Hermione stood in the entrance hall, nervously tripping from foot to foot. It was almost nine now. She hadn’t done anything with her looks like she had done when she was eating dinner with Ron. No, her bushy hair was just pulled back in a loose ponytail, and she didn’t find anything to wear, so she had decided to put on her school robes. She had no idea why Peter Hanson was interested in her, of all people. She wasn’t sure of her feelings for him. Every time she studied with him, Ron popped up in her head. She thought of Ron almost all the time, actually. He found his way into her head, no matter what she did to avoid it.
She hadn’t spoken to Ron all day. The dinner with him had been amazing. She felt the tension between them, and she got these little feelings that told her that this was just the way it should be; the pair of them eating dinner together, talking. Ron must have felt it, too.
But then he had to blow it, asking her about Peter. She wasn’t ready for that. She was sure she liked Ron, but Peter… she wasn’t certain. It felt as though Ron was invading her privacy.
Hermione was a little scared. No, not scared. But very nervous. Nine o’clock… sixth years had to be in their common room by 9.15. Why had Peter asked her to come this late? It would be past curfew before she came back. And why had she agreed to come? It was stupid, risky.
I can’t believe he asked me out. And I can’t believe I sad yes, ei- Her thoughts were interrupted by a noise beside her.
“Damn!” she heard.
Hermione sighed. “Ron, what’re you doing here?”
The Invisibility Cloak slid down, to reveal a body and a guilty face. “How’d you know it was me?”
“Please. I’ve known you for five years. I know what it sounds like when you’re swearing.”
“Oh.” Ron was really red. “I tripped… because of my shoelaces.”
Hermione rolled her eyes. “What’re you doing here?” she asked again.
“Well, I overheard you and Peter-”
“Are you spying on me?!”
“No! I just-”
“No! I always sit in the library…”
“When you and Hanson are there.”
“So I was right; you’re spying on me.”
“Not exactly spying… but never mind that! I overheard him ask you out.” Ron scowled, making it clear that he didn’t approve of it. “And then I followed him-”
“Wait, are you stalking him, too?”
“Drop that, will you?! I followed him, and… well, he sort of talked to himself. And… he was talking about- about killing you.”
Hermione stared at him, before tears began to fill her eyes. “I- I didn’t really believe you’d swoop that low, Ron. I can’t believe it! It’s okay that you don’t like him, but making up such things… Ron!” Her voice was shaking.
Ron’s serious expression was replaced by an indignant one. “I didn’t make it up! D’you think I’d say something like that?! I told you this because I heard him, and I wanted you to know it. I- I ca- care for y- you. So, come with me to the common room. I can’t let you meet him.”
Hermione’s brown, stubborn eyes met his blue, just as stubborn ones. She looked down. “Ron, I know he would never say such things, so… stop lying now. Please. I’m going to meet him, no matter what you say.”
“Yes! And, by the way, where did you get Harry’s Invisibility Cloak? I believe he’s not involved?”
Ron reddened once more. “Er- well, he doesn’t know about it… you know he’d come with me…”
“I know, but you stole it,” Hermione hissed. “And you shouldn’t have come, either.”
Ron opened his mouth, but was interrupted by a person coming down the stairs. “So sorry, Hermione! I’m sorry I’m late!” It was Peter.
“Get under that cloak again!” Hermione snapped, pushing Ron to get up the cloak that was laid on the floor. He fumbled, but got it over himself. “And don’t follow us,” she warned him.
Ron did not answer.
Hermione wanted to hiss at him one more time, but then Peter showed up with his big, charming smile, so she couldn’t.
“Hello,” Peter grinned.
Hermione sent him a smile, but it was little. Ron’s words were stuck on her mind. He was talking about- about killing you. Why would Ron lie like that? Hermione understood that he was jealous, she understood that he liked her, but what he had said was pretty serious. Killing me? Hermione thought. Peter would never kill her!
Peter bowed, then rose up again, taking her arm in his. They began walking out to the grounds.
Hermione looked away from his secure, handsome face. She couldn’t keep leading him on. She realized now that that was the thing she was doing. She didn’t have any feelings for him any more. In the beginning, she had been excited, because this had been new, but now… she did not feel anything special.
It was clear; she liked Ron. But then again, like didn’t describe her feelings that well. Maybe she even loved him; she wasn’t sure. No matter what her feelings for Ron were like, she decided that when they reached the place they were going to now, she would tell the truth to Peter. She would apologize to him, telling him that he was a good guy, but that she did not have any feelings for him.
“What was that?” Peter asked, frowning, interrupting Hermione’s thoughts.
