Phoenix Fire (or, Hermione Granger and the Elder Wand), Prologue.
DISCLAIMER: Most of the characters that populate this story are the property of the incomparably talented and infinitely generous J.K. Rowling. I am thankful to Ms. Rowling for her stories, and for her admirable open mindedness on the subject of fanfiction.
I make no money from this story, which exists as a work of tribute.
I am also deeply, deeply grateful to Ariadne, who agreed to beta this despite having a very full schedule. All the mistakes that remain are entirely my own.
WARNING: This story is the third in my Phoenix Trilogy. I STRONGLY suggest that you read the other two stories before starting this one: Book one, Phoenix Song (or, Hermione Granger and the H-B P); Book two, Phoenix Tears (or, Hermione Granger and the DH).
Please note also that this story contains (at various points) references to, discussion and/or descriptions of violent acts and mature themes, including war, death, physical violence, emotional trauma, sexual assault, rape, abortion, and consensual sex between adults. There are some nice things, too, I promise!
One final author's note before I begin: with the exception of the many (justified) complaints about the long interim between the second and third parts of this story, the most frequent critique my writing has engendered regards the number of openly gay characters. This is not a complaint that I feel any sympathy for; after all, I'm gay myself. Besides, every character I cast as gay was graced with highly "gay" potential in the descriptions and characteristics that JKR herself provided for them. In this installment of the story, as the younger members of the cast grow up, some of them are going to turn out gay as well. Just deal. In fact, I would recommend revelling in it-it's not that I've made a higher percentage of characters gay than would happen in real life, it's just that I tend to give them more airtime than you might be exposed to in your version of real life. I give you my solemn promise that neither Severus nor Hermione will turn out to be the slightest bit gay, and as to the rest, you'll just have to hold onto your hats and come along for the ride. As Manning Clark once said about his history of Australia, if you don't like it, write your own!
And now, with no further ado, let me present: Phoenix Fire, (or, Hermione Granger and the Elder Wand).
The woman spat into the sink, rinsed her toothbrush and placed it back into the rack. With a fleeting glance at the mirror, she ran a hand through her spiky hair and left the bathroom for the bedroom.
Her lover was tucked up in bed, a heavy book balanced on her lap, wire-rimmed reading glasses propped on the end of her nose, and her grey curls twisted up out-of-sight underneath a nightcap that was decorated with pink cabbage roses.
"Poppy, sweetheart, are you done with the light? Or do you want to read longer?"
Poppy sighed and closed the book with an audible thud. "I'm done," she acknowledged, folding her glasses as she spoke.
Hooch held out her hand for the book, and placed it and Poppy's glasses on the bedside table.
The cover was inscribed in large gold letters: Sympathetic Magic.
"You still thinking about Severus, then?" asked Hooch as she climbed up onto the bed and under the covers.
"Yes." Poppy waited for Hooch to hold out one arm, and then snuggled up into the crook of the other woman's arm, pillowing her head on Hooch's shoulder. "Quite honestly, I've never seen anything like that before."
"His neck—and the scar on the Granger girl's chest—both completely and flawlessly healed. I only wish I knew how they did it!"
Hooch hummed gently in response. She slid one finger up under the edge of Poppy's bonnet and teased a single curl free; she wound it gently round her finger. "You could heal a lot of people with a skill like that, sweetheart."
"Maybe, maybe not."
"Are you saying 'maybe' because you doubt your abilities, Poppy, or because you think that particular piece of magic is unrepeatable?"
Hooch turned her head and pressed a kiss to the other woman's forehead. "Don't doubt yourself. You're one of the best, and you know that as well as I do. You healed everyone you possibly could have after that battle."
"It's just . . ." Poppy trailed off, only to suddenly poke her lover sharply in the ribs.
"Oy! What was that for?"
"What I'm going to say next must go no further: this is purely speculation."
"If you want to push those strong fingers into me, sweetheart, I can think of a better location."
"Hush, you! Don't be crude!" There was a smile in Poppy's voice despite the reproof, and she dug her finger back into Hooch's ribs.
Hooch laughed. "Go on, then. What's this top-secret, highly-speculative theory of yours?"
"Don't laugh," warned Poppy. "It's just that . . . it's almost as if the process of healing Severus affected the Granger girl, too; as if they were two parts of the one whole."
The silence that followed her announcement stretched on slightly too long.
"What are you saying, Poppy?" asked Hooch eventually. "That the two of them are destined to be together?"
"NO! I'm not suggesting anything of the kind, and that is exactly why this can't go any further! Just . . . that perhaps that he cares so deeply about her safety, that he couldn't be made whole unless she was."
"Hmm." Hooch rubbed her thumb against the other woman's shoulder. "It's an interesting theory."
"Forget it," replied Poppy suddenly. "Forget I said anything."
Hooch grinned against Poppy's forehead. "Make me," she whispered provocatively.
Poppy took that opportunity to dig her fingers back into her companions ribs, and Hooch chuckled—a rich, chocolaty sound that perfectly matched the darkness of their room.
NOTE: I know it's short, but the first chapter is imminent! I just have to fix up the (many) issues pointed out by my beloved and highly respected beta.
Also, I'd like to dedicate this prologue (and the fact of its posting) to Baggins18 and WaityKatie, who kicked my ass into gear.
PS peoples, have I told you how motivated reviews make me? (Maybe once or twice, right?) :) Thanks for reading!