Summary: Or, five times Hermione realizes that there's magic beyond anything her wand could produce, and it's the most special of all. Future-fic, post-DH, with Ron/Hermione, Harry/Ginny pairings, and appearances by McGonagall, Rose, and Hugo. Hermione-centric.
AN (1): Recommended listening: "England" by The National.
AN (2): Just a one-shot, please read and review! And I don't own Harry Potter.
We Won't Need Legs to Stand
That which Voldemort does not value, he takes no trouble to comprehend. Of house-elves and children's tales, of love, loyalty, and innocence, Voldemort understands nothing. Nothing. That they all have a power beyond his own, a power beyond the reach of any magic, is a truth he has never grasped.
- Dumbledore, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
Love and magic have a great deal in common. They enrich the soul, delight the heart. And they both take practice.
- Nora Roberts
"Miss Granger," McGonagall says gently, shaking Hermione's shoulder. Hermione screams, her face contorted and pleading, tears streaming down her cheeks, thrashing in her bed. "Hermione," McGonagall tries again. "Hermione, it's Professor McGonagall. Minerva."
Hermione's brown eyes shoot open, taking in the face of her favorite teacher and the current headmistress, concerned in her dressing gown. She sits up quickly, taking great, deep breaths.
She has two types of nightmares.
The first kind, the kind that scares her less, are those she recognizes – immediately when she wakes up – as dreams. Usually they involve a Killing Curse, well-aimed in that final battle, hitting Ron squarely in the chest. She dreams she will never know the feel of his body on hers. Dreams that she will never see his smile or hear his laugh again.
But those nightmares, she can wake up from and instantly gain her bearings. Compose herself. In her four-poster in her Head Girl room, only a small distance away from Professor McGonagall's sleeping quarters, those are the nightmares she longs for.
Because she can wake up. Because she knows, when her mind is hers again and logic can rule, even though tears do stream down her face, that these did not happen. They will not happen, because it's over.
The second kind, that absolutely terrify her, are less dreams than they are memories. Memories of screaming Ron's name, over and over again, and seeing only darkness, hearing only the silence of the forest, in reply. Of Fred, lying with a silent and unfinished laugh. Of Ron and Ginny at his funeral. Of Harry, his body limp and lifeless in Hagrid's sobbing, protective arms. Of pieces of metal searing her skin, over and over again, multiplying until most of her body is burnt. Of dragons and fires. Of Dobby. Of Hufflepuff's cup, telling her that her parents were murdered. That they'd never even realize that she had been their daughter. That she had loved them.
Mostly, of CRUCIO!s and Ron screaming her name and more pain than anyone could imagine.
"Miss Granger," McGonagall says, sounding gentle, "would you like a sleeping draught?"
Hermione sniffles and considers this option. She's exhausted from Head Girl duties and upcoming N.E.W.T.s, not to mention the fact she can't sleep. She nods. "Thank you. I'm sorry I woke you," she says quietly and as calmly as she can, her heart finally slowing.
McGonagall seems to study her silently for a moment, deciding whether or not she should say more, before nodding. "It's no trouble at all, Miss Granger."
She stands quickly, moving from Hermione's room.
McGonagall turns around.
"I-I was," Hermione whispers, "tortured. That's what my nightmare was of."
McGonagall's eyes are deeply saddened by this confession, Hermione notices, as they grow shiny and large. She seems to know that this wasn't merely a nightmare, but something remembered.
She picks up Hermione's copy of Advanced Transfiguration: Preparing for your N.E.W.T.s from the chair next to Hermione's bed, placing it silently on the dresser and sitting down.
"It was Bellatrix," Hermione says, shaking her head. "Luna says it was at least ten times."
"It?" McGonagall questions very quietly.
"The Cruciatus Curse, Professor." Tears are growing hot behind her eyes, stinging and burning.
McGonagall surprises Hermione by moving, lightning-fast, from her perch on the chair to the bed and wrapping her arms tightly around Hermione. Hermione hugs her back almost instantly, though.
They're incredibly smart women, and they both know what it means: Hermione should be dead.
"I woke up at Bill and Fleur's and D-Dobby was dead and Harry needed to break into Gringotts and I-I never g-got a chance to j-j-just…" Sobs overtake her speech, tears encasing her lips.
McGonagall holds her silently and with more care and comfort than Hermione ever could've dreamed.
Finally, Hermione's tears subside and McGonagall loosens her arms. Hermione sits back, rubbing her eyes with her sleeve. McGonagall silently hands her a handkerchief for her dripping nose.
"Sometimes, Miss Granger," McGonagall says quietly, tracks of tears down her face, as well, "it is important to grieve for parts of ourselves that we have lost."
