The Sugar Quill
Author: whizbee  Story: Orchestrating Disappearances  Chapter: Default
The distribution of this story is for personal use only. Any other form of distribution is prohibited without the consent of the author.

A/N:

A/N: You know, when I started this story, my intention was simply to give a little indication of what a difficult experience it must have been like for Hermione to send her parents to Australia.  I didn’t think it could be really complicated.  How naïve.  HelenH, my beta extraordinaire, took this story and performed a miracle in helping me to do something with the gigantic loopholes that Jo left ;) 

 

Also: a few readers said that Ron’s Preparations ended abruptly and asked if there is supposed to be more to follow.  I should have explained earlier but I forgot: there is more, but not in the form of a conventional chaptered story.  I’m planning a series of missing moments that build off each other, so I’ll make references to earlier missing moments in later stories (even though they can be read separately).  So I hope you will feel that the abrupt ending in Ron’s Preparations is resolved, not in this story, but the one that I post after it. 

 

This leads me to extend a heartfelt thank you to everyone at the Quill who has reviewed my stories so far and provided a warm, encouraging environment for a new author.  It is very much appreciated!

 

Disclaimer:  All Jo’s, of course.  I just frolic in her world for a bit. 

 

 

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***

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Orchestrating Disappearances

 

“Hermione?  Hermione.  Hermione, dear?  You’ve barely touched your food.  Aren’t you feeling well?”

 

“What?”  Hermione’s head snapped up from her plate.  “Oh, yes Mum, I’m fine.”  Not true, she thought.  “Really, I guess I just wore myself out today.  I – erm – went into town and did a lot of walking.” 

 

Mrs. Granger gave her daughter a slightly suspicious look, followed by a pointed glance at her husband, and then returned to her food.  Mr. Granger cleared his throat.

 

“You got into town?  Without a car?”  Mr. Granger looked confused and then his face brightened.  “Oh, is this that Appa – , Appear – ”  He waved his fork in the air impatiently.  “That thing where you pop about from place to place?  Fascinating.  Damn convenient, too.”

 

“It’s called Apparition, I believe,” Mrs. Granger said with a mildly exasperated glance that meant Don’t curse, dear.  She turned her attention to her daughter, who was not following the conversation but rather was shifting the greens about on her plate in a somewhat listless manner. 

 

From far away, Hermione heard her name being called again.

 

“Hermione?  Is that what it’s called?”

 

“What?”  Her head snapped up again.  “Oh – yes.  I Apparated.  I got my license in April.”

 

“Oh!”  Mr. Granger looked slightly taken aback.  The smile on her father’s face looked a bit forced as he continued.  “Well, that’s – that’s wonderful.  I say, then, I won’t need to teach you how to drive now, will I!  Good thing too, the way people can be on the roads these days.”  Hermione’s father seemed to be lost in thought for a moment but then he smiled again.  “And speaking of driving!”  Mr. Granger leaned forward, looking genuinely excited.  “Hermione, what do you say we go down to the coast for a few days – say, leave tomorrow and come back Wednesday?  It’s only a few hours away, and we haven’t been down since before you started at Hogwarts, your mother and I just…thought it might…Hermione?”  He paused uncertainly as his daughter’s eyes had unexpectedly filled with tears.

 

A trip to the coast? she thought despairingly.  It was not unusual for her family to go on holiday but normally, it was planned meticulously (by her mother) beforehand.  Hermione knew this spontaneous trip – which would surely put her parents behind at work – was their attempt to bring her out of the gloomy mood that she’d been in over the past few weeks.  Initially, they must have assumed that the death of her headmaster had upset her (she had told them it was due to old age) but her sadness had not lifted at all in the weeks she had been home; rather, it had intensified.  Hermione could only imagine how bewildered and worried her parents were.  She had tried to be cheerful and normal but it was torture for her every time she had to force a smile on her face and say yes, of course she was fine, why wouldn’t she be?  But Hermione knew that her parents noticed when she stared off into space or got unexpectedly emotional. 

 

Unexpectedly emotional, like right now.  Hermione felt her throat closing up and she had to clear it before saying, “The coast?  That sounds really – really lovely, Dad.”

 

“Hermione, are you really alright?” asked her mother again as she peered closely at her daughter.

 

“Of course, Mum, why wouldn’t I be?  It’s just that – that it’s been such a long time since we’ve been.  I was just thinking about it, that’s all.”  Another lie, she thought.  If there was any silver lining to this horrible situation she was in, it was that in a few hours time, she would be able to stop lying to her parents.  Granted, it didn’t mean that she would be telling them the truth.  Maybe someday

 

But Hermione couldn’t finish that thought, in part because she did not know how long it would be before she returned home.  If she did at all.  Stop it, she thought firmly.  She was not going to be morbid.  This was her last night at home with her parents, and she refused to ruin it by her moping over her vegetables.  She blinked away her tears and smiled at her parents, saying,

 

“You know, Apparition really is very fascinating.  I never really went into the details of it in my letters, it’s really quite hard to describe…” 

 

And Hermione whiled the evening away with her mother and father, allowing herself in the lightheartedness of their conversations to forget that it may be the last night they would have together for a long time. 

