old golden locket is wound a bunch of times around his wrist. She asks after it. ‘’What is that?’’

This is the first time that Abraxas Malfoy actually answers a question of hers and Hermione knows not to take this moment lighty. He opens the locket and shows her that it’s got some hair locks in it.

‘’Is that my hair?’’ Hermione doesn’t want to know where her cut hair has gone.

‘’Unless your hair existed in the 1950s, I don’t think it’s yours.’’ Abraxas shakes his head. The hair is a tad lighter than hers anyhow. ‘’I need it for a potion.’’ Turning to the Knight. ‘’Thoros, I told you I had it!’’

‘’You’re like a crow.’’ Thoros calls Abraxas out on his life choices. ‘’You just accumulate trinkets without an end in sight!’’

‘’Ha!’’ Abraxas points at the man triumphantly. ‘’I told you that it would all come in handy one day!’’

Snape and Hermione, as the youngest there, find this a deplorable showing of what age can turn a person into. They both make a pact then, just by looking at each other with sheer disgust, that they’re going to die young.


Hermione asks Snape if he can tell the girls that she’s alive. Snape scoffs and tells her that, of course, he can’t do that – what does she take him for – the nerve of this girl – but strangely enough he does wink and Hermione thinks that her Head of House might just be an all right person.


Draco is forced to hold Hermione’s hand one time and Hermione thinks that she’s going to need disinfectant charms STAT.

Oh the woes of their fake relationship.

The Dark Lord tells Draco he’s got a rather funny looking fiancée. Whatever the fuck that may mean.

Draco kisses Hermione’s hand and says: ‘’My lord, you’ve got no idea.’’

Hermione thinks that she’s going to cut off her own hand and replace it with a prosthetic. This is too much Draco contact. Egad.


Hermione’s beginning to think that Nagini solely seeks Hermione out because she’s got the most experience petting mean looking creatures. She misses Crookshanks.

Nagini, that empathetic lady, has a sense for sadness and whenever she feels Hermione growing sad she just nudges her a lot. It’s rather sweet of her. This is a good snake. Nothing this snake does can make Hermione hate –

And NAGINI IS CAPABLE OF EATING A PERSON!

ALL RIGHT!

OKAY!

HERMIONE BEGINS SPELLING THE DOOR AGAINST SNAKES THAT VERY NIGHT. 


‘’Well, McNair’s dead.’’ Thoros whispers one afternoon over tea.

‘’Digested.’’ Abraxas is making Irish tea.

‘’Deceased.’’ Zephyr tries for some semblance of respect.

‘’The man’s been digested, let’s call it what it is.’’ Abraxas’ word is final.


Lord Voldemort looks at Narcissa Malfoy for a long time one morning over breakfast. He narrows his crimson eyes. It’s not a good look on him. Abraxas sits Hermione closer to the Dark Lord this time and doesn’t explain why. She accidentally elbows him as she’s trying to navigate the silverware. He jolts at that and Hermione thinks that this is it, this is how she dies. But he blinks and turns to look at Narcissa.

Narcissa doesn’t say anything. She does make eye contact.

‘’Narcissa?’’ Lord Voldemort vaguely forms a question.

‘’Yes, my lord.’’

‘’Where’s Bella?’’

‘’Azkaban, my lord.’’

‘’Azkaban?’’

‘’Yes, my lord.’’

‘’She’s been in Azkaban the entire time, hasn’t she?’’

‘’Yes, my lord.’’

‘’I see.''There’s a semblance of clarity in his eyes. One that fades after breakfast is finished and someone sets him off on the difference between French realism and Russian realism. Thank you, Mr. Zephy.

‘’Balzac is obviously superior –‘’

‘’Excuse me – Dostoyevsky!’’

‘’Dostoyevsky, fine- fine – all right. I concede Dostoyevsky. But if you mention Tolstoy’s Ana Karenina I will challenge you to a duel!’’

‘’Ana Karenina should have ended when she threw herself under the train!’’ Abraxas Malfoy kindles this flame of literary confusion. Lord Voldemort looks at Abraxas as if to say: THANK YOU.

‘’What about Levin?’’ Avery outs himself as a secret farm enthusiast.

Lord Voldemort has never looked more repulsed than in that moment. ‘’Levin is just church propaganda!’’

‘’Well, I wouldn’t call it that, my lord-‘’

Lord Voldemort has taken out his wand and Avery thinks that dying at the tender age of sixty-eight is too young for a wizard.


‘’Oh no, he killed Zephy.’’

‘’That bastard.’’


Abraxas goes down the corridors of Malfoy Manor accompanied by a string of peafowls. He holds a small peahen in his arms and reminds of a mother hen with little chicks following him about.

Hermione wonders if she’s woken up right.

‘’How many have you got?’’

‘’In total?’’

‘’Yes?’’

‘’About one hundred and twenty-five.’’

Hermione thinks that’s too many peafowls.


Hermione notes that Thoros and Abraxas are playing some sort of game. One that no one except them two is aware of. Perhaps Narcissa knows because she looks like she knows lots of things. She’s the kind of person you tell secrets to. She’s the kind of person, Hermione swears, can look Lord Voldemort in the face and lie.

On one occasion, Hermione intercepts Abraxas at the corridor and demands: ‘’What happened to my hair?’’ Hermione hopes it’s not used for malignant potions. That’s not something she can handle right about now.

‘’Your hair?’’ Abraxas stops for a moment to think. ‘’I do believe Draco flushed it down the toilet.’’

‘’The sewer people can have it.’’ Hermione nods. She hopes her cut off hair proves useful to them.

‘’Though, now that you mention it – I do need your hair.’’ Abraxas leans down and yanks out a single hair from Hermione’s head.

Hermione is appalled.

‘’WAIT! What are you going to do with that!’’

‘’Never you mind!’’

‘’WAIT!’’

Abraxas aparates just as Hermione flings herself into a sprint towards him.


Sneering Severus Snape sleazily slithers slowly so he doesn’t call much attention to himself. Thoros Nott is in charge of brewing and only has Severus present for the commentary. His favourite type of commentary is a brooding silence.

‘’I don’t understand why you’ve called me here if you’re going to brew the entire thing.’’

Thoros hums, not giving Severus an answer.


The potion is ready.

Abraxas gives them another potion to make as he puts the finished one on stasis and shoves it in his robe pocket. It’s like a small wormhole in there. Anything else would be démodé.

‘’Why in Slytherin’s name would you want to brew this --?’’ Severus Snape lifts the instructions up in horror.

