Title: Hermione's New Project

Author: nilereina

Pairing(s): none

Rating: T

Archive: Unique Realities and Tired of struggling and fighting, Hermione decides to uptake a new project…She believes it's time to avenge her heritage as a Muggleborn and prove to the Purebloods as well as everyone else just how similar their worlds are and how powerful a Muggle could become

Disclaimers/Warnings: Harry Potter and company belong to J.K. Rowling…Alexi is mine…Implied situations of torture, abuse, and death…Possible spoilers (little to mild)…One-shot story….AU setting (suppose to take place around Books 6-7)…Timeline change (I believe OWLs were around 5th year but I'm making them at least a year later then usual)….Possible spoilers (little to mild) from Books 1-6

Author Notes: I tried to keep this story in character as much as possible….I wanted it to come out as if this would be something Hermione would think of, if not with a little help, and to present in a way everyone would be forced to listen to her….This idea was also something similar to written/oral reports (like the ones in school since the oral didn't always match the written and had visuals)….This project was to seem as if a summer report for Muggle Studies of some mundane topic that was frustrating Hermione enough to simply veer off to another for the first time (but one that seemed beneficial to her)

Author Notes2: The AU setting is in place because Fudge has not left his position as Minister nor has Dumbledore died….Third person view (mostly Hermione's)….I changed the timeline because I wanted better excuse as to why people, especially the Professors, weren't curious to Hermione's obsessive trips to the library (though most would have put it off otherwise)

Key Code:

Blah—Emphasis, Thoughts

/Blah/--Written words

Chapter One

Click! A dark room was softly lit by a single shaded lamp. Shadows danced as a lone figure moved about the tiny room. A soft sigh filled the silence as a chair creaked, being pulled from its spot as a thick bound notebook dropped upon a polished desk top.

The room's occupant sat heavily, staring at the closed book before opening the cover to reveal empty pages, "I can't do this."

"Sweetie?" An older woman, possibly late thirties, opened the door to her baby girl's room. Brown eyes grew concerned at the slumped form of her daughter, "Oh, honey, what is it?"

A soft voice answered, "Nothing, mom."

She chuckled; it was either that or crying at the defeated tone. She eased to her knees, one hand gently stroking the soft brown curls. "Oh, baby, tell me."

"I can't do this!"

Hot tears slowly fell as she cried for her little girl, hugging with one arm. "Oh, sweetie, it'll be fine. It can't be that hard. Go ahead. Tell me." Her daughter needed to unburden herself before her body would give in and she became hysterical. "Please! I'm here."

Identical brown eyes peered out from beneath loose strands of brown hair, tears shining unshed in her eyes, "It's everything, mom. I'm so tired of fighting. Everyday gets heavier. Nothing I do is good enough!" She buried her head against her mother's throat, "I'm so afraid but I can't fail. I can't!"

As her daughter sobbed, she finally understood. Her baby girl had always pushed herself beyond normal limits, determined to be the best and to make them proud. All those were killing her! "Oh, baby! I'm so, so sorry. We didn't know."

A voice, muffled by a warm throat, protested, "It's okay."

She gently pushed her daughter back, hands cupping the trembling chin, "Listen to me, sweetie. It was never your fault. Your father and I could never be disappointed by you. We love you, just you, our baby girl. I don't care what this school is doing but they aren't helping! You are not weak! You're the strongest person ever. Don't ever let anyone tell you different."

"But…" A finger cut her off.

"Hush, sweetie. If they can't tell how wonderful you are, they don't deserve you. You deserve to be happy, no matter what." She gently kissed her daughter's forehead. "I love you, sweetie." She carefully stood, ignoring the pain from kneeling. She walked away but stopped at the doorway, looking back, "You know who you are. You know your heritage and history. But they don't. Perhaps you should face your demons before forcing them to face theirs. You are strong, sweetie, but even the strongest person can break at any time. Don't run from it. You must face it." She smiled sadly, "I'll save you a plate for dinner. I love you, Hermione."

