Huge thank you to everyone who read, reviewed, favorited, and followed this story. A shout out to CJRed for being an awesome Alpha and letting me bounce ideas off of her, and putting up with my crazy. And Kari for making me stop revising this and just stop posting.

Chapter Two: Meeting the Family

The next morning the weather promised to be glorious, the sun shone, birds sang, and the last of winter fading away to reveal spring waiting in the wings. The Great Hall buzzed with breakfast conversations. Some gossiping with friends, others attempting desperately to finish essays. At the Gryffindor table Ron made of show of sitting as far as possible from Hermione. He engaged nearly all of their year mates in conversation, trying to rub his snubbing in Hermione's face. Harry had the grace to look uncomfortable when Neville gave him a questioning look. He shrugged, but said nothing. Hermione lacked the focus to pay any attention to Ron's behavior. More important things claimed her thoughts. When she finished what little she could force herself to eat Viktor walked her to McGonagall's office.

"After today you will know. The unknowing, that is worst. Learn who they are. The rest follows. Maybe keep open mind, mila." Viktor brushed his lips over the back of her hand. She nodded her agreement and watched him make his way to his first class.

This fiasco is ruining my classwork. She thought bitterly. She knocked on the door, entering when told to. The formidable Scottish witch frowned as she pulled on her cloak. "Hermione, I know you are not excited about this, but you really should have worn something nicer than your uniform. Putting your hair up is a nice touch."

Hermione pulled her school robes open, revealing a spring green tea dress. "I thought wearing the robes over my dress would draw less attention. I wanted to be as low key as possible."

Once the halls emptied the two witches set out towards Hogesmeade. Darren Randall waited with an older witch. Her facial expression grim, she surveyed the interior of the inn through her monocle. Randall waved when the two grew closer. "Professor, Miss Granger, good morning. Allow me to introduce Director Amelia Bones, the head of the department of Magical Law Enforcement."

"Minerva, Miss Granger, shall we sit? I thought it prudent to answer Miss Granger's questions before we arrive at the Ministry. We have striven to ensure that this is as hush hush as possible, which means everyone knows the Eze Baby is coming in this morning." She paused as Rosmerta brought them all a butter beer. "All right, lay them on me." She smiled at Hermione's surprised face. "I spend a lot of time with my niece, Susan."

"In Hufflepuff? I know her, she's sweet." Hermione folded her hands together on the table. "I guess to begin with, why are you here?"

"Several reasons: this story is famous, or infamous depending on how you look at it, and you are well known yourself for being Harry Potter's muggleborn friend, and Viktor Krum's Yule date. People will have very strong emotions about the results of today. Your safety is paramount. High profile cases mean more experienced agents. Darren is here because he made first contact, and might make you feel more comfortable."

"And if the tip proved false, and someone wanted blood, he was the one left holding the bag. If this goes well he should share in the glory." Randall smiled at Hermione. "So walk me through what happens if the second results are positive."

"That will depend on the results of our investigation. If the Grangers are cleared of criminal involvement, then a custody hearing will be scheduled. I am going to be blunt with you, Miss Granger, Minerva as your in loco parentis has more legal standing than the Grangers do in our courts. There is little to no chance of your birth parents NOT being granted full and sole custody. Merlin, Morgana, and Circe, themselves, would have to show up demanding it at wand point." Despite herself, Hermione giggled at the image.

"May I be present when my parents, the Grangers, are questioned?Or at least read the transcripts?" Bones raised an elegant eyebrow in question. "Regardless of criminal activity these people lied to me, I need to know why."

"I will do the best I can to arrange it."

"Thank you. I suppose that is the only questions I have right now."

"Then we should get going." She placed a stack of coins on the table. "we'll be using the floo to avoid the press in the front atrium. Anyone who managed to weasel inside can't be helped. I'll disillusion you after you get checked in."

