Summary: Revenir: To Come Back, To Return. The death of a prominent Ministry official drags Hermione into Hades, from where she will change the world. Dark!Hermione. Extremely Dark Themes. Polyfic.
A/N: Hi! As Iacta Alea Est draws to a close, and Ghost continues to be difficult to wrangle, the plot-bunnies left me this gift, which may bear some resemblance to my old fic The Girl Goes Wild, but also mostly not. I'm trying it out as an idea, so feedback would be welcome.
Love, Eliza x
Disclaimer: I do not own the works made use of herein, none of the Harry Potter features or characters belong to me. I make no money from this work. (Basically, if you recognise it, it's not mine.)
Warnings: Rated M for situations, swearing, violence, sexual scenes, minor character death, graphic descriptions of murder victims, references to cannibalism, torture, abuse.
Part One: Chapter One
Blood ran thick, slick, the floor soaked in it, gurgling obscenely as if drinking of the bounty laid out. It crept up, a drowning wave, sucking everything in its wake beneath, leaving the walls awash with browning residue and the residents of the room backing away, not from horror, but to protect their precious, polished shoes from the torrent. All but her, who lay in it, bathed in it, reveled in the spillage and desecration, her legs sliding against each other within, erotic, horrifying.
And the screaming, like music, something to be enjoyed or ignored as it filled the room, high-pitched, cracking as the throat reached its limit, gurgling through as thick, red liquid filled there, too.
A cackle, triumphant, gleeful, as creeping darkness obscured the vision, snuffing it, leaving but the remnants of a shrill cry, tapering off, leaving blackness.
Only when it started up again in the cold, sharp reality did Hermione realise it was the Floo.
"Bugger," she swore, glaring at the ceiling.
"There you are, Granger. Where the bloody hell have you been? What part of 'on-call' is so difficult for you to understand?"
Hermione blinked slowly, uncomprehendingly. It was too early. There was no coffee. There was, however, a shrieking head in her fireplace, and it appeared to be her boss. "Doctor Gillies?"
Gillies scowled at her. "Get over here. Now."
The lab was freezing, sterile white and blinding. She had to shade her eyes as she entered, to the pleasure of their night receptionist, Katya. The woman smirked at her, lifting her mug with sly pleasure, sipping leisurely. Despite knowing that whatever was in there, it was not coffee, Hermione couldn't help the covetous glare.
"Don't fucking dawdle!" Doctor Gillies boomed over the intercom, eliciting a little shriek from Hermione at the volume. Katya winced, rubbing her sensitive ears with a censorious glare for their office door.
"One of these days," she said wistfully.
Hermione plodded through, attempting fruitlessly to wake herself up. She slapped her fingers lightly against her cheeks, then harder, her flesh reddening, giving her at least the appearance of life. She'd barely managed to dress in her haste, the slacks on her legs doing nothing to protect her from the morning chill, something that made her both uncomfortable and yet provided her with enough of a shock to keep her awake. Her hands moved from her face down to her arms, running furiously.
Gillies emerged from his office when she entered the corridor that connected their rooms and the labs. He looked like the proverbial shit, really, but that was no change - the super fun part about Edward Gillies was that as well as being the only Magical Medical Examiner in Britain, he looked the part, too; all long, spidery limbs, wisps of white hair and giant, sunken eyes. If he'd been a model, she mused, would their department have been more successful? She doubted it. It was only a small place compared to other Ministry departments, for Wizarding people were just as reluctant as Muggles to acknowledge death, different only in that wizards managed, somehow, to bury their heads even deeper in the sand. Their budget was laughably small, made more so by the fact that the Wizengamot was apt to describe their muggle-inspired practices as 'barbaric', but due to her War stipend and Gillies' family money they managed to keep running, if only in the meantime, until a miracle occurred and the Ministry opened their eyes to how important their work truly was.
Hermione liked her job. She knew that most of her friends, people she grew up with, and those who only knew of her from rumours, had all expected her to go into politics, or the Auror corps, or even the Department of Mysteries, and she'd agreed - until the day she'd met Doctor Gillies.
He was a revolutionary, adored throughout his small field.
She was a revolutionary, in the more literal sense of the word.
They got along well.
"Morning," Hermione said meaningfully, with a glance at the clock.
"Fuck off." Gillies was not a morning person. Which made two of them. He rubbed his hands across a pale, sallow face and grimaced. "Got a message from the Minister himself."
Gillies never liked to speak in whole sentences, nor was he fond of giving out more information than was needed at the precise second he was speaking. Frustrating as all Hell, if she was honest, but it had made her apprenticeship simpler, if nothing else. "La-Dee-da," she mocked, falling into step with him as he led the way through to the cold room, where the floo had been specifically enlarged to allow for the transport of their patients. "Someone's going up in the world."
A poisonous look from his muddy brown eyes. "At the risk of repeating myself, Granger: fuck off."
"We should get you a swear jar."
"Try it, Granger, and I'll show you what I learned on my preservation course last month." Now in the cold room, Hermione moved to one side of the fireplace shield while Gillies took the other, and with tired arms, began turning the crank that would lift it. For obvious reasons, the fireplace was kept in a closed off area, warded and separate from the rest of the room, unreachable until they lifted the shield. It was the only Floo in the department, and heavily monitored. Why it had to be a muggle guard, Gillies had never said, but, again - he didn't much like explaining himself. "Some asshole got killed. Big Ministry star. Wants us - you - on it."
