Disclaimer: Roses are red, violets are blue. I don't own Harry Potter, so please don't sue!
Previously in Strength of Family…
Hermione could see the open door, ahead of them. Ominously Ron, Seamus and Dean were all huddled on the floor in front of the door. Neville and Harry were out of sight. Suddenly a Dementor came out of the room and rushed towards the three boys.
"Expecto Patronum!" Professor McGonagall roared as a silver cat rushed out of her wand and rammed the Dementor sending it flying away from them.
Hermione sped up and ran faster than the others. She darted around the boys and ran into the room. She continued to run forward seeing Neville and Harry on the floor. From what Hermione could see, Neville was convulsing on the floor, which most likely meant he was still alive. But a second Dementor was swept over an unconscious Harry.
Not knowing what to do, but knowing if she did nothing her friend would likely die. Hermione rushed forward and tackled the Dementor, pushing it away from where it was sucking Harry's forehead.
Suddenly everything felt cold to Hermione. So, cold and lonely, it was…
Chapter 21: Consequences
After waiting outside the pub for twenty minutes, Remus Lupin finally had enough. He had to go inside and see what happened to his friend. Remus knew he was supposed to wait for Sirius to come out, but seriously, it shouldn't take the man twenty minutes to come out.
Steadying his resolve, Remus walked in the door of the Leaky Cauldron and saw the most wonderful sight. Sirius, was sitting at the bar, drinking a butterbeer, talking with the bartender. Quickly glancing around the fairly crowed room Remus realized that it had worked. No one had recognized Sirius as the infamous mass murderer.
"Hey, Remus," Tom the barkeeper called out. "What will it be?"
Remus suddenly realized he had been standing around like an idiot for a few minutes, just observing everyone in this room.
"Just a butterbeer," Remus said quietly sitting down next to Sirius.
"You know Mr. Evans?" Tom asked indicating Sirius.
It seemed the old dog was beginning to spread the new identity they made for him. It really was ridiculously easy to forge muggle documents with a wand. They were going to pass Sirius off as a cousin of Lily Evans. That way Sirius could have a legitimate claim to take custody of Harry and Lexi. If Dumbledore would insist Harry be raised by a blood relative of Lily's, then they were going to invent one.
"Of course I know Edward," Remus said with a smile. "I was a good friend of Lily Evans at Hogwarts. We met a few times but I had no idea he was a wizard."
"Well, that's the weird thing," Sirius said with a smile. "My father was a wizard, but Lily's dad wasn't. So the family kept the magic secret from Uncle Dan, by just saying my dad had been accepted to a prodigious boarding. Then my dad moved to France, where he met my mum who was witch. I was born and sent to Beauxbatons, while low and behold cousin Lils is a witch that was sent to Hogwarts, and we never knew the other one was magical. I never knew she was a witch until I found out about what happened to her and James." By this point, Sirius's head bent over his drink in mourning for their lost friends.
"Such a loss to the wizarding world," Tom said with a shake of his head. "So, Edward, what do you do?"
"I used to work for a private firm," Sirius quickly replied and Remus was glad for the change in the direction of the conversation. "But now I'm thinking of starting my own business…"
Remus tuned out the rest of their prearranged answer as Sirius rambled on. For the love of Merlin, their insane idea had worked. Sirius Black was a free man, in everything but his true name.
Everything had felt so cold and lonely, like she would never be warm or happy again. It consistently felt colder until all of the sudden a flash of warmth and sunlight crossed her path. It reminded her of standing out in the cold, only to have the sun to suddenly shine upon her. It was amazing and incredible how fast the change happened but once it did Hermione slowly felt that she was changing the path of where she was heading. A bright light appeared before her and Hermione had no choice but to go towards it.
She was now on a hilltop in the most beautiful place she had ever seen. There were flowers everywhere she could see, expect for in the middle of the hilltop where a beautiful woman was sitting as if she were waiting for her. She had long auburn hair, extremely fair skin that looked radiant next to her silver and gold gown and the most amazing emerald green eyes.
