Chapter One – Leaving Nothing Behind
"Tell me again, which books do we have?"
"We have 68 books in this bag I'm not repeating their names; I made a list of what's in here. Check it!"
"But what if we have missed something, something important?"
The brunette sighed wearily, bringing her slender hand to her forehead and massaging her temples. Hermione Granger was nineteen years old, the last surviving member of the 'golden trio' she had grown tall and beautiful in a willowy, pleasant sort of way which had deceived many an evil doer into thinking she was an easy target. On the contrary Miss Granger had been hardened by the war which had been raging for years, her reflexes were quick and her intelligence and skill unmatched by her contemporaries. She also had a sweetness of character, a lust for life and a constant pursuit of knowledge which made her an extremely formidable opponent.
"Albus please," a deep, velvety voice implored, "You must trust Granger's judgement and organization. If we cannot trust each other than who can we? Besides, on this mission we together are more important than any book we have with us." His voice had an almost pleading tone, begging the older wizard to understand him. Hermione smirked at her partner; he certainly was as loyal as his house colours suggested. Cedric was tall, with chiselled features and thick, tousled light brown hair. He, like Hermione had been altered by the war, though it had not changed him as much, he had not witnessed the same tragedy she had, although he had experienced far more than any young man of his age should have. He looked back at Hermione with a soft smile.
"You are right Cedric, I have always marvelled at your wisdom, it is far beyond your years, the pair of you" Dumbledore resigned, stroking his beard in thought surveying the library from his high backed armchair.
The experienced sorcerer spoke to his companions as equals, for he viewed them to be. They had been members The Order for years now and had become two of his most trusted allies, that, paired with their unrivalled determination and …youth was the reason they alone had been assigned this mission. Of course they had volunteered they felt it was their duty to save those they had lost. Hermione and Cedric had been paired in the order for over two years now, as was the custom in the Order of the Phoenix, everyone had a partner-someone to look out for them, to go on missions with… and to bring their bodies back. Cedric and Hermione had been thrown together at first- what with Harry and Ron being partners- and as such had taken time to adjust to each other's company and style of magic, but as their friendship and trust in each other grew so did the magic they were able to perform together. They worked ardently for months, improving themselves and their magic and they could now swear that they were a well-oiled machine, and very good friends to boot.
"I think we're ready," Cedric murmured. Hermione's eyebrows shot up and she cast a bewildered look at her friend. She was sat with her back leaning against the hard stone of the fireplace, on the floor surrounded by scrolls; she looked up to Cedric and Albus, her gaze shifting from one to another.
"I trust your judgement Cedric," the wizard said slowly, his mouth was thinner than usual but there was a look of determination in his ancient features.
"We have a few more things to settle before we can leave," Hermione informed them, rising from the floor and straightening her aching back with a satisfying crack. She perched herself on the arm of Cedric's chair, who slid his arm around her automatically, holding her steady though she did not need his assistance. "We cannot turn up looking like this," she said giving Albus a pointed look, before casting her eyes down at Cedric. "Well, maybe you can," she said observing his black slacks, white dress shirt, leather shoes and effortlessly 'preppy' hairstyle. He'd fit right in Hermione thought fondly, and small smile tugging at the corners of her lips. "Close your eyes Albus, you can't easily do this on yourself," she instructed. He obliged and Hermione brought her wand up in front of her and twirled it in a graceful circular motion around his face, she lowered her wand and her and Cedric watched in fascination as his hair turned slowly more auburn, shooting back into his head and his wrinkles become far less pronounced.
"How do you feel?" Cedric asked.
"Quite well thank you," he replied, prodding his cheek with one of his long fingers.
"Excellent," Hermione said happily as she walked over toward the fireplace where a large, gold, gilded mirror hung, with a sigh she stabbed her wand at her long wavy and slightly bushy hair. She watched with a slightly sad expression on her face as her disorderly mane of voluminous waves and curls sprang into large, sleek curls. With a roll of her wand over her hairline these curls swept away from her face in an elegant and quintessential forties style. With another sigh she moved her wand across her face and her lips were stained a cherry red and her eyebrows darkened into aristocratic arches. The last thing she did was point her wand half-heartedly at her jeans and vest top, cringing at the thought that she would be wearing skirts for a long time now. Once her outfit had changed into a red dress with a high neckline and flouncing skirt that ended at the knee she looked round to Cedric. "How much of an idiot do I look?" she asked.
"Not like an idiot at all, love. In a strange way it's suits you. Though you'll not be wanting of any male attention," he added with smirk, she just rolled her eyes in response.
"Are you ready?" Dumbledore asked solemnly. "Said all your goodbyes."
"There is no one to say goodbye to," Hermione said emotionlessly running her nails across her bottom lip, Cedric looked at the floor uneasily. Dumbledore nodded slightly, he knew they were right, they could not say goodbye to their parents or friends, they were all gone. In fact if they wanted to they couldn't even say farewell to the Dark Lord, he had gone down taking Harry and Ron with him. The world was torn into tribes of battling wizards and magical creatures, with the ministries fallen and no one in charge there was a constant battling for power and authority, with Britain at the heart of the conflict.
"In that case we shall waste no time," Dumbledore said coldly, brandishing his wand. The scrolls and books which were on the floor all flew into Hermione's small bag which she then put on so the strap was across her body.
"Let's begin," Cedric said softly, gazing at Hermione, trying to find some sort of emotion in her expression, he found none. There was only a mask in place. Dumbledore rose from his armchair and placed a hand on Hermione's shoulder; Hermione in turn grasped Cedric's hand tightly. He squeezed it back in reassurance, though he wasn't sure if it was more for her or him.
"On the count of three?" Dumbledore checked.
"One," Hermione said firmly with a nod.
"Two," Cedric said resolutely.
"Three," Dumbledore breathed. "Miscentur Tempus." His voice was barely audible but the spell from his wand was vigorous and it disturbed the two men's' hair, sending it flying backward as tendrils of a deep purple magic swept over them. Hermione's hair stayed defiantly in place owing to her previous spells.
"Now!" Dumbledore bellowed.
On his command the trio turned on the spot, still grasping hold of one another. Suddenly an odd heat started to burn within them, making them clench their eyes shut and grit their teeth in pain as it burned hotter and hotter somewhere deep within them. Their nerve endings felt like they were exploding inside of them, Hermione stole a desperate look at to Cedric as silent tears of pain streamed down her face, but she saw nothing that comforted her, just his face contorted with agony. Next there was an odd chilling spreading through their bodies, first it started in the tips of their fingers and toes slowly creeping up through their bodies until finally it quenched the inferno in their cores thus ceasing their torture. Their heads swung backward and they felt their feet being pushed out from underneath them, and that was the final thing Cedric or Hermione could remember.