Author's Notes: Written for 2009 Hermione Big Bang Challenge. The plot moves fast and there are several time jumps where backstory is filled via flash backs or character thoughts.
Canon: Through DH not Epilogue compliant. Harry's vision is just a dream.
Summary: A few of the JL heroes are introduced to a Guardian Angel looking after one of their own and they find more about one of their more tight lipped members.
Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter and co, J.K. Rowling does. I do not own Batman and co or Justice League, Bob Kane, DC Comics and Warner Bros do.
AN: I'm starting in the middle, during a fight with the latest League villain/enemy. The back story will come in the next chapter.
AN: I've used one of the Green Lanterns weakness from the comics, yellow… in this particular story a metal called iridium. In real life iridium is silvery-white.
AN: Batman might be OOC.
...ooO A Trap Sprung Ooo...
Wonder Woman struggled against the stretchy goo binding her movements, but she could not generate enough momentum to break free. Frantically she looked around at her allies—all of them were in similarly untenable situations. The mission had been a plot designed to lure the Justice League into a labyrinth; one that separated them – the core of the league – from their companions.
Superman was taken out by kryptonite-infused chains. Green Lantern by yellow-tinged iridium metal. Hawkgirl by a goo that coated her wings and refused to come off. Flash was running in a loop, unable to stop or redirect himself. Batman was in the worst condition; their unknown enemy had used some sort of energy attack that penetrated the titanium weave material of his suit and tore open wounds. Subsequent blasts aggravated the open wounds and had him writhing in agony, muscles spasming and unable to function. If they had even suspected the target used magic they would have waited for Zatanna or Fate.
The maniac giggled and leered.
"What would everyone think to see their oh-so-precious superheroes in the dirt just like any other mere mortal? For so long all of you sneered at the Art of Magick, all of you laughed when I tried to tell you the true power of magic! Now look! I've done what all the armies, super villains, and metas have failed to do: Captured six of the seven Justice League founders. I believe discerning gentlemen and governments would be most interested in participating in auctions for my services. I do wonder if the winner of my first contract would be from the private sector... Certain businessmen are Not impressed with your nosy interference in their personal affairs."
He stalked over towards Batman and sneered. "You will fetch a hefty bounty. The bidding war in Gotham would be quite lively."
Batman forced his eyes to open despite the agonizing sensitivity of his hyper-sensitized nerves. Distantly he wondered if this was what She had felt during her captivity.
"What do you have to say for yourself Batman? Any last words?"
"You talk too much warlock." A cool, throaty voice broke the adrenaline charged artificial calm with clipped British accented words.
Everyone turned to stare at the intruder emerging from an unnatural fog. A young woman no more than twenty, probably younger from the school uniform she wore. A knee-length red and grey plaid skirt matched with a white blouse and grey sleeveless monogrammed jumper. The jarring notes were the knee-high black boots she wore instead of regulation socks and shoes. Her hair flowed in wild honey brown and chocolate streaked curls almost to her waist, unrestrained by pins or ties. Her face was a smooth oval with a straight, narrow nose, full lush mouth, and faintly clefted chin. Her eyes were bronze, gold-flecked hazel set under high slightly winged brows. The oddest thing about her appearance was that it was translucent, seen through like a hologram. Or a ghost.
The warlock sneered. "You are a ghost. You cannot do anything. Be gone from my ground."
The woman-girl smiled faintly. "You are mistaken warlock. Ghosts are spirits bound to a place due to unfinished business. They pass into the Light upon settling their affairs." The faint smile sharpened and darkened. "I am something else altogether. Now I repeat my words warlock. You are mistaken. Mistaken to believe you can banish me from your territory. Mistaken to believe I cannot cross the Barriers between Realms to protect my Charge."
The warlock panicked. He had not planned for This. "You can't do that! Your Charge cannot be one of Them!" He waved at the League heroes behind him. "None of them are practitioners of the Art."
