“That was the most insane fiasco I have ever been part of.” Severus groaned as he flopped on the black leather couch in his quarters.


Hermione snickered at him as she walked in the door behind him. The portrait swung closed behind her with a small click. “That was brilliant.”


“Brilliant.” Severus pinched the bridge of his nose as he repeated her. “Just what was so ‘brilliant’ about that? So inspiring? So extraordinary?”


“Within a minute of a display proving my superior lovemaking skills, Asta hits puberty and Nicolai is ousted as a woman loving traitor.” Hermione strutted by her husband, stopping to place a kiss on his forehead.


She twitched her hips as she stopped to pet Crookshanks. The fluffy orange cat rubbed against her hand purring deeply.


Severus looked at her. She seemed to be doing a small victory dance. He chuckled in spite of himself. Hermione turned and smiled at him. Then she got a look on her face as if she were having a revelation.


“How long until we have to do the Ceremony of the Shard?” Hermione asked excitedly.


When the Amazonian scribes had started calling the information exchange ‘The Ceremony of the Shard’ Dumbledore had waved them off claiming they just hoped it would turn into something big.


Hermione was just thankful the Daily Prophet hadn’t been leaked anything.


“After dinner, I think.” Severus pulled a tarnished brass pocket watch out of his robes and checked it. “We have a few hours until Anna will be ready to serve all of us. Why?”


“Do we have enough time to test out the languages in my bathroom?” Hermione grinned at Severus hopefully.


“I honestly wouldn’t suggest it.” Severus said reluctantly. “I know you’re just thinking of your intriguing frog faucet, but there could be a great many things in there and we wouldn’t want to start something we couldn’t finish. It might even be wise to have Dumbledore there.”


 Severus looked at Hermione’s disappointed expression. “I know you’re just itching to get your hands on ancient enchantments that haven’t been meddled with. Your initial examination and hypothesis can wait for later, my dear. We should even arrange to have a house elf take notes as we try different things.”


“Suppose you’re right.” Hermione sighed. “It’s just so hard to wait.”


She walked over to the small Wizarding Wireless near her chair by the window and switched it on. Severus tilted his head back on the couch and closed his eyes. A lilting instrumental came through the small box and Hermione picked up a book she had sitting nearby and idly examined the spine.


He was truly glad his parents liked her so much. He sincerely hoped her parents would survive the holiday in France with his family.


The weather had been getting colder. Leaves had already been stripped from the trees and the ground was awash with brown crunchy piles of them. Halloween was just around the corner. Their first Christmas together was quickly approaching. Hopefully the first of many with both their families present, celebrating together in a pleasant location. Part of Severus groaned over being subjected to his mother, but part of him hoped it would all go well.


At least Hermione’s father couldn’t curse him. Thank the heavens for small favors.


“Why are you staring at me?” Hermione asked him without looking at him.


“I was thinking about Christmas.” Severus sighed. “End of term tests.”


“You know, they don’t expect you to take them.” Hermione smirked as she opened the book and skimmed a page.


“Thank heaven for that.” Severus sighed. “I passed my N.E.W.T.’s by the skin of my teeth.”


“Did you really?” Hermione chuckled at him and closed her book. “Then why are you so hard on them?”


“Because once you drill it into their heads you can start looking into theory and making real discoveries.” Severus said. “I’d just like one of my students to come up with some sort of breakthrough. Higgins at the Salem Institute already has two Potions Masters under his belt and he’s only been teaching a decade. What do I have? ‘Miracle Breakthrough’ youth serums and enchanting scents.”


“Is that what all this is about?” Hermione laughed at him. She set the book back down and looked at him. “You are completely insane, you know that?”


“What’s wrong with trying to produce a successful student?” He was annoyed.


“You’re trying to produce a prodigy, not a successful student.” Hermione quirked an eyebrow at him. “The Salem Institute just got lucky, if you’re talking about Masters Young and Chen. They were being mentioned briefly in the press by the time they were out of their first year at the Institute. Those kids were gifted; it had nothing to do with their teacher.”


“I suppose you’re right.” Severus sighed.


