Summary: EWE?. Hermione goes to recover her parents from Austalia, but only manages to bring her father home. The experience leaves them weary, and the two Grangers deal with the experience by moving to Bulgaria—trying to reconcile fantasy with their reality. ViktorxHermione.
Because retrieving her parents is never really dealt with, and provides a perfect opportunity to twist the story line.

Disclaimer: I own nothing I can get a profit from.

….

Dance me; dance me around, 'til my feet don't ever touch down. There's nothing better than being your girl, and if I am our princess then, Daddy, you are the king of the world—Point of Grace

….

Hermione swallowed quietly and zipped up her father's case, carefully checking the bed it was on for any forgotten clothes or books. She wanted to say something but was unable to. That's how it had been between them for most of the day. It was a silence that had been building and preparing to pounce ever since the incident with mother. That was three days ago.

Now the silence had pounced, had its claws in their throats. It was either be silent or do something that would hurt the other.

Hermione knew breaking out into tears would break her father, and she knew that he was scared of scaring her with platitudes. This would make it all real.

Mother wasn't coming back to England with them.

Hermione's mother had always been beautiful. Not in that blonde bombshell kind of way but in that classical way you expect from the princesses in fairytales—as if she had simply stepped out of one of her childhood stories. Hermione had cried over having her father's hair and eyes, so different than her mother's sable hair and almost black eyes against her pale skin.

Her mother had been her Snow White come to life.

In her head she'd always romanticized it—the frog prince and the princess, both saved with a kiss for their happy ending.

She had so wished as a child to be the princess, but all she'd ever felt like was the frog.

She sighed and then stopped, leaning her hands on the suitcase until it felt like her whole body would crumble now that she'd stopped.

The sob caught in her throat and she gave up.

The rug was rough under her knees as she crumpled, her hands dragging across the top of the suitcase before they fell heavily with her arms—the quilt pulled and gathered under her white knuckles. She heard her father drop his shaving kit, making it to her in two long strides as she stared up at him with watery eyes.

Her breath caught around her sobs as she tried to stop, but now that the predatory silence had lifted its paw she couldn't entice it back.

Her father's eyes were just like her own; a tawny brown that didn't invite compliments or even comments. But right now she thought they were the only eyes in the world that understood hers. Her father even had her uncontrollably curly hair (rather, she had his hair; so similar since she'd finally given up brushing her hair into bushy frizz every morning in the vain hope that it would suddenly be as straight and dark as her mother's). And she had his skin too, a pale skin that didn't stay snowy white but flushed rosy at the slightest emotion, and the freckles that cropped up no matter how much sun block she used.

This man was the one who was so like her now.

The physical similarities reflected their same spiritual brokenness.

Hermione chocked on a sob—"I'm so sorry," she managed.

Her father shushed her and pulled her head to his shoulder, wrapping his arms around her and petting her hair. "It's not your fault," he said in a wobbling quiet voice.

She sniffed loudly.

She felt her father swallow, his neck moving against her brow. "She was unhappy for a long time, neither of us are to blame. I'm just sorry it ended like this—you deserve so much better." He kissed her brow, his fingers stilling in her curls, and Hermione let out the sobs that had been clawing their way up her throat. Her father sobbed with her, their forms sinking closer to the floor and into each other as they searched for that visceral connection to the other, to make sure they wouldn't be leaving too.

And through their sobbing Hermione could still hear her mother's voice, steely and quiet. 'I'd thought she wouldn't be coming back! It was a war, and she was the muggleborn everyone was harping about! I didn't think she'd give you your memories back! This was my second chance!'

….

Later, when they'd moved back to England and found so many things were too hard to live with, and they planned to move and start over, she thought she could sympathize with the woman who'd had marriage and a daughter thrown into her grand plans and schemes. But then the absolute feeling of abandonment would hit her and she'd crumble into incomprehensive tears again.

When she was still rational it all seemed so simple; her angry bitter mother had an affair, her father had found out. And then she'd sat down with her parents to explain what was going on and why. It had been the perfect opportunity for the woman.