The woman-girl laughed. "Anyone worthy can have a Guardian; but few have one strong enough to manifest in their presence. It is almost unheard of for a Guardian to Cross the Barriers and be seen by Others." Then she smiled broadly. "How unfortunate for you, Edwyn Haelfer, that I am one of those Guardians."
Then she lunged forward.
Edwyn Haelfer shrieked and screamed. "Stop her! Stop her before she materializes fully!"
The muscled thugs stared, confused. "But Boss, she's just a ghost!"
"She is a Guardian!"
With each movement, she became more and more solid. The wind whipped through her skirts and hair. Small static charges ran through her hair and over her skin materializing in small lightning bolts discharging from her fingertips. She shook her right hand and a slim shaft of wood fell from a forearm holster into her waiting fingers. With her other hand, she reached behind herself, touching the small of her back under the jumper. When her left hand withdrew, she held a foot long blade pulled from the spinal sheath it rested. Before their eyes, the blade lengthened and thinned until it resembled a foil, a fencer's blade.
She switched wand and blade hands smoothly, seamlessly, and saluted, blade before her, wand arm curved above her head.
The thugs glanced at each other and charged. One of them should be able to take her out if they attacked at the same time.
"Incendio." The blade burst into flames.
Before the thugs could retreat from the new threat, she darted forward. She danced between her opponents, her burning metal blade cutting through air and flesh with equal ease.
The League heroes watched with fascination and horror as the Guardian worked through the thugs with practical ruthlessness. She cut tendons and lopped off limbs of the more aggressive. The flaming blade cauterized the wounds reducing the chance of blood-loss or infection but very permanently ending the chance of full recovery. No surgeon could grow tendon burned and charred to a shorter length.
When it became clear she was not interested in knock-outs, the minions fled leaving the warlock to face her.
It quickly became evident he was an amateur magic user next to Her. She had him bound in a cocoon of conjured rope and suspended in mid air in an instant.
The Guardian forced the warlock's eyes to meet hers. "I need information and you are going to give it to me." Her eyes narrowed and her left wrist made a deft motion swishing the wooden wand into a specific pattern. "Legilimens." Her eyes went very wide and her mouth curled into an expression of distaste.
"Demons? You bargained with demons for magic? How utterly pathetic." Her full lips curled into a sly grin. "How unfortunate none of them bothered to inform you about a particular weakness of such gifts. It can be wrested away by a stronger and more skilled practitioner." Her eyes glinted gold and her full lips curved into a pleased smile. "They called me the best of my generation for a very good reason."
The flames on the fencer's blade went out and the blade itself shrank until it resembled an oversized knife. She used it to carve specific runes on the warlock's cheeks and forehead despite his attempts to squirm away. When she was done, she thrust the blade through her skirt waistband. As the blood ran down his face, she spoke in a low guttural tongue. The air grew hot as a faint purple haze formed around the symbols. The haze became increasingly iridescent until it detached and fell into Her waiting hand as three ping pong-sized, glowing balls. Absently she closed her fingers around the small globes, crushing them in her grip until they burst, crackling purple lightening dancing over her fist and lower arm before dissipating and fading.
She raised the hand holding the wand up and spoke one word clearly. "Obliviate."
He sagged like a broken doll. She turned on one heel and walked. She walked between the crying, groaning, unconscious thugs. She walked past superheroes without pausing to help them break free. Her entire focus was on just one— her Charge. Quick strides took her to Batman.
Everyone could see her barely suppressed rage and fear as she cast some unknown spell upon the Dark Knight. It generated a light show that looked like charts and statistics, images of a body highlighting certain areas in different colours.
"It looks like some kind of diagnostic magic." Wonder Woman theorized aloud; among the present Leaguers, she had the most amount of exposure to magic.
The Guardian was more intent on other things.
"Don't move or try to speak. I know the muscular spasms are bad but your ribs are just shards now. It cannot be immobilized to heal the long way. I'm going to pinch the nerves leading to the extremities." She spoke softly and a faint green light flew from the tip of her wand and sank into Batman. Almost immediately, the spasming limbs went limp. She rose to her feet and conjured a long staff capped with a thumb-thick stub of white chalk.
