(I try not to post A/N's unless absolutely necessary, so please, when you do see them, pay attention)
1) As stated in the title, this is a post-war AU. Major world changes: Ron died as a result of injuries incurred during the Golden Trio's escape from the Ministry, Remus (as suggested by the summary) survived the War.
2) The premise of this fic is [loosely] inspired by my indulgence in manga (Vampire Knight) and dating simulation app games (Wizardess Heart), the first about a boarding school in which the Night Class students are vampires, the second about a magic school (much like Hogwarts) that, in later seasons, is revealed to have a Night Class for a select few students.
3) This will be a triad fic.
4) The idea of previously disused/unexplored portions of Hogwarts is something I've played with before in other stories. It may not have any canon backing, but . . . c'mon, it's a thousand year old castle that had a massive secret chamber that went undiscovered for nearly as long, it's not hard to imagine that not every nook and cranny was kept up to snuff all this time, especially if only a portion of the castle was necessary for schooling/housing purposes. Dahlia and William are the names I use for Hermione's parents.
Updates will be sporadic, chapter lengths may vary (some will be over 4k words, some may be under 2k).
FANCASTS: Tom Hiddleston as Remus Lupin; Jared Leto as Sirius Black; Idris Elba as Kingsley Shacklebolt. If they are not those characters to you, then I invite you to imagine them however you wish.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter, or any affiliated characters, and make no profit, in any form, from this work.
Hermione shook her head at herself as she made her way through the newly restored corridor. Why on earth had she accepted? Oh, right, because Remus had asked, and after the losses they'd both suffered, she couldn't find it in her heart to say no to him.
"Remus?" she said, a surprised half-grin playing on her lips. When her doorbell rang that late August evening, one of her friends from the Wizarding World was perhaps the last visitor she expected. She hadn't really spoken to anyone since the last of the funerals following the War, she hadn't even been certain whether or not she'd return to Hogwarts.
So many of her friends were gone, or simply decided there was no more left for the school to teach them if they'd fought in—and survived—the Second Wizarding War. She loved the magical part of her life as much as she ever had, but the loss of so many loved ones had simply highlighted the importance of family for her. Once she'd gotten her parents back, she knew she needed to spend time with them.
"Hullo, Hermione, I'm sorry to show up unannounced. May I come in?"
"Oh, um, of course." She backpedaled, waving him inside. "How's Teddy?"
"Wonderful. Andromeda couldn't dote on him more if she tried."
After she closed the door behind him, she could hardly say she was surprised when he pulled her in for a long, comforting hug. She was ashamed to admit she'd forgotten just how good at giving hugs he was. She'd actually sort of missed this all these months in the Muggle world, and she'd not even realized it.
"Hermione, darling, who was at the door?"
The witch was shocked that her mother's voice had snapped her back to reality—she'd not even noticed she was in a bit of a daze for a moment, there. Clearing her throat, she and Remus broke apart. She must be imagining the sheepish grin that curved his mouth as she turned to face the living room.
"Sorry, Mum, it's um, one of my friends from Hogwarts." Immediately after these words fell from her lips, Hermione winced. That sounded odd, given their visible age difference.
That very sentiment was reflected in her mother's face as the woman came out from the kitchen. "Friend from Hogwarts?" she echoed, propping her hands on her hips as she darted her gaze from her daughter to the grown man beside her, and back.
Hermione and Remus couldn't help but laugh as they both scrambled to explain the misunderstanding.
After things were made clear, Dahlia Granger smiled and nodded. "Yes, I remember Hermione mentioning you. An old friend of Harry's parents, right?"
"Well, it's last minute, but would you care to stay for dinner, Mr. Lupin?"
Remus' brows shot up as he looked from one woman to the other and back. "Actually, that would be lovely, thank you."
Dahlia nodded again and retreated to the kitchen. Hermione would pretend she didn't know there was now a hushed conversation going on between her parents—Mum and Dad loved to prepare dinner together, so thinking he hadn't been in the kitchen, listening from the other side of the door, was impossible.
