Well, welcome to my latest story! I had no idea that I'd be writing another one so soon, but it just crept up on me. This should be a 10ish chapter story, and since it's all written in advance, it will definitely be completed!
This is for the WIKKT Daddy Long-Legs Challenge, and although I've only seen one other story that used it, I thought it fit so perfectly! If you haven't read Daddy Long-Legs by Jean Webster, I would highly recommend it.
Oh, and its rated T for a reason- I write romance, not smut! There's a not-so-subtle distinction there.
I don't own the amazing creation of Harry Potter, so if you're looking for autographs, you should go to JK Rowling... I merely tinker with her characters.
CHAPTER 1: DIRE STRAITS
Hermione stared out at the grounds of Hogwarts from her favourite haunt; a room off the Owlery that looked down upon the moors from a dizzying height and caught the first rays of morning sunlight in its stony grasp. It was her preferred place to think, to reflect, or just to forget. She had so much to forget in these cursed days.
She took a deep breath, collecting her wits again as she prepared herself for the day ahead. It wasn't going to be an easy one, by any standards; what she had planned both scared and saddened her, but it had to be done. Brushing off her robes with one quick hand, she made her way down the slippery spiral stairs, heading for the Great Hall and a noisy, Gryffindor breakfast.
As Hermione sat silent in front of Headmaster Dumbledore, she reminded herself of how much this meant to her. She needed a solution, and fast; why couldn't her mind come up with the solution? It was truly frustrating, and a position that she had never expected herself to be in.
"It's getting dire, sir. I'm... not sure if I'll be able to make next year's fees." She tried to meet his kind, sparkling eyes, but her gaze stayed resolutely on her own hands, twisting a bunch of robes in her lap.
"Is there truly no way of contacting your parents?" He asked gently.
"No... I don't even know where they are. I don't know who their Secret Keeper is! Wherever they are, it's safer if I don't contact them in any case." She felt a familiar pain at her parent's absence, but she knew it was for the best. It was too dangerous for them in these trying times.
"Quite true, my dear... well, I'm sorry to tell you that we really have no provision for this kind of situation; even when we receive orphans, they have contacts willing to cover a majority of the fees, and the Ministry covers the rest."
Hermione nodded. "I can't ask the Weasley's; and until Harry's account is cleared from that horrid Ministry inquiry, I can't rely on him either."
He peered at her over the rims of his glasses. "I can speak for myself and Professor McGonagall when I say that we cannot either; all of our remaining funds have been utilised by the Order."
"I thought it would be something like that." Hermione admitted without a due animosity. If only there was a way... but she had been racking her brains for easily a month ever since she had seen the level of her Gringotts account, and she was almost out of options.
"We'll keep trying, Hermione." He said in his grandfatherly way. "Have faith."
Hermione stared at the canopy of her four-poster in a position that usually meant she was brooding; in this case, she was so worked up that tears came to her eyes.
What if she had to leave Hogwarts? She had barely enough money to scrape together for textbooks, outings, clothes, essentials. Was she really naive enough to believe that she could find someone to pity her, bring her out of her near-poverty? The sad truth came to her- she had no one to rely completely on. Molly Weasley was a fair surrogate mother in many respects; Dumbledore was a grandfather, McGonagall was possibly a great-aunt; the Order members were distant cousins. Harry and Ron were brothers, Ginny was a sister; but they were just kids, really, the same as her. No support could be found there.
She had no true family.
She was alone.
She reluctantly decided to join everyone in the Common Room for their post-Quidditch victory party, knowing that her absence would most certainly be noted. She needed the distraction anyway; maybe she wouldn't drown her sorrows in the doctored Butterbeer, but she could certainly forget them fleetingly in the light and comfort of friends.
As she had predicted, many of the senior Gryffindor's were well into their celebrations- mostly involving a variation upon Truth or Dare and copious amount of Butterbeer. Rolling her eyes, she made her way to Ron and Harry, again resolving to hide away her worries.
