This chapter is dedicated to my muse, Liz.
I can't remember when it was good
moments of happiness elude
maybe I just misunderstood
all of the love we left behind
watching the flash backs intertwine
memories I will never find
so I'll love whatever you become
and forget the reckless things we've done
I think our lives have just begun
I think our lives have just begun
and I'll feel my world crumbling
I'll feel my life crumbling
I'll feel my soul crumbling away
and falling away
falling away with you
~Falling away with you, Muse~
I end up on the ground with a loud clash. Pebbles and dirt cut through the skin of my palms and knees. I stay there, speechless, panting for a few minutes, trying to regain my focus. I finally use my knee as support to lift myself up, rubbing my sore back. Where am I? For God's sake. Where am I?
It's a forest… covered in snow. I suddenly discover I'm freezing. I transfigure my jacket into something thicker, that protects me from the wind.
"The only way to know where I am located is to exit from the woods." I tell myself, not sure if I spoke out loud or in my head.
"What do heroes in movie pictures do? Look for North?" I grab my wand and use a simple compass spell Snape had thought us.
"Well at least he was useful for something…"
I head where the pointer indicates : North. After maybe an hour of walk, a little weary and desperate to finally get out, I see the edge of the flocks of trees, they seem to stop there. I run towards the line of light and almost fall into a river coursing lower, at the periphery of the forest. It was a close call, the rocks don't seem too friendly from up here. And the water looks… arctic.
The whole place seems familiar though, not the place in itself, but the scenery. I can't help thinking I must be somewhere in the Scottish Highlands.
"Okay… I… don't know where to go from now on."
I sit down on a large mouldy log, by the white water.
I can't seem to think right, I still feel taken aback by what I just did, running away from Bella. Did I just run away from love? It's hard to say. My reason doesn't seem to agree with my heart on this.
I was sure I had seen it in her eyes, the longing she felt for me. But now that she's gone… that I'm gone, I can't recall if anything of it was real. I remember her touching me, I remember how good it felt, I remember begging her to do it again, and again, until nothing mattered anymore…
All of it vanished, the moment I took the quills in my hand. And what Narcissa had said, it was still confusing me, what if she was right? What if Bella was just using me?
I shake my head. No, it can't be. Bella loves me, I know she does, and I have never felt anything near to what I felt with her, with anyone before. If I believed in soulmates, that would be it. We would be it. But I left…I… left. The more I repeat it the worse I feel.
"I have to collect myself." I decide. I shouldn't be here rambling, I should be with Harry and Ron, and I should be with them now.
I know I can find them, if I put all my power to this task. I take a firm ground, placing my two feet level to my shoulders, and concentrate, deeply.
"You can do this." I tell myself. "Go ahead Hermione, find them."
Images of my two best friends' faces flood my mind. I see Harry smiling at me, his signature twinkle vibrant in his emerald eyes. I see Ron, his face freckled and his cheeks flushed, laughing about something our friend said. I turn on the spot. Nothingness overwhelms me, until I reappear to find new footing.
I am in another forest, though not on the hillside, the land here is rather even. I walk for a few feet before I hear voices that seem to be arguing with each other. I prick up my ears… they are male voices.
"Leave it! It's that damn thing again. You're an absolute git every time you wear it!" I hear a short distance away.
"Well I'd like to see YOU wearing it. You have an awful temper each time, but I have the decency to say nothing about it."
"You just… Ah, I can't speak with you when you're this stuck up, Harry."
When I hear my friend's name, a huge smile spreads on my lips, and I sprint towards the sound of Ron's voice. I see them look back in alarm, aware of the sound of my footsteps on the split roots. I make my presence known.
"Boys! It's me! I've come back! I'm here, Harry! Ron!"
"Hermione!" Ron's powerful voice booms from the other side and Harry emits a loud roar of delight.
Soon, they have both reached me, and I jump into their arms, messing up Ron's hair and Harry's glasses in my elation. I abruptly start crying: "I missed you both so much." I cry out. "I can't believe we're finally reunited!"
"We were so scared for you, 'Mione. We thought, we thought…"
"We thought you were dead." Harry completes, ever the candid one.
"You did? Well you certainly had reasons to, I mean, I didn't think I would come out of it alive either."
"We traced the one who captured you, Greyback, but we were never able to find out where he had sequestrated you." Ron says, bewildered.
"You've got to tell us everything, Harry says, but we've got to find somewhere to put the tent up first, settle down some place else. We'll fetch dinner for you. Ron'll cook." He adds, for a tad of humour.
"Yea right mate, Ron says ironically, though I'd do it for you 'Mione, but my cooking is just… too awful."
"I know Ron, I know." I say grinning and I rest a hand on his back. "You're right Harry, let's go."
"You WHAT?" Lucius Malfoy has never been so furious, and that is saying quite something. His ordinarily pale complexion has departed, his cheekbones are tinted crimson. His wife Narcissa is looking down at her hands, avoiding his gaze for the moment.
