Wyrd Sister

Title: Wyrd Sister (Lestrange Hermione)
Author: Excentrykemuse

Pairing(s): Hermione/Lord Voldemort
Series: Wicked Stepmother Universe
Fandom(s): Harry Potter Series

Wordcount: 14.5k
Status: Abandoned
Rating: PG

A/N: I wrote this 2018? 2019? It was my second Hermione/Wicked Stepmother after “Regulus Hermione”, which may or may not be released soon. This is imperfect, but with the renewed interest in the Wicked Stepmother Universe, I thought I’d release this. Enjoy!
Summary: Hermione knew she was adopted. She had somehow snuck through the cracks to get into pureblood Hogwarts without getting her wand snapped. Somehow, she just had to prove beyond a doubt (even if just to herself) that she belonged. That’s where the Wicked Stepmother came in…

Wyrd Sister

There were no so such things as Muggleborns.  Voldemort had quite done away with them.  When Hermione Granger received her letter, of course, she did not know that.  She knew of magic, of course.  How could she not?  It was so terribly obvious.  However, when she entered Hogwarts she discovered that everyone’s parents were already magical and not Muggle like her own.

It was a secret she kept locked deep within her heart.

She didn’t tell Harry whose own Mother wasn’t allowed in Diagon Alley for being like her.

Ron would have been too judgmental.

So, she wondered.  The summer before fifth year, she sat at her vanity.  Elissa, her younger sister, was so very beautiful with golden hair and brown eyes that were so very different from hers.  Her mother had golden hair and her father’s hair was a deep brown.  Hermione was different.

Her hair was a pale golden brown, her eyes even lighter, her skin paler than white and her bones so fragile that a spare bludger could break her wrist just by whistling past.  It was nothing in comparison to the tall firm frames of her parents and sister.  She was like a petite elf in comparison.

It were as if Hermione didn’t belong to them. It was absurd.  Of course it was.

And yet it couldn’t be helped.

When Januarius Montigue asked her about her name the year before when he found her converting money at Gringotts she had lied and said she had been adopted.  “I don’t know who I am,” she told him.  “I’m not a Granger and, well, the Dark Lord wouldn’t let me attend Hogwarts if I were anything less than a strong half-blood.”

A strong half-blood.  That was a half-blood who had two parents who were wizards.  They were also known as first generation purebloods.  It was ridiculous. 

She was waiting for a mandatory blood test to come have her taken away to Azkaban or at least have her wand snapped and have her obliviated.  Now she was looking at a bright future at the Ministry of Magic as an Unspeakable.  It was unheard of.  It was impossible.

“I am vishing that you are being older,” Viktor had told her once they had started dating her fourth year.

“I am fifteen.”

“Yes, Hermoninny,” he agreed.  “But you are being needing to be sixteen.”

She looked at him oddly, wondering at how he could be so graceful in the sky and yet so utterly clumsy on land.

He gazed at her from under thick eyebrows.  “There is being club for purebloods.  You are being too young and I cannot being taking you to London.”

She lifted an eyebrow at him.  “Which club?” she asked casually.

The Vicked Stepmother.”

She looked over at him and thought.  Perhaps this club could definitively tell her who she was.  Now, months later, Viktor no more than a thought in the back of her mind, she put herself into research of this place.  At Grimmauld Place she had to go into Walburga Black’s old wardrobes and salvage her old gowns, sewing them into the modern styles. 

Ginny’s subscription to Witch Weekly was good for something. 

It was easy enough to sneak out.  Hermione walked down Diagon Alley with her head held high in a dark green gown with slashes showing past to dark blue.  Lace covered her arms and she was glad Voldemort had lifted the ban on children doing magic over the summer.  The shoes wouldn’t have fit otherwise.

She walked up Knockturn Alley and saw the little sign for The Wicked Stepmother and strode purposefully toward it.  The door opened with a little chime and she looked up to see a maître d’ glancing up at her.

Mademoiselle,” he greeted.  “You have not come with your esteemed parents?”

Hermione laughed at the absurdity of it all.  “I am an orphan,” she admitted.  “I came with the hope that you might tell me who they were.”

The little wizard looked at her.  “We cannot do that, ma’amzelle.  We only confirm your blood status.  Do you not even know that?”  He indicated a cylindrical wooden cone that pointed upward toward the ceiling at an angle and, at his direction, she put her wand in. 

“I do not know who I am.  How can I be sure of that other than that I am eligible for Hogwarts?”

He wasn’t looking at her, though.  The cone was moving quickly, too quickly, and a piece of paper was coming out of it alarmingly fast.  He grasped it and read it and then looked at her with wide eyes, before grabbing her elbow and pushing her into the club past tables of talking patrons and toward a floo.  He hurriedly threw in some powder, shouted something she couldn’t understand, and rushed in with her.

“A black card!” he declared as soon as they appeared.

Hermione looked about a beautiful office of pale wood with shelves filled with books and magical maps hanging on the wall.  A wizard, tall with blue eyes and dark hair with an auburn sheen, was leaning against a corner.  He looked up and took them in and his eyes sparkled.

“Thank you,” he said in a decidedly masculine voice.  “I shall see our black card gets home for dinner.”

The maître d’ bowed and left through the floo and Hermione glanced behind her before taking in the simply dressed man before her.  Not quite certain what else to say, she asked, “Black card?”

The Wicked Stepmother registers your propensity to magic.  Yours happens to be rather dark, my dear.  Tell me, who are you?”

“I don’t know,” she answered.  “It’s why I went.  I was hoping they could tell me.”

The wizard sat down in an arm chair and offered her the one opposite him.  “Please.  How is this the case?”

“I’ve suspected for many years that the people I live with are not my family, that I must be an orphan.  I don’t know who I am.  I know my name is little more than a name.”

He gave her a sad smile.  “Names can be that.  Well, beautiful one, I shall call you ‘Belle’ if your name is not your name.  A wizard should have the privilege of naming you, I should hope.”

“Belle,” she laughed.  “I’m considered one of the guys.”

“One of the guys,” he insisted, “will figure out you are far from that soon enough.”  He was holding a book and his fingers drummed against it.  “You don’t live with wizards then.”


“Would you like me to relocate you?”  His blue eyes flashed at her.

“Who’s to say that I’d be any happier?  I’m quite fond of my Muggle sister Elissa.  I’ve just known for some time that we couldn’t possibly be related.—who are you?”

“A friend.”

“You have a name.”

“No more than you, Belle.  You should be with your own kind.”

“I’m spending my holiday with the Blacks,” she told him.  “I am quite well looked after.  Of course, this particular Black is a bit mad, but I think that runs in the family.”  She laughed a little, thinking of the portrait of Walburga Black.

“You just carry a Muggle name when you’re a pureblood,” he insisted.  “I don’t like this.  I was forced to carry a Muggle name.  It did me a great disservice.”

“What Muggle name was that?”

“Tom,” he answered.  “I know.  Terribly plebian.”  He shook his head.  “But a black card.  You’re the first witch since the 1700s.  I’m the only other wizard alive to hold one.”

Hermione finally took the seat and looked at this man.  “And you’re important if you can relocate me.  How fascinating.  Two powerful individuals in this study, with no names other than smoke screens, talking of nothing at all.”

He smiled at her.  “I’m sure we can talk of something, Belle.  But tell me now, the Blacks.  They treat you well?”

She thought to Sirius for a moment and how he barely realized she existed, which suited her just well.  Hermione was there as Harry’s friend and Sirius was Harry’s godfather.  For some reason James and Lily were bickering this summer so they had sent Harry to Sirius and Harry had invited Ron and Hermione.

Looking at the wizard, she tilted her head.  “He ignores me,” she answered honestly.  “I prefer it that way.”

“A powerful witch in the house of one of the four Families prefers that they ignore her,” he stated sadly.  “I wish it could be another way.”  He set his book aside.  “There are only two Black brothers.”

“Regulus and Sirius,” she agreed.  “Excuse me, Regulus, Lord Black, and Monsieur Sirius.”  That had been an interesting story to learn.  Sirius was the older brother and the original heir.  He had been disinherited and been passed over for his younger brother.  Hermione had never gotten the whole story from anyone.  It seemed, though, that Tom knew some of it.

“Lady Black would not ignore a young lady in her house,” he stated.  “Amarante is too kind to guests.  Regulus, Lord Black would be unlikely to invite school aged girls.  You must be staying with his older brother.  I’ve met the man only a handful of times and I’ve never been impressed.”

She stared at him for a moment.  “I did not know.  I have not met Lord or Lady Black.  You move in charmed circles.”

“Perhaps, Belle.—Who are you?”

She gave him a mischievous smile.  “Prefect.”

A light caught in his blue eyes, showing he was willing to play the game.  “Do you wish to be Head Girl?”

“Decidedly.  I intend to become an Unspeakable.  I may not have a family name, but I have my wits and my magic.”

He glanced at her.  “You’re too beautiful to hide behind a hood.”

“You may not be old enough to be my father—“

“I am young enough to say such things,” he argued.  “You can only gain a card at The Wicked Stepmother if you can prove magically you have been a pureblood for six generations, Belle.  You have a name.  We just don’t know it and I’m going to find it for you and then take it away from you again.”

She lifted her brow in confusion.

He stood fluidly from his chair and picked up her left hand and stroked her ring finger.  “I want to see the fire in your eyes when you cast your first Unforgivable, Belle,” he murmured in her ear.  “They teach such things later in Hogwarts, but I would like to show you personally.  There are some dark spells I think you would revel in, black card.”

