Chapter 10 : Flight in the Middle of the Night
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"Again, Harry. You will get this. You must activate the potion or twelve weeks worth of brewing would be all wasted," Hermione's voice sounded positively exhausted. She looked pale and tired as she supported her head with her hand and lay on the loveseat of Llyr. "Point the wand at your temple and say, 'antobit' clearly. You'll know the anti-death potion is activated when your body warm up and...."
"Glow," Harry finished for her. "I know. We've read that manuscript at least twenty dozen times. I've practically got it memorized. Hermione, let's get some rest. We've worked hard all day, studying for NEWTs and working on this anti-death spell. I'm tired and you're tired. It's two in the morning!"
Harry gestured around the living room of Llyr. It was Friday night, or Saturday morning, depending on how you look at it. Ron and Luna, who were working with Harry and Hermione, had dozed off on the floor, their arms wrapped around each other. Duncan was taken to bed by Dobby and had been asleep in his little bed for hours already. Harry was sure that no one else other than Hermione and himself were awake at that moment.
Hermione forced down a yawn. She squinted through her stubbornly refused-to-open-properly eyelids and glared at Harry. "Do you what date it is? It's the 28th of April! Do you have any idea what that means?"
"Um... NEWTs is coming up in another two months?" asked Harry hopefully, attempting to distract Hermione from the envelops topic.
Hermione snorted. "Nice try, Harry. Well, that too. But at the moment, we are focusing on the envelops and their curse. Unless you haven't noticed already, the seventh envelop is due within the next two days. This means that the curse of 'Tan Dee San Cia' will be activated at the end of next month. Since we still can't find a counter curse for 'Tan Dee San Cia', we are probably going to end up looking for Voldemort. Of course, I'm still hopeful that we'll find the counter curse within the next month. As for now, what we have is all we have. The potion won't help anyone without being activated!"
"What do you mean? We are going to end up looking for Voldemort?" Harry froze at the use of 'we'. "I think you are mistaken. I'll be looking for Voldemort. Not you, not Duncan, not Ron or Luna, but me and me only."
Hermione forced her eyes a little wider than before. "No, you are not going alone. If it is absolutely necessary, and I won't let it happen unless it is, I'm going with you. You are not leaving me behind. I've been with you through most of your crises and I won't be left behind this time." Hermione attempted to stand up, but her legs were too tired to support her weight. She nearly collapsed.
Harry caught Hermione by her waist and stopped her fall. "Without meaning to insult your research skills, but I think I am going to fight Voldemort in the end. I don't think there is a counter curse for Tan Dee San Cia. I might have to start searching for Voldemort soon and I don't want you to come with me. I want you to stay safe and sound in Hogwarts. I want you to be there for Duncan and take care of him, should anything happen to me."
"Harry!" Hermione protested. "You are not going anywhere! I won't let you! I will find the counter curse! I won't let you leave me! If you have to go, then I'll go with you!" Hermione suddenly broke out sobbing in Harry's arms. "I love you too much to let you out of my sight...."
"I know, shh.... I know," Harry hugged Hermione tightly in his arms and patted her lightly on the back. He knew that parting from Hermione would, perhaps, be the most difficult thing he would ever do.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
It had been two nights since. The seventh envelop arrived that morning as Hermione predicted. Although it was late, Harry was not asleep beside the love of his life. He had quietly slipped out of bed and curled up on the window sill and gazed out towards the lake as he did some thinking. His mind flicked back to the day in March....
"Duncan!" Hermione called to the baby boy. "You will fall from that place. Don't even think about climbing up there!"
Duncan was a big boy now, nearly one year old. He grinned mischievously at Hermione and crawled towards them.
Hermione caught him and sat Duncan on her lap. She pulled a stern McGonagall face at him as she reprimanded, "Duncan, you are a big boy now. You should know better than do something so silly. Next time you do something like this, I'll get your cousin Harry to take you to mean old Professor Snape!"
Harry, at the time, was smiling as he read the Daily Prophet. He put down the papers and pulled a scared face mockingly. "Sweet Hermione, darling Hermione, please don't make cousin Harry take little Duncan to Professor Snape. Cousin Harry is scared!" Harry finished with a series of fake childish cries.
Duncan clapped and giggled. He pulled Hermione's sleeves and laughed, "Mama! Dada! Scarwd!"
