“Harvey called, he said that the Batman is going to turn himself in.” Rachel said softly while Bruce moved over to gaze out his Penthouse window, staring off into the night.
“I have no choice,” Bruce said with conviction, as his eyes remained fixated out onto Gotham’s skyline.
“You honestly think that is going to stop the Joker from killing people?” Rachel queried back in disbelief.
“Perhaps not, but I’ve got enough blood on my hands.......and I’ve seen now what I would have to become to stop men like him.” Bruce’s head turned and gave Rachel a desperate look before he moved towards her completely. “You once told me that if the day came when I was finished, we could be together....” Bruce finished speaking as he stood directly in front of Rachel, his hazel eyes boring into her blue ones.
“Bruce, don’t make me your one hope for a normal life.” Rachel rebuffed unconvincingly.
Bruce moved his left hand up and cupped Rachel’s cheek as he said achingly, “Did you mean it?”
Rachel’s blue eyes filled with emotion as she whispered out, “Yes.”
Bruce moved his head down and captured Rachel’s lips in a heated kiss, unaware that their entire conversation had been watched from the other side of the door.
Six Months Earlier
Gotham City wasn’t what anyone could consider a tourist destination, or anyone’s preferred destination.....but for Hermione it was a place where she was certain no one would ever come looking for her. After the war had been won and the dead were buried, she’d returned to Hogwarts and finished her schooling....earning 10 NEWTS and due to her status as a War Heroine, was courted by almost every department within the Ministry of Magic.
Her relationship with Ronald had ended quite heatedly Christmas the year after she’d graduated, as he had gone into Auror training with Harry right after the war. Hermione, had decided to take a position in the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures or the DRCMC. It was something that was dear to her heart and she felt that it was a place where she could make a difference.
What no one had known at the time, was that there was something sinister moving through the shadows within the Magical World.......it started out simple at first.......a few deaths being reported from an unknown curse.....it didn’t seem to have a pattern nor a reason and the Healers at St. Mungo’s has no idea what kind of curse it was, or how it was spread. By the time Hermione had finished her first year at her new job, many more people had succumbed to the insidious curse.....but it didn’t reach the ears of the public until Harry Potter, the boy who lived started suffering the ill effects from the curse.
He had been out on an Auror mission, rounding up the last remaining stronghold of Death Eaters when he had collapsed without warning and was portkeyed directly to St. Mungo’s. Hermione had been called immediately and along with Ronald, Ginny and the rest of the Weasley’s and were told the particulars of the curse and what the likelihood of survival was for the Boy Who had Lived through everything.....but this.
When Harry died a month later, the press had gone into a frenzy....but by that time, the unknown curse had spread.....beyond the borders of England. America, Russia, Bulgaria, France and countries as far as in South America were all reporting casualties due to the curse. All the best Healers in the world had convened en masse to Britain, but after several weeks, it was determined that there was no cure for the curse......because they could not determine the origin of it.
Kingsley had gone to Hermione in his desperation. The little witch had become a recluse since Harry had died, and the Minister of Magic pleaded with the Brightest Witch of the Age to work with the Unspeakables to try and determine just what kind of curse they were dealing with. Hermione was understandably confused as to how she could help, but when Ronald was admitted to St. Mungo’s along with Ginny and Seamus.....Hermione knew she’d have to do something. So she took Kingsley’s offer and started researching every magical archive she could find.
Nearly six months had passed, and Hermione was becoming increasingly desperate. Thousands of witches and wizards had perished.....Lucius and Narcissa Malfoy, Ron, Seamus, Dean, Ginny, Fleur, Viktor, Theodore Nott, Astoria Greengrass, Ernie MacMillan, Michael Corner, Adrian Pucey, the entire Flint family, Professor Sprout, Slughorn and most of the prisoners in Azkaban. Those had been just in the past few weeks, and there were several more that were in hospital....the Healers becoming overtaxed at how many people were coming in with symptoms.
Hermione had finally determined a little over eight months in that the curse was causing magical deregulation.....which was then shutting all organs down simultaneously, causing death. The process of a witch or wizard losing their magic was a truly horrific thing to watch and when death finally did come, it was almost a relief unto itself.
Reports were coming in daily to the Ministry and the Minster himself. By all accounts, nearly half of the world’s magical population had been wiped out by the curse.....at this rate....within two years the Unspeakables were determining that the remaining magical populations would be gone. Magic would cease to exist if they couldn’t find a way to stop the curse......and it also was apparent that no new births were being recorded either......as for some reason, Magic wasn’t allowing for procreation.
It was only by chance that Hermione had determined how the curse had come to be. She had found buried within the Ministry archives a mention of an ancient curse that had been wielded nearly two millennia prior......and directly correlated to the downfall of the Roman Empire. Heading to Italy’s Ministry, Hermione was able to find corroborating texts that outlined the curse.....how it had been detected and the possible origins of it.
