Remember, remember the fifth of November
The gunpowder, treason and plot.
I know of no reason why the gunpowder treason
Should ever be forgot . . .
- CHAPTER ONE -
She left the office at five in the evening. Everyone had to leave the office at five. The nightly curfew took effect at seven, so time was needed to get home. It was part of living in Britain during these times. No one wanted to be caught outside after curfew, as those who did tended to never come back.
She pulled her hair back into a quickly made bun, and began walking down the stairs towards her car. She always thought this time, and the start of day at the office, looked like those pictures she saw in the history books of slaves going to work in a factory. Everyone moved at the same pace, talking to each other a little, but not a lot. They would all be moving down the left side of the dull grey stairwell, and when they reached their respective car park, they would break off, and find their car in their designated spot.
As she reached her tiny blue car in the dimly lit car park, she took her keys out of her purse, and paused as she went to unlock the door, her hand hovering just in front of the lock.
This is how I used to hold my wand she thought to herself, hesitating on the brink of opening her car door. She stared at her hand as her memories began to filter up, and those painful days started to materialize in her mind.
‘See you on Monday ‘Mione!’ someone called. She shook her head and turned to see her friend Alison smiling at her from her car.
‘Yeah, I’ll see you Monday Aly’ Hermione replied tiredly. Alison hesitated for a moment, waved, and drove off home for the night. She lived outside London near Woolwich, so she always left right away to make sure she got home before curfew. She heard stories of the Markers patrolling the roads, and arresting people found on them after seven.
Hermione turned back to her car, opened the door, and sat down behind the wheel. She honestly hated the name “‘Mione.” She loved her full name, but after the fall of the government she knew it would be a problem. Her name was unique, which of course was something that added to her liking it, but it also made her easy to find. When the Muggle government was reformed, she changed her identification cards to read “Mary Granger,” however she always told her friends to call her ‘Mione. It was not the real thing, but it beat getting called a totally different name.
Putting the key into the starter, she turned it over, and her small car began rumbling quietly. She was still a bit new to driving, but over the past two years she became used to some things. The signals, or “flickers” as she called them, were really the only part she was still getting used to.
She gave a sigh, slowly backed out of her parking spot labeled P3-211, and began her way out at a comfortable pace. It was always a hassle exiting the office, because of all the security checks. They had to be done of course, “for the safety of the country,” but she could always tell they were looking for other things. A weapon or explosive device would make them upset, but a wand . . . oh, if they found a wand they would take you away forever.
Hermione found this out quite early, and had no choice but to hide her wand, and all her magical devices as quickly as possible. She remembered the day Seamus and a few other wizards and witches were trying to get out of Scotland after Hogwarts fell. Markers inspected everyone for magical objects, and Hermione was lucky to get past with a group of Muggles fleeing the fires that raged across the highlands. She shrunk all her items to fit in her shoes, and the Markers were too busy to check there.
Seamus, along with several other ex-Hogwarts students however were not as lucky. They found his family’s shamrock pendant around his neck, which turned different colours for different people. He showed it to Hermione a few days early, and smiled as it was green for him, and turned ruby red for her. It turned black with the Marker that checked it, and he immediately called for assistance. Seamus and the others were taken away at wand-point, and Hermione could only cry as they took hold of a portkey, and vanished never to be seen again.
It pained Hermione even thinking of those dark times. Seamus had helped her in a way she could not describe. After Ron’s death, and Harry's soon after, Seamus helped Hermione get out of Hogwarts before it crumbled to the ground, and told her they had to get out of Scotland. He saved her life, at least a dozen times, and she never had the chance to say thank you.
Moving forward to the guard station, Hermione wiped her eye of the excess water. If she met the guards with tears in her eyes, they would bring her to an interrogation chamber for sure. Dealings with the guards or Markers always had to be done without problems of any kind, except for the one guard she knew here at the car park.
