Strictly speaking, the first time she meets the Waynes is at her christening, when Martha and Thomas are named her godparents. She's too young to remember, though, so it's not really significant.

The second, and more significant, time she meets the Waynes is at her parents' funeral, when she was six years old. It had been a car accident that claimed their lives, a trip gone awry via drunken driving – on someone else's part, not her parents' - and suddenly they're gone. They're gone, and Hermione is half-heartedly accepting condolences from their friends and colleagues at their wake. The Waynes are at the end of the receiving line, Bruce and Martha and Thomas all dressed in black, and they explain to her that her parents dictated in their will that the Waynes were to raise her if anything happened.

So, scant days after Dan and Emma Granger's death, Hermione is packing up their house and readying her belongings – and herself – to move to Gotham, New Jersey, USA.


Hermione settles in nearly fine at Wayne Manor – though she finds the size of the place daunting, and the size of her new room is overwhelming, at least at first – but she rarely leaves her room, sometimes not even venturing out for food.

The Waynes are patient with her, having Alfred bring her meals up to her room and visiting her there so she's not alone all the time – but it isn't until Bruce finally bursts and tells her that Martha and Thomas are worried sick about her that she begins to come down to the small dining room the family uses for meals.

It takes her several months to really get over her parents' deaths and accept the Waynes as her new parents, but when she does, she's all the happier for it. Martha and Thomas are, of course, ecstatic, and they throw a party to welcome her to the family properly.

She hates the party, but so does Bruce and so does Rachel, who he introduces to Hermione that night, so together they sneak out to the gardens, into which the guests have begun to spill out of the house, and try to throw whatever they can – flowers, root pieces, rocks – into people's drinks. Hermione makes one nearly impossible shot, and Bruce carries her on his shoulders in triumph even as they run away from the guest, giggling all the while.


When she's seven, odd things begin to happen around Hermione. Glasses shatter when she becomes angry, pillows begin to float in the air, and on one memorable occasion, it begins to rain around her when she sees a lily of the valley – her mother's favourite flower – in the garden.

It is after the incident when she almost set the kitchen on fire in a burst of rage that Alfred understands what is happening.

"She's magical," he explains to Thomas and Martha one night, in the library, while they read in front of the fire and while Bruce and Hermione listen at the door.

"Magical?" Thomas asks. "Like – a witch, or something?"

"Yes. Wizardry is real – my father and mother were both magical. I wasn't as lucky, but I learned quite a fair bit about magic. I'm telling you, what young Hermione can do is magic."

A few days later, Martha and Thomas approach Hermione, and they explain to her what Alfred's told them. They promise to look further into the magical world.

A few weeks later, they discover that there is a magical community hidden beneath and between theirs – a fully functioning society with everything from schools to governments to shops and businesses. At first, they're overwhelmed, but Alfred takes them all to the magical enclave hidden in downtown Gotham, and Hermione gets some books to research this society.

As it turns out, there's a school a short distance away, in Massachusetts, called Ilvermorny. Martha and Thomas inform Hermione that she will probably be going to that school, since they want her nearby, but they offer her the option of returning to her native England to attend the school there.

It doesn't take her long to decide. She'd rather be near her parents and brother – she'll go to Ilvermorny.


A year later, they're attending the opera, and Bruce becomes uncomfortable – the bats onstage remind him of the bats in the cave below the house, where he'd fallen and broken his leg only a few months before. Hermione can tell Bruce is scared, so she tries to comfort him, and when that doesn't work, she tells their parents she needs to leave, she can't handle any more opera, and the man onstage is scaring her.

They leave through a back entrance, so as not to disturb anyone unduly, and that is when it happens.

There is a man outside, apparently waiting for someone, but he gets them. He points a gun at her father and demands he hand over his money. Thomas calmly hands over his wallet.

