Hermione sat up groggily to find she couldn't move. Two arms held her close to their chest and had a very strong grip on her. She glanced at the watch on his wrist and saw that it was seven am.
"Hermione?" a voice whispered. She turned as much as she could from within George's arms.
"Harry," she said not even attempting a smile as soon as her eyes fell on his sorrowful face.
"Hermione I have to go to Dumbledore's office," he told her. "I'll be back soon."
"What?" George jumped up all traces of sleep gone.
"I have to go somewhere I'll be back in a little while," Harry said.
"I'll come with you," George said pulling out his wand.
"No I'm going alone," he protested.
"No you're not. Hermione go upstairs to Ginny's Dormitory and stay with her so neither of you alone," George told her.
Hermione got to her feet and headed for the stairs but paused to watch them.
"I'm fine George just stay here," Harry told him.
"No can do mate," George told him. "I'm coming."
"No you're not."
"Yes I am."
"Hermione?" Harry begged giving her a pleading look.
"Yeah like he's really going to listen to me," she said whilst shaking her head. "He's even more stubborn than you are and that's saying something."
"You're not coming," he repeated as he turned and left through the portrait hole.
"Yes I am," George said whilst following. "Ginny," he told Hermione before disappearing.
Hermione went up to the fifth year girls' dormitory and sat on one of the empty beds. There was only one other girl apart from Ginny in the room and she assumed the others had been removed from the school following Dumbledore's death.
"What are you doing here 'Mione?" she asked as she rolled over in her bed.
"Your brother refused to let Harry out of his sight so while he is stalking him he told me to find you and stay with you," Hermione told her.
"There's something wrong with the twins," Ginny said whilst shaking her head. "They've always been so over-protective and it's completely crazy."
"I think it's sweet. It shows they care," Hermione said.
"They care more than you think they would," Ginny said. "...How are you?"
"I've been better," she sighed. "You?"
"I think Harry's going to break up with me," she admitted.
"I'm sorry Gin," Hermione said pitifully.
"So you think so too?" Ginny asked miserably.
"Well you know he's just worried about endangering us and stuff that's all. He does love you Ginny but you know we're not going to be around for a while and if Voldemort knows your someone close to him he'll be after you to try and get to Harry. The same thing that happened with Sirius," Hermione explained.
"I suppose," she said sadly.
In the few hours that followed they all got ready, ate breakfast and then boarded the Hogwarts Express. Hermione, George, Fred, Harry, Ron and Ginny sat in a compartment and the topic of conversation drifted to the summer ahead of them.
"I'm considering moving out just to be away from Fleur," Fred said and spat the name with true disgust.
"I agree with Mum, Bill and Tonks should have gotten together," Ginny said.
"Am I the only one that just wants to cut off Bill's ponytail?" George asked making them laugh.
When they finally arrived at Kings Cross station they fought their way onto the platform to find Mrs. Weasley and Mrs. Granger who were chatting nearby.
"Mum," Hermione breathed and she ran to her hugging her tightly.
"How are you Hermione, dear?" she asked.
"Better now," she said.
Hermione spotted Neville, Seamus, Dean and Luna amongst the crowd.
"I have something I need to do," she told them all as she took off in their direction.
"Hey Herm..." Neville began but was cut off when she threw herself at him hugging him tightly. "Hey what's wrong?" he asked when she started crying.
"N-nothing," she said whilst laughing and wiping her eyes. "Sorry about that. I just wanted to say goodbye."
"Hey don't worry! I know it's been a tough year but it's going to work out just fine. We'll see you again next year..." Seamus began.
"I'm afraid not," Hermione interrupted him as she released Neville. "I'm so sorry. I wish we could stay with you all but there's something we have to do. We’re not coming back to Hogwarts."
"We understand," Dean told her as she moved on to hug him. “Take care of yourself.”
“You too,” Hermione said softly before moving to Seamus and then Luna.
"Good luck," they all said and she wished them the best.
She went back to the group in tears.
"You know what maybe we should go talk to them too," Ron said to Harry and they left.
"What's wrong Hermione?" her mum asked.
