"Fuck you, Harry," Hermione hissed at him, her wrist in his grip. "You sodding bastard. Where were you when I needed you after the war? Where were you when Ron decided it was a great idea to hit me? I'll tell you where you were. You were safe in the bosom of your surrogate family – Ron's family - and you decided you cared a lot more about having them then you cared about me, the girl who'd saved your life over and over again."
. . . . . . . . . .
McGonagall nearly spit as she finished her letter to Percy Weasley. I believe we have found a Dark Arts professor that will suffice, she wrote. He assures us that he will be able to teach during the day as long as the curtains are thick enough and that he has not drunk human blood, other than from blood banks, in several years. As I have said before, I remain of the opinion that introducing formal Dark Arts instruction to Hogwarts is a mistake but I will abide by the decision of the Board of Governors. We have also hired a new History teacher, a woman named Cassandra Gall, who seems to have some very interesting ideas about the curriculum and I think she will make an exciting edition to the staff. Tracey Davis has offered to set up the new Wizarding Studies curriculum for the Muggle-born students and she and Narcissa Malfoy have been back and forth to the castle every other weekend getting prepared. I hope this note finds you in good health and you and Theo and Daphne will join us for a little meet and greet before the students arrive.
She rolled the parchment up and attached it to the leg of the waiting owl before she gave into the urge to tell Percy Weasley what he and his evil lover could do with their Dark Arts ideas.
. . . . . . . . . .
"That wasn't how it was," Harry protested. "After the war there were things we did, Hermione. Things that made people feel safer, feel secure, and you wanted nothing to do with that. You wouldn't participate at all in the –"
"In the propaganda?" she interrupted him. "I shall not tell lies, remember?"
"Fuck you, Hermione. You wanted to be so holier than thou, so perfect, and look at you now. How's that propaganda taste now? We just wanted people to feel safe after a war but you've convinced them black is bloody white and up is down!"
. . . . . . . . . .
Theo ruffled Æthel's hair as he walked by the girl. She had been doing a summer research project on Potions for extra credit and had a table full of carefully tabulated notes in front of her she was writing up. You have to work harder than anyone else, he'd told her. Be less arrogant, more charming. Be humble and studious and a delight because you'll be queen and they'll hold any schoolyard slight against you for years. She'd grinned at him and he'd laughed. Nothing quite like a childhood in an orphanage to shape a person; it had turned Riddle into a monster and it had turned this one into a savvy little thing with street smarts to spare. She'd be a brilliant queen.
"Love you, angel," he said. "Project go well?"
"Yep," she said. "Uncle Neville let me use a lot of his plants so I've got a really great comparison between fresh ingredients and what you can buy through potion supply houses."
"I assume Neville's plants were more effective," Theo said dryly. At least the weekly trips up to white-knuckle his way through her play dates with Neville's boys hadn't been only about terrorizing him. As far as he could tell she hadn't accepted the fealty of any more of the rag tag crew of urchins that followed her, goslings to her mother goose, but she was a sneaky thing.
"Of course they were," she said, "It wasn't a hard project/"
"Your mum and I are going out tonight," he said.
"Another charity fundraiser?" Æthel asked.
"Of course," Theo said. "I think she's cutting a ribbon at a food bank. Percy and Marcus'll be home. Try not to scare them too badly."
"Yes, dad," she said with exasperated tone in her voice that made him laugh. Adolescence was on its way. Dear Merlin, he dreaded her dating.
. . . . . . . . . .
"We had to," she snapped at him. "People don't want to hear the truth, they want to be comforted by lies."
"I shall not tell lies," he mocked her. "I guess 'We plan to dismantle your democracy, steal your assets and make you cheer us' didn't have quite the same approval rating as 'Nimue' did they?"
"You have no idea what you're talking about with her," Hermione said, wrenching her hand away. "You don't know what it's like to have something that powerful in your head all the time."
Harry began to laugh. "Tell me again how I don't know what it's like to have a monster in your head, Hermione." He stepped toward her until there was almost no space between them. "Don't blame your little world conquest game on your magical parasite. You did that all on your own. You invited her in and now you don't like having her there. Well, too bad."
"We didn't invite her in," Hermione said, her voice getting lower and lower. "I didn't invite her in. When Ron killed my son the blood sacrifice created a pathway she followed."
. . . . . . . . . .
Blaise pushed Luna on the swing he'd added to her orangerie. "Happy?" he asked her.
