A/N: When you read anything between ** it's Willow talking. Anything between [ ] is Hermione. And everything else is Hermione talking, unless indicated by the " " which will be other characters that you should know if you have read the previous chapters.
Summer of Redemption
- Chapter 9 -
"We love you, Hermione."
That was the last words my parents said to me that night and I didn't respond. I simply walked out the door, slamming it closed behind me, as I walked away. I walked away to do whatever it was I had thought was important at the time. But... it wasn't important at all. What had been important, I had left waiting for me at home and when I returned later, they were gone. They were dead, and in that instant, I died as well. At least, I felt as if I had. My mind seemed to shut down and the only thing that remained was that one sentence, repeating over and over, like an echo when you shout out over a deep ravine. But it never faded... it was constant. Constant in a way that was slowly driving me mad and I surely thought that the world was going mad with me.
"We love you, Hermione."
From the moment Professor McGonagall entered my room at Hogwarts and began speaking of sending me somewhere - to someone who could relate and help - I'd felt numb. Professor Lupin was to be there, but that reassurance did nothing to comfort me. Nothing at all. She spoke of me becoming 'my old self' the Hermione that they all loved. Ha, there is nobody that loves me here. The only ones who loved me were gone and I had no one. But I found myself being ushered to the outer gates of the school where Professor Dumbledore awaited us. He wanted to touch me so that he could Apparate us to wherever we were going. For the first time in 48 hours, I felt the urge to comply for some reason.
We Apparated into a living room of a homey-looking cabin.
"Good evening, Albus."
"Good to see you again, Rupert."
I noticed Remus as he took a step toward me and immediately I stepped back.
"As I told Rupert in the letter I sent, she does not like close proximity at this time. It took quite a bit of coaxing on my part to get her to allow me to touch her shoulder so we could Apparate here."
I could see the hurt and sadness in his eyes, but I just couldn't... not yet.
"Do Harry and Ron know what's happened?"
"Mr. Potter does, but the Dursleys were adamant about not allowing him to come to Hogwarts until it was time for him to come back. And under the circumstances, I don't believe it would have done any good. As for Ron Weasley, he is on holiday with his family in Romania, and with Hermione in the emotional state that she is in, I thought it pointless to interrupt it."
Pointless? How could it be pointless? I want my friends... my best friends... Don't you realize I need someone who understands?
As I stood there while pleasantries were exchanged, I felt a wave of something wash over me that I couldn't quite explain. It was pure warmth and comfort, and I was at a loss from where it came from.
*It's okay, Hermione. I'll be here for you.*
What? Who said that? I looked up into eyes that, except for the color, matched my own in terms of despair.
"Yes, of course. Here Albus, I would like to introduce you to Miss Willow Rosenberg."
Oh, so you're Willow.
"Good evening, Miss Rosenberg. I am Albus Dumbledore."
I feel a power coming off of her that is, in a way, soothing. Almost making me forget my sorrows... my guilt... almost.
"Fascinating. This is most fascinating indeed."
Yes. Yes, it is, isn't it? I cannot break the lock of our eyes, even if I wanted to.
"Would you care for a cup of tea, Albus?"
"No, I am afraid I have not the time, Rupert. But there is the little matter of the protection spell before I go."
"It is quite simple. But I will need both of your magics to help reinforce the spell."
Oh, that spell is complicated. It took me six whole months to explain it to Ron and Harry.
"Now that that is taken care of, I shall be off. I am sure Fawkes is getting worried about me."
This is it... time for my "therapy". Although... I'm not quite as unsure about it as I was before.
"Yes, well, we will contact you if anything comes up."
"You do that Rupert, you do that."
"Well, shouldn't we be off to bed? Make a fresh start in the morning? Goodnight, Willow...Miss Granger."
That Mr. Giles is a very nice man, but he just doesn't see... he doesn't know... I can't go to sleep, if go to sleep... I dream. And if I dream... then... I just can't go to sleep.
I stay up for as long as I can. I have managed to stay awake for 24 hours now. Professor McGonagall always said I was a fast learner. Well, right after my first bout with the nightmare, I learned my lesson real fast. I cannot go to sleep... I cannot go to sleep... I cannot go to sleep... I cannot... go... to...
"Hermione, honey, where are you going?"
"I'm going to the library to study, mum. I have NEWTS coming up and I need all the study time I can get if I am going to make Head Girl."
"But darling, we had planned a movie night tonight, remember? We rented your favorite movie... Sense and Sensibility."
"D-a-ad. We can watch that when I come back. I really need to study."
"You do enough studying at that school as it is, Hermione, and don't roll your eyes at me, young lady."
"Fine! But I'm still going to the library. Goodbye."
"Fine, but we love you, Hermione."
Darkness. Later than I thought it was, better hurry up and get home. Mum and dad will be worried...
But they are not worried, they'll never be worried again.
