Chapter 7 : All Over Again
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Never in her life did Hermione imagine that she would be going to her parents’ funeral. That she would be standing next to their caskets before the age of sixty, let alone eighteen, was impossible. Yet here she was, standing just barely ten feet from them. Only twelve days since the Death Eater’s attacked, Hermione was listening to the minister talk about her parents as the warm wind brushed by the caskets. Even with Harry, the Weasley’s, and McGonagall with her, she still felt alone.
All of her family stood on one side of the caskets, she on the other. Her grandparents and aunts and uncles all asked for an explanation. They knew the police report, of course, but it didn’t make sense.
Who would want to murder two dentists? Where was she? If she was in London, why were her shopping bags near the house? Not being able to answer these questions honestly only added to Hermione’s misery.
The rift between her Muggle relatives was now permanent. This was the final unexplained happening involving Hermione. She wouldn’t really be part of the family as she used to be.
Hermione had not just lost her parents. She had lost everyone.
The minister finished his speech and called for members of the family to give their comments.
Harry wrapped his arm around Hermione’s shoulders and gave a squeeze in support when her mother’s sister stepped forward. Her whole family was eyeing her with a mixture of anger, confusion, and hurt. Several times Hermione had motioned to move to the front, when a cousin or aunt would quickly step forward and cut off her attempt. But they couldn’t all talk forever and soon enough they had all finished.
He gave her another supporting squeeze and gave her a smile when she glanced at him before she stepped up to their caskets.
Two finely varnished and polished oak caskets sat in parallel before her. On her left held her mother, the right her father. Below them were two holes, ready to enclose her parents for eternity.
A stiff breeze made its way through the cemetery. The flowers that lay on the two caskets were blown off and fell into the ground.
“Mum loved flowers,” she heard herself say. “Whenever I was sick she would bring in fresh cut daisies or lilacs from the market to cheer up the house…and me…”
Harry and Ron listened as Hermione made her brief comments. It was impossible to even imagine how it felt for her to do this, but she hadn’t shed a tear and her voice didn’t waiver. She stood still with such strength and poise. It seemed to come from nowhere as Harry remembered how weak she seemed only that morning.
When she finished, she touched both lids briefly, walked back towards Harry and Ron, and stood to the side, out of their reach. Harry thought for a second that perhaps he should move to her side, Harry thought for a second that perhaps he should move to her side, but thought against it.
The minister motioned for them all to bow their heads as he prayed, and when he finished, the family began to leave.
Hermione remained still, never taking her eyes from the caskets.
Mrs. Weasley and Professor McGonagall slowly approached her and stood at each side. “Hermione,” Mrs. Weasley said softly. “We’ll stay as long as you like.” She nodded slowly, but continued to stare as the cemetery workers brought their shovels and rope.
“I’ll go make sure our dis-apparation point is clear,” Professor McGonagall said. Her back was to Harry, but there was no mistaking the small squeeze she gave Hermione’s shoulder before leaving.
“We’ll go with her,” Harry heard Fred say behind him before he and George left. They stood there for a long time, watching the workers prepare the coffins for burial. Then Ron walked to her.
“Hermione,” he began softly. “You ready?” She broke her eyes from the workers and looked at him.
“Will anyone ever really be ready for this?”
“No,” he conceded. She leaned into him for comfort and he wrapped his arms around her.
“All right,” she whispered as she watched the workers prepared to lower the coffins. “We can go.” Harry and Ron took her by each arm while Mrs. Weasley and Ginny followed closely behind.
Hermione turned around for one last look before she was too far away. She stopped abruptly blinking furiously before closing her eyes for a few seconds.
Harry and Ron looked at each other before looking back at the funeral site. There wasn’t anything there except the two workers lowering her parents.
“What is it?” Harry asked. She didn’t answer right away.
It couldn’t be, she thought. No. Just some leaves kicked up in the wind. “Nothing,” she answered. “Just thought I saw something, but it’s nothing.”
Yet there was a nagging feeling that said it wasn’t just nothing.
