Hermione's Guide to Newfound Sorcery
"I believe in nothing
Not the end and not the start
I believe in nothing
Not the earth and not the stars
I believe in nothing
Not the day and not the dark
I believe in nothing
But the beating of our hearts
I believe in nothing
One hundred suns until we part
I believe in nothing
Not in sin and not in God
I believe in nothing
Not in peace and not in war
I believe in nothing
But the truth and who we are"
- 30 Seconds to Mars (100 Suns)
My body was limp, my pulse was racing, my vision was spinning — Hermione was here. She was here when I specifically told Remus to keep her safe. If this was his definition of safe, there must be a full moon outside. My screams radiated around the volcano, loud and bloodcurdling. Hermione's gaze left mine and I saw tears begin to flood her cheeks. There was a single slash through her left shoulder and blood was slowly pouring out of it. She had put up a fight to get to me but all it had done was get her into the clutches of the Death Eaters. I should be grateful, but not after what she had put me through. Not while I still loved her.
"Oh you foolish girl, I think you've just broken him." Voldemort said with a sneer that showed everything but remorse.
I looked straight at him. "Go to hell. Hermione shouldn't be punished. It's me you want, not her!"
"On the contrary," he said, walking over towards Hermione. "I want her very much."
He stopped a few inches away from her and shooed away one of the Death Eaters holding her up. The other took hold of her vacant arm and locked them both behind her back, forcing her to look up and into the lifeless eyes of my enemy. Her bottom lip was trembling.
"Such a pretty face," He said softly, "For a Mudblood." He held out a hand to touch her cheek and I exploded.
"DON'T TOUCH HER!"
He turned back to me and smirked. Then, as I fought helplessly against the two Death Eaters holding me, he traced a single line down her pale cheek. My stomach cured onto itself in disgust. Hermione looked repulsed as he pulled away. Then, she did something I didn't expect. She spat at him.
He remained motionless but his face showed an expression of revulsion. Before anyone could react, he sent a curse at Hermione that made her double over in pain and cry out. I made another go of escaping as I shouted his name "RIDDLE!"
Whoever was holding me back must have been a tank because I barely moved an inch. My shout still got his attention, though. He was looking at me through narrowed eyes. "Looks like your Mudblood got bile all over my robes, Potter."
"It's nothing more than you deserve, Riddle."
He recoiled at the use of his given name. "Be careful what you say, Potter, or she won't live to see the next sunrise."
I clamped my mouth shut, although it pained me to give him the satisfaction. It was all for Hermione. All for the unrequited feelings I had for her to keep her safe.
"Better." He said. "Now, we can get to business."
He turned back to Hermione and she craned her head to meet his gaze. I knew she wouldn't dare try anything rebellious again. She looked too weak to stand let alone consider inflicting more damage to herself.
"Hermione, is it?" He asked.
She was silent.
He gave a look of annoyance and raised his wand. She closed her eyes as the curse hit her, slicing a hole through her side. She bit her lip in pain and I nearly buckled over, almost sharing the blow.
"Now let me you ask this again. Your name is Hermione Granger, yes?"
She spoke through clenched teeth. "Yes."
"Good." He said approvingly. "Now tell me, Miss Granger, what is your relation to Mr. Potter over there?" He made a motion to me.
"It seems to me that you already know damn well what it is."
He made a slight motion with his wand and she let out another noise of pain. I couldn't tell what damage he had inflicted on her but I knew it was nothing to be taken lightly. She was putting up a strong fight. For me. I couldn't let her suffer any more knowing it was my fault.
"Hermione, please." I said weakly.
She looked over at me with intense eyes. "No, Harry, I will not conform to this snake."
"Tut, tut, Miss Granger." He said mockingly.
"You can kill me for all I care!" She said loudly. "Harry is more of a man than you'll ever be and when he defeats you—"
"Hermione—" I tried to interrupt.
She ignored me. "You will be nothing but dust and your so-called followers will be forced into lifelong imprisonment and death all because you chose to target an innocent boy and mark him. It doesn't matter if I die — I'm just a Muggleborn who was bonded with Harry out of pure fear. Kill me! Go on, get it over with!"
