A/N – This story is a VERY low M rating. If you are looking for explicit smut, you are going to be disappointed. "Cheated" was the word one reader used. Just stop reading now and don't waste your time if such is also your feeling.
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"Adopted?" Hermione Granger stared at her parents' solicitor in disbelief. "I'm adopted? But no one ever –"
"The original adoption agreement specified secrecy until you turned eighteen." The solicitor made the hint of an unprofessional face. "As I recall, your birth parents had wanted the records sealed forever but we argued that wouldn't be fair to you."
"I've been over eighteen for a while," Hermione said. "Why am I just hearing about this now?"
This was not what she'd expected when she'd been asked to make an appointment to speak to the man. Her parents – her adoptive parents, apparently – weren't coming back from Australia. She had managed to erase all their knowledge of her and to give them new identities but there was no return from how thoroughly she'd wiped their minds and so she'd had them declared dead and prepared to settle what was left of their estates.
She'd assumed this meeting would be about that. Sign this bank form, release these financial records, your parents wanted this bit of sentimental property to go to that relative.
Not, oh, by the way, you were adopted.
She took the file as the man made some stumbling explanation of how they hadn't been able to find her to let her know about this when the records had been legally available to her because of course they hadn't been able to find her. She'd been shielded from Dark wizards, in a tent, and on the run. She wouldn't have been very thoroughly hidden if a Muggle solicitor had been able to ring her up anytime.
She opened the folder and flipped through it, not expecting to see anything other than the predictable story of a scared teenage girl giving a mistake away.
She blinked when she saw the name in the folder and looked up at the solicitor. "Are you sure this is right?" she asked.
He looked offended.
. . . . . . . . . .
"Adopted?" Ginny waved the waitress over and ordered another round. "Really? And you just found out now? I don't want to be rude, Hermione, but Muggles are weird."
"Oh?" Hermione asked, downing another shot. "Because there's no adoption in the Wizarding world?"
"Not really," Ginny said. "Not that I've ever heard of, anyway."
"Well, you've heard of it now," Hermione said.
"Well, yeah, I mean you're a witch but it's still a Muggle thing."
Hermione snorted and pulled the folder out of her bag and handed it to Ginny. The girl read it once, then again. "Are you shitting me?" she finally asked.
. . . . . . . . . .
Hermione sent off an owl the next morning. Just found out, she wrote, along with understand if you don't want to have further contact and won't be offended, just thought you should know.
Her brother didn't write back; he just showed up at her flat and she opened the door to look into the dark blue eyes of Theodore Nott.
She'd have expected him to look angry or resentful but he just strolled into her flat without so much as a 'by your leave' and threw himself down on her couch. "We need to do a paternity test," was the first thing he said and she nodded and began talking about making an appointment to have blood drawn and tests run and he cut her off. "Muggle," he said dismissively. "We can just do a charm."
He tossed her a book, one page dog-eared, and she read through the charm. All they had to do was cast it. White light between them would indicate full siblings. A colored glow meant varying degrees of consanguinity all of which the book laid out in a tidy chart. No light meant no relationship.
"What are you hoping for?" he asked as they stood ready to do the spell.
"I don't know," Hermione admitted. "You?"
His knuckles were white on his wand. "A sister," he said, his voice very low, "I'm hoping for a sister."
He got one.
The ball of white light hovered between them after they cast the charm. "Let's do it again," Hermione said so they did and then a third time and then he pulled out a bottle of firewhiskey.
"I came prepared to celebrate," he said. "Just in case it was true. But I didn't bring glasses so I hope you have some."
They ordered take away and began to drink and to talk.
He talked about their parents. They'd been married almost immediately after giving Hermione up, they'd conceived again right away, how in love everyone had said they were in that May/December romance, but also how their mother had died young, so young Theo didn't remember her at all, and how that had driven their father into himself. "He wasn't abusive or anything," Theo hastened to reassure Hermione, "just… distant."
He was in Azkaban now.
Theo shoved up the sleeve of his shirt and showed her his bare forearm. "I'm not one," he said. "Raised to it, sure enough, but that bastard died before anyone could Mark me."
She told him about her family, about summer vacations and ballet lessons and how excited her parents had been when she'd been found to be a witch and he watched her talk with a growing air of melancholy until she stopped and asked what was wrong. "You got the better end of the deal, I think," he said, the lonely child of a taciturn, withdrawn zealot. "I always wanted… not that it matters."
She reached out and took his hand and he let a smile chase away the memories. "Hermione Granger as my older sister, who would have thought it."
"Barely older," she protested. "Almost twins."
"If we'd been twins maybe they would have kept up both," he said, face grim again, "not tried to hide their little pre-marital mistake in a Muggle home where no one would find her." His grim expression turned into more of a scowl. "They had to know what would happen, that you'd be a witch, go to Hogwarts, be harassed for being a Mud…Muggle-born."
"It was what it was," she said.
"It was a shitty thing to do to you," Theo said. "If I'd known," he added, guilt in his tone, "school would have been very different for you. You wouldn't have had to put up with… stuff."
"I did okay," Hermione said. "Though maybe now I know why the Sorting Hat seemed so amused by me."
"Fucking hat," Theo said, "Should have put you in Slytherin. Notts always get Sorted into Slytherin."
