AN: This story is turning out to be rather... quirky. Hope you enjoy this next chapter.
Getting To Know Your Partner
Hermione watched emerald eyes practically bug out of Minerva's face. The artery on the side of her neck was doing an interesting cha-cha as well.
The young witch leaned forward and whispered, "Say something..."
A strangled gurgling sound was the only noise that the Headmistress was able to produce.
Unperturbed, the pamphlet piped up, "Ahem... hem. As I was saying..." It didn't get to finish as Minerva McGonagall reached across the table with speed that surprised her companion and slammed the cover closed with a loud slap.
The older witch rose growling, "I am leaving." She was so angry that she was shaking.
Hermione could see it. She could see something else as well. Dark eyes glittered as she hissed, "Is that how its going to be? Whenever something difficult arises you get up and leave? Some marriage we'll be having." That last bit was said with a disgusted snort.
Hermione's words stopped the older witch dead in her tracks. Her backbone was ram rod straight and her fists clenched painfully. Slowly, Minerva turned back and with teeth gritted, growled, "I do not leave a conflict."
She watched as Hermione picked up the offending pamphlet and slowly walked towards her.
With head held high, the brown eyed witch stared into narrowed emerald orbs and whispered, "Neither do I."
Minerva drew a deep breath into her tension tightened chest. Exhaling, she nodded, "Fine. Let us go."
She tossed several galleons onto the table, then turned on her heel and marched out of the darkened little club muttering, "Let the muggles figure it out."
Hermione shook her head, "That went well."
The pamphlet spoke up, "Indeed."
Rolling her eyes, the young woman stuffed the book into her beaded bag.
"It's crowded in here!" Came a muffled complaint.
"Shut up." The young witch growled as she followed her wife out of the door.
The two witches walked along the streets of London for some time before Minerva spoke up, "Where have you been living? Do you need to stop and pick up your things?" She turned to look at the younger woman.
Hermione's features had taken on a melancholy expression. There was a far away look in her glistening brown eyes, "I've been staying at my parent house. I apparate to University every morning."
She paused and patted her beaded bag adding, "Everything I own is right here."
Minerva's eyes widened in surprise, "What of your parents?"
The young woman shrugged nonchalantly, "What of them? They wanted to stay in Australia. Considering the way I turned out, I can't blame them."
Blinking her shock, the older witch huffed, "What do you mean by that?" She remembered the Grangers to be kind and loving parents. Very thoughtful where their only daughter was concerned.
Sighing, Hermione answered, "Before Harry, Ron and I left, I cast an Obliviate Charm on mum and dad. I figured that they wouldn't worry about something they couldn't recall. Plus it might keep them safe from the Death Eaters."
She paused as a tear welled up in her right eye. Wiping it away with an impatient swipe, she continued, "I implanted the idea of them moving to Australia into their minds."
Minerva was astounded at hearing this. It was complicated magic to perform. She watched as the young woman wrapped her arms around herself.
A frown knitted the young woman's dark eyebrows together, "When the war was over, I went to find them and undo the magics that I had done." She smiled ruefully as she added, "They were not amused."
Snorting, Minerva replied, "I should think not."
Shaking her head, the young woman continued, "They told me that they would be staying in Australia. That I could have the house in Surrey. They would make sure the bills were paid until I got a job."
She felt another tear drip from her eye. "Good of 'em I guess." Again an impatient hand wiped at the tear.
"Do you speak with them?"
Hermione chuckled hoarsely, "Birthdays and Christmas. I sent a Mother's Day card to mum. She sent a thank you card in return. No note, no letter. Just signed it "From Mum", nice huh?" The young woman shot a glance at her former mentor, now wife.
"Perhaps they do not know what to say to you?"
Hermione laughed. It wasn't a pleasant sound. "That never stopped 'em before." The chestnut haired witch halted her stride saying, "Look, could we just drop it?"
Minerva stepped closer recognizing a tender subject when she saw one and replied with a raised eyebrow, "For now."
The thunder of apparation heralded the return of the Headmistress to the venerable school. Unwarding the gates, Minerva gestured for Hermione to enter, "Welcome to your new home."
