Dear Mr. Potter,
Our daughter, Katherine Biggins, disappeared the summer of 1978. Enclosed is her picture.
Her mother and I know she probably died long ago but were hoping you might be able to help us locate her remains. It would mean a lot to her mother.
“Another one,” Neville said in wonderment. The envelope dangled in his hand as he read the letter.
“How many people went missing, Harry?” Ron asked, digging through a pile of letters.
“In the last fifty years?” Harry asked. “I don’t know.”
“Fucking creepy,” Neville muttered under his breath as he tucked the letter back into the envelope.
Severus woke up with something warm and heavy near him. A hand seemed to be gripping his morning erection firmly. It was not his hand. He opened his eyes to see a brown pair peering back at him.
“Can I help you?” he asked, trying to wake up and not kill Hermione with morning breath.
“Maybe,” she said, her voice muffled by the covers.
Severus lay back and let his wife molest him. Life wasn’t so bad.
“Severus I-,” a deep voice said.
Severus jumped. He heard Hermione choke under the covers.
“I’m sorry,” Remus’ head said, laughing from the small fireplace in Severus’ quarters.
“Morning, Remus,” Hermione choked out under the covers.
“I’ll come back later,” Remus chuckled.
“Don’t bother,” said Hermione, her bushy head emerging from under the covers. Thankfully, she was still in her pajamas. “I was just leaving.”
Hermione snickered at Severus’ expression as she scampered from the room. Severus yanked up his pajama bottoms and straighted himself out under the covers as she shut the door behind her.
“Must be nice, having a young wife,” said Remus wistfully.
“Exhausting at times,” said Severus wearily. “What did you need?”
“Arthur wants some help from within the Order,” said Remus. “Found quite a few potions in the raids and he’s not sure about some of them.”
“One can only imagine,” Severus groaned.
“You are the best, Severus,” said Remus.
“I’m sure,” Severus said bitterly.
“The Ministry is willing to pay you for your contributions,” said Remus slowly, gauging Severus’ reaction.
“The Ministry is paying former Deatheaters for assistance these days?” Severus asked, an eyebrow raised.
“A few new laws have made their way through,” said Remus, smiling slightly.
“Imagine that,” said Severus dryly. Remus tried to look innocent.
“Arthur’s doing the best he can,” Remus said. “And we’re still not sure who we can trust.”
“Do you not have access to Potter?” Severus said, climbing out of bed.
“Of course,” said Remus. “But that still doesn’t help us much.”
“He can identify every Deatheater there ever was,” said Severus stalking to his coat rack and retrieving his fluffy yellow robe. Remus raised an eyebrow. Severus ignored him. It was too early in the morning.
“But he doesn’t have the sense to stay away from people like Rita Skeeter,” Remus remarked, still smiling at the robe. “You know, yellow looks good on you.”
“It was from my mother,” said Severus stiffly. “Quite right about Potter. The Dark Lord’s memory with no wisdom. Pray for the world.”
Suddenly Molly Weasleys head popped into existence near Remus’.
“Oh, what a lovely color,” Molly exclaimed. Severus groaned inwardly. His reputation was ruined. At least she hadn’t shown up with Remus. He’d probably still be hearing her screech at him.
“Morning,” said Severus cooly. She had been unpleasant to him, but if he picked a fight with her the rebuttal from Hermione might be too much to take.
“I wanted to tell you,” she started nervously. Severus was reminded of all the Weasley boys when caught doing something wrong. He found himself feeling nervous. What had the woman done? What was she capable of? “I hear Hermione is very happy. Thank you.”
Severus was stunned. His mouth moved but no words came out. Molly disappeared from sight.
“Should I owl the Daily Prophet?” Remus asked, smiling his slight crooked smile. “You in yellow and Molly getting near to an apology, must be a polyjuice gang running about.”
“Very funny,” Severus said annoyed. The day had started out so well. “Tell Arthur I have some time in the afternoon.”
“Very well,” said Remus. “Report to the Department of Mysteries.”
“Can I bring Hermione?” Severus asked quickly. Remus looked quizzically at him. “She’s a valuable assistant. Reads like a most people breathe.”
“Ah,” said Remus. “Why not? She would probably find it very informative. I’ll memo for another badge.”
“Thank you,” said Severus. With a small pop Severus’ fire faded from green to orange and died as Remus disappeared.
Perhaps today would turn out to be interesting after all.
“Where are we going?” Hermione asked as she reached for her pumpkin juice.
“The Department of Mysteries,” said Severus innocently.
