His knees buckled. Energy drained from his body and his face became pallid, despite the heat of the kitchen. His knuckles drained to an ashen white as he clutched tightly onto the book, drawing breaths in harsh rasps.
Mrs. Weasly gasped loudly as she turned from the oven to find Harry’s body splayed on the floor, colourless and curled into a tight ball. Hastily throwing her baking pans aside, she dropped to the floor beside him. A dirty looking House-Elf scurried up behind her, wearing what looked like eight pairs of odd, mis-shapen socks, and a woolly bag on his head.
“Harry!” She choked, her eyes fast becoming blurry and her throat seizing up. “Harry! Harry it’s me dear!”
She grasped his shoulders hard and shook him violently.
“Please Miss,” Dobby said, his eyes wide with fear and deep with anxiety. “Please Miss, he is being okay a minute ago, I is only doing what he is asking.” Dobby was shaking with fear, his hat in danger of falling off and his little arms pumping hard on Mrs. Weasly’s jacket, desperately trying to get her attention.
But Mrs. Weasly paid him no heed. Her nightmare was unfolding and the image of Harry’s body, collapsed on the floor and struggling for life, haunted her mind. Where was the rest of the guard? How had they let this happen? She was not aware of the little creature trying to tell her that he had collapsed due to exhaustion and was not, in fact, hanging on for dear life.
“Miss!” Dobby screamed, his voice struggling to be heard over Mrs. Weaslys howling. “He is being alright!” Realizing he was not being heard, Dobby looked around desperately for help. With no-one in the kitchen, he picked up his little legs and scampered up the stairs and into the lounge.
“Dobby!” Ron exclaimed from the armchair he was sitting in, building a castle with some battered looking Exploding Snap cards. “What’s up?” he said, laughing, as Dobby jigged up and down on the spot and burbled furiously at Ron. “What is it?”
Dobby was talking to fast for Ron to hear him. He reached forward and grabbed a handful of Ron’s trouser leg and scurried back to the kitchen, Ron cursing loudly as he collided with many pieces of solid, wooden furniture.
Ron immediately caught on to the situation, however, as he saw his mother lying beside the body of his best friend, sobbing and clutching at his hands desperately.
“Mum?” Ron asked as the colour drained from his face.
“He is being okay sir, he is only being asleep.” Dobby said from Ron's knees.
“Asleep?” Ron asked puzzled.
“Yes, yes sir, just wake him up and your mother is stopping her nasty shrieking.”
“Er...okay, erm...” Ron dashed to the cupboard by the door and scrabbled at the little handle. Awakening potion, awakening potion he said under his breath as he pushed aside the many magical remedies. He cursed himself for being only months away from being of age and using magic when he wanted. Who made up that rule anyway? Finally, he found what he was looking for and, with the help of Dobby, was able to pour most of it down Harry’s throat.
Blinking his eyes open, Harry felt his body being crushed in a hug that nearly stole all the breath he had just gained. “Mrs. Weasly,” he smiled.
“Hello dear,” she said gently. “I knew you’d make it back to us.”
“No you didn’t!” Ron called from behind his mother. “You thought he was dead, you were practically calling the funeral directors - no help at all! Thank the bloody heavens Dobby had some sense.”
“Ronald, I don’t want to hear that language from you, and I did no such thing,” she said, her ears turning Weasly red.
Harry grinned as Dobby pushed his head around Mrs. Weasly’s legs, and stretching it as he smiled at Harry manically. “I’m okay,” Harry said, “and I got the book,” he added as he got up off the floor.
“But dear, where is the rest of your guard?” Mrs. Weasly asked.
Lupin ducked quickly as a painting that was twice the size of him tumbled off of the wall, bringing many others with it.
“Wolfie!” Dolohov cried as he shot a spell into the darkness, smashing through walls and tearing portraits from their hangings. “I saw you Remus, don’t hide!”
Lupin crouched down in the shadows, breathing hard. He could see Mad-Eye across the hall, battling with a rather squat looking wizard. Antonin Dolohov was still on the foot of the stairs as his cries rang in Lupins ears. Wolfie? Of course, Greyback probably told Voldemort and all the Death Eaters about Lupin’s failed plan with the werewolves.
Lupin edged his way around the walls of the entrance halls, his thin body sticking to the stone as though he were just another portrait. He knew Harry had just run off and he needed to stay as close as possible to him at all times. He suspected there were probably hoards of Death Eaters still up there, either unaware of any trouble or busy fighting the other members of the guard. He prayed silently that Tonks wasn’t in too much trouble.
Reaching the end of his shadowy cover, Lupin shot a quick stunner over his shoulder as he flew out of the darkness and across the entrance hall, his quick footsteps echoing across the marble and adding to the noise of the fight that was ringing in his ears. Moody was fending off two Death Eaters, their spells lighting Lupin’s way as they bounced off the ceiling.
