Summary: With the help of the Enterprise crew, Hermione Granger locates her target. Unfortunately, or perhaps fortunately, before everything is over more secrets are revealed and confessions made.
AN: Takes place almost a month into the future. A lot has happened between then and now. Will be touched upon through references.
AN: Post the movie Star Trek: Reboot/AOS/IX/2009. Please note this is just after Reboot ends, most of the episodes of TOS have not taken place (Kirk is in his 30s in TOS). The AOS crew will not be as familiar with weirdness as the TOS crew. For example nu!Kirk has not met Tremayne (Squire of Gothos). The AOS crew are used to alien races with advanced tech and one or two unusual abilities, not an entire spectrum.
~ooO Reaching for the Stars 2 Ooo~
Waiting in the transporter room, Jim Kirk tapped his PADD more forcefully than necessary. Every instinct screamed at him to join the away team. In the three weeks since Hermione Granger's arrival the Enterprise had managed to track Dolohov to the Sierra system using human intel (extracted from various spaceship crews, space stations and ports using liquor and Veriteserum) and science (Spock's modified tricorders and sensors). Unfortunately, the Sierra system had been claimed by the Klingon Empire. In fact, there was a Klingon trading outpost on Sierra V.
"Why this system?" Jim murmured out loud. "All his past targets have been human or Federation worlds."
"He might be spreading out, Captain," Scotty pointed out. "The lass said Dolohov hates non-magicals. Aliens dinna do magic."
"He plans to do more than that," Hermione announced as she and Spock strode into the transporter room. Spock wore his usual science-officer uniform, phaser and tricorder snugly resting in the belt around his waist. Hermione's long flared skirt and tunic-style blouse were topped with a long leather trench coat made of some blue-black reptilian hide and matching boots. "He intends to cause a slaughter using Imperiused humans."
Scotty and Jim stared at the witch, horrified. Seeing their expression she expanded. "The Klingons will be justly outraged by humans attacking a claimed populated world. If he managed to steal any Starfleet tech it will most certainly be planted. With no living witnesses and lots of evidence, what do you think the Empire will do?"
"They'll declare war on the Federation," Jim concluded numbly.
"A war that will bleed both the Federation and the Empire. A war where death, destruction and chaos will go unnoticed, or be blamed on the opponent."
"How certain are you?" Jim wanted to know.
"Ninety-six point seven one percent," Spock murmured.
Jim turned to Spock. "Have you found him?"
Spock shook his head. "Sensors have failed to detect him but Miss Granger pointed out he could be hiding behind shielding wards. She can detect and break them but she has to be on the surface to do so."
The intercom chimed. Jim moved towards the console and tapped it. "Kirk here."
It was Uhura. "Captain, there have been reports of escalating violence between the Klingons and various merchant vessel crews on the planet. I have suggested the merchant captains pick up their crew members and leave orbit, but they have refused and we have no legal grounds to order them to do so. It is not a war-zone, not yet." Uhura's voice was grim.
Jim considered the information. "Uhura, inform Giotto to prepare two additional security teams to join Spock." He tapped the intercom, closing the channel, and turned to Hermione. "Are you sure I can't change your mind about this?"
Her expression was gentle but unyielding. "No. Your crew cannot handle Dolohov. I have to be there or he'll escape and re-start this whole mess."
Jim stared at her with a naked, vulnerable look. For three seconds he just stared at her before coming to a decision. Five steps later he was in front of her.
She had accused him of flirting, of playing with her, with any attractive female. In the three weeks she had been on board he had worked to prove otherwise. And in the course of those three weeks Jim 'Tomcat' Kirk had found himself falling hard and fast for her. It had started out as a game and now a terrified Jim found himself torn between the primitive instinct to keep her safe and the need to protect his crew and the Federation.
He had to trust her. He had to trust and believe in her ability to look after herself.
He cupped her face in his hands, ignoring her questioning look and bending down to kiss her thoroughly, uncaring of their audience. It was not the best place or the best time for a heart-felt confession but he needed to do this.
Reluctantly Jim broke the kiss and shifted his hands down to her shoulders, drawing her close against him. He pressed his forehead against hers, tips of their noses rubbing against each other.
"Come back to me."
It was not a request. It was an order.
For a fractional second he felt her stiffen against him before softening and subtly yielding. Her response was soft but audible in the quiet. "I will."
Jim moved his hands down over her arms, sliding his right hand down to keep a grip on her left as he turned towards his First Officer. "Look after her Spock."
If the Vulcan had suspected, or if he was surprised, he did not show it. "I will, Captain."
Jim Kirk stepped back and watched his First Officer and not-quite girlfriend step onto the transporter pad. He inhaled deeply. He didn't want to do this, but he had to. So he gave the order.
Hermione sat in the tiny cramped waiting room, waiting for Spock to finish his meeting with colony governor. She had been in slight shock since they had transported down to Sierra V. Since Jim Kirk had kissed her and ordered her to return to him. Since she had agreed to his demand. While the Vulcan worked his diplomacy, Hermione let her mind wander back over what had brought them to this point.
