Disclaimer: I do not own Harry Potter. I apply this to all other chapters in advance.
Author's Note: Here's my newest idea for a fanfiction. It's a bit more epic than anything i've written in the past. meaning, it actually has a plot. Btw. This is written as if the last two books never happened! Enjoy...
An Ironic Twist of Fate
Chapter One: Something Wicked This Way Comes
Harry Potter and his friends were well into their seventh year at Hogwarts when the first person fell ill. He was a second year Ravenclaw, a short little blond boy with a sweet face. He was found early in the morning by his dorm mates, shaking and in a cold sweat. They all recognized the symptoms, they had read about them in the Daily Prophet since the beginning of September.
It had started quietly enough in the suburbs of London with maybe two or three people falling ill in a week. But soon the disease began to spread throughout the rest of England, affecting wizards and muggles alike. Saint Mungo's was soon overrun. It was a sickness even the greatest healers could not find a cure for. The muggles had it even worse, they couldn't combat this sort of disease. Their doctors could keep patients alive for only a week at best. It was a slow and painful death. They were scared. They called it a plague.
Dumbledore had quarantined the school. No one could leave or enter for fear of introducing the disease to the students. Hogwarts soon became one of the only places in Great Britain untouched by the disease and the sickness seemed a distant issue to the students. Life went on as it always had in the castle but then parents and relatives began dieing. Hogwarts had transformed from a haven to a cage. Students, whose families had fallen ill wanted to leave to be with their loved ones but Dumbledore would let no one go. It was safe at Hogwarts, or so he thought.
And then somehow the sickness found its way into the school itself. Jeffery Wellington, the second year Ravenclaw, was raced up to the infirmary and its doors were locked to all students. It was kept quiet at first, to avoid the panic that would ensue, but the truth could not be suppressed. Within a week another student fell ill, this time a fifth year Gryffindor. The sickness was no longer a distant threat, it had found its way into Hogwarts and was living among them all.
Ron and Harry were standing outside looking at the new fallen snow. The first snowfall of the season had lifted some of the tension of the past few weeks. There were groups of first and second years scattered about the grounds starting snowball fights and building snow forts. Harry smiled at their games. He felt so old and worn. Memories of his last snowball fight were so distant and fuzzy he had trouble recalling them at all.
"What do you think will happen?" Ron suddenly asked, pulling Harry out of his recollections.
He let out a sigh, watching his breath come out in a hot cloud before his face.
"I don't know." And he didn't. If this plague continues and they can't find a cure we may all die, he thought to himself. But he didn't want to say this to Ron, he didn't want to frighten him, time would do that.
They stood in silence for a moment and watched the students play. Harry looked over at his friend and gave him a smile. He wondered if they would survive this new challenge.
Ron gave out a little laugh and Harry turned to see a first year who had become surrounded by six snowball carrying enemies. He held up his hands in the sign of surrender but his enemies would have none of it. He was pelted from all sides and the children collapsed in laughter.
"Harry! Ron!" They heard from behind them. They turned to see Hermione racing towards them in the snow. She was not dressed for the cold wearing only a sweater and a pair of jeans which had become soaked through to her knees.
She reached them, out of breath and shivering. "Hermione! Why didn't you grab a cloak?" Ron reprimanded, pulling off his own and throwing it around her shoulders.
"I'm fine really," she said but pulled the cloak tighter around her.
"Another student has fallen ill!" she continued. "Molly Radford, she's a Gryffindor you know!"
Ron started, "Yea, I think she's one of Ginny's friends!"
"And that's not all!" Hermione went on, "a professor's sick too… Trelawney." Hermione's expression was troubled and she seemed strangely guilty, as if she suddenly regretted walking out of Trelawney's class in third year. She regained some of her composure and said, "Dumbledore's bringing in a healer from Saint Mungo's to help out Madame Pomfrey." She hesitated here, "And I've volunteered to be her assistant."
She braced herself for her overprotective friends comments. Ron was first, "No. No, absolutely not."
Harry followed this up with, "Hermione you can't throw yourself in the middle of this. It's too dangerous!" He took her hands, "I know you want to do good and be useful, we all do! But there are other ways!"
She shook her head. "You don't have to worry, Dumbledore wont allow me to be near any of the patients. I'll just be doing small tasks to make things easier for the healers, bringing them things, food, fresh linens, relaying messages and mostly finding ingredients for the potions Snape'll be brewing." She gave them an encouraging smile, "really there's nothing to worry about."
She saw Harry's shoulders relax a bit but Ron still seemed worried. "I still don't like the idea." He said stubbornly.
Then Harry said, "Just be careful alright, we couldn't bear to lose you."
