Two full months had past and the Zabinis looked like the true epitome of ‘family’. Blaise and his sister became very close, almost best mates even. Grace found her new mother fascinating and whimsical. Her mother’s imagination was almost as large as Luna Lovegood’s, yet she still held an aristocratic aura amongst her. The Zabini patriarch however, was just as carefree as his face deemed, but he could always switch between playful and serious within seconds. Grace learned a lot about her family, the traditions they had, stories they have made, and always ensuring that now that Grace was part of the family again, she would finally be part of all of that and then some. Grace found that these people really were her family. Never had she felt immense love like this so quickly for anyone, let alone a group of people. Yet, Grace never forgot what people thought of her as, Hermione Jean Granger. The last six weeks had shown her that Hermione Granger really was Graciella Zabini. They had the same thirst for knowledge, the same beliefs, and the same personality. Hermione was Grace and Grace was Hermione.
Grace quickly padded up the staircase towards the library, she had a few hours until she was needed and she was determined to retrieve something before that time. She bounded past several hallways until she met the magnificent mahogany doorway. Since time was of the essence, she had no time to enjoy the comforting smells of archives and books, and made her way towards the wooden chest. Placing her wand between the two carved characters, she waited until the golden aura to diminish before she pulled out the Zabini file. Her nimble fingers quickly roamed the tops of parchment until she was met with her family crest. Tucking it into her robes, she quickly scanned the files for anything else. She ended up taking the Weasley’s files for good measure.
Ever since Grace’s encounter with her family’s true significance, the files within the cabinet have peaked her interest. And just like Hermione, Grace wouldn’t stop until her want for knowledge was fulfilled. Today was the day she was to go back to Hogwarts, and therefore didn’t have the ability to go through the files during her stay. Not more than two paces outside of the library, Grace collapsed on the hallway floor. She hissed in pain as she felt hot knives caress her lower back and quickly smelt the fragrance of burning flesh. Wiping away clouding tears, Grace lifted the hem of her shirt to see the Weasley and Zabini family crests freshly branded into her beige skin. The initial pain began to diminish but an itching sting lingered in the glistening wound. Finding the strength to get up, Grace wandered her way back to her room.
A couple hours later…
Blaise and Grace met in the entrance wing of the Manor. Clad in Slytherin robes, the duo set out towards the gardens to await their goodbyes from their parents.
The elder Zabinis have requested Grace be placed in Slytherin house for the rest of the year, due to the fact that no one technically knew Blaise had a sister, and would be ensured her safety if she be kept in the same house as he was. Grace didn’t agree with this at first, but she eventually accepted with logical reasoning that she really could spend a year getting to know her brother more, even if it was in a rival house. If she defeated deatheaters, she could sleep in the snake’s den.
It took all of Grace’s Gryffindor courage to finally accept that she would have to pretend she didn’t know anyone, even if her life-long best friends were going to be sitting merely a table away. But she had a plan that two certain Gryffindors would soon befriend a ‘new’ student. Sighing, the brother-and-sister duo walked side by side down the garden path.
Grace took a deep intake of fresh air as she tried to walk casually to the north garden. The pain in her side was still raw and sore, making it difficult for her to move her hips normally. Fingering the files within her robes, she carefully sat down on the bench, trying hard not to touch the burnt sores on her lower back.
Waiting on the magnificent marble bench, Blaise gaped at his sister. She had it. How could he not have noticed it earlier? It was so evident in the sunlight, yet he had not noticed it until now. This trait was so rare in the family; only their great-great grandmother’s aunt had it. It didn’t appear just out of nowhere. Standing up, he stood in front of his perplexed sister. He reached his hand out and gently lifted her layered hair (she had it cut, it was too long for her liking, being used to natural curls and all).
Grace was in a deep state of confusion. Blaise kept his surprised look on the strands of her hair while she looked over and saw nothing different. Hearing two pairs of feet crunching the grass a few paces away, Blaise swiftly turned around and halted their parents a good few meters from the bench she resided at. They murmured quickly and their mother peered with wide eyes over their son’s shoulder. Grace’s mother immediately went pale. Her father, however, was the complete opposite. He was glowing. His smile seemed to become contagious and his wife quickly sported a smile with the same amount of excitement emitting off of it. The trio practically skipped towards the bench.
“Mum? W-what’s wrong?” Grace questioned, worried that her Slytherin robes were too authentic for their liking.
“Mi cara! You have it!”
“I have what exactly?”
Blaise interrupted, “You see Gracie, Zabinis have a very special family trait that only a few witches and wizards have had the honor of bearing. You have this trait.”
“This trait being?” Grace spoke in a bored tone; apparently both the Zabini offspring have inherited their father’s short temper.
“I capelli miei cari!” Her father exclaimed.
“My hair? What about my hair?” Grace said, stumbling back into her state of confusion. She simultaneously hissed as a branch from a nearby bush prodded her wound.
“Do you not see it?” Blaise asked. Grace shook her head. He immediately transfigured a hand mirror out of a random stick. Handing it to his young sister, he stepped back to see her reaction.
Grace lifted the mirror bravely, anticipating what she would see exactly. Then she saw it. Her hair was reflecting a deep burgundy red. Grace’s eyes went wide. It was absolutely gorgeous. Although her hair was a very unnatural color, it somehow fit to her overall appearance. It looked completely natural on Grace, as if it she was the only one who could pull off such a color so effortlessly.
She made an inaudible gasp and Mr. Zabini started chuckling. “Mi figila is beautiful.” He said proudly. And that was exactly what she saw. Grace really did feel beautiful, compared to Hermione’s physical appearance; no one could imagine they truly were the same person. Grace’s dark brown eyes somehow showed more emotion than her old golden brown eyes did, not to mention that they complimented her skintone and hair color. It took a while for Hermione to get used to Grace’s body, but she quickly began to love her new petite form. She felt that her strong and fearless personality contrasted greatly with her look and it gave her a weird feeling of confidence.
“How come I never noticed it before?” Grace asked out of curiosity, the pain quickly diminishing as before.
“I’m not quite sure,” stated Blaise, “I don’t know why I’ve never noticed, but the trait is only evident in light.” Grace peered at him curiously. “Your hair is more…more like a reflection, so the color is only shown whenever light latches onto it. Otherwise you hair is the traditional brown.” Blaise finished. Grace nodded; it did make some sort of sense.
“Sweetheart, this trait is extremely rare in the family. It signifies power, whoever bears it will grow to become a very powerful witch or wizard, and hopefully will marry one too.” Her mother stated with a wink. The sun shone on Mrs. Zabini’s eyes, giving them a twinkle similar to that of Dumbledore’s.
“Mother, she technically is the brightest witch of our age. She already has lived up to those expectations.” Blaise said wrapping his arm around Grace’s shoulders casually.
Everyone broke into laughter. Later, they bid each other goodbyes while Blaise and Grace grasped onto a bottle that was transfigured into a port key. With a tight pull from their navels, both siblings disappeared with a pop and landed in McGonagall’s office.