Chapter image by Ande@TDA
Later that night…
Hermione walked along one of the many Sunflower lit paths of the garden, taking in all the sights. The Malfoys had left just over an hour ago so she was taking advantage of her solitude. She had always loved gardens and this one was no exception. She was in awe of such beauty possessed by the Goldenrods and Snapdragons that she couldn’t resist just being among them. Something about them calmed her, helping her to make sense of everything.
Her thoughts seemed to be all over the place as she found a comfortable looking bench and sat down. She leaned forward and rested her head in her hands and sighed. What a night this has been, she thought, First, I find out that I’m the daughter of Pietro and Marjorie Zabini. Then I find out that I’m betrothed to someone who hates me… or at least I thought he did. I’m not so sure now… Then I have dinner with two families that have tried to kill me over the past six years... What is this world coming to?
Her heart sank as the Grangers flew into her mind. She had been so rude to them when they had first told her of her true identity. She really hadn’t given them the chance to explain their side of things. She had just exploded in anger and had spouted off questions selfishly, not really thinking of how they felt or what they needed.
Silent tears filled her eyes as she thought about how horrible she must have made them feel. The hurt looks on their faces as she had taken her anger out on them flashed in her mind. She knew that they had raised her to be a better person than to just yell at someone because she was angry, but she hadn’t been able to help it. Her anger had blinded her. What a lovely girl I turned out to be, she thought sarcastically.
The sound of footsteps coming toward her caused to her lift her head. The tall, lean figure of her twin brother now stood just a few feet away from her, concern written all over his face. “Are you alright, Hermione?” he asked.
“I’m not really sure,” she replied, tears evident in her voice, “I mean; it’s all kind of coming at me so fast that I’m not sure I can keep up.”
“Listen, I know we really only met tonight, but I’m here if you want to talk.”
Hermione patted the bench next to her and gave him a small smile. “My thoughts are all so jumbled up I’m not sure where to begin,” she told him.
Blaise sat down and looked up at the sky. “Must’ve been pretty weird finding out you have a twin brother huh?”
“Weird, yes, but nice,” Hermione replied, “I’ve been an only child all my life… well at least I thought I was… but I always wanted a brother or sister.”
“Yeah. I’ve always been envious of people like Ginny and Ron Weasley who have several siblings.”
“Why?” Blaise questioned, looking at his sister.
“Because, even if they have no one else, they’ve got each other.”
“Well, now we’ve got each other,” Blaise said with a hopeful smile, “At least, I hope we do.”
Hermione smiled at him. “Yeah, we do,” she said looking up at the sky. “Oh, Callidora’s returned! I must go see what she’s got.”
“Of course. I’ll be in my room if you need anything.”
“Thank you,” Hermione said, standing up and kissing him on the cheek, “You know; you’re really not as bad as I thought you were.”
Blaise smiled broadly and watched as Hermione ran off toward the Mansion. Although he wasn’t sure how he knew it, he knew that they were going to become great friends. With that thought, he stood up and headed toward the Mansion himself.
Once she had gotten to her room, Hermione quickly changed out of her dress into something more suitable for lounging. She also took her hair out of the French twist it was in and tied it into a ponytail. She then picked up the letters Callidora had brought her, giving the owl a gentle pat, and climbed onto her bed. She was pleased to see that she had not two, but four letters. She opened the one on top and began reading the neatly written note from one of the only female friends she had at Hogwarts.
Talk about shocking! I really don’t know what to say. Can’t believe you’re a Zabini… and soon to be a Malfoy? Seriously, what are the Zabini’s thinking betrothing you to that piece of muck? Guess they have a reason for it, and it better be a good one!
I guess I should say Congratulations, considering it’s something you seem to be looking forward to. Also… I can’t believe you didn’t include me in your letter to Harry and Ron!
Has Malfoy given you a ring? Hope it’s a good one! I want to see it!
P. S. Did you make Head Girl?
Ginny’s words of mild encouragement warmed Hermione’s heart. She was truly grateful that at least one of her friends was being supportive. And how like her to expect to see the ring, she thought, feeling a bit guilty for not including Ginny in her initial letter to Ron and Harry. She then put Ginny’s letter aside and opened the next.
