TITLE: How Troublesome Redux
TIMELINE/SPOILERS: Books 1-6, and one or two from book 7. I haven't read the last book yet (for various reasons), so some canon stuff are disregarded to make this fic possible.
WARNINGS: T for a bit of rough words and... uuh sexual situations.
DISCLAIMER: JK Rowling owns Harry Potter and anything and everything within its universe. I'm not making any profit out of this, unless you fave and leave reviews. Otherwise, nada.
Chapter One - Aftermath
It was over.
No more Death Eaters. No more Horcruxes. No more Voldemort.
The war had finally ended.
Sure, Christmas won't come with pure bliss. Many lost things and people important for them, and some lost all…
Hermione Granger hastily wiped her tears. She had been listening stiffly at Professor McGonagall, forcing herself to concentrate, when moments later she realized that her frozen cheeks were warming up because of…
"Miss Granger, are you alright?" McGonagall asked.
Hermione gasped and looked back at McGonagall. After taking a deep breath, she forced herself into a smile and shook her head.
"Y-yes professor, I'm alright." Hermione said, her voice shaking.
McGonagall sighed and nodded, continuing her lessons without any more questions. Yes, she definitely understood. She was by her side when she saw with her own eyes how her parents were…
Hermione wiped her eyes hastily.
"During your N.E.W.T. exams, expect that you will be asked to perform complete human transfiguration." McGonagall's voice rang in the silence. "It doesn't matter if you would transfigure yourself, a partner or the examiner himself or herself. What is important is that you are able to do it properly and with ease. Longbottom, if you keep up your good work you may be able to transfigure someone for a full minute, though I suggest you practice harder for longer duration."
Neville glowed pink and smiled sheepishly. Yes, ever since the war, ever since the battle, Neville had improved a lot in spellwork. If one would think about it, would Neville have improved this much if he wasn't part of the battle to defeat Voldemort and his dark forces?
Hermione shook her head, frowning at the thought of entertaining those questions in her mind. She really had faith in Neville's improvement, and she was glad he wasn't as shy and withdrawn as he was before.
She gave a low sigh as she absently moved her quill over her notes. The war may be over but N.E.W.T.s definitely were not. Homework and assignments piled here and there and the professors were getting more and more demanding.
And it didn't help that both her parents were already… dead.
And he still hadn't come back from that veil.
Hermione hastily wiped her face again and slapped her cheeks a few times.
No, there was nothing she could do. They're all gone forever, and her heart won't heal anymore.
Someone took her hand down and squeezed it.
"I know you're not alright," Harry whispered quietly. "But please remember— we're always here for you."
Harry looked at Hermione and smiled gently at her, squeezing her hand again.
"Oy, and here's something to make you feel better."
Ron placed an eagle quill on Hermione's other hand. Harry raised his eyebrows.
"Ron," Harry said. "I know Hermione's the studies-are-everything type, but surely it would take more than a quill to make her feel better."
"Dolt, that's a Sugar Quill Deluxe— been saving it for exams but since Hermione needs it more, here you go."
Hermione couldn't help but smile. Ron, calling Harry 'dolt'?
"See what I mean?" Ron said, noticing Hermione's smile.
"She hasn't even put the quill to her mouth." Harry protested under his breath, careful to not let McGonagall notice their hushed conversation.
"Potter, I see you know how the wand movement is to transform fish into owls." Professor McGonagall's voice broke in like a whip.
Harry looked at her blankly.
"Er— wand movement?"
Hermione put the eagle quill to her mouth.
"Jab and lift sharply up, since you're transforming the fish into a bird." She whispered through pretending to suck her quill.
Harry nodded, looking relieved. He recited the words to McGonagall, who looked quite surprised.
"Although you've answered my question correctly, Potter, I would not recommend you talking while I'm discussing something; not unless I asked you to or when really necessary."
Well it was necessary— Hermione needed help!
But then, for a split second, McGonagall gave him a rare smile. Or was he imagining it?
