For the trillionth time of asking, I’m going to attempt to post this bloody fic.
It’s Hermione. Adopted. Adopted Hermione. Might work, or it might be like every other Hermione! Adopted! fic you’ve ever seen.
“You’re adopted, Hermione.”
With those three words, Hermione Granger’s world fell down about her. Three little words in which her mother became someone else, her father wasn’t her father and as for herself…. God only knew.
Three weeks had passed since that conversation, and she was still none the wiser as to how she was meant to react to this news.
“You’re adopted, Hermione.”
She didn’t understand. She always thought she looked like her mother and took after her father. She was always told she had her mother’s mouth. She was always told she laughed like her father.
She would turn eighteen in a few weeks, and Hermione Granger had no idea who the hell she was.
“You’ve been very quiet,” Ron remarked over breakfast at the Burrow. Hermione had been quiet in the time since she’d arrived at the Weasley house, and they had all taken note. When the weeks passed and there was no sign of so much as a colour-coded NEWT revision timetable, Ron and Harry began to panic.
Not that Harry got the chance to panic much, having to run off to the Ministry to help fight some evil-doers on more than one occasion. Ron tried his best, but the sun was shining for perfect Quidditch weather and if Hermione wasn’t willing to speak, he couldn’t force her.
“I’m tired, Ron,” she finally answered. This was true, largely because she spent her nights staring at the ceiling (Ginny’s room needed a thorough redecorating). Ron had been receiving these sort of answers for weeks, and so did not press the subject any more. Hermione remained silent as the Weasley clan bustled around in preparation for the trip to Kings Cross.
In fact, she remained quiet, if not entirely mute, for the entire journey up to Hogwarts. She remained quiet during the Sorting, and even seemed out of sorts to the new First years she took through the school.
Harry remained ‘away’ for reasons not explained even to her and Ron for the first week of school. When he returned, he was taken directly to the hospital wing, accompanied by Remus Lupin.
Her concern for her friend trumped her personal strife, and so she rushed down to enquire after Harry.
“Hermione, I haven’t been your professor for a very long time. What will it take to have you call me Remus?”
“Tell me what happened and if he’s all right, and I’ll see.”
Remus laughed at her and said, “He’s just exhausted.”
“Was it… I don’t have to know what
you were doing, but was it terrible?”
“It was… passable.” Remus now looked at her. “You look exhausted, Hermione. Up burning the midnight oil this early in the term?”
Hermione could not bring herself to look him in the eye, knowing that she liked and respected him far too much to lie directly.
“I’m all right,” she mumbled. Remus stared at her until she caved.
“It’s nothing, really.”
“I think it is something. You can talk to me. Only if you want to, of course.”
“I just… I found something out and… it really doesn’t matter.”
“You found out something?” She nodded and finally looked at him. He had the worried gaze of someone who knew what that something might be. She quite forgot her worries in order to be very curious.
“Why do you look like you dread what I’m about to say?”
For a moment, Remus looked very, very old. He shrugged.
“Would you care to take a walk with me, Hermione?”
“Just to the library.” Remus shuffled along the corridors, empty at that time of the evening. “It’s your birthday next week, isn’t it?”
“Good evening, Madam Pince,” Remus greeted the librarian with a polite nod of the head. She smiled benevolently as Remus took Hermione to a table. After a moment’s looking for some books, Remus sat down himself. He slid two books over to her. The first was A Convoluted History of British Magical Dynasties and the second was a hand bound collection of what appeared to be school newspapers from the 70s.
“Page sixty-two,” Remus instructed. Hermione, curious enough to be mutely obedient for now, turned to page sixty-two in the first book. There in crawling black ink was detailed in tree form, the definite rise and terrible demise of the Lupin family, from the great Cosimo di Lupino’s arrival in Britain in 1321 to the death of Remus’ parents only a few decades ago. The next twenty five pages were dedicated to the family’s rise in the magical herb import-export business and the next one hundred and thirteen involved the fall from grace following embargoes and the unfortunate incident in 1811 between Serafimo Lupin, one of the daughters of the Minister of Magic and a broken broomstick.
“Now, page nine hundred and thirty six.”
