Big REWRITE 1/23/2022
Hermione was currently on a ten-hour direct flight from London to Seattle, Washington. Followed by a thirty-five-minute flight to Port Angeles, where her uncle would be picking her up.
Death filled the air of Britain now.
Thick and potent.
The Daily Prophet seemed to have a new burial announcement posted on the bottom of the front page every day. So many burials had been pushed back for months, too many dead and families having to wait to have a proper farewell ceremony because of it.
Hogwarts was still being pieced back together – the ancient magic from the founders being far trickier to repair then everyone had previously thought, making the reconstruction of the school take longer than previously expected. Hermione, along with so many others, had pitched in their time and magic over the last four months. Now, only the more delicate details needed working on within and outside the castle walls. Thankfully, she and Ron had talked Harry out of deposing the Elder wand as he had initially wanted following the final battle. It belonged with Dumbledore – and that's where it should go, back to its final resting place with him. But first, with a little convincing, Harry had agreed to use it to help with the repairs that Hogwarts needed. The old wand and its power, helped getting the castle's structure and magical core back in order. With the Elder wand and dozen of other witches and wizards – magic from both young and old, aiding all as one – they hoped it would match the power of the four Hogwarts Founders – making the castle's foundation and magic just as strong as it was before, or maybe even more so now!
The school was still closed. But was scheduled to reopen once the winter holidays concluded.
Students were currently doing home-study and coming into Diagon Alley twice a week to meet with Professors to turn in homework and have in-person lectures at the banquet center. Those who couldn't make it had to have their homework turned in by owl post the morning of the meet-ups and no later; otherwise, it was marked as a zero. Hermione had been participating with some of her former seventh-year classmates, who had yet to sit their final N.E.W.T exam during the summer. She wanted to ensure she got the fullest education experience she could get before sitting her exams, which was of no shock to anyone who knew her.
But after getting the news from multiple mind healers – being told the memory charms she had placed on her parents most likely couldn't be reversed, Hermione had sat down with the now Headmistress McGonagall and Minster Kingsley. It was agreed upon that she needed a small break from the Wizarding world. She needed to start looking after her mental health, making it a top priority instead of a side-note, before it became a serious and lasting issue.
The news of her parents had hit her hard... she knew that it was a risk when she obliviated their memories of her and their lives as Frank and Helen Granger. But she had still hoped – as silly as that was, that there'd be a way, and if not – she'd figure one out... You add that heartache to ongoing panic attacks from everything that has happened – along with her body having ongoing effects, still, from the three to four hours she was under cruciatus curse..., it only made sense for the eighteen-year-old to take a breather for a bit.
The healers had said the tremors from the cruciatus could last for some time still, and that magic and potions could only do so much for the body. Only time would tell if the tremors would ever truly stop form her torture under Bellatrix. Their advice was for Hermione to take a break from magic for four to six months to rest the magical core inside her, saying that using her magic could be triggering more tremors. It would then be re-evaluated and see if this magic detox had helped any or not. It was a medical experiment that the Healers at St Mungo's told her was no guarantee if it would actually work or not. But still, it was something Hermione was willing to give a go.
Harry and Ron were doing the same.
Not so much as taking a break from the Wizarding world or magic, but just taking an overall break.
She, Harry and Ron had spent most of the first month back from fighting and running, mainly sleeping. After that, most of their time was spent helping with the rebuilding of Hogwarts. When they weren't at Hogwarts, they were helping others in getting released from Azkaban – so many had been wrongfully imprisoned under Voldermort's control, all for either being muggleborn; halfblood; or being a 'blood traitor'.
That took its own particular mental tow on Hermione.
Harry had gotten Grimmauld Place cleaned and fixed up over the summer, using his inheritance to hire highly skilled professionals to get the old home up to par, once and for all. He was taking full refuge there, giving both she and Ron their own dedicated bedrooms – her's being the bedroom nearest to the Black private library. She was beyond grateful to Harry for the invention and silent declaration that this was her home now as well. She had gone back to her childhood home with Harry one evening, following the first week the war ended – going back to the posh Hampstead suburb that lay on the edge of London. The both of them watching with a broken heart, a new family, with three young children, now living in the former Granger residence. Her parents had sold the five bedroom; three and a half bath home, in a quick all cash sale, as Wendell and Monica Wilkins – the childless couple moving to Australia within a week of her obliviating their memories.
Ron had spent most of the days with them – as always, the three of them were each other's main support system as best friend – family really. A few days out of the week, Ginny would tag along to spend time with Harry or study with her as she was also studying to finish her final year. The siblings always went back home to the Burrow every night though – and understandably so. Both Weasley's wanting to be close to their family with having been separated for so long and fearing the worst every day while away.
