The Pythagoras Day School for Talented and Gifted Children
The idea of a day school for magical children took off like wildfire, especially once Hermione contacted the Ladies' Aide Society and asked for their support. The demand soon outstripped the supply and plans were made to open magical day schools all over the United Kingdom. The Pythagoras Day School for Talented and Gifted Children was located in Godric's Hollow where several families had come together and donated joint land for the purpose. Hermione had insisted on the formation of a parent's group that would meet once a month to help explain to the non-magical parents what their children would be learning. The plan was fully educate those parents so that by the time the children left the day school, they would be prepared for attending Hogwarts. Safety was their watchword; safety for the parents, the children and the public at large. Hermione was well pleased with the result, and shocked when she was informed that there was rather a long wait list.
"Those other schools had better open as soon as possible," Professor Pottage, the Headmistress, informed Hermione darkly. Hermione nodded.
"I'm afraid you're quite right," she agreed, looking through the paperwork that Professor Pottage had given her.
"We've had no problems so far, implementing the structure and the behavior standards that the board has insisted upon," the Headmistress continued, looking through her notes. "We started with an orientation day before the actual first day, and we went over the ground rules with all the children. All of the parents received a copy of the handbook and the parents have all signed off on its rules and guidelines."
"Excellent," Hermione said with a slight smile.
These children were being taught from a young age to treat all sentient, magical beings with respect and dignity. Using improper language or special slurs would earn one demerits or, if the issue were severe enough, expulsion. Hermione and the Ladies' Aide Society had worked very hard to make it seem as though these day schools were exclusive and hard to get into. The current impression was that only "the best of the best" were allowed to attend. The truth was rather different from the current perception of a pureblood haven. Hermione, the Ladies Aide Society, and the milites had combed through all of the files they could to find muggleborn students, impoverished students and students who suffered from issues like lycanthropy. What amused Hermione to no end was that the pureblood parents were clamoring to send their children to these schools, which they had filled with suppressed minority groups. What further amused her was that once those children were enrolled they would learn tolerance, conflict resolution and respect for others. By the time these children would attend Hogwarts, they would have a completely different cultural perspective than the current students.
"Now, I believe we've covered everything we needed to," the Headmistress said with a slight smile. "Would you like to peek in on your children? I believe they're at recess at the moment."
"That would be very kind of you," Hermione said with a small smile.
Cepheus and Cassiopeia had begun kindergarten this year, and Hermione wanted to see how they were adjusting. The Headmistress led her outside to observe the playground. Cassiopeia was easy to spot, and Hermione's gaze was immediately drawn to her. She had thick black curls, slightly tidier than her mother's, and wide grey eyes fringed with sinfully long lashes. She was dressed that day in a pale pink satin smock gown with a crisp white pinafore. Her little feet were encased in sturdy little boots. She was playing with another little girl, Hermione realized with a sudden start that it was Luna Lovegood with her pale blond hair and her wide, slightly bulging eyes. The two little girls were speaking quietly to one another and playing nicely when a bigger boy pushed Cassiopeia down and tried to take something from her. Hermione gasped and had taken a step forward when the other children reacted. The bigger boy was immediately tackled by a group of smaller boys. Hermione reached Cassiopeia who turned and buried her face in her mother's skirts, crying.
"Shh, it's all right little love," Hermione soothed, stroking Cassiopeia's hair. She turned to the group of boys who she immediately recognized as her son, her nephew and her godson, but she was slightly surprised to see Neville Longbottom and Sebastian Granger included.
"Dominella, are you okay?" Draco asked worriedly, his silver grey eyes on Cassiopeia's hair. Hermione stiffened slightly and turned to her godson.
"Draco, what did you call her?" Hermione asked sharply. He started guiltily and looked at his godmother through his lashes.
"Dominella?" He said uncertainly. Hermione's eyes narrowed.
"Why?" She asked, her voice suddenly stern. The boys looked at one another uncertainly. Aunt Hermione was always gentle and calm. She didn't scream or yell, ever. Not even when Uncle Sirius gave them rides on his motorcycle in the house. Draco's Mummy had said that Aunt Hermione was a saint to put up with Uncle Sirius, and Draco's Daddy had suggested that it was either that or insanity.
"We—ll," Harry began and Hermione sighed heavily. Whenever her nephew took that tone, he was brewing some sort of mischief. "See, Draco and me was bored, and-,"
"It's Draco and I were bored, dear," Hermione interrupted. Harry blinked at her in surprise.
"You was bored, too, Aunt Hermione?" Harry asked curiously. Hermione rolled her eyes at him.
"No, dear, between Uncle Sirius and you lot, Aunt Hermione is never bored," she said shortly. "Now, what happened?"
"Well, Harry and I were really bored," Draco said firmly with a look at his friend who looked irritated at having been interrupted multiple times, "and Harry asked me if I had any ideas."
"And then Draco said we could pretend to be like his Daddy and Uncle Severus and Uncle Regulus," Harry said loudly, glaring at everyone, daring somebody to take over from him again. "He said we could be milites, and play 'protect the domina' and fight the bad guys."
"But then we had to pick who would be the domina," Draco reminded Harry who nodded.
"Right, and we were trying to choose who it would be," Harry said slowly. "Neville said it should be his baby sister, Honouria, but she's too fussy."
"And Harry suggested his sister Delphinia, but she's too little," Draco said firmly.
"Sebastian was the one who suggested Cassiopeia, and we all liked that because she's always willing to play our games with us, but Draco said that she couldn't be the domina because there's only one and she's you," Harry managed to get out before anyone could stop him.
"So that's how we came to dominella?" Hermione asked dryly. The boys shrugged.
"Uncle Severus said that it meant 'little lady', and she's smaller'n you," Draco pointed out.
