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V by circinusphoenix
Chapter 1: The Curfew
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Remember, remember the fifth of November
The gunpowder, treason and plot.
I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot . . .
- CHAPTER ONE -
She left the office at five in the evening. Everyone had to leave the office at five. The nightly curfew took effect at seven, so time was needed to get home. It was part of living in Britain during these times. No one wanted to be caught outside after curfew, as those who did tended to never come back.
She pulled her hair back into a quickly made bun, and began walking down the stairs towards her car. She always thought this time, and the start of day at the office, looked like those pictures she saw in the history books of slaves going to work in a factory. Everyone moved at the same pace, talking to each other a little, but not a lot. They would all be moving down the left side of the dull grey stairwell, and when they reached their respective car park, they would break off, and find their car in their designated spot.
As she reached her tiny blue car in the dimly lit car park, she took her keys out of her purse, and paused as she went to unlock the door, her hand hovering just in front of the lock.
This is how I used to hold my wand she thought to herself, hesitating on the brink of opening her car door. She stared at her hand as her memories began to filter up, and those painful days started to materialize in her mind.
‘See you on Monday ‘Mione!’ someone called. She shook her head and turned to see her friend Alison smiling at her from her car.
‘Yeah, I’ll see you Monday Aly’ Hermione replied tiredly. Alison hesitated for a moment, waved, and drove off home for the night. She lived outside London near Woolwich, so she always left right away to make sure she got home before curfew. She heard stories of the Markers patrolling the roads, and arresting people found on them after seven.
Hermione turned back to her car, opened the door, and sat down behind the wheel. She honestly hated the name “‘Mione.” She loved her full name, but after the fall of the government she knew it would be a problem. Her name was unique, which of course was something that added to her liking it, but it also made her easy to find. When the Muggle government was reformed, she changed her identification cards to read “Mary Granger,” however she always told her friends to call her ‘Mione. It was not the real thing, but it beat getting called a totally different name.
Putting the key into the starter, she turned it over, and her small car began rumbling quietly. She was still a bit new to driving, but over the past two years she became used to some things. The signals, or “flickers” as she called them, were really the only part she was still getting used to.
She gave a sigh, slowly backed out of her parking spot labeled P3-211, and began her way out at a comfortable pace. It was always a hassle exiting the office, because of all the security checks. They had to be done of course, “for the safety of the country,” but she could always tell they were looking for other things. A weapon or explosive device would make them upset, but a wand . . . oh, if they found a wand they would take you away forever.
Hermione found this out quite early, and had no choice but to hide her wand, and all her magical devices as quickly as possible. She remembered the day Seamus and a few other wizards and witches were trying to get out of Scotland after Hogwarts fell. Markers inspected everyone for magical objects, and Hermione was lucky to get past with a group of Muggles fleeing the fires that raged across the highlands. She shrunk all her items to fit in her shoes, and the Markers were too busy to check there.
Seamus, along with several other ex-Hogwarts students however were not as lucky. They found his family’s shamrock pendant around his neck, which turned different colours for different people. He showed it to Hermione a few days early, and smiled as it was green for him, and turned ruby red for her. It turned black with the Marker that checked it, and he immediately called for assistance. Seamus and the others were taken away at wand-point, and Hermione could only cry as they took hold of a portkey, and vanished never to be seen again.
It pained Hermione even thinking of those dark times. Seamus had helped her in a way she could not describe. After Ron’s death, and Harry's soon after, Seamus helped Hermione get out of Hogwarts before it crumbled to the ground, and told her they had to get out of Scotland. He saved her life, at least a dozen times, and she never had the chance to say thank you.
Moving forward to the guard station, Hermione wiped her eye of the excess water. If she met the guards with tears in her eyes, they would bring her to an interrogation chamber for sure. Dealings with the guards or Markers always had to be done without problems of any kind, except for the one guard she knew here at the car park.
‘I.D.’ the old guard asked as her tiny car pulled up to the guard post at one of the exits from the car park. The guard, a wispy grey haired man with a fairly round midsection, had a wonderfully kind smile--as well as an equally stern frown. He was checking one of the dozen or so camera monitors in the post, when he turned to take Hermione’s I.D., and his face lit up.
‘Oi ‘Mione! How was the day?’ he asked kindly. Hermione loved Gary, and always tried to take the second exit from the car park, so she could see him. She met him on her first day at the office, and he kindly informed her that she was the cutest girl he’d ever seen go through his station. He always joked about taking Hermione on a date, but she sadly had to remind him he was married, and had been for thirty-two years.
‘It was alright Gary, how were things out here?’
‘Oh you know, the usual. Had to run down a few hooligans, found some illegals here and there, you know’ he joked, passing her I.D. through the scanner.
‘That’s why they have a strapping man like yourself working here, and us pretty ladies indoors’ Hermione charmed. Her face appeared on the monitor with her information, and she frowned at the screen. She hated the picture they took of her. Garry nodded at the screen with a smile, and turned towards her again.
‘Yeah, well I’d rather be in there with all you pretty ladies. Well’ he said, turning back to the screen, ‘you’re not a terrorist, as usual. Girls like you couldn’t be terrorists anyways; too good lookin’ for that line ‘o work’ he chuckled, giving Hermione back her card.
‘Yes, well I’ll be sure to warn you when I step up to that line of work. See you on Monday!’ Hermione said as she started off.
‘Don’t forget you owe me a pint!’ he yelled as she pulled away.
‘I know, I know!’ she replied, beaming at the old man. He waved, and Hermione turned her car onto the street towards her apartment.
Since she moved to London, she always kept to laying low. She worked at the government’s publishing office near Maryleborne. All published articles, books, magazines; everything had to be checked by the government before being published to the public. Her job, which she shared with hundreds of other people, was the rather remedial one of cataloging the submissions.
Hermione did not mind it that much. Even though it was a tedious job, it allowed her a good income and no one asked her questions. It was nothing like her dream job, but that was a far cry away from happening now since it required her using magic.
Driving through the city towards the suburb, she sighed as she looked at the government ads placed everywhere. All in black with white writing, preaching togetherness for the greater good, and independence from the world.
Hermione at first did not understand why the Muggle government was reformed. Voldemort was always about destruction and ruling, yet he put in place a government that continued to hide the wizarding world from the general public. She figured out soon enough what Voldemort did though.
Once all of Britain was his, he came to realize that there were pluses to keeping the wizarding world hidden, and establishing a government. It allowed him to control both worlds, and mold the Muggle public to work for him without them knowing. He instituted his own Ministry, and it was in charge of finding new wizards, and training them. They would all become Markers, and those who defied him would be put in their place.
It gave Hermione goose bumps thinking about it all. Not even five years ago she would have been at Hogwarts, and the world would be how it was meant to be; no curfew, no terror, and no censors. She always wished she could do something to change it all back, but it seemed impossible to her. What could one lonely office clerk do?
Pulling up to her small building near Kentish Town she parked her car along the side of the street, and turned off the engine. It was a fairly dreary day, with overcast clouds covering the entire sky. Everything appeared to echo the dismal feeling of the world, looking grey and tired.
The buildings in her neighborhood were nicer than the government build flats in East London. She lived in an older part of the city that did not change in the reformation. Add space was very limited, so when she walked along the street or stared out her front window, she could forget the reformation and imagine it was like it was.
Getting out of her car, she picked up her purse, and entered her building. It was stone three storey building built in the 1950’s after World War Two. Hermione liked it because they built it like the other buildings around it, which were all nicely aged.
She loved old buildings. It always felt like she was basking in history when she would be in those types of buildings; like she was actually living in the time it reflected. Hogwarts did that for her too, though she would never experience that again.
Opening up the door to her flat on the second floor, she put her keys down on the counter, and felt a bushy tail rub up against her leg. Closing the door and locking it, she smiled and picked up her cat.
‘Oh Crookshanks, at least you’re still around’ she whispered to the stubby-nosed cat. He closed his eyes in contentment, and purred quietly as she pet his head. Putting him back on the floor, he slowly made his way to the window, and jumped onto the side table so he could look out at the passing cars.
Turning on a light, she began to look through her kitchen to see what to eat. She did not want to eat too much, because she was going out tonight to go see a friend anyways.
The day she found out Neville was still alive, she could not believe it. He was able to escape Hogwarts before it fell, and somehow ended up in Ireland. He waited until after the reformation to return to England and in the process—like Hermione—changed his name, though he just had to change his last name.
It was by complete coincidence that she found out. She was taking some time off, and went to Liverpool to visit some family. While there, she and her aunt were walking along the habourfront when she literally ran into him. He had just crossed the Irish Sea on a fishing trawler, and the difference in his appearance was overwhelming to Hermione.
Neville had, in that last battle, fought bravely, but paid dearly for it. He survived of course, but a long scar marked the side of his face, he walked with a limp, and his right arm never worked the same after the curse Bellatrix Lestrange enacted on it.
Hermione heard all about his flight, and how he was able to survive in Ireland. He ended up living in London too, and Hermione was pleased to hear he was not far from her own flat.
She was of course worried about the curfew, but planned on leaving before it took effect. Neville invited her to stay the night to not get in trouble, and she was happy for his hospitality. She had never been to his place, and she knew he would be a gentleman about it. Hermione liked Neville as a friend—a very close friend—but she was not in the mood for a partner. Too many deep emotional scars remained from years past, and she knew she was not ready for that step yet.
Making a light snack, she sat down on her comfortable brown couch, and turned on the television. Crookshanks glanced at Hermione from the table, his eyes bright from the light outside, and she pat the side of the couch next to her. He determinately dropped onto the carpet and trotted over; jumping up on the couch, and laying down next to her under her hand, so she could slowly pet him while watching the news.
‘Fifteen arrests were made today in Bristol after terrorists tried to destroy a building holding hundreds of unarmed civilians’ a plump newswoman told on the evening news. Hermione sighed, and took another bite of her small sandwich.
‘In other news, Chancellor Crepund met with the London Council to discuss the rising crime rate in East London. The Chancellor assured that the violence will soon decrease, and stressed that the public must be vigilant against illegal activity.’
Hermione put down her sandwich, and turned the television off. These days, all the news was about violence occurring. She was smart enough to know the stories they neglected specifics about were probably the ones they were told not to report on. Saying "violence will soon decrease" meant more arrests, and more Markers on the streets; both of which were not pleasant.
Getting up and placing her plate in the kitchen, Hermione went ahead and changed into something better. She did want to look nice for Neville. They talked a few times on the phone, but they could not really discuss normal things, since the phone lines were scanned by the government. Mentioning magic would be a grave mistake.
Changing into a nice, but proper skirt and blouse, she checked her watch, and began to hurry as it read 6:45pm. It was not a long walk to Neville’s, but fifteen minutes would be cutting it short. She knew the Markers walked around curfew time, just aching to find someone out late. A young woman like her would be quite the target, especially if they found she was a witch, or ex-witch.
Grabbing her coat she gave Crookshanks, who stayed on the couch and watched her run back and forth from her room to the loo getting ready, a gentle pat. He closed his eyes in contentment, and watched as she grabbed her bag of clothes and other items for the overnight, and left.
Walking out into the street, she sighed in frustration at her watch, which now read 6:55pm. There was no way she could make it to Neville’s before the curfew. She started off anyways, knowing he would worry if she did not show.
There were other concerns besides the Markers. Illegals and other delinquents roamed the night streets. Hermione kept a bottle of pepper spray just in case, although she wished she could carry her wand.
Walking along the street, the lamps cast their light onto the concrete. It was eerie walking this late at night now, since no one was outside. The clicks from her shoes hitting the pavement reverberated around the area, and everything else was deathly quiet.
Hearing a shuffle, Hermione turned around to see a hunched man walk across the street in the darkness. He was far enough away not to pose a concern, but Hermione increased her pace.
Turning back, she saw another man standing under a nearby lamp, looking down at her. Worry began to fester in Hermione’s mind, and looking around, she turned down a side street, in hopes of avoiding anyone.
Still walking at a fast pace, she turned to check if anyone was pursuing her, when she ran into what felt like the side of an elephant. Startled, she whipped her head around to see she had ran into a rather large and beefy man.
‘Oh, sorry Miss, are you alright?’ he asked kindly, checking her over. Looking at him, Hermione could see no reason for him to worry about walking after curfew. He was a very tall man, and had arms the size of tree trunks on him.
‘I’m alright, there were some men following me’ she explained, hoping to end this conversation and make it to Neville’s soon.
‘I see. And what has you out so late tonight?’ the man asked, his tone changing slightly. Hermione began feeling nervous over this fellow, and backed away slowly, still staying close so the distance was not too noticeable.
‘I’m going to visit my father, he is ill’ Hermione lied, glancing around to see the streets still as empty as ever. There was a dark corridor to their right that led into an alley, and the large man noticed her glance.
‘Ill father eh? What do you think about that Simon?’ the man asked, looking over Hermione’s shoulder.
‘Spoutin’ lies this one is Henry’ the man named Simon said in his grizzled voice. He was a shorter than Henry, but his eyes frightened Hermione. They were bright blue, and reminded her of the late Alastor Moody’s magical eye.
Simon approached closer, and Hermione turned to see Henry doing the same. ‘Perhaps we should figure out her real reason for being out here’ Henry responded. Hermione had enough, and pulled out her pepper spray from her purse, pointing at both Henry, and Simon—who had moved around to face Hermione.
‘Stay away from me, the both of you’ she demanded, Henry smiling at her.
‘Oh, you’ll be regretting that missy’ he informed, pulling out a black flipbook to show a picture of his face, and the green Dark Mark below it. Hermione’s eyes grew wide as she glanced at the skull and the snake.
‘How could you Mark me like that?’ she asked, her mind frantic about what she should do. Running was an idea, however if these men were Markers, they would just use magic on her. She began beating herself up inside for not bringing her wand with her.
‘Catching on now aren’t you? You’ll be com’n with us now missy’ Henry maintained darkly. Simon fidgeted, and moved a step forward.
‘Hmm, perhaps we can have a bit o’ fun with this one hey Henry? She’s quite pretty, even if she is a filthy Muggle?’ Simon expressed slyly, moving closer, and reaching out to her arm. The moment his dirty fingers touched her shoulder, Hermione acted before she knew what she was doing.
Spraying both faces of the Markers, Hermione turned and ran as fast as possible through the corridor, and into the dank alley. She could hear footsteps behind her, and suddenly she was struck in the back with what she knew was a spell, and hit the cobblestone ground hard.
‘Thinkin’ you could run away from us eh deary? You have no idea who you’re dealing with do yeh?’ Simon questioned, looking down at her as she rolled over on the wet ground.
‘You know Simon, I think we will have that fun before we bring her in’ Henry said smiling at Simon. Hermione began panicking as Simon bent down, and took hold of her shoulders.
‘No, please! Don’t do this!’ Hermione yelled at the two men, as Simon moved to his knees, and Hermione tried fighting back as hard as possible. She trashed at him, and tried pulling on his hair, but he grabbed her arm and forcefully pinned it to the ground. Henry was smiling at the struggle Hermione was giving, and she continued even harder to break free of Simon's strong grasp.
‘Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once*’ a deep and calm voice said from the shadows behind the men. Simon and Henry turned, and Hermione was able to glimpse the man who spoke, and caught her breath in the process.
A tall, cloaked man stood in the archway. Dressed entirely in black, complete with black hair and a black wide brimmed top, he was hard to notice until you saw his mask. It was a mask of Guy Fawkes, coloured ivory white. The darkness of the night and the dimness of the alley made the mask look as if it was floating in mid air.
‘Who are you?’ Henry demanded, turning around while Simon watched, but kept hold of Hermione’s shoulders.
‘Men at some time are masters of their fates**’ the voice said again in eerie calmness, the masked man staying in place.
Henry seemed to be getting annoyed by this man. ‘Look here, we’re Markers, so you’d best be-‘
Henry was stopped when a bright string of red light shot from the darkness near the masked man, and Henry was thrown across the alley, and slammed hard into the brick wall. He slid down the side, and was clearly knocked out, if not killed from the spell.
Simon instantly threw Hermione on the ground, stood up, and took out his own wand. ‘Crucio!’ he yelled, the spell jetting off at the masked stranger. The man seemed to vanish from the dark archway, and reappeared next to it. Another spell flew from the masked man’s general position, and Simon was lifted off the ground, and thrown back down the alley, hitting the cobblestone with a disturbing thud.
Quietness filled the alley, and Hermione kept low on the cold and wet ground as she saw the masked man come into the dim lamp light. He was not as tall as Henry was, but easily towered over Hermione. His mask surveyed the area, and stopped at Hermione, who cringed and inched farther away along the ground.
‘Do not worry, I mean you no harm. Are you alright?’ the mask stranger asked easily, looking at Hermione through the mask and remaining on the opposite side of the alley. He offered his leather gloved hand to help her up and she accepted, though she kept her distance.
‘I’m alright, thank you. Who are you?’ she asked as she stood up slowly, glancing at Henry and Simon, both of whom remained motionless.
‘Who? Who is but a title placed upon the what, and what I am is a man in a mask.’
‘I noticed’ Hermione quipped, rubbing her shoulders trying both to remain calm and warm. Never would she have imagined that tonight she would be talking to a man-a wizard-dressed in black and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, who saved her from two Markers after curfew.
‘Gathering from your initial reaction I figured as much. I am merely commenting on the paradox of asking a masked man who he is’ the masked stranger explained easily, sounding neither annoyed or conceited.
‘Alright’ Hermione answered, not knowing how to respond to such a statement. Just because this man got rid of the Markers, does not mean he is safe to trust. It is after curfew, and some who roam the streets of London at night can be dangerous, especially those who wear masks.
‘But a title must be needed, for everything has a title these days. So, with that in mind, let me paint you a picture of this persona to which I call myself’ he stated, Hermione again becoming nervous over this new fellow.
‘Both victim and villain I am called' he started, looking at Hermione with his head tilted. 'For neither can be verified nor versed. Veiled and vanished from the voracious and vindictive, I remain focused to vindicate the valiant and vanquish vice and venal vermin.
