Two months passed in the blink of an eye, with the making up of work and training. Preparation with Tonks and the two faeries did prove useful for all four of them greatly improved on dueling, although they still had a little ways to go. Hermione and Malfoy were the best at it, so far, until Hermione would be able to take the chance to maim him for life ( whenever that chance arrived).
It was a day before their seclusion began when Hermione was walking down to the Great Hall for breakfast. Not looking, she bumped into Harry, who had a letter clutched in his hand. His eyes had a glazed look to them and were strangely vacant.
“Hey ,” Hermione said.
Harry stopped, not looking her in the face.
“Harry, what’s wrong?”
“They’re dead,” he answered, his voice dull.
“Who, Harry?” Hermione asked worriedly, taking hold of Harry’s arm. He looked up and met her eyes.
“The Dursleys…last night…they were killed.”
Hermione’s eyes widened with shock. “Deatheaters?”
He nodded, and smiled as if he couldn’t believe it. “They killed my uncle and my cousin. But not my aunt. She’s still alive, although she’s a bit mad after what happened.”
“Why…why would they leave her alive?” Hermione questioned apprehensively.
“I dunno,” Harry said. “It still hurts you know, even if it’s not that much. They were still family.” He paused, as if debating on whether or not to ask her what he was about to. “Am I a horrible person for not missing them as much as I should?”
Hermione didn’t answer, but instead gathered Harry into a tight hug.
“Am I?” Harry repeated, crumpling the letter in his tight fist over her shoulder.
“I think…I think that you’ve lost so much Harry,” Hermione said softly in his ear. “That sometimes, you stop caring.”
She released him but held him by his shoulders. “But you have us Harry. You have us, you have the Weasleys, you have the Order. We’re your family.”
Harry smiled weakly at her and followed her into the Great Hall. Ron was already there, Ginny at his side, stuffing his face with a rasher of bacon and biscuits. Hermione rolled her eyes as she sat down.
“Hello,” Ron said cheerily, giving everyone a view of the crushed food in his mouth.
Hermione pulled a disgusted face. “Close your mouth Ron. I don’t want to see a half masticated pig rolling about.”
He obediently shut his mouth after murmuring his apologies to them. Spreading some jam on her toast, Hermione smiled up at Seamus as he sat down.
“Hey,” he replied. His voice sounded shaky, as if he was nervous and he was twiddling his thumbs as if his life depended on it.
“Are you okay?” Ginny questioned, holding in a giggle as he upset his goblet of orange juice when Hermione looked up at him.
“Yes, you do seem a little jumpy Seamus,” the brunette witch told him, looking at him worriedly. “Do you need to see Pomfrey?”
“I’m fine. I was just wondering if you would want to go to Hogsmeade with me on Saturday.”
Hermione didn’t notice that he was speaking to her until she looked up from the newspaper in her lap.
“What?” she asked, noticing that it had gone quiet.
Seamus paled at the thought of repeating his inquisition. “I- I wanted to ask if you’d like to come with me to Hogsmeade this Saturday.”
Ron’s eyes narrowed at the Irishman. “Sorry but she’s going to be busy,” he said rather coldly.
“I didn’t know that you were dating,” Seamus said, raising an eyebrow as he looked back and forth between a confused Hermione and a livid Ron.
“Well, we are-”
“No we’re not!” Hermione interrupted, throwing a violent look at Ron. “It’s just that…I’ll have to let you know later.”
“You don’t have to go with me if you don’t want to,” Seamus said. “I understand that you’ve probably been asked by a lot of blokes-”
“What?… No, I’d love to go with you…I just…I may have plans that day.”
His face brightened considerably and he picked up his books that he had just set down. “Well I’ll see you later tonight Hermione. In the common room?” She nodded.
Seamus got up and left. Ron scowled at his back before turning to Hermione.
“Why are you going with him?” he asked, still glaring at Seamus, who had passed through the doors.
Hermione rolled her eyes. “What’s your problem? It’s not like I’m dating Snape.”
