"You needn't worry about the light," said Henrietta with a tired sigh. "It's just light. It won't burn you." She closed her hand over the orb of light, crushing it and dispelling the effect. "Now, if you would let me, could I dry off Hermione?"
The two elder Grangers looked to each other, a silent conversation happening between them. When they finished, the mother spoke, "What are you going to do to our daughter?" Suspicion was evident.
Sighing, Henrietta said, "Just a little spell to dry her off. It won't hurt or anything."
After another silent conversation, they allowed Henrietta to work her magic, but it was obvious that they were still suspicious of the strange magical girl. Henrietta called for Hermione to step forwards, and after a tense minute between the parent, the girl did so, standing a few feet away from the Heir of Slytherin. She looked uncomfortable, and a bit unsure, but Henrietta tried her best to placate the girl with a friendly smile.
"Just stand still, Miss Granger," she said, waving her hands over the girls soaking clothes in long sweeping motions. With barely a whisper, she intoned the incantation for the evaporation charm, "Expiraqua."
At once, Hermione's clothes steamed as the water evaporated, drying out completely. The three Grangers flinched at the effect, the two elders making a move to defend their child from non-existent dangers. Meanwhile, Henrietta tried her best to ignore them and puffed out her chest pridefully – something Salazar had tried his best to dissuade her from doing. 'It is normal to be prideful of ones work,' he had said, 'but to show off could alienate possible allies.'
"It's all dry!" Hermione exclaimed in awe, once the initial shock wore off.
"Of course it is! Now, follow me, there is someone you should meet." Henrietta began walking off towards the Snake Pit, only throwing a cursory glance behind her to see if the family were following or not. Of course, they stayed rooted to the lakeshore. With a disgruntled sigh, she beckoned them forwards, "Come on! I promise that you'll be safe!"
The Granger elders gave each other an odd look, this time whispering quietly and fervently under their breaths, discussing whether or not they should follow the strange little girl in the woods. Eventually, they decided that it would be in their best interest to follow the child – as they truly did not know the mage's potential – and for their own spawn as, according to Henrietta, she too was a mage.
Following closely behind, the three tailed Henrietta as she traversed the forest, demonstrating an amazing familiarity with the woods. But it was about three-quarters of the way there when they encountered their first, relatively minor, snag.
"I… I think I left the oven on," Ian said suddenly, stopping in his tracks.
Jean nodded along. "Yeah, the oven. I think we might have…"
Henrietta stood confused for a moment, watching as the two turned around and began walking off into the forest. That was when she realised. "Wait," she called, stopping the adults in their tracks.
Ian gave her a pitying look, "Listen, I know we-"
"It's a muggle-repelling ward," retorted Henrietta bluntly.
Ian and Jean paused, confused by the words she was using. "I… ah… what-repelling what?" Jean asked.
"A muggle-repelling ward," reiterated Henrietta, "It's so people like you can't stumble upon the Pit."
"The Pit?" Hermione question while the adults were still wondering about the so-called 'muggle-repelling ward'.
"My home," the mage shrugged in reply, before turning to the adults, "These wards compel muggles, people like you, to think of an excuse of why they should leave. Now, grab my hands"
The two adults' eyes widened in horror for some unfathomable reason, but Henrietta ignored them, latching onto their limp hands and pulled. Despite the adults, urgers to be anywhere but here, the two did not fight back, allowing Henrietta to guide them through the so-called ward. Of course, it would be much more dangerous to resist the girl, someone who could create orbs of light with a single word and could possibly force them to obey her commands with similar magicks that were compelling them to leave. Whatever the reason, they did not let go of Henrietta's hands until they arrived at a small clearing.
A hiss drew their attention of Henrietta and her compatriots, which soon revealed itself to be an elderly looking snake who stared at the group curiously before looking to Henrietta and hissing once again. "Ah, young lady, you have returned with guests?"
"…Is that a snake?" Ian asked, backing away slowly.
