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Hermione Granger didn’t mean to die that day.
It was two weeks before Christmas and the snow covered Hogwarts castle seemed to glisten in the moonlight. For the last hour Hermione had been wandering the grounds by the edge of the Forbidden forest trying to clear her black mood. It had been an overall rotten day. She and Ron had broken up that morning during breakfast. She wasn’t even sure how it had even happened. One minute the two of them were talking about their plans for Christmas break and the next minute they were yelling at each other. It had happened so fast that it wasn’t until after Ron had stormed out of the Great hall that Hermione realized that he had broken up with her.
Hermione admitted that things between the two of them had been quite tense ever since they had come back to Hogwarts to finish their seventh year after Harry defeated the Dark Lord. Originally Ron hadn’t wanted to come back to Hogwarts; he had wanted to take up the Ministry's offer to start Auror training, but after Hermione had talked Harry into coming back Ron had felt pressured into coming back as well.
Once school started Hermione could tell there was something wrong with Ron, but he had refused to talk about it. She could tell that the tension had been building up tremendously over the last week or so, but she had to admit that part of her just refused to believe that things were so bad. Now that it had blown up, Hermione wasn’t sure what to do about the situation.
Hermione pulled her cloak tighter about her shoulders as a bitter winter breeze blew off the lake and straight into Hermione. She had just decided to head back to the castle when she heard the sound of someone crying.
Hermione stopped and looked around. It sounded like a small child who had gotten lost and couldn’t find their way back home. It seemed to be coming from the Forbidden forest. Her first thought was that it had to be some first year lost in the woods. It wouldn’t be the first time some first year had been dared to go into the Forbidden forest only to become scared and lost. Most of the time Hagrid would find them during his rounds of the castle grounds before he headed to bed each night. It would probably be another hour or so before Hagrid would make his round of the forest edge and the sound of the crying seemed so desperate.
“Hello? Hey, is somebody in there?”
There was no answer. Hermione stared into the dense stand of oak and hickory trees, trying to see between the gnarled bare trees, while listening to the crying in hopes that she would be able to determine how far into the forest the student was. Squaring her shoulders, Hermione pulled out her wand casting “Lumos”, and cautiously entered the forest.
The crying was faint but continuous. Hermione could tell that the crying was coming from somewhere in front of her. The snow in the forest wasn’t as deep as Hermione had been expecting. It was white and unbroken beneath the trees and it gave her an eerie sense of isolation. The farther Hermione went in the louder the crying seemed to get. Deeper and deeper into the woods Hermione traveled. She crossed centaur and deer tracks in the snow, but no sign of the missing student. If it wasn’t for the continuous crying that was progressively getting louder just ahead of her she might have been more worried. Up ahead Hermione had to climb up an uneven ridge grabbing hold of a branch with her free hand to keep her balance.
Still hanging on to the branch Hermione took a second to catch her breathe while looking around. There was nothing to see but quiet woods leading down to a creek just below.
“Hello? Can you hear me?” Hermione called out to the crying voice.
“Help me!” A weak voice called out to her from directly ahead.
Oh my, Hermione thought, the creek.
The student had somehow fallen into the creek. Hermione could just make out the shape of a small child hanging onto something to keep their head above the water, getting weaker and weaker with each passing moment.
Quickly Hermione scrambled down the other side of the ridge, slithering and sliding on the wet snow. Heart pounding, out of breath, she stood on the bank of the creek. Below her, at the edge, she could see fragile ice ledges reaching out like petals over the rushing water. Spray had frozen like diamond drops on overhanging grasses. Hermione frantically scanned the surface of the dark water in search of the student.
“Are you there?” she shouted. “Can you hear me?”
Hermione couldn’t hear the crying anymore, only the sound of the rushing creak and the sound of limbs falling in the distance. Maybe the kid had lost their grip and gone under the water. Hermione knew that even if she was able to find the student, she was going to need help getting the student back to the castle in time to save their life from hypothermia. Pointing her wand straight up to the sky, Hermione sent a red spark into the sky. Then Hermione cast Lumos over the water searching for any sign of student.
Just out of reach of her light, Hermione caught sight of what looked like the shadow of a student struggling against the current of the creek.
“I am here to help you! Keep fighting to grab hold of the branch! I am going to try to leviate you out of the water!” Hermione shouted at the figure leaning out a bit further to extend her reach before casting the levitation spell.
Suddenly the ice under her feet shifted and Hermione could feel herself falling. Arms wind milling, she tried to regain her balance but it was too late she was falling. She hit the water with an icy shock. Everything was freezing confusion. Her head was under water and she was being tumbled over and over. She couldn’t see, couldn’t breathe, and she was completely disoriented. Then her head popped up out of the water and she automatically sucked in a huge grasp of air. Her arms were flailing, but they seemed to be tangled up in her cloak. The creek was wide here and the current was very strong. She was being swept downstream and every other second her mouth seemed to be full of water. Reality was just one desperate, choking attempt to get enough air for the next breath.
I’m going to die. Even if someone responds to my spark signal I am going to be too far downstream for anyone to find me.
Hermione’s mind realized this with a sort of numb certainty, but her body was stubborn. It fought almost as if it had a separate brain of its own. It struggled out of her cloak, so that its extra weight was no longer pulling her down and made her kick her legs, trying to stand firm on the bottom. The creek was only six feet deep in the center, but that was still a few inches higher than Hermione’s head. No matter what she tried it seemed that she just couldn’t get control over where she was going. The cold was beginning to seep into her body and was sapping her strength at a frightening fast rate. With each passing second her chances of surviving dropped.
It was as if the creek were a monster that hated her and would never let her go. It slammed her into rocks and swept her on before her hands could get hold of the cold, smooth surfaces. In a few more minutes she was going to be too weak to keep her head above the water.
I have to grab something.
Her body was telling her that. It was her only chance. Just up ahead on the left bank, Hermione caught sight of a projecting spit with tree roots. She knew that she had to get to it. Using what bit of strength she could gather, Hermione forced her legs to kick her towards the tree roots. She hit and was almost spun past it by the current, but somehow she was able to grab hold. The roots were thicker than her arms, a huge tangle like slick, icy snakes.
Hermione thrust an arm through a natural loop of the roots, anchoring herself. Even though she could now breathe, she knew that if she didn’t get out of the freezing cold water soon she wouldn’t have the strength to continue holding on.
At that moment she was filled with hatred, not for the creek, but for herself. After all that she had been through during the war, she was going to die by spilling into a creek. It just didn’t seem fair to her.
She could never really remember what happened next. Her mind let go and there was nothing but anger and the burning need to get higher. Her legs kicked and scrambled and some dim part of her knew that each impact against the rocks and roots should have hurt. However, all that mattered was the desperation that was somehow, inch by inch, getting her numb, water logged body out of the creek.
Suddenly she was out. Hermione found herself lying on roots and snow. Her vision was dim; she was gasping, openmouthed, for breath, but she was alive. Hermione lay there for a long time, not really aware of the cold, her entire body echoing with relief.
I made it! I’ll be okay now.
It was only when she tried to get up that she realized how wrong she was. When she tried to stand, her legs almost folded under her. Her muscles felt like jelly and it was cold. She was already exhausted and nearly frozen, and her soaking clothes felt as heavy as medieval armor. Her gloves were gone, lost in the creek, along with her wand. With every breath she took, she seemed to get colder and suddenly she was racked with waves of violent shivers.
Must find my way to the forest edge…but which way?
She’d landed somewhere downstream, but she wasn’t sure how far.
Doesn’t matter, just walk away from the creek, Hermione thought slowly. It was becoming difficult to think. She felt stiff and clumsy and the shivering made it hard to climb over fallen trees and branches. Her red, swollen fingers couldn’t close to get handholds. Dimly, she knew that she was in serious trouble. If she didn’t get out of the forest soon, she wasn’t going to survive. However, it was becoming more and more difficult to call up a sense of alarm. A strange sort of apathy was coming over her. The gnarled forest seemed like something from a fairy tale.
