Difference. It was something Hermione was used to her entire life. She was always different. Top grades, nerdy. She had never had plentiful friends. All those giggly girls talking behind her back of how she never wanted to dress up and wear makeup like then. Difference was something Hermione was used to.
It was therefore strange to see all of them going their separate ways. All going to work, all doing things they never imagined. Ginny was off training twenty four seven and it was a strange day when Hermione, for the first time, joined the workforce. She had known what the Ministry had looked like over the years, mediocre and scandalise. It was ironic that the place she hated most in the world was that of the Ministry of Magic. But here she was, packed and ready to join the Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures. Her small handbag lay draped across her shoulder and in one hand she held a small tin jingling with the few coins she had enabled it to carry.
“Don't bother with that spew stuff in the Ministry,” said Ron in a desperate attempt to stop her from causing her delightful new day to catastrophe.
“Ron, I'm in this department to make a change, not to stand around and let everyone boss me around like bullies!” Hermione lashed out, stung by his lack of support. He didn't understand, change was what needed to be done in this world, she didn't care how she got there, as long as she did.
Ron, seeing that he had crossed some kind of line, shut up from thereon in. It was when they left the house that fine morning that he grasped her hand in his and they marched to a spot some few feet from the front steps of The Burrow and disapparated to the Ministry of Magic.
Through the toilets they went as they marched into the Ministry. What Hermione saw astounded her. Everything was as it was except for the monumental fountain in the centre of the building. Instead of the horrendous “Magic is Might” centrepiece taking a great part in Hermione's loathing of the Ministry there was an ornate fountain, tall and elegant in the shape of a bird, what Hermione came to recognise as a Phoenix. She felt like it's sound reverberated across the walls, though no noise erupted from the statue. Water flowed from its outstretched beak and as Hermione and Ron came closer to it she saw what she hadn't seen before.
Tiny, minuscule was inscribed upon every inch of the bird, names upon names, dates upon dates and as she focused her gaze on one, she saw a name which nearly made her burst straight into tears there.
1st April 1978 - 2nd May 1998
Second Wizarding War
Only the good die young but the brave die younger
And the more Hermione looked, the more she saw. More names she recognised, Lupin, Tonks, Colin, all of them, on this one bird. She turned to look Ron in the eyes.
“This is beautiful,” she whispered tearfully as she gathered him in her arms, “This is truly beautiful.”
It was a day like none other then she had ever experienced in her entire life. It was much like her first day at Hogwarts. She had been an outcast that day, as she was now. She thought, perhaps a little naively, that she would have at least been able to tackle and work on some tough issues in society today. She thought she might even be able to get a start on S.P.E.W. in the quiet minutes she had to herself. Whatever she thought, it all went out the windows.
She had walked into the office, bright and enthusiastic. She introduced herself to her Head of Department, a man named Gioglo Hollen. He was a short man, in his mid forties and was greying much too excessively for his age. Although very kind, he was demanding and gently laid to rest any of Hermione's well-nourished plans for the Department.
“You have to wait to tackle the bigger issues,” Hollen had told her, “It all has to meet the guidelines of the Statute of Secrecy and then you have to convince the Department of Magical Law Enforcement to pass it along with the whole entire Wizengamot.
Hermione was crestfallen and when she asked what she could do for the day he answered sweetly: “You can start with the filing.”.
So Hermione sat, all day, sorting papers. She sat there asking herself: What creature? Major, Mild or Minor accident? Were muggles involved? The papers went on and on. She sometimes came across a case with a house elf involved and silently hoped that hard work and determination would get her across the line.
She arrived home dishevelled and weatherworn that night. She ignored her parent's silent protests that she must eat food and drink. She couldn't stop thinking. She wasn't at the top anymore. Sure the Ministry had changed, but how much really? It's more positive, yes. But there wasn't really anything that could boost her status except for her. Even Kingsley, in all his power, couldn't fight this one for her. She wasn't going to cheat to the top, and that was something she was proud of.
It was early May when things started to turn around for the Weasley family. Sure, Hermione was still at the bottom of the heap when it came to work. She would just have to deal with it. Some way she would fight her way up and make a difference. But it was a cool night of the second of May when things began to really change.
Today was the second anniversary of the Second Wizarding War. It was a very bittersweet day. George on this occasion stayed quiet solemn, locked away to his own devices. The rest of them would spend their time pretending that nothing had happened on this day. Nothing out of the ordinary at all. Hermione and Harry were over as usual, helping the Weasleys, spending time with the family they loved so dearly. They laughed half-heartedly at jokes and smiled politely when passing people in the hallways. But there was only one thought in their minds: two years ago we lost so many people we love to a cause that saved so many.
“I want to laugh and have fun,” Hermione told Harry that afternoon while they sat in the Weasley's living room, sipping butterbeer, “but there's just no way that it seems right to.”
“What's there to smile about really?” said Harry darkly as he gazed around the room.
“We won, that's something to smile and be grateful for!” Hermione answered. “Can you imagine what life would be like if Voldemort took over?”