"Don't worry, she won't bite," said Henrietta, walking over to pick up the elderly snake, pointedly trying to not talk to the snake. She did not wish to reveal too much to the family, not until she got Salazar's word. Realising that she could not, realistically, tell the family to just stand in the clearing while she conversed with her carer, she decided to get someone to watch them. "Balor!" she called.
Without pause, the House-Elf appeared, startling the family with the loud pop it made. "Little Lady," he bowed upon arrival.
"What is that!?" shouted the two Grangers in unison, contrasting their child's curiosity and awe.
"A House-Elf," Henrietta answered simply, turning to regard the little elf. "Balor, if you could keep these three busy while I tell… him about our guests? Do not answer any of their questions, just make sure they stay here."
The House-Elf nodded furiously as he turned and, rather redundantly, relayed the information back to the Grangers. While this was happening, Henrietta quickly opened the passageway to the Snake Pit, slipping in before the Grangers would ask too many questions.
Descending the staircase, she called for her guardian. "Salazar! Salazar!"
"What is it, little one?" the painting replied, walking into a nearby picture frame.
"I found another mage!" she all but shouted.
Salazar was stunned by the revelation, just as Henrietta hoped. "You… have?" he asked.
Henrietta nodded her head in a similar fashion to Balor. " She's a muggle-born! She's around my age! I saw her apparate!" she continued. "She fell into the water then apparated out, then her parent came over but they knew nothing of magic!"
Salazar's shocked countenance soon became serious. "Where is she now?"
"They're outside the Pit, Balor is distracting them."
Salazar steepled his fingers and began staring off into space. He sat like this for a few seconds before asking, "What do they know of magic?"
"Nothing, the mum and dad were concerned and suspicious," Henrietta said, looking quite put out.
The portrait sighed, "You should have come to me about this first, but I can understand why you didn't. Go, bring them in."
Nodding, Henrietta raced back up the stairs and opened the passageway once again. The scene she met was not what she left as the Grangers seemed to have calmed down somewhat and were talking with the House-Elf, asking a variety of questions ranging from asking about what, exactly, is a House-Elf to questioning the safety of the Snake Pit. Not that he answered them.
"He'll see you now," said Henrietta, gesturing for the family to enter. They nodded mutely while Balor vanished with another pot, startling the family once more. With Henrietta guiding them, the Grangers soon arrived in the main hall, looking around awestruck by everything. Hermione looked particularly eager to get her hands on one of the books.
"You must be the Grangers," Salazar said bluntly, watching bemused, as the family jumped at the unexpected voice.
"The painting can talk…" mumbled Ian breathlessly.
"I'd assume so, however, if I make any mistakes with my pronunciations or what have you, I do apologise. Learning the Queen's English is difficult with only a child, if a verbose one, to teach you," he said slowly and methodically, despite the fact that he spoke English extremely well.
Henrietta nodded at that. It had been quite the surprise to learn that Slytherin had been speaking parseltongue during their first meeting. Quite the surprise to himself for slipping into it without noticing either. They soon learned that the only language they could both understand was the language of snakes as the English language had changed considerably over the thousand years. As soon as it was discovered, however, Salazar decided to learn the language and use it exclusively as it would not due to be inept with the common tongue.
"Though not as hard as teaching the older tongues to my ward, here," he continued. "But enough of that; I am… Anguis. It is with great honour that I introduce you to me, and my wards, humble abode."
Henrietta could not help but snort at his choice of pseudonym, but otherwise allowed the Grangers to introduce themselves. "I'm Ian Granger," said Ian, "and this is my wife Jean, and my daughter-"
"Hermione Granger, the muggle-born," 'Anguis' supplied.
"As you might have figured out, your daughter and my ward, Lady Henrietta Potter, have quite a lot in common," he continued, "that being the ability to manipulate reality to their whims."
"Yes… magic. Ah… what do you want from us?" asked Jean, confused.