Stumbling and staggering she made her way. She had no idea where she was going; just that she needed to keep going straight ahead. That was all she could see anyway, the next dark rock protruding from the snow, the next fallen branch to get over or around. Suddenly she was on her face. She had fallen and it seemed to take an immense effort to get back up again.
It’s these clothes…they’re too heavy. I should take them off.
Again, dimly, she knew that this was wrong. Her brain was being affected; she was dazed with hypothermia, but the part of her that knew this was far away, separate from her. She fought to make her numbed fingers unzip her hoodie.
Okay….it’s off. I can walk better now.
She couldn’t walk better. She kept falling. She had been doing this forever, stumbling, falling, getting up, and every time it was a little harder to keep doing so. Her jeans felt like slabs of ice on her legs. She looked at them with distant annoyance and saw that they were covered with adhering snow.
A part of her thought that she should take those off too, but she couldn’t seem to remember how to work the zipper to get them off. The violent waves of shivering were interspersed with pauses now, and the pauses were getting longer.
I just need a little rest.
While the faraway part of her brain screamed uselessly in protest, Hermione sat down in the snow. She was in a small clearing. It seemed deserted not a single mark in the smooth white snow carpet around her. Above, overhanging branches formed a snowy canopy. It was a very peaceful place to die.
Hermione’s shivering had stopped. Which meant it was all over now. Her body couldn’t warm itself by shivering any longer, and was giving up the fight. Instead it was trying to move into hibernation. Shutting itself down, reducing breathing and heart rate, conserving the little warmth that was left in order to survive until help could come.
Even with her previous spark signal, there was no way of knowing whether or not anyone would be able to find her. There was no way for her to know how far downstream the creek had taken her, or even whether she had been stumbling in the right direction after getting out of the creek. The faraway part of Hermione’s mind knew all this, but it didn’t matter. She had reached her physical limits, she couldn’t save herself now even if she could have thought of a plan. Her hands weren’t red anymore. They had turned a blue white color and her muscles were becoming rigid. At least she no longer felt cold. There was only a vast sense of relief at not having to move.
Her body had begun the process of dying. White mist filled her mind. She had no sense of time passing. Her metabolism was slowing to a stop. She was becoming a creature of ice, no different from any stump or rock in the frozen wilderness. Her last thought was, it’s just like going to sleep. Then all at once there was no rigidity and no discomfort. She felt light, calm, and free, as if she was floating up near the canopy of snowy boughs.
On the ground below her there was a huddled figure. Hermione looked at it curiously. A small girl, hidden by her long curly brown hair, the strands already covered in fine ice. The girl’s face was delicate. Pretty bone structure, but the skin was a terrible flat white. The eyes were shut, the lashes frosty. She was just barely breathing.
The realization didn’t bother her. Hermione felt no connection to the huddled thing in the snow. She didn’t belong to it anymore. With a mental shrug, she turned away and was swept into a tunnel. A huge dark place, with the feeling of being vastly complicated somehow and it was as if space here were folded or twisted somehow.
She was rushing through it. Points of light were whizzing by and she felt as if she were traveling by warp speed. The edges of herself were blurred and she couldn’t tell whether or not she had a distinct body anymore. That was when she realized that she had no control over where she was going or what was going to happen to her. A pale golden light appeared up ahead guiding her along. The light was so big, so powerful, and just so plain bright. It was like looking at the beginning of the universe and she was rushing toward it so fast.
She was in it. The light encompassed her, surrounded her. It seemed to shine through her. She was flying upward through the radiance like a swimmer surfacing. Then the feeling of motion faded. The light was getting less bright as her eyes started to adapt to it. Looking around Hermione found herself in a meadow. The grass was amazing, not just green but a sort of impossible ultra-green, as if lit up from inside. The sky was the same kind of impossible blue. She was wearing a thin lavender summer dress that billowed around her.
So this is what happens when you die.
The landscape was beautiful, peaceful, unearthly, and utterly deserted. Hermione had expected to have someone meet her, like her Grandpa Trevor, but no one came. Hermione felt anxiety twisting again inside her.
What if this isn’t heaven at all, what if I am stuck in some kind of limbo? What if she were left here, alone, forever?
As soon as she finished the thought, she wished she hadn’t. This seemed to be the kind of place where thoughts or fears could influence reality. She had the sudden gut-trembling feeling that the beauty around her could easily come apart at the seams. Fear was galloping inside her, and in her mind the bright meadow was turning into a nightmare of darkness, stink , pressure, and gibbering mindless things. She was terrified that at any moment she might see a change, and then she did see one. A few feet away from her, above the grass, was a sort of mist of light.
It hadn’t been there a moment ago, but now it seemed to get brighter as she watched, and to stretch from very far away. There was a shape coming toward her.
At first it looked like a speck, then like an insect on a light-bulb, then like a kite. Hermione watched, too frightened to run, until it got close enough for her to realize what it really was.
It was an angel.
Disclaimer: As usual I do not own anything from the Harry Potter world, they belong to the wonderful JK Rowling.
Her fear drained away as she stared. The figure seemed to shine, as if it were made of the same light as the mist. It was tall, and had the shape of a perfectly formed human. It was walking, but somehow rushing toward her at the same time. Then the mist cleared and the shining faded. The figure was standing on the grass in front of her.
It was a young guy, maybe nineteen, a year older than Hermione. He had a face like some ancient Greek sculpture. Classically beautiful and his hair was a soft deer skin brown. His eyes were so blue they looked violet. Now that his clothes had stopped shining she could see that they were ordinary, the kind like any muggle guy might wear. Washed and faded jeans and a white t-shirt. He could easily have done a commercial for those jeans. He was well built without being over-muscly, the kind of body Hermione had noticed that guys playing Quidditch had.
“Hey, kid,” he said, and winked.
“Who’re you calling kid?” she said indignantly placing her right hand on her hip.
He just grinned, “Sorry, no offense.”
Confused, Hermione made herself nod politely. Who was this person? Hermione had always assumed that when you died that friends and relatives that had already passed would come to meet you, but she had never seen this guy before in all her life.
“I’ve come to help you,” he said as if he’d heard her thought.
“Yes. You have a choice to make.”
That was when Hermione began to notice the big oak door. It was right behind the guy, approximately where the mist had been. Fear crept back into Hermione’s mind. Somehow, without knowing how she knew, she knew the door was important. More important than anything she had seen so far.
“The thing is, it wasn’t actually your time,” the guy said quietly. “But here you are. A mistake, but one we have to deal with. In these cases, we usually leave the decision up to the individual.”
“You’re saying I can choose whether or not I die.”
“That’s right.” He titled his head slightly. “You might want to think your life over at this point.”
Hermione blinked. Then she took a few steps away from him and stared across the supernaturally green grass. She tried to think about her life.
Hermione thought about her parents who were still in Australia. After the war she had gone to find her parents with the thought of bringing them back home, but after finding out how happy they seemed to be without her, she decided to just let them be. She thought about the loneliness she knew she’d be facing now that her and Ron had broken up. She considered the longing she was now feeling for things she could never have, like Harry.
Come on Hermione, there has to be something good back there.
“Butterbeer?” the guy’s voice said.
Hermione turned towards him. “What?”
“You like those. Especially on a cold day when you come inside. Cats. The way babies smell. Cinnamon toast with lots of butter, like your mom used to make. Bad monster movies.”
Hermione chocked. She’d never told anyone about most of those things.
“How do you know all that?”
He smiled. He really had an extraordinary smile.
“We see a lot up here.” Then he sobered. “And don’t you want to see more? Of life, I mean. Isn’t there anything left for you to do?”
Everything was left for her to do. There were plenty of things that she still hadn’t accomplished, like House elf rights.
“Then don’t you think you’d better go back and try again?” the guy said, in a gentle, prodding voice. “See if you can do a better job?”
Yes, all at once Hermione was filled with the same burning she’d felt when she got out of the creek. A sense of revelation, of purpose, that she could do anything. Besides, there were her friends to consider. No matter how much Ron and her argued, or how bad things seemed to be between them now, it could only make it worse if she were to suddenly die. Poor Harry had already lost so many people that he cared about in his life that Hermione wasn’t sure that he would be able to handle her death as well. They both would be utterly devastated and she was sure that they would probably blame themselves or each other for her death.
