Webs. She bounced between them, their colours constantly changing from one vibrant hue to another. Her being was nothing and non-existent, yet she was right there being something... or maybe even someone? A string was bound around her, ensnared, she dangled dangerously in the air. Suspended from the ground. Gravity was undecided, did it like to see her fall, or was she more fun whilst she had to twirl through the air?
All that surrounded her twisted and swayed before her eyes, like an abstract storm upon the ocean. And she was on this teensy tiny boat which had to navigate through it all. Hurled from one side to the other. No end to the waves which were everywhere. Being thrown from left, to right, left again, upside down. Nausea...
Without full awareness Hermione pushed herself awkwardly to the edge of the object she laid on and vomited. She briefly noted a pair of hands that currently held back her curls, to keep them out of her face and vomit. After the last retch, the Muggle-born slumped down and let her face rest on the edge of what she now knew to be a mattress. Her eyes had not opened while she vomited and she kept them closed still. A shudder went through her body and a shaky breath left between her lips. She was too tired to move. It was a tiredness that was rooted deep in her bones. Within every cell of her being.
Everything inside her hurt, not a fibre in her body was spared from the pain. Her being felt as if it was not her own, as if it did not belong to her. There was a numbness in the receptors of her nerve system, yet not a single sensation went unnoticed. The combination confused the young woman, made everything feel unreal to her. It even made her question the state of her sanity, which are horrifying thoughts to have.
She laid still, literally unable to care enough to move to a more comfortable position. And she listened listlessly to her own breathing; ragged, slow and painful.
Then she felt against her flaming, irritated skin, a caress of cold fingers. No, it was no caress, they wiped something off; fingers that held a wet cloth and it wiped away fluid from around her mouth and nose. Snot and vomit? Hermione was not sure, but it was the likeliest possibility. The gentleness of the fingers and their careful touch could have a person easily fooled that it was not something as filthy as one's vomit which they wiped away.
Hermione's thoughts went back into the past. She had no problem with recollecting what had happened to her in Malfoy Manor. Involuntary shudders danced over her spine, her body was overwhelmed by the mere memories. Yet she stayed with her mind in the past, for there was a gap. The riddles for her were how she had gotten here. And where 'here' was. With whom she currently shared this embarrassingly intimate moment with. And where the fucking fuck are Harry and Ron!?
Hermione's form stirred, she was about to vocalize her questions - if her vocal cords would allow her - but someone beat her to it. The owner of the hands spoke softly, her voice melodious and heavily accented.
"Everything ees well, 'Ermione. 'Arry and Ronald are downstairs." Hands began to gently press against her shoulders, "Ma chérie, eet would be best for you to lie on your back. Your ribs are still sour and fragile, I may 'ave 'ealed them, but they are een a stage wherein they can easily be broken once more. With the littlest of movements or touches."
With the help of Fleur, Hermione rolled in the desired position. It did make it easier for her to breath.
She turned her head towards the quarter-Veela and for the first time since she had awakened she opened her eyes. The light blinded her, it actually hurt her. Even such a simple act actually caused her pain. She had to blink quite a lot, it took her more than a minute to be able to see the profile of the French woman and another minute to be able to see her eyes, nose, and lips. Fleur's features were a combination of concern and gentle kindness. Her silver-blonde hair sat in a messy bun in the nape of her neck. She was beautiful still, always would be.
When the Muggle-born spoke it was barely a whisper, yet it was all that was needed in the silence of the room. "What has happened?" These were not the words Hermione had wanted to ask, for, of course, she knew Fleur would not know anything about Malfoy Manor. But somewhere in the connection between her mind and tongue there had gone something wrong. It had made her formulate the question differently. She had actually wanted to ask about her own whereabouts. Hermione did not truly want to know what kind of state she fared in, but, alas, considering this was about her own body she had little choice in the matter.
"Well, chérie, I was not told what 'as 'appened to you, the boys will not tell me anything, but you 'ave obviously been tortured. Someone 'urted you with the intention to kill you..." Here Fleur paused in both her words and ministrations, of which the later consisted of her applying a salve to the bruises and cuts on Hermione's body. Fleur's eyes flashed with a dangerous spark, a frown settled on her face. Dark blue eyes looked out of the window, Hermione could no longer see them. When the blue eyes came once more into view they avoided brown ones, and instead focussed on Hermione's skin as she continued the process she had paused. With careful fingers, she anointed the younger woman. "Your whole body ees een a battered state; bruises and cuts everywhere. But you know that, of course.
"What you do not know, ees that I 'ealed your broken ribs, 'owever, I still want you to take a portion of the Skele Gro. Not yet, later, at some point today. Because your body ees een a state of shock, which makes eet difficult for me to calculate 'ow eet responds to the potions you digest. So until then, I want you to be extremely careful een every way possible." Fleur paused again, her fingers trailed a bruise on Hermione's stomach. A silence during which the French woman seemed to contemplate several things. When she finally continued, her voice was a mere whisper, "And I only know of a few Curses that can cause this amount of damage upon a person. I don't need to be told which one eet was to know that your internal organs 'ave suffered as well. Alas, there ees not anything specific I can do about that, but I do 'ave a plan to 'eal them on a more basic level. Which should still prove effective.
"But 'Ermione, we 'ave to take your 'ealing process slow. I need to read some books and your body cannot be forced through all the 'ealing eet needs either. Not all at once. For eet would simply be too much. A living being can only take a certain amount of recovery, magical or not."
Hermione had not once averted her eyes from the French woman, she had observed every facial expression which had appeared. It was a curious experience to watch another's lips move and listen to their voice while being half delusional. The younger woman wondered how long she had been here, for Fleur seemed to have it all perfectly planned out. Not a detail was forgotten or dismissed. Something which must have taken a few hours, or one at the very least.
"Thank you, for your good care, Fleur," Hermione murmured, her French was a little hesitant, for she had to think of the words and form the sentence in her head before she could say them aloud. Yet she got a smile from her hostess nonetheless.
"How well do you understand my mother tongue, 'Ermione?"
"My understanding is better than my ability to speak, but maybe there will be time to work on that, now that I am here?"
"'Onestly?" At this Fleur raised one eyebrow at Hermione, as if to convey to the other that she was insulted. Hermione raised her eyebrows in shock. Had she offended the quarter-Veela just now?
Then, all of a sudden, the seriousness was broken with a smile, "I would love to, I dearly miss talking in my own language, English is such a harsh tongue." Fleur chuckled as she saw Hermione's expression change from shock to apprehension. The younger woman smiled weakly in return.