Hermione had to alter their memories, but doing seventeen years of alterations left no room for details like affairs (ones she hadn't even known about at that). So the woman would have had her dreams restored: the perfect couple and practice and a nice home without a daughter to worry about and care for.

And then Hermione had gone to retrieve them, restoring their memories with the safe word they'd agreed on. It was all planned and observed to the smallest detail, except her mother hadn't wanted the plan to succeed.

And Hermione was ultimately the reason.

Just before those tears and questions she understood that. And she hated herself for one brief moment because she wasn't her mother, or the perfect daughter her mother might have wanted instead of despised.

No, Hermione was the genius: the bookworm with wild hair and boring eyes and no athletic ability or grace to speak of. She was the survivor that had come back and restored the memories of the affair and the tensions she hadn't even been aware of.

Hermione had loved her mother with every part of her being, had wanted to be beautiful and charming and graceful like her. She'd wanted to be smart and witty and popular. But she wasn't. And now, with her father moving about in that painfully slow way he'd taken to since his love wasn't with him, Hermione was glad she wasn't beautiful. She'd never break someone's heart, and she'd never be so petty and vicious as to reject her daughter and wish for her death just to get the dreams that matched her beauty.

…..

Her father had picked Bulgaria. Hermione found it ironic that he was seeking shelter in the very place that had birthed the man who'd been her mainstay when she was fifteen. Despite her suspicions that her father had picked this since they'd learned Bulgarian after her fourth year (out of a mutual curiosity instigated by her friendship with Viktor) her father had confessed that he had spread the map out on the wall and thrown a dart.

He said he'd had enough of plans.

….

It was quite easy to settle in to Bulgaria, all expected problems aside. The little community they'd moved into had welcomed them for the fact that they were both exotic and yet unassuming. Hermione couldn't guess how many of the older women had whispered about her father—the tragic figure that he was—with little sighs and wistful expressions.

It almost made Hermione giggle.

But then there were the young men who looked at her the same way. Those looks made her freeze up—those looks saw her as beautiful.

….

"How are you settling in?" her father inquired from the doorway where he leaned against the frame.

Hermione smiled at him, making sure to force her eyes to crinkle. Because she loved it in Bulgaria, despite the young men and the distance from everything she used to know.

This was her fresh start, and she'd gone about it in a way that didn't hurt everyone around her like her mother had.

"I like it here," she said quietly, fingering the seam of her quilt. It was colder, but she'd never liked sun burning only to remain pale and freckled, and that just gave her an excuse to cuddle up with a book. She loved the market, so much more friendly and fun than a more westernized one, and she traded recipes with the vendors often. She liked cooking for her father, with a good amount of supplies handy for the muggle way, more than she had when cooking for the boys while they were on the run. It was an entirely different experience and she'd come to associate the more enjoyable aspects with Bulgaria.

Her father walked in and sat down beside her, taking one of her hands in his and staring at it like he'd never seen it before. He smiled and kissed her knuckles gently (her father, as much as he was the frog, was certainly also the prince with every drop of blood in his veins). "I didn't see you sending out a lot of letters," he half-inquired.

Hermione sobered and smiled gently: she really had no one to send letters to. Her mother was doing her best to ignore them while starting over in Australia, and she still couldn't bring it in herself to tell her boys. But her Dad didn't know that. "I had a fight with Ron before I found you, and his last letter before we moved wasn't any better. Harry's busy trying to build a life and the Weasleys are mourning." She shrugged her shoulders and leaned into her father, just because she could.

He took in a breath and wrapped his close arm around her, pulling her into a sideways hug. "What was the fight about?" He jumped right to the heart of the matter, because he knew Harry and she were like siblings and would get in touch when it was needed, and he also knew that she'd never really enjoyed her stays with the Weasleys.

Certainly they'd been her contact with the wizarding world, but as she grew older she'd found other sources of comfort and knowledge to reassure her. Shacklebolt had taken a liking to her, and even Grandmother Longbottom. They respected her, and it was mutual. In the Burrow she'd been underfoot and ignorant. Never quite knowing where was what or who knew how. She'd hated that. There had been this hanging expectation that she should be like them, even though their acceptance was fickle.