She turned the page to find the family tree for the family Merseburg. It started in Greece around the time Alexander was in India, got its current form in the German states during the Reformation and came to an abrupt halt with Theodora Merseburg’s death in 1981.
“Now…” Remus turned to an article in the school newspaper booklet. Hermione read on his urging.
“Theodora Merseburg, Ravenclaw’s new Quidditch Captain has been seen in the constant company of a Gryffindor who will remain nameless but who can usually be found hanging around his good pals. Wonder if Romulus would take it Siriusly?”
“You went out with this girl… Theodora?”
“More than that, Hermione. I wanted to marry her. We were… we lived together after leaving school.”
Hermione began to get a very heavy feeling in her stomach.
“They were hard times, you know. She… I… It was all very confused, everyone suspecting everyone else. Eventually I discovered that Theodora had taken the Dark Mark and that she was one of the reasons everyone else suspected me.”
“Remus…” Hermione began, desperate to find a way to phrase her question, but she found her brain unwilling to cooperate.
“I’m your father, Hermione.”
There it was, out in the open.
“You are? How long have you known?” She refused to become emotional when there was still much curiosity to quench. She forced herself to look up into his face.
“I’ve known since the moment I saw you. You look…. We used to call Theodora ‘Tufty’ because of her hair. I suppose adding mine to the mix just made it worse… not that your hair isn’t lovely. You have her eyes, I think and…”
“What happened to her? You said she took the Dark Mark?”
“She… There’s no easy way to tell you this.”
“So just tell me.”
“She committed suicide after finding out Voldemort had been defeated by Harry. I lost all of my best friends and my dearest love in the space of about twenty four hours. I even lost myself.”
Remus’ face clouded over with a thousand terrible memories, and it hurt her to do it, but Hermione had to bring him back from his remembrances to answer her questions. She cleared her throat quietly to give him a moment to recompose himself.
“But… I don’t understand what happened before
“Nor did I, at first. I knew when I saw you that you must be Theodora’s daughter and well… I knew Theodora loved me exclusively until our final parting… some seven months before you were born. I had to beg Dumbledore for the truth when I was teaching here and well… other events took precedence.”
Hermione was finding her resolve beginning to crack as her tear ducts filled. Remus didn’t dare reach for her hand and she didn’t think to reach for his. For a moment, they both sat, lost not in thoughts of families or blood, but of a man with a dashing smile and haunted eyes. Finally, Remus sniffed and continued his retelling of events.
“As far as I know, Theodora came to Dumbledore for help. She wasn’t going to give her child up into the service of Voldemort.”
“How selfless,” she snapped harshly.
“It wasn’t that. She didn’t want to sully the great name Merseburg with anything as tawdry as murder. Besides, she didn’t know what Voldemort would ask. She didn’t want to show her hand before she had to. She spent the summer in seclusion here. Nobody noticed her as missing- too many people were going missing and only I would’ve noticed by then and I was… not interested.”
“You were born. Dumbledore promised Theodora he would find you a home, but instead of giving you to a magical family as she assumed, he placed you in the anonymous safety of Bedfordshire Social Services.”
“And from there…”
“Precisely. Stroke of genius. It kept you safe until you attended Hogwarts, and nobody ever knew Theodora Merseburg ever had a daughter. Including me. After the end of the first war, Dumbledore had your birth record in the Ministry altered, and so you became Hermione Granger in this world as well as the Muggle world.”
Hermione’s head was swimming. She didn’t quite know what to say or what to do, so said and did nothing. Remus cleared his throat and stood up.
“I think I should go and check on Harry. See if he’s awake.”
Hermione nodded, and within a moment, she was alone at the table. For a long time, she simply sat there, still and quiet. Then Hermione’s usual nature surface and she took to Remus’ revelations in the same manner she reacted to his homework tasks four years earlier: She reached for the Convoluted History and began to study.
The thought that her birth father was a werewolf didn’t bother her at all- it wasn’t something he passed to her and she’d already been perfectly happy to accept him as a friend. In fact, the news that Remus Lupin, of all people, was her birth father, comforted her – a glimmer of something familiar in the midst of all the confusion. It tied her closer to this magical world she now lived in and, in a curious way, to Harry. Had things been different, better, they would have grown up side by side from the moment he was born. Hermione would have grown up thinking of James and Lily Potter as family, not to mention Sirius…
She stopped this dangerous daydream before it could overwhelm her entirely. That metaphorical ship had metaphorically sailed away forever, and it would not help to follow it down.