Teary brown eyes followed the disappearing figure of her mother as her bedroom door closed, words replaying in her head. "You always did believe in me but you're right." She couldn't allow them to win. Sure, she'll cry and rage but she refused to be the whipping girl again

No more. I'm tired of crying because of them! She moved to her bed, kneeling down to reach for a small box hidden beneath. Dust had long settled, telling her it had been too long. Back at the desk she opened the lid to find a hardback journal, her diary as a child. She eagerly re-read the childish entries about various school subjects, crushes, and events. All that seemed so trivial now.

"Mom's right. I can't keep doing this." With a heavy sigh, she pulled a sharpened pencil from a teddy bear holder upon her desk. For the first time in almost nine years she began writing to an invisible reader.

/My name is Hermione Granger. I'm the only child of dentists and also very proud of my heritage. I am even more proud of being a Muggleborn witch. Perhaps I should start at the beginning.

As a very young girl I loved to read. I tried to read every book I could understand. Like most children, I was very curious of my environment and believed in childish fairy tales. I truly believed every girl had a Prince Charming waiting for her. Even believed in a Fairy Godmother coming to a girl's aide when she needed help. I believed in happy endings, always hoped everyone would live happily ever after. I even dreamt I was a princess waiting for my Knight-in-shinning armor, just like Cinderella or Sleeping Beauty.

Oh, how I prayed to be them. To be a damsel in distress was a lively dream that kept me going. I so wanted my prince to come sweep me off my feet and ride off into the sunset. Such childish whims keep one innocent and pure in reality. Makes one feel untouchable, incapable of being hurt for long. But then one must grow up in life, leaving behind the happiest childhood, the naïve belief of fairytales. Reality has the worst way to burst that bubble of protection, forcing one to wake up to the truth.

Not everyone has a happy ending. Some people never find their Prince. Many others are forsaken by their Knight. A few have been lost without their Fairy Godmother. No one hears their cries in the night. Many ignore their plea for help. Sometimes when all should be well it ends in pain and loss.

Death is forever, no matter who you are. /

She paused at the sentence, staring in sadness. That was coming true more and more each daunting day. So much so that she wondered if the future would be bleak. Will it be empty? Devoid of life?

She shuddered at the thought and pushed onward. /As with many children, I began that journey of growing up, of becoming a mature adult. I didn't want them to, but my childish fantasies were slowly dying.

I was a normal child. As normal as one could possibly be. I had friends always wanting to play, to pretend and then she came. My own angel. She was the sister I always wanted but never got. My very first best friend.

We laughed. We played. We cried.

She led me to a new world. A world I never wanted to enter once it was over. Over time she began missing out on life. Soon she stopped coming over, leaving school a lot. When she did show up, she looked so tired, so ill, so fragile. She said she was sick. Nothing more, nothing less.

At my young age, I thought she would be cured, that she'd live. Her illness started my hunt at reading up on facts of life or at least what was making her sick. It wouldn't be until I was years older that I understood she suffered a rare disease, wallowing in medication as life slipping through her fingers. She passed on after six months of fighting, six months of suffering despite her façade of pretending others.

Death hit hard that day. For me. /

She stared once again, a tiny part fascinated by the teardrops splattering on the words. She pushed the book away, laying her head down. She thought she was over that particular obstacle, obliviously not. I miss you. She silently sobbed, never seeing her parents looking on sadly.

She didn't hear the whispers, "We should help."

"No. She needs this. Ever since Alexi, she's needed this. We'll be here when she needs us but she needs to prove she can go on. For herself."

"But to leave her wallowing in grief alone?"

"Our Hermione is strong but she needs the chance to know she's only human. She can't keep it bottled for long. Come, we'll check in on her later." The eased away, hearts breaking for her suffering.

She spent the next few minutes crying out her burdens, exhausting her body as a price. Soon the tears stopped flowing, head resting on folded arms, eyes staring blankly ahead. For the moment, she felt lighter, almost cleansed. A part of her never wanted to move but another knew she had more to write about.