Then the man wants more, so he points the gun at Martha and demands her pearls. There is a struggle, and the gun goes off, and Martha falls to the ground, dead. Another gunshot rings out, and Thomas joins her on the ground. The mugger flees, and Bruce and Hermione kneel at their parents' side. Hermione desperately wishes she could control her magic, that she could use it when she wants, so that she could heal her parents, but there's nothing she can do. She watches them die in front of her.

She doesn't cry, doesn't say anything. She feels numb, and she absently recognizes the symptoms of shock from her father's medical texts that she had read. A policeman wraps a blanket around her, and she sits in an office at the police department with Bruce with the blanket wrapped around her. Everything feels so far away, like a dream, that she barely notices when they return home with Alfred.


It's two weeks after their funeral that the reality finally hits her and she runs crying into Bruce's room – her parents are dead, for the second time in her life, and she'll never see them again. Bruce hugs her as they both cry, and from then on neither of them will let the other out of their sight. They are utterly inseparable, to the point that one will hover outside the bathroom when the other is using it. Alfred has the school authorities rearrange their classes so the two are together, because they both have nervous breakdowns when the other is removed from their general area. It isn't too much to ask – despite their three-year age gap, Hermione is only one grade below Bruce, on account of her readholic tendencies and extremely advanced intelligence. If it weren't for the fact that she was to attend Ilvermorny later, she'd graduate high school at the age of sixteen, in all probability. As it is, Alfred hopes that they both get over this separation anxiety before Hermione turns eleven.


Bruce and Hermione eventually learn to cope without their parents, although Bruce has a noticeably shorter temper and Hermione becomes much quieter and more reserved, which was something Alfred had thought impossible. They also learn to cope without each other constantly nearby, just in time for a teacher from Ilvermorny to arrive and attempt to explain magic to the family that already knows of its existence.

Hermione heads off to Ilvermorny the year she is to turn twelve with her trunk full of magic books and implements, a cage with a beautiful Great Horned owl named Thomas, and a promise to Bruce and Alfred to write at least once a week.


When she arrives at Ilvermorny after a short train ride – departing from Gotham Central Station's Platform 18 ½ - she is taken with the other new students to the entrance hall, where there are four statues – a snake with a great horn, a panther-like creature, a bird, and something that looks vaguely like a cross between a dwarven man, a boar, and a hedgehog. The Horned Serpent, the Wumpus, the Thunderbird, and the Pukwudgie.

When it is her turn, she stands atop the Gordian Knot carved into the floor, and the crystal set into the serpent's forehead begins to glow. The Wumpus also roars, but she has eyes only for the Horned Serpent – the House of the mind. She chooses that House, and joins the other first-years that have gone through the Sorting.

After all the new students have been Sorted, they file into a large hall where a rather odd-looking, short man with a great shock of black hair waits, long, thin boxes piled up almost to the ceiling in a cart behind him. Hermione wonders how they don't topple over, and decides there must be some kind of enchantment on the cart.

The first student approaches the man, who opens one of the boxes to reveal a wand.

Hermione is chosen by a vine and dragon heartstring wand, 10 ¾ inches, and rather bendy. She wonders what this says about her, as the wand vendor had said that vine was a rather odd wood. Perhaps it simply means that she was a rather odd person. She can't help but agree with that assessment.


Her first year passes with very little incident. She keeps her promise to Bruce and Alfred to write often, and they write back just as often as she does. She keeps them updated on her classes, and promises to show Bruce how to brew a Calming Draught – he's been having nightmares. She returns for the Christmas holidays, but they still haven't ever been apart for as long as they have.

Alfred is disappointed to note that she doesn't mention having many – in fact, any – friends, though he hides it from Bruce.


She enjoys being home for the summer – it is something of a relief to be away from her classmates and from the school in general, where she is praised by her teachers and largely ignored by her peers. Nobody likes a teacher's pet, Hermione knows, but she can't help but want to excel in class – that's what she's always done. Anyway, she's home now, so it doesn't matter, at least for the two months that she's away from school.