I don’t believe it! I really don’t. You’re actually gonna marry that git, Malfoy? Guess there’s no way of changing your mind? So… I’ll try and be nice about it. You are my friend after all.
Hermione could tell, even if he hadn’t stated it, that Harry was only supporting her because she was his friend. She knew he’d do his best to keep his word though, yet she also knew how deep his hatred for Draco and Blaise went.
The next letter she picked up was from Mrs. Weasley.
Oh such wonderful news dear! Engaged! Arthur and I are so happy for you! (Although I’m not so certain you should fully trust the Malfoys.) I had heard of the Zabini’s having twins, but the daughter was never discussed. Makes a bit more sense now… They must be happy to have you back in their lives…
Well, I’m sure you’ve got many things to do, spending time with your family and making plans for the wedding and all. I’d love to make your cake for you, if that’s alright. Please, if you need anything, anything at all, don’t hesitate to ask.
Much love to you,
A smile spread across her face as she read Mrs. Weasley’s kind words. She was much like a mother to Hermione with as much time as she had spent at the Burrow over the years. As she set Mrs. Weasley’s letter aside, dread came over her. She had one letter left to read; Ron’s. Although they had only ever thought of each other as brother and sister, he tended to be over-protective of her, much like he was over Ginny.
You’re got to be out of your bleeding mind to marry that git, Malfoy. Completely off your rocker. I don’t want you marrying that slimy ferret. He’s bad news and you know it!
Hermione set down Ron’s letter with a loud sigh. She knew that Ron didn’t like Malfoy; in fact, he hated him, probably almost as much as he hated spiders. At least he hadn’t sent her a howler; she had been worried about that. Knowing Ron, he’s probably skulking about the Burrow, she thought.
Just then, her attention was drawn to the door when a light knock sounded. “Come in,” she called.
The door opened and Gripa waddled in. “Mistress Hermione, your parents is liking you to meet them in Sir’s study,” she said.
Hermione climbed off the bed and slipped her feet into her slippers. “Thank you Gripa, would you please show me the way?”
“Gripa would be pleased to, Mistress!” she squeaked.
Hermione followed the small elf down a flight of stairs and through a series of hallways. Each hallway they walked through bore pictures on the walls on either side. Hermione wanted to pause and look at them all but she had a feeling that now wasn’t exactly the best time. It was after seeing the portrait of a particularly pretty young woman that Hermione saw they had come to a stop in front of a door.
“Here you are Mistress.”
“Thank you Gripa,” Hermione said. She then knocked lightly on the door.
“Come in,” came the muffled reply.
Hermione opened the door and poked her head in. “You wanted to see me?”
Mr. Zabini smiled. “Yes, please come in,” he said, motioning to a chair, “Have a seat.”
Hermione sat down in the comfortable chair opposite her father’s desk and looked at him questioningly, “What’s this all about?”
“We know you have had a very trying day today,” Mr. Zabini began, “but we feel that the sooner we explain why we took you to the Grangers the easier it might be for all of us to become a family.”
“We want you to feel comfortable here and we don’t think that will be possible without you knowing the whole truth,” Mrs. Zabini added.
“However, if you are too tired just now then perhaps…”
Hermione shook her head as she interrupted, “No, please… I’d really like to know.”
Mr. Zabini stood up and walked around his desk. “The first thing you must understand, Hermione, is that we love you,” he said as he sat down on the edge of his desk. “Ahem… forgive me; it is difficult to know where exactly to begin. It was so long ago and everything happened so fast.”
“Pietro, perhaps it would be better just to show her,” Mrs. Zabini suggested.
“Hmm, perhaps you’re right, Marjorie,” he said, standing up and walking over to a cupboard.
Hermione watched as he opened the cupboard and a bright shining light became visible. Mr. Zabini pulled out a large stone bowl and carefully carried it over to his desk. “Is… is that a pensieve?” Hermione asked in awe.
“Yes, it was handed down to me by my father,” Mr. Zabini replied as he walked back over to the cupboard and began sifting through some vials. “I plan to hand it down to Blaise one day… Blaise has told us that you are quite the student, no doubt you have inherited that from me.”
“I’ve always been told that I have an insatiable curiosity,” Hermione said off-handedly. “I’ve read a bit about pensieves; they’re supposed to hold the memories of a witch or wizard.”
