PART ONE: Rediscovering Hermione, Chapter 1
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the characters or worlds used in this story, including that of Harry Potter, which was created by JK Rowling. No harm is intended toward any of the copyright owners. This story is intended for entertainment purposes only.+++++PREVIOUSLY: After Voldemort killed Harry Potter, Neville and Hermione worked together to defeat the Dark Lord. Molly Weasley killed Bellatrix LeStrange.+++++PART ONE: REDISCOVERING HERMIONE, Chapter 1
Jane Belette shrugged off her white coat, hung it in her locker, and pushed the metal door shut. Not hard enough to slam; she wasn't quite angry enough for that. But she was angry all the same. The bastard hadn't had the bollocks to propose to her after the war, but he sure as hell had enough to send her an invitation to his wedding once he got off his arse and found a girl who must have been more right than she'd been, all those years ago.
Bugger him. Bugger his red hair, bugger his idiotic facial expressions, bugger his ridiculous expression in the throes of what he considered passion.
A smile twitched at one corner of Jane's mouth. Whoever he'd tricked into sharing his bed for the rest of his life would have one hell of a surprise when the robes came off. She didn't believe for a second that he'd slept with her already; who would have him when she saw that?
Jane still hadn't opened the envelope -- she'd had a hell of a time explaining why a small brown owl had been flying in a frenzy around the waiting room, carrying an envelope nearly twice its size. She'd managed to snatch it away before one of the janitors had gone after it with a broom. Owl post. Idiotic relic of a world stuck in the past. As if there weren't better ways to make sure the mail got where it was going.
Jane pulled her bag over her shoulder, across her body, and left the staff lounge. Through the waiting room and out into the cool, damp fall air; down the block to the Underground; six stops, up the stairs, two blocks more, key in the exterior door, up to her second-floor flat, and only then did she let loose with enough swearing to burn the stain off her front door.
Which wasn't a play on words. She closed her mouth quickly, a blush coming to her cheeks. The last time Jane had lost control like that had been years ago, in America, just before her Board examination. It wasn't something she liked to dwell upon.
She didn't repair the damage, though; she just left it there, locked the door, and went into the kitchen. She poured a glass of wine and saluted in the general direction of Scotland. "To you, Ronald Bilius Weasley. May you find happiness with someone who actually puts up with your bullshit."
Jane drained the glass and set it on the counter, then set about preparing dinner. She'd open the invitation soon enough. And she was certain it was an invitation, what with the flowing script and cream-coloured paper and the weight of the thing.
She cursed again.
Tuesday was Jane's day off, but she didn't sleep in. She had to clean the flat, pay bills, do some shopping, and -- yes, finally, the building manager had got round to fixing the bloody machine -- wash her clothes. She pushed two cloth bags down the chute, then practically flew down the stairs to the basement. Two machines, both working, and on Tuesday at lunchtime in a building of single flats, no one else was down here.
Jane separated her clothes and filled the machine with jeans and dark blouses, picking through her pockets as she did so; she had a tendency to forget things that were in there, and more than once had paid for a coffee with pound notes faded-to-near-transparency. This time around, she found a fiver, two blank sheets from a prescription pad, a biro that would've ruined nearly everything when the washer filled, and a large envelope, folded over several times and buried deep in last night's slacks. She set it aside, finished loading the washer, and started it.
She was planning to open the envelope -- the invitation, she reminded herself, scowling - but then her mobile rang and she set it aside. She hopped up onto the top of the washer, pulled the mobile out of her pocket, and, after a glance at the screen, flipped it open. "Hi, mum."
The invitation was dropped into her empty laundry basket, forgotten for the moment.
It wasn't as if Jane had any more excuses. The flat was clean, the laundry done, and she'd even gone to the gym for a quick cycle to nowhere and a step aerobics class that happened to start as she was passing.
No. She had to open it. She had to know, had to pull the plaster off in one quick motion. It was the only way.
Jane slid a kitchen knife along the top of the envelope. It unfolded itself; she dropped it on the kitchen island when she realized what was happening.
Words floated up off the paper, bright-red sparkles with golden outlines. Of course, she thought bitterly; no woman would let him do an invitation in Cannons regalia, so this was the next best thing.Castor and Salacia Vane
cordially invite you to the wedding of our daughter
Romilda Abalone Vane
Mr. Ronald Bilius Weasley
son of Arthur and Molly Weasley
the eighth day of November, 2009
four in the afternoon
There were details still on the page about the hotel and where to send responses, but those eight lines just hung in the air as if to remind Jane what she'd left behind.
"Bugger that," she snapped. Outside of Padma Patil, she kept in touch with no one from that life. After the first two years, where she was in America, at university, as far away from England as she could go, the people Jane had once called friends simply left her alone. After Ronald's unannounced appearance in her room at university, even he'd accepted her choice. Not that he hadn't shouted a bit first, tried to force her back to the Wizarding world, but then, that was Ronald.
Well, that certainly wasn't going to happen again. She hadn't gone back then, and she certainly wasn't going to now.
Jane went into her bedroom, undressed, and stood under the shower for a good five minutes before briskly washing up. In front of her bedroom mirror, she dropped her towel and cast an appraising eye over herself. "Still pleasant enough," she said, her voice soft. She ran her palm over the curve of her lower stomach; no amount of exercise seemed to eradicate it, and after a while, she'd stopped bothering to try. She'd had quite enough men to know that, once she was naked, it didn't matter to them.