It was just one moment that had led her here. One moment, six months ago, when her usual determination had been weakened by the overwhelming situation in which she had found herself. Newly arrived through the Mist, she had no allies and few resources in this dimension and no idea where to secure them. At the end of her rope, she had decided to take a break and spend the evening out. She chose a lounge advertised on the public transit info boards. And that very evening she had met Christopher Pike.
He was the first one in this strange new world whom she had trusted to keep her secrets. He pulled strings to give her a legal identity and background. When it became clear Dolohov was off-planet he had recommended the Enterprise as a base for her operations. Once she saw the logic he had arranged for the necessary clearance and mission assignments. He advised her to be more open with the senior staff, the Captain, about herself and her task. She had taken him on his word and had not been disappointed by the Enterprise crew.
And then there was James Kirk. He was a hound dog, a flirt, a chaser. Hermione had seen videos and pictures (and overheard a few stories) of his past lovers and girlfriends, each and every one brilliant and beautiful. Hermione knew she was brilliant, but felt that she fell short in the second category. She did not trust his interest in her. She had experience with males seeking to use her. But for one moment she had changed her usual response to him, one moment where she had allowed herself to weaken and be a woman instead of an Unspeakable on a mission.
She honestly had not expected him to be so persistent and unshakable. She had refused his dinner invitation the first night, and the second, and the third. Instead of accepting her preference he had chosen to join her at breakfast and lunch. Without invitation. On the sixth day she had been feeling low and disheartened, so when he had made his usual offer for dinner she had uncharacteristically conceded and accepted his invitation.
One moment that resulted in her falling in love, and being loved with an intensity and devotion she had never believed she would find. James Kirk loved her: wounds, neuroses, scars, and all. He was not intimidated by or afraid of her magic, her intelligence, or her knowledge-obsessive mentality. He was comfortable letting her fly high and free in skies he could never reach. He did not feel a need to pull her down and chain her to him. They had never said the words out loud but Hermione knew.
Her resolve hardened. She would find Dolohov and deal with him. Once he was no longer a threat, she would have accomplished her mission. She would be free to live her life as she chose; and if it was a life with James Kirk, so much the better.
"Miss Granger." Spock's voice brought her out of her thoughts.
She stood up and moved towards the Vulcan. "How did the Governor react?"
The corners of Spock's lips turned down in a faint frown. "Badly. He refuses to believe that Dolohov is on Sierra V. It doesn't fit the Anti-Tech terrorist's usual M.O."
Hermione sighed. "Klingons see other races the same way Dolohov does. To win their respect and trust we must first prove our strength. In battle."
Spock looked slightly grim. "I believe we will have plenty of opportunity to prove our strength to Kargh, son of Mbrak."
Brown eyes sharpened. "Why? Did you hear something?"
"Governor Kargh received a communiqué during our meeting. The primary hydropower plant is under attack by an unidentified enemy."
Hermione reached out and gripped his forearm, pulling him along as she hurried out of the Governor's Building. Once they were out in the open air and sure of not being overheard she slowed down. "Where is it?"
Spock pulled up a local map on his tricorder, magnifying a certain sector marked with an X. "Here."
Hermione studied the map as she reached under her coat to pull out two matte-black poles around an inch in diameter and as long as her forearm. "I'm going to Apparate there. Inform the Enterprise and transport over as soon as you can."
And before Spock could protest she vanished with a soft pop.
Resisting the urge to swear softly Spock tapped his communicator. "Spock to Enterprise."
The familiar voice of Nyota Uhura answered. "Enterprise here."
"We have the location of an in-progress incident. Miss Granger has left to confirm whether Dolohov is present."
"Understood, Commander. Prepare for transport."
Hermione Apparated into chaos. The stench of burned flesh, spilled blood and voided bowels nearly made her throw up. Nearly being the keyword.
She ignored the bodies, the injured, dying and dead. She had one target and one target alone: Antonin Dolohov. She stunned three humans - a man and two women - who were attacking a female Klingon civilian and used Enervate and Legilimens to extract the information she needed. The man had seen Dolohov only two hours ago. Dolohov would still be around, if only to re-cast Imperius and cause more damage. Klingons seemed to be more resistant to spells and were relentless fighters, even the 'soft' civilian ones.
Hermione cast a wandless Stupefy and turned to the Klingon woman.
"Yes?" Her voice was calm, almost idle as she activated the enchantments on the metallic batons, transfiguring them into miniature scythes, ever-sharp unbreakable kamas.
"Who are you? What are you doing-"
The Klingon's question was cut off by the sound of an explosion and the roar of rushing water. Hermione moved, running towards the explosions. If the dam was fully breached the colony down-river would be wiped out in the flash flood.
She was not surprised to find the Klingon female running beside her. "Who are you?"
"I am Hermione, daughter of Jean."
They reached the mesh fence between the power station and the dam. Hermione paused to lash out with both kamas. The fencing split and fell apart. Without hesitation she stepped through, the Klingon following her.
"And your name?" the witch asked without turning.
"Freika, daughter of Halda."
Hermione flashed a smile at the Klingon. "Well met, Freika, daughter of Halda. Today might be a good day to die, but I would prefer if our enemies did that."