Hermione takes a shuddery breath, nodding and feeling an incredible sense of relief. "I lost a lot that night," she admits. She knows McGonagall understands, that she doesn't need to elaborate or put into words the magnitude of how it changed her.
"You are the bravest witch I have ever known, Miss Granger," McGonagall tells her with a small smile and complete certainty.
Hermione meets her eyes and her smile, then, feeling weirdly relieved and incredibly exhausted.
McGonagall stands, patting Hermione's hand. "I'll be right back with your sleeping draught," she says, assuming her pretense of stern headmistress again.
"Professor? I think I'll be fine tonight."
McGonagall smiles, then, a real smile, and nods. "I expect a perfect lesson from you tomorrow, then, Miss Granger."
"Nothing less," Hermione grins. "And Professor?"
McGonagall turns from the doorway.
She's fast asleep, curled in her bed, and he stands at the doorway of her room a few minutes just watching her, relishing the fact that she's here and she's his. He takes in a Muggle poster her parents had tacked onto her wall of Romeo and Juliet, takes in her books scattered all over. It was Christmas holiday, and they were splitting the time between The Burrow and her parents' home in Australia.
He moves to sit down next to her, brushing aside a curl and waking her with a gentle, soft kiss.
Her eyes flutter open and she smiles. "Couldn't sleep?" she mumbles, sitting up.
He shakes his head, a grin spreading across his features. "I have something to show you."
She looks skeptical. "You're not going to try to speak Parseltongue again, are you?"
He laughs, handing her a sweatshirt of his that he knows is her favorite. She grins, looking younger and more rested than he remembered when she left for Hogwarts months before. (He makes a mental note to thank Ginny and Luna and Neville and Dean and Professor McGonagall for taking such good care of her.)
She slides out of bed quietly; she has on a pair of his boxers and a T-shirt, and she pulls the sweatshirt over her messy hair before hastily slipping on a pair of flats. He takes her hand, then, leading her along the hallway and down the stairs, past her parents' room, as quietly as possible.
"What are you – "
He cuts her off with a shh and a finger to her lips.
He's glad they've made it outside by now, in her parent's lawn, because she's loud. He leads her down the street a little while, until he stops her. "Wait here."
He rustles something behind a bush while she watches warily, and then she can't help but smile when the street lamp illuminates what's in his hands: a bicycle.
"I have one for me, too," he says, producing another bike from behind the bushes.
"Did you steal them?" She wants to make sure.
He laughs. "'Course not. I borrowed them from your parents. They just thought we'd use them in the daytime."
She giggles and takes the smaller bike from him with a kiss. "We're supposed to wear helmets, you know."
He rolls his eyes. "Are you a witch, or what?"
She laughs, knowing that he was right. "How do you know how to ride a bike?"
He shrugs. "I practiced a little yesterday. And it's really not hard," he says simply, putting a strong leg over the seat and positioning his feet on the pedals. "Come on."
She shakes her head with a smile. "Lead the way," she says, climbing on her bike.
He leads them down a few sidestreets, to a trail she never knew was there, green trees whirring past, the air warm and wonderful against her skin.
"We're here," he announces, slowing and hopping off deftly. She clambers off a bit more clumsily, and he grins. She can smell salt and hear waves, and she can't help but shriek with happiness when she takes in a small, secluded playground, completely deserted and lit by the moon, about thirty yards away from the beach.
"Ron," she whispers, her eyes filling with tears.
He wipes her cheeks with gentle thumbs. "Don't cry, Hermione," he whispers softly.
She takes a deep breath. "I almost lost this," she whispers.
He doesn't ask her to explain, because he instantly understands: By 'this' she means life. Happiness. Magic. "But you didn't. We didn't."
And the truth is simple. And maybe the most wonderful thing she's ever heard.
He leads her to the swings, and her tears dry as she pumps through the air, his hair red and bright, flying next to her.
They laugh and he chases her around the play structure, follows her down the slide.
A while later, he lays back against the soft sand, his shoes discarded somewhere long ago next to hers. She uses his chest as a pillow and his heartbeat and the ocean as a soundtrack to keep away millions of nightmares. He strokes her hair, and their breathing grows as even as the crash of the waves.
"There's a shooting star," she murmurs sleepily, pointing up at the clear sky. "Make a wish."
He kisses her forehead, tucking her closer to him. "You can have it."
"Don't you have something you want to wish for?"
He shrugs. "I already have you."
"You look incredible," Harry says quietly, seeing Hermione walking from Ginny's old room in The Burrow. Ginny fusses over Hermione's veil, but Hermione grins.
"You don't look too bad yourself," she says, and both of them look to Ginny when she shouts something and runs, flustered, after Victorie and Teddy who are currently in danger of getting their small dress and robes filthy in the dirt of the garden. "I'm the Maid of Honor, Fleur!" she shouts. "Bill, help her control your child!"