A wry smile quirked the young woman's cheek as she gazed about the familiar landscape. Her dark eyes practically glowing as she replied, "You know this is the only place that I ever truly felt at home."
Minerva took that information in silently. Filing it away with all the other tidbits she had learned about her new wife. Life had certainly taken its toll on the young woman.
"Come." She said as she started walking up the centuries old path that led to the school. She didn't turn to see if Hermione was following.
Her enhanced hearing allowed her to detect the soft tread of small feet on the pebbled path.
As the couple neared the main entrance, the ancient oak door swung open and several staff members stepped out. Rolanda Hooch and her wife Henny standing at the front of the group.
"So who did you get?"
They did not see Hermione as she was directly behind the Headmistress.
Minerva cleared her throat as the third member of the golden trio stepped out from behind her taller wife.
Mouths dropped open and eyes widened as Minerva's chosen wife was revealed.
"Well damn..." Hooch whispered rocking back on her heels.
Chocolate eyes narrowed and nostrils flared as Hermione stepped forward into Hooch's personal space and hissed, "Do you have a problem with this?"
Minerva grasped her wife by the bicep, "They do not have a problem. They are just surprised." The tone of her voice momentarily calming the young woman.
A short woman with vivid blue eyes and a shock of spikey black hair stepped forward, "That's right... and maybe just a little curious." She grasped Hooch's hand.
Hermione cocked her head, "Who are you?"
The black haired woman smiled, "I'm Henrietta Penelope Proudfoot. Rolanda is my wife."
"Henny for short." Hooch offered smiling at her wife.
Suddenly Hermione snorted, "Henny?... Henny Penny Proudfoot?" There was disbelief in her voice causing the others to think that the young witch might be mocking the couple.
Minerva coughed as she grasped Hermione's hand, "Come. We need..." She was abruptly brought to a halt as her wife stubbornly stood her ground staring at the dark haired witch.
The rest of the staff still stood silently... wondering where the sweet and innocent Hermione Granger had gone and just who the bloody hell this angry little creature was.
Suddenly Hermione broke into a smile as she stared at the black haired witch, "You write magical children's books. The Henny Penny stories right?"
Henny grinned, happy to be recognized for her work. "Yes that's me."
Hermione reached out her hand, smiling as Henny clasped it in a friendly handshake, "It's nice to meet you. I read all of your books during the summer before my first year here."
With that, she shot the author another smile, then trotted after Minerva who was standing as dumbfounded as all the others.
Hermione raised an eyebrow, "Whut?"
Minerva could feel a headache coming on as she stood with her wife on the spiral staircase as it carried them up to her office.
This new Hermione was not like the young girl she had taught. Oh no... this WOMAN was full of piss and vinegar. The great battle had surely damaged this poor witch's soul.
She wondered how on earth they would ever make a harmonious marriage.
Hermione for her part inwardly grinned. Yes, she had shaken the usually stoic Headmistress up a bit. Minerva had always been such a tight ass. It was nice to see her off-balance a bit.
A soft snicker slipped from between her lips.
With the exceptional hearing of her animagus, Minerva frowned. So the little wise arse was playing games eh? Hmmmmm.
The stairs finally ground to a stop and both women stepped off and moved to the great oak doors that led to the office of the Head of Hogwarts. Sensing Minerva's magic, the doors swung open of their own volition.
Hermione followed the older woman into the office looking around as she entered. None of the bits and baubles, trinkets and doo-dads that had decorated Dumbledore's area were present.
Instead, they had been carefully placed in a large curio cabinet that took up most of one wall.
Minerva noticed where Hermione was looking and said, "I had a cabinet specially designed for all that chaos. It's been warded for the protection of the curious." She shot a glare at the cabinet saying, "Some of those bloody bits bite!"
A hearty chuckle caused both women to turn to face the enormous desk that dominated the center of the room. Directly behind it and up on the wall was the portrait of Albus Dumbledore himself.
Twinkling blue eyes sparkled as he replied directly to Hermione, "They only bite the unenlightened." He shot the young woman a wink as he watched Minerva swell up indignantly.
"Unenlightened my arse you old nutter."
Ignoring his friend's acerbic comment, he focussed on Hermione, "I see the hat matched you with Tabby here."