The silence that followed between them was necessary. Because Hermione needed to close her eyes, as the nausea from earlier threatened to return. After a few minutes, the feeling subsided. When she reopened her eyes she had to get used to the light all over again.
Outside the sky had darkened since her awakening, it was no longer a light grey. A storm currently raged above the ocean and it would not be long before it would swallow them in it as well. The French woman looked through the window, while she fiddled with the seams of her sleeves. Then she stood from her seat, turned around and walked to the table near the window, where she shuffled with a few flasks, some linen, and dried herbs.
"For now I want you to drink two more Potions. One is to stabilize and regulate your hormone levels, in the hope that your body will sooner come out of its shock. The other is a basic Healing Potion, which I will dilute so that your body should not feel forced into its recovery."
"You are not even going to ask about the cause of my injuries?" Hermione asked tentatively.
The older woman nodded, "I am doubtful that you would willingly tell me anything about it, no? Or am I mistaken?"
The Muggle-born bit on her lip, she should not have asked. It was one of those questions that could only make things awkward between them.
"That is what I thought as well," Fleur said with a dry tone. "However, I did make my own deductions, after seeing you in the state that you are."
Hermione charged Fleur with a different question, "How is it possible that you have a Potion to regulate one's hormones with? You must have had it in stock. For the herbs are supposed to be of an expensive nature and hard to find in the wild, not to mention the brewing process. It takes ages - well a week - to brew it." Hermione muttered, her mind began to slowly clear the fog away. She was still tired and would be for a very long time, but she was glad that she felt as if her senses and wit slowly awakened nonetheless.
A wry smile appeared on Fleur's lips, "That is what happens when your partner gets bitten by a werewolf. Luckily, I am quite capable to brew the potion myself and I grow the herbs I need in my garden."
The younger woman nodded. These were quite logical explanations, she could have come up with them herself - no, she should have come up with them herself. Maybe she was not yet as sharp as she had thought a moment ago.
"But there is something else, 'Ermione..." The hesitance was evident in her tone as Fleur returned to the side of the bed, she did not sit down, however. Her gaze flicked from Hermione, back to the window and then she truly focussed her dark blue on light brown eyes. "What is written on your arm... I have tried... I truly did..." Her eyes grew full of sorrow, "But everything I did..."
Hermione stretched out her hand - only now did she notice the bandages bound around her underarm - and tried to reach for Fleur's fingers, which hung loosely at her side. When the older woman understood what she wanted Fleur reached out as well. The temperature of their fingers was a complete contrast. But the Muggle-born ignored this and squeezed Fleur's fingertips softly with her own, while she looked up with sincere gratitude. "Thank you, for all that you have tried, please, do not feel bothered by it, you have helped me so much already."
Then Hermione loosened her grip on Fleur's fingers and let her arm fall back on the mattress. Even this softened fall of her limb made Hermione flinch in pain.
She began to fidget a bit, for she wanted to sit up with her back against the headboard. And said as much to Fleur. Who nodded, asked if she wanted help, but the Muggle-born declined. She did not want to be dependent on anybody, not when she could help it.
Hermione gritted her teeth, shards of pain shredded her body. Her ribcage, particularly, burned and stung.
It was a struggle, but after a minute or five, Hermione sat upright. Her breath had grown shallow because of the effort it had taken from her. For a moment she closed her eyes and listened to Fleur's mostly noiseless cluttering.
A hand on her forehead made her open her eyes. "You have a fever; your temperature is way too high."
"Doesn't really surprise me," Hermione said humourlessly, while she eyed the new flasks on the nightstand. Fleur handed one and thereafter the other to Hermione, who drank them without any complains, even though they tasted bitter and sour.
The silence filled the air, it was tense with questions neither of them asked.
Hermione let her eyes travel to the sky. She had not the strength to go outside, but if there was one thing she wanted right now, it was to feel the wind blow through her curls and caress her skin. A wishful sigh left between her lips.
She laid her right hand over the word beneath the bandages and felt her flesh throb. Will it become a scar, or will it forever be an open wound? Because it is cursed, otherwise Fleur would have been able to heal it. "It could have been worse," Hermione mumbled to herself, her eyes no longer saw; they were focussed on images inside her head. Flashes of images; of Bellatrix who had put the blade on Hermione's flesh, of her crazy, dark brown eyes. Hermione's ears filled with echoes of the past, a manic laugh and her own screams which were harmonically supported by Bellatrix' mad cackle.
The quarter-Veela could not stand the helpless look which the younger woman's features could not hide. She sat down on the edge of the mattress and took both hands of the Muggle-born into her own; though she dared not meet Hermione's eyes and instead looked at their hands as if they held all the answers in the world.
But she said nothing.
Fleur wanted to ask her so many questions, not the least was who had done this to her, but she knew better. It was extremely unlikely that the trio would say anything about their 'mission'. Dumbledore had hinted to the Order that there were certain plans in the making, but he had never revealed anything. At least not when she had been present.
Her heart reached out for her companion, but she doubted that the Muggle-born in question registered it all.
They sat like this for a very long time. It granted Hermione a certain peace of mind in which she could rationalize about their current situation, but the more she thought about it the more she realized how much she did not know. She had to ask questions, talk to Harry and Ron, plan their next step, and if possible conduct several different ways to reach their 'next step'.
Her burning curiosity was awakened once more. Even in her half-drugged state, she was able to think about these matters. That had to mean something, right? Maybe I have not gone insane yet.
Hermione's eyes went to Fleur and the silence was broken with her question about how they had arrived here. While she knew that the French woman would not know anything about Malfoy Manor, she could probably provide Hermione with enough information to still her hunger for answers, at least for now.
The quarter-Veela hesitated a moment before she spoke and answered the question. An action which made Hermione slightly suspicious that there had happened more than Fleur told her about. But the Muggle-born decided not to jump to conclusions.
Meanwhile, Fleur decided she should not yet tell Hermione about Dobby's death. The young woman had barely been awake for more than an hour, it would simply be unreasonable. She answered the question to the best of her ability, leaving the 'dead house-Elf part' unspoken.
When she had recounted everything that had transpired since the moment the trio, Luna, Ollivander, Griphook, and Dean had appeared on their doorstep, she slowly let go of Hermione's hands. Fleur wanted to get some clean clothes for Hermione to wear.
The younger woman looked surprised at hearing that there were others here as well.