Hermione already knew Remus, and she already liked and respected him. What she did not know was the other side. Remus had been honest about Theodora’s political leanings, but what about the rest of the family?
Over the course of the next two hours, until Madam Pince demanded she leave, Hermione found out all about her ‘illustrious’ biological family. There were many surnames she recognised amongst the sprawling Merseburg dynasty, but for all the wrong reasons. Theodora’s mother had been Karolina Lestrange before marriage. Theodora’s two grandmothers had been a Crabbe and a Black. She was related to Sirius, but in the worst way. The further she probed into the family tree, the worse it became. The name Malfoy cropped up a number of times, mostly second or third daughters married off to a Merseburg for political, financial or dynastic reasons… but Theodora’s own elder sister had married into the branch of the family that now included Draco Malfoy. Olga Merseburg Malfoy had disappeared in the early 70s with her husband in Deepest Peru, leaving Theodora as the only surviving member of a once ‘proud and stately family’.
The only glimmer of comfort Hermione could gather was imagining the look on Draco’s face if he were to find out Hermione Granger was his cousin. It was hardly much comfort.
As she trudged up the stairs to her room, Hermione had to face up to the fact that there was barely a hint of good in her entire biological maternal family.
She remembered with desperate sadness, the kind smile of Nanna Louise, Mrs Granger’s mother. How snowy-haired Nanna Louise always had a Mars Bar for her, not to mention a warm, rose-scented hug. How sadly Nanna Louise had attempted to explain the concept of death to the young Hermione so that when cancer finally destroyed her lungs, Hermione would not be too confused.
Grandmere, on the other hand, Mr Granger’s impossibly elegant mother, was always perfectly coiffed and turned out. She claimed descent from a noble Franco-German family and acted like it… but her reserve usually broke with Hermione, for whom she had once destroyed a £300 dress to crawl around the garden looking for a lost teddy bear. She rarely smiled, but for Hermione, she always had.
Granddad Mike had taught her to ride a bike before he was knocked down by a Land Rover in the town centre while riding his own bike.
Great-Aunt Lucy had lots of tales to tell about her time in the ATS during the Second World War.
Great-Granny Helena, who remained in Hermione’s brain only as a blurred fragment of a memory, a tiny, frail lady with a kind but sad smile. She’d seen in the dawn of the 20th Century in Florence as a young ingenue of the English set there.
Aunt Carlotta still threatened to take straighteners to Hermione’s hair every time they met during school holidays. Cousins Jack and Emma had been horribly wicked to her when they were children, but now regarded her with quiet curiosity, occasionally asking questions about boarding school.
Uncle Tony had as many LPs as she had books. What he didn’t know about rock music from the 1970s wasn’t worth knowing.
Her eldest cousin Andy, now lived in Philadelphia and promised to let her stay with him and his wife Sarah for a holiday when she finished school.
Her youngest cousin, Julia, would be celebrating her first birthday six days after Hermione’s own birthday. She already had a shock of thick red hair that had made Hermione immediately wonder if that’s what Ron and his siblings had looked like as small babies.
Her mother Catherine always made her eat fruit instead of chocolates and sweets. Her father Richard was more lenient and allowed her the occasional bar of Dairy Milk. Neither had ever let her go a day without flossing when she was at home. Her mum liked watching Coronation Street, but her dad preferred crime dramas like Taggart and Cracker. They both loved BBC costume dramas, although they were divided on whether the lake scene in one of them was strictly necessary.
When she was ill as a child, Hermione’s mother always made her beans on toast and let her watch videos of Button Moon. Every time she threw up, her dad cleaned it up without so much as a murmur of complaint. For her one and only outing as part of her primary school’s netball team, they had both turned up.
Her mum had taught her to read and her dad had taught her to write. This, she was told, was because Catherine had the worst handwriting known to mankind. Hermione could still see traces of her father’s influence in her own penmanship these days, from the curling of the y to the curve of the e.
Her mother never let her eat chocolate, but she’d never been denied a single book. Not even when at the grand old age of six she’d asked for War and Peace ‘because it looks big’. Her dad had sat down with her and helped her as she’d tried to make sense of it.