She gasped.  “Are you saying I have black magic, Tom?”

“The blackest,” he agreed, and their noses brushed when she glanced up at him.  They remained there, breathing in the same air, until he drew away with a deep breath, still holding her hand.  “What are your politics?”

She pulled into herself and took a deep breath.  “I hate it when Ron says my sister’s an oaf for being a Muggle—or Squib, as he thinks,” she stated honestly.  “She’s the most beautiful creature I’ve ever seen.”

He looked at her in surprise.  “More beautiful than you?”

“Yes,” she breathed.  “Far more beautiful.  She’s never tried to steal my magic.  She hates it actually.”  Her nose scrunched up.  “I don’t know why they hate it.”

“They hate it,” he told her quietly, sitting on the edge of his chair, “because they do not understand it and are envious of it.  It festers away at them and will manifest itself negatively against you as you are your magic, Belle.  What did they say when Monsieur Sirius invited you to stay?”

“He didn’t invite me.  His godson did,” she admitted.  “They were glad.  They said I’d have someone to talk to.”

“Passive aggressive,” he told her plainly.  “It’s an unobtrusive but highly negative emotion.  It will only get worse as time goes on.”  The wizard lifted her hand to beneath his lips, let it linger there, and then released it back into the palms of his hands near his thighs.  “You shall not be returning.”  Standing in one fluid movement, he went to his desk and started writing something down with long fluid strokes of his pen. 

He picked up a card. 

The Wicked Stepmother registered you as the Hogwarts student Hermione Granger.”

She stood.  “Yes.  That’s me.”

“And you’re friends with Monsieur Sirius’s godson.  Did you enjoy the tournament last year?  Weren’t you Viktor Krum’s captive?”

“I was.  I don’t enjoy being wet.”

He laughed outright at this.  “I like you, Belle.  I knew I would have you for my bride, but I like you.”

Hermione wasn’t quite certain how to answer this, so she finally said, “I was happy Cedric won in the end.  I may have been Viktor’s girlfriend, but I was happy Britain won.  It was beyond simple human connections.  It was about native pride.”

His eyes, strangely, flashed red.  “Exactly, Belle.  I’m glad you understood that.”  He set down his quill and gave her his full attention.  “How is young Krum?”

“Flying?” she suggested.  “I wouldn’t know.”  Hermione glanced toward a map of magical Britain on the wall and his eyes followed hers over there.  She leaned in closer.  “I swear that’s Grimmauld Place.”

“It is,” he answered, not looking.  “Why aren’t you at this godson’s place, or does he always spend his holidays with his godfather?”

She glanced at him at the corner of her eyes and then decided to trust him.  “I take it you work for the Dark Lord,” she stated.  “It’s his fault, in a way.  Monsieur and Mrs. Potter always seem to be fighting about him, about his laws, about how Harry has more freedoms than his mother.  It’s gotten so bad this time around they decided it was best if they just sent him away.”

He grimaced at her.  “I don’t know of Mrs. Potter or your friend Harry,” he admitted.  “Monsieur Potter must not work high enough in the Ministry.”

“He doesn’t at all,” she informed him carefully.  “He’s a law-wizard.  He’s constantly having legal battles with aurors.”

“And Mrs. Potter can’t get a job?”

“Not in the magical world.”  That said it all, didn’t it?  Lily Potter couldn’t get a job as she didn’t have magical parents.  Legally she stole her magic and the only reason why Harry wasn’t branded was that he inherited it biologically from her despite her earlier theft.

“And the Potters aren’t recognizable enough a name—unless—who are his grandparents?”

“Grandparents?  Evans.”  She sat down.

“No.  The Potters.  Fleamont and Euphemia?  They’re world class potioneers.  If your friend Harry is their grandson or great-grandson he could be quite the pureblood heir, forgive the play on words.”

“Are you an Heir?” she asked, not answering the question.  “I know you’re not a Black.  I know Lord Prewett, so you’re not him, but Lord Prince or—no, Heir Malfoy is a boy at school.  Are you a Prince?”

“I’m a Sacred Twenty-Eight, both my parents.  My mother married a man who was not my father, cursed me in the womb to look like her husband,” he admitted, “so now I look like a handsome stranger.  As a child I thought this man, this Tom, was the man who had fathered me, but he abandoned me and Mother on the streets of London for being wizards.”

“What happened to the man who really was your father?”

A wistful expression came over his face.  “Why, he was convicted of murdering the man who married my mother and left her for dead.  Motive, I suppose.”  He wasn’t looking at her now.  “It’s time for tea.  Would you like to go to The Wicked Stepmother and show off that lovely dress I haven’t seen the like of?  Did you make it?”

“I’m not the best seamstress,” she admitted.  “I took one of Walburga Black’s old dresses and tried to do it over.”

“Let’s see,” he promised as he made her to stand.  With a jab of his wand and she turned on her heel, she was in magenta robes of lace and satin, bright blue showing through slashes in the latest style.  Her heels were even made out of magenta glass as if in a Muggle fairy story.

“I could never afford…” she breathed.

“I can,” he promised her.  Tom took her lace gloved hand in his own and introduced himself.  “I’m Mal Gaunt.”

She blinked at him for several long moments.  “I’ve never heard of you.”

“Not by that name,” he apologized, leading her to the floo, lace wisps falling all around her.  They dragged elegantly on the floor, magically spelled so that she wouldn’t trip.  They came out at the same floo she had been pushed into before and she looked around her at the beautifully exposed beams.  As the maître d’ came up, Gaunt put up his hand.  “Mademoiselle Hermione and I are to have tea.  I’ve told her my actual name of Monsieur Mal Gaunt.  Well, I don’t like to use my full name as it was my grandfather’s and I like to think I am a little different than he was.”  He leaned toward Hermione.  “The man was obsessed with blood purity to the extreme.  He made several lives miserable.”

“And you don’t make lives miserable?”

“Only through legislation,” he promised her.  He turned back to the other wizard.  “I don’t wish to be disturbed.”

“Of course not, Monsieur Gaunt, especially with such a fine lady for company.  I will collect calling cards for you and present them to you when you leave.”  He held out a pure black card to Hermione where she could barely see her name in gray.  “For you, ma’amzelle.

“Thank you.”

They were led to a table to the whispers of the others around them, but Gaunt didn’t pay the least bit of attention.  “I haven’t been seen here with a woman since the last time a Mudblood tried to get in.  I had to physically restrain her.  She was actually biting a few of us,” he admitted.  “It was Mrs. Potter actually.”

“I hadn’t taken you to be quite so—“

“Old?” he laughed.  “No, perhaps not.  I was here, though.  Perhaps she was of the same mind as you.”

“Perhaps she was.”  Hermione opened her menu and looked at a list of teas.

“Lady’s choice.”

“I know Muggle teas,” she told him plainly.  “I know nothing about magical ones.  I need you to guide me in this, Gaunt.”

He glanced at her for a half a moment before turning back to the list.  “Unicorn’s Breath,” he decided, “with white chocolate.  Do you like white chocolate?”

“I’ve never had any.”

He nodded, the choice decided, and they placed their order.  Gaunt took a little notebook and self-inking quill from his breast pocket and opened it.  “I can get this from Hogwarts, but I should like to hear it from you.  Your parents are dead or believe you missing.  I’m going to look into this immediately, Mademoiselle.  Your name is wizard.”

“May I tell you a secret?”

“You may tell me anything.”

“I think—I remember having a mother.  A different mother.  I don’t remember a father.  She had blue eyes and blonde hair and there was an uncle and—it made no sense.  My father’s name was mentioned but it makes no sense.”

“Tell me his name.”

“But it’s not a name.  I’ve looked it up everywhere I can find.  I can find my uncle’s name—close to it.  What’s strange is that I was named after my mother.  Sort of.  She was named Helen and I was named Hermione.”

“And Helen of Troy’s daughter was named Hermione,” he remarked with a kind smile.  “Now, tell me, Belle.  Tell me your father’s name.”

She leaned forward and waited for him to move forward toward her.  Then she reached toward his ear and murmured, “Rabastan.”

Gaunt gasped.  “He’s not married.  I know your father.  He’s in Azkaban.  I couldn’t stop it.”

Hermione gasped.  “What did he do?”

“He and some—associates he would not name—tortured the Longbottoms during the Takeover.  The Dark Lord could not save him although he tried.  He has an older brother—“

“Rudolphus,” she supplied.

“Rodolphus with a long ‘o’,” he told her kindly.  “He is married to his second wife, Madam Bellatrix Lestrange, the older sister of his first wife, Madam Andromeda.”

“Is she the mother of Mademoiselle Rana Lestrange?” she asked in complete shock.  “We look nothing like each other.  She’s in my year in Slytherin.”

“And you’re not in Slytherin.”

“I’m in Gryffindor,” she murmured, folding her hands a little in nervousness.

He reached out carefully and stroked her left hand.  “Mademoiselle Rana is the daughter of Monsieur Rodolphus and Madam Andromeda.  Madams Andromeda and Bellatrix are the sisters of Lady Malfoy.”

She breathed out in shock.  “I understand.”

He wrote something down in his book.  Gaunt changed the subject.  “Tell me of yourself, Belle.”

She laughed at him, trying to forget what she had just learnt.  “This feels like a first date but I’ve never even had one!”

“Not even with Krum?” He was teasing her now.  She could strangely tell and normally she could only divine when Ron and Harry hadn’t done their homework.

