009 : Bonds mended
The lake was hypnotizing to watch. Hermione sat on a large rock, her legs crossed, and she was throwing stones into the lake. It was hypnotizing. . .calling her. . . She watched in fascination as the ripples grew wider and wider, and wider-
"Fancy a dip in the lake, Granger?"
She was certain that it was Draco Malfoy, but the lake has the better view. Her eyes were transfixed as another bout of ripples started.
Then suddenly, she could see Malfoy's taunting face in the lake- "How about a dip?"
Hermione spun around so fast that she lost her balance and fell right in the lake.
Malfoy's voice surrounded her, echoing around, as she tried to swim back on shore. She kept falling. . .drowning. . .she couldn't breathe-it was so dark-
"And it will call back to you..."
Her consciousness was slipping.
"...make no mistake; and should you answer to it's call..."
She was suffocating- but up ahead, she could faintly see brightness.
"...you will be much worse than when you have first started..."
If she could only get to that light-
"...it may seem that you are getting better, but you are not..."
Her legs felt like dead weight. There was no chance. Malfoy's face came above her. Laughing at her. Sneering.
"You're cursed, Granger. You're mine. You're mine! You can never break my curse!"
No. NO! Get out of here... I need to get out of here!
"You are not getting better!"
Snape was suddenly beside her wearing an expression of concern. "I would not lie to cause you harm, Miss Granger."
He lifted his arms. Then very slowly, his hands made their way to her face.
They were floating in darkness, but Hermione could see Snape clearly like he was out in broad daylight.
His hands were warm. And his eyes were soft. . .gentle. . .
He opened his mouth, saying something that she couldn't hear. Then without warning, he was holding her in a vice grip. His face was twisted as he screamed with sadistic pleasure- "YOU'RE MINE!"
Hermione bolted upright, panting hard. Her forehead was dripping with cold sweat and her hair was tangled and plastered on her cheeks. It took her several seconds to recognize where she was. God, that was horrible, she thought in distress as she swiped the sweat from her forehead and pushed back her hair-
"Hermione? Are you alright?"
Hermione whirled to her side, startled, her hand flew up to where her heart was beating madly. "L-Lavender?" Her voice was shaky.
Lavender was staring at her, assessing, and when she spoke, her voice was filled with concern. "I've been trying to wake you up. . .are you all right? Would you like me to call Professor McGonagall?"
"No, thank you, though," said Hermione, trying to be convincing. It was probably not as convincing as she would like since the shakiness in her voice was still there. "I'm fine. Just a. . . nightmare. Go back to sleep."
"Are you sure? Because I-"
"No, really. Just something silly," she forced a laugh. "I'm fine."
"Well if you're sure. Er... Goodnight, then."
Sweet, merciful Merlin! What was that God-awful dream about? She was still breathing hard and her heart was pounding painfully under her ribs, like when they had first seen Fluffy. It eased somehow when Crookshanks came to her and curled by her side, although, sleep didn't come for her the rest of the night.
"Alright, Hermione?" asked Ron over breakfast.
"Blimey, look at you!" exclaimed Ron in between bites of his morning toast. "Been up late studying, haven't you?"
"If you must know," snapped Hermione. Most of the Gryffindors around them turned to look at the trio curiously and she hastened to lower her voice. "I've had a- I've just had trouble sleeping."
"Trouble sleeping?" interjected Harry, glancing sideways as to make sure no one was listening. "Is it the Huper?"
Hermione smiled fondly at the boys. Ever since the unfortunate detention gone wrong, the two of them were beyond overprotective. It was exasperating as much as it was endearing.
"No, Harry. Just restless, is all." And a horrid nightmare. Best not to tell them, though. As the boys went back to eating, Hermione turned her attention to the head table where her eyes immediately spotted the man dressed in black. She shivered as she remembered her dream, her nightmare. It was so vivid she could remember it play by play. . . The way his eyes had soften, the sound of his voice, Merlin, his hands. She flushed and her eyes went down to the tea cup clutched in her fingers.
