Thursday morning, December 3rd, Hermione woke up to the sounds of her door being blown apart – splintering wood clamoring against the stone wall, the metal handle of the door thumping against the ground. She screamed of her own free will before her mind had even processed what was happening.
“We have to go.”
Hermione rubbed her eyes, heart racing, as she pulled the covers back and dangled her legs over the bed. “Draco?”
A month ago had been the start of what Hermione was referring to as a “budding friendship”, though it was easier said than done. She had started calling Malfoy by his first name and he had done the same to her, but around their peers they had made sure to act as if nothing was different. Hermione was still trying to get over Blaise, and while kissing Draco had been nice, she knew there was no way the school would accept their friendship like they had with Mr. Zabini. The change she enjoyed most of all was being back around the Gryffindor’s – since her talk with Ginny the day after the Masquerade things had pretty much gone back to normal – Ron, on the other hand, was still trying to get over her “treachery”.
“Come on, we have to go now.”
Hermione yawned and stood up, blinking away sleep as Draco draped his Slytherin robes over her and dropped her slippers at her feet. “What’s going on? It can’t be time to get up yet, let me go back to sleeeeep.”
“The Forbidden Forest is on fire, this isn’t time for sleeping!”
Could she have heard that right? “What did you say?”
Draco rolled his eyes and grabbed her arm, pulling her after him. “Just hurry up!”
Hermione practically had to run to keep up with Draco’s jog, his legs were so long, and the further they ventured down the hallways, the more students they saw. The majority were in their pajamas still, unsure of what was going on, but the fact that something was happening was enough to get them walking around out of their uniforms. In the distance Hermione could hear cries and shouts, they sounded mostly like teachers if not the older students, but it wasn’t until Draco had dragged her up to the Astronomy Tower did she see what was really happening. She stood rooted to the windows near the door to the outside ledges alone with him and unbelieving of what she was looking at.
The whole of the Forbidden Forest, all the ancient trees and the snow covered grass surrounding it, was ablaze in the middle of falling snow. “Fire and ice,” she whispered.
Draco looked down at her. “Now’s not the time to comment on us,” he mumbled back.
Hermione opened her mouth to tell him she was talking about the inferno, but bit her tongue as students began crowding around them, cutting off their privacy.
“Hermione? Is that you?”
The crowd parted easily as Harry made his way through with Ginny at his heels. He was covered in dirt and bleeding slightly from his lip as he enveloped Hermione in a hug. Ginny wrung her hands together as she gazed out the window.
“Are you ok ‘Mione?”
She nodded at Ginny as Harry released her and looked her up down. “I’m fine. What’s,”
“Are those Slytherin robes?”
Hermione glanced down and froze. “Uhh…”
“So you have my robe?” The three looked up at Draco who had stepped closer to them. “Don’t you look before you grab things?”
Harry glared at him. “It’s not like she grabbed it on purpose, right Hermione?”
Hermione nodded and glanced at Draco who just shrugged. “You might as well keep it, I can’t wear it now.”
Ginny wrapped her hands around Hermione. “Harry, come on, we have to go.”
Harry squared his shoulders and put his hand behind Ginny’s back, giving her a slight nudge forward. “You’re right Gin, let’s go see how Ron is.”
“Ron? What happened?” Hermione looked back and forth between her two friends as they made their way out of the Astronomy Tower.
“He was with Harry in the forest,”
“You two were there?!”
Harry nodded and picked up his pace as they hurried down the corridors to the Hospital Wing. “I think he broke his arm.”
Hermione swallowed loudly and jogged to catch up with Harry’s long strides as they came upon the doors to the Hospital Wing. Ginny threw the heavy doors open with ease and ran inside, followed quickly by Harry. Hermione began to cross the threshold but stopped when she heard her name being called out. Turning, she saw Draco approaching quickly, a look of confusion and need on his face.
“What are you-,”
“HERMIONE! I LOVE,”
It was all black.
Hermione sat up in bed, heart beating fast, a scream stuck in her throat. It was just a dream… It had felt so real that she had been positive it was happening; she had felt the soft cloth of Draco’s robe and felt the panic in Harry as he hugged her to his chest. If none of that was true, then what day was it? What was going on?