"Once again, I will repeat myself Lucius. I discovered the prisoner has disappeared, how many times shall I reiterate? She's gone, she has vanished from sight, is nowhere to be seen, do you understand? I had nothing to do with it, I merely left for half an hour, and the cellar was empty when I came back."
"You want me to swallow this, that nothing happened even if the prisoner escaped!" Lucius is hissing his words, raised to his full height, looking rather imposing and menacing.
"What more can I say? This is an unfortunate situation but nothing can be done. You can howl all you want, it won't bring the hostage back. Nothing will. She was even bright enough to achieve removing the spells that kept her wand hidden. She must be miles away at this hour."
"So you're saying no one else was here, and you left the Manor open to attack?" Lucius Malfoy is visibly fighting an urge to break something or hit someone. He is breathing hard enough that one can see his Adam apple pulsating.
"Well, now you mention it, I didn't. I recall Pettigrew was here, I even asked him if I could leave the Manor under his guard, he said yes. I was certain everything was in order…" Narcissa Malfoy shakes the blame off on the rat-like man with such an ease that it seems foolish to contradict her.
"That… MAN. That revolting man, I'm going to break his neck this time."
"Please, Lucius no. The poor chap must have meant nothing by it, you know he has always demonstrated negligence. I just thought such an elementary task as watching over an extremely well locked door was in his list of abilities, but it was my own mistake. Please don't castigate him on my behalf."
"Cissy, let me deal with this. One thing is positive, he will hear from me, before he hears from the Dark Lord… That girl was a golden token towards the Boy, our Lord will not be pleased, oh no he won't." Lucius is holding his wand in his slender right hand and tapping impatiently on his left palm with it, looking like he is on the verge of sending a hex.
Narcissa puts a hand on his shoulder, he always needs to be calmed by her, she is his tranquility pill, always has been. "Now, now, dear husband. Wait it out, maybe in a few hours' time you won't be so heated about it. At least now, we have one thing less to worry about, don't you think?"
"I think not, my dear wife, I think we have plenty more to worry about now. But you are partially right, I'll take some time to ponder what has just taken place. I'll be in the drawing room, and shall not be bothered for anything, unless it is the Dark Lord, or the girl that has been brought back."
"Of course, my darling. No one will even consider disturbing you, I'll make sure of it." She displays for him her fake comforting expression, that he always takes for cash, and leaves him alone in the room. Interiorly, she is smiling.
I kiss down my lover's stomach, halting to take special care of the beauty spot just above her navel.
"It tickles. What are you trying to do?" Bellatrix asks me. If her tone seems scolding, the smile that goes with it breaks the illusion.
"I'm making memories for when I'll need them in the future. I know something such exquisite as this cannot last forever. I'm being provident."
Bellatrix raises an eyebrow, visibly not of the same point of view.
"You're singular, but endearing." She decides.
"Yep, that's me. I won't tell you what you are though."
Bellatrix gasps and leaps on me, pinning my wrists on top of my head.
"You won't tell me because it's bad, is that it?" She has a manic sparkle in her eyes and a ravenous grin on.
I bite my lip to keep myself from laughing and turn cherry. I love it to be able to play without reservation with her like this. Bellatrix tightens her hold on me, squeezing my thighs between her own in a spider-like grip. I become aware of the lack of material separating us and of our entwined bodies so close to each other. I feel her nipples hardening against my own and warmth erupting between her legs. I moan, pulling her over me even tighter.
She reaches a hand between us and brings our sexes together. She gyrates her hips and I moan soundly, delirious with lust. Ah, ah Bella…
"Ah!" I just hit my head on the bedpost, I hadn't realised my dream was so vivid that I had started moaning aloud.
I quickly glance to the other side of the tent, checking if the boys have been awoken by my noises. I'm relieved to see they haven't.
"God… I don't know what goes through me like this. I can't get my mind off her." I bring my legs close to my body, gathering all the warmth I can around me in my own little security bubble. I don't feel so safe now when I'm without her, which in itself is illogical because where she is is normally where the most danger awaits.
I must be a fool. Falling in love with the enemy, isn't that rule number one of the things not to do? I can hear Albus Dumbledore's voice ringing in my head: "Happiness can be found even in the darkest of times, if one only remembers to turn on the light". What he had said at the great feast at the beginning of third year had stayed engraved in my head forever.
It applied to her perfectly. In the dark times I had been through, even if she was a major source of my pain at first, she had been the light that had helped me survive the experience. The month I had spent locked up like an animal and regularly starved had not been the end of my sanity, because I had seen hope in her eyes. The troubled, perilous eyes of the deranged Bellatrix Lestrange had been my last link to reality, the little thread that connected me with freedom. The freedom that her sister, instead of her, has given me.
I will have a hard time forgetting that she didn't think about releasing me first. My nights will probably hold little sleep, until I figure out what I really meant to her, and what she means to me.