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Well, it is Samhain

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Hermione nods to herself in the bathroom mirror as she finishes drying her hair with her wand. Right. Purified. Clean and…ready to go.

Ready to draw two souls through the veil and back to the other side. With her magic. Her body. She understands now. She’s the conduit.

But also the fuel. Like…like Andy and Narcissa are the flames, and she’s the fireplace. The wood. She provided the salt, the soap. As well as a strange combination of other plants and herbs, mixed into a paste. Taken from her kitchen and bathroom cabinets. Aloe for healing, protection, affection and grief. Chamomile for peace, patience, and the mental fortitude to overcome a great challenge. Mint for refreshment. To vitalise and renew.

Parsley, sage, rosemary and thyme. Not just a song. Or a seasoning. An old magic, passed down by wizards and muggles alike.

Parsley, to put an end to bitterness and melancholy. Sage, to bring wisdom and strength. Rosemary. An eternal love. And thyme. To find courage in the memory of happier times.

An ancient…recipe. A precursor to more advanced, heated potions using cauldrons. The magic found in nature. Now found in bathrooms, and kitchens, and gardens.

Blood magic. Life magic. Love magic.

The most powerful of all. And Hermione will guide it. Aid of the benevolent, freely offered, you will mend a broken heart.

A double meaning there, of course. Not just a figurative broken heart.

She’ll be bringing them back to life. Her magic. Directed through Andy and Narcissa.

With their wand movements and incantations of course. There’s no way they could do this wandlessly. Nonverbally.

She lowers her wand. Listens to the howl of the wind and the rain through the small gap in her bathroom window that never quite closes. Whistles. Sends her shivering in the draughty air.

Her hair’s dry. Nothing left to do.

She’s ready.

Pads her way along the landing to her bedroom. Makes sure to step over the line of salt without breaking it. Can’t have any unwelcome spirits stopping by. She doesn’t want to end up with a haunted house.

There.

And she’s met with a comforting warmth. And two heads that turn to look at her, stood on either side of the bed.

Hermione comes to stand at the foot of it. Takes her place. “Alright. I’m ready. Is…should we wait until midnight? The witching hour?”

Narcissa shakes her head. “They’ve already been waiting for far too long. We risk losing the connection if we postpone any longer.”

Okay. Then…

Hermione looks around for the herbal paste she mixed into a little bowl with her wand earlier.

Andy holds it up. Dips her thumb into it and swipes it over her own forehead. “Protego mentes” she murmurs.

Does the same for Tonks, moving her hair out of the way, and again muttering the incantation.

Then reaches out to Hermione with a soft smile.

Hermione leans her head forward. Closes her eyes and feels the cooling balm. Smelling mostly of mint and aloe. It overpowers the rest. “Protego mentes,” she says steadily. Offers to take the bowl. “Should I—”

Andromeda shakes her head, already reaching for Bellatrix. Leaning all the way over Tonks, and laughing to herself as she tries to get crazy curls to stay out of the way. “Protego mentes,” she smiles.

Gives Bellatrix a lot more than everyone else. Covers her forehead.

“Be careful not to use it all, Dromeda,” Narcissa hums, bending across and offering her own head. Gets a line of her own across her brow. “Protego mentes.”

Then smiles too. Takes the bowl.

Holds eye contact with Hermione, and unclasps the neck of her own robes, reaching under.

To spread over her heart. “Protego corda,” Narcissa smirks.

And she beckons to Hermione.

Is this another trick? Hermione really can’t do it herself?

No. Probably not. It’s Narcissa and Andy that have to do this. Hermione is just the guide. A touchstone.

She leans closer, keeping her feet firmly in place on the floor. No other way for it. And she’s not wearing her jumper anymore, but the top underneath doesn’t have any buttons. Narcissa will have to reach under. “Go ahead. But no wandering fingers,” she smiles. This oh so proper witch is actually very mischievous. She knows she’ll try something.