Voldemort's face twisted. "Well. It seems as though you do not grasp the seriousness of this situation. Oh, I will kill you, yes. But not before I get the one thing that fate has brought you here for."
"And who says I will do anything you say?"
He smiled and walked away from her. It took me a moment to realize that he was making a path for me. Hermione's eyes widened. I saw the wand pointed at me and braced myself for the torturing pain that encompassed me. "Crucio!"
Every muscle in my body began to convulse with pain. Fire spread through my veins. My bones ached with sudden heavy punctures. Everything began to darken around me as I felt the effects of the torture curse work its way into my being and grasp my sanity. I couldn't make out my surroundings as I tried to twist my limbs and rid myself of the pain. The Death Eaters still maintained their viselike grip on me as I flailed about. I could hear someone screaming, their loud noises muffled as if a glass covering separated them from me. It was only when the pain vanished did I realize it was not only me, but Hermione as well.
"STOP, STOP, PLEASE! I'LL TALK, I'LL TALK! PLEASE JUST DON'T HURT HARRY! PLEASE!"
I was as limp as a bag of bones. My vision was fading in and out of focus, though my glasses were still perched precariously atop my nose. Voldemort began walking back over to Hermione, his steps echoing loudly against my sensitive ears.
"Are you now willing to cooperate?"
She inhaled a large amount of breath. "Yes."
"Good. Now, tell me what your relation to Mr. Potter is."
"I… I'm his fiancée."
"And how did you become this way?"
"By magic. A spell cast over sixteen years ago."
"I see. And this bond was also aimed at the Order of the Phoenix?"
He paused, looking as if he was getting overly excited about something. "Excellent. Now, Miss Granger, would you mind reciting a few phrases for me."
She gritted her teeth. I wanted to tell her to say no, to refuse him and let me die. But my throat was dry and sore from the curse. "Not at all."
He held out his hand and a piece of rolled up parchment appeared into his clutches. He unfolded it and skimmed it over before reading it aloud. "I, Hermione Jane Granger."
"I, Hermione Jane Granger." She repeated shakily.
"Do hereby relent."
"Do hereby relent."
"The Magus Antecedo Connexio bond."
"The Magus Antecedo Connexio bond."
"At the command of Tom Marvolo Riddle and his followers."
"NO! HERMIONE DON'T!" I screamed, finally finding my voice. His plan became abundantly clear. He wanted Hermione to verbally give up the bond to save my life, making him stronger. "Not for me. Please."
She looked over at me, her eyes brimming with tears. "I have to. Especially for you. I love you, Harry."
I could feel my face contort to one of complete stupor. She loved me? "No…"
She nodded her head. "Always." Turning back to Voldemort, she uttered the last phrase before I could stop her. "At the command of Tom Marvolo Riddle and his followers."
Usually with the transference of magic, one would expect sparks or dancing colors or anything that signifies that it had taken place. This transference, however, had none of those. It didn't seem to bother Voldemort, though, because he chuckled to himself and turned to the crowd of Death Eaters and motioned for them to back up. They complied without hesitation and he turned over to face me with a curt nod. At once, the death grip left me and I collapsed onto the ground. I tried to move but my legs felt like jelly and all over my body screamed with tiredness.
There was a silence and I felt I had to fill it. If the only thing I had any control over now was my mouth, I sure as hell was going to use it.
"What do you want with our bond? You really think that's what you need to kill me?"
"Of course not. I could kill you without any additional magic. It's the added protections I had to get rid of."
"Added protections? What are you on about, Riddle?"
He sneered at the use of his name again, but his expression soon turned to one of mild amusement. "Don't tell me you didn't know of the protective spells that come along with bonds, Potter? You of all people should know of them. After all, the magic that saved your life sixteen years ago was spawned off of it."
My blank look was all the answer he needed.
