hp: hermione fifty points

HP Fic: The Bucket LIst of One Hermione Granger

Title: The Bucket List of One Hermione Granger
Character(s): Hermione, Harry, McGonagall, Snape
Rating: PG-13
Wordcount: 4400
Summary: After the war, Hermione chooses a future.
Notes: written for the late leni_jess at springtime_gen. Many thanks to katmarajade for helping me come up with the idea.



Hermione's quill scratched against the ivory-colored parchment, which looked out of place on her white plastic Ikea desk. Her parents had taken her to buy new furniture last week. She'd protested, of course -- to have a bedroom at all was a luxury after her months in the tent -- but her father had insisted. "We want you to be comfortable here," he'd said, and Hermione had knew what he really meant: that he was worried she would leave, just as she had every summer after her second year at Hogwarts. This time, though, she would stay, and she brushed aside the guilty thought that it was only because she didn't know where else to go.

Two days ago, she had accepted the Order of Merlin. Now the heavy silver medal hung on the wall above her desk, next to her perfect attendance certificate from primary school. Her parents, their memories newly restored, had beamed from the audience, and Hermione had beamed right back until a reporter shouted, "What's next, Hermione?" Her smile froze. She realized she had no idea.

Forty-eight hours of contemplation had not provided an answer. Her life, always so full of ambitions and goals, had narrowed to just one task: helping Harry kill Voldemort. She had accomplished it, and the small pile of brochures on her bedside table offered no new direction. Training to be a mediwitch, joining the auror squad, sitting on the Truth and Reconciliation Committee...they were all possible, and yet not one seemed any more appealing than any other. If she could just decide what mattered, she thought, then she could find a direction. She began to write.

Get married, have children.


A second later, she scratched it out. It seemed like it belonged on the list, but only in the distant future. Or maybe she just thought it was part of her future because so many other people seemed to. And who said she had to get married in order to have children? Maybe she would adopt one when she was forty-seven. She reached for another roll of parchment, then shook her head. There were six of them in the bin already, screwed up in angry little wads, one or two of them slightly singed. She couldn't expect to get it right the first time -- or the seventh time, evidently -- but this one ought to be her draft. She could copy it neatly later. She tried number one again.

Retrieve parents from Australia, restore memories.


She crossed that one off too, but only because she'd already done it. "Moving forward already," she muttered. That made number two easy to write.

2. Live with parents for at least six months. (In progress)

"They're alright," she whispered to herself. "No one's going to hurt them." But she would be here, just in case.

3. Tell parents the truth about who erased their memories
3. Decide if telling parents truth will permanently destroy all possibility of healthy relationship.


This had not been covered in Advanced Techniques for Memory Alteration. She tapped her quill against the scroll, and it rained tiny dots of black ink. Think, Hermione. But the choice wasn't any easier than it had been a day ago, or even a month ago. She hadn't thought she would need to make it; she had thought she would die. If she thought her parents would be left behind, grieving and alone, she would never have been strong enough to lay down her life for Harry's. But could she say that to her parents? Would they understand it? How could they, after she had spent so many years hiding the dangers of her wizarding life?

"Oh, fuck it," she whispered, and the jolt of the forbidden word was enough to shake her free of her foul mood. She swore rarely, and she could feel the blush spreading across her cheeks, even though she was alone. She reached for a book and plunked it down over number three.

"Sorry," she whispered to it. The ink wasn't dry yet, and it would smear on the back cover, but she didn't care. She didn't want to look at her dilemma anymore.

4. Read all books on BBC Top 100 list.

It was high time she stopped neglecting her Muggle education. She padded down the stairs to her father's study, careful not to make a noise. She wasn't sure whether the sound of someone creeping through the house at night would frighten her parents, but she didn't want to take any chances.

The sight of her father's well-stocked bookshelves was vaguely reassuring. Whatever uncertainties lay ahead of her, she knew her future involved books. Alphabetized books, preferably -- however much her father loved to read, he did not share her passion for organization. Finding the first three books on the list -- To Kill a Mockingbird, Catch-22, and Pride and Prejudice -- took her nearly half an hour. When she was finished, she was surprised to find her father standing in the doorway, watching her.

"I didn't know you were still awake," she said, trying to hide how badly he had startled her. She should have been prepared; she caught her parents staring at her often, as if she were the best and most fascinating thing in the world. It made her feel horribly guilty.

"Thought I heard someone rummaging about," he said.

Hermione started to ask if he'd been afraid, but surely he hadn't been. His dressing gown was knotted neatly about his waist; she doubted he would have stopped to put it on if he had thought an intruder was in the house.

"It's good to have you home," he said.

