After the Ministry

by Polydicta

Summary:

There is always a price to pay to lift a dark curse, and Dolohov's curse was particularly nasty.

Disclaimer:

All fiction is derivative and fan fiction doubly so. I make no claim to own any part of any of the following, all I have done is an attempt to put together the elements in a novel fashion, using words and ideas like Lego ™ bricks.

There is no money involved – all I do is to share what I do for my own amusement.

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After the Ministry

.

Harry walked down the row of beds to where he knew she was. He was limping and sore from the fight in the Department of Mysteries. He ached abominably from where Voldemort had possessed him. For some reason no potion or magic could erase the deep bone-ache that had caused.

It was nothing, though, compared with the injury she had sustained.

He knew that she would still be unconscious, but the rules about visiting had never really seemed to apply to him.

"Mr Potter, you should be resting."

He smiled at Madam Pomfrey.

"You know me better than that. I'll rest when I've seen Hermione. In fact, if the chair's comfortable, I'll just rest there."

She smiled thinly. "I don't know, you'll be the death of me. All three of you."

"How is she?"

"I don't know. Unless I know what curse she was hit with, I can't treat her injuries properly."

"It was a purple flame, cast silently with a slashing action. The best guess I can come up with is the Darkfire Curse."

The mediwitch gasped. "I'm not sure I want to know how you know about that one."

"Books. I've had access to a library of dark arts, and I promise that this is the only thing I've used it for."

"I believe you. There is no counter-curse, it has to run it's course."

"No. There is a way. It won't be easy, but there is a way."

Lifting curses never was easy. There were always conditions and costs. Sometimes the price was simply too high.

.

He saw the Death Eater make a slashing motion with his wand, releasing a gout of purple flame that hit Hermione.

She fell, and Harry's mind froze …

Neville said, "there's a pulse," and Harry's mind unfroze. He was once more able to fight.

His friends didn't notice him using more powerful hexes, all of a sudden. Dolohov wouldn't be harming anyone again in a hurry.

"Hermione, come back to me, please. Come back…"

.

She was floating in a purple haze. She hurt, every breath hurt, and she had a pain across her chest, it felt as though she had a white-hot knife in her flesh.

"Harry, where are you …?"

Her voice was whipped away on the wings of the purple storm.

.

Harry sat by her bed, holding her hand. He recited the same words like a mantra.

"I love you, Hermione, come back to me. I can't live without you. You're the most important thing in my life. You are my life …"

He was willing his magic into her flesh, trying to fight the curse that Dolohov had planted there.

.

She felt herself being pulled, but she had no idea how or why. She suddenly knew she was loved. She knew who she had wanted to be loved by. She knew her deepest heart's desire.

There was a memory. The headmaster had led her before a mirror …

"This is the mirror of Erised, it shows you not as you are …"

"… but as you want to be?"

He nodded. "It has few useful functions, least of all as an aid to grooming. But, sometimes, it is good to know your heart. Now, before it is gone forever, please look …"

She had wanted to keep her eyes shut, but curiosity won. The mist in the mirror settled, and she saw herself. A few seconds later He was there too, and then she realised she was … oh dear, a gymslip mum. Oh, but the amazing look in his eyes …

Somehow, the pain had eased, if just a bit.

.

As he sat, praying, for want of a better word, he remembered his last sight of the mirror. His desires had changed, seemingly, and he was no longer alone with his parents. She was there and there were … well, he wouldn't live so long. Would he?

He was running on hope. There was nothing else, since Dolohov's curse was so virulent.

He tried to push his thoughts, his love to her as best he could, to will her back to him.

.

It was getting late and Madam Pomfrey had gone to send Harry back to his dormitory, but the magic levels surrounding the pair had told her otherwise. She decided to take a chance, and brought Harry energising potions.

It was at four in the morning that she was woken. She was asleep at her desk, and something had woken her. Not one of her alarms, a feeling. She could still feel it, a warmth in the air …

.

She was drifting in the purple fog, but it was becoming paler, her normal dreamscape beginning to take hold. Then He was there with her. That look in his eyes, full of concern and, yes, she dared to think it, love.

The pain she felt had changed from merely physical to the deeper anguish of loss.

"Harry?"

"Yes 'Mione. I thought I'd never find you …"

"You were … where are we?"

"You're in the hospital wing at Hogwarts, and I'm with you."

"But …?"

"It was a curse. And I want you back, Hermione. I need you back."

"Harry, I'm dying, aren't I?"

"I don't think so, not any more. You have to have a reason to come back from this curse. I hope that my love is reason enough."

"Oh, Harry, it was a lovely dream, but that's all it ever was. This is nothing but my dying mind trying to make sense of what's happening."

"Hermione, you're being logical. How can I convince you that I'm here? That I really need you, that I really love you?"

He stepped forward and wrapped her in his arms. He bent forward and whispered. "You're my only reason for going on, you know. You are my whole reason for living."

He put his lips to hers and he kissed her. It began as a tentative, searching touch of his lips on hers.

She decided that if this was going to be her last living thought …

She wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him back.

His tongue brushed her lips, requesting entry. She parted her lips, and he began to investigate. Her eyes closed and she deepened the kiss more. Quite unlike her previous fantasies of kissing him, of being kissed by him.

In her dreams it had always been her who initiated the kiss, who had …

Her eyes snapped open and she broke off the kiss. She felt the pain slipping away. She was either dying or living.

"You're really …?"

The fire in his eyes told her all she needed to know.

"I'm ready to come home, Harry. Bring me home."

.

Madam Pomfrey was stood looking at the young couple. Harry was stood, holding Hermione's hand, looking at her face, obviously deep within his mind, deep in his magic.

As she looked on, she saw Hermione's eyes flutter open. She knew that the first thing she saw was Harry's gaze. She saw him smile and bend his head, and she saw the gentle love reflected in his face as his lips met hers in a first, tentative kiss.

She didn't need to wave her wand to know that her patient would be back to school by tonight.