'Vanguarding the vigilant from the venom of the vain, I stand vivified that the valorous will once again venture forwards, and with a velocity and vanity unseen will vilify and vault the vile and restore the vestige of valour to the world’ he stated loudly, turning quickly and with his wand, marking out two intersecting lines of fire on the wall to make a V.
‘The verdict to be made is vengeance; a vendetta, vying vicissitude and not vicarious viciousness’ he said quietly, turning back towards Hermione who was still standing close the other wall.
‘So let me close by saying I it is my honour to meet you and you may call me V.’
So there it is, the first chapter. Now I know this follows the movie quite a bit, but trust me, the rest of it really won't be alike. It'll go off in a totally different way, and should be interesting to write and read.
Please review folks, and let me know what you think.
Oh, and lastly; this character V, to get you all thinking and wondering, is someone from the books. :)
Crepund - L. crepundia - plaything, a toy
* - From Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene III
** - From Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II
Chapter 2: The Warning
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The voice always haunted her dreams, if you would call them that. She called them nightmares, and most people would agree with her. It was terrible enough having to witness the scene first hand unable to do anything, but reliving it every time she slept was too much.
It started as it did that night; dark, cold, and filled with fear. Hermione had just narrowly escaped from several Death Eaters, and luckily with no injury. The masked followers of the Dark Lord were everywhere, and Hermione could hear the screams of panic overcoming the Ministry officials and the Order of the Phoenix in the distance. Only Harry could win the war for them now.
Being careful to not be seen, Hermione climbed over the rocks carefully, as she tried to reach the ledge where she knew Harry and Ron went to. The three of them had seen Voldemort up there, but when Death Eaters came around a line of trees, they got separated. Hermione held off the Death Eaters long enough so Ron and Harry escaped, but she was held back. She luckily lost them after a few moments in the undergrowth at the foot of the mountain.
Reaching up the steep incline, she lost her footing, and her right leg scraped painfully against the malicious rocks. She steadied herself carefully and tried to put pressure on her foot, but the pain was terrible.
Seeing a flash of green light from above, Hermione neglected her torn leg, and began climbing again. Her hands were scratched and bruised, but she was too focused at getting to the top to care. Ron and Harry were there, and she needed to be there to help them.
Getting closer, she could hear Harry yelling—in pain. Her heart hollowed as his yells filled the air, followed by a courageous shout from Ron, and a blast of red light. Harry’s pain filled cries stopped, and Hermione moved quicker knowing the situation was dire.
Reaching the edge—oblivious to the devastation that was gripping the Ministry and the Order behind her on the plains below—she pulled her upper body up over the ledge, and her eyes fell on her best friends.
Looking up, she could see Harry on the ground, clutching at his leg as blood covered it entirely. Ron was standing above him, and trying to protect him from the dark figure of Lord Voldemort, who was standing on the opposite side of the ledge. Hermione could never forget those red eyes looking at her friends through the darkness. The storm clouds above them shaded everything in the world murky, though the rain held off.
‘Crucio!’ Voldemort yelled out, and Ron had no choice but to dive away from the curse. He hit the rock hard, and before he could look up, Voldemort had already disarmed him of his wand.
‘Expelliarimus!’ Harry tried from his position on the ground, but Lord Voldemort proved too strong. He merely waved off the curse, and instead focused on Ron. With a sinister flick of his wand, Ron was levitated up off the rocks, and slowly over the side of the ledge. Hermione tried to move, to get over the edge and standing, but her leg was too badly injured, and the panic running through her mind caused her to painfully hesitate.
‘Say goodbye to your “friend” Potter’ Voldemort spoke, a dark sense of pride infecting his speech.
Hermione would never forget the look in Ron’s eyes at that moment. He knew what was to come, and he knew Harry and Hermione could not stop it. He looked towards Hermione, and the gaze lasted forever. She could see the hopelessness in his beautiful blue eyes, and the pain of knowing he was going to die. Harry was screaming and trying everything and anything to stop the Dark Lord, but it was too late.
With a sickening nudge of his wand, Voldemort let go of Ron, and the man Hermione loved so dearly fell out of sight over the cliffs edge. There was no scream of terror, no cry for help; only the sound of distant wizards and witches dueling below.
Hermione was motionless. She could not believe Ron was gone, so quickly, so quietly.
‘I’m going to kill you!’ Harry screamed at Lord Voldemort, as he tried to prop himself up off the rocks. Hermione’s eyes moved slowly over and gazed at Harry. She was still in utter disbelief, and looked to find Harry—in immense pain—standing on is broken leg, with his wand still pointed at Lord Voldemort.
‘AVADA KEDAVRA!’ Harry screamed, as the green light spewed from his wand. Voldemort cast the same spell, and the wands connected like they had many times that day.
Hermione stared at her hand in the bright glow of light from the wand connection, and looked at her own wand. She could not save Ron, but Harry was still alive, in front of her now. She leaned over on her chest, and raised her wand.
‘CRUCIO!’ she yelled out at Voldemort. His attention was shifted instantly at the new voice, and he was caught unprepared. He fell over, and the connection stopped, and Harry took advantage of the time.
‘AVADA KED-‘ he started, but got no further. A massive black snake came out from behind a rock near his good leg, and snapped its jaws around it. Harry screamed in pain as the snake clamped down on his leg, and he fell to the ground—his wand dropping out of his hand. Hermione was so shocked by the violence of it all, unable to help, she did not see Lord Voldemort get back up, and crackling evilly at Harry’s terrible pain, and Hermione’s fearful expression.
With another sickly flick of his wand, Hermione was thrown off the ledge, and fell down onto the rocks below.
She could feel the wind around her, and the sound of it as it roared past her ears. It lasted on a second or two, and was silenced by a disgusting set of cracks from her bones breaking on the rocks. She could feel her bones screaming in pain, but her attention was still up above where her mind remained.
In the closing moments, she could still hear Harry screaming in pain, and her eyes let out their first tears of the day. Her eyes stinged as she forced them open again, and glanced upwards at the mountainside.
Out of focus, and through her tears, she saw the last flash of green light from the ledge above reflect around the edges, and she closed her eyes tightly, hiccupping a breath.
Lord Voldemort had won the war.
‘Hermione?’ someone called, as Hermione felt a nudge on her shoulder. ‘Hermione, wake up!’
Opening her eyes, she sat straight up and scanned the area quickly. She was in a house, filled with warm yellow light from the sun that shone through the windows. The walls were decked in canary yellow wallpaper with nice little white patterns, and several paintings of scenic spots in England and Scotland were hung about.
Looking down at herself, she quickly checked her leg and found it was alright. She could feel the sweat on her legs and the rest of her body. She was sitting on an old—but comfortable—brown couch, with an equally old scarlet blanket on her.
Feeling a hand being placed on her forearm, she jumped as she remembered back to the nightmare, and the day she was found on the side of the mountain.
‘Are you alright Hermione?’ the man asked, looking worried at her. Hermione took in a deep breath, and placed a hand on top of his—which was scared in several places.
‘I’m alright Neville, thank you. It was . . . just a bad dream’ she explained, Neville looking down and nodding. He moved over slowly, and Hermione moved her legs so he could sit at the end of the couch.
‘I know what you mean, I have them all the time too. Will you be alright?’ he asked kindly.
Hermione smiled at him warmly and nodded. Neville was such a sweetheart, she was so glad he survived. He deserved so much more than what he had, working in a greenhouse as a plant transplanter. He still loved herbology and such, but like Hermione, gave up magic years ago.
‘Did you want some breakfast?’ he asked, looking at her with still a hint of worry in his eyes.
‘Thank you Neville’ she replied, and Neville stood up slowly, and made his way to the kitchen. Hermione stayed on the couch for a few moments, breathing in deeply and reminding herself things were alright. She hated the nightmare, and yet it came every night. It always took a few moments to calm herself in the mornings.
Getting up off the couch, she walked over into Neville’s blue tiled kitchen, and sat down at the table. She had fallen asleep in her clothes from the night before, but she did not mind with what happened before reaching Neville’s flat.
‘So’ Neville finally said, after putting Hermione’s toast down on a plate for her, ‘what happened last night?’. On his budget, Neville could not afford many luxuries, like jam or eggs, but Hermione of course did not mind. She was just lucky to be alive to enjoy the toast.
‘I just ran into some Markers, and got a bit scared, but I'm alright’ she tried to pass off quietly. She should have remembered Neville was kind, not stupid.
‘”Just ran into some Markers!” Hermione, you don’t just run into them. What happened?’ he asked again, looking at her closely. She put her toast down, and sighed.
‘It was nothing Neville, really’ she expressed quietly, reaching for the margarine. Neville pulled it away—a bit of pain wiping across his face as it was his bad arm—and looked at her harshly.
‘Hermione, don’t pull that on me. I’ve known you longer than anyone else, and I know when you’re lying. If you’re worried, I promise I won’t tell another living soul.’
‘No Neville, I’m not-‘ she started, taking a breath, and exhaling it slowly. ‘I’m not worried, it was . . . just strange.’
‘What was strange?’ he asked, leaning in more. Hermione looked at her toast again, and then glanced at Neville’s face, her eyes catching sight of his scar on his right side. She had to remember who she was talking to.
‘There was this man, he . . . he was dressed in black, and he attacked the Markers that were going to take me away for being out after curfew.’
‘I told you not to go out after-‘
‘Yes, yes, I know Neville’ she insisted, putting her hand up, and leaning back in her chair.
‘So what was so strange about a man trying to help you?’ he questioned. Hermione looked out the window and leaned in over the table.
‘He was a wizard’ she whispered, seeing his dazed reaction as she expected. She sat back down, and let him understand.
‘A . . . wizard? And he attacked the Markers?’ he asked, Hermione nodding. He leaned back in his chair, and looked up at the ceiling letting out a breath.
‘Well, did he just attack them and go, or did he stick around?’
‘He stayed afterwards, and asked if I was alright’ Hermione informed.
‘Anything else?’ Neville asked, leaning onto the table again.
‘He asked me for my name.’
‘Which one did you give him?’
‘Hermione’ she answered, Neville letting out an disappointed sigh.
‘Hermione, why did you do that? What if he was a Marker trying to deceive you?’ he asked strictly.
‘He wasn’t a Marker Neville!’ Hermione replied back, a bit of anger rising in her voice. She started to get the idea that Neville thought she couldn’t take care of herself.
‘How are you sure?’
‘Because he practically killed the two who were trying to get me, and he brought me here safely’ Hermione snapped back, getting up from the table, and bringing her plate to the sink. Neville sat quietly, and Hermione put her plate in the sink, and leaned on it.
‘I’m sorry Hermione. I don’t think you’re inept, I just don’t want anything to happen to you. You’re like a sister to me’ Neville commented to her from the table. She turned towards him, and dropped her angry stance in favour of a more relaxed one.
‘It’s OK Neville, I should have been more careful.’ She walked back to the table, patting him on his good shoulder lightly, and sat back down. Neville took a sip of his tea, and placed the cup back on its plate.
‘Anything else about this guy?’ he asked calmly.
‘He said his name was V, and that he was looking for vengeance’ she recalled. It was still hazy in her mind, but she did recall a bit of his rambling in all those v-words.
Neville narrowed his eyes in thought, and leaned back in his chain. ‘V’ he said, still thinking. ‘He didn’t say exactly who he was seeking vengeance against did he?’
‘Not that I recall, though he did mention something about vanquishing vermin and some other stuff with too many v’s. It sounded like he might be standing up against the Markers. He sounded crazy enough to try it too’ Hermione asserted. Neville stood slowly, and made his way slowly to the sink, and placed his dishes inside.
‘Yes, well, it sounds like the Markers will make short work of him. Tell me, do you work today?’ he asked.
‘No, I have Saturdays off luckily.’ Neville came back around the counter, and leaned against it with his cane in his other hand.
‘It might be terribly rude to ask, but would you mind if I came and saw your flat?’ he asked, a tinge of red entering his cheeks. Hermione chuckled, and stood from her chair.
‘Of course you can! Crookshanks will be happy to see a familiar face!’ she boasted, making Neville beam brightly.
Hermione freshened herself up, and Neville cleaned up the dishes and fed his fish before they left. Hermione could have sworn she saw a magical plant in his fish tank, but he gave a gentle push out the door when he noticed her staring at it.
Walking down the street at a leisurely pace, they reached Hermione’s building with good time, and she brought him up. There were several kids playing around the area in some of the gardens, and the bright sun shining in the sky gave the day a nice feel to it.
Walking up the stairs proved a bit of a challenge for Neville, but he managed. Getting into her flat, Hermione put her things away as Neville sat gratefully on her couch. Crookshanks had of course smelled him on the way in, and was happily sitting under his good arm, waiting to be pampered.
Meanwhile in Hermione’s room, she was putting her clothes away neatly. She and Neville were planning on going to the park and catching up with each other, and she was excited to talk to someone who knew her as Hermione and not that dreadful "'Mione".
Closing her drawer and hearing the playful children outside the window, her eyes fell on a picture of her, Ron, and Harry from Platform 9 ¾.
She remembered the day it took place, and she breathed deeply as her mind moved back to happier times with her dear friends still alive. She remembered the days when she sounded like one of those children, and things were so much simpler.
Picking up the frame, she looked at the photo closely, and felt an foreign object on the back. Pulling on it, she found it was a piece of paper; a piece of parchment.
Curious, with a tinge of worry, she opened the parchment—as it was folded—and she read the note.
They know who you are
They know where you live
Get out now and go back to Neville’s
Bring your wand and the cat
Go now, they are coming
Chapter 3: The Detectives
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Hermione’s eyes grew wide at the writing on the small note, and her head turned quickly when a knock came at the front door of her flat. She ran out of her room—the picture frame still in her hands—and she looked at Neville on her couch.
‘Are you going to get it?’ Neville asked casually, Hermione still looking terrified.
‘We need to get out of here, now!’ she urged quietly, another loud knock coming from the door.
‘Who is it?’ Hermione yelled, as she helped Neville up and he moved over to the window to look out.
‘There are two cars out there, and some men. Hermione, what’s going on?’ Neville questioned as he put the blinds back and turned on the spot.
‘Miss Granger? This is Captain Shoemaker of the London Police. May we come in please?’ a man voiced from the other side of the door. Hermione moved slowly to the door, and looked through the peep hole to see two men standing outside her door. They were wearing black coats and ties, but both had their pistols drawn, and were looking around the hallway.
Hermione could not let them inside. The police reported to the government, and obvious trouble could occur.
‘Umm . . . just a moment’ Hermione answered hurriedly, lifting up the floor board and picking up the box that contained her wizarding items, including her wand.
She quickly ran over to Neville, and helped him into the centre of the room. Crookshanks was still on the couch, but he watched Hermione moving about with his bright eyes.
‘Hermione, just run, I’ll keep them here’ Neville insisted.
‘No, we’re leaving together. Remember how to Apparate?’
‘Miss Granger, please open this door’ the man behind the door said again, this time sounding agitated.
‘Yes, just a second. I’m in my knickers’ she yelled. She could hear a commotion outside the door, and she quickly called Crookshanks to her.
‘Hermione, I can’t Apparate anymore. We haven’t done it in years!’ Neville declared.
‘Then just hold on’ she insisted. Crookshanks trotted over, and jumped into Hermione’s arms. Just as she stood up, the door burst open, and the two men barged into the flat.
‘Stop right there!’ Captain Shoemaker yelled, raising his pistol at the two, while his partner did the same.
Hermione was still quick with her reactions, and grabbing Neville’s arm, she thought hard of his house, and turned assertively.
It was like she had never Apparated before, and was experiencing it all over again for the first time. The siphoning squeezed on all Hermione’s sides, and she felt Neville next to her, bumping along while Crookshanks thrashed violently in her arms.
Her feet finally hit solid ground, just as her stomach was about to upturn, and they landed in Neville’s sitting room. Crookshanks scratched her arm viciously, and she let go of him. He instantly scooted away, and around a corner meowing harshly. Neville was in worse shape, and reached for a nearby rubbish bin as he was sick to his stomach.
‘Are you alright Neville?’ Hermione asked as she helped him to the couch. His face was pale and he had a cold sweat on his forehead, but he nodded and closed his eyes as he laid back.
‘It’s just been so long since I’ve Ap- . . . Apparated’ he admitted, breathing slowly, and wiping his face.
‘Do you want me to get you a drink?’ Hermione asked kindly, holding onto Neville’s hand. Ever since the end of the war, Neville’s health was never that great. With all his injuries—many like his arm that still hurt—he was easily winded, and constantly got sick from such common things as colds and flues.
‘I think . . . I think I’ll be alright. How did you know who they were?’ he asked, opening his eyes and looking at Hermione. She shifted in her seat a bit, and showed him the note on the back of the picture frame—which she had on top of her wizard items.
Neville read the note, and looked at Hermione. ‘V? Is this the same-‘
‘Yes, I’m sure it is’ Hermione professed.
Neville looked at the note for a moment, and then glanced at Hermione worriedly. ‘You know, V could be a Marker.’ Hermione sighed and stood up.
‘Neville, I already told you, he can’t be a Marker. You didn’t see what he did to those men.’
‘I know Hermione’ he insisted, putting his hand up. ‘But how else would he know about those police men showing up? Plus he knew about me, your cat, and that you had a wand and such. He knows too much about you.’ Hermione was pacing as Neville was talking, and she stopped and looked at Neville.
‘I know. It does worry me, but he’s saved me twice, from those Markers and now the police. Why would he be helping me escape if he was a Marker?’
‘Perhaps he has other plans for you.’
‘What happened?’ Captain Shoemaker asked surprisingly at his partner.
‘I . . . I don’t know! They were here a second ago, you saw them didn’t you Captain?’
The Captain looked around the sitting room for a moment, before turning to his brown haired partner, shaking his head. ‘No, we didn’t see anything.’
