Actually, it wasn’t the light she noticed first. It was an eerie feeling that some presence was in the room with her watching. She’d had the feeling before, waking up to feel that something had just left; maybe even in the instant it had taken her to open her eyes. That while asleep, she’d been on the verge of some great discovery about the world, something that was lost as soon as she woke.
However, tonight the feeling seemed to stay with her, and as she stared around the room, feeling dazed, stupid, and leaden, she slowly realized that the light was wrong. The moonlight was streaming into the room from the window to her left giving the room a blue translucent glow. However, in the far right corner of the room, just on the other side of the hospital wing doors, the light seemed to have pooled as if reflecting off a mirror.
There were no mirrors in the hospital wing. Hermione sat up slowly. Her sinuses were stuffed up and her eyes felt like hard boiled eggs. She breathed through her mouth and tried to make sense of what could possibly be creating the trick of light that she was seeing.
It looked like a misty pillar of light and instead of fading as she woke up, it seemed to be getting brighter. An ache had taken hold of Hermione’s throat. The light was so beautiful and at the same time almost familiar. It reminded her of the tunnel and the meadow and the…
Suddenly it hit her like a ton of bricks, that was the same kind of light that she had seen when the angel came to her, expect thing time she wasn’t dead. She stared as the light got brighter and brighter, and she felt her whole body began tingling causing tears to pool in her eyes. She could hardly catch her breath.
The light continued to get brighter, just as it had in the meadow. Soon she was able to make out the shape of a young boy walking toward her and rushing at the same time. The light became so bright that she had to shut her eyes and saw red and gold after images like shooting stars behind her eye lids. When she squinted her eyes back open, he was there.
Awe caught at Hermione’s throat again. He was so beautiful that it was frightening. Pale face, with traces of the light still lingering in his features, hair like melted caramel candy, strong shoulders, and a tall graceful body made him look different from any human. He looked more different now than he had in the meadow. Up against the drab, muted, and ordinary background of the hospital wing, he burned like a flaming torch.
Hermione slid off the bed to kneel on the floor. It was an automatic reflex.
“Don’t do that.”
The voice was like silver fire.
“Here, does this help?” The voice had changed becoming somehow more ordinary, more like a normal human voice.
Hermione, staring at the floor, saw the light begin to fade. When she titled her eyes up, the angel looked more ordinary too. Not as luminous as he just was, but more like an impossibly handsome teenage guy.
“I didn’t mean to scare you,” he said smiling.
“Huh,” Hermione whispered. It was all she could get out.
The angel made a circling motion with one arm.
“I can go through all the gibber gabber: be not afraid, I mean you no harm, and all that, but it’s such a waste time, don’t you think?” He peered at her. “Aw, come on, kid, you died earlier today, yesterday actually. This isn’t really all that strange in comparison.”
“Yeah,” Hermione blinked and said with conviction, nodding.
Hermione stood up and perched herself on the edge of her bed. He was right, this was nothing compared to all the other strange things she had encountered after finding out she was a witch. So it hadn’t been a dream. She had really died and there really were such things as angels, and now one was in the room with her, looking almost solid except at the edges.
“Why did you come here?” she asked her curiosity beginning to spike.
He made a noise that, if he hadn’t been an angel, Hermione would have called a snort.
“You don’t think I ever really left do you?” he said chidingly. “I mean, think about it. How did you manage to recover from freezing without even needing more than a hot bath and a warming potion to thaw you out? You were in severe hypothermia, the worst, you were facing pulmonary edema, ventricular fibrillation, and the possible loss of a few of your wee bits.”
He wiggled his fingers and toes. That was when Hermione realized that he was standing several inches off the floor.
“You were in bad shape, kid, but you got out of it without even a touch of frostbite.”
Hermione looked down at her own ten pink fingers. They were tingling oversensitive, but she didn’t have even one blood blister.
“You saved me.”
He gave a half grin and looked sheepish. “Well, it is my job after all.”
“To help people.”
“To help you.”
A barely acknowledge hope was forming in Hermione’s mind. He never really left; it was his job to help her, well that sounded like he was….could he really be…
He was looking sheepish again. “Yeah, I don’t know how to put it, either, but it is true. Did you know that most people think they have one even when they don’t? Somebody did a poll, and most people have an inner certainty that there is some particular, individual spirit watching over them.”
“You’re a guardian angel,” Hermione whispered.
“Yeah, your guardian angel to be precise, and I am here to help you find your heart’s desire.”
She swallowed. “Look,” she said grimly. “The things that I need help with…well, they are not exactly the kind of things that angels would know anything about.”
“Heh,” he grinned, and leaned over in a position that would have unbalanced an ordinary person and waved an imaginary wand over her head. “You shall go to the ball, Cinderella.”
Hermione looked at him. “So you’re my fairy godmother now?”
“Pretty much, but watch the sarcasm, kid.”
He changed to a floating position, his arms clasping his knees, and looked her dead in the eye.
“How about if I said that I know that you secretly have feelings for your best friend, Harry Potter, and that you would kill to have everyone at Hogwarts know who you are, and not just as the brains of the famous Goldren Trio?”