Harry and Ron, having not seen anything, shrugged and they continued their walk.
No one saw the singe rose placed on each coffin before the dirt began to close the graves.
Several more days passed with little happening. Dumbledore had only been back to Grimmauld Place a few fleeting times since he left on Harry’s birthday. There was no chance to ask Professor McGonagall about anything. He knew better than to try and get information about Dumbledore from her. She would just tell him that Dumbledore was busy and that he shouldn’t worry about it. He still had not told Ron and Hermione about what he had overheard. He didn’t really know what to tell them if he did. He didn’t know much of anything so it would just create another mystery and as of now, Harry didn’t think another mystery was the best thing for Hermione.
Hermione spent most of her days watching Ron and Harry play chess or reading the Auror books Tonks and Moody had given Harry for his birthday. Anything to keep her mind otherwise occupied. But she had to admit to herself that the funeral felt like a door had been closed; a door to the memories and misery that she had been saturating herself in. She had not woken up in the middle of the night crying nearly as often and she didn’t dream of the times with her parents. The dreams of the forest were also gone, along with the ring of symbols that had showed up that day. Things were looking up.
There were many times, briefly, that she would feel normal. As if nothing had happened. These didn’t last long, but it was like a ray of hope for her. The light at the end of the tunnel. Someday she would feel alright again.
When Harry wasn’t playing chess with Ron he was reading through his mother’s notes, trying to not worry about Dumbledore’s mysterious woman and who she could be. Though he had never been a big fan of reading, he couldn’t seem to ever get enough. The detail of his mother’s feelings, fears, wishes and day to day schedule was wonderful. The written arguments and banter between she and James were borderline hilarious.
He finally knew his mother.
Not to mention one of her closest friends.
It took a while to get used to the handwriting of Vicky, as he came to call his mother’s friend. He noticed at the beginning that Lily never wrote out the girl’s name, and Harry could only guess that “your friend” as his father wrote, was V.
She had very narrow, curvy handwriting, used very formal English and her ink changed between red to silver further into the stack. Several times she mentioned nightmares but did not describe them. But Lily seemed to know what Vicky was talking about because she often asked if anything had changed in them.
Not all the notes were dated but from what he could tell, these were from the sixth and seventh years at Hogwarts and a few letters from the post up to three months afterward.
There were hundreds of notes, and by the time their Hogwarts letters arrived on the twelfth, he had only made a small dent in the pile.
Any other year, no one would have been surprised at the extra badge in Hermione’s letter congratulating her on being appointed Head Girl. But the circumstances were different than any one thought they would be by this time in their lives, and the badge was unexpected. At least for Hermione. Could she really take on this huge responsibility now? After all that has happened?
“Why wouldn’t Dumbledore still want you as Head Girl?” Ron replied to Hermione’s look of shock.
“Oh come on, Hermione, you’ve wanted to be Head Girl since first year. Why not take it?” Harry told her.
“I don’t know if I can do it now,” she said. “I-I don’t know if I want it.”
“What are you…?”
“Hermione,” Mrs. Weasley called from the hall interrupting Ron.
“Yes, Mrs. Weasley?”
“Would you come into the kitchen dear? Professor Dumbledore would like to talk with you.”
“Coming.” She gave Harry and Ron a quizzical look they both easily understood: When did he get here?
“I hope she does it,” Ron said after she left the room. “Could you imagine how horrible it would be if she didn’t?”
“I don’t know about it being horrible,” Harry said.
“Harry, you know just as well as I do what will happen if she turns it down. She’ll sulk about and complain about how the Head Girl is doing everything wrong.”
Harry agreed and added, “She will probably regret it for the rest of her life.”
“In here dear.” Mrs. Weasley shut the doors behind her and Hermione was suddenly faced with a rather large plate of cookies being presented to her.
“Cookie?” Professor Dumbledore offered between bites of his own. “They’re rather good. Molly seems to have a gift with chocolate chip cookies.”
“No thanks, Professor.”
