Hermione has contracted Dragon Flu, and has strange dreams while she is in hospital.
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.
Hiareswortha is pronounced Hair-swore-tha.
Heoirfridda is pronounced Her-freed-her.
"I'm sorry, Mr Potter, but Miss Granger has contracted Dragon Flu."
"Flu? Surely … I've had flu a couple of times, but…"
"No, Mr Potter, this isn't the same as the common flu, nor even Wizard Flu. It is very serious and can be dangerous for anyone around the patient, quite apart from being contagious. The dreams are quite vivid, and the patient's magic tends to get away from them. Quite frankly, I dread the possibility of you ever contracting it with the things in your past.
"No, I'm sorry, but Miss Granger must stay in complete isolation until she's well on the mend. I will send a message to you as soon as she is fit."
"How dangerous is it for Hermione?"
"She's physically healthy and quite a powerful witch, so there is little danger in the long term. Her biggest challenge is going to be while she recovers, she will be weak and tired for a long time, and she will have missed a lot of classes. The thing you can do that will help her most of all is to take plenty of notes from your classes to give her when she's better. She will be out of the woods in about a week, I would hope."
Harry nodded. "Thank you Madam Pomfrey. Is there any risk that anyone else has contracted it?"
She looked extremely serious. "It takes several days for the symptoms to appear. It is quite possible that anyone who has been in close contact with her will have contracted it too."
The boy nodded his understanding. "I'll keep an eye open then. Thank you."
He turned and left, his shoulders showing the concern he had for his friend.
Poppy Pomfrey turned and entered the hospital wing. Going to the isolation ward, she checked on her patient. Hermione was laying, obviously dreaming as she fidgeted in the high-sided hospital cot. The healer hoped that the anti-magic wards on the room would be strong enough.
Harry said a little prayer to whatever powers there were that his friend would recover safely and soon. Her name was on his lips and her face in his thoughts as he drifted into sleep.
The First Night: The Dark Forest
She was in the forest. It was dark and dank under the trees. She had no idea where she was, but she was afraid. This was a fearful place. Threatening.
She walked, shuddering each time she walked through one of the sticky, strong threads of spider silk.
She knew that Ron was terrified of spiders, but normally she would just shrug aside a spider. This forest was different. She could hear voices, too, just on the edge of hearing. Whispering, a sibilant sussurus of semi-formed speech, like a wireless signal that was off station.
Something moved between the trees causing her to shrink away for a moment. She reached for her wand and continued walking. The wood was getting darker.
She could see the faint glistening of the spider webs on each side of the path, ghostly silver traceries in the air. A tiny shriek passed her lips as she walked through one of the webs, it caught across her face and tangled in her hair.
She clawed and scraped at the web, but it stuck like some kind of glue, sticky and cold.
It was dark enough to require more light, so she illuminated her wand using a lumos spell.
The trees were pressing closer, the cold, damp ground beneath devoid of vegetation. There was no hint of sky now, and she wasn't certain if it was night or just impossibly dark under the canopy.
Something soft and white scuttled away from her path. She shuddered inwardly. It looked like a white centipede, but it was easily a foot long.
Something whirred through the darkness past her ear, driven on gossamer wings supporting a bulbous white body like a bloated maggot.
She had no idea where she was, but she knew that she had to get out of the wood, but when she turned, the path was no longer there, she was forced to continue forward.
She ached, and she was tired. So, so tired. She prayed for a chance to rest, but the forest continued. She had seen the spiders - great, bloated, flesh-coloured sacs on spindly, black, furry legs. They were easily a foot across. They looked nothing like acromantulas, so these were unknown. She had no idea if they were dangerous or not.
She entered a clearing, and she saw a massive tangle of webs, and a trussed bundle hung from the branch of a tree. It moved feebly, and then she saw the face of the person wrapped in the silk. Ron. He was still alive, she thought, and then there came, bursting forth from his torso, a mass of the foul, pinkish spiders. She shrieked and began to run, terror giving wings to her flight.
She became aware of pursuit. She risked a look, and saw thousands of the creatures following her. She cast blasting curses and spider-killing curses to no avail. Even cutting curses only slowed the hell-spawned things. For the first time in her life, she wet herself with fear, fleeing blindly, zig-zagging between trees.
She felt the tears of abject terror sliding down her face. She was going to die, trussed alive and used as food for the young even as she yet breathed.
