Author-note: Firstly you might recognise this is a start to a new fic of mine. I had this story a long time in my head but never really the time nor worked out the complete plot but the past months I did work on it. You will face some nice twists, I hope this are nice twist. The first few chapters are bit short but they have to be like that. As always I like to thank my betareader SheWhoHathAPen.
Chapter One: You Won't Cry for My Absence
To err is human, to forgive is divine. - Anonymous
A bright flash rose through the pitch-black sky. It brightened the impression in front of Hermione’s eyes. The ground was muddy and soaked by the heavy rain. Thick raindrops hit her face, wetting her clothes, but she didn’t feel it. Numbness was all she felt. She saw it happening, disbelieving. She saw how the light emerged from the tip of her wand and formed a mist around the sixteen year-old boy who stood a few steps from her. The dark trees around them made this night even darker than it already was. The sound of her yelling the spell still rang through the silence, but a shriek from the girl at her left side interrupted that echo. At that moment, a blaze of green light hit the mist in front of the black haired boy. It barely reached his chest before the light bounced back. The girl at Hermione’s side raised her wand and cried “Stupefy!”
“Cho, move!” the boy yelled, but Cho was caught up, watching how the last remaining Death Eater fell to the ground when the bright green light hit her unguarded body. Without any sound her body fell to ground, lifeless.
“No!” he screamed, and ran to the limp body. Another flash of light rose through the black sky, casting light on Hermione’s pale face, which looked petrified. Coldness wrapped around her body as she saw how Harry shook the dead girl desperately. Hermione hadn’t realized that tears were running down her cheeks or that someone was shaking her, yelling at her. Slowly, ever so slowly, her knees gave in and she dropped to the ground. She started to shake badly as if she were drowning in ice. She breathed faster and faster until she could not fill her lungs anymore. No air filled them. Blackness surrounded her so suddenly that she wasn’t even aware that she hit the ground…
It was warm where she was. So comfortably warm, nearly blissful. She had slept for so long and so well, as if on a cloud. It had been a dreamless sleep. She was waking up, slowly but surely. Hermione felt peaceful and rested for the first time in weeks after such a sleep. Now wide-awake, she opened her eyes. It was dark in the room and there was a screen around her bed. She was almost certain it was night, late night, but where was she? She didn’t know. There was a black hole in Hermione’s memory as to how she had gotten there. It worried her. Normally, she could remember every thing. There had never been a hole in her memory like this until today.
Which day? She didn’t even know that. She knew her name, certainly, and that the last thing she remembered were her exams. Though, the last day of her exams was unclear in her mind. Thinking about it was like looking through a mist. Helplessly, she leaned back on her pillow. Her mind was blank and that was something she couldn’t stand. She breathed in and out deeply, searching desperately for a clue as to where she was. Hermione looked around in the dark. This place was oddly familiar to her she just couldn’t put her finger on it, at first. High ceilings, wide rooms… This could only be Hogwarts.
Slowly it dawned on her. She was in the hospital wing, but why? And why was she alone? Nothing around Hermione told her how long she had been here. Her bedside table was empty. Not even flowers were there. Maybe she had just fainted during her exams. In all truth, Hermione had become obsessed with her studies shortly after her parents had been found dead just few months ago. But for some reason, she didn’t believe that she had fainted. Once more she looked around. There was a short flash of light and she could make out another pair of screens around another bed at the far end of the hospital wing.
Curious, Hermione stood up, with great effort, from her bed. Someone had put her in some pyjamas. Hermione walked over the cold stone floor. The loud slapping of her bare feet rang through the silence. Her breathing and her own quick heartbeat were the only other things she could hear. Once in a while, the faint thunder joined these sounds.
When she reached the screens, Hermione hesitated to reach her hand out, but still decided to throw back the curtains. The next flash of light illuminated the sight in front of her, a horrible sight at which Hermione stared in utter disbelief and agony. On the bed lay the corpse of Cho Chang. Her lifeless eyes were staring right back at Hermione who was no longer able to breath normally. The memories rushed back fast, so painfully fast. Hermione shook her head as she stumbled backwards. She was horror-struck by the sight of Cho. How could she have forgotten it?
Hermione turned around and rushed to the doors. Frantically, she tried to open them but they were locked. With both arms she hammered against the cold wood till her fists hurt and then were finally numb.
“Let me out! I want out!” she cried with all her might.
Suddenly, the door opened and Hermione fell right into Madam Pomfrey’s arms.
“What in the devil’s name-- Miss Granger! You shouldn’t be out of bed,” she stated firmly as she held Hermione an arm’s length away.
“I don’t want to go back there. I can’t go back!” Hermione shouted at Madam Pomfrey as she pointed with a shaky hand into the Hospital wing. Another flash of light showed the nurse the cruel sight.
“Oh my! I told them to bring her down into the Dungeons. Come on. Calm down, Miss Granger. In just a moment she won’t be here anymore.”
Hermione shrugged her hand off harshly. “I won’t go back there. Never! I-I’ll go to Gryffindor Tower!”
“You can’t, Miss Granger,” Madam Pomfrey said finally and she made a move to drag Hermione back into the Hospital Wing. But Hermione just stepped back, and before she knew what she was doing she ran down the deserted corridor.
“Miss Granger, come back! You aren’t supposed to leave the Hospital Wing today…” the stern voice of the nurse echoed faintly after Hermione.
Faster and faster, her bare feet carried her through the castle, over the moving stairs, higher and higher to Gryffindor Tower. She did not register the tears that slowly found their way down her face. All she wanted, all she wished was that the nightmare would end here and now, that the thunderstorm would stop, that the portraits wouldn’t follow her race.
Finally, out of breath, she reached the Fat Lady. “Dear, what are you doing here?” She sounded rather upset, as though angry that it was the middle of the night.
“Dumbledore’s Army!” Hermione panted. With a sigh the portrait swung open.
The common room was empty. Only a faint gleam of a fire was in the fireplace. Strangely enough, Hermione did not feel right in this place. Though nobody was there, though everybody else was sleeping, she felt as if she did not belong there. Slowly the image of that night played back in her mind. She watched as Cho had fallen dead to the ground. The tears that had never stopped falling still glided down her cheeks when Hermione suddenly understood what she had done. What price would she pay for her foolishness? Cho, the love of Harry Potter, was dead because of her, because of Hermione. She had taken away what he loved. The realization of this fact hurt and Hermione understood why she didn’t feel like she belonged to this place. After this she couldn’t bear to met Harry or Ron or anybody else from Gryffindor.
But where would she go? Back to the Hospital Wing? Back to the corpse of Cho Chang? Nothing in this world could take Hermione back there. Certainly, they all already knew what had happened. Devastated, she walked to the couch and sat down. It was still warm in the common room and she leaned back. For a long time she just stared into the remains of the fire before her eyelids begun to feel heavy and, finally, she fell asleep.
The darkness had her back…
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