Well thank you for comments, favouriting and following the story :))
Here we are going on new chapter, I hope you'll like it ;)
lynettecullen- well, I believe so, yes- some sort of therapy is in order ;)
Happy D- I think you'll be pleased with this chapter since Iris will be appearing in it :))
LizGillies- thank you very much for such lovely words, I'm very happy you like my stories. But I must admit that my updates really depend on level of chaos in my life :)
One week later
''We got it!'' exclaimed Hermione as she entered Minerva's office.
''Shhh, hide.'' Minerva commanded ''Come here.'' she pulled Hermione towards the wall. Minerva lightly tapped her wand against the surface and created passage. ''Just hide in there.'' she said pushing Hermione inside.
The room was fairly small, bare and without any additional way to get away. Hermione then focused on the situation in front of her or better said, on other side of the wall.
''I heard some disturbing rumors today.'' hissed Snape
''Well, I'm pretty sure that a wizard of your caliber can overcome those terrible rumors of you being a homosexual.'' Minerva said ironically.
''Ha ha'' said Snape in monotone voice. ''I'm talking about students who swear they saw certain student wandering the halls of Hogwarts.''
''Well, you should be more specific, because there are still quite a few students at Hogwarts.'' Minerva replied. ''Even though you and your friends managed to scare away many of them.''
''Only those unworthy of this world. They ran where they belong, with the rest of the filth.'' Snape growled and then continued, ''I'm talking about Hermione Granger!''
''Severus, do you really think I would lead my favorite student into death trap?'' asked Minerva, Hermione's heart soared with happiness at the title.
''If I find out you've been harboring a fugitive within these walls,'' started Snape darkly ''I'll have your head on the platter.''
''If that's all Severus, I really do have work to do. There are still few of us who wish to teach children something valuable.'' Minerva said dismissively.
''If I were you, I'd be extra careful to watch what I say.'' Severus finished and left the office.
Minerva sighed and after a brief moment of gathering herself, she sealed the door with magic and released Hermione out.
''I'm sorry, professor.'' said Hermione.
''Whatever for dear girl?''
''Well, for the way he treated you and if somebody indeed saw me.'' Hermione offered.
''Nothing to apologize for,'' started Minerva ''He's fishing in the dark. There had been many rumors of you, Harry, and Ron being at Hogwarts. Even if they saw you now, nobody would take it seriously.''
''How can you stand it?'' asked Hermione curious.
''Stand what, exactly?'' Minerva asked not sure what was Hermione talking about.
''Severus being here. He did kill your husband and I was wondering...''Hermione trailed off.
''I'm not sure I'm dealing with it'' admitted Minerva. ''I believe I'm pushing it aside, waiting for the right moment to release all of my anger.''
''I understand that.'' Hermione said. ''Professor, is there...some news about Bella?''
''I'm sorry Hermione'' Minerva lied. ''We're still searching, but you must understand that our resources are limited. We are in the middle of the war.''
''I understand.'' Hermione said eyes full of unshed tears. Seeing that Minerva's heart broke a little, knowing that she could spare her so much pain with few simple words.
''Hermione, you came here for a reason if I'm not mistaken.'' Minerva said pushing Hermione's mind in a new direction.
''Yes, well we found out where they are located. Dolores Umbridge is in possession of one- Salazar Slytherin's Locket. Rowena Ravenclaw's Diadem on other hand is here at Hogwarts, in so called 'room which changes to please', Bellatrix and I are convinced that it's the Room of Requirement.'' Hermione reported. ''We can take the one in the castle, but I'm not sure how we'll get Locket. Or how we'll destroy it, as the Gryffindor sword isn't here, but with Harry and Ron.''
''I understand'' Minerva said. ''Get that locket, we'll figure out something.''
Hermione turned around ready to apparate.
''Miss Granger'' Minerva said quickly and Hermione turned around ''please mention to Mrs. Lestrange that I wish to speak with her.''
Bella looked up to the sky. It was grey- heavy leaden clouds rolled over her head in slow motion, as if still deciding whether to rain or not. The consequence of her escape slowly crept into her mind- she has left her wife and daughter behind. In the hands of convicted felon, His most loyal follower, the most sadistic woman the wizarding world has seen; her own hands.
She looked into her hands, hands that had killed already and will again in the future, hands that were so contradictory- as humanity itself. Created to slowly drain life out of others with such expertise and class, to hurt others delicately, to tease and please, to be a shelter, to wipe tears, to hold tiny hands and support them until they grow.
Her hands were equal to the ones of Bellatrix Lestrange, only thing they lacked were scars from years of pulling at chains in Azkaban. Those hands were also capable of love. She sighed again, torn apart now more than ever.
''You look troubled.'' An old lady said making Bella look at the person who sat next to her. Her crystal blue eyes were so familiar to her, but she dismissed it as coincidence.
''Life'' Bella just shrugged.
