Big REWRITE 2/23/2022
Hermione was on a ten-hour direct flight from London to Seattle, Washington. Followed by a twenty-five-minute flight to Port Angeles, where her uncle would be picking her up.
Death filled the air of Britain now.
Thick and potent.
The Daily Prophet seemed to have a new burial announcement posted on the bottom of the front page every day. So many burials had been pushed back for months, and too many dead; families having to wait to have a proper farewell ceremony because of it.
Hogwarts was still being pieced back together – the ancient magic from the founders being far trickier, making the reconstruction of the school take longer than previously expected. Hermione, along with so many others, had pitched in their time and magic over the last five months. The majority of damage having been repaired now; thank Merlin for that. Only the more delicate details were currently being worked on within and outside the castle walls. Luckily, she and Ron had talked Harry out of deposing the Elder wand as he had initially wanted following the final battle. It belonged with Dumbledore, and that's where it would go back to, for its final resting place – the three of them being the only ones that knew what power that wand actually had, besides Olivander, but he still had no idea the wand existed outside the fairytale of it. It gave them comfort that it would be safe being back with Albus Dumbledore. But before that, with a little convincing from her, Harry had agreed to use it to help with the repairs Hogwarts needed. The old wand helping to get the castle's structure and magical core back in order. With the Elder wand and hundreds of other witches and wizards, magic from both young and old, aiding all as one – they hoped it would surpass, or at least match the power of the four Hogwarts Founders, making the castle's foundation stronger than ever.
The school was still closed, but was scheduled to reopen once the winter holidays concluded.
Students were currently doing home study and coming into Diagon Alley twice a week to meet with Professors to turn in homework and have in-person lectures at the banquet center. Those who couldn't make it, had to have their homework turned in by owl post the morning of the meet-ups and no later; otherwise, it was marked as a incomplete. Hermione had been participating with some of her former seventh-year classmates, who had yet to sit their final N.E.W.T exam during the summer. She wanted to ensure she got the fullest education experience before sitting her exams, which was no shock to anyone who knew her.
But after getting the news from multiple mind healers – being informed the memory charms she had placed on her parents most likely couldn't be reversed, she slowed down a bit with the school studies, instead diving into memory charms, picking out every memory charm and mind healing book she could find, desperate to find a reverse to her advance oblivation charm. Hermione had known that it was a risk when she had obliviated all their memories of her and of their lives as Frank and Helen Granger. But she had still hoped, as silly as that was, that there'd be a way – and if not – she'd be able to find one.
And life decided to keep kicking her when she was already down, the healers also informing her that the tremors she was still experiencing from the Cruciatus curse, could last for years to come. Possibly even never truly subside.
Magic and potions could only do so much for the body when it comes to long lasting physical trauma. Only time would tell if the tremors would ever stop from Bellatrix's torture fun with her. Their advice was for Hermione to take a break from magic for four to six months in order to rest her magical core, saying that continue used of magic could be triggering more tremors, adding to a slower recovery rate. It would then be re-evaluated to see if this magic detox had helped. It was a medical experiment that the Healers at St Mungo's told her was no guarantee, but still, it was something Hermione was willing to give a go.
After receiving the diagnose for both issues, Hermione had sat down with the now Headmistress McGonagall and Minster Kingsley. It was agreed upon that she needed to take a break from the Wizarding world. Hermione had refused at first... , the Wizarding World was her home and what she had known for the last seven years – spending less time in the Muggle world with each passing year.
However, she was overruled by the two.
Both had insisted that Hermione needed to start looking after her own mental and physical health, making it a top priority instead of a side note. She needed this before it became a larger and more serious issue in the future that couldn't be fixed.
Harry and Ron were doing the same.
Not taking a break from magic, but just a break overall.