“Wolfie!” Dolohov’s voice sent Lupin’s nerves into overdrive, his body tingling as his feet pounded up the stairs. Lupin ducked again as the intricate designs on the stone staircases were blasted away, just inches from his right leg.
“Get back here!” Dolohov was right behind him, shooting spells faster than Lupin could deflect them. He felt them swooshing past his ears as he desperately climbed higher and higher. His breath drew in painful gasps as sweat began to form on the back of his neck. Suddenly though, he lost his footing as the staircase shuddered under him. Grabbing onto the heavily damaged side, he heard Dolohov curse loudly from just behind him.
“To hell with these staircases!” He yelled as he too made a grab for the sides. Seeing his opportunity though, he rounded on Lupin who was only just out of arms reach. “No more games.” Keeping hold of the side, he pointed his wand at Lupin and smiled mercilessly as he watched his prey’s knuckles tighten on the stone and press his body to the edge. “No more running Wolfie.”
In the split second Lupin had had to make his decision he’d done it. Backing onto the stone, he’d vaulted himself over the side, praying he’d judged it right. Dolohov’s angry cries reverberated off the walls as Lupin landed on the staircase below. His ankle twisted nastily and he let out a gasp off pain before waving his wand over it hurriedly. He’d lost time and Harry was probably hitting some sort of trouble. As Dolohov bounded back down the stairs, Lupin ran, head down against the flying shards of stone and destroyed decorations.
Pounding along a steep, hidden passageway, he blessed the years he’d spent with the rest of the Marauder’s. Finally Lupin’s knowledge of the castle had some real use. Turning right at the top and dashing along a gloomy corridor, the sounds of another battle began to seed his brain with unpleasant thoughts. He willed his legs to move faster and cursed the moon; he wouldn’t be so weak if it decided to keep itself half for a while.
“You seemed to have improved!” Lupin heard the cocky sneers of a Death Eater from above him.
“And yet…you’re still too slow for me!”
Lupin snapped his eyes shut as the light threatened to blind him. He covered his head with his arms and reeled backward into a wall as the blast shuddered through his body.
At a woman’s cries though, Lupin recovered quickly, shifting through the darkness as he approached the Death Eaters.
“Stupify!” He thought as he directed his wand at the hulking, cloaked figure of the Death Eater who had just caused the blast.
Watching the Death Eater stumble and crash to the ground, Lupin ran towards the fallen figure of Tonks, his heart beating wildly and his stomach in his throat.
“Tonks?” he asked, crouching low beside her as he checked for more Death Eaters. “Tonks?”
“Uhh-huh. I’m okay really, just a little stumble from that blast.”
“Let me take a look…”
“No Remus, Its fine. Thanks for that though,” she said, tilting her head slightly toward the unsightly mass on the floor. “Now look, I just saw Harry I think. He really should try to wear more black socks.”
She smiled gently, yet not enough to hide her grimace as she shifted her body slightly to the left.
“Past here? Right okay. Are there more Death Eaters up the stairs?” he asked.
“I think we got most of them covered, the element of surprise gave us a big hand. And Moody’s up here now…Why didn’t you come up here with him?”
“Had to take a leap backwards to avoid trouble. Listen, you sure you’re okay?”
“Honestly Remus, I’ll fix it. Now get after Harry.”
Lupin nodded and pushed a stay hair from Tonks’ eye gently with his thumb before shooting out of his cover again. He caught a glimpse of Moody and Shacklebolt duelling fiercely as he sprinted away up yet more stairs. Reaching the statue of Barnabus the Barmy, Lupin let out a gasp. Crimson blood, half congealed, lay upon the floor and along the lower walls. There was no sign of Harry but Tonks was sure she’d seen him run this way. Where was he? Was this his blood up the walls?
Fear drenched Lupin like some sort icy river that flowed through his body at horrifying speeds. He had no idea where Harry was, whether he was lying helpless in some Death Eaters foul grip or even if he was still inside Hogwarts grounds. He stood in shock, tracing his fingers up the wall where the door normally formed. Anger bubbled inside of him as he rested his face on the cool of the stone, breathing deeply to try to control his thoughts.
He needed to tell the other members of the Guard. Moody, Shacklebolt. They needed to find him before the Death Eaters did, that was if they hadn’t already.
Running back down the halls, Lupin slinked back into the shadows. How was he to tell the guard? They were still in fierce combat, Lupin could see Diggle and Doge struggling with hooded figures, spells being deflected and cast without a single movement of their lips. Lupin hoped they weren’t too engaged in their battles to notice his warning.
