Note: Something else a bit different for you all. I had a little plot bunny that wouldn't fit into my existing / planned stories but I had to write it. It was supposed to be a 800 word one-shot but is almost 4000, my writing always takes on a life of its own. I'm also shocked that I wrote something that is pretty much HBP and DH compliant (minus the end of DH but I ignore that anyway). Enjoy.
It had been a year since the final battle at Hogwarts.
A year since so many of their friends had died.
A year since Voldemort had been killed.
Things had gotten bad towards the end of the war but in some ways the chaos of the reconstruction was worse.
Harry was changed, the taking of a life, even Voldemorts had changed him. He was quieter, moody and a little reclusive. Ron was spending a lot of time with his family after his brothers' death. Hermione couldn't remember the last time the three of them had been together, occasionally two of them would have dinner but for all intents and purposes she was alone.
She had taken the entry level position that the Ministry had offered her and she lived a quiet life, like Harry somewhat tormented by a past she couldn't escape. Not exactly the career she had always dreamed of having. After days spent mind-numbingly filing reports written by people she had once beaten in tests, she went home alone to her cheap dingy bedsit and read books until it was time to go to sleep and start her day all over again.
This day was different.
Once she left work Hermione wandered around the streets, gradually becoming soaked by the unrelenting rain. She never felt the cold or the wet anymore, felt almost nothing. The war had numbed her, sometimes she thought she had died along with the others and other times she merely wished she had.
Without conscious thought she closed her eyes and apparated to the last place where everything had been right. Incidentally it was the same place where everything had gone so very wrong.
Now that the wards protecting it were gone she was able to apparate right into the grounds of Hogwarts. The ruins of the once magnificent castle were almost enough to make her fall to her knees. Towers were crumbled, huge holes were in the walls – it was a mess. It was no wonder that The Ministry had scheduled its demolition.
Hermione walked into the courtyard, memories flooding over her, remembering happier times. After a few minutes she shouldered her way through the warping door, remembering her first time all those years ago. She had been so scared that there would be a test, scared that she would be rejected and sent back home as a muggle.
Her steps took her on a tour, memories unable to be denied. On the way to the Great Hall Hermione detoured to the bathroom where her had life changed, so long ago. The door was missing, many sinks and toilets shattered. Despite herself she smiled, it looked almost as bad as it had looked when the troll was finished with it. She turned a tap watching as rust stained water spurted over the floor, waiting until it was clear she washed the tears from her face.
Her ears heard a disgusted Ron commenting on Troll Bogies. Her heart remembered how she felt when the boys became her friends. Her feet took her into the Great Hall while she was thinking. Washing her face had proven a waste of time because the tears were falling again.
The house tables were stacked against one wall as they had been after the final battle to allow room to place all the bodies on the floor. A year of rain pouring through the holes in the roof had washed the bloodstains off of the floor but scorch marks still marred the walls. Glancing up Hermione could see the night sky, this time it wasn't an enchantment but reality. Remembering how it had looked she started to weep, she had known highs and lows in this room, fear and joy but it was a ruin now – just like she was.
Her feet took her to the remains of Gryffindor Tower. The Common Room was a complete wreck, barely recognisable. She knew that the upper levels of the tower were missing, from outside she had seen the remains lying on the ground. As always knowing something and seeing something were two different things, there was just air where the boys' dormitories had been. The staircase leading to the girls' dorm was not in good shape either.
Disregarding her own safety Hermione began to climb the stairs. She had only made it up two steps before she heard an ominous rumbling from the walls and ceiling. From far above came a crash, she looked up to see a large chunk of masonry falling towards her. Unable to react in time she simply stared.
"Arresto Momentum!" Came from behind her, a lot of power evident in the voice. She recognised the voice, recognised both the power and Scottish accent as that belonging to her former mentor. She moved out of harms way towards Professor McGonagall, watching the older woman release the magic and hearing the huge stone block crash to the floor behind her.
Minerva watched the young woman walk towards her. She hadn't seen her in about 9 months at an awards dinner, she was shockingly pale and had lost a lot of weight, even her hair was dull. "Professor, what are you doing here?"
"I could ask you the same question Hermione and I've told you to call me Minerva."
Hermione nodded almost imperceptibly. Minerva's eyes left her and trailed around the room.
The young woman really looked at her former professor; she was thinner, extremely pale, and looked as though she hadn't slept in a month – she seemed to have aged ten years in the last one.
"When I got my Hogwarts letter it felt too good to be true."
"I know the feeling." Hermione agreed.
"My family had been Squibs for generations and home was... bad. This place, this room became home to me. Even after I graduated I did everything in my power to come back. Hogwarts means everything to me, meant everything to me..." She shook her head, ran a finger across the burnt and cracked wall before exiting the hole where a portrait had once been.