"I see," Hermione said slowly. By that time, Cassiopeia had calmed down, and was content to sit in her mother's arms and rest her head on Mummy's soft, comfy shoulder. Were wizards hard-wired to be over-protective? These were just children and they'd already decided to protect and defend the only female relative that went to school with all of them. She looked down at her daughter. "Cassiopeia-love? How do you feel about a great group of boys that are going to follow you everywhere and try to make sure you don't do anything dangerous?"
"It's okay as long as they don't interfere with my plans," Cassiopeia said firmly with a small nod of her head. Hermione felt her eyebrows rise in shock.
"Plans?" Hermione echoed faintly. Cassiopeia smiled at her mother and nodded.
"Oh, yes, Mummy. My first plan was to get a friend that wasn't a boy," Cassiopeia informed her mother. She looked over at her brother and her face softened. "I like to play with the boys, but they don't like to do girl things."
"No, they don't," Hermione said drily. She looked over at little Luna Lovegood, who was watching them with wide eyes.
"Hello, Luna," Hermione said softly. Luna's eyes widened in surprise and she moved a little closer.
"How do you know my name?" Luna asked curiously. Hermione glanced around and realized that only 'her' children were near them.
"I'm a Seer," Hermione said gravely, watching for Luna's reaction. She gazed at Hermione in wonder and then turned to Cassiopeia.
"You didn't tell me that part," Luna said with a frown. Cassiopeia shrugged.
"Not s'posed to," Cassiopeia said firmly, "or the bad mens will try to take Mummy away forever and ever."
"Oh," Luna said softly, her eyes swiveling about as though 'bad mens' might jump out from behind the shrubbery to attack Cassiopeia's Mummy. She gave a small 'eep' of terror and hid behind Harry when two large, imposing wizards walked toward them and stood at attention behind Hermione.
"No, those are not the bad men," Harry said disgustedly, dismissing the two wizards with a wave of his hand. "Those are the good wizards, the milites. You show her, Uncle Regulus, please?"
With a sigh of resignation, Regulus undid the first few buttons of his robes and pulled them to the side so that Luna could see the clear paw print on his collarbone. Luna was suitably impressed. Hermione kissed each child on the head with one extra one for Cassiopeia and Cepheus, and then turned to her honor guard. Regulus and Severus were watching the children play fondly, slight smirks on their faces. Hermione frowned darkly.
"What is it?" She demanded in irritation. Their smirks grew wider.
"It's got to drive them crazy," Severus said, satisfaction thick in his voice, "that the kids pretend to be us."
"I didn't know they were doing this, so I doubt Sirius or Jamie know, either," Hermione said primly, shaking out her skirt.
"They will, eventually," Severus said happily. "I only hope I'm there to see it."
"I worry about you," Hermione told him, concern in her hazel eyes. Severus snorted.
"I'm not the one who married Black, now am I?" Severus shot back, a gleam in his dark eyes. Hermione sighed and started toward the school's floo.
"Pythagoreans to me!" Rabastan Lestrange called in an authoritative voice. A group of children lined up in front of him, drawing several odd looks from passersby. "All right, does everyone have their passbook and their key? Excellent! Now, remember, just like we practiced at school."
The miles turned on his heel and walked into Gringott's, the small line of children following him. The Pythagoras School had automatic slots for the war orphans who lived at the orphanages founded by the Ladies' Aide Society, as did all the other magical day schools in Britain. There were a few purebloods who had no other family left, but the majority of the children had been muggleborns. These children had been as well taken care of as the Ladies' Aide Society could manage. Each child at the time they had come to the orphanage had had an account opened in their name at Gringott's, if they didn't already have one (the few pureblood orphans being the exception to the rule). Most of the orphans had received small life insurance policies or the equivalent and the orphanages had had the monies converted to galleons and used to open accounts for each child. Those that did not have anything, were allotted funds to open accounts in their name. This was so each child would be able to purchase their school supplies for the year. Hermione had been instrumental to this particular piece. She had convinced her father, her father-in-law and several of their mutual cronies to push through legislation that declared any magical child that had lost both parents in the recent war to be the child of 'war heroes', which entitled them to a small monetary settlement of 3,000 galleons. Hermione had worded the legislation so that muggles were being declared war heroes automatically, and laughed all the way to the Gringott's.
Part of a well-rounded education at the Pythagoras School was Sentient Magical Being Relations. Special guests were invited to speak a little about their culture and to share a special treat from their culture. Centaurs, Goblins, House Elves, Werewolves, Veelas and others had all been politely invited. The parents were told that it was similar to an International Business Relations class. The witch or wizard who could remain pleasant and polite no matter the situation would be the one who would seal a business deal, or secure a contract. The pureblood parents nodded. That made sense to them, and they didn't bat an eyelash. There were also comportment lessons. The pureblooded children were taught how to be polite in a muggle household and the muggleborn children were taught the same in magical households. They took field trips to major magical sites, and they also took field trips to the muggle world to go to the zoo, the British Museum, and other sundry things. The children who graduated from the Pythagoras School, or any of the other magical day schools, had received a top notch education and usually out-scored their fellow students in most Hogwarts classes.
This year's graduates were special because this year was the year that Harry Potter was going to Hogwarts, and not a single person outside of his family and friends knew or cared. Hermione couldn't be more happy. Her best friend had so far had the chance to grow up, have friends, and have a family—just as he'd always wanted. He was a normal, happy little boy and no one ever stared at him, or rushed up to him to shake his hand. He was just Harry. Hermione smiled to herself as she watched the small groups of orphans, each herded by a miles go from store to store to purchase their Hogwarts things. She knew that part of the joy, the fun, of going to Hogwarts was getting to pick out your supplies, which was why they had set everything up this way.
"Aunt Hermione! Aunt Hermione! Look, isn't she beautiful?" Harry asked excitedly as he held up a cage with a snowy white owl in it. Hermione smiled warmly at her nephew and kissed his forehead.
"She is an amazing owl, and she will be a wonderful familiar and friend to you, Harry," Hermione said in that slightly distant voice that her entire family had learned to listen to carefully.
