I'm not dead yet! Still working away. This one has been typed on my computer for ages, and I only now remembered it. There will be a big skip forward at the end of the chapter. Hopefully, I will be able to update more frequently. I'm working on my second masters, currently. And watching each episode and transcribing them word for word is a big undertaking. This is part of the reason for the big skip, including the fact that I am at chapter 17 and I would have had this story ending around chapter 35 otherwise. As it stands, I'd like it see it end at Chapter 25, and then pick up with a sequel that is already completely mapped out. I'm just itching to put it out there, but all good things come to those who wait. Anyway, enjoy!
Gwen awoke to Gaius tending her wounds. Her head was pounding. Gaius put down the tool he was using to apply medication and pressed a ball filled with, what she could only guess, was a numbing agent. The pain began to lessen. When he asked her what happened, it was hard to describe, hard to remember, really.
"I remember the guards walking me to my door. And then," she paused, "nothing."
He checked the bleeding. "Just a surface wound, you were lucky."
"Everyone talks about the coldness, but I don't feel cold at all."
Gaius' face turned grim. "You weren't attacked by the dorocha, Gwen."
Gwen's chest felt tight and suddenly the room seemed both too warm and too cold at the same time. "Then what?" She questioned. Did they have another enemy out there? Another spirit that could attack without being seen?
Gaius sat back from her and gazed at her contemplatively.
"Gaius." She pushed.
"I fear someone wanted to do you harm."
"Why?" She questioned.
"I don't know." He confessed.
"Well, surely if they did- they would have done a better job." Gwen attempted to dismiss this folly of thought.
"Maybe." Gaius agreed. He reached to place his healing clothe down. "But, cold blooded killing in suspicious. Best to leave you to the dorocha." He picked back up the brush he was using to apply salve. And Gwen was left to stare at her friend's face.
There was a long pause before Gaius spoke again. "Tell me, was Hermione out there with you when this all happened?"
Gwen's face shone with confusion. "Hermione? No. I've not seen her in hours. Not before my meeting with Agravaine."
Gaius hummed. "So, you did go and meet with him?"
The servant nodded. "I did, and Gaius." She paused as a coldness gripped her very insides. "I do not believe that he wishes me, the kingdom, or even Arthur well." They were silent for a time and Gaius reapplied the fabric ball. "Why did you ask about Hermione?" She was curious what her friend had to do with any of this.
Gaius' face became guarded and Gwen reached up and placed her hand on his arm. "Gaius, tell me."
He sighed. "I found her, badly injured not far from where I found you. She had been caught in an explosion. I fear that she may not survive her injuries."
"No." Gwen gasped unable or unwilling to believe the news. "I do not know what she was doing out there."
"I'm afraid that she may have followed you." The old man replied. "What did you speak about before your meeting with our Lord?"
Gwen paused, thinking for that was difficult at the moment. "I went to her with my concerns about Agravaine. She is one that alerted me to the possibility of him not being the kind and virtuous man that we've been led to believe."
Gaius put the items down and sat one hand over the other. "She may have sought to keep you safe from harm, and followed you home."
"But what could she have done to help me?" Gwen cried. "She is but a woman, against two guards- she's not that stupid."
"Hermione has her own ways at getting things done. She is a force of nature."
"Then, she'll survive." Gaius shook his head at Gwen's hopefulness.
"I am unsure. Her injuries are severe."
Gwen pushed herself upwards. "Then, I must see her." Gaius gently placed his hands upon her shoulders and pressured her back to rest.
"She must be kept completely isolated from germs. I fear the injuries have left her completely vulnerable to infections."
Gwen could do nothing but sit back and wait. They could do nothing but wait. It was up to Hermione now. To survive.
Hermione found herself drifting in the rift. A flash of light made her blink and when she opened her eyes a vision sat before her.
She was garbed in medieval clothes and was heavily pregnant. That was a shock. She sat by the hearth and had her hands over her belly. She couldn't tell how much time had passed since this image, though it could only be the future. This didn't surprise her, it was not the first glimpse forward in time that had occurred.
Her future self was whispering something. Hermione gingerly stepped forward again and again until she was near enough. "Emrys or Emrysa after your father. That is what we shall call you. I believe William would approve."
She was immediately torn away from the image and flung forward violently. She screamed No! Bring her back to her child! She wanted, no she needed to see more. It wasn't fair! If that was to be her future, she wanted more information. Her spirit yearned for that image in a way that it had never yearned for anything. She was going to become a parent. She wept.
"Who's there?" The voice was startled and Hermione wiped away her tears. She was in a run down room that smelt awfully of mold and old blood. The walls were so familiar. She turned around and gazed before realizing she was in the kitchen at Grimmauld Place.
