Chapter 1 : Raising Voices
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Dedicated to jessicalorewrites
When all was said and done, and Hermione had helped her best friends to save the wizarding world, things settled down. Normalized. There were trials and tears and funerals and babies, eventually, the post-war baby boom, the products of the great surge of relief from the knowledge that they all were going to live and no mother would ever again have to stand between her child and a dark wizard’s green curse.
The nightmares that roused Hermione in the night – spells flashing through the air in a dark kaleidoscope, blood matted in orange hair, the smell of burning stone – left a heavy sheen of sweat on her arms and the inside of her legs and her hairline. She would slide out of bed and go to sit on the toilet. Her parents had renovated the bathroom room years ago and so she could see her face in the mirror as she sat on the cold surface. She was so pale, sickly, almost, and the glaring electric lights made her sleepy eyes water and squint. Her hair was so thick and heavy that it bore down on her sweat-slicken neck, the bushy brown curls falling out of any bun or braid she had coaxed it into the night before. When she finally went back to the bedroom she would stare at the precisely accurate constellations she had stuck up on the ceiling as a child, watching their faint, aged green glow that had persisted all these years, wiling herself to stay awake, to be stronger than the night terrors. The worst of them was that all the bad dreams were true.
When she dreamed of that night in Malfoy Manor, there came as flashing, crooked yellow teeth, ruined from over a decade spent in Azkaban, laughter soaring through their cracks, vibrating against a black tongue. That high-pitched, maniacal laughter. Pain. And somewhere deep inside her consciousness, Ron’s voice, begging that Bellatrix take him instead.
She told Ron about the nightmares, finally, and later, gathering up the dinner dishes in the Burrow kitchen, she heard him talking to George and Harry about it. “Reckon girls get it worse. Hermione’s always been emotional, but what’s to be expected,” he said. Harry, to his credit, had suffered from nightmares for most of his life, didn’t chuckle in agreement the way George did. They both knew Ron just didn’t know what to say to make things better, so he made comments instead.
Hermione knew she had chosen Ron for the right reasons: he loved her, he was funny and sort of charming, in a clumsily witty way, and he was one of the bravest men she knew. He had begged Bellatrix to take him instead. He was ready to sacrifice. But sometimes the memory began to anger Hermione. Why should Bellatrix haven taken him instead? She would never have wanted Ron to suffer instead of her. Hermione could handle and conquer anything that Ron could. And so as she learned to love him, in the mature, adult way in which Ginny and Harry seemed to understand one another, something else was building. Not a resentment, not of him, but a knowledge. An understanding.
She went to the Ministry library and did some research into the rosters of employees. It was a clear enough place to start, considering how the majority of the qualified or white collar equivalents of wizards worked for the Ministry in some form or another. What she found didn’t surprise her. The Wizengamot had a thirty-three percent female population. The Department Heads in the past twenty years counted only a handful among their number. All of the top fifteen percent who earned the most Galleons a year were wizards.
Then there were the court cases. First, a trial in which the testimony of a witch claiming her boyfriend had assaulted her was only taken seriously when the victim had stolen some Veritaserum from the potioneers’ office and taken it in front of an assembly of reporters and Wizengamot members who were assembled for a different trial. The victim had been charged for the theft, a sentence which was only slightly shorter than that which her abuser received. Hermione’s blood boiled as she read the testimonies.
An Auror trainee a few years back who had brought forward a complaint that the male wizards of her year had a secret society, called the Auror Gentlemen’s Club, in which they made derogatory comments about the few female witches in the class. The trainee had intercepted one of the parchments her classmates were passing around. “Someone needs to remind these girls that their proper place is in the kitchen or the laundry,” one comment wrote. “How can they expect to be Aurors when they can’t even lift a hundred pound body?” “Pink hair is looking mighty fit in that tight top. It’s distracting me from learning this spell theory,” another’s handwriting read. The complaint had been documented and then thrown out on the explanation that, “boys will be boys.”
Perhaps worse, allegations against a powerful and popular wizard who had been high up in the Ministry for years. The statements of several women, dating back to the beginning of his career, said that he had sexually harassed or abused them, in the workplace and outside of it. All of the allegations had been filed away and dismissed, and the few women who had come forward were shamed by the wizarding public who denied that a charming and influential man like this one could possibly be guilty. The wizard had died shortly before the return of Voldemort, and the Wizemgamot had refused to progress with the case.
Hermione had decided, then and there, that she wanted to see things change. Her invitation to work for the Department of Magical Law was only the first step.
