If anyone had peeked out their window on that fateful little street in the wee hours of that fateful December morning, they mightn’t have believed their eyes.
The man ambled effortlessly through the slushy snow that covered the sidewalk, unconcerned with the flakes still falling rather rapidly. His midnight cloak swirled in the wind, twirling gracefully around his legs as if to send him sprawling across the pavement. The haughty figure did no such thing, just continued strolling sedately toward his destination.
The small halos of light filtering down from the lampposts every few feet didn’t bother him at all. He seemed, if one didn’t know better, to be a successful business man out for a stroll after an extremely late running meeting.
His eyes swept across the numbers tacked above each garage as he passed. He carried on past number twenty, Dorian Road as well as numbers twenty one and twenty two. It was outside number twenty three that he came to a resolute halt, his attention firmly settled on the front walk.
His boots clicked on the pavement as he strode forward and his lips pulled up into a smirk as he caught sight of a cat nestled on the front porch swing.
“Fancy seeing you here, Minerva.”
The gray tabby cat glared indolently up at the man as he settled himself beside her, the swing moving lazily beneath them. The man’s light teal eyes drifted toward the front door behind which the occupants of the house slept soundly.
After a moment, he turned his attention back to the cat, only to find that it had gone. In it’s place sat a regal woman in flowing gray robes, her eyebrow raised and lips pursed in annoyance.
“Why exactly is it such a far fetched idea? It’s not as if this is unimportant and that blonde brown noser wasn’t up to the task. So, here I am.”
He fought back a smirk at her playful insult. “And I trust you’ve completed the task I assigned you. Despite our understanding, it wouldn’t do if people started accusing me of favoritism.”
“Of course I finished it. She’s just waiting for you to bring it to her.” The man chuckled lowly as his arm snaked its way around Minerva’s shoulders, his fingers lightly sifting through the long, dark strands of her hair.
“Excellent! Though I do believe she can wait another moment or two. I’ve been neglectful of my duties to you.”
It was her turn to smirk as his fingers dropped the lock of hair and wound themselves through her tresses, tugging her lips towards his with a startling ferocity.
It was over as quickly as it had begun. Minerva glared up at the man who now stood in front of her looking as unruffled as one could possibly be. She, however, decided she needed a moment or two to calm the slightly erratic beating of her heart.
“You do realize that you’ll have to refrain from using ‘it’ as a descriptor, don’t you my darling? This is, after all, a little girl we’re speaking of.”
He extended a hand and gallantly pulled her up. He crooked an arm and wrapped her hand around it, casually starting for the front door as if on a merry summer stroll.
A quick flick of the wand previously stowed away in a pocket rendered the door a pretty way to keep out nothing but the weather. The duo stepped through the entry in silence and glanced at their surroundings.
“This is most disappointing. I had imagined something a little more…grand.”
Minerva shook her head at her companion. Disentangling their limbs, she prowled through the first floor of the house. The man waited patiently, his hands clasped behind his back as he bounced excitedly on the balls of his feet.
“If you’ve finished, my dear?”
A haughty sniff was cause for him to roll his eyes indulgently as he made his way to the narrow staircase. The lush carpet dampened their footsteps as they ascended and he paused to wait for her on the landing.
They faced five closed doors, dimly lit from the moonlight streaming weakly through the window at the end of the hallway. The man stepped to the first door and twisted the knob. He backed away as he saw a nicely fitted loo.
“What are you planning for them?”
He glanced behind him at the open doorway where Minerva leaned against the frame. He crossed the hall and peeked inside the room.
There was a bed containing two lumps, one of which was snoring unreasonably loudly. Two jets of green light flashed in the darkened room and the offensive noise abated. Minerva spun quickly, hands on her hips as she glared at the man.
“Was that necessary? Honestly!” Her words ran together as she mumbled under her breath and he turned away from her scowl.
The door to his left contained a non descript bedroom set, obviously for guests that rarely came given the musty staleness of the air.
He found what he’d been searching for behind the next door. The moonlight shimmered through the gossamer curtains covering the windows, illuminating a room decorated in various shades of pastels.
His footsteps were muffled in the thick purple rug as he approached the small crib, his eyes narrowed as he finally laid eyes on his prize.