As she thought about her friends, Hermione was suddenly filled with the feeling that life was incredibly precious and that the worst thing you could do would be to waste it.
“I want to go back,” Hermione said as she turned back to face the guy.
He nodded and gave the same smile again.
“I thought maybe you would.” His voice was so warm now.
There was a quality in it that was like infinite understanding. A tone that was to sound what perfect light was to vision. He held out a hand.
“Time to go, Hermione,” he said gently. His eyes were the deepest violet imaginable.
Hermione hesitated just an instant, then reached toward him. She never actually touched his hand, not in a physical way. Just as her fingers seemed about to meet his, she felt a tingling shock and there was a flash. Then he was gone and Hermione had several odd impressions all at once.
The first was of being…unfixed, detached from her surrounding and a feeling as if she was falling. The second was of something coming at her. It was coming very fast from some direction she couldn’t point to. A place that wasn’t defined by up or down or left or right, and it felt huge and winged, the way a hawk’s shadow must feel to a mouse. Hermione had a wild impulse to duck, but it wasn’t necessary.
She was moving herself, falling away, rushing backward through the tunnel, leaving the meadow and whatever was coming at her from behind. The huge thing had only registered for an instant on her senses, and now, whizzing back through the darkness, she forgot about it.
Later, she would realize what a mistake this had been. For now time seemed compressed. She was alone in the tunnel, being pulled down like water down a drain. She tried to look between her feet to see where she was going, and saw something like a deep well beneath her.
At the bottom of the well was a circle of light, like the view backwards through a telescope, and in the circle, very tiny, was a girl’s body lying on the snow.
My body, Hermione thought, and then before she had time to feel any emotion, the bottom of the well was rushing up toward her. The tiny body was bigger and bigger. She felt a tugging pressure as she was being sucked into it too fast. She fit perfectly in the body, like a hand slipping into a mitten, but the jolt knocked her out.
Hermione opened her eyes, or tried to. It was as hard as doing a chin up. On the second or third attempt she managed to get them open a crack. All she could see was whiteness, dazzling and blinding. Disoriented Hermione tried to pull herself up to a sitting position, while images of what had happened came flooding back. The creek…the icy water…climbing out… and then falling in the snow.
After that she couldn’t remember, but now she knew what hurt, Everything. Her muscles were clenched tight as steel, but she knew she couldn’t stay here, if she did….
Finally, she was able to sit up, as she did she heard a cracking sound. Her clothes were glazed with solid ice. Somehow she got to her feet. She couldn’t have been able to do it. Her body had been cold enough to shut down earlier, and since then she’d been lying in the snow. By all the laws of nature, she should be frozen now, but she was standing. She could even shuffle a step forward, only to realize she had no idea which way to go.
She still didn’t know where the road was. Worse, it would be getting dark soon. When that happened, she wouldn’t even be able to see her own tracks. She could walk in circles in the woods until her body gave out again.
“See that white oak tree? Go around it to the right.”
The voice was behind her left ear. Hermione turned that way as sharply as her rigid muscles would allow, even though she knew she wouldn’t see anything. She recognized the voice, but it was so much warmer and gentler now.
“You came back with me.”
“Sure.” Once again the voice was filled with that impossible warmth, that perfect love.
“You don’t think I’d just leave you to wander around until you froze again, do you? Now head for that tree, kid.”
After that came a long time of stumbling and staggering over branches, around trees, on and on. It seemed to last forever, but always there was the voice in Hermione’s ear, guiding her, encouraging her. It kept her moving when she thought she couldn’t possibly go another step.
At last, the voice said, “Just up this ridge and you’ll find a clearing.”
In a dreamlike state, Hermione climbed the ridge. In the last light before darkness, Hermione could see the clearing and in the distance she could even make out the lights of the castle, but it was still quite a bit further until the castle and she couldn’t go any farther.
“You don’t have to,” the voice said gently. “Look towards the other side of the clearing.”
Hermione could see a light.
“Now just get in the middle of the clearing so that they can see you.”
Hermione stumbled out and waved like a mechanical doll. The light was coming closer to her, blinding her.
“We did it,” she gasped, dimly aware that she was speaking out loud. “Someone is coming!”
“Of course there is. You did a great job. You’ll be all right now.”
There was no mistake the note of finality. Hermione could see a dark figure beyond the glare of the light, but in that instant what she felt was distress.
“Wait, don’t leave me. I don’t even know who you are-“
For a brief moment, she was once again enfolded by love and understanding.
“Just call me Angel.”
Then the voice was gone, and all Hermione could feel was anguish.
“Hermione is that you? Are you okay?” The new voice broke through Hermione’s emptiness. She had been standing rigidly in the wand light; now she blinked and tried to focus on the figure coming toward her.
“Merlin, of course you’re not okay. Look at you.”
It was Harry. The knowledge surged through her like a shock, and it drove all the strange hallucinations she’d been having out of her mind. It really was Harry, dark messy hair, amazing emerald green eyes and a lean face that still had traces of a summer tan from his time spent at the Burrow. He looked shocked and worried. Hermione couldn’t get a single word out. She just started at him from under the icy curtain of her hair.
“What hap- No, never mind. We’ve got to get you warm.”
Confusion flashed though Hermione, then embarrassment, but underneath it all was something much stronger, an odd bedrock sense of safety. Harry was warm, solid, and she knew instinctively that he would take care of her, so she could stop fighting now and relax.
“Here put this on.”
Harry was somehow getting everything done at once without hurrying. Hermione found herself wrapped up in his cloak, and scooped up into his arms. It was wonderful to be able to rest without being afraid it would kill her. Bliss not to be surrounded by cold, even if the warmth from Harry and the cloak didn’t seem to warm her. Hermione was beginning to feel very fuzzy.
“I thought I’d take a dip,” she said, between chattering teeth. She was shivering again.
“You asked what happened. I was a little hot, so I jumped into a creek.”
He laughed out loud. “You couldn’t have been that mad at Ron.” Then he glanced down at her with keen eyes and added, “What really happened?”
“I slipped,” she said. “I went into the woods, and when I got to the creek-“
Suddenly, she remembered why she’d gone into the woods. She’d forgotten it since the fall had put her own life in danger, but now she seemed to hear that faint pathetic cry all over again.
“Oh, no,” she said, struggling to get out of Harry’s arm. “Stop, let me down.”
Harry tighten his grip on her and didn’t stop his race to the castle. He didn’t even pause.
“We’re almost there.”
They were out of the Forbidden forest and were already more than half way across the grounds. Hermione tried to grab Harry shirt, but couldn’t seem to get her hand to close, perplexed to looked at her hand, it felt like a block of wood.
“You have to stop,” she said, settling for volume. “There’s a kid lost in the woods. That’s why I went it; I heard this sound like crying. It was coming from somewhere right near the creek. We’ve got to go back there. Come on, stop!”
“Hey, Hey, calm down,” he said. “There are professor’s already out in the forest, somebody sent out a signal for help and they responded immediately. As soon as we get you to the hospital wing, I will make sure Headmistress McGonagall knows everything. However, I am not letting you freeze because you have more guts than sense right now.”
“It’s not that. It’s just- I’ve already been through so much to try to find that kid. I almost died-I think I did die. I mean- well, I didn’t die, but I got pretty cold, and- and things happened, and I realized how important life is…,” she floundered to a shivering stop.
What was she trying to say? Harry must think that she had lost her mind.
Harry was now racing through the corridors towards the Hospital wing. She peered up at him through her frozen hair. His eyes were such a beautiful shade of green. She could see the worry flowing out of eyes. Just as they entered the Hospital wing, she was wracked by a sudden bout of shivers.
“Madam Pomfrey! I need help!” Harry yelled.
Still shivering she could feel herself being gently placed down on one of the beds.
“You need to get thawed out, fast, but I am not sure whether a warming spell is safe. I am going to go see if I can find Madam Pomfrey.”
Hermione automatically lifted a stiff arm to stop him, “Wait don’t leave me,” but he was already out of ear shot heading into Madam Pomfrey’s office.
