Chapter 1: Chapter One
Title: Granger’s Anatomy
Title of Challenge: Time Turner Reversal Challenge
Disclaimer: This story is based on characters and situations created and owned by J.K. Rowling, various publishers including but not limited to Bloomsbury Books, Scholastic Books, and Raincoast Books, and Warner Bros, Inc. No money is being made and no copyright or trademark infringement is intended. Also, quotes from the U.S. television show “Grey’s Anatomy” were used in compilation to create this fiction, thus I own nothing, I merely altered a few words here and there, and used them to set the mood, so to speak.
Rating: T (FFnet), NoSex (AFFnet), PG-13 (AO3)
Warnings: TimeTravelForward Fic
Summary: Forced to move on with her life, keeping a secret so huge that her own best friends would forever hate her if they were to find out, Hermione Granger - Resident Healer-in-Training - resigns herself to a life of loneliness in the hopes that the man she loved fiercely will return to her in due time.
Beta Appreciation: I will appreciate myself as my own beta for this oneshot, even though I suck at beta’ing my own writings. *pats self on back*
Word Count: 9,540
There’s this thing that happens when people find out you’re a Healer. They stop seeing you as a person, and begin to see you as something bigger than you are. They have to see us that way, as Gods. Otherwise, we’re just like everyone else - unsure, flawed, normal. So we act strong, we remain stoic. We hide the fact that we’re all too human.
23 July 2006
The décor of the Maternity Ward of St. Mungo’s Hospital was…eclectic. Each corridor was a different assigned color scheme; blue, green, pink, yellow, and white. Each color had a meaning, and she was far too familiar with all of them. Blue and pink were for deliveries, though just as many girls were born in Blue Hall as boys born in Pink Hall – sexes were never discriminated against when assigning pregnant witches too rooms (it would have wasted too much time to sort out). The delivery halls were separated by Yellow Hall, which was set in the middle of Blue and Pink for the newborn nursery and viewing area. Green Hall was down the corridor from Yellow Hall, before White Hall, and it seemed to Hermione that Green was the wizarding equivalent to a Muggle “N.I.C.U.” And she would know – she had spent her spare time during the last five years studying muggle medicine, as well as wizarding.
But unfortunately she did not have the pleasure of being called in on her day off to Blue, Pink, Yellow, or Green Hall. No bright and colorful floors for Hermione that day because she had been paged on her day off to White Hall – and no Healer Resident enjoyed being called in to White Hall, especially on their day off.
So, down at the end of the green-scheme corridor, there was a line about a meter in front of a door closing off White Hall from Green. It kept out the cries and screams – the grim happenings – in the corridor beyond that door, and kept the rest of the Maternity Ward in relative calm. Sometimes there was that one, rare miracle that made White Hall less ominous. Sometimes there were days that made her residency training a little more bearable when she was put on Maternity service under Healer Stiltshire. Hermione was, technically, on call for the Lycanthropy Ward for the next two weeks, and she had requested this specific day off, but when a war hero requests Hermione Granger as their treating Healer – well, no one says “no” to a war hero.
There was already an intern waiting for her at the door. What was this fresh face called? Tizzie? Bizzie? No, Posey – Posey Foster, that was her name. She was a first year resident – an intern right out of the Healer Training Program (the wizarding equivalent to medical school in the Muggle world). Hermione wondered what she had done to land a shift on the Maternity Ward so soon. If she was already working White Hall this early into her internship, it was highly likely that she would leave the program and soon. Posey must have crossed her Resident Healer pretty badly to have been banished to the most hated corridor on the vagina-squad.
“Hi, Posey,” said Hermione with a practiced smile. It was the smile she used to placate her patients, soothe their fears and worries and make them feel as though everything was going to be okay. “What do we have this morning? It’s only a quarter past nine…”
The intern was diverting eye contact, shaking – this girl was definitely not going to last much longer, “W-well…Mr…Mr. Weasley-”
Hermione’s head shot up from the chart, “Lavender is the patient?”
“Ye-yes, Heal-healer Granger.”
Hermione ran an impatient hand over her face before groaning. She hated this day already, and she hadn’t even been clocked in for twenty-minutes, yet. She motioned for Posey to follow guide her to the patient exam room and give a summary of Lavender’s chart as they walked. It was required of residents when interacting with interns regarding patients – just like it was required of Attending-Healers to ask for a patient summary from the Resident Healers-in-Training.
“Lavender Weasley, age twenty-five...thirty-seven weeks pregnant,” Posey started, her stutter fading into the background once facts were introduced. It was easier to be less afraid when facts were solid, simple. “Admitted to the maternity ward, White Hall section, after slipping in the bathtub this morning…presented with bruising and swelling around her right wrist and left ankle – patient and spouse refused to allow any other Healers treat Mrs. Weasley. They specifically asked for you.”
“No diagnostic spells were run while the patient was waiting for me to arrive?” Hermione questioned, giving the chart back to the intern. “She’s been here without any pain relief for three hours.”
Posey nodded; her eyes wide in fear. Did she expect Hermione to yell at her now? What kind of Resident-Healer had Posey been assigned to? Maybe Hermione could get the intern re-assigned to her service.
The door to White Hall slid open and Hermione reviewed the information from the chart in her mind. She went over every possible diagnosis, the spells she would need to perform, the specific way she would need to speak to Ron and Lavender if the news was bad. Hermione was almost certain the hematomas and swelling around the ankle and wrist were fractures or clean breaks in the bones, easy fixes. Unfortunately, the damage to the fetus after being left un-checked for vitals for three hours was unknown and therefore Hermione could not be certain that the child was even alive, at this point. She should kick Ron for his stupidity – who the hell doesn’t allow a Healer to check for injuries to a fetus while waiting for a specific physician? Idiot, complete and utter moron, dunderhead!
