Disclaimer: I don't own these characters. J.K. Rowling does. I'm just borrowing them. I do not profit financially in any way from this effort.
A/N: Well, this here is a Hermione's a pureblood fic. If you know my writing, you know I take and get inspiration from reading other authors' fics. This one is directly inspired by Colubrina's 'The Muddy Princess'. In my list of favorite fics I enjoy reading, this is at least in the top 3 if not #1. If you haven't read it, go read it. That fic takes place Post-Hogwarts. And as I read it I wondered, 'Would Draco, Theo, and Blaise be different if, say, Hermione found out in sixth year?' 'How would a 15/16 year old Harry and Ron react to news Hermione's a Nott before the war really begins to get going?' This fic comes from those two questions.
But on the plus side, NEW STORY! Happy reading!
P.S. If the first bit of the chapter feels off, I had four pages written and overnight my computer installed updates and restarted automatically. Word did not save it. After trying recovery software and more I finally had to give up and rewrite it. I obviously didn't remember it all as the scene with Hermione and her parents was much longer as was the one with her father so if you notice a slight tone change, that's why.
"I'm adopted," Hermione repeated her mother's words. "Why are you telling me this now?"
"Well," Helen Granger bit her lip, unsure how to say it.
"Your biological father wants you back and we can't…we can't stop him, technically," Troy Granger answered her.
"The adoption wasn't legal," Hermione corrected him. "Which means I'm from a magical family, doesn't it," she looked her father in the eye, "What's his last name?"
"Nott," Troy answered.
"Fucking hell," Hermione breathed.
"Language!" Helen scolded.
She ignored her mother. Nott. A family of Death Eaters. It certainly explained why her father wanted her back. Couldn't let his pureblood blood be spilled because people thought she was a muggleborn. That'd be bad. Probably didn't hurt that she was best friends with the Boy-Who-Lived. She didn't know much about the Nott family. She knew Theo was in her year, obviously born the summer after she was born, he was incredibly quiet at Hogwarts, and he was friends with Malfoy and Zabini. Imagine Malfoy's face when he found out she wasn't a muggleborn.
A knock on the door pulled her out of her thoughts and Hermione stood, taking a deep breath. Troy went to answer it and Hermione saw her mother sitting down, wringing her hands. Her biological father entered the room looking quite like a wealthy muggle CEO in his black suit. Behind him slunk Theo, who was looking at everything in the muggle house with terror in his eyes. Hermione wondered if he was as bigoted as Malfoy, just not as vocal about it.
Her attention returned to her father, "Why did you give me up?"
"Proper pureblood women are virgins when they get married. I forgot the contraception charm and your mother fell pregnant. If it got out she was pregnant before we married then you both would have been taken from me and been killed to hide her family's 'shame'," he answered. "Giving you up to some muggles kept you out of the magical world and kept your mother with me."
"Why come for me now? No wait, don't answer," Hermione leveled a gaze at him, "You don't want your pureblood daughter being mistaken for a mudblood," Theo flinched at the word. "Well you're too late for that," Hermione lifted her shirt to show the nasty wound that traveled down the middle of her torso, "Your buddy Dolohov did that."
"He'll pay," he glowered at the wound. She looked at Theo, who looked quite sick at the sight of the still-healing wound. Where her father exuded confidence and bravado, Theo was meek and sullen. "Are you undergoing treatment?"
"Madame Pomfrey gave me a salve and potion to take."
"I'll get a private healer to make sure things are healing properly," Nott said.
Hermione leveled a gaze at him, "Were you ever going to tell me I'm your daughter if your master hadn't returned?" While his face hid his emotions well, Hermione knew the answer anyway. "You weren't," she said. "This is about looking good with your bigot buddies, not about my wellbeing."
"It's understandable that you hate me," Nott said with little emotion. "But would you really deprive your brother of a sister?"
Of course that was why Theo was there. He was their father's bargaining chip. After quickly considering her options, Hermione decided to be pragmatic. Harry and Ron would just cause trouble if she called them and her parents had no legal power to wield in this situation; she was a minor and he could just take her from the house by force. But her father had an image he wanted to keep. She wasn't afraid to use it to her advantage. "I'll come with you provided a few things. They're non-negotiable." He raised an eyebrow but said nothing. Hermione continued, "I want the Granger home warded to protect them from any harm from magicals. I also want it clear that Theo will never be forced to or permitted to become a Death Eater. It's bad enough you're a hypocritical bigot bastard. My brother doesn't need to be one too."
