Hey guys, I'm so sorry for the long wait. Again. Thank you so much for still coming back to read this new update, despite what a horrible author I am. As promised, this chapter is quite longer than the last one. I hope you will find it worth the wait.
Chapter 5: Vows and Promises
The pain was overwhelming. She felt as if a flame had ignited in her chest and had quickly spread to the rest of her body. She could hardly move, so she simply clutched her middle and stayed still until the pain abated to a manageable amount.
When she could finally breathe in again without feeling as if she were dying, Hermione became aware of the voices calling her name. At first, they seemed as if they were coming from far away, but as the pain lessened, the voices grew in volume until she realized that they were coming from right next to her. She remembered everything that had happened in the last couple of days and soon became aware that the voices belonged to the Pevensies and Mr. and Mrs. Beaver.
Hermione opened her eyes and looked right into Peter's concerned ones. She realized quite how beautiful his blue eyes were and noticed that they had little specks of grey in them. She was brought out of her reverie by a sudden movement.
Peter extended his arm towards her, as if he wanted to comfort her with his touch. For an instant, she marveled at how much had changed since the day they first met, when he couldn't stand the sight of her.
Hermione realized that something was wrong when Peter's eyes went wide as saucers as he stared at his hand on her back. That's when she became aware of the fact that she couldn't feel his touch, so she turned to see what was going on.
She turned her head as far as it would go and gasped at the sight of Peter's hand going through her. She moved away quickly and stared up at him in fear. She suddenly became aware of the others around her as well and could tell by their expressions that they were just as frightened and confused as she was.
For a moment, no one said a word and there wasn't a sound to be heard. Then Susan swallowed quite visibly and seemed to gather courage to be the first one to speak.
She opened her mouth but no sound came out, so she closed it and cleared her throat before trying again.
"W-what just happened?"
Hermione wished she had an answer for her, but the situation was just as bizarre for her as it was for them. She had never heard of anything like this occurring in any of the mountains of books she had read at the Hogwarts library. The image of Peter's hand going through her back was burned into her brain, but she simply couldn't wrap her mind around it. Then, a fleeting thought crossed her mind, bringing with it clarity of the situation and an unshakeable sense of doom to settle over her like a dark cloud.
Aslan had warned her about it. He had specifically told her to be careful with her magic, that she should use as little of it as possible. But she had foolishly gone and used it multiple times not even 24 hours after his warning. If she was dying it was because of her foolish and rash actions.
She was dying.
The realization hit her like a speeding train, and she suddenly found it very hard to breathe. She felt so much hopelessness and despair in that moment; tears started gathering in her eyes. This didn't go unnoticed by the eldest Pevensie sibling, who immediately snapped out of his shocked state.
"Hermione, what's going on?"
She barely heard him. Hermione couldn't stop thinking about that she wouldn't be able to accomplish if she were to die. She worried what Harry would do without her; no matter what, she knew that he needed her to survive, but also to be there for him in the darkest of times, which she knew were coming. She wondered who would be there to scold Ron for his immature behavior and to sometimes help him set his priorities straight. She worried about how those two would manage to finish all their homework and pass the year without her there to remind them.
She worried about her parents, and what they would do when confronted by the news that their only daughter had died during a battle in the Ministry of Magic. She recalled all those times when she had been forced to lie to them and tell them that things were fine and that she would be safe at Hogwarts so they'd let her keep attending. Hermione was already gone most of the year at school so she knew that her parents would manage without her, but she knew full well that they would miss her terribly and she didn't want them to have to endure that pain.
She worried about the Pevensies; she knew they could sometimes be quite careless and she feared what would be of them without her there to keep them in check and make sure they were safe. Hermione knew that the situation they were in would only grow more dangerous and that there was a big chance they would be forced to fight in the inevitable battle against the White Witch. She was afraid that they would die without her there to protect them.
Suddenly, she felt hands grab onto her shoulders in a strong grip, though not hard enough to hurt. She looked up into Peter's face and saw frustration, fear and concern in it. In a way, knowing that she wasn't the only one freaking out at that moment made her feel a little better about everything, but not much.
"What's going on? Are you ok? Are you hurt?"
This was not good. She didn't want any of them to know what was going on with her. They'd start treating as if she were fragile and not let her do anything to help if a dangerous situation arose. She couldn't have that. She was sent to them to protect them, not to be coddled by them. But they already knew something was going on and she didn't know how to make them drop it.