"Thanks," he whispered to Hermione. "You're really a life saver."
The quill between Hermione's lips dropped lifelessly on her lap.
"N-no!" Harry said, realizing what he had just said. "Hermione I-I—"
"Harry, you dolt!" Ron hissed. "What the bloody hell were you thinking?!"
"I-It's alright…" Hermione whispered quietly. "It's just an expression, I'm okay…"
But really, it sparked her memories again…
The bell rang from outside the room. Finally they were free to go.
"—to be passed first thing next week. Goodbye."
The class filed out and scattered to different directions. Some headed to the Gryffindor Common Room while others went straight to the Great Hall for dinner.
"Hermione, what d'you think?"
"I want to head to the Great Hall for dinner, but Harry reckons we should drop our bags before doing so." Ron said, a bit worried on Hermione's silence. "What d'you think?"
"Er… You go ahead and have dinner— I have to talk to Professor Flitwick about my homework… I-I think I left out something on the side effects of Luminous Charm used on humans, and- and I have to check on Professor Vector's homework too, I think I've misread the ancient numerical codes of the Humpback Wizards of Egypt…"
Harry and Ron didn't take her reasons seriously, though it was very likely of her to check on her assignments. Hermione had always been really a lousy liar— at least, to them. They still couldn't believe it when teachers believed her excuses to save their skins.
"Er, okay…" Ron said uncertainly.
"Hermione, remember what I said." Harry reminded her.
"Yeah," Rom chimed. "I have a spare Sugar Quill, though it's the normal one."
"Don't worry, I'm alright."
With one last smile, Hermione walked away, leaving the two still worried.
Hermione kept walking with no purpose, her mind filled with images that had always visited her at night.
How did they die? Yes, it was all like a dream. One by one, Voldemort weakened Order members by striking where it hurt the most. Many lost loved ones to the green light or to the walls of St. Mungo's. After the attack on Ginny, who had miraculously recovered within a month, they knew she was the only one left. Other Order members, down. Well, except maybe Alastor Moody and Albus Dumbledore. Yes, Dumbledore. He survived the green light, after all. His Shield Charm was really unbelievably strong, not to mention spell-absorbing, qhich gave the illusion that it wasn't there, and he transfigured a rock into a perfect copy of himself, to fool everyone, especially Voldemort. And Moody? Well, Moody had nothing to lose. Except maybe his eye, and Voldemort wasn't fool enough to waste his time on an electric blue-irised eye.
After all of them, they all knew it was her next. Ginny of the Weasleys was down, Harry's Sirius was sent to that cursed Veil, and who were most precious to her? Well, Voldemort didn't know he had hit two birds with one stone with Sirius' disappearance, so he attacked the others.
They had immediately gone to the Grangers' house, but unfortunately Voldemort not only had sent his best Death Eaters there but also the Dementors. Everyone fought valiantly, but no one was aware that Voldemort had Harry to himself that moment. No one else noticed, except for her.
Harry had been bleeding after a series of attacks from no less than four Death Eaters, and facing a scratchless Voldemort was an impossible feat. After Hermione performed a particularly strong Shield Charm on Harry that could've saved him from the Killing Curse, Voldemort quickly shifted his wand— and spell— to them.
No, McGonagall thought wrong. She had put the wrong special Shield Charm on the wrong person. Voldemort didn't mean to attack Hermione, but rather her Muggle parents. Dumbledore was busy with the werewolves, so he couldn't have possibly saved them. Everyone else was busy battling the Death Eaters and dementors, so no one could've saved them. No, no one could've saved them as they fell down, their eyes wide with surprise. No one could've done anything as their breathing and heartbeat stopped. No one…
Well it was a battle. People lose many things, many loved ones, in a war.
But that pig didn't have to rub it in…
'Now, you filthy Mudblood, does it hurt?'
And his high-pitched harsh laugh echoed in the night as he and his remaining followers disappeared in the darkness.
"Now, now, you wouldn't want anyone to hear that, would you? Imagine, a Head Girl saying such things."