Theo's eyes widened at her words. Their father paused in thought a few moments before speaking, "Very well, I can agree to all of that. You need to pack your things. I'll put up the wards myself while I wait."
"I'll be faster if Theo helps me," she said. Their father nodded again and she led Theo up the stairs to her room.
"You can put my books in my trunk," she said, pulling an empty trunk from her closet.
"Okay," Theo said, pulling it to the bookcase and opening it to begin his task, "You're surprisingly accepting of all this."
"I'm angry, scared, and confused," Hermione said. "But freaking out won't change my circumstances. So it's best to soldier on and then when I'm alone I can scream into my pillow and cry and let everything out."
"Thank you for stopping me from getting the mark," he said. "I didn't…I wasn't going to have a choice in that matter."
"You're welcome," she said, removing her underwear from her dresser and placing it in her trunk.
"I didn't want to join," Theo added. "I don't…you kind of ruined that whole 'muggles are inferior' thing they always say. I mean, now I know you're pureblood but that doesn't really change the fact that you didn't know you were magical until you went to Hogwarts."
"How do you feel about having a sister?" Hermione asked, throwing him a conversational lifeline. So far Theo was nothing like she expected and she was curious about how he felt about all this. She wasn't the only one who'd been lied to her entire life.
"I'm thrilled," he answered. "I always wanted a sister. Someone to hang out with. Protect. Father wasn't around much. When mother died I was left to be raised by the house elves. They're great, but sometimes I just wanted another human who understood me." He looked at her, "How do you feel about having a brother?"
"I've always been lonely. I was too smart for my age, too bossy…other children never really understood me. Before Harry and Ron, I never had any friends. I never fit in with other kids so I always wanted a sibling. Someone who I at least had a familial connection to. Learning I was a Nott caused all sorts of negative feelings given who our father is but…the thought that I had a brother kept me from running," she answered honestly, managing to smile at him.
Silence fell between them as they focused on their tasks before Hermione asked quietly, "How did our mother die?" She knew before that Theo's mother was dead. Now she wondered how.
"She was sick," Theo answered, pausing as he swallowed thickly. "She died when I was five. I was by her side, sitting on her bed with her." Another hard swallow followed as Theo tried to control his emotions. In general he could, but his mother always brought up those emotions.
"What was she like? Like our father?"
"No, he's always been cold and kept me at arm's reach. She didn't. She was warm. She'd hug me, read to me, we planted a garden together. The house elves loved her. When she died he became more distant than before. More business trips. But for Draco and Blaise and the elves I was alone."
Hermione grimaced at the mention of Malfoy. Theo couldn't see as her back was to him, fortunately. Hermione spoke, "Theo, I won't ever be the perfect pureblood princess. I'm still me, whether I'm muggleborn or pureblood aristocracy."
"Thank Merlin for that," Theo sighed with relief. "Have you met Daphne Greengrass? She's disturbing. In fact, in Italy with our father on a business trip I saw a nun. I was amazed at how similarly she dressed like Daphne." Hermione laughed. "I of course found it hilarious when I found out what a nun actually is. Draco wanted to send Greengrass a habit but we were concerned she'd think it was a marriage proposal." She laughed harder at that.
"Draco Malfoy has a sense of humor?" Hermione asked when she recovered from her laughing fit.
Theo nodded as he finished up putting her books away, "You don't know the real Draco. You just know the one he has to be to keep his father happy." She raised a skeptical eyebrow and Theo explained, "He hangs out with Crabbe and Goyle at school because they report back on his behavior. Insulting you, mocking Potter….all of that keeps him from being punished."
Hermione gave Theo a sobering look, "He's abused?"
"Lucius doesn't hit him," Theo shook his head. "He's more about using words to wound or taking things of Draco's and destroying them in front of him. His mother is worse in some ways."
"Worse than Lucius?"
"Let's just say Narcissa thinks an appropriate wife for the 'last scion of the Black and Malfoy families' is Daphne Greengrass." Hermione's nose wrinkled. "And yes, that's how she describes Draco. She doesn't care about Draco as a person. It's all about continuing the family legacy and the blood remaining pure. He matters only because he can make her and Lucius look more important."
That gave her something to think on. She'd never thought much about Draco's family life. Really any of the Slytherins. Theo hesitantly asked, "Hermione? Do you think you could help Draco like you helped me? He doesn't want to be a Death Eater either. Lucius going to jail though is taking away his choice in the matter. Not that he had one to begin with but it seems more likely to be sooner rather than later."
