The girls exchanged quiet hugs, both realizing their paths were taking them in opposite directions; neither one willing to stray from their own road.
Anna walked towards the car without even a glace back, as Mr. Whittaker carried the luggage behind her.
Nyah reached and found Hermione’s hand. A small squeeze from Hermione was the comfort Nyah needed to watch Anna walk away – forever.
~Fantastic chapter image by chiQs09 at eHPf and TDA~
Chapter 15 – World’s Apart
Nyah stood glued to the platform, watching the car drive away. She was unfazed as people bustled around her – her eyes were set on the silver vehicle which now carried Anna away. Hermione took a step, ready to move on, but Nyah was rooted to the spot – needing to stay. As the car turned the corner away from the station, something shifted inside of Nyah, just a little – letting go of the fear and anger.
With a sigh and a nod, Nyah was ready to leave.
Instead of heading back to the platform, Hermione walked towards the busy street, not far from where Anna’s car pulled away. She was anxious to get home and Nyah had to run to keep up with Hermione’s quick strides.
“Hermione – wait,” Nyah panted, “where are we going?”
Nearly out of breath from walking so fast, Hermione looked at Nyah, the woman’s hair wild and untamed from the humid London air. “I know you’re not feeling well, but we really need to get back to the cottage quickly.” She paused and looked around, not wanting to be overheard. “We need to apparate, okay?” Hermione asked the young girl.
Nyah scuffed her trainer in the dust, sending up tiny clouds from the ground, hoping to delay the inevitable. “There’s no other way?” she asked Hermione, hopeful.
“Not to get us there fast enough,” Hermione explained, reaching for Nyah’s chin, pulling the girl’s brown eyes up to meet her own. “I can’t explain right now, but trust me, it’s really important.”
“Okay. It’s fine – really,” Nyah lied. She took a deep, calming breath, as Hermione turned on the spot. With a small ‘pop’
, the two were gone from Muggle London.
The small cottage came into sight moments later. Hermione landed firmly and Nyah stumbled to keep her balance, grabbing the fence rail for support. Smiling, Hermione chuckled, “I think you’re getting the hang of it,” as she walked up the walk to the house.
“Ugh! I still don’t like it!” Nyah mumbled loudly, meandering up the brick walkway.
Hermione opened the front door, calling for Ron, but only silence answered her. A note left on the table told her that he and the children had went on to The Burrow under the pretense of helping get ready for the party, but Hermione knew it was an easy way out of fixing lunch.
Nyah made her way to the front room, and threw herself onto the sofa as Ron had done the evening before. The sofa’s large, marshmallow-type cushions cradled Nyah’s little body as she quickly fell asleep, content.
Hermione smiled as she watched the young girl drift to sleep; deep breaths causing her chest to rise and fall. There was such innocence about her – Hermione was certain she herself had never been that young. Shaking her head, she remembered the pain in Nyah’s eyes as the child recounted the dream from the train.
There are too many similarities,
Hermione thought, absentmindedly playing with her necklace. I can’t just go in and blurt it out… I have to be certain. The car wreck, the song… But she died – I saw her myself.
Hermione pushed those thoughts out of her head.
“And what am I basing it on? A dream – a few scattered facts,” mumbled Hermione as she slowly walked towards the office, determined to find the missing piece. If I’m wrong, they’ll never forgive me… but if I’m right…
She was writing furiously, as she sat on the office sofa, parchment strewn about her. The dates … they match. Nyah’s physical description … same. Her age, her magic… all the same. And then there was the dream…
Pain swept through Hermione as she remembered the look on Molly and Arthur’s face when they heard the news of the car crash all those years ago…
A good friend of Arthur’s had personally delivered the urgent message to the Weasley family from the hospital in France. The entire family had been given special permission to use an international portkey that would take them straight to the visitor’s entrance of the Paris Hospital, St. Abra’s. As soon as they arrived, they were quietly ushered to Harry and Ginny’s room.
