It isn't until the whirlwind of holidays are over that they finally get a chance to go and complete their search for Tom. The magic needed to revive him is old and complicated and though Hermione itches to help and learn more about it, she also wants to just get this all right, so she leaves most of it up to Bellatrix.
The two of them work on this in secret, neither wanting to alert Dora or Luna to what is going on. It's a cold blistery January evening when they sneak out to go to Tom's grave, the materials they'll need tucked into a satchel slung across Bellatrix's shoulders.
First, the more gruesome part of this- digging up his grave. Luckily they had magic to do all the dirty work, Bellatrix instructing with her wand the motions of the shovel. The dirt piled up, at last revealing the coffin. Hermione's stomach churned with nerves, and she looked over at Bellatrix to make sure she was okay, that she wasn't having doubts or that she couldn't go through with this.
"Are you okay?" she asked when she couldn't read Bellatrix's face.
"I'm fine," was the gruff response. Bellatrix took a deep inhale and then opened the coffin with a wave of her wand.
They both stared in mute horror where Tom should be lying in the grave.
Nothing but dirt greeted them.
"Why is he not in his grave?" Bellatrix asked in a trembling voice. "Where is he?"
And Hermione, had no answer to that.
"What the absolute literal fuck-" Bellatrix began to rage in her confusion and anger.
"Hello, Bellatrix," a suave voice says behind them. Hermione's only ever heard the voice once in a memory that is not her own. But it's unmistakable. They both turn around and see Tom standing behind them. He looks normal, as if he hasn't just returned back from the dead.
"Tom," Bellatrix chokes out, with affection and longing for an old friend.
He smiles at her but they do not embrace. For all her joy, Bellatrix is cautious of this, as she should be. "What the hell is going on?" she demands, eyes teary.
His grin at her fades and he looks off to the horizon. "It's...a long story. And I think it's best we go somewhere warm so we can talk it out. If you'll follow me?" and he leads the way out of the graveyard. They follow him, mindful of their wands. Something is not adding up, but Hermione notices with startling clarity that the impending dread in her stomach is no longer there.
Something's snapped. And it has all to do with Tom. But why, and how, is the better question.
She turns to catch Bellatrix's eyes but they're focused on Tom, trying to discern any moves or harm he might bring to them. They follow him to an inn, Tom leading them to the back of the room. It's still open at this hour, with two people up front, slumped over their drinks. He makes them sit somewhere in the back. He takes the booth, they take the seats. He smiles at them, looking very much alive. He's a handsome man, with dimples in his cheeks and curly locks shorn short that drip down a bit into his brown eyes.
"How are you alive," blurts out of Hermione's mouth before she can stop herself. They haven't done the ritual yet. There is no way he could be. It makes no sense.
He gave a bit of a wry smile here, not answering her right away. "Bellatrix, I was hoping I could see you one last time before I had to go. But I could never quite figure out how to go about finding you, and speaking to you. People don't come back from the dead on their own."
"No, they don't," Bellatrix said, face pale. It looked like she still didn't know how to process this and Hermione held onto her hand under the table to bolster her.
His eyes shifted from them to the space around them, and when he deemed it safe, he leaned in, "Bellatrix, mind casting a privacy spell? What I have to say...stays between us all."
Bellatrix nodded her head tightly and did as asked. Then, Tom began to speak. "There are many things of concern to address, but I believe for you the most pressing matter that will have the most influence, is the fact of Apophis. When I died, I sacrificed myself for the good of this world. In that way, he was bound for a while longer, buying you all time. With me no longer dead, for at least a month now, you are running out of time, fast," he told them, and Hermione felt her stomach drop to the floor. This was not good. This was terrible. What could they do? But Tom wasn't done talking. "Another concerning factor, and I know this one will be hard to believe- I myself entirely forgot about it till my death jogged my memory. I remembered my mission, which was to come to your dimension and take back the artifacts that had been thrown away from my dimension."