"Oh, you thought I was going after your bond for more power! You silly, silly, boy. I already have all the power in the world. I am the most powerful wizard alive and you thought I was seeking more ways to dispose of you? As if you were a sort of threat to me?"
"I am a threat to you." I spat. "Otherwise, you wouldn't be so hard-pressed to kill me."
"You are nothing but a nuisance that must be disposed of."
"Then do it. Kill me."
His lip curled. "With pleasure."
He raised his wand and I made a grab for mine when I realized that I had dropped it on the floor earlier when the two Death Eaters grabbed me. I looked over at Hermione, who had grief-stricken look on her face as she struggled with her captor. I made a move to summon my wand but it was too late. Voldemort was too fast. His wand locked on me and he shouted the curse that had ended my parents and so many other's lives.
Everything happened so fast. The Death Eaters were all watching with such intensity that they didn't notice Hermione step on her captor's foot and make at a sprint towards me. Just as she was reaching me, a hand outstretched, the deathly green spell stopped in midair, almost as if time itself had frozen. Everyone in the room stilled, even Hermione, whose hand remained extended towards me. Voldemort had a dumbstruck look on his face as he looked between me and Hermione, making flailing movements with his wand arm, trying to move the green spot. But it just stayed put.
"Impossible!" He shouted.
I took advantage of the silent shock of the room to wandlessly summon my wand. It landed in my hand within seconds and I pointed at the frozen curse, going out on a whim. "Expelliarmus!"
My spell hit the curse and they collided in a large white explosion that was as bright as the sun. I felt a body press up against mine and knew it was Hermione, finally reaching me. I wrapped an arm around her and cast a protective charm around us. Through the opaque shield I could see chaos. Death Eaters were running around, colliding with each other and yelling at the top of their lungs. Red goo was seeping through cracks in the volcano's floor. Lava, I reasoned. But the thing that caught my attention the most was the heap on the floor being circled by a handful of robed Death Eaters. Voldemort's dead body.
I didn't have any time to rejoice. The ground was beginning to shake and I knew that we had to get out of here quickly if we valued our lives. Within minutes this room would be filled with scorching lava and anyone left in it would be burned alive. I removed the protective charm from around me and Hermione and grasped her hand with mine. We both began to run to the nearest exit at a sprint, passing any Death Eaters with ease. There were a few who aimed spells at us, but we both easily blocked them with Protego charms and had the advantage of being running targets. The exit came to us quickly but it was not without trouble.
A figure I knew all too well came running from our left, blocking the exit. Bellatrix Lestrange looked even more hysterical than usual, her hair all in disarray, her eyes wide with feral rage, and wet streaks clearly visible on her pale skin were lining her cheeks. The death of her master seemed to have taken away all the sanity she had left.
"If he is to die, so are you." She said in a low growl. "I must finish what the Dark Lord started. Yes. He would be most pleased with me."
"You don't want to do this, Bellatrix." I said.
"DO NOT TELL ME WHAT TO THINK HALF-BLOOD!" She screamed. "You and the rest of your kind are not worthy enough to breathe."
"You must be overjoyed at Voldemort's death, then."
"HOW DARE YOU!" She screamed "AVA—"
"Stupefy!" Hermione cut her off. The spell hit Bellatrix square in the chest and she fell backwards into the exit.
"Nice shot." I said admiringly, looking at her.
"Thanks." She replied, smiling tiredly. "Now come on, we have to get out of here!"
Our hands still firmly grasped in the others, we continued our run past the exit, not bothering to watch out for Bellatrix's unconscious body. I think I heard a few bones crack as I stepped on her hand. I didn't pay too much mind to it, though. If it was me who had used the spell against her, I wouldn't have been as kind as Hermione.
We made our way through the twisted corridors. The entire volcano was shaking now, rocks falling from the ceiling and pieces of the wall crumbling to nothing. Making another left down a particularly long corridor, we saw light at the end of the hall. We both picked up our pace to reach it but a particularly powerful rumble stopped us in our tracks. We had to press ourselves against a wall to stay balanced. Our brief pause was not brief enough, for just as the rumble subdued, the exit was covered up by a collapsing bunch of rocks.