The alarm clock next to her bed began chiming, signaling it was time to get up. In a daze Hermione threw the covers off of her bare legs, now covered in goosebumps from the cold chill that overtook the castle near the end of October, and went through her morning routines lost in thought about the dream she had just had. She had a calendar hanging above her desk but made no move to check it as she walked past it and down the stairs into the common room. The fireplace was lit and lounging on the couch opposite it, not dressed and ready for class, was Draco Malfoy.
She glanced at him casually as she walked behind his couch. “Skipping class today?”
He shook his head. “It’s Saturday.”
It’s Saturday? “Very funny.”
Draco sat up and turned to look at her. “I know it’s been rough for you, but can’t you at least remember what day it is?”
Something was very wrong. “…what’s been rough?”
He stared at her intently for a few moments. “You… Don’t remember?”
“Do you really not know what today is?”
Hermione shook her head, the nervous feeling in her stomach now spreading throughout her body. “What’s going on?”
Draco stood up and walked around the couch, touching the back of his hand to her forehead. “You don’t have a fever anymore,” he paused and checked her pulse on her throat, “…and your pulse seems fine. Maybe it’s the after affect…”
“After affect? What the hell are you going on about?”
He shook his head and began heading toward the portrait hole. “Let’s go.”
“Go? Go where? Don’t just walk away from me!”
“I have to take you to see McGonagall, she told me to bring you to her if you couldn’t remember on your own.”
Hermione’s face fell. What was so serious that she had to go see Professor McGonagall? What had happened? “But…”
Draco turned around and offered a small smile. “It’s ok Hermione, you’ll be fine.”
She gulped and nodded because she wasn’t sure how to respond since she had no idea what was going on. Numbly she followed Draco out of the portrait hole and down the drafty corridors towards McGonagall’s office still in her school uniform. Professor McGonagall liked to be near her students and so her office was located in the same hallway as the Fat Lady’s portrait in Gryffindor Tower. Hermione had been there many times, sometimes in trouble and sometimes just for help, but as she approached the door this time she had an empty feeling in the pit of her stomach.
Draco stopped outside the door and nodded his head towards it. “I can wait for you, if you want.”
Hermione wrung her hands together. “We were at the library yesterday, right? Doing homework?”
He gave her a blank look.
“Draco, please,” she whispered. “That was yesterday, wasn’t it? And the night before… We…”
At least she could remember that. “Yes… That all happened, that just happened, right?”
Draco’s eyes softened. “That happened weeks ago. It’s already the end of November.”
“Ah, Ms. Granger.”
Hermione toward Professor McGonagall. When had she opened the door? “Professor, I’m so con-,”
“Please come in, Ms. Granger. We have a lot to talk about.” Hermione nodded. “And Mr. Malfoy, you may go back to your dormitory. Thank you for your assistance.”
Draco nodded. “I told Hermione I’d wait for her.”
Professor McGonagall raised her eyebrow as she shuffled Hermione inside. “Very well.”
Hermione glanced at him before disappearing into her Head of House’s office. McGonagall closed the door behind them gently as Hermione looked around the familiar setting hoping it would make her feel more at ease, but it didn’t. While trying to calm down, she sat down in the cushioned chair in front of the desk and pulled her legs up underneath her. “Professor, what’s going on? Why can’t I remember anything? How has so much time passed?”
Minerva McGonagall had always tried to be a motherly figure, though a strict one, to the students of Gryffindor house since she had never had children of her own. She was a firm believer that teachers were some of the strongest influences in your life and she wanted to set the best example she possibly could. It was well known that her door was always open if you needed anything from homework help to advice or just someone to listen, and she liked it that way. The Golden Trio in particular – Harry, Ron and Hermione – were her greatest challenge as well as her dearest students. She had been there the night Dumbledore had dropped Harry off on the doorstep of Vernon Dursley and his family, had given him his first broom and had always encouraged him to do his best. All of the teachers had been made aware of what a big burden was on the young man’s shoulders, even though it was quite obvious. All Minerva McGonagall wanted to do was help the three teenagers cope and get through the impending war as easily as she could, but to be honest, the thought of such young people having to fight chilled her to the bone.
