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Apologies and Anomalies

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December, 1998

 

Christmas season was Hermione’s favorite time of year. It was in the muggle world and became even more special in the magical world. She reminisced about Hagrid bringing a freshly cut pine into the Great Hall, the ghost carolers serenading the staircases, and the taste of firewhiskey on a snowy night. Even the visit to Godric’s Hollow, before the traumatic attack and fight of course, was a moment of quiet solace amongst the desperation in search of the Horcruxes. 

 

Lost in thought, Hermione watched the snow fall outside the Hog’s Head. It was easier to stay distracted in her mind and ignore what was happening around her.

 

She didn’t understand how Ron could be comfortable in such a public setting. Going to Hogsmeade was asking for attention. The “Golden Trio” were the most famous three wizards in the world. They were gawked at, fawned over, whispered about and not all of it was positive. There was always gossip speculating on their behavior, rationale, the status of their relationships… Hermione despised it. She was glad to be spending the majority of her time at Hogwarts. Even without Harry and Ron, her makeup year felt like a gradual return to normalcy and Hogwards afforded her a greater sense of privacy 

 

She knew Ron was embracing an image outside of his family– even if it was connected to herself and Harry. He was no longer one just of the Weasley clan, in fact the other Weasley’s were now noticed in relation to his status. He found excuses to be seen in public and watched the headlines grow. Ron Weasley Spotted in Diagon Alley, War Hero Shops for New Quidditch Robes. Ron Weasley and Hermione Granger Date Night, Is a Golden Wedding on the Horizon? Ron Weasley Reading, Auror Exams Iminent.

 

Hermione had laughed at that one. Ron reading? Could he have planned a more deliberate publicity stunt? She knew he hadn’t spent more than fifteen minutes studying for those exams, much to her dismay and disappointment. 

 

Harry encouraged her to be supportive. It was harder for him too, but he wanted things to get back to normal. He was also focused on rebuilding his relationship with Ginny and didn’t want any tension between the Weasley’s to impact that.

 

She continued to stare at the snow, feigning interest in Ron. He was prattling on about the Chudley Cannons season prospects. While she had no interest in the sport she was glad it was back. Going to matches to watch Ginny play made her realize spending time on recreation activities was a luxury they hadn’t been afforded at the end of the war. Hermione made a conscious effort to embrace her free time.  Of course, Hermione still did extensive reading, but for her own personal pleasure. She even incorporated some of Ginny’s recommended Werewolf romance novels. 

 

“What’s that prat doing here?” Ron said.

 

Hermione turned back into the conversation, “Who?”

 

“The ferret,” Ron pointed at Draco Malfoy entering the pub, “I can’t believe that scum escaped Azkaban.”

 

Hermione instinctively went to correct him, but was beaten by Harry. 

 

“C’mon Ron,” Harry said, “I was surprised too, but I was at his trial. He helped Snape and gave crucial information to the Order. He didn’t identify us at Malfoy Manor and his mom saved my life.”

 

“Why are you defending him?” Ron snapped.

 

Ron hushed as Draco walked by the table of the three of them. This was the first time Hermione had seen him since his trial. His signature blonde hair was shorter, cut and styled, but not slicked back to his head. He looked more relaxed and casual. She also noticed he had filled out a bit, recovered from the withering boy ravaged by war. 

 

Draco looked at them as he walked by. “Potter, Weasley” he nodded, “Granger.” 

 

As he moved on she noted that he didn’t have that typical Malfoy whine when calling her Granger , in fact it almost sounded pleasant. She felt some heat rising to her face as they made eye contact and instantly tried to suppress it. 

 

“Who does he think he is fooling?” Ron whispered again. “I can’t believe he tried to apologize to me. What a knobhead.”

 

“I’m sorry. He apologized to you?” Hermione was shocked.

 

“He tried to, I told him to fuck off and leave me alone. I don’t believe a bloody word he has to say.” Ron slammed his glass on the table.

 

“Ron, I think he really meant it.” Harry said, “I don’t want to be mates with him or anything and we are not getting tea to catch up soon, but I dunno… we talked. It was good to leave it all behind.”

 

“You too?” said Hermione. 

 

“Harry, you could make excuses for anyone’s actions, even you-know-who. I am just looking out for you.” Ron replied.

