The girls were quiet for a moment as Hermione stared at Selena skeptically, but her gaze was broken off by a shrill laugh from Missy.
Hermione’s eyes fell on her immediately, just as everyone else’s. “Oh! Selena you’re so predictable darling!” She squealed in a mist of giggles. The other girls, including Ginny, just watched Missy with curious eyes. “Selena always wants everything! I should know. She’s been my ex-best friend back stabber!” The other girls turned away embarrassedly, but Selena looked confused. Missy continued on. “I remember the time she stole my boyfriend Richard from me. Shall you tell the story Selena or would you rather I?”
Selena looked as if she had just been back from a long trip. Her face was rather pale and her expression confused. She looked at Missy with pleading eyes. “Missy…I---"
“Fine then. I’ll be the storyteller.” Missy continued with a mocking tone. “It once started---"
“Oh, there you are.” Mrs. Weasley’s cheerful voice said, making her way to the group of young ladies. “I was looking for you dears.” Missy stopped with her story and smiled at the old pudgy lady standing before them now. “Missy dear, Charles is looking for you.”
“Oh, is he now?” Missy asked in a softer tone. “Well, then I shouldn’t keep him waiting.” She looked back at the other ladies. “I’ll see you darlings later.” And with that, she strutted her way back to the wedding.
Selena rubbed her temples in silence. Mrs. Weasley watched her and asked with concern, “Are you alright dearie?”
“Oh, yes. I…am. Just a little weary.”
“Aren’t we all?” Molly replied chucking. “Let’s go grab ourselves a seat shall we?” Selena followed, her fingers still massaging her head. She wasn’t looking like herself at all.
Hermione could have sworn she saw a shadow moving behind a tree. She wasted no time in finding out what or who it was.
“Where are you going Hermione?” Ginny asked, following her mother.
“I’ll be back.” Hermione replied, her eyes not leaving the tree spot in front of her. She reached a few trees into the forest, but didn’t see anyone or notice anything out of the ordinary. Her high-heels were already sinking in the ground of dirt so she headed back to the wedding taking one look back again.
She was oblivious to the owl that sat high in the tree, with a stick in its beak; hooting when she left.
Back at the wedding, Ron and Luna were having the time of their lives. They were still dancing; swinging back and forth underneath a spotlight that Fred conjured on them. George was acting like a D.J. changing the music to fit the mood.
Some couples were still dancing, but Harry sat on a chair next to Remus, who was relieved that Tonks didn’t want to dance anymore than he did.
Alex plopped the window open, but who he was expecting never showed up. It had been an hour now and she promised him that she would be there, but still no sign.
He sighed depressingly, and blew out the candle that was lit in middle of a candlelight dinner for a special someone.
It was getting late and dark. Most of the guests were leaving and many were already gone. Missy left about half an hour ago with her husband Charles. Tory left with a single handsome gentleman to her flat immediately after meeting him and Teresa flooed back to her place since she didn’t like apparating. Selena didn’t stay much after meeting Hermione. She apparated home, claiming that she didn’t feel too well.
The only people that were left were Fleur, Gabriella, Harry, Hermione and a Mr. and Mrs. Whittler and the rest of the Weasley family.
The Weasley twins were occupied with Charlie and Bill igniting fireworks above the Burrow that they had brought from their joke shop. Ginny, Fleur and Gabriella were in conversation with Luna, who was out of her bride dress, but still dressed elegantly. Ron was with his two best friends, Harry and Hermione, deciding on where to take Luna for the honeymoon while Mr. and Mrs. Whittler was having tea with Mr. and Mrs. Weasley in the kitchen, chatting about the ministry.
The moon was high in the sky when Harry and Hermione finally bid the family goodbye. They were awfully tired and guessing by the darkness, it must have been past mid-night already.
The happy couple apparated to Harry’s place, too weary to change out of their dress-clothes, so they plopped on the sofa immediately after arriving, Hermione collapsing into Harry’s arms, falling into a blissful dream.
Being Sunday, Harry and Hermione didn’t want to do anything, but sleep in, but that was impossible that morning. The phone kept ringing like an alarm that didn’t have a snooze button. Harry would have yanked the cord out with pleasure, but it was in the kitchen and they were in the living room.
Whoever was on the other line sure didn’t feel like they were bothering the couple that was trying to have a sleep-in morning. Hermione yawned and Harry stretched.
“Are you going to get that?” Hermione asked through her yawns.
“I don’t want to, but…” Harry gave Hermione a small peck on the forehead and headed grudgingly towards the phone.
“Hello?” He asked almost annoyingly. His annoyed expression turned soft. “Hey Luna. How are you doing?" Harry stopped and listened to Luna’s reply. Her voice sounded urgent. “Hermione? Yeah, she’s here. Hang on.” He came into the living room, with his hand on the voice piece of the phone. “It’s Luna. She wants to talk to you.” Harry said handing Hermione the phone.
Hermione took it with a puzzled look on her face. “Hello? Luna, is everything alright?” Her eyebrows furrowed and her expression changed with every word Luna spoke. “Yeah, I’ll be there right now. Bye.” Hermione hung up the phone and sighed.
