A Witch's Tale

BY : snowblind12
Category: Harry Potter > Het - Male/Female
Dragon prints: 12717
Disclaimer: This fanfic is based off the Harry Potter books which are owned by JKR. I make no money from this fanfic and these characters as well as the Harry Potter books and world belong to JKR!

This world belongs to JKR. I'm just borrowing her brilliant world for a little fun. She owns all of Harry Potter and I make no money on this fanfic.

Monday

Hermione sat in the café drinking her tea trying to fight the sadness as it started to overtake her. She turned to the window and wiped at the loan tear as it ran down her cheek. It had been 4 years since the fall of Voldemort and his regime, but the wizarding world had not yet recovered. After the war ended, she went back to Hogwarts and completed her 7th year. Harry and Ron had passed on going back to school and had taken the Ministry up on the offer of going directly into Auror training. The Ministry needed heroes. There were many heroes, but none as recognized as the golden trio and, of course, Severus Snape. Severus Snape rejected the fame. He had left Britain and not left a forwarding address.

Ron did not last long at the ministry. The death of Fred had torn a hole into the Weasley fabric that could not be mended. Ron's drinking made it impossible for him to function as an auror, much less maintain any sort of healthy relationship with Hermione. George was beyond consolable. He tried to carry on with Weasley Wizard Wheezes but his heart just wasn't in it anymore and the business was sold to the highest bidder; Malfoy Enterprises. Hermione tried to stay in touch with the Weasleys, but it proved to be too painful after she and Ron broke up.

Surprisingly, the person who carried the largest burden during the war was faring the best. Harry was doing well and he and Ginny were living together at Grimauld Place. They were good for each other and helped each other through the rough patches. Hermione remained close to the couple and Harry was still her best friend.

After graduating from Hogwarts, Hermione took a job as an analyzer for the Minsitry's Department of Census and Magical Monitoring. The department analyzed the birth rates of squibs, muggleborn witches and wizards, as well as pureblood witches and wizards. It also analyzed the magical energies of Britain which had diminished sharply since the war ended. Not surprising, there was a baby boom which started 9 months after the war ended. What was surprising was the increased squib rate and decreased birth rate of muggleborn witches and wizards. Hence the formation of the department Hermione was now part of. While at first Hermione liked her job, she now found it lacking. She liked to see results for her hard work. This job was like running on a hamster wheel; a lot of effort and yet you didn't get anywhere. She knew she was not going to find the answers she needed by looking at charts all day. To make matters worse, she had a theory… a very unpopular theory which her boss soundly rejected. He also would not allow her to go out and gather her own research to prove her theory. In frustration, she had just tended her resignation that morning and in two weeks would no longer be part of the Ministry. The Minister of Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt, had tried to talk her out of resigning, but she held to her wands. It was time Hermione lived her life for herself, and not for the benefit of a society she had felt an obligation to since finding out she was a witch.

Hermione felt lost. For the first time in her life she did not know where she was headed or what her future might be. As she drank her tea she felt alone and without purpose.

She needed to get back so she paid her check and stood up to leave. As she put on her outer robe and turned toward the door, she froze at the sight before her. Not two tables away, sat none other than Severus Snape, Draco Malfoy, Theodore Nott and Blaise Zabini. She took a deep breath, tucked her chin and looked at the ground as she tried to scurry by them sight unseen. Just as she thought she had dodged a bullet, a sneering voice said, "heard you resigned from the Ministry this morning, Granger. What, not getting enough spotlight? Maybe you should have been an Auror after all. Then you could continue to tap into Potty's limelight."

Hermione maintained her composure, put on a smile and turned to face the dreaded table. She locked eyes with the blond viper and replied, "Since when are you so interested in my career path, Malfoy? " Draco simply smirked.

