Author's Note: Hello! I've decided to try to keep my chapters for this story a bit shorter than the ones I've written for Vengeance, because I know that long chapters can be intimidating or just plain tiring to read. Therefore, I'm going to make it a goal to keep these ones less lengthy.
Oh, and I feel less inspired, so these chapters will just have to go without titles. Hope you don't mind!
This story is set three years past Deathly Hallows. There are no more Horcruxes, but Voldemort didn't die in battle, so the war went on. And FRED DID NOT DIE :)
Disclaimer: I do not own any material from Harry Potter.
Enjoy! (and review!)
I duck behind a tree and pray that they didn't see my hiding place. The darkness helps, but it won't be enough. They'll find me eventually. I have to move.
There are so many of them. I'm worried that I won't make it out alive. But I'm more afraid for Harry—his survival depends on the tiny herb that I carefully tucked into the inner pocket of my robes mere minutes ago, and if I don't get to him within half an hour, a full recovery will be right near impossible.
My heart's beating so loudly that I find it hard to believe that they haven't heard it already.
I have to make it out of here alive, for Harry's sake. And for the sake of the wizarding world. We won't stop fighting if he dies, but without Harry, we'll all go down eventually. It's not a very positive outlook, but I've always prided myself on being realistic. I won't have false hope.
All I have to do is get past the boundary. I curse the Anti-Disapparition Jinx that was placed on Hogwarts grounds and wish that I could Disapparate from this spot. The Death Eaters must be covering the entire boundary around Hogwarts already.
Why are there so many?
"Expecto Patronum!" I hiss.
A silver otter shoots out of the end of my wand, and several Death Eaters race after it. I count to three before running in the opposite direction, hoping that my distraction will last just long enough.
What did I just say about harboring false hope?
I hear pounding footsteps almost right behind me, and I hold back a scream. I've always had terrible luck. Looks like tonight will be no different.
I push my legs faster and swerve to the right, dodging a hex that sets a tree on fire. I yelp and skirt that tree, firing a Jelly Legs Jinx back at the source of the hex, hoping it'll hit its mark. The sound of crashing through the undergrowth doesn't cease, and I know that I've missed.
"Protego!" I shout, and an unrecognized curse rebounds off my Shield Charm.
Momentarily distracted by my proximity to the Apparition Point, I hurtle right into someone's chest. I try to raise my wand against him, but he pins my arms to the sides, and I hear someone shout a Disarming Charm from the left.
My wand shoots out of my hand.
Then there are three flashes of green light fired in quick succession.
The Death Eater who'd been restraining me drops to the ground, followed by two more thuds. It's all silent.
"What's going on?" I hear a shout from far away.
Then someone's pinning a cloak around me from behind and pulling the hood over my head. I spin, trying to see who's helping me.
"Don't move," he hisses as he pushes the hood more securely over my head.
My wand is shoved back into my hand, and he gives me a rough shove toward the nearest Apparition Point. As I reach the spot, I turn around and see a Death Eater mask. My eyes widen, but he just gestures madly for me to leave.
Before I Disapparate, I mouth two words at him.
I appear on the doorstep of Grimmauld Place and bang on the door. It is thrown open, and Ron appears. He points his wand at me.
"What's your middle name?"
"Where are your parents?"
"Australia. They think their names are Wendell and Monica Wilkins," I reply readily.
He steps out of the way, and I hurry into the house. He shuts the door behind me.
"Did you get it?"
I nod and pull the tiny sprig out of my pocket to show him before running up the stairs toward Harry's bedroom on the second floor.
"How is he doing?"
"Not good. Getting paler by the minute," Ron says. "Ginny's looking after him."
"This will make him feel better."
I reach his room and knock on the door before pushing it open.
"Oh thank Merlin you're here, Hermione!" Ginny cries as I enter. "He's in lots of pain."
I move to the chair by his bedside and tug a leaf off the small plant.
"Harry, open up," I say.
He shakes his head weakly and tries to say something, but then he chokes and coughs up blood. He's worse than he was when I left him.
Ginny's sobbing openly now.
"Ron, hold his head still," I command.
Ron moves swiftly to Harry's bedside and holds his head in place. I pull his chin down to get his mouth open and gently insert the leaf under his tongue.
"This will keep him alive for another day. I'll go back downstairs to make the potion now. Ginny, make sure he doesn't swallow that leaf, or spit it out. Ron, come with me."
I hurry back down the stairs. Ron follows soon afterwards. As I reach the bottom of the steps, I slow my pace slightly to ask him a question.
"How many others have returned?"
"Fred, George, and Bill got back a few hours ago. They're not too hurt—nothing Mum couldn't fix, at least. They're all on the top floor. Bill's a wreck, though."
I enter the kitchen and pull a small cauldron out of a cabinet.
"Why's that?" I ask.
"Fleur. She didn't make it."
I'm hardly shocked—I'd expected some of us to die. But still, to hear that Fleur is gone…
I don't stop moving. I place the cauldron on the table and fill it about halfway with water. Then I turn to get some ingredients out of a cupboard.