Salazar paused in thought, stroking his beard as he looked between the muggles and magi. After a moment of intense thought, he said, "Nothing too extraneous…" He paused again, reconsidering. "Well, depending on your temperament. You've learned that your daughter it a mage, yet you still protect her?"
"We wouldn't treat our daughter any differently," replied Ian hotly, offended by the implications of his words.
Nodding, Salazar continued, "Good, because I would not be pleased if you decided against that. You see, magic has a strange relation to the mental state of those with it. Neglect does not bode well for those with this power or those around them."
"What are you talking about?"
"If you look after your daughter, then you won't have to worry," he said dismissively. "We can discuss this later, for now, I wish to discuss something. Lady Potter has not left this forest for several years, ever since her family abandoned her" at that, both the Grangers took in a quick intake of air, their eyes narrowing slightly, "so we are both woefully uneducated in the workings of the modern world. I want you two to take Lady Potter so she may learn more about the modern world. In return, she will cultivate young Hermione's potential."
"I… what?" Ian said intelligently. "You want us to look after Henrietta?"
"Precisely. Your daughter will benefit from this as much as Henrietta will," the painting replied.
The elder Grangers gaped for a moment before Jean spoke up, "You do know what you are asking of us, right?"
"If I did not, then I would not have bothered," retorted Salazar. "Already this is a great extension of trust."
"We will need to think on this," Jean continued.
"Take as much time as you will like. Henrietta really has nowhere else to go. However, I must implore you to stay here or within the proximity to the Snake Pit or the Muggle-Repelling charm will take effect."
"Do you have somewhere we can discuss this privately?" Ian asked.
"Of course! Balor," Salazar called, and with a pop, the House-Elf appeared. "take them to the dining room."
It was about an hour wait before the Grangers returned, the adults looking tired while Henrietta looked excited. Henrietta need not be a legilimens to see what their decision was. "After some thought, we have decided to open our house to you, Henrietta," Ian said, looking quite mentally exhausted.
"Good, good, I thank you for this," Salazar said sincerely, "It's been quite difficult to look after her with only verbal commands and Balor's help. Henrietta?"
"I thank you for allowing me into your homes," the mage replied calmly, not betraying the excited feeling that welled within her gut.
"Does she need to pack or something?" Jean asked, looking as tired as her husband but forcing a smile.
Salazar shook his head. "No, she is free to leave now. Balor will pack and deliver her stuff."
"Well, that makes it easier…" Ian mumbled. "Is there anything we need to know or anything?"
"Nothing at all, she's just a normal child without any issues that I know of," he replied.
"Then I guess we'll set off then."
Salazar nodded, turning to Henrietta. "Go along with them, I will instruct Balor to pack for you." With an excited squeal, Henrietta jumped into the air, professing her thanks to Salazar over and over again. The painting tried not to appear touched by the child's antics, but he could not help the smile that came to his face.
After a long goodbye, the Grangers plus one left the Snake Pit, beginning their journey to their car. However, it was only halfway to their vehicle when Henrietta suddenly stopped in her tracks, an expression of surprise marring her face.
"Is everything okay?" Jean asked, curious as to why the mage stopped.
"Mara!" Henrietta shouted, looking stricken. "She doesn't know I'm leaving!"
Ian raised a worried eyebrow. "Who's Mara? Another… girl?"
"She's a snake," Henrietta replied casually before calling out to the forest. "Balor!"
A loud pop heralded the arrival of the House Elf who caused the Grangers' to jump in fright once again. "What does Mistress Potter desire of Balor?"
"When Mara returns from hunting, can you please bring her to me?" she asked.
The House-Elf nodded fiercely, its floppy ears flapping like the wings of a bat. "Balor shall bring the symbol of Salazar to you, Mistress. Shall Balor bring the symbol with Mistress' belongings?"
"Yes, Balor," said Henrietta. "And thank you."
"Mistress is too kind." With that, the House Elf disappeared with another pop.
"I am never going to get over that." Ian shivered, renewing the walk once again. Only to stop when Hermione asked, "Will I learn to teleport?"
