A/N: Guess who is back?! If you said Rita then you get a cookie! I am back! After my pangs of self pity, my mother gave me a stern talking to. I saw her point. Writers don't write for themselves. They write for the readers. If you just write for yourself, then you are not a writer. From this point on, I am writing for you guys. Thank you all who reviewed my response to the flame, and I hope you are still with me on this boat.
PS: it may take a while in between chapters since I am a little rusty. But, expect an update on I Hate My Life and Casting Shadows as well. BTW, I think Casting Shadows, Desperation and I Hate My Life will be my masterpieces. I have written chapters in advance worth of dialogue, and from the script format, you will be surprised at all of their endings.
Chapter 17: What Dreams May Come
Light shined through her closed eyes, and for a moment, she had even forgotten where she was or how she got there. Everything seemed so familiar right to her. The smells of the place, it was as if she was ---
"Hermione…" It had been so long since she had heard that name, been called by that name. It almost seemed foreign to her, but at the same time, so familiar. She was confused. Why? How? Was she home?
Her eyes fluttered open. Slowly, she let the light adjust in her eyes. It was so bright, brighter than any place she had ever been to. Where was she? Why did it feel like she was home?
"Where am I?"
Suddenly, she caught sight of something, or rather someone. She thought she would never see him again…
The cold air stung his very being. It was as if it was draining him slowly and slowly. He was frozen. His mind was screaming to him.
It was barely a whisper and less of a gasp. It seemed like a ghostly utterance. Her name had escaped from his dry lips before he even knew it. There was Nadya, his Nadya, lying on the cold floor. He felt almost as scared as he did when he saw her in the snow. No. This was worse. It held every bit of his own strength, his own sense of self-constraint, not to scream his lungs off.
'Go to her!'
There were so many voices swimming around in his consciousness, all his voices. All saying one thing.
' Do something! ANYTHING!'
But his body wouldn't move. It had been driven to a state of numbness, nothingness. Tom couldn't move a muscle. All he could do was stand there at the threshold of a dark and foreboding room, just looking at her. She was lying on the cold stone floors. No breath was escaping her. No sense of life was in her limbs. She was just limp there, lying, still and silent. He couldn't wrap it around his brain. Disbelief was still overpowering him at this moment. It looked as if she was---
His mind interrupted him before he could finish that thought. She was not dead! She couldn't be dead! He would reassure himself of that once he picked up the strength to defy himself and move.
'DAMN IT! MOVE!'
He didn't know what had him so frozen. It was no spell nor curse. There were no clandestine restraints holding him back. It was all in his mind.
'So this is what fear is like'
"Home?" She asked. No. She couldn't be home. She just couldn't! How? Why? So many questions kept rambling on in her mind. She didn't understand any of it. Nothing. "I can't be home."
He stepped from the light, and instantly, she knew who he was. Perhaps she knew even before she opened her eyes. His voice. She would never forget his voice. But this couldn't be. Harry was dead. She had seen him die. A knife was thrust through his heart and he died. How could be standing right in front of her right then and there without so much as a scratch or wound. Was she---
"Dead? No Hermione. You are as alive as I am."
"How?" She couldn't stop asking that same thing. How was this all possible? How was he alive? How was she back home? Hermione couldn't help but question everything that was around her. Everything told her this was not possible, but yet there she was. There he was.
Hermione stretched out her hand, hesitantly, gradually. Her fingers were trembling with a mix of fear and excitement. She took a step closer. Her hand grazed on his cheek. It was warm.
"And so are you."
She had no knowledge of it, but tears were coming out of her eyes. Streaming down her face. She didn't notice them as they fell. All she felt was her hand on his cheek. His hand grazing hers, as if wiping something away. Her eyes unconsciously closed. He had such warm hands. She could feel his callous fingers just wiping away the unknown substance. It had been so long since she felt that.
"I am home."
Everything inside him was panicking. He didn't know what to do. He was still frozen to the spot, ridden by fear. He shouldn't have left her alone. He shouldn't have let her go out on her own. He was her responsibility. He should have taken care of her. He should have known better than to leave her alone!
He needed to go to her, or else something else would freeze him. It would freeze not only his body, but his mind as well. He refused to let his fear turn to grief. Finally, the panic melted away the ice of fear. His emotions had heated him up, blazed a fire within him.
Tom took small, calculated strides towards her. With every step, he saw her with more clarity. Just like the day in the snow, she seemed fast asleep, peaceful, happy. But he could also see that she was pale, very pale. He reached for her outstretched hand and held it. Cold, but not to the extent of death. There was still time.
He gently picked her small frame. She was incredibly light, or maybe it just seemed that way to him. His determination and panic fueled him with the energy to take her to the only one who he knew could help.
"I missed you." He said, whispering in her ear. It had been so long since she had seen him. It felt like forever had passed by in just one blink of an eye. His forehead rested on hers and she was looking deeply and innately to his emerald green eyes. But doubts were still in her mind. Before he could finally kiss her, she took a step back. She needed to understand.
