There were three sharp knocks on Minerva's front door. She had been hoping hot to have any distractions this summer, but alas, school was nearly back in session and she had a visitor.
She opened the door to her muggle home just a crack, as it was raining cats and dogs – usual for Scotland. Standing huddled in the doorway was a short woman, wearing a hooded rain coat that completely obscured the wearer's face.
"May I help you..? You're not one of those Jehovah's Witnesses, are you?" Minerva asked impatiently.
"Minerva, please, I need your help." The words came quietly from under the hood, drowned out by the rain, but there was no mistaking the voice beneath.
"And why should I help you, Bellatrix?" Minerva scolded.
"Please, Professor," Bellatrix pleaded. "You were my favourite teacher, I was your favourite student and I need your help, even if it's just listening to what I've got to say." As she said this, she pulled her hood down.
Minerva hesitated for a moment, before opening her door further. She simply couldn't leave a woman who'd been one of her best students out in the pouring rain.
Bellatrix was invited into the living room and given tea. She uttered a 'thank you' after gulping it down gratefully.
"So, Bella, why are you here? What do you need my help with?" The old professor sipped at her tea.
"Professor McGonnagall, you need to believe me when I say that I've changed." At the disbelieving look she was given, she continued. "I had a revelation last week. It was a dream about someone I met less than a year ago. I've been trying not to let it bother me, but I'm positive that My Lord has caught on that something is different about me." Minerva inclined her head, gesturing for her to go on. "The truth of it is, I'm unhappy. I don't like – no – I hate what I've done with my life. In this dream, I was so… happy. It was the happiest feeling I've ever had. I want to feel like that again, Minerva, just not while I'm asleep."
There were a few moments of silence before Minerva placed her tea onto the small table in front of her. "Are you saying you'd like to join the side of the good, Mrs Lestrange?" Bella looked down at her feet and nodded shyly. "Then I believe there's something we can do about that." She stood and walked over to her fireplace, throwing a pinch of Floo powder into the flames and crouching down. "Albus?"
The bearded professor's face appeared in the green flames. "Yes, Minerva?"
"There's someone you need to talk to, may we join you in your office?"
"Why of course."
Once again, a glorious summer had been spent at the Weasley family household: The Burrow. Harry, Ron and Hermione were sitting around a floating, fiery newspaper.
They were all lost in their own thoughts until Hermione spoke.
"I had a funny dream last week."
"What happened?" Harry asked, having a penchant for funny dreams.
Hermione was unsure why she had even blurted that out, this wasn't a topic she'd like to enter with the boys. No backing out now, she thought.
"Well… uh, it was about… Bellatrix." She blushed.
"Bellatrix bloody Lestrange? What was that evil bitch doing inside your head?" Ron's anger made the paper glow a little bit brighter.
"See this is why it was weird… We were married-"
"MARRIED?" Ron shouted, shocked.
"-And I'd just had a baby boy-"
"YOU HAD A BABY?" Ron shouted again.
"-And the war was over, and we were really happy. Our son was named Sebastian Black."
At that moment, Mrs Weasley burst in. "When did Hermione have a baby?"
"No, Molly, it's okay. It was a dream. Ronald is just overreacting." Mrs Weasley nodded slowly and left the room.
"We were really, really happy. I don't think I'd ever felt happier in my life."
Harry spoke now. "Well it was just a dream, right? That doesn't mean anything."
Hermione nodded, "Yeah." Twiddling her wand anxiously, she added. "Just a dream."
"Dinner's ready!" They heart Molly call from downstairs. Hermione was grateful for the break in the awkward silence.
Bellatrix was sitting in a chair in Dumbledore's Hogwats office, both the Headmaster and his Deputy in front of her, staring down at her.
"Albus, how do you know she's telling the truth?"
He picked up a small vial of clear liquid and handed it to Bellatrix. "Mrs Lestrange, if you would please drink this?" She nodded and downed the small dose of Veritaserum.
They watched as her eyes slowly glazed over with a small layer or white, showing that the potion was working.
"Mrs Lestrange, do you honestly speak refuge in the side of the light?"
She nodded. "Yes, sir."
Dumbledore and McGonnagall both pulled up chairs. "Would you care to tell us what was in the dream that changed you."
Bella opened her mouth to speak, then closed it again. "It's personal, Headmaster. I do not wish to share it."
Dumbledore easily delved into her mind and caught a few glimpses of her dream before she pushed him out. "Please sir, respect my privacy."
"I'm sorry, Bellatrix. I just have one more question for you." She nodded. "How happy did the dream make you?"
"Absolutely ecstatic, sir. There are no words in this world to explain my joy."
As Bella's eyes began to regain their normal state, Albus turned to his deputy head. "I believe her, Minerva. Her dream, I shall not disclose it to you, but just the subject of it shows that she's different."
