Chapter 69: Rebirth
Original story by - MissAnnThropic
Pursuant to the Berne Convention, this work is copywrited 2007 with all rights expressly reserved by its author unless explicitly granted. No portion may be reproduced in any fashion without the express written and notarized permission of the author.
Standard Disclaimer: This story contains sexually graphic and explicit material and as such, it is not suitable for minors. If you are a minor, please leave now, as it is illegal for you to be here. If it is illegal for you to read or view sexually explicit material in the community you view such material, please leave now. This story and characters are purely fictional and any resemblance to events or persons (living or dead) is purely coincidental. If you are offended by sexually explicit stories, please read no further. If you are offended by stories featuring group sex, bisexual situations, incest, or any other situation, please check the story code before reading the text. These stories are just that, stories, and do not promote or condone the activities described herein
Disclaimer: I do not own any of the Harry Potter characters. All characters are creations of J.K Rowling, © 2007, to whom I am deeply indebted.
NOTE: I am writing this story because I feel compelled to do so. I love the romance of Harry and Hermione. Personally, Hermione is the kind of girl I would have fallen in love when I was young with and so I think I understand why this story – created so beautifully and so powerfully by MissAnnThropic – appeals to so many people on so many levels. I owe a huge debt of gratitude to her for her kindness in letting me 'play in her sandbox'. I have borrowed three paragraphs (below) from VOX CORPORIS, Chpt. 62
.org/story/6586/63 . Ann - Thank you.
**************************************************St. Mungo's Hospital, Noon, February the First
The security was heavy. Wands were confiscated from the press members, as were all cameras. The Aurors lined the path to the closest apparition point inside St. Mungo's main foyer. The crowd had swollen to the point where they were unsure whether or not things would happen as planned. Eventually, however, the doors to the emergency wing marked for 'Official Personnel only' swung open. The crowd was as noisy as those for the Quidditch World Cup. The first person to emerge was Albus Dumbledore. Hearing the thunderous ovation, the Headmaster of Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry pointed his wand at his own throat and muttered 'Sonorous'. With his voice magically amplified 100 times, Dumbledore addressed the throng. "Wizards and Witches, Ladies and Gentlemen, let me have your attention. In a moment, the people who saved us all – the people who well and truly defeated Tom Riddle once and for all time – will come out. They have been through a great deal and are tired. They will address the public at a time and place of their choosing before the end of the summer. However, right now, we are asking you simply to acknowledge them with your applause and your love. They need to be able to go to their homes and heal. Please respect those needs."
There was movement at the door. Dumbledore once again addressed the waiting crowd. "Ladies and gentlemen – let me once again introduce the next headmistress of Hogwarts and my very, very dear friend – Minerva McGonagall!"
The proud, distinguished looking deputy headmistress of Hogwarts opened the door and stepped out. The crowd thundered their appreciation and affection for the woman who had, according to all the stories in the paper – and along with Professor Flitwick and Ginny and Ronald Weasley - taken up wands against nine death eaters and had killed them all. No one knew, of course, that the entire story was fiction. Minerva had been saved by Harry and only she and the other three knew the cost to Harry of his rescue of them. Nothing of it would ever be said again – but it hung like an invisible millstone around and about her. It was all she could do to acknowledge the crowd and take in their applause. She walked the length of the Foyer and, arriving at the designated spot, waved one last time to the crowd before disappearing.
Professor Flitwick received similar love and adoration from the crowd and, being the amazing charms professor that he was, cast a silent spell into the air. Huge letters appeared above everyone's heads that spelled out 'THANK YOU ALL. MAY MERLIN PROTECT YOU.' His bit of magic went over very well with the crowd and there was another energetic burst of applause for him. When he reached the apparition spot, he simply turned, waved once, and disappeared.