It had taken her nearly another two months to locate the origin of the curse itself, within the Egyptian ministry.......but the part that had made Hermione’s blood run cold, was the curse had been wielded in generations past to reset magic itself. That when magic had become so badly corrupted, polluted and damaged from its original intent, it would restore balance on its own. It was beyond ancient blood and death magic......and as such, there was no clear cut way to stop the curse from ripping through the remaining witches and wizards until it felt balance was restored.
Undeterred by this, Hermione kept researching and finally one year in, found a possible countercurse for the phenomenon, which was being called ‘magicis excoquam ad mortem’ which essentially meant the purge of magic leading to death. At this point, there was approximately a quarter of the remaining magical population left alive and it had taken Hermione several weeks to configure a working countercurse, that had utilized many facets of magic......Astronomy, Arithmancy, Alchemy, Potions, Ancient Runes and Charms.....but she had done it.......she had single-handedly saved the entire magical world from decimation. For her efforts, she was lauded a Heroine again......and all within the magical world owed her their very lives.
In the year that followed Hermione had become even more reclusive. Although the curse had been abated in the sense that no witches and wizards were dying, the problem remained that no new offspring were being born. Hermione had shared her theory with Kingsley as to why she thought that was the case, but without solid evidence, the Unspeakables and the remaining Wizengamot refused to take her words to heart, despite everything she’d done to save their sorry arses.
Hermione realized that despite all she’d done, she would always be looked down upon most likely due to her Muggle heritage, she disappeared from the Wizarding world in the fall of 2002......beaded bag in hand and her Gringotts account closed......Hermione Granger ceased to exist from that moment on. She’d decided to take a few things with her when she left the Magical World......Harry’s Invisibility Cloak, the Elder Wand (which she retook from Dumbledore’s grave), where Harry had returned it as well as the Resurrection Stone, which she’d found in the Forbidden Forest a year prior.
Harry had left the Black Fortune to her when he’d died.....and as such Hermione was quite well off. Converting her galleons into Muggle money at a five to one ratio, gave her an estimated net worth of just over 50 million pounds sterling.....which was more than enough to disappear into the Muggle World without a trace. She’d met with Neville, George, Luna and oddly Draco Malfoy, who’d become a friend of sorts in their eighth year (and whom she’d had several one offs not too long ago), before she had disappeared for good.....letting George know how much she would miss him and giving him a charmed galleon that would act as a locator of sorts should he ever need her and vice versa.
That was how she had found herself five years later staring from her new apartment into the skyline of Gotham City. Hermione Granger was now known as Mia Black, she’d decided to take on the surname of Harry’s Godfather Sirius.......feeling that it was appropriate in a way. It served to remind her where she’d come from, as well as honor both Harry and Sirius, who had both died heroes.
Mia Black had moved around the world since 2002....traveling to various destinations and doing research wherever she went, studying various disciplines. She’d invested her money into several corporations and trusts, nearly quadrupling her wealth. Hermione had also felt it might be prudent to change her appearance a bit, as her distinctive curls and features were a dead giveaway amongst magicals....and the Wizarding press had been apoplectic when she’d disappeared....and it hadn’t abated since that time. So gone were the bushy locks and in their place was stylish long curls that fell to her mid back....her hair used to be a mousy brownish color, but was not a mixture of chocolate, reds and sun-kissed whirls of golden highlights that brought out the golden hue of her eyes and skin. Her frame had filled out a bit since Hogwarts, although she was only mid five feet, her body was a bit curvy like her mum’s. Smallish, high, pert breasts and bum, curvy hips and a narrow defined waist. Legs for days helped to make Hermione appear taller than she actually was.....and heels had helped with that illusion. Hermione had learned to appreciate fashion as a means of distraction and armor.......no one would have ever believed the stylish Mia Black was really Hermione Granger......at least no one had figured it out so far.
Mia had kept track of the going’s on in the Wizarding World the best she could. From what the Daily Prophet reported, it would seem the magical birth rates were at a standstill, and for some reason she simply couldn’t fathom......no one seemed to be willing to take her warnings seriously. But that wasn’t her problem any longer. If the magical world ceased to exist....it would be due to their own prejudices and not anything she’d done.
Mia had been quite interested to read about Gotham City’s Batman.....a masked vigilante who seemed hell bent on saving Gotham from itself......a mission she could well appreciate. Gotham had the highest rate of crime of any city in the US and was one of the top crime riddled cities in the world.
As she stood there looking up at the Wayne Enterprises building, she couldn’t help but wonder what exactly she was getting herself into.......but one thing she knew for certain.....Bruce Wayne was Batman......her research had led her to that conclusion, now she just had to figure out what to do with that knowledge. Undeterred, she entered the building.....she had a two o’clock appointment with Mr. Lucius Fox and she didn’t want to be late.