Again, Disclaimer: I own nothing. JKR is brilliant. I am not. Yada Yada - on with it.
A/N: I know, I know. I lied. I said it would be done by Tuesday, horrible person over here I know. I felt for the longest while this story was falling into a funk of complete blasphemy, and I'm trying my hardest to get it out. Hopefully this chapter meets your expectations. And just so you know, there's a reason why there isn't much fighting in this chapter. But you'll figure out in the next... (: Please Review once you're finished!
Part 2: Breaking More Than Just Through the Doorway
Pacing in front of a long, portrait-less hallway, Luna twisted her sleeve in her sweaty fingers. The place where everything is hidden. The place where everything is hidden. The place, it's hidden. Please. The sound of stone crumbling made her eyes snap open suddenly. A large metallic looking door materialized before her very eyes and she bit her lip excitedly, checking the deserted corridor. She lunged toward the handle and thrust herself inside before she could decide against it, and slammed the door shut behind her.
With her back against the wall, she gasped seeing the Room had changed to mountains of lost items. Chairs, sofas, tables, closets, trunks, shelves and more were stacked in piles, somehow keeping isles for her sights to wander down.
Pushing her back off the door she picked up her wand arm, "Accio Rowena Ravenclaw's Lost Diadem." Before nothing could happen, Luna walked curiously down the first walkway, bending too and fro, keeping an eye out for anything peculiar. "How in the name of Nargles am I supposed to find something lost?" She rolled her blue eyes heavenward and continued on. It seemed like Gryffindors were too hasty.
Time could have passed into any great length, but the lone girl never noticed. The born Ravenclaw grinned noticing all the old wizarding artifacts the Room presented to her. Her objective to find a lost Horcrux was no longer on her mind. In all fairness, she would blame her eagerness to explore. Her eagerness slowed to a halt when something brushed her hair, a tingling sensation rising against her skin. With a stutter of her heartbeat, she spun with her wand raised and knocked her toe against a small bedside table. With a clatter almost too loud in the Room, she jumped again and pointed her wand accusingly at no one. She nervously giggled at own clumsiness.
Nothing was near her, even after she'd shouted. With her wand arm still outstretched, Luna looked down and moved the table with magic. It floated gracefully back into it's haggard position and she tilted her head, grinning.
"Self-Shuffling Cards. I haven't seen these in ages -" said Luna, tucking a strand of ginger hair behind her ear, and reaching out her fingers for the littered deck. Just as she bent, a crowd of blue soared past. Her neck upturned with an audible snap as she gasped and dove to the side. Hoards of blue Cornish Pixies raced, some snagging her long hair while others sniggered and began to cause terror.
Scuttling backwards on her hands and bottom, Luna abandoned the stack of cards and watched as six of the many Pixies grabbed a pushed over a towering couch. The small girl shrieked and backed into a large wooden frame, knocking it off kilter in her haste to hide from the falling towers of once hidden objects. "Immobulus." Luna pointed her wand toward the general area of where the chaos was tumbling, her face hidden in the crook of her elbow. One of the many blue winged creatures continued pulling at her scalp as she yelled out in pain when what felt like a large box fell on her lower leg.
With a wince, she smacked the creature from her face and said with as much anger as a Lovegood could, "Immobulus!" Luna sighed in relief when she no longer heard the sound of the devilish creatures. Instead, she noticed a large wooden table on her leg and her woolen sock under her school skirt had done nothing to hide her bleeding. Without another thought Luna raised the offending object off her leg and angrily allowed her wand arm to roughly throw it to the other side of the isle-way.
Again, Luna used her hands to crawl herself up. This time instead, her hand hit an irregular surface, one with a smooth circular object centered on a cold, rounded frame. Curiously she looked down to the carpet and her eyes widened comically when the Diadem of Rowena Ravenclaw was under her fingertips. "It must have fallen." Luna didn't sound as dreamy as she normally did. Her awe at the beautiful artifact that was once owned by her House's namesake was gone and replaced with a disgust at the small tiara that the Dark Lord had defiled.
