Chapter the Ninth

The Grangers were sitting on their couch, drinking their morning tea and praying for a response to the owl they had just sent off before heading to their office, when their fireplace suddenly was alight in green flames. Knowing that it meant a soon-to-come visit from their daughter's world, they set their cups on the arms of the sofa and stood up. Hermione had not come home, and they were worried. Where was she? Perhaps this visit would give them their answer. A second later, Dumbledore stepped into their living room.

"Is she alright?" "What happened? Why didn't she come home this morning?" Mr. and Mrs. Granger started to speak at the same time, but Dumbledore just nodded, and said "She's back at the school, but I'm afraid she was attacked."

Instantly, in what would have been a comic moment, had the issue at hand not been so solemn, both Grangers sat back on the couch, sending both of their cups flying in opposite directions. While Mrs. Granger's tea simply landed on the floor and spilt all over the plum and white rug, Mr. Granger's made a somewhat more dramatic escape from the upholstered furniture, and flew through the window and into the back yard.

The faces of both dentists showed fear, so Dumbledore was quick to add, "she's alive and safe. I fear I must back up, and explain from the beginning." The Grangers nodded in shocked silence, and the old wizard began to relate what was known about Hermione's capture, torture and rescue. He did not mention the Key and wand. The Grangers interrupted very rarely, and soon the three sat in silence, while Hermione's parents absorbed the information they had been given.

"I knew that your world was dealing with a war, but to harm a child like that… how could they? And you say she will have the scars for life? The reminders of what those… those monsters… did to her? That is it, she must come home! Perhaps science can fix what magic has not," Helen Granger found her voice, and let her grief and her anger find their expression in words.

"Helen, we can no more protect her here than we could when we didn't know her whereabouts. We need someone who can watch after her in the magical community. Preferably someone who understands both worlds. Dumbledore, you and the Weasleys are the only ones we know in your world. Can you protect her? Can you make sure she doesn't leave that school? Can you stop them from doing something like this again?"

"I am afraid that she and her friends do not obey my demands for them to remain within school grounds very much, and Hermione will not stop assisting Harry with his battles. I can not ask it of her. And now… There is more to this story than I have told you. It is not just the Malfoys who have taken an interest in her. Voldemort has as well. He has seen her wand, which complicates things."

"What do you mean?" asked Helen in confusion. "Her wand is no more special than any others, as far as we know. Why would your boogie man find her little piece of wood attractive?"

"During her ritual, the Key of Circe bound itself to Hermione's wand. In effect, it has bound her magic to itself, making it both an incredible tool and a danger. Let me explain. A wand is one of the most important instruments a witch or wizard has. It allows the magic channeled by the person to be focused in such a way as to direct and control that energy into a desired action. Each wand must be chosen in such a way as to balance and compliment that person's magic… In other words, there is only one wand for each witch or wizard, and it is difficult to manipulate another person's wand. It is made for that individual alone. Voldemort wants to take possession of Hermione's wand and pervert it for his own use. If he manages this, it will destroy Hermione's magical signature, in effect, it will destroy her. I do not think this is possible, but I can not be certain. The key is much more powerful than it was before. It is no longer just a talisman. It is now the center of Hermione's magic, and it creates a link between Grandchild and Goddess. I believe that Hermione can not only use her own magic now, but if she tries, I believe she can tap Circe's own divine magic and blend it with her own… your daughter is now incredibly powerful, and she doesn't even realize it yet."

"What can we do?" asked David Granger, knowing that he could do nothing to help his daughter.

"I shall call my mother." Helen Granger replied, but just as she said that, a figure appeared at the broken window.

"I'm already here," Circe stated, "and I am sorry, Daughter. I realized something was wrong as soon as I got home, but I could not find Hermione until dawn, and by then, she was in good hands. I am so sorry, I should not have left her alone."

"No, Mother, you should have gotten her home safely before going to have fun! How could you?"

Circe looked downtrodden, but she looked at Dumbledore and said, "I need to help her, as I should have this morning. You might not be able to protect her, Albus, but she can not escape me, now that the Key is active, and I will not make the same mistake twice."

"Then perhaps you could take over History of Magic for a while?" Albus said after thinking for a moment, yet the sparkle in his eye indicated that perhaps he had already thought of this, and had intended to ask all along, "I am sure Professor Bins would be willing to take a short sabbatical, and you would perhaps be able to bring the information across so that the children enjoy it. If not, you are still welcome at Hogwarts."

"Mother…" Helen began, still angry that Circe had allowed Hermione to come to harm, "If you could not keep track of her this morning, what makes you think you can deal with her at school?"

"Don't forget, my dear I am a Goddess. I can track her alone, given enough time, but with Hermione, it all comes down to the Key. I would be honored to teach at Hogwarts again, Albus. It has been too long. And perhaps I can help Hermione in more ways than one." Circe began to smile, just a little bit, "Maybe I can see about those scars, as well. Unless another god was involved when it was inflicted, I should be able to remove them."

"Wonderful. I shall tell Poppy to expect you." Albus said, reaching in his pocket for some floo powder.

At the mention that Circe might be able to heal Hermione, Helen and David Granger relaxed visibly. David thought for a moment, and said, "Well, Goddess, perhaps you are the perfect person, after all. Take care of her, Circe. If you don't, Goddess or not, I won't rest until you've felt her pains twice over… after all, I am a dentist."

With that, Dumbledore left in the same way he had come. When the flash from the green flames had gone, Circe was nowhere to be seen.

Helen blinked, then sighed, "Oh, dear."

Concerned at that reaction, David Granger turned to his wife, saying, "I'm sure everything will be fine. Despite what happened, Circe will take care of her now."

"It's not that, David," Helen said, "I know she will, but I just remembered how much of a matchmaker Mother is. She did it to us, and you know she'll do it to Hermione. The problem is that she tends to like… well… older men, and Hermione's one of the oldest students at the school."

Mr. Granger's eyes lit up in understanding, "Oh, dear…"