Harry was conscious and relatively unharmed, aside from a few visible cuts and bruises. He absolutely refused to stay in bed as instructed by the healers, and instead, stationed himself as close to Ginny as he could get, holding her hand, watching as she took each breath. As the family gathered around, he remained fixed at her side, refusing to let go. Hermione had been calm – almost numb - but when Harry made eye contact, his face told a story so fiercely heart-shattering, Hermione gasped, clutching both hands to her face as the tears fell.
She remembered rushing to him with Ron directly behind her; both of them enveloping Harry, holding him up as he cried ‘My baby girl! She’s gone!’
His fists were clenched – his body shaking in their embrace – the pain simply unbearable.
Falling back into the chair, Harry looked at his still unconscious wife. Save the muffled sobs from Molly and Fleur, the room stood silent until Harry’s small voice carried through the small room… “How am I going to tell her? It’s all my fault… Something jumped in front of the car and I swerved. I – I lost control. It’s all my fault… and she’s gone.” He held his hands out in front of him, as if holding her little body… but nothing was there.
Amid the family’s tears, a gentle tap on Hermione’s shoulder beckoned her to the hall. She reluctantly pulled herself from Ron and Harry and went with the healer to the hall, where, with the help of a translator, she learned they needed someone to identify the body in order to ready it for transport to London. With a nod, Hermione agreed, and walked away with the French official.
The room they had entered was bathed in grey and black, and the one small flickering light overhead offered no warmth or soothing to this place. Hermione felt her feet get heavier with every step, as though the room itself was drowning in sorrow and pain, which soaked straight through Hermione’s trainers and crept up her legs, taking hold of her heart. Her body begged to collapse and grow still – never to reach its destination.
Come on, Hermione, you can do this … for Harry… for Ginny… for Nina.
The plump woman stopped at a small table covered with a delicate pink cloth near the back of the long room. Hermione nodded and the woman pulled back the cover, her face offering a sad smile. Hot, fierce tears streamed down Hermione’s face, her body riddled with spasms of grief, as she stared down at the beautiful little girl.
The child was still, as though holding her breath in a game of hide-and-seek… not wanting to be found. Hermione reached down, and gently swept a lock of black hair away from the face of her niece, waiting for the game to be over – waiting for the sparkling brown eyes to open with a smile – but that did not come. Hermione’s fingers met cold, nearly colorless skin. “Nina,” whispered Hermione, as the girl’s face went out of focus from the tears that overwhelmed Hermione’s eyes.
The kind woman had taken scissors and cut a lock from the little girl’s hair to tuck into a small bottle. “Pour Maman,” she said, placing the glass in Hermione’s hand. Yes, for Ginny…
Grabbing a tissue, Hermione wiped the hot tears from her face and hands, hoping to wipe the painful memory away as well. The parchment on her lap was spotted and nearly unreadable. She slowly shook her head, trying to clear her thoughts. Gathering the pages in defeat, Hermione stood and began pacing.
So many things ‘fit’ with Nyah’s story, but it still left too many unanswered questions. Hermione knew Nyah could not have been the little girl at the hospital – that was impossible, even in the wizarding world. But the spell Nyah described from her dream that conjured a duplicate of herself – Hermione had never read of such a thing. If that were possible… she shuddered at the implications that were too horrible to think about.
Everything else was parallel… but why? What purpose would be served by taking a little girl from her parents? Unless Hermione found the wizard – or wizards – involved, they may never know.
Realizing the brick wall was again in her face, Hermione ventured through the house. There was still some time before they were to arrive at the Burrow, so Hermione sat about catching up on some much-neglected housework, still mulling over the best way to announce the news to her extended family about Nyah’s possible heritage.
Ron used to attempt to help out with the chores, but Hermione was very insistent that things were done a certain way, and she eventually decided it would be best to do it all herself. Ron didn’t seem to mind. In fact, Hermione was fairly certain there were times he had done a job poorly so she would never ask him to do it again. She had overheard him giving advice to Harry on the very subject, quoting a book that George had given him for their wedding. She chuckled to herself at the image of Ron and George, discussing housework over a butterbeer.