Hermione passed over him with a calculating eye.  He was handsome.  Tall, well dressed in simple but expensive black wizard robes.  Those toggles looked absolutely decadent.  She wanted to run her hand along them but knew she could not touch.  He wanted to marry her and she did not know who he was.  “He stared at me,” she admitted. “I read, quite a bit, and I would read and he would stare at me.  When he first—noticed me—he used to follow me around the library and his fangirls used to follow him around.  I found it quite vexing.”

He laughed at her story openly again.  Hermione could learn to like this laugh.

She had tamed her hair that day to go to The Wicked Stepmother.  She wondered what he would think of her bushy hair.  It was a stray thought, but a thought nonetheless.

“What do you read?”

“Textbooks,” she answered.  “Anything to teach me about wizerdom.”

He nodded.  “But if you didn’t read those, what would you read?”

“Shakespeare,” she answered.  “I have an old battered copy.  I do love his histories.  Richard III is my favorite.”

“A Muggle author,” he noted. 

“A Muggle author,” she confessed.  “But I was raised a Muggle.”

“Which is a crime I cannot help but apologize for.  The Dark Lord will be informed.  At least you got your letter.”

“At least I got my letter.  What do you do for your pleasure?  I know you are high up in the Ministry; are you in the Government?”

“Yes, and the Wizengamot.  I hold an honorary seat that wields a great deal of power.  I don’t have much time for pleasurable pursuits but I go over to Lord Malfoy’s to ride his Abraxans when I have the chance.”

“Abraxans.” Her eyes lit up.  “How I should love to try but while Heir Malfoy and I are not enemies, we are not friends.”

“I shall take you, with the chaperone of this cousin of yours,” he promised.  “How old are you?”

“Sixteen in October,” she answered.  “A little young for here, but I thought I’d try my luck.  I thought I’d try my luck in a great many ways.”  Hermione sat back as the tea was presented and poured for her.  A dab of lemon was teased between two spoons and when the ritual was completed for them both, she picked up her cup, blew on it, and took a sip.  It was heavenly.

He was clearly pleased by her reaction.

“So are you a monarchist?” she asked.  “Or are you for total isolationism?”

Gaunt paused in his tea.  “I’m a member of Government.  You know I’m an isolationist.  I would dearly love to hear your thoughts.”

“You would have me locked up.”

“A monarchist,” he decided, taking a sip of tea.  “You are fond of the Queen?”

“No,” she answered.  “Hardly.  I am fond of the institution.  There is a difference between the holder of office and the office itself.—There is this play in the Muggle world, King Charles III, it shows how the monarchy could spin out of control after Queen Elizabeth’s death.  It’s a Shakesperean play, or rather written in his style.  If you find yourself in Muggle London, you should see it, Gaunt.”

He paused.  “I begged you to call me ‘Tom’ like my mother named me.”

“No one calls you ‘Tom’.”

“My future wife does.”

“Your future wife calls you ‘Mal’ or whatever it stands for,” she objected.  “My future husband calls me—I hadn’t thought.  I’m a fifteen year old girl.”

“Old enough to marry here in wizarding England.”

“Only with a father’s consent.”

“You don’t have a father.”

“Not a wizarding one anyway.”  She took a chocolate that he offered her and took a bite.  What an interesting contrast to the tea.  Hermione took another sip.  She rather cared for it.  “Do you play the piano?  Have you ever?”

Gaunt looked at her, shocked.

“Your fingers.  They’re ideal.”

“Would you like me to play for you?”

“With my cousin present, of course,” she laughed at him, sipping her tea once again.  “I take it your piano is at your estate.”

They stood out in the sunshine after their tea, a wad of calling cards in Gaunt’s inner pocket.  “May I see you back to Grimmauld Place?”

“We’ll cause quite a stir.  I’ll cause quite a stir dressed like this.  I snuck out.”  He began to walk with her down the alley, but then he paused.  He picked up her hand again.  “This is not right.”  Taking the edge of her arm, he steered her toward a jewelry store and asked, “You did not give yourself to Krum?”

“Hardly!” she stated, astonished.  “I let him kiss me goodnight at the Yule Ball and again when he ‘saved’ me,” her words were accentuated to show how silly she thought it was, “from the lake.  I did not even kiss him goodbye.  It had been over for a week.”

“Do you intend to wait for your husband?”

“I had not thought.”

“Perhaps you should think,” Gaunt stated calmly.  “You’re not wearing a vined ring.  If you wore one, everyone at Hogwarts would know just how esteemed your lineage is.”

She paused, her pale brown eyes looking at him.  “You want me to yourself.”

“I want you to myself,” he admitted, but then he lifted up his own hand.

It was the simplest ring she had ever seen.  It was just a simple silver vine flowing up his finger to his knuckle, showing his fidelity, for the entirety of his wizard life, to his wife. 

“I cannot even afford a ring such as that.”

“I paid for your dress, you do not think me so mean that I would not pay for your ring?” he asked her, stroking her cheek.  “You deserve your heritage and the world, Hermione Granger, Belle.”

She paused.  “My eyes aren’t blue.”

He looked at her. 

“My father’s eyes are blue but mine are not.  All the Blacks have gray eyes.  Even Draco Malfoy has gray eyes!”  She was panicking now.

“Belle,” he stated.  “Calm yourself.  I share no traits with my mother or my biological father.  Magic does strange things.  You may look like your other parent.  I know where to look.—Now.  Let me help you.”

“I’ll look,” she promised, “but that does not mean I will allow you to purchase one for me.  What’s my price range?”

“You don’t have one.”

They stepped into a beautiful shop and were immediately bowed to.  “Mademoiselle Hermione knows me as Monsieur Mal Gaunt, not as a Minister of English wizerdom,” he stated.  “She would like to look at vined rings.—Your card, my dear.”

There was a small purse on her arm, and she took out the black card, passing it over.

The wizard’s eyes widened as he perused it before passing it back.  He showed her to a case and her eyes widened at the rings.  She immediately pointed to one.

It was pure gold with silver leaves.  “Can I try it on or does it stay on once that happens?”

“Not until it’s enchanted, Mademoiselle.”

She looked over to Gaunt, and he gave her a sign of assent.  As soon as it was on her hand, she didn’t want to take it off.  “I never thought I liked jewelry,” she murmured to no one in particular, looking at her middle finger.  “I just—isn’t it heavenly, Gaunt?”

“The contrast between the two medals plays beautifully against your skin.  Are you sure you wouldn’t like diamonds or emeralds?”

“No,” she breathed.  “No, I want this one.  Don’t make me take it off.”  Hermione looked at Gaunt pleadingly.

“You want to stay true to your husband then.”

“I don’t want to take it off,” she said instead.  “I’m usually not vain. I go about with bushy hair and, yes, I did make sure my front teeth were no longer quite so big, but I don’t bother with pretty things.  I’m just silly old Granger with her old books with must and mold.”  Their eyes met.  “Don’t make me take it off.”

“It has to come off to be enchanted.”

She whimpered despite herself and took it off carefully, handing it back to the man.  “Be careful.  It’s too beautiful.”

 The enchantments were sung into it and it was back on her hand in ten minutes and she was smiling at Gaunt who was leading her out toward The Leaky Cauldron.

“Bushy hair?” he teased.

“I tamed it.”  She was still looking down at her ring.  “Oh, isn’t it wonderful?  Even Elissa doesn’t have something quite so fine.”

“A dress from the latest designer did not make you bat an eyelash and a ring that cost forty galleons has you in ecstasy.  I am glad I could please you, Mademoiselle Hermione.”  His voice was wry and yet teasing and she saw, when she could tear her eyes from her ring, that he was utilizing a walking stick.

“I see you are a man a fashion,” she teased back.  “Lord Malfoy uses one of those.  He’s a Governor at Hogwarts, but you know that.”

“Indeed,” he agreed, calling a cab with his stick and ushering her into it.  Hermione nearly tripped because she was gazing down at her ring adoringly again.  Gaunt placed his hand over it and entwined their fingers.  “We can do no more,” he apologized.  “I should have gotten you a copy of Spungen’s,” he berated himself.

“Don’t worry,” she teased him.  “I own a copy.  I’ve read it from cover to cover.  I told you, I spend all of my time in the library trying to learn about our people—“ she was ever mindful of the cabbie ”—and I will look up your family.”

“Don’t,” he begged.  “We’re an unsavory lot.  It spends a whole three pages, as well, on my rise to power from the Gaunt obscurity.”

She looked down at their hands.  “Indeed.  I simply must read it then.  I only recall the Dark Lord receiving such attention.”

He said nothing, instead gazing down at her.  “I’d like to see a photograph of the Grangers if you have it.”

“I can’t sneak you in.  I know I’ll have to leave you in the receiving room, Kreacher is bound to tell Sirius, and Harry or Ron might be about, wondering why I haven’t pestered them today.”  She sighed.  “I think they think that’s all I’m good for.  Pestering.”  She grinned.  “I haven’t pestered you to do your reading.”

“You don’t know what I have to read,” he informed her.

“Hardly.  I daresay you are conscientious unlike the lot of them.”  She laughed.  “I’m suddenly so very happy.  Thank you, Monsieur Mal.”  Hermione noticed he looked no older than twenty-five and wondered at his early rise to power in the Ministry, especially if he did come from humble beginnings.  “Mal,” she tried.  “What’s it for?”

“Malagant,” he lied.  “No, really, I don’t want to hear my grandfather’s name from your lips.”

Monsieur Malagant, then,” she decided.  “If that’s what you’ll give me, that’s what you’ll give me.  I don’t know why I’m so accepting.  I’m rushed to a back floo and taken to your office and you just decide you want to marry—we’re here.”

