Disclaimer: The following characters belong to their respective companies.
A/N: I think other than the fact that Takeshi Kaneshiro is one of my most favorite Asian actors of all time, Zhuge Liang the historical figure had always piqued my interest. I did spend several years teaching back and forth on him and his writings, even if it's just in passing.
Hermione stood beside her grave. She did not regret her death, nor did she regret any of the actions she took that may have led up to it. But there had been some things that quite surprised her.
The first thing that surprised her, had been that offer Death, whoever or whatever was in that cloaked figure offered her. Basically, the man, if she can call it that, offered her a "job" that gets her the perks (unlimited money to purchase whatever she may want in the living realm), a nice home in a realm discrete from both time and space, a library of books containing a variety of obscure, rare books, some dating as far back as the beginning of mankind's writing and others from a time when mankind have decided to move to different planets for survival. She will have the knowledge of ages as she sees the experience of mankind in its best and in its worst. She can either accept this job of ferrying the dead or she can move on to the other life. She had been concerned about the lack of companionship that might slowly whittle her into insanity, seeing that she was already starting to feel the pangs of loneliness in the short span of time since she'd died, but Death had been quick to assure her that she can mingle with mortals, albeit in disguise if she is not ferrying them. Also, her soul will call out to its anima gemella or its other half, that she will be drawn to that person and accompany him or her until his or her death and she can offer that person to accompany her in her journey. Anyone else would not be a perfect fit or synch. She was given some time to accept this offer but meanwhile she sat on her grave, a morbid fascination or attraction she still couldn't understand or shake off.
She had already seen her family, Monica and Wendell Wilkins. They were perfectly happy in Australia, unaware of her death. Harry and the Weasleys are in mourning, for the death of their own son Fred, and even her own death. The second thing that surprised her in death came in the form of the newly elected Minister for Magic, Kingsley Shacklebolt. She barely had any interaction with the man, except for conversations about Arithmancy, muggle technology (he needed it for his part time as secretary for the PM), and theories, both magical and even on the events leading or going on during the second wizardry war. Thus, she had been surprised to see him crying in front of her grave. Sobbing like someone close to him died. He told her that he never thought she'd go before him, that she'd die during the war because she was meant for so much more. She was supposed to have a long happy successful life because she's Hermione Granger. He begged for her forgiveness for falling in love with her when he is already 32 and she is just an 18 year old girl, but he'd never seen her as a girl. He fought the feeling, not wanting her to know because of the impropriety of his affections. Now, he could never tell her.
Hermione didn't know what to feel or what to say. She didn't even know how she would react if she found out about it when she was alive. She didn't find his affection repulsive at all. She may not have feelings for him, but she realized that in her life, he came closest to understanding her. But she knew, that like her feelings for Ron, it was not meant to be, they were not meant to be by fates. It was just a feeling but she knew that soul mates rarely meet, even if everyone has a half to their soul. She wasn't looking for a lover; she is after all just an 18 year old girl who lived a fairly sheltered life. What she needed more was someone to just talk to.
In the end, curiosity won over, Hermione decided that perhaps being Death may not be so bad. To think that Death is an evil that humanity is plagued of is wrong because she knew well enough that death leads to progress and even the advancement of civilization and humanity, even if it does go through a cyclical process of hardships and discord. At her resolve, Death mentioned that this had been his reason for choosing her, her ideals and her determination. As soon as she agreed to take on the role as the Angel of Death, the cloaked figure leant forward and kissed her forehead as she felt warmth and darkness engulf her.
AD 181 Lang Ya Guo, Yang Du County
How Hermione knew where she was and what year she was in a surprise in itself. She also knew, with her usage of the time turner that time is not something that happens in a straight line. But why she was assigned to be in this time period is a no brainer. These times were, even with her limited understanding of history, a tumultuous time period.
All she knew at this point is that Hogwarts had not yet been built and that China, the country she found herself in is in turmoil. A woman screamed in a small poor cottage, crying out in pain. 'Am I supposed to carry on her soul to the other life?' Hermione asked herself. But the feeling of pull she instinctively knew she was supposed to feel when she is supposed to cross over a soul wasn't there, yet. She saw that there were no one around, except for three small children who looked at their mother in worry, unsure of what to do. Hermione didn't know what to do except to help, seeing that she didn't feel the need to pull this young mother to the grave.
She read enough about sterilization, and relaxing a mother to help, at least minimally to allow her to give birth. She asked the eldest boy to boil water. She then asked the girls to get clean cloths, and if they can't find any, to wash rags and give it to her. She assisted the young mother to a bed. After a few hours of labor, the mother gave birth. The father arrived just in time to see the birth of his son.
Hermione smiled and looked at the boy happily. This had been her first time to see birth. She cleaned the boy, before handing him to his father. Before she left, she kissed the boy on his forehead. She could swear she distinctly saw a dimple on his right cheek.
She really have to check out her home and her library. See what she can do about her living conditions. She stepped into her realm thinking about taking up a hobby. 'Maybe music, I can learn a musical instrument.' She thought to herself as she stepped in front of her new home.
AD 182 Lang Ya Guo, Yang Du County
She had already crossed over a number of souls in the matter of two years of her job. Some she crossed directly, most she tasked on her "angels" as she calls the winged statues that come to life to do her bidding. She walked once more into the cottage she first went in upon her arrival to this era. She looked at the children huddled together grieving for a mother she helped gave birth some time ago.
