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Normal Is Such A Relative Term

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After the TARDIS rematerialized, they all knew it was time to part.  River gave the Doctor such a passionate kiss that the ancient alien was actually blushing by the time she released him in order to turn towards Hermione.  “Stay with him, please,” the woman whispered the request in her friend's ear as she gave the witch a warm farewell hug.  “He needs someone to travel with.  He doesn’t do well alone.”

Hermione nodded in acknowledgement.  “Of course, I will,” she replied before adding, in a voice purposely loud enough for the Doctor to hear, “Somebody obviously needs to keep him out of trouble!” 

“Good luck with that!” her curly-haired friend answered with a huge grin on her face while the Doctor just smiled a bit sheepishly at the truth of that statement.  River blew him a kiss.  Then, with just a quick “Goodbye, Sweetie!  Goodbye, Hermione!” she was out of the TARDIS and on her way to break back into her cell at Stormcage - where she would stay until it was time for her next escape. However, now that Hermione knew River as well as she did, the witch had a suspicion that the current stretch of incarceration would not last long at all!  

The Doctor just shook his head affectionately at the whirlwind that was his wife, though, before he clapped his hands and turned back to his companion with his usual manic grin.  “Alright then, Granger.   Where should we go next?”  He headed to the console and started to flip switches.  “It’s your choice…anywhere but the Draconian system, though.  I have had enough of dragons to last me a few regenerations!”  He gave a little shudder at the thought.

Hermione just laughed – especially since that was how they had met.  While on a field assignment in the Hungarian wilderness for the Department of Magical Creatures and Beings, she had rescued the Doctor from an extremely ornery wild Horntail that stood between him and the TARDIS.  He had been impressed with her quick thinking, wand work, and utter lack of shock when she found out that he was an alien who traveled through time and space in a sentient ship.  Consequently...since he liked to surround himself with interesting people...he invited her along to travel with him. 

For her part, Hermione had been eager to get away after her most recent failed relationship (she had been told many times that she was just too strong-willed and independent for most men).  Plus, she was more than ready to have some adventures herself.  Therefore, she agreed immediately – especially when the Doctor assured her that he could bring her back anytime she wanted.  After that, they proceeded to travel together for several linear months, while they got in and out of a lot of trouble together, saved each other many times, and became the best of friends along the way. Then, one day, out of nowhere, a deep space distress beacon message that translated out to H-E-L-L-O-S-W-E-E-T-I-E led them straight to River. 

“Don’t ask!” was all the woman said at first as she climbed into the TARDIS from the wreckage of her ship.  She removed her spacesuit helmet and, in the process, revealed a head of wildly curly hair that was even more unruly than Hermione’s.  The newcomer then immediately launched herself at the Doctor.  Hermione just stood nearby and watched with quite a bit of amusement as her lanky alien friend was thoroughly snogged before he eventually had to come up for air.  That was despite his respiratory bypass system which – along with her bubble head charm - had come in so handy a few weeks earlier when they had been marooned on an ocean planet after the TARDIS had been temporarily swallowed by a gigantic whale.

At any rate, the Doctor then introduced Hermione to his wife with his usual high-energy enthusiasm.  Despite Hermione’s surprise that the Doctor was actually married, the two lively-haired kick-ass women hit it off immediately.  There was no awkwardness between them - especially since Hermione had no desire for any kind of romantic entanglement at that time and had never had anything but platonic feelings when it came to her goofy, bowtie-wearing, and two-hearted alien friend. 