"Come here, Hermione," the woman's musical voice called to her. "Come and join me; we have a lot to talk about."
"Who are you?" Hermione asked the beautiful woman as she sat down in front of the woman in the place she indicated.
"I'm Lily," the woman replied as she took Hermione's hands in her own. "I think you know my children rather well."
"Yes, Misses Potter," Hermione responded as her mind tried to process what was going on around her. "Am I dead?"
"No, dear," Lily said as she moved Hermione's hair out of her eyes. "You're not dead and please call me Lily."
"I'm sorry," Hermione said as her cheeks blushed red. "I don't mean to be rude, but why are you here and where are we for that matter?"
"We're in the in-between," Lily said as she retook Hermione's hands, "as for why am I here… well James and I thought it would be better for someone to meet you while you were here and try to explain things to you."
"Why would you care about me?" Hermione asked unable to stop herself before she did.
"Hermione," Lily began with a tone of disapproval in her voice, "you're like a sister to my son and daughter. James and I are so grateful for everything you've done for them. We're always watching over them, and we're watching over you as well. You're family. Now we need to talk about other things, we don't have a lot of time…"
If a person were to enter the Headmaster's office this evening, they would get the shock of their life. While many people regarded Albus Dumbledore as the most powerful wizard in the world, few actually thought about what that actually meant. When they looked at Dumbledore with his friendly grandfather like visage they forgot that this was the man that defeated Grindelwald and was the only wizard that Voldemort ever feared.
But on this night, anyone who crossed Albus Dumbledore's path would know why he was so reverie by wizard kind yet feared in the next moment.
An aura of power surrounded the elderly man as he paced back and forth in his office. Most magical auras regularly went unseen. However, due to the extreme emotions the wizard in question was experiencing, his magical aura was a visible, tangible part of him.
Just hours earlier everything had been going according to Albus's plan, and it was very likely to succeed in drawing out Voldemort. He knew that something had been attacking the unicorns in the forbidden forest and it was a reasonable jump to assume that the thing was Voldemort, considering how only something dark and twisted would kill an innocent such as a unicorn and drink its blood.
Earlier in the evening, Albus had no reason to suspect that anything bad was likely to happen. When he received an urgent owl from the Minister, claiming to need Albus's assistance immediately, he was almost relieved that the Minister was turning to him for advice again. It would be horrible if the Minister For Magic became a mouth piece for Lucius Malfoy and his cronies.
Instead of flooing to the ministry from his office, Albus had gone by broom. It had been long time since he had nice relaxing broom ride, and the time it took to reach the ministry would be good for Fudge to wait. It would be a nice reminder to the minister that Albus Dumbledore was a very busy man. However, once Albus reached the ministry it was quite obvious that he had not been requested to come. Feeling a bit like a fool, Albus immediate turned around and headed back to Hogwarts. Instead of flying back to school by broomstick, Albus apparate to the gates of the school and rushed to the main hall, to find out if Voldemort had made his move.
Sadly Voldemort had made an attempt to steal the Sorcerer's Stone and nothing had gone according to Albus's well crafted plans. Instead of young Harry Potter and his friends valiantly protecting the stone from the clutches of evil, three other first year boys attempted to stop Voldemort, which nearly resulted in the boys' death. Harry Potter did respond to the emergency but he was merely there to stop the three other Gryffindor boys from doing something stupid.
Instead of an epic showdown between the spirit of Voldemort and young Harry Potter, two Dementors had crashed the battled and stole the soul of Professor Quirrel which caused Voldemort to flee the castle. Harry Potter and Neville Longbottom, the other child the prophecy could have been about nearly had their souls stolen as well if it wasn't for the actions of Hermione Granger and Minerva McGonagall. Minerva had driven the Dementors off with the Patronus charm while Miss Granger did a rather muggle thing and tackled the beast to prevent it from stealing her friends' souls.
