Chapter 1: Another Ordinary Day
It was a cloudy and chilly November morning when Hermione stepped out of her small flat in London and started her short walk to the Ministry of Magic, where she worked. More than three years had passed after the battle of Hogwarts. Hermione had celebrated her twenty second birthday this year and finished her job training at the ministry a few months ago. The training would take three years in regular cases, Hermione however had managed to complete it in less than two. This was of course thanks to her above average magical abilities as well as her diligence in studying.
The decision to work at the ministry had been a rather easy one. After the war, she had found herself not only physically but also emotionally exhausted. She simply did not have any energy left to think about things likes dreams or ambitions. When Kingsley Shacklebolt had offered to take her in as a ministry official after her last year at Hogwarts, she had agreed without further thinking. But she did not regret her choice as the Ministry job training provided her with the opportunity to forget all the ordeals and grievances from the past years, allowing her to only concentrate on acquiring the needed skills.
After completing her final year at Hogwarts and – of course – receiving only Os in all her N.E.W.T.s, she had moved out of her parent's house, whose memories she had restored, and into her own small flat just a fifteen minutes' walk away from the Ministry. It was located in a magic building, so it looked extremely shabby and neglected from the outside, but quite roomy and clean from the inside. It was visible to Muggles, but protected by several charms and spells preventing any non-magical being from entering.
Having her own place was nice, but quite lonely sometimes. Harry was busy with his Auror-training which required him to go abroad often and Ron had become George's new partner at Weasley's Wizard Wheezes, after he had quit Auror-training last year. Hermione was really busy with her work as well, so meeting with both of her best friends altogether had become a rare occasion. She did not mind being alone though, because it enabled her to put in a few extra hours of work or research when needed.
Thinking of Ron made Hermione sigh and she recalled their unfortunate 'relationship'. During their sixth year as well as during the time they had hunted down Horcruxes, she had been convinced that she was in love with Ron and would end up marrying him. But soon after the war, she realized that neither of them could become happy with the other. At least not as lovers. They were too different and though it felt nice to be around Ron, she could not feel much of a difference compared to the sibling-like relationship with Harry. Even though she had never experienced what people called 'true love', she knew that this was not it. So eventually she had broken up with Ron. It had taken him about a year to accept their breakup, but now they were doing well as friends again. Just as friends.
Hermione took a thoughtful look up at the sky, which was covered in grey clouds and it made her feel a little lost. She sighed once more as she kept on walking. Of course, she could just use the floo network and apparate into the ministry as everyone else did, but these walks in the morning gave her the chance to organize her thoughts and prepare mentally for the day.
She thought about the tasks awaiting her today. After completing job training she had started to work as a legal advisor at the Department for The Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Her job was to write reports about occurrences or accidents involving magical creatures and suggesting measures based on wizarding law. Sometimes she also had to go to the scene of occurrence to assess the situation better or help out colleagues. Only a few days ago, she and her colleagues had been called to investigate a case where merpeople were spotted in a public Muggle swimming pool, which had caused her quite some headache. The merpeople insisted that they needed the space as it was the perfect temperature for them in this cold weather. Getting them to acknowledge that the chlorine inside the pool might not be the best environment for them, Hermine had finally managed to convince them to get out of there. They had to obliviate quite a few Muggles afterwards, some of them so shocked they had fainted. Writing the report had put another few hours on her overtime-work-meter. The overtime-work-meter was hanging at her department's office wall and it was similarly structured as the house-points hourglasses in Hogwarts. One hour of overtime work equaled one small pearl added to the meter, so people could easily spot who worked most. Hermine was in second place coming only short to her boss, a middle-aged witch called Martina Woodstock.
Today, Hermione thought, she would probably be able to leave a little earlier. Getting a few standard procedures done and then she would maybe even have some time to work on the brochure about house elves' rights she was preparing. Unfortunately, she did not have much time for this in general, even though this was supposed to be her main project for which she had been placed in the department. Hermione sighted once more while stroking some of her wavy hair, behind her ears. Then she disappeared behind a big trash container and disapparated.
Accompanied by a faint noise she apparated into the ministry's atrium. It pretty much looked the same as a few years ago, the only difference was that the horrible statue of wizards dominating Muggles had been replaced by a giant statue of Harry, holding the elder wand, a determined expression on his face. This made Hermione smile for the first time today, since she knew how much Harry hated this statue. It was always funny remembering his shocked reaction when he first saw it.
"Oh, good morning, Miss Granger", said a voice behind her. Hermione turned and recognized Sera Lencer, who worked closely with her at the Department for the Regulation of Magical Creatures. He was only a few years older than her, but very formal and a little old-fashioned. He insisted on calling her Miss Granger, though she called him Sera. He was tall and very good looking. His blue eyes matched his dark blonde hair which was parted on one side. For a wizard, he dressed extremely well – though formal and a little stiff – too, so many younger witches at the ministry had tried to woo him. He, however, seemed not that interested or was simply too busy to notice this, Hermione was not quite sure. Sometimes, however, she wondered why she did not feel the slightest desire to woo him as well. Maybe she was just to occupied with her own life too much.