“Wh- what?” He can’t be a Legilimens! Please, don’t tell me he is a Legilimens…
“Didn’t you hear? I’m sure I heard something behind us.” Peter looked over his shoulder, and when he saw nothing special there, he speeded up, bringing Hermione with him.
“I didn’t hear anything,” Hermione said, groaning inside. Ron’s following us! Merlin, how am I supposed to tell Peter I don’t like him that way, but that I like Ron in front of Ron? Well, she didn’t have to tell Peter that she liked Ron. She could just tell him that she didn’t think it would work out or something like that.
“Where are we going?” she asked, more because she wanted to break that awkward silence than anything else.
“Oh, you’ll see. We’re nearly there.”
“Well, why doing it this late?”
“We want some privacy, don’t we?” said Peter, a disgusting amusement in his voice.
Hermione stared at him. Was this really the Peter she had got to know? He reminded her of one of those sick pervs in Slytherin.
But little did she know that it would get much worse than this. She hadn’t even considered the possibility of Ron being right, which she would regret.
They walked towards Hagrid’s hut, and behind it, too. “Are we going into the forest?” she whispered.
“Yes, we are. As I said, we want some privacy, a place where we can have some fun,” Peter smirked.
Hermione pushed him away from her. “What’s wrong with you?!” she hissed, still not believing she had heard right.
“Nothing at all, love,” he answered, grabbing Hermione so hard by the wrist that she whimpered. He dragged her into the forest.
A single tear made its way down one of her cheeks. “I can’t believe this,” she whispered. “You’re not Peter Hanson.”
“No, I’m not, but then again, you never knew the real Peter Hanson.”
Hermione did not understand this. She tried to break free, but it was impossible. Then she began to scream, but Peter put the Silencio charm on her. “See why I wanted a place where we could have some privacy?” he sneered at her.
They had come quite far into the forest now. Hermione couldn’t see Hagrid’s hut or anything of Hogwarts. She opened her mouth, but nothing managed to come out. Not a single word. Not any sound.
Peter sent her a look. “Isn’t it weird to not having your big mouth talking all the time, Granger? Oh, I’ll put the charm off you, then. We’re far into the forest, if you’ve noticed, so it should be all right. No one will hear your screams.”
Peter lifted his wand and Hermione knew that she was able to speak again as soon as a little “Oh!” escaped her lips. He had let go of her wrist, though. She could escape! She quickly turned, and began to run from him.
“Accio Hermione Granger!”
She felt herself being dragged towards Peter. She put her hands down in the earth to keep her away from him, but it didn’t help. She was at the feet of Peter.
“First time I actually tried the Accio charm on a human being,” he said amused, watching her struggle to get off those invisible ropes he had conjured to hold her down. “I knew it was possible, but I was in doubt with you. I was unsure if the Accio charm was enough to get you to me when you take the supposed heaviness of your brain in consideration.”
Hermione glanced up at him, tears continuing to stream down from her big, brown, shocked eyes.
“Don’t cry, you silly girl,” Peter spat. “I knew you were weak, but I honestly thought the rumours of your courage and brains had some truth in them.”
“I – I don’t – don’t understand!” Hermione managed to get out. “You’ve never been like this before!”
“Of course I haven’t. You would never have been a good girl and followed me in here, then, would you?”
“Of course not. But why? Why did you d – do this?”
“I’m about to tell you that.” Peter smiled his once charming smile, but now only evilness was visible for Hermione. “But first I want you to know this; I want you to lie down there, shaking in fear. So I’ll tell you what I’ll do to you in… let’s say five minutes? No? Perhaps ten, or even fifteen? I’m going to kill you.”
“What?” Hermione didn’t believe her ears.
“You heard me right. You’re going to be killed.”
Hermione whimpered, realising that Ron had been right. Ron! He followed us! she thought. Where is he?
Peter watched her. “I suppose you aren’t as taken by my charm as you used to be? You don’t want to date me?”
“I don’t, and I’ve never wanted it, either!”
“Oh, really? Don’t you think I’ve seen you drooling over Peter Hanson’s looks just like the other girls?”
“It’s true. I realised it while I was waiting for you to come in the entrance hall, or… at least before you began acting like this!” Hermione said, and she knew that it was true.
Peter seemed to have understood that she was not lying. He frowned. “It’s Weasley, isn’t it?” he said quietly.
“You’re in love with Weasley, aren’t you?”
Hermione hesitated. She wasn’t sure if Ron was here, listening to the conversation and just waiting for the right moment to arrive, or not. But what did that matter now? “Yes. Yes, I am.”