 

Harry mumbled to himself, clearly wanting to leave the conversation behind. However, Hermione found she was still incapable of such a feat when passion struck.

 

“Ron, haven’t you learned anything through this war!” Hermione berated, “Things are complicated, people are complicated. I haven’t spoken to him, but I am tired of these silly rivalries when we all saw life and death. The magical world needs to move forward and build a better future for ALL of us.” 

 

Hermione picked up her bag and headed towards the door. She looked back, “I have a lot of work to finish before the Holiday. I will see you both at the Burrow in a few weeks.” 

 

Hermione stormed back to the castle trying to rationalize her behavior towards her two best friends. She knew she was firmly in the right, they all had to move on to build a better world and if Malfoy was willing to do that he should be treated with respect. She always had a thing for the underdog. Plus, it wasn’t like Harry would stand up to Ron, he saved that for opportunities when Ron treated Hermione or Ginny poorly. 

 

She did wonder why Malfoy hadn’t come to apologize to her though. Hermione concluded that maybe the Ron conversation had put him in a bad position and he didn’t want to be a problem in their relationship. 

 

Another frustration of her relationship with Ronald. 

 

She tried to vanquish that train of thought as quickly as it started. Things weren’t perfect, but it had been an adjustment for all of them after the war. Harry and Ginny were having a rough go of it too. That time apart and Ginny’s experience at Hogwarts had taken their toll on the relationship. In fact, in some ways things were easier for Hermione and Ron.

 

She and Ron disagreed, but they had always disagreed. At least Ron now openly acknowledged his feelings for her. Hermione did appreciate his lightness, the way he could make her laugh. She chalked it up to them adjusting to the nature change of their relationship. 

 

 

That night Headmistress McGonagall found her in the great hall. “Ms. Granger, can you come with me?”

 

Hermione followed her to her old transfiguration classroom. McGonagall took the majority of her meetings in her old office. Hermione thought it was because Snape and Dumbledore’s portraits made the Headmistress office quite off putting. Dumbledore couldn’t keep his opinions to himself and Snape was annoyed with Dumbledore. The dynamic would be hilarious if it wasn’t so invasive to any functional conversation.

 

“Ms. Granger,” McGonagall said, “There is someone here to see you. I have been assured that he is in no way here to make you upset and I have informed him that you are full within your rights to turn him away. I myself was hesitant to speak with him at first.”

 

“It’s Malfoy, isn’t it?” Hermione said, “I saw him in Hogsmeade today. I heard he might be on an apology tour.”

 

“Well that’s one way to frame it,” McGonagall sighed, “Either way, you are under no obligation to be in any situation that makes you remotely uncomfortable. I am also happy to witness if that would bring some level of comfort.”

 

“That won’t be necessary Professor, but I appreciate your concern.” 

 

“Very well,” McGonagall sighed, “He is waiting in the office.”

 

Hermione approached the office having no idea what to expect. She had just defended him today, but now the prospect of being face-to-face with her childhood tormentor… Well, it wasn’t overly exciting. 

 

She entered the room and Malfoy immediately stood up, and pulled out a chair for her. The picture of pureblood society manors. 

 

“Thank you for meeting with me,” he started, “I wasn’t sure if you would after I spoke to Weasley.”

 

“Ron doesn’t make choices for me,” she quipped. It came out harsher than she intended, but he smirked. 

 

“I never thought he would. Regardless, thank you.” Malfoy took a deep breath, almost as if to compose his nerves. “I’m here to apologize for many things I’m afraid. I am sorry for the slurs I used against you, while my father and many others in my circle were consumed with blood status I have been under no delusions, it was a hurtful and demeaning insult and I intended it as such. I can’t claim that I didn’t feel I was better than you… I have been a right git, but it was never about your muggle parents or supposed blood status.” 

 

“Malfoy, I-” Hermione started, but he cut her off.

 

“I’m sorry, can I finish. I have thought about this for a while and I want to get through it. I promise I will give you time for the hundreds of questions I am sure you have.” Hermione nodded and he continued, “Your apology has been the one that has been the most difficult. I have no expectations that I will be granted or deserve forgiveness, but I need you to know that I respect you. Your intellect, but most of all your empathy. I never understood it, to be honest I still don’t. Your fascination with the house elves or your other lost causes, but I can see how that led us on different paths.”