/I don't want to do this but it's needed. Just as my friend's passing opened my eyes to life. I felt guilty. I still do. An irrational part feels as if I'm to blame. If only I read more. If only I understood better. If only. I wanted to save her. I wanted to be her angel like she was mine. I wanted so much. Now it felt as if I abandoned her. As if I betrayed the trust she so easily gave me. I wanted to trade places but I can't now.

I began fading from the curious playful child to one driven by fact. Fairytales weren't real. I found that the hard way. My books of facts became my life. I swore to learn all I could. I refused to have another suffer for my mistake. I was determined to aide anyone in need. /

It worked too. Her driven need for knowledge protected her and her friends. She was the one they turned to when stumped or were confused on something, needing to know or understand. /I slowly drifted from the friends I had. Very few stood at my side after that. I hid behind my books, crying silently in their sanctuary.

I became the Teacher's Pet, Miss-Know-It-All, the Brain, the nerd. Many laughed at my driven need to be the best, to top everyone. I was determined to be at the top, no matter who I had to beat. I refused to lag behind. I left everything behind in my drive to succeed. Nothing was going to get in my way. No one would bring me down. I refused to have another Alexi.

And then I turned eleven. /

That had been the strangest gift one could have for their eleventh birthday. It was as if someone remembered her childish prayers. "I couldn't forget." From the bottom drawer came a crinkled envelope and letter. They were her treasures. A constant reminder that some dreams were real. "You never let me forget. Ever."

/Deep within, the inner child was still waiting for her Prince, still believed in tall tales. Then the most wondrous thing happened. An owl defied all logic by enter my house and dropped a letter right in front of me. I was stunned simply because a nocturnal creature was actually wide awake in broad daylight. I became more stunned as I read the letter addressed to me.

I almost, keyword almost, threw it away as a joke. Oh, how I wanted to. I no longer believe in fairytales or that's what I was trying to convince myself. But my inner child refused to be quiet this time. No longer could I shut it away.

With trembling hands I answered. With a fearful heart I blindly accepted without facts to support such a thing. Magic wasn't real. It was illusions, tricks of the hand performed by trained professionals or kids with a knack. For once after all those years I wanted to believe in fairytales.

But it wasn't to be. Not really.

I was to spend seven years of my life, excluding the holidays and summer, in a stone castle turned school. I was anxious and excited. I took any book I possibly could, reading them over and over, not once growing bored.

Then it all began again. I was once more the Brain, Miss-Know-It-All, Teacher's Pet. I was a stickler for rules, unwilling to bend or break. No one liked me. To them I was insufferable, all because I was determined to succeed.

I was a Muggleborn witch. I am proud to be one. Here I was, trapped in a new world and hated for my intellect and blood. I became determined that I was just as powerful, just as capable as any Pureblood. /

She was proud of her heritage but a tiny voice had wished she was a Pureblood or had some famous characteristic. All because they overlooked her in some way. She pushed herself hard and sometimes wondered why. But she refused to let anyone tell her she couldn't without trying to prove she either could or couldn't.

/I couldn't believe true magic actually existed but it did. I could try anew but bullies are everywhere, even this new world. They were mean to anyone beneath them, at least the more popular Purebloods.

There was one bully who became my friend. He hated how I was always correcting him, even that Charms class of Halloween. Afterwards, everything had hit me, hearing his mean words echo as he and his little group cracked jokes, laughing, before I could get away.

It was the same whenever the word Mudblood was uttered. Filthy blood all because I had regular parents who couldn't perform magic. Most refused to see past my blood heritage. /

Once again she paused, eyes flickering over her writing. A pattern was emerging. I wonder if anyone else could see this. She was surprised to see it now. How could I miss this? Then again she hadn't really seen it until now. Just when she thought she could free her burdens more came up but with anger instead of overwhelming emotions of guilt, sadness, and fear of failure.

"Sweetie!"

Hermione never moved, knowing her parents were running upstairs because of the crash. In her anger she had tossed the notebook aside, not caring as it hit the bookshelf, sending various items to the floor. She stared at the polished wood before her as her door flew open, "Hermione? Sweetie?"

