Disclaimer: As Harry Potter from crimes would pardoned be, let your indulgence set JK Rowling free.
A/N: Well, here we are. This is the final chapter of Lady Archimedes. It's been a long, wild ride, but I've enjoyed it, and I'm glad so many of you have too. I'll be the first to admit I made a lot of mistakes with this story. I was just starting in fanfiction when I began The Arithmancer, and I hadn't yet developed good taste in reading it, much less writing it. Looking back, at the very least, it wound up too long by half.
I've tried to learn from those mistakes. For example, my original plan for seventh year was to have several more raids and counter-raids with Hermione being more of a front-line fighter, and her feud with Rookwood would have been a bigger part of that. But as I went along, I realised that it made much more strategic sense for her to hang back and work on her rituals, so a lot of that was cut. That was probably for the best, since it would have made the story 10 chapters longer, and it was long enough already.
In fact, the original Harry Potter books add up to 1.08 million words. The Arithmancer and Lady Archimedes together are…a little over 1.12 million words (in practice, probably within the margin of error). I never thought I'd rewrite the entire Harry Potter series full-length, but it's been a lot of fun.
This is not quite the end of the Great Arithmancer's story, though. There is a sequel in the works, titled Annals of Arithmancy, but it will be much shorter and much more episodic—only 20-25 chapters. However, I'm still deciding where I want to go next with my various stories. I can promise something will be published next week, but I'm not sure what it will be, so keep checking my profile page for updates.
Also, credit to HowlnMadHowie for reminding me about Rita Skeeter.
The next day was a Sunday, and it was universally agreed that it would be a day of rest for everyone. On Monday, the fourth of May, the reconstituted Ministry would take its first steps. That day, Transitional Minister Weasley and the slayers of Voldemort all made a public appearance in Diagon Alley as a show of confidence to the people. (Under guard, of course. Barty Crouch and a few unmarked true believers were still out there, after all.) Even Luna was there, although she was still leaning heavily on Neville. She had been one of the hardest hit by the battle and had been much more subdued than her usual serene self. She'd taken the loss of her father hard even before she was Kissed by the dementor. As far as they could tell, she'd been something equivalent to comatose afterwards until Hermione killed it, but they had no idea if it did any long term damage.
Fred and George, on the other hand, had already split off to assess the damage to their shop. They wanted to be up and running again in time for the August rush.
"Obviously, the first order of business is to round up as many stragglers from the battle as we can," Percy said. "But the problem's ten times worse than last time. It's not just the people who were Imperiused. They infested the Ministry from top to bottom this time, and we have to figure out who was threatened, who was tricked—"
"And who was just a thug," Hermione added. "From what I could gather, the Snatchers weren't true believers."
"They weren't Death Eaters," Percy corrected. "There's a lot of space between that and not believing the rhetoric. But you're right. A lot of them were just thugs. Some of them were mercenaries. Not to mention probably more than half the werewolves in the country were at Hogwarts on Walpurgis Night."
Something Hermione really hoped wouldn't feed into further persecution of werewolves, but they were nowhere near that point yet. "So how are you dealing with it?" she asked.
Percy harrumphed. "Unfortunately, we're three days behind them. We spent most of the weekend trying to vet enough Ministry people to put together a functional security force. I have some of them raiding known Death Eater and sympathiser hideouts, but I doubt we'll find much. And all the foreign mercenaries are probably out of the country by now."
"I suppose so," Hermione admitted. "Oh! Speaking of which, I believe Yaxley and Runcorn are still comatose in muggle hospitals."
He stared at her for a moment. "Right. We should retrieve them, too. Anyway, the parchment trail isn't great either. Thicknesse was maintaining the trappings of a functional Ministry, but they weren't exactly recording the most insidious stuff after I stole the records last year—or they put it behind layers of obfuscation.
"I also went to the Prime Minister over the weekend. I showed him what documents we had, including the part about them framing you and Harry for the hospital. Honestly, the muggle relations are going to be the biggest pain in the arse. The Prime Minister said he wants to keep a closer watch on us from now on. I don't think he trusts us."
"I can't say I blame him," Hermione said, "although it will make things difficult."