"Of course not, Harry's just being silly...," Hermione said, but suddenly realized something. "Duncan! What did you say?"
Duncan repeated. "Dada scarwd, Mama!"
Neither Harry nor Hermione could conceal their happiness as little Duncan spoke.
"Duncan is talking!" exclaimed Hermione. "Oh, my darling! You've learnt to speak! Hermione is so proud of you!"
"Mama prowd!" Duncan clapped and laughed. "Mama prowd Dunca!"
Harry was the only one noticing something wrong with Duncan's speech, despite all the excitements. "Duncan, what did you call Hermione?"
"Mama!" answered Duncan naturally.
Hermione, too, noticed. "And what did you call Harry?"
"Dada!" said Duncan happily. "Mama a Dada!"
Hermione nearly fainted. "No, my name is Hermione, not Mama. And Harry is definitely not Dada." She pulled out a picture of the Dursleys. She showed Duncan the picture and told him, "This is Mummy and this is Daddy."
Duncan slapped the picture out of Hermione's hands and cried, "No Mama! No Dada!" He then wrapped his skinny arms around Harry and Hermione's necks and said triumphantly, "Mama a Dada!"
Harry and Hermione could only shrug and sigh.
Harry smiled sadly at the memory. They hadn't been able to correct Duncan ever since. If only Hermione and me are truly a child's parents..., Harry shook his head in attempt to brush such thought away. He dared not even think of a day he would live to be old enough to have children with Hermione.
As Harry thought, images of Hermione flicked through his head. Hermione telling him off for not doing his homework. Hermione lying to the teachers for the first time. Hermione smiling proudly when she made the Polyjuice Potion. Hermione as the "Cat Woman". Hermione clutching his waist tightly when they rode Buckbeak. Hermione glaring at Malfoy. Hermione crying her eyes out when Ron and he made up after the First Task. Hermione teaching him the Summoning Charm. Hermione stressing over little tests. Hermione and her SPEW campaigns. Hermione hugging Duncan. Hermione kissing him.... And so much more.
Harry gazed lovingly at the figure on the bed. His smile faded as his inner voices began a huge debate on the subject of whether he should tell his angel of his decision in the morning or just leave right away. Part of him really wanted to spend one last night with Hermione and tell her all about it. However, the more sensible part of him told him that if he did, Hermione would insist on going with him and the last thing he wanted was to have Hermione in danger. Of course, there was a third choice of not going at all. However, Harry knew that his conscience and his saving-people-thing, as Hermione called it, would never let him rest if he chose to stay. He just simply had to do his best to destroy and stop Voldemort before Tan Dee San Cia was activated.
Stay and tell her. It won't hurt. Remember she told you that you MUST tell her? She won't talk to you again if you don't. A voice said.
No, you can't. You know Hermione. Remember her reaction the other night? You know she's stubborn and will go with you if you tell her. Another voice said firmly.
She won't talk to you again....
She'll go with you and she'll be hurt....
Nonsense, Hermione won't get hurt. She's too good a witch to be hurt....
Hello?! This is VOLDEMORT we are talking about! Look at what happened at the Department of Mystery years ago....
The image of Hermione lying unconscious on the icy stone floor did it. Harry blocked out his inner conflicts and rose to his feet. He could bear it if Hermione wouldn't speak to him again. It would be hard, but still bearable. However, if Hermione died because of him.... Harry knew that he would never forgive himself, ever.
Silently, Harry packed his bag. He stuffed a few change of clothes and some money into his bag. He also took his Firebolt, but he left most of the rest behind. He even left his father's precious invisibility cloak behind. He wasn't sure if he would make it back alive, thus, he decided to let Duncan have his cloak. Maybe Duncan would make some use of it in the future. He squibbled a long note, which he put into an envelop and left it on Hermione's bedside table.
Harry paused as his hand touched the doorknob. He looked around the room once more and rushed back to Hermione's bedside. He gazed at Hermione's sleeping face and quickly kissed her on the cheek.
"Hermione," Harry whispered, "I'm leaving now. I can't bear to leave while you are awake. I know you'll want to come if I say goodbye face to face. But I can't let you anywhere near danger as long as I'm alive. Don't be mad at me. Take good care of yourself and Duncan. I love you to infinity. Goodbye." Harry kissed Hermione again, this time on her delicate lips.
