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A Splintered Labyrinth

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The war stripped away Hermione’s capacity to lie to herself about who and what she was. The Sorting Hat placed her in Gryffindor not because she was glory seeking, or reckless, or more courageous than others, but because of her idealism and her singular dedication to progress. The hat told her explicitly that she was clearly not a Hufflepuff—for reasons unspecified—but that she also was clearly neither a Ravenclaw nor a Slytherin because—while she hungered for knowledge and harbored a well-disguised ruthless streak that ran deep—she would always use what she learned towards a greater purpose.

She would sneak in the restricted section to learn complex warding spells that would help her and her friends survive the war that was to come. She would methodically catalogue people’s weakness and quirks to get to know them better and to use against them if and only if they betrayed her or someone she loved. After what she dubbed the Pest Incident of 1995, Hermione secretly began to keep a heavily warded jewelry box the size and thickness of a deck of cards that—with the use of an illegal yet nifty undetectable extension charm—contained dossiers of just about everyone she or Harry had met in the Wizarding World as well as on notable modern figures. And, well, if her plans to help Harry were just a touch more complicated than necessary and happened to satisfy her drive to test her limits by say mastering polyjuice potion at age 12 or by playing around with actual time travel, well that was all just incidental of course.

The members of the D.A. who saw Hermione as Gryffindor’s Golden Girl—a perfect prefect who only occasionally broke the rules when necessary—thought that she had led Umbridge to the Forbidden Forest due to a sense of uncharacteristic desperation or as a last resort devised in the heat of the moment. Only Harry and Ron (and, well, Luna who truly saw the people around her) knew her well enough to see the truth. The truth that Hermione had been planning Umbridge’s downfall from the very night that she first waited up in the Gryffindor common room with murtlap essence to heal Harry’s scarred hand.

By that point in her short yet eventful life, she already had Rita Skeeter firmly under her thumb, a feat achieved through kidnapping and blackmail, and the subsequent upkeep that consisted of sending randomly timed little reminders to the woman (that could not be traced back to Hermione, not even by the most diligent of aurors) that she had a jar on hand prepared for her if she stepped out of line. Thus, Skeeter was nicely squared away as a mouthpiece for Harry when everyone was bent on discrediting or silencing him. She told herself that she was doing a service to the Wizarding World by enforcing standards of journalistic integrity. She was even helping a friend by increasing the sales for and raising the profile of the Quibbler. In Hermione's book, that basically made her an honorary Hufflepuff, despite what the blasted Sorting Hat had stated and then not deigned to explain to her out of sheer negligence. 

Hermione loved to plan and to research and most of all to win.

So when the adrenaline and the high that came from surviving against all the odds faded away after the final battle, Hermione was left a bit adrift in what came next. She had no plan other than to get her NEWTs and to recover her parents. And, well, she always had her permanent, long-term objective: to battle the prejudice and willful ignorance that had so shaped her time in the wizarding world. Except that a life dedicated to slowly changing perceptions of herself and all muggle-borns as well as of magical beings through official channels—as a ministry drone in the DMLE or the DRCMC—seemed a dreary fate in the aftermath of the war and in light of what she had already sacrificed for her world.

Hermione wasn’t opposed to using her public persona as the Wizarding World’s Golden Girl—though the title chafed even more now that she knew that it was a semi-permanent moniker rather than a silly school nickname—and she found that she enjoyed the freedom that came from her independence from the Ministry of Magic. After all, her, Harry, and Ron had succeeded in ousting Riddle precisely because they weren’t afraid of going against the Ministry and its capricious dictates. 