She wasted no time in haphazardly climbing atop of her bad leg and pointed her wand at it. She took a deep breath, waiting for the right moment. 'Episkey.' Luna couldn't help but squeal in pain. Never did she enjoy using that spell. Grumbling, she kicked out her newly mended leg experimentally before she cleaned her sock and stumbled toward where her new 'Point Me' spell was headed. She had to find the others.
"Potter stinks - snakes, Crucio, Sectumsempra, Dark Lord?" Hermione let out an angered noise at the back of her throat. She stomped and crossed her arms, "Potions, Dumbledore, Death Eater ... Defense Against the Dark Arts!" The gargoyle didn't move. "You're joking, not a single one of those were right?"
"Rightfully so, Miss." Hermione wondered if she should have been shocked that it could talk. "Your guesses are futile."
"Can you give me a hint?" Hermione rushed, "I really need to speak with Professor Dumbledore's portrait. Please, it's urgent." She stared at the stone with, what she thought were puppy dog eyes, before she sent a worried look over her shoulder then to her wrist watch. She was wasting time.
Hermione's eyes widened, "That's all you're giving me? Not even a riddle? Hogwarts is losing it's touch." Hermione ignored the noise the stone gave her. "Alright. How about, Minerva? No - Tom Riddle, Snapes' parents? God, how the hell am I supposed to know those? Alright, how about Professor Vector or Hagrid, maybe Professor Lupin - oh! Sirius, James - no that can't be it..." She frowned to herself.
"You're giving me a headache. Just go up already."
Hermione looked up suddenly to see the gargoyle had already begun spinning upward and started forward. Catching her foot on the revolving steps, she asked, "Who was it? Was I close?"
"It was Lily."
Hermione tapped her foot, a crease appearing between her eyebrows as she kept revolving. "Curious."
"Blue bird!" Luna gasped, her once injured leg slightly lame, as she pushed farther through the moving crowd. It was about breakfast time, which meant everyone was moving to the Great Hall, if it wasn't for the fact of bleary eyed students, her own stomach's incessant growling was a good indication. A tall red haired Gryffindor across the hall, turned and caught her eyes.
"Hey, Starbug." Ron wrapped an arm around Luna's shoulders pulling her toward the side of the hallway.
Luna leaned against the wall, closing her eyes tiredly, "Where is he?" She felt a tap on her right shoulder and she nodded absently. "Good. I've got it."
Time seemed to stop. "Really?"
"No, I'm joking." Luna felt Ron chuckle as he ducked to hug her.
"Let's grab Herms then, we don't need to be here any longer. I know the plan was to get rid of it here, but Hogwarts gives me the creeps now." Ron looked over his shoulder nervously. The corridor was scarily quiet now that all the students had left.
Luna opened her eyes, "I agree." Grabbing Ron's hand spontaneously, she was glad she held on as he suddenly tore off down toward the staircase that led to the Headmasters office.
"Wait a minute." Both Ron and Luna turned to see Harry rolling up the Invisibility Cloak, holding the bent Marauders Map in one hand. "She's going towards the Great Hall." Harry looked up, half worried and curious before he took off toward the doors. "Neville's with her."
"What the hell is she playing at?" Ron said, seeming to tense before he pulled Luna none to lightly after Harry.
Luna squeezed his hand, to remind him she was still there. And very close to having her arm removed from her socket. "And this is the part where we all die." Ron knew she was joking, but for some reason he felt sick to his stomach and sped up.
Hermione never deviated from plans. Well, that's a lie. She did once actually, and it was in her third year. She decided to study for half an hour for each subject she was taking on Sunday night before the next week and after all her homework was done. Hermione didn't get any studying in because she fell asleep in library, her face on a large book. But that was really the only time. Her whole existence was settled on goals and plans; and yet, here she was. Deviating and very terrified.