"'Ermione," Fleur said, "I am going to get you some fresh clothes. Please, don't get out of bed, okay? I want to be there when you stand up for the first time, just to be sure everything goes alright." Hermione noted with appreciation that the French woman did not say that she 'could not' stand up, as so many doctors would have said. In such situations, Hermione always felt tempted to prove the opposite, but now she did not have to. The Muggle-born nodded absentmindedly, for her eyes travelled through the room, it was the first time she truly looked at the furniture.
It was not a big room, but not utterly small either. Her bed was in the corner, farthest from the door. She had a nightstand on her left and a wall with a window on her right, of which the curtains were currently closed. The curtains of the other window had been drawn open by Fleur when she had prepared Hermione's potions. Under this window stood the table on which Fleur had stalled several flasks, herbs, a book which laid open and two others, smaller books, laid closed. A quill and inkpot stood ready to use. There was no parchment, however.
A sour smell caught her attention and to her disdain Hermione noticed the bucket partly hidden behind her nightstand. Embarrassment minutely made her blush. Until she saw something that chilled her to the bones. Her vomit was coloured a dark red, blood. Hermione reasoned that Fleur had not banished the content of the bucket because she probably wanted to examine it further. But how will she get the right equipment she needs therefor?
Hermione distracted herself, for she did not really want to know. Her eyes found the window again and she looked at the stormy clouds. She forced herself to concentrate on the sounds which came from outside. This simple act made a headache appear, a constant throb inside her head. It did not stop the Muggle-born though. But it did prove more difficult than she had anticipated. Yet after several minutes she finally began to discern the rolling waves of the sea from her own breathing, thereafter she noticed the screams of seagulls from far away. The rolling roar of the sea was what made her smile.
The stairs groaned under a new weight and caused Hermione to lose her connection with the waves. This weight could not be from Fleur, since the woman did not pound with her feet like that and thereby came the fact that Hermione knew Fleur had not gone up or down the stairs, she had merely gone to another room on the same floor. The new person walked over the landing and then halted. A low, though still slightly boyish, voice murmured - which she recognized as Ron's voice - and was followed by a softer voice - Fleur's. Hermione could not hear what they said, even though she strained her ears. All the while she stared at the open door of her room. Not long and their voices disappeared, shortly after Ron appeared in the doorway.
His red hair stood up in every direction, his nose was red and with him, he brought cold, fresh air in the room. He came from outside. Hermione envied him.
Ron did not move from his spot for a few seconds, a peculiar expression on his face, one that Hermione could not pinpoint. Then the biggest grin she had ever seen on his face broke through all the seriousness. He walked towards, with a certain way about him, and that was when she knew that this would become awkward between them, that she would feel uncomfortable with him sitting on the chair which Fleur had occupied earlier.
It was at this moment that she noticed how her emotions were kind of attenuated. For the awkwardness did not come. It was rather that she knew that her emotions were too shallow than that she could feel it.
Knowing this she would normally have felt panic creep settle inside her, for, unbeknownst to herself, something had been done to her. But now the panic barely even awakened inside her being. She deduced that Fleur had given her more than only a diluted Healing Potion and a hormone stabiliser. The stupid thing was... She could not even become angry, not now at least.
Ron brought her back from her musings as he took her hand in his. His hands were cold too, Hermione noted. His smile was still evident. "Hermione..." He took in a shuddering breath, blinked, looked away and back again. "I... I am so bloody happy that you are here. That bitch didn't truly get to you. She didn't break you."
She did not get to you.
Hermione's eyes widened slightly at these words. How wrong he was. "Yeah... I am here." Did she sound convincing? The Muggle-born doubted it, but she did not care enough.
She had to change the subject, "Where is Harry? How is he?"
Ron seemed hurt at her question, "He's outside for a bit longer..."
They stayed silent for a while after that, but neither one was deep in thoughts.
She was the first to break it, "We probably look like an old married couple this way." And she got the desired response. A smile at her awkward joke. It gave her the chance to slip her hand from his, for he had kept it tight in his grip all this time. But she had not wanted it, she did not want anything like this. Why was he here, could not he just stay with Harry? She could not take all this attention, not from him. He wanted too much from her.
An uncomfortable nervousness wanted to grasp her around the throat, but the drugs still swam in her veins. The feeling that everything was something abstract - herself included - returned. Was it his words, or just a coincidence? Strange colour combinations danced around the edges of her vision. His lips moved, but she did not hear any of his words. The sound of her blood rushing through her veins was all she could hear and it drowned out the sounds of the world around her.
Hermione gestured towards her left, 'bucket' was all she managed to murmur. She did not think Ron would be fast enough.
As she vomited she hung to the left, for she had tried to lunge towards the bucket herself. One arm gripped the nightstand tightly to keep herself upright and with the other she tried to keep her curls away, but probably failed. To her surprise she felt the same hands help her with her hair - no, it was one hand. Through a watery sight, Hermione saw that Fleur held the bucket with her other hand. Vaguely, as if from a great distance, she registered the sound of shushing French words.
After her last retch, Hermione hung her head. A tremble went through her body. Fleur helped her back on the bed. This time Hermione picked up the cloth herself and wiped her mouth, whilst her hand trembled like crazy. Fleur could not hide the concern in her eyes, thus she busied herself with gathering the fallen clothes from the floor. The ones she had chosen for Hermione to wear.
"Ronald, I think eet is best that you go back to 'Arry," she said while she dusted off the clothes.
Ron looked down at his own fidgety hands, nodded and stood up. "Please get well soon, 'Mione."
"Ron." Her voice was firm, even if it was barely above a whisper. Her displeasure was evident.
"Er, sorry, 'Hermione'. Just used to the nickname..." He got a blush on his cheeks and looked in a shy manner at the young woman. But she had her eyes closed and just laid motionless on the mattress. If she had not been breathing he would have thought she was dead, for she had lost the little colour which had previously been on her cheeks.
"I never liked it, which I have told you a hundred times."
"Yeah, you did." Despite the biting words Ron smiled, for this was a glimmer of the old Hermione. Could this mean that everything would be alright? He needed the answer to be 'yes'.
Suddenly he looked over at Fleur, she had draped the clean clothes over the footboard of the bed and currently looked pointedly at him.
"Right..." He mumbled and began to walk to the door, but then he remembered something and turned around. "Do you think you will be alright to come down in a bit? When the grave is ready?"