Then he was there, a glowing figure dressed in armour. Basilisk-leather armour. He raised his wand and sent forth a scything beam of light, midnight blue and like fluid. The spiders halted, and crept away.
"Thank you. Thank you so much, you saved me …"
The voice that answered her seemed to be coming from another world, soft and gentle. She realised that she couldn't make out the knight's features at all.
"You're safe now. I will see you to the other side of the forest when you can continue your journey."
"Thank you, do you have a name?"
The knight's face creased in a smile. "You may call me Hiareswortha if it pleases you."
He pronounced his name hair-e-swore-thah, a word with an ancient ring to it.
"Then thank you Hiareswortha ."
The face smiled again. "Your journey isn't over yet. You have more adventures to experience before you get to your destination …"
Hermione nodded. "Even so…"
And they continued in companionable silence until they reached the edge of the forest. Hermione saw the first blush of the dawn.
"I must leave you here. You may continue your journey in peace from here, for a time at least. You shall not meet any more arachanthesids on your journey."
She turned, but the knight was gone.
She set her face to the east and walked along the empty road, all trace of weariness gone from her limbs.
Hermione lay in her hospital bed feeling ghastly. She ached abominably, her head was spinning and her eyesight was blurred.
She drifted in and out of sleep, rousing somewhat to take the potions she was offered before falling back exhausted. She noticed deep scars and burns on the walls and ceiling, and vaguely wondered what had happened.
The school's healer noticed her gaze.
"They are the marks of your accidental magic. What makes Dragon Flu dangerous is the magic expended during your delirium dreams. At least we know your magical core isn't being affected."
In her mind, she added the single word yet.
For the rest of the day, between sleeping, Hermione pondered her rather strange, surreal nightmare.
The Second Night: The Rock-Strewn Desert
She was walking through a twilit desert, nothing moved. The path before her was simply less filled with rock, firm sand instead of pebbles and loose rocks. It crunched slightly as she walked. The stars filling the deep blue sky were bright but afforded no illumination.
She remarked that the constellations were unfamiliar to her, giving her no clue to her direction.
Boulders were scattered across the land, strewn carelessly by some giant hand like grain in the field. As she walked, they drew closer to the path, hemming her and restricting her to the path by their nearness and their increasing frequency.
Again, she was tiring. She thought she could hear distant voices, indistinct though, conversing like the wind through the trees of home.
Home. Where was home? She vaguely wondered this as she walked
What was home?
Her musings were interrupted by a sound. A chitinous scraping, A hint of menace - of danger.
Her wand was in her hand but she couldn't see to defend herself.
There were more noises. Stealthy scrapings insinuating themselves between stones. Between the narrow gaps.
She caught glimpses of movement, of dark glistenings and articulated appendage. Sudden twitches of darkness.
In the thickening gloom she began to see pincers and stingers and great chitinous jaws.
She knew then that this was the kind of territory that manticores would hunt, those giant scorpion-like chimerae of the dry places.
She began to trot, seeing that the path behind her had become impassable.
There were the bones of small creatures strewn between the rocks, here. Presumably the manticores' previous snacks.
She burst into an open space and saw a writhing body being dissected by a massive, black pincer attached to an equally massive creature. It wasn't a manticore, but it was similar.
As she passed, now in full flight, she saw Neville's dying face.
Whimpering with fear, she ran, hearing the creatures on pursuit of her.
A glance showed her hundreds of the horrors, smaller than the one she had seen feasting on her friend. She tried spells, blasting, cutting and burning, but still they came, their numbers swelling.
Her strength was gone, she was slowing, weak from the exertion and fear.
A white glow and once more there was a knight beside her.
"Fear not, my Lady."
The knight once more cast his midnight-blue magics, and the creatures were deterred.
"Come, Lady Heoirfridda, I will accompany you as far as the edge of the desert."
He said her-freed-ha, it sounded almost an accompaniment to his own name.
She walked with her knight. Her knight? Well…
"My Lord Hiareswortha , my thanks again. What were those things?"
"Mantacates. They hunt in packs rather than alone."
Once more a companionable silence fell between them and her weariness was forgotten.
They reached the edge of the rock-strewn land and she could see her road clearly beneath the twilit sky, in the pre-dawn light.
"Here I must leave you until our next encounter. The road is safe for many leagues."
She turned, realising that she was speaking to empty air. She continued her walk.
Hermione couldn't believe that she actually felt worse today. Her hair and fingernails ached.
Once more, the day was a round of potions, fitful dozing and pondering another dream. A part of her realised that the two dreams were essentially the same dream, and yet they seemed to form part of a narrative.