Smoke... screams... sirens... Green Lights... The Dark Mark...
OH, DEAR MERLIN, NO!
"It's alright, Hermione. Calm down, sweetie, I'm here. It's going to be alright. You're not alone anymore. I'm right here for you. Right here."
Comfort... Warmth... silence... bright auras... love...
I wake up with Willow lying beside me, stroking my hair tenderly. Although I should be confused, oddly, I am not. It's strange, but it feels good to be here, practically in her arms. Not as a girlfriend or a lover... just friends.
The bedroom door clicking shut does not even register in my mind. It is all taken up by this red-haired woman-my Savior-lying beside me.
I can't help but smile. Yes, it is a good morning. Her voice sounds just as I figured it would. Very American, and utterly sweet. This is strange, conversing with someone in one's mind... fascinating really.
*You know your friends are worried about you?*
Insightful, isn't she. If she only knew... she would think twice about trying to help me. They all would.
*Why won't you let people in?*
[Why won't you?]
There, try to be hypocritical now.
*Because it hurts. It makes it real... What I did... What I did was horrible, and senseless, and basically stupid on my part. But at the time it had felt right, you know. An eye for an eye. I know better now, but it still doesn't change what I did. It still doesn't bring back Tara.*
And it won't bring back mum and dad.
[I know that I couldn't have stopped what happened. If I had been there, I would be dead as well. What hurts the most though, is that they died before I could tell them that I loved them. I left that night without telling them what I tell them everyday. It was a ritual really. We go out to the store to pick up a loaf of bread, we always call out 'I love you' as we go out the door. But they wanted me to stay in that night. And I felt the need to have fun, so we argued and I left anyway. And I didn't tell them. I walked out the door, but I didn't say 'I love you'. I should have said it Willow. I should have said it.]
*You can't help but think that if you had just said it before you left, then things would have went differently. Or at least, they wouldn't have died thinking that you hated them, right?*
Tears... oh, why do I have to cry now?
*That, if you could just tell them now that you love them, that you could get past it.*
*Sounds like a good plan.*
What? Oh... why you little sneaky...
[I still don't feel like talking with anyone, especially Remus, not now anyway.]
Please... oh, please...
*Don't worry, Hermione. I don't feel like talking myself.*
[I guess we should get up then, huh?]
*It would be good, seeing as how Giles is probably having a stroke at this moment at the thought of us in here in the bed together.*
I can't help but giggle at the notion and Willow giggles along with me.
I wonder if he would object to being in the bed with me? Huh, wha-? Now where on Earth did that come from? Oh, my Goddess!
[Let's put him out of his misery, shall we?]
*Yeah, I'd say that would be a good idea.*
We sit on the couch as Mr. Giles stares at us curiously. And I cannot help but study him from under my lashes... he appears a bit younger than Remus. At least by a couple years. His sandy hair has barely begun to show its gray hairs, making him look distinguished and very handsome. Piercing blue eyes...
[He looks cute with that confused look on his face like that.]
[What? Well, he is cute.]
*But... it's Giles!*
Man, I've giggled more this morning than I have in ages. It feels good.
*Hmm, I wonder where Remus is?*
Hmm, I wonder if someone doesn't have a crush.
"Yes, well then, um, W-Willow would you and Miss. Granger like some coffee? Remus will be finished with breakfast any moment, I'm sure."
*Ah, he's in the kitchen. Well, Hermione, what do you say? Feel up for a cup of coffee?*
[Yes, a cup of coffee sounds wonderful.]
*Uh, I guess I'd better nod, huh?*
[I would expect it would get the message across.]
*Smart ass. And stop with all the giggling, will you?*
I can't believe Remus cooked my favorite breakfast! Oh, the man is such a dear! Why didn't I feel I could turn to him? He has always been there for me, and Harry and Ron.
Harry and Ron.
[Do you have any spare paper laying about?]
*Yeah, it's in the bedroom. Top shelf. There's some pencils in there too. What are you gonna do?*
[I just need to know something is all.]
Yes, I need to know if I can see them. Willow is great, but I need my best friends. Now let me see... paper paper, oh yes, here we are. Now a pen... gotcha. Okay, well, here goes.
*Harry and Ron. Your friends?*
[The very best. I miss them.]
"Oh, Hermione, I'm sorry, love. The Dursley's won't allow Harry to leave, and Ron is in Romania with his family."
Note to self. Obliviate Dursleys and ship them to Romania. But its time, I need to talk... but to a familiar face.
[Figures. Willow, I think I'm ready now.]
*Then go for it, Hermione. I'll be here waiting for you.*
Now, let's just hope Remus gets the idea and follows.
I can do this... I can do this... I can do this...
Remus, please... make it go away. Make the pain go away, its too much. If I can't have Harry and Ron, then please, just... just do something! A shoulder is good. Thank you, Remus... thank you.
