A/N: I disappeared I apologise long story short, I've been through a break up, my car cost me just under £1000 to repair and has been on and off the road all throughout May, I brought a new car and work 6 days a week and they're 11 hour shifts. Also went on holiday which got cancelled half way through... So I'm sorry guys been a hell of a few months.
READ ME! Regardless of what you think read to the end guys unless you don't like the story then why bother reading? But for those who do, you will regret not reading all the way through.
Disclaimer: I do not own any recognisable characters and no money has been made from this.
From the Ashes
Thud. Thud. Thud.
The sound of hammering echoes throughout the school, accompanied by the noise of laughter and shouting. Stone meets stone and slowly, inch by inch Hogwarts rises from the ashes. The sound of building only a murmur in the hospital ward where a young girl sleeps bathed in white. All around her sit flowers, chocolates and cards.
Hermione Granger sleeps oblivious to the world around her. One hand bandaged and another arm covered by a long sleeve, she shifts in her sleep. Eyes snap open, hazel orbs disorientated confused and Hermione blinks. Groggily, she turns her head to the sound of footsteps. A short whisper is motioned before footsteps retreat.
She eyes all the cards around her, the odd trinkets lining her bed and best wishes glaring brightly at her. Groaning, she pulls herself into a sitting position, clutching the bed sheet to her abdomen. Aware that she is now wearing a hospital gown that looks a size too big. Then she hears it. The banging, the sound of workers and the laughter. Outside the sun is shining and it gives her a sense of foreboding.
Her body tingles, she feels drowsy as though she has slept for a decade, but there is no pain. Looking down she traces the bandage covering her right hand. She does not remember hurting her hand; she barely recalls much of how she came to end up in the hospital ward.
Heels click on stone and Hermione turns towards the newcomer. She smiles as she recognises Professor McGonagall striding towards her, but the smiles drops when realises this Professor is much older to the one she is used to seeing. Oh god no. Bella. Dumbledore asking her to accompany him to his office and then a blinding light and nothing.
"Hermione." McGonagall greets, walking towards her bed. "It is good to finally see you awake."
"Professor…" Hermione gulps, unable to tear her eyes away from the hospital door. The damage unmistakable, damaged by magic and a result of the war fought.
"I imagine you are confused." McGonagall says, coming to a stop next to the bed.
"What…" Hermione breaths.
"You are home." McGonagall confirms her suspicions and Hermione's heart stops. Bella. "You arrived two days ago; I must admit it gave me quite a fright. Appearing in a blinding light in my office, my most promising student landing unconscious on my floor."
"Dumbledore…" Hermione hisses her mind trying to remember what the old man did. She hopes his alive. Hopes she can hunt him down for what he did. "Where am I, I mean what time?"
"Calm yourself child." McGonagall orders, firmly pushing Hermione back on to her bed. "There must be many questions running through your mind, I can only answer one at a time. Two days ago, Mr Weasley came running to me to inform me that you vanished in a blinding light. I will say you have only been missing for two days."
"What of Bella?" Hermione demands.
A hiss of breath, McGonagall turns away, reaching for a chair she pulls it closer to the bed before slowly sitting down. Hermione's heartbreaks, she knows the answer before McGonagall opens her mouth.
"Bellatrix Lestrange is dead." McGonagall says quietly taking Hermione's hand.
No… Bella died at the battle of Hogwarts. Yet, her mind knows her real Bella died years ago. After everything, everything they did, every promise, Bella married Lestrange. Bile rises in her throat and tears swell in her eyes. She lied. She chose him. Her fist clenches and before she knows it: she pukes. She manages to avoid her Professor; she bends over emptying her stomach. A hand rests on her back and silent tears slip down her face.
A blast blew McGonagall, Kinglsey and Slughorn backwards, flailing and writhing through the air, as Voldemort's fury at the fall of his last, best Lieutenant exploded with the force of a bomb.
She gasps at the memory, clear as day. She saw Bellatrix die. Die at the hands of Mrs Weasley, can hear the ringing of her last laugh, and remembers the shock on her face. She collapses backwards as Minerva removes the sick from the room with a flick of a wand. A handkerchief is lightly pressed into her unbandage hand and she wipes her mouth.
A dry sob escapes her and her chest freezes. Ice runs her veins and nothing. She feels nothing. No emotion, no thoughts not even her heartbeat. She is hollow. A sharp jolt in her mind has eyes snapping to Minerva who flinches at the unexpected move.