"I won't answer until I can see you. Who are you?" She replied back. She would not be bossed around by someone she could not even see. From around the corner wall, a head of blonde hair and silver eyes creeped out.
"I can't see who you are." A wand was held up at the location where her neck would be, if she was corporal. Looking down, Hermione saw herself as she must be being seen, a ball of golden light.
"Draco Malfoy." She stated. He looked much worse than she had ever seen him. He must have been hiding in this place.
There was a look of arrogance mingled with terror. "I don't use that name much these days. It's not safe. Who are you, oh mystical magical bouncing ball of light?" The sarcasm was there, even if shaky.
Hermione laughed. "I'm someone who you should know. You used to hear my voice almost every day while we were in school."
There was a slow pause and a heavy silence as Draco mulled over the possibilities. "Granger?" He called cautiously.
Hermione nodded before realizing that the moment was near useless. "Yes." She amended herself. "How is everything going? I don't know what year it is, or anything."
Draco didn't lower his wand. "How can I be so sure that you are Hermione, she has been seen or heard from in years."
That hurt. A sharp pain tore through Hermione's heart. Years. "We only know she's still alive because the dark side would have made an example out of her, and Potter claimed to have an experience much like this one once."
Hermione would have applauded him for such diligence and cautiousness. Right now, though she wanted to throttle him. "You should believe me because I would deck you again right now if I could."
Surprisingly, a smile lit his gaunt features. "Sounds about right." He lowered his wand.
"Where are you? Potter said that you were in the past."
Hermione made a noise of agreement. "I am stuck here and so far have found no way of returning.
"But you're alive." Draco confirmed. "Are you harmed?"
Hermione thought back to her reality. "I may be. I'm not exactly sure at the moment. I was in a battle and as a last resort blew up some barrels of flour."
Draco's face squished. "Flour?"
Hermione shrugged, or as much as golden light could shrug. "When flour is kept under significant amounts of pressure and then is lit on fire, it goes off with as much force as a pretty decently sized bomb."
The former Slytherin put his hands up in a 'surrender' position. "I believe you."
"How is everything there?" Hermione asked, eager to change the subject away from whether or not she was still alive.
Draco's face grew dark again. "Pretty bad. Hogwarts is still open, and is one of the only safe havens around. Students can't go by the express any more to get to school. The ministry is over run, basically everywhere is over run. Potter's off on the good ship 'Bloody Fuck out of Here'."
"Harry's still on that ship?" Hermione asked, and Draco shrugged.
"I'm not sure what Starkid Potter is doing, but I'm also not sure what it has to do with the war effort."
Hermione felt a tug behind her naval much like a portkey. No. She wanted to stay. Anything was better than the pain she knew would be coming upon return to her own body.
"I have to go." She said. "I may not ever be able to return. I'm not sure. But please, Draco. Let everyone know that my thoughts are with them."
Draco let through a smile that was rare, and most definitely appreciated. "I'll do that and Granger?" She was already fading away. "Stay safe and try to come back."
Hermione was gone, being pulled back through time and towards her own body. She second that she hit it her eyes refused to open and knives were being driven into every pore of her body.
"I want to pay tribute to Sir Lancelot. We owe him a great debt. It is not just his deed that we will never forget. It is his courage. His compassion. His unselfish heart. He is the most noble knight that I have ever known and he gave his life for all of us."
Merlin woke with a start to screaming. He had barely slept, barely ate. Lancelot was dead and it was his fault. But, Hermione. Oh gods. Upon his arrival, Gwen and Gaius had told him of the previous events.
It had been touch and go in the four days since their return. In the seven days since the attack, Hermione had not woken. Her condition had worsened and they had almost lost her but by the grace of magic they had been able to bring her back.
Her eyes, horrible burned were bandaged. Her body had suffered a carnage of flames that had left her arms and torso free from skin. He, Gaius, and Gwen had worked tirelessly to rebandage every wound, fight down ever infection and sit with her through every fever.
The screaming was her. He dared not touch her, knowing the immense pain that she must be suffering. Burns were most horrific. Gaius rushed into the room with vials and went to work pouring them over exposed skin, to help with soothing and then holding vials to her lips for her to drink. Merlin was powerless. He was a coward. He hadn't been able to help anyone.
Soon, through Gaius' ministering, she was sleeping again albeit without much peace. Merlin moved to sit at his desk and Gaius descended back to his workroom with nary a word to Merlin. The grief was too near for both of them. The thought that Hermione may not make it.
Merlin heard a door open and the vague sound of Gaius speaking to someone who could only be Lord Agravaine. "-man of great wisdom." He caught as he approached the door cautiously. "Have you ever come across a sorcerer named Emrys?"
