Chapter 9 : There's Something In The Wind
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Just as suddenly as the uncomfortable sensation of apparition stole their breath, it was over and all three had their feet planted firmly on the ground within minutes. Once the dizziness disappeared, Harry could see their destination fully. They had landed in a corner of a quiet neighborhood. By the looks of the normal, typical suburban houses, he was sure they were in some muggle neighborhood. It looked to belong to people of the same status as those in Privet Drive. Yet, the neighborhood seemed much more warm and welcoming than Privet Drive could ever be. The yards of the houses had signs of children living there, unlike the pristine and OCD clean yards of Privet Drive.
“Where are we?” Harry heard Ron asking.
“My old neighborhood.” Hermione answered, devoid of any emotion.
“Okay…is there a reason we apparated here instead of say Diagon Alley?” Ron demanded.
“You really don’t have a clue do you?” Hermione asked him in disbelief.
“About what?” Ron asked.
“Not, here…I’ll explain somewhere safer.” said Hermione looking around nervously.
“You mean Diagon Alley.” said Ron smartly.
“Ron.” Harry muttered in a warning tone.
Hermione had not even heard Ron’s cheeky remark. She was busy looking around and walking briskly leaving the boys to half run to catch up. Eventually she stopped before a moss covered house.
“So…” Ron said.
“This is my house.” Hermione said, nodding to the house.
“Hermione, I don’t mean to be rude…well any ruder than I have been thus far but…do you really think this is the time to invite us over?” Ron asked.
“Just get inside.” said Hermione in her bossy manner.
Ron and Harry walked in through the gate and up the winding path to the cement stairs in front of the door. They watched as Hermione took out her wand and muttered a series of unknown spells before she joined them.
“Protection charms” said Hermione answering the quizzical look on their faces. “Come in.”
Hermione opened the door and led them to the living room. It was obvious no one had been there in weeks as Harry was sure that Hermione’s house would never be as dusty as it was right now.
“I brought us here because I heard Mr. Weasley say that things in the wizarding world are much worse than the Daily Prophet is reporting.” Hermione explained. “The Death Eaters have much more control than people realize. Diagon Alley is completely in their hands.”
“How come dad never told me anything?” Ron asked a little hurt.
“Well, your mum was already concerned about the fact we were leaving, she probably told him to keep all the juicy information we’d want to know, to himself.” Hermione said reasonably.
“Yeah, sounds about right.” said Ron bitterly.
“Hermione,” said Harry sheepishly. “Where are your parents?”
Hermione gave Harry a small smile. Not to reassure him, but to keep herself in check. She was already feeling emotional being there, she did not want to make matters worse by crying in front of them. This was not the time to be a blubbering mess.
“Now that you’re both here, I think it’s time I tell you just how much I’ve been preparing for…the journey ahead.” said Hermione uneasily.
Harry and Ron observed as she paced back and forth, gathering the strength she needed to speak again. It had to be something serious for her to stall so much.
“Before going to Privet Drive, I made the decision to alter my parents’ memories.” she said finally.
“What?!” said Harry outrageously.
“I thought about it ever since I left Hogwarts this summer.” She said uneasily. “It was the only option I had.”
Harry felt his guilt slowly returning. Hermione had given up her parents memories in order to accompany him. He felt mediocre. Just a few days ago he was willing to walk to his death, out of cowardice. He wanted an out. He just wanted it to stop. And here was his friend, who had enough faith in him to follow him in spite of the fact that she would most certainly be facing death. Not only that, but she had sacrificed her family. What could she possibly see in him? Why did she think he was worth it? How could she be so dedicated?
“Why did you do that?” Harry asked, amazed.
“Well, before you start taking responsibility for this,” she said reading his mind. “I did this for my own peace of mind. Unfortunately, I’ve spoken about you quite a lot to them…I know Voldemort has a knack for taking people for information. The choice was clear.”
“Wow. That’s really admirable.” said Ron looking at Hermione.
“You’ve got this all thought out don’t you?” Harry asked her.
Hermione could only nod. She felt a relief in finally telling her friends, yet it didn’t make it any less painful. The image she had of modifying her family’s memory was still fresh in her mind, and was sure it would always be.
“Yeah…so we should all probably change.” said Hermione changing the subject.
“Into what, your dad’s clothes?” Ron asked nervously.
“No! You really do have a problem with short term memory don’t you Ron?” Hermione said incredulously, smiling despite the situation.
“Not that I know of.” Ron said.
Hermione rolled her eyes as she plunged her hand deep into her beaded bag, going deeper than it went from the outside.
“What the—”Ron exclaimed.
“Here, I packed all of your clothes.” said Hermione throwing each boy their outfit. “There’s a bathroom at the end of the hall you can use.”
“I’m going to change in my bedroom.” She added.