She finally moved to face her parents. "It's the same, isn't it? No matter where you go?"

Her dad was confused, standing aside as her mother rushed in, "What?"

"Hush, John." He blinked but let his wife take over. "Hermione, what happened?"

Hermione looked down at their joined hands, trembling slightly, "Mom."

Her mother seemed to understand, as if all mothers instinctively knew what went on in the heads of their children. "Everyone has skeletons in their closets, sweetie, but very few are willing to admit it."

"But…"

Her mother engulfed her in a tight hug, "Honey, you can't save everyone. All you can do is pick your battles."

"They won't care," she whispered in her mother's warm throat, arms clutching tightly.

As they hugged, her dad cleaned up, spying her crumbled notebook. Like his wife, he suspected. He glanced back, hearing his daughter's sad plea. "Perhaps, but some might." He held out her old history textbook, the notebook on top. "Fear is the biggest motivation, Hermione. Even the most fearless has a fear one can exploit."

"You're a smart girl, honey. We know this. Just do what you do best. Research and teach. Dinner's in the microwave. We'll see you in the morning."

Hermione stared after her parents, then to the books on her desk, research? Curious to her parents' strong suggestions, she opened her elementary history book. From one chapter to the next, she read every sentence, even the side notes, eyeing the pictures. Why am I reading this? Then she found it, "Oh!"

She grabbed a pencil and flipped her notebook to a fresh page. Eager, she began scribbling down line after line of notes, dates, and possible theories. That was how she spent the next few weeks of her summer, mostly in her room or buried in books at the library. Her parents forced her to break every so often, to keep her from burning out or missing sleep. By the time her school year began, she had filled close to seven notebooks with extensive notes, each on a separate subject.

Tired and with sore fingers, Hermione believed she finished half her newly chosen subject. Now for the other part. She pulled out a few magical books she had bought during her shopping trip at Diagon Alley. Her parents had willingly splurged a bit by getting her more paper and books.

And she wanted a head start before her classes began.

Weeks later, she could be found in the library during weekends and her free time. Almost everyone figured she was trying for a head start for their NEWTS as she had done with her OWLS. All but one, "Hermione?"

She blearily looked up, grateful for a small break to stretch her fingers. "Harry."

He took an empty seat across her, eyeing the sprawl of open books and scattered papers. "Studying?"

"Of course. NEWTS are coming up."

Harry eyed her and she barely kept from flinching. She did not like having her own glare, the one that says someone's lying or hiding something, turned on her. "Hermione. I've read the titles."

She sighed, just when I have Harry pegged, he does this. She wished he remained clueless like always, just like Ron. "It's just a little light reading."

Harry lifted one book, turning it around so he could read and she felt her world stop, "History of the magical world? This chapter's about the Pureblood families. This isn't light reading, Hermione. I know how curious you can be, wanting to know everything, to pass it all."

"Harry?"

He held up a hand to stop her from speaking any further. "Put it all away, Hermione. You need a break. Your project can wait a couple days. This is a Hogsmeade weekend."

She couldn't quit. She didn't want to. She wasn't satisfied with her research, "But…" She trailed off as Harry began closing the books and gathering papers, "Harry!"

Emerald green eyes stared back at her, "Let it go for now. Besides, there's too much to research. You should just compare and prove how similar it all is, even how deadly we could become."

Stunned beyond belief, she could only watch and allow herself to be dragged off to the tiny village outside Hogwarts. Her mind raced. Harry either suspected or knew what she was doing. He must know! She did forget what type of family he came from. He was a prime reminder of similarities between Purebloods. He would know first hand about neglect and possible verbal abuse.

Wait! He's right! They are similar! She had a new direction for her little project. She would follow it by comparing to the notes she had for the Muggle World. That'll show them! She couldn't wait.

She allowed the mandatory breaks by Harry but kept up her research. Six months had passed before she finished. Now she had bundles of notes to go through but her main problem was presentation. That was why she remained behind Christmas holiday. "How?"