Hermione laughs, turning back to Harry. "I suppose I have you to thank."
"For what?" At this moment he can think of only all of the horrible things that happened to Hermione because of him, or the fact that his fiancée is currently on overdrive.
"Well, I met my…" she pauses as she fights the grin constantly on the verge of erupting on her face, "husband because of you."
Harry laughs. "Yeah, well, I guess Ron's not that bad."
Hermione giggles. "I had a hard time coming to that conclusion, too."
Harry's serious quickly, though, and Hermione's brown eyes meet his green. "I-I am sorry, Hermione. For everything you had to – "
She stops him by throwing her arms around his neck. "I'm okay, Harry. I'm happy. Happy."
He takes a step back, taking her in, and he's more relieved than he would've ever guessed to see that she looks young and giddy and beautiful. That her eyes are full of brilliance. That her smile is real. That her scars – all over her arms and down her back, straight across her neck, slightly lighter than the rest of her skin – are just that: scars, reminders of all the things she'd overcome to get to this moment.
He nods. He understands. "I love you, Hermione."
She smiles. "I love you, too, Harry." She kisses his cheek.
"I'll be waiting to see you out there," he says, breaking into a true grin at the thought of watching beautiful Hermione walk down the aisle, of watching Ron's face when he sees her.
Ginny comes rushing back in, giving Harry a quick kiss before shooing him out to find Ron and get outside to the tent. "The wedding's about to start!" she shrieks.
She sighs, looking at Hermione with a relieved smile. "Luna's made sure there are no nargles in the peonies."
Hermione laughs as Luna comes in happily, bright in her soft green bridesmaids' dress. "Your wedding will be lovely, Hermione," she says dreamily, and they walk outside into the perfect sun.
"They're good boys, aren't they?" Ginny asks, taking one last look at Hermione.
Hermione nods. "The best."
"Mum!" Rose shouts, shrilly, from her bathroom. "Mum! Dad!"
"Make sure Hugo's still asleep," Hermione instructs Ron wearily, heading towards the bathroom.
"What's wrong, Rosie?"
Rose holds up something white and tiny in her hand, her fingers trembling and tears streaming down her little cheeks. "It fell out," she whispers.
Hermione smiles. "That's great, Rose! Your first tooth!" She takes Rose in her arms, making sure the tooth is safely placed on the counter, but Rose continues to cry, sobbing more completely now.
"What's wrong, Rosie?" Hermione asks, rubbing soothing circles around her five-year-old daughter's small back.
"I-I d-d-don't like l-losing things," she mumbles into Hermione's shoulder.
"Oh, Rose. It's okay, love. It's okay."
Rose sniffles and backs up, her eyes (Ron's) meeting Hermione's. "How do you know?" she challenges weakly.
Hermione sits down on the bathroom floor, putting Rose in front of her.
"Rose, when I was younger, people tried very hard to hurt me and Dad and Uncle Harry, and it scared me. A lot," she adds quietly, and Rose looks serious. Her eyes flash to the scar on Hermione's neck.
"I thought it made me – " she pauses, considering a word that Rose would understand – "lame – " Rose nods – "to care about the things I lost, because there were so many people who'd lost more. But," Hermione takes Rose's small hands, "Rosie, when you hurt, it's okay. It's okay to feel things, Rosie. It's okay to be scared of things you don't understand. One of the smartest witches I've ever known told me that sometimes we have to be sad for the things we've lost inside of us."
Rose nods, looking encouraged and loved by this idea.
"But then we have to be brave," Hermione smiles. "But being brave doesn't mean you aren't scared."
"It means you do the right thing, no matter what," Rose says certainly.
It takes Hermione's breath away. She feels overwhelmed and happy and immensely relieved and so full of love.
"Exactly, Rose." Hermione fights to keep tears from her eyes as Rose hugs her happily again.
It's a while later before she and Ron are able to calm Rose (and Hugo) down from the excitement of an impending present from the Tooth Elf, but they finally get them to fall asleep.
Hermione holds the small tooth in the palm of her hand. Ron comes behind her, wrapping his strong arms around her slight waist, kissing the top of her head.
She puts the tooth down on their dresser and turns so she can face Ron.
He grins, kissing her as he wipes her tears. "You're an incredible mother," he whispers.
She smiles. "Rose is going to be in Gryffindor."
"Head Girl!" Rose screams. "Head Girl, Head Girl, Head Girl!" She collapses dramatically onto a couch, holding the letter and badge in her trembling hands.
"And I got prefect!" Hugo shouts, grinning, sitting next to his sister. Hermione and Ron share a grin before hugging and congratulating their children.
