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Chapter 2 : Time to make your decisions
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Hermione turned back on herself, her vertigo slightly setting in as she looked out towards the sea, only a single bobbing buoy out there to catch her attention. She hadn’t apparated too far from her destination in all honesty compared to some previous times. It only took her three minutes to walk into the centre of the garden. Dobby’s grave lay in the middle surrounded in flowers and everlasting tributes to the elf that had saved all of their lives on that fateful day.
The bench was empty and Hermione sat, just thinking about how everything had gone so wrong that morning. It was meant to be her day off, her day to relax and just have time away from work. Everything had been going crazy for the past few weeks in the Department of Inheritance with several cases of people who had only just been discovered to be dead in the aftermath of capturing the last remaining Death Eaters has been submitted.
She could hear the sound of the waves battering against the limestone cliff face which reflected her thoughts battering against the side of her brain internally. How could Ron have just been so insensitive regarding the subject of marriage? They’d talked about it before sure and Ron knew that Hermione did want an intimate proposal rather than the grand one Harry had made to Ginny a few months before… but to just be that emotionless whilst asking was taking it one step too far in her opinion.
The not offering her food and even the eating with his mouth open she could have dealt with but he knew how important marriage was to her. Since a young age, she had dreamed of someday having just a little intimate affair, maybe even eloping for her wedding just so the focus could be on her and her husband, she had never even entertained the idea of having children outside of marriage either. To her having the security of both parents was something that she had never taken for granted after seeing the breakdown of the marriage of her aunt and uncle and the effect it had on her cousin with her sinking into very deep depression.
Hermione gave a dejected sigh and placed her head in her hands. Right now she didn’t know what to do, she didn’t want to go home because she’d have to face the subject and she just wanted him have shown her a little more emotion, even saying ‘Hermione Granger, I love you, will you marry me?’ would have been better than ‘Hermione, do you think we should get married.’ Even the uncertainty with the word ‘should’ upset her. He wanted to marry her because he thought they should rather than the fact he wanted to and that hurt her.
The writing on the gravestone opposite caught her eye. ‘Here lies Dobby… A free elf’. It just reiterated to her how far they’d come and how much they’d achieved since the edge of the war. She knew she should be happy with what she had at the moment and not get annoyed with Ron so much, she knew that he had her best interests at heart however badly he seemed to express it.
She remembered to the times when they’d first got together, it was fun, exciting even. They’d moved straight into Grimmauld Place with Harry after the war needing their own space and waking up to Ron every morning made her happier than she could have ever imagined herself. Just think, that bushy haired, bucktoothed, bookworm being loved by one of the sweetest men she had ever met in her life.
Even when they first moved out, after Ginny and Harry started to live together, there was just passion and excitement in their relationship, but two years later they seemed to have settled into the mundane reality of being an adult. Going to work, attending balls, smiling for the camera, they hardly had any time for each other. Ron was working more hours than ever and Hermione had just changed departments so she too was trying hard to settle in and make sure that she was doing the work at the right pace. It was hard.
But at the same time, it wasn’t Ron’s fault. It wasn’t his fault that she had just been stressed, it was just the one day in almost forever that they had had a day off together and the fact she had woken up in a good mood that morning had just somehow made her more irritable.
It was sort of ironic really. She had apparated to the place of beauty and tranquillity because she thought it would calm her down however it had just made her think and because of that she was even more keyed up. Hermione didn’t trust herself to be able to go home in the mood she was still in because she might say something she didn’t mean and end up causing a completely unnecessary argument. Even though Ron may have meant well, it didn’t stop her being just slightly annoyed at the fact that he was just so insensitive.
Hermione reached for her wand in the inside of her cloak pocket and whispered a spell to herself in which a huge bunch of lillies flourished from the tip of her wand. She took them and placed the beautiful flowers on Dobby’s grave. It was tradition that they leave Lilies ever since the garden had been built just because of the fact that they were a flower that had so much meaning after the funerals of all the fallen soldiers. It had been the flower placed on every single grave and had become a prominent symbol of the battle.
She took her hand to her face and kissed her fingers before placing her hand on the grave stone. Even now Hermione knew she would be forever in debt to Dobby because he was the person who saved their lives and because of that she had made it her mission to make sure more elves got their freedom from their possessive masters. That was her main job, she only worked in the department of Inheritance because she needed to be out of the house. The amount of interviews and magazine deals they’d done they would never need to work in their lives ever but it was just something all three of the trio thought was important.