"Well, I petitioned the ICW to see how much they can do, and I moved Cresswell over to head the Muggle Liaison Office. He can probably do the job better than I can. I don't think it'll be more than a couple days before they clear your names. Cresswell just needs to work with them to make up a plausible story."
Hermione nodded. She supposed it was too much to ask to be able to show her face in the muggle world again right away. Meanwhile, in the magical world, people were staring at them as they walked down the street. A few fled from them when they saw them. Others ran up to shake their hands, and the guards had to hold them off while they searched them—although that was more Harry's problem. Word had certainly spread of the carnage at Hogwarts, though, and her part in it in particular. Not to mention killing a bloody dementor. That might be even scarier than what she did to Bellatrix. She could see the fearful looks she got here and there. Hopefully, that would quiet down, too.
Ginny spoke up from behind them, her voice cold: "That still leaves a couple hundred of Voldemort's army out there somewhere." She looked around suspiciously at the people on the street. "Too many people got away last time, and now this?"
"We ought to be able to identify a lot of them, shouldn't we?" Hermione suggested. "Plenty of us saw them."
Harry started suddenly, and Ginny turned to stare at him. "Dumbledore's Pensieve," he said. "It's still in the castle, right? We can use it to get the faces of everyone who was there."
"That's a good idea, Harry," Percy said. "I'll have to ask McGonagall if she can recover it. That should at least make finding them all easier."
"Finding them, yes," Hermione agreed, "though I worry that will be the easy part. We know some of them were definitely Imperiused."
"Well, that's what I was saying," Percy continued, "and maybe even worse, there are so many who just went along with what the Death Eaters said without joining the fighting, and for any number of reasons—all the witches and wizards who never raised a wand to us, but agreed with them nonetheless. If we try to root them all out, the Ministry won't be able to function as it stands."
"Except that leaving them be is what let the blood purist ideology survive for so long," Harry said.
"Just get rid of all the Slytherins," Ginny suggested.
"Not all Slytherins are bad, Ginny," Hermione said.
"I know they're not, Hermione, but it'd be a lot easier to avoid people we can't trust—"
"Ginny," Harry said softly. She turned and looked back at him, and she backed down. Hermione could guess what they were thinking. Harry himself could have been in Slytherin. So could Hermione, for that matter. They couldn't judge people based on a glorified personality test administered by an old hat when they were eleven.
"It's not going to be easy to find a solution," Hermione said. "After all, the muggles had a whole plan drawn up in advance for denazification in Germany, and this is nearly the same problem, except in scale."
Percy stopped. "De-what?"
"Hm? Oh, denazification. In World War II—Grindelwald's War, Grindelwald's muggle allies were called Nazis. They had a blood-based ideology similar to the Death Eaters—in fact, so similar that I think the Death Eaters copied a lot of it. Anyway, when the Nazis were deposed, the Allies set up a program to root out their ideology from top to bottom, and they called it…denazification…Why are you looking at me like that?"
Percy was staring at her with a gleam of excitement in his eyes. "Hermione, I think that's exactly what we need," he said with a grin.
"What, denazification? Or, I suppose the word would be different. De-Death-Eater—? De-Voldemort—? De…mortification?" That one actually sounded pretty good, but the meaning wouldn't be so clear to the average wizard on the street.
"You can call it whatever you want," Percy said. "I'm putting you in charge of the committee."
"We clearly need something like that, and you seem pretty well informed about it. As Transitional Minister, I'm appointing you the Head."
"But—you—" Hermione stammered, then she scowled. This was payback for making him Minister, wasn't it. "You should've been in Slytherin, Percy. And quit laughing, you two," she snapped at Harry and Ginny. "You helped make him Minister, too. I'm sure he can find something for you to do."
Obviously as part of the rebuilding, they needed to survey the Ministry. They Flooed in since Harry and Hermione couldn't go by the surface streets, and they again had to go through a lot of security, naturally. Hermione wasn't so sure it would stop a determined attacker who had time to prepare. She could certainly think of a few ideas. But as broken as the other side was, she doubted there was that much risk. Even with Barty Crouch out there, there was only so much he could do alone.