‘’Oh goodness, sixth years brew it all the time. Don’t go having moral dilemmas now, Severus. We all know that if you’d brewed this potion and put in a red hair that you’d be a much less angry man!’’

‘’How dare you!’’

Abraxas casually takes out his wand and twirls it. ‘’I hope I won’t have to obliviate you. Finding Slughorn for this will be a dire and needlessly complicated endeavour.’’ He aims the wand at a paling Severus Snape. ‘’No, as a matter of fact I’ll get Narcissa to obliviate you. She’s a Black by birth, after all, and she knows Mind Magic best. Though,’’ he laughs, ‘’imagine what kind of bored detours she may take through your mind?’’

This sobers Severus Snape up. ‘’You’re terrible…’’

Abraxas places a hand to his chest. ‘’You flatter me.’’ Turns to Thoros. ‘’Get him under control and get me the potion ready. We truly ought to speed this up before our lord actually wants to officiate the union of Draco and Hermione.’’

(Lord Voldemort just really wants Draco Malfoy to succeed and has become some sort of a mentor to him, telling him the wonders of wooing people with poetry. Draco says that the Dark lord is really into creative writing. Hermione, personally, doesn’t know what to do with that information. It’s good to have hobbies?)


That potion gets finished, too.

Abraxas takes a whiff of it and says: ‘’Ah yes, smells like stress, cheap parchment rolls, and an unyielding sense of being right one hundred percent of the time. You’ve brewed it well. Thoros, does it smell like your dead wife?’’

Uncomfortably: ‘’Yes.’’

‘’Oh move on, man. Don’t be like Severus over here.’’

‘’My wife at least loved me.’’

Severus Snape has half a mind of taking out his wand and dying in a blaze of green lit glory as he takes these horrid people down with him. But he doesn’t, solely because he’s a coward and one that Dumbledore has more use of.

As Abraxas makes fun of Severus, the man in question doesn’t hear gentle footsteps going down into the potion’s lab with them. Only when Abraxas’ eyes light up at the knowing presence does Severus begin to feel something wrong.

‘’Narcissa, do be a dear!’’

Severus turns towards the top of the stairs to find Narcissa with her wand out and an incantation at the tip of her tongue. He goes to move out of the way, but finds that his feet have been stuck to the ground. While he’s listened to Abraxas, Thoros has taken care of his mobility.

When the spell hits him square in the forehead, Narcissa’s voice tells him: ‘’You brewed these potions. Lord Thoros Nott and Lord Abraxas Malfoy had nothing to do with them. Only a man of your skill could accomplish such a task.’’

He repeats all of this at Narcissa’s prompt , feeling proud and haughty and very, very important. Men like Severus, trampled down again and again, have a deep buried need to feel important.

It finally makes beautiful sense why he has been coming to Malfoy Manor without arising suspicion from the Dark lord –he’s been brewing difficult potions. The likes of which no one but him could.

Well, Severus thinks he’s rather made a good job of it, too!

Once they send him on his way, Abraxas turns to Thoros and says: ‘’See,’’ rubs his hands as if he’s cleaning the dust off of them, ‘’we’re in the clear.’’

‘’What if he goes in our heads?’’

‘’Narcissa’s mind is impenetrable. Yours has never interested him because whenever he goes in your head all you think about is your son and how proud you are of him. And I’ve got the best modus operandi! If he goes in my head I shall simply confuse him with romantic feelings!’’

‘’Abraxas, sometimes, you really need to watch the things you say.’’

‘’When my own actions get me into trouble I’ll remember this piece of advice.’’ Abraxas scoffs. ‘’But that will never happen, so you can just go on ahead with your sad lives and take pride in the fact that we’ve single-handedly solved the Lord Voldemort problem.’’

‘’We haven’t yet.’’

‘’Well, the girl’s here. We just need to find the perfect moment.’’

‘’Why not do it tonight?’’ Narcissa asked, as any impatiently sensible person.

‘’No, the numbers are wrong tonight. I consulted them, Narcissa, dear flower, and they’ve told me that there must be a tragedy of unknown magnitude which will topple even the mightiest of mages.’’

‘’Is this why you’re just letting him kill as he pleases?’’ Thoros is appalled. Though, really, he’s known Abraxas for 66 years this should have tipped him off that he’s not a good individual.

Abraxas hums, electing to plead the fifth – or, as the rich bastards call it: keep his mouth shut and his money heftily on display. Laws don’t touch rich people like him. The entire Ministry has been built by Sacred Twenty-Eight ancestors who have created an entire system to specifically only make them get richer and more influential.

This Azkaban terrorist stint? That’s just a bit of a lords will be lords business. Nothing truly drastic enough to impact the going–ons of the current Twenty-Eight.


Something unspeakable happens on an August evening in 1995.


Abraxas Malfoy is clutching at his bead necklace which he says he’s had since Woodstock. A preservation charm isn’t all that hard to cast, really. People are just wasteful. Thinks a man who thinks that recycling is helping poor people and that poor people aren’t, as the phrase goes, actual people. No amount of hanging out with piss-poor orphan Tom Riddle has taught him a semblance of decency.

But this isn’t about that mess of a relationship.

It’s about a tragedy! One so foul, so profane, so irredeemable that the world stops turning just to catch a full glimpse of the events.


Nagini has very little time to chat with people as she’s being chased by peacocks.

This is not what she expected would be happening to her today. It’s really not. She’s expected to play therapist to a Dark Lord at 6PM, followed with lazing about until 10PM, then maybe sleeping some more. Then slithering about. Then sleeping some more. Then hissing at people and watching them jump. Then laughing at them. Then sleeping some more. Then thinking about the time when she had legs. Then sleeping some more. Then remembering that whole terrible affair with Credence and not being able to remember what exactly happened to him as this was a very long time ago.

Overall.

Being chased by peacocks is not on the list and therefore has disturbed her.


Abraxas is screaming

It’s a scream one might even compare with a mother screaming whilst looking at her child’s dead body.


The birds are screeching a song of mourning as one of their feathered friends lies in its own pool of blood, with puncture wounds. Nagini hisses and slithers away from the scene, how one might slither away after committing a hit and run.


Abraxas is cradling a small creature alit in blue and green feathers, holding the pet close and murmuring sweet nothings to it as he’s bawling in its form.

Hermione shudders to think of the pain going through him. But then she remembers that she shouldn’t feel bad about him – but about the dead bird. Abraxas Malfoy can rot.