"Dumbledore." She grinds out.
"Died." Minerva answers, "Snape killed him, and all part of a greater good as Mr Potter tells us."
"So nothing changed?" After everything, everything she went through it was all for nothing. "Everyone is dead who was dead and everything I went through was for nothing."
"No…" is the quick reply, a cold hand touches a warm one. "Bellatrix may have followed the path set for her, but she had a chance. She chose a life of servitude."
Scoffing, Hermione shrugs of the hand, pulling her knees to her chest for some sort of protection. She was foolish and stupid to think she could change Bella. Foolish to trust Dumbledore. She failed. Failed to save Bella, failed to help the Death Eaters, and poor Andy lost her daughter to her sister. All because of her.
"God," Hermione mumbles wiping falling tears. "Andy must hate me."
"No one hates you Hermione." Is the soft reprisal.
"All that time and I didn't warn Andy that her daughter will die at Bella's hands!" She hates herself, watching Andy and Bella bicker during her time with them only to have them driven so far a part that Bella kills Andy's only daughter.
"TONKS!" She cries her voice raw as the spell strikes the young Auror on the chest, a flash of green light blinding her.
She watches as the witch's body is thrown several feet back, and she cannot help the scream that rips through her throat.
Cringing at the memory, she wonders if apologising profusely to the middle Black sister will ever be enough. How could it be? She failed her friend. Told her friend to follow her heart only to have it ripped out later in life, not only losing her daughter but also her husband.
"Nymphadora is alive and well." Hermione chokes at Minerva's words. "Currently, mourning the death of her husband, but she is alive."
No. It was impossible, she saw Tonks die. She died at the hands of Bellatrix.
"She suffered a concussion but otherwise okay."
Hermione sees it, a shifting of a memory, morphing from the original into something else. Except this time it is not Bellatrix attacking Tonks, it's a different Death Eater. Bellatrix is duelling in the distance and an explosion throws all three of them to the floor. The cackling of Bellatrix in the distance as she disapparates leaving them buried under rumble. Hermione drags Tonks to the nearest Healer before running to find Harry.
Groaning under the on slaughter of the memory, Hermione tries to focus. Two different memories fighting to the surface of her mind and she shudders.
"Nymphadora died at the battle before you went back in time?" Minerva asks, concerned.
"Yes, Bellatrix killed her."
The statement meets silence, and Hermione wonders what is going through Minerva's mind. Somehow, she has affected time; someone was alive who should not be. Was her going back in time a mistake? Was this all a big accident, was she a walking paradox? Someone is alive who should not be and Hermione is the only living soul who knows.
"What of Harry and Ron, they're okay aren't they?" She feels sick at herself, why didn't she ask about them first.
"They are fine, worried and wishing to see you of course." McGonagall smiles, her eyes roaming to the get-well cards lining the foot of her bed.
Guilt ripples through her heart and she refuses to meet the gaze of her mentor. How could she look into the eyes of her friends, especially after everything she has done? She became what they fought against; she fell for a Death Eater and murderer. Bella killed Sirius. None the less a small part of her laughs, she has done enough for Harry she does not need his approval. She is quick to quieten this voice. She is no longer pretending to be someone else; such thoughts banished.
"I don't want to see them." Hermione mutters.
"I see," Minerva nods pulling away. "They have missed you greatly."
"When will I be able to return home?" Hermione asks she wants to return home. She does not want to subject herself to her friends just yet. She can imagine their questions, the lingering looks the worry.
"Hermione… You have suffered a great shock."
"I want to go home," Hermione snaps. "I have been trapped in this school for too long, playing fiddle to Dumbledore, Voldemort and the Rothstein's. Please Minerva I would like to go home and rest." To mourn.
Licking her lips, Minerva nods slowly. There would be time for a reunion another day. What would one more day be to Harry and Ron? Hermione tries her best to hide the tears that threaten to spill, not wanting to appear weak.
"I will need to see the list of the dead." She shudders at the thought, the thought of seeing her friends on a death list. "To know how much I have changed."
"Another day, for now I will speak to Pomfrey." Minerva rises to her feet, sparing one last look before leaving.
