Chapter 2 : Beyond Darkness
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I forgot to actually write an author's note for the first chapter, mainly because I was so frustrated at trying to get the chapter to format the way I wanted it to. Anyway, this story, as you may well know, is about Hermione and Sirius. I'm sorry that Ron and Hermione seem to be the couple at the moment, but trust me when I say, they won't last that long.
During this chapter, when you see --(insert time)-- it will represent a change of pov as well as the time. If there are any mistakes, I'm sorry. I don't have a beta so this is all me, besides, I'm never satisfied with what I write. I re-read and edit about eight times before I post anything. What can I say, I'm a perfectionist!
Please leave a review as I would love to know what you all think.
.: Chapter Two – Beyond Darkness :.
It was dark, always dark; never anything more, never anything less. It was just an endless void of nothingness, of shadows with poisonous words that sounded like honey to his ears. Always calling, always waiting, reaching, taunting and drawing him closer to the madness that threatened to consume what was left of his already unstable mind. Their voices were no more than shadowy whispers in the dark, haunting and hollow. They would call to him, sometimes begging for help, sometimes to lure him away from whatever hold he had on reality, but he always resisted, pushing their sickly sweet words of venom back into the darkness.
He had resisted their alluringly poisonous words for so long that he felt as though they were a part of him, embedded in his soul, scarring what little was untainted from the torments of his life. He had waited for what seemed to be a lifetime, but the reality of time, or rather the concept, seemed so foreign that he couldn’t remember when it was that he had first entered such a state, a state of nothingness as it were. He felt no cold, no warmth. Not even the sinister caresses of the shadows were able to reach him anymore. He felt nothing. He could see nothing, taste nothing, remember nothing, but only he could hear every whisper in the dark.
He had waited, impatiently at times, but he had waited nonetheless. He had waited until the darkness was broken and light poured through. He had waited until he could not only hear, but remember, taste and see that there was more to life than the endless void of nothing he had been subjected to. He had waited for this moment, however unlikely it was that it should ever occur. He had waited until the day someone found him.
Friday, November 2, 2004
She was distinctly aware of the incessant tapping at her window. The fact that it was only 5:03 in the morning made it hard for her not to notice. Maybe if she ignored the owl long enough, it would give up and try to re-deliver its message at a more respectable hour. Only a fool could hope for such a thing. Groaning, she grabbed the nearest cushion and haphazardly threw it in the direction of the tapping; hopefully the bird would just give up. It was certainly stupid if it thought she was going to get up. It was far too early in the morning and as far as she was concerned, the bird and its owner could go to hell. Mumbling curses under her breath, Hermione rolled over and buried her head under the remaining couch cushion. Why couldn’t it just go away? Owls were supposed to be intelligent creatures, so why was it that this particular owl refused to acknowledge that she was trying to sleep?
After twenty minutes of non-stop tapping, Hermione was on the verge of actually getting up, not to get whatever it was the damn bird was so insistent on delivering, but rather to throw her shoe at it. Of course she wouldn’t actually do it, but that didn’t mean that she couldn’t relish in the idea of shutting that pesky little creature up. Tap, tap, tap…… It was driving her insane, slowly but surely. I mean who in their right mind would send somebody an owl at this ungodly hour? Her conclusion was sound. Only a person who was sadistic, insane, or both, would think it was acceptable to send her an owl at five in the bloody morning! She had never been a morning person, in fact, she hated morning people. At least, she hated them until she’d had her morning coffee, after that she was perfectly happy to like them. It was an unwritten rule that nobody crossed Hermione Granger until she had caffeine in her system. Tap, tap, tap……
“GO AWAY!” she yelled, throwing a cushion at the window, instantly regretting it. She now had no pillow to muffle the maddening sound that echoed throughout the silent room. She had a painful kink in her neck and her legs ached from being curled up in an awkward position all night, but she supposed that was the risk one took when choosing to sleep on the couch rather than the bed. Maybe if she ignored the bird a little longer. Tap, tap, tap...