She stopped near the edge of the cliff where the dam began. The dam was damaged, but not irreparably. Her first instinct was to undo the damage, to Reparo the cracks, but something made her stop. There was something wrong. Something Not Right. She stilled and allowed her magic to expand around her. There! She lashed out with one kama, the other raised for the second blow.
Red iron-rich liquid spilled out of nowhere. Then a mortally wounded human appeared out of thin air, landing heavily on the ground before her, gasping and dying.
Hermione kicked the bastard onto his back and knelt down, placing the sharp point of her dagger against his carotid artery.
"Where is Dolohov?" Her voice was colder than the depths of space.
Red froth bubbled in the dying man's mouth. "Near."
She stood and crushed the dying man's throat with her booted foot even as she sheathed one of her scythe-like weapons at her hip. Hermione had learnt through hard experience to never leave an enemy at her back, even a dying one. She could have used a dagger to cut his throat but Klingons only used blades on only admired and worthy enemies. This fool was neither admirable nor worthy. She made a gesture, shaking her right hand and a slender length of wood appeared in her hand.
Freika watched as the human did something that caused odd glowing letters to appear in mid-air, twisting and reforming into something she did not understand.
"You should inform your warriors that your hospitals and schools will Dolohov's next targets."
Freika was torn. On one hand she did not want to let this anomaly, this odd human, wander around unescorted. On the other hand Freika did have an obligation to her House, her community. If the human was right…
She turned and ran. Once the Governor was informed Freika would be back to witness the battles of Hermione, daughter of Jean.
Hermione was faintly relieved when the Klingon woman left. She did not want any witnesses if at all possible.
She inhaled deeply and gathered her focus for a short Apparition hop. It failed. She opened her eyes with a sense of satisfaction. The security team had evidently finished setting up the Anti-Apparition and Anti-Portkey ward stones. She pressed harder and smiled when she felt her magic meet resistance. Dolohov.
Just then she heard the familiar cultural curses of a thwarted Pureblood wizard vocalized in loud angry tones, coming from somewhere nearby. She turned and started jogging towards the resistance and the source of the shouts. If Dolohov wanted to get away from her he would have to run to escape the five kilometre perimeter set up by the Enterprise crew.
He was trapped.
"Come out, come out, wherever you are!" she called.
"Mudblood." The voice was thick with contempt.
Her smile broadened at the familiar taunt before she responded in kind. "Death Eater."
She sheathed her kama and pulled out several vials from her belt pack, tucking each one between the fingers of her left hand. The first chance she got, Dolohov was going down.
He was sneering as he stepped out from around the rubble of a building. He looked fit but feral. His physical condition had improved since his escape, but Hermione was quite certain his mental condition had deteriorated badly. His dark brown hair hung limply around his face, his skin was pasty with dark bruises around sunken dark blue eyes, lines etched on his face. He was wearing full black long-sleeved robes, wand out and ready.
The Ministry had not given up on using the dementors to guard Azkaban. The new Head of the Department of Magical Law Enforcement had insisted on additional magical security measures, installed and maintained by teams of mages and goblins, to reduce the chance of a breakout. Of course it had not worked, but Hermione strongly suspected that a sympathizer within the Ministry had helped the escapees.
She raised her own wand, angling her body to reduce her profile. "Dolohov." Her voice was courteous and even. As though he had never destroyed her world. As though his capture or death was not her driving purpose.
His voice held nothing but contempt. "Mudblood."
She did not allow him to bait her. They stared at each other like two gunslingers, each waiting for the other to make the first move.
He broke first.
And then there were flashes of coloured light and shouts in ancient obscure tongues as the two of them duelled, each trying to get an advantage, to take out the other.
Jim Kirk, on the Bridge, resisted the urge to pace. He glanced at Uhura. "Any word from Spock?"
"Nothing as yet Captain," she said, then stiffened, listening to something in her earpiece. "Wait, I've got something." She turned to Jim. "Spock has modified the tricorders to feed data into an open channel. We have video and audio."
Jim hurried over to Uhura's station. "On screen here," he ordered.
Wordlessly she held out an earpiece for audio. Jim accepted the device and slipped it on as Uhura pressed a sequence of buttons. Three screens lit up, displaying video from different angles: wide angle and close-ups of the almost cinematic battle between Hermione Granger and Antonin Dolohov.
Hermione inhaled sharply as she rolled, avoiding the Bone Crushing hex, and came up on her knee to shoot off a Sectumsempra.
She could sense the heavy magic saturating the air. Light, dark, violence, lethal intent, rage, hate… it was a toxic cocktail that suffocated her and set Dolohov on a chemical high.
But she refused to let it stop her. She had vowed to end the threat he posed. She would do it or die. She hated the thought of how that would hurt James, but her sense of duty would not let her act otherwise.
"Scotty, is it possible to get a transporter lock on her?"
"Nay, Captain. There are too many power fluctuations for a good transporter lock. And the way the lassie is moving… It wouldna be a wise idea Captain."
"Spock, any suggestions?"
"Nothing at this point Captain. Anyone who steps in will only be a target and distraction. I have ordered the security teams to detain all others present since they are most likely Dolohov's unwitting accomplices."
