Chapter one: Unum
She supposed it started when she was a child, though, she never thought that term applied to her. From her earliest memories at the age of five, she could remember being self reliant. Her parents were often busy with their dental practice and attending expos and such, that she was often on her own with a babysitter who was more preoccupied with hogging the telly or ringing up her friends than entertaining a bushy haired little girl. That didn't matter though, she preferred her fairy tale books to any cartoon she'd find. And it didn't matter that she had no one in the way of friends, the characters in her books were much kinder and far more interesting.
Her first bought of accidental magic was at the age of seven, she remembered quite clearly- down to the smell of the dying fire mingling with the ever present scent of the old tomes and texts found in her father's study. She wasn't supposed to be there and if her parents, and not the newly single and angsty Rebecca, was there- she'd have her hide tanned for sure. But, she really hadn't meant to eat all of the cookies their cook had made. Her book had entered a very tense part and she just kept absent-mindedly shoveling the sweets into her mouth, despite the very strict policy her parents had on such things. She certainly hadn't meant to be caught doing so and her favorite book be taken away for ruining her dinner.
So it brought her to Father's study, where she had hoped to find the thing placed on his desk, or even on the mantle where she could easily grab it if she jumped from her tip toes. She hadn't expected to see it on one of the highest shelves that even Mother had to stretch to reach. She could have cried, and almost did, when it happened and the precious book floated down to her as if carried by some imaginary being. She remembered holding it to her small frame tightly and looking around with glassy eyes. And whispering, "Thank you", as soft as she dared into the empty air.
Things happened much more frequently after that; boils on a boy in her class teasing her teeth, glass breaking when she cried over a badly skinned knee, her celery disappearing into thin air after her parents tried to make her eat it. At first, it was a joke. A laughing way to blame everything on it. Oh, you can't find the keys? Must be Mia's magic. No traffic on the way to work? Thanks, Mia. Rebecca sick with the flu? Mia must want us to stay home. Then it got to a point where none of them were sure if it was a joke anymore.
It was a godsend when Professor McGonagall came to them when she was eleven, with an outrageous tale of a school in a castle- witches and wizards and magic. Then she started to explain things better and it all started to make sense. She could remember the cautious conversation her parents seemed to have with a short exchange of looks. They insisted she leave the room while they talked to the professor in private. Afterwards, Professor McGonagall gave her looks from the corner of her eye.
Ron and Harry had saved her from more than just a troll that Halloween, though she didn't realize it until later. They saved her from becoming so obsessed with her books that she just disappeared into one. As if she had never been there at all.
Her parents tried to understand 'her world', tried not to get too confused when she told them about the ghosts and the talking portraits. About the strange lessons she told them about; floating feathers, people turning into animals, mandrakes, pixies! They struggled to keep up, but never stopped trying for her. Though, in her second year the letters became stilted. When she came home during the summer she could hear her parents arguing down the hall when they thought she was sleeping. Tension rose in the house, though never at her, and she didn't even know why. Until they sat her down shortly before her annual descent into 'her world'.
It had been a sunny day, one that Harry or Ron might have said was perfect for Quidditch with its forget-me-not sky and marshmallow clouds. The warm breeze brought with it a sweet scent with the hint of honeysuckle, and she was able to catch the smell of it through the open window that blew the thin red curtains around mildly. But she wasn't thinking of the wind, or the perfect Quidditch sky, or even Harry and the trouble she and Ron would no doubt follow him into in the coming school year. She found herself sitting across from her parents, as they told her they weren't.
"W-what are you talking about?" She knew very well that her voice had come out loud and wavering, but she didn't care. And they didn't reprimand her for it.
Her 'mother' squeezed her 'father's' hand tighter and glanced at him nervously. "You were adopted," he told her calmly.
"Yes," she snarled uncharacteristically. "I understood that the first time you said it. Why, why have you never told me?"
As soon as she said it, she mentally cringed at herself. They hadn't told her because she was still a child. What age would someone normally tell their child they were adopted? She supposed her age of thirteen was as good as any. She tried to calm herself down, blinking back her tears that threatened to leave her eyes.
"We couldn't have children," her father, he was still her father no matter what, tried to explain. "That's when we found you. Or, rather, you found us. Your real father was bringing you to the orphanage just as we had made the decision to go, and you seemed perfect for us. You were just over two years old."
"Why was- why was he giving me away?" That was a stupid question, she told herself after it escaped her lips. It didn't matter why, the Grangers were her family.