Dumbledore stepped forward once again and raised his hands, to hush the crowd. "Ladies and gentlemen. The next two people are students about whom you have read a great deal recently. They are members of the DA – a group at Hogwarts that was formed without my knowledge or consent several years ago – but a group that proved that students can be ingenious, resourceful and just as powerful as full-grown wizards and witches. I am infinitely proud of these two and grateful to the family that entrusted them to my care." Everyone knew who they were. They were the fireballs of the Weasley clan and heroes of Liberation day. The crowd started clapping and screaming even before the doors swung open again. When they did and the two stepped forward, it was as if someone had turned up the volume by several notches. Ginny and Ronald Weasley held hands as they walked to the apparition spot. They stopped to grasp hands of certain members of the crowd as they went. Ron and Ginny had fended off the press, other students, and all Ministry For Magic members from the moment that Harry and Hermione had arrived at St. Mungo's until today. They had perfected the bat boogey hex and several others – to the point that they were automatic reactions. No one wanted to cross them. Anyone who had pushed the point and had insisted on seeing Harry or Hermione found him or herself stunned into unconsciousness and admitted to St. Mungo's as a patient. There had been two who had seriously tried their patience and stunned one or the other of them. Those individuals were dealt with much more harshly, but were expected to survive and make full recoveries in six to eight months.
Once Ginny and Ron got to the apparition spot, they held their clasped hands aloft in filial love and celebration; blew kisses to the crowd; and disappeared.
The last two. Everyone knew that in a moment, they were going to see Harry Potter and the woman they all expected to be his wife eventually, Hermione Granger. The air was alive with expectation and there was a throbbing of the collective magical energy in the room. Dumbledore stepped forward to address the crowd one last time. "Everyone, may I have your attention. It's time. Before Harry and Hermione come out, I want to say some things to you all. There have been sacrifices beyond what you have been officially told. I can tell you now that my on my orders, my brother, Aberforth Dumbledore, and Sirius Black, went looking for Tom Riddle and his followers. They found them, and my brother was able to escape to return to Hogwarts. I didn't know that it was a trap and that Aberforth had been allowed to escape, in order to draw me away from the school. Sirius Black was Harry's godfather and Tom killed him using the Kedavra curse. Sirius was Harry's last remaining relative. I have asked the Minister for Magic to exonerate Sirius Black because we know now, for a certainty, that he never killed anyone. The deaths almost seventeen years ago now were Peter Pettigrew's doing – and they were laid at Sirius' feet because of the circumstantial evidence. Sirius spent 12 cruel, terrible years in Azkaban because of the error of a few who wanted to blame somebody for the deaths of all those muggles. He was innocent. Harry loved Sirius and it was mutual. Sirius was a wonderful godfather to Harry and did everything he could to protect his godson."
Dumbledore paused to let the information sink in before continuing. "It is my intention to seek the exoneration and to hold a public memorial at the start of school in the fall for Sirius Black and for the others who died in this war. I will let everyone know through the Quibbler newspaper, so subscribe today."
The Headmaster turned and saw the door open just slightly. Everything that had to be said had been said. It was time.
She clung to Harry. "No, but I want to go home. We…I need you, Harry. I don't want to ever leave your side again."
His love for her was palpable to her "Forever and always, Hermione. Never again to be apart. Let's go home."
Harry Potter, and his fiancée, walked through the doors to the loudest applause that the wizarding world had ever heard. The 500 people who could fit into the grand foyer screamed, stomped, applauded and screamed some more. It was, frankly, deafening. As a result, Harry's plan to thank everyone in a formal statement went by the wayside. Instead, he took a page from Flitwick's playbook and cast a charm in the air. It read simply, "WE LOVE YOU ALL. THANK YOU FOR EVERYTHING." Two cats, a jaguar and a lioness, appeared above everyone's heads. They did a lap around the perimeter of the ceiling and then came to a center-point, where the two cats stood, side-by-side, and roared. When the two silvery, translucent cats finished their calls, they nuzzled each other and disappeared. The crowd roared it's approval for the unexpected demonstration.
