I don't own HP. Wish I did, but I don't.
October 24, 2003
Hermione grunted as she shoved a stack of papers out of her way. What she wouldn't give for more storage room. Sadly, her little work space consisted of a small desk half the size of everyone else's. It was also stuck in a little nook that made it impossible to add many shelves or drawers for storage.
There were serious disadvantages to being a Muggle-born with only one connection in the Ministry. And while Percy was lovely, he was also a Weasley and only a few years older than her. Even with his father also recommending her they'd only been able to get her an interview for one of the worst positions in the entire Ministry: Requisitions
She spent her entire day at her desk, buried in pointless paperwork and unable to make do anything that showed off her abilities.
After all, how hard was it to check boxes and stamp 'accepted' or 'denied' on everything?
Besides, every time someone filled out a paper incorrectly and she had to deny them they hated her just a bit more. She was as unable to escape her reputation from school as she was her own blood status.
It didn't matter that she had gotten NEWTs in eight subjects when most only took five or six. No one cared that her scores had been near perfect. You would think her ability to speak French fluently, and hold decent conversations in German, Spanish, and Italian would be a plus, but not to the wizard that had interviewed her.
No, Mr. Lestrange had only seen a mudblood with no powerful connections. She still rolled her eyes at the name. How could you view a word as bad if you never heard it until you were twelve? Granted, it hurt to know others thought poorly of her, but they really were - in her opinion - just showing their own ignorance.
She bet she could beat almost all of her classmates in a magical duel. She already knew she could out think them.
"You look rather serious."
She looked up from the papers lying before her and twisted to see Percy standing between the wall and column that typically separated her 'office' from everyone else.
"Just lamenting my lot in life, as usual."
His lips twisted into an ironic smile, "We both do that much too often. Though, I do come bearing good news - of a sort."
He reached into his robes and pulled out a gold and cream envelope. While she was curious about the envelope, she couldn't help but admire Percy's robes with pride. She had developed a way to sew glamors into the patches on his elbows, thus allowing him to actually present himself well, despite his poor salary.
He handed the envelope to her and she pulled out an ornate invitation.
It only took a quick scan for her to understand what it was. She let out an indelicate snort and handed it back.
"I know you're between girlfriends at the moment, but do you really think it's a good idea to bring a Muggle-born as your plus one to a pureblood gala? Besides, how did you get an invite? I thought the Malfoys hated the Weasleys."
"Apparently the Potters and the Browns refused to make an appearance if the Weasleys were not honored with invitations. Besides, haven't you heard? My eldest brother got himself engaged to a Delacour. My family is moving up in the world."
She snorted, "I'm guessing it was really the Potters' idea, not the Browns'. And congratulations on your brother. I met Fleur when I went to the Yule Ball with Viktor. She was actually fairly nice to me, even if she is a bit spoiled and arrogant."
Percy chuckled, "Mum hates her. As does Ginny. I'm rather surprised you don't, from what I hear most part-veela have trouble with those competing for the same gender."
Hermione shrugged, "I guess I just wasn't seen as competition to her. After all..."
She gestured at her rather bookish and severe appearance; making Percy frown.
"You are being much too hard on yourself. Most wizards are just idiots. I should know, I'm related to at least three such morons."
Hermione giggled, "Charlie and Bill aren't idiots?"
"Oh, no, they can have idiotic moments, but they do tend to use their brains more than my younger brothers. Now," he gave her a pointed stare, "are you coming with me? You'll need a costume, of course. I am thinking something in muted colors, it will be attractive, yet not make you stand out too much. Merlin knows what the Malfoy's will do if they learn I brought a Muggle-born. I don't yet have the influence to get away with that. Unlike the Potters."
Hermione weighed the options in her mind. She really had enjoyed herself at the Yule Ball back at Hogwarts. Dancing was fun and she'd likely be able to get partners if she was in a costume. Besides, it would be interesting to see how such an event worked.