She spends long days playing with Bruce in the garden, helping Alfred or Rachel's mother with the chores, or doing her homework, which is endlessly fascinating. She keeps her promise to Bruce and shows him how to brew some potions using the basic ingredients she has left over in her kit. Fortunately, one doesn't have to be magical to brew potions; they only have to have the right ingredients. Calming Draughts are among the ones she shows him, since his nightmares haven't gotten any easier, and it nearly gets to the point that she has to stop him from using them every night.

Soon enough, though, she has to return to Ilvermorny, and she promises to write and to send Bruce the address of an apothecary where he can buy, or have Alfred buy, Calming Draughts for when his nightmares get really bad.


Her second year passes much like her first, and she becomes tired of it – all she wants is a friend, or for something exciting to happen, or both. Nothing exciting happens at Ilvermorny, besides the occasional Potions mishap or general class accident.

She takes out a subscription to a Gotham Wizarding newspaper, and a local Massachusetts Wizarding paper as well, and it's nice to know a little about events in the outside world. She asks Alfred to send her one of the weekly Gotham No-Maj papers as well, so he does, and she learns about the shootings and awful things happening outside her little corner of the world. It's almost nice, in a way, to know that she's not alone in her experiences – to know that people have people stolen from them as well, that she and Bruce are not the only ones to lose parents. It's a little morbid, she admits, but it's not like she has anything better to think about besides coursework.


Her third year is much more exciting – she makes it to the train in barely enough time, and finds no empty compartments. There is, however, one that houses only one boy, and she knocks on the door and pokes her head in. She realizes as she does that she's never seen the boy in any of her classes, even though she must have, because he's about her age.

"Do you mind if I sit here? All the other compartments are taken."

The boy shrugs. "Sure."

So she moves in and takes a seat across from him. The boy doesn't look at her, only stares out the window. She feels awkward, so she reaches out a hand to the boy.

"I'm Hermione Wayne."

The boy turns, finally looks at her, albeit with a raised eyebrow. "Jack Napier." He doesn't take her hand, but she barely notices in her horror.

Slashed across the boy's face is an awful Chelsea grin.

The wound was fresh, or relatively so, because there are still stitches in it, and the skin is red and swollen around them. She can see the trail where whatever implement was used to make the cuts traveled through his skin, and the thought makes her want to vomit.

He scowls and turns back to face the window, and she realizes with horror of a different kind that she must have been staring.

"I'm so sorry," she says, quietly, and she's not sure whether she's apologizing for her staring or for the scars.

"Aren't we all."

Neither of them say anything to each other for the rest of the train ride.


When the train reaches Ilvermorny, she loses sight of Jack in the crowd almost immediately. She shrugs and heads toward the balcony entrance, where she would watch the Sorting with the rest of the student body, when she finds herself being pulled aside by the headmaster, Professor Blathers.

"Hermione," he begins, "it's good to see you. I hope your summer was good?" At her nod, he continues. "Good, good. Come with me."

He leads her to his office, where, to her surprise, Jack Napier is waiting. He scowls at the sight of her, and she doesn't look at his face.

Professor Blathers clears his throat. "Well... Hermione, this is Jack Napier; Jack, Hermione Wayne."

"We've met," he says shortly.

"I see. Well... Hermione, I'd like to ask you a favour. You see, you're a very responsible student, and an excellent one besides, so I'd like to ask you to show Jack around the school, at least for a little while. You know, show him the ins and outs of Ilvermorny. You see, Jack here was homeschooled up until this year, so he never attended Ilvermorny. He's about your age, though, so he'll be in your year. In fact, he'll be Sorted in a few minutes, but I wanted to introduce you two first."

"I'll help him," Hermione says quietly. Jack scowls.

"I don't need help," he mutters, and leaves the room without being dismissed.

Professor Blathers watches after him, then turns back to Hermione and sighs.

