A/N: So, so, so much thanks to TycheSong for helping with the research, the muse-ness, and pretty much everything else with this story. Thanks also to eterna-romantica03 for helping to kickstart the muse.
Disclaimer: As always, I unfortunately own none of the Harry Potter Universe.
The hood of her Unspeakable cloak was down about her shoulders, which was a department violation, but seeing as how it was only barely past three in the morning, Hermione doubted anyone would write her up for it. The only other Unspeakable working this late at this end of the building was old Ray, and he hardly noticed company in the daylight.
She wasn't quite sure how long Ray had been around, though considering he worked in the time room, she wasn't entirely sure she wanted to know. The man did, however, have some very interesting theories based on books that had been rendered lost more than three hundred years ago.
Casting those thoughts away for another, slightly less important time, Hermione looked at her notes, and then gave a glancing frown at an open ancient runes book she had "borrowed" from the library at 12 Grimmauld Place, and then at the one from her personal collection that contained a detailed history of the Druids, among other things.
Everything she had ever read had insisted it wasn't possible, that people never returned from The Morrigan's Veil, that they were simply gone. But the runes glimmering in cool light only inches from her nose and a few lines in the brittle pages of her book said otherwise.
It had only been a theory at first, something sparked by a dim memory of a dark room and a horrible occasion ten years earlier. The idea had refused to vanish, however, despite its futility. It nagged at her every time she passed that door on her way to work.
Which is how Hermione Granger, pride of the Department of Mysteries, Unspeakable Division, had found herself stealing her best friend's books and then sneaking into the Ministry of Magic without authorisation in order to study The Morrigan's Veil. Every door lead to somewhere, and doors were usually two-way portals when used properly. All she had to do was find the right key, and there wasn't any reason Sirius Black shouldn't be able to walk right back through again.
A few of the runes lining the seemingly harmless arch were worn by age, but after two hours of carefully consulting every book she could find, not to mention every note she had ever taken on the subject, Hermione thought she had finally figured it out. She leaned close, her nose only inches from the cold stone of the archway to double check one of the runes, and then, a loud clatter sounded in the hallway behind the closed door.
Hermione jumped, biting hard on her bottom lip to muffle a shriek and only just avoided brushing the grey veil with one hand. She gasped and snatched her hand back, unsure what would happen if she were to touch the Veil, but unwilling to find out.
As another noise sounded, this one seemingly closer—though one could never be certain in the Department of Mysteries—Hermione gathered her things, casting a lightening charm on her bag now stuffed with books before drawing the hood of her cloak up and hurrying quietly from the room in which Sirius Black had died.
When Hermione finally slipped back into her flat and shut the door firmly behind her, she let out a heavy sigh of relief. It had been quite some time since she had done any sneaking about, or at least sneaking about for something unrelated to her career as an Unspeakable. The noise from the hallway had ended up being only a maintenance wizard, but even she would have had a difficult time explaining her presence in the Veil Room had it been anyone important.
But fortunately, she hadn't been discovered, and so it was with a vague sense of victory with which Hermione sat down at her desk to pen a note to one of her oldest friends.
I need to meet with you this morning, it's important. I'll be by before breakfast.
She sealed the parchment and then tossed a pinch of Floo Powder into the flames dancing in her hearth, sending her note on its way to number 12 Grimmauld Place and praying Kreacher would actually deliver the thing rather than destroy it.
That final task completed, Hermione allowed the wave of fatigue she had been holding back to wash over her. She made her way into her bedroom, groaning as she realized she had less than three hours time for sleep left and accidentally awakening the rather disgruntled black kitten curled on her pillow.
"Sorry, Nimbus," she muttered as she shed her clothes and then fell into bed, asleep before her head reached the pillow.
Hermione's alarm went off far too early the next morning, the sun only barely beginning to peek through her window, tinting the whole sky red. She likely would have slept through it if not for her cat, who associated the alarm with breakfast and would dig needle-sharp claws into her legs until she received her morning meal.
This ritual, though horribly effective, was not one Hermione particularly enjoyed, as evidenced by the stream of muttered curses that left her lips as she jumped from her bed, nearly sending the small cat flying. In practically record time, Hermione had fed the little beast, showered, and slipped into her black, Ministry-issued robes, before gathering her bag full of research from the night before and Apparating on the spot to land on the stoop of number 12 Grimmauld Place.
The door swung open before she could even knock and she was greeted by the scowling face of Kreacher, who muttered something about rude messages in the middle of the night before walking away, leaving the door standing open behind him in what Hermione assumed was an invitation to enter.
"Harry?" she called out as she made her way through the familiarly gloomy entryway.
"Kitchen!" he answered, his voice echoing through the house. Hermione quickly made her way through the house and down the stairs, blinking rapidly as her eyes adjusted to the brighter, cheery light filling the kitchen.
