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Great Minds Think Alike

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Despite all the times she's been in Malfoy Manor, Bellatrix Lestrange looked at the painting that hung atop the fireplace with disgust. Narcissa had a forced smile as she stood uncomfortably next to her husband Lucius, whose arrogance doesn't match his abilities anywhere in his life. He's an absolute liability, especially when needed in the most critical of times, and it's another reason added to her already growing list of regrets. The only thing he could have arrogance for was his leeching off not only his family name but the Black family name. It pissed her off to no end. Narcissa deserved better than this.

 

Her eyes on the painting went down, and her lips pulled into a sneer at the spawn they created.

 

Draco.

 

Initially, she hoped that maybe Draco would be like his mother and be cold, calculating, and cunning. The perfect Slytherin that Narcissa showed in her early years. When she heard all the stories with the limited visits that she had with Narcissa, she lost all hope of that idea. All he became was a replica of his father. All bark, no bite, which makes his smartass attitude all the more grating. He matched his father entirely. Above-average arrogance, average everywhere else; if she had Draco watching her back, she would rather be dead. Maybe if they had a girl, perhaps she would have ended up like Narcissa. The girl would have been worth a hundred times the value of Draco. The only reason she barely tolerates the boy is that for some bizarre reason, Narcissa loved him. She liked to think it's because Narcissa believes she can point him in the right direction and develop into a true Slytherin, but she's not confident in that idea. In time she must talk to Narcissa about Draco.

 

Speaking of plans, it's the reason she was there at Malfoy Manor. With the return of Lord Voldemort, Malfoy Manor has become the base of operations to strategize his plan to take over Britain, and then the world. They were there to plan out an attack on the Ministry to locate the prophecy between the Dark Lord and Harry Potter.

 

When the Death Eaters broke her out of prison, she left the hellhole cackling like crazy. Having the time to clean off the filth on her body and regain her power, physically, mentally, and magically felt euphoric. She endlessly thought of having mudbloods being tortured endlessly with their screams proclaiming their filth, blood-traitors being punished for their weakness and betrayal of the pureblood community. As much as she wanted to live out those fantasies, she needed to keep her emotions in check. She needed to focus and find the right opportunity to start her plan.

 

When she arrived at the meeting, she took her spot next to Voldemort's seat, as she always did. The room slowly filled as they gathered around the long, vertical table. Most of the Death Eaters that came into contact with Bellatrix received glares and stunning spells as some attempted to stare down into her cleavage. She would have loved to use the Cruciatus curse on them; Voldemort wouldn't have been pleased to lose members of his group when they were just re-grouping. Shortly after she sat down, Rodolphus approached her and took a seat to her right.

 

She saw his movements in the corner of her eye as he slowly inched his hand closer to her thigh. She wordlessly sent an Impedimenta charm at his side. His hand immediately went the opposite direction as he let out a quick yelp of surprise.

 

The Death Eaters around to hear the pathetic cry started to laugh, and some began to mock him. This caused her ruby-red lips to turn into a smirk.

 

"Bitch" he muttered to himself.

 

It took all the willpower not to blast her useless excuse for a husband out of existence. She tightened her fists momentarily as her brain fought for what she should do before finally easing up.

 

She knew early in adolescence that her parents would force her into an arranged marriage. Bellatrix Black had the beauty that only a lady of Black could have had. Long, black hair fell in perfect curls down to her back, which contrasted beautifully with her smooth, white complexion. High regal cheekbones with plump lips and topped with intense dark brown eyes. Those features were enough to garner a lot of attention from Hogwarts' male population, but she rejected all advances. Some less painful than others.

 

Her body was both a gift and a curse, but mostly a curse. She developed quickly during her time at Hogwarts. She had a shapely body that most, if not, all men leered at—hourglass shape with the hips flaring out for plump, muscular thighs. However, the main feature that got people's attention was her large, perky breasts developed by her fifth-year that during the fall and winter seasons wasn't a problem. However, during the spring seasons, they became one of the main topics for the Slytherin common room's hormonal teenage boys.

 

Personally, she would remind them of the consequences that would befall them if any of them had the gall to get too grabby with her.

 

They all laughed at her threats, but she was all too happy to give them a sneak preview of what awaits them. A few curses later, with a fourth-year boy on the ground, writhing on the floor in pain, they got the message she was more than a body to leer at, but a threat to not mess with lightly. Rodolphus was not one of them, unfortunately.

 

Rodolphus Lestrange was a pig of a man, inside and out. He proudly held the number two spot on her list of regrets. Her parents forced her to meet him during study sessions as they attempted to narrow down the search for a suitor, and when she first saw that disgusting smile on his face, she immediately knew she would dislike him. Anytime she was working on schoolwork, he would attempt to "help," but really "help" meant "waste her time." When his feeble attempts to help failed, he would go to his next priority of leering at her breasts. It only took one session to decide that he was a worthless human being that she wanted no part of. When the words "marriage" and "Rodolphus" came out of her parent's mouth, she internally screamed in insanity for days. That she had the possibility of being with this idiot of a man for the rest of her life. There must be some other pureblood that would've grabbed their attention better than that oaf, but her prayers went unanswered. However, she was thankful that they never had sex or any sexual interactions with each other throughout their "marriage."

 

Sex was the first thing on Rodolphus' mind after they got married, but she made it clear that she would not have sex with him, and he was not going to touch her at all. She only allowed him to hold her hand when they needed to as to keep up appearances. Being the stubborn man that he was, he didn't take too kindly being told what to do, especially from a woman. The first act of defiance brought a crazed look to her eyes as she delivered an unexpected Cruciatus curse upon her husband. After that, she was less worried about her husband making any sexual advances, but instead losing brain cells from hearing her husband say anything moronic. He learned quickly not to mess with now Bellatrix, but that didn't stop him from trying, now and again, to see if she warmed up to him. One intense look from Bellatrix would immediately send the message to him. He wasn't happy about it, but the last thing he needed was to remember when he got his ass kicked by his wife.

 

When Lord Voldemort entered the room, everyone immediately stopped all their conversations and sat upright.

 

When she first met Lord Voldemort, he was an ambitious rising force in Britain. She saw the potential and the power he held within him, and she wanted inclusion in his plan to take over Britain. However, little Harry Potter foiled all of it. She heard about James Potter and his mudblood of a wife dying by the hands of the Dark Lord, but dying to a baby? How was that possible?

 

There must have been more to the prophecy than initially reported.

 

That was the main motive of this meeting. Lord Voldemort wanted the prophecy in his hands to move onto the next step, kill Albus Dumbledore and Harry Potter. With Harry and Albus defeated, everything will fall apart, including their little Order of the Phoenix. If only he knew what she had in mind instead.

Slowly moving right beside Lord Voldemort was Peter Pettigrew. Bellatrix looked at him with disgust.

 

Pettigrew was a coward and a pushover. Everyone knew that. Bellatrix does her best to torment the little wretch like the rodent he animgates to. It entertained her to watch him scream for it to stop. It's one of the few things that brought a smile to her face.

 

Voldemort took his place at the head of the table. Pettigrew stood to the left of Voldemort. Pettigrew looked at the Dark Lord for a moment before he looked down and started to shake uncontrollably. He was expecting another Cruciatus curse, and Bellatrix would be happy to provide it for him. Voldemort looked around the table to scan at all the faces. Most who met his stare tensed up and sat up straight. Voldemort then turned to look at Bellatrix. She looked back without fear and felt his Legilimency that prodded at her mind. In an instant, she pulled up her shield and blocked it. Voldemort looked at her in the faintest look of surprise, then slowly returned to face the middle of the room. He looked at the wards placed in the room to make sure they were secured. At last, he spoke.

 

"I hope everyone is paying attention to what I will detail. I will say it only once. Failure is not an option for the upcoming task. You do not want to fail me."

 

He let the words sit for everyone to digest before continuing.

 

"As you know, the Department of Mysteries holds something vital in our mission to conquer Britain. We will infiltrate the Ministry of Magic on the 18th and enter the Department of Mysteries. We will secure the prophecy and leave. It's expected that we will run into the Order of the Phoenix or…"

 

His face contorted in anger,

 

"Potter. I will prepare us to fight any opposition in our way. However, our main priority is to collect the prophecy safely and leave. We want to stay hidden from the public; once we secure the prophecy, we'll launch our last plan and ambush Britain."

 

Bellatrix listened to the plan detailed by the Dark Lord. Her exterior held no emotion, but on the inside, her mind was racing. The inevitable battle at the Department of Mysteries would be the perfect time to start her plan. She didn't expect it so soon after she escaped from Azkaban, but she was an opportunist. This might be the one chance she has to push forth her plan into action without raising suspicion.

Over the years, she wallowed in the hell that was Azkaban, her thoughts of Voldemort started to change. How could such a supposedly all-powerful wizard lose to a fucking baby? If he was so powerful, how could he not change his prophecy when he knew about the result? It became clear to Bellatrix that Voldemort was a sham. She wanted the power, and Voldemort would not give it to her.

 

So, she'll take it for herself.

 

Voldemort gave orders on the positions that each Death Eater will take when they arrive at the Department of Mysteries. She knew already she's going upfront, unfortunately along with Lucius with Rodolphus and Rabastan being in the back with all the other Death Eaters in the middle. Next, the Death Eaters in the middle will split, and some will follow Rodolphus and Rabastan, who will go upfront for their pack, and the rest will follow Bellatrix and Lucius.

 

"Are there questions?"

 

The room stayed silent.

 

"Good. We shall be ready for the 18th. Be prepared, and do not fail me."

 

Voldemort then turned to Peter Pettigrew, who looked up at the Dark Lord with terrified eyes.

 

"Because we all know what the punishment for failure is. Right Wormtail?"

 

Before Pettigrew could respond, Voldemort used Crucio on him. Pettigrew immediately fell to the floor and writhed and contorted in pain. His scream deafened the room as the Dark Lord put more pressure into the spell. Bellatrix looked on in enjoyment as she watched the weak little rat in pain. Bellatrix then took a moment to look at the other reactions to the curse. Most were enjoying it as much as she was, but two people stood out who didn't look as comfortable. Lucius and Narcissa. When she looked at her sister's bright blue eyes, immediately, her smile left her face, and for a moment, Narcissa saw Bellatrix Black, not Bellatrix Lestrange.

 

'Don't worry, Cissy, soon everything will be right. You'll be right there with me, without your pathetic excuse for a husband. I'll make you happy again.'  

 

Just as sudden as the screams started, it stopped as Voldemort released the spell. Pettigrew stayed on the floor as he whimpered in pain.

 

"Right, Wormtail?

 

Wormtail gave an unintelligible response before Voldemort used the spell again.

 

"We can't hear you, Wormtail. Let's try it again. Right Wormtail?"

 

"Y-Y-YES MY LORD!" He squeaked out.

 

Voldemort rereleased the spell. Wormtail lay on the ground unconscious, with only the slight motion of his stomach that showed he was still alive. Blood trickled out from his nose and mixed with the dark colors of the pristine floor.

 

"Someone tends to Wormtail. Everyone else is dismissed."

 

With a swift motion, he turned to exit the room. He looked at Bellatrix one last time, and she stared back. This time he doesn't use Legilimency but instead attempted to read her face. With nothing to find, he then turned and exited the room.

 

With his exit, Bellatrix got up and headed to the main foyer.

 

"Hey, where the hell are you going?" Rodolphus asked.

 

Bellatrix didn't bother to give him a reply before she headed down to the foyer. She stared at the painting hanging above the well-maintained fireplace before she headed to the Malfoy library.

 

 

 

 

As much as she hated Lucius Malfoy and his entire existence. She had to admit they had a beautiful library. Books, regular and dark alike, were there for her reading pleasure, but only one book was that she looked for. She turned to the entrance to the Malfoy library and locked it. Bellatrix carefully put a ward in place to tell her of anyone who was near the library. She must make sure no one can find what she has planned.

 

"Accio Soul Book," 

 

She heard a book fly within the depths of the library. At last, she saw the book speed towards her and grabbed it out of the air. She looked at the title of the book.  Hogwarts, A History by Bathilda Bagshot . Bellatrix took another look at the entrance of the library to make sure the ward was still up.

 

With excitement, she took off the glamour of the book and revealed the actual book title.

 

 Puterea sufletului: cum să schimbi mintea slabă de Dragoslav Tismaneanu 

 (The Power of the Soul: How to Change the Mind of the Weak by Dragoslav Tismaneanu) 

 

She knew the Malfoy library didn't have the book, but the Black library did. It was one of the few things that the Black family kept good records of. Within the first month of her escape, she stole the book from the Black Library in the dead of night. She replaced the tome with another obscure book within the confines of the library to not arouse suspicion. The book was a golden color peeling from age, showing little of the glory it once had.

 

Bellatrix turned to the bookmarked page in the book. Bellatrix's crazed smile returned to her features as she whispered the name of the spell,

 

 "Schimbarea sufletului," 

 "(Changing the Soul)" 

 

Her smile grew wider as she read the description of the spell,

 

 De la corp la minte la suflet, propria ta copie se va manifesta în corpul altuia. 

 (From body to mind to soul, your copy will manifest within the body of another.) 

 

"You won't be a mudblood for long, muddy."

Chapter Text

Hermione Granger looked down at her plate as she focused on chewing her food. Her focus was broken as she heard some sort of animal also sitting at the Gryffindor table. That animal turned out to be Ronald Weasley as he scarfed down his food with a complete lack of control and patience. At a young age, her parents taught her all the manners she needed to know, especially in public. Basic things like not having your elbows on the table, don't chew with your mouth full, and other things that should be common sense. For Ron, though, any decency was thrown out the door when it came to food. She would say something to him, but anything she says that wasn't information for an essay (that he still hasn't completed) or something that was important to him goes in one ear and comes out the other.

 

Hermione has been used to this kind of treatment from Ron ever since her first year at Hogwarts. From the first time she heard him make fun of her behind her back within Hogwarts's first-ever week, she wanted nothing to with him throughout her time at Hogwarts. However, Ron was friends with Harry Potter. After Harry and Ron saved her from the troll, she became the third person to join what they were dubbed as "The Golden Trio". Internally she dubs the group as "The Golden Duo" as it was just Harry and Hermione with Ron, who does nothing but holds both of them back.

 

Her patience with him completely went away when he had the nerve to ask her out to the Yule Ball during their fourth-year. His absolutely disgusting attitude towards women, complaining about "all the good ones being taken," Hermione wanted to punch him enough to realize that women were more than something to ogle at. He had the gall to say all of that within hearing range; it was genuinely telling about the kind of person Ron was. She was shocked when Ron managed to find a date with Padma Patil. She would learn later that he only got a date because Harry managed to convince Parvati to have her sister go with Ron.

 

Her date with Viktor Krum to the ball was enjoyable. She wasn't interested in him romantically, but he was still an entertaining person to talk to. Despite the cold exterior, he held a lot of emotions inside. He told a lot about his family and how his father's increasingly high expectations for him. As a result of those expectations, he had to push a lot of his friends away to focus on achieving the goals that his father expects of him. By the end, he had his head down as his eyes were shining with unshed tears. To lighten the mood, she told tales of the adventures she, Harry, and Ron had during their first three years of Hogwarts. She went from their little journey to capture the Philosopher's Stone to the little things like the time on April Fool's day in their second year when they transfigured Malfoy's hair into continually changing to the colors of the rainbow. This worked as a smile slowly grew on his face as Hermione told more of her tales. She was enjoying the Yule Ball until Ron had to go and ruin it because, to him, if he couldn't be happy, nobody else can.

 

She only stayed with "The Golden Trio" because of what she felt she owed to Harry. He was her first friend she ever had. Before Harry, she only had her parents to keep her company. In grade school, she was made fun of because of her appearance and mocked for her intelligence. No matter what disciplinary actions were given to the students for their bullying, it continued with increased intensity. After school, she would always dive into her endless stack of books in isolation, so she didn't have to think about what they said to her that day. When she received her letter to Hogwarts, she saw it as a chance to start fresh. However, the same mocking came from Slytherins, but from two people, Draco Malfoy and Pansy Parkinson. They discriminated against her based on her blood status, and her heart dropped that she was going to repeat all the heartache.

 

However, when Harry became her friend, he defended her, even his supposed best friend and her supposed friend Ron. They both felt a connection because of their childhood. Not fitting in, being bullied because of it, and having a second chance to fit in. He was sincere with his feelings and treated her with respect. Even when he was lazy with schoolwork, with some encouragement, he always was able to complete it without having to copy off her work. It felt nice to be appreciated by someone. She would never forget what Harry did for her.

 

Her thoughts were interrupted when she felt something wet get into her hair and onto her robes.

 

"My apologies, mudblood, didn't see you there," said a haughty voice she heard from behind.

 

She turned around to see the pug-like face of Pansy Parkinson, who grinned at her and had her chin up in the act of superiority.

 

Before she could reply, Harry stood between her and Parkinson,

 

"What the hell is your problem, Parkinson?"

 

"Defending your girlfriend Potter? I didn't know you were into mudbloods. I thought you were more into bloodtraitors."

 

Hermione saw Harry's hands tighten into fists. She knew she had to stop this. With Umbridge breathing down his neck, this was the last thing he needed to deal with.

 

"Gotta hide behind your boyfriend, mudblood? I thought you were supposed to be the brightest girl of her age. But you can't even fight your own battles? You're a coward."

 

Hermione's brows furrowed.

 

"Says the girl who pours pumpkin juice behind someone's back instead of doing it to her face." She retorted.

 

Parkinson's face immediately scrunched up with her pug-like features emphasized.

 

"What are you going to do about it, bitch?"

 

Hermione stood up and was now face level with Parkinson. Harry looked at her with concern as tension was escalating within the Great Hall. Ron looked up from his plate of food and was ready to intervene, but a quick glare from Pansy immediately stopped any further movement from Ron. Students within the range of the altercation looked at them with the intrigue of what possibly could occur.

 

"I think that's enough entertainment in the hall for one day."

 

The three of them turned their heads to look at the potions professor whose lips were stretched into a strained and somewhat disturbing smile.

 

"Instigating fights again, Potter? I shouldn't be surprised. Maybe fifty points from Gryffindor will make you reconsider fighting battles for Granger."

 

"But professor I- "

 

Snape immediately turned his head at Hermione as his eyes bore straight into hers,

 

"I don't think I was speaking to you, Ms. Granger, but as usual, you seem to lack the restraint to keep quiet for less than a minute. Your fellow Gryffindors would appreciate the points you've lost for them over the years for your insistence to always have the last word like the smart Alek you are."

 

Hermione's face started to turn red in embarrassment as Pansy had her head down with her hands, covering her mouth in what she assumed was held back laughing.

 

She was going to say something but proving his point was another thing she didn't want to do. Harry put his hand on her shoulder. She looked at him, and her face softened.

 

"What's going on here?"

 

Hermione internally sighed in relief as she saw her favorite Professor join the little gathering in the middle of the Great Hall. Professor McGonagall took a moment to give a stern glare to Pansy, who was still laughing (albeit with less intensity as before) but stopped immediately when she met the Transfiguration professor's eyes.

 

"Professor, Pansy intentionally spilled pumpkin juice on Hermione and called her a 'mudblood'" Harry replied to the Professor's initial question.

 

McGonagall's eyes went back to Parkinson as her pug face scrunched up again from Harry's accusations.

 

"I did nothing of the sort Potter. I accidentally spilled my pumpkin juice exiting the Great Hall, and you decided to make it more of a problem than it needed to be", Pansy replied with a response that felt like it was rehearsed.

 

"I would agree with Ms. Parkinson's statement Minerva. Potter tends to…imagine a lot in his mind."

 

Harry's face darkened at what Snape was mentioning as his green eyes glared daggers at Snape, who matched it with the same intensity.

 

"Well, I think all the Great Hall disagrees with that fairytale, Severus."

 

Snape turned to McGonagall and sneered at the mention of his first name, but McGonagall ignored the glare and continued.

 

"That "accident" was deliberate. I know you take a lassiez-faire approach into controlling your house, but defending something so intentional that you lie to save face says a lot more about you than Ms. Granger."

 

Hermione smiled at the response. Harry's face immediately lightened as well as Snape's face looked like he ate a lemon. Pansy throughout the little ordeal was slowly backing out of the circle,

 

"Don't think you're getting away that easy, Ms. Parkinson. I hope having Ms. Granger doing a simple Scourgify on her robes was worth the detention you'll be facing this afternoon. And maybe our three other sessions together will make you change your attitude towards those different than you."

 

Snape rubbed his temples in annoyance as Pansy sputtered in disbelief.

 

"Bloody bullshite, this is. Are you going to let this bias stand, Professor? Do something!" Pansy exclaimed in desperation.

 

"I think fifteen points from Slytherin for the use of inappropriate language will join with that detention, Ms. Parkinson."

 

Cheeks red with anger, Pansy stormed out of the Great Hall.

 

Snape glared at all three of the Gryffindors before slowly making his way back to his seat in the front of the Great Hall. McGonagall smiled at the two of them,

 

"I'm sorry that you had to deal with that, Ms. Granger. If Dumbledore was still here, Professor Snape would've gotten had some sort of punishment towards him. He wouldn't have tolerated that type of hatred here, especially something so deliberate." McGonagall internally shuddered at the toad (figuratively and literally) that was Dolores Umbridge.

 

"It's okay Professor, I'm used to it."

 

McGonagall frowned at the reply.

 

"That should never be the case, but hopefully this was the last time Ms. Parkinson will bother you this year."

 

Harry shook his head immediately.

 

"Sorry, Professor, but Slytherins like Malfoy and Parkinson doesn't give up that easily."

 

Hermione nodded in agreement. What bothered Hermione was that Pansy didn't use to be like this. She remembered when she first walked into the Great Hall, Hermione was walking beside Pansy, and she was telling her about the ceiling. Hermione was surprised when Pansy enthusiastically responded by saying to her about some of the ghosts watching the opening ceremony in the edges of the room. In her mind, she thought that she found a friend that she could learn more from and herself give knowledge to. Even in her shock and disappointment when Pansy went to Slytherin, Hermione hoped that Pansy wouldn't develop the personality traits that were written about some of the most notorious Slytherins. When she saw Pansy again right after Charms class, and her "friend" called her a "mudblood" for the first time, her heart broke. Hermione remembered herself walking as fast as her legs could carry her to the bathroom before all the tears could be seen by the other students. Her first-year mind wouldn't have believed her day could've gotten any worse, but that's when she heard the loud, lumbering footsteps of a mountain troll enter the girl's lavatory. One thing led to another, and she came out of the girl's bathroom with two friends, well, one friend and one semi-friend.

 

"Is there anything the two of you need?" Professor McGonagall asked.

 

"No, Professor. Other than clean robes and some work to my hair. I think I'm good." Hermione replied.

 

"Doesn't your hair always need work, though?" Harry said with an amused look.

 

Hermione lightly punched him on the shoulder, and Harry gave a fake hurt expression.

 

"Okay, you two. Off you go."

 

McGonagall then left the two of them as she returned to her seat.

 

"Bloody hell. Can't we just have a lunch where we can eat in peace?" Ron said before he returned to eating his food. Hermione rolled her eyes as she turned back to Harry.

 

"You don't need to go with me, Harry. Just finish your lunch. I'll meet you and Ron back in the common room."

 

"Okay, 'Mione. I'll see you later. With less frizz, potentially."

 

"Impossible." She laughed as she left towards the Gryffindor common room.

 

 

 

Hermione looked at herself in the mirror as she looked over her, now cleaned off clothing and hair. She was impressed that pumpkin juice could seep so far into Hogwarts robes. She always had bushy hair, she's seen it in her pictures when she was a toddler that her hair was the only thing rebellious on her at the time. Over the years, she's managed to tame it well enough that it doesn't stick out like a sore thumb, but it's still one thing that annoyed her. Her hazel eyes glanced over her plain-looking features, plain skin, plain face, plain everything. She used to have large teeth, but that was corrected the previous year. That was the only thing she could ever thank Malfoy for.

 

Her body kept with the trend of her facial features, very plain. She wasn't huge in terms of bust size, but that didn't bother her. The last thing she needed was hormonal teenage boys leering at some girls' boobs. Lavender Brown knows this from experience. Though she did admit, she developed some curves during the summer as her slim figure developed with it. Not that most of the boys around the school cared. If a girl wasn't some supermodel with big boobs, lovely hips, and a plump arse, then they wouldn't care. While it annoyed her to no end, it didn't seem to bother Ginny.

 

During the summer between fourth- and fifth-year, Hermione and Ginny got to know more about each other during their time at 12 Grimmauld Place. Ginny was a female, smarter, and a less bull-headed version of Ron, and while Ginny still had the infamous Weasley temper with her; she was a Weasley sibling she wanted to be around (Fred and George too but they were always busy doing…whatever prank they had planned that day).

 

They became friends close enough so that Ginny let her in on a secret she hasn't told anyone else. She led Hermione to her and Hermione's room and locked the door. She asked Hermione to use a silencing spell, and Hermione cast a quick " Silencio"  at the door. Ginny closed her eyes and blurted it out. She was bisexual.

 

She read about sexuality when her parents gave her "the talk," She read about how men and women could be into other men and women, but not necessarily exclusively. Some men and women only liked men and women, but some liked both.

 

She was surprised, to say the least, when she came out with something so personal to her, especially when they just became friends.

 

"Why did you say this to me?" Hermione asked.

 

Ginny's face immediately fell, and instantly Hermione re-phrased her initial statement,

 

"I-I mean, why would you tell me this? We only just became friends. I-I appreciate the trust, but I feel like there is a reason you're telling me this."

 

Ginny's face softened, and she started to talk about her relationship with Luna Lovegood.

 

She knew all about Luna or "Loony," as most students loved to use. Hermione saw her as a free spirit, always in her little world. She was impressed that nothing seemed to faze the girl even when she heard little bits of what some students did to her. Luna kept that airy expression on her face. The more she thought about what Ginny told her, she remembered the times Ginny was there with Luna, and how close they sat next to each other when they ate lunch together. People who didn't know much about sexuality could easily assume they were close childhood friends, but to Hermione, it made sense. To be honest, she thought they looked adorable together. Some partnerships go for the "opposites attract" angle, and while she didn't believe in such a saying, it matched the two of them entirely. Ginny's fiery personality contrasted with Luna's calming aura. Ginny's outspoken confidence to Luna's quiet yet powerful confidence. Ginny broke off her story and got into the reason for telling her all of this.

 

"Hermione. I know how much you love to read books."

 

Hermione rolled her eyes at that.

 

"I was wondering if you can find anything about the history of- "

 

She lowered her voice despite the silencing charm,

 

"LGBT witches and wizards in Britain."

 

Hermione internally cried for Ginny. The LGBT communities' history in the wizarding community of Britain was not a happy one. Even in the muggle world, there was still animosity towards them, but they weren't as bad as those she read in the wizarding world. The most recent attack, "The Dyke Hunt of '79" (coined by the Death Eaters), was when many Death Eaters were targeting lesbian witches before raping them and killing them. It was a barbaric thing to read. During the height of Voldemort's reign, they targeted everyone, but especially to vulnerable communities, which meant the LGBT community was one of their favorite targets. When the First Wizarding War ended, violence against the LGBT community died, but the hatred towards them was still there. There were many examples of these types of hunts and targeted killings happening in the report she read, To Love is to Kill: The History of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities in Britain by Hazel Bamford.

 

"Sure, Ginny. Anything to help you." She gave a forced smile.

 

Ginny pulled her into a hug as she gave a relieved smile.

 

"Thank you, Hermione. I knew I could trust you." Ginny smiled at her before she left the room, and Hermione stood there, mind still racing on what to say to Ginny.

 

Breaking out of her trance at the situation that she relived, she looked at the clock. Eyes widening, she packed her belongings. She took one last look at the mirror before she raced down the stairs to meet up with her friends for afternoon classes.

Chapter Text

Bellatrix took a final look at the book in front of her. She needed to make sure everything she needed to know was memorized. It was inevitable that Potter would arrive at the Ministry, especially after the Dark Lord sent a false vision to the half-blood Potter. This would most certainly guarantee that the blood traitor Weasley would be there, but most importantly, the mudblood. With a final look at the spell incantation and the wand movement needed, she closed the book. She took out her wand (12¾" made of walnut and dragon heartstring core) and pointed it at the tome.

 

"Incendio."

 

Her dark brown eyes could show the fire she had in her as the book burned in front of her eyes. In a matter of seconds, the book was reduced to nothing but a tiny amount of ash. A small amount of gold still flickered within the ashes. With a quick cleaning spell, nothing remained of the book.

 

Bellatrix looked at herself in the mirror as she smiled at her reflection with a crazed smile. She made sure that everything she needed was with her for the spell to work. She felt at the side of her leg, making sure it was there. She felt the bulge of the knife and looked again at herself.

 

She was ready.

 

The door to her room opened, and her eyes narrowed in focus as she drew her wand, ready to hex whoever was entering her room without permission, but then stopped at who came.

 

Narcissa.

 

Her eyes immediately softened at the sight of her younger sister.

 

She was the only thing she still had a love for. She used to love Andromeda, but she betrayed the Black name by marrying a mudblood. She'll get what she deserves in due time. Narcissa is all that matters to her now. And if everything fell into place, Narcissa will get everything she dreamed of when she was younger.

 

"What do you want, Cissy?" Bellatrix said strongly.

 

Narcissa smiled.

 

"You still call me that? After all these years?"

 

Bellatrix matched her smile. One that held happiness instead of insanity.

 

"Yes. You have a problem with that?" Bellatrix replied in mock anger.

 

Narcissa's smiled faltered slightly.

 

"No. I- "

 

She hesitated. Bellatrix stared at her intensely as Narcissa struggled to find the words to say to her older sister.

 

"I wanted to make sure that you'll be okay. It means-"

 

Narcissa stopped again. This time her bright blue eyes shining with tears.

 

"It means so much to me, seeing you again without the bars between us. I just want to wake up the next morning to see your face alive and well. I don't want to lose you. Not again."

 

She finished her words with tears starting to fall on her porcelain face as memories of her younger self flooded into her mind. Her younger self crying in her seat as Bellatrix was hauled off to Azkaban. The fight she had with Andromeda, and the loss of two sisters in a matter of weeks. The isolation she dealt with as her heart yearned to find someone, who unfortunately turned out to be Lucius Malfoy. The desperation as they made love and in the months that followed, Draco was born. The regret she had over marrying Lucius as she still felt the bruises underneath her glamour charm.

 

Bellatrix immediately swiped away the imperfections and softly lifted her younger sister's head to meet her eyes.

 

"Cissy, I want you to listen to me. I will never leave you again. Being in Azkaban has made me realize what time I've wasted. I can see it in your eyes that you're not happy, and neither am I. Soon, everything will fall into place, and we can live that dream again. The dream we had when we were kids. Do you remember that, Narcissa?"

 

Narcissa looked at Bellatrix in confusion. After a moment of thought, her eyes widened in remembrance.

 

"You mean…" Narcissa started.

 

Bellatrix smiled warmly with the same memory in her mind.

 

"What I have planned in the future will have you and me, together, until the day I die. Just a little more time, and our dream will be very much real."

 

Bellatrix then pulled Narcissa in her arms in a warm embrace. Narcissa wrapped her arms around Bellatrix's center as her heart melted in happiness. She knew that Bellatrix Black was still inside the crazy exterior of Bellatrix Lestrange. She relished the warmth of her older sister before Bellatrix slowly released the embrace.