"He loved you," her mother said. "He was trying not to cry and you didn't want to leave him. He told us there had been a major death and he was in no position to take care of you himself. It was hard to watch actually, him saying good bye to you. He asked that if we ever told you you were adopted that you knew he loved you and that he was always thinking of you."
She shook her head, the tears falling. This wasn't what she had expected when they told her they had something they needed to talk to her about. This wasn't how she had seen the day going when she wrote her letter to Harry that morning.
"Can you tell me anything about him?" She asked. "Or about my mother?"
"You look like him," her father said. "He had the same nose. He said your middle name was Elara, we changed that but we kept your first name."
Hermione Elara. "What was his name?"
"Lupin," her mother said, seemingly glad the she had calmed down. "He said it was Remus Lupin."
Hermione Elara Lupin. That was the name she was born with. She frowned, standing up from the couch and shaking her head. "I-I need space," she said. "I have to owl Harry or something."
Her mother stood up with her and pulled her into a hug that Hermione was somewhat hesitant to return, but she did in an awkward motion. She was the first one to pull away and slowly, as if in some sort of daze, turn towards the stairs that led to her room. Her father stopped her.
"There's a letter," he called, making her feet stop in place and she looked back to the old paper in his hands. Then she frowned as she took it from him, rolled up and tied with a red ribbon.
"It's parchment," she said aloud, rubbing her thumb on it. She pulled the ribbon off of it and unrolled it. "And he used a quill."
"Do you think he's, you know, from your world?" Her world, the Wizarding World. She supposed that was the better alternative to some Muggle parents calling theirs the real world, thinking of the Wizarding World as some fantasy. Yes, she did think he was from her world. She would by the parchment or quill alone, but together, yes of course she did.
This letter may never find you, but I have to write it anyway. I have to try at least, to explain. I love you. I can promise, no matter how old you are when you read this, that I am thinking of you everyday. But there are wolves in the world, my little love.
I have no doubt that by this time you will have learned of your magic, you may even be attending my old school of Hogwarts. And you'll know of the war that occurred. I lost everything in that war, little love. I lost every friend I had ever known, my home, and the only man I've ever loved. I couldn't take care of you, having no means, nowhere to go, no one to turn to, and I was too caught up in my grief. I'm sorry to have failed you, but I made sure your new family would be kind people.
I want you to know that should you ever want to find me, though I'll understand if you don't, I'll be glad for it. Take this letter to a man named Albus Dumbledore. He'll help you. But even if you hate me, know that I love you, and with all of your father's faults he must have too. You were the best parts of us both.
Love always, Papa.
Hermione didn't know how to feel, running upstairs with the letter in hand, shutting the door a bit louder than necessary, and leaning against it to cry. This morning, she'd woken up with a comfortable, heart swelling contentment at the feeling of the warm sunlight on her face- streaming through her always open window. She had known who she was, known more or less where she stood in the world, what she wanted out of it. Now she wasn't sure. She was still Hermione. No matter what the rest of her name was, she would always be Hermione, she still knew that much at least. But, she was caught between wanting to forget about this letter- and using it to find her father. Or rather, fathers?
He was obviously upset about having to leave her. If he wasn't, why bother with such a letter at all? She deserved to see him, to meet him, to know.
Her parents understood when she told them that she needed space. That she wasn't angry at them, and she still loved them, but that she needed to think about the letter and how she wanted to proceed. She hadn't told Harry and Ron, not being able to find the words in order to pen them in a letter. It was too much to explain any way other than in person, but felt a knot in her throat at the thought of sitting them down to tell them about it.
It was fortuitous that they would be preoccupied with Harry, and she was thankful to have something to do other than mope and read that worn letter again. Sirius Black, it was intriguing, she thought, that the Wizarding World would reach out to the Muggle World for help with hunting down a criminal. But then, she supposed if it posed a threat to the Boy-Who-Lived, there wasn't really a question. She wondered how often they did that, but no one had ever escaped Azkaban before so maybe not.
The night before they boarded the train, Hermione decided that if she didn't sit them down and tell them now- she wouldn't ever. So she, Ron and Harry sat down in a triangle on the bed in Harry's room so she could tell them. At first, they just stared at her with concerned eyes as she tried to think of how to say it. In the end, it just sort of fell out really.