"It's just been a tough year," she told her.
"Where's the boy?" came the voice of Vernon Dursley.
"He's just saying goodbye to some friends sir," Hermione told him.
When Harry and Ron returned Hermione hugged Harry goodbye and watched as he left with his uncle.
George turned to Hermione. "Are you going to be okay?" he asked whilst wiping tears from her face.
She nodded slowly. "I'll see you in two weeks," she said as she hugged him and left with her mum.
Through those two weeks Hermione made sure she stayed close to her parents constantly knowing that by the end of it they wouldn't even remember her and she made sure they knew she loved them.
Hermione apparated back to her empty house in tears. There was nothing there that suggested they'd ever lived there or that anyone had ever lived there. Her parents were safe in Australia without the slightest knowledge of their true identities. She cried hysterically only composing herself slightly so she was in a state where she could apparate safely. Landing in the Burrow she sunk to her knees in tears.
"Hermione dear, what's wrong?" came the concerned voice of Molly Weasley.
"Did you say Hermione? Is she here?" yelled George from upstairs and it was followed by his hurried footsteps.
"Mum, what happened? What's wrong with her? Was she splinched?" he asked desperately.
"No George she's not harmed I don't think," Mrs. Weasley said.
"Hermione, what's happened?" he asked softly whilst kneeling beside her.
"M-my p-p-parents," she sobbed loudly.
"What? What's happened to them?"
"I erased their m-memories," she said slowly.
George's mouth opened and closed. "They were in danger. I had to," she said.
"We understand Hermione, it's okay. Come on let's get you upstairs," George said slipping an arm underneath her knees and the other around her body and lifting her.
"I was so stupid," she sobbed.
"Hermione it's for their own good. Now you know that they're safe at least," George told her.
"I know," she sighed as George set her down on her bed in Ginny's room.
"What-...?" Ginny began.
"Don't ask," George told her and she nodded.
Hermione wiped her eyes furiously. "I cry more than the average person should."
"You have more to cry about than the average person does," Ginny told her.
"True," Hermione agreed.
"Hermione," Ron greeted her upon entering the room and gave her a quick hug. "Did you...?"
Hermione nodded gravely. "It took all of me."
"It's for the best," Hermione told him glancing at George who gave her a small smile.
"Hey Granger," said Fred as he too came into the room.
"When did my room become a hang out spot?" Ginny asked looking around at them all.
"Well we're not here to see you Ginerva so you can leave if you wish," George told her.
"When does Harry get here?" Hermione asked at which several people sighed and Ginny huffed angrily.
"Well we've got quite a mission to get him," Fred said. "You know because he's still got the trace."
"And I'm not allowed to go," Ginny said irritably.
"You're underage Gin," George told her and she just glared at him.
"Well what's the plan then?" Hermione asked eagerly.
"Um...we're going to have seven Harry's," Ron told her.
"Polyjuice potion?" Hermione demanded.
"Yeah..." Fred began.
"Harry is not going to like that," Hermione frowned. "Brilliant idea though."
"Yeah Moody's not too mad after all," George said.
"When do we go for Harry?" Hermione asked.
"The day after tomorrow," George told her.
The rest of the evening past slowly. Hermione only left the room for dinner and went to bed directly barely speaking. The next day past even slower though Hermione involved herself more in the work going on around in the Burrow helping Fred and George cleaning out Percy's old room which had apparently been completely ignored since his departure.
The next day was a rush. As they prepared to leave for the Dursley's house Hermione found herself fiddling with her wand, moving it from pocket to pocket.
"You alright?" George asked as he sat beside her.
"Yeah. Nervous. You know how I feel about heights," she laughed.
"You'll be fine," he promised her. "Just don't look down."
"Easier said than done," Hermione said.
When they arrived at Privet Drive Moody explained to Harry exactly what was happening which involved all the arguing they had previously expected. Those who needed to took the polyjuice potion each gagging as they did and morphed into Harry duplicates.
"Hermione?" a Harry asked.
"No I'm Ron. Harry?"
"No I'm George," he told him.