“I think I’m going to see Anna. Since the Brotherhood had to get here from so far away they hooked up a Floo from Mageeya Topeek. I can transfer to their house from Yuri’s pub.” Hermione’s voice sounded hopeful as she said Yuri’s name.


“I’d better go with you.” Severus groaned as he sat up. “If you breeze through and I’m not there to see Yuri while you… do whatever it is you women do in the kitchen, I’ll never hear the end of it from my mother.”


“Have a drink while you’re there. You’re too high strung.”


“You would be as well if you thought about what we’re accomplishing.”


“What are we accomplishing?” Hermione asked crossly. “Learning a couple languages magically and solving the secret decoder ring? What have we actually done? The most important thing coming from this is the Amazons and the Brotherhood talking again and even though we are their excuse we still haven’t done anything.”


“But without you this whole thing would fall apart.” Severus shook his head.


“I doubt it.” Hermione brushed him off. “If it wasn’t this it would be something else. The world is getting smaller and they can’t go on fighting forever.”


“Possibly.” Severus said slowly. “But unlikely to happen so peacefully.”


“Technically, you should thank You-Know-Who for creating such a disturbance the Jotun had to be called in.” Hermione said shrewdly.


“And the Shard?” Severus arched an eyebrow at her.


“It may just be a list of things to do and a key to a celestial pantry.” Hermione said loftily.


Severus shook his head and stood up. He walked across the room took a heavy, black woolen cloak from a hook near the door. “Fine. Believe what you wish. I will do the worrying for both of us.”


“You always do.” Hermione smiled at him.




“Severus!” Yuri bustled out from behind his bar, much to the annoyance of the customer who was waiting for his drink. “It is good to see you and your beautiful wife this fine night! What brings you to my fine establishment?”


Hermione got the faintest impression that Yuri was magically bound to the pub when she crossed the threshold from the fireplace. She looked down and just saw her normal black shoes on a stone floor.


Yuri was wearing a dingy tan shirt and brown trousers. A dark brown cracked leather apron hung around his waist. His hands were wet from dipping mugs and glasses in soapy water to clean them. Brown curls were plastered to his forehead with sweat and steam from the sink.


“Hermione is just passing through on her way to see Anna.” Severus quirked his mouth as he accepted his cousin’s damp embrace. “I will be staying here until she needs me to escort her back.”


“It is good to have you here Severus!” Yuri said warmly as he clapped Severus on the shoulder and hugged Hermione. Yuri kissed her on both cheeks and grinned mischievously at Severus. “You can help me tend bar. Ivanna is home with a chill tonight.”


Severus sighed and Hermione giggled.


“This is just what you need. Something to keep your hands busy.” Hermione insisted. “I’ll be back in a bit. Try not to get too drunk.”


“I will not be getting drunk.” Severus said testily.


“We shall see about that!” Yuri grinned widely and pulled Severus away by the arm as Hermione laughed at them.


She pulled a small bag of Floo Powder out of her robes and threw it into the hearth. She gave the green flames the directions to the Titov house and stepped into the fire.


Hermione was nearly knocked flat by a heavy iron skillet whizzing through the air as she stepped into the kitchen at Pieter and Anna’s house.


Anna gave a surprised exclamation in Russian that Hermione didn’t understand and grabbed her by the arm, pulling her close and out of harms way.


Copper pots, heavy iron skillets, shiny silver saucepans, and colorful ceramic bowls, all with magically turning spoons, whisks and spatulas swept through the air. Trays heavily laden with piles of food and silver pitchers filled with different colored liquids circled the kitchen in different patterns as they went from station to station getting a bit of garnish, a splash of sauce, a dollop of cream.


“Good Lord.” Hermione breathed from the safety of the eye of the storm in the center of the kitchen.


Hermione felt smidgens of thoughts prodding at the back of her head. Children running through the kitchen. The warmth of a blazing fire. The smell of spices used long ago. Darker things long ago. She looked down to see a thin carpet rolled out over the ceramic tiled floor.


This was going to be quite odd for awhile.


“It is some work to get them all started.” Anna said simply. Her dark hair was braided and coiled around her head. The kohl around her eyes was slightly smeared from the heat. She wore a plain purple linen dress with a cream colored apron over it. “But once they all get going you just have to watch it as it gathers speed. Then it can go on its own.”