"I'm adopted," she said. Whatever they had been expecting her to say, that wasn't it. She recognized the looks on their faces as close to when they had been faced with that giant chess board first year. Neither of them said anything though, and after a few uncomfortable moments of silence- she told them everything. Her parents and the letter came spewing from her mouth like pumpkin juice after a terrible shock. Her hands flew wildly as she talked, starting with the first sentence, and ending with the fact that he sounded to have been on Dumbledore's side in the war.
"I'm going to Dumbledore," she told them. "First thing when we get to Hogwarts, after the feast. I'm still not sure how to feel, but I have to know him. He may have given me away, but after reading the letter, I just can't hate him for it. He let me have a life, and I love my family."
"We'll come with you," Harry said, his green eyes boring into hers. "After the Feast we can use my dad's cloak."
"Well," Ron said with shrug. "It will be an interesting year for sure. Hermione finding her birth father, Harry having a murderous raving lunatic after him, a school year that will likely end with us running for our lives at some point. At least Hogwarts is consistent."
They fell asleep all in Harry's room, in a pile of arms and messy hair that made Mrs. Weasley shriek at the impropriety of it- even if there was nothing wrong with it. Hermione was in the middle, laying on Ron's outstretched arm with Harry's thrown over her waist and Crookshanks curled on top of her feet.
Then it was a rush of getting things together last minute and running through the train station, not stopping at the barrier. Merlin help them if they're late. Mrs. Weasley wouldn't let it go next year, and she was already insane on September first. So they all boarded the train just in time, wandering around in hopes of finding a compartment as the train began to move.
"Let's sit here," Hermione suggested, glancing down the crowded corridor with Crookshanks in her arms. "Everywhere else appears to be full."
Harry nodded absently and slid the compartment door open to find a man huddled asleep in the corner. It was strange, as they had never seen an adult on the train aside from the conductor and the woman that pushed the treat trolley. The first thought she had, was that she knew him. His face, though partially covered by the cloak he used as a blanket, seemed to strike a memory somewhere in the deep recesses of her mind. Like a dream. Or a dream of a dream.
Her second thought, was that he looked very tired and worn out as though he had had the world bearing down on him for too long and this was just a short reprieve. Though his face was young, it looked haunted even in sleep. His sandy brown hair was prematurely streaked with gray, scars played tag on his face with long, somewhat jagged cuts, and even the cloak that he clutched to himself subconsciously looked just as worse for wear as he did- with patches haphazardly sewn into moth eaten holes. She felt the over whelming urge to cover him up with something more substantial as that cloak obviously wasn't doing much for him at all, judging by the trembles going through his body that you almost couldn't see unless you squinted.
"Who d'you reckon that is?" Ron asked too loud, his voice filling the small compartment. Hermione nudged him sharply with the back of her hand and nodded to the poor man in the corner. The person in question stirred slightly, a small frown forming on his face and his brow twitching into a troubled expression.
"Don't wake him up," she scolded in a whisper. "He looks like he could use a good sleep."
Ron glared at her. "Who d'you reckon that is?" He repeated in a somewhat quieter voice.
She rolled her eyes and looked up towards where his trunk might be, instead finding an old Muggle suitcase just as moth eaten and shabby as his cloak. But that wasn't what made her freeze as though she'd been petrified again. On the suitcase were peeling letters that almost blended in to the rest of the material. Professor R. J. Lupin. She felt someone, Ron probably, nudge her to see if she was okay. But she couldn't move. She was petrified.
Lupin, that was the name she had of her father- the one that wrote the letter, that is. Remus Lupin. It couldn't possibly be the same one, could it? That went beyond even the irony in the Wizarding World. Did he know she was there?
She was brought out of her mind by Harry shaking her gently. She blinked and looked to him, trying to get rid of the dry feeling suddenly happening in her mouth. He looked concerned for her. 'Are you okay?' She didn't hear anything but the ringing in her ears, but she did see his lips form the words.
"What?" She asked once she found her voice.
"Are you okay?" He asked again.
Hermione nodded dumbly, glancing back to the letters. Harry's gaze followed hers and then he turned around to get a better look, his shoulders slumping in resignation at the irony the three of them were so often subject to. "Bloody hell. Isn't that-"
"Remus Lupin," she answered with a nod.
Ron caught on, looking to where they were staring with an incredulous look of his own. He sighed as well, as if thinking the same thing. Would they ever come to Hogwarts without something like this? "Think he's really asleep?" Ron asked.
"Seems to be," she heard herself say.
Harry sat down across from the man, she wasn't really sure what to call him, still staring. "He looks like you," he said. "Same nose."