‘No Joseph, we did not see anything. You know what happens to folks who report seeing strange things like people vanishing. We came in, and the flat was empty.’
His partner looked at the floor for a moment in thought, before nodding. ‘Alright Stewart. So, what do we report to the Supervisor?’
Stewart sighed as he walked into the bedroom, and started looking at the pictures on the dresser. He glanced at the pictures, some of which included the woman with who appeared to be her parents, as well as some stranger ones with her and two boys in black cloaks.
‘We won’t be reporting to the Supervisor. The Chief wants me to report directly to the London Council on these matters now.’
Joseph looked shocked at Stewart, and approached the Captain. ‘You’ll be reporting right to the Council? That’s strange.’
Stewart nodded, and picked up one of the photographs, showing a younger version of Miss Granger, hugging a red haired boy in front of what appeared to be a huge castle nestled in the hills. ‘I think we’ve seen enough strange business these past years, we should be getting used to it’ he commented, handing the portrait over. ‘Any idea where that was taken?’
Joseph looked at the portrait, and scanned it closely. ‘Looks a bit like Scotland—before the fires of course. Sir, do you know why they want this girl brought in?’
‘Joe, she killed two Markermen. Who knows how a small girl like that did it, but orders were to bring her in.’ Stewart pocketed the portrait, and moved back into the sitting room. They checked the flat one last time for anything strange—only finding a piece of the floorboards loose, showing a hidden, but empty compartment. They left the flat and went back downstairs to their car.
‘It’s alright gents, no one home’ Joseph announced to the uniformed police. They both waved, got back in their car, and drove off. Stewart got into the passenger side of the car, and Joseph started it up.
‘Where to Stew?’ Joseph asked, with a bit of chuckle.
‘I told you to stop making that stupid joke’ Stewart answered. He hated people calling him “Stew”. Reminded him of his mother’s cooking.
‘Alright, alright. So, where are we going?’ Joseph asked again, fixing the mirror.
‘Take us back to the department. I want to know more about this Mary Granger.’
The two started off to headquarters, and while on the way Stewart punched up on the computer information on Mary Granger. Her government photo—the same one on her work ID—showed up on the small screen just above the radio, along with some small details about her.
‘Cute girl’ Joseph commented, giving the file a glance.
‘Yeah, but there isn’t much information about her. No parents, no education . . . it’s like she just appeared out of no where two years ago, and started working for the publishing office. I want to see what the database says at the department.’
The two arrived at headquarters, and walked up the stairs to their office: Investigation and Government Affairs. They dealt with special investigations that came from above. Cases before always dealt with people concerning national security or generally issues that best remained unquestioned. Stewart had experienced enough cases to make normal people question their sanity, however he always remained calm with the secrets he held.
Joseph was newer at his job, only getting it in the last year or so. He still thought in straight lines, such as reporting strange events or taking to regulations for regular police. Stewart knew better, and had to explain that sometimes rules had to be bent, or in some cases, forgotten all together.
Sitting down at his desk, Stewart typed up Miss Granger’s name, and found a similar file on the government database. The same picture, where she lived, and that she worked at the publishing office; that’s it.
‘Bloody hell, what in the world happened with this girl?’ Stewart voiced in frustration. He thought the government file would have more information, and it clearly did not. ‘I mean, how could she get hired at the publishing office when they don’t even know when she’s born!’
Joseph came around, and looked at the file while Stewart sighed, and lowered his head. ‘Well, it’s obvious she changed her name, but the question is from what.’
‘Yeah, well, I have to report to the Council in one hour, and I don’t even know her real name. All I have is her picture and the name she’s been going by.’
‘That’s a start at least. Once it gets on the broadband and the network, we’ll catch her up easy’ Joseph insisted calmly, going back around and sitting at his desk.
‘Somehow I have a feeling the Council won’t be too pleased with my information though.’
‘Do you have the girl Shoemaker?’ the voice asked. Stewart had only heard the voice of the Lord once before. He disliked calling him “Lord”, but everyone on the Council called him that. Some even added “Dark” before that, which seemed to suit him well.
‘No my Lord, we went to the woman’s flat but found it empty. We did a background check her, but found little information’ Stewart explained.
He, along with the other five members of the London Council spoke directly with the Lord of Britain—short formed to the Lord. They all sat at a semi-circle black table, in a dark room about the size of a small gymnasium. Spotlights focused on the table, and the rest of the room was black. Facing the semi-circle table was a large movie screen, on which the Lord would appear. You could never actually see his face—since he himself would stay in the darkness—but his voice was always the most terrifying thing about the man.
The Lord’s head turned to show a subdued—if not non-existent—nose, and he breathed in a hiss-like breath. ‘I am very . . . displeased with this Shoemaker. I want to know who killed these two Markers.’ Stewart fumbled with his thoughts for a moment, before quickly rearranging them.
‘We do have some information for you my Lord. She works at the publishing office, and lives at the address we looked at. Her name is Mary Granger, but it appears she had a different name before-‘
‘Granger’ one of the other Council members voiced. The silhouette of the Lord turned, and looked at the man.
‘You know this name?’ the Lord asked. The member of the Council moved forward into the light.
‘I do my Lord. Her real name is Hermione; Hermione Granger. She’s Mudblood filth’ the man spoke. Stewart had no idea what a “Mudblood” was, but it did not sound too pleasing.
The man who spoke was a Marker, in his early twenties, was one of the higher ranked ones that dealt with more . . . complicated situations. Stewart had turned some of his arrests to this man, and he could always remember the glint of sinister pleasure in his eyes when a new arrest would be made.
‘Ah . . . I remember, the Dead Boy’s friend. She is not dead then’ the Lord stated. Stewart had been to a few of these meetings before, and this “Dead Boy” had come up once or twice. He always wondered who they were talking about.
‘Should I send Markers to find her my Lord?’ the pale faced man asked.
‘No, she is not worthy of such a chase. Shoemaker will bring her in, and then he will turn her over to you Mr. Malfoy’ the Lord instructed. The pale Marker lowered his head in agreement, and looked over at Stewart with a displeased stare from his silver eyes.
‘Yes my Lord’ Stewart replied.
‘Good. Go, and bring this woman in. She is a threat that must be squashed. Bella, Malfoy will stay, the rest of you go.’
Stewart stood, bowed to the Lord’s projection, and left. The other Council members, a fat man with a pointy face scurried out first, and then the two other members walked behind Stewart. One was a woman, middle aged and looking thoroughly displeased with herself, and the other was the Director of the Broadband Network, or BN. He was in charge of all the media coverage in Britain—specifically in London. He was about the only member of the Council—aside from Stewart—that did not give such a . . . strange vibe.
Stewart went straight back to the office, and found Joseph still there.
‘So, how was it?’ he asked as Stewart took off his coat and sat down in his computer chair.
‘Well, they didn’t black bag me. I found out her first name used to be Hermy-own, or something like that.’
‘Hermy-what?’ Joseph asked, with a quirked brow.
‘I know, strange name. I should have asked for the spelling, though knowing those Markers they probably don’t know how to spell’ Stewart quipped, getting a shushing motion from Joseph.
‘Stewart, be quiet! At least get me to do this first’ he said, taking out what looked like small cell phone, and propping it up on his desk. A little red light flashed for a moment, before turning green.
‘There! Now, the name again was . . .’ Joseph started, typing away at his computer.
‘Hermy-something. Hermy-own, Hermy-scone, I don’t know’ Stewart said frustratedly.
Joseph went ahead and searched it only, and found a name close to it. ‘Here, from a Shakespeare play: Hermione. That sound close?’
‘That’s it! How did you find out?’
‘Please, what’s the best way to find anything on everything?’ Joseph asked, receiving a smile from Stewart.
‘God bless the man who invented Google. He had to be English’ Stewart declared, typing in Hermione Granger into the government database.
A file popped up, and Stewart clicked on it, with Joseph coming behind and leaning down.
‘Anything good?’ he asked, Stewart reading the information.
‘Hmm’ Stewart replied, scrolling down. ‘Raised in Somerset, parents were both dentists, died two years ago.’ He clicked on the parents names, and found their files as well.
‘Both parents were normal citizens until the riots before the reformation. One was killed by riot police, and the other was arrested and died in prison from a hunger strike’ Stewart read aloud.
‘Blimey’ Joseph commented, Stewart nodding.
‘Yeah. It’s strange, her education information is restricted, and it seems most of the important things—her friends, relatives, where she lived—all of it is restricted.’
‘Restricted even to you?’ Joseph asked.
‘Yeah . . . something doesn’t add up. I mean, I know information was lost during the reformation, but this is restricted.’
‘Perhaps we should contact the Markers, maybe they can release the information?’ Joseph asked, Stewart letting out a laugh and look at him.
‘Joseph, when have Markers released any information on anything? They bury information . . . and people’ he asserted. ‘No, this Granger girl, there’s something up about her.’
‘You still don’t think she offed those Markermen?’ Joseph asked, leaning back on a file cabinet.
‘Well . . . I mean, I’m not sure. We don’t even know how they died. We need to get to her, and find out more information. The government wants her found, so we need to focus on that.’ Stewart leaned back in his chair for a moment, and thought to himself. ‘Alright, we’ll start by asking neighbors and other tenants. Perhaps we’ll get somewhere there.’
‘Alright’ Joseph asked, giving a yawn and stretching his arms.
‘We’ll have to start tomorrow since it’s too late now. Be here early and we’ll canvas the area’ Stewart stated, the yawn now infecting him.
‘Hey, I’m always early’ Joseph maintained, smiling, and picking up his coat and his little cell-phone like device. He left moments later, and Stewart was left in the office by himself, looking at the picture of Hermione.
‘What is the story behind you?’
‘Neville?’ Hermione questioned, as she slept on the couch. It was night, and the two of them spent the entire day inside Neville’s house. A police officer or two came to the house and asked if Neville had seen Mary Granger, but he of course said no. They were tense moments for Hermione, but she braved through them in Neville’s basement, and at night, she came upstairs and slept on his couch.
She had heard a noise in the darkened house, and wondered if it was Neville upstairs in his room. It seemed like it was the wind—or perhaps Crookshanks still getting used to the new home—but she laid back down, and sighed.
She wondered what she would do, now that it seemed the government was looking into her past. They would find out about her name change, her real history, and then all hell would break loose. She put her hands to her face, and breathed slowly to try and calm herself.
‘You did well to follow my advice’ that same deep, yet calm voice sounded from the darkness as before. Hermione bolted up quickly and nearly shrieked when she saw the man who called himself V standing just on the other side of the kitchen. His wide brimmed hat was lowered, but you could just make out the edge of the ivory mask.
‘How did you get in here?’ she asked, clutching her chest as she gained her breath.
‘You seem to forget that magic has it’s uses—good and bad’ V replied calmly.
‘What are you doing here? Are you a Marker?’ Hermione asked abruptly. She did not intend to sound so forward with the questions, but the words escaped her mouth too quickly.
‘I, like Apollo, try to find my way in this chaotic world to help those such as yourself. As for a Marker, some would say I am a Marker of sorts.’
‘Alright, are you a good guy or a bad guy?’ Hermione asked simply, pulling the blanket closer to her. She was, after all, only in her pajamas.
‘There is nothing either good or bad, but thinking makes it so*’ V spoke airily.
‘That doesn’t really tell me the answer’ she asserted, hearing V breathe—something close to a chuckle.
‘Whether I tell you I am good or bad makes no difference, for I could say either and lie both times. I was merely saying it matters what you think I am, not what I tell you.’
Hermione of course, still had no answer; nothing definitive anyways. She sat up, and V walked into the living room. His black cloak hung just an inch or so above the floor, and his black boots made a heavy thud with each step.
‘Why are you here, right now’ she questioned.
‘To warn you once again.’
‘They aren’t coming now are they?’ Hermione asked worriedly, instinctively turning to look out the window. Luckily, she only found an empty street.
‘No, not now, but soon. You are not safe here Hermione, even with Neville and your beloved cat. You must leave the city, or they will capture you. Believe me Hermione, you do not wish to be captured.’
‘But they already know where I live, and what I look like! How did they find out?’ Hermione asked with a stressed voice.
‘It does not matter how they found out, only that they know. You must leave Neville and everything behind by tomorrow, or they will find you, and no one will ever see you again.’
Hermione was panicking in her mind with all the reality that was storming at her. She could not believe that only two days before she was at her flat, watching television with Crookshanks on her lap. Now, she was discussing leaving London—and possibly Britain—to a man in a mask in Neville’s living room at, she checked her watch, three a.m.
‘Why are you helping me?’ she asked V seriously. V stepped forward, and leaned down to look at her, his mask now fully visible. The black moustache followed the brim of the mouth, and the eyes were contrastive black to the white of the face.
‘Because you helped me once’ he spoke softly. Hermione’s mind was intrigued by this statement, and she began flipping through all the people she knew who could fit V’s profile. Of course, she quickly found that none of her past friends or acquaintances fit the profile.
‘I helped you?’ she asked, V nodding.
‘Yes, a long time ago, when we were both different people. Tell me Hermione, what are you doing at the moment?’
Hermione was surprised by the off topic question, but answered she was sleeping. Even she thought a man in a mask could see that.
‘Ah, of course. Would you be interested in seeing the performance I will be giving tonight?’
‘Performance?’ she asked worriedly.
‘Yes, music of course. I consider myself quite an excellent musician, and I would be most honoured if you would join me’ he expressed cheerfully, offering his hand.
‘I don’t think I should, I should get to bed and-‘
‘I promise it will be like nothing you have ever seen, and on my word, you will be brought back here afterwards.’
‘I’m sorry, but, I mean, I’m in my pajamas and-‘ Hermione began, however V quickly gave a whisk of his wand, and Hermione was suddenly dressed in jeans, a jumper, and a light Autumn jacket.
Hermione looked over her new clothes, and found them to fit rather well. She looked up at V, and could tell he was smiling—if only a little—under the mask.
‘Alright, but we must be back quickly’ she declared. She could not believe she was agreeing to go, but some part of her wanted to find out who this V was. She knew him from the past somehow; she just had this feeling about it. Plus, she had to admit, he did save her twice already.
Taking his outstretched hand—on which he wore a black, leather glove—her hand was soon grasped by V’s strong, and considerably larger hand. She moved over closer to him, and it was here again that she realized that he was a tall man. Perhaps the boots put on a few inches, but he was easily half a dozen inches taller than her. That eliminated some of her old friends, but most were still possibilities.
‘We will Apparate there, so please keep a hold, and focus on staying with me’ V instructed. Hermione nodded, and with a twist of his frame, Hermione twisting as well, the two of them Apparated with crack.
After another bout of siphoning and tube-like squeezing, her feet landed on the solid of a rooftop, which she realized a moment later, was in London. She looked about as V let go of her hand, and she glanced up and down the empty street that was below them, and to the skyline in front of her.
‘I’ve been here before’ Hermione commented, as she looked at the store fronts and other buildings on the street. V took a step forward, and Hermione’s eyes fell on him again.
‘Of course you have. Doesn’t that phone booth look familiar?’
Hermione looked towards where his mask was looking, and saw the red phone booth she remembered cramming into with her other friends years before.
‘The Ministry?’ she questioned, V nodding slowly.
‘Yes. Now part of Voldemort’s government’ V explained, Hermione’s mind filling of memories at the mention of Voldemort’s name.
Memories of that last day, with the fall of Hogwarts and the beginning of the fires across the highlands raced through her mind. She remembered how Voldemort swept through the castle—killing students and staff without mercy. The vision of Colin Creevy falling after trying to protect Remus Lupin, who had fallen after being blasted off a staircase, and then of Remus himself getting killed by that horrible green light moved in front of Hermione’s eyes.
‘Hermione, are you alright?’ V asked, his mask looking at her.
‘Oh, yes, I’m alright. You’re giving a musical performance here? I don’t see any instruments’ Hermione mentioned, not feeling to sure of her decision.
‘I see your sense of observation is still working well’ V quipped, taking out his wand. ‘But for this I will call upon much more than just a single instrument. Oh no, for this, it requires much more’ he boasted, raising his wand.
'Tell me Hermione, do you know the date?' he asked calmly, his wand still raised. Hermione boggled her mind for a moment before answering.
'Well, it would be . . . November the fifth.'
'Precisely, two years since Hogwarts fell' V pointed out quietly, taking a step forward and looking upwards, and a distant clocktower rang out three a.m.
'Remember, remember, the fifth of November, the gunpowder, treason, and plot. I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason should ever be forgot' he whispered, looking back down.
‘V, what are you doing?’ Hermione asked, as she looked about, wondering what he had planned.
'Life may change, but it may fly not; hope may vanish, but can die not. Truth be veiled, but still it burneth; love repulsed, - but it returneth**' he whispered again, his voice being carried by the light wind to Hermione's ears.
He took his wand, and began moving it about like he was a conductor for a symphony, moving it about slowly and fluidly. Hermione began to question V’s sanity, when she could only seconds later, began hearing music through the air.
‘I hear it!’ she declared, as the music built in volume.
‘Of course you do, but wait. Wait for the crescendo!’ he stated, as his conducting became more and more emphasized. Just as the music seemed to reach it’s loud point, and Hermione could see people from their flats leaning out to wonder where it came from, V came down with his wand, and a blue spark shot out and hit the red phone booth.
An almighty explosion came from below, and the phone booth blasted into thousands of pieces. The ground shook as the street began to rumble, and a blast erupted out of the pavement, and Hermione shielded her eyes as debris shot high into the air, as the music continued to play all around her. Hermione glanced at V, and he was still swishing his wand about, shooting off blue sparks towards the street below as the pavement continued to give away.
‘Verisignum!’ V shouted as he raised his wand in the air, and two massive bolts of white light rose above the rooftop—and the smoldering crater than now existed where the Ministry once was—and etched a white V high in the night sky.
It took a few moments for Hermione to realize that the man who saved her from the Markers, and the police, just blew up the entire Ministry.
Hermione had no idea who or what V was, but he was definately not a Marker.
