Title: Hermione Granger and the Mermaid's Curse 1/?

Author: Kristen



Disclaimer: I don't own the Harry Potter characters or anything else mentioned in the books. They belong to J.K. Rowling. Only this plot belongs to me.

Rating: PG-13, maybe R-ish later

Pairing: Undecided, let me know your vote. Ways to vote are listed under feedback.

Spoilers: All the way up to Book 5, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, it's all au after that point.

Summary: Hermione is hit with the Mermaid's Curse and is forced to return to the water every night. She must marry to lift the curse or lose her magic and become a mermaid forever.

AN: Feedback is much appreciated. Please tell me what you think and any pairings you'd like to see. I couldn't decide on one myself so I'm posting a couple parts and asking your opinion. I'll probably use whatever has the most votes, except Harry/Hermione. No amount of persuasion can convince me to write that ship. You get to decide what you'll see, so be sure to let me know in an email or a review depending on where you're reading this. Or, you can vote in the poll at

Since I can't seem to help myself this time, this fic will be quite angsty at times. Never fear though, I live for happy endings.

Part 1

"I'm sorry, Miss Granger." Madame Pomfrey looked worn and unhappy as she delivered the news. "There's nothing I can do."

"Unfortunately," Dumbledore interrupted sadly, "The curse Mr. Malfoy used is ancient. It hasn't been used much since ancient Greece and the counter- curse has slipped out of the realm of knowledge. He surely knew it, but the death of Lucius has put any possible answers beyond our reach."

Dumbledore looked just as worn and sad from the events of the war as Madame Pomfrey. Though Harry had finally triumphed over Voldemort this summer after their 6th year had ended the end had not come easy. Dumbledore had always been old but he had radiated an air of energy and youthful enthusiasm that belied his age. Events had worn away that aura, especially those that happened in their 5th year, and Dumbledore appeared to have aged 50 years in the span of two.

"There have been a few known incidents, of course," Dumbledore continued. "The most recent occurred in the late 1800's. However, all research shows that the only witches who escaped the curse's fate did so in the manner the curse demanded." Dumbledore sighed heavily. "I'm afraid your only option at present is to marry."

Hermione's heart sank at the news. She had been afraid of that. Since the moment Hermione had woken in the infirmary she had spent every spare ounce of energy she had in looking for a solution. She had gone through nearly every book in Hogwarts' library with Ron and Ginny's occasional help and gone to dozens of bookshops searching for answers. Dumbledore had been questioning contacts and searching through his own extensive library on her behalf while Pomfrey had tried every spell and counter-curse she knew. It was dismaying to find out that all their efforts hadn't been enough.

At first Hermione hadn't even been sure what they were looking for. However, knowing Lucius Malfoy, whatever he had hit her with wasn't a good luck charm. It wasn't until she had begun suffocating and Madame Pomfrey realized she needed to be in water that the truth had become clear. Ron had been with her in the infirmary at the time of the "attack." Before Pomfrey had finished shouting her instructions Ron had been running to the lake with a blue Hermione in his arms, gasping for air.

Ron had thundered his way into the water, going as deep as he could and still remain standing with his head above water. The second Hermione had touched the water the constriction around her lungs had eased. A few minutes later she had left Ron's trembling arms and transformed into a mermaid for the first time.

She had stayed in the water for hours trying to out swim the image of Ron's shocked and horrified face. She had emerged from the lake that night to be greeted by Dumbledore's steady assurance that they would do all that they could to help her.

For now, Hermione was only forced to return to the water and her mermaid form for an hour each day. She could then emerge from the water in her human form after doing so. When that happened her fins transformed themselves into along, flowing skirt. It was pearlescent in appearance and the play of light on the skirt made it seem pink, purple, blue, gold, or green at times. Since her first transformation Hermione had learned that she had to keep track of it at all times. Without it, she couldn't return to the water and could suffocate to death. She compromised by wearing it all times under her robes. It wouldn't exactly meet the school uniform requirements, but exceptions would have to be made. She planned to charm it the appropriate colors when classes started again, but for now she left it alone. When she returned to the water every night the skirt wrapped itself skin tight around her and became fins. It was so disorienting and illogical when she thought a bout it. Which she did. Often. Skirts should not become fins; fins should not become skirts. It was like something out of the Quibbler for Pete's sake.

