PART ONE: Rediscovering Hermione, Chapter 2
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: In an alternate universe, when Voldemort
Avada Kedavara'd Harry, he stayed dead. Hermione helped Neville defeat Voldemort, but at the cost of Neville's life. Shortly after the war, Hermione found out that Neville had accidentally gotten Susan Bones pregnant. Ten years later, Hermione has become Dr. Jane Belette and has left the Wizarding World behind... at least until an invitation to Ron Weasley's wedding shows up at her flat.+++++PART ONE: REDISCOVERING HERMIONE, Chapter 2
Jane never went to Padma's flat; she and her husband lived in Ireland -- a wizarding village in the south part of the island. Jane was quite steadfastly ignoring that part of her life. But when she texted Padma -- who was modern enough to own a mobile, thankfully -- it only took a moment for the slender, dark witch to appear in Jane's living room.
"Tea?" Jane said, arching an eyebrow. She held up a saucer.
"Thank you, yes." Padma lowered herself onto Jane's couch and took the cup. "I gather by your tone that you finally opened your invitation."
"So you got one too?"
"Oh, yes." Padma smiled. Jane felt a twinge of sorrow at the other woman's face; Parvati, Padma's twin, had been killed in the war, but even now whenever Padma smiled Jane saw her old year-mate. It still hurt, even after all this time. "I suppose he felt he owed it to me after the way he treated me in Fourth Year."
"You can't be serious!"
Padma laughed, then sipped her tea. "Of course not. I think he invited everyone from school." Padma knew Jane well enough to know not to say the name. It was one of the reasons Jane liked her so much. "Are you going?"
Jane sighed and leaned back on the couch, cup and saucer on her lap. "I don't know. I shouldn't. I mean, I left all that behind."
"Well, yes, of course, except you." Jane put her tea on the end table and covered her eyes with her hands. "Bloody hell," she whispered.
Padma put her hand on Jane's shoulder. "If you're this conflicted about it," she said, "then why not just say no?"
Jane made a small noise in the back of her throat.
"It killed the cat," Padma said. "But you're no cat."
"How did you know?" Jane let one hand fall to cover Padma's.
"Because I know you." Padma squeezed Jane's shoulder. "You're like me. You have to know, no matter what the cost."
"Sometimes," Jane said, smiling, "I really hate that you're right all the time."
Being a doctor, Jane knew that the secret to staying in shape was moderation -- don't eat too much, don't drink too much, don't exercise too much. But in the weeks leading up to the wedding, she forgot that last one.
It started out with her on the scale at the gym, noticing that she'd put on about ten kilos. It hadn't mattered before she'd read the invitation; ten kilos wasn't all that much, and anyway, who did she have to show off to? But after ticking the "will attend" box on the invitation and sending it back -- via normal post, thank you very much -- those ten kilos were subjected to every form of exercise and diet Jane could cram into her time off work. She cut back on her meals, ate salads and granola and fish, gave up the glass or two of wine she usually had after shifts, and added a regular regimen of calisthenics, running, bicycling, aerobics, and light weight training.
She'd be damned if those ten kilos showed themselves to anyone at the wedding. Not her classmates, not Ronald, not even that idiot Cormac McLaggen if he even showed. She was going to arrive looking perfect, and she was going to remind them, once and for all, that she'd left the Wizarding world behind.
Jane looked over her shoulder at the bedroom mirror, then nodded. Her backside looked quite nice, as she judged things. She actually rather liked it a little plumper -- her slacks tended to flutter around her hips these last couple of days -- but with the dress she had in mind, there was no room for error.
The Wednesday before the wedding -- Jane's last day at the hospital before taking the long weekend off -- her ex-lover found her running on the treadmill down in the orthopaedic therapy wing. Ex-lover.
Well, that was a bit misleading. Jane had slept with Sean all of three times -- three very good times -- before finding out he was seeing a malpractice attorney. She hadn't been angry, just disappointed, and the next time he'd tried to set up a liaison, she'd simply said no.
"Don't often see you down here," he said, leaning on the treadmill's side rail.
"No." Jane was only a little out of breath, even though she'd been running at this pace for a good ten minutes. She could feel the ice of endorphins racing through her body, pushing her to keep it up even though her legs said to slow down. "Wanted to... exercise before... my shift."
"Are you sure this is just exercise?" Sean checked the treadmill's control panel. "It looks more like you're training for a marathon."
Jane shook her head. She didn't spare Sean a look. "Just staying in shape." She wiped her forehead with a wristband that was already quite sodden. "You know... how it is."
He shrugged and walked over to the computer across the room. Sean was a physical therapist; this was his turf. "I have a patient coming here in fifteen minutes. Will you be done?"
Sean left Jane in peace until she cycled the treadmill into cool-down mode, slowing to a walk. "You look good, Jane," he said. "I haven't seen you like this in months."