"Yes," she said. "Absolutely." She took a deep breath, thinking of number three on her list. She didn't deserve her father's blind adoration. "Listen, Dad, there's something I need to tell you."

"Anything," he said. He smiled, and Hermione saw that the creases around his eyes had grown deeper. She lost her nerve.

"I'm sorry I didn't spend more time here at summer holidays," she said. "When I think that there was a war, and either one of us could have died before --"

"Hush," her father said. "I won't hear another word." He wrapped his arm around her shoulders and squeezed hard. "Your mother and I are very proud of you, and we don't blame you one bit for not wanting to spend your holidays here with your boring old parents."

Hermione wanted to protest, to tell him that he wasn't boring, that he was in fact the most marvelous person in the world, but he was already looking away, rifling through one of his desk drawers.

"Did I ever show you this?" he asked, waving a rather tattered-looking piece of paper at her. He switched on the lamp and spread the paper out on his desk. It was a map of Europe, crisscrossed with lines and circles drawn in bright red ink.

"I didn't ever stay home in the summer either, you know," her father said, tracing his finger over a line that connected London to Paris. "Whatever money I had, I cashed it in for a ticket as far as I could get. It drove my mother crazy, always having to wire me money to get home from wherever I'd ended up."

"Really?" Hermione asked. She tried and failed to picture her responsible dentist father in an obscure train station with nothing but the clothes on his back.

"Really," he said. "Never let it be said that your father doesn't understand the lust for adventure."

"Tell me more," she said with a smile.

***


It was nearly three in the morning when Hermione returned to her bedroom with several new items for her list. The parchment was still open on her desk, waiting for her. She approached it slowly, feeling vaguely guilty for what she was about to write down. After a conversation with her father, no less. But his stories of wandering the world had made her think of something she was absolutely certain she would want to do before she died.


5. Have sex.

She wrote it hastily and looked away. Then she looked back and giggled. Still smiling, she switched off the light and went to bed.

***


Her alarm awakened her at eight a.m., and she slapped at it blearily until she remembered why she had to get up early.

"Wedding," she muttered. "Shit."

She fumbled for the invitation on her desk. Hannah Abbot and Zacharias Smith. She wouldn't have pictured them together, but then, the end of the war had provoked a rash of new relationships and even marriages, especially among the survivors of the Battle of Hogwarts. Hermione had lost count of how many weddings she had attended in the past six months.

As soon as the ceremony was over, Hermione dashed to the punch bowl at the back of the tent. She liked the people here well enough, but they all wanted to know what she planned to do next, and she hated being caught without an answer -- especially when so many others were starting new jobs and planning marriages.

"I'll bet you twenty quid they don't last a year," a voice said behind her.

"Harry," she snapped. "That's not very appropriate." She looked around hastily for eavesdroppers and added, "Make it fifty."

"What are you doing all the way back here anyway?" Harry asked.

"I think I reached my small talk limit two weddings ago."

"I know the feeling."

"Then why do we keep coming to these things?"

"Good question. Want to go for a pint?"

Hermione pursed her lips; it was barely afternoon, and she didn't drink much anyway.

"It is legal, you know," Harry said mildly, but he added, "We can get a coffee if you'd rather."

They went to Starbuck's, partly because it was close by and mostly because it was Muggle. Even so, Hermione scanned the tables for reporters, and she saw Harry do the same.

"So what's on your mind?" Harry asked when they'd settled at a table with their coffees.

"How do you know anything's on my mind?" she asked, but Harry only rolled his eyes.

"I don't know. We've only been friends for seven years. Oh yeah, and there's the part where we spent months trapped in a tent together. Also, I think we might have been attacked by a giant evil snake pretending to be an old woman..."

"Well, when you put it that way..." Hermione couldn't help but smile, even if her good mood didn't last long. "I almost told my father last night that I was the one who erased his memory," she blurted.

Harry said nothing, and Hermione twirled her coffee cup between her fingers.

"Do you think I'm a terrible person for letting them believe Death Eaters did it?"

"No," Harry said quickly. "Believe me, Hermione, if my parents were here, I don't think there's anything I wouldn't do to keep them safe, or to keep my relationship with them."

"Thank you," she said quietly. She drew in a shaky breath. "But what do you think is the right thing to do?"

"I guess you have to ask yourself who it would help to tell them the truth," Harry said slowly. "If it would help them somehow, then I think you should tell them. But if it would only help you, I think you should keep quiet."

Hermione shook her head.

"When did you become the clever one?" she asked.

When she went home that night, she crossed number three off her list. Her decision was made: she would let her parents believe what made them happy. Figuring out how to forgive herself would be her job alone.

