Consciousness was a fleeting, dancing enigma that she couldn't quite grasp. Reaching the surface of the hole she had fallen into was surely impossible, but slowly, more and more light made it's way into her field of vision. It took her many more attempts before she was able to keep her eyes open long enough to inspect her surroundings and was shocked to find that they were familiar. She had awakened on the bathroom floor of the inn she had been staying in for the last three days. Why she was on the floor was a complete mystery and it was then that the pounding and throbbing in her head began to register. With a wince and a groan she slowly sat up and was horrified to find her clothes bloodied and torn. She reached to the sink to use it as leverage to rise and immediately yelled in pain, grabbing desperately at her right wrist. Her second try, this time using her left arm, was successful until her eyes met the stranger in the mirror, the woman who looked like her except for the gash that cut across her forehead and the matted blood that had run down the side of her head and neck. She fully took in her surroundings and began to shake when she saw the state of the bathroom. Blood was everywhere, toiletries were strewn about and a rack that once held towels had been ripped from the wall. She stumbled from the room and rested for a moment on the edge of the bed before noticing an envelope that had been slipped under her door. Shakily making her way over she picked up the note and made her way back to the bed, this time only able to slide down to the floor and lean against it. It seemed to take forever for her to muster the strength to open the wax seal and she had to read it several times before the words registered.
Ms. Granger, your Floo appointment has been confirmed for 2 p.m. today, we hope your stay has been a pleasant one.
2 p.m. today? She wasn't supposed to leave until Thursday, the last thing she remembered was leaving the final seminar of the conference on Tuesday night. If today was Thursday, it would mean she had lost an entire day. How was that possible? The pounding in her head was joined by a deafening rush of blood as she became increasingly frightened. Control, was something that she needed, that she required. Losing an entire day and waking up in the state she was in meant that she had lost that control. Feeling herself begin to shake, the last thing she remembered before succumbing once again to the darkness was whispering one word. "Harry."
"Hey mate! When was Hermione supposed to be back, I'm starving."
"When are you ever not starving Ron?" Harry through back "But you're right, she should have been back by now. "
"We did have plans right?" Ron asked
"Yeah, she was going to meet us here after she got back." Harry answered with a slightly worried tone to his voice.
"Don't worry Harry, I'm sure she just went for a lie down after getting in and lost track of time." Ron said, trying to assure Harry and himself that nothing was wrong.
"Yeah, that's it. She just lost track of time." Harry now sounded even more worried and checked the time again before meeting Ron's gaze and knowing they were both thinking the same thing. Hermione Granger never lost track of time.
"Well, it couldn't hurt to just call over there and.." Ron never got to finish his sentence because Harry had already taken two strides to the fireplace and was attempting to get Hermione at her flat.
After two solid minutes of calling with no response, he exchanged a concerned look with Ron. The two grabbed their jackets and within seconds had apparated to Hermione's.
It took them less than five minutes to search the place thoroughly, including Harry finally trying an 'Accio Hermione!' to no avail. The flat was empty, and not only was it empty it was apparent that Hermione had not been back yet.
Ron ran a hand through his hair before daring to look at Harry. He was standing with one hand against the fireplace mantle, from the other dangled his glasses, his eyes were shut and there was a look of intense concentration on his face.
Ron had grown used to the extraordinary powers Harry had gradually acquired over the years prior to finally destroying Voldemort and for the most part he never displayed them. But Ron knew that right then Harry was using one of those powers.
"Can you sense her?" Ron asked hesitantly
Harry pinched the bridge of his nose briefly before replacing his glasses and turning to Ron and shaking his head. "No, she's too far away."
One of those extraordinary powers was Harry's ability to sense certain people, the closer he was to the person the further away they could be, but the Atlantic Ocean was too far even for him.
"Something's wrong." Harry said suddenly "She would have contacted us if she wasn't coming back in time."
Ron had suspected for years that there was more to Harry and Hermione than just friends even if they didn't acknowledge it yet. Ron himself had taken his shot with her but they both agreed after their disastrous only date that they were much better off as friends. After the war, Hermione was the only one who was able to get Harry out of the depression he had fallen into and helped him to re-enter the world, but they had remained solidly in the friend classification, neither crossing the unspoken line.
Harry took a deep breath before crossing into the small kitchen and came back with a piece of paper clutched in his hand, Hermione's ever present itinerary if she was out of town. "Let's go." He said right before grabbing Ron by the arm.
Before he really knew what was happening Ron felt the familiar sensation of apparation. except this was no ordinary apparation, one of Harry's other unique abilities was that he was able to apparate anywhere. Apparation across an ocean was unheard of, most wizards arranged to travel via multiple apparation points or by multiple floo trips, it was simply too dangerous to attempt apparation any other way. Harry was able to apparate anywhere he wanted to as long as he knew the location.
Ron almost lost his footing and his lunch as they landed outside a simple looking inn. Side by side apparation of that distance wasn't the easiest thing.
The lobby of the inn was practically deserted as they stepped inside, one lone witch sat at the desk flipping aimlessly through the newest Witch Weekly.
"Excuse me." Harry said
"No vacancy." The clerk replied without bothering to look up.
"No, I don't want a room, I need to find out if someone is still staying here."
"Can't help you." Again without looking up.
"Please, we think our friend may be in trouble, she was supposed to come home today and didn't. She's been staying here all week." Harry was beginning to get frustrated.
"Can't help you."
"Look!" Harry shouted, finally losing his patience as he slammed a fist on the desk "I need to know if Hermione Granger is still here!"
Harry's outburst had caused the clerk to shut her magazine but not much more and with a growl Harry shoved his unruly hair off his forehead and showed her his scar. "I am Bloody Harry Potter and you will tell me where she is!"
The poor witch stared for a minute before stammering out "Room 217 sir….I'm sor…sorry…I…."
But Harry was already gone, heading for the stairs with Ron on his heels. Ron knew Harry hated playing up his celebrity but he also knew that Hermione was the only person Harry would use it for with no regrets.
Standing outside her room, they both drew their wands before Harry unlocked and opened the door with a small wave of his hand. Neither of them was prepared for the sight that met them.
The room was dark, all the windows were drawn and there was a stale smell to the air, punctuated by a different scent that they were all too familiar with from the battlefield; blood and fear. Two steps into the room Harry was able to make out a form on the floor by the bed and felt a knot leap from his stomach to his throat.
Ron was right behind him and spotted her a second after Harry did, both of them racing to her side and dropping their knees. Ron cast Lumos and they both gasped once they saw her in the light. There was blood all over her, most seemed to have come from a vicious wound on her forehead and one on her ear. She was heavily bruised and her clothes were torn and dirty but hiding any other injuries she may have.
Harry raised a shaking hand a brought it to her neck, too many other memories of an injured Hermione flashing through his head, too many other memories of him desperately hoping she was alive. He found her pulse, weak, but present and felt an enormous relief pass through him.
"She's alive." He was able to get out and felt Ron let out a breath of his own next to him.
"What the bloody hell happened?" Ron exclaimed
"I don't know, but I'm going to find out." Harry replied, in a tone Ron hadn't heard in over five years, not since he had left to fight Voldemort in the final battle.
Harry focused his attention back on the woman in front of him, gently easing her all the way down to the floor so that he could get a better look at her injuries. He wasn't able to heal her, but he would be able to determine if anything was life threatening. When he knew she wasn't in any immediate danger he chanced waking her.