Hey everyone. So here it is, the LAST CHAPTER of this story. I can't believe it. I can't believe it's taken me so damn long to write it! This is the first part in a trilogy that I'm hoping to write—and with my new job, I should get a lot more time to write. The next installment will be called "Calm Before The Storm." It will be relatively short in comparison to this—I'm guessing much shorter chapters and probably only 8-10 chapters, if that, maybe even less.! Haha but seriously…please show me some love people so I know I'm not wasting time, writing for myself here! I already know how all this ends (and it's pretty fucking awesome, not gonna lie).
Everyone else…go back and let me know if you liked it!
CHAPTER THIRTY ONE: AND SO IT BEGINS (AS EVERYTHING ELSE ENDS)
Disoriented and filled with adrenaline, Harry staggered towards the blood-soaked bed. Hermione's form—ghostly white under a sea of red—lay motionless before him. Harry dropped to his knees and made quick work of finding the wound in the midst of all the blood—a deep stab wound just under her rib cage. He whirled around and found his wand then brought his attention back to Hermione. He felt as if he was moving in slow motion. Still dizzy, he tried to clear his head enough to recite the correct incantation. With shaking hands, he brought the tip of his wand to the bleeding wound and began to whisper relentlessly, "Vulnera Sanentu, Vulnera Sanentur, Vulnera Sanentur." Before his eyes, the bleeding stopped and the wound began to knit closed. He quickly checked for a pulse, but felt nothing. "No, no. Come on, Hermione!" Harry whispered anxiously. He placed his head on her chest, trying to detect a heartbeat, but still, nothing. His vision blurred as tears crashed down on his cheeks. Working over her body, he resorted to Muggle CPR, compressions against her chest and trying to breathe his own life into her.
Her body still lay limp like a corpse. Frantic, Harry made quick work of grabbing the corners of the sheets of her bed, swathing her like a cocoon and took off out of the room. He ignored the bloody slide and the screeching alarm. Most of the House had gathered around in the Common Room, but Harry pushed his way through them and out of the Portrait Hole. Her dead weight was heavy, but Harry felt an adrenaline like he had never felt before and was able to easily run through the Castle, screaming for help.
Help came in the form of his least favorite professor, but Harry had never been so glad to see him. "Potter! What is this!?" Snape demanded, before noticing Hermione limp and bloody in Harry's arms. His demeanor changed and Harry could see what little color the Head of Slytherin House had drain from his face. Snape rushed forward and Harry pulled the sheets back to reveal the wound.
"Avery attacked her," was all Harry was able to sputter as the stitch in his side made its presence apparent. He almost buckled under her weight. Snape made to grab her body from Harry, but Harry only pulled her closer. "She needs Madam Pomfrey."
"Give her to me, Potter. I will take her. Get yourself cleaned up. Alert Minerva and the Headmaster." Snape instructed, pulling on Hermione again.
While Harry had no desire to leave Hermione's side, he knew Avery would not stay on the grounds and his window of getting the wretched Slytherin was rapidly closing. Harry hated the man before him, but he knew he could trust him to get Hermione the medical attention she desperately needed. After this quick decision, Harry finally thrust her body in his professor's arms. "I will be at the Hospital Wing in a few minutes. I think it's a stab wound from a dagger. I've used Vulnera Sanentur, but so much blood has been lost and she isn't waking up. Please," Harry begged, his bloodshot eyes wide with fear, "Please get her taken care of."
Snape wordlessly turned around and began to sprint towards the Infirmary. Harry had never seen him move so fast.
"Harry!" Shouts behind him caused Harry to whirl around to see Ron and Draco rushing towards him.
Both were wide-eyed and shocked. "What's going on? They said they saw you carrying Hermione's bloody body from the Girls' Dormitories?!"
"Accio Marauder's Map." Harry muttered before launching into a thirty second tale of what happened. Right as he finished telling them how he handed her off to their Potion's Master, a whizzing sound met his ears and the Marauder's Map appeared. "I solemnly swear that I am up to no good." Harry rushed through saying before scanning the map for Avery's dot. There were so few dots out and about that it was easy to spot him on the Fourth Floor, in a secret passage that Harry knew for a fact was blocked.
But there he was, unmoving, and still inside the grounds.
"I'm going after him. I need one of you to go alert McGonagall and Dumbledore. The other one needs to go to the Infirmary and be with Hermione." Harry commanded, folding the map up.
"No, we're going with you." Draco said. "You're a bloody mess, Harry. We can't leave this to chance."
Harry shook his head. "No, someone needs to be with Hermione in case she wakes up—when she wakes up." He corrected himself.
Draco turned to look at Ron, who wore the same defiant expression as Draco. However, as Draco's wordless question dawned on him, his expression changed. "I'm not being left behind!" Ron said stubbornly.
Harry was losing time. Ignoring the two, he turned and sprinted in the direction of Avery. He knew he could move any minute, and the seconds right now were precious time lost. It wasn't long before he heard footsteps running behind him. Draco caught up with him, Ron nowhere in sight. Harry didn't bother how he managed that.
The two made their way to the secret passage, and only when Harry pulled the map out for the password did he see that Avery had moved and was moving at top speed out off the grounds.
"Liquefiat." He quickly said, pressing his wand to the mirror. It shimmered and turned into a liquid substance that the two boys rushed through. It caused a chill like walking through a ghost. They lit the tips of their wands and sprinted forward, but less than a minute and a half into the dark hallway they tripped and tumbled down a long, stone slide. Yelling, the slide eventually leveled out and they were met with a few inches of water.