McCoy moved to stand beside him. "She won't be happy if you interfere, if you don't let her finish this. She gave up her world to be the one to take Dolohov out," he pointed out in a low voice.
Jim knew Bones was right. He couldn't pull her out, not now. As much as he hated seeing her in danger, she wouldn't be Hermione if she didn't fight her own battles. Besides there was no guarantee the security teams could do a better job against a psychotic murderous wizard.
There was nothing else to do but wait and watch and pray.
He was slipping now, making careless mistakes. Mistakes that she exploited ruthlessly. The Death Eater was lacerated and bleeding badly from several cuts that resisted his efforts at healing spells. She was certain his ribs and left side were bruised badly, the left knee possibly wrenched.
He was clearly tiring as well. He did not have the energy for any big spells either. His repertoire had become more basic and less energy-intensive, though no less dangerous. He was calculating his words now instead of using simple generic taunts, trying to get her to lose focus.
"You are a fool Granger!"
She did not respond.
"You've exiled yourself, chasing me into this world! You can't go back!"
She responded with a Bone-Breaker that was blocked by a hastily levitated slab of masonry.
"But then again, you have no one to go back to, do you? No one wanted you! No wizard would willingly marry a barren witch!"
On the Enterprise Uhura tensed and looked at Jim Kirk. Her mouth opened then closed. She wanted to know but was hesitant to ask.
Jim pretended not to see and instead focused on the additional data being transmitted from the away teams. He remembered the first break in their careful choreographed dance… when she had returned from a medical appointment with Bones, a look of mingled relief and grief on her face. It was then that she had confessed the truth of her situation, that she had no way home, the real reason why she made the decision to leave her world behind and track down Dolohov: because if she didn't there would be no justice, only a rising body count.
The taunts had become personal, painful. Still, she refused to rise to his bait and responded with Augmenti followed by Glacis. He was out of her line of sight but she must have hit him because he cried out. She followed up with a Reducto to destroy his shelter, and had to duck herself to avoid his Blood Boiling curse.
He laughed gleefully. "I'm right, aren't I? Unworthy, undesired, unwanted! I bet the blood traitor cast you off when he found out. You weren't worthy of sacrificing his lineage. No wizard wants a witch who can't give him heirs."
And it was true. No one has suspected that the Purple Flames curse Dolohov had used on Hermione in the Department of Mysteries had a secondary side-effect. Only an expert in the Dark Arts would have known, and the wizarding world shied away from anything related to the Dark Arts, even knowledge that could save lives. Hermione had taken the whole summer after her Fifth Year to recover, but no one had thought to do a complete follow-up examination for other, more subtle, effects.
The lingering poison of the Purple Flames curse had damaged and scarred her womb and ovaries in the weeks after she had been subjected to the curse. Damage that had only been detected months after the Final Battle - far too late to do any good. When she finally returned to complete her Seventh Year Madame Pomfrey had insisted on a thorough check-up and had detected the scarred tissue. She had tried to heal the damage but it resisted all magical treatment, spells and potions.
Hermione had been devastated. She had not planned on having children right after graduating, but she had always planned on having at least two when she was older and settled. Now that the dream was forever denied to her, she had mourned the loss. What had nearly destroyed her was Ron's reaction to her plight: he had broken up with her. Harry had been furious. Ginny's defence of Ron had resulted in Harry breaking up with her in turn.
After that, Harry and Hermione had refused all invitations to the Burrow and minimized their interactions with the Weasley family. Luna's company had been a welcome relief, and when eventually she and Harry had started dating, Hermione had been truly happy for them even as it made her own situation more bitter. They had married when Harry graduated from the Auror Academy, and a year later Hermione had stood godmother to their little boy. When she left, Matthew Potter was two years old and looking forward to his yet-to-be-born sibling.
Now, Hermione choked back tears, striving not be distracted by Dolohov's vicious words. She did not know - would never know - if Luna had a boy or a girl. Her heart raced with sudden fury. It was this bastard's fault that she was here, far away from Harry and Luna and all the people who cared for her.
"Oh, dear," came Dolohov's voice, dripping with mock sympathy. "Have I hurt your feelings? I do apologize, how dreadful of me."
She forced her pulse to slow, pushed her emotions aside. She needed to finish this quickly. She sheathed her wand and unhooked her kamas. The matte metal warmed as she focused her magic through them like crude wands. Then she pushed her magic out to locate Dolohov.
There! Hiding behind the walk-in storage crate.
She lashed out with the kamas, pushing nearly all her magic through them. Twin crescents of blue light flashed from the blades and flew through the air, cutting cleanly through the metal. She barely managed to keep from falling to her knees. One spell had drained nearly half her reserves. Ordinarily the cutting hexes could not penetrate metal or stone, but Hermione had devised a heavy-duty variant version of the spell that focused the essence of wind and light through the edge of a cutting implement.
She heard his scream but did not trust that he was completely incapacitated.
She sheathed one kama and drew her wand. Holding both weapons up and at the ready, she moved towards the oversized metal crate now lying in pieces, as though cut by a giant wielding a knife.