"I want to show her to Luna and dominella," Harry said fretfully, "but I don't
see them anywhere. They were with Uncle Sirius and Uncle Regulus just a minute ago."
"They're here somewhere. I know that Regulus had promised Cepheus that he would take him to the Quidditch supply store. Perhaps we'll start there?" Hermione asked her nephew with a smile. "Have you shown her to your mother, yet?"
"Yeah, Mum's in Flourish & Blott's," Harry said cheerfully. Hermione nodded and smiled, listening to her nephew's happy commentary. He hadn't chosen a name for his new friend just yet, he wanted to wait and pick the perfect name for her. Hermione agreed that that was an excellent plan.
"Mummy!" Two excited voices called eagerly, and Hermione turned automatically toward her twins. She bent down to hug them both, and then found herself pulled snugly against Sirius' body. He smirked at her and she raised an eyebrow at him.
"Hello, kitten," he breathed against her ear and she felt her pulse accelerate wildly. The children around them made loud retching noises, just as Uncle
Severus had trained them to do and Hermione rolled her eyes at Sirius.
"Can we trade them in?" Hermione teased. Sirius grinned wickedly.
"What, your milites? Yes, please!" Sirius said fervently. Regulus glared at him.
"We need to wrangle these little monsters to Fortescue's," Regulus reminded his brother drily. "We're supposed to meet Lucius and Narcissa there."
"I want to show Draco my owl," Harry informed them proudly. Hermione hid a small smile. It still surprised her, this friendship between Harry and Draco. Neville had attended the day school along with Sebastian so Harry was friends with both boys. The Weasleys had been leery of the whole idea of day schools, and hadn't sent any of their children. They preferred the old-fashioned way—homeschooling—so Harry hadn't had a chance to meet Ron yet. Several other pureblood families such as the Greengrasses and the Zabinis had taken to the concept with alacrity which had originally surprised Hermione. Although, Hermione watched Luna and Harry, and wondered if perhaps things might not turn out very, very differently this time around.
"Hermione, what is all this nonsense?" Orion asked irritably, waving a sheaf of parchment at his daughter-in-law. Some days it seemed as though the wizengamot was bound and determined to drive him spare. The current law in front of him was so convoluted that it conflicted itself at every turn, and he was almost certain that perhaps two or three separate laws had been shuffled together. His daughter-in-law quickly flipped through the pages her face tightening and her lip curling in disgust.
"It looks as though someone has cottoned on to what I've been up to for the last ten years," Hermione said thoughtfully. "Unfortunately, this is really poorly written and they've still missed more than half of the laws we've passed. This, even if it did get passed would do almost nothing. What idiot is trying to submit this?"
"Hmph," Orion grunted and looked through some other parchments on his desk. "Ah, here. One Dolores Umbridge. Hermione? Hermione! Sirius! Get in here, NOW!"
Hiding the fact that one is a Seer is difficult at best, but Hermione and her sworn milites had actually done a damn fine job of protecting her and her secrets. Certain member of the Ladies' Aide Society had known and had willingly taken wand oaths to protect her secret. Even in times of peace, Seers were at risk and no one was taking any chances with Hermione's safety. Orion had known for roughly eight years, but he'd suspected something for a lot longer. His most important clue had been the fact that Sirius tolerated those milites of hers constantly being around, that he had insisted upon them even when Hermione seemed to not want them about. Alphard had explained to Orion that Lucius had briefly courted Hermione, and that Sirius was still prone to fits of jealousy regarding Malfoy. If it had been Orion, Lucius Malfoy would not have been allowed anywhere near his witch, but Sirius tolerated Malfoy. That alone made Orion suspicious. Sirius raced into the room and went straight to his wife. Her face was pale and her wand hand was clenching and unclenching at her side. When Sirius touched her she turned to him immediately and buried her face in his neck.
"Kitten, what's wrong?" Sirius asked her in surprise. She clutched his robes and she appeared to be shuddering the way she would if she were having an intense vision, but she wasn't. Sirius felt fear slide along his spine and he clutched his witch tighter, stroking her hair.
"Is it this woman?" Orion asked roughly. "Have you had visions of her?"
Hermione shook her head against Sirius' neck, but she clung to him still. Both men looked at one another in surprise. Hermione never acted like this, she was always so sure of herself, so confident. It was one of the things he liked best about his daughter-in-law. He adored Hermione, not the least of which for giving him two beautiful grandchildren who loved to come and visit their Grandfather Black. He stood awkwardly next to his son, his normally stoic expression slipping slightly to show his concern.
"Kitten, we'll take care of it, whatever it is—you just have to tell us what to do," Sirius murmured into her hair. She pulled back and looked at him, her eyes wide, and she bit her lip uncertainly.
"It…," she paused and her eyes took on that distant look that they did sometimes. She blinked after several moments and frowned up at him. "She is an evil woman, one of the most evil I've ever…er, she's evil."
"Okay, she's evil," Sirius said firmly. Hermione was nibbling her lower lip and thinking to herself.
"We need to take her down," she murmured under her breath, her brain working at a mile a minute.
"Of course, love. Do you want me to call your lieutenants?" Sirius teased her gently. She looked up at him gratefully and kissed his cheek.
"Would you, Sirius?" She asked, her hazel eyes wide, her expression grave. He could deny those eyes nothing, so he stalked over to the floo, grumbling under his breath.
September 1, 1991
Platform 9 ¾, again
Going to school was exciting, Harry admitted easily. His sister Delphinia and his little brother Charlus were wildly jealous that he was going to Hogwarts this year. However, despite his excitement he felt uneasy leaving behind Luna and their dominella. He and Draco hadn't wanted to insult Cepheus, but they worried about his ability to protect Cassiopeia all by himself. Draco had been so worried that he had asked his father about it, and the elder Malfoy had sworn on his honour to protect and to guard Cassiopeia. That had made Draco relax, and now he was tugging insistently on his best friend.