A familiar drawl.
"Shut up, Malfoy."
Hermione looked back at Draco Malfoy, surprised. He was holding out a large slab of Honeyduke's chocolate.
"I realized it's been a month and— and I thought you could do some cheering up… I know how hard it is, to lose them." Draco said, looking out infront of him. Hermione followed his gaze and was surprised to see that she had come to the lake without her noticing. "I mean, my father wasn't worth a single tear, but still he's my dad. If he hadn't just foolishly thought that if he joined that bastard he'd be much more rich and famous, and if he wasn't so prejudiced, he could've been a great father… And mum… Mother was so nice… And she loved father and me dearly…"
Hermione nibbled at a corner of the chocolate bar. Yes, Draco had become a Death Eater, but it wasn't really his choice. His father was just too convincing. Snape secretly helped him escape Voldemort, and since that escape he had stayed in Grimmauld Place and helped the Order with research and his knowledge of Dark things, just like Snape. He fought with his distant relative, Bellatrix, one on one, during that night that her parents—
"Sorry…" Hermione said quietly. Her throat still wouldn't allow her to speak loudly. "It's just that— I… I still can't forget that night… His last words…"
Draco winced as he remembered the tragic night and Voldemort's parting words. It was that night when he truly realized how painful that mock-word was, and he had been calling her that since their second year in Hogwarts until only a few months ago.
"Look, you're no M-Mudblood. He's the one who's dirty. If he's not then I'm a stupid Troll, and mind you, you know how far my intelligence is from a Troll."
Hermione smiled and she bit on the chocolate once more.
"It's nothing. Come on, we've got to go in. Dinner's already started and I'm starving."
Hermione nodded and followed Draco inside the castle.
"And Hermione," Draco said, before entering the Great Hall's doors.
"I've gotten used to you calling me Draco, so please don't stop."
"Oh, sorry… Er, thanks again for the chocolate, Draco."
Draco smiled. His usual sneer had long gone, although sometimes during boring days it resurfaces now and then. Now his smile was much better— and girls from different Houses (yes, including Gryffindor) have noticed it. He nodded and joined the rest of the Slytherins at their table. Rivalry still existed between Gryffindor and Slytherin, but the tension was less violent and dark since the Slytherins had realized the dangers Dark things could do to them. But their pranks were still getting nastier and the Gryffindors weren't the type who'd take them nicely. Ah, some things will never change.
"Where'd the chocolate come from?" Ron asked as he goggled at the large chocolate bar Hermione was still finishing.
"What! That sneering Snape-wannabe?"
"He doesn't sneer anymore and he's nicer now." Hermione reminded him.
"Yeah, that may be true." Ron said, still annoyed. "But I won't forget how deep my eyebrows furrow because of him. I still can't believe he's been made Head Boy."
"Oh Ron snap out of it."
"Hermione, are you alright?"
Hermione looked back at Harry, who had clearly been worried since they departed.
"Don't worry, Harry. I'm alright."
"Look," Harry said, dropping his voice and leaning closer to Hermione. "I'm very, very sorry— If I was just quicker and cast the special Shield Charm on myself, you could've been able to save—"
Harry choked before he could finish his sentence. Hermione had stuffed three treacle tarts to his mouth and he couldn't chew them all— and spitting them would earn him screams of disgust.
"Harry, you've been blaming yourself for a long time." Hermione said sternly (well, it was supposed to sound stern, to convince him). "Cedric, Dumbledore, my parents, S— Sirius…"
Harry suddenly gulped everything in his mouth and looked at Hermione, his mouth open. Ron, however, laughed at Harry's expression, but stopped when he realized he missed something.
"Um, I think I'd better bring my things up before I eat. Bye."
And Hermione left as fast as she could.
"What's gotten into her?" Ron asked, startled by Hermione's sudden mood change. "Girls… Honestly."