So, Hermione, Harry, and Ron were free in the month after the battle to use their newfound influence to call for reconciliation despite the fact that Head Auror Dawlish—made head of the DMLE only out of sheer desperation after the frantic pruning of Death Eaters and sympathizers from their ranks—was taking a page from Barty Crouch’s book and calling for taking extreme measures against anyone with even a whiff of connection to Death Eaters. Too many people had lost loved ones and were eager for a pound of flesh and Dawlish was keen to deliver, desperate as he was to keep his tenuous hold on his prestigious position. Harry and Hermione’s testimonies in front of the Wizengamot in defense of Draco Malfoy, Theodore Nott (put on trial just for the stain of having a Death Eater as a father), and others who were still in school during the war but who were accused of being sympathizers or collaborators, led to mixed reactions from a traumatized and still healing public.

It was Ron and Ginny’s co-authored statement to the press that held the most weight in tempering public opinion and getting people to reconsider their hardline demands for harsh punitive sentences—even for minors—and allowed for moderates who leaned towards more rehabilitative options to gain traction. In an open letter that was published on the front page of the Prophet, Ron and Ginny wrote that although they had lost their brother to this war—to Death Eaters and Riddle—they both knew what it meant to have to make impossible choices in order to protect themselves and their families. They knew what it was like to go to war as school children, what it meant to have to shoulder the burden of the previous generation’s mistakes because the adults wouldn’t act themselves.

Everyone in their family signed the letter in order to drive home the point that their message came from the Weasleys and the Prewetts—families who had fought against Riddle and lost family in both wars—and yet even they weren’t out for the blood of school children unlike the sanctimonious fence-sitters who stayed silent and safe in a Wizarding Britain controlled by Death Eaters, yet who were intent on stoking conflict between the two polar political extremes in the post-war climate. After all, if both sides self-destructed, well that just meant there was more power available to the neutralists, didn’t it?

The sentiment and message for the letter came entirely from Ginny, Ron, and the rest of the Weasleys. Hermione just helped a little in the very early stages of conception and then during editing. She provided Ron and Ginny with extensive historical examples of healing and reconciliation after extreme violence in the Muggle world, as well as books on international diplomatic and military history. Ron—not usually one for rigorous intellectual pursuits—devoured her offerings with a fervor that shocked everyone who knew him.

Ron explained his newfound scholarly-ness and surprising show of equanimity towards Malfoy, Nott, and the like with a slightly sheepish smile on his lips that faded as his speech became more impassioned.

“Look, I trust ‘Mione to help me make sense of all this bullshite and to put these hypocritical arses in their place. None of them even fought You-Know—Tom, so they can piss off to their mothers with their opinion pieces supporting throwing kids into Azkaban. Malfoy’s still a complete wanker and I’ll probably never like the ferret, but even he doesn’t deserve to take all this shite from cowards who played—who still play—both sides.”

He nodded to himself, satisfied, before going on a tangent that made less and less sense to his audience of Hermione, Harry, and a suspicious pigeon. Animagus? No, Hermione chided herself, she needed to stop being so paranoid. 

“Besides who could not end up being right pain in the arse with Lucius sodding Malfoy as a father. Imagine the sheer amount of beauty products in that manor. There must’ve been a whole wing in that place dedicated to that man’s hair. No wonder Malfoy Jr. overcompensated with his broomstick at school—he knew his slicked back 'do would never match up to his father’s locks or Harry’s effortlessly tousled look.” Hermione nodded, wanting to show her support of Ron’s magnanimous gesture, and just chose to gently file away the diatribe on Malfoy’s hair for later analysis.

It was Ron who pushed for the inclusion of a quote from Nelson Mandela, ending the letter by writing: “If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner.” Ron vehemently defended his quote choice to Hermione using detailed chess analogies that went far beyond her casual understanding of the game, prepared for a fight. Hermione—the very picture of emotional instability—told him, with tears streaming down her face and a slightly manic smile that wouldn’t be out of place on post-Azkaban Sirius Black, that it was an absolutely brilliant choice.

