D/C: The characters are not mine, but the story plot is. Take that, JK : ) (jk)
AN1: This story is placed in seventh year, and ignores books six and seven, mostly. The first two chapters start a little slow, but Severus makes his wonderful self present in the third, and it picks up from there, I think.
AN2: I absolutely love reviews! If you like the story, you'll make my day with a review : )
Chapter 1: I am who? And you are what?
Hermione watched her parents eat dinner with sad eyes. This would be the last time she would see them for a long time. It would be at least until this war was over and she could restore them. They didn't know what she was about to do, but she was sure they would eventually understand.
Jane Granger looked up from her plate and noticed the pained expression on her daughter's face. "Hermione, what's wrong? You look as if someone just died," she asked, the tone of her voice showing her worry.
Hermione wished she could just confess and convince her parents to agree to her plan, but she knew they would insist they be there to support their daughter through the troubling times her world was facing.
"Jane, really now, stop pestering the girl. You've asked that same question every day since she got home last week."
"I can't help it, dear, she's looked so depressed. Did something bad happen at school? Di you get a bad grade or something?"
Knowing that it was just like her to get depressed over a bad grade, Hermione decided to play on that and nodded before saying, "Well, I only got an exceeds expections in one of my classes this year."
"Isn't that a good mark?" Jane Granger didn't know all the school's grade levels by heart, but she knew that had to be a good one.
"It's basically an A-" Hermione told her.
"Well, sweetheart, that great. You shouldn't be upset with that." Jane looked consolingly at Hermione, she herself was an overachiever in her own field and would have been horrified at anything less than a perfect score.
"But top marks are called outstandings, and I really ought to have studied harder to get it."
"Oh, don't be so upset, dear. Your mother and I are proud of you no matter what. We could never imagine being upset with you, even if you received trolls."
"I'm sorry, trolls?" Jane looked at her husband like he'd gone mad.
"Trolls. It's the worst score a student could possibly get in that school."
"Oh, I see. Look at that, Hermione. Your father has been paying attention," she said playfully.
"Thanks, dad." Hermione smiled warmly at her parents, then excused herself from the table. She left to take her evening walk, hoping that she would be able to work up the nerve to do what she had to do. It seemed to just get harder and harder as the time drew nearer. And she had to do it tonight, so her parents could sell the house and move as quickly as possible. Then she would call Molly to see if she could stay at the burrow.
The sun was just starting to set as Hermione rounded the corner at the end of the block and walked smack into Dumbledore.
"Oh, I'm sorry, headmaster—Headmaster! I'm sorry, I didn't see you. What are you doing here?" Hermione's shock incited a small smile from her headmaster, and she returned the gesture nervously.
"I came to see you. I thought perhaps you could use some support. What you are about to do will not be easy."
"What do you mean? What am I about to do?" Hermione hadn't even told Ron or Harry about her plan, so how could he know?
"I mean obliviating your parents," he said simply.
"Oh…that. Um, how did you know about that?"
"Well for one, I know everything," Dumbldore flashed an amused grin at Hermione, his eye twinkling as he did so, "For another, Professor Snape noticed you take a spellbook from the restricted section and he made a point to examine it. He also heard you practicing the incantation on a few late night trips to the room of requirement."
"Tattletale." Hermione muttered.
"He was merely looking out for your well-being. That's a powerful spell, and he assumed you weren't just learning it to know it."
"I see. So, you came here tonight to help me?" Hermione mentally prepared herself to defend her actions, but Dumbledore stopped her.
"Yes, I am. But I must discuss something with you first. Shall we continue with your walk? This may take a while."
Hermione fell into step beside her headmaster, letting him guide their direction.
"Hermione, this is a very complicated matter and is very difficult to discuss with you. I have to say, I never honestly believed I would ever tell you this."
"What is it?" Hermione catalogued everything she thought he could possibly want to discuss. Ramifications, plan to restore, a plan B…
"Hermione, your parents are… not… really… your parents." After a few seconds with no response from Hermione, he continued, "When you were just over three months old, they adopted you, in a manner."
Hermione froze. This was not an option she would have considered.
"Oh. Is that all?" she asked, her voice tinted with sarcasm and confusion. Dumbledore almost wanted to laugh at her dumbfounded look, but the seriousness of the situation made him refrain.
"Your birth parents gave you to your adoptive parents to protect you from Voldemort. At the time you were born, your birth parents were key players in trying to bring him down. In order to ensure your safety, they found Tom and Jane Granger. They were ideal candidates not only because of the kind of people they were, but because they just arrived back from a two year peace-core mission in Africa, so they're friends hadn't seen them and it would be easy for them to introduce you as their daughter. Your adoptive parents were obliviated and given memories of your birth. They, and everyone they know, believed you were their child."
"So, my parents, my birth parents, you said they were key players in the fight against Voldemort. Are they still? Are they even still alive?"
"Yes, and yes. But first, Hermione, how are you feeling with all of this? You look very pale. Do you need to sit down?"
"How do I feel? How do you think I feel? All my life, I've been living a lie! My parents didn't even want me, I was forced on them by my birth parents who obviously didn't want me, I've believed I was a witch by sheer luck, and it turns out that I—," Hermione stopped short to take a few deep breaths and calm herself.