"Good morning, Hermione," Ginny greeted from where she stood at the stove, frying eggs, her smile only slightly cool. It had taken some time for the Weasley women to warm back up to Hermione after her rather nasty divorce from Ron several years prior, but things were a bit more cordial now that Ron was expecting a baby with Lavender.
Hermione greeted the redhead woman in return before hugging Harry, who had stood up from his paper to say hello.
"Is everything alright?" he asked, a worried frown creasing his brow.
"Things are wonderful, actually," she replied matter-of-factly, gesturing for him to retake his seat and plunking her bag down with a heavy thud on the table. Harry's eyes widened nervously, that was an all too familiar sound from their time at Hogwarts, a sound usually immediately followed by a lengthy lecture.
The woman delved into the bag, searching for a moment before pulling out a sheaf of parchment and slapping it down in front of Harry with a triumphant smile. The man looked confused, while his wife seemed merely curious.
"Runes, Hermione?" he asked. "No offense, but…"
"The translations start on the fourth page," Hermione cut him off, gesturing impatiently. He flipped to the proper page and began to read, though the confusion never left his expression.
Finally he admitted, "Sorry 'Mione, but I don't get it."
Hermione sighed and rolled her eyes, pulling the papers back toward her and reading aloud for Ginny's benefit.
"Here I stand, on the cusp of Darkest Night.
Here I knock on the portal between worlds
So command I, 'Open!'
Come forth, spirit, reclaim your possession and life."
She paused for a moment, waiting for the excitement she herself had felt when she had discovered those words in the passage referenced by the Veil runes, but received nothing, and so continued,
"Place the glyphs of the Elder and the Yew to the north, for the path forward is through transition. Place the glyph of the Rowan to the south, to ward your back.
Abjure me with Holly and a gift, that I might guide what you seek
The Apple to the East, The Blackthorn to the west. "
When she finished, Hermione paused again in expectation, but the others simply stared blankly back at her until exasperation covered her face. "It's from the Veil!" she announced excitedly. When still no recognition showed on the pair's faces, Hermione picked up the papers and waved them inches from Harry's face.
"We can use them to bring Sirius back!" she finally clarified.
A loud gasp sounded from Ginny but Harry simply stared in disbelief at his best friend. "You said it couldn't be done," he finally said weakly.
Hermione scoffed, pointing out, "I am occasionally wrong, Harry." A snort sounded from Ginny's direction, but when Harry and Hermione glanced at her, she merely flushed red. It was then Hermione caught sight of the clock hanging over Ginny's head and shrieked.
"Harry, we're going to be late!" she exclaimed as she started to stuff papers back into her bag.
"But how are we going to—" he started only to be interrupted by Hermione again.
"How are we going to get Sirius back?" he called after her as she rushed for the door.
"After work!" She called back, already half way down the hallway, leaving the couple behind her, staring bemusedly.
"She'll explain after work, or she'll attempt to raise the dead after work?" Harry asked, giving Ginny an alarmed look.
"It's Hermione," his wife pointed out. "She'll probably explain at length while raising the dead, and then, just for fun, lecture you about not paying attention to a particular History of Magic lecture from fifteen years ago."
"Point." The forlorn mutter reached her just as the door slammed behind her, leaving her to roll her eyes in exasperation. She wasn't that bad.
Hermione crossed paths with Harry several times at the Ministry over the course of the day, each of which he tried to catch her attention and each of which she steadfastly ignored him. Breaking the rules in the middle of the night when no one was there to see was one thing; she wasn't about to continue the trend by discussing it with an Auror, of all people, in broad daylight. So she wasn't at all surprised when an irritated-looking Harry grabbed her by the elbow as she headed for the Apparition Chamber at the end of the day and dragged her in the opposite direction.
He had no sooner pulled the door to his office closed than he turned to Hermione and demanded, "Now will you please tell me exactly what you meant when you said you could bring Padfoot back, Hermione?"
"I already showed you the translation," she replied, already knowing the answer to her question but asking anyways, "What is there to explain?"
Harry blustered for a moment, and then took a deep breath, schooling his features into a semblance of calm. "Explain it to me like you would to Ron," he finally managed.
Hermione nodded and turned her attention to her bag with a small smile, muttering to herself, "We're going to be here all day at that rate," before producing her papers and turning back to Harry with her best "teacher" expression.
"Do you at least know about Samhain?" Harry nodded somewhat hesitantly and Hermione rolled her eyes.
"No you don't," she informed him.
"If you did, you would understand the Veil instructions. This first part here," she said, pointing to the first line, "makes it fairly clear that we'll be building a circle. It's old magic, nothing at all like what we were taught at Hogwarts, but it should work all the same. The rest, obviously, are just basic instructions."
Harry cast his friend an incredulous glance, muttering, "Obviously. Of course."