Plus, it would be a laugh to see the shock on certain people's faces when she took her mask off at midnight. Hell, if she played her cards right she might even be able to get someone to see the light.
"Alright, I'll go."
He grinned, "Brilliant!"
October 31, 2003
Hermione's fingers tightened on Percy's arm as they stepped into the ballroom of Malfoy Manor. She had to stop her jaw from dropping at the decorations.
He chuckled, "Outshines Hogwarts, doesn't it? The Malfoys have always been ostentatious. I think that's part of the reason Malfoys and Weasleys have never gotten on."
She gave her head a small shake to get rid of the completely neophyte look she knew was gracing it, "And you aren't ostentatious? Remember that ring you tried ro buy - oh, what's her name? Truly gag worthy."
He sniffed and pointed his nose in the air, it actually fit rather well with his hippogriff costume. He looked arrogant enough to be a Black. "There are exceptions. Oh! There's Mr. Crouch - he refuses to use a costume. I should greet him, let him know that I am here."
Percy began to steer them through the crowd, but she tugged lightly on his arm.
He paused a d looked down, "Yes?"
"Mr. Crouch is rather perceptive and he knows me. He also likely knows you are without a current girlfriend. I think it's best if I don't go over with you."
He thought for a moment and then nodded, "You're quite right. Why don't I meet you over by the refreshment table?"
She nodded and slipped off his arm. After he had walked away she looked around. She could see the dancers swirling across the floor not too far away, but there was no sign of a refreshment table. Not with all those leaves and pumpkins floating through the air, obscuring her view.
She was roughly bumped by a walrus that she highly suspected was her old Potions professor - Horace Slughorn. That man and his Slug Club had caused her endless issues. She sometimes wished she had taken him up on the invitation to join.
She grimaced and tried to move out of the thick of people, keeping her eyes open. She needed to either find someone to set her sights on or go wait for Percy and he could help her. She wanted someone from Hogwarts or the Ministry.
Maybe, with the mask on, she would actually get a chance to have a real conversation without someone asking how she could be so knowledgeable. After all, she was only a Muggle-born.
Stupid bloody prejudices. The entire Wizarding World needed to be cleaned up. Someone needed to poke the hornet's nest that was blood status. And if no one else will, then she would.
She heard a deep, dark laugh and turned to see a tall dark skinned man with another man. Both were dressed all in black with white half-masks. The tall one had to be Zabini. No one else quite filled out robes like he did.
That meant the shorter one was Scorpious Black. She grimaced in distaste before taking a deep breath.
Zabini would work for her plan. He wasn't a complete blood purist like Black. Not to mention she knew he was easily swayed by a pretty face - male or female.
And Hermione knew she looked quite fetching her homemade costume. No, it wasn't her appearance that kept the men away.
She took a step towards them and then felt someone bump her, she gasped as she was shoved into a hard body.
She looked up to apologize and froze as her eyes met pure, liquid silver.
All thoughts of Zabini left her.
November 1, 2003
She tumbled out of the fireplace and onto the small rug that lay before the hearth. Heart pounding, breath coming too fast, hands shaking as she dug out her wand.
She was grateful she could cast her locking spells nonverbally. She didn't think her vocal cords would work.
She was a bloody idiot.
What had happened to her plan?
Hell, what had happened to Percy?
What had she been thinking!? Spending her time talking, dancing, and-and kissing! A French wizard who had never been to Hogwarts likely held no power in the UK!
How could she change anything if she was so weak as to let her emotions get the best of her! People were counting on her, even if they didn't know it. The Creevy brothers, who loved magic so much, forced to find employment in the muggle world.
Dean and Seamus, who spoke of how hard their parents had it. Dean's father a wizard that married a witch; Seamus' mother a witch that married a wizard. Both had struggled growing up, their parents facing discrimination for daring to marry a muggle.
And so many others.
The discrimination needed to be acknowledged! It had to be pulled, screaming out into the light. How could anyone fight the problem when people refused to accept that there was one?