The highlight of her day was seeing Harry smiling to her through the observation window in the door from the main ward.
The Third Night: The Ancient Moor
Her road passed through a barren moor. There was scrub and rock strewn about the hillsides. The sun had set and the sky was filled with lowering clouds.
She walked and felt the springy turf beneath her feet. From her holidays with her parents, she could see that this was snake country, but she knew that any serpents would have retreated as soon as the sun fell close to the horizon.
She has an unpleasant premonition as he once again heard voices on the air. She stumbled, and in the half-light realised she had put her foot in the track of some creature.
By wand-light she could see that it was the trail that a snake might make. A very large snake. In fact, an enormous snake.
There was only one kind of snake that she knew would grow to that size, and her heart froze in her breast, the breath caught between fear and terror.
She had encountered a basilisk before, and here there was no one to un-petrify her. She turned to retreat, but her way was, as always, blocked, the path swallowed by the landscape. There was only one way forward.
Alert to danger, she crept forward.
She heard slitherings and slidings in the shadows, the occasional hiss.
Her pace quickened. the sounds were more frequent, less stealthy.
There was an open patch of ground. She saw a figure. There writhing in the throes of being destroyed by the venom of the biggest snake she had seen was Ginny Weasley.
She turned and ran, not bothering to try to use magic, she needed to avoid the gaze of the creatures, and she could hear many.
Headlong flight, blinded by panic and the fear of the unseen, she ran across the moors.
Tiring beyond exhaustion, she tripped and fell. A moment she waited her doom, but a silver glow announced that her knight had returned.
"Come Lady Heoirfridda, they will not draw near. Unlike their greater kin, these serpents will not hunt if we are more than one."
"Hiareswortha , again I give thanks to you."
The knight smiled.
"Come, we have much distance to cover before dawn."
Her weariness again passed, they walked in silence until the first light of dawn showed her that they had passed beyond the moor.
"The way is clear once more, My Lady. Until our next meeting."
She turned, and he was gone.
She began to walk.
Today, Poppy Pomfrey was worried. The fact that Hermione hadn't done any magic in her sleep was worrying. This generally indicated that a patient's magical core was either under attack by the disease, or was seriously depleted.
Her monitoring charms indicated that neither was the case, indeed, one of the monitors indicated an increase in ambient magic just after midnight,
Curious, was her only thought.
In some ways, Hermione felt rather better today. Less tired, for a start. When she told the healer that she actually felt a little less sick, that somehow lightened the older woman's mood.
"I didn't fight them last night, I used my logic and just ran. I knew he'd be there in time."
"My Knight, Hiareswortha ."
Harry came and waved again that evening, and he blew her a kiss.
The Fourth Night: The Pass of Draconius
Her road travelled now through barren mountain passes. The stunted trees that occasionally dotted the land were withered and blackened. There was a reek of burned rock, of carrion long dead and of soot.
She was wary. This was dragon country.
There was sufficient light to see the road by, and to see the caves that dotted the entire region.
The sussurus of speech sensed and not heard made her back itch with fear.
She decided to jog her road, and to face her danger at a steady pace.
The quiet movement of scaly bodies was with her as she trotted along the mountain track.
As she crossed a pass, there was a flat area where she saw the expected body. Hagrid's charred remains were being worried by a dozen dragons. Not large, but small and quick.
They saw her and began their pursuit.
Afraid but no longer panicked she continued her run.
She was breathing heavily and close to exhaustion when she was stopped by a barrier, a mountain stream.
"They will not cross it, My Lady, but I will accompany you to the edge of the mountains."
She smiled at her knight.
She saw that his Basilisk-Leather armour was a deep mahogany colour with faint green highlights. Still, his skin glowed with an inner radiance.
"What manner of being are you, My Knight?"
"I am Hiareswortha , that is all, My Lady Heoirfridda. That is who and what I am. I am that which is sent to you in your darkest hour."
The face smiled.
"Now come, there are many miles to go before dawn."
In silence they walked until the mountain passes were behind.
"Thank you Hiareswortha , I assume …"
The knight was gone with the arrival of the sun, and so she walked.
Hermione leaned back against her pillows, she still ached dreadfully and every time she opened her eyes the room swayed and rocked. She decided that today's adjective was dreadful, though that only left ghastly for feeling any worse.
Poppy Pomfrey was becoming increasingly concerned at her charge. Hermione was magically still strong, and that was good, but she was weakening physically, even though she seemed to feel well.