Consequently, they were all content to travel through time and space together for several more linear months while they had one adventure after another.  The day eventually came, however, when River reluctantly admitted that she ought to return to Stormcage in order to serve a bit more of her sentence – which had ironically been given to her for killing the Doctor in the first place.  It was a long convoluted story that Hermione eventually heard - even if she never quite fully understood all of it.  She did not feel too bad about that, though, since it was clear that nobody else really understood the entire situation, either.  Nevertheless, that knowledge did not stop her from being sad when it was time for her friend to go.  However, she soon realized that the unusual situation was actually completely normal and routine for both River and the Doctor…and so she just followed their lead.

 ~~~~~

Afterwards, when the Doctor asked Hermione for a new destination idea, she thought about her new friends and how they had told her the story of their unconventional and non-linear relationship while they were all under the influence of some very potent Firewhiskey and Hypervodka cocktails on the colony of Patronum Three sometime early in the 32nd century where Magicals and Muggles coexisted peacefully.  Besides the story, though, Hermione did not remember much else about that night except for the fact that she and the Doctor (superior physiology, her arse!) had to be practically poured back into the TARDIS by River and Jack. 

The extremely charming and attractive muggle Captain in the long vintage coat had greeted the Doctor as an old friend when he joined them at their table in the corner of the old-fashioned pub that they had found soon after they had landed on the planet. Apparently, the two men crossed paths often…and had even occasionally traveled together in the TARDIS.   Jack made it clear that he and River had met before, as well, when he goodnaturedly grumbled about the time he was tricked, tied-up, and had his vortex manipulator stolen – even though it was obvious that he was also quite impressed by the feat at the same time.  After River simply shrugged in neither affirmation nor denial of the claim, and the Doctor laughed at them both, they introduced the handsome newcomer to Hermione. 

To Hermione’s amusement, the man flirted shamelessly with them all...and not even the Doctor's stern "Stop it!" seemed to have any effect on his behavior, whatsoever.  However, since both the Doctor and River implied that this type of interaction was completely normal for the Captain, Hermione did not read anything serious into it at first.  Nevertheless, as the evening wore on, she started to realize that he actually focused the majority of his attention on her…and she was quite flattered.  After all, Jack was funny and articulate – and he understood the strange lifestyle of a time and space traveler very well. Hermione found that she enjoyed his company immensely - especially since she had been single and celibate for quite a long while by that point...and, needless to say, he was very easy on the eyes! 

Unfortunately, however, she was not much of a drinker at the best of times…and the strong drinks had flowed freely throughout the night.  Therefore, to her extreme regret, she had been in no shape to take her acquaintance with the man and his sexy bright blue eyes any further.  However, she did vaguely remember his promise to look her up the next time he was back on Earth in the 21st century…and his regret seemed genuine when he gave her a sweet farewell kiss as he escorted her into the TARDIS.  At any rate, she found that she happily looked forward to whenever that future meeting - or past one as the case may be (Being a time traveler could be very confusing – especially when one was drunk!) would take place. 

~~~~~

Hermione had to push the memory of the attractive and intriguing man out of her mind for the time being, however, so she could redirect her mind to focus back on the Doctor’s question, instead.  For her answer, she immediately thought of the other two people that had featured so prominently in the story that she had learned that night about the Doctor and River’s relationship.

“I would love to meet Amy and Rory,” she declared.

“Ah…the Ponds.  What a good idea!  Why haven’t I taken you there before now?” the Doctor asked as he plotted the course.

“Probably because you were too busy getting me thrown in prison or dropped into the middle of revolutions!” Hermione retorted in reply.  The Doctor certainly could not dispute that, so he just grinned cheerfully at her as he threw the lever to take them into the Vortex, instead.

Chapter Text

The TARDIS materialized in the back garden of a modest house that was very similar to Hermione’s own home on the outskirts of London.  Before she could admire it much, however, a couple who seemed to be about her age came rushing out of the door.  The redhead (who for some reason reminded Hermione very much of the pictures that she had seen of Lily Potter)* threw herself into the Doctor’s arms while her more mild-mannered husband reached over to shake Hermione’s hand.

“Hello, I’m Rory,” he said politely, even though it was clear from his expression that her appearance in his garden with the Doctor was rather unexpected.

“Hermione,” she replied, very pleased that River’s father was exactly as his daughter had described him – especially once Hermione got over the initial surprise that he was so close to her own age while River herself seemed to be older.  However, Hermione had been forewarned.  Plus, by that time, she was also quite familiar with time travel…as well as its sometimes unexpected consequences.  Therefore, she was able to continue on with her heartfelt statement.  “It’s so nice to meet you!  I have heard a lot about you both.”

“Well, we haven’t heard anything at all about you,” Amy replied suspiciously before she turned back to the Doctor, whom she had been so focused on that she did not realize at first that somebody else was with him.  “Does River know?” she asked him in a voice that left no doubt as to what the answer better be. 

Fortunately, the Doctor recognized the dangerous tone and immediately rushed to circumvent any misunderstanding.  “Well, River and Hermione did combine forces to rescue me from being auctioned off to a very affectionate maiden at the Midsummer Bachelor festival on the planet of Bella Musea.  She had six arms - which meant six roaming hands and she just wouldn’t take no for an answer – even when I told her that I was already married!”

Hermione could not help but to snicker at the memory.  “She really liked his bowtie.  We had to find her a willing bloke, with a number of hands equal to her own, and teach him how to tie one for himself before she was willing to trade this one back to us,” she explained as she gestured towards the Doctor.  “We were just in time, too, because River was ready to light the bonfire - if you know what I mean.”

Amy relaxed at that statement and actually laughed.  “That definitely sounds like our Melody,” she replied cheerfully before she asked with a knowing look in her eyes, “Did she go back to Stormcage?” 