Closed eyes shot open, light brown eyes looked bewildered. "The grave? What...? Who?" Hermione was shocked, his words slammed into her blurry mind. Made a hysteric panic settle in the depths of the fog, still, it could not truly rise. Later that day Hermione would be grateful to Fleur's foresight.
All she managed now were mere whispers, whilst the panic wanted her to scream. "Ron, what has happened?" She had to move for she wanted to stand up and go downstairs, she needed to be with Harry. The pain had to be ignored. She tensed her muscles, but two hands on her shoulders kept her to the bed.
"Non! Go downstairs, Ronald! I told you that she ees still weak. Not another word!" Fleur snapped at the boy. Her demanding voice made any response from Ron impossible. Hermione tried to struggle, but Fleur did not let her. The quarter-Veela turned all her attention to the younger woman, "'Ermione, please, listen to me, lay back down. You just vomited and what if you damage your ribs enough to break them again?" Yet she knew better than to wait for sense to kick into Hermione's current state of mind. She reached in one of the pockets of her wool cardigan and emerged with a Sleep Draught - a weak variant on the Dreamless Sleep Draught. The French woman held the younger one's jaw firmly in one hand, pulled the cork out with her teeth and before Hermione could protest she had a dose slip through her throat.
Within seconds sleep came to her. All she could think of was how damned fast Fleur could be. Bet it is her Veela heritage...
Ron watched the interaction, sadness the only emotion which was evident in his eyes.
Now Hermione laid peacefully on the mattress, her curls spread over the cushion. For Ron, it was a beautiful view, but Fleur's hostile presence made him walk out of the room. Once in the doorpost he halted and looked back, "Did you just talk in French to Hermione?" It had taken him to this long to realise.
"Yes, 'Ermione 'as a good understanding of my mother tongue." The quarter-Veela really wanted him out of the room, her tone was as icy and hostile.
He had to know one last thing though, "Where is my brother?"
"I send William to the nearest village, we know a 'erbalist who lives there."
Ron nodded and wondered if his brother was on his way back. As he descended the stairs silence enveloped him back into its arms. And, at this moment, he hated the silence. It had only been broken by visiting Hermione, something about that girl made sounds return. At least to him.
Now it was just silence and him, again. Since the moment they had come silence was all there was. Harry had not said a single word, he had not even nodded or shaken his head. Harry had not given any acknowledgement that he had heard anything, no matter what Ron had said or asked.
Ron closed the back door behind him. And stood still for a moment. Here, in the dunes, the wind was rough and wild. The difference between the wind of the forests and meadows compared to this was easily detectable. Here it had free reign, it could speed up and slow down without obstacles to worry about. The worst was that the wind could pick up the smallest of sand grains and torture its guests with it. If people would try and enjoy a stroll beside the ocean, then they would not even be allowed to see. Because of all the bloody sand grains flying in my damned eyes.
He muttered darkly to himself. Ron began to wallow in his dislike for the silence, but also for this place. And they had not even been here that long.
While he grumbled about everything which was against him in his life he began to walk to where he saw Harry ploughing. Dean simply watched. Ron took a spot next to him whilst he still grumbled. But soon he too fell silent.
It was at this moment that Harry spoke for the first time since they had arrived, though he did not stop digging, nor did he look up. His voice was clear however, his worry evident. "How's Hermione?"
These were his first words. Not even a simple 'How are you, mate?' followed.
It hurt, just as Hermione's enquiry about Harry had hurt him. Something had significantly changed between the three of them ever since Ron had stalked off in anger during their camping. He had felt it ever since he had returned to them, it lingered in the shadows, but it had never been as evident as today. They had never rubbed it in his face like this.
He did his best to keep his bitterness to himself, "Better. Fleur's looking after her."
Had his behaviour really caused this much damage? Ron wanted to mend their friendship. Thus even though the grave could easily be made with magic, he jumped beside Harry and began to help. Dean followed suit. And the three of them shovelled the earth away. In silence. Ron despaired that this day would be a horribly long day with only silence, he gave up on trying to break it.
She filled her lungs with the fresh air. Inhaled as deeply as she could and closed her eyes briefly as she did. Her lungs and throat prickled, it felt as if she had a cough coming, but there was none. Her whole body was just oversensitive. To everything.
Hermione wrapped Fleur's cardigan closer around her body for warmth, she wanted to disappear in it. She could mostly walk on her own strength, but every cell hurt. The Skele-Gro William had brought back from the herbalist had worked for as far as they could tell, but it had made her bones even more painful. In particular her ribs. It was currently the worst of her pains, yet here she stood upright, moving about ever so slowly. Overcoming it all.
The quarter-Veela walked close to her, but she did not support her. She understood Hermione's desire to function on her own. Still, she kept a close eye on her. Something which was plainly visible for everyone. It made Hermione feel like a vulnerable person, one whose lifetime exceeded far above the 80 years old.
And it was not for nothing. A growing dizziness made Hermione grab onto the French woman despite herself. Together they covered the last metres to where the grave was dug. She held onto Fleur's arm with two hands. At first with a death grip, but a soft squeeze of Fleur's hand on her own made Hermione realize that she hurt her. As an automatism, Hermione let go completely and apologized. Fleur just looked forward with a barely visible smile, shook her head as if she did not understand Hermione one bit and hooked their arms together.
This puzzled Hermione for a bit. What exactly made the French woman smile?
Fleur had warned her about the possible consequences which this exercise could cause. However, a well-known part of Hermione's personality was how stubborn she could be and this had not changed since Malfoy Manor. Which could be considered as entertaining, I suppose, pondered the younger woman, in a very foolish way.
Everyone had gathered around the grave. It felt as if in their tiny circle, so far from 'the real and very dangerous world', time truly stood still. The seagulls and other birds had gone; they had fled before the storm would hit the shore. And the storm itself raged still above the sea and was very close, yet it seemed willing to grant them a moment of respite for their small ceremony. With only the growl of the sea forever in the background.
Dobby the house-Elf. A being they were about to give back to the Earth. His soul long since left his body and Hermione had not even been there - conscious - to help. Harry held his tiny friend securely in his arms. Tears welled up in her eyes. This is so unfair...
He had risked his life for them... And it had been brutally taken. Dobby was their saviour.
Hermione did not know the story yet, but she did not need it to know that he had been extremely brave, loyal and daring. He had dared to be a free Elf; he had dared to save them from his former masters. The Muggle-born had great respect for him.
The notion that he had known where they had been was ridiculous, yet it would all make sense, there was a reason for it. Hermione was certain of it. There was a reason for everything and Harry would tell her every single detail, she would force him if she had to.
