A/N - So, here is the next chapter! I do hope I hear from more of you this time around, as the last chapter only got 5 reviews. I need to hear from you folks what you think!
As for this chapter, it has been written a little differently than I originally planned, but I think it works well. It dives more into the wizarding world and what's going on there, as well as explains some more of the past. The ending was going to be different, but you be the judge. :)
- CHAPTER FIVE-
‘What was that all about?’ Ginny asked, looking at Fred and Hermione.
Hermione couldn’t believe it; V had just hijacked the television, and broadcasted to the entire nation! How could this be the same man that saved her in that alley only the week before?
‘Could it be the message we were waiting for?’ Fred wondered.
‘What message?’ Hermione asked swiftly, looking at both the Weasley’s. Ginny had gotten up, and was pacing around quickly. She had already turned off the television, which had returned to the anchor discussing how a terrorist, named V, had taken over the broadcast by unknown means.
‘No, it can’t be, the Resistance wouldn’t do something this . . . big’ Ginny commented, Hermione getting frustrated with the lack of answers from Ginny or Fred.
‘What- what are you talking about? What resistance?!’ Hermione said aggressively.
‘The Resistance was a wizard underground that worked against You-Know-Who’s government. It was really active in the first few months, but the last year or so, it’s just been silent. We’ve kept in touch with a couple of resistance members, but it’s essentially dead’ Fred explained dejectly, Ginny coming back and sitting down next to Hermione.
‘In the last meeting of the Resistance, before the Burrow was destroyed, everyone agreed to keep away until a message was sent to everyone’ Ginny added, looking again at the television.
‘But it can’t be that, V didn’t even mention this resistance’ Hermione offered.
‘It could be someone from the Resistance though, why else would they hide their identity like that? And this guy did talk about rising up against the government, which the Resistance was founded on’ Fred pointed out.
‘Why didn’t I hear about this before?’ Hermione asked.
‘You left as quickly as possible, which was the best thing for you. The Order, even as it was crumbling all around us, knew you could not stay in the north, and definitely not in the Wizarding world. Tonks ordered Seamus to take you away from the fires as fast as possible, while the Order tried to get as many other people away from the Death Eaters’ Ginny recounted.
‘So what did this Resistance do? Why isn’t it around anymore?’ Hermione questioned quickly, looking at Fred.
‘Well, people were getting rounded up and killed. Our meetings began to be attacked, and by the end it happened almost every time. The huge battle at the Ministry was devastating to the Resistance. You already know that the Order was basically destroyed trying to protect Hogwarts. The battle at the Ministry finished it off. Dad and Charlie died there, but Mum, George, and I got out, and formed the Resistance with whoever was left’ Fred described.
‘What happened to everyone else? There has to be some people left’ Hermione asked quietly, sad to hear that she was not around while her friends and—really—her family died without her there. She remembered hearing about the battle in the Ministry, but only months after it actually happened. She didn’t hear from Ginny until about year after Hogwarts had fallen, and even then she only heard where she lived, and that she was alive.
‘Well, like I said, there are a couple’ Fred reminded, ‘but most died or went into hiding. They killed Hagrid at Hogwarts, along with most of the staff who tried to protect the students as they fled into the countryside. Seamus got you out, and we’re not sure what happened to him and a bunch of other students and staff. Alastor died at Weather Hill, and that last attack at the Burrow basically crushed whatever was left of Resistance. They killed Mum, captured George, and last thing I saw, Kingsley was still fighting, as well as Tonks.’
‘So who are the people you know?’ Hermione asked.
‘Tonks is still alive. She lives not too far away, and occasionally stops in. She has had a really tough time with Remus’ death, but she still keeps going. She lost most of her Metamorphmagus skills, and she doesn’t use magic any more either. She works at a flower shop over in Norwich’ Ginny informed Hermione.
Hermione was so happy that Tonks had survived. She was always such an amazing person, both as a wizard and as a friend. She could still remember that one dinner they had where she kept changing her nose to make Ginny laugh.