Efficiently they moved through the floo, Director Bones lead them to the security desk. The middle aged security guard recorded their names and weighed the wands. He directed them to a conference room on the third floor. Bones tapped Hermione on the head with her wand. The feeling of cold water ran down her skin. She followed McGonagall through the atrium past the fountain. The moved past the gathered press without even a whisper of suspicion. Hermione fought the urge to hex Skeeter. Bones dropped the enchantment in the elevator. "Everyone beyond this point is bound by their employment oaths to say nothing about anyone they see coming or going to the press. The only people on this floor are personally involved in this case or an employee assigned to it." Hermione's stomach fluttered with nerves as the elevator clatters and clanged, bringing them closer to the conference room. With every step she felt more and more sure she was about to vomit. Outside the door she stopped. McGonagall looked at her with concern. "I can't, I can't do this! What if they hate me?" she cried.

"Hermione, these people are your family. They could never hate you."

"Fourteen years ago I was their baby. What if they don't like who I am now?"

"You will have to learn how to come together as a family. I told you, I am here. You are one of my cubs, I have no plans to abandon you." She smiled kindly.

Taking several deeps breaths Hermione channeled her inner Gryffindor. She gave her head a shake to clear the whispering voices of doubt. Hermione pulled off her school robes and handed them to Randall. She grasped the doorknob and pulled the conference door open. Head held high she strolled into the room and froze. Inside, seated at the table were Lucius, Narcissa, and Draco Malfoy. Her heart leapt to her throat. McGonagall gently steered her to the seat across from Narcissa before sitting to her right, across from Lucius. Director Bones and Randall took the head and foot of the table. Narcissa meet her eyes nervously. Both male Malfoys looked horrified. Hermione's heart plummeted to her stomach.

Bones nodded to a waiting auror. She walked over and placed two potions vials on the table. "Ministry employees brewed these fresh this morning. Mr and Mrs Malfoy, if you would please prepare the potion." Both elder Malfoys used their wands to slice their palms and placed their blood in the bottles. Each swirled the contents three times clockwise. "Miss Granger, if you would." Lucius bristled at the use of her last name.

Hermione held her hand up to McGonagall, "Would you please?" McGonagall nodded and opened her hand for her. She added her blood and swirled them three times counter clockwise. She held her breath waiting for the reaction to begin, hoping against hope the results were different this time. But again, at fifteen seconds it colored, at twenty it resembled a breakfast beverage. She stared at the top of the table, refusing to look up, terrified of seeing the Malfoys' disgust. Director Bones cleared her throat, causing Hermione to look at her. "We will give you some time. Aurors Randall and Shacklebolt will prepare to visit the Grangers' this afternoon. You will be notified." She shook hands with Lucius and McGonagall, as did Randall.

Hermione resumed staring at her hands. She rubbed her fingertips against the wood. A sob from across the table caused her to raise her head. Narcissa stared at her, her hand over her mouth, tears shining in her eyes. "My Celeste, my baby." Lucius took her other hand. She glanced over at him briefly before returning her gaze to Hermione. "I gave up hope of ever finding you so many times. Oh, darling."

Hermione squirmed a bit, and tried to smile, but it came off as more of a grimace. She turned to McGonagall, "What happens now?"

McGonagall opened her mouth to speak, but Lucius interrupted. "Now we talk for a bit, then determine if those muggles were involved in the crime. If they were not, I will attempt to reach an agreement that does not involve dragging you through the courts. Later, I will meet with our solicitor to begin having your identities combined in your real name."

Hermione narrowed her eyes, "And which one is the real one? The one I had for nine months, or the one I think of as my own?"

Lucius glared back, "The one your mother spent hours agonizing over. Only the perfect name would do for our angel. And you are a Malfoy, why on earth would you keep a different surname?"

"Shouldn't that be my decision? And just what happens to 'those muggles'" she spat out the last mockingly, "if they are innocent?"