"No I'm the real Harry," he said.
"George?" asked another Harry across the room.
"Close I'm Fred. I reckon the Harry looking for Hermione is George and I take it your Hermione," he said.
"Thanks," Hermione said.
"Yeah. Finally," she smiled.
"I really want to hug you but somehow the fact you look like Harry has really put me off," he told her.
She laughed and hugged him. "Be careful."
"Always am," he grinned. "You be careful too." He hugged her tightly before releasing her.
"I'll look after her," came the booming voice of Kingsley.
"And I'll do my best to look after him," said Lupin as they went outside.
Moody counted down and then they took to the sky. It all happened in a blur. Death eaters. Duelling. Screams. After landing safely at their allocated safe house Hermione and Kingsley took their portkey back to the Burrow. Spotting Harry and Ron she ran at them. She hugged them both tightly.
"I love you both," she breathed.
"You too Hermione," they both said.
Just then Fred and Mr. Weasley landed.
"Where's George?" he asked as Hermione ran to hug him. Hermione turned to look at Harry questioningly as she could tell Ron had only just arrived back.
"He um..." Harry mumbled glancing towards the Burrow and just like that Fred was in the house followed by Hermione, Arthur and Ron.
"George," Fred said tears streaming down his face as he looked at his twin.
"W-what happened?" Hermione asked through her own tears.
"He's lost an ear," Molly said as she frantically mopped up the blood.
"Lost an ear?" Fred demanded.
"Yes he'll be fine, he'll be fine," Molly said repeating herself as she continued to work.
Hermione staggered backwards not entirely sure of her footing or whether she could trust herself to keep steady. She backed up against the wall and sunk down it. She was aware she had various cuts that were leaking blood but all she could think about was George. She felt the tears drip on her skin though she didn't realise she had shed any. In the moments that followed George stirred slightly addressing his twin who was knelt in front of him. He made a joke about being holy and Fred and most of the others laughed, some crying tears of relief but Hermione just cried. She watched and cried. Then she learnt of Moody's death and she cried more. Slowly one by one everyone dismissed themselves to their rooms leaving a sleeping George, a crying Hermione and a tearful Fred.
Fred stood from the chair he'd been sitting in beside George and crossed the room to join Hermione. He leant against the wall beside her and sighed deeply taking her hand in his own and squeezing it gently. Hermione could feel the sorrow he was feeling because she was feeling it too and there was something about knowing she wasn’t alone in her despair that comforted her.
"You planning on staying here all night, Hermione?" he asked
"I don't trust myself to try and get up," she told him.
"I've never been quite so terrified," she admitted.
"Are we talking about having to handle both heights and death eaters or...?"
"I'm talking about coming in here and seeing George in that state. I've never experienced such a strong feeling of fear," Hermione said.
"Me neither," he nodded.
"Are you two going to make me get up and drag you upstairs?" asked George groggily as his eyes opened.
"I was just going actually," Fred said defensively. "Unless you want me to stay..."
"I want you to try this thing called sleep you idiot. Go on I'm fine," he told him.
"Alright, alright," Fred sighed and he got up and hugged his twin. "I love you mate."
"Hey knock it off with the sentimental stuff, would you? I'm not dying or anything. You just need to speak a bit louder from now on," George joked. "Love you too though."
Fred grinned and chuckled. "Night Georgie."
"Night Freddie," he smiled as his twin left.
"Hey you too Hermione. Off to bed now," George said softly.
"I don't think I can move," she said with a small smile.
"Hey it's not that bad," he reassured her. "I have a gaping hole in the side of my head but I'm okay otherwise."
"George Weasley this is not something to joke about," she scolded him standing shakily and sitting on the arm of the sofa, by his head.
"Hermione things could be a lot worse than this," he told her seriously as he took her hand gently.
"I know. I'm just so, so sorry," she frowned.
"It's not your fault 'Mione. Plus on the bright side everyone will be able to tell the difference between Fred and I now."
"You really scared me today George. I've never been so worried in my entire life," she told him.
"That's saying something. You've had a lot to worry about," George said. "Hey stop crying!"
