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Chapter 32 : Midnight Secrets
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Harry industriously scrubbed the kitchen floor, on his hands and knees, with a scrub brush and soapy water, because he had learned at the Dursleys that was the best way to make sure the floor was really clean—a sponge mop or regular mop just didn't do it—and muttered about how his guardian was monstrously unfair. "He promised me he wouldn't make me clean things like I used to at Privet Drive and yet here I am—cleaning! And for what? A cheeky comment? Bloody hell!"
The bucket of water didn't answer him. But someone else did.
"Harry, what are you mumbling about?"
Harry skidded around on his knees to find Hermione right behind him, standing at the edge of the kitchen, still in her purple nightshirt and sleep socks, her hair looking as if it was trying to imitate Medusa. "Cripes! Hermione!"
"Didn't mean to startle you," she said with a smirk. "Getting a head start on your detention?"
"Yeah," he said sourly. "I didn't mean to wake you."
"You didn't. I was having a lovely dream, I was dreaming I was among a herd of unicorns and running with them and then when I paused and looked into a pool of water, I was a unicorn too. I've had that dream once before. I wonder if it means anything?"
"I don't know. You're one of Selene's Chosen too. Maybe it's a sign of Her favor, like the lance. Maybe you should ask the professor, he probably could tell you what it means, seeing as he's Her Endymion." He made the word, which was meant to be a title of honor, sound like a slur.
Hermione frowned at him. "Looks like somebody woke up on the wrong side of the bed this morning."
Harry bristled. "Yeah, well, if it weren't for a certain person being so damn touchy, I wouldn't be doing this at five AM!" He gestured to the bucket and the brush.
"Harry! You were cheeky and disrespectful. Don't you think you deserve some kind of consequences for acting that way?" she reproved.
"I didn't mean for it to come out that way!" he objected. "And he didn't have to be such a hardarse and make me scrub the floor when he bloody well promised I wouldn't have to do chores like this the way I did at my relatives!"
He didn't realize it, but a distinct whine had crept into his voice, aggravating Hermione even further. She hated when people complained over just punishments.
"Does he make you scrub the floor everyday?"
"Well . . .no . . .this is the first time, but . . ."
"Do you have to clean the whole house everyday without magic?"
"No. But this still sucks!"
"You're in trouble, you're not supposed to enjoy it, you're supposed to learn from it," she lectured. "That's what I've never understood about you or Ron. You two break rules, or cop an attitude with a teacher, and then you act all put upon when you get called on the carpet for it! If you do something wrong, you're supposed to take the consequences. But you act like consequences exist for everyone but you and it's unfair when somebody punishes you for it."
"I do not! I shouldn't be scrubbing a bloody floor at five in the morning just 'cause I wished him 'sweet dreams'!"
Her eyes flashed. "Would you rather he backhanded you across the mouth then? Like your uncle?"
"I'd rather he develop a sense of humor!"
"A sense of humor . . .? Harry, you really are an idiot sometimes! You weren't saying that to be funny, you were saying it to be cheeky. There is a difference, you know. Sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it. And last night you were being insulting and you ought to know he doesn't tolerate that. You twitting him about Selene was wrong, Harry. That's a private thing between him and the goddess, a sacred thing, and it's not something you should joke about. It made him feel awkward and uncomfortable, don't you see that? How would you feel if Malfoy twitted you about something like that?"
"That's different," he argued. "I would have decked Malfoy."
"Boys! Okay, so maybe this is Professor Snape's way of decking you. In which case you should just shut up and quit whining."
"Sure, you can talk. Little Miss Perfect, who never gets in trouble, I'll bet you were always a good little girl, your parents' darling, right?"
The moment the words were out of his mouth, he regretted them. "'Mione, I'm sorry—I didn't mean it—"
"You never do, do you? Next time maybe you should think before you open your mouth, then maybe your foot would n't be stuck in it!" she snapped, wiping away tears. "For your information, Mr. Potter, I wasn't a perfect child at all. When I was little—four and five, I was a wild thing, I threw tantrums and fits all the time, because my parents worked long hours and were never home and I learned if I misbehaved for my nanny, they'd come home to be with me. So I'd get to see them more. I used to lie on the floor and scream myself blue and kick my poor nanny in the shins."