"Damnit." I cursed. We would have to retrace our steps very carefully. And by the feel of that last tremor, we had to do it fast.
"Come on." I said as I tugged her arm back to where we came.
We reached another long passageway and saw a light at the end of it. We turned to look at each other and nodded, silently communicating what we were going to do. We broke out into a dead sprint, not wanting to lose the opportunity to get out of the erupting volcano. After we cleared the exit, we kept running, not bothering to look back. I finally paused at the shoreline and Hermione had to dig her feet into the ground in order not to send the two of us tumbling over.
"Why… did… we… stop?" She asked, very much out of breath.
"Because," I said, looking around the perimeter of the shore. "We can't possibly make it across the lake in time."
"So we're… just going… to stay here?" She asked, her hand now clutching what I assumed to be a stitch in her side.
"Don't be silly." I said. Pulling out my wand, I pointed it in the general direction I remembered leaving it.
I head a flying noise in the distance and smiled. Looking back at Hermione, I saw she had an aghast look on her face. "You can't be serious." She said breathily.
"Of course I'm serious." I said. "It's the only way we can get off the island quickly enough. Unless you feel like sprinting a mile of ice?"
She didn't respond. A few seconds later, I reached out my hand and my beloved Firebolt glided into it. I heard Hermione groan as I mounted it, motioning for her to join me. "But why do we have to fly?"
Another tremor shook the island and I planted my feet firmly on the ground as I looked up. At the tip of the volcano, lava was beginning to pour out. It was only a matter of moments before this entire island would be covered. Turning my gaze back on Hermione, I saw her face had gone white as she stared at the peak of the volcano.
"On second thought, flying sounds wonderful."
She ran over and mounted the Firebolt behind me. Her arms circled my waist and as soon as I felt them tighten, I kicked off from the sand. We soared up into the air and I heard Hermione let out a squeak. As much as I wanted to comfort her and apologize, I knew we didn't have the time. I had to focus on keeping us alive first. She buried her head into my shoulder, letting out shaky breaths onto my skin. I had to hold back the urge to shudder.
I heard rather than felt the volcano tremor again and knew that it was close to gone now. I selfishly hoped that everyone in there was dead. The icy wind was torture against my skin, feeling like a thousand knives stabbing me all over my body. But still I pressed on. I picked up the speed on the Firebolt and within two minutes of agonizing pain, I could see the shoreline of the apparition point clearly. Hermione was shivering ferociously and I could feel my own set coming on, threatening my steady hold on the broom. It took most of my will power and what little strength I had left to control myself.
I began to tilt the broom down as we hovered over the shoreline. As soon as my feet touched the ground, I let the shivers overwhelm me. Hermione still clung to my back as if glued there. We were so close. All that I needed to do now was apparate the two of us out of this godforsaken place.
"Hermione," I called gently. "You can let go now."
"C-can't." She replied. "T-t-too cold."
"I know." I said. "But if you let go and get off the broom, we can apparate to somewhere warm."
I felt her nod her head against my back. Her arms pulled back slowly and we both dismounted the broom. I clutched it in my left hand and held out my right for her to grab onto. She grasped it tightly and pressed herself into me. I squeezed her and looked ahead to what looked to be a mountain on fire. The volcano was now a sea of red lava and smoke and I watched with sick fascination up until the moment I apparated Hermione and I into darkness.
The tug of apparition still got to me and I held down the nausea as I adjusted both Hermione and I atop the steps of Number 12, Grimmauld Place. The weather outside was still cold and my hand felt like it weighed a hundred pounds as I lifted it to let us inside. The door swung open and we both trudged in, not even caring if we made a mess on the floor with our soaked shoes. I kicked the door shut behind us, minding Hermione still pressed against me, and it closed with a bang. The warmth of the house felt wonderful on my skin, but it didn't help the shivers still ever-present in my nerves.
"We're back…" I said weakly. "Hermione."
"Mm." She mumbled.