 

***

 

That night, Hermione lay fully dressed on her bed, waiting until she was sure that her parents were asleep.  She had forbidden herself to cry; partly for fear that her parents might hear her and come to investigate.  Mostly, however, it was because she was afraid that once she began, it was unlikely that she would stop for quite a while and she could not afford the interruption.  Instead, she repeated a mantra in her head that distracted her enough to stem her emotions.  This is the sensible thing to do.  Death Eaters could find them.  They could question them, torture them at the very least for information about Harry. They mustn’t ever be found.  I won’t let them be found.  And if I die, they’ll be better off not remembering me anyway. A deep breath.  This is the sensible thing to do…

 

Finally, at half past one, she crept out of bed, wand in hand, down the hall to her parents’ bedroom.  She eased the door open and in the darkness she made out her parents’ figures under the covers, rising and falling gently as they slept.  One errant tear slipped down Hermione’s cheek as she recalled saying goodnight to them.  She had hugged each of them tightly and kissed them, the way she would say goodbye at King’s Cross at the start of the school year, not the way she would say goodnight at the end of an evening.  Both her mother and father had looked at her bemusedly as they hugged her back, and her father had reminded her with a pat on her head to “Get a good night’s sleep.  We’ll be leaving early tomorrow morning.”  To which Hermione had only been able to reply shakily “I – I love you, Dad, Mum.  Sleep well.”  Her mother had smiled and kissed her on the forehead, even though the concern never really left her eyes. 

 

Hermione now looked at her parents’ sleeping forms and steeled herself.  She knew that after this, after her meticulous planning, there would be no turning back.  Before, when it had all been in her head, it had been easy to think about what she was planning to do in the abstract, like an assignment to complete.  But now…the idea of turning a wand on her parents, who had been as tolerant and accommodating of magic as it was possible to be, felt like the deepest betrayal.  But Hermione could not risk her parents waking up before she had finished her work and so she buried those feelings.  Pointing her wand at each of her parents in turn, she spoke firmly.

 

“Stupefy.”

 

Her parents jerked slightly as the spell hit them and then they stilled.  Hermione gave her parents one last, desperate look and shut the door behind her.  She only had about five hours to do what needed to be done, and the sooner she got this hell over with, the better. 

 

***

 

Over the past few weeks, Hermione had kept very busy.  She had called the gas and electric companies, as well as the cable company, so they would know to stop providing their services.  She had also forged visas and adjusted her parents’ passports to read the names of a fictional couple named Wendell and Monica Wilkins, in addition to purchasing one-way plane tickets to Australia (she had felt terribly guilty about it because she had had to use her father’s credit card behind his back).  She had also charmed their mailbox to hold an infinite amount, feeling that was more reliable than enlisting a nosy neighbor’s help to pick up the mail.  She had also gone into town the previous day, where she had visited the bank that her parents used.  A subtle Confundus Charm on the teller allowed him to placidly move all of her parents’ money from their account to that of Wendell and Monica Wilkins.    

 

By far the most difficult preparations had to do with the dental practice because she had to prepare it for closure without her parents’ awareness.  Hermione had been fortunate in that Ellie, the receptionist, had fallen ill the week before, so her parents had asked her to cover reception for the three days Ellie would be out.  (Indeed, they had been rather perplexed at their daughter’s enthusiasm for what was normally a dull responsibility.)  This enabled her to sneak patient information from the files while her parents were busy with patients.  Each night after covering reception, having cast a Muffliato on her bedroom, Hermione copied the printed letter that she would be sending to her parents’ patients, apologizing for the unexpected and abrupt closure of the practice and recommending to them Ms. Prescott on Eubarrow St.  Even though she was able to use magic to copy and seal the letters into the envelopes and address them, this took quite a while, as her parents saw more than a thousand patients.  She had posted the letters out the day before, on Saturday, knowing that the patients would not receive them before Monday, at which point her parents would be on a plane to Australia. 

 

However, there were still a number of things that had had to wait until the last minute.  Hermione was fortunate in that her parents – rather, her mother – was extremely organized, so most of what she needed to hide or alter was located in a huge filing cabinet in her parents’ study.  She now dug through the filing cabinet.  The first two drawers were devoted to tax receipts, bills, and insurance statements.  The second two were full of papers related to the dental practice.  Hermione went through all the bills to make sure she had left nothing unpaid.  Then she stepped back and opened a large bag that she had magicked to carry immense loads (perfecting the Undetectable Expansion Charm had been quite tricky, actually).  She levitated the filing cabinet into the air and maneuvered the bag beneath it, managing to engulf the entire thing inside.  The bag looked no different now than it did before except for the dull clunking noise it made when she shook it. 

