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Mother Nature

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Hermione didn't notice anything was astray at the beginning. Her time had been focused on other things after the war. In truth, Hermione was busy trying to help the Order sort out a new and safer world. So she never noticed the marks darkening on the arm; the place Bellatrix Lestrange had carved into her skin. Hermione had taken to covering them ever since the day the injury was inflicted, putting various spells on it, so the word wasn't noticeable to the eye. She wasn't ashamed but it served as a reminder to the world of how things used to be, the words that used to be considered the norm wasn't something she wanted to acknowledge. Especially since pureblood's like the Malfoy family were trying to change, to fix the things they had done. So yes, Hermione Granger never noticed for a whole year that the words carved into her skin were getting darker and deeper. Charms can't last forever, though. It was almost a year to the day Voldemort had been killed when the charms vanished, revealing the marks.

At first, Hermione put it down to going so long without seeing the marks; she hadn't removed the magic covering her skin for a whole year. She tried to convince herself that she hadn't remembered how bad it they looked. It was getting deeper by the day though so she knew things weren't right. So in true Hermione fashion, she took to researching, pouring over vast amounts of books to find the answer, but they showed nothing.

All of that, the worsening of her 'mudblood' wound and the fact she'd failed for the first time in her researching was the reason she ended up sitting in a Medi-witch's office. Her legs had shaken the whole way to St. Mungo's, it had taken her a whole week to work up the courage to come. Hermione had found someone that specialised in inflictions caused by dark magic. The specialist was her best bet to finding out what was going on. She wasn't stupid; Hermione knew something was wrong, and whatever the medi-witch knew about the marks, it wasn't going to be good.

Hermione could tell by the witch's face when she first laid eyes upon the markings, even the hesitant way she touched it through her glove. The Medi-witch took a tube of blood, giving Hermione a sympathetic look before she rushed off to test the sample.

It had felt like hours before the witch returned, but in reality it hadn't been more than fifteen minutes. The witch's grave expression told Hermione everything. It wasn't going to be good news. The Medi-witch took a seat on in her chair, gesturing for Hermione to take the opposite seat.

"I tested the blood," the Medi-witch explained, shuffling slightly on the seat. She was young, newly qualified by Hermione's guess and a bit star struck from having one-third of the golden trio or 'heroes of the war' in her office. "I'm afraid Miss Granger the news isn't good. It's hard to tell you the exact curse without the knife, but going by the best sources I could find, I think it's a blood linked curse." The Medi-witch gestured for Hermione's hand, pushing the sleeve up far enough to reveal the black and deepened 'mudblood' on her skin. "As you know, the Lestrange family had a grudge against muggleborns; the family put many curses on their things years ago to stop thieves or rather 'muggleborns' from stealing from their vast wealth. I know, it's silly and prejudiced, but it's what they did. The curse on the knife that inflicted these wounds is directed at muggleborns. The curse is slow to develop, which is evident by the fact you're still here a year on. This curse is cruel and harsh, it slowly develops by removing the magical blood within your bloodstream, turning you into a squib. Without the magical blood in your system to keep the curse at bay, your heart will stop beating. Your blood as a muggleborn is a mystery; we can't work out how muggleborns suddenly gain magical powers, and people are still researching. Muggleborns are just as powerful and strong, but you didn't get magic from your parents, it just seems to happen are random.

"Those with magical parents have magic in their blood and their DNA. Their abilities are linked closely to their family. We call it a magical core because it's an inheritance of their parents, something they/children have before they develop and learn their own style of magic. Somehow the Lestrange curse has a way of attacking those without magical DNA, without the core magic they inherit from their parents. The Lestrange family specifically designed it so it would affect only muggleborns."

"How long do I have?" Hermione asked, not shedding a tear as she looked into the young witch's eyes. She knew it was going to be bad, but she hadn't expected the news to be so bad. "I need time to... I need time to prepare those I love. I need a time frame."

The Medi-witch seemed hesitant, glancing around at the closed door. "I really shouldn't tell you this because it's still being researched and there isn't any substantial proof that it's even true. " The witch looked at Hermione, concern shining in her eyes. "I'm muggleborn, and I know what would have happened to my family if it hadn't been for you, Miss Granger, you and your friends. What I say doesn't leave this office, you understand?"

Hermione pulled her arm from the witches grip, leaning forward in her chair and dropped her voice. "There's a way to halt the curse?"

"My boyfriend works down in research, he tells me a few things, and that's partly why I know so much about it. We've also had a lot of deaths over the years due to the Lestrange or Malfoy heirlooms coming into contact with muggleborns. If you tell anyone about this, I would be in so much trouble. It's top secret, do you understand?" The nod from Hermione seemed to be the only indication the Medi-witch needed because she quickly pressed on. "There is a theory that muggleborns who conceive a magical child would be forever connected with magic. The mixture of magical children within the womb of a muggleborn can alter the mother's blood, slightly. It's only a small amount of magic that enters the mother's bloodstream during pregnancy, but nevertheless it's believed that it works. You're blood changes a fraction, but it's enough to get rid of the curse because you don't have just muggleborn blood running through your system, but also the fetus' half-blood magic. "

"I've never heard of this before, though," Hermione pressed on. "The idea that blood and magic are so closely connected, people have been cursed like I have? The newspapers haven't..."

"The newspapers have been forced not to cover the stories by the Minister of Magic himself. Can you imagine the problems if people knew? We've got a basement full of witches and wizards affected by blood curses from the purebloods. The research is too early in development, and it's not going to be trialled until a few months time. I'm afraid you won't make it that long, you need to conceive well before then to outlast this." The witch straightened in her seat. "Miss Granger, you've been a hero and an idol to me for two years, I simply can't let you die. You need to leave and protect this secret. If the Ministry works know you have the curse, they'll quarantine you. They're scared the curse can develop and spread to others. They are worried the curse can develop into a virus and kill every muggleborn."

Hermione's eyes widened. She had expected bad news, but not this. She had never expected it to be like this. She stood up, the sound of her chair scraping along the tiled floor chafed against her pebbled skin. She felt like a ghost as she moved towards the door, her hands shook as she grasped the door handle. "What is your name?" Hermione asked, turning to face the witch.

"Rosa Greenwood." The Medi-witch stated.

"Goodbye, Rosa."

There was a flash of light; the Medi-witch slumped forward into a dreamless sleep, with no memory of the last twenty minutes. As Hermione tucked her wand away, she left through the door in the hope of finding a way to live or a way to say goodbye.