Disclaimer: I own nothing.
A Bridge to Bountiful
It was the middle of the night. The moon was full and bright, reflecting off the blood and bodies littered across the moor. It was the end of the end game. Voldemort was dead, and so were hundreds of witches and wizards, both innocent fighters of light and death eaters guilty of murder.
Murder, she thought. Weren't they all murderers? She stumbled, but caught herself before she had to touch another bloodied body. She looked at her shaking hands. Her right still gripped her wand, and her left was clenched. Both were caked with dirt and mud, crusted with blood all the way up her arm. Her previously pretty pink sweater was torn and dirty with burn marks from nearly missed curses and hexes. Her denims in a similar state and she was pretty sure she'd lost a trainer some hours ago.
She was trembling partly from the cold partly from the adrenaline still coursing through her veins. She wanted to cry for all of these people, the good and the bad, but she didn't have any tears left in her at the moment.
She caught movement from the corner of her eye and whipped around with her wand at the ready. It was a child, not more than nine years old. She couldn't tell if the child was a boy or girl, but 'it' was looking for something. She didn't wait any longer; she leaped over bodies and ran where she could. It seemed like forever before she reached the unnaturally thin boy.
His angelic face was smeared with dirt and striped with dried tears. "I can't find mummy," he said, new tears spilling out of his warm brown eyes. Hermione dropped to her knees and took his hands in hers. She looked down as his small fingers clasped around hers; they were cold. She raised her eyes. "We'll find her, but right now we should get back, okay?" she asked. "I'm Hermione. What's your name?"
As if a switch had been flipped, the little boy straightened his shoulders and bowed to her while bringing her hand to his lips. "Torren James, at your service."
She smiled and wanted to laugh. "It's a pleasure to meet you, Torren. We should go," she said and stood. Together they walked for what seemed like miles before they reached the school.
"Hermione! We couldn't find you, we thought…" It was Ginny and she looked as bad as Hermione felt. Hermione offered a weak smile. "This is Torren James. He was looking for his mum." Ginny's expression again reflected Hermione's emotion. Ginny's eyes teared up for a moment at the idea that his mum was probably among the many dead.
Six months later…
"No, Hermione, I want to just relax. I'm tired of doing for everyone else!" Ron shouted. This was the same, tired conversation they'd been having for the last five months. She had watched in horror at the growing number of orphans and broken families looked for their child, wife, husband, father…. It was heartbreaking. She couldn't understand why the people around her weren't affected by it. They all just wanted to sit back and let someone else rebuild the wizarding world.
It wasn't in her nature to sit idly by while she could help in some way.
He wanted to get married and start a family right away. She wasn't ready. "I can't do that, Ron. I'm sorry." Her shoulders slumped as she looked at her trunk before she shrunk it down and stuffed it in her pocket. "See you around," she said sadly.
He looked both sad and relieved. With a deep breath and final glance around the room she left and Apparated as soon as she reached the boundary.
Two months later Unity Charities was born. She'd used the money awarded to her when she was given the Order of Merlin First Class along with Harry, Ron and a few others, some posthumously.
She rented a large stand-alone building just outside of Surrey. It resembled a barn, but had multiple rooms and three floors. She'd been able to lower the monthly payment with the promise of fixing it up herself… or at least on her own Galleon.
The Prophet, for once, came in handy as she used the classifieds to locate wizarding contractors. She interviewed four before she found one she could both afford and trust. He employed house elves, but he paid them a wage.
She paid him in full right away and they set to work the next morning.
While she waited for construction to finish she rented a small, very small, flat in Diagon Alley. She wanted to start working on Lobby documents for the Ministry. She hoped she could be convincing enough to get them to fund her little endeavor… or at least provide a monthly/yearly stipend.
Three months later construction was finished, her lobbying had been successful and she found herself knee-deep in work, sinking fast.
Nearly one year post Voldemorts defeat, she sat at her desk desperately trying to make heads or tails of the current sanctions on adoption accompanied by the semiannual stipend of six hundred Galleon. It was hardly enough to run an orphanage/school/general charity for families displaced by the war, but beggars couldn't be choosers and she was thankful for each and every Galleon.
A soft knock at the door diverted her attention and prevented her from wadding up the parchment and setting it afire in frustration. "Yes, come in," she answered before becoming fully aware of who the visitor was.
