Chapter 1 : Chapter One
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Hermione Granger lay sprawled out on her stomach with a book in front of her. Her eyes fluidly scanned over the words on each page before going to the next. She wanted to be prepared for her final year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry and that meant lots of reading and memorizing.
She was just about to start the final chapter of her Arithmancy book when her father’s voice called up to her. “Coming,” she called as she closed her book and climbed off of her bed.
When she got to the foot of the stairs, she looked around to see where her father was. “Dad?”
“In the living room, darling,” he called.
“What did you want?”
“Um, your mother and I have something important that we need to talk to you about,” he told her.
Hermione sat down in the plush arm chair with her brow furrowed in curiosity. Her mother looked as if she had been crying and her father was visibly upset. “Do we have to tell her now, Tom?” her mother asked.
“We don’t have a choice, Jane,” he answered, “They’ll be here in a few hours.”
“Who will be here in a few hours?” Hermione asked.
Her parents were silent for a moment before her father said, “Your parents.”
Hermione laughed slightly and shook her head. “Funny, Dad,” she said, “Come on, who’s really coming?”
“This is no joke, Hermione,” Mr. Granger said solemnly, “There’s something you need to know.”
Rain was pouring down that night as Tom Granger sat in his living room reading. Lightening struck, followed by a loud rumble of thunder that shook the windows. He was almost finished with the last chapter in his book when a knock sounded at the door. He marked his place and set the book down as he glanced at his watch. Now who would be calling on us at this hour, he thought? He then stood up and walked over to the door.
When he opened it, he was greeted by the sight of two figures covered in dark, hooded cloaks. The shorter of the two figures was carrying something in it’s arms. “Can I… help you?” he asked as he looked at the figures with a mixture of fear and curiosity.
The young man lifted the hood of his cloak from his head, revealing a face that held fear. “Sir, my name is Pietro Zabini and this is my wife, Marjorie,” he said, “we wish to speak with you about an urgent matter… may we come in?”
Tom eyed the man suspiciously. “I promise that we mean you no harm,” the young man said, noticing the uncertainty.
The smaller cloaked figure removed it’s hood. She was a pretty, young woman with chin-length, wavy brown hair. “Please, sir, I beg you,” she said, fear evident in her voice.
Upon hearing how scared she was, Tom moved aside and opened the door wider for them. “Tom, who was at the door?”
Tom looked up the stairs as Pietro and his wife entered the house. “Don’t worry about it, Jane,” he called, “Go back to bed, love.”
“If you please, we must speak to your wife as well.”
“What’s this all about?” Tom questioned as he shut the door.
“It’s regarding our daughter, Hermione,” Pietro told him as Marjorie hugged the bundle in her arms closer to her.
Tom heard footsteps behind him as his wife came down the stairs and stood next to him. “This is my wife, Jane,” Tom told him, wrapping his arm around her waist.
Pietro nodded. “I apologize for the late hour, Jane; I am Pietro and this is my wife, Marjorie.”
“It’s nice to meet you. Please, won’t you come in and sit down?” she asked, motioning to the living room.
“Thank you, but we can only stay for a moment,” he said, glancing at the door briefly.
Jane offered them a warm cup of tea which they kindly refused due to lack of time. Apparently, these two were in a great hurry and needed to discuss something of critical importance. “There is no time for details but we must ask you to do something for us,” Pietro said.
“We don’t even know you, sir,” Tom said.
Jane placed her hand on her husband’s arm as she said, “How can we help?”
Hermione stared blankly at her parents. It can’t be true, she thought, it just can’t be true. I’m Hermione Granger; seventh year and Head Girl at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry. I’m not a Zabini… I’m not a Zabini!
“There’s got to be some mistake,” she said after several minutes, “I go to school with Blaise Zabini; I look nothing like him.”
“Hermione, haven’t you ever wondered why there are no pictures of your mother pregnant? Or why we don’t have pictures from when you were born?” Mr. Granger questioned.
Her father made a very good point. She honestly couldn’t recall ever seeing pictures of her mother being pregnant, nor pictures from the hospital when she was born. “But what about all of the pictures from when I was a baby? And you have my birth certificate, don’t you?”
“You were not even a week old when your parents brought you to us, so yes, we have many pictures of you as a baby,” her father told her, “In answer to the birth certificate question, the one we have for you is false.”
“What?! No, I’m Hermione Jean Granger, born and raised in Oxfordshire to Tom and Jane Granger,” Hermione argued. She couldn’t believe them, had her parents gone crazy?
“Honey, as much as we wish it, and as much as we believe it to be true, you are not biologically ours,” Mrs. Granger said softly, sounding on the verge of tears.