She would definitely blame Dumbledore's portrait, but it was so untrue. Her old Headmaster had only told her what she wanted to hear and slipped in a little frightening news. Apparently Voldemort himself visited Hogwarts every week and a half. And she so brilliantly picked today to be the day to be here with Ron, Luna and Harry. She had been on her great escape (running as if she'd just been offered one of Hagrids rock cakes) to find Harry and get the hell out of Hogwarts before Luna decided to destroy the Horcrux here and now. Voldemort would surely go into uproar if he felt another Horcrux slip out of his grasp, and she didn't want any of them to be there when that happened.
Then that was when she got caught. By Neville Longbottom of all people, and she almost didn't recognize him. In any other situation, Hermione would have remembered him as the chubby boy she used to help in all his classes. Now, he resembled more of a sex god than the big toothed, lump of a boy, he used to be.
Hermione stuttered when he grabbed her around the waist and spun them, with her momentum; still her mind and heart rate kept going incredibly fast. "You know I like to help any student who needs it, but that's usually for situations that demand it. Why aren't you with the rest of the students in the Great Hall? I won't stand for student's putting themselves in danger just to be saved."
Neville took her by her upper arm and started walking briskly toward the staircase that led toward the meal hall. Hermione didn't have the capacity to say anything. Did she really look that different from school that he didn't recognize her? She stared up at the tall man with an incredulous look on her face. She didn't understand how he couldn't remember her, but holy hell did Neville grow up - he might have been a little bit taller than Ron for Merlin's sake! He looked so - so, oh my god. Hermione's eyes widened seeing he was wearing a set of black robes with a Hogwarts crest on the chest. She felt stupid, not coming to the only logical conclusion on her own - of course he wouldn't still be in school, the war had waged on for so long that they were all supposed to be a year gone. But did that really mean that Neville Longbottom the supposed 'mindless wonder' was a teacher at Hogwarts? Hermione gaped like a fish out of water and dragged her heals.
"Well, c'mon then. Let's hope they all haven't gone in and you're late or you might be subject to Headmaster Snape's wrath." Neville spat out the new Headmaster's name, earning a shocked look from the Hufflepuff brunette on his arm. "Please hurry up -" Hermione saw the doors down the long corridor before she gained her bearings and started protesting.
"Get your hands off me Neville!"
"I am a Professor here," Neville said glaring down at Hermione, "and we get in plenty of trouble for being called anything other than Professor. I don't care what you and your friends call us behind our backs, but you better start acting appropriately, and soon."
"Yes, well," Hermione tried yanking her arm from his fingers, "if you really knew who I was you wouldn't hesitate to let me smack you around." Neville snorted and started forward again. "I'm serious Neville! The way you treat women these days is astounding! Let me, go!" Hermione huffed, her arm was beginning to feel flustered with pain and she was sure Neville's fingers were imprinted on her skin. She really did bruise like a peach these days.
"I'll have you know that my husband will have your neck!" Hermione felt Neville suddenly yank her forward and turn more than a little confused. "Exactly, now let go of my arm and I won't hurt you that badly when I get a hold of my wand." Thinking of Harry - she inwardly winced wondering how she'd explain the finger sized bruises without him hunting down Neville.
"Your husband?" He looked down at Hermione who was trying to pry his hand off her arm. She huffed and stared at him pointedly. "But you're to young to have a husband."
"As a matter of fact Neville Longbottom, I'm a almost a year older than you. And if you'd like to have me set," Hermione lowered her voice, "Harry Potter, on you, I suggest you unhand me."
Neville's eye widened, "Hermione?"
"God Neville, what would your Gran think?" she said rubbing her sore arm.
"Hermione - Granger?"
"Yes!" the brunette shook her head, pulling out her wand. There was no way she was correcting him on her last name slip up. "What is your brain so filled with dirt you can't remember me? I certainly remember you, not exactly as you are now, but - really, have I changed that much?" Hermione felt herself blush as he stared at her with surprise filling his eyes. He quickly swooped down to hug her. She felt her face press into his chest and she blushed further before he quickly released her.