"I-I'm fine, just a little shocked is all," she said, glad that her voice only wavered a little.
This, of course, didn't seem to be enough for Peter.
"Fine? How could you be fine when my hand is able to go right through you?"
His voice had a slightly frantic edge to it, and Hermione knew she had to do something before he went into full blown freak out mode.
"Yeah, I'm just not really used to the sight of that," she answered. Peter's eyes seemed to widen further than they were before, so she urged her brain to come up with something before he could continue interrogating her.
"It's just that wizards normally know to keep their distance to prevent that from happening."
Peter had a dumbfounded look on his face. He opened his mouth and closed it again a few times, apparently not knowing what to say to that.
At last, he settled on "Pardon?"
"Yeah. You see, when a witch or wizard is really weak, we are able to become a little intangible so our magic and body can get their strength back faster."
She couldn't believe the utter shite coming out of her mouth.
"You mean that's normal?"
Hermione gave a startled jump when Susan spoke up. She had, once again, forgotten that the others were there. Peter had the uncanny ability of making her aware only of him when he focused all his being on her. She tried not to dwell on it too much.
Hermione nodded and continued with her outrageous excuse.
"Yeah, I know it's kind of weird but it helps us gather our strength back faster. Most of us do it so often that sometimes we even forget about it. That's why I was so startled when I saw Peter's hand going through me."
She watched them struggle to take this information in, but it seemed that they accepted it. She let herself relax a little and gave an inward sigh, glad that the interrogation seemed to be over.
"Well, what about the pain?"
She tensed up again. Hermione inwardly cursed Peter for his attentiveness and inability to let things go.
"Oh, that was nothing to worry about."
"You were doubled over and groaning in pain! How can you say that that was nothing to worry about? You scared us witless!" he answered, staring at her in disbelief.
Hermione didn't know what to say to that, but her brain had apparently already come up with an answer. Without really thinking it over too much, she blurted out the first excuse that came to mind.
"I have cramps, ok? It was just cramps!"
Oh dear Merlin.
A stunned silence followed her declaration. She watched as Peter's face gradually gained color until it was a bright red. She could feel her face growing warmer and knew she must look just as red as him.
Suddenly, Lucy let out a giggle, breaking the tension surrounding the group. It seemed like she couldn't contain it any longer and let out a loud laugh. Susan looked away, but Hermione could see her shoulders shaking and knew she was laughing as well. She felt even more embarrassed than before, if that was even possible.
Hermione cleared her throat and awkwardly turned in the direction that they were heading to before that embarrassing ordeal had started.
"W-we should keep going. Aslan must be waiting for us," she said, trying to move on from the whole experience.
Thankfully, everyone seemed to agree and the group started advancing as one. Now that Susan and Lucy had stopped laughing, Hermione could feel her face starting to cool down a little.
Mrs. Beaver, who had been walking in the front next to her husband, slowed down to walk beside her.
"Are you sure you're fine, dear? Are you still in pain?" she asked, her motherly nature evident.
"Yes, I'm ok. The pain has lessened a lot now," Hermione answered, just wanting the whole matter to be dropped.
Of all the excuses she could have come up with this was probably the most embarrassing one. Thankfully, it seemed like it was enough to convince the group that everything was fine.
She turned her head back and caught Peter staring at her with a contemplative look on his face. It seemed like he had gotten over her embarrassing admission, but something about his stare gave Hermione an uneasy feeling. It seemed like she hadn't been as convincing as she thought.
She couldn't wait to get to Aslan's Camp.
They walked for a little while longer in silence. The snow had melted quickly and the day grew warm. They left their coats at the bottom of one of the trees, which were much scarcer now that they were out of the forest.
Everywhere she turned, Hermione saw the deep green of the grass or the beautiful pink of the flowers in the trees. It was mesmerizing. She couldn't believe that all this beauty had been covered up in snow for a hundred years. She looked back at the reason for this welcomed change and felt pride at being able to protect them.
Soon, they saw tents in the distance, and as they got closer, Hermione felt at home seeing red and gold everywhere she looked. Being surrounded by Gryffindor's colors seemed like a good sign to her.
"Is this it?" asked Susan, as if she needed reassurance that they had finally made it. Mr. Beaver turned and gave her a smile.
"Yes, we're here."