"Your mother seems awfully calm about having a werewolf in the house."
Pivoting on her heel to face Remus with wide eyes, she shrugged. "That's probably because I haven't told them werewolves are real? Witches and wizards are typically as much as most Muggles can handle."
"Well, then I suppose I'll have to adjust my pitch."
"Pitch?" Hermione arched a brow. "Are you selling something?"
"Not exactly. I think perhaps, though, your parents would want to have input on this, so maybe we'll discuss it over dinner."
She didn't like being put off like that, but if it was that important to him, she wasn't going to argue. They made small talk as they waited, catching up with each other. She avoided mentioning Tonks, he avoided mentioning Ron. Yes, it had been months, and though those wounds were healing, they were still awkward topics of conversation, and Remus was nothing if not sensitive to the pain of others.
Once they were seated around the dinner table, food served and glasses filled, Hermione could no longer stop herself. "So, what is this pitch?"
Dahlia and William exchanged a glance at their daughter's question. Remus, quite frankly, found himself a little unsettled to find all three of them staring at him. "Well, I suppose you know Hermione has yet to make a decision about returning to Hogwarts?"
Dahlia frowned. "Yes, well, after last year's tragedies, you can hardly blame her, can you?"
"No, no, I don't blame her at all, however . . . ." Remus' face scrunched and he clasped his hands above his plate. "I have been offered a new teaching position at Hogwarts, and though Hermione might be too far advanced now to find returning as a student fulfilling, I was hoping she might agree to return as my assistant."
Again, her parents shared a look, though this time they turned their attention to Hermione. She was staring at Remus wide-eyed and unblinking. "You want me to be your teaching assistant? Is Professor McGonagall aware of this?"
"It was her idea."
Hermione's brow furrowed. She wanted, desperately, to say yes. She wanted to return to Hogwarts—she very much still thought of it as home—she wanted to share her knowledge with younger witches and wizards, but she wasn't certain she could.
Before she was able to answer, however, her mother piped up. "I think it's a fantastic opportunity for you, and you should take it."
"Oh, Mum, I don't know."
"You've been miserable these last few months," William said, frowning thoughtfully as he shook his head. "I know you think you've hidden it well, and we've loved having you home, but you miss being there, we know you do."
"Wait, so if I want to go . . . ."
Dahlia smiled warmly. "We'd miss you like mad, of course, but we'd understand."
It wasn't until after dinner, though Hermione'd yet to give him a firm answer, that Remus disclosed to her the full circumstances of his reinstatement and her job offer. As she walked him out onto the porch, he turned to face her, preempting her questions.
"My efforts in both Wizarding Wars were recognized, and have forced the Ministry's hand in . . . reexamining their position on children with magical maladies. Though it's acknowledged that it would be too soon to introduce them into the general population of students at Hogwarts, it is also acknowledged that they deserve a chance at a proper education just as much."
As refreshing as that was for Hermione to hear, she had to ask, "What does this all mean, exactly?" He'd just told her quite a bit of information, but none of it actually shed light on what was to happen next.
"Well, obviously, mine was the first name that came up in regard to teaching when talk of these classes arose." Remus' brows pinched, and he looked off into the street. "The disused sections of the castle, previously inaccessible to both students and faculty, have been restored for use by the . . . Night Class."
Her eyebrows shot up. "Night Class?"
He brought his gaze back to hers, shrugging. "Those with magical maladies are predominantly nocturnal by nature. Why'd you think I have such trouble staying awake during the day?"
Although he said it with a smile, she immediately understood that he was serious. "Of course. I can't believe that never occurred to me. Wolves are nighttime hunters, aren't they?"
Remus nodded. "I knew you'd catch on. That's why you're being offered this position. These students don't just need teachers who understand their struggles. They need to see humans—normal witches and wizards—who are compassionate toward what they're going through, who are willing to accept them as they are."
