Hermione's breath stopped sharply in her chest.
"Professor!" she shouted. "Professor Dumbledore, he's back!"
She turned toward Hagrid's hut, looking for the Headmaster, but he had already made it inside. Hermione turned back to face the forest, and saw nothing but a thick, uninterrupted line of evergreens. Where the box had just stood, there was only grass.
"Am I going mad?" Hermione asked herself. The box had just been there, she saw it. Dumbledore had seen it too, hadn't' he?
Without conscious decision, her feet began to carry her toward the line of trees, her pace quickening with every step. Reaching the forest, her heart sank. There was no sign that anything had been there moments ago. She knelt down, searching the grass for any sign of compression, but it was perfectly untouched.
She let out an exasperated sigh and stood up, wondering if she was in fact going mad. As she stood, however, something caught her eye. A small piece of folded parchment, no bigger than a Galleon, lay nestled amongst the blades of grass. She picked it up and unfolded it gingerly. The parchment was smooth as if it were brand new. In boyish print, it read
Astronomy tower; midnight
Her pulse quickened. There was no signature, but something told Hermione that she hadn't found it by accident. Smiling to herself, she tucked it carefully into her robes and headed back toward the castle.
"Well how do you know it's from him?" Ron asked through a mouthful of chicken.
"I told you, I saw it. I saw the blue box, I looked away for a moment, and when I turned back, it was gone. I ran over to where it was, and found this note."
"But Hermione, anyone could have left a note there. For all you know, you could go up to the Astronomy tower at midnight and find some third years snogging." Said Harry.
Hermione rolled her eyes.
"I told you, I just know. He was there, and he wants me to meet him at midnight."
They all sat in silence for a moment, sipping their pumpkin juice.
"Do you reckon it's safe?" Ron said. "I mean, Dumbledore says he knows the bloke, but how much does he really know about him? He could be working with You-Know-Who."
"Ron, please. He's a time traveling alien in a flying Muggle telephone box. Hardly Death Eater material."
"Ron's right." Harry said. "It may be a trap. Voldemort could be using him to gain your trust, maybe to get to me."
"Harry, not everything has to be about you." Hermione said hotly. "I'm sorry, but I just have a feeling, okay? He's not a Death Eater, I just know."
The three were silent, staring awkwardly down at their empty plates.
"Well, I would feel better about this if Ron and I could come with you. We could use the cloak" Harry said.
"Yes, alright," Said Hermione, standing. "Come on, let's go upstairs. Let's not forget about our Charms essay."
"Charms essay! Oh…" Ron moaned slumped his head to the table. . "I haven't even started!"
Hermione laughed. "Now why doesn't that surprise me?" She tugged on Ron's sleeve. "Come on then."
It was nearing midnight when the trio's essays were finally finished, Ron's was finished last, as usual.
"Alright, it's nearly midnight." Hermione said nervously.
"Should we go then?" asked Harry, throwing the cloak over his shoulders. "Ron, are you coming?"
Ron was sleeping soundly atop his finished essay, snoring quietly.
"I suppose not" said Hermione, chuckling. "Come on Harry, let's go."
They left the common room and Hermione slipped underneath the cloak with Harry. They had reached the Astronomy tower within 5 minutes, narrowly missing Filch's cat, who always seemed to see right through the Invisibility Cloak.
"Alright, it's midnight. Where is he?" Hermione checked her watch. 12:04. What if he didn't show? Just as a dull feeling of disappointment began to wash over her, a breeze swept through the room. Hermione's stomach flipped as the room filled with buzzing and whirring sounds.
"Harry! He's here!"
The Police box began to materialize in front of them.
"Blimey, Hermione, you were right." Harry remarked, stepping out from underneath the cloak.
The wind and noises stopped. Hermione held her breath, waiting. A few moments passed, nothing. She walked cautiously to the door of the box, and knocked.
"H-Hello? You wanted to meet me here?"
The door flew open with a bang, and Hermione jumped backward, startled.
The man with the blue suit and cockatoo hair stepped out, surrounded by a bit of smoke.
"Hello there!" he said, with bright enthusiasm. "Sorry about that! Having a little trouble with the old girl," he tapped the side of the box. "She seems to have trouble getting in this place, some kind of magical wall…Beside the point!" he extended his hand.
Hermione stared at it for a moment, then shook it gingerly.
"Why are you here?" she asked, staring into the man's dark brown eyes. "Why have you been following me my entire life?"
He stepped backward and raised his eyebrow. "Ah, you are as clever as Albus says! Brilliant, just brilliant! Ms. Granger," he took a step toward her.
"How would you like to travel with me?"