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Chapter 33

Hermione closed her eyes, struggling beneath the insane woman.

"Please, I didn't take it," Hermione whimpered. "Please..." she begged.

Bellatrix cackled. "I don't think so Mudblood. Don't lie to me," she hissed, pressing the knife into her arm deeper.

Hermione let out a screech. She wanted to die… she couldn't do this.

"Now tell me Mudblood, or else!" Bellatrix hissed in her ear, her hot breath washing over Hermione's face.

Hermione shook her head. "I told you…. It's…. a fake.." she managed to get out, but not before losing her breath. The hot tears rolled down her face as pain wracked her body.

"I'll find you," Bellatrix whispered in her ear. "Crucio!"

Hermione let out a blood curdling scream as the curse wracked through her body, feeling as though thousands of knives were stabbing into her.

"Hermione!" A voice shouted, shaking her. "Hermione, wake up!"

Hermione groggily opened her eyes. Abruptly, she sat up. Pansy and Ginny were looking at her with worried expressions. Her chest was heaving as she panted, her arms and legs shaking. She opened her mouth to speak, but found her throat was too sore to do so.

"Hermione, are you all right?" Ginny asked, holding onto the trembling girl's hand.

The door burst open and Blaise came in, followed by Professor Dumbledore and Charlie.

"Hermione," Charlie shouted, rushing over to her.

Hermione let out a sob, shaking still.

"I went and got the Headmaster," Blaise explained, coming over. All of the stood around the bed as Hermione continued to cry and shake.

"What exactly happened here?" Dumbledore asked, watching Hermione with interest.

Ginny bit her lip. "I'm not sure… we were all sleeping, and all of a sudden, I could just feel Hermione's body shaking beside me. And not just a little, but a lot." A tear rolled down her cheek. "I thought she was having a seizure or something! And then as I tried to wake her up, she started screaming. I couldn't get her to stop or wake up."

Blaise touched her shoulder comfortingly.

"She screamed for ten minutes straight," Pansy added.

Dumbledore moved closer, watching Hermione carefully. "Do you remember what happened?"

Hermione nodded, wiping away her tears. "I've had the nightmares before, but never as bad as this… it felt so real!"

"What was it?" He pressed.

"I was being tortured at the Manor…" She trailed off, shuddering. She closed her eyes, remembering the dream. "But it was different this time… Bellatrix said something…" She tried to remember.

Suddenly, her eyes flung open. "I'll find you." She trembled, remembering the witch's voice.

Dumbledore's face fell. "Are you sure?"

Hermione nodded. "That's something that didn't happen at the Manor. She never said those words, but I remember it clear as day, as if she was actually right next to me, whispering it into my ear." She shivered.

"Hermione, your arm!" Charlie said, just noticing the drops of blood on her bedspread.

Hermione turned her arm out and saw that her scar was red…. And bleeding.

"It looks as if it's just been written," Ginny said horrified.

Hermione looked to the Headmaster, her eyes wide with fright. "What's happening to me?" She cried.

Dumbledore stood. "I think we need to alert the Aurors. This is much graver than I had thought."

Hermione trembled, thankful when she felt Charlie's arms wrap around her tighter. "What should we do?"

Dumbledore sighed. "Tonight, nothing. Take a potion, and sleep the rest of the night. Charlie will remain here, but Ms. Parkinson and Ms. Weasley should return to their dorms. Mr. Zabini will escort you there. Tomorrow, we'll meet with the Order, and go from there."

Hermione nodded. A feeling of sadness sunk into her stomach. She knew a long fight was going to be ahead of them, and she wasn't ready for it… not now.

Everyone filed out, each sending Hermione looks of sympathy and fright. Once they were alone, Hermione started crying.

Charlie rocked her in his arms, trying to soothe her fears, although he knew it was useless.

"Bellatrix is going to come after me," Hermione whispered, fear wracking through her body.

"She's in Azkaban Hermione, you're safe." Charlie said, pressing a kiss to her temple.

Hermione shook her head. "No, she'll escape. I can just feel it." A sob escaped her lips. She turned to him, her eyes red from all the crying. "I'm so scared."

"I swear to Merlin Hermione that I'll do everything and anything I can to protect you," Charlie promised, before he captured her lips with his.

Hermione closed her eyes, allowing herself to get caught up in the kiss. She needed the distraction, and Charlie was only too happy to oblige.

He turned them so she was now laying beneath him, with him hovering over her. He kissed her tenderly, his hands gently caressing her body.

Hermione bucked her hips upward to meet his.

Charlie pulled back, looking at her. "Hermione, we shouldn't have sex right now."

She made a pouty face, but nodded. "I suppose you're right." Her hands snaked up and latched themselves to the back of his neck. "But we can kiss for a bit before bed, right?"

Charlie watched her attempt a smile, but fail. He moved closer, kissing her once more. Slowly and passionately, so she would know how much it was he loved her.

After a few moments, Charlie sat up. He moved to her bathroom, returning a few moments later. "Drink this," he said, holding out the draught.

Hermione took it, quickly knocking it back. She climbed under the covers, motioning for Charlie to join her. The two of them made themselves comfortable, snuggling up against one another.

"I'll keep you safe," Charlie said once more, pressing a kiss into her curls.

"Thanks," Hermione mumbled, drifting off to sleep.

"I wasn't there last time," Charlie whispered into the darkness, "But I am now, and I'm going to be a difference."