Ron was left speechless and a touch unsteady from Hermione’s emotional display, but inwardly, he preened. Hermione and Ron’s friendship had grown stronger and more balanced after everything they survived together in the war. Though they agreed that they wouldn’t make a good romantic pair, they each had revelations about their friendship in the Chamber of Secrets. Hermione realized that Ron had truly come to believe in her and trust her strength as well as her intellect when he pushed her to destroy Hufflepuff’s cup. And Ron realized that she saw him—overshadowed, sixth son him—as a steadying force, as someone she could rely on in return. They, naturally, still argued—too frequently for Harry’s liking—but it was never as vicious or hurtful as it had been while they were in school.

When the three of them received a letter from McGonagall offering them the opportunity to return to complete their 8th year, Hermione immediately replied that she would. Harry decided that he would take the offer that was extended to the three of them by Kingsley Shacklebolt, newly elected Minister of Magic, to begin his yearlong training to become an Auror. He would be able to help Andromeda take care of Teddy that way. He would also, covertly, keep an eye on Dawlish and the others who were too overzealous in the persecution of Death Eaters or sympathizers with underwhelming evidence. Harry hadn’t forgotten what the Ministry did to Sirius and that, more than a desire to hunt even more dark wizards, was what drove him to become an Auror.

Ron decided that he was going to help George run the joke shop. While Ron had continued his newfound hobby of reading about Muggle diplomatic and military history—giving him and Hermione actual common ground and an academic subject they could debate and discuss—he knew that he wouldn’t do well at Hogwarts and away from his family while they were all still mourning Fred. He had also come to terms with something that he had realized about himself long before the summer of 1998.

Ron was no longer ashamed of the fact that he didn’t do well with charms and transfiguration theory because he had realized that he was excellent and creative in practice—especially if the result of his efforts was something as concrete (and excellent) as his latest invention: the Collapsible Cauldron. It was a perfectly innocuous standard Hogwarts issue cauldron that would fold in on itself on nonverbal command and then explode in order to create a convenient distraction in Potions that could be blamed on the poor craftsmanship of the cauldron rather than on the failings of the brewer.

This very concept had helped him get through five miserable years of potions with Snape and a whole summer of listening to Percy go on about cauldron thickness. He wanted the new generation to have more ways to escape Potions than he did as a youth, he said in an advert campaign that was only visible to those younger than 18. (He had invented a reverse version of the charm the summer after his fourth year to keep his older siblings from stealing his Quidditch magazines and to keep his mother from discovering that he was skiving off summer work by reading about Keepers Through the Ages).

Many of his inventions, Ron realized, came from his very core, his truest self, that wanted one of two essential things: 1) to fend off his siblings from touching his stuff or 2) to avoid doing his schoolwork.

Hermione, on the other hand, held onto her education as a grounding force, a familiar purpose to dedicate her energy towards while she tried to figure out her future. She would never be the same eager bookworm dedicated to following the rules that she entered Hogwarts as because that version of her died when Voldemort was no longer a mention in a history book or a villain in her friend’s past, but instead a real and present threat to Harry—who was hers to protect—that inhabited the space under Quirrell’s turban. No, she had accepted herself, ruthless tendencies and all. She contained multitudes.

This year, Hermione wanted to see how far she could push the limits of her knowledge and power as she tried to uncover the how’s and why’s of magic itself. Hermione was forced to admit to herself that Xenophilius Lovegood was correct when he called her narrow-minded for dismissing the Deathly Hallows as a mere fairy-tale. At the time she had grasped so tightly onto the mission of horcrux hunting that, in her mind, Harry’s obsessive tendency turning towards the Elder Wand felt like a catastrophic distraction from the Plan. And now, while Hermione would never be a natural at trusting her gut over her meticulous plans, she knew that she had very large gaps in her understandings of the magical world. At times, although it hurt her pride to admit, she could stand to be a bit more like Luna in her approach to learning. She made a note to herself to approach Luna to be her study partner.