‘The only other person we know survived was Aberforth Dumbledore. Last we heard of him, he was still running a pub—a Muggle pub—somewhere in London. We really haven’t heard much past that though. I think Tonks keeps in touch with him, right?’ Ginny asked Fred.
‘Yeah, I think so’ Fred answered. The room was silent for a moment as each person thought different things.
‘This broadcast though . . .’ Fred professed, shaking his finger at the blank television screen. ‘There’s something big going on. This V is a wizard, and if he has enough skill to take over the television like that, perhaps it’s the start of something.’
‘I think it’s just himself’ Hermione attested, Ginny looking at her with a queer glance.
‘Why would you say that?’
‘Well’ Hermione started, trying to decide how best to put this to her old friends. ‘The Markers are after me, because I know V.’
Ginny and Fred were quiet as they let the knowledge sink in. Hermione was getting anxious as the silence continued.
‘Well, I don’t know him exactly, but he saved me from some Markers after curfew, and he was the one who told me to leave London. He said that the Markers and police were getting closer, and would be coming for me. I had to leave to protect Neville.’
Still more silence filled the small cottage. Hermione was starting to wonder if telling Fred and Ginny was a good idea or not.
‘He saved you from Markers?’ Fred finally asked, taking a seat across from both Hermione and Ginny.
‘Yes, the night I was going to see Neville. It was after curfew-‘
‘What the hell were you doing out after curfew?’ Ginny raged, sounding like her late mother.
‘Ginny’ Fred begged to his sister, looking back at Hermione. ‘Continue.’
‘Well, two Markers took me, and he came and saved me from them.’
‘What, did he kill them?’ Fred asked.
‘I’m not sure, maybe. But he said he was not a Marker, not exactly, and that I knew him somehow from my past.’ At this, Ginny went into the kitchen for a moment, still in the conversation.
‘I still can’t believe you went out after curfew, how could you be that reckless?’ Ginny argued from across the room.
‘Look, I know it was stupid, but I wanted to see Neville! You would have done the same thing’ Hermione replied forcefully. She looked up at Ginny in the kitchen, and apologized for being so harsh with her response. She had to remember that Ginny only found out Neville was alive a few hours ago.
‘Well, with saving you, blowing up the Old Ministry, and now this broadcast . . . it’s obvious he’s on our side’ Fred equated, Hermione giving a bit of an odd look.
‘I’m not sure . . . I mean, he’s obviously helping me, but I don’t know if he’s necessarily on “our side”. He might be on his own side.’
‘Even still, we should talk to Tonks about all this. And it might be an idea to have Neville come up here too’ Fred suggested, Ginny sitting back down with a tea pot and some cups.
‘I still can’t believe he’s alive’ Ginny whispered.
‘We can call him tomorrow and have him come up. How did you get up here? I mean, tell me you didn’t walk across all those farms from London’ Fred asked with a smile.
‘No, there was only one way I could make it out of London. The police were looking for me, as well as Markers, so . . .’
‘Oh Hermione, please don’t tell me you-?’ Ginny asked, giving a pleading look. Hermione nodded, and Ginny became frustrated again.
‘How could you do that?! Ginny raged, putting her tea cup down forcefully.
‘Would you drop it Ginny? If Hermione used magic, then she did because there was no other choice. Would you rather she not have come?’ Fred asked, Ginny still in an uproar.
‘Of course not Fred, but what happens if they detected the Apparation? If you Apparated from Neville’s, then they may have traced it.’
Hermione’s blood suddenly froze in her veins. Ginny was right, they could have detected her Apparation. How could she be so blind not to notice something so important?
‘Oh God, what if they did? What if they went to Neville’s, and-‘ Hermione began, Fred motioning her to calm down.
‘Just relax, alright? We’ll give Neville’s place a ring from that infernal Muggle telephoany-‘
‘Telephone’ Hermione corrected.
‘Right, and we’ll see he’s perfectly fine. Then we can ask him to come up here, alright?’ Fred suggested. Hermione agreed, while Ginny remained quiet, and they went to the phone, which was next to the fridge.