After putting away a few dishes, Hermione grabbed the laundry and headed to the stairwell. With a quick glance to the couch to watch Nyah sleeping, Hermione climbed the stairs with the basket in hand.
Once finished in Rose and Hugo’s room, she walked to the guest room Nyah currently occupied. Taking in the familiar scent of lavender, she set the basket on the bed, and put away a few of Nyah’s clothes. Glancing at the dresser, Hermione smiled as she looked at the pictures Nyah had tucked into the sides of the large mirror. There was a nonmoving picture of Anna and Nyah taken a couple of years back – their smiling faces frozen on the paper.
There were also some recent ones; Rose and Molly cooking at the Burrow – both of them with puffs of flour on their faces which Rose said made them look like ‘real cooks’. There was also one of Hugo with mud from head-to-toe after a particularly nasty rainstorm where Hugo ‘accidently tripped’ in the garden at the burrow resulting in a tremendous amount of mud. Molly barely blinked an eye as she siphoned the mud from her grandson before sending him to take a long bath, “Ah, those boys,” she said to Hermione who had been mortified at the mess.
Shaking her head and laughing at the memory, Hermione started to turn around when something caught her eye … there was another photo poking out from under the Muggle picture. Hermione could feel her heart beat a little faster as she reached up to the mirror, her reflection in complete concentration. With a small tug, the small picture was released from its constraints. Hermione gasped as she heard Nyah ask from the doorway, “Are you okay?”
Hermione looked into the mirror at the young girl, just up from a nap. Glancing once more at the baby in the picture, Hermione took a deep breath and turned around, taking in all of Nyah’s features; her hair was sticking out in various directions, like new plants looking for sunlight. Perfectly-formed freckles kissed her cheeks and nose, as though they had run back and forth across her face. Her eyelashes would be the envy of most women, long and dark, set perfectly against her almond-shaped eyes. But it was the color of that which hid under her lids that Hermione had known for years… they were exactly the same… the same as Nyah’s mother.
“Hermione?” Nyah was walking timidly towards her, mildly worried at the look on Hermione’s face. “Hermione, is everything alright?”
“Everything is perfect,” Hermione responded, as she sat on the bed, biting her bottom lip as she thought. “Nyah, where did you get this picture?” she asked, holding up the moving photo of the baby clapping on the floor amidst her toys.
Sighing deeply, Nyah plopped on the bed, next to Hermione. She drew her feet underneath her, and took the picture from Hermione’s fingers. Nyah had studied the little picture every day, and had committed every aspect to her young memory. She tenderly placed the picture to her chest as she tucked her hair behind her ear.
“It’s from the box… that Mother – I mean, Mrs. Stewart had,” Nyah answered, casting her eyes to the quilt on the bed. “I took it,” she whispered, tears forming in her eyes. She looked to Hermione, begging, “Please don’t be mad, I just wanted them. I think they were mine… from the bag in my dream.”
Hermione leaned down to catch Nyah’s attention and asked, “There’s more?”
Nyah laid over onto her stomach and reached underneath the bed, retrieving her travel sac. She pulled out the red nappy bag and just barely lifted her eyes as she handed it to Hermione. Nyah’s stomach gave a small lurch, as though she was sorry for handing it over. It was all she had – the only link other than her dreams – and she had already let go of those as well. Nyah sat, nervously twisting her hair, waiting for Hermione’s reaction to her treasures.
Hermione set the bag on the bed at Nyah’s knees, trying desperately to contain her excitement. The bag was stiff with time, but the thread-bare spots told a story of many years of use. Hermione turned the sac over and a small gasp escaped her throat as her eyes landed on the small winged ball – a snitch!
At that point, Hermione’s fingers were shaking as she dared a glance to Nyah.
The young girl sat with her chin seated in her hands, elbows on her knees. Nyah reached out and unceremoniously dumped the contents of the sac onto the bed. Piece by piece, she laid them out and began explaining each item to Hermione, who, in turn had covered her mouth with her hand, willing herself to stay quiet, afraid to ruin where the conversation was going.