Stewart Shoemaker - Stewart = Old English: stig - house, weard - guard, Shoemaker = A shoe maker, a small profession (Stewart Shoemaker = House guard of a small profession)
Joseph Placord - Joesph = Latin: Iosephus, from the Greek Ιωσηφος (Iosephos), from Hebrew יוֹסֵף (Yosef) - he will add, Placord = plac: Placidus - quiet, ord: Ordinatus - order, orderly (Joseph Placord = He will add quiet and order)
Apollo - Greek God, one of his symbols is that of protection.
*Quote from Hamlet, Act II, Scene II
**Quote by Percy Bysshe Shelley, English Romantic poet, 1792 - 1822
Versignum - L. verum - truth, signum - mark
Chapter 4: The Broadcast
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Slamming the door shut, Hermione ran to the couch and made sure the curtains were shut. It was late—very late—and yet she did not feel a wink of tiredness. Not after what she had just witnessed.
The man called V had just blown up the old Ministry; the same Ministry that she and man of her old friends stormed during her sixth year at Hogwarts.
He seemed so calm about it afterwards, like he had just emptied out the rubbish bin. They Apparated back to Neville’s, and she ran inside, not one word spoken between the two of them.
Hermione was now sitting on the couch, trying to calm her breathing while her mind tumbled into thousands of thoughts. What was she to do now? Why did he show her this? How does he know so much about her and what the police and Markers are doing? Who is he?
‘Hermione? Hermione is that you?’ a voice whispered from the stairwell, Neville slowly making it down. Crookshanks was following him down slowly, keeping pace and looking up at him periodically. Neville made it to the bottom and Crookshanks hopped over to Hermione, and rubbed into her side.
‘It’s- . . . it’s me Neville’ Hermione answered slowly, looking off at some spot in the kitchen with her head in her hands.
‘Are you alright? Where were you, and why are you dressed? Is everything O.K.?’ he asked consecutively. Hermione closed her eyes, knowing how insane her answers would be, and how she wished it could have just been “oh, I just went for a walk.”
‘V was here.’
‘What? Here, in my home? What did he want—wait, he isn’t still here is he?’ Neville asked hurriedly, turning around and looking about his living room with his cane held up like a club.
Hermione sighed, and rubbed her forehead. ‘No, he’s gone.’
Neville looked about for a second more just in case, then turned and sat down next to Hermione, Crookshanks moving out of the way beforehand. He placed a comforting hand on Hermione’s back, and she shivered for a moment before giving another sigh and relaxing a little. Neville was there to help.
‘What did he want?’ Neville asked quietly.
‘He said that I’m in danger here, and I have to leave by tomorrow.’
‘Nonsense! They came and asked about you, and they believed what I said. Why would they come back?’ Neville responded. Hermione could tell Neville didn’t want her to leave. To see a friendly face after what he had been through, he wouldn’t be up to seeing her go that quickly.
‘I know Neville, but if they did find me—‘
‘They won’t Hermione, I promise you’ Neville said. Hermione placed her hand in his, and smiled at him warmly.
‘I know Neville, I know. But maybe it’s an idea to even leave for a few days, and then come back. Perhaps in a week or two, all of this will have died down, and I can come back without worry’ she reasoned. Neville knew well enough that Hermione’s reasoning was not something you could usually fight and win against.
‘Well, alright, if you think it’s best. I just don’t trust this V fellow, there are too many questions, and I still think he’s a Marker.’ To this, Hermione let out a quiet, but hysterical chuckle.
‘He’s no Marker; that I know.’
‘How are you so sure?’
Letting out a sigh, she looked right at Neville. ‘Because he just blew up the old Ministry.’
‘WHAT!’ Neville yelled, Hermione shushing him instantly, and looking about as if worried they’d wake up the non-existent people sleeping nearby.
‘He blew up the bloody Ministry! How do you know?’ Neville asked, quietly now.
‘He- . . . he took me with him.’
‘And you went with him willingly?’ Neville asked incredulously.
‘Well Neville, I need to find out who this guy is!’ Hermione answered tersely.
‘I know, but going along with him as he blows up the Ministry isn’t—‘
‘I didn’t know he was going to do that!’ Hermione interrupted heatedly. Both of them looked at each other for a moment, then realized the raised voices were not necessary, and tried to calm down. Neville moved a little closer, and took both of Hermione’s hands in his.
‘Did you find out more about him?’ Neville asked calmly. Hermione looked off for a moment trying to remember what they spoke about, but with so much happening, it was hard to recall every topic of conversation.
‘Just that I’ve helped him in the past before really. With what, I’m not sure, but he did say it was when we were both different people or something. He also said that the government knew about me, and that I had to leave. He knows that I’ve been to the Ministry before—more specifically that I’ve been in the telephone booth—and he can make his own spells’ Hermione recalled.
Those facts did help narrow the ideas of who it could be, but not everyone. Almost everyone at Hogwarts during her time knew that she had been to the Ministry with Harry and the others. And Hermione did help out a lot of people while at Hogwarts. The fact that he could make his own spells did not mean much, considering so much time had passed.
‘Some of that information helps probably’ Neville figured, trying to stay positive about it all. ‘But that doesn’t mean you have to leave.’
‘Neville’ she started, getting up from the couch and pacing about in the dark room. The moonlight coming through the windows, along with the streetlamps, gave enough light to see around the room. ‘So far he’s been right about everything, and as much as I don’t want to leave, maybe I should for a few days.’
‘But what about your work? If you don’t show up all of a sudden, they’ll know something’s wrong’ Neville put forth. Hermione turned as she paced, and shook her head.
‘No, they won’t notice, or care really. If they know where I live, they know where I work, and calling in to say I’m sick or something wouldn’t do any good.’
Neville was distraught about how the situation was looking, but he began to concede Hermione leaving London for a few days, or even a week.
‘So where will you go? Liverpool to see you family again?’ Neville asked, as he pat Crookshanks, who was lying over his left leg on the couch.
‘No, not Liverpool. If they know where I live and work, they’ll probably know where my family is. Maybe Birmingham or . . . hmm’ she started to think, Neville wondering.
‘Well’ Hermione said, her fingers on her chin. ‘I know someone, in a really small town that might do well. Ever been to King’s Lynn?’ she asked.
‘”King’s Lynn”? Hmm . . . no, not really.’
‘It’s in The Fens, just south of The Wash. I know an old friend that lives there, quite secretively. I should be able to go there without worry for a few days.’
Neville thought this over for a moment, and agreed. Hermione honestly wanted Neville to be alright with it all. It would cause a lot of tension if she went without his agreement, and there would be a good chance he would go after her, which he was in no shape to be doing.
‘Can Crookshanks stay here with you?’ she asked as she sat back down next to Neville.
‘It shouldn’t be a problem I think. I think he likes it here’ Neville proposed, giving Crookshanks another pat. The cat purred softly, and Hermione smiled at Neville.
In the morning, Hermione gathered the small amount of belongings she had, and got ready to leave. Neville insisted she have breakfast first, and she obliged. Breakfast itself was not that grand, but Neville tried to make it important by cooking crepes. Well, at least an attempt at crepes.
‘Honestly Neville, they’re good!’ she restated as she took another bite of her dish. In actuality, they did have a soft touch of asphalt in them, but once you muscled your way past it, they were alright. Crookshanks was smarter, and after one lick began hissing at the crepes, and instead settled for a nice lump of government-regulated tuna.
‘Well, alright. I just want you to have a good last meal before you go’ he admitted, coming over from the kitchen and sitting down at the table, a small amount of pain wiping across his face as he shifted his weight into the seat.
‘I’m not going to be gone that long Neville. You make it sound like I’ll never come back’ Hermione said, Neville taking a bite of his creation, and grimacing as he chewed.
‘Uch, these are terrible. Why didn’t you tell me?’ he demanded, a little playfully as he continued to taste the road in his mouth.
‘What? I like them.’
‘Then you must have the palette of an anteater’ he asserted, taking the rest of his crepes and pushing them aside. He was trying to get up again, but Hermione kept him seated.
‘I’ll get you some toast, just stay here’ she advised. He agreed, and slumped back down, giving his now discarded plate a frown.
‘So are you going to tell me who you’re going to see?’ Neville asked, turning his head slightly towards the kitchen as Hermione put the bread in the toaster. Hermione walked over as the bread was being toasted, and whispered in his ear.
‘GIN-‘ he started to shout, Hermione placing her hand over his mouth. ‘Ginny!’ he whispered in astonishment. She came close to his ear, and whispered more.
‘Yes, Ginny. I haven’t seen or talked to her in years. She wasn’t at Hogwarts when it fell, because her Mum asked her to stay at her aunt’s house in King’s Lynn. Ginny wanted to fight, but respected her parents wishes.’
‘Part of me wishes she was there with us, I missed her. I'm surprised she actually stayed away.’
‘I know Neville. As for staying away, well, her parents wishes, and also not having her wand kept her there. She helped with a lot of the wounded when Mrs. Weasley escaped. They Apparated a lot of them to King’s Lynn and helped heal them before going off to fight at Ministry. Ginny didn’t go to the Ministry though, she was smart enough to know it wouldn’t do any good.’
‘So Ginny’s alive’ Neville restated in disbelief.
‘And that’s where I’m going, so there’s no worries’ Hermione said, turning around and getting Neville’s toast.
‘Why didn’t you tell me before?’ Neville questioned a little heatedly.
‘I couldn’t Neville, you know that. I haven’t talked to her in years, I just hope she’s still there’ Hermione hoped.
'But of all the people that should have known-'
'I know Neville, I know. When I come back, we can both go and you can see her? I'm sorry I can't bring you earlier, but it would be hard for you to travel' Hermione explained consolingly. Neville looked to be on the verge of tears, but nodded in agreement.
'I'll just be happy to see Ginny again. I've dreamed about her so much.'
They finished breakfast at a leisurely pace, then Hermione got her things. She disliked leaving Neville in the middle of a situation she created, but this was the only way to get them away from him.
‘How are you getting there?’ Neville asked as he leaned in the hallway as Hermione packed her belongings in the front room.
‘Well, I can’t go the Muggle way. They’ll have police looking everywhere for Mary Granger.’
‘So you’re going to Apparate?’
‘I already did it once, I can probably do it again. I just have to make sure I end up close to King’s Lynn, since I’ve never been there.’ This did not make Neville any more relaxed with her departure, but came over and gave her a hug.
‘Just keep safe, and come back soon. It’s been so great to have you here’ Neville murmured from Hermione’s shoulder.
‘It’s been so wonderful Neville, I’ll be back soon, I promise. And I’ll tell her you say hi and that you miss her.’
Neville backed away with some tears in his eyes, and Hermione gave him a kiss. With all that he had been through, he did not want to lose the one person who understood almost everything about him. So few people did in the world he lived in.
‘Now you be nice to Neville, alright Crookshanks?’ she told her cat. The stubby-nosed creature purred and rubbed up against her pointed finger, and she smiled at him. He knew perfectly well that he was going to get more tuna in the coming days.
Hermione grabbed her pack, and her box with her wand and other wizarding items, and smiled at Neville one last time. He smiled shakily at her, and with a hard thought of the countryside, she gave a twist.
In the last instant she saw Neville, his expression changed as he looked towards the front door, and his smile dropped. She suddenly wished to return to find out what was going on, but she was already surrounded by darkness and that old tube-like feeling.
Meanwhile, back at Neville’s home, a knock came at the door, and he hobbled over. Crookshanks trotted over to the staircase, and turned to face the door.
Neville opened the door, to find three men dressed in black suits standing on his front step.
‘Yes? May I help you?’ he asked kindly. The front man turned towards him and removed his hat; Neville’s mouth dropping open, and Crookshanks hissing from the stairs.
‘Hello Longbottom’ sneered Draco Malfoy.
Hermione landed in the middle of nowhere. The look on Neville’s face continued to perplex and worry her, but she knew it was probably nothing. She disliked leaving Neville alone, but it was needed for both their protection.
But how was she to get to King’s Lynn when she ended up in the countryside?
She found herself in the middle of a grass field, with cows and other farm animals grazing in the distance, one cow nearby lifting its head and chewing on the grass. She could see a lone road wind its way across the expanse, and she started off towards it, making sure to watch her step for the substance that made the area smell so wonderfully.
Reaching the road, she hadn’t a clue which way to walk. Roads led to towns, but which was her town? The high inclined Sun did not help her in figuring East from West, so she took a guess, and headed to the right.
No cars came for a while, until finally an old red car that looked to be the misfit in a used-car lot came puttering up. It was tiny car, and the driver looked to have terribly skills behind the wheel, but it began to slow down as it approached Hermione from ahead.
Stopping on the other side of the road, Hermione instinctively looked both ways, and crossed the road to the car. An old man, at least in his sixties, was the driver. He had a rough grey beard, and pudgy cheeks that gave him one of those cute grandfather looks, just like her mother’s dad, Grandfather Malory had. He always had the best cookies that Grandmother Malory made just for Hermione. She used to say since Hermione was her only grandchild, she had to spoil her as much as possible. Grandfather Malory didn’t like to spoil, but always smiled at Hermione eating the cookies while he fixed his violin. He was always fixing violins.
‘Hello there darling, what yeh doing all the way ou’ here? Where you talkin’ to the cows or somethin’?’ he asked, giving her a strange look with his blue eyes.
‘Um, no, not exactly. I’m trying to get to King’s Lynn, could you help me?’ she asked. The idea of getting help from a stranger at this time was not too accepted by Hermione, but she honestly had no idea where she was. She put a lot of judgment into how the old man would react. If he reacted too quickly, then he could be a Marker in disguise. If he reacted too slowly, he might suspect her and bring her to the police.
He looked her over for a moment, then up and down the road, and of all things-laughed. The tension in Hermione’s neck was increasing, but with the laugh, she smiled. He had a bark of a laugh, but it was genuine.
‘Well pretty lady’ he started, ‘if yer on yer way to King’s Lynn, yer walkin’ in the wrong direction. It’s thata way’ he informed, pointing in the direction that Hermione had not picked. So much for her guessing abilities.
‘Oh, alright, thank you’ Hermione responded, turning and starting to walk that way. The old man sat in the car for a second, then got out.
‘Well hold on a tec! I’m on my way to Castle Rising, I can give yeh a lift to King’s Lynn if you’d like’ the old man offered. Hermione stopped, and turned to look at the man.
He was beefy, but not very tall—almost the same height as herself. He wore simple clothes, jeans and a collared shirt. His stance was very relaxed, and his voice sounded sincere.
‘If it’s not a proble-‘
‘Not at all young lady!’ he interrupted, motioning her to sit in the car. She walked over and sat in the tiny car, and he walked to the driver’s side. The interior had the aroma of old leather and a small whiff of tobacco, but it didn’t bother Hermione. The windows were open, so once they started moving it would be alright.
The old man took his seat, and the car swayed in reply. His hefty weight was enough for the car, and as he turned it over, he smiled at Hermione.
‘Archibald Weirman’ he introduced himself.
‘Her—I mean, Mary Granger’ Hermione introduced herself, shaking his outstretched hand. He took hold of the wheel, and started the car off on the road.
‘So, Miss Hermary Granger, what’re yeh doin’ all the way out here?’ he asked, Hermione smiling.
‘It’s just Mary Granger actually-‘
‘Not a problem. I’m coming to visit a friend’ she explained, looking out the window at the farmland and breathing in the air. It was so nice near the water, it gave a nice salty scent to the air.
‘A friend yeh say?’ the old man restated, Hermione getting nervous in the way he mentioned it. They were now driving along a bend in the road, and coming up to some hills.
‘Well, perhaps I know’em. I have some family in King’s Lynn.’
‘Probably not, they live just outside the town’ Hermione offered, hoping to squash the topic. Archibald nodded, and gave a glance towards Hermione.
‘You look familiar’ he said offhandedly. Hermione started to become nervous again.
‘I do? I have one of those faces I’ve been told.’ Archibald was shaking his head.
‘No, no, I’ve seen you before. But where . . .’ he pondered. Hermione was already getting her wand ready, incase she needed it.
‘Oh, I remember now! You’re the one on the news!’ the old man spouted, Hermione pulling her wand out and pointing it at the man.
‘Pull the car over, now!’ Hermione demanded, Archibald waving his hand to try and calm her down.
‘Tak’er easy little lady, I’m not the police’ he insisted.
‘Just pull the car over’ Hermione again demanded.
‘And what? You’re going to walk the rest of the way? I don’t mind drivin’ yeh, just calm down, and put yer stick away’ the man told Hermione. She kept her wand on him for a moment longer as he looked at her, then dropped it, and put it on her lap.
‘There, that’s better’ Archibald sighed. ‘I’m not lookin’ for trouble, an’ I don’t mind drivin’ yeh. Just don’t be hurtin’ me please.’
‘I’m not a criminal’ Hermione attested, Archibald giving her a look.
‘Yeh don’t look like one. Too pretty’ he noticed, getting reminded of Gary from the carpark. Archibald gave a bit of a smirk, and it relaxed Hermione. She still could not trust this man, but his calm nature made her feel better.
‘So why are they after yeh?’
Hermione sighed, and looked out at the countryside passing by. ‘I don’t know why’ she lied.
‘Well, yeh’ll be safe in King’s Lynn. ‘Tis a small town, outta the way and such.’
A tree passing by, Hermione looked forward and saw a small hamlet ahead. The car pulled off onto a side road, and towards the town. It looked quaint, about a dozen or so buildings, none more than two stories tall. Coming into the main street, the odd person walked along the road, while others were working in the fields.
Archibald slowed the car, and it came to a gentle halt.
‘So does your friend live in the town, or the outskirts?’
‘Not too far from here, I can walk the rest of the way. Thanks Archibald for the ride’ Hermione said to the man. He smiled through his beard, and Hermione got out of the car. He waved good-bye, and slowly putted along in the car, continuing down the road, over a hill and gone.
