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Behind These Castle Walls by If Only
Chapter 3 : Break Through
 
Rating: MatureChapter Reviews: 1


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 Hermione’s body was engulfed in a tight sensation. She felt somewhat like she was being squeezed through a tight and extremely dark tube of some sort, and with every second, the tube decided to get even tighter and darker, harshly squeezing out any oxygen that she had left in her lungs. She tried to gasp, desperately commanding some air to flow into her lungs so that she could breathe once again, but the air did not come and she was left, gaping as if a surfaced fish on grass, just inches away from the water. The air sat around her as if tantalizing her and teasing her with unspoken words, telling her that they would not succumb to her demand, but disobey her. She tried again, and failed again, this was the last of it, she had nothing left in her, she felt light headed and unsteady and then ---

With a crack like sound, Hermione’s feet touched solid ground and she was standing on a porch step that felt rather familiar. She heard a light thud behind her and saw her trunk fall unsupported, from the step behind her followed by her cat. It tumbled slowly, coming to a halt as it had no more steps to fall down and Crookshanks hissed furiously. She grabbed the brass door handle that she was sure nobody out of the wizarding world would be able to see and knocked it thrice against the hard wood of the door. She pulled out her wand tapping it too against the wood in a small pattern, uttering the words “Albus Dumbledore and Severus Snape.” She heard the small click as the door unlocked and swung open, just a few centimetres, allowing her to see the inside of Grimmauld Place.

Opening the door wider, a warm air rushed toward her, with a familiar scent that she could not detect as just one thing. She filled her lungs with this glorious oxygen, walking through the doorway and setting the trunk she had picked up magically with her wand just next to the door and let her feline friend out who sprang from his carry case and his under a nearby chest of drawers, his eyes, which were glowing, being the only part of him visible. As she turned to close the door, she was surprised to see that it had begun to rain. She closed the door as a gush of cold wind made its self present in the house. Hermione heard a small voice behind her as she stood in the doorway.

“Master ought to fix the door as Kreacher knows not how to.” It said huskily.

Hermione turned to greet the small elf that stood perplexed looking at the young women before him.

“Hello Kreacher,” Hermione smiled sweetly.

“Ah, Master’s great friend; Ms Granger!” He said excitedly. He looked at the trunk behind her tiredly. He looked up to Hermione with great big orbs. “Kreacher sees you brought luggage. Kreacher will puts that in the room now then.” He said half heartedly.

“Oh no, that’s quite alright Kreacher, I’ll have one of the boys do that.” Hermione said, resting a hand on her trunk, as if to protect it from the harmless, small creature.

“So kind Ms Granger, so kind. Now Kreacher must get back to the lunch as I can hear the food boiling. Yes, yes, Kreacher must fix up the pastry and the meat, oh and the soup! Oh dear, Kreacher forgot the soup. Bad Kreacher, bad Kreacher!” The small elf began to hit himself across the head with his own skeletal hands. Hermione grabbed Kreacher’s hands in a haste.

“It’s okay Kreacher; you’ll be able to fix it. Can you just tell me where Harry is?” She said, gently settling Kreacher’s hands by his sides, cautiously waiting just a few extra seconds in case he began to hit himself again.

“Oh, Master Potter and his friends are up in the Grand-Living Room.” He said, walking away in the direction of the kitchen.

Hermione began to walk forward. She walked past the kitchen where she saw Kreacher bustling around with boiling pots and chopping up some meat. She went up the stairs quickly, walking towards the living room. As she walked up the stairs, she passed the portrait of Mrs Black, who was now soundly asleep. She remembered last summer as her, Ginny, Harry and Ron had attempted to get the portrait down. It had not come off though, sticking against the wall with such strength that no spell could remove it.

As Hermione made her way past the bedrooms, she heard a familiar voice.

“Hermione, is that you?” She heard it ask. In an instant, a ginger blur came hurdling towards her as if her life depended on it. She grabbed onto Hermione, tightly engulfing her in a rib-cracking hug, squeezing out all the air, just like it had when she was apparating. Hermione drew her arms around the girl.

“Oh Ginny, I’ve missed you so much,” She said, returning the hug with just as much enthusiasm.

“You’ve missed me? I can’t even begin on how much I’ve missed you!” Ginny almost screamed.

“It is her Harry!” Another voice came from behind her. Soon, Hermione was in between three, all coming to hug their friend. She greeted them all with a grin spread across her face. She couldn’t believe how much she had missed them!

Harry ushered the three of them through the doors and into the living room. They all settled down on the floor in a small circle so that they were able to see each other easily. For a few moments, all Hermione could do was grin as she took in the faces of the three people she loved the most other than her parents. She began laughing randomly, the moment taking full control of her body as she fell into fits of uncontrollable giggles. The other three looked awkwardly at each other and then back at Hermione.

“Are you okay ‘Mione?” Harry asked for the three of them.

“I-It’s j-j-just so good to be back with you!” She said through fits of giggles. The others smiled at her as she gained control of herself.

A moment later, she sat up with a straight back, her eyes still watery from the giggles.

“So, what have I missed over the holidays?” She asked.

From this, a string of conversations followed and hours were filled with laughter and bantering and the recounting of their holidays. Harry spoke about his Godson, Teddy, while Ron and Ginny each shared stories from The Burrow and about the rest of their family. It had only been a few weeks, but Hermione felt as if she had been separated from her friends for years.

A while after all four of them had told each other all about their holidays, Hermione remembered her trunk that she had left down and the little gifts she bought them from Australia. She turned to the boys who had just begun to converse about their new Quidditch season with great gusto. She politely interrupted them and they were all ears as she began to speak.

