Disclaimer: I don't own Merlin or Harry Potter.
Author's Note: Thanks for the reviews, follows, and the favorite! I seriously doubt the next chapter will be posted this fast as I already had this one written. This chapter is unbeta'd and all mistakes are mine.
Chapter 2: Irene
She sometimes thought it might have been easier had she not remembered that once in another life she had been Hermione Granger.
To have a real clean slate. To not be burdened by future knowledge, something she once held in the highest of esteem now seemed to only hurt her.
To simply have been Irene.
The only child of a small village couple in a medieval world.
Her parents were young simple hard-working folks in a small village with less than fifty people and everyone knew everyone.
Irene was an outgoing girl that easily made friends with the other children around her age group. Some of the older children picked on them occasionally but other than that everything seemed perfect in her little world.
Then the dreams started shortly after she turned four for the second time. Among them were memories of two adults that shared her features. A kind woman with her wild hair only slightly more tamed and a funny laughing man with her eyes.
Then there were stranger things like something her 'dream parents' called a 'telly' which her mind supplied were boxes with small people inside. Or her favorite which was the Sunday morning cartoons. Irene knew them to be moving drawings that talked and sang somehow. Magic? Maybe but that didn't bother her.
More puzzling were things like 'flossing' to clean her teeth? Her dream parents said it was important. These things drifted and blurred around inside of her head. Truthfully it didn't make a whole lot of sense to the young girl. That didn't stop her from trying to explain them to her parents.
"Then the box glowed!" Irene's hands moved excitedly as if to show the glow through movement. "Pictures moved around telling stories. They sang songs!" The little girl continued enthusiastically as her mother drew water from the only well which was located in the middle of their village.
She smiled at her daughter only half paying her any mind while she continued on with her chores. Irene didn't notice and simply trailed behind like a duckling might all the while explaining about 'running water' though it didn't have feet she explained not understanding how it ran but coming up with plenty of outlandish theories and 'flossing, because it's important!'
At first her parents thought the girl had an overactive imagination, that one day she may make a good storyteller despite not being able to read or write just like the others of her village.
However, that way of thinking changed quickly when a woman two houses away was accused of witchcraft and promptly dragged from her home by her hair in the middle of the day for all to witness. The knights who had set up camp in their village the past few days then ordered the men of the village to build a makeshift pyre.
Her father was one of those forced to help as he dealt with wood for a living.
"Mama, is Rosa in trouble?" She watched the crying woman who pleaded for her life, not truly understanding the gravitiy of it.
"Yes… she is." Her mother looked pained as her gaze briefly left her husband to look at their neighbor.
"…Why?" Irene looked up tearfully, "She did something bad… now she's getting punished for it."
Bad? Then why was she screaming she was innocent? Was she lying? Irene looked away from the woman and instead focused on the shiny men who her parents called knights. Their clothes shined when the sun hit them at the right angle. The clothes had a name but Irene forgot.
They were shoving the men and telling them to hurry less the witch gets away.
Irene didn't know what a 'witch' was but from the way they said it she knew it was something bad.
"I don't like them." Irene told her mother as one of the soldiers pushed her father and made him fall.
Her mother's hand gripped hers tightly, it made the girl wince, "Shush now, they're the kingdom's knights. They come from noble families so you can't talk about them like that."
Irene didn't understand but ever the obedient daughter she nodded. But that didn't mean she liked them any better. It only meant she didn't voice her thoughts about it.
It was the first time the small family of three had witnessed a witch burning first hand.
"Mama I wanna go home…" The little girl hid her face in her mother's skirts, it was horrifying but Irene also didn't truly comprehend it. The screams scared her and the smell nearly choked her.
"I know… so do I. It's nearly over." Irene nodded but didn't look, however she was grateful when the screaming finally stopped.
Irene didn't know why they had to stay but everyone was at the 'burning' even the old and sick that rarely left their homes. It was 'required,' the small girl didn't know what that meant but it too must be important like flossing.
Life moved on after the burning and the knights left less than a week later. So, Irene copied those around her and went back to normal as well and normal for her was explaining about the things she dreamt to her parents. In this case it was her father's turn to listen.
But he didn't want to hear it, because it sounded magical to him so he hushed her fearfully.
None of them knew at the time that it was not magic at all. It was merely advanced technology that her parents from this simple age could not comprehend and it scared them.
After all, even the talk of magic could lead to death under King Uther's strict rule. So, with that and the recent events in mind, her parents forbade any further talk of her dreams to anyone including with them.
"Promise me Irene, no more stories." The mother knelt in front of her with an unusually serious expression and held her daughter's arms firmly, "No more talks of dreams. None." Her tone left no room for arguments.
Irene nodded, "I promise."