The sound of footfalls shook the house and within seconds, I saw Sirius in the entryway with a grin on his face. "Harry! Hermione! I knew it was you, I just knew it. MOONY, DUMBLEDORE, MOLLY, EVEYONE! IT'S THEM, THEY'RE BACK! I TOLD YOU!"
"So tired…" Hermione said, her weight pressing harder against my side.
"I know." I answered.
And just like that, Hermione became slack, no longer holding herself up. I swooped to pick her back up, my hands grabbing her side and holding her as best as I could against me. "Hermione," I called as I turned her face to look at me. Her eyes were sealed shut and she didn't appear to have heard me. "No… Hermione please wake up. Hermione!"
"What is it?" Sirius asked worriedly, rushing over to us.
"Hermione… she… she's not responding…." I said numbly. "Come on Hermione, don't do this to me! Wake up!"
"Let me take her." Sirius said. I looked at him warningly, feeling very protective of her and not wanting to let go. "I'll take her over by the fire. Warm her up. You can barely stand, Harry, you might drop her. I'll call Poppy right away, alright?"
I nodded, knowing it was the smart thing to do. I could already feel my legs getting wobbly. Sirius took Hermione gently from my grasp and hooked his arm around her knees to cradle her against his chest. She looked so frail in his arms. I felt my stomach churn and my eyes water at the sight of her. I followed him into the parlor where he laid her down on the sofa. I pulled up a chair next to her while Sirius made a fire and flooed Poppy Pomfrey, the Hogwarts nurse and trusted healer of the Order.
I brushed some hair away from Hermione's still face as I heard many more people enter the room, all saying words of thanks and prayers. Molly was the first to approach me. She seemed unaware of Hermione on the couch as she bent down to give me a bone crushing hug. I returned her embrace halfheartedly, my mind not entirely on her affections. I could sense that she knew something was wrong because when she pulled away, a question was beginning to form on her lips. My eyes returning back to the comatose girl on the couch said it all.
"Oh my heavens! What happened to her?" She asked worriedly, bending down to examine her.
"I don't know." I said softly. "One minute she was here and the next… she collapsed."
"Oh dear." She said. "Have you—"
"Sirius is contacting Poppy now." I interrupted.
She nodded and got up, walking on the other side of the couch. The next person to approach me was Remus. Instead of hugging me right away, he knew after Molly's discovery that now was not the time for celebration. He said nothing, only putting an arm on my shoulder as he looked forlornly at Hermione. Sirius's voice broke the silence.
"She'll be here in a moment."
I nodded numbly and felt Remus's hand leave me. "Harry, do you think you can come to the kitchen?"
"I'm not leaving her." I said simply.
"No. I've left her behind once. I'm not going to make that mistake again."
Silence followed my answer. No one dared speak another word. I took one of Hermione's cool hands in mine and squeezed, hoping beyond hope that she could feel me still with her. All the others looked on with silent, knowing looks. The crackling of floo flames a few moments later broke the thickening tension in the air. We all turned our heads and saw Poppy Pomfrey step out of the fireplace.
"Where is she?" She asked.
We all looked back over at the couch and she bustled over. She looked between Hermione and I and I predicted what she was about to say. "Mr. Potter, I must ask you to please leave me to see to my patient."
"No." I said simply.
"If you do not, then I will physically remove you myself. I cannot perform the necessary precautions with anyone else in the room, especially one attached to said patient."
"Now, Mr. Potter."
I sighed and removed my hand from Hermione's. I bent down and gave her a soft kiss on the forehead. "Please be alright. For me."
I felt Remus's hand back on my shoulder and allowed him to help me up. He led me, along with the rest of the crowd gathered in the parlor, to the kitchen. We all took a seat at the long table and I knotted my hands together atop the surface. Sirius and Remus took the seats on either side of me and for the first time since I arrived, I saw Dumbledore as he sat down in the chair across from me. I knew he was going to ask questions that I was obligated to answer. I owed him that much and more. But even so, right now I didn't feel much like talking.