Calling Neville’s home, Hermione took the phone and heard it ringing. The line picked up, and she heard someone breathe.
‘Hello?’ Neville asked, Hermione sighing instantly, and her blood coming back to its regular nice temperature.
‘Oh Neville, thank God you’re still there. I was so worried-‘
‘Don’t worry, I’m still here with Crookshanks. He’s having a fun time looking at my fish’ Neville explained. Hermione could hear a cat meow in the background.
‘That’s great Neville, really. I got to Ginny’s alright, and Fred’s here too!’
‘Great Hermione, just great. How long do you expect to be?’ Neville asked.
‘I’m not sure, but I was going to ask, do you want to come up here? After that broadcast V made, it may be an idea to leave London for a while.’
‘I’d love to come up there! Where are you?’ Hermione smiled at Fred and Ginny, giving them a thumbs up to let them know Neville was happy about coming up. Ginny gave a huge sigh, and Hermione could see her eyes watering in happiness.
‘I already told you, didn’t I?’ Hermione asked, smiling at Ginny’s reaction. She reverted away from the Mrs. Weasley pose she had earlier, and was now back to her normal happy and spunky self.
‘No, I don’t think you did. But just tell me, and I’ll be there in no time!’ Neville answered happily.
Hermione opened her mouth to answer, but stopped, staring at the wall across the kitchen. She was remembering the morning, and she remembered that she did tell Neville she was going to King’s Lynn. Perhaps Neville had forgotten, but in these times, she had to make sure.
‘I thought I told you over breakfast . . . don’t you remember those amazing crepes I made for you?’ she asked hesitantly.
‘Yes, I do, but I didn’t hear where you were going. Maybe I was caught up in those delicious crepes’ Neville answered with a chuckle, Hermione’s muscles tensing up. She hesitated again, Fred giving her a strange look, and she thought for a second.
‘Oh, um, sorry about that Neville. I’m in Middlesbrough, near Darlington. Just look for the residence for Mr. Archibald Weirman’ she explained, trying to sound convincing as Fred and Ginny looked on questioningly.
‘Thanks Hermione, I’ll be there as soon as I can. I’ll bring Crookshanks. I can’t wait to see Ginny again.’ Neville responded.
‘That’s great Neville. See you soon!’ she exclaimed, taking the phone and hanging up.
The moment she let go of the phone, she broke into a torrent of tears. She placed her back against the fridge, and slid down to the floor, holding her eyes as more tears came. She felt a hand on her shoulder, and found Fred kneeling down.
‘What’s wrong, what happened?’ he asked. Hermione merely glance up at Ginny, and her red-haired friend burst into tears as well.
Hermione looked back down and broke down even harder as she heard her friend cry and whimper. Fred got up and gave his sister a hug, but she shrugged away.
‘Why? Why did you have to do this!?’ she shouted through the tears at Hermione on the floor. ‘Why did you have to Apparate? I told you-!’ she continued, trailing off as more tears came. Hermione tried to open her mouth to explain, but found only more tears, as the look on Ginny’s face burned into her mind, and the guilt became overwhelming.
‘Com’on Ginny, let’s go sit down’ Fred tried to suggest, Ginny tearing her arm away from her brother.
‘Let go of me!’ she yelled, turning and running upstairs while more tears fell. Hermione glanced to see the red hair flying up the stairs, and she broke down even worse.
Neville had been captured by the Markers. They knew that Hermione had been there, which means they had tortured him. He was going to die, if he hadn’t already, and it was all Hermione’s fault.
She could not believe that she did something so stupid. Ginny was right, she should have realized that they could trace her Apparation. She was so concerned with keeping herself safe from the Markers, she did not give enough safety to Neville.
It hit her mind like a freight train: she caused Neville’s death.
She looked up to see if Fred was still there, but he was not. He must have gone to help Ginny, and Hermione decided she did not deserve any help with her grief. It was all her fault, and she deserved much worse than being left alone with all this on her mind.
