Title: The Calm Before the Storm
Author: Jilly James
Fandom: Harry Potter
Characters: Hermione Granger, others
Genre: Gen (sorta)
Word Count: 1,000
Summary: Hermione finds out that she’s been dosed with love and loyalty potions.
Warnings: No beta, past use of love and loyalty potions (and all the ugliness that implies)
– – – –
Hermione apparated to the Burrow, immediately hearing the pop of Ron’s arrival. She forced a pleasant expression before crossing the wards with her husband.
As soon as she entered the house, Molly bustled up to them. Hermione had to force herself not to snarl at the bleating cow. “Hello, Hermione, Ron dear. We’re just about to eat. Go… sit.” She shooed them toward the living room.
“Hermione couldn’t tear herself away from her office,” Ron groused as he headed to the dining table.
In reality, Hermione had put off their arrival as long as possible, uncertain of her ability to keep her anger at bay. “Let me help you,” she said sweetly as she followed Molly into the kitchen, carefully watching her mother-in-law while listening for anything of note from the gaggle of Weasleys in the other room.
It was quick work to find the right dish to slip the potion into, then an agony of waiting for everyone to have consumed at least a bite. When the moment was right, she got to her feet, pulling a bottle of champagne from her dimensional bracelet.
“I have news,” she announced brightly.
“A baby?” Molly asked excitedly, not noticing the sour look on Ron’s face.
Hermione just smiled and began to pour. The only consolation in this whole mess was that there were no babies.
Once everyone had a glass, she said, “No baby, though I do see big changes in the future. But, tonight, my news is that I was promoted!”
There were sincere smiles and congratulations from everyone but Ron, Ginny, and Molly, but none of that mattered. All she cared about was that everyone drank a sip of champagne within thirty seconds, ensuring they got the activator dose. She almost had to force it on Harry, who was excitedly talking to her and not drinking, but he finally took a sip just as Ron passed out. Harry watched in shock as, one-by-one, the Weasleys all succumbed to the expertly brewed potion. Before he could say a thing, he too was rendered unconscious.
The pleasant expression she’d been forcing fell away, and she let the anger out. It was unlikely all the Weasleys were guilty, and she hoped not, but she wasn’t taking chances.
She slapped portkeys on them—with a little more force than necessary in Ron’s case—watching as they popped away.
She paused and stared at the Weasley family clock. The hands were moving aimlessly, as if the magic couldn’t make sense of things. The clock had been a factor in how Hermione executed her plan. It had forced her to get them all at once. She wasn’t actually on the clock. Molly kept saying she’d be there soon, but never got around to it.
Not being on the clock had turned into a blessing as it might have exposed what happened to her a week ago. Before she could stop herself, she wandlessly summoned the clock, effortlessly snapping the sticking charms. She raised the clock over her head, then smashed it into the floor. Grabbing one of Ron’s old brooms, she beat the clock until it and the broom were in pieces.
Breathing hard, she stared at the wreckage of the clock. She would have thought some of her rage would have been expended, but it wasn’t. In fact, she felt angrier.
Throwing the last bit of broom handle away, she turned and left.
– – – –
Hermione resettled the tea tray, then knocked on Harry’s door. When there was no response, she went in anyway, noting how Harry was sitting with his head in his hands, dejection in every line of his body. She’d been with him every step of the way so far—his initial anger at her deception, then the sickness as his body rid itself of the potions. Now, she needed to explain.
When she handed him the cup of tea, he straightened up and looked at her with red-rimmed eyes. Then the tea tray caught his attention. “Why four cups?”
“My accomplices are joining us shortly.”
“Your… accomplices,” he repeated.
She sat and took a sip of tea. “I was just as drugged as you, Harry. I wish I could say I figured it out on my own, but someone did for me what I have done for you.”
“What? Potioned you, abducted you, and watched you vomit and shake through four flushing draughts?”
He blinked. “I don’t understand.”
“I don’t think George is involved,” she remarked. “He has the potion skills to not need to buy the base. It terrifies me to think that if they hadn’t changed potion suppliers, we’d have likely never known.” She rubbed her thumb over the pendant she was wearing. A few seconds later, her two helpers entered.
Harry nearly dropped his teacup when Draco and Neville walked in, both coming to stand on either side of her chair.
Hermione gestured to Malfoy. “Draco has started several business enterprises under a secret trust to keep his family name out of the public eye. One of them is a potions supplier. He also financed Neville’s greenhouses. Neville came to Draco over some suspicious ingredient orders from Molly. They compared notes and drew some… conclusions. Two days later, Neville abducted me.” She glanced at the young man who had truly come into his own. “Thank you for kidnapping me, Neville.”
With a quirk of his lips, he inclined his head.
She looked back at Harry, watching his expression shift, not quite sure what going through his mind. “Our will has been subjugated for years. Probably since sixth year.” She set her tea down, leaning forward intently. “Are you mad yet, Harry?”
The lost look faded, and his expression tightened, eyes becoming hard. “What now?”
Draco pulled a vial from his pocket, the crystal vessel filled with distinctively-clear liquid sparkled in the light. “We see how far this goes,” he replied.
Harry nearly snarled as he crossed the room, yanked the vial away from Draco, and slammed the door.
– – – –
The Big Short is a short-story challenge on Rough Trade based on thematic or character prompts. The maximum word count for themes is 1k, for characters it’s 2k. They are NOT beta’d. I re-read them looking for errors, but that is all.
Each short story is complete AS IS. They will not be expanded on, there will be no sequels, they are not connected to anything else. Also, they are most assuredly NOT prompts themselves.
Oh yeah… these are not strays. I don’t run an adoption program.