"How did it end?" The old wizard asked. Every ear in the room perked at his first inquiry. It was the answer everyone wanted to hear.
There was a collective intake of breath. A few smiles broke out, some wide some small. Whispers were exchanged. Voldemort was gone, defeated by the Boy-Who-Lived. It was a time of celebration. Fireworks should be going off — parties planned. Everyone would be happy and free again. Except me. The one person who should be the most relieved was too busy worrying over the comatose state of his fiancée in the next room. Only when she was alright again could I even think about celebrating. It would all be worth it if she made it out alive — when she made it out alive. It was all I could do to put on a fake smile for the others even though they knew it wasn't genuine.
"I think it's best," Dumbledore said, causing the room to go silent once more. "That you all floo your families. Tell them that Voldemort is dead and Harry is alive and well with his friends and family."
They all knew it was Dumbledore's polite way of asking them to leave so he and I could talk. They all complied earnestly, of course. Molly was the first out the door, probably going upstairs to contact Arthur at work and send letters to her children. Remus was out after her, going to find Tonks who was probably asleep upstairs. That left me, Sirius, and Dumbledore.
"Sirius," Dumbledore said. "Floo Xenophilius Lovegood, would you? I think the Quibbler would be most excited to be the first to print the defeat of Voldemort."
"Yeah, sure." Sirius said, exiting the room with a meaningful look cast my way.
And then there were two. Dumbledore looked at me through his half-moon spectacles as if it was the first time we were meeting. His curious gaze made me squirm in my seat. "Tell me, Harry. How do you feel?"
He chuckled. "It is only natural, I suppose. Killing someone can take a toll on ones psyche."
"No." I said. "Not about that. I don't feel any remorse for killing him. It… it's Hermione."
"She was fine when we left. Just fine. I didn't… I didn't even ask if she was okay when we were on our way back."
"Surely you do not blame yourself?"
"Of course I do!" I snapped. "She followed me there! If it hadn't been for me, she would still be here!"
"My dear boy, who says she is gone?" He asked knowingly. "I have the fullest confidence that she will pull through and you will get the ending you deserve."
"And what ending is that?"
"A happy one."
I sighed bitterly. "What have I done to deserve a happy ending? I've pushed away the people I love, only to have them still get hurt in the long run. I endangered the lives of the entire Wizarding World just because of my scar. I—"
"That is exactly why you deserve a happy ending, Harry." He said with a smile. "You, more than anyone else, deserve to live a long and happy life with the people you love. It is not our past that makes us who we are, but how we resolve it to pave the way for the future. Your resolution has saved so many lives; it is unfair that you should think you deserve anything other than peace and happiness for the rest of your days."
"Then why do I feel so miserable?"
He didn't answer my question; instead, he changed the subject. "Tell me, Harry, how did our dear friend Mr. Riddle meet his end?"
"He…" I paused, trying to remember what exactly did happen. "He made Hermione give up our bond by reciting something off of a piece of parchment. It… it wasn't so he could use our bond for himself. He wanted to lift some sort of protection that was around Hermione and I."
"Of course." Dumbledore said wistfully. "It was foolish of me to not see past his selfish ways. What happened after that?"
"He tortured me in order to get Hermione to speak. I told her not to, but she felt her life was more worthless than mine. So she did. Afterwards, he tried to Avada me… but… Hermione escaped from the person holding her and she lifted her hand towards me and the curse… it stopped."
"Stopped?" Dumbledore seemed genuinely shocked at this.
"It froze in midair, like time had been frozen in that one spot. I shot a spell at it, trying to take advantage of the pause, and the spell exploded in white light."
"Fascinating." Dumbledore said breathily.
I looked into his bright blue eyes. "Do you know what caused that, Professor?"
He pressed his lips together. "I have some theories. Firstly, though, can you tell me if you saw anything transpire when Miss Granger verbally revoked your bond? Any traces of spellwork?"
I recalled the plainness of the moment, how I had been expecting something to happen but nothing ever did. "No. Nothing."
"It seems to me that Hermione did not give up your bond, because, if I am correct, you had no bond to give up."