"I can't," she laughed and she moved so she could hug him. "Never scare me like that again."
"Wouldn't dream of it," he grinned against her neck.
"Does it hurt?"
"Not really," he said dismissively. "'Mione you're bleeding."
"Oh yeah. You sort of distracted me from my open cuts," she said laughing gently as she pressed her wand over the vein on her wrist, muttering a spell and watching as the blood stopped leaking out and scabs formed across her arms.
"You're mad. You know that, don't you?"
"I guess you rubbed off on me," she smiled. "You need to rest."
George nodded slowly. "Go to bed."
"I will, after you're asleep," she told him.
"I'm glad that you're okay."
"I'm glad you are too."
"Goodnight," Hermione whispered and she kissed his cheek.
"Night," he mumbled as he let his eyelids droop and he fell into a deep sleep.
Hermione went back to the wall where she'd been sat for so many hours and watched George as his chest rose and fell with each breath. An hour or so later she heard footsteps and pulled out her wand to find Fred entering the living room.
"I couldn't sleep," he sighed.
"Me neither," she said as he sunk beside her.
"I wish it had been me. He didn't deserve this."
"You wouldn't have deserved it either Fred," Hermione told him seriously.
"I know I just hate seeing him like this," Fred said. "I never imagined something like this happening especially not to George."
"Me neither," Hermione said. "I just don't think I can take much more of this. I can't see all the pain and the death. It hurts me too much."
"I know," he sighed and silence settled over them. Hermione eventually slipped into sleep followed by Fred.
"Hermione, Fred dears. Did you stay here all night?" asked Molly as she found them there slumped against the wall.
"Mmm...didn't want to leave George," Fred mumbled as he was woken up, moving and hitting his head against Hermione's. "Oops. Sorry."
"Ouch...it's okay. Yeah. I don't even remember falling asleep," Hermione said whilst rubbing her eyes.
"I told you two to go to bed," George said sitting up only for his mum to push him back down. "Hey I feel fine!"
"Okay, okay," Molly sighed letting him sit up straight.
"Sorry Georgie. Didn't really expect us to just leave you though, did you?" Fred asked him.
"Yes I expected you to try and get a decent night of sleep," George said.
"We did sleep well though," Hermione lied. "The wall and floor are a lot more comfortable than they look."
"You realise you can't lie to save your life, right?" George chuckled.
"It was worth a try. How are you feeling?"
"Like there's a whole in the side of my head letting in a draft," he said with a grin.
Hermione frowned as she watched Mrs. Weasley remove the bandage from his head revealing a deep gash where his ear had been attached and let out an audible gasp.
"It's okay 'Mione. It doesn't hurt anymore. It's just like a scratch," he told her.
"I think we should leave it open for now George. Let it dry out fully and then I'll try and charm the skin back in place but as it's been done by dark magic I doubt your ear can be restored," Molly said. "I'm sorry dear."
George nodded. "It's fine. I'm lucky to be alive considering what I've been told happened when Harry used that curse on Malfoy..."
"Harry did what?" Molly demanded.
"Well he attacked Harry first..." Hermione said defensively.
"George do not touch your head!" Mrs. Weasley shouted as he raised his hand to feel the small gap in his head. "You could infect it and that's more stress than I can deal with! The Wedding is in five days, my poor son's missing an ear, Bill and Arthur are looking for Moody's body, the Delacour's are arriving..."
"Mum you're rambling," Fred said and Hermione glared at him in a you-should-be-more-understanding sort of fashion.
"How can I help Mrs. Weasley?" she asked.
Well," Molly began and listed all the jobs which needed doing and from that moment everyone in the house was busy beyond all belief.
Okay I know I squeezed a lot into this chapter and personally I think it was a bit rushed but I'd rather know what you readers thought! So what did you think? Please leave a review for the sake of Steve the review box his life depends on your reviews or he may starve :'( and we don't want Steve to starve, do we?
Hope you enjoyed the chapter! Thanks so much for reading as usual I really appreciate it and can't thank you enough! You guys are the best! Hope you continue to read and enjoy the story!