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Chapter 18 : The Truth Comes Out
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The Truth Comes Out
She didn't know what time it was, nor did she care. When she felt the dull signs of consciousness wash over her it was an understatement to say she was scared to feel herself pressed against someone else's naked body. It took a few moments to remember just who she was being held to and when she did, she let a ghost of a smile grace her lips. Although it sounded clich�, her first thought when she let the events of before she had fallen asleep creep into her mind was that it was the best sex she had ever had. Better than Draco, better than those nameless guys, just all around better. She still had yet to discover what had made it so special. But when she felt Harry's arm tighten around her waist she knew.
It was because she loved him.
It hadn't just been sex. They had made love. Of course she loved Draco… but not in the way that she should. Now that she thought about it, he had become more of a brother-figure throughout the years. But when they were growing up, there had been no one else to place their affections on when puberty hit. So, naturally, they had chosen each other. She would always love him, but it was a different kind of love. Not like the love she had for Harry. The love she had with Harry was pure, unconditional, and most likely unrequited. She was probably a replacement for Ginny. Perfect, lovely Ginny. So she would soak this up for all she could. This was her time with Harry and she wouldn't waste it by running away for the second time.
She wiggled more firmly into his arms and felt his head bury in her neck. She sighed as his warm breath came into contact with her naked skin. It soon turned into his soft lips placing butterfly kisses along the base of her neck and shoulder. It was obvious that he was now as awake as she was. She turned around and Harry detached his lips just in time to look at her with his gorgeous emerald eyes. She remembered the first time she saw them. They were vastly becoming her favorite thing about him. She saw them squint as he grinned at her, propping himself on his elbow to get a better look at her. She shyly pulled up the covers over herself and avoided his gaze. He was the only one who could make her feel uncomfortable like this. The old Hermione would have laughed, but she was long gone.
He gave her a small once-over and caressed her arm. “There's no need to be self-conscious, Hermione.”
“I'm not!” He gave her a look and she rolled her eyes. “Alright, so what if I am?”
“Well I find it incredibly cute.” He said, lightly touching her nose with his finger.
She raised her eyebrows, “Really?”
“Really.” He leaned down and kissed her lightly on the mouth. Before he had a chance to pull away, she wrapped one of the hands that was holding onto the blanket and draped it around his neck to secure his lips on her own. He seemed surprised for a moment before smiling into to kiss and carefully peeling the rest of the blanket from her chest. As the kiss deepened Hermione maneuvered so that she was on top of Harry while still passionately kissing him. He moved his hands to her waist and caressed up and down, causing goose bumps to erupt on her skin. She straightened so that she was straddling him, breaking apart the contact of their lips and positioned herself.
She let out a loud “Harry!” and he smiled into their kiss once more. Her hands wrapped around his shoulders, making it so there was no room in between them. The friction of their bodies and the constant need to break their feverish kisses was enough to make both of them come undone simoantiously. Although neither of them lasted half as long as last time, they weren't complaining. The fireworks were still there, proving that the last time hadn't been a fluke.
He rolled off of her and looked her in the eyes. She gave him a silly grin and kissed him on the corner of his mouth. These were the best moments of her life, and when she looked back, she wanted to say that she was daring enough to take advantage of their time together. He reached behind him and searched for his boxers. Finding them half under the bed, he pulled them on and turned back to Hermione, who had been looking at him the whole time, admiring how the taut muscles in his back constricted with his movements.
“See something you like?” He asked teasingly.
“I think you already know the answer to that.” She replied as she pulled on her underwear.
He chuckled but all too suddenly, his expression turned serious. Looking towards the door, he waved his hand so that it opened and muttered a quiet “Accio clothes”. The remainder of their clothing flew onto the bed and Hermione gave him a curious look. She didn't want to believe that he was going to leave her. In her mind, it was inevitable, but half of her still hoped that he would stay… just for a little while. He handed her his tee-shirt and she gingerly put it on, still looking at him. He met her eyes and turned so that he was sitting Indian-style on the bedspread. She tucked her feet beneath her and looked at him expectantly, bracing herself.