 

Draco paused, but Hermione waited in silence. She could sense he had more. 

 

“I’m not going to lie and tell you I fought for the Order, because I didn’t. I fought to live. I knew no one would survive under the Dark Lord and my mother and I schemed to help Snape. He truly played his cards, well, because we weren’t under the impression his loyalties lay with the Order either. No matter. I should have done more and I didn’t. That day at my family’s manor…. I should have done more. And of all the things, that is what I am most sorry for.”

 

Hermione was shocked. It was as Harry had said, genuine. Her mind was racing a million miles a minute, but she felt for him. The lost boy he was, the man he had become. It was overwhelming.

 

“Malfoy,” she started, “I don’t know what to say.”

 

“I stumped the great Hermione Granger,” he hesitantly smiled, “If I have one accomplishment, it can be that.”

 

 “I won’t lie to you Malfoy, when I do think of you, I do think of a lot of pain.” Hermione said as she instinctively pulled her sleeve further over the vivid scar, “There is one thing though, I never blame you for that day at Malfoy Manor. That is not a weight you should carry.”

 

“I could have done more, I could have stopped Bella from carving..” 

 

“No.” Hermione said firmly, “You could not.”

 

They sat there in silence for a moment. Hermione did have questions, dozens of them, but not about his apology, about him.

 

“Malfoy,” she said, “What are you going to do now?”

 

“Like tomorrow,” he said, “I am thinking about drinking a whole bottle of firewhiskey and taking the day off from apologies.”

 

“No, no,” she said, “With your life? What do you want to do for a career?”

 

“The Malfoy’s don’t usually have ‘careers’,” he replied, “We run Malfoy estate, the investment and properties, entertain, lobby, and politics. Fucking boring. What about you?”

 

“Everyone wants me to go into a career at the ministry. They think I would be successful and it would be good for the country for a muggle born to rise up the ranks.” Hermione replied.

 

“I didn’t ask what people want you to do. Yes Granger, you would be an incredible know-it-all anywhere you go.”

 

“Weren’t you just apologizing to me?” said Hermione.

 

“I apologized for the cruel things I said. You are still a Gryffindor, know-it-all. I can only do so much.”

 

“Ok fine, your point?”

 

Malfoy looked at her very seriously, “What do YOU want to do?”

 

She was at a loss and growing frustrated. Hermione Granger always had the answers. She had a plan. The ministry, Ron, what would Draco know about that.

 

“I don’t need to sit here and be prodded by you Malfoy.” she said coolly, “What do you want to do? Do you want to be your father? Managing the estate, mingling with the sacred 28, enabling systems that fundamentally created the very war we just finished.”

 

Hermione geared up for a fight, a series of unflattering remarks or at the very least the signature Malfoy scowl, but he just stared at her blankly. Then after a moment of silence he stood up, “No I don’t want to be like my father. It sounds like we both have a lot to figure out.”

 

He made his way to the door, turning around to look at her one final time, “Thank you for your time Granger. I would say best of luck, but I know you don’t need it.”

 

As he left the room Hermione began to cry and the worst part was she couldn’t even figure out why.





March, 2005

 

Hermione’s alarm went off at 5:45 am. Fuck , she thought, but she got up anyone. She never snoozed her alarm, even if it came too soon. 

 

Hermione got dressed and put on leggings, a quarter zip and her running sneakers. She slipped her want under her waist band. She never left it. 

 

Her townhome was in a part of London that was primarily muggle. She did know an older wizard couple who lived a few doors down, but they kept to themselves. She didn’t want nosy prying neighbors. However, she did want to be in a place she could run. Hermione specifically picked a home with a good, safe running route. 

 

She picked up running four years ago and was shocked at the relief it gave her. Hermione would start the run with her mind wild, a thousand thoughts and questions. As she ran she thought about her breathing, her cadence, her feet striking the pavement. The thoughts wouldn’t dissipate, but they got more manageable, easier to control. She would allow herself to work through more complex problems, work or personal, on a run. A run in the morning left her with a more clear head for the rest of the day. 