Swiftly she drew a circle on the concrete floor around Batman. As she knelt to etch the details into the circle she spoke aloud, so intent on her task she forgot about her audience.
"This should really be done over a node... after a proper consecration... with at least three to share the burden. I am starting to get very angry with you about your unwillingness to put yourself first. You are not accepting the reality that You are Important. If you die it is going to mess up a lot of plans."
She pulled her jumper off and tossed it to the ground before stepping into the circle. Then she touched his chest. A gold halo of energy flared around them. Her face contorted in agony as she fell down. She had enough control to direct her body to fall away from Batman, smudging the chalked circle. Red bloomed on her white shirt and began to flow down one thigh.
Carefully she lifted her wand and cast a spell upon herself. She had to repeat the process several times on each injury site. Legs, abdomen, ribs. When she finished, she was breathing hard and sweat soaked.
With no modesty, she stripped off her bloodstained white shirt before using it to mop the blood stains on her waist, back, and legs. Stains from wounds she had never suffered, wounds she had willingly taken on. Her narrow waist emphasized her full curves restrained by a blood stained peach silk bra. With little concern for her near nakedness, she dropped the garments and moved to straddle Batman's waist, leaning over him.
Then she slapped his cheek lightly.
The Dark Knight groaned and blinked rapidly to clear his blurry vision. Then his vision cleared to take in a very unexpected sight.
"Yes, Hermione you big idiot!"
Then to everyone's shock, she reached over, grabbed one of the pointy ears of his cowl and dragged him up into a sitting position, still straddling his hips on her knees.
"You idiot!" She repeated with emphasis, yelling in his ear. "What in Merlin's name were you thinking?! You are supposed to be the planner! You do not jump in without evaluating the situation first!"
Several jaws dropped when he actually answered her and did not retaliate or disengage himself from her grip. "There was no indication Haelfer was a magic user. We knew he collected the tools but he had no talent in magic. Several mages on both sides of the line rejected his request to apprentice with them."
Hermione was not placated. "His profile clearly indicated he is obsessed! You and I know what obsessed people will do to secure their desires."
Batman nodded mutely. Then her expression softened and she touched his cheek, a light caress, thumb resting against the corner of his mouth.
"Don't do that again. I've broken too many rules."
His eyes widened when he realized something else. He reached out to grab her wrist, moving the hand touching his face. "You're… You're here!"
She nodded mutely. "You were dying. You cannot die." Then her eyes widened. She turned to look at something over her shoulder. "They're coming!" She tried to pull her wrist free— but he refused to let go.
Hermione made a face. "My mentors. My supervisors." She jerked her chin towards the gawping League members. "Too many witnesses." She glanced at the unconscious, wounded, and broken forms: including one catatonic would-be Mage. "Too much force."
Batman smirked. "I thought there was no such thing as overkill."
"That only applies to mortals. When we overdo it Crusades are started." She chewed on her full lower lip. "I don't know if I'll be permitted to keep helping you. I definitely won't be allowed to visit whenever I want to."
"Hermione!" A loud booming voice thundered from nowhere and everywhere. "What have you done!"
Batman's eyes widened. "It's my--."
Hermione's eyes narrowed and her lips thinned. She reached out and cupped his cheek and jaw, silencing him and forcing him to meet her eyes. "Don't you dare! It is not your fault!" She spoke firmly. Then she squared her shoulders and lifted her chin. "I Chose to help you. I Chose to Act. I Chose This!" Before their very eyes, she started fading. Her expression was earnest. "I might not be permitted to contact you Bruce but I will always watch over you. Your own Guardian Angel. Please… Live for me." Then she faded into a waterfall of glitter that vanished.
The only evidence of her presence were the unconscious minions, drooling wanna-be Evil Mage, the chalk circle, the staff she conjured, and the bloodstained shirt and jumper dropped carelessly on the ground.
Batman stared at his gloved hand; the hand that had encircled a delicate wrist, Her wrist.