"C'mon, Harry, let's go find a seat before all the best ones are taken," Draco said.
"Hang on a tic," Harry said absently, his eyes scanning the crowd. He let out a crow of happiness and took off into the crowd.
Draco looked up at his father who had a slight smile curving his lips. Uncle James looked irritated and he was slipping his wife a handful of galleons. Aunt Lily looked somewhat smug and tucked the galleons into her handbag. Draco looked in the direction that Harry had run off to, and saw him hugging the slight form of Luna Lovegood who was standing next to their Aunt Hermione. Draco sighed heavily and headed toward his best friend and his bondmate, and realized with pleasure that Cassiopeia was standing next to Luna. Her dark grey eyes shifting and turning slightly darker when she saw him standing there.
"Dominella, you are looking well," Draco said with formal courtesy. Cassiopeia inclined her head gracefully.
"Thank you, Draco. You look well yourself," she said quietly.
People who remembered little Hermione Potter often remarked that Cassiopeia Black was a miniature of her mother. In face and form, she was a blend of the best of both parents and was an incredibly beautiful little girl. In her manners and comportment, she was her mother all over again. Wherever Cassiopeia went people were drawn to her grace and beauty, but this had not spoiled the child. Her close friends were always those who were normally ignored or belittled. Her best friend was Luna Lovegood, who found it difficult to make other friends due to her gift of second sight and her practice of saying odd things at odd times. Fortunately for Luna, after having a Seer as a mother Luna wasn't that odd. In fact, Hermione and Luna got on quite well, and always had; it was as though they had known one another for years.
"Draco," Luna said dreamily, tilting her head to one side. "Let not the House divide the friendship well begun."
"Mmm," Hermione looked off into the distance thoughtfully. "Harry may choose freely. His parents will love and support him no matter the House in which he resides. His friends will remain his friends, as well. The links forged in the Pythagoras School will be tempered, but their strength will increase, not falter."
"Er," both boys said uncertainly, looking from the graceful form of their Aunt Hermione to the dreamy, pixie-like figure of Luna. Cassiopeia smiled encouragingly at both boys.
"I have decided that it would be useful for there to be some of you in each House," she announced regally. "If we are lacking a House, I charge you two with recruiting from the other Houses. Be certain of your choices before you tell them anything."
Both boys straightened immediately and automatically assumed the posture of a miles. Their sworn lady was charging them with a quest, and both felt that they were equal to it. They would discharge their duty with honor. Hermione's eyes had shifted and it was like looking into an abyss. Draco and Harry had seen her eyes do that a few times. It was different from her having an actual vision; that had frightened Harry and Draco the first time they'd seen it happen. Then she shivered slightly and her eyes were normal again. She looked at Draco and Harry and her face was pensive.
"I think that it is best that you and your friends will be there a year before the rest," she said at last, frowning slightly. "Remind me to speak to your father, Draco, and your father as well, Harry."
"Speak to us about what, My Own?" James asked as they drew near. She looked at him, nibbling her lip anxiously.
"Training for the boys," Hermione said succinctly, a significant look at Lucius who nodded almost imperceptibly. James' jaw tightened slightly, but he nodded.
"Of course," Lucius said smoothly. Then he smirked slightly. "I see now why you encouraged Severus and Regulus to go ahead and accept the positions offered."
"That's My Own," James agreed. "Gryffindor on the outside, but Slytherin within."
"Oh, Jamie," Hermione laughed, rolling her eyes at his horrible word play.
"Draco, Harry dear, it really is time to go, or you'll miss the train," Narcissa called. Draco and Harry shook their father's hands and kissed their aunt. Before they could blink, the boys were leaning out the window waving energetically, and the train was pulling out of the station. Hermione and Narcissa blew kisses and Luna and Cassiopeia copied them. The men all waved at the boys until the train was gone.
Harry and Draco settled into their compartment with Sebastian and Neville. All four boys looked at one another with grave expressions and Sebastian and Neville turned to face Harry and Draco. Harry glanced at Draco and shrugged, indicating that he could speak first. Draco nodded and turned them, about to speak when their compartment door slid open. A redheaded boy with a spot of dirt on his nose poked his head into the compartment and looked at all four boys who were dressed in nice wizarding robes; part of Sebastian's graduation gift from Hermione had been a full set of wizarding robes so that he would not feel awkward amongst the other students.
"Can I sit with you lot then? The other compartments are full," the red-headed boy asked cheerfully. The four boys looked at one another and then looked back at him.
"You may if you wish," Draco said coolly and he and Harry scooted over to give the red-headed boy room.
"I'm Ron, Ron Weasley," the boy said cheerfully and held out a hand toward Harry and Draco.
"Harry Potter," Harry said and shook his hand.
"Draco Malfoy," said Draco politely and he shook Ron's hand as well. Ron stared in surprise at both of them.
"I'm Neville Longbottom," Neville said politely and held out his hand. Ron stared at it for a moment and shook it slowly. He turned to Sebastian who smiled politely and shook Ron's hand.
"Sebastian Granger," he said politely, then he paused slightly and frowned at Ron. "You've got dirt on your nose, did you know?"
"Granger," Ron echoed in surprise, frowning slightly.
"Yes," Sebastian said cheerfully.
"Are you muggleborn then?" Ron asked politely, that slight frown still in place.
"Not exactly," Sebastian replied with a slight smile. "I've got a little Scamander on my mother's side and a little Greengrass on my father's side. The domina and Draco's father researched it for me."
"Oh," Ron said quietly, his eyes wide. "Who's the domina?"
"Er," Sebastian flushed slightly and looked guiltily toward Harry and Draco who shook their heads at him and shrugged.
"Never mind," Draco muttered. Ron shrugged cheerfully and started asking them about Quidditch.