 

"I'll be okay Cissy, we'll be back before the dawn, at the latest."

 

Bellatrix then turned to join up with the rest of the death-eaters in preparation.

 

"I love you." Narcissa blurted out.

 

Bellatrix turned to look at her sister. Her face was now slightly red in embarrassment.

 

"I love you too, Narcissa. Forever and always." As she exited the room, her eyes darkened, and her brows furrowed in concentration as she focused on the task she had planned.

 

 'It's time.'

 

 

 

 

The Department of Mysteries was about as cliched as its name. It was a façade of fear when it was just a bunch of prophecies no one cared about—all except Voldemort and his mindless droves of Death Eaters. Entering the Department of Mysteries was easy enough, it took more time than needed to ensure no silent alarms were tripped that surrounded the entrance. Despite the initial intrigue, the department, especially with such a vague name, Bellatrix concluded that the name didn't match with reality. Just a never-ending stretch of prophecies that hugged the side of the room. For Bellatrix, their little break-in went from thrilling to boring in a flash. Bellatrix looked around without much care for the prophecy that etched Potter's name. It started to wear on her mind, just looking at the orbs that all looked the same. That thought changed when she felt something pulling her, almost like a voice speaking right into her mind. She stopped and proceeded to look at the nearly endless rows of prophecies before her. At last, her eyes laid on an orb bearing the title:

 

Bellatrix Black and Hermione ????????

 

With sudden interest, she looked around to see if anyone was within her vicinity. With no one about, she carefully took the orb in her hands. Bellatrix gazed at her reflection that the globe gave her for a moment before she pointed her wand at the prophecy and quickly muttered a transportation spell. The orb then disappeared in an instant as it transported to her chest within her quarters.

 

Satisfied, she continued to lazily gaze around for the prophecy when a scream broke the silence. It was a female scream, and with a sudden rush of excitement, she proceeded to run towards the sound of the cry.

 

"I must thank you, Potter, for finding the prophecy. I think you'll find it safer for both you and your friends if you hand it over to us." The cold voice of Lucius said to what she could only assume was Potter.

 

She internally groaned at what Lucius said.

 

'Seriously? That's the best you could come up with?'

 

A moment of silence before Potter responded.

 

"Where's Sirius?"

 

She couldn't hold back as she laughed maniacally at the name of her cousin. The first bloodtraitor she was introduced to. Joining the cowardly group of supposedly brave students, Gryffindors. Throughout the years in Hogwarts, he showed that he never had what it took to be a genuine Black. She only saw it come out when she forced it out during "mock" duels. Even then, she knew his weaknesses. Always letting emotions get the better of him, which would eventually cause him to slip up and leave himself vulnerable to a hex.

 

She decided it was time to make herself known to Lucius and Potter as she appeared from the shadows and joined Lucius. She finally managed to get a good look at the boy.

 

She immediately sneered at first glance at his face. Same face as James Potter. The arrogant little shit at school had about as much arrogance as Lucius, but with Lucius at least had some semblance of control. Potter had none of that. Continually making jokes, always flirting, and continuously being an annoyance to the whole school. He acted so toughly when he was with his group of misfits, including bloodtraitor Sirius, bookworm Lupin, and cowardly, pathetic Wormtail, but when Potter was alone, he was just a scared little boy. It only took one swift attack after Potions to render him begging for the pain to stop. She smiled when she remembered the speedy kick he received to the face in response that rendered him unconscious. Afterward, the detentions were worth it to knock him off his little throne, even for just a moment.

 

The only thing that distinguished Potter from his little spawn was those green eyes that were the eyes of mudblood Lily Evans. The golden girl of Gryffindor. Always so lovely and friendly to everyone she met, including Severus. It was her most effective way to get some amount of annoyance at Severus. Her naivety was perfect for making her life at Hogwarts a living hell. Her favorite was during Evan's fourth-year she added a little message behind Evan's robes that encapsulated her perfectly:

 

Mudblood Hole

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V

Warning: Has been through extreme use. Handle with care.

 

She relished watching the little mudblood cry in front of her as she was mocked by the Slytherins. Her stupidity was on display as she didn't realize what they were making fun of her for (other than being a mudblood) until a third-year Hufflepuff spoiled the fun. It was one of her favorite highlights at her time in Hogwarts, though dealing with a pissed off Severus wasn't enjoyable. She could only hope to torture their little bastard child as well.

 

Ickle-baby Potter wasn't the only one that was there. She then looked at the bloodtraitor, Weasley. The red hair made it visible enough to her. One look at his face, and she knew that this child was an absolute moron, just like the rest of his family. It could be a result of having more children than money, which resulted in a lack of a proper upbringing.

 

Like the Weasley children deserved any sort of happiness anyways.

 

And to the right of the weasel was the only girl in their group and the main reason she was here. When she was holed up in Azkaban, she was still working out who would be her target. She struggled to think of anyone that wasn't old or as dumb as Hippogriff dung. Narcissa was able to unintentionally help her during one of her visits. She talked about the annoyance of her son continually talking about this 'Granger' girl being a pain in his side. That immediately earned the girl points in her book already. Narcissa continued the conversation, but Bellatrix was only half-listening. She needed to remember this girl for the future.

 

Once she was out of Azkaban, she immediately did more research about Granger. She was a mudblood but had all the abilities to make a powerful witch. Regularly ranking the top of her class and, from the stories she heard from Draco, had a sharp tongue to boot. She initially hated that a mudblood was planned to be her right-hand man (or woman in this case), but when she read more into the book, her displeasure turned into elation as she started to laugh within the library of Malfoy Manor.

 

She looked at Granger, in her pre-soul spell form. The hair was an immediate notice to her with it sticking out like at random intervals. It made her look bigger than she was. Hazel eyes currently glaring at Lucius. Her face was nothing special, but that would change in time. Her body was also nothing special, but momentarily licking her lips, her body would change as well as take a moment to take in her slim figure.

 

'Muddy, you will soon be delectable.'

 

She decided it was time to intervene in what was becoming a pathetically one-sided battle of words between Lucius and Potter. If she was going to go out, she was going to go out with a bang.

 

"So," said Potter, "what kind of prophecy are we talking about anyway?"

 

It was evident that Potter was stalling. Most likely for the Order to arrive.

 

"Quit your stalling Potter and give me the prophecy!" Lucius said with increasing volume.

 

Potter shook his head,

 

"I'm not. I'm genuinely curious. What's in this prophecy?"

 

Bellatrix decided to step in for Lucius.

 

"Don't play dumb Potter. You know exactly what's in the prophecy."

 

Potter's face then lit up.

 

"Now, I know! It's a prophecy for your supposedly pure-blooded Dark Lord and me. Did you know that Voldemort is actually a half-blood?"

 

She saw what he was doing, trying to anger her so they could have an opening to try to escape. What Potter and his group didn't know was the Death Eaters surrounding every exit, they were trapped. She decided to play in Potter's game. If only to speed things up. She needed to get to the girl.

 

"Shut it, Potter!" She growled in feigned annoyance.

 

Potter started to smile as he continued.

 

"Yeah, his mother was a witch, but his dad was a muggle – or has he been telling you lot he's pureblood?"

 

She took out her wand and pointed it at Potter. Lucius immediately grabbed her arm to stop her. Her eyes widened before dilating in anger. She spun Lucius around as his back hit the wall with the orbs shaking on impact. She then barred her teeth at him as she pointed her wand at his face,

 

"Don't you fucking touch me again. DO YOU HEAR ME!" She roared.

 

Instead of a reply from Lucius, she instead heard Potter's voice again.

 

"NOW!"

 

She immediately heard " REDUCTO!"  from the group as the orbs around them started to shatter. Bellatrix lost the vision of the group for a moment as the broken glass was obscuring her view.

 

"RUN!"

 

Footsteps were heard running in the opposite direction.

 

"Don't just stand there, you moron. After them!" She bellowed at Lucius, whose face was still in shock in their momentary confrontation.

 

She ran towards the sound of the footsteps as orbs continued to shatter around them. Cries from other Death Eaters were heard as some were following her. Bellatrix needed to find the girl again. She let her emotions get the better of her, and now they were out of sight. With increased vigor, she sped up her movements as she came upon a set of doors.

 

She growled in frustration.

 

'I can't let them get away!'

 

Bellatrix turned to look at the Death Eaters that followed. She quickly scanned the people that were present before she spoke.

 

"Listen up! Potter is around here somewhere in these doors – split up, and each takes a door. Lucius, Rodolphus, you take a left, Crabbe, Rabastan, go right – Jugson, Dolohov, the door straight ahead – Macnair and Avery, through here – Rookwood and Mulciber over there."

 

"And what about you?" Lucius asked.

 

Bellatrix looked at him directly as his eyes showed a hint of fear. She snarled at him.

 

"I can take care of myself, Lucius. You need all the help you can get." She replied as she opened the door, she assigned herself and closed it behind her. 

 

The room she was in looked endless. Many desks made for a menial, tedious, dead-end job for the nobodies that work at the Ministry for Merlin knows what. Bellatrix pointed her wand at her boots,  "Silencio."  In a quick flash of orange light, her combat boots were silenced of all noise. Satisfied, she moved around the office. She turned around every opening, wand at the ready as she was prepared to fight anyone who was waiting at the end, but her shadow was the only occupant. By the end of her search, she looked at every possible hiding spot but found no signs of a person, and most importantly, the girl.

 

Bellatrix screamed in frustration as she let a golden opportunity pass her by. They had escaped. With one last glance at the office, she went to the door and opened it. As she exited the room, she heard a voice call from one of the other places she assigned.

 

"WE'VE GOT HIM! IN AN OFFICE OFF-"

 

The voice was the cut-off.

 

'No doubt a silencing charm.'

 

She opened the door in the direction of the voice. Her heart leaped in excitement as not only was the Potter boy located, but the Granger girl also. Seizing the opportunity presented to her, she took the knife from the side of her leg and quickly sliced her wand hand open. A grunt of pain came out of her throat as blood started to trickle out from the wound. Bellatrix returned the knife back to its holster; She returned her wand back into her still bleeding hand and waited as the blood started to seep into the wand. She then returned her eyes at the girl with a smile,

 

"You're mine now, muddy!" She cried out.

 

Bellatrix pointed her wand at the mudblood as she uttered the spell,

 

"Schimbarea sufletului!"

 

A flash of bright green light raced towards the girl. The girl started to move her wand to deflect the spell, but she was too late as the spell hit her directly in the chest. The girl's eyes widened before the light engulfed her. When the light died down, she on the ground, unmoving.

 

"HERMIONE!" Potter yelled.

 

Potter then quickly checked on Hermione. His head started to shake before he let out a cry of agony before setting his green eyes on her.

 

"YOU KILLED HER! YOU'RE DEAD LESTRANGE! YOU'RE DEAD!"

 

Bellatrix smiled at the boy, whose brain didn't understand the magic that was happening underneath his nose.

 

'Hermione Granger might be dead for now, but soon she'll be more than Hermione Granger ever thought she would be.'

 

"You want to kill me, ickle-baby Potter? Let's just see how powerful you are!"

 

She stepped forward with confidence as she pointed her wand again—this time at Harry Potter.

Chapter Text

Hermione regained consciousness and immediately knew something was wrong. She didn't hear any noise of the battle being waged within the atrium of the Ministry of Magic; she wasn't even in the Hospital Wing at Hogwarts with Madam Pomfrey watching over her with her calculating eyes. The only thing she remembered was the flash of bright green light speeding towards her. Hermione's heart immediately sunk in realization.

 

She immediately felt tears run down her face as she cried out. Hermione continued until she ran out of tears to give to the pristine floor. Slowly regaining her composure, she slowly surveyed her surroundings.

 

Hermione saw the endless stretch of books that surrounded her. She realized that she was sitting in some alternate version of the Hogwarts Library. However, there was no Madame Pince hawking over students, and there were no students carelessly leaving books unattended to. It felt like an abandoned library, pristine, yet forgotten. Hermione was still in her clothes that she wore when she and their group went to the Department of Mysteries, even having her bag that was filled with potions she prepared for emergency healing. She took a quick look at the bag and saw that the contents were empty.

 

Hermione walked around the empty library, trying to find any semblance of life other than herself. She knew deep down that her attempts were in vain, but that never stopped her before.

 

"HELLO? ANYONE?" Hermione's voice bounced off the shelves of books as it carried for a while. No answer called back.

 

'Well, if I'm dead, might as well find some answers.'

 

Searching for a place to start, she immediately began to think about what needed the most answers. She knew that she was dead from the killing curse,

 

'Damn you, Lestrange. I'll haunt you until the end of time, and I'll be sure to give you a welcoming present in Hell.'

 

She knew she was in some version of the Hogwarts Library, but not the correct version. That's what she needed to know. With determination, Hermione went towards the library catalog. Fingers skimmed the different sections before it finally found the part that she needed. Pulling the little drawer open, her fingers returned to scanning the long list of tiny cards. Near the half-way mark, she immediately stopped and pulled the card out from its original spot. Hermione read the location before returning the card to its original position.

 

'At least everything still works in this alternate library.'

 

She carried herself towards the second floor of the library. Hermione never remembered herself going to the second floor at any point during her time at Hogwarts. Neither did Harry or Ron for that matter. Her footsteps slowed at the thought of her friends. Tears started to build up in her eyes with the memories she and her friends had together.

 

'Harry, Ron, I'm so sorry. I failed you.'

 

Her speed was slowed as sadness continued to fill her body. Harry Potter. The boy-who-lived, but also her best friend. She never looked at her best friend as the "boy-who-lived," Instead, she looked past the heroic stories she read in those books that surrounded Flourish and Blotts and saw Harry Potter. While he occasionally used instincts instead of his brain, his heart was in the right place. She knew that instantly when he stupidly grabbed on the club of the mountain troll. Harry never talked about his personal life that often, but the few times that he opened to her, Hermione's heart broke for her friend as he ended his experience with abuse with tears. He could've used that abuse to be filled with hatred and used it to get revenge for those that hurt him, but he never did that. Hermione made sure to ask Harry if he wanted a hug, after a slow nod, she wrapped her arms around him as she still felt the tears seep into her robes.

 

The sadness wasn't as powerful for Ron, but rather, another emotion rose up. Anger. She couldn't believe that throughout all the years of Hogwarts, Ron never managed to grow up and was still an absolutely immature, spoiled, annoying little boy. Harry managed to take responsibility early when the course work grew, and the difficulty increased. He knew when it was time to relax and when to take something seriously. Ron, however, never grew up. He still was an eleven-year-old in a fifteen-year-old body. Always impolite, always giving up at the slightest adversity, and always complaining when she and Harry went down to the library to study or work on an essay.

 

'Hopefully, he grows up. I don't want to hold in all this anger. Harry would've never wanted that.'

 

She felt herself grow pink at the way she worded it in her mind. From time to time, she thought about that idea, of herself and Harry, together. Hermione always heard it from her dormmates Parvati and Lavender about their relationship, but she ignored them for the most part. The last thing she needed was even more rumors about her and Harry when all the school talked about it enough. She never really thought about it until the Yule Ball when she walked down the steps. The look on Harry's face, it made her blush that he looked at her with such amazement. That's when she started to think about how realistic it was for them to last. They were similar, but different. They always got along, and when they did fight, both would still shake hands and apologize at the end of the day. He was probably one of the few boys who showed the slightest respect for her (except Neville, but he never became a part of their group until recently). She could've done a lot worse than Harry if she ever got the chance to.

 

Finally, she reached the section where the book was located. Her eyes gazed upon the book. She reached out her hand towards the book before a voice stopped all her movements.

 

"Even in limbo, you're still a mudblood bookworm."

 

Her blood turned cold, and the previously diminished anger burned again as she turned towards the location of the voice. Hermione glared at the sight of Bellatrix Lestrange. Her hand immediately went towards her wand, but she grasped air instead.

 

"Trying to go for your wand muddy? Very brave of you to think you could win against me after what happened. However, you're not in control. I am. You don't have to worry mudblood, I'm not here to hurt you."

 

Hermione bit her tongue for a second before responding.

 

"What are you doing here, Lestrange? Shouldn't you be celebrating my death with your fellow Death Eaters with champagne and all that?"

 

Bellatrix grinned.

 

"Like I would celebrate someone's death as forgettable as yours. I have more important things to do. But don't be angry muddy, you won't be dead for long."

 

Hermione's anger was replaced with confusion as Bellatrix started to walk away with a sway of her hips. Hermione started to follow her,

 

"What do you mean?"

 

Bellatrix's smile was evident as she turned back to Hermione.

 

"What I'm saying you stupid mudblood is that your death is only temporary. Life has something bigger planned for you. Tell me muddy, do you know anything about Horcruxes?"

 

Hermione was puzzled at the sudden change of subject. She never heard of Horcruxes before and thought it was something Bellatrix made up just to mock her. Her thoughts were cut short, as sharp laughter echoed throughout the library.

 

"So much for being the brightest witch of her age muddy. Horcruxes are the reason that keeps Voldemort alive. They keep a part of his soul within the objects he places them into."

 

Still not believing her, Bellatrix rolled her eyes before she muttered a spell without her wand that Hermione couldn't decipher. Hermione tensed up, anticipating her eventual combustion or any sort of unimaginable pain. Instead, a book flew from one of the many corners of the library before Bellatrix caught it.

 

"Still don't believe me, muddy? I'm hurt. Maybe a book will help. Merlin knows you love books."

 

Bellatrix then threw the book at her. Hermione threw her hands up as she failed to catch it, speeding towards her like a bullet. The dark witch then threw her head back and cackled. Glaring at her, Hermione then turned to pick up the book and read the title:

 

Immortality: Cheating Death at His Own Game by William McDowell

 

"I even bookmarked the page for you. Could help a stupid mudblood like yourself."

 

Keeping one eye on Bellatrix. Hermione sat against the wall when she saw Bellatrix start to move in her direction. She was ready to run until she saw Bellatrix mimic her sitting style, looking at her with a childish smile on her face.

 

'I didn't realize that the top Death Eater was such a child.'

 

Bellatrix's expression then went to that of mock hurt.

 

"Muddy is such a meanie. You're no fun." Bellatrix ended with an exaggerated pout.

 

'Don't tell me…'

 

"That's right muddy, I can listen to whatever thoughts are in that dirty brain of yours."

 

Hermione ignored her as she opened the book to the bookmarked page Bellatrix told her about. While she read the page, she always kept one eye on Bellatrix, who was still sitting but was doing some sort of meditation. Her constant surveillance caused her to take more time to read the pages about Horcruxes than usual. By the end of the section, Hermione closed her eyes and started to breathe deeply to attempt to calm herself down. So much was divulged to her in such little time that she just needed to take a moment to let nothing happen.

 

However, something didn't sit right with Hermione,

 

"Why are you telling me this? Aren't you supposed to be Voldemort's top-ranking Death Eater?"

 

Bellatrix, who was done meditating and was proceeding to randomly taking books off the shelves and throwing them around haphazardly, looked at her with a glare.

 

"Let's just say things change, mudpup. Things will never be the same again, and you're going to be along for the ride soon enough."

 

With those words echoing in her mind, Bellatrix then suddenly dropped the books in her hands, turned, and started to walk away from Hermione.

 

"Hey!"

 

Bellatrix continued to walk as she slowly faded away, leaving Hermione alone again. As soon as she disappeared, Hermione started to feel woozy as she fell to her knees, trying to let the feeling go away. Soon, she collapsed on the floor as she felt something stir deep inside of her as if something was connecting inside of her before she finally lost consciousness. As she lost consciousness, her body faded away from the library, leaving it empty once again.

 

 

 

 

 

The second time she regained consciousness, she heard the voice of someone screaming. After a moment, she recognized the voice as Harry.

 

"YOU'VE KEPT THIS FROM ME? ALL THESE YEARS?"

 

An aged, regal voice, calmly responded,

 

"Harry, this isn't the time for this. We can discuss this in my office."

 

"NO HEADMASTER, I WANT SOME ANSWERS. NO MORE OF YOUR CRYPTIC BULLSHITE!"

 

"Harry, I know that you're upset, bu- "

 

"UPSET? I JUST LOST SIRIUS AND ONE OF MY BEST FRIENDS YOU THINK I'M JUST UPSET?"

 

Dumbledore was ready to respond before the two heard a groan from the opposite side of the Medical Wing. Both saw a slight movement coming from Hermione's body. Harry's green eyes widened in shock as he started to shake his head in denial.

 

"It can't be…" He whispered.

 

Harry rushed towards Hermione's body. He carefully lifted the blanket that covered the exterior of her body. His breath hitched as he saw movements coming from Hermione. Unconvinced, Harry put his head on her chest. Softly, he heard the faint heartbeat that proved that his eyes weren't deceiving him. Harry immediately lifted his head and called,

 

"Dumbledore! Get Pomfrey here right now!"

 

"What's with all this noise, I'm trying to write my medical rep- "

 

The head nurse exited her office in a huff before she looked at the source of Harry's demands. Madame Pomfrey stumbled in disbelief before regaining her composure and rushed to Hermione's side.

 

"H-Harry?"

 

"I'm here, Mione. You're going to be okay." Harry said with tears in his eyes as Pomfrey rushed to get potions from her cabinet.

 

"Horcruxes, Harry. It's Horcruxes."

 

Harry looked at her with slight confusion.

 

"What did she say, Harry?" Dumbledore asked.

 

"Horcruxes," Harry replied.

 

Dumbledore stayed composed for a second before he looked down, eyes closed.

 

"What is it, headmaster?" Harry asked.

 

Dumbledore didn't respond as he turned away from Harry before he eventually replied.

 

"I should've known earlier. How could've it slipped past my mind?"

 

"Headmaster, what are Horcruxes?"

 

"The reason for Voldemort's immortality. I can't go into detail here. Even saying its name here is dangerous. We can discuss it later in my office. For right now, we need to tend to Ms. Granger."

 

Dumbledore then calmly moved to Hermione's side as she finally opened her eyes.

 

"Ms. Granger, how are you feeling?"

 

Hermione felt…great. She felt terrible when she first awoke, but after a while, she felt perfect. It felt weird, but the last thing she wanted to complain about was not being in pain.

 

"I feel alright, Headmaster. Felt bad at first, but now I feel okay." She replied to the Headmaster.

 

The Headmaster looked at her behind his half-moon spectacles in the slightest amount of surprise.

 

"Interesting. I would think surviving a killing curse would make you be in pain; at the same time, however, we don't have much of a sample size except for Mr. Potter here. In any case, I must ask you, Ms. Granger, how you learned about Horcruxes?"

 

She took a deep breath before responding,

 

"Headmaster. I was in some sort of limbo that looked like the Hogwarts Library. Eventually, Bellatrix Lestrange arrived and told me about Horcruxes being the source of Voldemort's immortality. She also talked about 'life having bigger plans for me,' but she never went further into detail than vague hints of her having some sort of motive for divulging the information."

 

By the end of her explanation, Dumbledore was pacing around the Medical Wing, attempting to comprehend what Hermione has just said.

 

"This is not good. Whatever Ms. Lestrange has planned, it involves you, Ms. Granger. I must arrange to have Aurors keep surveillance around your house during the summer. We will discuss this later, but for right now I shall leave you and Mr. Potter. Whenever you're ready, Mr. Potter, you know the password. I'll be waiting. We're glad to have you alive and well, Ms. Granger."

 

With those words, Dumbledore gave Harry and Hermione a small smile before he turned and exited the Medical Wing.

 

Madame Pomfrey came back to Hermione's bed with a handful of potions.

 

"If you could, please move Mr. Potter."

 

Harry quickly stepped out of the way as Madame Pomfrey immediately set the potions down on the side table.

 

"Madame Pomfrey. I appreciate your concern, but I'm feeling okay. All these potions are unnecessary."

 

Madame Pomfrey looked at her, uncertain.

 

"Come with me, Ms. Granger. Need to run a quick diagnostic." Pomfrey replied with authority.

 

"Do you need help getting up, Hermione?" Harry asked.

 

Hermione looked at her friend with tears in her eyes.

 

"Harry...what happened to Sirius?"

 

Harry immediately collapsed into her shoulder as he started to sob. Hermione's heart sunk again. This time, for real.

 

"He's gone, 'Mione, he's gone. That fucking Bellatrix Lestrange killed him. When I lost you and then Sirius, I went mental. I wasn't thinking properly when I threatened to kill Lestrange. Voldemort tried to encourage me to kill her, but I wasn't going to stoop to the low Lestrange and Voldemort wanted." He cried into her clothes as she tried to balance with Harry's heavier frame.

 

Harry took his head off her shoulder as he looked back at her. Teary emerald eyes to hazel eyes.

 

"I'm glad that you're alive, Hermione. I can't imagine what I'd do without you. Are you okay going up to Madame Pomfrey?"

 

"I think I'll be good, Harry. You just tell the others the good news." Hermione replied.

 

Harry gave her a teary smile.

 

"Of course, 'Mione. I'll see you back in the common room."

 

Harry pulled her into a hug, and she reciprocated. They stayed still for a moment before they pulled away. Harry then turned and exited the Medical Wing. Hermione wiped the tears out of her eyes and slowly got out of her bed, expecting her feet to give out just to contradict her initial statement. Thankfully, she didn't have to eat her words as her legs were functioning normally. Hermione walked towards Madame Pomfrey, who was preparing her diagnostic test.

 

"Good to see you can stand on two feet, Ms. Granger. Now stand here and let me run the test. Try to stand still, it will help give an accurate test."

 

Hermione steeled herself as she tensed up as Madame Pomfrey ran her test. She heard the matron mutter several spells and nodding her head approvingly before the spells stopped.

 

"Well, I must say I can't find anything wrong. However, as a precaution, I want you to take a Pepper-Up Potion just in case."

 

Madame Pomfrey handed her a small vial of a reddish-orange potion.

 

"If you feel anything wrong, you come right to me straight away. You're free to leave Ms. Granger."

 

To Hermione's surprise, Madame Pomfrey then pulled Hermione in for a hug. She responded after a moment of surprise.

 

"We're happy to have you back, Ms. Granger. Stay safe."

 

Hermione gave her a warm smile. Hermione went to her bed to look for her bag. The beaten-up sack was lying on the other side table. She looked at the contents on the bag but saw that it had been emptied.

 

'As much as Dumbledore might've approved of my skills in potion making, those potions had no use to my temporarily dead self.'

 

She dropped the potion into the bag before she closed it. Taking a look at herself in the mirror by the bed ( 'My hair is still such a mess' ), she exited the Medical Wing and made her way towards the Gryffindor common room.

Chapter Text

"GODDAMMIT!"

 

The book took the full brunt of Bellatrix's anger as it went from one of the many tables in the Malfoy Library to the fireplace. Corners of the book were near enough for the edges of the paper to burn away. Reluctantly, Bellatrix walked towards the book and picked up the book from taking any more damage. As much as she wanted to throw it in the fire, she knew that eventually someone (probably Narcissa) would see the empty space in the library and give her shit for it.

 

Bellatrix held her head in her hands, slowly rocking her head back and forth. With her first step in action, she now needed to eliminate her main competition facing her. Voldemort. She considered if she should go after Dumbledore first then Voldemort. It would make it easier for her if Dumbledore was out of the way so she could then focus on her former master, but she shot it down. Voldemort would get all the credit for Dumbledore's death, and she would only be seen as a traitor for his death. She wanted the notoriety for killing off the most powerful wizards from both the dark and the light.

 

Locating the Horcruxes was simple enough. One of the few advantages of being Voldemort's top-ranked Death Eater, but getting some of them without raising suspicion would prove to be complicated. Mainly, that blasted snake Nagini. Nagini never left Voldemort's side, and finding any sort of opportunity to find Nagini away from her master would be impossible, so Nagini would have to be eliminated last. She tried to write the steps as to what order she should remove the Horcruxes, but that proved to be too frustrating as the  incendio  charm proved to be a common spell used throughout the planning stages.

 

Needing a break, Bellatrix returned the book to its proper location before she left the Malfoy Library.

 

Shortly after stepping out of the library, someone immediately pulled her by her waist as she collided with the wall. Bellatrix glared up at the face of her husband, who seemed happy to see her wife exit the library.

 

"Hello, wife of mine." Rodolphus spat at his wife.

 

Bellatrix's glare intensified as hatred pooled between the two of them.

 

"Hello, dearest husband. What did I say about touching me?" She growled.

 

His face then turned into a crooked smile as he replied,

 

"Oh, I remember, alright. But you seem to forget that we're married."

 

Bellatrix returned with her disturbing looking smile,

 

"Like you would've been good in bed anyway. That's why you must buy sluts in Knockturn Alley to fuck someone. So much for being a committed husband."

 

Rodolphus clenched his fists. Bellatrix seemed prepared for any sort of insult or comeback that he had. Over time it has worn on his sanity as much as Azkaban.

 

"That's why I wanted to talk to you, wife, or should I say, soon to be ex-wife."

 

Bellatrix's looked at him as her glare lightened, albeit temporarily.

 

"That's right. I'm sick and tired of you walking around MY house and not doing one thing I ask of you. I ask for so little, and all you do is bitch about my attitude."

 

"Why the hell should I do what you say? I'm not your damn slave to order around."

 

Rodolphus shut his eyes for a moment before he looked back at her again.

 

"I talked to the Dark Lord, and he has approved of our divorce and only needs your confirmation to let it proceed."

 

With that, Bellatrix used her nails and scratched Rodolphus' hands. Rodolphus released his grip on her waist as she looked at him with exaggerated delight as he looked at the scratch marks left by Bellatrix.

 

"Oh, joy! Now I don't have to deal with your filthy last name anymore. Is there anything else you wanted from me, oh dearest Rodolphus!"

 

Bellatrix then was face to face with Rodolphus' wand.

 

"You're fucking lucky that you're the Dark Lord's top-ranking Death Eater, or else I would have you killed on the spot."

 

Her happy demeanor disappeared instantly.

 

"You sure about that? That's not what you said when you were kissing my boots on our wedding day."

 

Rodolphus moved his wand and was ready to cast a hex at his soon to be ex-wife until his body became stiff. He stayed on his feet for a second before he fell forward with a  'thud'  sound that came with it.

 

Bellatrix, instead of facing Rodolphus, was staring at the cold eyes of her sister. Narcissa looked down at the still figure of Rodolphus. Narcissa turned his body around to look at him in disdain. She lifted her foot and stepped on his face as hard as she could. Blood started to trickle out of his nose, and bruises started the form on his face.

 

Bellatrix smirked at her sister.

 

"Nicely done, Cissy. Good to know you aren't growing soft."

 

Narcissa looked up at her older sister before her features softened.

 

"Thanks. I needed to get out some frustration. I'm glad I came at the right time."

 

Bellatrix tilted her head.

 

"Are you saying that I couldn't handle this piece of shit?" Bellatrix kicked Rodolphus in the side of the head.

 

"O-o-of course not Bella. I didn't mean to imply that-"

 

Bellatrix laughed lightheartedly.

 

"Relax, Cissy, I'm just teasing you. No need to get your knickers in a bunch."

 

Narcissa opened her mouth to speak but then closed it. They stood there in silence for a moment before Narcissa finally broke the awkward silence.

 

"Anyways, congratulations on your divorce."

 

Bellatrix's eyes returned to the still body of Rodolphus. Bellatrix's mouth turned into a devious grin before she kicked Rodolphus in the groin.