Within moments he was heading back towards her with Madam Pomfrey in tow.
“What in the world happened?” Pomfrey asked reaching out to brush the frozen curls out of Hermione’s face.
“She fell in the creek, and she’s frozen. I thought about using a warming spell but was worried about warming her up too quickly.” Harry explained.
“I see,” Pomfrey said calmly, “Well you were right about the warming spell. The safest way to warm her would be to get her in a hot bath. Harry, go get the Head mistress. I will take over from here.”
Harry nodded, giving Hermione’s hand a quick reassuring squeeze before leaving the hospital wing. Madam Pomfrey helped Hermione up and guided her towards the back of the wing and into a bathroom. Once Hermione was in, she helped her undress, stripping off the clinging, ruined, icy wet clothes, and dropped them in the sink. Everything she did was brisk and efficient. Hermione was too miserable to even try to protest. She huddled, feeling small and shivering in her bare skin, and then lunged for the tub as soon as Pomfrey was done.
The water felt scalding. Hermione could feel her eyes get huge and she clenched her teeth on a yell. It probably felt so hot because she was so cold. Breathing through her nose, she forced herself to submerge to the shoulders.
“All right,” Pomfrey said as she pulled a curtain closed around the tub. “I want to stay here until I come back with some dry clothes on.”
Hermione nodded, as she heard the door to the small bathroom close behind Madam Pomfrey. Suddenly a fountain of burning pain surged through her body causing her to gasp out loud. It started in her fingers and toes and shot upward, a white hot searing that meant her frozen flesh was coming back to life. All she could do was sit rigid, breathing in ragged breathes through her nose, and try to endure it.
Eventually, it did get better. Her white, wrinkled skin turned dark blue, and then mottled, and then red. The searing subsided to a tingling; Hermione could move and think again. She leaned her head back on the edge of the tub and was just being to relax, when suddenly a sound as loud as a cannon going off ricocheted off the walls. Something between a crash and a crunch and the sound of glass splintering under boots.
Hermione jumped as if she’d been shot, sat frozen a moment, then pulled the moisture beaded curtain aside and poked her head out. At the same instant the bathroom door flew open.
“What was that?” Pomfrey said sharply.
Hermione shook her head not sure what to say. Pomfrey looked around the bathroom, spied the steamed up mirror, and frowned. She reached across the sink to wipe it with her hand- and yelped.
“Ow!” She cursed silently, staring at her hand. Hermione could see the brightness of blood.
“What the-?” Pomfrey pointed her wand at the mirror, clearing the mirror of steam and stepped back to look at it.
From the tub, Hermione was staring too. The mirror was broken, or not broken, cracked. It wasn’t cracked as if something had hit it. There was no point of impact, with lines of shattering running out. Instead, it was cracked evenly from top to bottom, side to side. Every inch was covered with a lattice of fine lines. It almost looked purposeful, as if it were a frosted-glass design.
Pomfrey glanced hesitantly in Hermione’s direction, just long enough to locate her face surrounded by the coral colored shower curtain.
“You okay?” she asked.
Hermione couldn’t say anything, her throat was too tight and tears were welling up, but when Pomfrey looked at her more closely, she nodded.
“All right, let’s get you changed.” Pomfrey swished her wand at the mirror repairing it and then turned back towards Hermione.
“Let’s make sure that all your fingers and everything are working all right,” Pomfrey said moving closer to Hermione in case she needed assistance out of the tub.
“I’m fine,” Hermione answered wiggling her fingers, which were tender but functioning. Stiffly, Hermione pulled herself upright, almost falling down when she tried to step out of the bathtub. Pomfrey reached out to catch her, but Hermione waved her away wanting to do it herself.
She stepped out of the tub and pulled on the blue stripped pajamas that Pomfrey had handed to her, and then slowly followed her out of the bathroom. Hermione let Pomfrey guide her to a bed. She fell on the bed and Pomfrey pulled up the covers up around her. Pomfrey then handed her a goblet of warm amber liquid to drink. Hermione downed it quickly, and was pleasantly surprised when it tasted like honey tea.
Pomfrey then left her alone, and now, at last, she could cry. All the hurts of her mind and body merged and she sobbed out loud, wet cheek on the soft pillow.
She cried until she was numb and exhausted and fell into a deadly still sleep without knowing it. When she woke up hours later, there was a strange light in the room.
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Actually, it wasn’t the light she noticed first. It was an eerie feeling that some presence was in the room with her watching. She’d had the feeling before, waking up to feel that something had just left; maybe even in the instant it had taken her to open her eyes. That while asleep, she’d been on the verge of some great discovery about the world, something that was lost as soon as she woke.
However, tonight the feeling seemed to stay with her, and as she stared around the room, feeling dazed, stupid, and leaden, she slowly realized that the light was wrong. The moonlight was streaming into the room from the window to her left giving the room a blue translucent glow. However, in the far right corner of the room, just on the other side of the hospital wing doors, the light seemed to have pooled as if reflecting off a mirror.
There were no mirrors in the hospital wing. Hermione sat up slowly. Her sinuses were stuffed up and her eyes felt like hard boiled eggs. She breathed through her mouth and tried to make sense of what could possibly be creating the trick of light that she was seeing.
It looked like a misty pillar of light and instead of fading as she woke up, it seemed to be getting brighter. An ache had taken hold of Hermione’s throat. The light was so beautiful and at the same time almost familiar. It reminded her of the tunnel and the meadow and the…
Suddenly it hit her like a ton of bricks, that was the same kind of light that she had seen when the angel came to her, expect thing time she wasn’t dead. She stared as the light got brighter and brighter, and she felt her whole body began tingling causing tears to pool in her eyes. She could hardly catch her breath.
The light continued to get brighter, just as it had in the meadow. Soon she was able to make out the shape of a young boy walking toward her and rushing at the same time. The light became so bright that she had to shut her eyes and saw red and gold after images like shooting stars behind her eye lids. When she squinted her eyes back open, he was there.
Awe caught at Hermione’s throat again. He was so beautiful that it was frightening. Pale face, with traces of the light still lingering in his features, hair like melted caramel candy, strong shoulders, and a tall graceful body made him look different from any human. He looked more different now than he had in the meadow. Up against the drab, muted, and ordinary background of the hospital wing, he burned like a flaming torch.
Hermione slid off the bed to kneel on the floor. It was an automatic reflex.
“Don’t do that.”
The voice was like silver fire.
“Here, does this help?” The voice had changed becoming somehow more ordinary, more like a normal human voice.
Hermione, staring at the floor, saw the light begin to fade. When she titled her eyes up, the angel looked more ordinary too. Not as luminous as he just was, but more like an impossibly handsome teenage guy.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said smiling.
“Huh,” Hermione whispered. It was all she could get out.
The angel made a circling motion with one arm.
“I can go through all the gibber gabber: be not afraid, I mean you no harm, and all that, but it’s such a waste time, don’t you think?” He peered at her. “Aw, come on, kid, you died earlier today, yesterday actually. This isn’t really all that strange in comparison.”
“Yeah,” Hermione blinked and said with conviction, nodding.
Hermione stood up and perched herself on the edge of her bed. He was right, this was nothing compared to all the other strange things she had encountered after finding out she was a witch. So it hadn’t been a dream. She had really died and there really were such things as angels, and now one was in the room with her, looking almost solid except at the edges.
“Why did you come here?” she asked her curiosity beginning to spike.
He made a noise that, if he hadn’t been an angel, Hermione would have called a snort.
“You don’t think I ever really left do you?” he said chidingly. “I mean, think about it. How did you manage to recover from freezing without even needing more than a hot bath and a warming potion to thaw you out? You were in severe hypothermia, the worst, you were facing pulmonary edema, ventricular fibrillation, and the possible loss of a few of your wee bits.”
He wiggled his fingers and toes. That was when Hermione realized that he was standing several inches off the floor.
“You were in bad shape, kid, but you got out of it without even a touch of frostbite.”
Hermione looked down at her own ten pink fingers. They were tingling oversensitive, but she didn’t have even one blood blister.
“You saved me.”