“Nothing…just…argh!” Ron got up, angrily snatching his backpack from the bench. The three watched him go in surprise. “I’ll see you later,” the red head spat out before storming out of the Great Hall.
“You still don’t get it, do you?” Ginny asked Hermione, grinning mischievously.
“Never mind, Hermione,” Ginny said, her creepy smile still on her face.. “I have to study for Potions. Will I see you guys later on tonight?”
Harry and Hermione exchanged glances.
“I guess not,” said the youngest Weasley, returning to her book.
“Well that certainly put a damper on things for the rest of the day,” Hermione said, helping herself to a piece of bacon.
The rest of the day passed and it was nearly night time when Hermione’s charmed watch went off.
“Meet Snape!” it squealed in a high pitched, ear bleeding voice. “Meet Snape!”
Harry looked up at her from his essay on the coffee table. She nodded at him and he began to roll up his essay. Ron came down from the boy’s dormitory, sulking.
“Where're you two going?” he asked, noticing his two best friends packing up hurriedly.
Hermione looked at him incredulously. “Don’t tell me you forgot Ron!” she snapped. “We go into…er…that thing in Potions tonight.”
A look of recognition crossed over the red head’s features and he nodded. Seamus came bounding down the steps, nearly colliding into Ron in the process.
“Sorry bout that mate,” he apologized. He noticed Hermione and quickly strode over to her. Ron scowled behind Seamus’s back.
“Hey, Hermione, about tomorrow-”
“I’d be glad to go with you,” Hermione said. “As friends, right?”
His face fell. “I was kind of thinking as on a date.”
“Oh!” Hermione’s eyes widened. “Oh. I…well…I…”
“You’re going to be kind of busy tomorrow, remember Hermione?” Harry put in. “It’s her mother’s birthday on Sunday and she has to go shopping.”
“I’m sorry Seamus,” Hermione told him, throwing a sideways appreciative glance at Harry and giving Seamus a convincing show. “I completely forgot.”
“It’s fine,” Seamus said, smiling sadly. “Maybe some other time then?”
“Absolutely,” Hermione replied brightly. “Next weekend?” The brunette boy nodded and grinned handsomely at her.
Smiling at Seamus, Hermione grabbed her bag and slipped it onto her shoulders. She ushered the other two boys out of the portrait, waving goodbye to the Irishman behind them.
It took them a good full ten minutes to get down to Snape’s dungeons, mainly because they had to dodge behind statues every time somebody walked by to avoid being seen.
“Ouch!” Hermione complained, punching Ron on his shoulder. “That was my foot!”
“Sorry,” he replied, rubbing his arm where she’d hit him. “You know how clumsy I am.”
Harry stopped and the two nearly ran into him. Once Ron had finished apologizing and Hermione had calmed down, they realized where they were. The door leading to Snape’s dungeon was darker and more foreboding than it was during the day, and certainly more so than in second year when they had stolen ingredients for the Polyjuice Potion.
“Well, go on,” Hermione demanded, inching away from Ron who had almost trodden on her foot again. “Open it, Harry.”
“I don’t want to.”
The brunette witch rolled her eyes and nudged Ron. “You open it then Ron.”
The lights along the walls, which barely did a thing in the dank, cold dungeon corridors, flickered and Hermione jumped. They flickered again and then completely went out, as if a wind had blown across them at the same time.
“Open the door, Harry,” Hermione whispered urgently, clutching onto Ron’s robes. She could make out nothing in the dark. Ron unconsciously put a comforting arm around her.
A muffled sound came from Harry and the distinct jingling sound of a doorknob being turned followed.
“It’s locked,” Harry said, grunting as he threw he weight against the door. Hermione felt him move back. “You try it, Ron.”
“I can’t see a bloody thing Harry. How am I supposed to open the door?”
Hermione pushed them aside and searched the pocket of her jeans for her wand. She groaned when she realized that she didn’t have it.
“Does anyone else have their wand?” she asked.
Something touched her and Hermione let out a little scream, nearly toppling over Harry’s legs, who had decided to sit down.
“Sorry Mione,” Ron said affectionately, grasping her forearm to keep her from falling. “It’s just me.”