With the help of Luna and Dean, Harry was able to make it seem as if Dobby was in a peaceful sleep.
It was the first time Hermione saw Harry since she had awoken here in Shell Cottage. He looked physically beaten, yet he had not a single bruise on his skin. The Muggle-born did not need any words from him to know how he currently felt, they had been through too much together. To her, Harry looked as if he felt like he had to carry the weight of the world. All the while he tried to hold on to the last strings which attached him to the ones he loved dearly, the ones that still lived on this damned earth.
She wanted to drag him into her arms and hold him tight, to let his sobs complete her tears. Yet she did not. Something kept her from doing so. Harry could be hard to understand at times. And yet, at the same time, he was the one person she understood best of all. She was not certain if he would appreciate the gesture or would only want to be left alone. Thus she let the moment go.
As Luna spoke her thoughtful words, Hermione could not hold back her sobs. Her sadness was too heavy even for the potion from earlier to keep it at bay. With one hand she pulled the gown even closer to her body and with the other she covered her mouth, to soften the sounds. This was not how she had wanted to salute the house-Elf, yet she could not stop the tears.
To her surprise an arm was draped around her shoulders, she tensed under the weight. Which did not go unnoticed, for the owner of the arm grew hesitant. Still, the arm stayed on her shoulders. Ron even squeezed her shoulders lightly as a comforting gesture. Hermione did not want this.
Her words were mere whispers, only loud enough for the two people beside her, but the message was clear, "Ron, please. Don't do this." She leaned to her right, away from him and nearer to Fleur. Whose arm snuggled around Hermione's waist to pull her slightly farther away.
Ron looked perplexed, but he did as she asked. Slowly he withdrew his arm. A look of embarrassment and hurt replaced the previous expression on his face. He swallowed whatever words he had wanted to say and turned all his attention back to Dobby's ceremony.
The people around Hermione began to thank Dobby's body for what he had done. Fleur and William both kept silent, but their features showed nothing but respect for the small creature. They did not know what had happened, all Harry had shared with them was that the Elf had done great things and that was enough for them.
Harry was the one to magically fill the grave. His shoulders slumped afterwards. Hermione's tears had stopped some time ago, there was too little fluid left in her body for more. They had cleared her head nonetheless. She saw her best friend with clarity. And even with his back turned towards her she saw his desperate wish to be alone, it was visible in every movement he made. It was the least she could do, even though she wanted to stay with him. Sometimes one had to give the other space.
Thus when Fleur tugged Hermione gently back towards the Cottage she let herself be led. The arm still securely around her waist, it was a warmth the Muggle-born greatly appreciated.
It was a struggle to ascend the stairs, but Hermione was able to do it all by herself. With Fleur behind her, in case she would lose her footing and fall backwards. Once they arrived on the floor of her room she had used all her energy reserves. With one hand on the wall at all times, she made her way to her bed and sat down gingerly, as if the bed would splinter to pieces at simplest of touches.
She closed her eyes and concentrated on her ragged breathing, all in order to try and regulate it. After a minute she spoke, "Fleur, how late is it?"
"It is almost 11 o'clock in the morning," Fleur said, mindlessly busying herself with the trinkets scattered in the room.
"When did we arrive?"
The answer to this question took a bit longer, "I believe we brought you in around 3 am? Is there a reason why you want to know this?"
"No, not really... Should there be?"
"I suppose not?"
"Nothing, my dear."
Hermione hummed sarcastically, she did not believe Fleur's last reply, but she could hardly force her to anything. This caused a grin to split the quarter-Veela's sad demeanour, "You don't believe me, 'Ermione?" Her eyes held a teasing spark within them as she looked over her shoulder at the younger woman.
"No," Hermione opened her eyes and smiled as blue and brown connected, "not at all."
It felt weird, to be teasing and smiling so shortly after Dobby's burial, but somehow it was possible between the two of them. Still, their joy was dampened.
Hermione's eyes travelled downwards, to the floorboards. She wanted to sleep, but fear for what would happen when her subconscious would be given free rein... The fear could keep her awake for hours to come.
What would she have to relive?
The mattress caved in on her right, Fleur had sat down next to her, another flask in the palms of her hands.
"Please tell me that is a Dreamless Sleep Draught?"
"Correct, ten points to Gryffindor."
"You are the worst," Hermione bumped their shoulders against one another, ignoring the pain it caused in her bones and down her spine.
"My dear, I am not joking," Fleur's smile was gentle. "Though I cannot give you the house points."
Hermione was silent for a moment in which she looked from the flask to Fleur, back to the flask and at last her eyes stayed on the woman beside her. For a few seconds she tried to convey all the gratitude she felt through her gaze, then she turned her head slightly downward, to hide her embarrassed smile.
The quarter-Veela stood up and said softly, "You need to rest, your body needs it."
A glass of water had been on her nightstand all this time and Hermione watched as Fleur let a generous amount of the draught drip in it.
The younger woman shuffled under the blanket, during which the older one closed the curtains.
When the Muggle-born drank all of the fluid it was only a matter of seconds before everything faded away, the last thing she heard was a soft, "Bonne nuit, 'Ermione."
At first, it did not make much of a difference whether her eyes were open or closed. Yet she kept blinking, in the hope that her eyes would accommodate to the darkness of the room. After a minute or two, Hermione was able to discern furniture from the walls and floor.
Her whole body was stiff, in every movement she felt how sore her muscles were. Then she felt how badly she needed a toilet, she needed it now.
Without a care for her attire, Hermione stumbled out of the bed and as she made her way to the bathroom she leaned on everything in her path. From her nightstand to Fleur's chair and from there to the table, the doorpost came thereafter, the wall and the bathroom door were her last supports. A few steps on her very own strength and then she finally sat down.
A sigh of relief.
As she lessened her burden, she grew aware of the fact how relatively normal her body felt. All this sleep had done her good. Hope blossomed inside her. Yet her rational thoughts echoed in the depths of her mind, telling her she should not truly believe she was healthy once more.
The feeling of hope made her notice how pure her emotions felt, there was no drug to keep them in check. One would describe the notion as a freeing one, yet Hermione still felt caged. She had been here, hidden away for how long? The thought startled her, for she did not know how long she had slept.
Hermione finished her business and washed her hands and face. When she looked up in the mirror, a moment which only consisted of a few seconds, she saw a ghostly white face, matted and messy curls and tired eyes with dark circles which made her look all the paler. How was the latter even possible after the amount of sleep she must have had? For all she knew she had slept for days on end.
