Disclaimer: A rolling Rowling gathers no Moss.


Chapter 15

1 July 2004

"Georgina Pompeia Vector," Hermione said. "In recognition of your successful completion of an apprenticeship in Advanced Arithmancy—sometimes under extraordinarily difficult circumstances—and of the quality of your dissertation on the arithmantic analysis of Apparition, the Wizarding Examinations Authority is pleased to grant you the title of Arithmancy Mistress."

She handed Georgina her diploma and a rather archaic sash that was meant to be worn at formal events, though Hermione had never had occasion to wear one. Georgina beamed as she took them and hugged her. "Thank you, Hermione," she said, "and I just want you to know, as hard as the past three years have been, I wouldn't trade them for the world."

Hermione smiled back. "You're welcome, Georgina. I'm just glad you made it with me not knowing what I was doing."

"Please, you were brilliant. How many apprentices get to travel the world, kill dementors and discover lost treasure like that?"

"Not many, I suppose. Good luck, Georgina."

"You too, Hermione."

Hermione had a pleasant walk home, enjoying the summer weather. "Congratulations, Hermione," George said. "So what are you going to do now that you've graduated your first apprentice?"

She shrugged. "Probably not too different from what I've been doing, really, except it'll just be the two of us now…And Neville and Luna. We seem to have a habit of running into them."

"Probably would with Harry and Ginny too if they didn't have another baby on the way."

"True," she said. One thing did occur to her as they approached their flat, though. "You know, George, we've been in our flat for five years, now."

"Uh huh."

"And we've got more than enough money. Maybe it's time to start thinking about a house."

George stopped to face her. "Really? Any particular reason?"

"No. Not short term. It's just that when we do settle down, it would be nice to have. Better-protected, too."

"Ah. Makes sense. So you wanna buy a house?"

"Er…I'm willing to consider it, but I haven't given up my idea my idea of building a house of our own. I've drawn up a few sketches, made some plans for the wards and rune stones. Oh—that's not as much as it sounds. I just thought, with Georgina's apprenticeship done, maybe it's time to take a more serious look."

George smiled warmly and kissed her. "A nice house of our own in the country? Sounds wonderful, love. Where do you wanna put it."

"Oh, that's the easy part. I already marked out the best ley line intersections that aren't already taken."

"Ah. Nice." They walked arm in arm back to their flat, Hermione's head resting on his shoulder. "You know there's gonna be more people asking to be your apprentice," he noted.

"Yes, I know, but I'm going to take at least a year before starting another one."

"Oh, works for me."


18 August 2004

"Good morning, Weasleys," Harry said as he balanced little James on his hip. "I would like to introduce you to the newest member of our family, William Kingsley Potter."

That was maybe the most emotional birth since Nadia for the family. Mrs. Weasley cried over Harry and Ginny naming their second child after Bill. Fred and George quizzed them about Kingsley, but it made sense to honour the man who had led them into battle at Hogwarts. It was certainly better than, oh, Albus or something. Hermione even brought Marcus around to meet to ever-growing list of Weasley cousins, and a joyous time was had by all.

Over the coming months, they would see that unlike James, little Billy had inherited Harry's green eyes. Ginny insisted he'd be a looker like his father, which left Harry quite flustered and unsure how to respond. Fred insisted that he'd have to compete with baby Lee, who had the advantage of being born on Valentine's Day. Hermione thought the whole conversation was ridiculous.


19 September 2004

"We didn't really need to come out here today," Hermione said.

"So? Live a little," her husband replied. "We might as well pick a location before winter comes."

"Alright, alright. Let's check it out."

Hermione and George had looked over the ley line map and decided on their first choices for where to build their house. It could really be anywhere the ley lines were good since they'd have a Floo, and they wouldn't be any more isolated than a lot of old, pureblood manors. In fact, it might send a message that they were building one of their own

There were exactly two locations in the British Isles where four regional-scale ley lines intersected that didn't already have a stone circle on them, and Hermione considered those her first choices. The first was in South Yorkshire, about midway between York and Sheffield; and the second was in Shropshire, about twenty miles west of Birmingham.