“They’re all intertwined?” Hermione asked. “How do you even begin to do something like that?”


“There are some good ideas in Chang’s Examination of Bronze Age Magicks.” Anna said.


“I- don’t believe I’ve heard of that one.” Hermione frowned.


“I believe I have a copy in Mandarin if you’d be interested.” Anna smiled as she pulled her wand out of her pocket and waved it.


Everything in the kitchen froze. Batters and liquids sloshed around in their abruptly halted containers. Spoons and whisks still stirred slowly.


“We can go have some tea while this is going on.” Anna insisted as she led Hermione through the kitchen, winding their way around floating utensils, bowls, pots and pans. “The kitchen will not need me for awhile.”


When they stepped through the door leading out of the kitchen Anna waved her wand again and the bustling started up.


“That’s amazing.” Hermione said shaking her head. She was glad to be standing on thick carpeting so she wouldn’t have to feel the memories of the home around her.


“If I have enough time to do this on a Sunday afternoon I can prepare food for the whole week. You, of course, have house elves for that sort of thing at Hogwarts.” Anna walked with Hermione to Pieter’s study. A pot of tea was steaming on a low table near a large black leather couch.


“You could still apply it to a laboratory setting.” Hermione pointed out.


“That is what it was for originally.” Anna admitted. “I just thought it was more practical in the running of a kitchen.”


Hermione laughed. “Pieter told me you were excellent at planning banquets.”


“Oh yes!”  Anna sat on the couch and patted the place next to her. “I used to feed most of the Quidditch teams that came through the area. Ministry functions. Private gatherings.”


Hermione sat as Anna poured her a cup of tea. “It must have been interesting to be a part of so many functions.”


“Then there was the fateful day I accepted a job from some men that called themselves the Mystic Brotherhood.” Anna sighed as she poured her own cup. “Some ridiculous fellow with a big bushy beard followed me around all night trying to pinch my bottom!”


“He didn’t!” Hermione gaped as she spooned some sugar into her cup.


“He was quite the scamp that evening, I assure you!” Anna shook her head at Hermione. “I cannot believe I managed to get anything done!”


“And you married him anyway?” Hermione giggled as she put a dash of cream in her cup and took a sip.


“The next day he sent me flowers and a letter of apology.” Anna smiled as she sipped at her tea. “It was quite sweet.”


“Men are good at doing that,” Hermione remarked.


“Yes they are, and a good thing for them, too,” Anna said with a sniff.


“How long has it been since you had a job like this?” Hermione asked interestedly.


“Last Christmas I did a meal for the St. Petersburg Potatoes.” Anna shrugged. “I still take a few jobs a year, but for the most part I’m retired.”


“I’d hardly say looking after your family is retired.” Hermione remarked. “Where are the children?”


“I sent them to France early.” Anna smiled. “Their Auntie Stacy is more than happy to have a house full of children.”


“Smart move.” Hermione said smiling.


Anna pulled her wand out and waved it at the table. A tray of warm vanilla cookies appeared. “It will also spare you from her prodding you to produce an heir. She will have had her fill of children before you arrive.”


“I figured that was going to happen soon.” Hermione winced.


“You do not have to worry too much.” Anna said as she nibbled a cookie. “She herself didn’t have Severus until she was much older. She is just anticipating children like children anticipate Christmas.”


Hermione smiled. “I know how she feels.”




Hermione walked through the fireplace in Mageeya Topeek to collect Severus and found herself staring in wonderment.


There was quite a crowd and they were being quite boisterous. There was a pretty girl dancing as people sang a folk song. Yuri was busy pouring drinks behind the bar.


As the lyrics in the song broke and an uplifting violin solo slunk out of the shadows of the rest of the musicians Hermione’s eyes fell on her husband.


She didn’t even know he knew how to play.


He was rusty to be sure, and he seemed to be pulling bits of songs together to make his solo instead of coming up with something improvisational and brilliant, but his heart was in it.


It didn’t deter the girl any and she continued dancing around him and people kept clapping along with the music.


Yuri motioned to Hermione and she pulled her cloak off as she got behind the bar.


“What am I doing?” Yuri hastily shoved a tray full of short glasses filled with vodka into her hands.


