Chapter 1 : Within
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Part I - The Lion's Pride
Chapter 1 - Within
The ground was covered in the fresh spring dew. Birds were chirping high above in the tall oak trees. The only thing that made her stir was the cool wind that was blowing her curly brown hair around in the grass. How long she lay there, she did not know; nor did she know of all the souls that had perished around her. Slowly and painfully she raised herself to the sitting position, legs sprawled out in front of her, palms to the cold, wet ground for balance. As much as she had tried to keep her eyes clothes because of the relentless sunlight, she opened her eyes larger than slits, taking in the broken scene around her.
Hagrid’s hut, only yards away from her, was smoldering, black smoke billowing from the straw that caved inside of its walls. Rubble from the smashed stone of the castle was scattered throughout the grass, causing deep dents into the plush grounds of Hogwarts. Afraid of what she might see, Hermione hesitated as she twisted herself to look at what was behind her. The Whomping Willow, the monstrous tree that guarded the entrance to the Shrieking Shack was uprooted. Its large, sinister roots were dangling haphazardly from the obtrusive trunk. The birds that were chirping in the oak trees flew sadly over the tree that they had forever avoided. A shining black raven perched itself upon one of the branches of the willow, twittering a low melody for all around to hear. Hermione raised her chin to view the sun that was pouring down over the battle scene. Where the stone gargoyles once perched tall and strong, there was now only chipped stone, with no shape to be made. A broken cement wing lay to her left, next to the blaze that used to be Hagrid’s home.
Snapped wands, decorated grossly with sweat and blood, were strewn about the grounds, falling just out of reach of grasping fingers. Hermione squeezed her eyes tightly shut, wishing the images in front of her to vanish. Her head was pounding, like her veins were pumping too much blood into her brain. Very carefully, she opened one eye, praying that she was only dreaming. When her other honey eye opened, she knew that this was no dream and that feeling was only enhanced by the gruesome smell of copper which she could only attribute to blood.
Her small, bruised frame finally stood, her back arching slightly from the pressure she had felt from when she first awoke on the ground. A nauseating sensation stirred in the pit of her stomach as she scanned the area for familiar faces. Her eyes flew quickly over the bodies of those she had dueled with; Bellatrix, Zabini, Goyle, Snape were all on the ground, either dying or dead. Their faces wore masks of pride and determination, something Hermione was sure they would never feel again. The Death Eaters were long forgotten when she found the still bodies of the ones she had sought originally. Raven black hair was scattered messily over his forehead, where a lightening bolt scar was carved; it was Harry Potter. His eyes were shut peacefully and his body lying frozen in the mess of dying grass around him. Sweat was still falling from his forehead and streaks of dirt lined his cheekbone and brow. No marks of harm were on his body, yet she knew that he hadn't survived. Lying in a position, as if trying to protect him was Ron Weasley, his long red hair falling limply at the sides of his face. Dirt and blood mixed in to form one color with his sporadic freckles, a look of anger masked his soft features.
It was her breaking point, seeing her two best friends lying on the ground, lifeless. How was it that they had both died while she had lived? The memories from the last battle were hiding in the deep parts of her mind, refusing to be revealed. Putting a frail, scratched hand to her head, she began to cry. Her eyes were stinging and dripping hot tears onto the perished bodies of her friends, two-thirds of the trio, the reason she loved Hogwarts, the reason she loved being a witch. Her cries and sobs lasted for several minutes, hoping that her friends would wake at the sound of her terror.
Finally breaking herself away from her lost friends, Hermione began searching for survivors of the war, helping and levitating those that she could save to the Hospital wing inside of Hogwarts. Among the fallen, were Mundugus Fletcher, his hands were still holding on greedily to a trinket that had stains of blood smeared over its shining silver. Close to him was a Death Eater, Rudolphus Lestrange. His mask was falling off of his face, revealing a scarred cheek painted freshly with grass stains, as if he had been forced into the ground. Feeling no pity for the man, Hermione turned quickly, her feet carrying her hurriedly through the wet, tainted lawn.
She stopped dead in her tracks as she heard a pleading voice. “Please,” it whispered hoarsely.
Dropping to her knees immediately, Hermione clutched the trembling hand of Remus Lupin. His nails were jagged and dirt lined the whites of his usually manicured hand. Taking in the damage of the man before her, she knew he wouldn’t make it, yet she refused to give up on him.
“Professor,” she said shakily. “We have to get you to St. Mungos.”
She lowered her head, barely able to hear him through his ragged breathing. Her ear was close to his partially opened mouth. Ignoring his stale breath on her face, she listened to his breathing get slower and more shallow.
“Tonks,” he forced. “Get to Tonks.”
Taking a glance around, Hermione soon recognized the usually pleasant form of Tonks. A look of terror was plastered on the delicate features of the Metamorphmagus. Still, she didn’t move from her former professor’s side until she felt the last pulse of his heart on his wrist. She kissed his hand gently in a gesture of goodbye and rushed over to Tonks.
Without hesitation, she levitated Tonks to the school, and sent with her a message for Madam Pomfrey, who had stayed in the school in case one of the Order needed care.
It was time, time to move the bodies to the places they belonged. She took a look at the ones she had tended to, and nodded to herself. Not sure of how much strength she had left, Hermione cast one levitating charm at a time, watching solemnly as her fellow war heroes passed her by. Queasiness flowed more freely through her body now and she felt her blood go cold. As she watched the injured pass her by, bile rose in her throat when she saw a clan of red hair start to parade in front of her. The Weasleys, her second family, were very lucky to have sustained only minor injuries. Bill, Charlie and Percy had each succumbed to a few stunners and curses. Mr. Weasley had a thin cut running from his forehead down to his chin, as if he had been cut by the Sectumsempra spell. She grazed his hand as he floated by, willing her hot tears not to fall.
