Chapter 10 : Is One Hermione Better Than Two?
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What's that sound? His mind was still too clouded to make it out.
He sat up too quickly, which did nothing to stop his head from spinning. He moaned, as he tried to steady himself. His vision cleared first. Then his hearing. That's when he finally realized that someone nearby was desperately gasping for air. He looked to his left and saw one of the Hermiones, still unconscious, breathing as if a Hippogriff were sitting on her chest.
He rushed to her; seeing the Talisman round her neck, he shouted, “‘Mione! ‘Mione!” He shook her, trying to figure out why she couldn’t breathe.
Gotta clear her airway. Pulling his wand from his clutch, he cast “Anapneo.”
Gods, she’s dying right in front of me!
Frantically, he looked around for his fiancée. “Hermione? Help!”
Where is she?! Harry and Ginny lay unconscious to his right. There was no one else there. Then he looked back at ‘Mione and it hit him. ‘Mione was wearing two sets of Auror armor, the outer one was straining over the inner, constricting ‘Mione’s chest.
“Engorgio!” As the outer suit of armor expanded, ‘Mione’s breathing instantly eased. Slowly her eyes fluttered open, a stricken look on her face.
“Ron?” she asked, through a raspy voice, coughing.
“Right here, love.”
“I know, love. Just lay still. Harry!”
Harry began to stir, shaking his head to clear the fog.
“HARRY!” Ron shouted again.
The raven-haired wizard stumbled over to his best mate. “What happened?”
“Where’s the other Hermione?” Harry persisted. Sluggishly, Ginny joined them.
Ron stammered, “Th-there isn’t one. Not anymore.”
Slowly, Harry took everything in. Himself, Ginny and Ron, here. Only one Hermione, wearing two sets of armor…Merlin’s twins!! “They merged?”
Ginny gasped, “Is she ok?” her voice full of worry.
“It’s not like I’m not here,” Hermione answered as she slowly rubbed her eyes. “I’m woozy. Head's swimming...” She tried to stand.
Ron wouldn’t let her. “Oh no, just stay there.”
When her vision finally cleared, the first thing she saw was her fiance. Then her face fell, as if she'd woken only to find herself still in a nightmare. “Oh, Ron!” She pulled him into a desperate kiss as the tears began to stream down her face. “It was so horrible! So horrible!”
“What, love, what?”
She choked back the sobs. “Losing you.”
"I'm here, love. Right here." He held her tight, gently rocking her.
Several moments passed as Harry and Ginny looked on worriedly. Then Hermione took a long, calming breath. "Sorry...I'm better now. That was just...it was just too much."
Very slowly, Ron let her stand. But he was still supporting her.
As Hermione steadied herself, she tried to explain. "I.. we, feared this could happen." She took a breath. "Shifting realities together brought this on, combined with that Chain Legillimens." She staggered at bit and Ron steadied her. "If the realities merge, this will happen to everyone still alive on both sides of the divide."
"The armor?" Ron asked.
"Enchanted." Very carefully, she stood on her own. But she refused to let go of Ron. "It couldn't merge. My other clothing isn't a problem."
Ron was trying to get his mind around this latest development. "So are both of you in there or..?"
"It's not like that. I'm me. I just remember everything that happened. There," her face fell, "and here."
Ginny was dumbfounded. "Both sets of memories..."
Harry rubbed his hand over his forehead and sent to Ginny, Do you think she’ll be alright?
Not my area of expertise, love. But, she seems to be fine. Dazed, but fine.
Ron ran his free hand through his hair and looked at his best mate.
Harry let out a breath. “Let's get out of the open and get the tent up. We're awfully exposed here. We'll figure things out later."
Ron took in their surroundings. They were in the middle of a large tilled field. Sitting gnomes for anyone to see them. He cursed himself for losing his situational awareness. That’ll get your fiancée killed, or worse, you git!
Gathering himself, Ron directed, “Tree line on the right.”
“Got it. Let’s get out of here. Brooms,” Harry ordered. “I don’t think anyone’s in good enough shape to Apparate.”
The Quartet zoomed off to the tree line, Ginny carrying the extra Firebolt. Once they’d gone far enough into the woods for Ron and Harry’s liking, they found a good spot with a small brook.