Crouch was still at large, but the raids that morning had netted a few valuable people from the various hideouts around the country. The most notable was a haggard-looking blond women with an infant in her arms.
"I'm telling you, I don't know anything that's been going on," Narcissa Malfoy protested. "Lucius ran off to fight at Hogwarts and didn't come back. The next thing I heard from anyone was when Aurors showed up at the door this morning to tell me my husband and sister were dead."
"You expect us to believe you didn't contact anyone?" demanded a wizard Hermione didn't know and who might not have even been an Auror. "For three days?"
"I felt the pulse of magic in the wards Friday morning," Narcissa said. "I saw the clouds blotting out the Sun. I wasn't going to go out that day. No one came by the Manor anymore except my family and the Dark Lord, and you tell me they're all dead."
"And yet for two more days, you didn't leave the house?"
"I was waiting for word. I wasn't going to leave Columba not knowing what was out there. If the Dark Lord had fallen, I was afraid of exactly this happening, or worse."
Hermione stopped to look. She couldn't really see the baby girl from there. Columba Malfoy. The Dove. What was Narcissa thinking when she chose that name, weeks ago when Voldemort still seemed ascendant? She leaned over to Percy and whispered to him, "You might ask if one of the Tonkses will come in and talk to her. She might cooperate more with a familiar face."
Percy considered that and nodded, and he soon tracked down a clerk and sent the message. They continued touring the Ministry from there. She grew more worried about the documentation when he showed it to her. It was worryingly thin with plenty of room for plausible deniability. When Voldemort died, there had apparently been a fight in the Ministry, with the true believers trying to destroy the documentation that would implicate them, and their own side trying to save it, so a lot of it was incomplete.
Until, that is, they got a very lucky break when a woman approached them in the Atrium with a sheaf of parchment six inches thick.
"Excuse me, Miss Granger."
Hermione did a double take when she saw her. The voice was familiar, but she almost didn't recognise the face that went with it, but then she gasped: "Rita Skeeter?"
Rita looked completely different after being in hiding for so long. Her two-inch painted nails were gone. Her rhinestone-studded glasses were replaced with black plastic frames. Her starched, blond curls were limp and stringy—and brown. She looked…normal.
"Yes, Granger, you are the one who employed me."
"Well, yes. It's just, I've been hiding in the woods for the past three months. I'm afraid I forgot."
"Wait, you employed her?" Percy said. "For what?"
"To document the crimes of the Death Eaters…Minister?" Rita said. Her wicked grin with her three gold teeth came back, and she was unmistakable then. She held up the sheaf of parchment and leafed though a few of the pages for them to see. "And believe me, I've got quite the juicy tale to tell here."
Percy's eyes widened. "You got copies of the missing documents?" he said. "The real documents, not the stuff you made up."
Rita glared at him. "I'll have you know, Minister, that Little Miss Perfect here ordered me to make my truth above reproach as a condition of the job, and frankly, this truth needs no embellishment." She giggled: "You may make an honest journalist out of me yet, Granger."
Percy turned to Hermione questioningly. "I hired her as a spy and a propagandist working with the Creevey Brothers before we went off the grid," she explained. "But mostly, I wanted her to tell the true story so no one could deny it later. And…it looks like she came through."
"Bloody hell," he breathed. "Miss Skeeter, I can't believe I'm saying this, but I can't thank you enough for your help. This information could be invaluable for bringing the remaining Death Eaters and their sympathisers to justice." He reached for the documents, but Rita pulled them back.
"Ah, ah, ah, Minister," she said. "I do expect my fee for this work. Otherwise, you'll have to wait till the book comes out." She turned to Hermione.
Hermione closed her eyes and took a deep breath. "I'm afraid I'm a bit short on galleons at the moment, Rita," she said. "I may have mentioned hiding in the woods. But I'll be good for it in a few months.
Rita's smile worryingly didn't falter: "Well…perhaps we can come to another agreement. If you guaranteed me some amnesty for the dirt Miss Prissy has on me, I could consider it a reasonable advance."
Percy raised an eyebrow at Hermione: "Dirt?"
"She's an unregistered animagus. And…if you give me amnesty for how I found that out, we have a deal."
