It was dark. And cold, and more than a tiny bit damp. She shifted on the lumpy bed, wondering when the hell her furniture got swapped around. When a drop of water dropped onto her hand, her eyes flew open.
She sure as well wasn't in Hogwarts, anymore.
Above her a leafy canopy obstructed the sky. And as she looked upwards another drop of water dropped onto her face. She wiped it away and sat up, looking around her. The bed she was lying on was made of branches, and she was covered with a thick coarse blanket. Under the blanket she wore her underwear but nothing else.
What the bloody hell is going on? she asked. There was no answer.
She slowly stood, her legs unsteady, and wrapped the blanket around her shoulders, clutching it to her chest. Her took a few steps, the rough ground painful against her bare feet. The sound of rain above her grew heavier, and the drops falling on her were becoming more frequent.
"Ah, there you are." She whirled, wishing for her wand. A short wiry woman stood before her, dressed in rough trousers and an over-long shirt. "It's starting to rain, so let's go." She took her by the arm and guided her through the trees.
"This is the Forbidden Forest." She realised, looking around. "Why am I here? And who are you?"
"My name's Mira. I'm not sure why you're here, short that here's where I found you." She nodded distractedly, still looking around.
"But…the battle…has it finished?"
"It finished." Mira said flatly.
"And?" She grasped Mira's arm, forcing the woman to stop. "Tell me what happened?"
"Voldemort was destroyed." Mira said, walking on.
"How long have I been here?" She asked.
"You ask a lot of questions." Mira commented. "In here. Come on." She pushed aside a wall of ivy and revealed a cave. She stepped inside and gasped.
The walls were lined with smooth wood panels, and the floor too was boarded. There was a stove, a bed, a table and two chairs. It was primitive and simple, perhaps, but it was very civilised.
"It's not much, but it's home. Sit down." Still wrapped in the coarse blanket, she sat.
"You've been 'ere two weeks, far as I can tell. The unicorns found you, just inside the wood. Brought me to you. Couldn't touch you themselves…not pure so much anymore, are you?" She shook her head.
"Well, anyways. Found me and brought me there, but the centaurs had already found you and a nice place for you to lie. Forest folk think if you're sick the best you can do is lie under sky. And weather's been nice too." Outside the rain was pouring now.
"I have to go back to school." She said.
"Not too fast, missy." Mira put a cup of tea in front of her. "Drink that up and I'll get some water for you to wash and then I'll see if I can find you summat more substantial than a horse-hair blanket to wear, eh?"
She looked down at the blanket with sudden clarity. "It's perfectly clean, no worries." Mira continued. She lifted the mug to her lips and sipped the hot liquid. It was bitter and Hermione resisted the urge to spit it back out again.
"So what's your name, anyway?" Mira asked as she put a huge kettle full of water on the stove.
"Hermione. Hermione Granger."
They were into the third week now, Amelie realised as she lay in the huge bed sandwiched between Ginny and Draco. On the other side of Ginny Harry was asleep, snoring quietly. She wasn't quite sure when all four had decided to sleep in her bed, and she made a mental note to enlarge her bed. What she did know is they all slept better with the company. There was nothing sexual about it – they had just all lost very dear friends and supported each other. It also stopped them waking up alone, left to their loss.
"Are you okay?" Draco's arm moved around her waist, and she looked over her shoulder at him. his grey eyes were only half open, his longish blonde hair hanging in front of them.
"We're into three weeks now." She whispered. He nodded, his arm tightening around her waist. "I miss her."
"So do I." Draco agreed, his eyes fully opening. She snuggled into him, so her form fitted with him, copying the position that Ginny and Harry were in. That was possibly the one good thing that had come out of all this – Harry and Ginny were finally together.
"Um…Amelie-" Draco sounded distinctly uncomfortable and Amelie smirked.
"Sorry." She obligingly scooted away from him and she heard him sigh.
"It's a boy thing. I don't understand, and I find it highly amusing, but I forgive you."
"You're too kind." Draco said drily. Susie, perched on the back of the desk chair, suddenly squawked and took flight. Ginny and Harry stirred.