Sensing their opportunity, Harry and Hermione moved in that unnerving way that only they could. It wasn't apparition, but it was fast enough to look like it. Suddenly they were at the other end of the foyer, standing at the right spot and they were gone.
There were birds singing in Godric's Hollow. The sun was out, but the air was cool and brisk. The Hollow was quiet and peaceful as the two most beloved people in the entire wizarding world apparated in front of the home that had sheltered James and Lily Potter more than sixteen years ago. The only difference that was noticeable was that the house had been repaired and restored and the color was now a soft yellow. There was a picket fence and a garden that had obviously been tended to before it had been put to bed for the winter.
Two figures, hand in hand, walked the brick walkway to the front door. A wave of the hand and the door opened.
The young man turned to his companion, smiled, and bent to scoop her up in his arms. She went willingly; hoping that the young man who was holding her would never again let her go.
He carried her across the threshold and the door – freshly painted and bearing a brass door-knocker shaped like a golden snitch – closed behind them.
It had never been a question. Hermione Granger knew that the answer was YES. Whenever Harry asked her, the answer was YES. She knew that it was just a matter of time – and healing. Hermione was content. Her parents were safe; most all of those she loved in the DA had survived, and she knew that there would never again be something that could frighten her the way that last, awful evening had. She had been scared right down to a place that she thought nothing could touch. Over and over again in her dreams, she saw Harry's wand get destroyed and every time, her heart raced and she broke out in a sweat. NO!! Not Harry. Please, God, don't let him die. Please, please! It was like a mantra. Even in her lucid, wakeful moments, she could knew the prayer. Why did it haunt her so? The muggle hypnotist who had been brought to St. Mungo's by Arthur Weasley, as a last ditch effort to help her thought that perhaps she had so conditioned herself to expect that Harry would die that she was having a hard time processing the fact that he lived still and that she, too, had made it out alive.
It was not helping her sleep one bit. Even sharing a bed with Harry had not settled her thoughts and she wondered if there was something else that her subconscious was trying to warn her about. On the third night, after arriving at Godric's Hollow, Hermione forced herself to stay away long enough to do a mental checklist of all of the known death eaters and to compare that list against the ones she knew for a certainty were dead. The two lists had been one off from the get-go, but she was trying to figure out whom the missing death eater was. She vowed to tell Harry about it in the morning and to see if he could put a name to her problem.
The morning of their forth day together, Hermione sat on the back porch of their home and wrote out the lists that she had promised herself she would create the night before. Once they were done, Hermione brought them to Harry, who was just waking up and had thrown on a robe to come out and join her.
"Harry? Can you look at these two lists? Do you see the name that is missing? I can't, for the life of me. And it's driving me crazy."
It took Harry no time at all. The name jumped out at him. Draco Malfoy. It was the only one missing from both lists and the only one who's body had not been accounted for from those killed at the battle. Why hadn't she seen it? Was it just that it had been haunting her too long and she just missed it? That could not have been it, Harry thought. Hermione was too careful. Maybe there was a blank in her mind as far as Malfoy was concerned.
" 'Mione? It's Draco Malfoy. That's who you're missing. He's the only one not accounted for on the two lists. He somehow, maybe, cast an obliviate charm on you or something. Maybe he's trying to disappear, or maybe he thinks…God, I don't know. Maybe he wants revenge or he doesn't want to have to cope or maybe he thinks that if he lays low for a while, he'll be accepted back into society has head of house Malfoy. I know one of us got Lucius that night."
Hermione walked up to her husband-to-be and gently laid a hand on his shoulder. "No, Harry, not we. You took down Lucius. And Lestrange, and Crabbe, and Goyle, and several of the others, all at once. You wanted them dead and they died."
