Title: The Other Path
Fandom: Harry Potter
Rating/Warnings: PG-13, No warnings, I think
Characters/Pairings: Hermione Granger, canon pairings
Prompt: I am, was, and always will be a catalyst for change. -- Shirley Chisholm (1924-2005), African-American politician, author, teacher at Mount Holyoke College and public speaker. First African-American woman elected to Congress (1968). First African-American Presidential candidate from a major party and first woman to run for the Democratic Presidential nomination (1972).
Summary: When they gossip about her in the streets, she holds her tongue and promises to herself that they will see.
Author's Notes: Thanks a bunch to my betas, theladyrose, darklightluna, shadows_rising
“It’s because she’s weak,” they whisper as she walks past. “It’s because she’s soft,” they say, as if whispering meant she couldn’t hear. “It’s because a witch’s place is in the hearth and the home,” Great-Aunt Muriel says to her face.
She holds her tongue because she doesn’t have to justify herself to strangers. She holds her tongue because gossip is like a hydra – squelching one rumor just means more grows in its place. She holds her tongue because arguing with Great-Aunt Muriel is pointless.
Instead, she promises herself that they will see.
“It’s good you chose not to do such dangerous work.” Molly approves. “Witches were intended for nurturing roles.”
Hermione bites her tongue, because contradicting your mother-in-law is never smart, especially not when she’s handling three sharp butcher knives at once. Molly grew up in a different age, where dueling Bellatrix Lestrange is ladylike but catching dark wizards for a living is not. She has her best intentions at heart, really.
“Well, why would you waste all that education to be a bobby?” her mother says sensibly. “Better to be something a smidge more prestigious.”
Hermione does not voice her dissent because her parents’ lucid moments are few and far between. It would be absurd to waste one of the precious moments they don’t believe themselves childless Australians.
When she turns down the prestigious fellowship in Avalon, Professor McGonagall is astonished. “But I thought that was why you didn’t join the Aurors! You’ve never been as suited to wandwork as you have theory, and this fellowship is ideal for the research you want to do.” This, from her childhood idol.
Hermione does not retort that if theory were all she cared for, she’d have been a Ravenclaw. Instead, she smiles and explains how the interdisciplinary programme at Cambridge for improving Muggle-wizarding relations is currently a more effective use of her time.
“It’s obvious why you refused,” Ginny laughs when Hermione bemoans the gossip. “You’re done with the serious stuff; it’s time to have fun with your life. Even you have the sense to take some time off.”
Hermione would protest, but she’s too busy matching Ginny shot for shot, and the world’s a bit too wobbly for logic right now.
Even Harry and Ron think they know her reasons.
“Don’t ever become an Auror, Hermione,” Harry says, after killing his first man on the job, a man who would not stop firing. “I hope you don’t ever have to kill again.” Hermione says nothing, because Harry has had far too much Firewhiskey for a philosophical discussion. What he needs most is his friends.
“I can see why you chose not to be an Auror, Hermione,” Ron says after a nightmare from the War. “We’ve seen enough blood and death in our lives, really. Get as far away from the blood as you can, Hermione.” Hermione says nothing, because a man just awoken from night terrors does not need an argument about semantics. What her husband needs is reassurance that the world is more than blood and death and that he is not just another cog in it.
They’ll understand one day, but that day is not today.
There are many reasons Hermione is not an Auror, but they are none of these.
Instead, picture her determination as she stands in front of the Minister and declares, “I don’t care if half your Ministry ends up penalized. You will bring to trial any and all Ministry employees that enforced the Muggleborn Registry because following orders is never an excuse.”
See her exultant smile when she stands in front of the press and says, “I am proud to announce that the Werewolf Registry has been abolished and Wolfsbane Potion will now be available at a subsidized cost for those who need it.”
See her knowing smirk when asked if she could possibly have anything to do with the House-Elves at the Ministry going on strike.
See her weary pride as years of arguing with fusty old wizards finally results in an Agency for Muggle-Magic Relations, the first milestone in her long-term plan to integrate Muggle and Wizarding society.
Watch her shopping for textbooks for the new school year at Flourish and Blotts with her children, her fingers brushing the Care of Magical Creatures text that doesn’t classify creatures as “beast” and “being,” the mandatory Muggle Studies text that is no longer twenty years out of date, the Ethics of Magic and Contemporary History of Magic texts for electives that had only recently been introduced to the Hogwarts curriculum. Those reforms didn’t just write themselves.
These are the moments she chooses not to share.
Nevertheless, her reasons are also there for others, if they but take the time to listen.
“It’s because a child should never risk being orphaned because both parents died in the line of duty,” she admits to Ron’s unconscious body after a mission gone awry.
“Quis custodiet ipsos custodes,” she tells Harry when his colleague is tried for excessive use of force when soliciting a confession.
“I was through with destroying,” she confides in Ginny, “it was time to create.”
“I wanted to make a change,” she whispers to her mentally distant parents.
“I figured there was no point obeying orders if I could be up there making sure there weren’t any stupid orders issued,” she explains to Headmistress McGonagall.
“Because it’s worth it,” she tells Molly, defending her recent twelve-hour shifts at the Ministry.
On the ten-year anniversary of the War, Hermione Granger grants an exclusive interview to the Quibbler. One of the questions that come up is this:
“Ten years ago, you chose not to become an Auror, like most thought you would. People have wondered for years why you’ve chosen the less glamorous route. Would you care to enlighten the wizarding world why, after ten long years?”
Hermione smiles as she answers, “I had a vision. I chose to fight for the rights nobody else was fighting for, to make the reforms nobody else was discussing. I am, was, and always will be a catalyst for change.”