Grateful for the privacy, Hermione pulls the pillow into her arms. Burying her face she cries, a wail silenced by the pillow hides her heartbreak from the world. What has she done? Tears stain the stainless white pillowcase and her heart cracks. Bella is gone.
~~~~~ Turn Time ~~~~~
The air is thick with humidity as Hermione arrives in the dusk, her shoes touching burning pavement, the sun setting behind her. Cries in the distance of children still out playing and the low croaks of birds as they settle for the night accompany her short walk to her front door. Pomfrey released her, leaving her to apparate home.
True to word, Minerva kept her potion and her notebook safe, said notebook sitting in her hand. When she has the strength, she will hunt her parents down and return their memories to them. She hopes they will forgive her for altering their memories, while wondering if they will return to Britain or stay in Australia.
Her key slides into the lock and as she pushes the door open, she feels the reassuring presence of her charms still in place. The gloom greets her in the hallway like a loyal pet, welcoming her to the house that she never realised was so big. There is not a piece of dust out of place and as the door swings closed behind her, she hopes for something. A miracle.
There standing on her stairs is Bellatrix Lestrange, wand pointed and ready. A sadistic smile lingering on her face and ominous black eyes staring her down.
Except it's all a lie.
The stairway is empty and her wards advise her the house has only given entrance to herself. A sigh escapes her; perhaps she is crazy wishing for Bellatrix Lestrange, the Bellatrix that died months ago was not the Bella she knew.
Locking the door, she wanders into the kitchen; with remorse, she notices nothing out of place. She makes tea the muggle way while sitting on the worktop staring endlessly at the fridge. Her mother's list months old reminding her of birthdays upcoming and long since passed. She feels suspended unable to swing to grab the side, staring into the black depths of a gaping hole.
Angrily she slams her half-empty cup on to the worktop, wiping the silent tears away with enough force to bruise she jumps down. She will not cry. Not again. Bella chose her path and now she will live with her consequences. Never the less, each step is a challenge, her feet heavy as her heart and her shoulders have lost their purposeful poise she managed to acquire in the land of long ago.
Settling down on the sofa she eyes the open books forgotten in her haste to talk to Mrs Malfoy, she will have to pay the witch a visit. A chat is in order she thinks to herself, a cruel smile gracing her lips. She spends her next few hours re-reading her notebook, eyes narrowing at Dumbledore's scrawl and glad the old man passed away before she could meet him. She would need to visit his portrait, she wants answers and she will be damned if he should hide from her.
She falls asleep with tear streaks drying and the sound of muggles going about their evenings. The backfiring of an engine startles her awake and she is jumping from the sofa wand gripped in sweaty hands. Running a hand through her hair, she stretches her back a glance to the clock on the wall informs her it is nearing midnight. Deciding to grab a drink to take to her bed, she notes her notebook sitting on the table, swearing she had fallen asleep with it in her hands. She is losing her mind, she reasons as she shuffles bleary eyed through the living room to the kitchen.
A clatter makes her jump and she is hiding behind a wall before she realises what she is doing. Too long, she has danced with her enemies to feel truly relaxed even in neutral territory; she scolds herself, recognising the sound of the cat flap. The house is safe, no one knows where she is and there is very few out there wishing her harm. The Golden Trio may have saved to the wizarding world but to a limited few, they are enemies. She doubts any such enemies will come crawling through her cat flap to enact their revenge for the falling of Voldemort.
With a mental slap, she leaves the safety of her wall to investigate which neighbourhood cat has laid claim to her parents' house. She wonders if she has any cat food, and knows you shouldn't feed stray cats yet she cannot let the cat go hungry.
Yellow eyes glare up at her from under the dining room table and she stops. Big bandy legs splayed out, head turned up in disgust she stares at the ginger creature in awe. The steady thump of bottlebrush tail informs her one creature is not amused.
"Crookshanks…" Hermione breathes in disbelief dropping to her knees in front of her pet.
A silent meow greets her, as though his presence is the most common occurrence and she is a fool for thinking otherwise. She smiles. Wasting little time, she rushes forward engulfing her cat in a giant hug much to his displeasure, yet he allows it. She sinks her face into his fur, her eyes water as his familiar scent overloads her senses. Except there is another smell there too, a hint of perfume. She scowls wondering which old biddy in her neighbourhood dare feed her cat.
"Did you find your way back home?" She asks, setting the disgruntled cat down.