"Me. I was a real little hellion. And my magic reacted to it and made things break and once the coffee maker exploded and the curtains caught on fire. I drove my parents crazy, 'till they spoke to a child psychologist who told them I was acting out because I wanted their attention and didn't care how I got it—even if I got a spanking, it was still better than no attention at all."
Harry gaped at her. "But you're so . . .you actually got a spanking? I thought your parents didn't believe in that kind of thing."
"They didn't really. But my dad was on his last nerve one day and I'd just kicked Nanny Sylvia black and blue and lit my house on fire because she wouldn't give me sweets for breakfast, he had to leave an office full of patients to come home and deal with it all and he just snapped. I can't blame him. After that, Dad made an appointment with the therapist and he explained how they could correct my behavior without resorting to physical punishment, and more importantly, why I was acting the way I did."
"So . . .what did they do?"
"They made me understand that when I was naughty they were disappointed in me and things I didn't like happened as a result. Like time out. And no TV. And when I behaved, it made them happy and proud and they started spending more time with me as a reward. Then we got to go places on their days off—like the zoo and the park and stuff. I loved that and that was what I really wanted. So my good days started to outnumber my bad ones, and that's how I learned to follow the rules. And to take the consequences if I broke them. That's all Professor Snape's trying to do with you, Harry. He's not doing it to be mean, he's doing it because he loves you, and he wants you to be a better man than your father was at your age."
Harry didn't answer, he simply looked down at the puddle of soapy water on the kitchen floor. What Hermione said made sense—too much sense. James had been a spoiled bully at fourteen, reckless, impulsive, and utterly uncaring about the consequences of his actions. I always said I never wanted to be like that. I never meant to hurt Severus' feelings. Hermione's right. I do deserve this. When the hell did she get to be so wise? And here I thought all she knew was books. He glanced up at her then. "Okay, you're right. I owe Severus an apology. Happy now?"
She laughed. "See, you can be taught! I'm glad I'm dating a smart guy—you're one of the few left in Hogwarts, Harry."
"Yippee," he said sarcastically. Then he chuckled. "Sorry I lost my temper before and acted like a prat. You should have decked me one."
"I did. Verbally."
"Oh. Yeah, you sure did," he admitted. "Ouch!"
"Better get on scrubbing the floor, Mr. Brilliant. It's almost six thirty. The Professor gets up early, remember?"
Harry resumed his task, scrubbing quickly and efficiently. If there was one thing he had learned, and learned well, from Petunia, it was how to clean things. It was perhaps the only useful lesson she had ever taught him. In fifteen minutes he was through with both the kitchen and the hallway leading down to the back door, and then he cheated and dried the floor with a charm, because Severus hadn't told him he couldn't use magic to dry the floor.
It was spotless and the wood gleamed, Harry had washed it with a combination of white vinegar, water, and some lemon-scented floor cleaner. That had always been Petunia's preferred floor cleaner. And it worked beautifully.
He stood up, wincing at the crick in his back. He was woefully out of shape if scrubbing a floor or two made him stiff, he thought ruefully. "There! Looks good, right?"
She pulled off her sock and ran her bare foot over the floor. "Perfect. It's shiny but not slippery. What floor cleaner did you use?"
"The Dursley method," he replied, and told her.
"Works great." She pulled her sock back on.
"Well, I'm off to the shower."
"I'm going to get dressed and make some coffee," she said, as he put the cleaning equipment away and headed upstairs.
By the time Harry finished his shower and got changed, Severus was cooking breakfast with Hermione. Today they were having waffles with fresh fruit and ham. Harry inhaled the delicious aroma and his mouth watered. He slid into his usual place at the breakfast nook and looked up at Severus as he levitated a plate with a large waffle topped with fresh strawberries, blueberries, and bananas. A pitcher of warmed syrup was upon the table along with a pot of tea and cream and sugar. The plate of waffles was accompanied by a smaller dish of ham.
Harry poured syrup over his waffle and cut it up, waiting until Severus and Hermione had been seated with their own plates before he said contritely, "Professor, I'm sorry for how I talked to you last night. I was out of line. But I didn't mean it the way it sounded, I was just—"
"—being a cocky teenage boy," finished his guardian. "I hope next time you'll think before you open your mouth, Harry. Apology accepted."