***


Over the ensuing weeks, the list grew. She made vows not to attend weddings if she did not want to, and beneath it she penned a promise not to attend funerals for people she had not known well. Never mind that people were still dying of mysterious, slow-acting curses, or that bodies were still being recovered from swamps, forests, and Death Eater mansions; she had to move on with her life somehow.

But how, exactly? The question still plagued her, and what she had intended to be the final draft of her list was punctuated by bright red question marks and little holes where she had applied her new erasing spell with too much gusto.

18. Find out how to become medi-witch (?)
19. Petition to be youngest member of Truth and Reconciliation Commission. Represent interests of Hogwarts students affected by war.
20. Do seventh year at Hogwarts (?)
21. Home study for NEWT equivalency program; stay home with parents longer.
22. Enquire with potential employers as to affects of NEWT equivalency on job application. (Must identify potential employers first)
23. Reform Werewolf Registration Laws (Probably need law degree first)


Finally, just after two a.m., she settled on a better #23:

23. Take your own advice: when at a loss, ask friends for help.

She fell asleep facedown on the parchment and did not awaken until Harry appeared in her room, carrying a tray of sandwiches.

"There's ink on your face," he said helpfully. He'd saved her a few sandwiches though, which Hermione thought was impressive.

"My mum let you come up here by yourself?" she asked, rubbing the sleep from her eyes.

Harry nodded around a mouthful of roast beef and swiss.

"I think she's figured out that we're not shagging."

"And that I'm not thirteen anymore."

"That too. Hey, what are you working on?"

She slammed a book down on top of the parchment. She'd intended to ask for advice, but suddenly it seemed to personal to share. Of course, her reticence only made Harry look more interested.

"Something naughty?" he asked, waggling his eyebrows.

She rolled her eyes.

"Not everything is about sex, you know."

"Knew it was too good to be true," he said. "So what is it."

Hermione sighed. At least they were back on comfortable territory: she sounded thoughtful and important, and Harry like a prurient teenager.

"If you must know, it's a bucket list. You know, a list of things I want to do before I die."

"Heavy," Harry said.

"I suppose. It's just that I can't decide which one to do first." She tossed the list at Harry and flung herself backwards onto the bed.

"Number five, definitely," Harry said with a wicked grin.

Hermione sat up and glowered, and Harry flinched. She could manage a good glare even when her face was burning with embarrassment.

"Be serious," she snapped. "I need help."

"All right." Harry took a deep breath. "I think you should burn this." He flicked his wand and a small flame appeared at its tip. Hermione jerked the parchment out of his hand.

"If you're not going to help..."

Her voice trailed off, and she bit her lip, trying not to show how frustrated she was. If this was what she got for showing some hint of vulnerability... The mattress shifted, and Hermione felt Harry settle beside her on the bed.

"Hermione, I don't think you understand. You're alive. We're all alive."

"I know that." She rolled up the parchment and held it protectively in her lap. "But for how long? We could get run over by a bus tomorrow, or some Death Eater could come out of hiding, or I could get cancer or trip over the stairs in the middle of the night... Life's precious, Harry. We can't waste it."

Harry pried the scroll gently from her hand.

"Do you know, I've never been happier? I mean, I know I shouldn't be. I miss Remus and Sirius and Dumbledore...and too many people to count really. But I just feel so alive. It's the first time I don't have some mission to fulfill, some quest I never chose for myself...Do you really want to take all the possibilities we have and narrow them down to a list?"

"Well, what else do you propose?" she asked. It was all well and good to talk about being a free spirit, but if it gave her no way to decide her path, she didn't think she'd like it.

"I don't know. That's the point," Harry said. He gestured at the scroll. "I dare you not to look at this for an entire week. Just give yourself some time to think."

"All right," Hermione said dubiously.

Harry swished his wand, and the parchment flew across the room and into her bottom desk drawer, which sealed with a final-sounding thunk, followed by something that sounded like a belch.

"There," Harry said triumphantly. "Won't open for at least a week."

"At least?" Hermione asked.

Harry shrugged apologetically.

"New spell. Still working out the finishing touches. It's not supposed to, er, burp like that." He rose from the bed and ambled toward the door. "Ring me if it won't open next week. Or if it keeps belching."

***


The desk drawer did indeed remain sealed, and though Hermione prodded at it from time to time, there was no way to tell if her parchment was still inside. But, much to her surprise, being separated from the list made her priorities clearer, so much so that she knew exactly what she had to do next: go to Hogwarts.