Hermione turned to the other snakes at the table and said with a softer and friendlier tone, "Hello gentlemen." Blaise and Theo dipped their heads with quiet hellos. She then looked toward the older wizard with black hair. She gave him a genuine smile and said,"Welcome back, Professor. I didn't realize you had returned to London."

Professor Snape replied with his unmistakable, rich and sultry voice, "I haven't returned. I'm merely passing through, Miss Granger." He dipped his head as well in greeting.

"Well, I'll let you get back to your lunch then. Good afternoon, gentlemen." Hermione quickly turned and dashed out the café not noticing that the four sets of eyes watched her as she dashed down the street.

When Severus looked up from his stew and saw Hermione, he couldn't believe how much she had changed in the past four years. Her features had matured and she no longer looked like a girl, but a woman. However, she was thin, pale and the dark circles under her eyes revealed an obvious lack of sleep. He was disappointed in Draco for trying to goad the woman. She was obviously going through a rough time judging by her appearance. While she had not been one of his favorite students, he acknowledged, to no one but himself of course, that he had really treated her unfairly when she was his student. She was booksmart, yes. That didn't interest him. What interested him was her calm, her logic and her ability to think quickly on her feet. Her involvement with the downfall of Voldemort was monumental. He had come to respect her a great deal.

After she walked away from the table, he turned to Draco, "Miss Granger resigned from the Ministry?"

Draco nodded and took a swig of his butterbeer. "My spies tell me she hasn't been getting along with her boss."

"Hmm, maybe she's not going to waste her talents after all." The other three Slytherins turned to the professor in surprise. They had never once heard him say a positive word about the bushy haired Gryffindor. "Yes gentlemen, there is talent there. A sharp mind is a terrible thing to waste. "

Blaise smirked in response, "that's not all that appears to be going to waste. Did you see how thin she looks?"

Draco was still watching the retreating figure as she slipped out of view. He was irritated that he hadn't gotten more of a response out of the Gryffindor brat. He really enjoyed getting under her skin. He knew it was childish and he no longer really believed she was in any way beneath him or that her blood mattered, but old habits die hard.

Theo sat quietly observing and listening. He had been watching Hermione from a distance for years. To him she was an enigma. How could a muggleborn witch be so talented? It didn't make sense. He had come in second to her in all subjects. She proved herself to not only be book smart, but able to hold her own on the run during the war and in battles with Death Eaters. While he might not admit it, he admired the witch. Maybe he even desired her. Sure, he enjoyed long legs under a short skirt as much as the next wizard, but he found intelligence and witt an even greater turn on. A woman who could duel as well? Yeah, he was attracted to Hermione Granger and he suspected the other wizards sitting at this table were as well.

Theo leaned back in his chair and contemplated the Slytherins sitting around him. Severus Snape had turned out to be Dumbledore's man all along. Theo had managed to avoid taking sides during the war. Being a Slytherin, it was the unspoken assumption that he favored the righteous pureblood movement. But, Theo never really decided how he felt. He knew he did not care for Voldemort's ways and he did a good job staying under the megalomaniac's radar. He had seen some powerful muggleborn witches and wizards and he didn't hold stock in the theory that pure blood breeds the best magic. The department that Hermione just resigned from could attest to that fact. You see, although there was a decrease in muggleborn birth rates, the magical power of those muggleborns was rising. Meanwhile, squib rates were on the rise and the magical power of pureblood children was on the decline. The wizarding world was at a loss. Theo couldn't help feeling the mystery was even less likely to be solved now that Hermione was leaving the Ministry.

As Hermione dashed down the street away from the cafe, she couldn't help but to admit how attractive those 4 men were, even Snape. Although, secretly, she had always had a little bit of a crush on the wizard in black. But, now that he was free of his servitude to light and dark wizards, and no longer had to teach, he was his own man and it suited him. Hermione thought he looked distinguished, his complexion not so pale and sallow and he had gained a little weight, which made him look healthier. His hair had not looked greasy but was long and had been pulled back in a tie at the base of his neck. She was pleased to see him looking so well.