"I still don't understand any of this. How can this be?" She asked him. Hermione was still in a daze. She was standing right in front of him. He was not dead and lifeless, but alive, vibrant as ever. She couldn't help but smile despite her confusion on the whole situation. Did it even matter how she got there? Wasn't the fact that he was right there, in front of her, all that mattered? Hermione couldn't help but feel as if she was mad for thinking that there should be more. This was all she had ever wanted. To have him back. To have him with her. She cursed the doubts that plagued her heart. It shouldn't be this complicated.
"Why don't we go see the others?" He gave her a bright smile.
"Mates. She is back home!" He called out to the light from whence he came. Slowly enough, she saw them emerging. First Ron came out, throwing himself at her and giving her a hug, the hugs that he used to give her. She looked hard at him. Nothing had changed within him as well. He was still the same old Ron she used to have rows with. Only now, he seemed calmer, more at peace with everything. Happier.
"I knew you'd come home."
Another person came out of the light, no two. Draco and Ginny. She couldn't believe this. They looked so happy. Their hands were intertwined, happy and carefree. Ginny was blooming with all her fiery being as Draco's calm and cool exterior balanced her in every way. He let go of her for a second and she, much like her brother, ran towards her in utter jubilation. Draco came slowly behind, flashing his famous smirk at her.
"Took you long enough Granger. Weaslette has been absolutely ghastly annoying without you." There has a hidden humor and happiness in the way he said that, as if he too had been waiting for her. Before she knew it, she gave him a huge hug as well. She had missed him too. He didn't need to say it for her to know. Draco laughed at her sudden action, but hugged back with the intensity that her other two friends had.
"She's home?" a voice came from the light. How could she forget him?
"Come on Neville!" Ron shouted from beside Hermione. Instantly, Neville stepped out of the light, a smile gracing his normally shy ridden face. He looked so happy to see her. He did not run as the others had, probably scared of tripping on his laces, but you could see the excitement in his face easily matched up to the others. Hermione hugged him as well. He was slightly blushing, but then again he wouldn't be Neville if he didn't.
"We're all here Hermione." Said Harry, the smile still gracing his face.
"We've been waiting for you. Now come on, mum preparing lunch by the garden. You know how she hates it when we're late." Laughed Ron.
Hermione's tears faded. All the laughter and happiness around her was contagious. Harry gently slipped his hand in hers and interlaced their fingers. He put his other arm around her waist. Hermione hadn't felt this safe in a long time.
Tom's pace was quickening. His heart was racing at an inconceivable speed. He felt a weight in his chest, telling him that this was not like the incident in the snow. He had a feeling that this was far worse than anything she had experienced to date.
His strides grew longer and longer. His mind was working in twice the speed as well, trying to recall where Professor Dumbledore's offices were. The panic in his mind had blocked out which portrait it was behind. He looked at it all, painting after painting, trying to remember just where it was.
'FASTER! LOOK FOR IT FASTER!'
'THERE ISN'T ENOUGH TIME! FIND IT!'
'CAN'T YOU SEE SHE IS----'
No! He wouldn't let his mind finish that thought! She was not dying. She was not dying. The fire within him had once again melted the fear away.
"The woman knitting socks." He gasped. Faster and faster. He scanned the portraits faster. The woman knitting socks. The woman knitting socks! Where the bloody hell was the portrait of The woman knitting socks! He couldn't silence his screaming mind, for he was screaming with them. He needed to find Dumbledore now!
Then, in the corner past the statue of Berndan the Bogtrotter, he found the portrait he had been looking for. With one free hand he pounded on the portrait, rattling the woman.
"What is the matter with you young man! Say the password and I will allow you entrance!" She screeched at him.
"There is no time for that! Bring him out now!" His voice was terrifying, even for a portrait. It was murderous, fear-ridden and desperate all at the same time. Instantly, the woman fled her painting. He could only assume that she did as he had ordered her too. If not, then there would be one less painting to look at in Hogwarts.
The door was creaking open. Good. The old man with Half-moon spectacles emerged at the threshold. His at first calm face changed in drastic speed as he saw the precious load that the young man had been carrying.
"What happened?" he asked, leading him inside, instructing Tom to place Nadya on the coach by the fire.
"I don't know." He managed to speak out, mustering all the composure that he could. "I don't know what happened. I found her like this."
He saw that the old man was tending to his niece. Dumbledore had gently cleared her face of the mass of hair that was covering it and was looking at her peaceful face. Instead of relief, he saw the distinct look of worry in his features.
"What's wrong?" He asked instantly. Dumbledore's reaction was not reassuring in the least. Tom could feel his muscles tensing up in worry. This could not be possible. What was happening? "What is wrong with her?"
"Dreams are a dangerous thing Mr. Riddle. They are more dangerous than what people give them credit for."
A/N: In celebration of my return, I give you all a cliffhanger!
Dun dun dun. In light of my new epiphany, I want to connect better with my readers again. Ask me questions, whether it be personal or about my work. It well help me understand you guys better, and so you guys can understand my stories better as well. Thank you for your loyalty.