She righted herself, running a hand through her hair. “Thanks, Ron. Do you have your wand?”
The slim wood of a wand was pushed into her hand and Hermione turned back to face the door. Harry and Ron stood behind her.
“Alohamora,” Hermione muttered. She patiently waited for the click of a lock being unbound but it never came.
“It didn’t work,” she said sadly.
“On the count of three, we push,” Harry said, standing up. “One…two…three!”
Just as they pushed against the door, it opened, sending the three falling forward into the dimly lit Potions chamber. Hermione groaned and tried to move, only to find that Ron was lying on top of her and Harry was partially lying on him.
Harry slowly got to his feet but jumped when he realized that she was still crushed under Ron.
“Get off, Ron,” Harry said, tugging at the taller boy’s arm.
Ron grunted and touched his head gingerly and frowned when he saw that blood was on it. It seemed as if he had hit his head on the stone floor. He looked down and saw a glowering Hermione, red in the face, who began to hit him.
“This isn’t comfortable,” she snapped angrily, pushing at his chest with her hands. “If you would kindly get off-” Ron stood and dragged her up with him. “- thank you.”
The three got up, only to face a worse site. A very angry Severus Snape and the two amused faces of Meier and Ferro.
“I distinctly remember telling you 9:30,” he snarled, his arms folded over his black clad chest. “It’s now 9:25.”
“It’s only five minutes before Professor,” Harry protested, fixing his glasses.
“Thank you for proving that you can do basic arithmetic, Potter,” Snape snarled at him. Harry scowled darkly at the professor “But I don’t remember telling you to be here five minutes early. When I say a certain time, I mean it.”
“Your clock says 9:30,” Ron pointed out, nodding towards Snape’s magical clock that hung above his desk.
“Weasley!” Snape roared warningly. “Sit down!”
Instead of the usual desks, there were four rigid, wooden chairs. With a flick of his wand, the Potions Master conjured a large mirror which hung beside a door that led into his many storage rooms.
Grudgingly, Snape handed Ron a piece of cloth for his head and a small vial of healing potion that he had retrieved from his desk.
“Clean up Weasley,” he said coldly. “I don’t want you bleeding on my floor.”
Ron glared up at Snape before dabbing at the blood on the side of his face and then downing the potion. The door to the dungeon opened quite roughly and Malfoy walked through, taking the seat next to Hermione.
“Now that you’re all here,” Snape said. “We can begin. And Ms. Granger, you‘ll be with me.”
“Mr. Potter, if you could come with me…” she heard Meier ask behind her.
Hermione stood nervously and walked through the door that Snape held open for her. The room was filled to the ceiling with shelves, except for one wall where there was a large wardrobe. There was, again a wooden chair that he motioned for her to sit on. Hermione sat and swallowed as Snape drew near her face with his wand and another vial of indigo colored potion.
“Don’t flinch,” the Potions Master said, as he placed the cool tip of his wand against her skin. “It’ll only make it worse.”
Hermione was the first one done and she could already tell some changes, although she hadn’t seen herself yet. Her vision was lot clearer and she picked up hues and colors that she didn’t even know existed, off of ordinary objects. Her sense of smell had intensified as did her hearing. Cautiously, she made her way to the large mirror beside the door.
One main difference she immediately noticed was the color of her eyes. They were still amber, but they were changed somehow. They were a tone of russet that she had never seen before on a human, save on Ferro. It was light, like the color of gold, although the hue got darker around her irises where it was the shade of green and silver.
Her hair was pretty much the same, although it was now a little more wavy and ended in curling tendrils instead of her usual cascading curls. While her hair had been an reddish brown normally, it was now the color of melted dark chocolate, so deep, that it seemed black. Her ivory skin was much fairer than it normally was and that, combined with her darker hair and lighter eyes, led to a stunning, beautiful face.
While she was studying her face in the mirror, Harry, Ron and Malfoy stepped in.
“You’re so modest Granger,” Malfoy sneered sarcastically from behind her. She scowled at him through the mirror.