Her heart pounded loudly in her chest as she tried to make sense of everything her parents had just explained to her. Though the looks of sadness and the tone of her parents’ voices told her that it was the truth, she just couldn’t wrap her head around it. She felt as if she had fallen into a strange, yet horrible, dream and couldn’t wake up. But I am awake, she thought logically. Suddenly, her blood began to boil in anger.
“You’ve known this all along and you never told me?” she questioned hotly, standing up and glaring at them.
Mrs. Granger looked at her pleadingly. “Darling, please, you must understand…” she began.
Hermione whipped around and glared at her. “Understand what, Mother?” she snapped. “That you’ve hidden the fact that I’m not even your daughter from me? I think I understand that one quite well, thank you.”
“Hermione, your mother and I…”
“You aren’t my parents,” Hermione snapped, turning to face Mr. Granger.
Mrs. Granger threw her head into her hands and sobbed loudly as her husband looked at the young woman they had come to know and love as their daughter sternly and said, “Young lady, you do not speak to us like that!”
“How could you have kept something like this from me? Didn’t you think this was something I should have been aware of before now?”
“We wanted to tell you, Hermione,” Mr. Granger said, “We truly did, but we couldn’t. It was physically impossible for us to speak of it until just before we told you.”
Her mother’s words about spells being cast on them suddenly popped into her mind as her father told her this. She had read of particular spells used to prevent a person from spilling information, willingly or not, so it seemed fully plausible that the Zabinis had performed such spells on them. “They cast a Secrecy Spell on you,” she said after several moments.
Mr. Granger nodded. “I’m not sure exactly what it’s called, but they did something to prevent us from speaking of your true identity… even to each other.”
Hermione took a deep breath and sat down, doing her best to remain calm so that she could logically consider all the facts. “And I suppose my features were altered in some way?”
This time it was Mrs. Granger who responded. “Yes, they were changed a bit. Though, considering how young you were, I don’t believe they were big changes.”
A Glamour Charm, Hermione thought. That certainly explains why I don’t look anything like Blaise. At the sudden thought of Blaise, Hermione realized that she wasn’t only Blaise’s sister, she was his twin.
Shaking that uncomfortable thought from her head, Hermione asked, “Did I look much different… before the Glamour Charm was placed on me?”
“We don’t… we don’t really know what you looked like before the… What did you call it?” Mrs. Granger asked.
“Glamour Charm; it’s a charm used to change ones appearance for a period of time.”
“Your parents kept you so close to them that we couldn’t see what you looked like. I can’t really imagine them changing your looks too much, again, because you were so young,” Mrs. Granger continued, wiping her tears from her eyes. “I remember seeing little tufts of black hair peaking out from the blanket you were wrapped in though.”
Hermione sat silently for a few minutes processing what she had just been told. “Why did they leave me here?” she asked suddenly, realizing that a full explanation on that front hadn’t been given.
“That’s a question we can’t answer,” Mr. Granger told her, “We don’t know.”
“They didn’t give you a reason?”
He shook his head. “They told us everything that we told you; that you were in danger and they needed someone to look after you until you were nearly of age in their world,” he said. “We didn’t understand what that meant and we never had the chance to ask them because they cast their spells on us and left.”
“A few days later, we received a letter explaining that you were a Witch and that you would be attending a school called Hogwarts once you turned eleven. The letter also explained that the spell they had cast on us would wear off on the eve of your seventeenth birthday and that we were to tell you what we knew at that time,” Mrs. Granger continued.
“But they never told you why they needed someone to look after me? What I was in danger of?”
Both Grangers shook their heads, “They said that that was information better left for them to explain when the time came.”
Hermione stood up and began pacing, “Well this is just great! My whole life I’ve been teased, ridiculed, and utterly humiliated for being a Muggle-born and no one can tell me why I was brought here to begin with!”
“Hermione, I’m sure there’s a perfectly good explan…”
“Yes, Mother I’m sure there is but unfortunately that explanation seems to be lost in the void until the time I can get it from the Zabinis,” she said.
“Which should be in a few hours,” Mr. Granger said softly. “They’re going to be here at five thirty to take… to take you home.”
Hermione stood and began to walk toward the stairs. “Excuse me,” she said quietly, “I need a moment to sift through all of this.”
Her mind was racing with the thought of being taken away from her parents. As angry as she was at them for not telling her, she couldn’t honestly blame them; they had been under a Secrecy Spell after all. Furthermore, she loved her parents dearly.
“There’s one more thing we have to tell you,” Mr. Granger’s voice called softly just before she began climbing up the stairs, “Please, I think you’ll want to sit back down for this.”
Hermione reluctantly sat down and Mr. Granger continued, “The letter your mother spoke of a few moments ago also explained that we were to tell you that you’re betrothed.”
“Betrothed? They’ve arranged a marriage for me?” Hermione questioned in disbelief. “Do they think I’m incapable of choosing a husband for myself?”