The three of them sat like that, staring at him while the man slept without knowing he was the object of such scrutiny. Even in his sleep, he looked sad and sort of pathetic. He didn't move after their initial entrance, sleeping heavily as though he hadn't been able to do so in some time. None of them said anything as the train kept going, the sun steadily making its descent.
"I want to wake him up," she whispered, not taking her eyes away from him.
Out of the corner of her eye she could see both boys nodding slowly and Hermione stood on shaky legs, taking a step forward. He moved, and she froze- her hand stretched out somewhat in anticipation of shaking him slightly. Harry grabbed her other hand to stop her when he moved around in his sleep. She held her breath while he settled and went to reach out again. When the lights went out.
A shriek escaped her lips, the sudden darkness startling her. Harry's grip on her hand tightened and she felt new hands on her other, too warm to be Ron's ever cold and clammy palms. Her father's.
"Are you okay?" His voice asked, just as warm as his hands and dripping with concern.
"Hermione?" Harry asked behind her, spurring her to answer.
"I'm fine," she said quietly, her breath shining in the moonlight through the window.
It had suddenly got cold. There was a squeal of brakes, a jolt through the train, and Hermione almost fell- only to be steadied by her father. No, she told herself. You haven't even spoken to him, stop thinking like that. Daniel Granger was her father. Remus Lupin was just... her father.
A light shined from the tip of the man's wand as he stood up. His face transformed when he was conscious, she discovered. It was still the same face. The same scars, the same nose Harry said they shared, but his jaw and eyes- that were blue- were set in a very determined way that she sort of recognized as her own. He wasn't looking at her, as the door behind her opened slowly. Harry, she could feel his presence, went rigid. His body trembled and he jerked out of his seat to the floor of the compartment.
"None of us are hiding Sirius Black under our robes," her father spoke firmly to something, though she wasn't sure what as a sort of heavy depression fell over her.
He didn't even look at her, an insecure voice told her in the back of her mind- that oddly sounded remarkably like Professor Snape. He didn't care that she was his daughter, he hadn't cared when he gave her away either. The Grangers could have been abusive for all he knew, but he just handed her over without a second thought. The letter even admitted that he didn't think she'd get it. So why write it?
No, she tried to argue against it. He must not have realized who I was. His letter said-
He had to have been lying. No one wanted a bushy haired, buck toothed know-it-all like her. Harry and Ron were only friends because they felt obligated after her helping them in the first year. They needed her to do their homework, to know the answer when something tried to kill them, to have someone to laugh at behind her back. They didn't care about her. Her parents told her she was adopted in hopes of her leaving and not coming back. She was a freak to them.
"Papa, no go!" She tried to reach out to him, her short arms not quite reaching.
His blue eyes shone with unspilled tears. "I'm sorry, little love. I can't take care of you. I love you so much. Papa loves you so much. Daddy loved you so much. Don't forget, little love. Don't forget me."
A bright light nearly blinded her as a whispy, silvery blue mist formed a giant dog- chasing something away. Suddenly, the cold, the unwarranted thoughts, and that strange memory left and the man slammed the compartment door shut behind them. Hermione slumped in exhaustion, immediately going to Harry's side as he was still laying down passed out.
"Harry?" She asked tentatively.
"He'll come around shortly," the man told her gently. "Here, eat this."
She looked over to see his scarred hand holding out a brick of chocolate. She took it carefully, looking up with the scene she had seen still fresh in her mind. He smiled at her. "It's okay," he said, mistaking her look for hesitance and suspicion. "It's just chocolate. It will make you feel better."
"You're Remus Lupin," she said instead of eating it.
A flicker of something passed his face and he frowned. "Yes. I am."
Harry stirred, calling her name softly as he tried to sit up. Hermione looked down, handing him his glasses that had fallen from his face. She looked back to her father as Harry rubbed his eyes, to see the realization setting in.
He left after that, to speak with the driver he told them, but he walked away rather quickly. Hermione was fairly quiet during the carriage ride to the castle, and during the feast- picking at her food rather than eating it. She clapped dutifully when the headmaster introduced her father to the school, the new Defense Against the Dark Arts professor. It was just her luck. She wondered who all knew that she was his daughter. Professor Dumbledore, that man knew everything, Professor McGonagall, she glanced to Hermione during her father's introduction, and possibly Professor Flitwick.
"I need to borrow your cloak," she whispered to Harry on their way to the dorms. "I have to talk to him."