They walked down a corridor heading for Minerva's former office. "They offered you the Headmistress position of the new school, didn't they?"
"Yes but I haven't accepted yet, in fact I don't plan to do so."
"It wouldn't be the same. Hogwarts meant something. The 'British University of Magic', that means nothing to me."
Hermione let out a hollow chuckle, "Did they even think that name through?" At Minerva's questioning look she continued, "It's an amusing acronym."
Minerva's answering smile was equally hollow, "Even I hadn't thought of that. How is the job going?"
The young woman shrugged, "Filing, editing, copying – it pays the bills."
"Not exactly what we hoped for, is it?"
"No." Minerva barely heard her answer but didn't really need to, it had been a rhetorical question. They had reached the doorway of her old classroom. The door had been ripped off and they could both see the ruination within. They gingerly stepped into what was left of the transfiguration classroom, although Minerva had seen it before – Hermione hadn't.
The outer wall was missing, desks and cabinets forming a shattered pile in a corner. The door into Minerva's office was also hung askew, indicating that this damage had been done deliberately. The older womans office was in a similar state, something about this suggested a malicious intent; something directed at Minerva herself.
"Who did this?"
Minerva's voice was cold, flat, and emotionless. "Well I don't know for sure but I believe Bellatrix Lestrange was responsible."
"Wow, why would she take time out of a battle to do this?"
"Bellatrix had a personal grudge against me." Minerva bent down and picked up a burnt, water swollen book off of the floor. She ran a thumb over the embossed title with obvious care, regret and pain. "Knowing her character, I'm sure she would have been delighted to do something that would cause me pain." Her voice rose towards the end of the sentence and she threw the sodden tome to the floor. "Why are you here Hermione?"
Hermione's expressionless mask slipped a little, revealing the pain below. She did not say anything though, dropped her eyes to avoid Minerva's. The older woman noticed all of this, the clenched fists and jaw. She allowed Hermione to avoid the subject, for now.
Over the next few hours the two women walked what was left of Hogwarts' corridors. Passing much of the time in silence, both occasionally shared a memory of a location with the other. They were paying homage to both the dead of the final battle and to Hogwarts itself, this place meant more to both of them than they could admit to others.
On some level they both understood the other. They needed one more chance to see Hogwarts before it was gone. They were both seeking something but neither knew exactly what it was and as yet neither of them had found it. The destruction of Hogwarts was intrinsically tied to their mental states and they could both see the toll it was taking on the other.
Once they had toured the whole school, they could not delay leaving any longer. Forcing their way out of the main door they stood in the courtyard facing each other. Hermione's hands were shaking, she had felt a little better in the older womans company and their impending separation began to weigh heavily on her.
Several minutes passed, neither of them made a move to leave. Suddenly a crash of thunder announced the arrival of the rain to Scotland and within moments they were both soaked. Dull expressionless brown eyes met ice cold green, for a long time until the rain became too heavy for the eye contact to be maintained.
"Come on." Minerva walked off around the side of the castle, knowing that Hermione was not ready to leave yet because neither was she. The older woman led her to the small building near the overgrown Quidditch pitch, opening the lock with a wave of her wand she led Hermione in.
In all of her years at Hogwarts Hermione had only been in here a few times. In the entrance hall were racks of old brooms available to the students, piles of Quidditch equipment and the doors to the team dressing rooms. It was obvious that the Death Eaters had left this area alone, nor had the final battle penetrated this far.
Minerva whispered a password to a statue, it moved aside leaving a dark opening. She walked inside and Hermione followed. Minerva lit a fire and turned the lights on, revealing a startlingly bright room decorated in a contemporary Muggle style. Hermione sat on one of the steel framed, leather sofa's and sent a questioning look at her former professor.
"Madam Hooch chose the decoration of her rooms and she updated it frequently."
Hermione took off her outer robe and hung it up to dry, underneath she was wearing a drab professional outfit. Minerva followed suit a few minutes later, she was wearing soft inner robes of a dull green. Both of them were soaked to the skin but the fire was giving off a lot of heat.
Apart from a little dust there was nothing amiss with these rooms, no destruction, no chaos. Despite the fact that Hermione had never seen these rooms before suddenly she felt a little more like herself – this was Hogwarts, albeit a small part of Hogwarts, the place that time forgot.
"...If I know Xio..." Minerva mumbled, sticking her head in a cupboard. She pulled out a bottle and two glasses. "A – ha!" She plonked the glasses on the glass coffee table, and ripped the seal off of the bottle.