The war left scars on everyone. Some on their bodies and others on their souls – some had the unluckiness of both. It was hard for everyone to pick up and move on when it was finally over..., gearing up for the new beginnings without fear lurking behind every corner.
The war was brutal. Harry had been labeled Undesirable No. 1 under Voldermort's rule, she as Undesirable No. 2, and Ron as No. 3... All while they were hunting down Horcruxes, trying to remind as hidden while being tasked the one mission that would change the tide of the war in their favor. Tracking down the Horcruxes was one of the most challenging things she had ever endured in her life… Being out there on their own, hiding from snatchers and death eaters, living in and out of a tent with only scraps of food to spare, it was horrendous
Then with Malfoy Manor and the final battle at Hogwarts – seeing classmates fall, fighting to defend their school and freedom...
Hermione needed to do this.
So now, here she was, heading to Forks Washington, where her last living blood relative, who actually knew who she was, lived. To her, it was like killing two birds with one stone; Forks was just what the doctor ordered – making for a fresh start in a small non-stressful muggle town. A tiny town with no magic or supernatural around for hundreds of miles! The perfect place where she could properly detox and take a break from all the craziness.
The added bonus was that she'd be able to spend time with her uncle, who she had not seen since the summer before her fifth year.
When Hermione had made the international call from a muggle London phone booth last week – Uncle Charlie was shocked to say the least.
But, he certainly wasn't about to deny his niece a place to stay. Once Charlie let her know that she was more than welcome to stay, he immediately began asking questions about her parents. Why he hadn't heard back from them in months... she had assured him they were all right and that she'd explain everything in detail in person...
Hermione felt horrible that he had been left in the dark for the last year...
He knew about her magic and bits and pieces of the Wizarding world with him being close family. Her mother was Charlie's little sister, and they were extremely close to one another. Always keeping in contact through long monthly phone calls and emails... Hermione felt even worse knowing that the silence from his family for the last year must have hurt deeply. Especially with his daughter Bella – her only cousin – not being a huge presence in his life, with her living in Arizona with her aunt. She believed the companionship from one another would certainly do them both some good.
Hermione sighed as her past thoughts were interrupted with the pilot announcing they would be arriving to Seattle shortly and to buckle up to prepare for landing. After the plane landed, she quickly un-boarded the international flight, walking to the gate where her tiny connecting flight to Port Angeles was scheduled to depart. An hour and a half later, after waiting for take-off, she finally landed in Port Angeles. Hermione quickly exited the small aircraft, entering the modest size terminal, following the few signs directing her to baggage claim, where she knew her uncle would be waiting.
"Uncle Charlie!" Hermione called out excitedly, momentarily forgetting about everything horrible and tragic as she rushed over to him, quickly collapsing into his waiting arms. Charlie had never been one for the lovey-dovey stuff. Even when she was a young child and with Bella around, he always seemed to be a bit awkward when he would try to show that kind of emotion – but that is what made him all the more 'Charlie' and her uncle! He and her mother were the polar opposites regarding physical contact and expressing feelings for others. Which made it all the more hilarious for those that knew the family that they were full-blooded siblings, only one year apart in age.
"I've missed you, kid! Look at ya, all grown up and everything!" Charlie said with a sigh, letting her go, leaving one hand on her shoulder. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"
"Yes, it has!" Hermione smiled in agreement giving him another one-armed hug.
"Well, let's go get your stuff, and then we can get going. We can either stop at the diner for a burger or grab some pizza for pick up and eat back at the house? Sound good, kiddo?" He said, nudging her in the shoulder, trying to get her to break the shell that he could already see that she had formed around her from whatever had happened. Hermione tried smiling a smile that would reach her eyes, but she knew she failed miserably when a slight frown started to tug at Charlie's lips. Hermione sighed deeply, knowing she'd soon have to tell him, and she dreaded that.
After getting everything situated at baggage claim picking up her two suitcases – the pair made their way towards the lone 'Forks Police' cruiser parked in the pickup section of the airport. Once in the car, Charlie sighed deeply, turning to face his niece in question.
Hermione glanced at her uncle with sad eyes, looking back down at her lap momentarily, feeling her Gryffindor courage begin to slip from her... She knew he needed to know. Still, she was scared of what his reaction would be, knowing it was her fault his little sister no longer knew who he was. "Remember how I told you about my best friend Harry – how a dark wizard had killed his family when he was a baby...?"