Her tears continued to flow, and her head began to ache. Neville was such an amazing friend, and never deserved for such a thing to happen. Just the thought of what the Markers could be doing to him made her grab her legs, and pull as tightly as she could.
She wasn’t sure how long she was there on the floor crying, but after more tears and her head continued to pound, a hand touched her shoulder. She jerked backwards, thoughts of the Markers torturing Neville running through her mind, and she looked up through her tearful eyes.
‘Oh G-G-Ginny’ Hermione quaked, looking up to see her puffy-eyed friend. Hermione wanted to apologize over and over again for putting Ginny through such pain.
Ginny knelt down, Hermione wondering if she was going to hug her, or yell at her more. She could just imagine how upset Ginny was.
Hermione looked at her, and continued to cry as Ginny moved down, and gave Hermione a warm hug.
She quickly reached up and hugged Ginny with a hard grip. She was so sorry for everything, she kept apologizing over and over again to Ginny. Ginny continued to hug, and was crying as well.
‘I’m so sorry Ginny, I- I can’t- I can’t tell you how- how- how sorry I am’ Hermione hiccuped, burying her face into Ginny’s shoulder.
They held on to each other on the floor in front of the fridge for a while, before Ginny pulled back and offered her hand to help her up. Hermione gave her a shaky hand, and she helped her up on to her feet. Hermione felt light headed when she stood, but Ginny helped her stand.
‘I’m sorry Hermione’ Ginny voiced, giving her another hug, repeating how sorry she was for yelling at her. The two friends hugged each other for a while, until they finally decided to go and sit in the sitting room. Fred was there as well, and gave Hermione a hug, helping with some of the grief.
The rest of the night moved as a haze over Hermione, the realization that Neville—and Crookshanks—were gone. She remembered going through a tradition that Fred and Ginny made for friends that had died. They went through all the happy times they had together with Neville and Crookshanks, and had loads of laughs and tears.
The next morning, Hermione woke to bright sunshine coming through the curtained window. She gave a stretch, got herself up and ready, and went downstairs to find Ginny in the kitchen with Fred.
‘O.K., so do we use the whole bottle of oil for the eggs?’ Fred asked, dumping an excessive amount of oil in the pan, causing to splash in the pan and jump up from the heat.
‘Oww!’ Fred said, shaking his arm where some oil had splashed on him.
‘No you git, only a little bit!’ Ginny quipped, giving her brother a bothered look. ‘Oh, morning Hermione.’
‘Morning Ginny’ Hermione responded quietly.
‘How are you feeling?’ Fred asked, running his arm under the tap.
‘I’m better. I’m wishing Harry was still here. By now he’d already be planning out a rescue plan for Neville’ she tried to joke. She looked for a second, and realized it was probably one of the worst jokes ever told in the history of the planet.
Ginny’s face fell for a moment, but she tried to hide it. ‘Yeah, he would be one for doing that’ she spoke arbitrarily, getting back to her cooking. Hermione looked down at her feet, and continued into the kitchen, Fred trying to make her feel less out of place.
‘Well, after these eggs, you might just have the desire to run away as fast as possible. Come sit down, it’s almost ready’ Fred instructed, with a bit of a chuckle as he tried to turn over the eggs and failed miserably.
The three of them sat down at the table, and had breakfast quietly. Neville was still on everyone's mind, but with all the deaths they had endured collectively, they understood how to overcome their emotions. As much as it pained Hermione to not cry her eyes out, she had to keep herself together, and focus on keeping herself safe and alive.
To try and help them out, they planned to go and see Tonks, something Hermione was looking forward to. Even with this, Neville’s death still weighed heavily on her, and it was quite obvious to others.
‘You know Hermione, we don’t have to go. Perhaps it may be better to stay in today. We can always go and see Tonks tomorrow you know’ Fred suggested, trying to smile with a piece of egg hanging from his mouth.
‘Fred’ Ginny motioned, pointing to his mouth.
‘No, I want to see Tonks. If Neville’s death has told me anything, it’s not to waste any more time in seeing friends’ she professed, Ginny and Fred understanding perfectly.