Hermione looked around, giving another sigh, and caught a familiar building. It was on the corner of a junction, and had a black roof. She remembered eating at that inn one night with Ginny, and walking back to her place afterwards.
She started down the dirt path, and after several minutes of walking and smelling the wonderful sea breeze, she came around a long bend, and from behind the trees came a cozy looking cottage. With a slanted thatch roof, and old brick walls, she walked up, and knocked on the old wooden door.
After a few moments of shuffling inside, and a few muffled voices, the door opened slowly, and the side of a red-headed face peaked around the side.
‘May I help you?’
‘I’m . . . here to see Ginny Weasley.’
‘And you are?’ the person asked, the door opened a little more to see a light brown eye looking at Hermione.
‘I’m Hermione. Hermione Grang-‘
The door swung open and the red haired woman threw herself at Hermione mid-introduction. Hermione staggered backwards with the sudden jolt, but hearing the sniffs from Ginny’s crying, she smiled, and hugged her friend tightly. Her long red hair was still as fiery as ever, and Hermione stroked it gently, smiling as she remembered the times she saw it swaying down the halls of Hogwarts.
‘Hermione’ Ginny sniffled, giving one more warm squeeze before backing away. ‘Oh Hermione, I’ve missed you so.’
‘I’ve missed you too Ginny’ Hermione responded with a smirk and a wipe of a tear, Ginny wiping her face also.
‘Come in, come in’ Ginny insisted, opening the door and ushering her in. Hermione entered the tiny home, and looked about.
It was so much like the Burrow, it was easy to tell a Weasley lived here. Knick-knacks were strune all over the mantle over the hearth, and the kitchen had flowers in a vase, with water boiling on the stove while pictures—Muggle pictures—were plastered all over the white fridge. Old red-laced rugs were covering the floor in the sitting room, while in the kitchen and adjacent dining room wood floors creaked under her steps.
Ginny closed the door, and turned back towards Hermione, where they again shared a hug. Hermione could not believe that she had come all the way up there to see Ginny. It had been so long, it wasn’t surprising she didn’t recognize her right away.
‘Oh Hermione, please come and sit. Tell me where you’ve been, what you’re doing’ Ginny persisted, leading Hermione over into the dining room and pulling out one of the four wooden chairs for her. She continued on into the kitchen to get some tea going as Hermione started her story.
Hermione went ahead and told her of her escape from Hogwarts with Seamus and the others, and how she managed to get back to London and keep low. She mentioned where she worked, and her trip to Liverpool, and then came to the topic of Neville.
‘While I was in Liverpool, I ran into someone from Hogwarts.’
‘You mean a student? Someone we knew?’ Ginny asked as she was taking the tea pot over to the table, very carefully.
‘Yes. It- . . . it was Neville.’
A sudden and strict gasp and the smash of pottery filled the room as Ginny dropped the tea pot in shock. The tea splashed all over the floor, and the pot broke into thousands of pieces as Ginny held her mouth in astonishment.
‘N-N-Neville . . . alive?’ Ginny stuttered. Hermione stood up quickly, and helped Ginny to sit down in one of the chairs.
‘Yes, he lives in London now. I just visited him.’
Ginny was still in utter shock over the information, and in her staring at the floor, noticed the tea pot.
‘Oh . . . there’s a mess. I’ll- . . . I’ll clean it’ she spoke incoherently.
‘Don’t worry, I’ll get it’ Hermione insisted, taking her wand and wiping over the mess, the tea pot coming back together and the tea disappearing.
‘WHAT ARE YOU DOING!’ Ginny screamed, Hermione jumping back and falling down onto the floor—hitting the tea pot over and it breaking again.
‘What? What’s wrong? I just-‘
‘You did- . . . THAT!’ Ginny ranted, her state of mind totally in rage.
Hermione looked at where Ginny was pointing, and it was then she realized she used magic. Hermione did not even notice she did it, she just went and cleaned up the tea pot. She was so startled with herself, she dropped her wand, and began backing up from it as if it was some dangerous insect.
‘Why do you have that here?’ Ginny questioned, standing up and looking at her while she picked up the tea pot pieces.
‘I- . . . I had to bring it with me. Markers are after me.’
‘Markers?’ Ginny stated worriedly.
‘Yes, I had to leave London, and I thought it would be alright to come here since it is out of the way’ Hermione said, trying to appeal to Ginny. She could see how worried she was at the mention of the Markers, and Hermione suddenly using magic did not make things well.
Ginny looked at Hermione on the floor, giving a sigh, and offering her hand to help her up. Hermione stood, and Ginny continued into the kitchen, where she took the broken tea pot, and threw the shards into the rubbish bin.
‘I’m sorry Hermione, I’ve just been living in fear for so long, and hearing about Neville and you showing up all of a sudden-‘
‘I know, I’m sorry to put all this on you at once, but thank you Ginny. And I’m sorry about the tea pot, I don’t even know why I did it.’
‘It’s alright Hermione, sometimes I even find myself swishing my hand thinking there’s still a . . . a wand there.’
The two friends talked about what they had been up to, and what was going on with people they knew. Ginny was very interested in hearing about Neville, as they were getting serious when Hogwarts was attacked, and the thoughts of Neville made Hermione again worry about him.
‘So is there a man in your life now Hermione?’ Ginny asked innocently.
‘No, I couldn’t, even if I wanted to’ Hermione answered straightforwardly. Loosing the two men she cared about the most just made it impossible for her to think of seeing another man.
‘Did you hear about the Old Ministry?’ Ginny asked, Hermione’s fingers beginning to tingle with fear.
‘No, what happened?’
‘It was on the wireless that it was blown up for reconstruction’ Ginny told.
‘Reconstruction?’ Hermione questioned, trying not to look too guilty of knowing the truth, that a masked man who had come to her in the middle of the night actually destroyed the Old Ministry right in front of her.
‘I know, doesn’t make sense. If you’re using . . . you know, you wouldn’t need to blow the whole thing up to reconstruct it.’ Hermione remained quiet about the truth of it, and simply nodded thoughtfully.
The two of them talked some more in the sitting room, until a knock came at the door, and both of them became nervous. Ginny mentioned she received few visitors, so the idea of two in one day made Hermione think the worse.
Ginny got up, and walked slowly across the room towards the door, while Hermione went over and instinctively reached for her wand. Could someone have followed her to Ginny’s?
The door was opened slightly, and Ginny was conversing with whoever was outside. She smiled back at Hermione, and opened the door to let the person inside.
‘Hello there Hermione! Wonderful seein’ you got to yer friends house’ the old man spoke happily.
‘Archibald? Um, my name is Mary, not whatever you said’ Hermione said, Ginny looking at the old man funnily.
‘Archibald? What kind of name is that?’
‘What, remember Uncle Archie? He was a crazy old guy, and I thought I looked like him’ Archibald explained, Hermione becoming exceedingly confused.
‘What’s going on?’ she asked, looking from Archibald to Ginny.
‘Oh, you’ll be findin’ out in a few minutes there lassy’ Archibald said, giving Hermione a wink while Ginny rolled her eyes.
‘Stop talking like that, and go upstairs and get changed.’ Archibald bowed to the two ladies, and went upstairs with surprising speed.
‘Git’ Ginny commented.
‘Ginny, how do you know him?’ Hermione asked quickly, looking out the window to see the tiny red car sitting in front of the house.
‘Why did you say your name is Mary? Did you change it? You shouldn’t, Hermione is nice.’
‘Ginny, he gave me a ride here, who is he?’
‘He’s someone who knows you’re not “Mary”’ a familiar voice called from the staircase. Hermione turned, and her jaw dropped as she began to laugh.
‘Fred!’ Hermione yelled, running up and giving the tall red head a monster hug.
‘Nice to see you too there Hermione’ Fred responded. Hermione hugged him for a moment longer, before stepping back and giving him a smack across the shoulder.
‘Why didn’t you tell me who you were when you picked me up, and why were you changed? Did you use Polyjuice Potion?’
‘Well, to be honest, I wasn’t sure you were you. That is, until you took your wand out. Then I knew easily. As to the potion, when I travel out of the town, it’s sometimes needed to change up how I look. The potion is really the only thing we make that is . . . you know.’ Ginny noticed one things Fred said however, and was not happy.
‘You took your wand out in public!’ Ginny yelled, Fred and Hermione shushing her voice, worried about eavesdroppers that did not exist.
‘It wasn’t in public, we were in the car. Just the way he was talking to me, it made me nervous.’
‘Wonderful Fred, make a woman we haven’t seen in years feel nervous.’ George was trying to look innocent.
‘I didn’t do anything! I was nice, I brought her here’ Fred attested.
‘Don’t worry Gin, he was alright. It’s just so nice to see you, last time I saw you-‘
‘I know, bad with the burns, and my arm. It’s still sorta messed, but I’m alright.’
Now three, they all sat down and talked about their lives. Fred was so happy to hear Neville was alive, and expressed interest in having him up to King’s Lynn sometime to catch up.
Fred, since the time of the fall, had learned how to do some Muggle farming, and worked on a nearby farm. They were long hours, and hard work, but it paid well, and kept him low on the radar. He made trips to Peterborough and Cambridge every once in a while to get news on things, and to see one or two people he knew.
Ginny in the meantime worked at the restaurant at the corner. One of the owners was a wizard, and understood Ginny’s need to keep low. He helped out with finding their house, called Rose Abbey, and getting settled in without using magic. They both attested to having their wands put away in safe places, but that they had not even looked at them in years.
Turning on her mother’s old Wizard’s Wireless Network, Ginny sat back down and listened quietly. She kept a few items of her mothers’, the wireless being one, having many memories of sitting around the Burrow and listening as her mother braided her hair.
By now the Sun was beginning to set, and Ginny was about to get supper ready for the three of them. The two Weasley’s had no troubles having Hermione stay there for a few days.
‘Coming up next, the ecstatic comedy styling of Bulbus the Bumble, but first this word’ came from the wireless in a high pitched woman’s voice.
‘Bulbus isn’t that bad I think, he has his moments’ Fred commented.
‘Could you turn that off please Fred? And put on that Muggle television so we can hear the news’ Ginny asked as she started getting things ready. Hermione went over and began to help her, but Ginny insisted on doing it herself. Hermione instead settled for making the table ready.
Turning the wireless off, and sadly missing Bulbus, Fred turned on the Muggle television, and turned the dial to channel six, which showed a commercial for a furniture store.
‘You watch the news?’ Hermione asked Ginny.
‘Mostly to see what the government is doing, and if anyone we know has been found.’
‘Tonight on News Six’ a female anchor woman started, ‘a fire rips through the non-quarantined zone outside Exeter, killing dozens, while-‘
‘Bloody terrible news they have on this Muggle television’ Ginny commented as the news reports continued.
‘-killing four, while the driver escaped. Police desc—shhhhhhhh‘ the anchor woman said, being cut off and the screen turning blank.
‘What’s going on?’ Ginny asked.
‘Who knows with these infernal Muggle machines’ Fred responded, getting up and smashing the television.
‘That won’t help you know’ Hermione insisted.
‘Oh, it will don’t-ah, here we go. What in the-?’ Fred wondered, looking at the screen.
‘Good evening England’ a deep, calm voice sounded. The words came to Hermione's ears, and her face grew cold as she turned towards the television.
‘Who is that?’ Ginny asked, glancing without much worry.
‘V’ Hermione whispered.
‘Who?’ Ginny asked again, Hermione not hearing her as she walked out of the kitchen and into the sitting room, slowly sitting down as she watched the ivory mask of Guy Fawkes on the screen.
‘Allow me to first I apologize for taking time from your busy lives, and interrupting the tranquility and safety of the everyday and familiar’ V continued on the screen in his deep voice.
‘Who is this guy?’ Fred asked, Hermione shushing him quickly, and nudging him out of the way.
‘I like many of you enjoy the comforts of the everyday. But unlike many other days of commemoration that pass by, those associated usually with the triumph of a glorified battle or the death of a noble hero, and marked by a quaint holiday—the spirit of this day, like many of those before, has been lost to time and history and is no longer remembered as it should.
‘So it is on this November the fifth, a day lost to time and the minds of the people, that I thought we could take pause from our routine of the everyday to sit to have a nice chat.
‘What is this guy-‘ Ginny started.
‘Shhh!’ both Fred and Hermione spoke, their eyes both glued to the screen, Ginny soon following suit.
‘There are some of course, who do not wish this little conversation to happen. Believe me when I say there are orders being shouted and men with guns and other more terrible items that the world would dare not know of will soon be here.
‘Why? Because while the force of law has been used to squash conversation, words have maintained their power to those who will listen; words are the means to understanding and the illumination of truth to us all. And that truth is—there is something is terribly wrong with this country.’
At this point, Fred, Hermione, and Ginny all looked at each other.
‘He’s a wizard’ George stated, everyone looking back at the screen.
‘Now mired in cruelty and oppression, where once you had the freedom and power to speak and do as you please, you are now bound by sensors, rules, and supervision compelling your conformity and demanding your submission. Many of you whom years before lived openly and in harmony with the world now live in fear and hide yourselves away from the world.
‘Who brought this upon us? How did it happen? Believe me pour Britons, there are those more accountable than others, and they will be held to justice. But again, to bring forth the truth, if you seek the guilty, you need only look into a mirror.’
‘I know why you did it, you were all afraid. With war raging and thousands dying, disease running rampant, and strange happenings occurring all over the world, who wouldn’t be afraid of the outside world? People gave up on hope, and ran into the dark places of their minds and of the world in hopes of disappearing from the terror that struck our nation.
‘Those who remained, corrupted by the violence and destruction, and coerced by fear and panic, let go their common sense and looked to the now Lord Malfoy, and the Dark Lord of Britain. Lord Malfoy promised you peace and stability, asking only for your silent obedience and consent in return.
‘Last night I sought to end that silence.
‘Last night, I destroyed the Old Ministry to remind you, and this country what has faded in our minds, and has been forgotten into history and the shadows.
‘It was him! I knew it wasn’t a reconstruction!’ Ginny spouted, Fred and Hermione shushing her.
‘More than four hundred years ago, one man; one great citizen sought to ingrain the fifth of November in our hearts and minds forever. He wanted to remind us and make us remember that freedom, truth, and justice are superior to just mere words, but are perspectives to see the world through.
‘If you are blinded by the lies pulled over your eyes, and the crimes of this government are unnoticed by you, then there are no reasons for you to denote this date, and I suggest you continue in your everyday routine.
‘But if you have seen all that I have seen, felt as I have felt, and seek what I also seek, then I ask all of you to come and stand beside me, one year from now, outside the gates of Parliament. United together, with our conviction and freedom, we shall give them a fifth of November that history, and they, will never, ever forget!’
The screen suddenly turned black, embossed with the letter V, and all three inside the small house looked at each other in awe.
They knew that this was the beginning of something big.
A/N - Please of course review and let me know what your thoughts are towards my story, in such things perhaps as where it is headed, the plot and how it's moving along, the characters, possible ideas for improvement, etc.
Rose Abbey - I named it this, as King's Lynn (which is an actual place in England), is near Leicester, where the War of the Roses was ended.
Archibald Weirman - Not so much his name (which was made off the top of my head), his character is meant to incorporate many aspects of people that Hermione relates to, including her grandfather with his appearance, Hagrid with the way he speaks (though she doesn't acknowledge this), Gary the security guard from her work with the comment of her being "too pretty" to be a criminal, and of course Fred actually being him.
Chapter 5: The Prisoner
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Closing the door behind him, Captain Shoemaker took a sip of his coffee very quickly, and came to his desk. Joe was already there talking on the phone with someone who—by the manner of his responses—was not too happy.
‘Did you see it?’ Joe asked the Captain.
‘Yes, as did millions of other unfortunate Britons.’
‘You know already Stewart that the government is going charge us with finding this “V” fellow?’ Joe stated worriedly.
‘Oh com’on, he’s a terrorist. He’s not in our jurisdiction. The government will come down hard on the anti-terrorist department, not ours. Our job is to find this Granger girl’ Stewart insisted.
Stewart honestly hoped that the government would not place this “V” case on him. The Lord was already unhappy at his department’s lack of leads. The Markers supposedly found someone with connections to Granger, but Stewart was barred to meet with this person and ask questions.
But this “V” case would just cause a lot of troubles. Having already put his message on the television, overriding the broadcasts, the Lord would demand quick and drastic action, something that would be expected more from Markers. Stewart liked to investigate and understand the situation before taking action—something that the Lord was not pleased with in the last while.
‘Still, the Lord might want us to ditch the Granger case and focus on this V one. It has everyone up in a muck, plus we haven’t gotten far with Granger’ Joe explained, starting some work on the computer.
‘Yes, well, it doesn’t help that we haven’t been able to see that suspect.’
‘Perhaps you should try to ask the Markers again’ Joe suggested, as he had many times before. Stewart gave a sigh.
‘You know as I do that they won’t change. God knows whether the suspect is even alive anymore. Probably put away in a black bag never to be seen again.’
Just then, Stewart’s phone rang, and Joe stopped typing. Stewart gave him an apprehensive look, then picked up the phone slowly.
‘Captain Stewart, this is Conall Proccult from the Council. The Dark Lord has summoned a meeting to begin in twenty minutes, and you are to attend’ the voice on the phone said.
‘Twenty minutes! But I’m on the other side of town!’ Stewart bellowed to the Director of the Broadband Network.
‘I know Stewart, I know. Just hurry over, and for Pete’s sake don’t be late!’ Conall replied, hanging up.
Stewart immediately got up, grabbed his coat, and ran for the door. Joe was pleading with him to say what was going on, but Stewart just kept running. He tried the lift, however it was up on the tenth floor, and he was on the fourth. He waited to see if it was coming down, but annoyingly the number went to eleven, and he resolved to run down the stairs.