She dragged her shoe in the dirt to bring herself to a halt, turned and reached a hand up toward him. He bent down and she put her fingers behind his neck, pulled his mouth to hers and licked at his lips before sliding her tongue into his mouth.
When he broke the kiss Blaise said, "I take it that's a yes?"
"All roads lead to you," Luna said contentedly.
. . . . . . . . . .
Harry looked at her, her face beginning to crumble. "Your loss – "
"Made me a monster, yes." Hermione pasted her mask back on and reached into her back pocket. Harry stilled as she handed him his wand. "I do believe we are even, Harry Potter. I destroyed you and you, or Ron, destroyed me." She smiled at him. "Care to kill me? You can make me into a horcrux if you want. Isn't that what you suggested I do to you?"
. . . . . . . . . .
Greg groaned as Astoria handed the squirming mass of giggling rebellion that was Alicia to him.
"Your turn," she said. "I've tried candy. I've tried threats. I've tried letting her run around without nappies. She has about as much interest in using the potty as I do in ancient Greek. If I don't get out of here for a bit, I'm going to lose my mind."
"Love you," Greg said as Alicia began patting his face with her hands.
"Love you, too," Astoria said with a sigh.
Greg caught her hand before she turned to go, hoisting Alicia onto one hip. "I really do, you know," he said.
"You'd have to," Alicia muttered, "to be willing to potty train another man's child."
"She's my daughter," Greg insisted, his face tight with anger. "Not his. Never his."
Astoria drooped. "I'm sorry," she said. "I know. This week has just been… they're all potty trained by the time they go off to Hogwarts, right?"
"They are," Greg said. "Go visit your sister and do evil things together in London, okay?"
"Evil?" Astoria cocked an eyebrow at him.
"Shoe shopping is evil," Greg said. "And I'm sure she's got some governmental thing she'll want you to weigh in on. She always does."
Astoria laughed and let go his hand. "I'll see you both tonight," she promised.
. . . . . . . . . .
"Where do I go?" Harry said, staring at the wand in his hand. "What do I do now?"
"If I could interrupt this touching moment," Draco Malfoy said from the hall, "I do think I have a solution." He eyed Harry, "and, of course, if you raise that wand against my wife, I'll have you in pieces before you can even think of a spell."
. . . . . . . . . .
George leaned back against the wall of the apartment above the diminutive joke shop he'd opened in what he continued to think of as 'Neville's village'. He'd hired – well, Theo Nott had hired on his behalf – staff to run the London store and people had hinted and prodded and suggested he open this one 'just to keep your hand in' until he'd finally done it.
The shop itself filled him with joy. It was a warren of little paths that revealed different tricks and goodies he'd come up with – they'd come up with – and so far everyone who'd walked through it had been delighted. He'd cleaned the apartment above it because it had been there, because it seemed wrong to leave the space dusty and unlivable even though there was no one to live in it. He'd asked his father whether he wanted it but Arthur had finally settled into a life without his beloved Molly and if he drank a little too much, well, no one could really blame him. He wanted to be left alone and no one who ended up in this apartment would be left alone; between the endless stream of children they'd all adopted from that wretched, finally closed, orphanage to Astoria's unstoppable belief that she knew what was best for everyone to Hannah's kindnesses no one who entered this space would ever be alone.
. . . . . . . . . .
As Draco laid out his suggestion Hermione's eyes began to widen. Harry slowly nodded. "I'd like that," he said. "I think maybe I've had enough of the conventional Weasley family. Maybe… maybe that would be better."
. . . . . . . . . .
Marcus looked at the drawing Daphne slid toward him and ran a nervous hand through his hair before he admitted, "I'm not sure that's physically possible, Daph."
She leaned across the table, her waist pressed into edge and her hair falling forward, and studied it for a moment before she said, "Theo swears Percy can do it."
"Percy?" Marcus grabbed Daphne's hair with one hand and pulled it back, out of the way, and held it there with a sticking charm. "Our Percy?"
"I guess he's started doing some kind of stretching exercises on the sly to stay fit," Daphne said.
Marcus narrowed his eyes but finally shrugged. "Well, I'll try it, but if I end up hurting my back it's your fault."
"Backrubs for days," Daphne promised.
"Don't suppose you'd wear that white satin corset thing your mother gave you?" Marcus asked.
