Touch us gently, Time!
Let us glide adown thy stream
Gently -- as we sometimes glide
Through a quiet dream.

-Bryan W. Proctor

Chapter Eighteen

Pillow Talk

Harry backed up so suddenly that he fell off the side of the bed and only missed the corner of the nightstand by a few centimeters. Hermione’s exhausted face disappeared from view in a blur as he toppled out of her sight. He hit the floor with a thud and lay there, muttering to himself incoherently, and staring down into the intricate, natural design of the wooden floor.


Why was Hermione in his bed?


There had to be a logical explanation to why Hermione was in his bed, snuggled up beneath the covers as if she belonged there. It was a trick perhaps, orchestrated by his family, an elaborate practical joke. Soon everyone would jump out, yell surprise, and relieve him of his ever-quickening heartbeat.

“Harry, are you alright?”

Or maybe he was hallucinating. Hermione, maybe, just maybe was a collection of misplaced thoughts and ideas. A manifestation of fear itself. That had to be it. What other possible reason did Ron’s wife have for being in another man’s bed…? His bed… Ginny’s bed…

Harry placed his hands upon the floor and hoisted himself up to his knees. He grabbed hold of the mattress and brought himself eye level with the top of the bed. Hermione was scooting closer to his side to check up on him.

“Hermione…” Harry started, but faltered. The smooth fabric of the bed sheets, the portion that Hermione was wrapped in had dropped several centimeters, revealing her bare shoulders. Harry felt his face growing hot. “Er… Hermione, what are you-”

He stared in horror at the material, unable to look away, as Hermione repositioned herself to listen. “Um…” Harry fumbled for words as the covers slid, centimeter by centimeter downwards, in sync with the small beads of sweat that where glistening downwards upon his forehead.

“Hermione, what are you- ahhh!” Harry spun away quickly just as Hermione’s most delicate upper regions were exposed. He shook his head hastily, trying to block out the image of… trying to rid his mind of… Ron would kill him if he ever found out… Harry sunk his head into his palms and swore to himself. This can’t be happening. She’s like a sister to you…

“Look at you,” Hermione mused from behind him. “Is my prodigal husband embarrassed?”

Harry gulped and repeated the word to himself. “Husband,” he whispered. Oh no.

Before he had more time to reflect, he felt two delicate hands touch his back followed by wet lips against his neck. He bolted forward with a yelp. Without turning around, he said, “Hermione, do you mind, er, I don’t know, covering yourself up for a minute, or something…”

“Harry?” she questioned, with a mixture of hurt and confusion.

“I’m sorry,” he replied, turning only slightly towards her, watching her out of the corner of his eye, but it didn’t stop the discomfort of the situation for him. “It’s just, um, I’m a little groggy…” He averted his gaze once again. He listened to Hermione shuffling around behind him.

“I’m decent now,” she said.

Harry turned around. She was facing him on the bed with an oversized, ratty shirt on. Harry recognized it as one he used to wear many years ago. If he had to guess, Hermione had been wearing it for a long time.

“Better?” she asked, staring at him curiously.

“Thank you,” Harry muttered.

“Where have you been?” Hermione asked.

Harry shook his head. “I’m not sure. I don’t even know what year it is. I can’t remember much.”

“We just celebrated the Twentieth Victory-at-Hogwarts Celebration last week,” Hermione answered. “You’ve been missing for six days. You had me worried sick.”

Harry considered the information. He had left the present and returned about two months earlier than when he left, but he was also missing during this time. In the timeline he had just left, Dudley took over the Ministry and was hunting him down. Harry needed to know if this was still part of reality. “Did Dudley take over the Ministry while I was gone?” he questioned.

Hermione cocked her head to the side in confusion. “Dudley? As in your cousin Dudley?” Hermione asked. “How would he take over the Ministry? He’s just a Muggle.”

“Nevermind, it was part of my dream,” Harry replied, looking at her uneasily. He attempted to change the subject. “So, Hermione, how did we, uh, you know…”

“You don’t remember me, do you?” Hermione interrupted. Harry frowned and she went on, “I was afraid this was going to happen.” She reached to her bedside stand and grabbed a book from the top. She opened to a place that was marked. “I was reading this to make sure I knew what to expect. You took one too many stunning spells to the head.”