It took several seconds to regain enough of his composure to move and help the others. His dour forbidding expression was enough to still the curious tongues. His growled words stilled the more persistent ones, those concerned about a potential threat.
"Later. After we finish mopping up."
Several hours later, the team convened in one of the many conference rooms on the WatchTower with a few other mystical experts. Wounds had been treated and energy levels replenished. Strangely enough, Batman had been one of the first allowed to leave the med-bay.
"It is like someone regenerated and healed his wounds... most curious because there is no sign of cellular damage. You say it was a spell?"
"Oh yeah. The ghost-guardian or whatever drew a circle with chalk and did Something. There was a golden glow and then She was bleeding and wounded." Wally answered.
"She shared his pain, took on his injuries. Then she used her magic to amplify her natural healing." Zatanna surmised. "A very tricky, delicate bit of magic. Focusing past the pain to cast healing spells is difficult. You say she was a ghost at first?"
"Yes." Diana answered. "She appeared out of mist. At first, she was translucent. Then... she became solid and attacked using a shaft of wood the length of her forearm to cast spells in Latin and a metal blade covered in flames. At the end she faded into sparkles of light like fireworks."
Zatanna nodded slowly. "Agents of the Higher Powers appear and vanish in showers of energy. The report said her name was Hermione, a Guardian?"
Everyone stiffened upon hearing the voice who answered Zatanna. Batman.
He moved gracefully to his usual chair and sat down.
"What do you want to know?"
Superman leaned forward. "Everything. What she is, how you met her, her angle and faction, potential threat/ally assessment." His expression was very serious. "You have hidden something that could turn out to be a serious threat to all of us Batman. Tell us why we should not label her as one."
Batman nodded slowly. "I have already posted a detailed report in the Watchtower's computer. I can summarize it right now.
"The first time I met Hermione Granger I must have been six-years-old. I had a fight with my parents, ran away, and got lost. She kept me from panicking and running, long enough for my parents to find me. Of course, they didn't believe she was real but they indulged me by calling her my guardian angel. I saw her a few times after that; she acted as a concerned bystander each time.
"The first time I really talked to her and asked why she kept showing up was when my parents died. Afterwards she was a regular presence in my life. She never grew older but what she was changed as I grew. At first, she was an adult caretaker, a neutral third party like a sitter. Later she became a friend, a confidant and advisor, a sounding board who would never lie or misdirect me. When I got an idea of what I wanted to do with my life, she listened and supported me. When I made my choice, she helped me plan my training and studies when others tried to dissuade me. She kept me sane and stable through my teens cutting down grandiose plans with blunt criticism. Whenever I was at my lowest points, she would be there to counter my doubts. When I reached the end of my rope, she would provide a different perspective. She would never give me information outright but she would point me in the correct direction. She wasn't always around but when I… needed, she was my rock." He looked faintly lost.
"Do you know anything personal about her?" Zatanna asked softly.
Batman nodded. "Just what she told me about her past. She is a witch. To be more accurate she Was a wand-using witch when she was alive. I did some checking and if she is truthful, as I believe she is, Hermione is from an alternate reality. In this world, Hermione Granger and her parents died in a car crash when she was just four-months-old. In her world, she received an invitation to attend a boarding school in Scotland that trained students in wand magic. That school does not exist here according to Jason Blood. It was shut down just thirty years after the founding. Instead of evolving into a society of wand users hidden from most of the world the old magical families broke alliances, choosing to pass their legacies privately, blending with their non-magical neighbours."
Zatanna was faintly impressed. "They must have accomplished a great deal in magical evolution and development!"
Batman snorted. "I would strongly disagree Zatanna. That world was far from perfect due to bigotry, stagnation, and fear. Every generation the traditionalists would rally around a 'Dark Lord' destroying and killing the perceived interlopers, the first-generation magic users like Hermione who did not have the family background, a magical lineage."
Zatanna shook her head. "How silly. There is some power in blood but there are other factors that determine the strength and skill of a Practitioner."