The young witch giggled as she watched her wife blush ten shades of red at the nickname.
Crooking his finger, he beckoned the younger witch closer saying in a conspiratorial whisper, "Just don't take any of her nonsense."
Minerva sputtered, "Nonsense? What do you mean nonsense? I am very easy to get along with!"
"Yes. Just do everything her way and you'll be fine." Came the silky tones of Severus Snape's portrait.
Snickers, snorts, hoots and laughter echoed from each and every painting in the room causing Hermione to erupt in a huge belly laugh.
Dumbledore winked at Minerva and instantly she understood that his teasing of her was his way of getting Hermione to lighten up a bit. Luckily it seemed to be working.
Raising an eyebrow, the older witch said, "Come. I will show you to your room."
There was a muffled squawk coming from the young woman's bag but both women chose to ignore it and proceeded into the inner chambers which lay just behind an unobtrusive door in a tiny alcove just behind the massive desk.
Several hours later, Hermione sat on the bed in her new bedroom. It was very nice.
Minerva had thoughtfully provided the young witch with her own space. A space which included a large queen size canopy bed. Twin bed tables on either side. A large cedar chest at the foot of the bed along with an over-sized wardrobe along one wall. The room had two large windows that overlooked the Black Lake.
An antique desk sat in front of one of the windows. The room was tastefully decorated and it was plain to see that Minerva was attempting to make the young woman feel at ease in her new surroundings.
Smiling at the thought, Hermione reached into her beaded bag and pulled the pamphlet out. Leaning back against the headboard, she began flipping through the pages.
Her attention was interrupted by a light knock on her door, "Yes?"
"May I come in?"
Sitting up, Hermione answered, "Of course."
The door opened and Minerva stepped in. She gave a small glance around, asking, "Do you like your room?"
"She is not supposed to have a separate room." The unmistakeable voice of Dolores Umbridge sounded.
Minerva's emerald eyes instantly darkened into an angry glare, "What?"
Hermione abruptly sat on the offending missive causing it to emit several muffled squawks, "Nothing. Nothing at all. We'll just ignore the evil book okay?"
Huffing, the elder witch mumbled, "I just wanted to let you know that I have tea and biscuits ready if you would like to partake?"
Hermione recognized that Minerva was trying to be civil. She couldn't help it if the stupid pamphlet set the woman off dammit! Nodding, she followed Minerva out of the room.
"But what about me?" Came a plaintive wail from the pamphlet.
Hermione poked her head back into the room, "Shush!"
"So there I was covered in mud, snow, sleet and whatever else the weather could throw at us. My glasses were broken and I knew I had to hit the bludger! I could hear it coming but all I could see were three giant fuzzy blobs moving in my direction!"
Hermione chuckled as she listened to Minerva recount her Quiddich days with Scotland's National Team. It was a pleasant surprise to learn that her wife had once played in the Quiddich World Cup.
Taking a sip, she asked, "So what did you do?"
Minerva grinned revealing pearly white even teeth, "I hit the one in the middle."
Giggles erupted from the younger witch.
She really was lovely when she relaxed. That thought caused the older witch to squirm a bit.
"Are you okay?"
Minerva felt a small hand touch her larger one.
"Um.. just fine." A blush flushed the older witch's features.
Smiling, Hermione decided to change the subject a bit, "The last time I was at the Quiddich World Cup a bunch of Death Eaters royally fucked things up and Barty Crouch accused Harry!"
Minerva frowned at Hermione's harsh language, "You talk like a sailor on leave young lady."
Shrugging, Hermione reached for a ginger newt, "Sorry. Being on the run with Harry and Ron gave me an appreciation for..." She thought for a moment, then continued, "Shall we say... colourful metaphors."
"Blazing with colour I would say." Minerva remarked dryly.
Hermione rose from the comfortable leather sofa and said, "You know, we really need to take a look at that pamphlet." She raised a hand to forestall Minerva's objections, "I know I know. It sounds like Umbridge... we are just going to have to deal with it."
She didn't wait for an answer. She turned and strode into her room and grabbed the book.
'What is sexuality? The muggle Freud saw sex as a powerful psychological and biological force while wizarding psychologists and healers emphasize its sociological and cultural dimensions.'
