A/N: Hello again! Welcome to my second ever fan-fic! This story is ridiculously long, and will be dark in a few places, but I hope you all love it. The over all length of this fic will be roughly 250k, and the chapters between 5-8k each. I will post warnings when necessary. I'm super proud of this, its turned into a monster of a story and I hope you enjoy it! The first chapter might throw you off a bit, but it is a Dramione fic! Trust me!
Disclaimer: Harry Potter does not belong to me.
Hermione had never been more proud of her best friends than when they graduated from auror training. She waved at Ron and Harry from her seat, right next to Ginny and the rest of the Weasley family. This was everything they wanted. She was happy they went into training together, they were always stronger together. They had graduated top of their class, with help from Hermione of course. She thought back to all the long nights they spent in their flat going over notes and preparing for tests. They always aced the practical exams, but she knew they'd always struggled on written examinations. She couldn't understand why, they were so relaxing. That feeling you get when you write down that correct answer... she couldn't believe no one else felt that way.
The ceremony finished with a speech from Minister Shaklebolt. He spoke about how new changes to the program allowed for only the top candidates to be chosen to even move on to final examinations. Thorough background checks and multiple interviews were conducted to ensure only the loyal and the most deserving were able to call themselves aurors. It was a very moving speech, Hermione thought.
They were all to meet for lunch afterwards, so Ginny and Hermione went hand in hand to find the boys. They searched the crowd for a few minutes when Ron came up behind Hermione and spun her around by her waist. She laughed and when he put her down she turned to kiss him. "Ron! I'm so proud of you!"
Harry came up to Ginny and gave her a quick kiss, noticing the rest of the family coming up behind her. Everyone started talking at once. It was so Weasley, Hermione thought. She loved being a part of a big family.
They all apparated to the Leaky Cauldron. A huge table in the back had been reserved for them, along with Neville and Luna. She'd always wondered why they never got together. They acted so much like a couple. He even had a room at her flat.
They sat right next to Hermione. "Hey Neville, hi Luna."
"Hey." Said Neville as he sat.
"Hello, Hermione. Wonderful day. Where's Ron and Harry?"
She looked around. "Oh, probably got snagged away by someone, I'm sure. Big day for them."
Finally Ron came and sat next to Hermione. He held her hand under the table, she liked that. They all ate, then Arthur stood and toasted Harry and Ron. When he was finished everyone clapped, then Ron stood.
"Thanks everyone for coming today! It means a lot to me. Big day, today." He looked at Hermione, who beamed at him. "Hermione, thanks for standing by me, even when I haven't always stood by you. I'd be nowhere without you." He then moved his chair and got down on one knee. "I'm absolute rubbish at things like this, but... Hermione, will you marry me?"
She was shocked into silence. She really didn't see this coming. She looked at the simple, gold ring with a three diamond setting, the middle one larger than the other two. It was too soon, wasn't it? But maybe not, she'd loved him for years. Always wanted more. Yes, this definitely was more. "Yes."
"Bloody Hell, really?!"
The entire table broke out in laughter, Ron sliding the ring on her finger and giving her a kiss.
Later that night, Hermione, Ron and Harry all apparated to their flat they shared. Ginny came with Harry, and was planning on spending the night. She had her own place, for some reason, but spent most of her time at theirs. Hermione got ready for bed, and crawled in next to Ron. She was looking at the ring on her finger. "Hey, Ron?"
"Yea?" He said, tuning to see her.
"Do you think that maybe, I don't know, maybe we're rushing things?"
"What do you mean?" He propped up on one elbow to see her.
"Well... we were only out of Hogwarts for a year, then you went right into auror training, and now you're going straight to work. We haven't really had a chance to... be us."
"Do you not want me to be an auror?"
She sighed. "That's not what I'm saying, Ronald."
"This is what we both wanted, isn't it? A life together, you and me. We've been in a relationship for three years. All through auror training you stood by me. You always stand by me, I never want anything else 'Mione."
He was right. "You're right, I'm just a little nervous I guess. I love you."
"I love you, too"
He kissed her while reaching over and sliding his hand under her tank top.
"Ron!" She hissed. "Your sister is here!"
"So? It's a special night for us, isn't it?" He moved his hand from her back to her front.