"Thank you, sir," Harry said, relieved that Severus was no longer angry.
"Oh, and good work on the floor," Severus added, with a sly grin. "It would seem Petunia taught you well."
"One thing she did right," answered his ward, then he continued eating.
After a moment, Severus said calmly, "Despite your cheek last night, I would like to tell you that you may, if you wish, address me more informally, Harry. At home, you do not need to call me 'professor' or 'sir', but may use my given name, Severus." He turned to Hermione. "That also applies to you, Hermione."
Both of his wards—he thought of Hermione as his ward even though it was not yet official—smiled happily. He supposed they were relieved that they didn't have to "sir" him every other sentence, and the more relaxed atmosphere might promote more trust between them.
"Thank you, Severus," Hermione grinned. "About the Gifts Selene gave us . . .do you know if they're permanent?"
Severus paused while chewing a piece of ham. "I know only that She told me that my gifts are meant for the battle to come only, and afterwards I shall be as I was before. Based upon that, I would say the battle will be very tough, in which case I shall need to give both of you some pointers on dueling, and maybe even set up a quintain for you to practice with your lance, Hermione."
"What's a quintain?" she asked.
"It's a stuffed target shaped like a man on a pole that spins around when it's struck that knights used to practice jousting with," Harry replied.
Severus raised an eyebrow. "How did you know that?"
"I read a lot of stories about King Arthur. They were always talking about practicing with the quintain."
"Oh. That would be good. So at least I don't drop it when we face His Unholiness."
"Right." Severus agreed. "You might also want to practice with your Animagus form, Harry, get accustomed to it, and to shifting back and forth. Because yours is a Gift from Selene, you won't take as long to shift as a new Animagus does, since you merely have to will yourself to transform. Still, the first few times can be . . . disorientating, so it's good to practice. You'll also need time to accustom yourself to your new form and learn to balance your mind with the unicorn mind. I would suggest you begin today, perhaps after breakfast."
Harry looked pleased. "Will you be with me as Moon Fire, sir—umm . . .Severus?"
"For a little while, I shall. But I did promise Hermione that I would take her back to her home to see if there are any memorabilia that she can take with her. And the sooner we pay a visit there, the better."
"That's fine. I can stay home alone, you know," Harry said, a teasing note in his voice. "I promise I won't set the curtains on fire."
"Shut up, Harry." Hermione scowled.
The Potions Master looked at both teenagers. "Is there something I should know about you two?"
Hermione sighed. "When I was five, I set fire to my curtains in my bedroom by accidental magic."
"Ah. I see. I would think you've learned not to play with matches by now, Mr. Potter." He rose to his feet. "Wash the dishes, if you would, and then meet me outside. We'll practice for an hour or so and then I'll escort Hermione back to her old neighborhood."
"Okay, Severus." Harry concentrated and the dishes flew into the sink and then he cast a "Scourfgify!" upon them. He was very excited to practice his new ability.
Harry soon found that while shifting from his human form to that of the unicorn was easy, controlling the unicorn form was not. The unicorn mind wanted to run free of the paddock and into Sherwood Forest, which was not something Harry was ready to do yet, despite his newfound connection to the Green Man. He had to fight the unicorn mind's desire for freedom and that made him awkward when he ran or trotted next to Moon Fire. One good thing was that now he could understand and speak with Moon Fire.
Why are you tripping over your own hooves, young colt? Moon Fire asked, trotting effortlessly around the paddock.
I can't help it, Moon Fire. The mind . . .the unicorn mind . . .wants me to just jump the fence and run away into Sherwood. The black unicorn kicked out his heels in frustration.
Ah. I was much the same when I first transformed. There will always be a part of you that is wild. Your true heart is untamed and belongs running free through the woods. As does mine. The black stallion reared suddenly, then sprang away, thundering across the paddock. Catch me if you can, midnight one!
Harry gave chase, finding that when he wished, the unicorn form could fly as swiftly as the wind, if not swifter. He raced hard, coming within a length of Moon Fire before the stallion gathered himself and popped neatly over the fence.