Lord Voldemort sees what’s happened after Nagini has no doubt gone to find him. As far as humans go she knows that she can only trust him to have her best interest at heart. Hermione wonders about this. Draco’s corralling the other peafowls outside with Lucius’ help. Narcissa and Thoros remain to see the scene. Thoros tentatively tries to go towards Abraxas to comfort him, but when Lord Voldemort presses a hand to Abraxas’ shoulder and tells him that it’s just a bird – there’s a pause.

The whole world goes silent.

Thoros makes a silent step back, grabbing hold of Hermione and wordlessly tugging her back.

Abraxas raises his tear stained face, his eyes red from rage and sadness intermixing into a symphony. ‘’What?’’

‘’It’s a bird, Abraxas. Just get another one. You have so many. I don’t think this one even has a name—‘’

‘’Nigel.’’ Abraxas hisses, if only to prove this monstrosity of a homunculus wrong. ‘’His name w-was Nigel.’’

‘’Is this the one I named?’’ Lord Voldemort leans forward to inspect the peacock’s corpse a bit better. They all look the same to him, to be frank.

‘’Yes.’’ Abraxas answers and hugs the bird close to his chest, inching away as if telling Lord Voldemort that his presence is unwanted.

‘’I apologise if I’ve insulted you, Abraxas.’’

‘’You have insulted me gravely.’’

‘’Then I shall make it up to you.’’ Lord Voldemort says this in the same sense one might say ‘I shall make it up to you’ and actually mean it. Which is very strange and surprises everyone except Abraxas Malfoy, who simply breathes in carefully. Next he slowly sets the bird – Nigel – down and pulls himself to stand up.

‘’You are incorrigible.’’ Abraxas yells at Voldemort. Then he looks away, closes his eyes, and tries very, very hard not to yell some more at a person whom he knows literally can’t think more complex thoughts than LET’S KILL POTTER ALL THE TIME!

‘’You’re making this into a bigger fuss than it needs to be.’’ Lord Voldemort, Hermione hands it to the man who happens to look like a snake, is trying very hard to get Abraxas to calm down, by making him angrier.

Abraxas presses a finger at Lord Voldemort’s chest and pushes hard.  Lord Voldemort’s expression of amusement flickers into that of bemusement. He takes a step back, but Abraxas is relentless. He pushes again. He’s pushing a button of the man’s robe. Hermione calls this a whole new meaning of pushing another’s buttons.

‘’Don’t – don’t you DARE!’’

‘’Abraxas,’’ Voldemort doesn’t yell and that’s something Hermione finds unnerving. He’s always so soft spoken, as if speaking takes a lot of forethought for him. Which is sensible in a sense, except the man’s thoughts aren’t sensible in the least.

Before they push each other into a duel, Narcissa breaks them apart by asking, ever so bravely: ‘’My lord,’’ Voldemort turns to her and smiles fondly, ‘’Lord Malfoy here,’’ she twists the Lord into a mockery which is not Narcissa-like at all, ‘’is grieving. He’s not thinking properly. Leave him. It’s much less work if you do.’’

‘’I ought to.’’ Voldemort nods. ‘’You’re right, Bella.’’

Narcissa gives a smug little smile that’s misplaced on her face, but on how she figures her sister might look it’s perfect. ‘’Of course, my lord.’’ She bows instead of doing her usual curtsy.

Lord Voldemort goes up the stairs to his room in his wing where Nagini is waiting for him and says that if Abraxas is ready to apologize for his indecent and unexplainable behaviour he knows where to find him.

Narcissa, Hermione, Thoros, and Abraxas wait until he goes away a good distance.

Then, in the most fed-up and criminally wrathful voice, Abraxas Malfoy orders: ‘’We’re doing it tonight.’’

Thoros tries to ask him if he’s sure, but Abraxas is shaking with lividness. So much, in fact, that Hermione can’t even understand the half French half English tirade he’s gone on.

Abraxas summons an elf. The elf pops off with a crack and returns with two mugs. The wizard is seething as he’s taking out two potion vials and dumping them both into one mug. He lifts it up for inspection and Thoros says something about a dead wife which satisfies Abraxas, but Hermione’s being led away by Narcissa, who has never looked more grim.


‘’What’s in the cocoa?’’

’Love.’’

‘’Abraxas, take this seriously.’’

‘’Thoros, do shut up. I know how to handle him.’’

‘’What’s in the mug?’’

‘’It’s an apology. I know how much you like your hot drinks. And you do look so cold all the time, my lord.’’

‘’What if he wants to switch mugs?’’

‘’I’ll just tell him you took a sip from it and he’ll hate the idea of sharing germs with you.’’

‘’The man grew up in London in the 1930s, I don’t think there’s anything he won’t do for sustenance.’’

‘’Fine,’’ Abraxas charms the threat mug cold, ‘’I’ll say I like to drink cocoa cold.’’

‘’What kind of a monster drinks cocoa cold? Did you really not think this part up?’’

‘’Shush. The greatest things happen solely through improvisation!’’

‘’We’re all going to die.’’

‘’One day most certainly.’’


Narcissa looks at Hermione how a parent may look upon a child before giving them that infamous talk.

‘’What?’’

‘’There’s a common misconception among purebloods – mostly the men,’’ Narcissa starts and she’s off to a good start one might even say, but then she makes a pause because this is a difficult conversation to have. Her sister Bellatrix would have already explained the entire process as crudely and unashamedly as possible, but Narcissa’s not her sister (no matter how much Lord Voldemort may like to believe them the same person).

‘’Yes?’’ Hermione prompts. They’re sitting in Hermione’s cell guest room, on her bed.

‘’That, well – when you find your soulmate the only way to bond is to, aham,’’ Narcissa stops, yet again, because Hermione is giving her looks of sheer confusion because this isn’t something Hermione has ever thought about. It’s just not up there with her goals in life. She just wants to ace OWLs. Well, escape this wretched kidnapping situation, reunite with her loved ones, and then ace OWLs.

‘’Abraxas mentioned something about a quote. Two souls unite when they find agreement in joining their beings?’’

‘’Yes, that.’’ Narcissa is not in her element. At all. She twiddles her thumbs and narrows her eyes, kind of hoping that Hermione catches on herself.

‘’Do go on, Lovely Narcissa Malfoy.’’

Narcissa chortles at this. Actually chortles. Hermione feels both proud of herself and absolutely ashamed because being cooped up in this Manor is making her go stir-crazy.

