Disclaimer: I own nothing.
Chapter One: Capture My Heart
Number twelve Grimauld Place was as silent and cold as the Burrow had never been. Members of the Order came and went at a moment's notice to deliver a quick message, or to coordinate new search areas with their comrades. The Weasley clan had been out in force, leading small bands of search parties in their futile attempt to locate its youngest member, Ginny.
Oh God! Hermione thought woefully as she struggled to hold back the onslaught of tears that welled at the corners of her eyes, what she would tell Harry when he awoke from this strange, magically induced state of unconsciousness. It had been three days since they had destroyed Voldemort's final horcrux; that damned snake, Nagini. Hermione thought of that night over and over she ran the memory though her mind looking for some clue that could explain Harry's current state.
The battle had been horrific to say the least. Harry and Ron too, had been magnificent. Ron had stood courageously over her injured form as he dueled with and eventually defeated three Death Eaters on his own. Harry was left the daunting task of killing Voldemort's vile pet, Nagini. The giant snake had reared and struck at Harry as he dived and weaved out of reach, all the while firing a ceaseless volley of curses that barely inflicted any damage on the enraged reptile.
What had seemed hours was most probably only mere moments as the drama had unfolded around her. Hermione had never felt so useless. She had been hit by the Cruciatus curse by Lucious Malfoy only moments after the three of them had entered one of the last chambers beneath Malfoy Manor. Her wand had been thrown from her hand as she had fallen writhing to the cold flagstone floor, sobbing and screaming in her agony. Abandoning their carefully laden plans, her heroic friends had flown to her defense. Unable to bring up a shield in time, Ron had leapt in front of the angry red jet of light, taking the curse upon himself as Harry threw a stunner with such force that it sent Malfoy cart wheeling through the air into the unforgiving stone of the chamber's wall. His head struck the wall with a sickening wet crunch, and he fell dead to the chamber floor. His once baleful eyes staring vacant and lifeless, a sneer still etched on his pale lips
Ron had stood over her limp form taking all the pain of the unforgivable curse upon himself. He still managed to fight off Dolohov long enough until Harry could arrive. Harry had turned from Malfoy's broken body in time to deliver an Incendio hex that caught Dolohov right between the eyes. Dolohov shrieked in agony as he tried vainly to extinguish the flames that engulfed his head. His hands blistered as he tried to beat out the rapidly expanding fire that was consuming his once imposing frame. Finally, blessedly … his cries of pain and anguish had subsided. With the merest of whimpers; Dolohov succumbed to the inevitable and fell to the floor, nothing more than a pile of smoldering ash.
Dolohov's cries had alerted the remaining Death Eaters who pounded into the chamber, their wands already drawn.
"The snake!" Ron had bellowed as he pushed Harry in the direction of Nagini where the fearsome snake lay coiled and waiting at the far corner of this dank and musty stone chamber. Ron brought up shield after shield has he tried to block the barrage of spells cast in his direction, not for himself the git, but in an effort to protect her from further harm. Barely able to move, her body still racked with the painful after effects of the Cruciatus curse, Hermione could do nothing but admire the efforts her two champions made on her behalf, that and curse herself silently for being such a girl!
Smartest witch of her age-hah! She thought back bitterly as she remembered the last events of that night.
Harry stalked Voldemort's foul reptile about the chamber in an intricate dance to the death. Ron both shielded her and assaulted the remaining Death Eaters with a never ending volley of his own curses, but he was rapidly tiring and beginning to give ground. Harry's strongest spells bounced harmlessly off of Nagini's magically enhanced scales as he bobbed and weaved about the chamber in a mad attempt to avoid the snake's venomous fangs as it continued to strike with increasing ferocity.
"Harry?" she had wailed, "The ceiling!" her voice had been little more than a feeble whisper, but he had heard and by the gleam that lit his intense green eyes, she knew he understood. At that instant, Ron grunted and fell to his knees. The sole remaining Death Eater took aim for the kill,
"No!" Harry screamed as he beheld his two friend's eminent demise. Harry launched himself into the air with reflexes honed on the quidditch field.
"Avada Kedavera !" the Death Eater howled in triumph as a green jet of light streaked from his wand toward Ron and Hermione. Harry in his desperation had launched himself between his friends and the Death Eater. His intention was to shield them with his own body and still rid them of this final horcrux. Harry twisted in the air and screamed "Reducto", his wand fired a crackling bolt of white energy into the ceiling above.
A deafening roar enveloped the chamber as the ceiling caved in upon the last Death Eater and the snake, crushing them beneath tons of ageless stone.
Hermione brushed Harry's sweat dampened locks from his forehead as she traced the outline of his lightning scar, standing out red and angry against his pale forehead. Her last recollection was the most awing and yet, troubling thing of all. She puzzled over those final moments over and over within her own mind... Why wasn't he dead?
Hermione had been sure that for the barest of moments that she had heard traces of phoenix song and had saw an intense golden light of fire fill the chamber as the ceiling had come crashing down around them. She had felt warm and safe within that flaming sphere as if she were cradled in her mother's arms. The strange glow had felt like warm breath upon her skin and there was something so familiar about the sensation, something that nagged intensely at her senses, but she couldn't quite place it though knew she had experienced it somewhere before.
What was it? Where had it come from? How had all those fallen stones managed to crush their enemies and leave them not only intact but had provided them a means to escape their stony prison .
The collapsed ceiling had left a gaping hole in the roof of Malfoy Manor. They had disapparated through the gaping hole left in the shattered ceiling's wake. She had been sure that Harry had caught at least part of the killing curse in his side at the time, but one of the falling boulders must have deflected the vile spell.