Draco, had always been attractive when he wasn't sneering. But, he sneered all the time so it was a rare sight to behold him with any other expression. But, the few times she had seen him relaxed and smiling he had been quite handsome, as in Wizard's Quarterly handsome. WQ had done a feature on him about a year ago. The article went into great detail about the Malfoy's and how they had worked hard to repay society for the damage they contributed when Voldemort had returned. Lucius had spent 2 years in Azkaban and was still under house arrest. But, Draco had been found not guilty for his crimes. It was agreed by most of the Wizengemot that he had been forced into doing Voldemorts bidding. He had done what he had to do to protect himself and his family, particularly his mother. WQ had included pictures of Draco with his mother and had written extensively about his relationship with her. The article had tugged at the heartstrings of many witches, and as a result Draco was a sought after bachelor. He was exceedingly handsome with riches beyond measure who deeply loved his mother. He was back in the game. Hook, line and sinker, society had bought it all. Hermione knew better. Handsome he may be, but she knew he had not changed and the WQ article was simply a publicity stunt to get the Malfoy's back at the top.

Hermione did not know as much about Blaise. Blaise was dark skinned and Italian. He was gorgeous and tabloid covers showed him and Malfoy out and about with various beautiful witches. They had even been pictured with the occasional muggle supermodel or actress. The wizarding world had been introduced to Hollywood movies as well as other muggle novelties, such as Starbucks. There was now a wizarding Starbucks in Diagon Alley. It was amazing to Hermione how much the wizarding world had changed as a result of the last war. Wizards and witches were still very wary of muggles and muggle ways for the most part, but there were some entrepreneurial businesses who ventured into the muggle world and brought bits of it back with them; Malfoy enterprises for one.

Theo was the snake Hermione knew the least about out of the foursome. She knew he was smart and he always seemed very quiet and well mannered. She never once saw him pick on a muggleborn or look down his nose at anyone. He was actually quite handsome. He was tall with dark hair and blue eyes. She caught him watching her in the library a couple times at Hogwarts and she often wondered what he was thinking. She had run into him a couple times at the new Wizarding Library down the street from the Ministry over the past year. He would simply nod a polite hello, but never stopped to talk. He seemed shy and Hermione found herself curious about him more than once.

When Hermione walked back into her cubicle, she was pleased to find an owl post delivery sitting at her desk. A letter from Victor always cheered her up. He was still playing quidditch but he was not the star player he used to be. There were new, younger players who had taken over the spotlight. The last time Hermione had talked to Victor, he was contemplating coaching.

Hermione slipped off her outer robe and sat down at the desk as she opened the letter. She couldn't believe the words on the paper in front of her. Victor was getting married. She knew she should be happy for him, but a piece of her was undone by this news. It seemed that so many of her friends were getting married. She just didn't understand it. Why get married so young? But, the wizarding world encouraged marriages of the young and healthy. It always had. Marriages right after graduating from Hogwarts or other wizarding schools was very common. The sooner young witches started having little wtches and wizards, the better for the wizarding community. Strength in numbers was the thought. Although, now it seemed the Ministry was having to rethink its long held biases. Mixed marriages between muggleborns and purebloods was a trend on the rise. The power and continuation of magic was at stake and desperate times called for desperate marriages. The Ministry even contemplated passing a marriage law requiring muggleborn and purebloods to intermarry, but the magical community would not have allowed that. They would not be dictated to again. They wanted to maintain their free will. Voldemort's rule was still raw and no one wanted to revisit his imperialistic ways.

Hermione put the letter back in its envelope and almost jumped out of her skin when she looked up and saw Harry looking down at her. "Damn, Harry. You scared the bats out of me."

He smiled and sat down in the chair facing her desk. "I can't believe you resigned, Hermione. Shaklebolt just told me. Why didn't you tell me?"