Ian was the first to reply with a quick, "You most certainly will not."
"Why not?" Henrietta asked innocently.
"She's just eight years old!"
"I learned when I was seven. Age shouldn't matter." Though, Salazar did tell me that I should not be able to teleport where I can see.
Unfortunately, the Grangers continued to shoot down that idea, saying that teleportation could come when she gets older. After that little interruption, the quartet continued their way through the forest until they arrived at one of the few pieces of modern civilization that touched the forest… the carpark where the Grangers sleek black car sat silently amongst the wildlife. She knew not what kind of car it was, as she did remember that there were different forms, but it was big enough to seat four people comfortably as well as camping supplies.
However, before they could all pile in, Ian stopped Henrietta. "Uh, Henrietta…" he said, looking between the girl and his car, "you can't take the stick with you, it's too big to fit."
Smiling, Henrietta held out her staff and intoned, "Reducio,". The effect was immediate as a faint purple glow overtook the object and it shrunk dramatically until it was only as long as her forearm. Silently, she cheered. Finally! It worked!
Ian and Jean just stared as Hermione fawned over the stick. With a sigh, Ian gestured petulantly for the two children to get into the car.
Soon, the car rumbled to life as Ian Granger took to the wheel. As they left the national park and sped down the road, Jean decided to question their guest, "So, Henrietta, how did you wind up with… the painting? Er... Anguis?"
Henrietta cocked her head, pondering on how much information she should let the muggles know. Eventually, she decided that, if she wanted them to trust her enough to train and spend time with Hermione, she would need to let them know. Her face darkened as she told them, "When I was four, I ran away from my… family." she spat venomously, "Mara brought me to the Pit and I met him."
Jean's expression twisted into one of worry as she regarded the young Magi, "You ran away? Why?"
"It's unlikely that my aunt and uncle would have wanted me to stay after their precious son got hurt."
The two adults looked to each other, an unheard conversation between each other, before Ian spoke up, "I'm sure you're exaggerating. I'm sure they're worried sick"
Henrietta scoffed. "So how many times have you called your daughter a Freak."
"What?" all but shouted Jean.
Ignoring the question, she continued. "Should I assume that she also lives in a cupboard?"
"I'm just asking if Hermione had the same childhood as I," she retorted.
Jean was at a loss for words, so Ian continued. "You lived in a… a cupboard, and they called you a 'freak'?"
"That, and they also called me 'Girl,'" Henrietta said off-handily.
"Did these people… hurt you?" Ian asked tentatively.
"Hurt me?" She echoed thoughtfully, "No, not really. I mean, Dudley would punch me and hurt me, but my aunt and uncle wouldn't… hurt me. I did get hit in the back of the head, but it was rare and only when I did something very bad."
"I'm sorry for bringing it up." Everyone stopped speaking for a while, letting the rumble of the car's engine take over. The atmosphere was dull and melancholic as the elder Grangers split themselves between thinking and driving. Henrietta, ever the sharp one, understood what was said and looked to Henrietta sadly, mumbling a small apology which the mage accepted silently.
However, after an extended period of time, more or less an hour, the silence was broken by a good-natured question from Hermione. "What's your favourite book?" she asked out of the blue. A sigh could be heard from the front half of the car.
"Um, excuse me?" asked Henrietta.
"Hermione is quite the bookworm," Jean supplied.
"Um, I don't know," Henrietta replied honestly. "I've read a few books on magic and history, and I like them. Salazar's grimoire is quite interesting, though he told me I am not allowed to learn battle-magic... yet. Apparently, the Suffocation Curse is too old for me."
A strangled cough could be heard from the front of the car.
"No, I mean storybooks," Hermione answered, looking only a bit nervous at the mage's comment.
"Hmm… I don't have many," Henrietta said thoughtfully. "I did like Paphnutius. It was a fun little play, even have a translated version of it back at the Snake Pit."
"I've never heard of Pa-fa-nuits?" the muggleborn said, trying to pronounce the unfamiliar word.