Hermione sat down on her bed and sobbed.
Hermione was still crying, in fact, when some time later her fire suddenly flared. After a brief pause, Harry Potter stepped into her room, holding his left arm rather gingerly.
“Harry, you’re meant to be recuperating!” She forgot briefly but entirely about her own concerns to fuss over him.
“I am recuperating.”
“People usually do that in the hospital wing.”
“Yeah,” he said, dismissing this observation by slumping down onto the bed beside her. He fixed her with a look and asked, “Why are you crying?”
“I’m not crying.”
“You were. Why?”
“You haven’t cried over ‘nothing’
in your entire life.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“Hermione, I know I’ve been a fairly absent friend recently, but I’m not blind, stupid or uncaring. Tell me what has been bothering you since we got to the Burrow.”
She didn’t want to tell him, but she also didn’t want to say nothing. Since he made it clear he had no intention of going until something had been revealed, she sighed and answered him.
“I’m adopted,” she said, using that same curious matter-of-fact tone her mother had used on her. She found it curious: was that really the only way it could be said?
“Oh. OK.” Harry, to his credit, wasn’t fazed by this for a moment.
“I’m really the child of magical… magical…” she sniffled and tried to fight back her tears again. Harry put an arm around her shoulders and squeezed her gently.
“Anyone we know?” he joked. She nodded without humour and he lost his smile as he waited to hear who it might be.
Now Harry looked surprised. Then, he grinned.
“Nothing wrong with that, although I think your parents should’ve told you earlier than this. When you were a baby… or something.”
“What difference would that have made?”
“Well, for one thing, it wouldn’t be half as a big a deal as it is now. It would be just another thing in amongst all the other Hermione stuff. I have some experience of receiving life-changing news, you know.”
She nodded sadly, thoughts of Harry’s life bringing her right back to the Merseburgs. She burst into tears again. Harry, once more to his credit, didn’t hesitate before pulling her into a tight hug and waiting patiently for the sobs to quiet down.
“My… my…” she stuttered slightly, trying to take in some air to her lungs. “My mother was a Death Eater! She wanted… she wanted you dead, Harry, and probably helped kill your parents! They suspected Remus of being the traitor because he was in love with her! My mother helped kill yours!”
After this rather shocking news, Harry was silent for quite some time. Then finally, he spoke, very quietly.
“Hermione, have you ever wanted to kill me?”
“Of course not!”
“Have you ever considered joining the Death Eaters?”
“Then I don’t see why this matters.”
“How can you-”
“Oh come on, Hermione! The wizard world is obsessed with blood and family and purity, but it doesn’t mean a bloody thing.”
“If family or blood really meant anything to some of these people, Bellatrix would never have killed Sirius, and Snape would be really evil instead of just a git and… Hermione, you’re not your family, whether you mean dentists or witches. Maybe if you’d grown up with these people, it might be different… but probably not. I mean, Sirius is proof of that! He was from a dark family and was a good wizard. Even the Potters aren’t immune… and bloody hell, surely I’m nothing like the Dursleys!”
She admitted quietly that he made a salient point and that no, he was nothing like the Dursleys.
“There you go, then.”
“But… Harry, nothing is the same now. I don’t know who I am, what I am or who I’m meant to be-”
“You’re Hermione Granger. This new information doesn’t negate that… I do mean ‘negate’, right?”
“You’re Hermione. You are what you make yourself.”
“When did you become so wise?” she asked in an attempt to lighten the situation. He shrugged.
“Practice. Besides, I grew up in a cupboard and face certain death annually. Makes a person think. Anyway, Voldemort would blame his situation. He has, in fact…. but we’re better than that, me and you. We’re who we are because we chose it this way.”
“I’m Draco Malfoy’s cousin.”
“Bloody hell!” Harry thought for a moment. “I hope I’m there to see his face when he finds out. With a camera. And witnesses.”
“I don’t want people to know. They’ll say… They’ll say that this is why I’m good at magic and classes and-”
“That is beyond stupid,” Harry interrupted. “You’re the best witch of our year because you work hard and because you’re dedicated. If your family tree were really the issue, Millicent Bulstrode would have been top of the year since First Year instead of a horrible girl with a Habsburg chin and a Medici nose.”