‘’Beings.’’ Narcissa dissects, ‘’This isn’t a physical being. As one of the members of the Noble and Most Ancient House of Black, I can assure you, Hermione, that we tend to favour different connections to the ones other, dare I say it, nouveau riche or nouveau magique families. Our way is the true way. Whatever else you may be led to believe is probably false and pandering to the wrong people so they can excuse their terrible actions.’’

‘’All right?’’ Hermione thinks that there’s a lot to unpack in what Narcissa is teaching her.

Thoros knocks on the door, opens it, and beckons Narcissa and Hermione. ‘’Come on, hurry.’’

Narcissa looks at Hermione and tells her: ‘’I recommend you don’t mention Albus Dumbledore.’’

‘’Very sound advice, indeed.’’ Thoros praises and grabs hold of Hermione to drag her out of the room.


Abraxas Malfoy looks deliriously happy as he’s waiting in front of Lord Voldemort’s closed room. He’s charmed Nagini to be immobile and levitating a few feet away from him. She looks like she’s just about ready to pounce for the kill, but can’t. Abraxas runs a hand alongside her still form and whispers: ‘’I will make boots out of you.’’

Thoros just vaguely shows her the door and Hermione asks, for the last time: ‘’What exactly do you expect me to do?’’

‘’Well, say his words, of course and bond.’’ Abraxas says and throws her into the room after wandlessly flinging open the door.

Hermione stumbles inside, nearly falls, but she catches herself.

There she finds a man who looks nothing like how she’s become accustomed to viewing Lord Voldemort. Not only does he not have scales as she’s been led to believe by the Hogwarts Rumour Mill, but he’s now sporting some sort of human look. It looks like he stole a hot guy’s skin and put it on himself. Though, when you get past the deer in headlights crimson eyed look he keeps giving her, Hermione knows without a doubt that Tom Riddle’s visage is somewhere in there. He does remind of Tracey’s boggart too much for this to be a coincidence. His hair’s a light shade of brown and Hermione remembers the locket with the hair. Oh god.

But the way he seems to be inching towards her slowly, and the way he’s looking at her as if she’s his main fascination – Hermione needs to only remember that Abraxas Malfoy took her hair and think, a little louder than before: OH GOD.

Hermione turns around to try and open the door and flee, but it’s locked.

And well.

Hermione looks back at Lord Voldemort, who’s looking at her how Hermione’s looked at complex essay questions, and asks, very politely: ‘’What’s up?’’

Lord Voldemort, Hermione swears on all of her future grades, looks just about ready to faint from the sheer joy of conversing with her.

Hermione blames that on what’s obviously the love potion.

Taking this situation at face value, she decides to go to the adjacent bathroom and wait this entire debacle out.

But then Lord Voldemort leans on the bathroom door and begins serenading her.

And Hermione just kind of cups her head in her hands and thinks that she could be petting cats and studying for exams, and being with her friends, being with Viktor, being with Millie, being anywhere else than here.

But nooooooooo

Noooooo

She has to deal with Lord fucking Voldemort high on potions.

Chapter Text

Welcome to Slytherin

 

Is a set of words that Hermione really, really hopes Lord Voldemort doesn't say. That's the very last thing she needs as she's hiding out in a guest room bathroom. On the other side serenading her and comparing her to a summer's day is Voldemort. Hermione likes summer, don’t get her wrong, but she's going to become one of those autumn people just to spite the drugged man's advances.

Luckily for them, he wants to do everything that Hermione wants to do.

Hermione's stomach churns uncomfortably at the thoughts swirling Abraxas Malfoy's mind as he constructed this plan. At the thought of him assuming that Hermione is the kind of person to just take advantage of someone like that. Disgust fills her up from her toes to her brows. It doesn’t make sense. Something’s gone wrong with his plan.

She leans on the bathroom door as Voldemort leans on the same door from the other side.

''How long does this sort of thing last?''

''My love for you is eternal.''

''Charming. I meant the love potion dosage.''

''I haven't been given a love potion. My love for you is as real as –''

''Morgana! How long does a love potion dosage last in general?''

This seems to do the trick and Lord Voldemort's deeply buried professor side seems to shine. He will go to any length to please his beloved Hermione and if she wants him to tell her potion facts then he shall!

Apparently one of this dosage can last up to 24 hours. That's a whole bloody day!

Hermione buries her head in her hands and groans.

Lord Voldemort asks her if she wants him to start groaning, too.

Hermione groans loader at this and tears of frustration prickle in her eyes.

''You are my immortal-''

OH GOD.

''Sh –shush! Stop it, stop it this instance. You are a horrible human being.''

''I must be since you say so!!''

At this Hermione makes a face. ‘’Ew. Ew. NO. Where’s your self-esteem, man? I thought Dark Lords had it in abundance?’’

‘’Would you like for me to have self-esteem? What do you want, Hermione, my beloved?’’

‘’What I want?’’ Hermione’s desperately looking around the bathroom for a way out. There’s no window. There’s nothing that she can take to slam over Voldemort’s head. The mirror, maybe? She places her hands towards it and wills it off of the wall.

‘’Do you have any desires?’’

‘’I’ve got many.’’ Hermione decides that the only possible way for any of this work is for her to cheat the system. The drive she has to screw Abraxas Malfoy over is unparalleled.

‘’Do tell, Hermione.’’

‘’I’ve had this very sexy fantasy recently.’’ Hermione’s concentrating on levitating the mirror down, but there are sticking charms to it that she needs to untangle. ‘’It’s like, the sexiest thing I’ve ever thought up of.’’

’Really?’’

The mirror nears Hermione and she just has to time it for when she opens the door and slams the mirror over the man’s head. Seven years of bad luck be damned. This is Hermione’s worst luck thus far. At this point she willingly challenges the Universe to bring it the fuck on.

Hermione carefully rises to her feet. Steadily she holds onto the mirror and has it floating above the door. She opens the door and sees the flushed expression of Lord Voldemort staring at her in awe. Ew.

‘’What’s your fantasy?’’ Voldemort has his eyes on hers and not the mirror levitating above him. That’s so strange. Hermione refuses to ever be so enamoured by someone. To ever love someone so much that she, herself, doesn’t know how to function.  

‘’You as far away as physically possible!’’

And the mirror falls on the man’s head and shatters.


Hermione ducks back into the bathroom after having done this and at first pride fills her because holy fuck she’s just smashed a mirror over Lord Voldemort’s head – but then, oh then

Dread starts to colour her lines in with a messy, fast scrawl.

Because oh god she’s just smashed a mirror over Lord Voldemort’s head.

When the potion wears off he’s going to be so angry!