Since Amy was still looking at Hermione, the other woman nodded and answered her in kind.  “We just dropped her off before I requested to meet the two of you…even though the Doctor specifically said no more dragons.”  The little joke lightened the mood even further – especially when both Rory and the Doctor laughed.  Amy just rolled her eyes goodnaturedly at them all before she invited Hermione into the house for a cup of tea.  She was now completely at ease with the new girl since she knew without a doubt that River would never have voluntarily left anyone untrustworthy alone with the Doctor.

~~~~~

The four of them were soon settled down at the kitchen table with pleasant conversation and steaming mugs of tea.  The three humans of the group had just established that they were indeed from concurrent timelines when Amy asked Hermione to tell them about how she had met the Doctor.  Before she could explain about the dragon, however, they were interrupted by the doorbell.  Rory went to answer it and, a moment later, another cheerful male voice was heard in the entryway.  Hermione thought that it sounded vaguely familiar, and wondered if she actually knew the visitor.  After all, she was apparently back in her own timeline and in the city where she actually lived, as well.  Such a coincidence was unlikely, of course…but so was everything else that had happened to her since she had met the Doctor!

When Rory came back into the room with an older man in tow, the Doctor jumped up to greet the newcomer excitedly with the inexplicable manic energy that he often exhibited.  “Brian!” he exclaimed.  “It’s so nice to see you again.  I want to introduce you to someone.  I originally picked her up from around this time and place, too – if I remember correctly.  She rescued me from a dragon.”  Everyone in the Williams family started in surprise at the mention of the circumstances of that first meeting.  However, when the Doctor turned towards Hermione, he noticed that his newest companion was staring in disbelief at his father-in-law’s father, instead.

“Mr. Weasley?” she asked uncertainly as she stood up.  After all, the hair was a little bit different…more grayish strawberry-blonde than grayish-red…but the face was exactly the same. 

The older man who looked so much like her favorite father-figure started in surprise again before the smile that he already wore for the Doctor grew even warmer at her words.  “Oh!  Do you know Arthur?” he asked delightedly. At her nod of confirmation, he beamed even more cheerfully as he reached over to shake her hand with an enthusiasm that also reminded her very much of Arthur Weasley.  “I’m Brian…Brian Williams. It’s been many years since I have seen him, but Arthur and I used to be very close – especially since his father and my mother were brother and sister.  People used to always think we were twins when we were children because we looked so much alike.  I guess that we still do – especially if you can still see a resemblance after all of this time.”

The stranger’s familiar smile and his acknowledgement of their shared connection immediately put Hermione at ease.  “It’s so nice to meet you, Mr. Williams!   My name is Hermione and I have been a close friend of the Weasley clan for many years – especially since I went to the same school as the children of the family.  Plus, Arthur and Molly are some of the best people I know.  They practically adopted me later on after I lost my own parents...and they took in my best friend, Harry, as well.  In fact, I almost married their youngest son, Ronald.  Unfortunately, that did not work out…but we have determined that we are much better off as friends.  Well…when he isn’t being a prat, that is!”   

Brian chuckled and was about to reply when someone cleared their throat sharply behind them in order to get their attention.  They both turned around guiltily when they realized that, in the excitement of their discovery, they had all but forgotten the other three people in the room.  The Doctor and Rory just stood there with shocked looks on their faces…but for different reasons.  Amy, however, stood there with her hands on her hips.

“Do the two of you want to tell us what is going on?”  she asked in that no-nonsense tone of hers that reminded Hermione so much of River - and a lightbulb clicked on in Hermione’s head.

“Oh,” she said as she turned her attention back to Brian again.  “Amy must be your daughter.  I should have known.  She has the Weasley hair.”

Brian just chuckled again when Amy huffed.  “I can see how you would think that…but no, that is not exactly the case.  Amy is my daughter-in-law.  Rory here is my son.” 

“Dad?” At the mention of his name, Rory finally found his voice.  “What’s going on?  Who are the Weasleys?  Why haven’t you ever told me about your cousin – especially if he had kids my age?”

Hermione met Brian’s eyes curiously at the knowledge that his son did not know his cousins – especially since the Weasleys had always been such a close-knit, family-oriented group.  Suddenly, the puzzle pieces fell into place for her when she recalled the time that Ron told her and Harry, at one point during the whole “Chamber of Secrets” debacle in their second year, that his mother had a cousin whom nobody really talked about because he was an accountant or something.  Hermione considered the idea that it was highly likely that the non-detailed oriented Ron had just mixed up the cousins – and the sides of the family - and he was probably wrong about the profession, too. 

In fact, Hermione was convinced that must have been the case - especially since it was now apparent that Brian was the one who was the non-magical member of the family.  She also knew instantly then why Brian had not seen Arthur in years and why Rory did not seem to know about the other side of his family.  After all, she was all too familiar with the multitude of dangers in the magical world…especially for those who could not defend themselves…that had occurred during both reigns of a certain mad wizard.

However, those musings were interrupted when the Doctor finally piped up.  “Brian, you sly dog!” their alien friend exclaimed.  “Why didn’t you tell me you knew about magic?  No wonder you weren’t more shocked by the dinosaurs on the spaceship!”**