Two more owls wait patiently for a while before hooting, interrupting the excited celebration. Ron opens the one addressed to their family, and Hermione notices, with a creased brow, that one is addressed directly to her, from Hogwarts.
Ron tears open the letter. "Lily's Gryffindor prefect, too," he says, "and Albus got Head Boy! Ginny sent us an owl right away!"
There are more shouts of delight, and – momentarily – Hermione forgets about her letter, laying it on her desk for later.
"And Professor McGonagall says we're allowed to tell any other students that claim that we got Head Girl and prefect because Mum's Minister that it's complete rubbish," Rose intimates happily at dinner.
"Yeah. She says we earned them!"
"'Course you did," Ron says, swallowing a large bite of pudding.
Hermione nods. "Dad's right. Rose, you got eleven Outstandings on your O.W.L.s, and Hugo, you're the best in your year – "
"Behind Lily – " he interjects.
"Either way," Hermione acknowledges. "You've earned them beyond anything I've done."
"She makes it sound like becoming Minister of Magic last week is like baking cookies," Hugo mumbles with a playful smile.
"Oh, your Mum's always done that. 'I've just read twenty books and translated four of them from Ancient Runes!'" he imitates Hermione. "'Honestly, Ronald, didn't you know that blahblahblah means love?'"
"Oh, it's not like being one of the most successful Auror in history has been a cakewalk either, Dad," Rose says. "It's just that Mum just got Minister."
"I understand, Rosie. I just like teasing – " he raises his brows – "Mum every now and then."
"Ew," Hugo says, shooting up from is chair. "You guys are gross. I'm going to pack."
Rose laughs and clears their plates before going up to her room. "I need so many books!" she shouts happily, examining her reading list.
Hermione doesn't remember until later the letter she'd left unopened.
She sits at her desk in her spacious, bright office, opening it.
Ron is dosing off in a chair in the drawing room, and she sees his peaceful face through the open French doors.
She smiles with tears in her eyes when she reads the letter:
To the Newest Minister of Magic,
I feel like I should still be calling you Miss Granger. I remember so many years ago, watching you stride purposefully into my classroom, brimming with intellect and knowledge and determined for more. I had thought it curious, after that first lesson, that the Sorting Hat had placed you in Gryffindor and not Ravenclaw, but, nevertheless, I was overjoyed to have you in my House.
But the Sorting Hat proved, over the course of many years, to be much wiser than I. You have proved to be one of the bravest, most influential witches the Wizarding World has ever had the privilege to witness. I can remember hearing you scream, one night during your final year at Hogwarts, and hearing you say – after you had just told me of horrors happening to you that I cannot imagine – that you needn't a sleeping draught. That you would be all right.
I remember realizing then, precisely, that I knew you were one of the most extraordinary beings – Wizard, Muggle, or otherwise – I have had the delight in knowing. I knew then (and perhaps much sooner) that you were determined to change our world, and, because of that, I never doubted that you absolutely would.
I would like to offer my sincere congratulations at your appointment to Minister of Magic. I realized happily, when it was announced, as I'm sure you and Mr. Weasley did, as well, that you are the youngest Minister ever, as well as the first Muggle-born witch or wizard to have this prestigious honor. I think that speaks volumes.
Hermione, you have made me more proud than you can ever know. I am honored to have had you placed in my House, I am honored to have taught you. But I am honored, most of all, by what you taught me. What I have no doubts you will continue to teach your colleagues and the rest of the Wizarding World from your position as Minister.
I wish, mainly, to say thank you.
All the best,
P.S. If you forgive this forward intrusion, I was perhaps wondering if you would join us for the Sorting and Welcome Feast on the first of September. I understand that as Minister you have extraordinary commitments, but if you are free this evening, I and – I am certain – the students and faculty of Hogwarts would greet you with applause and admiration.
There are tears dotting the parchment as Hermione reads and then rereads the letter, but she can't stop the smile on her face.
She takes a quill from her desk, smoothing a piece of parchment.
Professor McGonagall, she writes.
Ron comes behind her, glancing at the parchment before kissing her head softly. "Ready for bed?"
"Almost," she says, writing quickly.
Hermione remembers that same moment, years ago, when she grieved for what she lost, for those childish parts of herself that disappeared as quickly as the Cruciatus Curse ripped through her.
But she remembers, too, that night, with McGonagall, knowing that she'd found something just as important: strength. Strength outside of magic and wit and books. She'd found strength that was all her own.
"What are you writing?"
It would be an honor to join you.
Hermione tells him, signing her name and Minister of Magic with a flourish, simply, "I'm saying thank you."
AN: Please let me know what you think :D. Happy summer, friends!