Her shoulders slumped as she frowned up at him. "You're making it really hard to say no."
Snickering, he pulled her in for a parting hug. "Then don't say no," he whispered.
She ignored that something felt different between them in that moment. Surely, it was her imagination that he held her just a few heartbeats longer . . . .
Just her imagination that a flood of warmth rushed into her cheeks at his breath against her ear as he'd whispered those words.
She gave herself a shake and continued along toward where Headmistress McGonagall had said her new quarters were. Just as she'd told herself, her decision to take the job was on account of their friendship, and because there were children who needed her, nothing at all to do with what she might, or might not, have felt in that moment on her parents' porch.
Though, she had to say she did enjoy the decidedly more Medieval architecture of these older sections of the castle—yes, yes, Hogwarts, entirely, was a thousand years old, but the portions in constant use were regularly repaired, and thus updated by sheer happenstance of newer, better refined rebuilding charms. These sections here had been restored to a like-new version of their original splendor.
Just as she'd felt her first time setting foot in Hogwarts as a child raised in the Muggle world, Hermione very much had a sense just now that she had entered a different age, entirely.
Stopping outside her door in the teacher's wing, she looked down, tipping Crookshanks' cage enough that she could meet the gaze of her loyal Kneazle-cat. "Here we go," she whispered with a smile.
The feline simply looked up at her, his eyes impossibly large. She imagined if he were human, he'd be pouting at her. This beast, with his so-ugly-its-cute face, only made expressions like this when no else was about. She knew he was less than pleased at being in the older portion of the castle, being so sensitive to spirits and otherworldly phenomena.
She met his pleading look with one of her own as she grasped the door's antique handle and pulled. "Now, you stop. You know you're going to get used to—"
Freezing at Remus' voice—his notably surprised voice—calling her name, she looked up. There, in the middle of the room she'd just thrown open the door to, stood Remus Lupin . . . a towel slung around his hips and another over his head. She denied that the notice of droplets beading his skin had her forcing a gulp down her throat.
And there was certainly no flush of warmth in her face because of it, either. No, absolutely not!
"I . . . I was . . . . I'm sorry, my—my room, um . . . ." Oh, goodness, how embarrassing, it seemed she'd forgotten how to speak! Marshalling her focus as best she could while she and this, this . . . dripping wet, naked aside from rightly-placed towels Remus stared wide-eyed at one another, she forced out the words. "I could've sworn this was the room Professor McGonagall said was mine."
He shook his head, and she could swear it looked like he forced a gulp of his own before he could answer. "Third door on the left is yours, Hermione. You're across the corridor."
"Right, right, I mean, obvious this isn't—isn't my room if you're . . . if you're in it, so I'll just . . . ." She couldn't even finish her sentence, shutting the door between them.
Remus blinked, darting his gaze about the room for a few heartbeats as he listened. It seemed a moment passed before he heard her footfalls finally cross to the proper door. As though she'd needed a minute before she could make herself move.
He tried to put the way she'd just looked at him out of him head as he returned to toweling off. That included pretending he didn't feel the half-smile curving his lips.
"For the last time, it's really okay," he said with a chuckle, "it was an honest mistake."
Classes were due to start tomorrow at nine, after the Night Class students had their breakfast, and though Hermione was assisting Remus to set up his classroom in preparation, he couldn't help but notice her reticence. Hermione was many things . . . not-chatty wasn't among them.
When he'd asked about the reason for her silence, she hurried, stumbling over her words, as she explained how mortified she about the wrong room incident.
"I just felt so stupid. It's not like me to misremember such a simple detail."
Setting down the texts he'd been carrying to the impossibly wide bookcase at the back of the room, he turned to face her. Crossing the floor to stand before her, he asked, "Hermione, you and I are friends, aren't we?"
She nodded, immediately darting her gaze up to meet his. Dear Merlin, this woman had to stop giving him surprised looks with those already large chestnut-colored eyes of hers, it was really in danger of causing thoughts that had precious little to do with friendship skittering through his head.