His chin had been resting on the top of her head and he looked out the window.  “I haven’t been here for years,” he admitted.  He strangely had Muggle money on him and helped her from the car and led her to the door.  She had a key and introduced him to Walburga, Lady Black’s portrait. 

Walburga looked at him wryly.  “Monsieur Mal Gaunt,” she stated as if in shock.  “That’s unlike you, I must say, but if the lady says so, then she says so.  I didn’t know she was of such esteemed lineage to have a vined ring.  With a name like Granger I assumed her father was one of those.  How I remember long conversations on the subject in my time.  Well, the lady brought you to her guardian.  I suppose you had better go up, Monsieur.”

Hermione led him up to the first floor landing.  “She’s never been so civil to me,” she admitted.  “This is the Tapestry Room.  You’ll see it: it’s hard to miss.  It’s rather difficult to read, but I’ll go and get that photograph for you.”

She exited the room and closed the door behind her, leaning against it and smiling to herself. 

“Is that you, Miss Granger?” Sirius called.  “What on earth are you wearing?”

“Oh, Monsieur Sirius,” she greeted, coming up to him.  “I’ve been out.  Do you like the robes?  They were a gift so I’d be rather en vogue at The Wicked Stepmother.”

“My dear,” he stated carefully.  “They wouldn’t let you in.”

“I have a card,” she stated and then held up her hand.  “The magic recognized me.  I’ve suspected since I first learned about purebloods and strong half-bloods that the Grangers couldn’t possibly be my family.  The Wicked Stepmother couldn’t tell me who I am, but Monsieur Mal Gaunt assures me he’ll look into it for me.  He wants to see a photo of the Grangers.”

Sirius’s eyes had gone wide.  “Gaunt?”

“Yes.  Says he works for the Ministry, but he’s rather young, I think.  Do you know him?”

Although he was clearly distracted, he turned to her and nodded.  “I’ve known him for years.  He’s friends with my brother.  He’s looking into your parentage?”  He picked up her hand.  “You must be from an old family to have one of these. I’ll go see to our guest.”  Distractedly, he left her. 

She watched him go before returning to her room.  Beside her bed was a family portrait, Elissa naturally in the center with her beautiful golden hair.  She picked it up and looked at it for a moment.  If only they could see her as the elegant wizarding woman she was now.  Moving toward the door, she took in her sad little trunk and the parchments everywhere.  It was her small little life.  Tossing her purse onto the bed, she walked down the hall and then down the steps.

There were angry murmurs from the Tapestry Room and she quickly entered it to see fire flashing in Gaunt’s eyes, Sirius standing with his shoulders squared.

Taking them in, she decided to just ignore it.  “I have it.  You’ll see how beautiful Elissa is and my hair.”  She passed it over and Gaunt looked down at it. 

“Your sister is terribly Muggle,” he stated.

“I’m terribly Muggle in it,” she argued.

“I meant her features.” 

Hermione didn’t know what to say to that.  Still, he perused the photograph, eating it up hungrily, before declaring her “charming despite her clothes”.  He gave it back and Hermione held it to her chest. 

“I’ll write,” he told her.  “You simply must come Abraxan riding.  You might find you like it, Belle.”

“We may not have a chaperone.”

“Heir Malfoy has sisters and a cousin,” he explained.  “You do remember Mademoiselle Rana Lestrange—she’s in your year?”

“She’s related to Heir Malfoy?  Forgive me, you told me.  Through their mothers.” she asked in shock.  “They look nothing like each other.  Lavender suggested once they were dating until he took someone else to the Yule Ball.”

“This Lavender may not have been wrong.  I do not know how it is in the Muggle world, but first cousins often seek connections for the purity of blood.  I had not heard of any plan, however, and I daresay Lord Malfoy would have told me.”  He picked up her hand, which was draped in lace and placed it an inch beneath his lips before releasing it.  “I’ll send word about proper riding robes.”

“Dear me.  I have a very small allowance and I spend it on books,” she tried to apologize.

“You never have anything to worry about when you are with me,” he promised, his blue eyes flashing red strangely.  She thought perhaps they had done that once before. 

He walked out of the room and held her in his heart.


Lord Voldemort had never been so intrigued by a woman before.  He had determined to never marry.  When he learned that his grandfather, Marvolo Gaunt, who had married his own niece, had ordered his son Morfin to take Merope Gaunt to his bed so she would get over her infatuation with Tom Riddle, the Squire’s son, and this had resulted in her pregnancy, Voldemort had been physically ill. 

He would not bring a child into such bizarre laws of purity.  There were no more Gaunts to marry, but still.  Voldemort saw his conception as twisted.  He was only cursed with the face of a stranger whose name he carried.

That’s why he took the name Voldemort.  He needed to be someone else.  Anyone else than the Tom Marvolo Riddle – or Malagant Gaunt as his father had named him.  He had not been lying to Hermione then.

Then there was this girl, so pure, so full of life, and so lost.

He immediately went to Rodolphus Lestrange.  The Lestranges had always been his supporters but after the Longbottom incident, he hadn’t been able to place them in the Ministry.  He’d been able to get Barty Crouch, Jr., Bellatrix Black, and Rodolphus Lestrange off the hook, but an auror had seen Rabastan Lestrange.  There was only so much disorder he could allow as the new ruler of Wizarding Britain. 

The house was uninviting like Bellatrix.  He caught sight of a girl, about Belle’s age, in the latest fashions, walking through the corridors.  She saw him and immediately sank into a deep curtsey until he bad her rise.  “Your father, child,” he ordered.

“Let me show you to his study, Dark Lord,” she stated in a hard voice that he knew was not meant to be unkind but was her natural mode of address.  “If he is not there, I will send Lalloo for him.”

He did not bother to answer her as he was shown through the hallways past several rooms, portraits on the wall never speaking but eyes following him nonetheless.  The girl—Rana, Hermione had called her—knocked on the door but there was no answer.

Voldemort only had two minutes to wait.

He helped himself to blood brandy and looked up at the portrait of Madam Andromeda.  Voldemort knew that Lestrange had been very fond of his first wife, especially when she had given him Rana.  Unlike most men, he had not cared that Rana had not been a pureblood male, but instead doted on his daughter, and had been bereft when his wife died two years later.

Only family, it seemed, were privy as to why Lestrange had married his first wife’s older sister.

The door opened. 

“Was your younger brother married?” he asked, not looking away from the portrait and taking a sip of his brandy.  “Don’t prevaricate, Lestrange, despite my loyalty to your family.  I’ve found a girl who may be his daughter.”

“You’ve found Hermione?  Helene vowed to keep her as far away from Bellatrix when she learned she was dying.”  His voice was breathy as if he couldn’t believe what he was hearing.

Voldemort looked over to the man who had long dark hair and pale brown eyes.  Hermione’s eyes, he realized.  Casually, he took another sip of brandy.  “Helene did just that.  She somehow managed to give her to Muggles.  Hermione remembers her parents’ names, your name, and has suspected for quite some time that she is not a one of them that slipped through the system.  She has your eyes.  Does Rabastan share them?  I don’t remember.”

“Yes,” Rodolphus answered quickly.  He went to his desk where there were various pictures.  “He was homeschooled if you remember.  Helene Fawley was in Hufflepuff to Father’s consternation, but she was Sacred Twenty-Eight.”  He picked up a photograph.  “They were married about a week before the Takeover.  Rabastan was then incarcerated a fortnight later.  He never knew Helene was pregnant but it was obvious Hermione was his.  She had his eyes from the beginning and her wisps of hair were the same honey brown.”  He passed over a picture.

Yes, Hermione had his exact coloring and her mother’s small frame.  She was a perfect harmony of the two.

“Helene contracted plague when Hermione was four and hid her before she could get infected.  We applied to the courts—but by then Hermione was gone and Helene was dead.  Her will stated that I could never gain custody of her unless Bellatrix had followed Andromeda.”  He glanced at the portrait of his first wife.  “It’s a pity because I think Rana could use a sister.”

“Hermione needs a home,” Voldemort stated quickly.  “You will come with me on Saturday to see her.  If the blood test proves conclusive then I will order a sample of your brother’s blood.  Perhaps Lord Malfoy will take the girl in.  There is a distant connection.”  He hummed and drank his brandy.  “You should know that I intend to court your niece and she will be Lady Voldemort—though she knows me only as Monsieur Mal Gaunt, a minister here at the Ministry.  I didn’t want to frighten her.  A girl brought up by Muggles, I thought, might be afraid for her magic.”  It was now Ministry policy to bind a Muggleborn’s magic before it reached Hogwarts age.  It was better for them if they just remembered strange happenings and never allow them to pollute their world.

Lestrange blinked at him.  “Lady Vol-Voldemort.”

“Lady Voldemort,” he agreed.  “You see why I take an interest in Mademoiselle Hermione.”

He had guessed her title correctly.  She was not the daughter or granddaughter of one of the four Lords although, like Voldemort, she was one of the Sacred Twenty-Eight.  Not that it signified.  Voldemort’s children would all carry titles.

“We shall call Saturday, as I said,” Voldemort reiterated.  “I’ll drop her a line.  From there we can go to Gringotts for the testing.”  The goblin bastards were good for something.  Their blood magic was unparalleled.  There was nothing in wizarding magic for it.  “I pay all of your niece’s expenses at present.  She doesn’t have much of an allowance from those Muggles and what she does have she spends on books.  I trust she has a trust or that Rabastan planned on the eventuality of children.”

“She has Helene’s dowry at least,” Lestrange answered.  “I’ll look into the rest.  She can always count on the House of Lestrange.  Whatever Helene said against Bellatrix, she was always terribly fond of Rabastan and would never see his daughter want for anything.”