"Well, I guess it is. This is a little fun."
"Oh, it's a lot of fun."
Ron and Harry walked off the lift and onto the Magical Law Enforcement floor. "See you guys later." She said with a wave. They walked to the briefing room to meet the other aurors and get assignments while she went to her office.
Hermione loved her job. She started working for the Ministry right out of Hogwarts. They offered her any position she wanted, but nothing really seemed to fit her. She worked in the magical creatures department for a long time, but just got overwhelmed with the amount of creatures she thought needed help. Auror training, probation, and graduation had taken Ron and Harry two full years, had been officially aurors for two months now. They always had an interesting story to tell, or some new exciting mission.
She had the urge to save everyone, so Ron suggested maybe the improper use of Magic division. There was nothing wrong with that job, she liked it, but the more she worked the more she found herself trying to make laws that didn't exist, trying to enforce or restrict different magics. She'd been there six months to the day, but decided it just wasn't fulfilling. So she went to Minister Shaklebolt and explained her dilemma.
"I just don't fit anywhere."
"Miss Granger, you've done great work wherever you go."
"I don't feel that way. I've always done by best work with Harry and Ron."
"Do you want to be admitted into the auror program?"
"No. No. I just... I want to research. I want to be helpful, consult, and feel like I have purpose. I've liked all the jobs I've had, I just want to more definition to my job."
"What are you asking, Miss Granger?"
She always found these formalities silly. She'd known Kingsley for so long, they've been through so much, fought together. But rules are rules. "Minister Shaklebolt, I want my own division. I want to work directly with the aurors and have the same clearance they do. I want to research their missions, their findings, look for patterns. Harry, Ron and I, we do our best when we can bounce ideas off of each other freely. I want to research and I want to do it with them."
"I'm sorry... what? Just like that?!"
"Hermione, I am Minister for Magic. I know firsthand your capabilities. I will have offices prepared for you by the end of the week."
"Oh Kingsley, thank you!"
"I only have one condition."
"I'll admit, this idea you have has crossed my mind before. We have people here that are more qualified, like yourself, for research and more detailed cases. I will have a suite of offices for you, plus a conference room."
"And who will I be working with, may I ask?"
He smiled. "The brightest witch of your age. For now, I'd like you to be partnered with Theodore Nott."
"Theodore... Nott. Theodore Nott." What on earth would make him think Hermione would work well with him?!
"Yes, do you know him? Bright man, graduated third in his class."
"Wonder why that is." Hermione said harshly. Theodore Nott was a Slytherin. Of course he'd graduated with high marks. That last year at Hogwarts was run by Death Eaters.
"Hermione, please don't judge the book by its cover. Theodore is a good man, I will personally vouch for his character. You of all people should understand. The way you fight for the ones that have no voice? Or the ones that, perhaps get mislabeled because of something out of their control?"
She instinctively rubbed her arm where her scar was. Yes, she did know all about that. "You're right, Minister. I'm sorry. I will keep an open mind."
"Excellent! You're first day in your knew department will be Monday."
"Seriously?! He did what?!" Ron shouted as Hermione told him what happened that day over dinner. "Harry, seriously, she can't work with a Death Eater!"
"Well technically, he was not a Death Eater. His father was. Theodore never took the Mark. He is very smart. Top of his class, behind me and Draco Malfoy."
"I'll never believe that kid was smart." Sneered Ron.
"You know he works at the Ministry, right? I've heard he takes cases with the aurors sometimes." Harry said.
"Bloody Hell." Ron groaned.
"Anyways, we start on Monday. I'm very excited. This could be a good thing!"
Monday morning rolled around and Hermione, Ron and Harry got off the lift together and headed for the Department of Magical Law Enforcement. They stopped in front of Hermione's new department.
"Wow." Harry said, impressed. "Magic is amazing!"
They were standing in front of a brand new wing, that hadn't been there on Friday. They looked at the cubby that had the words "AUROR RESEARCH DIVISION" across the top, and a plaque that was on the side of the wall facing out that read "OFFICES OF HERMIONE GRANGER AND THEODORE NOTT"
Ron grimaced when the read the last name. "Good luck, 'Mione. "
"Thanks, Ron!" Completely missing the sourness in his voice, and headed in toward her office.