“Perhaps.” Hermione was at least pleased that he’d been listening to her that night she chose to enlighten him about the royal houses of Europe and how they were as inbred as some of the pureblood families.
“No perhaps about it. You are the best of us and it’s never been about the magic.”
“Really Harry, when did you become so wise?”
He shrugged as if she’d just asked where he got his shirt.
“It’s been a fairly intense few years,” was his reply. Hermione once more forgot her own troubles to concentrate on his. As he had done for her, she pressured him to talk about what had been going on with him, the war and the rest. It would be many hours before Harry finally made his way back to the hospital wing.
Hermione was glad to learn that Remus was still at Hogwarts the next day, for she felt there was still more to be said. Harry’s reappearance at school caused a relieved stir amongst the students, who were well-versed enough in the ways of the war to limit their curiosity to the occasional stare.
“Are you going to write to your parents?” he asked Hermione as he settled down beside Ron for breakfast. He had clearly decided that her drama was more important than his. She shrugged and picked at her breakfast, the comfort of their late-night conversation gone in the cold light of day.
“I don’t know,” she replied curtly.
“You should at least send them a note to say you got here safely. I know you haven’t written to them at all since the summer.”
“They know we’re in a dangerous world. They must be worried.”
“Fine. I’ll pen a brief missive detailing the curriculum and the current menu as if everything was still the same.”
“What’s the same?” Ron interrupted, having caught the tail end of her snappish remark.
“Tell you later,” Harry promised, casting a glance at the crowded table. Assuming it was related to the war, Ron didn’t question him and turned back to his conversation with Seamus regarding Quidditch.
‘Later’ didn’t come along until lunchtime, and Ron listened with the same sort of casual curiosity Harry had shown. He listened, adding a few remarks of his own, then finally he said:
“Blimey Hermione,” Ron said once she’d finished talking, crying again but not nearly as much as she had the day before. “I can’t wait to see the look on Malfoy’s face.”
She sniffled back a laugh, “That’s what Harry said.”
“Oh, he’s Gryffindor’s resident sage these days,” Ron cracked. “Didn’t you get the owl about it?”
No more was said about Hermione’s birth family for the rest of lunch as they took the opportunity to mercilessly mock each other and Hermione took some time to lecture them about proper revision planning.
“Harry tells me that you’ve yet to write to your parents.”
Remus didn’t bother with preamble when he found Hermione in the library again. She didn’t reply, so he sat down opposite and fixed her with a steely sort of a look.
“You should write to your parents. They are your parents.”
Hermione snorted. Underpinning all the revelations of the past few days and weeks was a hearty resentment towards the Grangers. For all that they weren’t like the Merseburgs, there was plenty to be angry about.
“They have had me living a lie, Remus,” she snarled. Hermione actually snarled at him. “They did not see fit to tell me… I might have been perfectly fine with the whole bloody situation if they’d always been honest with me. It works for other children… why not me? Why did they think it would be best to lie to me?”
“I don’t know. And you won’t know if you don’t ask them. Be outraged and angry if you like, but… you’ll never get any of the answers to any of your questions if you never speak to them ever again.”
“Who said anything about ever again?”
“So, when will you speak to them, or write to them? When you have children yourself? Grandchildren? Because I speak from bitter, bitter experience that you never have as many tomorrows as you imagine.”
“I… I don’t know what to do,” she said. “I never don’t know what to do. I always know what to say and do and think and feel and… that’s what I do. I’m the one with the answers.”
Remus grinned, “Yes, I know. It’s an interesting feeling, isn‘t it?”
“Oh Hermione, it’s time for you to be as lost as the rest of us for a little while. Don’t worry, it probably won’t last long.”
“I don’t like feeling like this.”
“Like something that isn’t me.”
“Why do you feel like that?”
“Why are you asking so many questions?”
“Are you going to answer?”
“I don’t have any idea who I am!” she hissed quietly, as some other students came into the library chattering loudly.
“Because everything I believed about myself and where I came from has turned out to be absolute nonsense!”
“That’s not true, and when you’ve come down from your anger, you’ll know that’s not true.”