Hermione let her eyes flit over the constant white of the walls and floors. There were no fun paintings nor collages on the walls, no multi-shade colored tiles for floors. It was just white – standard-issue, hospital white. All that white worked to desensitize, numb a person when the news was grim, or give that small spark of hope when hope seemed the ticket for the day.
“The patient declined to have her injuries healed while waiting for me to arrive?” asked Hermione.
“Sounds like the Weasleys,” quipped Hermione before she let out a deep breath. “It’s a good thing I’ve finished with my Ortho-rotation.”
“I apologize, Healer Granger…They won’t let anyone but you touch the patient. They said you were the best-”
“No, I’m not the best...but they trust me,” corrected Hermione, taking the chart back and flipping through it, again. “They know me, so they trust me. But I’m used to it. Besides Lav and his mother, I’m the only other woman who can reason with Ron when he gets…overwhelmed. Which room are they in?”
“Exam room 302.”
She turned another corner and found herself facing the dreaded, jinxed exam room, number three-zero-two. “The Death Room” - that’s what the medi-witches called it – where unborn children came to die.. Miracles happened in rooms 301, 303, and 304, but hopeless cases always seemed to be placed in 302. But maybe…just maybe…since the other rooms were full of hope and possible miracles…Maybe Lavender and her unborn daughter were completely fine and nothing horrible was going to happen? Hermione knew hoping was the worst possible thing to do, but she grasped it, clung to it, because she really…really did not want to tell her best friend and his wife that their baby was dead, or had some form of unhealable damage.
“Are you going in, Healer Granger?”
Hermione blinked and nodded and plastered her patient-smile on her face. She pushed the door open to reveal a frantic Ron Weasley pampering his happy-go-lucky, smiling wife. She let out a breathy laugh as they greeted her, giving them both a one-sided hug, “I just saw the both of you a week ago for the prenatal exam, Lavender. I’m starting to think you’re making up reasons to see me.”
Lavender giggled, her jaw slightly clenched from the pain, “Hermione, I’m so glad the medi-witch was able to get ahold of you! You’re the only person we trust in St. Mungo’s, being little Lyla’s godmother and all...”
Hermione widened her smile.
“Medi-witch Milton said it was your day off?” asked Ron, still hovering near the examination bed.
“Yes, but it’s nothing...I wasn’t doing anything important today,” answered Hermione, putting them at ease as best she could. Pulling out her wand, she began running diagnostic spells on Lavender’s ankle and wrist. She made polite conversation as she mended the breaks and fractures easily, “So, you slipped getting out of the tub this morning?”
“Yes,” nodded Lavender, her smile faltering. “Bit silly of me, really. Ron told me to wait and he would help me, but I still think that I can manage...Uhm...the baby, Hermione...she isn’t moving. I haven’t felt her kick or...or move since they admitted me-”
“Just tell her Lyla is sleeping, ‘Mione,” added Ron, looking so, so, so hopeful.
“Let’s get these mended bones wrapped and I’ll run some tests, okay?” poised Hermione, taking the proffered rolls of padded gauze from Posey’s outstretched hand. Wrapping the Cushioning Charm-enhanced gauze around the patient’s mended joints, Hermione listened to Lavender prattle on about dinner at the Burrow the night before, and how missed Hermione was at the family get-togethers.
“And Molly is beginning to think you’re taking extra shifts just to avoid socializing outside of the hospital, ‘Mione,” giggled Lavender. “I keep telling her that a Healer-in-Training is like an Auror-in-Training. It just lasts a lot longer than when Ron left for the academy.”
“That’s true,” replied Hermione. “And us Resident-Healers have to study like maniacs for all the tests coming in our last year before we can be certified Attendings...It’s definitely like Auror training, Lav. It is always life or death here and the ones that don’t make the cut are sent packing faster than you can snap your fingers.”
“Sounds like a lot of pressure,” said Lavender, her left foot jiggling at the end of the hospital bed nervously.
Hermione nodded as she cast a Sticking Charm in a thin line at the end of the last roll of gauze around the patient’s wrist, “Yes, but it’s satisfying. Keeps you on your toes, makes you strive for perfection because no one likes to lose a patient over a frivolous mistake. Okay, all done. I’m just going to cast a few diagnostic spells now. I’m sure everything is just fine.”
Conjuring a very official looking piece of parchment, Hermione flicked her wand at it so it floated above Lavender’s very pregnant belly. She cast several mild tests and reading the results before proceeding with the more advanced and complicated spells. The results were inconclusive; not a very good sign at all. She smiled at Lavender and Ron before turning to Posey and requesting the ultrasound machine be brought in. A nifty little piece of the muggle world that allowed physicians to see inside the uterus; magically altered to allow it to function in the wizarding hospital. It also printed out moving pictures that were placed in the chart, as well as copied for patients to take home and show off to friends and relatives. It was a recent addition in the last two years, after several muggleborn Attending-Healers had recommended it for the Maternity and OB/GYN Wards. Being able to have a visual without any invasive procedures was a winning argument in any debate.
Posey returned shortly, pushing in a large piece of machinery with a monitor sitting on top. With a flick and swish of her wand, Hermione had the ultrasound equipment whirring and the monitor clicking on. The intern spread a thin sheet over Lavender’s hips and pulled the hospital gown up over the baby-bump before Hermione handed the container of jelly to Posey. The younger Healer-in-Training looked at Hermione with wide eyes, which was returned with an encouraging smile by Hermione.
“You’re never going to learn if you aren’t given the chance to do it,” said Hermione. She explained how to apply the cold jelly and where before handing over the ultrasound handle. “Don’t worry, I’ll walk you through it.”
“Thank you, Healer Granger,” said Posey, her eyes now wide with appreciation and pride. Hermione assumed her usual resident never allowed interns the opportunity to learn.