"What is this?" Harry asked, raising his wand high to light the surroundings.
"A sewer type thing." Draco answered automatically. "Check the map."
Harry did and felt his heart sink. They weren't even halfway to the where the grounds stopped in this stupid tunnel, but Avery was speeding like a bullet and already almost passed the line. Seconds later, he was nowhere to be seen. Harry knew where the outlet of the tunnel was, but he was sure Avery had already Disapparated once he left the grounds. "He's gone."
Draco nodded, as if he had expected as much. "He had to have been on a broom. See how fast he was going?" They both turned around to face the long slide. "How do we get out of here?"
Harry spied a staircase on the side of the slide. The steep, stone steps disappeared in the darkness. They were underground, and the staircase would make them level out to the fourth floor of the castle. Harry didn't want to do the math in his head of how many steps that would be. No wonder the Slytherin used a broom.
"Oh, this is just going to suck, isn't it?" Draco said, his face falling at the overwhelming sight before him.
Harry walked over to the stairs and took one last glimpse at the map, just to make sure Avery was truly gone and saw a speech bubble coming from his own dot, like it did whenever he was at a secret passage and there was a password for it. "Anabathrum." He spoke uncertainly and a section of the stone wall beside him melted away to reveal an elevator that would be found in a mining shaft. He looked at Draco, who shrugged and strode forward. The system looked ancient, but useable. Keeping an eye on the map, he saw another speech bubble. "Erigo," Harry said and the elevator began to rise.
"Well, this is a lot easier, huh?" Draco asked, looking around at the stone wall surrounding them.
Harry nodded, but didn't speak. He hadn't caught Avery. He had left Hermione, who was probably worried sick. How long had he been gone? More importantly, just what in the hell was going on?
Once they reached the hallway on the Fourth Floor, they ran all the way to the mirror.
"Fuck!" Harry suddenly exclaimed as he felt glass pierce his barefoot. Hopping up and down on one foot, he tried to inspect the other. Sure enough tiny shards of bloody glass were sticking out.
Draco bent over where Harry had gotten cut to see what it was, just a few feet from the shimmering mirror. "What's this?" Draco asked quizzically. He reached down and picked up a ripped shirt.
Ignoring the pain in his foot, Harry dropped it immediately and took a closer look at the garment in his friend's hand. Harry took it from his and recognized it to be the shirt Hermione had been wearing. "Hermione was wearing it." It was no longer soaked in blood, the way he remembered, however. Instead, it was as if someone had rinsed it out. He looked down and saw that more shards of glass glittered the floor, covered in blood that Harry knew couldn't be his from stepping them—it was way too much and his foot was barely bleeding.
Draco shrugged and muttered, "Reparo!" and the shards suddenly fused back together. Harry felt the few pieces painfully dislodge themselves from his foot. Draco reached down and picked up the repaired, bloody vial. "What do you figure?" Draco asked quietly, his eyes telling Harry that whatever this was, it couldn't be good.
Harry balled the shirt up in his fist and led the way through the mirror, "Let's go."
Once they reached the Hospital Wing, Harry rushed to Hermione's bed. Surrounding her were Ron, McGonagall, Snape, Dumbledore, and Madam Pomfrey.
"Potter! Did you find him?" McGonagall voice was soft, and she bustled forth to inspect him. Harry had forgotten that he was still in a pair of sweats, barefoot, naked from the waist up, and covered in blood.
Ron must have told them where he and Draco had gone. Harry shook his head. "He made it off the grounds and Disapparated before we could catch up with him." Harry saw that Hermione was still unconscious, and he felt his heart honestly ache with sadness. "Why isn't she awake?" He whispered hoarsely, slowly walked forward to take her hand in his. "She isn't…?" His voice trailed off, unable to even say the words.
"She's alive." Madam Pomfrey assured him. "Your handy spell work stopped the bleeding, but she lost a lot of blood. I've given her a Blood Replenishing Potion. It's helped, but her heartbeat is still very faint. I…I don't know why that is." The old lady admitted, looking worried.
"Can't it just be because she lost so much blood?" Harry urged, squeezing her hand in his. He knew his words were wrong. He knew enough about Healing that that shouldn't matter. Her blood was being replenished. A simple stab wound would not cause this. What sort of magic had he done and why?
Madam Pomfrey pried him away from Hermione for a few minutes to get him into a quick shower to wash off all the blood—his, Hermione's, and Avery's—and tended to the long gash on his arm.
"What's this?" She asked, picking up Hermione's bed shirt Draco had found. Harry shrugged, "Hermione's. We found it in the hallway. Avery had taken it."
Harry felt exhausted but wide awake at the same time. His body begged for sleep, but his mind was going haywire as he tried to connect these very weird dots—it was like trying to do a puzzle in a different language. Nothing made sense.
He sat beside Hermione, his hand in hers, quietly watching her sleep.
Dumbledore cleared his voice behind him. "Harry…I am going to need you to tell me what happened. Now, if you can—while it is all still fresh in your mind. If you sleep on it, you might forget details. Can you do this?" He asked, his eyes no longer twinkling over his half-mooned spectacles.
Harry nodded and cleared his own voice, he suddenly felt hoarse.