“Pathetic,” Peter whispered. “You aren’t as smart as people claim, but you should be wiser than that. You do actually deserve better than a stupid prat.” He shook his head. “You are even sillier than I thought.”
“Just because I love Ron?” Hermione hissed.
“Not just because of that. You haven’t even brought your wand.”
“Well, I didn’t think Peter Hanson would kill me, did I? I just thought it would be a normal evening, and you would behave like you usually do.”
“You know, Peter Hanson, wouldn’t kill you.” He smiled at her confusion. “He’s inside of me now, screaming that I shall not hurt you.”
Anger boiled inside Ron. That git was going to kill Hermione, he insulted both she and Ron, and Ron himself could do nothing. Not yet. It was almost impossible to just stand there, watching Hanson and Hermione, but he had to keep it all inside. He couldn’t start fighting with that prat.
Ron had brought his wand. At the moment, he knew he couldn’t do anything, as not one charm or hex made its way to his brain but the Unforgiveable Curses, as he of course could not use.
And, besides, he was a little curious. Hermione did not seem to be in any immediate danger, and he wondered how all this made sense. This curiousity wasn’t able to keep his anger from surfacing, though. Not alone, anyway. But together with his sense, the curiousity won.
He couldn’t really believe that Hermione had said she loved him, but he couldn’t focus on that now.
“You know, Peter Hanson, wouldn’t kill you. He’s inside of me now, screaming that I shall not hurt you.”
Ron heard these words, and was confused.
“You mean – you mean you aren’t Peter?” he heard Hermione ask.
“As I’ve already told you; no, I’m not. I actually am Stuart Lockhart,” Peter said.
Lockhart? Ron thought.
“Lockhart?” Hermione said.
“Familiar name, yes?” Peter, no, Stuart, smiled at her. “My brother is Gilderoy Lockhart.” He looked out in the air dreamingly. He seemed to think of something.
Ron saw this as an opportunity to free Hermione, and did so with his wand, whispering. He let his head being visible for a moment so he could shake it at her. She had almost stood up, but when she saw Ron, she stopped, and sank down to the earth again. She had to pretend she was still under the curse.
Ron covered his head with the Invisibility Cloak again. Just in time, he thought, as Pe – Stuart turned around to look at Hermione again.
“Weasley, you can come here now,” Stuart said coldly.
Ron just stood there, feeling his heart starting to throb faster.
“Don’t be stupid,” Stuart sneered. “Accio Ronald Weasley!”
Five seconds later, Ron was on top of Hermione. She let out a little breath of surprise.
Stuart dragged the cloak off Ron. He studied it. “An Invisibility Cloak, is it? Wise move. But not so wise to show yourself. I’m not blind and deaf, you know.” He watched Ron rolling off Hermione. “That’s right, Weasley. You and Miss Granger are not going to have any fun now.” He smirked.
Hermione was disgusted with him, but suddenly she felt a wand being slipped into her hand. She looked at it, but quickly turned her glance upwards again. She couldn’t risk Stuart seeing it.
Ron knew he had done the right thing when he had handed his wand to Hermione. She was sure to be better than him in situations like these, and he was certain Stuart would soon do something to him.
And he was right. He felt invisible ropes tie him up to a tree.
“Just to make sure you won’t do anything stupid,” Stuart said silkily. “I already have our dear Hermione down here, tied just like you are.” He pointed down at the girl.
So he didn’t know that she wasn’t under that charm any more. This is good, Ron thought.
“Stuart Lockhart…” Hermione muttered. “Gilderoy Lockhart’s brother. What do you want with me, though?”
“I want to kill you,” Stuart replied.
“Because you were one of them who caused him to lose his memory, weren’t you?”
“She wasn’t,” Ron said.
Stuart turned to him, frowning. “She wasn’t?”
“No. It was my wand. Hermione was Petrified by the Basilisk at that time. Ginny, my sister, was taken down to the Chamber of Secrets to die, and I and Harry were going to save her. We brought Lockhart with us, and we discovered that he was a cheat, that he was just talented with Memory Charms, so he could get wizards to forget the things they had done. He pretended he had done them, and he was about to use that sort of Memory Charm on us, too, but he tried doing it with my broken wand. The wand backfired. That’s how he lost his memory. Hermione had nothing to do with it.” Ron closed his eyes, feeling the pain of the ropes tying him so close to the tree that it hurt.
Stuart studied him. “Yes…” he muttered. “That makes sense. When we were attending Hogwarts, I was always more talented than him. When both were done with school, we moved away from our parents’ place, but we were not together. We visited each other, of course. When he became famous, I was very surprised, but I accepted it. And then he lost his memory… I didn’t get to know until last year as I was on a trip to Australia. No one bothered to tell me…” He continued to watch Ron.
