AN: Hey party people! We're back!
It's been four months since I started rewriting BFP, and I gotta say I feel a lot better about it. I love Younger Me, but she wrote like ADHD was her only personality trait. I swear. But we're ready to go again! Thank you to everyone who posted comments and reviews of support, you guys are the reason I keep writing and your words mean so much 3
I've got several chapters already typed and ready to go, so I'm going to try and stick to a weekly update on Thursdays. This way I can keep writing and hopefully stay on top of things this time around. I feel like I've got a better grasp of character voices and plot direction this time around, but the heart of the story hasn't changed. You'll probably recognize a few things although they are hopefully better written, make more sense, and flow a little better.
I'm so excited to get started again, so here's Beauty From Pain: Take 2: Chapter 1! And as always, let me know what you guys think! Love to you all!
It had started out simply enough, although the most complicated things in life usually do.
After the Final Battle at Hogwarts, Hermione had worked tirelessly on reconstruction alongside Harry, Ron, and all the other survivors. She had pushed aside the chaos in her mind and her heart so she could focus on the spell-work needed for so much rebuilding, but when they had finished the chaos crept back in. So entirely overwhelmed by the emotional turmoil, the nightmares, and the pain, Hermione had left the magical world and hidden herself away in a quiet corner of Muggle London. Perhaps, she had thought, taking a break from all things magical would be good for her, at least for a little while.
It had been purely by chance that she had stumbled upon that particular tattoo parlor on that particularly rainy day.
She had heard of and even seen tattoos while living with her muggle parents, but had never given them a second thought until that day. At first, she had wanted to keep her battle scars - reminders of what she had survived and what she had conquered. The crude, jagged carving of 'mudblood' on her forearm was a reminder that she was more than her blood, more than where she came from or what she had been through. But if that were the case, she was more than her scars wasn't she?
And so she had gotten them covered; she allowed something beautiful to blossom from something that had been so painful for so long. The tattoo, which was only supposed to be a few flowers, ended up becoming a mosaic of flora on her forearm that spread over her arm and brushed the top of her shoulder. It was the artist's fault, really. Watching the flowers come to life on her skin had been entirely hypnotizing, and when he had tried to stop she had insisted he was to keep going. The ever curious part of her watched in fascination and itched to learn such an incredible craft.
She befriended the tattoo artist and even apprenticed there for a while, building a portfolio that impressed all of her clients, but her never-resting brain kept thinking of the endless possibilities. And so she became fully immersed into the muggle tattoo world. She wasn't hiding from the magical world. Hermione Granger didn't hide, but she was certainly enjoying her sabbatical. The small part of her, the young girl whose childhood was stolen and who feared ever returning to a place full of so many bad memories, she wished to stay safe among the muggles. But it wasn't enough, and she missed the ones she'd left behind.
It began with drawings, sketches of designs that might move or might glow; fanciful things that Hermione assured her new friends were merely creative imaginings. Then came the runes, the arithmancy formulas, and the patent rough drafts that swiftly overtook every available surface of her tiny apartment. Before she knew it, she had everything she could need to venture back into the Wizarding World and open her own shop. Perhaps a part of her had known that she couldn't stay away forever; that working at someone else's shop wouldn't be enough for her.
She was gone for nearly three years before she finally found the strength to go back.
Hermione told her muggle friends that she had family who needed her which wasn't entirely a lie. The survivors of the Battle at Hogwarts had become a family to her, and she missed them desperately. She hadn't packed up her belongings though and decided to keep her muggle flat in London. Having someplace she could escape to would make returning to the wizarding world a little easier - at least she hoped it would.
Finding a place to rent in Diagon Alley had been surprisingly easy. Although she had fairly low standards and took the first place she found, at least she found a place quickly.
She felt a grimace pull at her face as she gazed up at the building.
It was, in a word, dilapidated. The front door barely hung upon it's hinges, leaning too far to the right within its frame and allowing slivers of the shadows beyond to peek through. Dust and grime clouded the front windows beyond the point of being able to see through them, a colony of spiders nesting in the shaded corners. Compared to the rest of Diagon Alley, the storefront was rather small and tucked away between the other shops. She had walked past it at least twice before she realized the glorified hole-in-the-wall was hers. The ad which claimed it was "quaint" and "charming" was so far past misleading it was almost unscrupulous. They had overcharged her for a broken down shack.
'But it's mine,' she thought with a small smile. Clutching the key a little tighter, she let out a heavy breath and tried to shake herself of her jitters.
It felt like a movie moment, sliding the key into the lock of her first shop and opening the door to new possibilities. Inspirational music playing in the background, and a wise voice narrating, and...
The key was jammed.
She huffed in frustration and jiggled the lock. The key wouldn't budge, the lock wouldn't turn. She swore she could see flecks of rust falling from the handle as she tried to force the lock to release her key. The door groaned, as if laughing at her weak attempts to gain entry. For such a seemingly ramshackle slab of wood it was being surprisingly resilient.