"Jack is... rather difficult. He seems to have had a bad home life, though I'm not sure of the specifics. His mother called on me this past summer, and asked me to take him in. His father just died over the summer, and I think it's having a rather troublesome effect on him." Professor Blathers meets her eyes, and she is struck by the seriousness of the situation. "I want you to help him out, socially as well as academically. He's going to have trouble here, I can tell."

"Do you really think I can help him?" She didn't mean to speak it out loud, but the quiet sentence drops from her mouth regardless.

"Hermione... I think you might be the only one who can help him."

"I'll do my best," she promises, and nearly surprises herself with just how much she means it. She wants to help the boy with the Chelsea grin, the boy who's probably never been helped before in his life. She remembers how sloppy his stitches looked – not like hospital stitches, that's for sure.

"I know you will." Professor Blathers is quiet for a moment, regarding something across the room – she can't tell whether he's looking at the bookshelf or the picture beside it. "Well, the Sorting should almost be over. I suppose we should see to young Jack's Sorting, shall we?"


Jack is Sorted into House Wumpus, and his wand is made of redwood and dragon heartstring, eleven and a half inches and remarkably flexible. When he takes his seat at House Wumpus' table – at the very end, far away from any other members of his House or any other – Hermione sits beside him.

"What do you want?" he grumbles under his breath as Professor Blathers makes his welcoming speech.

"I..." She trails off, all words forgotten. "I think we got off on the wrong foot. Can we- can we try again? I didn't – I really didn't mean to offend you, on the train."

Jack is silent for a while, long enough for the food to appear, then he sighs. "Fine. We can try again."

Hermione smiles tentatively, and he smiles back, equally so – or maybe he was just mocking her. It's a moot point, because the smile disappears as he winces.

"Ow."

"Are you alright?"

"Fine, fine, just – you know."

"Right."

They both laugh a little, more out of relief than out of actual humour, and turn to their plates.

Hermione can't help but notice that Jack eats like an animal – hunched low towards his plate, like he's worried someone will steal his food from him. She tries to provide a good example, using her table manners like her parents would have liked her to, but it doesn't seem to affect him at all. So instead she laughs about it.

After the meal, they both split off to head to their respective Houses' common rooms, but she stops him for a moment. "Wait. We should meet tomorrow, so I can show you around the castle. We can meet up at breakfast – say, seven thirty?"

"Yeah, alright."

"Okay. Well... Goodnight, Jack."

"'Night."


September first, when students are brought to Ilvermorny, was a friday, so they meet up every morning that weekend to show Jack the ropes – Hermione does everything from taking him on a tour around the castle to giving him her notes from the last two years of classes and going over them so he has a basic understanding of some of the things they've done in their classes. He's always got questions to ask, and Hermione jokes that he should have been in Horned Serpent by the way he loves the library and the way he devours her notes like a starving man devours crumbs.

"Didn't go through any of this stuff," he tells her absently as he reads her second year Transfiguration notes.

"What do you mean?"

But he refuses to say any more on the matter. She suspects that he wasn't homeschooled at all – just kept away from Ilvermorny. She feels bad for him – she seems to be doing a lot of that.

By the time classes begin on Monday morning, Jack is as prepared as he was ever going to get, short of having attended classes for the last two years. After his first day of classes, he reports back to her that, thanks to her notes and help, he at least wasn't left in the dust. He even managed to answer some of the professors' questions.

As the year goes by, Jack becomes better versed in how things work at Ilvermorny, though he doesn't stop talking to Hermione, as she had feared he might when he no longer needed her help. She writes ecstatically to Alfred and Bruce one day in April when Jack admits that he's glad for her help and friendship.

Friendship!

She has a friend!

She promises Alfred and Bruce to invite him over to the manor over the summer so they can meet him, since he lives in Gotham anyway.


Unfortunately, Jack refuses her invitation to the manor, and he doesn't invite her to his place in return.

"Can't have a beautiful girl like you getting lost in downtown Gotham, after all," he says with a crooked grin. She finds herself blushing at the compliment, though she's not sure why – he calls her things like that all the time, offhandedly.