"Of course we are!"
He fought hard not to let a small smile grace his lips—fought and lost—as he answered, "And friends forgive one another for being stupid."
"Oh, you." She pursed her lips, trying for a displeased expression, but ended up laughing. He was poking fun at her, but she supposed she deserved it.
Remus knew he shouldn't say what he was thinking as she turned back to her current task of sorting jars in the cupboard of potions ingredients, but he couldn't help himself. Some part of him was wildly—if not wholly appropriately—curious to see her reaction.
"If it will make you feel better, I could always put us on equal footing, again, by walking in on you when you've just stepped from the bath."
His brows shot up at sound. All right, letting one of the jars slip from her grasp was unexpected.
Once more wide-eyed, she turned her head to look at him. When she remained silent, he cleared his throat awkwardly and nodded. "Right, let me help you with that." With a flick of his wand to clean up the mess, he rushed to help her put the rest of the jars away.
"That was unfair of you," she scolded, her tone so low, he barely heard it.
He frowned, knowing she was right. Hermione Granger had grown into a young woman, yes, but she clearly did not see him that way—strange that this was a moment that made him miss Sirius. Their departed friend, with his irreverence and the strange edge of mild flirtation he'd managed to put on pretty much everything.
"Sorry." He was no Sirius Black, and he should realize after her embarrassment over her mistake that teasing her further was bound to upset her.
"It's fine, Remus." Shaking her head, she forced a smile. God, he really didn't realize why she was bothered by this whole mess, did he? Of course not, Hermione, you're still a child to him. She wondered if he was even aware her nineteenth birthday was in a few weeks. Probably wouldn't matter, anyway.
She nearly jumped out of her skin at the feel of his fingertips brushing the side of her throat, then.
Blinking up at him, she noticed he was not looking at her face, but at the sweep of his hand across her neck. "Sorry, some of the thistle powder got on you."
"Oh." That single sound was all she could manage in response, aware he must not realize what the stroking of his fingers along the pulse below her ear was doing to her.
This was madness! He was her friend and her former teacher—and a widower, and a father, and the list of wrongness could go on and on—why was she suddenly so, so . . . giddy about being close to him like this?
He must've noticed there was something different in the way she was looking at him, she realized, because his hand stilled in the air, hovering against her skin as he met her gaze.
Oh, sweet Merlin! She knew she wasn't imagining the way his gaze searched her face, just now.
It seemed they were both trying to open their mouths to speak at the same time, both lacking for what, exactly to say. Now—now—she didn't know if she was imagining that his face might be drifting closer to hers.
A distinct popping sound at the other end of the room cut into the moment, and they both jumped a little. Turning to face the sound, they found a scroll had appeared atop the teacher's desk.
Biting hard into his bottom lip, Remus gave himself a shake. He couldn't look at her just now, not while being so uncertain what that had just been between them. Crossing the floor, he snatched up the scroll and unfurled it.
Furrowing his brow as he read it over, he turned his attention to Hermione. "Minerva's relaying a summons from Kingsley to report to the Ministry, immediately."
"A summons from . . . ? All right, I suppose I can finish up for you here. There's not much more to—"
"No, Hermione. It's for both of us." Remus walked over to her, once more, handing her the scroll so she could see for herself. "He needs to show us something in the Department of Mysteries."
After a quiet moment, she said in a low, puzzled tone, "Something we won't believe until we see it? What on earth could that be?"
"Your guess is as good as mine."
When the very confused—and mildly frightened—pair arrived at the Ministry, they were even more confused to find the Minster awaiting them in the grand foyer. "Good," Kingsley said, the moment he caught sight of them. "C'mon, this way."
Hermione decided to refrain from mentioning that they knew the way to the Department of Mysteries perfectly well on their own. Instead, she fell into step with Remus as they trailed, respectfully but at a quick pace, behind Minister Shacklebolt.