Harry didn't even realize he was jumping through the air until he had landed upon the other side of the fence. He neighed in alarm. Moon Fire! I jumped the fence!
I know. Come, follow me into the forest.
Into Sherwood? But you said . . .
I said do not wander there alone. You'll not be alone, I shall be with you. Come! Sometimes you need to run in order to regain control."
Then he tore off across the lawn and Harry followed, delighting in the lightning swift speed in his graceful yet delicate-looking legs.
An hour's run in the forest, weaving his way through the trees and down small trails, racing across meadows filled with deer, gave Harry the necessary control he needed to subdue the unicorn mind and become comfortable in his new shape. The unicorn was like the wind made flesh, and Harry could have happily run in Sherwood forever. But all too soon, Moon Fire led them back home.
Once he'd transformed back, Harry found he was wobbly-kneed.
"That's a side-effect of transformation. The more you practice, the easier it will get." The older wizard told him.
"That's what I figured. Severus, where did you get the name Moon Fire? Did she tell you to call yourself that or did you choose it?"
"I named myself one moonlit night," Severus replied. "I would say you could do the same."
"Okay," Harry said, thinking now he had to find a name he could live with. "Think I'm gonna take a nap." He yawned.
"While you're sleeping, Miss Granger and I shall pay a visit to her old home."
Severus was as good as his word. Harry went upstairs to sleep, and Hermione eagerly took his arm and they Apparated away to her home.
Mulberry Terrace looked the same as always, Hermione thought as they DisApparated behind a small stand of rhododendrons not a block away from her home. The same comfortable houses, all built in the Georgian and Victorian style, with wraparound porches and hydrangea bushes and kids playing in the backyard with their dogs and friends. She could smell someone frying bacon and sausages nearby and bread baking as well. And the perfume from the flowers mingled with the odor of sizzling meat and fresh mown grass.
It smells like home. Like I never left, she thought, glancing around. Then she teared up, remembering.
She felt Snape take her arm and heard him say, "Come, Hermione. Your house is just down the street, yes?"
"It is. I'm sorry. I promised myself I wouldn't do this . . ." she swiped at her eyes angrily.
"Love is memory," was all he said, but she found the simple words comforting.
They soon arrived at her house, which was a simple gray stone Victorian with high peaked roofs and pink shingles. The flowers along the walk, so meticulously planted by Jeanne Granger, had died. There was police tape stretched across the door and windows and the walk. Hermione avoided looking towards the backyard, where unspeakable atrocities had occurred. "Professor?" her voice quavered as she fought for control, forgetting in her distress to call him by his name.
Severus took her arm and after looking about swiftly and checking that all those neighbors were otherwise occupied with tasks inside the home using his newfound telepathic scanning ability, Apparated them inside the Grangers' home.
There was a layer of dust across the furniture, and more police tape across the shattered window in the dining room, but otherwise Hermione could see that almost everything remained the same. No one had come to evaluate the contents of the house as yet, and for that she was extremely grateful.
"It looks the same. The very same as on that night, except . . .someone threw out our unfinished dinner and the garbage. Otherwise it would stink in here. At least someone did that."
She looked towards her mum's favorite chair, an old patched recliner which Jeanne had always sworn she was going to get rid of, but never had, mainly because it was so comfortable. Her mother's favorite blanket, an Argyll plaid was lying across it. Hermione went over and picked it up, recalling the many nights her mum used to snuggle up beneath it with her and read her stories. She buried her face in it and started to cry. Why did they have to die? Why? It's not fair! I wanted them to meet Harry, I wanted my dad to walk me down the aisle at my wedding, to see me have their first grandchild and now . . .nothing will ever be the same . . .
Severus moved quietly about the room, removing pictures from the wall for Hermione to pick from, many of them were school photos of her from age five up until she attended Hogwarts. It was clear that the Grangers had cherished their daughter. He found a photo album in a bookcase and placed that with the framed pictures, giving the girl some space to grieve in private.