Unsurprising. Kingsley felt he owed her a lot after she took some curses for him on that ride to the Burrow years ago, and continued to pay her back in spades. Her official title was 'Morgue Assistant', but she was the unofficial liaison between this place and the Auror department, too, meaning that when she wasn't watching Gillies cut into people she was up there with the chosen few, running down witnesses and haranguing the experts down the hall in forensics for faster turnabout on evidence. At the very least, it helped her keep up a tan. Something Gillies had never been acquainted with (nor Katya, but that was more about biology than underground living).
"Any idea who?"
Gillies shot her a look that she'd seen many times before, his 'like I give a toss' look. "Some woman."
Great. So much for preparedness.
He tapped his foot impatiently and glanced at his watch. "Five, four, three-"
Flamed ignited in the grate with a whoosh of energy, bursting high into the air. The light tinted everything in the sterile, white room lime green, including Hermione's vision, causing her to, as always, rub at her irritated eyes. "Alright, 'Doc'?" a familiar voice said, needlessly layering sarcasm onto his title. Purebloods could never understand why he'd take on a Muggle title, but Hermione got it - there was no Magical equivalent, not with 'Healer' sounding so ironic. Besides, his degree from Birmingham gave him the right to claim it, so why shouldn't he?
"Lay her on the table, Mr. Flint," Gillies was directing as they levitated a figure clad in a clean, white sheet over to the table. Marcus Flint was joined by some Hufflepuff a few years younger than her, who gawked around like it was his first visit to Diagon Alley. Flint had been delivering their patients for two years, now, but Gillies had never warmed up to him. "Carefully, you ogre!"
Flint leapt to correct his trajectory, thankfully breaking from his customary leering. Hermione could count on one hand the amount of words they'd exchanged, yet each and every time the neanderthal wandered in he gave her a once-over so disgustingly thorough that it deteriorated into obscene staring, complete with smacking of lips and tongue action.
The body, saved from an unpleasant collision with their filing cabinets, came to rest with a thud on a long, wide metal slab about the size of a Hogwarts four-poster. Flint and his pet Hufflepuff backed off, Flint fishing inside his regulation robes for the paperwork. "Can't say I'm sad to see 'er go," he grunted, nodding at his charge while he enlarged a bundle of parchment. Handing it over to Gillies, he gave a mean smile. "She was fun in 'er day, like, but a bit stuck up in the end."
Gillies slowly raised an eyebrow, his entire manner unwelcoming. "Your input is appreciated," he informed Flint, drawing out the words while the other man preened, and then added a nasty smile. "Now get the fuck out of my lab."
A while later, scrubbed up, skin stinging from the anti-everything wash they commissioned specifically from Malfoy Potioneers, Hermione faced Gillies over the table. He was flipping through the paperwork idly, and she was sipping coffee from a travel mug with the lid screwed on so tightly she wasn't convinced Katya hadn't welded it into place. The coffee was swill, but it was one of those times when she just didn't notice, so delighted was she to have the sweet ambrosia back in her hands.
"Discovered by her neighbour at oh-one-hundred hours, when the woman went around to complain about the cats yowling. Hadn't been seen for days before - blah-blah-blah irrelevant shite - scene's untouched, but the pigs in forensics will be on that soon - more irrelevant shite - estimated time of death, midnight, three days ago."
"Samhain," Hermione said, then didn't quite know why. Gillies shot her a chastising look before continuing on his - heavily truncated - reading of the file. It was part of their ritual, to let them know what they were looking at before they even so much as looked at the corpse. Others preferred to get stuck in without any prior information, but Gillies and she were more cerebral than that. They liked a fuller picture of a case. Or, rather, she did. Gillies did it because he knew she would be useless until her questions were answered, and even then, she'd have to comb through the file with a fine tooth comb before she let it go.
Hence, the liberal editing. He tried to get away with taking out more and more information each time; it was a game they played. Or, a game to her. He, likely, was being serious.
"We have a name?" she asked, again.
Gillies' long face became disturbingly coy, as it had every time she'd asked. "You'll like it," he told her, stroking the corners of the paper with almost sexual pleasure. Ugh. "Impatient."
"It's not even six in the morning, Doctor. I just want to do my job."
He looked disappointed, but his hand belied the expression when it strayed eagerly to the corner of the sheet. "You used to be fun," he admonished, childishly, causing her eyebrows to shoot up and join with her hairline.
"Well you never bloody were," she snapped, and yanked her corner of the sheet down with perhaps more force than necessary.
A stout, thick woman in her sixties lay on the slab, face tilted upwards, neck supported by a block. That was the sum total of what was normal about this body.
"Merlin-!" Mortified but unable to control it, Hermione spun to the nearest sink as nausea racked her body, forcing last night's chippy and her much-coveted coffee back the way they'd come, explosively. Over by the table, Gillies hummed in consideration.
"Cats got her, then," he said, needlessly. "Must have been starving, poor buggers. Or took exception to her personality. Wouldn't blame them. You done yet?"
The last of her stomach contents evacuated on the heels of burning bile and Hermione straightened, covering her mouth with a paper towel she conjured. Her voice was weak when she asked, "Is that..?"
"Dolores Umbridge?" Gillies grinned. Grinned. Hermione didn't think he'd even grinned on his wedding day. "Looks like it. Bitch."
If that grin only widened and became more malicious as the examination went on, Hermione wasn't going to say anything about it. After all, she thought, watching him choose a scalpel with exquisite care, his coat stretching across his chest until she could see the corner of his Azkaban tattoo; he was a Muggleborn, too.