She loved Ron, she did, but sometimes he said the most callous things that she could not bear to listen to in silence. “Everyone in that meeting thought you were being really pushy,” he said once. Or – “maybe you shouldn’t wear that skirt, love. Bad men can’t always resist.” She’d leaf through a copy of a Quidditch magazine on the table, noting how the reporters commented on the flying skills of the male players while commenting on the figures and fashion choices of the female ones. The advertisements contained scantily-dressed witches grinning and winking at the reader, wearing bathing suits in the colour patterns of the most popular teams and accompanied by articles about the prominent male members of those teams.
Hermione had always known she was a feminist. She believed in equal rights for all: for men and women to be equal, for magical creatures like house elves and centaurs to achieve justice, for people of different magical and racial and gender and sexual identities to be protected by the law. Yet it had begun to feel that the limitations of the patriarchal system that had simmered along quietly for so long, the structures of gender that held magical society together in so many seamlessly hidden ways, were flashing themselves to her eyes, revealing the flaws in the system that had persisted for generations. Years had passed since the war had ended, and she was no longer that eighteen-year old girl, determined to hunt for Horcruxes and to stop Voldemort. She had other goals in mind, and as the years after the war built up, she tried to decide how to best understand.
Both her parents were dentists, yet their practice bore her father’s name. He had more clients and, as she discovered one night while poring over the tax records and bills, actually earned more money than his wife. Hermione had been living with Ron for a year now but came home to speak with her mother about it.
Dr. Everard-Granger always beamed when her daughter came into her office. Hermione leaned against her mother’s chair like she might have as a little girl, come to talk about a new storybook she had read or to show the little flower she had caused to appear in the air at primary school without rational explanation. Yet since wiping her parents’ memories and sending them to Australia as she fought for her world, since finding them in Melbourne and bringing them home and restoring the lost years, the dynamic between them had shifted. They were equals now. They protected one another.
At the end of their discussion, Hermione took a deep breath, and explained the news that she had been treasuring inside of her.
“Mum, I’m going to have a baby.”
Dr. Granger kept her face composed, the lines knitting her features together completely controlled. She did not betray shock that her unwed daughter, still in her early twenties, just a girl really despite all she had lived through, had found herself in this situation. She waited, instead.
“I thought long and hard about it,” Hermione explained. “I think…although it’s a delicate situation, Ron and I, we’re stable, and happy. I always thought Ginny and Harry were a bit foolish for rushing into things, but life happens and I understand a little better now. I can be like you, Mum. I can have a career, I can make an impact, and raise my baby.” Dr. Granger stood up and hugged her daughter, stroking the thick curls.
“When you were young, a few other mums and dads thought I was a bad mother for leaving you at daycare or with a nanny during the day,” she said. “But it was my choice at the time, and it was hard, but it was the right choice for me, personally. And I know, darling, that if I have raised you to choose for yourself, then I have done something right.”
“Always right, Mum,” Hermione said, holding her a little tighter.
When she told Ron, over candlelight and cranberry juice in the little flat they shared in London, he seemed excited. Nervous, of course, but that seemed natural as well. A few days later he came home with a ring designed to look like the one his father had given his mother decades ago, but Hermione said no.
“It means much more to me if we stay together because we love each other, not if there’s a binding legal contract,” she said firmly. “Besides, I won’t have people calling me ‘Mrs. Weasley.’ That’s your mum’s name.”
People called her that anyway, though, all the time. On a few occasions, she realized that often people didn’t realize that “Auror Ron Weasley’s wife” and “Department of Magical Law Enforcement Junior Assistant Hermione Granger” were the same person. Not getting married was the right choice for her and Ron, who had always spread apart at the smallest of arguments in their school years.
When Rose was born, pink and screaming and perfect, Hermione promised her daughter and herself that she would do all she could to make the wizarding world a better place to be a participant in. Ron agreed.
“You have to tell me, if I’m not saying something right. If I’m being offensive,” he had told his partner, face turning a little red. “Because I don’t always know.”
“The same goes for me,” Hermione had replied. “I can be a bit judgemental sometimes.” A few weeks ago, she had gotten into a heated debate at a Ministry function when a wizard near the bar had made a derogatory comment about a Holyhead Harpies player who had revealed that she was transgender, a secret which the woman had kept secret for her career yet felt was important to share for raising awareness for non-cisgender identities and their inclusion in society.
The Daily Prophet had captured the incident and excused Hermione for her anger, saying that she was pregnant and hormonal and couldn’t be held accountable for her actions – a judgement which further irritated not only Hermione and Ron, but several of their friends as well. Harry in particular bore a grudge against the publication built up over many years of slander. Hermione had been pleasantly surprised the next week when the offending wizard sent her an apology owl, saying that he was showing off for his friends, but doing his best since the interaction and the negative publicity it had brought him to learn more about gender and be an ally.
“Sometimes you need to give encouragement for people to change,” Ron had suggested, looking down at his infant daughter. “It helps to approach people on their own terms, explain things in ways that they’ll understand and relate to.”