He saw their blank stares and hurried to fill in, "I am an entity from another world. I'm not...exactly human like you are. To kill me takes more effort than just poison, though I can be killed. Apophis did me only a temporary harm and my death state was actually a state in which I was recovering. However, I did not know any of this, because when coming to this dimension of yours, it scrambled my memories along the way. Now that I remember, I need those objects you've been collecting. You see, in my dimension, different from yours, these objects are not malignant things. However, because of the magic in your world, it seems to have interfered negatively with the magic of my dimensional objects and they thus cause harm. They were thrown here by an enemy of my and I came to recover them. I merely want to take them back so they won't cause harm to your people anymore."
"So, you're not human," Bellatrix barked out, as soon as he was done.
"No," he said with a small chuckle. "I know this is a lot to take in. it's hard to even explain-"
He was right about that. Hermione felt flipped on her head. This was so much to take in.
"I've seen some weird shit in my decades working for the department," Bellatrix said gruffly. "This...at least makes some sense."
"I'm so glad you believe me, Bellatrix. I knew you would understand." He took her hand in his. Hermione's eyes were wide. Why the hell was Bellatrix believing him so readily? This all sounded like some contrived lie!
"I need to get my things back and go home. But, I also do want to help you with Apophis. I know my powers now. I can be of more use," Tom said, letting go of Bellatrix's hand. "But, I think you two might need some time to digest this- at least she does," Tom raised his brow at Hermione who was pale. He rose to his feet. "I'm ready whenever you are."
"I'm always ready," Bellatrix said with her usual assurances but allowed Tom to walk off. Hermione immediately opened up about what her thoughts were.
"He could be an agent of Apophis, sent to trick us-"
"It's him," Bellatrix said emotionlessly, like to feel was too much for her right now.
"How do you know-"
Sharply she looked at Hermione. "I know these things, Hermione. Just as I know that Blaise was not right the whole time. This is Tom. A bit different but still Tom. Tom who I thought was just a wizard but it actually so much more," she sighed out. "Besides, I am more than happy to be rid of all the artifact's in the world. It removes evil and pain...and that's a good thing. Why wouldn't we want that for this world? It's been our whole mission."
"But we'll be handing it over to him. He could use it to hurt others. To turn them against us-"
"You're not even listening to me!" Hermione shrilled out, annoyed by Bellatrix's stubbornness.
"You are a terrible judge of character," she said harshly. "If something was wrong with Tom I would have sniffed it out before. The fact that I didn't, meant he truly didn't know his own powers when he was working as my partner. That he had indeed forgotten them. And that only now he knows and wants to take back his toys to his world."
"His world," Hermione scoffed. "Other dimensions-"
"-do exist," Bellatrix filled in tiredly. "You work in the department of mysteries. Surely this is nothing weird by now."
Hermione thinned her lips, soured by this conversation. "This is too much, too quickly. We need time to think and regroup."
"We don't have the luxury for that. You heard Tom. He's been resurrected for a month now. Apophis could have done untold damages by now that we know nothing of!" she argued.
"And how is giving Tom his toys back help with anything? He'll leave and then we won't even have their power to utilize to help us."
Bellatrix paused at this, as if Hermione's words had reminded her of something. She slammed a fist into her hand. "Of course. The artifacts!" and then she apparated away.
"Fuck!" Hermione screamed out loudly. "Thanks for leaving me behind." But of course Bellatrix didn't hear her. She was gone.
Bellatrix didn't come back until later in the day when Hermione was in Grimmore Manor pacing around back and forth. "Where did you go to?!" she demanded angrily, rounding on her partner right away. Bellatrix answered with a wry smile.
"I went to the department and then I went to see Tom. You gave me an idea. A measure of hope, if you will," she declared and there was that usual maniac energy around her that usually signaled she was going to burst into action.
"Hope for what?" Hermione asked, confused.
"For the future."
Hermione didn't understand what Bellatrix meant. All she knew was that was scared. Taking down artifacts- those problems paled in comparison to what was going to happen anytime. Like a guillotine hanging over their heads, reminding them they were at it's mercy.