Harry plopped down on the couch, eyeing the roaring fire of their Common Room. "Why not slides show? Aunt Petunia had them all the time to show off their vacations to everybody."

Brown eyes blinked, surprised by his sudden visit, "Harry!"

He smiled. "Think about it. The Great Hall. The Leaving Feast. Everyone is there."

"And how would I pull this off?"

He shrugged, "I'm sure Dobby will help keep them in place. Plus, there has to be a magical way to create a slide show just the way you want. It anyone can find a way, you could." He yawned, stretching, and then murmured, "Try to get some sleep during break."

Once more someone had piqued her curiosity. She eagerly began researching various magical viewings that could be useful for her little project, even questioning the Charms Professor. She had only a couple months left before the school year ended to implement her project. She was determined to show every Pureblood, especially the Slytherins and Draco Malfoy, just what strength a Mudblood could do. Wizards aren't the only ones who can do the impossible.

No one desired to bother her, worried and a bit fearful considering the sneaky gleam in her brown eyes. Her laughing attitude to the insults and sneers unnerved the Slytherins, making them almost lose their unbreakable control. She, on the other hand, enjoyed those few weeks, not letting anyone but Harry in on the change.

"Thanks, Harry." She hugged him tightly as they easily slipped into the Common Room after hours. He aided her when she finally needed Dobby's help. Next week was their Leaving Feast.

"Everything ready?" She nodded and he smiled, "Then you're welcome. And in case I forget, good luck."

She watched him walk away. For the next couple days, she began fiddling with the necessary charms and needed information. Dobby was applying everything else to the Great Hall. Once everyone was seated and the Headmaster would begin to rise for his speech, it would begin. Dobby was to remain invisible to ensure the proper signal. She couldn't wait. It all came to this.

The Leaving Feast

The Hall doors creaked as they closed. Chatter filled the room as they all waited for their feast to begin. Then the Deputy Headmistress rang her empty wineglass until silence fell. The Headmaster smiled, ready to begin when the candles flickered before going out. Silence rang for a moment as confusion overrode fear. Then some lights began spluttering to life, engulfing the doors. A soft voice began narrating, "I never thought fairytales were real but as a little girl I dreamed. I hoped and wished it to be true. Then one day a letter arrived." A picture of said letter flashed onto the doors turned into a viewing screen. "Those dreams were real. I truly believe it was a new world, a new chance."

The letter melted into the Leaky Cauldron's entrance to Diagon Alley, then into Hogsmeade, and finally Hogwarts. As the voice continued, various other pictures of the school and its grounds as well as different shops appeared, "For once there was a chance life would be better. How could it not be? Then I met them."

Mostly Slytherins were cascading across the doors, mixed with Ravenclaws, Gryffindors, and Hufflepuffs, even some people from the newspapers and Ministry. "They were bullies in various ways. Mostly they were ones who thought they were above everyone, above Muggleborns and Halfbloods, even magical creatures. But they would only feel slightly cowed to one person." Harry blinked as his picture, decked in all his Gryffindor glory, appeared, "He was their equal in every way. That wasn't all as something else became clear. Barely has anyone thought of this. Wizard versus Muggle. Do either know how well they mesh? How similar they are?"

Finally, the students began speaking up, denying such claims but their narrator refused to stop. "Politicians are the same every where, especially those of high ranks. They can be corrupted with favoritism or little on the side money. Greed usually is a big key. Children of the rich only wish to partake with others who hold money and power. Very rarely do they care for others outside their power struggles. Unless it's a possible candidate that could mean something to them in return.

Harry barely held back his smile as his picture returned, this time surrounded by Minister Cornelius Fudge, Headmaster Albus Dumbledore, and Slytherin Prince Draco Malfoy, each with their top allies behind them. "Like Muggles, there are different sides who try their best to bring the one possible chance of tipping the scales in their favor. Each knowing if they can gain that alliance, their side wins."