 

"Thanks. It's been a long time coming. Finally, I can reclaim my name. The question for you is, when are you going to do the same?" Bellatrix looked at her sister directly as Narcissa averted her older sister's gaze.

 

"I know. I just don't know when to say it." Narcissa replied softly.

 

"I can do it for you when I meet with the Dark Lord to confirm my divorce," Bellatrix suggested, but Narcissa shook her head.

 

"No. I need to do this on my own. The Dark Lord has to know from me that this marriage isn't working out."

 

Her fingers twitched as she initially moved to touch her bruised cheek under the glamour charm. Narcissa had to remove herself from this abusive, one-sided marriage. Draco already knew how she felt about Lucius when he saw the bruises. She couldn't lie to her son when he already has been through so much, but Draco didn't take the news well. Draco has increasingly been distant towards Lucius, and never put any effort to hide it. This she could handle. However, if Bella found out what Lucius did to her, there would be nothing left of Malfoy Manor that wouldn't be destroyed from Bella's fury.

 

"Anyways. What were you doing in the library?" Narcissa asked.

 

Bellatrix took her sister's hand and led her to the library, leaving Rodolphus lying there by the entrance. She put up her wards and muttered "Silencio" at the door of the library.

 

"Planning out everything. The plan is beginning." Bellatrix whispered despite the silencing charm.

 

Narcissa's eyes widened.

 

"I thought you were just joking about that," Narcissa whispered back.

 

"I WOULD NEVER JOKE ABOUT SOMETHING AS SERIOUS AS THIS!" Bellatrix exploded.

 

"I FINALLY WANT TO MAKE A NAME FOR MYSELF! I'M SICK OF VOLDEMORT AND HIS GROUP OF MINDLESS FOLLOWERS!" Bellatrix continued as Narcissa shrank. Seeing Narcissa's fear, she took a deep breath before she continued.

 

"I just want a future for you, for me, on top of the world. The process has already begun, I can't turn back from this now." Bellatrix concluded.

 

Narcissa turned away from her sister and reflected on the promise that her sister made when she was young.

 

 

25 December 1964

 

The hole that she was burning at her bedroom floor was deep enough to travel towards the center of the Earth. Narcissa got everything she wanted for Christmas, her family was rich enough in both power and wealth, but she felt empty. One of the most beautiful and cherished times of the year couldn't shake the looming sense of unhappiness. Being the youngest in the family, she has seen the amount of praise both her older sisters have received from their parents. Her parents wanted nothing less than perfection, and she immediately felt the stress approaching her as she neared her first year at Hogwarts.

 

A knock on the door interrupted her thoughts. She looked up and saw the face of Bellatrix looking at her. She put her head down, trying to avoid Bellatrix's gaze.

 

"Hey, Bella."

 

Bellatrix didn't respond but instead moved to Narcissa's side on her bed. Eyes never looking away at her. Eventually, Narcissa forced herself to look at Bellatrix's dark brown, almost black eyes. They held so much emotion, and Narcissa was one of the few to see positive emotions.

 

"You ran off before we could all finish opening the presents."

 

Narcissa didn't want to see the presents opened for Bellatrix and Andromeda. She already knew what they were going to be. Something that their parents got so they would get out of their way. Narcissa found it difficult to enjoy Christmas with the gifts that held no love for it.

 

"Have you ever thought about the future?"

 

Bellatrix thought this was a weird thing to think about, especially at such a young age. Though Narcissa wasn't born in an average family. They were born perfect. Attractive, rich, powerful, and smart. Bellatrix could already see the potential beauty in her younger sister, that cute face would shape itself into soft and regal features. Despite the childish appearance Narcissa acted older for her age, so it was weird to see such a crushed look on her face.

 

"Of course, but you shouldn't worry about that. This is the one moment in your life that you don't have to worry about that."

 

Narcissa shook her head as tears started to pool from her eyes.

 

"I can't. I see the looks from mum and dad. They put so much pressure and expectations on me. I can't handle it. I just want to create my own path."

 

Bellatrix agreed with her sister. She didn't care about her parents' expectations. It just so happened that she was able to meet most of them, so far. However, she had bigger things in mind than just some dead-end job that her parents wanted.

 

"Narcissa. I've got an idea. An idea for a future, for the three of us, you, me, and Andromeda."

 

Bellatrix thought about how to phrase it before she continued.

 

"All three of us, we'll create an army. The most powerful army in the whole wizarding world. One without cowardice, one without flaws. We'll rule the world as queens and have everything we could ever want. Money, land,  'ladies' . Bellatrix stopped as she thought that she said it out loud. Narcissa was confused at the sudden pause before Bellatrix recovered.

 

"I-Isn't that a great idea, Cissy?"

 

Narcissa nodded as a smile graced her features. Bellatrix returned with her own.

 

"Good to see a smile on your face. Now come on and open the rest of your gifts!"

 

"Okay. I'll be down in a minute, I just need to collect my thoughts." Narcissa replied.

 

Narcissa was caught off guard as she suddenly felt something warm touch her cheek. She looked and saw Bella kissing her. Narcissa felt unexpectedly warm, and she felt her face grow red. Before she could revel in the feeling, the warmth was gone.

 

"No more tears, Cissy," Bellatrix said before she exited the room.

 

Narcissa touched the spot where Bella's lips were. Her heart melted at the warmth she experienced during the moment.

 

'Why is my heart racing?'

 

 

20 June 1996

 

Breaking out of her memory, slender arms encircled around her body. Narcissa felt Bellatrix's massive breasts pressed against her back. Heat pooled to her core as she bit back a moan.

 

'This is wrong. No wonder why you're going to die alone. You're a freak.'

 

"Just a little more time," Bellatrix whispered in her ear.

 

"Stop making me feel this way," Narcissa whispered back.

 

Bellatrix released her grip on her sister.

 

"What?"

 

'I can't take it anymore.'

 

Narcissa took hold of Bellatrix's face and looked at the void of her eyes. Narcissa leaned forward and captured Bellatrix's lips with a kiss. Bellatrix's eyes widened slightly as she didn't respond to the sudden burst of affection. Before she could take any action, Narcissa pulled back.

 

"Cissy, I- "

 

Before she could adequately respond, Narcissa ran away from the library as Bellatrix was left alone in the library again. Bellatrix touched her lips.

 

She didn't know how to react to the kiss. Narcissa was her sister, and while incest wasn't exactly frowned upon in the wizarding world, it wasn't accepted, especially when they were both women. At the same time, she couldn't deny how beautiful Narcissa looked nor the feeling of her lips pressed against her own.

 

Bellatrix stood at the same location for a while before the grandfather clock chimed to bring her back to reality. She exited the library and headed towards her quarters. On her way, she went to Narcissa's room and knocked on the door. There was no response. She attempted to open the door, but it was locked. She could've easily unlocked the door, but she didn't want to disrespect Narcissa's privacy. However, they would both have to talk about what happened eventually.

 

She entered her room and locked the door. She walked towards her chest, felt the rough wooden texture caress her hands, and unlocked it. The chest slowly opened to reveal the contents of the chest. For the most part, it was empty apart from some back-up clothes, tools, and more…personal items. However, she scoured towards the bottom of the chest and felt something round and smooth. Bellatrix lifted her hand to reveal the prophecy. For a moment, she couldn't help but marvel at the beauty and knowledge that the orb potentially held for her.

 

At first, she didn't believe in prophecies, but anything that gave her the chance to gain the upper hand was worth investing time into. She pointed her hand at the door and muttered " Silencio ".

 

Taking one last look at the door, she smashed the prophecy to the ground. The glass shattered into tiny fragments and spread out amongst the floor. Smoke started to build up in the room. Bellatrix coughed before the smoke began to take form. Within the smoke, a figure emerged. Sybill Trewlaney appeared with her eyes full and her body stiff.

 

 

The two with the power to vanquish the light and the dark…

A young one who was born with filth holds the knowledge that rivals those pure of blood…

The elder one, pure in blood and power, stifled by the Dark Lord…

The eldest will guide the young towards the purity of blood…

Love that will form to destroy the Dark Lord…

Strength combined to overpower the light…

The knowledge that will keep their reign of power forever…

 

 

The apparition looked at Bellatrix before it faded away back into the smoke. Eventually, the smoke disappeared from the room with the broken glass, the only remains of the prophecy. Bellatrix muttered a cleaning spell, and the glass vanished from the floor. Immortality? She never really thought about living forever, but she wasn't going to complain about potentially being alive forever.

 

'It would be nice if I was younger. Spells can only do so much.'

 

It wasn't like she looked old. Azkaban did some damage to her physical appearance. It took a lot of time to regain her beauty that Azkaban stole from her with various potions and spells. After all the work, she thought she looked like she was still in her early thirties, but once someone reaches the age of fifty, it's downhill.

 

'Once I conquer everything, then I can think about immortality.'

 

Bellatrix moved to lock the chest before a picture captured her attention. It was the three Black sisters together by the Christmas tree. A tiny label was in the corner of the photograph that she recognized as her mother's, ' Christmas 1961' . She stared at the young Bellatrix,

 

'Before everything went to shite.'

 

Then the innocent eyes of her younger sister Andromeda pierced her. Her heart clenched.

 

'Why did you betray us, Andromeda? It could've been the three of us on top of the world. Maybe I'll give you one chance to redeem yourself. You'll either be with us or against us.'

 

Finally, she looked at the light of Narcissa's blue eyes. Her memory went back to the kiss she had with Narcissa.

 

'I never imagined you would have such naughty thoughts about me, Narcissa. If we're going to be on top of the world, why not have a little fun?'

 

With that, Bellatrix removed the spell off her door and exited her chambers. She noticed that Narcissa's door was still closed. Bellatrix moved towards Voldemort's room. With confidence, she knocked on his door. After a moment, the door opened.

 

"Ah, Bella, I was expecting you to come by. How's my top-ranking Death Eater feeling today?"

 

Death Eaters always found it awkward when Voldemort is ever found talking somewhat casually. She was no different, but at least she was able to hide it well.

 

"I'm feeling alright, better now, once we finalize this divorce between myself and Rodolphus."

 

Voldemort nodded his head and turned away from Bellatrix. Nagini followed him towards the window in his quarters. His quarters were like the others in Malfoy Manor, except there were no personal items in the room (or he could've hidden them, but she wasn't going to risk sneaking in unless she's desperate). For Bellatrix, she could only assume that it wasn't in his highest priority to decorate his room like a schoolboy.

 

"Yes, I've heard of Rodolphus' displeasure in the marriage, but there's always a differing perspective. Especially for someone as important as yourself. What didn't work?"

 

Bellatrix internally rolled her eyes at the question.

 

'Where to start.'

 

"Everything. He's a fucking idiot who thinks with his wand, figuratively and literally, instead of his brain, he's a slob who goes out during the evenings and comes back at god knows what hour of the night and disturbs my rest. Finally, he's mediocre at fighting and recently got the shit kicked out of him by my sister."

 

Voldemort looked at Bellatrix with a nasty smile.

 

"By Narcissa? Now that's embarrassing. Perhaps a demotion is in order for losing to a healer."

 

Bellatrix bit her tongue with the insult hurled at Narcissa.

 

"Well, consider the divorce final. Don't forget the meeting that we have tonight. Be sure to tell Lucius not to be late for the meeting again. I'm growing frustrated with his tardiness."

 

"That's his problem, I'm not his fucking babysitter. Can you let me do the honors of torturing him if he's late?"

 

Voldemort nodded.

 

"Of course. Now, leave me."

 

Bellatrix glared at Nagini slithering across the room before she turned to leave the room.

 

Voldemort stared at Bellatrix's retreating figure as his snake-like eyes pierced through the back of her head.

 

'What are you hiding, Bellatrix Black?'

Chapter Text

"Why would Lestrange give up the secret to You-Know-Who's power?"

 

Hermione had her head sitting on the back of her hand. That was the question that kept scratching at the end of her mind ever since she returned from limbo. She met with Dumbledore before leaving to head home for the summer to discuss more about what transpired at the Department of Mysteries.

 

21 June 1996

 

Hermione couldn't grasp the idea of surviving the killing curse, but that's what happened to her. It couldn't have been any other spell. The same green bullet came speeding towards her, and the flash of light made it clear that it was indeed the killing curse, but it just didn't feel real to her. She felt reluctant to talk to Harry about it because she didn't want to put her friend in that scenario again. Dumbledore spoke about Harry's survival from the power of his mother's love; she didn't have anything of the sort before being hit with the killing curse. So what could've possibly she have done differently that so many others didn't?

 

"Headmaster, what about Bellatrix Lestrange? She has something planned for me. I don't know what, but I don't want to put my family in danger if I have something she wants."

 

Dumbledore nodded his head in agreement as she spoke.

 

"Yes, she has a sudden interest in you. You won't be safe at your house, even if Aurors are guarding. The Burrow will be the safest place for you to be situated during the summer. I will schedule to have Aurors guard the Burrow and make sure they know where you are at all times."

 

Aurors following her every move wasn't the most excellent scenario to be in, but it was better than having Bellatrix Lestrange capturing her to do...whatever she wanted with her.

 

"Headmaster, can I at least spend a day with my family before I leave?"

 

Dumbledore smiled, and his bright blue eyes sparkled.

 

"Of course, family is everything. Aurors will pick you up on the 24th at approximately..."

 

His hand moved into one of the many pockets in his robes and came out with a pristine pocket watch. Using his thumb, he opened the pocket watch and glanced at the planets and the hands moving around. Nodding his head in confirmation, he closed the pocket watch.

 

"9:00 AM. I wish you a safe and enjoyable Summer vacation, Ms. Granger."

 

"Thank you, sir."

 

With the meeting concluded, Hermione turned and walked towards the exit from the Headmaster's office.

 

"And Ms. Granger?"

 

She turned to face the Headmaster again, whose eyes no longer sparkled and was replaced with a grim demeanor.

 

"Should anything suspicious happen during the Summer, don't be afraid to ask the Aurors for help."

 

Hermione nodded her head, and Dumbledore lifted his hand and gestured towards the door. She turned and exited the room leaving Dumbledore looking at his many papers, contemplating the mystery that now is Hermione Granger.

 

22 June 1996

 

"Who the hell knows, but if Lestrange lays one finger on Hermione I will fuc-"

 

"Harry, language!"

 

Harry snapped his head towards Hermione, who spoke her first words for the first time since they got on the train. He immediately deflated once he heard the voice of his best friend.

 

At first, he thought of Hermione like the majority of the students thought of her: an annoying, stubborn, and bossy witch, and while he still thinks she's bossy, it's because she cares about those close to her. She was there with him (along with Ron whose chess skills are still unmatched at Hogwarts) to pass those tests for the Philosopher's Stone in his first year; the one who figured out who was petrifying people in his second year; the one who would die to protect him from a supposed serial killer in his third year; the one who stood by him when no one else did during the Triwizard Tournament, and the one who he thought died fighting for the only family he had left.

 

Harry shut his eyes and took a deep breath. He opened his eyes and looked at Ron, Hermione, Ginny, Luna, and Neville.

 

"I'm sorry, all of you. I shouldn't be making those kinds of threats. The ones they would say themselves."

 

Luna was the first to respond,

 

"All of us have been through a lot this year, more than any other year. The darkness that surrounds us is trying to hold us in its grasp and not let go. We can't let those who keep witches, wizards, muggles, and any magical creature demoralized or less than equal win."

 

Ginny looked at her girlfriend and smiled. Luna returned with her own as she opened her hand towards Ginny. Ginny took one of her own and clasped her hand with Luna's. Ron looked at the Luna and glared.

 

"Ron, what's wrong? You've looked like you sucked on a lemon drop."

 

Ron glared towards Neville, who put up both of his hands in surrender.

 

"Nothing."

 

Ron turned his head to the side and closed his eyes. Ginny's eyes glared daggers at her older brother as she gripped Luna's hand harder.

 

"Ginny. Don't." Luna whispered.

 

Ginny used her free hand to brush some long red hair out of her face to get a better look at Luna.

 

'I'm so lucky to have her.'

 

If she could've told her younger self that she would fall in love with Luna Lovegood, Ginny would've thought she ingested too much of Fred and George's "love potion." They've been friends since they were toddlers. She never had anyone to talk to that wasn't family, and while Luna's distinct personality was something to get used to, she not only understood it but grew to love it. Ginny didn't know when their friendship crossed over to love, but all she knew was when her thin, pink lips touched Luna's plump, pink lips, she didn't want to stop. Even if Ron wasn't happy about their relationship, Ginny didn't care. She was happy with Luna, and that's all that matters to her.

 

Hermione looked at the couple that was looking into each other's eyes with love. She couldn't help but let her cheeks grow pink.

 

'They're so cute together.'

 

Hermione's eyes widened.

 

Wait what?

 

'I mean, I'm not homophobic, but I'm not into girls.'

 

Shaking her head, Hermione started to tune out the conversations starting in their cubicle and looked out the window. While many students would talk to their classmates on the train, Hermione found herself in a routine in taking the sights that changed as they left King's Cross to when they finally arrived at Hogwarts (and vice versa). Once the train started to move, and the train's rhythm started to become consistent, Hermione felt her eyes grow heavy as the conversations fell to the back of her mind as she felt herself go to sleep.

 

 

Emma Granger watched as her daughter became visible within the crowd of people inside King's Cross. Once a path towards her daughter became apparent, she ran towards her daughter. She watched as her daughter also started to run, and they met halfway in a warm, loving hug. As they stayed in the same position for a couple of seconds, Emma felt something wet landing on her neck.

 

Suspecting what she's felt multiple times, she looked at her daughter's face, and her thoughts were confirmed as she saw the trail of tears dripping down her daughter's face and instead of on her neck were landing on the cold platform of Kings Cross.

 

"Hermione, what happened?"

 

Hermione gave her a watery smile.

 

"I just missed you so much. You and dad."

 

Hermione looked behind her mother and noticed the absence of her father.

 

"Mum, where is dad?"

 

Emma sighed. Mark Granger was always a man of ambition. Despite being the dull exterior of a dentist, the man continually experimented with different hobbies. Cooking, fishing, archery, art, anything that caught his interest; that's why he and Hermione got along so well (not to say she didn't get along with Hermione, but Emma was less experimental than her husband). For the first time, that ambition translated into their dentistry. Mark wants to expand their dentistry so they can retire. She was confused at the sudden desire to retire when they were only in their mid-40s. Mark explained that he wanted to spend more time with their daughter and embrace the new world they've been shown.

 

It was tempting to think about leaving the monotony of their job to explore this world that their daughter has been a part of for over five years. The bond between her daughter has been weakening ever since she started her first year at Hogwarts. That disconnect from the worlds they live in is the main factor combined with the lack of time because their job requires so many hours to be put in.

 

Being a part of a mysterious world with their daughter, seeing all the friends she's made along the way, pushed her into agreeing. The development has only started recently, and they decided they want to surprise their daughter when everything was finalized.

 

"Emergency appointment in the office. Mark didn't say how long it would take, but told me to give you a hug for him."

 

Hermione wiped the few stray tears off her face. She couldn't help it as they arrived as she was going through the crowd of people, and the thoughts of never hugging her mom and dad again flooded her mind. Feeling the loving embrace of her mom made her realize how much she missed her. Her heart dropped at the situation that surrounded her.

 

"Come on, Hermione, let's get to the car. We can talk on the way home."

 

Realizing she was taking up a lot of space in the busy Kings Cross, she tightened her grip on her carriage and followed her mother towards her car.

 

 

Despite Emma's previous statement, little was talked about on the ride home. Hermione's thoughts kept going towards Bellatrix Lestrange. She couldn't understand why she was thinking about that demented, psychopathic woman.

 

"Hermione?"

 

"Yes?"

 

"Who is Bellatrix?"

 

Hermione tensed up as she felt her blood run cold.

 

'Why did I have to say her name out loud?'

 

Instinctively, she went towards the gauge for the heater and turned it on. Emma watched the whole exchange and knew her suspicion was correct.

 

"Hermione is Bellatrix, a bully at school?"

 

Hermione swallowed as she tried to think of a passable response to give to her mother.

 

"You could say that. Bellatrix tortures people for fun and bullies people who aren't like her. Especially people who are muggles or come from muggle parents."

 

Emma's brows furrowed at the response given by Hermione. Bellatrix sounded like the worst bully from the bunch that she's had to deal with. Hermione has always been a target of bullying because her appearance, personality, and intellect were all easy targets for bullies. Emma was still furious at the teachers whose punishments did nothing to stop the attacks on her daughter but instead made the attacks more severe. Emma always had to do the work that the teachers failed to do for some action. However, as Hermione grew up, she was able to stand her ground from many bullies, and from what she's heard from Hermione's stories from Hogwarts, she has been able to defend herself well against them. But whoever this Bellatrix was, Hermione looked absolutely terrified.

 

"Hermione, have you told the teachers about Bellatrix?"

 

Hermione let out a deep breath before she responded.

 

"I have mum."

 

"And?"

 

Hermione hesitated.

 

"In the upcoming year, they will keep a closer eye on Bellatrix and punish her accordingly."

 

Emma was skeptical about the effect that the school would do to protect Hermione from any harassment, but she was powerless to do anything about it. All she can do now is comfort her daughter. Hopefully, her husband would be home by then, and she can talk to him about it.

 

For now, she stayed silent for the rest of the ride home. She would spare glances at Hermione from time to time just to see what she was doing. Every time she looked, Hermione was staring out the window at the buildings that were passing by. Whoever this Bellatrix was, she's definitely effected her daughter emotionally.

 

 

"Hermione?"

 

Hermione broke her trance and looked at her mother.

 

"Hm?"

 

"We're home."

 

Hermione looked in front of her and locked in on the familiar looking garden gnome, confirming that she was back home.

 

Opening the car door, she took a deep breath and smelled the recent downpour of rain that subsided at some point during the ride home. Wanting to get everything situated as fast as she could, she grabbed as many items as possible and made her way towards the front door.

 

Hermione rushed inside and put her items at the base of the stairs.

 

"Don't worry, Hermione, I can get the rest of your things. You just get everything situated in your room."

 

Hermione smiled.

 

"Thanks mum."

 

Hermione grabbed a couple of her belongings and went upstairs. Turning right, she stopped at the final door on the left that hung a red and gold placard,

 

Hermione's Room

 

Opening the door, Hermione felt some of the tension and stress melt away. Her room hasn't changed much since she last left. It still had the same bland wooden floor and the plain white walls she was so used to, but the red and gold night light in her room and the red and gold bed sheets gave a subtle nod to the life she lives down at Hogwarts. Hermione placed the books down on the desk with a slam that caused a tiny picture frame leaning on the counter to fall down on its face. Embarrassed by the lack of grace, she sat the frame upright and saw her most cherished gift.

 

A picture of her friends.

 

Ginny was the one who took a picture of herself, Harry, and Ron at the end of their third year at Hogwarts. It was in the middle of October when the three of them were sitting by the Great Lake, contemplating their future.

 

Hermione initially wanted to follow in her parent's footsteps and become a dentist. In retrospect, she shuddered at the thought of being in such a tedious job dealing with potentially unsettling customers with teeth rotting at the gumline. Once she found out about magic and Hogwarts, the potential paths she could take branched out. From healer to a lawyer to Auror, the list of job opportunities was endless. Currently, she thought about being a lawyer for magical creatures and making S.P.E.W an official business. She ignored the scoffs and arguments that Ron throws her way, magical creatures (not just elves) have rights tossed aside by the pureblood elites.

 

Ron dreamt about being a part of a Quidditch team, especially to be a captain for his favorite team, the Chudley Cannons. Hermione saw the faraway look in his eye as she could only imagine that he was thinking about hoisting the championship trophy above his head as thousands cheered him on. Hermione was never a big fan of Quidditch. Maybe her flying experience caused her to be so negative about the sport, but she never saw Quidditch's appeal. She personally thought football (or "soccer" as those in the United States refer to it) was a lot more exciting.

 

Harry was more reluctant and took more time to think about it before he said,

 

"Quidditch."

 

Hermione saw in his expression that he was not definite in that decision. He had the talent for Quidditch, but Harry was capable of much more than just sports. When Harry wasn't goofing off with Ron and focused on school, Harry was an intelligent person. His potion skills need work, and his History of Magic essays needs more detail, but when the right fire was lit under Harry, he excelled.

 

Hopefully, the results of their O.W.Ls will help them find the right path towards a bright future. With Voldemort and his mob of Death Eaters, the future is looking anything but bright.

 

 

Mark Granger arrived around an hour after she unpacked everything in her room. He immediately went to Hermione and gave her a hug, and she put on her best smile, though she was anything but happy. Ever since she came back home, she didn't feel well. It felt like something was clawing from inside of her, trying to escape. She drank some ginger-ale in hopes that it would soothe the pain, but it was ineffective.

 

"Mum, dad?"

 

Her parents were currently watching some game show on the television with some large spinning wheel. She found the show entertaining, but she wasn't in the mood right now.

 

"Yes, honey?" Emma replied, brown eyes filled with concern.

 

"I'm not feeling too well, I'm going to head onto bed early today."

 

Mark looked at his daughter, and he could see that she didn't look healthy. One look in his daughter's hazel eyes, and he almost felt weak himself.

 

"I'm sorry you aren't feeling well Hermione, if you need some ibuprofen, there's some in the bathroom. That and some sleep might be what you need."

 

Hermione usually wasn't one to take medication, but she was willing to do anything to make the pain stop this time.

 

"Thanks, dad."

 

Hermione gave one last weak smile before she slowly moved upstairs towards the bathroom.

 

She opened the cabinet and saw the ibuprofen on the top shelf. Hermione, not knowing what she was doing, she read the instructions of the medication. She grabbed a paper cup and filled it with cold water. Finally, she twisted the cap open and shook out one pill. Picking up the cup, she looked at herself in the mirror. Her hair was in disarray, and her eyes looked soulless. She placed the pill on her tongue and took a large sip of water. With the tablet in the back of her throat, she swallowed and let the medicine go down her throat.

 

She threw the cup in the trash and stumbled out the bathroom. Throwing the door open to her bedroom, she collapsed on her bed and fell asleep.

 

One lock of bushy brown hair stood up from its owner. The disarray soon disappeared and was replaced with perfect, flowing curls. The color darkened and became as dark as the night that surrounded Britain. The long, black hair fell down and returned to its original position.

Chapter Text

Bellatrix laid her head softly upon the rough bark of the tree. It wasn’t an ideal place to have it resting, but considering what she needed to do, she could deal with it. 

 

The setting had to be perfect for when her pet arrived. There were many ideas in her mind for the first encounter to take place. For the early phases, she thought it was ideal for placing Granger in a comfortable setting. 

 

Ease her up a little.

 

She’s practiced for months to manipulate and control her dreams. If she wanted to gain her eventual double’s trust, she needed to develop a relationship with her while in the early phases of the transformation. Once she mastered her dreams, reading an extension of the spell was all it took to control the dreams of others.

 

Bellatrix closed her eyes and started to focus. She kept the image of her pet in mind as she whispered,

 

“somnium translatio”

(dream transference)

 

The words were only said once but continued to repeat in her mind. Finally, she saw something appear out of the corner of her eye.

 

Sitting right next to her, leaning against the tree, was her pet, still transferring over to the world of dreams.

 

Bellatrix grinned at the lock of curly, black hair that stood out from the unkempt, bushy brown hair. 

 

‘The process is slow, but it’s permanent.’

 

When Hermione Granger fully materialized, her eyes slowly opened. Her hazel eyes constantly flickered at the unknown green plains that looked to stretch infinitely. 

 

“Only you would try to decipher something as meaningless as open plains.”

 

Hermione’s body stiffened as her eyes finally gazed upon Bellatrix Black. Immediately Bellatrix saw Hermione’s face contort like she wanted to move away, but she chuckled as she didn’t know that she wasn’t in control. 

 

She was.

 

“What are you doing here, Lestrange?” Hermione gritted out of her teeth as her eyebrows narrowed.

 

“Didn’t you hear muddy? I’m not Bellatrix Lestrange anymore. Please refer to me as Bellatrix Black, or master, if you’d prefer that.” 

 

“You would never be my master, Lestra-” Hermione was cut off as a hand covered her mouth shut. She stared at the black, long, painted nails that looked ready to pierce her skin. Her eyes moved up to look at the angry, black, void of Bellatrix’s eyes.

 

“Don’t you dare say that last name again, mudblood. My last name is Black.”

 

Bellatrix slowly released her grip on Hermione’s face. Hermione’s head started shaking, attempting to turn her head away from Bellatrix, but something was preventing her.

 

“Shouldn’t you know at this point muddy that you’re not in control?”

 

“What did you do to me, Black?”

 

Bellatrix was tempted to tell her the truth, but that would ruin all the fun of watching the innocent mudblood become as crazy as herself. She knows that the mudblood will find out what’s happening to her, but she knows that she and their little “Order of the Phoenix” will be useless in stopping the process.

 

“I just wanted to have a little chat.”

 

Bellatrix moved closer towards Hermione until their shoulders touched. She stared deep into Hermione’s hazel eyes before leaning down, inches away from Hermione’s ear.

 

“Girl to girl.” She whispered.

 

Long, skilled fingers slowly crept up Hermione’s arm. 

 

“Get your hands off m-” Hermione started until she was cut off. She tried to speak, but her voice was nowhere to be heard.

 

Bellatrix let her nails sink a little into Hermione’s pale skin stopping at random intervals before continuing to climb until reaching the top of her shoulder. She gazed at Hermione’s pale neck.

 

“I think I’m going to enjoy this as much as you.” Bellatrix continued as she leaned towards Hermione’s neck.

 

That’s when she decided to end the dream.

 

 

 

 

Raindrops continued to fall outside of her tent. 

 

It was used by her family on the few camping trips they went to in her youth. She never imagined she would’ve ever used it again, but considering the circumstances, the tent was invaluable. Typically, the lower-class tents were about the size of her room with low-quality equipment inside, but those with Black money were able to get something worthy of her prestige. 

 

Her father specifically told the crafters to make the tent as close to Black Manor as possible. Despite the hours that the crafters took to map out the style of their home, Cygnus was less than happy by the initial design. That’s when he took over the responsibilities to create the perfect home away from home.

 

Black adorned most of the walls and furniture with gold and silver, making up the ceiling and topped off with a dark wooden floor. Her father spared no expense to have all the necessities to live off the grid. A smaller library next to a large potions table took up the left side of the room while the kitchen and dining area took up the center and right sides of the room. Beyond that were the five different rooms that each family member had to themselves.

 

She tries to forget about the door with the burned off nameplate.

 

Reluctantly, Bellatrix got up from her bed and stretched her body of its stiffness. She giggled at her abrupt ending of the dream. She couldn’t help but tease her pet with such naughty ideas considering the Granger girl seemed like such a prude. She hoped that she would get more out of a conversation from the girl, but she was stubborn.

 

‘Maybe next time she’ll be more cooperative.’

 

Bellatrix walked out of her room and looked around the central area of the tent. She closed her eyes and listened to the soft, slightly muffled raindrops. She always enjoyed it when it rained; she found it calming just watching as it fell from the sky or just listening to it hit the Earth. Finally, she walked out of the tent.

 

‘What a shithole.’  Bellatrix thought when her eyes laid upon what was referred to as the “Gaunt Shack.” The shack itself was about as dilapidated as a structure could be without it crumbling into dust. 