They reached the outer tents and Hermione greedily took everything in. There were creatures everywhere, some familiar to her and others not so much. As they walked on the path through the middle, she saw centaurs, fauns, bears, pigs, jaguars, horses and many more animals. The ones that had more human features all were in armor. There were weapons everywhere and all the creatures seemed to leave what they had been doing to stare at them as they walked by. She heard them start following them but didn't look back.
They were all walking next to each other; Hermione felt comforted by being able to see the Pevensies and the Beavers at either side of her and knowing that they were safe.
They reached what seemed to be the center of the camp. There was a big red and gold tent on top of a long and flat rock, in front of a rocky mountain. Hermione felt excitement run through her. She was sure that Aslan was inside and she couldn't wait to see him again.
Peter did his best to appear nonplussed, but seeing all these mythical creatures and wild animals together and staring at him was slightly unnerving. He was glad he wasn't alone in this situation.
They stopped in front of the big tent and he didn't really know what to do now. There was a centaur on the side that looked slightly menacing but Peter knew he didn't mean them any harm.
"We're here to see Aslan," he heard Hermione say from next to him. He was glad someone had taken the initiative and spoken up.
The centaur turned his head towards the entrance of the tent and bowed deeply. Peter and his companions turned and saw everyone else doing the same. He heard a rustling sound and turned just in time to see a huge paw come out of the tent, followed by the body of the biggest lion he had ever seen.
He was beautiful and majestic, surrounded by an aura of strength and commanding force. Despite this, Peter immediately felt at ease at the sight of him. He knew he and his siblings were safe in his presence and he felt no fear whatsoever, only respect.
He bowed deeply and could see out of the corner of his eye that the others had done the same.
"Welcome Peter, son of Adam. Welcome Susan and Lucy, daughters of Eve. Welcome Beavers, I give you my thanks. Hermione, I'm glad to see you again. But where is the fourth?"
Peter stopped himself from visibly cringing as he rose.
"We were hoping you could help us with that, sir," he said, not really knowing how to explain what had happened.
"We had a little trouble along the way," Susan continued. That's a nice way of putting it, he thought.
"My brother's been captured by the White Witch," he said, and received restless murmurs from the crowd behind him.
He hoped that no one would inquire further. Of course, his luck wasn't that good.
"Captured? How could this happen?" Aslan asked, turning to look at Hermione.
Peter looked at Hermione as well, feeling helpless. He knew that what his brother had done was wrong, but he didn't want to condemn him in front of all these people. He was sure that it was partially his fault. If he hadn't been so hard on him and treated him better, maybe Edmund wouldn't have felt so compelled to leave them. She met his gaze and seemed to understand his hesitation. She turned back to Aslan.
"She tricked him into betraying them," she said, and Peter felt thankful to her for having found words that didn't seem as harsh as others that had been running through his head.
The murmurs surrounding them grew louder. Peter began to worry that these people wouldn't want to help them get his brother back.
"Then he has betrayed us all," said the centaur at the front in a strong and angry voice.
Aslan let out a low growl.
"Peace, Oreius. I'm sure there's an explanation," he said, and the crowd quieted down immediately. He looked expectantly at them.
"It's my fault really," he found himself saying. He could tell that the others were looking at him but he didn't move his gaze from Aslan. "I was too hard on him."
In a way, it felt good to let out what he had been thinking. He felt Hermione's fingers tentatively touch his, offering him comfort. He didn't look at her, but he allowed his fingers to slightly tangle with hers in thanks.
On his other side, Susan put her hand on his shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze, subtly reminding him that he wasn't alone in this. In that moment, Peter felt immensely grateful for the people surrounding him. His oldest sister turned to look at Aslan.
"We all were," she said, not letting him take all the blame.
"He's our brother, sir," Lucy pleaded. He felt a pang at seeing her look so sad and helpless and vowed to do everything he could to not see that expression on her face again.
"I know, dear one," the Great Lion answered her gently. "But that only makes the betrayal all the worse. This may be harder than you think," he finished, but Peter didn't let himself feel discouraged. Aslan was willing to help them.
"Aslan, may I have a word with you?" Hermione suddenly said.
Peter looked at her and felt himself begin to worry at the grimness of her face.
"Of course. Come along child," said Aslan, and he turned and began to walk back to his tent, Hermione next to him.
Peter wanted to go after them but knew he shouldn't. He knew something was wrong; he didn't believe any of the excuses she had told them before. But he also knew that she shouldn't push the matter. He was sure Hermione would tell them when she was ready.