She entered the cubby that had a row of three chairs on one side, with a small table and water cooler on the other. The table held a vase of flowers, cups, a few magazines, and a small bowl of sweets. Walking further into it she saw a receptionist's desk. Walking into the hallway behind the desk she came to conference room. She opened the door and saw a long, oval table with eight chairs, a small square table in the far corner with a coffee pot and cups, and a huge bulletin board that covered nearly an entire wall. Leaving that room she came to two office doors. Neither was marked yet. She assumed they were the same, but wanted to check both anyway. She came early to be nosey, and figured she could get her choice of office first.
She walked into the first one. It was a decent size, had a large desk and comfy enough chair, two chairs opposite the desk, a smaller bulletin board and a bookshelf. She went to the other office and as she opened the door nearly smacked right into a tall, lanky man.
"Oh!" She said in surprise. "I'm sorry, I didn't know you were here."
"Well, the door was closed."
Smartass. She thought. She extended her hand. "Hermione Granger."
He looked at her hand. Too afraid to touch a mudblood? He took it and shook her hand with a firm grip. "Theodore Nott."
"Pleasure." She said, unable to keep the sarcastic tone out of her voice.
He smiled. "Likewise."
"So, is this one your office then?"
"Whichever you prefer, I don't have a preference. I assume we're allowed to touch it up? I'm quite fond of those enchanted ceilings they get over in Magical Games and Sports. Do you know how to do that?"
"They get enchanted ceilings?!"
"Yea!" He said excitedly. "I've always wanted one. They say the feel of fresh air or being outdoors or whatever helps them think. About what I haven't the slightest idea."
She smiled. "I bet I can figure it out."
They were silent for a moment, both forgetting who they were. Now it was just getting awkward. "So!" Hermione said first, "I'll take the other one... since you're standing in this one. Yes."
"Right." Theodore looked a little deflated, but quickly covered it up. "I have a few boxes and such to move in, I doubt we'll be getting any cases today, give us a chance to... settle."
"Right. Yes, me too. I'll... see you around." And she rushed out of the office.
Feeling stupid, she went to her own office and started getting set up. While her and Theodore were talking someone brought up all of their belongings from their previous offices. Theodore had two boxes... Hermione had twelve. She hadn't noticed him come up and stand next to her. "Wow."
"Sorry. I can be pretty quiet."
"Yea." She turned back to their boxes. "Only two?"
"Well my previous department was records. It was bloody boring. Mostly all I did was file courtroom proceedings. I'll forever be grateful to Kingsley for giving me this job, he seems to think I have potential."
"Kingsley?" She looked at him.
"Kingsley. You know, the Minister for Magic?"
She rolled her eyes. "Yes I know that, I just thought it odd you called him by his first name."
"I find those formalities silly." He looked at her.
Her jaw dropped. "So do I."
"Perfect!" He grabbed a box and went back to his office.
They spent the rest of the day setting up their offices, not really talking to each other. Really only conversing when necessary. Hermione had to get out of her own head. She knew she could like him, he seemed nice enough. She just had to keep reminding herself that you can't judge people for something they have no control over. The next day they did the same thing, since they still didn't have any cases to work. Kingsley stopped in and said they wouldn't have any this week to allow them to get acquainted with one another. Hermione flat out asked him how to get enchanted ceilings.
Theodore liked her instantly. He just wasn't sure if he should show it. Of course he'd heard stories about the famous Hermione Granger; war heroine, engaged to Ron Weasley, best friend to Harry Potter, top of her class, the list went on and on. He was more reserved, cautious. He always felt like he had a target on his back. After Kingsley left, Hermione changed both of their ceilings, and showed him how to do it too so he could change it to whatever he wanted to look at.
He didn't have much to set up, so he wandered into her office to see if she needed any help. She had only unpacked three boxes. "Do you need assistance?"
She looked up. "What? No. No I'm fine."
"Really? Because we've been here two days and you've only unpacked three boxes." He also noticed she had a different chair. Not fair.
"Well, if you must know I don't like my bookshelf, and most of my boxes are books."
"What don't you like about it?" He asked as he plopped into a chair and draped one leg across the arm, swinging it back and forth.