'I just wish I could have seen him just once more' Ginny uttered, wiping a tear from her eye.
'He was wishing for the same thing Ginny' Hermione told her, giving her shoulder a rub. They sat and remembered more of Neville, before deciding it was time to go to see Tonks.
Hermione went ahead and got ready. Going through her clothes, she sat down on the bed, and picked up the picture of her, Ron, and Harry from their days at Hogwarts.
She could not believe how happy she used to be. The world seemed as bright as a diamond in comparison now full of colour and excitement. She remembered how hard she used to study, to make sure not to get in trouble, and to always be on time for class to avoid a detention.
She wished she could go back in time and tell her younger self how pointless all that work was. It was just in her nature though, to study to the point of insanity and know all the facts, even if she never planned to use it in real life.
History of Magic, she remembered spending six hours on a paper that she ended up getting perfect on. Six hours. Perspective on time now was much more different than it was back then. Back then, she probably considered the time well spent on getting grades. Today, she could only dream of six hours, with Neville, with Harry, or with Ron. Six more hours would be an eternity now.
‘Um, Hermione, are you almost ready?’ Ginny called from the other side of the door. Hermione took one more glance at the picture, placed it on her bag. She got changed quickly, and was out of the house with Ginny and Fred on their way to see Tonks.
‘Is she doing alright?’ Hermione asked tentatively. Ginny and Fred had seen Tonks since Remus died, so they would have a better idea than her.
‘She should be fine, definitely happy to see you here. Just try not to go back into the past too much. She has been talking about it all more recently, but it’s still tough. She lost basically all her friends, and Remus’ Ginny explained as they walked down the road towards the town.
As they past a street corner, and turned onto a road that wound around a hill, Hermione took notice of the biohazard and warning signs.
‘Should we be walking here? This area isn’t quarantined.’
‘Tonks took the signs from farther down the road and put them here, to not have Muggles creeping around her house. It’s safe around here, don’t worry’ Fred mentioned.
Since Voldemort’s overthrow of the Muggle government, quarantine areas had been erected for various reasons. Originally Hermione thought they were meant to contain the movement of wizards and capture them, but then diseases started to spring up in the Muggle population. Hermione figured that Voldemort started getting impatient with trying to find wizards and other influential people, so he created lethal Muggle diseases to infect the population. More than likely they were wizards’ diseases, like Dragon Pox, to which the Muggle population is not accustom to.
Since she was a Muggle, and she had no real use of magic anymore, she—as well as Ginny and Fred—had to be careful not to stray into areas outside quarantine.
Coming around the long, winding bend, Hermione could see a small house nestled against the side of the hill, surrounded by thick forest. They came up to the front door, and Ginny gave a knock. It was a nice little stone cottage, secluded from the town and the traffic of the highway.
The door creaked open slightly, and Ginny spoke quietly to the person on the other side. There was a few moments as at least half a dozen locks were unlocked from the inside, and the door opened.
A pale woman turned the corner, and Hermione instantly knew it was Tonks. Her hair was black as the night, and she looked like she hadn’t slept in years, but it was her. Her heart-shape face stayed, and her dark and twinkling eyes looked at Hermione with a hint of joy. A smile came to her face, and she wiped a tear.
‘Oh Hermione, thank Merlin!’ she uttered, coming across the doorway and giving Hermione a nice tight hug. Hermione wrapped her arms around her once-pink haired friend, and gave a smile.
‘It’s so nice to see you Tonks, how are you?’ Hermione asked, as the group walked into her home.
Hermione thought she had entered the home of a very old witch. Knick-knacks cluttered the mantle, and the walls were almost completely covered with paintings—Muggle paintings from what Hermione could tell. A fire crackled in the hearth, which had a cauldron sitting above it, and there were four armchairs staggered about the sitting room.
‘I apologize for the cauldron, I was in the middle of making a stew’ Tonks informed, walking over and taking a ladle of the concoction.