"Wait, what did you say about Harry?"
"Oh, that was nothing. Just something to get you to let me go." Hermione avoided his eyes. She couldn't believe she actually told him. It was sort of the truth, besides, she couldn't have a teacher at Hogwarts knowing that she and Harry were an item. That would just open a can of new worms for Voldemort.
"Somehow I don't believe you," Neville raised an eyebrow, "why would you sick Harry on me if you weren't serious? The Hermione I knew wouldn't lie."
"And the Neville I know wouldn't manhandle a woman to get them to eat their bloody breakfast," countered Hermione, "and I've had to learn, the war changes people obviously."
Neville's face darkened, "How's Ron, and Harry?"
"Good. You do know we're trying everything we can to fix this, right?" He sighed.
"Not many people believe that, but yes, I know. They think you three have run off to some tropical island, forgetting every Wizard and Witch out here."
"But we are!" Hermione looked at her wrist watch. She had a little less than an hour and a half left on her countdown. "Look, I'm kind of on a tight schedule. I need to find Harry."
"I'll help!" Suddenly Hermione was reminded of the small Neville she once knew. She didn't think long before she smiled and nodded.
"It'd be good to have a Professor on my side." She grinned seeing Neville blush before she took off down the Hallway, opposite the Great Hall. Neville caught her again. "What?"
"We need to go to the Great Hall."
She sounded exasperated, "We've been over this before Neville. I don't have time."
"You will when you find out he punishes when he doesn't get a head count." Neville held out a hand toward the Great Hall doors again. "Teachers as well. Sometimes it takes more than two hours. Do you have two hours?"
"No." Hermione huffed, looking back to her watch as Neville started tugging her arm again. "But I swear on my Hogwarts: A History, if I can't get out of here, I'll kill him myself."
"Students of Hogwarts, progress into your Houses and specifically categorized years. Immediately."
Even from outside the Great Hall, with the doors already closed, Harry could clearly hear the sound of Snape commanding the amount of students whos parents actually allowed them back to Hogwarts. He could just picture some of the braver students in older years groaning and making snide remarks under their breath while the younger ones hopped up from their breakfast to stand at attention. Again, Harry still found it surprising that there were students as young as eleven in this Voldemort-run-hell-hole.
Spotting a small witch with a rather tall man, Harry couldn't stop himself from running to her. If she went into the Great Hall, there was no telling if they were going to get out. "Hermione!" She turned, seeming relieved to see him accompanied by Ron and Luna.
He meant to give her a kiss, but she was quicker to plant one on his cheek, closer to the corner of his mouth. He'd have to ask her about it later.
She frowned, questioning him, "What happened to the cloak, you're supposed to be wearing it."
"You know how hard it is to run in it." Clutching at her elbows he smiled before engulfing her in a hug. She gave him a curious look, he was being rather touchy.
"Blimey, Neville?" Ron blinked at his old dorm mate. "You're taller than me!" Neville just chuckled and nodded at Harry before noticing the fourth member of their party.
Neville gaped at the other Gryffindor holding Ron's hand still. "Luna? Is - is that really ... Luna?"
"Hello Neville," her dreamy voice was back and she waved at him with the hand clutching Ron's.
"I thought you were, I thought -" Neville shook his head, disoriented.
"I'm sorry Neville. It was great to see you, but we really need to go." Harry smiled seeing his friend, but quickly wrapped Hermione in his arm and started to walk back toward the One-Eyed Witch passage way. He tucked the Marauders Map in his back pocket.
Neville nodded and sadly watched four of his friends begin to hurry down the hallway. Seeing them, even for only a little while, made his chest ache. He had been lost in his thoughts of his old school days while he pushed on the wooden doors leading to the Great Hall, he didn't have time to close them before an explosion went off.
Suddenly an array of bright spells were aimed at them. Luna flinched violently, ducking behind a suit of armor and taking Ron with her. Meanwhile, Hermione could barely hear over the commotion a screeched order from the Great Hall. It sounded unsurprisingly like a 'get them' with a hint of 'they're escaping'. She rolled her eyes, standing in the alcove that she and Harry had dived into, and watched Harry toss the cloak over himself, effectively disappearing.
