Chapter 1 : Dreams
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Chapter 1: Dreams
A woman stood at the brink of an old forest. There were two breaks in the trees; two paths in which to enter. Though they held different journeys, the destination was the same. The woman turned her eyes upon her attire. Her robe and gown were of a flowing blue. Her belt was of the purest white and was diamond studded. On the belt was a sword. A brilliantly carved hilt and curved blade, it was with her to defend her against the perils that she would face on either path. She had to enter. Her journey through the forest would start soon; the first step was to choose.
As her vision crossed between one path and the other, her sight was suddenly filled with a white ring of symbols. As her eyes fell on the left path, the ring became a deep blue. On the right, a blinding white. She had to choose. Her gazed lingered on the left path. Then it turned to the right. Indecision. It seemed to plague the woman. She seemed to know what would transpire the moment she entered either path. It made her hesitate. She looked back to the left path. Then, with the ring still glowing blue, she stepped forward.
Hermione woke with a start. Cold sweat saturated her body. Fumbling for her lamp, her room was soon enveloped in light. Breathing heavily, she quickly glanced at her clock: it was two in the morning. Her room was in a normal state. Books and parchment were strewn on her desk. Recent letters from Harry and Ron were on her nightstand next to her lamp. Her dream was the only thing out of the ordinary.
Hermione had experienced many of these dreams since the end of term at Hogwarts last year. The first of the dreams was hazy, as if she was surrounded in mist or fog. It was the night after she had pulled Harry out of the path of Voldemort’s killing curse. The ring of symbols appeared just as she had touched Harry. But that was only fleeting. Each night afterwards became longer and more vivid. Each dream was the same. She was wearing the same flowing gowns; the same sword; the same forest; the same choice to make. Tonight’s dream had the first new occurrence. This time the ring of the strange letters changed color as she looked from one path to another, and it seemed as though she had picked which path to take.
But what did it all mean?
Hermione got out of bed and put her Hogwarts cape on. Quietly stepping down the stairs, she went to the kitchen. Resisting the urge to just conjure up some tea, Hermione set the kettle on the stove and sat at the table in waiting.
The 17-year-old witch was intelligent and had proven herself on more than one occasion that she was powerful. More so than most muggle-borns at Hogwarts. She had wit, style, cunning, intelligence, and a knack for solving problems. But her dream was the most confusing and annoying problem that she had ever encountered.
The kettle started to whistle quietly. Hermione quickly plucked the pot from the stove and made her tea. Sitting back at the table, Hermione continued her thoughts. The blue dress; the white belt; the sword; the forest; the ring of symbols; they all made no sense.
Trying to think of something a little less confusing, she decided to think of what she would send Harry for his 17th birthday. “I’ll ask mum if she’ll take me to London tomorrow,” she thought aloud. She finished her tea with one last gulp and went back up to her bed to sleep.
Morning arrived with no repeat of the dream. Breakfast was quick, for when she asked her mother to take her to London the answer was yes, as long as they could leave within the next fifteen minutes.
Jane Granger was very proud of her daughter. Hermione was a very intelligent and sensible girl. And from the owls that showed up from the Headmaster and Transfiguration teacher, Hermione was also a very gifted witch. But having a witch in the family made explanations and excuses difficult. Sworn to secrecy about Hermione’s other life, Jane was forced to lie to her own parents about the school that she went to and what career Hermione wanted to pursue. The last six years were very taxing on she and her husband, Peter. They would both be glad when the schooling was done. But that also meant new lies would have to be told to cover for Hermione’s absence from a University or other career. That wasn’t something to look forward to.
The thirty minute car trip was spent by talking about Hermione’s recent unwillingness to talk about what she was doing at school. There must be something going on besides regular school work. For the last two Christmas breaks Hermione had abruptly ended her vacation with them for some urgent reason. Her letters were few and far between; especially last year. Jane had thirty minutes to find out why. This time Hermione had no escape.
“Has anything been happening at Hogwarts lately?” she asked when they were out of the neighborhood.
“Not much. I told you what was going on in my letters,” Hermione answered as she looked through her handbag. Her mother sighed. It wasn’t exactly a lie. Hermione had kept her parents up to date on what was going on in the wizarding world. She just didn’t tell them everything. They didn’t need to know everything. Everything wasn’t something her parents could cope with.
Hermione knew exactly how her parents would respond if she told them that just a month ago she had nearly died helping Harry fight Voldemort. Her mother would become a bit hysterical and her dad would become overly protective. They would refuse to let her resume her education at Hogwarts unless she gave them weekly reports at least five pages long, describing everything that was happening not only at Hogwarts, but in the general wizarding world.