Unfortunately, no one has ever had bodily contact with a Dementor and lived to tell the tale. The poor muggleborn first year was likely to never wake up despite Madam Pomfrey's best efforts. He was still trying to think of the best way to tell her muggle parents that she would never wake up. It was for the greater good but somehow he wasn't sure two muggles would understand the importance of the Boy-Who-Lived and why it was so necessary that he continued to live instead of their daughter.
The floo roared breaking Albus from his thoughts. He would have to revisit them later but for now it was time to show Cornelius Fudge exactly why he, Albus Pervical Wolfgang Brian Dumbledore could be the Minister For Magic if he should desire.
"Dumbledore!" Cornelius squeaked as soon as he entered the room. He was followed by Madam Umbridge and two aurors. "What has happened? I was told there was a problem with the Dementors."
"Yes, Minister," Albus said in a voice dripping with anger and power, "there has most definitely been a 'problem' with the Dementors. Two of them broke into my school and attacked students."
"No, they wouldn't have," Cornelius attempted to argue.
"One of the students happened to be Harry Potter," Albus continued ignoring Fudge and Umbridge's gasps of dismay. "Those beasts are to be removed from my school within two hours or I will go to the Daily Prophet with this information."
"Hum hum," Madam Umbridge interrupted, and Albus sorely wished that he remembered the woman's first name. "Now Dumbledore, there is no need to do that but I think there is a larger question here we need to answer."
"And that would be?" Albus asked daring the woman to challenge his word. He was not ready to tell the world that Voldemort was still around. There were too many free Death Eaters that could take that information to heart and restart their old practices even if Voldemort didn't have a body. Or worse, there would be Death Eaters seeking out his spirit to find a suitable host for him to inhabit.
"Why would the Dementors enter the school?" Umbridge asked in what she must have thought was a sweet tone. "Something must have drawn them to the building. Did Sirius Black attempt to abduct the Potter boy and the Dementors were merely there to save the day?"
"I'm sorry, Madam Umbridge, but the Dementors were not heroically defending young Harry Potter," Dumbledore replied as he studied the woman over the brim of his glasses. "They attempted to steal the boy's soul. If Deputy Headmistress McGonagall had not stepped in when she did, there would have been more than one person kissed this evening."
"Were the Dementors responding to something to the ward set for the third floor corridor?" Fudge asked and Albus was nearly ready to bang his head on his desk. He really never thought Fudge would remember the ward they put up around the room with the trapdoor. But apparently the Minister wasn't as dim as he was counting on.
"Yes, there was a disturbance there," Albus admitted. "But first year students fell victim to the Dementors, not any criminals."
"What was Potter doing there?" Umbridge asked with a shrewd look on her face. "It was the boy's fault for being out of bounds."
"Harry Potter was attempting to do something noble," Albus serenely replied. "He was attempting to prevent other students from entering the room. Instead, he was too late but prevented them from being kissed by the Dementors by bringing their attention to himself."
"Are we completely sure there were no entities that were not supposed to be in Hogwarts in that room?" Umbridge asked much to Albus's surprise.
"Not to my knowledge," Albus replied, courious as to where this was going. "Why do you ask?"
"Are you sure there were no goblins in there?" Umbridge pestered only to have both of the aurors groan in response.
"Delores," Cornelius said while shaking his head, "the goblins are not out get us. If Dumbledore says there were no goblins, then there were no goblins. If your obsession with goblins were to get out I'd be ruined. We're going to have a very long talk once we get back to the office about your position in my administration." With those words Fudge stood up and walked towards the floo.
"Minister," Albus called out before Fudge got too close to the fireplace. "About those Dementors?"
"I can't recall them," Fudge replied with a frown. "Sirius Black is still on the loose and what about the thingy?"
"But he has never made an attempt to enter my school," Albus countered. "There have been zero legitimate sightings of Sirius Black since his escape and I do say for all we know he could be dead or in a country with no extradition treaties with Great Britain. As for the 'thingy' as you called it, the term is over so it will no longer be housed in the school."
Cornelius looked rather conflicted for several minutes before he finally settled on a decision. "Alright, the Dementors will be recalled since the thingy is gone," the Minister said. "But if Sirius Black attacks the school it will be on your head, Dumbledore."