While the complete disregard of her basic human rights and the need to hunt horcruxes had stalled Hermione’s formal education, her efforts in the war had opened her eyes to the fact that Hogwarts had set strict borders on what students could and could not study.

While in theory Hermione understood the necessity of limiting who could access certain information, like for example who could learn about horcruxes and how to create them—no one wanted another mad immortal overlord, after all— she had realized that the censorship of undisputedly dark material was not singular but instead part of a larger pattern of information suppression. To her frustration, her efforts to find information on anything from how to destroy a horcrux, to understanding the type of dark curses that Death Eaters had invented and used liberally during the war, or even to just understand how offensive spell-design truly worked in order to come up with counter-curses to the darkest of hexes were met only with walls.

It seemed that at some point in magical history, the Ministry had decided to severely limit public knowledge, replacing everything ranging from historical accounts of rituals that relied on wand-less group casting to information on blood magic. The Ministry had even replaced books on traditional ways of celebrating Samhain, Imbolc, Beltane, and Lammas with obviously censored re-writes published—in some cases—centuries after the originals. Noticing the discrepancies in publishing dates of books in the Ministry’s central library was a shock to Hermione. It was, essentially, the equivalent of Hic Sunt Dracones for academics: Here be dragons. Beware witches and wizards, this way lie the unparalleled dangers of knowledge and historical context.

Hermione was incensed. This censorship was one of the reasons why she understood nothing about house-elf magic until she decided to interview house elves a month after the battle of Hogwarts as part of her quest for knowledge not found in any library she had access to. (A more self-deprecating part of her whispered that she had never even thought to ask elves what they thought when she campaigned for S.P.E.W did she?). But it did not do to dwell on the past.

So, when Hermione took the time for reflection post-war, she knew that needed to understand why her efforts during her 5th year had terrified and ostracized the house-elves. She received special permission from McGonagall to visit and speak with the elves during their off-hours.

She presented them with a peace offering—the little information she could find about house-elves indicated their love for honey, so she had baked them a honey-soaked cake topped with edible flowers. The three house-elves that sat down to speak with Hermione had graciously accepted her gesture and explained to her that their relationship with witches and wizards was meant to be symbiotic but that most wizarding folk, even those from Ancient and Noble Houses, had forgotten the history of House-elf-Wizarding relations and essentially ended up voiding their contracts with house-elves without the wizards in question even knowing it. This was the reason why Dobby could defy Lucius Malfoy despite being technically bound to him in order to help Harry before receiving his first sock.

Tilly—the oldest house-elf at Hogwarts who was tasked with carrying the stories of her lineage and teaching younger elves about their history (a position, Hermione learned, that was passed down to the eldest female elf in a household or workspace)—explained that when a house-elf found himself with an abusive master who had voided the sacred agreement of symbiosis between their species, they could choose to leave and risk becoming weaker without their access to the household’s magic, or they could find someone new with whom to open a contract. Harry had successfully freed Dobby from the House of Malfoy during second year. What he didn’t understand at the time was that, as a result, Dobby was free to initiate a contract in good faith to serve and dedicate his magic to Harry because he had already honored Dobby’s choices and acted in the spirit of the original treaty between house-elves and wizards. Harry’s regard towards Dobby had created one side of an open symbiotic bond that Dobby was free to close.

Hermione’s ignorance about house-elves was just one example in what likely constituted a sea of major limitations to her knowledge, as well as limitations to the general knowledge that was lost to the entire modern wizarding world due to the suppression of “dangerous” works—a label that seemed to be haphazardly slapped onto vastly different schools of magic.

This censorship was paired with the tendency toward historical revisionism that pushed the narrative that pureblood wizards had been the impetus behind all progress in the wizarding world, ignoring the contributions of muggle-borns, half-bloods, and most especially of Muggle-born women and magical beings. She realized that both extreme poles of the political spectrum—generally divided between those who “wanted to preserve wizarding traditions” and those who wanted progress and to move away from the more “barbaric of wizarding traditions” in order to make their world more palatable to Muggle-borns and Half-bloods—explained their policies by invoking Muggle relations and the integration of Muggle-borns as a rallying point in order to justify their positions.