"Paphnutius," she corrected, "It was written long ago, so I can understand why you haven't read it. What about you?"
"I like Matilda and Mrs Dalloway."
"I've never read them."
"You haven't!?" Hermione shrieked, causing the other three to cringe at the sound. A quick chide from her mother and an apology later, she continued, "What about Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, or The Lorax, or-or..."
"Mum!" Hermione cried. "Henrietta hasn't read any new books! We need to get her some."
Another sigh graced the lips of Jean Granger as she said, "Hermione, please wait until we get home. You have books there."
"But Mum! Please, please, please, please, please! You promised that we could buy a book on our way home, could we please buy something for Henrietta!" What followed was a loud and long back and forth between Hermione and her parents. It lasted for about a minute, not that Henrietta was keeping count, but eventually, the adults relented to their child's wish when she began to tear up. Throughout the entire event, Henrietta had watched curiously, part of her unable to understand what was going on; comparatively, Dudley would have gotten his wish after the second 'please'.
They continued driving, passing fields, farms, and a town or two. Henrietta had been getting a bit sleepy as the car drove along, but before she could succumb to sleep, Ian Granger pulled into a car park inside a town whose name she did not know. Looking around wildly to get some sense of what was going on, she found that they were outside a string of shops, some of which consists of a deli, a clothes shops, a bakery and finally a bookshop.
"Come on, kids, let's buy some books," said Ian, unbuckling his seatbelt, and left the vehicle.
An excited squeal from Hermione, who practically lunged out of the car, later, and the Grangers' plus one exited the car and followed Ian as he headed towards the bookstore. Inside, Henrietta could not help but feel the same excitement that the other Magi was feeling; several books lined bookshelves and display cases with many more books being stacked atop each other. A fairly young man stood at the desk, flicking through a comic book lazily, only sparing a single moment to glance at them.
Before Hermione could drag off Henrietta, though, Ian pulled the Magi off to the side, "Before I let Hermione drag you off, I wanted to ask if you knew anything about magical books or anything like that."
"I don't know, Mr Granger," Henrietta said, "All the books on magic I have at my disposal are from a thousand years prior. And while it might look like a vast well of knowledge, it isn't as large as one might think. Out of all the books that… Anguis owns, only a third are based on actual spells and magical theory. The rest are made up of books on different subjects; some pertaining to magic, but not what you're looking for, and the rest based around the world at the time."
Ian looked at the girl strangely. "You know, you don't talk like a child your age should..."
Henrietta reacted unperturbed by the observation, smiling sweetly. "So I've been told."
Blinking a few times, the elder Granger replied, "...even the talking painting thinks it's weird?"
"That's… worrying." He sighed, before looking around the room. "Anyway, books."
"We could try and ask around for some books on magic," she said, "If we can't find any books on magic written by magical people, we could find some muggle written books based around magic."
"Hm… We could. It's possible that fantasy books could have been based on the real deal… Go run along with Hermione, she looks a bit impatient. I'll deal with the magical… stuff."
With a nod of the head, Henrietta quickly joined Hermione who wasted no time in dragging of the young Magi off to gawk over the books available.
Hermione then spent the next ten to twenty minutes pulling the Magi around the room, looking at books from multiple time periods. It seemed that the girl had an opinion on almost a quarter of the bookstores stock, though this did not stop the girl from keeping a lookout for anything magical or magic related. Unfortunately, they were mostly fantasy books.
Eventually, Henrietta had been prompted by Hermione to choose a book to buy. Of course, she had all the recommended books that the muggle-born had given, but one had caught her eye: Tales of the Cthulhu Mythos. Strangely enough, and in no way did it influence her choice, but Hermione had not read it.
Soon the elder Granger came and swooped up the two Magi to purchase their selections. On top of the book, Henrietta had chosen, Hermione had also picked out Witch Week and Narnia, while Ian had chosen quite a few more, such as The Hobbit, Lord of the Rings trilogy, and a manual for Advanced Dungeons and Dragons. Ian had defended his choice by stating the first two were the forerunners of the genre while the latter was based heavily on magic.