She extended her hand to the woman, who instantly recognized her. She didn't see fear in her eyes, unlike many of those whom she crossed over. There was resignation, an understanding that her life is only up to that point. Instead, she was worried for her children and for her newborn son. Hermione really didn't know what her children's fate would be, but she comforts the woman nevertheless, telling her that everything would be okay.
After the helped the mother cross-over, the child tugged at her robes. This was the child she helped the woman gave birth to. "Will my mother be fine in the afterlife?" The child asked. Hermione knew that despite the fact that Death does not determine where a soul goes she knew that somehow the woman led a blameless life and would probably not suffer in the other realm. Still, to assure him would be to lie and she couldn't do that. Instead, she kissed three-year-old's forehead before leaving without a word.
AD 188 Lang Ya Guo, Yang Du County
"Zhuge Gui, your time is up." Hermione said sadly. This had been the husband of the woman whom she helped gave birth to when she first arrived. She knew that this meant their kids would be orphaned. The man did not say a word but nodded his head in understanding as she led him to the other side. This time it had been Hermione who asked, "How will your children fare?" Zhuge Gui just nodded his head. "My brother will take care of them, raise them as his own." He answered before sadly walking across to the other side.
She couldn't help herself but visit the boy. She stood some distance away from his home, she saw the young boy, between his siblings hiding from sight as Cao Cao's soldiers pillaged their village and killed those who tried to fight back or those who didn't want to leave their homes. She cringed as the children watched Cao Cao's troops kill, rape and maim. Zhuge Liang, as the boy came to be called saw her and started crying, he had been silent before, unlike his siblings. She teleported to him and he walked some while back from his siblings. "Your father said your uncle will take care of you." She whispered. She kissed his forehead and took the boy in her arms as he sobbed.
Spring AD 197 Jing Zhuo
Zhuge Liang watched her warily after she cross-over his uncle. She had often wondered why he can see her when most of the living can't. Sometimes, some ghosts with such ties and attachments to the living realm can't even see her. She thought that their ties came from the fact that she helped his mother give birth to him. But even before then, she was drawn to him. She couldn't understand and now, she can't even understand why she's affected by his wariness.
"You haven't changed." He said finally. "You know." She asked. He nodded. "My uncle had been of ill health for months. This is one of those cases where death is merciful." He answered. Hermione nodded. "Aren't you forgetting to kiss my forehead?" asked the 17-year-old Zhuge Liang mischievously, a small dimple appearing on his right cheek. Before Hermione could react, Zhuge Liang tugged on her robes and kissed her forehead.
Suddenly, Hermione felt solid and very visible. She looked around in confusion and frowned at the boy. "What have you done?" She asked in panic. She noted that people now see her. She pulled at her veil to cover her face and grabbed the impertinent boy with her to the nearest reflective surface. Her face wasn't hers anymore, but that of an adolescent beautiful Chinese girl. Huang Chengyan, whom Zhuge Liang could swear was childless before this called out to her. "Yue Ying!" He shouted. Hermione was dumb founded and looked at Zhuge Liang in worry. The boy shrugged.
"Your mother had been asking where you've been." Chengyan asked the girl, he then looked at Hermione's hands still entwined with Zhuge Liang's. "Is he your suitor, daughter?" Hermione was still in too much shock to reply but Zhuge Liang had been quick to answer. "Yes, I wish to ask for your daughter's hand in marriage." Chengyan nodded and told the boy that he would be contacting his older brother for arrangements. He then bid his daughter to come home with him. Zhuge Liang nodded at Hermione, who have already gained her wits and gave the boy a painful kick on his left shin. He held on to his shin. "Just play along, it would be better if you were in my protection." He said as he half whimpered in pain.
"This is all your fault!" She hissed at him before she left with her "father".
Summer AD 197 Long Zhong
"I had to undergo some sort of virginity test by that matchmaker. They actually checked me down there. My "mother" held me down. She was so strong." Hermione said in an outraged tone. Zhuge Liang cocked his head at that. "It's not done in the world of the dead?" He asked. "I wasn't born in the world of the dead. I was born almost two thousand years from now. No, women are not treated like that in my time. Or at least not from where I was born." She replied in irritation. Zhuge Liang was smiling at her mischievously. Hermione scowled at him and placed a pillow between them as they lay side by side on the bed. "Did you know that Huang Yueying, whoever she is, is just 14 years old?" She asked her "husband". Zhuge Liang nodded. "Yes, I heard that. But I swear just before I kissed your forehead, Chengyan and his wife didn't have any children." He replied. "What if something bad happens to the balance of the universe because of what you did?" Hermione asked him worriedly. Zhuge Liang did not give an answer to that and instead turned out the lamps. "You touch me, I'll kill you." Hermione said to gritted teeth.
Zhuge Liang laughed at that and kissed her forehead before she could do anything. "There, I've kissed you again. I can die a happy death." He replied. "I'm really concerned about how this happened. Even in Death, things have some sort of order. A body can't just pop out of nowhere." Hermione said. Zhuge Liang sleepily mussed her hair which had her swatting his hand away.
Hermione would wake up sometime at dawn with her "husband" using her as some sort of bolster pillow, limbs tangled and his face nuzzling her neck. She gave him a good kick before realizing that somehow time she was back in her duties as the Death.
· Age in China is counted from conception, thus a one year old child to the Western culture is only 2 years of age