So he ignored his impulses and turned to walk to the top of one of the hills instead.
Peter could see a castle in the distance. It seemed to be on the top of a cliff above the sea. Its surface glinted with the light of the afternoon sunlight that bounced off of it. It was a beautiful sight and he wondered who lived there.
That's where Aslan found him a while later, still staring at the castle in the distance.
"That is Cair Paravel," he began, "the castle of the four thrones, in one of which you will sit, Peter, as High King."
Peter looked down, uncomfortable at the mention of this notion.
"You doubt the prophecy?" Aslan continued, having read the hesitance on his face.
"No. That's just it. Aslan, I'm not what you all think I am," he said, feeling frustrated. Couldn't he understand that he wasn't fit for a role of such importance?
"Peter Pevensie, formerly of Finchley. Beaver also mentioned that you planned on turning him into a hat."
He chuckled slightly, recalling having said that after Mr. Beaver had told them to hurry one too many times.
"Peter, there is a Deep Magic, more powerful than any of us that rules over all of Narnia. It defines right from wrong, and governs all our destinies. Yours… and mine."
"But I couldn't even protect my own family!" he exclaimed, letting some of his frustration out.
"You've brought them safely this far."
Peter looked out over the camp, remembering the events of the last few days.
"Not all of them," he stated glumly.
"Peter, I will do what I can to help your brother, but I need you to consider what I ask of you. I, too, want my family safe," Aslan said, gazing out over the camp as well.
Looking at all the people below, Peter understood. Aslan had people to protect as well. He promised himself he would really consider it; it was the least he could do. Suddenly, a thought crossed his mind and he let out a small smile.
"If the prophecy was right about one thing, it was about Hermione. I don't know what would have been of us without her."
"I knew she would keep you all safe. She is a special and talented girl."
"That she is. I can't believe I ever doubted her," he said, grimacing a little.
"I understand why you would. I am glad that you accepted her eventually and didn't let any prejudices keep you from seeing the truth."
Peter was glad too. Hermione had helped him remember that things aren't always black and white. Having magic doesn't automatically make you evil, just like being human doesn't automatically make you good. This is something that he knew from the war back home, but he had forgotten. He started to remember everything that had taken place after they first met Hermione. He grew somber at the memory of one particular moment.
"Is she ok?" he asked, the image of her doubled over in pain, of his hand going through her, crossing his mind.
Aslan didn't say anything for a moment, which was really all the confirmation he needed.
"That's for her to tell you when she's ready," Aslan finally said.
"Is there nothing I can do?" he said, turning to look at Aslan.
"I'm afraid not," was the grim response.
Peter felt his frustration and worry escalate once more. It seemed so unfair. After everything that Hermione was willing to do for them, had done for them, he couldn't give anything in return. If he couldn't even help his friend, whom, he realized, she had become, then how was he supposed to be any help in the inevitable battle against the White Witch? He hated the feeling of utter helplessness that consumed him.
"Be there for her," Aslan suddenly said, bringing him out of his thoughts. "Give her your support and be her friend. Sometimes, that is the best gift you could give another person," he continued.
Peter mulled this over as they made their way back to the bottom of the hill. He wanted to be able to do more than that, but was also aware that he probably couldn't.
He saw his sisters sitting in a circle with Hermione. They were talking and laughing, seeming without a care in the world. Hermione was the first to spot him and gave him a bright smile, despite the redness and puffiness he could see in her eyes. In that moment, Peter vowed to, no matter what, be the best friend she could possibly ask for and would always stay by her side.
As they entered the tent, Hermione fought to make sense of her jumbled thoughts. She had no idea where to begin, so she was grateful when Aslan seemed to decide for her.
"Tell me everything that happened."
So she did.
After having finished telling him everything that had happened after they parted ways in the forest, she grew quiet and waited for his response. He didn't say anything at first, but she could tell by the grim and concerned look on his face that he was worried.
"It's happening, isn't it," she finally found the courage to say. "My abusing my magic accelerated the deterioration of my soul."
She didn't pose it as a question, but he still answered.
Once again, Hermione felt despair star to creep in. She lowered herself to the ground before her legs gave out. She felt Aslan move to her side and lower himself as well. She thrust her hands in his mane, taking the comfort that he offered her.
"How much time do I have left?" she made herself ask.
"Not very much," he said, not mincing his words, sensing that's not what she needed.