“Magic?” gasped both Rory and Amy in surprise…and Brian just sighed.  He had not expected to have that particular conversation today – or ever, really, if he could have continued to avoid it – especially since he had left that part of his life behind for good – or so he had thought.  He looked desperately over at the young woman who was apparently not only the Doctor’s new companion, but also a witch!  Perhaps she could help him – especially since he could see by the dawning comprehension in her eyes that she had already figured out his situation.

Hermione was slightly distracted by what the Doctor had just said, though – even if it was for a completely different reason than it had been for Rory and Amy - so she did not immediately recognize Brian’s silent plea.  Her mind was elsewhere at the moment as she tried to imagine what her friend had just described.  “Dinosaurs…on a spaceship?” she echoed faintly.  She did not know why she was surprised about such a scenario, though – especially if the Doctor was involved.  Her friend tended to get himself…and his companions…into all sorts of interesting situations, after all!

Chapter Text


 

Hermione finally focused on the slight look of panic in Brian’s eyes and came to his aid.  Immediately, she reached into the sleeve that covered her scarred arm and pulled out her wand.  She watched Rory and Amy’s eyes widen at the sight of it…and she smiled in amusement.

“Come now,” she reprimanded them gently.  “With all of the weird and wonderful things that you have seen and experienced with the Doctor, you can’t possibly find it too difficult to believe that magic is real.”  She then gave her wand a swish and a flick that, with a murmured word or two, had Amy’s favorite teapot floating in lazy little circles in the air.  Another series of flicks had the cups join in on the fun and the matching tea set put on a little dancing show in the air above them.  For the finale, Hermione had the cups dump the remnants of the long-cooled beverages right onto the Doctor’s head.  As he sputtered and tried to protect his precious bowtie from the dripping tea, Hermione grinned deviously.

"That is payback for the whole ‘Planet of the Giant Sentient Koalas’ incident, by the way!” she declared triumphantly.

“Now, Hermione…how was I supposed to know that it was their marriage season?” he muttered, a bit sheepishly – especially since Amy and Rory had moved past their shock enough to snicker at his predicament.   “At least you are now the recognized Queen of New New New New Australia, though, and…quite frankly…the groom was adorable!”

“Yeah…he was,” Hermione conceded and she waved her wand over her friend while she muttered a cleansing spell that had his hair clean, dry, and back to its original floppiness immediately. “At least until he wanted to cuddle and started to talk about making joeys, that is!” she muttered darkly before she turned her attention back to the Williams family. 

“At any rate,” she continued as if nothing untoward had happened at all, “magic is real and quite widespread.  In fact, just a little less than 1% of the entire world’s population is born with the ability.  However, for safety reasons, the magical world tends to remain hidden and sticks to its own devices and society.”  She paused as she thought about how to phrase the next part of her explanation.

“However, it’s whom the magical children get born to that is the important bit of information in this discussion.  For example, I am a Muggleborn - a magical child born to non-magical parents…or Muggles, as they are called.  I did not even know why I could make such strange things happen – not until I was eleven years old and was invited to attend a magical school.  However, such a situation is a relatively rare case.  Usually, someone with magic is born into a family where such power is already established – whether by just a few, or by many, generations of magical blood lines.  However, even more rare than being a Muggleborn is the occurrence of a non-magical child who is born into a magical family.”  She paused and looked up at Brian who nodded, almost sadly, and she knew that she was on right track. She nodded back and continued. 

“Being a Muggleborn is difficult sometimes…but not impossible.  If necessary, I can blend in with either side, and nobody would be the wiser -  unless I told them the secret – as I am doing with the two of you, now.  On the other hand, because the magical world is so isolated, non-magical children have great difficulty with fitting in there and the majority of them eventually end up leaving that world permanently.  Sometimes it is by choice, but sometimes it’s by force…or worse.  I believe that situation is the answer to your original question, Rory.  Your father is what is known as a Squib in the Wizarding World.  That is the term used for someone who does not possess any magic himself - even though he comes from a magical family.”

Her words caused Rory to look at his father with concern.  The elder Williams man nodded as he grasped his son’s hand.  “It’s all true,” he explained.  “Your grandparents, and their parents, and their parents were all magical.  Therefore, when it became clear that I was not, everyone was extremely disappointed…but they still loved me and supported me.  They wanted to prepare me for whatever life I would choose, so for a while at least, I had the best of both worlds.  I attended muggle school while Arthur was at Hogwarts…that was his magical school…then we always spent our breaks and summers together on the old family estate.  After graduation, he got a job in the Ministry of Magic, married Molly, and immediately started his family while I went on to University.  We stayed close for several more years – especially since I was still near enough then to travel to London or to his home in Ottery St. Catchpole.”  Brian reminisced with a small smile on his face.  However, that smile soon faded away into nothingness with his next words.   

“Unfortunately, those good days did not last.  A dark wizard with a hatred of anything and anybody who was not a Pureblood Magical came into the picture…and quickly gained a following of like-minded individuals.  That was when the nightmare began.”  Brian paused and took a deep breath to fortify himself for the rest of the explanation.  “This monster started a war in which he first had my father killed for bringing a squib into the world and daring to let him…me…stay there instead of destroying me himself.  My mother did not last long after that – especially after Arthur’s father – her brother – was killed, as well, when he refused to join the Death Eaters.  Soon afterwards, my aunt – Arthur’s mother - also passed away when the Weasley estate was destroyed in a mysterious fire.”  Here he paused again with the remembered pain when both Rory and Hermione gasped in horror. 