She swallowed, "It was about Harry again."

He father didn't say anything, though she could practically feel his mind pounce on the 'again'.

"I don't know if I told you, but during the Hunt we had our disagreement and he left. I chased after him…but he just—" she shrugged and quickly left that thought. "Then he was back and he said it was okay because Harry only saw me as a sister. And I was so angry—I'd told him the same thing over and over again and he'd ignored me. But now that Harry said it everything was okay?!" She took a deep breath and sat up straighter.

Her Dad's arm moved from her shoulder to brush back a few gravity-defying curls that had blocked her vision in her ire.

She sighed, "He didn't trust me Dad. I don't want any relationship where there's no trust. And then after mum he tried to apologize, but everything he said seemed so…hollow."

Her father shushed her as she choked on the last word, his arms folding around her until she was pulled into his lap. He still felt larger than life to her; as if he was still part of that grand fairytale she needed to find her place in. But then he kissed her brow and his rough fingers trailed down her nose and he was part of her story again.

"Okay Honey." That was his name for her; because he thought her eyes were beautiful and warm like honey. He saw in her the kind of beauty that came from the soul and shone out, and she loved him for it. She laughed and sniffled.

"We'll take this slowly; as slow as it needs to go. I love you and you deserve more than a man, or wizard, who would never trust you. If I could I'd hunt down your perfect soul mate. But I can't. So we'll just breathe in this fresh start okay?"

"That sounds perfect, Daddy."

Her father and she set out to do just that: he tentatively started inquiring about dentistry, and she delicately searched for any source of magic. It took some time but they both found what they were looking for and then they immersed themselves in what they did best.

Her father was making a profit within three months (and Hermione smiled at his clamoring amount of lady patients) and Hermione had slowly started stocking her library of Bulgarian books on magic. They had a different outlook than British wizards, and she was fascinated with it and the subculture that it exposed. Here it was all about ability—Hermione hoped that meant she'd be more welcome. But this also meant that wizards and witches on the continent relied on their reputation among the masses to ease life for them—she didn't know if anyone knew all that she had done for the defeat of Voldemort. And she didn't want to tell anyone.

But she'd been publicly thanked for services rendered, and that had gotten the tongues wagging. It was nothing bad of course, but Hermione had gotten tired of people trying to 'subtly' tease out just what those services were.

Still, they were in Bulgaria, and Hermione had successfully avoided any media associated with their branch of the wizarding world. She wasn't even sure Mrs. Markovski knew her last name. Hermione didn't mind being anonymous.

Her father didn't go on any dates, and she didn't flirt with those boys who thought she was beautiful. They just settled into who they were and established a home.

It wasn't perfect or suburban like her mother had wanted, and Hermione loved it all the more for this little rebellion.

Her father had started smiling again.

….

Hermione was picking some herbs from the garden to cook supper with—she and her father had developed a taste for fresh spices and the like. They were even talking about installing a greenhouse so that they wouldn't have to go without during the long winter months. She grinned as her father came out the back door, taking off his windbreaker because the backyard was delightfully ensconced with trees—their little sanctuary.

He waved the mail at her, and she dusted off her hands before approaching. She sat on the porch swing beside him ad set down her basket of herbs, thankful that the wind was blocked from blowing them about (because she had them all organized, of course).

He father cleared his throat with a grin, "To the Gentle Woman who lives at the house with the whimsical garden." Hermione's eyebrows shot up—the address clearly indicated a magical sender. But she hadn't really any contact with wizarding society beyond the little hamlet she'd discovered. "Ms. Markovski sends her regards and delights in delivering the guest invitation she received for an upcoming ball."

"Oh!" Hermione exclaimed, raising a hand to her mouth as she blushed. Her father grinned at her and handed over the inserted invitation.

"Apparently you're very popular with the bookstore owner."

Hermione laughed and nudged his shoulder, "She's very sweet. And she likes practicing her English with me."

Her father grinned and handed over the rest of the letter.