Slowly she made her way back to her room, this time she used as little objects for support as possible. At first, she was a bit unstable, but soon the dizziness disappeared and all which remained were sour muscles and ribs.
Hermione casted a wandless Lumos, but even its soft light was harsh to her eyes. It took a long time for her to get accustomed to the difference. Once they did she could see the fresh clothes Fleur had laid on the table and picked them up, her mind was immediately set on revisiting the bathroom. She made the Lumos follow her as she walked tentatively, afraid to wake someone, but once under the warm water of the shower, she was able to relax somewhat and cleaned herself thoroughly.
Fleur had left Hermione a comfortable Muggle attire. One that consisted of a woollen grey sweater, a long-sleeved black shirt, and slightly worn - and therefore comfortable - dark trousers. And to top it off, she had a pair of thick socks and her own boots on her feet.
She felt secure and warm in these clothes, they were not the perfect size - the quarter-Veela was indeed taller and had more bust - but that mattered nothing to her. She liked to wear clothes slightly bigger on homey days anyway, Harry had caught her in one of his sweaters or shirts more often than not during their months of camping in the whole of Britain.
Freshly cleaned, fully awake and hungry the Muggle-born carefully descended the stairs, deliberately spreading her weight over the steps to keep the boards from creaking, which she had heard them do under Ron's weight. They did not make the softest of sounds.
One of the things which really bothered Hermione - to the point that it felt like a bodily pain - was the empty and wandless spot on her right forearm. Her holster contained nothing. Hermione mourned the loss of her wand, it felt as if she had lost the better half of herself. Of course, she could do wandless magic and this would be a perfect opportunity for her to improve her skills, but that did not mean she did not feel bereft.
Those horrible, demonic baboons. Her thoughts were dark whilst she thought of the Snatchers who had taken one of her most precious possessions. In her mind, she called them every ugly, nasty word in her vocabulary.
The Muggle-born stepped into the kitchen. She dimmed her light source further. Her quest started at once; to find herself something edible. The counters of the kitchens were clean, the sink too looked spotless. On the right side of the sink stood a bowl filled with fruit. With a vegetable put between them here and there, two aubergines laid outside the bowl. Hermione could pick up an apple, but she preferred the idea of some bread.
On the left side of the sink there stood a few wooden cutting boards on the counter, which leaned against the pantry. The latter had its content hidden with a white cotton curtain. Behind which were pots and pans, dried herbs, empty and full flasks, kitchen utensils, cutlery, plates, and glasses. But nothing edible. Her eyes strayed back to the fruit bowl. But she shook her head and tried the smaller cupboards. After the second one, Hermione found a loaf of bread.
Without a second thought she summoned a knife and cutting board, she caught them in her hand and cut a few slices from the loaf. Whilst she sliced off the third and fourth she had already taken a bite from the first slice and munched on it contently.
With her treasures securely in her hand, she turned around, only to be scared to death. Without making a single sound, though, not even a surprised gasp. However, she did almost drop two pieces of bread, almost, for her reflexes were fast enough.
In the doorpost to the living room stood a smiling Harry. How long had he been standing there? Had he watched her this whole time, and if so why had he not said a word?
She glared at him for a moment, then started to munch anew on her second slice and offered him the other. His chuckle was the first sound between them. Shortly followed by his voice, he spoke in whispers, "Welcome back to the world of the living." Then he took the offered bread and took a bite.
"Thank you for the welcoming party," her tone was sarcastic, but her warm smile dampened the otherwise joyless words. An easy silence fell between them. In which the Muggle-born took the time to regard her dearest friend. It looked like his insomnia had returned. Underneath his eyes was all the evidence she needed; dark blue circles, even prettier than her own. Had he not slept at all?
"Do you have any plans regarding our goal?" She asked drily as if she was talking about the weather, "It is kind of obvious that you have not been able to sleep because of it."
He nodded, swallowed the food in his mouth and began to tell of his plan. All the while he walked to the counter and cut off another piece of bread, one for Hermione and one for himself. "I think we should talk to Griphook about Gringotts. And Ollivander as well. Because Bellatrix gave us unwittingly some useful information." He took a bite.
During which Hermione nodded and finished his story, "Yes, God knows if she was aware of it or not, either way, she told us there is something else there, something important to..." She did not bother to finish her sentence.
Harry nodded and smiled, he had known she would immediately pick up on where he had left. "And I believe that Griphook will help us get there."
The Muggle-born snorted while she chewed. Then she swallowed and said, "You do realise that you are talking about a Goblin? Which are, in case you have forgotten, and always have been at odds - or worse, at war - with wizards and witches."
He nodded but stayed silent this time. The fact that Griphook was a Goblin had, of course, occurred to him. And that had been one of the things to keep him from his sleep. How were they to persuade a Goblin to help them break into the one place - Gringotts - that gave them power over wizarding kind? Both teenagers thought of the same until Hermione broke their train of thoughts with her whispers.
"How did Dobby die, Harry? You were covered in his blood..."
Green eyes found hers. She could see his jaw muscles tense and she knew from this change in demeanour that he did not like the current subject. Fortunately, the gloomy glimmer in his eyes was replaced by understanding within a few seconds. He relaxed ever so slightly as he sighed heavily.
Could she reach out to him now, would he shy away from her touch?
Hermione stayed where she was, she leaned with her hip against the counter, with her body turned towards Harry, who had mirrored her position after he had cut the last bread slices.
The young man reached into the pocket of his trousers and fished therefrom a knife of which the blade was sheathed in a makeshift scabbard. The metal of the handle practically shined in her Lumos' light. It was a well-polished silver, she would not even be surprised if it proved to be made of white gold. Hermione's heart skipped a beat as she took a closer look. There, clutched in Harry's hand, laid the instrument with which the insult had been carved in the flesh of her left forearm. And, even worse, it had been used to take Dobby's life. Probably with the intention to take one of the humans instead, but that did not make any difference.
The curls on the handle brought shivers to her spine, for she associated curls with gentleness, softness, and innocence. This object, on the other hand, gave the decoration a deathly and ominous vibe.
With trembling fingers, the Muggle-born reached for the knife in Harry's outstretched hand. She held the weapon closer to the light and rotated it, which caused shadows to dance in and around the engraved decoration. The object felt very different than any other Hermione had ever held in her hands, for it was heavy with dark enchantments, yet it was charmed to be light.