" Oh, Harry", she breathed remorsefully as she held his limp hand to her cheek, tears brimming in her eyes, "Why won't you wake up? How could you do it? We agreed, Harry. You swore an oath to us that you wouldn't place yourself in harm's way before the final battle. You swore that you'd let Ron and I shoulder this burden until you could face Voldemort."
Her voice was barely a whisper as she added in a sobbing whisper. "You can't leave us here can't win without you. We need you, Harry. Come back to us... Please."
A gentle hand grasped her shoulder pulling her from her thoughts and adding some much needed comfort to her wounded soul. She had never even heard Ron come into, once Sirius's, now Harry's bedroom. She had been lost in trying to will their friend to wake.
" Any change luv ?" He inquired. She gasped slightly even through her misery over Harry's condition. How long had she waited and hoped to hear him speak to her with such affection in his voice?
"No, he's still out, Ron. Madam Pomfrey is bedside herself trying to figure out what's wrong with him. She's been in and out of the room a dozen times during the night, so has everyone else for that matter. Madam Pomfrey said it's nothing physical that she can tell. She said it was like Harry was totally drained of his magic, his life force! She said he's barely hanging on." her voice caught as she began to sob again, clutching at Ron's hand where it rested on her shoulder, drawing comfort from his touch.
"He'll be alright ... Mione, he's always pulled through before. You won't let us down will ya mate?"
Ron tried to sound positive. He was hoping to lift her spirits; more than actually believing that he'd somehow reach his unconscious friend. His words sounded strained and hollow, even to his own ears.
"H-Have you found her yet?" Hermione managed to choke out between sniffles.
"Nah." he tried to make himself sound nonchalant so has to not add more burdens to her already troubled mind. "Don't worry about it Hermione, we'll find Ginny. The brothers and dad are out looking for her, along with the entire Order and half the aurors from the Ministry. Bloody hell, I even heard that Professor McGonagal is rallying the other professors to join in the search. We'll track her down."
Ginny had disappeared from the King's Cross station on her way home from Hogwart's this morning, despite all the Orders precautions. She had been on her way home for the Christmas break.
"Do you think the Death Eaters have her?" Hermione rasped, almost afraid to hear his answer.
"Can't see how, but what else could it be?" He shifted his weight nervously before continuing, "We should've of heard something by now, strange there wasn't any signs of a struggle at the train station. Other student's remember seeing her go through the invisible barrier, but no one remembers seeing her on the other side where mum and Bill were waiting for her."
Harry moaned softly in his sleep...
"You don't reckon he can hear us do you, Mione?" Ron whispered cautiously.
" N-No,.. I don't think so, but if anyone could in this condition…?" she trailed off. Moments later her eyes brightened briefly as she lit on an idea. She bent low to his ear and whispered, "Harry? Ginny's missing Harry. She needs you."
Harry stirred briefly and moaned softly again. She could see his eyes moving rapidly beneath his closed lids. He looked as if he were in the grips of a nightmare, but, almost as soon as he had reacted to her words, he seemed to slump down lower within himself. Harry's breathing became more shallow and his skin lost what little pallor it once had, if that was even possible as he was ghostly white already.
"I guess that answers that question!" Ron put in, shocked by his friend's display of emotion, especially in this diminished state. "I think you better try tact, Hermione. I don't think he could take another bit about Ginny right now."
" But he's always been so strong, Ron ." She added, hoping vainly that he would give her the go ahead to make another try at reaching Harry.
"Yeah,.. Yeah he is." Ron conceded before quickly amending. " but, not when it comes to Ginny. She's been his heart, Mione. Through all these months as we've searched and destroyed horcruxes. I think it's been the thought that one day he could actually find a way to be with Ginny that's been driving him forward. I know that they broke up and all, but, that's not what either of them wanted, not really, not at all. I couldn't believe he'd actually had the courage to break things off? I know I wouldn't have been that strong if it were you."
He kissed the top of her head and she leaned into him with a sigh of pleasure, burying her face into his side as Ron continued to express his thoughts .
"At first I was glad that Harry cared enough about Ginny to let her go, you know,..keep her safe and all. Lately though, I…?. When I see that fierce look he gets in his eye whenever he's confronted with one of us in danger, it's… well it's ... it's shocking really! You've seen him, it's like he's actually radiating power. I don't think there's anything he couldn't do when he gets like that."
"Well honestly Ronald," Hermione scolded, "Are you just realizing how much Harry loves and cares about us? We're everything to him, we're not just his friends, but his,. his family . He'd give his life for us without a second thought, and he knows we'd do the same for him, if it comes to that."
Ron kissed her cheek gently, trying to head off her rising temper. It would do Harry little good, or himself for that matter, if they were to start rowing now.
"I, I know but,... it's not the same with Ginny where Harry's concerned. His feelings for her are stronger , much stronger than they are for us." Ron spread his hands helplessly in front of himself struggling to explain where he was going with this.
" If he really does draw strength from love, you know, like what Dumbledore said, than can you imagine what he would be like, how strong he might become if it were Ginny in danger? I know he doesn't say much about it, but, he's been beating himself up ever since he broke things off with her last year, and she's been in a right state ever since. It's like they were, I dunno,. like they were...?"
"Soulmates." Hermione finished with a romantic sigh, as she grasped his hand tightly and pulled it to her cheek to emphasize her own feelings in that regard.
Ron chuckled softly at the implication. He leaned in and kissed her forehead gently, sending a tingle of warmth through her that brought a faint blush to her cheeks.
"Actually, I was gonna say that they were like two halves of the same heart."