Chapter 3 : With a New Family Comes New Secrets
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Hermione was still crying as her father left the kitchen, after the war her nerves were more fragile than usual. After a few almost complete breakdowns Hermione learned the value of a good cry. Sometimes when things get tough you need to release your stress, worries and fears through a few tears. But you could only cry for so long before you need to take action.
Something tapped the window near the kitchen table, causing Hermione to lift her head off her mother’s chest. Looking up she saw a gorgeous great grey owl perched regally on the window sill, it’s head tilted in such a manner that it exuded grace and prestige. The sunlight glistened against its silver wings, creating what could only be described as an aura around the bird.
Hermione, enamored by the elegant creature, almost missed her fathers’ entrance into the kitchen. Clutched in his hand was a letter written on parchment and sealed with a crest unknown to Hermione. As her father approached the owl he gave it the letter in a familiar manner, a small smile came to his lips in recognition. Clasping the letter in his beak, the owl leapt off the window sill in one swift motion and sailed off to its destination, wherever that may be. Hermione saw her father stare longingly at the owl as it flew away, before quickly turning back to face her and her mother.
“Hermione,” he said sitting back down at the table, “I know you are confused right now but you have to believe me, your parents are good people. I have known them almost my entire life, and giving you up was the hardest thing they ever had to do. I know it’s hard to accept that, but I hope you will listen to them when they explain to you why they did what they did.”
“That letter, it was to them, right? To tell them you have me and to come and get me?” she whispered, as if saying the words quietly made them any less real.
“Yes and no. I wrote to them to tell you that you’re with us and that you are safe, but they are not coming to get you, we are going to them.”
“What?” Hermione asked, “How are we going to get to them? First of all, we’re in Australia, and second of all who even knows where these people are?”
“Hermione,” her mother said, stopping Hermione before she could begin one of her famous rants. “You seem to be forgetting something darling. You’re a witch, your parents are magical, and your father and I are no ordinary muggles.”
“What do you mean?”
Her mother stood up from the table in response, extending her petite hand to Hermione. Silently, she placed her hand in her mother’s and followed her up the stairs and down the mahogany hallway, to the storage cupboard at the far end. Stopping to give Hermione a quick glance, Jean opened the cupboard to reveal three brooms. These brooms weren’t regular house cleaning brooms, but quidditch brooms, with long wooden handles, each with a slight curve at the handle near the end. The bristles were straw, old straw by the looks of it. The brooms were old, and looked like they hadn’t been used in ages, but Hermione knew that didn’t hinder their flying capabilities at all.
“Where did you get those?” she asked, starring at her mother with a face of confusion and bewilderment.
“Your father and I have had these since before we got you.” Her mother stated, gathering the brooms in her arms, and turning back to the kitchen. “We’ve never had to use them since they’re for emergency purposes only, but I figured now is probably as good as time as any to give them a whirl. I wasn’t sure if we had packed them, but after you restored our memories I slowly got our memories of the move back. It was as if we still remembered somewhere deep down about magic, and that’s why we hauled these all the way down here.”
As if they somehow remembered? The words echoed in Hermione’s head as she followed her mother into the kitchen. Is that even possible? The spell that she cast was supposed to remove any memory of her from her parents’ memory, making them believe that they had no children. But, what if her parents had made some sort of magical oath or promise to her birth parents? If it was strong enough it may have been able to leave a trace of her memory with her parents. Maybe that why the reversal spell had worked, there was still some original memory left so the spell didn’t have to start from scratch. The idea intrigued Hermione, but she knew she would have to investigate her hypothesis at a later date, now she had strangers to meet.
“So where are we flying to then,” Hermione asked, a broom clutched in her left hand. “We’re surely not flying all the way to England on these old brooms.”
“No, of course not,” her mother replied as she began to throw clothing and other belongings into bags. “the letter your father sent was to tell your birth parents where to meet us. When we first took you in your birth father and Edward planned many safe meeting points in case of emergency.”
Hermione was stunned at the immense planning that her parents and birth parents took in protecting her. Maybe her birth parents really did care about her.
“So where is the closest meeting place?”
“Fiji,” her mother said casually as she finished packing her bag. “I’m assuming everything you need is in that purse of yours?”
Startled by her mother’s[KJ1] response Hermione simply nodded, her hand instinctively reaching for the beaded bag that had served as her life jacket for the past year.