“Good,” Voldemort stated.  “It is as it should be.”

“The House of Lestrange is honored,” Rodolphus Lestrange said quickly, taking Voldemort’s right hand and kissing the Resurrection Stone.  “Although we may not be able to contest the will, I am certain we will give her all the love Muggles could never hope to give, and Bellatrix and Rana can teach her the poise every pureblood lady and—more specifically—the Dark Lady will possess.”

“She has already proven she will make a fine Dark Lady.”  Voldemort’s eyes flashed red dangerously.  Belle’s magic was all the proof he needed.  He would teach her.  He would mold her.  She would be his perfect creation with her bright mind and sparkling eyes—and he would have her in his bed. 

Voldemort had had lovers before.  They had all been Muggles, women who wouldn’t know his status.  Sometimes he thought he was doomed like his mother to prefer those without magic, without complications.  He convinced them all he was a successful published author who used a nom de plume.  The last had been Sarah, and she had been four years ago.

She held nothing to Hermione’s slim figure and curved hips.

He wanted to run his lips across her clavicle and hear her sigh.  Voldemort had dreamt of it all the night before, her eyes black with pleasure.

“I must conference with Lord Malfoy,” he finally stated.  “You should apprise the ladies Lestrange with these happenings.  I believe the blood test is only a formality given the photographic evidence.”

Lestrange, instead of answering, took his hand again and kissed the Resurrection Stone.

Voldemort swept from the room, remembering his way back to the floo.

He was familiar with Malfoy Manor.  There were always children about.  Lord Malfoy had his heir, Draco Malfoy, and two daughters, Lacerta and Iolanthe Malfoy.  Privately, he had also recently become aware that from a time he had been under the Imperius Curse, he had conceived a second son who currently lived as his grandparents’ heir, Octavian Prince.  He wanted to gain partial custody of the boy, not displacing him, but wishing to get to know his son.  Strangely enough, Narcissa, Lady Malfoy was willing to not only tolerate the young wizard but welcome him into her home.

Finding Lord Malfoy with his eldest daughter, he signaled that he needed to speak with his Minister.

“I trust everything at the Ministry is well, my lord?” Lucius asked, closing the doors to his study.

“I found Rabastan Lestrange’s trueborn daughter,” he stated, not mincing his words.  “His wife hid her with Muggles.”  He spat out the last word.  “Poor Mademoiselle Hermione has probably been afraid someone from the Ministry would find out she’s a Muggleborn and come and snap her wand.”

Lucius Malfoy paused.  “The same Hermione who breaks yearend records every term?”

“The very same.  She walked into The Wicked Stepmother this afternoon and proved herself a sixth-generation pureblood.  Mademoiselle Hermione has a black card, Lucius.  I’m the only other living wizard to possess one.  Unfortunately, her mother’s will states that Bellatrix cannot have custody of the girl.  You are very distantly related through marriage and I want that girl out of Sirius Black’s house as soon as I can have a blood test done.”

He didn’t even hesitate.  “My wife loves children and I’ll explain the situation so that Draco and the others understand that Mademoiselle Hermione is now family and is to be given every allowance for ignorance as well as issued hospitality on every front.  When should we expect her?”

“Saturday, I should think.  I’m letting it sink in that she’s a pureblood.  Now, if you’ll lend me a quill, I’ll write to her and then you can tell me of your children’s latest accomplishments.”—a subject that Lucius could speak of well into the night.

The quill was quickly provided and soon the message was dispatched, telling her he thought he had found her father and that they would call on Saturday and would she please wear pureblood black or whatever she had that was presentable.  He put down the quill and then picked it up again.  A second note was written along to Azkaban.  Voldemort decided it was best to get a vial of Rabastan Lestrange’s blood as quickly as possible.

A glass of blood brandy was handed to him and Voldemort settled in for an hour of hearing about the Malfoy children.


Hermione was sad to be out of her robes.  She was once again in jeans with a book in her hand when she came across Ron and Harry in their room playing exploding snap.

“Really,” she opined.  “It’s such a fine day and you can think of nothing better to do?”

“No back garden,” Ron complained.  “We can’t fly.”  He flipped a card.  It exploded.

There was a collective groan.

When the game was done, Hermione leaning against the wall and reading about the Takeover again as she still didn’t quite get all of the nuances, Harry looked at her.  “Was there someone here?  I didn’t know Sirius had a guest.”

“He didn’t,” she stated, not looking up.  “I did.”  She turned the page.

There was a pause.  “Mione,” Ron stated carefully.  “No one much talks to you at Hogwarts except for us.  Has Krum come back to England?”

“Not that I’m aware,” she answered truthfully.  “We’re not in contact.  I had what your books refer to as a gentleman caller.  We had tea.  It was quite pleasant and then he escorted me back here.  Sirius is aware.—I’m Mademoiselle Hermione now.”  She held up her left hand for emphasis.

Harry was instantly off his bed and grabbed her hand.  “Not even Dad has one of these.  Says they’re for the suppression of sexual freedom and, well, I can’t.  Ron?”

“Never fancied one,” he admitted.  “Couldn’t afford it anyway.  But Mione.  You’re first generation.”

She closed her book with a thump.  “Turns out I’m not.  I didn’t think I was.  I mean, I thought it was a possibility, but the Grangers are just sort of my adoptive parents.  Sorry I never told.  It seemed private, like.  I got my magic tested and it turns out I’m from one of the old lines.  Still don’t know who I am, though.”  She shrugged.  “Monsieur Mal is looking into it for me.”

“What a name,” Ron whistled.  “French.”

“Yes,” she spat back, “for ‘bad,’ I know.  We do holiday in France every year.  It’s a pet name of some kind.  He says he doesn’t want to hear me say his grandfather’s name—turns out he was named for him.  Said something silly about his name being ‘Malagant’ which is from a perversion of Arthurian Legend.  Still.  It’s nice to know that someone with half a brain wants me.”

“Yeah,” Harry agreed.  “Krum didn’t seem like the intellectual type.  You were the odd pairing.”

“It was flattering,” she explained away.  “I was never quite certain why he fancied me.  He never mentioned.”  Hermione reopened her book but Harry took it away again.  

“Hermione, this is serious.  You could be Sacred Twenty-Eight like Ron.”

She paused.  “Yes, I suppose I could be.”  She snatched her book back.  “Still, we may not know for years, if ever.  It’s a bit of a wild goose chase.  There’s no way to tell unless you have another wizard to test your blood against.”

The conversation seemed to be over after that until Sirius was referring to her as Mademoiselle Hermione at the table.  Ron actually sputtered, but Harry took it in stride.  As a half-blood he was Mr. Horatio Potter.  His mother insisted on ‘Harry’.  It was an issue that, fifteen years later, was still under intense discussion at the Potter household.

Hermione did not understand that marriage.

When the note came, she was surprised at it.  It sent her through a tizzy looking for anything black.  She’d seen the Slytherins wear black and she assumed it was some unspoken status symbol.  In the end, she had some black jeans and a black blouse.  That would have to do.

On Saturday, she dressed carefully and applied her magical make up, but left her hair frizzy, though pulled it away from her face.  As she often did, she went about barefoot with a cup of tea in her hand and a book in the other. 

“Thanks, mate,” Harry said just after lunch.  “For putting Ginny off again.”

“She wrote to me,” Hermione revealed.  “She wanted to come and stay, but I said that it was up to Monsieur Sirius, obviously, and that we were basically just doing work for our fifth year and she’d be bored.  I don’t know if she believed me, Harry, but I did try.”

“That’s all I can ask,” he admitted.  “I don’t know why that girl wants to be associated with a half-blood.  She’s Sacred Twenty-Eight.”

“The Weasleys don’t really pay attention.  Dad’s mad for everything Muggle,” Ron put in. 

It was an open secret that Arthur Weasley tinkered with Muggle items in his shed.  He claimed it was for work when anyone asked, but Hermione doubted anyone seriously believed the man.  He had managed to marry a Prewett, although an untitled one.

Kreacher appeared.  “Monsieur Mal Gaunt and Monsieur Rodolphus Lestrange.”

Harry visibly started at the second name, and Hermione didn’t know why.

Instead, Hermione quickly shoved her book aside and put down her tea.  She was suddenly glad she had painted her toenails earlier that week.  Ron and Harry glanced at her before turning to the door.  They were both dressed like Muggles.

Gaunt was shown in with a tall man with square shoulders, straight dark hair, and her eyes.  “Monsieur Mal,” she greeted, coming forward, “may I introduce my school friends, Monsieur Ronald Weasley and Mr. Horatio Potter?  We were just discussing Hogwarts acquaintances.”

Gaunt didn’t even look at them, but instead took her hand and raised it to just beneath his lips.  He then indicated the other wizard who was staring at her openly.  “Monsieur Rodolphus Lestrange, the older brother of the man in question, Monsieur Rabastan Lestrange.”

Harry started again and Hermione looked at him strangely before turning back to Gaunt, who specifically did not notice.

Monsieur Rodolphus, Mademoiselle Hermione.  I’m sure you recognize her from your brother’s wedding photograph.”

Mademoiselle Hermione,” he stated, taking her hand in between both of his larger ones.  “It’s amazing.  You have Rabastan’s coloring but look so much like Helene.  You’re quite the beautiful young woman.”