Gaius did not pause in his work, the complete image of innocence. He gazed up at Lord Agravaine with the complicity of a sheep. "No, I haven't."
"Well, if you've hear of him." The steward began.
"I'll be sure to tell you." Gaius finished.
"It will not go unrewarded!" Agravaine assured as he left the chambers.
Merlin trotted down the few short stairs into the main room and met the eyes of his mentor. "There's only one person who could have heard that name. Morgana. We know her powers are growing, she too must have seen the Caelics."
"But Agravaine?" Merlin questioned.
"I suspect that he may not be as virtuous as he seems. And do not forget, he has every reason to despise Uther. We must beware, Merlin. Morgana can never know the truth. She must never know who you really are."
Hermione screamed over and over through a heavily bit leather strap. She had been missing so much. Her recovery was taking months. They were now at a stage in her recovery called 'debridement'. Another scream followed and Gaius leaned back with his tweezers to take a break.
It was at these times that Merlin was not allowed in his chambers. Both men had taken to sleeping in the general infirmary room and Hermione was staying in the man servant's room. Hermione didn't want him to watch the grueling and frankly, disgusting process that was debridement. When a burn wound was healing, each layer of dead skin had to be removed in order to fight back against further necropsy. When she and Gaius had devised her recovery plan, this point was decided to be completely necessary.
It was the single most painful experience of her life, and she had suffered greatly in the past. Her flesh was being repeatedly removed every day. This session had already lasted well over a half-hour, however it felt like an eternity.
The old man applied healing salve to her burns and wiped the tears from her face. Her face had been left scathe free. Most likely from being face down in the dirt. Her shoulders, back, arms, and back of her legs were significantly covered in burns.
Through it all, her Mudblood scar shown strong. Nothing, it seemed, could remove the image from her flesh. She was not a vain person, however even she did not want more scars- though doubtless she would not have a choice.
Her days were filled with visits from friends, Merlin, and sessions with Gaius debriding and working on her healing process. She still had a very long road ahead of her. They had estimated six months to partial recovery of the use of her limbs. She would most likely have irreparable nerve damage, however nothing was certain until she was further in her healing process. She still had at least another month if not two before they would know for certain how much of her old life she would be able to resume.
Both Gaius and Merlin had been most impressed with the idea of flour being used as a weapon. There was almost some admonishing, as flour was not cheap.
When Uther died, Hermione wanted nothing more than to hold Merlin. His pain and his grief was something that she, even with all of her powers, could not combat. She could support him- but he had to make the steps for himself.
She was regaining her strength, slowly. It seemed as though the world was passing her by. Her visions of the future were coming frequently, now. As if entering the past had somehow given her the power of prophecy. Living through the near death experience of the explosion further expanded her gift.
Funny, she had absolutely deplored divination course and now she was living it. If only Lavender and Pavarti could see her now. The visions weren't much. At times they were like letters from home, the going ons and happenings of a time far beyond her current situation. Other instances, were simple things such as envisioning Merlin tripping over a stool, and then him doing so. The in-frequencies and inability to control them boggled her. It was times like these that she truly wished she had access to the Hogwarts library.
She had not seen Ric in a very long time, though their letters were frequent. He had wished to come and see her upon hearing of her injury, however, muggles at the village near the school were beginning to cause trouble and he didn't feel as though he could leave the children. The 'Founders' as they had begun to call themselves were making quite the name stirring. Her work, as Helga Hufflepuff had earned her quite the talking points and rumors. Her kindness and tenacity for truth lived on though she had departed from the castle.
Through all of her recovery process there was Merlin. Merlin feeding her, Merlin reading to her, Merlin cheering her up even in her gloomiest of moods. She loved Merlin more each and every day, and subsequently despised herself further with each passing moment. She could not remain here. As it was, her recovery began slowing down as her body needed more time to rest and more time to heal.
It was decided that Hermione would rejoin her companions at Hogwarts as the beloved Helga Hufflepuff. She could use the rest away from all the troubles and subterfuge of Camelot, as well as the magical healing abilities. When she was well enough to be moved, Hermione was brought north by a party led by Ric and by Sir Percival, who would nary leave her side but for small moments. It would be another year before she returned to Camelot. She would, of course, be returning for the famous wedding of a young servant girl to the Once and Future King. And that, is where our story continues.
Slightly shorter than I would have hoped, however I didn't want to push forward into another season too heavily. If you look at the Merlin timeline, there is a year's gap between Season 3 and Season 4, and we're skipping all the way to the end of Season 4, beginning of Season 5, which means a two year gap. Some of that two years was already spent in this chapter, however I just wanted to clarify that point.
I am hoping to post once a month from now on so that I can finally get to the most important part of this entire thing- the sequel!