"How did you find it out."
"We don't have to talk about that," she said quickly.
Percy grumbled a bit about disregard for the law, but he had mellowed out a lot over the years. He took the deal. Now, they had the evidence they needed, although Hermione still wasn't sure what she was going to do with the committee Percy had assigned her.
The matter of other magical races was considerably more complicated. The goblins had done well enough for themselves in the war, but there had been deaths, and they didn't give a whole lot of consideration to the internal politics of wizards, so even with the new regime, relations with them were shaping up to be very poor. Probably a solid majority of werewolves were personally culpable for their actions in the battle, let alone the whole war under Greyback, which would make things that much harder for those who weren't. The merpeople were none too happy about them rousing the Leviathan with that ritual. No one had a clue what to do about the Acromantulas, and the giants who were involved were all technically foreign nationals, although she wasn't sure if any foreign government would claim them.
"Percy, what is being done about the giants?" she asked when they came to that.
"I'm not sure yet. I talked to Hagrid, but he doesn't seem to think giants have much in the way of funerary practises." There had been six giants at the battle besides Grawp, and all of them were dead. "We'll probably offer them the bodies, and if they don't want them, we'll probably just cremate them. It's easier than trying to bury them someplace they won't be found by muggles."
Hermione frowned. "I think you should talk to Hagrid again before you make that decision," she said. "But if it won't offend anyone, I'd like to take some tissue samples from the bodies."
Percy stared at her in surprise. "What, you mean for potions ingredients?"
"What? No! I want to get DNA samples!"
She sighed. Wizards knew nothing about this, did they? It was only discovered in the fifties. "DNA is a substance in the body that is responsible for inheritance. Your red hair, for example. All of you Weasleys have red hair because you inherited a certain pattern of DNA from your parents, and that applies to everything about you. The muggles have a process called cloning. It's…" This was going to go badly. "It's sort of like an alchemical process. It's still being developed, but in theory, if you have a sample of any kind of creature's DNA, you can create a copy of them—or of their body, rather. It's like an identical twin grown up from an infant."
Percy gaped at her. "Are you serious? Ugh, of course you're serious. You're you. That's mental! I don't think actual alchemists can do that, and you're saying muggles can?"
"In principle, they can, although in practice, they haven't done it with anything more advanced than a sheep, and that will very low success, but they're improving it all the time."
"Bloody hell! And the giants? What do they have to do with it?"
"Giants are nearly extinct," she said. "Hagrid said there are fewer than a hundred of them left, and it sounds like they're killing each other faster than they're being born. They just lost six more, and attrition and inbreeding will probably wipe them out completely within our lifetimes. But if we get as many DNA samples from them as we can, then maybe if, in twenty or thirty years, we can clone enough of them, we'll be able to save the species. Honestly, I don't know if we can put together a viable breeding population now, but it worked for the California Condor."
Percy continued to stare at her. "You know what, I'm going to let you take charge of that project, Hermione. Talk to Hagrid, and talk to the giants if you need to. If fact, you might make a good choice for a new ambassador."
Hermione gasped: "Oh, no you don't, Percy! You already gave me one job, and I haven't even finished my schooling yet!"
"It would work," he insisted. "The chief of the giants is supposed to be the strongest, and I doubt anyone in this country would challenge you for the title."
She scowled at him: "Don't you have other people to boss around, Minister?"
"Oh, I'm sure I could find someone," he said with a chuckle.
Hermione did had one more stop to make in the Alley that day, but this one she wanted to make in private.
Ollivanders Wand Shop had been boarded up for most of the past two years, ever since old Mr. Ollivander had been kidnapped by Death Eaters. It had been robbed multiple times of portions of its stock, and it had been a burnt-out husk the last time she had been in Diagon Alley. After eighteen months trapped in the dungeons of Malfoy Manor, Hermione wouldn't have been surprised if Ollivander had chosen to retire to some tropical island, but she was heartened to see that today, the door was back on its hinges, and Garrick Ollivander was in there, organising the remaining wands back on the shelves. With him were his son, Gerald, and his grandson, Garrett, who were helping clean and repair the ruined building, along with a woman she guessed from context was Gerald's wife.
