Chapter 10: Remembering
Hermione's mother was incoherently hysterical for a few minutes before she began lobbing questions at her daughter.
“Who is this man with you? You promised you would never use magic on us, Hermione! You promised it was only for that world. Is what you did to us dangerous? What are we supposed to do now? We've got a whole life here, and nothing left back home! Your grandmother... have you even been to visit her? Does she know we're still alive?”
Her mother took a breath, then asked, “Are you really married?”
Hermione looked at Severus, then back at her mother.
“No,” she said.
The revelation that she was in love with her former professor could wait for another time.
“Thank god,” said her mother. She then gave Severus an apologetic look.
“No offense. I just thought I had missed my only daughter's wedding,” she said.
She turned back to Hermione and said, “I don't know what to say to right now, Hermione. How can we ever trust you again? You removed our memories – over half of our lives, gone, and we had no idea. You used your magic on us without our permission. I can't even say I've missed you, because I didn't know you existed for the past – what is it – three years? A bit more than that, actually.”
Hermione felt a tear slip down her face.
“I'm so sorry, mum. I had to do it. I had to keep you safe. They would have found you and killed you.”
Her father leaned forward and said, “Who, Hermione? Who is 'they'?”
Hermione sniffed and said, “It's a long story.”
“We've got time,” said her father tersely. Hermione sighed.
“The Death Eaters... they're sort of, I dunno, both a political movement and a gang of thugs who believe in, ah, magical blood purity. Henchmen, if you will, for the Dark Lord.”
“A Dark Lord?” her father asked incredulously.
“His name was Tom Riddle,” said Severus suddenly. “He called himself Voldemort. His followers called him Lord.”
Her parents were both staring at Severus now.
“He was the strongest practitioner of Dark Magic to emerge since ancient times,” said Severus. “He was not the most powerful wizard of our time, but the only one with such power who was willing to delve into the Dark Arts, live them, and experiment with them in ways long forgotten.”
Her parents digested Severus' information silently.
“Why was this Voldemort – or his followers – after my daughter?” asked her father. “And why weren't we informed she was in danger?”
“Because I didn't want you to know,” said Hermione. “Up until that year, at least, we were safe enough at Hogwarts. Dumbledore was far more powerful than Voldemort. You remember Dumbledore, right?”
“Of course, how could we forget such a character?” her mother said. “Well, then, what happened?”
“Dumbledore died,” Hermione said. “Voldemort's followers took over the Ministry and the school. I had to go into hiding, and I couldn't bring you with me. I knew you would never agree to leave the country without me. I was afraid they would find you if you stayed.”
“Why didn't you stay in Australia with us if you were in danger, Hermione?” her father said. “What else aren't you telling us?”
“Your daughter joined forces with other young witches and wizards to resist Voldemort's takeover,” said Severus. “And she was in great part responsible for his ultimate defeat.”
“You joined forces... to fight in a war? Hermione!” Her mother was crying again.
“I had to do it,” Hermione said. “They were going to deny Muggleborns any place in the magical world. We would have had to flee the country or be killed and the movement was spreading across Europe as well. It had to be stopped.”
Her parents fell silent, observing her with newfound horror.
“What did you do, Hermione?” her mother cried.
“I helped make sure that when Voldemort finally waged open war, he was quickly defeated,” said Hermione. “I went into hiding with my friends and learned everything we could about him.”
“You were a spy?” asked her father in disbelief. “A child spy?”
“I wasn't a child!” Hermione said. “And I wasn't a spy. We gathered information about his past and the Dark Magic that brought him to power.”
“Hermione – and others – continued the work of Albus Dumbledore, who began studying Voldemort's past many years ago,” said Severus.
Another silence followed, then Hermione's father spoke.
“Just how did Dumbledore know to start gathering information so long ago?” he asked.
Hermione gave Severus a look and said, “It wasn't the first time Voldemort attempted to rise to power. He tried once before and then he disappeared, waiting until the time was right. Dumbledore knew he would be back. He was prepared.”
“So, a headmaster and a group of barely-legal students brought down a tyrant?” her father said. “Where was the Ministry? Where were the authorities?”
“Voldemort spent years infiltrating both,” said Hermione. “His sympathizers – and those who were ignorant of his true power – convinced the majority there was no threat. It started out with small changes. His people eventually took over the Ministry and began implementing blood purity laws.”
Hermione's mother got up and squeezed herself onto the sofa beside her daughter.
“I'm glad you are alive,” she said, hugging her. After a moment she also said over Hermione's shoulder, “But if you ever use magic on us again you will be disowned.”
Her father continued to stare at Severus, until her mother got up and asked, “Would you two like to join us for dinner?”
Hermione's father stood and walked out of the room without a word.