She, Harry, and Ron had spent most of the first month back from fighting and running, mainly sleeping and eating – the three slowly putting back on some of the weight they had lost while on the run. Food portions had run out within the first few months during their hunt, and knowing that Harry and Ron needed more food then she to keep going, Hermione had divide up more of her portions to give to them – not that either of them knew that, of course. She still was five to eight pounds down from her weight the previous summer, her body still trying to regulate itself back to normal. When the trio wasn't resting, they were at Hogwarts, helping with rebuild, and when they weren't at Hogwarts, they were helping others get released from many had been wrongfully imprisoned under Voldermort's control, all for either being muggleborn; half-blood; or a 'blood traitor'.
That took its own personal mental tow on Hermione. Here she was, the current most famous muggleborn witch in all of Britain. She had been free that whole year, whereas others were locked away for simply just living. It just simply was not fair.
Harry had gotten Grimmauld Place cleaned and fixed up over the summer, using his inheritance to hire highly skilled professionals to get the old home up to par, once and for all. He was taking full refuge there, giving her and Ron their own dedicated bedrooms – hers being the bedroom nearest to the Black private library. She was beyond grateful to Harry for the invention and silent declaration that this was her home now as well. She had returned to her childhood home with Harry one evening, following the first week the war ended, going back to the posh Hampstead suburb that lay on the edge of London. The two of them watching with a broken heart, seeing a new family with three young children, now living in the former Granger residence. Her parents had sold the four-bedroom, three-half-bathroom home in a quick all cash sale, as Wendell and Monica Wilkins – the childless couple moving to Australia within a week of her obliviating their memories.
Ron had spent most days with them, as always, the three of them were each other's support system. Every few days out, Ginny would tag along to spend time with Harry or study with Hermione, as she was also working to finish her final year. The siblings always went back home to the Burrow every night – and understandably so. Both Weasley children wanting to be close to their remaining family members after having been separated for so long. All of them living with the constant fear that one of them would be gone – killed – before they could all reunite and be together one last time as a family. Fred's death had a lasting effect, reminding them every day how fragile and precious life truly was.
The war left scars on everyone. Harry had been labeled Undesirable No. 1 under Voldermort's rule, she as Undesirable No. 2, and Ron as No. 3... Tracking down the Horcruxes was the most challenging thing she had ever endured in her life. Being out in the wilderness on their own, hiding from snatchers and death eaters, and living in and out of a tent with only scraps of food to spare. It was taxing on the body. Then with Malfoy Manor and the final battle at Hogwarts – seeing classmates fall, fighting to defend their school, and the simple right to exist!
Hermione finally buckled, she did need this.
Just a little time away.
Enough to heal, and then come back – better and stronger than ever.
So now, here she was, heading to Forks, Washington.
Forks would make a fresh start in a small muggle town. A tiny town with no magic or supernatural around for hundreds of miles! The perfect place where she could properly detox and take a break from all the craziness that became what she viewed as normal. The added bonus was that she'd be able to spend time with her uncle, who she had not seen since the summer before her fifth year – and even then, that was only brief before she was whisked off to Grimmauld Place Number Twelve.
When Hermione had made the international call from a muggle London phone booth last week – Uncle Charlie was shocked, to say the least. But, he certainly wasn't about to deny his niece a place to stay. Once Charlie told her she was more than welcome to stay, he immediately began asking questions about her parents. Why he hadn't heard back from them in months... she had assured him they were all right and that she'd explain everything more in detail once they were face to face.
Hermione felt horrible that he had been in the dark for the last year.
He knew about her magic and bits and pieces of the Wizarding world, with him being a close family member. Her mother was Charlie's older sister by one year. The two had always been close to one another throughout their lives. Always keeping in contact with long bi-weekly phone calls and emails. Hermione felt even worse, knowing that the silence from his family must have hurt deeply for him. Especially with Bella – her only cousin – not being a huge presence in his life, her living in Arizona with her aunt.
Hermione sighed as her thoughts were interrupted by the pilot announcing they would be arriving in Seattle shortly and to buckle up to prepare for landing. After the plane landed, she quickly un-boarded the international flight, walking to customs and going through the security that all international passengers had to go through before entering the airport's domestic portion, hurrying to her connection-plane gate, where her tiny connecting flight to Port Angeles was scheduled to board and depart in thirty minutes.
