Chapter 8 : Hermione's Nightmare
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Two months after the initial arrival of the terrible letter, Harry strode exhaustedly towards Llyr. He had just had another hard and tiring session with Dumbledore. After the letter arrived, Dumbledore's sessions became even more demanding than before. It was midnight, three hours later than usual, as Harry couldn't get the sword fighting right. Interesting, Dumbledore is teaching him sword fighting, wrestling, among all the other duel techniques. One would thought that Voldemort would be too stuck up about being a pureblood that he wouldn't even bother learning sword fighting. However, Dumbledore insisted upon teaching him all these, saying that they might save his life someday.
All of Harry's mails have to go through Dumbledore's inspection ever since that weird letter. Already, Dumbledore found two more of those letters, one from each month. The characters in the envelops now said- 天上地- in chronological order. Dumbledore seemed to be really worried about it. He still didn't tell Harry what it was, only that it was very serious and that each letter's magic was stronger than the last. Although Harry hadn't had too much information on the subject, he knew that it was something Dumbledore feared for Dumbledore was always reading these days and the books he read were all about dark arts. Harry was worried, but he didn't tell Hermione or Ron anything. However, he suspected that Hermione had already guessed for she, too, took a lot of interests in reading about dark arts.
Ron had been quite worried when Hermione and Duncan were sent to the Hospital Wing and came to see them straight away. After the Hermione had gotten out of the Hospital Wing, Ron confronted Harry and Hermione a little angrily. "Do you two still see me as a friend?" he had demanded. However, he understood and forgave them after they explained the reason they didn't attend the ball. He also announced the good news that he had finally found his significant other, who knew and understood him. Harry and Hermione were happy for Ron. Harry joked that had it not been for their absences, Ron would never really get to know Luna that well. For that, Harry received a good punch in the nose. Over the two months time, Ron and Luna had become the most loving couple known in Hogwarts.
As for Dobby, after he came back from his little break with Winky, he was scared witless by Hermione and Duncan's state of health. He cried and tried beating himself up over the incident and only calmed down after Harry and Ron tied his arms together with ropes. He never left Duncan for a break again, much to Hermione's disapproval. Luckily, Harry was able to persuade Dobby to take two more Galleons for his work on his supposedly off-days and that shut Hermione up a bit.
As Harry entered Llyr, he discovered a Hermione dressed in nightgowns had fallen asleep over her books by the table. Despite of his exhaustion, Harry smiled as he gazed at the sleeping girl before him. Hermione had such a lovely and innocent look on her face when she was sleeping, which made her seemed vulnerable. For the past two days, Harry had been wondering if they would really kiss had the blasted owl not disturbed them and what the kiss would be like if they had. He felt guilty and confused thinking such thoughts though. He didn't know whether it was appropriate to think of Hermione like that. Sometimes Harry thought it was okay, because he felt that Hermione might like him the same way. Other times, he felt it wasn't right. His feeling at the moment was all tangled up and he didn't know how to sort it out. Just gazing at Hermione, Harry thought of the one other person he loved apart from his two best friends (or was it one best friend and one girl... no that can't be), Duncan.
Duncan, of course, the baby Harry came to love as dearly as his own son, or so he would had he had one, had learnt to sit and crawl during the past two months. Harry could never forget the surprise when he came back to Llyr one night a month before and there sat Duncan on his baby carriage, waiting for his return. Hermione had been so proud that day that her face glowed like a light bulb. Nor could Harry forget the pleasant surprise when Duncan somehow managed to crawl out of his baby carriage at breakfast a week ago and tugged his pants. Even Dobby squaled in happiness that day. Of course, there had been another big Duncan fan girls uproar that morning, which took all Dumbledore, Snape and McGonagall's strengths to stop. Not that the teachers weren't Duncan fans. Even Snape couldn't be too severe these days when it came to Duncan, although everyone could tell how much he wanted to be mean and nasty to the innocent baby too.
Duncan's ability to crawl certainly meant more troubles for Harry and Hermione to deal with. Duncan can be very restless these days. He loved to explore the world around him. Many times already, Duncan had been caught out of his baby carriage and cradle without permission. Though how he got down from those high places was still mystery, it was a fact that he was capable of disappearing to places no one could find him. Ever since Duncan mastered the art of crawling very fast, he was harder than ever to catch. Once, he sneaked out of the carriage while Harry and Hermione were busily doing homework and Dobby was busy tidying up the suite. No one noticed until dinner time. Duncan had crawled all the way up to the Astronomy Tower and no one could find him. At last, Harry, who thought of using the Maurader's Map, finally found him. It was a good thing at Christmas was coming. Harry could do with a holiday without doing schoolwork and watching over Duncan at the same time.
Harry smiled at the memory of Duncan's disappearing act as he turned his attention back to Hermione. Dark Arts Through the Ages, read the title of the book Hermione fell asleep on. The appearance of that book was very tatty. The leather binding the book was falling apart and the pages were torn. Harry shook his head. She really should have been in bed hours ago. Today was the last day of the term and she could have gone to bed early. However, Hermione hardly ever go to bed before Harry since they moved into Llyr. Therefore, she was probably up waiting for him.
"Hermione," said Harry as he tried to nudge her awake. "Hermione, go to bed to sleep."
Hermione didn't opened her eyes as she responded, "Hmm?"