Narcissa holds her top open at the neck with one hand, and reaches under with the other. “Why, Miss Granger. Why would I ever do such a thing? This is a serious endeavour. I don’t mix business with pleasure.”

Again, Hermione isn’t buying it.

But feels a hand press to her heart. Holds back a shiver.

She waits for the mixture to warm. It’s supposed to be warm before—

“Protego corda,” Hermione says firmly.

And Narcissa moves on. Fingers back in the paste. Turns to Bellatrix and easily moves the quilt and her hair out of the way, pressing her hand just above her left breast. Simple. The dress is low cut. Easy access. “Protego corda.”

A lot of paste for Bellatrix that time, too. Guiding her heart. Or guarding it.

Andy tugs at Tonks’ top, stretching it down to make enough room. “Maybe you should have been head, and I should have been heart,” she ponders aloud. “Feels more fitting. But oh well. Come on. Dora’s turn.”

Narcissa doesn’t reply to that. But her expression does close off a bit as she reaches for Tonks. Carefully holds a hand to her heart. Waiting.

Hermione surreptitiously touches Narcissa’s other hand, where Andy can’t see. Squeezes reassuringly.

Because Narcissa has a heart. A bigger heart than people know. Even Hermione didn’t really notice before tonight.

Andy wears her heart on her sleeve, letting it shine through, a distraction from her actually very sharp mind.

Narcissa does the opposite. Sharp tongued. Concealed heart.

Heart and mind.

“Protego corda,” Narcissa murmurs. Squeezes back.

Then pulls away. Both hands.

Andromeda shrugs her robes aside. Robes tonight, probably for warmth in the storm, or because she was visiting the crypt. She normally wears more casual mugglewear. “Your hands had better be warm,” Andy teases Narcissa as she moves over the bed, keeping one foot on the floor but otherwise crawling forward. “I know what you’re like, Miss Icicle Fingers— ah! Was that a cooling charm?! Narcissa Black! No unnecessary magic! And it’s supposed to be warm.”

Narcissa raises an eyebrow, hand still under Andy’s clothes. “Oh dear. Accidental magic. You know how I am. Cold is second nature to me.”

Andy just rolls her eyes. Smiles fondly. “You hate the cold. Always have. Used to come running to my room every night in winter because the fire couldn’t be left unattended in the nursery. Warmed your little icicle feet on me.”

Really?

That’s so sweet.

Narcissa doesn’t reply. Doesn’t react.

Doesn’t deny it. Just holds her hand to her sister’s heart.

“Protego corda,” Andy whispers across at her. “There. All…all done.”

And everyone’s expressions turn serious now. Solemn. A quiet anxiety to the air, all eyes on the bed. On Tonks. And Bellatrix.

There’s a shared breath.

And then they all take up their positions. Feet firmly on the ground.

Hermione holds out her hands. One to Andy. One to Narcissa. Grasps their hands tightly.

No wand for her. She is the wand. Sort of.

“I, Hermione Jean Granger, freely offer my aid and the use of my magic to Narcissa and Andromeda Black ,” Hermione says steadily. Clearly. “I do so with compassion for their loss, and with the hope and belief that their dearly departed will return to them once more, in body, heart, and mind.”

And she hopes the wording is right. No loopholes. Calling upon her magic, with enough determination and will behind her words.

She does want them back. She does.

Even Bellatrix?

She shakes herself. Yes. Even Bellatrix. For Narcissa. No one deserves death. She’s never believed in…capital punishment. Death is never the solution.

Except with Voldemort. But there was a prophecy. It had to happen. They didn’t choose to go after him. He just kept coming after Harry and—

Oh!

Oh that feels strange! Like…like the humming of her wand when she casts a spell. Except she can feel it. In her arms. The magic being drawn through her arms.

But also entering. Magic dragging back and forth through her. Left to right and left to right. Surging and releasing. Pulsing.