With their purchases in hand, they left back to their car, restarting the drive home. Henrietta did not know how long it would have taken to get to the muggles home as she had fallen asleep as the rumble of the engine lulled her to sleep.
When the quartet arrived at the Grangers' residence, the sun had begun setting, which did not mean much considering that it had been passed noon when they all had met each other. Eventually, they arrived at the house and woke their guest. Exiting the car with sleepy eyes, Hermione lead Henrietta inside.
"Did you have a nice sleep?" Jean asked, packing away a small container that had been filled with some camp provisions.
Henrietta nodded mutely, looking around the familiar yet alien homestead. She couldn't help but superimpose the Dursleys' residence on top of the Grangers'. It was an odd experience, to say the least, especially as it was not the perfectly manicured household that Aunt Petunia loved so much. She could safely say that the house looked lived in compared to her previous muggle residence. But the similarities were still there, from the telly to the kitchen appliances and so forth.
"Go on, Hermione, why don't you take our guest up to your room and have some time to yourselves," Jean said. Upon seeing the grin on Hermione's lips, she added quickly, "No magic! No magic, though."
With a pout, Hermione led Henrietta to her room. Hermione's room was by no means small, but neither was it large, reminding her a bit of Dudley's. However, the comparison ended there; instead of being a mess, it was quite clean, instead of being filled with toys, there was only a few, off in a corner by a large chest. Another difference was the large quantity of books that Hermione had.
All Henrietta could think, was that she was in Heaven.
Dinner at the Grangers was quite nice, much better than what she got at the Snake Pit. She had never tasted Spaghetti Bolognaise in her life, thanks to the Dursley's, but now that she had tasted it, she wished Balor could learn the recipe. They ate with the white noise that was Hermione hyperactively sharing what happened inside her room with their guest, which mostly contained synopsis about what she was reading and what Henrietta had been reading. Moreso the tomb she had been reading.
It was enjoyable to the mage as everything felt livelier than her time in the Snake Pit, especially as the only things she and Salazar spoke about were her Magical studies. Though, the brunette's parents seemed far more dismayed by the complete disregard for breathing Hermione was currently practising as she spoke without pause at quite a fast pace. Fortunately, an interruption occurred during the latter half of dinner.
A pop sounded out in the dining room of the Grangers' residence, causing the collected family to jump in shock. For Henrietta, who was used to this, just turned to face the House Elf with an excited gleam in her eye.
Balor stood, still dressed in his odd clothing, with a large trunk by his side. Atop the trunk was a suspiciously snake-like coil, sitting innocently. "Balor has done as Mistress Potter has asked, he has."
"Thank you," she replied, hopping up from the dinner table towards the trunk. Once there, she looked to the coil before hissing, "How was the ride, Mara?"
It then unfurled itself, looking up to the speaker in a lazy fashion, "It was… unsettling, lady speaker. Though I am tired from a filling meal." With that, the snake curled back up.
Lazy snake. Henrietta thought good-naturedly. "Mara, you can't sleep there. I need to open it up! On my arm."
"If I must, Lady Speaker," Mara said, before doing as directed.
"What are you hissing at?" It seemed her little hissing match had drawn the attention of the Grangers. She cursed silently. Henrietta doubted it would be a good idea, regardless of whether they were muggles or not, to tell them that she could talk to snakes. The legless creatures always had a bad reputation around Man.
"Mara," Henrietta said slowly, an excuse quickly forming in her mind, "I like to pretend I am talking to Mara."
"The… snake?" one of the Granger's asked.
"Yep," she replied, holding her arm up for the family to see.
It took a second for them to finally notice what they were looking at and it did help that Mara rose up to stare at the family that was currently gaping at her. Unfortunately, they were not as receptive to Mara as she had hoped. Jean asked scandalously, "You brought a snake here!?"