"It's a shame, Albus." Minerva McGonagall sighed into her coffee. They were the only ones left in the Staff Room, the meeting disbanded minutes ago. "One of the brightest pupils I've ever had the pleasure to teach; and Head Girl, of all people!"
"I know, Minerva, but consider- most Wizards are unwilling to perform acts of charity as is expected of Muggles, and even less inclined to help a Mubbleborn, even one so talented as Miss Granger. This may well be her fate."
"Another victim of this war." The Transfiguration teacher said bitterly. "Too many, too many."
Neither of them noticed the soft rusting of robes outside the Staff Room door as the dark man made his exit.
As much as Snape was reluctant to agree with the sentimental old fool, it would indeed be a shame for Hermione Granger to not complete her formal education. He'd already deposited twenty Galleons on a NEWTs clean sweep, for heaven's sake; she couldn't back out now! Scowling, he flung his robes into a chair in the corner of his private chambers, thinking deeply.
His House bias did not extend as far as many believed; he was grudgingly willing to accept that Granger was a brilliant witch, even if he would never admit it to her face. Anyone who sought public recognition was a fool, so in turn he never outwardly complimented a student. He did, however, silently applaud those he thought exemplary- Granger being one of them. She had moved well beyond her old habit of regurgitating textbook lore; she had initiative and, heaven forbid, a certain amount of imagination. She would go well in any career she chose.
This was all secondary, of course, if she had no formal qualification. Shame.
He assumed that they had exhausted all possible options for Granger; he'd never heard Dumbledore give up on a student before it was necessary- he was living proof of the man's stubbornness in that department.
There was one that he was almost certain Dumbledore had not, however, explored.
A slight smirk came to his face.
This was going to be interesting.
Sunday morning, and the Common Room looked like a casualty centre. Hermione had risen bright and early from her private room in the Tower to go to breakfast, and tutted in her usual way at the usual mess they had made after the long night and morning. Ron was snoring, head pillowed on a keg of Butterbeer; Neville was inexplicably half inside the fireplace. She chuckled, wishing that Wizarding cameras didn't make so much noise or smoke- this would be a priceless moment to document.
Slowly, the groaning Gryffindors came to consciousness, and many went downstairs to consume their hangover remedies. As soon as Ron saw Hermione tapping her foot and with her we-are-not-amused expression on her face, he rasped out, "Spare me the lecture, I think I've ruptured my brain."
She rolled her eyes, instead reminding him (in a voice that was still too loud to his sensitive ears) that breakfast would be finishing in half an hour, so he'd better get moving.
She noticed an owl pecking at the glass of the Tower window; curious, she opened it to let in the dignified barn owl and its letter. To her surprise, it was for her, and judging by the swirling script, from Dumbledore.
Good news! An anonymous benefactor has agreed to pay the remainder of your tuition, as well as a substantial living allowance. Come to my office at 10 o'clock today to discuss the details.
Hoping that you are well,
Harry and Ginny were jerked into sobriety by a squeal of joy from Hermione as she finished the letter.
"What's that?" Harry asked quickly, trying to sound casual as he untangled his limbs from the couch and the red head simultaneously.
She grinned at him, a sparkle coming back to her tired brown eyes.
It sounded too good to be true; a mysterious witch or wizard, willing to part with a rather large amount of gold for a girl they hardly knew? As Dumbledore explained, there were only a few conditions; none of the money was to be lent, gambled or spent frivolously; she was never to try and discover the identity of the witch/wizard; she was to apply herself to her studies (no problem there); and she was to send the person at least weekly updates on her education.
"Isn't that last one a bit... strange?" She said incredulously. "I mean, would they really care?"
Dumbledore smiled. "I'd take it as an eccentricity, Hermione. Perhaps they have little communication with others and wish only for the companionship and the stories of youth."
"It sounds like an elderly recluse, when you put it that way." She laughed. "I'd be willing to put up with a lot more for this, so I agree to these conditions unreservedly."
"One more thing, Hermione." He said softly. "This kind of arrangement may create an obligation, if you will, between you and your financier. Not necessarily an exclusively binding one, but a contract that may have some effect on you."