They all stopped and looked Hermione's way when she came in the door, and old Mr. Ollivander smiled.
"Bless my soul, Hermione Granger!" he said. He was walking with a cane now, but he hobbled over as fast as he could to shake her hand. "It's so good to see you well again."
"It's good to see you too, Mr. Ollivander," she said.
"I can't thank you enough for rescuing me from that dungeon in January, Miss Granger. I'm terribly sorry about what happened to William that night—and all those we lost hence."
"Thank you. It's…it's been a difficult time."
"As it has for us all. But how can I help you today? Were your wands damaged in the battle?"
She shook her head. "Not in the battle, no, but I did come to ask you about one of them." She pulled out her red oak wand and showed it to him. "You see, this is—"
"My goodness!" he exclaimed. "What have to done to this beautiful wand?" He seized it from her hand and examined it closely. The once-lovely reddish-brown wood carved with a double helix design was now stained ebony-black from butt to tip. It still seemed to work fine, but it worried her, as she had never seen anyone else's wand behave that way. Ollivander looked around and quickly led her into the back room, away from his family. Then, he examined it carefully. "Possibly young Garrett's finest match to date," he said. "Red oak and dragon heartstring, eleven and three-quarter inches, nice and—nice and springy…" He tried to bend it and looked closer in surprise. "It's not as flexible…Miss Granger what is this—this filament stuff? What on earth have you wrapped around it?"
"It's a graphite derivative," she told him. "I put it around both of my wands. It's extremely strong, and I think it's saved them more than once from breaking."
"Hm, I worry that you're not allowing them to bend adequately. Wands can be very sensitive to such things, you know."
"I haven't noticed any change in its function. It's just the colour—"
"Yes, yes, the colour…" He pulled a jeweller's loupe from his pocket and examined it still more closely. "Well, the runes aren't damaged…" He ran his fingers along the shaft. "The core is still healthy…The good news is, it seems to be intact, Miss Granger. But what have you done to it?"
"Mr. Ollivander, this is the wand that slew a dementor."
Ollivander gasped softly and looked down at the wand with renewed reverence.
"And certain other really scary rituals that many people would probably call dark on their face, but were actually designed to cleanse dark magic."
"Merlin's beard…I had heard of your feats, Miss Granger, but slaying a dementor…cleansing dark magic, you say?"
"Yes. Dark magic twisted into something light, you might say, rather than the reverse."
"Aha. That would explain it, then," he said. "It's not unheard of for a dark wizard's wand to undergo changes when long exposed to dark magic. I saw He-Who-Must-Not-Be-Named's wand when I was in captivity—once a handsome yellow wand bleached bone-white. Or a Cursebreaker's wand might suffer damage from the curses it is exposed to. But this is somewhere in between. To manipulate dark magic so intimately, more so than a Cursebreaker—even to twist it to the light, as you say—will change a wand with enough exposure."
That was half-encouraging, Hermione thought. At least she hadn't done anything terribly wrong. "My wand isn't bleached, though," she said. "It almost looks like it's been charred."
"It has—and it hasn't," Ollivander said. "It isn't an effect you could achieve with fire-charring. That would destroy a piece of wood this small. I'm afraid the exposure to the darkest of magics has done damage to it—damage that not just any wand could survive. An apple or pear wand, which abhor dark magic, might have shattered if they tried to do what you've done. But red oak is hardier than most when it comes to dark magic, and as your wand has survived thus far, I believe it's a sort of damage that will make it stronger, on the whole. I suspect it has lost some flexibility—perhaps even some structural strength, and you merely haven't noticed. But the dark magic has caused it to undergo a sort of magical charring that will make it more resistant to magical damage in the future—probably more resistant to fire, water, and rot as well. In fact, I believe I've heard of that technique being used in Japan, but I've never seen it done. I will say this, Miss Granger: if you are planning on performing more feats like the slaying of a dementor, you have one of the finest instruments possible in this wand."
That was a relief and a warning to Hermione, knowing she had probably made her wand better for what she wanted to do, but she would need to be watchful for any cracks or other deeper damage. And she was more sure than ever that her decision not to use her vinewood wand for her rituals was the right one. "Thank you, Mr. Ollivander. I'm glad to hear that," she said, taking her wand back.