"This whole issue with Apophis, it's drawing to a head. What are we going to do about it?" Hermione asked in distress. She put her hands to her head. "I don't want to lose all this. I don't want to lose you."
"And you won't," Bellatrix said assuredly. Her eyes were dark, deep in thought. She was planning something. Something dangerous. Hermione didn't like this. Goosebumps erupted along her skin. "Bellatrix...tell me. What are you planning to do?"
Bellatrix set her jaw, looking very much like she wouldn't be honest, but she surprised both of them when she spoke. "This. I'm going to use this." She held out the pocket watch of Kronos.
Hermione's eyes went wide. "That's dangerous! We don't know how to control it- barely, and who knows what dangers time travel can do-"
"Tom told me about this watch. It can do much more than just time travel. It can shift through dimensions too. Other dimensions," she reported, looking at the object in her hand. It looked so ordinary like this, with the lid closed. But open it up and there was an eye there, ready and all seeing. "This eye can see into anywhere- during any time or part of history."
Hermione struggled for words; all she knew was that this was very dangerous. And she was worried. "So...so what? Are you going into the past or the future- what are you going to do with it?"
Bellatrix gave a twist of her lips. "I won't be alone. Tom will be with me. He'll help me out. One last mission as partners he said, right before he leaves." She pocketed the watch. Even carrying it like this was a risk, for it could become activated. But it had to be done. Soon she'd meet with Tom and all of this would be over.
It could have been over so much sooner had she only known. But maybe things were supposed to end up this way. "Stopping Apophis again, will only mean we are continuing the cycle. I want to end it, once and for all. And what better way to do that than to send Apophis into an empty dimension, one where he can no longer hurt anyone."
This idea was insane! And yet it also made so much sense.
"I want to go with you-"
"out of the question-"
"I'm your partner-"
"I don't want you hurt. Besides, this is my send off for Tom. I got him back and now he's leaving again. I just want one last thing with him," Bellatrix said roughly.
"And why can't I be there-"
"This is dangerous magic, Hermione," Bellatrix hissed out. "Tom can only control the watch enough for two people. Bringing you on would risk everything. Risk you," she stressed and shook her head. "Just drop it, please," she begged and Hermione bottled her words up. To argue now would do no difference. Bellatrix was set to do this; Hermione could not stop her. Should not stop her. After all, the plan should it reach fruition would benefit the world so much. And that was their jobs as detectives of the mysterious department. To save the world no matter what it took.
"When are you going?" Hermione just wants to know this one last thing.
"In an hour. Tom's getting everything ready," Bellatrix answered gruffily. If this was to be the last time they would see each other in who knows how long, then Hermione wanted to make the most of it. She took Bellatrix's hand in her own; it was shaking slightly.
"Come upstairs with me. Let's forget about this all for now."
Bellatrix wordlessly agreed with a soft kiss.
Hermione couldn't bare to see Bellatrix leave with Tom later that afternoon. She feared if she did she would break down and beg her not to go. That she would physically fight her to keep her safe and here. So she stayed in their room, among the rumpled sheets, naked skin shivering not from cold but from worry. Eventually she gets dressed and goes downstairs to see Dora there, staring blankly at her cup of tea. It's cold now. Turned to ice, much like Hermione's veins have.
"They left," Dora said, her hair a blue shade. Her eyes are watery and Hermione avoids looking at them otherwise her own will water too. "She's so reckless- we don't even know if we can trust Tom. And they barely planned anything and-"
"I know," Hermione says roughly, looking out the window. "We just have to hope for the best."
"Did she say when she would be back?"
Hermione shakes her head no. They won't even have the luxury of knowing when to stop worrying.
A week passes. Then two. Hermione stills goes to the office, does her paperwork, then leaves. Things feel normal. Except their not. Bellatrix's cluttered desk is without her, and Dora can be spotted staring at it too, both her and Hermione deep in worry. Kingsley pops in once or twice to check on morale. But he never comments; if he knows anything about Bellatrix he doesn't mention it.