She sighed and rested her eyes on Hermione. “Do you remember anything at all Ms. Granger?”
Hermione shook her head and looked down, concentrating hard on careful words. “Was I… Cursed, Professor?”
Professor McGonagall exhaled loudly. “You’ve always been so bright.”
Hermione’s eyes grew. “I wa-,”
“We can’t say for sure if you were.”
Hermione sunk into her chair. “If you don’t mind me being so frank but, how in the world could you let a student get cursed while at Hogwarts!?”
The Transfiguration teacher adjusted her small glasses and pursed her lips. “You weren’t at school Ms. Granger, you disappeared.”
What? “I’m sorry, it sounded like you said I disappeared! But that’s,”
Hermione’s mouth fell open before she regained composure and leaned forward in her chair. “I… What do… This…”
Professor McGonagall clasped her hands together and sighed. “I know this all very confusing for you. Would you like a glass of water? Or perhaps pumpkin juice? I can explain to you all that we know, but you should know there are gaps that only you can fill.”
“How can I fill the gaps if I can’t remember anything?”
“The Headmaster and I, along with your other teachers, hope that talking about what we do know will help jog your memory to fill in the missing pieces. It will by no means be an easy process, but it’s crucial that we try as hard as we can.” Hermione nodded. “Water or pumpkin juice?”
Hermione pointed feebly at the water jug and accepted the goblet once it was full. “Professor… Does this have anything to do with,” she gulped, “Voldemort?”
McGonagall set down her goblet, now full of pumpkin juice, and looked at Hermione dead in the eyes. “You’ve known, since the conception of your friendship with Mr. Potter, that someday you would be a target. As for the matter at hand, we can’t say one way or another if it does or does not involve You-Know-Who. All we can do is examine that facts we have and hopefully make sense of the things we do not know presently.”
Hermione nodded weakly.
“What is the last thing you remember?”
Kissing… “Um, waking up the morning after the Masquerade.”
“What did you do after you woke up?”
Panicked about kissing… “Um, I was feeling a bit under the weather so I took a hot shower,” she blushed, “and then changed and went to the library with Dr-, I mean Malfoy. We both had homework to do.”
“You and Mr. Malfoy went together?”
“We didn’t, you know, go together, but, well, we went to the library… Together…?”
Professor McGonagall arched one of her perfectly kept eyebrows. “So you went to the library. Do you remember the rest of that day?”
Hermione pursed her lips together and thought about it. Her and Draco had talked about Ginny and finished their homework, afterwards she went to lunch and he went to Quidditch practice. She had spent the rest of the day trying to get ahead in her studies and cleaning up the common room as well as her bedroom, anything to keep her mind off of the kiss the night before. As promised, Hermione sat with Ginny and the others at dinner and listened politely to their conversation but didn’t really talk much herself. When Draco finally returned to the Head’s dorm after dinner, he did his homework at the table while she read a book on the couch. He went to bed early, after awkwardly bidding her goodnight, and she went to bed shortly after.
“Do you remember that week?”
“I…” Do I remember anything? “I think… I went to class on Monday.”
Professor McGonagall nodded.
“But I don’t think I was in classes all day… I can’t remember going to any of my afternoon classes.”
“Because you didn’t, Ms. Granger.”
Hermione scrunched her eyes together. “I’m sorry to disagree with you, but I don’t skip cl-,”
“Do you remember going to see Professor Dumbledore?”
I saw Professor Dumbledore? Did I… Oh, yes, I left lunch early to see him. He sent an owl asking me to come to his office at my earliest convenience. The password was ‘chocolate cockroaches’ and Fawkes was there, still very small, probably newly reborn from the ashes. We talked about… “I don’t remember what we talked about…”
McGonagall sighed. “Your father was reported missing, Ms. Granger.”
I’m soooooooooooooooo sorry it took forever to get this chapter up but I hope you liked it nonetheless!