“She’s staring at you.”
Hermione scoffed. With a grin she whispered sarcastically, “Harry, you are the boy who lived, twice . Everyone in the room is staring at you .”
It was the day everyone in the Wizarding World had spent months, if not years, waiting for. Six years after the Battle of Hogwarts, Harry Potter was finally marrying Ginevra Weasley. It was a beautiful spring day. The ceremony had been set up in the field near the Burrow, with a tent near the house for the reception. They’d had a long engagement, in no rush to settle down, but knowing they would spend their lives together. Instead, they spent their time enjoying life for the first time in their young adult lives.
Harry nudged her as they walked down the aisle. “Well I’m fairly certain I’m not the one making her blush like that.”
“Harry!” she admonished as quietly as possible. Harry just looked back with a mischievous grin. His face calmed to a genuine smile, letting the topic go. “Thank you for being here with me today.”
“I wouldn’t be anywhere else.” Hermione tightened her grip on his arm. When Harry and Ginny finally settled down to plan their big day, he had asked Hermione to escort him down the aisle. With no actual family, Hermione and Ron were his chosen family. Ron stood proud at the end of the aisle as best man, while Hermione walked down with Harry. She would then take her place as Ginny’s Maid of Honor.
As they neared the end of the aisle, Hermione leaned and whispered, “She does look beautiful, doesn’t she?” Harry chuckled, giving her a knowing smile back. “You should tell her that.
Unbeknownst to them, a set of eyes, and ears, caught everything. Minerva McGonagall, standing poised towards the front of the crowd, could not stop staring. Long ago, the current Headmistress of Hogwarts had imposed her own rule to never use her heightened senses to eavesdrop. Over decades, and multiple wars, she had only ever broken this rule when on Order business. That is, until she laid eyes on Hermione Granger for the first time in six years.
Who are they talking about? Minerva scanned her surroundings. She had seen the young Gryffindors look in her direction, and couldn’t help the unsettling feeling in the pit of her stomach, which was certainly not jealousy. This was the wedding of Harry Potter, there were nearly 200 people in attendance. It could be anyone. Before Minerva could think on it any longer, the music changed and Ginny Weasley began to walk down the aisle with her father.
The ceremony had been extraordinary. The melding of magic and love had brought tears to the eyes of many. Hermione was no exception. As Harry and Ginny walked back down the aisle to make their exit, as husband and wife, Hermione wiped the tears away and joined Ron to exit. She did not miss the way Ron looked at her, with a hopeful look in his eye. As he reached for her hand, Hermione made the fatal error of looking towards the crowd. Deep brown eyes connected with vibrant green, and she couldn’t look away. Those eyes had haunted her thoughts and dreams for years, and the feelings they invoked came roaring back. Minerva.
Just as she began to lose herself in a sea of green, a rough hand grasped hers and Ron muttered “C’mon Mione.” The trance broken, she followed the newly weds out of the garden, heading to the tent where the reception was to be held.
May 1998, 6 years prior
Voldemort was dead. They had done it, and amazingly all came out alive. Well, not everyone. Fred, Remus, Tonks, they weren’t able to save them. But Hermione, Ron, and Harry were alive. Ginny, Molly, her family, were alive.
Hermione frantically looked through the crowd, finally finding her target. She was alive. Thank the heavens.
The mix of relief, joy, and sadness for the loss of their friends overwhelmed Hermione. In the commotion of the end of the battle, Hermione retreated into the castle, needing a moment to compose herself. Finding an empty classroom, she snuck in and broke down.
Where is she?! She was just here! She was fine! Minerva had seen Hermione, fighting side by side with the Order, and standing near Ron at the end. She had to be alive. Minerva’s mind was racing, desperately searching the crowd for Hermione. As survivors came to her for direction, she did her best to remain poised, channeling every ounce of Deputy Headmistress she could muster.
She spotted Harry, standing with the Weasley’s and offering comfort as they mourned the loss of Fred. She walked over to him and he glanced up. Screw decorum , she thought, and she pulled Harry into a tight hug. “You had us all so worried. I’m so happy to know you are okay, Harry. Thank you….for everything you’ve done.
“I couldn’t have done it without you all, and Ron and Hermione.” He paused, “especially Hermione.”
“Have you seen her?” Minerva asked, trying to keep her voice even. She couldn’t explain the need she felt to make sure Hermione was safe, that she was okay. She chalked it up to her care for a student.
“Yeah, um, she just needed a minute. A lot to process, y’know?”
Relief coursed through her. “Of course. I just wanted to make sure she was unharmed.”
“I think she snuck into that classroom over there,” he gestured down the hall. “I’m sure, if anyone was to check up on her, she’d prefer it was you,” Harry offered with a soft smile.
Minerva, at a loss for words, just stared at Harry with confusion etched across her face. But he didn’t elaborate. “I’m glad you’re okay, Professor.” And with that, he went back to the Weasley’s.
Minerva turned on the spot and headed towards the classroom Harry had indicated. As she neared the room, her pace slowed and doubts crept in. Hermione is alive, she doesn’t need her professor intruding. But any internal battle was lost as she heard a sob on the other side of the door. She pushed the door open slowly and entered.
Hermione quickly turned at the sound, her heart beating hard in her chest. She still had her arms wrapped around herself tightly, eyes bloodshot with tears streaming down her face. The site before her broke Minerva’s heart.
“Hermione…” She said softly, simultaneously taking a step towards the young woman.
Any restraint Hermione had was lost with the whisper of her name, and she threw herself into Minerva’s arms and held on as if her life depended on it.