Hermiones eyes narrowed. He reached for a plate of eggs.
“Really?” she asked flatly.
“They have the best equipment,” said Severus filling his plate.
“I’m sure they do,” said Hermione taking the plate from him and getting a serving for herself.
“I need you, Hermione,” said Severus. She started slightly. “You’re competent.”
It was the nicest compliment he had ever given her.
She blushed and brushed his knee under the table. Severus frantically tried to remember whether the tablecloth hung down low enough or if his wife had just done that in full view of all the students. Even if it didn’t, no one seemed to notice.
“I’ll pencil you in,” she said, smiling at him.
“Here are your badges,” said an auror, smiling as he handed Severus and Hermione their wands and badges.
Hermione took a look at hers and began snickering. Severus looked over her shoulder to see: Hermione Snape underneath it in smaller letters it said: Know-It-All.
“Well, it’s obvious the Weasleys are in charge,” said Severus, sniffing.
Severus chanced a glance at his own badge. It clearly stated: Severus Snape: Potions Master. He was relieved.
The Ministry had been reconstructed almost identically to the way it was before, with the exception of the fountain. The centaur and the elf now stood beside the wizards, their arms raised. No wands lay in their hands, but the statues were fitted for alteration.
Hermione and Severus were directed to the Department of Mysteries at the information booth and headed to an elevator.
Arthur met them on their floor and walked with them along a long winding corridor.
“We weren’t really sure who else to ask,” said Arthur, rubbing a small bald patch on the back of his head. “We aren’t even sure if they’re all potions.”
Severus stiffened. “I would hope we have Ministry equipment at our disposal.”
“Of course,” said Arthur. “All the toys you could want.”
This might not be so bad after all.
“They’ll grow back, Hermione,” Severus said in their receiving room. He was trying desperately not to laugh. He was pouring her a weak rum and coke, thankfully with his back to her.
Hermione felt the bare ridge above her eyes. She was lucky her face was intact.
She had unstoppered the small bottle and a white blaze had exploded out of it. The dragon hide suit had protected her from the blaze, but her faceplate had cracked. Thankfully, the only casualty was her eyebrows.
Severus had been near to hysterical when they had lifted her unconscious form from the floor. After her injuries were deemed superficial, he began to see the humor in her appearance.
“Maybe Poppy has something that will speed it up,” said Hermione.
“Perhaps,” said Severus handing her a tumbler. He entertained a thought about Hermione sporting bushy eyebrows and smirked.
Ginny sat behind her drawn curtains and looked at her ice rose by the light of her wand.
“Oh, Harry,” she said softly, reaching out to touch a petal.
To her amazement, the flower bloomed. In the center a transparent image of Harry smiled and blew a kiss at her. Then the bud tightened to its original state.
Ginny frowned. What was that? It was wonderful of course, but what had triggered the effect?
She touched the petals. It stayed firm. She even tried to wiggle a petal open, but it wouldn’t budge. She tapped it with her wand. Nothing.
“Bugger, Harry,” Ginny muttered frustrated. The flower bloomed and he made a face at her. She started. It closed.
She seriously doubted he was directly connected to the rose itself, but it probably had expressive properties, like a picture. Her first statement had been favorable, so he had blown her a kiss. When she had cursed him it had made a face at her. Curious.
“I love you, Harry Potter,” said Ginny softly. She was glad she had put a silencing charm around her so she didn’t wake her dorm mates. They would think she was loony. The flower bloomed and Harry blew her another kiss. Well, this was interesting.
“I want to quit school and join the circus, Harry,” said Ginny. The flower bloomed and Harry made a horrified expression at her. It looked very strange with his serpentine eyes.
So she could gauge his opinion this way. Strange. She wondered if this was his intention. She would have to owl him tomorrow.
Either way, it was a lovely present.
Hermione walked through a fireplace in the entrance hall of the Amazons. She pulled her dark blue robes around her. She didn’t know how the Amazons lived in togas. The air was pleasant smelling and crisp, but it was a bit cold. She had chosen medium weight robes and carried a cloak just in case.
“Hello!” Lexi called out across the massive receiving hall, waving at Hermione. Lexi was standing with two women Hermione didn’t know near a pillar.
One of the women was short and tanned. She was stout and her toga was a light green with a red belt. She had a large wide face and nose. She smiled pleasantly at Hermione. She held a leather book and a white quill in her hands. A large mass of dark hair was piled on her head. Hermione wondered if it was to give the illusion she was taller.