Hermione’s heart throbbed like mad, but she stayed calm. She had Ron’s wand in her hand, but she had to save it for the right moment. She had to hear the rest of it. What if he suddenly attacks me, though? She just had to take that risk.
“But – but why d’you think it was Hermione’s fault?” Ron asked.
“I visited him as soon as I had the chance,” Stuart said. “I told him about old days and such. It did take some hours, but I finally thought I could see a bit from the real Gilderoy. Then I asked him to tell me if he remembered anything. I got one name – Hermione Granger.”
“Why?” Hermione asked, frowning slightly.
“Isn’t that obvious?” Ron sneered. “You were his favorite student.”
“So it wasn’t you, Granger. It was Weasley. And Potter.” Stuart shook his head. “Well, I’ve come this far –” He didn’t finish the sentence, but the look on his face was murderous.
“But,” Hermione said desperately, “what about Peter? You can’t possibly be him? You should look old-”
“Of course I’m not Hanson,” Stuart hissed. “I possessed him.”
Ron stared at him in disbelief, and Hermione gasped. “But that’s really advanced, dark magic!”
“It is,” Stuart said proudly.
Ron and Hermione looked at each other anxiously, saying nothing.
“And now I’m going to kill you.” Stuart grinned like a maniac. “Both of you,” he added, sending Ron an evil look.
“Why’d you want to kill Hermione?” Ron asked sharply.
“I’ve worked to get here for weeks, and she’s an annoying, silly, little girl.” Stuart shrugged.
“But why do you want to kill us?” Hermione asked.
“You’re not that silly, are you? You’re the reason of my brother’s loss of memory!” he answered in disbelief.
“Why d’you care, though?” Ron said angrily. “He was just a cheat. You’re obviously smarter than him, and he deserved what he got!”
“He’s still,” Stuart said, his voice shaking, “my brother.”
I read something about possessing, didn’t I? Hermione thought. There’s a way to get him out, isn’t there? Please let me remember, please… And before she knew it, she shrieked out a spell she didn’t even remember later.
Peter’s eyes lit up in an unnatural colour of light blue. Smoke left his body, and a hiss followed. Hermione freed Ron, and grabbed his arm. One moment, they could swear they saw the outline of a man, but he was gone a second after. The smoke shot up in the air and flew away to another place.
Hermione let go of Ron, and ran to the body of Peter. Ron followed her.
Peter smiled weakly. “You got rid of him. Well done. Thank you, Hermione.”
Hermione just looked at him, not able to get out a single word.
“Why did he possess you?” Ron said quickly. “Why did he pick you?”
Peter frowned. “I – don’t – know, really. He wanted – a boy who went t- to Hogwarts, I suppose. A guy who-”
“-would attract me,” Hermione finished in a whisper. “Oh, I can’t believe this, Peter!”
Peter took her hand. “You truly are an amazing girl, Hermione. I wish I could get to know you a little better.”
It was Hermione’s turn to frown. “You can still get to know me…”
“No, I can’t. Stuart told me that when someone forced him out of me, I wo –would die.” He smiled sadly at her.
“No. No, no, no. No! We can save you, of course we can! Ron, help me! We have to get him out of here, it’s a miracle we aren’t attacked by anything yet, we are actually in the forest, and, oh! We have to get him to Hogwarts! To Madam Pomfrey!” Hermione said desperately.
“It’s – n – no use,” Peter whispered. “I’m getting we- weaker ev – eve – every second.”
“No, we’ll help you, don’t worry, we’ll help you!” Hermione shrieked. She tried to lift Peter, but it was a little difficult. “Ron, help me!” Ron came to her aid, and tried to lift him up together with Hermione. They walked ten feet before they had to let him down to the earth again.
“Peter, we’ll save you! You’ll live!” Hermione said, kissing his forehead. It was cold. She looked at him a bit closer. No.
Hermione stared. “He’s not dead, he’s not dead,” she muttered. “He’s not dead, he’s not dead. No, no, no. He can’t be!”
Ron swallowed when he looked at the limp body. “He is. He is dead.”
Hermione didn’t manage to say another word. Instead, she threw herself at Ron, breaking down completely. She sobbed for what seemed like an eternity. But Ron was there for her the whole time. At first, he’d been paralysed when she was hugging him to her body like this, but after a few seconds, he gave her the comfort she sought. A tear rolled down his cheek.
A/N: Perhaps I have a thin plot, perhaps it is clichè. Well, one chapter left! :)