She quickly read through it, a grin growing on her face. She turned that impish grin on her playfully wary father—"How'd you like to be my escort?"

He shuffled and cleared his throat.

Hermione's heart fell, and she looked away. Her father had never been one for dancing anyway.

He sighed and pulled her face to his, a self-effacing smile on it. "This is a wizarding thing honey, not something your muggle dentist dad should go to."

She cleared her throat hopefully, "Here….umm, in Bulgaria they consider the magic to be passed down through the fathers. Even if you don't practice they'd believe you were my source." Hermione rather thought this true—her father had this knack for the right thing at the right time. She'd always, since being a little girl, thought it had been a special brand of father-magic.

They were silent for a few moments.

"So it's kind of like mutations?"

Hermione laughed as her father grinned. "Yes, kind of like mutations. And you'd have lots of fun! Bulgarian wizards aren't so ignorant of the muggle world, and I'm sure if you ever left my side you'd find some interesting conversationalists."

"Hey now, I'm going as your escort, not the other way around. I'm not scared of a little discrimination—I was worried about making you feel awkward."

"Oh Daddy," she sighed out happily.

He laughed at her and they contently sat on the swing overlooking their whimsical garden.

"I was thinking rosemary in the bread for supper," she mused softly.

Her father snorted, "I was wondering what we'd have to wear for this ball. Are you sure you're a daughter?"

Hermione laughed at him.

…….

"Ms. Markovski talked to her son and got us another invitation—just so that you don't worry so much."

Her father looked up from his papers, pen held in his mouth as he attempted to balance the monthly budget.

"I thought I was going to help with that?" Hermione said absently as she shook the snow out of her scarf.

He waved the question aside and raised one eyebrow (a skill she was rather proud she'd inherited). She grinned at him and slid over the letter.

Her father's eyebrows shot up and the pen fell from his mouth. Hermione giggled and settled in beside him, pulling the accounting books in front of her.

"To the wonderful man who raised the gentle woman and lives at the house with the whimsical garden;" her father's voice caught, and Hermione carefully slid her eyes his way to watch him read the letter from Ms. Markovski.

She wasn't sure he was aware of how much she told the old woman, but she'd fallen in love with the genteel lady who loved books as much as she did. They often exchanged stories and talked about writing their own books if they ever found the time.

Ms. Markovski had learned English because her son was prominent in the political sphere, English had grown to be the 'it' language in Bulgaria. Or, as Ms. Markosvski had slyly put it, it had become the 'secret' language used in business meetings to confuse spies and busybodies like her.

Hermione had laughed and agreed to help her polish up her accent.

In turn Hermione had talked about her enthusiasm for taking her father to the ball, her hope that he would slowly feel like a part of her world now that nothing could hold him back.

She wished for that with every part of her being.

Mrs. Markovski had smiled knowingly at her, and after waiting a minute had produced a second letter—this one addressed to her father.

Hermione had been so stunned, so excited, to realize that the woman had expected this and found a way to encourage her father. She so wanted him to be involved like he hadn't been able to while they were in England—not only was she the mudblood and her muggle parents unable to access her world, but her mother hadn't actively encouraged anything that would cast suspicions on them in the muggle world.

And here, in a new home, he'd be her magic giver; welcome in a world that she'd been so lonely in before.

Hermione smiled at her father as he fisted his hand in front of his mouth, reading the lengthy letter the old woman had written him.

She only had her suspicions as to its contents, but she hoped it was enough to convince her father. She guiltily thought it a little selfish—to want her father there to escort her and keep all those shallow boys away—but also thought it would be wonderful to immerse him in the magic she'd found rather than keep him on the outskirts.

Her father cleared his throat a few times, blinking his eyes and running a hand through his wayward hair. Hermione gave him a tentative smile, her eyes hopeful.

He licked his lips and cleared his throat again. "We'll have to get our costumes; it's to be a medieval mask."

Hermione grinned and hugged her father mightily, laughing as he gave into the emotion to pick her up and spin her around like she was still a child.

She was actually looking forward to the ball.