That promise wasn't able to stop her from dreaming though and as she grew older so too did the version of herself inside her dreams. They looked nearly identical aside from the clothing and Irene thankfully had less volume and curl to her hair thanks to inheriting the hair of her 'waking parents' as she'd dubbed them inside her mind.
Irene awoke one morning and blinked her tired eyes a few times before a smile graced her face as she remembered her dream. They were getting clearer over time and more was sticking with her when she woke.
Irene knew her dream name now, "Hermione…" She whispered it to herself, it felt strange but not in a bad way.
Sitting up the brunette wished she could share the news of her new name with her parents but she had made a promise. Irene was a good girl; she never broke a promise so she said nothing.
It wasn't until she dreamt up herself accidentally using magic that she felt afraid of her dreams.
Magic, after all, was bad. Evil even. If her dream self had it did that make her bad too?
Irene convinced herself that since it was only in her dreams and that dreams were not real, so she couldn't be bad.
She was quick to change her mind when she accidentally performed magic in her waking hours only a week later.
It was a normal day and Irene was hungry.
And the pie smelled so good, but she couldn't reach it from where her mother set it to cool. The woman knew her daughter well and didn't want her sticking her fingers into it. Irene was mostly well behaved and praised for it by the other village on occasion but when pie came into the equation all her good manners went right out the window.
Irene really wanted it despite it being out of reach.
The girl glared up hard at the pie as if just by doing so it would make it come to her, then it happened. The pie suddenly floated down in front of her and hovered in midair, Irene yelped jumping back as the pie fell to the floor with a splatter decorating her legs and the bottom of her dress staining both red.
However, it wasn't the fact that the pie was now ruined or that her dress was a mess that frightened her. It was that she knew what had brought the pie to her.
It was just like one of her dreams when she sent her doll flying across the room in a tantrum.
It accrued to her then that her dreams may not just be dreams.
Irene was scared.
She didn't want to be evil.
The young witch was so scared of herself and her magic that she didn't tell her parents. Even when she got in trouble for the pie.
Irene for the first time that she could remember lied, "I climbed… tried to pull it down… it fell."
She was scolded and didn't get any dinner that night.
Irene didn't dare complain.
Because she knew she deserved it because her magic made her lie.
She was a liar.
A magical person.
Irene feared she was becoming evil.
It was simple logic.
If she was magical then that meant she was evil. Evil magic people burned. She knew this as she saw it not too long ago and the screams from that day where now more terrifying than they ever were before.
Irene tried very hard from that day to not want anything badly so as not to accidentally call anything to herself.
If she could manage that maybe her magic would go away.
It didn't work.
Her next magical mishap happened a month later when she saw one of the older boys throwing rocks at a cornered cat. It made her so angry that she wanted to throw the rocks at him, the rocks scattered around the wounded cat answered as if they heard her thoughts by flying back to the boy and pelting him.
Horrified at what she caused the girl ran home and hid.
Nothing came from that even though she expected to be dragged out and burned that very day. Her parents noticed after three days that she wasn't leaving the house and had to coax her out which took the rest of the week.
They thought she had been teased by other children and she was fine to let them believe that.
Irene eventually calmed down and guessed that he must have not seen her. She investigated and found that the boy had indeed not seen her. He had told the other children that a ghost had attacked him.
In response to this attack he came back and killed the cat the next day. Irene cried and blamed herself for the cat's death but even still she felt relieved. Because she was alive.
Irene's fear lessened but didn't leave her. She was sure that eventually she would get caught.
It kept her up more nights than it didn't and made the once outgoing girl more withdrawn.
Irene believed that if she was alone then no one would see if magic happened around her.
Still, she hoped and prayed that it would just go away.
The magic and the dreams too.
Her hopes and prayers went unanswered.
Months passed and she got better at hiding her magic. It was lonely and she wished for someone to confide in, but she was too afraid.
Years passed and Irene was doing well, she kept quiet about her magic with no major incidents. It helped that she spent most of her time alone so no one noticed anything amiss. Even her parents didn't seem to notice how withdrawn their daughter had become from all but them.
They thought she was simply growing up and taking her chores more seriously. To them it was an improvement.
Then that faithful night happened.
The night when the bandits attacked her village.
It was the middle of the night when she awoke to her mother shaking her awake with panic in her voice, "Irene, get up!" She all but dragged the nine-year-old girl out of bed. Irene was still waking up when she heard it. Screams. She froze for a moment before her mother tugged her arm persistently making her move again, "Mama what's happening?"
She quickly shushed the girl while pulling her along, the next thing she knew they were outside. Irene clung to her mum's hand tightly with both of her own hands. All she wanted was to run back inside where she felt safe but she saw why that was a bad idea.
They were burning down the houses.