Heat swept up Hermione’s face. Her heart was beating out the slow, hard thumps of embarrassment, and excitement. When he said it out loud like that, it sounded extremely shallow, but then again extremely desirable.
“And you could help with that?” she choked out.
“Believe it or not, yes, however there is a condition,” the angel responded, lowering himself to the floor and moving a step closer to her.
His eyes were like the violet blue at the bottom of a flame.
Leaning towards the angel, “And that is?” Hermione asked.
“You have to trust me.”
“Sometimes it won’t be so easy.”
Hermione giggled, looking away from his eyes and focusing on the graceful body that was back floating in midair again.
“After all I have been through, after you saved my life, how could I not trust you?”
He nodded and then winked. “Okay, let’s prove it.”
“How are we going to do that?” Slowly the feeling of awed incredulity was fading. It was beginning to seem almost normal to talk to this magical being.
“Summon a pair of scissors.”
“Scissors?” Hermione stared at the angel. He stared back. Hermione wasn’t afraid. She didn’t decide not to be, she simply wasn’t.
“How am I supposed to summon a pair of scissors, when I lost my wand in the creek?”
“Well, you could always try wandless magic, or you can check the table next to you,” he responded with a cheeky smile.
Looking over to the table next to her, Hermione saw her wand sitting on the table as if it had always been there.
“Okay,” she said puzzled as to how her wand had ended up on the table.
Shrugging Hermione picked up her wand off the table next to her bed, pointed it into the air and said, “Accio scissors.”
It took about a minute before a medium size silver pair of scissors soared into the hospital wing heading straight towards her bed. The angel glided out of the way of the scissors path and watched as the scissors landed on the bed beside her.
“Now what?” she asked as she picked up the scissors from the bed.
“Go into the bathroom.”
Hermione got up from the bed and went into the little bathroom that was located off to the far right side of the wing just past Pomfrey’s office, and flicked her wand towards the light turning it on.
“And now? You want me to what, cut off my finger?” she said sarcastically.
“No, just your hair.”
In the mirror over the sink, Hermione saw her own jaw drop. She couldn’t see the angel, though, so she turned around.
“Cut my hair? Are you crazy do you realize how much bushier it is going to be if I cut it off? I will end up looking like a poodle.”
“You said you trusted me,” the angel said quietly.
Hermione chanced a look at him. His face was stern and there was something in his eyes that almost scared her, something unknowable and cold, as if he were withdrawing from her.
“It’s the way to prove yourself,” he said. “It’s like taking a vow. If you can do this part, you’re brave enough to do what it takes to get your heart’s desire.” He paused deliberately, “Then again, I guess you are just not Gryffindor enough, I will just have to go away…”
“No,” Hermione said. Most of what he was saying made sense, and as for what she didn’t understand yet – well, she would have to have faith.
She took a nice long breath, turning back towards the mirror, and ran her fingers one more time through the waist length curls before taking hold of a good size lock of hair. Bracketing the hair level with her shoulder, and squeezed the scissors shut.
“See that wasn’t that bad,” the angel was laughing.
He sounded like himself again: warm, teasing, loving, and helpful. Hermione let out her breath, gave a wobbly smile, and devoted herself to the task of cutting off the rest of her long curls. When she was done, she had a head full of bushy shoulder length curls.
“Look in the mirror,” the angel said, although Hermione was already looking into the mirror. “What do you see?”
“Somebody with a bad haircut?”
“Wrong, you see somebody who’s brave, strong, unique, and incidentally gorgeous.”
“But it is all uneven and bushy.”
“No worries, I can fix that. The important thing is that you took the first step yourself. By the way you’d better learn to stop blushing. A girl as beautiful as you has to get used to compliments.”
“You are a funny kind of angel.”
“I told you, it is all part of the job. Now let’s see what I can do with that hair of yours.”
An hour later, Hermione was in bed again, and this time she was tucked neatly under the covers. She was tired, dazed, and very happy.
“Sleep fast,” the angel said. “You’ve got a big day tomorrow.”
“Wait,” Hermione tried to keep her eyes open, “I forgot to ask you.”
“That crying I heard in the woods, the reason I went in the forest, and fell into the creek. Was it a kid? Are they okay?”
There was a brief pause before he answered. “That information is classified, but don’t worry, nobody’s hurt…now.”
Hermione opened one eye at him, but it was clear that he wasn’t going to say anything else on the subject.
“Okay,” she said reluctantly. “Oh, one more thing, what is your name?”
“I told you, Angel.”
Hermione smiled, and was immediately struck by a jaw dropping yawn. Angel leaned down and gave her a small feather light kiss on her forehead. She felt warm, protected, and loved. She fell asleep smiling.
The next morning she woke early and spent a long time convincing Madam Pomfrey into letting her leave the hospital wing early so that she could eat breakfast with her friends in the Great Hall. After making sure that Hermione was completely healed, she reluctantly agreed.
She came down the main stairs to the Great Hall feeling self-conscious and light headed. She braced herself as she walked into the Great Hall. It was early enough that Sunday morning that very few of her fellow students had made their way to breakfast.
“Hermione, Is that you?” Padama Patil called to her. “Oh my god, your hair….”