‘I.D.’ the old guard asked as her tiny car pulled up to the guard post at one of the exits from the car park. The guard, a wispy grey haired man with a fairly round midsection, had a wonderfully kind smile--as well as an equally stern frown. He was checking one of the dozen or so camera monitors in the post, when he turned to take Hermione’s I.D., and his face lit up.
‘Oi ‘Mione! How was the day?’ he asked kindly. Hermione loved Gary, and always tried to take the second exit from the car park, so she could see him. She met him on her first day at the office, and he kindly informed her that she was the cutest girl he’d ever seen go through his station. He always joked about taking Hermione on a date, but she sadly had to remind him he was married, and had been for thirty-two years.
‘It was alright Gary, how were things out here?’
‘Oh you know, the usual. Had to run down a few hooligans, found some illegals here and there, you know’ he joked, passing her I.D. through the scanner.
‘That’s why they have a strapping man like yourself working here, and us pretty ladies indoors’ Hermione charmed. Her face appeared on the monitor with her information, and she frowned at the screen. She hated the picture they took of her. Garry nodded at the screen with a smile, and turned towards her again.
‘Yeah, well I’d rather be in there with all you pretty ladies. Well’ he said, turning back to the screen, ‘you’re not a terrorist, as usual. Girls like you couldn’t be terrorists anyways; too good lookin’ for that line ‘o work’ he chuckled, giving Hermione back her card.
‘Yes, well I’ll be sure to warn you when I step up to that line of work. See you on Monday!’ Hermione said as she started off.
‘Don’t forget you owe me a pint!’ he yelled as she pulled away.
‘I know, I know!’ she replied, beaming at the old man. He waved, and Hermione turned her car onto the street towards her apartment.
Since she moved to London, she always kept to laying low. She worked at the government’s publishing office near Maryleborne. All published articles, books, magazines; everything had to be checked by the government before being published to the public. Her job, which she shared with hundreds of other people, was the rather remedial one of cataloging the submissions.
Hermione did not mind it that much. Even though it was a tedious job, it allowed her a good income and no one asked her questions. It was nothing like her dream job, but that was a far cry away from happening now since it required her using magic.
Driving through the city towards the suburb, she sighed as she looked at the government ads placed everywhere. All in black with white writing, preaching togetherness for the greater good, and independence from the world.
Hermione at first did not understand why the Muggle government was reformed. Voldemort was always about destruction and ruling, yet he put in place a government that continued to hide the wizarding world from the general public. She figured out soon enough what Voldemort did though.
Once all of Britain was his, he came to realize that there were pluses to keeping the wizarding world hidden, and establishing a government. It allowed him to control both worlds, and mold the Muggle public to work for him without them knowing. He instituted his own Ministry, and it was in charge of finding new wizards, and training them. They would all become Markers, and those who defied him would be put in their place.
It gave Hermione goose bumps thinking about it all. Not even five years ago she would have been at Hogwarts, and the world would be how it was meant to be; no curfew, no terror, and no censors. She always wished she could do something to change it all back, but it seemed impossible to her. What could one lonely office clerk do?
Pulling up to her small building near Kentish Town she parked her car along the side of the street, and turned off the engine. It was a fairly dreary day, with overcast clouds covering the entire sky. Everything appeared to echo the dismal feeling of the world, looking grey and tired.
The buildings in her neighborhood were nicer than the government build flats in East London. She lived in an older part of the city that did not change in the reformation. Add space was very limited, so when she walked along the street or stared out her front window, she could forget the reformation and imagine it was like it was.
Getting out of her car, she picked up her purse, and entered her building. It was stone three storey building built in the 1950’s after World War Two. Hermione liked it because they built it like the other buildings around it, which were all nicely aged.
She loved old buildings. It always felt like she was basking in history when she would be in those types of buildings; like she was actually living in the time it reflected. Hogwarts did that for her too, though she would never experience that again.
Opening up the door to her flat on the second floor, she put her keys down on the counter, and felt a bushy tail rub up against her leg. Closing the door and locking it, she smiled and picked up her cat.