For his part, Rory finally began to see the big picture and why his father had made the decision to stay away from the magical world.  Hermione, on the other hand, was surprised because even though she had suspected the truth, she had never really known what had happened to Arthur’s parents.  It was something that he did not like to talk about, so she respected his wishes and had never pursued it.  At her sound of emotion, though, Brian reached over and patted her hand comfortingly with his free hand while the other one continued to hold onto his son.   

“It was the darkest time of my life…and that’s when I decided that it would be best if I cut all ties with the wizarding world,” he continued.  “After all, I did not want to put Arthur and his young family into any more danger than they already were.  At first, Arthur was against the idea of me leaving - even though Molly was expecting their second child and he had enough trouble on his plate without adding me to the mix, as well.  Therefore, I talked him into it.  In the end, he reluctantly agreed and so I left London.  I did not even tell him where I was going because I thought that it would be safer for us both that way.  That is how I ended up in Leadworth.  I got a job at the hospital there, met Rory’s mother, and started my own family.”  He paused to sigh.

“As much as I missed him – especially since he was my last connection to my parents - I continued to stay away from Arthur and his family.  Once in a great while, though, whenever we took a holiday away from this part of England…and I knew that I would not be recognized…I would discreetly pop into one of the local magical pubs for a Butterbeer and to read a Daily Prophet to see what was happening in my old world.  That’s how I found out that You Know Who was gone and the first war was over.  After that, I often thought about contacting my cousin again.  If Rory had turned out to be a wizard, I would have definitely done so.  However, it soon became clear that Rory did not have any magical ability, either.  I decided then that we would keep our distance from the wizarding world – especially since we could not protect ourselves against any of that psychopath’s followers who were still out there and who would still to be determined to cleanse the world of people like us.  I knew that Arthur and his family were alive and well…and that was all that mattered to me, anyway.  Years later, when I read that he had come back, and it had all started up again, I knew that I had made the right decision to stay away.” 

“Oh, Dad…” Rory murmured and Amy rushed to give her father-in-law a hug.  The Doctor, however, sat nearby lost in his own thoughts.  He had known about the British Wizarding Wars, of course, but had chosen to sideline himself from those events since, impressive as he was, he did not have any magic to speak of.  It was just one of the many hard decisions that he had been forced to make in his long life.  He knew that he would not have been of much help during that struggle - especially since parts of the conflict were actually fixed points in Time that not even he could change.  It had all finally ended, though…and with the right outcome…thanks in part to the actions of his current companion.  The Time Lord looked over at Hermione with pride and affection.

Hermione caught his look and smiled back.  She had never questioned his inaction during the Wizarding Wars because she knew that even the Doctor…as brilliant as he was…had his limitations.  Therefore, she quickly returned her attention to the Williams family.  Rory and Amy now sat on either side of Brian to support him while Hermione had slid to the empty seat next to the Doctor.  “Trust me, Brian,” she said comfortingly from across the table.  “I understand completely …and for what it is worth, I also think that you did the right thing at the right time, as well.”  With those words, Hermione slowly rolled up her sleeve to show them the slur that had been carved there against her will.  “There is no doubt that you would have been hunted…just like I was.  However, I had the misfortune to get caught.”  While Rory and Amy made sounds of anger and concern over her condition, Brian looked at her with renewed wonder.

“You’re Hermione Granger,” he breathed as he looked at the very telling Mudblood scar.  “I don’t know why I didn’t make the connection before…not even when you told me your name…but I have read about you!”

“I hope that it wasn’t any of that rubbish by Rita Skeeter,” Hermione sounded vaguely amused as she rolled her sleeve back down – confident that she had proven her point.  “She has a definite grudge against me.  Plus, The Quibbler was the only paper that we actually granted an exclusive interview after the war since Luna, the owner’s daughter, is such a good friend of ours.”

 “Ours?” Amy asked with interest.

“Yes, mine and Harry’s,” Hermione answered.  “Harry Potter,” she clarified for Brian who nodded at the significance of that name.  She continued, “Even Ronald, as well…but to a lesser degree.”   The witch then turned back to Brian with a bit of a self-deprecating smile.  “Ron is Arthur’s youngest son.  He and I were together for a while.”  She paused to roll her eyes for a moment. “At any rate, the three of us were the best of friends in school.  Arthur and Molly also brought Harry into their family, as well - especially since he was an orphan who had been raised by horrible relatives.  It all worked out well, though, because Harry eventually married Ginny, the Weasleys’ youngest child…and the only girl.”

Brian’s look brightened considerably at the news of his cousin’s family.  “How many children did Arthur and Molly end up having?  They always said that they were going to stop after their second one.”

Hermione snickered.  “Let’s just say that did not happen – especially since Ginny is the last of seven.”

“Seven!” exclaimed Brian in surprise.  Hermione nodded, but the smile had slid from her lips to be replaced with a look of sadness.

“There are only six now, though,” she stated softly.  “Unfortunately, we lost Fred during the war.  The whole family really took the loss hard – especially George, his twin.  The two of them had always been inseparable…and they were so funny and creative together.  They loved to pull pranks and even opened a very successful joke shop in the wizarding section of the city.  George runs it with Ron now…but things just aren’t the same.”