Hermione looked at her friend and shrugged. "I have been thinking about it for a while, Harry. I knew if I told you, you would talk me out of it."

"Of course I would have talked you out of it! The Ministry needs you, Hermione. The wizarding world needs you!" His look was pleading. He started pacing in front of her desk and then suddenly stopped. He ran his hand throw his hair and then got a knowing look on his face. His eyes grew large. "Wait, you aren't taking that job in Chicago? Please, tell me you aren't leaving!" He dashed around to her side and kneeled down in front of her. " I know it's a great opportunity and all, but you can't leave me, Hermione."

Hermione took his hand and pulled him into a hug. "Don't be daft, Harry. You're my family. I would never move away from you." She held him tight and felt her eyes start to water. She blinked rapidly and took a deep breath. Calling him her family brought the memory of her lost parents to the front of her mind. They were always lingering in the shadows of her thoughts. Usually, she thought about them the most when she woke up in the middle of the night. She would tell herself to go back to sleep, but it never worked. She would find herself staring at the ceiling wondering where they were and if they were ok. She would then worry about growing old without a family of her own. Since things had fallen apart with Ron, she had been on a few dates, but no one really interested her enough. She was lonely and she feared growing old alone. She feared she would never find her parents. She had hired investigators and they were still searching, but it had been 4 years and she knew the chances of finding them were slim. Sometimes she regretted putting the memory charm on them and moving them to Australia, but most of the time she still felt she had done the right thing. Even if it meant she had lost them forever.

She pulled back and looked him in the eyes, "Harry, I have no interest in teaching in America. I just don't want to look at charts and graphs anymore. I want to do something more hands on. I want to research. I don't want to work for a boss who is afraid to accept what is right in front of him." She stood up and started to pace.

The look of relief on Harry's face was almost comical as he sat in her seat and watched her. She stopped and looked at him, "Harry, I need a change." Her voice broke and Harry could see she was trying to hold it together. He also noticed for the first time how haggard and tired she looked.

He stood and walked over to her. He took her hands and smiled sadly at her. "Mione, I'm sorry. I'm being selfish. You do what will make you happy and I will support you…always." He hugged her tight.

Friday

It had been 3 days since Hermione's resignation had been on the cover of The Daily Prophet. The owls and letters had been overwhelming. Some were job offers; others were letters of encouragement and thanks. And, of course, there were a few anonymous hate owls as well. There were still some purists out there who felt Muggleborn witches and wizards should be cast out the magical world, if not exterminated. These views were out of fashion, however and most in the magical community had come to realize the value of the muggleborn's. Not only were Muggleborn's becoming more powerful, as current trends were showing, but Muggleborn's were much more in touch with the other 99.8% of the world's population. Muggleborn's were taking more positions in the Ministry and as a result, more relationships were being built and nurtured with the muggle governing bodies of the world. The Muggle world still knew nothing about the magical community, but Muggleborns were helping the magical community learn to blend in more with the rest of the world. Schools were now requiring purebloods to take muggle studies. It was no longer an elective. At first these changes were met with much resistance, but acceptance was slowly creeping in. Without this change, Starbucks and Hollywood would never have been introduced to the wizard world.

Hermione walked into The Wayward Broom and sat at the bar. She ordered 2 Firewhiskey's and looked at her reflection in the mirror behind the bar. She watched the bartender pour her shots and exhaled as the drinks were set in front of her. This was a first. She was not one to go out to a bar by herself and she was not a big drinker, especially after dealing with Ron's destructive drinking. But, it was Friday night. She had 1 more week until her life would be changing and she didn't want to sit alone in her apartment.

She swallowed the first shot with her eyes closed and fought the burn in her throat. She let out a cough and startled when a man's voice said, "I hate to see a lovely lady drink alone."