Dolohov was also in pieces. His wand-arm lay several feet away from him on the stony ground, his intact hand scrabbling for his wand on the ground. Blood from the stump was pooling under him and expanding rapidly. The crescent blades had cut a large chunk out of his right thigh and hip as well. She could see exposed bone and sliced muscle. He said nothing but glared at her, breath whistling through teeth clenched against the pain.
She stood looking down at him. "You are a fool, Dolohov. Magical and twentieth-century Muggle medicine could do nothing for me, but twenty-third century medical science and Starfleet's doctors have healed all the damage caused by your curse."
"Liar," he managed to gasp out.
She smirked at his look of frustrated fury. "Oh, no. It is truly quite remarkable. Science has advanced to the point that - at least in some cases - it easily beats magic. Doctor Piper cloned and grew new tissue to graft and repair the scar tissue your curse caused. He reassured me I will have no problem conceiving or bearing children once I am ready to do so. The Enterprise CMO has confirmed the diagnosis as well."
Dark blue eyes widened in shock then narrowed with hatred. She felt his gathering intent before he voiced the curse and rapidly cast the strongest shielding charms she knew.
"Fiend Fyre!" he shouted with all the strength left in his dying body.
Blue and red flames burst from his wand tip. She held up crossed arms to protect her face and turned away slightly. She shaped the shields to protect her exposed skin, her head and hands. The flames washed over her, skimming the protective bubble less than an inch from her skin. Her long skirt burst into fire near the hem and the material burned up towards her waist. Her protective shield was strongest just over her flesh and lost strength more than one inch away. Luckily, the skin tight dragonhide pants and vest she wore underneath protected her. She did not let the fact she was on fire distract her as she cast the experimental runes she had developed to cage and contain the living flames.
If she had had more energy, or enough warning to prepare a proper container, or a partner, the flames could have been contained until it was safe to let them free to burn. Unfortunately she was alone and tired and without a containment unit. She couldn't contain the flames much longer. She could only redirect them, so she did. Towards the one who had ignited them.
Antonin Dolohov screamed as the fires consumed his clothing, his flesh, his hair.
Hermione expanded the haft of her kama until it resembled a full-sized scythe and brought it down it like an executioner's blade.
The screams stopped. Dolohov's head bounced once before rolling away from his corpse.
Wordlessly she ended the enchantment and restored the scythe to its smaller size. Wearily she turned around - and froze. All around her, surrounding the duelling zone, were Starfleet personnel and Klingons. Perhaps it was a good thing there was no Ministry of Magic around to charge her with breaking the Statute of Secrecy.
Carefully she sheathed her wand and rehooked her kama on her hips before slipping out of her dragonhide coat. The scraps of burnt fabric that used to be her skirt and shirtfront fell off. She brushed off the charred ashes of the parts of her blouse that had not been protected by dragonhide and shrugged out of the rest to reveal a high-necked dragonhide vest, its two separate pieces (front and back) laced up the sides with rows of hook closures at the shoulders. Her pants were made of the same material, with laced closings at the sides from the waist to just below the curve of her hips. As she stretched and moved small glimpses of pale skin could be seen between the lacings.
She picked up her jacket and slipped her arms into the sleeves, settling the material on her shoulders, smoothing the panels. Now she was completely covered except for her head and hands. She did have a detachable hood and gloves in her trunks though. She had not thought Dolohov would be insane enough to use Fiendfyre in front of so many witnesses. But then again, the inner-circle Death Eaters were insane and amoral.
Now only one question remained. What in Merlin's name was she supposed to tell the Klingons? How was she going to explain this to the them?
Luckily, she had a champion among them. Freika pushed through the warriors with a fierce exultant teeth-baring grin. "Hermione, daughter of Jean."
Hermione inclined her head and reciprocated the acknowledgment. "Freika, daughter of Halda."
"You have battled your enemy, the cur responsible for the cowardly attack on the trading post."
"You wrenched your victory, his life, from him with your two hands, with your blades."
It was the truth. "Yes."
Freika turned to her fellow Klingons. "The daughter of Jean has won her battle against an enemy that would have killed most Klingons. She faced him across the killing ground with her weapons, her strength, her blade." Freika spat upon Dolohov's corpse. "This petaQ led the humans responsible for the attack upon our people, our fallen. And this human woman has avenged them!"
"Battle mage!" Hermione wasn't sure who first said it but the phrase was picked up and echoed throughout the ranks of the Klingons present and eventually even shouted by the Starfleet personnel.
"Battle mage! Battle mage! Battle mage! Battle mage! Battle mage!"
An older Klingon male made his way to the front to stand before her. The Klingons fell silent. "You were with the Starfleet Vulcan."
Recognizing the Klingon Governor, Hermione inclined her head. "Yes."
Kargh glared at the charred headless corpse. "And this ptark?"
"My enemy, my target, my mission."
He made a scoffing sound. "The Federation is soft! They do not sanction executions!"
She looked up at him. "I could kill you where you stand right now and none of you could stop me. But why should I? It is too easy." Kargh was taken aback by her words. "But there is no honour in victory won on an unequal battlefield," she went on. "There is no challenge when victory is guaranteed. Victory is not victory unless it is won through blood, sweat, and tears."