Severus looked over the Great Hall from his seat at the faculty table, his lips pursed together. The Tri-Wizard tournament was being held at Hogwarts, but oddly enough…Hermione had known. What's more, he had a sneaking suspicion that her goddaughter, Fleur Delacour would be chosen as the Beauxbatons Champion. Hermione had worked with the girl for the last two years straight, making sure that she knew a variety of spells that most people didn't learn until Auror training, if then. The fact that Hermione knew all of those spells didn't surprise anyone, they were used to the things that Hermione shouldn't be able to do by now. Hermione had been very anxious the last few weeks and had come to visit him more than once at Hogwarts. His gaze swept over the students and fell upon two girls sitting at the Ravenclaw table. He didn't allow a smile to curve his lips because he was always aware of anyone who might be watching, but his heart warmed to see the two girls, their heads bent toward one another speaking of something important. The sorting hat had suggested that Cassiopeia Black might be best suited to Slytherin, but she had chosen Ravenclaw to be near her friend Luna. The hat had grumbled darkly, but Cassiopeia was intelligent enough that it really couldn't argue. Cepheus had surprised no one when he'd chosen Ravenclaw as well, to be close to his sister. Cepheus and Cassiopeia were just as close as James and Hermione had been, and he was just as protective of his sister as James had been. Sometimes, Cepheus and Cassiopeia would sit side by side and it was as if no one else in the world existed. Severus noted with some disgust that Cepheus was just as handsome, if not more so, than his damned father. The girls were already chasing him, just as they had Sirius. However, Cepheus had a far healthier sense of self-esteem and therefore was slightly choosier about his girlfriends. Usually they had to pass the Luna/Cassiopeia test. It was a two-fold test: the first part required both girls to approve of the girlfriend-to-be, and the second part was that the girl could be around Luna and Cassiopeia without making disparaging comments about Luna's behavior quirks.
"Where is Cepheus?" Luna asked dreamily, glancing about the Ravenclaw table. Cassiopeia looked around her with a slight frown.
"I'm not sure," she said thoughtfully. Cepheus was probably inspecting the inside of one of the broomclosets, but Cassiopeia didn't really want to think about that at the moment. She was trying to eat breakfast after all.
"Bon matin," Fleur said cheerfully as she sat down across from both girls. Both girls smiled at her and chattered happily in French.
"How are you this morning, Fleur?" Luna asked politely. Fleur was smirking to herself.
"There's to be a Yule Ball," Fleur murmured to Luna, a gleam in her eye. "I wonder who Harry will ask."
"Don't tease, Fleur," Cassiopeia said with a roll of her eyes. "We all know who Harry will ask."
"Then who will ask you, little cousin?" Fleur asked with a slightly larger smirk. Cassiopeia frowned at her mother's goddaughter. She loved Fleur, and had been raised with her as a cousin, but this was pushing things too far.
"I'm not sure," Cassiopeia said slowly, her cheeks turning pink. "Perhaps no one. I am a third year after all."
"I doubt that would stop many of the boys," Fleur said drily. Cassiopeia shrugged. "I bet that that Ronald Weasley will try to ask you. You're the prettiest girl in school and I've seen him look at you like you're a tartin."
"He made fun of Luna," Cassiopeia said sharply, a look of intense displeasure on her face. Fleur frowned.
"I did not know that," Fleur said. "He will most likely ask you anyway. I don't think that he would realize the consequences of teasing our Luna. They announced the ball to the Champions this morning. Expect him to ask you in the next couple of days."
"That is not going to happen," Cassiopeia said flatly. Luna bit her lip.
"I would not bet on that Cassiopeia," Luna warned her. Cassiopeia paled and glanced about the hall in a panic. Luna's intuition was as good as her mother's, and both were rarely wrong. Harry and Draco were not at breakfast yet. Neville and Ron were not either. Cassiopeia spotted Sebastian Granger sitting at the Gryffindor table and breathed a huge sigh of relief. She hurried over to him.
"'Bastian?" Cassiopeia said quietly and touched his shoulder with her fingertips. He glanced up at her with a smile. She wasn't sure why, but Sebastian Granger had always felt like family to her. Mummy seemed to treat him that way, and perhaps it had rubbed off onto her. He didn't feel quite like a brother, but he felt rather like Harry…so maybe a cousin?
"Yes, dominella?" He asked politely. She may have looked completely calm to the rest of the Great Hall, but he knew that she was uneasy and he automatically came to attention.
"I need to speak to you, privately," Cassiopeia said softly enough that no one else might overhear her. He stood up immediately and followed her from the hall. They both went into a small unused classroom and Cassiopeia began to pace with a distracted air.
"What's wrong, dominella?" Sebastian asked uncertainly.
"There's to be a Yule Ball," Cassiopeia muttered. "Is there a particular girl that you like, that you want to ask?"
"No, not really," Sebastian said honestly with a shrug.
He hadn't met anyone at Hogwarts that made something spark inside him—like with his Mum and Dad, or like Harry and Luna. Those two had been drawn to one another from the day they met. He'd watched the domina frowning slightly and muttering under her breath about 'damned natural bonds'. She'd chewed her bottom lip almost raw and in the end she'd shrugged helplessly. Sebastian had asked his Mum and Dad how they'd known that each was 'the one' for the other. Then he'd asked Harry how he felt whenever Luna was nearby. He'd received slightly different responses, but he paid attention and tried to see if he felt that way around any of the witches…or wizards…at Hogwarts and he didn't. He'd wondered at first if maybe there was something wrong with him and he'd asked Mrs. Black because she knew everything. She had smiled at him and ruffled his short hair slightly.
"Oh, 'Bastian," she had said with a light laugh. "It will happen when it happens. Harry was and is rather special, and apparently no matter the circumstances his life ends up as interesting. Natural bonds are incredibly rare and his bond with Luna has begun far earlier than normal. Generally, a natural bond won't begin until after puberty at least."
He shook his head and tried to focus on the here and now, where Cassiopeia was pacing and asking him questions.