She smiled at her two best friends, "Don't worry, you won't." And then pulling Ron's cloak off she said, "Anyways I just thought you'd want to hear the news. I ought to be getting back to the library, I have a lot of work to do!"
"Don't you always," Ron chuckled, taking his cloak back.
She smiled and waved as she hurried back up to the Castle, "see you at dinner!"
Hermione raced up the front steps of the Castle and kicked the snow off her shoes. She hurried in through the front doors and enjoyed the sudden warmth the Castle provided. The squeak of her shoes echoed off the tile as she made her way up to the library and she realized how silent it was. She must be the only one inside today instead of out enjoying the first snow. She wouldn't have minded spending her day in such an idle manner but she had research to do. This sickness that had settled among them, it was mysterious, a puzzle that Hermione wanted to solve. She had been taking basic healer training classes since sixth year and had applied to be an intern at Saint Mungo's next fall. She didn't know much about curing diseases but if there's one thing Hermione Granger's good at it's research and she was determined to find some sort of way to help out.
Hermione had almost reached the Library doors when she heard voices down the hall. It was Malfoy and his cronies. He was the last person she wanted to see just then so she hurried around the corner to avoid them.
"I hear crack pot Trelawney got herself sick. Checked into the infirmary this morning. Guess she didn't see that in her bloody crystal ball," said the sickeningly smug voice of Draco Malfoy. Crab and Goyle laughed stupidly in return but offered nothing more. Hermione could feel that her hands had balled into fists as she heard him talk. She hated that he was saying this, not only because it was an awful thing to say but also because she, horribly enough, had been thinking something of the same thing in the back of her mind.
Malfoy continued, "I say it serves her right for being nothing but a great waste of space. I mean if there's any proof that she's great phony its this. She sees Harry Potter's death in her teacup every other month but she couldn't see her own to save her life." At this he laughed to himself, "quite literally to save her life."
At that Hermione flew out from behind the corner right as they were walking by her. "That's enough, Malfoy!"
Malfoy and his goons faced her in surprise and Malfoy gave her a smirk. "Granger-"
"Professor Trelawney is a faculty member here at Hogwarts," she said, cutting him off, "therefore she is your superior and should be given your respect."
He walked towards her until he loomed over her small frame and she was forced to bend her neck backwards to meet his eyes. When had he gotten so tall? "That's strange," he said thoughtfully, "As I remember it, Granger, you were never a fan of hers either."
Hermione felt her cheeks catch fire and she looked away in shame. "That was a long time ago," She said quietly, trying to keep her voice steady. "I don't believe in her area of teaching, this is true, but I was wrong to disrespect her like I did."
Malfoy put that stupid smirk on his face again, "It's funny, how people like you only regret there actions once someone is dieing." He smirked, "Lets see what was that she said to you," he paused to think a moment, "something about your soul being as dry as the pages of your books," he laughed, "Ha! And then you knocked over a crystal ball and you stormed out of the classroom!" He exclaimed. And then he lowered his voice, "A little overdramatic for my taste but a turn-on none the less." He had become uncomfortably close.
"In case you've forgotten, Malfoy, I still have the power to take points away from Slytherin," She threatened.
He turned to laugh at his cronies. "Ha! The little mudblood Head Girl is on a power trip!"
She narrowed her eyes, "Five points from Slytherin," she said authoritatively, "don't give me a reason to take away more."
He chuckled again, "Alright Granger, settle down. We were just on our way outside to enjoy a fine winter's day when you stopped us." He stepped away from her and she began to walk away. "Be careful though, mudblood, or you might be the next one they take to Madame Pomfrey." He and his goons began to chuckle.
She spun around, "Just so you know, diseases can't tell pureblood from muggleborn. You have just as good a chance of dieing as the rest of us."
He suddenly looked smugger than ever, "I'm not worried." And then he and his entourage turned away from her and made there way down the hall.
Hermione stomped away in frustration. He drove her absolutely mad! To think someone could have the audacity to think themselves above disease! She had never known someone so arrogant, so egotistical, so completely impossible! She threw open the door to the library and it hit the wall with a bang. Madame Pince looked up disapprovingly. Hermione gave her apologies and then moved briskly to the back of the library to take up her usual spot.