Batman nodded in agreement. "When she was a student her teachers called her the Best Witch of her generation. Power, skill, knowledge, application. They feared and hated what she represented, evidence that their core beliefs were false. But in addition to that she made friends, one of whom was the target of their current Dark Lords ire. When she was just fifteen one of her schoolmates was killed, the first in the war that followed." He looked around the table. "She made her choice and openly allied herself to a faction against the Dark Lord." Everyone hissed. "You can imagine what happened after.
"Her parents and friends were targeted but she did not run because if He won there would be no safe place for anyone to hide. The conflict that followed was ugly, prolonged, and messy because the authorities were corrupt or inept. There were few willing to take a stand, fewer who were capable of leadership and trained to fight. There was no Justice League, no metas, no one but a group of teenagers, civilians and few veterans who fought and survived previous conflicts.
"The full details are in the file but, to summarize, they won and life sort-of normalized. The students returned to school to complete their education. However, Hermione died before she ever graduated. She was poisoned by a relative of one of the Dark Lords followers who bribed his way out of a prison term."
There was a moment of respectful silence as Batman remembered and straightened out his thoughts to continue.
"After she died she was invited to join a special group of souls that would not reincarnate but act as guides and caretakers for the living. She spent a few decades studying before she was told to look out for me. And the rest is history."
"Wrong! That is Not the end of it!" A sharp sarcastic voice corrected in clipped English accents.
Everyone wheeled, rising from seats, ready to attack the intruder. A tall, black-eyed, sallow-looking man with limp black hair and a prominent nose dressed in black robes over an old-fashioned black frock coat and woollen pants stood before them.
His arms were crossed across his chest, fingers tapping impatiently at his elbows as he strode around the table towards Batman, robes billowing behind him. He stopped a few feet away from the Dark Knight and sneered.
"You are mucking things up for her and you don't even realise it." The stranger's black eyes focused with razor-sharp intensity on Batman. "She has repeatedly refused reincarnation to stay with You." His hair moved like a smooth curtain as he tilted his head to one side in sardonic study. "What she sees in you I cannot quite understand. But then again she Was friends with Potter."
Batman stared at the glowering figure. "Potions Master Severus Snape, I presume?"
Snape sneered. "Correct. Merlin knows what the girl has said about me."
"She was quite complimentary." Batman spoke in neutral tones. "Not the best teacher for beginners but definitely one to demand more than the best from his students. Perfect for those who wanted to attain mastery."
Snape raised a mobile brow. "How… flattering. But it does not change what has happened. Hermione has become too attached to you. She has refused politely worded requests, cajoling and orders; and now all of Creation is in danger of annihilation."
Batman's expression turned stony. "I don't see how our friendship could affect the existence of the multiverse."
Snape pinched the bridge of his nose and muttered something uncomplimentary under his breath before answering.
"Hermione has a very important role to fulfill. In order to do that she needs to be alive. Since she died before fulfilling it, the Fates have been pushing her to reincarnate but she is digging in her heels like a typical Gryffindor, refusing to comply. Now all of Existence is on the brink of Destruction!"
Batman's eyes widened at the roared last phrase. "What? But why?"
Snape suddenly looked very tired. "She does not want to forget. Or to leave you. Both of which will happen if she is reborn."
Batman spoke hesitantly. "I can try talking to her. If you will let me."
Snape shook his head. "I do not see any point in that. Once she decides on something, she never bends. She was like that even as a teenager." He made a sour face. "A pity she died before she outgrew that tendency for mule-headedness."
Zatanna coughed slightly. "Perhaps she could store her memories in a crystal that would release them at specific intervals. That way she would still remember."
"Pensieved memories are not the same as actual experiences." Snape countered snarkily. "There is a difference between watching a film and living it."
Zatanna was affronted.
"But the Sorceress makes a good point." A high, childish treble voiced.
Everyone turned to see a trio of females standing at the end of the room dressed in white. A pre-pubescent red-head dressed in a simple knee-length chiton. A mature brunette in a more elaborate floor length chiton. A silver-haired crone in enveloping robes.
