It was pure chance that the whole thing started in Potions. Or was it chance? Things may have started there; and perhaps it was irony instead, striking later. Either way, it was a funny thing that Hermione's troubles should start here, and end… well, we shall see that when we get there. After all, my dear readers, I am not in the habit of revealing the ending before we have barely touched on the beginning.
So here begins the story, a tale of past mistakes, present misunderstandings, and as to the future… again, that cannot yet be revealed. I refuse to get ahead of myself. Please do warn me if I appear to be straying.
Thus saying, allow me to begin my narrative, and I hope that you shall enjoy reading it just as I enjoy writing it.
In the seventh year Potions class, Professor Snape had the students make a Family Tree potion. When it was brewed properly, three drops on a piece of parchment would have the brewer's family tree mapped out for three generations, seven drops for seven generations, and just one drop would reveal their parents. Harry was of the opinion—granted, it was a justified opinion—that their professor just wanted to cause them pain. After all, it involved using some of the person's blood; and even though it was only a bit, many of the students didn't have a high pain threshold.
"You should be finished by now," he said, his harsh gaze sweeping the students. He walked among them. "Once you have completed your own, creative…" he sneered, "'variations', you may test them."
Hermione's potion was, of course, perfect. The potions master deemed it 'nearly adequate', causing her to brighten at the almost-praise. She filled two vials; one for her marks, and one for testing. A few years ago, she had found herself interested in genealogy, but had neither the time nor the resources to find out anything; nor were her parents willing to help. This led her to believe that they knew very little as well, and were trying to save her from any disappointment. This potion was the perfect chance for her to find out something, anything, that might aid her search.
While Harry and Ron struggled to fix their own potions, and Neville tried to stop his from melting his cauldron, Hermione placed five drops of the potion onto the piece of parchment she had set out. Five generations ought to do it for starters, she thought, watching the lines and names form.
She looked up in time to stop Neville from adding too much ground beetles, which would have caused the potion to explode, and the entire classroom to be obliterated. The professor swept over to them, and the boy cowered in his seat. Hermione bit her lower lip, sitting back on her own stool. There was a moment when she could have sworn she saw a grateful look flit across his face, but dismissed it as a trick of the light.
"Fifteen points from Gryffindor for nearly killing us all, Longbottom," Professor Snape said, "and five points from the same house for helping a housemate without permission, Miss Granger."
"Yes, Prof…" She stopped, staring down at the parchment.
"Miss Granger? Are you listening to me?" She wasn't. Professor Snape strode around the cauldrons and stood behind her, wondering what had the girl's undivided attention.
"What is it, `Mione?" Ron whispered.
"Fifteen points from your house for speaking without permission, Weasley."
"Want to make it another twenty?"
"Then quiet. Let me see that, Miss Granger," he demanded, and he whipped the parchment away from the desk. Hermione sat there, still frozen in shock, not noticing that her professor had taken the potion-made family tree. Professor Snape's look travelled from the parchment to the student in front of him, his expression one of surprise, shock, and confusion. He knew what this meant.
"What is it, sir?" Malfoy called out. "The Mudblood finally facing facts?"
"Quiet, Draco!" the professor snapped, and several gasps echoed throughout the dungeon classroom. "Class dismissed. Potter, pack Miss Granger's book bag." He folded the parchment, thrust it into his pocket, and grabbed the girl's elbow. He pulled her off the stool. "Miss Granger? Granger? Snap out of it, girl!"
"Sir?" Harry asked. Professor Snape looked up at him, and snatched the bag away. He threw it over his shoulder, inwardly grimacing at the weight of the numerous books inside.
"Potter, Weasley, go to your next classes."
"Lunch is next, sir."
"Then just go!"
"Sir," Ron said, "she's in shock."
"I know that, Weasley," Professor Snape said through clenched teeth. There was only one way to snap a person out of shock, and he preferred to wait until they were in the headmaster's office, where she could have her breakdown in relative privacy. "Leave this classroom immediately." He let go of Hermione long enough to propel the boys through the door, and then returned to her side. It would be quicker to floo, and he wanted to catch the headmaster before he could leave for lunch. So he threw in a handful of the powder, stepped into the green flames, and pulled Hermione against him. "Headmaster's office," he said clearly, and he protected her from the walls as they flew through the floo network.
Eventually, they fell out of the headmaster's fireplace and onto the rug in front, Professor Snape landing half on top of her. He scrambled to his feet, pulling her up.
"Well," he remarked, "clearly that wasn't enough of a shock to wake you."
"Indeed, Severus," Professor Dumbledore said, making the potions master jump. "What has happened?"
"Miss Granger is in shock, which is why I must do this," he replied, and he slapped her across the face. Two seconds later, Hermione started to tremble, tears forming, and she looked around the office. She looked more frightened than either of the men had ever seen her, including when they defended Hogwarts against attack last year. Voldemort had used the Cruciatus Curse on her, before Lavender Brown deflected it with a well-placed Shielding Charm. Ron had been all over her for saving his friend's life, though she had just been repaying Hermione for knocking her out of the way of a Killing Curse earlier on. But that didn't matter to the hormone-driven redhead, or to the equally hormone-driven blonde.
As Hermione had told Harry, they were made for each other.
Once Professor Snape had administered a Calming Draught to her from the headmaster's stores, Professor Dumbledore asked why she was in shock.
"Here," the potions master said, thrusting the offending parchment into Dumbledore's hands. "The result of that family tree potion we made in class this morning."
Hermione Jean Granger (living)
Abraxas Malfoy (living) and Walburga Black (deceased)
He stopped reading there, and looked up to see the potions professor smoothing the hair out of Hermione's face, while she wiped at her tears with her handkerchief. She sniffled, and stilled when she noticed the fingers still stroking her face. Her eyes connected with his, and he pulled his hand away as though he'd been touching hot coals, and only just realised it. But his voice was still gentle when he spoke.
"Are you quite well, Miss Granger?" he asked, and she nodded. But then she looked up at the headmaster, who was watching the interaction with anxiety.
"I'm… was the potion wrong?" She looked at Professor Snape, who shook his head.
"I'm sorry, but it was your usual standard; in other words, perfect," he said. "Though you'll never get me saying that in front of anyone else," he added, and she giggled, before sniffing again.
"Thank you, Professor," she said. "So I'm… not a Mudblood, then." They winced at the term, but knew that she was just being ironic.
"That is so, Miss Granger," Professor Dumbledore said gently.
"And I'm… Lucius Malfoy's half-sister," she said, trying to suppress a grin. Instead, it came out as a smirk. The men nodded. "And Sirius's half-sister." They nodded again, though she looked less happy when she thought of Harry's late godfather. "But… I'm definitely Draco Malfoy's aunt," she added, and now she let out the grin. The two professors let out sighs of relief. She was taking the news better than expected.
Readers, it was later that Hermione realised her change in circumstances. Many things hit her at once, about her new situation. Not the least of these was that she would have to tell everyone what had happened, for they would surely be suspicious. However, you shall read of this in the next chapter. Until then, farewell, and enjoy!