''There is solution to every problem.'' woman replied.
''I am not me.'' Bella said. ''I'm someone else, someone who already exists. On other hand, I'm someone who was created for intended purposes. So, you see I am not me. Not really.''
''You're being you right now.'' The old woman answered. ''You're thinking, that is, indeed, only salvation. So underestimated thinking. Flesh is only flesh, the same in everyone, despite different exterior- but the mind, oh yes, the mind is different. Now, you can follow the others and let yourself be persuaded into something that is even against your reason, but when you think you're not someone else or the one who will follow blindly then, and only then, you are you.''
''Well, in that case, I believe that it sucks to be me.'' Bella said.
''Dear girl, you make your choices in life." The old woman said and stood up. As she walked off she said, "It would be very tragic, for your situation, to repeat the history and hide away from everything good in your life.''
Bella realizing what the woman said got up wanting to stop her, but old lady disapparated.
After finishing the meeting with Minerva Hermione apparated back to the living room. Bellatrix was gone and Iris was sleeping in her room, Hermione decided to wake up her little girl because she knew if she let her sleep too long that she would be up during the night.
''Hey baby girl'' Hermione whispered slowly to her year and half baby. Iris slowly opened her eyes and took into her surroundings before she smiled up at her mother.
''C'mon,'' Hermione said picking her up in her arms ''let's find a few toys to play with.''
After few minutes, Iris was fully awake, sleep gone from her dark eyes that were now transfixed by magical toy which floated in front of her. While looked at Iris, Hermione realized something- even though she became mother year and a half ago, the feeling of being a mom just now hit her. She was in so many situations that seemed like certain death at the time, she was so busy with so many things that the thought only now struck her. She was Iris' guidance through life, a shoulder to cry on, hands that served to keep her safe and source of unconditional love and support.
''I wonder if Harry's mother felt like this?'' mused Hermione. ''She was in similar position, except that the complexity of situation wasn't on high level as this one. Oh Iris, mommy loves you, all three of them. God, I'd give everything to know I'll be able to tell you that in a few years. You know, both Bella and Bellatrix are your moms and when you're older you'll understand it better.'' sighed Hermione knowing that she didn't understand it fully herself.
''I'm too young to be a mother.'' said Hermione ''But that doesn't mean I won't give my best to raise you properly. Because I will baby girl, I'd walk through heaven and hell if that meant you'd be safe. I'm sure that I'll do mistakes and that you'll hate a lot of things I'll make you do, but it'll always be for your own good. I remember Bellatrix telling me how she never had any word in things that should have been her choices in first place. That will never happen with you, I promise you that much.''
Iris looked at her eyes and smiled as if she understanding every word and Hermione laughed at that. ''You have your mothers eye's, dark and deep. That's the first thing I noticed when I looked at your mother, you know, both of them actually.''
Iris played with dices, trying to build whatever structure she had in mind while a range of different outcomes came rushing to Hermione's head. What if she lost both Bellatrix and Bella? Would she be able to go on her own? Without her soul mate? What if all three of them end up dead- who will take care of Iris? Who would make sure that she grew up into young woman? Her parents were the safest choice, but she knew that the laws would make it difficult for them to take her away immediately and that she would have to have a guardian here in Wizarding world. Minerva or Molly perhaps. What would happen if Bella and Bellatrix survived, would they raise her together or would Bella make sure Bellatrix ends up in prison? She wanted to kick herself for doubting, but what if Voldemort won? What then?
A loud crack interrupted her thoughts.
''You okay?'' Bellatrix questioned.
''Yes, I...''Hermione stopped, ''Minerva needs to speak with you.''
''Okay.'' Bellatrix said not at all convinced.
''You wanted to see me?'' Bellatrix questioned as she walked into Minerva's office. Both she and Hermione were already accustomed to apparating into the room next to Minerva's office and waiting there if Minerva had someone in her office.
''Yes'' Minerva confirmed ''I need a favor.''
''No.'' Bellatrix said leaving Minerva slightly surprised because she didn't even ask what she needed. ''However, I'll help you with whatever you want if I get something I want out of it.''
''And what would that be Mrs. Lestrange?'' Minerva asked curious.
''I know that Bella isn't missing or dead.'' said Bellatrix.
''Why are you so certain?''
''Because I don't die easily.'' Bellatrix smirked. ''If you tell me where she is, I'll do whatever you want me to.''
''I know you can create the Dark Mark in the sky.'' Minerva said. '' I want you to create one in front of Hogwarts when the time comes.''
''He'll know I betrayed him'' she said.
''Not necessarily, Severus can create one as well.'' Minerva said. ''I doubt that he'll want to examine your wands in the middle of the fight only to find out that.''
''Aren't you afraid of losing a spy?'' Bellatrix questioned.
''We've already lost him.'' spat Minerva.
''Very well.'' nodded Bellatrix ''Where is she?''
''Oslo.'' Minerva said.
