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Chapter 3 : Cognizance
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The Lion’s Pride
Chapter 3 - Cognizance
Hermione crawled slowly onto her crimson-painted queen-sized bed, which was already occupied by Terry. She slipped in next to him and pulled his strong arm around her, snuggling her back against his chiseled torso. Instinctively, he wrapped his arm tighter around her waist, refusing to loosen his grip for anything. This is what made Hermione keep him; he was protecting her. He may not know what he was protecting her from, but he definitely knew that she needed to feel secure, and he took care of that at all times.
With her amber eyes still fully open, Hermione stared at her window where the crescent moonbeams were shining through and creating strange shadow shapes on her bedroom walls. Every few seconds the silhouette would change; a small terrier puppy to a slumbering owl, transforming quickly into a miniature Horntail. Terry shifted slightly in his sleep, still not taking his arm away from her, but the sudden movement had still caused Hermione to flinch. She knew that she was a strong witch, the brightest of her age, but as she was still trying to deal with loss, her mind was scattered. And that husky and teasing voice inside of her head did not help at all. No matter whom the elusive voice belonged to, she knew she would eventually be able to handle it - the only thing that bothered her now was that she had no idea to who or what it belonged.
He was right in one respect, however. She had certainly lost some of her Gryffindor bravery along the way. Most of the time she was reduced to sniveling attempts at sucking up her courage, even with the smallest tasks. The brave and intelligent lion, Hermione Granger, was slowly becoming more muggle every day. Aside from the fact that she worked at St. Mungo’s, and lived in a magical complex, she was as muggle as they came, especially taking her bloodline into account. The use of magic was sporadic and sometimes feeble. The only time her magic was extremely powerful was when she was in a stressful, or fearful, situation. Even then, it seemed as though she had to drain herself of all power just to get a few counter curses to fly from her wand.
As her eye lids fell heavily, and her mind started to wander toward sleep, she thought briefly about the voice she had grown accustomed to having inside of her mind. "Little Lion," it called her, mocking her bravery, "Where's that Gryffindor Pride?" But, she was shaken more when remembered it saying, I'll see you soon, love. Just as she was entering the world of dreams, where she was free from the callings of past remembrances, she wondered who the voice had really belonged to, and why would he call her 'love'?
The scene was blurry, as if she was riding a train and looking through the window as it passed by a dozen movies. At first, she saw herself, wand in hand and ready to battle whoever was standing in front of her. Next, she barely made out an image of Ron running toward her with his wand drawn raised over her shoulder. And finally, she saw Harry, a look of contempt upon his face, as he drew closer to Ron, trying to grab at his dusty black school robes. Time stopped.
Hermione found herself in the middle of the battlefield, no movement going on around her, everyone around her was frozen to the places they stood. Taking in the fierce images before her, she started weaving in and out of people and battles, watching the still jets of light that were issued from various wands. A bright red flash had come from Lupin's wand, and it was headed toward Bellatrix Lestrange. His face was frozen in anger, as if he was losing a battle he desperately wanted to win; perhaps to do Sirius some justice. An orange glow was coming from the wand tip of Lucius Malfoy. As she followed the still light, she traced it back to its receiver. Hermione's face was shocked; she looked like part of the dream, part of the frozen players. The orange light was about to strike none other than Lucius' own son, Draco Malfoy, who was wearing a panicked expression. Peering out through his ripped robes was a black tattoo resembling the Dark Mark. But, a look more closely by Hermione told her that it was as if someone tried ripping it off; flesh was pulled away and blood was covering his once handsome robes.
After the shock of seeing a man attack his own son, Hermione found her way to where Professor McGonagall was locked in battle with Severus Snape. She, at least, was on the winning end, and by knowledge of the future, she knew that the Headmistress would still live to tell the tale. It wasn't until she started backing up from her two former professors that she noticed herself, in clear shot of a strange purple glow, one that was familiar to her. It was the same glow that had struck her at the Department of Mysteries years ago. And, since no one knew what effects that spell had ever had on her, she could only assume that she had deflected it in time, because nothing was wrong with her, except for a pounding migraine, after the crusade. Alas, she was wrong, the spell was not intended for her...
It was strange, watching a paused battle, but seemed even wilder when she saw the two boys standing in front of her. She quickly found the source of the purple light, coming straight out of Ron's wand, and it was not going at her, but over her shoulder. Following Ron's gaze and spell, she jumped when she locked eyes with none other than Voldemort. His face was paled and his skin was spread over it tightly, holding his nose flat against it like a snake. The slits were partially flared, so she assumed that he was taking in the scent of the blood around him, typical for a first appearance. But, his wand was raised without any spell emitted from it. It was not a defensive hold, but a ready-to-strike or had already-struck position, held strongly in front of him. Still, it had the limp of being brought down in the form of a curse.