Well, not to most men. Ronald, though, had made such a fuss, as if he hadn't expected her to look like a woman once he'd got her clothes off.
+++++Interlude: After the Second War...
Hermione nudged Ron in the shoulder, but he wasn't budging. His body was still on top of hers, still inside her even though he'd fallen asleep right after. "I can't bloody believe this," she hissed. Then: "Accio
It only took a moment's work to lift Ron off her body and deposit him beside her in the bed. She pointed the wand between her legs and cast a cleaning spell, and then a contraceptive spell, before getting to her feet and grabbing up all her clothes. She noticed herself walking oddly -- it hadn't hurt, not after the initial quick pinch when Ron first penetrated her, but now she was sore.
This hadn't been worth waiting for. And to think it had been Ron, not Hermione, who'd put off taking that final step. Hermione, in her logical way, had wanted to get it over with so they could concentrate on other things, but Ron had told her he wanted to wait until after the war was over.
Well, now the war was over. And so was Ron; two minutes of thrusting, a blast of hot air in her face as he'd sighed out his orgasm, and then off to bed.
It wasn't as if Hermione didn't know what felt good -- it wouldn't have been possible to not know after spending six years living in a dormitory with two other girls. What Ron had done, though, hadn't felt good.
She pulled on her clothes and left the hotel room -- the Ministry had put them all up in a London hotel to keep them near, at least for the moment. She took the lift down to the first floor, where the bar was located. At 11:30 on a Sunday night, there weren't many people present, but Hermione caught Dean Thomas's eye and he waved her over to his table.
"Can't sleep?" His voice was soft, though not as deep as one might expect from looking at him.
Hermione shook her head. A waitress took her order for a whiskey-and-soda -- Muggle whiskey, thank you very much. "You?"
Dean shrugged. "It's just been so much, you know?"
"Do I know? Come now." She smiled to take the sting out of her words. "With the Boy Who Lived now the Boy Who Died, it's a constant battle to keep the reporters away from me and Ron." She felt a flush touch her cheeks and a twinge of pain between her legs, and she ignored both, along with the remembered pain of learning that Harry was truly dead. "I feel worse for Susan."
"I know." After the war, Dean had ended up in bed with Hannah Abbott, Susan Bones's best friend. Susan herself was still in mourning over Neville, and Dean had been witness to more of it than he cared to admit. "Neville a martyr... I always knew he was brave, but to withstand Voldemort for that long?"
Hermione nodded. So far, no one had found out about the shield charm she'd cast over Neville. It hadn't withstood the killing curse, but it had been enough to get Neville close enough to kill Voldemort. No one had found Neville's wand, either; it was still tucked safely away in the beaded bag Hermione'd used when she, Harry, and Ron had been on the run.
Her drink came. Hermione held the cold glass in her palms.
"What is it? What happened?"
She took a slow breath. "It's nothing, Dean. Just... I'm just tired."
"Not as tired as Susan will be in about seven months."
Hermione's head jerked upward. "Excuse me?"
"You didn't know?" Dean tossed back the rest of his scotch and signaled for another. "Apparently Neville and Susan managed to find time to themselves, and just as apparently, neither of them used a charm."
Dean chuckled. "That is usually what happens. I'd think you'd know."
"Oh, I know," Hermione said quickly, more thankful than ever that she knew no fewer than four contraceptive charms. "I can't believe it, though: the son -- or daughter -- of the Man Who Killed Voldemort. And Harry thought he had a tough life!"
Oh, that had been stupid. Saying Harry's name out loud made Hermione's heart ache, and from the look on Dean's face, it hurt him as well. She hid behind her drink until she could swallow without a lump the size of a bezoar in her throat. "I still can't believe he's gone."
"I know," Dean said, sounding hollow. "I always thought he'd make it. 'Neither can live while the other survives.' What a bloody joke." He sipped his new scotch. "So what will you do?"
"I mean, now that it's all over, what will you do?" He drummed his fingers on the table. "I'm sure we'll all have the chance to sit N.E.W.T.s--"
"N.E.W.T.s? Really?" Hermione put her glass down and leaned forward. "Dean, any of us who fought, if we want to use our hero status, can do whatever we want."
"So what do you want, Hermione?"
"Right now?" She smiled, but sadly. "Right now, I want all of this to go away. I want to go somewhere where no one knows who I am, what I've done, or what I can do. I've spent too much time fighting."
Dean nodded. "I think maybe I'd like to go into wandmaking."
"Wandmaking? Really?" Another nod. "I would've thought art school--"
Hermione was cut off by Dean's laugh. "Everyone thinks that," he said. "But just because I enjoy a sketch here and there, it doesn't mean I want to make it my life's work."
"Learn something new every day." Hermione examined her wand -- well, Bellatrix LeStrange's wand, but after the foul woman had been put down for good, it was as good as hers now. "I still want to get away."
"Me too. At least, for a little while." He checked his watch. "But not just now. Hannah said she'd be back from Susan's by midnight." He drained his drink. "Have a good night, Hermione. Don't think too hard."
She arched an eyebrow. "Good night, Dean."+++++Your feedback is, as always, greatly appreciated.
One of the things I wanted to do with this story is hang a lampshade on other fanfic conventions -- such as "Dean will grow up to be an artist because Rowling said he's good at drawing". You'll see that happen in other places as well.
Next time: Jane goes to tea, and Hermione meets with Percy.