Charlie nodded, his mouth pulled tight, "Yea, Helen had mentioned he was like the wizard version of Hitler. I remember she and Frank wondering if they should pull you out from that school since he and others who think like him didn't like that you came from a non-magic family, right? But I thought he was dead?"
"Well, he wasn't actually gone as most had been led to believe." She sighed. "He didn't have a body for a while there – at least not a normal human-looking one." Frowning, Hermione realizing just how left out of the loop she had kept her parents and uncle. "He physically came back in my fourth year." That was the year everything began changing, things becoming darker, with the death of Cedric Diggory. She remembered thinking after his murder, that the years of them getting out lucky – with only a few bumps and scraps against 'You-Know-Who,' was coming to a quick end. "After that, things began to get worse each year in the Wizarding world – and last year, the summer before my seventh, Voldemort officially took over the Ministry –"
" – Now hang on there, 'Mione." Charlie interrupted, lifting his hand with a halt. "Why didn't your mother ever mention any of this to me over the phone?"
"She didn't tell you, because she and dad never got to find out for themselves..." Hermione's stomach was turning. "We were going into war, that much was obvious – and with mum and dad being muggle, I had to do something. And I knew that if I told them what was going on, there'd be no way they would leave home or me for their own safety..." Hermione swallowed hard. The sane 'a frog stuck in one's throat' never felt so accurate as it did to her right now. "So, I did the only thing I could think of to keep them safe." It's been over a year, and she was still second-guessing her decision – wondering if she did what was right. Harry had assured her so many times while they were on the run, saying she had done what was best under the circumstances she and they were in – but she still wasn't entirely certain. Especially now, with the healers confirming her doubts, there may not be a fix to getting their memories back. "I was hoping that by doing so, mum and dad wouldn't be found, and it would guarantee their safety."
Hermione could see Charlie square his shoulders, not liking where this is going, "They still alive?"
"Yes." She nodded, "But they no longer have any memories or knowledge that they have a daughter..." Hermione paused, taking a deep breath, "Or about anyone else in the family."
Charlie held his breath, not sure what to think. "How?"
Her eye began to sting with oncoming tears. "I modified their memories, creating new ones in their place. As well as providing new supporting muggle documents that replicated their original legal ones. Instead of Frank and Helen Granger, they now believed themselves to be Wendell and Monica Wilkins."
Charlie grimaced at the new names. "Really?" His voice was flat and dry. "Wendell Wilkins?"
Hermione couldn't stop her gurgled laugh.
It really was a horrendous name combination.
Ron, too, had commented on it, questioning if she had been sneaking into her dad's liquor cabinet when she picked the names and details.
"Yes," her muffled cry laugh dying down. "They are now living out a lifelong Wilkins' dream. Moving to Australia, opening a new dental practice in Sydney – selling the two practices in London, along with the family home. By doing so, eliminating all ties they had in England." She hated what she had done. But things had moved so quickly after the closing of her sixth year – Dumbledore's death having sped things up drastically. And as much as she had always praised herself for her quick on the spot thinking while in a pinch, this time – every plan or option she had thought up for her parents, never felt good enough. "This got them far away from Britain, and the dangers that could have fallen onto them because of me. And Australia kept them far away from America too, which keep you, Bella, and aunt Renee safe because of me."
They sat in the police cruiser outside the airport for the next hour. Hermione explaining everything she could about her parent's new life in, as well as any theories or ideas on how to reverse her complicated spell-work on their memories. Both had shed a few tears as she explained that as of now, she couldn't reverse the spell but wasn't going to give up on finding a solution. Charlie finally put the car into gear, driving out of the airport parking lot, only after he had stepped out to take a breather, breathing in the crisp October air to help calm his nerves. He would push his emotions to the side till he was in private to properly grieve and come to terms... he didn't need Hermione seeing him like that, adding to her guilt.
As they began the one-hour drive back to Forks, Charlie continued asking his niece for more details, needing more info of what her previous year looked like. Hermione briefly described the torture she went under and how there were lasting effects from it...before quickly moving on to the battle at Hogwarts, and Harry finally defeating and killing Voldemort for good this time. Charlie had a hard time comprehending how grown adults could attack a school full of innocent children, and have no remorse for doing so. But then again, he had to remember – Helen did describe the leader as the Hitler wizard of that world, which meant his followers were the Nazi's of it.
The drive was hard for them both, but oddly, a relief and comforting all in the same. For Hermione, it was lifting a heavy weight off her that had been suffocating her for months endlessly. For Charlie, it took the confusion and anger away that had been building towards his sister.