 

There was also a set of antique drawers that had once belonged to her grandmother which her father jokingly referred to as the “family vault, because that’s where we keep our treasures.”  By this, he was referring to Hermione’s birth certificate, primary school reports (all top marks, of course) and prizes, all her letters from Hogwarts except the first, which resided in Hermione’s bedroom, and to Hermione’s surprise, all the teeth she had ever lost, organized in a perfect model of a child’s jaw.  Even though Hermione felt a pang when she saw it, she could not help shaking her head in affectionate exasperation.  Her parents were such dentists.  These items were all in the first two drawers.  The last drawer was for her parents’ passports, old college certificates, and prizes in dentistry (her mother did not place much stock in that sort of thing, feeling it was too much like bragging to display them).  Hermione had removed the passports long ago, however, to make the necessary adjustments to fit her parents’ new identities.  She put the wooden drawers in the bag as well, where they landed with an echoing thunk.

 

She snuck onto her parents’ computer (her father had taught her the basics of working a computer and luckily, he never logged out of his email account) and she wrote an email to Ellie. 

 

Dear Ellie,

 

This may come as a shock to you, but we won’t be returning to work on Monday.  Actually, we’ll be leaving for Australia on an extended holiday and I can’t honestly tell you when to expect us back.  We know this is very abrupt, and we apologize for that.  I’ve mailed you a cheque which has two months-worth pay and an additional bonus for the trouble we’ll be putting you through.  We’ve also included a letter of recommendation for you.  You’ve been so good to us, and we’ll make sure to contact you straightaway when we return, in case you would be willing to come back to work for us.

 

Hermione signed the letter from her parents and pulled out the handwritten letter of recommendation.  She transcribed it onto the computer and printed it out, inserting it along with the aforementioned cheque into a labeled envelope. 

 

She wrote other emails to her parents’ friends and her father’s brother in France.  She had always wanted a big family but now at least, it was convenient that both her parents’ families were very small. Nevertheless, the entire process took the better part of an hour. She had to be careful to keep the emails deliberately vague while putting in enough details to make it sound believable.  When she was done, she sighed.  That had been the easy part. 

 

Then Hermione combed the house, removing any framed photographs on the walls that had her in it and putting them in the bag, where they too landed with an echoing thud.  Her first day of nursery school, thud.  The three of them in France outside the Louvre, thud.  The family trip to the coast the summer before Hogwarts, thud.  The family photo albums, thud.  Her ribbons for winning top student of her class all through Muggle primary school, thud thud thud.  She worked quickly and methodically, as if doing so would lessen the sharpness of the pain.  But each thud of the pictures in the bag was like a razor-sharp jab in her heart, and the bare walls only seemed to reflect how empty she felt inside.

 

Hermione went last to her room.  There were scrawls on the bottom of the wall nearest the door where Hermione had written out the alphabet, perfectly penned, at the age of two and a half.  She cleaned the wall with her wand.  There were pictures of her, Ron, and Harry, and another of her and Ginny, on her bedside table.  Her first-year Hogwarts letter was framed on her wall, children’s books on her shelf.  All of them went into the bag.  Hermione remade her bed and transfigured a pen holder into a vase full of dried flowers.  Her Hogwarts trunk was packed and she dragged it from the room into the hall.  One last sweeping glance into her bedroom revealed nothing more than a bed, a desk and dresser, and a vase full of flowers.  She waved her wand and a light layer of dust sprinkled on the desk.  Indeed, it passed for a perfectly pleasant and rarely used guest bedroom.

 

She made her way to her parents’ room, stopping first at the hall closet where her parents kept the suitcases.  Upon entering the bedroom, she made her way directly to the dresser drawers, making sure not to look at the prone figures of her parents.  Though she packed quickly, she made sure to remember her mother’s favorite scarf and the beaten up old cap that her father refused to get rid of.  She wondered briefly if they would still have the same attachment to those items when they awoke.  She was so focused that she almost did not notice the photograph on the dresser of the three of them, taken the summer after her second year.  It was small, the only wizarding photo in the house that was not in her room.  Heart pounding over the potential disaster the photograph could have caused, Hermione grabbed it and quickly stuck it in her pocket.  She could not bear to look at it just then.  She finished packing, used a Weighing Charm to make sure the suitcases were not over the limit, and placed her parents’ passports, visas, and plane tickets on top, where they would be sure to see them. 