Hermione thought about a recent discussion she had with Draco Malfoy, their old schoolmate rival who had recently been appointed to a low position in her Department. She had overheard Malfoy telling another pureblood employee that he felt purebloods were better prepared to work with magical justice, having been raised to understand that system and how wizarding society worked. Hermione had jumped in to point out that Muggleborns entered the magical world at age eleven and that she doubted most magical children learned much about politics anyway. Indeed, it was arguable that Muggleborn members of the Department were at an advantage due to their ties to the Muggle world: Hermione herself, for example, was registered to vote in both magical and Muggle elections. Draco, face even more pale and ratlike than usual at being caught, had disagreed, and Hermione had realized that despite all the wrongs he had gone through during the war, his pureblood ideology could not be swayed or changed in the course of a single conversation. Though she tried to be kind to him, the memories of how he had taunted her and her friends still stung and filled her with a sense of unfulfilled justice.
The conclusion was that Draco was unlikely to change his mind, and debating passionately with him was quite likely not the best way to sway him. From that moment on, Hermione resolved to try and be calmer. Next time she heard Draco reinforcing his hateful, but ingrained beliefs, she would speak calmly, choosing her words and tone carefully so as not to put him on the offensive. She would try and acknowledge his points and understand why he might think them to be true.
Maybe it was best they started on common ground. The next time they crossed paths at work, Hermione smiled at Malfoy and asked if he’d like to share some pictures of their babies.
Hermione was featured in another story in The Daily Prophet for providing an indisputable conviction on a criminal while having Rose strapped to her chest. She proved to the Wizemgamot, that old assembly of traditionalists who had always been in the Minister’s pocket, that a woman holding a sleeping baby with conjured fairies dancing around its little head, singing softly to keep Rose asleep, could be just as sharp, if not sharper, than a rich old pureblood wizard. The next time she appeared in the paper, it was an article commenting on her style of dress robes for a banquet honouring the anniversary of the battle of Hogwarts. Hermione bit her lip and bided her time and worked all the harder.
The third time that year, Hermione was published in an open letter to the witches and wizards of Britain. It was a call to arms, for progress, to move forward into the future, and the first Prophet appearance she had initiated.
“Wizarding Britain is a world of beautiful diversity,” she wrote. “Yet there are fundamental laws and policies which need to be brought forwards into our post-war world as we rebuild it. We must make it a better place not only for our daughters and sons, but the young house elves, centaurs, goblins, and other magical beings to whom it is our duty to give their own voice. I aspire to the day when it will no longer be me who writes on their behalf, but when a letter written by a house elf will be given the same respect and consideration as one written by the human best friend of the Chosen One.”
And the years passed and things began to change. Hermione had another baby, a little boy called Hugo, and he and Rose had aunts and cousins joining the family. Hermione was promoted and became the youngest Junior Head of the Department of Mysteries in a century, and one of the few women to hold that position, which was considered to be very cutthroat and emotionally taxing. Nobody mistook her for “Ron Weasley’s wife” or “Harry Potter’s best friend” anymore.
When the kids were seven and five, Hermione left them to play in her parents’ garden while she sat with them to discuss what they had described as an important matter.
“Since you were a baby,” Dr. Everard-Granger began, folding her hands on her desk, “we’ve been putting money aside into two funds. The first was your university fund, where we paid in a certain amount every month which was invested by the government to produce a high interest rate. We continued paying into it even after you went to Hogwarts, just in case, and it’s amounted to a very remarkable amount.” Hermione nodded: she had set up similar investments for her own children, paying into them from her and Ron’s salaries whenever she could. Dr. Everard-Granger smiled at her husband.
“The second fund was originally to save up for your wedding, if you chose to have one,” Dr. Granger explained. He had a thick gray moustache that his grandkids liked to pull on, a shiny bald head, and perfect teeth. During dentistry school, Hermione’s parents had practiced on one another. “Now, dear, while your grandmother may be a little scandalized at yours and Ron’s, erm, arrangement, we think it best that you take that money to spend as you see fit. It is, as is the scholarship fund…a very respectable sum.” He slid some papers across the desk towards his daughter. “Whatever you should choose, the money is yours.”
Hermione gasped as she looked down at the two accounts. Each one was large enough to take off a large chunk of her mortgage, which her parents had always impressed was key to getting a family’s finances in order. Ron, having never grown up with money, didn’t spend it very frugally when he did have it. As a result, Hermione handled most of the finances for their family, and she knew that they were already very comfortably established and set on careers that would provide well for Rose and Hugo. She had never wanted a wedding, or a big commitment do, fearing the level of organization and planning and decisions it took to arrange a wedding. Besides, neither she nor Ron were comfortable being the centre of attention. They barely even liked kissing in front of other people.