It seemed that Muggle-borns served as particularly effective scapegoats for a myriad of issues including but not limited to the Hogwarts curriculum, the budget of the DMLE, and the division of Wizengamot seats. Neither major political faction ever featured a Muggle-born speaker or politician, however, but instead pure-blood and half-blood wizards spoke “on their behalf.” She gleaned these implications between the lines of books such as Progressive Wizards of the Early 20th Century and Understanding the Muggle Threat, as well as other classics like an anthology that contained essays and speeches from different wizards through history that advocated for Muggle-hunting and the collected writings of politicians ranging from inspiring figures like Damocles Rowle—a spectacularly unpopular minister whose claim to fame was being the architect of the Shite-hole Where Dreams Go to Die that was more commonly known as Azkaban—to an ancestor of Cornelius Fudge that appeared to be as equally spineless as his progeny.

The more she read, the more incensed she became. Reaching her limit, she finally threw up her hands and muttered an outraged “Bull-shite” that came out a bit louder than intended, resulting in three wizards in the reading room glaring at her and one slightly older witch giving her a grim smile. She was, Hermione noted, reading one of the few books on the historical contributions of witches to Wizarding Britain. Ah, a kindred spirit. Lovely.

Hermione knew that, much to her extreme displeasure, she had more limitations than most to her resources because she was a first generation witch with no sponsor. Sponsorship was a practice in which an Ancient and Noble House supplemented the education of a Muggle-born student and gave them access to a wider range of resources. Historically, sponsorship could be a bit of a dicey practice that pureblood households undertook to convince (read: extort) especially talented Muggle-borns to marry into their houses. However, one of the few pieces of legislation that Hermione could say that she thought made sense was one passed in 1956 that ensured legal protection for Muggle-borns if they wished to un-affiliate themselves from a sponsor with unsavory motives.

Sponsorships went out of style in the mid 1970s and maybe the rise of yet another violent, blood purist zealot had something to do with that.

Hermione deduced that the Ministry’s censorship affected Hogwarts and Ministry-funded libraries the most, allowing a certain amount of impunity to pure-bloods with private collections—especially those with enough foresight to hide portions of their collection that had gone out “out of vogue.” Like their tomes on sacrificial protective magic, or their anthologies on necromancy, or the primary accounts describing the medieval practice of taking children to witness public executions so that they would be able to see thestrals at a young age, etc, etc.

It wasn’t that she wanted to learn how to properly arrange the organs of a Gytrash into a ritual circle in order to add an extra layer of protections from dark creatures to her parents' new home in Chiswick (her mother had, post-recovery, explained to Hermione that the neighborhood change suited her burgeoning passion for art history that she had cultivated as a retiree in Australia as it had the right vibes or feel or some such nonsense that had no place coming out the mouth of her practical dentist of a mother). Anyway, she had no desire to perform ancient sacrificial blood magic in the midst of an apparently trendy Muggle neighborhood. It was simply the principle of the thing.

The fact that the Ministry—the ineffective, myopic Ministry of Magic that had denied the return of Voldemort for a whole entire year until he was literally waving a wand in front their thick faces—had the power to limit what she could read was unacceptable.

She knew what this really meant. It meant that each time a new politician came into power they could change guidelines for acceptable reading according to their agenda. While Hogwarts had certain autonomy—and the tendency to stick anything deemed too dangerous into the restricted section without having to alter the collection itself—it still affected the contents of the general library and of the curriculum.

Hermione had always assumed that Binns’ dry and out of date history lessons were a result of a staffing issue, but combined with the recorded trend of censoring magic and editing history to suit the needs of the Minister in power, she thought that Binns’ placement could have a more sinister, or at least calculated, reason behind it. After all knowledge was power, and the study of history, in particular, allowed people in the present day to understand the predecessors to current political movements or general trends. History was essential to politics just as it was essential to rigorous academic study of any subject—magical or Muggle.