They visited both locations to get a feel for them. The South Yorkshire location was marked on the map as Hawkhouse Green, although it was no more than a cluster of four farmhouses today. It was three miles away from the nearest town the size of Ottery St. Catchpole, Askern, and one mile from Moss, a tiny village of three hundred. The Shropshire location was on the outskirts of a village of two hundred called Quatt and was about four miles from a larger town called Bridgnorth, but it was otherwise much more isolated.

They talked it over, and it was pretty clear Hawkhouse Green was the better choice, even if their family would be a bit miffed they were moving so far north. It no farther from the outskirts of Doncaster than from Askern and, it had a couple other villages nearby and a few immediate neighbours—close, but not too close. The house would have to be two hundred yards back from the road and behind a hedgerow, but that suited a magical family just fine.

Hermione waved her wand like a dowsing rod and led George to the exact place where the ley lines converged, a horse pasture that probably technically belonged to one of the farmhouses. They could feel the magic humming through the air on the spot. "So what do you think, dear?" she asked.

George looked around at the scenery. "I like it," he said. "It's a lot like home. Maybe a little quieter. No paddock or apple orchard, but we can work something out once we have the space. How about you. Is it everything you wanted?"

"Well, no place it perfect, but this…this is pretty nice," she said. "I think this is it."

"Great," he flashed his winning smile. "Hawkhouse Green it is. Now, let's go find the owner and ask how much he wants for this field."

Hermione smiled back and kissed him. "Yes. Let's."

"Happy twenty-fifth, love," he added.


31 December 2004

"Who would've thought we'd be spending New Year's Eve like this," Hermione said.

"It was your idea to come here," George reminded her.

"I know, it's just…seeing all this…" She looked out at the plain of rubble stretching up and down the beach as far as the eye could see, then waved her wand to clear another small patch of it. She winced when the uncovering revealed a human arm.

"Got another one!" she called, and the recovery team hurried to collect it.

The death toll from the tsunami was surpassing 120,000 at last count. That number was known to include dozens of wizards and perhaps more once the proverbial dust cleared. It had been an exhausting week: rescue, recovery, and by now mostly cleanup in the areas wizards frequented.

Half the Weasley clan had come when the news broke. Wizards had poured in from all over the world to help the displaced, the injured, and the dying—wizard and muggle alike. The officials looked the other way or outright condoned it as long as the muggles didn't remember any magic being cast, but it seemed like so little in the face of such devastation.

Hermione and George had spent most of the week on Sumatra, where the worst of the damage had occurred, but now that the window for finding survivors was more or less closed, they'd moved on to India and Sri Lanka, repairing magical settlements and recovering artifacts, some of which they'd seen before on their world tour. Ron, meanwhile had gone east. Apparently there were some new runic discoveries he wanted a look at. Most of the rest had given up hope of making much more difference and had gone home for New Year's, and Hermione couldn't really blame them for that. It was far more death than they'd seen even in the Battle of Hogwarts.

Still, they kept working until sundown before returning to the tent city set up for the displaced wizards and recovery workers. The nights here were more pleasant than she'd feared. People in difficult situations like this found ways to entertain themselves. When they returned to the camp, however, they were greeted by a man in well-pressed robes that, while not ostentatious, still looked out of place amid all this destruction.

"Professor Granger," he said as he approached them, "it is good to meet you. I am Chandra Sahadev, Indian Minister for Magic."

"Oh! Pleasure, Minister," Hermione said. "Can we help you?"

"You and your husband have been helping a great deal already, Professor Granger," Sahadev said. "We very much appreciate it."

"Ah. Well, thank you, Minister," she said, "although we've mostly been in Indonesia this week."

"That's understandable. In fact we sent some of our own people there as soon as we could spare them. I wanted to thank the two of you personally on behalf of all the countries affected by this disaster. I've been making the rounds to many of the international relief workers today."