“Table three!” Yuri pulled his wand out of a pocket on the front of his leather apron. He waved it and a small fireworks show went off over a table of young men that were clapping along with the music.


Hermione hurried over to the table and smiled as she served the young men. One of them handed her a silver coin that she didn’t recognize. She smiled and nodded politely, not knowing if he knew any English.


She hurried back to the bar and grabbed a second tray from Yuri, following his fireworks to the next table.


“People have been giving me these.” Hermione showed him the smile pile of silver coins she had accumulated after her fourth trip. “Is it payment? Do I owe them change?”


“They are yours for bringing people drinks.” Yuri smiled as he handed her another tray.


The music had stopped and Hermione felt a hand on her shoulder.


“This is the last one.” Severus said to Yuri over Hermione’s shoulder. “We really have to be going.”


“You should come to see us more, Severus!” Yuri insisted as Hermione bustled to the last table to be served. She smiled and nodded politely as a large, bald man with a ginger bushy mustache gave her a small silver coin and she made her way back to the bar.


“You must come to France and brave one of mother’s gatherings!” Severus said silkily.


Hermione saw the look of horror on Yuri’s face. “And put up with constant badgering about getting married again? I’d rather kiss a goat.”


“You know, the more I hear about this, the more I want to stay away.” Hermione quirked a corner of her mouth at them.


“It’s fine as long as we can keep mother away from the brandy.” Severus shuddered.


“Ha! You tell her this year there will be no eggnog, then!” Yuri barked out a laugh.


“I’m sure we will all survive.” Hermione insisted looking at Yuri pointedly.


“I will consider it.” Yuri said with a measured gaze at Hermione. “Svetlana would like to see her young cousins, I think.”


“It would be nice seeing them all together on Christmas morning.” Hermione smiled silkily.


“I see why your mother likes her so much.” Yuri smirked at Severus.


“Inconvenient at times.” Severus shrugged as he and Yuri sized up Hermione as if she were a prize cow.


Hermione made a face at Severus and Yuri laughed. “I wish Tashi could have met you. I shudder to think of the group of you plotting together.”


Hermione hugged Yuri tightly. He held onto her tightly. “Such lovely women we’re so lucky to find. Do your best to keep yours.”


Hermione kissed him on the cheek.


Severus looked uncomfortable. Hermione watched his expression fade into the stoic look she had known him to always have until they had married.


Yuri turned to give his cousin a firm hug. “You were always her favorite, you know. She never blamed you. Even when she knew they were coming for her. Her mother is a delusional old cow and I tell Svetlana this is her way of grieving. You should come see us more Severus. We miss you.”


“You should come to see us!” Hermione interjected before her husband said something stupid.


“Ha!” Yuri burst out, breaking the tension. Severus raised an eyebrow at his wife as his cousin’s attention was turned to her. “It appears that you have me backed into a corner. Against my better judgment, I will owl Anastasia. I am sure she will be thrilled.”


“See you at Christmas, then!” Hermione artfully pried Yuri from Severus and they backed into the fireplace. Hermione and Severus felt the familiar whooshing sensation of being whisked away through the Floo Network.


They tumbled from the fireplace into their quarters at Hogwarts due to Severus trying to hug Hermione in transit and knocking them off balance.


“Masterfully done, my dear.” Severus said, kissing her before he got to his feet. “My mother will probably spoil you rotten for talking him into that.”


Hermione kissed him back as she pulled herself to a standing position. “I like your family. They all seem so nice. How they managed to make a grouchy old piss like you, I’ll never know.”


Severus laughed heartily. Hermione smiled. He smirked at her and snorted a laugh out occasionally, but he still rarely laughed outright. For Hermione it was a special gift to be savored.


“My mother would probably pay money to know.” Severus chuckled.


“Well, it’s about time for dinner and the ceremony.” Hermione said, glancing at a little clock above the fireplace.


“That means it’s time to go eat Anna’s wonderful collection of tasty things and go listen to a bunch of blowhards talk about how smart they are.”


“Oh!” Hermione said in mock surprise. “Well, that’s fine. I do that every night eating with you.”


She shrieked in mock fright as Severus chased her around their sitting room.