“Ron?” Harry deferred to his partner as to whether this was a good defensive position.
“This’ll do. Nicely.” Ron nodded.
Harry turned to his fiancée. “Gin, can you do a sweep?”
Ginny nodded and flew off.
“Stay close!” Harry shouted after her.
She furrowed her eyebrows at him, but nodded, then circled, hugging the tree tops.
The other three dismounted and spread out. Ginny joined them shortly. “French farm house off to the east. Saw a road sign. I think we’re in Brittany. Otherwise, everything’s quiet.”
“Ok,” Harry said.
He took the tent out of his pouch as Ginny, Ron and Hermione put the protective spells in place around their campsite. Harry would’ve preferred a Fidelius Charm, but even Hermione hadn’t been able to figure out how to affix it to a structure as flimsy as a tent. As he looked over his shoulder, he noticed that Ron never let Hermione get more than three feet from him; for her part, she seemed to be clinging to him. Probably for the best he keep an eye on her. But, she seems fine, all things considered. He shook his head as he tried to digest the latest development Fate had thrown their way.
Harry took his Phoenix Feather wand from its clutch. “Erecto.” The Elder Wand remained in the clutch on his left arm. He still didn’t feel comfortable using it. His spare wand he’d given to Ginny as a backup.
With one last look around the campsite, the Quartet entered the tent.
Harry was the last one in. “Hermione, this is amazing.”
She smiled. “I thought we should go in a bit of style this time.”
The tent was cavernous. The flap opened onto a sitting room that would have been comfortable for eight, complete with fireplace. Off the sitting room was the kitchen, with an attached storage room, two full bathrooms and three bedrooms. Three bedrooms. No need for that now, Hermione thought with a smirk.
With a flick of her wand, books flew from her beaded bags to the bookcases, together with Sneakoscopes and other magical items. Seeing that, Harry shot her a nervous look.
“Don’t worry. We won’t lose them if we lose the tent again. I’ve put a spell on them that combined Accio, Reducio and a Proximus charm; if we get separated from the tent for too long, the books will be shrunk and summoned back to my beaded bags,” Hermione finished.
“An unapproved spell?” Ron chided. Hermione glared at him. Then she smiled, never letting go of his arm. Ron patted his stomach. “Well, I’m hungry.”
“That’s news?” asked Ginny as she drew the Sword of Gryffindor from its clutch on her back and laid it against the coffee table. Then she threw herself into a chair and began to take off her boots.
Hermione gazed lovingly up at Ron. “I’ll cook for you.” She pulled him toward the kitchen, the smile never leaving her face. “We’ll eat in bed,” she said mischievously. Ron laughed as the two disappeared into the kitchen.
Harry watched them go. “Well, let’s settle in.” His voice rose as they retreated further away. “But then we need to talk.”
Only Ginny was paying any attention to him.
“Ron? Once you eat….” Harry’s statement was cut off by more laughter from the kitchen as the couple banged pots and pans around.
Hermione giggled impishly. “No, you git. The saucepan.”
“Git? I’ll show you a git!” Ron grabbed her from behind and began to tickle her mercilessly.
Harry tried again. “Guys?”
Neither she nor Ron took any notice that Harry was even there.
Harry stopped himself from trying to interrupt again and stalked off into the nearest bedroom. The link seemed to have reverted, for the moment, only to a flow of emotions. Ginny picked up a strong note of worry and frustration from her fiancé. She instantly rose and followed him.
Her brow furrowed. “What’s wrong?”
He cast Muffliato non-verbally with an irritated flick of his wand. “Them.” He waved an arm toward the kitchen.
“Love, you saw her memories. Don’t you think part of her just has to be overjoyed to have him back without her double getting in the way?”
“That’s what I’m afraid of.”
Ginny cocked an eyebrow at him.
Harry explained. “Gin, we’re not here for a honeymoon. I need their heads in the game. Somewhere out there,” Harry motioned to the tent wall, “is an army of Death Eaters and Inferi. Somehow, we need to get through them, get to England, kill Nagini and then Riddle. But those two think we’re on holiday.”
Ginny let out a breath. “Would you rather have two warring Hermiones again?”
Ginny fixed him with a disapproving frown.
“All right, no. But this isn’t necessarily all good. What happens when we leave?”