“Anything wrong?” Harry asked worried.
“No.” Hermione replied, her brown eyes filled with past thoughts. “Just girl stuff.”
Hermione sat at a table in the café that she and Luna and Ginny came to during their summer free time.
It was an elegant café with linen-clothed tables and a waiter at the door greeting guests and waiters and waitress in elegant clothing serving customers and…the place itself was elegant. There was no other word to describe it besides elegant.
At this time during the day, the café was hardly busy. This café was crowded during the evenings and weekdays compared with the morning weekend.
Hermione looked outside the window at the bustle of the customers when Luna walked in and seated herself across from her friend. She looked worried and angry.
“What did you want to tell me?” Hermione asked quickly, questioning the look on her friend’s face.
Luna got right to the point. “You remember Missy from the wedding yesterday right?”
“Yes, of course.”
“Well, she was telling Ginny awhile later after the wedding that she had no idea of what had happened to her. She claimed that she never had a boyfriend named Richard.” Luna continued her eyes wide. Hermione watched her closely. “She felt as if she had been on some…” Luna lowered her voice to a whisper that Hermione had to lean in to hear her, “…curse.”
Hermione sat back against her chair and thoughts started shooting through her mind. She eyed Luna quickly. “How did Ginny describe Missy’s features?”
“Well…I think she said that she looked like she saw a ghoul or something.” Luna started. “Her face was drained from all its color.”
Hermione stood up abruptly. She grabbed Luna’s hand and rushed out of the café, heading out in middle of the empty street, where only a few customers where window shopping. “Listen to me Luna.” Hermione said her voice cautious and stern. “I want you to apparate to the Burrow right now and stay with Ron.”
Luna already knew what was going on, because she could see the eagerness in Hermione’s eyes.
“What about you?” She asked.
“I have some visiting to do.”
There was a light knock on the door and Harry rushed to open it. He expected Hermione to be there, but the appearance of a long raven-haired woman surprised him.
“You?” Harry asked with half-disgust as if she were some dirty rag.
“Hi, Harry.” Cho replied timidly, hugging herself as if she were cold. “Can I come in?”
“No, Cho. Please go away.” Harry replied firmly. He started to close the door, but Cho placed her hand quickly against the closing door, stopping him abruptly.
“Please Harry.” She said her voice whiny and apologetic. “I just want to talk.”
“But I don’t.” Harry said, his eyes growing with anger. “You’ve done enough. Goodbye.” He successfully shut the door in Cho’s face.
Cho stood there like she had been violently slapped across the face without notice.
Alex opened his eyes after he heard some woman calling his name. He blinked several times due to the blurriness, but he didn’t lift his head off his arms since he was wasted to all the drinking he did.
“Alex?” The woman asked again hesitantly. He could have sworn he heard her voice somewhere before, but he just brushed off his curiosity and didn’t bother to look up.
“What do you want?” He asked heavily.
The woman sat across from him; the table in between them. Before she could explain why she was there, the bartender strolled over and made the empty beer bottles disappear.
Alex put up his hand or tried to, “One more round.” He whispered, but the bartender merely shook his head and left.
“Alex, my name’s Hermione Granger. Do you remember me? From the beach?” Hermione asked each question with preciseness since Alex was already drunk.
Alex didn’t move, but blinked his eyes in drowsiness.
When he didn’t respond, Hermione tried asking again. “I’m---"
“Yeah, I heard you.” He said harshly, making Hermione shiver with his anger. “What do you want?”
“Where was Cho all day yesterday?”
Alex went quiet again, but this time, he propped his elbows on the table, his head buried in his hands. “I…don’t remember.”
“You must remember something.” Hermione pressed on, getting anxious. “Did she visit you at all or owl you?”
This made Alex drop his head down on the table again. His expression turned emotional. Hermione was thinking he might even cry for a moment.
“She said that she would be there in time for dinner. She said that the evening would be ours only, but….” Alex said his voice softer and calmer.
“But…she never showed up.” Alex’s anger was rising again. “She had other things to take care. Other plans….that included him.” He said the last part with a spitting disgust in his voice.
“Who?” Hermione asked, but was already positively sure.
Harry answered the phone, happy to hear his best mate’s voice on the other line.
“Hiya Harry!” He said cheerfully.
“Hey mate!” Harry replied enthusiastically. “Where are you two right now?”
“We’re at the Burrow, packing our bags and getting ready for our trip.” Ron replied, but hurriedly.
“Ron, is Luna there?” Harry asked hesitantly.
“Yeah, she is. You want to talk with her?”
“Oh, no. I was just wondering because she called Hermione earlier to talk with her about ‘girl stuff’.”
“Yeah, she was gone this morning, but she’s back now. What about Mione?”
“Well…” Harry pulled off his glasses and rubbed his eyes, “She’s not back yet.”
Cho turned into her animagus form and flew through over the town, catching a few excited looks from some kids, while making her way back to the cabin to visit her ‘friend’.
She made it successfully to the window pane, flying in since it was wide open. She guessed that Alex must have left the window open for her.
She turned back into her human figure, searching the room. “Alex? Where are you?”