“I didn’t know that Arthur had lost one of his children,” Brian whispered in sudden pain and grief at the news.  His hands sought solace by grabbing onto Rory and Amy – as if to reassure himself that his own beloved children were still there.  “I should have been there for him.”

Hermione thought about it.  “You can still be there for him, now, Brian,” she replied gently“It has been a long time, but I know that Arthur would love to see you.  Family has always been the single most important thing to him.  Plus, he simply adores everything and everyone who is muggle.”  As she said those words, realization hit her.  “I bet that is because of you,” she breathed.

“Do you really think he would want to see me…even after all of these years?” Brian asked, his tone a mixture of both hope and uncertainty.

“I know so!” Hermione replied confidently and her tone made the man beam in pleasure.

“Can you…What’s it called?...Apparate?…Can you take me to him?…Now?” he requested breathlessly and the witch nodded happily at the eagerness in his voice.

All of a sudden, Rory interjected.  “I want to go, too.  They are my family, as well, you know!”

“Don’t even think about leaving me behind!” Amy also made her thoughts on the subject very clear.

“Now wait just a minute!” Hermione exclaimed laughingly as she held up her hands in surrender.  “I can only apparate with two of you at a time.  Therefore, we will have to take another mode of transportation.  Maybe something that can even get us there a bit earlier in the day – especially since it is almost evening here.”  She paused and looked at the Doctor with significance. 

The Time Lord jumped up.  His good humor and manic energy had been almost miraculously restored once he realized that he could actually be of use again.  “I could not solve the problem with Voldemort…but I can certainly help with this one, Brian.  The TARDIS can get the coordinates from Hermione…and she will take us all there this morning, if you like!”

“That’s exactly  what I was thinking!” Hermione affirmed.  Obviously, no further discussion on the matter was needed, so they all rushed back out to the Police Box in the garden.

Chapter Text

Molly had just finished clearing the breakfast dishes with a wave of her wand when she heard a strange wheezing sound coming from the garden.  What are those gnomes up to now? she wondered as her eyes fell on her two youngest sons who had come from their flat in Diagon Alley on their day off in order to have breakfast with their parents.  I’ll send George and Ron out there to degnome again before they leave, she decided with a nod.  However, she was completely distracted from that thought when a knock sounded on the kitchen door and a very familiar face peeked in.

“Hermione!” Molly cried out in delight.  “What are you doing here, Dear?  Harry said that you had suddenly decided to go off on holiday.  It’s only been a few days, though, did something go wrong?”

“Not at all, Molly,” the younger woman said as she gave her favorite mother-figure a hug.  Then she reconsidered her statement.  “Well, yes, actually a lot of things went wrong…but we soon set them back to rights again.  Nevertheless, I really have had the most delightful time with my new friends.”  Molly just looked puzzled at her explanation, but Hermione had finally seen Ron and George sitting at the table.

“Hullo, boys,” she said cheerfully.  “Is Arthur here?  I’ve brought him a bit of a present.”

“Oi!  Where’s mine?” Ron asked as he jumped up to give her a hug.  “I’m still supposed to be your best friend, you know.”

“And I am your favorite almost-brother!” George exclaimed as his arms encircled her from the other side, “so I deserve a present, too.”

Hermione just laughed at their antics as she pushed herself clear from them both.  “The present is for all of you actually,” she explained.  “Therefore, you may want to let your brothers and sister know to get over here as quick as they can, too…even Charlie, if he can make it over from Romania.  However, I really need to talk to your father about all of it first.”

The three Weasleys just looked at her puzzled for a moment until Arthur reentered the room from the side door.  “Hermione!” he exclaimed with genuine affection.  “I thought I heard your voice.  What a lovely surprise!  Are you back from your holiday already?”

“Not really, Arthur,” she told him honestly as she gave him a warm hug, as well. “I just stopped by with a present for you.  I really couldn’t wait any longer to give it to you.”    

“You didn’t have to get me anything, you know.  Just a visit from you is enough,” the man replied honestly…right before his serious look morphed into a mischievous grin.  “However, I won’t say no if you insist.  After all, I would hate for people to say that I can’t accept a gift graciously." 

Hermione laughed and headed back for the kitchen door that led out into the gardens.  That reminded Molly of the noise she heard earlier and she had just started to give degnoming instructions to her sons when Hermione opened the door again to reveal the man who waited there.  Molly took one look at his face and shrieked with some kind of emotion that made the boys look at her in surprise.  Then they noticed that their father had gone pale as a sheet, as well.

“Dad? Are you alright?” Ron asked with concern.

Arthur paid his youngest son no mind at that moment, however.  Instead, he just stared at the man whom Hermione had brought to the Burrow…a man who he was positive he would never see again…a man who looked so much like himself that it was almost like seeing his reflection in a mirror. 

“B…Brian!” he stammered and his voice was thick with emotion.

“Hello, Arthur.  Hello, Molly.  It’s been a long time…entirely too long of time, actually,” the newcomer said as calmly as he could with tears running down his face.  “I’ve missed you both so much!” 

Then, in just the blink of an eye, the three of them rushed together and were soon lost in an embrace that had Hermione and the other Weasley men in tears, as well - even if Ron and George did not quite understand why yet.  The emotional scene in front of them also deeply affected the young couple who still stood unnoticed as they watched the reunion from the doorway.  Their anonymity did not last long, however.  After Brian turned to introduce Rory and Amy, they soon found themselves pulled into Molly and Arthur’s embrace, as well.