An hour later, Hermione finally made it to Port Angeles.
Once landed and exiting the small aircraft, Hermione made a quick pit-stop to the ladies' room, gulping down a quick pepper up potion and cleansing/refresher potion before exiting the restroom and following the few signs in the terminal that directed her to baggage claim, where she knew her uncle would be waiting.
"Uncle Charlie!" Hermione called out excitedly, momentarily forgetting about everything horrible and tragic as she rushed over to him, quickly collapsing into his waiting arms.
Charlie had never been one for the lovey-dovey stuff. Even when she was a young child with Bella around, he always seemed to be a bit awkward when he would try to show that kind of emotion – but that is what made him all the more 'Charlie' and her uncle! He and her mother were the polar opposites regarding physical contact and expressing feelings for others. Which made it all the more hilarious for those that knew the family and the two siblings.
"I've missed ya, kid!" Charlie muffled out, his face resting on the top of her head as the teen clung to him. "Look at ya 'Mione, all grown up!" Charlie said with a sigh, letting her go, leaving a hand on her shoulder. "It's been a while, hasn't it?"
"Yes, it has..." Hermione smiled in agreement, giving him another one-armed hug.
"Well, let's get your stuff from the baggage belt, and then we can get going." He reached over, taking the book bag which was slung over her shoulder, insisting on carrying it himself. "We can either stop at the diner for a burger or grab some pizza for pick up and eat back at the house? Sound good, kiddo?" He said, nudging her in the shoulder, trying to get her to break the shell that he could already see she had formed from whatever had happened in that magic world of her's.
Hermione tried smiling a smile that would reach her eyes, but she knew she failed miserably when a slight frown started to tug at Charlie's lips.
She sighed, knowing she'd soon have to tell him.
After getting everything situated at baggage claim, picking up her single suitcase, which, of course, had an undetectable extension charm on it, just like her trusted beaded bag that was tucked in her backpack, to avoid the muggle security scanners. The pair made their way towards the lone 'Forks Police' cruiser parked in the pickup section of the airport. Once in the car, Charlie sighed deeply, turning to face his niece in question.
Hermione glanced at her uncle with sad eyes, looking back down at her lap momentarily, feeling her Gryffindor courage begin to slip. She was scared of his reaction, knowing it was her fault his little sister no longer knew who he was. "Remember how I told you about my best friend Harry? How a dark wizard had killed his family, as well as trying to kill him when he was just a baby?"
Charlie nodded, his mouth pulled tight, "Yea, Helen had mentioned he was like the wizard version of Hitler. I remember she and Frank wondering if they should pull you out from that school because of he and others who think like him. Them not liking that you came from a non-magic family, right?" He paused, "But I thought he was dead?"
"Well, he wasn't actually gone as most had been led to believe." She sighed. "He didn't have a body for a while there – at least not a normal human-looking one." Frowning, Hermione realized just how left out of the loop she had kept her parents and uncle. "He physically came back in my fourth year." That was the year when everything began changing – things becoming darker with the death of Cedric Diggory. She remembered thinking after his murder that the years of them getting out lucky – with only a few bumps and scraps were coming to a quick end. "After that, things began to get worse each year in the Wizarding world. And last year, the summer before my seventh, Voldemort officially took over the Ministry –"
" – Now hang on there, 'Mione." Charlie interrupted, lifting his hand with a halt. "Why didn't your mother ever mention this to me over the phone?"
"She didn't tell you because she and dad never got to find out for themselves..." Hermione's stomach was turning. "We were going into war, that much was obvious – and with mum and dad being muggles, I had to do something to try and keep them safe. I knew that if I told them what was going on, there'd be no way they would leave home or me for their safety..." Hermione swallowed hard. The sane 'a frog stuck in one's throat' never felt more accurate as it did now. "So, I did the only thing I could think of to keep them safe." It's been over a year, and she was still second-guessing her decision – wondering if she did what was right. Harry had assured her so many times while they were on the run, saying she had done what was best under the circumstances, but she still had her doubts. "I was hoping that mum and dad wouldn't be found by doing so, and that this would guarantee their safety."