His brow was sweaty, and his hands slipped on the railing as he bolted down the stairs. He liked the old Metro Headquarters on Victoria Street and his old office, as it was on the second floor and easy to get to. Since the merger of the Metro and City police, the new headquarters—nicknamed the Vault, as all the walls were made of metal siding—he never really liked his new office. He liked having his own office, with window and near the ground. Not to say he did not like Joe, he was a good partner, but there was some calm in having your own place to work alone.
As he stumbled down the last stairs, he finally made it to the underground garage. He gave an angry groan when he opened the door, seeing the lift that was up on eleven now emptying several people in front of him in the garage, and he pushed his way through the tiny throng of people who were lazily leaving said lift. He received many angry comments from the people about learning some manners and watching where he was going, but he let them fuel his rage at the elevator and having already wasted five of his precious twenty minutes.
He got in his car, and floored the accelerator. He prayed that traffic would not be terrible, but just getting out of the garage took another five minutes, with cars slowly exiting. One woman continued to talk to the attendant after showing her parking badge, and Stewart resolved to wail on his horn and shout. Of course the woman cursed at him to show more respect, and he delightfully responded with several hand gestures and more shouting. Needless to say that the attendant told him much the same words as the woman and the people from the lift did about manners.
Checking the clock and dodging as much traffic that he could, he finally arrived at the government buildings. He was, of course, ten minutes late. It was a miracle he wasn’t thirty, but he quickly parked his car, and ran out towards the front entrance. He was in such a hurry, he did not even bother to make sure the doors were locked, which was part of his routine, since it was a department car. Fear of being punished by the Dark Lord was making him forget.
Running up and getting the lift to the upper levels, he tried desperately to fix his hair and his tie as the lift rose. He wished there was a mirror, but there was not, so he resolved to try and use the semi-reflective surface of the number console.
Reaching level twenty-one, he came out and briskly walked towards the council room. He had to go through numerous security checks by both law enforcement and Markers, which slowed him down more, but he finally got into the council chambers. By this time however, the Dark Lord was already hearing from members of the council. Trying to make a quiet entrance would be impossible.
‘Then, my Lord, he was able to override the signal and broadcast. Our best signal specialists are trying to resolve the error and pinpoint the signal’s whereabouts, however the shortness of the transmission will make it difficult’ Conall spoke quietly, hoping not to incur the Lord’s wrath. Lucky for him, Stewart was just taking his seat.
‘Shhhhhoemaker’ the Dark Lord spoke from the screen, hissing menacingly.
‘Apologies, My Lord. I was detained by traffic’ he explained.
‘Traffic is no excuse Shoemaker. Neither is incompetence. You are already failing me with this Granger girl, do not make me any more disappointed’ the Dark Lord warned. Stewart knew that this was a warning that he was on his last chance. Normally, this would be his first chance, but with the Dark Lord, your first was always your last.
‘I won’t My Lord. The Markers have a suspect who may have information that can help our case, however I have been unable to contact this suspect’ Stewart voiced carefully. He wanted the Dark Lord to understand that he was being impeded by the Markers, but at the same time, not make an enemy of Mr. Malfoy, Head of Markman for London Proper.
Unfortunately, it was not that easy for Stewart. The Dark Lord seemed to think for a moment on the point, while Mr. Malfoy gave an evil sneer at Stewart. He was clearly not pleased by what he said.
‘Isss . . . this true Malfoy?’ the dark figure asked, his red eyes looking towards the pale-faced man from the large screen.
‘Longbottom is being questioned, yes. We will soon know everything. I don’t want any . . . Muggle, traipsing around’ he answered, giving a look of what Stewart could only call disgust towards him. Stewart heard some of the council call people “Muggles” before. It didn’t sound as bad as being a “Mudblood” like they called the Granger woman, but “Muggles,” whatever they were, did not command much respect to most of the council. Having Mr. Malfoy call him one, Stewart was done with trying to keep Mr. Malfoy on his good side.
‘My Lord’ Stewart spoke up, not caring how Mr. Malfoy responded, ‘this witness has information on Granger. He is our only lead on where she may be, and I must be allowed to see him.’
‘Be silent Shoemaker, before I make you silent’ the Dark Lord ordered harshly. Stewart tried to not even breathe, not wishing to enrage the Lord more than he already was.
The Dark Lord took a long, hissing breath, whispering something in some foul sounding language, before opening his red eyes again.
‘Malfoy, you will allow Shoemaker to speak to Longbottom. Keep a close eye on both, and if Longbottom lets anything slip, silence him . . . permanently.’
‘Yes, My Lord’ Malfoy responded obediently.
‘And Shoemaker’ the Dark Lord added, Stewart looking up. ‘Since you seem so eager to prove yourself, you will find this “V”, and bring him to me. Understood?’ At this, Malfoy spoke up in defiance.
‘My Lord, with all respect, Markers should look-‘
Suddenly, Malfoy became silent. Stewart looked over, and found Malfoy trying to mouth the words, but nothing coming out. It was as if someone hit the mute button on the man. Stewart did not mind it actually.
‘You are already behind in trying to find who killed Dolohov. Unless you wish never to speak again, you will do what I say and not question my plans’ the Dark Lord insisted, waving his hand, finally some sound emanating from Malfoy. Stewart could not explain what happened, but did not bother to try to understand. His job told him enough not to question odd things like that, especially in this room.
‘Yes, My Lord’ Malfoy answered quietly, taking his seat slowly.
‘Wormtail’ the Dark Lord summoned, a rat-like man with dirty clothes looking up from his end of the table. ‘You will accompany Shoemaker to the Marker Offices. Make sure he arrives, and understands the situation.’
‘Yes, My Lord. Whatever you command’ he groveled, Stewart giving a grimace over the news. Stewart never thought this Wormtail fellow deserved to be on the council. He looked terrible, he gave the strangest looks at people, and he smelled like a garbage dump. Not exactly the company you would desire.
‘Proccult’ the Dark Lord then addressed. ‘Broadcast about this man and the need to combat against such acts and messages. Connect this “V” to murders and crime. I want him hated by Muggles by the end of the week.’ Stewart knew this would be a daunting task, considering it was already Thursday. Many times the Dark Lord called the general public as “Muggles,” which again made it difficult for Stewart to define who “Muggles” actually were.
‘Of course My Lord’ Proccult responded confidently. ‘News on the Broadband is already on about his terrorist activities, and possible links to the King’s Cross Massacre last year.’
‘Good, good. You are doing me well Proccult’ the Dark Lord praised, which Stewart knew was rare. Proccult knew how to handle it, and merely nodded.
‘Bellatrix, stay. The rest of you, leave us.’
Everyone got up, and left the room quietly. Such a short meeting, Stewart was upset about rushing so much. However he got what he wanted, even if it was chaperoned by a disgusting man.
The door closing, Bella cast a Silencing Charm on the room, and looked back at the Dark Lord.
‘Yes, My Lord?’ she asked devotedly.
‘What do you make of this Muggle, Shoemaker?’ Voldemort asked. Bella was suddenly overwhelmed at the Dark Lord asking for her opinion, but she tried to sound normal.
‘He is digging. He knows something, and if needed, he may need to be killed’ Bella stated, looking up carefully at the Dark Lord for a response. Voldemort waited for a moment, before speaking.
‘He knows we are not filthy Muggles. He does not know exactly what we are, but he must not be allowed to find out. You will follow him, see what he is doing. Kill him if he learns too much.’
‘Of course, My Lord’ Bella responded.
Meanwhile outside, Stewart was trying to keep Wormtail behind him so he would not have to walk into his smell. The closest thing he could attribute Wormtail’s smell to was that of an unclean hamster cage.
‘So what do you know of Granger so far?’ Wormtail asked as they exited the building.
‘Not much, unfortunately. Not much information on the computer databases’ Stewart spoke quickly. He did not want to get into a conversation with this “Wormtail” fellow.
‘Date basics?’ Wormtail asked, Stewart rolling his eyes. Not only was he fat, dirty, and smelly; he was also stupid.
‘No, databases. You know, computers?’ Stewart tried to reason. Wormtail looked like he was either a little confused or totally confused.
‘Never mind’ Stewart added, reaching his car.
He put his key into the lock, but found it was already open. He must have forgotten to lock it in his rush. Worry entered his mind when he realized police records and information about Granger was in the car. He immediately opened the car door, and began checking all the files and information.
Stewart sighed in relief; everything was there, and nothing had been stolen. Wormtail meanwhile took a seat on the other side of the car, adjusting his rump and making the car sway.
‘Here, sat on this’ he mentioned, handing over a file. Stewart closed the car door, and took hold of the file. He looked at it, and realized this was not his—at least not before. He opened it up, and a note was inside.
All the world is a stage,
And all the men and women merely players.
They have their exits and entrances;
Each man in his time plays many parts.*
Your entrance comes soon my dear friend,
Into a world you do not know.
Ask dear Neville where Hermione is;
Tell him V has sent you.
Ask quickly and do not tell anyone his answer,
You must fight for freedom and truth.
You are on Granger’s side;
Beware of Voldemort.
Stewart quickly snapped the file shut, and was mouthing the words of the sentences. This letter was from V, which means he was right there, in front of the government buildings themselves!
But how did this terrorist know all this information? He knew who Granger was, which meant they were connected. This was something that did not make Stewart happy, but it did explain why the Dark Lord put him on both cases. He must think that they are working against the government together in some way.
Also, who is this Neville? Is he this Longbottom fellow he was about to go meet? And what is this Voldemort that he has to watch out for? It sounded like a type of French cheese, but was it a building, a place, a person?
‘Detective?’ Wormtail questioned, looking at him with a queer look.
‘Oh, yes, sorry. Thank you for my file. Let’s get going’ Stewart insisted, stowing the file underneath his seat. He did not want Wormtail to read that note, as it could make it look like he was in league with this V fellow. Not something he needed at the moment.
Driving off, the two quickly made it to the Marker Offices. They were rather obscure buildings, nestled in the middle of a market. It was as if they were placed there so they would not be noticed by most people. It worked to, as market goers simply walked past the buildings as if they were not there. It was peculiar, but again, Stewart was used to strangeness.
Wormtail led the way, and Stewart quickly followed. He had never been into the Marker Offices, and he hoped not to be in for too much of a surprise.
Opening the front door, the building inside looked nothing like that of the outside. The outside looked drab, fairly normal compared to the rest of the block. On the inside however, the walls were made of aged stone, and the floor of polished black marble. Chandeliers lit the hallway through which they walked, which looked much wider than the width of the building from the outside. The ceiling was vaulted, and all along the sides, of all things, dozens of fireplaces stood. Stewart guessed it was an old building built before furnaces were invented.
Reaching a sort of entrance desk, a gloomy looking man looked over Wormtail with disgust, and then over Stewart with a slight oddness.
‘Name and’ he added with another look over Wormtail, ‘purpose.’
‘The Dark Lord has ordered us from the Council, to see Longbottom’ Wormtail told the hallow-faced man. He looked down at a sheet, and nodded, waving the two of them forward with a grunt. Wormtail ushered Stewart forward, and the two began towards a lift.
So many strange looking people were walking through the halls, Stewart kept stopping to see if his eyes were working properly. He was used to seeing strange things—like Malfoy suddenly put on mute, or that Granger woman vanishing—but some things he glanced at along this trip were beyond those. Getting a tug from Wormtail—who seemed to know his way around this labyrinth—Stewart swore he saw a man emerge from a green flame in a fireplace without catching fire. Men and woman, all looking quite pale and unhealthy, were walking around in dark robes like those worn at graduation ceremonies. He wondered for a moment if the building was a school for zombies.
Finally going on one more lift ride, Stewart standing out in his white shirt and blue tie from all the black cloaks of the other passengers, he was pulled from the lift by Wormtail. He found himself in a very dark chamber, with at least a dozen doors leading off in all directions. One man sat behind a desk with only two very ancient candles lighting all the masses of paperwork on top. Clearly, to Stewart, they needed to upgrade this department. Having lights and a computer would definitely improve the working conditions.
‘Name’ the man behind the desk asked gruffly.
‘Peter Pettigrew, Council Advisor’ Wormtail spoke. Now Stewart realized that “Wormtail” was not his actually name. It surprised him a bit.
‘Name’ the man asked again, giving a glance at Stewart.
‘Oh, um, Stewart Shoemaker, Captain, London Police.’
Just then one of the side doors opened, and the dull grey eyes of Mr. Malfoy came upon Stewart. He smirked in his usual snide manner, and closed the door behind him.
‘These . . . people, are with me Driscoll’ Malfoy informed the man behind the desk. He did not reply, but rather continued with his stacks of paper work.
‘The Dark Lord wants you to see Longbottom, or what’s left of him anyway. This way’ Malfoy said, motioning towards the door he just came out of. Mr. Malfoy gave a look of disgust at Wormtail, and Stewart followed him.
Having Mr. Malfoy behind him did not improve his confidence in this strange building. It reminded him of old horror movies, the ones where the characters were stuck in a haunted house. They all looked the same: dark, menacing, and full of the strangest sounds and echoes.
Wormtail turned down a corridor, but just as Stewart was going to turn, Malfoy brushed him aside callously.
‘Where are you going you idiot?’ he questioned Wormtail, who turned around in a curious rat-like manner.
‘Yes, well, your thinking isn’t your strong point now is it Wormtail?’ Malfoy remarked snidely, turning and continuing down the hall. ‘Now being a worthless piece of half-blood filth, you perform admirably, don’t you Wormtail?’
Stewart looked to Wormtail behind him, but he remained silent. Though again Stewart had no idea what Malfoy called Wormtail, he knew well enough to know it was not something pleasant.
Malfoy seemed unhappy with the lack of response, and stopped as they moved down a right corridor, and turned. The darkness of the hallway, only lit by the odd torch light, and the darkness of Malfoy’s robes made it difficult to notice he stopped.
‘Well Wormtail?’ Malfoy asked.
‘I am only to lead Shoemaker to-‘
‘I don’t care Wormtail, answer my question’ Malfoy put maliciously. Wormtail looked to his feet with some distain and anger, and looked up again.
‘I . . . am’ he whispered, still looking away.
‘What was that Wormtail?’ Malfoy asked, Stewart getting impatient.
‘Are we going to-‘
‘Be silent you Muggle filth! You are in my world now, and you will obey me or else’ Malfoy threatened, brandishing what appeared to be a wooden stick, something like a magician’s wand. Stewart was going to laugh for a moment, wondering how a stick could intimidate him, but he had to remember he was in the Marker Offices, and that he was powerless here. He only had one thing to work with.
‘The Dark Lord will be quite displeased to hear if you did not cooperate with my investigation’ Stewart threatened. He had no power himself, but the Dark Lord wanted his investigation to succeed. To hear that Malfoy disobeyed the Dark Lord’s orders after already getting him mad, might just cause Mr. Malfoy to be posted to the front desk.
Malfoy glared at Stewart with his dull grey eyes, glanced at Wormtail, and grunted as he turned and continued down the hallway at a quick pace. Stewart did not bother to look at Wormtail, and merely followed.
Turning down a final corridor, where several heavy wooden doors went off, Malfoy stopped in front of the last one, and waved his wooden stick in front. Somehow there was a click of a lock, and he opened the heavy door slowly.
The stench from the cell hit Stewart like a wall. He was almost overpowered by the repulsive smell, and came close to being sick to his stomach. Luckily, he was able to take a moment to gain his bearings, and looked inside.
There was a small cell, lined with stone. The ceiling was at least twenty feet high, and from the one torch bracketed on the far wall, Stewart could make a crumpled form in one of the corners.
‘Rennervate’ Malfoy spoke, pointing his stick at the corner. Stewart wondered if that was a command or something. He was beginning to question Malfoy’s sanity, when suddenly the pile in the corner began to move. It was then he realized that the pile was actually a person. The face of a man looked up from the corner, and Stewart stepped back.
‘My God’ Stewart mumbled.
The man in the corner had gashes all across his face. Most were still bleeding, telling Stewart he had just been tortured. His hair was matted in blood, and he looked up at them with only one eye. Stewart did not know if it was because the other was injured, the blood coming from his head bothered it, or he only had one eye.
‘Ask your questions Shoemaker’ Malfoy demanded. Stewart continued to stare at the horribly disfigured man in front of him on the floor, until he suddenly heard Malfoy’s words. He looked at Malfoy with utter disbelief.
‘What have you done to this man? What in God’s name have you done!’
‘Oh shut up Shoemaker! If you will not ask your questions, then get out’ Malfoy argued, pointing to the door.
Stewart looked at Malfoy, then at the man on the floor—who’s expression, if readable, was far off and distant—and then to Wormtail, who was staring at the man on the floor. Stewart knew he had to ask his questions, but the letter V had left for him was now coming back to him. He had to ask him about Granger and where she could be, and he had to do it alone.
‘Alright, out, both of you!’ Malfoy ordered.
‘No, I will ask my questions, and you will leave me alone with this man’ Stewart told Malfoy, his expression growing mad.
‘You will not order me!’
‘You will leave me with this man, or suffer the consequences from the Dark Lord!’ Stewart shouted, his voice echoing down the hallway.
Malfoy looked appalled by such words. He looked at the man on the floor, then Wormtail, and realized he had no choice. He did not fear Stewart, but he did the Dark Lord.
‘Five minutes, then you are finished!’ Malfoy bellowed. He turned, his cloak swaying behind him as he walked out the doorway. Wormtail looked at Stewart questioningly, and Stewart told him to leave as well. He gave a glance at the man in the corner, frowned, and left quietly, shutting the door behind him.
Stewart turned, and looked at the man in the corner for a moment. One eye looked up at him faintly, and he took a step forward. The man cringed, and Stewart tried to reassure him.
‘Don’t worry, I won’t hurt you. My name is Captain Shoemak-‘ he started, noticing the eye of the man flickering up at him.
‘My name is Stewart. I need to find Miss Granger, can you tell me where she is?’
The man looked at him for a moment, then turned his glance away off to the stones. Stewart could not fathom what his mind was going through. He could have been tortured for days, weeks even.
Stewart sighed, then remembered more of what the letter said. He took a guess, and hoped he was correct.