Daphne slid back across the table and settled into her chair and summoned the sketch back. She eyed it and then said, "I know I can't bend that way in that corset. Steel bones and all."
They both turned as the door opened and Percy let himself in, a bag in his hand. When he leaned over Daphne's shoulder to look at the sketch he began to laugh. "You know that's not physically possible, right?"
Marcus muttered something like, "I told you so," even as Daphne protested, "Theo swore it was."
"And you believed him?" Percy snorted. "Merlin, Daphne, it's not like you to be so gullible." He looked from the relieved Marcus to the grouchy Daphne and, sinking down into another chair at the table, pulled a container of blueberries out of his bag. "For you," he said.
"Thanks," Daphne said as she grabbed a handful.
Percy began to laugh and Marcus asked him why. "It's just… you know how I grew up. It was the most conventional family anyone has ever seen. Dad worked at the Ministry and mum cooked and knit and had baby after baby and I always just sort of assumed that's what my family life had to be and now look at us."
"I like our family," Daphne said, popping another blueberry in her mouth. "Not everyone wants 2.5 kids and lumpy sweaters."
"I like this. I like the power," Percy admitted, "Even if it's sometimes – "
"Yeah. I like it a lot more than a normal life with home cooking and such."
"Me too," Daphne grinned at him.
"Take away again?" Marcus asked with a sigh. "Æthel's going to think none of her parents can cook."
Percy shrugged. "None of us can," he said.
. . . . . . . . . . . .
Draco opened the door to the little cottage he'd purchased with one hand, the other held over Hermione's eyes.
"Merlin, Draco," she said. "I'm terrified I'm going to trip on something. When do I get to look?"
"Now," he said, pulling his hand away. She looked around the room, her eyes moving from the archways to the shelves he'd filled with copies of all her favorite books to the large, wooden table. Draco watched her actually put her hand over her mouth as she climbed the stairs and peered into first their room and then, her hand shaking, into the small room with the walls he'd had painted a soft yellow. There was a crib and more shelves and a rocking chair by a window situated over a trellis laden with so many roses he was surprised it hadn't pulled itself from the wall due to the sheer weight of the blooms. A basket on the floor was filled with stuffed toys and books that could be chewed on and he'd filled the shelves with cloth nappies.
"I know you don't like house elves," he said, "but you know my mother would be all over us to get a nanny if we don't have one, so it seemed to me that an elf was the lesser of two evils, and if you have an elf you can do cloth diapers which I know you wanted. Something about them being 'cuter'."
"I can handle an elf," Hermione said, the tears starting to slip from her eyes. "Draco, this is beautiful. It's…. it's so perfect." She turned and he gathered her into his arms. "I can't believe you went to all this trouble," she said.
"There's a lake just over the hill," he said, "so your little passenger can be kept happy, and Neville's little village is about an hour walk from here so you can see those people when you want to but it's far enough away they aren't just going to show up unannounced all the time." He stopped to think. "Well, Astoria might. She apparates everywhere, and has opinions, and you know you won't be able to keep Hannah away from a baby, but most people will take the hint that we're this far out here so we can stay away from people for a bit."
Hermione made a sniffling sound against his chest. "And if they get to be too much we'll just go all scary Dark Queen Lady and her faithful consort on them and they'll run for the hills."
"You didn't have to do this," she finally said. "I know you wanted power, not me. Not this."
"I did want power," Draco said, "and revenge. And then you and those things. And now just you. Just you forever."
"In a few more months it won't be just me," Hermione said.
"Just us," Draco said, his hand on her swollen abdomen as they stood there in the nursery he'd made. "Just us."
~ epilogue ~
Hermione curled her fingers into claws but kept herself from leaping up and yanking Cassiopeia off the broom that surely wasn't supposed to go that fast.
"She'll be fine," Draco whispered in her ear. "I have so many cushioning charms on that thing she could go head first into a tree and nothing would happen."
"If you say so," she muttered.
"I do," he reassured her. "Do you think I'd let any harm come to her, ever?"
Hermione turned away from their curly-haired blonde terror of a daughter to look at Draco. "No," she admitted. "You'd steal the world for her."
"I did," Draco said, leaning in toward Hermione to brush his lips over her temple. "'snot my fault you went and gave it to Æthel instead."
"It's what we both wanted," Hermione said, her voice low.