Hermione ignored him and continued, her excitement rising, "We'll need a number of things, I thought you might could get them since I'll be busy preparing." She shoved another slip of paper in his direction, lined with a list that likely wouldn't make sense to anyone but Hermione Granger.
"Oh," she cried, snatching the list back just as Harry reached for it and producing a quill seemingly from nowhere. "I can't believe I nearly forgot, we'll need something of Sirius's. Something he wore, preferably, but I know most of his things are gone, so hopefully anything will work."
When she had finished with that notation, she handed the paper back to Harry and said, "Owl me when you have everything. Oh, and Harry, this needs to be done tonight, it's Samhain. So hurry."
With that, she grabbed her things and slipped out the door and back into the flow of Ministry employees, leaving her friend before he could say another word.
Hermione checked her watch for the dozenth time before looking both ways down the dark street for any sign of the man who was supposed to have met her outside the Ministry exactly seven minutes ago. Three minutes later, he finally jogged up, hair dishevelled and slightly out of breath.
"You're late," she hissed, looking around the empty street to ensure no one had seen his somewhat suspicious arrival.
He shrugged with an apologetic grin. "Ginny was worried; I had to distract her somehow."
Hermione stared at the man for a moment and then the realisation of what he was implying dawned and she grimaced. "Did you at least remember the cloak?" she asked as she busied herself with her bag in an effort to erase the mental image of Harry and Ginny doing…that.
He nodded, pulling a densely folded square from his pocket and shaking the shimmering fabric free.
"Good," she said briskly "Now put it on before someone sees us and we both lose our jobs. Let's go!"
In a matter of minutes, the pair had made it through the Atrium, onto a lift, and down to the Department of Mysteries without any major mishaps, although a janitor had given her a rather concerned glance when she had seemingly run into thin air while in the middle of the Atrium.
When they finally reached the Veil Room, Harry tugged off his cloak and simply stared for a time. After a moment of quiet, he whispered, "It all looks so…peaceful."
"It really is," Hermione pointed out, "Sirius's case isn't exactly standard."
With that she began to busy herself with the preparations for one of the most complex spells she had ever attempted.
Finally, she had everything ready except for one ultimately important item.
"Did you bring something?" she asked Harry.
He nodded, producing a well-worn grey t-shirt and explaining, "I found it in his school trunk."
Hermione eyed the limp, holey garment with distaste and then shrugged. "As long as he wore it, I suppose."
The shirt was placed in the final spot of a carefully constructed circle, which Hermione then stepped into, warning Harry, "Whatever happens, don't make a sound. Oh, and please, for the love of Circe, don't let anyone into the room."
With that, she raised her wand and began to cast the spell she had been practicing almost constantly for the past twenty-four hours.
" Anseo seasamh mé, ar an cusp oíche is dorcha.
Aqui eu cnag ar an tairseach idir saol."
A loud crack sounded, and the entire room shuddered, but Hermione continued without pause.
"Mar sin, ordú mé, 'Oscail!' Tar amach, biotáille, do sheilbh agus an saol a éileamh ar ais."
As her last word echoed through the room, another crack sounded, followed by another, then another. Then a huge shudder rumbled, almost as if the ancient room were heaving a sigh, and Harry and Hermione watched in silent horror as, piece by heavy piece, the arch crumbled to the ground, carrying the Veil with it.
Neither of the pair moved, rooted by shock until the last of the thick dust settled. Then, Harry moved, striding across the room to where Hermione stood, not moving except to blink and breathe.
"Hermione," he urged, touching her arm. "Hermione, we have to go. Someone had to have heard that." Finally, her head turned to face him, her expression blank.
"What did I do?" she asked, her voice at an uneven tone between a whisper and a whimper. "I destroyed a piece of history. In the Ministry of Magic. I'm an Unspeakable. I'm going to lose my job. And poor Sirius…"
Her voice trailed off and Harry wrapped one hand around her forearm, having collected all the items she had laid out as she spoke and gently tugged her away from the circle and the pile of rubble and back through the Ministry.
She didn't say another word until they were again on the street, the cold wind whipping around their robes. Then, she murmured, "I'm sorry I couldn't bring him back, Harry."
He turned to face her with a forced smile. "Not to worry, 'Mione. We all decided years ago it couldn't be done. Are you okay to get home?"
She nodded and he clasped her in a quick hug before stepping back, saying, "See you on Monday then, 'Mione," and Disapparating with a pop that was too loud in the silence.
Unwilling to return to her flat with only her cat and the quiet for company quite yet, Hermione shed her robes, transfigured her cloak into a coat, and set off down the street. By the time she made it home, having walked all the way from the Ministry to her flat and having braved the throngs of people in ridiculous costumes out celebrating Halloween, she was too tired to think and fell asleep completely unaware of the change she had wrought in the world that night.
A/N: I hope you enjoyed! Don't forget to review!