Experience and prescience combined to tell her that the crisis, when it came, would be terrible indeed. The girl was suffering the most dreadful fever overnight, and the fever-limiting spells could only do so much to help.
She was glad for her young charge when Harry came to visit her.
The Fifth Night: The Dead Marshes
She was walking through a marsh. Maybe it was a bog. The way was little better than a trace of solid ground between quaggy ground and stagnant pools punctuated by low stands of straggly marsh-reeds.
It was dark, and there was a smell of decay. The sky was overcast and there was a faint, drifting mist.
Like wraiths and the banners of the dead, she thought.
She knew the pattern her journey would take.
Then she saw them. Dead faces in the water.
I'm in the dead marshes, the thought, the place described in Tolkein's books. I'm inside a myth!
If this were truly the Dead Marshes, then she would have little to fear but getting lost. She wondered if something worse would hunt her here.
She was aware of being watched, but she never saw by whom … or what. The sound she heard, was it the soughing of the unfelt wind, or was it hidden whisperings?
She was aware of movement in the clear, toxic waters, and so she hurried her pace. She was already tiring, and she hadn't reached the centre of the marsh.
At length, she reached a larger island. Here she finally saw her pursuers. The dead bodies in the marsh were following. Half rotten, decaying features and limbs moving deliberately toward her. The hunger on the faces of the dead was plain to see. They thirsted for her blood and hungered for her flesh.
Semi-skeletal fingers tipped by the talon-like nails of the long dead reached for her. The inhuman, jagged teeth snapped and gnashed in anticipation. And the dead lurched in her wake as she turned and jogged form them.
She was tiring, and had nearly ended up in the foul waters before she saw the glow. Her knight.
"Come, they cannot approach while I am with you. Wights tolerate neither light nor love. Now, we must walk, for you are weary beyond belief."
"Hiareswortha , thank you. Yes I do feel more weary than previously."
"Your journey is coming to an end. Soon you will be able to rest, one way or another."
When Harry came to wave hello to his friend, Hermione was sleeping as she had all day. The older witch decided to approach him. She had finally relented from calling him Mr Potter, at least in private.
"Harry, I know this is a terrible thing to ask of you, but I'm worried for Miss Granger. Her fever is extremely high over night, and when the crisis comes I fear that she won't be strong enough to weather the storm…"
"Yes, I'm willing to sit with her. I'm not worried about catching her flu if I can help her somehow. I assume that I will have to be in isolation for a few days to be sure that I haven't caught the flu from her, though?"
The healer nodded. "Four days from the time her fever breaks, and then she will need that time to recover, so you can stay together for then."
She smiled at the teen. She had the impression of an old, old personality in his young head. Perhaps she saw the serious Harry more than most of the staff, but she would trust this boy to behave with absolute responsibility.
"Very well, if you're sure, then I suggest you go to your dorm and get your things. I'll send a note to Professor McGonagall explaining what's happening."
"There is just one thing? Ron's Hermione's boyfriend."
She gave him a look that suggested he had just made some inappropriate joke.
"Are you quite certain of that? Has this so-called boyfriend actually visited Miss Granger at all? Even once for a few minutes?
"Did you know that when she was petrified in your second year, she could hear everything you said? She knew at the time who sat with her every day and evening."
Harry looked shocked and slightly mortified.
"I'll go and get my things, then."
The Sixth Night: The Valley of The Dead
This night saw a change. She was in a valley of bones. Heaped on all sides were the remains of all manner of creatures. Skeletons still articulated, lose bones, and, she thought, the path she was on was made of crushed and broken bones.
She knew she was being stalked, and she had a shrewd idea of what, or who by.
As before, she trotted through the valley.
There were footfalls behind her.
She passed through a dell in which the bodies of many of her friends and family were arrayed, but she pressed on.
Suddenly, she was facing a tall, human skeleton. Polished white bone stood before her, articulated and undeniably active, holding a scythe.
It swung the scythe at her, but the scythe was stopped by a sword.
"You shall not take My Lady. Her time is not now."
"My Lord, my apologies. I knew not that she was yours."
The skeleton bowed low to the knight, Hiareswortha , and stepped aside.
"It is as well, then, that I came."
"Thank you Hiareswortha , again you have saved my life."
"That is my reason to exist. I am here for no other. Now, come, this bone yard stretches for a great many miles."
No further words were spoken until he said, simply, "Until our next meeting, My Lady."