That was a black and bitter night for Harry and his dreams since then had been awful. There was a part of him that thought that he should be ashamed for having killed all those death eaters. There was another part that said that he hadn't killed them soon enough and that Hermione almost died because of it. What if she had died? Would he have killed more? No. He killed every death eater who had been still standing after he had dispatched Tom. Did he enjoy it? Was that what this was all about? No, not really. Was killing Tom satisfying? Yes. How many people had Tommy-boy killed? 100? 200? 500? Tom had used Inferi and there were lots of them. Tom probably had killed more people by himself save anyone but Jim Jones in Guyana and at least Jim Jones had taken his own life in the end. Tom wanted to live forever and would have kept killing. So, was killing Tommy fun? No. Harry had to admit that none of it had ever been fun. Then what was his problem?
Harry did not know, truly, what his problem was. All he knew was that every night, since that awful night, he had woken up, sweating and flailing around, looking for Hermione. In his dreams, he and Hermione were running through the woods together as Sagehunter and Knight and they were being pursued by terrible, dark creatures. Harry always woke up at the point where he could hear Tom's terrible laughter and heard Hermione's scream.
Last night, it happened again. Only this time, it was different. Harry woke, but he was already transformed into Knight. He didn't remember changing, it just happened. Hermione, from their first night alone together in Godric's Hollow, was infinitely sensitive to Harry's presence and so when she felt Harry's animagus emerge, hers' followed. He could smell her. She was right there. His mate. He nuzzled her and pressed his body next to hers. He nipped her neck with his powerful fangs and in the next instant; the two of them were outside, in the darkness.
She sensed where they were, but her cat thinking couldn't comprehend how they had gotten there. It was all right though. Knight was there, next to her, and she could smell him and feel his power. He started to move, slowly at first, but then more quickly. They were headed up and around the perimeter of Godric's Hollow. Sagehunter was right next to him, step for step and jump for jump. Their footfalls were practically silent as they raced through the night. Sagehunter sensed that Knight was looking for something – something that she could not see or hear.
Back and forth through the forest they went, until Knight came to a stop by a very old beech tree. He raked the ground and snarled in frustration. Sagehunter sensed that he was frustrated and she knew better than to get too close. It was sometimes better to let him vent. Eventually, though, the frustration ebbed and he stopped pacing, snarling, and walked over to where she was sitting on her haunches. He nuzzled her and pushed his nose into the nape of her neck. The lioness let him, and showed him how much it pleased her by purring and pushing against him. It was a lover's pattern that had become very familiar. Nuzzling became something more and in the minutes that followed, the two animagi found themselves intertwined as only cats can do. Knight bared his teeth and bit her ever so gently. Had he been in human form, he most certainly would have marked her neck. Previously, whether she would have minded being marked or not was dependent on whether they were trying to keep a secret or not, but now they weren't. The whole of the wizarding world knew that Harry and Hermione had chosen each other and no one was going to second-guess them because of their ages.
Hermione's parents had said only five words to them before the two of them apparated away, hand-in-hand, to Godric's Hollow: We're not ready for grandchildren. It was the mildest statement that they could have delivered, and therefore carried the most weight with the two heroes. Neither Harry nor Hermione wanted to disappoint Hermione's parents. The Grangers had suffered a great deal of emotional turmoil and grief during Hermione's recovery and Harry was very, very protective of them for those reasons. Harry felt like their son, too, and he savored the love and affection that they offered. Loving Hermione had the added benefit of having an extended family to call one's own and it was a very special bonus, to Harry's way of thinking.
It was time to go back to bed. Harry's cat thinking was iffy now and he knew that he was too tired to continue the hunt that he had been on, earlier. Harry thought that maybe, in the daylight, way he was out here will come to him and he'll have a better understanding of why his animagus form took over so easily in the middle of the night. Knight repeated the small bit of magic he had performed earlier by taking Sagehunter's scruff in his mouth and performing what every other wizard would have considered impossible: side-along apparition while in animagus form.
Morning's first light came to Godric's Hollow on the fifth morning like tendrils of gossamer thread born on the breath of celestial winds, but it did not rouse the two war-weary, scarred souls who dwelled in the house on the edge of the farm meadow. The quiet was disturbed only by the birds who sought the return of their mated partners.