She turned to look upon each Klingon present. "Antonin Dolohov was an old enemy. I fought him when I was fifteen and he cursed me. I battled him when I was eighteen, and I won, and he was imprisoned. When he escaped and fled, my superiors ordered me to stop him by any means necessary. I followed him into exile across the Mists because he was an honourless dog who sought to spread hate and destruction. I tracked him down like prey because he and his kind are my prey. I cut him down like a rabid beast because he was one. I feel no shame. I am proud. My enemy is dead! My House, my people, my allies are safe!"
The Klingons roared in approval, raising their own unsheathed blades into the air.
Kargh inclined his head. "Well fought, Hermione, daughter of Jean, First battle mage of this Age. You bring honour to your House, your people. If you were one of us, Kahless will welcome you in Sto'Vo'Kor."
Hermione bowed shallowly from the waist. "I am honoured."
Sharp brown eyes bored into hers. "You said you crossed the Mists."
Hermione inclined her head. "Yes."
"From when and where?"
"The past." Her face filled with grief. "My kin are gone, my lands lost, but my memories and honour remain."
"And what will you do now that your Quest is concluded, Hermione, daughter of Jean?"
"I will live and honour their memories."
"Ah." He turned around to look at each of the witnesses, Klingon and human alike. "Let it be known. From this day Hermione, daughter of Jean, is ally to Kargh, son of Mbrak." The few shocked expressions and grumbles of dismay were drowned out by the resounding roar of approval. In a lower voice Kargh continued. "We will feast today. Join us at my table and share your tales of battle."
Hermione inclined her head. "I am honoured. But first I must make my report to Captain Kirk and Admiral Pike, that Dolohov is no more."
Kargh nodded. "Very good. Make your report, then join us, Hermione, daughter of Jean. We will feast, share tales and drink bloodwine into the morning light!"
Hermione bowed and stepped back, then turned to walk slowly towards Spock. The Vulcan looked both irate and awed.
"What did you just do?"
"Laid the first stones of an alliance with the Klingons."
"You revealed Classified information!"
Hermione shrugged. "They may be classified to Starfleet personnel but not to me. I told Admiral Pike I would share my truths with those I chose."
"But why the Klingons?" Spock wanted to know.
"I suppose you would not know." She enjoyed his confusion for a moment - there were so few things Spock didn't know - before taking pity on him. "Klingons have mage blood. Freika and Kargh would be classified as squibs. They do not have a dense enough magical core to manipulate the energy, but they have the other attributes such as resistance to magic, fast healing, longevity, sensitivity, and instincts. It is possible there are full-blown magicals in the Klingon Empire. Or they may have died off a century or so back. But they still remember. They honour me with a title reserved for their magical warriors: Battle Mage."
Spock rocked back on his metaphorical heels. "We must inform the Captain and Admiral Pike."
Hermione did not disagree with that. She waited and watched as Spock gave Lt Giotto instructions before joining her. He tapped his communicator and spoke. "Enterprise, this is Spock. Two to beam up."
Jim was pacing in the transporter room. He had listened to Hermione's interaction with the Klingon Governor of the planet, his unheard of invitation… to Feast at a Warrior's table.
It was the one reason why the Federation had failed to even begin diplomatic interactions with the Empire: Federation diplomats were not warriors. The Federation Council had tried appointing a suitable Starfleet Admiral to the position but it had not worked. Klingons respected only those who had taken the life of an enemy in personal combat, with a blade. Most Starfleet Admirals fought their battles at a distance with photon torpedoes, or very rarely with phasers, never knives or swords.
Once Pike knew Hermione had an in with the Klingons he would push to appoint her as Ambassador. A full treaty was still likely decades away, but the first step had been taken. He was proud and afraid. Proud of her accomplishment and what it would mean for the Federation. Afraid because it would put her on a path away from him.
He watched the shimmer of the transporter beam build then fade to reveal Spock and Hermione on the pad. She looked tired and weary. Her outfit was suspiciously dark and gleaming wet in spots.
He saw her sway unsteadily as she stepped off the pad, Spock reaching out to grip her shoulder. Then he was there as she collapsed against him. Reflexively he wrapped his arms around her to keep her upright. "You're exhausted."
She murmured something indistinct. Jim took it as agreement.
"You're not going to do that again."
She lifted her head from his shoulder to meet his eyes. "I will. If I have to, I will."
He tightened his grip around her. "You're probably going to be assigned as Ambassador to the Klingon Empire."
She shrugged. "Perhaps. But the usual methods will not work. To win enough prestige to be invited to the Chancellor's table my name must be known. I must fight and win many battles." She touched his cheek with a small smile. "Such opportunity is more readily found on an exploration mission. I'm sure Admiral Pike will agree."
Jim drew her close and buried his face in her neck. She smelled of smoke, blood and sweat. Reluctantly he drew away. "Come on. I'm sure Bones will want to give you a check-up before you rest."
Hermione sighed internally but conceded to his implicit order. "Yes. And I need my leathers cleaned for the dinner invitation. I'm afraid it will have to be done by hand."
Jim did not hesitate to delegate the task. "I'll get one of the Yeomen to do it." He turned to Spock. "Can you start the preliminary report for Starfleet? I'll join you once I've dropped Hermione off in Sick Bay."