Still confused by the sudden changes Hermione didn’t notice her father walk up beside her mother. In the time that Hermione and her mother prepared he had changed into a black leather jacket and dark jeans. The look was new for Hermione, she could rarely ever remember her father wearing leather, or looking so badass. “Is everything set?”
Her mothers face fell at her husbands question, “yes.”
“Well then we should be going. Hermione, I assume that you have learned how to fly these past seven years? Or would you rather fly with either your mother or myself?”
What Hermione wanted to say was that of course she knew how to fly a broom, she had ridden a dragon for crying out loud. But at the moment she couldn’t trust her senses enough to fly, especially over open water.
“I think I would prefer to fly with one of you, if that’s alright?”
“Of course it is,” her father replied, his face changing into the familiar father expression of kindness and compassion that she grew up with. As quickly as it came it was gone, and replacing it was the stern face of a stranger.
“We better be going. Hermione, you can fly with me, Jean you take the rear.”
And with that the entire family made their way out of the house through the back entrance in the kitchen. To an unknowing observer it would look like a regular family walking out to do chores in the garden, but upon closer observation even a stranger would be able to see the tension amongst them. The tense shoulders, constant vigilance and look of exhaustion on Hermione’s face being dead give away of there being something wrong.
The sun was just beginning to set as they entered the garden, the sky morphing into a canvas of mystical pinks and blues. This time of night always reminded Hermione of the cotton candy her parents would buy her at the carnivals they’d take her to, not just the colours but the sense of innocence. The sky could no wrong when it looked like this, it was a moment of serenity.
Trying to distract her racing thoughts with the peace of the sky Hermione climbed onto her father’s broom, wrapping her petite arms around the thick leather jacket. The smell of leather on her father was off setting, different, but at the same time felt as if it belonged there.
Without a warning Hermione shot into the air, the cold breeze whipping against her jacket. Thankfully she had enough sense to cast a warming spell around herself and her parent before setting off, knowing that such a distance over water would likely be chilling. Although she had gotten over her crippling fear of heights after riding the dragon, she still preferred to close her eyes when flying, as if she could make herself believe that she wasn’t flying. Tightening her grip, she snuggled her face into her father’s back and waited for the inevitable moment they landed.
The impact of her father’s not so clean landing jolted Hermione awake, her head whipping up and immediately scanning the surrounding area for threats. All she saw around her was sand and blue, blue sky and dazzling blue ocean. So, this is Fiji? She thought to herself, making a mental note to come back and visit when she wasn’t about to experience a life changing event.
As Hermione took in Fiji, her father and mother gathered their things and began to march down the beach, shoulders straight and faces determined, like soldiers walking into battle. Hermione hurried to catch up to them, awed by her parent’s new persona. Glancing farther down the beach Hermione could make out what seemed to be a rock outline, jagged peaks reaching out from the sand towards the endless sky. That must be where they were meeting her birth parents. The thought made Hermione hesitate but she knew there was no turning back now.
It only took a few moments before the trio were at the rocks, the mere outlines now grey stone giants, shaped by the relentless waves. Following her father, they zigzagged through the rock maze in seconds and ended at the mouth of a large, looming cave. William pushed his arm out, halting the group, before leaning into the cave and whistling a three-tone whistle into the darkness. At first there was no response and Hermione’s heartbeat quickened, what if they didn’t show? The fear and anticipation she had been holding back since they took off overwhelmed her at the thought of her birth parents once again abandoning her, her breaths becoming shallower and quicker with every second.
Right as Hermione was on the brink of a panic attack she heard a noise from behind one of the towering stones, causing all three to sharply turn their heads. The rustling grew nearer and two shadows could be seen approaching around the rocks. Hermione held her breath as the world she once knew ended once and for all.
“What does the white crow say to the mouse before it eats it?” her father asked the nearing shadows,
A deep masculine voice replied from behind the rock, “My gosh! You are almost as pale as I am.”
With a small chuckle Hermione’s father walked behind the rock, momentarily disappearing from Hermione’s view. She could hear whispers but nothing more as she held her breath, waiting.