After an endless amount of silent observation, she turned her eyes back to Harry and said, "I do wonder, how long did I sleep? What day is it?"
Harry was startled by her question, he had been looking out the window above the sink, deep in thoughts. He blinked a few times, ran his hand through his messy hair as he furrowed his eyebrows. "I believe I heard the toilet flush around a quarter for five. And I suspect it was you, right?" Hermione nodded. "Fleur told me you went to bed almost right after the burial, which was 11 o'clock, so... you slept for about 18 hours?"
She hummed, that was not as long as she had thought. Not that it mattered, for she still felt fresh and as healthy as one could feel after being tortured.
Harry broke through her thoughts, "Shall we take a walk? I am a bit desperate to stretch my legs..." He was silent for a moment and so was Hermione, for she saw that he wanted to say more and waited for him to continue, but he was hesitant. "Is it just me, or... Do you find it difficult to be in a house, instead of our own tent?"
She thought about it for a moment. Then she nodded, ever so slightly, almost as if acknowledging it would worsen the feeling. "Yeah, I understand what you mean... Though I haven't been awake for long enough to be bothered by it, yet."
Harry nodded absentmindedly and looked out the window again. He cleared his throat and began to move to the hall that led to the front door, "Right, let's go for a walk."
"What about Ron?" Hermione said while she put the loaf of bread back in its cupboard.
"What about him?"
"I think he will be angry if he later finds out that we did not ask him to join us."
Harry halted in the process of putting on his jacket to look intently at her. In moments like these, the duo communicated without saying a single word. They did not do it on purpose, it just happened. It was like a second nature, almost. Something had changed during the period that it had been just the two of them, not in one day, but over time. And it had brought them closer together.
It was not as if Harry and she had endless amounts of silent conversations, not yet anyway. All which they did was observe in what kind of mood the other was, not a mood they pretended to be. This also granted them to discern what the other's opinion truly was about the subject or situation they were confronted with.
Ron had been aware of the change, though had not been able to figure out what it was precisely. Whenever Harry and Hermione communicated without their voices it annoyed him terribly because he knew something was going on, and he felt excluded. Which, truth be told, he was.
Harry put his jacket on one of the kitchen chairs, and murmured, "Yeah, you are probably right." A last glance at Hermione, a deep sigh and he turned around to slowly and softly walk back into the living room, in the hope to not wake Dean.
The wind was rough; the last reminder of the storm that had raged above this part of the country only a few hours ago. It made Hermione's spirits lighten up. The invisible fingers ran through her hair and tussled her curls in every direction. And so it did with Harry's and Ron's hair, even though theirs was far shorter. For a passerby, it could look like three wildfires: red, black and brown.
The wind was not the only one of nature's beauties to greet them. For as they neared the pine forest, which was settled not too far from the Cottage further away from the sea, the first bird songs began to swirl around them. The screams of the Seagulls were behind them, they could barely be heard from where the trio walked.
As they came more inland Hermione recognized a Blackbird's song at once, and she thought she heard a Wren as well. The trio mostly walked in silence, their long friendship made sure no awkwardness was between them.
"Hermione," Harry's voice carried concern, something which made her baulk at once, ever so slightly. "I know you don't want to hear this, but you seem to grow stiffer after each hillock walk over..."
"Harry, I feel fine, don't worry." This was not the time Hermione wanted to be enveloped by her friend's concern. She wanted to be able to enjoy this stroll, after being held inside a house for far too long.
"No, you don't, 'Mione," said Ron in a tone that would not tolerate any form of contradiction.
This annoyed Hermione greatly, both his attitude and the damned nickname, she shot him one of her deadliest glares, "Stop it with that stupid nickname of yours!" She snapped and turned furiously around and continued to walk up the dune, to demonstrate how capable she was of this walk.
Maybe the boys were right, maybe Hermione did grow stiffer every few minutes and maybe her body did begin to protest. But she would not listen, she could not... She had to be better, they needed to get on with their search for Horcruxes. There was no time to be ill and weak.
Despite this believe, small pains started to settle in the whole of her being. Dizziness came over her whenever she reached the top of a dune; a headache had begun to throb continuously inside her head, and it gradually grew worse, as did the stiffness; and then there was her breathing, her ribs started to protest, though at the moment she could ignore it over the other pains, yet it was a bad omen nonetheless.
That did not mean she would allow herself to acknowledge them, and in her desperation, she mentally threw her better judgment into the wind. She despised to be the weakest. All she wanted was to walk around and enjoy nature, for as long as they were granted this luxury anyway.
Hermione had always been stubborn and still would be, even now, the option to just keep on walking was something she was willing to choose. No matter what the consequences could be. Yet she could not set a step further, for a hand had grabbed her by the arm and held her in place.
When she looked at Harry with disbelief and annoyance on her face, she saw his concern and bit on her sharp tongue. She swallowed the words she had wanted to throw at her best friend and instead sighed.
There was no point in pretending that she felt fine. They had known her for far too long, she would not be able to fool them, and, to be honest, even a complete stranger could tell that she suffered. If they would walk another kilometre she would probably look like a cripple old lady.
The Muggle-born ran a hand through her hair and asked defeatedly what they wanted to do.
"Let's take a break," Ron suggested. "I am still tired, it's so early."
Harry nodded and pointed to a spot on the top of the dune where an old tree was rooted, yet there were enough sunny spots underneath it to warm up in.
Ron laid down, clearly exhausted from the little sleep, early awakening and the walk. He closed his eyes and within ten minutes his snores filled the air. Luckily, the birds were able to drown him out at times.
Meanwhile, Hermione looked out over the landscape, far in the distance she could see the chimneys and the smoke from Shell Cottage. They had probably walked for an hour, or maybe it was 45 minutes. She had not been often to the beach and dunes in her life. And honestly she had not missed it, there was nothing in landscapes like these that got her romantic heart beating faster. She preferred the deciduous woodlands and meadows.
Above her head something rustled, when she looked up she saw that Harry had climbed into the tree. Why he had climbed in it she would not know for sure, but she suspected he wanted to recreate the feeling of sitting on a broom and being high up in the sky.
"Hello there," she mumbled and smiled. He smiled back, then closed his eyes while he tried to become one with the swaying of the pine tree's branch, which did not look like an easy feat.
Hermione sat down fully in the sun, the shadows were too cold for her liking. Which was only logical, since it was still early in the morning.
She thought back to the story Harry and Ron had told her. Now that they were alone, without anybody who could eavesdrop on them, the two had told her all that had happened since the moment Harry and Ron had been dragged from the room in which Hermione had been tortured in Malfoy Manor.