“I promise not to tell Molly you ate ten minutes before dinner,” he said with the familiar amused twinkle in his eyes. She smiled and took one.
“I’m sure you have a good idea as to what I want to speak to you about.”
“Not really, Professor.” He took another bite from his cookie.
“I want to speak to you about your selection as Head Girl.” Hermione looked at her cookie. “I guessed that you might have some questions on the subject.”
“Well…” She couldn’t really come out and say she didn’t want it anymore. “I just don’t know.”
“Head Girl is not an obligation, Hermione. You can turn it down if you feel it is the right choice, but I urge you to think before making that decision. I know that this summer has been very hard. But quite frankly, Hermione, there is no witch better suited for the position.
“You are capable, compassionate, and intelligent. You can work with people and command a respect among your fellow students that is essential for Head Girl duties. The first years follow you and trust you. You have talent and power that I fear will be needed this year.”
A moment or two passed silent save the soft munching of Dumbledore as he continued to eat his cookie.
“Who would you choose if I turned it down?” she finally asked.
“I don’t know,” he sighed. “To be honest, you have been in the back of my mind as Head Girl for quite a while. I haven’t put much thought to anyone else.”
“Though that isn’t to say that I would not choose someone else,” he added before she could respond.
“I have always wanted to be Head Girl,” she said quietly to herself. Dumbledore kept on his cookie and didn’t respond. A few more moments of thought and Hermione finally said, “Alright, I’ll give it a go.”
Dinner that night was accompanied by a large banner congratulating Hermione on her appointment as Head Girl. Dumbledore was not present, per usual, but he did leave saying he would be back in a few days for the Order meeting and would stay to speak to her then if she had any further questions or perhaps decided against accepting the position.
“I won’t decline, Professor.” He smiled and left, Professor McGonagall close behind him.
Harry was too engrossed in his mother’s notes to hear Ron and Hermione enter the study the next day. He was jostled out of his reading when the two of them flopped on the sofa on either side of him.
“You know Hermione, I think our friend Harry here has been paying too much attention to your habits; all he ever does is read.”
“I quite agree, Ron. He has been rather…detached these past few days.
“And as much as I find your new found interest in reading flattering and frankly relieving, Harry,” she began, with the first teasing smile since she arrived, “I must say that you have missed one vital aspect of my ‘continuous’ reading, as Ron calls it.”
“Oh, yeah?” he smiled back. She nodded.
“I share.” He laughed.
“Well, I am sorry, Ms. Granger. I didn’t know you two wanted to know the inner thoughts of my parents.”
“Come on mate! Not want to know the inner thoughts of two emotionally driven teenagers like ourselves? Who wouldn’t?” They laughed together, all three of them, for the first time in a very long time.
“Well then mates, I’ll indulge you. Have a look.” Ron grabbed the pile Harry set aside after reading and began to quickly skim through the notes. Hermione picked one up from the pile he had yet to look at and began to read it through.
“You must be joking me!” Ron exclaimed.
“Who is this person?” he asked while stifling a laugh. “Who talks like this, let alone writes like this?”
“Oh that’s Vicky,” said Harry.
“Vicky?” asked Hermione, looking up from her own note. “The only thing I have seen is the initial V. How do you know her name is Vicky?”
“I don’t,” he shrugged. “I just call her that.” She mouthed the word “oh” and returned to her note.
“So this—Vicky… she certainly has a formal way of writing doesn’t she?” Harry nodded.
“I think it is refreshing,” said Hermione as she reached for another note.
“Yes, Ron, refreshing. Not everyone has the grammar of a twelve year old. And it isn’t formal, per se. It’s proper English. It’s all nearly perfect: sentence structure, punctuation, spelling, grammar, word choice…” She fell silent and put the note down.
“So she’s good at English, you don’t have to make a saint out of her.” Ron turned back to his note and didn’t see Hermione roll her eyes.
“I wonder…” she turned back to the note a read some more. Harry couldn’t help but grin at her. She was thinking again; working out a puzzle that had presented itself to her. Back to normal.