"Right," Cassiopeia was saying. "So if there isn't anyone that you want to go with, will you please go with me? I'm afraid of certain people asking and if I already have a date then I can politely turn them down."
"Uh," Sebastian stalled as his mind raced. He knew of several boys that liked Cassiopeia and one in particular that was going to go spare when he found out that Cassiopeia had asked Sebastian to be her date. Then Cassiopeia turned those great grey eyes upon him and he groaned. "Okay, yes. Fine, I'll be your date."
"Oh thank you, 'Bastian!" Cassiopeia cried and flung herself at him. She kissed his cheek and hugged him tightly.
"Are we interrupting something?" Cepheus asked coolly from the doorway, Harry and Draco flanking him; their faces void of emotion, but the hardness of Harry's emerald eyes and the molten silver of Draco's hinting at suppressed anger. Cassiopeia turned to look at her brother, her arms still around Sebastian's neck and shook her head.
"Of course not, Cephée," she said with a roll of her eyes. She unwound her arms from around Sebastian's neck. "Sebastian and I are going to the Yule Ball together, isn't that wonderful?"
"I see," Cepheus said politely, raising one raven's wing brow at his friend. Sebastian shrugged helplessly and pointed to Cassiopeia. Both eyebrows rose up Cepheus' forehead and he frowned slightly. The group of friends who'd attended the Pythagoras School had a loose group of hand signals and gestures they used to communicate. Sebastian had just indicated that Cassiopeia had asked him to be her date and that he hadn't had a choice. He hadn't really. All of them who had sworn to guard the dominella had sworn to obey her commands, just like the milites. While asking him to the ball wasn't a direct order, Sebastian had probably felt as though he had little choice. "Why, Cassiopeia?"
"Someone was going to ask me, Luna confirmed it," Cassiopeia, distaste curling her lip slightly.
"Who?" Harry demanded, glancing at Draco who shrugged in confusion. They kept a sharp eye on Cassiopeia and they couldn't recall anyone who'd been able to get close to her. "Who do you dislike so much that you secured your own date?"
"Ronald Weasely," Cassiopeia bit out in clipped tones. At the blank looks on all the male's faces she clarified the situation: "He made fun of Luna our first year."
"He did?" Harry's face was turning red with rage. Cassiopeia shook her head at him.
"Don't worry about it, Harry," Cassiopeia said firmly. "Cepheus and I took care of it."
"You didn't tell me?" Harry demanded, glaring at Cepheus who shrugged.
"It was important to prove a point to the House at the time. It worked," Cepheus told his cousin coolly. "Mum informed us that it was paramount that we establish dominance in Ravenclaw from the get-go. They respect that."
"I still don't like it," Harry snapped, his emerald eyes almost glowing with his anger.
"Of course not," Cassiopeia agreed.
The Yule Ball passed without incident. Regulus and Severus looked incredibly handsome in their black dress robes. Hermione and Sirius had come, along with James and Lily. Hermione and Lily both looked beautiful and their respective husbands did not let them out of sight all evening. Sirius was glaring darkly at a group of seventh-years who were daring to eye his wife appreciatively. He'd already danced with his beautiful daughter and glared at the large number of boys and girls that were eyeing her appreciatively. Hermione had giggled like a school girl when Cassiopeia and Sebastian explained their plan to keep Ronald Weasley away from her daughter. She'd turned to Luna and the two of them had had a brief, intense conversation. Hermione had been slightly distracted for the rest of the night and had pulled Regulus aside for a detailed interrogation, but she'd been forced to stop when her husband had finally gotten jealous of her inattention and pulled her away to dance.
"Mrs. Black, what a surprise to see you," Mrs. Granger said warmly with a fond smile for the young woman that had helped her son so much. Hermione Black returned her smile.
"I understand, Mrs. Granger," Hermione said carefully. "I'm sorry to arrive without any forewarning, but something unusual has come up. Erm, has Sebastian ever spoken to you about bonding in the wizarding world?"
"Not really, he mentioned something about a classmate of his bonding to a young girl—your nephew, I believe?" Mrs. Granger said uncertainly, but it was obvious that although she remembered the terms, she didn't really understand them.
"Magic changes things, sometimes for the better, sometimes for the worse, but for the most part it just makes things different. We understand that our culture is very different from yours and this is why we are kept separate. Some of the things that magic requires of us, most non-magical people would not understand," Hermione began quietly, staring at her hands. Mrs. Granger frowned slightly.
"What has happened to my son?" She asked sharply. "Is it one of these bond things?"
"Do you remember Veela Day at the day school?" Hermione asked quietly. Mrs. Granger nodded, her eyes wide.
"I do," she whispered. She had found Veela Day fascinating on a variety of levels. The prejudice that most Veela faced in the British wizarding world had horrified her. The Veela that had come to speak to them was one half of a bonded pair, and he had explained what that meant in terms that school age children could understand. "Sebastian has bonded with a Veela, then?"
"Yes, actually," Hermione had murmured shifting slightly in her seat. "Gabrielle Delacour was brought to the Tri-Wizard Tournament where her sister was competing as a Champion. She is twelve years old, and this was her first year at Beauxbatons. The moment she met Sebastian, the moment she touched his hand, it was rather obvious what was happening."
"So what happens to Sebastian now?" Mrs. Granger asked quietly, her eyes wide. Hermione bit her lip.
"Well, Sebastian has many options," Hermione said calmly. "Gabrielle does not."
"This girl lives in France, correct?" Mrs. Granger asked with a slight frown. Hermione nodded. "Well, does Sebastian have to move to France or something?"
"Gabrielle is just a child, especially by Veela standards," Hermione explained. "If you would allow me to suggest, I think Sebastian will be fine where he is, but he might benefit from visiting Gabrielle and the Delacour family in France. I understand that you visit France in the summer anyway, if you visited the Delacours while you were there, it would not cause too much disruption to your lives."