The other woman was tall and so pale she was almost devoid of color. Her eyes were pale blue and her hair white. She looked young, younger than Hermione, but Hermione had never seen a being like her. There was no telling how old the girl was, but she also carried a leather book and quill matching the other woman’s. Her toga and belt were both white.
“Thank you for entrusting me with a portal to your floo network,” Hermione said, smiling and clutching a brown satchel and a few books.
“Thank you for giving us the opportunity to examine such a treasure,” the tall girl said in a monotone voice that seemed to produce a metallic buzz behind her words. Her mouth moving didn’t seem to affect the muscle movement of the rest of her face. It was a little unnerving.
Hermione tried not to look surprised, but knew she failed by the way the strange girl looked at her, clearly amused.
“Asta was born after the Jotun left the last time,” Lexi said.
Hermione didn’t know what to say, but the girl called Asta laughed spontaneously, apparently at Hermione. The short woman glared at the younger girl.
“Forgive me,” the Asta said, apologetically. “I will reinforce my shields.”
Asta closed her eyes and a pink sheen seemed to wash over her. She reached out to help Hermione with her load of books and shook her free hand when she had one.
“Asta can naturally pick up thoughts,” the stout woman explained. “Sometimes she forgets everyone does not practice Occlumancy.”
“I actually do, a bit,” Hermione admitted. Harry had taught her a bit, although it probably wouldn’t hurt to ask Severus to tutor her. “I’ll be careful to shield myself thoroughly in the future.”
“This is Nyssa,” Lexi said, motioning to the stout witch. “She will be overseeing our experiments.”
“We hear you have quite an interesting item,” Nyssa said excitedly.
“That’s what I hear as well,” Hermione said, thankful someone with knowledge was willing to help her. The Amazons were more than accommodating.
“Well,” Lexi said. “We should go to the labs.”
Hermione followed the Amazons to a gold square, inlaid in the white seamless floor. The square rose to create a railing before a platform started to rise in the air. Hermione likened it to a freeform elevator. An ornate carved trapdoor covered in colorless roses opened in the ceiling above them and they ascended through it.
They rose through a brightly illuminated room with large windows. Dozens of women sat at dark wooden desks scribbling on different colored parchments. Rows of different colored ink bottles were lined along the top edge of their desks. On the corner of each desk was a small golden cage with a small dove seemingly made of ice flittering in it. No one seemed to notice as they rose up and through the room and through a trapdoor decorated in stone tendrils of ivy.
The next floor looked like a library, the paneling dark and large tables lined up with volumes stacked on them; except for the spines of all the books were a bright brilliant blue. All the amazons here seemed to have silver belts to their togas, although the colors of the togas themselves seemed to take on every color of the rainbow. Hermione tried to make out at least tone title before they skipped past the room, but failed miserably.
If there was a code to the toga colors, Hermione couldn’t figure it out yet. Sometimes, it was obvious the color of the belts meant something, but confronted with the general population of the Bibliotheque Hermione couldn’t differentiate any type of uniformity.
They rose through a smaller hexagonal room with six doors leading from it in different directions. All its surfaces were dark wood and one door had a silver crescent moon inlaid in it.
“There’s the bathroom, if you need it,” Asta announced.
Hermione tried not to laugh. Perhaps everything here didn’t have a mystical purpose after all.
“Thank you,” Hermione said, trying to make her voice sound steady. She suspected Asta only shielded herself when it suited her.
‘You are bright,’ a voice sounded in her head and Hermione noticed Asta’s white hair tinge blue. Hermione had the distinct impression that it was her species’ way of blushing.
Asta opened her mind a bit and Hermione got the impression that the girl was insatiably curious about the outside world. She meant no harm, but the other women would disapprove of her firing off questions at Hermione, who was considered an honored guest.
Hermione mentally promised Asta time for her questions as the platform slowed down and halted in a square room with white walls and thick red carpeting.
The banister facing a door with a tiny inlaid edge in bronze slid down. Lexi stepped from the platform and drew her wand from in her folds of fabric.
She drew a small pattern in front of the door and Hermione heard an audible click. Lexi pushed the door open and the other women filed through, Hermione behind them.
The lab was stark white, following a trend Hermione was beginning to notice. The windows were large and let in a lot of daylight.
“Well then,” said Nyssa, slapping the front of her leather book brusquely. “Time to work.”
Asta quirked a corner of her mouth at Hermione and started walking to a table full of unfamiliar instruments.
After hours of exposure to different forms of stimuli, Hermione, Lexi, Nyssa, and Asta were left frowning at the small pendant.