 

Voldemort talked to her about the Gaunt Shack at one point. She didn’t care about history rather than knowing the location to protect her former master. 

 

Instinctively, she rolled her sleeve up to look down at the Dark Mark on her arm. The skull glared back at her.

 

‘I’m not your fucking slave anymore.’ 

 

He told Bellatrix about scouting around Britain to familiarize points of interest where the Death Eaters can camp out when the eventual war breaks out. She immediately saw the opportunity to collect one of the Horcruxes. Knowing her status, she doesn’t need any other Death Eaters to be around her or Voldemort wanting to know her location at all times.

 

Rolling her sleeve back up, she walked towards the Gaunt Shack. It took her hours to get through the enchantments that surrounded the shack. For some reason, it annoyed her that such a disgusting place had such a level of protection, and she was thrilled to take down the barriers. If there was one thing, she could compliment the building for was the door. It was simple, but the dead snake on the door gave her a sense of comfort. It was also the only product of the house that wasn’t destroyed.

 

Cautiously, she took her wand out and pointed it at the door.

 

Alohomora.”

 

The doorknob slowly turned and revealed the contents of the shack to her.

 

Immediately, Bellatrix was overwhelmed by a foul stench. Resisting the urge to cover her nose, she looked around at the deteriorating shack. A lot of the wood that surrounded the shack was turning green. Most of the furniture was eaten away or destroyed. The lack of light made it difficult to see any more detail.

 

Lumos Maxima”

 

A small ball of white light came out of the tip of the wand. It floated in the air for a moment before expanding and lighting up the shack. Bellatrix’s eyes widened. Not at the light, but at what was on the floor of the shack.

 

Bellatrix’s eyes landed on the decomposed body of an adult human. Whatever tissue and organs the body once had were long since eaten or decomposed. The skull was looking in the opposite direction of her with the arms stretched out in front of it. The few remaining strands of clothing wrapped around the torso looked ready to crumble at the slightest movement. As she circled the body, something glistened in the light. The origin of it came from the skull. When she looked closer at the head, the intricate markings of Marvolo Gaunt’s ring and the Deathly Hallows’ symbol lay inside the right eye socket.

 

She instinctively reached out her hand to pick up the Horcrux but realized she would be sticking her hand into a dead body. 

 

‘Damn ‘Accio’ doesn’t work on Horcruxes,’  She grumbled internally.

 

So she saw the only way she could recover the ring.

 

Bellatrix stepped away from the body and started to lower her body slightly. With sure footing, she ran towards the body and kicked the skull. The force knocked the head off the spinal cord before rolling towards the entrance of the shack. Bellatrix cackled at the moment of entertainment before the glistening caught her eye again. 

 

Gaunt’s ring shone beautifully in full view of the light.

 

Bellatrix carefully picked up the ring.

 

“Come to mommy.”

 

Placing it in her pocket, she made her way back outside. As she closed the door, she kicked the skull again back in the direction of the body. She left the Gaunt Shack, somehow leaving it more destroyed than when she entered. 

 

 

 

 

 

She continued to twist the ring in her hands but was careful not to let it go around her finger. Bellatrix was exhausted, having to put up all the barriers again, and the barely visible sun had long since set by the time she was finished. 

 

‘Destroy the ring.’

 

“Not yet, Riddle would know about it.”

 

‘Who cares about him knowing? We won’t be needing him.’

 

“No. If the Dark Lord finds out, he will hurt Narcissa.”

 

Weak. Father was right about you.’

 

“SHUT UP!”

 

Bellatrix got up and stomped her way towards her chest. After several minutes of getting rid of the wards, she carefully opened the chest. She placed the ring in the far corner of the chest, barely visible in the chest’s shadows. Satisfied, she forcefully closed the chest before working again on replacing the wards.

 

 

 

 

Narcissa watched as Bellatrix returned from her scouting expedition. Bellatrix looked to be on autopilot as she walked towards her room. Narcissa opened her mouth to say something, but she was unsure if she would be talking to “sane” Bella or “psycho” Bella.

 

Bellatrix felt someone watching her and turned to see Narcissa’s bright blue eyes staring at her. She stopped, and both looked at each other, not saying anything.

 

Bellatrix gave her younger sister a weak smile before she continued towards her room. 

 

She twisted the door lock and rested her head on the door. Tears started to well up in her eyes.

 

‘Don’t  you dare cry.’

 

“You can’t tell me what to do anymore.” She whispered.

 

‘Keep telling yourself that.’

 

A stray tear fell on her porcelain features. She angrily wiped the tear onto the floor of her room. Bellatrix lifted her head off the door and stared at the mirror in her room, trying her best to ignore her thoughts, it wasn’t working. She took a seat in front of the mirror and leaned forward to look at herself.

 

‘Narcissa was always prettier.’

 

Bellatrix gripped the hairbrush in her hand and started to comb her hair. A couple of knots were captured and fixed. After a while, her hair sat in perfection. One dark brown eye looked back at her as the other was obscured within her black, curly locks.

 

‘Much better. Now we’re ready to have some fun with Narcissa.’

 

Her initial pout turned into a psychotic smile.

 

 

 

 

 

Narcissa sat in the kitchen as she poured herself her fourth glass of wine. She needed the drink to de-stress from the day she had to go through. Healing more Death Eaters, talking to Lucius, Bella. For one moment, she needed some time to herself.

 

Then he entered, her son.

 

Draco was such a handsome boy. It was such a shame that he has been forced into a situation where he had no control over his future for most of his life. Narcissa always saw her son have a permanent frown on his features. This time, however, his face was contorted into deep anger.

 

Narcissa took a large sip of wine.

 

Why did she have to marry Lucius? She would’ve instead married a mudblood than Lucius if it meant Draco would’ve been happy. Draco finding out about Lucius’ abuse has made her situation worse. 

 

“Back in the liquor cabinet, mother?” Draco spat.

 

“Draco, please,” Narcissa whispered weakly.

 

Draco shook his head. Draco grabbed the bottle of wine and placed it back in the cabinet.

 

“I’m gonna kill him,” Draco growled.

 

Narcissa grabbed Draco’s hand. 

 

“Draco, don’t.”

 

“WHY DO YOU LET HIM DO THIS TO YOU?” Draco yelled.

 

Narcissa closed her eyes.

 

“I wanted to keep the family together. To keep you happy.” Narcissa replied.

 

Draco let the reply set in before he chuckled.

 

“Happy?”

 

Draco lifted his sleeve to reveal his newly formed Dark Mark and shoved it in front of her mother.

 

“Is this fucking happiness to you?”

 

“Draco-” Narcissa started.

 

“No. You’ve had your chance. You’ve had all the chances in the world to change something, but you didn’t. While I was blissfully in my childhood out in Hogwarts, you let father continue to hurt you. You let back in your psychotic sister who does nothing but torture me, and you let father take advantage of me and turn me into his pawn. And this…”

 

He gestured towards the Dark Mark.

 

“Is what my loving family gave me in return.”

 

Draco shoved the sleeve down and stormed out of the room. 

 

Narcissa continued to look down, softly gripping her wine glass. She took the glass and drank the remaining amount of wine. She breathed out slowly, which eventually turned into a choked sob. 

 

The crying stopped when she heard the familiar footsteps approach the kitchen.

 

Bellatrix entered the kitchen, but Narcissa noticed the change in demeanor than when she first saw her. She first noticed the plump red lips turned in a confident smirk. Her mass of black hair covered one eye before her eyes flickered down to her ample breasts being held by her black corset.

 

She quickly took her eyes away from her chest and looked down. Her breasts weren’t as large as Bellatrix’s, but what she lacked in size, she excelled in perkiness.

 

Not that she knew how perky Bellatrix’s breasts were.

 

Bellatrix strode towards Narcissa’s chair and kneeled to her level. Bellatrix’s smirk was now a childlike pout.

 

“What’s wrong, Cissy? Is Draco a meanie to you?”

 

“No, it’s fine.”

 

Bellatrix tilted her head sideways, her visible eye looking directly into Narcissa’s pair of blue eyes.

 

“I don’t think that’s true, Cissy. I can see the tear path on your face.”

 

Bellatrix tucked a stray hair behind Narcissa’s ear. Bellatrix’s smirk returned when she saw Narcissa glow slightly pink.

 

A dull throbbing in her center started to burn as Narcissa’s mind was battling what to do.

 

“Bella...we shouldn’t…” Narcissa started but was stopped as Bellatrix softly laid a long pointed finger on her lips.

 

“Shh, just let it happen,” Bellatrix whispered.

 

Narcissa slowly tilted her head sideways, and Bellatrix met her halfway into a kiss. Narcissa has never felt this way before. The softness of her sister’s lips, coupled with the two hands laid on her waist, brought about a level of intimacy she never experienced with Lucius. The forced kisses, the rough, unkind hands, forcing herself open all melted away in bliss.

 

Bellatrix pulled away, and Narcissa slowly opened her eyes. Her face was now a soft, warm smile. Soon, all the heartache went away, and she found herself smiling as well.

 

“Take me to your room,” Narcissa whispered.

 

Bellatrix stood up and lowered her hand out to Narcissa. Narcissa put her hand in Bellatrix’s, and Bellatrix slowly lifted her onto her feet. Once she was on her feet, Bellatrix intertwined her fingers. Narcissa reciprocated.

 

The older sister led her younger sister towards her room. Once they both entered, Bellatrix slammed the door shut and locked it. Narcissa sat on Bellatrix’s bed and watched her sister slowly approach her. Bellatrix rested her forehead on Narcissa’s.

 

“No one will take this moment away from us,” Bellatrix said.

 

“Never,” Narcissa replied.

 

Bellatrix lifted her head and stood up straight. Taking her hand, she placed it softly on Narcissa’s chest. She softly pushed Narcissa down onto the bed. Bellatrix looked in hungry eyes at Narcissa’s strewn out blonde hair surrounding her face like a halo. Narcissa’s blue eyes stared back at her with the same hunger and slim torso breathing heavily behind her green robes. Most importantly, it was the soft smile that Narcissa had on her face that spurred her forward.

 

“I think you’ve waited all this time to see what’s under this corset.” Bellatrix seductively whispered.

 

With precision, Bellatrix slowly started to take off the corset. She teased Narcissa a couple of times by delaying the reveal, but she finally removed the corset. Bellatrix grinned as Narcissa immediately looked at her breasts, ready to pop out of its confines.

 

“I knew it.” Bellatrix proclaimed.

 

Narcissa blushed, and on instinct was ready to look away, but she didn’t.

 

‘I’m not afraid anymore.’

 

“I’m guessing you want this off as well?” Bellatrix asked as she gestured to her long skirt.

 

Narcissa nodded.

 

“Well, I think it’s only fair that you take off your robes,” Bellatrix replied.

 

Narcissa’s smile grew and untied the loop of her robes. She used one hand to brush it off her shoulders and the same for the other shoulder before it laid behind her back, leaving her in her soft, tan bra and panties.

 

“Such cute little things,” Bellatrix commented as she removed her skirt and let it drop to the floor, revealing her black panties, stockings, and garter belt.

 

Finally, Bellatrix moved towards Narcissa, swaying her hips. When she got into the bed, Bellatrix, moving like a cat, started to straddle her younger sister around her hips. Bellatrix leaned down and had her hands on both sides of the covers near Narcissa’s face.

 

“I think it’s time for some sisterly bonding.” 

 

Bellatrix then closed the gap between them.

Chapter Text

Summer was supposed to be a distraction from the fear of Voldemort and his army, especially in such a beautiful place like the Burrow. One might look at the unique structure and see just an eyesore, but the interior couldn’t feel more like home. Mr. and Mrs. Weasley are lovely people, and she couldn’t be more thankful for their hospitality and keeping the looming threat of war away from their home. 

 

Despite their efforts, Hermione was more terrified than she ever was. That evil witch Bellatrix Le-, 

 

‘Black, her last name is Black.’ 

 

Hermione shuddered at those long, red fingernails on her face, ready to rip her skin. And to think that Black was leaning into her neck to do whatever she was going to do. How would she sleep without Bellatrix Black invading her dreams and turning them into nightmares (or turning her nightmares into even worse nightmares)? She was supposed to be done with the horror of the school year, but she was more scared than when Harry returned with Cedric’s limp and soulless body. 

 

Initially, when her mother pointed out the curly black hair in her typically scraggly brown hair, she thought it was some side effect from one of Fred and George’s gag gifts they used on the platform before she met with her mom to head back home. She kept saying that in her mind during breakfast in an attempt to calm herself down, but it didn’t work. She tried her best to hide it behind the rest of her hair, but it always managed to make itself known. When the time finally arrived to head to the Burrow, the Aurors (well Auror, Lupin wasn’t an Auror, but that didn’t matter at the time), more specifically Tonks commented on it.

 

“Trust me, I don’t know, but I’m gonna find out,” Hermione replied.

 

Quickly hugging her mother and father, Hermione exited the house, and the three of them took the long journey towards the Burrow. She wasn’t happy about using a broom to get there, but she’d preferred using a portkey. After giving her greetings to the Weasley family, she cornered the two as they were about to head out for the day to Weasleys’ Wizard Wheezes she asked about any side effects from the gag gift she was given.

 

“Not that we know of.” Fred started.

 

“Even if there are any side effects, it should be gone in a couple of days, a week tops.” George finished.

 

“Anyways, I don’t think you should be complaining. It looks cool.” Fred commented.

 

Hermione responded with a swat in the shoulder with the Daily Prophet. Fred and George snickered before they headed off to their store. The worry lingered for a while, but once she started to get comfortable chatting with Ginny and Luna, it fell towards the back of her mind. Seeing both of them act so natural and connected was endearing to watch from up close. Ron occasionally popped into some of their discussions. For the most part, he was uncharacteristically quiet, and every time she glanced at Ron, he was always staring at her. She didn’t know why, but feeling his eyes staring at her made her blood boil. After a hearty supper, Luna departed towards her home, and she and Ginny went to their rooms to go to sleep. The one strand of black hair was almost forgotten.

 

‘Maybe it won’t be so bad.’ Hermione’s  last thoughts before falling asleep.

 

The temporary comfort ended when it started to spread.

 

Another day passed, two more strands of black hair. A third day passed, too many strands of hair became perfect and void of any light. One nightly visit from Bellatrix sealed it for her. That’s when she went to Dumbledore.

 

26 June 1996

 

Dumbledore was staring out towards the grounds of Hogwarts when she entered the office. Despite the looming war approaching and the countless times he has surveyed the outer parts of the school, there always came a sense of comfort watching the grounds filled with life even with the absolute darkness that was a walk away in the Forbidden Forest. Sighing, he turned away and peered down below at the brightest student he’s seen in decades. However, the aura around her was different. It was like the very same war that’s approaching happening inside her. Also curious was her hair was a mix of scraggly brown (he couldn’t help but think of Hagrid’s beard which made himself chuckle) and lively black. Dumbledore cleared his throat, and Hermione looked up at the headmaster.

 

“I didn’t expect you’d be here this soon from our last meeting.” Dumbledore began.

 

Hermione nodded in agreement. As much as she loved to be back in Hogwarts, she didn’t want it to be like this. 

 

“There’s something wrong with me, headmaster,” Hermione said. 

 

Dumbledore descended the steps until he was back in his large chair with his pale, bony hands linked together. 

 

“And, what seems to be the problem, Ms. Granger?” Dumbledore inquired.

 

Hermione bit her tongue,

 

‘What’s the problem? My hair is the problem, it’s spreading like a damn parasite.’

 

Hermione blushed at the slip-up in her mind. She shouldn’t be angry at Dumbledore, he probably knew there was something more than just her hair. And he was right.

 

“Lestrange, er, Black; she’s invading and controlling my dreams. I don’t know how or what she wants from me, but I can’t take any more of it. And this,”

 

She pointed to the black part of her hair,

 

“Isn’t helping. I thought it was a side effect from one of Fred and George Weasley’s gag gifts, but it hasn’t stopped changing my hair with this new hair.” Hermione finished with a deep breath.

 

Dumbledore rested his elbows on the desk and leaned forward.

 

“Did you say Black instead of Lestrange?” Dumbledore asked.

 

Hermione was starting to get annoyed.

 

“Yes, she said to call herself that when I was pinned to a tree,” Hermione said slowly.

 

Dumbledore contemplated this new information. Why would Bellatrix Black get a divorce? The timing didn’t seem right, and while Ms. Granger’s situation is unfortunate, he couldn’t help but think about the opportunity in front of Ms. Granger to gather information. Even if the information isn’t helpful at the moment, something could slip out. Dumbledore internally shook his head in disagreement, the well-being of his students is the most critical priority. Hermione isn’t Severus, he needed to break whatever hold Bellatrix has on Ms. Granger and fast.

 

‘Why isn’t he saying anything. Say something, anything!’

 

“Sorry, Ms. Granger. When you get to be my age, you tend to find yourself in thought more. I think we’ll be able to fix your hair problem. Let me contact Madame Pomfrey, and we’ll figure out what’s wrong. After that’s settled, we can find out what we can do about Ms. Black.” 

 

Hermione’s shoulders relaxed and sighed in relief.

 

‘Finally some good news.’

 

Dumbledore opened his desk and took out a pristine piece of parchment. With his quill, he quickly wrote a letter that Hermione couldn’t read; even with the rush of writing the note, the writing was still neatly scratched onto the parchment. Once his signature was expertly crafted at the parchment’s bottom, he exited his chair and climbed the small staircase. He opened the center section of the window pane and whistled. After a moment, a single barn owl approached from the window. Dumbledore carefully attached the letter before the owl hooted, nipped at Dumbledore’s fingers, and flew in another direction. He waited until he no longer saw the owl before he closed the pane shut.

 

“Now until Madame Pomfrey arrives, I want to know when these hairs started to appear,” Dumbledore asked as he was climbing back down the steps, taking a moment to softly pet Fawkes. 

 

“Well, my mum first saw the hair when I was about to leave for the Burrow,” Hermione replied.

 

“And you didn’t see anyone or anything suspicious on that day?” Dumbledore questioned.

 

“Other than Bellatrix Black, who invaded my dreams that night, nothing else was suspicious.”

 

 Dumbledore wasn’t sure what to think of this. He’s seen many strange and unique spells during his lifetime, but gradually turning someone’s hair a different color and texture? There are plenty of spells to change hair color, but those are immediate. Polyjuice Potion would’ve worn off by this point, and Polyjuice turns a person’s hair completely, not just a small piece. Hermione is undoubtedly not a Metamorphmagus (health screenings have already shown that). 

 

Both of them sat in awkward silence for minutes until a stern woman came out of Dumbledore’s fireplace. 

 

“Glad you’ve arrived so swiftly, Poppy.” Dumbledore welcomed the uptight head nurse.

 

“Yes, I must say, Albus, you have to improve your handwriting. It’s dreadful. I could hardly read that Skrewt scratch.” 

 

Dumbledore smiled.

 

“As much as I would love to talk about my handwriting, we have a problem with one Hermione Granger.” Dumbledore gestured towards Hermione, where Pomfrey noticed the sleek, pristine, black hair in the back of Hermione’s head.

 

“Well, this certainly isn’t the place to do an examination. Come along, both of you.” Pomfrey huffed as she made her way out of Dumbledore’s office.

 

The three of them made their way to the Hospital Wing. 

 

“Now, Ms. Granger, before I start, I want a strand of this black hair you have.” 

 

Before she could process what she said, Madame Pomfrey reached behind her head and quickly pulled a strand of hair off her scalp. Hermione held the back of her head with her hand, as Madame Pomfrey examined to make sure that the hair still had the bulb at the bottom. Satisfied, she placed the hair in an empty vial.

 

“Sorry about that, Ms. Granger, but usually, it’s better to do it fast.”

 

“Now-”

 

Madame Pomfrey clapped her hands together,

 

“You know the drill. Stay still while I make sure everything is in order.”

 

As Madame Pomfrey was going through her examination, Hermione found it harder to stay still. It felt like something was clawing inside her to get out, but couldn’t. When she heard the head nurse mumble one of her spells, she dropped her wand.

 

“No, it can’t be.” Madame Pomfrey whispered.

 

“What is it, Poppy? What’s wrong?” Dumbledore questioned. He looked at the woman who was usually so collected and confident who now seemed so afraid. Madame Pomfrey, with shaking hands, picked up her wand. She took a couple of deep breaths before she responded,

 

“Ms. Granger’s magical core, it’s changing.” Madame Pomfrey responded. Behind his half-moon spectacles, Dumbledore looked at her in disbelief.

 

“Are you sure?” Dumbledore replied.

 

“Yes, I’m sure, Albus!” Pomfrey said firmly. 

 

Still, in denial, Dumbledore mumbled the same spell. When he saw Hermione’s magical core, his heart sank.

 

Dumbledore closed his eyes solemnly. 

 

This couldn’t be happening. Spells, potions, and rituals can hold so much power. The power for immortality with Horcruxes and the Philosopher’s Stone created by his late friend Nicholas Flamel; the idea of unimaginable power with the Elder Wand and the rest of the Deathly Hallows. He’s seen all the triumphs and the failures for creating the impossible. Changing one’s magical core was always a dark topic of discussion in the wizarding world. People’s ideas of changing a magical core could be seen by pure-blood families to replicate or create a copy of another that offspring can’t accomplish. It was seen as a way for a second chance at life for those of lesser status than the disadvantages they were given at birth could go away and become the person they wanted to be.

 

Witches and wizards alike who have tried to create a spell, potion, or ritual of this magnitude have failed, but it appears the secret of it has been hidden away. It takes a lot of power to change a person internally. A Polyjuice Potion can change a person’s appearance, but only temporarily. An Imperius Curse can change a person’s personality, but they are never themselves. And not only does Dumbledore know there is no known cure for this, but he knows who Hermione Granger is going to become.

 

Hermione Granger is turning into another Bellatrix Black.

 

The headmaster turned to stare at the young girl whose legs had started to shake.

 

“Ms. Granger. I’m so sorry.” Dumbledore started.

 

“What’s she saying, headmaster?” Hermione trembled.

 

Dumbledore looked back at Pomfrey, who looked at Hermione’s growing mass of black hair and sucked in a breath. Tears were starting to fill in both of their eyes.

 

“Ms. Granger...Every witch and wizard is born with a magical core. It shapes who they are based on one’s mother and father. Appearance, personality, magical ability, and everything that makes up that person is because of their magical core. Things like magical ability and personality can be developed, but are typically set in stone. When a magical core is changed, however, the person changes as well.”

 

Hermione’s head started to shake.

 

“So you’re saying that I’m becoming another person?” Hermione asked.

 

“Yes, I’m afraid that’s the case.” 

 

Hermione slowly walked towards the closest mirror. She leaned close towards the mirror and watched her watery hazel eyes glance over her features. Hermione slowly raised one hand towards her cheek, her eyes eventually glazed over one of the many black hairs taking over her head. She blinked at the mirror and looked back at her reflection. 

 

Black hair, brown, almost black eyes, regal features, and psychotic smile stared back at her.

 

“NO!” Hermione shouted.

 

Hermione collapsed in a heap onto the floor and began to sob. Dumbledore slowly knelt beside her.

 

“DON’T TOUCH ME! I’M BECOMING A MONSTER! AN EVIL, PSYCHOTIC, MONSTER!” Hermione wailed.

 

Dumbledore confidently placed a hand on her shaking shoulder.

 

“Ms. Granger, I need you to look at me.” 

 

Hermione’s tears slowly subsided, and she stared at the headmaster, waiting for him to continue.

 

“We aren’t going to let Bellatrix Black win. I need you to listen to me. You can’t tell anyone about this. I, Madame Pomfrey, and Professor Snape will be the only ones that will know. I’m going to work with Severus to create a glamour to make you look like yourself. What I need you to do is stay strong. Doing anything like Bellatrix might speed up the process while we find a way to find a cure. Most importantly, you aren’t Bellatrix Black. You’re Hermione Granger, the brightest witch of her age.”

 

 

 

 

Hermione stayed in the Hospital Wing, staring up at the ceiling. Dumbledore theorized that Bellatrix’s invasion of her dreams was a way to form a bond and speed the process. Madame Pomfrey filled the side table to the brim of Pepper-Up Potions to keep her from sleeping. Both of them knew that she had to sleep at some point, but limiting the number of nights of sleep she took would help potentially slow the process. During the middle of the night, Hermione heard the doors of the Hospital Wing open to see that Dumbledore and Snape entered, the latter looking tired.

 

Dumbledore held up an ornate ring to her. The center of the ring was red, but the rest was gold. Dumbledore placed the ring on her left ring finger. Slowly, the black hair started to disappear and lightened back to its original brown hair; the bouncy curls became disorganized and messy. Hermione ran towards the mirror and shifted around the hair. For the first time today, she smiled.

 

‘It’s me.’

 

“Impressive isn’t it? Severus, you outdid yourself.” Dumbledore nodded approvingly at the Potions master. Snape snorted in response.

 

“Unfortunately, it isn’t a cure, but it will do for now. When it comes to the time that you return to Hogwarts in the sixth year, we need to chart how far you are in the process. If it gets too far, unfortunately, Ms. Granger, we’ll have to isolate you. Hopefully, it doesn’t get to that point.” Dumbledore concluded. 

 

“Shouldn’t Ms. Granger be prepared to head back to the Weasley’s, professor? She knows what to do, and I don’t want her here when more important things need to be addressed privately.” Snape droned while saying the last word, specifically at Hermione.

 

‘Does he think he’s helping by being an absolute arse?’

 

“Well, I think she can head back in the morning to not disturb everyone’s sleep. I know your love for being up all night is quite common around here, but not everyone is a night owl, Severus.”

 

With those words, Snape turned sharply and exited the Hospital Wing. 

 

“Was it something I said?” Dumbledore called out and followed Snape.

 

Hermione laughed and took out one of her favorite books,   Hogwarts, A History by Bathilda Bagshot.

 

She continued to read, stopping after finishing a couple of chapters to consume a Pepper-Up potion (after making sure from Madame Pomfrey she could drink that many quickly). When she reached the part about the Ravenclaw dorms is when Snape entered the hospital wing to “nicely” inform her that she could head back to the Burrow (or “the Weasleys” as Snape put it).

 

With her bag of Pepper-Up potions secured, she stepped inside the fireplace.

 

“The Burrow!” She exclaimed.

 

She threw the powder onto the floor as she was surrounded in green flames and the world around her spun.

 

1 July 1996

 

She was happy that they managed to take her excuse as to why she left so suddenly in stride. Ginny looked at her suspiciously, but didn’t say anything at the time and never did. Fred and George commented on how they missed the “rebellious” side of Hermione, but Hermione bit her cheek. They didn’t know, and she didn’t need to lash out on them. 

 

She hasn’t taken off the ring since she’s acquired it and she’s scared to take it off. She doesn’t want to see what she looks like. Whatever she’s becoming.

 

“Hey, Hermione!”

 

Hermione looked at the youngest of the Weasley’s who was leaning against the door. 

 

“We’re doing some chores in the kitchen, since we can’t do anything outside because of, you know.” 

 

Ginny gestured outside at the enormous outpour of rain.

 

“After we’re done with the chores, we’re going to go over to Fred and George’s shop if you wanna come along.”

 

Hermione grinned at her best friend.

 

“Sure, why not. I wonder if it’s better than Zonko’s.” 

 

Ginny laughed.

 

“Oh, it’s a lot better than Zonko’s.”

 

In all honesty, she needed to go to Diagon Alley because her wand was starting to act up. Ever since she went back to Hogwarts, her wand has become less responsive towards her. It frustrated her that her trusted and dependable wand that she’s had for the entirety of her time in the magical world has become ineffective because of one Bellatrix Black. Hermione looked at her vinewood wand that had such a beautiful look to it. A wand that she may never be able to use effectively again. She placed the wand at the bottom of her bag filled with Pepper-Up potions.

 

Hermione collected her pouch of money and headed downstairs. Arthur Weasley was scrubbing the remaining dishes from lunch. Arthur looked up from the plate he was working on and gave Hermione an infectious smile.

 

“Ah, Hermione. You and Ginny don’t have to worry about all of this. I can do the rest of this on my own. You kids have fun now!” 

 

“Thanks, Mr. Weasley.” Hermione politely replied.

 

“Oh, you don’t need to thank me, Hermione. You’re family!” Arthur gave one last smile before he went back to washing the dishes, humming a tune that was on the radio nearby.

 

“Is Ron coming?” Hermione asked.

 

Ginny rolled her eyes.

 

“Ron’s already there. Why, do you want to see him?” Ginny asked.

 

“Er, no. I was just wondering where Ron was. I haven’t seen him since I’ve gotten here.” Hermione replied.

 

“Ron’s just being Ron. He only becomes less of a prat when Harry is around him.” 

 

‘Yep, definitely sounds like Ron.’

 

“So, are you ready to head to Diagon Alley?” Ginny asked.

 

Hermione made sure to tell Ginny she was taking a quick detour and that she would meet her at the shop soon. When Hermione arrived at Ollivanders Wand Shop, her heart sank when she saw the windows boarded up. During her brief stay at Hogwarts, Hermione read about the attempted robbery at Ollivanders, but Hermione didn’t realize that the store would close entirely. When she went towards the door, she saw that it was open. Reluctantly, she entered the store. 

 

Immediately, she was greeted with a wand in her face. She looked up at the paranoid face of Garrick Ollivander. As fast as the wand appeared, it disappeared as he holstered the wand.

 

“I wasn’t expecting to see you, Ms. Granger. What brings you to my store?” Ollivander asked.

 

“Well sir, I need a new wand,” Hermione replied.

 

Finally, Ollivander relaxed and gave a weak smile. 

 

“Really? What happened to your old wand? As I recall a vine wood wand, 10¾ inches, and a dragon heartstring core. Perfect wand for someone of your skills.” 

 

“As you’ve said to my friend, Harry Potter. The wand chooses the wizard, and my wand no longer chooses me as its owner.”

 

“Ah, something must’ve changed to cause that. Only something major can cause a wand to disown its owner. Well, that’s your matter. Let’s find a new wand for you.” 

 

Hermione started the process (again) of trying to find the wand that spoke to her. She remembered the first time when her first wand gave her a sense of comfort and control, it was almost euphoric. She almost forgot about that feeling as all the wands she tested trying to find her second wand was about as bad as it could be. 

 

She lost count at around forty-five wands.

 

“Tricky customer. Don’t fret Ms. Granger, Mr. Potter was the same.”

 

He went towards the deep depths within the store where the endless cache of wands have been tested already except for one, his eyes glazed upon staring at the black box, covered in dust. He looked at the description of the wand. He shook his head and set it down and was ready to turn around, but stopped. His fists clenched and grabbed the box again, and headed towards the counter. He set the box down on the table and gently opened the box. He internally shuddered at the memory of the other person who shared the same dragon heartstring.

 

“An elm wand, 11” inches, a dragon heartstring core, potent,” Ollivander commented.

 

Ollivander carefully placed the wand in her hand. That spark ignited in her hands as she felt the bond course throughout her body. Everything felt right, even more so than her original wand. She stared at the beautiful design before she heard the wandmaker clear his throat.

 

“I see that you’ve found your wand,” Ollivander said, staring at Hermione intently. 