Hermione used the mouse next to the keyboard and clicked the frames as Posey moved the ultrasound tool over Lavender’s belly as she was instructed. Frames were labeled and circumferences taken as Hermione viewed the trauma in the uterus around the fetus. There was no heartbeat that could be found, nor was there any movement from the unborn child. The placenta had detached from the uterine wall and there was substantial bleeding in the womb. The results were bad. Very bad.
With a warm smile, Hermione took the ultrasound tool from Posey and had the intern take the machine out of the room after she printed out the pictures and placed them in the chart. Following Posey out of the exam room with a polite “Excuse me,” Hermione hurried down the hall to the medi-witch station and rubbing her face with a shaking hand. The desk was empty, the medi-witches must have called off to another exam room, and Hermione allowed herself that brief moment of grief over the situation in room 302. Ron and Lavender would be devastated. And then horrified when Hermione told them that the baby needed to be delivered immediately. They were first time parents; they were decent people, kind people. Lavender had changed so much since Hogwarts and the ensuing war. The bubbly Gryffindor wouldn’t hurt a gnome! How was this fair?
Worst day off ever.
“Healer Granger?” It was Posey. The intern had placed a comforting hand on Hermione’s shoulder as the resident-Healer cried silently over the medi-witch desk. “Are you alright?”
Hermione shook her head and straightened herself, wiping the tears from her cheeks, “No. Uhm...I need you to request an immediate delivery team, and a Birth-Inducing Potion - if you don’t mind. The baby is stillborn and it needs to come out today. Do not speak to the patient or her husband, I will do that.”
“And Posey,” added Hermione, catching the intern before she turned and took off down the corridor to Green Hall. Posey looked at Hermione with a look of apprehension and nervous eyes, “Who is your Resident?”
“Healer Malfoy,” said Posey, a slight tremble to her voice. “Why do you ask?”
Bulstrode, of course. Hermione smiled, “No reason. I was just thinking that I could use another intern since Briony went on maternity leave last week. I’m sure Healer Bulstrode wouldn’t object if I requested you on my service for the foreseeable future.”
It caused the most genuine smile to spread over Posey’s face, and it warmed Hermione’s heart a little to see the intern look so hopeful. There were ways of making Millicent Bulstrode bend to Hermione’s will. The Slytherin had quite a few skeletons in her closet, most of which Hermione had learned during her years at Hogwarts, and none of which Bulstrode would wish unleashed through the halls of St. Mungo’s in the form of gossip. Besides, Millie had three extra interns on her service in the Permanent Spell-Damage Ward and would more than likely be pleased to unload one of the interns on Hermione, simply to be rid of the extra responsibility.
Once Posey left, Hermione turned and walked steadily back to the examination room to speak with Ron and Lavender. She pulled Ron out of the room to speak with him first, asking him how he would like to proceed with Lavender before they began the delivery. The entire situation was out of her depth. She had apologized to grieving families, told relatives that a cherished loved one hadn’t pulled through, explained the options to husbands and wives, mothers and fathers about life support charms to keep spouses or children breathing in vegetative states. But this was Lavender and Ron. And Hermione was the baby’s Godmother. The Weasleys were the only family she had left, and she was the bearer of bad news - horrible news.
She sighed again, fighting not to cry as Ron broke down in the hallway.
‘Why today?’ she thought. ‘Why them? Why today?’
All she had wanted to do that day was sleep-in, not shower, drink half the wine rack in her kitchen and cry...hard. She hoped that this year would provide a tragedy, work-free Grieving Day. Obviously, it was not meant to be. The previous eight years had proven that.
Pain comes in all forms. The small twinge, a bit of soreness, the random pain. The normal pain we live with every day. Then there’s the kind of pain we can’t ignore. A level of pain so great that it blocks out everything else. Makes the rest of the world fade away. Until all we can think about is how much we hurt. How we manage our pain is up to us. Pain. We anesthetize, ride it out, embrace it, ignore it. And for some of us, the best way to manage pain is to just push through it.
“I’ll speak to her,” said Ron after what seemed like ages. He had pulled himself up to his full height, steeled his shoulders and cleaned his face of any remaining tears. He didn’t say anything after that. He just took several deep breaths and entered the room alone. Hermione could hear Lavender’s cries from outside in the corridor and it shook her to the core. She was really going to have to do this. She was really going to have to sit there and coerce Lavender into giving birth to a stillborn. Hermione had done it a hundred times, it seemed. But never to a friend, never to someone she saw as family. It was horrifying.
“Come on, Lavender,” urged Hermione. She was sitting between her friend and patient’s legs, held high in the stir-ups of the delivery room bed. “You have to give me one more push.”
Lavender had been crying ever since she had been told the severity of the situation. It had worsened the moment she had been moved from the exam room to the delivery room and the Birth-Inducing Potion had been administered. Once reality had set in, the usually happy witch had become inconsolable. “Please...just cut it out,” begged Lavender, leaning back against the bed, clutching her husband’s hand. “I can’t do this. Please, don’t make me do this!”
“I know, Lav,” said Hermione with sympathy. “I know this is the worst possible thing that could ever happen. And I know that I’m a horrible person for asking you to do this, but I need another push. I need you to bear down one more time. The baby is halfway out and we can’t stop now and cut it out. If this was a muggle hospital, I would have signed off on a caesarian section in a heartbeat, Lav. You know I would...I just need one more push.”
Pain is something that you just have to ride out. Hope it goes away on its own. Hope the wound that caused it heals. There are no solutions. No easy answers. You just breathe deep and wait for it to subside. Most of the time, pain can be managed. But sometimes, the pain gets you when you least expect it. Hits way below the belt and doesn’t let up.
Pain. You just have to fight through. Because the truth is, you can’t outrun it. And life...always makes more...