 

She checked her watch and found that it was almost six.  Still averting her eyes from her parents, Hermione left quickly and went into the kitchen where she called a taxi cab to pick up Mr. and Mrs. Wilkins at seven thirty a.m. 

 

Hermione went down to the basement, where her Mum and Dad stored most of their unused furniture and several old mementos in boxes.  Focusing intently, she created an illusion on one side of the basement which made the wall appear to extend much farther than it actually did, and shoved the now rattling bag and all the boxes past the illusion, safely stowing them away from her parents’ sight, should they ever come down here.  This took quite a while, even with magic, because the charm she used to create the wall was a difficult one to manage.  At half past six, she went back upstairs, wracking her brain for more to do.  She double- and triple-checked the walls, the shelves, the closets, the filing cabinets, for any indications that she had ever lived here, much less a couple by the name of Granger.  Finally, convinced that she had erased all evidence of her existence from her parents’ lives, she dragged her trunk down the steps and out the front door and then slowly, painfully, made her way back up the steps and down the hall to her parents’ bedroom. 

 

Looking at her parents, Hermione felt the first shudder of a sob come on and she rushed to them, kissing her mother and father each several times, tears streaming down her face and whispering goodbyes that they could not hear. 

 

She wiped the tears from her face and stepped away from her parents.  The Confundus Charm would have to go first, a stronger one than she had ever cast before.  It would act to jumble her parents’ memories, creating space for her to implant false memories with a second charm, Reproba Recordatium, the most potent memory charm ever developed that could be safely reversed.

 

Concentrating harder than she ever had, she aimed her wand at each of her parents and spoke “Confundo.”

 

Hermione bit her lip now, thinking of the second spell she had to perform.  She closed her eyes and recalled the backstory that she had created for her parents.  She spoke it aloud, like a chant, six times.  After each rendition, she spoke the words Reproba Recordatio Permaximum.  The seventh time, she raised her wand arm, which had become tingly to the point of numbness, and pointed it at her parents as she spoke the words a final time.  Yellow light shot forth and encased her parents, illuminating them for several long moments before it seeped into them.  When this was finished, Hermione stood there swaying a bit.  She felt drained.  She also found that at some point when she was chanting, she must have begun to cry again because there were tears coursing down her cheeks.

 

She tripped on the rug as she backed out of the room.  In the doorway, she pointed her wand at her parents once again – they had now become two dark blurs to her through her tears – and choked out “Ennervate.”  As they began to stir, Hermione left the room, leaving only a crack open in the doorway to stop and listen.  She heard her mother’s yawn first, and then her voice.

 

“Wendell?  Wendell.”

 

“Mmph?”

 

“Get up, dear.  The cab should be coming in less than an hour, we mustn’t be late.”

 

“Mmph.”

 

Wendell.”  Even though her mother’s exasperated tone was familiar, the false name was not.  Hermione felt a more bitter homesickness than she had ever experienced at Hogwarts.  Her parents were right in the next room but already, it felt as if they were separated by an ocean. 

 

Unable to take any more, Hermione ran down the hall as quietly as she could and out the front door, where she grabbed her trunk, eyes streaming, and dragged it down the street to the end of the road.  There, exhausted more by emotion than exertion, she stopped, sank onto her trunk, and cried.

 

Unaware of how much time had passed while she sobbed, she glanced up only when she heard a front door open down the street.  It was her father, coming out to get the paper.  He spotted her before she could hide but she was far enough away that although he could make her out, he could not see that she had tears tracking down her cheeks.  Thus, when he did spot her, he only looked confused as to why there was a girl sitting on a strange box by herself so early in the morning.  After pausing, he picked up his paper, gave a general, good natured sort of wave and walked back inside the house, closing the door firmly behind him. 

 

Hermione gave a ragged breath and stared at the door, hoping irrationally that it would burst open and her father would remerge and call for her.  She sat there for a few foolish moments before she shook her head hard and forced herself to pull her thoughts together.  She was thoughtless, sitting out in the open where anyone could see her.  She did not want her parents to have any recollection of her at all, whether or not they even knew who she was.  Hermione dragged her trunk behind a tall hedge but her jeans snagged on a branch and something fell out of her pocket: the photograph from her parents’ room.  Feeling her lip begin to tremble again, she shoved it roughly back into her pocket and faced her home to stand sentinel.  At seven thirty, a cab drove up and honked its horn.  Her parents stepped outside, locked the front door behind them, and helped the driver put their luggage in the boot.  And then they got into the backseat and drove off.  Hermione watched them until they were out of sight.

 

Grasping the handle of her trunk and closing her eyes, Hermione thought of the place that, for now at least, she would have to think of as home.  She pictured in her mind the tall redhead she knew would be waiting for her on a hill overlooking the Burrow. 

 

With a Pop! Hermione Disapparated.

 

//
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