As the ministry contingent left his office, Albus pulled out a lemon drop and began to suck on it. All things considered everything worked out for the best for him. The Dementors were gone, and Voldemort had been driven from the school. So why did he have a feeling that the other shoe had yet to drop?
It was dark and cold, where ever he was. There was nothing around him to mark or signify that he was anywhere at all. The last thing he remember seeing was Dementor come closer, after it dropped Professor Quirrell. One minute he was in the room with the three-headed dog, the next he was here.
Was he dead? It sure looked like the Dementor had killed Quirrell and Voldemort, if that thing in the back of Quirrell's head really was Voldermort.
"What in the world would possess Miss Granger to do something like that?" a distant voice whispered. The person the voice belonged to was too far away to recognize who it belonged to.
"She's lucky she is still alive," a different murmured in agreement.
What had happened to Hermione? What were the voices talking about? But there were no answers to Harry's questions just the lingering silence.
Suddenly a bright light appeared far off in the distance. But the bright light made it easier for Harry to make sense of his surroundings. There was mist everywhere but since he had been in this location three times before, he had a rather good idea of where he was. Harry was standing at King's Cross Station and he was completely butt naked. After wishing extremely hard that he was not in his current state of undress Harry realized clothing had magically appeared on his body. That was rather fortunate for him.
"Hello, Harry," a soft female voice that seemed vaguely familiar called out of the mist.
"Who's there?" Harry called out as he turned around in circles looking for the voice.
"We are, son," a male voice that Harry knew he had heard before called out. "We're here like we've always been."
As soon as those words were spoken the mist cleared away and Harry was able to see the people who spoke to him. There was a man who shared the same messy black hair, strong chin and need for glasses as he did. Next to the man was the most beautiful woman he had ever seen. She had long red hair like Lexi once had and she had bright emerald green eyes that matched both of the Potter siblings.
"Mum? Dad?" Harry asked unsure if he was willing to know the truth on whether or not these people were truly his parents.
"Yes, sweetheart," his mother replied as she walked towards him and wrapped him in her arms.
Hot tears began to stream down Harry's face as he was held by his mother. He had never been held in such a loving manner before in his life and he rather enjoyed in. With such as simple gesture Harry knew beyond a shadow of doubt that his mother had loved him with all of her heart. Living with the Dursleys, Harry had truly wondered whether or not his parents would love him had they lived. In this single moment all that doubt had been washed away. He was wanted and he was loved.
"Oh, my darling, I am so sorry we can't be there with you and Lexi," his mother whispered into his ear as she still held on to him with all that she was worth. "We did what we needed to protect you and your sister. I can't believe they thought Sirius was at fault for our deaths and I am more than appalled that he never got a trial. He is a good man and you should trust him to do the best thing for you and Lexi; your father and I do."
"You have a choice here," Lily continued in a louder voice as she pulled herself away from
Harry. "You can either stay with us, or you can go back to the realm of the living and be with Lexi and your friends. You are currently in the in-between."
Harry took a few minutes to think about what his mother said. While staying with his parents was really appealing it would mean that he would have to leave Lexi and Hermione behind. That was the last thing in the world that he wanted to do. He knew his sisters by blood and choice would beyond heartbroken if he died. The more he thought about it, the more he realized that there really wasn't a decision to make.
"I'm going to go back," Harry said bracing himself for the disappointment he was sure his parents would show. But surprisingly for Harry, it never came.
"Darling, we knew there was no real choice," his mother said much to his surprise. "We knew you'd never intentionally leave Lexi to fend for herself. You are such a good brother to your sister and we are so proud of the both of you. In a situation that would have destroyed other people, both of you both flourished and turned in to strong individuals. While we wish your circumstances were different, it doesn't change the fact that we still love you and your sister for who you both are."
Suddenly Harry felt a weight on his shoulder, as he turned around he saw his father standing behind him with one of his hands on Harry's shoulder. He had a very sad expression on his face that looked really out of character on the older man. His father looked like he should be carefree but the seriousness of whatever he had to say seemed to weigh him down.