She apparated outside Scrivener's in Hogsmeade but for once did not go inside. Instead, she set off straight down the path to school. When Hogwarts appeared at the top of the hill, looking mostly whole, she let out a breath that she didn't realize she'd been holding. Three of the four towers had been rebuilt completely, and she could see that even the astronomy tower was nearing its completion. That made it easy to ignore the field of rubble and the burnt-out bridge that stretched in front of the castle.

She stepped briskly through the doors of the Great Hall, ignoring the gnawing feeling that she did not really know why she was here. Without students, the room was eerily quiet. The enchantment on the ceiling flickered in spots, revealing patches of ordinary gray stone. Hermione rushed out into the corridor, pushing back memories of bodies lying on the floor.

But the corridors were empty too. Hermione tried to focus on the floor beneath her feet, but it was impossible block out the scorch marks on the walls, the burn marks in the tapestries, and the torn paintings whose occupants she had once known so well. When she reached the gargoyle outside Dumbledore's -- no, McGonagall's office -- she wiped her face with her sleeve and breathed deeply until she felt calm again. It didn't matter what Hogwarts looked like, she told herself fiercely. It had stood for thousands of years; a few burn marks couldn't change that.

"Dumbledore," she said and smiled when the gargoyle swung aside. She wondered if McGonagall found the name as reassuring as she did.

But the office was empty. Dumbledore's delicate instruments puttered away on their tables, but the fine layer of dust betrayed that the office had been uninhabited for some time.

"Erased anyone's memory lately?"

Heermione jumped. The drawling, supercilious voice was so familiar that she expected to find Snape's black-clad figure looming over her, and when she didn't, she stared stupidly at the empty space above her head.

"The portrait," Snape drawled.

"Oh," Hermione said weakly. "I went to your funeral."

"How touching," Snape said. "I'll ask again: Erased anyone's memory lately?"

"How do you know about my parents?" she snapped.

"Your parents, Miss Granger?" Beneath his trademark bland expression, Snape looked vaguely surprised, perhaps even disturbed. Or perhaps Hermione was simply ascribing her own feelings to the portrait; she doubted it was capable of such complex emotion.

"I had assumed you intended to practice illicit memory charms on your enemies," Snape continued smoothly. His face, if it had ever betrayed any emotion, was expressionless. "Are your parents well?"

"Yes," Hermione said. "What's it to you?"

"A matter of curiosity only. I am something of an expert in the manipulation of the mind."

Hermione drew a shaky breath and fought the impulse to flee.

"How did you know I was practicing memory charms at all?"

She had been so careful when she had taken the books; she was sure no one had seen. Now she wondered who else knew.

"You underestimate me, Miss Granger. The books you stole were part of my personal store, and that blithering idiot Potter would have had no idea how to obtain them, much less use them. Only you could have taken them."

"Oh," Hermione murmured, her knees weak with relief. No one had seen; no one could have guessed what she had done and come after her parents, defenseless in Australia.

"Beware your powers, Miss Granger," Snape said. "Evil grows from the desire to control."

"You'd know."

"Yes. I do." Snape stared at her for a moment, then said, "If you are looking for Professor McGonagall, you will find her in her office. She prefers not to enter this room."

"Can't imagine why," Hermione muttered and Snape snorted.

"If your parents encounter trouble in their recovery, do not hesitate to come to me."

"Thank you," Hermione forced herself to say. She left the office without looking at him again.


***


McGonagall looked harried when she opened her office door, but her face softened when she saw Hermione.

"Miss Granger, to what do I owe the pleasure?"

"I don't know." She smiled apologetically. "I just...wanted to see the school again, I suppose."

"Do come in. I'm afraid I'm all out of biscuits, but have a seat." McGonagall stepped aside, holding the door open for Hermione. A squashy armchair zipped across the room and stopped in front of the desk.

"I suppose I came to see about my education," Hermione said, settling carefully at the edge of the armchair's cushion. Relaxing completely in front of McGonagall seemed impossible.

"Your education, Miss Granger? I'm afraid we haven't much left to teach you here." She rifled through the parchments on her desk and passed an official-looking one to Hermione. "Last year's NEWT. Do you see any questions you can't answer?"

Hermione scanned the first five questions. They were easy.

"Do try the last page," McGonagall suggested. "They are more difficult."

"But I can answer them," Hermione said. All the tiny transfigurations she had done to fit her life into an evening bag weren't just NEWT level, she realized; they were beyond it.

"I expected no less from the young witch who helped Harry Potter defeat Voldemort. I daresay he couldn't have done it without you."

"Thank you, Professor," she said automatically, still flicking through the test booklet. "It's just...I would have really enjoyed studying these things. Here, I mean. With you." It was the first time she had allowed herself to feel sad for anything she had sacrificed in the war.