More protests rose loudly, especially from the Gryffindors. "But that aside, I found more similarities. The magical world is just like the Muggle world. Their wars are similar, battles for dominance and power. Their hatred of those they believe beneath them have procured groups of determined to eradicate each other. The methods of torture may vary but remains the same to cause pain and humiliation before death with their victims." Several students gagged as they saw slides of what must be Muggles, if one believed the captions beneath the pictures, stuck in various forms of torture, especially as the voice brought up pictures of war camps for prisoners of war. Sobs rang clear as many students remembered such scenes from Muggle history class or their relatives' horror stories of past events, especially when some suffered the same fates.

"But beneath such battles are the ones that hit home. Purebloods believe themselves superior, that they can buy anything with money except the one thing, a family. Some children suffer the loss of a parent or both and end up in the care of relatives or foster care or simply out on the streets. Happiness can be faked, whether muggle or magical. Abuse of all forms happen to any child. The only difference is that magic usually doesn't leave physical scars."

More children sobbed as their secrets were revealed without needing to speak up. Some Purebloods couldn't believe the barbaric ways of Muggles, loudly stating their superiority because of such things. But they quieted easily as no one really wanted to air their dirty laundry.

"The magical world does have their advantages as magical could possibly solve just about anything. But it can be a hindrance. Too many rely on their magic to survive; losing their wand could make them easy targets, whereas Muggles have learned not only to fight with weapons with various uses but to battle with their body as well when unarmed."

Suddenly everything went dark until a picture of wizards dressed in black robes and silver masks suddenly seemed to be walking right off the wall, right behind them was a strange figure, almost hiding in the dark with ruby red eyes glowing as a low hissing sprouted from the wizard's side. Screams could be heard as the voice droned on, uncaring, "In this world a war rages with a madman at the helm, the Dark Lord Voldemort and his band of Death Eaters. They are eager to wipe out all considered a threat to their bloodline and power. The Muggles had such a greedy leader with the same agenda, Adolph Hitler and his band of Nazis He tried to take over Europe and cleanse it of all those he considered filthy blood and not full-blooded Germans. He used every method possible to wipe out hundreds of Jews and various other bloodlines. He almost succeeded with his plans when he made a fatal error by going after the wrong enemy."

Everyone cringed at the photos taken from history textbooks and computer images appearing in full glory. They tried looking away but protesting curiosity had them glancing back to see the damage one Muggle man and his team released upon the world. Many of the students were seeing the similar context as their own world when a picture of an enormous explosion fascinated them. Smoke poured from the ground in a gigantic mushroom form. Then they watched it twice more as a small object fell from a high altitude to the ground below. "If one isn't careful, another may take measures for a win." Pictures revealed the absolute devastation left behind in the two major cities, showing the survivors suffering years later from the radiation, "Soon the magical world won't be able to hide for long. The Muggles will not be happy if someone tries to wipe them out. They will unite against their common enemy and will go to any lengths to utterly cow their enemy into defeat. One must choose which is better, especially if one deals with the Atom bomb."

Hermione really didn't care if no one got the idea of choosing sides; she just wanted the truth known. No one would be safe. If things continued as they are, some thing like the atom bomb would drop once more, destroying everything and everyone in its path. For now, she sat back with Harry, eyeing the reactions of their fellow Housemates and classmates as they stared riveted at the revolving pictures. After the last slide was shown, the candles slowly flickered to life and the doors returned to their original state, as if nothing was ever amiss.

Harry leaned close to his smug friend, eyeing Dumbledore rising to call for order as Madame Pomfrey and Snape become the first to aide students becoming sick or hysterical. "Think it got through?"

She eyed the same scene before looking him in the eye, "Doesn't matter, does it? They will soon find out one day. Once their world is completely turned upside down I hope to be here to see it when every Pureblood and Ministry official realize their ultimate mistake." Harry nodded as they returned to the scene of utter chaos. It was time the eyes of every single person were opened. They were children rushing off to battle. Perhaps this would aide their decision. After all, a war of Dark and Light was coming.