"Oh, come on," Hermione said. "That would have been hell. Utter hell. No thank you, I like life just fine without having to constantly deal with people who care quite that much about blood status."
Theodore Nott looked at his newfound sister and began to laugh. "Oh, Hermione, I have some really bad news for you."
. . . . . . . . . .
They decided to meet for lunch once each week and slowly figure one another out. Hermione was braced against being asked to move to Nott Manor but Theo admitted that, not only had the Ministry confiscated the family home as part of war reparations, he was just as glad to see it go. "Ghosts, drafts, dark artifacts lying all over the place. It's one nasty trap after another. No thanks. Let the Ministry sort out all the crap."
"Are you…?" she wasn't sure how to ask if he needed money.
"Poor?" Theo asked and had to sit down on a bench in the park they were strolling through he was laughing so hard. Finally he said, "No, Hermione. I'm not poor. And neither are you. Richer than Croesus, both of us, even without that ancient heap."
"It's not mine," she objected but he rolled his eyes. There were things, Hermione had already learned, that it wasn't worth trying to argue about. She'd just not take any of the Nott money and he could go on insisting it was half hers and they'd both be happy.
Her various rights and privileges as a pureblood aristocrat were something he wanted her to take on and something she continued to insist were nonsense. "I'm your bastard sister and nothing else," she'd said the first time he'd brought it up and he'd looked at her mulishly set expression and shrugged.
. . . . . . . . . .
"Do-you-want-to-come-to-dinner-at-the-Burrow?" Hermione got the words out in a rush and Theo stared at her over the fish and chips he'd been eating at their weekly lunch. "The Weasleys," she said in explanation. "They want to meet you. And Harry."
"Your blood-traitor wizarding friends want to meet me?" he asked and flushed when her eyes narrowed at the epithet.
"Don't call them that," she said and he made one of those apologetic shrugs. "They're very nice," she said, getting worked up now, "and they know I was adopted and they know about you and they want to meet you and you and bloody well – "
He held up a hand to stop her flow of outrage.
"Done," he said.
She wilted a bit, all the reasons and arguments she'd prepared suddenly worthless in the face of his easy acquiescence
"Under one condition," he added.
"You have to agree to meet my friends too."
Hermione lowered her fork and regarded her brother across the table. "Which friends would those be?" she asked warily.
"Draco and Blaise," Theo said.
"No," Hermione said, frozen in her seat. "Absolutely not."
Theo shrugged. "Then I guess I won't be meeting your little surrogate family."
"That's not fair," she said and he smirked at her and she could feel herself begin to crumble even as she braced her spine even more fiercely than before. "The Weasleys have never done anything to you, not one thing, and they're ready to open up their home and their hearts to you just because we happen to turn out to have had the same parents and you're going to spit at that because I don't want to socialize with Draco-sodding-Malfoy."
She started to cry at the last bit of her tirade and wiped at the tears with a short, bitter gesture. Why did she always have to cry when she was upset like this, she thought. Why couldn't she just be coherent and controlled and calm? "Excuse me," she muttered and rose to escape to the loo to splash some water on her face and get hold of herself.
She hadn't taken two steps when Theo had his arms around her and, money tossed onto the table, was pulling her out of the pub to the relative privacy of a bench at a fountain across the street. "I know Draco can be a bit of a prat," he said and she looked up from the shirt she'd been busy sniveling against in disbelief.
"A bit of a prat? He called me Mudblood for seven years," she said. "He stood there in his house and watched his aunt torture me." She grabbed the handkerchief Theo held out and wiped at her eyes and added, "To be fair, he didn't have a choice about that bit. But he did about the schoolyard bullying."
"I can guarantee you he won't call you Mudblood anymore," Theo said.
"I'm supposed to feel better that the prejudiced arse isn't actually prejudiced in my general direction anymore?" she asked. "I'm supposed to take tea with him and let him say, 'Hey, sorry I called you vile names and thought you were scum. My mistake, turns out you're one of the elect after all. Of course, they're all still scum.'"
"I called you vile names too," Theo said quietly. "And you've forgiven me."
She hiccupped into the handkerchief.
"Hermione," Theo looked down at his feet as he talked. "I never even knew a Muggle-born, not one. You know what our father was like; he thought killing what he considered the lesser orders was reasonable and right and… how could I have grown up in that house and not been prejudiced? You aren't being fair."
"You've changed," she muttered.
He did that shrug thing and still didn't look at her. "Because I had to see you as a person once you were my sister, yes. Because I'm smart enough and honest enough to admit that if you're clever and funny and worth my time as a pureblood sister you were also all those things when you were Potter's Mudblood."
"If this is the way you plan to convince me to visit with Malfoy – "
"But you haven't given him that chance," Theo persisted and they sat there in silence as she refused to admit he had a point. At long last he added, "And they're all I have other than you. Our mother's dead, our father's in Azkaban, and the world will freeze before I go out with Greg Goyle and endure his idiocy on purpose."
"Pansy Parkinson?" Hermione teased through another hiccup.
Theo shuddered. "That's just cruel," he said.
Then, "Please, Hermione. For me. Give my friends a chance."
"And you'll come to the Burrow?" she asked him.
"Whether you come see Blaise and Draco or not," Theo promised.
"You're a manipulative bastard, you know that?" Hermione asked her brother and he smirked at her because he knew he'd won.