Taking in a shaky breath, Hermione forced herself to sit up while restraining the over-whelming need to throw something sharp in the general direction of one extremely inconsiderate and annoying owl. Glaring pointedly at the unknown bird, Hermione began to stand up but was stopped short as a tiny ball of black fur landed unceremoniously in her lap. She snorted at the kitten’s misguided leap, gently lifting the tiny fur-ball in one hand.
“What are you up to?” she asked laughingly, looking at the kitten’s curious eyes move from her own to the owl outside. “Oh, so the tapping was annoying you too?” slowly the kitten tried to wriggle out of her hand, looking at the owl again and then back at her. “You can’t take him, you’re too little,” by the undisguised look that crossed the little kitten’s eyes, Hermione knew that Isis thought differently.
Isis, while incredibly tiny, thought she could take on the world and everything in it. With a judgemental and curious eye, the little kitten had caught Hermione’s attention the moment she had walked into the shop. With sleek black fur and curious almond shaped eyes, the little kitten had captured the interest of many of the shop’s customers. While only a kitten, Isis was most possibly the most intimidating animal Hermione had ever met, but it was the intelligence in those hardened eyes that compelled her to buy the black fur-ball. As strange as it may have seemed, Isis seemed to single her out. The kitten had pointedly looked at her and then at the cash register three times before Hermione had realised what she meant. While most people had thought it odd, impossible even, Hermione was convinced that this strange little kitten, whose judgemental air and calculating eyes, had an intelligence that surpassed mere instinct. After a short debate with the shop’s owner over the price, Hermione had brought her furry little friend home, relishing in the fact that the kitten was far more playful behind closed doors than she had been in the shop.
“How about a little breakfast first?” she laughed, looking on as Isis tilted her head to the side. After wriggling free from her hand, the kitten jumped happily onto the hardwood floor, looking back at her impatiently.
Snorting at the cat’s exasperated expression, Hermione made her way toward the kitchen, ignoring the tawny owl that followed her from window to window. The owl could wait as far as she was concerned. After pouring some milk into a small saucer for Isis, Hermione grabbed a bagel and began to butter it, waiting for the kettle to boil. Shortly after settling herself at the kitchen table with her bagel and coffee, she looked up to see that the tawny owl was still flying persistently outside her window, it just wasn’t tapping. It never crossed Hermione’s mind that perhaps the reason someone had sent her an owl at such an ungodly hour wasn’t to irritate her but rather, to tell her something that not even she could fathom. She had never been one for logical thinking this early in the morning.
-- 6:36AM --
Ginny watched helplessly as her husband paced the length of the hospital’s private waiting room in an agitated silence. He hadn’t said a single word all morning. His hair was sticking up at odd angles and despite his lack of composure, Ginny knew that he was handling the situation as best he could. Harry had never been one to speak openly about his feelings and she knew that today would be no exception. If there was one thing she knew about Harry, it was that if and when he was ready to talk, he would come to her. All she had to do was have a little patience.
“Mummy,” a warm smile graced her lips as she felt a tiny hand grab at her own. Affectionately ruffling the already untidy mop of black hair that belonged to her son, Ginny placed a chaste kiss on the sleepy-eyed four-year-old’s head. Yawning tiredly, the little boy snuggled closer, pulling his mother’s arm around him. “Where ares we?”
James Sirius Potter was the spitting image of his father. With Harry’s untidy black hair and unquestionable lack of respect for the rules, along with her dark brown eyes and temperament, James was often described by Remus as a mini James Potter in the making. At age four, the little boy had already been established as Fred and George’s favourite nephew, mainly because he was an enthusiastic student when it came to all things mischievous. Her mother thought he was a little angel that could do no wrong. She knew differently. She blamed it on Fred and George of course. Harry found it exceedingly funny when James managed to change the sugar into salt whenever she went to make herself a cup of coffee. When his socks turned pink and were unchangeable, that was another matter entirely.