"What do you mean? I didn't think anyone lifted the bond between us and that's why I had to go to London to find and protect Hermione in the first place."
"Oh there was indeed a bond between the two of you. But, it seems, that it had been revoked before you went to confront Voldemort."
"How is that possible?" I asked.
"Indeed." Dumbledore said with a twinkle in his eye. "Tell me, Harry, did you and Miss Granger partake in any questionable activities during your stay with the Grangers?"
"Pardon?" I asked.
He cleared his through. "Intercourse."
I blanched. "What… what… n-no! No, of course not. Why would you say…?" He raised an eyebrow at me. I felt color swim into my cheeks as I mumbled a distinct "Yes, sir."
He nodded. "It is as I thought. It seems to me that you and Miss Granger are married in the eyes of magic."
I stiffened. "W-what?"
"Yes, the bond that you and she had placed on you also transforms into a marriage bond when the couple chooses to consummate their relations. Back when the bond was used, the wedding was only for show and the real effects took place in the marriage bed. At which point the bond becomes stronger and becomes a form of love magic which you are familiar with."
I gulped down a large amount of air. "And you didn't tell us any of this before why?"
"We didn't deem it necessary to do so. None of us imagined that you would… well, I suppose you can fill in the blanks."
"Oh God…" I said, burying my head in my hands. I lifted my face only just to speak. "So you're telling me that the coma-ridden girl in the other room is not my fiancée but my wife?"
"Precisely." Dumbledore said, looking, if I wasn't mistaken, smug.
"Hermione is my wife…" I muttered to myself. "My wife is comatose and on the brink of death…"
"I would not say that, Harry. I believe she will be just fine."
"And how can you say that? She collapsed!" I yelled. "Oh Merlin…"
"Harry, my boy, do not fret over her. She is a strong witch. You should have confidence that she will pull through."
"I'm trying." I said. "It's just so damn hard when I saw her on the couch looking so… so pale."
"I understand. But have faith. You will have your happy ending, Harry. You will."
I was about to tell him where he could shove his "happy ending" when there was a small knock on the door. Dumbledore said for them to come in and Poppy Pomfrey poked through. The sight of her face caused a well of emotions to pass through me. I waited for her to speak with bated breath. She looked over at me.
"Come with me, Mr. Potter."
I turned back to Dumbledore for a moment and he simply smiled at me. I made myself get up and went out the door to follow the matron into the other room. The few seconds it took to reach the room were agonizing. Why couldn't she have just told me if Hermione was alright or not?
We entered the room and I saw that it looked unchanged. I could only see the back of the couch and the chair I had set next to it moved a few feet to the left. I looked back at Poppy in confusion, but she just motioned for me to continue walking. I did, but my steps were cautious ones. I did not know what awaited me on the other side. I did not want to think it was a lifeless body… oh, please let it not be that…
What awaited me on the other side was the most beautifully tragic picture I had ever seen. Her body was covered in a thick wool blanket that was pulled up to her neck. Her face was pale except for the slightly pink tinge to her cheeks and nose. But the most distinguishing feature was her eyes. Beautiful chocolate brown and fixed on me.
"Hermione. Thank Merlin."
I collapsed onto my knees and hugged her upper body to my chest. I could feel her smile where her lips met my hair. I pulled away after a moment and framed her face with my palms, not believing she was real. But she was. And she was smiling at me.
"She had some internal bleeding from a series of particularly nasty curses." I heard Poppy say behind us. "It's a good thing you called me when you did. A few more minutes and she would have been… yes. Well, I'll leave you two alone, then."
"Thank you, Madame Pomfrey." I said, looking at her with a grin.
She returned my smile. "You're very welcome, Mr. Potter."
And with that, she exited. I turned back to Hermione and caressed her face with my thumbs. She leaned into my touch. "I thought you were gone." I said softly.
"So did I." She replied. "That matron of yours knows how to do her job."
I felt a prickling behind my eyes. "Yeah."
"Oh Harry, don't cry."