"What's going on?" Ginny asked blearily.
"I don't know. Hold on." Amelie wriggled out from under the covers, managing to kick Ginny in the stomach in the process, before she scrambled over the various forms in her bed to go to the window where Susie was malting messily. "What's up you crazy bird?" she asked, looking out the window. "There's nothing there." Susie squawked again. "You sound like you've got a bug in your throat." Amelie commented, still watching out the window. "There's nothing there, you silly thing." She said, rolling her eyes and turning away from the window. "Sorry for kicking you Ginny." She grabbed a white satin robe of the trunk at the end of the bed and shrugged it over the green satin cami and shorts. "Susie's gonna blow any time soon and I think it's making her a bit nutters."
"S'ok." Ginny mumbled. Susie squawked again, a harsh noise followed by a whoosh that had Amelie whirling and running to the window, moving the curtains out of the way of the burning bird.
"Don't you make a mess." She scolded, when her gaze caught on something outside. She dropped the curtain in shock.
"Amelie!" Draco was out of bed and holding up the smoldering curtain from the dying flames of the small bird. "Watch what you're doing!" she glanced over at him, shirtless and wearing sweats.
"Sorry. Draco…" she said absently. "Look, over there. What's that?" She pointed out the window, at the edge of the Forbidden Forest.
"What's what? There's nothing there." He peered out the window.
"Yes there is. I saw something move in there."
"Amy…the forest is full of moving things. One at the edge is…holy fuck!" he dropped the curtain and there was a peep.
"Don't smother her!" Amelie exclaimed, lifting the curtain and rescuing the tiny ugly baby pheonix from the pile of ash. She cradled the bird against her chest, getting ash all over the front of the white satin robe and returned to the window. "So did you see it?"
"I saw it." Draco's voice was flat. As the two of them watched, a form detached itself from the trees and started across the parched, dusty lawn.
"Oh my god." Amelie whispered.
"Hermione!" Draco tore out of the room, Amelie hot on his heels.
"Hermione?" Harry sat up groggily.
Draco and Amelie tore down the stairs, regardless of Professor McGonagall who the passed on the way.
"Miss Evans? Where do you think you are going? Mr Malfoy!" Draco jumped the last three steps, just as the staircase began to move.
"Draco!" Amelie called. He spun and held out his arms.
"Jump!" She stared at him in shock for a second before jumping. He caught her easily and then they were running again. McGonagall stared at them in horror as she clung to bannister. They'd gone mad.
They ran full pelt towards the main doors, bare feet slapping on the stone floor. Draco wrenched the door open and Amelie followed as he took the steps two at a time before running across the dusty lawn, skidding to a halt in front of Hermione, who stood looking slightly smug in the middle of the lawn. Amelie caught up, her breath coming in heavy gasps and still clutching the baby pheonix to her chest.
"Hermione! Oh my god, Hermione!" Draco hugged her to him tightly, burying his face in Hermione's frizzy hair. Amelie smiled. "It's really you." He said, stepping back. Hermione nodded, biting her lip. "We were so worried."
"I'm sorry. I was out cold for like two weeks." Hermione said. "I came back as soon as I could."
"You were gone for three weeks." Amelie said, confused. Hermione shrugged.
"Out for two, according to Mira. But I've been awake two days, so I guess it was more like three."
"Oh, I'm so glad to have you back." Amelie said, hugging Hermione tightly. "I missed you."
"I'm back now." Hermione said. "And we're separate and everything!"
"It'll make it easier for me, anyway." Draco commented. Amelie laughed.
"We've all missed you. And there's a lot to tell."
"Well, I'm all ears." Hermione smiled, linking arms with Draco and Amelie. "So first, where'd you get that pheonix?"
There you go. the end of the story. and god knows its taken me forever, so i hope you all like it. i'm working on a couple of new stories, and i'm trying to revamp the one about Hermione being minister of magic so it's a little less crap, so have a look at that for me when i put it up. until then, have a great easter and eat lots of chocolate! Istalindar