Hermione watched as Nyah’s small, delicate fingers rested over each of these items. The child’s theories were close, but world’s away from the truth. The picture of the baby was still the first one Hermione examined. She took in not only the child clapping, but also the surroundings – the fireplace, the bookshelf, the chairs, and the toys. Smiling, Hermione looked up as Nyah began talking again.
“The picture really scared me the first time I looked at it,” Nyah said, giggling. “I had never seen a moving picture!”
Hermione laughed, understanding the girl’s surprise as she remembered her first experience with a wizard photo.
Nyah visibly relaxed, losing herself in talking about her once-secret treasures with Hermione. “I wasn’t sure it was really me in the picture until I saw – this
,” she said, pulling out her little snowy owl from it’s hiding spot beneath her pillow. Hermione's eyes overflowed with tears as she gently took the stuffed animal from Nyah’s hand.
“Where did you get this?” Hermione whispered, choking on her tears as she turned the little owl over in her hands, examining it from every angle.
Nyah shrugged, not looking yet at Hermione, “I’ve had it ever since I can remember. Actually,” she continued, thinking hard, “it’s the only thing I do remember about my first night at the manor.” Nyah looked about the room, as if the air would whisper the answers she sought. “I remember crying… for…” she pulled her fist together, “oh, what is her name?”
A soft voice floated through the air, landing on Nyah’s ears … “Hedwig.”
Snapping her fingers, as the light flickered, “Yes, Hedwig. Wait – how did you know that?” she asked, finally looking at Hermione.
“Because that’s her name – her name is Hedwig,” Hermione answered as tears once again ran down her face.
Nyah turned her head to the left a bit as though the clouds were lifted a bit. “My Dad … my dad – he gave me this,” she said, softly taking Hedwig from Hermione, “it was his… I think.”
“Yes, it was,” whispered Hermione.
“How do you know?” Nyah asked, quite confused.
“Because I gave it to him…” Hermione said, standing from the bed to grab a tissue.
Reaching the night stand, Hermione recalled vividly the day she saw the little owl. It was right before Harry and Ginny got engaged in her seventh year. Hermione had chosen to return to finish out her education, unwilling to simply accept an offer of work from the Ministry without her N.E.W.T.s in hand. She and Ginny had taken an opportunity during Christmas break to do a bit of shopping in Muggle London. Ginny had taken a keen interest in visiting dress shops, looking for the perfect outfit to wear for Christmas with Harry.
Hermione, however, had been searching for a special gift for Ron. He had recently began his Auror training with Harry, and while she worried, Hermione knew that the men would take care of one another.
Hermione chuckled as she passed a fudge shoppe, as Ron had recently owled her about finding some wonderful fudge near their current training site. Grabbing Ginny’s arm, the ladies walked into the warm shoppe. Hermione purchased a half-pound of Rocky-Road fudge and had it boxed up. As they were ready to leave, Hermione spotted a small, stuffed, white owl sitting on a shelf in the shoppe. It looked quite out of place, perched alone.
The shop owner, noticing Hermione’s interest, said that a child had left it in his store years before and never returned to claim it. The kind, elderly man handed the stuffed owl to Hermione with a wink and said, “Consider it an early Christmas present. She has looked over me for years… now, she will look after you.” It was the best gift Hermione could imagine giving to Harry that Christmas.
When Harry and Ginny’s first child was born, her first gift was a small snowy owl from Daddy, to watch over her. That poor owl had been dragged everywhere, from bed to playtime to bath time; she refused to go anywhere without it – that, and the blankie her Grandma Molly had knitted for her… just like the one Nyah was clutching now.
Author's Notes: I hope you all enjoyed getting a really strong look at not only Nyah's dream, but a little more about the 'treasures' from Nyah's past.
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Thanks to everyone at eHPf, and all of my WONDERFUL reveiwers... hugs to you all!