"Tell me everything." Dumbledore instructed. "No detail is too small, and…be completely honest." He warned.
Harry felt his face flush. Everyone was no doubt wondering just how Harry had gotten to Hermione so quickly before any alarm had even been raised.
Replaying the series of events in his mind, which instead of growing clearer only became blurred and fuzzy, Harry began his tale in a monotone to the six members of his audience: "Hermione hasn't known what she wanted to do after Hogwarts, so I went up to her dormitory to surprise her with an exercise very much like the one I had to do for you, Professor, in my detention." Harry said, looking at Professor McGonagall. He figured he should stick to the truth the best he could. "We worked late into the night and must have fallen asleep. I woke up in the middle of the night to go to the loo, and when I came back, Avery was kneeing over Hermione's body, a knife in his hand, holding it at the inside of her elbow. And he had pulled her shirt up like…I think he was going to…to rape her." Harry confessed, not meeting anyone's eyes.
"I ran and tackled him. He must have tried to strike quick and stabbed her." Harry guessed, as he saw this all happening in his mind. "Hermione started screaming and I pulled him off her and down to the ground. We kept fighting, exchanging blows. Hermione just kept screaming, but then she just suddenly stopped. He was able to get his stupid knife and cut me," Harry said, pointing to his shoulder that had a thin, red line from his should to the inside of his elbow, already fading fast. "The pain caused me to go dizzy and he had…" Harry tried to concentrate on the memory to figure out what he had had in his hand. "A bowl maybe? Or a cup…something. He held it against my arm, maybe to capture the blood so it wouldn't get anywhere but…that doesn't make sense. I don't know." He gave the professor an apologetic look of despair.
Professor Dumbledore shook his head and gestured for him to continue.
"Then…I fell down again—he kicked me in the chest. He ran and took Hermione's shirt, but I don't know why because he just left it," Harry picked up the garment from the bedside table. "I don't know why he would waste the time. But he yelled that I needed to check on Hermione, I think it was so I wouldn't follow him, and I did because she looked…so bad. I tried to heal her the best I could. There was blood everywhere. Then I tried to bring her here and I found Snape, and…" Harry trailed off.
"Then we went after Avery." Draco put in, seeing that Harry was close to tears. "He used a secret passage on the Fourth Floor. Before we could catch up with him, he left the school grounds and Disapparated."
"How do know? And how did you know where he was?" Professor McGonagall asked.
The map. Harry's heart sank. His best kept secret for seven years. "I have a map of Hogwarts—or had one, anyway. I lost in when we fell down the slide." Harry lied easily. "It shows where everyone on school grounds is at all times. I found Avery as soon as I handed off Hermione, he was just sitting there in the passage. By the time we got there, he had moved, and we followed until he disappeared from the map. He had a broom. We assumed that once he crossed the line, he'd Disapparate."
"Where did you get this map?" Snape and McGonagall both asked at once, but Dumbledore held a hand up to silence them. Harry had the feeling this wasn't the first time he had heard of it, and he knew Harry was lying about losing it.
"When we came back, we found the shirt because Harry stepped on…" Draco stopped suddenly and fished into his pocket to produce the bloody vial they had come across. "Wait, maybe Avery used this to get your blood?"
Harry furrowed his brows. "That makes sense, but…it doesn't make sense. I mean, why would he want my blood?" Harry looked around and saw that everyone's eyes were on him.
Snape came forward and plucked the shirt from his fingers. "Miss Granger was wearing this…her sheets were soaked in blood, but her shirt…?"
"It was, but when we found it, it wasn't anymore—it just had that red tint." Harry replied hopelessly.
Snape stepped closer to Hermione and bent over her body. He gently pried her mouth open and leaned closer, as if to smell her breath. He pressed the tip of his wand to her forehead and closed his eyes. Within seconds, his eyes snapped opened wide. "She has been sedated, heavily."
Madam Pomfrey strode forward. "I would have caught that, professor. I gave her a general antidote and that would have counteracted a sedation potion."
Snape shook his head. "No, Madam, not this one. It isn't widely known. The Draught of the Living Dead. It slows all your organs down, and you are barely kept alive. That's why her heartbeat is so faint. There is no antidote, you have to wait for it to run its course. It is a chemical reaction. It doesn't take effect until it touches blood—the last ingredient. It then takes two minutes to take effect—this allows time for it to pump through the body in the bloodstream. After two minutes, the heart pumps blood so slowly…that is why it stays in the system for so long. Start out with a Flushing Potion—that may help speed up the process. Water it down and inject it into her veins at as many points as possible." Snape instructed.
"How long does it take to run its course?" Harry asked, looking up at the man—impressed despite his hatred.
However, it was Dumbledore that answered him. "This potion may have saved her life. It slowed the blood in her veins. Otherwise, she may have bled out. She was given a Blood Replenishing Potion, and with a lot of the blood tainted by the potion already spilled…it shouldn't be too long—tomorrow, morning, perhaps?"
"You read her mind." Harry accused. "Then flinched about what you saw." He whispered. What torture was she going through?
Snape didn't reply again, and instead, looked at Madam Pomfrey, repeated his instructions, "Water it down, inject it at as many point as possible," then he swept from the room. Everyone stared after him silently.
Dumbledore spoke first. "It is four a.m. boys, you should return to your dormitories and get some rest. Miss Granger is in safe hands, and she will not awake until tomorrow at the earliest anyhow. There is nothing we can do now." He dismissed them.