"George said that loads of people were still fighting when they left."
"That's not what I asked you," I reply shortly.
"Luna was killed, and… and Professor Flitwick," Ron says, subdued.
"And that's all, at the moment?"
I glance at him in time to see him nod.
"That's just fantastic. I told all of you that this was an ambush, that it was a trap. Of course, you and Harry had to start pompously asserting that our numbers would be enough to counter theirs. Absolutely ridiculous! Now three of us are dead, and Harry's close enough to dead as well. If this potion doesn't work—"
"Wait—there's a possibility that it won't work?" Ron shouts, clearly horrified.
I glare at him. "It'll work," I say begrudgingly, to alleviate his fear. "But honestly, could you two have been more reckless?"
"Thank you, Hermione dear," Mrs. Weasley's voice drifts in from the entrance. "I couldn't have said it better myself. Ronald Weasley, you should be ashamed of yourself."
He blinks furiously. "It wasn't all my fault! Harry also—"
"Don't argue with me," says Mrs. Weasley. She approaches me. "Is Harry going to be all right?"
"Yes. The potion won't take more than an hour to brew. It'll take some time to have an effect, though. The pain will go away, but he won't be able to move for at least a week."
Ron's face falls. "Is it really that bad?"
"We're lucky that he'll survive at all—there was only one sprig left in Professor Snape's private stores. And I almost didn't make it back here alive."
Ron looks extremely guilty, and I almost feel bad for putting him down.
I suppose he meant well—Mundungus had told us that only three or four Death Eaters were hiding in the Leaky Cauldron. But when we arrived on the scene, dozens of them poured into the bar from Diagon Alley, and we were surrounded practically by an army. It's a wonder that people are still there, fighting.
I turn my attention back to squeezing the juice out of two Boom Berries. I pour the liquid into the cauldron and watch as it begins to bubble. Then I move it to the stove and point my wand at it.
The fire lights up, and I stir the concoction.
"Go stand by the door. I'm sure more of them will be arriving shortly," I say.
Ron leaves the room without protest, closing the kitchen door behind him.
"Are the Death Eaters still occupying Hogwarts?" Mrs. Weasley asks me.
I nod. "They kept the Anti-Disapparition Jinx in place, too. I barely made it out alive."
Mrs. Weasley pats my shoulder. "Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Not really. I'll finish this potion on my own. Do you need a potion for Fred, George, or Bill?"
"I'll just take some Blood-Replenishing Potion," Mrs. Weasley says. She opens up a cupboard to pull out a small bottle.
"When I'm done with this potion for Harry, I'll make some more. We'll probably need a lot more than that bottle for the others, when they get back."
"Thank you, dear."
She leaves the kitchen with the bottle, and I look at the thick, bubbling potion in the cauldron. Maybe I should have added more water, but it's too late at this point—this'll have to do. It looks a touch too thick, but I hope it'll be fine.
A few minutes later, Mrs. Weasley bustles back in.
"Do we still have any more of that Burn-Healing Paste?" she asks, opening the cupboard that contains our healing potions.
"Yes, I think it's on the top shelf," I reply. "Who got burned?"
"Remus," Mrs. Weasley replies.
I turn just in time to see Ron supporting Lupin into the room. Tonks follows the pair closely, an anxious look on her face. Her hair has turned white, and she looks almost aged with worry. I wonder if all Metamorphmagi express their worry this way.
Mrs. Weasley waves her wand, and a small wooden box floats down from the top shelf and into her hand. Tonk lets out a sigh of relief, immediately snatching the box from Mrs. Weasley and pulling the lid open. I pass her a small butter spreader, but she barely spares me a glance as she turns to her husband. Ron helps her pull Lupin's shirt off, and I hiss at the sight of his extensive burns across his left shoulder, torso, and the left side of his neck. Tonks starts spreading the thick orange paste over his burns, a very worried expression on her face.
I turn back to the potion and continue stirring. Damn that stupid Mundungus for getting us into that mess. What kind of a spy is he, anyway? Can he not count? Or did he fall asleep during his watch? I plan to wring his neck when this ordeal is over and the survivors all return to Grimmauld Place.
This is probably the worst aftermath of a battle that I've had to deal with since the beginning of the war. Three deaths, all in one night, and it's not even over yet. I'm sure that there will be more by the time the sun rises.
Miraculously, not many of us have died so far. Arthur Weasley passed at the Battle of Hogwarts, when the last Horcruxes were destroyed. Professor Snape was killed as well, but now we finally know that he was on our side, that he was Dumbledore's man to the end. I still can't believe the extent of his love for Harry's mother.
I wish someone could love me like that, but such a silly, girly wish has no place in a world like this.
I continue stirring the potion and think back to my narrow escape.
Perhaps Voldemort is losing support from his followers.
Who was the Death Eater who set me free? And why did he do it?
Author's Note: Yes, I know, it's obvious who the Death Eater is.
Review, review, review! We writers live for your reviews! At least, I do :)
Oh, and it'd be nice to know what you guys think about the length of this chapter. More manageable, yes?