“What is it?” he asked.
“Well…” Hermione began without looking up. “It’s almost too good.”
“Her English. It is way too good… too proper for a normal native speaker.”
“So you think she’s from a different country?” said Ron. She nodded.
“I think she was taught English. Strictly too.” Now that was interesting. Harry knew that there were no foreign students at Hogwarts. It only served the British Isles, didn’t it?
“Does Hogwarts usually have foreign students?” asked Ron, clearly as perplexed as Harry. Hermione shook her head.
“Not in the last two hundred years at least,” she answered. “The three big European schools are very protective of their geographic claim. And while Hogwarts is the most famous, its area doesn’t go much further out than Ireland. There might have been some students from Iceland or Greenland, maybe even the northern countries, but Iceland and Greenland usually stick to Canada or the States. And the Scandinavian countries almost always stick to their own small school or Beauxbatons.”
“Why would a country like Norway or Sweden go so far south as France when Scotland is closer?” asked Harry. She smiled. Ron cringed.
“She’s got that look again, Harry.”
“What look?” she asked.
“What look? That look, Hermione. The one that says I-know-something-you-don’t-know.” She blushed.
“Not necessarily. You both might have merely forgotten. Who knows how long it has been since you looked at a world map,” she said. Harry inwardly groaned. It had been at least eight years since he last looked at a world map.
“It isn’t as if Norway or Sweden sit right above us. In fact, it would be much easier to go to Germany or Denmark than France or here. But to answer your question, Harry: I don’t know. Hogwarts: A History doesn’t go into much detail of other schools. The point, though, is that Vicky was either brought up in a very high society family or she was taught English by some very strict teacher.
“Personally I think it is the latter of the two.”
“Well, even high society families don’t have the best mastery of English. Think of Malfoy. He doesn’t exactly have perfect grammar or word choice, does he?”
“Too right you are,” said Harry, remembering the last conversation he had with the ferret. It wasn’t exactly full of complicated words or special structure.
“So we’ve got your mum’s private notes to your dad and a foreign friend,” Ron said.
Ron rubbed his hands together. “I do love a good mystery,” he said with a grin and picked up the next note.
They spent the rest of the day looking through his mother’s notes. Harry found that while he enjoyed reading through them by himself, it was much more fun to read them along with Ron and Hermione. And now they had a quest: to find out who Vicky was and where she came from.
There was one odd moment, when Hermione gasped while reading a note between Vicky and Lily. She didn't answer, when asked what she had read. Instead she shoved the paper back into the pile and picked up a new sheet. "Nothing, Harry. Just a rather personal situation between girls." Ron looked momentarily disgusted and made sure to avoid that paper when he grabbed another sheet.
Unfortunately they had to set aside their quest the next day when Mrs. Weasley told them they would be going to Diagon Alley to get their school supplies.
“Remus and Tonks will go with you,” she told them at breakfast. “I am so happy all three of you can apparate. No more floo-powder.” Harry was glad too. Though apparating didn’t exactly have the most pleasant sensation, never again would he have to repair his glasses after falling through a fireplace.
“We’ll be apparating to room seventeen at the Leaky Cauldron,” Remus told them as they gathered their cloaks. “It has been specially protected so no one will know if we have arrived in case of surveillance spells.”
“I’m going ahead to check it out,” said Tonks. She looked at Remus. “I’ll give the sign.” He nodded and she walked out the door.
“I take it the protection is Dumbledore’s doing,” Harry said. He nodded.
“Yes. We aren’t taking any chances on this trip.” Though Harry knew much of the protection was due to him, there was no mistaking the glance Remus made in Hermione’s direction.
“If it is so dangerous,” Ron began. “Why are we going? Mum usually does it for us.”
“Dumbledore thought you might want to have a last romp in Diagon Alley before school starts. You won’t be going there for school supplies after this trip.”
“What about Ginny?” Ron asked. “Doesn’t she need to get supplies too?”