Harry then quickly grabbed his luggage and ran out of Llyr. He ran into the corridor, opened a large window and rode into the night sky. He dared not look at Duncan or stay another second longer for he feared that he would change his mind.
As the wizard in black flew further and further away, something clear and shiny fell from his eyes. His face was wet, though the sky was clear. He reached into his pocket and pulled something out, glanced at it and kissed it.
It was a wizard picture of a young family.
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
Monday morning. Hermione's eyes fluttered opened as soon as the clock struck seven.
"Harry, time to wake up," she said as she reached her right arm towards the other side of the bed. "Wake up or we'll be late for breakfast.... Harry?"
Hermione was in shock when she discovered that there was no one sleeping beside her. "Harry? Where are you?" Hermione called as she hopped out of bed. "Harry? Are you in the bathroom? Harry? Answer me!" Hermione listened for an answer, but none came. "Harry?" Hermione called again as she opened Duncan's door. She was getting more and more worried. "Dobby, where's Harry?"
Dobby, at the moment, was making up his bed. His eyes opened wide and a smile appeared. "Morning, ma'm!"
"Where's Harry?" repeated Hermione. "Have you seen him this morning?"
"No, ma'm. I has not see the great sir!"
Duncan sat in his bed, chewing on some Muggle toys Petunia sent. He grinned at the distressed Hermione and held up the saliva covered toy. "Mama! Mo'ing!"
Hermione had too much on her mind to notice Duncan. "Where on earth could Harry be?"
"No Dada," Duncan shook his head. He couldn't tell that Hermione was worried. He smiled and attempt to put his toy into Hermione's mouth.
"No, Duncan. Not today." Hermione put Duncan down and pulled a jacket over him. "Hermione is busy. You stay here. Dobby will play with you. I have to look for Harry." Hermione turned to leave, but was held back by Duncan's cry. "All right, we'll look for him together. Happy?" She picked Duncan up again and turned to leave.
"Ma'm?" Dobby pulled Hermione's robe anxiously. "Is something happen to great Harry Potter sir? Dobby will help find him!"
"Thank you, Dobby."
Hermione checked every inch of Llyr. She wrapped herself in her warm cloak, searched around every part of the castle, but without success. Tired, Hermione slumped down on her bed again. She look about her and, for the first time, noticed the envelop on her bedside table. Hermione snatched the envelop and tore it open.
You must be wondering where I am right now. Frankly, I don't know either. But you can be sure that I am no where near Hogwarts. I left in the night. I've been thinking a lot since morning when the post arrived. There's only one month to go and I have to do something to stop Voldemort. When I thought about the millions and billions Voldemort could kill in one minute in a month time, I feel sick and disgusted. I could not live to face the world if I haven't at least tried anything to stop that. I'm sorry, I can't bring you with me. I cannot stand the fact that if I do, you'll be in danger of getting killed. Forgive me, Hermione. There are certain things I refuse to give to save the world, and you are one of them. You and Duncan, actually. Please take care of Duncan while I'm away. Should anything happen to me you are in charge of all of my properties. That includes my Gringotts account, Sirius's old house and everything else. Take care and do remember there is someone who loves you till the end of time.
I love you forever,
"No!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!" Hermione shrieked and ran out of Llyr, leaving Duncan screaming on the ground. As soon as she ran out of the suite, Hermione bumped into Dumbledore. A guilty-looking Dobby peered from Dombledore's back.
"Miss Granger," Dumbledore steadied Hermione. "Please calm down, Miss Granger. Panic would do you no good. Sit." Dumbledore dragged Hermione back into Llyr with Dobby, McGonagall and Snape behind him. He gently pushed Hermione into a seat in the living room.
Hermione's brain wasn't operating properly at that moment. "Let me go! Let me go!" She struggled against Dumbledore. "Harry... Harry...."
Dumbledore snapped his fingers. "Severus, can I count on you to get Miss Granger some Draft of Peace? Minerva, I think Mr. Ronald Weasley's presence is required here. Would you please?"
"Certainly," answered McGonagall as she headed out. Snape was already gone.
Soon Snape returned. Dumbledore forced some Draft of Peace down Hermione's throat and she calmed down immediately.
"He's gone, isn't he?" asked Dumbledore gently. "I know he would.... Did he leave anything? A letter? Perhaps?"
Hermione handed the letter to Dumbledore obediently. She then bent to hug Duncan tightly, who, by this time, made his way to Hermione by crawling.