‘That’s not a problem, sorry we didn’t give any warning of our coming’ Ginny said, taking a seat. Hermione was still glancing around the place, getting used to the surroundings. All the windows were covered with thick curtains, so it was impossible to tell if it was daytime or nighttime.
‘Oh, it’s not a problem at all!’ Tonks answered, putting the ladle down. ‘Needs more oregano’ she commented, smacking her lips for a moment and glancing at Hermione. ‘Hermione, come, sit, sit!’
‘Oh, sorry, I was just looking around’ she exclaimed, taking a seat in one of the armchairs.
‘No need to be sorry, this was my grandmother’s cottage, so there’s a lot of stuff in it. Even I haven’t found everything. For the life of me, I can’t even find the salt shaker!’ Tonks said with a smile, walking into the kitchen.
‘Would anyone like some tea?’ Tonks shouted from the kitchen, which was just off from the sitting room.
‘This place does take some getting used to, just letting you know. If you go into the study, make sure not to move any of the books’ Fred advised.
‘Why?’ Hermione asked, Fred leaning in.
‘Open one up, and I swear the room is engulfed in dust. Can’t even find your way out once that happens’ he informed.
‘What?’ Tonks yelled from the kitchen.
‘Yes, tea would be great Tonks’ Ginny answered, giving Fred a narrowed brow.
‘What, it’s important information for Hermione to know. I wish Tonks would have told me before I went in there!’
‘Why were you ever in a study?’ Hermione asked, Ginny giving a laugh while Fred tried to look indignant to Hermione's comment.
‘I went in there just to look, to have you know’ Fred answered, Ginny still having a pleasant sounding chuckle.
‘Have you know what?’ Tonks asked as she came into the room with a tea set. Two of the cups had chips , and the tray was tarnished and worn.
‘Sorry I don’t have any other cups, it’s rare I get more than two visitors’ she informed, pouring tea into the cups and taking a seat.
‘No troubles Tonks, how have you been the last while?’ Hermione asked.
‘I work at a flower boutique over in Norwich. It’s a nice little shop, and the Muggle owner is nice and allows me days off when I’m not doing the greatest. I’ve had a terrible bout with pneumonia the last few years, and it tends to come and go. But otherwise, things are OK.’
Hermione was upset to hear Tonks was getting sick so often, but loosing so many loved ones could do that to someone. For the first few months after arriving in London, Hermione was always sick with a fever and cold.
‘Did you see the message on the television?’ Ginny asked, Hermione wondering if Tonks even had a television.
‘No, I didn’t watch it, but I heard people discussing it on the wireless. They replayed the message, and it sounds very strange’ Tonks admitted, taking a sip of tea.
‘This V fellow is a wizard’ Fred declared.
‘Well of course, that was obvious’ Tonks replied.
‘So what do you think we should do?’ Ginny asked, Tonks looking at her with wide eyes, and laughing.
‘”We?” What do you mean “we?” This was some crazy person spouting gibberish on the Muggle wireless. We just keep doing what we’re doing; laying low’ she assured, Ginny giving an incredulous look at Hermione and Fred for help.
‘But Tonks, surely you heard what V was asking for everyone to do’ Hermione questioned.
‘Yes, I told you I heard the message, but this “V”, or whatever his name is just spoke words. We come out of hiding, in our state, and the Markers would be on us before you could even start remembering spells. This was probably another ploy by Voldemort to try and bring wizards and witches out into the open. They did the same thing earlier in the war, and many good wizards and witches died believing this non-sense.’
‘No, you don’t understand, this is different’ Hermione insisted, Tonks shaking her head.
‘It’s no different Hermione, trust me. As much as you’d like to believe that one single wizard blew up the entire Old Ministry, you are mistaken’ Tonks spoke reverently, like a woman of twice her age.
‘Tonks, you don’t understand, Hermione has met V; she was there when he blew up the Ministry’ Ginny disclosed straightforwardly, Tonks glancing at Ginny and then Hermione.
‘It’s true, that’s why she came up here. Markers are after her, and she had to hide from them. She met up with Neville Longbottom in London, but they already captured him’ Fred continued.