She’s quickly becoming drunk with it. Woozy. The room seems to blur slightly at the edges, and it’s harder to focus on the words that Narcissa is chanting. That Andy is chanting. That Narcissa is—

She wobbles. It feels like the floor is tilting. She clings on. Hands…she can feel…they feel so nice. The magic. Trickling into her. Dripping…or spraying…or washing…she can’t explain…

She watches their wands. Smiles as they move in unison. It’s lucky that Narcissa is left-handed. She didn’t notice that either…before…

And…

Tonks. That’s Tonks. It will be so nice when she wakes up. She’s funny. Fun. She loves Tonks so much. Misses her. How she used to sing in the shower. But changed the song halfway through. Every time. And always knocked the bottles…

The baby bottles. Sippy cups thrown on the floor. She’d laugh at the sound. Uh oh!

And when she learnt to drive and—

Wait. Wait, that isn’t…

This way. Tonks, come this way. Dora! Dora, keep fighting! Come through! Come with—

Bella.

Oh…

And the tears spill down Hermione’s cheeks, over her lips as she smiles widely. She’s so happy. Can’t wait. Bella will come back, she just knows it. She will. They’ll all be together again…

Why has she stopped?

Hermione calls out. Over here! Please! Please, we’re coming to find you! We want you back! Come back!

And she’d better not dare leave them again. Bella needs to get her head on straight. What did she think she was doing, off hurting children? Tying herself to a Cause that was bloody bonkers?

No logic to it. No goal.

All that ambition wasted.

Come back and get it right! We’re waiting over here!

And Tonks.

Teddy. Oh please come and meet Teddy. He’s grown so much. But he still talks about his mum. He’s proud of her.

They still have pride. This is your family, Bella. Be proud.

Can’t she feel all the magic they’re projecting? The love? The force of it?

This is power. Follow us.

Cross over. Both of them. They both need to cross. Make that leap. Leap of faith.

Fall through the veil.

And we’ll catch you.

 


 

Hermione…can’t feel her knees.

Or her feet? Or her…everything is…

She’s sinking to the floor. Oh dear…

And she’s caught. Pulled back up.

“Hermione? Can you hear us? Sit on the bed. Come on. That’s it.”

Oh. Right. Bed.

She crawls onto it. Falls down. She’s probably a bit on top of Bella and Tonks, but they won’t mind…

“Hermione? Miss Granger…tell…hurt?...energy…”

Narcissa’s voice fades in…and out…and in…muffles…

And everything drifts into darkness.

 


 

Hermione bolts upright.

Shit! She fell asleep! What— where—

No no no fell asleep next to Bellatrix. Where’s her wand? Where’s—

“Ah. So the snoozing Saviour is finally awake.”

And at that, Hermione very quickly finds her wand. Raises it.

Points it at the witch leaning in the doorway.

The witch standing in the doorway. Alive in the doorway. Her back to the shadows, but edging into the light.

“Where are the others?” Hermione growls out. Ignores how her wand is trembling. And her voice.

Shaking. She’s shaking.

Bellatrix tilts her head to the side consideringly. Eyes her wand. “Making dinner. Or…breakfast. Midnight snack. We’ve all used a lot of energy tonight. Including you. I’d put down that wand, if I were you.”

Her…voice is different. What…why is…

Calmer. Softer. Lower.

Hermione…kind of wants to believe her.

“Why would I ever lower my wand in front of you?” Hermione whispers.

Shuffles to the edge of the bed. Slowly stands…

Clings onto the headboard. Her legs. She’s so weak. So—

Bellatrix huffs and comes into the room. Walks over. “Listen to me! Sit down! Did you fuck up your brain or something? No energy means weak. Means you shouldn’t be moving around. You need to wait for dinner.”