So, during her summer holiday—in between retrieving her parents, setting up their lives again in London, and collaborating with mind healers at St. Mungo’s to restore their memories as well as attending mind healing sessions with her Hogwarts year mates twice weekly (a requirement for those who wanted to return to Hogwarts and strongly recommended for anyone not returning)—Hermione set herself to understanding the origins and the extent of academic censorship in the Wizarding World.

It was there, in the bowels of the Ministry archives sometime in mid-August, that Theodore Nott re-appeared in her life. She always knew who he was, of course. He was a classmate, and one whose father was a confirmed Death Eater. She didn’t condemn him for it; she had just noted it in his file. As he cleared his throat behind her, Hermione went from intently sorting through the myriad of censorship laws passed after the defeat of Grindelwald in 1945—to holding a wand against his throat before she processed who he was and rationalized that a true threat wouldn’t clear his throat to not-so subtly announce their presence before attacking.

Hermione grimaced slightly at how her reaction gave away that she was still excessively paranoid and jumpy—she did not want to come across like Mad-Eye after all. Even if she was still seriously considering getting Constant Vigilance tatoo'ed on her wand-arm partly as a testament to Moody, but mostly because she had survived the war. It would also be a nice visual foil to the awful blood-red slur carved into her left arm.

She did her best to recover from her blunder by giving him a slight nod of acknowledgement and providing a curt, “Nott. Apologies,” but despite her effort at faking aplomb, her cheeks shone pink, visible even under the poor lighting available in the Ministry archives. She assumed the poor lighting was a calculated tactic to hinder those who looked for answers in its depths, but then again, that's just what she would do in their position. 


He nodded in return and seemed to mull over what to say next, this being new territory for them both. He cleared his throat again—did the man need a cough drop?

“No need to apologize for war-time habits. We all have them. They can be…difficult to break.” It took Hermione a moment to realize that was all he intended to say and that it was now her turn to move along this interaction.

Well yes, indeed. What a cryptic thing to say to an acquaintance, she thought to herself as she searched for an appropriate way to respond to that. She’d never been good at picking up social cues with new people, despite the fact that her filing system ensured that she knew Nott’s family lineage going back six generations, his father’s net-worth and Wizengamot voting trends before the war, and that he preferred coffee to tea.

She decided to go with their only apparent common ground: their geographic proximity.

“Are you also interested in studying legislation passed after Grindelwald’s defeat in 1945? Or does your interest lie more in understanding the mating habits of Gryndilows as recorded by a team of Irish magizoologists in 1954?”

Nott’s face turned pink even as his lips gave a slight twitch upwards and she didn’t quite understand why. It wasn’t her fault that the Ministry archives were organized by an incompetent fool who decided an alphabetical system alone would make sense, without first organizing by subject matter. How Wizarding Britain hadn’t yet gone the way of Atlantis or Pompeii was a complete mystery to her.

“No, neither, actually. I heard from Draco that you have been spending time here doing research and I wanted to speak with you.”

Hermione had been pleased that she and Malfoy had gotten a new start in their small group therapy sessions and that the mind-healers didn’t have to restrain either of them from exchanging blows. Progress and healing were lovely. He also seemed at least politely interested in her study on the suppression of Wizarding traditions and censorship of old magic. It was hard to tell with Malfoy what was genuine sometimes. Oh, Nott was still saying words.

“So, thank you for your Wizengamot testimony. I know we’ve not really interacted in school, but I appreciate that you spoke for me even though I mightn’t have—“ He took a deep breath and amended, “when I definitely would not have done the same if the situation were reversed. For that, I apologize.”

Ah, gratitude tempered with pureblood guilt. Delicious.