"I never told them I loved them."
Was that me? I guess so, Merlin, I sound rough.
"The night of the attack, my parents and I had been arguing. It was stupid, really."
Yes, very stupid.
"I wanted to go out, and they wanted me to stay. Spend a little time with them for a change. And I told them I couldn't cause I had already made plans and didn't want to break them."
Like I don't spend enough time in a library at Hogwarts!
"Oh, how could I have been so stupid! I was so mad at them when I left, I didn't tell them I loved them. I always tell them I love when I leave the house."
Always... until that moment.
"Mione, listen to me honey. This is in no way your fault. Your parents loved you very much, and they knew that you loved them. Oh sweetheart, I wish there was something I could do. Anything to reassure you that you're parents understood-"
Of course... why didn't I think of it before...
"There is something you can do to reassure me."
"Anything 'Mione, just tell me."
"I want you and Willow to help me perform the Spectral Unity spell."
"What? No, Hermione, that spell is too dangerous. And plus, I don't think you or Willow are up to doing any magic right now. You can't possibly think that-"
"We'll do it."
Willow, thank Merlin. Please Remus, you have got to do this for me... please.
"Alright 'Mione, alright."
It was time to begin the Spectral Unity spell, so we bowed our heads.
I was to start the chant, as Willow had instructed me, starting my voice out soft, then rising in volume and intensity as the spell got more involved.
"Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the East, Powers of Air.
Here stands one in need of unity of the mind.
Let the light of dawn surround me in safety,
Let the Aspen tree ground me to Mother Earth,
Let the eastern wind hold me in the palm of its hand,
That I may grow in goodness and light, in the service of the Mother."
The gush of wind enveloping us is surprising, as I am quite sure the windows are closed. Good, that means the spell is working. I am nervous, as I am sure both Remus and Mr. Giles are as well. I have never cast a spell like this, nor any other for that matter, without a wand. Neither has Remus and he is cautious. But I have such faith in him and my schooling. My Professors have taught me well, and I just know that we can do it. I finish my part of the chant, and then it is Willow's turn.
"Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the South, Powers of Fire.
Here stands one in need of unity of the spirit.
Let the noon light surround her in safety,
Let the Almond tree ground her to Mother Earth,
Let the southern wind flow around her to protect her,
That she may grow in goodness and light, in the service of the Mother."
The hum fills the room, and my grip tightens on Willow's hand. The glow from within our circle casts off a surprising warmth. Remus takes a deep breath before beginning his part.
"Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the West, Powers of Water.
Here stands one in need of unity of her emotions.
Let the dusk of twilight shroud her in protection,
Let the Willow tree ground her to Mother Earth,
Let the western wind shroud her from all evil,
That she may grow in goodness and light, in the service of the Mother,"
A silvery mist makes its way from somewhere out of the darkness to pool itself in our inner circle. Good, it's working. Now for Mr. Giles' part.
"Hail, Guardians of the Watchtowers of the North, Powers of Earth.
Here stands one in need of unity of her body.
Let the dark of midnight shroud her in protection,
Let the Oak tree ground her to Mother Earth,
Let the northern wind keep her from all harm,
That she may grow in goodness and light, in the service of the Mother."
All together now.
"Hear us, oh guardians of the elements and quarters.
we stand as children of the universe
We call on you to reunite spirit with form.
We ask not that you change them,
for their will is their own,
But grant us sight and speech,
that we may share our thoughts with the light
With good intent and in the service of Mankind and Mother Earth."
That's it. They should answer any min- oooh.
*It's okay, 'Mione. Everything is going fine.*
The mist is taking form now, rising and folding in on itself. Taking on the forms of a woman and man... of my parents. Merlin, how I miss them.
"Hermione? Honey, is that you?"
"Yes mum, it's me."
"Oh my baby. Please, what's going on? Why are we here?"
"We summoned you for just a moment. We'll allow you to go back, but I just wanted to tell you something first."
"Go ahead sweetheart. You've always known you could tell us anything."
"I know dad, and I have. But...that night. I didn't get to tell you what I always tell you before I leave the house. After our fight, I was so mad at you both that I never said the words that I always say before I walk out the door. "
"Oh baby, is that why you did this? We know you were upset, honey. It's okay, we understand. We know in our heart of hearts that you love us. And never doubt our love for you. You are our daughter and we will always love you. And even though we can't be with you physically, know that we will be in your heart. Be happy Hermione. Finish your studies and become the great witch that we know you to be. Make us proud, sweetheart!"
*Say it, 'Mione. Now's the time.*
"I love you, mom and dad."
"We love you too, Hermione."
As the misty forms of my parents begin to dissipate, a sense of relief washes over me that is so overwhelming that I fall to my knees as I watch the silver fog creeping back across the floor and into the night. Leaving us here, two very happy and emotionally complete women and two very handsome guys. I wonder what we will do now?