“It’s easy for you to say! At least you’ve had some time to digest the information. I got told four and a half weeks ago because they thought it my ‘right to know’ once I turned eighteen. As if that mattered at all!”
“What does matter?”
“Stop asking me so many questions!” Hermione’s raised voice caught the attention of the Ravenclaws by the window. Remus sighed and ran a hand through his hair. Now that she really thought about it, she did
have hair like him, albeit it tuftier
. “How can… What am I…. I can hardly start calling you ‘Dad’ and acting like we’ve known each other forever. But I… You’re not just Professor Lupin
either. I just-”
“Friends, Hermione. That’s all I could ever hope for. I’m not your dad, not in the ways that count. I wasn’t there to tuck you in at night or take you to school of a morning. I wasn’t there for-” Remus’ voice cracked and rather than risk breaking down in the library, he went silent.
For the first time since the truth had come out, Hermione really understood that this affected him as badly as it did her. He’d had a few years to think about it privately, but it was nothing compared to this. Theodora was long dead, and so the only chance Remus had at having a family had already grown almost to majority. Even if he had known about her from the beginning, he could not have done anything about it. Remus and Hermione were forced into their separate lives as much as Harry and Sirius had been.
How wonderful it would have been to grow up with Remus! How wonderful to have grown up alongside Harry, whether he’d been with James and Lily or with his godfather.
For the first time in her life, she learned what it was to truly hate. She clenched and unclenched her fists a number of times to try and release a little of the rage.
“I want to kill him,” she whispered.
“Who?” Remus asked. Hermione looked at him and realised she’d said it out loud.
“You’re not alone there.”
“No, I mean it. I really want to kill him. I want to make him suffer for what he’s done to us, and to Harry and to-” Now it was Hermione’s turn to fight back a sob.
“We can’t change the past.”
“I have before.”
“Not as far back as you would need to go. You would need to kill Tom Riddle in the cradle. That’s not possible, not even for witches and wizards. If it were, it would have been done. He’s torn apart more families than you can imagine, but people made their choices. Be grateful for what we still have-”
Hermione snorted most ungraciously. In return, he patted her hand.
“Imagine the alternatives. You could be dead. There are worse scenarios than that. You could be in the service of Voldemort and whatever that might entail. Hermione, you’ve had the best possible life given the circumstances. As a friend, as a father, I am so grateful for that.”
“In the employ of Voldemort?” she asked faintly. He nodded seriously.
“You had a lucky escape, Hermione. Be grateful to your mum and dad for that, at least,” Remus now got up and squeezed her shoulder affectionately. “Write to them.”
“What should I say?”
“I don’t know. What do you usually tell them about life at school?”
“At this school? As little as possible!”
“Tell them how you feel. How you have felt. Keep writing until you don’t feel so angry, then throw the letter away and start again. Good night.”
“But, what about-” she stopped when she realised he’d left. She reached into her bag for some parchment and her quill.
The owl woke Catherine Granger up two mornings later. It tapped against the bedroom window until given access and some water. Catherine was exhausted after a six hour dental operation the afternoon before, but on seeing the letter from Hermione she became wide awake. She called to Richard, who was already downstairs eating breakfast, and opened the envelope.
“Dear Mum and Dad,” Hermione wrote.
“This is the ninth draft of this letter and I suppose I should at least apologise for leaving it so long. I know you worry, but you really needn’t worry too much- we’re safe here for the time being. If anything should happen, you’ll know about it. I had a lot of things to say when I started writing, but it all came out as an indecipherable mess of nonsense.
I have Ancient Runes classes first thing on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays and Fridays, which is horrible, but Transfiguration is now all afternoon on the same days, so it’s not really too bad. I’ve managed to keep ahead of homework so far, but I dread to think what will happen when I get closer to the NEWTs. Harry and Ron seem almost unconcerned about the exam and say we’ve got months to go, but they’re always cavalier about that sort of thing.
The food is marvellous as usual, and I promise I’m keeping away from all the sugary stuff, more or less.
Do you remember Professor Lupin, from the Third Year? He’s returned to the school to teach some more Defence Against The Dark Arts to the older students. He’ll be writing to you soon, I’m sure.
It’s really very late, so I can’t write more at the moment. All is as well as we can reasonably expect at the moment. You don’t need to worry, although I’m sure you do anyway.