Something silver and whispery danced around Lupin, lighting the shadows, before elegantly moving off towards the other members of the Guard. Lupin only hoped they remembered his patronus, it had been so long since he’d used this method of communication and warning.
Yet it seemed they did, Shacklebolt being the first to respond. Having finished off Goyle and leaving a very large mark with his heavy boot, he moved easily into the shadows and toward Lupin.
From the eerie light of the many wands, Lupin saw his face crumpled into a heavy frown.
“Where’s Harry?” he whispered, Lupin not really hearing him yet understanding his concerns.
“I don’t know,” Lupin replied. “The Room of Requirement…I can’t find him…There’s blood up the walls…”
“Blood?” He exclaimed, involuntarily.
Lupin nodded grimly.
This was all it took to get Shacklebolt into gear, his Auror training shining through. “Right,” he said, his tone gently commanding. ”We need to search the castle. Most of the Death Eaters are down, there’s not as many as I’d initially thought. Yet, most of them are merely stunned and they won’t stay like that for long. Jones is struggling to hold herself up but otherwise I think, I hope, we’re doing okay.”
Shacklebolt paused for breath as he looked at Lupin’s lined face, worry filling in those premature gaps.
“He’ll be okay.” He reassured him. “I’ll inform Moody…” he trailed off as Diggle approached him from behind Lupin’s shoulder.
“Saw the wolf,” he winked, “What’s the problem?”
“Harry’s not where he should be. We need to find him. Listen, You go with Lupin downstairs and I’ll get this lot sorted so we can take the top floors.”
“Alright. Watch yourselves.”
Shacklebolt nodded as he tuned back to face the now depleted battle. Lupin and Diggle moved off again under the shadows, down the stairs and back to the Entrance hall.
“We’ll start at the bottom. You take that staircase and I’ll take the other.” Lupin motioned his head to the two staircases either side of the large marble one. “Meet me back here. Any trouble - just send word.”
Lupin hurriedly picked his way between the abandoned portraits, dodging fallen mounds of stone and down a flight of stone steps. As the corridor opened out, he was glad he’d gone this way instead of the dungeons. It seemed the Death Eaters had let this in peace, perhaps because all he pictures were merely of giant grapes or huge hulks of cheddar. Following the corridors, he found them deserted and coming to the painting of a bowl of fruit he reached up and tickled the pears tummy until it giggled.
The sight that greeted his eyes as he turned the newly formed handle made his stomach turn. Brass pots and pans lay shattered on the floor, the long serving tables cracked and ruined. Sobbing house-elves were desperately trying to fix things, their faces drawn and empty. Moving forward and crouching low, Lupin tenderly lay a hand on a tiny shoulder.
The house-elf wheeled around, startled.
“We is very sorry Mr…We is working very hard,” it cried, seemingly pleading with Lupin.
“Er…” Lupin replied, not sure of what to say. “You’re doing a very good job. Don’t worry.”
The house-elf looked at him blankly before turning off and retrieving pieces of pans from the floor.
“Who broke all of this?” Lupin asked the house-elf, still on his knees.
“It’s no matter. We is clearing it up.” It said, rubbing its Hogwarts tunic hard on the brass surface.
“Yes…Yes but why is it all broken?”
“We is working and then they is coming in here and breaking it and telling to be not coming out until it is being all clean.”
“Who is they?”
The house-elf didn’t reply, yet Lupin already knew who it was.
“Did Harry Potter come in here?”
“No sir. We is hearing his name called but we is good and staying inside.”
“Who said his name?” Lupin pressed.
“We is hearing it yelled. But we didn’t go. None of us left Sir!” The house-elf seemed to be rubbing harder and harder as it spoke to Lupin, its voice growing more desperate and loud.
“All of you?” Lupin asked, detecting a lie.
The house-elf scurried off, quickly, but Lupin caught the back of its tunic. A crowd of house-elves seemed to be forming, many of them rubbing or picking up the same thing over and over as they watched.
“No!” The house-elf yelled. “Dobby! Dobby is leaving to get Harry Potter. After those…those men went away he is clicking his fingers and is going!”
Lupin dropped the poor creature harder than he meant to, sending it crashing to the floor with a nasty bump.
“When was this?” he asked quickly, making for the door.
“Not long ago Sir,” the house-elf replied in a slightly muffled voice.
That was all Lupin needed to hear. He cast his patronus and raced at all the way back to the entrance hall to meet Diggle.
“Nothing,” Diggle said. “A drowsy Death Eater but I sorted him out.”
Lupin grabbed Diggle’s cloak and dragged him back up the stairs, explaining what he had just heard.
They pelted along the corridors and raced up the stairs, jumping the gaps as they went. Lupin’s wolf was up ahead, lighting their path back to where they’d left the rest of the guard.