She was tiny. He couldn’t recall ever seeing a child quite so small, though his range of experience was vastly limited. Her tiny fists rested beside her head and her mouth formed a small ‘o’ as she breathed deeply in sleep.
“Would you like me to take her?”
He glared over his shoulder at the teasing smirk highlighting his companion’s face. “I am perfectly capable of picking her up. I do believe I’ve had sufficient practice in the last six months.”
He turned back to the tiny girl, startled to find her eyes wide open. The color reminded him of the one Muggle indulgence he liked to pretend he didn’t care for. They were cognac, the light amber color swirling with too much intelligence for a baby.
“This is her?”
The man was more grateful than he could say for Minerva’s perfectly timed interruption. “It would seem a waste of time if it wasn’t.”
She ‘hmmm’ed’ behind him as he reached into the crib and lifted the little girl into his arms. Those startling eyes swept over his aristocratic features, seeming to study the man who currently held her.
“She’s beautiful.” Minerva smiled as sh stroked the soft skin of the baby’s cheek. A small blue flash lit the room and the older woman drew back violently. “She shocked me!”
The man roared with laughter as the girl giggled, her tiny feet kicking at the blanket she’d been swaddled in.
“I do believe that was her way of saying hello. Wasn’t it, my darling little firecracker?” Minerva watched in horrified fascination as the man bent forward, his nose rubbing gently against the baby’s. Her small hand reached up to swat at his cheek, and all he did was laugh.
Minerva was slightly unnerved.
“Alright, I think we’ve kept them waiting long enough. Come along then.” With a soft crack, the man and baby were alone.
An unexpected swell of emotion bubbled in his chest as he stared down at the tiny bundle in his arms. “You and me, my little firecracker. I’ll lay the world at your feet and together we’ll rule them all.”
There was a soft pop of apparition and then they were gone, leaving nothing but an echo of the tiny girl’s giggles.
Across the countryside, the man appeared in the center of a lavish library as several pairs of eyes swung toward him.
“My Lord! Is this her?” A woman approached quickly with a man trailing in her wake as they peered down into the bundle of fabric cradled in their leader’s arms.
Rolling his eyes, he sighed dramatically. “Are there other children to kidnap that I’ve forgotten, Bella? I’ve no idea why everyone keeps asking me that!” Soft chuckles met his ears as another man stepped forward. “Isn’t she beautiful, Lucius?”
“Indeed she is, My Lord.” The blond bent over the tiny bundle, his finger reaching forward to stroke her cheek. Much like when Minerva had attempted the motion, he drew back sharply as a blue flash lit the room. “Bloody hell!”
“Lucius! Language!” A blonde woman, her hair nearly matching that of her husband, scolded gently as she glanced down at the sleeping infant in her own arms. “Well, now you’ve done it. He’s awake.”
With a heavily put upon sigh, she stood up and made her way toward the small gathering. The small boy in her arms blinked sleepily at his mother, his fists rubbing at his face as he yawned.
“Cissa, I’ve told you before. Draco should be in bed at this hour.”
Narcissa Malfoy glared at her husband as she shifted their son to her hip. “I’ll have you know that your son is the most fitful sleeper I’ve ever seen! He’s nearly always up at this hour.”
The older man, whose mere name inspired fear strong enough that hardly anyone dared say it out loud, laughed heartily. Four sets of eyes widened as they gaped at their leader, while a fifth merely raised an eyebrow in surprise. Lord Voldemort was not the type of wizard prone to loud bursts of laughter.
“Ah, my friend. It is never wise to argue with your wife regarding matters of anything, except perhaps Quidditch. They will inevitably be right and then you shall never hear the end of it.” He tugged gently and wrapped Minerva in the arm not cradling the little girl. She sighed at the slight pressure of his lips on her hair, then joined in ‘oo’ing’ and ‘ahh’ing’ over their tiny kidnapping victim.
Unused to sharing the adults attention, Draco burst into a fit of dramatic tears. His pale face flushed in anger and large crocodile tears slid down his cheeks, his fists lashing out spastically as he screamed.
Voldemort leaned toward the child he doted on like a grandchild, unaware of the dangers such close proximity. It happened in an instant, though the moment stretched in an odd sort of suspended reality.