"Comfy?" She asked sarcastically.
She bit back a smile. "It's not big enough, and this office is... small. I'd have books everywhere."
"Did you have a bigger office previously in...?"
"Improper Use of Magic Division. And no, I didn't. I just took over the entire conference room as well."
He barked out a laugh.
"Nothing, Miss Granger. Nothing. What can we do to rectify your situation?"
"I don't know. I would hate to ask Kingsley for more room, but I need more room!"
"Kingsley?" He mocked.
She glared at him. "You can do it but I can't? We have history you know."
The smile on his face faded. "I'm aware. Let me know if you need anything, Miss Granger. I'll be taking my lunch." And he walked out.
Hermione sighed. Damn it. Why was she so harsh? It wasn't necessary, she knew he was playing, trying to be nice. She decided that she would take her lunch too and come back to this disaster later. She left a note on Theodore's desk that she was going out and would be back at 1:30.
Hermione decided she would go out for lunch, and since they weren't really doing anything other than getting frustrated with each other, she took an extra half hour. She went to a taco food truck that she liked close by. The Ministry was right in the middle of a muggle town, so she took the visitors entrance and headed for the food truck, stopping at a favorite bookstore. She noticed that Theodore had hardly any stationary, so she picked him up a large planner and a leather bound research journal. She picked one up for herself too. Near the cashiers counter they also sold office supplies, so she picked up a few pens, highlighters, sticky notes, and legal pads.
Feeling better about the day, she headed over to the food truck and ordered two tacos, a coke, and a small order of salsa and chips. She had her tacos and coke at a park nearby. It was a lovely sunny April day and really, why waste it? She stuffed her bags into her purse that always had an undetectable extension charm when she thought no one was looking, and carried the bag of chips and salsa back to the Ministry. It was just before 1:30 when Hermione made it back to her new department. She walked past the conference room door to go to her own office when she saw a fourth door that wasn't there before. Damn it, did she just walk into the wrong bloody department?! She walked out, checked the sign, and walked back in, very confused.
She opened the door and was awestruck. "A library?" She whispered. She walked into the room to get a good look at the walls of empty shelves. There was a sofa against one wall, with a small table in front of it. The ceiling was also enchanted. The room had to be at least as big as their two offices combined. "This is amazing!" She said breathless, not hearing Theodore walk up behind her.
"You like it then?"
She jumped and let out a squeal. "Stop that!"
"You did this?"
"Yes. I went to... Kingsley..." he said glancing at her with a smile. "And asked if we could have an additional room for a library, since we are a researching department. He thought it was an excellent idea, and sent some people down right way since we were both at lunch."
"I don't know what to say... thank you, Theodore. Really." She turned to him, looking glossy eyed. She loved her books, and being surrounded by them made her comfortable, relaxed.
"Theo. Call me Theo."
They spent the rest of the day organizing their library, while snacking on chips and salsa. "This stuff is amazing!" Theo said enthusiastically.
Hermione giggled. "Yes, I know, we can go tomorrow and get more."
He looked over at her. "Like... like at lunch?"
"Like have lunch? Together?"
"That's usually how it works." She continued to put her books away, not seeing the look on his face.
"I don't have friends, Hermione. Especially not with people like you."
Not wanting to jump to conclusions, she asked very calmly "what do you mean?"
"Well, I mean, I have a few friends, but only one of them is here. Working at the Ministry I mean. And... And I'm not friends with people like you. Good people."
"I think you're a good person, Theo. And as luck would have it, you have at least one good friend now. So, lunch tomorrow yes?"
He smiled, really smiled. It wasn't very often he let his guard down. "Lunch tomorrow."
Hermione got to work early the next day. Last time she thought she was early Theo had beat her here, so she got here a full hour early, just in case. She had tracked down Kingsley yesterday before she left and told him she had one more request. He was more than happy to comply, saying how wonderful it was that she and Theodore were getting along. She walked into her office and was instantly excited. They had competed everything overnight as promised. She got everything unpacked, got to work on Theo's desk, then sat in his office and waited for him to arrive.
Theo liked to be early. He assumed that of Hermione as well, she seemed like the prompt type. He had stopped at a muggle coffee shop on his way in and had got two french vanilla coffees for them, both with heavy cream and chocolate shavings, and a double shot of espresso. Go big or go home. He thought. He made himself smirk. He really was quite funny.