Hermione nodded, considering it seriously for a moment. "Does this compromise the war in any way? I mean, could this person turn me against Harry or the Order in some way?"
"It's a weak bond, by magical standards... so no Hermione, I would safely say that you could not be forced into anything of the sort."
"In that case, go ahead!" She said brightly.
"Excellent! The only contact I have is a Post Office Box and the name of the owl... 'Jupitus', I believe."
The bird blinked at him from his perch on the arm of a chair, hearing his name.
"A noble name." Hermione murmured as Dumbledore finished his letter with a flourish and attached it to the owl's leg. They both watched it disappear into the distance, lost in their own thoughts.
Later, she sat on her bed with the Journal in her lap. She's never kept a diary before, or even sustained correspondence with many people in her past. The red leather cover was rough to the touch, but the parchment pages inside it were creamy and smooth. It was the kind of journal she would have bought one day, if only to admire then write in it twice. With a flick of her quill, she began.
She frowned. Was this really how it was going to be? A formal title, an impersonal prefix? She could come up with something better, surely... a moment later, she had it.
This is a loathsome identity to write to! I hope you don't mind; I've come up with a better name for you, my mysterious benefactor. I noticed your owl, Jupitus, owed his name to the Greek Gods. Whether this was intentional or not, I shall never know, having no response from you; but I have seen fit to label you with something similar from my own childhood knowledge of mythology.
So, I name thee Hyperion, Greek God of Watchfulness and Wisdom. I see it as extremely fitting; you are almost watching over me like a guardian angel (or a voyeur; I haven't really decided yet), and you have the fortitude of mind to realise how important this year is to me, to my future and integrity as a witch. I know not to whom I am indebted, but you must allow me to thank you, from the bottom of my heart, for this deed.
Hermione read over this critically, deciding wryly that she couldn't really erase anything from the book anyway; it would instantly appear on its partner journal.
Now, I move onto the more mundane of subjects; my academic pursuits. Please feel free to skip this if I become long winded in any particular area, I tend to get carried away. At least, that's what my best friends Harry and Ron say. I say the same about Quidditch- but I digress.
Hermione wrote more on her subjects, what she liked and disliked; some general comments on her disposition and hobbies, but not too much. She needed to keep reminding herself that someone would be reading it, and it wasn't just an exercise in self-expression.
...and I have a particular love for a good mud cake, with plenty of sugar content (at the express displeasure of my dentist parents). In conclusion of my first letter, I finish with a riddle I've been taunting the boys with. It's cruel, to be sure, but who said that Gryffindor's were always nice to each other?
Woods with no trees
Rivers with no water
And cities without buildings?
The answer, Hyperion, is forthcoming (unless, in your infinite divine wisdom, you solve it yourself.)
Snape put away the Dictoquill with a sigh, relieved that Dumbledore and Hermione had accepted his offer. Of course the headmaster would have considered this offer to be a Death Eater stunt of some kind, or at least one from an unfriendly wizard; but the implications were minute if they were truly careful.
Hours later he was amused to see his green partner journal quivering silently, a sign that Hermione was already writing. He snorted; she was obviously quick to obey his instructions.
He read of his new name with some interest and a raised eyebrow- Hyperion? Really, Granger? He was no god, by any standard of a deity.
Nevertheless, he found the remainder of the letter at times amusing and thoughtful. She had some interesting comments about Hogwarts and her classes, and not a few amusing anecdotes about member of staff. Nothing about himself, thank Merlin.
The inclusion of her Gryffindor friends brought up an intriguing point, however; this was an ideal opportunity to see Potter's mind at work. If he was being particularly emotional or irrational, Granger would most likely comment upon it. It could be an indicator of plans brewing, events beyond Dumbledore's control taking place. If Granger was truly diligent, he could glean much from its contents.
It took his quick mind a minute or so to figure out the riddle. A map. Clever, Granger.
He allowed himself to dwell on the entry and its writer for a moment, and then returned to his work.
A/N: Chapter 1 is done! More is about to happen, I promise, so have some faith :)