“Hermione I want you to know that I'm not the kind of guy who sleeps with someone that I don't care about and then leaves them there.” Hermione nodded, hope springing up in her chest. “I think you deserve to know about how… how I feel about you before you say anything.” She leaned forward expectantly as he took a deep intake of breath. “The fact is that these past few weeks with you have been the best I've ever had. I don't think anyone has ever made feel so alive before I met you. That day in Flourish and Blott's was a bit of a bumpy start but I think it was fate that brought me to you. All of my life I've been surrounded by all the wrong people and only a handful of the right. But none of them have gotten me to feel this way. Now I think I've figured out exactly what this is, but I'm not quite sure because for a time, I thought I knew what it meant. I really hope I don't muck this up by saying what I think I'm feeling. I hope that you won't get scared because believe me, I think I'm scared enough for the both of us.” He grabbed her hands, which had been intertwined at her waist and held them tenderly. She looked into his eyes and saw that there were tears beginning to form. She smiled at him, trying her best to silently encourage him. It seemed to be enough because he spoke firmly, “Hermione I… I'm in love with you.”
The tears Hermione though she was feeling pooled in her eyes and began to fall down her cheeks. He was in love with her? This was all wrong! He couldn't be in love with her. It was dangerous enough that she had fallen for him.
“Please don't cry, Hermione. I understand if you don't feel the same way.” He said solemnly.
She shook her head. “It's—it's not that.”
“Then why are you crying?”
She bit her lip and lowered her head. She had to tell him. She had to tell him everything. Even if he didn't love her afterwards, he deserved to know just as much as she deserved to know how he felt about her. It was crucial. She would ruin the first love she had ever experienced. But it was something she had to do to save him. Without her in his life, he would stand a better chance of defeating the Dark Lord. It was now or never. “I have to tell you something…” He nodded, still looking reproachful. He thought he was alone in his feelings. Silly boy. “Harry I—”
She was interrupted by a tapping on the window. She and Harry turned around and saw a brown owl perched on the windowsill holding a roll of parchment. Giving her an odd look, Harry opened the window and took the parchment from it. Immediately it flew off towards the forbidden forest. He made his way back to the bed and opened it. Hermione scooted towards him in curiosity. He finished reading before she got a chance to look at it, however, and rolled it back up. Turning to her without meeting her eyes he said, “Dumbledore wants me to meet him in the forbidden forest to…” He glanced upward for a moment, contemplating how he should word it, “train.”
She nodded and the words came tumbling out before she could stop herself. “I'm coming with you.”
He gave her a curious look, “You want to come with me?”
She nodded without a second thought, “Yes. I want to come with you.”
“Alright well… we have to leave right away. He said it was urgent.” With that he put the remainder of his clothes on and pulled an extra shirt from his trunk.
Hermione pulled on her pants and turned back around to see Harry trying to flatten his hair. It really was quite amusing. Every time he got it somewhat flat, it sprang back into disarray. He turned to her with a shrug and motioned to the door. She nodded and they exited the dormitory. When they got to the common room Hermione saw that it was only four in the afternoon. She wasn't asleep long and everyone was still either at Hogsmeade or outside. For that she was thankful. If someone had walked in on her and Harry she didn't know what she would have done.
They walked through the halls in silence. Hermione didn't think that she should tell Harry before they had to face Dumbledore. She would get them into even more shit then they were already buried in. She didn't even want to tell him that she loved him back yet. It was better for him to think his feelings were one-sided for the time being. She would tell him after they met with Dumbledore. For now she would just let him know that she was here. She slipped her hand into his and intertwined their fingers. He looked over at her and gave her a tender smile as they walked out the main entrance.
She felt the chilled air wash over her as they walked towards the forest. She could see dark clouds making their way towards them, foreshadowing rain. She loved the rain. It was more innocent than snow and disappeared as soon as it hit the ground more times than not. And when it did happen to stay, it formed tiny puddles to splash in. She had done that when she was younger but never had the opportunity when she was moved to the Riddle Mansion. Maybe if Harry and Dumbledore wanted to be alone, she could sneak back and humor herself with a quick splash.