''Minerva,'' started Bellatrix ''I think that Hermione needs to talk to you.''
''Yes, My Lord?''
''How are the things back in Hogwarts?'' he asked. ''I've heard of Trio has been stopping by.''
''I've heard those rumors myself'' she confirmed. ''But I'm afraid that's all they are- rumors. Students wishing on a star really, they want to be saved.'' she chuckled.
''Yes, well, too late for that.'' he sneered.
''Very true my lord.'' she bowed.
''Tell me, how is Severus doing?'' he asked.
''Little traitor is a show off.'' she spat ''But, he has done nothing out of order.''
''You sound disappointment'' he remarked.
''I hoped he would screw up so I can Crucio him until his death.'' she smiled.
''That's my girl.'' he smiled looking almost like a human.
''Cissy?'' Bellatrix called.
''Yes?'' asked a figure from a chair.
''Here you are, little brat.'' Bellatrix smiled '' I need a favor.''
''Whatever can I, the little brat, do for big sister?'' asked Narcissa sarcastically.
''No need to pout dear.'' grinned Bellatrix. ''I want you to go to Oslo and visit someone.''
''You're late.'' Cissy smirked.
''What?'' asked Bellatrix confused.
''I've been in Oslo today, I've visited your younger version. She's a mess, but I think she's coming to her senses.'' Cissy said.
''I heard you are in need of listener.'' Minerva said as she entered living room surprising Hermione.
''Who said that?'' Hermione asked but quickly added ''Never mind, I know.''
''So, what seems to be a problem?'' asked Minerva as she sat down on a couch.
''Being a mother.'' sighed Hermione.
''Ahh, the full burden of responsibilities have come crashing on your shoulders I see.'' said Minerva.
''Not only that, but the fact that she could be left alone after this mess. You know the laws, I need someone who'll take care of her and my parents don't get the permission to take her to Muggle world. Not to mention that I'd rather have her know both worlds.'' Hermione sighed.
''You thought about who you'd want as guardian?'' Minerva asked.
''Yes, you or Mrs. Weasley.'' Hermione said.
''I'm flattered Hermione, but I think your safest choice would be Molly. She has so much more experience with kids, I had Arthur very long time ago and besides she has better chances to survive as she's not an active fighter.'' Minerva said.
''Arthur?'' Hermione asked confused ''I didn't know you have a son.''
''I don't.'' Minerva sighed softly ''Not anymore, at least.'' she paused for a moment before continueing ''He died in First war. Albus and I were crushed after finding out, but determinate to stop Voldemort more than ever before.''
''I'm so sorry.'' Hermione said squeezing Minerva's hand.
''I know you are dear'' Minerva gave her small smile. ''I know how you feel and I know that Molly is a great choice for a guardian. Besides Hermione, trust me, I'll be here for Iris until the moment I die. She's like a granddaughter to me.''
''Yeah, I can see that.'' Hermione said. ''Spoiling her rotten and all.''
Minerva laughed at that accusation. ''Well, guilty as charged. Hermione, go to my office and floo to Shell cottage, Weasley's are staying there.''
Hermione did as she was told and went to Shell cottage. Arthur, Bill, and Molly walked into living room to see who came to their home.
''Hermione? Is everything alright?'' Molly asked immediately.
''Everything is fine'' she said quickly easing their minds. ''I need to speak to you Mrs. Weasley.''
''Of course, dear.'' she smiled.
''Alone, please.'' Hermione said and both Arthur and Bill murmured their excuses and left the room.
''What's going on Hermione? Are you sure you're alright?'' asked Molly.
''I'm fine Mrs. Weasley, but there is something I need to say to you. I need a favor.'' she started.
''Alright dear, come on, lay it on me.'' Molly said stepping fully into her mother figure.
''What I say now cannot leave this room.'' Hermione said putting silencing spell around the room.
Seeing how nervous Hermione was, Molly took her hand and squeezed it hard. ''It's alright.''
''I have a secret.'' Hermione started ''Big secret I cannot say too much about. Please don't panic, because my parents know already.''
''Okay, what is it?'' Molly asked now really worried.
''I have a daughter.'' Hermione said quickly forcing the words out.
''Excuse me?'' asked Molly shocked.
''I have a daughter.'' Hermione repeated. ''Iris is year and a half.''
''How? When? Who is the father?'' Molly asked in one breath.
''I can't tell you any of that.'' Hermione sighed.
''Hermione, what exactly do you want from me?'' asked Molly.
''I need you to take care of Iris if I die.'' Hermione started, ''Ministry authorities won't allow my parents to take her in Muggle world.''
''Oh dear, yes Hermione I promise.'' Molly said. ''I almost can't believe it but of course I will Hermione.''
''So, bonding spell to confirm it?'' Hermione asked with small smile.
''Yes, of course.'' Molly nodded.
''Well, what do you think? Review this chapter and tell me.