Hermione Granger was far from the timid girl she used to be, quiet as a mouse unless she had (and she always did) the answer to a teachers’ question. Now she stood taller, unafraid of much other than bad grades and defying authority figures (though in her credit she had got much better at that one in the face of Umbridge and her reign of terror).
Still she was just a girl of fifteen, not an expert duellist. Harry had helped a lot, but unfortunately there was a big difference between practicing with classmates and a wand fight with hardened Death Eaters all boasting decades of experience. The Department of Mysteries was not by any means the ideal sight for a first duel either—plenty of cover, yes, but all of the unknown magical paraphernalia was a danger to her as well. She’d seen what the strange jar had done to one Death Eater, and she could imagine that one’s head reverting into a child and back was only a fraction of the risks they could be taking.
Of course, they ended up fighting in the same room as the Veil. It was tempting fate, really, so when Hermione got hit with a stunner and fell backwards slowly, a sickening wrench in her gut, she realised it was actually pretty stupid to have a duel next to the Veil. Hindsight was, as always, 20/20.
The few seconds she had before her head brushed the soft, billowing tendrils of the Veil seemed to last an age She met Harry and Ron’s gazes, and then she was pulled backwards by the tendrils. Her whole body was enveloped and she could feel it falling, falling, falling for what felt like eternity. It was, in a way, peaceful. The embrace of the wisps of pure magic were soothing, like falling into bed after a long day of work, or coming home to mother’s embrace.
After an innumerable amount of hours, the gentle falling seemed to gain a sense of purpose to its direction. Where before it had appeared to drift wherever the currents of magic would go, now it would even go against them.
The space around Hermione was tinged green now, and the further the wisps carried her, the greener it got. It culminated into a toxic, neon green mass that swirled and pulsated to a foul beat. Where before the space had felt serene, this place felt like pure, sickening evil . It felt worse than the first time she saw the Dark Mark shot into the sky, worse than when Harry returned from the graveyard with Cedric’s body. Worse, even, than being hunted by the Death Eaters trying desperately to keep the prophecy and not knowing if they could manage, worse than seeing Ron suffocated by a living brain and not knowing how to help him.
Still, Hermione was pushed forward until she reached the epicentre of the toxic mass, and began really falling.
When Hermione woke next, she was alone in a dark cell with her hands bound in front of her, in a pair of iron shackles.
The cell looked like it was part of a TV set, and didn’t even have a toilet; just a bucket in the corner furthest away from the pile of straw she assumed served as a bed. Even in the dim torchlight, it looked disgustingly unsanitary. Being a witch, normally she’d just have cleaned the cell with a scourgify , but her captors had taken her wand from her.
It was here that she waited for, well, something to happen. And waited. And waited...
“Wake up, demon!”
Hermione jumped up so fast she near gave herself whiplash.
In front of her stood an armoured woman who looked like she’d stepped straight out of a fantasy book. She had tan skin, and a particularly nasty scar running from her chin across her cheek. It was clear that, whatever she’d been through to get it, she was lucky to be alive.
“Why did you fall from the Breach?” she said, her tone making it clear that that was a capital B.
Hermione gulped, not daring to question her being called a demon and instead asked, “What exactly is a Breach?”
The woman looked up and cursed, and at that same moment an extremely short, stocky man walked in. He was much less intimidating than the woman in front of Hermione, but he had a deadly looking crossbow on his back.
“No luck with number two then, Seeker?” He chuckled, leaning against the doorframe casual as can be.
“Leave us, Varric!”
“Come on, I’m collecting material for my next book here,” he winked at Hermione, “Sorry about her, kid. She’s been waking up on the wrong side of bed for years.”
Hermione laughed nervously, and eyed up the warrior woman, “Excuse me, Ms. Seeker, but could you tell me why I’m in this cell, please?”
Rather than answer, the Seeker turned around and strode out; leaving Varric laughing harder than he had in a very long while.
“Damn, kid,” he laughed, “you’re killing me! ‘Ms. Seeker’, Andraste’s tits that’s funny…”
Hermione had the distinct feeling that there was something—a lot of somethings—that she wasn’t getting. It was a sensation she’d felt a lot in primary school, but now at fifteen, she wasn’t gonna let that hold her back. She needed to find out where she was and what she was doing there. She might have been slightly terrified, but she wasn’t gonna let that stop her when she knew that Ron and Harry would be worrying about her.
“So uhm, Mist- I mean, Varric? Do you know why I’m here? And why she called me a demon earlier on?”
The man’s laughter came to a pause. “Oh yeah, that . That’s because you fell out of the Breach while we were sealing the rift at the Temple, kiddo. Scared the life outta me too! We thought the Herald was the only one who’d be doing that.”
This, Hermione chewed over for a minute. “Yes, but what is the Breach? I can’t exactly help where I fall from either! It’s not like I chose to fall!”