She threw her heavy book bag down on the table and rummaged through it. After some search she pulled out an old leather portfolio. Inside was every newspaper clipping relating to the plague since September. She picked up the first one dated September 16th:
Last night Ulysses Smeaton was rushed from his home in Kingston to the Emergency ward of St. Mungo's. He was found and transported to the hospital by his house elf who found him violently retching in bed, shaking and covered in a cold sweat. Mr. Smeaton is the fifth patient this week to come through the doors of Saint Mungo's with such alarming symptoms. Even more alarming is that healers of Saint Mungo's are still unable to find a treatment for whatever is affecting their patients and there has been no signs of recovery or improvement by any of them. Lucredia Yeltman was the second person to contract the mysterious illness. She has been under careful watch for two weeks and her condition is only getting worse. She is in constant, unbearable pain that potions have been able to lessen but not to relieve. She and the other survivors grow weaker everyday and unless a cure is found soon they shall surely die.
Hermione tossed the article aside and took out a piece of parchment and a quill. With a quick flourish she jotted down a list of symptoms she could get out of the article.
She then took to the library shelves and rooted out a pile of medical books. Setting them down on the table with a loud 'thunk', she hurridly flipped to the index of Handbook for the Healer. She found sweating as a symptom to more than 500 illnesses. This was going to take some time. Shaking was related to 349 diseases, regurgitation: 268 and Extreme pain: 720.
After five hours and a thermos of coffee, Hermione had cross referenced and narrowed it down to 169 possible illnesses, only 72 of which were contagious and none of them particularly deadly. With a disappointed sigh she closed the heavy book and decided she had done enough that day. She looked out the window. It had grown dark, she had most likely missed dinner. Tomorrow she would research the 72 diseases she had written down in her little notebook. She figured the plague might be a mutation of one of these known diseases.
She shelved her books and made her way to the kitchens, her stomach growling at her rudely. She wondered what she would do if the plague could not be related to any known illness. What then? Where would she look next. There wasn't really any way she could test out different theories. What she needed was a patient to observe. She needed to get closer. She wouldn't get very far relying solely on articles and second hand accounts. And then, against her stomach's will, Hermione decided to make a quick detour to the hospital wing. She knew she wasn't supposed to be there but she just had to have a look. She crept up to the door and looked both ways to see if anyone was coming. Nope, all clear. Holding a corner of her cloak up against her nose and mouth, she opened the door a fraction of an inch and put her eye to the crack. The air from inside stuck to her face, hot and wet.
She could see Madame Pomfrey's backside. She was leaning over one of the patients. Something seemed to be going wrong. She was whispering something to the patient that Hermione couldn't quiet hear. Then she heard gurgled cry come from the bed. She peered closer, desiring Madame Pomfrey's rump to move aside so she could see what was going on.
Finally the exhausted healer stood up straight and put a shaking hand to her forehead. She looked extremely frightened. She then moved quickly to her potions cupboard and Hermione was afforded a look at the invalid.
The first thing she noticed was the blood and she gave a startled gasp. It was little Jeremy. His sheets were soaked with blood, so much blood. He was on his side, blood running freely from him nose. Eyes, tightly shut, pale, shaking. A picture by his bed: two happy parents and a young blond baby boy. He coughed and more blood fell onto the crisp white sheets.
Madame Pomfrey was back with a small purple vial. She readjusted the cloth wrapped about her face. Hermione recognized it, a potion to increase the body's ability to make new blood. But what was this new symptom? She had not read about it in any of her articles. What else was not being reported? Madame Pomfrey filled a syringe with the potion and pushed it deep into Jeremy's veins. He shuddered. Then his body seemed to calm and his breathing slowed.
Madame Pomfrey's head suddenly snapped to the door. Had Hermione made a noise? She didn't think she had even breathed since she'd been there. None the less, Madame Pomfrey had seen her. She quickly let go of the door, straightened up, and backed away. Madame Pomfrey was before her in seconds, looking livid. "Miss Granger! What do you think you're doing here?" she asked disapprovingly.
Hermione shuffled her feet and stumbled over her reply, "I. uh. I just wanted to see if you needed anything. If you needed any help." She gave the healer a guilty smile.
Madame Pomfrey shook her head, "No, I'm fine. You're not supposed to be here, Miss Granger. If the Headmaster found out you'd been here!"
"I'm sorry, Madame Pomfrey, I just…wanted to see them. See how they were doing. Are they getting any better?"
Her expression became somber. "No. They are not." She looked close to tears. "They are weaker every hour. This illness is like nothing I've seen before. Nothing seems to help. There is naught but constant pain and suffering and soon enough their bodies will grow too weak to fight it." Her face quickly grew hard again, "And that is why you must leave immediately! It is far too dangerous here!"
Hermione nodded and began to walk away. The sound of Madame Pomfrey's voice called her back. "Miss Granger! Give me you cloak. It will have to be burned." Hermione eyes widened but she did as she was told and handed over her cloak. "I'll disinfect you now, but I suggest you wash everything as soon as you get back to your dorm, just in case." Then raising her wand she whispered, "Alio Sanitas".