She closed up her bag and went up the stairs, carrying her change of clothes in her other hand. She felt a myriad of emotions as she went up the stairs and to her all too familiar hallway. The walls still had pictures hung up on them, with no trace of her existence. The spell had worked so well, that it had erased her entire history. It was if she didn’t exist. That was a pain that would take forever to get used to. Once she got into her bedroom, the full force of her spell really hit her. At the time she had formatted her parent’s memory, she had been all packed and ready to go. She had not seen the transformation her room had gone through. The wall color was about the only thing that had remained the same. Everything else that had once belonged to her was gone. All the pictures that she hadn’t packed were gone, as were her childhood books. Any proof that the Grangers had ever had a child was gone. The room was vacant and empty, with only a bed and an empty wardrobe within it. Hermione drew the curtains closed as she proceeded to change her clothes. Tears dripped unwillingly down her face and unto the carpeted floor. Even feeling as miserable as she did, she willed herself to snap back to reality. Her parents were at least safe. There was no way Voldemort could track them where they were. The main concern now was Harry.
Once she was done, Hermione walked back to her window and peeked through the blinds. Her heart skipped a beat as she saw two hooded figures looking up and around the house. Death Eaters.
With a shaky breath, she stashed her formal dress back into her bag and raced back downstairs.
“They’re here.” Hermione whispered urgently.
“Who’s here?” Ron asked in alarm.
“The Death Eaters.” said Hermione, her eyes wide open.
Harry instinctively withdrew his wand from his jean pocket, as did Ron.
“We’ve got to get out before they come in.” said Hermione frantically.
“I want to kick some death eater arse!” said Ron bravely.
“Ron no, there’s plenty of time for that later.” said Hermione nervously. “We’ve got to leave now.”
“Didn’t you put up protective charms?” Harry asked.
“Yes, but I didn’t put them up too strongly, I really didn’t think they would come here.” Hermione explained.
“But where are we going to go?” Ron asked. “Back to the Burrow?”
“No…I’m thinking maybe we should just go to Grimmauld Place.” said Harry.
“What?!” Hermione cried outrageously. “Harry, Snape could—”
“It’s protected against Snape.” Harry blurted.
“How do you know?” Hermione asked.
“You’re not the only one who used extendable ears for information.” Harry smirked mischievously.
“Sorry to break up your little chat, but need I remind you there are Death Eaters right outside?” Ron interrupted.
“Right, well come on.” said Hermione outstretching both her hands.
The boys took a hold of each arm and closed their eyes in anticipation of the unpleasant sensation that usually followed. After a few tense moments, they opened their eyes, confused at why they had not moved.
“What’s wrong?” Harry asked.
“I can’t concentrate.” said Hermione frantically.
“What?!” Ron exclaimed. “You can’t be serious…”
“You do it then if you’re so focused” Hermione spat back.
“Guys, this really isn’t the time.” Harry said fretfully. “Hermione, come on just try a little harder.”
Hermione nodded and closed her eyes.
Then, they felt the sudden familiar pull. However, it was much shorter than they had expected, once they opened there eyes, they could see why. Hermione had apparated them merely a few houses down. They scurried behind some bushes to conceal themselves. Somehow the Death Eater’s had broken Hermione’s protection spells and busted through the gate. One death eater walked toward the door while the other, pulled out his wand and raised it to the sky.
“Mosmorde!” he yelled.
With a gasp, Hermione watched as stream of smoke went upwards and formed into the Death Eater’s malicious logo: the Dark Mark.
“Let’s go!” said Ron urgently.
Harry realized that Hermione was in no state to apparate them herself. He grabbed her hand and Ron’s and focused onto their destination until he felt the unpleasant feeling once more. After a few revolting minutes, they found the familiar front of Grimmauld Place. Instinctively they looked around, after the surprise they had had at Hermione’s house, there was even more reason to keep their guard up. Once they made sure they were not being followed, they got underneath Harry’s invisibility cloak, which had been placed in Hermione’s bag unbeknownst to Harry. Slowly, they made their way up the steps of number 12, which had sprouted up as soon as they had apparated. Harry knocked on the door once, which signaled the many locks to unclick and open the door. Once inside, the lamps spring to life in an eerie welcome. As one, they walked down the narrow hallway lined with house-elf heads on the wall. Grimmauld had never been a warm and friendly face from what Harry could remember, but there was certainly an ominous feeling this time that hadn’t been there the last time he was there. As they came out of the hallway, a pile of dust swirled up into the air shifted into a familiar form.
Harry felt his insides shrivel with a mixture of fear and hurt as he realized one of the jinxes against Snape, was a dusty, ghost-like form of Dumbledore. Behind him he heard Hermione scream with fear and Ron yell. The form vanished instantly, much to the trio’s pleasure.
“That was horrible.” Hermione said shakily.
Somewhere in the room, Mrs. Black’s painting had been awoken by the screams and could be heard screaming obscenities. Harry rounded to the directions of the yells and shut the portrait with a few red sparks from his wand.
“Do you think anything else is going to spring up?” Ron asked as both he and Hermione joined Harry.
“I’ll check.” said Hermione whipping out her wand. “Homenum Revelio.”
“Well?” Ron asked after a few minutes.
“We’re alone.” Hermione said gravely.
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