Hermione listens to the slow, agonized groaning from the other side. She remembers vindictively that he’s barefoot. Best hope he doesn’t step on the glass shards.

It takes her very little time to realise that he’s not been knocked out. He knocks on the door. Hermione has half a mind of playing a knock-knock joke.

Does trauma to the head make someone’s magic reset…? Maybe the potion has worn off and he’s politely knocking to tell her he’s ready to kill her now? Or how about the simple fact that he’s so angry that he’s broken free of the potion’s properties?

‘’Hermione, dear, do you want to talk about these bursts of anger?’’

Hermione closes her eyes. ‘’No.’’

‘’Is this part of the fantasy?’’

‘’Yes, sure.’’

‘’I see.’’ The man sounds pained and conflicted, as if on one hand he wants to tell her he hates this, but isn’t allowed to deny her.

‘’How do you feel about this?’’ Hermione prompts. Being under a love potion is heinous. She’s vaguely read mentions about them from history journals of famous witches. History is only boring when seen through Binns’ eyes. Broadening her horizons is the only way you get to actually learn something useful.

‘’How do you want me to feel?’’

‘’No, no –‘’ Hermione decides to switch her tactic, ‘’Do you know what’s super sexy?’’

‘’Breaking things over my head?’’

‘’Well, okay, that was very wrong to do. But you know, given my blood, I thought to avenge my fellow mudbloods who have done nothing but suffer at your hands. Besides, you were supposed to be knocked out cold. And then I was going to read a book or something until this wore off. It was a sound plan!’’

‘’I suppose,’’ again with that strangled I Have Opinions But Physically Can’t Voice Them voice.

‘’You want to know what’s super-duper sexy?’’

‘’What?’’

‘’Thinking with your own head. I’d appreciate that.’’

‘’I am thinking with my own head.’’

 ‘’No, no you aren’t. You’ve been drugged. It’s a very sad thing that’s happened, but it can’t be helped. When you hang around amoral people something amoral is bound to happen to you. You’re just very lucky I don’t care for the things they want me to do to you.’’

‘’You mean you don’t love me?’’

‘’Of course I don’t love you!’’

‘’Oh.’’

‘’No, don’t make me feel bad about my feelings!’’

‘’But I love you.’’

‘’But you don’t!’’

‘’But I do!’’

‘’GAH!’’ Hermione opens the door without giving much heads up and slams it into Lord Voldemort’s face, who topples down onto the glass shards. Hermione is starting to think that she’s going to accidentally kill this man tonight. She’s grievously injured him twice in less than an hour. Ministry of Magic, Hermione will take that Order of Merlin now, thank you.

‘’Are you some sort of sadist?’’

‘’Listen, okay, listen – that was an accident!’’

Lord Voldemort curls away from her and hopes that she’ll just leave him alone. Hermione wants nothing more to do than to leave, but this is a very difficult situation she’s found herself in.

‘’Abraxas Malfoy sure is a good friend of yours.’’ Hermione is about to end Abraxas Malfoy’s whole career as Lord Voldemort’s confidant.

‘’My Abraxas has been with me since the beginning.’’

Hermione’s about to teach this man a very neat thing she’s learned in a book about cutting out people who have outgrown being nurturing and turned toxic. ‘’You know, Vol – can I call you Vol?’’

‘’It is preferable to another three letter name I used to answer to.’’

‘’Is that like a dead name situation or is it just you being pretentious?’’

‘’I hate it.’’

‘’Why do you hate it?’’

Lord Voldemort has father issues: ‘’Imagine being named Margaret Thatcher.’’

‘’Okay, yeah, honestly that’s fair enough. Vol it is!’’

Voldemort squints at her, trying to gauge how she’s going to attack him next.

‘’So you see, Vol, Abraxas Malfoy has betrayed you.’’

‘’Abraxas would never.’’

‘’He literally gave you a love potion and what I assume is a body modification spell to get your old looks back… Without your consent! That’s so wrong!’’

‘’Again. I am not under a love potion. I truly love you.’’

‘’Ugh. Ugh! I don’t love you!’’

‘’Why are you so adamant to hate this?’’ Voldemort tries to caress Hermione’s cheek lovingly but she slaps his hand away. ‘’Why don’t you just give in?’’

‘’And what? Have SEX with you?’’ Hermione is fuming. Her hair tingles with magic. Lord Voldemort’s crimson eyes are losing that fog. She notices tendrils of his magic rising.

‘’If you want to.’’ Voldemort sounds like a person who really, really does not want this.

‘’I don’t want to do anything with you! What do you think of that?’’ She pushes. Her magic attacks his and he deflects it easily. Voldemort takes a few steps back. Hermione crunches over the glass shards in her shoes and asks, again: ‘’Don’t you have any thoughts of your own? What do you think about that?’’ Again she pushes. The glass shards rise up and flock to one another. His magic twists over to hers.

He’s blinking at her and she’s so angry, so absolutely livid with this entire situation. It sickens her. The nerve, the audacity, the moral reprehensibility!

‘’You know what I think? I think all of this sucks!’’

Lord Voldemort leans on the window seat in the room and looks down on Hermione, only in the literal sense. Blood trails from his head at the injury still trickling down. His magic has healed up the most of it, but the blood hasn’t been cleaned off. Hermione would do it, but she hasn’t practised healing charms wandlessly.

‘’You suck.’’ Hermione pushes Voldemort in the chest. ‘’Abraxas Malfoy sucks. Malfoy Manor sucks. Everyone sucks except for Narcissa.’’ Voldemort nods gravely at this. It seems he feels similarly. ‘’This situation sucks. This, this weird free-pass at doing shite like this sucks!’’ Voldemort’s not getting it. Fine, Hermione’s going to attack the things he likes so he gets it in his head that she doesn’t even like him, let alone love him. Maybe something like a wake-up-call will work. ‘’Your face sucks.’’

‘’I couldn’t agree more. I was much happier without Tom Riddle’s muggle face following me everywhere.’’

Hermione’s looking for weaknesses. She’s desperately searching for anything that can give her the upper hand. ‘’Your eyes suck.’’

‘’Well, splitting your soul a few times makes for interesting side-effects. I’m constantly cold. My circulation’s gone to hell and thus I don’t have it anymore. There really should be an expected side-effects included in the book I lifted from the Restricted Section. Otherwise what’s stopping students from killing other students, laws and morals?’’

Hermione doesn’t have nearly enough time to unpack all of that.

‘’Your, uh, voice sucks!’’