Her parents were firm in that they wanted the money to be hers, so she thanked and kissed them, and the next day took the children to the local Muggle library near their home in Barnet. While Rose picked out some mystery novels for children and Hugo sat down to bury his head in a picture book, Hermione used the computers to find out about how she could apply to a Muggle law school, where she could use the funds her parents had saved and improve her ability to work constructively in the Department of Magical Law at the same time.
“This is it,” she told Ron that night. “This is how I’m going to start reforming the Department of Magical Law.” They put Rose and Hugo to bed, read them the begged-for third story, and sat down at the kitchen table with some tea.
“What about the wedding money?” Ron asked, stirring an extra spoonful of sugar into his teacup by moving his wand in circles above it. “I know you don’t really, well, want to get hitched…”
“We’re accorded all the same rights as husband and wife under the cohabitation contract I worked out for us,” Hermione said. “And I never wanted a big wedding, even when I was a girl. It’s far too much pressure, being the center of attention like that – Angelina and I were speaking about it the other day. Not practical.”
“So what about the money? You’re not going to use it to revitalize S.P.E.W, are you? I’m sure Rose and Hugo would be pleased to be your assistants. Or what about starting your own Quidditch team? You could team up with Harry, he has money…”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “Actually, Ron, I think I’ll put it towards a new program at the Ministry. I would really like there to be an agency that provides institutionalized support for minority groups and deals with discrimination, abuse, working towards equality.”
“A sort of feminist group?” Ron wrinkled his nose slightly. Hermione knew that while Ron was a feminist, of course he was, he sometimes associated the word with something angry or anti-men.
“More than that. For all groups and people, really. To ensure that these issues are addressed and appropriately mediated, going straight to the Department itself. This money will be enough to set me up with a campaign and to hire people to work – advertisers for more fundraising, writers, advocates. The wizarding world needs more voices than just the Ministry.” She smiled. “And I’m going to go to law school, Ron. Muggle law school. And I’m going to learn absolutely everything I can.”
“So…you’re going to pay for and set up a non-profit that directly lobbies your own Department,” Ron said tentatively, his mind trapped on this idea. Hermione grinned.
“Sounds about right. I asked Mum and Dad and they love the idea.”
“And Muggle law school,” he echoed, eyes wide and incredulous. “Merlin. You’re one of a kind, you know that?”
“Maybe, maybe not,” she said, feeling cryptic.
The nightmares from the early years had faded away, and Hermione slept securely and happily that night, pleased with her decisions and anxious to approach the future.
One morning a little ways down the road, Hermione came home after a long and gruelling day at the office to find her kids playing with their dollhouses in the playroom. She sat down on the carpet, petting Crookshanks as he purred against her knee, and asked if they wanted to show her the doll families.
“This is Abbie and Richie. They live together and have five kids,” Hugo explained, holding up two dolls. “Look, their youngest son, he’s a Squib, but the two older ones are going to Hogwarts.” Hugo had laid out an assortment of little robes in many colours for Richie to try on.
“Mummy, look, this is Ginevra and Charlotte, and they have two kids,” Rose cut in, holding up two dolls. “I named Ginevra after Auntie Ginny. Ginevra is a bridge engineer in London – she’s a Muggle – and Charlotte is a Quidditch player, a Keeper like I want to be, and she works for centaur rights. Isn’t she neat?”
“They’re all wonderful, my loves,” Hermione said, kissing Hugo’s sandy brown curls as he climbed into her lap. Rose grinned, fitting the Charlotte doll onto a broomstick. Hermione waved her wand so that Charlotte soared up above them, circling in the air as the children laughed with delight. “Isn’t life wonderful?”
And in that moment, the grind of the day, the pushing from the Department against her plans for reform, the voices inside her head telling her she couldn’t do it all, couldn’t be a mother and a partner and a top Ministry official and an advocate all at the same time, slipped away. Because as Rose and Hugo giggled and chatted with their dolls, their little voices raised, she knew that she was doing something right.
Author's Note: Thank you for reading! This story was written for my secret santa recipient, jessicalorewrites, who inspired me by writing that she interested in feminism on her About Me page. Jess, I hope you like this story! Many of the cases and events that Hermione realizes are inspired from things that have happened either in the media, particularly the Canadian media, or to people I know, and I hope you enjoyed this interpretation of the wizarding world.
*Edit*While I of course welcome comments, and would appreciate feedback on both the quality of writing or the content of the story, I would ask that criticism is left respectfully. If you tell me your opinion of what I did wrong, I'd appreciate knowing a positive solution for how it could be improved to avoid feelings getting hurt. I realize that feminism is a very sensitive and diverse issue and the ways that Hermione finds herself as a feminist here are just for my interpretation of one particular character, and what felt right for the story is definitely not the case for everyone. Thank you kindly! :)
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