Harry tried again. "Go to bed, Hermione. Don't sleep on the table. You'll catch a cold."
Hermione didn't even respond this time. She didn't even moved a muscle as Harry talked to her.
With a sigh, Harry bent and picked Hermione up. Goodness, she's light, thought Harry. What has she been eating these days? Oxygen? Harry carried Hermione into their bedroom and put her down on the bed lightly. Suddenly, Hermione began to talk.
"Harry..." she mumbled in her sleep. "Don't go! He would kill you if you do. You can't leave Duncan and me here by ourselves!"
"What?" Harry was just getting undressed for bed. He turned around quickly and found Hermione sobbing her hearts out on the bed. She must be having a bad dream.
"Voldemort knows the ancient Chinese dark magic- Tan Dee San Cia. That's what those mysterious letters had been. He would kill you! I don't want to live without you. I can't live without you. What about Duncan? Don't go... Harry!" screamed Hermione.
Harry rushed to her side and woke her up. "Hermione! Hermione! Wake up, I'm still here. I haven't gone away. Hermione! Hermione!"
"Harry..." a tearful Hermione finally opened her eyes sleepily. She grabbed Harry's shirtless chest and sobbed violently. "Don't go, Harry. Stay with Duncan and me, please. Voldemort would kill you. I don't want you to die. I love you...."
Harry was shocked by Hermione's words. Not so much as the first part, for he always knew that the dark lord wanted his life. He was surprised and delighted that Hermione felt the same way he felt for her. He pulled Hermione closer and patted her on the back. "Shhh... it's ok, I'm not going anywhere. I love you too."
"Harry?" for the first time that night, Hermione seemed to be sober. "Oh, Harry, what did I say?"
"You said you love me," said Harry and chuckled at Hermione's horrified expression. "It's okay, because I love you too. I have been wondering if you love me for ages."
Hermione smiled and blushed. "Really? I thought...."
"That I'd never feel that way for you? That's what I thought too," said Harry as he cradled Hermione in his arms. "Where was I going in your dream that caused you to cry so much?"
"You were going to a battle against Voldemort." Hermione shuddered. "He knows the ancient Chinese dark arts no one else knows. You would certainly die for no one else had mastered the art in the last two thousand years."
Harry stared at her intensely. "How did you know that? Who told you? Did you have weird dreams? Like the ones I used to get in the fifth year?"
Hermione shook her head. "No, I found that from the books. I've been doing some researching ever since you received the first letter. I've finally found a little chapter on it today. I was reading it just before I fell asleep. It's complicated and very dark. It could...." Hermione was no longer able to continue. She shivered in Harry's arms as she recalled the terrible facts from the book.
Harry pressed his lips against Hermione's forehead. "It's all right. We are safe for now. Don't worry about it now. Sleep, and we'll figure everything out tomorrow morning."
"I'm scared, Harry." This was the sort of things that didn't usually come out of Hermione's mouth. "I'm scared. Don't leave me."
"I won't," promised Harry. He held to Hermione, the girl he could now admit that he loved, in his embrace.
Half an hour later, Harry put the sleeping Hermione down on the bed. He could hear Duncan crying for food next door and Dobby scampering about, preparing food for the little one.
As Harry changed into something more comfortable to sleep in, he noticed that it was snowing. Hermione is going to love that, grinned Harry as he remember Hermione's love for snow.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
"Harry! It's snowing!" Hermione's excited cries woke Harry up early in the morning. "Look, the ground is covered in white! Snow never arrive this early!"
Harry leapt out of the bed and swirled Hermione around the room. "I'm so happy today! I am loved by the greatest witch in the world!"
Hermione didn't get it at first, but soon remembered the events of the previous night. She grinned and kissed Harry on the cheek. "So am I. I am loved by the greatest wizard in the Solar System!"
"Ahem!" Ron's cough caught them in surprise totally. Obviously, he snuck in once more but didn't succeed in playing the prank again. He glanced at the blushing couple before him and asked, "What is the Saucer Sysem? Is it some kind of nice food? Wait a minute..." Ron studied his best friends closely. "Is there something I should know?"
A/N: I know, I know, I know, and I am very very very sorry. I'm sorry for not updating for so long and I know that my excuse of being too busy is overused already. But the truth is, I have been so busy since last time I've updated. First, school started and it took me a while to adjust to the new year. Second, I got terribly sick... three times in a row of different sickness. Third, right after I finally recovered, the term is ending and I had to prepare for all sorts of end of term topic tests and assignments. But wait, there's more. Even though I battled my way through various projects and tests and holiday is finally coming, I discovered that this holiday is extremely busy for me. Up in my schedule, I have to find my formal dress before the ball in four weeks time, do some voluntary toilet cleaning as part of the school community service program, find three different place of different job type to spend a day with each for the school career Work Exploration program, attend various classes ever now and then, teaching little kids math as a reliever teacher for me friend, and help building the stage and making the props for the school show "Dracula" this year. See, I'm not getting any rests at all. And next term is pretty much all booked out as well. Furthermore, the "Dracula" drama teacher/director wants to name me the stage manager for the show. That's being discussed at the moment, both between the other directors/producers and between my mother and me. Anyway, I was reading over some reviews just today and felt really guilty about not updating. So I did. It's not really a good chapter, but I hope it'll be ok for now.
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