She grabbed the key with both hands, braced one foot against the door, and grumbled lowly, "Give me back my key, evil door. You're interrupting. My. Moment." She punctuated her last sentence with sharp tugs until the key finally slid free. She raised it triumphantly in the air. "Ha! Take that, evil door."
Glancing around furtively, she remembered she was in the middle of the Alley and blushed lightly in embarrassment. She glared at the door as though it were to blame for its lack of cooperation and whipped out her wand. The magic raced up her arm causing her fingertips to tingle and a wave of pleasure to dance down her spine. It had been too long, the magic felt like a reunion under her skin. Her unlocking spell snapped through her vine wood wand like a crack of lightning and effortlessly released the troublesome lock.
Oh how she had missed magic.
Sighing blissfully and gripping her wand tight, she tentatively entered the shop and immediately went into a coughing fit from the pounds of dust that entered her lungs.
"Dear Merlin," she wheezed out and blinked rapidly to try and dispel her tears.
When she was finally able to see properly, she looked around and sighed. She certainly had her work cut out for her.
The building looked as though it had been abandoned longer than she had been alive. Paint was coming off the walls in sheets, at least she hoped it was paint and not the walls themselves. As she walked further inside, her steps caused layers of dust to rise up around her. The balls of dust on the floor were big enough to pay rent. She closed her eyes for a long moment to try and remind herself to see past the grime, past the endless list of repairs, and to see the future the building was capable of. She had handled worse.
Opening her eyes, a small smile began to make its way onto her face. She could see it.
The counter, the office, and the artwork. She could see the customers and hear the faint buzzing of working equipment. A laugh bubbled up from her chest until it finally broke free, a carefree sound she hadn't made in a long time. A laugh full of excitement and hope.
If the shop didn't manage to kill her first, as it had been trying to do all morning, then she would finally be able to take steps towards the future. A good future. A future she, and only she, was in control of. She could feel her excitement bubbling under her skin and hoped from foot to foot, a wide grin filling her face.
"This place is just full of charm, isn't it?"
Whipping around to face her visitors, Hermione's grin nearly split her cheeks.
Ginny Weasley and Luna Lovegood stood in her doorway.
She barreled towards them and nearly knocked them over with the weight of her hug. The sound of their laughter echoed in her ears and made her heart swell.
"Oh I've missed you both so much!"
"We've missed you too, Hermione." Luna brushed her thumb against Hermione's cheeks and wiped away the tears she hadn't known she was crying. "Three years is far too long."
"It certainly was," Ginny agreed. She roughly rubbed the palm of her hand against her eyes to hide her own tears. "Are you back for good?"
Hermione held up the store key and said, "I most certainly am."
"And you're opening a what-shop again?"
"Tattoo shop." Hermione brushed some hair out of her face and looked around the empty room. "Hopefully it won't take too much work, but this place will eventually be a place people can get designs permanently etched into their skin."
"Muggles are crazy," Ginny muttered before giving Hermione a smirk. "I had better be your first customer."
"And I second!" Luna hopped over next to Ginny, ignoring the small clouds of dust she left in her wake.
"What are you going to call it?" Ginny asked.
"It needs a good name," Luna said thoughtfully. "Something meaningful and memorable."
Hermione gazed at the two of them, her heart happy to finally have them with her again. They were the best friends she could ask for; kind, loving, and so strong. They had survived so much together.
They both looked at her, confused by her sudden answer.
She grinned. "Virago. Women who demonstrate exemplary and heroic qualities."
"Oh, I think I know a few of those," Luna said excitedly.
Hermione's shop had been open for a few months, the name Virago slowly becoming more popular among the younger wizards and witches in Britain. Granted, she hadn't been very well received in the beginning, but having Ginny and Luna as her first customers had given her shop the fame she unfortunately needed.
The Prophet had been very quiet at first; no one was very interested in a muggle tattoo shop opening up. When they had found out Hermione ran it, they had immediately run stories about where she had been over the last three years, conveniently forgetting to mention Virago at all. Very reluctantly, she had called Ginny and Luna and asked for their help. A few good reviews to the press had turned into several tattoos, and before she knew it her friends had almost as many as she did.
Ginny's first tattoo had been one of her favorites. A small inking on her inner wrist, Fred's name curled around exploding fireworks. They swirled and changed colors in a way muggles could never achieve, but the part Hermione was most proud of was the fact that "Fred" slowly changed into "Gred" and back again. It had been an incredibly emotional day and ended with both girls crying in the back office over glasses of wine; Hermione wouldn't trade it for the world.
After that, her shop became more and more popular. Eventually she was able to have several appointments a day which thankfully kept her too busy to worry about what the Prophet was saying about her. Some of the rumors were truly outrageous.