“I try not to imagine anything anymore really.” said Harry, “I just try and live and survive the best I can now.”
“I agree. It's not the happy ending everyone would like but life is so much better now!” Hermione implored, “There's no point of moping and moaning about it.”
“Would you say that if it was your twin who died?” Harry asked her.
“You know I didn't mean it like that!” said Hermione sharply.
“Well you better damn rephrase things then!” Harry jumped out of his seat abruptly and left the room, leaving Hermione isolated. Tears began to stream down her face. No one, she thought, no one deserves to live the way everyone here is. No one can smile, no one can jump up and down anymore. Sometimes, months at a time, life's at a real high and then it all comes crashing down. It had been this way for four months now. No one really caring about the way they lived anymore. As long as they were getting by. And what is the point in that?
So the Weasleys sat, in silence, eating dinner noisily. There was nothing to say, nothing to be done. They just ate. It was in one of these dead silences that they heard a knock at the door. Mrs Weasley rushed to it and opened it. Bill was standing there.
“It's a girl!” he announced, beaming around at everyone in the room. Surprisingly it was George who reached his brother even before Mrs Weasley.
“Congratulations mate!” he said, smiling for the first time all day.
As everyone said their congratulations and Mrs Weasley fussed over how Fleur was (something the everyone thought never possible) Hermione remembered something very important.
“What's her name?” she asked eagerly, “Fleur said something about it being French.”
“We're not sure,” Bill said, “Fleur hasn't had a chance to really go through name, she's been so busy trying to get the nursery perfect but I'm sure she'll have one over the next few days.”
“If you will,” Hermione said, “Name her Victoire. I saw it on a statue in France once. It's French for victory and she was born when we won”
"Victoire it is!" announced Bill as Mr Weasley opened a bottle of Firewhisky.
Change, a wonderful creation, thought Hermione, her feet rubbing against the dusty Ministry floors like they so often did these days. It had been only one month since Victoire was born. One month, and everything had changed.
People were smiling more. Everyone seemed to think that new life was something which changed their whole outlook on the world. Hermione hadn't needed Victoire to know that she was happier. She had been happier for a long time coming. It just happened that in order to make her her happiest, she needed others to have the smile that she so foolishly concealed.
Had it not been only Monday morning when George had said what a great addition she would make as the next troublemaker in the family? Had it not been Mrs Weasley who rushed around, her grin stretched all the way across her face wherever she went. It was a quite a beautiful sight. Everyone in their place.
The world had been thrown into summer. Well at least their part of the world. Not only were the flowers and trees in bloom and sporting a positive glow but Hermione was delighted to hear one casual day at work, that her efforts were not to be wasted.
She was fussing about with trying to deal with an angry client stating point blank that they did not find it suitable that its crup's tail should be docked when Gioglo Hollen entered the room enthusiastically. He was bouncing on the balls of his feet as Hermione finished her letter.
… A crup must have its tail docked if it lives within a twelve mile radius of any active muggle town. I'm very sorry if this has led to any inconvenience but living within an eleven mile radius does not comply with the restrictions and guidelines. If you are unsure as to how to dock the crups tail, we are very happy for you to bring it in for a professional docking by the Ministry if it best suites you.
Department for the Regulation and Control of Magical Creatures
Ministry of Magic
Hermione attached the letter to a waiting eagle owl and sent it out of the office window. She yawned and just as she went to go and get herself some more coffee she spotted Hollen. She started slightly and politely said “Good evening Hollen.”
“Shouldn't you be home at this time?” asked Hollen, looking at the fat expensive watch on his wrist.
“Yes I suppose so.” answered Hermione, searching the filing cabinet to file a copy of the letter she just sent. She found the folder, and quickly stowed away the letter, closing the draw and facing Hollen.
“Well I was going to leave this on your desk,” said Hollen, indicating a small envelope in his hand. Hermione looked enquiringly at him.
“Well don't you wanna know what's in it?!” exclaimed Hollen, looking like a small child foolishly hiding some impressive secret from their parents.
“Alright,” said Hermione tiredly. She was exhausted from working extra hours.
“Why you've been promoted!” Hollen announced, coming over to shake Hermione's hand as though she had won some incredible prize. Hermione was literally stunned. She could find no words.”We finally talked to the other associated departments and after vigorous work and tiring efforts they have finally,” he put great strain on the word, “given you the chance to work in your field of the rights for magical creatures!”
“Thank you so much sir!” said Hermione, beaming. It was more then she could ask for. She only ever wanted to work for the wellbeing of different creatures. Finally, she had gotten her chance.
“Of course your office will change along with your different files and folders,” Hollen said, indicating her office.
“That's fine,” Hermione said, smiling graciously. Nothing like this happened to her. She was smart but she hadn't gotten somewhere so fast in all her life. And she could apparate.
“Well I won't keep you,” said Hollen, shaking her hand again and leaving the office before he turned back and said to her, “You won't start immediately. We'll pay you normally for about a month but you need not come into work until the seventh of July.”
Hermione looked stupified as he left the office. How could this be? Was this all a dream? No, she thought, she had just finally won.
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