“She’s waiting for an owl from Seamus,” Hermione answered. Ron scowled.
“Mum can get it.”
“You know perfectly well that Ginny doesn’t want your mum going through her letters, and you know your mum will read it. She already said how concerned she was that he and Ginny were getting too serious.”
Ron mumbled something that sounded like “they are” when Remus told them to head out.
“We have to be quick. Remember, Room seventeen, Leaky Cauldron.” Remus was gone in a Crack! then Hermione, Ron, and finally Harry. He felt the familiar pressure and vanished from the stoop.
“Would you look at the level of these spells!”
Several hours later, the five of them were walking out of Flourish and Blotts arms loaded with their new spell books and other school things. Hermione, of course, already had her nose in the Transfiguration book.
“Now I know she’s back to her old self,” Ron whispered to Harry. “Nothing like a textbook to cheer her up.” Harry smiled. He had also noticed it. And loved it.
Hermione followed them blindly, still engrossed in the new text book. She buried her nose in the pages and inhaled. Mmmm…nothing like the smell of a new book in the morning.
“You know, I heard that if you inhaled hard enough, the words will come right off the page,” Harry teased. That earned him a playful a glare as she stuffed the book back in the bulging bag.
“How does ice cream sound?” Tonks called to them. Ron answered saying he was starving and it was about time they stopped for some food, and Harry and Hermione agreed. They had been shopping for hours. Time for a little reward.
It started when they rounded the corner.
Hermione shrieked as she felt the symbols burn into her eyes. Red. They were red again. Just like the day her parents died. Something was horribly wrong.
“Hermione!” Harry shouted. He watched her clutch her head and cover her eyes as she fell to the ground. “Hermione! What happened? What’s wrong?” She wasn’t answering. He tried to pry her hands from her eyes, but she jerked away.
“No no no no! Not here. Please not here!” Ron was by them within a second.
“What are you talking about Hermione! What’s happened?” She didn’t answer him and continued to cover her eyes and groan over and over again: “Please…please…not here!”
Tonks and Remus right behind Ron. “What happened?” they asked.
“I don’t know! She just…”
Hermione was in agony. The symbols were changing constantly while their color turned darker and darker. If it went to black…. Then like a whisper in her ear, she knew what was wrong. She tore her hands from her eyes and grabbed Harry’s arm. “We have to get out of here!”
“What? Why? Hermione…”
“We have to leave! NOW!” Still holding his arm tightly she took off back down the Alley; Ron, Remus, and Tonks close behind them.
“Harry what is going on!” Ron called to him as they all pushed through the crowds and continued following Hermione. He didn’t get a chance to answer. The moment he turned his head to reply Hermione suddenly jerked down on his arm and he tumbled to the ground.
The wall exploded next to them.
“Holy…!” he shouted covering his head. “Hermione! What is going on?” Hermione stared at him. The ring was still there. Warning her. Forcing her to run. She saw Remus and Tonks fighting the push of the crowd to fight back at whoever had attacked them.
“Harry!” Remus shouted to him. “Get out of here.” Another volley of spells hit the ground and buildings near him. Ron dove to the ground as one spell sent shards of glass flying in every direction.
“We can help!” he shouted back.
“NO! Get. Out. Of. Here!” Remus yelled between casts. More and more spells were being cast. The crowd of happy shoppers had turned into a frightened stampede, push and trampling. Some had begun to help: protecting children and herding then into stores. But most had broken into a terrified run..
“Harry!” Ron shouted. He soon felt himself being pushed to the ground again as a bright red jet of light streaked through the air where his head had just been. He could no longer see Remus or Tonks. It was chaos.
A Death Eater’s paradise.
Either she had become used to the burning of the symbols or the pain had just stopped, but Hermione’s eyes had stopped watering and she could now see clearly. The stunning spells were getting closer to them. She looked at Ron, he nodded to her understanding what her look meant: Grab Harry. He grabbed hold of one arm, she the other.
Harry soon found himself being pulled up and pushed forward through an alley between two shops.
