Chapter 11 : A Date In Fairy Park
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“No!” she screamed, running to her cat. The poor animal’s body was still warm—he had been killed only moments before by the Avada Kedavra curse. Tears ran down her face as she held her beloved animal in her arms and rocked him back and forth. Long minutes passed while she sobbed desolately, but her misery was very slowly being replaced by burning, fiery anger.
“Revelio Autore!” she whispered, aiming her wand at the parchment.
Instead of revealing the writer of the note, however, the piece of parchment burst into flames.
“Damn it!” she cried, stomping out the flames. The note was now nothing but ashes on her carpet. “It has to be Malfoy—it has to! Think, Hermione, think,” she growled to herself as she scooped up Crookshanks in her arms. “Proof—I need proof. The note… Reparo!”
Unbelievably, the charred pieces of the note came together and became one again. With a sinking heart, she realized that the handwriting on it was nowhere close to the handwriting on the letter in the package with her wand. The person who had killed her cat had an unfamiliar, messy scrawl.
“But maybe the one with my wand wasn’t from him,” she murmured to herself, but try as she might, she could come up with no other person who would have written what Malfoy had written in the warning note.
Deciding that she would figure this out later, she carefully carried Crookshanks outside, into the starry night. There was no place to bury her pet, as she lived in an apartment complex in the busy city of London. Holding her wand and her cat tightly, she disapparated.
Harry Potter and Ginny Weasley were very shocked and surprised to hear a pounding on their door in the middle of the night while they were making love.
“Do I have to get it?” Harry moaned longingly, looking at his beautifully naked, pregnant wife.
“Yes, Harry,” giggled Ginny, sitting up and pulling on a long, pink bathrobe.
When Harry opened the door unwillingly, he saw Hermione standing there, clutching a dead cat in her arms. Tears streaked the young woman’s face and she was trembling.
“Merlin, what happened?” he asked incredulously. “Come in!”
Twenty minutes later, Harry and Ginny sat side by side on a couch in the living room while Hermione sat across from them in a comfortable armchair. A fire crackled brightly in the fireplace.
“Thank you for letting me bury him here,” Hermione said softly, taking a sip from the mug of hot chocolate that Ginny had given her.
“What happened, Hermione?” Harry pressed, wrapping his arm around his yawning wife.
Hermione hesitated, not sure if she should tell him everything about what had happened to her—she didn’t want to say or do anything that could possibly jeopardize her chances of getting her badge back. If she told him about Malfoy, there was no way he would believe the rest of her story, especially because she had been completely healed of any visible mark from The Scalper.
“I came home from Diagon Alley a little while ago and when—”
“What were you doing there so late at night?” Harry interjected, looking puzzled.
“I had a book reserved in Diagon Alley and it just came in—I didn’t want to wait until tomorrow,” lied Hermione, taking a hasty sip of her hot chocolate to disguise her grimace; she hated lying to her friend. “When I got home, I saw someone in my house, but they disapparated. I found…” She faltered, her eyes filling with tears. She took a deep breath and managed to continue. “I found this note there, too.”
She handed it to Harry.
“I already tried to the ‘Revelio Autore’ spell, but there’s some jinx on the parchment to prevent it from working,” explained Hermione.
“And I suppose you think Draco Malfoy did this?” Harry asked, sighing as he examined the note.
“No,” Hermione muttered, surprising Harry. “I’m actually pretty sure he didn’t. Can you find out for me, though?”
“Of course,” Harry said warmly, relieved that this wasn’t about Malfoy again.
“How did he apparate into my house?” Hermione asked, remembering to ask the question that most disturbed her. “It should be protected by the same spells that protect all Aurors!”
Harry’s face turned slightly red. “Those spells would have been canceled once your leave of absence started—you should have gotten a letter telling you that…”
“I didn’t read it through very clearly,” Hermione muttered, cursing her own stupidity.
“Hermione, have you talked to anyone yet?” Harry asked gently. Ginny had fallen asleep against his side.
“I’m talking to you right now,” she replied, confused.
