The Serpents' Child

Chapter 44

July 1997

Hermione stood in front of her bed, standing over the little beaded bag on the covers, determining if there was anything else she should put in it. Thanks to an Untraceable Extension charm, which may or may not have been found in a book in a section of her parents' library that dabbled in everything from the slightly grey area of Magic to the downright Dark, she had managed to fit four suitcases worth of things inside the bag that was only slightly larger than her head, and the weight was almost non-existent, due to an Untraceable Weight Reducing spell found in the same book. She'd packed enough muggle clothes to last for a few months without having to wash a single item, packed the same for both Harry and Ron; made copies of many books from the libraries of Lestrange and Malfoy manors; stocked up on medical supplies and potion ingredients which were all carefully held under Preservation spells; and had everything she could think of that might be needed for camping. Now she just had to get out of the Manor.

Someone knocked on her door. Before she answered, she sealed the beaded bag and hid it under the covers, sitting down next to it, picking up a book to make it look like she had been reading. "Come in."

The door opened and Bellatrix entered, wearing a dark green evening dress with long sleeves. Life out of Azkaban had been good for her, and she had regained her curvaceous figure and beautiful complexion that she had had before prison. "Good evening." Hermione returned the greeting stiffly. "Are you joining us for dinner?" Hermione knew that she'd have to; she'd never missed a dinner when she'd been at the Manor before – the last thing she wanted to do on the night she was running away to become a Blood Traitor, would be to make her fanatical parents suspicious.

"Yes, I'll be down shortly, I just need to change." Hermione stood up, walking over to her walk-in closet and browsing through her eveningwear section.

"It's just us three and the Malfoys, nothing too fancy will be needed." Bellatrix sat down on the bed, almost exactly where her daughter had. She crossed her legs femininely, waiting for Hermione to change into something more 'appropriate for evenings'. "Hermione, about Hogwarts-"

"I don't want to talk about it, Bellatrix." She insisted, removing her jeans and top before slipping into the navy spaghetti strapped floor-length dress. She changed her shoes into low-heeled pumps and then walked back into her bedroom. She went over to the vanity table, sat down and started brushing her hair.

"Understood." Was all Bellatrix said.

"Who was that man yesterday? The one with the wild hair, outside the library?"

Bellatrix's face darkened. "You don't need to bother with him."

"Why did you call him a 'snatcher'?"

"You don't need to know that. It won't concern you." She shifted on the bed a little, her hip only millimetres from brushing against the bag hidden under the duvet. She regarded her daughter. "I still don't understand why you cut your hair off today."

"I didn't cut it all off; I just had some of the length taken off."

She scoffed, standing up and walking over to the vanity table, stroking her daughter's new hairstyle. "Some of the length? Your almost waist-length hair is now only just to your shoulders. Why did you have it cut off? It was so lovely before. I'm not saying that this isn't lovely, I just think that-"

"Come on, we have to go downstairs." Hermione interrupted, standing up.


Hermione was already awake when her wand started vibrating wildly under her pillow, letting her know that it was 3am. She hadn't been able to sleep at all that night. She let out a long breath through her nose, sitting up and throwing the covers off her. She dressed herself in the darkness and silence, the lack of other sounds in the room making her own breaths sound like a hurricane with each exhale. Once she was finished, she pulled her hair back in a low ponytail, grabbed the beaded bag, checked it all through and plucked her wand from under her pillow, setting her room to rights with a single wave and incantation.

She slipped out of the room with only the tiniest of sounds from the door handle, pulling it closed with the same amount of noise. On her feet were soft trainers that barely made any sound as she crept down the corridors. Logically, she knew that she could run down the corridor wearing tap dancing shoes and banging on the doors and her parents still wouldn't hear her, since their room was at the other end of the house to hers, but the adrenaline coursing through her system made her need to be quiet, desperate to get out of the house.

As she arrived at the top of the staircase that led down into the main foyer, she hurried down to the door, opening it quietly and slipping out. It was a little chilly, but other than that, the weather was unexceptional. Didn't weather normally become dramatic for dramatic events? Running down the gravel path that led to the boundaries of Lestrange Manor's land, she kept her eyes open for anything that might interfere with her plan. As the boundary approached, she started to slow as she saw that her plan was working so far.

On the other side of the magical boundary stood Ginny Weasley, wearing exactly the same clothes as Hermione, her hair also now cut shorter. Hermione stepped through the boundaries, and then took Ginny's hand, stepping back through with the younger girl. Lestrange Manor's wards were fairly simple. Anyone who wasn't an 'approved guest' could only step onto the grounds with the permission of one of the residents. After that, they would be free to come and go as they pleased, until the residents deemed otherwise.

"Have you got everything?" Hermione asked.

"All my supplies, plus the final ingredient for you."

"I've got the same." Both girls reached into their identical bags and pulled out identical small chests. They exchanged them and looked inside. Inside the box that Hermione had been given lay a braid of long ginger hair. Ginny's box held a braid of brown hair. Hermione closed the chest and pulled out another one, placing it on the ground between them and opening it. "This is your supply, a year's worth. My supply is in my bag." She pulled out two vials, handing one to Ginny. "The chests?" Ginny crouched down too, putting the two chests on the damp ground and opening both. Hermione reached over to the ginger braid and pulling a little hair off it, putting it into the vial she held. Ginny plucked a hair from the brown braid and added it to her vial.

"Cheers." Ginny joked, clinking their vials together. Both girls took large gulps from their vials and then waited. "That doesn't taste that bad."

"Apparently the increased knotgrass makes it slightly more edible."

"Two uses." They laughed, although anxiety hid behind it. They packed away their chests, making sure to get the right chests. They stood up and waited a few seconds. "This is slow-acting."

"Takes a few more seconds. A downside to the knotgrass. Slower wearing off, though. We'll feel tingling when it starts to wear off, so make sure that you take another swig the moment you feel it."

"Okay-Whoa! I think it's starting."

Both their faces started to change, their bodies altering under their matching clothes. Hermione grew a few inches; Ginny shrank. Ginny's curves became more pronounced; Hermione slimmed down. Less than ten seconds later, both girls felt like they were looking into a mirror at themselves.

"I think it worked." Ginny, who looked like Hermione, commented, amazed at the results.

Hermione, who looked like Ginny, smiled. "Not a bad effort." She glanced at her watch. "Okay, off we go." The girls embraced each other, holding on for a few seconds before separating. "We'll both be fine, we've prepared ourselves well."

Ginny, who was now Hermione, smiled back. "Best of luck…Ginny." She teased.

"The same to you, Hermione." With that, they both went their separate ways; the new Hermione headed up the path to Lestrange Manor, and the new Ginny stepped over the ward boundaries and Apparated to the Weasley Burrow.

'Now it begins.'