‘’Well that’s not very nice. Though, it does sound a tad fake, doesn’t it? I have to agree. The posh accent isn’t something I was born with.’’

Now this is news. ‘’Wait, hold it, what’s your real accent?’’

‘’I grew up in London in the 1930s, Hermione, take a wild guess.’’

‘’Welsh accent.’’ Hermione guesses wildly. It’s really no fun otherwise.  Like what boring idiot is actually going to say ‘hmm, London upbringing, hmmm, may you perhaps be afflicted by the Cockney accent?’ No, that’s not the kind of life Hermione leads nowadays.

Voldemort’s smiling very widely now. ‘’You’re amazing.’’

‘’Ew. No. Stop it.’’

His robe is buttoned up completely and she points to his neck: ‘’This turtle neck robe sucks, too. Like, what kind of fashion sense is this? Abraxas Malfoy has better fashion sense than you and I think the man doesn’t know that regular clothing isn’t supposed to be more expensive than a mortgage!’’

‘’My Abraxas has always had outlandish tastes.’’

‘’I can’t believe you’re still defending him!’’

‘’I have no reason to defend him.’’

’Precisely.’’

‘’As he hasn’t done anything wrong in the first place.’’

Hermione buries her head in her hands and thinks about crying. Not one of those sad, attractive tears or those manipulative tears Daphne’s told her about that every woman needs to know (?w?h?y?) , but one of those ugly crocodile, frustrated-by-lack-of-understanding bawling sessions.

It comes in every kidnapped person’s life when things get out of control and the situation they’ve found themselves in has become so uniquely too much that the kidnapped person can only say the following sentences: ‘’I want my mum.’’ Then, louder, ‘’I want my dad.’’

Lord Voldemort, meanwhile, has no emotional scope of understanding to comfort people who actually miss their parents, as he, himself, has been responsible for both of their deaths.

‘’I want my friends.’’

This, too, is another aspect of life that Lord Voldemort personally has a very hard time understanding.

‘’I want Millie.’’

This he vaguely understands as he has times of need and frustration when people around him are too stupid and he needs his Abraxas to keep up with his brain. At least he hopes that Millie is a person. He really doesn’t want to think about modern slang unless he truly has to.

But then, the loudest – the key of Hermione’s crumbling manifests and culminates in a sentence so painful, so true, so raw and very teenage-girl like: ‘’I WANT MY CAT.’’

Lord Voldemort just kind of very awkwardly feels an urge to comfort his beautiful and beloved immortal love, but what if his Hermione doesn’t WANT that? His outstretched hand curls into a fist and he pulls it to his side and waits for instructions.

Hermione is trying to calm down, but this is too much. ‘’Look at you! Look at this entire situation! I mean,’’ she’s breathing in and out in what she thinks is a calm manner but, to be perfectly frank, it could be calmer, ‘’you’ve got to draw the line somewhere, don’t you? When you wake up you’ve got to ask yourself: What am I willing to put up with today?’’ Gesturing Lord Voldemort: ‘’NOT THIS!’’

‘’What do you want me to do about it?’’ Voldemort’s finally letting some of his emotions seep through the cracks of the near-perfect love potion created self that has inflicted itself onto him.

‘’Nothing! You can’t do anything!’’ Hermione paces around the room and glances back to the door that’s sealed their fates. But then, a spark of an idea forms in her brain and she whispers, with wide and barely hopeful eyes: ‘’Wait, no, that’s a lie. I mean, well – you could.’’ Hermione turns towards the door and asks Voldemort if he can open it.

‘’Of course I can open it.’’ Voldemort goes to the door with the self-assuredness of self-imposed Dark Lords. He grasps the door handle and tries to open it.

And then when his moment of triumph doesn’t turn into a moment of triumph he shakes the door handle a bit how people who have given up on technique in favour of brute strength often do.

He knows that it’s a pull inside to open kind of door so he places one bare foot on it and tries to pull it open next with brute strength (and objectively he knows he’s not that strong) and MAGIC (because Lord Voldemort knows his strong suits. Let’s be honest, he may be mentally compromised but he’s not STUPID)

When even that doesn’t work he turns towards Hermione and says that he doesn’t know what to do next. ‘’I’ve used up all of my ideas.’’

Hermione doesn’t, out of courtesy, want to tell him that his ideas are sparse and basic at best. ‘’This sucks.’’

‘’Not to be a Negative Nancy –‘’

‘’A Negative Nigel, if you will.’’

‘’That was an unfortunate incident that I may have reacted to badly.’’

‘’Oh my god don’t tell me you’re going to apologise to Abraxas?’’

‘’I would rather be reborn again in a welsh-styled cauldron than apologise to anyone.’’

‘’Atta man!’’ Hermione realises that in this case Lord Voldemort is a victim (even more so because Hermione’s in control of all of her mental facilities), and she realises that she loathes Abraxas Malfoy. It’s not nice to use that word, especially because it has an even harder connotation than hate, but for this man she feels it is warranted.

‘’Now, back to my Negative Nigel comment…’’ Voldemort stands upright and postures as if he’s going to impart infinite wisdom upon the love of his long life which is in the form of a young, underage, frightened teenage girl. ‘’It’s silly, Hermione, very silly and very inefficient to have fits. Parents and friends simply slow you down. There is no reason to cry and be so overtly emotional about these things.’’

‘’Did you forget about the fact that I’ve been kidnapped and held here against my will?!’’

Voldemort blinks. ‘’Frankly put I was not aware of this fact before this moment. Draco kidnapped you and forced you to be his bride?’’

‘’No. Abraxas kidnapped me and forced me here for unknown reasons which I know realise were to,’’ Hermione’s stomach acid is eating her own insides as she repulsively says this part, ‘’have sex with you.’’

The look on Lord Voldemort’s face. It is beyond words or any other form of human communication.

‘’But you don’t want that?’’

‘’No!’’

‘’I see.’’ Hermione hears relief.

‘’Do you still think that you love me?’’

‘’I do love you, Hermione, shush.’’

‘’Don’t shush me.’’ Hermione is at least finding solace in the small fact that Lord Voldemort has realised that she doesn’t find the subservient behaviour endearing or appealing. But he’s still so sickly love sick, it makes her sick.

‘’I will do whatever it is my lady Hermione wishes.’’

Lady Hermione

Lady Herm

Hermione closes her eyes and thinks that this is not the time. Even though Voldemort’s approached it from a bad perspective, she has to agree that she can’t just let her emotions run rampant in these kinds of situations. But she’s a child, damn it!