The last she saw of Crookshanks was the night Death Eaters attacked the wedding, she looked after the war for him but there was no sign. He must have come home and waited for her. The smile on her face drops slightly as she eyes the cat flap. Her hand half way to making a fuss of him and his greedy eyes willing it to stroke him. Except she cannot, because it does not make sense. Even though her cat is sitting in front of her a look of wonder on his scrunched up face as though unable to contemplate why she has yet to fuss him. She stares at the cat flap. Not once has Crookshanks used the cat flat. Her father always complained half-heartedly that he had to open the door for her pet because he would not lower himself to use the cat flap.
That's when she recognises the familiar smell, the prickling of goose bumps and Crookshanks eyes are staring over her shoulder. Moreover, she realises after everything that has happened, all the death and heartache, the betrayal of her pet hits the hardest.
The room flashes a bright yellow, as she moves to block the spell, but she is too late. A scream erupts from her throat, startling Crookshanks into hiding and she is falling backwards. Fire ignites a thousand needles piercing her skin and tearing her apart. Her body slackens, she hits the floor with a loud thud, pulsing and throbbing she arches under the curse. Her voice breaks first, before the tears fall and everything stops. The world vanishes behind a black curtain and darkness envelopes her.
Thump… Thump… Thump…
Life is a rude awakening she stirs – alive. The ceiling welcomes her back to the land of the living, her mouth slack, her body numb and her mind spinning.
Thump. Thump. Thump.
Her heartbeat becomes steady, echoing in her ears, vibrating through her body. She feels life. Breathing is painful and she wonders just how much she will have to put her body through before fate gives her a break.
"Welcome back." A gravelly voice greets her.
Lazily she rolls her head to the side, surprised at finding herself in the living room once more. Next to her face sits a glass of water tantalisingly close but so far for her numb body to reach. Her eyes catch the shadowy figure sitting in the armchair with elegance of a queen upon her throne. Bellatrix Lestrange stares down at her, the orange glow from the street lamp illuminating her like an omen from the depths of hell.
"I'm going to make this simple. I have questions, you answer them and I will answer one of yours in return. I have your wand. Your body is currently indisposed and the only muscles working are in your face, so I recommend you put them to good use." Bellatrix barks, her words clipped and impassive.
This is not the Bellatrix she met at Malfoy manor nor is she the witch she fell for, this a creature she does not know. Bellatrix sits relaxed wand lazily hanging in her right hand and Hermione wonders when the woman retrieved it. How did she survive the battle of Hogwarts? She saw her die at the hands of Molly Weasley and yet here she is. Her body is testament that this is not a memory. She wonders what spell Bellatrix used; her body feels as though ten crucio's struck her and now she cannot move.
"When you regain strength I suggest you take a drink." Bellatrix advises, slowly leaning forward as a straw materialises in her glass.
With a sense of Déjà vu, Hermione drinks the water, her mouth less parched she eyes the unnaturally calm Bellatrix with distrust. Never in her time with the witch has she seen Bellatrix calm, almost tranquil and with dread she realises this Bellatrix is truly terrifying.
"What…" Coughing, Hermione spares the dark witch a glare before forcing her burning throat to work. "What… questions?"
"Why did you go back in time?"
The question stuns her she was not expecting that. Blinking like a fool, she focuses her mind ever wondering why the witch just does not ask… Andy. Did her leaving drive Andy and Bella apart, will that be her question. How did she survive? On the other hand, maybe what spell did she use?
"You don't know?" Hermione asks before she can stop herself. Bellatrix merely raises an eyebrow rotating her wand in a warning to hurry things along.
So she speaks, she bares all. How she was looking for a cure to her parents, finding the answer in the book that led her to Mrs Malfoy, she ignores the questioning look. Knows what Bellatrix is thinking why did she talk to Cissy and not Andy? How could she talk to the woman who looks exactly like the witch that tortured her?
She ends her tale with the moment Ron pushed her and the Time Turner broke in her hand. Her last thoughts of Bellatrix having the answers and there she found herself. Caked in mud, bleeding and facing a girl who resembled nothing of the woman sitting in front of her.
"That's it?" Bites Bellatrix the moment her mouth stops.
"That's it." Hermione nods. "It was just an accident."
All of this was just an accident.
"Who knew?" Bellatrix questions. "Who knew of your true identity?"