 

As she ran this morning there were no complex problems to solve, just running through the list of things she wanted to do that day. She listed them out to herself, check-in with Harry, pick up a gift for James’s birthday, follow-up with Neville about if the silverweed is ready to harvest, Owl Luna about her Hen night plans. She thought it was a manageable list for the day.

 

When she got home she showered and immediately wrote to Luna to ask about plans for her Hen night and anyway she could help. One task done for the day.

 

She always liked Luna, but since they both started working at St. Mungo’s they had gotten much closer. Luna was a mind healer, a shockingly perfect fit for her. She watched it a dozen times. People would enter her office in a place of reserved caution, mind healing was still a growing field in the magical world. Luna’s inquisitive mind, her open demeanor, and pure heart radiated through. Once people got over the nargle inspection they were instantly put at ease. She was quickly becoming one of the most sought after Healer’s in all of Britain, not that it would get to her head. 

 

Hermione arrived at St. Mungo’s 15 minutes early and headed straight to her lab in the new East Wing. The East Wing Healing research department was reluctantly funded post war. The confiscated reparations paid by many of Voldemort’s former supporters were burning a hole in the Ministry’s pocket and public pressure to assist with ongoing war recovery effort and general reform was mounting. The research wing was an excellent press opportunity and distraction from ongoing political struggles. Despite its controversial conceivement, the center flourished and had specialists tied to research for each of the St. Mungo’s floors, as well as a few special departments. 

 

Hermione got to the office and found Andrew already at work. She knew she liked him. When Hemione’s funding for her research on the variables of magical treatment success was approved it came with a research assistant. She had hundreds of resumes, many of whom under qualified and just wanted the opportunity to work with the elusive Golden Girl. Some press even went through the effort of creating fake resumes in the hopes of hijacking an interview to interview her. When the fourth candidate she interviewed asked her if she saw the recent photos of Ron with a Bulgarian model, she started the whole process over again.

 

After all of that she found Andrew McIllroy. He was born in Ireland, but his mother was an American witch and he went to Ilvermony in the States. She found that their diverging background in magical education made interesting thought partners for examining false assumptions about magical treatments and family genetics. So far their work was going swimmingly.

 

“Morning Andrew,” Hermione said, “You are here early. How is it going?”

 

“I could say the same for yourself,” he replied, “Last night I had a breakthrough thinking about your point on diagnosis models and I just had to get the theory on paper.” 

 

“Let’s hear it,” Hermione said.

 

“I think you are totally right. So far all of our research has proven that magical diagnosis, particularly compared to muggle methods, is entirely predicated on the cause and symptoms opposed to those reactions to each given body and their magical, physiological, and potentially even genetic baseline, which is making magical treatment variable and ineffective.”

 

“Yes, yes, I know this– what’s the big breakthrough!” Hermione was eager to skip past the set-up.

 

“Yes, but we have forgotten a crucial part of the magical equation, especially when it comes to curses or hexes. There are potentially TWO magical beings involved that could be impacting the patient's treatment. The magical, genetic, physiological makeup of the patient and the magical genetic and physiological breakdown of the aggressor.”

 

“Oh my god,” Hermione picked up a notepad and started scribbling down notes and thoughts immediately.

 

“Exactly! Exactly. Think in the case of variable inequities in cruciatus curse victims responding to treatment. The patient's internal factors would impact their treatment, but also whoever cursed them is a whole other set of variables.” Andrew was breathless.

 

“This further rationalizes the need to understand how magic variably impacts people based on genetics and other magical and physiological factors! Well done!” Hermione thought for a second, “This does mean we need to reorganize our research and set aside cases of those curses/maladies that have been caused by a magical being directly (human or creature) vs indirect magic from potions, objects.”

 

“You are so right,” Andrew, “I will work on that immediately. This will probably delay publishing.”

 

“Hmm, good point. I will inform our department head, but honestly this is an opportunity to extend our research and I welcome it. Truly well done Andrew, great work.”

 

“Shall we go out tonight and celebrate?” Andrew asked.

 

“I would love to, but it’s my godson’s Birthday. We will have to take a raincheck next week. Tell Padma to take you out to celebrate.” Hermione smiled.