‘Neville’ he whispered, the eye snapping to him. This broken man was indeed Neville Longbottom. ‘V sent me. He left me note, telling me to come and meet you. He said you would know where Hermione is. Please, tell me.’
Neville looked at Stewart for moment, before closing his eye and breathing.
‘vuh- . . .vuh- . . . V sent you?’ he murmured with a scratchy voice. Stewart looked behind him to be reassured the door was closed, and he nodded.
‘Th- . . . thank . . . Merlin’ he whispered, Stewart not understanding. ‘She . . . she’s at . . . ‘
‘Yes? Please tell me Neville.’ Neville’s breathing was shallow, and Stewart leaned forward to try and hear.
‘King’s Lynn’ Neville whispered, reaching up slowly and placing a frail hand on Stewart’s shoulder. Stewart looked at him, and could see the pain he was in from the act.
‘Help . . . help her. You must . . . fight Voldemort . . .’
‘Who is Voldy-more? Why should I help her?’ Stewart asked hastily. His time was running thin.
Behind them, Stewart could hear the door being unlocked, and at this Neville pulled him closer.
‘We are . . . wizards!’
He gave something to Stewart quickly, and Stewart put it in his pocket before realizing what it was. Malfoy came bounding into the cell, and pulled Stewart up from behind.
‘That is enough you Muggle filth! You have had your time, now get out while you can!’ Malfoy yelled. Stewart looked at Neville on the floor. He still could not believe the last statement he said, it had to be a joke. Unfortunately he did not have time to process the information.
‘Out!’ Malfoy fumed, reaching for his waist. Stewart feared he had a gun, and backed away. Wormtail ushered him out of the cell quickly. Stewart took one last glance at Neville on the floor, before being brought down the corridor.
He had so many questions to ask, but he had no choice. Wormtail was pushing him along, but stopped suddenly when a bright green light came from Neville’s cell. Wormtail stopped pushing, and both of them turned to see Malfoy exiting the cell with a smirk.
‘I said out Wormtail. Unless you want to end up like Longbottom . . .’ he threatened. Wormtail continued to push Stewart out, and the two exited the Marker Offices as fast as possible. Stewart was easily aware that Wormtail was more frightened of Malfoy than he was.
Once outside in the market place, they quickly walked to Stewart’s car, and sat down. Wormtail did not say a word, and Stewart looked at the dash in thought.
‘He’s dead, isn’t he?’ Stewart asked, glancing at Wormtail. Wormtail was still looking down, but he nodded. He looked sad about what happened, which surprised Stewart a bit. Wormtail was a Council Member, and he was always sniveling and contriving, never really remorseful.
‘Shall I take you back to the Council Chambers?’ Stewart asked. Wormtail glanced at him for a moment, before shaking his head.
‘No, I will go myself’ he answered, getting out of the car without another word. Stewart accepted this, and watched him walk away into the market.
Stewart drove his car out of the market, and down a side street. He stopped, parked his car, and took out the file from underneath his seat. Rereading the note, he pondered on what it all meant.
Neville told him he had to fight Voldemort, so that made sense now with V’s warning. Stewart still had no idea what Voldemort was, but being a person or organization made the most sense now.
If V says that he’s on Granger’s side, is that why Neville asked him to help her? He still had no idea why the Marker’s really wanted Granger, except that she supposedly killed two Markers. This never really made sense to Stewart though, and it was becoming more and more unrealistic.
And what was this “we are wizards”? Did he actually mean magicians? Why did it matter? It looked like a magician’s school, though a bit darker than he expected. Most magicians he saw were, yes, corny, but pretty lively and bright. The people he saw, if they were magicians, where definitely not the life of the party.
But this made no sense. Markers were dark, they were mysterious, and they deadly. He had seen what looked like a magic wand that Malfoy had, but it was made of wood. Were magicians’ wands not made of plastic?
It was giving Stewart a headache trying to make heads or tails of it. He was glad at least he got a location for Granger: King’s Lynn. He had to keep the place a secret, not just because this V told him so. V was a terrorist, and he could not be trusted—even if his advice helped with Neville. He had to keep Granger’s location a secret so that the Markers would not take over and black bag her, and do what they did to Neville.
Remembering Neville’s last glance, he suddenly remembered that he had something in his pocket. He reached in, and took out what Neville had given him.
It was a cat collar, with the name “Crookshanks” on it.
A/N - So there you are folks! Another chapter, and this one starts off some new plotlines and twists. I hope you're enjoying it so far, 'cause it's going to get much more involved. And I do apologize that we did not see Hermione or V in this chapter, but they'll make appearances in the next one! In the meantime, please review and let me know your thoughts!
Conall Proccult - Conall = Gaelic: strong wolf, Proccult = Latin: prope: closely, occultus: hidden (Conall Proccult = A strong wolf closely hidden)
Driscoll - From Eirdirsceol may mean "messenger" in Gaelic
*Quote from As You Like It, Act II, Scene VII
Chapter 6: The Resistance
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A/N - So, here is the next chapter! I do hope I hear from more of you this time around, as the last chapter only got 5 reviews. I need to hear from you folks what you think!
As for this chapter, it has been written a little differently than I originally planned, but I think it works well. It dives more into the wizarding world and what's going on there, as well as explains some more of the past. The ending was going to be different, but you be the judge. :)
‘What was that all about?’ Ginny asked, looking at Fred and Hermione.
Hermione couldn’t believe it; V had just hijacked the television, and broadcasted to the entire nation! How could this be the same man that saved her in that alley only the week before?
‘Could it be the message we were waiting for?’ Fred wondered.
‘What message?’ Hermione asked swiftly, looking at both the Weasley’s. Ginny had gotten up, and was pacing around quickly. She had already turned off the television, which had returned to the anchor discussing how a terrorist, named V, had taken over the broadcast by unknown means.
‘No, it can’t be, the Resistance wouldn’t do something this . . . big’ Ginny commented, Hermione getting frustrated with the lack of answers from Ginny or Fred.
‘What- what are you talking about? What resistance?!’ Hermione said aggressively.
‘The Resistance was a wizard underground that worked against You-Know-Who’s government. It was really active in the first few months, but the last year or so, it’s just been silent. We’ve kept in touch with a couple of resistance members, but it’s essentially dead’ Fred explained dejectly, Ginny coming back and sitting down next to Hermione.
‘In the last meeting of the Resistance, before the Burrow was destroyed, everyone agreed to keep away until a message was sent to everyone’ Ginny added, looking again at the television.
‘But it can’t be that, V didn’t even mention this resistance’ Hermione offered.
‘It could be someone from the Resistance though, why else would they hide their identity like that? And this guy did talk about rising up against the government, which the Resistance was founded on’ Fred pointed out.
‘Why didn’t I hear about this before?’ Hermione asked.
‘You left as quickly as possible, which was the best thing for you. The Order, even as it was crumbling all around us, knew you could not stay in the north, and definitely not in the Wizarding world. Tonks ordered Seamus to take you away from the fires as fast as possible, while the Order tried to get as many other people away from the Death Eaters’ Ginny recounted.
‘So what did this Resistance do? Why isn’t it around anymore?’ Hermione questioned quickly, looking at Fred.
‘Well, people were getting rounded up and killed. Our meetings began to be attacked, and by the end it happened almost every time. The huge battle at the Ministry was devastating to the Resistance. You already know that the Order was basically destroyed trying to protect Hogwarts. The battle at the Ministry finished it off. Dad and Charlie died there, but Mum, George, and I got out, and formed the Resistance with whoever was left’ Fred described.
‘What happened to everyone else? There has to be some people left’ Hermione asked quietly, sad to hear that she was not around while her friends and—really—her family died without her there. She remembered hearing about the battle in the Ministry, but only months after it actually happened. She didn’t hear from Ginny until about year after Hogwarts had fallen, and even then she only heard where she lived, and that she was alive.
‘Well, like I said, there are a couple’ Fred reminded, ‘but most died or went into hiding. They killed Hagrid at Hogwarts, along with most of the staff who tried to protect the students as they fled into the countryside. Seamus got you out, and we’re not sure what happened to him and a bunch of other students and staff. Alastor died at Weather Hill, and that last attack at the Burrow basically crushed whatever was left of Resistance. They killed Mum, captured George, and last thing I saw, Kingsley was still fighting, as well as Tonks.’
‘So who are the people you know?’ Hermione asked.
‘Tonks is still alive. She lives not too far away, and occasionally stops in. She has had a really tough time with Remus’ death, but she still keeps going. She lost most of her Metamorphmagus skills, and she doesn’t use magic any more either. She works at a flower shop over in Norwich’ Ginny informed Hermione.
Hermione was so happy that Tonks had survived. She was always such an amazing person, both as a wizard and as a friend. She could still remember that one dinner they had where she kept changing her nose to make Ginny laugh.
‘The only other person we know survived was Aberforth Dumbledore. Last we heard of him, he was still running a pub—a Muggle pub—somewhere in London. We really haven’t heard much past that though. I think Tonks keeps in touch with him, right?’ Ginny asked Fred.
‘Yeah, I think so’ Fred answered. The room was silent for a moment as each person thought different things.
‘This broadcast though . . .’ Fred professed, shaking his finger at the blank television screen. ‘There’s something big going on. This V is a wizard, and if he has enough skill to take over the television like that, perhaps it’s the start of something.’
‘I think it’s just himself’ Hermione attested, Ginny looking at her with a queer glance.
‘Why would you say that?’
‘Well’ Hermione started, trying to decide how best to put this to her old friends. ‘The Markers are after me, because I know V.’
Ginny and Fred were quiet as they let the knowledge sink in. Hermione was getting anxious as the silence continued.
‘Well, I don’t know him exactly, but he saved me from some Markers after curfew, and he was the one who told me to leave London. He said that the Markers and police were getting closer, and would be coming for me. I had to leave to protect Neville.’
Still more silence filled the small cottage. Hermione was starting to wonder if telling Fred and Ginny was a good idea or not.
‘He saved you from Markers?’ Fred finally asked, taking a seat across from both Hermione and Ginny.
‘Yes, the night I was going to see Neville. It was after curfew-‘
‘What the hell were you doing out after curfew?’ Ginny raged, sounding like her late mother.
‘Ginny’ Fred begged to his sister, looking back at Hermione. ‘Continue.’
‘Well, two Markers took me, and he came and saved me from them.’
‘What, did he kill them?’ Fred asked.
‘I’m not sure, maybe. But he said he was not a Marker, not exactly, and that I knew him somehow from my past.’ At this, Ginny went into the kitchen for a moment, still in the conversation.
‘I still can’t believe you went out after curfew, how could you be that reckless?’ Ginny argued from across the room.
‘Look, I know it was stupid, but I wanted to see Neville! You would have done the same thing’ Hermione replied forcefully. She looked up at Ginny in the kitchen, and apologized for being so harsh with her response. She had to remember that Ginny only found out Neville was alive a few hours ago.
‘Well, with saving you, blowing up the Old Ministry, and now this broadcast . . . it’s obvious he’s on our side’ Fred equated, Hermione giving a bit of an odd look.
‘I’m not sure . . . I mean, he’s obviously helping me, but I don’t know if he’s necessarily on “our side”. He might be on his own side.’
‘Even still, we should talk to Tonks about all this. And it might be an idea to have Neville come up here too’ Fred suggested, Ginny sitting back down with a tea pot and some cups.
‘I still can’t believe he’s alive’ Ginny whispered.
‘We can call him tomorrow and have him come up. How did you get up here? I mean, tell me you didn’t walk across all those farms from London’ Fred asked with a smile.
‘No, there was only one way I could make it out of London. The police were looking for me, as well as Markers, so . . .’
‘Oh Hermione, please don’t tell me you-?’ Ginny asked, giving a pleading look. Hermione nodded, and Ginny became frustrated again.
‘How could you do that?! Ginny raged, putting her tea cup down forcefully.
‘Would you drop it Ginny? If Hermione used magic, then she did because there was no other choice. Would you rather she not have come?’ Fred asked, Ginny still in an uproar.
‘Of course not Fred, but what happens if they detected the Apparation? If you Apparated from Neville’s, then they may have traced it.’
Hermione’s blood suddenly froze in her veins. Ginny was right, they could have detected her Apparation. How could she be so blind not to notice something so important?
‘Oh God, what if they did? What if they went to Neville’s, and-‘ Hermione began, Fred motioning her to calm down.
‘Just relax, alright? We’ll give Neville’s place a ring from that infernal Muggle telephoany-‘
‘Telephone’ Hermione corrected.
‘Right, and we’ll see he’s perfectly fine. Then we can ask him to come up here, alright?’ Fred suggested. Hermione agreed, while Ginny remained quiet, and they went to the phone, which was next to the fridge.
Calling Neville’s home, Hermione took the phone and heard it ringing. The line picked up, and she heard someone breathe.
‘Hello?’ Neville asked, Hermione sighing instantly, and her blood coming back to its regular nice temperature.
‘Oh Neville, thank God you’re still there. I was so worried-‘
‘Don’t worry, I’m still here with Crookshanks. He’s having a fun time looking at my fish’ Neville explained. Hermione could hear a cat meow in the background.
‘That’s great Neville, really. I got to Ginny’s alright, and Fred’s here too!’
‘Great Hermione, just great. How long do you expect to be?’ Neville asked.
‘I’m not sure, but I was going to ask, do you want to come up here? After that broadcast V made, it may be an idea to leave London for a while.’
‘I’d love to come up there! Where are you?’ Hermione smiled at Fred and Ginny, giving them a thumbs up to let them know Neville was happy about coming up. Ginny gave a huge sigh, and Hermione could see her eyes watering in happiness.
‘I already told you, didn’t I?’ Hermione asked, smiling at Ginny’s reaction. She reverted away from the Mrs. Weasley pose she had earlier, and was now back to her normal happy and spunky self.
‘No, I don’t think you did. But just tell me, and I’ll be there in no time!’ Neville answered happily.
Hermione opened her mouth to answer, but stopped, staring at the wall across the kitchen. She was remembering the morning, and she remembered that she did tell Neville she was going to King’s Lynn. Perhaps Neville had forgotten, but in these times, she had to make sure.
‘I thought I told you over breakfast . . . don’t you remember those amazing crepes I made for you?’ she asked hesitantly.
‘Yes, I do, but I didn’t hear where you were going. Maybe I was caught up in those delicious crepes’ Neville answered with a chuckle, Hermione’s muscles tensing up. She hesitated again, Fred giving her a strange look, and she thought for a second.
‘Oh, um, sorry about that Neville. I’m in Middlesbrough, near Darlington. Just look for the residence for Mr. Archibald Weirman’ she explained, trying to sound convincing as Fred and Ginny looked on questioningly.
‘Thanks Hermione, I’ll be there as soon as I can. I’ll bring Crookshanks. I can’t wait to see Ginny again.’ Neville responded.
‘That’s great Neville. See you soon!’ she exclaimed, taking the phone and hanging up.
The moment she let go of the phone, she broke into a torrent of tears. She placed her back against the fridge, and slid down to the floor, holding her eyes as more tears came. She felt a hand on her shoulder, and found Fred kneeling down.
‘What’s wrong, what happened?’ he asked. Hermione merely glance up at Ginny, and her red-haired friend burst into tears as well.
Hermione looked back down and broke down even harder as she heard her friend cry and whimper. Fred got up and gave his sister a hug, but she shrugged away.
‘Why? Why did you have to do this!?’ she shouted through the tears at Hermione on the floor. ‘Why did you have to Apparate? I told you-!’ she continued, trailing off as more tears came. Hermione tried to open her mouth to explain, but found only more tears, as the look on Ginny’s face burned into her mind, and the guilt became overwhelming.
‘Com’on Ginny, let’s go sit down’ Fred tried to suggest, Ginny tearing her arm away from her brother.
‘Let go of me!’ she yelled, turning and running upstairs while more tears fell. Hermione glanced to see the red hair flying up the stairs, and she broke down even worse.
Neville had been captured by the Markers. They knew that Hermione had been there, which means they had tortured him. He was going to die, if he hadn’t already, and it was all Hermione’s fault.
She could not believe that she did something so stupid. Ginny was right, she should have realized that they could trace her Apparation. She was so concerned with keeping herself safe from the Markers, she did not give enough safety to Neville.
It hit her mind like a freight train: she caused Neville’s death.
She looked up to see if Fred was still there, but he was not. He must have gone to help Ginny, and Hermione decided she did not deserve any help with her grief. It was all her fault, and she deserved much worse than being left alone with all this on her mind.
Her tears continued to flow, and her head began to ache. Neville was such an amazing friend, and never deserved for such a thing to happen. Just the thought of what the Markers could be doing to him made her grab her legs, and pull as tightly as she could.
She wasn’t sure how long she was there on the floor crying, but after more tears and her head continued to pound, a hand touched her shoulder. She jerked backwards, thoughts of the Markers torturing Neville running through her mind, and she looked up through her tearful eyes.
‘Oh G-G-Ginny’ Hermione quaked, looking up to see her puffy-eyed friend. Hermione wanted to apologize over and over again for putting Ginny through such pain.
Ginny knelt down, Hermione wondering if she was going to hug her, or yell at her more. She could just imagine how upset Ginny was.
Hermione looked at her, and continued to cry as Ginny moved down, and gave Hermione a warm hug.
She quickly reached up and hugged Ginny with a hard grip. She was so sorry for everything, she kept apologizing over and over again to Ginny. Ginny continued to hug, and was crying as well.
‘I’m so sorry Ginny, I- I can’t- I can’t tell you how- how- how sorry I am’ Hermione hiccuped, burying her face into Ginny’s shoulder.
They held on to each other on the floor in front of the fridge for a while, before Ginny pulled back and offered her hand to help her up. Hermione gave her a shaky hand, and she helped her up on to her feet. Hermione felt light headed when she stood, but Ginny helped her stand.