"War Heroine Back From Saving Lives Abroad"
"Granger Abandoned Friends And Family"
"Golden Girl: Secret Romance?"
It was truly ridiculous what lengths the reporters would go to. It almost made her wonder what horrible articles they had written while she was gone. About poor Harry, Ginny, Ron...
She shook herself out of her thoughts when she heard the faint tinkling of the bell over the door. "Be with you in a moment," she shouted and quickly finished wiping down the counter. Using the towel to dry off her hands, she walked out into the front room and froze.
Theodore Nott was standing in her shop.
They stared at each other for several moments, both looking surprised at seeing the other. Her thoughts raced through her head, all of them confused over why he would be standing in her shop of all places.
Theodore was, in her books, one of the good Slytherins to come out of Hogwarts. During the battles, he had stayed in the dungeons protecting the younger students and trying to comfort them as best he could. Despite the fact he had been marked just like his father, he had decided against fighting with the Death Eaters, and that redeemed him in her eyes. But they had never spoken before or had any interactions while in school, so why on earth was he standing in her shop?
She decided to be blunt.
"What can I do for you, Mr. Nott?"
He flinched lightly at the way she addressed him and let his gaze drift to the floor. "I apologize, I didn't realize this was your shop."
She frowned; that didn't answer her question.
"It is. Did you come here to make an appointment?"
Theodore looked everywhere but at her and his fingers tapped a swift rhythm against his leg. She could feel his anxiety from across the room.
"I did," he finally said. "However, I understand if you would prefer not to have people like me here."
"People like you?"
He didn't hesitate to say, "Death Eaters."
She nodded her head, a grim expression creasing her eyebrows into a frown. "While I would prefer not to have certain patronage in my shop, I think a few exceptions can be made considering."
He looked up at her sharply. "Considering?"
"You protected the children," she said simply. "Actions speak louder than words, in my opinion." She glanced at his left arm. "Louder than marks as well."
"Then you can...?" His question trailed off, but the rueful look he gave his left arm told her everything.
She took a few hesitant steps towards him. "I haven't tried before," she said carefully. "That kind of magic is… difficult. But I'm more than willing to try."
Theodore nodded solemnly; her willingness to try was a better response than he had anticipated. "I am willing to try most anything to get rid of it."
"Well you're in luck," she said with a soft smile. "I'm appointment free this afternoon, so we can sit down and plan out the kind of designs and colors you would like to use. Then we can see what spell work might be needed."
"You can do whatever design you like."
His answer startled her. "You don't want to decide for yourself?"
"No." He shook his head firmly. "I don't care what you paint on me; I just want it gone." His voice was firm but the defeated tone underneath made her heart ache.
"Would you mind if I ask a few questions then, to give me an idea of what would be fitting?"
He shook his head again, but she could see the hesitance both in the movement and in his gaze.
"They aren't not too personal," she promised. "For example, what's your favorite color?"
Theodore's brow twitched in surprise but a small smile curved the corner of his lips. "Green."
A surprised laugh escaped her before Hermione clapped a hand over her mouth. "Oh I'm so sorry!"
Theodore's smile spread wider. "I know, it's horribly cliche."
"No, no, it's a lovely color." She giggled quietly behind her hand.
"Not Slytherin green, if that makes it any better. I prefer a more subdued shade, like an olive."
"Oh yes, of course. That's much better." She tried to hide her smile and nod seriously, but she could feel the corners of her mouth twitching. She cleared her throat and began rummaging around in her front desk for a spare sketchbook; she had them scattered all over the shop for just this kind of occasion. "Do you have any hobbies?"
"Mostly just reading." He watched her all but disappear behind the large book she pulled out and tried not to laugh at her furiously concentrating expression. "I enjoy potion making but was never as good as you or Draco."
She hummed quietly in acknowledgment and worked to try and quickly capture the image forming in her head. "Any favorite authors?"
He pursed his lips and frowned slightly. "That's a hard choice; there are a lot of good ones. If I had to choose, right now at least, probably Viridian, Carneiro, or Shakespeare."
Hermione's head snapped up. "You've read Shakespeare?"
Theodore chuckled at how shocked she sounded. "Yes, I have. It's believed he was a squib."
"Interesting." Her mind wandered for a moment over the possibilities of a magical Romeo and Juliet. A lot of his writing would make more sense if his parents had… She shook her head and focused back on Theodore. Right, well, I think I have a decent idea." She squinted at her sketch and tried to resist the urge to scrap it and start over. "But I'd like a little longer to work on it and make sure. Do you have time later this evening, or do we need to schedule an appointment for a later date?
"Unfortunately I have to meet with colleagues for dinner." He frowned at the clock on her wall. "But I can make time tomorrow if you are available?"
She smiled at his reluctance to leave. "Tomorrow should work just fine. A tattoo this size will require a bit of time to complete. I can send you an owl later today so we can arrange a time."
"Thank you, Granger."
"Please, call me Hermione."