PART ONE: Rediscovering Hermione, Chapter 3
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 the present, Jane had tea with her old schoolmate Padma Patil, and then threw herself into an exercise regimen in hopes of looking as perfect as possible when she showed up at Ron Weasley's wedding. In the past, after the war, Hermione met with Percy Weasley, who helped her translate her Hogwarts accomplishments into something Muggle schools could understand. He also displayed a rather dry wit.+++++PART ONE: REDISCOVERING HERMIONE, Chapter 3Now...
That night, Jane opened the bottom drawer of her dresser and dug under her jumpers until she found the long, slender wooden box. Still kneeling on the floor, she opened it and took out the walnut wand with the dragon heartstring.
Strange how it still fit her hand so well, despite not being touched in more than five years. It was just as comfortable as her old wand had been before being lost at Malfoy Manor, all those years ago. She pointed it at the center of the room and whispered "Orchideous
The result was less than spectacular -- a single flower floated out of the wand to rest on the dove-gray carpet -- but she smiled nonetheless. "I've still got it, I suppose."
Jane put the wand in her pocket for lack of a wand holster, but then took it right back out and smiled more widely. "Mustn't lose a buttock." She got to her feet and opened the top drawer, retrieving a pair of particularly-ugly argyle socks she'd never much liked. She visualized a wand holster in her mind, pointed her wand, and said a transfiguration spell.
Then she said it again.
The third time was the charm; the socks became a thigh holster, soft suede with bright silver buckles. "Perfect." Jane placed it against her trouser leg and cast the spell that would make it part of her clothing; that, at least, worked first go. Then she tucked the wand away and practiced drawing it until the motion felt natural again. Her muscles, she supposed, had never really forgotten.
That handled, Jane went to her desk and scribbled down a brief note, then opened her window and pointed her wand up to the sky. The advertisement in the Daily Prophet
-- Padma had provided one for her -- had been very specific. "Strigiforma
Thirty seconds later, a small owl made its way to Jane's window. She let it in to perch on the desk and stick out its leg. "I hope this is all right," she said, tucking a pound note into the logo-emblazoned envelope the owl had dropped onto the desk. "I don't have any change."
The owl hooted. Jane sealed the envelope. "Please take this to Ginny Page, formerly Weasley. And thank you."
Another hoot and the owl was gone.
Jane hadn't realized the owl would get to its destination so quickly. She'd barely had time to read the first page of the most recent EMJ
before a soft pop caught her ears. She looked up.
"Ginny Page." Jane put the journal down. "And it's Jane now. Jane Belette."
Ginny looked thoughtful for a moment. Then: "isn't that French for--"
"Yes. Don't laugh."
Ginny didn't. Instead, she perched on the arm of the couch; Jane was curled up in the huge chair. "So. You're back."
"Just for the wedding," Jane said. She wasn't surprised at Ginny's flat tone; Jane -- Hermione at the time, she supposed -- had pretty much cut off everyone from her old life except for answering occasional notes, and even those had dried up, though not for lack of trying on the part of her friends. Yes, Ginny had every right to be angry. "Can I get you anything?" She gestured at her glass of red wine and the uncorked bottle.
"Can you summon me a glass? Or have you forgotten how to do that?"
Jane blinked and drew her wand. "Accio
wineglass," she said quietly, and Ginny caught the glass as it passed her. "You look wonderful," Jane added. "Marriage agrees with you."
Ginny made a noise low in her throat as she poured. "And you look like a Muggle."
"Perhaps I'm just burying myself in the part," Jane said, putting her wand away. "I'm a doctor now. You'd say Healer, I guess--"
"I know what doctors are," Ginny said, sounding as if she was trying her damnedest not to snap. "I assume that, since you know my last name, you know who my husband is."
Jane nodded. Padma kept her up to date on things. "Professor of Muggle Studies at Hogwarts, yes?"
"Used to be. Dark Arts now."
A shrug. "He likes it, and that's what's important."
"What about you?"
"What about you?" Ginny countered. "What the hell happened to you, Hermione?"
"No, bugger that!" Ginny drained the wineglass and set it on the table with a hard noise. "I don't care who the hell you've reinvented yourself to be! You're bloody Hermione bloody Granger, and you abandoned me!"