He gave a half grin and looked sheepish. “Well, it is my job after all.”
“To help people.”
“To help you.”
A barely acknowledge hope was forming in Hermione’s mind. He never really left; it was his job to help her, well that sounded like he was….could he really be…
He was looking sheepish again. “Yeah, I don’t know how to put it, either, but it is true. Did you know that most people think they have one even when they don’t? Somebody did a poll, and most people have an inner certainty that there is some particular, individual spirit watching over them.”
“You’re a guardian angel,” Hermione whispered.
“Yeah, your guardian angel to be precise, and I am here to help you find your heart’s desire.”
She swallowed. “Look,” she said grimly. “The things that I need help with…well, they are not exactly the kind of things that angels would know anything about.”
“Heh,” he grinned, and leaned over in a position that would have unbalanced an ordinary person and waved an imaginary wand over her head. “You shall go to the ball, Cinderella.”
Hermione looked at him. “So you’re my fairy godmother now?”
“Pretty much, but watch the sarcasm, kid.”
He changed to a floating position, his arms clasping his knees, and looked her dead in the eye.
“How about if I said that I know that you secretly have feelings for your best friend, Harry Potter, and that you would kill to have everyone at Hogwarts know who you are, and not just as the brains of the famous Goldren Trio?”
Heat swept up Hermione’s face. Her heart was beating out the slow, hard thumps of embarrassment, and excitement. When he said it out loud like that, it sounded extremely shallow, but then again extremely desirable.
“And you could help with that?” she choked out.
“Believe it or not, yes, however there is a condition,” the angel responded, lowering himself to the floor and moving a step closer to her.
His eyes were like the violet blue at the bottom of a flame.
Leaning towards the angel, “And that is?” Hermione asked.
“You have to trust me.”
“Sometimes it won’t be so easy.”
Hermione giggled, looking away from his eyes and focusing on the graceful body that was back floating in midair again.
“After all I have been through, after you saved my life, how could I not trust you?”
He nodded and then winked. “Okay, let’s prove it.”
“How are we going to do that?” Slowly the feeling of awed incredulity was fading. It was beginning to seem almost normal to talk to this magical being.
“Summon a pair of scissors.”
“Scissors?” Hermione stared at the angel. He stared back. Hermione wasn’t afraid. She didn’t decide not to be, she simply wasn’t.
“How am I supposed to summon a pair of scissors, when I lost my wand in the creek?”
“Well, you could always try wandless magic, or you can check the table next to you,” he responded with a cheeky smile.
Looking over to the table next to her, Hermione saw her wand sitting on the table as if it had always been there.
“Okay,” she said puzzled as to how her wand had ended up on the table.
Shrugging Hermione picked up her wand off the table next to her bed, pointed it into the air and said, “Accio scissors.”
It took about a minute before a medium size silver pair of scissors soared into the hospital wing heading straight towards her bed. The angel glided out of the way of the scissors path and watched as the scissors landed on the bed beside her.
“Now what?” she asked as she picked up the scissors from the bed.
“Go into the bathroom.”
Hermione got up from the bed and went into the little bathroom that was located off to the far right side of the wing just past Pomfrey’s office, and flicked her wand towards the light turning it on.
“And now? You want me to what, cut off my finger?” she said sarcastically.
“No, just your hair.”
In the mirror over the sink, Hermione saw her own jaw drop. She couldn’t see the angel, though, so she turned around.
“Cut my hair? Are you crazy do you realize how much bushier it is going to be if I cut it off? I will end up looking like a poodle.”
“You said you trusted me,” the angel said quietly.
Hermione chanced a look at him. His face was stern and there was something in his eyes that almost scared her, something unknowable and cold, as if he were withdrawing from her.
“It’s the way to prove yourself,” he said. “It’s like taking a vow. If you can do this part, you’re brave enough to do what it takes to get your heart’s desire.” He paused deliberately, “Then again, I guess you are just not Gryffindor enough, I will just have to go away…”
“No,” Hermione said. Most of what he was saying made sense, and as for what she didn’t understand yet – well, she would have to have faith.
She took a nice long breath, turning back towards the mirror, and ran her fingers one more time through the waist length curls before taking hold of a good size lock of hair. Bracketing the hair level with her shoulder, and squeezed the scissors shut.
“See that wasn’t that bad,” the angel was laughing.
He sounded like himself again: warm, teasing, loving, and helpful. Hermione let out her breath, gave a wobbly smile, and devoted herself to the task of cutting off the rest of her long curls. When she was done, she had a head full of bushy shoulder length curls.
“Look in the mirror,” the angel said, although Hermione was already looking into the mirror. “What do you see?”
“Somebody with a bad haircut?”
“Wrong, you see somebody who’s brave, strong, unique, and incidentally gorgeous.”
“But it is all uneven and bushy.”
“No worries, I can fix that. The important thing is that you took the first step yourself. By the way you’d better learn to stop blushing. A girl as beautiful as you has to get used to compliments.”
“You are a funny kind of angel.”
“I told you, it is all part of the job. Now let’s see what I can do with that hair of yours.”
An hour later, Hermione was in bed again, and this time she was tucked neatly under the covers. She was tired, dazed, and very happy.
“Sleep fast,” the angel said. “You’ve got a big day tomorrow.”
“Wait,” Hermione tried to keep her eyes open, “I forgot to ask you.”
“That crying I heard in the woods, the reason I went in the forest, and fell into the creek. Was it a kid? Are they okay?”
There was a brief pause before he answered. “That information is classified, but don’t worry, nobody’s hurt…now.”
Hermione opened one eye at him, but it was clear that he wasn’t going to say anything else on the subject.
“Okay,” she said reluctantly. “Oh, one more thing, what is your name?”
“I told you, Angel.”
Hermione smiled, and was immediately struck by a jaw dropping yawn. Angel leaned down and gave her a small feather light kiss on her forehead. She felt warm, protected, and loved. She fell asleep smiling.
The next morning she woke early and spent a long time convincing Madam Pomfrey into letting her leave the hospital wing early so that she could eat breakfast with her friends in the Great Hall. After making sure that Hermione was completely healed, she reluctantly agreed.
She came down the main stairs to the Great Hall feeling self-conscious and light headed. She braced herself as she walked into the Great Hall. It was early enough that Sunday morning that very few of her fellow students had made their way to breakfast.
“Hermione, Is that you?” Padama Patil called to her. “Oh my god, your hair….”
The usual Disclaimer.
“Do you like it?” Hermione asked putting a self-conscious hand to her head.
After cutting her hair to her shoulders last night, her hair had been bushier than a poodle, but then Angel had ran his fingers through her hair and completely transformed it. Now she had soft smooth shoulder length honey brown waves with streaks of purple highlights through-out.
“It looks amazing. When did you decide to change your hair?”
Tell her that your brush with death gave you a new outlook on life. Angel’s voice sounded within her mind the same as it did when she could see him, soft, wry, and distinctly his.
“After my brush with death, I decided I needed a new look,” Hermione said.
“So it’s true? I heard that you almost drowned in a creek and that Harry had to jump in to save you.” Padma said following Hermione over to the Gryffindor table.
“Where did you hear that?” Hermione asked her sitting down at her usual spot on the Gryffindor table.
“Parvati told me. She supposedly heard it from Creavey and he supposedly overheard Harry talking about the situation with Professor McGonagall. Look, Hermione, I was thinking about it and I realized that we have never really been close friends, but I was hoping that we could change that.”
Oh joy, she thought to Angel.
Be nice, dragonfly, she is trying to be nice. Say thank you.
“Thanks Padma, that sounds great.”
Padma smiled, “You’re such a good person. I felt so terrible, thinking about you alone out there, freezing, and being so brave, trying to save a little kid.” She babbled on.
“Did the find a kid?” Hermione interrupted.
“Huh? No, I don’t think so. Nobody was talking about anything like that last night and I haven’t heard about any student or kid being missing either.”
I told you, dragonfly. Are you satisfied now?
Yes, I am. Sorry.
“It was still really brave of you,” Padma said. “Everyone thinks so.”