"I suppose not," Mrs. Granger said uncertainly. A hint of fear lurked in her eyes. "What will happen to my son?"
"Hopefully, he will continue to attend school, do well in all his lessons, grow to be a fine, upstanding wizard, obtain some sort of employment that fulfills him and supports him, and eventually find true happiness—however that might be acquired," Hermione said calmly. Mrs. Granger nodded slowly.
"In the—the parent meetings at his primary school, they talked about marriage contracts for the wizarding world, and how they are still a normal part of your world," Mrs. Granger said thoughtfully, frowning slightly. "No one's going to expect Sebastian to have anything like that…are they?"
"I cannot say for certain," Hermione said, nibbling her lower lip as she thought for a moment. "The wizarding culture of France is markedly different in several respects, not the least of which is their greater tolerance and understanding of sentient magical beings. I believe many of the older families do still practice arranged marriages, but there are many who do not. Veela families almost never do because a bond overrides everything else. You may rest assured that they will treat your son with great respect and affection. He will be instructed in Veela culture and customs, and he will have a rather large, extended family."
"That might be nice," Mrs. Granger said with a slightly sad smile. She glanced at Hermione and shrugged slightly. "I was only able to have one child, and my husband and I are only children as well. It makes for very quiet Christmases."
"I know," Hermione said softly. She patted Mrs. Granger's hand and smiled warmly at her.
"You and Mr. Granger and Sebastian are always welcome at our home for Christmas," Hermione said firmly. "It may be a bit crazy, but there is always plenty of love and we always have room at the table for more guests. It makes the house elves happy you know, to have more people to look after."
"Er, yes," Mrs. Granger said helplessly. Hermione smiled warmly at her.
"I understand that your primary concern is for your child, and that is as it should be," Hermione said quietly. "Please do not think that we do not care for Sebastian, or that we would do anything that would jeopardize his safety or happiness."
"No, I don't believe you would," Mrs. Granger admitted. This strange young woman had been on the outskirts of their lives for fourteen years, but she had always been kind, caring, and compassionate. She had helped them understand their son, and helped them adjust to his world. Without Hermione Black, things would have been different for Sebastian Granger, and she suspected that it would not have been for the better.
Summer 1995, Black Manor
"Lovely weather," Lily said calmly, looking out over the great lawn of Alphard's main estate.
"It's a perfect day for a wedding," Dorea Potter agreed, smiling at her grandchildren who were trying to act very grown up and mostly succeeding. Delphinia, Phi to her family, was twelve and was trying walk gracefully in the silk gown that her grandmother had had made for Dora's wedding. Harry and young Charlus were standing stiffly at attention off to the side, in case their grandmother needed a cup of tea, or anything else.
"Two years late is better than never," Lily said with a small smile. Dorea snorted.
To change werewolf legislation for the better, Hermione had asked Remus to travel to other countries and research their laws. All of his travel, food and lodging was paid for, and he received a small stipend in addition. This meant for the majority of the last ten years he'd been traveling. He made it home only rarely, and some years he was not able to come home for Christmas or birthdays. When Hermione realized it was actually two years passed when they'd suggested enforcing the contract and that neither Dora nor Remus had mentioned anything she made plans of her own. She recalled Remus and did a final major debriefing. They went over the changes that the wizengamot had already effected in wizarding society and used the intelligence that Remus had gathered and his personal opinion to suggest further adjustments to the laws to make them more fair, more just to the werewolf wizarding citizen.
It was ridiculously easy to suggest to James and Sirius that they ought to have a welcome home party for Remus, and invite everyone. Young Nymphadora had grown up to become a beautiful young woman. With the support and encouragement of her family, she had applied for auror training and been accepted. Aunt Hermione had had a very odd look on her face when Dora had graduated from auror training with flying colors, and had tripped on her way to the podium to receive her certificate. Dora had grinned at everyone and the Head Auror, Alastor Moody had made a small joke about Dora's eagerness to fight crime. She had whinged and bitched, but she had allowed her Aunt Hermione and her Aunt Dorea to dress her for the welcome home party. The look on Remus' face when Dora had walked into the room had been utterly priceless. He had stared at her, slack-jawed and speechless. Severus and Regulus had taken pictures to save for blackmail later. The mothers had begun planning the wedding the next morning.
Cassiopeia glided over to her family and sat gracefully next to her mother. Her long hair had been brushed until it shone and she wore a set of dress robes in a pale blue. Dorea smiled fondly at her granddaughter, smoothing her hair back from her brow. Cepheus followed after her, his grey eyes on his sister, a fond smile on his lips. Phi cast a jealous glance at her cousin and her ability to do everything gracefully. She was fairly sure that Cassiopeia could puke gracefully. Cassiopeia turned toward her and smiled gently. Phi grimaced in return. Cassiopeia blinked at her for a moment and then turned back toward her mother.
The wedding was an incredibly beautiful affair, but Cassiopeia couldn't figure out why her mum kept crying through the whole thing. Daddy couldn't comfort her because he was busy being a groomsman for Uncle Remus, so Cepheus had one arm wrapped tightly around his mother's shoulders. He'd grown taller recently, and he looked so much like Daddy that it gave Cassiopeia reason to pause.
"Are you all right, domina?" Regulus asked her with some concern. Hermione nodded.
"I'm just so happy," Hermione wailed. Regulus stared at her for a moment and then he and Cepheus exchanged a purely male look of confusion.
This time, they were able to get married with everyone they loved around them.
And Teddy is going to have his Mum and Dad. Maybe some siblings, too.
Is that why you're crying?
Oh, Merlin's staff, woman!
Shut up. I'm allowed to cry at weddings. It's a law, I think.
The distant future, The Hermione Black Memorial Muggleborn Lending Library
"Do you suppose this is a substantial library, Daddy?" A solemn eight year-old girl asked innocently with wide eyes, staring up at the inscribed sign placed prominently outside the stone edifice. Her father smirked slightly and looked up at the sign.