After what seemed like eons her father emerged from behind the rock, his previously serious face now showing a hint of a smile and a twinkle in his eyes. Following him were two people Hermione could have sworn belonged in magazines. The man who she assumed was her birth father had a chin that could have been etched from marble it was so straight. His tall, built frame exuded elegance and power, while his eyes danced with mystery. Everything about him reminded her of someone, but she couldn’t pin pint exactly who. Her birth mother on the other hand, had a softer kind of beauty. She was petite like Hermione, with the same light brown, and she could see a few stray curls bouncing around the end of her bun.
“Hermione,” her birth mother, gasped, gently reaching out towards her. The way she approached Hermione was almost as if she was approaching a ghost, filled with both disbelief and wonder.
When they were only a few inches away her birth parents stopped, unsure of how Hermione would react. They never looked away from her though, and she could see tears threatening to spill from her birth mother’s eyes.
“Hermione,” her father said, clearing his throat, “I would like to introduce you to Edward and Marie Nott, your birth parents, and my two best friends.”
All the air that Hermione had in her instantly vanished as soon as she heard her father introduce these two strangers as the Nott’s, as in the pureblooded, Death eater Nott’s. Without a moment’s hesitation Hermione grabbed her wand, aimed it at the Death eaters and quickly started to back away, her blood filling with adrenaline.
The look on her father’s face was heartbreaking, it was a mixture of sadness and anger as he saw the little girl that he raised turn into a young women who was too familiar with the trauma of war.
“Hermione put your wand down this instant!” William yelled, his face filled with anger and his daughter’s reaction.
Hermione did no such thing, her hear was still racing, her fight or flight instincts kicking in. Her hand began to tremble as she continued to stare at the Nott’s.
“Hermione,” the calm voice of Marie said, “I know that you must be scared and confused about all of this, and you have every right to think of Edward and I as your enemy seeing what you did in the war. But I promise that everything can and will be explained.”
Marie slowly reached her hand underneath her deep green cloak and drew out her wand. Hermione instinctively tightened her grip on her wand prepared for a duel. Keeping eye contact with Hermione, Marie slowly crouched down, dropped her wand and kicked it away, glancing at her husband to do the same. With a pained expression Edward followed suit before finally resting his gaze on his daughter.
“Now Hermione,” Marie said softly, “there is much your father and I would like to tell you, could you please do us the courtesy of listening?”
Hermione glanced at her adopted parents and saw the pleading in their eyes, pushing down all her suspicion she nodded at her birth parents, signaling that they could speak.
Edward shifted uncomfortably before taking a deep breath, “I guess the most appropriate place to begin is with a little family history. Hermione, the first thing I want you to know is that the Nott family has and never will be the pureblooded supremacists you believed us to be. I was raised in muggle village, and your mother’s sister married a muggleborn who is much beloved. So even if you weren’t our daughter you would have no reason to fear us.”
“That is hard to believe coming from a known Death Eater. I saw you at the ministry in my fifth year with Luscius Malfoy. Can you deny that?”
“No, I cannot Hermione,” Edward began, “but please you must listen to why I….”
“What other reason could you possibly have for joining a muggle thing death squad then?”
“He did it to protect you” Marie shouted, tears now flowing freely from her face. Drained from her outburst she sank onto the pile of rocks that were behind her and wept silent tears.
Hermione was taken aback by her birth mothers reaction. “But what….I mean I don’t understand….how….”
Her birth father had sat himself beside her mother, wrapping a strong arm around her. “The reason I joined the Death Eaters was to make sure that they never found you, or found out who you were.”
“Why did it matter if they knew who I was? “Hermione questioned, her analytical school brain starting to burn with questions.
No one answered her. The entire cave became silent as Hermione’s question hung in the air around them. It was one of those silences where the entire universe seemed to slow in anticipation, and it drove Hermione cray.
“Why did it matter if the Death Eaters knew that I was your daughter?” She asked again, this time asking in her best teacher voice, the one she reserved for when Ron was being a complete arse.
Her adopted father stepped towards her, raising his eyes to meet hers. The look he gave her reminded her of the time he told her that she would be attending Hogwarts, a look of complete honesty with a trace of fear in the background. “Hermione there is a legend pertaining to the Nott family, it centers around the women of the Nott family, do you understand?”
“Well Hermione you are the first women to be born into the Nott family in six generations.”
Her birth father stood up at this moment and came to stand beside William. When the two of them stood together side by side they looked as if they belonged together, two tall, dark warriors ready to face the night together. “and you know how interested Voldemort was with legends and prophecies.”