Hermione gazed at Theo for a moment, "If I asked you to help Harry or Ron would you?"
"Of course," he answered without hesitation. "You're my sister and they're your friends. I'd even sit down to dinner at the Weasley house for you."
Well there was no doubt Theo, despite his kind demeanor, was a Slytherin. Emotional blackmail seemed to be a theme in that house. Hermione sighed, "Fine, I'll work out some way to stop Malfoy from getting the mark. It's going to be harder than getting you out of it, you know."
"Draco's been my best friend since I was little," Theo said. "When it comes down to it, he's the bloke you want in your corner. He'd walk through the depths of hell for his friends."
Hermione raised an eyebrow, "And what do you know about the concept of hell?"
"Learned about it when I was looking up what a nun was," Theo grinned. Hermione laughed.
"What's the house like?" She asked as she and Theo emptied out her bathroom.
"Big," he answered. "We have a swimming pool. Father built it for mother. She loved the water and since they couldn't live on the beach he had a pool built for her. We also have a library and lots of rooms."
"How many house elves?"
"Eight," Theo answered. "One does all the cooking, one does all the cleaning, one takes care of the pool, one takes care of me, one takes care of father and the others do shopping and laundry and the like. Though now you'll get one to tend to you."
She had feelings about house elves but she supposed she'd not pass judgment until she talked to the elves. Then she thought about something he'd said, "When you said that Daphne would think a habit sent to her would mean an engagement, were you being literal?"
"A gift from a man to a woman is more than just a gift in pureblood society," Theo said. "It's a statement of intentions. It means courtship and can even mean a proposal. So don't ever accept a gift from a guy."
Hermione's brain began whirring to life. If courtship was taken so seriously in the pureblood world… "Theo, just answer the question, don't think about it. Would Father be pleased if Draco Malfoy courted me?"
"Definitely," Theo said. "The Malfoy vaults are even bigger than ours. Everyone else he'd be suspicious just wants your dowry and access to the vaults." Then Theo blinked, "What are you thinking?"
"I get to not go through the stupid rituals of courtship and Malfoy doesn't get the mark. After all, I will never marry a Death Eater who wears the mark. Voldemort loves pureblood society. Given my connection to Harry, Draco could claim the purpose is to get inside information on Harry's movements and actions."
Theo nodded in understanding, "That makes sense. You'd be willing to fake a relationship with Draco just for me?"
"Like you said, you're my brother and he's your friend." Theo smiled at her and Hermione pulled him into a hug, "We have plenty to learn about one another. But I definitely want to get to know you. I'll even tolerate Malfoy and Zabini for you."
"Just as I'll tolerate Potter and Weasley for you," he said, squeezing her to him. It felt good, hugging his sister. Similar, in some ways, to their mother.
They finished packing up her things and they carried the trunks downstairs, Hermione glad to have a photo album to show Theo pictures of herself growing up. She hugged the Grangers goodbye, whispering to her father, "No matter what you're still my parents. I'll write when I can."
"Take care of yourself," Troy responded, squeezing her tightly to him one last time before letting her go, watching Crookshanks jump into his carrier. Hermione took one last look around the home she grew up in before picking up Crookshanks' carrier and leaving with her father levitating the two trunks out of the house.
Nott Manor was not as grim as she imagined it might have appeared. The house looked well-kept and beautiful. Not to mention bright with its white exterior. Theo seemed far more at ease now that they were on familiar ground to him and once her father deposited her trunks inside, summoned an elf, and then left on 'business,' Theo became a tour guide. He showed her the kitchen, main dining room, library, and other features of the first floor including their father's study. On the second floor he showed her his room, which was in the east wing, and then her room which was in the west wing, "We get our own wings?"
"Yeah," Theo nodded. "The third floor is Father's. Do you want to see the pool now?"
"Definitely," she nodded.
The pool was behind the house and Hermione had to admit the grounds of the manor looked gorgeous. The pool was in-ground, quite large, and the area surrounding it was beautiful as well, "Wow," Hermione said.
"Yeah it's really great," Theo grinned. "Do you want to go swimming?"
"I need to write my friends, tell them what happened," Hermione sighed and sat down on one of the loungers, "Theo, what happens now?"
"I don't know," he answered. "He knows he can't manipulate you. But if Draco asked to court you, I think he'd see his chance to make you fall in-line. And keep you here, too. Mostly he just wants you under his roof so he can play the 'good' father and look good to his master." Theo sneered at that.