For once, Hermione finds herself dreading the summer, even though she's excited to see Bruce and Alfred again – maybe because she's worried Jack will forget about her. When she voices this dread to Jack, he has the nerve to laugh at her.

"I'd never forget about you, doll," he says. "Never."

"You'll write to me, though, right?"

"Yeah. You send me that big ol' owl of yours, and I'll write you back."


His first letter is short and terse.

Mione

Best not to write by owl post again. Mom's new boyfriend doesn't much appreciate owls. Thomas is a beautiful bird, though, and I told him where he can stick it.

Still, it's probably better we don't rile him up too much. You can mail your letters to this address – I'll get 'em.

-Jack

The post-script was a PO box somewhere in Gotham. Hermione is disappointed that she won't be able to find him – no matter what he said about her and downtown Gotham, she wants to visit him. Still, she has a way to keep in touch, and that's enough for now.


When she reaches the train, she's the second student there. The first is an upper-year girl who totally ignores her, hopping on the train to find a good compartment early. Hermione follows suit, taking the compartment in the very back of the train and taking out a book, trying to seem interested in it. Really, she's on tenterhooks, waiting for Jack to arrive.

When he finally does arrive, it's almost time for the train to depart, and indeed it starts to pull away as he's just getting on. The swaying doesn't stop him from walking straight, though. Hermione envies his excellent sense of balance.

She tackles him in a hug as soon as he opens the compartment door, and he pushes her off, laughing.

"Good to see you too, beautiful," he says as he takes a seat. "How's it going?"

"Good! Good to see you too. How was your summer?"

They make meaningless small talk for a minute, until the conversation changes to their summer reading. Jack tells her about a book of magic tricks – Muggle ones, nothing too exciting – but Hermione giggles anyway when he pulls a quarter out from behind her ear. Hermione mentions an excellent rune dictionary she found in the used bookstore on Vertica Boulevard, in the Wizarding shopping district of Gotham. Since they're both taking Ancient Runes, Jack asks her to see it, and they spend the rest of the train ride poring over it.


That year, as there is every year, there is a school dance at Halloween for fourth years and up. Hermione waits until the week before the dance for Jack to ask her, before she finally asks him herself.

"I don't dance," is the flat reply.

"Of course you do," she says, "and it doesn't matter if you do or not. I want you to come with me for fun, even if you don't dance."

He looks on the verge of refusing, but something in her face stops him from doing so. He sighs. "Fine. But I have nothing to wear."

She gets his measurements and sends them to Alfred to get him a suit. Two days later, she receives a parcel from Alfred, including his suit and several ties, one to match whatever colour of dress she chooses. She writes him a long thank you note, then goes to find Jack.


The dance is fun, even though they barely dance, as Jack promised. He's rather graceful on the dance floor, though – his usual stalking grace translates to smooth steps and surety on the floor. They spin slowly in each other's arms and the world melts away around them.

At the end of the third song of the night, Jack seems to hesitate. He almost leans forward, and Hermione can feel her heart beat faster – but then he apparently thinks better of it, and leans back, breaks her hold.

"Want a drink?"

"Sure," Hermione says breathlessly, hiding her disappointment.

"Alright. See you in a minute." And he disappears to get them some punch.

Hermione sighs and leaves the dance floor, finding a table in an open area where she knows Jack will find her – he always does, he seems to have an uncanny sense of where to find her at any and all times – and taking a seat.

A few moments later, someone approaches the table, and she looks up, expecting Jack but finding the brutish face of one Mark Trailor, another fourth year who Hermione intensely dislikes, mostly for the fact that he and his gang were largely in charge of spreading awful rumors about her in first year.

"See you're with the freak," he spits. "Ain't that cute. The two freaks found each other."

"Jack's not a freak," she says quietly, barely enough to be heard over the music.

"What else would you call a guy with a permanent grin? He's a freak, face it."

"Now, that's no way to be talking about a guy that isn't even here to defend himself." Jack is suddenly there, standing behind Mark with a terrible grin – besides the Chelsea one – etched on his face. Mark turns and flinches at the sight of him.