 

“As you know, Ms. Granger, I remember every single wand I’ve ever sold. Dragon heartstrings typically never have brothers, or in this case, sisters. I told the owner of the other dragon heartstring that she was destined for greatness, for that her wand was “unyielding” and only a person powerful enough could control a wand she now owned. And with this sister dragon heartstring now having an owner, well, let’s say that if those two were to join forces, they could do great things. Terrible, yes, but great.”

 

Hermione nodded her head and asked for the price for the wand. Ollivander offered a holster, but she declined. Hermione fumbled with the galleons in her hands. She laid the eight galleons on the counter and left the store. Ollivander still watched her shadow from the door until it finally disappeared, leaving the store in darkness.

Chapter Text

Severus Snape wasn’t an easy person to look at. The crooked and long nose had more expression than what was usually a cold and empty face. He never was one to let any weakness show, especially since he started working with Voldemort. Though, if he were honest with himself, he’s been cold ever since the love of his life was on the floor of Harry Potter’s room, expressive red hair now unmoving with the rest of her body. It always hurt to reimagine it, and the cries of the young boy staring at him with his tear-filled green eyes made it more difficult to forget. If he were in any other place, he would start to cry, but in front of Bellatrix Black, he couldn’t do it. 

 

Narcissa has asked for his presence in the dead of night. Already suspicious, it didn’t take long to realize the reason for her sudden request. Their latest meeting with the Dark Lord was tenser than any meeting he’s encountered so far. 

 

Earlier in the day

 

Tom Morvolo Riddle isn’t one to leave many expressions at the table, but this meeting was different. Voldemort sat, saying nothing before he stood up with a lot of force and his face filled with rage. Pettigrew flinched at the sight of his master, who looked ready to maim.

 

“A very important ring of mine was stolen. I can only assume that Dumbledore has stolen it. Unless one of my own has decided to betray me.”

 

Voldemort glanced over all of the room’s faces, stopping longer at Bellatrix, Pettigrew, Lucius, then at himself. Snape thanked Merlin that Occlumency existed, he would’ve expected a bright flash of green heading towards him.

 

“With this sudden event, I feel like we need to remind Dumbledore, who is now in charge.” With that, Voldemort slowly moved from his chair, again glancing at everybody sitting, either gripping the sides of the chair or trying to keep a blank expression. Eventually, Voldemort made his way to Draco Malfoy’s chair. Draco immediately stiffened when he stopped at his chair. Narcissa, who sat next to him, wanted to comfort him, but she knew she couldn’t.

 

“Ah, our newest member. Young Draco, how are you doing today?” Voldemort said with false sincerity. Draco looked up at Voldemort, who gave the young Slytherin a disturbing smile. 

 

“I-I’m doing well, my lord,” Draco replied. Voldemort nodded approvingly at the response. Draco noticed all the eyes staring at him. He was used to seeing so many people look at him at Hogwarts. Boys wishing they were him, girls (usually Pansy Parkinson) wanting to be with him. He wished he was anywhere but here.

 

“Good. Now, I wish to give you a task. We can say that this is your first test of devotion towards our cause—one where we can see if you deserve to join our ranks. Since you are a student of Hogwarts, you should have no problem locating Dumbledore. Therefore, the mission should be easy for you to accomplish. I want you to kill Albus Dumbledore.” When Voldemort finished, the silence that was present in the room still remained, but the feeling around everyone changed. Narcissa held back a gasp; Lucius turned white with horror; Pettigrew continued to quiver; Severus felt like everything around him was ready to crumble. 

 

Just as the weight of the task set in on the youngest Malfoy, Voldemort spoke, “That is all for today.” Voldemort turned away from everyone and headed towards his quarters. Even when Voldemort was out of sight from the whole group of Death Eaters, no one moved. It wasn’t until Draco ran out of the room when everyone started to disperse. Snape immediately went to Dumbledore with this new information. 

 

When he got to Dumbledore’s office, he was sucking on one of the lemon drops he had in a small bowl on his desk. His calm demeanor changed when his twinkling eyes landed on the Potions Master’s unusually concerned expression. Dumbledore finished with the rest of his lemon drop before he talked.

 

“I see you’ve wasted no time, Severus,” Dumbledore said. Snape looked at the almost empty bowl of lemon drops and was tempted to take one. Seeing no harm, he decided to snatch one from the headmaster. The immediate sour punch of the lemon drop kicked in, but he’s gotten used to it over the years working with Dumbledore. Plus, he needed to take his stress out on something.

 

“Yes, I’ve come bearing some news from Riddle.” Snape finally replied to the aging headmaster. Dumbledore wished to get some good news from his double agent. His day hasn’t been one he hoped for. He had finally located where one of Voldemort’s Horcruxes was being held, but the Gaunt Shack had no Horcrux. He worried that Voldemort took the Horcrux to another location, and hearing of news from Riddle could potentially mean he didn’t need to start from square one. Dumbledore leaned forward and motioned Snape to continue.

 

“He tasked Draco Malfoy to assassinate you when the new school year comes along.” Snape finally forced out. Dumbledore sat back in his chair. This certainly wasn’t what he expected. He knew that Voldemort wanted him dead, but to task the young boy to do it? It didn’t make sense. 

 

“Did he offer any explanations as to why Draco has to perform this task?” Dumbledore calmly responded. 

 

“It’s a  ‘test of devotion’  as he put it,” Snape replied shortly. Dumbledore had gone up from his chair and climbed up the steps towards the window of the Hogwarts grounds. Snape always knew what that meant. Dumbledore was in thought. The fields gave him enough peace to think and just enough space to pace in circles. This moment of reflection usually gave himself time to consider, and he’s grateful for every second.

 

“Does he know about Ms. Granger’s predicament?” Dumbledore asked. As a servant to Voldemort, he was obligated to tell his master anything that would give him an upper hand; however, his loyalty towards Albus was stronger. Part of him wanted to tell Voldemort, but his memories of Lily Evans stopped him. It’s happened too many times. Granger was so much like Lily, both the positive and negative traits. Both were muggleborns and were intelligent as much as they were stubborn. They shared the typical Gryffindor’s almost idiotic bravery to protect their allies. Maybe that’s why he felt the need to say nothing to Voldemort. It was a start at trying to bring forgiveness to himself and to Lily, wherever she is (‘ Exploring the cosmos, she was never the type to stay in one place’ ), or at the very least get rid of the guilt that has been with him for decades.

 

“I didn’t.” If Dumbledore thought it was good news, he didn’t express it. Dumbledore went down the small staircase and opened a secret compartment of his, revealing the pensieve sitting in a bowl. The headmaster motioned Snape forward, and begrudgingly, Snape got up from his seat. 

 

“If you would, Severus.” Snape let the memory of the meeting swirl in his mind. Carefully, he used his wand to extract it from his mind. He placed the strand of memory into the pensieve, and the memory danced in the liquid. Dumbledore then dived his head into the pensieve. Snape went back into his seat and waited until he heard the gasp come from Dumbledore. He turned his head and looked at the headmaster, who looked like he aged another year or two. 

 

“I think we’ll continue this discussion later. I need some time to think.” Dumbledore solemnly said. Another habit of Dumbledore. Without hesitation, Snape exited. Finally, alone, Dumbledore sat back down in his chair. He looked at Fawkes, who stared back. Both of them turned away from the other; exhausted, Dumbledore let out a winded sigh as he looked up at the ceiling of his office, looking for a sight of the light in an ever-darkening tunnel.

 

Present

 

Snape wished that his meeting with Dumbledore signaled the end of an already taxing day. Sadly, Bellatrix Black didn’t care about him, or anyone for that matter. She all but demanded his presence back at Malfoy Manor. Not being one to piss her off (he’s learned that the hard way since he was a student at Hogwarts), he appeared at Malfoy Manor. 

 

“Look who finally arrived, Snivellus!” He sneered at both the mocking tone and the nickname. It reminded him too much of James Potter, which is precisely why Bellatrix said it. Snape stared up at the oldest Black sister who was casually leaning against one of the pillars at the top of the stairs. With the sneer still plastered on his features, Snape followed Bellatrix into the kitchen, where Narcissa was sitting by the small table. Narcissa gave Snape a polite smile,

 

“Doing all right, Severus?” Narcissa asked. Snape snorted.

 

“Hardly,” Snape replied curtly. Eying over the liquor cabinet, Bellatrix followed his eyes and shook her head.

 

“What would your mother say about going through someone’s liquor cabinet without asking?” Snape glared at the dark witch, and his fingers twitched towards his wand. He knew better than to let Bellatrix get the better of him. Even if it did slip by him more than he wanted to admit.

 

“Can I ask why you wanted me here?” Snape questioned. Bellatrix looked at him, repulsed,

 

“Like I would ever want you around here, Snivellus. You’re only here because Cissy wanted you here.” Bellatrix responded. Narcissa looked at her older sister with pleading eyes before she finally stayed silent. The youngest Black sister stood up from her seat and closed all the doors to the room. She muttered some spells under her breath that he couldn’t hear. Once she was finished, she looked at Snape with cold eyes. Internally, he wanted to shiver. Despite Narcissa’s exterior looking like a privileged and meek woman, her stare was enough to get people to pay attention to what she was saying.

 

“I’m not going to try to beat around the bush, I want a straight answer. I want you to protect Draco, including what the Dark Lord has tasked him of doing.” He knew he didn’t have a choice, saying no would blow his cover and ruin everything that Dumbledore had planned. He nodded his head in agreement. Narcissa’s body relaxed, but her face was still stern. “I need more than your silent acknowledgment.” Narcissa continued. She held out her hand and, without hesitation, put his hand around her wrist with Narcissa doing the same to him.

 

“If you would Bella,” Narcissa asked her older sister. Bellatrix stopped leaning against the wall and took out her wand. Small golden streaks encircled their hands and wrists as Narcissa began with her demands,

 

“Will you, Severus, watch over my son, Draco, as he attempts to fulfill the Dark Lord’s wishes?” 

 

“I will.”

 

“And will you, to the best of your ability, protect him from harm?”

 

“I will.”

 

“And should it prove necessary... if it seems Draco will fail... will you carry out the deed that the Dark Lord has ordered Draco to perform?”

 

“I will.”

 

With the vow created, the two of them let go. Bellatrix smirked at Snape before she left the kitchen. Soon after, Snape followed, leaving Narcissa returning to her seat. She looked at the liquor cabinet but thought better of it. Finally, somewhat at ease, Narcissa went to her quarters. 

 

 

 

Upon entering her quarters the uneasiness returned, Lucius was waiting by the bed. The anger on his face was evident. She was ready to turn back, but she was too late. Lucius ran over and slammed the door shut as he looked at her.

 

“We need to talk.” Lucius gritted out. He reached out his hand towards her wrist, but she dodged his movement. She glared at her husband, who returned it. “What do you want, Lucius?” Narcissa asked, already frustrated with everything that’s transpired today wanted nothing to do with Lucius’ almost daily temper tantrums. 

 

“On the first name basis now? Okay, Narcissa. Do you know what I want? I want a little respect. And I shouldn’t have to come back at the end of the day to a wife that I haven’t made love with since Draco.” 

 

“Oh, is that all you see me as? A woman to fuck?” Narcissa spat.

 

“Cissy, don’t be lik-” Lucius started, but Narcissa cut him off,

 

“Don’t ‘Cissy’ me Lucius Malfoy! I’m done with you!” Narcissa let the words settle around them as the tension slowly escalated.

 

“What did you just say to me?” Lucius said, anger building inside of him.

 

“Did I stutter? I’m done with you, Lucius Malfoy! Have you ever wondered why Draco doesn’t talk to you anymore, or why you’re laughed at by most Death Eaters? It’s because you’re a fraud! You keep up this facade of power and class, but you’re nothing more than an insecure child who cowers behind your last name. Your family has done things etched in history, and their legacy has a son who used their legacy and did nothing with it except become a pawn for others and have no respect. And the funny thing about it is that the Black family has surpassed the Malfoy family again, because Bellatrix got her name back, and she’s worth twice as much as you. And I know my worth! I’m worth more than you, no matter how many times you try and beat it into me! Our marriage, it’s over!”

 

“Now listen here…” Lucius started, who proceeded to grab her wrist. In response, she pointed her wand at her husband’s neck. 

 

“No, for the first time, you listen to me!” Narcissa snarled. Lucius’ hand that was holding her softened, but his other hand reached for his own wand. In a state of reflex, she kicked his hand. The hand lost its grip of the wand and flew out of reach of its owner. Lucius clenched his fist and punched Narcissa in the face. Narcissa lost focus, and Lucius connected with her face again, knocking her on the floor. Lucius looked at his barely conscious wife, bruises starting to form on her face. He kicked the side of her head for good measure, leaving blood spatter on the wooden floor.

 

“You seriously thought you could overpower me? Stupid bitch!” With one last look of disgust, he spat on her face. Grinning in satisfaction, he picked up his wand and left the room. Narcissa slowly regained composure. Realizing what had happened, she started to shake. Not with sadness, but insurmountable rage. Wiping the saliva off her face, she sat herself up, plotting. Soon after, she started to chuckle, then it grew to a laugh, one that held little control or grace. Wand in hand, she threw open the door and made her way to Bellatrix’s room.

 

 

 

 

Bellatrix caught the knife for what she counted the seventeenth time in the air. Her pet must’ve found out what was happening because she wasn’t sleeping. It annoyed her, but it was only a matter of time before she would slip up. She could go after another Horcrux, but she needed more time to set everything up before she ventured out again. Just as she was ready to throw the knife back up, a banging sound came from the other side of her door. Grabbing her wand, she was prepared to give whoever dared to bother her a well deserved Cruciatus curse. Swinging the door open, her wand pointed at her youngest sister. Immediately, she saw the bruises scattered around her face and a blood trail from her nose with drops falling randomly: crazed light blue eyes that Bellatrix never saw before and a just as crazed smile. If Narcissa wasn’t bruised and bloodied, she would’ve found the sight arousing.

 

“What happened to you?” Bellatrix asked.

 

Narcissa entered her room, still keeping the same expression, “My eyes have been opened. Lucius made me see the light.” Bellatrix’s nails dug into the knife, the shine of the blade catching Narcissa’s eye.

 

“I’LL FUCKING KILL HIM!” Bellatrix roared. Narcissa took her free hand. She caressed the smooth, soft, yet deadly hands, and raised it to her bruised face. Narcissa groaned at the contact, in a mixture of both the pain and the warmth. 

 

“We’re not going to kill him, Bellatrix.” Bellatrix was ready to retort, but Narcissa continued, “At least not yet. How about we have a little fun with him first?” Now it was Bellatrix’s turn to smile. 

 

 

 

It took a while for Lucius to figure out what happened. He remembered looking for his son, Draco, but he never managed to find him. Lucius found it challenging to see his son as worthy of the Malfoy name. He had to work his way towards success; to get riches that the Weasley could only dream of (he found humor at their little stroke of luck in the lottery. Seven-hundred galleons was pocket change to him); to have an incredible manor filled with only the most elegant furniture and architecture, but he never had the family to tie it all together. Narcissa wasn’t his primary target; he wanted Andromeda until he found she was a blood traitor. Bellatrix was never an option, she was too dominating for his liking. He had to settle for Narcissa because that was all he was left with. She was okay looking, but her body wasn’t busty enough like she was ready to crumble with the slightest gust of wind. Maybe that’s why Draco didn’t turn out to be the son he wanted; he read that women with shapely bodies create the best offspring. That’s why Draco always was second in Quidditch to Harry Potter, or how his grades in Charms and Transfiguration were never like his. 

 

In retrospect, he probably would’ve seen the spell coming if he wasn’t thinking about his own son’s disappointment. He tried to remember anything about who attacked him, but the spell came so unexpectedly, he never saw anything other than the flash of light that managed to knock him unconscious. It didn’t help that he couldn’t see anything once he regained consciousness. 

 

Immediately, he tried to move but found both his arms and legs bound to a chair. As he thrashed around in his binds, his hands slammed onto the arms of the chair, and he moaned out in pain. He let the pain subside before he finally called out,

 

“Hello? Anyone?” He croaked out. His voice bounced off the walls of wherever he was being held. With most of his senses deprived, he attempted to listen for anything that might clue him in on where he is or who captured him. He heard an occasional drop of water falling onto the floor, but nothing else. With nothing to lose, he smelled the scene around him. It smelled familiar, like someplace dank, maybe underground. At that point, Lucius returned to fighting his binds, but they were expertly put on, and felt like quality material (the roughness digging into his skin confirming that assessment).

 

After what felt like ages, Lucius finally heard something different. Slow, methodical sounds of boots hitting stone, with a second, more quiet pair of shoes connecting. He recognized that sound, “Bellatrix?!” He yelled out. No one responded; instead, the footsteps quickened. He breathed a sigh of relief once he could finally see. His suspicion was correct, he was in the dungeons of Malfoy Manor. They kept their prisoners until they needed to be taken, most of them, to their death by the hands of the Dark Lord. Standing in front of him was Bellatrix and his wife, Narcissa. However, Narcissa didn’t look like the Narcissa he saw. The bruises and blood were gone; instead, she had the same ‘ready to kill’ look that Bellatrix often wore during missions, he shivered at those cold, blue eyes staring into his soul. He tore his eyes away from the two Black sisters before he felt hands, forcing him to look at both of them.

 

“What a gift you’ve gotten me, Bella! My  husband,  Lucius!” Narcissa childishly exclaimed. 

 

“Oh yes, Cissy! I managed to wrangle him up for you. I hear this gift comes with many accessories!” Bellatrix enthusiastically replied. Lucius’ eyes looked at the covered table in front of him. 

 

“Let’s uncover it together!” Narcissa suggested.

 

“Great idea!” 

 

The Black sisters went to opposite ends of the table and grabbed their respective sides of the sheet.

 

“GET ME OFF THIS FU-” Lucius started, but was stopped with a sharp slap to the face. Taking a moment to process the pain, he looked wide-eyed at his wife.

 

“Don’t talk out of turn, Lucius. You’ll ruin the surprise!” Narcissa pouted. Lucius didn’t know what to think of this. Usually, when he punished his wife, she would avoid him for a couple of days before things would eventually return to normal. He didn’t expect her to go full-on Bellatrix and become a complete psycho! Narcissa returned to her original position by the table. 

 

“1,” Narcissa started,

 

“2,” Bellatrix continued,

 

“3!” Both of the Black sisters lifted up the sheet and threw it on the floor. Lucius turned pale and started to shake his head in denial. All of their torture equipment used on mudbloods. Knives, saws, whips, needles, potions filled with an array of poisons, gags, a poisonous candle used to drip wax onto a person, all of them were staring at him.

 

“No…” Lucius gasped out.

 

“YES! You got the special edition one! Thanks, Bella, you’re the best!” Narcissa walked over to Bellatrix, encircled her hands around her neck and kissed her sister's lips. Bellatrix reciprocated in kind by putting both hands on Narcissa’s waist as she deepened the kiss. 

 

“YOU DYKES! YOU INCESTUOUS DYKES! WHEN I GET OUT OF-!” Lucius was again cut off, but instead of a slap to the face he was anticipating, he felt the cold and sharp metal knife by his neck. Narcissa was breathing heavily from the kiss and still had glazed over eyes.

 

“You know Bella, you’ve always had the best knives. This one is my favorite. It always manages to cut through whatever it lands on. The design is also a wonderful touch.”

 

“Thank you. What can I say, I only strive for the best.”

 

“I agree. And speaking of striving for the best, let’s talk about Lucius.”

 

“Narcissa, please.” Bellatrix pointed her wand at him, and he found himself unable to speak. Terrified, he tried to plead with his eyes at Narcissa.

 

“You know what I hate about that name?” Narcissa started. She slowly dragged the knife, down his neck, over his shoulder, down his arm, and stopping at his right hand.

 

“It makes me so  angry!”  Narcissa pressed down the knife into his hand. Lucius screamed, but no sound came out, as he thrashed in his chair violently. 

 

“This won’t do, Bella! I think my toy is broken; no sound is coming out of it!” Bellatrix thought for a moment before she snapped her fingers in realization. She took one of the gags off the table. Approaching Lucius, who was still writhing in pain, forced open Lucius’ mouth and placed the gag into his mouth and around his head. Satisfied with the placement, she removed the  Silencio  spell off Lucius. Bellatrix finally managed to hear the musical sounds of Lucius’ pain. She found it on par with Pettigrew’s sounds of distress.

 

“You’re just the best sister in the world!” Narcissa praised. The youngest Black sister took the knife and twisted it into Lucius’ hand. Lucius looked up the darkness of the dungeon and screamed at Merlin. With his prayers unanswered, he felt the world around him become dark before he finally lost consciousness. 

 

Narcissa waved her hand in front of Lucius. When she got no response, she started to laugh. Bellatrix joined in on her sister and laughed as well. Soon after she began to, Bellatrix stopped when she saw her sister laughing even harder. Her blue eyes were wide and looking right at her as they started to fill with tears before she collapsed onto the floor of the dungeon. Bellatrix hugged her sister as the tears seeped into her corset, and blood seeped onto her skirt. Bellatrix stroked her sister’s blonde hair while the tears continued to flow.

 

‘You will never hurt my sister again.’

 

Not while I’m around!’

 

At 12 Grimmauld Place

 

Kreacher finished up his daily search around the house. He went back to the place that always filled him with joy. The Black family tapestry. Seeing the whole family who deserved to be there. He had his own Black family members' rankings and would go through each one and sort them based on their abilities, personality, and, most importantly, how they carried the Black name. When he reached the area around Bellatrix Black, he noticed a faint branch on the tree he never noticed. That couldn’t be right, he’s seen the tapestry countless times,  ‘must’ve been a blood traitor that Walburga didn’t want to be recognized’ . Giving it one last glance, Kreacher slowly trudged out of the room.

Chapter Text

She wished that her temporary relief from Bellatrix’s grasp would’ve at least lasted towards the end of the summer, but the gods have determined herself to have too much good news and decided to raise the middle finger at her. The Pepper-Up potions worked until Madame Pomfrey wrote to her with bad news. The head nurse was running out of ingredients, and she had to wait for imports from other countries to arrive, which could take weeks, even months to arrive. Along with the note came the Potion for Dreamless Sleep, hoping that it could be an alternative use until the ingredients arrived. Finished with the letter, Hermione stared at her two last vials of Pepper-Up potions. In theory, it should work, but with how specific the potion is to be ingested, one small mistake would allow dreams to invade her mind. 

 

Hermione instinctively twisted the ring on her finger. She hasn’t taken it off since she was given it from Professor Snape. Even if Dumbledore had forced him to create it, she could appreciate that she didn’t have to look at herself and what she’s becoming.

 

‘How far am I into this transformation?’

 

Some twisted part of her wanted to see the changes. Maybe it was done with her hair and had moved onto something else. 

 

“Harry! It’s been too long!” She heard Ron yell to what she could only assume, Harry Potter. Immediately, that temptation went away. The inevitable arrival of her best friend made every negative emotion rise up. Harry, who lost his only remaining tie to his family, came by the wand of Bellatrix Black. Whom she was turning into. Every scenario possible ran through her head of him finding out. Maybe the ring would fall off or, fearfully, stop working. How would he react? Would his eyes grow cold and become hostile towards her?

 

‘He would never do that.’   But the voice didn’t say it with as much confidence that she would’ve liked to hear.

 

Forcing the ring further up her finger, she took a deep breath and went downstairs to see her best friend. Harry hugged Ginny while Molly was running around like crazy to set an extra seat for Harry for dinner. Harry looked the same as he was when she left Platform 9¾. Maybe more dark rings around his green eyes, but Harry looked happier. Or at least he was pretending everything is all right.

 

‘I wouldn’t blame you, Harry; I’m currently going through something right now.’

 

Finishing up the hug with Ginny, Harry then turned his attention towards Hermione. Giving a lopsided grin, Harry gave Hermione a warm hug. Usually, she was comfortable with his hugs, but it didn’t feel right. Instinctively, she felt herself wriggling out of the embrace. Harry looked at her, somewhat confused, but rebounded positively,

 

“Sorry, Hermione, usually you’re the one who gives the bear hugs.” Hermione laughed and quickly followed Ron and Harry to the living room, where Ginny was waiting for them. Harry looked at Ginny with a faraway look before looking away. Hermione held her tongue for now. The three started to talk about Quidditch, and Hermione couldn’t help but feel left out of the conversation. 

 

“So, Ginny, have you been taking my advice on how to control the broom better?” Harry asked.

 

“Yeah. It’s improved, and now our old brooms are less shitty.” 

 

“GINEVRA, LANGUAGE!” Mrs. Weasley yelled from the kitchen. All of them jumped from their seats from Molly’s booming voice. She was impressed that she could hear that from that distance.

 

“Damn sonar ears,” Ginny grumbled. 

 

“Anyway, glad to hear that the advice is working for you. Maybe you’ll become the captain of the Gryffindor quidditch team.” Ginny gave Harry a confident smirk, and Harry flushed at her bravado.

 

“Of course, I’ll become a captain! Maybe I’ll even surpass you this year!” Ginny challenged.

 

“Oh, really? I’d like to see you try!” Harry stuck out his hand, and Ginny took his hand, and they both shook. Hermione was about to change the subject into something she was more comfortable in discussing until,

 

“I’m thinking about trying out for the quidditch team this year.” All three of them looked at Ron. Ron was a fan of Quidditch, but never a participant. Hermione had seen him ride on the old brooms that the Burrow had and Harry’s Firebolt when he was allowed to, but he never had the grace that Harry and Ginny possessed. It never looked like Ron ever fully controlled where the broom went, so she was never surprised when Ron always skipped the quidditch tryouts at Hogwarts. 

 

Harry was the first to recover from the initial surprise, “Well good on ya, mate! What position are you looking at?”

 

“I initially was thinking chaser, but considering the strength the Gryffindor team has in terms of the position, I’m going to try out for Keeper.”

 

Hermione couldn’t help but chuckle.

 

“Oy, what’s so funny?” Ron said, turning slightly red in the process. 

 

“Seriously, Ron, keeper? You’ve got the reflexes of a dead cat.”

 

“Really? Prove it?” Ron questioned, folding his arms.

 

“Well, the time I kicked your arse last year in front of Dumbledore’s Army was a noteworthy one.” Harry and Ginny snickered.

 

“She’s got ya there, mate,” Harry said.

 

“Seriously? You’re taking her side?” Ron looked at his best friend, dumbfounded. Ginny looked at Hermione with increased respect. Ginny liked this newfound confidence in the sixth year. Sure, she’s stood up to Ron before, but to see Ron have to swallow his pride and think before he acts (temporarily, he always goes back to being Ron) is a sight to behold. Maybe she’s been an influence towards Hermione considering she’s been more comfortable with cursing around the three of them; typically, Hermione’s been a scrooge about that type of language. Apparently, she must’ve seen there’s no harm in letting a few slips by. Her thoughts were interrupted by a small glimmer of light that caught Ginny’s eye. The source came from the ring on Hermione’s finger. 

 

Ginny wasn’t sure if Hermione had the ring on when she first arrived at the Burrow, but when she first asked about the ring, Hermione was unusually vague about it. She said something about it being a family heirloom but never went further than that. Seeing as the question was giving Hermione stress, Ginny didn’t probe further about the ring. Maybe if Harry or Ron noticed it and brought the matter up, she would feel comfortable asking about it again.

 

“So, Harry, how’s everything been going, considerin-” Ron started.

 

“Stop.” Harry cut him off.

 

“Harry, I’m sorry, I mean-”

 

“No, I know what you mean. I just want to move past this. I’ve done my grieving at the Dursley’s, but now, all I want is to do what I can to win this war against Voldemort.” A plate crashed onto the floor, spreading on the floor. Mrs. Weasley rushed to clean up to clean the mess.

 

“Sorry, Mrs. Weasley.” Harry rubbed the back of his neck, guilty.

 

“Not to worry, Harry. I’m just not used to many people saying his name.” Mrs. Weasley replied as she swept up all the broken parts into a dustpan. Eventually, Harry looked away from the destruction and looked at Ginny again with the same stare as before. Suddenly infuriated, Hermione kicked her best friend in the shin, snapping him out his trance. Harry sat straight up in his seat in surprise before looking at Hermione, slightly betrayed.

 

“What was that for?” Harry whispered as he held his shin. 

 

“Being a creep.” Hermione hissed out. Harry blushed at the rude staring of the youngest Weasley.

 

“Geez Hermione, got a power kick now? What’s that muggle game with a ball on the ground?” Ron questioned, unaware of Harry’s staring at his younger sister.

 

“I think that would be football, Ron,” Ginny responded.

 

“Football? Yeah, you would be good at Football.” 

 

“Thanks, Ron. I think I’ll pass. Harry, can I talk with you for a moment?” Before Harry could say anything, Hermione grabbed, with a surprising amount of strength, Harry’s wrist and led him away from the Weasley siblings looking at the two of them confused before they started their conversation. Hermione eventually led them outside, where she finally let go of her grasp on him.

 

“What the hell was that, Harry?” Hermione hissed. Harry has never seen Hermione like this before. He’s seen her angry and demanding, but she’s usually been able to control herself and be the levelheaded one of their ‘  Golden Trio’   as people like to describe himself, Hermione, and Ron. In his first year, he laughed at Ron when he said Hermione was “a little scary, sometimes,” but he could see why he thought that now with Hermione’s angry hazel eyes staring at him.

 

“Well?” Hermione’s voice cracked. She grabbed at the collar of her shirt and pulled at it.   ‘Must’ve been something in my throat.’

 

“All right. I have a crush on Ginny.” Hermione rolled her eyes.

 

‘That much was obvious.’ 

 

“So, where did this crush start?” Harry initially thought of Ginny as another girl that saw him as the Boy-Who-Lived and nothing more. For a couple of years, that seemed to be the case. It wasn’t until around his fifth year when he noticed Ginny came into her own. Becoming independent and courageous, especially during the Battle in the Department of Mysteries.   Especially,   when Ginny comforted him when Sirius died, Hermione as well, until she came back from the dead; and who was currently glaring daggers at him.

 

“Er, end of the fifth year.” Harry finally replied.

 

“Well, in case you aren’t aware. Ginny’s taken. She is perfectly happy with Luna, and I don’t want you acting all lovey-dovey around her when she’s off-limits. You can catch her off the rebound or whatever but for right now. Stare elsewhere.” 

 

“Why are you so defensive?”

 

“Because she’s my friend. She’s also your friend, but you’re not the greatest friend if you're just trying to get into her pants. I would think that you were better than this, Harry. Now I’m going to go back inside and hang out with my friends. I want you to stay here and get your act together. If I see you come back inside and go back to staring,  help me God we’re going to have a problem.  ” Hermione all but growled the last part, and Harry shivered. It sounded so warped; it didn’t sound like Hermione. Where did this side of Hermione come from? She wasn’t like this.

 

The door slammed shut as Harry realized he was now alone. Harry ran his fingers through his hair and leaned against the pillar. He looked at the night sky, stars blinking all around him and the Burrow.

 

 

 

 

 

Her mind was in turmoil. 

 

What was that voice? That couldn’t have been me.’   Deep down, she knew that it came from her, but it didn’t sound like her. It sounded threatening, cold, yet taunting, exactly like Bellatrix. If she wasn’t in view with Ginny and Ron, she would’ve slapped herself in the face to make sure she wasn’t dreaming, but she needed to keep her composure. She didn’t mean to be so aggressive towards Harry; she meant for all her words to come out more delicate, but her whole body felt weird. Like she was still there, but she wasn’t entirely in control.

