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“David, get me Narcissa Black. Barring that, Bellatrix Black will do,” Hermione Granger snapped with irritation. She hadn’t wanted to resort to calling the Black sisters. It felt unseemly for the head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation to need the kind of fixing and public relations help that only Narcissa and/or Bellatrix Black could provide.

The world had changed so much in the last decade. On the day the war ended that cloudy day in May, there was more that they didn’t yet know, than what they did know. When spells stopped being cast, they had finally begun the work of sorting out who were the good guys and who were the bad guys. Naturally, there were quite a few surprises. Dumbledore was never straight forward, Hermione was utterly unsurprised that they had not unraveled all his secrets while on the run. Narcissa’s involvement as a spy wasn’t that much of a shock when Hermione really considered it. She had always known that the blonde loved her son above all else. And she never had any doubt that the woman was brilliant. There was something about her eyes that screamed she read everything in the room, knew more than everyone else, and was just waiting to take someone down.

But when it came out that Bellatrix Fucking Black was an Unspeakable and serving as a mole, Hermione had dropped out of the sight of the public for 6 months. The woman who pinned her to the floor, tortured her and literally sliced shame into her skin was not the enemy. She had a hard time wrapping her mind around the story and identity she had built up in her mind of who Bellatrix was... couldn’t possibly be the truth. And then there was the sheer trauma of having been at war since she was 11. Hermione was sorry (even at the time) for leaving Harry and Ron to their own devices in those few months. By the time she was withdrawing from the wizarding world, the boys were already actively working as aurors. She trusted they would be well cared for by the new ministry and she could take the time she needed.

For 6 months, Hermione lived in a small apartment near Hyde Park in muggle London. She locked her wand in a drawer and didn’t keep an owl. She had told only Minerva the details of where she was. She hadn’t set a time limit for how long she would be gone, but she wanted her mentor to know she was safe. She filled her days with books, coffee and frequent trips to a muggle psychologist. She lived through the worst of those days on her own sorting through the damage the war did to her. She knew in her gut that she could not hold the war against those that helped end it. She came to peace, a healthy peace over what happened in the war. She came to accept her scars, physical and mental. Her doctor helped her sort through the ideas that the people who hurt her could not be entirely evil if they helped bring down Voldemort. She learned meditation and self care.

But most of all, Hermione let go of the girl that she once was. The girl that was awed at The History of Hogwarts was fundamentally changed the moment she took her parent’s memories and went on the hunt for horcruxes. She had surrendered her innocence, as she had to assume others had as well. Her hard fought peace did not mean that everything was sunshine and roses. She had painfully hard days, but with her work they were more spaced out and less frequent.

She more whole she felt, the more she remembered the ambitions that drove her before the war had. She was talented in charms, transfiguration, and anything else she turned her mind and wand to. She was plotting her return to the magical world, when a familiar tabby showed up on her doorstep. She opened the door with a smile and let the wizarding world back into her life. Minerva guided her through her education and helped her get her first job at the ministry.

Hermione climbed the ranks within the ministry exactly the way the media expected the “brightest witch of her age” to proceed. She traded on her intelligence, skill and reputation in equal measure. She won her position as head of the Department of International Magical Cooperation 5 years ago. She was an unprecedented success and yet she still wanted more. She wanted the Minister’s chair before her 30th birthday, but she was smart enough to know when she needed help.

In spite of her enlightenment, peace, and whatever else her doctor might call it, she really bloody hated that she needed the help of the Black Sisters.