"Harry, I need you to do me a favor," his father began, "I need you to tell Sirius and Remus something very important for us. Can you deliver a message for me?"
"Of course," Harry readily agreed. He'd do anything for his parents.
"Tell them both we don't blame them, either of them," James stressed the last part. "Both of them have been living with the guilt of our deaths and feel that if we could, we would blame them for various reasons. The truth is we don't blame them in the slightest. Just tell them it wasn't their fault and that they are not the last two living Marauders. Tell them I don't mean Peter, but I'm referring to you, Lexi and Hermione." After seeing Harry's questioning look, James just shook his head. "The Marauders were more than friends. We were family. They will explain the rest to you."
"Hermione!" Harry exclaimed, unable to believe he forgot all about his friend. "She's hurt, I have to help her."
"There is nothing you can do," Lily said as she ran a hand through Harry's hair. "Hermione will be alright, we've already seen her and we will see her again before she wakes up. She was really hurt Harry, but it was her decision to do what she did. Don't criticize her for what she did, since she didn't use magic. If she didn't do it, the Dementor would have eaten your soul after it was finished with the remains of your scar. She saved your soul so you would have the chance to live."
"What did she do?" Harry asked truly wondering what his bushy haired friend could have done to stop a Dementor.
"She was utterly brilliant! That Hermione tackled the Dementor like she was a player in a rugby game," his father replied with clear glee on his face. "It was beautiful and it sure did take McGonagall by surprise. Someone should give her a medal for shocking McGonagall, let alone for how she stopped the Dementor attack."
A strangled cry could be heard from some hidden point in the mist that drew the attention of all three Potters. Harry made to take a step towards where he heard the cry, but both his mother and his father held him back.
"Don't worry about that," Lily said as her arms wrapped completely around Harry so she was once again holding him tightly in her embrace. "Your father and I are going to take care of that thing."
"What was that?" Harry asked still oddly drawn toward the noise.
"It's Voldemort, son," James replied. "It's just a small sliver of his soul. He made objects to tie himself to the realm of the living. That is how he survived the killing curse that rebounded back on him. What is over there is just a piece of his soul that came here after the Dementor sucked it out of your scar. Now don't be alarmed by that, it had no effect on you, it was just a side effect of that rebounded killing curse. Your mother and I will dispose of it but you and your sister need to be careful because he is still out there and he will be after you."
"But shouldn't he be dead now?" Harry asked. "His soul was sucked out of the back of Quirrell's head. Shouldn't that be the end of it?"
"No, Harry," Lily tearfully replied. "The only thing that came to the in between was the piece from your scar. I have no idea as to what happened to the first one. He will still want you for what you did to him," his mother continued before he had a chance to ask a question. "Voldemort will not understand what I did to protect you, and he will assume you know. He will want you for that information, and he will want you dead for being the downfall to his reign of terror."
"What did you do to protect me?" Harry asked, truly curious to know the answer.
"I performed a very complex piece of magic," Lily vaguely answered, as she tried to wave off the answer. "I won't tell you any more since knowing will put you in danger."
"But if I knew what spell it was, others could be protected as well," Harry protested. "I need it to protect Lexi and Hermione."
"Casting the charm comes with a very serious consequence," Lily said with a frown. "If I had known at the time, we would have done something else to save you. Please just drop this matter and be thankful for what you have. And whatever you do, don't listen to Dumbledore. He somehow got it in his head that love alone saved you. That is a bunch of bull and I would highly recommend that you suggest he is senile and needs to be placed in a nursing home."
"Just remember what we've told you," James said as he messed up Harry's hair. "It's about time for you to go back. Tell your sister we love her and pass on my message for Sirius and Remus. Oh, and their plans are solid and you would do well by following them."
"Drat, I almost forgot," Lily said as she let go of Harry. "There is a girl you will meet in the next few years. I'm not sure exactly when since you nearly met her already, but the important thing is she can see things more clearly than most. You would do well to have her as a friend. Most people will find her odd, but I assure you she will be one of the most loyal friends you will have and can help you find the way when others can't."