"Dumbledore, Minerva and the Rothstein's although to what knowledge Dumbledore imparted to them I don't know. They are the only ones who knew my name. Andy figured it out, but I never told her anything more."
"They are the only ones who knew?" Bellatrix clarifies, her black eyes narrowing. "Of course they are you couldn't risk damaging the time line."
"Too late." Hermione murmurs, because Tonks is alive so is Bellatrix, makes her wonder who else is.
"Explain." Is the short command.
"There are people alive who shouldn't be."
"People such as me?"
"People such as Nymphadora, you and I haven't checked who else." Hermione snaps, tired of her body failing to work. "There are people walking around who should be dead and if they're not it means someone else took their place."
Groaning, Hermione forces her arm to move, much to the enjoyment of the dark witch. Her limbs are jelly, they struggle and give under her rough treatment but she pushes herself. She refuses to be weak again, not in front of Bellatrix and never to anyone else.
"You won't be able to stand." Bellatrix drawls. "I wouldn't even try."
"Fuck. You." Hermione grinds out, watching in satisfaction as Bellatrix twitches in annoyance.
A short cackle is the only reply as Hermione falls back to the floor, her body wounded and unable to work. She groans in annoyance, her mind is strong but her body weak. A letter lands in front of Hermione's face and she blinks at the scrawl. Shakily her fingers graze the rough parchment, her eyes scanning the two sentences as Bellatrix talks.
"Someone doesn't like you very much."
This Hermione has no doubt of, there are many people in the world who would want her dead, especially now. However, it seems Bellatrix has called shotgun for being first in line. Anxiously she stares at her own unveiling unnerved that someone betrayed her.
Two simple sentences that have become her undoing, she drops the paper as though it burns. Her gaze landing on Bellatrix. She does not recognise the handwriting and wonders just who gave away her identity.
"I received that letter at the beginning of the battle of Hogwarts. An owl dropped it into my waiting hands. Do you have any idea how long I waited? All these years I waited for a sign of you." She rises from her chair, as Hermione vision blurs slightly the pounding of her heart ringing in her ears as Bellatrix paces. "I hunted, I stole and tortured. Not a word of you existed. It is easier than you expect, Voldemort gave me a means, a way to do what I liked without becoming suspicious. I became ruthless, a murderer and slightly insane. I suppose my stint in Azkaban may have tipped me over the edge. I lost the only person I respected to a baby boy and Azkaban was ever so inviting. I gave up on finding you, Mia Rothstein was gone and no one knew where. Then the dawn of the final battle, someone spoke out. Imagine my surprise to learn that I had you after all. That after all that waiting you walked right into Malfoy manor and none of us recognised you."
"Someone did." Hermione breathes, her mind running through everyone who it could be.
Except she cannot imagine who, her mind struggles to grasp a fragment as her heart constricts. Faces appear in front of her eyes, those who should be dead but she no longer knows if they are. It's overwhelming and she struggles to grasp reality. Knows that at any moment the witch standing above her might end her life.
"What curse did you use?" Because despite everything she is Hermione Granger deep down and knowledge is her undoing.
"That's your question? I might kill you tonight and you want to know what curse I used on you?"
"I need to know." Hermione growls, she has to know.
"It's my own version of Crucio I've only ever used it once before…. On the Longbottoms."
That would explain the pain in her mind. She feels as though the curse split her in two. Her mind trapped in two different worlds and she can see the things that once were, that no longer are. She can feel the sand in her blood, pulsing and burning under her skin. Two different worlds merging into one and it scorches her very existence and she prays for Bellatrix to end it.
"What are you waiting… for?" Hermione demands, her hands failing to push her up. "Finish what you started."
Only Bellatrix does not move, like a predator she analyses her prey before her. The weak and defenceless lying at her feet. As Hermione falls further into the abyss of her mind, she wonders how long she will have to suffer.
"I won't free you from this cage." Bellatrix says her voice sounding far away. "I can only imagine what you are feeling. To have two realities running through your mind."
"End this…" Hermione growls or is it begs, she is no longer sure, the world is beginning to pivot and spin.
She collapses onto her back, the ceiling morphing into a spiral and the horrendous rushing noise of silence deafens her. She can feel reality slipping between her fingertips, as one hands grabs the sofa for purchase, hoping it will stop her from falling into the vortex in her mind. Faces, names, places and life flashes through her mind, memories changing. She feels like a computer being updated all the old data being stripped away and replaced. Its mind numbing.