"What will the Ministry do to protect them from the mob mentality of the wizarding public?" Lucius stared at her blankly. "The last few months have cemented for me that the average witch and wizard is no more willing to think for themselves than muggles are so long as there is someone to think for them. And once they jump to a conclusion, nothing short of having their noses rubbed in it changes it. My, the Grangers," she stopped herself from calling them her parents, "will be the easy targets. The evil muggles keeping the sweet pureblood angel from her wizard parents. They also cannot protect themselves from magic. If they are innocent I do not want to watch them murdered to assuage the mob."

Lucius stared at her for a moment, then shook his head, "That is not of concern at the moment. We are wasting our time together. Please, tell us about yourself."

Hermione took a deep breath to calm the agitation she felt at his brushing aside her concerns. "I'm in my fourth year at Hogwarts, in Gryffindor House. I am, or rather was, the mudblood best friend of Harry Potter and Ron Weasley. But I suppose through an accident of birth I'm no longer a muggleborn, and since even blood traitors are prejudiced gits, I'm not their friend. A libel spewing hack masquerading as a reporter started the events that have torn my life apart, I'm sure she'll turn cartwheels once this comes out. Godric knows what nonsense she'll spout off with now." Hermione ignored the horrified and guilty looks of the Malfoys as she continued in a conversational tone. "I have a half kneazle familiar named Crookshanks, he's a very smart kitty. Let's see, what else? I was raised in the muggle world, which is way more progressive than the wizarding one, so it can be very confusing. Sadly, while we have a badly taught and outdated class on muggle studies, there is nothing to teach muggleborns about our new world. And most raised in it are rather unwilling to explain traditions. At least they are welcoming, oh wait, ignore that last part. Hmmmm, my first year I was attacked by a troll in a bathroom, spent a lot of time being tormented by Slytherin bullies, helped Harry solve the puzzles and protect the Philosopher's stone. My second year I spent a good portion petrified by a basilisk, but luckily I figured out what it was, so I only was petrified not killed. Oh, and the Slytherins in my year taught me the term mudblood, that was lovely of them. The biggest thing my third year was dodging dementors. Professor, I would really like to work on my patronus charm sometime soon. That brings us to this year. We were attacked at the World Cup by Death Eaters. Viktor Krum took me to Yule Ball, then Skeeter published a bunch of lies painting me as a hussy and my world imploded. Oh, and Draco hexed me so my teeth grew to epic proportions and Prof Snape told everyone I didn't look any different. Nothing like having the feature you hate the most mocked in front of all your bullies." She looked up and gave them a brittle fake smile. "Questions?"

Lucius swallowed, "That isn't exactly what I meant."

"Oh, sorry. I like to read, especially science fiction and fantasy. Most people think I would prefer classical music, and while I don't hate it I prefer rock and pop music, I'm especially into Tori Amos right now. My favorite color is purple, not red like most people who dive into the whole house color thing. I dislike injustice, intolerance, and bullies. Was that more in line with what you wanted?"

Narcissa glanced at her husband, tears streaming silently down her cheeks, "Perhaps a better way to start this is admitting that we have behaved horribly in public. Especially to you, sweetheart. I apologize that in keeping with our public personas we have hurt you. We will make the time soon to explain everything to you. Right now, please know that some of the things we have done and said are not completely in keeping with our actual thoughts, though some are."

"And I wasn't aiming for you, I was trying to hit Potter. But I apologize for the bullying."

"Because it is wrong, or because I'm not a mudblood?"

"Both, I can't apologize for every time the phrase was used, and for everyone who used it But there are some in Slytherin who will want to be friends now that they can be."

Hermione started to snap, but Viktor's advice came back to her. 'Keep an open mind.' She looked at Lucius, "Do agree with what they've said?"

"I do. I sincerely apologize for anything and everything I have done in your presence that has caused you distress."

She heaved a sigh, "The years that a mentally unstable person stole from us can never be recovered, but starting now we can try to put those days behind us. It won't be easy. I'm sure we all have a lot to learn about each other and how to be a family. I promise to try to keep an open mind and judge you from your actions going forward."

