Disclaimer: Not Mine
After the Fall
A New Beginning
Hermione and Richard walked along the shore of the lake before heading up to see Minerva. It was the type of day that Hermione remembered the most from her days teaching at Hogwarts. This morning would turn into a warm summer day with the castle strangely quiet and devoid of children. The day would stretch out until late in the night when the first of the evening stars would appear on the horizon and she would feel embraced by Hogwarts' protection.
"We need to get going, you know she is waiting by the window." Hermione grinned as Richard rolled his eyes.
"She makes me feel like I should clean the black boards or something."
"Here that's easy. Just a flick of the wand."
"Do you miss it?"
"It's not that easy. Yes, I miss this place. I miss the quiet and the smell of the old books and the history and the memories it brings." She looked up to the castle again. "But no, I don't miss most of it."
"I still find it hard to believe that my wife has done all the things I read about in those old papers Minerva gave me," he chuckled, not able to keep the amusement from his voice. "I know for a fact that you could not possibly have been with all those boys."
"Watch it, Mister." She laughed and hugged his arm. "The Daily Prophet has never been known for its honesty."
"Still, if half of those things are true it's amazing. Snape must have been awesome." He frowned at her. "I still don't like the way that Weasley character treats you."
"Its not his fault, he was raised to think all witches should stay home and take care of the home while daddy goes to work. He and Harry are close again, that's a good thing. They are so different that they are good for each other, compliment each other. Ron never really saw what a good person he is, he always compared himself to someone else. Lavender is good for him, they match, and I think she really cares deeply for him."
"He treats me as if I stole you away from this whole thing."
"They don't understand that I can be happy and not be here. They find it easier to think I deserted them, or that you somehow forced me to leave."
"As if I could force you to do anything. I told them they are welcome to visit us anytime they want."
"There she is." Hermione raised her hand and waved at Minerva, who stood on the steps waiting for them. "Now be nice. She likes you."
"If she liked me any more she would throw me under one of those black horses over there, the weird ones with wings." He laughed, then turned and looked at her as she stopped to stare at him.
"You can see them? You're sure you're not having me on? You can really see them?"
"Yes. I can really see them," he said puzzled by her reaction.
"Richard, when you and Severus went off to have a drink together last night, where did you go?" She set her jaw and spoke from clenched teeth.
"Down in his chambers like we always do. He actually let me see his lab and his private library. Amazing." He took her arm and pulled her along. "Did you know he owns an original Chaucer and two pieces with Shakespeare's original notes? The library here could keep me busy for years, just cataloguing the originals. My god, I even found scrolls form the Mediterranean I can't even identify the language of."
"Let me guess. Severus offered to let you study here."
"Yes, damn nice of the bloke. I think the librarian here needs to update her skills though. I know there is a lot of controversy over oils from the hands ruining parchments and the new way of looking at it says that gloves are not needed, but until they prove that, she should insist …"
"Richard, stop. He is doing it again. He is trying to get you to stay here." She started up the steps to Minerva, hissing at him. "Later, we will talk about it later, not now."
"Mrs Hayes, I am so glad you could make it today. You as well, Richard." She looked at his Muggle clothes and sniffed her disapproval. "Do join us."
She turned and proceeded to her new quarters on the first floor just beyond the Great Hall. Once there, she opened the door letting Hermione pass her with a smile then scowled at Richard, stepping in front of him and entering before he could step in.
Severus was already standing at the fireplace with a glass of whiskey in his hand, watching as Minerva slighted Richard at the door, and felt his lip twitch at the Muggle's response. Richards hand went to his nose, rubbing the bridge and muttering under his breath.
"Mr. Hayes, I do believe this will help relieve your headache or dull your ears. Either of which will be of benefit for the next hour."
"Thank you, Professor." Richard stepped over, took the drink, and threw it back in one gulp.
"A little early for you Richard?" Minerva snipped. "Our own Potions Master has everyone convinced that he does not sleep as an excuse to indulge so early in the morning as he still considers it his night."
"I use Hermione as my excuse. She tries my soul."
Severus snorted his laugher and Minerva turned on her heel.
"Tell me Severus, what did you and Richard do last night? Is there anything I should be aware of?" Hermione narrowed her eyes at him.
"Now children. We need not talk about this right now."
"You are in on this." Hermione looked at Minerva shocked.
"Hermione?" Richard knew the tone well enough to know something was spinning out of control.
"They gave you something. You would say they spiked your drink."
"No more then with what was necessary my dear." Minerva sniffed as she began to pour the tea.
"It is quite tedious to lift and reset wards just to allow your Muggle to see the castle. Severus has come up with a simple potion that infuses just enough magic into his blood to allow him to see our world. All of it."
"Infused?" Hermione scowled and put her hands on her hips.
"Your idea if I remember correctly. To infuse a potion I mean."
"I think we should leave Richard."