Ah, that made a bit more sense. "We're happy to help, Minister," George said.

Sahadev nodded and took a letter out of his pocket. "I was also asked to speak to you on behalf of the Indian Cursebreakers' Association. They express their gratitude for your help at several cursebreaking sites over the years and for recovering certain valuable artifacts from the rubble over the past two days, along with your relief efforts. In light of this, they wished to present you with a gift."

Hermione's eyebrows shot up. A gift certainly wasn't what she expected. "That's very generous of them," she said. "And I'm kind of surprised they're doing it now. What is it?"

"Now that is an interesting story," he said. "The tales say that you wore a basilisk-skin coat in the British Wizarding War."

"Yes, it was a gift from Cursebreaker Ashoka Narahari," she said. "It saved my life a couple of times."

"But you don't wear it any longer?"

"No, not anymore. Damaged beyond repair in the Battle of Hogwarts, I'm afraid. Sleeves gone, hem's in tatters. I kept it, but I shouldn't think I'll ever wear it again."

"Yes, that's what we were told when we enquired at the British Ministry. Therefore, in recognition of your contributions to India's people and cultural heritage, the Cursebreakers' Association would like to present you with this new basilisk-skin coat to replace the one that was destroyed."

An assistant came up and handed the new coat to her, and her eyes grew wide. It was a fancier-looking style than her old one, double-breasted with silver buttons instead of tortoiseshell and a matching belt. To her surprise, the colour was brighter than her old coat, which was a dark forest green and was itself more colourful than the basilisk in the Chamber of Secrets had been. Additionally, the sleeves could be undone and pinned back so she could wear her buckler with it. (Though she'd since been informed it wasn't technically a buckler, that wasn't probably the closest term.)

"This…this is a beautiful coat," she stammered.

"I'll say," George said. "Let's see you try it on."

Hermione obliged, shrugging the coat on and turning around for him. It was just about the right size, too. "So what do you think?"

"Damn sexy, love." He leaned towards her.

"George, not now," she whispered, then turned back to the Minister. She guessed she wouldn't be able to get away with refusing. "Minister Sahadev, tell the Cursebreakers' Association they didn't have to go to the trouble, but I absolutely love the coat."

It was good to get a replacement for her old coat, she decided. She'd have to add a nanofibre lining like the old one, of course. Maybe be a little smarter about the thermal properties of the nanotubes, too. The old one was always a bit too warm for the places she wanted to wear it. And she'd have to keep an eye out for some appropriate way to reciprocate to the Cursebreakers Association now that she actually had the capability.


26 March 2005

"I'm the Doctor, by the way. What's your name?"

"Rose."

"Nice to meet you, Rose. Run for your life."

"See, this is why I wanted a television," Hermione said.

"And this is also why you wanted people to call you 'the Doctor'?" George said. "I don't get it."

"Oh, you will, dear," she told him. "You will. Look, the sonic screwdriver is practically a wand already…Say, do you think you could make your toy wands look like that?

George turned to her. "Think that would sell well?" he asked.

Hermione laughed. "I can guarantee just about every muggle-born will want one."


1 April 2005

"I suppose I should have expected this," George said.

"Well, the house isn't just going to be a present for me. It's going to be for you, too," his wife informed him.

"I know. And if you want to break ground today, that's fine with me. I won't even do any pranks."

Hermione stood on her toes and kissed him on the cheek as they walked arm in arm out to the field at Hawkhouse Green. At present, there was only a muggle surveyor with them, although they had talked to architects and builders whenever they were home since last autumn. Now, they were ready to start digging. She made an exact note of the centre of the ley line convergence and told the surveyor to mark it down. Then, she picked up the shovel.

"Shall we?" she asked.

"With you? Always," George said.

Together, they took the first ceremonial scoop of dirt from the field. The surveyor was kind enough to take a photo.

"Well, that looked good," he said when he finished. "Do you really want to build this far from the road, though?"

"Yes, we're sure," Hermione said.

"Yeah, very important we put it right here," George said. "It's…er, feng shui."