“I meant someone…professional,” Harry clarified uncomfortably.
Hermione gaped; here she was with her best friend, having just lost her cat, and the first thing he asks is if she’s seen a psychiatrist yet?!
“No, I haven’t,” she said bitterly, placing her empty mug on the coffee table. She stood up determinedly, a sad, betrayed look on her face. “I’m leaving—sorry to wake you up.”
Hermione slipped out the door and disapparated before Harry could finish his protest.
She reappeared in her living room, overcome with disappointment over her best friend’s attitude towards her. Trying hard not to give in to tears, she occupied herself by replacing all the anti-apparition spells on her apartment. It took her over two hours to finally finish all the work, and by the time she was finished, she was utterly exhausted.
She collapsed her bed, ready to get a good night’s sleep.
Hermione didn’t wake up until noon the next day. The first thing she realized was that Crookshanks wasn’t lying beside her as he usually was, and she shed a few tears at the memory.
She decided to wake herself up with a blistering hot shower, followed by a home-cooked breakfast of eggs and bacon. Once Hermione had finished her breakfast—which by that time should really be counted as lunch instead—she decided to write a letter to her parents, who had been spending the summer in Brazil. Her parents had sent her a letter a few weeks prior, and with all the confusion and excitement happening then, she hadn’t had time to reply.
Put quite simply, her entire letter was a lie. She began by telling her parents how much fun she was having being an Auror, followed by a quick description of the boyfriend she had fabricated so that her parents wouldn’t worry about her being lonely. She concluded her letter by asking her parents how their vacation was going. The ending was the only true part of the letter, where she told her parents how much she loved them and couldn’t wait to see them again.
Once Hermione had stamped and addressed the envelope, she put it in the mailbox outside her apartment, knowing that her parents would want to receive her letter the muggle way.
She reentered her apartment only to find an owl perched on her table. Hermione opened the letter, which bore an elegant crest she had never seen before.
Would you do me the honor of accompanying me for a walk in Fairy Park? I would like to continue our scintillating conversation of earlier—you have quite an intricate mind. If you are agreeable, we shall meet at 5:00 pm at Fairy Park (which is just south of London).
Eagerly awaiting your reply,
The writing on the letter had obviously not been done by hand—it looked as if Mark had employed the services of a professional calligrapher to write this letter, something Hermione found flattering, if a little lazy.
Hermione quickly penned a reply, telling Mark that she would enjoy meeting him very much. An evening walk in the park, she mused…Could it be that Mark was attracted to her? This would work very well for her plan to use him to get to Malfoy.
To ease her nervousness about this meeting, Hermione went to her bookshelf and took out a familiar old comfort: Hogwarts, A History. She happily sank into a cloud of nostalgia, remembering happy times at Hogwarts with Ron and Harry. Harry hadn’t always been the way he was now, she remembered as she came across a chapter on the Room of Requirement. The final war had marked him greatly.
Where before he had valued his friends above anything else, he now focused more of his efforts on his job and the criminals he arrested. Hermione knew that losing Ron had affected him just as much as it had her, but they dealt with their pain in different ways.
The combination of her and Harry focusing their lives on being the best Aurors they could be had also driven them slowly apart. Auror training wasn’t a walk in the park, after all. Many days she had returned home too exhausted to even eat dinner. She and Harry and rarely spoken during that time.
By the time everything had started to settle down, the damage had been done. Harry simply remembered her from the last time they had had a real conversation, which had been after Ron died. Hermione had been vulnerable—very vulnerable. Harry was still unable to get his mind away from his impression of Hermione at that time. He didn’t see that she had moved on and grown up a lot in those few years.
Hermione sighed and turned the page, the memories coming quickly now.
Hermione ducked a killing curse and sent two Stunning charms in a row at the masked Death Eater in front of her. When the man fell to the ground, unconscious, she chanced a look to her left, where she knew that Harry should be. Hundreds of feet away, Harry and Dumbledore stood side by side, dueling Lord Voldemort together. She could tell that Voldemort was getting weaker.