A slip of a cloak beside the fireplace made her jump. The invisibility cloak slipped off and there stood none other than Hermione Granger. Her lovely brown eyes were now filled with irritation.
“He’s sleeping.” She said to Cho, making her way toward her.
Cho, however, seemed hesitant. “Hermione! Wha—what a pleasure to see you here!” She tried to act cheery, but her voice was failing her.
“Drop the act Cho.” Hermione replied, her voice cold. “I know everything that you’ve been up to.” She reached Cho and stared into her black evil eyes.
“What are you talking about?” Cho asked her voice as low as Hermione’s.
“You know exactly what I’m talking about.” Before Cho could retort back, Hermione continued. “I couldn’t quite understand at that time how you did it. I knew you were there, somehow, somewhere, doing something at the wedding.” Her eyes shot into Cho’s, but slowly she turned and started to pace the room with patience. “And then, something happened with Missy. She was hysterical and definitely not herself, according to Ginny. That’s when I found out the answer.”
She stopped and watched Cho carefully, but she just stood there, her eyes growing big. “I should have seen it all along. Missy wasn’t herself and I could have sworn her descriptions fit Selena’s. Which, in fact, I went to visit that poor woman. She’s doing fine, if you’d like to know.” Hermione added with sarcasm, but Cho merely winced. “How could I have missed it? But thanks to the help of my friends, Ginny and Luna, I found the answer. The Imperius Curse.”
Her eyes pierced into Cho’s, who looked equally upset. “You cursed Selena under the Imperius Curse to say those things and then, when everyone suspected something mental with her, you switched your curse to innocent Missy.”
Hermione laughed suddenly, surprising Cho. “But of course, you were no one where to be seen. Who could have suspected you when you weren’t even there?” She stopped laughing and turned serious again. “But you were there…the whole time. You just were being clever. You turned into your animagus form, hiding in the trees like some desperate spy, watching everyone carefully, with your big, nosy owl eyes!”
Hermione knew her animagus form, which some-what startled Cho. “I wouldn’t have figured it out that you had an animagus form; turning into an owl.” Hermione said, as if she read Cho’s mind perfectly. “But the last clue I needed came from a sorrow heartbroken soul that you crushed. Alex told me the last piece to the puzzle.”
Hermione pulled out her wand and pointed it at Cho’s throat. “I told you before, leave Harry and everyone else alone, but you didn’t listen.” Hermione inched nearer. “But I think you’re just mental yourself.”
Cho looked angry. She looked like she was going to burst, but still kept her mouth shut, eying Hermione with annoyance, but Hermione continued.
She placed her wand back in her pocket, her eyes not leaving Cho’s. “That’s why I’m giving you a last chance. Leave Harry alone or you’ll suffer the consequences.”
It was almost lunchtime and Hermione still wasn’t home yet. Harry was starting to worry. She had been gone so long ago and still he heard nothing from her. He paced the room in anxiousness, but there was an interrupting knock on the door. He rushed for it, hoping that it was her.
When he opened the door, he nearly startled Hermione by attacking her with a sudden hug. She responded back when she realized why he was so worried.
“I’m fine Harry.” Hermione said as Harry gripped her harder.
He pulled her inside the room quickly, shutting the door behind them.
“Harr---" Hermione started to say, but was cut off by a unexpected kiss on the lips. She reacted quickly, with ease, letting all her thoughts drain out of her mind.
“Do you know how worried I was?” Harry exclaimed when he pulled away. “You could have called me or at least owled me!”
“Harry!” Hermione said, making him come to a stop with his worries. “I just had some things to take care of, that’s all.”
But Harry still looked worried and partially frightened. Hermione followed him to the couch and sat down next to him, taking his stiff hand in hers. “Harry, what’s wrong?”
“Uh…” Harry started, his eyes meeting Hermione’s. “She stopped by today.”
Alex’s body slammed against the cabin wall, as he fell to the floor with a loud thump. His clothes were torn apart and he looked as if he had been brutally whipped. He slowly sat up, cowering in the corner of the cabin, afraid.
“You bloody bastard!” Cho screamed as she approached him violently again. “You couldn’t have kept your stupid mouth shut!” She pointed her wand threateningly at him.
Alex whimpered, as if the wand was a knife. He was built and tough, but he was weak now that Cho attacked him directly when he was sleeping. She didn’t stop once since then.
“You’ll suffer just like that bitch mudblood will suffer!” She aimed her wand directly at Alex screeching one word, “Crucio!”
Alex’s shrieks filled the cabin. Cho didn’t lift her wand from him until she felt satisfied, but even then, she was still filled with anger and needed to take it out. Her right eye started twitching in frustration and fiery anger.
“I—I’m s-sorry.” Alex whispered when Cho released him from the curse again.
“I don’t care!” She cried at him. “I told you to keep shut, but you couldn’t do it!”
“Ch—Cho----I---I---lo-love---you.” Alex whispered with a little strength of his voice left.
She glared at him with repulsiveness. “But I don’t.” She spat at him and turned on him once again. “Crucio!” She shouted with revulsion, her eye twitching in hatred. “I hate you! I hate her!” She shrieked as Alex blood curling screams filled around them again.