She had never been in the forbidden forest before so when they got within five feet of it, she stiffened. Harry walked a few steps but felt her stay put so he turned around. Her eyes were glued foreword at the foreboding trees and she felt dread wash over her. Maybe it was a spell to keep people out? Dumbledore had said anyone who ventured into it would be punished. So why would he ask Harry in there? She felt Harry give her hand a tight squeeze and she looked over at him. Instantly, she felt warmth spread over her. If Harry wasn't afraid, then she knew it must be safe enough to go in. She smiled at him and let him lead her into the depths of the forest.
As they weaved through the trees Hermione could swear she heard a wolf howl. And then, a few minutes later, the bushes started to wiggle as though something was going to jump out at them. At this point, Hermione was clutching to Harry's arm tightly. He didn't seem to mind as he walked confidently through the forest. If she didn't know better, she'd say that he had been in here once or twice. But who in their right mind would come in here anyway? It was called the forbidden forest for a reason. As they got deeper and deeper within it, she began to worry that she wouldn't be able to find her way out. But as long as Harry was with her, she felt safe. Nothing could hurt her.
They came to a small clearing that Hermione assumed was towards the middle of the forest. Harry stopped and looked around the parameter. “He said he would meet me here…”
Hermione let go of his hand and began to walk around, without straying too far from him. “Well maybe he's just running late?”
Harry shook his head, “No—no Dumbledore's always on time.”
Hermione looked up and saw the dark clouds she saw earlier begin to accumulate above them. Something wasn't right. The wind started to pick up and blow her hair and Harry's shirt askew. She made her way back over to Harry who had his eyes closed tightly as if he was in pain. She walked faster and opened her mouth to as what was wrong, but before she could emit a word his hand shot up to his forehead and he keeled over.
“Harry?!” She called as she ran over and kneeled next to him. “Harry what's wrong?”
“Hermione… get… out!” He panted.
“Yes!” He looked up at her pleadingly, “Listen to me. I don't want anything bad to happen to you. Run. Go to Hogwarts and get McGonagall.”
“No Harry, I'm staying here with you.”
“Hermione ple—ARRGGG!” He bent back over and broke out in a cold sweat.
She shook his shoulders violently, “Harry? Harry what is it? Talk to me please! Harry…”
Before she could get another word out, the sound of a dozen people apparating filled the clearing. She had a really bad feeling about this. She slowly looked up and saw that her and Harry were surrounded by dark cloaked figures with skulls for faces. Death Eaters. He was here. Hermione tensed up and wrapped her arms protectively around Harry, trying to come up with a plan. The talking it over one didn't seem like an appropriate choice. She knew that she didn't stand a chance dueling all of these people anymore. At a time she might have, but now that the old Hermione was gone, she didn't think she could go up against more than three.
All thoughts of a plan left when she heard a single pop. Her breathing quickened and Harry's body started to shake with more pain. She knew that she had to face him sooner or later. So, regretfully, she let go of Harry and stood up. He was a little less than a yard away from them. He didn't look like he noticed her previous grip on Harry as he barked out, “Seize them!”
Hermione felt herself be taken back into the clutches of an unknown Death Eater and away from Harry. She immediately began to struggle, “Hey, what are you doing?! Let go of me!”
Harry wasn't putting up much of a struggle as he continued to writhe in pain. She shot a fleeting look towards him and then to the Dark Lord. He was looking at Harry with what could only be described as a look of smug triumph. Anger began to boil in her stomach as she tried to make a rush towards him. But the Death Eater holding her was strong. She was beginning to get confused. Why was she being restrained in the first place?
The Dark Lord walked nearer to Harry and let a smirk grace his pale lips, “Harry, Harry, Harry.” He began mockingly, “You really thought that you stood a chance up against me? You thought I didn't have a plan of my own? Well this must be coming as a bit of a shock to you, then.”
Harry's head turned upward as he glared at him, his eyes turning dark with hatred. “I don't underestimate you, Tom. I just didn't think you were the type of… person to attack someone when their back was turned.”
His eyes narrowed and Hermione could see the anger radiating off of him. No one had ever called him by his actual name unless they were asking to be cursed. “You dare speak my name?”