“According to the letter, arranged marriages are a tradition in your fam… in your family.”
Hermione scoffed, “A tradition? How completely archaic!” she raged, “This is not the 1600’s… women are free to choose who they marry! How can they expect me to follow some Neanderthal tradition like that?”
“Darling, we’re not happy about it either,” Mr. Granger told her, “you’re only seventeen after all, but perhaps we should try to be understanding of their ways?”
Hermione huffed. “Well, I suppose I could be understanding of it… providing there’s a long period of time where I can get to know this… Who is it that I’m supposed to be betrothed to?”
“A boy called Draco Malfoy.”
Hermione’s eyes widened as she shot out of her seat, “WHAT?!” she yelled, “Oh, I do not believe this! Not only do I find out that I’m the daughter of a Death Eater and the twin sister of a complete moron, but I find out I’m betrothed to someone who hates me? Oh this day just keeps getting better and better!”
“Now Hermione, I’m sure that Draco Malfoy isn’t all that bad once you get to know him,” Mrs. Granger said quietly, trying to be supportive.
Hermione ran a hand through her bushy hair and sighed. “I don’t think he’s completely bad,” she confessed, “though I can’t honestly say he’s good either. I mean, all he’s ever done is torment my friends and me and… as I’ve said… he hates me.”
“Oh I don’t think he hates you dear,” Mrs. Granger said comfortingly.
“I’m afraid I think he does. He’s treated me like a piece of dirt since the first day we met because of my being Muggle-born.”
“I’m sure the two of you could work things out.”
Hermione was about to protest when suddenly something small and sparkling gold zoomed into the room and began circling her head. What’s a snitch doing here, she thought as she reached up and attempted to catch the small object. Oh where the bloody hell is Harry when you need him?
Though it took several minutes, Hermione finally managed to catch the walnut sized ball, its thin silver wings flapping madly in an attempt to get away from her firm grip. With it finally settled down and its wings tucked away, she was able to examine it. From what she could tell, it was just an ordinary snitch used in Quidditch. But it can’t be ordinary, she thought. Unless it escaped from a game somewhere…
“Hermione, what is that?” Mr. Granger asked.
“It’s called a ‘snitch’. It’s one of the four balls used in Quidditch,” she said, “I’ve told you about Quidditch; remember, my friends Ginny, Ron, and Harry play for the Gryffindor team?”
“What’s it doing here?” Mrs. Granger asked.
“I’m not sure,” Hermione said thoughtfully. She didn’t have long to ponder as to the reason for the snitch being in a Muggle town, however for at that moment, an envelope flew in through the chimney and landed softly at her feet.
Seeing that it was, indeed, for her, Hermione quickly pocketed the golden snitch and picked up the envelope. She then opened it and found a neatly scrawled note consisting of a single word; Serpentias.
There was no signature, just that one simple word. Hermione turned the piece of parchment over and over in her hands trying to see if there was maybe something else that she might have missed. Finding nothing, she sighed and removed the snitch from her pocket and examined it again, confusion washing over her in bigger waves than she had ever felt.
“Hermione?” Mr. Granger questioned.
What the bloody hell is going on here, she thought? She looked closer at the writing and realized that she recognized it. “Malfoy!” she exclaimed.
Mr. and Mrs. Granger looked at her in confusion. “Malfoy?”
“He sent this snitch here, I’m almost sure of it,” Hermione said. “He probably expects me to open it and get expelled for doing underage magic. That is so like him!”
Mrs. Granger looked at her worriedly. “Surely you wouldn’t get expelled,” she said.
“You’re right,” Hermione said after a moment of thought, “I come of age tomorrow so what difference will it make?”
Without another thought, Hermione withdrew her wand from her jeans pocket and gently tapped the snitch with the tip of it and said, “Serpentias.”
At first, it seemed as though nothing was going to happen, the snitch just sat there in her hand. Then, in a matter of seconds, it began to vibrate. A warm tingling feeling spread through her hand as the snitch began to heat causing her to drop it.
As it hit the floor the golden color changed to red and then burned white hot. Hermione watched the snitch as it began to glow so brightly white that she had to squint to see what was happening. Then suddenly, she let out a scream of terror as the snitch turned into a great black snake, coiled and ready to strike. The snake raised its black head and stared at them through amber eyes, its forked tongue flickering in and out of its mouth smelling them.
Mr. Granger carefully moved toward the snake with the poker from the fireplace in an attempt to remove it but it lunged dangerously at him. Mrs. Granger and Hermione both screamed and Mrs. Granger pulled her daughter close to her. The snake flicked its tongue in Hermione’s direction and uncoiled itself.
Hermione’s heart pounded wildly in her chest as the serpent slithered gracefully across the floor and came to a stop in front of her. She watched as it rose up and looked her right in the eyes, swaying its head slightly. Then, as if she knew the creature wouldn’t hurt her, Hermione stepped away from her mother and reached for it.