Draco took her hand in his and squeezed it. "I know," he said. "Peaceful lives for us and ours. Let the suckers in London deal with managing what we made. We get to enjoy a picnic and Theo and his crew get to sit in hot, miserable London and sort out the crises du jour."
"You use this word, 'enjoy'," Hermione muttered as their daughter zoomed higher than any toy broom should go. Cassie had a tendency to unwind charms when no one was looking. "What is today's crisis?" she asked.
Draco shrugged. "Something about increased potion ingredient imports risking currency devaluation. Do you really want to go up there and sort it out? You know how good Percy is at this kind of thing."
"I'll pass," she said. "They can handle it. They can haul me out if they need a Queen to march about."
"And they will," Draco said. "People still love you. You're the old magic brought to life, scary water spirit and all."
She held his hand tightly and leaned her head against his shoulder as she turned back to watch her little hellion, who flew far too well for a mere five-year-old, chase after Alicia Goyle as if the older girl had chocolate stashed in her pockets.
Which, knowing Alicia, she very well might have.
Harry sat at the nearby table with Greg, both drinking beer with the caution of two men who are trying very hard not to step on each other's toes. He watched Alicia fly with the hunger of a man trying to memorize every moment even as he said to Greg, "You two are such great parents."
"Thank you," Greg said, his voice stiff. "She's a great kid."
Hannah had put her foot down when Harry had moved into the apartment above George's joke shop. "You owe me," she said. "And this is how I choose to collect. You'll find a way to let that man be a part of your girl's life."
"She's my daughter," Greg had said, his voice scared and desperate.
Hannah had put her hand over his. "I know," she said, "and so does she. But you can let her birth father be a part of her life. It doesn't make her not your girl."
Now they sat, two wary men who would never be friends but who had found a way to co-exist, as Alicia dropped down from her broom to hug Greg. "Dad," she said, "can we have some money to go to town and get things at the joke shop?"
"No," Greg said. "You've got enough of George's shop in your room to start store of your own."
The girl pouted and turned to Harry he held his hand out in front of him as if warding her off. "Your dad said no, don't look at me."
"Awww," the girl whined, but sped off again. Greg handed a beer across the table to Harry.
"Kids," he said, rolling his eyes.
"They're great," Harry said softly, watching the chaos. Æthel had a troop of boys, some even old enough to be at Hogwarts, some of whom might have followed her home from there, trailing after her, Cassie was flying fast enough to make Hermione hide her face against her husband's sleeve, and Alicia had cornered her mother, presumably to ask her her opinion on the joke shop expedition. Based on the way Alicia stomped off she didn't like her mother's answer either.
"How're you and Hermione doing?" Greg asked.
Harry sighed. "She's… we're working on it," he said at last. "There's a lot to forgive on both our sides."
Greg nodded. "Hardest thing in the world," he said.
"I know," Harry said, watching Alicia. "I know."
~ finis ~
This whole fanfic, from the start, was structured around two questions I had: whether a Voldemort-type character could be a sympathetic protagonist and what would the personal cost be to an individual on the journey to take the kind of absolute power Voldemort was seeking. In chapter one Hermione makes it fairly clear she plans to exploit racial/class tension to overthrow a duly elected democratic government and install herself as a dictator. By the end of Book One she's well on her way to do just that, but, of her two best friends from school, one is dead and one has had a nervous breakdown, and she's lost a much-wanted baby in a gruesome and public way.
The economic scandal in Book One is loosely modeled on the Barmat Scandal of 1924/25 Weimar Republic Germany. The scandal was used by the conservative movement of the time, including the early Nazi party, to help its rise to power.
Hermione's campaign speech in Chapter 31 closely follows, to the point of including entire phrases, Adolf Hitler's speech on the Enabling Act, given on March 23 of 1933.
I used the Nazi allusions because Rowling has explicitly said Voldemort was modeled on Hitler and I wanted to keep that reference. Hermione, for all that she loves her husband and cares for her friends, is a pretty horrid person, in my opinion, in this fic.
I spent much of writing time of the first half listening to the musical Chess, and there are multiple allusions to that show sprinkled throughout the text. The most obvious is probably in chapter 23 when Hermione toasts her inner circle, saying "How straightforward taking over the world is when you have trust in your team." That's a paraphrase of the KGB agent in Chess, who says, "How straightforward the game when one has trust in one's player." I'd have included quotes from the CIA agent as well to avoid playing favorites between the US and USSR but he never says anything especially interesting.