‘Oh Crookshanks, at least you’re still around’ she whispered to the stubby-nosed cat. He closed his eyes in contentment, and purred quietly as she pet his head. Putting him back on the floor, he slowly made his way to the window, and jumped onto the side table so he could look out at the passing cars.
Turning on a light, she began to look through her kitchen to see what to eat. She did not want to eat too much, because she was going out tonight to go see a friend anyways.
The day she found out Neville was still alive, she could not believe it. He was able to escape Hogwarts before it fell, and somehow ended up in Ireland. He waited until after the reformation to return to England and in the process—like Hermione—changed his name, though he just had to change his last name.
It was by complete coincidence that she found out. She was taking some time off, and went to Liverpool to visit some family. While there, she and her aunt were walking along the habourfront when she literally ran into him. He had just crossed the Irish Sea on a fishing trawler, and the difference in his appearance was overwhelming to Hermione.
Neville had, in that last battle, fought bravely, but paid dearly for it. He survived of course, but a long scar marked the side of his face, he walked with a limp, and his right arm never worked the same after the curse Bellatrix Lestrange enacted on it.
Hermione heard all about his flight, and how he was able to survive in Ireland. He ended up living in London too, and Hermione was pleased to hear he was not far from her own flat.
She was of course worried about the curfew, but planned on leaving before it took effect. Neville invited her to stay the night to not get in trouble, and she was happy for his hospitality. She had never been to his place, and she knew he would be a gentleman about it. Hermione liked Neville as a friend—a very close friend—but she was not in the mood for a partner. Too many deep emotional scars remained from years past, and she knew she was not ready for that step yet.
Making a light snack, she sat down on her comfortable brown couch, and turned on the television. Crookshanks glanced at Hermione from the table, his eyes bright from the light outside, and she pat the side of the couch next to her. He determinately dropped onto the carpet and trotted over; jumping up on the couch, and laying down next to her under her hand, so she could slowly pet him while watching the news.
‘Fifteen arrests were made today in Bristol after terrorists tried to destroy a building holding hundreds of unarmed civilians’ a plump newswoman told on the evening news. Hermione sighed, and took another bite of her small sandwich.
‘In other news, Chancellor Crepund met with the London Council to discuss the rising crime rate in East London. The Chancellor assured that the violence will soon decrease, and stressed that the public must be vigilant against illegal activity.’
Hermione put down her sandwich, and turned the television off. These days, all the news was about violence occurring. She was smart enough to know the stories they neglected specifics about were probably the ones they were told not to report on. Saying "violence will soon decrease" meant more arrests, and more Markers on the streets; both of which were not pleasant.
Getting up and placing her plate in the kitchen, Hermione went ahead and changed into something better. She did want to look nice for Neville. They talked a few times on the phone, but they could not really discuss normal things, since the phone lines were scanned by the government. Mentioning magic would be a grave mistake.
Changing into a nice, but proper skirt and blouse, she checked her watch, and began to hurry as it read 6:45pm. It was not a long walk to Neville’s, but fifteen minutes would be cutting it short. She knew the Markers walked around curfew time, just aching to find someone out late. A young woman like her would be quite the target, especially if they found she was a witch, or ex-witch.
Grabbing her coat she gave Crookshanks, who stayed on the couch and watched her run back and forth from her room to the loo getting ready, a gentle pat. He closed his eyes in contentment, and watched as she grabbed her bag of clothes and other items for the overnight, and left.
Walking out into the street, she sighed in frustration at her watch, which now read 6:55pm. There was no way she could make it to Neville’s before the curfew. She started off anyways, knowing he would worry if she did not show.
There were other concerns besides the Markers. Illegals and other delinquents roamed the night streets. Hermione kept a bottle of pepper spray just in case, although she wished she could carry her wand.