~~~~~

Very soon, the Burrow was a bee hive of activity.  The quirky little house was practically bursting at the seams as more and more members of the Weasley family arrived to meet their long lost Williams cousins.  It was a noisy and chaotic reunion…but it was heartwarmingly wonderful, as well.  Both tears and laughter were abundant as the bittersweet explanations and stories from the missing years were finally shared from both sides of the family.

When Charlie arrived after he finally managed to procure a last-minute portkey in Romania, the situation turned even more emotional. That was because it was then that Charles Brian Weasley finally met his namesake for the first time.  That was not their only connection, however.  Brian Williams found out then that he had meant so much to Arthur that he had also been named, despite being absent due to the complicated circumstances at the time of the birth, as one of Charlie’s godfathers.  The waterworks really flowed then and Brian immediately set about to make up for lost time with the young man.

~~~~~

Through all the chaos, the Doctor (who for once was not in the middle of things) purposely stayed on the edge of the crowd and nibbled Molly’s delicious homemade biscuits or drank tea from the charmed-to-automatically-refill teapots as he watched the chaotic familial going-ons with a half-smile on his face.  He had been warmly welcomed to the Burrow, also, since the Weasley family assumed that the slightly unusual man in the bow tie was a mutual friend of both Hermione and the Williams family…and that was how she had eventually figured out the family connection.  Nevertheless, by unspoken agreement, nothing had been said about time and space travel for the time being.  Even though the group from the TARDIS all knew that the truth would eventually come out as the stories were being told, they had all decided that the first family reunion was not the proper place for such a revelation.

As Hermione socialized with both sides of the family, however, she kept an eye on her alien friend.  She knew him well enough to realize that he might not be entirely comfortable in such an environment, but she had to give the Doctor credit anyway.  He stuck around for much longer than she thought he would.  Consequently, she was not surprised at all when she finally saw him slip out of the door and into the garden.  She knew then that he had decided to make his escape.  After all, she had seen him do it many times before once the job had been done – especially since he did not like goodbyes.  However, she refused to allow him that particular satisfaction when it came to her!  Therefore, she followed him out to the TARDIS.  She was in for a bit of a surprise, however, when he spun around to face her as soon as she entered the ship.

“Superior Time Lord senses,” he replied to her unspoken question about how he knew that she was there.

She just shook her head in amusement and went straight to the heart of the matter, instead. 

“Where are you sneaking off to then?” she asked.  “You would not think about leaving everybody…us...me…without saying goodbye, would you?”

The Doctor rubbed the back of his neck nervously and his normal manic energy was suspiciously absent. “Well…domestics and I have not always gotten along very well,” he answered, a bit sheepishly.  “In fact, I remember that I avoided all type of family situations completely back when I had big ears and wore leather.  I thought that I had gotten better about it since then…After all, I did attend Amy and Rory’s wedding after resetting the universe…but this,” he paused as he waved in the general direction of the Burrow and the crowd of people inside.  “Well, this is all a bit much.”

As intriguing as it was, Hermione let the comment about 'resetting the universe' slide for the moment while she focused on the main point of his story.  She loved all of the Weasleys as if they were her own blood.  However, she also knew well that it could be overwhelming at times when all of them were together.  Therefore, she understood exactly what the Doctor meant and did not try to criticize him further or change his mind about leaving. 

“What about the Ponds?” she simply asked, as she used his favorite name for his in-laws…no matter how incorrect that it actually was. 

“Oh, I’m sure that they will have no trouble getting home with this magical lot here,” the Doctor rushed to reassure her…and perhaps himself a little, as well.  “Please let them know that I had to go…but will pop back to see them soon?” he added in a hesitant manner, as if he really wanted to ask something else instead. 

Hermione wondered at the tone, but nodded in acquiescence anyway.  Then, a gloomy thought crossed her mind and she could not help but to ask in a smaller, more uncertain, voice herself.  “What about me, then?”

The Doctor looked sheepish again, but Hermione could also see the sadness in his suddenly ancient-looking eyes.  “Well, I just thought that since you were back home with your family…that you would want to stay here…with them.  I want you to know that I completely understand and I don’t want you to have to choose between…”