"So you'll help m-" Bellatrix clutched her left arm, letting out a cry of pain. "It's the Dark Lord. He's angry. What do I do?"
"Stay. Try as hard as you can to stay here. You don't have to go to him anymore. He no longer has to be your Lord and Master."
Bellatrix's hand was still clutching at the fabric over her left arm, but made no movement to pull her sleeve up.
The pain grew more and more intense, and Bella writhed in her chair, her face contorted into an expression of pure pain. This was worse than any Cruciatus Curse her Lord had enacted onto her.
And then, as suddenly as it had appeared, it vanished, and she was left gasping for breath. Bellatrix looked over to where Dumbledore was picking up a Lemon Drop, her eyes filled with confusion. "He stopped. He just stopped. I don't understand."
"We will keep you safe, Bellatrix. School begins tomorrow, and I'd like you to help Minerva bring a few things in this evening, and then we shall transfigure some of your features, to keep you hidden."
"Thank you, sir."
"How would you feel about becoming our new Potions Master?"
Bellatrix was in shock. "Are you sure that's a good idea? Draco could recognise me."
"Mrs Lestrange, I am confident enough in Minerva's transfiguration abilities for you to not resemble yourself at all. If you would be so kind as to assist Minerva this evening, by the time you get back I will have had a bedchamber prepared for you."
"Of course, sir. Thank you again." She pulled him into a short but sweet hug, before stepping into the Floo after Minerva.
Harry awoke with a start, sitting straight up in bed.
"Harry, what's wrong?" Hermione said, looking up from her book.
"Voldemort is angry. And I mean really angry. I've never seen him so mad."
"He probably just remembered that he's going to lose to you soon." She gave Harry a reassuring smile, which he returned.
"Try and sleep again, Harry. We're off back to Hogwarts in the morning."
"You should sleep too, Hermione."
"I'm just finishing this chapter." She smiled at him as he rolled over to face away from her. She put her book down and laid her head on the thick pillow. Let me dream of Bellatrix she thought.
The next evening, the Sorting went along without a hitch, and Dumbledore stood to address the whole school.
"Good evening students. I trust you have all had excellent summers, and are eager to begin your learning for this year. This year, there has been a slight change in your subject teachers. This year, Professor Snape will be taking over Defence Against the Dark Arts-" All students but the first years groaned. "And we have a new teacher for our Potions Master this year. I'd like you all to give a warm welcome to Professor Violet Mills." He gestured with his left arm, and a beautiful woman sitting at the end of the table stood up, waving nervously at the students.
Hermione looked up and find that she could not look away. The woman was strikingly beautiful. She had long, black wavy hair, and as she turned her head, Hermione saw that it was tied loosely with a purple ribbon. Her robes were black and deep purple and fitted her petite but curvy body perfectly. The teacher caught Hermione's eye and both women blushed a little before both looking away. I'm sure I know her from somewhere… Hermione thought, before suddenly being distracted by a large feast appearing on the table in front of her.
Everyone retreated to their dorms early that evening. Hermione found that she couldn't concentrate on her book with the party going on around her. She secluded herself to the library. A few minutes after getting settled, she found herself distracted again. This time not by food or ruckus, but by the beautiful new teacher who had just entered the library. She tried to focus on her book as the woman walked towards her and took a seat next to her.
"I heard there's a party going on in Gryffindor Tower. What are you doing in the library?" Her voice was deep and raspy, a quality Hermione found especially sexy.
She flapped her book a little to explain. "I'm not really the party type."
Violet looked down at the book in Hermione's dainty hands. "What are you reading?"
"The Great Gatsby, a muggle book."
"Oh, I've read that!"
"Yes! Violet leaned in to read over Hermione's shoulder. "What part are you at?" Hermione inadvertently breathed in the scent of the older woman. It was dark, earthy, with a hint of cinnamon. It suited her perfectly. "Oh, you're going to love this book." She pulled away and Hermione missed the closeness.
"So, what are you, a teacher, doing in the library so late at night? You should have all your lessons planned by now."
Violet shrugged. "I missed it, I suppose. I remember sitting in here for hours on end when I was a young girl, reading up on anything and everything. All of my free time was spent in this library, as no one wanted my friendship. If there are no new books, I've probably read every book in this library." Hermione smiled. That was something she respected. "I was the nerdy girl who read all the time and got better grade than everyone else. Well, except one girl."
"Who was the one girl?" Hermione had closed her book now.
"A Miss Lily Evans, as I recall." A look of regret flashed across her face, but Violet pulled it back before Hermione had time to process it.
"You knew Lily?" Hermione asked in shock.
"I wouldn't say 'knew' really. We had an unspoken competition of grades between us, but there was definitely mutual respect for one another's academic success."
"I'm sorry, I've been terribly rude." Hermione held her hand out. "Hermione Granger."
The teacher smiled. "Violet Mills."