Luna is busy packing up all the artifacts for Tom. They can't be happier to be rid of them. Certainly it's not all of them. The department knows a few are still out there, floating around.
It's on the third week, when Hermione is seriously contemplating somehow finding a way to cross dimensions herself and find Bellatrix that there's a loud crash. She jolts up from her seat and finds that one of their walls is partially busted in because of two bodies. Tom's and Bellatrix's.
They look a little bit worse for the wear, bags under their eyes, old blood stains on their clothing. But they're alive most importantly. Hermione runs up to them, Tom holding out a hand to stop Hermione.
"She's hurt. You'll startle her."
"Hurt where!" Hermione exclaims as Tom holds Bellatrix up to him.
"Nothing serious. Some debris got her. She'll heal," he reports, lugging her to her desk. Dora and Luna are there as he sits Bellatrix down on her chair gingerly.
"Miss me?" she asks and they all let out relieved sighs.
"What happened?" Luna questions as Tom pulls up Bellatrix's shirt to reveal a piece of metal sticking out. Instead of taking out his wand, he lifts his hands and presses them to the wound. Bellatrix hisses in between her teeth when he yanks the metal out with no warning, and then heals the wound with blue light.
"Took us a while to track the bastard down. Then we had to trick him, activate the watch and leave him in an empty dimension before booking it out of there. Had a bit of a tussle with him, but Tom held him off. Did you know Tom's some sort of fucking immortal being?"
Tom gets up from where he had been kneeling by her, bloodied metal in his hands. "I wouldn't say that. I did die once. Kind of."
"We have got to learn your magic," she grumbled out, eyes fluttering with tiredness.
"I'll fetch you both some potions to help revive you," Dora said, smiling brightly. She too was holding herself back from a hug, instead racing off.
"I'll notify Kingsley. If Apophis is indeed gone..." she trailed off, hurrying away.
"So...you did it," Hermione said softly.
"Couldn't have done it without you putting that idea in my head," Bellatrix grunted out. "And without Tom's help."
"It was the least I could do. After all, you all so kindly collected my objects for me. Makes it much easier to bring them back. And speaking of bringing them back, I think I must take my leave."
Bellatrix frowned. "So soon?"
"I've already been gone for too long. This was supposed to be a simple mission."
"Before you leave, I have some questions," Kingsley said, arriving from his usual spot in the wall.
Tom, Bellatrix and Kingsley spent the better part of three hours talking. Hermione was just happy Bellatrix was back. She had worried so much. Every horrible possible scenario had taken root in her mind. And she was fine. The world was fine.
It was all saved. Bellatrix truly was a hero.
Dora dropped some tea off for Hermione to drink, to help steady her nerves. She gave her a smile in return.
The rest of the day was a blur, everyone working together to help get Tom ready to leave. They barely had time to talk about how Apophis was locked up. But Hermione figured with Bellatrix finally safe, they would have all the time in the world.
At long last, Tom was ready to go back to his world; despite not knowing him well, Hermione felt sad on Bellatrix behalf. He was her partner, and she'd only gotten him back after trying for so long to bring him back.
He seemed sad to be leaving too, but he had no choice but to do so.
"Keep this," he digs around in one of the crates and plops down a crystal ball. The fog inside swirls. "This can communicate between long distances, no matter how far. It's part of a set; I'll keep the other half so we can talk to each other. Spares me the journey to your world and the potential memory loss, while also allowing us to know if there are any other loose artifacts I've missed."
"And how will we send them to you?" Luna asked.
"You're smart," he tapped his temple. "You'll figure it out."
"How are you even heading back, especially with all this cargo?" Dora pointed at all the crates around him. He dug into his overcoat, pulling out what looked like a slim black remote. "Transporter. Only charged up enough for a two way trip. I was only supposed to get in and get out but..." he shrugged at this.
"I'm going to miss you," Bellatrix told him, affection in her eyes.
"You were a damned good partner. Thank you," he told her.