The slightest touch to her cheek grounds her, as fingers leaving a burning trail along it to her chin. Crazy black hair cocoons her, sending a fresh wave of fear through her, reminding her of the last time Bellatrix Lestrange pinned her down. Except a gentle hand rests against her racing heart almost soothing her into a calming trance. Dark eyes sweep across her failing body before connecting to wild hazel ones and time stops.
"You haven't aged a day…" Bellatrix… or is it Bella breathes in disbelief. "Hermione…" The name escapes unbidden from ruby lips and Hermione's heart quickens.
For so long she has wished the witch to say her name, to whisper her real name. Her free hand grasps Bellatrix's arm and dark eyes snap back to reality.
"End this." Hermione requests end her suffering.
The hand over her heart moves, she has a sick feel of martyr willing the crooked wand to finish her. None the less there is no cruel smile, or cackling laughter and she knows Bellatrix will not kill her this night. Instead, a small genuine smile flickers across the Dark Witch's face before ruby lips steal a kiss. It is a heart-breaking kiss, stealing the last of her breath and the final thump of her heart. She is enamoured with Bellatrix as she pulls away and for the first time in centuries sees the small sign of the Bella she knew at Hogwarts.
"I waited years to see you again, do you truly think I waited that long to kill you?" A short chuckle escapes the poisonous lips as Bellatrix pulls away. "You get to live with your consequences as do I. Fate has plans for us Granger, I would hate to disappoint."
She is moving standing up and breaking their little bubble of safety as the world spins once more. "My sister must truly hate you, she warned me she would alert the Auror's to my existence when I visited her manor. All to regain favour with the ministry of course, but she is taking her sweet time about it."
A laugh escapes Hermione; she cannot help it so entertaining that even now, Narcissa Malfoy is still trying to kill her. "She does enjoy trying to kill me… Ask her…" Hermione breathes her throat constricting and her chest becoming heavy. "Ask about Malfoy… or better yet… Ask Malfoy."
"The night during Christmas break?" Bellatrix demands, seeking an answer long since lost. "Malfoy attacked you didn't he? You fought back?"
"I'm sorry…" Hermione mumbles lost in her own mind.
"Did he attack you?"
Shrieking noise echoes around the house. Aurors are coming. They have found Bellatrix, cursing Bellatrix reaches for her cloak. Through hazy eyes, Hermione observes Bellatrix one last time.
"I nearly killed him that night…" Hermione whispers her confession unsure if Bellatrix heard or not. "I'm so sorry…"
Darkness blinds her as unconsciousness crawls along her very body pulling her down; when her eyes reopen, Bellatrix is gone with no mention of the witch. A light bathes the room as shouting begins and feet march into the house. The house turned upside down in search of the Death Eater. Hermione watches in and out of consciousness as the Aurors desperately search for Bellatrix, before another familiar face appears before her.
"Minerva…" Hermione smiles.
"It's okay Hermione you're safe now. Just stay awake." Minerva assures, as Mediwizards file around her.
"She won't come back…" Hermione grins. "She got what she wanted." Her eyes finally slide close to the sound of shouting.
When Hermione woke two weeks later, the newspapers were running wild with the survival of Bellatrix Lestrange, each paper spinning a tale of how the witch survived. One going so far as to suggest she rose from the dead. The truth however is still unknown and despite the Auror's best efforts, nothing is heard from her. Her attack on one of the Golden Trio documented through every paper and rumours run wild. Aurors instantly swamped both Harry and Ron as fears for their lives became apparent. However, as days grew into weeks the fear of attack became less likely the thought that Bellatrix may have fled the country became more so.
Hospital bound again, it took Hermione two days after waking to convince McGonagall that reading a paper would not kill her and she wanted to know what was happening in the real world. Eventually, the Aurors relaxed and the manhunt on Bellatrix Lestrange although still ongoing is not what it used to be. She remains the number one most wanted in Magical Britain but Harry and Ron were allowed to visit Hermione finally.
She prepared herself for the barrage of questions; she gave them a brief history of what happened missing any hint of a relationship with Bellatrix. They laughed at her joining Ravenclaw; she spewed stories of their teachers. When Harry left her to sleep, Ron stayed, she did not look forward to spending time with Ron alone but the result surprised her.