"I think so, pet," he said, patting her on the head. The little girl frowned and bit her lower lip.
"Why is it still called a Muggleborn Lending Library?" she asked curiously. He frowned slightly.
"Well, Grandad said that it was because it was the first of its kind. No one had ever built a lending library for muggleborns before that," he said thoughtfully, trying to remember when he'd asked his grandfather the same questions.
"But, Daddy, surely they've built plenty since then," she pushed for more information.
"Abraxia," Her father said with a sigh, "I don't have time to explain the last several hundred years of wizarding culture. I promised your mother that we'd meet her at Madame Malkin's to have you measured for your new robes."
"Wait, Daddy!" The little girl said suddenly. She spun on her heel and took off running.
"Abraxia!" He called after her. Damn and blast! Her mother is going to have my hide for this! He finally caught up to her outside Quality Quidditch turning in a circle and looking confused. "What are you doing? I almost had a heart attack back there! You know that you are never to leave me when we're in a big public place like Diagon Alley!"
"He was here, I know he was," the little girl was muttering to herself. Her father watched her warily. Abraxia had done several odd things lately that made him quite nervous. His wife had watched Abraxia with a strange intensity the last few weeks, and it unnerved him. She turned and he saw her face light up with a radiant sort of joy he'd never seen on anyone's face before. It filled him with a terrible awe. He turned to see what she was looking at and noticed a boy standing uncertainly, watching his daughter with a hungry look on his face. She moved forward and took both of his hands in hers. "It's you. I knew you would come to me and you did."
"I've been waiting," the boy said petulantly, his lower lip jutting out. "I've come every day this week and you never came."
"I'm here now," she admonished him lightly as though that was that. The boy looked unconvinced.
"You didn't come," he pointed out.
"These sorts of things are never an exact science," his daughter was scolding the boy, but she still hadn't let go of his hands. "I would think that you would allow me a little slack."
"Abraxia, pet, why don't you introduce me to your friend?" Her father asked hesitantly. She beamed at him and then turned to the boy whose hands she had yet to release.
"What is your name this time?" She asked curiously. The boy shrugged. He had the aristocratic air of the old families, her father noted carefully. His hair was short and blond.
"Acacius Lovegood," he said with a slight smile. Abraxia clapped her hands and laughed.
"I'm Abraxia Longbottom," she said with a wicked smile, "Mummy was a Malfoy. I should probably tell you that up front."
"I think you did that on purpose," the boy accused, his silvery eyes turning dark. Abraxia shrugged.
"Really, Acacius, as if I could control those sorts of things," she admonished.
"Still," he said darkly. "A Malfoy of all things."
"What's wrong with the name Malfoy?" Abraxia's mother asked coolly, finally having found her wayward family.
"Nothing," the boy said sulkily, glaring at Abraxia who was still holding his hand.
"Don't sulk, dearest," Abraxia said calmly. The boy sighed heavily and rolled his eyes heavenward. Then she turned to her father. "Daddy, I need to go see Great-Grandmamma Malfoy."
"But, Abraxia," Her father said uncertainly. His wife shook her head at him. He whispered furiously at his wife. "What on earth can Selene Malfoy do for her?"
"Darling you forget, my grandmother Malfoy's maiden name was Potter. Selene's mother was Luna Lovegood," she whispered to her husband. His eyes widened and he stared at his daughter.
"Do you think she's a…you know?" He whispered back. His wife bit her lip, and then nodded slowly. He stared hard at the boy who was focused on his daughter at the moment. Their heads were bent close and they were whispering fiercely to one another. "What's he then?"
"He is mine," Abraxia said firmly, her hand tightening on the boy's. "We need to go see Great-Grandmamma right away, Daddy."
"Now see here, pet, we can't take random wizards off the street. What will people say?" Her father tried to reason with her. Abraxia's face took on a mulish expression, and the boy looked amused. His wife shook her head at him.
"Do not push her, Nigellus. Er, young man, where are your parents?" Mrs. Longbottom asked with a slight smile. He waved toward the apothecary, and they took off in that direction. Mr. Theodosius Lovegood was delighted to meet Abraxia and had absolutely no problem with his son haring off for parts unknown with virtual strangers. Nigellus stared at the man for a moment and then sighed.
"Ah, Abraxia, you've come to see Great-Grandmamma, have you?" The elderly witch asked with a knowing smile. She gasped when she saw Acacius and her smile widened. "It's a pleasure to see you again, Acacius."
"How did you know his name?" Nigellus demanded. Mrs. Malfoy smiled at him.
"I have my ways, Nigellus, never fear," she replied. She turned back to her great-granddaughter. "I think perhaps you ought to visit Sapientia. She'll know what to do."
"Yes, ma'am," Abraxia said calmly. She turned and looked at Acacius for a moment. "I'm bringing him with me, though."
"I wouldn't expect you to do anything else, dear," her great-grandmother said with that knowing smile.
"You know what this means, don't you?" Acacius observed as the two children headed toward the floo. She quirked a brow at him.
"No, what?" She asked curiously.
"We have to attend Hogwarts again," he reminded her. She scowled at him.
"Well, bloody hell," she growled under her breath.
"Abraxia Luciana Longbottom!" Her mother called from the next room. "You watch your mouth or I'll scourgify it for you!"
"Oh for the love of…they gave you his damn name, too?" Acacius fumed impotently.
"Now dear," she murmured, patting his arm. "What's in a name?"
"Nothing…kitten," he said smugly. She rolled her eyes at him.
"It's a good thing I like you," she muttered. His hand tightened on hers as they went through the floo together.
A/N: The End…sort of.
A/N: Okay, I'm confusing people. Sorry about that. There is no sequel. Abraxia is the reincarnation of Hermione and Acacius is the reincarnation of Sirius. I was trying to emphasize that they have a special connection—that Hermione's destiny will always lie with Sirius.