“Thank you for seeking me out to say that, Nott. It’s appreciated. Just don’t dwell too much on hypotheticals. I spoke for you and Malfoy and the others because it was right. It wasn’t only for your sakes. You were quite literally on trial for who your father was, and I think you understand why I might know what that’s like.”

She took a deep breath and moved to close this strange interaction. She had the unfortunate tendency to ramble on with new people or, even worse, to lecture them or unknowingly insult them.

“You owe me no debt. Just do what we’re all trying to do: go forth and be an 18 year old without the Dark Lord looming.” She thought about stopping there but didn’t want to end the conversation with a mention of Riddle.

So, instead, she proceeded to put her foot into her mouth. “There’s a great coffee place ten minutes walk away from here called The Java Electric that you’d probably enjoy. Don’t let the Whitman pun discourage you. Go there, enjoy your coffee, and I won’t even judge you for disliking tea even if it means you’re a bit of fake and might do better to study internationally.”

She smiled slightly and moved on from her nonsensical joke, and added, “I look forward to seeing what obscure magical devices you improve on this year at school.” (1)

Nott looked like he had been confunded for a moment before schooling his expression and going quickly from looking abashed and contrite to confused to amused and confident. Hermione got whiplash just watching him wrestle his emotions under control. With just a quirk of his dark, annoyingly perfectly shaped eyebrow and a smirk that he could slap a patent onto he said, “Been watching me Granger?”

Hermione scoffed at the sheer gall of him and did her best to glare him into submission. “Please, Nott. I watch everyone. I can name every single person who attended Hogwarts with us at any time, and recite their family trees back five generations. Ten generations for Malfoy and every single Black that has ever lived, unfortunately. At a minimum.” Nott looked like he was about to say something—maybe about pure-bloods being raised to do the same—so she added brusquely, “That includes the muggle-borns and half-bloods. Harry’s alive and Riddle’s dead in part because I am an effective researcher in both the magical and Muggle worlds. I wasn’t watching you because I think your arse is nice or you have a beautiful smile. I’m not Lavender Brown.”

She felt slightly guilty invoking Lavender—who had been very brave in the Battle of Hogwarts and had survived Greyback’s vicious assault. She even began a beauty line—with cosmetics, robes, and undergarments—that was specially tailored towards witches who were coping with their scars and lost limbs from the war.

It was more out of habit than contempt that she invoked Lavender to try and distract from the truth that she had noticed Nott over the years as more than a potential enemy. She should send Lavender a letter, later, telling her how much admired her work. Maybe encourage her to visit Ron. They could collaborate. Actually, now that she thought about it, Ron’s speech about Lucius Malfoy’s hair was suspiciously detailed—so that might be down to Lavender’s influence. 

Nott did not seem at all affected by her verbal dressing down, which was annoying and atypical in her experience. She would have gotten at least a yelled “bloody hell, ‘Mione” from Ron by the point when she said, “your arse is nice” and a hasty, strategic retreat from Harry when she scoffed and glared.

She’d been told, repeatedly, that she made up for her lack of height with the weight of her presence and she was counting on on that to scare off people who interrupted her research with their too-perfect-to-be-natural smirks and their annoying dimples. And their admittedly nice arses.

Hermione was forced to face the fact that she had underestimated Theodore Nott, despite her perfectly researched file on his interests, family history, and habits, and that she had to deal with the consequences.

It was this oversight that led her to abandon her research at legislation passed in March of 1946 (March- who stops researching at March of all months for Circe’s sake) to walk with Nott to The Java Electric.

She was also forced to face the sad fact that while dossiers were very effective tools when dispatching one's enemies they were sorely lacking in providing guidance for dealing with friendly almost-acquaintances in this strange post-war era.

Well, she mused, maybe Nott could be a co-conspirator in her efforts to push the boundaries of knowledge and learn old, forgotten magics. After all, one should endeavor to share weight and woe if they wanted to succeed in the modern day. (2)