"I'm sorry Hermione. I should have never of said the things I did and I realise now that you were right, like usual, that it wouldn't have worked out in the end. You're my best friend 'Mione and like a sister to me. So if you can forgive me for being a jerk can we be friends again?" The apology brought tears to her eyes and she gladly agreed, they spared each other a hug that was no longer awkward and Ron handed her a chocolate frog before leaving.
The apology still brings a smile to her face, but her presence at the Burrow is no longer welcome. The warning became clear when Molly Weasley came with her children to visit. The looks from Molly were apparent, she remembered what Hermione had become and as her children all filed out the door one by one with smiles. Molly remained her false cheerful demeanour slipping away.
"I know what you are." Molly hissed. "I know what you became you don't affiliate with someone like Bellatrix Black without becoming tainted."
The statement made Hermione smile as she answered. "Maybe it wasn't Bella that was tainted."
The words stopped Molly cold and the smile made her step back. "I don't want you in my home or near my children do you understand?"
Mrs Weasley never waited for an answer she left that night and never returned to St Mungo's to visit. Many reasoned it was because she could not face the sight of so many people ill after losing Fred. Hermione knew the real reason.
That was a week ago, as she slumbers and dreams of release from the confines of her hospital room, a shadow glides into her room. A small candle is lit disturbing Hermione from her sleep, the figure startling her into action and racing for her wand she does not have.
"It's only me…" A voice reassures unhelpfully, because in the gloom of the night, it looks like Bellatrix and Hermione does not wish to fight the witch in such a fragile state. "Come now I may have grown old, but you can't forget my beauty."
Despite her sleep-clogged mind, Hermione smiles at the welcome satire voice that sounds like honey to her ears. While her eyes adjust to the dark, the figure removes her cloak and settles in the un-comfy chair beside her bed.
"Andy?" Hermione questions the presence of the witch.
"She does remember me, Hermione… or is it Mia these days?" Andy asks, lighting a lantern and filling the room in a burning orange light.
Shaking her head at the question Hermione sits up, her eyes dancing over the witch sitting next to her. She has met Andy before in this time, but for the first time since she returned home she feels like she has a friend. A friend from long ago.
"How are you?" Andy asks seriously finally meeting Hermione's eye.
"Bored, Harry brought me a couple books but I didn't have the heart to tell him I've already read them. How did you get in?"
"My daughter's an Auror; her job has its uses." Andy smiles, she barely looks past thirty and still showing her youthful spirit to defy rules.
Hermione wants to join in with the smile, to grin at her friend, except she cannot. Because she knows this is not a social visit, if Andy wanted to see her she could have visited during the day. Instead, she sneaks in at the dead of night.
"This isn't a social visit is it? Why are you here Andy?"
"I can't visit an old friend?" Andy chuckles.
"You can but outside of visiting hours and with the help of an Auror?"
The laughter dies out and Andy lets out a sigh. Hermione can feel the tension in the air, the sense of foreboding feels her. She wonders if maybe her friend was here to finish what Bellatrix started, who would suspect it?
"I am sorry." Andy whispers unwilling to meet Hermione's eyes she rises from the chair and walks to the window. "This was never meant to happen you must believe that."
That is when it clicks in Hermione's mind, that everything makes sense. "You sent Bellatrix the letter?"
"I never intended for this to happen!" Andy repeats turning around to face Hermione. "After Shell Cottage after you were rescued from my bloody sister, after what she did to you. The scar on your arm, the anger building inside you and that look in your eye. I remembered that night in the library when my friend Mia Rothstein collapsed on the floor and relieved the torture. I knew who you were. Who you would become."
"Why do it?" Hermione asks caught between anger and hurt at Andy's betrayal. "Why tell Bellatrix?"
"I saw my daughter die…" Is the defeated answer from Andy's lips. "I saw my daughter die at the hands of my sister as you slept in my room during Christmas break dreaming about it. The war was coming, the last stand was Hogwarts and I did what any mother would do. I chose to save my daughter. I had a chance to save Nymph, I begged her not to fight, not to go. She has a son stay home and protect him but she wouldn't listen."
"So you sent Bellatrix that letter in hopes that Bellatrix's attention would be fixed solely on me?"
"She died!" Andy protests. "Like everyone else I watched my sister die at Molly's hand, which was it. Nymph lived, Bella died. If I knew, the outcome would have been this I would have never have done it. Forgive me I never expected this outcome."