Hermione, of course, kept a lot of things out, not wanting to overwhelm or frighten her uncle to the horrors of her world. Hermione wanted Charlie to remember the 'magic' he witnessed on her first trip to Diagon Alley. When Professor McGonagall had knocked on her family's door to hand deliver her Hogwarts letter, Charlie had been there, visiting them for two weeks during the mid-summer holidays. Since he was family, the Professor had allowed it, explaining to all of them of Hermione's magical gifts.
Twenty minutes out from Forks, Charlie called from his cell, ordering them two large pizzas and a bag of breadsticks from the local pizzeria next door from the diner. Both the diner and the pizzeria were still open for inside dining for another hour – they had made great time. Charlie was speeding most of the way. He didn't even realize he was going twenty over the limit most of the way back, and Hermione had no heart to mention it to him.
He was not mad at his niece for what she had to do. And he wanted to be clear that she knew he wasn't upset with her. Helen and Frank were still alive – and even if they couldn't remember their family and friends... Them being alive, with a tiny sliver of hope that their memories could be restored –that was enough for him for the moment. He may not win Father of year when it comes to Bella, but he would do his best to be there for his niece. Hermione clearly needed him and reassurance that she had made the right choice when it came to her parents. He knew she was only trying to keep everyone in the family safe from the evil in her world. It broke his heart. No eighteen-year-old should have to make such life and death altering decisions as she and her friends have had to make.
Maybe he should give Bells a call and see if she'd like to come to visit soon. She hadn't been to Forks in a few years and hadn't seen Hermione since she was twelve... Maybe Bells would be more likely to visit Forks, knowing her best friend was back on this side of the Atlantic? And maybe seeing her cousin would help Hermione with her healing process and whatever else she was hoping to get while back here in Forks?
Charlie sighed as he waited inside the pizzeria as Leanne went back into the kitchen to grab their pizzas and breadsticks. He had a lot to think about and break down. Was he to treat it as his sister and brother-in-law were now dead, or was he to treat it as if they were only missing? He was confused about how to feel about it as an overall whole.
"Here ya go, Charlie!" Leanne handed over the food along with a pack of beer and a large soda that both Hermione and Bella had always favored when they ate pizza. "Is that little Bella I see out there in the cruiser?"
Charlie hummed, "Nope, that'd be little Hermione out there."
Leanne gasped, "Does that mean Helen and Frankie are here visiting as well then?"
"No, 'fraid not Leanne," Charlie's voice sank some, clearing his throat with a fake cough before he continued, "Just Hermione this time."
Leanne pouted for a moment. She and Helen were from the same friend group when they were kids in Forks. Leanne always loved catching up with Helen when she'd come and visit from England. Living through her old friend as she talked about her posh London life, always dreaming how she'd get enough saved up to travel Europe herself one day. "Well, that's a shame they aren't here as well, but still great to have Hermione at least! Did you just pick her up from the airport?"
Charlie nodded as he fished out two twenties and a five from his wallet. "Yep, direct flight from London to Seattle and then connecting flight to Port Angeles... long travel day for her, with crappy airplane food."
"Poor thing must be tired after a long day like that! Is she visiting for long?"
Charlie paused for a moment, thinking a bit on the spot, "Hmm..., Helen and Frank are setting up another practice in Australia of all places. 'Mione didn't want to move out there, so had asked if she could come out here to Forks to finish out her last year of school before college instead."
"Oh, wow!" Leanne laughed, "First England, now Australia! Helen sure knows how to keep the adventure going!"
Charlie awkwardly laughed in agreement, "Ha, that's Helen for ya..."
"Well," Leanne shrugged as she took the three bills from Charlie's outstretched hand, placing them in the cash register while handing back two singles in return for change. "Maybe with Hermione here to finish out school, Bella will be tempted to come back as well?"
Charlie couldn't help but grin a little at that, knowing it was wishful thinking to get both of his girls back here for long-term. "Ah, as much as those two were inseparable when they were little, Bells really does not like the cold or the wet weather. It's like pulling teeth to get her to come out, even in the summer months because of the rain..." He pushed the two one's he got back into the tip jar next to the register, "To get her out here for the winter to live –" He snorted at the thought, "Now, that would be a full-blown miracle there."
Leanne smiled sweetly at Charlie. She knew he missed Bella more than he let on, "Well, crazier things have happened!"
Big rewrite for this story...
Hoping to get more chapters out soon, but it most likely will be slow updates as a forewarning. I am apartment hunting in NYC and just recently graduated college and am also job hunting in the big city. Both are beyond exhausting and takes a LOT of time and energy, so I can't promise quick updates. Thank you for those who have stuck around all these years, love you all for the reviews and feedback that you have given!
Let me know what you think if this is your first read, or if its a re-read I'd love to hear what you think as well!