“I don't know, Mum,” said Hermione. “I'm sure you and Dad, ah... have a lot to talk about. Maybe another time?”
Her mother gave her a stern look and said, “You have a lot more explaining to do. I think you had better stay. Your father would not want you to leave, either.”
The sound of dishes being shuffled in the kitchen could now be heard, some of them hitting the countertops a bit harder than necessary.
“Mum...” she protested.
“Perhaps I should give you some time alone with your family,” said Severus.
“Nonsense, there's plenty of food,” said her mother. “And you deserve a thank you for helping Hermione return our memories. Let's eat.”
Severus did not look happy as he seated himself at her parents' table. Hermione gave him an apologetic look.
“So, Severus,” said her father as they began their meal. “What Hermione did to us – was that a safe bit of magic?”
Severus did not blink as he said, “The spells she used were executed perfectly and with the proper precautions.”
“Yet, she needed your help to undo them,” remarked her father. “Which would suggest the magic was beyond her ability.”
“The risk with any memory modification is in its removal,” Severus said. “The magic she used to make you forget her posed no threat to your mind or body.”
Her father studied him for a moment before spearing a potato with his fork.
“Are you an expert in this sort of thing, then?” he asked.
Severus inclined his head slightly and said, “I have extensive experience in the field of Mind Magic.”
“And Hermione was your student?” her father asked.
“Mind Magic is not a subject taught at Hogwarts,” said Severus, making Hermione wonder why he was being so damned honest. He knew better than anyone how to lie convincingly.
“Hermione was my Potions student,” Severus said. “Her education in Mind Magic was entirely self-taught.”
Her mother dropped her fork to her plate and said, “My god... this just keeps getting better!”
“He also taught me Defense Against the Dark Arts,” said Hermione lightly.
“And what were you doing, while my daughter was hiding from murderous political factions and digging up the secrets of this Dark Lord?” her father asked Severus.
“I,” said Severus, glancing at Hermione, “Was a spy.”
Hermione's mother began laughing, quickly becoming hysterical.
“This is made up,” she said. “This isn't real! Hermione!”
“It's real, Mum,” she said.
Her mother continued laughing, tears escaping the corners of her eyes.
“Excuse me,” she said, getting up and leaving the room.
Hermione, Severus, and her father sat in silence. Hermione picked at her food, unable to work up an appetite.
“I'm sorry,” said her mother, upon returning. She sat down and cleared her throat.
“Where have you been living all these years, Hermione?” she asked.
“Ah... different places. With the Weasleys, at the house Harry inherited from his godfather in London, with Bill and Fleur... and in a tent in the Forest of Dean for a while.”
“A tent,” her mother repeated.
“Yes,” Hermione said.
Her mother stared at her.
“You hate camping,” she said.
“Yeah,” said Hermione. “It was terrible. Magic helped, though.”
“Well,” said her mother, “Is there anything else?”
Hermione shook her head. Her mother looked to her father.
“I can't believe I've been calling you Wendell for the past three years,” she said. She turned back to Hermione.
“Wendell?” she asked.
Hermione allowed herself to smile a little.
“What's wrong with Wendell?” she asked innocently. Wendell was the name of a former coworker, who had not been a favorite of her father's.
Hermione helped her mother clear the table a short while later. Her father disappeared again for a few moments, then poked his head into the kitchen.
“I'm talking Lucy for a walk. Severus, why don't you join me,” he said.
Severus handed Hermione the stack of plates he was holding and left with her father.
She and her mother worked in silence until they were nearly finished cleaning the kitchen.
“I'm sorry, Mum,” she said as her mother finished wiping down the counter. “I hope you can forgive me – I just wanted to keep you safe.”
“No,” her mother said, her voice shaking. “You weren't just keeping us safe. You lied to us for years. We had no idea the extent of the danger you faced in the magical world. Blood purity? You were targeted for having non-magical parents?”
Hermione nodded. Her mother gave her a stern look.
“If we had known there were groups advocating such ideas in magical communities, we wouldn't have let you continue going to that school. You knew that, and so you hid it from us.”
“Mum,” said Hermione, “I had to – it's my world. The magical world is my home. I couldn't leave. I couldn't run away and let it be taken over by hatred and fear.”
“That's very noble,” said her mother. “I just wish you would have told us what was going on. We're your parents, it was our job to protect you.”
“You couldn't have,” said Hermione. “If you had tried to keep me from Hogwarts I would have run away.”
Her mother did not reply.
“I hope dad is being nice to Severus,” said Hermione.
He was likely subjecting Severus to intense questioning about Hermione's story and her years at Hogwarts. What would Severus tell him?
“Severus...” repeated her mother. “You know him well, this former professor. You never spoke of him, but I distinctly remember you complaining about Potions a few times. Who did he spy for?”
