Magic could be beautiful. She remembered her patronus; an otter. She had been so shocked. She had expected an owl (but she was terrified of heights) or a lion (not that she always felt like the quintessential Gryffindor) or something that really represented her. She had worked herself into a frenzy trying to figure out what truly represented her. When Harry found her doing it he had scolded her (“this is the one time research is holding you back! Just feel it!”) and so she stopped because he didn’t do that very often. Later, as she looked in wonder at her otter, she hadn’t had time to think about what it meant. Perhaps, she theorized, her Animagus form would be an otter (of course, then you have the questions: what comes first, do they have to match, what does it all mean), but as another scream tore its way out of her mouth, she realized those thoughts would have to wait.
Yes magic could be beautiful, but many times it was ugly. There weren’t many spells or charms or potions just designed to make people happy (and she should know, she researched every branch of magic through her years of trying to belong), but there were books upon books upon books of all types of magic that could cause pain. It was this research she tried to keep in her head as she was cursed and cursed and cursed again by a mad witch who had made two highly-gifted aurors into zombies.
It had taken Frank Longbottom 34 minutes and 27 seconds before his mind was broken. Alice made it 32 minutes and 46 seconds (many theorized that she would have lasted longer, as most witches were more powerful after giving birth, but it was later found that her magic had been used to place a silencing charm around the couch her child hid under). Hermione wasn’t sure how long this has been going on. She had given up on telling Bellatrix that she didn’t know anything after the goblin left and was now just screaming as she was cursed. Personally, she thought the witch cared more about torturing her than actually asking her about anything of importance. Though, would it be safe to interrogate her about horcruxes when the Malfoys were still in the room? After all, one of them had given one up to be ultimately destroyed and the other had not identified three people who were clearly his schoolmates. As the world went dark, Hermione thought about redemption.
In and out. Flashes of light. Arms holding her and she panicked, but within a moment she knew it was Ron. Out again. Someone speaking French and sounding frustrated. She tried to translate the French, but her brain wasn’t working. She thought of her brain and she screamed, wishing with all her might that her mind was fine, but not remembering exactly sure why she should panic. A potions bottle shoved to her screaming mouth and as bitter vanilla filled her senses, she stopped screaming and struggling. She recognized Fleur and now that she was breathing properly, she even translated the French she was speaking to Ron.
“Ron,” she began, ignoring the glass that seemed to shred her throat,”where’s Harry?” He took her hand, relief crossing his features. “He’s fine. Everyone got out fine, except…” Here he looked away from her for a moment as he mustered up the courage. “Dobby didn’t make it.” And she closed her eyes and wished she had it in her to cry for that brave, kind, little elf. “Harry’s digging the grave right now. Then I suppose we’ll have a funeral of some type.” She nodded and sat up, wincing at how her entire body ached and burned. Nothing was worse than that curse, but recovery would not be an easy road. Fleur gently pushed on her shoulders, “Non, stay in bed.” But Ron, dependable Ron, understood her need and gently led Fleur away. “She’s going. If I don’t help her down she’ll crawl the path herself.” A small smile graced her lips and she knew she had forgiven him for leaving. He led her down and they grieved for their friend.
Things after that went much the same. Battle. Deaths. Funerals. Rebuilding Hogwarts. Living in the Burrow because anything else was too much, too far away from family to be safe. Jumping at every spell cast. Finding her parents in Australia and apologizing. Going back to Hogwarts. Being too stubborn to leave even though there were new ghosts. Refusing to follow proper rules and spending a lot of nights in Ginny’s bed or Luna’s, trying to stave off the nightmares that came for each of them. Late nights with Lavender and Parvati, trying so hard to be normal for once (for once there’s no Harry to worry over). Dating Ron. Fighting with Ron. Making up with Ron. Graduating Hogwarts. Moving in with Harry, Ron, and Ginny. Starting her work at the bottom because she’ll do it right or she won’t do it all. Moving out with Ron at her side. Watching Harry marry Ginny. Marrying Ron. The honeymoon that ends early because of course James Sirius couldn’t wait one more day.
As her otter patronus is chased by a Jack Russell, her daughter is gurgling happily in her arms. She thinks again, magic is beautiful. And it is.