Chapter 4 : Potions, Presents and Protection
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"You are going to protect them after what they did?" Harry exclaimed in a whisper. "How can you do that to Hermione? You know that they hurt her and your going to have them here?!? HOW CAN YOU DO THAT!!!" His voice getting louder and louder until he was screaming. He was shaking in his rage and the uncontrolled magic he felt turned his eyes black. "I WON'T HAVE IT! THEY DON'T DESERVE HELP!!! THEY CAUSED THEIR OWN PROBLEMS! LET THEM DIE!!! I DON'T CARE!!" Bottles around the room started to explode, raining glass down among the two people in the room. Molly pressed her back against the wall, wishing that there was something she could do to calm Harry down. She took a couple of steps towards him until she felt an invisible wall stop her in her tracks.
"Harry, you have to calm down. Draco helped her escape, we have to help him. You know this. What good is it to be on the right side of this war if we don't help the ones who need it most?" Molly said, wringing her hands. She had never been scared of anything before, a true Gryffindor to the core, but she was scared now. Scared what Harry would do with is uncontrolled magic. She looked to the door as it burst open and two figures ran into the room. Ginny ran right to Harry, wrapping her arms around his and kissing his face. He slowly unclenched his hands and brought his arms around her and held onto her like he was never going to let her go. His body started to shake again, this time with tears and not magic or rage. Ron ran over to his mother and led her out of the room, trusting Harry not to hurt Ginny and trusting Ginny to calm Harry down before Hermione came downstairs.
"Harry love, let's go on a walk. We don't want to wake Hermione. She needs to rest." Ginny slowly pulled away from Harry and took his hand, guiding him outside. She led him to a worn bench set in the garden and gently pushed him down on it. She sat next to him, holding his hands in hers, waiting for him to start explaining what he was yelling about.
"Ginny, they are letting Malfoy here, in this house, with his mother to protect them. After what they did..."
"Oh my love, Draco is part of the Order, of course they are going to help him. They won't turn on of their own away. We just have to protect Hermione while they are here." Ginny replied practically. "So what if his mother is here too, she can't be all bad. Mum and her were friends in school, even though they were in different houses. The Prewitts and the Blacks were friends."
Harry rested his head on Ginny's shoulder and sighed. In his heart, he knew that they had to help them, but he didn't want to. He wanted to curse them into oblivion for hurting Hermione. With a start, he realized he hadn't even seen her yet.
"Ginny, where's Hermione? I need to see her. To make sure she's okay." Harry asked quietly, the care and concern for his best friend in his voice.
"She's upstairs in my room--" Harry jumped up at those words and ran inside, leaving Ginny on the bench talking to herself, "--but mum wants her to be left alone." Ginny finished her sentence and slowly got up and went inside. This day wasn't turning out the way it was suppose to.
Hermione was awake. She looked around her surroundings, noticing the little things around Ginny's room that had changed since last time she had been there. There was a picture of Harry and Ginny on her nightstand that had been taken earlier that summer here at the burrow. Hermione could make out Ron and herself in the background, sitting under a tree, sharing kisses and shy smiles at each other. There was another of all four of them together stand in front of the Hogwarts express, the boys standing behind the girls with their arms around them, smiling and waving at the camera and sharing a kiss or two. She sighed as she sat back, holding the last picture in her hands. She gave a slight smile at the people in the picture, wishing there was a way she could go back in time and warn them that this summer wasn't going to be wonderful like they had planned on the way home from school. She was safe now, she had to remember that. It all seemed surreal, the way she woke up in the woods outside the burrow and how her wand was there. The question was how was her wand there? She didn't have it when she was captured. She jumped up from her bed, and ran to the door. As she got to it and reach to open it, it burst open and there stood Harry. With a cry of happiness she stepped into his arms, finally feeling safe.
"Happy birthday Harry." She whispered into his chest as her tears started to fall again. She pulled away just a little so she could look at him better. She could see the dark circles under his eyes he tried to hide and the worry lines open his brow. "I'm back Harry and I'm safe. No more worries. They can't get me now."
With those words, Harry took a step back and held Hermione at arms leagth. He looked down at her seen the concern in her eyes. He closed his eyes and pulled her into another tight hug. He couldn't believe how frail and broken she looked. Her eyes looked sunken into her face, her cheekbones sticking out prominently from her face. She had always been thin, but she had a half starved look to her and her once bight eyes where dim and had a scared look to them. Her once busy hair was limp and hung in clumps around her head, the color no longer a honey brown, but almost black with the filth and blood that still needed to be washed away. He looked around the room over her head and noticed numerous potion bottles sitting on the little table next to her bed and the picture of the four of them from the school year's end laying on the bed. He let her go and stood away from her a little bit. The shock of seeing her again was starting to wear off, and with it, he noticed the things that couldn't be broken in her. She still stood straight and held her head high, brave even in front of her best friend, trying not to show how scared and hurt she was.