Ginny began to speak, but then she realized she didn’t have a retort.
Back in the kitchen, Ron and Hermione discovered a new game: Could they strip off each other’s armor and still keep the chops from burning? With Hermione’s roaming hands, Ron couldn’t concentrate at all.
“Love, they’re burning!” Ron laughed as her hands moved farther south over his robes.
She waved her wand at the stove, saving them. With a quick glance at Harry and Ginny’s room, making sure they weren’t coming out, she cast a vanishing charm on what clothes she was still wearing. “If you’re that hungry bring them with you.” With a seductive look over her bare shoulder, she walked into their bedroom, her naked hips swinging back and forth.
Ron started after her and, almost as an after thought, waved his wand at the stove, summoning the food and plates.
As he entered the bedroom, her smile vanished. There was nothing in her eyes but pure determination and a smoldering need he’d never seen before.
With a flick of her wand, the flap to their bedroom closed. She slid up against him, wrapping her arms around his waist. Her tongue probed his mouth as she began to rip off his clothes.
Gods, she’s on fire.
Finally stripping him bare, she wrapped her legs around him where he stood. "Take me! Take me, now!"
Ron thrust upward as they both gasped. All the while, Hermione’s eyes were locked on his, with a fiery intensity, full of desire. She seemed intent on not just making love to him, but devouring him. It was all Ron could do to match her passion, her ardor. Within minutes, she began to call out, moaning as she dug her nails into his back.
Spent, for the moment, they collapsed onto the bed, Hermione still tightly wrapped around him.
As their breathing eased, Ron felt tears falling on his chest. “Love?”
“It’s okay,” Hermione said. “Just remembering.”
Ron knew, but had to ask. “Remembering what?”
“We only had one time together, in this reality. It was in a tent. That part of me only ever had you again in her dreams.”
Ron caressed her bare back. “I’m here now, love. I’m here.” Slowly, a subtle but persistent twinge flared in the pit of his stomach. He began to feel guilty, like he was cheating. “We just made love this morning…”
Hermione understood instantly what was running through her fiancé’s mind. She knew she had to put him at ease. “After I slapped you. Ron, don’t worry. It’s still me. I remember…It’s just that, the pain from this reality, the loss…It’s overpowering.” More silent tears fell on his chest.
Ron didn’t know what to say, so he just held her.
After a few moments, Hermione broke the silence. “I don’t know what’s worse. The memory of Dover or knowing that part of me will lose you again.”
“I’m not going anywhere, love,” Ron reassured her.
“Not you. Me. When we kill Riddle and keep the realities from merging, I’ll be two again. One part of me will leave with you; the other part will be left here, alone.”
Ron didn’t have a response, so he kissed her. His only goal was to drive those thoughts away, as far and as fast as he could.
Part of her remembered dreading the idea of sharing a tent while the other Hermione slept with Ron. Part of her remembered wanting desperately to make love long and loud to him so that the Hermione next door would know who he belonged to. The Hermione that was here now, caressing and being loved by her soul mate, was having a hard time relating to any of those thoughts. She cried out again as he brought her to the end.
It was several hours later when Ginny, yet again, had to recast the Muffliato charm that the couple next door either had forgotten or didn’t care to cast. Her wand movements betrayed her frustration. As she did so, Harry rolled over and faced her, propped up on an elbow.
“Six times? Merlin, Gin, are they ever going to sleep?”
“Not tonight. Just get some rest, Harry. Please?”
He let out an exasperated breath and rolled over on his back.
Ginny turned to face him. “Harry, remember what we were like after the Battle?”
He shot her a glance. “How could I forget?” The month after the Battle of Hogwarts had only four items on their agendas, excluding the memorials: sex, food, sleep and more sex.
“The Hermione in this reality never had that.” Ginny’s face was somber. “It’s been four years since the Battle and, as bad as our reality’s been, this one was far worse. Don’t be so dense. You’re just gonna have to give her this time.” She curled up on his shoulder. “I love you. Now go to sleep.”
Harry laid back, putting an arm around his fiancée. I guess she’s right.
I’m always right, you dolt. Sleep!
Harry finally drifted off.
AN: I do not own Harry Potter. The toys belong to JKR; she just lets us play with them.
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