“For Dumbledore,” said Hermione. “After he died, Severus stayed at the school and helped protect the students who were still there. The school was overtaken by Voldemort's people as well. That was right before I sent you away.”
“Have you finished your education?” asked her mother.
“Yes,” said Hermione. “I went back and have graduated. I hope to get a job at the Ministry.”
“The same Ministry that was recently overrun by blood purists?” her mother asked.
“They've either fled the country or been arrested and prosecuted,” said Hermione. “I want to be part of the new Ministry and make sure this never happens again. I want to help other magical beings become recognized as full citizens – the centaurs, for example,”
“Yes, and the house-elves,” said Hermione. “I've always hated the fact that we have house-elves.”
Her mother blinked and said, “You might have come back to us sooner. Why did you wait?”
“I was afraid I wouldn't be able to reverse the spells,” she said. “We thought Severus was dead after the battle – ”
“You were in a battle?!” her mother shrieked.
“Yes,” said Hermione calmly. “The point is, Severus was not able to help me for a while. There was no one else I trusted to help me and the thing about reversing memory spells is, ah, you really need to get it right the first time.”
“Or... you might never regain those memories at all and suffer further memory loss.”
“Hmm,” was her mother's only response.
Hermione sat down at the empty table and sighed.
“Have you and dad been happy here?” she asked. “I know you've always loved Australia.”
Her mother joined her.
“We are happy,” she said. “Our practice is doing well. We have wonderful coworkers and lovely friends.”
“Will you stay here?” Hermione asked. Her mother folded her arms.
“I don't know,” she said. She suddenly reached out and pushed Hermione's hair out of her face.
“You look so much older, Hermione. You've got a scar on your face that wasn't there before. Your professor seems to have suffered far worse. There's more you've not told me.”
Hermione heard the front door open, signaling the return of the men. Lucy came into the kitchen first and begged her mother for a head scratch.
“Good Lucy-girl,” said her mother, patting the panting dog's head.
Severus walked in, looking weary. Her father followed him and went to fill the dog's bowl with water.
“We should be going,” Hermione said.
“Where are you staying?” asked her mother.
“Ah, we have a place,” said Hermione. “It's in a little magical town... you wouldn't have heard of it.”
“Naturally,” said her father.
“Why don't you stay here?” asked her mother.
“I don't have any of my things,” Hermione protested.
“You could easily get them,” said her mother, giving her a knowing look. “I'm told magical means of travel are quite fast. Instantaneous, even.”
“Mum, I'll be back tomorrow,” said Hermione. “I think we all need some time to think.”
Her mother nodded after a beat.
“Okay, then. Tomorrow,” she agreed.
Hermione and Severus left at last. Hermione let out a sigh of relief after they had crossed the street.
“Thank you,” she said as they turned the corner and stopped behind a hedge row. Severus placed a hand on her arm.
“You are very much like your father,” he said.
“What did he say to you?” she asked curiously.
“Later,” he said. “Let's get home before Ms. Willie breaks into our flat and discovers we've ruined her furniture.”
The chair that had been Hermione's bed for so long had forgotten how to be a chair and was now a mind-bending combination of the two, covered in a double-pattern of the original floral print.
They returned to their flat and were greeted by Ms. Willie as they opened the side door to the building in hopes of sneaking in unnoticed.
“There you are! I was hoping you would be back soon, so that I could tell you the news,” she said.
“What news?” Severus asked wearily.
“Minnie is throwing Billy a goodbye party!” she said happily. “Tomorrow night. He'll be leaving Sunday morning, and who knows when we'll see him again.”
Hermione smiled and said, “That's lovely, Ms. Willie.”
“You'll both be coming, I hope,” she said.
“Ah... yes, I think we'll be able to make it,” said Hermione. She had no intention of spending the entire evening with her parents.
“Wonderful!” she said, clapping Hermione on the back and patting her arm. “Billy will be glad you have you there. Well, goodnight!”
Ms. Willie hurried up the stairs in front of them and disappeared into her flat. Hermione sighed heavily.
“At least I'll have an excuse to get away from my parents tomorrow evening,” she said.
“You would prefer the company of that old bat?” he asked. Hermione shushed him as they passed Ms. Willie's door.
Once inside their own flat, Severus pulled her into his arms and began kissing her senseless. She responded with more energy than she had felt all day.
“Your father wanted to know how close we are,” he said after a while.
“Merlin help us,” she said. “He's figured it out already?”
“You did say we were married,” he said, kissing her again. Hermione giggled.
“Ah, yes... how did you like being Granger for a few minutes?”
Severus did not look amused, but he smirked as she pulled her top off. He pulled her against him again and murmured into her ear, “No more talking.”
He claimed her mouth and Hermione could not help moving against him, her hands on his hips, thumbs sliding under his waistband, wanting more.