“Thank you.  I don’t know what Houses they were in but I’m in Gryffindor myself along with Ron and Harry.”  Hermione looked about the Tapestry Room where they were, cards strewn about.  “We can pick up a little and call for tea?  Kreacher doesn’t much care for any of us, but Walburga, Lady Black’s portrait liked Monsieur Mal, so perhaps her house elf will as well.”

“We thought we’d take you immediately to Gringotts, Belle,” Gaunt told her, Monsieur Rodolphus starting at the pet name.  “I’m certain Monsieur Rodolphus wants you removed from this establishment as soon as possible.”

“This establishment?  Not to your establishment?  You are my uncle, I thought?”  She looked between them in confusion.

“There’s some trouble about your mother’s will,” Monsieur Rodolphus explained carefully.  “We have to go to court or see if we can have your father contest it although he’s in prison.”

Harry coughed behind his hand and Hermione turned her head toward him slightly although she continued to look toward her uncle.

“You’ll be staying with my wife’s sister, Lady Malfoy.”

“No,” this was Ron.  “She’s not staying with the Malfoys.  I don’t care if she suddenly is a proper pureblood.  This is ridiculous.  Draco Malfoy is a ponce that likes to start duels with me and Harry.  Never could figure out why he never included Mione, but he’s a right prat.”

“My nephew is prepared to offer his cousin every hospitality,” Monsieur Rodophus explained carefully.  “A gentleman, also, never duels a lady without just cause.”

“Oh,” she looked between the men.  “That explains that.  Well, then.  Let me go find some sandals.  I can wear sandals, can’t I?”

“It depends,” Monsieur Rodolphus told her apologetically.  “You do not have a wizarding wardrobe yet, so I’m sure the wizarding public will be forgiving.”  He took her in obsessively.  “Wait until you meet your aunt, my dear Hermione.  She’ll adore you.  My daughter, Rana, is quite looking forward to the privilege as well.”

She blinked at the rush of information and when he released her hand, she pushed her hair behind her ear although it was already back in a French braid, and exited the room.  When she was in her bedchamber, she put on her sandals quickly and then paused.  This was happening.  This was happening.  It was all so terribly surreal.  The Malfoys.  Wow. 

She took a deep breath, looked at the photograph of the Grangers, found her pocket book, which had her black card, and left again.

Hermione walked down the alley on Gaunt’s arm, eliciting stares from passersby.  He was in lightweight gray robes that looked rather well on him and she fingered the material between her fingers.  Gaunt looked down at her and offered her a smile and she tried to give one back, but she was rather nervous. 

They must have had an appointment because they were whisked off to a private office and Hermione’s bare arm was placed against Monsieur Rodolphus’s as they stared into each other’s eyes, assessing one another.  Gaunt watched them with a cool and critical eye.  A long slash was placed horizontally across their arms and their blood was merged until there was a dull blue light.

“A close familial connection,” Gaunt stated.  “Now.”

A second slash was made on her arm and a vial was poured out and blood was smoothed onto it.  Hermione briefly wondered about HIV but thought wizards were perhaps immune to it.  Then she took a deep breath and waited while a gold smoke rose from her arm and everyone smiled.

“It appears my brother is your father,” Uncle Rodolphus stated.  “Welcome to the family.”

Barely having time to process, Hermione found herself in Rodolphus’s arms—her uncle’s arms—as he held her close to him.  “You must not spend the night at Grimmauld Place,” he insisted.  “The Malfoys will be so happy to see you.  Lady Malfoy has been preparing your room, extra bookshelves as we heard you liked to read.  It’s in the family wing, of course.”

“Of course,” she repeated.  Hermione glanced down at her ring and felt her uncle’s gaze follow hers.  “I really am a pureblood.  An actual pureblood, not some Muggleborn who accidentally snuck through the system.”

“Yes, Mademoiselle Hermione,” Gaunt stated, no longer remaining silent.  “You are a pureblood of the finest order.”  It seemed like some sort of personal victory to him.  “Let’s get you home.”

The official order of her reclaiming was written out, so there could be no doubt as to who she was, and she went back to Grimmauld Place.  It was as if she were in a dream as she packed away her trunk and her books, leaving the house books aside for Kreacher to come pick up.  Harry tried to talk to her, but she gave him a half smile.  “I’ll write,” she promised.  Hermione wasn’t certain if she said anything else.  Was there anything else to say?

Sirius was waiting by the floo in his house robes and said, “I give up custody of you, Mademoiselle Hermione Lestrange, to your uncle.”  It was like he was pulling the words from his teeth, but he did manage to say them.

“Thank you for everything,” she stated, “and do thank Kreacher for me.”

She looked at all the men around her and breathed in, before being led to the floo and her new home.

Where Grimmauld Place was dark, Malfoy Manor was bright.  The receiving room was made of white marble and the entire Malfoy family was waiting for her.  She, of course, recognized Lord Malfoy from around Hogwarts and his wife from the Quidditch World Cup.  Heir Draco was in her year but the girls were strangers to her.

“Hermione,” Lord Malfoy greeted, coming up and taking her hand and lifting it up to just beneath his lips.  “Welcome to our home—to your home.  Please call me ‘Lucius’ here and when we’re in an informal setting.  At Hogwarts, of course, you must call me ‘Lord Malfoy’ but at other times, I am family.”

“Thank you,” she greeted.

“My wife, Narcissa,” he introduced.  “Do not be afraid to ask our names.  You know Draco, my son and heir to my title.  Then, of course, we have Lacerta and Iolanthe.  Lacerta is going into her third year and Iolanthe has yet to start.”

“Oh,” she stated.  “What House are you in, Lacerta, and where do you hope to go, Iolanthe?”

“Slytherin,” they chimed as if on cue.

“I’m afraid I’m in Gryffindor,” she confessed.

“Your mother was in Hufflepuff,” Narcissa told her, reaching over and wrapping a hand around her waist and leading her forward.  “Don’t worry about your trunk, Dobby will see to it.—Your father was homeschooled.  You come by not being in Slytherin honestly.”

“I did not know that,” she stated.  “I’ve never heard of someone not in Slytherin ending up in Azkaban,” she murmured a little sadly.  “Then again, I’ve never really heard of anyone in Azkaban before, so I suppose there’s a first for everything.”

“Hush.  If it could be put to rights, it would.”  She turned with Hermione to everyone who was following, including Uncle Rodolphus and Monsieur Mal.  “Hermione is well looked after.  Let the poor girl get settled in.  We’ll have a dinner later this week.”

Rodolphus came and cupped her face.  “Remember that you are a Lestrange, child.  I know that means little to you, but we are a proud and ancient family.”  He kissed her on the forehead; then he was gone.

Monsieur Mal came up next.  “A moment, Lady Malfoy.”  He took Hermione’s left hand and intertwined their fingers.  “I’ll be back to ride with you.  You are where you should be, among your people.  Darling Belle.”

“I have a wizarding name,” she reminded him.

“We did not know that when we met,” he reminded her.  “You are my polestar and I await when you shine once again in my sky.”  He began to move away, their hands still entwined, and then their fingers slipped away from one another and he was gone in the floo.

“Mater,” Iolanthe asked quite innocently.  “Why is the Dark Lord acting like a knight in one of my stories?  Is Hermione a fair maiden whose love he must win?”

“Dark Lord?” Hermione asked in shock.  “He’s a Minister at the Ministry, not the Dark Lord.  His name is Mal Gaunt.”

“Hermione,” Lucius carefully explained, “the man just making love to you was, in fact, the Dark Lord.  Rodolphus told me the Dark Lord means to marry you.”

“He does,” she stated, still in shock, “but he can’t be—he’s too young.”  She paused.  “It all fits.  No wonder he made this happen so quickly—and the Lestranges and Malfoys were some of his biggest supporters.  It’s perfect that I’m a Lestrange and Sacred Twenty-Eight.  Oh my God.”

“By the gods,” Narcissa gently corrected.  “We’re pantheists, dear one.”  Her hand was still around Hermione’s waist and she began to lead her out of the room toward a large room with a marble staircase at the far end.  “I didn’t realize you were ignorant about your suitor’s identity.”

“He never said.  I was taken to him as soon as they realized I had black magic at The Wicked Stepmother.  All he’d tell me is he’s a Gaunt.”

Narcissa hugged her at the waist.  “I am sorry, my dear.  However, he is the Dark Lord and a regular visitor.  Lucius is one of his top Ministers.”

“I see.”

They had gone up two flights of stairs and were now going down a wing with several landscapes that various portraits were rushing through.  It seemed they were curious about Hermione. 

A door was opened for her.  “You’re next to Iolanthe,” Narcissa told her.  “We put your name on the door in case you got lost.  Draco knows you best so we brought in some books we thought you might like—“  But Hermione wasn’t listening.  She was luxuriating in all of the books that were covering the shelves.  She let her fingers run across the titles, titles that she knew were only in the Restricted Section, and smiled at Narcissa.

“This is wonderful.”

“I’ll let you unpack then.  No need to change for dinner.  We haven’t gone shopping yet.  Your trunk is in the other room.”

Hermione turned around and noticed she was in a sitting room.  She opened a door and saw a full bath and then looked for another door, which she eventually found.

Narcissa seemed to watch all of this with amusement.

When she was eventually left alone, Hermione unpacked her own small collection of books and put them on a small bookshelf by her bed and unpacked her Muggle clothes in the walk in closet along with her one pair of robes and Hogwarts uniform.  It was rather a poor showing. 

Hermione was startled to come out of her bedroom to see Draco Malfoy waiting for her in an armchair.  “Did you really not know he was the Dark Lord?” he asked.

“Why should I talk to you?  You probably hate everything I stand for.”