"Thank you, Miss Granger. I would have enjoyed teaching them to you." McGonagall smiled wryly. "I fear to see what a mess the next seventh year's will make of it."

Hermione smiled back. Her smile grew wider when she saw the stack of parchments on the corner of McGonagall's desk.

"Professor, is that a pile of job applications?" she asked, hoping her voice wouldn't betray her nervousness. It seemed awfully presumptuous, asking for a teaching job at the age of eighteen, but evidently she was more qualified than she had thought, and Hogwarts certainly had openings. Perhaps she wouldn't have to leave here after all.

"Indeed they are, Miss Granger." McGonagall looked like she was about to say more, but Hermione began speaking quickly, afraid she would lose her nerve.

"Then I'd like to apply for the Defense Against Dark Arts position. I don't have a curriculum vitae yet, but I'll owl one first thing tomorrow morning."

"I'm afraid I can't allow that, Miss Granger. Until we are certain Voldemort's curse has dissipated, the position will be filled by an Auror." McGonagall gave her a small, knowing smile. "Besides, even an army of dark wizards is not as terrifying as a room full of eleven-year-olds holding a wand for the first time."

Hermione tried to smile back, but she had to swallow hard against the lump in her throat. She hadn't realized that she was coming back to Hogwarts to say goodbye.

"Please, Professor," she said. "I don't know what else to do."

But McGonagall only smiled.

"That, Miss Granger, is exactly the point."

***


Hermione's desk drawer opened two days after Harry had said it would, with the help of a crowbar and a disinfecting spell. Hermione had spent the morning carefully cleaning her desk of job applications she couldn't concentrate on and professional books that could not hold her interest. The tower of brochures that had once dominated her night table now lay in a glossy pile in the bin, replaced by her admission ticket to the NEWT equivalency test.

Carefully, she unrolled her scroll and dipped her quill in black ink. In quick, confident strokes she wrote:

25. Learn to live without a plan.

Then, one by one, she tucked her school books into her trunk and lay Hogwarts, A History on top. Her fingers lingered over its cover for a moment before she rose and snapped the trunk's lid shut. With a flick of her wand, it whizzed across the floor and into a corner of her closet. The door swung shut behind it.

Hermione closed her eyes and inhaled slowly.

"It's all right," she whispered. "Everything ends."

Then she lay down on the floor and spread out her father's old map. The world opened before her.
I commented at the fest already, but I'm going to pop in again to say I loved this fic :-D
This fic is wonderful! I love Hermione like this, all these possibilities and not knowing how to deal with them and where to look first. It's lovely.
Oh, yay! This is so awesome! I've been meaning to read this for a while now and, now that I have, I can't believe I waited so long! I specifically didn't read it over at springtime gen because I knew I'd want to be all SQUEE I LOVE! YAY MY PROMPTY HELP! which, not so good in the anon fest thing.

I've got such a fascination with post-war Hermione figuring out what on earth she wants to do and you got her perfectly! I loved her adding sex to her list and then blushing profusely, I think the BBC booklist was absolutely her, and I just loved Harry! I liked their reason for going to a Muggle Starbucks, his combination of wisdom and humor, and the burping locking spell! hehe.

The bits about the memory charms were fantastic. I have never read a version where they don't realize it was Hermione who did it and it's such an interesting notion! I enjoyed how you dealt with her turmoil over whether or not to tell them, Harry's wise words, and Snape's comments! (I'm also interested in a memory charm aftermath fic now if her mum gets a little twitchy or something as a side effect and portrait Snape has to help out!)

I loved how she looked at the NEWT and realized she was already so far past it and how she had to say good bye to Hogwarts. I loved traveler!Mr Granger and Hermione's shock about it.

Basically this fic was just made of every conceivable bit of win and I adore it. Not just because I practically requested it myself Your stuff is always brilliant but this one was particularly awesome.
As always, your feedback is much, much too kind. Writing this story was quite a struggle, so it means a lot that you found so many things to like.

The more I thought about it, the less I could believe that Hermione and her parents could have a good relationship if they knew what she'd done. I mean, how could you trust anyone who'd erased your entire memory and made you live a completely different life? As much as I admire Hermione's determination, I think what she did was wrong -- and I think, now that the war is over, she knows it too. It would be so easy to let her parents believe someone else did it. I'm glad that worked for you too!

Also, thank you for the email about the story that got recc'd in the quibbler report. I was out of town with really spotty internet access, so I didn't get to reply, but it was really sweet of you to message me :)
Ahh, I love this. Hermione interacting with my favorites--including Snape's portrait!--and her fumbling to figure things out. Harry's emotionally cued-in reaction worked well in this.