Hermione spun a final time as she apparated outside the town of Godric’s Hollow. She set out at a run, not pausing even to catch her breath or take in her surroundings. It was happening, he was here. There were indistinct sounds of commotion coming from farther north towards the town center, and she made her way towards them.
The sky was a deep, saturated blue as the sun sank along the horizon. It struck Hermione as odd how perfectly average the scene was: a street lined with brick houses, each one identical to the one that came before, and what could be seen as a calming stillness in the air. To Hermione, whose heartbeat was thumping loudly in her ears, the stillness was unnerving.
She continued to race down the street, intent on reaching those far off sounds of disorder. She must get to Harry. However, when she reached the end of that ordinary street, her attention was diverted for just a moment.
The house on the corner, which did indeed look just like every other house that had come before it, bore a sign that was far from ordinary. Her eyes raised to the deepening sky above its shingled roof and took in the skull and serpent, suspended ominously. Hermione slowed down, her breath ragged as she appraised its baleful viridescent form.
She paused for only a second before she grasped her wand and kicked down the front gate that was already swinging on its hinges. There was no time to think or weigh the pros and cons. The Dark Mark had stopped her in her tracks and her instincts told her to not pass this house by – there might be something here to be found.
The front hall was dark. Everything appeared normal until you looked at the details. There was a chair standing out of place in the hall, a picture frame was uneven on the wall, a vase of flowers had fallen over and the last remnants of water were dripping onto the hardwood. All of these things showed signs of a chase: Whoever the Death Eaters had come for had fought for their life.
She followed these signs of struggle into the kitchen. On the wall next to the kitchen stairs there was a handprint in blood, as if someone had grabbed the wall as they ran around the corner and up the stairs. Hermione took them two at a time.
On the landing above, a pool of dark liquid shimmered on the floor, the faint light from the window illuminating its surface. She closed her eyes for a second, steeling her nerves. There was only one door off the landing and only one direction for the victim to run. She walked to the door, grabbed the glass knob and turned. Tensing her jaw, she pushed the door open roughly, and entered with her wand in front of her.
A dark figure lay on the floor across the room and by the window. It omitted a gasp when it noticed Hermione’s presence and then let out a strangled cry.
“You’re alive!” Hermione cried, lowering her wand and rushing to the figure’s side. When she approached, her stomach lurched. The figure was a woman and by the rounded bulge of her belly, Hermione could tell she was pregnant.
She knelt immediately by her side, reaching out to feel her wrist for a pulse. It was as faint as a hummingbird’s, but it was there.
“How long have you been here?” she asked, looking desperately into the woman’s wide blue eyes.
“Less than half an hour,” the woman panted. “My husband – they took him. Tortured him in front of me…”
“What did they do to you? There aren’t any wounds!” Hermione checked her body up and down for signs of injury, but there were none.
“I – don’t – know,” she panted again, “but I think I’m dying.”
“Did they say an incantation? Can you remember?” Hermione questioned her desperately.
“No. No incantation...” The woman grimaced as she spoke, as if each word caused her physical pain to utter. She stared with wide-open eyes up at the ceiling, tears rolled down her pallid cheeks.
“Finite Incantatem!” Hermione cried, but it was futile. “I – I don’t know what to do!” Without the incantation, she would never find a counter spell. She looked frantically around her, not knowing what to do with herself. Her eyes had already started spilling tears, and her mouth quivered as she looked at the woman below her, lying desperately on the ground. “I want to save you, but I don’t know what I can possibly do!”
“I really don’t care if I die,” the woman said slowly, “but, my baby… never deserved this.” Now she closed her eyes, her mouth parted to let loose a sob. The sound was so mournful, it embodied sadness, and it seeped into Hermione and throbbed inside her heart. She sank lower to the ground and rested her forehead on the woman’s shoulder, letting go a cry of her own.
“Save my baby,” the woman whispered, delirious in pain. “I don’t care if I die, but my baby…”
“I don’t know how…” Hermione moaned hopelessly.
“Please! If I die, my baby dies with me… Help me.”
Hermione reached out and touched the woman’s stomach as she let out another cry of pain. There was a kick, as if the baby knew her hand was there and wanted to reassure her that it was still alive. She wept more at feeling that kick. The mother was right. It was going to die without ever seeing daylight … it wasn’t even a real death, just an incompletion.
She rested both of her hands on the woman’s stomach and tried to fathom how evil a person must be to do this to a woman.
“Will you promise me to save my baby?” The woman gasped, clutching Hermione’s arms and raising her head to look pleadingly into her eyes. “I can’t die thinking, knowing…” She didn’t need to finish her statement because Hermione knew what she was trying to say. She raised her hand to the woman’s face and wiped the tears from her cheeks.
“I promise,” she said, staring her in the eye.
Hermione Granger was not a person to make empty promises. Her world was grounded in logic, her morality bound by the restraints of reason. Her brain knew that she had done all she could forseeably do to save this woman and her child, and she knew that any further attempt she could make would be fruitless. But when she was asked to promise to save the woman’s baby, to fulfill her one dying wish, her system of logic and reason collapsed and she said what the woman wanted to hear. She promised. Not because she knew that she could save the baby, but because she knew that those two words were her only chance to bring the woman any sense of peace. All she could do now was hold the woman’s hand and hope desperately that her promise could be true.
The woman eased her head back to the ground. She closed her eyes and let her left hand reach deftly towards her pocket, pulling out a string of wooden beads and a cross. She held the beads to her chest and began to whisper, “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
Hermione recognized the Christian prayer, for it was a muggle religion that her parents had practiced before their own deaths. She realized the woman must be a muggleborn such as herself.
She continued to sit there for what felt like eternity. The woman never ceased in her whispered recital of the Virgin Mother’s prayer and Hermione felt herself close her eyes and rock back and forth to the rhythm of the woman’s words.
“Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou amongst women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now…”
Hermione opened her eyes and looked into the woman’s face. Her mouth was still formed in an ‘O’ as she said her last word. She pinched her eyes shut to force back the tears before she leant down, kissed the woman’s stomach and whispered, “and at the hour of our death. Amen.”
A/N: Hello, readers! Thanks for starting this little story of mine. This chapter has been revised on June 26, 2011, four years after its first publication. I'm proud to have the opportunity to escape into Rowling's magical world and create something of my own. Please tell me what you think - it is all appreciated.