 

Hermione was thrilled the two of them had connected. Padma had an on-again-off-again relationship with Ron for a few years that was not good for her. Padma told Parvati she was so concerned when they started seeing each other and took Hermione’s reserved response as jealousy. It couldn't have been farther from the truth. She was concerned Ron wouldn’t treat Padma well and unfortunately he proved her right, again.

 

Padma said she was truly calling it quits six months ago and Hermione took the opportunity to introduce her to Andrew. He was a few years their senior and she knew he was looking for something more serious, also she thought he’d like someone from Ravenclaw. It was a great match.

 

 

The day flew by given the research breakthrough and as usual Hermione left in early afternoon. Part of her stipulation in taking the research gig was that it wasn’t full time. She wanted to keep taking on private healing clients.

 

It wasn’t common knowledge to those outside the hospital that Hermione was doing private healing and that was intentional for many reasons. She chose to provide her services to those unable or unwilling to subscribe to the traditional magical healing practices, those who were on the fringes of magical society. 

 

She had some regular clients, ones with ongoing diseases she saw more frequently. Other clients popped up only when sick or in desperate need. She did no advertising, but people found a way to get in touch with her, typically through friends of friends, or even Hogwarts or St. Mungo’s. If someone was turned away, Marigold at the front desk always found a way to slip them Hermione’s card. 

 

Her first stop of the day was a small house out in Dorset to see a couple. Dan was a wizard and he had married a muggle, Sandra. Sandra was 8 months pregnant and the fetus started exhibiting accidently magic. It had really shocked Sandra and when they were turned away from St. Mungo’s because she was a muggle and they couldn’t prove her magical outbursts, Hermione was in touch.

 

“How are you feeling Sandra? Anything new today?” Hermione asked.

 

“I’ve been having really vivid dreams, but besides that nothing too much.” Sandra replied, she seemed dazed.

 

Dan pulled Hermione aside, “I saw her levitating earlier today. I don’t want to worry her, she didn’t even realize it was happening. I just don’t want her, or the baby, to get hurt.”

 

“Dan, I understand.” Hermione said, “We are going to work to keep these incidents under control. I have some treatment ideas.”

 

“Why do you think this is happening?” Sandra asked, “Dan said he hasn’t heard of accidental magic in the womb for babies.”

 

“There is very little research done on the magical properties of the fetus. Witch magic is known to be excessive and even volatile during pregnancy, but that was always assumed to be the witch and not the fetus.” Hermione replied, “Another gap in healing research certainly.”

 

“And I’m sure you are going to fix it,” Sandra replied.

 

Hermione liked her. She learned about the magical world and took it in stride. They moved away from her family because they asked too many questions, his family was still not entirely supportive, but they had each other.

 

“I have studied your medical history and genealogy provided and I think I have a treatment plan. I brought a potion. Add it to any tea and take it in the morning and at night.” Hermione said, “It can’t hurt you or the baby, it can only help or be neutral. It should calm your and the baby's stomach as well as increase iron levels which should help. I would stop taking your physician provided iron prenatal vitamins. This will substitute that and be more efficient and direct.”

 

Hermione continued, “Owl or better yet, call my cell tomorrow if there are any issues. Sandra keep filling out the journal I gave you to record symptoms, I will evaluate it next week.”

 

Dan followed her out to the door, “How much do I owe you for the potion?” 

 

“Nothing Dan.” Hermione replied.

 

“Seriously Hermione, we can’t accept this for nothing.” Dan repeated.

 

“You can and you will, I have a benefactor funding my work. You worry about keeping her healthy and I’ll do the rest, ok?” she smiled, “See you next week. Get some sleep. You are going to need it when the baby gets here.”

 

 

Hermione’s last client of the day was one of her regulars. She had seen him weekly since she finished her healing training. Today she was completely taken aback when after four years someone unexpected answered the door.

 

“Hermione Granger,” Astoria Greengrass said, “I’m so pleased to formally meet you.”

 

Astoria was a year below Hermione at Hogwarts and she knew her sister Daphne, but never spent much time with either of the Greengrass sisters. They had ended up at more similar functions lately due to the impending nuptials of their mutual friends Luna Luna and Theo Nott. Even on those occasions, Hermione was ashamed to admit the Slytherins and the Gryffindors mostly stayed segregated, much to Luna’s dismay.