She goes to sit on a chair in the room and looks at him for a brief moment, before asking: ‘’Why do you think that Abraxas forced me here and forced you to drink the love potion and this odd spell that changed your face and all…What’s your take?’’

‘’He obviously thinks we’re soulmates.’’

‘’But we aren’t.’’ Hermione is firmly set in her ways that this is all a series of unfortunate events which led to a great misunderstanding.

‘’Of course not. Lord Voldemort has no soulmate.’’ He unbuttons the first few buttons of his weird pullover-ish robe to reveal a throat. It’s a standard throat, even has an Adam’s apple.

‘’What am I looking at?’’ Hermione asks squintily. It’s a real emotion only Hermione Granger has unlocked.

‘’Tom Riddle had words here.’’ Ah yes. Hermione has briefly forgotten that Lord Voldemort is somewhat senile. ‘’I don’t. Ergo, Lord Voldemort has no soulmate.’’

She gives him a very supportive thumb up. Then wonders, ever so quickly, why people say thumbs up instead of thumb up if it’s just one thumb in question. Caesar didn’t give two thumbs up, did he? No, no he didn’t.

‘’Well he obviously expects us to do something about this soulmate business. Don’t get me wrong, but I would never want to be your soulmate.’’

‘’How can I not get that wrong?’’

‘’You’re just a terrible human being. It’s nothing personal.’’

‘’Hermione, my love, please… I fear you do not understand the words coming out of your mouth.’’

Hermione sighs. She leans back in the chair and looks up at the ceiling. ‘’In less than twenty-four hours all of this will be clearer to us both.’’

‘’How are we going to handle the bed situation?’’

‘’Listen.’’ Hermione will be damned if she shares a bed with Lord fucking Voldemort.

‘’Can we sleep in shifts?’’

‘’Excuse me, but why?’’ Hermione’s getting some creepy vibes from this.

‘’So one can always watch over the other and show their undying devotion?’’

‘’Take a hint, please!’’

‘’Isn’t that romantic?’’

‘’That’s never romantic!’’ Hermione wants to burn every romance novel where this trope has been implemented because the idea of anyone watching her sleep is nothing but terrifying.

‘’I see. All right. No problem.’’

‘’Thank Merlin.’’

‘’I cannot go wrong with poetry!’’

‘’NO!’’

But Lord Voldemort has begun:

 

‘’It was the day the sun’s ray had

Turned pale

With pity for the suffering of his Maker

When I was caught, and I put up no

Fight,’’

 

Lord Voldemort gently tilts Hermione’s chin upward so she looks him in the eyes.

 

‘’My lady, for your lovely eyes had

Bound me.’’

 

And Hermione is prisoner in this room, trying to look away. She stands up without a word and shoves him away as she goes back into the bathroom.

On her way in she doesn’t notice that most of the glass shard pieces have mended into bigger pieces.



‘’If you’re going to be in the bathroom I’m going to take the bed.’’

‘’You go ahead and do that.’’



‘’But if you want to join me I promise to give you all of the blankets and conjure myself some.’’

‘’That’s the first romantic thing you’ve said this entire evening.’’

’That’s what does it for you?’’

‘’shut uP!’’


‘’What were your words?’’

‘’Lord Voldemort has no words.’’

‘’Right, sorry.’’

‘’Common mistake, my darling-‘’

‘’Don’t call me darling.’’

‘’Amazing. Awe inspiring. You are so brilliant that the sun cannot compare itself to you – ‘’ He stops when he feels her overall disinterest. ‘’I fail to understand your generation. Poetry was the highest form of courting in my day and age.’’

Hermione doesn’t say anything to this.


‘’So… cats?’’

‘’What about them?’’

‘’Why do you like them?’’

‘’Haven’t you ever liked animals?’’

‘’Snakes.’’

‘’Well, it’s like that.’’

‘’But I can talk to snakes… why would I want to like something that I wouldn’t be able to understand?’’

‘’Sometimes… things that you can understand… are worse.’’

‘’With the amount of insults I’ve received from both metaphoric snakes and literal ones makes this a very compelling argument. What kind of cat do you have?’’

Hermione can talk about Crookshanks for a very, very long time.

And Lord Voldemort is forced to do whatever she wants to do.

Still, this is better than what Abraxas Malfoy wants them to do any day.


It’s around the eight hour mark that Hermione wakes up in bed whilst Voldemort’s drawing himself a bath.


Voldemort’s bundled up in blankets as he’s sitting in a chair while Hermione’s lazing on the bed and staring vacantly at the ceiling.

‘’So you’re really immortal, huh?’’

‘’Naturally.’’

‘’How does that even work?’’

‘’It’s a pretty complicated process.’’

‘’You were what, sixteen?’’ Hermione recalls Myrtle Warren.

‘’Well, I’m a genius.’’

Hermione scoffs. ‘’How smart can you be when you decide to split your own soul?’’

He narrows his eyes at her and she can sense animosity, but the words that come out of his mouth are saccharine: ‘’You must be right.’’

‘’Oh,’’ Hermione has never been able to read a room with one hundred percent accuracy, ‘’trust me I am.’’


‘’What are other ways for soulmates to bond?’’

‘’Besides sex?’’

‘’Obviously besides that. I’m never having sex with you.’’

‘’Sex is the most common, not only because it’s the easiest way for soulmates to bond – but because it’s the least intimate of the bonds.’’

Hermione begins to groan.

Voldemort half-heartedly taps her on the back.


It’s around the sixteen hour mark when Hermione’s beginning to go stir-crazy. She doesn’t know what’s going to happen when the potion well and truly wears off. She doesn’t know what’s going to happen to her when it does wear off and Lord Voldemort realises that as long as Hermione’s here that Abraxas is going to keep doing stuff like this? She suspects that nothing good will come of it.

Voldemort’s off to the side dozing off. They’re trying to sleep through the time because there aren’t any books in the room, just maddening scribbles in squiggly lines that Hermione doesn’t understand. Voldemort’s called it parselscript. It seems so unfair that just by being born you inherit the knowledge of an entire language without trying or practising. That’s like rich people level of entitlement right there.

Food magically appears, brought along by elves who have been strictly forbidden from listening or taking instructions from the two guests (prisoners, they’re bloody prisoners whilst Abraxas is pretending they’re guests in a five star hotel with an all-inclusive package)

Abraxas will force them to do something. Maybe now that Voldemort’s got hair of his own Hermione’s going to be forced to drink a love potion, as well? A shudder slams through her like an axe cuts through bone and flesh.