"Affirmative, Captain." Spock acknowledged the order before exiting the transporter room.
Scotty stepped around from behind the console and smiled at the couple. "Welcome back, lassie."
Hermione grinned at the Scot. The familiar brogue of a land she grew up in. "It's good to be back, Scotty." And then she allowed James to take her to Sick Bay.
She had potions she could use but she preferred to be treated by local means. It might take longer, but she would heal. Once her potions were gone, they were gone for good since she had not determined a local source of magical ingredients. Perhaps the Klingon Empire might be able to help with that. A trade on restricted goods in return for magical or enchanted objects, perhaps? Nothing dangerous, just knick-knacks that could become family heirlooms. It was a possibility. She needed to talk to Freika to determine the exact stance Klingons had on magicals. And if a black-ops operation (sanctioned or not) moved to control her and duplicate her abilities, perhaps the Klingon Empire could be a potential refuge.
There was so much to research and consider, but right now all Hermione wanted was a soft bed and a hot bath. Not necessarily in that order.
Later that same evening, Hermione surveyed her escort in the Enterprise transporter room. He was the only one who would be accompanying her to Governor Kargh's dinner.
He fidgeted, but not as much as he would have in full-dress uniform. He wore his usual on-duty uniform with a few additions: a belt with loops for a tricorder, phaser and a collapsible katana purchased from the same craftsman as Sulu's, knives tucked into his boot sheaths, and wrist holsters with three throwing knives in each.
"I feel overly armed," he grumbled.
"As you should be when going to a Klingon house," she chided as she straightened his collar and cuffs. "If you aren't they'll take it as an insult, signifying that you do not consider them a threat."
He gave her a quick once-over. She wore the same leather pants and boots (now clean and supple with polish) but with a different top, one that looked more like a corset over a fine short-sleeved round-necked shirt. Her arms were bare except for heavy gold coils on her biceps shaped like snakes with bared fangs and pointed tails, jewellery enchanted for endurance and healing; a gift from Adrian. Around her right forearm was a holster consisting of narrow straps and lacings, designed to hold her wand along the inside. The inside of her left forearm was covered with intricate designs that looked like vaguely Oriental script. Around her neck was a heavy gold torc with double bejewelled dragon heads at the base of her throat. Her hair was twisted into an elaborate coronet and pinned back, revealing her fine features bare of make-up, her deceptive fragility. In each ear lobe she wore simple gold studs. Thrust through a loop on each hip were matte black batons, her kamas. Extending above the cuffs of her boots, he could see the leather-wrapped handles of her sais.
She bent to pick up her black leather satchel. The movement emphasized the tempting curves of her bottom and hips. For a moment Jim was tempted to insist she wear the jacket then he discarded the idea and joined her on the pad.
He caught Scotty's eye and gave the order. "Energize."
On Sierra V a group of four Klingons, three males (one older) and one female, waited outside the Governor's Mansion.
The youngest male stiffened upon seeing the white shimmer of a Federation transporter beam. When the beam faded it revealed two humans: the battle mage and a blonde human male.
The mage stepped forward. "Governor Kargh, I am honoured to introduce you to Captain James Kirk of the Federation starship Enterprise."
Kargh started upon hearing the identity of the youth, the captain of Starfleet's flagship. He had seen the images and heard the tales, but to see the Defeater of the Narada in person…
"Captain James Tiberius Kirk, Destroyer of Nero," the Klingon mused. "What an unexpected pleasure." He grinned fiercely. "Battle mage, is James Kirk your chosen mate?"
Kirk stiffened but did not say anything, merely watched, his body shifting into a deceptively casual stance.
Hermione, daughter of Jean, merely nodded. "James Kirk is my mate. In the fullness of time our union will be formalized."
Kargh studied the youth and noted the calm unyielding challenge in bright blue eyes. This one had fire in his heart, a warrior's spirit. "The destroyer of the Narada is a worthy match for the first human Battle Mage."
The mage smiled slightly, baring her teeth in the Klingon way. "My mate, my choice."
Kargh laughed, not taking offence. Klingon females were very protective of their kin, their mates and offspring. Given her warrior spirit it was understandable that the daughter of Jean would be the same.
"Come. Tonight we will feast and share tales of past battles and glories won."
Hermione kept her face pleasantly neutral as she followed the Klingon governor into the dim smoky hall illuminated with recessed lighting and red-tinted lights. She felt a pang of homesickness. The hall with its archaic long table and benches reminded her of the Great Hall at Hogwarts. The dais at the front of the room and its long table were reserved for the Governor and his honoured guests.
She watched the teenage warriors-in-training serve blood wine and stand near the entryways for orders, like squires at a medieval banquet. She sipped the bloodwine. It was strong but nothing she could not handle. She resisted the urge to smile when James coughed on the strong potent liquor. Then an idea struck her.
"Governor Kargh, a gift for your House and your warriors."
The Klingon cocked his head inquiringly. She opened her satchel and pulled out two bottles of golden fluid. One she placed on the head table before Kargh, the other she opened herself and poured two fingers worth into a conjured shotglass.