"Um, alright," Harry replied a bit puzzled by his mother's last warning. "Anything else I need to know?"
"Yeah," his dad said with a grin. "Let loose and have a little fun while you are at Hogwarts. You're only young once and it would be a shame if you spent your youth being too serious. Even your mother, the most serious student Hogwarts ever knew besides possibly that Granger girl, enjoyed pulling a good prank every once in a while. Enjoy life while you can and always remember that we love you, we are proud of you and we will always watch over you and the people you love."
Harry jumped up and nearly out of the hospital bed. Professor McGonagall, who was sitting on a chair perched next to his bed gasped, in surprise. His parents were gone as was the mist covered Kings Cross Station. Instead, he was in the Hogwarts infirmary.
"Mr. Potter," Professor McGonagall called out, "How are you feeling? Is there anything wrong?"
"No," Harry's raspy voice replied. "What happened Professor? What am I doing in the hospital wing?"
"About that, Potter, what were you doing the Forbidden corridor?" Professor McGonagall said with a shrewd look.
"What?" Harry asked numbly.
"I said Mister Potter, what were you doing in the Forbidden Corridor?" Professor McGonagall repeated.
"I was there to stop Ron, Dean and Seamus from doing something really stupid," Harry replied trying to answer Professor McGonagall's question without ratting out his fellow Gryffindors. "Unfortunately Voldemort and some Dementors got there first. The Dementors ate Quirrel's soul and one of the Dementors attempted to kiss me, but instead was drawn to my scar. It did something to it, and after that I knew no more."
After Harry finished his rant, he once again made eye contact with his head of house. Instead of her usual stern expression, she looked shocked and as white as any of the ghosts that reside in the castle. Perhaps he had shared with her more information than she had desired? Not like he could do anything about it at this point.
"Are you serious, Mister Potter?" Professor McGonagall asked in a voice barely above a whisper.
"Yes, Professor," Harry politely replied.
"You will have to excuse me Mister Potter, but I must speak to the Headmaster at once," McGonagall said faster than you could say 'transfiguration' the professor was out of the hospital wing doors.
Harry stared in shock at the place where his head of house had previously sat. Apparently his information was more important than his wellbeing. Looking around the hospital wing he could easily see Ron and his friends across the room. They looked a little worn out but otherwise unharmed.
Neville sat to one side of Harry, while Hermione was at his other. Neville was awake but was currently speaking in quiet tones to Madam Pomfrey so Harry was confident that his one friend was fine. It was Hermione that concerned him.
His mother said that they had spoken to his bushy haired friend before they spoke to him, yet she was still unconscious. Her appearance alone was rather disheartening. She looked so pale in the harsh lights of the hospital wing and she looked as if she was slightly trembling every so often. It was her hair that had him most concern. Instead of her bushy brown hair that he had been accustomed to, her hair was completely straight, streaked with pure white strands of hair among her normal brown. Harry didn't know what could make her hair change in such a drastic way, but whatever it was couldn't be good.
Harry stared at Hermione from his seat in a chair by her bedside. He was hoping against hope that he could simply will her awake. Professor McGonagall had returned with the Headmaster to speak with Harry what happened but he had refused to say anything more. For some reason he didn't want to share his experience with his mother and father with the two professors. He was still rather miffed at his Head of House for taking off like she did and according to his mother, the Headmaster was senile. Nothing would be gained by speaking with them at this current moment.
Professor McGonagall had attempted to force Harry back to Gryffindor tower since he was awake and seemed quite well. But thankfully Madam Pomfrey wouldn't have it. She was quite insistent that Harry should at least spend a night in the hospital wing. However, the kindly matron did not force him to remain in a bed. She allowed him to keep his vigil at Hermione's bedside.