Hermione took the hefty measure of alcohol from Minerva's hand, noting the cold of the other womans fingers as they accidentally touched hers. She sipped curiously, not used to alcohol but also well aware of Hooch's reputation for drinking on her day off. She was pleasantly surprised by the taste and the warmth of the liquid.
Both women were on their second glass before Hermione broke the silence, "So what will you do?"
Minerva shrugged, it wasn't the type of gesture Hermione expected from the always elegant woman, there was a long pause. "You never answered MY question."
"Why am I here?" It was her turn to shrug. "I never intended to come here, I apparated without thinking it through."
"Everything's gone to hell and despite what's happened, the last time everything was right...was here." Minerva took a swallow of her drink, the inner turmoil and the depth of the young womans feelings were revealed by the way she worded the statement; Hermione normally used much better grammar and syntax.
"How are the boys?"
"I wouldn't know."
Minerva nodded slowly, watching as Hermione downed the last of her glass and poured herself another. "I thought about travel, maybe buying a little cottage somewhere."
"I can't imagine you ever giving up teaching."
"Until last year neither did I." Following Hermione's example Minerva poured a generous mixture into her glass. "So... filing?"
"I go to work, go home and go to bed. That's pretty much the extent of it."
They kept drinking.
"Why haven't you moved on?"
"For the same reason that you haven't. Because I can't!"
After some time Hermione got up, she walked to the single wide window and looked out towards the ruined castle. Though she could see little more than its outline in the dark she stood there for several minutes. She could see her own reflection in the glass, it had been many weeks since she had last stood in front of a mirror.
"I thought nothing could possibly hurt me anymore... I've become so numb."
"It hurts!" The girls anguish was clear. In times past Minerva would have wrapped her arms around her former student, this time however she couldn't comfort her, couldn't convince her that things would get better because she honestly didn't believe it herself.
Instead she refilled their glasses and offered one to Hermione. "I know."
"I don't know if I can face tomorrow. While it's there a small part of me can believe that everything is somehow ok." Hermione broke off and sat down heavily on the couch again.
"And you're worried that... when they demolish Hogwarts what's left of you will die too." While Minerva's tone was logical Hermione recognised the deeper feeling, Minerva's life was tied to this place just as much as Hermione's.
Hermione dropped her glass a few inches onto the table with a thud. She had suddenly realised one of the major issues that had drawn both her and Minerva here, on the eve of the demolition. Neither of them had an identity outside of Hogwarts, neither of them knew how to live without it – they had both lost everything else - she said as much to Minerva who nodded curtly.
Another long silence passed punctuated by drinking and another bottle being opened, "I don't even know who I am anymore Hermione. I poured everything I was, everything I had into Hogwarts – there's nothing left. I can count on one hand the number of weeks I have spent away from Hogwarts in the last four decades. Until..."
There were tears in those green eyes, tears that Hermione found herself sharing. "How are we supposed to move on when there is nothing to move on to?"
"I don't know." Minerva changed seats and slumped onto the sofa next to Hermione. "I wish I did."
Hermione began to shake again, "I wish I could feel something, anything but pain." She placed a hand on Minerva's thigh.
"I've always known what to do, never been indecisive my whole but I just don't know anymore." She moved a little closer to Hermione but neither woman noticed.
A wry chuckle escaped Hermione's lips, "You're terrified of not being in control and I'm terrified of having to be." She shuffled slightly sideways, turning so that she could better read the truth in Minerva's eyes.
Minerva reached out and brushed the hair from Hermione's face. "I wish I could reassure you." The hand caressed her face momentarily. The young woman closed her eyes and leaned into the touch.
When she opened her eyes it was to look into Minerva's shocked ones. For that one brief moment she had felt that someone saw her, not Hermione the bookworm, not Hermione friend of Harry Potter, not the quiet young assistant but her.
She leaned forward and pressed her lips against her former professors. There was a pause before Minerva returned the kiss with a bruising intensity. Hermione moaned as the older womans tongue forcefully slipped between her lips, caressing, exploring. In a very short time both women were breathless, panting, caressing whatever their hands could reach.
Hermione fell back on the sofa under Minerva's weight, as she did she raised a thigh between the older womans. She gasped as Minerva's thigh pressed into the apex of her thighs, her fingers clutched at the older womans back and buttocks, pulling her closer. Minerva's fingers were doing their own exploring, finding their way under Hermione's shirt, making the girl whimper at her touch.
The young woman moved her shaking hands to the clasp of Minerva's robes and tore them open, forgetting magic in her haste to feel the older womans skin against hers. Minerva tore her lips from Hermione's and began to unbutton the girls' blouse. Hermione's lips found the skin of Minerva's shoulder as she pushed the womans robe down.