Finally Hermione mastered herself and turned about to apologize to her teacher and guardian for getting all emotional, only to find that Severus had thoughtfully gathered up the pictures and photo album for her. She spent a few minutes looking at her younger self, with braces, and grimacing. Then she recalled going school shopping with her mum and to football games with her dad. She found she couldn't bear to part with any of the pictures, and shrunk them with her magic and tucked them into a small carryall she'd brought with her. She did the same to the blanket and the recliner. A small voice in the back of her head ragged on her, saying she was crazy to start keeping the furniture, but the recliner had character and memories and she knew it would only get tossed in the rubbish bin by whoever bought the house next.
"Severus?" she called. "I'm going upstairs to look in my mum and dad's room and my room."
"Take your time, there's no rush," he called back.
She slowly climbed the stairs, recalling how many times she had run down them or slid down the banister as a child on Christmas morning. Or on the first day of school, or for a piano recital, she'd had lessons when she was seven, but when she didn't display sufficient talent, had stopped them at age eight. "I'd rather concentrate on becoming a scientist," she had gravely informed her parents, and then she had asked for a chemistry set for her birthday as well as a flower press.
She reached her bedroom first, and slowly opened the door. Everything was the way she had left it. The light in the ceiling was still flickering, her father had been going to change the bulb. She clasped her silver unicorn necklace hard. Her wallpaper was still the same as it had been during her primary school days, a soft cream with little pink roses on it. This year she had been going to change it for something more . . .mature, her mother had been going to bring her to the store to pick out new paper as one of their summer projects together.
Up on the walls were all of her certificates she'd won in school, Firsts in Science, Maths, English Literature, History, Latin. Best All Around Student. Perfect Attendance. She'd won that three years in a row. None of her teachers had been surprised when she had been issued an invitation to attend a private prestigious school in Scotland. She had been a known bookworm in primary school, teachers had loved her and some of her classmates had hated her, claimed she always showed them up on purpose. But it had hardly been her fault she had been born with a brain that soaked up information like a sponge and retained it like an elephant.
Mum and Dad were so proud that I was an overachiever in school and they always told me that someday I would find friends who appreciated me for my brains. They were right. I found Harry. And maybe Ron too.
She looked about at her room and decided to take her clothes, shoes, favorite books, her school trunk, and the bedroom furniture for her new room at Snape's house. That way, she reasoned, it would feel more like home to her and save the professor money at the same time. She quickly shrank all the furniture and the certificates, figuring she might show them to her children someday. She took a framed print of Monet's Water Lilies as well and another of the famous tapestry The Lady and the Unicorn. For some reason she had always been drawn to unicorns as a child, and had loved reading stories and legends about them. When she was small, she'd had unicorn paper on the wall.
She gave a nostalgic smile and then she moved on to the bathroom, taking personal articles like her toothbrush and comb and shampoo and conditioner and feminine products she knew would never be found in a bachelor's household.
Finally there was only her parents' bedroom left.
She eased open the door. The bed had not been made, it was still rumpled and the indentation of her father's head was still on his pillow. She crept closer and stood by the bed, staring down at it, picturing her father and mother asleep. Tears formed and fell upon the pillow. She took it and hugged it, it still smelled faintly of her father's Old Spice aftershave.
Mechanically, she went through the dresser and the closet, keeping a stranglehold over her emotions. She took her mum's favorite earrings, shaped like falling leaves in tri-toned gold, and a sapphire ring she had always admired. Her father had a pair of gold cufflinks with his initials on it she saved and she also took her mum's favorite lavender jumper. There was a shoebox way in the back of the closet, and Hermione Summoned it down. Funny, but she didn't ever remember seeing this before.
She opened it and found a small album, like a scrapbook, and something that looked like her birth certificate and some other official looking documents. She tucked it away to look at later, then took one last glance about the room.
There was nothing she wanted. The best memories she had were all in her head.
She walked back down the stairs. "I'm finished, Severus."
He came out of the den, and gave her a questioning glance. "Are you sure? Because we shan't be returning here. This house will probably be put up for sale soon and its contents inventoried and sold at auction."
"I know. I hope you don't mind, but I . . .took my bedroom furniture and my mum's recliner, I didn't want you to have to pay for new furniture . . ."
"Child, I am not destitute, despite the fact that I've not gotten a raise out of my skinflint boss in three years—" he began.
"I know, sir, but I just . . .would feel better if I had my own bed to sleep in . . .I'm sorry if I'm insulting you, Professor . . ." she hung her head.