Her eyes widened, and her lips parted in surprise. "Mrs. Malfoy?" She stood and began to nervously clear off her cluttered desk.
She caught herself and looked up at the stoic, but stunningly beautiful witch. She took a deep breath in an effort to compose herself. "Forgive me. Won't you have a seat?" she asked motioning to the comfy looking chair near the fireplace. "May I offer you tea?"
Narcissa sat primly on the chair, though she looked about as comfortable as one could look, sitting on the first third of a chair seat with ramrod straight posture. "Tea would be lovely, thank you," she said.
Hermione nodded and snapped her fingers. "Yes, Miss?" The little house elf stood with her hands clasped in front her wearing a pink lacy frock.
Narcissa couldn't resist. "A house elf, Miss Granger?" She'd heard about S.P.E.W. Draco whined about the bushy haired know-it-all and her endeavors throughout their Hogwarts years.
Hermione gave the woman a tight smile and explained. "They're paid. Most of the elves living here were displaced during the war, like the children, they need a home. In the meantime we all help each other."
"Reeny, please bring two cups of tea and some biscuits."
Hermione didn't so much as make it to her seat across from Narcissa when Reeny was back with a steaming pot of tea and a tray filled with biscuits and two cups. She set it down and popped away.
Hermione poured them both tea and handed the other witch her cup. "What brings you today?" she asked.
Narcissa took a sip and pulled away from the rim. She looked at it surprised and then at Hermione. "This is good," she said.
Hermione smirked. "Expecting a used Earl Grey tea bag?" she teased.
Narcissa had the presence of mind to smile at the younger girls joke. "No, of course not. I just didn't expect you to be a tea connoisseur. What is it? If I may be so bold."
Hermione nodded. "Organic Dragonwell with cinnamon. I order it special. It's my one vice," she said and took another sip.
Narcissa nodded as well. "Well done, Miss Granger," she complimented.
Hermione practically preened under the pureblood witches praise, but reality came crashing down and she looked at Narcissa Malfoy in the eye. "Why are you here?"
Narcissa set her tea down and clasped her hands tightly on her lap. "I would like to help."
Whatever Hermione was expecting that wasn't it. "Here?"
"Yes. I need to …contribute. I've made… my family has made a lot of mistakes, and I can't hide in my house while our world crumbles around us. Everyone seems to think this is a good to time to just rest on our laurels, but the children…" she shook her head sadly. "I can't know they need help and not do anything about it." Narcissa looked at the Muggle born, pleading with her eyes.
Hermione needed the help and whatever form it came in, she figured Narcissa Malfoy was as good as any. "I could use the help, to be honest."
Narcissa picked up her tea, visibly relaxing into the cool, graceful pureblood she walked in as. "So what do we do now?" she asked.
Hermione looked at the woman. "Do you have some time today? I'd like to share with you what my vision is and what I've accomplished thus far and what still needs to be done to reach the goal."
Narcissa nodded. "Wonderful!"
Hermione's opinion changed that afternoon. Narcissa listened intently, asking relevant questions about things Hermione hadn't yet thought of or worked out. Mrs. Malfoy was logical, organized and enthusiastic about getting out there and helping. She never once offered Galleons and for that, Hermione was grateful. She didn't want a backer, Hermione wanted a partner.
Later that night…
Narcissa entered the foyer and gave her outer robes to the elf. "Cissa, where have you been? We've been worried," Lucius said with Draco following behind him. Narcissa smiled at them both, so alike.
She kissed both her husband and her son on the cheek and walked into the library with them hot on her heels.
She poured them each a brandy and then sat down kicking off her shoes. Her feet were killing her. Hermione had dragged her all over the Gods creation, giving her the tour.
Lucius immediately noted how tired she looked and sat down in front of her on the table. He lifted her foot and started to massage it gently.
She sighed. "Thank you. That's nice."
Draco rolled his eyes and plopped down on the couch. "Well? Where were you?" he asked.
"Unity Charities. I offered my assistance. There's a lot to do and not enough resources to do it."
Lucius stopped for a moment to switch feet. "How much did you pledge?" he asked, wondering if it was enough to alleviate both his and his wife's guilt. He hoped it was.
She looked at him, knowing what he was thinking. "Just my time," she whispered.
He nodded, understanding. Draco broke the silence. "I remember hearing about that at the Ministry. Who runs it?"
She turned with a devious smile to watch his facial expression. "Hermione Granger," she said.