Harry never thought Hermione's feelings were specifically for girls only. He knew Hermione would well up whenever the topic of Sirius was brought up, but the same thing also happened when she would be reminded of her parents. Harry had figured it was because she did help him get free and Sirius had been of help to them, as well as good company, despite his immense hatred for Kreacher; something that had often appalled Hermione.
But honestly, Harry didn't expect that Sirius' death would matter to her this much. He knew she was devastated about her parents' deaths, but it seemed she was as grief-stricken at Sirius'.
"Yeah… Girls…" He answered absentmindedly.
* * *
Honestly, why couldn't he be saved from that dratted Veil?! Bellatrix's dead, she made sure of that, but why's he still not with them, rejoicing?! And Dumbledore— Dumbledore's one of the wisest and greatest wizards to have ever lived— why couldn't he figure out how to pull him out?!
"Yes, why can't you still pull him out?! You're supposed to be the cleverest, the wisest, the most powerful! He's been there for years, for heaven's sake! I killed Bellatrix, she's now rotting in hell, but why-is-he-still-not-here, with the living, with us?!"
Dumbledore peered at Hermione over his half-moon spectacles with a solemn expression.
Hermione stepped back, stunned. As she recalled what she had said she sank lower and lower to the ground.
"P-professor— I'm sorry- I'm so s-sorry— I didn't mean to say—"
She painfully gasped as she remembered telling Dumbledore what she had done. No one ever knew, except for her best friend friends Harry, Ron, and Ginny, who now had a permanent scar on her back— they all thought Voldemort himself killed the Lestrange Death Eater.
"I'm very sure you had meant what you said." Dumbledore said, but there was no hint of anger or disappointment in his voice. Instead, it was somber. "Would you like a cup of tea?"
Knowing it meant as an invitation to his office, Hermione accepted Dumbledore's hand and shakily stood up. After a few minutes of quiet walking towards the Headmaster's office, Dumbledore offered her a nice armchair infront of his desk and gave her a warm cup of rose tea. Her chocolate was long gone, settling on her nervous stomach. Fawkes flew from his desk and settled beside her, perched on an armrest.
After a few minutes more of silence, Dumbledore finally spoke, making Hermione jump with a start.
"Like I said, I'm pretty sure you had meant what you said." Dumbledore said, still solemn. "I may be, as you said, 'great', but it is most difficult to figure out a way to get somebody out of the Veil."
"I guess I've been keeping my hopes and standards too high…" Hermione said timidly. "H- Harry would certainly be happy if he was out again, since he's been pardoned…"
Dumbledore nodded, but there's was something in his eyes that clearly showed he knew more.
"Miss Granger," he said, setting aside something in his mind. "You spoke about Bellatrix Lestrange."
Hermione almost dropped her tea cup. Her hands were shaking like mad.
"You do realize what you've done?"
Hermione nodded slowly, the words etching long and painful in her chest.
"Avada Kedavra. The Killing Curse. A lifetime in Azkaban." Dumbledore said quietly. "I understood Harry had to do it, but you…"
"She killed Sirius!" Hermione exploded, standing up and smashing her tea cup into several pieces on the floor. "If she didn't kill Sirius, and made fun of it, and reminded us of it, Harry would've been happy! He's the only person left in his life, the only one he could ever think of as a father, and then— and then she— s-she sent h-him in that s-stup-pid v-veil…"
Hermione collapsed back at the arm chair, unable to bear the pain that still hadn't passed away eversince…
Liar, you weren't completely angry because Harry lost his godfather. Harry had other people who mattered to him as well, people whom he thought of as his family. She wasn't completely angry that the woman had killed someone precious to Harry, but also because he was important for her as well.
Fawkes brushed his head on Hermione's arm and settled on her lap, resting his head on her shoulder.
"As it was during the time of war, you are pardoned for that. No one would dare say you should land in Azkaban, after all that she's killed and tortured." Dumbledore said, putting the tips of his fingers together. "And no one has to know, if you do not want to. You have the right to choose who should know."