“Where are we going?” he called to them.
“Away from the main street! Just keep running!” Hermione called back. Left. Right. Right again. Shake them off. Shake them off. Harry mustn’t be captured, she kept thinking to herself. It got darker and darker the further they ran.
“Oh no!” Harry came to an abrupt stop in front of a very high wall. Dead End.
“Now where do we go?” Ron asked breathing hard.
“Apparate?” Hermione said. They both agreed. “Let’s get to Headquarters.” They nodded.
Panic began to course through Harry’s veins. They were trapped. The only other option was to run back; towards the danger. “Got a back up plan, Hermione?” he asked his wand out and at the ready. They could still hear the screams from the main street.
“Maybe we should stay here,” Ron suggested.
“And be sitting ducks for Death Eaters?” said Harry. “Not on your life. There has got to be a way out of here. Can we blast through this wall or something?”
“I don’t think so mate,” Ron said looking the wall over. “We could try going back and finding another way out.” Harry shook his head. It would be too dangerous to run back towards the attackers. There had to be another way.
“Hermione?” She didn’t answer. She knew it was no good. If they went back they would surely be prevented from getting too far. If they were already prevented from disapparating, someone knew where they were.
“Hermione!” Harry shouted. “Are you okay?” he asked as soon as she looked at him.
“I’m fine,” she lied. “We should stay here.” Harry stared at her.
“Are you crazy?! Stay here and wait to be attacked?! You must be joking! We have to get out of here.”
“No Harry! If we stay here we can have a place to defend from. The only way in here is the same way we ran in. We can stun anyone who comes down that alleyway as they appear one by one.” He opened his mouth to protest. “Trust me, Harry. If we can’t disapparate, no one can apparate in. It would be suicide to run back. If we’re blocked from leaving, then someone already knows we are here.”
He was stunned into silence. Of course someone knew they were there. How stupid of him.
“Alright, we’ll stay.” As he discussed tactics with Ron, Hermione watched the entry to their prison. Her head was throbbing. The Ring was still burning red, warning her to the danger that was further away. It began to grow brighter and the same whisper she heard before the attack started, whined in her ear again.
They were coming.
“Harry!” Harry spun around in time to see Hermione raise her wand. Footsteps followed her shout and he faced the entryway.
So many footsteps. So many voices shouting.
The Ring blazed with familiar fury as Hermione prepared for the first attacker. She moved to Harry’s side and glanced at Harry. He green eyes were blazing, face set in concentration. And for the brief moment her eyes lingered on his face the Ring changed from blood red to ocean blue.
No less than six stunning spells shot their way through the entrance. The triad split and dodged the jets of red light.
Harry quickly rolled upright and aimed his first stunner towards the entrance. So much for picking them off as they came through the entryway.
“STUPIFY!” he heard Ron yell to his left.
“IMPEDIMENTA!” Hermione shouted at his right. A bright yellow jet of light hit the wall behind them and the wall exploded in shards of brick and cement. Harry was thrown to the ground from the force of the explosion, and sent out three more stunners before he got to his feet again. Harry made a dive for the nearest Death Eater and knocked him to the ground. He got a good punch to the Death Eater’s face before being kneed in the stomach.
“EXPLI--!” Ron’s voice was suddenly cut off but a blue jet of light blindsiding him.
“RON!!” Hermione shrieked. She made a lunge for him, but she was yanked back by collar of her shirt. The Ring turned black and she felt the air electrify as Ron’s gasped stunner hit the Death Eater holding her.
She turned in time to block a jinx sent her way and then scrambled to Ron’s side blocking another stunner on the way.
She made it to his side in time to jinx another Death Eater before he could stun Harry who was in the middle of battling with a much taller Death Eater.
They were losing. As much as they fought, there were just too many of them, and with Ron seemingly disabled, it was only two against a seemingly unending stream of Death Eaters.
