Disclaimer: Mr. H. Potter and the universe in which he resides belongs not to me, but to it's author J.K Rowling.
A/N: Some notes before we begin:
Canon-compliant (with the novels) until the Battle of Hogwarts, at which point there are some slight deviations. Those consist of keeping some people alive for the purposes of this story. The epilogue is irrelevant.
Rating is subject to change.
As for warnings, I will try to warn as things come up.
May 3 1998
'I think I've had enough adventure for a lifetime'
- Harry Potter, 'Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows'
Hermione and Ron put their arms around Harry and hugged him tight. 'Right you are, mate' said Ron. He grinned at Hermione, who smiled back and hugged her friends tighter.
On their way down the stairs, Hermione choked out the realization she'd been holding off since seeing the dead laid out in the Great Hall.
'I'm not sure normal exists for us anymore.'
She stopped mid-step, lost in thought at her own pronouncement, before continuing, much more businesslike.
'In any case I'm not sure we ought to go back to how things were. I mean... Fudge was terrible, wasn't he? And Scrimgeour was terrible, and well... It's not like the Ministry has a great record of running things, is it? I mean, I can't think of anyone who trusts them.'
Ron smiled, interrupting her tirade before she'd had a chance to start it.
'I'm sure it will be fine seeing as you've likely planned for every possibility already.' He squeezed her hand reassuringly, and Hermione realized to her surprise and relief that she was mollified by the simple gesture. She was too tired for all of this.
Ron's expression was milder, more gentle, than before and she liked this new Ron, she decided, even though she could see the grimace in his smile and the tired circles around his eyes. He was tired and in mourning. Everyone's in mourning, Hermione corrected herself quietly.
Hermione and Ron locked hands and they all headed down toward the Great Hall.
On their way past they could hear the angry mutterings and anguished wailing and weeping of some of the Death Eaters that were chained up in a room off the corridor. A sniffling voice choked out 'My Lord... oh, my Lord' in a clearly heartbroken tone.
Hermione peered into the room, catching a glimpse of Bellatrix Lestrange. While Bellatrix had been injured badly enough by Molly Weasley to be incapacitated for the battle she had indeed survived, and had since been chained to the wall within sight of the broken body of her master. She had wept from the moment she woke, and as the morning had progressed the wails of anguish had stirred annoyance enough to unite all sides of the war in bristling dislike. Bellatrix had remained resolutely unfazed about this as she seemed positively possessed by her grief.
'HE'S GONE! GONE! GONE FROM ME! I cannot STAND IT!' she shrieked suddenly and Hermione gave a start as she watched the woman rattling her chains loudly. 'MY LORD! Oh, my Lord...' she threw herself against the chains, seemingly attempting to hurl herself at her Masters body. She only managed to produce a horrific choking sound, and a final anguished 'He was so beautiful.' before collapsing against the floor defeated and crying silently. Ron looked stunned, whilst Harry rolled his eyes and mumbled 'That's healthy...' to the general amusement of everyone within earshot, and the trio pressed on into the Hall.
Healers had been sent from St. Mungos immediately after the Battle and they were busily examining people. 'Everyone has to be examined!' they were informed by a harassed-looking Medi-wizard who pointed them in the direction of their assigned Healer, who had set up behind a privacy screen on the opposite end of the Hall. The room was buzzing with activity, so unlike the place of mourning it had been just a short while before, or the scene of jubilation it had been when they had left it last.
Ginny caught up with them as they were crossing the room. She looked to have aged about ten years since Hermione had last seen her. Her hair was limp and her usually upright posture bent tiredly forward. Her red-rimmed eyes smiled at them from a distant place, so unlike their usual fiery presence.
'Neville and the other DA members have been taken to the hospital wing by Madam Pomfrey but I stayed behind. She's refusing to let anyone else treat them unless they're Senior Healers! She's got rather protective of them this year, hasn't she?'
'She must've, yeah.' Harry mumbled distractedly, his head bent to look on the ground immediately in front of him. Ginny pressed on in a toneless, but insistent voice.
'Lavender Brown's been taken to St. Mungo's. Part of a group. There were five of them altogether, a couple of them second-years who got back here somehow. Attacked by Greyback the lot of them. They looked half-dead, blood everywhere. Lavender got the worst of it, though, I saw her. There were these huge gashes along her stomach and on her back, you could see right in to her organs just about. And she was bitten, too.. You could see the inside of her shoulder, all of it. Tendons and flesh and veins and bones and...'
Ron looked green.
'Any good news?' Hermione interrupted, trying to get them away from the topic of Lavender. They'd lived in the same dorm for six years, and had gotten on reasonably well apart from that fiasco last year. Hermione felt dizzy with sadness thinking that Lavender might die. She'd always been so... animatedly and decidedly alive.
'Tonks and Lupin woke up! Same thing as Bellatrix, apparently. They just... seemed dead but weren't? I didn't quite catch what happened, but either way they've come 're at St. Mungo's now.'
'Lupin is dead. I met him in the Forest and he was dead.' Harry said with a surprising finality. Before anyone had time to question how Harry had met a dead person, Ginny gently corrected him.
'Was dead, then.' she patted his shoulder. 'Somehow alive now.'
'There's a lot of that going around.' Ron responded, smiling cautiously at Harry. Harry just looked tired.
They walked on and found their assigned Healer. Harry was examined first, then it was Ron and finally it was Hermione's turn.
Healer Selwyn was a stout woman likely in her mid-fifties, with a kind expression. She reached out her hand for Hermione to shake as she introduced herself and it was warm and comforting.