Before Hermione could summon up a reply, she was distracted by Ginny plopping down into the seat beside her.
“Hi, girls,” Ginny began, and broke off. She focused on Hermione’s hair. Her mouth fell open.
“Morning Ginny,” Hermione said. She tried to sound careless, but her stomach was clenched like a fist. She held very still. “Do you like it?”
“Wow, you look so much older, like some European model.”
“Where are Harry and Ron?” Hermione asked.
“Harry should be done any minute now,” there was a pause before Ginny continued. “Ron would be coming down.”
“He must be awfully mad at me to miss breakfast.”
“Ron left last night.”
It happened last night while you were asleep.
A lot seems to have happened last night while I was sleeping.
The world’s like that, dragonfly. It keeps on going even when you are not paying attention.
“Anyway, we will talk about it later,” Ginny said giving her a pat on the shoulder. “Are you still coming with us to Hogsmeade for last minute Christmas shopping?”
“I forgot all about the trip,” Hermione responded.
“Hermione, you have to come. It is the last trip to Hogsmeade before Christmas break.” Padma pleaded.
“Okay, just let me go up to my room and change clothes before we head out.” Hermione said standing up from the table.
“Sounds like a plan,” Ginny smiled, “Let’s meet up in main Hall in about half an hour.”
Hermione nodded and smiled making her way up the stairs, into the common room, and up to her room. Opening the door, she saw Angel sitting on her bed holding a bundle in his hands.
“What do you have there?” she asked crossing the room over to him.
“This is what you will be wearing today,” He said while tossing her the bundle.
Catching the bundle, Hermione looked down at what he had picked out for her. With a shrug she headed into the connecting bathroom to change clothes. A few minutes later she stepped out wearing black hipsters and a black camisole. Over it was a sheer black shirt, worn loose. She had on flat black boots and a black watch, and that was all she had on.
“Well, I am sure to turn heads wearing this. I never wear black, plus shouldn’t I be wearing a sweater on top?”
“You look terrific, dragonfly, you are going to wear this black cloak outside it will keep you plenty warm,” pointing to the cloak lying on the bed beside him.
Angel stood up grabbing the cloak and glided up behind Hermione, placing the cloak over her shoulders. His hands lightly caressed her arms, leaning in to whisper in her ear, “Prefect, All set to go.”
Hermione blew him a flying kiss over her shoulder as she made her way across the room to the dorm room door.
“Wait, I almost forgot,” Angel said fishing in his pockets pulling out a small compact and a tube of lipstick. “Put this on,” he said tossing her the compact and lipstick.
She put on the lipstick. It was red, not orange-red or blue-red, but red red, the color of holly berries or Christmas ribbon. It made her lips look fuller, somehow, almost pouty. Hermione pursed her lips, considered her image a second in the mirror, then kissed the compact mirror lightly and snapped it shut.
“Thanks,” she called back to him, heading out of the room and down the stairs into the common room. She was at the edge of the entrance when she heard someone call her name.
“Hermione, wait up,” Harry called. “Let’s walk down together.”
“Alright,” she responded with a smile.
It only made sense to go with Harry; after all, he was her best friend. Hermione passed through the entrance and turned around to wait for Harry to follow behind her. When she did, her breath stopped completely. Harry had stopped in his tracks just outside the Gryffindor entrance and had a look on his face that she’d never seen on any guy’s face before, not even Ron. She’d seen it, occasionally when guys were looking at other girls, girls at school like Ginny Weasley.
It was a stricken gaze, a compulsive movement of the throat, an expression that almost made you sorry for them, an “I’m lying down and I don’t care if you walk on me”, type of expression and Harry was looking at her that way. Immediately all her fear was swept away.
Her heart was still pounding and little waves of adrenaline were still going through her, but now what it felt like was excitement, heady, buoyant anticipation. It was as if she had started on the roller coaster ride of her life. Harry actually had to shake himself before he remembered where he was at and started walking beside her. On the way down the stairs toward the main entrance he kept sneaking glances at her out of the side of his eye.
“You did something to your… and your…” He made a vague motion near his own head.
“Yeah, I cut and colored my hair,” she said. She meant to sound careless and sophisticated, but it came out shaky, with a little laugh at the end.
She tried again, “I have been thinking about doing it for a while now.”
Harry glanced at her as if to say he disagreed with that, but it wasn’t a disapproving glance. It was more like electrified awe and a sort of discovery that seemed to grow every time he looked at her. They walked in silence for a while. Hermione forced herself to stare at the walls and at the paintings they passed. It was strange how different everything looked today. Yesterday the halls had been lonely and desolate to her, and now it seemed calm and comfortable.
“Listen,” Harry said abruptly, pulling her into the nearest empty classroom. “There’s something I have to say.”
Hermione’s heart now seemed to be beating everywhere, in her throat and her fingertips and her ears. She had a dream like sensation that her body wasn’t solid anymore, that she was just floating mass of heartbeat. Her vision shimmered, as she waited for her to speak.
“Do you remember the first time we met?” He asked.
“Of course I do.”
I had been eight years ago; she’d been eleven and tiny for her age with a huge mop of bushy hair. She had been going from compartment to compartment helping Neville find his pet toad. When she had opened the door to his compartment she had only meant to ask about Neville’s toad and then leave, but when she saw that the red headed boy was attempting magic, she just had to stay and watch.
The red headed boy waved his wand, but the rat stayed his steel gray color.
"Well, that wasn't a very good spell. I have been trying a few spells just for practice and they have worked for me. I am the first witch in my family. I was so excited when I received my letter; I have already learned all our course books by heart. I am Hermione Granger, by the way, who are you?"
"I'm Ron Weasley," the red headed boy muttered.
"Harry Potter," The boy with the messy black hair answered.
"Really," she said. "I know all about you, you are in Modern Magical History."
"Goodness, didn't you know," Hermione said surprised. If it had been her she would have found out everything she could. "Do either of you know what House you are going to be in? I hope that I will be in Gryffindor, but Ravenclaw sounds good as well. Anyway, I best get back to looking for Neville's toad. You two had better change, you know, I expect we'll be there soon."
“Well, back then, I sort of got the wrong impression,” Harry was saying. “I thought you were a book worm know it all and a bit of a snob. Even after we became friends, I only seemed to see you as a brain and more fragile, than you are.”
There was a pause, and then he said wonderingly, not quite looking at her, “During the war, I began to realize that you weren’t as fragile as I thought you were, that there was so much more to you than I ever imagined. Then yesterday I found you in that clearing frozen and almost at death’s door, but all you could think about was that missing kid and it made me realize that even more.”
Hermione understood. Harry didn’t have a reputation for being brave for nothing. He liked girls who were as bold and dashing as he was. If he were a knight in shining armor, he wouldn’t end up with some silly pampered princess. He would end up falling in love with a female knight or maybe even a daring robber, somebody who could share the adventure with him, who was just as tough as he was. At the same time he had a strong protective streak.
“Now, it’s like…” he continued. “I mean, you’re….” He held his hands up in a whoa type motion. He wasn’t looking at her at all but looking down at his shoes.
“You are kind of incredible,” Harry said. “I feel really stupid for not noticing it before and for not telling you sooner.”
Hermione couldn’t breathe. There was something going on between them, a kind of quivering electricity. The air was so thick with it that she felt pressure all over her. She had never been so awake before, but at the same time she felt as if most of the world was insubstantial. Only she and Harry were real. Hermione couldn’t move.
“So, I guess what I’m trying to say is that, if I have ever done or said anything to hurt your feelings these past few years then I am truly sorry, and that I really see you now.”
He raised his head, looking straight into her brown eyes, his body leaning in towards her, and Hermione suddenly realized he was going to kiss her. Hermione felt triumph, wild excitement, and something deeper. An emotion she couldn’t describe because there just weren’t any words in the English dictionary to use for it.
Harry was looking at her, and it was almost as if she could see through his emerald green eyes, as if she could see inside him and see the way things looked to him. What she felt was a little like discovery, a little like déjà vu, and a little like waking up and suddenly realizing its Christmas. At the same time it felt like being a kid lost in a strange place, cold and bewildered, and then suddenly you are hearing your mother’s voice calling you back home, but it wasn’t like any of those things; it was so much more.