"It's my pleasure, Miss Granger. And I look forward to hearing of your exploits in the future."
Three days later, in a fairly nice apartment in the suburbs of Adelaide, Australia, an ex-pat dentist logged onto the BBC News Online. What he saw nearly made him drop his coffee.
"Oh my God! Emma!"
Emma Granger rushed into the room. "Dan! What is it?"
"Look!" He pointed at the screen.
Suspected Terrorists Potter, Granger Exonerated
Real Bomber Killed in Raid in Scotland
The Security Service announced on Wednesday that Harry Potter and Hermione Granger, previously implicated in the Nottingham hospital bombing in January, are in fact innocent of the crimes of which they were accused. The bombing at the University of Nottingham Hospital that killed twenty-two and wounded dozens was actually carried out by a known IRA ringleader named Tom Riddle, who framed Potter and Granger for the act, officials said. It was also announced that Riddle and much of his cell were killed last Friday in a predawn raid in the Scottish Highlands.
Investigators began to suspect that the evidence involving Potter and Granger was fabricated after several more bombings that implicated Riddle directly showed similar patterns. Potter and Granger themselves were also revealed to have been police informants on still more cases involving Riddle, a fact that was either misfiled or buried by IRA agents within MI5 and was only rediscovered later.
Once the truth was uncovered, MI5 reached out to Potter and Granger, and they worked together to determine Riddle's location. Last Friday, they finally located him in a remote hideout at an undisclosed location in Scotland and attacked in a predawn raid. Riddle was killed, and nearly every member of his cell was killed or captured. Only one member escaped, a man named Barty Crouch. Crouch is considered to be a tactical genius and is heavily armed, and he should not be approached.
"The Security Service is indebted to Harry Potter and Hermione Granger for their tireless work in bringing Tom Riddle to justice, even when our agency shamefully turned against them. Their contributions to the final assault will be remembered, and we wish them the best as they rejoin civilian life," said MI5 Director General Sir Stephen Lander.
Tom Riddle was believed to be the last holdout from the IRA who did not sign the Good Friday Agreement last month.
"Oh my God," Emma breathed. "Hermione's alive. Riddle—that's him, isn't it? The dark wizard?"
"It must be," Dan said. "I think…I think the war's over."
"We can go back?" she said with tears in her eyes.
He considered that for a moment. "We still have that contact for the Australian Ministry for Magic. I think we should check with them just in case, but then? Yes, we can go home. We can see our daughter again."
Hermione cried as she hugged her parents. She almost couldn't believe they were back. They'd returned sooner than she'd expected, having been given a priority international Portkey direct from Sydney on Saturday morning. She barely knew what to say to them, so much had happened in the past sixteen months, and a lot of that first conversation was a blur to her. She only remembered some of the highlights.
"I've killed people," she said.
Mum and Dad didn't let go of her. "We knew that was probably going to happen, the way you were talking," Dad said. "And we know you didn't really blow up that hospital."
"I made mistakes, though," she said. "Mistakes that got good people killed." The hospital was the worst one.
"That comes with the territory," he said comfortingly. "You can't be perfect. I've never been a soldier, but I know enough to know there will be regrets. The important thing is that you tried your best."
"I did a couple of things that probably overstepped the Hague Conventions."
Dad pulled back far enough to look her in the eye, his eyebrows raised.
"Magical Britain isn't a signatory to them, and they definitely deserved it…And magic in general doesn't exactly fit into the neat boxes of the muggle laws of war," she babbled. "But…it's made me a bit afraid of my own temper."
Mum and Dad pulled her into another hug. "The fact that you are a little afraid is good thing," Mum said. "It means you're still a good person at heart. And you know we still love you no matter what you did."
"I got engaged."
Mum wasn't angry. In fact, she was beside herself with excitement. And Dad just gave her a knowing smile like he'd expected it the whole time. They congratulated her and George and greeted the rest of the Weasleys warmly. And thankfully, they didn't ask too many questions about Harry and Ginny, although they were a bit unsettled by them getting engaged at seventeen and sixteen.