He nodded and she waited in the Common Room while he went to retrieve it. It wasn't like her to be out after dark, after curfew. She didn't even know where she was going, following her feet towards the Defense Against the Dark Arts classroom. Surely his quarters would have to be around here somewhere. Maybe one of the portraits would help her. Then, a light shined and she held her breath through Professor Snape and his sweeping robes, striding down the corridor and past her. Then he stopped.
"The portrait of the black dog," he said in a low voice. Hermione didn't move. "And ten points from Gryffindor, Miss Granger. Perhaps next time you should try not to marinade in body lotion one could smell across grounds."
Hermione's face burned red. She hadn't thought, wringing her hands in her favorite lotion nervously as she waited for the cloak. She didn't say anything, and Professor Snape kept walking. She hadn't expected that. He didn't give her detention. He didn't scold her. He wasn't even all that rude considering what he was usually like. Only ten points? There were lessons he took twice that from Harry within the first five minutes. But she tried not to question it too much, following his directions to a portrait she knew she had never seen before around the castle. A large, shaggy dog bounding within the frame happily- shooting her a mischievous look. She'd swear the thing grinned at her.
He opened the door almost as soon as she knocked, staring at her as she had already slipped the Invisibility Cloak off. They didn't say anything as he stepped aside for her to come in. There was a roaring fire, but with her sweaty palms it made the room seem too hot, too stuffy, too small. Two mugs sat on the coffee table in front of the fire place, a book laid open face down next to one of them, and overall the room smelled like chocolate and old parchment with some strange hint of pine. It was very comforting, despite her vainly wishing it weren't.
"I suppose this means they've told you, maybe given you my letter?"
She turned back to him, holding the Invisibility Cloak in her arms like an anchor to keep her mind from going off. "This summer," she answered his question.
He nodded, mostly to himself. "I made you some hot chocolate. I don't know if you like hot chocolate, but you used to."
So that's what had been in the mugs. She glanced back to them, nodding her answer. He went over to an arm chair, cautiously sitting down with a hand motion for her to take a seat on the sofa across from him. The air was filled with a heavy, suffocating, tension that made her try to take bigger breaths in order to breathe. But she sat down, stiffly on the edge of her seat with no movement to take the offered mug. She loved hot chocolate.
"How did you know I was coming?"
He gave a sad, nostalgic smile that wasn't a smile- his head moving somewhat to the side. "You're our daughter," he said quietly. "You didn't take as long as I would have in your shoes, but weren't here as soon as he would have been."
"My other father?" She clarified. He nodded. "What was his name?"
He flinched and she felt bad for asking, immediately wanting to take it back. But she couldn't, so she reached out and brought the warm mug to her lips in a hopeful sign of apology. It didn't matter. He didn't answer anyway.
"You're friends with Harry," he said. Hermione just nodded. "We were very close with his parents. They were my best friends. James used to joke that you two would get married one day, but your father always grumbled at it."
She remembered in his letter, mentioning losing all of his old friends. Harry's parents knew hers. They had known each other as babies. Harry, she knew, would definitely have questions. Her face burned at the thought of Harry and she together as his father had apparently teased.
"Did you ever plan to find me again?" She asked in a small voice.
The word seemed to echo, but at the same time it was so definitive. Maybe it was the feeling that imploded through the room with it, like the anticlimactic cut off in a score of dramatic music that just kept getting louder and louder before disappearing all at once. It hit her in the chest and made all the air leave her body in one short exhale. She knew it.
Hermione brought herself to her feet, feeling as though she might collapse. But she took a few steps. "I need to get back to Gryffindor Tower," she said sharply. "It's late."
She felt him stand.
"Wait, let me explain."
She didn't move.
"I wanted you to be taken care of," he said in a desperate voice. "And happy, I wanted you to be happy. I didn't want to ruin any happiness you might have had by barging into your life again. And I didn't expect to run into you somewhere. I never expected to see you again, but not because I didn't want to. I have thought about you everyday."
Hermione turned to him, her left foot still angled towards the door to leave. "Do you want to be in my life? Or are you saying that now because I confronted you?"
He took two steps and hugged her tightly.
A/N: Whew! Let me just say, that I LOVE stories where Hermione finds out she's adopted- usually being the daughter of a Marauder, Snape, McGonagall, even Dumbledore! In fact, if you have any such stories you would recommend, let me know in the towel section. Let me know what you thought of this. I like it, but I might be biased. Dasvidanya, Mia.
P.S. I am open to pairing suggestions with Hermione. I am between Severus Snape, and Harry. Let me know!