She couldn’t quite put it all together, because there was nothing like it in her experience. She had never heard of anything like this, but she had the feeling that when Harry kissed her, she would be able to figure it all out and it would be the revelation of her life.
Harry was moving closer to her, moving slowly as if compelled by something he couldn’t control. Hermione had to look down, but she didn’t move back or turn her face away. He was close enough now that she could hear his breath and feel him. Her eyes shut of their own accord. She waiting to feel the touch of warmth on her lips, but something stirred in the back of her mind, a tiny whisper so far back that she could barely hear it, and she couldn’t tell where it had come from.
The shock went through her whole body like being dumped into a cold bath of ice water. Part of her wanted to ignore it, but she was already pulling away, putting a hand up, lowering her head to stare at her black boots.
“I can’t. I mean not like this. It isn’t fair to Ginny.” She said.
“I know,” Harry sounded as if he’d been hit with ice on bare skin, or as if he’d come up from deep water and was looking around dazedly.
“You’re right. I don’t know what I was… it just…it was like I forgot…” he stammered. “I’m not that kind of guy. I mean, it looks like I am right now, but I’m not. I made a promise to Ginny and…”
Oh no, Angel, Help!
I was wondering when you would remember me again.
He made her a promise!
Of course he did, they have been going together for a while now.
I feel terrible.
It’s going to be fine dragonfly, for now don’t worry about it.
Dully, Hermione said, “I know. I guess we better get moving, everyone is probably waiting for us.”
They walked in silence, and Hermione sank deeper and deeper into depression. She had thought it would be so easy, just show Harry her new self and everything would fall into place, but it wasn’t like that. Ginny was her friend, she just couldn’t do that to her.
Don’t worry about it dragonfly, I have it all planned out.
I will tell you about it when the time is right.
Angel, are you mad at me because I forgot about you?
Of course not, I am here to arrange things so that you can forget me.
However, Hermione couldn’t push away that feeling that he was mad at her, or at least surprised, as if something unexpected had happened, but she didn’t have time to dwell on it. Up ahead she could see Ginny, Neville, Padma, and Luna waiting for them so that they could all head to Hogsmeade.
“What took you guys so long?” Ginny asked as they joined the group.
“It was my fault; I saw Harry as I was going up to change and asked him to wait for me, so I could have someone to walk with. I guess it took longer for me to decide on what to wear than I thought it would. Sorry guys.” Hermione responded quickly repeating what Angel whispered into her ear to say.
“Oh, well while we were waiting for the two of you we decided that we would pair off to shop for the others. Then we could meet up in the Three Broomsticks for lunch and regroup before finishing our Christmas shopping.” Ginny said, taking hold of Harry’s hand and giving him a kiss on the cheek.
“Hermione, you will be with me, Harry with Ginny obviously and Neville with Luna, at least until lunch.” Padma spoke up while wrapping an arm through Hermione’s and pulling her along.
“Sounds like a plan.” Hermione responded, letting Padma drag her away from the others and towards a carriage.
Off to Hogsmeade they go.
**Flashback, came from Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's stone, as much of it I could remember. I know in the movie Hermione fixes Harry's glasses, but in the book she didn't so I decided to go with the book version of their first meeting.
If you could help feed the little box below with reviews it would be greatly appreciated.
Hermione could see people staring at her as she walked down the streets of Hogsmeade towards the Three Broomsticks. For the past hour every time she went into a store, she seemed to catch people staring at her. It was a new sensation that she wasn’t used to having and it caused her a spasm of anxiety.
Were they laughing at her? Did she look silly; was she walking wrong somehow?
Just breathe and walk tall. Angel’s voice sounded amused within her ear.
“I was going to ask you earlier, but why did it take you so long to change and meet us in the entrance hall? What were Harry and you doing?” Padma asked opening the door to the Three Broomsticks, looking back at Hermione before walking in.
“I umm couldn’t figure out what to wear.” Hermione responded following after Padma completely ignoring her second question.
Walking over to a window table that was free Hermione began to notice that some of the other students were looking at her, especially the boys. It was the sort of look she’d never imagined getting from any boy other than Ron.
Take out your compact and fix your lipstick. It seems to have gone away somehow. Angel sounded as puzzled as any human boy.
Hermione pulled out her compact and fixed the lipstick. She was somewhat reassured by the sight of herself in the mirror. The girl there wasn’t Hermione at all, but a slender, insubstantial femme fatale sheathed like a dagger in all black. Her brown eyes were subtly shadowed giving them a more caramel coloring that made them look mysterious and haunting. Her mouth was soft, red, and full: perfect, like the mouth of a model in a lipstick commercial. Against the stark black of her clothing, her skin had the slightly translucent look of apple blossoms.
She’s beautiful, Hermione thought. I mean, I am, she corrected herself.
Closing her compact, she looked up as Madam Rosette came by their table for their order. She order the two of them a couple of butterbeer’s and smiled as Neville and Luna joined them adding another two butterbeer’s to their order.
“Hey guys, did you get your shopping all finished?” Hermione asked Neville and Luna as they sat down on the other side of Padma.
“Yep, all finished. Now I just have to finish wrapping some of the presents,” Neville answered.
“You should have seen the nargles following…”
Hermione could hear the voices from the other people seated at the tables surrounding her little group. Mostly it consisted of bright friendly chatter and murmurs of admiration over some gift they had bought for a friend or family member. She thought she heard her name mentioned, and so she started focusing on the conversation coming from behind her
“I heard that she had tried to kill herself.”
The voices sounded horribly loud and clear to Hermione, standing out against the background noise of the pub. She could feel her whole skin tingling with shock and she lost track of the story Luna was currently telling.
Angel who said that? Are they really talking about me? She didn’t dare look behind her to see who was speaking.
“From what I heard, she had been having hallucinations and suffering from depression ever since the war.”
This time the voice was so loud that it cut through the banter of her group. Luna stopped in midsentence, Neville’s smile faltered and an awkward silence seemed to fall over the whole group. Hermione felt a wave of anger flow through her body that made her dizzy.
Who said that? I’ll hex them-
Calm down! Calm down. That’s not the way to handle it at all. Angel shouted into her ear, gaining her complete attention.
Now repeat after me while making your voice as calm and cool as you possibly can, I really hate rumors, don’t you? I don’t know what kind of people starts them, probably some insecure Slytherin.
Hermione took two deep breaths and obeyed, although her voice wasn’t as cool as Angel would have liked. It had a small little tremor within it.
“I don’t know either,” a new voice sounded next to her. Looking up, she saw that Harry and Ginny had just joined the group and was currently staring daggers at the tables behind her. “But I think they are pretty sick and they should get a life before I hex their mouth shut.”
There was the cold glint in his eyes that had given him his reputation as a tough guy and defender of all. Hermione felt as if a hand had steadied her and gratitude rushed through her.
“I hate rumors, too,” Padma spoke up in a quiet voice. “Somebody was putting around the rumor last year that I had tried to kill myself. I never did find out who started it.”
Suddenly the whole group was talking about rumors, the people who spread rumors, and the types of hexes are good for dealing with people like that. The group was rallying around her.
But it was Harry who stood up for me first, she thought to herself. She had just looked over at him, trying to catch his eye, when she heard the tinkling music.
It was almost musical, but the kind of sound that draws attention immediately in a crowded pub like this one. Somebody had broken a glass. Hermione, along with everyone else, glanced around to see who’d done it.
She couldn’t see anybody. No one had the right expression of dismay, no one focused on anything definite. Everybody was looking around in search mode, even Madam Rosette, who was currently scanning the room from her position at the bar.
Then she heard it again, glancing towards the window, she realized that light was reflecting off it oddly, almost prismatically. There seemed to be crazy rainbows in the glass, and something was sparkling down from the top of the window, falling like a few specks of snow. It hit the ground not far from her table and tinkled.
Realization flashed on Hermione. She was on her feet, but the only words that she could find were, “Oh, Merlin!”
“Everybody, move quick, the windows shattered! Get out of the way! Move!”