 

Hermione all but stomped her way back inside until she finally gave her shoes and feet a rest. Ron and Ginny’s conversation quieted down until their attention turned to the still angry Golden Girl. The three sat in silence, with the background of Mrs. Weasley cooking is the only significant source of the noise. 

 

“You didn’t need to stop the conversation because of me. Rarely, you two get along.” Both the siblings gave a smile, but the two of them were still concerned.

 

“Hermione? You all right? What happened between you and Harry?” Ginny asked.

 

“Nothing important. I just needed to tell Harry what I was feeling.” Hermione instantly regretted how she worded that as both of them looked at her incredulously.

 

“Bloody hell Hermione, I didn’t think you had a crush on Harry.” 

 

“No, Ronald. That’s not what I meant.”

 

“Then what did you mean?” Hermione had to restrain herself from rubbing her temples. Ron was improving as a person, but he was still very hard-headed. 

 

“If I could finish...What I meant to say was that I told Harry what I was feeling about everything going on. This whole situation is a mess that could’ve been avoided if Cornelius Fudge hadn’t denied Voldemort’s existence since Harry came back with Cedric.” That lie managed to come out without a hitch. She always felt guilty of saying any lie, especially to any authority figure or her parents. This time it kind of came out of nowhere. On the one hand, she needed to come up with a convincing enough excuse for the two Weasley siblings. On the other, she knew why it was becoming more comfortable to lie. 

 

“Yeah, I hear ya.” Ron started. “Talk about a right mess the Ministry has put themselves in. What’s worrying is what’s going on over at the Ministry. Dad has been tightly lipped about what’s happening internally, and any news source is hard to trust. Not that we could trust the Daily Prophet in the first place. It’s been shite for a while.” 

 

“WHAT WAS THAT LANGUAGE I HEARD RONALD BILIUS WEASLEY?!” 

 

“NOTHING, MUM!”

 

“I THOUGHT SO!”

 

After the ringing in her ears disappeared, her eyes trailed towards the youngest Weasley. That perfect flowing red hair was darker compared to the rest of the Weasley family. It looked so soft, she wondered what it’d be like to run her fingers. She’d expect there wouldn’t be any sort of knots compared to her hair that was filled with them. And those cute freckles…

 

‘Wait, what the hell am I doing?’

 

‘Admiring a beautiful woman, that’s what.’

 

‘WHO ARE YOU WHAT ARE YOU DOING IN MY MIND?’

 

‘You’ll know soon. For now, let me enjoy the view.’

 

“Hermione, what’s up with that ring? It looks bloody cool! Where did you get it from?” Ron pointed at the ornate piece of jewelry on her finger. Instinctively, she pulled the hand towards her chest, defensively. Ron looked surprised at the reaction.

 

“Ron, it’s a family heirloom. I don’t think she wants anyone but her to touch it.” Hermione sighed, grateful at Ginny’s response. Her eyes tore away from the ring and went back to Ginny. That body is stunning. She could see the hard lines developing from workouts (she never understood why people think Quidditch strengthens muscles; they were just riding a broom the whole time, it does very little for the muscles).

 

‘STOP IT! HERMIONE JEAN GRANGER STOP LOOKING!’

 

Hermione tore her eyes away. Ginny wasn’t even fifteen, and she was leering at her like some sort of pervert after she scolded Harry of doing the same thing. But what was odd was why it was happening. It couldn’t be that Bellatrix was...into women? She is, or was, married to Rodolphus for the right amount of years. Even if that was the case, how could she control this rude staring combined with almost uncontrollable teenage hormones? If it got to that point, she was hopefully already locked away in that tower in Hogwarts.

 

“ALL RIGHT EVERYONE! TIME FOR DINNER!” Molly interrupted her thoughts with her booming voice that even Harry scrambled from outside, and they all gathered around the beaten table. The rest of the Weasley family followed suit, and eventually, everyone was sitting around the table. Hermione has seen the amount of food that Mrs. Weasley prepares every day, but it still never ceases to amaze her. It all felt like a miniature Hogwarts menu. Hermione made sure not to initiate any eye contact with anyone, especially Ginny. She kept her eyes lowered toward her plate, and the food she was able to reach. Between the laughter and conversations, Hermione was able to get through dinner without much issue. After she finished her meal, she excused herself from the table and prepared to go to bed. 

 

Hermione got her nightclothes and headed to the bathroom. She removed all of her clothes and headed into the shower. The warm water managed to bring some amount of comfort to a very taxing day. Today became a headache that was supposed to be a happy day with her best friend's arrival. Instead, everything about today felt fake and forced. It was like she was talking from beyond a filter. She rested her head on the wall as the warm water ran throughout her body. 

 

 While she let the water run, she cleaned her body of the filth that was on it, metaphorically and literally. As she washed her body with soap, she felt the ring loosen on her finger and fall onto the floor. Quickly she tried to pick it up, but the ring kept slipping from her grasp from the soap still on her hands. As she washed the soap from her hands, her hand froze. She found where the curse had moved. Hands finally moving, now shaking, she raised her hand closer to her face to make sure she didn’t see things. From beyond the steam and water, she could make out the paler patches spotted on her skin. Scrambling for the ring, she found it near the drain for the shower. Carefully, she picked the ring up and replaced it on her finger. She slowly watched the pale patches disappear along with the black hair. She turned off the shower, brushed her teeth, put on her nightclothes, and exited the bathroom. 

 

Ginny was already in their room, who also already put on her nightclothes and was sitting in her bed. Her knees were up by her chest, and her arms encircled her legs. Ginny smiled at Hermione.

 

“How’s the shower?” Ginny asked. Hermione circled a strand of wet brown hair around her finger.

 

“Nice, as always.” Ginny nodded and looked ready to ask another question, but didn’t say anything. 

 

“Anyways, the bathroom is free now if you need to use it.” Ginny got up from her bed, grabbed a couple of items Hermione could only assume were bathroom supplies, and headed towards the bathroom.

 

Now alone, Hermione reluctantly got out her bag the single vial of Potion for Dreamless Sleep. She stared deep into the purple potion, enough to see the tiny bubbles that were prevalent in the concoction of ingredients. Seeing no point in delaying the inevitable, she removed the cork from the potion. Purple bubbles were released into the air, before settling and popping in front of her. With one last deep breath, she ingested the potion. The taste wasn’t too bad, but she didn’t have time to think about the flavor. She placed the cork in the now-empty vial and put it in the bag. She only made it into the covers of her bed before she fell asleep.

 

 

 

 

Almost as fast as she was out, she felt herself being pulled from the dreamless sleep. Every place she looked, everything was spinning around her, twisting and turning like traveling through floo powder, or by portkey. And as violent as it started, it stopped just as sudden. Hermione slowly got to her feet. The potion didn’t work.

 

Either that or she took the potion the wrong way. But she was confident that she did it correctly as it did as it instructed and made her lose consciousness in a matter of seconds. Instead of the beautiful tree in an open field, she saw all the soft white snow, slowly fall onto the ground. One tree was now hundreds of trees, standing bare, yet covered in snow. Despite the coldness surrounding her, she didn’t feel cold. In front of her was a frozen pond, with a small dock for people to fish. Hermione walked towards the end of the pier and sat down. With her previous encounter, she knew it was useless to run away. At least she could sit by the dock and watch the snowfall in peace.

 

“Winter is my favorite season.” Hermione jumped at the sudden sound of Bellatrix’s voice. She stood behind her, dressed in all black, as usual. Her voice was uncharacteristically soft, pensive. She sat in the empty spot next to Hermione. She didn’t reply.

 

“It holds a certain beauty to it no other season can compare. It also holds my most cherished memories.” Hermione snorted at that. 

 

‘Right, must be cherished memories of torturing Neville’s parents until they were insane.’

 

“Of course, that’s a cherished memory, muddy. But it can’t ever replace Christmas. Andromeda, Cissy…”

 

“I know what you’re doing, Bellatrix. I know your plan. Making another copy of you! Another psychopath! Another murderer! It’s not going to happen.” Hermione confidently told the oldest Black sister.

 

“Speaking of which…” Bellatrix started. Bellatrix removed the ring off Hermione’s finger and threw it into the wintery forest. Bellatrix looked at Hermione. Despite the insults she hurled at the Death Eater, Bellatrix gave her a warm smile. 

 

“You almost look like Andromeda.” Bellatrix all but whispered. Hermione couldn’t tear her eyes away from her. She had to admit she was the most beautiful woman she’s ever seen. The contrast from the white setting made it all the more apparent.

 

“You miss her?” Bellatrix missing Andromeda? The supposed “blood-traitor” of the Black family?

 

“Of course I do. It was supposed to be the three of us, Black sisters on top of the world. And I’m determined to do that. With you by my side, of course.” 

 

“Never,” Hermione replied.

 

“Hm. Maybe another time you’ll have a different answer. But for now, it’s time for me to depart. I’ve got lots of things to prepare for. Including your arrival.”

 

‘My arrival?’

 

Before she could question what she was talking about. Bellatrix suddenly grabbed hold of her in full force. Hermione tried to break free, but she couldn’t move. Bellatrix slowly lifted her into the air.

 

“Have a nice rest of your dream, Hermione.” Bellatrix placed a kiss on Hermione’s cheek. Hermione’s cheeks burned, and before she could react any further, Bellatrix threw Hermione off the dock onto the frozen lake. Once she made contact with the ice, it cracked below her and plunged her into the frozen water. Unlike the snow around her, she felt every bit of its bite attack her skin. She looked up towards the ice looking for the opening. She found a glimmer of hope, shining brightly from the rest of the blackness that surrounded her. She made her way towards the opening, slowly becoming brighter. When she was inches away from the surface. The world around her became black once more. 

 

 

 

 

Hermione bolted up from her bed, panting and gasping for air. She looked at Ginny’s bed, who she saw start to awaken. Ginny yawned and rubbed her eyes before looking at Hermione with concern.

 

“Hermione? What's wrong?”

 

Ginny got out of her bed and moved at the foot of Hermione’s bed. Ginny placed her hand on Hermione’s forehead. Hermione closed her eyes and marveled at the comforting warmth that spread throughout her body.

 

“Nightmare,” Hermione replied shortly.

 

“I can understand that. I’ve been having those too.” Ginny removed her hand and wiped it off with her shorts.

 

“I’m gonna grab some coffee,” Hermione said as she got out of her bed, the body still stiff.

 

“Could you grab me some as well? I usually have a hard time going back to sleep. Might as well have some time to ourselves, right?” 

 

“I’ll take you up on that offer. The usual?” Which for Ginny meant black coffee.

 

“Yep. Only the best.” Hermione made a gagging gesture, and Ginny laughed before she left their room. 

 

‘What a beautiful laugh. I wouldn’t mind hearing it again.’

Chapter Text

Narcissa insisted that she was all right, but it didn’t stop Bellatrix from worrying about her mental state. Bellatrix chuckled at the realization that  she  would be the one worrying about someone’s mental state. For the majority of her life, it was the other way around. It’s funny how things can change in a matter of weeks. Even with everything that transpired in the dungeons of Malfoy Manor, she needed to continue her collection of Voldemort’s Horcruxes. Narcissa would keep an eye on Lucius. Bellatrix wanted to kill him, cut up his body, and throw him in the fire, but Narcissa insisted on keeping him alive. Of course, she wasn’t happy with the decision (after all, it’s been too long since she’s cut somebody open), but she couldn’t deny that his death would’ve put targets on their backs. Narcissa was the one that set the memory charm on her husband while Bellatrix cleaned up the blood spilled on the dungeon floor, chair, and knife. Content with having everything cleaned, the two of them levitated the still unconscious Lucius to his room. It took longer than expected because of the Death Eaters guarding the corridors, but once they made it to his room, they were confident that they were able to get through, undetected. Narcissa’s explanation about Lucius having too much to drink was able to work for Lucius or explain why he felt weak and sluggish on his feet. 

 

Even with Narcissa’s insistence, she still checked in on her a final time before she left. The crazed eyes in the dungeon were gone, and everything on the surface looked normal, but Bellatrix still felt something was wrong. Call it a gut feeling or sisterly connection, she felt an invisible weight dragging Narcissa. They were closer yet more distant than when she first came back. What were they supposed to be? Sisters? Forever and always. Lovers? She didn’t know. Maybe, but Narcissa shouldn’t be shackled only to her. Narcissa needs someone who can love her for who she is, inside and out. She’s deserved more than that for all the shit she’s gone through with Lucius. If no one would, she would.

 

Bellatrix softly closed the door to Narcissa’s room and started walking towards her room. She made it a priority to check on her chest and account for the Horcruxes she had in her possession. It wasted time, but it was time she could afford to spend for security’s sake.

 

“Checking up on my mother again, Bellatrix?” That snarky voice immediately worsened her mood. She turned to look at the only Malfoy child. If Bellatrix could describe how Draco looked, it was about what he’d look if he spent an hour in Azkaban. Other than the neatly trimmed, pristine hair, every part of him seemed to be a shell of his former self. There was no mistaking the dark rings around his empty eyes, nor the gauntness of his features. She couldn't help but be reminded of her restless, starving nights in Azkaban. Sleep was rare in that prison; you had to be almost deaf to get through the screams and insane rambling. Even if someone managed to find themselves asleep, the most likely thing awaiting you was a barrage of nightmares until you wake up in a sweat, welcomed back with the same noises and a still empty stomach.

 

“Yeah, I’ve been keeping her company. Unlike you, or your deadbeat father. Now leave me, alone boy, I’ve got important things to do.” Bellatrix ignored his hardened glare and left Draco to fight his demons.

 

“I wasn’t done with you.” Bellatrix clenched her fists. One of the first rules Narcissa gave her when she returned from Azkaban was not to hurt Draco. Thankfully, the rule didn’t include verbal insults towards the boy, but dammit did she want to knock his teeth in, or give him a Cruciatus curse. Just once. 

 

I  wonder where he would rank on the scream list. I would say lower than Pettigrew, but higher than Greyback.’ 

 

“Well, I was done with you. So you can fuck off.” God, she needed to get away from this place. Maybe get in a nice veela girl’s bed; who knows, she might also find a nice lady for Narcissa to settle down with. Kill two birds with one killing curse.

 

‘She would need a nice, spankable arse, though. Sex isn’t fun without it.’

 

Bellatrix again turned away from Draco and continued towards her room until a hand grabbed her by the elbow. She grabbed her wand from its holster and directed it at Draco, whose face was still stern and unwavering.

 

“I know what you did to my father, Black.” Bellatrix managed to free herself from his grasp but didn’t run away. Instead, she looked again at Draco.

 

“And what was that?” She questioned. She didn’t want to explicitly say what she and her sister did just in case he talked about another incident. Even if he was talking about what they did to Lucius. How did he know? Unless, Narcissa, in a moment of weakness, spilled out everything she did to her son. 

 

“You tortured him. I saw it.” He reminisced on that night. Draco was restless and needed something to take his mind off his task. On his way towards the Malfoy library, he saw the ambush happen. Bellatrix blindsiding Lucius and levitating him towards the dungeons. He followed Bellatrix from afar until he managed to catch what he saw and what happened to his father.

 

Despite his confession of catching them in torturing his father, he didn’t seem angry or upset. 

 

“And?” Bellatrix urged him to continue. At this point, she was getting restless. She started to twirl her wand in her hand. Draco’s eyes briefly got distracted before he continued,

 

“Thank you. Father deserved it.” He was honest about it. And he was glad that they kept him alive. He wanted his chance to give his thoughts and express them to his father.

 

“You’re welcome, ickle Dracy kins.” The thanks didn’t mean anything, apart from not having Narcissa lecture her about easing up on Draco (“He’s just a kid, sis.” Narcissa often told her). She put her wand back in its holster and turned away from Draco. 

 

“And Bellatrix?” Groaning, she turned her head back at Draco.

 

“Don’t kiss my mother in front of me again.” Bellatrix gave Draco a crazed smile. She lifted her left arm and clenched her hand, except her index and middle finger. Slowly, she curled the fingers upwards. From a distance, she managed to put between herself and Draco she couldn’t tell if he grew red in the face in anger or embarrassment, or both. Draco then turned and stormed the opposite way and out of sight.

 

‘Can’t do that, Draco. I love to kiss her as she moans my name.’

 

 

 

 

 

The chest violently swung open, and Bellatrix searched its contents for the only Horcrux she captured. Near the bottom of the chest, tucked away in the corner, was the Gaunt ring, proudly showing its Deathly Hallows symbol to her. A beautiful piece of jewelry, unlike that disgusting ring that Hermione Granger was wearing. She was opening up, but it was taking more time than she expected. It didn’t help that the woman was refusing to go to sleep, making it impossible to build any connection during the early phases. Bellatrix wanted things to happen faster, but she’s tampered with too much to go any further. For the first time in a while, she needed to be patient and wait for everything to fall into place. Satisfied with the ring still in its spot, Bellatrix closed the old yet secure chest shut. 

 

The next Horcrux she had on the list would be a risky one. Salazar Slytherin’s locket. This was one of the few Horcruxes that Voldemort didn’t know the location of. It was stolen from its original site by Regulus Black, another traitor in the family. Not for being a blood traitor but instead betraying Voldemort. In the dead of night, he stole Salazar Slytherin’s locket from its original location within the Crystal Caves. He took the site of the pendant to his grave. A problem, but one thing she found out about Regulus, was that he never did missions alone. He was an alright duelist, but always had someone watching his back and vice versa. And there was only one being he would’ve confided in for a task so momentous.

 

Kreacher. 

 

She’s been preparing her visit back to 12 Grimmauld Place. It would be a risk considering the possibility of someone being there (other than Kreacher). Planning for any bad scenario occurring has led up to this day. With one final deep breath, she apparated away.

 

 

 

 

The outside of 12 Grimmauld Place managed to look the same. Held together at the seams by Spell-O-Tape. Still, that look managed to bring a wave of nostalgia to her body, and she hadn’t even stepped inside. With caution, she went around the perimeter of the house to check for the usual wards. Not surprising, there were extra wards placed on the house that wasn’t there when she left. What was surprising was the amount placed around them. Number 12 usually had an ungodly amount of wards, and if someone was desperate enough to get through them, they were more than capable of letting their wands do the talking, but at some point, they upgraded. Frustrated, she went through the grueling task of taking off all the wards necessary to get into the house, undetected. Time-consuming, yes, but necessary. The last thing she needed to deal with was other people interrupting her when she needed to find a Horcrux. She took down the last ward with a huff and sat on the front step of the house. 

 

From the corner of her eye, she noticed something moving; she was ready to pull out her wand, but it was just some kids playing on the side, unaware that she was there. It reminded her of...she couldn’t remember. There was little “playing” in her childhood. Mostly training and studying with a couple of beatings thrown in between. She took a majority of the praise and the violence. Andromeda went through the same. When it was Narcissa’s turn, she offered to take the punishment, but that resulted in another round of beatings. Fortunately, Narcissa was intelligent enough to come through her training unharmed. She had the dueling, Andromeda had the brains (she had it as well, so did Narcissa, but Andromeda was intellectually gifted), and Narcissa had the silver tongue. The three of them together would’ve changed the world.

 

We will change the world. I just need to get it all together.’

 

Snapping out of her thoughts, she went up the small set of steps and threw open the door. She took a couple of steps inside and closed the door behind her. Memories came flooding back to her, small amounts of events replaying right in front of her. Except for the house, she remembered had less wear and dust to it.

 

Sirius, you lazy fuck you couldn’t bother cleaning the house for even a minute?’

 

Oh right, Sirius. She killed him. He did deserve it, after all, he was a blood traitor and deservedly was disowned. However, she might have given him a second chance, but some things just happened during the heat of the moment—one less person to worry about. 

 

“Bellatrix? Is that you?” She looked forward and saw the portrait looking directly at her. She moved closer towards the portrait. The aged, looking woman stared at Bellatrix sharply but managed a small smile.

 

“Walburga?” She hasn't seen her in decades. The only reason she recognized her was the recognizable facial features.

 

“Finally, a true family member from the House of Black. I’ve seen nothing but mudbloods and blood traitors amongst us.” Walburga said with absolute disgust. She could agree with that statement. The wizarding world has become too open, letting people who don’t deserve to enter this world. It should stay secret, only to the pure, the worthy. 

 

“Yes, I’m remedying the situation as we speak.” Walburga nodded approvingly.

 

“Good. I always knew you were the best in your family. Better than that blood traitor Sirius, or that other traitor Regulus.”

 

“Well, you’ll be happy to know that Sirius won’t be bothering you anymore. He’s dead.” That made the portrait lady relax. The house is finally free from his grasp. 

 

“It’s about time. Sorry for holding you up, Bellatrix, make yourself at home. And, welcome back.” With that, the curtains to the portrait closed on its own. Bellatrix continued forward into the house when she heard the familiar footsteps come closer to her. When the creature turned the corner, she was right when she saw Kreacher trudge forward.

 

“What’s with all this noise? I'm trying to get some sleep.” Kreacher suddenly looked at Bellatrix. His eyes widened in shock. 

 

“Miss Bella! We have purity returned into this house. What might Kreacher do for you?” He asked while he moved closer to her to make sure he wasn’t hallucinating.

 

“Yes, I have to ask you something vital. It’s about my dear cousin Regulus.”

 

“TRAITOR, A DISGRACE TO THE FAMILY NAME!” Walburga screamed. Bellatrix looked back at Kreacher, whose face fell at those words but quickly went back to its angry, grouchy demeanor. 

 

“Yes, anything for Miss Bella!” Kreacher enthusiastically replied. For the first time in years, he would be taking orders from a true pureblood, not from Sirius, or dealing with those other blood traitors. He would take any order and do it without hesitation.

 

“I want to know where Salazar Slytherin’s locket is. I know Regulus stole it; I want it.” Kreacher's face went white but nodded. He slowly trudged upstairs. Bellatrix heard a couple of items break onto the floor, and some other things move across the wooden floor. Kreacher returned from upstairs, dragging the amulet from his skeleton hands. He lifted the amulet to Bellatrix, who grabbed it from his possession. She stared at the serpentine ‘S,’ inlaid with glittering, green stones; everything about it made it look tempting to open to reveal whatever contents it had inside. It all screamed Salazar Slytherin.

 

“A gift to you, from Regulus. I’m glad to have helped you on your quest. Is there anything else Kreacher can do you for you?” Bellatrix thought about it. This was an unusual situation she found herself in. Except for getting the necessary wards removed, the acquisition of the Horcrux was relatively easy, but now it gave her ample time to cover any trace of herself. 

 

“Yes, a couple of things. First off, never disclose to anyone that I came here.”

 

“Of course, Miss Bella. Not a soul will know.” Bellatrix continued with her demands.

 

“Second, clean up this house. The House of Black deserves the beauty that is deserving of the Black family. If anyone asks why you’re cleaning, say it’s because of Sirius’ death that you’re cleaning again.”

 

“Smart, just like a true member from the House of Black.” 

 

“Finally, remove any trace of   that   book from the library.” Kreacher knew what she was talking about. No one spoke about the book and how they got it.

 

“Surely. I won’t let you down, Miss Bella!” Kreacher, this time going slightly faster, walked away from Bellatrix. Amulet in hand (though it was giving off a slight burning sensation), she was ready to exit until she heard the popping of someone apparating into the house. 

 

Goddammit.’

 

She needed to put the wards back up, but now someone entered the house. A moment later, another popping sound came from the same room. Desperate, she looked around for any place she could hide. 

 

“Something has changed that you must see.” The voice of Severus Snape was clear enough to hear. And just her luck, Dumbledore was with him. The footsteps were drawing near to her spot under the stairs. Desperate, she entered the room adjacent to her. She tried her best to shut it as best as she could, and now she was stuck in a cramped closet,

 

“Someone is in the house.” Dumbledore heard the creak of the door closing. 

 

“Kreacher is always moving about.” Dumbledore wasn’t so sure. He made his way towards where the noise came.

 

Bellatrix fumbled with the cloaks inside the closet, trying to get one big enough to hide her entire body. She silently cast a disillusionment charm on the cloak, giving her a temporary invisibility cloak. After several attempts to cover herself entirely, she got the cloak to cooperate and conceal her entirely. A few moments later and the door opened, and Dumbledore peered inside the closet. Bellatrix held her breath as the aged, but still, alert wizard scanned the tiny space. His twinkling eyes then laid upon the corner where she secluded herself in. Bellatrix stared back at those knowing, blue eyes, and internally cursed. 

 

“Well, a very impressive invisibility cloak. Very impressive.” 

 

Screw it.’

 

Bellatrix threw the invisibility cloak off her and threw it at Dumbledore’s face. With his face obstructed by the large cloak, she made her way towards the door. As she threw the front door open, she managed to catch a glimpse of Severus’s stunned face grabbing his wand, and Dumbledore aimed the Elder Wand at her before she shut the door behind them. A concoction of colors hit the closed front door behind her while she went down the stairs. With no time to waste, she apparated out of Grimmauld Place. 

 

She only managed to place the locket inside the chest and close it before she got it out,

 

“FUCK!” She got lucky.

 

Stupid bitch.’   Those days of preparing almost went to waste. She didn’t have a chance against two of the best duelists she’s known. If she didn’t spend all that time talking to Kreacher and Walburga, she could’ve escaped without a problem.

 

We don’t need anybody else—just us. You’re too busy thinking about others. They’ll only drag you down.’   Bellatrix shook her head. No, she was done being alone. This voice needed to go away, but it never did. Ever since Azkaban, it's been with her. A knock from her door made her look up and prevent more holes being burned into the floor.

 

“Sis?”

 

Get rid of her; she’s useless. You can have all the women that you want once you’re in power.’

 

“YOU’RE WRONG!” The door flew open. Bellatrix’s face softened at the soft, worried features from her sister.

 

“Bella? Are you talking to   it   again?” She didn’t respond, but the slackening of her shoulders was enough to confirm Narcissa's assumption. This voice inside her sister’s mind wasn’t new for Bellatrix. Narcissa wasn’t sure when the voice showed up, but it certainly wasn’t present to her before Bellatrix went to Azkaban. She first noticed Bellatrix talking to herself when she was in the bathroom right when she escaped Azkaban to clean off the disgusting filth inside the prison. When she confronted Bellatrix about whom she was talking to, she denied it. It was only until she caught her sister during the middle of her ramblings that she told her about the voice inside her head. Initially, she hoped that it would disappear over time, but it’s still present months later and worried it could be a permanent part of Bellatrix’s life.

 

“Yes.” Bellatrix weakly let out. 

 

Weak.’   The two sisters stood, not moving in awkward silence. Bellatrix was still looking down at the floor.

 

“Bella, let me help you. I can make the voice go away, you don’t have to fight it alone.”

 

You need me.’   Bellatrix shook her head. 

 

“I can’t. It helps me. Once everything is done, I can let it go.” Narcissa looked at her older sister, disappointed. Narcissa knew her older sister was stubborn, but this voice wasn’t helping her at all.

 

“You never needed the voice because I know who you are and what you're capable of. You’re Bellatrix Black, the greatest witch in her generation.” 

 

Lies.’

 

“No, Cissy. I’m not the greatest. I’ve become soft. I let myself almost get captured by Dumbledore and Severus to get some damn locket for a chance at a dream that might cause the only thing I care about to die in front of me.”

 

“Wait, what locket, you don’t mean…” Bellatrix quickly scanned the room, looking for anything out of place, or in the off chance that someone might be eavesdropping on their conversation.

 

“Yes, Salazar Slytherin’s locket,” Bellatrix said reluctantly. Narcissa couldn’t believe it. A locket lost in time now was in Bellatrix’s possession? It didn’t seem real to her.

 

As she was talking, Bellatrix opened her still unwarded chest and pulled out the necklace. Narcissa looked at the locket. As beautiful as it was described in the books. The green jewels sparkled, almost hypnotically at her. She pulled herself together when Bellatrix put the locket back in her chest. 

 

“Now, if you don’t mind, I’ve got to ward the chest,” Bellatrix said coldly. 

 

“Bella, you don’t have to fight this battle alone.”

 

“I’ve been alone for a while.”

 

“Not anymore.” Bellatrix looked at her younger sister. Slowly a smile formed on her face.

 

“You’re right.” The two of them then embraced. The voice again falling back into the depths of her mind.

 

Dumbledore’s Office

 

Severus Snape couldn’t believe the brazenness of Bellatrix Black. What in the name of Merlin was she doing at Grimmauld Place? Was Black scouting it, or was she looking for something? He wanted to stupify himself for being so slow to get his wand out, especially when she didn’t do anything impressive to escape both of them. 

 

“She could’ve been there for anything, Dumbledore.” They did search around the house for any area where she could’ve been seeking. Bellatrix was a volatile person that would’ve left a trace of something. They found a lot of broken items in Regulus’ room, but couldn’t find anything of note in the place that she might’ve wanted or any clues as to what was taken. Kreacher wasn’t much help and told them that he never saw her. He knew he was lying, but there wasn’t much they could do other than plead with the old elf, which fell on deaf ears.

 

“I’m getting old. A cloak managed to let Miss Black escape.” He chuckled. It was a beautiful cloak, given any other circumstance he would’ve given praise to Bellatrix for crafting such a beautiful invisibility cloak. Everything happening is becoming too much for the wizard, Voldemort’s resurgence, Bellatrix being a wild card, Miss Granger, and having two Bellatrix Blacks out in the open? If he were younger, it might’ve been a lot more to handle, especially with the Elder Wand in his possession. Even with his powers, Father Time remains undefeated. 

 

“It wasn’t your fault. I should’ve been faster, I could’ve captured Black.” Severus always was hard on himself, though he had to admit he couldn’t tell with the cloak over his head. 

 

“Now, what was it you wanted to show me if we weren’t both befuddled by Miss Black’s presence.” Snape rolled his eyes at Dumbledore’s word choice, but it had its charm that wouldn’t work on anyone else.

 

“Earlier in the week, I was at 12 Grimmauld Place, when I noticed a change in the Black family tapestry. There was a new branch growing.”

 

“Where was it located?” Dumbledore questioned.

 

“By Bellatrix Black.” Dumbledore nodded solemnly. Miss Granger was becoming a Black in not only appearance and personality but blood. This worried him in finding any cure for Miss Granger. His eyes fell upon yet another stack of books and papers created solely for finding a cure, but the pages have been empty on any leads.

 

“Should we start again?” Snape asked the headmaster. Dumbledore looked at Snape, no sparkling eyes looking behind the half-moon spectacles.

 

“Yes.” Both of them exited the office, determined to find the location of a Horcrux.

Chapter Text

“I’m telling you mate, she’s off her rocker.” Harry proceeded to sharply punch his friend in the shoulder. Ron looked at Harry’s eyes before his attention went to his now hurting right shoulder. No matter how much his friend kept berating him or otherwise telling him to stay quiet, he will always be 100% straightforward with what’s on his mind. And it’s not like his friend could deny it. No matter how close they are (as friends or something more, he can’t tell), Harry had to admit Hermione wasn’t herself. Harry shook his head in disappointment.

 

“Ron, just try to imagine yourself in her shoes for a moment.” Harry requested. Still not convinced, Harry continued.

 

“Look, I know she’s not acting like herself. But consider where we’re at right now. We’re at the brink of war, Voldemort is out there doing Merlin knows what at this moment, she’s had to come back from the dead, Bellatrix Black has some target on her back, and now she has to deal with all of that, plus maintaining her grades and preparing for the NEWTs. Wouldn’t all the piles of stress building up cause her to act out of character?” Harry finished with a deep breath. He watched the gears turn in Ron’s brain. After a moment, Ron’s shoulder’s slackened.