"Stupify!" Ron cast thoughtlessly and bolted down the corridor first. Hermione couldn't help but be amazed, only Ron could cast spells perfectly when rushed and with no certain aim. He'd caught their old Potions Master and watched him land with a crunch against stone, crumpled.
"Defodio." Hermione waited until a pair of supposed teachers raced toward them before waving her wand. The stone floor caved in, sending more than a few robed figures to the dungeons. Waving to Luna quickly, they both took off after Ron and the natural blond narrowly missed a jet of blue light before Hermione grabbed her forearm, pulling her to the side, and ran faster.
The pointy looking witch Harry and Ron had run into earlier came from around the next corner. "Crucio!" Harry, who was following Luna, threw up a quick but powerful shield charm, while Luna disarmed and Hermione stunned her.
Stumbling down stairs, Hermione didn't once stop with Luna close by and Harry trailing behind them (his wand peeking from the cloak in case they needed it). Finally reaching the last stretch of corridor before the One-Eyed Witch statue they quickly dove for cover as three more Professors appeared.
"Expelliarmus," Luna shot a get of light from her wand, disarming her opponent, while Harry knocked the others out. He wanted to smile at Hermione's defensive strategy, being invisible really did give him an advantage.
Scuttling from their hiding spot, Luna noticed the statue was open before she dove in and Hermione followed feet first after her. An extra second passed by before it closed and Harry took of his cloak. The other three didn't wait to catch their breath before they suddenly took off back toward Honeydukes cellar.
Just over an three and a half hours later, with a new location to place their tent, another destroyed Horcrux under their belts and the protective enchantments in place, Harry and Hermione found themselves tucked away in their room. They had barely finished talking about Hermione's discussion with Dumbledore about Nagini's protection when she began sprouting off plans of attack. Hermione barely went on for two minutes before Harry mumbled his worries of sending her into battle. Instead of the onslaught of arguments he was sure she was going to give him, he'd found himself wrapped in her embrace.
That was half an hour ago.
Harry, felling boneless, looked down at his witch and thought of how her language as of late astounded him. It really shouldn't be that difficult to picture Hermione Jean tossing around cuss words every once in a while, but lately she'd been using them more. Not to mention she's cursed none stop when they reached Honeydukes all the way to their new hiding place. It must have been because almost nothing went according to plan, or maybe his and Ron's proximity had finally become a bad influence.
"Maybe we should get some soap for that mouth of yours," Harry whispered kissing Hermione's head endearingly. She smiled up and him, hooking her arms around his broad shoulders.
"I was so worried I'd lose you today," breathed Hermione and Harry kissed her cheek, heaving himself off her and rolling to his side. He went to make a comment about her never being able to get rid of him, when he noticed the unmistakable sight of blood staining their white sheets.
"Hermione," Harry sounded on the verge of being furious, "why didn't you tell me I hurt you. Circe, I know I can be over excited sometimes, but you have to tell me when I hurt you enough to make you bleed!"
"What are you talking about?" Hermione pushed his shoulder away from her, his face was close to hers as if trying to assess her expressions to see if she was in any pain. "I'm not hurt." Harry grabbed his wand from the bedside table and conjured a wet cloth. He cleaned his hips feeling sick with himself to be covered in her blood and ignored Hermione while gingerly wiping at her thighs. "Oh."
Harry rolled his eyes and glanced up at her, "Yeah, 'oh'." She pushed him away quickly. "Where are you going?"
"To use the loo," she said rushed, "nothing to worry about, I'll be right back." With a swift peck to his lips she grabbed her beaded bag, peaked out of the flap and sprinted toward where the small one-person bathroom was. Harry sat on the bed confused for a moment before he cleaned the stained sheets with a flick of his wrist.