“Ron, Harry?” She began. They looked towards her intently. “I’ve left my trunk downstairs and I asked Kreacher to leave it down there because he looked quite tired. Could you please get it?” She asked.

Ron rolled his eyes, with a smile on his face. “Hermione, Kreacher is a house elf, he will always be tired.” He pointed out matter-of-factly.

“Oh don’t be ridiculous Ronald, it’s polite to be nice sometimes and do a job for someone else. Human-like even.” Hermione teased well naturedly.

After rolling his eyes once more, Ron stood up off the ground walking out the door.

“Well, are you coming Harry?” He called out behind him as he reached the staircase.

“I’m on my way mate,” Harry yelled back. He then turned to Hermione, “It’s not usual for him to do nice things.” He said kiddingly. He then walked out following Ron down the staircase.

“I heard that mate,” The two girls in the room heard Ron say.

“Ouch,” Harry said before laughing. Ginny and Hermione looked at each other before falling into another fit of giggles. Suddenly, Hermione remembered why she was at Grimmauld Place.

“So, Ginny,” she began cautiously, pulling out the letter she had scrunched up and placed in her pocket not long ago. As Ginny saw the piece of paper that she recognised as her letter to Hermione, her smile was wiped of her face and she now wore a sullen expression. Hermione quickly registered the change in her best friends face.

“What? What’s the matter?” She asked, genuinely worried, reaching forward to put a consoling hand on her shoulder.

“It’s Mum.” Ginny replied solemnly. Hermione looked on for a further explanation and her wish was granted not long after Ginny’s reply. “You see, today marks the sixth month of Fred’s...” Her voice trailed off, tears filling her eyes. Hermione scooted over, pulling Ginny into a hug as she began to cry, the tears spilling down her eyes. She continued, facing the old carpet on the ground. “Well, she was cooking in the kitchen today and when she opened a can of something, one of the twins’ jokes popped out of it. It scared the life out of her, but the worst bit was that it then popped up with this writing-in-the-air sort of thing and it said ‘We got you Mum, you should see your face right now!’ Then an image of the twins popped up as well and Fred’s image said ‘Made with love for you, Mum’ and then he winked and so did George and then Mum just broke down. She was angry for a second and then sad and then laughing about their prank and then she went, well she went mental and she set the kitchen on fire,” She finished. “...By accident.” She added hastily, seeing the expression of Hermione.

“Oh Ginny.” Hermione whispered sympathetically. Ginny shook her head, fighting off the tears she had left.

“It’s j-just th-that w-we miss him so much and Mum’s scared she’ll forget about him so she keeps breaking down!” Ginny exclaimed through breaths. She looked up to Hermione with puffy red eyes. “Hermione, I’m scared.” She whispered to her. Hermione’s eyes became glassy, but she fought off the tears knowing that is she began to cry as well, it would be of no help to Ginny. She pulled Ginny’s head onto her shoulder, patting down her hair in a motherly fashion.

“Ginny, there’s nothing to be scared about.” She whispered into her ear. “It’ll be okay. It’ll be alright.” She said, hugging her to her chest. She could feel the tears soak into her clothing and the warmth as they spread, yet all she could think about was how she could help Ginny. She could feel the pain she was bearing, the weight that she was holding on her shoulders. She knew how it felt; loosing somebody she loved, yet she could not think of a thing that would help her friend through this time. She looked at Ginny and pulled her face up; she looked into the tearful eyes of her best friend.

“Ginny,” She said simply. “You have to be strong, you have to fight this off, don’t forget who you are. Remember that you are a strong girl and that no matter how many people you have lost, you have double even triple the amount standing here for you, ready to fight with you. But nobody can fight with you in this one, Gin. You have to do some things alone in life and this is one. You have to fight this for yourself because nobody can fight this for you because it’s all in here.” She said, touching her heart. “You have to be strong for yourself and for your mother, you have to show her how to fight too. Just because she’s a mum, it doesn’t mean she can’t learn something from her daughter, okay?” She said, hoping this would make a difference.

 Suddenly a small smile broke out across Ginny’s face. She wiped away the stray tears with the back of her hand. “Thank-you Hermione,” She said quietly. Hermione just smiled in reply, allowing the silence to gobble the two of them up as Ginny gained control of herself. The silence, however comfortable it was, bore on for a while, until the two boys returned.

“What have we missed?” They asked entering the room.

“What took you so long?” Hermione smoothly changed the subject.

“We were just clearing out a room for you for the night.” Harry answered.

“Is it okay if you share the room with Ginny?” Ron asked.

“As long as she doesn’t bite,” Hermione joked.

Suddenly, Kreacher appeared out of thin air with a crack!

“Lunch is ready!” He announced happily. “Master, a letter arrived for you, Kreacher put it in the kitchen as Kreacher could not leave the food cooking. Kreacher asks if that’s okay Master.” He added worriedly.

“Of course Kreacher,” Harry said quickly, hoping that his house elf would not begin to injure himself against something.

All four of them walked down to the kitchen, where they all sat down eating beef pies and lentil soup. Harry read his letter announcing it was from Dean.

“He’s holding a New Year’s party for close friends and family tonight and would like us to join him ‘in this great celebration’” He added regally. The others laughed at his imitation, chatting excitedly of the party. The girls began to talk about what they would wear at such short notice. Ginny began talking about conjuring something out of the spare cloth she found upstairs and asking the boys what they were going to wear. The two young men rolled their eyes, knowing that their outfit would have to come up to standards with Ginny and with any luck that wouldn’t take too much effort on their behalf.


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