The Healer poked and prodded and moved her wand in complicated patterns around Hermione while muttering a string of complicated incantations. Warm energy surged through her body, she felt, as her skin knit itself together again, fractures healed with a jolt like lightning and an electric charge moved itself throughout her body, lingering in painful places until they felt pleasantly tingling. Hermione decided it was all very impressive, but exhausting.
'There you are, miss Granger.' Healer Selwyn told her as the energy she'd been feeling left Hermione's body. 'You've had a few injuries, of course, but nothing too bad. You do have some standard spell damage to your magic, as is to be expected. You've been doing some heavy spellwork.' Hermione nodded as Healer Selwyn gazed at her. 'And some Dark magic as well?' Hermione nodded again, staring at a spot on the floor. 'I would also say you've had some significant exposure to Dark magic and Dark Objects?'
'Well, you'll need to see a Healer at St. Mungo's, though it is not urgent. You'll need some soul healing for the damage to your magic, it is a bit destabilized. We will owl you when we have an appointment for you, and I would advise that you avoid any heavy spellwork until then. Any questions?'
Hermione shook her head.
'Now, there's one other thing, miss Granger. I can't help but notice you have some Crucio-related damage.'
'It's been treated...' she started, surprised.
'Not as it should have been, though unless you actually came in to the hospital I'm not sure anyone could have done it properly. That must have been a fairly extensive bit of cursing, am I correct?'
Hermione looked away from the kind face of the Healer, nodding once as she fought back tears.
'Longer exposure do tend to leave permanent marks. You've got scars?'
Hermione nodded again.
'Well, whoever treated you did a fine job for a civilian, but I'm afraid some permanent damage has been done. But it is minimal, hardly anything to worry about. If you experience bouts of uncontrollable trembling, like your nerves are twitching, that is what that is. Nothing to be done about it now, I'm afraid, but I thought you should know in any case. It's always best to be informed.' She peered at Hermione with empathy, and smiled.
Hermione flushed, inexplicably, with embarrassment. Quickly shaking her head and excusing herself she rushed out of the Hall past her waiting friends and approached the Death Eater holding room where an ongoing disturbance caught her attention and she halted.
The captured Death Eaters were being examined while Senior Healer Shafiq was explaining everything to Minister Shacklebolt, neither of them seemingly bothered by the new onlooker hearing everything.
Most of the Death Eaters had been transported directly to a secure ward guarded by the senior Aurors brought out of retirement to guard them. When the Minister prodded about the screening of Healers who could be trusted not to harm the prisoners, Healer Shafiq responded 'The Healer's Oath says to First Do No Harm, Minister. It is such a cornerstone of our profession I hear even the Muggles have adopted it.' with such indignation that Hermione felt as if she was listening to Professor McGonagall explain something to someone very dim-witted and rude.
As they kept talking, Hermione learned that a surprising number of the Death Eaters' injuries were caused by their Master, and most of them had long-term damage from torture. She shuddered at that, still reeling from the news that she, too, was stuck with her damage.
Several Azkaban breakouts had already been put in an intensive Soul Healing programme, Shafiq went on, but Hermione's attention shifted to the commotion that was still going on inside the room where the last person left to be examined, Bellatrix Lestrange, was putting up quite a fight.
'GET OFF ME YOU DIRTY SQUIBS! DO NOT TOUCH ME, YOU BYPRODUCTS OF DUNG!' Bellatrix screamed expletives while viciously spitting, kicking and clawing at anything she could reach whilst the Healers around her desperately tried to hold onto whatever limb they were attempting to examine. Finally a Healer managed to send a well-aimed Petrificus Totalus at her and they administered a calming draft. Once subdued, the damage found was extensive. The combined toll of all her injuries, spell damage, her soul damage from Azkaban... only her very powerful magic was keeping her alive Senior Healer Shafiq informed the Minister as the Death Eater was rushed to St. Mungos where she evidently promptly tried to strangle herself with her hair in an attempt to reunite with her Lord in death. Hermione almost smiled at how truly ridiculous the last powerful Death Eater standing was.
On her way back to the Great Hall she found the Minister following her.
'Might I have a word, miss Granger? And mister Potter and mister Weasley, you as well.' he gestured for the boys who had been sidling up toward them and they followed after him. He lead them to an empty classroom where he begun to explain his intentions almost immediately upon shutting the door behind him.
'I have called a state of emergency. The country is in utter chaos, and there is a lot of confusion in the community regarding certain events and who is behind them. The work of clearing up what has happened begins now. Immediately.'
A deep breath followed.
'The war is over, and it is time for full, unqualified disclosure. This is not a request, but an order. You will be depositioned. In exchange we will also forgive the... legally delicate situations you all have been in as of late. Unforgivables, robberies, illegal impersonation, fraud, Apparating without a license and the like, all forgiven. Slate wiped clean.' he gave them a broad smile. 'Of course, it isn't much, but this is a fresh start and we have decided to give everyone a chance this once. Our stipulation is simple: no more secrets. Alright?'
The constipated look Harry gave Hermione at that might have been comical in any other situation. The Minister explained that the depositions would start tomorrow, but they will be interviewed today for the Prophet in order to set the record straight immediately before any rumours can start.
So, as the sun set on their day of victory Hermione Granger did not celebrate the final, decisive victory she had worked for so long. Instead she was interviewed by none other than Rita Skeeter.
'Bloody unbelievable.' she muttered under her breath more than once between strained smiles to the woman she once kidnapped and blackmailed. At least she won't dare to slander us, she smiled to herself.
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