A/N: I hope you've enjoyed this tale! Alas, I don't have the time or dedication to make it a detailed multi-year fic, as I already have an ongoing multi-year, multiple novel-length HP fic to keep working on, plus other standalone fics that languish unfinished. I hope you've enjoyed this story just how it is. :) However, I thought you might like some insight into how the next six years of schooling might go for Hermione, in summary form.
Thank you to Daughter_of_Scotland for sharing your thoughts on house-elves, and thanks also to the many other readers who wrote that they loved the idea of a house-elf/imp army. That part of the epilogue has been fleshed out accordingly so you have more detail about what happens with that particular plot element.
Thank you again to DarkQuartz who helped beta some of the earlier chapters – any remaining faults are entirely my own.
In second year Hermione was Harry's most steadfast supporter when the rest of the school turned against him for being a Parselmouth, and she dragged most of the younger Slytherins along in supporting him. It didn't help her ongoing feud with Weasley, however, who briefly turned against Harry too when he saw no-one but Slytherins approving of his friend's Dark talent.
Hermione grappled for the second and final time with a major challenge from within Slytherin, this time over her increasingly public friendship with the Boy Who Lived. One evening the seventh year Augustus Selwyn was publicly threatening her to act like a proper Slytherin witch and break off her friendship with Potter and giving her some "warning" hexes, and the very next morning he was smiling at her, pulling out her chair at breakfast, and generally acting like a toadying friend. No-one (except Theo) ever found out how Forneus had magically "helped" Augustus become friends with Hermione, whether he wanted to or not. The Slytherins didn't have any answers, but they knew enough to be wary of her ever after that. Pansy shivered and cowered, and Daphne had a public panic attack that had her sent to see Madam Pomfrey for a Calming Potion, when they saw the change in Selwyn's behaviour – acting like he genuinely thought Hermione was the most wonderful friend in the world, thanks to Forneus' enchantment.
Draco, his two hangers-on, and Millicent returned to being friends of a sort, of their own free will (if a little warily). Theo as her best and most trusted friend finally got to hear the truth about her other friends, and took the news very well, much to her relief. She even introduced him to a couple of them, and he took Andrealphus' squawked threats of dismemberment if he betrayed Hermione in any way surprisingly calmly. He also took some photos of her with her friends, using a magical camera (as Muggle cameras didn't record them), for her private photo album.
She never told Harry about her demon friends - he was too Light aligned. But she did share the secret of her own talent in being able to talk with birds with him, in solidarity. He was delighted to have that camaraderie of the shared secret that she too could talk to an animal, and she translated many sweet conversations with Hedwig for him. She didn't tell him about her ability's origin as a demonic gift, however. It was the same method by which Salazar Slytherin had once gained the ability to talk to serpents for himself and all his descendants. She did encourage Harry to be proud of his obvious descent from such an esteemed wizard – it was a noble line. Unfortunately, it was an argument that worked better on Slytherins than Gryffindors.
When she heard about Harry's confrontation with Tom Riddle's spirit in the Chamber of Secrets, she knew exactly what had gone on. Harry had destroyed a Horcrux, damn the silly boy! Those weren't easy to make. Poor Tom. Paimon wasn't happy to hear about his old favourite losing one of his precious ties to immortality, but assured her that he'd checked, and Tom had backups. She wrote to Lord Voldemort anyway – and had an imp (house-elf) personally deliver the letter to get past his rather comprehensive mail wards – to warn him that he'd lost a Horcrux. He didn't say "thank you" in quite so many words, but she did earn a promise of his favour. Along with his return letter he also sent a gift of an extremely rare tome of Dark spells which was enchanted to look like a dull book on the history of toads, to any curious spying eyes.
In third year Hermione with a begrudging sigh choose Ancient Runes and Arithmancy as her electives, giving up the other subjects up out of a necessity to focus her studies and limited time on the most useful subjects, as well as keeping up with her vowed extracurricular studies in the Dark Arts, geometry, astronomy, and music.