Hermione was sitting in Dumbledore’s study wishing there was some way to make more room in her stomach for any more food. Dinner was spectacular with piles of meat pies and pastries, colorful steamed vegetables, fresh bowls of fruit, and breads of varying textures and shapes. She now sat enjoying a sweet cup of coffee and looking at a tray of various types of cookies and sweets.


Pieter didn’t look any better than she did. He had stuffed himself silly and was on his third cup of coffee. They sat near each other in identical burgundy velvet armchairs. He groaned as he reached for another sweet.


“I think it’s time to give up, old man.” The boy named Mikhail laughed at Pieter.


Pieter gave a weak look to Mikhail and took a much smaller cookie than he was reaching for.


Hermione chuckled. “If I have to roll you home I’m never going to let you forget it.”


“You know, this is further proof women are temptresses.” Pieter said conspiratorially to her. “They make us lazy and soft.”


“Not unless you are a gluttonous pig.” Anna smacked him on the shoulder as she came up behind him and sat on the arm of his chair.


“I’m going to have to agree.” Hermione quirked an eyebrow at Pieter.


“Of course you do.” The chair creaked as Pieter sat back. “You are in on the plan. Look at my cousin. Living a carefree bachelor life of study and fishing and you come along. Now he’s going to the ballet and smiling like a fool at you whenever your back is turned. Temptresses!”


“Does he really?” Hermione looked at her husband. He was talking to Dumbledore near a wooden pedestal and gesturing to the black velvet bag sitting on it. Sophia had a hand on Dumbledore’s arm. Her lips were pursed and she was nodding at what Severus was saying.


“It is very sweet.” Anna insisted as she stopped Pieter from reaching for another cookie. She looked at him. “I did keep some for you at home and the children are not around to make them disappear.”


He shrugged and settled down in his chair.


Severus made his way over to them and sat in a black leather chair near Hermione. “We think you should be the first to look at it. It’s gauged to you and we don’t know if one of us touching it will change anything within it.”


“But you’ve touched it before.” Hermione looked quizzically at Severus.


“But the languages we learned changed us. The rules may be different now.” Severus took her hand in his. “Do be careful.”


“I’ll try.” Hermione smiled weakly at him.


She saw Dumbledore motion to her and she walked to the podium.


He said a few words about international cooperation and past prejudices holding people back before he turned to Hermione. She picked up the pouch and heard whispers of thought at the fringes of her mind.


She swallowed as she opened the pouch and poured the Shard out into her hands.


“Oh my.” Hermione said shakily as the Shard spoke to her.


She saw a door in her mind that she had no doubt she could open. She wanted to reach for it, but she remembered Severus’ warning and held herself back.


What she thought were snippets of some sort of list were actually a description of a place. It was the door to another place. Perhaps somewhere no one had been for thousands of years.


But the amazing thing was the chain. She now knew it wasn’t metal at all.


She saw it: watched as a man with her face sat under a tree in a field so green it hurt her eyes. He plucked long grey strands of hair from his own head and wove them together. A tear in the fabric of reality near him made him look up and smile. Hermione watched as a blonde haired woman stepped through the tear and approached him. He quickly strung the shard on the thin rope of hair and brought out a long thin piece of metal from the sleeve of his shirt. He tapped the rope and it turned the shimmering silver that Hermione had always known it to be. Hermione watched as he looped the chain over the woman’s head and kissed her.


Hermione started out of her reverie as Dumbledore removed the shard from her hands.


The first thing she noticed was that he was wearing dragon hide gloves.


“What happened?” Hermione asked.


“Your eyes looked like the shard for a moment.” Pieter looked concerned. “They were crystalline and flashing colors.”


“It was showing me its origins.” Hermione said. “Heimdall made the chain from his own hair and enchanted it into metal for a human woman. I didn’t get any more than that.”


“Fascinating.” Nicolai looked at the Shard in wonderment.


Severus approached the podium and took the Shard from Dumbledore with his bare hands. He held it up and Hermione could finally read the message the Shard signaled.


If you wish to fill the vessel of the mind

Seek out the treacherous path to the Givers of Life.

There you will find truth, treachery, harmony, despair

The best of foods and minds

And the most dangerous of all Gods.