They'd walked in silence for some time, only when they entered the DoM did Kingsley begin to speak. His voice, low though it was, echoed unnervingly in the vast chamber; the effect seemed unnatural for how cluttered the space was with shelves and artifacts.
"This is something . . . wholly unprecedented. You must understand, we can't find any documentation on such an occurrence happening before, nor do we have any idea if this is some fluke of magic, or if someone is responsible."
Hermione and Remus both paused as they realized their destination. Eyeing the entryway that led to that horrible place, they exchanged a glance.
"Kings—Minister Shacklebolt, what exactly are we doing here?"
Kingsley's massive shoulders drooped as he opened the door and started down the winding staircase, at the base of which was the unexplainable artifact that had brought them so much heartache a little over two years past. When he realized they would not follow until he answered, he sighed, halting on the top step and looking back at them.
"He refuses to leave this room until he's assured he's safe by faces he trusts. I don't fit the bill because we hadn't known one another very well."
"He?" Hermione and Remus echoed the word in the same breath.
Kingsley nodded. Then, appearing to think better, he stepped out of the door and waved for them to go on ahead.
Hermione wasn't certain what to do. She dropped her gaze to the floor, not really believing her own ears—not believing who she thought must be down there. She wanted to go look, but didn't know if she could even will her legs to move, just now.
But then, she felt the warm, sure grasp of a hand around hers. Startled, she looked up. Remus was watching her face, his expression both serene and understanding in that way that only he could manage.
Nodding, she squeezed her fingers around his and they started down the steps, side by side.
Remus knew exactly what he was seeing as they descended the staircase and a hunched figure, draped in a blanket came into view. He understood there was no other person that could be as his gaze traced over the head of long jet hair.
He fought against the lump forming in his throat. This was truly a moment he never thought would happen.
As they reached the foot of the steps, however, the figure had yet to move. He didn't even seem to acknowledge that other people had entered the chamber. That dreaded archway seemed to claim his focus.
Remus opened his mouth to speak, but his voice caught in his throat.
Hermione stepped forward, her hand still in Remus'. "Sirius?"
The figure jumped at his name—at the familiar voice—and he spun on his heel.
They stared back at him, wide-eyed. He looked exactly as he had the moment he'd fallen through. His confused gaze leapt from Hermione to Remus, and back.
"It's true then? It's been years since I—"
"Yes. Two years, handful of months." Hermione nodded, aware that though she still looked like herself, she was clearly no longer the sixteen year old child he'd last seen. "The War's won. There's so much to catch up on. We never . . . we never thought—"
This time, it was Sirius who cut her off by rushing forward and throwing his arms around both of them. "Thank Merlin! I thought I'd gone mad!"
At last, Remus was able to speak as he returned his long-lost friend's embrace. "Wouldn't be the first time."
Hermione snickered, though the sound was as tearful as it was joyful, while Sirius said, "Oh, shut up, you! Where's Harry?"
"Harry's unfortunately indisposed—a special Auror training program hosted in Swansea, but word has been sent to him," Kingsley informed the still mildly-disoriented man as he came to the bottom of the stairs. "I've discussed Sirius' situation with Minerva. We've agreed that perhaps it's best he be tended to in the privacy of Hogwarts. Poppy is quite the capable Medi-witch, she'll be able to properly diagnose any issues he may have following his ordeal."
Hermione frowned, pulling away from the tangle of their hug to face the Minister. "Hogwarts? But why not—?"
"At this moment, until we can better understand, and define, his condition . . . ." Kingsley sighed as he met each of their gazes, in turn. "He is considered, well, a Revenant."
"So he's—technically—a magical creature?"
"That's the problem, I'm not entirely certain. No one is, but at the very least, he currently falls into the category of having a magical malady." The Minister shrugged as he replied to Hermione's question. "The Wizarding world will not be comfortable with his return, unless—"
Remus nodded. "Unless he's someplace that has been adapted to suit such beings."