She could feel it. It was happening again. Like her last confrontation with Bellatrix, she could feel the Ring rushing power through her veins, giving her support as she and Ron continued to block and send spells as fast as they could. She only wished she could get to Harry who was throwing spells and punches at every Death Eater he came in contact with. He was tiring, he wouldn’t last much longer.
“ENOUGH!” a man shouted over the din of spells and crumbling walls. Everything went still. The dark alleyway was filled with dust and steam from a ruptured pipe. “Throw him with the mudblood and Weasley.” Harry was pitched into the remains of the wall and crashed to the ground. He crawled to Ron and Hermione. Both were breathing hard and Ron was holding his left side with a bloody hand.
“If you think we’ve given up…” Harry began.
“Shut-up, Potter,” he snapped. There was no mistaking the voice. Lucius Malfoy. He smirked as he pulled off the mask. “I have waited a long time for this, Potter. And this time, there is no one to save you.”
“Remus. Tonks,” Ron whispered. Malfoy laughed.
“They fought gallantly until they lost track of us. You would think an auror would have better sense than to follow just any dark cloaked wizard.” Several Death Eaters laughed.
“They aren’t dead.” Harry breathed in relief.
“Not yet. But your actions will decide their fate. Cooperate and they will live. Resist and they will die.”
Hermione grasped Harry’s hand. Her head felt as though it was going to come apart as the Ring continued to burn black in her vision.
Help! She called out in her mind. Help us! Please! Someone! The Ring blazed red and flashed out of her mind.
Harry squeezed her hand and kept his eyes locked on Malfoy. “What do you want?” he asked through his teeth.
“It is not a matter of what I want, Potter, but what the Dark Lord needs.” He took a deep breath and looked to his two best friends. He couldn’t let anything happen to them.
“Let them go, and I’ll come.”
“Harry! No!” Hermione and Ron exclaimed. Lucius scoffed.
“My, my don’t we have an ego, Potter,” he sneered. “What makes you think we are after you?” His gaze shifted to Hermione and his sneer grew. Harry was on his feet in a flash.
“Don’t even think about it!” he seethed, his wand level with Malfoy’s eyes. Malfoy’s eyes narrowed.
“Now, now, Potter. If you don’t go along with us, your precious werewolf will die.” Harry didn’t care. Remus could protect himself. They were not going to have Hermione. Not as long as he still had life in him. “Lower your wand, Potter.” Harry didn’t move. “Alright then.” Malfoy nodded to a Death Eater standing over Ron. His wand rose to strike.
“NO!” Both Hermione and Harry shouted at the same time. Malfoy’s cold laugh echoed in the alley.
“Then stand down, Potter. Or Weasley here will die.”
“Don’t listen, Harry,” Ron said, wincing with each breath. “Just keep them from taking Hermione.”
“I’m not worth this, Harry,” Hermione told him. “I won’t let anyone die for me.”
“How touching,,” one of the Death Eaters jeered. “And how true.” Harry scowled. He was not going to give up.
“I’m not giving you to them, Hermione.” His eyes were still focused on Lucius. Hermione left Ron’s side and placed her hand on his arm.
“Put it down, Harry,” she begged. “Please.” He tore his eyes from Malfoy’s smug face to look at Hermione.
“Do it, Potter.” Hermione pulled on his arm willing him to do what Lucius ordered. With a glare at Malfoy, Harry relaxed his stance. “Now sit down.”
Hermione could feel Harry begin to stiffen again and put more pressure on his arm to follow her back to Ron’s side.
He sat down in a huff, never turning his back to Malfoy. “Ow, Hermione! Not so hard.” There was bone crushing pressure on his hand as she squeezed it. He took his eyes off of Malfoy to see her eyes were closed and pain was etched all over her face. “What’s wrong?”
The Ring was back in full force. Only this time it was blinding her with blue light. It was as if she were staring into the sun.
The dead end of the alley was soon bathed in blinding light pouring from somewhere above them. Harry closed his eyes and covered them with his hand to try and block it out, but nothing helped. His scar exploded in pain. He barley heard the shouts of the Death Eaters over the roar in his own ears.
Then all went black.
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