Hermione interrupted his explanation as she rushed to set him straight immediately.  “You thought wrong, Doctor.  It’s true that I love the Potters and the Weasleys.  However, I also love you…and River…and I would like to continue to travel with you for as long as you will have me.”  Hermione grinned at him before she continued.  “Now that Harry has Ginny, he doesn’t need me to constantly keep him out of trouble...and alive...anymore.  Therefore, the position of 'my jeopardy-friendly best friend with saving-people tendencies' is open again.”  She paused to grin again at her alien friend.  “Since I like to keep my skills sharp, I need someone to fill that vacancy immediately.  You, Doctor, seem to be the most likely candidate available - especially since River and the Ponds aren’t always around to keep an eye on you.  So what do you say?  Will you accept the offer so I can have my old job back?” she asked...and the mixture of amusement and sincerity was clear in her tone.

The Doctor’s face lit up.  “Do you really want to stay?”  he asked hopefully and Hermione’s heart broke a little at the knowledge of how many friends and companions her dear friend must have lost in one way or the other over the years to make him so happy with her decision.  That knowledge only served to reinforce and strengthen her resolve.

“Yes, I do!” she reiterated firmly.  “However, if you accept the position, I am afraid that you are going to be stuck with me for quite a while…especially since powerful witches live a very long time.”  She saw the look of surprise in his eyes and smiled accordingly.  “All I ask is that we stop by here and visit with the Potters and the Weasleys from time to time…the way that you do with the Ponds.”  She paused and waited for his happy nod of acquiescence before she continued.  “However, since I am already here now, I would like to take care of a few things at home and work before I head back into the Vortex indefinitely with a certain madman and his Box.  Could you give me a week…just a linear week…to wrap things up here and make my explanations?  That should do nicely.”

“You’ve got a deal, Granger!” the Doctor exclaimed eagerly, and the return of his cheerful manic energy was obvious as they shook on their agreement with enthusiasm. “I’ll just pop ahead and pick up River…because we both know that she has probably already gotten into some kind of trouble by now,” he added as Hermione nodded sagely at the probable truth of such a statement.  Then the Doctor grinned again as he continued.  “Then, while you handle your affairs here, I’ll take my archeologist wife to go see the pyramids in New New New Egypt.  She has been wanting to go there ever since she heard about the living mummies!  Afterwards, we will both see you in a week.”  When Hermione gave him a knowing look, he threw up his hands.  “A linear week from today,” he corrected himself.

Hermione agreed that it was a good plan and sealed the deal with a warm hug and a friendly kiss on the Doctor’s cheek.  Then she straightened his bow tie and turned to give her home coordinates and a definite return time to the TARDIS herself…because everyone knew that the Doctor was a rubbish driver on his own.  Plus, Amy had told her just how long she had waited for the Doctor to return that first time…and Hermione wanted to make sure that did not happen to her.  Finally, with just a last affectionate pat to the TARDIS’s console and a cheerful wave to the bloke standing next to it, Hermione exited the Police Box in high spirits.  She then headed back to the riotous family reunion that was still going strong inside the Burrow.

~~~~~

Many hours later, the parents in the family started to collect their offspring, who had all fallen asleep in various unlikely locations around the Burrow.  In fact, Hermione was the one who had found little Albus on the floor of the pantry where he had succumbed to slumber with his hand still stuck in Grandma Molly’s biscuit jar!  However, even after their departure, the house was far from empty.  Molly and Arthur were both thrilled to still have company when the Williams family, physically and emotionally exhausted after all of the amazing surprises of the evening, decided to stay overnight in the Burrow…along with Charlie.  After all, there was plenty of available bedrooms in the large house – especially since the Romanian dragon keeper was the only one who did not live close enough to simply apparate or floo home.   For herself, Hermione graciously turned down an offer to stay that night, as well, even though she did promise to check back in with everyone on the next day.

Consequently, since she had already promised Harry and Ron a long chat and some much needed explanations on the morrow, the extremely tired witch apparated back home and directly into her front foyer as usual.  However, in her fatigue, she could not help but to stumble a bit in surprise, even as she automatically whipped out her wand, when she realized that she was not alone in her home.  After all, she had seen the long lean form as it unfolded itself from the sofa in the shadowed area of the adjacent lounge.