Harry had no intention of going anywhere. He tightened his grip on Hermione's hand. "I'll stay with her. You two get some rest." Harry spoke numbly.
Professor McGonagall tilted her head slightly, "Potter, there is nothing you can do. Go back to your dormitory." Her voice was soft and caring, but Harry didn't even look her way.
"I could use a little help, if the headmaster will allow it…? My student aid won't be here until tomorrow at the earliest." Madam Pomfrey interjected quietly.
Dumbledore and McGonagall exchanged a look, and the Transfiguration professor shook her head with a small smile on her face. "Weasley, Malfoy—back to your dormitories. And if you could please keep the details of this situation to yourselves, for the moment?" She said sternly.
Dumbledore came up behind Harry and squeezed his shoulder, "She will be fine," he promised, before turning and leaving the room with everyone else. Harry had so many questions about Snape's behavior and why he felt like the Potions Master knew more than he was letting on, but he let it go. Hermione needed him.
Harry slept minimally through the early morning and woke a little after noon. He woke with a start, his head bent over and taking up a small spot on Hermione's pillow. As the memory of the night and morning assaulted his mind, his hand quickly found Hermione's and squeezed gently. "Hermione?" He breathed, pushing her hair back from her face.
No response. Harry noticed that some color had returned to this girlfriend's face, no longer the ashen gray it had been hours before. He pressed his hand flush to her chest, and felt a weak heartbeat.
"Hermione?" He repeated, shaking her lightly, but still, nothing.
"She needs rest, Potter. Miss Granger will be fine." A voice from behind spoke, and Harry turned to see Madam Pomfrey with a fresh IV. He watched as she started the process of flushing Hermione's blood once again, numb.
"Go get some lunch, Potter. She will be fine." The Healer told him absently.
Harry violently shook his head. "No, I want to be here when she wakes up!" He argued.
"She won't awake for hours, at minimum. Now I am kicking you out. Shoo!" The older lady demanded, pushing him towards the door.
With no other choice but to leave, Harry cast one last look at Hermione's motionless figure before allowing himself to be dismissed.
He wandered down to the Great Hall, looking for Dumbledore. He ran into the old man as he was exiting the Great Hall. "Professor, did you find him?!" Harry came rushing towards the old man, his eyes begging.
The Headmaster looked troubled, and solemnly shook his head. "He did not return to his house. His father insisted that he had not seen him since Easter holidays. He has not returned to the school, either. Do not worry, Harry, we will find him. I have alerted friends at the Ministry about the situation." Dumbledore confessed. Harry knew how much the man hated the Ministry interfering with the school, so he knew Dumbledore was honestly exhausting all of his resources.
Harry nodded. "If you hear anything, Professor…?" Harry trailed off.
The man nodded. "I will keep you informed. Now, please, go eat and get some sleep. You look ghastly, Harry. Hermione will be just fine. Severus is doing all he can to try to find anything that will speed up her recovery."
Harry's throat tightened and he nodded again. He was really beginning to hate the word 'fine.'
All eyes were on his as he sat alone at the Gryffindor table. Harry tried to eat, but everything tasted like cardboard. He hated sitting here, doing nothing, when Avery was out on the loose. When Hermione was unconscious in the Hospital Wing. When Snape was looking for something to help, and he was sitting on his ass, eating lunch.
Finally, unable to take not doing anything, Harry abruptly got up and left the Great Hall.
His feet led him to the Dungeon, but not Snape's office. A few First Years were moseying around in one of the corridors, leading from the Slytherin's Common Room.
"Hodges. What's the Common Room password?" Harry demanded from the little girl, who looked terrified of the Gryffindor towering over her.
"W-what?" She stuttered. "I don't think we're allowed to give that out."
"I'm Head Boy. I'm allowed to know. Now give me the password." Harry repeated.
The girl looked at her friend, who shrugged her tiny shoulders unhelpfully.
"The password is 'untainted." She said, eyes wide.
"Thanks." Harry replied and continued down to the end of the corridor to a section of stone wall between two torches. "Untainted." The wall creaked and opened to gain him entrance into the Slytherin Common Room.
The Slytherin Common Room contrasted from the Gryffindor Common Room greatly. It extended partially under the lake, so the windows let in a greenish tinge. Green lamps hung on the walls, and green flames crackled in the black fireplace. Hard, low-back chairs and extravagant black and emerald leather couches littered the room. Emerald and silver tapestries decorated the stone walls. Harry very much preferred his own welcoming and cozy Common Room.
He searched for the group in mind, finding them monopolizing the area surrounding the fire. Avery's gang of Slytherins, their leader noticeably absent. His expression hardening, Harry strode over to the group.
"Potter, aren't you a little far from home?" Pansy taunted, an ugly expression on her pug-like face. "Isn't your girlfriend in the Hospital Wing or something?"
Harry felt his hands clenched into fists. "Where is he?"
Other members of the little group turned their smirks in his direction, interest spiked by this lone Gryffindor.
Two of his bigger thugs, Crabbe and Goyle, stood menacingly and tried to stand threateningly over Harry. Harry ignored them. "Your piece of shit of a mate crossed a very big line. And I think you know exactly where he is. And you're going to tell me." Harry spouted off to the two goons, pulling out his wand.
They laughed. "And even if we did, why would we tell you?" Goyle croaked, crossing his arms across his chest.