The pregnant witch lunged forward in a weak push, sobbing.. Hermione shoved her hands into Lavender’s vagina, around the infant to help pull it out. That one push wasn’t enough, and Hermione already felt guilty about the last hour of “one more push, Lav. I just need one more push,” that she had been asking of the devastated woman. “Almost there - you’re doing so well, Lav. But I just need one last push, okay? This is the last one, I promise!”
She felt like Death incarnate, urging the hysterical mother to birth her dead child. Hermione felt as though she was putting her friend through the most excruciating type of torture imaginable. But Lavender finally beared down in one final push and the baby was expelled with a gush of placenta following after. Usually this was the moment that the husbands’ kissed their sweaty wives and grinned at the sight of a healthy baby being cleaned off and wrapped in warm cloths. But there was no scream from the infant as Hermione cleaned it off and swaddled it. This was not a happy moment. This moment would be written down in history as the worst moment Lavender and Ron had ever experienced in their entire lives.
She handed the stillborn, sweet little Lyla Molly Weasley, to her parents and turned away as Lavender clutched the infant to her chest and Ron attempted to comfort his wife as best he could. The medi-witch assisting would heal the vaginal tearing, and there would be a representative from the funeral home arriving in an hour to speak with the Weasleys about burial arrangements. Hermione decided that she was no longer needed, so she gave a watery look Ron before leaving him and his wife to grieve in relative privacy. There was nothing else she could do but to show up at the funeral and pay her respects with the rest of the family. Molly would be heartbroken and consoling, Arthur would be the usual pillar of strength as the family patriarch, Percy would remain off to the side with his wife, Audrey, and Charlie and Fleur would be too busy chasing their little ones around to be a help at all. But Hermione could be there to help Ron with his despondent wife, because if anything was certain, it was that Lavender would be catatonic and hysterical for the next few months. The bubbly witch Hermione knew for years would be gone, and in her place would be a tragedy-wrecked woman who lost a child.
Patients see us as Gods. Or, they see us as monsters. But the fact is, we’re just people. We screw up. We lose our way. Even the best of us have our off days. Still, we move forward. We don’t rest on our laurels or celebrate the lives we saved in the past. Because there’s always some other patient that needs our help. So, we force ourselves to keep trying, to keep learning in the hope that maybe, someday, we’ll come just a little bit closer to the Gods our patients need us to be...
Chapter 2: Chapter Two
see first chapter notes for full summary
Entering her dark, empty flat felt like a small luxury after an extremely guilt-ridden day. She didn’t even bother to turn on the lights as she floo’ed into the living room from St. Mungo’s, still in her Healer robes covered in blood smears. She dropped her purse onto the hook near the fireplace and stumbled through the flat to her kitchen. She needed alcohol and ice cream, and she needed the rest of her day off - night off, actually - to be free from pages calling her back to the hospital. She just needed a few hours of peace and quiet, and she needed to get drunk and cry before returning to work the next day. It was one small favor that she hoped would be granted.
“You look as lovely as ever, Hermione...”
When I was a child, before my Hogwarts letter arrived, I skipped ahead a few years in muggle schooling. Instead of being in a class with normal nine-year-olds, I was sitting in multiple classes with thirteen- and fourteen-year olds. English seemed to provide me with enough to butt-heads with my teacher at every opportunity. Thinking back, I guess I was a cynical little swot.
During one class - English literature, of course - we had to read “Romeo and Juliet.” Then, for extra credit, Mrs. Whitman made us act out all the parts. Basil Smith was Romeo. As fate would have it, I was Juliet. All the other girls were jealous, and a little miffed that a nine-year-old brainiac was picked above them.
But I had a slightly different take.
I told Mrs. Whitman that Juliet was a complete duffer. For starters, she falls for the one bloke she knows she can’t have. Then she blames Fate for her own bad decision. Mrs. Whitman explained to me that when Fate comes into play, choice sometimes goes out the window.
At the ripe old age of nine, I was very clear that love, like life, is about making choices. And Fate has nothing to do with it. Everyone thinks it’s so romantic. Romeo and Juliet; true love.
If Juliet was stupid enough to fall for the enemy, drink a bottle of poison, and go to sleep in a mausoleum...she deserved whatever she got.
Maybe Romeo and Juliet were fated to be together, but just for a while. And then their time passed. If they could have known that beforehand, maybe it all would have been okay.
I told Mrs. Whitman that when I was an adult, I’d take Fate into my own hands. I wouldn’t let some bloke drag me down. Mrs. Whitman said I’d be lucky if I ever had that kind of passion with someone. And if I did, we’d be together forever.
Even now, I believe that for the most part, love is about choices. It’s about putting down the poison and the dagger and making your own happy ending, most of the time. And that sometimes, despite all your best choices, and all your best intentions, Fate wins anyway.
The tears welled up and spilled over from her eyes and the bottle of cheap merlot she bought from the local grocer fell to the floor. The noise of shattering glass and liquid splashing was drowned out by the choked sobbing sound emitting from Hermione. Her whole body shook. It couldn’t be real. It was too much like her dream come true to be real.
“If you doubt the seriousness of the moment, Hermione,” there was movement behind her and then a muscled, solid chest was pressing gently against her back. “Is this real enough for you?”
“Yes,” she whispered, remaining with her back to him. “I thought I would never see you again.”
“Potter cannot rid the world of me that easily,” replied the unmistakable voice of Voldemort, less the cold hiss of his serpentine elder. It was harmonic, a symphony of sound melted into a beautiful tenor that was pure masculinity. It was undeniably him, “and neither can you.”
“I’ve waited for so long...” She could hear the tears in her voice, “So long, and I never gave up hope...but so long...”
He brushed her frizzy mane over one shoulder, pressing a chaste kiss to her skin with warm lips, “Well, I am here now...and you have pleased your Master by not alerting Potter to my deception.”
“I would never.”