She turned her head and was shocked to see Theo Nott standing less than a foot away from her with a soft smile on his face. He slid onto the barstool next to hers and signaled for a drink from the bartender. If any other slytherin had approached her she would have been wary and on guard. But while Theo was a snake, he was a garden snake in her opinion. Harmless and not aggressive like the venomous snakes she was used to dealing with in Slytherin. The bartender put his shot in front of him and he raised his glass to Hermione. She raised her glass in return and said, "here's to not drinking alone." They tossed their drinks back quickly. Hermione couldn't help the contortion of her face as she felt the burn once again going down her throat. She looked to her right at Nott when she heard his soft chuckle.

"If it's that bad, why do you drink it?" he asked with a small smile. Hermione couldn't help but notice his good looks. He had a boyish charm about him. His twinkling eyes were a light blue, his complexion pale and smooth and his dark, wavy hair, while in need of a trim, added to his youthful appearance.

"Well, I can sit here for an hour and sip on it, drawing out the torture, or I can just swallow it down fast and get it over with." Nott looked at her and leaned in a little, "that still doesn't explain why you are drinking it in the first place," he replied with a soft, but teasing voice.

She sighed and signaled to the bartender for 2 more and turned back to Nott. "I want to forget the real world on this fine, Friday evening, and a few shots of Firewhiskey seemed to be the optimal solution to my quest."

There it was again, that sad look in her eyes he had seen the other day at lunch. She was smiling but the smile didn't quite reach her eyes. "Well, I'll drink to that," he replied as the bartender put the two drinks in front of them. They each picked up their glasses and quickly downed their shots.

Hermione, starting to feel a little tipsy, and a little bold, said to the snake, "who are you, Theodore Nott? I mean, we were in the same year for 6 years and I know less about you than most of the other snakes, sorry, I mean Slytherins." She blushed at her slip up and he laughed. "I mean, I know your father was an active Voldemort supporter, but you, I never understood." She looked him in the eyes searching for answers.

Theodore, looked around the room , trying to think of how to answer. "Well, Hermione, in a nutshell, I honestly never really believed in all that blood supremacy bullshit. But, as you pointed out, I was a snake, well, I still am." He smiled at her again with that boyish grin. "I'll always be a Slytherin, every bit as much as you will always be a Gryffindor."

"Yeah, but I mean, who ARE you?" Her brown eyes looked into his blue searching for an answer.

He paused for a minute and contemplated her question. He replied with an exasperated sigh, "Honestly, Hermione..I don't know what to say. I'm just your average wizard, trying to make it in this crazy world we live in." He sighed.

"I'm sorry," she replied. I don't mean to make you uncomfortable." She gave him a small smile and bit her bottom lip, looking up at him. "It's just, you stood out from the other Slytherins, and I mean that in a good way." She smiled and continued in a teasing tone, "You seemed to be lacking the signature sneer or scowl that I thought was a requirement for your house." He laughed and watched her as she pulled off her robe, leaving her in a v neck sweater and dress slacks.

She could feel his eyes on her as she pulled off her work robe. She felt her heart start to race a little and she was really starting to feel warm. She raised her eyebrows at him, willing him to respond.

He continued to smile at her and replied, "Oh, I was sneering on the inside, believe me."

She laughed. "Oh, well Thank Merlin. I was beginning to think the sorting hat made a grave error."

Three hours and several drinks later, Hermione and Theo were standing at the door to her flat. He insisted on seeing her home, as any wizard worth his grain in salt would never let a drunk witch find her way home without an escort.

"Thanks for your company tonight. It was…an unexpected pleasure." Her words were a little slurred, but her smile finally reached her eyes. She was standing close and her soft brown eyes looking up at him caused his breath to hitch.

He couldn't help but notice how beautiful Hermione Granger really was. "The pleasure was all mine, Hermione," he replied. He took her hand in his and brought it up to his lips, placing a soft kiss on the back of her hand. "Until we meet again." With that he turned and apparated, leaving Hermione feeling a little disappointed that he had left



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