Harry kept his exterior cool. He knew he could hex both of these thugs before they even knew what was happening, no contest. He tapped Goyle's massive chest with the tip of his wand and took a step forward, just as menacingly. "Because you don't want me to kick your ass, Goyle. You know I have more talent in my pinky toe than you do in your entire body. I just want answers because your boy has to own up to what he did."
Out of the corner of his eye, Harry saw Crabbe make a move but before either of them could do anything, Harry had them both in a Body Binding Curse and threw them against the stone wall with a flick of his wand. He turned back to the group. "Now does someone have answers for me?" He asked, anger blazing.
Harry could see the apprehension in their eyes. Harry looked at Pansy in the eye and spoke slowly, hatefully, "I know how you must feel, you bloke going after some other girl—a beautiful 'mudblood' at that. Obviously you aren't enough for him. So why are you protecting the bastard?" He spit his words at the bitch he hated.
He could tell his words bothered her, and that she had wondered the exact same thing.
Shaking from head to toe, she came after him, screaming shrilly. Harry easily pushed her away from him, not caring if she got hurt or not. That would do Avery good. What if he hurt Pansy? As she sat crumbled at his feet with his wand aimed between her eyes, Harry voiced his thoughts aloud, "I can't help but wonder…if he would even care." Harry knew his words hurt her as her eyes closed and tears began to leak down her cheeks.
Harry felt a strong urge to destroy this girl before him. He wanted to mutate her, hurt her. He wanted revenge on his own girlfriend, and honestly, he didn't care if Avery cared about this girl or not. The bastard attacked his girlfriend—tried to rape his girlfriend. With the tables turned, Harry wanted nothing more than to hex this girl until he couldn't think of another curse to throw at her.
"Come on, Potter. Take a walk with me," a voice said from behind, putting a halt to Harry's terrible thoughts.
Harry looked over to see Blaise Zabini staring at him meaningfully. Torn, Harry finally eased up on his wand. Feeling only slightly guilty, Harry squatted down so he was eye level with the heartbroken girl before him. "The next time I see the son of a bitch, he's dead. Tell him that." Harry said menacingly. "Tell him I hope I find him first."
Harry straightened up and followed the girl from the Common Room, all eyes on them.
They were silent until they crossed into another deserted corridor, lit only with the eerie green light from the lake coming in the windows much like the Slytherin Common Room and a few small torches with green flames.
Only slightly familiar with this part of the Castle, Harry just continued to walk in silence with the girl he knew nothing about.
"I'm sorry to hear about your girlfriend. Madam Pomfrey asked me to come in and help right away. Had me doing some research. I've become an aid for her this year, going to study Healing next year." She said, answering his questioning look. "Is she okay?" She finally asked.
Harry looked over at he in the darkened corridor. "She'll be fine. What do you know?" He asked bluntly, still lost as to why she wanted him to walk with her.
"You can stop the intimidating crap, Potter. I don't have to say anything and honestly, I shouldn't. Let's get one thing straight—you are at my mercy right now." She spoke matter-of-factly.
Within seconds, Harry had the smaller girl pinned to the wall and his wand at her throat. "You might want to consider into your calculations that right now, I've got the upper hand and no patience for your game."
The girl would not be intimidated, and easily brought her leg up to knee Harry between his legs. He pulled back away from her and bent over, his hands immediately cradling his pained groin area.
She pulled her wand out and rested its tip on the bridge of Harry nose. "Perhaps you should consider into your calculations that you're trying to intimidate fucking Blaise Zabini, Potter. My mother is a black belt."
Harry straightened up and the Slytherin Perfect lowered her wand. She smirked and Harry found himself smirking back. "Okay," he backed off. "I underestimated you, Slytherin-kung-fu-fighting-healing-extraordinaire. But please, stop wasting my time while Hermione is alone in the Hospital Wing. What is it you want?" Harry asked quietly.
"Tell me what happened." She said simply.
Harry raised an eyebrow. "You're wasting my time for gossip?"
She smiled at him. "Now that would be interesting, wouldn't it? No. Just…trust me."
Harry gave a laugh or derision. "Trust a Slytherin? A Slytherin that just kneed me in my misters?"
"Keep your hands to yourself, and we'll be fine." She shot back.
Harry ran a hand through his hair and gave a quick run though of what had happened in under a minute. "Happy? How what can you tell me?"
"I've been in the same house as that bastard for seven years now." She said as they walked down the dark corridor. "Avery is a slime ball. He's a pervert. He's really just the worst kind of bloke, you know? He's a bully. He's arrogant. He's a lot of things.
"But he's not a rapist, Potter." She said, looking over at Harry. "Like I said he's a lot of things, but…not that. Trust me."
"How do you know?" Harry asked incredulously. "How can you be so sure?"
"He's saved…someone…before from…someone. Probably the only good deed he's ever done. He's a pervert, I'll give you that. He'd sneak a peek, but he wouldn't rape someone." Her voice was unsure and soft.
Harry let her words sink in. "Okay, so why was he in Hermione's room then? Taking her clothes off?" Harry asked heatedly.
She stopped and turned to look at him. He could barely make out her features in the eerie green light. "Because, like I said, he's the worst kind of bloke, Harry. He's power hungry. He's smart as fuck. He's persuasive. He goes after the vulnerable. He's a nightmare, Potter. And…there's more.