And she'd screwed up her chance to sway someone with clout and connections to her side.
All because of a pair of silver eyes and a voice like rough silk that kept whispering smooth French in her ears. A man so sure of himself he'd come as a peacock. The arrogance and audacity of him, taking up every dance on her card. For half a second she'd assumed that Ronald had somehow figured out or heard who his brother was taking. If he'd told Lavender, who Hermione could see bribing or hiring someone to make a fool of her.
She lay back on the rug and looked up at her cracked ceiling.
And, to make it even worse, she'd panicked there at the end. He had to be a pureblood. Or else a very well-to-do half-blood. He had even said his father was important.
She didn't want to see disbelief or possible scorn when she took off her mask and revealed her name.
He'd ask if she was related to Hector Dagworth-Granger and she'd have to say no. Then his face would fill with disbelief - quickly followed by scorn.
She couldn't let such a lovely night end that way. Even if she'd already screwed up her plans.
So, she had taken the coward's way and run.
Though, she had to admit she had told him enough he could discover who she was. After all, not many girls had been in the same year as Harry and in Gryffindor House. And, if he was paying attention he would know exactly what classes she had taken at NEWT level.
BUT, he would learn her blood status long before he found her. She wouldn't have to see those delicious lips thin into a nasty scowl. She wouldn't have to once again convince herself that growing old alone, with only Crookshanks, was perfectly acceptable as long as she made a difference in the world.
She reached up and touched her own lips. Her fingers traced them as she remembered how it had felt to have his moving against hers.
A loud "Mrrow," cut through her memories from earlier that evening. She reached over and felt Crookshanks rub his head against her hand, demanding attention.
She sat up and pulled him into her arms, burying her nose in his fur and taking a deep breath to chase away the urge to cry.
Sometimes she wished the world was different.
November 3, 2003
Hermione came to work early enough on Monday that she encountered no one but the janitorial staff on the way to her cramped little desk.
She pulled out her mug, cast a quick cleaning charm on it, and prepared herself a nice cup of tea.
She moaned in delight as soon as she took the first sight.
"That is a delightful sound. Do you think I could take the place of that mug?"
She jumped and almost spilled her tea everywhere as smooth, delightfully silky French slipped through her little corner.
She looked up in shock to see a tall and elegantly dressed man standing between the wall and the column. Not two feet away from her. His blonde hair gleamed almost as silver as his eyes in the harsh Ministry lighting.
She felt her mouth grow dry as she tried to form words. She turned beet red when all she managed was a squeaky, "What?"
He looked even more delicious than he had a few days before. Granted, this time she could actually see his face.
"You, know, Miss Cat, you weren't terribly hard to identify, though I can't say the same for finding you. My uncle – he's a piece of work – laughed in my face when I said I was looking for you. Asked if you were a good lay. I decided to ignore all Ministry employees after that and go back to people you went to Hogwarts with.
It took quite a bit to convince Potter I meant you no harm before he admitted his fiancée's brother was good friends with you. Good enough to actually know where you live and also where the Ministry keeps you hidden away. Funny that only Percy Weasley cares enough about you - I'm beginning to wonder if everyone in Britain has empty space between their ears. Mr. Weasley was quick to give up the location of your office, if not your flat, once I convinced him I truly didn't care if you were pureblood, Muggle-born, or a house elf in disguise. Though, I was surprised you are Muggle-born. To hear my father talk, Muggle-borns never become truly accustomed to the Magical World. Granted, my father says a lot of bullshit. At Beauxbatons there's an optional two week camp before the first year. It goes over wizarding customs and magical dangers. I didn't become close friends with any Muggle-borns there, but the few I knew took the course. During your last two years there you could volunteer to mentor anywhere from one to three first-year students. I did if my last year, once I got my head out of my arse and realized I wasn't above that. A true learning experience, helping an eleven-year old Muggle-born navigate a magical school. Never did tell my parents I did that."