He was gone, and she continued to walk.
Hermione never woke that day, she was weak and had a deathly pallor. Harry had sat with her over night, and had fallen asleep holding her hand around midnight, and he continued he sit with her.
Her breathing was shallow but regular, and the fever seemed to have abated somewhat. Until tonight, he thought.
His throat was sore from talking to her for so long, asking her to be strong, to fight whatever was happening to her.
The healer was worried for the both of them. Harry was clearly in love with the girl, and would be destroyed if ever she died. At least he felt as though he might be helping. Somehow, she thought he was.
The Seventh Night: The Tower of Destiny
She was at the foot of a tower on a rocky promontory. The path had already disappeared behind her, and the only way onward was to mount the stair.
She climbed wearily. She pushed open the door to the tower and found it empty but for a spiral stair which she bent her feet to.
The tower had seemed but a few tens of feet high, but she now seemed to have climbed forever.
Onwards she climbed, having lost count of the stairs several times. At last she reached the top, finding herself in an open-walled room atop the tower. The breath in her throat was harsh and insufficient. She felt light headed and tired.
In the centre of the room was a stone plinth, and on that plinth was stretched the body of a young woman. She couldn't find a pulse, it seemed that the woman was indeed dead.
Poppy Pomfrey was busying herself around her patient. Her fever was at a dangerously high temperature.
Harry sat murmuring words of encouragement to Hermione. As midnight approached, his words became indistinct, his eyes drooped.
Suddenly Harry was asleep, his head pillowed on Hermione's hand. There was an incredible upsurge in the ambient magic in the room.
The healer was about to move him when she realised that there was mist falling from his skin. His temperature was incredibly low, as though he had been frozen by magic. She let him remain, his magic was obviously trying to help.
She was still staring at the woman, feeling herself tired and weak. She considered the possibility of joining the body on the slab, she was so tired.
"She dies for the passing of her love."
She turned and saw her knight.
"Hiareswortha, What do you mean?"
"She refused to see her soul-mate for what he was, and so she is dying for lack of love. Her soul-mate will follow and the world will be plunged into darkness."
"What brought about such a thing?" Speech was an effort.
The knight smiled sadly.
"Books and cleverness. Logic and science. She never looked inside and saw what her soul saw, what her heart yearned for. Great love should not be checked with cold counsel, nor a heart be weighed against a purse."
"But she is not yet dead?" Her head was swimming with exhaustion she was weak and close to collapse.
"No, she is but an inch from death, and may be saved yet."
"How?" There were now black patches in the edges of her vision.
"By true love. A single kiss will do it. To let love into her heart."
She began to weep for the girl. She took in the girl's looks. Her vision was becoming dim.
She looked at her knight through a haze of dark patches and sparks of her failing eyesight.
"And what of me? Do I, too, have a soul-mate?"
"Yes, there is one for you. A single kiss will do it."
Hiareswortha 's skin was losing its magical light.
"Do you understand, Heoirfridda? A single kiss."
She could see, now, that his hair was messy and black. He seemed vaguely familiar.
Swaying, she looked at the girl on the slab, her untidy brown hair. She lost her balance and he caught her.
She reached up and put her arms around her knight's neck. On tip-toe, she grazed his lips with hers.
He responded and, holding her tight, returned the kiss a hundred-fold. The world was filled with light, a dazzling brilliance.
She felt the tower falling away beneath her and she suffered a moment of vertigo as the light became blinding.
Hermione opened her eyes and saw two green eyes staring into hers, the love shining like a beacon. He kissed her lips gently.
"Heoirfridda, my Hermione," he murmured.
Harry nodded, "That's my big secret. That's the name on my birth certificate. The ancient form of Hereward."
"Mr Potter! What are you doing?"
"Hermione has just woken. The curse is lifted."
Poppy Pomfrey looked at him. She had no doubt he was telling the truth. There was no way that she was going to tell either of them that Hermione had actually been dead for almost an hour, especially as she was now, seemingly, awake and on the mend.
A thought hit her. "Curse?"
Harry nodded. "Something Professor Binns said about two heroes of the past. The legend of Hiareswortha and Heoirfridda. I think it was Voldemort again. I've been having these dreams. I think I was sharing 'Mione's dreams …"
He was interrupted by the arrival of Albus Dumbledore. On seeing the young couple he congratulated them on completing their soul-bond.
"Ah," said Pomfrey, "that accounts for everything."
And so it did.