“Well, that was informative,” Asta buzzed, an unimpressed look on her face.
Hermione found Asta was capable of slightly stiff expressions, but it seemed like all her muscles worked independently of each other. Interesting.
“You need to learn that a failure is just as informative as a success,” Nyssa chastised as she picked up the shard and watched it swing on the end of its chain.
“Well,” Asta said slowly. “It’s impervious to fire, won’t chill in prolonged cold, and has a horrible habit of reversing an electrical charge.”
Lexi snorted, her face bowed over a parchment full of notes.
Hermione had been further surprised to find Asta was capable of creating an electrical charge at will. When Asta reached out to test the shard she had been zapped back by a powerful charge that burned one of her fingertips. It had been easily bandaged, but Asta had taken on an insulted attitude towards the shard.
Lexi had declared it an act of karma for Asta abusing that ability as a small child. Asta had lifted a thin white eyebrow and threatened to charge Lexi’s chamber doorknob so powerfully it would take weeks to take the curl out of her hair.
“It also scratches glass, but isn’t diamond,” Hermione said, getting back to business and squinting over Lexi’s shoulder. Lexi noted this and looked at Hermione.
“Is there anything else?” Lexi asked.
“We still need to cover acids and bases,” Nyssa said, flipping a page in her leather book.
“That will only take forever,” Asta buzzed, lowering her eyebrows.
“There’s always tomorrow,” Lexi said. “I believe it is time for both of our dinners.”
Hermione nodded, for the first time noticing how fatigued she felt.
“Excellent idea,” Hermione said. “Is tomorrow fine for you? I wouldn’t want to intrude-“
“The intrusion is all ours,” Lexi said putting her quill down. “We have no right to ask you to analyze the shard at all. It is a great honor to be allowed to examine it.”
“Well, it’s a great honor for me to be allowed to study here,” said Hermione wincing a little at her choice of words. “If that’s what you could call it.”
“Tomorrow then,” Nyssa said firmly, slapping her book shut. “I think we’ve all had quite enough for today.”
Lexi and Asta started buzzing around the lab cleaning up supplies and instruments. Nyssa pulled Hermione aside.
“I hear your mate is a Potions Master,” Nyssa said, her dark eyes gauging Hermiones reaction.
“Yes, he is,” Hermione said, wondering if this had to do with the acid and base testing.
“We would be able to recompensate him for consulting if he was willing to help us,” Nyssa suggested looking helpful.
“I’ll have to ask,” Hermione said, hoping her voice sounded non-committal.
Severus was putting extra time into a student he had deemed hopeless, but out of class and away from the other students seemed to do fine. Hermione suggested remedial classes and Severus was astounded at how fast the boy had picked up on things.
Nyssa seemed very grateful and went to lock up a few cabinets, giving Hermione a moment to return the shard to its usual place around her neck. She was starting to feel naked without it.
“What?” Severus asked sharply.
“The shard I got from the Jotun-,” Hermione started.
“I heard you,” Severus said loudly, getting to his feet from the couch and striding to her across his receiving room in his chambers at Hogwarts. “Why didn’t you tell me before?”
“I just thought it was a bit of jewelry,” Hermione said. She was sitting near the window in her reading place, a steaming cup of tea on the small table near her. “We had no proof it was anything else.”
Severus held his hand out and Hermione reluctantly slipped the shard from its place around her neck and handed it to him. Her legs unfolded from under her and she placed her book down after marking her page.
“Is there anything else you would like to tell me?” Severus sneered as he undid the leather pouch.
“I’m raising a Chimera under my bed and Aragog has promised me one of his next clutch,” Hermione snapped back sarcastically. “Hope you like pets.”
Crookshanks meowed loudly near Hermione’s feet. He looked distinctly insulted.
“Don’t be silly,” Hermione murmured as she picked him up and placed him in her lap.
Severus glared at her and lifted the shard up to the light.
‘I’m married to the offspring of a god,’ Severus mused to himself. For a second he watched red lightning flash through the shard.
“Is there any pattern you can follow?” Severus asked. “With the lights?”
“None I can follow,” Hermione said pulling a small notebook and pen out of her robes. Forget quills for note taking. They just weren’t practical.
“Will the Amazons mind traveling?” Severus asked.
“What do you mean?” Hermione asked, thinking instantly of Asta.
“I accept their offer under the insistence that I observe the testing,” Severus said returning the shard to the pouch.
“I’ll relay the message,” Hermione said.