"I know this is a lot to take in, Hermione, but you must understand that it was necessary. Your parents did not give you up easily. Your mother first considered and preferred to take you and go into hiding. But after much consideration over many agonizing nights, it was decided that the best option for you was to go live with a family that could provide you with a normal life. Well, as normal as a witch's life could go. But your parents always kept a close eye on you, never once did they miss your birthday. Hermione, your parents did what they did, not because they didn't care, but because they love you so much."
"Then why haven't they ever told me? Surely, after finding out I was a witch I would have been able to handle that."
"Because with the knowledge that Voldemort would return, and you becoming fast friends with Harry, you were in enough danger as it was, they didn't want to add to it."
"Then why tell me now? Why not just leave me to my illusion that I was who I was?" Hermione answered angrily, her breathing technique not working anymore.
"Because of your decision to obliviate them. Not only would you be alone, in a manner, a situation they didn't want you in, you would be interfering with their prior obliviation and I need to help you so that you don't cause any irreparable damage."
"So, my parents didn't send you because they want to see me?"
Dumbledore started to answer, but Hermione cut him off.
"It's just that I have so many questions. I feel like I don't know who I am anymore. I'm a complete stranger to myself. I want to know who I am and what I am."
"Hermione, please look at me. You are exactly who you were fifteen minutes ago. You are who you are."
"But how do you know?" Hermione's eyes were brimming with tears that pushed over her eyelashes and slid softly down her cheeks.
"Please don't cry my dear," a truly guilty looking Dumbledore said softly, "I am sorry for all of this. Your birth parents would like to see you, if you wish. If you should decide that you want, you can spend the summer with them. It will give you some time to get to know them and you can talk about their reasons and perhaps understand why they did what they did."
Hermione was torn. On the one hand, she wanted to hate them for doing what they did, forcing her and her adoptive parents to live a lie. On the other hand, she had so many questions. And a little voice in her logical brain was telling her that they were right.
After debating for a moment, Hermione looked back up at Dumbeldore.
"Okay," she said resolutely.
"If you are sure," Dumbledore nodded as he answered and stopped back in front of the house Hermione had grown up in. She hadn't even realized they had gone around the block yet.
"Come, my dear, we have a final bit of business to attend to," he nodded towards the front door.
Taking a deep breath Hermione started to step forward, then stopped.
"Just so we're clear, they're still my parents and I'm going fix this as soon as the war is over. They raised me."
"Of course," Dumbledore smiled gently as he said this and put his hand reassuringly on her shoulder.
Hermione's eyes were red from crying as she sniffled back the last of her tears. The last hour had been the most difficult of Hermione's entire life, and seeing her parents just now not recognize her depressed her more than she could bear. She waved goodbye to the couple that believed her to be a prospective buyer for their house. Then she gripped Dumbledore's arm firmly and he apparated them to an undisclosed location.
The house was beautiful. It was white and colonial style on the outside, with dark red trimming. Lovely plants hung from the porch rafters, and a swing rested still to the right side of the door, painted to match the house's trimming.
Hermione saw the window curtain move ever so slightly, and she found herself attempting to straighten her clothes and hair so that she would look nice on first appearance. The door opened ever so slightly as she and her headmaster climbed the front steps. A small house elf greeted them at the entryway, introducing itself to Hermione as Hegi.
"Hello, master," he started as he bowed before Dumbledore, then turned to Hermione, "Miss. The Missus is expecting you in the library."
"Master?" Hermione asked as she quirked an eyebrow suspiciously. Nah, right? "You're the master of the house?"
"Yes, come along. I will answer all of those questions later. Your mother does not like to be kept waiting."
"And… my father?" Hermione pressed.
"He'll be along shortly," was his short reply.
When they entered the library, a massive room that was three stories to the top, Hermione was surprised to see her favorite professor standing by a long couch, pacing nervously. She stopped short at the sight of Hermione.
"Professor McGonagall!" Hermione rushed to hug her and her professor gently yet hesitantly as always, hugged her back.
"So are you here with my… mother?" Hermione eyes went wide with realization and McGonagall stepped back, her eyes filling with a mixture of joy and guilt.
"Yes," she said finally.
Hermione wasn't sure how angry to be. This was her favorite teacher, which was a plus. But it was her teacher, who'd known her for years and never said anything. She always acted as if Hermione were just another student to her. Well, just another brilliant student.
"You? But why would you lie to me? You?! I can't believe this! I thought they would just be strangers to me. Instead I find out that someone I've admired, trusted, and respected for years has been lying to me! You never once hinted—all this time, you've—"
"Loved you too much to risk it," McGonagall said quietly as a single tear cascaded down her face. Then, all the guilt she suppressed over the years came rushing forward in the form of tears and she threw her head into her hands, sobbing.
Hermione almost felt the need to console her professor-gone-mother, but the anger she felt overpowered that feeling. She folded her arms in a defiant stance, attempting to put some emotional distance between them.
Although she felt she knew already, she looked back over her shoulder towards Dumbledore and asked, "And my father?"
"Present!" Dumbledore announced cheerfully.