She felt the first tear slide down her face, quickly followed by the next. Soon, she was letting out great and heaving sobs that shook her whole body. Aslan put his paw around her, pulling her closer, letting her cry on him as much as she needed to. She put her arms around his neck and let it all out.
She cried for her friends, whom she hoped would be fine without her. She cried because she wouldn't be there for Harry to help him through the hard times that would come; because she wouldn't be there for Ron to make sure he was taking care of himself and to remind him how truly important he was to them.
She cried for her parents, who would wait for a daughter that would never come back. She cried for all the experiences she would miss out on, all the important moments in life that she would be robbed of.
She cried for her new friends, the ones she had only known for a couple of days but was already greatly fond of. She cried for Mr. and Mrs. Beaver, who were forced to leave everything behind to help out in a battle they might not survive. She cried for little Lucy and her tender heart, who was already deathly afraid for her brother and shouldn't be worrying about such things at her young age. She cried for Susan, the one who tried to be strong and put together for her siblings, who had escaped from one war to land in another.
She cried for Peter, who was forced to grow up much sooner than he should have. Who felt that he was responsible for the safety of his family and would do anything for them, no matter what the consequences were for himself. She cried for him and his noble heart, the one that might soon be pierced in the battlefield. She was sure he would fight, she could tell he had come to be fond of Narnia and would do everything he could to help protect it.
She dried the last of her tears, determined to not let any more fall again due to her impending death. She looked Aslan in the eye with a new resolve.
"I want to help as much as I can during the time I have left. Please allow me to do so. I wouldn't be able to die in peace knowing I could have done more," she pleaded, begging him to understand.
He looked her in the eyes and she didn't allow them to waver. He seemed to find what he had been searching for in them because he gave a slight nod.
"As you wish, dear one."
"Thank you," she answered, putting all her feelings and gratitude in those two words. She gave him one last hug before standing, feeling much better than she did before entering the tent.
They went out together and, looking around, Hermione immediately noticed a figure standing at the top of a hill, staring out into the distance. She knew it was Peter and saw that Aslan was looking at him as well. He turned back to her and gave her a parting nod, then headed in his direction.
Hermione turned around and spotted Susan and Lucy sitting down under the shade of a tree, talking. Susan said something that made Lucy laugh merrily, and the sound warmed her heart. She made her way to them, determined to enjoy her remaining time as much as she could, and to protect these new people that had become so important to her to the best of her ability.
She sat down with them, and they welcomed her with big smiles on their faces. They talked and goofed around, and Hermione's heart felt light in a way that it hadn't for days. She soon noticed Peter coming towards them; his shoulders slightly slumped, as if a new weight had been added to them. As she gave him the brightest smile she could just like the other Pevensies had done to her, she vowed to help him carry that weight for as long as she could, and to stay by his side until the day death finally came to claim her.
Oh my God, I'm updating again! I'm sooooo happy right now. I just finished this chapter and I have to say I'm feeling so much happier with it than I did with the last. I had planned on making it longer but it just felt right to finish it here. Besides, this way you guys get the update you've been waiting for the past nine months sooner.
I am so sorry for the long wait. I really have no excuse that's acceptable for that so I won't give you any. The good news are that I have finally finished high school and won't start college until September, so I hope to be able to finish the other story I began two years ago (yes, to anyone that's wondering, I haven't forgotten about that one) this story and its sequel.
Yes, you read right, there will be a sequel. I knew it almost from the first moment I started NFS. I even have some ideas outlined and just need to figure out how the whole story will unfold.
I also want to thank everyone who has stuck around and beard with me. I especially wanted to thank everyone who has left reviews. I think those people are the reason that motivate me the most to keep updating. Your reviews are always appreciated.
To any "The True Destiny of Hermione Granger" readers out there, I do plan on finishing that story as well. I started writing in without having planned it out completely, so I eventually got stuck on where my plot was going. I tried working on it today and soon realized that I had forgotten almost everything that had happened in the first two seasons of Merlin, which is really important for the plot. I already started to re-watch them to refresh my memory and will continue working on it as soon as I finish them.
I'm sure you already guessed this but my story isn't betaed, so if you notice any mistakes I would greatly appreciate it if you could send me a message and let me know.
I think that's it for now. I don't know when the next update will be but it will definitely be soon. Again, thank you so much for your support and patience.
Please don't forget to review! Remember that even one teeny tiny review can make an author's day.
Until next time!