She bargained with Camio to learn the language of serpents, sacrificially killing a unicorn to fulfil her part of the deal. Her demons chatted politely with the lurking Dementors to distract them from reflexively attacking her – the Patronus Charm was too much of a Light spell for a Dark witch such as herself to ever master. The silly angel-blessed trusting unicorn just walked right up to her! It was sad, but it had to be done. It got her access to the Chamber of Secrets – her own private hideout in the school since Harry was oddly disinterested in returning there. It was quite nice once she'd made a cosy reading nest with a big pile of cushions, and had gotten her friends to get rid of the Basilisk corpse. Forneus said it was delicious. Camio meanwhile went on a gleeful journey of destruction with the power he'd earned from the unicorn's death, defacing and defiling sacred and holy sites across the UK that helped empower the angels he hated. If he killed anyone during his rampage, he didn't tell her about it, and she didn't ask.
She wasn't there when Harry and Neville followed a mangy black dog as it dragged Ron and his rat through a secret tunnel under the Whomping Willow. She only heard about it all afterwards, when visiting Harry in the hospital wing. His apparently innocent godfather had been kissed by Dementors, while the rat Animagus betrayer had escaped. Few people believed him – though Hermione did – and Harry's version of events didn't even make the papers.
Harry and Neville had only survived their adventure relatively unscathed thanks to the intervention of Professor Snape, who did his best to protect them all when Professor Lupin transformed into a werewolf. So heroic! She was proud to be in Slytherin. They were talking about an Order of Merlin for Professor Snape, and he was so smugly satisfied about it that for the last month of school Potions class was enjoyable for even the most incompetent Hufflepuffs.
However, with a broken leg the Weasel hadn't been as lucky as his friends at running for the safety of Hogwarts, and the savage claw marks on his back had his mother sobbing over his bed in the Hospital Wing about how her baby boy was going to be a werewolf. Ron Weasley left the school in the wake of the anti-werewolf paranoia that swept the school community after the revelations about Lupin's attack, never to return. Hermione thought it couldn't have happened to a better person (well, except maybe Parkinson). Harry said Ron was being home-schooled now, but frankly she really couldn't care less – she just mouthed the correct polite things and kept her thoughts on the matter to herself whenever Harry or Neville were around.
After the soulless husk of Sirius Black was executed by the Ministry, Hermione was one of the few who went with Harry to his funeral. In gratitude for her ongoing support, and in recognition of her love of helping house-elves, a month or so later he gifted her with one he'd inherited. Kreacher had held no love for Harry, but quickly became devoted to Mistress Hermione.
In fourth year Hermione had the best Defence teacher ever. He actually taught them the Unforgivables! And all kinds of other interesting curses, to boot. Hermione enjoyed being the teacher's pet in DADA – he said she was the only one he'd confided in that he was actually a follower of Lord Voldemort, who would soon be reborn. He secretively tutored her in Occlumency and spells to ward away the attention of angels and their Light allies, and obtained forbidden books for her to keep on how to make Inferi, and many other fascinating topics. Hermione didn't give him away, despite her worries about Harry being in the Triwizard Tournament. She firmly advised Harry to stay safe and throw the contest, but her Gryffindor friend became stubbornly determined to win. She did appreciate how he'd tried to rescue both her and Neville from the Black Lake, but she knew Crouch wouldn't let her be hurt. Victor wouldn't have let her drown either – she knew he cared for her, and the feeling was mutual.
Hermione's tiny Unseelie Court (as Andrealphus liked to call them) of imps, or her Army of Darkness (as Paimon preferred to call them) changed and grew as she took more house-elves in need under her wing. She also learnt how to safely send some willing volunteers "home" to the demonic realm – properly freed at last. Dobby was the first to volunteer – feeling the effects of being without a master, but wanting to remain free. Some who were sent there to live spoke of her in such reverent awe that they accidentally recruited imps eager to join her on earth. And so her followers grew in number, blending in with the Hogwarts house-elves who'd never betray Mistress Hermione, the saviour of the sick, old, and forsaken. While an increasing number of them wore a toga embroidered with the rune Hagalaz – H for Hermione, as well as being symbolic of dark, destructive feminine power and change – it went unnoticed. For the mark of a good house-elf was that they did their work unseen, after all. The rune was also similar enough to the Hogwarts initial on the crest to pass without notice.
