AN: Dear readers and followers, thank you for your patience with my 9 month hiatus from posting. i promise I have been busy sketching out different ideas and writing bits and pieces in between my two jobs. It took a bit longer than anticipated but here we are with a new story! As always, let me know your thoughts and I hope you enjoy. Wishing you all the best in the New Year 2018 which is upon us soon as well!
Hermione walked through the familiar streets of Islington, tired after a long day at work but enjoying the walk to clear her head a bit. The last time she could remember this kind of exhaustion was after the Final battle nearly eight years ago. Those days were always a bit of a haze. Exhaustion, recovery from wounds and scrapes while trying to help those seriously wounded and the proud but tired Headmistress rebuild the castle. And before they had a chance to catch up on sleep, the funerals began. Fred Weasley. Nymphadora Tonks. Severus Snape. And so the list went, hanging in the Entrance Hall of the rebuilt Hogwarts on the first of September 1998 when the new school year began. Harry and Ron chose not to return and instead enrolled in the offered Auror programme, just as Hermione knew they would. It made her sad that they wouldn't get to graduate together but she was glad for the space after a year on the run in close quarters with them both, and for getting away from the sulking redhead.
They tried to date after the battle, Ron and herself, but it became clear very quickly that they were unsuitable for each other. They were two different people, dealing with their sorrow and experiences in different ways. Each morning while eating her porridge, Hermione would open the Prophet and read about the boys' latest escapades, the planned wedding of the Boy Who Lived and a very happy Ginny Weasley, and Ron's nights out enjoying the fame and soothing his emotional wounds with pretty girls. Ginny was a good friend but her head was filled with the wedding planning and Hermione found her days in the castle lonely.
A surprising friend came in the form of a widowed werewolf. They were both without a home and family, so Remus invited her to stay with him at Grimmauld place while he tried to take care of baby Teddy and grieve the loss of his wife. Harry wanted nothing to do with the Black Inheritance and made sure it was signed over to Teddy, with Remus in full right to manage the inheritance as was needed. Since she was a seventh year and Minerva knew her circumstances, Hermione was allowed to leave for the weekend on Friday nights to help Remus clear the house out to make it a bit more inhabitable and to help with Teddy who was keeping them both up with his teething. Graduation was a blur and with the grades she achieved, Hermione could have gone into any field she chose. Instead she decided to take a year-long break. They renovated the house with Remus, falling into an easy routine with the help of Bill and Fleur who often visited to let the children play together and give them a hand. The previously dark and dusty house was once more restored, cleaned, and tired furnishings were given a second chance to shine. And it was through Bill's advice that she decided to gain a mastery in arithmancy and ancient runes before joining his ambitious plan.
Working at Gringotts wasn't the same anymore for the eldest Weasley and he decided to instead take a daring proposal to the new Minister of Magic, none other than Kingsley himself. The Ministry lost a lot of good people and after the purge of Voldemort-sympathisers from its ranks, they were in great need of new blood coming in to help rebuild and reform the once great British Ministry of Magic. The Department of Mysteries has been poorly regulated and there was a complete lack of transparency in the work that was done down there as well as the resources they wasted. So Bill asked Kingsley to let him do a review and proposed to divide the Department into three separate division; Research division led by Hermione, Curse-breaking and artefact division led by himself, and International Undercover Operations unit that worked closely with the Aurors led by Hestia Jones who proved indispensable during the war. Kingsley approved his plan and seven years down the line the Department of Mysteries was now one of the best run departments at the Ministry.
For the last month Hermione and two of her colleagues have been focusing on researching some of the books and artefacts found by Bill's team in a forgotten library in Yorkshire. And with it came a surprisingly well-preserved journal that held information that gave her no rest. If what was in that journal was true, they may have a chance to do something extraordinary but if she shared this with Remus too early, it could break his heart if it didn't work. Feeling guilty for hiding this from him for now, she stopped by at a local cafe and picked up two of their special hot chocolates with cream, walking the last couple of blocks until she got to the house.
She unlocked the door with her magical signature and closed it slowly after getting in, balancing the two take-away cups in her hand. She could hear the wireless was on in the kitchen, a smile tugging at her lips at the unmistakeable voice of Billie Holiday and Teddy's chatter. She came through to the kitchen and smiled at Teddy who was drawing, seated at the large, aged dining room table while Remus cooked.