“That is quite true,” he said, picking up two vials and walking back over to his desk. “Now, there are two memories that I am going to show you this evening. The first is by no means happy and I wish now that I had never taken part in such things. However, what is done is done and I hope that you can one day forgive me for the atrocities in my past.”
Hermione bit her lip in thought for a moment and then said, “I think only time will tell if I’ll be able to forgive you,” she said. “I’m seeing a side of you that I never thought was possible but I’m not completely certain that I believe it just yet.”
He gave her a small smile. “Yes, well, I have caused you a great deal of pain so if you were never to forgive me, I think I would understand,” he said. He then looked at his wife questioningly. “Marjorie, will you be joining us?”
Mrs. Zabini shook her head. “I think not,” she said. “I’ve heard enough about the crimes you’ve committed; actually seeing them would be far too much for me.”
Mr. Zabini nodded in understanding and held his hand out for Hermione. “Very well, Hermione, you must hold tight to my hand.” Hermione stood up and walked over to her father, grasping his hand tight. “Good, now, we must lean in close to the pensieve so as to be taken into it.”
Mr. Zabini poured the silvery contents of one of the vials into the pensieve as the two leaned close to the silvery blue surface, so close that their noses we almost touching the liquid-like substance. Hermione’s eyes widened as she suddenly felt herself being pulled into the pensieve. She gripped her father’s hand even tighter as they fell slowly through the dark air.
They landed with a soft thud on what felt like a stone floor and Hermione looked around. Well, tried to look around anyway. She really couldn’t see anything because it was severely dark and there seemed to only be a few lights coming from the distance, and getting closer.
As the light slowly got closer, Hermione could see dark figures all around her dressed in hooded black cloaks and gold masks. A small gasp escaped her lips. “Death Eaters!” she said, instinctively wanting to draw her wand, but knowing there was no need. This was a memory, and no one could see or hear her, or her father.
She looked around with much wonder. She could tell that the building they were in was old, however, where they were, she couldn’t tell. The dimness of their surroundings hindered her vision slightly as she tried to make out anything she could. A fair distance ahead of them, a dull patter of footsteps could be heard.
As they walked, the pitch black hallway became lit, a torch lighting itself as it was passed. Twelve figures crept through the dank hall, each draped in a long, black hooded cloak and their traditional gold skull mask. They each seemed to be walking with a purpose, as though they had been summoned by something, or someone.
Each of the figures was curious as to why they had been sent for so suddenly and at such a late hour. Though their curiosity was practically killing them, they knew better than to ask questions unless permitted to do so. In their order, to speak before being spoken to was against the law and punishable in any way imaginable; even death.
The figures stopped in front of a large, iron door. The sound of muffled screams could be heard as the figure in front removed his wand from his robes and tapped the door lightly. It immediately creaked open and the twelve figures that had just arrived, as well as the ones who had been waiting around, filed into the dark room that lay behind the door.
Mr. Zabini pulled Hermione through the door quickly. “Come, this is important,” he said.
“Where are we?” Hermione questioned in a whisper.
“The basement of Riddle Manor.”
The Dark Lord gave a smile that looked more like a grimace. “Excellent. Excellent, you are all here,” his cold voice said, “Come; join me, for there is much I have to tell you.”
The figures formed an incomplete circle around their master and focused their full attention on him, refraining from looking to the floor to satisfy their curiosity. The Dark Lord stood from his throne-like seat and began walking around in front of them. “I sense that you are all wondering why I have called you here at so late an hour,” he said, “The reason is this… There is tale of a Prophesied being that could destroy your Lord.”
Whispers broke out among the cloaked figures. “Surely that’s not possible my Lord,” said a voice, louder than the others.
“Impossible though it may be, I will not take the chance of it coming to pass,” Voldemort said, “As it is, the Prophesy I speak of has already been made and now rests safely in the Department of Mysteries at the Ministry of Magic.”
“Then we shall retrieve it for you my Lord.”
“Yes! Yes, we shall!” came several shouts of agreement.
Voldemort lifted a pale, white hand and the room fell silent. “There is no need, for I have acquired the only witness to the aforementioned Prophesy,” he said silkily, motioning to the figure on the floor.