"Maybe you've caught the flu, Hermione," piped in Ginny. "You're cheeks are a little red."
Harry and Neville were up by the lake when Hermione caught up to them. They had their break and agreed to that meeting place. She made her way up, noticing that Harry was reading a book, and she was certain it was that potion book, and Neville was alerted by her arrival. He waved at her and she waved back.
"You still have that book," said Hermione as she took a seat next to Harry, watching Neville fold his trousers so he could walk by the lake.
"Yeah, but you see, this guy is a genius. It's really quite fascinating-don't look at me like that, Hermione. It's safe, nothing dangerous, alright?"
Nothing dangerous. Hermione didn't believe it one bit. When the trio got back together, Harry confided to them the story behind his continuous success in potions. Much to Hermione's horror, and to Ron's approval. After that, she did her best to dissuade Harry from using the book, and when that didn't work, she made a mental note to look up the name 'Prince' in the library.
At least things were still steady. For now.
"I've been looking at the Marauders Map," Harry suddenly told her.
"Oh, Harry," Hermione gave him an exasperated look, "stop obsessing about him. Stop, Harry, just stop."
"But it's important," at the look she gave him, Harry complied, sighing loudly, "Alright. How about I tell you about what Dumbledore showed me?"
The Gryffindor common room was empty that night save for the trio. They were posed near the fireplace soaking in the warmth, an unusual silence hung in the air after Harry told them about Riddle's childhood. They were absorbing and digesting what they talked amongst themselves.
"What's the point in all of this?" Ron broke the silence. "Admittedly, it's all very interesting."
"Dunno," said Harry, "but he says it's important and it'll help me survive."
"I think it's fascinating," said Hermione earnestly. "It makes absolute sense to know as much about Voldemort as possible. How else will you find out about his weaknesses?"
Deciding it was time for bed, Ron got up. "Bloody hell! All my uniforms have shrunk," complained Ron. "Don't these trousers look a bit snugly? It's getting hard to move my legs," stretching and raising his leg up and down for emphasis.
"They didn't shrink, mate," chortled Harry.
"You could always transfigure them, Ron." said Hermione, then as an afterthought, she pulled out her wand and pointed it at him. Using her most officious tone, she added, "Here, let me do it."
With a flick of her wand, the tight-fitting trousers magically expanded.
"Is that what you do with your uniform, then?"
"No!" she replied, affronted. "Unlike you, I don't stuff down my mouth whatever food I see. Besides, I want to see for myself how much. . .how much I grew the past month."
Harry chortled receiving a glare from both Hermione and Ron. The red-head was still admiring his now loose-fitting uniform when he said in a careless manner, "You don't seem that big-Ow!"
A book connected sharply at the back of Ron's head. Hermione would never throw a book like that, but Ron was just asking for it. Of course she's not big. She was making sure to only eat sweets when she was most in need.
"Oi! What was that for?" asked Ron, rubbing the sore spot behind his head.
"You insensitive prat! You can't just say to a girl if she's big or not."
"That's rubbish. Look at me, I'm bloated!"
When Hermione didn't look impressed, he grumbled, "At least Harry's got the better end of this madness."
"What do you mean the better end? My arms are all Dudley-ish,"
"Trust me, mate. That's the right size for you. Not too skinny. Mum's outdone herself, I think."
"Yes, well, off to bed with us. We should get enough strength for another day of detention," dismissed Hermione.
"Ugh, don't remind me!" groaned Ron, as both boys went up their rooms.
A/N: There are a lot of things that I changed from the book to here. If you'll remember, when the trio were going back from Hogsmeade, there was an accident with Katie Bell. But since, in my story, the trio plus Draco had that unfortunate detention, I scraped out that incident with Katie and also some other things that would happen in the future chapters.
And, yes, for those who noticed, I got the timelines here jumbled. I'm re-reading book 6 again, just in case.
A/N 2: Some conversations between the trio were taken from the book (Riddle's past.)