“We’re at the hospital sweetie,” she answered in a hushed tone, gently stroking her son’s hair in the process.
“Why?” the reply was muffled as James buried his head into her shoulder, his tiny arms wrapping around her neck.
“Well,” she started, tucking her auburn hair behind her ears. “One of daddy’s old friends is here –”
“Did he get hurts like Uncle Charlie did and have to comes to the hos –” looking down she noticed the confusion in her son’s eyes as he paused, trying to remember how he was supposed to pronounce the word.
“Hospital?” she added, watching as a smile spread across his face.
“Yes, that’s the one!” he yelled in delight, bouncing up and down happily.
“James, you have to be quiet sweetie, there are people trying to sleep,” worriedly looking around at the other occupants of the room, she was relieved to see that the majority of them were still too tired, or half-asleep to care about her son’s outburst.
“Why?” he asked loudly, looking around the room with a keen interest. Glancing over at her mother, Ginny was relieved to see that the older woman was still half-asleep, her head resting contently against her father’s shoulder. Looking back at her overly curious son, she opened her mouth to answer but was cut short as someone beat her to it.
“Because you’re mother said so,” Ginny looked up in surprise, her husband’s voice echoing quietly around the room.
“Daddy!” the little boy yelled in undisguised delight as he wriggled out of her arms, launching himself at his father’s legs. She couldn’t help but smile at her son’s antics.
With the ease of a Quidditch player, Harry hauled the little boy up into his arms, chuckling quietly as James started to ramble excitedly in his ear about nothing and everything. They were so alike, in more ways than one. James was a fast learner and it was almost a given that the boy knew how to do things he shouldn’t. Both Harry and James had similar mannerisms even though the boy was only four years old. It was one of those things that no matter how many times you saw it, it made you laugh or stare in wonder. They ate their toast the same, eating all the crust on the outside before indulging in the rest. They both slept on their stomach, heads buried in their pillows. They stood the same, shifting from one leg to the other when they were nervous. Nearly everything about James was a mirror image of his father; the only obvious difference was their eyes.
“Why don’t you go practice that new trick you learned on Uncle Ron,” inclining his head toward her brother, Ginny bit back a laugh, looking over to where the redhead was sound asleep, slumped in the hospital’s armchair and snoring loudly. James looked over his father’s shoulder and seemed to consider the idea thoroughly, a small frown on his face as though he were weighing up the pros and cons of pranking his Uncle Ron. As quickly as the frown appeared on her son’s face it vanished, only to be replaced by a mischievous grin. Wriggling out of his father’s arms, James took off at lighting speed to where his unsuspecting Uncle lay snoring. She knew she should be trying to stop and reprimand him, but where was the fun in that?
“And what new trick has our son learned that I don’t know of?” she asked, raising an eyebrow at her husband’s lopsided grin. Shrugging dramatically, Harry slumped down in the chair beside her, wrapping his arm around her shoulder comfortably. Refusing to let the subject drop, she swatted at his arm, giving him a stern look even though there was a ghost of a smile on her lips. “The trick, Harry?”
“Damned if I know!” he laughed. “Probably some new prank Fred and George taught him,” scowling, she looked at the identical redheads dozing lazily in separate armchairs near the door. As hard as she tried, she couldn’t fight the smile that spread across her face as she glanced at her son who was tiptoeing closer toward his Uncle. For some reason, she liked the fact that her son was a prankster. She would never admit it though.
“And you would place poor unsuspecting Ron in the middle of it?” she asked laughingly, matching her husband’s grin.
“Better him than me,” laughing at the playful twinkle in his eyes, she swatted at his arm, grinning impishly. No matter the circumstances, he always managed to make her laugh.
“You’re just as bad as he is,” she sighed, nudging his shoulder and pointing to where their son was crouched inconspicuously behind a decorative fern, his eyes fixed solely on his Uncle Ron. “But,” she began, turning around to look him in the eye. “I wouldn’t want you any other way,” leaning forward, she placed a chaste kiss on his cheek before laying her head contentedly against his shoulder. The comfortable silence lasted a while; interrupted every now and then by the muffled sounds of their loved ones snoring quietly in their sleep, with the exception of Ron whose snores were anything but quiet. “You okay?” she asked quietly, wrapping her arm possessively around his waist, snuggling closer.