The pulse of life had not quickened in this Hollow for countless thousands of years. The late-winter morn was kissed by sunlight melting ice on the barren branches and lit by the fingers of light that pierced the black, gray and muted green canopy that extended itself into the meadow as far as each year's growth could possibly carry it. It was magical, in the way that only nature's diverse creation could be. The magic that lived inside the small, yellow house was neither abhorrent to nor different from the magic of the creation, but yet, was somehow set apart from it.
Their magic – the magic of the two unique young people who lay asleep in each other's arms – was always restless. It had never been content with being bottled up in its host – always it tried to express itself. Sometimes those expressions were wonderful. For them both, there was no greater expression of their magic than in their animagus forms. But, it had taken other forms before. It was a Patronus in Harry's third year. A year later, it was flying a broom to outrun a dragon in a way that should have been beyond anyone's ability to survive. For Hermione, it was in the performing of a shield charm that was thought to be impossible and once, to her amazement, it was the ability to become invisible, without the aid of a magical device, when she desperately needed not to be seen. Once, though, it was in terrible, ghastly, unrestrained power. It had been that way, the last time.
He remembered roaring, all sanity and control gone. At first the Death Eaters were merely startled by the sound, it was loud and resonating and blood-curdling… then the nearest Death Eater began to grimace. He tried to keep his wand steady on the cats, but it wavered as his face twisted further in pain. He faltered and a hand came to his chest, clutched at his ribcage the way a stroke-victim might in the throes of an attack as his heart turned renegade. The Death Eater croaked pitifully and dropped his wand. His whimpers turned to cries and he hugged his chest in unbearable pain. Then came the sounds of bones cracking. The Death Eater went to his knees, blood sputtered from his lips, and he cried like an animal as his ribcage imploded. His heart was next to tear itself apart in the storm. With a rolling of his eyes, the Death Eater fell to the snow, dead before he hit the ground, his torso falling inward like a gelatinous mass with no inner structure to support it.
The other Death Eaters suffered similar, simultaneous fates. One clutched at his head in agony, throwing off his hood in his torment. As though the magic were a bug in his ear that he could dislodge. He screamed in pure, untempered pain, until blood leaked from his ears and nose in ruddy rivers. Then his skull cracked, bone collapsed and shattered to pieces as though squeezed in a mighty hand. His head grew disgustingly misshapen, it lost recognizability as that of a human, and he, too, fell dead.
Another's spine was crushed where he stood… he lived a few seconds in a paralyzed, viciously contorted heap on the ground before he died.
The last of the remaining Death Eaters simply fell over and died, but not before she wept blood-red tears and vomited a pool of crimson on the ground.
Voldemort had hurt Hermione and the death eaters were trying to finish the job. It was as simple as that. Harry could not, would not, let them hurt her again or take her away from him. Not while he lived and not while he could do something about it.
He had found out that it had been agreed between Ron, Ginny, and professors Flitwick and McGonagall, that they would take the credit for that bit of magic, in order to shield Harry from public condemnation and recrimination. He didn't see the point. What did people expect him to do – stand there and let Hermione be killed? Not hardly. And, as if he could have done so. He loved Hermione. That's what it all came down to. He would not allow those he loved and those who loved him to be hurt. The Dark Lord will mark him as his equal, but he will have power the Dark Lord knows not. Love. Dumbledore had told him as much, but Harry hadn't been mature enough to accept it or to understand what it really meant. That was then. He understood, now.
Harry was roused from his long sleep by her cold feet. She had placed them over his and they were cold. He was too tired still to get up, so he incanted a warming spell and directed the energy at her feet. When the warmth provided by their magic could be felt, he slipped back into the peaceful sleep of one who does not have a care in the world. His last thought before unconsciousness took him was I love you, Hermione Potter.
Hermione did not know it, but stowed with the other things that Harry called his own, was Lily Potter's ring; waiting for the moment to be slipped onto the finger of a girl equally loved and equally treasured.