She could feel him smirking against her skin. Oh, she had missed him. How had she survived so many years without him? In such a short amount of time, during the chaos of ensuing war, the Dark Lord had become her world.
“Did you find my wand on the battlefield?” asked Voldemort, skimming his hands over her shoulders and down her arms. “Did you save it for me?”
Hermione shuddered, “Of course, my Lord.”
Her entire body suffering from a case of tremors, Hermione fumbled around in the darkness of her flat to find the switch in the kitchenette. Bright fluorescent light flooded the space instantly, stinging her eyes as she tried not to slip on the shattered glass and lake of wine on the tiled floor. She could feel him follow her, the presence of him alone enough to shake her to the core, but how long had she wanted this? How long had she waited? It didn’t need repeating and she knew that she was shaking so much was partly from the fact that there would never be another Grieving Day again. He was actually here, alive and in her flat demanding his wand. It made it more real in her mind, and that helped to calm her nerves, slightly.
The light from her open kitchen dimmed as she traveled down the short hallway of her three-bedroom flat. (It was marvelous how a little magic could turn a one bedroom, one bath flat into a miniature one-story house.) She journeyed to the spare room at the end of the hall. It was heavily warded with an added muggle touch, a deadbolt above the doorknob that required a key. Even if someone were able to lift the key out of her pocket without her noticing, a prick of her blood on the jagged edge of the key was what really allowed access. She wondered how dusty it was in the room. She never entered save once a month when she cleaned her flat, or to pull out the velvet lined box containing the yew wand or trail her fingers over the many “furnishings” placed strategically around the room. She was still amazed that she had been able to slip into Malfoy Manor undetected to, for lack of a better word, “steal” all of Lord Voldemort’s belongings.
Opening the door, she entered and noticed the lack of melancholy weighing upon her shoulders this time.
“Always the attentive and innovative student,” said the Dark Lord in an approving tone. Yes, he would approve of her security measures. Especially regarding his belongings, “You did listen to my teachings all those years ago...And I was lead to believe you were daydreaming about the bedroom.”
Hermione nodded, taking the nonchalant compliment with grace as she had been taught. She smirked and moved further into the room, her fingers glancing over the wooden objects closest to her. Her spine shivered in anticipation, hoping to put these dusty belongings to use once more. It had been so long since the cherrywood bedpost had been used to tie a body to it, the bench of floggers and wooden paddles had not collided deliciously with flesh since the summer of 1997. Everything in the room held a relatively small amount of dust, an extremely thin layer of it but it showed how Hermione avoided entering the room at all costs. Only when she felt she could not bear the pain of him no longer in her world did she enter and look longingly at all of the many things that still carried that hint of his signature scent. If she inhaled deeply enough Hermione could still catch that masculine cologne of unscented soap and forest air and parchment, even that slight tinge of ink.
“I placed a modified Extension Charm on the dimensions of the room,” explained Hermione as she watched him take in the almost-identical nature of this room, his room. “And I tried to remember how you placed the furniture about your chambers, and where the shelves lined up. The books were never taken off the shelves, so they should all be where you last had them. And I transfigured the linens as best I could to resemble appearance and texture, but I might have failed.”
He eyed her suspiciously, “It is exactly as I left it at Malfoy Manor...”
“Yes, well...none of the Malfoys noticed a mudblood lurking in the shadows, taking everything I could from your alcoves underneath the Manor,” said Hermione confidently. “As much as I could fit in my lovely beaded bag. It got rather crowded by the time I got to the playroom.”
“You preserved my library,” said Voldemort, another hint of approval in his tone. It made her heart swell. “My library and my priceless artifacts...the materials you knew I would need more than luxury linens and decorations. I am very impressed, my pet.”
She took out her wand again and stepped up to a painting of Salazar Slytherin that she had confiscated from the Chamber of Secrets during the rebuilding of Hogwarts. The Chamber had been left intact, and no one noticed her gone for brief moments, everyone had been stretched thin to rebuild as much as they could, as quickly as possible. All those preoccupied and turned eyes never noticed her absence. It gave her the time to break down the wards on the antechambers and pillage as much as she could. She wanted him to be comfortable if - when - he returned.
Her wand levitated the sputtering portrait of Slytherin, resting it gently against the bed-frame before she turned her focus back to the puzzle pieces in disarray locking her Master’s wand. One by one, her wand shifted the mismatched portions of wall into the correct spaces and then waved her wand one last time. The crevices melted into one another and then separated down the middle as a shining onyx box floated out towards her, embellished in silver filigree snakes surrounding the Slytherin crest. It gleamed in the fluorescent lighting of the room, the silver glinting and she could see her Master staring hungrily.
Facing the Dark Lord, his un-serpentine-like features unbalancing her; she would have to get used to Lord Voldemort looking like a handsome human being. Not like he wasn’t extraordinarily breathtaking in his former body, by all means he was beautifully exotic to her, but this new face was his old-old face. It was the face he had before he disappeared after killing Hepzibah Smith. It was young, smooth, muscled just as his snake-like body had been, but his paleness was not alien in appearance; it looked like any other pale man walking down the streets of Diagon Alley, a normal British complexion. His eyes were not crimson and glowing, but cold, sharp pits of darkness that glittered and flamed with dangerous emotions or cool impassivity. His mouth was not thin or lipless; full lips with a slight pink hue were settled above his perfect chin and looked as though God had sculpted them from pure imagination and skill.
“You are drooling, Hermione,” said the Dark Lord. “Open the box.”
“Yes, my Lord,” she unlatched the lid and opened the lid to reveal two wands, the Elder wand and Voldemort’s yew. She had hoped that when he re-emerged from the shadows of time he would be most pleased with this, the two most infamous wands in wizarding history.
“You retrieved both for me.”
“Of course,” said Hermione, her smile watery. “I wanted to make sure you had the most important things when you returned.”