Then with a timid goodbye Hermione walked in a daze back to her dormitory, completely forgetting about the dinner she never had.
The next morning the Great Hall was buzzing with news of the new patients in the hospital wing and it certainly did not get past the notice of the students that there was an addition to the staff table. The morning post had just flown in and Hermione was quickly scanning the front page of the Daily Prophet for any articles about the disease. She was surprised to see that Hogwarts was still under the reporters radar and an article had not yet been posted about the recent contamination on campus. She was in the middle of reading a statement by a ministry official in the Health Department responding to complaints about the lack of medical funding hospital's were getting during the crisis when Dumbledore stood to make an announcement.
"Good morning, all," his voice was uncharacteristically grave, "I am sure by now you have all heard of Molly Radford and Professor Trelawney's misfortune… And I am sure you all have realized that this mysterious sickness, that has plagued England for months, has finally reached Hogwarts."
At this there was a dull murmur among the students. Dumbledore held up his hand and waited for silence. "Now then, I know you are all scared and worried about your families and I know many of you have relatives who have fallen ill that you wish to be with. But I must implore you all to stay here in school, for in these troubled times it is one of the safest places you can be. I can not legally hold you here however, so with the consent of a parent or guardian I will have to let any student who wishes to go, go home."
There was a rustle of faint whispers around the room and Dumbledore raised his voice. "I must stress, however, that once a student leaves he or she may not under any circumstances return to the school, for risk of further contamination." A hush settled among the students.
Hermione stole a glance at Parvati Patil who, she knew, had recently found out that her mother had fallen ill. She looked close to tears and Lavender Brown was whispering something in her ear. What an awful decision to have to make!
"Furthermore.. The hospital wing is strictly off limits to healthy students. I know some of you want to visit those who are ill but this will not be permitted at any time. As for those students who need minor medical attention: bumps, bruises, cuts and the like, they will be directed to classroom 236," Neville Longbottom hastily scrawled the number down on the back of his hand, "where a basic health center will be set up and run by students in our 7th year healer classes."
Dumbledore offered a small smile before continuing, "And now, I am sure you have all noticed the addition to our staff. Please help me to welcome Mr. Bruce Frawley, a healer from Saint Mungos, who will be helping Madame Pomfrey attend to the sick students." Polite applause erupted from the student body and Mr. Frawley, a tall, lanky stretch of man in his mid forties, stood up and made a rough bow. He looked very anxious to be out of the spot light and quickly took his seat and resettled his glasses on the bridge of his nose.
When the applause died down Dumbledore continued. "Thank you all for your attention and I hope a little joy may be found in these troubled times," Hermione swore Dumbledore was looking directly at her, "for it is through love that we will find the cure." With that Dumbledore sat down and the Hall burst into its normal dull roar.
"So you'll be working in the health center then, Hermione?" Ron asked, stuffing a sausage link in his mouth.
"Yes," she replied, absently pushing around the food on her plate with her fork. "I suppose its a good opportunity to get some hands on training. Although to be honest, between this, my Head girl duties and helping out the healers I'm afraid you two won't be seeing me around all that much."
"I'll be surprised if you find time even to sleep!" Harry put in, "Hermione, you really shouldn't be taking on so much… especially now when you need to be watching your health."
"Really Harry its no big deal," she said defiantly, "and as for sleep, if worse comes to worse I could always ask McGonagall for that time turner again." She let out a little laugh to let them know she was joking but there didn't seem to be any amusement in the eyes starring back at her.
"Just promise us you'll be careful Hermione," Harry sighed, realizing he wasn't going to be able to talk her out of her decisions.
"Yea," Ron added, "And no going in that Hospital wing, alright." She nodded behind a sip of pumpkin juice. Unbeknownst to them, she had already broken that promise.
"Hermione…" Harry said, becoming very serious, "Promise us," he reached out across the table and grabbed her hand.
She put down her glass and met his eyes. There was deep worry in those emerald orbs. Perhaps she did have to be more careful. After all, she wouldn't be any help to anyone if she was incapacitated in the hospital wing. "Alright…I promise." She could feel Ron relax beside her and Harry's mouth settled in a small smile, Hermione Granger did not make promises lightly so they were right to be relieved. And she did have every intention of keeping that promise. Truly, she did.
Author's Note: Now then, i must implore anyone reading this to LEAVE ME A COMMENT. The speed of my writing is greatly dependant on the amount of feedback i get. Also... it just makes me feel good!
Let me know how you liked it, what you think will happen, any questions you have, any concerns, constructive criticism, what you ate for lunch, anything. )