"Adelia…my younger sister…she said she saw him sneaking around. She's fancied him—said there was good in him—for a long while now. She follows his every move. I told her to stay out of it. But she told me…she says lately he's been leaving the grounds, especially on weekends, and just disappears and doesn't return until Sunday night. I don't know what's going on but…judging from his past…I think rape last night would have been the least of your worries with the storm that's might really be brewing." She said, and Harry could tell it was difficult for her to talk about this.
Harry was silent for a few moments. He thought about what the Slytherin had told him as he tried to revisit his memory from the night before. In his mind, the bastard had been trying to undress Hermione. But he had taken blood from both of them. He had given her a heavy sedative. He thought about Snape expression after looking into her mind. He had bewitched her dreams…just like he must have bewitched them from months ago. He had tried to lure her to the Dark Arts. He controlled her dreams to assist him. Then he had attacked her. But he took her blood. He took his own blood as well. But why? What was the ultimate end to all of this?
As if processing all of this with him, Blaise looked at him, and Harry saw his own budding fear mirror in her eyes here in the dark corridor, and she didn't even know the half of it.
"He's into something, something big. He's changed. He's sickly. He's nervous. Vulnerable. He's scared. I told you…my sister notices everything about him, and she came to me with this a few days ago…"
Harry's eyes narrowed. "Then why didn't you go to Dumbledore?"
Her fear turned into indignity. "How was I supposed to know what was going on? I couldn't have predicted this any more than you could have. Just be glad that she's alive because I think…I think he could have killed her if he wanted to. Maybe. I don't know how far gone he is. I know when Luna had that bout of depression all those years after her mother's death, and Avery took her under his wing during her early days at Hogwarts…I don't know. He wasn't that far gone then. But now…even I've taken notice after my sister said something. And don't bother beggaring the rest of the House—no one knows what he's up to, not even his friends. He's playing this close to the chest. He looks…desperate. And what can the great Jonathan Avery be so desperate about?"
Her question lingered in the air for a few minutes. As Harry's mind continued to process all this new information, he came to one conclusion for sure. "Go to Dumbledore. Take your sister with you. Tell him anything and everything you can think of. You'll do this, yes?" Harry asked, his eyes begging.
He could tell the girl was uncomfortable, but she nodded. "Yes, of course. And for what it's worth…I'm sorry this happened to her."
Harry nodded. "Thank you. I'll…I'll talk to you soon, okay? But please, get to Dumbledore as soon as you can." With that, Harry turned on his heel and rushed from the Dungeons. Hermione wouldn't be awake yet, but he still felt like he had been gone too long. He hadn't protected her from Avery, and he wasn't going to make that mistake again.
Hermione was still laying on her bed, but instead of Madam Pomfrey fussing over her, it was Snape. Harry stood in the doorway as the Potions Master chanted almost silently an incantation over her body, his wand dragging slowly along her skin.
Harry slowly walked in, careful not to disrupt the man's concentration. He hated this man, he knew. For him to take so much to Hermione Granger was completely surprising. But he did and the odd relationship between the two was just as mind boggling as it was there. He genuinely cared for this young witch, and would stop at nothing to help her.
After a few more minutes, Snape finally straightened up, no longer hunched over her body.
"Is she any better?" Harry whispered, fearing the reply.
Snape's hand found her heartbeat. "Her heart beats a little stronger." He replied softly.
Before Harry could stop himself, unsure why he was telling the man this, but he found Blaise's story spilling monotonously from his lips. He knew the Potions Master was keeping his own secrets, but perhaps if he had all the information, he could piece together something to help Hermione or have an inkling what all this meant. If Harry was lucky, the man would share his findings with him.
Snape gave no response and Harry wasn't even sure if the man had listening, but nevertheless, Harry pressed on. He told him about the dreams Hermione had had. He told him his suspicion that Avery had been behind it all. He told he and Blaise thought Avery was answering to someone else—someone that turn the confident, arrogant bully into a desperate, fearful boy.
When Harry was finished, Snape stood and left without so much as a goodbye.
Alone now, Harry wrapped Hermione's hand in two of his own and he closed his eyes, praying he wouldn't cry.
Sunday morning came and gone. There were wild, inaccurate stories about what had happened Friday night-Saturday morning. Stories of rape. Stories of duels. Fights. Tales of Harry being strung up like a piñata in the Slytherin Common Room. Accounts that Harry took on everyone in the Slytherin Common Room and won.
Nothing was true. Nothing was entirely false—except for the piñata part. Hermione's heartbeat was normal by late Sunday morning. Madam Pomfrey said it was only a matter of time before she would wake up—and we must let her do that. Let her wake up on her own.
So Harry sat and waited, his patience running thin. Ron, Draco, Ginny, and Neville brought him food and waited with him. Luna visited when they all left, ashen-faced and tears in her eyes. Even Blaise made her way over to Hermione's bed. She told him she had talked Dumbledore, and Harry had mutely nodded his thanks.
Alone Sunday evening, the screaming started.
Harry had been studying aloud for his N.E.W.T.S., sharing his notes with Hermione in case she could hear him, when suddenly, she sat straight up and was yelling as if she were on fire. Sweat was quickly pouring from her forehead and neck. Harry dropped his notes and his first instinct was to restrain her. Her arms were flailing in all directions, ripping the IV from her arm. Harry jumped on the bed so he was sitting on her legs and wrapped his arms around her, pinning her arms to her sides.