I removed my hands from her face and viciously wiped at my eyes. "I'm not."
She giggled. "It's not a crime, you know."
"I know it's just… I'm so happy that you're alive and here."
"Well I couldn't very well leave my hero fiancé all by himself, could I?" She asked teasingly.
I bit my lip. "Actually, I have something to tell you about that."
She raised an eyebrow.
I pulled the chair I had been using previously and dragged it over to sit on. I then told her everything Dumbledore had relayed to me. The spell, the bond, the marriage, everything. Her eyes became wide and she adjusted her place on the couch. "You're telling me that we're married?"
"And I stopped the curse with the help of our marriage-love-bond-thing?"
She looked over at me curiously. "We're not like other couples, are we?"
I chuckled. "No." Then, something occurred to me. Something I had put in the back of my mind since our escape from the volcano. "Hermione?"
"About what you said in the volcano… did you mean it?"
"The part about you loving me."
A smile spread on her lips and her face brightened with color. "Every word. I love you, Harry."
"Then why did you tell me that nothing could ever happen between us?" I asked, remembering her words from earlier that day. My God had it really been earlier today?
She bowed her head, looking shameful. "I thought you and Kat were together. I saw her kiss you in the hall."
"What?" I asked. "Hermione, I would never get together with Kat, especially after what happened yesterday."
Her cheeks turned a bright shade of pink. "I should have known. Instead I only assumed what I saw to be the worst possible conclusion and pushed you away. If it hadn't been for my ignorance, we wouldn't have been in the volcano and running for our lives."
"If it hadn't been for you coming back for me, I would be dead." I told her sincerely. She looked up and met my eyes. "It doesn't do well to dwell in the past."
"So you forgive me for breaking your heart?"
Her face slackened and she nodded stiffly. "I suppose I d—"
"But I still love you all the same." I cut her off.
She looked back at me with wide eyes. "You do?"
I nodded, smiling softly. "Hermione, I nearly just lost you. I thought my world was falling apart. I couldn't even allow myself to feel relief that Voldemort was gone. The only thing on my mind was you and if you'd be alright… and how I'd never forgive myself if you died."
"But I didn't."
"No, you didn't." I agreed. "And now I'm so thankful to have you here with me that I can look past everything that we have put each other through. I love you, Hermione, and I doubt that I will ever stop. You've made me whole, something I didn't think anyone could do."
She smiled, her eyes watering. "I love you, too. So, so much."
A tear ran down her cheek and I bent down to kiss it away. Pulling back a fraction, I leaned down further to give her a chaste kiss on the lips. But the taste of her made me want to be anything but chaste. The kiss soon turned heated and when she pulled back, I wanted to shout in protest. She placed a finger on my lips, though, and moved her hand to the hem of the blanket, pulling it up and inviting me inside the covers. I complied with her request and snuggled inside. Placing my hands at her waist, I pulled our bodies together and reattached our lips, kissing her more fully than before. She wrapped her hands around my neck and held tight, embracing me. My tongue traced the hem of her lips and she opened for me, letting me back inside the wonder of her taste that I had missed so dearly.
She loved me. I loved her. All was right in the world.
Dumbledore was right; I did get my happy ending. It was Hermione.
I pulled back and she looked at me through hooded eyes. "Thank you."
She looked confused. "For what?"
"For giving me something worth living for."
A/N: And so it ends. I'm sorry it took so long to update but both my schedual and my beta's got mixed and it resulted in, well, this. I still don't know if there will be an Epilouge or not. I think I will wait a week and if I can think of a plot, I'll post one, if not, I'll mark the story as "Complete" on Sunday and call it a day. The soundtrack and score, for those who are interested, will be available sometime this weekend so check my website and my Tumblr for the links. Thank you guys so much for reading and reviewing this story! It has been one hell of a ride and I just want to express how amazing it has been, mostly because of you guys pushing me to go on. Also, thank you to my beta Vincent. Without him, this story wouldn't be nearly as neat or pretty. Seriously, he's my savior. As for now, I'll say goodbye. I love you all :)