"Don't worry, she's nice. Hasn't bitten me since I met her all those years ago. She's my only friend."
Ian Granger looked quite uncomfortable, all three did, though Hermione looked more openminded about their scaly guest. Eventually, after a bit of heated whispering, they allowed Mara to stay. Though, there was the condition that the snake had to be with Henrietta at all times, or in the trunk – or an enclosure, once they could afford one.
After placating the Grangers', she set about digging through her trunk. It was a fairly normal trunk with worn leather and wood, and a faded silver and green insignia of House Slytherin. Inside was split into two categories, one being the spare clothing, the other was for studying; a supply of ink and quills, her personal grimoires, quite a few textbooks and grimoires, and a small painting depicting a pitch-black room.
Soon, however, the room was filled with a single person, Salazar, "I trust the muggles are treating you well?"
"Yes, they have been kind," Henrietta replied.
"Who are you talking to now?" asked Ian.
"Anguis. He can travel to any linked painting, like this one," Henrietta explained.
"I suppose it's better than interrogating a little girl about magic," mumbled Ian.
Ian was walking down the hall after finishing his business in the toilet when he paused just outside Hermione's room. It was quite quiet inside, which was not normally odd as his daughter was usually like this when reading a book, but at this time it was strange considering their guest. Pushing the already ajar door further open to peek inside, he found Henrietta and Hermione each sitting on their individual beds, reading overly thick books. From where he stood, he could see that their guest was reading what looked to be the Lord of the Rings Omnibus, and his daughter reading a nameless and ancient book that he assumed contained arcane knowledge.
Oh, the snake's reading over Henrietta's shoulder as well… he thought absently as he continued to watch, glassy-eyed, at the two. But they paid him no mind, only pausing to flip the page occasionally. Exaggerated horror dawned as he stepped away from the room, "There's two of them" he whispered, walking away and into the living room.
Jean had been sitting down in her armchair, a notepad in hand, as she listed to the painting speak. She and her husband had been talking adamantly to the piece of art, keeping record of everything that sounded important; considering they were talking about real, working magic… there was a lot. Anguis had insisted that they talk about the world as it was now, but both she and her husband had been incessant on learning as much as they could about magic and how it would affect her daughter, directly or indirectly. However, they had broached the subject of Henrietta's previous guardians just as Ian left to the loo.
"What do you know about Henrietta's aunt and uncle?" she asked, using the same professional tone she had been using for the entirety of their conversation.
Anguis face darkened as he regarded her, "Not much, other than the fact that they had abused her in a way that could have been dangerous to both her and those around her."
A shiver coursed down Jean's spine. "That's about as much as we know as well. I had thoughts on calling the police to deal with the family, but… well… magic."
"Who are the 'police'?"
"Ah, well, considering what I have found out about the state of the world now, I would say that it was a good idea to stay your hand. I would assume that they would investigate Lady Potter?"
"It would cause several complications if it did happen," Anguis continued. "At the moment, I am a bit… uncomfortable with the whole ordeal of people assuming magic to be mere tricks and sleight of hand. I won't have to run into any anti-magic bigots, but I have to deal with keeping it quiet until Henrietta is ready. I've seen muggles attack the unknown out of fear, and I would hate for my ward and your daughter to get into the crossfire of… eight billion people..." he whispered awed.
When her husband returned, she had put aside her notepad and began massaging her temples, cursing magic forever coming into their lives. Upon noticing his stunned expression, she got worried, but it was no her that broached the subject, "Is everything okay?" Anguis asked.
"There's two of them..." he said dully.
Without much more to go on, Jean's mind ran into overdrive, today's revelations making her instantly think magic. Did they clone themselves? Did she turn into my daughter? Did she turn my daughter into her? These were the thoughts that ran through her mind as she moved from her armchair to Hermione's room in a flash.
Upon peeking in, she found the two sitting on the bed, reading too thick books, larger than any book a child should be with. Realisation dawned as she whispered, "Oh God, you're right… there's two of them..."