"Hermione! Hermione! Calm down, Hermione. It's me. I'm here." He tried to tell her, but still she thrashed about, yelling for him to get off of her.
The racket caused Madam Pomfrey to come running, and after quickly taking in the scene, she conjured a set of bed constraints that snaked their way around Hermione's wild body movements and forced her to still. The screaming, however, continued.
"Hermione, please, please, everything is okay. Hermione, can you hear me?!" Harry tried to sooth her from the side of the bed. Desperate, he tried to cover her mouth with his hand so she could hear him, but she only bit down on his finger, hard, drawing blood. "Fuck!"
Hermione's movements were stilled and voices talked above her, but she heard none of it. She fought the constraints, but quickly felt herself tirign. Her body ached. Her mind ached. But she had to get out. She had to get away from what she saw.
Someone tried to smother her, but she instinctively bit them. Then her screaming resumed.
"Can't you sedate her?!"
"I'm not going to take the chance. Her heart may not be able to take it. Let her tire herself out."
Hermione could barely hear the voices above her own, but as if it was a command, she felt the toll her tantrum was taking on her body. Her throat hurt and felt like it was ready to rip. Her body felt beat up and bruised from fighting a losing battle against the straps.
Once the thrashing was stilled, and her voice gave out, Hermione's wild gaze took in her surroundings. Two people were standing over her. Two people she knew. One she knew was dead, one she didn't know much about at all.
"How...how are you…?" She began screaming again.
Despite the second wind she had gotten, Harry wrapped his arms around her the best he could and tried to sooth her. But he was dead. She had killed him. The whole world had change.
She would not give in to this fantasy. Harry did not have her arms around her. This was a dream. Hermione tried to pull away from him, but he would have none of it. Finally, she allowed herself to cry into his chest. "I'm so sorry." She said through soggy tears. She tried to wrap her arms around him, but the constraints wouldn't allow it. Harry suddenly undid them and Hermione allowed herself to enjoy this trick, this dream. She pulled Harry onto the bed with her and wrapped her body around his the best she could and let him hold her as she sobbed noisily into his chest.
Feeling sudden fatigue, Hermione felt her eyes droop and she abruptly fell asleep, still clinging on to Harry as if her life depended on it.
Harry, shocked by this sudden behavior and the assault from Hermione, had done the only thing he could think of. She tried to get to him so he had undone her constraints and let her wrap herself around him like an anaconda. She could not get close enough to him, but all he knew was if this is what she needed, he would more than willing give her his body. She pulled him to her, onto her bed. Her grip was amazingly strong, but Harry just held her tightly. Her body shook as sobs wracked through her body. He pressed a kiss to her temple and rubbed her back in soothing circles. She had instantly fallen asleep.
Madam Pomfrey had watched all this with wide eyes. Harry looked over at her, and saw his own confusion staring back at him. She shrugged. "I…I have no idea what to do." She confessed.
"Do nothing then." Harry said. "If this is what she needs…then do nothing."
And for an hour, Harry cradled Hermione's slumbering body against his own, just listening to her breath and fighting the urge to sleep, which he ultimately lost.
Hermione slowly found her way back from the sluggish feeling weighing her down. Her mind completely empty, Hermione opened her eyes. She felt as if she had taken a dreamless sleep potion. Harry's strong arms here wrapped possessively around her, just as hers were around him. This felt wrong, somehow. She shouldn't be able to do this. She looked around the dark room and saw that she was in the Hospital Wing. This also felt wrong. Her light jostling had awoken Harry, who had fallen into a semi-conscious sleep.
"Hermione?" He breathed into her neck, sending chills down her spine—both good and bad. Good, because well…it was always good. Bad because…wasn't he…? Grief crept into her stomach as she tried to sort this out. She felt in limbo. Was she dreaming?
"Hermione?" He whispered again, just as lightly.
Hermione figured she should probably answer, "Yes?"
Suddenly, she felt his lips gently pressed down on hers. "You're really back." He mumbled against her lips. His hand found the back of her head and pulled her closer for a lip-bruising kiss. Hermione answered back with just as much vigor as she held back a moan and wrapped her leg around his hip to get closer. Definitely a dream, and one she didn't want to end, she thought as she deepened the kiss.
Harry pulled back but Hermione began to attack his neck with nips and kisses and her tongue.
"Oh Godric-Rowena-Helga-and-Salazar!" Harry groaned loudly before pulling her mouth to his again. They needed to stop. This was insane. One minute, she wakes up yelling like a banshee, and the next, she's on him like a virgin on a veela!
Harry disentangled his tongue and limbs from hers and got unsteadily to his feet.
"What are you doing!?" Hermione asked, looking confused.
"I'd like to ask you the same question!" Harry whispered back. "Not that I mind, I just…I don't know what's going on."
Hermione raised an eyebrow. What sort of dream was this? She voiced her concerns, which caused Harry to look at her funny.
"Dream? What? No, Hermione, this is real. What are you on about? Don't you remember anything?" He asked urgently.
His words caused Hermione to stop in her tracks. This wasn't a dream? What? But he was…she couldn't even think it.
While his words confused her, they also felt true. Like everything else had been a dream. But how could that be? It felt like a lifetime had passed.
Hermione brought her knees up to her chin and wrapped her arms around her shins. Tears threatened to spill over. She felt so drained and bemused.
"I'm so lost." She confessed, looking up at him with shining eyes.