"Mimi!" he grinned, his hair changing colour from soft blond to a deep mossy green in greeting.
"Hey Teddybear, what are you drawing?" she asked as she set the take away cups down on the table and her shoulder bag in a chair while she took off her coat and scarf.
Teddy set his brush down and showed her what appeared to a large sinking boat. "It's Titanic! We learned about ships today in muggle class," he beamed proudly.
Hermione smiled at him proudly and nodded her thanks to Remus who took her coat and hung it up for her.
"Hungry?" he asked, eying up the cups she brought in as his nostrils flared, taking in the enticing smell.
Hermione chuckled and gave the chocolate fiend his hot drink. "Starving. And you better not guzzle that down, it will ruin your app-never mind," she sighed as he took off the lid and drank most of it before she even managed to finish speaking.
Teddy grinned at the silly adults and made sure to add the final touches to his painting before offering it to Hermione. She took out her wand and guided it above his head until the drawing stuck to the wall, next to some of his other colourful creations. "It's beautiful, thank you Teddy," she smiled.
Remus finished his drink and guided three steaming bowls over to the table so they could sit down and eat dinner. Teddy was as ever a chatter box and continued to tell them about his day and the stories they learned in the class, and the videos they watched about Titanic. Hermione filed the information away and decided to have a look on her computer later to see if there were any documentaries on Titanic on that new great video website Youtube. She looked at Remus who met her gaze, noticing the hint of make up covering up the signs of tiredness under her eyes. She offered a small smile before turning back to listening to Teddy.
"…..and we will be going on a trip to the museum to look at boats!" he beamed, his smile slightly crooked with a couple of baby teeth recently falling out.
"Would you like one of the muggle disposable cameras to take some photos and we can go get them printed for you, so you can see the memories?" Hermione suggested, remembering how her parents always encouraged her to take photos when she was younger.
Teddy nodded excitedly and ran around the table to hug her. "You're the best, Mimi," he smiled happily as she rubbed his back.
"Come on Teddybear, if you're done with dinner, head up for your bath," she kissed his cheek and tickled his side until he squirmed and giggled, running up the stairs to the first floor.
Remus turned to look at her once they were alone. "Is everything alright, Hermione?" he asked gently.
She offered a small smile and finished the last bite of her stew. "Just a very long week. I'm looking forward to a weekend in. Do you want me to go up with him?" she asked, seeing Remus was tired as well.
"I'll do the works tonight. Thanks for letting me crash last night, today is my turn," he said and sent the dishes into the sink to wash themselves before heading up after his son.
Glad for the four bathrooms in the house, Hermione heaved her tired body up the stairs and decided to treat herself with a hot bath, feeling her muscles relaxing in the hot water, a few stubborn curls escaping her tight bun as the hot steam made them frizz a little.
She managed to wrestle them back into a loose plait once she dried and slipped into a pair of sleeping shorts and a long sleeve button up pyjama top. She rolled up the sleeves and rubbed some honeysuckle oil into her forearms. It took a long time for the word carved into her flesh by Bellatrix's cursed dagger to stop bleeding. It would never heal fully, remaining a dark pink at all times, and occasionally bleeding when she was utterly exhausted. It took some trial and error in determining what would soothe the skin, the scar rejecting dittany altogether, along with other magical ointments and salves. This oil she bought at a small boutique during a research trip to France, and was a mixture of honeysuckle and cold pressed rosehip oil which muggles have used to soothe scars for centuries. That was how she found out that natural oils were the only thing her skin tolerated these days.
After grabbing a pot of tea in the kitchen, she headed up to the library, surprised to find Remus already seated by the fire with a book. "Teddy in bed?" she asked.
Remus nodded after taking a sip from his second hot chocolate of the evening. "He dropped off just before the witch was killed," he chuckled, referring to the story of Hansel and Gretel that was tonight's goodnight story.
"He rarely lasts that long," she chuckled and set her tea pot down, heading for the study table in the middle of the library.