The girl’s tiny hand latched onto the flailing boys arm and his wailing halted abruptly. The two tiny children stared at each other, his grey eyes drilling into her lovely warm brown. The air crackled with uncontrolled magic as a flare of light sparked between them.
“It may be wise to refrain from enforcing the familial connection between these two, no matter how comfortable Blacks are with marrying their own cousins.” Voldemort smirked as he handed the girl to Bellatrix.
The woman’s face was twisted with terror as she shifted the baby awkwardly in her arms, her wide eyes bouncing from Voldemort to her sister in turn.
“Relax, Bella. She’s a baby, not a dungbomb.” Lucius reached forward and gently lifted the child into his own arms, demonstrating the easiest way to hold a baby. “Come, Rodolphus. She won’t break.”
Voldemort and Minerva retreated to a small sofa near the fireplace as Lucius and Narcissa tried to instruct the Lestranges on infant care.
“Are you going to tell them she’s a mudblood?”
Voldemort shook his head. “Not unless I’m forced to. There will be no stopping us with her on our side. I’ll not run the risk of corrupting the bonds that need to form.”
Minerva nodded thoughtfully and snuggled against her wizard as she watched the young couples. Bellatrix was seated on the carpet, her dress fanned around her legs as she rested the baby against her body. Narcissa mimicked her pose, letting Draco wiggle around on the plush carpet as he attempted to reach his new playmate. Lucius laughed when his chubby hand found the girl’s foot, his son tugging on the appendage until he’d managed to crowd his aunt’s lap.
“Bella?” Attention shifted back toward Lord Voldemort as the babies continued to stare at each other. “Such a lovely little firecracker deserves a name befitting her new position, does she not?”
“She does, My Lord.” Bellatrix paused for a moment, her brow furrowed in concentration. “Uh, Rodolphus?”
Her husband stared down at her blankly. Lucius chuckled and Narcissa elbowed him in the shin.
“Be nice, Lucius.” Her aristocratic face gentled as she turned her eyes back toward her older sister. “We’ll help, if you’d like, Bella.”
Lucius stepped away with his brother-in-law and they conversed in muted tones while their wives discussed baby names. Voldemort watched in amusement as Narcissa grew increasingly more frustrated with her sister.
“Bella! If you’re going to reject every name I suggest then I’ll rescind my offer to help!”
The adults all paused as a thick volume dropped to the floor seemingly of it’s own accord. Lucius stepped cautiously toward the tome, rearing back unexpectedly as it zipped past his feet, skittering to a halt beside his son.
The boy giggled happily from his place propped against his aunt’s leg as the pages fluttered in a non existent wind.
Lucius Malfoy was not a wizard who was easily surprised. The shock, both literal and metaphorical, he’d received from the three month old was the first in what must’ve been years. Now his six month old son just displayed his first bout of accidental magic, though it seemed anything but accidental.
His attention was brought back to his library and the goings on around this mysterious new presence in their lives. Draco squealed in excitement as he slapped the open book in front of him.
Bellatrix leaned forward, her eyes widening nearly to the point of pain as she saw what her nephew had revealed.
Draco squealed happily again as he leaned to the side, toppling into the small girl and knocking them both to the floor. Narcissa opened her mouth, ready to scold her rambunctious son.
However, her eyes widened in shock. Instead of screaming, the tiny girl wiggled until her body lay flush with Draco’s, their small hands entwining as they faced each other on the carpet.
“I think Draco’s named her.” Rodolphus crouched beside his wife, his finger skimming over the momentarily forgotten book. “Hermione.”
The babies snuffled quietly, their eyes drooping lazily as their parents watched in awe. A few moments later, the pair lost the battle and drifted into a contented slumber.
x . x . x . x . x
The one born of dark blood in the midst of the seventh will grow to become the shaper of magic’s future. Her potential for greatness will be unmatched. To control her is to control the future.
Voldemort sighed as he dropped the slip of parchment on his already crowded desk. A soft knock brought his attention to the issue at hand. With a flick of his wand, the door cracked open to reveal his guests.
“Please, gentlemen. Have a seat.” He swept a hand toward the armchairs in front of his desk, his eyes following the men as they took their seats.
Minutes passed in silence, though the men stayed resolutely still as they waited.