McGonagall nodded, "Patience, acceptance, and compromise will be your watch words going forward." She looked pointedly at Lucius. "Consider this four years worth of parental updates. Your daughter is exceptionally intelligent and talented. A few professors refer to her as the brightest witch of her age. She is also as opinionated and stubborn as her father. Happily for him she's also rather pragmatic. She has a heart of gold and a great capacity for kindness, unless given reason to withhold it."

Hermione looked at Lucius, "I think I have a compromise for two of our issues. Provided the Grangers are innocent, you arrange for their safety, and I agree to change my name to Hermione Celeste Malfoy. I will also comply with a reasonable custody agreement."

Narcissa grinned, "Perfect."

"Define reasonable." Lucius eyes her suspiciously.

"Not cutting off contact completely, and not keeping me from the muggle world."

Lucius started to argue until Narcissa elbowed him in the stomach. "That will be acceptable."

Narcissa beamed, "And we'll write you often. I'm hoping you will spend some time with Draco, getting to know him, too." She looked at Draco.

He nodded."Yeah, we should spend some time together."

"Agreed." Hermione smiled her first real smile since she walked through the door.

A polite knock on the door at the door announced the return of the aurors. Darren Randall introduced Kingsley Shacklebolt, a statuesque man of African descent. He nodded greeting, "Before we depart the minister wants to know of you wish to address the press. Skeeter is chomping at the bit to get an interview."

"No!" cried Hermione, louder than she intended. The others looked at her surprised.

Lucius raised a questioning eyebrow. "You disagree with granting an interview?"

"Right now? Yes. We don't yet have all the answers to the questions they will ask. We should only deliver a statement to the press. No questions taken at this time."

He nodded. Seeking to test her political acumen he asked, "What would you tell them?"

"What we know. Who I am, our desire to come together as a family, and my name change. And request that the press and public respect our privacy in this stressful time."

"Excellent statement, my treasure." Hermione surprised herself by blushing with pride at his praise. "At this time, I believe we should let the Ministry speak for us."

"Have Auror Randall do it." suggested Draco. "He's the one who first had point on the lead, it's his case."

"And an excellent suggestion, Draco." Lucius clapped him on the back. Draco grinned at Hermione, who smiled warmly back. "Auror Randall would you do the honors?" Lucius briefed the young man.

Hermione moved over to Draco. "Thank you for suggesting Randall."

"He's young, this will give him some clout of his own, perhaps even some upward mobility. When he thinks back on this, he'll remember who suggested giving him face time with the press."

"And remember you fondly for it."

"And he'll remember you. Without the missing baby being found none of this would be happening."

Hermione hugged herself, "Still not sure how to feel about all this."

"I'm ecstatic. All my life I've known I had a sister, but at the same time didn't have one. I am really sorry about everything. I know that my behavior has been inexcusable, my only explanation is jealousy. Ever since first year I desperately wanted to get you know you. And thanks to being in a different House and the whole blood thing I couldn't be your friend. And you were so good at ignoring me, bullying was the only way to get your attention. I promise to be as good as brother as I was mean as a bully."

"You should make a pretty good brother then."

Impulsively, Hermione launched herself at Draco, hugging him tightly. Narcissa clapped her hands in delight. She hugged Draco tightly once the two parted. She started to hug Hermione, but held herself back, afraid of rejection. Allowing her inner Gryffindor to take control, the girl closed the distance between them, wrapping her arms around her mother. The witch clung to her whispering, "my baby" over and over, slightly rocking back and forth.

Auror Shacklebolt moved the family to the floos when the press conference concluded. "How did it go?" he asked in a deep rumbling voice.

"When I announced no questions or interviews Skeeter seethed. She's livid. She settled down a bit when Robards suggested he might grant a restraining order to keep her a hundred miles from Miss Malfoy."