“Yeah,” his despondent sigh caused her to look up inquiringly. The pensive look that marred his normally playful eyes did not go unnoticed. He smiled weakly down at her, eyes telling her everything she needed to know. He wasn’t okay, in fact, he was far from it. She couldn’t force him to tell her what he was feeling. He would tell her when he was ready. Slowly, she rested her head against his chest, taking comfort in his warm embrace and silently hoping that he would talk sooner rather than later. “It’s just –” he started, fingers twirling around the strands of her hair. “It’s just a bit much, you know? I mean –”
“I know,” she cut in soothingly. “We all thought he was dead,” she continued, lacing her fingers with his own. “We mourned him and everyone else that we have ever lost, but you know what? I think that rather than questioning this –” momentarily she paused, tilting her head so she could look into her husband’s eyes. “I think that rather than questioning why this has happened, we should be celebrating the fact that it has. Moments like these hardly ever come around twice in a lifetime, let alone once.”
“I knew there was a reason I married you,” Harry said quietly, looking down at her with a warm smile that made her insides melt.
“Apart from my amazingly good looks, sharp wit and delectable cookingI do not have the faintest idea of what you mean Mr Potter,” she said, her voice mockingly indifferent. Raising an eyebrow at her husband’s wayward grin, Ginny went to say something but stopped short, a dishevelled blur of red and black catching her eye; the only distinguishable feature being the mass of unruly brown curls that trailed behind the figure as it sped past the door and out of sight in a matter of milliseconds.
“What is it?” shaking her head, Ginny looked up at her husband whose dazzling green eyes were staring worriedly down at her. Opening her mouth to speak, she was cut short, a loud shriek erupting beside them, successfully waking every occupant in the room.
Jolting at the sudden sound she whipped around, her hand flying up to cover her mouth instantly as she tried to suppress the laughter that was bubbling inside her. Glaring murderously around the room, Ron stood, shaking with anger and embarrassment as he clutched at his top, then at his pants. Her mother was laughing as was everyone else. Glaring, Ron’s face turned a darker shade of red, eyes searching desperately for the culprit. Pink was definitely not his colour. Snickering, she eyed James hiding underneath a chair in the corner, looking on in gleeful delight at his handiwork. Shaking her head she turned back to the scene unfolding as Ron stormed out of the room, his hot pink pants and baby pink shirt flashing brilliantly as he turned the corner.
-- 7:04AM --
Pushing her way past the inquisitive interns huddled together in the hallway, Hermione all but ran down the bustling corridor, the rhythmic click of her black heeled boots resounding with each hurried step. The persistent urgency, with which the tawny owl had tried to deliver its letter earlier that morning with its incessant tapping, had finally got to her; the thoughtlessness and irrational idiocy of her actions made her flush in shame. It had taken a few minutes to fully register the enormity of the letter’s contents. Now she was here, running frantically down the hectic corridor’s of St Mungos, searching desperately for the door labelled Black. She’d hardly been able to utter a coherent word since she had discovered the news, let alone think logically about the situation. Being one of St Mungos resident healers, Hermione was sure that if she had taken the time to calm herself down and inquire as to the patient’s whereabouts, she would have been there already. Normally she worked well under pressure, sometimes she excelled because of the added stress, but it seemed that today was an exception.