Varric laughed again, “Yeah kid, but I doubt you’d wanna stay up there either. The Breach is, well, a breach in the sky. The Veil’s been torn open so it's just full of demons.”
The Veil…. Hermione recognised the sound of it but no matter how hard she thought, she just couldn’t quite figure out what it was that she’d forgotten. It was important, she figured that much, but she had no clue how it would help her get out of the shackles she was in or, more importantly, get back to Harry. There was…. something he’d needed help with.
Besides that, there was this whole demon business. She assumed that the ‘demons’ were magical creatures that muggles had found, and that soon enough a team of aurors would come to deal with them and obliviate the muggles. Still, she had never heard of magical creatures coming through a Veil or a breach in it.
Hermione sighed a little. She was completely lost; it felt like she was eleven again, desperately trying to make up for all the information she’d never had access to before, with all the Breach and demon business Varric spoke of.
“So, where am I anyway?” she asked the man.
“That would be the fine town of Haven. More specifically though, kid, you’re in the dungeons under the Chantry. Leliana won’t keep you here long if you’ve got a good story, don’t worry too hard about it.”
Hermione frowned. “I can’t say I’ve ever heard of Haven before, Varric. Where is it?”
She hoped it wasn’t America, because that was where it sounded like Varric came from. What she would do if she was stranded in some tiny American town, she had no idea.
“You’ve not heard about the rediscovery of the Temple of Sacred Ashes here, kid? Well, it’s in the Frostbacks, Ferelden side.”
Again, Hermione frowned. Surely she’d not neglected her geography knowledge that much since going to Hogwarts. She had been quite busy preparing for her OWLs, but she was sure her parents would have at least let her know if a new country or state had been established since she began her witch career.
“Anyway, kid, I don’t believe we’ve been properly introduced! What’s your name?” Varric asked.
“Ah, sorry about that. I’m Hermione Granger.”
Varric whistled. “Name and a half you got there kid, where’s it come from?”
“Well,” Hermione said, “It’s from Greece originally, but my parents are English. They just liked the stories.”
Varric gave her a look, but before he could say anything, the door slammed open with a resounding bang .
In strode a tall man, who paused a beat to observe Hermione’s state of composure.
“I apologise for the accommodations, da’len. I, for one, asked that you recover in the infirmary.”
The man who spoke could only be described as beautiful. Hermione found herself blushing at the attention focused on her before she managed to shake herself out of it. Then she noticed his strange facial tattoos and finally his ears. He was, indisputably, an elf. A very real, very beautiful elf.
With the new information her eyes flickered back to Varric and the word dwarf made its way out from the back of her mind.
She was in a room with an elf and a dwarf . That was—impossible. But, six years ago magic had been impossible too. Hermione didn’t know what to make of what.
She settled for asking the elf if he could get her out.
He smiled at her cheekily. “Well, I’ll do my best. The Seeker does believe you to be an abomination, or just a regular demon at worst. Humour me though, are you the one who guided me out from the Breach?”
It took Hermione a moment to parse through his words. “Uhm…. I’m sorry, I don’t think so, Sir.”
He chuckled, thanked her, and left with Varric.
Being alone again was both a blessing and a curse. It gave Hermione more time to brainstorm, but every passing minute felt like an age and deep down she was afraid . She was on her own, for the first time in years. Harry and Ron couldn’t help her, and Hermione could not shake the feeling that they needed her help instead.
It was unrealistic to expect that she’d be able to just find them once her captors freed her, too. From what Varric had said and what she’d seen, she was a very long way from home. Demons and dwarves and elves were all just fantasy, even to a witch. Of course, there were house elves but they seemed related by name only. Currently, Hermione had two working theories on what had happened;
- She had fallen into a coma and this was all an elaborate dream she’d wake up from, and
- Somehow, inexplicably, Hermione was going to find concrete evidence of the multiverse soon.
Hermione was leaning towards option one, and really hoping that option two was just her being a silly child who shouldn’t think such stupid things. The fact that Hermione had an inner voice that sounded like Umbridge was a worry for another day when she wasn’t being held in a dank dungeon without her wand.
As she continued to mope about in her cell, the Seeker stormed in.
Hermione startled. The Seeker looked angry and she had a minor freakout while she watched the warrior stride up to her cell door and unlock it. There was no question as to whether or not the Seeker could beat her if she was wandless, and Hermione knew she’d been especially lazy about her fitness in Hogwarts. After all, she’d always thought there was no need with magic on her side. Harry and Ron at least played quidditch and would have the stamina for a little running, while all she had done was read books and study.
Then, the Seeker had reached Hermione. She raised her hand and—
Unlocked Hermione’s shackles.
“If it was up to me,” she said, “you would be in the dungeon for much longer. The spymaster will keep an eye on you for now, she’ll know if you even think about running.”
Hermione gulped, nodded, and asked for her belongings.