Hermione could see Charlie close his eyes before squaring his shoulders, not liking where this was going, "They still alive?"
"Yes." She firmly nodded. "But they no longer have any memories or knowledge that they have a daughter..." Hermione paused, taking a deep breath, "Or of anyone else in the family."
Charlie held his breath, not sure what to think or feel. "How?"
Her eyes began to sting, tears already building up, "I modified their memories, creating new ones in their place. As well as providing new supporting muggle documents that replicated their original legal ones. Instead of Frank and Helen Granger, they now believed themselves to be Wendell and Monica Wilkins."
Charlie grimaced at the new names. "Really?" His voice was flat and dry. "Wendell Wilkins?"
Hermione couldn't stop her gurgled laugh.
It really was a horrendous name combination.
Ron, too, had commented on it, questioning if she had been sneaking into her dad's liquor cabinet when she picked the names and details.
"Yes," her muffled cry laugh dying down. "They are now living out their lifelong Wilkins' dream in Australia. Opening a new dental practice in the heart of Sydney – selling the two practices in London and the family home." She sighed. "By doing so, this eliminated all ties they had in England..., and in retrospect, to me."
Hermione hated what she had done. But things had moved so quickly after the closing of her sixth year – Dumbledore's death having sped things up drastically. And as much as she had always been praised for her quick on-the-spot thinking while in a pinch, this time – every plan or option she had thought up for her parents, never felt as if they were enough. "This got them far away from Britain and the dangers that could have fallen onto them because of me. And Australia kept them away from America, which in turn, would have kept you, Bella, and Aunt Renée safe in case Death Eaters came looking for them."
They sat in the police cruiser outside the airport for the next hour. Hermione explained everything she could about her parent's new life and any theories or ideas on how to reverse her complicated spell-work on their memories. Both she and Charlie had shed a few tears as she explained that she couldn't reverse the spell as of now, but that she was not going to give up on finding a solution to do so. There was hope in Hermione's eyes that she could figure this out. She had figured out so many other mind-puzzling things in the Wizarding World that fully grown witches and wizards who were experts, hadn't been able to figured out before her!
As afternoon turned into early evening, Charlie finally put the car into gear, driving out of the airport parking lot, only after he had stepped out of the cruiser to head back inside the airport claiming to be in need of the restroom... He needing a quick breather, breathing in the crisp late September air, it helping to calm his nerves going and coming from the airport entrance. He would push his emotions to the side till he was in a more private place to properly grieve and come to terms with it all.
He didn't need Hermione seeing him like that.
Charlie refused to add to her guilt.
As they began the one-hour drive back to Forks, it was quiet for the first ten minutes before Charlie continued asking for more details. He needed more info about what her previous year looked like.
Hermione briefly described the torture she went under and how there were lasting effects from it before quickly moving on to the battle at Hogwarts where Harry finally killed Voldemort for good this time. Charlie had difficulty comprehending how grown adults could attack a school full of innocent children and have no remorse for doing so. But then again, he had to remember that Helen did describe the leader as the Hitler wizard of that world. Which in turn, meant his followers were the Nazis of it. And from what he remember in the TV documentaries he watched on the History Channel a few years back, some Nazis where brainwashed into believing Hitler's cause, or were forced into being a Nazi against their will or out of fear for them and their families life's. Charlie could only hope that was the case for some of these dark followers – not that it made it right by any means...
Twenty minutes out from Forks, Charlie called from his cell, ordering them two large pizzas and a bag of breadsticks from the local pizzeria next door to the diner. Both the diner and the pizzeria were still open for inside dining for another hour still – they had made great time in the drive, but neither he or she wanted to interact with anyone besides one another after the conversation that had taken place. Charlie had sped most of the way. He didn't even realize he was going twenty over the limit most of the way back, and Hermione had no heart to mention it to him – not that it mattered, since they were in a police cruiser and Charlie was the Chief of Police when it came to the county Forks was located in...
