Hermione's mother examined one of the gifts her daughter had received by carrier owl. The very notion was absurd, and she wouldn't have believed it if she hadn't seen it with her own eyes. The book looked to be quite old. It was covered in a leather she couldn't identify and blank on the inside. If it were a fancy journal, Hermione could happily fill it up, but it wasn't. When Hermione touched the book, the pages filled with words and illustrations.
"It has a translation spell worked into the cover." Hermione stroked her finger along the dark green hide and smiled. "Such a clever gift. My Thuringian is rubbish."
"Thuringian?" Nigella blinked down at the books blank pages.
"The older magics haven't been updated into more modern languages. Most wizards and witches don't bother to study them." Hermione shrugged. "The benefit is they aren't traceable either."
"Traceable?" Her father frowned.
"Wild magic and the more modern spells are monitored by the Government." Hermione frowned and looked down at her hands. "They can take your memories, and Viktor says there was a group out to kill my kind not that long ago."
"I'm sure he's exaggerating." Thad plucked a large purple stone from the box in his hand. "Boys tend to play things up to impress their friends.
Nigella looked across the table at her husband. He continued examining the collection of stones and crystals. The loose stones were impressive, but they weren't some fancy rock collection.
"He's eleven?" Her father looked up at her. "Some of these stones look quite valuable."
"They're the left overs from a project. Viktor apologized that he couldn't get me anything better." Hermione chewed on her lower lip. "I don't think he's making it up."
"You think there are people that would wipe our minds clean and hurt us?" Nigella blinked and watched her daughter's tentative nod.
"When I was young I was sure the tree in my backyard was talking to me." Thad rolled his eyes. "I imagined little leafy creatures living in it."
"Bowtruckles." Hermione nodded. "Viktor showed me one a couple of years ago."
"In your dreams?" Nigella swallowed. Somehow none of this seemed out of the realm of possibility anymore. "Why did you keep all of this from us?"
"I'm not old enough to know." Hermione scrunched up her nose. "I was afraid they'd take your memories. If we had other magically gifted family members, we'd be safe."
"I'm sure they're out there." Thad smiled at his daughter. "Logic and genetics make it likely. Maybe we should shake the family tree and see what falls out."
"Great Aunt Lacey lived in the Cotswolds." Nigella set the book down. "She was my side of the family's oddest duck."
"Fond of doilies, was she?" Thad grinned and set down the box.
"No, she lived in a little cottage and would hand draw maps of the stars." Nigella frowned. "She was always drying herbs and had bottles of liquids up on really high shelves. Mum claimed she made the best cough syrup, but she passed on when I was fairly young. Mum might have some of her things. I don't think anybody else wanted them."
"So, this is all a ploy to get me to visit my mother in law?" Thad grinned at them both. "I should have known."
Thaddeus Granger hated his mother in law. He knew it didn't make him a bad person, but he hated the fact that he hated the woman. He was supposed to be the better person, but, when it came to his mother in law, he was as base as he could be. Elladora Villar was insane, not in a doddering, quaint sort of way with too many cats.
The woman collected fossils and skeletons. She articulated them herself. Each bloody one had a name and a personality to go with it. There was nothing sweet of kind about her.
"I must remember to thank Grandmother for the book." Hermione smiled from the backseat of the car. "It's fascinating to think about the influences of the Black Death on modern society."
"Yes." He managed the word with a smile. He rather wished his daughter played Ring Around the Rosie instead of thinking about the cultural significance of the bubonic plague.
"Mum is devoted to science." Nigella slid her hand into his and smiled. "She encouraged me to follow my passion for it."
"I'm thankful you settled on dentistry, Dear." Thad smiled. "I don't know if we'd have met if you'd pursued research."
"My mother is sure my odd urge to help people is a genetic trait I inherited from my father." Nigella rolled her eyes. "She married a vicar. Did she really expect him to take science as his center?"
"He loved to study the stars." Thad grinned. "He had that telescope and all those physics books tucked up in that little corner of the attic."
"The one with the window that opened." Nigella nodded. "I think he went up there to avoid Mum sometimes."
Thad didn't bother to agree. The better part of valor and all that. He heard Hermione humming and turned up the music.
The drive was just long enough to see his girls nodding off. He enjoyed the peace of driving as they slept. It provided him with time to think about the changes in his world.
"A study of genealogy on a personal level?" Grandmother raised her eyebrow and stared down at Hermione. "They're calling this science?"
"It's supposed to get us interested and make it personal." Hermione swallowed the horribly dry biscuit and forced a smile to her face. "Most of my classmates don't enjoy science."
"Most of your classmates are proof that devolution is possible. Your parents should find a more challenging environment for you."
"I'm sure they will." Hermione smiled at her Grandmother. The woman was intimidating and more than a bit off, but she meant well.
"A mind like yours should be trained and expanded." Her grandmother gestured expansively. "You're not slacking in your studies?"
"Never." Hermione took a deep breath. "I want to be the best."
"Of course you do." Grandmother Ella patted her hand. "You're a star. I just can not fathom why your parents are encouraging this nonsense by cleaning out my attic."
Hermione nodded and sighed. The shuffle of her parents feet in the attic seemed unnaturally loud. She watched her grandmother fret for a moment when inspiration struck.
"I think they're doing it for you." She looked up at the ceiling. "It's good space. You could display more of your collection or build a better workroom. Mum always says you need space to seek the truth."
Hermione strongly suspected her mother meant something less tangible with her words, but it soothed her grandmother. The woman was wound a bit tight and made the worst biscuits ever in the universe. There simply wasn't enough milk.
Phineas Black watched his great, great granddaughter work through the remnants of his things. She was a studious baggage, but that would serve her well. In time, he would be able to help her. The magic flowing through her was giving him strength. He could feel it in his pigments.
Viktor woke up and stared at the ceiling above him. The dark wood beams traced across the space. There was beauty in them. They supported the building, held it strong against the weight of snow and powerful winds.
Hermione had visited his dreams with tales of her family tree and a portrait of Phineas Black. He looked to his books and traced a finger along the spine. The tooled letters formed the title and author's name, Phineas Nigellus Black, Curses of Blood and Family.
His Hermione descended from a cursed wizard. He swallowed and looked back up at the ceiling. It was no longer enough to learn. If he was to protect her, he must be the best. There was no other choice.