"Why don't you get washed up and join us downstairs? We actually have something to celebrate now. I'm so happy you are back." With those words, Harry turned and left the room, Hermione staring after him.
After a long shower, Hermione was feeling strong enough to face all the questions she knew was waiting for her downstairs. With a final flick of her wand, her hair was dried and she headed downstairs. As she went down the final set of stairs, she heard voices coming from Arthur's study. She crept closer, intent on hearing what was being said without her presence known.
"--and so after tonight, we will move them to Grimwauld Place until an appropriate safe house can be set up for them outside the country. It's the least we can do for him returning Hermione to us." Hermione recognized the voice, but could not quite place it.
"NO! That's unacceptable! We should protect them like that! Let them sit in Azkaban, they'll be safe and not a treat to her anymore. We can't trust them! How do you know that this isn't a trick to find out where our headquarters are? It seems like it to me! And how do you even know it really is Hermione? It could be someone under the polyjuice potion. Has she been tested yet?" Hermione knew that voice. What she didn't understand why Harry was saying those things about her. And who where they talking about? With those thoughts, she burst into the room, startling everyone in the room.
"Who are you talking about? What do you know about what happened? Is it Draco?" That last part coming out as a whisper. Everyone's head had snapped to her when she had entered and now looks of shock were on everyone's faces.
"Why were you listening outside doors little girl? Come to spy on us? Going to bring back this info to you lord? We don't need your type around here." Moody hissed and spat at her.
Hermione took a step back with a look of shock and anger on her face. She looked around the room and noticed that a lot of the Order wouldn't look at her, instead adverting their gaze to look at nothing in particular. An uncomfortable silence settled in the room. Ron stood up and went over to Hermione and wrapped his arms around her, glaring at everyone in the room.
"Is that what everyone thinks? That I would be a spy for him? After everything I've been through! I would never do that!" Hermione exclaimed with tears running down her face. "All I have wish for was to come back to my family and friends and you would believe me to have turned to the dark side? How could you? You know me!!"
"It's not that we don't believe you have turned bad, we just have no proof who you really are. Can you prove you are Miss Granger and not a spy sent to us do retrieve information for Voldemort?" Dumbledore said as he stood up and walked towards the two people standing by the door. "If you would come with me Miss Granger, we can have this sorting out in just a few minutes." He stopped in the doorway and looked over, "Of course you will join us Mr. Weasley and you also Mr. Potter. Miss Granger has been through a trauma and it would be best if the ones closest to her were there for her for this." Dumbledore left the room and headed for the parlour on the other side of the house, Hermione and Ron following closely behind.
Harry looked up from the table and glanced at the others sitting around it. He took off his glasses and ran his hands across his face face before he too stood up.
"We'll discuss this matter later. You have my thoughts on the subject." Harry said, and he too walked out of the room. The remaining people looked around at each other, shocked by Harry's words. Never had he acted like he was the leader of the Order and it did not sit well with may of the members present.
"I, for one, believe that Potter has gotten to big for his britches. I say we take our vote now. We don't need a little brat telling us what to do." Severus said with a sneer.
After a few minutes of deliberating, the vote came back to help the Malfoys. The members of the Order that weren't staying for Harry's party got up and quickly left the house, not wanting to be around Harry once he found out their decision.
In the parlour, Hermione took a seat next to the fireplace, enjoying the heat coming from it. Ron stood behind her with his hands on her shoulders and Harry took a seat on the couch across from them. Dumbledore looked at her and sighed. He knew what he had to do wouldn't be pleasant, but it was necessary. He took his glasses off to rub his eyes before he replaced them.
"Miss Granger, I'm going to have to give you some veritaserum and ask you some personal questions. I have had Mr. Weasley and Mr. Potter join us so they can tell me if your answers are from an imposter. I am very sorry to have to put you through this." Dumbledore reached into his pocket and pulled out a vial of clear liquid and handed it to her. "If you would please drink this it will be much easier for all of us."
"Why wouldn't I drink it? I want to prove myself so that things can go back to normal!" Hermione said as she grabbed the vial and downed the contents. Her entire body shook as the potion took affect. Now it was time for the questions to start.
"Who are you?"
"Hermione Jean Granger."
"When were you born?"
"September 19, 1979."
"Who are your parents?"
"Jane and Scott Granger."
"How did you get through your course schedule in your third year?"
I received a time turner from Professor McGonagall on the first day that enable me to repeat hours everyday."
On and on the questions went until Dumbledore was finally satisfied that Hermione was who she claimed to be. He pulled out another vial of potion, this time it was bright blue in color. He handed it to Hermione.