“I will have to kill you in order to master the Elder wand, once and for all.”
Her smile turned into a grin, “You only need to disarm me in a friendly duel and it will obey you. Not everything has to end in bloodshed.”
He chuckled, lifting one wand and then the other out of the emerald green velvet cushions lining the interior of the box, “How did you get the wand from Potter?”
“He snapped it in half. I just summoned the pieces and spent my rare vacation time learning how to make wands under Ollivander. It took me several years, but I finally managed to repair the Elder wand,” she frowned. “It took a few modifications here and there, but it should be just as powerful as it was before.”
He raised an eyebrow, “You never tested it?”
She scoffed, blatantly irritated, “Of course, I did! Took it with me to a pub and dueled the entire crowd gathered!” He snorted and she grew more aggravated, “No, I didn’t test it. I didn’t want to risk rumors of the Elder wand still being around and it leading back to me! It would have given me away!”
He took his yew wand in hand again and rolled it between his fingers, feeling the weight and reveling in being reunited with his oldest friend. He closed the onyx case and sent it back into its hiding place, mimicking Hermione’s wandwork flawlessly, “You have pleased me greatly, my precious...little...mudblood. You need to be rewarded.”
“Thank you, my Lord.”
His eyes washed over her, the look hungry and almost starved. The Dark Lord pointed towards the bed, “I believe you remember the position I most enjoy, pet. Get to it.”
Hermione frantically pulled her clothes off and practically lunged onto the mattress, contorting herself into his favorite pose as he watched her with a heated gaze. Yes, this was her Master, her Voldemort. Just because he had a new appearance didn’t mean he was exactly the same on the inside; and the inside had always mattered to her the most.
He divested himself of his outer robes before resting on the bed and snaking up her body. He traced the soft lines of her bone structure while his mouth hovered over hers. She saw his eyes flash red, her skin burned and tingled behind the tip of his wand. “Did you miss me, pet?”
She shivered and nodded.
“Did you mourn me?”
Tears welled up in her eyes once more. She nodded again.
“And if I were a merciful Lord...what would you beg of me?”
His breath was warm against her skin, causing her lips to throb achingly for him to kiss her. She licked her lips and answered him, her voice soft, “Please don’t leave me again...please...”
He smirked, brushing his lips against hers briefly, butterfly light, “I am inclined to grant this one request...since you have impressed me...”
She sighed blissfully as his mouth crashed into hers, bruising her lips and the skin around it. She didn’t care. Lord Voldemort was back, and this mudblood was jumping for joy over the occasion...
Chapter 3: Epilogue
see chapter one for full summary in notes.
5 December 2007
We like to think that we are rational beings. Humane. Conscientious. Civilized. Thoughtful. But when things fall apart, even just a little bit, it becomes clear. We’re no better than animals. We have opposable thumbs, we think, we walk erect, we speak, we dream. But deep down, we’re all still rooting around in the primordial ooze. Biting, clawing, scratching out an existence in the cold dark world, like the rest of the tree toads and sloths.
There’s a little animal in all of us, and maybe that’s something to celebrate. Our animal instincts is what makes us seek comfort, warmth, a pack to run with. We may feel caged, we may feel trapped, but still, as humans, we can find ways to feel free. We are each other’s keepers. We are the guardians of our own humanity. And even though there’s a beast inside all of us, what sets us apart from the animals is that we can think, feel, dream...and love. And against all odds, against all instinct, we evolve...
Blood, so much blood, everywhere. She had heard the Yank saying “bled like a stuck pig” but she never actually understood it until now. She never thought the human body could hold so much blood. She never thought that 5.6 liters of blood could look like too much. It soaked the stretcher and now it covered the floors around her. She was standing in blood – it was like a lake of crimson and she was standing in it. Just…so much blood.
“Don’t die! Don’t you dare die on me,” she cried as she administered more pressure the gaping wound in the man’s chest. She had to stop the bleeding and nothing was working. Why wasn’t anything working?
“Hermione, you have to stop this! He’s gone – you’re acting like a mental patient!” said Harry as he warded off the emergency ward room to keep his fellow Aurors out while he talked his best friend since Hogwarts down from a Dementor’s Kiss sentence.
“I need more Blood Replenishing Potion!”
“Hermione! Stop! NOW!” She wasn’t looking at him, but he could tell that she could feel the authoritative tone in his voice and she was choosing to ignore it.
“He can’t die!” She was sobbing. She was frantic. She was beside herself with grief. “He can’t die, Harry! It’s not supposed to end like this!”
That statement only enraged him more. “It was always supposed to end like this! Hermione, save yourself – let him die!”
“Give me the damn potion, Harry – and my wand!”
“No!” bellowed Harry. “Hermione, listen to yourself! You’re fighting to keep Him alive! You’ve already bought yourself a one-way ticket to Azkaban for harboring him. I can’t let you keep on like this!”
“He can’t…I can’t…I won’t allow him to die – I took an Oath, Harry! I made a promise...”
He had never seen Hermione Granger so hysterical over another human being like she was acting in relation to the man bleeding out on her gurney. “Merlin, ‘Mione – you’re acting like you’re in love with him or something!”
It halted her movements and cut her deep; all the way to the bone. Some scars never healed, and Harry had just found the one wound she had hidden from everyone for almost nine years...
“NO!” shouted Harry, silencing her attempt to plead. She was still sobbing, still trying to save the man she was hovering over. She had her hand in the wound across his chest, gently massaging his heart in an attempt to coax it back to life. “You can’t be serious, Hermione!”
“I’m sorry, Harry – I really am! But you don’t know everything…you don’t know him like I-”
“Of course I know him! He killed my parents, Hermione! He’s supposed to have been dead for the last eight years! Why did you keep this from me?”