Just as she took one more glance back at Harry's angry face, she was sent through a whirlwind of color. Vaguely, she could feel her body falling backward, as if an undertow was forcing her into the ground.
Hermione sat bolt upright, beads of sweat mingling with the unwanted tears in her eyes, causing them to burn and water more. Terry, feeling the terrified, sudden movement, sat up next to Hermione and planted his arm, once again, more firmly around her. Taking a few calming breaths and thinking random, semi-peaceful thoughts, Hermione looked up to see Terry's concerned expression.
"Bad dream," she admitted to him in a false, sweet voice. Inside, she was on fire with fear. It was the first time she had ever seen anything like that, and was unsure about whether it had actually happened, or was a made up tale by her psyche.
He pulled her into a hug as her mind swirled with thoughts. She stared over his shoulder out the window and trembled as she saw a raven fly by. Terry, being emotionally capable, sensed the fear that her dream induced and gripped her more securely to him, hoping to prove to her that she was safe in his arms. When her trembling had stopped, Terry pulled her back slightly to look in her preoccupied eyes. Ever present was the look she always gave him when she was recalling the past, whenever she would learn something minutely new. Sensing how much she need someone close, he recaptured her firmly in his arms.
"What was the dream about, Hermione," he asked in a charming voice, letting his breath wash across her neck. He felt her shift under the weight of his embrace, but refused to let it loosen at all. "You can tell me, you know? I'll listen."
"It was just a silly nightmare," she lied. She hated talking to Terry about the battle at Hogwarts; it always made her feel more guilty. He would always look at her in pity, and she refused to make him upset at her blunders. "Nothing to worry about, really."
“Are you sure, love,” Terry cooed, letting his hands pet her wiry hair in comfort.
“Don’t,” she spat as she closed her eyes, “call me that foul name.” At the feel of Terry recoiling, she immediately wished she hadn’t snapped at him. After all, he had no idea of what was happening to her. “I’m sorry, Terry. It’s just…That dream really got to me and…”
“It’s okay,” he replied. He leant down to her lips and kissed them softly, letting her know that her apology was accepted. His smooth hands caressed her cheek and wiped a stray tear from underneath her eye. “It’s okay.”
Melting into him briefly, Hermione thought of how great of a guy Terry was. He put up with her mood swings and depression without ever growing angry or isolating himself from her. He’s really going to make some girl happy one day, she hoped to herself.
Wiggling away from his firm grasp, Hermione announced, “I’m going to get a glass of water. I’m parched.”
Wobbling from her sleigh bed, Hermione walked to the maple door of her bedroom and left, without giving Terry a chance to respond. Making her way downstairs to her kitchen, Hermione felt nauseated and disturbed about the dream she just had. Millions of questions wreaked havoc on her brain, which was now feeling like a mass of putty. Harry had looked angry at Ron, Ron was trying to kill Voldemort, and Hermione was caught in the middle. None of it made sense. And why couldn’t she keep penetrating further to figure out everything that had happened? Would she ever find out what happened? Where was everyone else during the battle and why couldn’t she find all of her friends? Too many questions; Hermione gripped on to her marble countertops to steady her wavering balance. She breathed a few calming breaths and counted to ten, letting the memories wash themselves further back into her mind.
Her glass was under the running water, overflowing with cold water that was causing her hands to turn purple and her blue veins to show. Shaking herself from a daze, she wiped her wet hand on her pajamas and lifted the glass to her welcoming lips. Quenching down her glass of water and resolving herself to sleep peacefully and without brain teasers all night, Hermione marched back upstairs without another look back at the kitchen, where she had left water droplets cascading down the marble counter to the wooden cupboards.
As soon as she reentered her bedroom, she found Terry fast asleep, his chest moving slightly up and down, with small breaths being emitted from his partially opened mouth. He was so serene, she hated to wake him. So, instead, she climbed in next to him and pulled her crimson covers to her chin, silently begging a dreamless sleep to meet her.
A shadow stirred outside of her two-story window, watching her silently as she crawled back in bed and laid with her lover. Every move she made intrigued the shadow; one could almost see the pull of his cheeks as he smiled evilly. If Hermione could have seen the devilish figure staring at her, she surely would scream, but thankfully her foe knew how to hide from view. Stealth and cunning were the qualities he held in high amounts, so much so that it was near impossible to ever trace his whereabouts.
On the inside of the apartment, Hermione began slumbering peacefully once again, not taking notice of the plan forming in her foe's mind. The plan that would render her powerless and force her to succumb to the second nature of villainy. She was for the taking, and he never intended to give her up. Not again.
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