"Oh, but then she couldn't report on the Triwizard Tournament." Hermione innocently exclaimed. "Can we arranged that?"

"Not right now, my treasure." Lucius chuckled.

"I would like to accompany you to the Grangers, if I may." After a brief consultation, the elder Malfoys agreed.

The family exchanged farewells. McGonagall escorted Draco back to Hogwarts. Narcissa returned to Malfoy Manor. Hermione and Lucius joined the aurors in flooing to the Leaky Cauldron. From there they apparated to the Grangers.

After being contacted by the Auror Department, both dentists arranged to be home early that afternoon. Lucius examined the upper middle class home while Shacklebolt rang the doorbell. Hermione tried not to bristle under his scrutiny of her childhood home. He noticed, and taking her hand reassured her. "Do not misunderstand, my treasure, it is not that they are muggles. Our home is vastly larger and better furnished. That is where you should have been raised. Nowhere else has ever been, or will ever be, grand enough for you. You were the first female child born in the Malfoy family in ten generations. Your disappearance devastated us." He fell silent and dropped her hand as the door opened.

Wendell Granger seemed surprised to see Hermione with the expected men. "Pumpkin, why aren't you at school? Is she in trouble, gentlemen?" He held open the door for them to enter. "Why don't you show them to the front parlor, sweetheart."

The Grangers reserved the front parlor for special guests, people they wanted to impress. Monica Granger decorated it with the suggestions from an interior design magazine. Hermione found the room impersonal and cold. She, herself, had only been in it twice. Once when her grandmother died and they held the reception at the house. And once when Professor McGonagall told her she was a witch.

Nervously, she selected an armchair, perching on the edge, her ankles demurely crossed. Lucius selected a seat on the sofa next to her. Randall sat next to him. Shacklebolt stationed himself next to the fireplace in the background. The Grangers took the remaining couch across from Lucius. Randall began, "We are here because of Hermione, not because she's in trouble, but because we discovered she is a kidnapping victim." Neither Granger looked surprised. "We determined her real name to be Celeste Olivia Malfoy. This is her birth father, Lucius." He indicated the blond next to him. "In light of this discovery, we need to ascertain your level of involvement in the crime."

Wendell and Monica exchanged a look. She nodded once and he cleared his throat. "We never knew for sure where the baby came from, but when you buy a baby illegally, you don't ask too many questions."

"Where did you buy the baby?"

"A seedy section of Monaco, right along the French border. The young woman looked frazzled and desperate."

Monica sniffed, "She looked strung out. We figured she wanted the money for her next fix, and we were doing both of them a favor."

"Why were you buying a baby?"

"Monica and I learned we were generically incompatible. Neither of us was particularly fertile to begin with, but together it was hopeless."

"And you wanted children?"

"You would be surprised the doors a child can open for you." she smirked.

Randall stared at her confused. Lucius glared, vibrating in repressed fury, "You desired a child to use as a networking tool?"

Hermione's heart twisted painfully at Monica's nod. "Hermione was a mixed blessing there. She's amazingly brilliant, but socially awkward. Always something to brag about, but she never made friends really. Only one or two, here and there. She was accepted to Benenden before the Hogwarts nonsense." She seemed oblivious to the fact that she had just insulted every person in the room, except her husband.

Randall struggled to redirect the interview. "Why not adopt a baby legally?"

"The adoption process is expensive and invasive. And it wasn't trendy at the time." Wendell shrugged.

"We floated the story that I was pregnant. I wore baggy unflattering clothes and in nine months we took a babymoon." And their blank looks, she explained, "A trip for the parents before the baby arrives, their last time to be alone. We obtained Hermione and reported to government that she was born outside of a hospital on vacation. No records, just our word."

