Before we begin…A Note from the Author (edited June, 2018)
Casting the Stake is a fanfic of a fanfic. It's actually a The Bespoke Witch AU, written with the full knowledge of Glitterally (fka glittergrrrl05), author of The Bespoke Witch.
TBW is no longer available here on FFn, so much of the background information that would TOTALLY aid in comprehension of this AU (established by the entertaining and generous Glitterally) is no longer available. So, some of what might seem odd to a newcomer to the AU might hamper the reading of this fic. BUT. If anything is confusing to you, please PM me if you accept PMs back. I am happy to explain things, as I was in communication with Glitterally before I posted this story.
For those who HAVE read The Bespoke Witch:
This is not a retelling of TBW. On the contrary, this is an exploration of a What if…? that occurred to me (and others, maybe) during the reading of that excellent fic. In TBW, there is a great deal to be said about the Sacred Twenty-Eight, Family Covenant Magic, and other things that I know nothing about. In TBW, marriage among the pure-bloods is conducted a bit differently, and the courtship processes can be rigid…but exciting!
The Malfoys are the heroes in TBW, having offered for Hermione Granger in a complicated arrangement with Dumbledore. It is mentioned, though, that the Weasley Covenant identified Hermione as Bespoke for their family as well, but their stake was not cast unanimously, so they were not given precedence.
Besides, Hermione said, she looked upon the Weasleys as brothers. Every last one of them, from sexy Bill to the brilliant and playful twins. We're not even going to mention Ronald, okay?
In this AU, I'm changing things. (Alternate Universe for the win!)
Some of the chapters will be very short, especially at the beginning. Please make sure to pay attention to the dates atop each section as they'll jump around a lot. Otherwise, you'd be reading a story about family dynamics and awkward social situations before we get to any good stuff.
Not Really a Prologue
Undisclosed Forest Location, 14 November 1997
Hermione had been crying. Again. Harry felt his chest tighten with impotent anger at their friend—Was Ron even still their friend?—who had left them so abruptly. Not only had Harry himself felt abandoned, but Hermione, whom he loved as he would have loved a sister (albeit a bossy older one), appeared to be utterly heartbroken as she hunched over their small fire, stirring a bit of tinned stew. Her hair was pulled back into a fluffy, barely-controlled bun that seemed to emphasize her bloodshot eyes and pale skin. November wasn't kind to anyone, Harry guessed. He didn't want to look in a mirror, either.
The Boy-Who-Researched nodded at the text he was studying and decided they could do it. Besides, it was a full moon, so the timing was perfect. "Hermione?" He did his best to sound confident in the confines of their tent.
"Almost done, Harry," she said listlessly, sliding him a quick glance. "What're you reading?"
He smiled. "You're not the only one who studies, you know."
That earned him a snort. "Honestly, Harry. Just tell me. You sound like you learned something important." Straightening up a bit, she tapped the spoon on the side of the pot. "Well?"
He took a breath. This was important to him and he didn't want to screw it up. "Hermione. You know how I feel about you, right?"
Her eyes flared wide. "Er, Harry?" She couldn't meet his gaze for a moment and Harry tried to interpret her sudden, apparent nerves.
Then, he got it and chuckled. "You're like my sister, Hermione. Sister. Don't look so scared."
She laughed, then, and stood to grin down at him. "Well, yes. I love you like a brother, Harry. You know that." Spoon in one hand, she crossed the small space of floor to him and ruffled his hair. "And you need a haircut."
He rose, still holding the book. "And you need . . . a brother."
"Hermione Jean Granger, neither of us have a family, not really. We're children who lost their parents, who never had siblings. I- I'd like to change that. Make us brother and sister. For real."
She darted a glance at the book he held. "Is that what you've been doing?" she asked with a whisper. "Really?" As she met his eyes, hers were filled with cautious optimism that warmed him considerably. "Really, Harry?"
"Yeah. There's a spell we can do that would bind us as siblings. From names to magical signatures. Our DNA wouldn't change but—" He couldn't say any more as she threw her arms around him, inadvertently hitting him with her spoon.
"I've been feeling so alone," she murmured into his shoulder. "Since the airplane crash and my parents . . . and, and Ron . . ." Harry felt her sob once, hard, against him. "I'd love to be your sister, Harry James Potter."
So, that night over a small pot of thin stew, Harry Potter gained a sister: Hermione Jean Potter.
As he did so, he wondered if Professor Dumbledore had foreseen this, too, and how the name change and new relationship would affect affairs.
He also hoped Ginny wouldn't be upset; she had harbored a bit of uncertainty regarding his relationship with Hermione.
And if Ron ever came back, he would find that Harry protected whom he loved. Even against unexpected antagonists.