"A lot of people tease Hermione saying she should have been sorted in to Ravenclaw," Neville said taking Harry by surprise. He knew the other boy was in the Hospital Wing as well but he was still taken by surprise when the other boy spoke up. "I dare any one to challenge Hermione's right to be in Gryffindor. I'd be the first person to curse them into oblivion for suggesting it. She has to be one of the bravest people in all of Gryffindor."
"She is the bravest Gryffindor," Harry easily agreed. "When you get out of the hospital wing, I want you to spread that around Gryffindor Tower."
"What about you, Harry?" Neville asked.
"I'm going to stay here till she wakes up," Harry said with a small smile on his face. "Hermione is like family to me, and I know her parents can't come see her at Hogwarts because they are muggles. So I'll be here with her in their stead."
"Can I visit her too?" Neville questioned. "Hermione is important to me as well."
"Of course," Harry said with another grin for his roommate. "Anyone can visit Hermione if they wish, but everyone in Gryffindor should know that she saved my life. I just need you to pass on that word for me."
"She didn't just save your life, Harry," Neville said with a fire burning behind his eyes. "I was right next to you mate. She saved my life as well. Should this just stay in Gryffindor or should the other houses know as well?"
"What to do mean?" Harry asked a bit puzzled by the other boy's words.
"Well, we can either make this information strictly in house or we can make it public knowledge that will eventually spread throughout all of Hogwarts," Neville explained. "I personally think the other members of the study group should be allowed to know what a hero Hermione is."
"Agreed," Harry replied. "Do what you need to do to make it happen."
Both boys were quiet for several minutes as they kept their vigil over Hermione. While Harry was lost in his silent contemplation he realized that Neville Longbottom had stood by his and Hermione's side through many different things throughout the year. While Harry may have never exactly thought of things in exact terms, it was safe to say that Neville Longbottom was his friend and was definitely someone he could trust and rely on. All things considered the other boy was willing to stand toe to toe against a Dementor with him. If there was someone else at Hogwarts Harry could trust, it was Neville.
Making a split second decision, Harry spoke again and perhaps changed the fate of his fellow Gryffindor.
"Neville, something happened when the Dementor tried to kiss me," Harry began while carefully observing the other boy. "When Hermione wakes up, I want to tell both of you all about it. But this needs to be kept just between us."
"Sure thing, Harry," Neville instantly replied. "You can count on me."
Madam Pomfrey seemed to be at her wits end the next afternoon. True to his word, Neville spread the information around Gryffindor Tower, and to their study group, after he was released in the morning. In response, the hospital wing seemed to be the most popular place in the entire castle that afternoon. It seemed as though every student in Gryffindor and every member of their study group had come to visit Hermione that afternoon, yet she hadn't woken up. The matron in charge of the hospital wing had allowed each person to visit Harry and the unconscious Hermione for a minute before she forcefully ejected them from the hospital wing.
Harry hadn't moved from her side, and thankfully Madam Pomfrey didn't make him either. Nobody had questioned why Harry had to stay in the healer's care since he seemed to be fine despite his near death encounter the night before. When Professor McGonagall had raised a question to Harry's presence, Madam Pomfrey had promptly replied he was staying there for further observation. Which left Oliver Wood, who had overheard the exchange, to remind Harry that their final game of the season was in two days and that Gryffindor would lose badly without him there and playing at his best. Not to pressure him or anything.
"She really is like Athena," Tracey Davis said when she and her friend Daphne Greengrass had dropped by,
"What do you mean?" Neville asked before Harry had the chance to do so himself.
"Well, Athena wasn't just the goddess of wisdom in all the greek myths," the girl replied with a small smirk on her face. "She was also depicted as the goddess of honorable war. Hermione definitely lives up to the nickname of Athena."
"Voldemort was there," Harry said in barely more than a whisper but it was more than loud enough for both girls to hear. "He's gone for now but he will be back."
"Are you trying to scare us, Harry?" Daphne asked, "Because it's really awful thing to do if you are."
"I just wanted you girls to be aware," Harry replied.
"Because we're Slytherins and Voldemort and his Death Eaters were as well?" Tracey asked with a strange look on her face.