The snake slithered closer to her and wrapped itself around her arm, turning so that its head was in the palm of her hand. As though hypnotized, Hermione began stroking the watery skin. The snake suddenly stretched its mouth wide and hissed loudly, vanishing in a puff of green smoke.
Hermione blinked, bringing her eyes back into focus, and looked down at her open hand. A thin band of silver glistened up at her formed into the shape of an emerald eyed, open-mouthed snake. Sitting in the snake’s opened mouth, held in by four tiny fang-shaped diamonds was a small, perfect emerald. It was the most beautiful ring she had ever seen in her life. Slowly, she looked back at her parents.
She swallowed loudly and whispered, “Oh my.”
“Oh, Hermione, it’s lovely,” Mrs. Granger said shakily, coming up next to her daughter.
“Yes, it is but I won’t wear it; not yet.”
“Hermione…” her mother began.
Hermione turned and faced her mother. “I’ve dreamed of getting married since I was eight years old,” she said, “Part of that dream consists of the man I’m marrying putting the engagement ring on my finger.”
Mrs. Granger smiled tenderly, “What girl wouldn’t want that?” she said, “I’m sure your par… parents will understand.”
“I hope so…” Hermione said, looking at the clock. She then bolted toward the stairs and called, “Excuse me.”
“Of course dear,” Mrs. Granger called back.
Hermione quickly climbed the stairs and ran into her bedroom, slamming the door and leaning back against it. For the first time since she had heard the news of who she was, she allowed the hot tears she had been holding back to fall freely. She sank to the floor and hugged her knees to her chest, crying into them. It was all she could do to keep herself from completely losing her mind.
She felt betrayed in some ways because her parents had kept such important information from her for so long, however unwillingly. Betrayed because the people who had created her, who had supposedly loved her, had abandoned her. She also felt nervous about the fact that she was going to be marrying someone who had shown an intense hatred for her during the years they had attended Hogwarts.
Slowly, she lifted her hand and opened her fist. The tiny ring shimmered back at her as her honey brown eyes carefully looked it over. The band was quite intriguing; it was as if the snake was appearing to coil itself around the wearer’s finger. It looked a bit big for her slim fingers, though it was certainly beautifully crafted… Most likely by magic… every detail made to perfection.
Upon closer inspection, she noticed writing etched into the inside of the band. Curiosity getting the better of her, Hermione walked over to her nightstand and turned on the lamp. Holding the ring close to her face, she read the neatly scrawled inscription. To my betrothed, Draco Malfoy
“To my betrothed, Draco Malfoy,” She repeated out loud, wiping the tears away from her cheeks. She was truly impressed. I wonder if he knows who he’s betrothed to, she thought as she slipped the ring into her pocket, Of course he does you twit! He sent you the bloody snitch and note.
Hermione silently wondered what Draco thought about their arranged marriage. Did he have the same concerns that she did? Would he be able to set aside their differences and accept her into his life? Would she be able to forgive him for the hurtful things he’d said and done to her over the years? If they refused to accept this betrothal, would they be forced to marry?
She wasn’t completely sure of what was going to happen in the next twenty-four hours, but she was willing to at least speak to the Zabinis and make her decision from there. At this point, she wasn’t ready to either accept or deny anything.
Moments later, an owl appeared at her window carrying a letter in its beak. Hermione walked over to the window and took the letter from the owl, which flew off quickly, and looked at the envelope. Her name was written on it in a very official way so she could only assume that it was from the Ministry of Magic.
Knowing exactly what it might say, she opened it lazily and read the neatly written note.
Dear Miss Granger,
The Ministry has received intelligence that a Password Charm was performed at approximately 2:55 this afternoon in the presence of Muggles. This is a direct violation of the Statue of Secrecy laws, as well as the laws for Underage Restrictions, set up by the Ministry of Magic. Please be advised that any further use of Underage Magic will result in immediate expulsion from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.
Hoping you are well,
Ministry of Magic
Improper Use of Magic Department
Hermione folded the letter back up and placed it back inside its envelope. She had been expecting a letter like this. Harry had told her about the time he had received one before their second year so she knew that she was bound to get one. Though, quite honestly, she didn’t care.
Ever since the Ministry had treated Harry in such a horrible manner, she couldn’t find it in herself to care what they thought. She would be turning seventeen the very next day so it wasn’t like she would be doing anymore magic until then anyway. She had willingly allowed her curiosity to get the better of her in regards to the snitch and that was all there was to it.
With a deep sigh, Hermione walked over to the foot of her bed and threw open her school trunk. At the bottom of the trunk were a few broken quills and empty ink bottles which she quickly gathered up and discarded in her waste basket. She then walked over to her closet and began emptying it of its contents.
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