The more volatile League members were kept from attacking by Diana who bowed her head in respectful greeting while identifying them.
"We are honoured the Fates have chosen to reveal themselves to us."
However, the Fates were more interested their discussion than introductions.
"The truest way to experience the fullest depth of memories is through the body creating them." The brunette murmured in a mature, sultry voice.
"Then keep the body." The crone grumbled in a creaky cackling voice. "Let the child keep her own body."
The girl clapped her hands. "Yes lets! Let her keep her body."
Snape frowned. "How are you going to arrange for that? She died!"
The woman looked in a mirror she produced out of nowhere. "Events must unfold as they have but there is a period of time when it is possible to act. Once that window is closed, time will flow as it has. Hermione Granger will not exist in the universe she was born into. She cannot affect events and they will not affect her."
Snape's jaw dropped. "Did you lose a bet with Eris?"
The crone sniffed. "Do not push us Severus Snape. We decide which threads to weave in the tapestry. If the child has made a choice then we can accommodate it. As long as she fulfills her destiny it does not matter."
The woman turned dark eyes on the Dark Knight. "Only one question remains, what would her champion do for her? Is he willing to risk all?"
Batman squared his shoulders. "What do I need to do?"
The girl walked up and placed a scroll on the conference table. "Hermione is important. Her children will be important. They are key to restoring the balance. All our plans hinge on her having children. She has to be protected before and after birth. They must be raised to think and fight and lead."
The woman placed a small flat box beside the scroll. "If she had lived she would have married a mediocre male. The war and all the loss she experienced had damaged her emotionally. Afraid of being alone she would have accepted the first suitable offer believing that no one would ever feel strongly about her. Her children would have been taught and protected by those she chose as family, brothers and uncles of choice."
"But she died. It allowed for new possibilities." The crone laughed harshly as she observed her reflection in a small blade before placing it on top of the box. "She had more time to grow and come into her own; time and teachers she would never have had if she lived. She became strong. And her children will be correspondingly stronger."
The girl spoke in solemn tones. "There is a chance. After she is poisoned and falls into a coma the connection between her body and soul is broken. If you can administer the treatment within forty-eight hours, her soul can be called back to her body. Her experienced, older soul; the one you call friend."
"What's the catch?" Batman asked warily.
"You must locate the cure in her world."
"Protect her when she is vulnerable."
"Help her raise her children."
"The scroll has the clues you will need to locate and prepare for the cure. You will have a year and a day to Quest for it. Look for allies in the mirror."
"Open the box when you know exactly what you want."
"Use the knife to seal the contract."
"If you choose to stand aside the Powers have ordered her rebirth."
"She Will Forget. You Will Remember. And never shall you two meet in this lifetime."
"It would be a pity to have a strong tempered soul tossed back into the fire and risk it being re-forged into a flawed blade."
Then they spoke in unison. "It is your choice, Dark Knight. You have until the moon turns dark to decide." And all three Fate vanished.
Severus Snape shook his head and muttered curses under his breath. Then he raised his chin and looked at Batman squarely. "Make your choice but be certain it is one you can live with. There are no second chances."
Then he too vanished.
"New moon." Diana translated.
"Eight days." Zatanna noted.
Superman looked faintly uneasy. "I'm not sure what to say about the situation. Magic is not really logical or predictable. And this is not really a threat to our universe. And the Fates clearly have a back-up plan in place."
Everyone looked uneasily at Batman whose mind was clearly on other matters.
"Batman?" Diana spoke hesitantly. "What are you going to do?"
The Dark Knight turned and looked the Amazon Princess in the eye.
"I'm going to save Hermione."
Then he reached out to take the scroll left by the Fates. Without hesitation, he broke the seal and unrolled the parchment to read the contents.
AN: I know Batman is usually close-mouthed and abrupt but after the bombshell in the last chapter there might be fears he is compromised since most have heard him say 'I hate magic' in the past. So in this chapter he is more talkative to explain why he feels different in this particular case, with Hermione.