"I'm sorry, I know it's not what you hoped to hear, but—"
"No, no." Sirius threw off the blanket and tossed his arms around Hermione and Remus' shoulders, starting to rush them up the staircase. "Hogwarts is good, perfect. Love Hogwarts. Let's get out of here. I hate that bloody Arch"
Though, Kingsley knew this whole mess was a bit unorthodox, the initial medical examination of Sirius showed he was in perfect health. He didn't seem aware of the passing of any time since falling through the Arch. Nor could he shed any light on how he'd come back, so keeping him seemed to serve little purpose.
"I've sent the necessary paperwork ahead to Minerva," he called after them. Really, he just wanted this out of his hands.
"Necessary paperwork?" Hermione asked in a hushed tone as they reached the top of the steps.
Sirius gave a lopsided grin. "Oh, yes, that you're taking custody of an otherwise undefined supernatural creature."
Hermione and Remus exchanged a glance around Sirius. "So, we're responsible for you?" The witch asked, unable to help laughing at the prospect.
"Fantastic," Remus said with a shake of his head as they made their way out to a place from which they could safely Apparrate back to the boundary of Hogwarts' castle grounds.
"Again, shut up, you."
"He really does seem to be in perfect health," Poppy said in conversation with Minerva, Hermione, and Remus, later that same night following her own in-depth examination of the mysteriously-returned wizard. "I'd like to continue to monitor him, however. I want him back here once every forty-eight hours for follow-up exams."
"Oh, Poppy, you flirt," Sirius said with a grin and a wink.
Minerva and Poppy both rolled their eyes. Hermione wondered if this was the sort of nonsense they'd put up with when he'd been a student.
"Remus, he'll be sharing your room for the time being. Though, we don't have a post open, currently, I'm sure we'll find something to make him useful while he's here." That was Minerva's final word on the matter.
"I still can't believe it," Sirius said, his head shaking as he turned his attention to Hermione. He held his hand out to her.
Unable to stop a smile from curving her lips—the sparkle in his blue-grey eyes was something she wasn't sure she'd appreciated when she was younger—she stepped closer, resting her fingers over his.
"You've gotten so old!"
Remus and the elder witches all burst out laughing as Hermione uttered a scoffing sound and tried to pull away. Chuckling, as well, Sirius closed his hand around hers and pulled the young woman in for a hug.
"You're terrible," she said, giving into a laugh, as well, though she turned in Sirius' arms to be able to face the room.
The dark-haired wizard could only agree with her. "Oh, I'm awful. You've really no idea."
Remus cleared his throat, ignoring the strange twinge that went through him at seeing Hermione and Sirius more or less wrapped around one another. "Okay, walk us through this. How did you come back? Hermione and I were there. We saw you fall through the Arch."
"That's the thing, I don't really remember." Sirius rested his chin over Hermione's shoulder as he held Remus' gaze. "It was sort of like I was sleeping—like I was dreaming, everything was fuzzy, I couldn't really make sense of anything. I remember falling through the Arch, I remember everyone shouting . . . and then there was this fuzzy nothingness. I didn't mention it to Shacklebolt, because—at the time—I thought maybe I'd imagined it, but I could swear someone was calling to me. Then, I awoke outside the Arch, but I was alone. I really thought there'd been someone else there, but when I looked about, the entire chamber was empty."
"Someone called to you?" Hermione shook her head, shifting enough to be able to look at Sirius' face. "So . . . your saying someone pulled you from the Arch?"
She could feel the movement against her as he shrugged. "Seems so. I can't explain it otherwise," he said, frowning.
Hermione couldn't help but place her arms over Sirius' just then, suddenly worried for, well, everyone, really. "If there's someone out there with the power to do that . . . . What does that mean?"
Remus swallowed hard, but shook his head, clearly thinking the same question. Poppy looked at a loss for words, and Minerva wore an expression that was a cross between fretting and angry at her own inability to answer.
"I've no idea," the Headmistress said in a low, grave voice.