He got to his new department which he still couldn't believe was true, and walked into his office, damn near dropping the coffees. "What the hell?!"
"Good morning." Hermione said brightly.
He walked in further to his office to see what had been done. There was no longer a wall separating their offices, now it was just one big office, with their desks facing each other. The two extra chairs were gone, and two chairs were along one wall between them. The ceiling let in bright, natural light, and a window was above the chairs. He turned to his desk and noticed a bunch of new stuff on it. Then he saw the chair. "Oh wow." He sat in it then. "Mmmm."
"You like it?" Hermione couldn't kept the smile off her face.
"You did this?"
"Well, I work better when I can bounce ideas off my partner freely, and that wall was in the way." She said simply. "I like the window. Makes it feel less small. And I have the same chair. That thing they gave you was horrid! Oh! And you didn't really seem to have sufficient office supplies so I got some for you. I hope you don't mind. I love the magic and all, but sometimes quills and rolls of parchment are just a pain in the ass."
He looked at his desk. He had all this stuff he's never really used before, and a huge planner that covers the majority of this desk. On today's date there was a hand written note that said "lunch with Hermione."
They spent the morning really just enjoying each other's company.
"And what does this do?!"
"That's a highlighter. Watch." She grabbed the bright yellow highlighter, took the cap off and dragged it over the words 'lunch with Hermione' making the words very bright.
"Wow, no way!"
"Yes way!" She said laughing. "Honestly, this stuff isn't that fascinating."
"Yes it is! What are these?" He pointed to the research journals.
"Oh! I forgot about these! They're research journals, for when we actually have missions and cases and what not. Look, I put your initials on the front."
He noticed the cursive initials TN in silver on the cover of the dark green leather journal. "Silver and green?"
She walked over to her desk, opened a drawer and pulled out an identical journal that was dark red with the initials HG in gold.
He started laughing.
"I couldn't help myself when I saw them!" She said, breaking out in laughter as well.
Before they knew it, it was lunch time and they went to the visitor's entrance to go to Hermione's food truck. Once they got there, she ordered her usual two tacos, and got Theo got the same since he had no clue what he was ordering, plus a double order of chips and salsa. She paid and waited off to the side for their food. Once she heard "Her-me-o-nee" she got their food and headed for her favorite spot in the park.
"Her-me-o-nee?" Theo mocked.
"Ugh, no one ever gets it right!" She said in frustration.
"Well this is a muggle area, isn't it? Why don't you just change it? It's much easier to say... I don't know, Susan!"
She laughed. "Next time."
Theo inhaled his tacos. "No wonder you were always smarter than me. These are addicting!"
They headed back to Ministry, deciding that since it was Thursday they should somehow prepare for their first case they were getting on Monday. They were laughing as they entered their department to see Ron standing there waiting for them.
"Ron." She said surprised, her smile still on her face.
"Hermione. What are you doing?"
"We were just out to lunch, we had tacos at that food truck I like."
"Amazing, Mate! You been there?!"
He ignored Theo. "Hermione what are you doing?" He said as he grabbed her arm trying to pull her aside.
"What does it look like I'm doing, Ronald? I'm standing in MY department, after just getting back from having lunch with my partner and friend."
"Familiar with the word at all, Weasley?" Theo couldn't help himself. He didn't care for the way he came in here barking at Hermione.
"Ron, we just had lunch, what are you so worked up about anyways?"
"You're never gone this late, I got worried when I stopped in and didn't know where you were."
She softened then. "We don't have much to do this week, Ki- Minister Shaklebolt wanted us get acquainted before giving us a case. The real work starts Monday, so we took a long lunch."
He sighed. "Alright. Sorry." He looked over at Theo. "I'm sorry. Ron Weasley." He said as he extended his hand.
Theo took it. "Theodore Nott." He didn't miss the way Ron's lip curled when Theo said his name.
Ron gave Hermione a kiss on the cheek, looking over at Theo as he did so, then left the room.
Hermione turned back to Theo then. "Don't worry about him. He's... he gets jealous." Her face falling as she said the last line.
"Care to explain?"