The one difficulty was figuring out where to put them. "I wasn't expecting you back so soon," Hermione told them. "I've just been staying with the Weasleys since the battle."
"I'm sure we can find a flat," Mum said.
She shrugged: "Your practice is closed down. There's still a few Death Eaters out there who won't be happy you're alive. And the Burrow was destroyed, so we've been staying at the manor Molly inherited from her aunt. It might be easier to put you up with there until I make enough money to buy you a new house."
"Buy us a new—? Hermione, you don't need to buy us a house!" Mum said.
"It was my idea to burn down our old one," she said. That still sounded insane to say out loud. "Besides, world renowned jeweller? Or starting to be, anyway. I've got quite the backlog of orders, being on the run for the past year. It won't take long to make a down payment."
Mum and Dad looked at each other. "I'm not sure what kind of world we've fallen into when our eighteen-year-old daughter casually offers to buy us a house before she's finished school," Dad said.
"I suppose we could stay together for the summer if the Weasleys don't mind," Mum suggested. "It's been so long since we've been able to spend time with you."
"I'm sure they'll love to have you," Hermione said. "And it's no trouble. It's a big, old house…Honestly, I'm not sure what we're going to do with it once everything's settled."
What the Weasleys would ultimately do with Prewett Manor had been the elephant in the room for the past week. Arthur and Molly weren't the type to want a stuffy manor house. The Burrow might have been a bit crowded, but it was a home. Besides, they still owned the land where it stood, and they were sure to want the open space for their grandchildren to play Quidditch someday. Ron said they mostly thought Muriel was too stubborn to die for another forty years, so they didn't have to worry about it, but now, that had changed.
Fleur, Charlie, and the twins all had their own places, although she and George hadn't talked about what they would do after they got married yet. Ginny and Harry had Grimmauld Place if they wanted it. Ron and Percy were the only ones who might really want the manor—though if they didn't, maybe Hermione's own parents would be interested, she thought idly.
In any case, Molly and Arthur were happy to have her parents join them at Prewett Manor, and they were soon moved into one of the spare bedrooms. There were a lot of tears and horrified exclamations as Hermione told her story over the next few days. She couldn't very well hide her scars or cover up what happened to her in Malfoy Manor. When she told that, she thought for a minute that her parents would order her to go back to Australia with them, despite the fact that the war was over. But with time and not a little pain, they came to terms with it—not that they entirely approved of her own activities on the run, either.
"I haven't fully unpacked myself yet," Hermione told them the night they arrived as she helped them get settled in.
Dad gave her a puzzled look. "Unpacked? Didn't you say you were living in the woods for three months? What do you have to unpack?"
She smirked wearily. "You should see the clutter I've built up in my Mary Poppins handbag, Dad, even after I had to replace it. I've still got a lot of stuff in there that I need to dispose of safely."
"Dispose of safely?" Dad said. "What do you mean?"
She rolled her eyes. "I need to empty it out sooner or later. Come to my room, and I'll show you."
Mum and Dad both followed to her room, where she set her handbag on the floor and began pulling her supplies out of it. "I've got some manna."
"Manna?" said Mum.
"Completely synthetic foodstuffs. Made by rearranging the atoms in wood and dirt—with a few clever alchemical tricks. Perfectly nutritionally balanced and eight hundred calories per brick. Here, try some."
She tossed a block of manna to them, and they each took a bite. "Wow. It actually tastes like cakes made with honey," Mum said flatly.
"Of course. I worked hard on those flavour molecules. Anyway, I've still got about a week's worth in here. Then there's…let's see…lots of notes, of course. And blocks carved with runes for half-conceived rituals. I'll have to cut those apart so they don't have any magical interactions. Rune-carving tools. Magic-enhanced guns—Say, do you know if the Firearms Act specifies the method of propulsion for guns? Like, does it apply to air guns and stuff?"
"I…don't know offhand, but I'd think it does," Dad said.
"Well, this thing's illegal as hell, then."
"Hermione!" Mum scolded.