Walking along the street, the lamps cast their light onto the concrete. It was eerie walking this late at night now, since no one was outside. The clicks from her shoes hitting the pavement reverberated around the area, and everything else was deathly quiet.
Hearing a shuffle, Hermione turned around to see a hunched man walk across the street in the darkness. He was far enough away not to pose a concern, but Hermione increased her pace.
Turning back, she saw another man standing under a nearby lamp, looking down at her. Worry began to fester in Hermione’s mind, and looking around, she turned down a side street, in hopes of avoiding anyone.
Still walking at a fast pace, she turned to check if anyone was pursuing her, when she ran into what felt like the side of an elephant. Startled, she whipped her head around to see she had ran into a rather large and beefy man.
‘Oh, sorry Miss, are you alright?’ he asked kindly, checking her over. Looking at him, Hermione could see no reason for him to worry about walking after curfew. He was a very tall man, and had arms the size of tree trunks on him.
‘I’m alright, there were some men following me’ she explained, hoping to end this conversation and make it to Neville’s soon.
‘I see. And what has you out so late tonight?’ the man asked, his tone changing slightly. Hermione began feeling nervous over this fellow, and backed away slowly, still staying close so the distance was not too noticeable.
‘I’m going to visit my father, he is ill’ Hermione lied, glancing around to see the streets still as empty as ever. There was a dark corridor to their right that led into an alley, and the large man noticed her glance.
‘Ill father eh? What do you think about that Simon?’ the man asked, looking over Hermione’s shoulder.
‘Spoutin’ lies this one is Henry’ the man named Simon said in his grizzled voice. He was a shorter than Henry, but his eyes frightened Hermione. They were bright blue, and reminded her of the late Alastor Moody’s magical eye.
Simon approached closer, and Hermione turned to see Henry doing the same. ‘Perhaps we should figure out her real reason for being out here’ Henry responded. Hermione had enough, and pulled out her pepper spray from her purse, pointing at both Henry, and Simon—who had moved around to face Hermione.
‘Stay away from me, the both of you’ she demanded, Henry smiling at her.
‘Oh, you’ll be regretting that missy’ he informed, pulling out a black flipbook to show a picture of his face, and the green Dark Mark below it. Hermione’s eyes grew wide as she glanced at the skull and the snake.
‘How could you Mark me like that?’ she asked, her mind frantic about what she should do. Running was an idea, however if these men were Markers, they would just use magic on her. She began beating herself up inside for not bringing her wand with her.
‘Catching on now aren’t you? You’ll be com’n with us now missy’ Henry maintained darkly. Simon fidgeted, and moved a step forward.
‘Hmm, perhaps we can have a bit o’ fun with this one hey Henry? She’s quite pretty, even if she is a filthy Muggle?’ Simon expressed slyly, moving closer, and reaching out to her arm. The moment his dirty fingers touched her shoulder, Hermione acted before she knew what she was doing.
Spraying both faces of the Markers, Hermione turned and ran as fast as possible through the corridor, and into the dank alley. She could hear footsteps behind her, and suddenly she was struck in the back with what she knew was a spell, and hit the cobblestone ground hard.
‘Thinkin’ you could run away from us eh deary? You have no idea who you’re dealing with do yeh?’ Simon questioned, looking down at her as she rolled over on the wet ground.
‘You know Simon, I think we will have that fun before we bring her in’ Henry said smiling at Simon. Hermione began panicking as Simon bent down, and took hold of her shoulders.
‘No, please! Don’t do this!’ Hermione yelled at the two men, as Simon moved to his knees, and Hermione tried fighting back as hard as possible. She trashed at him, and tried pulling on his hair, but he grabbed her arm and forcefully pinned it to the ground. Henry was smiling at the struggle Hermione was giving, and she continued even harder to break free of Simon's strong grasp.
‘Cowards die many times before their deaths; the valiant never taste of death but once*’ a deep and calm voice said from the shadows behind the men. Simon and Henry turned, and Hermione was able to glimpse the man who spoke, and caught her breath in the process.