"It was nice to meet you," Hermione added, because he had kept Bellatrix safe during their mission and that was all that mattered.
"Nice to meet you too," he told her with a gentle smile.
"Good luck," Kingsley said and they all stepped back as Tom stood in the middle of all the boxes and pressed a button. He and the objects shone blue before they disappeared in a zap. And just like that, Tom was gone to his world, along with his objects.
"What are we going to do now?" Luna asked in the silence of the department. It felt so empty without all the usual trinkets. Felt so changed now.
Kingsley let out a loud sigh. "It seems we'll have no more purpose for this department," he said rubbing his chin. "We have no artifacts to look over; any others we find can be dealt with on a freelance schedule rather than needing full time detectives."
"Are you trying to tell us you're firing us," Bellatrix said with some humor.
"Not firing...just going to relocate. Send me any positions in the ministry you might be interested in and I'll find you a placement," he told them. "Honestly, I never expected things to end like this. So peacefully. I was sure we were going down in a blaze."
"Of glory?" Dora questioned.
"Of chaos," he supplied.
"There's still agents of Apophis left over in the ministry. I don't suppose you need someone with the skill and tact to take them out?" Bellatrix asked, arching up a brow.
"I do. An Apophis assassin. I like the sound of that," he said, rubbing his chin. Then he clapped his hands. "Rest of you deserve a nice break. Really, no rush in picking up new jobs. Take a vacation even, if you want. I must leave now. Loose ends to tie up," he said and then went to his office door. H stepped inside and the door vanished, taking him back to his real office.
"I can't believe...it's all over," Hermione breathed out. She'd entered this world of magic and mystery two years ago. She'd expected it to last for a long time, to be on the force for decades. And yet, it was all over.
"It's never truly over," Bellatrix hummed as she picked up the crystal orb, their way of contacting Tom. "There's always something to do. Some evil to fight." She narrowed her eyes as if trying to see if she could make him out. "I doubt we'll be bored for long." She set the orb down. "Do you know where you want to transfer to?"
"Honestly, I have no idea. I just know I can't go back to the muggle world," Hermione said.
"We could take a vacation," Bellatrix offered.
"Where?" because it did sound appealing.
"With you? Anywhere."
They take a three month vacation in Greece, enjoying the sights, the culture, and the food. They are in no rush to come back, just taking every moment to indulge in the fact that their time is no longer measured by an impending disaster. The world is saved from a danger it never even knew of.
But such was the work of the department detectives; never known and completed from the shadows.
"You still set on taking out those Apophis agents?" Hermione asked when they came back to Grimmore manor.
"Someone has to do it. And what better person than me?" Bellatrix said. "Did you finalize your decision with the department of magical creatures?"
"I can't believe you want to work there," Bellatrix said with a scoff. "You'll be chasing down newts and shoveling Griffon shit most likely."
"I'd like to learn more about them," Hermione said with a shrug. "I wonder how Dora and Luna are doing. Haven't gotten an owl back from them yet."
Luna had gone on to do intelligence work for the ministry. All very top secret. They knew nothing of her job except that she was good at it. And Dora had gone on to become an auror. It had always been her dream to be one; she'd never had the courage to go through with it. She did now and against her parents wishes too. But she said she wanted to be like her bad ass aunt, taking down incomprehensible evils.
"I think they're doing just fine," Bellatrix said as she set her luggage down.
"I'm glad," Hermione said with a soft sigh, drawing back the curtains to look on the green landscape that stretched beyond. The sky was a soft blue. Bellatrix went to stand behind her, putting her chin on her shoulder. "The world has been quiet."
Tom had settled back down in his world, and there hadn't been a single peep of an artifact in their world. Apophis too seemed to be permanently rid of, unable to escape his prison. And the watch of Kronos remained in their world, locked up behind many vault doors and wards. It was there, just in case. Hopefully, they would never need to use it.
"Yes, quiet," Bellatrix hummed. "And for once, I think I enjoy it this way."