She was flustered and wide-eyed at his question. She didn’t want to answer him, she was sure he could tell. “I can’t do this right now! He’s slipping away and he can’t…leave me all alone again, Harry! I can’t…Just give me the bloody potions!”
“No, Hermione - you’re going to answer the question!”
In life, only one thing is certain; apart from death and taxes, no matter how hard you try, no matter how good your intentions, you are going to make mistakes. You are going to hurt people. You are going to get hurt. And if you ever want to recover there’s really only one thing you can say...
The truth is painful. Deep down, nobody wants to hear it. Especially when it hits close to home. Sometimes we tell the truth because the truth is all we have to give. Sometimes we tell the truth because we need to say it out loud to really hear it for ourselves. Sometimes, we tell the truth because we just can’t help ourselves. And sometimes, we tell the truth because we owe ourselves that much.
Forgive and forget. That’s what they say. It’s good advice, but it isn’t very practical. When someone hurts us, we want to hurt them back. When someone wrongs us, we want to be right. Without forgiveness, old scores are never settled. Old wounds never heal. And the most we can hope for is that one day we’ll be lucky enough to forget.
“Get. Out,” she snarled, snatching the potions out of Harry’s hands. If he wasn’t going to help her then he could leave. She needed to save him. She had spent seven years mourning him and she had just gotten him back…How was she supposed to live without him again?
If Harry had headed her words that she was fine, if he would have refrained from popping into her flat unannounced, then neither of them would be in this mess. Nor would the Dark Lord be bleeding out on a stretcher in her Emergency Ward. And if both grown men could come up with less original curses, both or none would be alive right now, and it would save her a hell of a lot of paperwork and a life sentence in Azkaban.
“I cast Sectusempra first, and he countered with Avada,” Harry had recounted as he levitated the sickly pale visage of Tom Riddle, unconscious, into St. Mungo’s. At least he had warned her beforehand, it was very considerate to send a patronus with a message that the Head of the Auror Department had found a youthful Lord Voldemort in one’s living room and was bringing him in for “stitches.”
She still couldn’t wrap her head around Harry’s conflicting responses to the fact that the Dark Lord was still, in fact, alive. One minute Harry wanted her to save him so the wizard could rot away in Azkaban, the other minute he was telling her to step away and let Voldemort die – what was Harry playing at? Was he trying to drive her insane? The sight of the love of her life bleeding to death on a stretcher in her emergency room had almost caused her a complete mental break as it were!
“Why isn’t anything working?” she cried, tipping the Blood Replenishing Potion down the man’s throat. She had spent all of her college money from her parents on a Healer Training Program, lived on an ever-changing and unpredictable schedule that accumulated to one-hundred or more hour work weeks during her one year Healer-insternship and three year residency training – all those hours and all that sleep deprivation spent on learning how to cure all ailments. All that time and money and nothing was working – why wasn’t anything working?! What good was a degree in Healing if it wouldn’t bring him back?!
“Hermione, you need to step away from the body,” said Harry gently.
She shook her head and sobbed harder, “No…There’s still a pulse…Please…Just help me bring him back.”
“‘Neither can live while the other survives,’” whispered Harry. He was close to her now, reaching out to touch her arm but she flinched away in favor of pouring more potions down her lover’s throat. “Hermione…you have to stop or I can’t help you.”
“Oh, shut up, Harry! Prophecies don’t transfer, you idiot!” Her body tensed but she didn’t turn around to look at him when she snarled, “I don’t need your help, Potter.”
“Then why have you been begging me to help you save him?” asked Harry sadly. “Why did you lie to me for so long? You could have told me the truth, Hermione...”
As Healers, we’re trained to be skeptical…because our patients lie to us all the time. The rule is: every patient is a liar until proven honest. The same can be said about day to day living. Everyone is guilty until proven innocent.
Lying is bad. Or so we’re told. Constantly, from birth, “Honesty is the best policy.” “The truth shall set you free.” “I chopped down the cherry tree.”
The fact is lying is a necessity. We lie to ourselves because the truth…the truth bloody hurts. No matter how hard we try to ignore it or deny it, eventually the lies fall away…whether we like it, or not.
But, here’s the truth about the truth: It hurts. So…we lie.
Her wand. Harry finally gave it back after she had crawled onto the gurney and curled her body around the still bleeding man. She had snatched it quickly before he could change his mind. She had already given the patient more Blood Replenishing Potion and an Invigoration Draught to act as a steroid against infection. She was tracing the line of the gaping wound with the tip of her wand, singing an incantation in Arabic, Gaelic, Greek - any language that could possibly work - and praying to a higher power that it would work – that it would bring her wizard back.
“Please live…please,” she blubbered. “I can’t go through this again…I won’t survive it...”
Memories played themselves as she watched the skin begin to slowly knit itself back together. He was still losing blood, but maybe – just maybe – this would work. She remembered her Hogwarts years; the sneaking around behind her friends’ backs; the secret meetings with Him. When everyone despised her, turned on her, used her. Lord Voldemort had been waiting with acceptance and understanding. She knew it had all been an act, but it had felt so nice to let herself feel wanted by someone – anyone. He had taken her under his wing, molded and taught her; he had allowed her to keep the career path she wanted, had encouraged her even. He had never demanded more of her than to learn everything she possibly could. She had been handed advanced texts, dark texts, informative texts on a plethora of subjects – all to prepare her for the future because he was uncertain but still cocky. She had fought in the Final Battle on both sides – killed her own school-mates without any suspicion, without second thought or regret. It had been so hectic and no one thought twice that Hermione’s aim might not have been “perfect as usual.”