All around her houses were already ablaze. If there was one thing that Irene feared nearly as much as her magic being discovered it was fire. She didn't want to burn. There was laughter mixed in with the terrified villagers, it came from the strangers. The men were on horseback but not wearing armor that the knights had some years before. They were lighting things on fire and tossing them onto the roof of houses and through the windows. The end result was the same either way. Her own house wasn't far from the fires. Irene feared it would soon meet the same fate as the others.
"Where's dad?" She asked quietly still eyeing her surroundings, her mother didn't seem to hear her.
Irene didn't ask again because the older woman's frantic voice pulled her attention back to her insistently, "Listen to me Irene, you have to hide and no matter what you hear do not come out."
She nodded at the warning and looked around trying to find a place to hide, nowhere looked promising. Not with the way everything seemed to be catching fire.
Her mother seemed to see this as well and pulled her along while trying to avoid detection or getting trampled by fleeing villagers. Suddenly her mother stopped outside of the old weaver's place, they always had big wicker baskets laying around outside and luckily enough she could just fit into one.
She thought about protesting as it was a flammable object but then again so was everywhere else, she could hide, so in the end she didn't as her mother quickly helped her inside, "What about you?"
"I'll hide somewhere else, just stay quiet and be still." That said she pushed her daughter's head down and pulled the top back on before latching it.
Irene's eyes found the openings in the weaving where she looked through as her mother's form moved out of sight. From there the girl eyed the people she grew up with as they ran for their very lives; it was a massacre.
Not wanting to see any more she shut her eyes and covered her ears to the best of her abilities in her limited space but the images danced behind closed eyelids and the screams pierced her barely covered ears.
Then a familiar scream had her eyes shoot open and her hands fell away.
It was her mother.
Without a second thought, the young girl pushed on the basket's lid, it didn't budge at first but then it flew off. Irene didn't register her use of magic as she climbed out of the basket before racing to her mother's aid.
The next thing Irene knew was blood.
Some of it was her own, but most was not.
The pain was a dull ache, nothing compared to the feeling of seeing her father's body lying motionless before her. Why? Was he sleeping?
There was so much blood.
She took a step back and her bare feet felt something wet.
Irene didn't understand.
A sob caught the girl's attention and she turned to see a dirty figure in a torn dress.
It was her mum.
She was on the ground several feet away from her.
"Mama?" Her voice sounded loud amidst the silent night.
It was too quiet but she only noticed her mother.
Irene took a step in her direction.
The woman scooted backward causing the girl to pause.
"Mama?" Irene was confused.
"S-stay away!" The fear in her mother's voice didn't make any sense.
That's when she looked into her eyes.
Irene's eyes were nearly identical in color and shape to the woman's but that wasn't what she noticed not this time.
It was fear.
Irene took another step forward with her only thought being of comforting her distressed mum but those eyes grew wider and more frightened in response.
That's when Irene understood something.
That expression wasn't because of the bandits.
No, her mother's terrified face was turned on her.
Irene had somehow put that look of horror on the face of the woman who gave birth to her.
Her mouth was moving but Irene only heard her own heartbeat, the blood pumped fast as she stared transfixed at eyes so alike her own.
So afraid of her.
Why? What did she do?
That's when something hit her.
The pain snapped her out of her trance.
Her hand rose to touch her forehead, she winced as soon as her fingers made contact with the source of the pain, it was a scrape.
Irene looked down at the rock that caused the cut and then back up at her mother.
She was slow at piecing it together.
That the rock came from the woman before her, when she did, she could suddenly hear sounds again and it all came rushing in.
The little girl wasn't at all prepared.
"M-monster! How could I have given birth to a monster!?"
Agony, unlike any Irene knew before hit her with those words but she didn't stop there, the woman grabbed another rock as if to protect herself, "NO! You're not my daughter… that's right, you're not… my daughter's dead."
A crazed glint appeared in her eyes, the ones that had held fear now had a touch of madness, "That's it… you're a monster with her face."
Irene didn't want to hear any more.
As her mother stood, she turned and fled.
Even though she wished to hear no more she did, "Murderer! Monster!"
It was the last thing she heard her mother say as she ran away from the place she once called home.
Irene ran. She ran from the village, the blood, the bodies, the fire, but mostly from her mother.
Her thin nightgown wasn't meant for the outdoors so it didn't help against the wind or the trees. Branches cut and slapped her painfully leaving cuts and welts as she ran. She didn't pay it any mind.
Neither did she notice her bare feet. Not even as she stepped on sharp rocks and twigs that cut into her skin and made her bleed. The pain didn't register and it certainly did not stop her, the girl only knew that she had to get away.
Irene didn't know where she was going but even so she ran and ran until she couldn't any longer.
Then she collapsed in a heap, the young witch didn't know if she had tripped or if her legs had given out. Maybe she just had used up all her energy and couldn't physically keep going.
She didn't care what the reason was.
The child simply curled her wounded body into a ball and cried herself to sleep on the hard forest floor.
Once more she dreamt.