Harry bent down and kissed her gently on her forehead. "Then let me help you." He sat beside her on the bed and wrapped an arm around her. "You were attacked by Avery while you were sleeping. We fell asleep in your room when you were working on finding a career, remember?" Harry asked.
His words jogged her memory. Yes, she did remember. "But that was so long ago…" She trailed off.
"Today is Sunday. That was Friday night. Two days ago. I went to the loo, and Avery attacked you. I thought…I thought he was trying to rape you. He stabbed you," Harry pulled her shirt up to reveal nothing but smooth skin, "here. You bled out a lot. Avery and I fought on the floor of your dormitory, but he ended up getting away. I did what I could, but there was blood everywhere. You were unconscious. I was on my way here when Snape found us and I gave you to him and he brought you here. I went after Avery, but he'd left the grounds. He gave you a heavy sedative, and you've been out ever since you fell unconscious in your dormitory. Then you woke up an hour and a half ago, going mad. You were screaming and flailing wildly. Madam Pomfrey didn't want to risk putting you under another sedative, so she strapped you to the bed. Then you tried to cling to me like your life depended on it, so I undid the straps and…well, I let you. You were crying and kept apologizing and finally, you fell back asleep. Then you woke up again…and…and…well, tried to jump my bones, I guess." Harry said with a grin.
Hermione's cheeks flushed.
"Why were you apologizing?" Harry asked. "You've done nothing to be sorry."
"Because…" Hermione whispered softly, "I killed you."
Harry wrapped her tighter in his arms. "No, you didn't. I'm right here."
Hermione still felt lost, though she was piecing together what was reality, and what was fabrication.
"What…what were you dreaming?" Harry asked slowly, as if fearful for the answer.
Hermione was realizing that the lifetime that had passed had all been in her head. The terror was a dream. "Horrible things. Worse than how it used to be. Voldemort was terrible. I was terrible. We did…there was so much Hell." Hermione whispered as parts of her dreams flashed before her eyes.
"Mother, Father…you just don't get it. You…are no longer needed." Hermione laughed before lighting a match and throwing it do the ground. It caught the gasoline and she watched as her parents burned and she was safe, in her little bubble.
"I…I think I know that now. But it felt so…real." Hermione said, clearly disturbed by the images in her head.
She strode across the battlefield, bodies burning and the remnants of battle surrounding her. Draco. Ron. Ginny. Luna. Neville. All their bodies were accounted for. All their bodies broken and burned. She looked over at Avery, who walked a few steps behind her. She winked and he laughed. Hermione flicked her wand and listened to his scream of pain. His expression changed to one of stone. Hermione laughed. Such a weakling.
Harry pulled her close. "I know. But their all lies. And you're good. I know you are, otherwise, would I be able to hold you like this?" He asked, his hand cradling her face lovingly. "Merlin, Hermione, you've had me scared to death!" He said before kissing her urgently.
Hermione kissed him back, though her mind was on other things. Harry pulled away. "I'm going to go get Madam Pomfrey. She needs to look you over." He said, and stood to go to her office.
Hermione leaned back and laid her head on her pillow, her hands coming up to cradle the back of her head. Her brain still hurt.
Hermione smirked wickedly at Harry Potter, on his knees before her his hands bound behind his back. His naked back scarred and bloodied. His face and torso dirty. His screams echoed in the chamber as she tortured him again. Walking forward, she spit in his face and laughed a high, cold laugh. "Finish him," a voice sneered from behind her, and she raised her wand, uttered the words and watched as a green light hit him squarely in his bare chest.
Memories still mixed with lies. Images still flashed in her mind's eye. Her dreams have confused her. It had only been two days. Her dreams were lies. She had been bewitched, bewitched by that snake Slytherin, she knew.
Despite knowing reality from the fabrications, despite the fog lifting and her seeing things clearly, Hermione felt a chill on her spine and a nasty nagging in the back of her brain, as if everything hadn't been lies. Perhaps, some—not even some, just something—had been true.
A hooded figure stood over a simmering cauldron in a graveyard. A man wept in the background, and a trail of blood dripped down the side of the massive cauldron. Still, the hooded figure worked mechanically, reading and rereading the instructions. Two vials—the final ingredients—sat the on the small table. With trembling hands, he picked up one vial, uncorked it, and poured it into the cauldron.
"With Salazar's blood, you will reunite a broken line." He whispered as the cauldron's bubbled emerald.
And finally, he opened the last vial, hovered it over the bubbling concoction.
"Blood of the enemy, forcibly taken, you will resurrect your foe."
Finally, he tipped its contents in the green potion, turning it a deep blood red before a blinding bright white, the potion bubbling over and some mixing with the blood already running down the side. The hooded figure used his robes to shield his eyes from the bright light, then finally, peeked at his work.
Softly, he chanted, "The Dark Lord shall rise again."
To Be Continued With…
Calm Before The Storm
So what did everyone think!? Remember, this is your last chance to review for this story, so whether you've reviewed every chapter or never done it before, please let me know what you think. I've spent 8 years on this—I can't believe it's done! I will have the new story out SUPER SOON—less than two weeks, I promise. I'm excited to start the next one. It will be much easier and more laid back—for the moment anyhow!
Thank you all for reading, and for sticking with me. You have been awesome. I know some of you have actually been reading since the beginning—I can't even believe that, that's amazing. I would have given up on me!
Once again, thanks everyone. I really appreciate you all so much.
See you in the next one!