Hermione looked back at Dumbledore and nodded, relieved that the world need not to know what she did.
"But, I admit, I would like to know how."
Hermione looked nervously away.
"I think you need a new cup of tea, to make you feel better."
Dumbledore conjured another cup of warm tea. Fawkes returned to his place by Hermione's side as she hesitantly took it.
"Don't worry, it hasn't got any potion, especially Veritaserum."
Hermione nodded and finally drank the cup empty.
"Rose tea's nice, isn't it?" Dumbledore asked.
"Y-yes…" Hermione replied.
But Sirius had said, after one of his temper attacks 'Rose tea?! Hermione, I'm not your grandmother!'
Hermione chuckled and choked with her tears. She looked at Fawkes and sighed.
"It was a few days after my parents… were killed." She started, still looking at Fawkes, who appeared as a hazy blur. "I saw her at Hogsmeade. I was buying flowers to send to their— their graves… I knew she was spying for Voldemort. I wanted to run back to Hogwarts and tell you, but… But I suddenly remembered what she did to Neville's parents, to Ginny, to— to Sirius and I- I snapped…"
Liar, you only remembered Sirius.
"I-I saw her make for the Shrieking Shack— she must've known its connection to Hogwarts through Peter Pettigrew— and I followed her, using the Disillusionment Charm on myself." Hermione continued. "She found out before she reached the gate, just like I suspected. But before she could face me and laugh, she… I killed her."
Hermione laughed quietly but was attacked again by sobs.
"And y-you know w-what I did af-fter that?" she said, her voice growing louder with each word. "I-I l-l-laughed! I l-laughed a-and laughed t-till I t-thought I w-w-was cr-crazy!"
Hermione laughed foolishly and then suddenly slumped with tears.
"Professor Dumbledore, may I ask you something?" Hermione said, looking blankly at nowhere. "What do you want for Christmas?"
"Oh, the one I've always been wishing for." Dumbledore said, making a final decision in his mind. "I still haven't received woolly socks… The closest thing I received to that was a fluffy ear muff which made me look like I have miniature sheep over my ears."
"Then I can assure you you'll receive woolly socks this year." Hermione said, smiling a bit. "I've improved a lot in my knitting, you know."
"Oh I would love that." Dumbledore said, smiling. "I prefer it to be midnight blue, with golden stars… If it isn't too much?"
Hermione smiled a bit and nodded.
"Can I leave now, professor?"
"Yes, you may. But please have some dinner."
Hermione nodded again and stood up. After patting Fawkes gently, she headed for the doors.
"Oh, Miss Granger?"
Hermione looked back at Dumbledore, her hand still holding the brass door knob of the open door.
"Your parents were brave. They let their daughter get involved in a world that they are not familiar with, and they trusted you enough to be able to take care of yourself and find people who will support you. You have been raised well, and I am sure they are proud of you as much as you are proud of them."
Hermione smiled weakly.
"Thank you, Professor Dumbledore."
As the door closed behind her, Dumbledore stood up from his seat, his face full of worry. Losses were expected with the Second Wizarding War, but perhaps, there was still one person they could possibly bring back. Dumbledore had always wanted a complete family, and he really felt for those who had lost their loved ones. He had asked so much from his friends and colleagues, but perhaps the one he owed the most was Harry Potter. He would love to reunite Hermione Granger with her parents, but as her parents were undoubtedly dead— he was sure the girl would understand— there was only one person he could help in terms of loved ones.
He just hoped they would succeed.
:to be continued:
How Troublesome was written more than three years ago, when I was still heavily into the book and I let my love for the pairing get the better of me. I have to admit, it kinda made me cringe a little when I re-read the whole thing a few days ago lol. So, in order to rectify that and finish the story, I've edited the chapters with changes to some things, especially concerning the three main characters, namely Hermione Granger, Sirius Black (present), and Sirius Black (past). I hope the story is loads better now lol.
As with my other fanfics: Reviews, comments, suggestions, and bursts of fangirling squee are most welcome :)