"Sorry, Mum. Being in a war, I've picked up some habits. Anyway, other weapons. You've seen Snickersnack, of course. Er…explosives. C-4, C-4, more C-4. Why did I make so much C-4?" she asked as she piled an alarming amount of plastic explosive on the floor like building blocks.
She shrugged as if it weren't a big deal. "I was getting desperate. Anyway, hand grenades. Smoke grenade, tear gas, knockout gas, flashbang even though I didn't need it."
"What's this one?" Dad picked up one she hadn't identified.
"Don't worry. I didn't use it." Though I might have if Bellatrix had given me the chance. "And I can decompose the molecules and make it safe. I just went a little crazy toward the end, throwing together anything I thought might be remotely useful."
"You…you weren't kidding about the Hague Convention thing, were you?" he said faintly.
"It wasn't as bad as you're probably thinking right now, Dad…But I admit I tested an awful lot of stuff. Like this one: chlorine trifluoride. Nasty stuff. It burns anything. Chews through sand like sawdust. And some sulfuric acid. I've got some rocket fuel here. And then there's my older stuff. My complete collection of elements leeched from the soil." She pulled a box with many chambers with small blocks of metals of various size in it.
A flash of worry came over Dad's face, and he grew stern, standing over her. "Hermione, if you built a nuclear weapon—"
"No, I never found any rich enough uranium deposits," she said casually.
Her parents looked at her in horror, but after a minute, she started to laugh. "You should see your faces! It was just a joke. Honestly, what would I ever need a nuke for?"
"Hermione!" Mum exclaimed.
"And I wouldn't. If there's one thing both of our worlds don't need, it's magical nukes."
"Honestly, Hermione, that's not the kind of thing you joke about," she said.
"George would beg to disagree," she said, "and I think I'm on his side. The way things have been lately, if you can't take it easy and laugh about these kinds of things, you'll break down sooner or later. I'm sorry if my activities scare you. They scare me a bit too after the fact, but it was war, and I did what I had to."
Mum sighed tearfully and pulled her to her feet to give her a hug. "We never wanted this kind of life for you, Hermione," she said.
"I know, Mum. Neither did I. But it's over now. Voldemort's gone for good. Britain is finally safe. I can go back and finish school, get my mastery, get married, and…just live a normal life."
Mum chuckled: "Hermione Jean Granger, if there is one thing you'll never be, it's 'normal.'"
Dad laid a hand on her shoulder. "You know we'll love you no matter what you end up doing," he said. "And we're so proud of you for stepping up the way you did, no matter how frightening it was for us…There's just one thing we need to make clear right now, young lady."
"What?" she asked.
"If you become a Third World arms dealer, we are not bailing you out."
She laughed loudly at that, and even Mum couldn't hold back. It was good to be a real family again. "I love you too," she said.
It was about a week after the Grangers moved in that Hermione failed to come down for dinner. Fearing that she might have fallen back into her old habits and was forgetting to eat again, George ran upstairs to make sure she was okay. When he saw her, his jaw dropped.
"Merlin's beard! Guys! You're gonna want to see this!" he called down the stairs.
A minute later, half the Weasley family and the Grangers were crowded around Hermione's door, staring at the sight. Hermione was wearing a loose, black robe that billowed around her…and she was floating in midair.
"I am such an idiot," she said.
"You…you figured out Voldemort's flight spell?" Harry said in shock.
"No. That's the beauty of it," she said. "Voldemort didn't have a flight spell. He just wanted us to think he did—something he could do better than I could. Like I said from the start, it was just to look scary."
"Then how was he flying—how are you flying?" Harry asked.
"I didn't tell anyone, but I scanned Voldemort's body before we cremated him, just in case there was a clue, and there was," she said. "Voldemort was wearing a robe made from a flying carpet."
Several of the Weasleys slapped their foreheads. "Ugh, it's so obvious!" Ginny said.
"We never would have thought of it because flying carpets are embargoed in Britain," Percy said. "I hate to say it, but that was really brilliant of him."
"So this is the project you've been working on all week?" George asked. "Copying his trick?"
"Uh huh. But, er, would you mind not telling anyone else it's a trick? It would ruin the mystique."
Her fiance grinned at her: "Well, who are we to say no to Lady Archimedes?"