"You don't get to 'Gin' me anymore, Hermione." Now Ginny was almost snarling. "Harry died, Hermione, and you and Ron split. Then you started to withdraw, and before I knew it you were gone!" Jane's heart tightened when she saw tears brimming in Ginny's bright brown eyes. "I had Luna," Ginny said softly, "and I love Luna, but she's not you. I needed you, Hermione!"
Jane made as if to get up off the chair, but Ginny held up a hand. "Gin, I'm sorry, but I had to go. I had to get away from this world."
"Why?" Ginny slid down the arm of the couch until she was sitting on it, leaning forward, forearms on her knees. "What is so horrible about our world?"
"Harry died!" And suddenly Hermione -- not Jane, not now -- was crying too, her throat starting to close. She grabbed her wineglass and took a couple of sips. "I bloody loved him too, and he died! I couldn't bear all the death... all the destruction... it was t-too... too much..." Hermione put her face in her hands, trying to stave off the breakdown.
A slender hand was on her shoulder, a slender body squeezing onto the chair, slender arms around her quaking body. "Oh, Hermione," Ginny said. "I'm sorry."
Hermione clutched Ginny and just kept on crying, ten years worth of delayed grief pouring out to the woman who, once upon a time, had been the only girl who'd ever made Hermione wish for a sister.
"I wanted to tell you first," Hermione said, still in Ginny's arms. "Before I told Ron, I wanted to tell you first."
She felt Ginny nod. "I understand. But my parents will want to know too. You know they love you."
"I know." Hermione forced down another lump in her throat. "God, Gin, I'm so sorry. I was a fool, wasn't I."
"That wasn't a question, but I'll answer it anyway." She stroked Hermione's hair. "Yes, you were." Ginny summoned a fresh box of tissues. "Here."
"Thanks." Hermione wiped her face. "And thank you, Gin."
Ginny shook her head. "Families fight. You've been part of my family forever. Just wish it was you marrying my brother."
"Is something wrong with Romilda?"
"She's lovely," Ginny said, but she sounded disgusted despite the kind words. "I'm sure she'll be pleased you're attending." No, Ginny didn't much like Romilda Vane. Hermione wondered why.
Then a thought occurred to her. "That's one thing you can't do in the Muggle world."
"RSVP four days before the wedding."
"Oh, Hermione, you could turn up the day of and I guarantee my parents would find room for you."
"But Romilda's parents are giving the wedding."
"You have met my mother, yes?" Ginny's eyes twinkled. "Mark's best friend didn't know until the day of if he could get to my wedding, and Mum moved heaven and earth to make sure it'd be okay."
"I think she'll appreciate at least a little lead time. But if you could ask them to keep their distance?" Ginny seemed to darken, but Hermione shook her head. "That's not what I meant. It's just..." She took a deep breath, let it out. "It's going to be a lot, seeing everyone again -- and knowing Ronald, he definitely invited everyone."
"Oh. Lovely." Hermione flashed a grin to try and take the sting out -- Ronald might have been a pain in the arse, but Ginny was his sister and that family was one of the closest she'd ever known, save for those few years when Percy was off being an idiot. "But yes, seeing everyone again... it'll be difficult."
"I'll take care of you," Ginny said. "And if anyone gives you trouble, Mark and I will hex them into the next decade."
"That's only a few months away."
Ginny smiled. "Regardless."+++++Interlude: Two Years After the Second War...
Jane -- Hermione; she had to remember that, back home, she was Hermione -- had come to England when her favorite cousin's child was born. She didn't care so much to hold him -- "and just when will you be settling down, Hermione?" got old fast -- but it was a good excuse to forget that she'd been in America for almost two years, away from everyone she'd ever known.
Which was, she reflected, exactly what she'd wanted in the first place.
Her last night, she went down to the hotel bar for a drink.
"We have to stop meeting like this."
Hermione twisted round in her seat, then bounded to her feet. "Dean Thomas!" She pulled the tall young man into her arms. "How have you been?"
He hugged her back. "I'm well. Apprenticed, now."
"Really?" Hermione let him go and he sat next to her at the tiny round table. "How is it?"
Dean slid a slender white wand out of his sleeve. "You tell me." He made to hand it to her, but she shook her head. "What is it?"