‘V saved my life twice, and he did blow up the Old Ministry. That broadcast was probably very true; he is planning things’ Hermione elaborated. Tonks continued to look at the three of them without a word, then finally put her tea cup down and looked at Hermione.
‘This . . . no, it can’t be. If we even try to help, or try to start the Resistance again . . .’ she trailed off in thought. She stood up and began to pace around the carpet in front of the hearth, where the cauldron was still sitting.
‘Tonks, if there is any time that the Resistance should be started again, it’s now’ Ginny claimed.
‘On what grounds do you say that, you haven’t even met this V fellow? Honestly, how can you say he is not working for Voldemort himself, against us? How can you tell he’s not just trying to get us out into the open, just for Markers to swoop down and kill us?’ Tonks asked aggressively.
‘He blew up the Old Ministry, and probably killed two Markers just saving my life’ Hermione answered, Tonks still not opening up to the idea.
‘”Probably” killed, you don’t know. What if everything up until now has just been to weed us out? They probably knew you would run away, meet up with other wizards and witches. What if they’re tracking you somehow? Hermione, you don’t know enough about this V to trust him enough.’ Hermione had to agree with some of Tonks’ logic, but was still not willing to believe V was working for the Markers.
‘No, we will not even attempt to try and help. We will continue to lay low, and stay safe. Even if one of us were to stick our heads out just a bit, Markers would be all over us in an instant’ Tonks finished, still standing and looking at the three of them.
‘But Tonks-‘ Ginny started.
‘No! We are not discussing it anymore!’ Tonks spoke loudly.
‘But-‘ Fred tried.
‘No!’ Tonks yelled, the cauldron over the hearth falling over and dousing the flames. Hermione could not tell if that had been from accidental magic, or her foot simply hit the cauldron.
Suffice it to say, their visit with Tonks after that was awkward. They remained for a few more minutes, helping her clean up the mess of stew and firewood, and then they began their walk back to King’s Lynn.
‘Don’t worry Hermione, Tonks has just been overly protective since the war. Mum asked her to watch over us, so she’s been really strict about everything’ Ginny explained quietly as they walked.
‘I know, but still, I wish we could have had a better get together. First time I see her in two years, and I get her yelling’ Hermione muttered, kicking a stone that was lying next to the road.
‘Every visit with Tonks is like that Hermione; she’s just never in a good mood. You mention anything about the Resistance, Remus, Hogwarts, the Ministry . . . well, anything magical actually, and she gets upset’ Fred notified her.
‘Yeah. Stick to cooking or flowers, and that’s really the only way to keep her happy. It’s quite sad actually’ Ginny expressed unhappily.
The three of them came up to the street corner where they were supposed to turn, and started towards the cottage. A police car passed by the road they were just on, but luckily kept going on its way.
‘So what are going to do? I mean, are we just going to lay low and do nothing?’ Hermione asked, looking at the two of them.
‘No, we have to do something of course. We need Tonks’ help though, ‘cause she has the connections’ said Fred, as they came up to the house.
‘Perhaps we can go see her again later in the week, once we’ve thought over how to better propose what we want to do’ Hermione advised, the other two agreeing.
They entered the cottage, and took seats in the sitting room. Hermione and Fred took to watching some of the Muggle television news to see if anything more about V was being mentioned, while Ginny was cleaning up some of the kitchen. After only a short time since their return, a suddenly pop echoed from upstairs. The sound was recognized by each of them instantly: someone had just Apparated above them.
Everyone waited in silence for a moment, and the instant the first footstep was heard, everyone got up and began to scramble to the door. Ginny was just about to turn the handle, when a dark-robed figure from the stairwell blasted a spell at the door, locking it indefinitely.
Ginny fell backwards in horror, as the figure slowly descended the stairwell, one small step at a time. Hermione ran back for her wand, and aimed it, hesitating for a moment as the tall figure came to the bottom of the stairs.