He scowled. One minute a bloke could be blissfully happy, rejoicing that he and his young wife were unscathed and alive, and the next she would be running like a bat from hell only a moment after seeming so satisfyingly exhausted. What had just happened? Before he could gain his senses and complain loudly while running after her (after he put pants on of course) she returned wearing a small top with a pair of shorts.
"What was that all about?"
Hermione blushed, "I, erm," she sighed, "Harry, I don't really like talking to you about lady things -" Harry fixed her with a pointed stare so she continued, "But considering you look like your puppy just died ... don't worry, it's nothing, alright." She sat down next to him and frowned seeing him stare at her accusing. She bit her cheek to hold back from remarking about his 'trip to beyond' and how she should have justifications on keeping something from him. She stared back at him, his glasses slightly askew. She fixed them and huffed, "Fine. I just got my monthly. Just - calm down, alright? It happens every 30 days, more or less. Mine's just a, little late."
Harry sagged in relief. He may not know exactly what this 'monthly' entailed, but he was somewhat happy that she wasn't badly hurt. Or worse that he'd done damage to her.
"So this happens all the time?" He asked.
Hermione bristled, "Well of course not! Do you think I find out I'm on my period because I slept with someone?" She crossed her arms. Harry looked stricken.
"No, no! I didn't mean that way!" Harry apologized, "I just mean the fact that you - that you - well, the blood ..." Hermione rolled her brown eyes.
"Usually I find out when I use the morning loo," she blushed having to explain this to him. "Can we forget about it, Harry? Please."
"I agree." He rubbed the back of his neck nervously and lay on his back. Hermione followed his lead and stayed a couple inches from him before he turned on his side and hugged her to himself. He nuzzled her neck, "I feel under dressed."
"Maybe you should put some clothes on then," she said simply, giggling at his warm breath. He sighed and made a face before pulling on his pair of his only just discarded boxers and t-shirt.
Standing and looking down at her lying form, he suddenly knelt. He rested his arms on the mattress, professing. "I love you." Hermione smiled at him and nodded reaching up to kiss him.
"Love you too." Harry smiled happily, content to listen to the silence and watch her.
"I can't wait until all this is over." Hermione nodded again, humming as her eyes slipping closed.
It had been quite an eventful day, the unexpected duels that rang out at Hogwarts was terribly small but still shocking. Even when they got back their day didn't finish as Luna volunteered to destroy the Horcrux. All three of them stayed with her when she'd used one of the largest Baskalisk fangs to stab the Ravenclaw trinket and watched in horror as the small girl broke down in tears as a large black cloud of smoke released from the offending object.
Hermione was just about to start relaxing into slumber when the unmistakable sound of a furious Ron rang through the tent. Hermione and Harry shared a look, both grabbing more clothes when they heard him again.
"I'm warning you, touch her one more time and I'll -"
"You'll what, nancy boy? Disarm me with your manly charms?" It was a strangely pitched womans' voice. Hermione and Harry frowned, she sounded hauntingly familiar but it was not Luna who was speaking.
"You just keep your filthy hands off her!" Harry looked sharply at Hermione who was already running to the front of the tent in her pajamas, her wand at the ready. Harry was already running through his mind how any of their protective enchantments could have gone wrong. He didn't have enough time to shout after Hermione when the tent flap fell before her shriek was heard.
"For fucks sake!" Harry clambered from the tent and saw three wands pointed at him. With reflexes that even surprised himself, he disarmed the person nearest who was holding Ron back. His well aimed spell effectively let the red haired male to punch the scraggly man, but Harry was soon disarmed himself. He and Ron were both immediately grabbed.
"Fowl language will get you no where Potter, you should know that." Harry felt the sudden urge to vomit seeing Bellatrix Lestrange wave, bearing her yellow teeth, from behind a quivering Luna.
Okay, don't hate. I've already started the next bit. I know I've already said it once, but this time I'm serious when I say that a couple more chapters and this will all be over. :( Please, please review, I want to know how horribly you all think this was, or how awesome.. it's up to you. Just click the little button!