Gasping, Hermione reluctantly leant against the corridor wall, clutching at the stitch in her side as she tried to regain her breath. Falling in a dark sea of coffee brown ringlets, her hair acted as a blanket against the odd looks that were thrown her way while she leant desperately against the wall, gasping for air and muttering a string of curses under her breath. Tossing the elbow length hair over her shoulder haphazardly, she looked up, scanning the corridor and its occupants through narrowed eyes. Perhaps if she asked the right person. Each person seemed as insignificant as the last; all had a destination where she did not. The sea of lime green robes mixed with those of the visitors made it hard to identify any one person. It was far too early in the morning for it to be this busy, but then she supposed the outbreak of dragon pox had the hospital on its toes and the public overly cautious. Closing her eyes, Hermione leaned back against the wall, her elbows chafing uncomfortably against the rough surface as she tried to think logically about her current dilemma.
“You know, I think you’ve finally cracked,” opening an eye, Hermione groaned. Pushing herself off the wall, she opened her eyes fully to glare at the smirking blonde.
“You know you look like your brother when you do that,” she said, grinning at the effect her words had on her friend whose face now wore a horrified expression.
Miranda Wilkes was just like any other healer at St Mungos. Her hours were horrendous and her pay less than substantial. However, it was Miranda’s personality that separated her from the rest; overly sarcastic with an odd sense of humour, she was surprisingly one of the sweetest women Hermione had ever met, considering her heritage and haughty demeanour. As the result of an affair, Miranda had never been fully acknowledged by her father, for the shame would have certainly been too much for him. Lucius Malfoy had too much pride and arrogance in him to admit to having a child with a woman other than his wife, especially when the child in question was born only ten days after his legitimate son. The young witch, whose pale blonde hair fell just below her collarbone, had never thought much of her father, in fact, she rather resented him. Miranda saw what her mother did not. The monthly payments were more a means to keep her mother quiet than anything else. He always visited once a year on her birthday, but he hardly staid for more than an hour. After her mother died, she had tried to get into contact with him but found that he was always too busy, or in a meeting. In the end she gave up, figuring that she would get no more than yearly visit and a monthly check out of him.
It was at the end of the war when a fair-haired man, ten days older than herself, turned up on her doorstep, his father’s bank books tucked under his arm. Lucius Malfoy’s secret was a secret no more. Initially the press had thought that Miranda was Draco’s flavour of the month when the two had been seen dining in Diagon Alley. When asked by Rita Skeeter who his new mystery woman was, Draco had laughed off the question, saying that he wasn’t dating anyone at the moment. Of course Rita had to point out that he had been captured having lunch with a pretty blue-eyed witch on several occasions. The paper, as well as Rita Skeeter had been mortified when they found out that Miranda was actually his sister.
During her internship, Hermione had always drawn the short straw when it came to shift work. It was during one of her nightly shifts when Hermione first met Miranda. The vivacious blonde was arguing heatedly with one of the resident healers that oversaw their internship at St Mungos, claiming that the healer’s diagnosis of a patient was wrong. Intrigued, Hermione had looked at the patient’s vitals and symptoms, coming to the same conclusion as Miranda. The healer was wrong. After that night, Hermione found that she had a new friend whether she wanted one or not.
“You’re evil,” muttered the blonde, glaring pointedly. “You do know that, don’t you?” Laughing at the reproachful look in her friend’s sapphire eyes, Hermione nodded with a grin.
“Hey Miranda, do you know where they’re keeping –”
“Black?” the blonde cut in, looking oddly indifferent. Confused, Hermione nodded. “Follow me,” Miranda sighed impatiently, obviously annoyed at the tedious task before her. She would have to remember to ask Miranda later.
Grabbing her hand, Miranda began to lead her down the corridor, turning left and right as though she knew the path off by heart. It seemed as though an age had passed before they stopped. Turning, Hermione faced the large oak door that loomed before her. Just as she was about to turn the handle, she stopped, Miranda’s hand landing on her shoulder in warning.
“Change into your healer’s robes. They’re not letting anyone in who doesn’t work for the hospital,” whispered her friend, an encouraging smile on her face. Glancing down at her ruffled clothes, Hermione sighed, waving her wand briefly, changing the rumpled mess into pristine lime green robes. Reaching for the doorhandle, she felt oddly nervous but pushed the feeling away. Turning the brass knob, she opened the door.
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