Steeling her gut she threw it back and blew out a ring of gold sparks.
The Klingons roared with approval.
She held up the bottle. "Fifty-year old Fire whiskey from my ancestral lands. Each bottle contains a keg's worth of liquor." Carefully she refilled her glass and conjured another shotglass for Jim and filled it as well.
Kargh turned to one of the teens standing closest to him. There was a vague familial resemblance, perhaps a grand-son or nephew. Hermione passed the opened bottle to the young man, who carefully poured the liquor into the Governor's tankard before serving the rest of the Klingons at the High Table. While the boy served the other attendees Hermione spoke to the Governor.
"I have few bottles from my lands and lack the means and knowledge to brew replacements in this world."
Kargh cocked his head and smiled toothily. "Perhaps we can come to some accommodation."
Hermione inclined her head. "That would be mutually beneficial."
There was some silence while they waited for all the attendees to be served. When they were done Kargh raised his glass and shouted a Klingon toast echoed by his men.
Hermione raised her own glass with her own toast.
"May your enemies fear your presence, may your blood burn forever, may your spirit drink and do battle beside Kahless in Sto'Vo'Kor!"
Luckily James had the presence of mind to follow her lead. "To honourable battle and victory over your enemies!"
The Klingons roared and downed their drinks. Hermione and James followed suit.
The liquor hit her hard. She grinned broadly. She was free. Dolohov was dead. She had made contact with a race who believed in magic and possibly had their own mages. She had the love of a brilliant intelligent man. She could see the potential of a bright future for all of them. She needed the Klingons to believe, to follow her lead.
She cast a wandless Sonorous and began speaking. Her voice was clear enough to be heard by all those present, even those in the farthest corners of the hall.
"Let me tell you a tale of magic, of battle and victory and loss, of honour and courage and strength, in a land far far away…"
The Klingons roared in approval and settled down on the closest benches to listen. The Federation might lock her up as insane or try to drag her secrets from her but the Klingons wouldn't. Not if she established herself as a warrior and hero in her own right.
"Of three children, two boys and a girl, a Trio who grew up and fought and shed blood and took lives… because it was right, to protect and to champion those who could not, because the ones who ruled would not…"
She moved into the centre of the Hall, so everyone could see her.
"They were children, but make no mistake, they were warriors! They battled against enemies adults feared and fled from… A monstrous Troll the size and strength of three fully-grown Klingon warriors but with the wits of a swaddling child. A basilisk, a sixty-foot long snake twice as thick as the height of the tallest Klingon warrior in this hall and fangs bigger than any bat'leth ever forged, with eyes that petrify and venom as potent as the most powerful of acids…"
She would not forget Harry and Ron and all her magical friends. She wanted to honour them the best way she could. She wanted to honour their courage and strength for taking a stand and fighting for what they believed in. For so long she had contained herself, being so very careful in sharing the truth about her past. It was a relief to share it with those who would listen and believe and approve and applaud. She flashed a reassuring smile at James before turning to her audience.
James Kirk was her love and he believed in the Federation. Hermione knew the Federation had its flaws but there were good and genuine people striving to make the right choices. Right now the Federation was weakened and shaky. They had lost Vulcan and a major percentage of their hulls and experienced personnel. Tensions were rising among the major stellar powerhouses and there was an increasing possibility of war.
But Hermione knew there was strength in unity, and no matter how bad things seemed there was always the risk of something worse just over the horizon. As the wheel turned, fortunes rose and faded, winter followed summer and night followed day. Hermione was determined to make sure her new world was prepared for the storms that lay just beyond the horizon. When it came they would be ready.
But now she had a tale to tell and a myth to weave. Before the night was over these Klingons would believe in Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, in human mages, in the fires of a human spirit. And if it helped her forge stronger ties with the Empire so be it.
Jim watched Hermione weave her magic, using just words and her voice. This was the first time he had heard her tell the full tale of her past and Jim could understand why she had kept parts of it to herself. It was almost fantastical, but his gut told him every word was the literal truth, not metaphor.
As the minutes passed his glass was refilled, first with the Fire whiskey and then with Blood wine. He tried to be conservative but he couldn't help but respond to the enthusiasm of the Klingons around him, their tendency to toast - loudly and enthusiastically - whenever Hermione finished describing a duel or battle.
Jim knew he could not report the tale in its entirety to Starfleet. Then again, perhaps he could, only emphasizing the metaphorical nature of the story…
As Hermione continued Jim became aware of an unexpected emotion. He was proud of Hermione. She might have been born into a comfortable family but she was a fighter, a survivor, just like him. She had done nasty things to survive and felt no need to justify herself to others. She had done what she had to.
At that moment Jim Kirk knew that one day Hermione Granger would become his wife and the mother of his children. The only variable was when.
AN: Am considering the following concept... Many fics, each an alternate timeline based on the same premise (Hermione being sent on a one-way mission); each story would be of her ending in a different dimension. I even have the idea of her no-return mission being to DCverse (hook up with Bruce?) or Marvelverse (hmmm, so many possibilities). But that is an idea for the future. Right now I've got other fics and plots on the go. Sable, feel free to PM me to discuss the details of you working on a timeline, splinter verse.
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