He tilted her head up. "Hermione, I understand your wish to hold onto things from your former life, you do not need to explain that to me, but when I assume guardianship of you, it is my duty to provide for you as I do Harry. And I am perfectly capable of doing so. Whatever money is in your vault at Gringotts can remain there for your personal use, I shall not touch it for tuition or school supplies. You are like my daughter now, as Harry is my son. Understood?"
"Yes, Severus. It means a lot to hear you say that," she threw her arms about him and hugged him.
A split second later she wondered if she had made a mistake, for he stiffened, and she figured he probably wasn't used to being hugged.
Then his arms came around her and pressed her into his soft midnight blue shirt and she rested her head on his chest and listened to his heartbeat. Dad used to hold me this way, she remembered, and then she started to cry. "I'm sorry, Severus! I'm sorry!"
"Shhh . . .it's all right . . .cry all you want, I won't melt . . .I'm probably doing this all wrong, but I'll try my best to be there for you if you need me . . ."
His words and the deep tone of his voice reverberated soothingly in her ears and she just leaned against him and let herself cry until she was spent. His arms around her felt so good she almost never wanted him to let go.
She sniffled and took the handkerchief he handed her, then said softly, "You didn't do that wrong at all, sir. You did it perfectly."
"Yeah. You got the comfort part down cold." She laughed at his shocked expression. "I'm ready now, Severus. Let's go . . .home." Goodbye, Mum and Dad. I'll miss you forever, but at least I have a guardian now. Maybe that was what Selene meant when she spoke of a family?
He held her close and did as she wished.
She signed the guardianship papers the moment they arrived back at the farmhouse, and Severus enlarged his bedroom to store his extra items and gave Hermione the empty room for her own. She spent the rest of the day rearranging and redecorating it with her old things and new ones, she made the walls a sunset palate of colors, and placed the tapestry and Monet prints and photos upon it. The recliner went into a corner near the window, with the blanket upon it, and she sat in it, surveying her new domicile.
"Hey. Mind if I come in?"
Harry poked his head around the doorframe.
"Sure. What do you think?"
"It looks great. Really nice!" he said, walking in and looking about.
"It's not too . . .brainy or girly or . . ."
He put a finger to her lips. "It's perfect. Like you." Then he kissed her, a mere brush of his lips against hers, like the fluttering of butterfly wings.
She felt her heart start to pound and liquid warmth cascaded from her head to her feet. She had to force herself to step away, recalling Severus' rules. She didn't want to disappoint her new guardian on her first official day as his new "daughter."
"Have a seat," she gestured to the recliner and took a seat on the bed, next to the shoebox from her mother's closet.
Harry did, sinking into the comfy chair and sighing in bliss. "Great chair, 'Mione! It makes my bruised backside feel great."
"Why is your bottom bruised?"
"Ah . . .I was riding Moon Fire while you were decorating in here, and I wanted to try out that quintain he set up on the lawn. I used a piece of wood for a lance and ended up on my bum three times out of five. I would have made a terrible knight."
She giggled. "But you make a wonderful unicorn."
"True." He grinned back at her. "What's in that box?"
"Umm . . .I don't really know. Haven't had the chance to look at it. I think Mum put my birth certificate in there and probably some baby photos and my baptism certificate . . ." she opened the box and picked up the album. "Here, take a look. You can laugh at my goofy baby pictures." She tossed the album to him, and looked at the other papers inside. One was her birth certificate, she glanced at it briefly, then she took another look.
Instead of her name, Hermione Jeanne Granger, it read baby girl, name unknown, born September 19th, 1979. There was a second document, paper clipped to the birth certificate. She stared at it, disbelieving.
"Hermione?" Harry's voice sounded odd. "Have you looked at this album recently?"
"No. Why?" She stared at the papers in her hand, thinking it must be a mistake.
"Because it's not just a baby album. It's got letters in it that your mum wrote to somebody named Dee Bristol. Do you know anyone by that name?"
"I . . .she used to be my mum's roommate at university but I haven't seen or heard from her in years, she was my mum's best friend. Why?"
"Because . . .these letters here say that . . .you're not really a Granger. That you were adopted, and Dee Bristol was the one who found you and told your parents about you. Read it."
