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Hermione clutched her backpack closer to her chest as a man in a business suit pushed through the throng of people to the exit before the doors of the underground train could close again.
Three more stops. Two. One.
She stepped out of the compartment and shouldered her backpack. She was a bit lost in the gaggle of people, many of them tourists or school children, but quickly located the correct exit.
It was already late afternoon, and if she intended to meet her parents at Oxford Circus at 6 p.m., she knew she'd better hurry. Waterlow Park around her was beautiful in this particular light. She paid no attention to the tall trees and well-kept gardens, though; her way led her further along. A bit out of breath she reached the iron gates to Highgate Cemetery at last. She hurried through, paid the entrance fee and walked on briskly.
A stone angel seemed to smile at her, lost in timeless reverie, and filigree stone crosses flanked both sides of the path she hurried along. Karl Marx and Michael Faraday were buried here, and here, a distant part of her brain tried to tell her. Her gaze swept over the gravestones, uninterested. The graveyard was indeed peaceful, and as picturesque as the travel guides had made it out to be, but that was not her concern. Finally she reached the east cemetery and came to a stop, panting a little.
She shouldered out of the straps of her backpack and, after making sure no one was around, pulled out 'Hogwarts, a History'. She quickly thumbed to the page she'd marked, reread a couple of paragraphs, then began looking for a certain tomb before slapping her forehead in frustration. She wouldn't be able to find it like this, after all. Which was why she had prepared... there it was. She fished a small, colorful piece of paper out of her purse, unfolded it once and muttered a single word in Latin. She'd had to prepare for the occasion, not being allowed to use her wand during the holidays, so she'd bound the spell to paper. A pureblood wizard would have written it on a scroll of parchment, Hermione -- fully aware of the inherent irony -- had taken a Muggle post-it note instead.
It was as if shutters had fallen from her eyes. In just an instant, the cemetery stretched and three or four more rows of tombs appeared, all as equally hidden among trees, high grass, and woodland as the Muggle graves. She stepped up to one of the newer ones that had a smiling fay on it, which was beating her wings in slow motion, as tranquil and sombre as her surroundings, an expression of gentle sorrow on her elven features.
She hesitated. The fay tilted her head a fraction and looked at her questioningly.
"It's just magic," she hissed at herself, angry at her sudden indecision, "it's not like hurting a real creature. It's not like she'd feel it."
She got out another piece of paper and said a different Latin word. The fay froze as if petrified. Another piece of paper, another word. Something... tangible seemed to flee the place. Now the stone of the tomb was just that: simple stone, grey-flecked and washed-out from standing almost two decades unprotected in the open. The protective and decorative magic was gone. Good. Wizards hardly ever used the more sensible stones Muggles did, relying too much on sandstone, limestone, and other soft materials that were easy to shape. She smiled in grim satisfaction.
Beyond the wards disguising this part of the graveyard from Muggle eyes, no one would be able to see what she was doing. Still, she looked around like a guilty schoolgirl while unpacking a can of red spray paint and a package of instant-filling cement from her backpack as well as a bottle of water. She felt silly. This was insane and immature. Everyone who knew her would be appalled.
Still, she had promised herself she'd do this. For Harry. For Sirius.
She filled in the three pompous lines of engraved words immortalizing the tomb's occupant, evened the surface with the spatula she'd brought so that the letters would be almost illegible once the cement dried, and looked around in alarm when the light of the slowly setting sun fell on her efforts. She had to hurry; the cemetery closed at 5 p.m.
With fumbling hands, she took up the can of spray paint and shook it. Carefully measuring the stone in front of her with her eyes, she sprayed her own account of the occupant's heroic deeds onto the grey stone.
She stepped back to admire the sight and couldn't help but grin broadly.
"Hermione, you are a true artist," she giggled with a touch of hysteria. Squashing the feelings of guilt, she scrambled to pack up the tools of her trade and erased all signs of her presence.
Ten steps to the West, and she felt the tingle of the wards as she arrived once again on the other side of the spells set up to protect the Wizarding World's dead from the view of passers by. Now the graveyard seemed to end a couple of inches from where she was standing.
She ran to the exit, her heart beating wildly in excitement. She'd done it. Now she'd only have to hurry to meet her parents before they started to worry that their studious daughter had become lost in the stacks at the British Library.
The ticket seller sent a glare at the brown-haired girl hurrying past without a care for the proper behaviour befitting the holy grounds she'd just left, then gestured her colleague to lock the iron gate. Time to close up for the day.
No one saw the stone monument, now bearing, in red capitals, beneath the flourished engraving of "Peter Lambert Pettigrew" and the dates of his birth and death, the succinct words:
| BETRAYER OF HIS BEST FRIENDS.
TRAITOR TO THE DARK LORD.
"Harry Potter" ficlet by allaire mikháil, 1.007 words, gen, Hermione POV, rated PG
In my opinion, Hermione has hidden depths no one even suspects. That together with my displeasure with recent developments (see OotP) in Rowling's storyline must have inspired this story. I still don't know exactly where it all came from, but it demanded to be written.
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