The surveyor gave them a funny look.

"Oh—oh, yes," Hermione improvised. "This spot has the best feng shui here for thirty miles around."

The surveyor shrugged and continued back to his truck. He was getting paid either way. "Alright. You might have to pay extra for landscaping when you're done, though."

Once he was out of earshot, Hermione whispered to George, "I'm surprised you know what feng shui is."

"Isn't that just Chinese for 'geomancy'?"

"Er…yes I suppose it is, but it means something different to muggles."

They were off. On Monday, the builders would come to start properly digging the foundation. Most of the work would be done on the muggle side, since they had more resources there and new building techniques, and they could get it properly wired for electricity, television, internet, and so forth. Plus, Hermione had more money in the muggle world from her jewelry, outside the capital controls of the goblins.

There would be some magic discreetly put into the building, like setting the massive quartz columns she was carving into the subbasement, but most of it would come afterwards—setting runes and enchantments for protection and efficient functioning to make it a truly magical home—besides having wards so strong they would have been fit for the Malfoys. This was going to be good.


7 July 2005

Hermione was helping Fred and George open the shop for the day when she first heard it—a distant bang, like a firework. She looked up. "George, did you hear something just now?" she asked.

George looked up from the till. "Yeah, I think I heard something."

"You aren't setting anything off, are you?"

"No, not before the shop opens. Thunder, maybe?"

"Not expecting any storms—" She stopped when she heard another bang. "Okay, that's not a good sign."

Fred came out from the back room. "Hey, is someone setting off fireworks in the city?"

There was a third bang.

"I have a bad feeling about this," she said.

But they didn't see anything amiss, so they cautiously continued opening up until shortly after the store opened, when a breathless boy ran in the door and shouted, "There's been an explosion at King's Cross!"

The three of them stared in horror, fearing the worst. It had been so long since there was a serious bombing in London. Had some followers of Barty Crouch or copycats reared their heads again? Then, George called out, "Verity, cover the till!" And they Apparated to King's Cross.

The station was in chaos. Muggles were running everywhere. Bobbies and emergency personal hurried to reach the victims. Among them, they quickly spotted a couple people in Auror Robes and others brandishing wands. Hermione, George, and Fred ran up to one. "Auror—!" she started.

"Granger! We need you in the tunnel!" the Auror barked.

"What? What happened?"

"The train on the Piccadilly Line exploded about a minute after it left the station. We need people to help shore up the tunnel and get the survivors out. Now!"

Her brain caught up with what he was saying. Smoke was pouring out of one of the tunnels as injured muggles stumbled out. She nodded and ran into the fray.

"Wizards!" he shouted behind her. "Check everyone for a Dark Mark—any type! Even the muggles! If there's any Death Eaters here, we can't let them get away!"

The tunnel was longer than she expected. She had to run nearly five hundred yards, pushing past frantic survivors to reach the train. The scene was ugly. The bomb had gone off in the first car, so she had to navigate most of the train to reach the damaged tunnel section, and the tunnel was narrow, so much of the blast was directed into the train. Finally, she stepped out of the destroyed wall of the train and into the tunnel.

A couple other wizards were already there, casting Repair Charms, but they could only do so much with those.

"Granger! Good," one of them said. "We need help with this. We need to keep the tunnel from collapsing, but we don't want it to look repaired, or the muggles will get suspicious. You have any tricks for that?"

"I can try," she said. It was a difficult operation, but she had a few ideas. Running her wand along each crack, she knitted the aggregate structure of the latticework of concrete and steel behind them. It would look the same. The signs of tampering would probably be hidden if the muggles tried to disassemble the wall to investigate, but it would hold together. She climbed up the remains of the train car and applied the same fix to the ceiling.

Once the tunnel was stable, she climbed down and joined the rescue workers pulling victims out of the tunnel. A few of the seriously injured that she could help, she healed, turning life-threatening injuries into superficial ones, again being careful to avoid muggle suspicion. A few others she pulled out from where they were buried under the rubble.