"Nope," he said, sitting down at the table and accepting a cup of tea from Minerva. "You see dear, Minerva and I have an agreement. One of our many. As much as she blames me for taking you away from her I must agree with her assessment of your character."
"My what?" she fumed.
"Character my dear."
"I quiet agree," Severus smirked and joined them at the table, leaving Hermione standing alone.
"You are what is called a runner and the three of us have agreed that it will not do."
"Not at all." Minerva nodded and took a sip of tea. "Now dear, have a cup of tea and once you have calmed down you may leave. Until that time you will find my wards quite impossible to break."
Hermione sighed, knowing she was defeated and joined them at the table. "Just tell he how much was infused."
"It was mixed with a potion just to insure he could find his way around here without bumping into anything or insulting one of the ghosts."
"I am not sure I want to hear this." Richard looked a shade lighter than he had just a moment before.
"Trust me Richard, there will be no side effects." Severus purred. "Unless of course the Bloody Baron takes a dislike to you."
"I really wish you would reconsider the offer the board has given you Hermione." Minerva reached out and patted her hand. "The enrolment is back up and since Severus will be Headmaster you can have your choice of classes."
"We are quite happy in London Minerva." Hermione sipped her tea. "Richard will soon have full tenure and is hoping for an appointment to the Historical Archive Division of the National Museum in London. I have received a promotion to Department Head in a job I love. We have no reason to move."
"It has been said, by more then one, that you are the brightest witch of your generation and to see it wasted is a shame." Minerva shook her head and glared at Richard.
"She is still the smartest Minerva. Here or there. She prefers for now to be there." Richard looked at Hermione. "If she ever wants to come back she can. She can commute by use of that floo thing, or I would give up my job and move closer, but for now we are happy where we are."
"It is your fault you know." Minerva glared at him. "It is your fault she didn't come home."
"She is home Minerva, she is in my home, her home… it is ours. It is not my fault! She made her choice, I gave her the option. Bloody hell woman, it is not even up to me to give her an option, she makes her own decisions. I do not control her." He stood from the table and headed for Severus' bottle.
"More whiskey, Mr. Hayes?" Minerva raised her chin as Hermione laid her head on her arms and Severus chuckled.
"You know, Minerva, that I come here once a month because it is what she wants. I must say, the best thing I can think right now about the baby is that I will not have to set …"
Hermione put her head up and looked at him in horror. Severus watched Minerva carefully, biting the inside of his cheek to keep from laughing outright.
"Hermione, I didn't mean to say that." He saw her stricken look. "Really Hon, I know you didn't want to tell her yet."
"My dear boy," Minerva stood and walked over to him, putting her arm around his shoulder and led the confused man back to the table. "I am so happy for you both."
She tilted her head to the side and looked at him then nodded and threw her arms around him and hugged him to her.
"A baby." She let him go and patted her eyes dry, then returned to sit at the table. "A baby, oh my."
Richard turned to look at Severus. "Now she likes me?"
"Perhaps she did not think your sperm…"
"Snape, say it and I will hex you into next week," Hermione spat at him.
"Of course I like you, Richard. How wonderful." Minerva looked up at Albus' portrait to see him smile and nod. "A little Hermione, or a … well, in any case a little Hermione."
"Did I ever tell you that magical people have a very very long life span Mr. Hayes?" Severus sniggered. "Perhaps in the next fifty years you will learn to love her the way your wife does."
Hermione had a little girl seven months later, and Richard was so happy to find a way to keep Minerva at bay, Thomas followed their little Victoria fifteen months later.
Hermione now counted her time as before she had children and after they arrived. Once in a while, as a storm raged outside, and the wind blew the loose shutter in noisy dances against the side of the small house, she would still dream of green flashes of death and the sound of stones falling around her.
She still flinched when she saw one of the punk rockers on the street with purple and blue hair that made her turn and look for Tonks in the teenage eyes. Only now, she would roll over and wrap her arms around him, or feel him pull her close at the first whisper of wind and know that she was home. She could no longer smell the smoke over his musky smell and no longer yearned for something she could not find.
Christmas were now spent in a household full of children. Nephew and nieces would climb in Richard's lap and listen as he read them the story of the first Christmas then run off to bed to wait for Father Christmas.
Every year Minerva would send a package to lay at the foot of her bed and Severus would scowl and come for dinner, complaining all the while. Yet, he would come as he did once a month for Sunday dinner, or one of the fifteen Hayes' children's birthdays. He was usually alone, but as of late with a witch named Julie that called Minerva Aunt and smiled when Severus allowed her to kiss his cheek.
AN: Thanks for the feed back. The whole idea of this story was not about the magical world accepting Hermione, but her accepting herself. Is she a Muggle that happens to be a witch or a witch born as a Muggle? I like to think she is just Hermione.
I have re-edited to try to help the flow of the story and even out the rough spots. Let me know if it works… thanks.