Remus caught a whiff of her familiar scent, honeysuckle and earl grey, which she always drank in the evening when she was researching or writing in her journal. Moony's contented growl rumbled in his mind and he leaned back comfortably in his seat, realising just how comforting her presence was to them both, man and wolf….
He watched her padding on bare feet around the library as she opened her journal, made some notes and began pulling down books from different shelves, making a reading list. She looked so comfortable, so at home, and Remus couldn't deny that the past eight years have been domestic once they got into a rhythm. If he were honest with himself, which he tried to be for the most part, he wouldn't have made it through that first year after the war without Hermione and her help. His human side was mourning a friend and wife, but his wolf was relieved for his human not being married to a woman that was not his mate.
His son needed Remus' attention but he was recovering from the battle, exhausted from the full moon and the house was nearly uninhabitable. And there she was, grateful to have a place to stay and call home until she graduated. Instead of celebrating the end of war, traveling, and lounging around with her friends, Hermione spent the summer dodging streams of pee during nappy changes, washing a lot of onesies and muslin cloths, and trying to get his son to eat the damn puréed fruit she prepared while reading on her coursework for the school year. When she left for school, Remus felt the lack of her presence more than he thought he would, but she came to spend nearly every weekend with them and somehow still managed to graduate with top grades. And he was invited to attend her graduation, which he happily did along with then 13-month-old Teddy. After she finished her N.E.W.T.s, Remus expected her to go off to university and move to a better place, but she stayed. Hermione helped him renovate the house and stayed while she studied. And after a while they just accepted that this was both their home now.
A loud sneeze brought him out of his musings and he chuckled at the sight of her waving away the dust that fell from a higher bookshelf. "Ugh," she rubbed her nose, followed by an inelegant snotty squidgy sound. "We need to dust this place properly. This is the second book," she sighed and waved her wand, casting cleaning charms on the desk and the thick tome in her hand.
"I'll do it tomorrow. You're no good around dust," her teased.
Hermione shrugged and sent the books she pulled out for her research to her room before moving back to the sofa with her leather-bound journal and tea. Remus found the move curious. Usually she spread out on the table if she was doing any research, whether private or for work. This looked like she intended to do some research that he wouldn't get to see.
"Anything interesting?" he asked conversationally, nodding to her list.
Hermione shrugged. "I don't know yet, maybe. Just testing a theory. Don't want it to lay around for Teddy to find thought, some of the tomes are bordering on dark," she explained, hoping it would keep away the wolf's curiosity. "Oh speaking of which, maybe it would be a good idea to clear out some space and start a bookshelf for Teddy in here? He's been asking for one, to join the adults," she smiled, smoothly changing the topic.
There was several things one had to be conscious of when living with a werewolf and Remus particularly. One, lies have a particular smell on people and can be easily recognised. So getting away with a mostly truth was how to go about hiding birthday surprises for example. Two, change the subject to Teddy as a distraction and it usually works. Three, they knew each other very well after living together for nearly eight years and it was pointless to dance around things that the wolf could smell, sense, or observe. Some things they ignored, others they talked through. And that was how they got along fairly seamlessly.
It was true that she didn't want those tomes laying about on the table for Teddy's sake. Sirius' library may no longer be booby-trapped or hiding muggleborn-cursing books, but it was still an ancient library of a pureblood family. It ranged a spectrum of topics from healing charms to necromancy and had to be treated wisely. The true reason was that she didn't want Remus anywhere around her research into the veil until she had more substance to the theory raised in the journal they found in Yorkshire. She had no doubt she would keep it off his radar, just like she did her research into wolfsbane and a potential cure for lycanthropy that she's been researching for the past three years.
Remus picked up on the change of subject but didn't think much of it, as he knew it was true. Teddy has been a relentless reader just like his two bibliophile parental figures and really needed a bookshelf in the library.
"Maybe tomorrow when we go shopping?" he suggested. "We can get him a couple more of those muggle books that you suggested?"
"Oh yes, I want to get him this book, it came out last year. It's about a twelve-year old called Percy who is a demigod and struggles with ADHD. I think it will be his new favourite," Hermione grinned, happy to always shop around for new muggle literature for the curious little boy.
Remus watched the joy in her eyes and had to smile, steadfastly ignoring the wolf's purring. No it wasn't purring, just indigestion. Surely…