“I dare to do a lot of things, Tom. Now listen to me. Let Hermione go and we can settle this like gentlemen.”
If Hermione didn't know better, she would have sworn that he laughed. He never laughed. “You want me to let Hermione go now do you?”
“Did I stutter?”
Instead of getting angrier like Harry and Hermione both expected, he smirked again. Hermione's stomach dropped. She knew what he was going to do before he even had the time to think it all the way through. But before she could say anything, he turned toward her and addressed the Death Eater holding her. “Let her go Dolohov.”
He released his grip on her and she stumbled over to him. The Dark Lord picked her up by her shoulder and led her over to where Harry was standing. He began to struggle when he saw Hermione being dragged over to him. “Take you hands off of her, Riddle!” He roared.
“Give me a reason, Potter. I dare you.” Harry opened his mouth to speak, but he held his finger up to silence him, “But before you do I think you should hear something.” Hermione struggled against his grip and opened her mouth to scream at him, but with a wave of his hand a gag was put over her mouth and she stiffened. She had forgotten. He was the most powerful wizard in the world and there was no use trying to fight him. “Hermione… such a pretty, trustful soul, is she not?” He caressed the side of her face and looked at her tenderly but she flinched away. He looked over at Harry sharply. “Tell me about the first time you met.”
“That's none of your business.”
“Fair enough. How about telling me things about her? Her favorite color, her best friend, her childhood perhaps?” He finished with a sneer.
“Really now?” He asked innocently. “What if I told you that I could answer every one of those questions plus an added bonus, hmm?” Harry looked at him oddly. “Her favorite color is red because of bloodshed. She and Draco Malfoy have been best friends since they were tykes. Should I go on to her childhood?”
Harry scoffed. “You're lying.”
Hermione bit back a sob as the Dark Lord chuckled. “Am I? Her parents were murdered when she was five months old by a few of my best Death Eaters and I, being the merciful Lord, took her under my wing after she demonstrated powerful magical abilities well beyond those of a Mudblood. And now, here we are, seventeen years later, after she completed the most important mission in her career. She's on the fast track to being my second-in-command, her lifelong dream. She led you to me.”
Hermione couldn't breathe. Her parents, her unknown past being thrown out for not only her ears, but Harry's as well. She had always thought that the Order of the Phoenix had been responsible for her parent's death. That's why she hated Harry. It was all a lie. A lie to get her to be on their side rather than where she was meant to be. With Harry, with Ron, with Ginny, with actual friends. The mission was all a flop. She was just being used to get to Harry.
“You're lying!” Harry screamed. Hermione turned over to him with tears spilling down her cheeks. He looked at her and caught her expression. “He… he is lying, isn't he Hermione?”
The gag prevented her from replying but he got his answer in her eyes. His grief-stricken face made her heart break into a million pieces. His strong stature flopped and he gave in to the Death Eater holding him, letting him have the advantage. Hermione wanted nothing more than to run over and hug him, telling him that she loved him and none of that was even important to her anymore. She let the tears run rampant down her cheeks as the Dark Lord turned to look at her. “It's for your own good.” He whispered, “After tonight, you'll be by my side planning the takeover of Muggle London.”
She wanted to scream that that wasn't what she wanted. He let her go by guiding her back over to where she was before. Dolohov didn't grab her this time but she was rooted to the spot by her nerves freezing up. The strength she had was slowly dissipating and she knew that it was near hopeless to do anything to help Harry now.
The Dark Lord stepped closer to Harry and instructed the Death Eater holding him to let him go. Bending down to his level he spoke in a hushed tone, “You've escaped me enough to make my killing you so much more satisfying. Everyone knows never to run away from their enemies. You always kick them while their down. Or, in my case, kill them while they're wallowing in their self pity. So, let us skip the `last words' bit and get down to business, shall we? Crucio!”
Harry's body began to shake with pain and Hermione flinched. He was under the spell for a good few minutes and never said a word, screamed, or moaned in pain. This angered the Dark Lord and he lifted the curse for a moment, only to scream it once more at him. The curse was stronger than ever and Hermione could see Harry struggling not to speak. He didn't want to give the Dark Lord the satisfaction. It got to the point where his ears began to bleed. Hermione couldn't take it anymore. He seemed so small, so helpless, so much in pain that she had to do something.