"This is a counter-potion for the veritaserum. You may take it after one final question. Are you a spy for Voldemort?" Dumbledore asked, hoping the answer would be the one he wanted.
"No, I am not." Hermione replied, and afterwards took the stopper out of the vial and downed yet another potion. This one tasted like spearmint and she felt the numbness that the other potion created wear off. She blinked her eyes a few times and settled her gaze on Harry. The look on his face now that he was sure it really was her was one of relief. He stood up and smiled. He started to walk towards her but she put up a hand to stop him.
"Look Harry, I'm sorry, but I just don't want you around me right now. I need a little space and time. You should have trusted me." With those words, Hermione stood up and left the room.
"I told you it was her. I know my girl anywhere. Give her a little bit mate, she'll come around. I'm going to go and find her. I don't want her to be alone." Ron said and he left the room also.
Harry looked over at Dumbledore and sighed. He ran his hand through his hair and stood up. As he went to leave the room, Dumbledore stopped him by resting a hand on his shoulder,
"Harry we must remember to trust the ones closest to us. Discord is what Voldemort wants to create within our group. A house divided will fail and we must not fail. The fate of the wizarding world rest upon our heads." Dumbledore said quietly. With a couple pat on Harry shoulder, he left the room too. Harry stood there, lost in his own thoughts.
The atmosphere at the Burrow had definitely gotten better since Hermione's appearance and it finally was time to celebrate Harry's birthday and Hermione's return. Everyone was gathered outside at the tables set up for the party. People were laughing and having a good time. Harry sat at the main table surrounded by his friends and had a pile of gifts in front of him. The cake Molly had made for him was placed on it's own table, a three-layer creation covered in red frosting and golden snitches. Hermione sat next to Harry with Ron close to her side. She was lost in her own thoughts and was brought back to the present by someone calling her name.
"Hermione, is everything okay? You look so sad and lost." Harry said quietly. "I'm so sorry that I doubted you. I just had to be sure, you know?" Harry waited while Hermione took in his words.
"I know Harry, I'm sorry too that I jumped down your throat about it. I know them measures we have to take to be safe, I just wished you had talked to me about it first before you brought it up to in a meeting." Hermione finally replied after a couple of minutes of silence. "I'm so happy to be back here again with all of you. I just want to forget and put everything that has happened behind me."
"So, friends again?" Harry said with a little smile on his lips.
"We never stopped. Happy Birthday Harry." Hermione leaned over and gave him a hug and a light kiss on his cheek. "Now, let's party!" She exclaimed with a laugh. Harry and Ron laughed too and turned to the big pile of gifts on the table.
After all the gifts were opened and all the food eaten and the toasts said, the party was winding down. Most of the people had left, and the few that were still there were feeling the affects of all the fire whiskey and champagne that was consumed. The sun was setting in the background, casting a rose colored glow upon everything. Harry, Ron and Hermione were lounging against their favorite tree close to the pond on the Weasley's land watching the sun set and just enjoying each other's company when two figures were seen in the distance slowly walking towards the Burrow. The trio stood up and waited for the new arrivals to get closer. As they did, the trio could make out that they both had light blonde hair and they both were carrying bags in both of their hands. Harry and Ron both tensed when they realized who they were seeing coming towards them. Hermione's reaction was totally different. She jumped up and ran towards to couple.
"Draco! Oh Draco you are here! I was so scared he was going to kill you!" Hermione ran right into Draco's arms and clung to him.
"Hermione! You're safe! I'm so relieved! I wasn't sure if that spell would work!" Draco whispered, closing his arms around her holding her close. His kissed the top of her head and closed his eyes, savoring the smell of her and the feeling of her in his arms.
"Release my girlfriend Malfoy before I curse you into next week! Get your dirty hands off of her." Ron yelled, pulling out his wand and pointing it at Draco. Narcissa drew her wand also and pointed it at Ron. Harry rushed between both of them and pushed both wands down with his hands.
"There will be no dueling here tonight. We need to get inside where we can talk and not be overheard. You have asked for our help, not the other way around, so never raise your wand at us again." Harry spit out and turned towards the house, grabbing Ron and turned towards the house. "Are you coming or not?"
With that he turned his back and walked towards the Burrow, not looking back to see if anyone followed. Hermione tucked herself closer to Draco and with Narcissa, followed Harry to the Burrow not looking back once at her boyfriend that she left under the tree.
The Malfoy's have arrived.
A/N: Howdy everyone! Here's another chapter for you! Thank you to everyone that has reviewed my story!! This one is a little long, and I think most of the chapters from here out will be fairly long. Any advice or ideas that you would like to happen I'll be happy to look at, just leave me a little message in the box below! Until next time, Happy Reading! ~Jess
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