Silence reigns, as the only noise in the room is Andy's deep breathing. Hermione shakes her head to dispel thoughts before fixing her eyes on the slightly shaking woman.
"I can't forgive you." Hermione voices, causing sadness to wash over Andy. "Because there is nothing to forgive. I understand why you did what you did Andy and I'm glad Nymph is alive."
"It's okay Andy. There is nothing to worry about, I am happy that something good came out of all of this. At least one life was spared."
The hug was unexpected as the middle Black sister hugged her tightly, with a whisper of thank you. Before retreating from the room.
"If you need anything let me know, no matter how big the request." Andy orders as she leaves the room.
Rising from her bed, Hermione walks towards the window, as darkness engulfs her room and the lantern blows out behind her. Leaning her head against the window, she stares out towards the street below as the clouds above roll by. She wonders where Bellatrix is, wonders just what her future has in store for her now.
She plans her future the next day, she plans to travel with McGonagall in search of her parents to restore their memory and from there she will return to Hogwarts to finish her last year. After that, she assumes she will have to look for a job, perhaps with the ministry of magic, but unlike the boys, she has no interest in becoming an Auror.
Bellatrix Lestrange revokes her name and despite being on the run manages to change her name back to Bellatrix Black. The news travels fast and causes an uproar, with Harry and Ron training for Aurors they promise Hermione they will catch Bellatrix who is obviously still in the country. Except the most unexpected thing happens, as days go by and with more Ex Death Eaters landing in Azkaban the ministry releases a statement of how they are managing to round them up. Bellatrix Black. Officially wanted. Unofficially being paid on the side by the ministry as a bounty hunter.
Hermione laughs to herself as she learns of this news, as fears strikes all of Britain the Voldemort's most trusted enforcer is not only lose but chasing down criminals. No one is truly safe. As months go by and chaos settles and Hermione travels to Australia in search of her parents she hears of how Harry and Ron are getting on with their training. She spends her days sunbathing, her reunion is at first terrifying and as memories return emotional. Her parents forgive and she informs them on what they missed, but they do not return to England. Hermione doubts they ever will. They have made a life for themselves; her mum has finally opened up a small B&B by the seaside the one she always dreamed. Her parents semi-retired Hermione promises to visit; being a witch makes it a lot easier she can cross the world in no time at all. McGonagall sets up a floo network in their fireplace and tests it for the first time before being satisfied and floo's back to England. Hermione wishes her parents well with the promise to visit as she gathers the floo powder in her hand and destination in mind her mum drops an innocent bomb with countless repercussions.
"Hogwarts." Hermione says dropping the powder.
"Give my love to Bella won't you!"
Her mother vanishes with a blur. As Hermione returns to Hogwarts with hurtling speed into the Headmistress office and to land squarely in front of a portrait with a smug Dumbledore watching. She does not know what to make of her mother's farewell. She doubts she will ever forgive Dumbledore or that she will see the last of him. She will forever be wondering when Bellatrix will next pay her a visit and what her prophecy meant. She does know that no one in the present actually knows just how powerful she is. No one knows what Hermione Jean Granger is capable of and that makes her smile. A smile that makes even Dumbledore frown and that is worth everything.
Because for once, she is in charge of her life and she we will not let that power go.
Sequel to follow A Drop in the Ocean: story/story_edit_ ?storyid=9284702
The trio of gold will crumble, one will turn, and another blind, the last will be consumed by power beyond their control. Hope will rise from the ashes and with it a new age – a new era. The actions of the past will affect the actions of the present and with it death will show them no – mercy.
A/N:So I hoped you enjoyed this story, I know I did. But as you can see it's not over, a prologue of a the story A Drop in the Ocean is already up. I won't be updating the sequel just yet want to give myself time to write a few chapters, so will be up soon. I would love to hear your thoughts, so far only one person who reviewed actualy caught on where I was going. The next story is going to be interesting and hold a few more answers.
I want to say a massive thank you to all those who reviewed for taking the time out of your lives to review this little story. You don't know how much that has spurred me on to get to writing I always go back and re-read to give me inspiration. To everyone who's followed this story from the beginning I hope you've enjoyed this as much as I have.
For everyone who favourited and followed thank you guys, enjoy this chapter.
Until A Drop in the Ocean I will see you there...