She gaped at him, but he continued.
"I'm afraid I'm a bit out of touch with the British Wizarding World. I attended Beauxbatons rather than Hogwarts, and I've spent the past few years either studying or traveling abroad. Oh, I do apologize," he switched over to flawless English and she gaped even more, "I mislead you with my French. I've been only speaking it regularly since I was eleven. Last Friday I found it amusing to pretend I was French. With my coloring I can be rather easily identifiable. But, what I am trying it convey to you is that I not realized just how, well…" he paused and looked around at her cramped little space. At the mountains of paperwork on her desk and the ragged, almost dilapidated furniture, "problematic my country has become. I've had some time to think since I met with your friend, Mr. Weasley, on Saturday. I used to wish I had gone to Hogwarts, I always knew I would be a Slytherin. But I find I am very grateful I did not. For I fear I would be quite like my cousin, Scorpious Black, if I did so. And if that thought doesn't give me nightmares, I don't know what would. Now, when I decided to look for you I was determined to find out why you ran, but upon further consideration and gathering more information I can make a fair deduction." He stared at her, and she couldn't decide if she wanted to squirm in her seat like a naughty school girl or cross the small space and take up where they had left off last.
He searched her face and then gave a small smirk and took a step forwards, making the air leave her lungs in a sudden rush.
It felt like all the air disappeared and her heartrate sped up. She was caught, trapped in those deep silver pools. She shivered when his hand touched hers. He gently took the mug of tea out of her grasp and set it on the table before pulling her up.
They were standing so close that she brushed against him with every breath.
"Now," he whispered in French against her ear, "I know you have work to do. So, much as I want to, I shall not continue where we left off. I will, however, ask you if you are free this evening. For dinner."
He pulled back until their eyes were once again locked.
For a moment she seriously considered forgetting about her job. About throwing the past five years of her life away. It wasn't like she was appreciated. She could honestly understand why Harry's mother had first been a housewife and then gone to work in her husband's store. It was hard to work in a place that didn't care about you.
No, she couldn't make a decision like that so suddenly.
But, she did know she could do one thing. She could do dinner.
"Yes," she whispered right before she gave into temptation and stood up on her tiptoes.
Their lips touched and the world disappeared. There was nothing but him.
Why had she run from this?
She was a bloody idiot.
She broke away from him with a gasp. Dread pooling in her stomach as she realized who had interrupted them.
"We do not pay you to lock lips, Miss Granger."
Her peacock – she realized she had yet to learn his name – did not turn around at Madam Umbridge's words. Rather, he pulled back a bit and pulled an elegant gold little pocket watch out of his robes. After checking the time he snapped it closed and turned to face the fat, pink toad standing right outside the entrance to Hermione's back corner (she didn't quite fit between the wall and column).
He kept one arm wrapped around Hermione and she was amazed to see a pleasant smile on his face.
"Ah, pardon me, mademoiselle. You see, my watch must be off. It says my dear Hermione still has a good five minutes until her shift starts. I was just making arrangements for dinner tonight. As I shall be busy all day and unable to send her a message."
Umbridge's lips pursed and her eyes narrowed as she pulled herself up to her full – if miniscule – height.
"Sir, it does not matter if Miss Granger's shift has not yet begun. She is on Ministry property and such displays are not tolerated here. I'm afraid I shall have to write her up for this."
The dread in her stomach became a lead ball. No! She couldn't lose this job! She couldn't change anything if she wasn't in the wizarding world! She'd already looked into other ways to support herself. But she didn't have the capital or charisma to start a business. Not unless she-
Hermione cursed herself as an idea popped into her head. True, she didn't have the capital, but if she started a business that served both magical and muggle folks…and her peacock's talk of optional camps before school gave her an idea.
She could get a loan.
She could use her heritage to succeed, rather than letting it hold her back.
Why had she let fear control her for so long? Maybe she'd just become too set in her ways. Too worried of losing what little she had.