She turned around to examine the other‘s new appearances. Harry had no glasses and his hair was now a dirty blonde. His nose was longer, much more like his dad’s, and he had no scar. His eyes were a bright blue. Ron’s hair was still the same length but it was deep brown. He had no spattering of freckles like he usually did and his eyes, instead of being blue, were now green.
Reluctantly, her eyes fell on Malfoy. He was paler than normal, the same color as she was, and his hair fell a good length past his shoulders. His cheekbones were higher. He looked like he normally did, but not…
“You look almost the same,” Ron said. “But then again you don’t…you don’t look human anymore.”
Hermione’s eyes met with Malfoy’s and they widened in realization. She and Malfoy weren’t suppose to be humans…were they supposed to be faeries? Her fingers went up to touch her ears and she bit back a scream. Instead of her normal ear shape, her fingers had come in contact with a pointed tip. She looked up to see Malfoy smirk at her with a knowing look on his face.
“…beautiful,” she heard Harry finish.
“What?” she asked, tearing her eyes away from Malfoy. “What were you saying?”
“You look beautiful,” Harry repeated, blushing as Hermione raised an eyebrow. “You did before, but there’s something about your eyes…”
At that moment, Meier stepped in next to Malfoy and Hermione realized then they nearly looked identical. They could definitely pass for siblings. The door behind Hermione slammed as Snape stepped out, his bellowing robes following, and walked up to a large cauldron. The potion inside was hot and bubbling, a pale gray color.
“What’s that?” Harry asked, nodding towards the concoction.
“The potion used as the base for the Golems,” Hermione answered, studying the potion from where she was standing. “We have to add in some things from us to make them realistic.”
Snape scowled up at her once more before explaining more thoroughly. “I will split the potion into six bowls, since the six of you are leaving. Eventually it will solidify into a clay like substance, so before this happens, you need to add hair from your head and three drops of blood. I will then take each of your voices and make a copy. The same will be done to your mind.”
“So these Golems are us?” Malfoy asked, his arms crossed over his broad chest as he studied the potion.
“On the outside, yes,” Snape answered. “On the inside, no. Their organs are made from the same substance that’s brewing right now. But they will think like you, talk like you, have the same intelligence as you, make the same decisions as you would in certain situations. So yes, these Golems are copies of you, imprints in clay that will dissolve once you return.”
“Can they do magic?” Hermione asked.
“No,” the potions master said evenly. “The excuse for you, Granger, and Mr. Malfoy, is that you will have to get along for a couple of months without magic. For you others, your punishment of something you have done is the confiscation of your wands-”
Snape abruptly stopped as he glanced down at the congealing mixture and nearly ran to his desk where six silver, rather large bowls were resting. He laid them out around the cauldron and began to carefully pour the potion into the dishes.
“Stop standing there like idiots and come choose a bowl,” Snape snarled at his students when he noticed that the potion was starting to congeal around the sides of the dish.
They all quickly chose a bowl.
“Sit down,” the potions master commanded. “And take out a piece of your hair. Don’t drop it in until I say.”
So the six of them sat there, waiting for Snape’s order when Hermione asked a question.
“How will this work, professor? The Golem will take on the appearance of what we look like now, instead of what we used to look like.”
“Just because your appearance changes does not mean that your DNA does. Now be quiet and do what I say!”
Hermione closed her mouth and turned to glare at Malfoy, who was snickering beside her.
“Drop the hair in now.”
Small puffs of greenish light emitted from the bowls and Hermione began to cough as a smell similar to sulfur rose from the bowls. Snape flicked his wand and a silver needle appeared in front of them.
“Now add three drops of blood. No more, no less.”
They all did so and the smell dissolved. When the smoke cleared, the liquid was now a silver glob of clay, resting at the bottom of the bowl.
“You’re all dismissed,” Snape snapped, levitating the bowls over to his large desk. “I’ll shape the golems myself. I don’t trust you fools to do it correctly.”
“What about the copies of our voices and stuff?” Ron asked as Hermione attempted to push him out of the door.
“They’ve already been produced. What do you think the smoke was for, Weasley?”
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