Luckily for Harry he survived the Tournament – he even won it! And luckily for Lord Voldemort, the general public didn't believe a word Harry said about his enemy's resurrection. Dumbledore clearly did, however.
At the start of fifth year, Hermione transferred to Durmstrang to be closer to her boyfriend, Victor Krum, much to the scowling disappointment of her friend Theo. While Victor had just graduated, it was easier to see him from there than from Scotland. But that wasn't the only reason to move overseas, or even the main one. Dumbledore was looking at her with increasing suspicion, and her friends were starting to fret about her living under the watchful eye of him and his angelic-descended phoenix familiar. Crocell said he'd noticed the stink of angels around the Headmaster's tower. It seemed she wasn't the only one at Hogwarts who summoned beings from other realms – the Headmaster dabbled too if he thought the need was pressing. She'd always wondered how he knew so much of what was going on at Hogwarts. It was time to leave, before she was discovered.
Another attraction of switching to her new school was that a qualified and experienced teacher taught the Dark Arts, not just the deplorable Defence Against the Dark Arts class Hogwarts offered with its dramatically variable quality of professors. Draco had attempted to ingratiate himself with her over summer by forewarning her that he'd heard from his father that fifth year was going to be especially dreadful in regards to the quality of the teaching – Draco was planning to self-study. She couldn't skimp on her learning - she'd made an Unbreakable Vow to Crocell long ago to learn the Dark Arts. By now it was something she really revelled in, anyway.
Her stellar academic record with outstanding results across the board (but especially in Astronomy, Arithmancy, Potions, and Defence Against the Dark Arts) wasn't enough to get her into a school that was usually exclusively restricted to pure-bloods. But someone (whom people didn't like to name) caught and had a private chat with the terrified Karkaroff – his terrified former follower who'd tried to run off during the summer. The thoroughly cowed Headmaster returned obediently to his position at Durmstrang and made a pet of Hermione even more than he once had of Victor. While Durmstrang usually didn't admit Muggle-borns, after Karkaroff had looked at her genealogical research he decided that having a great-great-grandfather on her mother's side who was probably a Squib or a wizard would be enough to class her as a "half-blood" for enrolment purposes. Her ancestor had owned a pet owl, and Smith was a wizarding surname after all. It was accepted as sufficiently persuasive evidence of her ancestry, with his Master's mark burning warningly on his arm.
When she'd left for Durmstrang, dozens of Hogwarts house-elves deserted their former home to follow their beloved Mistress overseas – some were native to earth, others were not. Even with many travelling with her or freed to return to the demonic realm, there were still more than enough house-elves left to keep the castle running, so few noticed their departure, and even fewer cared. Most of her small legion of imps were set to restoring an old crumbling keep that Camio – the keenest traveller amongst her friends – had located for her. Long lost from the knowledge of man or wizard kind, the centuries-old wards on the property deterred any visitors from even noticing it was there, let alone being able to set foot on the land. But demon kind had no such bar to entry, and they claimed the long-lost hidden parcel of land on her behalf, as a birthday gift she felt unable to refuse. She thought it was very sweet that they wanted her to have a castle to rule from one day. Even if she didn't conquer anyone, she thought it was still really cool to have a real castle of her very own, and her imps were happier with a home and lands to tend for her.
Halfway through her sixth year (her second year at Durmstrang) Draco Malfoy transferred to Durmstrang, abasing himself and begging her to take him as a follower, and to intervene with Lord Voldemort to save his mother and protect his father. She revelled in his new humility and practiced obeisance, and he for his part appreciated the lack of Crucios and impossible missions, and the chance to simply be a student again. Her small army of imps helped move almost the entire contents of Malfoy manor to one of the Malfoy properties in France in a single night, as well as Narcissa herself. Lord Voldemort's irritation at losing a family of followers to her purview was soothed by her assistance in helping plan and execute the breakout of his people from Azkaban, and working with Draco and Durmstrang's Crafting professor to quickly repair the Vanishing Cabinet Draco had been working on slowly all year.
