Chapter 1 : Safe And Sound
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Everything was getting to her all at once. She was on the run, along with her two best friends, and one of them had just abandoned them, right before her eyes. Ron, after a lengthy fight with Harry, fled the comfort of the tent and disappeared out into the rain, Hermione at his heels. He apparated with a ‘pop’ and left her alone in the middle of the forest, tears mixing with the harsh rain slipping through the trees.
Hermione returned to the tent in a catatonic state. She passed Harry without a word and collapsed onto her cot across the room. He didn’t dare try to talk to her, feeling guilty for the fight. Ron had accused both Hermione and Harry of being an item and leaving him out in the dust. Although his accusations were false, both Harry and Hermione felt a slight pang of guilt, as they had become quite close and it wasn’t as if the idea hadn’t crossed their minds.
Harry looked over to Hermione from the post he took up at the entrance of the tent. She was lying on her side, eyes almost lifeless, gazing at no particular point on the wooden floor in the centre of the room. Slowly, Hermione lifted her legs up onto the cot and pulled the sleeping bag up over her shoulders. Silent tears fell from her eyes to the pillow under her head. It was only after two hours when she finally spoke. “Harry?”
Stepping fully into the tent, Harry closed the flap and made his way over to Hermione’s cot, sitting on a small chair. “Yeah, Hermione?”
“What if Ron never comes back? The whole wizarding world knows about us by now. Suppose he gets spotted and brought in-” she began before Harry cut her off.
Harry moved some of the damp strands of hair out of her face and tucked them behind her ear. “He’ll be okay. Ron may be thick about a lot of things, but he’ll come around,” he told her. “He’ll be back before you know it.”
She looked up into Harry’s face, eyes red from crying. “What if we don’t make it? Face it Harry, we’ve gotten nowhere fast and I don’t know how much longer I can go on pretending like I’m stronger than I am when all I really want to do is hide.”
He said nothing. Harry had to be strong for the both of them and that meant he couldn’t admit how terrified he was for the both of them. After a long pause, he noticed she had fallen asleep, her small hand wrapped around his. “We’ll make it, Hermione,” he whispered to her, pulling his hand free and regaining his watchful post at the tent entrance, “don’t worry.”
The dust and rubble fell all around them as they sprinted through the disintegrating castle. Spells whizzed past threatening to strike at one wrong move. Fires blazed between the windows, flames licking the stone and turning them black. Hermione coughed and sputtered, lungs filling with smoke. She had to get to clean air. The courtyard. “Ron!” she yelled through the thick grey wall separating them on either side of the hall. “Ron!” she repeated, reaching out her hand, only to have it snap right back, the heat being too much to bear.
Ron, after a few moments of coughing, managed to choke out “Glacio!” The pouring of hot ash instantly turned into snow crystals for a moment as he dashed across the hall, grabbing Hermione and dragging her behind in his wake. They raced down the stairs and stopped dead at the sight unfolding at the open doors to the courtyard.
Bodies of the stunned, cursed, and dead littered the grounds in no particular pattern. Death Eater and student alike lost life in just a few hours of battle. Many of the casualties flew to the walls as giants and those inconvenienced removed the bodies from their way. Spells and curses took to the air, sailing toward the intended. Some connected, others spread across the way pummelling into the brick structure of Hogwarts castle. A jet of green light flew past Hermione’s nose as Ron jerked her back against the open door. The spell, intended for who knows, passed by and collided with the stone steps of the staircase.
Backing into a nearby alcove, Ron tugged Hermione to his side shielding her from any possibility of a rebound curse or a second attempt at her life. But when no such spell came through the doorway, he decided it must have been a spur of the moment thing and the caster had bigger fish to fry at the moment.
Hermione hunched into the corner of the hidden enclosure and began to sob furiously. Tears ran down her cheeks at a pace Ron’s sleeve could not quite keep up with. He gave up on the tears and took to wrapping his arms around the girl he’d loved for so long, kissing the top of her head, but watching the outsides of the nook for any signs of danger. Aside from the shouts and cries from outside the castle and in the main hallways, it seemed they could use this moment to rest and regain their strengths, physically and mentally.
“Hermione, we need to be strong. Not just for our selves but for our friends, and for Harry,” Ron added, thinking about the friend who left them not long ago to track down Voldemort himself. Only he was having trouble believing he could be strong for anyone but her. Usually she was the glue that held them all together, but looking down at the broken girl in his arms, he knew it was his turn to keep them from disappearing when they needed to be the most bonded.
Hermione, though still crying, quieted her sobs and said, “Ron. I don’t want to die.” She looked up into his bright blues and she could see the determination in his face. It was a determination not to let that happen. After everything they had been through, there was no way in hell that he was going to give it up without a fight to the death. And if he had to die to save her, that’s what he would be willing to do.
“You’re not going to die. None of us are. You’ll see, everything will be-” a sound cut his speech into silence. Footsteps trickled down the hall, followed by a dragging sound after each step. Someone was hurt, but there was no way of knowing who it was until they were almost right in front of the little alcove. Hermione’s eyes were wide with fear and she clamped a hand over her mouth, making sure she didn’t give away their whereabouts. Ron held and arm out for her and Hermione dug her face into his chest, not wanting to see what would happen almost right in front of them.
The sound of the footfall came closer and closer along with raged breathing and a higher-pitched grunting with every step. The footsteps stopped for a moment and there was a loud banging noise, followed by a quicker pace in the steps. After a few seconds, Lavender Brown came into view, her leg twisted at an odd angle. Another loud bang followed and she turned around just in time to come face to face with her stalker. A moment later and she was on her back, eyes cold in death. Fenrir Greyback latched onto her neck, devouring the last bit of light from her eyes.
All the colour left in Ron’s face vanished. He felt sick and proceeded to breathe heavily, but silent, for the next few moments. Hermione had not seen the attack, head buried in Ron’s chest at his order. He looked down at her mouthing “we have to get out of here.” She nodded in agreement.
Moments later, the fighting seemed to cease at once on Voldemort’s order, and in a matter of hours Harry Potter would rid the world of one dangerously evil wizard.
Thunder clapped outside the bedroom window. Lightening flashed at an increasing pace as Hermione roused from her sleep. Five years had done nothing for her sleep patterns. Every night it would be the same thing. The flashes of those dying around her as she narrowly escaped a fate similar.
Tonight would be different. She would wake from a loud noise rather then the sound of her own voice. And instead of seeing the flashes of the dead, she sees the flashes of lightening giving off a luminescence in her small bedroom where she sits, a leg draped over her own. Ron stirs as another crack of thunder sounds. Nothing could wake him, not even if the sky was falling. But seeing his peaceful face reminded Hermione; that part of her life is over. Her family was back in England, memories restored, her friends were moving on from the war, rebuilding the lives they had left behind for a brief moment, and she was safe, wrapped in the arms of the man she loved.
Hermione lay back on her pillow looking at Ron’s face. Smiling, she closed her eyes and drifted off into a dreamless sleep. The first of many to come.