Giving one last glance back at the grave stone as she stood up Hermione decided that going home really wasn’t an option. Normally she’d go to Harry and Ginny’s but they’d gone to France for the weekend as an engagement present from George and Angelina and the Burrow was out of the question- Molly could tell when Hermione was upset without even opening her mouth. That left only one option… Going to work on her day off. It wasn’t going to be the end of the world but at least it kept her busy and even the chance to calm down.
She turned twice on the spot before appearing in front of a bright red phone-box. To the muggles it would have looked to be out of order but Hermione knew better. Stepping inside she dialled a familiar number only to be greeted by a woman’s voice asking her what she wanted. This was the only thing that annoyed her about the phone-box, even though she was a ministry employee she still had to wear a badge because she came in through the visitor’s entrance. At least security let her through before examining her wand.
The floor of the phone-box shuddered down as Hermione wondered what work there would be to greet her on her desk. The door opened and she gave security a brief smile before they waved her through allowing her to enter another lift in which she clicked floor number 5. The department of inheritance was a rather mediocre department within the ministry, obviously not as prestigious as the department of aurors or hit wizards but better thought of than the department of muggle artefacts.
Surprisingly when she entered the lift there weren’t any memos bouncing off her head as was usual at this time of the morning but maybe everyone had finally got the message that she wasn’t going to be in today or they’d just been diverted to her in tray which frightened her. It had a nasty habit of shutting itself on the memos causing them to become incensed with anger so when she opened it again they flew out at her angrily jabbing at the air and on occasion her eyes.
Arriving on level 5, everything seemed strangely quiet for a Friday morning; normally it would be full of people bustling about trying to get all their work finished as quickly as possible so they could go home early. As the manager of the department, this unnerved Hermione because it wasn’t normal…At all.
‘Hello?’ She shouted into the seemingly empty room. There were a few murmurs from the kitchen in which Hermione could hear people saying, ‘Bollocks, what’s she doing here!’ and she knew immediately that they’d all been slacking off.
‘RIGHT, everyone taking a tea break Get out here!’ Her bellowing resonated round the room and suddenly she found herself becoming very angry at the fact that her staff thought that could all take a break just because she was having a day off. That’s not how it works. Hermione Granger is not a fool and her staff will not take the liberty of taking the mick out of her whilst she is having her day of! The staff slunk out of the kitchen hanging their heads; some had even had the cheek to bring their mugs out with them.
‘So does anyone want to tell me who ‘authorised’ this break?’ she asked, looking at all of them lined up in front of her with a piercing eye. She commanded much authority within the role of a manager and under her watchful eye no-one, absolutely no-one was allowed to slack off because without looking at case files intently dark artefacts could be passed to family members which could be consequential to the wellbeing of wizards or sometimes there might be a case in which people hae been discounted from wills and shouldn’t have been. Some people’s future relies on this and because of that the work needed to be done with a skill, not by being lazy.
There was silence within the staff; the camaraderie between the colleagues was evident. Hermione knew she probably wasn’t going to get anywhere with them but didn’t want to let it go either. How dare they think that they can just get away with it but at the same time she knew she needed to let it go because she could feel that her anger towards the events earlier would have shone through and that wouldn’t have been fair either.
‘Just get back to work,’ she told them and watched intentely as they dispersed back to their desks, there was silence within the office and she knew as soon as she was in her office the chatter and gossip would start about why she came in to work on her day off but really she didn’t care. They could speculate as much as they wanted but they were not going to get any information out of her, she didn’t want her relationship problems or her ‘possible engagement’ being strewn all over the papers. She didn’t trust anyone in the office with her personal life.
The door to her office was open as she approached but that wasn’t anything out of the ordinary, people often threw files onto her desk in which they couldn’t be bothered to do themselves or had a query about. However, yesterday she had put a note on her desk explicitly forbidding anyone to leave anything on there that wasn’t of immediate importance but as usual was glad to see that her request had been ignored.
Instead of being perfectly tidy and organised like it was yesterday with all the files in alphabetical order in accordance to the date the case was submitted ], there was case files that looked like they had literally been thrown on there. She also noticed that her in tray was in fact full of memos which was what she had expected but left them there. After all it was her day off; therefore she was damn well going to pick and choose the work she had to do.
She didn’t even look at the new files before just throwing them onto the floor. She could deal with that later… or after the weekend. Today she just needed something to occupy her mind, she needed field work in which she could get out of the office and actually do something. She often delegated those tasks to others but as usual she knew that there was probably some case that had been overlooked when she was sorting them out.