The Death Eaters took this as their allowance to look down. Their eyes were met by the sight of a practically mangled body, bloody and broken. It was obvious to them that their master had spent several hours, possibly even days, torturing this man for the information he wanted. “Zabini!” called Voldemort, “Step forward.”
A tall figure, toward the center of their formation stepped forward and kneeled in front of Voldemort, “My Lord?”
“You will kill this man.”
The kneeling hooded figure bowed low and lifted his hood and mask. “Anything to serve you, Master.”
Hermione let out a silent gasp. Kneeling just mere feet from her was a younger version of her father, looking up at Voldemort in adoration. Although she had known that her father was a Death Eater, she had not known just how close he had truly been to Voldemort.
Zabini quickly stood up and withdrew his wand from his robes and pointed it at the cowering man at his feet. “AVADA KEDAVRA!” he shouted.
With a flash of bright green light, the man on the floor was silenced and lifeless. “Let all those who choose to keep things from me know that this is what awaits them!” Voldemort stated loudly. “Lord Voldemort does not tolerate secrets!”
Murmurs of understanding filled the room. “My Lord?”
“Yes, Lucius, is there a question burning in your gut?”
“Yes, my Lord.”
“You may ask it.”
“If you please, what is it that the Prophesy states will destroy you?”
“That is not your concern Lucius,” Voldemort said, “I have already chosen one of you to take care of this matter and it will be done so with no mistakes! Zabini!”
“Yes, my Lord?”
“This task is appointed to you. The rest of you may leave. I must speak to Zabini alone.”
Obediently, the cloaked figures filed out of the room, leaving Zabini alone with Voldemort. “Sit,” Voldemort said, flicking his wand.
A chair fell silently next to Zabini, who instantly sat down. “How long have you served me, Zabini?”
“Ten years now my Lord.”
“And you have served me well… which is why I am giving this task to you.”
“I am deeply honored my Lord.”
“As you should be; this task is very important,” Voldemort told him, “However, before I tell you your task, I am going to show you what I saw in that horrid creature’s mind.”
With that being said, Voldemort touched the tip of his wand to his temple and slowly began pulling it away. Seemingly attached to the tip of the wand was a silvery liquid strand. Zabini knew this to be a memory. Next thing he knew, he was shot with a burst of pain just behind his eyes.
Suddenly, his head was filled with the vision of an odd looking woman, seeming to be choking on something. Then, he heard it.
And so the Bringer of Darkness shall fall at the hands of The Light.
Wary should Darkness be for The Bearer soon approaches, Wielder of The Light.
None such as The Bearer has ever before walked this Earth.
Only a Crescent reveals her, a mark from her birth.
Her destiny shall be fulfilled, bringing Darkness’s demise.
And The Light shall brighten, bringing joy to everyone’s lives.
Another burst of pain shot through him and he was looking at his master again. “What is your will, my Lord?” he asked.
“You will find this ‘Bearer’ and destroy her,” Voldemort said simply, “If she never comes to possess this ‘Light’ then I shall never be destroyed.”
“My Lord, are you not worried about the part that said ‘Her destiny shall be fulfilled’?”
“Not in the least, Zabini. Now go, you have work to do,” Voldemort said, “You must find out who this ‘Bearer’ is.”
Zabini stood quickly and bowed his head. “Yes my Lord,” he said. He then turned and left as quickly as he could so as to start doing his master’s will.
Hermione suddenly felt a floating sensation as her father grabbed her hand. The two floated upward until they finally found themselves standing in the study. “So, there’s something else that’s meant to kill Lord Voldemort?”
Mr. Zabini shook his head as his wife gasped. “Do not say his name, Hermione,” he said, bottling up that memory and picking up the next, “I am certain that there is something out there more powerful than anything we have ever seen.”
Mr. Zabini nodded. “The Dark Lord does not fear anything that we know of, but he will not stand for anything or anyone trying to destroy him.”
“So, what is the Light, exactly?”
“I am not certain. It could be anything, I suppose,” he told her as he poured the second memory into the pensieve, “Come, there is one more memory to see. Marjorie, I believe you should join us for this one.”
Hermione grasped her father’s hand tightly again as her mother joined them. During the dark fall, Hermione’s thoughts were hopeful that this next memory would be happier than the one they had just seen.