"And use my connection to Harry," Hermione said.
"If he knew how to do that, he would," Theo agreed. "But he's hardly ever here."
"Then we should get our plan into action," Hermione said. "You need to talk to Draco."
"I do have a secret way to talk to him," Theo said. "I'll talk to him while you write your friends. Then I can show you around the grounds and we can bond. I want to know all about your life, even the muggle stuff I probably won't understand."
"Don't worry Theo, I'll have you enjoying the muggle world sooner rather than later," she smiled. "You'll have to show me this communication method you have with him."
"I will," he nodded.
Wording her letters to Harry and Ron were harder than actually writing them was. She had to be careful to not imply in any way that she needed to be rescued. The pair had a hero complex despite Hermione being the one to save their arses all the time. She made it very clear that she was settling into her new living situation and made it very clear that Theo was not a Death Eater, did not want to be a Death Eater, and if they were rude or ignorant to him she'd make them pay.
When she finished her letters she walked down to Theo's room, where he was finishing up homework. "I need to send these letters, Theo."
"You can use my owl," he said. "His name is Boreas," he pointed her to a dark brown owl sitting on a perch. "He's friendly. Mostly," at Hermione's expression Theo shrugged, "He's bitten Daphne and Pansy before. But they're the only people he's ever bitten."
Hermione handed off her letters to the owl, telling him who to deliver them to. Boreas hopped onto her shoulder and nuzzled her. Theo opened the window and Boreas flew to Theo's outstretched arm before soaring out the window. "Thanks Theo."
"Anytime. What's your cat like?"
"He hates Ron and Harry," Hermione said, "but he's always loved me. And he absolutely loves chasing gnomes."
"Oh good. Our garden has been overrun this year. Crookshanks will have lots to scare off," Theo said. They looked out his window to see orange fur slowly slinking toward the garden and Theo grinned, "The elves will love him."
With Boreas sent off with her letters to her friends, Theo and Hermione went for a walk through the grounds to complete Hermione's tour of Nott Manor. "Draco and I have these enchanted mirrors we can use to talk to each other. It's only for emergencies since You-Know-Who moved into Malfoy Manor but I told him about you. That you're my sister, you said you'd help him, and how you helped me."
"And what did he say?" She really wished she'd seen his reaction.
"He was stunned, then proceeded to apologize to me for five minutes for insulting my pureblood sister and hoping I wasn't going to take him up on a duel to right your honor." Hermione laughed. Theo grinned, "I let him stew for a bit before I made sure he was alone and I told him you'd offered to help him avoid the Mark. He was the most humble I've ever seen him. In fact, he's already asked to come over this weekend to talk to you."
Hermione did the math. That was in four days. "He's giving me time to settle in," she said.
"And to let word get around that you're my sister. Plus you have that healer appointment Father will set up for you."
"It would be nice to be rid of this ugly wound. Preferably without a scar. I don't want the reminder of the pain."
"How badly did it hurt?" Theo asked, taking her hand in his.
"The worst pain I've ever felt," she answered. "It still hurts, sometimes. Madame Pomfrey says that's normal of curse wounds. Doesn't ease the pain though."
"Do you want to talk about everything you've learned today?"
Hermione nodded and Theo led her to a large rock and sat down. Hermione sat next to him and he wrapped his arm around her, "When did you find out about this Theo?"
"He told me when I came home for the summer, so I've known about a week longer than you. I'll never forgive him for giving you up. For not at the very least getting you back once they were married. He made you a rightful heir. Had to. I told him if he didn't once I took the head of the family role I'd fix it so you'd be as pure as Astoria fucking Greengrass," Theo's brown eyes darkened and his voice grew harsh, "I didn't need another reason to hate him but he gave me the biggest fucking reason of all time. I'll never, ever forgive him for hiding us from each other."
Hermione leaned into Theo's arms. He felt secure. Safe. "I hate him too. I'm furious with my parents for not telling me I was adopted. Not even after my visit from McGonagall when I learned I was a witch. I feel like a bargaining chip of some kind and also like he's going to try and use me and it's so scary…scarier than entering Hogwarts for the first time or facing a basilisk or being attacked by Death Eaters…" Hermione broke, then. Tears of anger, frustration, and sadness flowed and Theo held her, rubbing her back and trying to just be the support she needed at the moment. That day was enough to make anyone's head spin. Even Hermione Granger's.