“Look,” he stated.  “I think Aunt Bellatrix is a bit mad, but I’m fond of Uncle Rodolphus and you’re his niece.  Rana is my only cousin and now I have you.”

“We’re not related,” she reminded him.

“Might as well be,” he stated.  “The Malfoys and Lestranges are united through marriage through the Black sisters.  That includes you although you don’t have a drop of Black blood in you.  Now, I’d rather you not hang out with Weasel or scar head—How did he get that scar?”

“I think his parents were arguing,” she shared, sitting down.  “That’s all they seem to know how to do.  She’s one of them and hates it or she hates the fact she married a pureblood.  I don’t know.  I’ve never bothered figuring it out.”

He shrugged.  “She stole magic.  She’s mentally unbalanced to begin with.  Anyway, we’re practically blood.  You’re to be my third sister until Uncle Rodolphus can claim you.  Iolanthe is a child and Lacy’s main hobby is trying to decide who her husband should be.  I’m dying for intelligent conversation.—So, Dark Lord.”

“No, I didn’t know.  They don’t tell us Muggleborns what the Dark Lord looks like or sounds like.  You can’t get The Daily Prophet without two recommendations from purebloods of impeccable standing so I didn’t know what he looked like from photographs in the paper.”

He leaned forward.  “You poor thing.  We get two copies here so you need not worry and Father and Uncle Rodolphus will put up for you so you can get a copy at Hogwarts if you want it.  You don’t need to worry about that sort of thing anymore.  Your card from The Wicked Stepmother would get it for you anyway.  It’s basically a membership card.”

“I didn’t know.  I should have.  It got me my vined ring.”

He held up his hand to show scaled diamonds.  Hermione should have known.

She reached out her own hand to show hers off and he nodded in approval.

“Mother probably said not to change for dinner, but your clothes are atrocious.  Lacy—Lacerta—said we can try to get you into some of her pureblood black.  Her robes are all tailored, I’m afraid, and I’ll put up your hair in the pureblood styles.  Come on.”  He held out his hand.  “You’re my sister now, goosey.”

“You’re not going to hex me while I sleep?” she checked.

“Hardly,” he drawled.  “I’ll sneak out your window to avoid Mater but that’s about it.”

Carefully she took his hand and he dragged her out of her suite to one just across the way that was covered in glossy pictures of hairstyles and young wizards.  “Boys,” he whispered before he entered the inner sanctum.  There were several pureblood black outfits laid out, all loose, with Lacerta looking over them.  “Good.  You brought our sister-cousin,” she stated in a slightly high but melodic voice.  “I was thinking this blouse.”  It had short sleeves but was loose with pleats and shear and—you are wearing a black corset, aren’t you?”

“Muggles don’t wear corsets,” she apologized.  “We wear bras.”

Before she knew it, Draco had untucked her shirt and was pulling it over her head to reveal her plain black bra.  He and Lacerta were staring at it.

“How strange,” Lacerta murmured, reaching out to touch it but letting her fingers hover two inches away.  “This will be wonderfully provocative.  Put on the shirt.”  It was a little tight at the bust but flowed over her stomach wonderfully.  The tights fortunately stretched and Lacerta had a flouncy skirt with a silk waistband that one tied.  “Perfect for resizing during one’s time,” she shared.  It was also perfect for a slightly larger Hermione and her more womanly hips. 

She slipped back on her sandals, despite the tights and looked at herself in the mirror.  “I nearly look like one of you lot,” she stated in shock.

“You are one of us lot,” Draco stated, setting her down at a vanity and undoing her braid to reveal her messy, bushy hair.  “Lacy, do you have one of those brushes I hear witches go on about?  The ones that sing?  Then I’ll let you have at her hair.”

Lacerta carefully opened up a drawer that just had a wooden hairbrush in it with a twisted handle and Draco brushed her hair for her.  Everywhere the hairbrush touched, her hair formed into smooth ringlets.  “There are different kinds of these, of course.  Mother will see to it.  Just tell her about your hair.  Lacy, what do you say to a simple bow to show off the ringlets so Mother will know what we did?”

“It will be terribly daring.”

“The—bra, was it?—is terribly daring.”

Lacerta sighed.  “True.”

In the end a black ribbon was picked up and placed at the crown of her head and sung there by magic before being brought to the base of her head and tied there to restrain her ringlets.  Lacerta declared her finished and Draco gave her the once over before deciding she would “do.”

It seemed there was some shuffling at the dinner table.  There were notecards for where everyone should sit, and Hermione was on the left hand of Lucius, across from Draco, Iolanthe by her side.  “I’m glad to see you’ve cleaned up,” Lucius said, “though some of your clothes are unorthodox.  Narcissa and your Aunt Bellatrix are taking you shopping tomorrow.  Perhaps there is a way to sing your hair without showing it off quite so prevalently.”

“How is it usually?”

“It’s a fright,” Draco said as he served himself some fish.  “It’s all bushy and flies everywhere.  This is a vast improvement.  And they don’t have corsets in the Muggle world.  How uncivilized.”

“We haven’t had them since the First World War.”

They turned to her, clearly confused.  “The War to End all Wars?” she tried.  “Never mind.”

“How peculiar,” Iolanthe suggested.  “The World, getting in a war.  Have there been others?”

“Just the one, at the time of Grindelwald.  They coincided.”  She put some peas on her plate.  Hermione had no idea wizards were this ignorant of world history.

The next morning, Narcissa loaned her a corset and booties and her hair was sung out but then brushed out meticulously and put in a twist.  It took over half an hour.  Hermione’s vanity was nearly bare except for her make up, which Narcissa tsked at, saying it was all terribly commercial but would do for one day, before escorting her down to a woman who looked nothing like her.

Bellatrix Lestrange was a tall woman with thick, shining black hair.  Her lips were thin but she had heavy lids and thick eyelashes.  She had the arrogant bearing similar to Sirius Black, a strong jaw, and was uncommonly good-looking.  It wasn’t hard to believe her uncle had married this woman.

“There you are, poppet,” she stated with true affection as she came to embrace Hermione.  “I’ve lit a candle on your birthday once a year since you went missing, hoping you’d find your way home.”

“Thank you,” she whispered.  “I understand you have a step-daughter.  I have another cousin?”

“Rana,” she stated a little distantly, “yes.  I didn’t want to overwhelm you, dear, so it’s just us Black sisters today.”

And it was a wave of shopping.  Nothing was too good for Hermione Lestrange according to her Aunt Bellatrix.  She had her riding robes, her robes for school, her pureblood black, and a singing song brush that straightened her hair into gentle waves.  Narcissa also insisted on a beauty line and Bellatrix was horrified to hear what Hermione had been wearing.  All of this was placed in a new trunk with her initials HRL: Hermione Rhoda Lestrange.  There was even a separate book compartment so her books wouldn’t get lost in the hullabaloo. 

Lacerta insisted on having a bonfire that night of all of her old things “as you won’t be needing that Muggle garbage anymore.”  The children danced around it, praising the old gods, and Hermione went to sleep, happy and healthy, wondering what the next day would bring.

The proposed Abraxan ride came before the family dinner. 

“I heard a rumor,” she told Gaunt, “that you might be higher in society than you led me to believe.”

“Indeed?” he asked, taking her hand and rubbing his thumb over her vined ring.  “How high?”

“Quite,” she answered.  “Why don’t you say it so I don’t seem like an idiot or the heel of a practical joke?”

“I wouldn’t want you to be that, Belle.  No one knows my name, not even you, because I made England forget it in the Takeover.”  His blue eyes looked at her searchingly and then she nodded once.

“You are the Dark Lord,” she checked, “although you seem so young.”

“I am the Dark Lord.”  He stood there, holding her hand, the world melting away from them.  Her pale brown eyes pooled into black and his breath hitched.  He waited for her sentence, but even her derision would not be a complete waste.  Gaunt had won her respect once.  He would win it again.

She looked at him.  “If I hadn’t come in with a black card,” she stated carefully, “you could have had me obliviated.”  The thought sent a shiver down her back, which she hated.  She didn’t like being beholden to any man, let alone the Dark Lord.

“The only one being obliviated is the one who saw you lived with Muggles and did not report it,” he stated back icily.  “This will not go back unanswered.”

“It’s a comedy of errors,” she told him seriously, “and I’m still calling you ‘Malagant’ as you gave me that name.  I know how important that is in the magical world.  Names have power.  ‘Belle’ has power although you conjured it up for me.”

“I am ‘Mal’ to you,” he promised.  “We’ve made our hosts uncomfortable.  May I say that either you or one of the ladies of your House has impeccable style?”

Aunt Bellatrix had insisted she buy the riding habit.  It was silver and blue, her arms covered in a thin magical cotton while outersleeves billowed around them.  The skirt was pure blue with silver triangular incursions, making her appear as if she were wearing armor. 

“I’ll pass along your appreciation,” she stated before turning back to faces she partially recognized.  Mademoiselle Rana Lestrange, with brown curling hair and gray eyes, the daughter of Rodolphus Lestrange’s first wife it was said, and Heir Draco Malfoy.  “We know each other from Hogwarts,” she told Gaunt.

“I suspected as much,” he told her.  “They thought they’d come riding with us, Belle.”

She looked over at them.  “Draco and I have become chums, but I was below Mademoiselle Rana’s notice not a week ago.”

“Father explained,” Mademoiselle Rana put in, a little insincerely.  “I am so terribly sorry for the undue pain you were put through during your life.” 

Undue pain.  Yes.  That was a way of putting it through a pureblood perspective.  Hermione didn’t like it at all, but she would allow it.