“STOP IT!” she screamed.
The Dark Lord paid no mind, but the Death eaters around her began to whisper. Feeling a rush of adrenaline kick in, she grabbed her wand from her pocket, ran up close to him, and aimed. “Expelliarmus!”
His wand flew a good ten feet away from him and he spun to look at her. She lowered her wand slowly, wanting him to know that it was her who stopped him. His eyes narrowed and he glided quickly over to her, stopping an inch away, so close that she could feel his breath on her as she turned up to face him. His red eyes were flaring as he spoke, “Hermione what did you just do?”
“I stopped you from killing Harry.”
“Its Harry now, is it?” He asked viciously, “And why may I ask did you make such a mistake?”
“It wasn't a mistake.” She said flatly. She looked over where Harry was lying stiff on the ground, eyes closed lightly and breathing raggedly.
He followed her eyes and turned back with an amused look on his face. It looked almost alike to pity. “Aww… you've fallen in love with him. How disturbing. You really were a promising talent. Too bad I have to get rid of you.” Hermione's eyes narrowed just before he shouted it. “CRUCIO!”
He didn't even bother teasing her. The curse hit her full blow and she collapsed to the ground. The pain worked its way through her body, making each individual muscle throb with piercing pain. She didn't even bother masking the screams. She had no reason to. He could have all the satisfaction he wanted, she really could care less. The pain was all she could focus on anyway. It felt as though her insides were on fire. She twisted and turned, trying to find a way out of the pain. Not once in her career as a Death Eater in training had she been put under the Cruciatus curse. And now she knew why. He wanted to keep her in pristine condition so that he could continue to use her.
Another wave of pain came and she let out an ear piercing scream. She clutched her stomach and curled up in a ball. It didn't ease the pain but at least she would be taken away from this word the same position she came in. It felt like forever that she was under the constant pain. She wanted to be dead already so that she could be relieved. She begged for it, pleaded for it, screamed for it. But her body was strong and wouldn't listen.
She didn't know how much time had passed when she began to see flashes of her life before her eyes. They came steadily at first, starting from her fourth birthday and being forced into a frilly salmon dress. The first time she and Draco had kissed, had sex, made each other laugh. The first book she read, the first textbook she found, the first spell she had cast. When she moved into the Riddle Mansion and how scared yet excited she was. The first duel she had won, which happened to be the first she had ever been challenged to. But the ones that shined the most out of her memories were the ones she had as soon as she had pulled up to Hogwarts. How kind Ginny had been to her, how Ron never failed to make her laugh, and especially how Harry made her stomach twist into uncomfortable yet pleasurable knots. Oh, Harry. He shined brighter than them all. He was the person who changed her for the better, who made her feel alive for the first time. The boy she loved. The only regret of her giving into death was to never see his face again.
Her vision began to get fuzzy as the pain stopped. She knew he had lifted the curse but the weight of death was heavy upon her shoulders. He had held the curse long enough to destroy her. She coughed and saw that it was blood red. Her ears had a faint ringing in them and because of that she couldn't hear the gravel move around her as Harry crawled over to her. He had much more strength than she and picked up her head to set in his lap. His face came into her sight, moving in and out of focus. He had fresh tears running down his face and a few fell on her cheeks. He opened his mouth to speak but she shook her head; which turned out to be a bad idea as she quickly vomited on his jeans. She could feel the remnants on her chin but her arm had gone numb. She knew she had only moments left and could feel herself begin to leave. She might as well say it now so that he knew. He deserved to know.
“Harry…” He leaned closer, for her voice was quieter than a whisper and heavy with weakness. “Harry… you n-need to know that I… I l-love you too.”
She could hear him begin to sob and chant something, shaking her, trying to keep her with him. But it was too late. She gave into the white light.
A/N: Thank you for all of your awesome reviews! I'm glad you all are so fond of this story :) I hope that this chapter was filled with enough Voldy-action for those that were asking for it.
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