She placed her finger on the page and read the words to herself, following her finger as she went down the page. “In most cases, people have experienced short-term memory loss. I think that’s what you have,” she said. She turned the page. “The worst case scenario is that you have permanent memory loss, but I doubt that you have that because you recognized me…”

“It’s not amnesia,” Harry said. If anyone could help him figure out what was going on, Hermione would. He wasn’t sure how he was going to break this kind of news to her. She looked genuinely happy to be his wife. Would she believe him?

Hermione rambled on. “…here’s an interesting case. An inventor in the 1700s was hit in the head with several stunners and it was reported that he woke up with an elaborate fantasy world created in his mind, complete with time travel and parallel universes…”

Harry, who had not been paying too much attention to Hermione, snapped his eyes upwards and on Hermione.

“…of course, if he were alive today, we’d have to send him to St. Mungo’s for being mentally unstable…”

Maybe it wasn’t such a good idea to discuss his problem with Hermione. It was most likely in his best interest to keep his experiences to himself. He couldn’t afford being carted off to the insane asylum. He had no way to prove to anyone that his story was real.

“Harry, are you listening?” Hermione asked, interrupting his thoughts.

“Huh?” Harry asked. “Sorry, what did you say?”

“Your dream,” Hermione replied. “What was it about? It might give us some clues to what happened to you and why you went missing.”

Harry wasn’t so sure if it was a good idea. She might think he was indeed telling a story that he believed to be authentic. Would she immediately try to throw him in St. Mungo’s? He concluded that it wouldn’t hurt to tell the story a little bit as if it were a dream.

“It felt so real,” Harry answered. “I woke up with you and I felt like I was betraying Ron-”

Ron?!” Hermione exclaimed. “Ron Weasley? What do you mean? I wasn’t married to Ron in your dream, was I?”

“Well, yeah…”

Hermione burst out laughing. “Honestly?” Hermione squealed. “In what world would I ever choose to marry someone like Ron over you? Do you remember how he treated me, Harry? It was borderline abuse.”

“He loved you, didn’t he?”

“Is that what you call it?”

Harry simply stared at her. Sure, Ron and Hermione didn’t exactly always see eye-to-eye in his reality, but they didn’t argue to hurt each other. Ron never purposefully hurt Hermione, save the incident with Lavender, and that was before Ron and Hermione realized what they meant to each other. Harry had never seen their relationship as demeaning. If it was, he would have stepped in and put a stop to Ron hurting her. After all, that was his saving people thing Hermione always talked about.

Hermione wiped the tears of laughter from her face. “That was some dream, Harry,” Hermione said. “Next you’ll be telling me that you were married to Ginny.”

Feelings of annoyance were creeping into the pit of his stomach. Harry gave her an uneasy look.

Hermione threw herself on her back and began to giggle boisterously. Harry turned slightly as her knickers peaked out from beneath her shirt. She sat back up. “You were married to Ginny, weren’t you?” Hermione exclaimed. Harry’s face confirmed it. Hermione squealed again. “What did she do? Slip you another love potion?”

“Love potion?” Harry repeated. “Hermione, what are you talking about?”

“What other reason would you have for suddenly falling for Ron’s little sister out of the blue?” Hermione questioned. “I mean, you didn’t even know she existed until she started wearing that suspicious flowery perfume in our sixth year.”

Harry heard her words, but didn’t care about the implications. There was one thing that stuck out in his head: the fact that Ginny was able to do anything at all in his sixth year. Did that mean she was fine? And would Hermione really be joking around so much if the girl had suffered a terrible fate.

“In my dream, Ginny also…” Harry faltered, hoping, praying, and continued, “…she was attacked by a dementor.”

“See, you are starting to remember things,” Hermione said, smiling. “It turned out that Ginny became a Horcrux when… you do remember what a Horcrux is, right?” Harry quickly nodded and urged her to continue. “Ginny was there at Godric’s Hollow as well, and Voldemort’s soul was so unstable, that a piece broke off and bonded with Ginny-”

“I know, I know,” Harry replied impatiently. “What about the Dementor’s Kiss?”

Hermione nodded. “It saved her,” she replied.

Of course!” Harry replied. He couldn’t believe it hadn’t ever occurred to him why the dementors were so interested in him. He was a vessel for two souls. That would be two meals for the price of one. If he would have allowed the horrid Azkaban guards a quick snack, would it have spared his nightmarish fate of thinking he had to die?