"Miss Granger?" Madame Pomfrey was staring worriedly at her. "Are you alright?"

Hermione winced. No she was NOT all right. With that kind of news how could she be? But Madame Pomfrey didn't deserve her sarcasm so she worked up a smile for the nurse. "I'm fine."

They didn't believe her, but they didn't press her on it either. "Thank you Professor Dumbledore, Madame Pomfrey, for all you've done." She looked at each of them in turn. "I appreciate it." That was as far as she could go though. Suddenly she wanted out. Out of this room, and out of this castle, away from the sympathetic glance of Dumbledore and the poorly disguised pity of Madame Pomfrey. She stood up abruptly. "I'm going for a walk." She strode hurriedly out of the office, nearly running in her haste to leave.

"Headmaster!" Pomfrey protested as Hermione walked out the door.

Dumbledore laid a restraining hand on her arm. "Leave her be, Poppy," he gently ordered her.

Hermione didn't hear. She was determined to get as far away as she could right away. Things could be worse; she knew they could. So many of her fellow classmates were dead, Ginny would forever walk with a limp, and Harry was lying unconscious in the infirmary in a deep magical coma he couldn't be brought out of. She would have to go there later she reminded herself. Ron was sitting with Harry waiting for her news. None of them had left Harry alone for a moment once they were able to visit.

So she knew that things could be worse for her. She knew that, but right now she wanted to deal with her news alone. She wanted to cry and scream over it before she went back to worrying about others. She ran around the far side of the lake until she reached the Forbidden Forest where she wouldn't be seen in the shadows. In a fit of defiance, she ripped off her skirt and waded into the lake in just her underthings. She wasn't a mermaid and she wouldn't give in. She was a witch, not a mermaid, and one of the smartest witches in her class. She wouldn't give Malfoy the satisfaction of ruining her life.

She began swimming as hard as she could, trying to drain out all her worries and the depressing news. Dumbledore's words rang in her head. If Hermione didn't marry she would slowly start losing her magical ability. The more she lost the more often she would need to be in her mermaid form, until one day she lost all her magic and became a mermaid forever.

It was a bitter pill to swallow.

Hermione had prided herself, even depended, on her talent for magic since she had come to Hogwarts six years ago. In the lifespan of a witch that wasn't that long, but Hermione felt like she had been a witch forever. She was quite used to using her magic and her intellect to take care of almost any situation, and it was so frustrating to not be able to use her abilities to solve this one. It was like she was back in third year facing the boggart who turned into McGonagall and informed her she failed all her classes. She would have to use what Ron would call her feminine wiles in order to get out of this situation. If you were to ask Lavender or Parvati they would say she had none.

She was doomed. She didn't want to imagine losing her magic. She didn't want to become someone who didn't belong to wizarding society anymore, unable to walk and live among them, separated from everything and everyone she had grown attached to since learning she was a witch. The image of it happening rose up in her mind's eye and she swam harder.

Forced to marry. The words kept echoing in her ears. Just like any of the other girls in her class Hermione had wanted to fall in love and marry. When she imagined being married it was nothing like this twisted mockery. Unbidden, thoughts of Ron and red-haired children danced across her mind.

Forced to marry. Forced to bind herself to someone before she was ready. She hadn't even started her seventh year yet! It was too soon. The battle had only ended a month ago. She should have more time. She needed more time!

But, there wouldn't be. Hermione didn't have the luxury of time to choose whom to marry and when. She needed to get married and soon. She needed to find someone willing to marry her. That was part of the curse; they had to be willing. And the other part... well, she wouldn't think about that yet. Instead of marrying for the reasons she always imagined, whoever married her would do it to save her from a curse. She couldn't even have a marriage of convenience for a few days, she thought angrily. No, they had to stay married or Hermione would fall back under the effects of the curse permanently.

And so would her husband.

End Part 1