Hermione watched as his eyes sparkled as hers must have. He didn’t seem to spend much time analyzing what he was seeing, though, because he put the Shard down after a moment.


“I saw a door.” Severus said simply. “Nothing more.


“Really?” Hermione said, surprised. “That’s odd.”


“Not really.” Nicolai said. “We had a feeling there would be some things only accessible to you.”


Hermione noticed there were a few members of the Brotherhood pointing various interments at her. Some were small wooden boxes with what looked like screens on them. Some were just holding thin stones. One was holding something that looked like a double pronged wand.


“What’s all that about?” Hermione asked, her eyebrows knitted.


“Possession detectors, chi monitor, curse alarm.” Nicolai said off-handedly as the men put their tools away. “Just a precaution.”


“A wise idea considering the circumstances.” Nyssa nodded as she pocketed a small white feather she had cupped in the palm of her hand. Nicolai raised his eyebrows, but said nothing.


“Are you thinking the same thing I am, Nici?” Dumbledore peered at the Shard. “This is no time for games.”


“It leads to the Jotun and Loki’s torture chamber.” Nicolai said flatly after he read the flashing specks of light.


“And my wife has been wearing it around her neck like an herb pouch. Lovely.” Severus handed the Shard to Dumbledore who had pulled his gloves off.


Nicolai took it from Dumbledore after a moment and Dumbledore looked at Hermione curiously.


“You never had a hint of this before now?” Dumbledore asked carefully.


“Are you kidding?” Hermione heard herself splutter. Severus bit back a laugh at Dumbledore’s startled look. “Do you honestly think I’d be bandying about with it on if I’d known what it was?”


“Of course not!” Pieter said with a laugh. “Although it is traditional to go somewhere exotic during your holiday.”


The Brotherhood members each held the Shard in their hands for a moment in turn. Nicolai bowed to Nyssa before handing the Shard over to the Amazons to have their turn examining it.


Hermione walked back to her chair and reached for her cup of tea. She sipped at it and shook her head as Pieter reached for another cookie while Anna was refilling teapots throughout the room.


“That would be an interesting Christmas trip. We should take your mother.” Pieter smiled at Severus. “She would be more than happy to protect us. It would be like the safaris she used to organize when we were small”


“Can we leave here there when we’re done?” Severus asked with mock interest as he sipped from his cup.


Hermione kicked him gently in the shin. “Knock that off. Your mother loves you.”


She looked at Severus curiously. “She used to organize safaris?”


“Oh, yes!” Pieter exclaimed, showering Hermione with cookie crumbs. “Every summer we would go to Africa to look for crumple-horned snorkacks!”


“What?!” Hermione choked.


Severus groaned.


“There was a myth when we were young- how did it go Severus?” Pieter said with a smile on his face. He was savoring the act of embarrassing his cousin in front of Hermione.


“There once was a unicorn that fell in love with a reindeer.” Severus said with a scowl. “They bred a foal that had a twisted volatile horn, a coat of gold, and stardust glitters in its wake. The hair from the tail of the crumple-horned snorkack, when used in wandmaking, will create a wand that can change destinies and shape reality.”


“So we went looking for them.” Pieter said, a satisfied look on his face.


“Reindeer in Africa?” Hermione asked skeptically.


“Only my wife, of all the things she’s just been told, decided a reindeer in Africa is the strangest.” Severus shook his head at her.


Pieter chuckled. “We decided when we were about seven that they must have migrated.”


“Well, that makes sense.” Hermione said.


“Hermione?” Nicolai said.


“Yes?” Hermione hurried over to the cluster of magic users.


“Viktor claims you are Muggle born, is this right?” Nicolai asked.


“That’s right.” Hermione said.


“Not a magical grandparent or great grandparent? Sometimes they told their children they were faith healers or touched by God.” Nicolai said anxiously.


“No old family stories like that that I know of.” Hermione frowned. “I’ll ask my parents at Christmas, but I would think if they knew anything they’d have put it together by now and said something.”


“Perhaps.” Nyssa said, her lips pursed as she examined Hermione, as if by looking at her Nyssa could divine Hermione’s genetic code.


“It would be interesting to test the bloodlines of your parents.” Nicolai mused.