Slipping a finger underneath Minerva's bra strap Hermione yanked that down too. Her kisses became less gentle, she began to suck and nip at the smooth skin. Minerva lent her neck to one side and allowed Hermione to leave her mark with an appreciative moan. Meanwhile her own hands found the front clasp of Hermione's bra and moments later traced her bare erect nipples, pushing the errant fabric to one side.
Minerva slid down the sofa, her lips tasting the girls flesh. She took one of the erect nipples into her mouth, sucking a little roughly. Her hand meanwhile trailed over Hermione's stomach and found the button of her trousers, without waiting for permission she undid it. The young woman showed her approval in the way she lifted her hips.
Hermione pulled the pins from Minerva's hair and tangled her fingers in the long tresses, keeping the older womans mouth where it was. Minerva fumbled with the zip on Hermione's trousers for a minute before pulling back and chuckling, "I...um... I'm not sure how this thing works." The younger woman grinned at her, remembering that zippers were not common on wizard garments.
She slid her hands down to unzip her trousers, watching Minerva's eye darken as gradually she revealed her cream coloured underwear. Minerva put her hands on Hermione's hips and pulled the material downwards, digging her nails in just slightly as she did. She stood, dropping her own robes, standing in front of Hermione in her black bra and pants.
Hermione stood up kicking her trousers off. She leaned in and kissed Minerva again, feeling the passion rise again. She stood on her tiptoes, pressing her whole body against the older womans. Minerva's hands cupped both of Hermione's ample buttocks, grinding her pelvis against the younger womans.
"Tell me that Madam Hooch has a bed in here somewhere." Hermione practically growled against Minerva's lips.
Somehow the two of them ended up in the bedroom, though neither of them was aware of how they got there. Minerva's knees buckled as she hit the bed. Hermione felt her blood run even hotter at the sight before her, milky white skin contrasting with the lacy black underwear. The young woman knelt over her lover, one thigh between Minerva's.
She leaned forward and began to trail her lips across Minerva's stomach, could smell her lovers' arousal, feel the trembling of her stomach muscles under her tongue and teeth. Hermione pulled Minerva's underpants down, tossing them aside, she moaned as she saw the damp triangle of hair at the apex of her thighs. Rolling onto her side Hermione slid up the bed, she passionately drew Minerva into a kiss while her fingers began to explore the slippery folds between her legs.
The older woman cried out into Hermione's mouth, as she felt two fingers penetrate her. Hermione's lips abandoned hers and found her shoulder again, nipping in time with her thrusts and within minutes had Minerva foaming at the mouth. "Mione." With a wolfish smile Hermione began to grind her palm against the older womans vulva with every thrust, her free hand began to toy with Minerva's breast, squeezing her nipple hard. "Oh gods Hermione." Suddenly Minerva's back arched and she screamed as she orgasmed.
Once Minerva got her breath back she rolled Hermione over, "Your turn now."
The next afternoon
Hermione was stood with other Hogwarts alumni watching the ceremony prior to the demolition of Hogwarts. Minerva was sat on a folding chair in a row behind the Minister with the other honoured guests. They were both tired and pale, both had clenched fists. Having made love until dawn they had caught a few hours sleep, they had not had time to talk about the events of the previous night.
After innumerable speeches the VIPs joined everyone else facing the castle. Minerva wove her way through the throng to Hermione's side. Without even looking at each other they took the others hand and held on tightly. They watched as Ministry officials took positions around the castle and raised their wands. Hogwarts ceased to exist in that moment.
Hermione and Minerva stood staring at a discoloured patch of ground, long after everyone else had left. "Yesterday..." Minerva cleared her throat, "The thought of this moment, was destroying me. I would not have been able to deal with this. Thank you!"
Minerva raised an eyebrow sardonically. "You've given me the strength to get through this."
Hermione nodded, "Last night I felt something. Maybe everything isn't as hopeless as I thought."
Minerva turned towards her, taking Hermione's arm and turning her to face her. "Mione... this can't..."
Hermione broke in, "...ever be anything, I know."
They looked at each other intensely for a moment before leaning in, the kiss was a gentle brush of lips. Soft, perfunctory – it was a goodbye kiss.
Two Months Later
Hermione turned over a page in the Daily Prophet and noticed a small announcement at the bottom of the next page. The British University of Magic was announcing that its first school year would start on September 1st, under the administration of Headmistress Minerva McGonagall.
She smiled, tossing the paper on the table. Closing the door of her flat she set off for her new job. There was a definite lightness in her step, something that had been there since she had resigned from her old job two days after returning from Hogwarts. Things were not perfect but she no longer felt numb.