She knew this because it is exactly what happened after second year when they found out about her being attacked by a giant snake.
“You didn’t tell me everything, Hermione, so don’t try and pull one over me.” Hermione looked up to find her mother gripping the steering wheel tightly and her jaw set. “I want to know what has been going on. Every time you get an owl with news of anything you won’t tell me or your father what is going on or who the news is from.” Her tone was sharp.
“Mum…” she began desperately.
“Don’t you mum me, Hermione. There is something going on and it isn’t ‘nothing’.” Hermione could only stare. This was not how she wanted the day to start. But her mother’s next question nearly made her choke on her own saliva.
“Who is this Dark Lord? This ‘you-know-who’?”
“How do you know about that?” she asked quietly.
“You father and I found an old newspaper in the bin after you went to bed last week.” The cat was out of the bag and it wasn’t going to be pushed back in.
Taking a deep breath she began. Slowly and quietly, she began with fifth year. They had wondered where she was for the summer before that fateful year. This was not going to be pleasant. It was going to be a long thirty minutes.
They had been parked on the street for almost fifteen minutes. Jane hadn’t said a word for a full twenty-five minutes.
“I’m sorry I didn’t tell you before, mum,” Hermione said breaking the unbearable silence. “I didn’t want you to worry about me any more than you already do.” Her mother nodded slowly.
“I understand, Hermione. I just wish that you would have trusted your father and I with this information. We are both trying to be supportive in every way possible, but it is hard when we don’t know what to support you in other than school work.” She sighed and continued to stare out the front window.
A fresh wave of guilt washed over Hermione. It was a bit selfish. She could hardly begin to imagine what it is like to have a daughter live her life in a whole other world. I won’t do this anymore, she told herself. I can’t keep them in the dark.
They sat in silence for a few more minutes when, glancing at her mother, Hermione suddenly felt as though the breath had been knocked out of her and ice was forming in her blood. Looking at her mother’s distressed face; a sensation dawned on her that wasn’t very pleasant. The sensation of this being the last time she would see her mother alive.
It was a crazy feeling, with no reason to even exist, and yet that is what every part of her body was telling her.
“What time shall I pick you up, Hermione?” she asked abruptly.
Shaking herself from the frigid feeling, Hermione answered, “Oh, I don’t know…a few hours? I’ll give you a ring when I’m about through, all right?” Hermione said. Her mother answered with a nod and drove away when Hermione shut the door.
Hermione watched her mother go. The cold paralyzing feeling had lodged itself in the pit of her stomach refusing to leave. This was not a great way to start out the day.
Oh snap out of it!
Having absolutely no idea what to get Harry, Hermione walked a few blocks until she got to a crowded corner. She saw a small, out of the way shop across the street and, after waiting for traffic, walked across the street and went in. As she entered her eyes fell on a green cup. Upon closer inspection she found the cup to have lighting bolts etched in the handle. She laughed aloud and passed it by.
She weaved in and out of the isles of tables until her eyes rested upon a small pendent. The figure was familiar some how. She reached out to pick it up, but as soon as her fingers brushed the silver metal the ring from her dream flashed in front of her eyes.
She jumped at its appearance. Not here! she inwardly groaned. This was not the place for anything magical to happen. But…why would the ring appear now? Why when she touched the pendent? Hermione reached out to take the pendent again, expecting to see another vision. But there was none this time. Maybe I was just seeing things, she told herself. She examined the strange figure closely. The form was so familiar.
Placing the pendent back on the table, the ring flashed again. What was going on? She picked it back up. Nothing happened. Oh well, she thought. A necklace was certainly not for Harry, but she had brought one-hundred pounds with her, so why not get something for herself? After paying four pounds for the necklace, she walked out of the store and put it on.
Determined to find something for Harry, Hermione set out for Diagon Alley to find something that he would like.
Stepping from the Leaky Cauldron entrance and retrieving her mother’s cell phone from her handbag several hours later, she was just to dial in her home number when she remembered something: her mother wasn’t off from the office until 3. This was also the first day all summer she had been in London by herself. Why not find a café and start the book she had just bought?
She returned the cell phone to her bag and headed down the street.
Nearly four in the afternoon, the Grangers were discussing what to give Hermione for her eighteenth birthday. “I don’t really know what she wants besides those wizard books,” Peter began. “And she already has a pet,” he said as Crookshanks rubbed against his leg. “And he really scares me sometimes. Those yellow eyes always have this knowing look.” She smiled as Crookshanks purred lovingly and trotted over to her.
Jane had decided not to tell Peter any of what Hermione told her that morning. He would have too many questions and this was something the three of them needed to discuss together.