And then he was gone. Harry killed him, but Hermione had remained silent afterwards because she didn’t want to chance losing Voldemort again; not after seeing the Dark Lord cheat death in a rather Slytherin-like way. She never did figure out what the flash of silver light meant, or what it had been, done. She had been swept up in the moment of victory as Harry and Ron hugged her from both sides. And then there had been parties and interviews, depositions at the Ministry under Kingsley’s watchful eye. And then…there had been the trials and the Healer Training Program, then the internship and residency at St. Mungo’s Hospital. She never had the time until the anniversary of the Battle of Hogwarts drew near. She had requested that day off, but that first year had proven too difficult to face and she had gone to class anyway. The year after that she was still unable to face the reality that there was a possibility that Voldemort would not be coming back, that he was dead, and she had continued with her thesis papers and gone to class again. When she started her internship and then her residency, she had requested the anniversary of the Final Battle off so she could finally grieve – by that point she felt that she needed to mourn his loss in order to move on with her life – but small favors were never granted. She was always paged, called into work for some great travesty that happened that day - unapprehended Death Eaters running amok while the wizarding community celebrated. Eight years and she had never grieved. She tried, but she had always been denied.
Again, how did she even get to the point where she needed to grieve Lord Voldemort? She had been a key player on the side of the Light…until she had been captured by Death Eaters, brought before the Dark Lord in all of his serpentine glory, and found that she was quite drawn to the cruel, dark wizard. He knew so much while she knew so little; his knowledge was priceless, so valuable. He created a schedule for her and she would sneak out during her sixth year (being a Prefect had its perks) and she complied so he would teach her as much as he felt that she deserved, so she could use it against him when the time came. And soon she found that she wasn’t meeting the Dark Lord to get an edge on the enemy for Harry – she was doing so because she wanted nothing more than to please him. She desired him, his intellect - and she didn’t even mind his appearance – and she felt as though there was something beyond reality at play. He had seduced her, taken her to his bed and pleasured her. She had willingly given the Dark Lord – her best friend’s enemy – her virginity, and she had never regretted it. She loved him. When Harry defeated Voldemort after so many years, she had finally realized that she loved him; she loved the most evil wizard in history and no one ever knew. No one would ever know…
Yes, he had been a cruel, vindictive man with emotional and intimacy issues – what could anyone expect from Lord Voldemort? But no matter how many times she had suffered for defying him, choosing to save a life rather than destroy one like he wanted, he would forgive her, eventually. And she would be relieved that he had. She had rationalized her feelings towards the puzzling wizard for so long, denying that it was nothing more than her reaping the benefits of his attention to help Harry in the end. Nothing more than business as usual. There was no intimate meaning, no love or deep, meaningful connection for him, so surely there was nothing like that for her. It was just passion and learning and really…really…good sex. Intimacy was a back-thought…something that she pondered over years after he had supposedly died…
And ever since he had returned...
Intimacy is a four-syllable word for, “Here are my heart and soul. Please grind them into hamburger and enjoy.” It’s both: desired and feared, difficult to live with…and impossible to live without.
Intimacy also comes attached to life’s three R’s: Relatives, Romance, and Roommates. There are some things you can’t escape, and other things you just don’t want to know. I wish there was a rulebook for intimacy. I wish there were some kind of a guide that could tell you when you’ve crossed the line. It would be nice if you could see it coming. And I don’t know how you fit it on a map. You take it where you can get it, and keep it as long as you can. And as for rules...maybe there are none. Maybe the rules of intimacy are something you have to define for yourself.
“My…muh…mudblood,” a raspy voice breathed out next to her.
She jerked up and looked at the incredibly handsome, incredibly evil, man on the gurney. The bleeding had slowed down between the stitching skin, to just a trickle, and his breathing was labored but strong. She cried out in complete and utter relief – joy – before checking his pulse, which was weak, but there. He was going to live and that was all that mattered to her.
She showered his face with kisses and let herself sob at the fact that he was alive – ALIVE! She had never been happier than she was at that moment – not even when he had shown up seven years after his snake-like counterpart’s death. She slid down the bloody stretcher and sobbed as she clung to him. She forgot that Harry Potter was still in the room, that there was an army of Aurors outside the emergency room doors; it felt like time had stopped so she could take in every detail of that moment.
“I thought…I thought I lost you again,” she whimpered. “You can’t leave me! I won’t allow you to leave me all alone again!”
He cracked an eye to peer down his symmetrically perfect nose at her with an air of noble arrogance, “Never…”
“I’ll try to get you both a joint cell in Azkaban,” quipped Harry in a dark tone.
The underlying threat in the Auror’s tone seeped into Hermione’s psyche and she reacted on pure instinct. Her wand was already aimed and the curse left her lips before she realized what she had done. All she had been aware of was that he was going to take Voldemort away, lock her up for the rest of her life so she never saw him again. She couldn’t let that happen – she wouldn’t be able to handle it. She had to fight, and if it meant killing her best friend, then so be it.
The Killing Curse illuminated the brightly lit room in emerald green and Harry Potter’s body fell lifeless to the blood soaked floors. Hermione added more wards up to the room as she worked to take down the Anti-Apparition Wards that the Aurors had set up when Lord Voldemort’s body arrived on a stretcher. If she could just create a hole in the magical make-up of it she could focus and Disapparate through it. She just needed that one little crack – there was always a little crack, a small window of opportunity.
And there it was, that small forgotten hole making the entire Ward preventing Apparition in and out of St. Mungo’s fall apart around them all. She took hold of Voldemort’s arm and twisted into a quick disapparation far, far away from the searching eyes of Aurors. She could never go back now – she was a fugitive until the Dark Lord regained his full strength – but she didn’t regret it…She would never regret it. She had complete and utter faith.
You never know the biggest day of your life is the biggest day. Not until it’s happening. You don’t recognize the biggest day of your life. Not until you’re right in the middle of it. The day you commit to something or someone… The day you get your heart broken. The day you meet your soulmate. The day you realize there’s not enough time… because you want to live forever. Those are the biggest days. The perfect days...