 

“All right, you win.” 

 

“Ron, this isn’t about winning, this is about being there for our friend. Once she’s ready to talk about it, she’ll tell us.” Ron looked to say something but closed his mouth and nodded. Finally, Harry could relax again.

 

“Come on, let’s see how she’s doing.” Harry motioned Ron to follow him. With a hint of reluctance, Ron followed his friend to talk to their bushy-haired friend. As they climbed the creaky stairs towards Hermione’s and Ginny’s room, they heard a different set of footsteps making enough noise until they could listen to them at the top of the staircase.

 

“Bloody hell, what’s she doing?” Ron whispered. Harry gave his friend another sharp look before he went forward towards the door and knocked. The footsteps stopped as the creaking and noises coming from the upper floor silenced with only hints of sound coming from the kitchen downstairs.

 

“Hermione? It’s me, Harry. Ron’s here with me as well. We just wanted to check up on you.” Harry finished rubbing the back of his neck. In retrospect, it sounded better in his head, but the delivery made this visit sound forced. Finally, the door opened to reveal Hermione looking very disheveled. Her face was flushed as if she ran around the entire Burrow ten-fold and didn’t look like she wanted to be bothered if the glare was any indication. 

 

“I’m sure I can handle my well-being by myself, thank you. Well, since you’re here, I wanted to ask both of you something.” Hermione looked at them with disapproval. They were accustomed to getting on Hermione’s nerves ever since day one, but generally, she simmered down after a day, a week tops (and it was only one time; how was he supposed to know that mixing goat blood with ginger root would cause an explosion?). “That means yo- look at me when I’m talking to you!” Ron all but jumped out of his pants at the sudden outburst of anger. Harry silently pleaded with Ron to listen to her. Ron turned his eyes towards Hermione’s outraged face.

 

“That’s better. Now, I have a suspicion that you’re talking behind my back.” Hermione accused. Immediately, Harry shook his head. 

 

“Hermione, we would neve-”

 

“You’re a terrible liar, Harry.” Before Harry could respond to her, more footsteps were heading up the winding staircase. Ron looked down the stairs to see a flash of long red hair, making their way closer towards them. He internally groaned at who it was.

 

“What’s with all this noise here?” Ginny looked at the three of them in annoyance. She could hear the whole bloody conversation happening from the living room. It wasn’t uncommon in the house. She’s routinely had to listen to the boys continuously bicker over the stupidest petty problems. What was the point of waking the whole house over what items you want to be shipped to your shop she needed her damn rest? Over time she’s grown a tolerance to it, but on a day where she just finished de-gnoming, she needed a place to relax and take a nap. 

 

“Boys. Just overly concerned for their female companion. Well, I appreciate it, but as I said before, I’m completely capable of handling things myself.” She said in a more controlled manner. Slowly, the boys relaxed. 

 

“Sure, just...don’t scare me like that again. You almost gave me a bloody heart attack.” Ron pleaded, grasping his chest for added effect. Ginny rolled her eyes at the little act Ron was showing all of them. Now she could cross off ‘Performer’ on the opportunities Ron could have as a job. 

 

“Well, glad to know that you’re okay, Hermione. Err, want to listen to the radio, Ron?”

 

“Yes, sure, let’s go,” Ron said with too much enthusiasm as the two of them raced down the stairs. When they were out of view, Ron shot Harry an ‘I told you so’ look. 

 

“Okay, so maybe she isn’t the best state of mind right now. Just give her some more time, and if something is wrong, we can ask for help.” Harry whispered. 

 

“More time to go as nutty as Hermione? No way, Harry, we need to talk to somebody now.” Ron hissed out. Harry had his chance at proving him wrong, but what he’s seen has validated his point. Harry couldn’t be calling the shots now that they’ve all been shown Hermione isn’t in the right state of mind. This time Harry’s shoulders slackened in defeat.

 

“Alright. Who do we go to?” That was something he hadn’t thought of. It would be easy to send her to St. Mungos for an evaluation, but hearing what his dad told him about that place, Ron didn’t want to send his friend where they mistreat the mentally ill for their twisted pleasure. He could contact one of the Aurors, but they would just take her to St. Mungos. 

 

“Dumbledore.” He didn’t mean to say it out loud, but it slipped as he was thinking about that possibility.

 

“Dumbledore?” Harry looked at his friend, incredulously. He knew that his best friend needed help, but going to Dumbledore? 

 

“We don’t know what’s going inside her head; for all, we know those Death Eaters could’ve made Hermione all loopy.”

 

“Why not St. Mungos?” Harry asked. Ron was reluctant to tell him what he knows, but seeing that he had no other choice, he relented.

 

“My dad told me about the shite that happens in that place. What techniques they use to make their patients “sane” and “normal” again. There’s a case going on that isn’t being discussed inside the Ministry. They don’t want it to go public because of the outrage by the community.”

 

“What community are you talking about?” Ron bit his tongue for what he was going to say.

 

“The community that Ginny is a part of. You know, being with that Lovegood girl?” Harry thought about what community he was talking about before he connected the dots.

 

“You mean the LGBT community?” 

 

“Yeah, that’s the one,” Ron grumbled. 

 

“Do you have a problem with that?” Harry questioned. Ron didn’t respond. He knew if he did, he’d be lying. He didn’t like Luna. That freak manipulated her sister into becoming a part of that cult, and now she’s all about standing up for the “fairer sex” or whatever that means. He missed the old Ginny, who was kind and innocent. It annoyed him to no end seeing the two of them kiss, and the time he saw the two of them come out of their bedroom looking disheveled almost made him vomit. He couldn’t understand why Harry was so okay with it. 

 

Harry looked at his friend. He could tell when his face darkened that he wasn’t supportive of the LGBT community. Harry didn’t know the community existed until he found the book inside the Black library: To Love is to Kill: The History of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender Communities in Britain by Hazel Bamford.  It took a while to get through their history, especially the more detailed parts. By the time he finished, his heart had ached for all of them. They were witches and wizards, muggleborns, and purebloods. They were tortured, bullied, raped, and killed for who they were and who they loved. He was happy for Ginny and Luna, and they’re more students like them in Hogwarts, scared to show their true selves because they might become a target or a pariah. Even if Draco Malfoy came out, he would make fun of him for other things (like being a ferret) because being LGBT isn’t an insult, it’s a source of pride. Right now, Ron needed a history lesson of his own.

 

“Hey! Where are you going?” Ron called out toward his friend, who ignored his cry. Once he reached his room, Harry went towards his chest and took out Bamford’s book. Hedwig screeched at him when he closed his chest with too much force.

 

“Sorry, Hedwig. I’ll give you a treat once I’m done trying to knock some sense into Ron.” Hedwig tilted her head to the side as he went out of the room. When he came back, Ron was lying on the couch, listening to the radio. Harry could hear the faint static coming through as the male voice talked about Britain's latest news. Once he was close enough to Ron, he let go of the book, and it landed in Ron’s lap. He saw his friend glance over the title.

 

“What?” Ron asked.

 

“Read it.” Ron looked at Harry like he grew a second head. Ron flipped to the end of the book. He stared at the lower corner of the book and shut it again.

 

“Bloody hell Harry, it’s almost 800 pages long; you can’t expect me to read all of that!” 

 

“I did. It’s something that you need to read. Maybe think about what you believe and make yourself imagine walking a mile in their shoes.” Harry proceeded to make his way towards the stairs.

 

“Wait, I thought you said we were going to listen to the radio!” Ron called out.

 

“I’m tired,” Harry muttered. Not that Ron could’ve heard, but he didn’t want to talk to him right now. Hedwig was calling him.

 

 

 

 

“Hermione, what’s wrong?” Ginny watched the girl pace around the room before finally stopping at the foot of her bed. Hermione looked back at Ginny before she sat down on her bed with her face in her hands and started to sob. Immediately, Ginny rushed forward and did her best to comfort the girl who's crying didn’t falter. 

 

“I don’t know what’s wrong with me. Harry and Ron think that I’m a freak now.” Hermione’s mind was wrestling if she should tell Ginny the truth. However, the thought of being inside some padded cell or some locked away castle frightened her. 

 

“Hermione, once you’re ready, look at me.” Hermione sobbed into Ginny’s shoulder for a little longer until she pulled herself together. Slowly, she lifted her head to meet Ginny. 

 

So beautiful…

 

‘No, don’t think of her like that!’

 

“Hermione, you’re NOT a freak. You’re Hermione fucking Granger the most badass, smartest, no-nonsense person I know. One day you’ll be the Minister of Magic or an Auror or a professor or Merlin’s all, you’re capable of doing everything! Whatever is killing you inside right now, I know you’ll persevere. And “when,” not “if,” when you persevere, you’ll be stronger than ever. And if you ever need any help, you’ll always have Luna and me.” Hermione slowly smiled, and Ginny smiled back at her.

 

‘I  can’t help it…’

 

Hermione then leaned forward and kissed Ginny. Her lips were as soft as she expected and so warm. Ginny’s eyes widened in shock and pulled away.

 

“Hermione?!”

 

“Oh, Merlin, what did I just do?” Hermione whispered to herself. She didn’t know what happened, it felt like she was on autopilot. Hermione’s face flushed red in embarrassment as well as Ginny.

 

“Is...this what’s been on your mind?”

 

“Yes. I’ve been...confused for a while now. I’m sorry that I did that, Ginny. I know you have a girlfriend. I shouldn’t have done that.” Ginny cut her off before she could ramble more.

 

“Hermione, it’s fine. I wished you asked first, but I can understand what you’re going through. I’ve had that feeling before too. When you see that one woman and suddenly you’ve realized you could be into women. Is that what happened?” Hermione nodded her head.

 

“It’s nothing to be ashamed about, women are awesome. Boobs are awesome, and the sex is  very  awesome. Just remember Hermione, consent is key. You don’t want to be  that  guy. Over time you’ll find that consent can also be very arousing, but consent must be in any relationship. Now, with all the formalities out of the way, let me give you a  proper  kiss.” Hermione’s eyes widened.

 

“Wait, what about Luna?” Hermione sputtered out, was this happening? How did she go from crying her heart out to be asked to be kissed by Ginny? 

 

“Don’t worry. I’ll tell Luna about it. She’ll find it funny with that innocent peck of a kiss with my baby bisexual in training, or is it lesbian?”

 

“I’m not sure.” Hermione rubbed her neck, awkwardly. Suddenly for her, everything went from a mess to something a lot more tolerable fast.

 

“Well, whichever it is, you’ve got to kiss better than that. Sweep that woman off her feet. Maybe this will help you practice.” 

 

Ginny moved to look more directly at her. Hermione’s breath deepened. All the freckles on Ginny’s face could be counted, they were inches away from each other.

 

“Hermione, I want to kiss you. Is that okay?” Hermione looked at her friend’s eyes.

 

“Yes.” She consented.

 

This time, Ginny leaned forward. And the two of them met in the middle as their lips locked together in a proper kiss. Hermione slowly put her hand behind Ginny’s neck, and Ginny put her hand on Hermione’s hips. Everything for Hermione felt...right. A few weeks ago, she thought to herself that she wasn’t interested in girls, but now she’s snogging Ron’s sister. 

 

Fucking finally. I thought you’d never get in Ginny's pants.’

 

‘You’re disgusting, she’s just helping me out as a friend.’

 

‘That’s how it always starts, it’s a slippery slope directly towards fucking.’

 

As fast as she was reveling in the softness of Ginny’s lips, it quickly disappeared. “See, isn’t that better? I would go tongue, but that’s exclusive for Luna. Speaking of which I’m about to head out to Luna’s. She’s gotta hear about the newest member of our club.”

 

“Club?” 

 

“Our pride club you baby gay. You’re unofficially a member. You’ll be official soon once we get to Hogwarts. Anyways, thanks for the kiss, Hermione.” And with that, Ginny exited the room. Hermione still sat at her bed in stunned silence. Everything around her felt like it was spinning. All of it made no sense to her. 

 

She was glad that Ginny left when she did; that voice was starting to distract her. The voice. It started a week ago, and she wished it was a one-time occurrence. Truthfully, she knew that it was here to stay and could only be something that Bellatrix has to deal with daily. A very horny, degenerate, perverted, voice in her mind. It never showed up when she was around men, it only happened with women. If this is what it’s like with just Ginny, she could only imagine what problems would arise once she goes back to Hogwarts.

 

‘Please hurry, Dumbledore.’  Hermione stared daggers at the pillows near the top of her bed, wondering if she should dare scream into the pillow. She did twice already, so maybe a third time couldn’t hurt. When she went to reach for the pillow, her eyes fell upon the ring again. It was still taunting her, begging for it to be taken off. She’s been twisting and playing with it so much that it's become a habit. Hermione looked at the door, still open. Getting off her feet, she closed the door and locked it. 

 

Using her whole hand, she swiftly removed the ring from off her finger. With the power of the ring drained from her body, she watched fascinated as the changes started to appear. The hair was the same as she last saw it, the pale patches on her skin have spread to her face. She looked below her shirt and saw a couple of spots have covered on her stomach, but nothing else seemed to change. 

 

‘Well, at least it hasn’t progressed much further.’  The voice in her mind sounded less pleased and more disappointed in her examination. Shaking her head, causing the wavy black locks to fly around, she picked up the ring and placed it back on her finger. She didn’t bother to look in the mirror. She returned to her bed and laid down. The pillow wasn’t giving her a lot of comfort for her head. Frustrated, she picked herself up and grabbed Ginny’s pillow and placed it on top of her own. The second time was more comfortable, and she could see out the window better. It appeared that it was going to rain if the dark clouds storming forward from the light was any indication. Moments later, the first drops of rain came from the sky. The calming tapping of the rain made her eyes feel heavy. Without much resistance, she felt herself being pulled asleep.

 

 

 

The place looked familiar to her. If the front yard and distinct floor mat was any indication, this was her home. Well, her muggle home. Uncomfortable, she tried to turn away from her house but found herself looking back at the front yard again. 

 

‘Bugger off Bellatrix, I’m not playing your game.’

 

Yes, you will muddy.” Bellatrix’s voice echoed around her. Hermione found herself walking forward and in front of the door. Despite the trembling hand showing that she had some semblance of control, it wasn’t enough for her to stop herself from opening the door. Immediately, she was met with something gripping onto her leg. When she looked down, she saw a mass of black hair obscuring her view of whoever was underneath.

 

“Mommy, you’re back!” A young female voice muffled out, still hugging her leg.

 

“Wh-what?” That’s when the girl looked at her. It almost looked like a replica of Bellatrix if she was about four or five years old. She wanted to stumble back, but she still stood stiff with the girl having a vice grip on her leg.

 

“Silly Mommy, you said you would come back from the hunt. And now you’re back!” 

 

“No, this isn’t real. You’re not real.” The girl’s face faltered, then it darkened. The girl pushed her back with an otherworldly amount of force. Hermione found herself flat on her back. The child started to laugh as if it was some childish prank before it sounded more maniacal. She couldn’t move her head and could only stare directly at the laughing girl. Before her eyes, she watched as the girl grew taller, her facial features become less childish, her body becoming shapely, and her laugh becoming deeper. Bellatrix stared down at the Gryffindor. Hermione kept her eyes on Bellatrix as she moved closer towards the still down witch. Bellatrix laid down beside Hermione and wrapped one hand around her body. Hermione felt the body heat emanating from Bellatrix surge into her body and her lips near her ear.

 

“I missed you so much, muddy,” Bellatrix whispered. She squeezed herself closer to Hermione. Her breasts' softness was crushing into the side of her body as she continued, “Did you miss me?” She asked.

 

“Never,” Hermione responded. She was expecting an angry response, but instead, she heard the dark witch laugh. Not one of insanity but one with amusement. 

 

“Oh, but I think you did. I think you missed me a lot.” Hermione couldn’t believe how delusional this woman is. She’s said ‘no’ countless times.

 

“Prove it.” Hermione challenged. Bellatrix again, lightheartedly laughed. 

 

“Just look down,” Bellatrix replied. Confused, Hermione looked down. Hermione felt herself grow red as she saw the two erect peaks on her chest, standing at full attention. 

 

‘No. That can’t be. I’m not enjoying any of this. This has to be some sort of trick.’

 

You might not like it, but I do.’ 

 

Hermione looked again at Bellatrix, who had a mischievous sparkle in her eye. She opened her mouth to reply, but nothing came out.

 

No, not again.’

 

Yes. '

 

“Your mind says no, but your body says yes. Or in this case, one mind says no, one mind says yes, and your body says yes. Looks like you’re outnumbered. But I wonder if it’s only your tits that are aroused. How about somewhere...lower.”

 

Bellatrix snaked her way down towards the lower part of Hermione’s body. With her long fingernails, she crawled her way up her leg, past her thigh, and took a turn towards the button of Hermione’s jeans. Bellatrix gave a disgusted look. 

 

“Such a nasty piece of mud blood clothing.” Bellatrix unbuttoned her jeans and pulled the zipper down. Using both hands, she slowly pulled the pants down. She felt an arousal building from within her.

 

No. I can’t like this. This disgusting woman is violating my body.’

 

You mean MY body.’

 

No, this body is mine. It will never be yours.’

 

Not for long.’

 

Bellatrix cooed as she threw the jeans off to the side. “It looks like I was correct.” Hermione could just see the darkened part of her panties. Bellatrix’s hand hovered just above her mound. She felt a tiny moan make her way out of her mouth. Bellatrix looked back at her with a grin.

 

“Such a dirty little mudblood. You want my fingers inside your cunt?” 

 

“...N-Yes.” 

 

‘NO!’  The other voice chuckled as Bellatrix's smile grew and clapped her hands together.

 

“I knew it. Don’t worry muddy, I’ll go easy for your first time.” With one hand, Bellatrix pulled the panties down to her ankles, and Bellatrix took a look at Hermione’s pussy. 

 

“You’ve got some bush muddy. Don’t worry, I don’t mind. I think two fingers to start will do.” Hermione couldn’t look away as she watched Bellatrix curl her hand except for her index and middle finger. Bellatrix looked at her finger, and onyx eyes widened before she waved her wand at the two uncurled fingers. The two fingers now had their fingernails trimmed. Satisfied, Bellatrix's fingers approached closer and closer to her opening. 

 

No, no, no, n  o, n   o,  yes, yes, yes, ye   s,  y   es, yes, yes, YeS, YES, YES!'

 

When the first contact was made, Hermione screamed in pleasure. Her head started to hurt, and she looked around. She was in bed. No Bellatrix, all her clothes were on, everything was what it’s supposed to be. The rain had cleared up, though nightfall had replaced the clouds. She could hear noises from downstairs and could only assume dinner was being made. 

 

“HERMIONE, DINNER TIME!” Molly boomed from down the stairs. Hermione scrambled to her feet and opened the door.

 

“I’ll be right down!” Hermione called back. She quickly looked in the mirror and made sure she didn’t look disheveled. She flattened some rebellious strands that were sticking beyond their usual boundaries. As she made her way down the stairs, she tried her best to ignore the dull throbbing in the lower part of her body.

Chapter Text

Severus had to pinch himself. Occasionally his mind wanders off and thinks about a time where he might’ve been a Defense Against the Dark Arts professor instead of a Potions master. Over time, he’s grown accustomed to the explosions and boils that often make themselves known in class. Still, his true passion has been locked away and only resurfaced when Dolores Umbridge had the nerve to bring up his failed attempts at becoming a professor for the class. He found comfort that she got captured by the beasts inside the Dark Forest like the toad she was (even Longbottom’s toad had more beauty than that witch). That made it all the more surprising when Dumbledore walked into his office and told him he was the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor this upcoming year. 

 

“Why me?” Snape choked out before he managed to stop himself. He shouldn’t be complaining about getting the job that he’s wanted since Severus started working at Hogwarts, but he couldn’t understand why the sudden change. How did Gilderoy Lockhart manage to get the job before himself? Albus never gave him a direct answer, just sharing some cryptic “not the time” response. Dumbledore looked at him with the same damn twinkle in his eyes before he replied,

 

“For a couple of reasons, two actually. One, I was hoping you could get a closer look at Miss Granger during this semester. If anything noticeable pops up, you need to make sure that none of the other students or staff knows what’s going on. I know you wanted this job for a while, Severus, but try to limit the duels while teaching, especially if it involves Miss Granger.” Snape took in all the information and nodded in confirmation. It helps him keep an eye on Granger and Draco better than the darkness of the dungeons. His mind was already racing at what subjects he could teach that only existed in his dreams or fleeting thoughts. Of course, the situation with Granger made the curriculum more challenging to develop than first imagined.

 

“And the second reason?” Snape asked. The twinkle in his eyes disappeared as he turned away from the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. Dumbledore was wearing a purple robe this time. It confused Snape when Dumbledore never really expressed himself with outward emotion; instead, he communicated with his robes. Colors, patterns, colors, and patterns. He remembered the robe Albus wore when he delivered Potter to the Dursleys. Green. Like Lily. 

 

‘No, not right now.’  The sudden appearance of bright red disappeared as he refocused on Dumbledore, who still had yet to respond.

 

“Horace Slughorn will be taking over your position as Potions professor.” Snape looked down as his mind raced back into his teenage body. The pats on the shoulder during potions, the constant praise that net him glares, and the insistence to join his Slug Club. Slughorn did a lot when it came to finding a passion for something other than the Dark Arts. He showed him a lot about the power that can hold itself within a vial. Enough to change your fate and the fate of those around you. When it came time to find a backup plan when his failed entry for the Defense Against the Dark Arts job, Potions became the obvious choice. The endorsement from Slughorn helped as well. Snape looked back up at the headmaster who was watching him intently.

 

“A good choice.” He replied stiffly. 

 

“A soft spot for Slughorn, I presume?” It scared Snape that Dumbledore could scan people, with or without Legilimency (or his well-practiced Occlumency). He could only imagine what the world would’ve been like if he'd worked with Grindelwald. 

 

“Well, I shall leave you to pack all your things and move up to the third floor, maybe get some sun.” Despite all the threats looming above their heads, he managed to find time to crack a joke. He didn’t know if he found it endearing or frustrating. Dumbledore looked behind Snape.

 

“Tell me when you’re finished with it.” With his long purple robe flowing, Dumbledore exited the potions classroom. Snape grabbed the edge of the table. The faint sound of the cauldron holding the potion he was brewing. Bubble intermittently arising and popping. Snape let out a sigh as he went back towards the cauldron.

 

He stared down at the grounded occamy eggshell before adding it to the liquid. As he stirred and raised the heat, the blackness started to turn to gold. Setting aside the remaining eggshells, he picked up the bottle containing powdered rue, carefully measuring the right amount before adding it to the now leaping golden liquid. Annoyed at the length of the whole process, he transferred the anger to stir until everything settled. Finally, he pointed his wand at the cauldron and moved his wand in a figure-8,

 

“Felixempra!” The gold now glistened hypnotically, demanding attention. When all the liquid was bottled, he stared at the four vials. He was impressed that Dumbledore managed to get him all the ingredients as fast as he did, though it took a lot out of him. If this were the last time he would be doing Potions in Hogwarts, he might do it to craft something of value. Four chances at luck, to turn the tide in the Light’s favor.

 

Dumbledore's Office

 

Dumbledore felt terrible, not telling Snape the real reason he brought Slughorn to Hogwarts. It didn't feel right to play with Snape's emotions when he saw the brief sign of someone that used to be as innocent as a first-year. Getting all of Snape's ingredients wasn't easy as a shudder ran through his body at how he had to collect that growth from the back of a Murtlap (he didn't mean to step on it, but it blended too well with the coastline). Still, he needed all the luck from those vials. Nothing was making sense or popping from the scrolls and ancient books that could decipher what Bellatrix Black did to Hermione. Irma tried her best to assist (while deciding not to disclose the situation) in narrowing the search. While it did help waste less time, it still gave no answers until Dumbledore ultimately forced himself and Severus to take a much-needed break. 

 

Fawkes called out to him, and he stared at the beautiful creature curiously before he remembered why. He opened his pocket watch and made his way towards his plethora of vials that Poppy has kindly given him. It helped to ease the pain that has gotten worse. It started around the end of '94. He'd like to think it was because of Voldemort's return or Father Time catching up to him.

 

'Somewhere in the middle.' He thought. His aged hands caressed the Time-Turner. He hoped he didn't have to resort to it, but at times where everything seems to be going the wrong direction, its usage has increasingly become a viable option. Watching the sands of time pooling at one end of the hourglass, the shape of which can never replicate, began to make him chuckle. Something as minuscule as watching sand trickle to the other pristine side of the hourglass brought a childlike amusement out of the headmaster. A vial of liquid luck and Time-Turner might be all he needs to get some hope in a cloak of darkness. He put the Time-Turner aside and exited his office. As he made his way down the moving staircases, he saw Minerva climbing up with determination and a spring in her step that he hasn't seen in years. 

 

"What seems to be the rush, Minerva?" Dumbledore inquired when she was withing talking distance. He took a closer look at the book she had clutched in her hand, but he couldn't read the title as her arm obscured the title. 

 

"My research if you must know. Since you've cooped yourself up in your office, I've decided to take some time to refine some of my curricula." She replied dryly. 

 

"Aren't I always in my office?" Dumbledore asked.

 

"Yes, but you at least had the decency to come to dinner and put a facade of transparency. You can't even do that." He had to admit that he most certainly skipped more dinners in a month than in an entire decade, but he couldn't help but be disappointed in her response. He wasn't the perfect headmaster, nor the most open one, but everything that he did was for everyone in the Wizarding community. If that meant he had to sacrifice some food (and some sanity), so be it. 

 

"Right, well, I do apologize for my recent absences. How about we go down now to dinner." Minerva looked at her book within her possession and looked back at Dumbledore, eyes now twinkling.

 

'Damn those eyes.' McGonagall couldn't help but curse.

 

"Fine." She huffed out. Dumbledore clapped his hands, now smiling.

 

"Excellent, all that text has made me hungry. I do hope for some shepherd's pie today, how about you?" Dumbledore asked as the two made their way down the steps. Minerva fought the urge to groan. It's bad enough that she caved in because of his sparkling, expressive eyes, but now the thought of food made her stomach grumble in neglect. Her mind started to wonder what would be on the menu for dinner, maybe some turkey with some mashed potatoes and green beans—a perfect, balanced meal. Dumbledore's sudden grip on her shoulder interrupted her wandering mind. It was surprisingly strong, and she was about to question why until her eyes went down towards her extended shoe, ready to plunge to her death.

 

"Thanks." Minerva thanked the headmaster.

 

"Of course. Trust me; I've had to slow down going up and down the stairs. I should've borrowed Flamel's Philosopher's Stone when I had the chance." Dumbledore ended quietly.

 

"But, you wouldn't be able to see Ariana again!" Minerva bit her tongue once the words left her mouth. Dumbledore stopped moving. They reached the bottom of the grand staircase, but the stairs still moved above them, casting a shadow on the two of them. Dumbledore saw the flash of light that went straight towards her, coming from Aberforth's wand, the blood that trickled from her body onto the grass; he cradled her body, screaming to, "Come back, I need you!" as his younger brother chased the now fleeing Grindelwald. Dumbledore touched his nose, the same one that his brother punched during the funeral. 

 

"Get the hell out of here, brother, before I do far worse to you." His brother said with every fiber of pain and hatred emanating from his soul.

 

"That killing curse came from your wand, remember?" He jabbed back angrily. Aberforth lunged towards his older brother but was held back by other mourning relatives whose heart broke at the deteriorating relationship. Dumbledore walked out of the funeral without a chance to say goodbye to Ariana. In a short span, he lost his sister, brother, and lover. 

 

"I'm sorry, Albus, that was careless of me to say." Minerva scrambled to apologize. Dumbledore looked down, expecting to see the fresh blood from his nose bleed only to find an age-ridden, wrinkled hand. 

 

"No, no, no. You're right. I want to see Ariana again. There's not a day goes by, a moon that falls, a sun that rises that I never miss her. She had a lot to give the world, even if she didn't think so. I hope she can forgive me for the things that I've done." He held his head down, refusing to show the stray tear the managed to escape. 

 

"Albus Percival Wulfric Brian Dumbledore, stop that right now!" Immediately, his head shot up as he looked at the now outraged Transfiguration professor. 

 

"You're the most giving, kind-hearted person I've known since I've stepped in this school. I won't watch you try to sully your name because of what's happened. I heard your ramblings over the years the mistakes that you've made, but even Merlin made mistakes, even if the books deny them. You've done a lot to enrich this world and ward off You-Know-Who and his Death Eaters. Every student in this school respects and looks up to you even if they don't show it. You mean a lot to everyone, Albus, don't think otherwise." Minerva turned away from the stunned headmaster as she continued without him. Dumbledore stroked his long grey beard, letting the thoughts ring within his mind. After a while, he chuckled.

 

'Leave it to Minerva to set my mind straight.'  He soon caught up to Minerva for a quiet dinner. None of them spoke.

 

Malfoy Manor

 

"I assume you know why I asked for you this evening," Voldemort said, not bothering to glance up at Bellatrix, sitting across from his desk, both looking relatively uninterested. 

 

"No...my lord." Bellatrix had to punch herself later. 

 

' You dumb bitch why did you hesitate? Do you want us in a bloody heap on the floor?'

 

'I would defeat him, with or without Horcruxes.' Bellatrix bit back.

 

Voldemort finished his writing and put his quill down. He pushed aside the paper and stood up from his seat. 

 

"As you recall from our last meeting, I sent Rodolphus to inquire about buying a large shipment of ingredients for potions. We only have one reliable healer, and the training from our recent initiates has been slow."

 

"Rodolphus? I would expect you'd at least send Lucius. At least he doesn't look a fucking troll." Bellatrix blurted out before she could stop herself.

 

'You fucking moron.'

 

She couldn't respond as she collapsed out of her chair as Bellatrix writhed in pain—the months of biting back what she wanted to say boiled over. Narcissa was already reprimanding her for the thousandth time on her impulsiveness, and she was right. 

 

'Just this one time, one slip-up, and that's it.' 

 

'I can think of one person we can slip into.'

 

Voldemort released the Crucitaus curse, and Bellatrix laid on the floor. She found it difficult to breathe.

 

"You have five seconds to get up, or I'm going to do it again....1," Voldemort started. Bellatrix lifted her head, but everything felt like a bunch of knives piercing every part of her skin. She tried to ignore the blood that was sticking into her hair.

 

"2..." Voldemort continued. Bellatrix made herself sit her upper body up.

 

'The one time you don't want to have big tits.'  

 

"3..." Voldemort tightened his grip on the wand. Bellatrix grabbed onto the side of the desk and shot herself onto her feet. An overwhelming shot of pain captured her stomach, and she stumbled back into her seat. Fortunately, the chair's weight was heavy enough that she didn't send herself back onto the floor. Voldemort smirked, showing off his disgusting pointed teeth to her. He loosened his grip on the wand and holstered it. 

 

"I shouldn't have expected less from my most loyal servant. Not even getting up at the last possible second." Voldemort said, encircling Bellatrix, who struggled to normalize her breathing.

 

'Cissy is going to kill me.'

 

'If you can even make it.'

 

"Yes, Rodolphus is relatively slow, but Lucius' charm has become...nonexistent. I shouldn't have doubted your assessment on Lucius. Your sister's words confirmed my thoughts on him."