Hermione hugs the pillow close to her chest and thinks about how she’s going to stop this. How she’s going to get away from this madhouse. How she’s going to survive Abraxas Malfoy.

A terrible, momentarily not-so-frightening thought enters her mind. What if she does sleep with him? Wouldn’t it be easier?

But then she remembers that he’s Lord Voldemort and that it’s wrong on an overall level of ethics and moral conduct.

Hermione stands up, then, and goes to the bathroom. Moving carefully past the scene of the mirror shattering she does take note that there’s only two very large fragments of it. She bends down to inspect it. There’s a magically cohesive element thrown into the mix of the mirror pieces, glowing faintly when Hermione touches it, casting glow of the two pieces in a hundreds of veins where the smaller pieces have melded together.

Once inside the bathroom Hermione splashes her face with water. Some of her hair gets wet, but it’s fine as it’s summer. Breathing is a difficult affair. She turns around to the room and sees that Voldemort’s stood up and peering at the mirror, as well. He takes it up to inspect it to his face, weighing both of the pieces individually in his hands.

He turns to Hermione and asks her: ‘’Have you found your soulmate?’’

‘’No.’’ Hermione doesn’t ask Lord Voldemort if he’s found his as he’s made it perfectly clear that he hasn’t got one since he hasn’t got words. ‘’Has Tom Riddle found his?’’

‘’No. He’s never gone looking for his, either. How did muggles react to your words?’’

‘’I was an odd child to begin with, so my parents didn’t think much of it.’’

‘’Tom Riddle’s words were… strange. Though, if it weren’t for those words, Lord Voldemort may not even have been born. Who knows how life works…’’ Voldemort tries to piece the two mirror pieces together and put the mirror back in the bathroom, but no matter the spell he casts it won’t hold.

‘’Life is a mystery.’’ Hermione inches towards the man and asks, slightly bolder and a lot more desperate for any sort of action. ‘’What were Tom Riddle’s words?’’

All of this passive waiting around, and the undeniable fear clawing up her throat at the thought of going through this again and again and again until they’ve satisfied Abraxas Malfoy – it creates a situation of stress. And stress is, just, not good at all. Like, stress is terrible. Whoever says that they work better under stress has never truly been under stress.

Voldemort shrugs. ‘’There’s no point to it. Tom Riddle is gone. I am Lord Voldemort.’’

‘’Okay.’’ Hermione nods, gathering up the strength she can, she asks, a bit firmer: ‘’But, what were they? Just out of curiosity’s sake.’’

‘’What are yours?’’

Hermione reluctantly shows him her words, pushing up her sleeve to do so.

He reads them and actually scoffs. ‘’Don’t tell me this is the reason why you’re a Slytherin?’’

‘’Yes, it is.’’ Hermione crosses her arms. She will not have her choices insulted. The how and why isn’t important, but she’s been a Slytherin for years now. That matters more to her than the beginning.

‘’You’re not a proper Slytherin,’’ Voldemort points at the words. ‘’It’s very endearing, pet, but it’s just that: endearing.’’ He grins at her.

Hermione has half a mind of just maiming him on the spot.

 

‘’Ha. No.’’

 

‘’Ha Ha. Yes.’’

 

‘’Ha Ha Ha. No!’’

 

This goes on a bit. They add semicolons and lots of exclamation points.

But Hermione hasn’t got the patience of a sixty-something year old man to keep up. She falls back on her attack formation from before. ‘’You don’t know anything!’’

‘’I know that filth like you doesn’t belong in Slytherin and that you fought your way into my House.’’

‘’Filth, hmm?’’ Hermione glares, ‘’I thought you loved me?’’

‘’I do love you, but it doesn’t change the fact that your parentage is filthy and unworthy of the infamous House of Slytherin. Face it, Hermione, you’re a mudblood.’’

‘’All right, fucker,’’ Hermione nearly tells Lord Voldemort to square up, but she doesn’t. What she does says is this: ‘’You are a heinously failed attempt at a human being whose only redeeming quality is his treatment of snakes and respecting the autonomy of war veterans. How you haven’t fallen dead already surprises me. I mean, you got beaten by a child!’’

‘’Harry Potter can’t be killed by normal means…’’ Lord Voldemort is going on the defensive. GOOD! Hermione thinks, FUCKING GOOD!

‘’Keep telling yourself that, you utter failure! I mean, Grindelwald was at least renowned in the whole world. He caused global chaos whilst you’re trying to win some sort of civil war that, let’s be perfectly clear here, you’re going to lose because you’re killing off your own forces. And you know what, I actually like Levin from Tolstoy’s Ana Karenina, so fuck you on that literary regard, too!’’

Voldemort’s clutching at his robe in horror.

‘’You’re calling yourself the smartest wizard to ever live, which – wow – you’re just super good at memorization and wow, again, let’s have an applause for Voldemort liking dIVINATION.’’ Everybody knows how Hermione feels towards Divination.

‘’You just don’t have the gift… you’re like Abraxas.’’

‘’Never compare me to that nightmare ever again.’’

‘’Noted for future reference, my love.’’

Right. Hermione’s forgotten she’s arguing with a man who’s enamoured by her.

She shakes this behaviour off and continues: ‘’And you know what! You want to know something else, Voldemort? Hm?’’

Voldemort wants nothing more than to find out what Hermione has to say. He smugly smiles and encourages her to continue. She does, angrily:

 

‘’Anagrams fucking suck!’’

 

And that smug smile slides off like Harry Potter off of a broom on a Dementor infested quidditch pitch.

Hermione doesn’t stop there. Oh no. She goes into detail how anagrams are weak and how she’s never been fond of them. How she’s outgrown them at age ten. ‘’Converting Tom Marvolo Riddle into I am Lord Voldemort is childish! Before you come to me and tell me that they’re some divine sign let me just tell you that your actions are your own, solely! Your actions are yours and they’re so sad, Voldemort, they’re absolutely repulsive and they’re, frankly put, not all that. The summary of your entire legacy can be morphed into one sentence. Which, pay attention now, this is the culmination of my entire character summary for you: YOU’RE A PRICK!’’

Voldemort is aghast.

Hermione delights in his expression. She laughs at him and asks: ‘’Got anything to say to that?’’

‘’Yes.’’ Voldemort summons his voice, grabs Hermione’s chin, and forces their eyes to meet. ‘’Mind your step.’’

Before Hermione can think to unravel this warning, she’s pulled into Lord Voldemort’s mind.