A tall, cloaked man stood in the archway. Dressed entirely in black, complete with black hair and a black wide brimmed top, he was hard to notice until you saw his mask. It was a mask of Guy Fawkes, coloured ivory white. The darkness of the night and the dimness of the alley made the mask look as if it was floating in mid air.
‘Who are you?’ Henry demanded, turning around while Simon watched, but kept hold of Hermione’s shoulders.
‘Men at some time are masters of their fates**’ the voice said again in eerie calmness, the masked man staying in place.
Henry seemed to be getting annoyed by this man. ‘Look here, we’re Markers, so you’d best be-‘
Henry was stopped when a bright string of red light shot from the darkness near the masked man, and Henry was thrown across the alley, and slammed hard into the brick wall. He slid down the side, and was clearly knocked out, if not killed from the spell.
Simon instantly threw Hermione on the ground, stood up, and took out his own wand. ‘Crucio!’ he yelled, the spell jetting off at the masked stranger. The man seemed to vanish from the dark archway, and reappeared next to it. Another spell flew from the masked man’s general position, and Simon was lifted off the ground, and thrown back down the alley, hitting the cobblestone with a disturbing thud.
Quietness filled the alley, and Hermione kept low on the cold and wet ground as she saw the masked man come into the dim lamp light. He was not as tall as Henry was, but easily towered over Hermione. His mask surveyed the area, and stopped at Hermione, who cringed and inched farther away along the ground.
‘Do not worry, I mean you no harm. Are you alright?’ the mask stranger asked easily, looking at Hermione through the mask and remaining on the opposite side of the alley. He offered his leather gloved hand to help her up and she accepted, though she kept her distance.
‘I’m alright, thank you. Who are you?’ she asked as she stood up slowly, glancing at Henry and Simon, both of whom remained motionless.
‘Who? Who is but a title placed upon the what, and what I am is a man in a mask.’
‘I noticed’ Hermione quipped, rubbing her shoulders trying both to remain calm and warm. Never would she have imagined that tonight she would be talking to a man-a wizard-dressed in black and wearing a Guy Fawkes mask, who saved her from two Markers after curfew.
‘Gathering from your initial reaction I figured as much. I am merely commenting on the paradox of asking a masked man who he is’ the masked stranger explained easily, sounding neither annoyed or conceited.
‘Alright’ Hermione answered, not knowing how to respond to such a statement. Just because this man got rid of the Markers, does not mean he is safe to trust. It is after curfew, and some who roam the streets of London at night can be dangerous, especially those who wear masks.
‘But a title must be needed, for everything has a title these days. So, with that in mind, let me paint you a picture of this persona to which I call myself’ he stated, Hermione again becoming nervous over this new fellow.
‘Both victim and villain I am called' he started, looking at Hermione with his head tilted. 'For neither can be verified nor versed. Veiled and vanished from the voracious and vindictive, I remain focused to vindicate the valiant and vanquish vice and venal vermin.
'Vanguarding the vigilant from the venom of the vain, I stand vivified that the valorous will once again venture forwards, and with a velocity and vanity unseen will vilify and vault the vile and restore the vestige of valour to the world’ he stated loudly, turning quickly and with his wand, marking out two intersecting lines of fire on the wall to make a V.
‘The verdict to be made is vengeance; a vendetta, vying vicissitude and not vicarious viciousness’ he said quietly, turning back towards Hermione who was still standing close the other wall.
‘So let me close by saying I it is my honour to meet you and you may call me V.’
So there it is, the first chapter. Now I know this follows the movie quite a bit, but trust me, the rest of it really won't be alike. It'll go off in a totally different way, and should be interesting to write and read.
Please review folks, and let me know what you think.
Oh, and lastly; this character V, to get you all thinking and wondering, is someone from the books. :)
Crepund - L. crepundia - plaything, a toy
* - From Julius Caesar, Act II, Scene III
** - From Julius Caesar, Act I, Scene II
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