She looked down. Her t-shirt was plastered to her torso. "Grow up, Sean."
His mouth twisted into a good-natured leer. "I am."
Oh, that was enough of that. Jane let the treadmill carry her backward, stepped off, and left the orthopaedic wing to grab a shower. Despite her frustration at the wedding and at Sean's easy familiarity, she felt a pang below her stomach. Sean had been a wonderful lover -- his equipment wasn't the biggest, his stamina not the longest, but the things he'd done to her in bed had left her wondering if the men she'd slept with since coming back to England had been inadequate, or if Sean was just that good.
She shook her head. Not worth thinking about it now.+++++Interlude: After the Second War...
In sixth year, Hermione had bent Professor Burbage's ear about what witches and wizards who wanted to go to non-magical universities did when it came to A-levels. The Muggle Studies teacher had explained that the Ministry of Magic had a liaison with the Ministry of Education -- the one run by Muggles -- and would hand over the equivalent paperwork if requested. With Burbage gone, though, Hermione wasn't quite sure where to turn.
Percy Weasley had definitely not been the first name on her list, but in retrospect, perhaps he should have been.
"Of course I can help you," Percy said. He took off his horn-rimmed glasses and set them on his desk. "But why? You could go to any country you wish for your advanced training; you don't have to stay in England."
"Maybe later," she said. "But for now, I think I'd like to get away from all of this." She remembered what Dean had said last week at the hotel. "At least for a little while."
Percy nodded. "Let me see." He opened a drawer and Hermione watched him shuffle through papers until he found the one he needed. He pointed his wand at a dicta-quill and it jumped to attention. "I think we can state without question that you'd have scored at least an E on all your N.E.W.T.s."
Hermione gave him a look, the same one she used to give Ron when he stared at her, flummoxed at how she knew what she knew.
"All right. Os then."
Percy smiled. The quill scratched at the parchment. "The Muggle world cares quite a bit about what you've done outside of classes. Extracurricular activities."
"Well, there's S.P.E.W."
"I don't think they'd be interested in your drinking habits."
Hermione laughed; she'd never expected Percy to have that dry a sense of humor. "No," she said. "It was my misguided attempt to free house-elves from servitude."
Percy arched an eyebrow. "You were a prefect," he said, choosing -- wisely, in Hermione's opinion -- not to comment. "That translates to student government. And Dumbledore's Army... how about tutoring? From what Ginny tells me, you helped Harry figure out quite a lot of the spells he taught."
"That sounds about right." It still hurt to hear Harry's name, but she forced the pain down and away. "Anything else?"
"Where will you be staying? With Ron?"
"No," she said quickly. "No, I'm going to bring my parents back from Australia and undo the memory charms. Put down their address." She told the quill what to write. "Um... Percy?"
"Could we not do this under my name?"
Percy blinked and put on his glasses. "Hermione..."
"Everyone in the Wizarding world knows who I am by now!" she said. "I need to get away from all of it for a while. Can you just… oh, I don't know…"
"Fudge things a bit?"
She laughed again -- was Percy really this funny? Had she missed that in the past.
The moment behind them, she said, "well?"
He held up his hands. "All right." With his wand, he removed her name from the parchment. "What name should I do this under? I'll need to know," he said as she opened her mouth to protest, "because you'll need legal identification afterward."
"Oh." She thought for a moment. "Well, my middle name's Jane. I can use that."
The quill noted it on the form. "I thought it was Jean."
Hermione shook her head. "Typo at the Daily Prophet
. They printed a correction."
"I think you and I might be the only people who read those." He paused. "What about a surname?"
She felt her cheeks grow pink. "Belette."
"Isn't that French for--"
"Yes," she said. "Don't laugh, Percy. Please?" She sighed. "You've put me on the spot, you know."
Percy didn't comment; he just guided the quill through the rest of the form, then ended the spell and handed the parchment to Hermione. "There you are. I'll send the rest of the paperwork to your parents' address."
"Thank you, Percy." She smiled at him. "I really appreciate it."
"You're welcome." He reached across the desk to squeeze her hand, just for a moment. "Will we see you for dinner Sunday?"
For that, Hermione had no answer.+++++Your feedback -- e-mails, reviews, smoke signals -- are, as always, greatly appreciated. I'm frankly amazed by just how much response this story's gotten -- if I'd known the key was to write a Harry Potter story, I'd have done so long ago.
The thing where Percy puts Hermione on the spot to pick a last name actually happened to me. I was a radio personality for a while, and my program director made me pick a new name. He gave me five minutes. I wasn't much of a fan of my choice, but needs must.
Next time: In the present, Jane's old best friend drops in for a visit. In the past, Hermione comes home for a visit of her own and meets with a different old friend.