Hermione smiled. "I haven't touched a wand since 1998. Since I got to America."
"So that's where you've been."
She nodded, then signaled the waitress. "Scotch. Neat." She smiled at Dean. "You do still drink that, yes?"
"I do." He put the wand away. "Wandmaking is... interesting."
"How so?" She couldn't help herself asking.
"This is the first one I've made that hasn't cracked on first casting."
"Yes." The scotch arrived. Dean saluted Hermione with his glass, then sipped. "But that's not really why I'm here. To talk about wandmaking, that is."
"I imagine not." Hermione drew a pattern in the condensation on the side of her glass. "Why are you here?"
Dean shrugged. "I've been coming here since the war. It's quiet, and no one knows me. I have time to think."
"Things." He drank a bit more. "Hannah and I... we're having problems."
"I didn't know you and she were still together."
"Well, it's complicated." He nudged his glass an inch or two along the table. "Susan named us godparents and... well, you heard what happened, didn't you?"
Hermione nodded. "Terrible. But I didn't know about you and Hannah."
"Me and Hannah." Dean realized he still had the wand out on the table; he slid it back up into his sleeve. "I don't know that I wanted to be a parent. Not this soon. But that's how it works."
Hermione remembered that Sirius would've been Harry's legal guardian had he been exonerated, back in 1994, and thanked whatever she believed in these days that Remus Lupin had survived the war, else his baby son might have been an orphan without a godfather -- Harry Potter -- to take care of him. "What's... was it a boy or a girl?"
"A girl." A smile touched Dean's lips. "I can't believe you haven't heard."
"I've been avoiding the news. Pre-med doesn't leave a lot of time for extracurricular pursuits in any case."
"Pre-med? So you'll be a doctor at some point?"
"Yes." Hermione put her hand on Dean's arm. "How's she doing?"
"Oh, she's wonderful." Dean took a piece of parchment out of his pocket and handed it to Hermione. It showed a baby girl with Neville's puppy-dog eyes and Susan's long plait of hair riding a toy broom around what must have been Dean and Hannah's living room. She was laughing silently, waving to whomever was capturing the portrait, and she got so over-exuberant that she tumbled off the broom and rolled to a stop on the carpet. Hannah appeared, kneeling next to her, but she was laughing so hard that all Hannah could do was tickle her and laugh right along. "Her name's Amelia, after Susan's aunt. Amelia Jeannette -- Neville's middle name was Eugene, but Susan didn't like Eugenia, so Jeannette it was. Amelia Longbottom."
"A good name." Hermione passed the parchment back. "What's wrong, Dean?"
He shook his head. "It's not just being a parent so young," he said. "It's... Hannah and me, we weren't really in love when the war happened. We were just together. Not like you and Ron were." When he saw Hermione's face darken, he hid behind his drink. "Sorry." He drained it, then signaled for another. "Anyway, we were both taking care of Susan, and with Neville gone, we just... we felt like we should stay together so we could both be there to help her, especially with Amelia on the way. And then Amelia was born, and Susan died, and we couldn't split up. Susan... she trusted us to take care of Amelia."
"Oh, Dean." Hermione squeezed his forearm. "You should've said something." Their drinks arrived; Hermione made half of hers disappear in a few swallows, warmth spreading through her chest and stomach. "Why didn't you say something?"
Another shake of his head. "I don't know. But things just kept... kept happening..."
Hermione saw Dean's eyes glittering in the low light of the bar, and she pulled him into a half-hug. "Oh, Dean," she said again. "Dean, I'm sorry."
His arms went round her and he held her tightly. Her face went to the bend of his neck and she breathed deeply, a small sound of contentment escaping from her throat.
They separated enough for her to look up into his eyes. Into his face. At his lips, so much darker than any other lips she'd ever kissed.
And she kissed him. And he kissed her. +++++Your feedback -- e-mails, reviews, smoke signals -- are, as always, greatly appreciated.
Dean appearing in the hotel bar where Hermione happens to be staying is a bit of a
deus ex machina. I just noticed it now. Also, you probably gathered this from context clues, but
strigiforma is a spell to call an owl, and and
EMJ is a professional journal for emergency medical technicians.
Next time: Jane joins Ginny for a visit to the Burrow, while Hermione and Dean have an intimate little chat. Or something.