“Look out!” cried a voice. Hermione was tackled to the ground. Green light shot just over her head.
Ron screamed a curse, and the Death Eater who had tried to kill Hermione was hurled backwards and slammed into a tree. He didn’t move again.
Ron pulled Hermione to her feet, planting a desperate kiss on her lips. “Out of all the places for this—the Forbidden Forest?!”
He and Hermione turned to face their next enemy together. Surprisingly, there wasn’t another Death Eater attacking them right away, as had happened repeatedly since the start of the battle.
“Over there!” Hermione yelled, pointing at a Death Eater who was standing over the body of someone, his wand mercilessly torturing them to the point of insanity.
“Stupefy!” yelled Ron, at the same time that Hermione nonverbally cast a Binding curse on the wizard’s wand.
Ron’s spell missed, but Hermione’s hit the Death Eater square in the chest. The screaming boy on the ground fell limp as the Cruciatus Curse was ended by the power of Hermione’s curse.
The Death Eater yelled in frustration and backed away from the boy, his wand now rendered useless for at least a half hour. Hermione rushed to the boy, checking that he was still breathing. It was Colin Creevey, shuddering and crying as he clutched Hermione for comfort.
“It’s all right,” Hermione whispered, helping the boy to his feet.
“Hermione!” Ron yelled frantically, running towards her.
Hermione turned around, fear in her eyes, to see a purple light lancing directly at her. There was no time to save herself. She shoved Colin to the side and closed her eyes. But the impact never came.
She opened her eyes, and her very heart stopped. Ron lay on the ground, having jumped in front of her to save her.
“NO!” she screamed, her voice filled with raw pain that echoed throughout the whole misty forest.
Even Voldemort looked over for a brief second, during which Harry’s Killing Curse struck him in the chest.
As Voldemort slowly toppled to the ground, Hermione’s eyes were all on Ron as she fell to her knees, cradling his head in her lap. A deep gash had gone through Ron’s stomach and too much blood had already spilled on the ground. Hermione knew no spell for healing such a grievous wound, and tears poured down her face as she realized that the wound was fatal.
“Ron,” she choked out, brushing the hair from his forehead.
Ron’s eyes opened, glazed with pain. “I’m sorry,” he whispered, raising his bloody hand to gently stroke Hermione’s cheek. “D—don’t be afraid. I’ll always be with—you.” He tried to smile, just to make her feel better, but his eyes slowly closed and his hand fell to the ground next to him.
Hermione wiped away the tears that had escaped her eyes. She didn’t believe in angels, and she knew that Ron wasn’t a ghost, yet there truly had been times when she had felt Ron’s presence beside her.
When she’d had an emotional breakdown right before her Auror exam, she had felt a strange sense of calm, followed by a familiar scent that had reminded her of Ron.
“Time to get ready,” she murmured to herself, taking several deep breaths. If she was to make Ron proud, she would have to stop dwelling in the past.
Hermione went to her room, where she changed into black jeans and a pink, button-up shirt. With a hint of distaste, she left the first few buttons undone, so just a bit of her cleavage was revealed. She didn’t date often, but that didn’t mean that she didn’t know what attracted men. She didn’t bother with makeup, besides a hint of eyeliner to accent her eyes. She slid on her favorite black boots and looked at herself in the mirror.
“Passable,” she murmured, smiling.
Hermione combed out her hair so that it hung loose over her shoulders in curls. She glanced at the clock—it was four thirty. She had to get going if she was going to be there by five o’clock. Apparating was out of the question, as Fairy Park was a place that muggles went to as well.
Hermione left her apartment, locking the door behind her. She tucked her wand in her pocket and walked leisurely down the four flights of steps to the ground floor, passing a few of her muggle neighbors on the way.
Walking out onto the open street, she was assailed by the sounds and smells of car exhaust, cheeseburgers, and people. She wrinkled her nose in distaste as she began walking towards Fairy Park.