“Remus! Diggle!” Tonks yelled as they approached her. Jones smiled from beside of her, her face a forbidding shade of white. “We wondered where you’d got to. You find him?”
Rapidly, Lupin explained to her what had happened and was pleased to hear footfall as he reached the end of his story.
“Find the boy?” Moody asked hurriedly, his mechanical leg clunking oddly over the stone as his magical eye whizzed around in side his head.
“I’ve just been explaining. One of the house-elves – Dobby – has apparently gone to find him, along with a couple pf Death Eaters.
“A house-elf?” Mood growled.
“One that will do anything for Harry.” Lupin nodded. “It seems the Death Eaters were keeping the House-Elves locked up as well, yet they didn’t realize they could apparate in the castle. So, did you find him?”
“No,” Shacklebolt answered, “No sign of him. We all saw the blood though.”
Harsh silence fell upon the group. A few Death Eaters were still roaming the castle and nobody had a clue where Harry was. How where they meant to help him?
“Listen, we’d better get you back,” Tonks said, looking at Jones and breaking the silence.
“All of us. Let’s leave. We’ll check in at Grimmauld, see if he’s there. If not, we can come back, search again” Shacklebolt suggested.
“No!” Lupin protested. “What if Death Eaters have got him?”
“That’s a chance we have to take,” Moody said, in such a low tone it was hard to make out what he said. “If they do have him, he’s not likely to be here is he? They’ll have taken him off somewhere.”
Forced to accept, Lupin nodded. Helping Jones up and lifting her arm round his shoulder he prayed that Harry was safe.
Something icy cold flowed gently down Hermione’s throat. Her eyes flickered open as she felt the foul taste of vomit fade. Healer Ruth Pitcher and Madame Pompfrey stood over her, their concerned faces slightly blurred.
She felt herself being propped up lightly as more pillows were stuffed underneath her back.
“How are you feeling?” Healer Pitcher asked Hermione tenderly, observing the girl with anxiety and worry that had built up behind her ancient glasses.
Hermione couldn’t reply, her head was still spinning strongly and she was still a little dazed as to what had happened. The shock that had numbed every fibre of her body still lingered within her as she gazed dejectedly into the bottom of the empty glass. The room around her shrunk and blurred with the concave bend of the glass and Hermione wished that she had one of these for all her emotions; something like this so that could shrink them, pick them up and hide them away. But she didn’t and she couldn’t run or hide from the emotions that held her heart strongly, in a grip that she believed was so tight it might just crush her altogether.
“Hermione?” Madame Pompfrey asked as Hermione gripped the glass so forcefully that the blood in her hands rushed to take cover under her fingernails. “Hermione, listen, we did the test’s while you were asleep.”
“I don’t want to hear it.” Hermione said simply as her teeth gritted together painfully. She was desperately trying to hold back the tears and stop them from running down her cheeks. “Don’t tell me.”
“But-“ Ruth began, but Hermione dropped the glass and clapped her hands over her ears.
She rocked unsteadily and the glass rolled off of her bed and shattered on the floor. Hermione almost felt as if it were someone breaking open the lock on the cage that held her together and stopped her from feeling too much. She hummed loudly, trying to block out her thoughts. They were going to tell her something she didn’t want to know, something that would ruin her life. She’d be pregnant with the memory of that night...the night where she had lost all control of her life...
“Hermione!” Madame Pompfrey said sternly as she grabbed at Hermione’s hands, careful not to touch her bandaged wrist. Ruth leaned into help and together they were able to pull her hands off her ears. Ruth waved her wand over Hermione’s mouth and her humming ceased.
“Hermione,” Madame Pompfrey said quietly, “We did your tests. We got the results back.” Hermione tried to yell at her to stop, she already knew answer, but her voice was still under the spell that Ruth was struggling to keep on her. “Hermione,” Madame Pompfrey drew a deep breath, “You’re not pregnant.”
Hermione couldn’t move. Her eyebrows knitted together, she was sure they were lying, keeping her from the harsh truth.
Healer Ruth nodded at her as she released her hands. “We did them twice; we’re quite sure about this.” She stretched out a smile and laughed as she saw the disbelief on Hermione’s face.
Madame Pompfrey squeezed Hermione’s hand. “It’s going to be alright. No more pain.”
Hermione’s senses were taken over by a feeling of elation, euphoria like nothing she’d ever experienced. She’d been so sure that she’d be pregnant; it just didn’t seem real that she wasn’t. Madame Pompfrey was right; it was going to be okay. No more pain.
So, now you know :) It took a while to decide but I eventually thought this story was more than a cliched victim Hermione story. Please leave a review and tell me what you think - of the whole chapter including the action-y bits as I don't feel they are my strong points. Thanks for reading! :D