She took the album. Inside was a baby picture of herself, written beneath it in her mother's classic script was Our new baby girl, four weeks old. There were letters written in an unfamiliar hand to her mother, letters that expressed regret that Jeanne couldn't conceive and suggested she look at adoption as a way to have a child. More letters where Dee told Jeanne and Danny excitedly that she had found an agency with a foundling girl they might like to look at.
" . . .She was found crying in a bassinet made of woven wicker in a park near Inverness, wearing only a silver unicorn pendant and a white gown, a man out for a walk with a shepherd heard her crying and brought her to Child Services. They ended up transferring her down to York and I think she'd be perfect for you . . .I've recommended you for possible adoption, Jeannie, all you have to do is come down and take a look at her . . ."
She flipped the page and saw another photo, this one of herself and her parents, she was six weeks. The caption beneath read—Hermione Jeanne Granger, our daughter, born September 19th, the day we took her home.
The letter next to it read . . ."I think Hermione Jeanne is a beautiful name and I would be honored to stand as her godmother . . .it's fitting that you make her birthday the day you took her into your hearts and your home.
Best of luck,
"I . . .I can't believe they never told me."
"Maybe they were going to tell you one day," Harry supposed. "Is it really so bad, that you were adopted? I mean, there were times when I lived with the Dursleys that I used to wish I was adopted." Then he blushed. "Sorry, bad example. I'm really sticking my foot in it today."
"It's okay. I'm just . . .really shocked." She shoved everything in the box and hopped off her bed.
"Where are you going?"
"To show Severus. He ought to know about this."
Five minutes later, they were all sitting on the sofa in the den, Severus was reading the letters in the album, and Hermione kept wondering how she had never guessed all those years. "It never occurred to me, even though I didn't have hair anything like my . . .mum's or dad's . . .they both had straight hair, and Mum's was blond, though Dad had darker hair . . .I just can't believe they never told me . . .why would they keep it a secret, like they were ashamed or something . . ."
"I doubt that," Severus said quietly. "From what I read here, your parents loved you every bit as if they were your biological ones. I think perhaps they were waiting for the right time to tell you . . .like when you were old enough to understand why they chose you, how it made you special . . ."
Hermione bit her lip. "Just before it happened . . .I remember Mum and Dad discussing something and when I came into the room, they stopped . . .maybe they were discussing telling me or something . . .But now I'll never know . . ." she trailed off, fingering the silver unicorn pendant. "This was found about my neck . . .I wonder if it's a symbol or something . . ."
"Like a House crest?" Severus asked. "I know a few pureblood crests, but none of them have a unicorn as their symbol."
"Is there a book of pureblood House crests somewhere?"
"Yes, the Ministry library has one or two." The Potions Master replied. "But before we go that route, might I suggest we contact this Dee Bristol? She might be able to tell us more."
"I could write her a letter!" Hermione cried excitedly. "Maybe she knows something about my . . .birth family. Maybe that's what Selene meant when She said I still had family somewhere."
"That is possible. Or it could mean She was speaking of me and Harry, as my ward, you are now part of my family," Severus mused.
"You're right. I never thought about it like that before. There's a lot of ways we could interpret Her words."
"There usually is," her guardian said wryly. "The Lady is fond of riddles and mysteries."
"Well, one way or another, I'm going to solve this one," said his new ward determinedly. "Not because I don't want to be a Granger, because I'll always love my parents, but because I need to find out who I really am."
"Know thyself," murmured Severus.
"Exactly." Hermione said, and she stared down at the silver unicorn charm, instinctively knowing that it held the key to her past.
Well, what did you think of that chapter? Did you like the conversation between Hermione and Harry in the beginning? And how Hermione's relationship with Severus is coming along? Who do you think are Hermione's real parents? Is she really a Muggleborn?
I've also updated Irresistible Chemistry, in case you didn't notice, please go and read and review my new chapter! Thanks!
Oh and one more thing, I need you all to help pick a name for Harry's new Animagus form. I'm going to post a poll like I did with Away in A Manger, please give me one name for Harry's black unicorn form. I will then take all the names and put them in a poll so you can vote on it. Thanks, I really appreciate it!
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