“She was lucky,” Hermione continued. “Too many things could have gone wrong that night. What if you hadn’t been able to conjure that Patronus to save her? I shudder to think what could have happened had it taken Ginny’s soul first. And then there’s the whole…”

He allowed Hermione to ramble. As far as he was concerned, this was a victory and he didn’t want to hear anything else of what could have happened. Ginny was spared a fate worse than death. She had her soul. She was intact. He hadn’t failed her again. Harry’s focus slowly turned back to Hermione. Okay, so maybe not a complete victory. There’s the whole deal that I’m married to Hermione.

“…if Dumbledore knew.”

Harry cut her off. “How is Ginny doing these days?” he asked, trying to be as casual as possible.

Hermione tapped the book in her hands. “Wow, Harry, I haven’t talked to her for years,” she admitted. “I suspect she’s doing fine. I heard she and Neville want another child.”

“Neville Longbottom?” Harry questioned.

Harry sank down to the bed and had a sick sort of grin on his face. The changes just kept coming and none of them arrived any easier than the previous ones. Neville and Ginny? Was that a possibility even in the real timeline? He had only suspected a romance between them once, but after Ginny started dating Michael Corner, he didn’t think anything else of it.

“Listen, Harry, I’m going to start breakfast,” Hermione said. She closed the medical book and placed it on the bedside table. She opened the drawer and pulled out another book. “This is my diary throughout the years. I dug it up out of storage for you earlier. It might help you remember.” She extended her hand and presented him with it.

Harry took it into his possession. The cover was a beautiful blue embroidered with the title “Diary of Hermione J. Granger.” It looked to be several years old and in need of some magical repair. Harry fanned through the pages, watching the scribbled words fly past his sight.

The bedroom door burst open, causing Harry to jump. He instinctively went for his wand, but couldn’t find it on him. While the feeling of foreboding lingered, he relaxed as a miniature version of himself raced through into the bedroom. The boy stopped, stared at Harry, and shouted in joy.

“Dad, you’re awake!”

Harry held out his arms to the child he recognized. Although the boy sounded differently, he still looked like his son. “Al, my boy!”

Albus suddenly stopped in mid-movement. His vibrant smile faded into a frown. The boy, who looked no older than twelve or thirteen, scowled and stood there curiously. “What did you call me, Dad?” he questioned.

Hermione, who had slipped a pair of pants on, walked towards the boy. “Don’t mind your father, James. His memories are a little foggy right now. We’re working on it.” She bent down and kissed the boy on the forehead.

“C’mon, Mum, don’t do that,” he complained.

“Did Professor Johnson’s letter arrive yet?” Hermione asked.

James shifted uncomfortably. “Yes,” he said glumly. “I thought she’d be nice about it and let me off the hook. It wasn’t my fault, you know…”

“I know,” Hermione replied. “But you don’t have to let Scorpius get to you like that. Why don’t you try being nice to him for a change instead of hexing him every chance you get?”

“I hate Malfoy,” James growled. “I’m not being nice to him, Mum. He’s a Slytherin. I’m a Gryffindor...”

“I don’t care what house you belong to,” Hermione scolded. “Your father and I worked hard to stop these kinds of prejudices. Just because he’s from Slytherin does NOT mean he’s going to be a dark wizard.”

James rolled his eyes. Hermione shot him a warning look and James yelped. He took off out of the room. Hermione turned back to Harry, who had been watching the scene with great interest. His son, his new son, was nothing like his other sons. It wasn’t that the altered James, or Albus, or whoever was worse, but he didn’t feel right. Maybe his genes and Hermione’s genes…

He paused in mid-thought. Something occurred to him that hadn’t before. He glanced up at Hermione. “That’s our son, right?” Harry asked. “That means… you and me… had sex…”

Hermione nodded.

“…with each other?” Harry finished.

Hermione looked amused. “That is usually how it works,” she said as she exited the room as well.

Harry once again shuddered at the thought. It wasn’t that he found Hermione ugly, it was just the fact that she was… she was Hermione. It didn’t feel right. It felt like… like incest…What had he gotten himself into?

He looked down at the book in his hands. The blue cover shimmered in the morning sun. All the answers were sitting in this diary, locked away between the pages. He knew the sheets of paper were always eager to reveal their secrets. The slightest bit of attention and they would spill their clandestine information. Harry breathed a heavy breath and opened up the diary of Hermione Jean Granger.

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