“Peter…” she began delicately. They were about to embark on a subject that she had avoided for nearly eighteen years. “I don’t know what she wants either, but I have been thinking…”
“What?” Peter asked with uneasiness.
“You know she is almost 18...”
“Don’t you think it is about time we give her the ring?”
Peter thought for a moment. “Do we have to explain the meaning behind it?” Jane gazed at her husband. They both knew this day would come. They made a promise.
“No. Not on her birthday. That wouldn’t be right. Just give her the ring. It is a gorgeous ring. We could say that I bought it after I dropped her off.” Her husband took the plan in.
“Alright. Where did you put it?” He expected to see his wife disappear into the bedroom or something, but instead she pulled the silver box from behind her back. Jane walked over to her husband and sat next to him on the sofa.
She opened the box to reveal a crystal white ring. It was beautiful. Peter looked to his wife.
“You were planning on giving it to her this year anyway, weren’t you?” It wasn’t a question.
“They told us to give it to her on her 18th birthday, remember?”
“I tried not to,” he admitted. Jane opened her mouth to say something, but she was interrupted by a knock at the door.
As she rounded the corner, Peter asked her when Hermione would be calling. She never got the chance to answer. Jane opened the door to see two hooded figures…with wands extended. She screamed as two jets of green light pierced through her body, and she collapsed to the floor. Ring still in hand.
Peter rounded the corner at the sound of her scream and was alive long enough to see his dead wife and two jets of green light come from two hooded figures.
Hermione let out a shriek of pain as the ring of symbols burned angrily in her vision. Then, as if all time stood still, she saw them. Her parents. Sprawled on the floor and two hooded figures step over them. The ring ever-encircling her vision. It was burning red as if angered by their deaths. She blinked to find herself back on the sidewalk in London. With no wand and no way to apparate.
Mum! Dad! She screamed in her thoughts. I have to get there!!! As if granting her wish, the ring turned bright red and she was standing in front of her house.
Fury flowing through her veins, Hermione stormed into the house to find her parents sprawled on the floor just as she had seen only moments ago on a London street corner. Tears running down her cheeks, Hermione reached out to touch her mother and father. Her mother’s face portraying that of the most dreaded fear and her father’s of sorrow.
“Well, well, well. What do we have here?” a cold voice said from behind Hermione. “The little Mudblood has come home. Lucky for us, we happened to stay.” Hermione was shaking with rage. The Ring had not left her vision. It was burning with fury. She turned slowly to face her parents’ murderers.
It was Bellatrix Lestrange. Behind her was some man. Bella laughed softly. “Oh, is the little Mudblood angry?”
“I am going to kill you,” Hermione said between her teeth. Her voice hoarse and shaking. She returned her focus to her parents lying on the floor. Their eyes were pleading. After seventeen years they were gone. And the two people who stood behind her in arrogant pride had killed them. The woman laughed aloud, as did the man behind her.
“I doubt you could muster the power, or the dark magic behind it, Mudblood. Now,” Lestrange said as she took a step forward, “You can come with us quietly or we can force you. Either way you will come with us.”
“I am going to kill you!” she shouted with strange confidence. Her voice was as cold as Lestrange’s. With all her fury, Hermione threw herself at Bellatrix. Momentarily caught off guard, Lestrange was tackled to the ground; her wand flew across the hall and into the kitchen.
The symbols in Hermione’s vision were changing form rapidly. Still burning an angry red, they seemed to give Hermione all the strength and power she needed to subdue Lestrange. She could hear the other Death Eater trying to curse her, but she and Lestrange were wrestling and moving too much to be hit.
“STUN HER! STUN HER!” Bellatrix was screaming at the other Death Eater. But her cries were met with consecutive misses. With a loud snap Lestrange went limp. Her neck had broken. She was dead.
Still fuming, Hermione got up and glared at the second Death Eater. The Ring was now a deathly black. She could feel power backing her every fiber. The Ring was in control. Nothing mattered. It didn’t matter that the Death Eater had a wand and she didn’t. It didn’t matter that she had no way to defend herself. It didn’t matter that she stood in the open hallway with no where to turn to keep from being killed. All that mattered was the second Death Eater and how to kill him. She saw him raise his wand. Heard the two words of death leave his mouth, and saw the green jet of light leave the tip of his wand.
Still in control of her, the Ring blinded her with light the moment the Death Eater finished his spell. Her hand immediately felt as though it had been dipped in fire. Intense pain shot through her. Something fell to the floor in front of her.
Hermione collapsed to her knees. The hall was swirling out of existence. She heard the pounding of hooves and more bright light engulfed her from behind.
Strong arms picked her up.
Then all was dark.