“Severus, Lucius. I find myself in a bit of a quandary.” Voldemort steepled his fingers as his bright eyes narrowed on his closest confidants. “Before I begin, I must impress upon you the importance that this information does not leave this room. The consequences would be most unpleasant should I find that my trust has been misplaced.”
The two men glanced at each other before resting their eyes upon the Dark Lord. “I believe I speak for Lucius as well when I say that you have our utmost loyalty, My Lord. You can trust us with anything.”
Nervous anticipation wound itself through their veins as they waited. Without uttering a sound, Voldemort plucked the tiny piece of parchment from his desk and held it out to the men. Their heads leaned together as eyes skimmed the words quickly.
“I’m afraid I don’t follow, My Lord.”
Severus raised an eyebrow at his friend. “It’s obvious, isn’t it? This is the child they stole; Hermione.”
Voldemort nodded silently as his lieutenant contemplated this new information.
“I thought the girl was born in September.”
Voldemort nodded again. “That she was. The interesting thing about this prophecy however, is that it predates modern calendars. One of my followers who works in the Department of Mysteries unearthed it buried in the rubble of an ancient Roman temple.”
The two men stared blankly at him and Voldemort sighed.
“In the history of magic, it is a well known fact that those of the purest blood carry the most power. However, in modern times, the bloodlines have become horribly dilute. Even those of the purest lines, such as yours Lucius, have non magical blood within the last twenty generations. Mathematically, it’s the only possible explanation, especially during times of war, plague and famine.” The blond before him sneered, but Voldemort just waved a hand dismissively. “Truly, I couldn’t care less.”
At this, both men’s mouths dropped in astonishment. “But…M-my Lord you-and we…”
The Dark Lord’s mouth curled into a sinister smile. “What sort of leader would I be to teach the importance of blood purity when I myself am merely a half-blood? No, blood purity is a convenient recruiting tool, nothing more. It’s political misdirection to conceal our true agenda.”
Lucius cleared his throat as he struggled to come to grips with this new reality. “And what agenda is that, My Lord?”
The air in the study seemed to thicken as tendrils of magic seeped from the man before them. It twined and twisted as it caressed the men; the sheer strength of it robbing them of speech. The physical manifestation of the Dark Lord’s power pulsed as Lucius and Severus sat riveted to their chairs. An instant later, the air cleared as Voldemort drew his magic back into himself. His followers sagged against the plush cushions of their seats, their breaths coming in broken heaving gasps.
“As I said,” he continued as if their brush with terror hadn’t just occurred, “Once this particular prophecy was brought to my attention, I began searching. This girl is who the prophecy foretold.”
“How can you be sure? In the thousands of years since it was made, surely there was another-”
“No.” Lucius’ mouth snapped shut at the hint of disapproval in Voldemort’s voice. “Spontaneous magic is a rare thing. A child with no magical family history is almost a non entity. In fact, there have only been a few hundred cases in the last thousand years.”
“How is that possible? In my year alone, there were at least three. I know there were six in Narcissa’s year.”
“The Ministry investigates every supposed Muggleborn student. The vast majority have unrealized magical blood somewhere in their family tree. Squibs, if you will.” His lieutenant blinked owlishly at him and he suppressed a smirk. “Since the beginning of the Ministry’s records, Hermione is the only true Muggleborn whose birth falls in the month of September.”
“I still don’t-”
“OH!” Severus exclaimed, mildly flushing as he realized he’d interrupted his friend. He twisted in his seat, tugging frustratedly at his robes as they twisted around his legs. “There were ten months in the original Roman calendar, starting in March. September was, in fact, the seventh month.”
The blond’s eye lit in realization. “September 19. In the midst…ah.” His lips pursed in sudden amusement as he glanced at his leader. “You gave Bella a mudblood to raise?”
“Not as far as she knows. As of right now, only you and Minerva are aware of Hermione’s true origins. And it will stay that way.”
It was unneccessary to elucidate the consequences of noncompliance and the two men both nodded in agreement.
“Now, return to your lovely wife, Lucius. Give her my best. Severus, a moment?”
The blond stood and dipped his head as a farewell before sweeping grandly from the room. Severus turned back to his old mentor.
“There is a war coming, Severus.”
The dark haired man sat placidly as he waited for further explanation. He’d known this was inevitable since before he’d left Hogwarts.
“Are you still in touch with your flower?”