Well, hell, if all else failed she'd move to France. From what her Peacock had said she wouldn't face as many issues there.
And, she did speak French.
The toad looked back at Hermione and smiled sweetly, "This will be your third write-up, will it not, Miss Granger? I'm afraid that is unacceptable in a Ministry employee. You should-"
The lead ball felt as if it exploded. Anger coursed through Hermione. How!? How could this nasty little woman ruin one of the best moments in Hermione's life?
She yanked away from her peacock and pulled out her wand in one smooth movement.
Umbridge's eyes widened in fear when she realized the wand was pointing straight at her.
"Oh, shut up, you nasty little toad. So, you want to fire me? Guess what? I quit. I'm done working in this little corner, breathing stale air and risking death by paperwork. All for a pittance of a salary and no appreciation. You know just as much as I do that I often come in early and stay late. That every single one of those write-ups was fabricated. Besides, you know Mr. Lestrange's bloody bitch of a wife comes in and does quite a bit more than 'lock lips' on Ministry time. So just shut your bloody mouth and get out of my way."
Hermione turned back towards her desk and summoned her purse, as well as the few personal items she kept there. She grinned when her mug dumped tea over all the requisition forms on her desk. She snickered when her little lap blanket hit the tallest tower of paperwork and sent it falling down in a disorganized mess.
She almost lost control of her magic when her peacock reached out with one elegant hand and tipped over the other three piles.
"Oops," he said unapologetically.
"WHY-! You can't DO that! I'll-I'll have you arrested!" Umbridge screeched.
Hermione slipped her purse over her shoulder and moved towards the nasty woman – who was now hopping around like the toad she looked like.
Something pricked Hermione's memory when her peacock took her hand. He'd said his coloring was very recognizable, and she only knew of two pureblood British families with hair that light.
She rather doubted he was a Lovegood.
"You're Draco Malfoy, aren't you?"
He grinned and gave her hand a squeeze, "I should have known you'd figure it out."
Umbridge gave an extremely loud and horrified gasped as she realized who had been kissing Hermione.
Her peacock, no, Draco, snickered and stopped right in front of Umbridge. "I see you're rather terrified to find out exactly what I'll do since you fired Hermione here. You know who I am and who my family is. Perhaps it will make you feel better to know that I won't raise a hand or a word against you."
Umbridge relaxed a bit and Draco snickered again.
"Oh, don't get comfortable. You see, I plan to fully support Hermione in anything and everything she does. Now, I've only known her for a few days now - and I know you've known her for years - but I just can't see her letting bygones be bygones. So, if I were you, I'd be afraid. Very afraid."
Hermione couldn't help it, she threw her arms around Draco's neck and 'locked lips' with him once more.
By the time they came up for air she was entirely convinced that she was making the right decision. Maybe this thing with Draco would last forever. Maybe it would last a week. Either way, she'd figure something out that made her happy and satisfied with life.
After all, she wasn't a tree. She had two good feet and a brilliant – if slightly bossy – mind.
She could do whatever the hell she wanted.
October 31, 2016
"You know, sometimes I miss the old masquerades," Draco said wistfully as he looked around the empty ballroom.
"We did have a rather glorious first meeting here, didn't we?" Hermione asked as she slipped her arms around his waist.
"Too true, Miss Cat," he said as he reached up and played with the magical cat ears stuck in her hair.
She leaned back and poked him, "That's Mrs. Cat now, Monsieur Peacock. It's been over ten years, and yet you can't even manage to get that right."
He snickered and leaned down to kiss her.
She moaned and melted into his embrace. He buried a hand in her thick, lovely curls and pulled her closer.
They pulled apart slowly and glanced over at the doorway.
Standing there were two of the three most important people in Hermione's life.
"Mum!" Adhara whined, stomping her little foot - she certainly acted exactly like the princess she was dressed as. "We're going to be late! And you know Lucy will never let me forget it if we're late to our last Halloween Festival before Hogwarts!"