Sometimes she thought Draco had a crush on her – the signs were there especially after she broke up with Victor. But he never acted on it. She tried discussing why that was with her friends, but they were no help. Forneus suggested threatening to eat him alive if he didn't please her – it was a guaranteed way to get a co-operative partner without the need of spells. Paimon warned her that you shouldn't let underlings get ideas above their station, and advised she should punish him if he crossed a line. Her mother's sensible advice about maybe asking him out to a movie and seeing how things went was less terrifying but just as unhelpful – Draco stutteringly said that he had no idea what that was, and fled the conversation – and the room – as quickly as he could.
It was in her final year of school at Durmstrang that she personally killed her first human – a young wizard who'd caught her talking with her demons. He'd injured Crocell with a surprise spell, and bravely vowed to tell the authorities everything. Forneus "took care" of the body after Hermione had killed him. Karkaroff was warned that the boy had "run away", and obediently disposed of the boy's belongings and helped cover her tracks. He didn't dare do otherwise, with the brand on his forearm a constant aching warning from his Lord to stay where he was and continue to advance the Dark's agenda.
The demons ennobled her for her defence of them. She thought Lady Hermione had a lovely ring to it. Paimon and Crocell had actually duelled over who would get to do the honours of knighting her, and to Crocell's scowling disappointment his King had won.
After three years at Durmstrang Hermione graduated with top honours, glad to be out of school, and far away from the mess that Hogwarts had become in what would have been her final year there. Theo graduated at her side. Theo's father had transferred him to Durmstrang for his final year of schooling, despite his Lord's takeover of Hogwarts. Theo had missed her, and regular letters weren't enough. She also suspected he was growing jealous of Draco's presence at her side, even though there was nothing romantic between them.
Theo and Hermione eventually started dating – courting his father called it. A fresh tattoo was on Theo's forearm when he arrived at Durmstrang – she suspected Lord Voldemort had Marked him in petty retaliation for "stealing" Draco Malfoy away from him – but Hermione really didn't mind. She could always erase it, or give Theo a Hagalaz tattoo on the other arm, if he wanted to officially follow her instead one day. Crocell said lesser demons changed their allegiances all the time – as often as every couple of centuries – to follow the strongest leader. For now, Theo's Dark Mark kept his father safe.
While he obviously had his faults, Lord Voldemort was a powerful man, and an interesting one. His occasional correspondence with her was very illuminating, and she could tell he didn't really want to rule over the Muggle world, or he'd be a lot more successful with that agenda by now. His real goal was obviously more about winnowing out the angels' descendants and supporters from their midst (whatever their blood status), and fostering the Dark's agenda. She quietly suspected he might be more than a little mad, but that wasn't something very safe to talk about. Having some of his Horcruxes destroyed probably wasn't helping him stay sane – having bits of your soul annihilated couldn't be good for you. Despite that, she still shared tidbits of information with him whenever Harry confided in her (instances that had become increasingly rare ever since she'd moved to Durmstrang and they'd drifted apart). Lord Voldemort appreciated his young ally's gifts of demonic aid for slaying or terrifying the occasional particularly troublesome opponent (even though she stubbornly refused to send any of them against Harry). He just didn't have the way with demons that she did, with his more tightly controlled approach to calling demons only in highly restrictive rune-inscribed summoning circles – he focused on getting their help to improve his personal power, rather than gaining their active physical service. House-elves – imps – he outright scorned as creatures too weak to be of any aid, an attitude she didn't bother persisting in trying to correct him on.
They were saying now that Lord Voldemort was dead. That Harry Potter was the Chosen One who'd defeated him once and for all. She knew better – she was smarter than that. Lady Hermione had a stunning silver and sapphire diadem Horcrux that had been entrusted to her for safe-keeping by her ally that promised otherwise. He'd return eventually. In the meantime, it was her turn to have some fun.