“He also explained your need for more elevated associates.”  Heir Draco’s eyes glittered silver.  “However, you know that, Hermione.”

She actually stared at him.  “I—“ Hermione wasn’t certain what to say to that.  “Ron is Sacred Twenty-Eight.”

“The Weasleys are a disgrace,” he answered, cool and calm.  “You’re the ward of Lord Malfoy now.”

Hermione honestly didn’t know what to say to that.  It all seemed so odd.  She glanced at the Dark Lord but he was honestly staring back at her, as if he approved.  Shaking her head at him, she murmured, “You’ll regret it if you change me.”

“We all change as time passes.  Krum, I’m sure, changed you into the woman I so admire.  That is decidedly the point, Mademoiselle Hermione.  We all change and move on.  You are a different person than the girl I met.  From the moment you stepped into my office, you became another than the Muggleborn Hermione Granger.  Now you are a lady of distinction.”

She looked back over at the two waiting cousins.  “This is all terribly new to me.”

“Of course,” Heir Draco said.  “Shall we ride?”

A magnificent winged horse was led out of the stable with a double saddle and Hermione looked at the Dark Lord questioningly.

“It wouldn’t do to set you on a winged creature alone the first time,” he smirked, lifting her into the back saddle sideways, before launching himself in front of her.  “Hold tight to me.”

“Skirting propriety without my father here?” she asked lowly.

“I’m perfectly within my rights,” he stated as he turned his head.  “Whatever do you take me for?  Lord Voldemort?”

She laughed a little at this as they took to the skies, great giant beasts flapping their powerful flanks beneath them.


“He’s besotted.”  Rana always was one to state the obvious.  As she came into the private living room, where her stepmother and aunt Madam Bellatrix Lestrange was having tea with her aunt and uncle, Lord and Lady Malfoy, she looked about her with her cool gray eyes.  “I never thought I’d see it.”

“Rana,” Draco protested.  “It’s not for us to say.”  He’d never paid attention to the Gryffindor with the book in her hands, but now he found her rather fun to be around and would defend his sister-cousin.

“A double saddle.  All those tricks that made her cling to him.  He wouldn’t let go of her hand.  Draco, tell me you noticed he was stroking her vined ring.”

“I had noticed that, yes.  All the more reason to befriend her even though we thought she was only first generation that Krum had deigned to notice last year.”  He took off his riding gloves and set them on the mantle.  “She’s useful politically anyway.  Everyone knows your family is favored.  Everyone knows that the Dark Lord did everything in his power to release your Uncle Rabastan from Azkaban and will look favorably—even more favorably now—on anyone connected to him in recompense.”

“We need the Dark Lord to look favorably on us,” Lucius Malfoy stated.  “There’s about to be a custody battle for Heir Octavian Prince.”

Draco looked up in surprise.  Custody battles were unheard of in the wizarding world.  Wizards did not have affairs because it polluted the family bloodlines.  For his father to admit such a thing, especially in front of his mother, was absolutely heinous.

Bellatrix set down her spoon.  “Is she refined on a horse?  Around him?”

“She always had her head too stuck in a book to be refined,” Rana sneered.  “She put up a good showing though.  Excellent riding costume.  I would have been quite jealous if mine hadn’t been new this season.”  Hers was a lush green that buttoned halfway down her calves with a matching riding cap.  It looked stunning with her wild brown hair.  “They act like lovers.”

“They are lovers,” Rodolphus put in, entering the room.  “The Dark Lord as good as told me himself.  She is to be his Dark Lady.  Don’t forget that, darling.  You’re dealing with the most powerful woman in wizerdom even if she is just your cousin.”

“Get close to her,” Narcissa finally spoke.  “Magic knows we need more political advancement, but it never hurts when the Dark Lord is involved.”

“She doesn’t want to.”  Rana was looking out the window.  “The Dark Lord was trying to convince her, but she seems to like her little friends just fine.”

“You’re just going to have to convince her, then.  The poor crup is probably confused.  Disabuse her.  This opportunity cannot go to a Weasley and a first-generation nobody,” Lucius spat.  “Think, Draco, what it will do for the girls’ marriage prospects.”

Of course, it would increase Lacerta and Iolanthe’s desirability.  To not only be daughters to one of the Four Lords but to be intimate with the Ruler of Great Britain, intimate with his bride, could do nothing but help them.  “She’s already close to Lacerta and who cannot help but love Iolanthe?” he asked.  “There’s nothing to worry about there.  It’s Rana and her acerbic temper.”

“Draco!” she spat.

He merely poured himself some tea as if he had proved his point.

Hermione came into the room, taking off her own riding gloves, looking about.  “There you all are.  You gave me leave to say my farewells to the Dark Lord and you disappeared on me!  Uncle Rodolphus, Lucius, he wants to speak to you soon.  Something about ‘Dark Hunting,’ whatever that is.”

The adults exchanged glances.

Aunt Bellatrix put her teacup down.  “Have you written to your father yet, poppet?”

“Yes, I sent it by special delivery yesterday.  It felt a little odd, introducing myself to a man I’ve never met who is my father.  What have the Grangers been told?”

“That whatever understanding they had with a Helene Lestrange is at an end and you are being looked after by your extended family,” Lucius told her succinctly.  “Your father and I explained it all quite well and then removed all evidence of you from the house, including all your Muggle books.  We couldn’t figure out what you’d like to keep since none of them seem to have been read in quite some time or were meant for a girl much younger than yourself.”

“Oh,” she stated.  “I only want the prizes and the Shakespeare.  And the Jane Austen.”

“That should be easy enough to weed out,” Uncle Rodolphus told her.  “Spells.”

Rana then put her foot in it.  “What do you have that other women don’t?  The Dark Lord has never been linked to another woman and yet here he is—with you—What makes you so special?”

“That certainly does not invite my confidence,” she stated.  “I didn’t know he was the Dark Lord until Iolanthe told me.  I thought he was a Minister and a rather young one.”  She took a seat and accepted a cup of tea from Draco, who knew the entire story.


Voldemort’s expensive blue robes swished on the stone floor of Azkaban.  He never liked to go to the wizarding prison.  It reminded him how easily he could have ended up there.  So easily.  If the Takeover hadn’t been at all successful, then this might have been his existence—these cold cells with only straw for beds, dementors roaming the hallways and making him relive the terrors of his childhood. 

Now he had his Belle, his beautiful, wonderful Hermione Lestrange who he was taking Dark Hunting just later this week.

He stopped by a particular cell where he saw his follower, Rabastan Lestrange, who had a rumpled letter curled in his hand.  “I see that Hermione wrote to you,” he opened.

A thin hand, strangely not as thin as Voldemort would have thought given how many years he had been in Azkaban, unfurled and pale brown eyes looked up at him.  “My daughter says you did her a great service, my lord.”

“I would do nearly anything for my future bride,” he answered.  “Although not strictly necessary as you have never met your daughter and are not her guardian, I came to gain your consent.”

Rabastan looked at him.  “I have not seen you together,” was his answer.

“No,” he agreed, “and you probably never shall.  Still, I seek your consent.”

Tangled hair was pushed behind an ear and Rabastan looked up at him.  “You will be kind and you will be true.”

“I will be kind and I have never known myself not to be true,” he responded.

Rabastan chewed his nails.  “Of course you have had other lovers.  How stupid of me.  I thought Hermione would have been the first.”

“She is the first official one,” Voldemort promised.  “She is set above all others.  Now, Rabastan.  Hermione.  I raised her from obscurity so that I might wed her and to see an injustice righted, naturally.  Do not disappoint me.”

“You are not disappointed.”  Rabastan looked at him for a long moment.  “I want her well looked after and not abandoned when she grows too old.”

“She will remain young like me,” Voldemort promised.  “I am most conscientious.”

“Obsessive,” Rabastan stated instead.  “But, of course, Hermione hasn’t learned that yet.  Tell me, are you a jealous lover?  Will you accuse her of sleeping with all her friends, then all your cronies?  My poor daughter.”

“She wears a vined ring, you fool,” he seethed. “Do you think I would accept anything less from the woman I marry?”  That had always been so interesting to explain to his Muggle lovers.  What an interesting ring, Tom, what does it mean?—Nothing, just a family heirloom.  They never quite believed him.  He’d caught Cordelia in the fifties trying to take it off his hand while he was sleeping.  The magic had woken him up.

“A jealous lover, then, just as I thought.”  He played with the letter between his dirty fingers, grubbing it up.  “You’ll always wonder despite that ring.”

And he would.  But strangely a part of him believed Hermione.  He believed her innocent words about Krum, an international Sports Superstar who was nothing compared to the ministry worker she believed was helping her.

In that moment, he knew.  He loved that girl.

Voldemort loved Hermione Lestrange, this sorry excuse for a man’s daughter.  He barely knew the girl, but he loved her bright eyes and her half-smile that was so self-deprecating that he doubted the girl even knew.  He loved the way she walked as if she deserved to take every stride, as if she had had to fight for the privilege.  Voldemort would gladly give it to her, but she had already taken it for herself—as he had taken it for himself all those decades ago.

He looked one last time at Rabastan, took a photograph out of his robe pocket, and handed it to him.  “I call her ‘Belle’ as we didn’t know her wizarding name when we met,” he told her.  “I thought she was beautiful.”

Rabastan reached out a hand, tremorless, and took the picture of Hermione looking up from her hand and smiling.  “How like us she looks.”

“Yes,” Voldemort answered and then he was gone.

Unfinished As of 2018/2019…

Published by excentrykemuse

Fanfiction artist and self critic.

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