Soon, the girl's 'bedtime' approached and the elder Grangers took Henrietta and Hermione to their bedroom, before tucking the two in and saying their 'goodnights'. Soon, the bedroom was bathed in darkness as the lights were turned off.
Henrietta had buried herself in her blankets, savouring the pleasant feel of the modern fabrics. Her breath slowed as she slowly drifted off to sleep. However, sleep seemed to not find her, as she found herself inexplicably at the entryway of a familiar house where a messy haired man with glasses stood before her.
"Lily, take Henrietta and go! It's him! I'll try and hold him off!" the man cried, reaching for his wand in his pocket. Her lips twisted cruelly as she raised her own yew wand, faster than he could.
"Crucio!" She hissed, chuckling as the being before her fell to the floor writhing in agonising pain, but he held strong under the curse and did not scream. With a cry of "Avarda Kedavra!" a flash of green and the sound of rushing wind, the body stilled. Smiling at her work, she turned towards the staircase. Wandlessly and wordlessly she cast the flying transfiguration charm to transform into a cloud of black viscous smoke and glide up the stairs.
Another door barred her path, but it was easily blasted off its hinges revealing her goal: the prophesized child, destined to be her end, lying in a crib. Her cruel smirk turned sour as she noticed another being, an adult female with blazing red hair and emerald eyes, protecting the child with her body. The filthy mudblood that held one of her follower's loyalty.
"Not Henrietta! Please no, not Henrietta! I'll do anything!" begged the filth.
She sneered at the action, "Stand aside you silly girl… stand aside now." She had promised that she would not kill the mudblood and a part of her wanted to make good on her promise.
"Not Henrietta, please no, take me, kill me instead," The mudblood begged again, her voice croaking as she sobbed, her head bowing as she pleaded, "Not Henrietta! Please… have mercy…"
Thoughts of simply stunning the filth in front of her passed by, but seeing the mudblood lower herself this far annoyed her. So, with a lightning bolt shaped flick of her wand, she cast the unforgivable. "Avarda Kedavra!"
Another flash of green light and the mudblood fell to the floor dead. The prophecies child began to cry in its crib. So odd that it only started crying after its mother was silenced instead of when the filth was screaming, pleading for mercy.
The sound of the baby's cries grated on her ears as she turned to the child in the crib. How such a creature could ever grow up to defeat me… she thought, looking at the baby with wary eyes. Briefly, she thought of simply taking the baby and giving it to one of her followers, perhaps Bellatrix- no, Lucius. He would be a better choice, after all, he and his wife had a spawn of their own. She might trust Bellatrix, but the woman's insanity would be a negative influence on the tot, though at least she was loyal. Terrifyingly loyal. The thought was tempting, using the child as a weapon against her enemies.
But as she went down to brush her fingers against the child's cheek, a powerful burning sensation shot through her hands. Shrinking away from the creature with a hiss of pain, she looked at the damage. The fingers that touched the child were burnt, near charcoal.
Her eyes narrowed as she glared at the child. So this is how it was to kill me? What were they going to do, throw the baby at me? Make it give me a hug? She thought mockingly, though her expression did not waver from her sneer. With that thought, she went back to her original plan, to use the child as the sacrifice to further ensure her immortality.
Raising her wand carelessly, she cast her signature spell. The second the words left her lips, the room was filled with a bright green light.
The last thing she remembered was the most unbearable pain that she had ever felt. It was as if her body was being ripped apart at the atomic level as her veins were filled with molten lead. But the most painful part was not physical, but on a different plane entirely; the pain of her soul being ripped from her corporeal body, torn asunder by the effects of the spell.
Henrietta awoke screaming as this pain racked through her body as the familiar cottage transformed into Hermione's room, waking everyone in the Grangers' residence.
AN: Sorry for the wait, but I was working on Uni and stuff, plus my Beta's seemed to have run off somewhere… Oh well. Oh, and I wish to ask you lot if you would check out 'Through the Eluvian'. Thank you again for all your support!