"Not entirely," Harry truthfully responded. "Tracy, you're one of the few people that are brave enough to call him Voldemort instead of You-Know-Who. I personally know his followers come from all of the houses, including Gryffindor. But since you're in Slytherin who is defiant enough to call him by his name, I thought you should be as aware of the true situation as we are."
"How do you know this?" Daphne all but hissed in a low voice.
"Because we had the distinct privilege of meeting him face to face in the forbidden third floor corridor where he was trying to steal the Sorcerer's Stone," Neville jumped into the conversation from the other side of Hermione's hospital bed. Madam Pomfrey may have released the other boy, but that didn't mean she was going to restrict his visiting time as she had the majority of the student population. "Since the encounter with Voldemort happened at school and he was a Slytherin just as the two of you are, I can see why Harry thinks it is important for the two of you to know.
"Thank you for the warning," Tracey finally replied after intently staring at the two Gryffindor boys for what felt like an eternity to the two of them. "I will take it under advisement. Should we assume that we should keep this information to ourselves?"
"For right now that would probably be for the best," Harry responded thankful that they were at least taking him seriously.
The conversation after that point lead to happier topics.
On that day of final Quidditch match of the year, Hermione had yet to wake up, Harry was all set to forget playing in order to stay by Hermione's side. However, Neville and the Gryffindor Chasers would not let Harry sit the last game out.
"You don't understand, Harry," Angelina Johnson began, "this is more than just a game to the most of us. I know Oliver and a few other members of the team are hoping to go pro eventually. Every team win makes us look better for potential scouts!"
"Oliver is in fifth year," Harry countered, "He's got two whole seasons before he need to worry about going pro and anyone else has even more years than that before they graduate."
Angelina nearly jumped across the hospital bed Hermione was occupying in her attempt to strangle the younger seeker. Luckily for Harry and the unaware Hermione, Neville and the other two Chasers were able to keep her from launching herself at Harry.
"Harry, this is only your first year," Katie Bell, the second youngest player on the team began, "but we're the youngest team in the school. All the other houses had so much more experienced teams than ours. The fact that we are one snitch away from winning the house cup is like a miracle. It might not seem like a big deal to you but to the rest of us, and the rest of the house, this is the world."
"Gryffindor never has a shot at the House cup especially with Professor Snape taking points off all of us all for merely existing," Alicia continued. "The cup we value and love is the Quidditch cup. You can't take that away from us, Harry! We need you to win."
"Besides, I heard Oliver Wood was attempting to drown himself in the shower this morning when he realized you were still with Hermione," Neville said a sad tone to his voice. "If it weren't for Fred and George pulling him out, I don't even want to think about what would have happened."
"Please, Harry, we need you!" Angelina pleaded with tears sparkling in her eyes. In that moment, Harry Potter knew somehow, some way he would be doing as she wanted. He hated to see girls cry.
In the end, a compromise was met when Neville agreed to sit with Hermione while Harry was at the game. Gryffindor won, securing the Quidditch cup for the first time since Charlie Weasley was seeker. As it turned out, Charlie Weasley only left Hogwarts a year before Harry entered. When he asked what the big deal was if they only lost it one year, Oliver Wood gave him a strange look and told him, 'one year is one year too many with the Quidditch cup out of Gryffindor control.'
A/N: Hello, um long time no see? *Ducks rotten veggies* Well my New Year's resolution is to post this story at least once a month. If I can, I will post more frequently than that. As to why it took so long to post this, um, life, the death of a laptop with the only copy of this on it, and then not being happy with my attempt to rewrite it. I still think this isn't perfect but it's as good as it's going to get without the use of a time turner to resave the original copy to a storage drive before the loss of my laptop, that I had affectionately named George. My currently laptop (named Anko) is pretty sweet.
A big thank you to zephy and Yadlam-sama for their awesome beta work, without them all of the readers would be subjected to my horrible spelling… That is sometimes considered a fate worse than death. If anyone is interested in being a beta for me (since both zephy and Yadlam-sama are frequently as busy as I am with other things) please let me know.