“So what you’re saying is that if Voldemort became aware that I was a Nott he would believe the legend and try to kill me?” Hermione sked confused.
“Yes and no,” her adopted father answered. “he wouldn’t try to kill you…..
“He would have tried to use you”. Her birth father finished, slowly stepping closer to her.
“Use me? Use me for what?” Hermione exclaimed, shocked by the drastic proclamation that she would have somehow been useful to Voldemort’s cause.
Her birth mother sighed as she lifted her head to stare at Hermione. “For your power.”
“What power? People may say I’m the brightest witch of my age but I’m not that special…”
“But Hermione you are.” Her birth father said, now only a foot away from her. “Nott women are legend to have unimaginable powers and you are a Nott woman.”
Hermione still didn’t believe him, “but I haven’t experienced any “unimaginable powers” as you say,”
“That’s because we blocked your powers before we gave you up. If anyone would have seen you use them and told Voldemort it wouldn’t have mattered that we gave you up.”
“If that’s true what is my special power then? Do I have x-ray vision? Am I faster than a speeding bullet?”
“No, you’re not Superman,” her birth father replied, his mouth twitching slightly as if he was trying not to laugh.
“When you were a few days old your mother and I were putting you and your brother to bed and you as usual were fighting us, you hated going to bed, all you wanted to do was party all night long.” Her birth father cleared his throat and rubbed his eye, clearly becoming emotional.
“You were wiggling and laughing and doing everything you could to not stay still, you eventually got your brother to join you,” her birth mother added, coming up to stand beside her husband. “it took us what felt like hours to get you two to bed, but when we looked at the clock it was only a minute or two past your bedtime. We were exhausted so at first we just thought it was our imagination but…”
“But you slowed down time.” Her father said confoundedly, as if he knew how absurd it sounded.
Hermione was taken aback. Played with time? Of course a wizard can travel back in time with the help of a time turner, but slowing it down? That’s not possible. “You guys were just tired dealing with two babies, it just felt like hours. Wait two babies? I have a brother? Theo! Of course, how could I have forgotten about Theo? Does he know about me? How could he have? He hated me at school. I have a twin brother who hates me!”
Tears began to fall down Hermione’s face as she began to hyperventilate. So much had occurred today, finding her parents, realizing they weren’t her birth parents, meeting her adopted parents, finding out she has “powers”, and last but not least realizing that she has a twin brother.
“Sshh Hermione no,” her birth mother said, engulfing Hermione in a hug. “he does not know that you specifically are his sister, but he does know he has one.” Her birth mother instinctively rubbed Hermione’s back, almost instantaneously calming her down. It was something her adopted mother had done when she was a child.
Standing up straight again, Hermione saw her adopted parents standing off to the side. Her father had an arm wrapped around her mother, pulling her close while silent tears ran down her face. With everything that had occurred today Hermione had never even considered how hard it would have been for her parents. They were giving back the daughter that they raised and fell in love with, who they had only just gotten back themselves. Hermione’s heart ached with empathy as she ran towards the people who raised her and wrapped them in a hug.
“thank you,” she whispered against her parent’s chests, truly thankful for all that they had done.
“We love you Hermione” her father whispered into her hair as he kissed her head.
Pulling away Hermione faced her birth parents again, questions still running through her head.
Edward stuck a finger in the air, silencing her. “Before you begin to argue against what your mother and I claimed let me finish our story. Hermione, we knew it was only a minute because as we were struggling to put you to bed your mother knocked over a coffee cup. It was only just as we finally put you into bed that the cup fell. You had frozen time. Even our cat froze as it tried to enter the room. And you know that this wasn’t accidental magic because no one can freeze time, single objects yes but not an entire room. And it wasn’t only that. The next day I saw you speed your mother up while she was making your breakfast. She zoomed past me like a madwoman and she didn’t even notice it. And that’s only two events, who knows what else you can do with your gift? We couldn’t risk Voldemort using you so we hid you away.”
Although Hermione knew she should question him, for some reason she knew deep down that everything he was saying was true. She would say that she remembered those instances, but over the past seventeen years there had been times where Hermione felt as if she was beyond time, whatever that meant.
“I believe you and I understand why you did it.” Hermione said walking back towards her birth parents. “Can I go meet my brother now?”
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