‘I’m sorry Hermione’ Ginny voiced, giving her another hug, repeating how sorry she was for yelling at her. The two friends hugged each other for a while, until they finally decided to go and sit in the sitting room. Fred was there as well, and gave Hermione a hug, helping with some of the grief.
The rest of the night moved as a haze over Hermione, the realization that Neville—and Crookshanks—were gone. She remembered going through a tradition that Fred and Ginny made for friends that had died. They went through all the happy times they had together with Neville and Crookshanks, and had loads of laughs and tears.
The next morning, Hermione woke to bright sunshine coming through the curtained window. She gave a stretch, got herself up and ready, and went downstairs to find Ginny in the kitchen with Fred.
‘O.K., so do we use the whole bottle of oil for the eggs?’ Fred asked, dumping an excessive amount of oil in the pan, causing to splash in the pan and jump up from the heat.
‘Oww!’ Fred said, shaking his arm where some oil had splashed on him.
‘No you git, only a little bit!’ Ginny quipped, giving her brother a bothered look. ‘Oh, morning Hermione.’
‘Morning Ginny’ Hermione responded quietly.
‘How are you feeling?’ Fred asked, running his arm under the tap.
‘I’m better. I’m wishing Harry was still here. By now he’d already be planning out a rescue plan for Neville’ she tried to joke. She looked for a second, and realized it was probably one of the worst jokes ever told in the history of the planet.
Ginny’s face fell for a moment, but she tried to hide it. ‘Yeah, he would be one for doing that’ she spoke arbitrarily, getting back to her cooking. Hermione looked down at her feet, and continued into the kitchen, Fred trying to make her feel less out of place.
‘Well, after these eggs, you might just have the desire to run away as fast as possible. Come sit down, it’s almost ready’ Fred instructed, with a bit of a chuckle as he tried to turn over the eggs and failed miserably.
The three of them sat down at the table, and had breakfast quietly. Neville was still on everyone's mind, but with all the deaths they had endured collectively, they understood how to overcome their emotions. As much as it pained Hermione to not cry her eyes out, she had to keep herself together, and focus on keeping herself safe and alive.
To try and help them out, they planned to go and see Tonks, something Hermione was looking forward to. Even with this, Neville’s death still weighed heavily on her, and it was quite obvious to others.
‘You know Hermione, we don’t have to go. Perhaps it may be better to stay in today. We can always go and see Tonks tomorrow you know’ Fred suggested, trying to smile with a piece of egg hanging from his mouth.
‘Fred’ Ginny motioned, pointing to his mouth.
‘No, I want to see Tonks. If Neville’s death has told me anything, it’s not to waste any more time in seeing friends’ she professed, Ginny and Fred understanding perfectly.
'I just wish I could have seen him just once more' Ginny uttered, wiping a tear from her eye.
'He was wishing for the same thing Ginny' Hermione told her, giving her shoulder a rub. They sat and remembered more of Neville, before deciding it was time to go to see Tonks.
Hermione went ahead and got ready. Going through her clothes, she sat down on the bed, and picked up the picture of her, Ron, and Harry from their days at Hogwarts.
She could not believe how happy she used to be. The world seemed as bright as a diamond in comparison now full of colour and excitement. She remembered how hard she used to study, to make sure not to get in trouble, and to always be on time for class to avoid a detention.
She wished she could go back in time and tell her younger self how pointless all that work was. It was just in her nature though, to study to the point of insanity and know all the facts, even if she never planned to use it in real life.
History of Magic, she remembered spending six hours on a paper that she ended up getting perfect on. Six hours. Perspective on time now was much more different than it was back then. Back then, she probably considered the time well spent on getting grades. Today, she could only dream of six hours, with Neville, with Harry, or with Ron. Six more hours would be an eternity now.
‘Um, Hermione, are you almost ready?’ Ginny called from the other side of the door. Hermione took one more glance at the picture, placed it on her bag. She got changed quickly, and was out of the house with Ginny and Fred on their way to see Tonks.
‘Is she doing alright?’ Hermione asked tentatively. Ginny and Fred had seen Tonks since Remus died, so they would have a better idea than her.
‘She should be fine, definitely happy to see you here. Just try not to go back into the past too much. She has been talking about it all more recently, but it’s still tough. She lost basically all her friends, and Remus’ Ginny explained as they walked down the road towards the town.
As they past a street corner, and turned onto a road that wound around a hill, Hermione took notice of the biohazard and warning signs.
‘Should we be walking here? This area isn’t quarantined.’
‘Tonks took the signs from farther down the road and put them here, to not have Muggles creeping around her house. It’s safe around here, don’t worry’ Fred mentioned.
Since Voldemort’s overthrow of the Muggle government, quarantine areas had been erected for various reasons. Originally Hermione thought they were meant to contain the movement of wizards and capture them, but then diseases started to spring up in the Muggle population. Hermione figured that Voldemort started getting impatient with trying to find wizards and other influential people, so he created lethal Muggle diseases to infect the population. More than likely they were wizards’ diseases, like Dragon Pox, to which the Muggle population is not accustom to.
Since she was a Muggle, and she had no real use of magic anymore, she—as well as Ginny and Fred—had to be careful not to stray into areas outside quarantine.
Coming around the long, winding bend, Hermione could see a small house nestled against the side of the hill, surrounded by thick forest. They came up to the front door, and Ginny gave a knock. It was a nice little stone cottage, secluded from the town and the traffic of the highway.
The door creaked open slightly, and Ginny spoke quietly to the person on the other side. There was a few moments as at least half a dozen locks were unlocked from the inside, and the door opened.
A pale woman turned the corner, and Hermione instantly knew it was Tonks. Her hair was black as the night, and she looked like she hadn’t slept in years, but it was her. Her heart-shape face stayed, and her dark and twinkling eyes looked at Hermione with a hint of joy. A smile came to her face, and she wiped a tear.
‘Oh Hermione, thank Merlin!’ she uttered, coming across the doorway and giving Hermione a nice tight hug. Hermione wrapped her arms around her once-pink haired friend, and gave a smile.
‘It’s so nice to see you Tonks, how are you?’ Hermione asked, as the group walked into her home.
Hermione thought she had entered the home of a very old witch. Knick-knacks cluttered the mantle, and the walls were almost completely covered with paintings—Muggle paintings from what Hermione could tell. A fire crackled in the hearth, which had a cauldron sitting above it, and there were four armchairs staggered about the sitting room.
‘I apologize for the cauldron, I was in the middle of making a stew’ Tonks informed, walking over and taking a ladle of the concoction.
‘That’s not a problem, sorry we didn’t give any warning of our coming’ Ginny said, taking a seat. Hermione was still glancing around the place, getting used to the surroundings. All the windows were covered with thick curtains, so it was impossible to tell if it was daytime or nighttime.
‘Oh, it’s not a problem at all!’ Tonks answered, putting the ladle down. ‘Needs more oregano’ she commented, smacking her lips for a moment and glancing at Hermione. ‘Hermione, come, sit, sit!’
‘Oh, sorry, I was just looking around’ she exclaimed, taking a seat in one of the armchairs.
‘No need to be sorry, this was my grandmother’s cottage, so there’s a lot of stuff in it. Even I haven’t found everything. For the life of me, I can’t even find the salt shaker!’ Tonks said with a smile, walking into the kitchen.
‘Would anyone like some tea?’ Tonks shouted from the kitchen, which was just off from the sitting room.
‘This place does take some getting used to, just letting you know. If you go into the study, make sure not to move any of the books’ Fred advised.
‘Why?’ Hermione asked, Fred leaning in.
‘Open one up, and I swear the room is engulfed in dust. Can’t even find your way out once that happens’ he informed.
‘What?’ Tonks yelled from the kitchen.
‘Yes, tea would be great Tonks’ Ginny answered, giving Fred a narrowed brow.
‘What, it’s important information for Hermione to know. I wish Tonks would have told me before I went in there!’
‘Why were you ever in a study?’ Hermione asked, Ginny giving a laugh while Fred tried to look indignant to Hermione's comment.
‘I went in there just to look, to have you know’ Fred answered, Ginny still having a pleasant sounding chuckle.
‘Have you know what?’ Tonks asked as she came into the room with a tea set. Two of the cups had chips , and the tray was tarnished and worn.
‘Sorry I don’t have any other cups, it’s rare I get more than two visitors’ she informed, pouring tea into the cups and taking a seat.
‘No troubles Tonks, how have you been the last while?’ Hermione asked.
‘I work at a flower boutique over in Norwich. It’s a nice little shop, and the Muggle owner is nice and allows me days off when I’m not doing the greatest. I’ve had a terrible bout with pneumonia the last few years, and it tends to come and go. But otherwise, things are OK.’
Hermione was upset to hear Tonks was getting sick so often, but loosing so many loved ones could do that to someone. For the first few months after arriving in London, Hermione was always sick with a fever and cold.
‘Did you see the message on the television?’ Ginny asked, Hermione wondering if Tonks even had a television.
‘No, I didn’t watch it, but I heard people discussing it on the wireless. They replayed the message, and it sounds very strange’ Tonks admitted, taking a sip of tea.
‘This V fellow is a wizard’ Fred declared.
‘Well of course, that was obvious’ Tonks replied.
‘So what do you think we should do?’ Ginny asked, Tonks looking at her with wide eyes, and laughing.
‘”We?” What do you mean “we?” This was some crazy person spouting gibberish on the Muggle wireless. We just keep doing what we’re doing; laying low’ she assured, Ginny giving an incredulous look at Hermione and Fred for help.
‘But Tonks, surely you heard what V was asking for everyone to do’ Hermione questioned.
‘Yes, I told you I heard the message, but this “V”, or whatever his name is just spoke words. We come out of hiding, in our state, and the Markers would be on us before you could even start remembering spells. This was probably another ploy by Voldemort to try and bring wizards and witches out into the open. They did the same thing earlier in the war, and many good wizards and witches died believing this non-sense.’
‘No, you don’t understand, this is different’ Hermione insisted, Tonks shaking her head.
‘It’s no different Hermione, trust me. As much as you’d like to believe that one single wizard blew up the entire Old Ministry, you are mistaken’ Tonks spoke reverently, like a woman of twice her age.
‘Tonks, you don’t understand, Hermione has met V; she was there when he blew up the Ministry’ Ginny disclosed straightforwardly, Tonks glancing at Ginny and then Hermione.
‘It’s true, that’s why she came up here. Markers are after her, and she had to hide from them. She met up with Neville Longbottom in London, but they already captured him’ Fred continued.
‘V saved my life twice, and he did blow up the Old Ministry. That broadcast was probably very true; he is planning things’ Hermione elaborated. Tonks continued to look at the three of them without a word, then finally put her tea cup down and looked at Hermione.
‘This . . . no, it can’t be. If we even try to help, or try to start the Resistance again . . .’ she trailed off in thought. She stood up and began to pace around the carpet in front of the hearth, where the cauldron was still sitting.
‘Tonks, if there is any time that the Resistance should be started again, it’s now’ Ginny claimed.
‘On what grounds do you say that, you haven’t even met this V fellow? Honestly, how can you say he is not working for Voldemort himself, against us? How can you tell he’s not just trying to get us out into the open, just for Markers to swoop down and kill us?’ Tonks asked aggressively.
‘He blew up the Old Ministry, and probably killed two Markers just saving my life’ Hermione answered, Tonks still not opening up to the idea.
‘”Probably” killed, you don’t know. What if everything up until now has just been to weed us out? They probably knew you would run away, meet up with other wizards and witches. What if they’re tracking you somehow? Hermione, you don’t know enough about this V to trust him enough.’ Hermione had to agree with some of Tonks’ logic, but was still not willing to believe V was working for the Markers.
‘No, we will not even attempt to try and help. We will continue to lay low, and stay safe. Even if one of us were to stick our heads out just a bit, Markers would be all over us in an instant’ Tonks finished, still standing and looking at the three of them.
‘But Tonks-‘ Ginny started.
‘No! We are not discussing it anymore!’ Tonks spoke loudly.
‘But-‘ Fred tried.
‘No!’ Tonks yelled, the cauldron over the hearth falling over and dousing the flames. Hermione could not tell if that had been from accidental magic, or her foot simply hit the cauldron.
Suffice it to say, their visit with Tonks after that was awkward. They remained for a few more minutes, helping her clean up the mess of stew and firewood, and then they began their walk back to King’s Lynn.
‘Don’t worry Hermione, Tonks has just been overly protective since the war. Mum asked her to watch over us, so she’s been really strict about everything’ Ginny explained quietly as they walked.
‘I know, but still, I wish we could have had a better get together. First time I see her in two years, and I get her yelling’ Hermione muttered, kicking a stone that was lying next to the road.
‘Every visit with Tonks is like that Hermione; she’s just never in a good mood. You mention anything about the Resistance, Remus, Hogwarts, the Ministry . . . well, anything magical actually, and she gets upset’ Fred notified her.
‘Yeah. Stick to cooking or flowers, and that’s really the only way to keep her happy. It’s quite sad actually’ Ginny expressed unhappily.
The three of them came up to the street corner where they were supposed to turn, and started towards the cottage. A police car passed by the road they were just on, but luckily kept going on its way.
‘So what are going to do? I mean, are we just going to lay low and do nothing?’ Hermione asked, looking at the two of them.
‘No, we have to do something of course. We need Tonks’ help though, ‘cause she has the connections’ said Fred, as they came up to the house.
‘Perhaps we can go see her again later in the week, once we’ve thought over how to better propose what we want to do’ Hermione advised, the other two agreeing.
They entered the cottage, and took seats in the sitting room. Hermione and Fred took to watching some of the Muggle television news to see if anything more about V was being mentioned, while Ginny was cleaning up some of the kitchen. After only a short time since their return, a suddenly pop echoed from upstairs. The sound was recognized by each of them instantly: someone had just Apparated above them.
Everyone waited in silence for a moment, and the instant the first footstep was heard, everyone got up and began to scramble to the door. Ginny was just about to turn the handle, when a dark-robed figure from the stairwell blasted a spell at the door, locking it indefinitely.
Ginny fell backwards in horror, as the figure slowly descended the stairwell, one small step at a time. Hermione ran back for her wand, and aimed it, hesitating for a moment as the tall figure came to the bottom of the stairs.
‘Terror can be endured so long as a man simply ducks;--but it kills, if a man thinks about it’* a deep voice sounded from the figure, the other three recognizing it.
‘V, you scared us to death!’ Hermione ranted.
‘My apologizes’ V replied, lifting his head to reveal his ivory-coloured Guy Fawkes mask.
‘It’s- . . .’ Ginny spluttered, Fred helping her off the floor.
‘Yes, and I am quite surprised I aimed so well within your cottage. Rose Abbey is not an easy place to find, as you have intended. But it can be found, which is why I have come.’
‘What, someone has found us?’ Hermione asked forwardly.
‘I am unsure, but the threat is present. You must leave this place, and find safe haven somewhere else’ V ordered.
‘Now just hold on a second, who are you?’ Fred asked, trying to sound as large as possible. V had a good six inches height advantage, not to mention the wand, but Fred was trying.
‘I am the lion protecting its pride’ he started, taking a heavy step towards Fred. ‘I am the raven flying high above; I am the badger ever-watchful; I am as constant as the northern star. In short,’ he stated, looking down at Fred, ‘I am a man, seeking to put the world back together again.’**
‘Why are you here though?’ Ginny asked, finally finding her voice.
‘To warn you, and Hermione, of the danger that may arrive soon.’
‘Why do you care about us? Aren’t you supposed to be trying to destroy the government and such?’ Fred asked, giving V a look over.
‘That is my intention, but it cannot be done by me alone. This must be taken on by all wizards and witches looking to right the world. That was the purpose of the broadcast.’
‘You’re insane! No one in their right mind would help you, we don’t even know if you’re actually a Marker or not!’ Ginny argued.
‘Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt’*** V spoke eloquently.
‘That doesn’t tell us anything! Are you a Marker or not?’ Fred questioned.
‘If I was, you would all be dead already. No, I am but a friend, who requires your help.’
‘Our help?’ Hermione asked, V turning back to her. Ginny and Fred were still very puzzled by it, and did not like the idea of V actually standing in their sitting room.
‘Yes, the Resistance must be reborn. Like the phoenix, it must rise out of the ashes of what it once was, and begin the change that is needed for the times ahead.’
‘How do you know about the Resistance?’ Ginny asked from behind V.
‘How are we going to do that? Tonks thinks you’re nothing but a Marker out to bring us out into the open to kill us’ Hermione stated.
‘You must use your mind Hermione. For too long you have gone without your intellect guiding you. Let it point you in the right direction, and you will succeed’ V told Hermione closely, not hearing Ginny’s question.
‘But where should I start?’ Hermione asked. V turned away, and moved into the center of the room.
‘Ask Stewart if he likes cats, and remember he knows more than a Muggle should’ V spoke, giving a turn and an almighty crack filling the room. It startled Ginny and Fred, and the two of them slowly came into the sitting room afterwards and spoke with Hermione.
‘What was that all about?-‘Is he for real?’ Ginny and Fred asked at the same time.
‘I’m not sure, but I think he’s right about being foun-‘ Hermione started, before all three turned towards the door.
There was a knock.
Ginny gingerly walked to the front door, the other two pacing behind. If it was trouble, they would have little recourse but to Side-Apparate away with Hermione. Given her ability to Apparate by herself the day before, Side-Apparation could go horribly wrong.
Ginny opened up the door slowly, and asked who it was.
‘My name is Captain Shoemaker of the London Police; I’m here for Miss Granger.’
A/N - Oh, I know, an evil place to end, but what are your thoughts? Like I said at the beginning, this chapter primarily gives more background information, and introduces our secluded and run-down Tonks. More action will arrive in the next chapter, as you'll follow V in a section that should prove . . . deadly. Also, you'll hear more of the delightful side of the Markers and dear Malfoy may make another appearance. :)
Please comment people!
*Quote from Erich Maria Remarque, "All Quiet on the Western Front"
**Quote from Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene I
***Quote from Measure for Measure, Act I, Scene IV