 

Astoria was a pretty girl, the opposite of Hermione in pureblood refinement and fashion. Even today, Hermione was in her standard look of jeans and a plain jumper. Hermione rarely did anything special to her hair and makeup, especially not on a work day. On the other hand, Astoria was in a black slip dress, white open blouse and boots. She had bright lipstick and statement sunglasses on her head. She looked like a French muggle model. 

 

Hermione was under no impression she was unattractive. She knew she had a good figure and pleasing face, some people even liked her hair, but she never was polished. Astoria was polished, pristine, and effortlessly chic. In spite of that, what Hermione really noticed about Astoria was her kind eyes. They were instantly warm and welcoming. When Astoria said she was pleased to meet her, Hermione really believed she meant it.  

 

“Is Dennis inside?” Hermione said.

 

“Yes, of course, come in.” Astoria said, “I apologize, I told him to tell you that I would be here this week, but you know how Dennis is. This close to the full moon he can be really forgetful.” 

 

So she knew about his condition, Hermione was surprised. 

 

Dennis Creevey had been bitten by a Werewolf  in a skirmish following the war. Some remaining death eaters were still going after muggle borns and his family was targeted. Unfortunately, he had some lingering effects that needed constant monitoring. One of the many reforms still much needed by the Ministry was the treatment of werewolves. Dennis still wasn’t permitted in St. Mungo’s, or to have a job at the ministry for that matter.

 

He had become something of a well-known photographer– both in the magical world and up and he was even up and coming in the muggle world. It started as a tribute to his brother Colin, but had grown into a true passion. 

 

She loved looking at Dennis' work. His walls were always covered in photos and experimentation. A combination of the static muggle photography and the moving magical photos. Hermione stopped and looked at one photo in particular, it was Astoria walking down the beach. She didn’t turn back and look at the camera, it was like an intimate moment of thought caught against the breeze, water. The grains of sand flickered across the photo. 

 

“I didn’t know he was taking that,” Astoria said, “It’s one of my favorites though, even if I wasn’t the subject.”

 

“It’s stunning.” Hermione replied.

 

“It was the day he told me about his condition,” Astoria said, “It was a lot to take in. I was so sad for him, so happy he felt comfortable telling me. I was reevaluating what our life looked like together… Somehow he managed to capture it all.” 

 

Hermione was surprised this near total stranger was opening up to her, but she was happy for Dennis. Astoria was clearly a very special person.

 

“Why didn’t you tell me about her?” Hermione asked when Astoria left her to Dennis.

 

“I was going to, but I never thought it would last.” Dennis said, “I mean she is Astoria Greengrass, basically a Slytherin princess. And when things did get serious, I wasn’t sure how she’d take my condition. The lycanthropy of course, but also the ongoing illness. It’s getting worse, Hermione”

 

“I know,” Hermione said, “Your blood work was not great. Your white cell count is still lowering. Neville and I are trying some substitutions in your wolfsbane this month that will hopefully make it more effective and also I’m adding an additional supplement to your regime. It should increase your day-to-day energy.”

 

Dennis was a lot of the inspiration for her research. Wolfsbane had never been entirely effective on him. It subdued his wolf, but Dennis felt more of the push and pull, he was never fully present and in control. His wolf was still excessively violent. The potion should allow Dennis and his wolf to connect, but it seemed to fight him at every step. The transformations were also harder for his body to recover from. 

 

Hermione had initially fought for research for werewolves and pushed admittance to St. Mugo’s, but with increased werewolf attacks and prejudice heightened with werewolf involvement in the war, she made little progress. She pivoted and put her energy towards helping Dennis and others infected on her own.

 

“What are you going to do this full moon?” Hermione asked.

 

“The usual, warded in my parents barn.” Dennis said, “Astoria wants to come and ward me in herself, but I’m not sure.” 

 

“I’m glad someone will be there for you. Your parents might enjoy the company as well, I know it’s always a tough night for them.” Dennis nodded at her, “I’ll meet you there first thing in the morning, I want to see the effects of this new wolfsbane variant.” 

 

“That’s not necessary Hermione–” Dennis said.

 

“Nonsense,” she responded firmly, “I’ll be there.”