Lucius struggled to keep a rein on his temper. These muggles saw his beloved angel as a means to an end. A performer to take the stage upon command, then fade into the background. "My wife and I wish to end this as quickly as possible. We do not wish to drag Hermione through the spectacle of a court hearing. Since you purchased," he spat out the last word, "her, I offer you a hundred times what you paid. But, you will have to leave the country immediately and never return." Lucius paused, hoping the aurors would not object to the next part. "If you wish, I can arrange for another child to accompany you, a girl to take Hermione's place. This child will not have magic."

Wendell and Monica again shared a glance. She shook her head at his shrug. "No, thank you. With this much money we could travel a bit, and a kid would just complicate matters. That was part of the appeal of boarding school."

Hermione stared at the people she once called parents. They lied about her birth, and now that there was an offer they could benefit from they didn't even want a daughter, let alone her. "While you finalize all this, I want to go collect some things from my room."

"Of course, use the green luggage." Monica smiled at her like she would any guest in her home, certainly not how a mother smiled at her daughter, especially one was was about to never see again. Will you even miss me? Hermione wondered.

Upstairs in her room, she collected several figurines, gifts from her grandparents, CDs, and stuffed animals. She paused before deciding to take her photo albums. Some day she might want to remember these days. Narcissa might want to see her childhood, even if it wasn't what the witch had imagined. She took everything related to the wizarding world. She pulled out the few favorite outfits she hadn't taken to school. She packed it all in the new green luggage Monica had purchased for the Christmas trip they took without her since she stayed at school for the Yule Ball.

She left the cases in the foyer and returned to the front parlor in time to hear, "I'll have my solicitor oversee the sale of the house and practice and send the money on to Canada. This is all null and void if you do not leave the country by the day after tomorrow."

"We understand." Hermione entered the room as the adults stood. They shook hands. Wendell turned to Hermione, "I guess this is good-bye, pumpkin. Be good." Monica just smiled vaguely.

Hermione's stomach twisted again. She said nothing, just stood there staring at them. Lucius wrapped his arm around her shoulders and walked her to the door. Shacklebolt levitated her luggage out the door then shrunk it for her. Lucius turned to the aurors, "Gentlemen, thank you for your assistance. And perhaps one of you should remind Directors Bones that since Hermione is no longer in their lives the Grangers don't need to remember the magical world." Hermione gasped. Lucius looked at her, "We have to maintain the Statue of Secrecy. Muggles without an immediate family member should not have knowledge of us." She nodded her head sadly. "Let's get you back to school, pet."

Lucius apparated them to Hogesmeade. "I have arranged for the Grangers to leave the country before anyone should be able to locate them, thus avoiding the danger of mob justice. Obliviating them will be up to the Ministry to decide. Before I walk you up to the school I have something for you." He pulled a small black velvet bag from his pocket. "This ring belonged to my great-great grandmother, Emmeline Malfoy. I hope you will accept it and let it reassure you that we love you. We are overjoyed to have found you." Hermione took the ring and slipped it on. Magic flared sizing the ring to her finger. The oval cut sapphire shone in the middle of a halo made from circular diamonds. The snake twisting back and around itself formed the delicate gold band.

"It is gorgeous. Thank you, Lu- Fa-."

"Lucius is fine for now. We will build to Father, or perhaps even Daddy. Only you can remove the ring, and I wove several protection charms into it, to protect you when I am unable to. Also a tracking charm." At her look of horror. Lucius kissed her forehead. "None of us can stand the idea of losing you again. The intention is not to spy on you, but to be able to find you. Draco's family ring has a similar charm. Your mother and I love you both very much." He offered her his arm. She accepted and they moved up the path to Hogwarts. "I am sure when I arrive home she will have a five foot letter ready for me to sign."

Warming to the man, Hermione giggled. "I can't promise five foot letters."

"Narcissa would be pleased with a six sentence letter, and two of them could be small talk. It would also make them four sentences longer than Draco's." He chuckled, "I think his last one said 'Still alive. Send cakes, please.'"

Hermione laughed, "At least he said please." Lucius joined her in laughter. The lighter mood carried them up to the castle.