"Morning Sera, how are you today?" she replied and smiled a little.
"I cannot complain, though I really need some sleep", he replied. "A day without any reports to file would be nice for a change."
"Yeah, I totally agree with that, I really want to continue working on my House Elves' rights brochure", Hermione said while they were walking towards the elevator.
"You think too much about work, Miss Granger", Sera said in a serious voice, which carried a slightly scolding undertone.
"I want to change something about wizard society, Sera, or at least at the ministry. Our society still needs a lot of improvement, I'd say", she defended herself. She pressed the button for level four, where their department was located. A few other wizards entered after them and as always, a handful of flying notes as well. "I came to the ministry to make an impact, to improve things," she continued. "I should work hard and become an important witch in the ministry in order to do that. So, working a lot, maybe even a lot more than others, is the inevitable thing to do."
Sera did not say anything, but only looked at her, obviously pondering on what she said. This is what she liked about him. He was a really thoughtful person and preferred to think about things thoroughly. Sometimes, he replied to something she said days after their conversation had taken place.
The elevator's ping indicated that they had arrived at the forth level and doors opened. They stepped outside and entered their office. Their boss, department chief Mrs. Martina Woodstock, was already there, greeting them with a nod. Hermione was still not sure what to think of her boss. Sometimes she seemed friendly and approachable, sometimes she basically ignored Hermione. Hermione still had no clue why she did that.
Hermione sat on her desk and started reviewing the report she had written about the merpeople incident for the last time. She worked for about an hour correcting some things here and there and then walked over to Mrs. Woodstock's office. She knocked and entered right away as it was usual in their department.
"Come in, Miss Granger", she said in an indifferent voice. "Ah the report about the merpeople incident, thank you. I'll check it later and let you know if there is a problem. But as it is you, who wrote it, I expect there to be none".
"T-thank you", Hermione uttered a little surprised by the compliment.
Mrs. Woodstock started laughing. "I am sorry, Miss Granger, you must have thought I ignored you or similar, right? Well, you should know that I usually do this to people coming into our department to see if they are able to work here properly. If someone gets upset about their boss ignoring or not liking them, how are they going to deal with all the creatures and the trouble they sometimes cause? But I observed you long enough, you're more than qualified for the job. So, I'll pay more attention to what you have to say from now on, Miss Granger". Mrs. Woodstock smiled slightly and put Hermione's report on a pile of what seemed to be more reports about other incidents.
"Okay, that's great", Hermione replied, though she did not quite know what to think of Mrs. Woodstock's approach to new employees.
Hermione headed towards the door, but stopped midway and turned around once more. "Mrs. Woodstock?"
"Yes?", Mrs. Woodstock replied and looked up from her desk.
"Uhm… do you think it would be possible, if I worked on the house elves' rights brochure today? I really want to make some progress and lately has been rather busy, so I could not work on it for more than an hour or so a week…"
"Ah right, the brochure, I remember. This is supposed to be your main project, right? Okay, as long as no other occurrence is reported today, go ahead", Mrs. Woodstock replied.
"Thank you, you'll be very pleased with the brochure when it's finished", Hermione replied with an exited smile and left the office.
She was glad to finally be able to work on her project, since it was her major field of interest and one of the first things she wanted to change about wizarding society, if she ever got the chance. Improving House Elves' rights and creating a law that punished their mistreatment or abuse would be a major breakthrough.
Happily, Hermione strode over to her desk and pulled the parchment with her first drafts of the brochure out of the top drawer.
However, after only a few minutes she was suddenly interrupted. A seagull shaped Patronus burst into the office. Hermione recognized it as belonging to one of the emergency forces' officials from their department. She sighed in surrender, because she knew what it meant. She had seen it countless times by now.
"An incident occurred, we need assistance", said the Patronus in the official's voice. "A conflict between wizards and House Elves is taking place on the Holyhead Harpies' Quidditch pitch. We need at least two people to help assess the situation and file the reports."
Mrs. Woodstock stuck her head out of her office and called: "Granger, Lencer, you know what to do!".
Hermione sighed again and got up. She had already lost count of how many times she had sighed. So, again no time to work on her project today.
But wait? Holyhead Harpies? Quidditch pitch? Isn't that Ginny Weasley's team? The sudden realization hit her the moment she disapparated.
A/N: Thank you for reading! This is my first fanfic in five years and my first HP fanfic, even though I have been a fan since elementary school. This fic will be updated once a week if not stated otherwise.
A/N 2: I would be happy about some feedback, no matter if it is about the story itself or some issues with the English language, because I want to keep improving! So please leave some reviews :)