He was not mad for what she had to do.
And he wanted it to be clear to Hermione, that he wasn't upset with her decision.
Helen and Frank were still alive – even if they couldn't remember their family and friends, they were still alive. And them being alive was enough for Charlie at the moment.
He may not win Father of year when it came to Bella, much to his disliking. But he would do his best to be there for his sister's daughter! Hermione clearly needed him and as well as his reassurance that she had made the right choice regarding her parents. He understood that when it came down to it. Hermione was only trying to keep everyone in the family safe from the evil in her world.
It broke his heart. No eighteen-year-old should have to make such drastic life decisions as she and her friends have had to make. The three of them shouldn't have had the weight of the world on their shoulder like they had.
Maybe he should give Bells a call and see if she'd like to come to visit soon. She hadn't been to Forks in a few years now and hadn't seen Hermione since the two of them were fourteen... Maybe Bells would be more likely to visit, knowing her best friend was back on this side of the Atlantic? And maybe seeing Bella, it would help Hermione with the healing process?
Charlie sighed as he waited inside the local pizzeria, as LeAnne went back into the kitchen to grab their pizzas and breadsticks. He had a lot to think about and process. Was he to treat it as if his sister and brother-in-law were now dead, or was he to treat it as if they were only missing?
"Here ya go, Charlie!" LeAnne handed over the two pizza's and bag of breadsticks, along with a pack of beer, and a large soda that both Hermione and Bella had always favored when they ate pizza as children. "Is that little Bella I see out there in the cruiser?"
"Nope," Charlie hummed, "That'd be little Hermione out there."
LeAnne gasped, "Does that mean Helen and Frankie are visiting as well then?"
"No, 'fraid not LeAnne," Charlie's voice sank, clearing his throat with a fake cough before he continued, "Just Hermione this go around."
LeAnne pouted for a moment. She and Helen were from the same friend group when they were kids growing up. LeAnne always loved catching up with Helen when she and her family came and visited from England every other year. She wistfully lived through her old friend as she talked about her posh London life, always dreaming about how she'd get enough saved up to travel Europe one day.
"Well, that's a shame they aren't, but it must be great to have Hermione visiting! Did you just pick her up from the airport?"
Charlie nodded, fishing two twenties and a ten from his wallet. "Yep, direct flight from London to Seattle and then connecting flight to Port Angeles... Long travel day for her, with crappy airplane food and little sleep, I'm sure."
"Poor thing must be tired after a long day like that! Is she here for long?"
Charlie paused, thinking on the spot, "Hmm..., Helen and Frank are setting up another practice in Australia at the moment. And 'Mione didn't want to move out there, she insisted on coming to Forks to finish her last two years of school before college."
"Oh, wow!" LeAnne laughed, excitement filling her round face, "First England, now Australia! Helen sure knows how to keep the adventure going!"
Charlie awkwardly laughed in agreement, "Ha, that's Helen for ya..., always looking for a new adventure to dive into."
"Well," LeAnne shrugged good-naturedly, taking the three bills from Charlie's outstretched hand, placing them in the cash register while handing back three singles in change. "Maybe with Hermione here to finish school, Bella will be tempted to come back as well? Those two were always attached to the hip when they were little!"
Charlie couldn't help but grin at that. He knew it was wishful thinking to get both of his girls back here in Forks for the long term, but it was a nice thought regardless. "Ah, I'm sure as tempting as that may be for Bella when she hears Hermione is here in Forks, Bells really hates the cold weather – just like her mom, she is." He chuckled, "It's like pulling teeth to get her out here, even in the summer months because of the rain," Charlie pushed the three singles he had gotten back into the tip jar next to the register, "To get her out here for the winter to live –" He snorted at the thought, "Now, that would be a full-blown miracle."
LeAnne smiled sweetly at Charlie. She knew he missed Bella more than he let on, "Well, crazier things have happened!"