Dobby had truly saved their lives... He had helped - no, rescued - them without a single doubt, nor any questions asked, something only a few would have done. She desperately wanted to do something for him, but what? What could one do for someone who had left for the afterlife?
A sadness overtook Hermione. It made her throat tighten, she blinked her eyes furiously, willing the tears away.
Still, a certain thought stayed in her head and probably would for the rest of her life. What would have happened if he had not arrived in time? Or had chosen to save himself?
The young woman tried to focus on the bird songs and while she listened she was reminded of one of Luna's melodies.
Over the years she had heard Luna sing and hum several different lullabies, all had been new to the Muggle-born. And since she had not known them she had asked the Ravenclaw who the composers were, only to receive a sly smile in return and another lullaby to tease her curiosity further.
At some point, Hermione had begun to hum them as well, first without being aware of it, but once Ginny had pointed it out to her, there was no escaping from the fact that she truly liked them. She hummed them whenever solitude was too heavy or whenever she was scared or nervous. And often when Luna sang them herself Hermione did not make a sound and listened intently, not even pretending otherwise.
But she did not trust her current state to be able to sing correctly. Thus, it was up to the birds to calm her nerves. For, only now, was she able to see and acknowledge that the state of her health would only worsen, she had pushed herself too far.
The moment Ron awakened the trio began to walk back to the Cottage. While Ron had slept, Harry and Hermione had looked at the landscape before them and had come up with a path that would bring them faster to Shell Cottage. At first, he had protested, afraid that they would get lost, but in the end, Ron gave in. Though the walk back was a bit frosty.
And now that they did not walk over a regular path the trio had to watch out where they set their feet, something Hermione should have realized but had not. It made her stiff body only stiffer.
The pains had not gone away during their break, but neither had they worsened. Now that they walked again the pains did grow heavier. Hermione knew Harry held a close eye on her and she suspected that Ron did as well, even though he was still cross. She did her best to act as if everything was fine, but she felt far from it.
When they passed a certain tree - one that had likely once been one of the largest pine trees in this forest, but which had been reduced to a dead and broken trunk by a storm a long time ago - Hermione knew they were relatively close to the Cottage, which she was thankful of. For a light sheen of cold sweat covered the whole of her body, made her clothes stick to her body, and all her muscles ached. The pain was awfully similar to the Cruciatus Curse, only it was less intense and there was no one to use their hatred or anger to fire it up with. Her headache too had become more prominent, not to mention the sensitive spot on her ribs which certainly had begun to feel more like a burning throb.
As a result, she stumbled over even the smallest unseen stones. Every time she desperately grabbed a nearby tree or Harry, if he were close, for support.
After a few times of almost falling Harry and Ron had both offered their help but she had refused their services stubbornly. Because there was no way she would be helped, not again, she just wanted to be healthy again.
Her headache did more than only cause pain, it made her rational mind waver.
Is it just me or is it terribly warm for a Spring day? She tried to sound jolly when she said this aloud, "Warm, isn't it?" But she was not certain if she succeeded, for her boys did not smile, all she got was two worried faces and one hesitant 'yeah, real hot' from Ron.
The trees around them thinned, they became younger, and the numbers lessened. They were on the edge of the dune's woodland, probably not even a kilometre away from Shell Cottage anymore. A surge of hope went through her body; she could make it, right? Her mind tried to form correct thoughts, but it did not succeed, for illness had nestled inside her and corrupted everything.
Her legs became shaky, but Hermione did not notice. For the familiar nausea had returned, it made her stomach turn round and round inside her. A pearl of sweat trailed down her face to her jawline, from there it travelled to her chin and dropped to the ground.
Suddenly there happened something she would never have thought possible.
Hermione had not anticipated that one of the few trees would try - and succeed - to grab her by her ankle with one of its roots. She was not quick enough to sidestep out of its reach. She fell on her hands and knees. And like one the trees around her started to laugh, though melodious, without any sort emotion in it. One dark shadow, no two, were at either side of her at once. They towered over her, grew closer, touched, but with every motion, Hermione grew more scared of them. Noises reached her, but they did not make any sense. Before she was aware of what happened, she vomited the content of her stomach on the ground. Which was only a little, the few slices of bread from that morning being the only food she had eaten in the past few days. Bile and phlegm followed. Her arms were wrapped around her belly, in the hope to stop the cramps that accompanied each retch.
The retching lessened as bodily fluid became scarce. She tried to look up to one of the shadows, to tell them to back the fuck off, but it felt as if her head rolled right off from her shoulders. Hermione's vision had completely darkened.
Harry held his dearest friend close and away from the vomit. He looked at Ron, who was crouched at her other side. "Come on, let's get her to the Cottage," Harry said, his voice resolute. Though from the inside he was anything but. Chaos and most of all concern and fear for Hermione's wellbeing filled him to the brim. What has just happened?!
Harry and Ron were utterly shocked and scared. The collapse of Hermione had not been something they had anticipated for, not so close to their destination. The extreme downfall of Hermione's health had happened in such a scarily short amount of time. It left them unprepared. They handled the situation as best they could.
They carried her the whole way back to Shell Cottage, neither one had clear minds to think of a levitation spell. Each with one of her arms wrapped around their shoulders and Harry held her waist steady.
From the place of Hermione's collapse they had already been able to see the Cottage clearly in the distance, but now it truly was not that far anymore. Harry said as much and repeated it louder, in the hope that Hermione would hear him. He looked down at her, but her head lolled up and down with every step they took. Fuck, she is unconscious.
Panic burned his hopes to ashes.
Ron murmured every single insult to Merlin he could think of. Everything seemed to go wrong lately, and there was no one better to blame than bloody fucking Merlin himself.
Shell Cottage had never seemed so overwhelmingly mighty and safe. Not that they had seen it too often, but as they truly neared it - only a small fifty metres away from the front door - they felt hope return to them despite everything. Maybe Hermione could still be healed.
Almost at the same time the front door slammed open and through it rushed a slender figure. One with silver blonde hair that danced and twirled in the air and around her face. A face that showed the angriest dark blue eyes both Harry and Ron had ever seen. And she was closely followed by her husband, who did not look pleased either.
French is a wonderful and romantic language. Yet my understanding of it is not as good as I would have liked, thus I have decided - after some serious deliberating with myself - that I do not write in French and instead use the italic caption to let the reader know that the speakers are conversing in a different language.
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