It was Harry, waving at the people closest to the window to get out of the way. He was shooting off shield spells and running towards the group of first years that seemed frozen in place.
Other people were shouting. People were pushing each other around, deperate to get out of the way of the window. Suddenly the window, exploded in a wide array of chunks. It was falling almost poetically, raining and crumbling, shining and crashing all at the same time.
At last it was over, and the line of windows were gone leaving an arch shaped hold with jagged teeth clinging to the edges. Glass had flown and bounced and skittered all over the pub, where it lay like hailstones. Those that couldn’t get out of the way fast enough or cast a protection spell fast enough were examining cuts from ricocheting bits.
Thankfully nobody had been directly in range of the window and nobody seemed seriously hurt.
Thanks to Harry, Hermione thought. He got them all out of the way in time and those shields he shot off seemed to help a lot. I hope he isn’t hurt.
He’s fine. What makes you think he did it all alone? Maybe I had some part in helping to make sure no one was hurt. I can do that you know. Angel’s voice sounded piqued.
You did? Well, that was really nice of you.
Hermione watched as Harry cross the pub, and watched as Ginny examine his arm, nod, shrug, then look around. She was relieved to see that he wasn’t hurt. It was then that it occurred to her to wonder what had happened.
Before it shattered, the window looked just like the mirror had in the bathroom. Just like the bathroom mirror the window was evenly shattered from side to side, spidery cracks over every inch of the surface. This window… it had started falling a few minutes after someone insulted her. Nobody had heard it actually break, but it couldn’t have happened too long ago.
The small hairs on the back of her neck stirred and she felt a fluttering inside her stomach. It couldn’t be. Angel hadn’t even appeared to her yet, but then again he had said that he was always with her. However, an angel wouldn’t destroy things, or could they…
Excuse me. Hello? Do you want to share some thoughts with me?
For the first time since his soft voice had sounded in her ear, Hermione felt a sense of a lack of privacy. The uneasy fluttering inside her increased.
Angel, I was just wondering… you wouldn’t would you? You didn’t do those things for my sake?
A pause and then, in her head, riotous laughter. Angel was laughing, great big whooping laughs that rocked her off center. Finally, the sounds died to mental hiccups.
Hermione was embarrassed. I shouldn’t have asked. It was just so weird…
Yeah wasn’t it. This time Angel sounded grimly amused. Looks like all the students are being herbed back to the school, so you best get going.
Hermione coasted on through the rest of the day up till dinner in a haze. So much had happened today that she felt as if she’d led a full life between waking up and now, but the day wasn’t over yet.
In the last few minutes before the end of dinner, Susan Bones moved from where she was seated and came to sit next to Hermione.
“You know, there are other rumors going around about you. That Harry and you have something going on behind Ginny’s back. That you meet secretly in the mornings and ...,” Susan shrugged, pushing back her hair from her face and grabbing a pastry from the plate in front of Hermione.
Hermione felt jolted awake. “So?”
“So you really should do something about it. Rumors spread fast, and they grow. I know, you rather deny them or disarm them,” Susan’s lips quirked into a smile.
Oh yeah? Just how am I supposed to do that?
Shut up and listen to her, kid. This one is a smart cookie.
“If there are parts that are true, it’s usually best to admit those in public. That takes some of the punch out of them and it’s always helpful to track down the person who actually started the rumors.”
Tell her you know that and that you are going to talk to Ginny right after dinner. Angel interjected into her ear throwing her off center a bit.
Somehow she managed to gather herself quickly enough to repeat Angel’s words. Susan looked at her with a new expression of respect.
“Guess you didn’t need my help after all.”
“No,” Hermione said without Angel’s prompting. “I’m always glad for help.”
So it was Ginny, who started the rumor about me trying to kill myself. Hermione almost stumbled as she trudged out of the Great hall. Somehow, she’d have thought Ginny was above all that and that they were better friends than that.
She had help. It takes a really efficient system to get a rumor to peak circulation that fast. However, she was the instigator. Turn left here.
Where are you taking me?
You are going to going to catch her alone and confront her about the rumors. She is currently practicing spells in an empty classroom at the end of the hall.
Hermione felt distantly amused. She sensed that Angel had a hand in these arrangements. Poking her head into the room, she saw that Ginny was indeed alone. The red-headed girl was standing in the middle of the room practicing levitating more than one chair at the same time.
“Ginny, we need to talk.”
Ginny’s shoulders stiffened, she ran a hand through her hair, before turning to face Hermione.
“Hey, Hermione, what’s going on?”
What followed was more like a play than a conversation for Hermione. She repeated what Angel whispered to her, but she never had any idea what was coming. The only way to survive was to give herself up completely to his direction.
“Look, I know you’re upset with me, Ginny. I thought we were better friends than this.” She followed Angel’s instructions over to a desk and brushed absent fingers over oak wood finish. “I don’t think there is any reason for us to act like children.”
“I don’t think I know what you are talking about.”
“Oh, really?” Hermione turned and looked Ginny in the face. “I think you know exactly what I am talking about.”
Angel, I feel just like one of those silly muggle actors performing in a soap opera.
“Well, you’re wrong. I happen to be busy at the moment so if you are done-“
“I’m talking about the rumors, Ginny. I’m talking about the stories going around the school that I was trying to kill myself when I fell in the creek. I’m talking about Harry.”
Ginny stood perfectly still. For a moment she seemed surprised that Hermione was taking such a direct approach. Then her eyes hardened with the clear light of battle.
“All right, let’s talk about Harry,” she said in a pleasant voice, moving tigerishly towards Hermione. “I don’t know any rumors, but I’d like to hear what Harry and you were doing this morning. Care to tell me?”
“We weren’t doing anything,” Hermione said. “I will admit that I like Harry, I have ever since Ron and him saved me from the troll in our first year. He’s good, noble, honest, sweet, brave, and loyal. However, that doesn’t mean that I would so something so underhanded as to steal him away from you and risk messing up our friendship.”
She turned and walked away, looking into the distance.
“In fact, I think Harry deserves the best. I know he really cares about you and the both of us would never do something that would hurt someone we cared about.”
Ginny’s eyes were glittering. “Don’t try to pull that. All this…,” she waved a hand to indicate Hermione’s new look. “In one day you turn from Little Miss Invisible Know It All to this. You can’t pretend you’re not trying to get him, I am smarter than that.”
“Ginny, the way I have decided to dress has nothing to do with Harry.” She told the lie calmly, facing the chalk-misted blackboard at the front of the empty classroom. “It is just something I decided to try because I was tired of being invisible. The real issue has nothing to do with my clothing choices but what is best for Harry and that is you, as long as you treat him fairly.”
“And what is that supposed to mean?” Ginny was losing her legendary cool. She sounded venomous to the point of being shrill.
“It means no more fooling around with Dean Thomas.”
Oh, Merlin, Angel! Dean Thomas, she’s been cheating on Harry with Dean Thomas. Are you sure?
No questions, just keep repeating.
Ginny’s voice cracked like a whip. “What are you talking about? What do you know?”
“I am talking about all those late night visits to Dean’s house while Harry was working on fixing up Grimmauld’s place. I am talking about the incident in the broom closet when you disappeared during the Halloween dance.”
There was a silence. When Ginny spoke again, her voice was a sort of icy explosion of fury. “How did you find out?”
Hermione shrugged as Angel told her to and continued. “People who are good at spreading rumors can be a two-edged sword.”
“I suppose you’re planning to tell Harry about this?”
“Huh?” For a moment Hermione was too confused to follow Angel’s directions. Then she got a hold of herself. “Oh, of course I am not going to tell Harry, it would break his heart. I just want you to promise that you are not going to do anything like that ever again. I would also appreciate if you would stop telling people that I was trying to kill myself.”
“I’ll do worse than that!” Suddenly Ginny was standing right behind Hermione. Her voice was a yelling hiss. “You have no idea what I will do if you ever tell Harry about this. I will make you sorry if you even think about telling-“
“No, I think you have done plenty already.”
The voice came from the door. Hermione heard it and in that instant she understood everything, turning around Hermione saw that Harry standing in the doorway.