Minerva smelled her long before she saw her, causing her nails to dig into the earth that much more as she propelled her body to go faster. Because she smelled death. Looming in the wind, amidst the decomposing leaves, wet mold and the autumn air. Her long body crested the hill, leaping over the stone ledge when she saw the torn fabric, dried blood and colorless shell of a woman whose hair was wet from the drizzle and matted with twigs and leaves. Another five lunges brought her within two meters, and she morphed mid-stride back to her human form.
Emerald eyes gazed over the ashen features of her previous student as she knelt beside her while taking off her leather glove and pressing her fingers to Hermione's neck searching for a pulse against the deathly cool, clammy skin. However, the soft groan escaping bruised lips nullified Minerva's question and without another thought, she reached into her coat and withdrew a medallion. "Time," Minerva clipped as she held onto Hermione's arm. She felt the world's noises blur, a hook grab her navel and then the sterile smell of St. Mungos flood her senses as alarms sounded from everywhere. She could hear footsteps lumbering towards her as frantic yells told her to put her hands up; and she was grabbed and pulled backwards before the pseudo-attacker realized that she was not a threat.
That despite the mud caking her robes, boots and who knew what else; that she was in fact, the Headmistress of Hogwarts. And she had brought in Hermione Granger-Weasley.
Or at least, the shell of the woman who had once been the noted witch.
But she had already been forgotten as the Healers swarmed the younger witch's body, effectively shielding her from view as they moved her to the trauma ward; and Minerva gingerly stood up, eyes trailing after the throng of people.
"You look a bit the worse for wear, Headmistress." Gawain rumbled as he came to stand beside the formidable woman.
"It's been a long three days," she answered, finally tipping her head to meet his gaze, "you don't look too well yourself."
"I, like you, have been out searching since the alert went out. Malcolm and I were ambushed an hour ago, he's still receiving treatment; and I was heading back to Canterbury when the alarms sounded."
"It seems as though we'll both be able to have our wounds fully tended too," Minerva said flexing her hand, the bruise across the base of her palm clearly visible. At his arched brow, she merely shrugged, "I heard of your lead and focused on the land north of Canterbury."
"There's a lot of rock and hills up there."
"Aye," Minerva nodded, "I noticed."
The smile didn't quite touch his eyes, but it softened his face. "Did you find any clues?"
"I didn't look," Minerva tiredly stated, "my first priority was to return to St. Mungos; but," she motioned to the apparition point, "I had planned on going back. Care to join me?"
He gazed at her bruised hand, the fatigue lining her face and as much as he wanted to search the area, they were both exhausted. "Perhaps it should wait until tomorrow."
"A storm is approaching, so if we don't go now; there will be no point."
With a nod, he followed her while fastening his coat closed; and in another blink the head of the Auror department and Headmistress of Hogwarts was gone as a frantic Ronald Weasley apparated into St. Mungos.
"I heard they found her," he scrambled forward to the desk, "where is she?"
a/n: And I had been swearing to myself not to start any new stories…obviously, my restraint wasn't too good, because here's another one. I can guarantee this one is going to be yet again; something entirely different than what I've done before with Hermione & Minerva. Also, am dipping back into the world of Bonding to 'borrow' a few characters; hope you don't mind and enjoy their reincarnation.