Author's Note: This story is neither HBP nor DH compliant. Feedback is always appreciated; reviews feed my muse and make me smile.
Anti-Litigation Charm: It all belongs to JKR; I play for non-profit amusement.
It All Started when the Girl Fell from the Sky
by Silver Birch
Hermione Snape was pacing a narrow stretch of hallway at breakneck speed. She reached the end of her circuit, whipped around, and strode back the way she had come. Every few seconds, she checked her watch, which was not telling her the answer she was looking for: namely, that it was more than ten seconds since she'd last checked.
She was at the wrong end of the hallway when it happened, and Hermione found herself mirroring a scene that had occurred nearly a decade ago as she dove to catch a small child who fell out of the sky.
The tangle of bodies sorted itself out, although Hermione somehow still managed to get the wind knocked out of her. The child facing Hermione looked exactly like a miniature Malfoy, and Hermione was thrown for a moment before she remembered the charm they had performed to obscure the true colour of Calla's eyes.
The little girl blinked. "Aunt 'Mione?"
Hermione smiled at her. "Yes, angel. Are you feeling alright?"
The child giggled. "I mostly fell on you, and you're mostly squishy."
Hermione realized that she'd been echoing, almost word for word, the speech she had given to the then-unknown child the first time she had landed on Hermione.
"That was the plan this time around, as well," she answered, getting them both up off the ground, Calla once again in her arms.
"You know, you might have considered a spell," a voice drawled from the other side of the hall.
Hermione made a face at her husband as he sauntered in their direction.
"I did consider one, Severus, but this was more fun, wasn't it, Calla?"
The little girl nodded, beaming up at her godfather. "I want to do it again and again and again!"
Hermione laughed. "I think that would be a little trying on the nerves of your parents. Shall we go tell them you're back?"
Calla nodded once more, and Hermione made her way down the hallway with the slender burden in her arms and the silent presence of Severus at her side. In no time, they were at Harry and Draco's quarters, and the little girl had burst through the door ahead of them.
"Calla!" came two answering bellows, and Calla was soon scooped up and crushed in a three-way hug.
Severus pulled Hermione close, arm curling around her abdomen, and she leaned back against his chest as they watched the joyful family reunion.
"Thank God," she whispered. "I'll sleep easier knowing this is done with."
"Where's that Gryffindor courage," she could hear the rumble of his voice against her back, "always ready for the next adventure?"
"Politely told to bugger off, Severus, by some form of common sense."
He laughed softly, but she knew he agreed with her. Since Severus and Hermione had been unwilling to take the chance of overlapping Calla on herself on her return to the present, Calla had been absent for the last week. It had been torture for Hermione, faced as she was with two frantic parents, and she had been agitated enough to make it quite difficult for Severus, as well. They all knew Calla had disappeared from the past, but none of them knew for certain that she would reappear in the present. Draco and Harry were distraught, and there were only so many times that Hermione could vaguely reassure them that everything would turn out fine. As each hour passed from the disappearance with no sign of Calla's return, everyone had become steadily more frazzled. She and Severus had guarded the secret of their involvement well over the years. In the last week, however, the Slytherin had been forced to remind Hermione more than once that ruining that now, especially to tell the parents that she thought they'd done it right but couldn't be certain until Calla reappeared, would serve no useful purpose.
Like her stint with the Time-Turner in third year, now that a happy conclusion had been reached, Hermione could hardly say the reward wasn't worth the risk, but there was no way she would consider this as a habitual occurrence.
"I'm burning those notes when we get home," she muttered.
"Uh huh." His response was noncommittal.
Alright, yes, their theoretical value, if nothing else, made them priceless, and as a tribute to what they had achieved…. So maybe she'd just tuck them away somewhere under a mountain of protective spells…. She knew without looking that her husband was smirking at her, as though he could see her thought process even through her Occlumency shields. He pressed a kiss into her hair, soothing her.
Briefly, she considered what their lives would have been like if Calla hadn't dropped in on them. As Harry waved away the spell that masked Calla's eyes and positively beamed into the green ones that matched his own, Hermione smiled.
Perhaps it had taken a little non-standard manipulation, but events had unfolded precisely as they were supposed to have done. Hermione knew with absolute certainty that they were all exactly where they ought to be.
Author's Note: This story didn't feel complete without an epilogue, as I needed to assure myself, as much as my readers, that Calla positively, one hundred percent got back to where she was supposed to be.
When I first brushed off the initial chapter of this story and decided to post it, I had only about five hundred words of chapter two written and no concrete idea how the story would end. Encouraged, however, by all the kind reviews for "Look Out Below!", I got busily to work. Before chapter two went up, I had planned the number of chapters and mapped the basic events, discovering that Harry was going to kill Voldemort and realizing that Severus and Hermione were to blame for the whole darn thing. At that point, however, I cheerfully estimated that each chapter would be around 3000 words, and I would update once a week or so; I'd thus complete it at under 25 000 words after about two months.
It has been a crazy ride since then. My reviewers have kept me motivated even as my mind has taken me places I didn't anticipate. I let my family and friends know I had begun posting some of my fanfic, and they wanted details and links to archives. I learnt just how addictive it is to sit in my account and watch the number of hits increase for each chapter. I discovered that you can't load 12 000+ words at once on E&S. I wrote like a maniac during days off, after work, and before I had to leave in the morning. I performed edits on paper when I couldn't access my laptop and practically lived in LydiaJayne's apartment when she was kind enough to let me use her word processing capabilities – this plot bunny has clamoured, yelled, and gnawed at my ankles even when I was trying to reread books one through six and then got sucked through DH in a whirlwind single sitting. It All Started was a lot of fun to write (usually), but it was very consuming (although now I think I might have the discipline for NanoWriMo in November).
Thanks to everyone who has made this such a positive experience for me, especially my admin over on Sycophant Hex, RaeWhit, my friends and fellow fanfic-lovers LydiaJayne and Laeral, and all the lovely readers and reviewers who've stuck with me; all my frequent reviewers of FF have been quite inspirational. I don't know exactly what's coming next, but more fanfiction is definitely in my future.