 

"What..." Bellatrix started but gritted her teeth, trying not to cry out in pain.

 

"What, did she say?" Bellatrix finally asked though it was becoming difficult to see. Voldemort leaned in, face inches away from her own. She looked at his red eyes and didn't realize what he was doing before it was too late. Voldemort's eyes widened at what he saw before his lips curled into a smile.

 

"Looks like you're more than just sisters. But who am I to deny a little pleasure to my prized Death Eater, even if you're a filthy dyke along with your sister." Voldemort turned away from Bellatrix, grabbing the chair's sides, her long nails fusing themselves with the wood's intricate patterns.

 

"You're sister came in wanting a divorce from Lucius. I could understand wanting someone better than that useless Malfoy. Now it makes more sense. Tell me, Bellatrix, is that all you have to hide. A filthy incestuous relationship with your sister? Are you scared of being hunted down for being an incestuous dyke?" 

 

'Fuck you. I'll stick my fingers in whoever I want.'

 

"Never." Bellatrix slurred out. Bellatrix could make out Voldemort's hand make its way towards his wand but stopped and returned to its original position.

 

"Well, I wouldn't allow such a valuable asset to the cause be killed by my men. I think that you're smart enough not to get yourself caught. Anyways, I'm glad we had an informative chat for both sides. Leave me now." Bellatrix took a deep breath and slowly brought herself to her feet. She kept one hand on the side of the chair and the other wrapped around her stomach. Her head had started to become uncomfortable with the blood beginning to dry and mixing with freshly spilled blood. She made her way to the door that she closed behind her, blood-smeared from her hands onto the door. Voldemort never took his eyes off her until she closed the door.

 

'What else are you hiding, Bellatrix Black?'

 

Narcissa's Room

 

There were advantages to finally having a room to herself. Narcissa can ultimately have the time to re-connect with her son. It's been entirely random when he's made himself present, but the darkness exuding from his body told Narcissa all she needed. Considering the circumstances stemmed from their last conversation, she thought that it was best to leave him be, but that's only made things worse. Whatever Snape is doing (or not doing) isn't helping her son, and if he didn't do his job as he's promised, they would have another dead body in Malfoy Manor. 

 

As though Merlin himself was reading her mind, the unexpected, intense sound of something or someone colliding with her closed-door was enough to stop her from moving all the clothes to the closet. She paused for a moment. What if it was Draco? Merlin shield her if it's Lucius because that's the last person she wants to see (except the Dark Lord). Wand at the ready, she used her right hand to open the door and immediately dropped her wand to catch the descending body coming towards her. Trying to get the mouthful of hair out of her mouth, Narcissa gasped at the large wound on her head. Instinctively, she moved towards the large bed and tried her best to lay Bellatrix onto the bed as gently as possible. Narcissa noticed Bellatrix's hand gripping her stomach and groaning. She wanted to know what happened, but she needed her sister to be okay. Narcissa quickly retrieved her wand and parted Bellatrix's hair until she got a good look at the wound.

 

'More like a gash.'

 

Taking a deep breath pointed her wand towards the gash.

 

"Vulnera Sanentur"  Slowly, she saw the gash start to close, along with the blood slowing until the wound was gone and only the blood remained telling its existence. Not wasting any time, she squeezed Bellatrix's hand, and the eldest Black loosened her grip. As best as she could, she removed Bellatrix's corset, and Bellatrix cursed out in pain as she had to move her.

 

"Sorry," Narcissa whispered.

 

Bellatrix mumbled something in reply, but Narcissa didn't hear it. She tossed the corset aside, usually when she would admire her sister's body, but all she could do is stare at the bruises lining both sides of her ribs. Quickly murmuring a spell, she examined the extent of the injuries.

 

'Another day, another set of broken bones.'

 

Once again, she pointed her hand at Bellatrix and her broken ribs.

 

"Brackium Emendo,"  A flash of blue light surrounded the lower half of Bellatrix's body. Finally, she heard Bellatrix exhale, but still, another grunt of pain shortly followed.

 

"Bellatrix, where else are you hurt?" Narcissa asked.

 

"You can't do anything for it...Cruciatus curse." Mumbled Bellatrix.

 

"WHAT?!" Narcissa shrieked out, going immediately to a separate suitcase near the corner of the room. Clicking it open, the top part of the case expanded to about a meter long. Hands hovering over, reading the tiny inscriptions, she finally found the potion—a bit of her creation throughout her free time. Narcissa wouldn't call herself a potions master (compared to Severus), but when it came to making the same healing potions over and over, she's picked up some skills creating them. It was a complete accident for how she conceived it. When Narcissa finished storing all the vials of healing potions, she still saw the leftover ingredients for the Draught of Peace she was creating. It was common for Death Eaters to demand a vial, especially before meeting with the Dark Lord. With a new cauldron and roaring fire, she started experimenting. That day when she figured out the stirring pattern and replaced wormwood with a sprinkle of powdered unicorn horn, it was a sight to behold, turning from a ghastly green to a vibrant purple. She hasn't come up with a name for it yet, but once she does, maybe she'll be able to leave Malfoy Manor for good.

 

'Not without Bella and Draco.'  

 

"Can you sit your head up for me, Bella?" Narcissa winced when she saw Bellatrix's face scrunch up in pain and slowly sat her head up. Uncorking the vial, she saw the purple sparkle before falling into Bellatrix's mouth. Immediately, Bellatrix shot out of bed and started pacing around with the energy of a Firebolt (to the surprise of many who would know, she happened to be a big fan of Quidditch).

 

"What the..." Bellatrix started contorting her shoulders, moving her arms and legs, and didn't feel any pain; not even any soreness from the cacophony of potions and spells generally used with the Cruciatus curse. She turned to face Narcissa, who was glaring at her.

 

"What?" Narcissa's nostrils flared.

 

"What? Just what? I'll tell you what. WHAT IN THE BLOODY HELL ARE YOU DOING?!" Narcissa roared. Bellatrix's eardrums held at the seams, trying not to fall apart.

 

"Cissy, please." Narcissa cut her off.

 

"Oh, don't you, 'Cissy' me Bellatrix. Why did I find you leaning against my door in a bloody and broken heap?" Narcissa demanded. When Bellatrix started to explain, she couldn't help but be amused at Narcissa's face turning various colors. Narcissa always denied it, but it made itself known as her face turned red for the third time.

 

"And the gash and the broken rib? The Cruciatus doesn't create wounds."

 

"I took an unfortunate fall. Hit my head at the wrong angle, along with my side. Trust me; it won't happen again." Bellatrix promised.

 

"You're damn right it won't happen again. Bellatrix, this has got to stop." The silence made itself comfortable in the room.

 

"What?"

 

"This...impulsiveness. Look at what happened. If I didn't have my wand with me, you could've died!"

 

"Who would not have their wand with them?"

 

"Bella, this is serious! You've got to stop trying to be a bloody hero and know when just to bite your tounge."

 

"A Black never bows down to anybody! I made that mistake years ago, Narcissa, and I'm sick of it!"

 

"Bella..." Narcissa started, but Bellatrix looked at her with anger and determination.

 

"No, not anymore. Narcissa, the Dark Lord, knows about us." Narcissa's already pale face lost any semblance of color.

 

"You mean everything?" Narcissa whispered.

 

"Everything." Bellatrix nodded solemnly.

 

'It's all your fault.'

 

Bellatrix looked at Narcissa, who put her face in her hands and heard her start to cry. Bellatrix got down on her knees and softly took Narcissa's wrists. 

 

"Cissy, look at me." She slowly removed the hands obscuring Narcissa's beautiful face.

 

'Such beauty.'

 

One of the few times she could agree with the voice. Narcissa was always beautiful. Even angry or, in this case, sad, that beauty was still there for everyone to ogle at or admire at a distance.

 

'She's mine, only mine. Along with our mudpup.'

 

"I will not let anything happen to you. If anyone lays a finger on you, they're dead. With that promise, I will promise you to be more careful. We're inching closer to our dreams; it's there for the taking. Just a little while longer, and everything will be alright."

 

Narcissa smiled, and Bellatrix returned in kind. Narcissa took Bellatrix's hands, and both of them laid their foreheads against one another. The two of them stayed there and sat in silence until she heard Bellatrix softly sing,

 

Hold on just a little while longer

Hold on just a little while longer

Hold on just a little while longer

Everything will be alright

Everything will be alright

 

She remembered this song. Bellatrix sang it only once before she went to Azkaban. It was the first time she heard Bella sing. Her singing touched her soul for a voice that held so much malice, a voice directly from the heavens.

 

Fight on just a little while longer

Fight on just a little while longer

Fight on just a little while longer

Everything will be alright

Everything will be alright

 

This time, she wasn't going to make the same mistake twice. No matter how much Bellatrix thinks that everything is on her shoulders, she's wrong. Bella will not fight alone anymore, no matter how much she wants to keep her safe. Tears starting to fall, she joined her sister,

 

"I-" Bellatrix stopped singing, and Narcissa stopped shortly after. Bellatrix looked at her sister, surprised. Narcissa closed the distance between them and gave her older sister a gentle, warm kiss.

 

"Together?" Bellatrix asked. Narcissa nodded.

 

"Together." Taking a deep breath, they finished the song,

 

We will sing on just a little while longer

Sing on just a little while longer

Sing on just a little while longer

Everything will be alright

Everything will be alright

Chapter Text

The list came along with the rest of the students in the Burrow. Fred and George didn't receive one because they dropped out to pursue their business venture (Hermione could've sworn she heard Mrs. Weasley mumble something about "throwing their lives away"). The group (besides Ginny) only received two letters in their envelope from what she could tell. First was the standard message listing the books all sixth-year students needed to purchase.

 

Ms. Granger,

 

The following list contains the books needed to be purchase for your sixth-year. A majority of the books require you to be taking N.E.W.T. level classes.

 

  • The Standard Book of Spells, Grade 6 by Miranda Goshawk
  • Advanced Potion-Making by Libatius Borage (required if taking N.E.W.T. level Potions)
  • Confronting the Faceless by Hannelore Moriyama (required if taking N.E.W.T. level Defense Against the Dark Arts)
  • A Guide to Advanced Transfiguration by Emeric Switch (required if taking N.E.W.T. level Transfiguration) 
  • Advanced Rune Translation by Yuri Blishen (required if taking N.E.W.T. level Study of Ancient Runes)
  • Flesh-Eating Trees of the World by Kamilla Robustelli (required if taking N.E.W.T. level Herbology)

 

We look forward to your arrival on 1 September 1996. 

 

Yours sincerely,

 

Minerva McGonagall

Deputy Headmistress

 

After reading over the note again, creating a list of it in her mind for later shopping, she set it aside and looked at the second letter which held a lot more weight than any books that she needed to carry (even with a featherweight charm). 

 

'My O.W.L results.'  Hermione thought as she looked at the owl logo. Not wasting time, she ripped apart the seal and scanned her results.

 

Ordinary Wizarding Level Results

Pass Grades:

Outstanding (O)

Exceeds Expectations (E)

Acceptable (A)

Fail Grades:

Poor (P)

Dreadful (D)

Troll (T)

 

Hermione Jean Granger has achieved:

Ancient Runes: O

Arthimancy: O

Astronomy: O

Care of Magical Creatures: O

Charms: O

Defense Against the Dark Arts: E

Herbology: O

History of Magic: O

Potions: O

Transfiguration: O

 

Different emotions circled around the table. Harry continued to look at his results in disbelief as his eyes traveled back to the top of the paper. Ron let out a sigh of relief as his posture relaxed. Eventually, their eyes both went to Hermione, who was gripping onto her paper tightly, hands shaking.

 

'How did I get an E in Defense Against the Dark Arts?  I was perfect and they took it away.  I'll show them,'  Hermione thought angrily. Managing to tear her eyes off her results, she noticed Harry, Ron, and Ginny looking at her concerned. 

 

"Bloody hell Hermione are you okay over there? I don't think you did that bad." Ron managed to wrestle the paper from out of her hands and looked at her test results. Ron's eyes bulged, and looked at Hermione, who was still simmering in her chair. 

 

"Come on, Hermione, your test scores are basically perfect! I would kill to have those kinds of results. I only got seven OWLs." Ron said as he looked back at his own test results before swapping with Harry. As he scanned Harry's scores, he grinned,

 

"Knew you'd be top at Defense Against the Dark Arts," said Ron, punching Harry in the shoulder. Harry continued looking while he used his free hand to rub his now hurting shoulder. Ron's grinned faltered as he looked at Hermione, who was glaring at him.

 

'Please, I could beat Harry with one hand tied behind my back.' 

 

"Hermione, wanna look at Ron's results?" Harry asked. 

 

"Eh, why not." Hermione agreed. Ron's face turned red as Hermione took the paper. Instantly, she had to hold back her laughter as she looked at Ron's results.

 

"No 'Outstandings.' What a surprise," Hermione said dryly. 

 

"Hey!" Ron exclaimed, face turning redder. Before she knew it, she found her own face turning red when Ginny put her head on her shoulder and looked at the results in her hands. She could smell the shampoo from her hair, but before she could figure out what scent, Ginny threw her head back, and a high pitched laugh echoed throughout the Burrow.

 

"Oh, Ron. If you spent as much time eating as you did studying, you would have gotten all 'Outstandings.' Not even broody over here could beat you." Ginny gestured towards Hermione, who snorted at that. 

 

'You'd be angry too if you had some arsehole take away the perfection that you deserved.'  Ginny's fingers snapping in front of her face disconnected herself from her thoughts. Rolling her eyes at her, Ginny proceeded to look at Ron's results again. The paper in Ginny's hand reminded her that she remembered the extra paper in her envelope. It had a weight to it that the others didn't. Closing the letter was a generic red wax that bore no symbol other than the perfectly sculpted circle. Breaking it open, the controlled, stylistic cursive stood out to her, different from Professor McGonagall's hurried writing and the wavering, degrading signature of Dumbledore, it looked familiar. Hermione checked the bottom of the surprisingly short message to see who it was from, but no name was left, not even a letter. She then proceeded to read,

 

Ms. Granger,

 

Considering the circumstances between yourself and Ms. Black, we must keep track of your progress. We ask that you arrive at Hogwarts today at approximately 4:30 for the examination. This will be a regular occurrence once you arrive in September. Don't be late, or we'll have to do things the hard way.

 

It wasn't until she finished reading the letter if it could even be called that the name slowly formed at the bottom,

 

Severus Snape

Defense Against the Dark Arts Professor

 

She rubbed her eyes, thinking about what she saw was because of her constant and inconsistent periods of sleep. However, the title remained. 

 

"Dammit," Hermione whispered under her breath. It was bad enough that she had to leave the comfort of the Burrow to go to Hogwarts to remind her of her current situation, but knowing that Snape is the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor was...

 

Now that she thought about it, the idea didn't sound so bad. From the few glimpses of Snape's style and surprising diversity of spells, it could be an opportunity to take her skill set to the next level. Her previous professors have been less than satisfactory: Quirrell was a stuttering mess; she couldn't even remember anything valuable she learned other than Quirrell having Voldemort behind his turban. Lockhart was a nutter and rightfully put in his place in St. Mungos,

 

'Why did I have a crush on him again?'  She shuddered at the thought.

 

She thought Lupin was alright, but he didn't take the subject as seriously as she had liked. 

 

'Maybe should've used the puppy as a practice dummy.'

 

Hermione stiffened. It was louder now. Every time it's made itself known, it came at the worst possible times. Most of the time, it's some raunchy remark towards Ginny or a barrage of insults at Ron. If this is what Black has to deal with daily, she could understand why she's mental. About as crazy as a Barty Crouch Jr. posing as Mad-Eye Moody during her fourth year. Sadly, she learned more from him than the previous professors combined. Looking back, her mind wandered to when she made a scene about the Cruciatus curse. All the stares when she begged 'Mad-Eye' to "Stop it!" because she saw the increasingly uncomfortable Neville. It was embarrassing. Almost as embarrassing as being Krum's poster girl for the Yule Ball. He could say all he wanted was a "real woman," but she knew what that meant. If she was as dumb as he hoped she was, she would have her panties down inside the broom closet with cold hands forcing themselves on her. 

 

'You could've had that veela, Fleur. Veela know how to treat a woman.' 

 

"Fleur..." She whispered. Her eyes went hazy as she remembered seeing Fleur Delacour for the first time. Pristine silver-blonde hair held back by a ponytail, those calm blue eyes, confident and filled with knowledge, flawless facial features topped off with that bloody French accent. The athletic build that molded to whatever she was wearing. 

 

"Fleur..." She whispered again, piningly.

 

"PHLEGM?!" Ginny startled her. She didn't realize she was whispering Fleur's name. Before Hermione could try to explain, Ginny was pulling her upstairs, Harry and Ron looking as surprised as Hermione. She tried to mumble some excuse, but Ginny's grip remained on her wrist. Before she knew it, they were back in their room. 

 

"Okay, Hermione. I know you're girl-crazy, but pining for phlegm of all people? You have it bad." Hermione bit back a retort as she tried to find an excuse.

 

"Yeah. I guess since my love life is non-existent, I've become somewhat desperate." 

 

'Better than nothing, I suppose.'   Ginny let the words resonate in her mind before an idea popped into her head.

 

"Alright, how about this. Let's discuss the single girls at Hogwarts and see if we can't find someone who'll match your personality." Ginny suggested. Hermione stared at the clock that was adjacent to the mirror.

 

'I've got plenty of time.'  Besides, she needed to find some level of normalcy before she returned to Hogwarts.

 

"First Gryffindor. Let's see, only Parvati and Lavender are available."

 

'Great, dumb, and dumber.'  Hermione thought as she tried her hardest not to roll her eyes.

 

"Well, they ain't the sharpest Nimbus' in the broom closet," Hermione replied.

 

"Yeah. How do you manage to deal with them?" Ginny questioned. Hermione snorted.

 

"Trust me, I'd like to know myself," Hermione replied stiffly. 

 

"Well, are there at least any positives towards them?" Ginny asked.

 

'Lavender has a great set of tits on her.'  Hermione froze. Stumbling, she managed to get out,

 

"Well, if I only cared about looks, Lavender has large...boobs." Ginny looked at her as if she grew two heads before she burst out laughing.

 

"Merlin, Hermione! I shouldn't be laughing at that, but I can't deny that it isn't true. I keep trying to tell her, but she continues to twirl her hair as if she's some kind of interesting person. Hopefully, she'll get some reality check and start applying herself in academics more."

 

"That'll happen when Ron gets an Outstanding in the OWLs." 

 

"True. So how about Parvati?" Trying to rebound from her initial disgusting reply, she took her time before she responded,

 

"Well, she certainly has more brains than Lavender, but that isn't saying much. She shows her Gryffindor bravery more, especially when she has to deal with the racial remarks about her." 

 

"Fucking Slytherins, I don't understand why we still have them at Hogwarts," Ginny replied bitterly. Unfortunately for Ginny, it's not just Slytherins. It was the entire Wizard culture. Society was progressing in the muggle world while the Ministry of Magic has been twiddling their greedy thumbs, doing nothing. 

 

"Anyways, what about Hufflepuff?" It took longer for Ginny to come up with names, and only one came up,

 

"Susan Bones?" It wasn't that Susan wasn't a bad person; Hermione was surprised that only one was still single.

 

"Yeah. Hannah got with some Slytherin boy." Now that was surprising. Hufflepuff and Slytherin were about as different as Yin and Yang.

 

"Well, Susan is definitely a kind soul. She's a lot more protective of her body than Lavender, which is justified. Smarter than Lavender and Parvati, so yeah, not a bad choice. Bonus for being a redhead." Hermione put a hand over her mouth, but it was too late. Ginny's face flushed the infamous Weasley red. 

 

"I-I'm just saying if you weren't with Luna, I would definitely date you." Hermione attempted to rebound. Ginny gave her a kind smile and the Weasley red slowly faded.

 

"Thanks, Hermione. I knew there was more to that kiss than I thought. Are you sure you aren't a Slytherin?" Ginny asked. 

 

"Yeah, I'm sure. Sorry about that, it just slipped out." Hermione apologized. It felt so wrong, openly admitting she was attracted to Ginny, who was already taken after admonishing Harry for the same thing. 

 

'Merlin, I'm such a hypocrite.' 

 

"Don't be. I'm flattered; I would like that too. Despite what Ron might think, you're pretty cool." Ginny admitted. 

 

"Thanks, Gin." Ginny clapped her hands together.

 

"Alright, back to the list. Ravenclaw. Might have better luck there. Get someone with intelligence." Ginny rubbed her temples, trying to think. Soon, Hermione saw the frustration mount on her friend before she got out of her bed and grabbed a piece of parchment. Taking her quill, Ginny titled it,  Potential Women for Hermione.  She jotted down all the women around her age range, grouping them by house that she thought of so far, which was limited. She crossed out everyone, except for Susan Bones, which she circled. Ginny added a third section for Ravenclaw and jotted down the names:  Padma Patil, Su Li, Cho Chang

 

"Wait, is Susan even into girls?" Hermione realized as that problem crossed her mind.

 

"Considering how kind she is, I'll bet she'll be open to it," Ginny said, not looking up and setting the quill aside. Hermione looked over the names. Padma Patil was smart; there was no denying that. 

 

'It's why she's in Ravenclaw genius.'  She was shy, just usually kept herself to her close circle of friends. Seeing her look absolutely miserable with her "date" Ron during the Yule Ball, it was indeed a sad sight to see, especially when she wore a beautiful dress that should've turned more eyes. 

 

Su Li. She was among the top five in her year, along with herself, Padma, Susan, and Daphne Greengrass (it was only the fourth time in Hogwarts history that the top five of any year was all-female, according to Hogwarts, A History). If Padma was shy than Su Li was the picture that came with the definition of shy. She tried to remember any sort of memory of Su Li in class. She couldn't remember when she ever spoke in class or made herself known in any way. Hermione didn't have anything to go off of, so she couldn't eliminate or nominate her.

 

"Finished thinking?" Ginny interrupted.

 

"Just one more," Hermione replied. Cho Chang. Great. The one that ratted Dumbledore's Army out. Harry's "girlfriend" for all the twenty-minutes before she ran away crying. Still couldn't get over Cedric's death. She needed to move on.

 

"Alright, Padma is shy, but she's smart, Su is a question mark because I know nothing about her, Cho is an absolute no." Hermione got out, and Ginny changed the list accordingly. Ginny picked the parchment up a looked at it, satisfied. 

 

"Well, that's a good place to start." Ginny started to get up from her seat before Hermione said,

 

"Wait, what about Slytherin?" Hermione questioned. Ginny froze. Ginny looked at Hermione incredulously,

 

"What about Slytherin? Don't tell me you would consider dating a Slytherin girl? They're about as conservative as they come." Ginny said disgustedly. 

 

"Not all Slytherins are evil. It's usually Malfoy, his crew, and Parkinson being arseholes." Ginny opened her mouth but shut it, jaw clenched.

 

"Fine, but you're coming up with the names since I don't know most of the girls in Slytherin."

 

"Alright, so Parkinson is with Malfoy, so that's a no." Hermione started the section with her own cursive surround by Ginny's rushed and messy cursive.

 

"I don't know why people say she's got a pug-face, her face is quite pretty, it's just she's a bitch." Ginny said, sitting on her bed.

 

"Maybe it's some sort of racist jibe. Parkinson is half Japanese on her mother's side." Hermione suggested as she crossed her name off.

 

"How do you know that?" Ginny questioned.

 

"When you have to hear Parkinson for hours at a time during Potions, you manage to learn a lot about a person," Hermione replied. 

 

'Yeah, it was so fascinating to hear about wearing some beautiful Kimono as a birthday gift to wear at some stupid party.'

 

"Jeez, if I had to listen to Parkinson for that long, I would've just failed my year to get away," Hermione grunted in agreement as she wrote down the next name on the list. Millicent Bulstrode.

 

"Ugh, the love child of Umbridge and Snape. No chance in hell." Ginny's face scrunched in pain as that vision crossed her mind and immediately knew who Hermione was talking about.

 

"Yeah, I know looks aren't anything, but geez, she doesn't even try." Hermione had to agree on that. Bulstrode was a disgusting person, inside and out. She had the arrogance of the Slytherin but had nothing to show for it. Ron mentioned Bulstrode being the female version of Goyle, which was another horrifying thing to think about. Trying to get Bulstrode's disgusting face out of her mind, she then thought about a much more pleasant student. Tracey Davis.

 

"Tracey Davis," Hermione read aloud. 

 

'God damn, she has a beautiful arse.'  The view of Tracey Davis' skirt flaring up to see her firm yet plump arse flashed in her mind, and she bit her lip to suppress a moan. 

 

"Yeah, she's a beauty that Davis, not as beautiful as Luna though," Ginny said. Rubbing her forehead, Hermione pulled herself together. Tracey Davis was a typical Slytherin. Pureblood, arrogant, cunning, and most definitely straight.

 

'Dammit if I can't say she isn't beautiful.'  Blonde hair, brown eyes, freckles spotting her cheeks. It wasn't a surprise that the boys in Slytherin were all over her. Reluctantly, she crossed off her name. Finally, she wrote down the last name on her mind, the one she was saving.

 

Daphne Greengrass.

 

"...The last name." Hermione managed to get out.

 

"Who is it?" Ginny sat up on her bed in anticipation.

 

"Daphne Greengrass," The supposed ice queen of Hogwarts. All the boys who have tried to court her have failed spectacularly. Most have assumed she's a veela because of her otherworldly beauty. Straight black hair, piercing green eyes that froze boys in their place, lips that failed to show a smile or any amount of joy, and topped with a quickly developing body that's caused Madame Pomfrey to be consistently overloaded. While her beauty certainly caught Hermione's attention, what caught it more was her intelligence. While Harry and Ron always thought the extra time in the library was to do research, it was to one-up Greengrass in class. The two of them consistently switch back and forth between who was number one. It frustrated her to no end that Greengrass managed to do it so effortlessly; she rarely saw her at the library, so she must have some sort of eidetic memory.

 

Ginny looked and saw Hermione's eyes in a trance.

 

"Oh, no. Don't even think about it. Seriously? Greengrass? Look, she's bloody beautiful and scarily smart, but that's never going to happen." Ginny groaned as Hermione broke out of her trance and circled Daphne Greengrass' name. Hermione scanned the circled names:  Parvati Patil, Susan Bones, Padma Patil, Su Li, Daphne Greengrass. 

 

'Not a bad list, all things considering.'   She looked at the time again —3:00 PM—still enough time to help with the chores and not look utterly crazy like she was earlier. Hermione neatly folded the list and put it in her bag. 

 

"Come on, Gin, we probably got some chores to do," Hermione said, swatting her shoulder to get Ginny's attention. Ginny groaned and slowly got onto her feet and muttered some curses. Sure enough, when Hermione and Ginny got downstairs, they saw Harry and Ron de-Gnoming the garden. 

 

"Bloody hell, where did you two go? We've been doing this for the past twenty minutes!" Ron finished with a grunt with the gnome in his hands thrown away from the garden. 

 

"None of your business Ronald, let's get this over with." Hermione snapped, grabbing a pair of de-Gnoming gloves. Harry looked ready to say something, but a gnome went past, and he found himself chasing the creature. The four of them proceeded to clear out the remaining gnomes. Hearing the gnomes make disgusting noises didn't help with her frustration and building anger. Stomping towards the gnome, she grabbed it by its legs and dangled it upside-down. Sneering at it, she chucked the gnome meters away from its original location. 

 

"Geez Hermione, I didn't know you threw that far," Ron said. Hermione just smirked at the direction she threw the creature, anger slowly fading, satisfied.

 

'Disgusting creature.'  Hermione thought darkly.

 

'They should all be killed.'  It's not like they brought any benefits to the world; why should they exist? She was interrupted when Ginny grabbed her arm and inspected it.

 

"Hey!" Hermione interjected, surprised at the sudden contact. Ginny couldn't make sense of it. Hermione didn't have much muscle definition yet compared to Ron, her gnome went flying. Did she calculate a launch angle to send it further? 

 

Hermione wrestled out of Ginny's grip and took off her gloves. She wiped away the sweat off her forehead. Hermione needed to take a shower before going to Hogwarts. However, the boys were one step ahead of her, and by the time she caught up, she was locked out of the bathroom, faint sounds of the shower running.

 

"Yeah, Ron really needed that shower," Harry said, the loser of the race towards the shower.

 

"We all needed the shower. I guess we have to form a line and stink up the Burrow." Hermione said. The two of them stood in awkward silence before Harry spoke up,

 

"Hermione, you doing alright?" Hermione sighed. She was used to that question at Hogwarts; she didn't want to deal with it now. Considering the circumstances, she decided it was best to respond,

 

"I'd be lying if I said I was okay. I appreciate the concern, but, like I said before, I need time to myself." Hermione responded, hoping that was enough for Harry to let it go, but Harry continued.

 

"Why is it that Ron or I can't be around you, but Ginny can do it all the time?" Harry asked, now growing angry. Hermione now found her anger boiling back. Hermione snapped her head towards Harry, eyebrows furrowing. 

 

"Do you know what it's like having you two pestering me for six years? Just because you saved me from that troll in the first year, does that automatically make me your slave? Don't forget why I was there because you two were laughing, insulting me when you thought I wasn't there. I'm not your owl to summon when it's needed; I can be my own person. Just because you got 'Outstanding' in Defense Against the Dark Arts, you think you're better than me? Well, you're not, I'm more powerful than you'll ever be." 

 

"Hermione, what are you talking about?" Harry didn't know what just happened. Somewhere, her speech went from answering the question to asserting that she was better than him. Hermione's face softened when he asked. Hermione shook her head, and before he could say anything more, she ran off. He didn't recognize her. It reminded him of his random bursts of rage in his fifth year, except Hermione didn't have a piece of Voldemort within her. What he couldn't understand was the voice at the end of her rant. Was she trying to scare him? He stood there, looking at the direction she ran off until he heard the door open. 

 

"All yours, Har-," Ron started but noticed that Harry wasn't paying attention to him. Ron poked him on the shoulder, and Harry snapped out of his trance. 

 

"What're you looking at?" Ron asked, confused and a little worried. Harry looked at Ron directly; he saw the worry in his eyes, and his stomach dropped.

 

"We need to see Dumbledore now," Harry said. Without any response from Ron, he made his way towards his room. He grabbed a piece of parchment, his quill, and started to scribble a message to Dumbledore,

 

Professor Dumbledore,

 

Something is wrong with Hermione. The outbursts are similar to those I had last year; I'm worried that something has happened to Hermione. Please contact me as soon as possible.

 

Harry Potter

 

Not caring how short it was, he rolled it up and tied it.

 

"Hedwig," Harry whispered desperately. The snow owl opened its eyes and hooted in frustration.

 

"Yes, I know I woke you from your sleep, but this is important. This needs to get to Dumbledore as fast as you can. You'll have a big treat waiting for you back home." At the mention of the treat, Hedwig thrust her leg forward so Harry could tie it. Once it was secure, Hedwig nipped on his fingers a couple times, almost like a warning, "You better not be lying about my treats," and flew to the north. Harry's eyes continued to linger on Hedwig before he could no longer see her. 

 

Across the hall, Hermione sat in her bed, rocking back and forth.

 

'I'm not crazy. I'm Hermione Granger. I will be okay.'