Minerva and Hermione looked at each other at the same time, "Huh?" They both had identical frowns on their faces as they listened to the voice of Dolores Umbridge droning on once more...
'The word sexuality usually has a broader definition as it refers to all aspects of being sexual. Sexuality means a dimension of personality instead of referring to an individuals capacity for erotic response.'
Once again both women looked at each other, "Huh?"
A sigh could be heard from the pamphlet as it said, "Really dears you must try to comprehend what I am trying to say."
Minerva growled as she abruptly rose, "I have had enough of you missy!" She picked up the pamphlet and flung it across the room on a direct course for the fireplace.
"Nooooooooo!" The book screamed as it sailed across the room. Minerva's aim was spot on as the missive landed squarely in the fire.
Unfortunately nothing happened.
Giggles could be heard coming from the pamphlet in a high girlish voice, "Ahem.. Hee-Hee.. I have been warded against unauthorized destruction. I am the property of the Ministry of Magic and therefore any damage or intentional destruction of my being shall be met with the severest of punishments!"
"What could be bloody worse than being subjected to your senseless drivel!" Minerva roared as the pamphlet mysteriously levitated itself out of the fire an onto the coffee table.
Pointing a long finger at the offending book, she added, "And if you dirty up my antique table I swear I will feed you to the Thestrals!"
"A term in Azkaban for destruction of Ministry property would be the punishment." The pamphlet snarked back.
Hermione shook her head and stood screaming at the top of her lungs, "SHUT UP!"
Book and Headmistress both fell silent.
The young woman began pacing back and forth, "I can't believe this!" She glared at Minerva, "You are having an argument with a fucking book!"
She focussed on the pamphlet and hissed, "And you are just retarded!"
She stared at her wife, "The more I get to know you the more I realize just how neurotic you really are!" Growling, the young woman stomped to her bedroom and grabbed her travelling cloak.
As she re-entered the living room, she saw that her wife and the book were still speechless. "I'm going to Diagon Alley to see a friend." She snorted and added, "And possibly get royally pissed as well." With that she opened the door and stepped across the threshold.
The door slammed with a resounding finality.
"I do believe your wife is a wee bit vexed."
Minerva stared down at the offending book with an incredulous expression, "Ya think?"
Hermione stepped out of the Leaky Cauldron and into Diagon Alley. Her expression was grim. So much so that anyone who recognized her gave her a wide berth.
The young woman's destination became clear as Weasley's Wizarding Wheezes came into view. In the last several years, she had become rather close to George Weasley.
In a big brother kind of way of course.
She really needed to speak with him about her situation with the mad Headmistress she was married to. It hadn't even been a day and already she had stormed out.
Entering the shop, she was surprised to see Arthur Weasley behind the counter.
"Arthur? What are you doing here?"
The elder Weasley grinned, "Just minding the shop. George and Angelina have a meeting with a potential distributor."
"Angelina is a partner here?" Hermione asked wide eyed.
Nodding, Arthur replied, "Well she did marry George."
Hermione chuckled, "How did that happen?"
Arthur looked a bit mystified, "I'm not really sure. Something about she got her peanut butter in his chocolate and he got his chocolate in her peanut butter."*
Arthur frowned, "It's complicated, but at least they're happy." He noticed her pensive expression, "Now what's got you all frowns young lady?"
Hermione explained about being matched to Minerva, their marriage and that bloody pamphlet. Shaking her head, she complained, "It reads so much like VCR instructions."
Knowing what the muggle device was and how it operated, helped Arthur understand just what the young woman was talking about.
Hermione shook her head, "At the rate we're going, the year will be over and we'll be exiled because we couldn't figure out what the stupid pamphlet was talking about!"
Suddenly Arthur brightened, "I have an idea!"
Hermione looked at him with curiosity gleaming in dark eyes, "What?"
"Ever heard of a 'Blue Pensieve'?"**
-to be continued
* - Anyone who ever had a Reece's Peanut Butter Cup will understand. Although I had a devil of a time explaining the reference to Tan. I don't think the Brits have discovered this one yet.
** - Kudoes to the amazing Ms. Figg.