"That's what I thought. You haven't got the brains or the, ah, manners to understand just what it is you're saying to my girl, do you?" Warmth floods through Hermione at the words "my girl". She smiles at Jack from behind Mark's back, and he winks at her over the other boy's shoulder.

Mark gathers himself and spits out, "It was true. You're both freaks – the brainless bookworm and the scarred schizo. You've got a damn problem, Napier."

"I don't see a problem," Jack says lightly. "I see an annoying little fly that thinks he's bigger than he is." Suddenly, there's a flash of metal in Jack's hand, and his hand is pressed up against Mark's chest. "Now, do you really wanna play this game? 'Cause I'm very good at games. I. Always. Win."

Mark shakes his head, and he's shivering, now.

"Good. Now, get."

Mark leaves, and Jack takes a seat next to Hermione, the knife gone to who knows where. Hermione turns to face him, looking disapproving.

"Jack! How could you – you threatened him with a knife! Where did you even get that?"

"Took it off one of the tables. It was just a butter knife, relax – ow!" She's punched him in the arm, just hard enough to get her point across. "I get it, I get it. No more attacking my dear fellow students." The last part is a sneer. "Not even when they're attacking my girl."

Warmth floods through Hermione again at those words, and she smiles a little, eyes downcast. "You... you meant it?"

He reaches out and lifts her chin so her eyes are looking into his, brown into brown. "'Course I did."

Neither of them is sure who leans forward first, but suddenly their lips are pressed together. Hermione can feel his scars brushing against the corners of her lips, and she smiles into the kiss. She can't imagine kissing anyone else.


They had spent most of their time together before, but now they're inseparable. They're constantly either in the library together or in some secluded corner, studying or talking or kissing. Hermione works out a way to enchant a pair of notebooks so they can write notes to each other even when they're not together in class – and the best part is, the books look like class notes to anyone who isn't them.

Several blissful weeks pass before Christmas holidays arrive. Hermione makes Jack spend them at her place, where she shows him all around the grounds and the house, and they find places to hide from Alfred and Bruce so they can just be alone together.

For Christmas, Alfred gives Jack a beautiful pocketknife with a wooden handle, and makes him give back the kitchen knife Hermione hadn't noticed he'd stolen. Hermione gives him the runic dictionary she'd shown him on the train, having found another copy in another wizarding bookstore. He gives her a rose and a copy of the Kama Sutra, with a suggestive wink that makes her blush to her ears and causes Alfred to give him a disapproving look.


One day he turns to her suddenly. "This... us, it's like Beauty and the Beast. You love to read, and I..." He trails off, the rest of his metaphor either forgotten or implied.

"You're no kind of a beast, Jack Napier," she says, and there's heat to it, the English accent she'd never been able to rid herself of completely coming out with more force.

He tries to protest, but she kisses him to shut him up, and the thread of the conversation is lost in their heated caresses.


In sixth year, Jack is called to the headmaster's office, and he comes back to Hermione with a grim expression on his face.

"What happened?"

"I've been expelled," he says. "I don't know why, Blathers didn't say, but I'm out."

Hermione is shocked, and tears start to roll down her face.

"I... what? Where will you go? What will happen to... to us?"

He kisses her firmly, wiping the tears from her face as he pulls back. "I'll always love you, Hermione. I love you so much."

"I love you too," she whispers. "Jack..."

They kiss again, and as they pull away, her eyes threaten to spill over again. Jack notices this and gives her a crooked grin.

"Wanna help me pack?"


She promises to write, offers to let him stay at Wayne Manor, at least for a while, till he can get on his own two feet, but he refuses. He's gotta strike out on his own, he says, has to make his own way, but he says he'll keep her informed on where he goes. And Thomas will be able to find him.

She doesn't see him again, and letter after letter returns tied to Thomas' leg, a sad hoot as confirmation that he couldn't find his addressee.