There were students from Hogwarts, in Hermione’s year, that she had to turn her head from seeing. Of what she permitted herself to witness, she knew that Luna Lovegood, Zacharias Smith, Terry Boot, and to her horror, Draco Malfoy were all going to make it through their injuries. She had only sent Draco along because he had tried to make amends for what he had done in the past, though they were only feeble, and possibly hoaxing, attempts. Obligation would not allow her to let him lie there and die.
When everyone who mattered was safely inside of Hogwarts and presumably under the care of the nurse, Hermione allowed herself to fall to the ground. She was drained, magically and physically. Crawling on her knees, cutting her robes on the shards of stone in the grass, Hermione dragged herself over to where her two best friends lay. She curled up between them, her head lying on Ron’s shoulder and her fingers playing with the sodden cloth of Harry’s robes. And there she stayed until the sun began to set and the gentle breeze dried her tears.
“Are you absolutely sure that you cannot penetrate beyond that point?” wondered a curious voice. “You claim that you have been coming to me for over a year and yet I feel that this is merely the surface of your problems.” The man who was speaking held a bushy eyebrow arched over his sapphire eyes. With his leg crossed neatly over the other, he held a pad of paper against his knee.
Hermione huffed, her honey eyes rolling in her head. It was annoying to have the same conversation weekly. “Yes, Dr. Florens, I have been coming to you for a year,” she reassured. “My mother has made sure of that. And,” she added irritably, “no, I cannot remember before or after that point. I have no idea why Ron looked like he was protecting Harry, or why Harry was lying next to me.” Why does my mother make me do this? Can’t I just forget about all of this?
“Hermione,” the impatient doctor sighed, “You cannot deal with death by shutting out its details.” The middle aged man peered over his thick black spectacles and sent her a solemn look.
Ever since she had discovered that Ron and Harry were dead, she questioned why she was still living. Her fretful mother pleaded with her to get counseling. Finally, after weeks of protest, Hermione gave in to her mother’s constant request, though she knew she would get nowhere. Dr. Florens was, after all, a Muggle doctor, though he had come highly recommended from a friend of the family. On a normal day, it would take several hours for Hermione to convince him that she was a witch; , often having to perform a charm of sorts in front of him. After the shock wore off, she would explain her ‘issues’ and sit, pondering the point of the repetitive sessions. Immediately after telling her tale, and gathering the doctor’s habitual response, she would modify his memory. Perhaps this was the reason that she had never advanced in her recovery, but she never really wanted to anyhow.
“Dr. Florens,” Hermione chirped while standing up from the brown leather couch. “This will be my last visit.”
“But,” the man interrupted. “What of your treatment?”
“I will figure things out in due time, I expect. Coming here has done nothing for me, because you cannot remember what I have already told you. Maybe the library has a book that can help me,” she thought with a small reminiscing smile. Oh, Merlin, I miss the Hogwarts Library.
“You cannot expect to get everything that you need from a book, Miss Granger,” he spoke doubtfully.
Hermione’s thin red lips formed a grin on her fair face. “You don’t know me very well, then,” she replied. Raising her wand from her robe pocket, she held it level with the therapist’s chest. “Obliviate.” As the man’s body bent over in the swivel chair, Hermione couldn’t help but wonder, if he could have remembered all of their other sessions; , would he have been able to help?
“I’m terribly sorry,” croaked a confused voice. “Who are you?”
Hermione’s posture slouched slightly as she said, “I am nobody.” Stalking from the office, Hermione resolved that she would never see a Muggle doctor again in her life.
On the crowded and noisy sidewalk of Muggle London, the slender brunette walked with her eyes focused on the ground below her. Her heavy black cloak was being pulled securely around her body, trying to keep any wind from seeping in. Occasionally, she would bump into a passerby, mumble an apology and continue her previous engagement with the pavement. Thoughts swam through her mind, as usual, about the day she lost her friends. Constant images of the lifeless bodies floating past her and the wounded that were screaming from pain, filled her every reflection. Ron’s form, arms outstretched, reaching toward Harry, who had a peaceful slumber look trying to mask his determined face.
“Watch where you are going,” a brute man hollered. “Stupid girl.”
“Sorry,” she whispered quietly to the large man that she had run into.
“Mourning still, are you,” inquired another voice. Unlike the previous tone, this one was silky. It sounded vaguely familiar to Hermione, but she had a hard time placing it. “You won’t have to worry about that for too much longer, though. Soon enough you will join your traitorous friends.”
“Who-” Hermione began to solicit. But when she examined the space around her, she saw no one within whispering distance.
“Right here, my sweet,” he answered, as though he was reading her thoughts.
Hermione quickly glanced over her shoulder, expecting to see a face nearby. Again, she saw no one close enough to her. The closest person around her was many feet behind her. Turning her head to face in front of her, she felt a nerve twitch in her neck. Rubbing it roughly, trying to work out the kink, she wondered to herself where the voice had come from.
“Inside of you,” he responded to her thoughts.
A/N Okay, I have rewritten this chapter (making it more than 1000 words longer). Much thanks to Arithmancy_Wiz for the help with beta reading and showing me where I needed more description. Thank you!!! *Hug* I hope you all enjoy the change! Please leave a review!!