Sifting through some of the files, she noticed one that caught her eye. ‘Possessions in storage with no known inheritor’. Perfect she thought to herself opening the case up, it was only when she saw the name of the previous owner that her blood ran cold.
Bathilda Bagshot was the woman that died before being inhabited by Nagini, she was the one who was one of the greatest women of all time but the last time that Hermione had been in her house, surrounded by her possessions, she had nearly died. They had nearly died.
As much Hermione would have relished in the idea of going through such a historical influential woman’s possessions just to see all of the original Hogwarts: A History notes, or the amazing books she would have had in her bookcases but she didn’t know if she could handle the fact that last time she was around them, she had nearly died.
She had to think to herself, was it worth it? She had waited for a lot of her life just waiting for something like this to come along which would have enhanced her knowledge and of course Bathilda would have had so many books, so much information, so much potential just waiting to be read. It was the opportunity of a lifetime and looking at the case file it had been hidden within the pile for quite a while, soon there would be a follow up and the case would be delegated to someone else, she couldn’t afford to let this just slip through her fingers.
The snap second decision that she made was one which she would regret in the future but regardless of that she did it anyway. Looking at the address of the storage hold up and taking the key enclosed in the file, she apparated from her office into the unknown that awaited her.
The storage unit was swathed in a deathly silence as she approached, it seemed to be completely closed to the unknown eye however there was a certain air of magic to it. Stepping up to the seemingly closed reception she walked straight through the ‘solid’ door into a busy reception area which several wizards were waiting for chaperones to show them to their storage units.
‘Excuse me,’ she said to no-one in particular, ‘Can anyone help me?’ Her distinctive voice caused everyone to stop and turn round, having been indoctrinated with the idea that she was a hero for the past three years. Within seconds the huge queue in front of the desk had dissolved and she found herself being pushed towards the door behind the desk which obviously led to the units. Sometimes having prestige and a reputation helped with getting things done a lot quicker and for once she didn’t mind that her status had gotten her priority, she didn’t think she had the patience today.
‘Miss Granger, what can I do for you? Where do you want to go? Do you mind showing me your key?’ Hermione felt herself being inundated with questions as she reached into her coat pocket to retrieve the key which opened up a whole world of possibilities. The man took it from her eagerly and guided her towards one of the larger units towards the far side of the establishment. Maybe having over 100 years of possessions really was hard to try and fit into one box and somehow they’d managed it although by sight Hermione could tell that there had been a ‘very bad’ undetectable extension charm placed on most of them.
They stopped in front of a huge unit with 1375 stamped on the front. The man who had escorted her placed in the key she had given him and turned it. As the doors fell open, she could see that she wasn’t wrong about the extension charms and it would take her several weeks if not months to sift through all these possessions however her roaming eye had already pinpointed the main spots she needed to tackle first.
The furniture at the moment was of no importance to her so as she waved the man away she moved a lot of that immediately. There were several boxes which seemed to be piled high with books but she didn’t attempt to sort through them either. She was looking for letters, manuscripts, anything which would have given indications as to her family that was left who would inherit all of this. Of course she had an underlying motive of wanting to see a lot of the information but as this was part of her job that was her main priority, to find family to inherit them.
A few boxes caught her eye as she roamed around the room, but she still didn’t stop. She didn’t know why but something was drawing her to the back left corner, she’d seen a few stacks of paper and therefore she wanted to see them first. There were three boxes stacked upon each other that were like this, filled to the brim with A4 sheets of paper with words printed on them from what she recognised to be a typewriter.
She smiled as she saw a lot of the articles that were imprinted in her mind, from the several hundred times that she had read Hogwarts: A History from cover to cover. Nearer the bottom, there were notebooks, journals everything that would have gone into the making of the final pieces. She flicked through so many of them and throughout the course of the day she noticed as the sun was going down on the outside and quickly knew she needed to wrap it up for the day even though she had not got half as much work to do as she wanted.
As she started to put the items back into the box, one of the journals which she hadn’t got chance to look in started to rattle and shudder. Hermione drew her wand curiously as she opened the box. There was a beautiful jewelled trinket box with Bathilda stamped on the front. Hermione took the box into her hands and it ceased moving. As far as she could tell it wasn’t dangerous after performing many spells on the box.
She opened in tentatively and at once felt herself twisted up into a whirlwind of smoke. She tried desperately to wave it away with her wand but as the smoke cleared she found herself in an unfamiliar place.
She was in Dumbledore’s office.
As usual everything you recognise is JKR's. The quote for Dobby's grave and the scenes mentioned are all taken from Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows
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