She supposed it wouldn't hurt, he'd be dealing with Ron as an auror and as her fiancée. They walked back into their office and wheeled her chair out from behind her desk to set it in front of his. Slipping off her shoes she plopped down it the chair.
"During... what would've been our seventh year, we were out hunting Voldemort's horcuxes."
"I can't believe you say His name." Theo said with a shudder.
"I didn't always, I didn't start until fifth year. Fear of name and all. Anyways, we were getting nowhere fast, Dumbledore left very little direction, and what he did leave was encrypted in hopes we were the only ones to figure it all out. We were all frustrated, then one night I had a thought about how to destroy the horcuxes, and of course I shared my idea with Harry, and we started bouncing ideas off each other and I began to get a little hope back."
Theo sat patiently and listened to her story. He couldn't believe she was telling him all this, letting him in. This was personal. He'd heard the press conferences, read all the interviews given by the famous trio, never had he heard this.
"Ron was furious. He felt left out, or neglected. I don't even know. We never talk about it. He was wearing the necklace, that's what the horcrux was, and it intensifies negative emotions like rage and jealously. Apparently Ron had a lot of it. We all got into an argument and... and he left."
"He left? He left?! Just like that?!"
"Just like that. Asked me to choose, and of course I stayed with Harry, we had to do this, we had to finish this! Well, he took it as I was choosing Harry over him and he disapparated. He didn't come back for nearly two months."
"Yea." She whispered.
Theo grabbed her hand from across the desk and held it. "I am very sorry. That was a dick move."
She let out a little laugh at that. "Yea it was." She started to sniffle, so he came around the desk and pulled her into a hug. She let herself be held for a moment, then realized what was happening.
"Theo I think-" she said pushing away.
"I don't think that we should..."
"If Ron walked in and-"
She wasn't listening. "Hermione, I'm gay!"
"I'm gay. So Weasley has nothing to worry about."
She was quiet for a long time. She sat down in her chair and just looked at him.
Well this might have been a bad idea. He didn't tell many people this. Just another reason for them not to give him a chance.
She sighed. "These chairs are super comfy."
He smiled. "Right?!" Heading back to his own chair. The rest of the afternoon went by without issue.
Later that night Harry, Hermione and Ron apparated home. They sat at the dinner table together, while Hermione tried not to argue.
"All I'm saying Ron is that you give him a chance. He is my partner and you will more than likely be working with both of us in the very near future."
"I don't want to Hermione. I don't like him, I don't like his family, and I don't like the way he looks at you."
"Ron-" Harry started but Ron cut him off.
"No, you weren't there, you don't know!"
"Damn it, Ronald!" She stood and slammed her hands into the table, making both men jump.
"What the-" Ron started to say.
"No! You don't get to say that to me! You don't get to tell me that! Ever!" She glared at him then stormed off into their room and slammed the door, leaving Ron and Harry staring at each other.
"What did I do?"
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose. "Ron... she's right. You don't get to say that to her. Ever."
"I don't get it."
"Then maybe you need to go and talk to her. I'll be at Ginny's." And with that he got up and disaparated.
"What did I do?" He said again to the now empty room. He got up and made his way down the hall to their bedroom, then knocked on the door. "Hermione?"
"Hermione?" He sighed and slouched against the door. "Hermione I'm sorry. Please just tell me what I did."
"You left me, Ron." She said through the door.
She was crying, he could hear it in her voice.
"You left me, for two months. You assume that I'm the one that is going to mess around, or leave you, or whatever you're jealously is about. But I'm not the one that left, you did. And you don't know anything about what happened while you were gone. I was scared, and lonely, and I missed you, and you weren't there."
"I know. I know, and I'm sorry. It was stupid and I don't know how many times I can say that. I just think you'll always find someone better than me."
"Your ring is on my finger isn't it?!"
"Yes it is." He said ashamed. He heard the lock click. He turned and opened the door. She was standing there with tears in her eyes and her arms wrapped around herself.
"'Mione." He said in whisper. He walked to her and put his arms around her. "I'm so sorry."
"Why don't you trust me?"
"I do! I do!" He pleaded. "My self-doubt just gets in the way. I'll try harder."
"I love you, Ron."
"I love you, Hermione."