When she got back to the station, she was in for another surprise. Harry was there.

"Harry!" she ran to them. "What happened? Are you hurt?"

"No, no, I'm fine," he said. "Ginny's with the kids. I got a Patronus from Ron and came to help."

"Oh, of course. Were any wizards…"

"A few," he said. "No one we know so far. The muggle police are still trying to put the pieces together, but we think they hit three places: here, Edgeworth Road, and Liverpool Street."

"Any idea who did it?"

"No. No sign of any Death Eaters yet."

"With the slow response time we had, they might've got away."

Ron joined them, now. "We're not sure if it was wizards," he said. "We're still trying to figure out what happened. We're telling the muggles it was a power surge until we know more."

"Is that wise?" she said. "What if it was a muggle bombing?"

HE shrugged. "Then they made a mistake and had trouble identifying the culprit. It won't change the response much."

"What about the muggles? With all these wizards around…"

"It's King's Cross. There are modified Anti-Muggle Wards on all the exits. They won't remember anything magical they see in here."

"Is that going to be enough? There are cameras everywhere."

"King's Cross," he repeated. "But I'm worried about the other stations."

Hermione was, too. A big event getting a heavy magical response in the middle of the city, with CCTV everywhere? That was going to be a lot harder to hide than even the wizards going to the Hogwarts Express in autumn. She should keep a close eye on it in case they needed a muggle technology expert. Arthur tried, but she feared he wasn't up to the task.

But as it was, they kept working. There were hundreds of injured, probably dozens dead once they counted them up, and the muggles needed help. About fifteen minutes later, they heard another explosion, much more prominent than the first round. Everyone looked up.

"That sounded close," Hermione said. "Less than half a mile, I'd guess."

They ran out and scanned the horizon, and they soon found a new plume of smoke rising above the rooftops. They hurried to the location and found a bus had exploded. The scene looked disturbingly like the old photos of Peter Pettigrew's attack on Sirius in 1981.

"I don't think that was a power surge," Hermione said.

"No, 'fraid not," Ron agreed. "Was anyone on scene before us?" he called.

One or two Aurors had beat them there, but not by much. It was looking less and less like a Death Eater attack, though. King's Cross would make sense, but a random muggle bus? Not so much.

Minutes later, they received word that the entire Tube system had shut down. It wasn't until around eleven that the muggle authorities settled on a muggle terrorist attack as the explanation. Bus service was suspended at the same time. By three o'clock, a statement purportedly from al-Qaeda had surfaced taking credit for the attacks. At five, Gawain Robards finally gave the Ministry's first statement.

"After extensive investigation, we find no evidence of Death Eater involvement in the attacks this morning. All signs point to a muggle terrorist attack with no connection to the wizarding world."

"Has there been any word from other Ministries?" a reporter called out.

"The Iraqi and Afghan Ministries say they can't find any related activity there…" Robards said.

"Not surprising," Hermione muttered. "The statement was from Al-Qaeda-in-Europe or something like that."

"Does the Ministry believe it was al-Qaeda?" came another question.

"We don't have definite confirmation, but we think it very likely. The muggles are still investigating, but that's the working theory for them, too. I reiterate, there is no direct threat to the wizarding world. However, I urge everyone to stay vigilant and exercise cautious when travelling in major muggle cities. We will be increasing security around Magical London locations to prevent any further incidents in our world."

"'Our world,'" Hermione grumbled as they left. "I think you're right, Harry. Maybe we should be doing more. This affects us too. Pfft. All that, and it wasn't even wizards, let alone Death Eaters."

"Just bad luck that they hit King's Cross, I suppose," Harry said. "Or good luck if you're one of the muggles we helped. Don't know that there's much else we can do, though."

"No, I suppose not."


A/N: And in this chapter, we see why Hermione is still wearing a basilisk-skin coat in the cover image even though it was more or less destroyed in the Battle of Hogwarts. The background of the picture will be explained in the next chapter. Bonus points if anyone recognises it.