She hated the city. The only reason she was living there was the cost; her parents had been renting the apartment for years, and the rent was fixed at the price they had began paying it years ago.
Therefore, Hermione was now paying a much cheaper price than any of the other tenants in the building, and since the Auror career was not the most high-paying, this was one of the ways she saved money. Her parents never went to London very much anymore anyway, as they had moved their business to Rochester.
Hermione leisurely walked the twenty blocks to Fairy Park. She had never been to this park, though she’d been past it many times. The gated park was quite large—tall trees obscured the view from above, though paths went beneath them. A brick archway was the only entrance or exit to Fairy Park.
It was fairly busy on this cloudy evening, with people coming and going through the archway. Parents, children, and dogs littered the grass before the trees began. Hermione entered the park, looking around.
She felt a gentle tap on her shoulder and turned quickly, her hand instinctively going to the pocket where her wand was.
“Hello, Hermione,” Mark said, smiling. He was wearing jeans and a blue T-shirt that showed off the muscles in his arms and abdomen. “You look lovely.”
“Hi,” Hermione replied, giving him a relieved smile in return.
“Who did you think I was?” he asked, offering her his left arm.
Hermione blushed as they began walking towards the path that led through the trees. “Just reflex, I guess,” she replied, noticing with admiration the muscle in his warm arm.
“I don’t think I could ever be an Auror,” said Mark thoughtfully. “I believe I’d get much too paranoid after awhile—probably start thinking that everyone was an enemy.”
“What about being a Healer?” Hermione countered, watching a squirrel run past them, a chestnut clutched in its mouth. “You have to watch people die every day. I’d think that was much worse…”
Mark laughed, his other hand coming around to gently touch Hermione’s hand. She felt the contact but didn’t shy away. “I am a Healer, but I don’t work at a hospital. I have a private contract with Draco Malfoy.”
Hermione inwardly congratulated herself for having brought the conversation to Malfoy. They walked slowly beneath the trees as she considered what to say next. It was very quiet in this part of the park; so far they had passed only one other person. It was getting dark, but there was still enough light to see comfortably by.
“Hermione, I must confess something to you,” Mark said, breaking the silence between them.
“What is it?” Hermione asked curiously. Mark’s hand was still resting over her own, his fingers lightly stroking her skin.
“I’m beginning to like you very much,” he murmured. “But I don’t wish to be a distraction for you if you are still intent on arresting Draco…”
Hermione found herself drawn in by his gentle eyes. Their faces were very close, and she was quite aware they had stopped walking. “I’m still going to arrest him,” she admitted. “But that doesn’t mean we—”
A loud crack suddenly split the air as thunder roared overhead. Seconds later, rain began pouring from the sky. Hermione gasped as she became soaking wet within moments.
“Let’s go!” Mark yelled, grabbing Hermione’s hand and pulling her off the path, into the trees.
Hermione’s feet pounded on the ground as she followed Mark, splashing through puddles that had formed instantly. Her clothes clung to her uncomfortably, but what she hated the most was the cold. The wind rushing by as they jogged through the forest made her even colder.
Mark’s hand was warm against hers and he seemed to know just where to go through the forest. Hermione followed him, having no idea where they were going. Finally, they stopped at the base of an enormous tree. Despite the heavy tree cover, rain managed to force its way through and soak the pair.
“Why are we here?” Hermione asked, her teeth chattering.
“Because no muggles will be here so we can apparate out of here,” Mark replied, water dripping down from his short hair. “If I may?”
Hermione nodded and allowed Mark to wrap his arms around her in a close embrace. They turned on the spot and disapparated. This time, the feeling of Apparating was different than any times she had ever done it before. The shifting and squeezing sensation halted halfway through, and something tried to rip her away from Mark. She tightened her grip on Mark, who held her tighter in return. The force relinquished its hold on her, and the two of them reappeared in a well-furnished bedroom.
Sorry for the abrupt chapter ending, but I had to end this chapter SOMEWHERE, or it would be ridiculously long! I hope you like it, and please review :) Thanks for reading!
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