Hermione presses herself against the wall, knocking over and extinguishing the candles at her feet, skidding on the salt. “Stay back!” she shouts. “Don’t— where’s Andy? Where’s—”

“I shouldn’t have hurt you,” Bellatrix interrupts firmly. “You’re stronger than I thought. I made a mistake”

…what?

Bellatrix stalks closer. Doesn’t break eye contact. Her eyes are…

Just come closer and closer. Always so close. Always so—

She grabs Hermione’s shoulder. Pulls her to sit down on the edge of the bed.

Sits next to her. Searches her face. Almost hungrily. “You brought me back to life,” she whispers roughly.

Then her hand darts out. Cups Hermione’s cheek. And she smiles widely. Giddily. “You…you helped me? Helped my sisters? You— your power!”

And then the hand is gone. Slams down and takes Hermione’s hand instead.

Both her hands. Rips Hermione’s wand from her hand and throws it on the bed.

To hold her hands. Squeeze them tightly. Bellatrix closes her eyes and inhales deeply. “A conduit,” she whispers. “That book. That book. And you felt it? It must have been…”

Her eyes snap open. She leans in. Looks right into Hermione’s eyes. “Can you still feel them? Andy and Cissy? Or is it gone now?”

Hermione blinks. Swallows.

Tries to wake up. This has to be a dream. This is just too fast and confusing to be—

Bellatrix presses a firm kiss to her cheek. Pulls back and looks in her eyes again. “There. I’m sorry. I’m forgiven. Now tell me.”

What?

“You can’t forgive yourself for me,” Hermione squawks. “What— why are you— you’re touching me!”

Is this Bellatrix? Or Andy messing with her somehow?

Actually, no. Only one person is this much of a crazy whirlwind. Even Andy couldn’t pull this off.

Bellatrix pouts. Pinches Hermione’s cheek. “Forgive me. I told you it was a mistake. I won’t do it again. And we’ve touched magic now. Touched souls. You carried my soul back. And see? I’m not dirty! Guess you’re not so muddy after all.”

Oh.

So this…has convinced her? Has disproven the idea of blood purity?

“Tell me you were wrong about muggleborns and muggles then,” Hermione tries. Pulls her face free.

Bellatrix frowns.

Then stands up. “Wrong about you, yes,” she mutters. “But muggles…they’re not like you. They don’t have magic. Like squibs. Filthy, feeble, weak little beings.”

“Not filthy,” Hermione grits out. “Different. Will you give me that at least?”

Bellatrix ignores her. Starts playing with a candle. Tipping the wax. Dipping her finger in.

Hermione folds her arms. “Really? After all I’ve offered you? You’re going to call my parents filthy?”

Bellatrix’s head snaps around. She grins sharply. “Offered freely. Because you’re so benevolent. I read the book. My book. So you could only do it because of me anyway. Nope. Sorry, Saviour. Can’t use that argument on me.”

Hermione tries standing up again. Manages this time. Finds her balance without the headboard. Just about. “Why are you calling me the Saviour? I’m not Harry.”

Bellatrix puts the candle down and comes over again. Saunters over. “Oh. I meant my saviour. Potter didn’t save me. You did. I guess I should thank you for that. Somehow.”

And she reaches out and drags Hermione towards her. Keeps Hermione standing, strong hands on her upper arms.

Once again stares into her eyes. Determination radiating from her. And warmth. She feels warm.

Or maybe Hermione is cold.

“I owe you,” Bellatrix says. Nods. “I owe you on Samhain night. How can I repay you?”

And Hermione’s mind wanders. Can’t help it. This conversation is giving her déjà vu.

And Bellatrix looks so much like Andy too. And she keeps coming so close. And in her dreams…

Oh dear. Well that plan had unforeseen consequences. It goes both ways. She somehow feels safer with Bellatrix…because she looks like Andy. Acts like her. Is more pushy, and handsy, and abrupt, and childish, and more…more. But she still…

Wait. Maybe…

Hermione slowly nods. “You do owe me. So…so I want something. I want you…to swear…that if I ever say stop, you’ll stop. No arguments. No matter what you’re doing. You’ll listen to me, and you’ll stop.”

