Author's Note: Thanks to all who've reviewed, faved, and alerted. I apologize for taking so so long to update. I'm still adjusting to college life, so I haven't had much time to write. But I finished off my freshman year well with a 3.51 GPA! I'm an engineering major, so I consider this pretty good. Although, I'm scheduled to take summer classes as well, so I apologize in advance if I take another long while to update. I also had to reread my own story because of how long it's been since I've updated. :P It's funny to read my author's notes and realize just how long it takes for me to update. Again, I apologize.
And a shout-out to Left FF for being the hundredth reviewer. Lots of Tomione scenes still to come. :D This is the first time a story of mine has gotten so many reviews so I'm very very happy. Let's see who'll be the 200th. You'll get a shout out too.
Like always, HAPPY READING!
FYI: All the events here are happening on the same day. The day after chapter 18.
Chapter 19: Clouds
The Burrow, a place which was formally filled with laughter and warmth, now felt like the coldest place on Earth. Fred, who attributed to much of the joy to the Weasley's, had perished in the devastating Battle of Hogwarts. Six weeks since then, not much had been said within the house. Arthur had been walking around outside alone while Molly never left her bed. It pained them greatly to have to bury one of their sons. His funeral was small, but Harry easily picked up on all the intense emotions in the atmosphere that day. How it made it official that Fred was gone and he wouldn't be seen ever again. Worse yet, Voldemort, the beast responsible for calamity striking the nation, was still on the loose and had taken Hermione with him.
As heavy as Fred's passing weighed on their conscience, he couldn't help but feel even more discomfort with the threat of Voldemort ready to strike at any moment. He was sure everybody else was feeling exactly the same. The Order of the Phoenix refused to let their guards down for more than a fraction of a second. Why was Voldemort taking so long to return? What could he possibly be planning? It was well known that he was alive now and was capable of storming Hogwarts again. No place was safe now. The Death Eaters continued to cause havoc all around, awaiting his return.
"How are we gonna get her back?" Ron had finally said to Harry.
Six weeks without speaking to each other, Harry jumped when Ron had randomly decided to speak with him. He had been sitting by the garden since morning. It was two hours passed midday now. He felt he needed some sun after so many days being spent within the Weasley's home. He noticed how much paler his skin had gotten. However, he didn't feel warm enough. It was spring now, but the clouds didn't seem to go away.
Ron sat down in the grass next to him. He slightly moved his head to look at Harry, but mainly kept his focus to the garden. Harry didn't respond right away, so Ron asked again, "Hermione, when are we going to get her?"
"We don't even know where Voldemort is, and unfortunately, she's with him." Harry responded a little irritably. How can Ron expect him to have a solution? If he did, he would have acted on it as soon as he had thought it up rather than walking around as a shell of his former self. It killed him that he didn't have a single answer to resolve things. Not even a clue. What the hell was Dumbledore thinking sending him on a mission where he had nothing to tackle it with?
Ron's face was beginning to redden at Harry's dejectedness.
"So what? Are we just going to let the bastard go free and let him do whatever he wants to her?" He said.
"Of course not, but while he's in hiding, there's nothing we can do. If we just wait, he'll come to us." Harry argued, but Ron seemed far from content with that answer.
"But what if by that time, he has disposed of her? I've already lost my brother. I'm not losing her too. All that time you spent with Dumbledore last year and you can't think of where this bastard is hiding?"
"It's not that simple-"
"No, but you need to try. You were able to figure out what his horcruxes were based on what you saw. He's obviously one of those symbolic psychopaths. Maybe he went back to a place that had some meaning to him."
"And what if he chose Albania? Even with magic, it would take use months to search every inch of the damn country?"
"Then we'll start small. I'm tired of just sitting here, waiting to see what he does first."
"I don't have a wand, remember. If we did find him, there's absolutely nothing I can do."
Not even a second after he had finished his sentence, he felt like he had been hit in the face with a bludger. He fell roughly on his back and Ron raised his right arm again, fist clenched, ready to strike again.
"So without a wand you're nothing?" Ron's fist collided with Harry's jaw once more. "Are we going to just let Voldemort screw us over because your wand is broken?" Then another hit.
"Are you bloody mad?" Harry rolled over to his stomach, spitting blood on the yellowish-green grass. Ron had stood up, looking ready to kick him.
"I can't believe after all the three of us have been through, this is how you're going to admit defeat." Ron had said full of contempt.
"Mind if I interrupt." Elliot had joined the scene. The rain cloud that had seemed forever stuck over the Burrow seemed to sharply affect his normal giddiness as well. His face was stern as he put himself between Ron and Harry. He looked more as an adult as ever rather than a fourteen year old.
"What do you want?" Ron barked at Elliot who was a few inches shorter.
"Hey mate, I agree with you. We should start looking for Voldemort rather than wait for him to come out. But don't kill your friend because he doesn't have the answers."
"So what do you suggest we do then?"
Elliot reached down to Harry to pull him up to his feet. It took more effort than he had anticipated. Ron sure had done a number to his face. His cheek was a deep reddish-purple and his lip had ripped on his teeth and was continuing to swell.