Then, at this precise moment, Ron burst into Llyr. "What happened?" he asked. "Bloody hell! Hermione, what happened? You are as pale as a ghost!" Ron exclaimed upon seeing Hermione's state.
Dumbledore explained everything to Ron slowly and showed him the letter. Ron was shocked, although he admitted that he sort of knew something like this would happen.
"I'm going after him," Hermione murmured determinedly.
"What? Hermione, are you out of your mind?" Ron gasped. "How on earth are you going find Harry? He could be anywhere!"
Hermione looked into Dumbledore's eyes. "Professor, may I please go after Harry? I can't just stay in school while he's out there fighting for the world. I just simply can't bear it." Hermione's looked as if tears were threatened to fall from her eyes.
Dumbledore was silent for a moment. Then he pushed his half-moon glasses upwards and asked, "Mr. Potter obviously don't want you to be there with him, or he would have taken you with him when he left."
"He was wrong to leave me behind," Hermione insisted. "He needs me. He just don't know it. I have to be there for him."
"Maybe. How are you planning to find Mr. Potter?"
Hermione lifted her chin defiantly. "I will find Harry. I know I will. I can feel it."
Dumbledore and McGonagall exchanged a look secretly and nodded without being noticed.
Snape, who had been silent all these time, spoke in his usual cold tone. "Really? Miss Granger? This is no joking matter."
"I am NOT joking," Hermione said sternly and glared at Snape. "I am dead serious."
Snape opened his mouth to retaliate, but Dumbledore raised a hand to stop him. "That's enough, Severus." He looked at Hermione with an odd expression on his face. "Miss Granger, it seems to me that your've set your heart on going after Mr. Potter...."
"I am," interrupted Hermione.
"Very well," nodded Dumbledore. "You may go with our blessings."
"Professor Dumbledore, may I go with Hermione? I must look after my best friend," said Ron.
Dumbledore thought for a moment. "That too, is granted, Mr. Weasley."
"But..." protested Snape.
"I said they are allowed to go," Dumbledore stopped Snape. "Please, Severus."
With a swish, Snape turned and left Llyr.
Hermione stood before Dumbledore and held Duncan up to him. "Professor, may I ask you to look after Duncan while I'm away? I know it is my responsibility, but it's rather inconvenient and impractical to take a baby out there...."
"Of course I'll look after Duncan for you," Dumbledore said kindly.
"Dobby help too!" Dobby said. "Dobby will keep look after great Harry Potter sir's cousin while Harry Potter sir and his ma'm are away!"
However, Duncan refused to stay in Dumbledore's arms once Hermione handed him over. He kicked and scratched Dumbledore's face. Dumbledore's glasses fell and shattered as Duncan struggled.
"Mama!" Duncan cried as he kicked Dumbledore and held on to Hermione's sleeves. "Mama! Mama!"
Hermione did all she could to keep Duncan away, but nothing worked. Duncan simply clung too tightly to her. "Duncan, you must be a good boy and let Hermione search for your cousin Harry. See, you know Dobby well, don't you? He'll be with you too. It's not going to be any different than normal. Stay with Professor Dumbledore. Stay!"
"No Dumbie! Mama!" cried Duncan as Hermione tried to slap his little hands away. "No Dumbie!" Duncan eventually succeeded in wrenching himself out of Dumbledore's grasp and clung solely to Hermione, sobbing loudly.
Hermione looked at Dumbledore for help. Dumbledore only looked amused. "Ah, Miss Granger, I don't think I can take care of Duncan for you. He would be simply... too noisy for the school without you here."
"But... he's a baby. Ron and I are going to find Harry, who is possibly with Voldemort. It's too dangerous. It's not practical at all!"
"Like you won't stay in Hogwarts without Harry, Duncan won't stay here without you. Maybe you should take him with you. We won't like to owl you in the middle of no where, reporting that Harry's cousin had gone missing," said Dumbledore.
Hermione lowered her head. "Well... all right. I'll take Duncan with me." She bent her head and started to talk to Duncan, "How am I going to do this.... Oh Duncan, if only you are a few more years older...."
A cheerful voice chippered, "Dobby go too! Yes, yes, Dobby take care of baby cousin for ma'm!"
* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *
An hour later, two tall and two short figures were seen walking out of Hogwarts's gate, heading for the train station in Hogsmead.
They were, no doubt, the newly formed group in search of Harry Potter.