That’s what she wants. What always haunted her. How powerless she was. She begged and begged, and Bellatrix didn’t stop.

Bellatrix frowns again. Tilts her head again. Strokes her arms. Up and down. “…always? Even if I’m doing something important? No parameters?”

Hmm. Fair point. “I won’t misuse it,” Hermione says. “It’s just so I feel…safe. I’m not using it to be controlling. And you don’t have to vow. Just promise. I need some…trust between us, if you want us to be able to talk, and interact.”

Bellatrix raises an eyebrow.

Then laughs. Smiles. “Oh, trust! That’s what you want. Okay. Okay. I give you my word, oh gallant Gryffindor,” she mocks.

Then ducks closer. Looks her in the eye gleefully. “Say sto-op!” she sing-songs in a hushed whisper.

Then leans in. The only warning she gets.

Hermione’s surprised squeak is muffled by firm lips. A hot mouth that is already sucking on her lower lip.

Again? This is— what— Bellatrix is—

She’s pushed back onto the bed. Pinned down. A body covers hers. Hair tickles her neck.

Now would be the time, Hermione. If you want her to stop, say it.

Bellatrix’s lips pull back. Then peck at her. And again. Press quickly. Almost…questioning. Confused at the lack of response.

Hermione lets out a breath.

And tentatively kisses back. Just…tries it. Nudges into it. She’s not sure what she’s feeling anymore. Or thinking. Heart hammering but lips…buzzing.

Feels teeth as Bellatrix smiles against her. Arches into her.

Pulls Hermione’s arms above her head and holds them down, grip tight on her wrists, almost cutting off circulation.

Now that, she definitely doesn’t like.

Hermione breaks her mouth away. “Stop. Let go,” she gasps out, fear tightening her chest.

And…the hands release.

Oh.

Bellatrix leans up. And to the side, off of her.

Leans on her elbow. Head in her hand. Waiting curiously. Looks at Hermione expectantly.

Strange. Very…

Playful. No aggression. How…

“You died,” Hermione whispers as her heartrate settles. Suddenly…realises. “Are you…are you feeling okay?”

Bellatrix shrugs. “I think so,” she says. Normally. Back to a normal tone of voice. No frenetic energy. “Haven’t exactly died before. Or been…resurrected. So far so good. I’ll find out later if all my bodily functions are still working. Haven’t taken a piss yet, for a start.”

Hermione laughs in surprise. Sits up. “And…the others are really downstairs? I can’t hear them. What…what happened after you woke up?”

Bellatrix nods to herself. “Fair question. They are downstairs. Cissy is asleep on the sofa. I made her. She looked dead on her feet. More than the actual dead people in the room. And…Andy and Tonks were being all soppy and crying. It was putting me off my dinner. I came to check on you. And I put a silencing charm over the room when I saw you were still asleep. It looked like you needed the rest.”

Sensible. So sensible. Kind, almost.

So strange.

“Do you feel different though?” Hermione asks cautiously. Looks down at the bed. “I mean— you obviously feel differently about me. And— and Andy, and Tonks. Are…can you remember everything? Clearly? Or did…did our magic change something?”

It does feel like it. Even Hermione feels a strange…fondness for the witch. A lingering happiness at seeing her. Talking to her. And a background hint of worry. Concern. She should be resting too.

There’s a huffed breath from Bellatrix. An almost laugh.

Then fingers under Hermione’s chin. Tilting her head back up. “I remember,” Bellatrix says lowly. “I remember clearly. Clearer…than it’s been in a while.”

And the thumb moves up to rub over Hermione’s lips.