"I suggest that we give Mr. Potter a crash course on wandless magic. I doubt Olivander has gone back to his shop after what he has been through the past couple months. Even if he did, it's too risky to head to Diagon Alley right now."
"But were running out of time." Ron seemed genuinely worried. Elliot easily saw the pain in his eyes.
"It shouldn't take more than of couple of days of non-stop training for me to teach Harry." Elliot tried to smile.
Harry however could barely stand straight.
Two glasses of gin and tonic down, and a third one was on its way.
Dolohov never cared to be around muggles, but at this point, he didn't care to be around wizards either. Things were a little more stable on the non-magical side of town, though it seemed they could sense something was stirring. For the last couple of days, he had been spending the majority of his time in and out of muggle pubs. He was never a handsome fellow, but now he looked ghastly. Even more so than he did in Azkaban. He didn't want to feel anymore. More than half of his life had been filled with misery and woe. War, then prison, now war again? Why did he still feel such devotion to the Dark Arts? Maybe because it was all he knew. After Hogwarts, he couldn't see himself leading a normal life with a steady job and a family. Melinda had done well in crushing all of those dreams. Voldemort disgusted him now. He should have done everything in his power to destroy him.
Halfway down his third glass of gin, he began to wonder about Elliot. Did he even make it out of the castle alive? Probably. The boy was pretty resilient. A part of him wanted to go looking for him, but…another part of him just wanted to spend the rest of his life in a bottle. It was strange how recently he felt his life had lost all its purpose. Odd how seeing Elliot and Potter together made him feel this all of a sudden.
He downed the last half of his glass in a single gulp. The sweet burning sensation in his throat woke him up a bit, but soon brought him back to a state of calm. He then stood up, nearly fell back, but he was able to catch his balance.
"Add that one to my tab too, Roger." He slurred at the stout, balding bartender.
"Better pay up soon old man, or the only thing you'll be drinking here is your blood after I beat the crap out ya."
"Easy lad, easy." Dolohov stumbled out of the seedy pub. Pressed his whole body against the door before pulling it back.
Hermione no longer woke up from sleep feeling refreshed. It was like she waking up from a hangover every morning. Her head would usually hurt and eyes were always puffy. That morning when she was rolling to the other side of her bed, she collided with something harder than a pillow.
"Ah!" She screamed walking up the other person, nearly causing him to fall off the bed.
"Ah!" He screamed back.
She knew who would crawl into bed with her. Only one person had the ability to see her. Still, it didn't make her feel much better.
"What the hell are you doing?" She backed away from him, still in the mammoth bed.
"I just thought it would be nice to sleep here for a night." Tom sat up lazily, oddly fully clothed. Shirt, pants, socks; nothing that ought to make Hermione feel violated. Well, other than the fact that Tom just decided to crawl into bed with her and not say a thing.
"You are truly are mad." Hermione stood up from the bed.
"Why? Simply because I wanted to relax with the most beautiful woman I've seen in decades."
That's right. She was a woman now. How unfortunate that since that transition, so much had been going on that she didn't have time to stop and acknowledge it.
"By the way, how have you been feeling? Any morning sickness or any other pregnancy things?" He looked honestly interested, although with a touch of nervousness.
In all truthfulness, if she did feel any pregnancy related ills, she certainly couldn't tell. She had just been blaming all her fatigue on her present position, being Voldemort's prisoner.
"I can't really tell you that, Tom. I've been through a lot the past year."
He frowned, and then stood up from the bed. He walked over to her, but stopped an arm's distance away from her.
"How about I take you out for some fresh air? I think you'd agree with me that this house is a bit stifling, and its quite boring being here twenty-four hours a day." He said jadedly as he straightened his shirt.
"Where?" She eyed him suspiciously. There was no telling what his twisted mind was thinking of.
"I don't know. Somewhere outside of England. You pick."
She didn't know how to respond to this. It did occur to her however that it was probably a good idea for her to agree to this. For her, it could be. They'd be out somewhere in the open. She could act as though she was enjoying herself. He'd probably let his guard down again, and she could get away. Possibly with his wand. But where to pick?
"I'm sure as a man much older than me, I'm sure you should be able to make a sounder choice of a good vacationing spot." Her voice was sweet, but not overdone. He smiled a bit as he answered, "Based on what I've learned about you so far, I say you would like to go somewhere different. A place not over-flooded by tourists. Instead, you would like to go somewhere more open…remote."
Hermione blushed a bit. He was right. She never cared to go to anywhere typical. Not the Virgin Islands, Ibiza, Madrid, or even Paris. He was an amazing flirt. Had she not known what he was really like, she would've been entirely smitten.
"So where do you suppose I'd like to go then?"
He looked into her hazel eyes while thinking which caused her to blush even more.
"Hmm…I'm thinking maybe…Sweden?"
"Have you ever been there before?" She asked, a tad surprised by her answer.
"No, but I've had a slight interest in going. How about you?"
"Sweden sounds fine. When do we leave?"
Tom smiled as he bent down a little to kiss her check. He then whispered in her ear and said; "Why not now?"
Hermione slowly felt herself feeling lifted from the ground as she wrapped an arm tightly around Tom's waist.
A/N: So, what do you all think? Any questions, comments, or concerns? Just click on the box right below. Hope to see y'all soon. ;)