And for the first time, she wished the dream life was her real one. There was no blood in her dreams. And her mother was just confused by her magic but not scared. Never scared.
Her 'dream' mother loved her. Her 'dream' father was alive. She was magical but her parents didn't believe in magic, that was fine though because they told her she was loved.
After waking she cried for the family she lost, she didn't know if it was for Irene's family or Hermione's. Eventually she pulled her sore and exhausted body up and started to wander.
She wondered for what felt like a long time.
Irene didn't know how long but the sun set and rose more than once. How many times she wasn't sure as she didn't bother to count.
Her feet made for a slow journey as they were hurting with every step from the cuts. The girl found water at one point and drank some before she submerged her bloody feet into it. It was cold but it made them look cleaner at least until she started walking again. Then they got muddy from being wet and the dirt inside of her cuts was painful.
She found some berries at one point a day or so later but there must've been something wrong with them because she threw them right back up.
After that, she was thirstier but not willing to try and eat anything else.
Sitting down to rest her feet Irene cried.
She was really truly alone and lost in the woods. She didn't like it.
Her only companions became loneliness, pain, hunger, thirst, and the cold.
Irene was smart enough to know that if she kept on like this that she wouldn't make it, but the girl didn't know what to do about it.
So she continued on in a daze until she ran into a traveling group of people kind enough to take her in.
They quickly noted that she had a fever even if she denied it, after all, she was cold, not hot.
The people she found out when she awoke were druids.
And to her shock, they weren't evil.
"I thought…" The old woman patted her head as she laid under the covers, "What did you think?"
"Magic… is evil?" The druid woman looked sad then before shaking her head, "No child, it is not."
"…Am I?" It was said so quietly as her eyes started to get heavy that she didn't think the woman heard her but she did, and she told her that she wasn't evil either.
That was the last thing she heard before finally getting some much-needed rest for the first time in days.
When Irene was awake, she found she wanted to believe in the druid woman's words but her mother's eyes kept tormenting her and made believing such a thing impossible.
Even if magic wasn't all evil, she still was.
Because she scared her mother.
Because she was a monster and a murder.
Irene was too afraid to admit to that aloud in case the peaceful druid people made her leave.
She didn't want to be alone again.
Mostly though the young with was just content to be clean and fed.
While she was sitting up having regained her strength enough to eat her stew on her own a younger woman one who had given her new clothes to wear asked, "What is your name child?"
She paused and looked down at the bowl in her lap and then back up at the woman. She was close to her mother's age but other than that fact the two shared no physical features not even in their coloring.
The woman waited patiently and didn't push the young girl for an answer.
Irene looked back to her soup and wondered why that seemed like such a hard question.
She was Irene. It was the name she knew well, one given to her by her parents. Her hands clutched at the bowl tightly with that thought. That was why when she opened her mouth and replied, "…Hermione."
Her answer didn't surprise her.
Irene was the name of a girl feared by her mother.
A girl that wasn't loved.
A monster and a murder.
Hermione, on the other hand, wasn't feared, she was loved and had never killed anyone as far as Irene knew.
That made the name feel right somehow.
It was like she was both starting anew and holding into something familiar at the same time.
"Well, that's a pretty name and one I can't say I have ever heard before." The druid smiled kindly and Hermione almost said her mother got it from a Shakespeare play but stopped herself as the young girl couldn't recall exactly what that was.
It was like a fragment of a memory from a dream that was just out of reach.
Instead, Hermione smiled faintly and thanked the woman before she went back to eating her dinner.
The next couple of years weren't always easy but she wasn't alone anymore. She learned many things from the women in the druid camp, she liked the way they thought.
Hermione was even starting to believe that having magic didn't automatically make her evil. Once she accepted that and reviled herself to have magic, they started to teach her more about it.
The witch quickly found out that they knew about her magic already as some of them could feel it, sense it. The reason they had not told her was that they didn't want to rush her into accepting her magic. It was something she needed to do on her own.
Then when Hermione turned eleven in this life, she dreamt about getting her Hogwarts letter and a kind but strict older woman telling her that she was a witch.
Hermione was now more than ever convinced that she was somehow both Hermione Granger and Irene. Her dreams although strangely otherworldly had happened she was sure of it.
Once Hermione accepted this her memory only became more vivid but she still only had memories of the age that she currently was so her past life was slowly unraveling itself as the young witch grew.
Just before her twelfth year, the small druid group that had become a family to her joined with another slightly larger group of druids. This was the first time in years that she had seen another child.
She was curious and excited.
His name was Mordred.
He was a telepath.
He quickly became her best friend.
Author's Note: Some things not clear in this chapter will be touched upon more in the future. The next few chapters will slow down and won't be skipping as much time as this one did. Also, in the next chapter, Hermione and Mordred's friendship starts to blossom and another familiar face shows up! Review, maybe?