Then pulls her in. Bellatrix kisses her again. Another firm press of lips. “So thank you,” Bellatrix grumbles. “There. Said it. Won’t say it again. But it is Samhain, so…special occasion. Whatever. Come and eat something. At least an apple or— I’ll make sure you don’t do something stupid like fall down the stairs.”

And she drags Hermione up. Through the room of candles and towards the door. Out onto the landing. The door slams shut behind them. Probably blowing all the candles out.

A flash of lightning briefly illuminates the way. And then only faint moonlight.

“Also, does your bloody muggle house not have any lights?” Bellatrix asks as they stumble onwards. “You’re a witch! Don’t know what you’re doing in the Dark Ages.”

Hermione rolls her eyes. Purebloods. “Of course I have lights! It’s the storm. It’s messed with the elec— never mind. But yes, I have lights.”

They reach the stairs. Bellatrix stops them. Holds a finger to her lips. “Ssh. Cissy, remember? Asleep. And if she sees you, she’ll start acting all stubborn again.”

Oh yes. That reminds her.

Maybe she can get some answers from this sister. “Is…umm…I was wondering, is there some kind of…tradition of kissing on Samhain that I don’t know about?” Hermione asks, clearing her throat and trying to act casual.

Bellatrix blinks.

Looks at her mouth.

Then back at her eyes. “No, but is there? That sounds like a good tradition to start. Wait. You think…Who else kissed you? Cissy?”

Hermione looks away. Shrugs. “Umm…well…actually, both— all of— You’ve all— not Tonks, but—”

Bellatrix laughs. Loudly. Keeps laughing.

Pulls Hermione down the stairs. “Well! Now this makes things very interesting. Is that what you were hinting at, Cissy?” she calls. “And don’t go pretending you’re still asleep. I know you. I can tell— and Andy! Something you want to tell me?”

Footsteps come towards them through the dark. Down the hall to meet them.

And overlapping shouts of protest.

“What do you mean, Bella—”

“Now, before you say anything—”

“Hermione? She’s awake? You’re awake? When—”

“Hermione!”

“Are we sure she should be out of bed?”

“Of course you’d prefer her in bed, wouldn’t you?”

“What does that mean?”

“I’m just saying—”

“Don’t nudge me.”

“Careful! Don’t trip on the cat!”

“Where? Ah!”

“Ow!”

There’s a thud. A bang.

Bellatrix laughs. Wraps an arm around Hermione’s shoulders with an exaggerated sigh. “Well, seeing as the resident saviour is out of action, I guess I’ll have to step up and be the guiding light.”

And she pulls out her wand. Raises it high. “Lumos maxima!”

Yells fill the air. Hermione blinks back stars. Shields her face. Feels tears sting her eyes at the intensity, as white as a lightning strike.

Bellatrix just cackles. Sighs happily, resting more heavily against Hermione. “Oh, it’s good to be back.”

Right. Hermione…has a lot of questions about that. In fact, she has about a hundred different questions she needs to ask just to figure out how Bellatrix is leaning so easily against her side.

And the questions just keep coming. Her eyes adjust, and she watches Andy help Tonks up off the floor before turning to look at Hermione. To smile at her warmly, and then glance warily at Bellatrix. Smile more cautious, but still there.

She watches Narcissa, who is rubbing at her elbow but waiting behind them patiently in the crowded hallway. Surveying the others. Eyes tracking every slight movement.

Including Bellatrix’s hand, that is beginning to absentmindedly play with Hermione’s hair.

Hermione glances sideways at her. “Stop,” she whispers pointedly. Just to try again. Doesn’t really mind. But wants to see…

Bellatrix’s lip twitches at the corner.

And the hand moves. Arm leaves her shoulders altogether. “Is that what you want?” Bellatrix murmurs. “Or did you want me to stop this?”

And the lumos vanishes. Pitch black once more. Groans of frustration and muttered cursing fills the air.

No light. The whole house fades to black.

And Hermione feels a kiss press to her cheek.

Doesn’t really mind.

It is Samhain, after all.