“It would not.” Pieter snapped. “It would be archaic and insulting.”


“I’m not sure my parents would mind.” Hermione admitted, putting a hand on Pieter’s arm. “Genetic testing is being looked at seriously in the Muggle world. Crossing magic and medicine may just be a few years off.”


“Have you even told them about this?” Pieter asked under his breath.


Hermione’s reddening cheeks answered his question.


“Well, you might want to ask them if they would consider it.” Nyssa said. “Just as a curiosity. It would be interesting to see if your Muggle parents were capable of using a magical device attuned to their bloodline. It could lead to a breakthrough of magical objects that can be used by Muggles.”


“Are you planning on breaking the Secrecy Vows?” Nicolai raised an eyebrow at her.


Pieter had told Hermione the Brotherhood was against the Secrecy Laws from their first conception. They would like nothing better than for the world to know what a wonderful library they had. Historically, the Amazons said it was just because the Brotherhood liked to show off far too much, and they could hardly be considered secret society if they kept up their escapades.


Pieter didn’t disagree, but he pointed out the Amazon attack that created Siberia was hardly subtle.


“Not at all, but we have never limited the transference of knowledge to Muggle families of magic users. They know about us. Why not be able to give your mother a blanket she was able to change the color and temperature of? I’m not suggesting we make Muggle-ready wands that hold magic, but household items are harmless enough.”


“Muggle-ready wands?” Nicolai mused. “I think asking the Jotun to stay above ground permanently would be less destructive.”


“I’ll speak to my parents over the holiday.” Hermione said quickly. “We’ll let you know after the beginning of the year.”


“Hermione’s bloodline appears to be anything but normal.” Severus remarked. “If we test one parent we should test both so we know where her celestial origins come from and see how a control subject reacts.”


Pieter turned to glare at Severus. “I cannot believe you think this is a good idea.”


“We’re not forcing them.” Severus said coldly. “It’s a curiosity. If they show no interest that will be the end of that. Hermione can’t be the only one that this thing will talk to. You’re talking about 1500 years of people on an island making babies. I’m sure there are more families that will get the same reaction. She was just lucky.”


“People did have boats, Severus.” Pieter said. “And Britain was a popular place. Plenty of people came and went. You may have to search the world before you find this set of circumstances.”


“More the reason to suggest it.” Nyssa said.


“Testing bloodlines is always a bad idea.” Pieter shook his head. “It excuses all sorts of unethical behaviors.” He glared at Severus. “If they considered this we would have to be very careful about it.”


“There’s no reason not to get the governments involved.” Hermione said quickly. “And Arthur Weasley is an expert in Muggle-Wizarding hybrid objects. He’s waiting for a report on our findings tonight anyway.”


“Do you think we could squeeze in a meeting with your parents before they make a decision?” Nyssa asked. “Just to show them some of our theories and to show them exactly what we would be doing?”


“We will discuss it.” Hermione said. “I’ll let you know the day after Christmas.”


“Thank you.” Nicolai said with a courteous bow.




“Was it wonderful?” Asta asked Nyssa as the older woman rose to the library on the floating platform that helped people travel from level to the next in the Bibliothecha oo Amazon.


“It was quite exceptional.” Nyssa assured her assistant. “I’m sure Hermione will allow you a private viewing and that lovely Pieter is making arrangements for you to receive your brand so that you may examine it properly.”


“I should write them a letter thanking them for making allowances.” Asta said thoughtfully.


“That would be acceptable.” Nyssa said. The communication between the Amazons and the Brotherhood were still being kept to a minimum.


“Did we learn anything new?” Asta asked. “Was there a message?”


“Yes.” Nyssa said hesitantly. “There was. And a vision to go with it.”


“Really?” Asta’s eyes widened. “Is it as important as we thought it would be?”


“Even more so.” Nyssa said, clearing her voice. “It seems the Shard is meant to be used for transportation.”


“Transportation?” Asta tried to wrinkle her nose, but while skin around it seemed to wrinkle, her nose stayed stationary. “Like a portkey?”


“More like a portable dimensional portal.” Nyssa said, gauging Asta’s reaction.


Asta looked thoughtful for a moment before her face froze and her eyes rose to meet Nyssa’s.


“I can go back home?”