‘Terror can be endured so long as a man simply ducks;--but it kills, if a man thinks about it’* a deep voice sounded from the figure, the other three recognizing it.
‘V, you scared us to death!’ Hermione ranted.
‘My apologizes’ V replied, lifting his head to reveal his ivory-coloured Guy Fawkes mask.
‘It’s- . . .’ Ginny spluttered, Fred helping her off the floor.
‘Yes, and I am quite surprised I aimed so well within your cottage. Rose Abbey is not an easy place to find, as you have intended. But it can be found, which is why I have come.’
‘What, someone has found us?’ Hermione asked forwardly.
‘I am unsure, but the threat is present. You must leave this place, and find safe haven somewhere else’ V ordered.
‘Now just hold on a second, who are you?’ Fred asked, trying to sound as large as possible. V had a good six inches height advantage, not to mention the wand, but Fred was trying.
‘I am the lion protecting its pride’ he started, taking a heavy step towards Fred. ‘I am the raven flying high above; I am the badger ever-watchful; I am as constant as the northern star. In short,’ he stated, looking down at Fred, ‘I am a man, seeking to put the world back together again.’**
‘Why are you here though?’ Ginny asked, finally finding her voice.
‘To warn you, and Hermione, of the danger that may arrive soon.’
‘Why do you care about us? Aren’t you supposed to be trying to destroy the government and such?’ Fred asked, giving V a look over.
‘That is my intention, but it cannot be done by me alone. This must be taken on by all wizards and witches looking to right the world. That was the purpose of the broadcast.’
‘You’re insane! No one in their right mind would help you, we don’t even know if you’re actually a Marker or not!’ Ginny argued.
‘Our doubts are traitors, and make us lose the good we oft might win, by fearing to attempt’*** V spoke eloquently.
‘That doesn’t tell us anything! Are you a Marker or not?’ Fred questioned.
‘If I was, you would all be dead already. No, I am but a friend, who requires your help.’
‘Our help?’ Hermione asked, V turning back to her. Ginny and Fred were still very puzzled by it, and did not like the idea of V actually standing in their sitting room.
‘Yes, the Resistance must be reborn. Like the phoenix, it must rise out of the ashes of what it once was, and begin the change that is needed for the times ahead.’
‘How do you know about the Resistance?’ Ginny asked from behind V.
‘How are we going to do that? Tonks thinks you’re nothing but a Marker out to bring us out into the open to kill us’ Hermione stated.
‘You must use your mind Hermione. For too long you have gone without your intellect guiding you. Let it point you in the right direction, and you will succeed’ V told Hermione closely, not hearing Ginny’s question.
‘But where should I start?’ Hermione asked. V turned away, and moved into the center of the room.
‘Ask Stewart if he likes cats, and remember he knows more than a Muggle should’ V spoke, giving a turn and an almighty crack filling the room. It startled Ginny and Fred, and the two of them slowly came into the sitting room afterwards and spoke with Hermione.
‘What was that all about?-‘Is he for real?’ Ginny and Fred asked at the same time.
‘I’m not sure, but I think he’s right about being foun-‘ Hermione started, before all three turned towards the door.
There was a knock.
Ginny gingerly walked to the front door, the other two pacing behind. If it was trouble, they would have little recourse but to Side-Apparate away with Hermione. Given her ability to Apparate by herself the day before, Side-Apparation could go horribly wrong.
Ginny opened up the door slowly, and asked who it was.
‘My name is Captain Shoemaker of the London Police; I’m here for Miss Granger.’
A/N - Oh, I know, an evil place to end, but what are your thoughts? Like I said at the beginning, this chapter primarily gives more background information, and introduces our secluded and run-down Tonks. More action will arrive in the next chapter, as you'll follow V in a section that should prove . . . deadly. Also, you'll hear more of the delightful side of the Markers and dear Malfoy may make another appearance. :)
Please comment people!
*Quote from Erich Maria Remarque, "All Quiet on the Western Front"
**Quote from Julius Caesar, Act III, Scene I
***Quote from Measure for Measure, Act I, Scene IV