He silenced her again with a deep kiss and then picked her up and deposited her on the bed.
“Silencing charms,” Hermione whispered.
“Stop talking and we won't need them,” he said, removing his shirt. Hermione refrained from wondering aloud whether they had even locked the door.
He helped her remove her trousers and then lay down at the end of the bed and ran his hands over her legs. He then smirked as he threw her legs over his shoulders.
Hermione spent the next minutes repeatedly clapping a hand over her own mouth to keep from verbally expressing her approval. He brought her to the very brink and stopped. Before she could do more than moan softly in frustration, he was there, his mouth hot on her own, his body melting into hers, and he began moving slowly as Hermione found herself experiencing the most exquisite delay of satisfaction.
He suddenly groaned. Just as his movements intensified, Hermione lost herself with a long, gasping sigh of pleasure – the waves of it lapped long and lazily over her as he joined her.
Moments later, he flopped down beside her on the bed.
“Am I allowed to talk now?” she asked playfully.
“If you must,” he said, smirking.
She rolled over and traced her fingers over his chest.
“What – exactly – did my father say to you?” she asked.
“It doesn't matter,” he said.
“Just tell me,” she said. Severus was silent for a minute.
“He asked me if your story was truthful, how dangerous your part in bringing down the Dark Lord really was, and why we seem to be so close. He asked if we worked together while I was a spy, and whether I realize you fancy me.”
“What?! Did he really?” she asked, horrified.
“Indeed,” said Severus.
“Bloody hell,” she said. “I suppose we'll have to tell them.”
“Tell them what?” Severus asked. “That we're fucking?”
“No! That we – er – that we are a we,” she said. “Aren't we?”
Severus pushed himself up on his elbow and looked at her.
“What do you want this to be?” he asked her seriously.
Hermione blinked at him and frowned.
“I want it to be what it already is,” she said. “We live together and we're... in love.”
He ran a hand over her body and said, “If you wish to be married, we could be.”
Hermione laughed and said, “Oh, is that a proposal?”
He kissed her.
She gazed at him soberly and then said, “Yes. Just... let's wait until there's no longer two of me in the world.”
He took her hand in his own, interlacing their fingers.
“Very well,” he said.
Hermione laughed and asked, “What is a magical marriage like? You've said the rings are essential to the union. What else? Muggle marriage is not much different than living together, other than the official registration with the government and certain legal ramifications.”
“Magical unions require binding,” he said. “With rings, with words, and often with blood.”
“Blood?” she asked.
“Traditionally, the rings are imbued with a blood oath,” he said. “How is it that you are ignorant of magical marriage traditions? I assume you were involved in the Potter-Weasley wedding. Did you not learn these things then?”
Hermione shook her head and said, “I was so sick of hearing Ron talk about us getting married that I sort of blocked out the details. We had a terrible row the day of the wedding. All I remember is how obnoxious he was for months.”
Severus was silent.
“I knew magical marriages were a more serious commitment,” she continued. “I don't know of any magical marriages that have ended in divorce. That's why I was so ambivalent about Ron wanting to rush into it.”
Severus looked at her, a strange expression on his face.
“Were you engaged to Ronald Weasley?” he asked. Hermione's eyes widened.
“No! He proposed to me after Harry's wedding. I said no and then I broke up with him,” she said.
Severus sat up further.
“Yet, you have said you were still dating him the day you were sent back in time,” Severus said.
“Yes,” Hermione said slowly. “I told you, we were just starting to date again after a break.”
“You did not say he had proposed,” said Severus sharply.
“I... does it matter?” asked Hermione. “I have absolutely no desire to date Ron again. As soon as I get back I'll tell him it's over for good.”
Severus looked away and said, “If you continued the relationship after the proposal – even if you refused it at first – Weasley, and his magic, may consider you promised.”
“What? That's not what happened,” Hermione said. “We didn't do anything to invoke magic.”
“You may not have,” said Severus. “Weasley might have.”
“Wouldn't I know if he had?” Hermione asked.
“Perhaps not, since you are apparently ignorant of marriage traditions in the magical world,” said Severus. “What did he say when you agreed to date him again?”
Hermione thought back to the day.
“He showed up at work with flowers after my first day at the Ministry and apologized for pressuring me to get married. He told me he couldn't live without me and begged me to take him back. After I said yes, he planned an elaborate, expensive date for us.”
“At any point on this date, did you and Weasley maintain physical and eye contact while assuring one another of your mutual affection and express the intent to marry one day?”
“No,” said Hermione. “Well, he did... but I didn't. I couldn't. He took my hand, said he loved me, and then that he wanted to marry me one day.”
Severus let out a slow sigh, presumably in relief.
“I am going to kill Ron when I get back,” said Hermione.