Rigel nodded and stated firmly, "Uncle Percy said we hafta be there at three sharp."
"Have to," Hermione corrected him absently as she slipped out of her husband's arms.
It took less than five minutes to make sure they had everything and then they were flooing to one of Hermione's favorite spots in the world - her school.
Mosscairn School for Elementary Magical Education.
It had taken a lot of work – both magical and muggle – to get it going. She been able to get funding from a muggle bank as most of the first students were muggleborn. She'd registered the school without the magical part of its name in the muggle world. Headmaster Dumbledore had been unwilling to disclose how Hogwarts identified magical children, so she'd had to come up with her own way. That had added a few months onto the preparation time.
Apparently Professor McGonagall had almost had a heart attack the first time she'd taken a letter to a Muggle-born only to discover the child had known about magic for two years already and was quite looking forward to their letter.
When Muggle-borns started excelling in their Hogwarts classes, even when they weren't geniuses like Hermione, the death threats had started.
That was the first time Draco had played a major part. Before he'd always stood off to the side, offering support and listening as she ranted about 'bloody, prejudiced idiots', but only doing what she asked. This time he hadn't even consulted her. He'd taken every single nasty letter and cursed item – especially the ones sent to current and former students of Mosscairn – and stormed the Ministry. He had raised such a storm that non-Ministry employees had begun to arrive just to witness it.
And then Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy had arrived and thrown their own voices into the mix. They may not have approved of Draco marrying a Muggle-born, but once that ring was on Hermione's finger she was family. No one got away with attacking their family. Especially when she seven months pregnant with their grandchild.
Never before had the Ministry worked so quickly to discover those harassing and attacking someone through letters.
That was when the school had gained its first private backers. Lily Potter had pinched, prodded, and bullied her husband and his friends into helping fund and support the school. Harry had applied to join her teaching staff after his first son was born.
With the funding they'd been able to turn the school from a small academy young magical children attended after their normal school to a full blown school. Children started at six and came for four to six hours a day. They learned everything from counting to broomstick riding. No student started Hogwarts without knowing the difference between slicing and dicing potions ingredients. None of them felt so unsteady and unsure that they would do anything to prove themselves.
Hermione had almost fainted in shock when Lavender and Ronald arrived to enroll their daughter in the school. Little Rose Weasley had been the first pureblood to attend Mosscairn, but certainly not the last.
"Ah, there you are! Adhara, Rigel, you'll find the other children in the maths classroom. Mrs. Scamander is telling stories of her recent travels," Percy said as he approached, a clipboard in his hands and a tiger mask hanging from one arm.
Adhara and Rigel raced off to join their friends and Hermione couldn't help but feel her heart squeeze in happiness.
"Now, I have everything put together, but there are a few more things that need your personal touch, Hermione. We still have a good two hours until most of the student body appears, plenty of time," Percy stated, handing her the clipboard.
She got to work, digging into the work she loved and the students she had dedicated a large part of her life to. All the while, Draco's hand rested on the small of her back, offering his love and support.
Hours later, when the festival was over and the children asleep she brought him down to the ballroom. With a wave of her wand music started playing and she smiled up at him as the little cat ears on her head twitched in time to the tune. She held out her hand, an empty dance card hanging from it.
"Dance with me?"
Author's Note: Alright, so no Moldypants means no Wizarding War and the blood issues coming to the forefront. Think of it as something everyone knows is happening, but no one is touching. It's not getting worse, but it isn't getting better either. That's the world this Hermione entered. She also never had the troll incident to bond her with Ron and Harry. Remember what she was like at the beginning of book 1? I'm sure gaining Percy as a bit of a mentor and then, later, a friend, helped, but it certainly did not make her life easy.
I hope you enjoyed this little fic. If so, leave a review, because those are what fuel me when I decide to spend an evening writing rather than reading or playing a computer game (I have too many good games on Steam).